Inefficient at best

UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan looks on before a meeting at his office at the United Nations Offices in Geneva on July 20, 2012. (AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI)

The latest antics of the Arab League have proved once again that the body is essentially sleepwalking through its duties, jerked awake occasionally by its need to prove it is still alive, before returning to its stupor.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani appealed to President Bashar Assad to accept a “safe exit” in order to leave power, which would mean he would save face and avoid punishment for his crimes.

The regime of course, gave no indication that it would take up such an offer. Assad has vehemently denied he is contemplating such a plan, even when the words come from Syrian ally Russia.

The meeting was the perfect example of the Arab League’s mixture of ineptitude and arrogance, showing once again that the League exists in a completely different galaxy.

It proved that it is not a club that exists for the people it purports to serve, but a place where Arab countries go to air their frustrations and grievances about each other and then call it a day, knowing nothing is going to come out of it.

Not only did the proposed solution amount to nothing, as expected, but the Arab League had come up with a proposal that is stratospheres away from the desires of the Syrian people.

The league is in another world if it believes that the Syrian people, or the rest of the world, will be satisfied to watch Assad leave the country without facing some kind of justice for murdering thousands of his own people.

The organization showcases its conceit by attempting to speak for the Arab people with such a plan. It has no right to redeem Assad for his crimes, and it is offensive to the Syrian people for them to suggest he could escape with such atrocities on his shoulders.

This is the worst example of how the Arab League operates making irresponsible and immature decisions as well as designating itself as a judge for around 20 million people, when the leaders in the League are barely able to institute fair and just systems in their own countries.

It is, to say the least, unethical to treat an issue of such gravity with the superficiality and naivety displayed by the Arab League.

If all the Arab League intends to do is lift its head every once in a while to remind the world that it exists, then it would be better for the Arab people if it did nothing at all.

If it refuses to represent the Syrian people, those who are dying for their cause and care little for the empty words of the Arab League, then it might as well stay silent.

The Arab region needs a stronger, more unified body, one that has clout. But if it is not able to achieve this, then at least let it bury the archaic, bureaucratic, and hopeless institution that is the Arab League.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 24, 2012, on page 7.




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