“The real story at hand is about the revival of Arab sovereignty — expressed obliquely in the slow steps the Arab League is taking ………. The Arab League has long been a cross between the forces of fiction and futility, a largely meaningless organization that has enjoyed neither impact nor respect in the Arab arena it is supposed to represent. ………… By engaging with Syrian opposition groups to plan a transition from the current conditions, it firmed up that which the Libya decision had only touched on gingerly: It is permissible now for Arab countries to meddle in the internal affairs of other Arab states, when there is a clear moral or political reason to do so that reflects the sentiments of a majority of Arab public opinion………. The other fascinating new development we see before our eyes is the continued rebirth and reassertion of Arab sovereignty, will and influence within the Arab world, after decades during which the incompetent and politically derelict Arab states largely surrendered their regional security and ideological functions to foreign powers, especially Israel, Turkey, Iran and the United States. The Arab League is now making decisions whose consequences are ricocheting around the region and the world …………….”
This piece above is giving too much credit to the still decrepit Arab League and to the potentates controlling it. Here is my take on how things happened and are happening:
- Mohamed Bouazizi, a desperate young Tunisian, sets himself and our region aflame (December 17, 2010 and died January 4, 2011). Hundreds of thousands march in Tunisia, millions march in Egypt, thousands are killed from Egypt to Libya to Syria and Yemen and Bahrain.
- This piece is giving credit to the very same people who tried desperately to crush the Arab Spring (and still are). He is writing as if the Arab League was responsible for the Arab uprisings. He is writing as if the Arab despots, absolute tribal kings, princes, and dictators, were behind the Arab uprisings. Remember when the Saudi king claimed last February that Egyptian protesters at Tahrir were “foreign infiltrators”? (Thank God Egypt doesn’t have many Shi’as).
- Yet the Arab uprisings are not done, and not only in Yemen and Syria and Bahrain. They are not done in Egypt and Libya (and even in their birthplace of Tunisia). They are not done in other places, they have not even started in the most repressive Arab state: Saudi Arabia.
- The Arab League has not really changed: it is still dominated by the same despots who have dominated it for a quarter of a century. The uprising in Libya was aided by NATO with an air campaign and a covert ground campaign (so much for more Arab independence). The uprising in Yemen is being ”controlled” by the same Arab despots with the help of a Western air campaign, at least. The uprising in Bahrain is being “controlled” by the same Arab despots with their tanks. The uprising in Syria is being aided (gradually) in part for reasons of regional power politics. Hardly for the Syrian people. Absolute royal princes would probably kill as many people, nay more, to remain in power if they faced the same uprising as Bashar al-Assad and the Ba’ath Party (just look at Bahrain). The Arab League , since it could not stop the uprisings, is working to contain and control them.
- So much for independence from foreign powers like the West and Turkey and Iran and Israel: the region is far from that. Turkey is looked to for a Syrian solution (and a Palestinian role). Iran is crucial for a Lebanese (and possibly Palestinian) solution. The West (USA, France, Britain), well the West owns most of the region and more than ever before, like it or not. The Western powers are being gradually invited back by the Arab regimes to “reclaim” Syria for the first time since 1946, just as they were invited to “reclaim” Libya for the first time since 1969. As for Israel: some of the same Arab leaders who now run he Arab League are no doubt still praying for an effective Israeli strike against Iran. Just as they did in 2006.
- The Arab League represents the lowest common denominator of its members, its ruling potentates. It will not change until these Arab regimes are changed.