The Gulf: Me And My Brother Against My Cousin

The crisis forces Arab leaders to do what they most abhor: take a stand

Talk of Arab unity has usually been just that -- talk. Since the Arab League's founding in 1945 as a loose federation of seven states, issues of wealth, territory, sovereignty and political influence have splintered the alliance. With Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's visit to Jerusalem in 1977, the one issue that had always rallied unanimous support -- Arab hatred of the state of Israel -- proved divisive too. Through the 1980s, the cleavages seemed only to widen as the members of the Arab League, now 21 strong, lined up on different sides in the Iran-Iraq war and split their loyalties between...