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March 16, 2011 / Anna Louie Sussman

The Arab League: Why?

That was the title of a story idea I had conceived of at least a year ago, but which became, in published form, a slightly different question: “Will the Arab League Finally Lead?”  Find out the answer in today’s story in the Atlantic.


Copyright Mary Gould

The idea first struck me when I was living in Cairo, and used to walk past the Arab League building on my way to and from Arabic classes at the American University of Beirut.  It’s a big, white building, rather majestic for something built in the 1960s, and home to the most relentless inactivity imaginable, or pomp and impotence, as I like to call it.  It make the UN looks like a hotbed of political activism.  In Damascus, also, I often passed a gorgeous white building around the corner from the Four Seasons hotel, designated for the Arab League.

And I had to ask myself – what the s**t are those guys (and they are all guys — one person I interviewed called it an “all-male preserve”) doing to justify all this prime real estate?  Off the top of my head, I couldn’t think of anything.  My friend Mitch, who has covered the region for years, always says that the last thing you want to hear under any circumstances is “Don’t worry, the Arab League is on it.”  That more or less means “you might as well disembowel yourself and tip yourself off a high building, since nothing positive could possibly come out of that scenario.”

Then all this much ado about Libya commenced, and I had to wonder…is the Arab League going in a new direction?  Click to find out:


Nice digs, guys.


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