News / Africa

Arab Leaders Gather in Libya Despite Ongoing Tensions

Arab leaders are preparing to meet this weekend, for the annual Arab League summit. Libya's Colonel Moammar Gadhafi is hosting this year's meeting, despite difficult relations with several Arab leaders.

Arab foreign ministers met behind closed doors Thursday in the Libyan coastal resort town of Sirte to discuss the agenda of the weekend summit of Arab leaders.

Libyan government TV showed Colonel Gadhafi welcoming Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa and shaking hands cordially inside his Bedouin tent which had green camels painted on the canvas.

Amr Moussa told journalists, before entering the closed door session that Arab unity was the single most important concern of the summit.

He says that the current (regional) situation is extremely critical and that the Arabs cannot confront it divided [as they are]. Moreover, he adds, one of the primary reasons behind the critical situation is that very division of the Arabs.

Banners, signs and posters along the palm-lined boulevard leading into the conference center where the summit is being held also urged Arab leaders to remain united. Many Arab observers, however, have noted with irony that Colonel Gadhafi has been responsible for many of the divisions plaguing Arab ranks in recent years.

At last year's summit in Qatar, the Colonel accused King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia of being an "agent of the U.S. and the CIA," creating a brief row. He has also had open spats with the leaders of Egypt, Kuwait, and several North African neighbors during his long tenure as Libyan leader.

Ongoing friction between Libya and Lebanon over the 1978 disappearance of Lebanese Shi'ite religious leader Moussa al-Sadr, ostensibly while in Libya, is behind the announcement that Lebanese President Michel Suleiman will not attend the Libya summit.

Media reports also said that Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari briefly walked out of Thursday's meeting, angry over public comments by Mr. Gadhafi pledging support to a group of Saddam loyalists he met in Libya earlier this week.

Professor Hilal Khashan of the American University of Beirut says that Arab summits invariably invoke the time-honored theme of Arab unity, but that they never seem to achieve that goal.

"I have been in constant contact with Arab summits since the first one held in January 1963. If I were to base my judgement on the past, I'm inclined to assume that this new summit, which will be boycotted by more than half [of all] Arab presidents and monarchs will amount practically to nothing," he said.

Khashan went on to say that despite Mr. Gadhafi's reputation for creating spectacles at Arab summits, he doubts that the Colonel wants to antagonize his fellow leaders, this year, since he ultimately needs their support for plans to have his sons succeed him when he dies.

"I think Gadhafi's main concern right now is not to quarrel with Arab leaders, but to ensure smooth succession and to place his sons in key positions, so that they will replace him, one of these days," he said.

The ongoing tensions in Jerusalem and the Palestinian-Israeli crisis will be at the top of the agenda of the  summit. 27 items in total are reported to be on the agenda to be discussed by the Arab leaders. The Palestinians are seeking a strong Arab stance in the face of Israel's plans to expand Jewish housing in east Jerusalem. They also want millions of dollars in funding for Palestinians living in that section of the city.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs