May 14, 2006
The BBC just ran a very interesting episode of the Doha Debates, a monthly discussion panel examining a motion. Hosted by Tim Sebastian, the combative interviewer whose previous gig was at the BBC's own HardTalk, the episode asked whether the Arab League ought to be disbanded. A clear majority of the people in attendance (and I note here that the elites of Doha are hardly representative of the teeming masses or the governments of the Arab world) seemed to think this was indeed the case. Notwithstanding the entertainment value of watching Qaddafi in a public forum, one is curious as to just what the point of the League really is; its accomplishments certainly haven't been all that spectacular, and its manner of (mal)functioning has annoyed more than one member state. Are there not already enough fora for a dialogue of the deaf?
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I always liked Tim Sebastian on Hard Talk; every once in a while I watch some U.S. TV journalist interviewing someone, and there's just no comparison. I catch the Doha Debates sometimes. I assume that many of the people in the audience already have their minds made up before the debate even starts, but there are some interesting exchanges.
The Arab League seems pretty lame, but if they were disbanded, there would probably have to be some similar organization. Would any organization do any better given the same countries and the same baggage they're all carrying?
The Arab League do present some form of needed humor, no?
That aside, this current form of the "Arab League" should be disbanded - at the very least one can argue that they have done nothing constructive in recent days; on a more realistic level, one can argue that the existence of the "Arab League" has in fact compounded the already existing ills of some MENA countries ...
Posted by: Lazarus at May 15, 2006 01:46 AM
Rubbish, the Arab League works brilliantly at providing an added source of employment for Egyptian diplomats and a forum for enjoying some of the Guide's antics.
The Arab region talking shop function of course probably is "needed" at some level, although more tightly defined interest groups may be more useful (as in the GCC, although that just barely manages to be functional, and the Maghreb Union is so comically dysfunctional that one wonders why anyone bothers - well I should admit some MAghreb Union technical bodies get along and work quite well actually. But it is largely a disaster. I blame it on the Algerian generals largely, lot of whankers they are)
Posted by: The Lounsbury at May 15, 2006 02:19 AM
So far as I can tell, the League allows the same people to meet every year and continue to agree to disagree. Well, they are all happy to sign off on statements saying that all other things being equal, they'd prefer it if the Israelis were nice to the Palestinians and other governments intervened less in their backyards, but then they hardly need an Arab League to make such bland pronouncements.
They could instead have:
1) A rotating annual conference that serves as a photo session, or
2) A body with effective powers and real voting
If they somehow set up the latter (magically forcing despots to give up sovereignty along the way), I'm not sure what point it would serve anyway. Nobody's talking seriously about bringing together the disparate regional economies so that they can form some sort of economic union, and the idea of a common foreign policy is risible right now.
Yesterday's panelists speaking in favor of the League unintentionally showed me that the organization was a giant hangover from the days of pan-Arab nationalism. The Palestinian (Azmi Bishara, I'm sure many of you are familiar with him) went on about the Arab nation and solidarity, while the Egyptian diplomat serving directly under Amr Moussa, the League's chief, was aghast that anyone had dared to criticize an Arab head of state on television.
Posted by: dubaiwalla at May 15, 2006 03:56 AM
Yes, the Arab League sucks big time, it's lame, worthless, etc., etc.
It doesn't mean an Arab league isn't needed. The Arab League being currently such a piece of crap means it needs to be "fixed", not disbanded. No, I'm not holding my breath on it being fixed. But there's just no point in eliminating it.
So let me break the consensus, and this point is especially directed to Arabs who want it eliminated because it's so pathetic. Look at the Arab League, and you'll see yourselves. It's so pathetic because we are. Removing it is just sweeping our dirt under the rug. It certainly won't make the issues the AL is supposed to deal with go away. And it won't make us look any less a bunch of retarded failures.
Posted by: Shaheen at May 15, 2006 05:10 AM
I was wondering if maybe Azmi Bishara maybe doesn't get a chance to speak much in the Knesset, because he certainly enjoyed talking in that debate!