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Arab unity is vital to resolve Libyan crisis

Mustafa Al Zarooni
Filed on June 26, 2020

(Reuters file photo)

Time and again countries in the Arab land have suffered at the hands of powers that have sought control over this region. 

In the 1960s and 70s, it was the Soviet Union that recruited, trained, and armed many left-wing Arabs, and invaded Afghanistan in 1979. The Soviet Union also established its military presence in some countries and extended its presence in Africa. 

Their increased presence in the Middle East called for the intervention of the West, and with the support of the Gulf countries, Russia was eventually forced to withdraw from Afghanistan after a decade. 

Unlike the Gulf countries that have thrived and are looked upon for the growth and development achieved, the larger Arab world has been left behind. Countries here have been marred by the influence of international and regional powers that wish to implement their agendas in the region. Iran has been the biggest source of instability here. The regime in Tehran operates through covert means and meddles in domestic affairs of others. Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Iraq are just a few examples. Not long ago, Turkey joined this league too and has been encroaching upon the sovereignty of countries that are struggling with instability. 

At the time of Arab Spring, Turkey deployed its bases around the Arab Peninsula and established a footing in Iraq and Syria under the pretext of deterring the Kurds from separation. Over the years, Turkey has also made way in Somalia. It tried meddling in Egypt but was unsuccessful with the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt has a strong army and it could defend itself and preserve its national security, which is difficult for many other nations in the region. Turkey's plans were dashed in Sudan too after Omar Al Bashir was overthrown. Recep Tayyip Erdogan's regime is now eyeing Libya, where it is being deterred by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 

The Gulf countries understand that they can no longer rely on the West to resolve regional conflicts. Absence of the US in Syria has allowed the civil war to go on for a decade. It has empowered Russia and allowed it to exert its influence on the region again. 

The Arab world cannot rely on the US, which is following its policy of disengagement from the region. Even the United Nations has failed in its endevour to bring peace in Libya. The UN special envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame tried for two and a half years to unite Libyans, prevent foreign interventions, but eventually in March he resigned from his position citing health issues. 

Meanwhile, Turkey had deployed troops in Libya in January to help the Government of National Accord government. It is doing all it can to exert its influence in the oil-rich country. 

The European Union has failed to take a collective stand, and the US can no longer be relied upon to resolve conflicts in the region. It is up to the Arab bloc to emerge as one and speak in one voice to be able to resolve the conflicts. 

The Arab League meeting on June 23 was successful. It was presided by Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdallah, Oman's Minister responsible for Foreign Affairs, and showed that perhaps the region is learning from its mistakes. 

Alawi underscored the bonds of brotherhood that hold the Arab countries together and expressed hope for reaching a consensus on various critical issues pertaining to the region. 

The unity among 22 members of the Arab bloc is compromised by a few countries such as Qatar, Somalia and Tunisia, who have given up on the land they belong to and colluded with countries such as Turkey and Iran to stoke instability. 

Their ideological differences and apathy towards Arab unity and larger common good has not brought any good to the region. -malzarooni@khaleejtimes.com

 


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