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Arab League summit celebrates 70th birthday with possible absentees

March 28, 2015 - EGYPT

The 22-member Arab League meets at head-of-state level at Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikhin to celebrate its 70th birthday and wrestle with security issues.

The leaders will also debate ways to support the Palestinian bid for statehood. On other matters consensus will be elusive, and the summit could see boycotts: some League countries condemn Egypt for ousting Muhammad Morsi from the presidency in 2013.

The apparent coup in Yemen, the continuing crises in Syria and Lebanon and the modernization of the pan-Arab organization will also top the agenda.

Al Jazeera notes that the Arabs are as divided as ever. They differ over whether Egypt's military rulers should be praised for ejecting Morsi, a Muslim Brother, from the presidency. Some back the regime of Bashar Assad and others back the opposition, including factions within it. The Economist observes that the league's members agree on the need to defeat terrorism, but disagree on who is a terrorist. For Saudi Arabia, the Muslim Brotherhood fits the bill.

The Arab League was founded in Cairo on March 22, 1945, with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan (renamed Jordan in 1949), Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Yemen joined as a member on 5 May 1945. Currently, the League has 22 members, although Syria's participation has been suspended since November 2011 as a consequence of the government's role in the country's ongoing civil war.

Arab League

Arab League to push UN on Palestinian state (Aljazeera 29 Nov 2014)

An unfraternal lot (Economist 26 Mar 2014)

Date written/update: 2015-02-26