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Friday, 15 November 2019

Arab cooperation: Again and again

Alaa Thabet , Saturday 12 Oct 2019
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Views: 4179

Arab states have been through the toughest time of all. For the first time since their establishment, many of those states have been shattered by corruption, political differences, and foreign intervention, not to mention terrorism.

The only institution that would have been capable of tackling such difficult files, which is the Arab League, is practically lost and became inactive, to say the least.

It has been rather hard for any of the Arab states to singlehandedly solve any of the region’s multiple issues,nor could the Arab League. Currently, we have several bleeding nations and Yemen comes at the top of them.

The story of the Yemeni conflict has turned into a timebomb that could at any time explode at the doorsteps of the Gulf of Aden. In Libya, the issue is bigger than securing the unity of the Libyan territoriesandmaintaining the country’s oil wealth.It’s rather containing the impact of terrorism which has been threatening the neighbouring states with a clear international collusion.

Despite the fact that countries such as Iraq and Syria have degraded the terror threat since the spectre of terrorism has retreated, the two countries have been struggling to get through the rehabilitation process which calls for Arab support, if not intervention. There are various regional and international powers that have been looking forward for the collapse of Damascus and Baghdad to create a new order that achieves their interests.Thus, Arab support would have been of great value for the two states.

The dilemma of the Arab League which has been paralysed due to internal Arab conflicts has been a headache to its secretary-general, Ahmed Abul-Gheit. He explained to the present writer that the aggravation of internal conflicts among Arab states has side-tracked the League’s role, benefiting some regional powers such as Turkey and Iran, and super powers such as the United States and Russia, in addition to Israel. The latter has been getting greedier and more voracious to control Arab territories as has been the case in the occupied West Bank, the Golan Heights and Jerusalem.

We are currently facing a grave risk that calls for a strong and unified Arab stand. All parties have been paying dearly for the deterioration of the inter-Arab ties and regional polarisation has been high on the agenda of most Arab states. In most cases, Arab countries are looking forward to a foreign ally instead of calling on its natural Arab allies. The gap has been increasingly wide and the roads took each and every one of us to a different direction. Thus,it became easy to devour Arab lands. We are unable to see the path to saving their countries: Arab cooperation.

Several Arab states have been paying hundreds of billions of dollars to maintain their security and pile up the most expensive weapons. If those billions were invested in the region’s economy instead of war or to enhance trade exchange among Arab states, it would have created a strong bloc of an Arab nation.

If those billions were used to develop industries, the banking system or to make better use of our natural resources, we would have been in no need to pile up all the machinery of the West to protect us from our neighbours. If we invested in strengthening our institutions like the Arab League, the Maghreb Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council, we would have been able to overcome the internal difficulties and differences that made the three institutions no more than a toothless lion.

The Arab League would have played the role of the honest broker, capable of settling the Arab nation’s problems and giving no room for the intervention of foreign parties that play to their interests. The super powers have been working to promote the ongoing conflict in the region to get the most out of its resources.

The president of the United States, Donald Trump, has not moved a finger against Iran which shot down a US drone, saying almost nothing but vicious rhetoric that kept the Iranian threat all over the place. The silent and sometimes blindfolded presence of the US in this region has encouraged Tehran to enhance its operations in a number of Arab states.

Turkey has also been extending its influence in Libya in support of some terrorist groups there, which is very much the same situation in Damascus where the Turkish support of terrorist groups in Adlib has become obvious. In Iraq, both Turkey and Iran are playing a leading role. What has been going on in Iraq is echoed in Yemen, but Arabs have not learned the lessons yet.

The best possible and cheapest yet effective solution to the Arabs’ dilemma is to go back to their natural allies; to their Arab neighbours, to try to find out solutions to their problems. They should become a unified bloc politically, economically and socially. They should try to get rid of the US, the Russian, the Turkish and the Iranian umbrella in favour of their own.

Only then will Arab states become a regional power that is hard to defeat and harder to fight.

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