Amr Moussa: The threat to the Arab world is ‘immense’

Moussa says region is going through one of its most precarious peri­ods in recent history and that danger facing Arab world is 'immense.'

2016/03/04 Issue: 46 Page: 11

The Arab Weekly
Claude Salhani

Rome - The threat to the Arab world from Islamist extrem­ists is very real, very serious and extremely worri­some, Amr Moussa, former secretary-general of the Arab League, told The Arab Weekly during a conversation on the sidelines of a NATO conference addressing the situation in the Middle East.

Moussa, who led a meeting ses­sion devoted to the deteriorating political and security situation in the Middle East and North Africa, said the region was going through one of its most precarious peri­ods in recent history and that the danger facing the Arab world is “immense”.

The so-called theory of creative anarchy, he said, in reference to recent violence pitting Palestinians against Israelis in the occupied territories and in Israel, was “a destructive thing”.

Much to the detriment of Pales­tinians struggling for independ­ence, the wave of Islamist violence pushed the issue to the sidelines. The rise of al-Qaeda and the crea­tion of the Islamic State (ISIS) have relegated the Israeli-Palestinian question to the back-burner for policymakers.

Moussa acknowledged that the Arab League was on the receiv­ing end of much criticism for its failure to prevent the Arab world from falling into one conflict after another and without being able to enact reforms or to bring about a cessation of hostilities in Syria, Libya or Yemen.

Moussa explained the general disillusion shown towards the Arab League, saying that the peo­ple expected more, but, pointed out that even the UN Security Council, with much more political, financial and military pull than the Arab League, has not fared much better when it comes to solving the Middle East’s complex issues.

Still, Moussa, despite heavy criticism directed at the Cairo-based organisation, said the league has performed its duty. Many Middle East observers disagree with the Egyp­tian diplomat and accuse the Arab League of being ineffective and passé. Moussa ad­mitted that perhaps the time had come to replace the league with something else, with “a new world order”.

Particularly with much of the region in deep turmoil, some feel the organisation should be more proactive. Moussa admitted to the many shortcomings of the league, but he defended the institution by saying that it did have its moments in the limelight, even if those were few.

He counted among the successes of the league its intervention in providing a legal mandate to a number of member countries to join US military efforts to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1990-91, in keeping the question of Palestine alive “and other impor­tant issues”.

The strength of the Arab League as well as its weakness stem from its members, he said. “The mem­bers of the Arab League have different views on different issues and you cannot ex­clude the possibilities of a foreign intervention influencing the position of certain countries,” said Moussa.

The veteran Egyptian diplomat defended the institution he led by saying that much like the United Nations, the Arab League is bogged down by bureaucracy and corrupt officials, though there are many who believe in their work and strive to make the Arab League succeed.

Still, as a political institution, it has failed overall to bring about greater Arab unity and it has not succeeded in stopping the carnage in Syria, Libya or Iraq.

While Moussa praised the organisation he led for ten years, it has failed to introduce binding resolutions and it has not offered solutions to any of the multitude of conflicts plaguing the Arab world.

But the changing face of the Middle East — the current conflicts that are tearing at the region — is placing much stress on the league.

“People expected more from the Arab League,” said Moussa. “The failure of the league is the failure of its members.”

“But,” he concluded, “that is today. You don’t know about tomorrow.”

Claude Salhani is the Opinion section editor of The Arab Weekly.

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