There is a Kenyan proverb which states that “sticks in a bundle are unbreakable”, or the famous Arabic proverb “unity is power”, both carry the same meaning. At times of turmoil and uncertainty, in which the Arab nations are facing, a unification of such nations is the answer.
There already exists a coalition of Arab nations represented in the Arab League; however, some have argued its ineffectiveness at times. Maybe an upgrade is needed where the full geographical and economic advantages in the region are used efficiently. The annihilation of borders and the birth of a unified Arab nation.
The Arab League of States and its Ineffectiveness
The Arab league of states was founded in March 1945 and consists of 22 nations. The region expands “from the Atlantic Ocean near northern Africa east to the Arabian Sea. Its northern boundary is at the Mediterranean Sea, while the southern portion extends to the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean.”
The league is defined as a voluntary association of countries where Arabic is an official language. Its primary purpose “is to promote closer political, economic, cultural, and social relations among the members.”
Its ineffectiveness surfaces when trying to agree on the decisions taken. According to NYU Associate Professor Mohamad Bazzi who described the organization as a “glorified debating society.” The charter states that decisions reached by a majority “shall bind only those [states] that accept them,” which limits the League’s ability to take collective action.
Another example of the League’s ineffectiveness is presented during the Lebanese civil war, Bazzi elaborates, “During the Lebanese civil war, the Arab League had limited success trying to help negotiate a peace, but in the end it was the individual powers, in this case, Syria and Saudi Arabia, that helped end the conflict by convening the Taif Agreement,” according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
So apparently some actions are taken under the umbrella of the Arab League; however, they are only executed only by a small faction, like what occurred in the Lebanese civil war. In other instances, the dysfunction is also obvious when the league couldn’t reach a decision in the 2003 Iraq war.
Already the Arab population shares the same language, geographical proximity, religion, with a Muslim majority, traditions, and customs. So why not start an Arab federation? Arab Governments need not fear such a unification, if the matter is of sovereignty, the federation which will be installed can ensure the rights of every sovereign country involved.
An Arab Federation
A federation may be defined as a “political organization in which the activities of government are divided between regional governments and a central government in such a way that each kind of government has some activities on which it makes final decisions.”
The idea would be to unite the Arab nations as a federation, a central government to govern the whole federation, and regional governments to govern each nation; it can be represented by the current governments and it can be replaced by elections.
Characteristics of a Federation
A federation is characterized by the following important features:
First is a division of powers between the central government and the regional governments; it is an essential condition of a federation so each work within their own unique function.
The second feature is a written constitution, which is essential for a federation. This is where the roles of the central government and regional government are explained and therefore binding to everyone involved.
The third is a federal constitution which has also to be a rigid and to be held at the supreme law of the land, known as rigid & supremacy of the constitution. It can deny any unilateral amendment efforts on part of the central government or regional ones. Only when they work together can they have the power to amend the constitution.
Then comes the special role of the judiciary which protects the supremacy of the constitution. It performs the role of a judge between the central government and the regional ones, if any disputes were to happen.
Fifth is the dual administration; one central administration for the central government for all the people of the federation. The other is regional governments where laws are concerned with their own region.
Also, there is the dual citizenship; in a perfect federation, everyone gets a double citizenship—one common uniform citizenship of the whole federation and the second of the region in which he resides in.
Finally is the equality of all federating states. One of the key essential principles of the federation is to treat all regions of the federation equally, without any consideration for the differences in their size, population and resources
Benefits of a Federation
Diffusing Power –It is essential, to make sure that all power is not centralized into a group of people or a single person, it also is an aid against corruption.
Increasing Citizen Participation –It increases a citizen’s ability to affect their government policy when central government power is shared equally with regional governments and not centralizing all power into the hands of one national government.
More Efficient – You allow efficiency when the central government’s power is dispersed among the regions. It also allows the optimum exploitation of resources. the regional government can pay more attention to its needs, while the central government can concentrate more on international affairs and defense of the country.
So, what prohibits such a union? It may be due to the hesitance of some nations to become regions, they may call it a problem of sovereignty; however, under a federation each region governs its own, the addition would be a central government that will be more concerned with defense and international matters, but for the sake of unity some sacrifices should be made.
It may also be contributed to external factors, it may be thought that a unified Arab nation could disturb the balance of power in the region, or could pose a threat; however, such a union is the only salvation for the west against the plague of terrorism and the flood of illegal immigrants. If a federation were to hold a strong economy, that would very much annihilate terrorism and illegal immigration, simply because with a better economy, the populations would enjoy a better quality of life, and hence a better education, and after that a better understanding of life and religion.
We need to open our eyes, and find the obvious solutions right before us, for the sake of unity and strength, before it is deemed too late.