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Arab League meet over Ukraine war

CAIRO (AFP) – The Arab League met yesterday to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while many of the pan-Arab body’s member states have refrained from condemning Moscow.

The Cairo-based organisation’s Deputy Head Hossam Zaki told AFP the session will be held at the level of foreign ministers.

The oil-rich Arab monarchies of the Gulf, whose ties with Moscow have been expanding despite their decades-old dependence on United States (US) security guarantees, have stopped short of condemning the Russian assault launched on Thursday.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, abstained on Friday in a vote on a resolution, vetoed by Moscow, demanding Russia withdraw its troops. Syria, Algeria and Sudan, for their part, are linked to Russia by military accords.

A number of Arab countries are heavily dependent on wheat supplies from both Ukraine and Russia, and any shortages of the staple grain have potential to stir unrest.

If those supplies are disrupted, raising bread prices, “the Ukraine crisis could trigger renewed protests and instability” in the region, according to the Washington-based Middle East Institute.

On the humanitarian front, thousands of Arab students became stranded in Ukraine – many of them having already fled violence back home – and have been appealing for help in escaping the crisis.