Monday, September 08, 2003

Billmon discusses the Arab League's decison to recognize and grant the Iraqi Governing Council a seat.

What strikes me, though, is the degree to which the Arab League has now been prostituted to Anglo-American power -- thanks primarily to the Egyptians and to a lesser extent the Saudis. The administration reportedly pressed down hard on some sensitive spots to get the result it wanted.

Truly, the League has come a long, long way since the 1967 Khartoum Conference, which produced the famous "Three Nos" -- no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no peace with Israel.

But in achieving this victory, I wonder whether the administration may not have wrecked whatever is left of the League's own legitimacy -- and thus its usefulness as a front for American power. The bullying (and bribing) tactics applied were so obvious and so transparent, it's hard to see how the end product could be viewed with anything other than disgust and rage by a wide swath of Arab popular opinion.
From the point of view of the Arab street this completely delegitimatizes the Arab nations, since it recognizes the invasion and occupation as legitimate. The Arab world was stunned at the speed of Saddam's overthrow and Iraq's lack of resistance, but saw Saddam's demise as his own fault, yet al-Jazeera's exclusive news coverage (showing the everyday humiliation of Iraqis by American "colonizers") makes Arabs feel humiliated and angry.

The Arab League's effectiveness as a regional organisation has been severely hampered by divisions between its member states over the past decades, ranging from the Cold War, were some sided with the West and some with the Soviets to the first Gulf war. Back than, some fought alongside us, some opposed while some stayed neutral.

One simply has to question if the League has any effect at all? It does nothing beyound supporing Palestinians against Israeli occupation, but it issues declarations and that's it. Besides the boycott of Israel, the League is a gathering of non-elected, non-democratic despots, which we unfortunately have to deal with it.


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