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Ahmed Aboul Gheit Heading the League of Arab Nations and the Outlook of Arab-Arab Struggle

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Behzad Khoshandam
Ph.D. in International Relations & Expert on International Issues

The concurrence between appointment of Ahmed Aboul Gheit as the new secretary general of the Arab League in July 2016 and labeling of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement as a terrorist group in the organizations’ latest meeting in Cairo, Egypt, again in 2016, which followed a similar decision by the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council [(P)GCC], are among important issues to be taken into account for assessing future performance and effectiveness of this body on the world stage. Also, the simultaneity between choosing the Arab League’s new secretary general in early 2016 and labeling of Hezbollah as terrorist raises one question: can we expect changes in the Arab League’s announced and proclaimed actions and dynamism with regard to evolving developments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) under the chairmanship of Ahmed Aboul Gheit?

The Arab League, as a regional organization covered by Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, which has been active on the world stage since March 22, 1945, must be basically trying to maintain and promote global peace and security and avoid being influenced by the world powers, as well as other effective and powerful structures. However, on the contrary, the League has now put the name of Hezbollah on the list of terrorist groups to raise doubts about the possible influence of godfathers on this organization, which have made it go astray from the normal course of the evolving regional order and international law.

In the expanding Arab-Arab conflict that has been going on in the past five years within the security complex of the Middle East and North Africa, and especially with regard to management of the global crisis in Syria, the Arab League has mostly appeared as a passive observer that has been manipulated by important actors. For many years, this league has distanced itself from its founding idea and philosophy. Based on the statute and charter of the Arab League, this identity- and language-based institution is a mechanism to protect, maintain, support and manage the resources and interests of Arab actors. Therefore, the position, identity and global weight of the Arab League within the current global and regional order, and also within the emerging global and regional order, has been on the fall in the past five years due to its distancing from its original goals and also as a result of the following five reasons:

1. Increasing passivity of the Arab League which has had no mechanism for the management of the Arab civil society, and the Arab Spring, as well as its inefficacy with regard to freedom-seeking trends launched by Arab nations in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere, and its passivity in the face of the rise and soaring of Daesh and the spread of terrorism and extremism in Syria, Iraq, and North Africa between 2010 and 2016;

2. The type of strategic and tactical action taken and reaction shown by the Arab League in response to crises in Syria and Yemen has increased the speed of this Arab-Arab conflict, which is characterized by its voluminous effects and the high number of actors involved in it. Suspending the membership of Syria at the Arab League from November 2011 and mounting increasing pressures on the regional resistance axis can be construed along the same lines;

3. The third reasons is a request by the secretary general of the Arab League to meet and confer with the secretary general of the United Nations in order to get support of the Security Council for the Arab League’s plans for future of Syria since late January 2012, and the tacit support provided by the Arab League to extremist trends and actors and opposition groups in Syria, which are in line with the policies of Saudi Arabia and Turkey in the region;

4. Encouraging and deepening Arab-Western, Western-Russian, Arab-Turkish, and Arab-Persian conflicts by making efforts to create divides among Arabs in the period of 2011-2016, through medium- and long-term processes by taking such measures as the failed attempt at forming a single military force in the Arab world and staging Iranophobic military maneuvers in the region;

5. Lack of any effort by the Arab League for taking advantage of cooperative and convergent regional opportunities that were created by the main non-Arab actors, like Iran, and the degree of their strategic alliance with some Arab actors, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraq in the region;

6. Getting involved in proxy wars launched by Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United States, and Turkey in the Middle East and North Africa during the third millennium and not showing practical compliance with the binding decisions of the United Nations Security Council with regard to future course of the political transition in Syria on the basis of the Security Council resolutions 2254 and 2268.

While major actors within the Arab League are exposed to huge terrorist threats and face the increasing risk of implosion, disintegration and civil war, at the beginning of Ahmed Aboul Gheit’s term as secretary general, this regional body has been moving toward the self-manufactured Arab-Arab trap and in doing so is practically committing strategic suicide. By designating some of its important and key members as terrorist groups, the Arab League is playing the game designed for it by radicalism-oriented and ill-wishers of this league. Under the current critical conditions, the Arab League shoulders a historical responsibility to promote Islamic solidarity, develop its discourse and political functions, develop regional convergence, negate extremist discourses, resolve the issue of Palestine, and rectify the ongoing undesirable trends in Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Bahrain and Yemen.

Failure to overcome the paradox of respecting some members while calling some other members terrorist, in line with the interests and foreign policy goals of effective actors within the Arab League, will cause this body to meet its doom through the Arab-Arab conflict. The sole immediate solution for the Arab League to reclaim its position and reform its structure, trends, policies and strategies is to show commitment to peaceful settlement of disputes on the basis of Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations, and to denounce negative and rejectionist policies of this league with regard to important Arab and non-Arab actors in the Middle East on the basis of the rights and obligations of this international legal person. During the term of Ahmed Aboul Gheit as secretary general, the success to overcome this huge challenge on the basis of the principle of international responsibility will be the sole key to survival and increasing effectiveness of this league and will help this actor reclaim its position in future developments, which are gradually unraveling in the Middle East and North Africa.

Key WordsAhmed Aboul Gheit, League of Arab Nations, Arab-Arab Struggle, (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council (P)GCC, Arab-Arab Conflict, Middle East and North Africa, Arab Spring, Daesh, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Yemen, Syria, Khoshandam

More By Behzad Khoshandam:

*Partial Withdrawal of Russia’s Military from Syria: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Partial-Withdrawal-of-Russia-s-Military-form-Syria.htm

*Turkey, NATO Syndrome and Cessation of Hostilities in Syria: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Turkey-NATO-Syndrome-and-Cessation-of-Hostilities-in-Syria.htm

*2016 US Presidential Election Debates: Returning to or Rejecting the Iran Option: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/2016-US-Presidential-Election-Debates-Returning-to-or-Rejecting-the-Iran-Option.htm

*Photo Credit: Sputnik News

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