Publish Date: Saturday,17 January, 2009, at 02:01 AM Doha Time

Qatar puts people  before politics

A little over three weeks ago, Israel launched its offensive against Hamas. 
During that time HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has called three 
times for an urgent meeting of the Arab League. Now the Palestinian death toll 
stands at 1,133 and rising - with Arab solidarity under increasing world 

For many Arabs - and Muslims - the lack of cohesion between Arab states has 
been a source of dismay and anger. While ordinary people have rallied in 
protest at Israeli aggression, politicians have stumbled. The call for action 
on simple humanitarian grounds has been bogged down by traditional alliances 
and posturing.

Therefore, the Emir's decision to press ahead with yesterday's summit in Doha - 
without regional heavyweights Egypt and Saudi Arabia - is to be applauded. So 
too is the fact that the Emir attended Thursday's closed-door emergency summit 
in Riyadh and the fact that a Qatari representative has been at each and every 
regional and international meeting since this crisis evolved. 
When people are dying in their hundreds and when families are being slaughtered 
on a daily basis there can be no room for personal indignation or political 
sleights. If there is a chance to end the Israeli onslaught, no matter how 
small or where it may come from, everyone should grab it. Countering aggression 
needs cohesion - and it also needs action.  

Attending yesterday's Doha summit was Khalid Mishal, the exiled leader of the 
Islamist Hamas movement, as well as the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. 
The leaders of Algeria, Comoros, Lebanon, Mauritania, Sudan and Syria also 
attended while Djibouti, Iraq and Libya sent senior officials. Turkey also took 
part with Ankara sending an aide to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip 
Qatar failed to secure the necessary quorum to make the summit an official 
meeting of the Arab League as only 13 of the bloc's 22 members announced their 
attendance, two short of the number required to convene a League meeting. 

However, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Mu'alim said he expected the meeting 
to come out with a joint statement expounding the leaders' agreement on the 
possible means to support the resistance and the brethren in Gaza. 

Qatar has pressed for an emergency Arab summit since Israel launched its 
offensive, but it has repeatedly run into opposition from Egypt and Saudi 
Arabia, which have been critical of Hamas ever since the Islamist movement 
seized control of Gaza from forces loyal to Abbas in June 2007. 

Yesterday, Arab League chief Amr Mussa acknowledged that there was "chaos" in 
Arab ranks. "It is regrettable and harmful," he told reporters. 

Internationally, the United Nations has effectively shown itself to be 
powerless to stop Israel without the backing of America. Therefore, the 
Palestinians in Gaza badly needed Arab unity on this matter. But when the dust 
finally settles, and the bereaved have lain to rest their dead, Qatar's 
continuous efforts to try and stop the bloodshed will not be forgotten.

Kirim email ke