Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

I hate Israel, but I also hate Nabil Elaraby | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Any Arab citizen knows that the Arab League is a hopeless case, and I would not be exaggerating if I said that the League has the least stature of all public institutions in the mind of the Arab citizen, in terms of trust, reliability and efficiency. Yet it “exists” and there is no other “alternative”. The most people expect from the Arab League is to serve as a place to “let off steam”, by using mere rhetoric.

These days the League has a new Secretary-General, Nabil Elaraby, Egypt’s first Foreign Minister following the January 25th revolution, who played an integral part in the country’s recent social mobility, and promoted it with great zeal. [Whilst serving as Egyptian Foreign Minister] he approached the Gaza issue extremely wisely, opened the border crossing [between Gaza and Egypt], and initiated a “strong” discourse with Israel and the Palestinian cause, a discourse completely different to that of the previous Foreign Minister during the Mubarak era. He also initiated a policy of openness towards global Arab issues.

However, all of a sudden, after every one had grown to love Nabil Elaraby, Egypt put him forward for the Secretary-General of the Arab League, as means of solving the dispute that had erupted between Egypt and Qatar. Hence Nabil Elaraby became the League’s “surprise” appointment, as Arab revolutions continued to take place. These events came as a test to the man’s ability to handle issues with the same spirit he had displayed before assuming such an important post; the spirit of the Egyptian revolution and popular demands. Today, Nabil Elaraby has failed miserably in the handling of the Syrian revolution. He was the Arab League’s interface when dealing with the Syrian regime, which has killed thousands of its own people and detained tens of thousands mercilessly. After his meetings in Syria, he always said that Syria was proceeding with the reform process, but this rhetoric has since transformed into something of a dark joke, a slogan that has been carried during the revolution as a form of mockery.

Nabil Elaraby failed to request field visits to the devastated areas of Homs, Hamah, Daraa, Edleb, al-Rastan and elsewhere, unlike the US, French and Turkish ambassadors before him. Now Nabil Elaraby is receiving a delegation from the opposition, one that is “tailored” by the regime, a delegation that the Syrian people do not accept.

Nabil Elaraby, in the Arab domain, has failed to put into effect any of the numerous actions that were once taken against Egypt, when it was expelled from the Arab League as a result of signing the Camp David agreement with Israel, or recently against Libya after its people revolted against Muammar Gaddafi.

Numerous proposals could have been put forward, as a first step, to freeze the Syrian regime’s membership in the Arab League’s affiliated organizations and institutions, as a punishment for a regime that is killing its own people and destroying its cities. Another measure could have been taken to prohibit the broadcast of Syrian satellite channels, which have reported misleading information about the revolutionaries, thus creating a destructive sectarian climate in Syria (similar measures were taken against Libyan satellite channels). Nabil Elaraby should have been truthful with himself and the world; he should have given a worthy account of himself to God, the account of an experienced man who has served his country for many years. Yet he opted to use words that would not harm his name, history and reputation, when saying that he was “concerned” and “disappointed”, or that Syria had “failed to apply” the initiative, instead of saying the whole truth. The blood and souls of the victims deserve more than mere elegant words.

Your Excellency the Secretary-General, if the Arab League is a place to “let of steam”, please do not hold back with the innocent Syrian victims. During your era, the League of Arab States has transformed into a suppressor of Arab states, a legacy for which you will be held accountable. If you cannot face this situation with a clear conscience, then a resignation is the honourable option, but to remain silent about a crime is to participate in it.

The popular singer Shaaban Abdel Rahim once sang a song using the political witticism “I hate Israel, but I love Amr Musa”. Of course, this song created Amr Musa’s popular legacy amongst the Egyptian people, yet it put an end to his political career during the reign of the extremely jealous President Hosni Mubarak. Today, Your Excellency the Secretary-General, I fear that Shaaban Abdel Rahim will compose a new song that goes: “I hate Israel, but I also hate Nabil Elaraby.”