Iran, the Arab League and Arab-Arab Struggles

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Behzad Khoshandam
PhD Candidate in International Relations

The situation in the Middle East following profound political developments called the Arab Spring, attests to the birth of a new Middle East with new order, players, orientations and struggles. Historical reports prove that the Middle East has been deep in frequent struggles following the World War II up to early 2012. The Arab-Israeli, Arab-Persian, Arab-Turkish, Arab-West, and Persian-West struggles are but a few examples.

However, never the Arab world has come so close to the threshold of a serious Arab-Arab struggle after the World War II as a result of developments in an Arab country and efforts made by an important Arab institution, namely the Arab League, to manage that country’s crisis.

The type of reaction shown by the Arab League to evolving developments and trends in Syria from the beginning of the unrest in Syria up to the January 2012 has increased the pace of this Arab-Arab struggle. As a result, the Arab League is trying to deal with the Syrian case as an immediate threat to international peace and security through the UN Security Council and in line with scenarios devised by transregional powers to undermine the “resistance axis” which is profoundly influenced by Iran.

The approach taken by the Arab League to interfere in the Syrian crisis during the past months clearly proves that the League is under heavy influence of strategic interests and traps laid by big transregional powers as well as evolving trends in international security all of which aim to shatter one of the main pillars of the “resistance axis” in the Middle East.

Apart from minor cases, Iran's and Syria’s relations with the Arab League have never been marked with serious challenges and confrontations in the past 33 years. According to available documents, the Arab League’s reaction to the Syrian developments as a pillar of the “resistance axis” is, in fact, in line with policies of important Arab states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia which are attuned with the United States’ policy against strategic goals of Iran and the “resistance axis” in the Middle East; the “resistance axis” which has stood against dominant discourses and equations of power and wealth in the international system for more than a decade.

In addition, assessment of the Arab League’s reaction to and positions on the Arab Spring, especially developments in Syria in the past year, has led to speculations about increasing hostility of the Arab League toward the “resistance axis” as political developments continue to unravel in this very important geopolitical and geostrategic region.

According to the Arab League Statute, this body is a regional identity-based and language-based institution and an Arab mechanism to protect, support and manage Arab political players. Therefore, it is not presumed to act for the elimination of its main members. However, all the existing evidence as well as objective realities related to the Arab League’s reaction to the Syrian crisis show that the League’s current stances will deepen the rifts in the Arab world and further deepen the Arab-Arab struggle.

As a result, measures taken by the Arab League with regard to the Syrian crisis over the past year, have given rise to a new and serious Arab-Arab struggle whose main future victims will be major Arab political players. The important point about this process is that evolution of an Arab-Arab struggle catalyzed by the Arab League in a new and changing Middle East, especially when future outlook of Syria is concerned, will be against known norms and principles of international relations such as non-interference, independence, sovereignty, and the process of democratic transition.

Let’s not forget that although further deepening of Arab-Arab struggle may meet the interests of certain Arab players in the short term, it will undoubtedly deepen Arab-West, Arab-Israeli, Arab-Turkish, and Persian-West struggles in the region. Nobody can deny that deepening of such struggles is neither to the benefit of regional powers, nor would it benefit people in the Middle Eastern countries.

More By Behzad Khoshandam:

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*UN and Islamic Uprisings in MENA:

*Iran and Concert of Powers: