Saudi king slams Iran's 'interference' in Arab affairs

Abdel Fattah El Sisi

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz took to his official Twitter account on Sunday to express the kingdom's pleasure to host their "brothers" at the Arab League summit in Dhahran.

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani speaks with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis during a meeting at the Pentagon in Washington Thomson Reuters DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Qatar will not be represented by a senior official at an Arab summit taking place in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, in a sign that a almost year-old dispute between Gulf Arab neighbours is still a long way from being resolved.

"The Saudis are going to push for a much harsher stance on Iran - not necessarily on the nuclear dossier per se, but on Iranian influence in the Arab countries, particularly Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen", said Karim Bitar of the Paris-based Institute of global and Strategic Affairs.

Opening the 29th Arab League summit, the king also criticised the USA decision to transfer its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and described "terrorism" as the biggest challenge facing Arab countries.

"We emphasize that East Al-Quds is an integral part of the Palestinian territory", King Salman affirmed.

Earlier this month, the monarch reiterated the kingdom's "steadfast stance on the Palestinian issue and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital".

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

More news: Catalan protesters call for return of jailed or exiled leaders

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.

The remark suggested increasing rapprochement with Israel, which like Riyadh, sees Tehran as its arch rival.

There are 22 members of the Arab League but Syria's membership has been suspended since 2011 because of the civil war.

Regional powerhouses Saudi Arabia and Iran have been locked in a decades-long struggle for supremacy that is being waged in proxy wars in several countries, including Yemen and Syria.

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

The Qatari delegation is being headed by Doha's permanent representative to the Arab League, Saif bin Muqaddam al-Buainain, Qatar's state news agency said, without elaborating. Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for five counts of crimes against humanity, three counts of genocide and two counts of war crimes.

Gulf Arab states have made massive donations to Syria but have not officially offered asylum to Syrians.

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