Syria, Iran to dominate Arab League summit

Riyadh: Arab leaders except for Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad meet in Saudi Arabia for a summit on Sunday as world powers face off over Syria and tensions rise between Riyadh and Tehran.
Saudi Arabia is pushing for a tough, unified stance against its regional arch-rival Iran at the annual gathering of the 22-member Arab League.
The two regional titans, locked in proxy wars in Syria and in Saudi Arabia’s southern neighbour Yemen, back opposing parties in Iraq and Lebanon.
The summit begins 24 hours after the United States, France and Britain launched controversial air strikes in war-torn Syria in response to a reported regime chemical attack on the decimated rebel enclave of eastern Ghouta last week.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which both voiced support for the strikes, remain locked in a months-long diplomatic standoff, with Riyadh accusing Doha of supporting extremists and being too close to Iran.
Support for Syria raids
Summits of the Arab League, established in 1945, rarely result in action.
The last time the bloc made a concrete move was in 2011, when it suspended Syria’s membership over the Assad regime’s role in the war.
Syria remains suspended from the organisation.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will chair Sunday’s summit in the eastern city of Dhahran, home to Saudi Arabia’s oil giant Aramco and 160 kilometres (100 miles) across the Gulf from Iran.
Syria’s war, the most complex of the region’s conflicts, is the main point of contention pitting Riyadh and its allies, who mainly back Sunni rebels, against regime backer Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.

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