The head of the Arab League has told the region’s leaders that the recent upheaval in Tunisia is linked to deteriorating economic conditions throughout the Arab world, warning them that their people’s anger has reached unprecedented heights.

Amr Moussa told an Arab economic summit in Egypt that “the Arab soul is broken by poverty, unemployment and general recession.”

“This is in the mind of all of us,” Moussa said in his opening address to the 20 Arab leaders and other representatives of Arab League members gathered in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The summit is the first top level Arab meeting since protests fuelled by joblessness and other economic woes in Tunisia forced Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the president, to flee, bringing an end to his 23-year rule of the country.

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