The League of Arab States also known as the Arab League is a voluntary association of twenty two Arab nations. It has been established in order to strengthen the ties between the Arab nations and coordinate policies for overall economic and social development of the nations. The Arab League Charter introduced in the year 1945 by the founding members of the league is the underlying treaty binding this group of nations. It provides a framework of principles and rules that the nations must follow while solving conflicts and also while cooperating and coordinating with issues relating to welfare, health, economic and social factors and so on.
The effectiveness of the Arab league has been greatly hampered due to a seemingly innumerable list of reasons. Divisions between the nations as well as within each nation due to conflict of political interests, presence of rebel groups and lack of adequate resources are some of the common problems faced by the league. For example, during the Cold War, certain nations took to the Soviet Union’s side and the rest fell for Western ideologies. This caused a major crack in their unity. Division and rivalry in leadership between Egypt and Iraq, hostilities between nations that followed traditional monarchies such as Saudi Arabia and Morocco have also added on to the ever growing list of problems that hinder the progress, growth and unity among the Arab nations.
Another major issue the league faces is that the Arab treaty has no compliance measures to hold the nations accountable to its rules and regulations. This is because the decisions that are made by the nations are binding only for the members who voted for them and hence, this cripples the overall functionality of the league. This has resulted in the failure of the league to coordinate on policies relating to joint defence and economic cooperation rendering such bodies ineffective.
Surprisingly, the Arab Spring that took place in 2011 had restored the belief that these nations did indeed need to buckle up and reorient their policies in such a way that future incidents of rebellion can be solved in a peaceful manner. However, there was only talk about changing their outlook towards these problems and no concrete action had been taken since then. Addressing micro level problems such as education, incorporating modern technologies and curbing restrictions on individualistic freedom are also equally important for the league to prosper.
Despite having councils on joint military and economic cooperation, there are still several unanswered questions regarding its feasibility and functionality. At moments of military crisis, there is hardly any cooperation between the nations. For example, during the Iraq invasion of Kuwait, it took roughly two days for the member nations to acknowledge and condemn the act. Several months after this conflict, the league is still divided with some nations supporting Iraq and condemning international intervention.
Several propositions have been made in various council meetings with respect to having a common, joint military force. However, while this might look enticing as a candy which would give immediate sweetness and prosperity, it is definitely going to cause a disease in the long run for the league considering the current state of relations between the nations. If the league of nations cannot agree on one common policy relating to curbing rebel groups, how will they agree on how to use a joint military force and what are the regulations associated with it and so on? It will take years and years for the nations to come to a common ground on framing a set of guidelines on how the joint military force would work. Considering that these nations face far more pressing problems, prioritising the formation of a joint military force at the present moment would not prove to be beneficial.
Moving on to the economic problems, the Arab league nations have been characterised with a stagnant growth in GDP for several years. Most of these nations are oil dependent and hence when their only source of revenue backfires, they have no other strong industry to keep the GDP rate growing or at least, prevent it from falling. Moreover, the revenue generated from the oil sector can also be channelised to other sectors and create employment for the citizens. Lack of job creation has been one of the major hurdles that the league faces. In order to rectify this problem, it is strongly recommended that the league of Arab nations focuses on boosting the private sector in order to keep the GDP rate going up and also preventing economic stagnation.
The Arab League has the potential to be as successful as the European Union as long as it recognises the need to address the various issues that the league faces which is causing division and turmoil among them. Once these problems are resolved, the Arab League can be a powerful force to be dealt with.
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