RIYADH - Saudi King Abdullah opened the annual summit of Gulf leaders on Saturday with a warning that the Arab world was like a powder keg waiting to explode, citing the situation in the Palestinian territories, Iraq and Lebanon.
"Our Arab region is besieged by a number of dangers, as if it was a powder keg waiting for a spark to explode," he told the rulers of the oil-rich monarchies gathered in Riyadh for a two-day meeting.
The Palestinians were reeling from "a hostile and ugly occupation" by Israel while the international community watched their "bloody tragedy like a spectator," Abdullah said.
But "most dangerous for the (Palestinian) cause is the conflict among brethren," he said in a reference to the differences between Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas' Fatah faction and the Islamist Hamas movement that have hampered efforts to form a unity government.
In Iraq "a brother is still killing his brother," Abdullah said of the mounting sectarian violence pitting Sunnis against Shiites.
Abdullah also warned that Lebanon, which was rocked by civil war in 1975-1990, risked sliding into renewed civil strife as a result of the current standoff between pro- and anti-Syrian camps.
"In Lebanon, we see dark clouds threatening the unity of the homeland, which risks sliding again into... conflict among the sons of the same country," he said.
The heads of state of Gulf Cooperation Council members Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates were present alongside the Saudi monarch, the first time in several years that all six rulers have attended the bloc's year-end summit.