Summits held between leaders of groups of countries in regional or international frameworks are important opportunities to crystallize future policies and practices. They highlight trends and consensuses towards the issues that bring these leaders together and between the international bloc they represent and the rest of the world. On 19 May 2023, two summits were held: the Arab Summit in Jeddah and the Summit of the Group of Seven (G7) major economic countries. In both summits, governing trends that will have a significant role in determining Arab relations with the G7 were crystallized.
The Jeddah Summit manifested a conciliatory trend among Arab countries, mixed with an emphasis on the priority of dialogue and binding political settlements for the warring parties in a number of Arab countries. It ensured the territorial integrity and sovereignty of each country and rejected external interventions that played a major role and are still fueling those crises. The summit also called for putting an end to these crises as soon as possible. The centrality of the Palestinian cause to all Arab countries and the centrality of the Palestinian national right to an independent state on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital, were reaffirmed.
The Arab conciliatory trend was also demonstrated in the keenness to confront terrorist organizations and groups that use violence accompanied by extremist ideas in a way that provokes chaos and tension and weakens national state institutions. On the other hand, it was necessary to reaffirm Arab commitment to the values of tolerance, acceptance of the other, and adherence to good neighborliness. The summit also demanded that Arab forces conduct responsible behavior that takes into account Arab rights to water and sovereignty.
As for the Hiroshima Summit, which brought together the G7 leaders, it presented a different approach. To begin with, there was self-assessment that the group represents the top of the international system and that it is responsible for leading the world and determining what the world is going through, how it happens and according to which values. Such self-assessment reflects a degree of superiority over the rest of the world, including important and key countries in the international system, especially China and Russia. In accordance with this self-assessment and embodying the priority of thwarting any efforts aimed at restructuring the international system to be multi-polar and more democratic in the means of managing and addressing its various political, security, and economic crises, the G7 leaders positions embodied a conflicting trend par excellence. This was not without contradictions and adopting methods of economic coercion through the imposition of sanctions on those considered fierce competitors to Western hegemony.
Among the most prominent contradictions of the G7 Summit positions was the management of its relations with China. On the one hand, it was confirmed that there was no intention to engage in a confrontation with China, along with the keenness on maintaining trade and economic relations. Meanwhile, the reduction of trade dependence on China was announced, and China was criticized for its economic and military development, as well as its demands in Taiwan and the South China Sea, considering it a source of threat to the G7 and their allies, particularly in Asia. The contradiction was evident in calling on China to play a greater role in convincing Russia to end the war in Ukraine and accept a settlement that primarily takes into account Ukrainian demands. This means asking China to be an actor whose political and non-political moves are in the interest of the West, which is anti-Russia and is determined to defeat it militarily and strategically. The contradiction is thus very clear between threatening and condemning China on the one hand and calling on it to be a tool for Western hegemony by pressuring Russia on the other hand.
The G7 conflicting approach towards Russia is not new, whether in terms of exaggerating the imposition of economic sanctions, isolating Russia from global markets, and threatening its main sources of income or in terms of exaggerating the provision of all kinds of military and political support to Ukraine in order to inflict a military defeat on Russia. This seems, according to the experience of the past year, far-fetched despite all the weapons, expertise, plans, information, and methods of managing wars and battles provided by the G7 and other countries. During the Hiroshima Summit, other decisions to contribute to the conflict with Russia were made, draining all that could be depleted of its various capabilities.
Perhaps the most intriguing and surprising position is the G7’s call to Israel and the Palestinians to take practical steps towards a two-state solution. This came in the form of advice and not a decision befitting countries that regard themselves as leaders concerned with world security and peace. The advice came in the form of a call to end what was described as unilateral measures and calls for incitement to violence. The first part is implicitly directed at Israel, and the second part is explicitly directed at the Palestinians. Both parts have a partial and superficial view of the conflict as the result of unwise behavior from one side met by a call for violence from the other. Hence, there is a complete neglect of the principle of responsibility for world peace and an acknowledgement that the G7, despite their own conviction of leading the world, are not concerned with Palestinian rights and do not care about the mere thought of playing a responsible role that defends the rights of a people subjected to injustice and who use the simplest tools to defend themselves.
The two summits reveal divergent priorities between a regional Arab bloc that seeks to strengthen a conciliatory atmosphere and prioritize collective development efforts and economically developed countries that are influential in the international system as a whole. They do not pay much attention to their responsibilities towards international peace and security, view matters selfishly, and put their narrow interests as a criterion for judging others. Such discrepancy between the Arab and the Western viewpoints is not without a civilized and cultural confrontation, which calls for a collective Arab will that strives to impose Arab interests and visions, regardless of the challenges ahead.