Middle East: Empty Chairs

Syria boycotts an Arab summit

Morocco's King Hassan II was somber as he stared across the octagonal conference room of his palace in Casablanca last week. In almost the same breath in which he declared open a summit meeting of the 21-member League of Arab States, the monarch deplored "the existence of vacant seats" at the first such gathering in three years. The brocaded chairs intended for Syria, Lebanon, South Yemen, Algeria and Libya were empty. Of the remainder, only eight were filled by heads of state. Most notably absent was Saudi Arabia's King Fahd, who was represented by Crown Prince Abdullah.

King Hassan went on...

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