Qatar Takes Over Arab League
By: Talal Salman
April 18, 2013
Nothing justifies the fact that the Arab League has turned into an affiliate office of the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or a department for the ratification of the imperial dreams of the emir of Qatar, who boasts that he offered the land of his peninsula to the largest US military base, and hosted a representative office of the Israeli enemy state.It is no longer possible to overlook the serious illness that has affected the relationship between the poor Arabs, who make up the vast majority of the region, and the rich Arabs, who are a minority in numbers — albeit with broader influence.
The danger of this split is that it divides the [Arab] nation between a controlling minority that goes beyond its eligibility for leadership, and a majority whose needs prevent it from declaring a position. Thus, this majority protests in silence and abstains from taking a decision for fear of the price it would pay should it object, as well as for fear of a confrontation it cannot afford.
The recent Arab summit in Doha provided a dangerous example of how a very small state is calling the shots for the entire Arab world.
During the summit, Qatar enthusiastically took the leadership position, exerting control over the decision-making process and taking advantage of the absence of certain countries. These latter countries — given their composition and history — would have been eligible for a leadership role, yet some of them are preoccupied with crises and revolutions, and have failed to formulate new regimes. Other countries were absent amid fears of a coming revolution, which prevented them from occupying a decision-making post.
What happened at the recent summit in Doha is but a crowning ceremony to a previously developed plan. The summit was concluded with souvenir pictures of the plan’s inauguration.
The Qatari administration had [previously] prepared the decisions and the "appropriate atmosphere," whereby no objection or opposition could be heard. Only a minority of countries — hardly two or three — showed some reservation, yet they did not object, in order to preserve the illusion of consensus and Sunni bonuses.
Qatar has become a "superpower." Its ruler no longer receives the presidents, or even the kings whom he has invited to his summit. He was not present at the airport upon the arrival of the Egyptian president, nor for that of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, thus placing himself at a higher rank than the president of the largest Arab country, and the prince of the ancient and only "state" in the Arabian Peninsula.
If Egypt’s "poverty" has tempted Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the wealth of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia should have deterred him. What could have possibly empowered him to refrain from receiving the heads of state?
Is it foreign authorization, or the inability of the other Arab parties who have had the ultimate say regarding any decision that carries the seal of the Arab League? Where does this league stand, now that its seals have become public property owned by the wealthy, with which he stamps the decisions that suit his interests and overlooks everything else without fear of accountability?
These facts that have clear indications once again raise a question about the nature of the relationship between the poor Arab countries — the ancient ones that deserve to assume a leadership role — and the rich countries and their kings, princes and elders, some of whom are playing an imperial role without being deterred by anyone.
The expressions that asserted the Arab identity of these countries, parties, political forces and intellectual elites — whose emblem was "Arabism" and pride in belonging to one nation — have begun to gradually disappear from the political rhetoric and from the positions of the concerned countries. This, in turn, increased the chances that these small states would abandon their responsibilities and nationalist identities.
The Gulf emirates have abandoned [the idea of] a unified [Arab] identity and accepted the gilded names of its sheikhs. They have overlooked their past, when their simple people struggled to overcome the circumstances of their harsh lives. However, the "world" has warmly welcomed them while each is independent from the other. They have developed independently, almost completely separately from the "Arabs," which may devolve into an entirely hostile cutting of ties.
Perhaps it is no longer useful to recall the past. But those who worked in the Gulf countries in the 50s, 60s, 70s and even the 90s, recall that the people of the Gulf in general, and its elders — who used to take pride that their fathers and grandfathers endured the harshness of life in an arid desert and treacherous sea — did not abandon and turn against their Arab [identity]. Rather, they were proud of their sense of belonging and keen to assert it by consolidating their ties with their brothers. They maintained that their place among the world's countries would be asserted through their Arabism, rather than through contradistinction or disownment.
For example, the name of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan — the first president of the state that brought together the sundries of the "Oman coast" sheikhdoms in the state of the United Arab Emirates — emerges wherever you wander in the expansive region of the Arab world, from the Levant to the Maghreb. He has built cities, or contributed to the building of cities or vital facilities, in various Arab countries, and supported the war efforts of countries that faced the Israeli enemy. He did so silently, without "displays" and festivals of cheap hypocrisy.
In Egypt as in Syria, in Sudan as in Tunisia, in Morocco as in Yemen — and particularly in Yemen, whose people are proud that the Bani Yas tribe, from which the ancestors of Sheikh Zayed descend, is Yemeni par excellence — construction work, achievements and development projects bear the stamp of "Zayed al-Khayr," without announcement that may affect the dignity of those who received aid.
Sheikh Zayed, through his will and deep Arab affiliation, offered generous support to the war efforts of both Egypt and Syria during the October War in 1973.
The Syrians recall that Sheikh Zayed sent large power generators by aircraft to Syria after Israeli warplanes destroyed power plants in Homs and other areas. He also did not leave the people of Syria, who offered dear sacrifices, to plunge into darkness and await delegations to come to their assistance. Also, the UAE bought a number of modern passenger aircraft for Syria to compensate its civilian aircraft destroyed by Israeli shelling.
In Yemen, there is the Marib Dam, which was rebuilt in its historical location thanks to the generous aid provided by the "Noble Son of Yemen," Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
In Egypt, some cities were built with funding from the UAE, some bearing the name of Sheikh Zayed. He did not ask for such a privilege, nor did he try to exploit this fraternal aid to confiscate Egypt's ability to make its own decisions. He also did not take advantage of the people of Egypt, or the peoples he helped in times of distress, in the face of Israeli aggression or poverty, or the absence of resources to meet the needs of the Arab peoples in various countries.
Kuwait has also contributed to the implementation of many vital development projects in numerous Arab countries. It has assisted in the construction of schools, universities, hospitals, and several facilities. It also contributed to the war efforts of both Egypt and Syria in the face of the Israeli enemy.
Sheikh Zayed did not ask for a leadership role for himself or his small, rich country. He did not set himself as the guardian of Arabs in peace and war, or authorize himself to act on behalf of the Palestinians in the "negotiations" with the Israeli enemy. He did not willingly recognize the enemy, and open an office to represent Israel in Doha (not far from the meeting site of the Arab League summit, which seems to have made of the capital of great Qatar a substitute for Egypt).
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a country with a massive land area and unimaginable oil revenues, is making sure not to appear "controlling" or "intransigent" in the political roles it is playing. It is trying to market decisions that affect the holy Arab cause, Palestine, or relate to the nationalist issue, by persuasion and argument, even if the excuse was to apologize for the weakness of the Arab position in the face of the Israeli enemy and the countries that support it.
The Arabs have lost their international status due to their divisions, and the control of tyrannical regimes over decision-making in the Arab countries that have a historical role, strategic importance; as well as idle, wasted or oppressed popular capacities.
Uprisings have swept the Arab countries in the Levant and the Maghreb, and have destroyed some empires of tyranny and dictatorship.
Certainly, the Qatar of the two "Hamads" is benefiting from this transitional phase, and from the absence of the original [Arab] leader from the decision-making post. It has confiscated this role.
All these facts do not justify the Arab League’s turning into an affiliate officeof Sheikh Hamad’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or a department whose task is to ratify the imperial dreams of the ruler of this small country, who boasts about having granted the land of his peninsula to the largest US military base in the region and has hosted a representative office of the Israeli enemy state.
We are waiting for Egypt to regain its consciousness and influence, as well as for the other Arab states to regain their natural roles.