Monday, 06 April 2009

Arab & South American Countries Hold Summit

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summitLeaders of the 22-member Arab League and 12 South American countries met last week and agreed to an 11-point declaration on everything from the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to economic cooperation. The one-day Second Summit of Arab-South American Countries took place in Doha, Qatar, following the Arab League conference. Among the countries attending the summit were some of the world’s largest oil exporting nations, including Venezuela.

"We feel there are a lot of similarities between South America and the Arab world,” opined Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the emir of Qatar. “Both of us also hope for a better future for our populations and we face many of the same challenges." Analysts said the summit represents changing priorities among Latin American governments as they attempt to distance themselves from the United States and usher in a more “multi-polar” world. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said; "It is a unique opportunity for us to introduce concrete ideas for better global governance."

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez grabbed headlines again with statements regarding America and the dollar. “The hour has come for the final fall of the American empire," he said, claiming that the U.S. and the dollar were drowning. "Venezuela supports ... efforts to find an alternative reserve currency." The Venezuelan president called for the creation of a “petro-currency” with the backing of oil-producing nations in OPEC. Following the summit Chavez visited Russia, Iran and China, which have all issued proposals to replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

“Who was responsible for the Iraq-Iran war? The US! Who financed and gave birth to Al Qaeda? The US!” Chavez exclaimed. “There is a permanent policy of aggression, war and terrorism by the US Empire.” He also called the Israeli occupation a “genocide” against Palestinians.  

Chavez  joined other leaders in criticizing the International Criminal Court’s “international arrest warrant” for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for alleged war crimes. Al-Bashir was also present at the summit. The Court “has no power to take such an action against a sitting president," Chavez said, adding that it was only because Sudan is a “third-world” African country. "Why don't they order the arrest of Bush? Why don't they order the arrest of the Israeli President?"

The 11-point declaration, known as the “Doha Declaration,” calls for the creation of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the occupied territories. It also expresses support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The leaders also committed their nations to full implementation of United Nations resolutions while calling U.S. sanctions on Syria a violation of International law. The final resolution also calls for setting up an international financial system.

Despite all of the anti-American rhetoric emanating from the summit, the participating Arab and South American countries are generally moving in the same direction as the United States — toward “global governance,” as Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and other internationalists describe it.