Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit has warned that the organization’s financial crisis has been worsening for the past years, saying some of its activities could come to a stop if member states do not make their contributions.
“The situation of the Arab League is much worse than the UN,” which is also running out of cash, Aboul Gheit told Asharq Al-Awsat in an interview.
The League’s budget is around 60 million dollars, which is not huge compared to the Gross National Product of the Arab world, he said.
“The financial contributions of member states have not surpassed 35 percent” since the start of the year, he told his interviewer.
“Some countries, which should contribute a big share to the budget, have not paid a single dollar,” he said. “While other countries have accumulated dues from past years.”
He did not name them.
The failure of member states to pay what they owe to the organization, would compel it to stop its participation in many international conferences and meetings or even worse it could end several activities at the League’s headquarters in Cairo, Aboul Gheit warned.
“This would be an insult to all of us,” he lamented.
The Arab League chief urged all sides to focus on joint Arab work, saying it’s the only choice given the tremendous challenges that the organization faces in the region.
Regarding Iran, Aboul Gheit warned of Tehran’s interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries directly or through its support to armed groups such as the Houthi insurgents in Yemen.
He said the Houthis’ launch of missiles is a sign that Iran wants to expand the armed conflict in Yemen and undermine any effort to end the country's crisis.
Such missile attacks threaten Saudi Arabia’s stability and are in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions, he said.
Aboul Gheit also warned against the threat to international navigation in the Red Sea’s Bab al-Mandeb Strait.
The Arab League Secretary-General lauded Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in activating joint Arab work and their role in following up the decisions reached at the Dhahran summit last April.
He said Arab national security is among his top priorities.
“I have referred a document to the foreign ministers of member states and I will soon call on permanent members to carry out consultations on the matter,” he said.
“We cannot ignore the issue, which is vital for our future as Arabs,” he stressed.
He called for “honest” dialogue to come up with the needed results on Arab national security.
In the interview, Aboul Gheit also discussed the crises in Libya, Syria and Iraq.
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