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The Arab Spring

  • Date Submitted: 02/19/2012 09:38 AM
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Introduction to the Arab League


“The purpose of the League is to draw closer the relations between member States and co-ordinate their political activities with the aim of realizing a close collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries.”

So reads the founding pact of the Arab League(formally known as the League of Arab States), signed in 1945 by the seven founding states: Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, North Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Transjordan. Since then, the League has expanded to include 22 member states united in the goal of ensuring peace, prosperity and security in the region.

In spite of the Arab League’s goal of unity between the Arab nations, the organisation’s effectiveness has been hampered by divisions between its members. Member States have often been on opposing sides of important conflicts, such as the Cold War and the wars in Iraq.

The original impetus behind the League’s formation was the desire of the British to rally the Arab nations against the Axis powers.However, it was not until the final months of the Second World War that the League was formed. Instead, the League’s creation was an expression of pan-Arab ideals and the desire to give a greater voice to the Arab peoples.

In its early years, the Arab League ratified important treaties,including a cultural treaty and a Joint Defence and Economic Cooperation Treaty. However, very few practical steps have been taken to implement the treaties, particularly in the military arena(despite attempts to revive this in 20073). As Sayed Eliwa, political science professor of the Egyptian Helwan University, says, “Many Arabs are getting much more disappointed that a host of resolutions and statements could not be translated into actions.” Qatar’s foreign minister Sheikh Hammad bin Jassem complained, “[the Arab League’s] meetings are ceremonial and we don’t have a defined...

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