Friday, June 18, 2010

Hezbollah, Lebanese Defensive Strategy and the Arab League



“Pacta sunt servanda” is the major principle behind all international treaties and accords be they unilateral or multilateral. The fact that “Pacts must be respected” should not come as a surprise since a treaty between sovereign states is essentially similar to a contract between two parties. And we all know that contracts are binding otherwise why enter into them? In the business world as well as personal one hardly anything is done without a contract whether it be explicit or implicit. Honoring a contract forms the solid foundations upon which personal and business relationships are based. Individuals borrow from banks for all sorts of purposes by agreeing to certain contractual conditions, we buy cars and appliances and expect them to perform to certain standards specified in the contract embodied in the bill of sale. The same is true for corporations and businesses of all types and sizes. They rent or lease their premises by signing contracts, they honor the patents obtained by other firms and protect their own patents with contracts and they negotiate with labour unions the terms of employment by also signing contracts. Obviously the same is true for governments. They finance their deficits to the tune of trillions of dollars only because we have trust in their ability to deliver on their contractual obligations. And when nations form customs unions, free trade areas, monetary associations and mutual defense treaties they do so with the full belief that the counter party will honour its obligations.

The fact that contracts and international treaties are sacrosanct does not mean that they are always honored or that countries can depend on the execution of the provisions specified in the treaty in question. Unfortunately, in the same way that individuals do not always perform as per the contract s they enter into neither do countries. There is a major difference though between an individual who violates a contract and a state or group of states that fail to live up to their promises. Individuals can be forced to make the other party whole while states can literally speaking get away with murder and they do.

Lebanon has been preoccupied with finding an acceptable solution to its dire need for a defensive strategy since the security concerns in its neighbourhood are grave. It is not the intention of this post to analyze or deal with the specifics of the current Lebanese deadlocked domestic search for a solution to its security problem. What I would like to highlight, however, is a massive contractual failure on the part of the Arab League to honor its sacred obligations toward each and every single member.

Lebanon was one of the countries that helped establish the Arab League in 1945. The Arab League that still masquerades as if it is an effective organization of 21 states has let down many of its members and in this case Lebanon in particular. Hezbollah arose as a result of the Israeli aggression on Lebanon during 1982. What happened then and several times after that, not to speak about the daily Israeli violations of Lebanese air space should have triggered automatically a coordinated response by the Arab League to counter the Israeli offensives. It is not being suggested that the Arab League should come to the aid of a member state out of sympathy or as an act of magnanimity. The Arab League had entered into a contractual obligation as of sixty years ago called “Treaty of Joint Defense and Economic Cooperation between the states of the Arab League on June 17, 1950.

The above treaty was signed at the time by Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen and Lebanon. Article 2 of the provisions of the treaty states:

Article 2
The Contracting States consider any [act of] armed aggression made against any one or more of them or their armed forces, to be directed against them all. Therefore, in accordance with the right of self-defense, individually and collectively, they undertake to go without delay to the aid of the State or States against which such an act of aggression is made, and immediately to take, individually and collectively, all steps available, including the use of armed force, to repel the aggression and restore security and peace. In conformity with Article 6 of the Arab League Pact and Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, the Arab League Council and U. N. Security Council shall be notified of such act of aggression and the means and procedure taken to check it.


The said treaty goes on to speak in greater details about the steps that need to be adopted in order to implement this mutual defense strategy. Alas, the Arab League has been a total failure and has not even made any pretence to fulfill its legal and moral obligations under a treaty signed by all its members at the time. Had the Arab League lived up to its duties then Israel would not have acted with abandon as it did neither would Lebanon be in the unbearable situation it finds itself in. The rise of Hezbollah and the spread of Iranian influence to Lebanon would not be nearly the problem that they are had the Arab League, the embodiment of political pan Arabism, not been the total failure that it is. Contracts that are not honored are ultimately dissolved; it is time to put the Arab League to rest.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ghassan,
you are right on when you say that the Arab League is a failure.
Its only purpose seems to be an occasional summit to exhibit its weird actors, sorry i mean heads of state.

ghassan karam said...

Anon,
One will be hard pressed to find a stranger collection of actors:-) How can anyone replace the head clown Qaddafi?

 

Free Blog Counter