middle east

Syria, Libya stay away from Beirut economy conference

Only three out of 22 Arab heads of state appear set to take part in Sunday’s summit

Mahmoud Barakat  | 18.01.2019
Syria, Libya stay away from Beirut economy conference

By Wassim Seifeddine

BEIRUT

Arab delegations began arriving in the Lebanese capital on Friday to take part in a Sunday economic development summit organized by the Arab League.

While most Arab countries sent delegations at the ambassadorial level, only three out of 22 Arab heads of state are set to participate in Sunday’s conference.

What’s more, there will be two notable absences.

Syria, whose Arab League membership has been suspended since 2011, was not invited to the event.

Libya, meanwhile, decided to boycott the summit earlier this week after members of Lebanon’s Shia Amal Movement removed Libyan flags from outside the summit venue.

Currently led by Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Amal is opposed to Beirut maintaining relations with Tripoli, citing the 1978 disappearance in Libya of movement founder Imam Musa Sadr.

Amal continues to blame Sadr’s disappearance -- which remains unexplained to this day -- on former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, who was ousted and killed in a bloody NATO-backed uprising in 2011.

Berri and members of his parliamentary bloc have also said they would not take part in Sunday’s summit.

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