Saudi Arabia condemns Iran amid Arab divisions over Syria strikes

Erika Holt
April 16, 2018

The 22-member Arab League held its annual summit on Sunday in Dhahran, eastern Saudi Arabia.

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia:Saudi Arabia's King Salman on Sunday slammed Iran's interference in the region and lashed out at the U.S. over Jerusalem as Arab leaders met in the kingdom for their annual summit.

But today's Arab summit in Saudi Arabia is worth keeping an eye on.

The rift between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain will not be on the summit's agenda.

Summits of the Arab League, established in 1945, rarely result in action.

The summit discussed the Palestinian issue, the Arab-Israeli conflict, issues in Syria, Libya and Yemen, in addition to steps taken to combat terrorism and the economic and social cooperation among Arab states.

The administration of Trump has recognised Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel and declared to the United States embassy to be located in Jerusalem.

Sunday's meeting will be the first Arab League summit since Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut their diplomatic ties with Qatar 10 months ago and the first since President Donald Trump announced his decision to relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Its foreign ministry tweeted support for "operations against specific military targets used by Syrian regime in its chemical attacks".

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The Gulf states have donated large amounts of money to help refugees from the country but have not officially offered them asylum.

The Saudi monarch renewed accusations for Iran of supporting terrorism and interfering in Arab affairs.

Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32-year-old son of the king and de facto ruler of the world's largest exporter of oil, has said Assad will stay.

"We reiterate our rejection of the USA decision on Jerusalem", Salman said.

Participants will condemn Iran's continued interference in the internal Arab affairs during the summit that is taking place in the eastern province of Dhahran of Saudi Arabia, and will urge Iran to exhibit a good neighbourly policy and refrain from using force or threatening to use force against neighbours.

Arab ministers at a preliminary meeting in Riyadh on Thursday focused heavily on blocking the embassy move, unanimously condemning Trump's decision.

While Saudi Arabia does not officially recognise Israel, Prince Mohammed told USA magazine The Atlantic that Israelis, like Palestinians, had a right to their own land.

United Nations resolutions shall be the only norms in negotiating the conflict, and Israel's unilateral actions could only tamper the facts and hamper the peace process, it said.

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