Algeria seeks Arab League top post rotation

February 17, 2010

Abdelaziz Belkhadem - Echerouk

The rotation of the post of Arab League secretary general among the member countries is “a perfectly sensible” move that should be adopted by the Arab states, a senior Algerian official said.

“The nature of regional and international organizations comprised of several national members is to rotate posts,” Abdelaziz Belkhadem, the personal representative of the Algerian president, said. “This is a matter of logic and common sense. All Arab states should discuss it. If there is a consensus that the Secretary General should be an Egyptian national, so be it. However, if the member states agree on rotating the post among them, then the agreement should be implemented. Either way, we should ensure that logic and law prevail over tradition,” Belkhadem told Algerian daily Echerouk on Tuesday.

Belkhadem’s call was made a few weeks before the Arab League holds its annual summit in Libya on March 30. Belkhadem insists that the issue should be debated then.

In its 65-year history, the Arab League has had six secretaries general, five of whom were from Egypt. Chedli Kelibi, a Tunisian national, was in charge of the League when its headquarters were moved to Tunisia in 1979 following the suspension of Egypt after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat visited Jerusalem and paved the way for signing a peace treaty with Israel. Egypt was readmitted into the Arab League in 1987 and the headquarters were moved back to Cairo. A Lebanese national, Assad Al Asaad, held the post in 1990 for a short interim.

In 2005, Belkhadem, then Algeria’s foreign minister, stressed at the 17th Arab Summit the need to rotate the secretary general post.

According to Belkhadem, the rotation can be based on casting ballots by the states or on clear agreements between the members.

“Rotations happen in the African Union, the Organisation of Islamic Conference, the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and others. There is no reason it should not happen in the Arab League,” he told Echerouk.

Egypt has often had to put up with charges that the Arab league was in fact a department of Egypt’s foreign ministry. The Egyptians have however regularly denied the claims, saying that they were malicious.

The Arab League, founded in 1945, is an association of 22 member states. Even though it has primarily political aims, membership in the league is based on culture rather than geographical location.

The main drive of the League, founded in 1945, is to “draw closer relations between member States and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries.”

However, it has so far failed to achieve a significant degree of regional integration and has no direct relations with the citizens of its member states.


Side bar: Arab League secretaries general:


Abdul Rahman Azzam 1945 to 1952

 Abdul Khalek Hassouna 1952 to 1972

 Mahmoud Riad 1972 to 1979

 Chedli Klibi 1979 to 1990

 Assad Al Assad 1990 to 1991 (interim)

 Ahmad Esmat Abd al Meguid 1991 to 2001

 Amr Moussa 2001 -Present



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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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