Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Arab League: Division is the Best Solution | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Some of the Arab League’s member states have found no solution to their failed organization, but to change its name to the Arab Union. This is like a patient with heart disease deciding to have cosmetic surgery on his nose! The Arab League is one of the oldest organizations in the world, and was founded even prior to the United Nations. Nevertheless, it has not learned much from its experience, and although it has amassed the expertise and knowledge to lead the world for the better, it has failed to even lead itself.

With all due respect to the Yemeni proposal, neither changing the Arab League’s name, nor changing its Secretary-General or moving its headquarters, will provide a solution, as this does not address the real defect. The defect is in organizations’ population, and attempts to gather them in one building, one summit and around one table, whilst they do not recognize each other, or the league as a frame of reference. So, what is the use of the Arab League, and its summits, if it remains chronically divided?

For many years now, it has become easy to ‘map’ the Arab league; who sides with whom, and who is in opposition. It is no longer a secret that the Arab League contains two teams, which are divided over all issues, meetings and the drafting of statements, from dealing with health issues to political disputes. The amazing fact is that these differences are limited [to two sides], but nevertheless their impact is so profound upon the League.

Arab League slogans and statements usually feature bold words about unity, solidarity and cooperation. Yet its members have failed to achieve anything worth mentioning for one reason; the internal division causes the encouraging projects which they propose to be unattainable.

As long as the League’s internal conflict remains a reality, logic necessitates that we acknowledge the painful truth, and handle it accordingly. Therefore, a better solution would be for the League to be divided into two halves, with each side having its own ‘league’, companions, statements and projects. Through a genuine consensus to conduct meaningful projects, it would be easy for similar and compatible countries to achieve something, instead of being preoccupied with objections, obstructions and conspiracies, in order undermine a statement or task.

The establishment of two leagues, or rather one league with two branches, would lead towards healthy competition. Under this system, the Arab League would establish two markets instead of twenty, two distinct policies instead of five, and the two leagues would reflect the reality of the status-quo, and its requirements. For example, the Palestinian Authority would be in one league, and Hamas in the other, and each country could choose to join the group they favour.

Historically speaking, the League has always been divided from within, even in its restaurants, subcommittees and personnel. The only case in which this situation exploded out of control was when furious members insisted to move the League’s headquarters from Egypt, after it had entered into negotiations with Israel. Egypt was thus punished when the Arab League relocated to Tunisia. However, the League failed in this regard, because the headquarters were moved as a result of Iraqi pressure, and without the process of counting votes. Had the ‘Steadfastness and Confrontation Front’ decided to move the League, and relocate its headquarters, on its own, perhaps the result would have been more favourable. Likewise, if the Moderation Front had acted similarly and established its own league, then duties would have been clearer, and cooperation would have been improved. Each group would have been in harmony.