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Apr-01-2013 10:53printcomments

UPDATE FROM DAMASCUS: What's left of the Arab League?

Has the Arab League mortally wounded itself by declaring war on Syria?

Arab League
Image: dawn.com

(DAMASCUS) - Frankly, it never was much of a “League” of Arab states. And arguably it never really achieved a whole lot but two dozen lavish ‘summits’ offering inflated rhetoric, often calculated to assuage the Arab people about their central cause, Palestine.

This, despite high hopes across Arabia when its founders promulgated a Charter on March 22, 1945 and took a solemn oath to prevent the theft of Palestine by European colonists. Yet, notions of fundamental fairness require that we all acknowledge, that to its credit, the Arab League has tried to achieve a modicum of pan-Arab cooperation on issues involving economic and financial affairs, commercial relations, customs, currency, questions of agriculture and industry, communications including railroads, roads, aviation, navigation, postal services, cultural affairs, nationality, passports, visas, execution of judgments, extradition of criminals and even a bit regarding social affairs and health issues.

Despite years of pledges to eliminate visas requirements, along the lines of the European Shengen Visa, it should be noted that only one Arab country has waived visas for their Arab sisters and brothers internationally.

That would be the Syrian Arab Republic.

It is Syria, along with Palestine, out of all the 22 Arab League members, who most consistently and steadfastly have represented Arab Nationalism, Arab resistance to occupation, and the stated goals enunciated 66 years ago when the Arab League was established.

Many are asking why the ‘sanctions of its members-happy’ Arab League consistently fails to act on what is happening in Palestine and why it never has kept its pledge to suspend the AL membership of countries that host Israeli embassies against their people’s will.

There was once upon a time, now appearing far, far, away, that the Arab League countries were trying to achieve the liberation of Palestine. Or so they claimed. Then suddenly, the association morphed into twenty countries claiming to being committed to solving the issues of Palestine and Lebanon. Low and behold it was not so long after that the Arab League became nineteen countries trying to solve the questions of Palestine, Lebanon and Somalia.

How we all change with time. This week, during the 24th “Arab Summit” eleven countries, being pressured by outside interests with hegemonic geopolitical visions for the region, claimed they wanted to solve life’s problems on behalf of the other members.

24th “Arab Summit” photo: dailynewsegypt.com

If there is an Arab summit ten years from now, what will its agenda be like?

This week the global community saw that the Charter and by-laws of the Arab League, despite its mission to bring together Arabs, has been ignored with respect to the Syrian crisis from the beginning. Rather it has been actively working to prevent coming together especially with respect to Syria.

The organization was created at the time when a racist Zionist state was considered extremely unlikely by most countries but to make sure, an association of Arab states was organized to prevent, at all costs, the rumored project from becoming a reality. The first decision of the newly established League of Arab States was to boycott any European-financed Zionist movement or organization that might assist in the theft of Palestine.

Today unfortunately, and perhaps fatally for the AL, the complete obverse has obtained. In countless ways the Arab League is supporting the occupation of Palestine, while allowing itself to be preempted and shaped into an instrument of Western foreign policy as it plots against its own members. Far removed from its raison d’etre, which according to its Charter is to ensure a coming together of its members, it does everything that would promote the desires of the Zionist occupiers of Palestine while dividing the Arabs and preventing any kind of real union among them.


Much as the USA and its allies have corralled and preempted the UN Security Council, its agents have hijacked the League of Arab states and five other regional organizations. According to a congressional source who follows this issue, another international organization that has entered the sights of these Western hegemonic forces is the revitalized Non-aligned Movement (NAM), currently chaired by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Some Arab League analysts claim that here won’t be much left of the Arab League by 2020. One joke currently making the rounds on Capitol Hill is “Which will implode first, the Arab League or its master, the Zionist occupiers of Palestine?” Answer: “Too close to call.”

Last week in Doha, Qatar, the proceedings amounted to a self-inflicted, perhaps fatal wound for the Arab League when it essentially declared war on one of its founding members, Syria, and replaced it with a Western-funded, staffed, and armed group with not the faintest pretense of abiding by its Charter, including Article VIII, a main pillar of the concept of a League of Arab States:

    “Each member-state shall respect the systems of government established in the other member-states and regard them as exclusive concerns of those states. Each shall pledge to abstain from any action calculated to change established systems of government.”

In summary, there is nothing in the Arab League Charter permitting that body to expel or even sanction Syria. In fact, doing so violates the Charter. As seen many times, most recently in Libya, foreign intervention is never humanitarian but rather is always geo-political.

Is it now left to the BRICS states -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- to stand up to the AL and to help halt the conflict in Syria?

BRICS COUNTRIES Photo from The Dispatch gambiadispatch.com

There is growing sentiment in Syria that this group of five emerging powers may become a major hope for the Syrian people suffering from blatant Western intervention in their affairs and from the Arab League acting against their interests. The AL members who voted to expel or sanction Syria are merely channeling the geo-political interests of the United States and Israel, which, ironically, are increasingly being viewed among the Arab pubic as “unofficial members” of the Arab League.

On the other hand, It should be clear that if democracy is about anything, it's about self-determination and that the best hope for peace in Syria is that it is the Syrian people, not outsiders, who should be left to solve Syria's internal problems by themselves.

There is no escaping the fact that the result of the decisions made in Doha is that the Arab League has refused a peaceful settlement for Syria and that the AL recognition of the national coalition as the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people contradicts the Geneva Communique and, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed out this week, makes irrelevant the mission of UN and Arab League mediator for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi.

Given that one of the founders of the mandate, the Arab League, proclaims that the national opposition is now the only legitimate Government of Syria, and advocates the arming of its forces to oust the regime, how can there be negotiations? This decision to supply arms to the Syrian opposition not only violates international law, but again in the words of Lavrov, “is a blatant encouragement of confrontation of the irreconcilable forces on both sides to make them fight this war to the bitter end.”

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Dr. Franklin Lamb is Director of the Sabra Shatila Foundation. Contact him at: fplamb@sabrashatila.org. He is working with the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign in Lebanon on drafting legislation which, after 62 years, would, if adopted by Lebanon’s Cabinet and Parliament grant the right to work and to own a home to Lebanon’s Palestinian Refugees. One part of the PCRC legislative project is its online Petition which can be viewed and signed at: petitiononline.com/ssfpcrc/petition.html. Lamb is reachable at fplamb@palestinecivilrightscampaign.org. Franklin Lamb’s book on the Sabra-Shatila Massacre, International Legal Responsibility for the Sabra-Shatila Massacre, now out of print, was published in 1983, following Janet’s death and was dedicated to Janet Lee Stevens. He was a witness before the Israeli Kahan Commission Inquiry, held at Hebrew University in Jerusalem in January 1983.

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Anonymous April 2, 2013 5:13 am (Pacific time)

Isaia chapter 17

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