by Taylor Luck - National AE - As Arab leaders and other decision-makers gather in Amman this week for the annual Arab Summit, they need more than a consensus. They need a breakthrough. As crises continue unabated and foreign powers step up their influence – and interference – in Arab affairs, it is time for the Arab League to live up to its charter and to set unified policies for Arab states and defend their interests before they are dictated to them by foreign powers. Although often rife with divisions, combined with a flair for the dramatic by some long-time Arab leaders, previous Arab Summits have resulted in some breakthrough compromises and set policies followed for years.
After the losses of the 1967 war, Arab states issued the "three no’s" that would be the standard in policy towards Israel for nearly three decades: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiation with Israel. The policy even led the Arab League and some states to sever ties with Egypt after Cairo ratified the Camp David Accords. In subsequent Arab Summits in the 1980s, Arab powers worked on initiatives and diplomatic efforts to end the civil war in Lebanon and helped lead to the Taif Agreement which ended the conflict in 1989.
In Beirut in 2002, Arab League members agreed to the landmark Arab Peace Initiative, under which all Arab states would recognise and establish normal relations with Israel in return for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories and recognition of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. Even as it failed to influence outside dynamics shaping the region, the Arab leaders have presented a united front and provided a message to the West. In 2003, as the United States invasion of Iraq loomed, Arab leaders used the summit to object to the Iraq war while calling on Saddam Hussein to comply with United Nations resolutions and inspectors in an eleventh hour attempt to avert war. Yet as the Arab leaders convene in Amman on Wednesday, the key players in the crises crippling the region are increasingly non-Arab.