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The Arab League

Regional Organization of Islamic and Arabic-Speaking Countries

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Cairo, Capital of the Arab League

Cars drive on a bridge crossing the Nile River in Central Cairo, Egypt. Cairo is still the heart of Egypt and is allegorically called "the Mother of World." Cairo serves as the capital city of the Arab League.

Getty Images Europe
Updated February 01, 2011
The Arab League is a regional organization that was founded in 1945 to protect the sovereignty of some Middle Eastern countries. Today, twenty-two countries in Western Asia and Northern Africa are members of the Arab League. The Arab League's member states are primarily speakers of Arabic and followers of Islam. The headquarters of the Arab League are in Cairo, Egypt. Members of the Arab League work diplomatically with each other to try to improve collective security and prosperity.

Geography of the Arab League Region

The twenty-two member states of the Arab League are located across western Asia, and northern, western, and eastern Africa. From Mauritania in the west to Oman in the east, the immense area totals approximately 14 million square kilometers (5.4 million square miles). The Arab League member island state of Comoros is located in the Indian Ocean. Member nations border the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the Persian Gulf, and the Arabian, Mediterranean, and Red Seas. Due to several deserts located in the area, such as the Sahara and Arabian, the climate is largely arid. Additional important geographic features include the Atlas Mountains and Nile River. People live in both urban and rural areas.

Establishment of the Arab League

The League of Arab States, or Arab League, was founded in Alexandria, Egypt in 1945 by seven members to collectively fight European colonialism and ensure the sovereignty of member states. Fourteen additional states (including "Palestine"), were admitted in the following decades.

Relations with Palestine and Israel

One of the twenty-two members of the Arab League is Palestine, not currently an internationally recognized independent state. The Arab League has supported the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Arab League members were very opposed to the creation of Israel, the Jewish state. In 1948, several Arab League members attacked Israel, although Israel won this Arab-Israeli War. After the 1967 Six Day War, the Arab League decided to boycott Israel and not recognize Israel as an independent state. In 1979, the headquarters of the Arab League was moved from Cairo, Egypt, to Tunis, Tunisia, because Egypt was suspended from the organization when it initiated peace with Israel. Egypt's "betrayal" of Arab League values angered some of the member states, although sanctions were lifted and the headquarters returned to Cairo in 1989. Several Arab League states are trying to resume normal relations with Israel. The Arab League has agreed to recognize Israel if Israel completes some tasks such as withdrawing from all Arab land occupied after 1967. Israel has strong reservations about this peace initiative.

Politics and Economics of the Arab League

Although some Arab League nations are much richer than others, all member states strive to improve the general welfare of the entire region. This goal is greatly enhanced by the revenue raised by exporting plentiful natural resources like oil and natural gas. Economic unity is crucial to successfully competing in a global economy. Trade within the region and around the world is encouraged. Tariffs and customs taxes are being reduced or eliminated. All members are expected to pay their dues to fund the administration of the Arab League.

Individual political systems also vary widely. Some nations are republics, some are monarchies, and some have unique government types. Joint defense and security is a crucial topic for the Arab League. The League tries to solve disputes between member states diplomatically. Because the Arab League and Islam condemn acts of terrorism and violence, the Arab League works to ensure that terrorist organizations do not get funding and training. The Arab League has condemned the United States' war with Iraq.

Arab League Projects

The Arab League's member states have histories and cultures dating back thousands of years, and the Arab League now attempts to solve some of the region's current political, economic, and social problems. Led by a council composed of representatives from all member states, the Arab League works to improve health and welfare by funding and overseeing development projects such as the construction of natural gas pipelines. Education and technological advancement is crucial to these endeavors. The Arab League monitors labor, crime, agriculture, and industry. The Arab League strives for human rights for all. It has sent peacekeeping missions to places like Lebanon during its civil war and Darfur, Sudan.

Foreign Relations of the Arab League

The Arab League strives to have diplomatic relations with geopolitically strategic countries and organizations around the world, such as the United States, Russia, China, Pakistan Iran, the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations .

Eritrea, India, Brazil, and Venezuela have been named "Observers of the Arab League." The opinions of these four countries on the affairs of the Arab League are specially considered.

Arab League Future

Founded in a region that was home to very successful civilizations thousands of years ago, the Arab League now tries to make the future of the region even more successful. Through political and economic integration of twenty-two countries, the Arab League works to avoid conflict and collectively become more competitive in a global economy.
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