Arab League representatives who held an emergency meeting in Cairo this week to discuss the financial crisis in the Palestinian Authority did not find time to deal with the plight of over !! million Somalis who are facing starvation due to the ravaging drought.

It is a stain on the forehead of all Arabs and Muslims that Americans and Europeans have moved faster to provide urgent aid to the famine-stricken population in Somalia, one of the 22 members of the Arab League. Saudi Arabia has pledged $60 million, but it remains to be seen if it will fulfill its promise. The promise is considered a drop in the sea compared with what Western countries have pledged to save the lives of the Somalis.

Arab governments have not even deemed it necessary to hold a conference to discuss ways of saving the lives of millions of people in Somalia. But when the Palestinian Authority earlier this week demanded an emergency session over its financial crunch, the Arab League convened within hours in Cairo to hear Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's urgent request for $300 million.

True, the financial crisis facing the Western-backed Fayyad government is for real. It is also worrying that nearly 150,000 Palestinian civil servants have received only half salaries for the past month.

But there is no comparing the crisis in the Palestinian Authority with the immediate threat to the lives of millions of people in Somalia.

Following the Cairo meeting of the Arab League representatives, a communiqué issued by the participants did not make any reference to the situation in Somalia.

A week earlier, however, the Arab League did issue a laconic statement in which it promised funds for humanitarian aid, and encouraged Arab states to support Somalia.

The Arab League issued its statement following an appeal by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations: "The Arab League urgently calls for all Arab countries, Arab organizations, the Arab Red Crescent, Arab civil society organizations and the Arab private sector to mobilize their energies and capabilities to rescue those affected by the drought in Somalia," the league said in a posting on its Facebook page.

So the Arab leaders are hoping to fight the drought through Facebook only, at a time when some of them have been trying to block the internet in their countries.

But these are the kinds of promises that everyone knows would never be fulfilled. The Palestinians know more than anyone else that these are empty promises that are merely intended for public consumption.

That is why the Palestinians today are almost entirely dependent on American, European and Japanese money for survival.

The starving people of Somalia will also have to rely on Western aid because the Arab dictators and regimes simply do not care if a few million Arabs and Muslims die of starvation.

The US and the EU should tell the wealthy Arabs that there is no reaosn Westerners shoukld be helping Arabs when their own Arab brother are not doing anything.

The US and the EU should say that they will only help if Arabs and Muslims also give.

The Arab tyrants would rather use the billions of dollars they have stolen from their countries to entertain themselves and their families. They would rather use the money to deploy tanks and soldiers to kill peaceful demonstrators demanding reform and democracy.

There is no doubt that the weekly or monthly expenses of a few Gulf princes and princesses in Paris, London and New York could alleviate the suffering of the hungry population of Somalia. But why should the royal families in the Gulf care about Somalia when Americans and Europeans are there to help?

"If we have ever laid claim to the spirit of Arab solidarity, Islamic fraternity and human values, we must not rest before fulfilling our obligation towards the hungry populations in eastern Africa," complained Barakat Shalataweh in an editorial in the newspaper Emirati Al-Khaleej.

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