Libmonster ID: UK-1437
Author(s) of the publication: L. M. ISAEV


National Research University-Higher School of Economics

Keywords: League, Arab spring, Syria-Libya, Amr Musa

With the onset of socio-political upheavals in the Arab world, the Middle East and North Africa region has experienced a series of political transformations. Some countries-Libya and Syria-have plunged into a state of civil war, others-Egypt and Yemen-are in a state of permanent political and legal crisis, etc. All this was a test of strength for the League of Arab States (LAS) - one of the oldest international organizations in the world*.

At the beginning of the Arab Spring, there was another change of leadership in the League - in May 2011, Nabil al-Arabi took over the post of Secretary General, replacing Amr Musa, who had held this post since 2001. It would seem that the arrival of the new leadership was supposed to bring a fresh look at the events of the Arab Spring to the League and help to strengthen the role of the League as a guarantor of stability in the region. Especially in the context of the fact that Amr Moussa, who was aiming for the post of president of Egypt after the departure of Hosni Mubarak, in the last months of his tenure as Secretary General of the Arab League, behaved more like a presidential candidate than the head of the pan-Arab organization.


During the second Arab Economic Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, which took place immediately before the revolutionary events in Egypt in January 2011, Amr Moussa made a statement that the actions of the protesters are destructive and only complicate the discussion of the burning issues on the agenda.1

The Arab League was confident that after Tunisia, a wave of protests would sweep over neighboring Algeria, where the power of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has recently been repeatedly harshly criticized by the opposition. It was hard to believe that the next state would be Egypt. Subsequently, critical attitude to the events of the" Arab Spring " in its early stages cost Amr Musa the presidency - his opponents often blamed him for the negative perception of anti-government protests in January 2011.

However, as soon as it became clear that events in Egypt could follow the Tunisian scenario, the then Secretary General of the Arab League immediately took the opposite position, speaking out in support of the forces opposed to Mubarak. The end of the Mubarak regime in Egypt on February 11, 2011 was marked by the Arab League Secretary General's statement in support of the Egyptian people and Egypt's leading role in the pan-Arab organization.2

All this forced Amr Moussa to act contrary to the interests of the League (it is fair to note that during his tenure as Secretary-General, A. Moussa tried to pursue a neutral policy towards the Member States, acting primarily in the interests of the Arab League), and demonstrate to the Egyptian electorate his commitment to anti-government sentiments. Hence the very ambiguous, if not historic, decisions of the Arab League Council to suspend the membership of Libya and Syria in the meetings of the League's supreme governing body.

These decisions look extremely hasty and ill-considered, especially if we take into account that in the entire history of the functioning of the League of Arab States, such decisions have never been made, although there were many reasons for such radical actions. It is enough to recall the annexation of Western Palestine by Jordan in 1950, after which the majority of Member States raised the issue of excluding the latter from the Arab League, but the mediation efforts on the part of Iraq were enough to prevent this. Nor were such harsh sanctions imposed on Iraq, which tried to annex Kuwait in 1961 and 1990. Nor were any sanctions imposed on Sudan for President Omar al-Bashir's alleged crimes against humanity in the southern province of Darfur. A warrant for his arrest was issued by the UN International Criminal Court.

The only exception was Egypt's expulsion from the Arab League in 1979, following the signing of the Camp David Accords with Israel by then-President Anwar Sadat. However, such a decision was not immediately made by the League: Jordan's position on this issue was not so unambiguous, 3 and King Hussein bin Talal even ignored the Arab leaders ' summits in Tripoli in 1977 and Algeria in 1978. Only at the Arab League summit in Baghdad in 1979 was it possible to make an unprecedented decision to exclude Egypt, the founding state, from the Arab League leagues.

Decisions on suspending the membership of Libya and Syria in the Arab League were made with lightning speed. Anti-government protests in the country began on February 15, 2011, and on February 22, at an emergency meeting of the Arab League Council, this decision was made on Libya, which was then chairing the League. Paragraph 8 of Council Resolution 136 stated: "Suspend the membership of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in the meetings of the Arab League Council and all Arab League bodies and committees until the Libyan authorities fulfill the above requirements (in this Resolution. - author's note) demands and will not ensure the security of the Libyan people " 4.

From now on, the attention of the pan-Arab organization is focused on:-

The research was carried out within the framework of the HSE Basic Research Program in 2013.

* The LAS Charter was signed on March 22, 1945.

page 33

My attention was focused on the situation in this North African country.


On March 12, 2011, the Arab League requested the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya (Article 1 of LAS Council Resolution 7360).5. The goal of the Arab League initiative was to put an end to Gaddafi's violence against anti-Government demonstrators. However, this decision was not easy for the League. Thus, Algeria, Syria, Mauritania and Sudan opposed the adoption of the resolution. Their concerns were primarily related to the fact that the opening of a no-fly zone in the skies over Libya would later threaten it with the loss of its own sovereignty. Moreover, in accordance with article 2 of resolution 7360, the LAS Council called on all States to establish contacts with the Transitional National Council (TNC)* Libya, thereby accepting the position of one of the parties (and at the very beginning of the Libyan crisis) and depriving itself of the opportunity to act as a mediator in the settlement of the conflict.

On March 17, 2011, a month after the start of anti-government protests in Libya, the UN Security Council, having considered the appeal of the Secretary General of the Arab League, adopted resolution 1973, which prohibited flights in the skies over the Jamahiriya, and also allowed the forces of the international coalition to intervene in the conflict on the side of opposition forces in the event of an increase in the intensity of the civil war.

In itself, the adoption of such decisions by the LAS Council and the UN Security Council looked unbalanced. The fact is that since the anti-government protests in Libya escalated into a full-fledged civil war on February 17, 2011, both Gaddafi's forces and the rebels were armed with tanks, heavy artillery, and anti-aircraft guns. The only difference was that the former had professional soldiers fighting on their side, while the rebel army consisted of runaway soldiers as well as civilians who had taken up arms.

UN Security Council Resolution 1973 contained 29 articles. The first called for an "immediate ceasefire" and called on the Libyan Government to "fulfil its obligations under international law", including the "rapid and unhindered passage of humanitarian aid shipments".6

The fourth and fifth articles dealt with the protection of civilians, with an emphasis (in article 5) on the regional responsibility of the League of Arab States. In fact, article 4 of resolution 1973 gave the Arab League complete freedom of action with regard to Libya, " authorizing its member States ... acting ... through regional organizations ... take all necessary measures ... to protect the civilian population and their places of residence under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi"7. However, the League's activities have so far been limited to meetings between the Secretary General of the Arab League and the heads of the African Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the European Union and the United Nations.

Article 8, according to which States can "take all necessary measures to ensure compliance with the flight ban"by notifying the LAS Secretary General, is perhaps the most noteworthy8. The use of the term "all necessary measures" opened the door to the use of force. At the same time, the use of force was limited to observing the no-fly zone and did not extend to attempts, for example, to kill Muammar Gaddafi, or to support one of the parties to an armed conflict, although in itself forcing the Libyan government to abandon the use of its air force certainly played into the hands of the opposition forces.

Article 8 is also interesting because it authorized the use of force in accordance with Chapter 6 of the UN Charter, although, according to international legal practice, first of all it is necessary to take measures not related to the use of armed forces, provided for in Article 41 of the UN Charter.

From what has been said above, it is clear that, in general, the resolution, if not built around the Arab League, then at least assigned this organization one of the most important roles. However, the confusion that is still taking place on Libyan territory is yet another proof that the League has not taken advantage of the resources available to it, leaving the situation in Libya to the hands of NATO member countries.

The last document adopted by the Arab League Council on the Libyan issue was resolution 7370 of 27 August 2011. Its paragraph 2 reads: "[the Arab League] approves the right of the Transitional National Council to take the place of Libya in the Arab League Council and all its organs and committees as a representative of the Libyan people."9. Thus, the NTC of Libya was officially recognized by the League as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. However, violence on both sides was still ongoing at that time, but no sanctions were imposed due to the use of force against the Libyan population by the Arab League against the new Libyan leadership, which is responsible for the lives of its citizens.

The Arab League seems to have not just allowed, but initiated, the incitement of another conflict in the Arab world, along with those already existing in Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen and Syria.


At the end of August 2011 The Arab League Council held its first meeting devoted to developments in Syria, which was the result of the focused efforts of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which coordinated their actions with other States of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Persian Gulf (GCC). It is noteworthy that the anti-government protests in Syria and the subsequent civilian casualties began in February 2011, but the reaction from the League followed only six months later. The resolution adopted at the Arab League Council meeting on August 28, 2011 was formulated in terms of the Saudi monarch's appeal: "stopping bloodshed", "appeal to wisdom", "the right of the Syrian people".

* The Interim Government Authority in Libya, established on 27 February 2011 and continued until 9 August 2012.

page 34

the people's right to a decent life, their aspiration for dignity and greatness " 10.

Immediately after the assassination of Muammar Gaddafi on October 20, 2011, the Libyan issue left the agenda of the Arab League, and it was replaced by the consideration of the situation in Syria,which still runs through all the meetings of the Arab League Council. Already on November 12, 2011, the League decided to suspend Syria's membership in the Arab League Council meetings. At an emergency meeting of the Council, 17 out of 22 Member States voted in favor of this decision, adopting resolution 7438, paragraph 1 of which referred to "the suspension of the Syrian Arab Republic's membership in the meetings of the LAS Council, all its committees and subsidiary bodies, starting from November 16, 2011, and until its full implementation - the Arab settlement plan the Syrian crisis, adopted by the Council on 12 November 2011 " 11. Syria, Lebanon and Yemen were opposed, Algeria and Iraq abstained.

The correctness of this decision by the Council, from a legal point of view, remains questionable. Thus, Article 18 of the LAS Charter states: "The Council of the League may expel any member who has not fulfilled its obligations under this Charter. The decision to expel must be made unanimously, not counting the member State of the League to which it belongs."12 However, on the other hand, Syria was not de jure excluded from the Arab League, and its membership was only suspended. Such sanctions are not spelled out in the LAS Charter, nor is the procedure for making such decisions spelled out.

Further actions of the League in relation to Damascus were determined by increasing pressure from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and their allies. October 16, 2011 The Arab League Council adopted resolution 7435, which established the establishment of an Arab Committee chaired by Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani to resolve the Syrian crisis.

Paragraph 2 of resolution 7435 established "the establishment of an Arab Ministerial Committee, chaired by His Excellency the Prime Minister of the Emirate of Qatar, consisting of the Foreign Ministers of the following States - the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, the Republic of the Sudan, the Sultanate of Oman, the Arab Republic of Egypt-as well as the Secretary-General of the Arab League, who will be responsible for with the aim of ending all acts of violence and fighting, as well as starting a dialogue between the Syrian Government and opposition parties, in order to implement political reforms that meet the aspirations of the Syrian people."13

During the work of the Arab Committee, a six-point action plan for resolving the Syrian crisis was developed, which formed the basis for resolution 7441, adopted at the LAS Council meeting on November 24, 2011. It was intended, first of all, to get the Syrian government to sign the Protocol on the Status of the Arab League Observer Mission, which was decided at the LAS Council meeting on November 16, 2011.14 The observer delegation was to immediately leave for Syria immediately after Bashar al-Assad signed the Protocol on its Status. At the same time, it was planned to hold a conference with the participation of representatives of the Syrian opposition, at which a decision was to be made on the creation of a national unity government operating during the transition period. Finally, paragraph 4 of resolution 7441 stated that it was necessary to consider the introduction of economic sanctions against Syria.

Meeting at a regular meeting on November 27, 2011, the Arab League Council decided to impose sanctions against Syria. Resolution 7442 contained 10 points that established the economic blockade regime:

- banning Syrian officials from visiting Arab countries and freezing their assets;

- Suspension of operations with the Central Bank of Syria;

- suspension of state and commercial exchanges with the Syrian government;

- freezing the financial assets of the Syrian government;

control by the central banks of Arab countries over money and trade transfers to Syria, with the exception of transfers of Syrian migrant workers in Arab countries to their families in Syria;

- freezing of funding for any projects on the territory of Syria by Arab countries;

- appeal to the technical committee to work out a plan to reduce flights to Syria from Arab countries until they are completely stopped.

These sanctions have seriously affected the economic situation in Syria, undermining the country's economy, but so far they have not been able to lead to a political solution to the Syrian crisis. Most of the victims of resolution 7441 are Syrian citizens who have not received a salary for months, lost their jobs and were forced to emigrate abroad.

Conferences of the Syrian opposition, the first round of which was held in Cairo under the auspices of the Arab League in January 2012, were also unsuccessful. Various opposition parties failed to reach a consensus on the composition and leadership of the Government of National Unity. Similarly, the second round of negotiations ended in the fall of 2012.

The differences that separate them relate primarily to three main issues.

First, the Syrian National Council* It does not object to possible foreign intervention, as well as the introduction of a no-fly zone over Syria, similar to the one that was established in the skies over Libya by the UN Security Council in March 2011. The Coordinating Council for Democratic Change, for its part, rejects any form of external interference in Syria's internal affairs. According to the leadership of this body, only peaceful protests can overthrow the current regime.

Secondly, the parties share the same attitude towards the so-called "Free Syrian Army". At the same time, the opposition abroad sees it as its main leader.

* Coordination Body of the Syrian Non-Systemic Opposition, headquartered in Istanbul, established on 4 October 2011.

** An alliance of Syrian political parties and independent politicians, created during the Arab Spring and based in Damascus. It is the coordinating body of the intra-Syrian opposition.

page 35

As a partner in building a new statehood, the internal opposition is in no hurry to recognize it in this role, fearing the subsequent usurpation of power by this organization.

Finally, emigrants and local revolutionaries have different views on the creation of a single body representing the entire opposition both inside Syria and abroad. The Syrian diaspora does not support the idea of an organizational unification of all opposition forces, allowing only coordination of their actions with internal opponents of the regime. 15

On December 26, 2011, after the signing of the Syrian-Arab protocol on the admission of Arab League observers to the country16, about 50 Arab League observers were sent to Syria, headed by Sudanese General Mohammed al-Dabi. Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallim, at a press conference held on January 24, 2012, noted that after the arrival of the Arab League mission in Syria, the number of casualties among military personnel and law enforcement officers increased significantly, as terrorist activity increased. The Syrian Foreign Minister also noted that the League's role ended when the discussion of the Syrian problem was moved to the UN Security Council in early 2012. 17

Anwar Malik, an Algerian observer for the Arab League, resigned on January 11, 2012, explaining that war crimes continue to be committed in Syria, as well as deception of his fellow observers. He also charged the Syrian government with bringing the country to a state of humanitarian catastrophe, punishing deserters, killing children, etc. 18

It is worth noting that these accusations were later rejected during the discussion of the results of the observer mission at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo. Despite numerous statements about the contradictory situation in Syria, the use of weapons in an attempt to stop demonstrations, inappropriate treatment of political prisoners, etc., the results of the Arab League observers ' stay in Syria were positive.

In early January 2012, Mohammed al-Dabi stated that government violations had been recorded, but that their scale was not as great as Al-Jazeera or Al-Arabiya reports indicated. 19 Official representatives of the diplomatic services of some Arab countries expressed their solidarity with the statement of the head of the Arab League observer mission in Syria. Thus, they noted that the Syrian regime has shown readiness to comply with the demands of the Arab League for several months regarding the withdrawal of military equipment and army units from cities and the release of several thousand political prisoners.

However, the steps taken by the Arab League to resolve the Syrian issue, according to some experts, have essentially led to a dead end. The Arab League granted the Syrian National Coalition of Opposition and Revolutionary Forces (NCORC) a seat for Damascus at the organization's 24th summit in Doha in March 2013. The summit called for recognizing the NCORC as the" sole legitimate representative " of the Syrian people, as well as providing weapons to the opposition.20 Does this mean that the League has finally lost its way in the search for a solution to the political crisis in the country?

* * *

The events that have taken place so far in Bahrain and Yemen have fallen outside the scope of the Arab League, even though they were as big as the events in Syria in terms of scope and casualties. Only at the dawn of the Arab Spring, on March 22, 2011, under the leadership of Amr Moussa, the Arab League Council adopted Resolution 140 on the situation in the Republic of Yemen, 21 calling on the Government of that country not to use violence against its own citizens. All the fundamental decisions regarding Bahrain and Yemen were made within the walls of another international organization - the GCC. It was at its meetings that the decision on the deployment of the joint Peninsula Shield force in Bahrain22 and the plan for resolving the conflict in Yemen were adopted.23

So far, there has been no reaction from the Arab League to Egypt, which has been plunged into a prolonged political crisis since the January 25 revolution, constantly turning violent and claiming more than a thousand lives.

1 Egypt says fear of Tunisia-style revolt "nonsense" // Daily Egypt. 18 January 2011.

2 См.: Doebbler C. Attacking Libya and International law // Al-Ahram weekly. 2011. N 1040, March 24 - 30, p. 11.

3 In accordance with Article 18 of the LAS Charter, the expulsion of a Member State from the League requires a unanimous decision of the LAS Council.

4 LAS Council Resolution 136 - (in Arabic).

5 LAS Council resolution 7360 - (in Arabic).

6 United Nations Security Council resolution S/RES / 1973 -

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid.

9 LAS Council resolution 7370 - (in Arabic).

10 Al-bayan al-sadir an ijtimaa Majlis Jamiat al-dawwal al-Arabiya ala al-mustawa al-vizari fi dawratihi geir al-adiya bi shaan al-audaa fi Suriya (Statement of the extraordinary session of the Ministerial Council of the League of Arab States on the situation in Syria) - (in Arabic.).

11 LAS Council resolution 7438 - (in Arabic).

12 Charter of the Arab League -

13 LAS Council resolution 7435. 16.10.2011 (in Arabic).

14 See: LAS Council Resolution 7439. 16.11.2011 - (in Arabic).

15 See: Isaev L. M. The Syrian impasse: Has the Arab Spring ended? // Inviolable reserve. 2012, N 2; Isaev L. M., Shishkina A. R. Syria and Yemen: neokonchennye revolyutsii. 2012.

16 See: LAS Resolution 161. 20.12.2011 (in Arabic).

Oudat B. 17 Monitors in the limelight // Al-Ahram weekly. 2011. N 1079, 5 - 11 January, p. 10.

18 Ibidem.

19 Ibid.

20 See: Compilation of LAS Council resolutions 578, 580 - 9ea79dl51c73 / pdf?MOD-AJPERES (in Arabic).

21 See: LAS Resolution 140 of 22.03.2011 (in Arabic).

22 See: Al-Bahrain tualin istianatiha bi kuwwat Dara al-Jazeera lil hifaz ala amn wa al-istiqrar (Bahrain announced the deployment of the Peninsula Shield force to maintain security and stability) - (in Arabic).

23 Official text of the GCC Action Plan in Yemen // Almotamar. 24 November 2011 (in Arabic).


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