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Arab League

Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates
The Arab League [also called League of Arab States (LAS), in Arabic Al-Jami'a Al-Arabiyah, or Al-Jami'a Ad-Duwal Al-Arabiyah] is an organization that consists of independent Arab States on the territory of northern and north-eastern part of Africa and southwest Asia. Founded as a loose confederation of states in 1945, the Arab League has struggled to overcome dysfunction and disunity among its members. It is interesting to note that the combined gross domestic product of the 22 countries in the Arab League is less than the GDP of Spain. Domestic problems abound in this world and its leaders are constantly avoiding sparks that might ignite a greater fire.

The Arab League, commonly known as the League of Arab States, was formed in 1945 to give political expression to the Arab nation. The original drive behind the league from the British in 1942, who hoped to rally the Arab nations against the Axis powers, but the league did not form until the final months of World War II. The original charter members were Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan (now Jordan), Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. Although not an original signatory of the charter because he represented no official government, a representative of Palestinian Arabs was given full status and a vote in the Arab League.

The year 1945 saw the implementation of the Arab League Pact, which later that year boycotted Jewish businesses in Palestine to oppose the formation of Israel. By 1947, hundreds of thousands of Jews had migrated to Palestine in the aftermath of the Holocaust. Britain and the United Nations affirmed that three new entities would be created in Palestine - an Arab State; an International zone in Jerusalem, and a Jewish State. The Arab League met and rejected the UN resolution, vowing to nullify it by force of arms.

The league is organized into a council, special committees, and a permanent secretariat; the secretariat currently has its headquarters in Cairo. The league votes with each member country having a single vote of equal weight, irrespective of its size. The constitution of the league provides for coordination among the signatory nations in the areas of education, finance, law, trade, and foreign policy, and it forbids the use of force to settle disputes among members. A joint defense treaty was signed in 1950.

During the inception year of the Arab league, it took a position supporting Syria and Lebanon in their disputes with France and also demanded an independent Libya. Later, in 1961, it supported Tunisia in a conflict with France. From the beggining years the league made public its oppostion to Israel and offered its support towards the formation of a Palestinian States with a majority Arab population. Shortly after the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 the league countries jointly attacked it, but Israel resisted the multifaced attack successfully. The league continued to maintain a boycott of Israel and of companies trading with Israel. The summit conferences of 196465 established a joint Arab military command, which has failed to provide a unified strategy towards the formation of a State of Palestine.

Egypt's membership in the League was suspended from 1979 to 1989 because of its treaty with Israel, and the league's headquarters were temporarily moved to Tunis. In 1988, the league endorsed the PLO's plan for a negotiated settlement with Israel, and therefore returned its headquarters to Cairo in 1991.

After much debate, the league ultimately supported Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88). However the league remained divided over the Iraqs invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the ensuing Persian Gulf War.

The United States has long opposed the Arab League boycott through both words and action. U.S. Government officials have urged Arab League member states to end enforcement of the boycott. Many agencies play a role in this effort. The U.S. Department of State and U.S. embassies in relevant host countries take the lead in raising U.S. boycott-related concerns with political leaders in Arab League member states. The U.S. Departments of Commerce and the Treasury and the United States Trade Representative monitor boycott policies and practices of Arab League member states and, aided by U.S. embassies, lend advocacy support to firms facing boycott-related pressures from host country officials.

Arab leaders agreed March 29, 2015 to form a joint military force in the face of the "challenges" facing the region, Egypt's president announced on the final day of a two-day Arab summit. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi made the comment Sunday during the Arab League's closing session at the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh. "The Arab leaders had decided to agree on the principle of a joint Arab military force," he said. Sissi said a high-level panel will work under the supervision of Arab chiefs of staff to work out the details.

Egyptian officials said the proposed force would be made up of roughly 40,000 elite troops and backed by jets, warships and light armor. Working out the make-up and structure of the force is expected to take months, and previous attempts to create a unified command in the divided Arab world have failed.

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Page last modified: 29-03-2015 20:27:23 ZULU