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International Relations

Arab League

  • 08 May 2023
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: Arab League, Middle East, Gulf Countries, Oil, Remittance, Syria Crisis.

For Mains: Arab League-Significance of India in Middle East.

Why in News?

Recently, the Arab League has re-admitted Syria into the organization, after a suspension over a decade.

Why has Syria Readmitted to the Arab League?

  • Suspension:
    • Syria was suspended from the Arab League in 2011 after it violently cracked down on anti-government protests.
    • The Arab League accused Syria of not complying with a peace plan that called for a withdrawal of military forces, the release of political prisoners, and the start of a dialogue with opposition groups.
    • Despite attempts at peace negotiations and ceasefire agreements, the violence continued, leading to Syria's suspension.
    • This had economic and diplomatic consequences for Syria.
  • Readmission:
    • The move signifies softness in relations between Syria and other Arab governments and is seen as the start of a gradual process to resolve the crisis in Syria.
      • The Crisis in Syria has resulted in the displacement of roughly half of the pre-war population of 21 million and the deaths of over 300,000 civilians.
    • A committee involving Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq will be established to help Syria achieve these goals.
      • But the decision does not mean a resumption of relationships between Arab states and Syria as it is up to each country to decide this individually.
    • It calls for a resolution of the crisis resulting from Syria's civil war, including the flight of refugees to neighboring countries and drug smuggling across the region.

What is the Arab League?

  • About:
    • Arab League, also called League of Arab States (LAS), is an intergovernmental pan-Arab organisation of all Arab states in the Middle East and North Africa.
    • It was formed in Cairo, Egypt on 22nd March 1945, following the adoption of the Alexandria Protocol in 1944.
  • Members:
    • Currently, there are 22 Arab countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

  • Objective:
    • It aims to strengthen and coordinate the political, cultural, economic, and social programs of its members and to mediate disputes among them or between them and third parties.
      • The signing on 13th April 1950, of an agreement on joint defense and economic cooperation also committed the signatories to coordination of military defense measures.
  • Concerns:
    • The Arab League has been criticized for its inability to effectively address the issues it was created to handle. Many question the relevance of the institution, with its slogan of “one Arab nation with an eternal mission” being seen as outdated.
      • This has led to instances where important events, like the annual leaders' summit, have been postponed or canceled.
    • The League has also been criticized for its lack of effectiveness in enforcing decisions and resolving conflicts among its members. It has been accused of disunity, poor governance, and being more representative of autocratic regimes than of the Arab people.

What is the Significance of the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) for India?

  • Middle East:
    • India has enjoyed centuries of good relations with countries like Iran, while smaller gas-rich nation Qatar is one of India’s closest allies in the region.
    • India shares good relations with most of the countries in the Gulf.
    • The two most important reasons for the relationship are Oil and gas, and trade.
    • Two additional reasons are the huge number of Indians who work in the Gulf countries, and the Remittance they send back home.
  • North Africa:
    • North African nations like Morocco and Algeria are important as they serve as gateways to other parts of Africa, which is relevant for India, given its desire to penetrate Francophone Africa (French Speaking African Nations).
    • North Africa is significant for India because of its potential as a source of clean energy. The region has abundant solar and wind resources, which can be harnessed to generate electricity.
      • India has set ambitious renewable energy targets, and North Africa could provide an opportunity for India to meet its renewable energy goals.
    • North Africa is also strategically located, making it an important region for trade and commerce.
      • The Suez Canal puts North Africa at the crossroads of global trade. With more than 22000 ship transits in 2022, the canal is one of the world's most important maritime routes.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question (PYQ)


Q1. Consider the following pairs: (2018)

Towns sometimes mentioned in news Country
1. Aleppo Syria
2. Kirkuk Yemen
3. Mosul Palestine
4. Mazar-i-sharif Afghanistan

Which of the pairs given above are correctly matched?

(a) 1 and 2
(b) 1 and 4
(c) 2 and 3
(d) 3 and 4

Ans: (b)

Q2. Which one of the following countries of South-West Asia does not open out to the Mediterranean Sea? (2015)

(a) Syria
(b) Jordan
(c) Lebanon
(d) Israel

Ans: (b)

Q3. The area known as ‘Golan Heights’ sometimes appears in the news in the context of the events related to (2015)

(a) Central Asia
(b) Middle East
(c) South-East Asia
(d) Central Africa

Ans: (b)

Q4. Yom Kippur War was fought between which sides/ countries? (2008)

(a) Turkey and Greece
(b) Serbs and Croats
(c) Israel, and Arab countries led by Egypt and Syria
(d) Iran and Iraq

Ans: (c)

Source: ET

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