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Inside Story
Has the Arab Spring widened the Arab divide?
As the Arab League summit attends to regional concerns we ask if leaders are being forced to shift alliances.
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2012 09:40

Yet another Arab summit, and for the first time since the US-led invasion, it is being held in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

"The Arab world has never been more divided than it is today…The split that we have is between those who want dramatic changes in their societies versus those governments that are still holding on to stale and outdated systems."

- Joseph Kechichian, an independent Middle East analyst

The summit takes place in the aftermath of major political upheaval brought by the Arab uprisings that spread across the Middle East.

But only 10 of the Arab League's 22 leaders are attending the summit.

The main issues that have traditionally divided Arab leaders include relations with the West, policy towards Israel and how to deal with Iran.

But most recently, the Arab Spring seems to have magnified the divisions.

The most glaring example was Libya. While Qatar and the United Arab Emirates supported military intervention, others like Algeria remained staunchly against it.

Splits also played out over the crackdown on protestors in Bahrain. While some GCC countries sent troops to back the government, countries like Iraq were critical of authorities.

"There is no doubt Israel is the major enemy but when you have weak governments [throughout] the Middle East how can you face your enemy…The region is waiting for a new baby and it has not come yet."

- Fahad Shulemi, a retired colonel in the Kuwaiti Army

And of course we cannot forget Syria. Qatar and Saudi Arabia favour a more forceful approach to removing the Syrian president from power. But others like Iraq and Lebanon argue that outside intervention is not the answer.

Has the Arab Spring further divided an already-fractured league? And with Syria at the forefront of disagreement, will the Arab states be forced to shift their alliances?

Joining presenter Sami Zeidan on Inside Story for the discussion are guests: Saad Almuttalibi, a member of State of Law Alliance and a former advisor to the Iraqi National Security Council; Fahad Shulemi, a retired colonel in the Kuwaiti Army and the president of the Gulf Peace and Security Forum; Joseph Kechichian, an independent Middle East analyst and a columnist for Gulf News.

"There is an American plan to surround Iran. Unfortunately Saudi Arabia took that call but the mistake they did is to call for a sectarian divide, unlike the Americans who are talking about political differences."

- Saad Almuttalibi, a member of State of Law Alliance

Source:
Al Jazeera
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