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What does one do with a broken, seemingly useless regional organization like the Arab League when it fails to be relevant anymore? Allow corrupt and wealthy member states to pour more money into it to keep it afloat. At least that has traditionally been the case with the Arab League.
By any measure, the Arab League has been a sad and utter failure since its inception. Far from achieving Arab unity – even though many of its member states can hardly be defined as Arab to begin with – the league has simply weathered the 60 or so years of its existence by accepting money from its oil rich member states to stay functional, but at what price? How can we expect an organization as weak as the Arab League to rise up to the challenges of our time and to help fix the challenges currently besetting the Middle East? We can’t, which is why it needs to be completely disbanded. Not reformed and tinkered with, but rather completely built anew from the ground up.
The Arab League was originally designed to achieve two main objectives. The first was to create a platform for political and economic cooperation between Arab states. The second was to represent a unified stance against Israel. It has failed on both counts. The Arab League has been fractious mainly because it denies itself to dream up a better vision of its world. Instead of rallying around ideals such as democracy and freedom, it has accommodated the worst of regime leaders, Omar Bashir of course being no exception.
Without the ability to agree on a single set of principles, no matter how general, the hopes of the Arab League ever achieving meaningful change in the region are nil. As the age old saying in Middle East goes, Arabs can only agree to disagree. Couple that with the Israel component of its founding charter and you have an organization that has been propped up to fail from the day it was created.
Instead of facilitating the corrupt status quo, countries like Tunisia and Egypt should lead the region by dropping out from the Arab League and jointly creating a newer version of the organization.
In both those countries the ideals of freedom and democracy brought down their corrupt leaders and presumably the whole system that kept them in power. With their reformed political structures in place, both countries could start drafting a new charter for a new Arab League that agrees with them in principle as well as vision.
By having a clear set of guidelines put forth as a pre-requisite for membership, the new Arab League can maintain its integrity and that of its members. After all, membership that is hard to attain and honorable to have is better than one that is raffled off to whatever country is interested in expanding its political portfolio. Therefore, respect for human rights, rule of law and democratic institutions should become the new norm in any draft charter agreement. Anything that falls short of that is really not worth fighting for, let alone paying hard earned money for.
The citizens of Egypt and Tunisia should start by demanding that their future governments review their financial assistance to the Arab League. They should also ask their new governments the tough question of whether it is appropriate for their countries to be contributing members of an organization that shields the same kind of despotic behavior that they fought, bled and died to get rid of in their own countries. Finally, they should consider if their honorable dreams of freedom could be expanded upon regionally and whether the newly minted characters of their nations need to be represented as such in forums such as the Arab League and beyond.