As Arab leaders prepare to meet for their annual summit in Doha, Qatar, preliminary signs indicate a simmering conflict between rival camps threatens to derail attempts at reconciliation.
A simmering spat between Arab leaders is threatening to erupt into a noisy conflict, when the annual Arab summit opens Monday in the wealthy Gulf Emirate of Qatar. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has said he will not attend, and several other moderate Arab leaders, including Jordan's King Abdallah also appear to be wavering.
Attempts by Saudi King Abdallah to reconcile the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Qatar, following a dispute during the Gaza conflict last January, appear to be meeting resistance. Syria and Qatar have good relations with Iran and the Palestinian Hamas group, while Egypt and Jordan do not.
Key issues facing Arab leaders at the summit include how to tackle remaining differences between the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, and how to respond to an international arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on charges of war crimes in Darfur.
Various Arab states have criticized the decision by the International Criminal Court, based in the Hague, to indict President al-Bashir, and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa indicated that a resolution would be issued at the summit rejecting the indictment.
The Arab League Foreign Minister's communiqué, he says, rejects the [International Criminal Court] decision and we will take appropriate action over it. Our position at the Arab League, as well as at the African Union, is to use all means to quash the indictment.
Moussa also noted the Arab League would call for the U.N. Security Council to put a stop to the court action against Mr. Bashir.
The Sudanese president showed up for the summit, despite initial reports that he might not attend, for fear of being arrested.
Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Hamid bin Jassem al-Thani told a press conference that it was unfortunate that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would not attend the summit since his presence "would contribute to solving long and complicated Arab problems."
He says that we have tried not to aggravate the situation, and we have made sure not to annoy anyone by inviting Hamas or you-know-who (Iran). I have learned my lesson this time around.
Qatar drew the ire of Egypt during a meeting in Doha, last January, after inviting Hamas leaders and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. Egypt is reportedly annoyed over Qatar's repeated attempts to mediate in recent inter-Arab conflicts.