Member states of the Arab League
The Arab League has 22 member states as of 2016. The Arab League was founded in Cairo in 1945 by the Kingdom of Egypt, Kingdom of Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Republic, Transjordan (Jordan from 1946) and North Yemen (later becoming Yemen). There was a continual increase in membership during the second half of the 20th century, with additional 15 Arab states and 4 observers being admitted.
Chad is not a member despite Arabic being one of its two official languages, some 12% of Chadians identifying as Arab and around 900,000 are Arabic-speaking. It applied for membership in March 2014.
The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and the Republic of Somaliland are not members of the Arab League as they are recognized by only some Arab League states, while the Western Sahara and Somaliland are recognized by the League as part of Morocco and Somalia, which controls nearly 80% and 10% of the territory.
South Sudan seceded from member state Sudan in July 2011.
Current observer states
Four countries are observer states—a status that entitles them to express their opinion and give advice but denies them voting rights. These are Eritrea, where Arabic is one of the official languages, as well as Brazil and Venezuela, which have large and influential Arab communities. India is another observer to the Arab League.
List of current member states
|Comoros||1993-11-20||Moroni||2,235||773,407||Comorian, Arabic, French|
|State of Palestine||1976-09-09||Jerusalem (proclaimed)
Ramallah (de facto)
|Syrian Opposition b||1945-03-22||Damascus||185,180 (claimed)||22,198,110||Arabic|
|United Arab Emirates||1971-12-06||Abu Dhabi||83,600||4,975,593||Arabic|
|a. Libya's seat is taken by the House of Representatives (Libya) (which is disputed by the Muslim Brotherhood-led General National Congress (2014) and Government of National Accord)
b. Syria's seat currently occupied by the Syrian National Coalition, while Ba'athist Syrian Arab Republic suspended on 16 November 2011
Expansion of the League
|Arab League Enlargements|
- 1942 - The United Kingdom promotes the idea of the Arab League to win its battle against Nazi Germany in the Middle East.
- 1945 — Leaders of seven states in the Middle East sign the Alexandria Protocol, thus establishing the first Organization with a Pan-Arabic ideology in the 20th century. The founding members were Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan (entering under the name of Transjordan), and Yemen (which from 1967 was generally known under the name North Yemen).
- 1953 (first enlargement) — Libya joins the Arab League after two years of independence.
- 19 January 1956 (second enlargement) — Sudan joins the League, two weeks after its independence from the UK and Egypt.
- 1 October 1958 (third enlargement) - Morocco and Tunisia join the League, two years after independence.
- 20 July 1961 (fourth enlargement) - Kuwait joins the League after 31 days of independence, and becomes the first Asian state to join the League after the founding nations.
- 16 August 1962 (fifth enlargement) - Algeria accedes to the League, less than two months after its independence.
- 1967 (sixth enlargement) South Yemen joins the League upon its independence.
- 1971 (seventh enlargement) - The largest enlargement with four Arab members joining the League, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain.
- 26 November 1973 (eighth enlargement) - Mauritania joins the League after thirteen years of independence.
- 14 February 1974 (ninth enlargement)- Somalia joins the League after fourteen years of independence.
- 9 September 1976 (tenth enlargement) - Palestine joins the League.
- 4 September 1977 (eleventh enlargement) - Djibouti joins the Arab League two months before its independence from France that same year.
- 22 May 1990 - North and South Yemen unify
- 1993 (twelfth enlargement) - The Comoros accede to the League.
- January 2003 - Eritrea joins the League as an observer.
- 2003 - Brazil joins the League as an observer for one summit.
- September 2006 - Venezuela joins the League as an observer for one summit.
- April 2007 - India joins the League as an observer state for the summit.
- June 2011 - South Sudan gains independence from Sudan, but does not join the League.
Only three Arabic-speaking countries remain outside of the League: Chad, Eritrea, and Israel. Additionally, there are also two other Arabic-speaking states with limited recognition - Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and Somaliland - but their disputed status, being claimed by League members Morocco and Somalia respectively, makes their membership unlikely for the foreseeable future. Due to a clause in the Charter of the Arab League that accords the right of territories that have splintered off from an Arab League member state to join the organization, the nascent South Sudan has been assured full membership in the Arab League should the country's government choose to seek it. Alternatively, the nation could opt for observer status.
To be considered for membership, Eritrea needs to improve its relations with other neighboring members of the organization, including Djibouti, Sudan and Somalia. Chad's candidacy was endorsed by the Egyptian government under Hosni Mubarak in 2010 Chad applied for membership on March 25 2014.
Israel could qualify for membership, as it uses Arabic as an official language (around 20% of the population is Israeli Arabs, and another 30-40% is believed to have at least a passive knowledge of Judeo-Arabic languages). However, given the Arab League's boycott of Israel over the Arab–Israeli conflict, and the lack of diplomatic relations between Israel and the majority of Arab League member states, Israel is unlikely to join the organisation in the near future.
A representative of the South Sudanese administration indicated that South Sudan would not be joining the League since the government believes that the territory does not meet the pre-conditions necessary for inclusion; specifically, that "the League requires that the countries must be Arabic speaking countries that consider Arabic language the main language of the nation; on top of that, the league also requires that the people of that particular country must believe that they are actually Arabs. The people of Southern Sudan are not of Arabic origin, so I don’t think there will be anybody in Southern Sudan who will consider joining the Arab league". Nevertheless, South Sudan submitted an application for membership on 25 March 2014, which is still pending.
Egypt's membership was suspended in 1979 after it signed the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty and the League's headquarters were moved from Cairo to Tunis. In 1987, Arab League states restored diplomatic relations with Egypt, the country was readmitted to the League in 1989 and the League's headquarters were moved back to Cairo.
Libya was suspended from the Arab League on 22 February 2011. On 27 August 2011, the Arab League voted to restore Libya's membership by accrediting a representative of the National Transitional Council, which was partially recognised as the interim government of the country in the wake of Gaddafi's ouster from the capital of Tripoli.
On 12 November 2011, the League passed a decree that would suspend Ba'athist Syrian Arab Republic's membership in case the government failed to stop violence against civilian protesters by 16 November 2011 amidst the uprising. Despite this, the government did not yield to the League's demands, resulting in its indefinite suspension. The Syrian Opposition was later entitled to take its seat in the League.
- Member states of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf
- Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
- United Arab Command
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