Nations ‘not paying their dues to Arab League’

Nations ‘not paying their dues to Arab League’
Ahmed Aboul Gheit, secretary-general of the Arab League, addresses the Arab Media Forum. (Photo courtesy: Dubai Press Club)
Updated 02 May 2017

Nations ‘not paying their dues to Arab League’

Nations ‘not paying their dues to Arab League’

DUBAI: Some governments in the Middle East are failing to pay their dues to the Arab League, the Cairo-based organization that is sometimes dubbed the “Arab United Nations,” it has been claimed.
Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the League’s secretary-general, made the accusation at the Arab Media Forum in Dubai. He said that so far in 2017, he had received only 23 percent of the total funding requirement for the League. Last year, he said, only 44 percent of the budget was covered by payments from the 22 member countries.
“We can do great things if we cooperate, but that is not happening with the finances. The total gross domestic product of the countries in the League is $2.3 trillion, we need only $120 million. Go and do the maths,” he said in what amounted to a plea for member countries to pay up.
An aide to Gheit, a former Egyptian foreign minister, explained on the sidelines of the forum that the $120 million budget for the Arab Co-operation Framework included $60 million for the League and $60 million for other specialist Arab agencies in education, media and other facilities.
The aide would not identify which countries were in arrears on League payments, which he said was not public information, but he said the problem had been getting worse as regional economies had been affected by the lower oil price. “Some countries have not paid for the last three years,” the aide said.
Gheit said: “We (Arab countries) have massive resources. There are 20-25 million barrels of oil a day coming from our countries. If we gather our resources and protect them, we can prosper. We can do great things if we cooperate.”
The League has recently attracted criticism for what is perceived as a failure to resolve the big issues facing the Arab world. It was founded in 1945 as a way of combating Western imperialism in the Middle East, and for some time was seen as an embryonic federation of Arab states.
The secretary-general said: “Iran is trying to destroy the Arab world, and boasts it (is) in control of decision-making in four Arab capitals. Israel is very happy with the security situation in the region because it can do what it likes in Palestine. Turkey has forces inside Iraq, which reminds us of the historical experience of the Ottoman Empire.
“But am I desperate? Not at all. There will be no alteration to the Arab League, no turning it into something else, no abandoning it. We are Arabs, and we all have things in common, like our language. In the EU I met 28 ministers and there were 11 languages spoken,” he added.
“The Arab League has massive potential, and I am trying to keep the Arab nations intact. If not, there will be division, war and death for a century to come, and we must never allow that to happen,” Gheit said.