Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit expressed hope that the Ukraine-Russia war will not be a reason to overlook the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) crises.
Speaking at the 157th ordinary ministerial session of the Arab League, Aboul Gheit said that the governing principle of the positions of Arab countries and their diplomatic movement towards the war in Ukraine will always be of interest to the larger Arab nation.
The secretary-general also voiced his hope for a diplomatic outcome to the ongoing conflict that would spare the blood of innocent bystanders on all sides and preserve the rights of all parties by addressing their concerns.
“This should not be a reason to forget the Arab crises, which are still raging,” he said.
“The conflicts of major world powers will put pressure on all of us, and some of our people will suffer,” he added.
“We must be prepared to defend our interests and take positions that serve our goals.”
“Our region has suffered from foreign and regional interventions for decades, and these have, on the whole, produced negative results,” he added.
“We in the Arab region are well aware of the importance of the international system based on respect for the sovereignty of states and their regional integration.”
“We have long called for this principle to govern the policies of states and the relations between them, but unfortunately it has been violated on several occasions by a number of major powers,” he continued.
“In our region, it is being violated every day by regional powers that are hungry for hegemony and encroachment on the sovereignty of states.”
He also discussed the issue of Arab food security, which will be negatively affected by the disturbance in grain and other food imports caused by the conflict in eastern Europe.
“The Arab ministerial consultative meeting held on 30 January in Kuwait discussed a proposal to study all aspects of food security,” he said, adding that it discussed the possibility of establishing an Arab-wide food integration system to enhance food security in the region, which is closely linked to various issues, including water security.
In Syria, “half of the population is still displaced or in refuge, and Yemen is witnessing the biggest humanitarian crisis on earth, due to the Houthi rebels controlling the country and threatening neighbours with ballistic missiles,” Aboul Gheit said.
“These crises must disturb the conscience of the world [just as much] as the refugee crisis emerging in Ukraine.”
“Our crises should not be forgotten or overlooked amid the tense international situation, and this is our duty in this council.”
“The situation in Libya is of concern to all of us, and no one wants this country or its constitutional institutions to be divided,” he added.
He called on “all Libyan parties to work together to avoid division and violence or the threat of it, and to overcome this delicate transitional period.”
Moreover, the secretary-general called on Libyan parties to show a spirit of national responsibility and to abandon any personal, partisan, or regional players in order to reach an agreement as soon as possible on the legal, political, and security conditions that are suitable for holding the elections.”