Arab League chief takes veiled shots at Iran in UN address

Without referring to Iran by name, Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that “some regional powers are interfering in the affairs of the Arab region.”

By World Israel News Staff and AP

The secretary-general of the 22-member Arab League Aboul Gheit referred without name to Iran in an address before the the United Nations Security Council at the beginning of the week.

Aboul Gheit said that “some regional powers are interfering in the affairs of the Arab region” by adversely affecting “the security of international maritime navigation routes which are a lifeline for international trade,” a reference to freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf and Iran’s mounting aggression in and around the waterway.

“It has also become apparent that this interference perpetuates existing conflicts and further complicates them,” he said, without directly citing Iran’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, and for terror groups in the region, such as Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, and the Houthis in Yemen.

Aboul Gheit said the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing conflicts and crises have created “a dangerous mix that has taken a heavy toll on the peoples of the region,” pointing to 10 years of civil war in Syria, Yemen’s war entering its seventh year and “entrenched divisions in Libya.”

Aboul Gheit also expressed hope Monday that the Biden administration will change U.S. President Donald Trump’s policies and focus on the so-called two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, an approach that has so far failed to solve the decades-old conflict.

During the Trump administration, Israel signed peace agreements with four Muslim-majority states, the first deals of their kind in a quarter century.

According to Aboul Gheit, the two-state approach “has been marginalized by the main mediator in the peace process,” a reference to the United States.

This “encouraged the Israeli government” to permit Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria to grow, a step the Arab League and the Palestinian Authority (PA) oppose.

He spoke a day after Israeli authorities advanced plans to build nearly 800 homes in Jewish communities, in a last-minute surge of approvals before Trump leaves office Wednesday and Joe Biden is inaugurated. Palestinian leaders predictably denounced the Israeli action.

The Palestinians claim all of Judea and Samaria as part of a future independent state. They claim that letting Jews live in Judea and Samaria blocks their dream of independence.

“We look forward to the new American administration rectifying policies and processes that are not useful and engage in a fruitful political process with the support of influential regional and international parties,” he said.

On Syria, Aboul Gheit said five countries are interfering militarily and the “security situation remains tumultuous and precarious, especially in the northwest, northeast and south.” This not only undermines prospects of a political settlement but also has equally serious humanitarian repercussions, with 90% of Syrians living in poverty, he said.

“I am convinced that a genuine solution would start with a minimal level of international consensus, which is still lacking,” and would require some regional parties to reduce their involvement in Syria, Aboul Gheit said. “Those regional parties continue to view Syria land as spoils of war or use it to settle scores”

In Yemen, the Arab League chief said the situation “is as dangerous, especially the humanitarian situation,” with some Yemenis on the bring of starvation.

He strongly backed efforts by U.N. special envoy Martin Griffiths to get agreement between the Houthis and the internationally recognized government on a joint declaration calling for a cease-fire and confidence-building measures.

He said the Saudi-negotiated agreement on a new Cabinet “is a positive sign that the fragmentation and division are coming to an end,” which “paves the way for negotiations on a comprehensive solution.”