After 60 years:A dead Arab League Summit meeting [Archives:2005/827/Opinion]

March 24 2005

The invasion of Iraq and its continued occupation by the United States two years ago was a clear sign of the pathetic weakness and effectiveness of the existing unified Arab regime, represented by the Arab League. Mind you, the Arab League was not in itself the reason for the ineffectiveness of the Arab World in determining the fate of the different member states, or the nation as a whole. The real difficulty lies in getting the Arab League to represent any foarum of unified Arab action or steps to confront the major difficulties faced by one or more of its members. The problem is not really the Arab League itself, but rather the real commitment that the Arab rulers in their different manifestations have towards the principles under which the Arab League was set up and the goals behind its establishment. The Arab League was set up to confront the serious issues that have a bearing on the national interests of the entire Arab World and to work together towards achieving greater cohesion amongst the different states, with a view towards achieving overall Arab unity in all the different spheres: political, military, economic, cultural and social.

After having just obtained independence from colonial rule, the founders of the Arab League saw that the Arab World had good reason to pursue unified actions to protect their newly found independence and to meet the newly emerging Zionist threat that was being planted in their midst, which was done at the expense of the indigenous Arab population of the land of Palestine. That was in 1945 when most of the states were ruled by supposedly reactionary monarchies, many of which were overthrown, because they were accused of having been the cause of the Arab defeat in 1948. Nothing is further from the truth. Notwithstanding their limited means at the time and their lack of cohesion, the truth of the matter is that those monarchies and the few republics that were around then actually gave the war effort all that they could muster up at the time. In comparison to the existing situation in the Arab World, the fact is that those regimes responded more positively to the threats faced by the Arab World then than we have seen since the War of 1973, which was the last time that the Arab League proved to be an effective instrument of unified Arab action and commitment. What happened? It is really hard to say what happened to make the Arab League so meaningless and so ineffective, especially now when the dangers confronting the Arab World have become so encompassing and so frighteningly real. Moreover, the most important resource possessed by the Arab World has been snatched away from the control of its rightful owners and the main benefactors of this resource are those who are adamant at causing the greatest harm to the people and states of the region. On the other hand, the Arab League, because of this weak commitment by the different Arab regimes to reinforce its effectiveness have rendered the League as no more than a forum for ceremonious and superficial meetings that result in lip service speeches by Arab leaders on the issues that concern all the Arabs from Mauritania to the Gulf. The result is that the Arab League has become a weaker instrument than the respective individual governments that make up its membership. No more does the Arab League seem to suggest that it is indeed the last hope for the Arabs to achieve their long held dreams and aspirations, because the truth of the matter is that the Arab leaders, who are attending (and not attending) those ceremonious meetings have relinquished themselves from the very hopes and aspirations of their respective constituencies.

This sad state of the so called Arab Regime did not happen overnight but steadily as many of the individual Arab regimes solidified their stranglehold over their constituencies and saw no reason any more to have to fulfill their aspirations or hopes. The “masses” are not even given their due consideration when the Arab leaders sit together to decide the fate of their Nation. In fact, to these selfish rulers, the “Arab Nation” is viewed as a figment of the imagination for which they desire no part of whatsoever. They have ensured that the masses in their countries have no channels for truly expressing their views and if they did, the rulers have set up the machinery to quell any opposition or even protest with an iron fist that has destroyed all the meaning of citizenship and citizens' rights.

Thus, most Arabs are not surprised by the rather tenacious ineffectiveness of the existing Arab regime, because they are victims of a tenacious ineffectiveness by their respective rulers in managing the affairs in their respective home states. It seems that no matter how serious the enormous challenges that are now confronted by the nation as a whole, the Arab League can do absolutely nothing in terms of standing up to these challenges, let alone come to agreement on how serious they are. The fact of the matter is that the Arab leaders are scared to take any stand that coincides with the hopes and aspirations of their subjects, because that is really how they view their constituencies as, no more than mere subjects, who must submit to their will, whether they like it or not. The Arab masses know that their rulers can never sit and agree on what is in the interest of the Arab masses, because they themselves have different interests that are remote from the interests of the Arab masses.

In fact, most Arab rulers view the hopes and aspirations as dangerous to the very existence of the regimes they have implanted, since these aspirations and hopes may collide with the interests and the perceptions of the world superpower that has defined its interests clearly in the region, without regard to the hopes and aspirations of the masses in the Arab World. There was once a time that any danger faced by an Arab state meant that the other Arab states would rush to stand behind that state. That is what happened in 1948, in 1967 and 1973. Even dipolar states would come to the aid of each other when confronted with danger. But those were the days of reactionary states. Now with all the progressive states in our midst, it is the aspirations and hopes of the masses that are thrown out the window, when in those reactionary times these hopes and aspirations had far more greater weight and respect. Have we really progressed as a nation? The answer is unequivocally no, as can be surmised from the cold shoulder treatment that the Summit in Algiers is getting from a number of the Arab leaders. It must be really tough on Amro Moussa!