History of Arab League
“The Arab League was formed in Cairo on 22nd March 1945 with six members” (Arab League, 2012). The six members included Egypt, Transjordan (currently known as Jordan after its renaming in 1946), and Iraq. Its members also included Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined it in early May of 1945. The first Arab States that led to its formation were controlled by the Ottoman Empire before overcoming Turkey in World War I.
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Their main reason for forming the Arab League was to ensure that all Arab members were united. They also aimed at ensuring that all Arab states achieved their goals. It was from 1953 that its members started to increase in number.
In 1964, a meeting was called in Cairo to address the issue of the Palestinians. Unlike other nations, the Palestinian people were not represented in the League. The effect of the Cairo Summit was significant; “it led to the summoning of the first Palestinian National Council in East Jerusalem on 29th May 1964,” (Arab League, 2012). It was during the Palestinian meeting in East Jerusalem that the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was also formed.
The formed PLO was allowed to join the Arab League in 1976. However, the Arab League has been experiencing a lot of challenges from its members. For instance, the occasional wars in countries from the Middle East barred the League from meeting its objectives in the past few years. The Arab-Israel war of 1948 also contributed significantly to its failures. Additionally, the Gulf War of 1991 posed a great challenge to the League; it made the League not to succeed in initiating close cohesion (Hanna, 2012).
Egypt’s relationship with Israel was also a great challenge to the League. The peaceful talk between Egypt and Israel led not only to Egypt being expelled from the League but also to the transfer of the League’s headquarters from Cairo (Capital City of Egypt) to Tunis. However, Egypt was allowed to join the League again in 1989. The League’s headquarters were also relocated to Cairo a year later.
The intrusion of Iraqi into Kuwait in 1990 contributed significantly towards the creation of togetherness. It led to almost all Arab nations to take part in the war; nearly all Arab nations supported the UN and Nato in their efforts and campaigns in opposition to Iraq in the Gulf War. It was at the Beirut Congress held in late March 2002 that the League accepted the Arab Peace Initiative (Gui, 2013). The main reason for the introduction of the Arab Peace Initiative was to help end the conflict between the Arabs and the Israelites. The initiative succeeded in normalizing the relationship with Israel and in commanding Israel to withdraw from all the territories it had occupied. It also managed to remove Israel from Golan Heights and Gaza Strip.
“The Peace Initiative was again supported in 2007 at the Riyadh Summit” (Arab League, 2012). Towards the end of the same year, the Arab League advanced its interest in promoting the peace initiative. It sent the Egyptian foreign ministers to Israel to advocate the peace initiative.
The structure of the Arab League
The Arab League works towards ensuring that it has not interfered with the member states’ activities. It also guarantees its members sovereignty and independence. The Arab League has many objectives. For instance, it aims at maintaining and strengthening solidarity among the Arab States that are threatened by external pressures (Arab League, 2012). It also works towards ensuring cohesion and peace among its member states by offering arbitration. It also works towards opposing the usage of force between nations in conflict. The Arab League also aims at ensuring the cooperation of members in such areas as social, financial, and legal affairs. It is also determined to ensure that member states provide parliamentary, economic, and cultural support to each other (Hanna, 2012).
“The principle institutions that make the Arab League include the Council of the League, Secretariat General, and the Committees” (Gui, 2013). Other institutions that constitute it include not only the Joint Defense Council but also the Economic and Social Council.
The League Council
“The Council of the League is the supreme organ” (Gui, 2013). It constitutes representatives from the countries that make the Arab League. Its representatives congregate in Cairo twice a year. When there is a need, extraordinary meetings are held during a year. However, this only happens when more than two member states request for the session. The council plays a significant role in the league. It oversees and plans for all the activities carried out by the League. For instance, it ensures that all the agreements passed by different member states are put into effect. It also carries the role of appointing the Secretary-General.
The Joint Defense Council
“The Joint Defense Council was introduced after the signing of the treaty for mutual defense and economic cooperation between the countries that constituted the Arab League in 1950″ (Gui, 2013). It is constituted not only by Ministers for Foreign Affairs but also by Ministers for Defense from all the countries that make up Arab League. The initial signatory states during its formation were Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon.
Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Yemen were also among the signatory states. According to the signed Treaty, armed aggression to any of the Arab League members was illegal. It could receive opposition from all the members of the League. The signed Treaty also aimed at restoring peace and security at any incidence of conflict between Arab League member states. The Defense Council, together with the United Nations Security Council, works towards implementing the agreements outlined in article 6 of the Arab League (Gui, 2013). Additionally, the Joint Defense Council ensures that all agreements outlined in the article are implemented.
The Secretariat General
The Secretariat General is also one of the institutions of the Arab League. It is responsible for putting into action the decisions made by the Council of the League. It is an organ consisting of not only the Secretary-General but also of the Assistant Secretaries. Its members include other officials from member states. “The appointed Secretary-General has the power of appointing Assistant Secretaries and other key officials of the League” (Gui, 2013).
The Secretary-General is like an ambassador; he or she represents the League internationally. On the other hand, Assistant Secretaries transact the roles of Ministers (Gui, 2013). The Secretary-General is also responsible for drafting the budget of the League and providing it to the council for scrutiny and approval. He or she also ensures that the budget is managed appropriately. It is also the Secretary-General that fixes the dates for the meetings convened by the League. Additionally, the Secretary-General prepares and informs all the member states about the agenda of the council. He or she also makes reports and declaration on the issues discussed in the League’s meetings.
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The Economic and Social Council
The Economic and Social Council was introduced to substitute the Economic Council that was formed per the agreements made in the Treaty of June 1950. Its main goals include coming up with objectives relating to the economic and social development of the Arabic countries. It also takes part in not only promoting economic and social development ideas but also in controlling all the activities carried out by specialized agencies towards meeting the objectives of the League. Among the agencies that this council oversees, there is the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development and the Council for Arab Unity (Gui, 2013).
In order to implement its objectives, the League allowed the formation of the special committees. The committees formed constituted three groups; the main institution of the League that presided over the sessions, the “ad hoc” committees that carried out specific activities within the League, and the Permanent Committees that played the major roles within the League. Permanent Committees constitute Committees responsible for political matters, health matters, cultural issues, and finance and administration issues (Gui, 2013).
The Arab Human Rights Committee was introduced in 2008 after the League joined the Arab Charter on Human Rights to monitor the implementation of the proposed objectives.
The effectiveness of the Arab League
The main reason for the formation of the Arab League was to create a platform that could enhance the existence of a good relationship between Arab states. It also aimed at protecting the independence and sovereignty of Arab states (Jedea, 2011). However, its efficiency dwindled in the past years. Its members are divided into decision making. For instance, some members supported the Soviet Union, while others backed the Western camp during the Cold War.
There have also been continuous rivalries between Egypt and Iraq over the control of the League. “The hostilities between monarchies such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Morocco and new republics states such as Egypt, Syria, and Iraq have posed a great challenge towards its effectiveness” (Hanna, 2012).
The League also portrayed some levels of weakness during the attack of Saddam by the U.S. Some of its members backed the fighting against Saddam, while others opposed it. Additionally, some of its members avoided taking sides during the war against Saddam. Politics has also crippled the effectiveness of the League; most decisions are made to the advantage of the members that voted for them. It is also evident that most passed agreements by different councils are rarely employed. Despite all these, the League portrays some signs of rejuvenation (Jedea, 2011).
For instance, the League’s handling of the Libya incident “no-fly zone over Libya” proves that its members can come into consensus on crucial military issues. The seeking of guidance from it by organizations, such as NATO and the United Nations, proves that the League can be influential and effective. Additionally, its acceptance of people’s views concerning their respective administrations makes it a potential organization in the future.
Reasons for the League’s effectiveness
The causes for the League’s poor performance in the past decades are evident; it was guided by the desires of its members. This is evidenced by the reluctance of its members to assign enough powers to a great-national institution (Profile: Arab League, 2013). The members of the League also loved shifting patterns of competition among themselves instead of pursuing the League’s objectives. However, its involvement in some activities has proved its effectiveness.
For instance, its adoption of an activist role in 2011 portrays its desire to take control of all Arab regions. The League’s suspension and the imposition of sanctions on Syria enabled it to show the difference between the days when Arab leaders disregarded people’s opinions and the time when people’s opinions were observed to the later. The Arab League also has the desire to maintain Arabs as the control of the activities that take place within the Arab States (Profile: Arab League, 2013). The Arab League also wants to take control of Syria before Turkey. They want to achieve this by allowing the Syria issue to remain under the control of Arabs. Additionally, the League works towards ensuring that its citizens are safe.
The global performance of the Arab League
The past performance of the Arab League is very poor. It contributed insignificantly towards resolving conflicts and disputes between nations. The Arab League has been showing incompetence in carrying out interventions when needed. The League also failed to address the challenges its members faced within its organization. For instance, it failed to address the issue of Islamists in Hama that took place in 1982.
The League also failed to address regional issues like the ones that were taking place in Egypt. The members of the League were also biased. For instance, Amr Moussa contributed to its decision of barring Libya from attending crucial meetings, such as the League’s meetings. Additionally, the League failed in protecting the Libyans from Gadhafi’s oppression. Its slowness in addressing the Syrian issue made many people lose their lives. In addition, it made people perceive it as an unworthy institution.
However, the League has shown some improvement in the past few years. For instance, it has shown the essence of not adhering to the Westphalian system of intervening with other countries’ affairs (Danin, 2011). It has also proved worldwide that Arab leaders can work without supporting the abhorrent behaviors of their fellow leaders. It has also proved to the world that Arab people can have a say on the leadership they want (Danin, 2011).
Arab League was formed in early 1945 with the intention of uniting Arab countries. Its headquarters is located in Cairo. It has 22 member states. Its formation aimed at ensuring that Arab countries had common goals. Its structure constitutes the Council of the League, Secretariat General, and the Committees. Other institutions that constitute it include the Joint Defence Council that ensures the agreements are implemented, and the Economic and Social Council that comes up with developmental objectives.
The effectiveness of the Arab League has dwindled for the past few decades. Its members are ever divided into decision making. Additionally, its members are guided by their own desires. Arab League’s performance in managing conflicts has also been disappointing.
However, its recent steps have been effective; it has lead to many nations doing away with the Westphalian system of intervening with other countries’ affairs. It has also shown that Arab leaders can work without supporting the abhorrent behaviors of their fellow leaders. Additionally, its recent steps have shown that it can improve in the near future. For instance, it has employed methods of overcoming the current political transitions of its member states.
Arab League. (2012). Web.
Danin, R. (2011). At last, the Arab League hears the voice of the people. Web.
Gui, C. (2013). Arab League presentation – infrastructure. Web.
Hanna, M. (2012). The Arab League: First Steps Toward New Norms. Web.
Jedea, H. (2011). The Arab League’s Evolving Role in a Restless Middle East. Web.
Profile: Arab League. (2013). Web.