From the preparations for the summit in Algeria (AP)

The Algerian Summit: A Unified Arab Event and Incoherent Agenda


Sat, 19-11-2022 06:17 PM, Aden

Nancy Zidan (South24) 

On the first couple of days of November, The 31th Arab League Summit was held in Algeria. It is the first one in three years and the fourth summit hosted by Algeria. It came concurrently with the 68th anniversary of the Algerian Liberation Revolution. Remarkably, Algeria postponed the summit several times in an attempt to create an event worthy of its position, especially since it previously hosted historical summits that began in November 1973 following the October War and another one after the Palestinian Uprising "Intifada" in 1988. The third one was in 2005 following the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. [1]

The last summit of the Arab League hosted 22 states and was held in March 2019 in Tunisia with the participation of 12 state leaders led by Late Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi before the breakout of Covid-19 epidemic. The summit this time came amid growing divisions regarding the conflicts witnessed by the region in addition to the normalization of the relationships between few countries and Israel which is deemed as an influential axis in the calculations of some Arab states. Moreover, the current regional and international situation is troubled due to the aggravation of the Ukrainian crisis and its subsequent energy and food security problems as well as other factors related to Arab peoples and states.

This paper discusses the course of events and the contents of the Arab Summit by monitoring and analyzing them at both media and political levels in light of the following axes:

1- Skirmishes despite the tight Algerian arrangements [1]

Despite the Algerian tireless efforts to tighten the arrangements required to hold the summit and receive the delegations of the participant Arab states, the preliminary meeting at the level of Arab foreign ministers witnessed skirmishes between the Moroccan delegation led by Foreign Minister "Nasser Bourita” and the Algerian authorities. This happened after the official Algerian Channel published an Arab world map on its website which separated Morocco from Western Sahara. Additionally, 22 King Mohammed VI's envoys accompanied the Moroccan delegation were forced to return to their country again. All these issues made the Moroccan delegation feel they are not welcomed according to the Moroccan Foreign Minister. [2] It is worth mentioning that the diplomatic rupture that erupted between Algeria and Morocco in August was due to a debate related to the map of exporting gas and energy to Europe. However, statements by Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra revealed that his country sent envoys to all the Arab states to hand over invitations to the Arab leaders to attend the Arab summit. This included sending a special envoy to Morocco. He added that the Moroccan King was expected to personally participate till the last moments. Moreover, he stressed that all attendees at all levels, whether leaders or ministers, are welcomed. [3]

The media coverage didn’t ignore Algeria’s reluctance to invite Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad which is justified by observers as being a result of Algeria's fear of the repercussions of his "risky” participation in the summit. Thus, Syria was the only exception that was excluded from the invitation list, especially since its seat in the Arab League is still empty. [4] Moreover, the absence of a number of the Arab leaders, especially Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman for health reasons, and UAE President “Mohammed Bin Zayed” was a remarkable weakness point for the summit. The Algerian Foreign Minister justified that by saying “there are countries that don’t have presidents or prime ministers. Others have pre-scheduled meetings such as the Bahraini King who will receive the Vatican Pope”. 

Besides that, the media coverage of the summit focused on Algeria’s prioritization of the Palestinian issue in the summit's agenda. This caused discomfort among the Arab states which signed normalization agreements with Israel. They didn’t feel enthusiastic towards the idea of meeting to condemn Israel. Since 2019, after the last Arab League summit, there have been quick steps towards normalizing the relationships between the Arab states and Israel. The first of which was the UAE’s historical deal with Israel through an American mediation which made it the third Arab country after Egypt and Jordan engaged in a full relationship with Israel. The UAE step encouraged both Bahrain and Morocco to sign similar agreements in a move that deepened the rift between Morocco and Algeria, especially that Morocco is the chairman of the Quds Committee in the Arab League. [5] Moreover, there is a temporary normalization agreement between Israel and Sudan. [6] Moroccan Foreign Minister recently said the contact between Arab states and Israel is supported by an Arab keenness to serve the Palestinian rights and part of the perceived treatment with the facts on the ground. [7]

2- Impactful speeches and the presence of regional and international figures

The first day of the summit activities began with a speech delivered by Tunisian President Kais Saied in which he demanded different Arab states reach an Arab strategic compatible vision for effective solutions to the different Arab problematic files. He reviewed the Tunisian efforts during its presidency of the summit since 2019, its non-permanent membership in the Security Council in 2020/2021 and its membership in a number of regional and international platforms (African Peace and Security Council, United Nations Economic and Social Council, and Tokyo Forum on African Development). All of these have served as outlets for Tunisian endeavors. The Tunisian President’s speech included “the Palestinian rights” as he hailed the Algerian efforts towards reaching national reconciliation between the Palestinian factions. He then shifted to the need for reuniting Libya noting that there were efforts in that direction through an Algerian mediation in August 2021 and in Tunisa at the beginning of 2022. He also recommended the need to exert efforts in order to achieve food self-sufficiency and enhance the Arab water security. He concluded his longest speech in the summit (35 min) by handing over the Arab Summit Presidency to the Algerian Republic, congratulating it by the Liberation Revolution Anniversary and stressing the Tunisia’s supportive stance to Algeria. [8]

Algerian President Abdulmajid Tebboune opened the summit and delivered his speech (17 min). He began with welcoming the participants, especially the honored guests. The latter included the President of Azerbaijan as the current Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, the President of Senegal as the Chair of the African Union, the UN Secretary-General and the Chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Algeria’s invitation to the heads of these organizations was a smart move at the organizational level to provide a serious space that absorbs issues of contact among Arab and African countries, especially the vital issues which constituted the axes of the summit’s discussion. Palestine came on top of that discussions and its latest endeavors to gain full UN membership. There is no way to achieve that without relying upon the coordination with the African Union and the voices of the African states to support these Arab Palestinian efforts. 

Moreover, the Algerian President recommended a worthy idea that the cash reserves of the Arab states are equal to those in Europe or major Asian entities. So, he suggested building an Arab economic bloc which focuses on joint action mechanisms. This would enhance the solidarity and the common Arab interests with a focus on the priority of the Palestinian issue. This came amid the accelerating wheel of settlement and Judaization in the Palestinian lands.  Additionally, he stressed on the need for liberating Arab territories including the Syrian Golan, and his preference for internal dialogue among the national factions in Libya, Syria, and Yemen. 

The first day was concluded with a speech delivered by Secretary-General of the League of Arab States "Ahmed Aboul Gheit" (15 min) in which he listed the dilemmas of the Arab countries and the urgent need for Arab cooperation to achieve food and water security, enhance security and internal stability for Arab countries and peoples and defend citizenship rights. He added that this comes amid unstable surrounded neighbors, terrorist acts, militia activities, and armed groups by non-Arab parties and their negative impact within the Arab world with an aim to expand influence and achieve hegemony in reference to Iran without mentioning it.

He drew a link between this point and the worsening conditions in Syria and Yemen due to these interventions. He said: "What happens in Yemen is the most prominent outcome of the non-Arab regional intervention that hit the bases of stability. He indicated that the Arab League is able to move in case of the unification of the Arab will and that he supports the Arabization of crisis solutions. He stressed on supporting the “legitimate government” in Yemen and the importance of backing Palestine as being the mother issue. He recommended the Libyan factions to be flexible in order to reach a situation that satisfies the specters of the Libyan people. He concluded his speech by talking about the importance of enhancing Arab partnerships across the world. [9]

The second day of the summit was the most momentous and included speeches delivered by 15 Arab leaders and representatives. They began with the speech of Egyptian President Abdulfattah El-Sisi (12 min) and ended with the speech of Saudi Foreign Minister "Faisal Al-Farhan" (9 min). It was remarkable that the speeches of the heads of the states came first, followed by the heads of the transitional presidential councils, and followed by the prime ministers and the foreign ministers. 

The session lasted for three hours in a row [10] which is one of the summit’s cons. The day had to be divided into two sessions for the convenience of the participants and to provide the time of mental recovery. Consequently, this would increase the influence of the mutual or multilateral talks among leaders. The focus on the detailed content of the words shows that they evolved around certain axes which can be analyzed as follow:

- Arab national security

The speech of the Egyptian President included describing the Arab national security as being indivisible. The same idea was expressed by different leaders through a recommendation to enhance the collective and integrative work politically, economically and socially. 

- The Palestinian issue

Large parts of the speeches included supporting the Palestinian right as being the top priority of the summit. However, the whole focus was on the speech of Palestinian President "Mahmoud Abbas" (17 min), where he listed Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people, noting that the summit coincides with the 105th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. He demanded the formation of an Arab ministerial committee to act at an international level, to devote efforts to obtain a full Palestinian UN membership. He asked Israel to return hundreds of millions of funds it seized in the name of the Palestinians. He stressed that Israel is conducting the fiercest campaign to Judaize Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, as it spends hundreds of billions for the Judaization of Jerusalem.

- Energy and food crises

In this regard, Egypt recommended not to engage in international polarization and to focus efforts on food and energy priorities. The Palestinian President pointed to the importance of activating the previously-approved Arab safety network. Abbas hailed the Saudi "Green Middle East" initiative for its role to provide clean energy. The speech delivered by the President of Mauritania "Sheikh Al-Ghazwani" (10 min) stressed on the importance of accelerating Arab integration and creating a joint Arab market. He pointed out that Mauritania has moved forward towards improving the public investment climate and providing wide spaces of cooperation between the public and the private sectors with the hope of enhancing the intra-mutual cooperation within the Arab world and between the latter and the African surroundings.

The speech of the Crown Prince of Kuwait (3 min) focused on the importance for the Arab states to overcome the ramifications of the Ukrainian crisis economically and at the humanitarian level along with the activation of the Kuwaiti initiative through Resolution (8766) as a strategy for Arab food security. The speech of the Crown Prince of Jordan (15 min) called to strengthen the interest in supporting the fields of trade, industry and tourism to provide the necessary financial resources to support Arab food security. President of Somalia, "Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud," indicated that the Arab investment in the agricultural, fisheries and livestock sectors is badly needed by Somalia, and will have a huge outcome on food security, because Somalia is the largest country that witnesses suffering and threat in the Horn of Africa due to the spread of drought which has exacerbated the food crisis. A number of areas are currently threatened by famine.

On the other hand, the head of the Sudan's Transitional Council, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, began his speech (10 minutes), by renewing the call for an old and renewed idea about Sudan's ability to serve as the basket of Arab food as necessary to face potential food shortage. He stressed on the need to open the space for the Arab governments and the public and private sectors for such a purpose. The Speech by the Prime Minister of Lebanon, "Najib Mikati", (7 minutes) was like an appealing message about the deteriorating Lebanese conditions economically, politically, socially, and healthily along with Lebanon’s need for Arab support. Thus, it would be able to provide the basic needs of its people. He clarified economic feasibility hopes of the recently-signed demarcation of the border agreement between Israel and Lebanon. The last reference to this topic emerged in the speech (12 min) delivered by the Bahraini king's envoy Mohammed Bin Mubarak who said that food security requires the activation of all forms of Arab action, bilateral or collective, with the perfect use of resources and capabilities. 

- Terrorism and regional threats against Arab

With the presence of conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen on the agenda of the summit, Arab foreign ministers tried priory to reach a consensus on referring to the Turkish and Iranian "interference" in the region, and whether or not Ankara and Tehran should be mentioned by name. The speeches by Arab leaders in this regard were heterogeneous. For example, the speech delivered by Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid (12 min) praised the role played by the Iraqi armed forces to confront the internal terrorism over the past years. He talked about the need to reach understanding with two Iraq's neighbors, Turkey and Iran regarding the water crisis of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to overcome the water shortages through a serious dialogue. He spoke in a diplomatic way that wasted the Iraqi rights. He didn't mention the severe damages his country has incurred by Turkey and Iran at the water level, not to mention the political damages and the widening gap among the Iraqi factions because of the Iranian polarization over many years. Experts described this as a success by Iran to tame the Iraqi land. 

On the other hand, the speech (8 min) delivered by Yemen's PLC Chairman Rashad Al-Alimi was more outright in mentioning Iran's responsibility for causing serious damage to Yemen and rendering it into a starting point for destabilizing the Arab world. He detailed the Iranian violations within Yemen by supporting the Houthis who refused to renew the truce. He called on to designate the Houthis as a terrorist group in light of the Arab League Resolution (8725) in Jan 2022. He pointed out the scale of the Houthi damage in Yemen and that more than 500000 Yemenis were being sacrificed. Moreover, children and young people were dragged to death along with indiscriminate planting of mines in sea and commercial lanes, and not acting seriously in ending the oil tanker crisis (Safer). He accused the Houthis of violating all previous agreements and putting the Iranian regime's interest above the lives of the Yemeni people.

At the Arab-African level, the Egyptian President urged Ethiopia for pacification and to engage seriously in the negotiations related to the Renaissance Dam to reach a binding legal agreement. Somali President indicates that his country has been able to eliminate the terrorist activities of Al-Qaeda-backed "Al-Shabab”. He added that the terrorist organization’s activities have been declined at all military and ideological levels. This point was praised by The President of Djibouti "Ismail Omar Guelleh" in his speech (8 minutes). 

3- The summit's closing statement: diplomatic language and dimming enthusiasm 

The long summit’s statement was crowded with words (about 2000 words) but with empty actual content which frustrated the hopes of Arab people. This is due to its only focus on the Palestinian issue and not to reach a balance between the points of interest or including articles that express the urgency of each Arab file. A quick look reveals that the single speeches of the Arab leaders were stronger than the closing statement of the summit. The speech provided some details to solve the files of Yemen, Libya, Syria, and Sudan. Moreover, the statement avoided mentioning or condemning Iran or Turkey as two states which threaten the Arab security. This largely reduces the principle of Arab sovereignty, power, and ability upon which the summit kicked off. 

On the other hand, Algeria maximized the use of hosting the summit in light of its aspiration to enhance its position to play a regional role and investing in its international stance. Thus, the summit was praised by Russia [11]. Additionally, during the Climate Summit, the Algerian President received a congratulation message for the success of the Arab Summit [12] from his French counterpart. It is remarkable that Algeria recently submitted its application to join the BRICS economic bloc [13], and will sign a huge contract with Russia to obtain arms supplies worth between 12 and 17 billion dollars [14].

According to observers, it is ironic to describe the summit as being a “unified action” while every Arab state has its own agenda and goals which suit its interests. Ultimately, the Arab League has long appeared as a typical mirror for Arab Foreign policy. 

Nancy Talal Zidan 

Non-resident fellow at South24 Center for News and Studies, researcher in political science and media analysis. 


[1] The Arab Summit in Algeria: Leaders participate for the first time, Sky News Arabia, October 31th, 2022,

[2] Moroccan Foreign Minister: We refuse Iran’s interference in the Arab world and two-thirds of the media delegation arrived in Algeria and then returned, Al Arabiya Channel, November 1st, 2022

[3] Exclusive interview with Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra on the sidelines of the Arab Summit in Algeria, November 1st, 2022,

[4] Algiers Summit: “The Map” and the Attendees Raise Questions about the Expected Results, October 31st , 2022,

[5] Exclusive interview with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita on the sidelines of the Arab Summit in Algeria, November 1st, 2022,

[6] The Arab Summit: The meeting of Arab leaders in Algeria kicked off amid absence of the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Kuwait and Morocco, November 1st, 2022,

[7] Exclusive interview with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita on the sidelines of the Arab Summit in Algeria, November 1st, 2022, The aforementioned reference.

[8] The Arab Summit in Algeria opened its door November 1th , 2022,

[9] The aforementioned reference.

[10]The second day of the Arab Summit began at the International Conference Center in Algiers, Al Balad TV, November 2nd, 2022,

[11] The Russian Foreign Minister comments on the outcome of the Arab summit.. This is what he said, Al-Ghad channel, November 3rd, 2022,

[12] The French President congratulates the President of the Republic, Abdulmadjid Tebboune, on the success of the Algiers Arab Summit, November 8th, 2022,

[13] Algeria officially submits application to join the BRICS, 08-Nov-2022,

[14] Algeria to Sign 'Huge Deal' with Russia to Import Advanced Arms, 2 November, 2022,

Arab LeagueArab SummitAlgeriaRegional SecurityYemenMiddle East