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Arab League Summit: Algerian leader urges Arab unity, renews support for Palestine

A handout picture provided by the Tunisian presidency press service shows Arab leaders posing for a group photo in the Algerian capital on November 1, 2022   -  
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Arab leaders met in Algeria on Tuesday (Nov 1st) as the 31st summit of the largest annual Arab conference kicked off.

Algeria's president called for Arab unity to face escalating "tensions and crises" as he opened the meeting.

It was the first meeting in 3 years for the 22 member states.

If new challenges have emerged since, Algerian president insisted on the historic support for the Palestinians in their never resolved conflict with Israel.

"I look forward to the establishment of an Arab contact and coordination group during this summit in order to support the Palestinian cause, and Algeria is fully prepared to transfer this vital request to the United Nations", Tebboune said.

His stand to grant Palestine full UN membership comes at a time when a growing number of Arab countries have established bilateral ties with Israel.

Indeed, the recent trend has been cooperation between Israel and a growing number of Arab countries including Morocco or the United Arab Emirates. Sudan has also agreed to establish ties with the Middle-East country.

Backdrop of multiple crises

The meeting comes against the backdrop of rising inflation, food and energy shortages, drought and soaring cost of living across the Middle East and Africa.

The summit's discussions on Tuesday and Wednesday were expected to focus on the food and energy crises aggravated by the war that has had devastating consequences for Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia, among other Arab countries, struggling to import enough wheat and fuel to satisfy their populations.

Deepening the crisis, is the worst drought in several decades that has ravaged swaths of Somalia, one of the Arab League's newer members, bringing some areas of the country to the brink of famine.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman formally announced earlier this month that he won’t attend the summit due to "health reasons."

Syria is also absent from this year’s summit, having been expelled from the league in 2011 as punishment for President Bashir Assad’s brutal government crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

UN: Guest of honor

The UN chief defended the Black Sea Initiative, a deal which was brokered to reintroduce vital grain exports from Ukraine to the rest of the world. Many Arab countries near solely dependent on Ukrainian and Russian wheat exports

"We must do all we can to ensure the continued success of the Black Sea Grain Initiative to provide relief to those in need, including countries in the Middle East and North Africa relying on accessible and affordable food and fertilisers — both from Ukraine and the Russian Federation", Antonia Guterres pleaded.

The Initiave was in jeopardy as Russia accused Ukraine of using the corridor "for military and sabotage purposes".

Under the Black Sea Initiative, a Joint Coordination Center in Turkey was established to control and inspect ships heading to load Ukrainian ships from three Black Sea ports and fully loaded vessels en route to world markets. It comprises representatives from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations.

The war has become a point of unity among Arab League members, with nearly all adopting a stance of neutrality.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed that stand in a letter to the summit's participants without mentioning the war. The nations of the Middle East and North Africa "play an increasingly significant role" in a "multipolar system of international relations" as the world is faced with a "serious political and economic change," Putin said in the letter that was posted on the website of the Russian Embassy in Algiers on Tuesday.

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