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Bringing Assad back into the League of Shame does nothing for Arab unity

May 23, 2023 at 10:14 am

Delegates attend the Arab Foreign Ministers Preparatory Meeting ahead of the 32nd Arab League Summit in Jeddah on May 17, 2023 [AFP via Getty Images]

We no longer expect to see or hear anything from the moribund organisation that doesn’t lift a finger to help the people it is supposed to represent, despite the numerous calamities afflicting them across the region. I refer, of course, to the League of Arab States, which is forever the League of Shame. Now it has even rewarded the man responsible for killing his own people with barrel bombs and chemical weapons by readmitting Bashar Al-Assad’s Syria to its fold.

Assad has prisons filled with tens of thousands of his people, where they face the worst torture and humiliation, and he has destroyed towns and cities, displacing millions of Syrians. Four million have sought refuge in neighbouring Turkiye. His allies Russia and Iran have been party to this death and destruction.

I can’t find any record of the League of Shame uttering a word about the brutal massacres committed by the Syrian regime and its Iranian and Russian allies, or the scorched earth policy that Moscow has adopted in its occupation of Syria. Instead, it has challenged the Syrian people and provoked them by hosting the murderer Assad and receiving him as a conqueror in Jeddah.

READ: Syrians in exile say Arab normalisation with Assad audacious but not surprising

The return of the criminal Assad regime to the Arab League at its Jeddah summit was not a coup de grace for the organisation itself; it was the final nail in its coffin. If it was a human being it would be described by doctors as being brain dead, ready to be revived when orders come through from its masters in the White House. When Saddam Hussain invaded Kuwait in 1990, remember, US President George Bush Sr ordered the leaders of the Arab states to meet, and they gathered overnight. This had never happened before, and hasn’t happened since, not even when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 and 2006, or when the occupation state launched one of its many military offensives against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the latest of which was days before the shameful meeting in Jeddah, on the eve of the hate-filled, racist Flag March in occupied Jerusalem, and the Zionist settlers’ storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Arab League did not bat an eyelid at the brutal massacres committed by apartheid Israel against the Palestinians. It has turned a blind eye to the building of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land and Israel’s cruel siege of the Gaza Strip. It has said and done nothing about the Judaisation of Jerusalem and the digging of tunnels under Al-Aqsa Mosque, which threaten to undermine its foundations. It has said and done nothing about the frequent Israeli air strikes against Syria and violations of Lebanese air space, and even the Zionist attacks on sites in Iraq.

And what about the 2003 US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq? What did the League of Shame do or say about that? There is no doubt that this basically killed the organisation.

More recently, it was absent from the carving up of Sudan and the creation of South Sudan in 2011. Likewise, it has met the violence in Yemen with a resounding silence. Even the UN spoke up about the world’s “worst humanitarian disaster” there. And the League did not get involved at all in the siege imposed on an Arab state, Qatar, by five other Arab countries who are also members of the organisation.

READ: Demonstrations against Assad’s Arab Summit participation

What happened (and continues to happen) in Yemen and the siege of Qatar both made a mockery of the Arab nation under the cover of the Arab League. It not only overlooked the betrayal of the Palestinians by the UAE and Bahrain with their normalisation of relations with the Zionist enemy, without any punishment or even blame laid at their door, but also turned a blind eye to Saudi Arabia and the UAE invading another member of the Arab League, Yemen, and besieging another Arab country, Qatar.

It is fair to say that the League of Shame is not known for its effectiveness in any issue affecting the Arab world; it never even took a firm position against Donald Trump’s recognition of “undivided” Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel or his moving of the US Embassy to the holy city. Arab League silence greeted Israel’s illegal annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights. And it has played no role in reconciliation between its member states. It’s moves are dictated by the policies of the axis that pulls its strings, especially after the “counter-revolution” states became dominant post-Arab Spring, led by the wealth of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. They controlled the League’s positions and their influence matched their money. The League’s standards changed and the scales were tipped away from the historical constants, and the term “Zionist enemy” was erased from its lexicon. The days when it would at least issue condemnations of every Israeli attack are missed, even though we mocked them at the time as not being strong enough.

Despite its ineffectiveness on any of the vital issues of concern to the nation, it remained — theoretically, at least — a unifying entity for the Arab countries, and an expression of the Arab conscience. The Palestinian cause was its strongest pillar and most important constant since the League’s creation, which more or less coincided with the Palestinian tragedy of the Nakba. Palestine was its first pillar for unity and it is the reason that it survived until it was hijacked by the Arab Zionists. Today, the Arab League is an entity for Arab immorality; it should be called the League of Israeli States.

READ: From joy to dismay, Syrians split over Assad’s Arab League return

This reflects the reality that the Arab League was never intended to bring the Arab people together; it was and is a club for their governments, which is why it has never been a thorn in the side of the enemies of the Arab nation for the past 75 years. Its creation in March 1945 was under the watchful eyes of the British occupation authorities and Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden. “The British government would view with sympathy any move among the Arabs to promote their economic, cultural or political unity,” Eden told the House of Commons in February 1943. In a famous speech he made two years earlier he invited the Arab world to achieve this goal, and to help His Majesty’s Government to strengthen the cultural, economic and political ties between the Arab countries.

This was during the Second World War, and Eden wanted to bribe the Arab countries to stand by the Allies against the Axis countries. Britain’s classic divide and rule tactic was used to exploit the situation to further fragment the largely Muslim Arab world. His tempting promises of independence and the right to self-determination evaporated as soon as Germany was defeated.

Eden and his predecessor Lord Balfour were two sides of the same coin. While Balfour boosted the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, Eden helped to separate the Arabs from their Islamic identity. This resulted in the Palestinian issue becoming an “Arab-Israeli conflict” rather than an Islamic issue to protect Al-Aqsa Mosque on behalf of the world’s Muslims.

The occupation state was not established in the middle of the Arab world because Britain and the West had any great love for the Jews. It was set up as a “bastion of European civilisation” to act as a guard dog for the West and protect its interests in the region. The West also enlisted the help of the “kings” and “emirs” in return for establishing and preserving their thrones. The League of Shame was created to play a role in this charade.

Thus, while the League of Arab States has the final nail hammered into its coffin by readmitting the regime of the butcher Bashar Al-Assad and his regime, the constituent regimes of shame must know that their own days are numbered by this move. The Arab people will revive their revolutions and liberate themselves from the occupation usurpers: the regimes oppressing them, and the Israeli state occupying their land.

READ: Arab League readmits Syria as relations with Assad normalise

It is only a matter of time. And the clock is ticking.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.