A graphic timeline of membership.

The Arab League has 22 member states as of 2018. It was founded in Cairo in 1945 with six members: the Kingdom of Egypt, Kingdom of Iraq, Lebanon, Mandate for Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Republic, Transjordan (Jordan from 1949) and North Yemen (later becoming Yemen). There was a continual increase in membership during the second half of the 20th century. Five countries have observer status.

Chad is not a member despite Arabic being one of its two official languages, some 12% of Chadians identifying as Arab[1] and around 900,000 are Arabic-speaking.[2] It applied for membership in March 2014.

Israel is not a member despite 20% of its population identifying as Palestinian Arab, and though nearly half the Jewish population being descended from Jews from Arab countries and Arabic being an official language.

The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is not a member though it is recognized by some Arab League states.

List of current member states

1.  Algeria 1962-08-16 Algiers 2,381,741 34,586,184 Arabic, Tamazight[citation needed]
2.  Bahrain 1971-09-11 Manama 750 738,004 Arabic
3.  Comoros 1993-11-20 Moroni 2,235 773,407 Arabic, Comorian, French
4.  Djibouti 1977-09-04 Djibouti 23,200 740,528 Arabic, French
5.  Egypt 1945-03-22 Cairo 1,002,450 80,471,869 Arabic
6.  Iraq 1945-03-22 Baghdad 438,317 29,671,605 Arabic, Kurdish
7.  Jordan 1945-03-22 Amman 92,300 6,407,085 Arabic
8.  Kuwait 1961-07-20 Kuwait City 18,717 2,789,132 Arabic
9.  Lebanon 1945-03-22 Beirut 10,452 4,125,247 Arabic
10.  Libya  a 1953-03-28 Tripoli 1,759,541 6,461,454 Arabic
11.  Mauritania 1973-11-26 Nouakchott 1,030,700 4,301,018 Arabic
12.  Morocco 1958-10-01 Rabat 446,550 31,627,428 Arabic, Tamazight
13.  Oman 1971-09-29 Muscat 309,550 2,967,717 Arabic
14.  State of Palestine[4] 1976-09-09[5] Jerusalem (proclaimed)
Ramallah (de facto)
6,040 (claimed) 4,260,636 Arabic
15.  Qatar 1971-09-11 Doha 11,437 840,926 Arabic
16.  Saudi Arabia 1945-03-22 Riyadh 2,149,690 25,731,776 Arabic
17.  Somalia 1974-02-14 Mogadishu 637,661 10,112,453 Arabic, Somali
18.  Sudan 1956-01-19 Khartoum 1,886,068 30,894,000 Arabic, English
19.  Syrian Arab Republic  b 1945-03-22 Damascus 185,180 22,198,110 Arabic
20.  Tunisia 1958-10-01 Tunis 163,610 10,589,025 Arabic
21.  United Arab Emirates 1971-12-06 Abu Dhabi 83,600 4,975,593 Arabic
22.  Yemen  c 1945-05-05 Sana'a
527,968 23,495,361 Arabic
a. Libya's seat is taken by the House of Representatives (Libya) (which is disputed by the Muslim Brotherhood-led General National Congress (2014) and Government of National Accord)

b. Syria's seat currently occupied by the Syrian National Coalition,[6] while Ba'athist Syrian Arab Republic suspended on 16 November 2011[7][8]
c. Yemen's seat is taken by the Cabinet of Yemen (which is disputed by the Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee)

List of current observer states

Five countries are observer states—a status that entitles them to express their opinion and give advice but denies them voting rights.[9] These are Eritrea, where Arabic is one of the official languages, as well as Brazil and Venezuela, which have large and influential Arab communities.[10] India is another observer to the Arab League, with a sizable amount of people claiming Arab descent.[9] Armenia was granted observer status in 2004.[11]

1.  Armenia 2004-00-00 Yerevan 29,743 3,018,854 Armenian
2.  Brazil 2003-00-00 Brasília 8,515,767 207,350,000 Portuguese
3.  Eritrea 2003-01-00 Asmara 117,600 5,869,869 Arabic, Tigrinya, English
4.  India 2007-04-00 New Delhi 3,287,263 1,326,572,000 Hindi, English
5.  Venezuela 2006-09-00 Caracas 916,445 31,775,371 Spanish

Expansion of the League


Arab League Enlargements

1945-founding members: Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, North Yemen

1958 – Third Enlargement: Morocco, Tunisia

1971 – Seventh Enlargement: UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar

1993– Twelfth (Latest) Enlargement: Comoros ---
2011– Shrinkage: Separation of South Sudan

Expansion ambitions

Only three Arabic-speaking countries remain outside of the League: Chad, Eritrea, and Israel. Additionally, there are also two other Arabic-speaking states with limited recognitionSahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and Somaliland – but their disputed status, being claimed by League members Morocco and Somalia respectively, makes their membership unlikely for the foreseeable future. Due to a clause in the Charter of the Arab League that accords the right of territories that have succeeded from an Arab League member state to join the organization,[13] the nascent South Sudan, which declared its independence from member state Sudan in July 2011, has been assured full membership in the Arab League should the country's government choose to seek it.[14] Alternatively, the nation could opt for observer status.[15]

To be considered for membership, Eritrea needs to improve its relations with other neighboring members of the organization, including Djibouti, Sudan and Somalia. Chad's candidacy was endorsed by the Egyptian government under Hosni Mubarak in 2010;[16] Chad applied for membership on 25 March 2014.[17]

Israel could qualify for membership, as it uses Arabic as an official language (around 20% of the population is Israeli Arabs, and another 30–40% is believed to have at least a passive knowledge of Judeo-Arabic languages). However, given the Arab League's boycott of Israel over the Arab–Israeli conflict, and the lack of diplomatic relations between Israel and the majority of Arab League member states, Israel is unlikely to join the organisation in the near future.

A representative of the South Sudanese administration indicated that South Sudan would not be joining the League since the government believes that the territory does not meet the pre-conditions necessary for inclusion; specifically, that "the League requires that the countries must be Arabic speaking countries that consider Arabic language the main language of the nation; on top of that, the league also requires that the people of that particular country must believe that they are actually Arabs. The people of Southern Sudan are not of Arabic origin, so I don't think there will be anybody in Southern Sudan who will consider joining the Arab League".[18] In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, the Foreign Minister of South Sudan Deng Alor Kuol said: South Sudan is the closest African country to the Arab world, and we speak a special kind of Arabic known as Juba Arabic.[19] Sudan supports South Sudan’s request to join the Arab League.[20] South Sudan submitted an application for observer status in March 2018.[21][22]


Egypt - Egypt's membership was suspended in 1979 after it signed the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty and the League's headquarters were moved from Cairo to Tunis. In 1987, Arab League states restored diplomatic relations with Egypt, the country was readmitted to the League in 1989 and the League's headquarters were moved back to Cairo.[23]

Libya - Libya was suspended from the Arab League on 22 February 2011.[24] On 27 August 2011, the Arab League voted to restore Libya's membership by accrediting a representative of the National Transitional Council, which was partially recognised as the interim government of the country in the wake of Gaddafi's ouster from the capital of Tripoli.[25]

Libya's membership was suspended on 22 February 2011, following the start of the Libyan Civil War and the use of military force against civilians.[26] That makes Libya the second country in the League's history to have a frozen membership. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi declared that the League was illegitimate, saying: "The Arab League is finished. There is no such thing as the Arab League".[27][28] On 25 August 2011, Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby announced it was "about time" Libya's full member status was restored. The National Transitional Council, the partially recognised interim government of Libya, sent a representative to be seated at the Arab League meeting on 17 August to participate in a discussion as to whether to readmit Libya to the organisation.[29]

Syria - On 20 September 2011, the Arab Parliament recommended suspension of Syria and Yemen over persistent reports of disproportionate violence against regime opponents and activists during the Arab Spring.[30] On 12 November 2011, the League passed a decree that would suspend Ba'athist Syrian Arab Republic's membership if the government failed to stop violence against civilian protesters by 16 November 2011 amidst the uprising.[31] Syria, Lebanon and Yemen voted against the motion, and Iraq abstained.[32] Despite the opportunity, the Syrian government did not yield to the League's demands, resulting in its indefinite suspension.

There was criticism after the Arab League sent in December 2011 a commission "monitoring" violence on people protesting against the regime. The commission was headed by Mohammad Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, who served as head of Omar al-Bashir's military intelligence, while war crimes, including genocide, were allegedly committed on his watch.[33][34][35]

On 6 March 2013, the Arab League granted to the Syrian National Coalition Syria's seat in the Arab League.[36] On 9 March 2014, the pan-Arab group's secretary general Nabil al-Arabi said that Syria's seat at the Arab League would remain vacant until the opposition completes the formation of its institutions.[37]

See also


  1. ^ "The World Factbook". Cia.gov. Archived from the original on 26 November 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2016. ((cite web)): Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  2. ^ "Chad". Ethnologue. 19 February 1999. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Country Comparison: Population". Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  4. ^ Arab League membership Archived 7 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ The State of Palestine succeeded the seat of the Palestine Liberation Organization following the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence.
  6. ^ "Syrian president slams Arab League for granting seat to opposition". Xinhua News Agency. 6 April 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  7. ^ "Regime backers express anger at other nations after Arab League suspends Syria". cnn.com. CNN. 13 November 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  8. ^ "Presentation of the Arab League". Arableagueonline.org. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  9. ^ a b "India invited as observer for Arab League summit". Press Trust of India. 27 March 2007. Retrieved 13 June 2007.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ David Noack: Syriens Beziehungen zu Lateinamerika, in: amerika21.de, 11.01.2011. (German)
  11. ^ "Armenia invited as observer for Arab League". Azad Hye. 19 January 2005. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  12. ^ "Interview: Egypt's first ambassador to South Sudan says things there are under control". Retrieved 29 August 2011.
  13. ^ South Sudan “entitled to join Arab League” Archived 29 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "South Sudan "entitled to join Arab League"". Sudan Tribune. 12 June 2011. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2011. ((cite news)): Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  15. ^ El-Husseini, Asmaa (7 July 2011). "Hoping for the best". Al-Ahram. Archived from the original on 11 July 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2011. ((cite news)): Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  16. ^ "Egyptian FM welcomes Chad to join AL". People's Daily Online. 11 October 2010. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  17. ^ "South Sudan and Chad apply to join the Arab League". 25 March 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
  18. ^ Southern Sudan Will Not Join The Arab League Of States Archived 9 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Asharq Al-Awsat: Foreign Minister of South Sudan: We Are Considering Joining the Arab League, 7 June 2016, retrieved 3 May 2017
  20. ^ Sudan Tribune: Khartoum supports South Sudan demand to join Arab League, 21 July 2016, retrieved 3 May 2017
  21. ^ "South Sudan application for Arab League seat is opposed". 17 March 2018. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  22. ^ "South Sudan seeks observer status in Arab League". 7 March 2018. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  23. ^ "Timeline: Arab League". BBC News. 17 September 2008. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
  24. ^ "Libya suspended from Arab League sessions – Israel News, Ynetnews". Ynetnews.com. 20 June 1995. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  25. ^ "Arab League Recognizes Libyan Rebel Council". RTT News. 25 August 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  26. ^ Libya suspended from Arab League sessions – Israel News, Ynetnews. Ynetnews.com (1995-06-20). Retrieved on 2014-04-28.
  27. ^ Souhail Karam – Tom Heneghan – Michael Roddy (16 March 2011). "Gaddafi taunts critics, dares them to get him". Reuters. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  28. ^ Kat Higgins (16 March 2011). "Libya: Clashes Continue As World Powers Stall". Sky News. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  29. ^ "Arab League Recognizes Libyan Rebel Council". RTT News. 25 August 2011. Archived from the original on 8 December 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2011. ((cite news)): Unknown parameter |dead-url= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  30. ^ "Arab League parliament urges Syria suspension". Al Jazeera. 20 September 2011. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  31. ^ "Arab League Votes to Suspend Syria Over Crackdown". NYTimes.com. 12 November 2011. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  32. ^ "Arab League Votes to Suspend Syria Over Crackdown". New York Times. 12 November 2011. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  33. ^ Kenner, D. (27 December 2011). "The World's Worst Human Rights Observer". Foreign Policy. As Arab League monitors work to expose President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown, the head of the mission is a Sudanese general accused of creating the fearsome "Janjaweed," which was responsible for the worst atrocities during the Darfur genocide.
  34. ^ Syrian activists slam Arab League mission head CNN, 28 December 2011.
  35. ^ "Violence in second Syrian city ahead of Arab League monitors' visit". The Guardian. 28 December 2011.
  36. ^ Ian Black. "Syrian opposition takes Arab League seat". the Guardian. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  37. ^ "Syria opposition 'not yet ready for Arab League seat'". The Daily Star Newspaper – Lebanon. Retrieved 20 November 2014.