The purpose of this annual summit was to find common ground on regional issues. This meeting takes place against the backdrop rising inflation, food and fuel shortages, drought, and the soaring cost to live in the Middle East and Africa, Arab leaders. Algeria, Africa’s largest nation by territory, will have the opportunity to show its leadership in the Arab World at this event. Algeria is a major oil-and-gas producer and is seen by European countries as a key supplier in the current global energy crisis caused by Russia’s war with Ukraine.
Before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the 22-member Arab leaders held its last summit in 2019. New challenges have dramatically reshaped the agenda of the region in recent years, including the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and four Arab nations, as well the fallout from the war in Ukraine. Tuesday and Wednesday’s summit will discuss the food and energy crises that have been exacerbated by war. This has included the devastating consequences for Egypt and Tunisia as well as other Arab leaders struggling to import enough fuel and wheat to feed their peoples.
The worst drought in many decades has decimated large swathes of Somalia, one the Arab League’s newest members. This has brought some parts of the country closer to famine. Russia’s Sunday reinforcement of its Black Sea port blockade against Ukraine threatens to escalate the crisis. Many Arab countries are almost entirely dependent on Russian and Ukrainian wheat exports.
In his opening speech, Kais Saied, Tunisian President, stated that the war in Ukraine has “exacerbated the food security and energy crisis, along with many other reasons…climate change and natural catastrophes”. He demanded a “robust multilateral effort” to ensure Arab food security. Antonio Guterres, U.N. Secretary General, stated that he has been “working nonstop” with all parties to preserve and extend the agreement on Ukrainian grain exports via its Black Sea ports. Guterres, who was a guest of honour at the summit, stated that “We must do everything we can to… give relief to those in crisis, including countries in North Africa and the Middle East which rely on affordable and accessible food and fertilizers — both from Russia and Ukraine.” The war, much to the dismay of Ukraine and its Western backers has been a source of rare unity among Arab League member countries, with almost all adopting a neutral stance.