This commentary was published in Asharq al-Awsat on 24/02/2011
It seems that our Arab League has finally awoken from its long slumber, and has now taken an important step by suspending the participation of Libyan delegations at its summits. This was decided the day before yesterday, during an emergency meeting which the League held in Cairo, to discuss the massacres currently being committed by the Libyan regime against its own citizens.
When we say the Arab League has woken up, this is not an affront on the League, or its Secretary General Amr Musa, rather this is an issue that dates back before his current term. If the Arab League had previously adopted the steps it is currently taking to deal with issues, then the Arab situation would not be as it is today, characterized by hesitancy and lethargy in most Arab nations. If the League had adopted such stances before, we would not have reached the stage whereby the dignity of the Arab citizen is being violated, a case which we have seen before, and we are seeing again now. In the past, before the era of satellites, the internet and so on, we were not able at the time to see what Saddam Hussein actually did, for example, against the Kurds. Of course there are other crueler or worse examples, but some might say that in the past there was no clear view of events, there were no scandalous images. Nevertheless, the Arab League, and some Arabs themselves, were informed and aware of what was going on, so If the Arab League were to end its unacceptable and illogical constraints, namely the stipulation of a general consensus, whereby every decision must be issued unanimously, then our situation, and the situation of the Arab League, would be far better and more credible.
If the Arab League had previously adopted meaningful decisions, such as those it took against Libya the day before yesterday in Cairo, then perhaps the Arab outlook would be better, even if only marginally. Imagine if the League had taken such decisions during Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, instead of the notorious summit of conflict that was held in Egypt at the time. Imagine if the Arab League had taken similar action against Sudan, at the time when former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was exposed to an assassination attempt, or when Sudan hosted Osama bin Laden, or Carlos the Jackal. Imagine if the Arab League had taken a similar stance when the Libyan regime was accused of plotting to assassinate King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, at the time when he was the crown prince, imagine…imagine…The list goes on of course, and if the Arab League had adopted such actions long ago, it would have been a foundation for a new ethical phase in the Arab world. This would certainly be far better than how the situation has turned out today.
Of course, the Arab League does not have a magic wand in its hand, and we know that the current Secretary General Amr Musa is a staunch advocate of reform. Constant Arab wrangling has marred the work of the Arab League, leaving little chance to improve it. However, the League was able to undertake effort to preserve the dignity of the Arab citizen. At the very least, in the event of a disputed decision within the League, the Arab citizen should be able to see who sided with the dictator, and who voted against him.
Therefore everyone is hoping today that the awakening of the Arab League will not be a temporary one, but rather a lasting awakening, so tyrants can no longer take root among us.