The “Arab League's" Egyptian Secretary General Nabil Elaraby recently made a statement in which he blamed Turkey. To some, this statement is an indication of the fact that the “Arab street" has turned its back against Turkey. However, the “Arab League" represents the regimes which have suppressed the Arab streets. Can someone who represents a regime which has toppled a democratically elected president, has massacred people on the streets and has imprisoned tens of thousands of dissidents be a representative of the Arab street?
Elaraby made this statement during the closing session of the “26th Arab League Summit." The summit had come up with the resolution to establish a “United Arab Force" in respect to the recent crisis in Yemen. The participation of members in the “United Arab Force" is not obligatory. The military force of the league is limited to the Arab countries led by Riyadh, which are participating in the military operation in Yemen. Of course, Iraq is not supporting the “United Arab Force" based on sectarian grounds. On the other hand, Syria's membership in the league had been suspended in 2011. State authority cannot currently be found in Somalia, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. Sudan, which has previously been divided into two is now facing the threat of yet another partition, while Lebanon is politically divided in terms of the “United Arab Force."
I looked up who Nabil Elaraby is. It turns out, he is one of the people who had participated in the negotiations of the Camp David Accord signed between Egypt and Israel during the Anwar Sadat administration. The accord which resulted in a trauma in the Arab streets was the reason behind Egypt's expulsion from the Arab League. Anwar Sadat's assassination was a direct result of the Arab street's reaction to Camp David. The Egyptian army has enjoyed generous military aid from the U.S. in return for signing the accord. Egypt, which was alienated from the rest of the Arab world, was only able to return to the League after 10 years, thanks to Saddam Hussein.
According to the Arab League convention, armed attacks against any member of the league is considered to be made against the rest of the members of the league. When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, the Arab League was left in a not-so-complacent position, while Egypt was loyal to the agreement they had signed with Israel above everything.
The Arab League was able to put an end to the dispute between Iraq and Kuwait in 1990. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf regimes turned a blind eye to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. This way, they put Saddam before the U.S. With the call of the Arab League, Egypt and Syria deployed soldiers to support the American troops in Saudi Arabia. The Arab streets rejoiced when Iraq deployed scud missiles to Israel. The Egyptian and Syrian troops joined the celebrations of the Arab streets by screaming “God is Great." However, they were in Saudi Arabia to fight Iraq.
Hosni Mobarak made a statement and said that a country facing aggression has the right to defend itself, while Hafez Assad, the cunning dictator of Damascus acted wisely and remained silent. However, Mobarak's statements which implicitly expressed support for Israel, had been a heated topic in the Syrian press for days.
When Iraq was pushed out of Kuwait, Egypt had asked for $500 million from Saudi Arabia as service fee. Instead of an immediate payment, the Saudis spread it over a period of time. In Egyptian journalist Muhammad Haykal's words, Egyptians felt like they were exploited by the wealthy Gulf countries when there is a need for them and are disposed like a dirty piece of Kleenex when their job is done. On the other hand, Syrians felt like their country was being used more like a security guard on lease rather than a partner.
In point of fact, it is extremely difficult to talk about an Arab League in real terms. A relatively loose structure exists which seems like a union from the outside, but is fragmented all over the place on the inside. It is crucial for the Arab street to be liberated in order to get a real sense of what the Arab street feels like.