LAS at a Glance

By | October 7, 2021

SPOTLIGHT: The first summit between the Arab League and the EU took place on 24./25. February 2019 in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt and ended with a less informative final declaration. The focus was on refugee policy and the fight against terrorism. Overall, better cooperation is to be achieved. The date for the next summit makes it clear how “tight” this will be in the future: 2022…

According to DEFINITIONEXPLORER.COM, LAS stands for League of Arab States.

Background

The Arab League is an international organization of Arab states in the Middle East and Africa. The organization was founded on March 22, 1945 in Cairo and is also based there.

Goals

Promoting political, cultural, social and economic relations between the Member States; Safeguarding the independence and sovereignty of the member states and Arab external interests; Recognition of Palestine as an independent state (central political goal); Prevention and mediation of disputes between members.

Member States (22)

10 African and 22 Middle Eastern states including “Palestine”, which is not generally recognized internationally and is currently unofficially represented by the PLO. For details, see the table at the bottom of the page.

  • Syria’s membership has been suspended since November 2011.
  • From the end of December 2011 to the end of January 2012, the Arab League sent an observer mission to Syria, which, however, left without having achieved anything. The Syrian opposition rightly called the mission a farce.

Further external links

  • League of Arab States
    (website of the league. Also only available in Arabic in 2019; an English version is still missing). So please visit the link below.
  • League of Arab States in Washington DC – USA
    (Semi-official representation of the Arab League in Washington – in English)
  • Timeline: Arab League
    (website at BBC (UK) – in English. A chronology to 2011)

Organization

The League Council (Council of the Arab League) meets every six months at the level of the foreign ministers or their representatives; its recommendations are only binding for the members who approve in each case; If they are to be implemented, they must be approved by the heads of state and governments.

The secretariat is headed by a general secretary and has around 460 employees. In addition, there are so-called technical committees that function primarily as a preparatory and advisory body for the league council. The establishment of an Arab parliament is still under construction, a provisional parliament has been set up at the Cairo League headquarters.

Summits take place at the level of the heads of state (not the level of the heads of government) if necessary. The first summit conference did not take place in Cairo until almost 20 years after the League was founded in 1964; this summit was not really institutionalized until 2000.

Development

The league was founded on March 22, 1945 in Cairo (Egypt) as a loose association of originally exclusively Arab states. The 7 founding members were: Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Transjordan (now Jordan). In 1950 the founding treaty was supplemented by a (ineffective) defense pact. Today, 10 African states are among the 22 full members of the league.

The league’s work as a pioneer of Arab unity has so far not been successful; national interests and increasingly also Islamic fundamentalism prevented the realization of the goals.

The “Arab solidarity” proclaimed at a special summit in Cairo in 1996 has not yet led to a common stance towards Israel on the question of the return of the occupied Arab territories. In the Kosovo conflict, the league limited itself to humanitarian aid for Muslim refugees.

To date there has been no free border traffic between the member states, currencies are not convertible, books and newspapers are not freely exchanged.

Comment

The Arab League is an extremely heterogeneous organization that also includes a number of problem states. The internal problems of almost all Member States, their different forms of government and society as well as the open and latent tensions between many of the Member States make it extremely unlikely that a uniform position will be found. And if so, they should exhaust themselves in formulations on patient paper – as before…

The league became known to a wider public through the sweeping attack of Osama bin Laden, who on November 3, 2001 attacked not only the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize winners (the UN and its Secretary General Kofi Annan), but also those Arab states that were involved in the “criminal organization UN” work together, accused of treason. The foreign ministers of the league stated on November 4th that bin Laden was speaking neither in the name of Islam nor in the name of the Arab states. Rather, his statement documents that he now wants to wage a hybrid fight against the “entire world”.

Table
members of the Arab League (22)

22 states in Asia and Africa including “Palestine”, which is not generally recognized internationally and is currently unofficially represented by the PLO.

12 Middle East members
Bahrain (since 1971), Iraq (since 1945), Yemen (since 1945 South Yemen – since 1967 North Yemen), Jordan (since 1945), Qatar (since 1971), Kuwait (since 1961), Lebanon (since 1945), Oman (since 1971), Palestinian Territories (since 1976), Saudi Arabia (since 1945), Syria (since 1945), UAE (United Arab Emirates (since 1971)
10 African members
Egypt (since 1945 – membership suspended 1979-89), Algeria (since 1962), Djibouti (since 1977), Comoros (since 1993), Libya (since 1953), Morocco (since 1958), Mauritania (since 1973), Somalia (since 1974), Sudan (since 1956), Tunisia (since 1958)

Observer (5)
Brazil, Eritrea, India, Turkey, Venezuela

League of Arab States