July 8, 2011

Will there ever be an Arab Union?

POLITICS - The concept of an Arab Union stretching somewhere between Morocco and Pakistan has been around for years, but it has yet to be largely because many of the countries in the region have cultural and religious disagreements that have nothing to do with politics or economics.

The European Union for example is a largely economic alliance, under one currency (the Euro), which gives them a strong advantage over other markets with weaker / less stable currencies. Creating an Arab Union using a common currency (ie. the Dinar) sounds like a smart idea, but it becomes a monumental task of trying to get these countries to agree on anything long enough to make such an economic alliance.

There are several large problems...

#1. Dictatorships... far too many Arab countries, ie. Iran is still under a dictatorial government. In 2010 and 2011 there have been a number of uprisings in Egypt and Libya, but there is still so many countries in the Middle East which lack a secular democratic government.

#2. Religion... different interpretations of Islam and the differences between liberal, moderate and extreme Islam. Some of these countries believe strongly in having a Muslim state government and adopting Sharia laws (ancient Arab laws that endorse things like chopping off the hands of thieves, stoning women to death, etc).

#3. Possible War. ie. Israel Vs. Iran. Some countries have peace treaties with Israel, but others have open animosity.

#4. War zones. ie. Iraq, Turkey, Libya, etc.

#5. Palestine. The country is more like a prison surrounded by Israeli troops. Any prospect of an Arab Union will probably want to include Palestine.

But also a number of bonus factors which may make it easier...

#1. OPEC. This is already an economic alliance between many of the oil producing Arab countries and thus serves as a platform on which an Arab Union could be formed. Indeed it might be touted as OPEC II or the OPEC Union. See the History of Oil Prices.

#2. Languages. While most Arab countries do have their own languages and dialects, this was nothing in terms of preventing Britain, Greece and Finland from joining the European Union. If anything there should be enough similarities between the North African and Middle Eastern languages to help further the idea of such an union.

#3. A Common Thirst for Prosperity. Who doesn't want peace and economic growth?

Conclusions: We need peace in the Middle East before people can attempt an Arab Union or anything similar to that.

But if 2 or 3 countries kick started the union it would create an economic avalanche that spreads from one country to the next as each sees the economic benefits.

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