• كلمة الدكتور

    كلمة الدكتور كمال الأسطل:

    نسعى جاهدين لدعم الطالب الفلسطيني في كافة المجالات ، واستغلال التكنولوجيا المعلوماتية لذلك قمنا بانشاء الموقع الالكتروني , ويحتوي على مميزات عديدة من اجل ...
  • التفاعل والمشاركة

  • CV - السيرة الذاتية

الخميس17-08-2017

   خدمات الموقع

عزيزي الزائر الكريم يمكنك استخدام الخدمات التالية
  مراسلة الدكتور كمال الأسطل

  يمكنك التمتع بمزيد من الخدمات بعد التسجيل

  ملاحظة: ترسل جميع الملفات والأبحاث عل الإيميل التالي:
kamaltopic@gmail.com



  أقسام الموقع

الرئيسية
اصدارات
مذكرات
العائلة والأسرة
البوابة الالكترونية
المناهج والدراسات الجامعية
إستشارات وآراء
معرفة وحكم
Researches
قضايا
السيرة الذاتية - CV
الجديد في الفكر والسياسة

Futural Perspective of Reforming the League of Arab States (LAS)

 تاريخ النشر: 26/1/2011   وقت 4:18:26 مساءً   | طباعة |  ارسل لصديق

Futural Perspective of Reforming the League of Arab States (LAS)

 

Review and Analysis of Official and Intellectual Initiatives to Reform the LAS External Challenges and  Internal Response: Scenarios for the Future

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Kamal M M Al-Astal

Associate Professor (Political Science)

Dept of Political Science-Faculty of Economics. & Administrative. Sciences

Ex-Dean- Faculty of Econ. & Administrative  Sciences

 Ex-Head of the Dept of Political Science and Ex-Dean of the Faculty

Al-Azhar University of Gaza-Palestine

Tel: 00970 8 2051966 Telfax: 00970 8 2054966  Mobile: 00970 599 843 850

Email: peacearab@yahoo.com
Futural Perspective of Reforming the League of Arab States (LAS )

An Analytical Review of Arab Official and Intellectual Initiatives to Reform the League of Arab States: External Challenges and  Internal Response

 Scenarios for the Future

 

Introduction

The League of Arab States, or Arab League, was established in 1945 to promote economic, political and social cohesion between emerging Arab states Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

The founding members affirmed their commitment to "draw closer the relations between member States and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries."

In its formative years, the 22-member Arab League became involved in supporting Arab independence movements against former colonial powers Great Britain and France.

Following the Arab defeat in the war which broke out shortly after Israel was established in 1948, the League shifted its focus to rejecting an Israeli presence in the Middle East and supporting Palestinian nationhood. In 1950, the Arab states signed a mutual defence treaty.

The Arab League has also served as a forum for mediating Arab disputes.

Though the League helped establish a little-used Arab Common Market in the 1960s and attempted to facilitate inter-Arab trade, infighting has kept plans of an economic bloc far from being realised.

Many in the Arab World say that the League's effectiveness over the course of its 64-year history has slowly eroded as disputes between member states increase.[1]

This paper looks at the future of the League of Arab States from the perspective of the way in which present thinking can influence what the future might be. It assumes that history shapes the future and that the present generation is in a position to shape it.[2]

The once lauded forum of pan-Arabism, the League of Arab States (LAS), is suffering from impotency, lacking the consensus and legitimacy to take action. Yet as the only regional body of its kind in the Middle East, the League of Arab States needs to pursue reform based on  pan-Arab consensus.[3]

“The Arab League was established,  in 1945, at a different time under different conditions and it needs to change so as to cope with the challenges of the current world”[4]

The year 2003, and after, witnessed extensive action in the area of Arab collective action. At the heart of this action lay the goal of reforming the League of Arab States (LAS). Efforts to reform the League over the span of this year were an extension of an effort, which began in 2002 focusing primarily on ideas and projects presented by the Secretary General Mr. Amr Moussa for the development and restructuring of the Arab League. However, this year, the Arab state system was the subject of an overwhelming number of initiatives for reform and improvement, reflecting unprecedented enthusiasm on this front. However, a serious question mark hangs over whether any of these ideas will ever become a reality.

In 2003, Mr. Amr Moussa the Secretary General of the Arab League invited a select number of Arab intellectuals representing different views to a closed meeting for the purpose of debating ways to reform the League.[5] He pointed out the need to bring more transparency and democracy into the Arab League, ensure financial dues to the League are paid from the members and most important of all, guarantee that adopted resolutions are implemented.[6]

This paper reviews and analyses a number of Arab Initiatives and Ideas focusing on reforming the Arab League of States (LAS). The research paper also examines various writings and reviews literature dealing with this important issue. In addition the research introduces a futural perspective of the LAS reforming process.

 

Importance of the Study

In spite of the voluminous literature on the League of Arab States (LAS), to the researcher’s own  knowledge there have been few specific studies (if any) made in the subject of reforming the LAS. This is one of two reasons which made the researcher thinks of undertaking this research paper focusing on the Arab Governmental and Intellectual reform initiatives of the League of Arab States (LAS). Particularly, the Arab official and non-official initiatives to reform the LAS which celebrated its 64th    anniversary in March 2006. The other reason is that the question of political, economic and administrative reform  which has become a pretext to external interference in the Arab  internal affairs. This latter reason then, made research in this subject, from the researcher's point of view ever more important in need of clarification.

In addition, the researcher will introduce futural scenarios for reforming the League of Arab States.

 

Objectives of the Study

This research paper aims at:

v                              Reviewing a number of official and non-official ideas focusing on LAS reforming.

v                             Discussing various Arab initiatives of reforming the League of Arab States.

v                             Showing a situation in which several (internal and external) factors have been used to raise the issue of reform in the Arab Regional System, particularly the LAS.

v                             Examining whether the Arab reform initiatives are serious or mere slogans to satisfy/ pacify the external powers (i.e. the U.S.A.).

v                             Taking part in documenting the LAS reform initiatives.

v                             Drawing a future perspective and scenarios of reforming the LAS.

 

Statement of the Problem of the Study

What are the main proposals/suggestions for reforming the League of Arab States (LAS)? Is there such a thing as a collective Arab vision? What is the role of the Arab League in attaining this vision if it exists? How should Arabs respond to international and external calls for reform? Is there an Arab reform agenda? On Aljazeera.net put these questions and more to Amr Moussa, the Secretary-General of the Arab League in Cairo. Such questions and more constitute the core statement of the problem of this research paper.

The paper focuses on examining the Arab official and non-official and intellectual calls for reforming the LAS. The main question is How will the LAS reform and survive in the 21st century?

The researcher agues that there is no magic wand to reform the LAS, but there could be a mechanism for addressing issues.

            Other questions are raised such as what is the future of the LAS? What is the fate of  the LAS reform initiative? What are the futural perspective and futural prediction of the reform in the LAS as a pan-Arab body representing the Arab Regional System?.

 

Hypotheses of the Study

This paper examine two hypotheses:

v                             The first, the majority of Arab Initiatives calling on to reform the LAS were motivated by external factors more than internal obligations and commitments. Most of the Arab official initiatives were declared to satisfy and pacify the  external actors such as the USA.

v                             The second, the Arab calls to reform the LAS are mostly slogans without real intentions to be applicable in reality.

v                             The future of reforming the LAS depends on many internal and external factors in unstable regional and global environment.

 

 

The Scope of the Study

            The analysis deals with the issue of reforming the League of Arab States (LAS). It seems that the LAS needs to cope with the current situation at the regional and internal levels and loud voices calling for democracy and reform in the Arab World. The American Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI) and the American "Greater Middle East" vision has been highlighted the reform issue in the LAS and Arab regimes as well.  The analysis raises the question of  how  the Arab Regimes had dealt with such challenges and confronted these reformative and democratization initiatives. The discussion concentrates on Arab Regimes and intellectuals re-actions and policies towards the  calls for  LAS reforming.

The historical scope of the research paper covers the period following the 11th September 2001 and the American Initiatives to impose and dictate reform in the Arab World according to the American criteria.

The researcher will shed light on the future of reform initiatives of the League of Arab States. Historical background and Futurology will be employed  throughout the analysis

 

Methodology: Descriptive Analysis and Futurology

Throughout the analysis, the researcher follows the descriptive analytical approach and the text analysis approach. The historical analysis approach is also used throughout this paper. In addition, the future and predictive analysis approach will be used in this study. Futurology has been become a very important approach in drawing scenarios and predictions.

 

Futurology and predictive approach: a Theoretical framework

Futurology is the scientific prediction of the future. To predict the future, it is necessary to understand the present, all the forces that are relevant in shaping every aspect of the present and how these forces are expected to shape things and events in the future. Futurology analyzes the future in a medium to long-term horizon. It projects the recent trends into the future, through extrapolation, scenario building, brainstorming, forecasting and a variety of other techniques. Futurology also involves taking the proactive stand of importing desirable future outcomes or scenarios and conducting normative research to explore better strategies.[7]

The open future view is the common-sense view that there is an ontological difference between the past, the present, and the future in the sense that the past and the present are real, whereas the future is not yet a part of reality. In this paper we develop a theoretical analysis based on analyzing and a real initiatives to reform the LAS in which the open future view is consistently combined with special relativity and uncertainness.

 

Futurology Methods: a Theoretical Framework and Review of approaches

    There are a number of  Predictive and futural Approaches and Methods. There researcher will introduce a number of examples as follows:

 

1-Technology Foresight Method

Technology foresight is a prediction methodology for determining the most likely technological developments in the mid-term future. It is defined as "Systematic attempts to observe the long-term future of science, technology, the economy and society, with the aim to identify the emerging technologies that will probably produce the greatest economic and social benefits”.

In technology foresight projects the producers and users of science and technology in the innovation system are brought together to develop a common vision of the future developments. The timeframe of foresight usually ranges between 10 and 30 years. From the timeline given by this method, theorists may craft the rest of society, taking into consideration the tenet that social, political, and economic patterns revolve around technological advancements.[8]

2-Scanning Method

Environmental scanning is an approach to detecting hidden clues about the future in available information sources. It can be described as the activity of rapidly surveying news media, digesting the literature of science, the literature of popular culture, the literature of just about everything. Environmental Scanning is performed prior to a foresight study and is considered a pre-requisite to any futures studies.

 

3-Extrapolation Method

Trend analysis (trend extrapolation) is a forecasting method based on identifying, based on historical data and observations, an ongoing change. The point of trend analysis is to identify the trend early, while it is still likely to continue in the future.

Of course, the further in time the extrapolation, the greater the uncertainty of the event happening and there is no guarantee that the variable will continue to change the way it did in the past. This kind of trend analysis is normally used to draw attention to the forces that could change the extrapolated pattern. More sophisticated analysis (e.g. time series analysis) can be used to try to reveal different patterns.

Trend analysis can also be used to identify qualitative trends, where the quantitative data cannot be obtained (example: globalization). Characterizing such trends requires creative and systemic thinking and is one of the most challenging aspects of futures research.

 

  4- Scenario Method

Scenario analysis is one the most popular and widely used method in futures studies and foresighting. The scenario based planning methodology is an analytic framework tool used for ordering one's perceptions about alternate future environments in which today's decisions might play out. Scenario planning is not a predictive mechanism, but a way to manage uncertainty today.

Scenario analysis is a process of analyzing possible future events by considering alternative possible outcomes or scenarios (using expert judgment, rather than quantitative forecasts). Each scenario developed tells a story about an "alternative" future world and encourages those who explore it to "stretch" their imaginations and suspend their preconceived judgments in order to develop a perspective on complex events contained in that world.

Existing or newly formulated strategies and policies can then be tested against the future scenarios. The method is a powerful planning tool because it is based on the idea that the future is unpredictable; it enables one to ask what the future might hold and to identify relevant actions that can be taken today, no matter how the future turns out.

 

5-Delphi Survey Method

The Delphi Survey technique is a popular method used in prediction. It involves a panel of experts that judge the timing, probability, importance and implications of factors, trends, and events regarding the problem in question. The basic idea of the Delphi method is as follows: [9]

v                              create a list of statements/questions

v                              have the experts give their ratings/answers/etc.

v                              make a report - send it out to everyone

v                              have the experts revise their answers

v                              make the second report

 

6- Opinion Polls

In politics it is common to attempt to predict the outcome of elections via Political Forecasting techniques (or assess the popularity of politicians) through the use of opinion polls. Prediction games have been used by many corporations and governments to learn about the most likely outcome of future events with amazing accuracy.

 

7- Informal prediction from hypothesis

Outside the rigorous context of science, prediction is often confused with informed guess or opinion.

A prediction of this kind might be valid if the predictor is a knowledgeable person in the field and is employing sound reasoning and accurate data. Large corporations invest heavily in this kind of activity to help focus attention on possible events, risks and business opportunities, using futurists. Such work brings together all available past and current data, as a basis to develop reasonable expectations about the future.[10]

 

8- In a scientific context, a prediction is a rigorous, (often quantitative), statement forecasting what will happen under specific conditions, typically expressed in the form If A is true, then B is also true. The scientific method is built on testing assertions that are logical consequences of scientific theories. This is done through repeatable experiments or observational studies.

A scientific theory whose assertions are not in accordance with observations and evidence will probably be rejected. Theories that make no testable predictions remain protosciences until testable predictions become known to the community.

Additionally, if new theories generate many new predictions, they are often highly valued, for they can be quickly and easily confirmed or falsified. In many scientific fields, desirable theories are those that predict a large number of events from relatively few underlying principles.

Quantum physics is an unusual field of science because it enables scientists to make predictions on the basis of probability.

Mathematical models and computer models are frequently used to both describe the behaviour of something, and predict its future behaviour.

In microprocessors, branch prediction permits to avoid pipeline emptying at branch instructions. Engineering is a field that involves predicting failure and avoiding it through component or system redundancy.

Some fields of science are notorious for the difficulty of accurate prediction and forecasting, such as software reliability, natural disasters, pandemics, demography, population dynamics and meteorology.[11]

 

 

Resources and Literature review focusing on Reforming the League of Arab States

The research  paper is based on primary sources, documents, articles, analyses, and internet. The researcher reviews a number of Arab official and non-official viewpoints focusing on reforming the LAS.

 

Structure of the Study

This research paper consists of an introduction and a conclusion in addition to a number of issues to be addressed as follows:

Futurology: a Theoretical Framework and Review of approaches

1-                              The External Challenge and Reforming the League of Arab States: The American-led Campaign for Reform In the Arab World: American Pressures vis-à-vis Arab Leaders' Re-Action.

2-                              Reforming League of Arab States: Defining Issues to be Addressed: External Intervention versus Arab Internal Imperatives.

3-                              The Arab Regimes Official  Initiatives to Reform the League of Arab States: An Analytical Review.

     (1) The Egyptian Initiatives/Proposals to activate and revive the role of the League of Arab States (LAS).

     (2) The Saudi Initiative to Reform the League of Arab States.

     (3) The Yemeni Initiative to reform the LAS: Creating an Arab Union.

    (4) The Libyan Initiative to Reform the LAS: Creating an Arab Union

    (5) Qatari  Proposal/Ideas for Reforming the League of Arab States.

     (6) Sudanese Initiative/ Ideas for Reforming the LAS.

4- A Summary of the Various Arab Official/Governmental Initiatives to Reform the LAS.

5- Analysis and Observations on Various Arab Official/Governmental Initiatives.

6- Intellectuals/Writers’ Viewpoints to reform the LAS.

 (1) Reforming the LAS: Mustapha Al Faqi's point of view.

 (2) Reforming the LAS: Mohamed Sid-Ahmad's viewpoint.

 (3) Arab League: Democracy, Unity and Reform,  Saad S. Khan's Viewpoint

 (4) Creating An Arab Parliament: Naguib Mahfouz Viewpoint.

7- The Modest Results of the Initiatives to Reform the LAS.

8-Arab Parliament was established and met in Cairo on 27th December 2005

9- Futural Perspective and Scenarios of Reforming League of Arab States.

10-The LAS Reform Future: External and Internal Challenges

11- LAS Reform and the Future: Scenarios

Conclusion: the nature of LAS reform efforts: Initial Evaluation and Recommendations.

References and Endnotes.

 

 

1- The External Challenge and Reforming the League of Arab States: The American-led Campaign for Reform In the Arab World: American Pressures vis-à-vis Arab Leaders' Re-Action

 

The reform initiatives, proposed over the course of the year 2003 and after, came as a response to the dramatic events that the region underwent in the year 2003. The American war on Iraq and the consequent occupation of this large Arab country presented a real challenge to the League of Arab States whose role was completely absent during that war. The war on Iraq raised many challenges to the League, starting with how to deal with the war, to how to deal with the results of the war, the best position to take vis-à-vis the Iraqi transitional government, and finally its position towards American pressures on Arab regimes to undertake internal reforms (The American  Greater Middle East Initiative). External pressures to reform created a feeling of panic among most Arab regimes who felt that their sovereignty and their very existence were being threatened for the first time since independence. Initiatives to reform the League were thus proposed against this background.[12]

 In the wake of the American-led campaign for democratization and reform in the Middle East and Arab World a number of Arab initiatives were launched calling for political, economic, and social reform at the micro and macro levels.[13]

In his answer of a question by Al-Jazeera. Net Amr Moussa, the Secretary-General of the LAS confessed that "…there is wide disappointment in the Arab League and expect more. But I would be much more worried if they were apathetic rather than disappointed."[14] "The broad based demands from every corner of the Arab world for effective Arab cooperation reflect the importance which the peoples of this region attach to their common Arab identity and I believe it is that passion which will be the key driver of progress in the region". Musa maintained.[15]

This is not to deny that there is evident disappointment and that much more needs to be done to meet the unprecedented political/security challenges that face the LAS in the region today. The league and its members need to move effectively to respond to those demands. Part of that response is reinvigorating and reforming the league as an institution. The Secretariat and a number of states had already presented proposals for making the league a more effective forum and vehicle for Arab cooperation. These are just some of the practical and defined steps which have been proposed and which are being discussed right now to make this an organization that lives up to the expectations of the Arab peoples. But nothing will succeed unless there is rigorous reform in Arab societies themselves. You cannot reform the league without reforming the Arab world itself. Moussa argues.[16]

On 20 January 2004 Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal and Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad discussed, in Damascus, plans to reform the Arab League, the Syrian state news agency SANA reported. Their talks focused “on the current situation in the Arab world and the formulas proposed to reform the Arab League”, which has been accused of being ineffective, it said.[17]

Prince Saud also said he and President Mubarak reviewed Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa’s ideas for reforming the 22-member pan-Arab organization which is based in Cairo. Diplomats said Arab foreign ministers were expected to meet in Cairo on Feb. 10, 2004, to draw up a program of reforms for consideration at the Tunis Arab summit which had been scheduled to be held in March 2004. At the same time, Saud and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher met with Moussa to discuss the situation in Iraq and efforts to revive the Middle East peace process as well as the shake-up of the Arab League[18]

In the context of hectic activities to deal with the reform wave,  foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states hold ministerial meeting in Riyadh. In two sessions they had held on 1st March 2004, the ministers discussed plans to reform the Arab League and develop its mechanism in order to debated in its ministerial council  that had been held in Cairo on 3rd March 2004. [19]

               The Secretary General of the GC Council, Abdul Rahman al-Ateyah, said that ministers had discussed issues on joint cooperation. The meeting's agenda included also economic issues, the Palestinian question, the dispute between the United Arab Emirates and Iran over the three strategic islands. and the question of terrorism.  The GCC meeting came one day before the beginning of the Arab foreign ministers starting their meetings in Cairo to prepare the way for making structural reforms to the LAS before convening  the planned LAS summit on march 29 and 30 in Tunisia in 2004.[20]  Al-Ateyah said that the ministers did not deal with the American reform plan known as "the Greater Middle East initiative."[21]

              Both Saudi Arabia and Egypt rejected in joint statement the American plan following a visit made by the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to Riyadh. Mubarak also on Wednesday 26th February 2004 disclosed a joint Syrian, Egyptian Saudi joint project to reform the Arab League and criticized the American and European initiatives for political and democratic reform in the Middle East.[22]  Mubarak said "one who thinks that it is possible to impose solutions or reforms from outside on any society or region is delusional." [23]

                 Amr Moussa, the league's Secretary-General, said good progress was made during two days of talks. But he warned real reform could take some time, the Voice of America reported.[24]

                Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria introduced a proposal calling for the creation of new bodies within the Arab League. Some would focus on security and economic cooperation, others would formally approve and implement Arab League decisions.               Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said a comprehensive project to reform the league will be released later this month i.e. March 2004. League Spokesman Hossam Zaki declined to give specifics, but said the ministers are looking toward more unity in economic and decision-making matters, and want to give the organization more authority.[25]

 

2-Reforming League of Arab States: Defining Issues to be Addressed:   External Interventions versus Arab Internal Imperatives

In the last decade, the League has faced a growing number of regional crises which have further divided ranks. While the League was pre-occupied with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the 1945-1990 period, many more conflicts have been on the agenda in the past decade.

The US-led invasion of Iraq has proved to be the most enduring of challenges as the League worked to prevent the country from disintegrating into civil war and sectarian violence from spilling over into neighbouring states. In recent years, the US criticised the League for not being more involved in post-invasion Iraq. However, this appears to be changing: Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League, has made two visits to Iraq in the past five years. The League is also seeking to find solutions to the conflict between Hamas, the Islamist resistance movement in Gaza, and the Fatah-led PLO in Ramallah while trying to support initiatives that lead to renewed negotiations with Israel.[26]

In recent years, members states have used the good offices of the League to mediate between Lebanon and Syria after the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, the Lebanese premier. They have also sought to prevent a war between Iran and the US, which accuses Tehran of developing a weaponised nuclear programme. Gamil Mattar, an analyst at the Arab Centre for Development and Futuristic Research, believes US pressure on the Arab League to support democratisation, safeguard human rights, and combat terrorism, will likely speed up a reform process to make the body more effective.[27]

On 1st  Mach 2004, Foreign ministers of the Arab League’s 22 members began talks  to draw up a blueprint for radical reform of their organisation, to be submitted to a summit that was due March 29 and 30 in Tunis.[28] League Secretary General Amr Mussa said earlier that the special meeting in Cairo, would focus on ways for “radical modernisation of the League through reform and restructuring”.[29]

Mussa had given the ministers proposals based on various ideas made by seven Arab countries. These include creating an Arab parliament, an Arab security council, court of justice, an investment and development bank and a high council of culture.

               There was also a proposal to change the League’s voting mechanism to end the current system, which demands a unanimous vote. The members, who were all represented by ministers except for Libya which had sent its permanent League representative Abdel Moneem al-Huni, had discussed a project from Saudi Arab and Egypt, backed by Syria, aiming to end near paralysis in the pan-Arab body by modernizing its institutions.

             Set up in 1945, the Arab League groups 21 countries and the Palestinian Authority. Differences between its members, displayed openly at its summit in March 2003 just before US-led the war against Iraq, had largely paralysed its various bodies.[30] Mussa’s deputy Nureddin Hashed told AFP that the Tunis summit would be “a chance for Arab leaders to announce the creation of a ‘New Arab League’ by adopting a plan to reform and modernize the organization”.[31] “All the Arab countries agree on the need to reform the League,” he said.[32]

                According to some analyses Arab foreign ministers (FMs), ending a two-day meeting met in Cairo on 1st March 2004, failed to adopt a joint Arab strategy to confront US Pres. Bush's "Greater Middle East Initiative" to democratize the region and a plan to reform the Arab League. The ministers decided to refer these two matters for their rulers to handle at their Arab summit conference which had been planned to be held in Tunisia in 2004.[33]

                The reforms discussed are wide-ranging, from reforming the voting system to make it more flexible, integrating Arab citizens into the league through the establishment of an Arab parliament, to the creation of an Arab Security Council. Musa declared.  A number of issues were to be addressed in reforming the League of Arab States such as follows:

 

(A)  LAS and Establishing an Arab Court of Justice

An issue that has been often discussed and that has yet to see the light of day is the creation of an Arab Court of Justice. Although apparently not directly linked to the question of reforming the Arab League, the issue is important because creating such a court consecrates the authority of law as an authority transcending that of the ruler, and makes the latter accountable for violations of the law or the constitution.

 

(B)  LAS and Voting System

Any attempt to reform the Arab League, must address the system of voting, that is, whether resolutions should be passed by unanimous or majority vote. The system of unanimity applied in the Arab League allows a country like Djibouti to block the passage of a resolution that involves the fate of states such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Iraq. Sticking to unanimity means giving veto powers to the weakest Arab countries and enabling them to prevent the Arab League from taking initiatives, even if strongly supported by a wide majority of Arab states, including the most powerful among them.

The idea of unanimity upholds the right of every Arab state to cling to its sovereign prerogatives without reservation, and to join other Arab states only to the extent that this would not affect its sovereignty. This is in direct contradiction with the notion that the Arab states are linked together by ties which distinguish them from other states and that these ties should be perceived as an asset, not a liability.

To sum up, requiring unanimity can appear as totalitarian, and, consequently, non-democratic, at a time democracy is moving forward towards still further sophistication, granting rights to the minorities and not only to the majority. Moving from unanimity to majority rule is a fundamental change in the understanding of Arab unity and its philosophy. The Egyptian initiative mentioned a number of forms that majority rule could adopt: voting by consensus, by simple majority, through a succession of votes on one same issue within the context of given restrictions, etc. Each form of vote reflects a given understanding of the role the Arab League will be called upon to play, and will require a thorough analysis before a final decision is taken.[34]

In addition to what have been above-mentioned, there are a number of  other issues such as establishing an Arab parliament, establishing Arab Security Council, and enhancing the role of NGOs.

 

 (C ) LAS and Financial crisis

Further plaguing the Arab League is a financial crisis prompted by the failure of member states to pay annual contributions – a system similar to the UN's membership dues.  According to an Arab League report in 2004, member states were $100 million in arrears, leaving many staff members going months without pay and causing the cancellation of some 200 projects throughout the Arab world. "The financial crisis is part of the dysfunction which renders the Arab League incapable of doing its job. The Arab leaders didn't respond to pay some of their dues until Moussa threatened to resign," Bakri said. Al-Ahram Centre's Said believes the League's budgetary crisis will likely impede efforts toward the organisation's reform and expansion.[35]

 

(D) LAS and Intern-Arab Challenges

             The League of Arab States may be running out of time in convincing the so-called Arab street that it has a role to play.

The League has been criticised for failing to convince the US of pushing through a UN Security Council resolution that would have halted Israel's war on Lebanon in July 2006. The League has also been accused of failing to adopt a unified position on the international tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, the Lebanese leader. The League was also unable to bridge differences between Hamas, the Islamist resistance movement in Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority based in Ramallah, following the former's win in Palestinian legislative elections in 2006.[36]

Since then, the socio-political rift between the two Palestinian factions has further widened and in 2007 armed clashes killed many from both sides. One of the most pressing issues facing the League is the International Criminal Court's charges of war crimes against Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, for his alleged role in the conflict in Darfur. At a July 2008 meeting of ministers, the Arab League condemned the ICC charges, with some saying the court's position could lead to a civil war in Sudan.[37]

(E) LAS Failures in dealing actively with The Israeli Invasion on Gaza 2008-2009

Many in the Arab World believe the  Israeli war on Gaza  in December 2008-January 2009 to have highlighted the Arab League's incapacity to perform as an effective body acting in the best interests of the peoples of the region. Following punitive embargoes and border closures preventing medicine and food from entering Gaza, Israel launched a 22-day offensive it said was to minimize the launching of homemade Palestinian rockets. The offensive killed more than 1400, 900 of them civilians. Sulaiman Ahmad, a government employee in Cairo, says he has no clear understanding of why the Arab League exists.[38]

 

( F ) Arab will lacking to carry out an active reform of LAS

Ali Abd al-Moneim Said, director of the Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic and Political Studies, says the problem of enforcement may be due to a lack of common Arab will-power. Said pointed to the League's history of boycotts and walkouts; one-third of Arab leaders boycotted the Arab League summit in Algiers in 2005. "How can the Arab League take a leading role in the absence of Arab leaderships themselves?" he asked.[39]

"Most regional organisations are built upon the coalition of the willing. The Arab League will not reach this synergy because the charter of the League of Arab states doesn't include a clause for enacting resolutions reached by member states. This has to be done through the Arab states themselves."[40]

Al-Osboa's Bakri agrees: "We are used to the Arab leaders making decisions which are not acted upon. The concluding statements contained mottos signifying nothing."[41]

 

( G ) Non-binding resolutions of LAS

The Arab League appears at first to follow the administrative structure of the United Nations. It is headed by a secretariat, which is led by a secretary-general, who is nominated - and chosen in a vote - by member states. The secretary-general oversees the secretariat which acts as the executive body of specialized ministerial councils.[42]

Each of the 22 member states has one vote and there is no veto mechanism. The Arab League differs from the United Nations Security Council since it leaves resolutions to be independently adopted and enforced by member states.  Though most Arab League meetings and sessions conclude with a common communiqué or resolution on current affairs, there is no mechanism either to enforce these positions or to penalise Arab states that do not follow the organisation's resolve. [43]

 

( H ) Optimism  vis-à-vis Pessimism  for reforming LAS

Salah Montassir, a leading journalist at Al-Ahram, Egypt's official daily newspaper, says the League has managed to make considerable achievements despite the criticism it receives.[44]  He points to numerous policy decisions which have helped shape school curricula, advance the role of women in Arab societies and promote child welfare. He says the League has been particularly successful in boosting cultural, social, and educational ties between member states.

Ahmad Yusuf Ahmad, director of research at the Arab Studies Institute and a political science professor at Cairo University, says it is unfair to call the Arab League an inefficient organisation. "In the presence of the Arab League, the Palestine Liberation Organisation was established and the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border crisis in 1960-61 was resolved peacefully. A new set of organisations were integrated in the social and cultural fields. When it had a chance, achievements were recognised," he told Al Jazeera.[45] "It never achieved anything that makes us say 'yes' we support the Arab League in this or that. Actually, I don't follow sessions or resolutions," he said.

Inas Awad, a school teacher said the league's failure to prevent the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the attacks on Gaza made her doubt the organisation's influence on current Arab issues. "I used to think it was like a UN of the Arab world. Now I doubt it," she said.[46]

 

3- The  Arab Official  Initiatives to Reform the League of Arab States[47]

A Descriptive Analytical Review

             `The reform initiatives, proposed over the course of the year 2003 and  the years after, came as a response to the dramatic events that the region underwent in the year 2003. The American war on Iraq and the consequent occupation of this large Arab country presented a real challenge to the League of Arab States whose role was completely absent during that war. The war on Iraq raised many challenges to the League, starting with how to deal with the war, to how to deal with the results of the war, the best position to take vis-à-vis the Iraqi transitional government, and finally its position towards American pressures on Arab regimes to undertake internal reforms. External pressures to reform created a feeling of panic among most Arab regimes who felt that their sovereignty and their very existence were being threatened for the first time since independence. Initiatives to reform the League were thus proposed against this background.[48]

 

LAS and seeking reforms

            In recent years, there has been growing momentum for the Arab League to reform its charter and its approach to handling regional conflicts.
        At the 2004 Tunis summit, member states pledged to establish a mechanism that would reform the way league decisions are implemented. The summit also promised the revitalization of the Arab Common Market, creation of an Arab economic bloc, a security council, an Arab parliament and the establishment of an Arab Justice Court. But the Tunis summit, which had initially been delayed by two months, ended without any concrete steps toward reform as infighting took its toll and Libya threatened to withdraw from the Arab League altogether. The summit agreed on creating a follow-up committee tasked with supervising the implementation of proposals to reform the League. Discussion of the reforms was postponed to future Arab summits.
[49]

Hassan Abu Talib, editor-in-chief of the Arab Strategic Report (ASPSS), says Arab states are wary of reform because it would empower the Arab League with measures to sanction or censure members who defy a resolution.[50]  "This kind of reform gives more power to the league, and lessens that of the state. The authoritative power of member states will gradually be minimized exactly as in the European Commission. This is not accepted in the Arab world," Abu Talib told Al Jazeera. "Reform of the Arab League depends mainly on how much commitment the Arab states are ready to give and how much power they will allocate the general secretariat of the Arab League. This kind of reform was disagreed on from the member states of the Arab league."[51]

Careful to avoid giving too much power to the secretariat, Algeria proposed a rotating seat for the secretary in late January 2005. The proposal was withdrawn after it threatened to divide the League into two camps. No other substantial steps have been taken toward reform.[52]  Arab foreign ministers searched for ways to invigorate their 22-member organization to make it more formidable in the face of regional challenges, and planned to submit a proposal to their leaders to make broad changes during their summit in Tunisia in March 2004. Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa suggested in a paper on behalf of the League that new bodies be created _ an Arab parliament, an Arab security council, an Arab court of justice and an investment bank …etc.[53]


(1) The Egyptian Initiatives/Proposals to activate and revive the role of the League of Arab States (LAS).

         Egypt has been seeking reform of the Arab League as a basic step toward enhancing the joint Arab action.   In this regard, Egypt has proposed an initiative in July 2003 to restructure the pan-Arab organization. The Egyptian initiative suggests several procedural amendments in the Arab League such as changing the voting system and amending the League Charter, which was drafted in 1946.  The Egyptian plan also suggests the creation of several new bodies such as a Crisis Prevention Council, an Arab Court of Justice, Arab Security Council (ASC) and Arab National Security Forum (ANSF).[54] The Egyptian initiative primarily aims to "clear the air among Arab states, denounce the use of force in inter-Arab tensions, promote the role of the Arab League in activating joint Arab work and emphasize the importance of a common Arab market". Egypt also suggested the creation of an Arab Shura Council which could develop into an Arab Parliament. [55]

 

In July 2003, President Hosni Mubarak announced Egypt's proposal to overhaul the Arab League; copies of the plan had already been sent to Arab leaders and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa. Mubarak said that "It is essential to reform the regional and Arab order, as well as activate and revive the role of the Arab League," he announced. [56]  Mubarak stressed that the League must have the strength to "contain Arab conflicts at the very start with a modern system of Arab national security based on clear mechanisms".[57]

The 1946 Arab League Charter is outdated and requires many amendments, he continued, to which end he assigned a leading legal expert on international relations, Mofid Shehab . "We didn't necessarily want to rewrite the charter completely," Mubarak told his audience of undergraduates, "but we needed to develop the existing one to make it more relevant to contemporary Arab life."[58]

The initiative, published in Al-Ahram on Sunday 29 of July 2003, dismisses any attempts to undermine the regional body and notes that its failures "reflect a lack of political will by member states to support the League and strengthen its role".[59]

For Egypt, the problems are mostly institutional, suggesting the creation of several new bodies such as:

v     Amending the LAS Charter

v     a Crisis Prevention Council,

v      an Arab Court of Justice,

v      Arab Security Council (ASC) and Arab National Security Forum (ANSF).

The ASC or the ANSF would serve to map out an effective Arab national security strategy. The ASC would be able to move rapidly to take definitive decisions without being hampered by veto overrides or the need for unanimous voting. It would also have the power to follow up and implement its decisions. ANSF representatives would be chosen from each Arab country's defence and security bodies, as well as other experts on strategy. [60]

5- Another creation would be an Arab Parliament which would add legitimacy to the League's decisions. It would oversee Arab League organizations, budgetary discussions, and assist in drafting the general policies of the League.

Following the example of the European Union, the Egyptian proposal believes that any form of regional integration should be built on a solid base of economic cooperation; four suggestions for achieving this were put forward.[61]

            First, an assessment of all previous efforts undertaken for economic integration of the Arab world;

Second, the creation of joint coordination committees in various economic sectors;

            Third, proposals for joint economic projects;

Fourth, enhancing the role of the private sector in the economic integration process.

The plan suggests several procedural amendments such as:

(A)                         Changing the voting system, which has for many years impeded Arab ability to achieve change.

(B)                           Most importantly, Arab states need to adhere to the principle of collective diplomacy and adopt common positions.

(C)                           At the same time, member states must settle their debts with the Arab League and continue to pay their dues on time in order to support the efforts of the general secretariat. Other sources of revenue should also be explored.  

(D)                         Egypt's initiative also proposes improved coordination between the Arab League, other Arab groups and Arab civil society. Cairo believes it is high time for Arab non-governmental organizations to have a stronger role in the League's discussions. Nevertheless, it refrains from specifying exactly how civil society would be integrated into the work of the League.[62]  

(E)                          The initiative also highlights the importance of endorsing specialized Arab organizations such as cultural bodies, which often succeeded in connecting the Arab peoples where politics failed. This would be done by undertaking an extensive study of all such bodies in the Arab world and bringing them under the umbrella of the Arab League without infringing on their independence.[63]    

             According to the official proposal, the above changes can be institutionalized through modification of the Arab League Charter, adding an appendix or even rewriting the charter from scratch. But before this can happen, a healthier environment must be created within the Arab world, says the Egyptian plan. The first idea in this major reform project entitled "Clearing Arab skies" argues that resolving existing tensions between the 22 member states would ensure a more viable Arab League. "The Arab order is at a critical stage as a result of a new reality in the region," noted the proposal, "and this poses an imminent threat to Arab interests." What is needed is the removal of "all the dark clouds hovering over Arab-Arab relations, the fortification of the Arab foundation, and support for its main institution -- the Arab League."[64] 

 

            To sum up, the Egyptian initiative begins with the assertion that the League of Arab States, despite obvious flaws, has played a vital role in the Arab state system (Arab Regional System), particularly in the Fifties and Sixties. The Egyptian initiative maintained that the weaknesses of the League are result of its being an inter-governmental regional organization that has no effective authority over its member countries.[65]

 The Egyptian initiative focused primarily on improving the political and legal framework of the League, and on galvanizing Arab political will through the following principals:[66]

1) Improving Arab-Arab relations, eliminating animosities, and settling disputes to help save the Arab state system, while strengthening its primary institution: the League of Arab States.

2) Activating the role of the Arab League as the primary vehicle for joint Arab action, and reevaluating the effect of parallel Arab institutions on the performance and status of the League.

3) Creating an Arab court of justice to settle disputes and adopting effective conflict prevention mechanisms as follows:

4) Effort must be made to deepen Arab Economic Integration using innovative ideas such as creating a mechanism for tracking progress in this direction, committees to coordinate between comparable economic sectors in Arab countries, and the inclusion of the private sector in this area.

5) Establishing an Arab Parliament. MPs may be chosen from existing Arab representative assemblies, through direct elections, or through a combination of both. This Parliament would be responsible for watching over the different units of the League and for drafting its general policies, in addition to judicial and fiscal monitoring.

6) Setting up an Arab National Security System through one of the following mechanisms:

A) " Forming an Arab Security Council comparable to other national and regional organizations, but without the hindrances created by veto rights and unanimous voting.

B)   Forming an Arab National Security Forum, which includes defense and security officials, and strategic experts. This forum would allow for the discussion of security issues and sources of threat and conflict within a general Arab framework.   7) Supporting specialized Arab organizations that reflect cultural and economic ties among Arab states. These organizations must undergo a comprehensive assessment and evaluation. New functional organizations with optional membership, working under the umbrella of the Arab League should also be established .
8) Connecting the League to Arab civil society organizations and amending the League's charter to orient it towards the goal of creating relationships with non-governmental organizations.

9) Modifying the voting system within the institutions of the League. The unanimity rule has paralyzed the League and other approaches to voting need to be considered such as the different types of majority vote.

10) Adopting the collective diplomacy approach. The Arab League must speak in the name of all Arab countries. This can be achieved through the creation of a committee charged with Arab collective diplomatic action.

11) Improving and supporting the General Secretariat of the League.                                 The League Secretariat can be strengthened by improving its human resources, achieving a more balanced geographical distribution, and freeing it from financial constraints.

            The Egyptian proposal stipulated that the ideal framework for developing the League of Arab States is limited to one of three options:

A) First, abandoning the current charter altogether and drafting a new one

B) Second, introducing partial adjustments to the present charter.

C) Third, keeping the charter as is, and adding one or more appendices to it.[67]

(2) The Saudi Initiative to Reform the League of Arab States

                   The Saudi initiative to reform the LAS emphasized the importance of serious commitment to joint Arab action, the importance of implementing Arab Summit resolutions, as well as adopting a new Charter to strengthen and reinforce inter-Arab relations.

The initiative proposed a number of internal reforms in the following areas:[68]

1) Inter-Arab relations and capacity building for a comprehensive Arab renaissance.
2) Coordinating foreign policy, especially in the area of security, and the outright rejection of foreign or Arab aggression against any Arab country.
3) Internal reform, sustainable development, and political participation.
4) Cooperation in the area of defense, and working towards the protection of the sovereignty of Arab countries, and building Arab defense capabilities to promote a fair and comprehensive peace in the region.

5) Economic policies that support Arab economic integration through the establishment of an Arab Free Trade Zone, the inflow of investments and the development of the private sector.

            The Saudi initiative proposed a number of concrete recommendations to improve the decision-making processes of the League and to ensure the compliance of member states with decisions taken by the League. The Saudi Initiative maintained that the implementation of the proposed reforms should not be subject to the approval of all member states and that those states committed to the Arab state system should begin by adopting these reforms.

The Saudi initiative proposed the following reforms in the area of decision-making and compliance:

1) If consensus cannot be achieved, the Arab League Council must base its decisions on a two-thirds majority vote. Procedural issues should be subject to a simple majority vote.

2) Decisions taken by consensus are binding on all members. Decisions taken by a two-thirds majority vote are binding on all members only when they pertain to the establishment of new organizations affiliated with the League. In all other areas, they are only binding on those states who voted in favor.
3) Countries that vote against decisions passed by a two-thirds majority are free to adopt an independent position. However, they must adhere to their general obligations to the League and present a written statement to the Council outlining how they intend to fulfill those obligations in a manner that does not hinder joint Arab action.
4) With regards to compliance, the initiative proposed the adoption of the following mechanisms:

         A). The creation of a committee composed of no less than 3 countries and no more than a third of the Council's members, to monitor the compliance of member states with the decisions of the Council.

          B). The Committee, upon the approval of a third of the Council, can recommend that the Council take a vote on a resolution censuring a member state for non-compliance.
         C). If the resolution passes, the country in question is required to comply within six months after which the council must withdraw the resolution. If the country does not comply within a year, it loses the right to vote until the Council decides otherwise.
         D). If after two years, the resolution still stands, the Council is entitled to form a committee to investigate how to deal with the country in question.

         E). If after three years, the resolution still stands, the non-compliant country could lose its membership in the League. It can only recover its membership by filing a request after two years have elapsed, subject to the Council's approval.[69]


The Saudi Reform Initiative and a Joint Arab Economic Action

Saudi recommendations for the development of joint Arab economic action build on previous experience in this area. the Saudi initiative proposes a long term and gradual plan of regional economic integration, which depends primarily on creating joint institutions and developing existing ones, and on synchronizing Arab economies and deepening commitment to the goal of Arab economic integration through some of the following means;[70]

1) Formulating a new comprehensive joint Arab economic action treaty, to be implemented according to the following steps:

            A)Completing the establishment of the Arab free trade zone.
           B) Establishing a customs union, which does not conflict with World Trade Organization (WTO) requirements.

C) Establishing an Arab common market.

D) Establishing an Arab economic union with its various monetary and trading organizations.

2) Re-evaluating secondary joint Arab economic action treaties, including bi-lateral and multilateral treaties.

3) Proceeding with economic reforms in the Arab world by expediting structural reforms, removing bureaucratic obstacles, and pursuing developmental goals to reduce the disparities between Arab economies, which impede joint Arab economic cooperation.

4) Reforming institutions which can support regional economic cooperation such as the Social and Economic Council and the Arab Monetary Fund in order to reduce inefficiencies.

5) Increasing the contribution of the private sector and of Arab financial institutions to the process of Arab economic cooperation.[71]


(3) The Yemeni Initiative to reform the LAS: Creating an Arab Union

Yemen believes that restructuring the League of Arab States is the first step on the road to reforming Arab-Arab relations and achieving greater political and economic integration. Yemen proposed moving away from the existing structure of the League to a new Arab entity that may be called the Arab Union. Yemen also proposed the creation of a ministerial committee composed of seven Arab countries, which assumes responsibility for preparing a draft constitution for the Arab Union within a six months period. The draft constitution will then reviewed by all member countries and submitted to the Arab League Council and then to a regular or emergency Arab Summit for ratification.[72]

Yemen believes that the Union must be founded on a set of core principles, the most important of which being:

 (a) respecting the sovereignty of each Arab country and its right to select its own governmental system,

 (b) non-interference in the internal affairs of member countries,

(c)the encouragement of democratic practices and respect for human rights,

 (d) non-recognition of illegitimately-begotten authority,

(e) establishing an Arab regional security system,

(f) commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes, to the United Nations' charter, to international stability and security and to fighting terrorism.

The principal goal of the Union, according to the Yemeni initiative, it is to achieve economic integration, as the only means towards achieving true political unity.
              As for the internal structure of the Union, Yemen proposed the following institutions and mechanisms:
[73]

1) The High Council: the highest authority in the Union comprises Arab heads of states with an annually rotating leadership. The Council plans and decides on general policies and adopts resolutions and recommendations put forth by lower bodies.

2) The Legislative Authority or National Assembly: The proposed National Assembly comprises two chambers, a People's Assembly and a Consultative Assembly. It embodies the right of the Arab People to supervise and monitor the Union's institutions.

3) The Executive Council: the Executive Council comprises the heads of governments of Union countries.

4) Ministerial Councils: A Foreign Ministers Council, a Security and Defense Council, an Economic Council, etc. These Councils will work towards greater policy integration among Arab ministries in all areas and will follow up on their implementation.

5) Arab Court of Justice: Specialized in resolving disputes between member countries.
6) LAS Voting System: As for the proposed voting system, the Yemeni initiative proposes:

a) a simple majority vote for procedural matters,

b)a two-thirds majority vote for substantial matters,

c) a three-quarters majority vote for vital issues,

d) and unanimity when the question involves accepting a new member into the   Union.

The Union Council decides the Union's budget and divides it among Union members according to their national income.[74]


 (4) The Libyan Initiative to Reform the Arab League: Creating an Arab Union

               The Libyan Initiative proposes to create a new Arab Union with a new charter. The charter of a new Arab Union proposed by Libya comprises 21 articles.

             The Goals of the Proposed Arab Union  according to the Libyan perspective

               The charter maintains that the purposes of the Arab Union are as follows:

A)  to homogenize Arab policies in the areas of trade, defense and foreign policy,

B) to form an Arab common market. The charter also calls on Arab countries

C) to homogenize their economic, fiscal, transport, cultural, social and citizenship policies and it proposes establishing a special committee to handle the implementation of these propositions.

 

The most significant articles of the Libyan proposed charter of the Arab Union can be summarized as follows:

             1) The use of violence to resolve disputes between member countries in the Union is prohibited. If a disagreement arises, the conflicting parties must resort to a summit meeting to resolve it, its decisions being both final and binding.

            2) The Summit mediates and issues resolutions by a two-thirds majority in the case of a dispute between a member country and non-member country.
          3) If a country assaults or otherwise threatens a member country, the assaulted country must call upon the Ministerial Council to convene at once to decide (with a two-thirds majority vote) how to deal with the assault.

          4) The member countries must make a commitment to respect each country's existing system of government, and refrain from any action intended to overturn it. The Union has the prerogative to intervene to ensure the stability of any member country's internal system.

         5) Member countries wishing to deepen relations with other member countries may do so through separate treaties.

         6) Members of the Union may not sign military treaties with non-member countries.
         7) If a country wishes to withdraw from the Union it must notify the Council of its intent a year in advance.


The suggested Arab Union Organs are  comprised of :

a) the Summit conference,

b)  the Ministerial Council,

c) the General Secretariat,

d)  the Permanent Representatives Council,

e) the Arab Security Council,

f) the Joint Defense Council, Specialized Committees,

g) the Court of Justice, and

h) the Socioeconomic Council and existing institutions.

          The Ministerial Council comprises ministers from member countries, each with a single vote. It is permanently located in Cairo and convenes three times a year.

       The General Secretariat is composed of a Secretary General and a number of assistants and executives. The Secretary General is elected by the Summit conference with a two-thirds majority. He is the official spokesperson for the Union, and is responsible for preparing the budget and for submitting it to the Ministerial Council for ratification.

                Voting at the Ministerial Council level is based on a two-thirds majority vote. Decisions approved by a two thirds majority are binding on all member countries, whereas decisions taken by a simple majority vote (51%), are binding only on those who vote in favor. the Summit conference has the right to amend the Union Charter with a two-thirds majority vote.

(5) Qatari  Proposal/Ideas for Reforming the League of Arab States

              Qatar proposed a number of ideas to achieve a minimum level of Arab cohesion. The main points of the Qatari initiative are as follows:

A)                            It emphasized the need for joint economic cooperation and the development of a short-term and a medium-term strategy for dealing with novel developments in the region.

B)                             The Qatari proposal called for expediting the creation of a common Arab market and for a higher sense of partnership between the Arab regional system and other regional and international systems, civil society organizations and the private sector.

C)                             Qatar called for a higher degree of harmony with existing international strategies and for strengthening dialogue among Arab countries and with the outside world.

D)                            Qatari ideas revolved around how to galvanize joint Arab action, stressing the importance of regional cooperation in competing with other regional blocs, as well as the importance of greater collaboration with international and regional organizations, and of activating the Social and Economic Council and reinforcing its authorities.

E)                              It also stressed the importance of committing all member countries to paying their dues to the League and of spending the League's funds more efficiently.

F)                             The Qatari proposal also stressed the importance of developing the League's human resources, and of giving the Secretary General the prerogative to introduce modern administrative methods.[75]


(6) Sudanese Initiative/ Ideas for Reforming the LAS

       The Sudanese proposal starts by diagnosing the current Arab situation and by providing that the Arab World faces two distinct challenges:[76]

 first, a global threat to defame the image of Arabs and Islam;

second, direct aggression against particular Arab countries.

          These challenges make it important to reinforce Arab cooperation and to mobilize all resources to defend Arab existence and destiny. Three things are required to achieve this end:

1)                              A unified Arab political will to confront these dangers through mechanisms such as emergency summits.

2)                              Supporting the Palestinian people and all forms of resistance to recover the occupied territories.

3)                              Warding off the threat against Iraq through the implementation of Security Council's resolution 1441 to facilitate the mission of international inspectors. This requires Arab commitment to the Arab League charter, and the activation of the various treaties, agreements and resolutions issued by the Arab League. The restructuring of the League must be executed, and specialized organizations reevaluated. Major Arab projects such as the Council for Arab Economic Unity, the Common Arab Market and the Free Trade Organization must be put in motion, and a comprehensive strategy must be formulated to serve as the foundation of a new Arab renaissance.[77]

           The Sudanese vision proposes several strategies to renew Arab World Societies, mainly:

1)                                  Reforms within each country: the implementation of socio-economic developmental plans and bridging the gap between the Arab World and developed nations. In this context, increased political participation and the role of civil society become necessary.

2) A greater Arab presence abroad: greater attention to Arab and Muslim communities abroad is necessary. Arab countries must support these communities and encourage them to organize themselves and to channel their knowledge to serve their countries of origin.[78]



4- A Summary of the Various Arab Official/Governmental Initiatives to Reform the LAS


       To summarize, the various initiatives and proposals about ways of restructuring the regional Arab system concurred on the following key points:

(1)  An Arab common market is the best way towards achieving greater Arab integration.
(2) Undertaking internal economic reforms and developing the private sector are necessary steps.

(3) The political will to develop collective Arab action must be galvanized.

(4)  Collective diplomacy and bolstering ties with other collective entities          must be encouraged.

(5) Sustainable development in Arab countries is crucial.

(6) The need to support civil society organizations within Arab countries.
(7)  The necessity of modifying the voting system within the Arab League.

        Some of the initiatives reviewed above adopted similar approaches to some issues, the two most attuned being the Egyptian and Yemeni initiatives, which insisted on the necessity of the peaceful resolution of disputes and on greater unity in the areas of defense and security. The Egyptian, Yemeni and Libyan initiatives agreed on the importance of setting up an Arab Court of Justice and an Arab legislative organ.

              The three initiatives also agreed on the necessity of enhancing the role of the General Secretariat and the provision of adequate funds.[79]

 

5- Observations on Various Arab Official/Governmental Initiatives

Several observations can be made about the various Arab initiatives for restructuring the Arab regional system.

      

First, these initiatives were a response to an invitation from the Arab League to all member countries to submit ideas and proposals for improving the Arab regional system. In other words, the proposals were not self-motivated but rather constituted a response to the League's invitation. However, this overwhelming response may act as a negative factor, as each country strives to push its agenda. This had led the Secretary General's to consolidate the various initiatives into one working paper to be presented at the planned Tunisia Summit in March 2003.

           Second, the various initiatives concur that the Arab state system is facing a crisis arising from its inability to respond to the challenges imposed by regional and international transformations. In other words, the initiatives are primarily a response to external rather than to internal crises confronting Arab states and the Arab state system.
            Third, all the initiatives were presented under the heading of developing joint Arab action, indicating a consensus that the problem is broader that the League and its Charter and must address the question of restructuring the regional system as a whole. However, most of the suggestions proposed by these initiatives focused almost exclusively on ways of restructuring the League and its charter.

       

Fourth, all the initiatives were incapable of putting forth realistic suggestions for rehabilitating the Arab state system. This casts serious doubts on the successful implementations of any of the proposed initiatives, especially when all of them assert the primacy of maintaining absolute sovereignty.

 

       Fifth, all the initiatives were general in nature and faild to specify practical mechanisms for the execution of the suggested propositions.

 

      Sixth, the view that the Arab League must be restructured still holds sway over the view that maintains that the League must be dissolved and another entity established in its stead. The Yemeni and Libyan initiatives were the only ones to endorse the latter view.

     Seventh, the proposed initiatives express divergent viewpoints, making it difficult, if not impossible, for the Arab Summit in Tunisia to adopt any of them. In all probability, those items that can be agreed upon will be those pertaining to the improvement and restructuring of the Arab League.

 

Eightieth: There is a common agreement among the most of the official Arab Initiatives to reform the LAS focusing on the following issues:

1-                                                      Establishing Arab Court of Justice

2-                                                      Initiating a Joint Arab Economic Action

3-                                                      Establishing  Pan-Arab Parliament or An Arab Legislative Organ.

4-                                                      Establishing An Arab Free Trade Organization.

5-                                                      Establishing Arab Common Market

6-                                                      Forming Arab National Security Council

7-                                                      Launching a Crisis Prevention Council

8-                                                      Formulating a suggested Arab Union

9-                                                       The suggested Arab Union is comprised of:

a) the Summit conference,

b)  the Ministerial Council,

c) the General Secretariat,

d)  the Permanent Representatives Council,

e) the Arab Security Council,

f) the Joint Defense Council, Specialized Committees,

g) the Court of Justice, and

h) the Socioeconomic Council and existing institutions.

    (8)- Amending the LAS Charter, partially or totally. For example, the Egyptian proposal stipulated that the ideal framework for developing the League of Arab States is limited to one of three options:

A) First, abandoning the current charter altogether and drafting a new one.

B) Second, introducing partial adjustments to the present charter.

      C) Third, keeping the charter as is, and adding one or more appendices to it

 

   (9) Amending the Voting System from unanimous to majority. For example,  as for the proposed voting system, the Yemeni initiative proposes:

  a)   a simple majority vote for procedural matters,

 b)   a two-thirds majority vote for substantial matters,

 c)  a three-quarters majority vote for vital issues,

d) and unanimity when the question involves accepting a new member into the Union.

 

6- Non-Official Intellectuals/Writers’ Viewpoints and Initiatives  to reform the LAS

In this part of the study  the researcher will review a number of the writers proposals and viewpoints to reform the League of Arab States.

 

(1) Reforming the LAS: Mustapha Al Faqi's point of view    

In his article, Reforming The Arab League,  at al-Hayat Newspaper,  Mustapha Al Faqi,    a writer and a member of Egypt's parliament, Al-Faqi mentions a number of observations focusing on the  calls for reforming the LAS.[80]

            First: It is impossible to speak of reforming the Arab League as an isolated matter because the League mirrors the prevailing situation within the Arab world.

Second: Even if we condemn the League, the fact remains that it has offered a lot to the Arab nation. It is enough that the Arab foreign ministers meet twice a year to address Arab issues under its banner, and that it has symbolized Arab unity even during the worst of times when the Arabs were split.

Third: The 60-year old League  (now 65-year old) needs to renew its spirit and reform its procedures. Thus, a partial amendment to its charter will not suffice. A new and comprehensive vision is needed.

Fourth: Monumental events have taken place that require a new outlook and a changed attitude. The League, in my opinion, is isolated from many facts and needs to be liberated from restrictions that prevent it from assuming a meaningful role.

Fifth: "I remain convinced", despite the efforts of the current Secretary General, that the League is detached from the realities of contemporary form of government. Its members lack true democracy and have no respect for the rule of law or for human rights. Yet the League is incapable of establishing restrictions on its membership. And while I recognize that this is a difficult demand, I see that the League should play the role of monitoring the attitudes of its members without exceptions. Only then will it be able to reform its affairs and participate in the effort to introduce comprehensive reforms to the entire Arab region. Such demand is an urgent one that we cannot claim to be importing. We really need it, especially due to the events of the past few years.

Sixth: While we are aware that the call to establish a Middle Eastern arrangement is an Israeli demand that conflicts with our national aspiration, the League should realize that there are other non-Arab countries in the area, such as Turkey and Iran, as well as some countries of the African Horn, in addition to Israel, which plays a significant role in influencing the American policy. I demand that the Arab League adopt a pattern that can influence the Jewish pressure groups throughout the world and inside Israel itself.

Seventh: Reforming the League demands a political will.

Eighth: It is nonsense to speak of one or two countries that are capable of influencing the Arab League. All Arab countries share similar burdens and they have similar capabilities.

Ninth: Reforming the Arab League must involve more than creating new offices at the Secretariat for the purpose of conducting dialogues with other communities. It has to find a new Arab rhetoric that abandons the traditional one, which addresses such pressing issues as Israel's monopoly over WMDs in the region and the question of security arrangements in the Middle East. I dare even look forward to the time when the Quartet will not be the only party to make arrangements for solving the Palestinian problem, but the Arab League becomes the fifth actor in such effort.

Tenth: The League should include in its new structure a supreme council of ministers, a united Arab parliament and an Arab judicial court plus a secretariat that leads the daily effort in establishing a strong relationship with the European Union and the African Union, and to focus on economic issues. And perhaps an Arab peacekeeping force seems a necessity in the future.

Al-Faqi argues that these are not the Ten Commandments to reform the Arab League. There is no recipe to solve the problems of the League in one stroke. But we insist that the idea is not in reforming resolutions in as much as in the absent Arab will and the lacking national desire despite all the problems that confront us. I believe that reform must come out of the free will of the member countries and not in response to temporary influences that pressure us. We should learn from the experiences of others. The EU, for example, established all its institutions based on free referendums. It is the will of the peoples that determine the commitments of states. Not the other way round.[81]

 

(2) Reforming the LAS: Mohamed Sid-Ahmad's viewpoint[82]

           In his article titled "Reforming the Arab League" on Al-Ahram Weekly on-line, Mohammed Sid-Ahmad   argues that The Arab League, already beset by problems, is facing new, more immediate challenges such as the future of Iraq and of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process is inextricably linked to the future of the Arab League, which depends to a great extent on its ability to reform itself and overcome the state of paralysis that has exposed it to strong criticism since the outbreak of the war on Iraq. It is with this in mind that Egypt came forward with an initiative to reform the Arab League and revive its role as a vehicle for joint Arab action. The Egyptian initiative, currently under study, raises a number of critical issues we can no longer afford to ignore, issues that determine, to a very great extent, the dynamics of inter-Arab relations. Overcoming the present dissension in Arab ranks requires a practical, political approach to these issues, not a traditional, academic one. Although relations between member states of the Arab League are adversial, not to say confrontational, on the problems that divide them, they are united in their aspiration for an overall Arab reconciliation, no easy matter in the present situation.[83]

                Actually, the reasons for discord among member states are not linked only to present circumstances. There are still unresolved differences over events that occurred in the past which continue to impact on events in the present. Among the most controversial are the two Camp David processes. Camp David I, under the Carter administration, represented a step forward in the direction of an Arab-Israeli settlement, albeit confined to Egypt and Israel, while Camp David II, under the Clinton administration, failed to resolve the Palestinian problem, the core issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It remains to be seen which of the two events is more likely to determine the course of future developments.[84]

      This is typical of the kind of issues that the Arab League will have to address.           

         The Egyptian initiative proposes the establishment of preemptive mechanisms to prevent conflicts of interest between members from escalating dangerously. For these mechanisms to be effective, however, an in-depth analysis of the reasons which generated conflicts in the past must be conducted -- but not in the aim of settling old scores. True, the lessons of history are important, and it is only by looking to the past and examining the underlying causes of previous conflict situations that we can hope to avoid their recurrence, but our approach should be future-oriented if we are to prevent a further deterioration of the situation.[85]

           An issue not addressed by the Egyptian initiative and which could be an important step on the road to an Arab reconciliation is the need to introduce changes to the Arab political discourse, which is rife with criticism of others and utterly devoid of self-criticism. An attempt should be made to abstain whenever possible from criticising this or that Arab state and to engage in constructive self- criticism. There is no doubt that all Arab parties have committed mistakes which merit serious soul- searching, otherwise the situation would have not deteriorated to the extent it has, and the time has come to acknowledge and accept responsibility for those mistakes.[86]

           While the Egyptian initiative is definitely a step in the right direction, Mohamed Sid-Ahmad believes, initiatives for reform should not emanate from one Arab state only. There is obviously a need for multiple attempts put forward by a variety of parties. The text which is finally approved should be a collective endeavour extending to all Arab parties, even if this does not necessarily mean that each state should present an initiative of its own.[87]

         Actually, the intellectual effort to be furnished should not be limited to Arab government institutions only. The debate should be extended to NGO's civil society and human rights organisations throughout the Arab world. Nothing is more dangerous than to have the debate polarize between governmental agencies on the one hand and popular organisations on the other. The Egyptian initiative did well to recall the role of the UN in giving advisory status to NGOs within the Economic and Social Council. Eliminating distinctions between governmental and non-governmental institutions is bound to promote individual initiatives, encourage creative thinking and reinforce democracy.[88]

         An issue that is often discussed and that has yet to see the light of day is the creation of an Arab Court of Justice. Although apparently not directly linked to the question of reforming the Arab League, the issue is important because creating such a court consecrates the authority of law as an authority transcending that of the ruler, and makes the latter accountable for violations of the law or the constitution.[89]

       Any attempt to reform the Arab League must address the system of voting, that is, whether resolutions should be passed by unanimous or majority vote. The system of unanimity applied in the Arab League allows a country like Djibouti to block the passage of a resolution that involves the fate of states such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Iraq. Sticking to unanimity means giving veto powers to the weakest Arab countries and enabling them to prevent the Arab League from taking initiatives, even if strongly supported by a wide majority of Arab states, including the most powerful among them.[90]

        The idea of unanimity upholds the right of every Arab state to cling to its sovereign prerogatives without reservation, and to join other Arab states only to the extent that this would not affect its sovereignty. This is in direct contradiction with the notion that the Arab states are linked together by ties which distinguish them from other states and that these ties should be perceived as an asset, not a liability.[91]

         Moreover, in the age of globalization, state sovereignty is no longer as absolute as it once was. Many experiments, notably the European Union, have shown the benefits of integration. The world is now moving in the direction of supranational groupings. Ironically, the Arab states, which have failed to forge a real unity among themselves, describe themselves as one nation, while European states, which do not claim to belong to one nation, have managed to put their differences aside and present a united front to the world, despite intense infighting over the centuries. Europe has succeeded where the Arabs have failed.[92]

        To sum up, requiring unanimity can appear as totalitarian, and, consequently, non-democratic, at a time democracy is moving forward towards still further sophistication, granting rights to the minorities and not only to the majority. Moving from unanimity to majority rule is a fundamental change in the understanding of Arab unity and its philosophy. The Egyptian initiative mentioned a number of forms that majority rule could adopt: voting by consensus, by simple majority, through a succession of votes on one same issue within the context of given restrictions, etc. Each form of vote reflects a given understanding of the role the Arab League will be called upon to play, and will require a thorough analysis before a final decision is taken. [93]

 

(3) Arab League: Democracy, Unity and Reform? Saad S. Khan's Viewpoint[94]

On 3rd April 2003, Saad S. Khan wrote a viewpoint published online at the Mehr News under the title "Arab League: Democracy, Unity and Reform?

         Khan Agues that the Arab Kings and Presidents were supposed to get together and discuss, inter alia, the reforms in the Arab world.  They wanted to show to the whole world that the Arabs are a mature nation and they do not need outside guidance as to how to conduct themselves.  Freedom is a natural birth right of every individual. Till the advent of the 20th century, however, the right had almost universally been denied to the human being throughout the History under one pretext or the other. Francis Fukuyama, in his seminal thesis “End of History” rightly argues that the present victory of the ideas of freedom, democracy and free market over all other ideologies is the final destination of the mankind.[95]

       The categorical rejection of the Lebanese Foreign Minister Jean Obeid of introduction of democratic reforms to “please or appease the outsiders” reflects the views of most of the incumbent Arab rulers. “Democratic systems cannot be imported readymade to the countries of the region…Democracy is an accumulation of practices which springs from the heritages of the peoples”, he told reporters after holding talks with the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.[96]

 

( 4)  Creating An Arab Parliament: Naguib Mahfouz Viewpoint [97]

In 20005, At the Arab summit in Algiers, a proposal was tabled for the creation of an Arab parliament, along the lines of the European Parliament. But, in order for this parliament to be useful, it needs to speak on behalf of the Pan-Arab nation, not individual Arab states.[98]

Arab countries have their own individual institutions. They also have the Pan-Arab body -- the Arab League, which is a motley collection of states. But, Arab nation in its entirety, does not have a people-based institution of its own. In Europe, the governments are democratically elected and can be trusted to do what their people want. In the Arab world, the majority of Arab governments are not democratically elected.  For the proposed Arab parliament to be truly representative of the Arab people, it has to be composed of popularly elected parliamentarians in every Arab country. The parliament must be allowed to monitor the actions of Arab governments and the work of the Arab League.[99]

  For the parliament to turn into a Pan-Arab legislative body with teeth, the Arab League will have to submit its decisions to the parliament for approval. For Arabs, people's power might at last be at hand.[100]

 

7- The Modest Results of the Initiatives to Reform the LAS and Future[101]

      On March 2, 2004,  Arab foreign ministers reached agreement on a formula to turn the Arab League into an organization that would have greater international clout, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said. Maher said during a press conference with Arab League chief Amr Mussa that the deal would be submitted to the summit of Arab leaders slated to be held in Tunisia at the end of March 2004.[102]

   Maher, who said the details of the deal would not be made public before the meeting in Tunis, said the accord represented a "comprehensive project that covers all aspects of reform."  "We have done what we were tasked with doing, and we have achieved something positive," he added.[103]

    For his part, Mussa said "we have made good progress," explaining that the deal was a synthesis of various proposals put forward." [104]

 

8-Arab Parliament was established and met in Cairo on 27th December 2005 [105]

                The Arab world's first regional parliament had held its inaugural meeting in Cairo but officials said it could be many years before the new institution gains enough power to influence events in the region. Its creation, approved by the Arab summit in Algiers in March 2005, is part of an effort to revitalize the activities of the Arab League in the region.[106]

                The 88 members, four from the parliaments or advisory councils of each Arab League member, met at the league's Cairo headquarters for a session on Tuesday 27 December, 2005,  addressed by Amr Moussa, the league's secretary-general and Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president. Mubarak called the inaugural session "a historical occasion which opens new horizons for joint Arab action".[107]

       The interim parliament has no binding legislative authority and can give its opinion only on matters referred to it by the Arab League council, which represents Arab governments. Based in Syria, it meets twice a year.

 (A ) The Pan-Arab Parliament and Monitoring the actions of Arab Government 

         Rawhi Fattuh, speaker of the Palestinian legislature, said the parliament would be valuable only if it kept an eye on the actions of Arab governments. "It must be a monitor of Arab executive institutions, but if it is just a union of parliaments then it's not going to be important," he said at the meeting. Some Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, do not have elected parliaments, so their representatives in the Arab parliament are drawn from appointed advisory councils which have little power. Some of the elected Arab parliaments are dominated by the executive or ruling party and rarely challenge the government.[108]

         The concept of the Arab parliament was part of a package of institutional changes promoted by Moussa as a way to make the Arab League strong and more effective. But Arab heads of state have not approved other aspects of the package, including an Arab court of justice and an Arab security council to handle regional disputes. The new interim parliament has five years to draft the arrangements for a permanent Arab parliament.[109]

 (B) The Speaker of the Arab Parliament is the Kuwaiti Liberal Muhammad Jassim al-Saqr

           In one of its first decisions on 27 December 2005, it chose liberal Kuwaiti Muhammad Jassim al-Saqr as its speaker, said Alaa Rushdi, an Arab League spokesman. Al-Saqr, who has been head of the Kuwaiti parliament's foreign relations committee, has an initial term of one year, the Egyptian state news agency Mena said.[110]

           Arab League officials say they hope the permanent parliament will eventually have power, possibly through direct elections similar to those held for the European parliament. Said one official: "It's only a start, but the European parliament started small too. It's part of a trend away from an Arab League which exclusively represents governments." [111] Under Moussa in recent years, the Arab League has increasingly brought civil society    groups into discussions. "We have several regional parliaments - the European Parliament and the African Parliament. The Arab Parliament will be looking at them and their experiences and what they can learn from them," said spokesman Rushdi.[112]

 

9- Futural Perspective and Scenarios of Reforming League of Arab States

In the Tunis Declaration issued at the 16th session of the Arab Summit, held in Tunis on May 22-23, 2004, the  Leaders of the Arab States, meeting at the Summit Conference of the Arab League Council in its 16th ordinary session stressed their  " Commitment to the principles upon which the League of Arab States was founded and to the objectives enunciated in its Charter". " Taking into account the new world changes and the challenges and stakes they generate; " Determined to pursue efforts in order to strengthen the solidarity and cohesion of the Arab Nation, and to consolidate the Arab ranks…".[113]

The Arab Leaders also assert their firm determination "To materialize our common will to develop the system of joint Arab action, through the Tunis Summit resolution to amend the Arab League Charter and to modernize its work methods and its specialized institutions, based on the various Arab initiatives and ideas included in the proposals put forward by the Secretary General as well as on a consensual and coherent vision and on a gradual and balanced approach". In addition, the leaders reaffirmed their states' commitment to the humanitarian principles and the noble values of human rights in their comprehensive and interdependent dimensions, to the provisions of the various international conventions and charters, and to the Arab Human Rights Charter adopted by the Tunis Summit, as well as to the reinforcement of the freedom of expression, thought and belief and to the guarantee of the independence of the judiciary".  The Arab leaders declared their "endeavour, based on the Declaration on the process of reform and modernization in the Arab world, to pursue reform and modernization in our countries, and to keep pace with the rapid world changes, by consolidating the democratic practice, by enlarging participation in political and public life, by fostering the role of all components of the civil society, including NGOs, in conceiving of the guidelines of the society of tomorrow, by widening women's participation in the political, economic, social, cultural and educational fields and reinforcing their rights and status in society, and by pursuing the promotion of the family and the protection of Arab youth". The leaders expressed in the Tunis summit declaration that they are determined "To consolidate the comprehensive development programs and intensify efforts aimed at promoting the educational systems, at disseminating knowledge and encouraging its acquisition, and at fighting illiteracy in order to ensure a better future for the Arab young generations". [114]

 

10-The LAS Reform Future: External and Internal Challenges

In the light of the above-mentioned Arab reformed initiatives and declarations  the researcher distills the future of the League of Arab States (LAS) down to two basic issues. One, will the Arab states be able to implement economic and political reform, enforce the rule of law in private and public governance? Two, will the LAS remain insulated from the instability and violence in Arab Regional System and in the wider Middle East?

 It is a difficult time to be an Arab state. Saddam Hussein fell more quickly than expected, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has continued to fester. A growing population and a stagnant economy makes the future appear ominous for the region. Sadly, the Middle East has no regional organization to turn to for help. The once lauded forum of pan-Arabism, the League of Arab States (LAS), is impotent, lacking the consensus and legitimacy to take action. Yet as the only regional body of its kind in the Middle East, the League of Arab States needs to pursue reform based on economic integration to regain influence in international and Middle Eastern politics.

LAS no longer is (if it ever was) seen as a bargaining partner by the United States and the United Nations. Its external image is that of a group of unelected dictators who cannot form a consensus or take action on pertinent issues. While the LAS has tried to promote an Arab opinion on the world stage, its attempts have been largely ignored. The UN Security Council and General Assembly have largely disregarded LAS Secretary-General Amr Musa’s call to resume the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, protect Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, and condemn the Israeli bombing of Syria. The peace process remains stalled, Arafat  was assassinated and his successor President Mahmud Abbas is vulnerable, and Israel has yet to be criticized.

The LAS has also attempted, but failed, to sway international decisions regarding Iraq. After re-accepting Iraq as a member-state, the LAS demanded that sovereignty be transferred quickly from the United States through a constitutional convention and free elections. However, LAS demands for democratic transition in Iraq have been dismissed as hypocritical since none of the LAS member-states have democratically elected governments. As a result, the LAS had little involvement in the recent passing of an Iraqi reconstruction timeline by the United Nations.

The LAS is able to articulate its interests, but lacks the international respect necessary to make its voice heard because it is not respected by its own members. Middle Eastern belief in the LAS has waned gradually but plummeted most dramatically after the 1991 Arab Gulf War. Paralyzed by division, the LAS failed to reach a consensus as LAS member Iraq attacked fellow member Kuwait. It took international intervention to resolve a conflict that should have been determined internally. Member-states began to turn to other bodies, such as the United Nations, to solve problems, instead of to the LAS. Consequently, little substantive action has taken place through the LAS during the past few years. Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi has even called for his country to leave the LAS, declaring, “There is no benefit [in belonging to] the Arabs’ dull world, which is careless of the future.”

Luckily, however, the LAS recognizes its current irrelevancy. Member-states led by Egypt have proposed organizational reforms, focusing on a switch to a majority-based voting system. Under Article VII of the current LAS Charter, states are only obligated to enforce an act of the LAS if they themselves agree to it, an arrangement that has led to toothless resolutions. The LAS must also recommit itself to civil dialogue. The acrid nature of member discourse perpetuates negative stereotypes of ineffectiveness.[115]

In addition to political reform, the future of the LAS must be laid on economic cooperation. The UN Population Fund reports that the population of the Arab world is expected to double in the next 30 years, while the region has a lower economic growth rate than Africa according to the UN Economic and Social Committee of Western Asia. With a collective unemployment rate of 19.4 percent, the economic future of the Arab World and Middle East is bleak. There have been calls for the region to form an economic bloc or free trade zone to remedy the situation, but no group has stepped forward. This vacuum allows the LAS to redefine itself through economic cooperation, turning into an Arab version of the European Union. The LAS is the only regional organization capable of organizing an economic group; it has already acknowledged the impending Arab economic crisis and began to promote economic growth by hosting a US-Middle East trade forum in Detroit in September 2002. Yet the organization must take the next step of formally pushing for integration; while Saudi Arabia has outlined a similar idea, the LAS has yet to take an active stance. An economic base coupled with a politically united voice could be the solution to the current woes of the LAS.

A transition of this nature will not be easy. However, the LAS currently lacks respect and will eventually have to face the economic problems of the region. It thus has nothing to lose by attempting reform on the basis of economic cooperation and political unity. In March 2004, the LAS summit in Tunis, Tunisia, will be crucial in determining the future of the organization. The onus is on the LAS to set aside past problems and to become an economic and political institution to which Arabs, and the world, can turn.[116]

 

11- LAS Reform and the Future: Scenarios

The  researcher outlines three scenarios for the future of the LAS

 

The optimistic  Futural scenario:  LAS Gradual Reform

             From the abovementioned initiatives and viewpoints it seems that the reform in the ranks and hierarchy of the LAS will change into a long reform process.  The League has managed to make considerable achievements despite the criticism it receives. It may be pointed to numerous policy decisions which have helped shape school curricula, advance the role of women in Arab societies and promote child welfare. The League has been particularly successful in boosting cultural, social, and educational ties between member states.

It is unfair to call the Arab League an inefficient organisation. "In the presence of the Arab League, the Palestine Liberation Organisation was established and the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border crisis in 1960-61 was resolved peacefully. A new set of organisations were integrated in the social and cultural fields. When it had a chance, achievements were recognised,".[117]

 

The Pessimistic Futural Scenario: LAS in the mid of a Sandstorm and Crises

According to this scenario the  LAS will find itself in a Sandstorm, where political chaos in the Arab World, in particular and in the  Middle East, in general,  spills over and domestic unrest sweeps the LAS members, effectively ending any hope for  substantial reform, political, social and economic development.

The sandstorm scenario has shaped the modern history of the LAS. After all, the LAS’s birth was followed by traumatic geopolitical events that changed Arab politics forever — the establishment of the Israel in 1948, the Arab Israeli conflict, The cold war and the post cold war era, the inter-Arab divisions, wars, polarization and the instability and internal semi-civil wars in a number of Arab states. The LAS could, after all, face another sandstorm if the US and Israel attack Iran and Teheran retaliates with ballistic missiles launched against US bases across the Arab World and LAS members or blockades the Straits of Hormuz. The degeneration of Iraq into warring Kurd, Sunni and Shia statelets could prove a nightmare for the LAS as several countries in the LAS have substantial minorities in their populations. A regional organization such as the LAS and Governments facing geopolitical threats to their survival will hardly focus on political reform, capital flight will escalate, riots and terror will disrupt internal security and billions of dollars will be wasted in arms purchases.[118]

.           Geopolitical risks in the Arab Regional System and LAS member states and in the Middle East have risen since 9/11 and President Bush’s regime change in Iraq. Terrorism in the Gulf (particularly in Saudi Arabia and Yemen) escalated with the rise of Al Qaeda and bin Laden’s revolt against the House of Saud. Future terrorism in the LAS member states could emanate from Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Pakistan, Yemen, Sudan, Lebanon, Algeria where the so-called terrorist enclaves could well attack Western targets in the LAS as the nation state disintegrates. Nuclear proliferation is also a grim reality in the LAS, with Israel and  Iran’s uranium enrichment and Arab states implied threat of a nuclear programmes. A failed state in the heart of the Arab world has now became the epicenter of the Shia–Sunni sectarian slaughterhouse, as the Iraqi Shia have won the power in the America era that was denied them for centuries under the Baathist, Hashemite and Ottoman eras. The shock waves will be felt across the Arab and Islamic world. Islamic so-called extremists could also seize power in key states such as Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, Egypt,  Lebanon, and Palestinian factional disputes.

 

The third Futural scenario: LAS becomes a Oasis of Reform

In this scenario reform prevails LAS and Arab World, where the LAS  integrates into the world  reform trends, where reform becomes inclusive and innovation and knowledge, not mere mottos and slogans.  The researcher  hopes for a LAS future where social tolerance rules, where human beings coexist and thrive regardless of creeds, tribe or religion, where the ruler promotes and empowers a meritocratic national elite, where government exists to serve and not steal, where sectarian bigotry and fanaticism is unthinkable, where governance has the humane values of the Islamic Arab World past.[119]

 

 

Conclusion: the future of LAS reform efforts: Initial Evaluation and Recommendations

Taking into consideration the above-mentioned review of a number of Arab official and non-official reform initiatives to reform the League of the Arab States (LAS),  and Futural scenarios, the researcher would like to stress the following observations and recommendations

§                                 As Arab governments stand to become net losers in any real LAS reform effort, most government-sponsored initiatives are motivated by self-preservation and a desire to maintain the status quo rather than a wish to implement genuine change.

§                                 The majority of Arab reform initiatives share key common demands. These include calls for. Creating new organs and reforming a number of aspects such as the Summit conference, the Ministerial Council, the General Secretariat,  the Permanent Representatives Council,  the Arab Security Council,  the Joint Defense Council, Specialized Committees, the Court of Justice, , the Socioeconomic Council and existing institutions, and activating the NGOs and Arab people role and creating a Pan-Arab Parliament

§                                 Successful reform in LAS must be inclusive. Bridging the divide between Arab Regimes will be a critical component of successful  LAS reform efforts.

§                                 The creation of pan-Arab institutions/pacts to generate a set of common values and goals for reform stands as one of the most promising recommendations to date. By bringing together Arab reformers, these pacts could unify key reform advocates, accelerating the momentum for change.

§                                 Nearly all of the reform initiatives, from nongovernmental to multilateral, suffer—to varying degrees—from a lack of specificity. Even the best-conceived governmental efforts reflect broader region-wide concerns rather than LAS-specific priorities. Further, the initiatives offer little in the way of specifying how their proposals should be implemented. All of the proposals would benefit from more specific detail on the means of accomplishing the reform objectives.

§                                 Governmental and Nongovernmental/intellectual reform initiatives of the LAS that hold the greatest promise,  need further thought and development. Specifically, these initiatives should be translated into specific action plans that identify and prioritize key reforms and then elaborate on specific steps for achieving these goals.

§                                 Finally, the future of the LAS reform plans, initiatives and viewpoints will depend primarily on the Arab willing and determination to transform the LAS into an active regional body representing the Arab Regional System. We will wait and see.
 References and Notes:



[1] http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/03/200932210293629611.html

[2] Daniel Callahan (2000). Judging the Future: Whose Fault Will It Be? Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 25 (6):677 – 687. http://philpapers.org/rec/WOOOBH source of wisdom and perspective. The paper argues that a strong future for bioethics requires a broad rather than a reductionistic vision of its proper work. (shrink)

 

[3]Harvard International Review, 01-JAN-04, Going major reforming the League of Arab States_(Middle East) from Goliath Industry and Business News.htm

[4]Al-Saqqaf, Walid, Reforms in the Arab League… in progress, Yemen Times, 14.4.2005.

[5] Mustapha Al Faqi, Reforming The Arab League,    Al-Hayat     2003/07/22.

[6] Mustapha Al Faqi, Reforming The Arab League,    Al-Hayat     2003/07/22.

[7] http://www.iupindia.org/706/ijmr.asp

[8]http://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=A0geu.QuT1VLZ6UAiUlXNyoA?p=The+Prediction+Science&fr2=sb-top&fr=yfp-t-832&sao=1

[9]http://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=A0geu.QuT1VLZ6UAiUlXNyoA?p=The+Prediction+Science&fr2=sb-top&fr=yfp-t-832&sao=1

[10] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prediction

[11]  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prediction.

[12] http://mepi.state.gov/

[13] http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/egypt/?id=9037

[14] Aljazeera_Net - Arab League and the future of reform.htm, Amrawi, Ahmad, Arab League and the future of reform, Wednesday 19 May 2004.

[15] Aljazeera_Net - Arab League and the future of reform.htm, Amrawi, Ahmad, Arab League and the future of reform, Wednesday 19 May 2004.

[16] Aljazeera_Net - Arab League and the future of reform.htm, Amrawi, Ahmad, Arab League and the future of reform, Wednesday 19 May 2004.

[17] Saud, Bashar Discuss Arab League Reform.htm, SANA, 20 January 2004.

[18] Saud, Bashar Discuss Arab League Reform.htm, SANA, 20 January 2004.

[19]ِArabic News .Com, Gulf states discusses reforming the Arab league.htm, 1.3.2004.

[20] http://articles.sfgate.com/keyword/arab-league.

[21] http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/040301/2004030112.html

[22]ِArabic News .Com, Gulf states discusses reforming the Arab league.htm, 1.3.2004.

[23]ِArabic News .Com, Gulf states discusses reforming the Arab league.htm, 1.3.2004.

[24] The Voice of America, 26 February, 2004.

[25] Bignews network.Com, Arab League to reform.htm, 6.3.204.

[26]http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/03/200932210293629611.html.

[27] http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/03/200932210293629611.html.

[28]http://www.aljazeerah.info/News%20archives/2004%20News%20archives/March/1n/Arab%20League%20foreign%20ministers%20look%20for%20reform%20blueprint%20to%20send%20to%20summit.htm

http://www.aljazeerah.info/News%20archives/2004%20News%20archives/March/1n/Arab%20League%20foreign%20ministers%20look%20for%20reform%20blueprint%20to%20send%20to%20summit.htm.

[29] Nicholas Blanford is a Beirut-based journalist, The Arab League and Political Reform: A Vague Commitment, http://www.carnegieendowment.org/arb/?fa=show&article=21271.

[30] http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=116x4273.

[31] Khaleej Times, 1 March 2004

[32]Khaleej Times, 1 March 2004  

[33]  ARAB AFFAIRS - Mar 2 - Efforts To Confront Bush Initiative & Reform The League Await Summit_ from Goliath Industry and Business News.htm, 6.3.2004.

[34] Sid-Ahmed, Mohamed, Reforming the Arab League, \Al-Ahram Weekly  Opinion  Reforming the Arab League.htm, Issue No. 651 ,14 - 20 August 2003.

[35] http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/03/200932210293629611.html.

[36]http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/03/200932210293629611.html.

[37]http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/03/200932210293629611.html

[38] http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/03/200932210293629611.html

[39]http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/03/200932210293629611.html

[40] http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/03/200932210293629611.html

[41]http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/03/200932210293629611.html

[42] http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/03/200932210293629611.html

[43] http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/03/200932210293629611.html

[44]http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/03/200932210293629611.html

[45]http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/03/200932210293629611.html

[46] http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/03/200932210293629611.html

[47] http://www.ahram.org.eg/acpss/eng/ahram/2004/7/5/ARAB30.HTM, Arab Strategic Report, center for Political and Strategic Studies,

[48] [48]http://www.ahram.org.eg/acpss/eng/ahram/2004/7/5/ARAB30.HTM, Arab Strategic Report, center for Political and Strategic Studies

[49]  http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/03/200932210293629611.html

[50] http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/03/200932210293629611.html

[51] Arab Reform Bulletin, http://www.carnegieendowment.org/arb/?fa=show&article=21271.

[52]http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/03/200932210293629611.html

[53] NADIA ABOU EL-MAGD, Associated Press Writer, AP World stream, 03-01-2004. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1P1-91635022.html

[54] http://www.sis.gov.eg/VR/arab2008/english/html/8.htm

[55] http://www.sis.gov.eg/VR/arab2008/english/html/8.htm

[56] Al-Ahram Weekly on Line,  31 July - 6 August 2003, Issue No. 649
Issue No. 649

[57]  Nevine Khalil and Soha Abdelaty,  Al-Ahram Weekly on Line,  31 July - 6 August 2003, Issue No. 649

[58] Al-Ahram on Sunday 29 of July 2003

[59] Al-Ahram,   29th July, 2003

[60]Al-Ahram,   29th July , 2003.

[61]Al-Ahram,   29th July , 2003.

[62]Al-Ahram,   29th July , 2003.

[63] Al-Ahram,   29th July , 2003.

[64]Al-Ahram,   29th July , 2003

[65] http://www.ahram.org.eg/acpss/eng/ahram/2004/7/5/ARAB30.HTM, Arab Strategic Report, center for Political and Strategic Studies,  

[66]http://www.ahram.org.eg/acpss/eng/ahram/2004/7/5/ARAB30.HTM, Arab Strategic Report, center for Political and Strategic Studies.  

[67]  http://www.ahram.org.eg/acpss/eng/ahram/2004/7/5/ARAB30.HTM, Arab Strategic Report, center for Political and Strategic Studies.   

[68] http://www.ahram.org.eg/acpss/eng/ahram/2004/7/5/ARAB30.HTM, Arab Strategic Report, center for Political and Strategic Studies

[69] http://www.ahram.org.eg/acpss/eng/ahram/2004/7/5/ARAB30.HTM, Arab Strategic Report, center for Political and Strategic Studies.

[70] http://www.ahram.org.eg/acpss/eng/ahram/2004/7/5/ARAB30.HTM, Arab Strategic Report, center for Political and Strategic Studies.

[71] http://www.ahram.org.eg/acpss/eng/ahram/2004/7/5/ARAB30.HTM, Arab Strategic Report, center for Political and Strategic Studies.

[72] http://www.ahram.org.eg/acpss/eng/ahram/2004/7/5/ARAB30.HTM, Arab Strategic Report, center for Political and Strategic Studies.

[73]http://www.ahram.org.eg/acpss/eng/ahram/2004/7/5/ARAB30.HTM, Arab Strategic Report, center for Political and Strategic Studies.

[74] [74]http://www.ahram.org.eg/acpss/eng/ahram/2004/7/5/ARAB30.HTM, Arab Strategic Report, center for Political and Strategic Studies.

[75] http://www.ahram.org.eg/acpss/eng/ahram/2004/7/5/ARAB30.HTM, Arab Strategic Report, center for Political and Strategic Studies.

[76] Al-Ahram,   29th July , 2003.

[77] http://www.ahram.org.eg/acpss/eng/ahram/2004/7/5/ARAB30.HTM, Arab Strategic Report, center for Political and Strategic Studies.

[78] http://www.ahram.org.eg/acpss/eng/ahram/2004/7/5/ARAB30.HTM, Arab Strategic Report, center for Political and Strategic Studies.

[79] http://www.ahram.org.eg/acpss/eng/ahram/2004/7/5/ARAB30.HTM, Arab Strategic Report, center for Political and Strategic Studies

[80] Mustapha Al Faqi, Reforming The Arab League,    Al-Hayat     2003/07/22

[81] Mustapha Al Faqi, Reforming The Arab League,    Al-Hayat     2003/07/22

[82] Sid-Ahmed, Mohamed, Reforming the Arab League, \Al-Ahram Weekly  Opinion  Reforming the Arab League.htm, Issue No. 651 ,14 - 20 August 2003.

[83]Sid-Ahmed, Mohamed, Reforming the Arab League, Al-Ahram Weekly  Opinion  Reforming the Arab League.htm, Issue No. 651 ,14 - 20 August 2003.

[84] Sid-Ahmed, Mohamed, Reforming the Arab League, Al-Ahram Weekly  Opinion  Reforming the Arab League.htm, Issue No. 651 ,14 - 20 August 2003.

[85]  Sid-Ahmed, Mohamed, Reforming the Arab League, \Al-Ahram Weekly  Opinion  Reforming the Arab League.htm, Issue No. 651 ,14 - 20 August 2003.

[86] Sid-Ahmed, Mohamed, Reforming the Arab League, \Al-Ahram Weekly  Opinion  Reforming the Arab League.htm, Issue No. 651 ,14 - 20 August 2003.

[87]  Sid-Ahmed, Mohamed, Reforming the Arab League, \Al-Ahram Weekly  Opinion  Reforming the Arab League.htm, Issue No. 651 ,14 - 20 August 2003.

[88]  Sid-Ahmed, Mohamed, Reforming the Arab League, \Al-Ahram Weekly  Opinion  Reforming the Arab League.htm, Issue No. 651 ,14 - 20 August 2003.

[89] Sid-Ahmed, Mohamed, Reforming the Arab League, \Al-Ahram Weekly  Opinion  Reforming the Arab League.htm, Issue No. 651 ,14 - 20 August 2003.

[90] Sid-Ahmed, Mohamed, Reforming the Arab League, \Al-Ahram Weekly  Opinion  Reforming the Arab League.htm, Issue No. 651 ,14 - 20 August 2003.

[91] Sid-Ahmed, Mohamed, Reforming the Arab League, \Al-Ahram Weekly  Opinion  Reforming the Arab League.htm, Issue No. 651 ,14 - 20 August 2003.

[92] Sid-Ahmed, Mohamed, Reforming the Arab League, \Al-Ahram Weekly  Opinion  Reforming the Arab League.htm, Issue No. 651 ,14 - 20 August 2003.

[93]  Al-Ahram Weekly  Opinion  Reforming the Arab League.htm

[94] Arab League Democracy, Unity and Reform By Saad S_ Khan.htm, 2004/04/03.

[95]Arab League Democracy, Unity and Reform By Saad S_ Khan.htm, 2004/04/03.

[96]  Arab League Democracy, Unity and Reform By Saad S_ Khan.htm, 2004/04/03.

[97] ِAl Ahram Weekly,  31 March - 6 April 2005, Issue No. 736.

[98] ِAl Ahram Weekly,  31 March - 6 April 2005, Issue No. 736.

[99] ِAl Ahram Weekly,  31 March - 6 April 2005, Issue No. 736.

[100] ِAl Ahram Weekly,  31 March - 6 April 2005, Issue No. 736.

[101]http://www.keepmedia.com/pubs/AFP/2004/03/02/387089?extID=10037&oliID=229

[102] Arab Leaders Embrace Reform Plan,      http://www.arabnews.com/?page=4&section=0&article=45575&d=24&m=5&y=2004

[103] Arab Leaders Embrace Reform Plan,      http://www.arabnews.com/?page=4&section=0&article=45575&d=24&m=5&y=2004  

[104] http://www.keepmedia.com/pubs/AFP/2004/03/02/387089?extID=10037&oliID=229.

[105]  Al-Jazeera.net, Tuesday 27 December 2005, 15:37 Makka Time, 12:37 GMT , http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2005/12/27/arab_worlds_first_parliament_meets_in_cairo/.

[106] http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/12/06be660b-f623-4951-84c6-9f682065fb00.html

[107] Al-Jazeera.net, Tuesday 27 December 2005, 15:37 Makka Time, 12:37 GMT , http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2005/12/27/arab_worlds_first_parliament_meets_in_cairo/.

[108] http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/12/06be660b-f623-4951-84c6-9f682065fb00.html.

[109] http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/12/06be660b-f623-4951-84c6-9f682065fb00.html.

[110]  http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/12/06be660b-f623-4951-84c6-9f682065fb00.html.

[111] http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/12/06be660b-f623-4951-84c6-9f682065fb00.html.

[112] http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/12/06be660b-f623-4951-84c6-9f682065fb00.html.

[113]The Tunis Declaration issued at the 16th session of the Arab Summit, held in Tunis on May 22-23, 2004.

[114]The Tunis Declaration issued at the 16th session of the Arab Summit, held in Tunis on May 22-23, 2004.

[115] Reforming the League of Arab States by Krister Anderson
Religion, Vol. 25 (4) - Winter 2004 Issue
 http://hir.harvard.edu/index.php?page=article&id=1176&p=

[116]Reforming the League of Arab States by Krister Anderson
Religion, Vol. 25 (4) - Winter 2004 Issue
 http://hir.harvard.edu/index.php?page=article&id=1176&p=

[117] Al-Jazeera.net, Tuesday 27 December 2005, 15:37 Makka Time, 12:37 GMT 

[118] Reforming the League of Arab States by Krister Anderson
Religion, Vol. 25 (4) - Winter 2004 Issue
 http://hir.harvard.edu/index.php?page=article&id=1176&p=

[119]http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticleNew.asp?xfile=data/opinion/2007/February/opinion_February28.xml&section=opinion&col=





تعليق طباعة عودة للخلف

عدد القراء: 2653

عدد التعليقات: 0
مواضيع ذات صلة لا توجد اي مواضيع ذات صلة  


        تعليقات الزوار

Contact Us

feel free to contact us at our Email : kamaltopic@gmail.com

Dr. Kamal Mobile is :+970599843850

رؤية وأهداف

نهدف من خلال موقعنا إلى تزويد الطلاب والباحثين والمهتمين بخدمات علمية مجانية عالية المستوى ونشر أبحاث ودراسات اكاديمية

الدكتور كمال الأسطل,

Missiion Statement

Our goal is to provide students, researchers and interested people with high standard, free of charge scientific services and to publish academic researches.

Kamal Astal,