The Arab League takes a stand on the Golan Heights / News / News agency Inforos
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The Arab League takes a stand on the Golan Heights

But is it strong enough to make a difference?

The Arab League takes a stand on the Golan Heights

Pres. Trump has issued a shocking statement, in which he will recognize the occupied Golan Heights as territory belonging to the Jewish State of Israel.  Immediately, Secretary-General Ahmad Aboul Gheit said, “The League of Arab States fully supports Syria's right for its occupied territory. We have a specific position, based on resolutions, on this issue."

The Arab League is seen to be supporting Syria on the Golan issue, and yet they expelled Syria from the group of 22 nations including Palestine in 2011, even though Syria was a founding member since 1945.  The expulsion was unconstitutional, since the vote was not unanimous.

Syria was expelled due to the use of force while dealing with armed terrorists posing as protesters.  The expulsion is hypocritical when compared to the violent force used by other Arab League members on protesters.  Recently, there is a growing consensus that Syria should be reinstated; however, Syria says it will not agree to conditions made by western nations as part of its return to the Arab League, which supported the US-NATO attack on Syria.

From its inception, the Arab League primary goal was to prevent the Jewish community in Palestine from creating a Jewish state.  The Arab League has been faced with the occupation of Palestine, and the denial of human rights at the hands of the Jewish State of Israel since 1948, and has not made progress on restoring Palestinian statehood, or human rights.  This is seen as a catastrophic failure of righting the core wrong of the Middle East. 

The Arab League has been identified with ineffectual resolutions, disunity, and weak leadership.  Some have characterized it as a ‘members only men’s club of dictators’.  Jealousy and betrayal run deep through the Arab League members, and is the main factor in their inability to form a united body which could make a difference in the Middle East.  In the US attack on Iraq, some members sided with Pres. George W. Bush, while others opposed the destruction of Iraq, which has never recovered.

In March 2008, the Arab League heard from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who bluntly said, "How can we accept that a foreign power comes to topple an Arab leader while we stand watching?  Where is the Arabs' dignity, their future, their very existence? Everything has disappeared. Our blood and our language may be one, but there is nothing that can unite us." Finally, turning to face the other leaders he said, "Your turn is next." He scoffed at the notion of creating an Arab Army and said, "How can we do that? We hate each other, we wish ill of each other and our intelligence services conspire against each other. We are our own enemy."

Seemingly, the situation continues, as Sec. Gen. Gheit remarked in 2017, “We as Arab nations have a lot in common such as language and culture, but we don’t appreciate our common ground, and have failed to understand our full potential and strength. Under this fragmentation, national interests will be lost and we will continue to live in these wars, deaths, and divisions for another century. We must not let this happen.”

A plan in 2015 to form an Arab Army sponsored by Arab League member nations has not come to fruition.  This idea has come to be compared somewhat with NATO, which was formed in 1949 and now has 29 members.  While NATO has a political agenda, as well as military, it is most remembered for its Article 5, which committed to the principle of collective defence: an attack against one or several of its members is considered as an attack against all.  Since the Arab League tends to remain divided and without clear consensus on key issues, it would appear impossible to enshrine an article 5 type resolution within the Arab League.

 Some critics have said the Arab league takes its agenda and orders from America.  This blanket accusation harkens back to the notion that America is the world’s only superpower, and the US Middle East policy is actually written in Tel Aviv.  This lack of balance leaves no room for divergent stances by Arab League members who don’t share the American vision of “The New Middle East”. 

There has been a divide among the members who represent traditional Sunni monarchies such as: Saudi Arabia; Qatar; United Arab Emirates; Bahrain; Morocco; and the republics of Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Libya.  For decades, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have formed the counter-balance in the Arab League, and it appears this may restrain any rising power which may have aspirations of real and effectual change in the status quo of the Arab world.

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