June 19, 2017
“Pact of the League of Arab States” defines the purpose of the League as achieving close collaboration between Member States to safeguard their independence and sovereignty.
Articles 5. and 6. of the Pact state the following:
“The recourse to force for the settlement of disputes between two or more member States shall not be allowed. Should there arise among them a dispute that does not involve the independence of a State, its sovereignty or its territorial integrity, and should the two contending parties apply to the Council for the settlement of this dispute, the decision of the Council shall then be effective and obligatory…
“… The Council shall mediate in a dispute which may lead to war between two member States or between a member State and another State in order to conciliate them…
“… In case of aggression or threat of aggression by a State against a member State, the State attacked or threatened with attack may request an immediate meeting of the Council.
“The Council shall determine the necessary measures to repel this aggression…”
Among the lofty objectives of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)are the following: enhancing and consolidating the bonds of fraternity and solidarity among the Member States; non-interference in the domestic affairs; supporting the restoration of complete sovereignty and territorial integrity of any Member State under occupation as a result of aggression; and, combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
And, according to Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) Charter, its basic objectives are:
“To effect coordination, integration and inter-connection between Member States in all fields in order to achieve unity between them.
“To deepen and strengthen relations, links and areas of cooperation now prevailing between their peoples in various fields.
“To formulate similar regulations in various fields including the following:
“Economic and financial affairs
“Commerce, customs and communications…”
Today, despite what is said in the Arab League Pact and the OIC Charter, leading Arab and Muslim countries are at war. It started with the Arab Spring in Libya, then engulfed Syria and acquired a sectarian character. Large swaths of Syrian territory have been under occupation by the Islamic State (IS) for years but the Arab League has been of no consequence. Could it be that IS does not fit the Pact’s definition of a “state” because it has not been recognized by other countries and is not yet a member of the UN? Or, should one wait for the Arab NATO?
Between leading OIC members, bonds of fraternity are a myth, but failure to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is today’s reality. They can’t agree who is a terrorist and who is not.
And now, the GGC instead of formulating similar regulations in economic and financial fields as foreseen in its Charter is divided by a “blockade” although Minister al-Jubeir disputes the characterization and says that what done is the denial of the use of Saudi airspace which is a sovereign right.
Glaring violations of the Pact and the two Charters lead to many other foreign and security policy contradictions.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia want regime change in Syria but disagree on the Muslim Brotherhood. Ankara believes that the blockade against Qatar is wrong; it says that it is not taking sides and expects Saudi Arabia, the leader of the anti-Qatar coalition, to resolve the problem.
Turkey and Egypt are no longer represented at each other’s capital at ambassadorial level because the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government and jailing of Morsi made Ankara furious.
For Qatar and the anti-Qatar coalition former’s support for the Brotherhood is also a big issue.
Support for Hamas is another divisive topic.
Turkey now says that its base in Qatar was conceived in 2014 as a contribution to GCC security. Against a threat coming from where is harder to spell out.
When the occasion is right, Iran and Turkey say that their borders have remained unchanged since the Treaty of Kasri-i Sirin of 1639 but their current policies defying their long-term interests do not contribute to maintaining the borders of Iraq and Syria where they remain adversaries.
Saudi Arabia now says that they have allowed the movement of families between the Kingdom and Qatar so that they are not divided and that they are prepared to provide Qatar with food and medical supplies, should they need this. In Yemen, at the other side of the Arab peninsula, however, a cholera outbreak continues to spread. UNICEF says that 124,000 cases have been recorded as of last Tuesday, with 923 people — a quarter of them children — dead in the current outbreak.
Reuters reported that according to UN war crimes investigators, intensified coalition air strikes have killed at least 300 civilians in the Syrian northern city of Raqqa since March, as U.S.-backed forces closed in on the stronghold of Islamic State forces. Mosul is a worse tragedy.
At the outset of the Gulf crisis President Trump said the following on Twitter:
“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!
“So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”
Only days later, Qatar’s Ministry of Defense announced that the country had signed a deal to buy F-15 fighter jets from the United States for $12 billion. And, Qatar news agency reported last Wednesday that two US Navy vessels have arrived in Doha to take part in a joint military exercise with the Qatari Navy.
Perhaps these were intended as a message to the anti-Qatar coalition to refrain from more dramatic courses of action such as forced regime change or military intervention, because in a tiny country with more than 10,000 US troops, the damage to Washington’s international credibility through such ventures would be huge and lasting.
Despite this grim picture, Middle East leaders continue with their usual double-talk, blame others for all their failures. Towards the end of his second term they had started voicing their dislike for Mr. Obama; now they are confused by President Trump but find it too early yet to openly criticize him. And, Washington sends conflicting message but almost always ends up blaming Tehran. In the meantime, millions and millions of people in war zones are suffering, seeking new lives on the shores of Europe if they can make it that far and the Europeans worry about new waves of refugees as well as the threat of terrorism. Instead of joining the sword dance in Saudi Arabia, President Trump could have used the occasion to announce a conference of all Middle Eastern countries to be held in Washington soon, where they would be reminded of their contractual obligations towards one another under their own pacts and charters and asked to draw a roadmap towards regional stability.