Leaders and ministers from across the Arab world gathered in Doha on Tuesday for the 24th Arab Summit of the Arab League, with the Syrian crisis at the top of the agenda.
President Mohamed Morsi spoke at the summit on Tuesday, addressing a number of regional issues including Syria, Palestine and reforming and developing the Arab League.
Morsi began his speech by stressing that the “new Egypt” recognises the “importance of solidarity and Arab integration on all levels”. Morsi spoke about the Palestinian cause, stressing that this should be the top priority “of every Arab and Muslim, and all peoples who believe in the values of peace, justice and freedom”.
On the Syrian crisis, Morsi called for a political solution stressing the need for “a safe transfer of power” and the necessity of ensuring the “preservation of Syria’s territorial integrity and safeguarding of its institutions”.
Morsi welcomed some developments in the region, such as the signing of a number of agreements between Sudan and South Sudan, the “end of the transitional phase in Somalia” and the “success of the political transition process in Yemen”. Morsi pledged Egypt’s support for all of these countries. “Egypt always stands with its Arab brothers,” he stressed. “Any reform or development should be a matter of national will and reject attempts to impose them from outside,” he added.
Morsi also addressed the issue of investment in the Arab world, saying: “Investment in human capital is inevitable, as it represents the wealth of our Arab nation.” He then invited businessmen from the Arab world “to benefit form the promising investment opportunities in Egypt”.
He called on the countries represented at the summit to arrive at “a common Arab definition of human rights that is consistent with common international definitions maintaining the specifics of Arab and Islamic culture”. Morsi also addressed the issue of women’s rights in the Arab world, calling for this year to be a “special year for women”. He invited the attendees to an Arab conference on women’s rights later this year.
The Presidential Assistant for External Relations and International Affairs Essam Haddad and Minsiter of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Kamel Amr accompanied Morsi to the summit.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a number of comments made by Kamel Amr in the run-up to the conference in which he reiterated Egypt’s view on the Syrian situation. He stressed that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and members of his regime “have no place in Syria’s future”.
There were seven speakers in the opening session including Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil Al-Araby, President of the Syrian National Coalition Ahmed Moaz Al-Khatib, and Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoğlu.
The session began with the Iraqi Vice-President Khodair Al-Khozaei officially handing over the presidency of the summit to the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. The Emir spoke about the crisis in Syria, the Palestinian issue and the need to stand by the countries of the Arab Spring, adding: “No one can forget the sacrifices made by Egypt for Arab causes.”
The Syrian National Coalition was invited to represent Syria at the summit and Al-Khatib spoke about the current situation in Syria. He highlighted the ongoing violence in Syria and confirmed the arrests of women and children by Assad’s intelligence agency. He called for “freezing the funds of the regime and giving us [the SNC] the Syrian seat at the United Nations”. He also called on the United States to provide “more than food and humanitarian support,” adding that he asked US Secretary of State John Kerry for a missile defence system in order to reduce civilian casualties. He also thanked a number of Arab states, including Egypt, for giving refuge to Syrians displaced by the conflict.
During the summit a pro-Asad Syrian internet hacking group, known as the Electronic Syrian Army, hacked the Arab League website. The hack displayed a direct message to Al-Araby, criticising him and the Arab League as whole for granting the SNC the Syrian seat at the summit. The website returned to normal service later on Tuesday.