The 33rd Arab League Summit held last week in Bahrain is considered different from previous summits in many ways. The summit, held for the first time in the Kingdom, brought together heads of state from twenty-two Arab nations and came at a time of rising conflicts and challenges in the region. The Kingdom succeeded in hosting an event of such magnitude, concluding it with firm messages related to peace and the necessity for further joint Arab action. The positive outcomes of the summit were highly anticipated, as many previous summits failed to conclude with tangible results, according to many observers. However, the Bahrain Summit concluded positively, considering the number of initiatives presented by the King of Bahrain. 

King Hamad’s Speech 

The opening speech by King Hamad was in line with Bahrain’s continuous vision for coexistence as it stressed the importance of peacebuilding. King Hamad mentioned the word “peace” several times during the speech. In addition, King Hamad proposed a clear roadmap for cooperative work that could bring together Arab nations and their allies across the globe. The initiatives included cooperation in the fields of financial technology and digital transformation, reflecting the modern challenges facing the region. Additionally, King Hamad highlighted the war in Gaza while calling for full support for the recognition of Palestine as an independent state at the United Nations and the deployment of UN peace forces in Palestine until an agreement is reached regarding the two-state solution, which is strongly supported by Arab states and others. 

The initiatives also included providing education for those affected by wars and conflicts in the region. The proposed initiatives were widely welcomed by the Bahraini public and the Kingdom’s allies. 

“King Hamad’s vision for the future of the Middle East is just the kind of thing the United States wants to get behind. He talks about peace, prosperity, security, stability, tolerance, regional integration. These are the principles that he, the Crown Prince-Prime Minister and the government and people of Bahrain have been focusing on. I just want to say that the United States joins you in the effort to bring these very important concepts into reality in the region” Steven C. Bondy, US Ambassador to Bahrain (Bahrain Television)

Among the main initiatives proposed by King Hamad was his call for an international peace conference in the Middle East. Following the conclusion of the Summit, the British Embassy in Bahrain soon issued a statement congratulating Bahrain on the success of the Arab League Summit and announced support “where it can” for the implementation of the summit outcomes. Such a reaction is a reassurance that the region’s allies would stand committed to any peace-building measures. 

Bahrain’s vision for the summit reflected their longstanding support for peace in the region and is hugely appreciated by the UK. We look forward to supporting where we can to implement the important Summit outcomes,” British Embassy, Bahrain

King Hamad’s speech was not simply for protocol reasons; it was a reassertion of Bahrain’s vision and active role in promoting peace and coexistence. The initiatives proposed could lead the region in a different direction if implemented. 

Highlights of the Summit 

Among the highlights of the Arab League Summit was the attendance of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, leading the summit towards international recognition. Another highlight was the presence of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, widely viewed as a step towards Syria’s return as an active member of the Arab world. King Abdullah of Jordan called for an immediate end to the war in Gaza, while Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also stressed the importance of ending Israel’s aggression in Gaza. Egypt’s President Sisi also presented a speech reflecting the honest reality of the region, stating that people are starting to lose faith in the international system as it has failed them. He also stated that violence and aggression would never lead to security and safety. 

The success of the Bahrain Summit is also due to the efforts of hundreds of government sector employees and the people of Bahrain, who fully cooperated with the authorities. Citizens followed government instructions to avoid traffic jams and other factors that could hinder the flow of the summit. Additionally, some Bahraini opposition supporters publicly spoke in support of Bahrain organizing the summit and expressed pride in hosting the event despite their usual disagreement with government policy. Some opposition supporters also welcomed the summit’s outcomes and initiatives presented by King Hamad. 

What Bahrainis Think 

A repetition?

“In some ways, the summit did not seem like a repetition of the previous ones. The speeches were interesting, and the outcomes and recommendations do not seem far-fetched from reality.” — Manal, 42

 “Arab leaders always continue to speak about cooperation while they fail to reach an agreement among themselves. We should wait and see the seriousness of Arab nations in the coming period.” — Ahmed, 36

 “They have failed once again in bringing an end to the wars in the region. It is not only Gaza that is witnessing a war; Sudan, Yemen, and Syria are also very unstable. They should do more to end these conflicts.” — Abdullah, 28 

Credible Outcomes?

 “The King’s recommendations are well received. It is a clear statement towards peacebuilding. Bahrain, out of all the countries, is actually capable of bringing different sides together, considering the strong alliance it has with the US, UK, and also to a certain extent Israel due to the Abraham Accords.” — Hassan, 32 “

It is time for Bahrain to take another major step towards peacebuilding in the region. Our country has all the capabilities to organize a peace conference and bring different sides together.” — Fatima, 33 

“We have long waited for the Arab League summits to come up with credible outcomes. The Bahrain Summit has changed the norm, presenting a clear set of initiatives that unite the Arab world is certainly a huge accomplishment.” — Khalid, 41 

A great host

“This was a success for us, for our country, and for our region.” — Sarah, 30 “Bahrain was a great host. We are proud that our leader called for peace at times where there is a lack of wisdom and rise of hate speech in our region.” — Hamad, 35 

“The international press attending the summit have commended Bahrain’s efforts as a host and the importance of the Bahrain declaration. We are proud of our country.” — Amal, 38

“Despite my criticism of the government, I can honestly say that it is great that my country can host such an event. We are a small country, but we succeeded. Even the outcomes of the conference have made many happy.” — Ali, 42 

Calls for peace

“The calls for peace include peace for all people in the region, Palestinians and others, and it is highly commendable that instead of having an aggressive criticism of the situation, we have a leader that continues to be sensible.” — Abdulrahman, 32

 “Having controversial figures like Bashar al-Assad attending was surprising. We hope for peace in Syria and for the Syrian people. They deserve stability alongside all the other Arabs, including the Palestinian people.” — Mahmood, 27 

“It is very easy for leaders to discuss peace, but it is difficult to implement. We hope that all Arab countries work together towards implementing the Bahrain declaration.” — Ahmed, 34

 “Our allies, western powers, should work closely with our countries to bring about peace. We have witnessed double standards in the west regarding human rights in the past few months. I hope they show some seriousness about peace.” — Aisha, 43

 “It is interesting to see the outcomes welcomed by some of Bahrain’s allies. We hope that the United States, which can play a big role in resolving the conflict in Gaza, would support Bahrain’s call for a peace conference.” — Omar, 37 

Joint Arab Action

“Many in the west continue to blame Arab countries for their lack of vision or cooperation in resolving the conflict in Gaza. However, here we are with a clear vision for peace and for a two-state solution that can bring stability to both Israelis and Palestinians.” — Amal, 34 

“There was hardly any talk about Sudan, a country that is bleeding. Arab nations need to think of other countries and not only stay focused on the Palestinian issue and disregard all their other issues.” — Mariam, 38 

“The Bahrain declaration is quite comprehensive; it is not specific to one conflict or another in the Arab world. It mentioned issues that are common to many countries.” — Hussein, 29 

The 33rd Arab League Summit in Bahrain stands out not only for its successful organization but also for its ambitious and comprehensive initiatives aimed at fostering peace and cooperation in the region. With strong support from both regional and international allies, the summit’s outcomes offer a hopeful vision for the future of the region. As Bahrain continues to play a pivotal role in peacebuilding efforts, the region watches with anticipation to see how these proposals will translate into concrete actions. The call for unity and joint action resonates deeply, reminding all nations of the shared goal of stability and prosperity for all. 

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