CAIRO: Egypt has drawn up a proposal for the Wednesday Arab Summit in Riyadh urging Arab countries to cooperate more closely on security and military matters in what some perceive to be a foundation for a military pact between Arab nations.
Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said that topping the agenda at the summit was Arab national security.
Al-Faisal said: “Experience has shown that Arabs can solve their problems without foreign intervention.
The Egyptian document states that “there is a great need to adopt a comprehensive concept for Arab security in view of the multiple dangers and threats.
Head of Arab research at Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies Waheed Abdel-Meguid told The Daily Star Egypt that until clearer definitions were given about the modes of cooperation, it is difficult to ascertain where the proposal would lead.
“On what level will this military cooperation be discussed? Until that is defined, we must wait. It is not standard procedure for Arab countries to share information about their armies, Abdel-Meguid said.
However, Abdel-Meguid did say that Arab countries closely cooperated on matters of security.
“Security cooperation between Arab countries already exists on the level of the Council of Ministers which is the most binding body between Arab countries. This cooperation also includes intelligence sharing.
Additionally, Arab foreign ministers met ahead of the summit to discuss a possible comprehensive Arab peace deal with Israel. As it stands, only Egypt and Jordan have peace pacts with Israel.
But Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal urged Arab countries not to grant concessions on the status of Palestinian refugees. According to the Saudi news agency SPA, he said that “conceding legitimate rights such as the right of return and the Palestinian people s right to protection was unacceptable.
Iraq will be represented at the summit by Kurdish President Jalal Talabani. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, a Shia Muslim, will not attend.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told AFP that Iraq does not need a “diktat from the Arabs in response to Arab calls for greater power sharing with Iraqi Sunnis on the upcoming amendments of the Iraqi constitution.