Two time zones, two distinct summits. The distance between two cities is 8,119 km, yet they reside on the same continent—Asia. However, their contexts differ greatly: One summit revolved around the debate of uni-polarity versus multi-polarity. It sought to deceive the world with rhetorical explanations, consequently fueling a series of global conflicts. On the other hand, the second summit aimed to reshape and reengineer the present geopolitical reality, drawing valuable lessons from past mistakes. Japan hosted the former, perceiving China as their foremost enemy, while Saudi Arabia hosted the latter, prioritizing a world order to avoid succumbing to the West’s destabilizing influence in the region. Regardless of their public discourse, peace remains the most precious treasure, a moral, ethical, and collective responsibility for all humanity. Against this backdrop, let us examine these significant events.
Just 77 years, 9 months, and 14 days after the most horrific event witnessed by human civilization, the so-called leaders of the wealthiest nations sat on the very ground where the echoes of deceased souls still linger. Hiroshima, where hundreds of thousands of unarmed civilians were burnt to death, leaving behind generations plagued by chronic diseases. The US product, unleashed as retaliation for Japanese attacks on a purely military base during World War II, remains etched in the memory of this place. Another intriguing episode of the G7 summit concluded over the weekend. They spoke, and we listened. They are aware that their words were laden with falsehoods and prejudices. We, in turn, know they spoke hollow words, and yet they persisted.
Simultaneously, while the summit unfolded, Sadae Kasaoka, a 90-year-old Japanese survivor of the atomic bomb, recounted her recent recollection of the traumatic memories she experienced at the age of 12. She vividly recalled the loss of her father, who was taken into their home while still alive by her brother. When she first saw him, he was completely blackened, his eyes bulging. Finally recognizing him by his voice, he weakly requested water and entrusted her with taking care of their mother. Two days later, he passed away, and only later did she discover that her mother, along with other victims, had been killed and cremated. Did it end there? Unfortunately, not. The conflicts ignited by successive rulers of the United States have victimized numerous countries worldwide. The death toll continues to rise, and the wounds inflicted are far from healing.
The 40-page detailed joint communique issued at the conclusion of the summit reveals the hollowness and poverty of the leaders’ rhetoric, as they boast about abstractions. Their self-proclaimed unity is noted with gripping emphasis, declaring they are now ‘more united than ever in our determination to meet the global challenges of this moment and set the course for a better future.’ However, beyond the rhetorical descriptions of ongoing conflicts and critical global issues, this lengthy statement reaffirms how their actions mock the fundamentals of democracy and justice.
For instance, they proclaim to uphold and reinforce the free and open international order based on the rule of law, while respecting the UN Charter for the benefit of countries, both large and small. Yet, it remains unclear how they reconcile their actions of initiating one conflict after another, destabilizing numerous countries, and contributing to man-made famines from Afghanistanto Syria, with their supposed commitment to the rule of law and the UN Charter. Their pursuit of engineering catastrophes at the cost of human life and aiming to plunder natural resources has become a new “norm” of honoring the UN Charter.
It is noteworthy that this joint communique mentions Russia six times, compared to the 32 times it was mentioned in the previous year, 2021. On the other hand, China is mentioned 20 times this time, up from 14 times in the previous year. The G7 leaders’ longest joint communique in recent history clearly indicates that China has captured their full attention, even in resolving the crisis created by the West in Ukraine. However, the attempt to frame China over Taiwan and the lamentation of human rights issues reflect the looming danger of these double-speakers who are testing China’s patience. The language used in this lengthy joint communique is undiplomatic in nature and authoritative in tone. It is not written constructively with the aim of working towards peace, but rather to continue assaulting their designated enemies in order to maintain power.
On the other side, the organization, which was established 4 months and 15 days before the United States tested its first atomic bombs on unarmed civilians, held its summit this year in the Saudi coastal city of Jeddah. The summit was attended by the 22 member countries, with an additional five countries present as observers, including Brazil, India, and Venezuela. At the conclusion of this significant summit, the Arab League adopted the Jeddah Declaration, reaffirming the league’s united stance on achieving security and stability across the Arab world and beyond.
Through this statement, the real pain of the crises faced by Arab countries for many centuries has been revealed. It is evident that they aspire for tangible change on the ground, moving beyond mere rhetoric. Saudi Arabia’s invitation to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for this year’s summit and his active participation are pivotal to the region’s geopolitics. After a tumultuous and challenging journey, Saudi Arabia has emerged as a central power center that unites countries in the region. This well-crafted declaration, adhering to diplomatic norms and ethics, addresses major crises in the region, including Palestine, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, while welcoming Syria’s reintegration into the league after more than 12 years of suspicion.
The declaration emphasizes the need to stop foreign interference in the domestic affairs of Arab countries and categorically rejects support for the formation of armed groups and militias outside the scope of state institutions. It further states, ‘We categorically reject using the dominance of some cultures as a pretext for interfering in the domestic affairs of our countries.’ This marks a new dawn for the Arab League, which is crucial in the global fight against injustice. As Ahmed AboulGheit, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, aptly described, it is a ‘Summit of Renewal and Change.’ Henceforth, it is not an exaggeration to call it the beginning of a new chapter in a long journey in and beyond the region.
It is truly remarkable to witness the profound words articulated by the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser on May 26, 1967, before Arab Trade Unionists, resounding across the region even after 55 years, finding resonance once again in Jeddah. Nasser’s poignant statement, ‘This is the true resurrection of the Arab nation, which at one time was shrouded in despair. Today, it is imperative that the world recognizes the reality of the Arab world,’ holds immense significance. His words continue to echo, serving as a powerful reminder of the enduring spirit and determination of the Arab nations. In Jeddah, these sentiments find new life, rejuvenating the Arab League’s mission and embarking on a transformative journey towards a brighter future.Let us observe how the Arab League will contribute to reshaping the world order.
While the G7’s deliberate ignorance persists, particularly evident in their failure to prioritize an immediate solution for the cease-fire and peace in Ukraine, the Arab League declaration stands as a testament to proactive engagement and genuine commitment to addressing common regional issues. The G7’s lengthy communique falls short in addressing the urgent need for resolution, instead focusing on self-serving interests. In contrast, the Arab League’s Jeddah Declaration courageously tackles regional crises, recognizing the importance of ending foreign interference and upholding sovereignty. By welcoming Syria’s participation after years of suspicion, the Arab League demonstrates a determination to foster stability and rebuild trust. As the Arab League forges ahead with this new approach, it presents a compelling alternative to the G7’s deliberate ignorance, offering hope for a more cooperative and inclusive world order.
[Photo by the White House, via Wikimedia Commons]
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.
Nilantha Ilangamuwa is a Sri Lankan-born journalist and author. He is the founder editor of Sri Lanka Guardian, Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives, and Lanka Courier.