The Arab League is a regional organization that was founded on March 22, 1945. The league’s function is to promote political cooperation among it’s member states, and to deal with disputes or any breaches of peace in the region. The league’s official name is the League of Arab States. The founding members of the league are: Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, and Yemen. Membership in the League was later extended to Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Southern Yemen, Sudan, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates. The headquarters of the League is located in Cairo, and it is run by a secretary general which is appointed by the league members. The work of any international organization which attempts to promote peace and political cooperation is usually confronted by several failures. However, in the case of the Arab League it has been evident that it is unable to sustain the peace within the region or aid in any political cooperation between the member states.
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The Gulf War could be said to be a test to the power of the Arab League and its presumed cooperation and handling problems strategies. The war started off by the invasion of Kuwait by its neighbor Iraq, both are member states in the Arab League. When the war started the status of the League at the time was murky. This could have been largely due to that all agreements are held in secret talks and through conversations held outside regular meetings. Furthermore, the activities of the League are unknown and usually misunderstood by the outside world, due to the organization has been eager to secure publicity for its activities. It is said that one of the main reasons that the governments of the Arab states can’t unite, is due to the imbalance of wealth, population and military power in the region (the economist 25). Under the articles of the Arab League, it was decided that the members of the league would aid one another in economic and military matters (khalil). Therefore, the question of allocating the wealth of the Arab countries was solved. Moreover, the League cannot intervene in the way any of the countries wishes to allocate its resources. Furthermore, since the 1980s the league has failed to show any kind of unity. In 1983, Syria’s President Assad supported a mutiny with the PLO against Yassir Arafat.
However, such acts cannot be prevented by the league since when in session those allegations were denied. Furthermore, in 1989 Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, North Yemen, and Saudi Arabia joined together to form a new Arab Co-operation Council (international 53). All five members are also members of the Arab League, which basically does the same functions as the new council. Meanwhile, the Arab League had not yet reinstated Egypt as a full time member, since President Sadat’s signing of the peace treaty with Israel (international 53). The only evident reason that allowed Saudi Arabia to agree for Egypt to join the new council, was that it feared that Iraq would take control over the council and start bothering it’s Arab neighbors, since it has ended it’s war with Iran (international 53). Saudi Arabia along with the other council members, needed Egypt’s military power to balance the tables at the council. It has become evident that the problems of the Arab League are due to faults in the organization, but due to the faults of the leaders of such an organization. In June, 1996 the Arab Summit took place in Egypt. The summit was called to discuss the newly elected Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. However, the summit seemed to concentrate on something else. “They may be standing together in a show of unity in Cairo, but many of the Arab leaders gathered here have been known to seek the title of kingpin of the Middle East” (Roth,1).
The fact that this quote has been said is alone proof of a rivalry between the Arab leaders. Though that this rivalry is nothing serious, it does show a kind of lack of trust betweenArab leaders, whom all want to be in control. With the creation of the League of Arab states, which was set forth by El-Nahas Pasha, Egyptian Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1945, with the goal to build a strong and united Arab world, the world changed its view of the nomadic tribes that lived in this region. Through time, the problem of Arab unity has become a greater threat to the outside world, “the Arab world seems almost like a sleeping giant, rising up now to show its might” (young,1).