League of Arab States (LAS)

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Abstract

The Syrian civil war, which began in 2011, was the start of a collapse of order in areas throughout the Middle East. Those rebel groups opposing the Bashar Hafez al-Assad government and the absence of governing authority over vast parts of this failing state have culminated in the brutal rise of ISIL with grave repercussions throughout the region. These severe disruptions, which spread from Syria and Iraq and on to the Middle East and North Africa, have caused concern within the international community and for the international organization, the LAS, more commonly known as the Arab League. The Arab League originated in the idea of bringing together Arab countries against colonial rule and was formed in March 1945. In addition to the original members, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Transjordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, the LAS now comprises the following member states: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, the State of Palestine, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, the UAE, and Yemen. Syria’s participation was suspended in November 2011, as a consequence of its government’s repressive measures taken in the civil war. Libya’s membership was suspended for about six months in the same year and was restored with an interim Libyan government following Gaddafi’s departure, sending a representative to the League. The membership covers a very large geographical area, including the Middle East, North Africa, and countries from the Horn of Africa. The events over the past four years in Syria and neighboring states have created a grave humanitarian crisis, with an enormous wave of migration from the Middle East to Europe. One researcher recently described this as “the Hobbesian Nightmare” for the Arab League (Gumbo, 2014). The present conflict in the Middle East, in many ways, is a continuation of events that began many years ago. In terms of regional context, the aftermath of the Gulf War of 1990, the Invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the armed assistance given to opposition groups in Libya that resulted in the toppling of President Gaddafi in 2011 are all linked to the situation in the Middle East today, where the crisis has resulted in the displacement and brutalization of large numbers of the local population. With the increasing involvement of major powers from outside the region, any attempt to analyze this complicated and fast-moving situation is akin to viewing a moving target, with ever changing dynamics in the regional order, particularly when assessing the role of the Arab League. This makes it more difficult to understand the rise of ISIL within the geographic region of the LAS members. This chapter will begin by examining the capacities of the Arab League to effect security for its member states and their citizens, considering the League’s constitution and its military assets, and also noting how its individual member states have reacted to the rise of ISIL. We will then show how the LAS has, or has not, the abilities or skills required to take actions on these issues. We define capacities as military, economic, and political resources that exist to deal with ISIL. The Arab League’s abilities in practice we define as the willingness and readiness to act upon those resources (see Chapter 1). This then leads on to a discussion of whether or not the League, as presently constituted, can implement the UN policy of R2P. Finally, we outline how the League and its individual states have acted over the problem of the rise of ISIL.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Organisations and the Rise of ISIL
Subtitle of host publicationGlobal responses to human security threats
EditorsDaniel Silander , Don Wallace, John Janzekovic
Place of PublicationAbingdon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Chapter8
Pages137-150
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781315536095
ISBN (Print)9781138689374
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2016

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