Analysing the failure of pan-arabism

The Middle East has long been a hotspot of conflict, both along ethnic and religious lines. Since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Arab portion of the Middle East has had to deal with imperialism from the Western world and from Israel, but also with inner conflict which has prevented it from dealing with its external threats in a unified and effective way. The pan-Arab movement was meant to meet that objective, but it has lost its momentum to the pan-Islam movement and is now outside of the mainstream. To this day, the Arab countries remain divided and vulnerable to foreign meddling; in this way, pan-Arabism has failed to meet its goals. The purpose of this essay is to find out why the main currents of the post-WWI pan-arab movements, namely Nasserism, Ba'athism and the Hashemite family's bid, have failed to deliver on those promises. Several events have precipitated the end of the pan-Arab movement, including the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the Lebanese civil war and the Iran-Iraq war, and the lack of leaders following Nasser's death (Lesson 4, “Reasons for the Disintegration of Pan-Arabism”). However, the focus of this essay will not be to find out how those events killed the momentum of the pan-Arab movement, but rather what prevented the pan-Arab movement from succeeding while it had the momentum. We will find that competing allegiances, whether at the ideological level or for self-aggrandisement, both at the top and the grassroots level, and between member countries, were significant causes for the failure of pan-Arabism, both within and without the movement; in other words, the diverging ideologies and self-centeredness of the Arab nationalists caused them to drive each other away rather than to unite. Furthermore, the Arab defeat in the Six-Day War dealt a significant blow to the pan-Arab movement. As evidence to support this position, we will briefly discuss the historical conditions that set the stage for its emergence, then some attempts at political unions made by Arab states in the post-WWII era, a few post-Nasser leaders, then the way in which the Six-Day War damaged the movement. The United Arab Republic will be compared and contrasted to the Yemeni Unification and the United Arab Emirates, which were not

known to have been influenced by pan-Arabism. Post-WWII pan-Arab ideology was defined by two major currents. The first pan-Arab movement was Ba'athism, which originated in Syria and predated Nasserism; it was founded by Michel Aflaq in 1946 (Lesson 4, “The Baath Party”. The second pan-Arab movement was Nasserism, which was born in the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 (Lecture 4, “Gamal Abdel Nasser”). Pan-Arabism predates both Ba'athism and Nasserism, and could be traced back to the 1880s (lesson 4, “PanArabists”). Generally, there was cooperation between those movements, but both had to compete with other movements that attempted to unite Arab countries. For instance, Nasserism was opposed by the monarchies of the Gulf states, notably the Hashemite royal family, who made their own attempts to promote Arab unity in an effort to offset Nasserist republican ideals. Finally, pan-Islam seeks to unite not only Arab countries, but all Muslim countries under an Islamic theocracy, a goal anathema to the secular ideals of pan-Arabism. (lesson 3, “Rise of Pan-Islam”; Lesson 4, “Gamal Abdel Nasser”) Those competing movements will be covered briefly. Both currents of pan-arabism had three goals in common. The goals are the rejection of Western imperialism, the unification of the Arab world under a single nation, and the modernisation of the Arab world, which entailed the adoption of Western ideas, namely democratisation, secularism and socialism (Kerr, 1). Although the Ottoman empire was not Arab in origin, the Arab nation prospered as a large cultural continuum within the state, undivided by national borders; hence the pan-Arab movement appeals to a return to former glory. This coincided with a common Muslim identity, which explains why pan-Islam was a strong competitor, and eventually took over. (Kramer, 171). For similar reasons, the issue of Palestinian statehood remains a heated topic today; although like the Arab nation, Palestine was never officially a sovereign state, its native inhabitants long for a return to their former strength as an Arab majority. This point in common might explain why Palestine was such a central issue for the pan-Arab movement. The Arab nationalists turned not only to Western ideas, but also to Western

The intent of the French and the British empires was to divide the territory among themselves. the United Arab Republic. and modeled after the Labour Party of the United Kingdom.imperial powers as allies in their attempt to liberate the Arab world from Ottoman domination. the United Arab States. they had little use for a united Arab nation-state whose extent of territory would have spun much of the existing empire. founded in 1945. the Sykes-Picot agreement and the Treaty of Sevre were clear examples of that (Lesson 5. who . The Ba'ath Party was first founded in Syria by Michel Aflaq. The new borders that separated the former Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire had thus set the stage for resentment against Western imperialism. “The Three Phases in Middle Eastern History”. Lesson 3. Lesson 5. “The SykesPicot Agreement”.Attempts to unify the Arab world -- Many attempts to unify Arab countries have been made. not all of which were associated with Nasserist or Ba'athist pan-Arabism. and of the ones that did. and the attempted annexation of Kuwait by Iraq. The only successful attempts at uniting Arab countries that last to this day are the United Arab Emirates and the reunification of North and South Yemen. Although the European powers were happy to leverage the Arabs against the Ottoman Empire. “The Hussein-McMahon Correspondence”). Other attempts at political mergers of variable degrees of integration include the Federal Arab Republic. being the most egregious affront to Arab unity. but a loose interstate organisation which now includes all Arab states. was to become a central issue in the post-WWII pan-Arab movement (Lesson 3. 183). “The Treaty of Sevre”) . the Iraqi Ba'ath Party was subsumed by Saddam Hussein. -. “The Foreign Policy Process in the Middle East”. only a few have lasted to this day. The Palestine issue. The Arab League. the Arab Federation. whose charter affirms national sovereignty and precludes intervention in the affairs of other member state (Kramer. is neither a federation nor a superstate. Lesson 5. Later on. Most never materialised.

The Hashemite Royal Family and the Arab Federation – According to Karsh. Claiming lineage to the Islamic prophet Mohammed. The merger of the two Hashemite kingdoms was . “The Baath Party”.had taken full personal control of both the party and the country. The Hashemite dynasty was less interested in self-determination for the Arab peoples than in establishing their own successor empire. Hussein's first son. 5-7). 3-5) His second son. “Emergence of Pragmatic Leaders”). (Karsh. Now ruling over Iraq and Jordan as separate branches. the Hashemite royal family persisted with their Greater Syria ambitions. -. sought to set up a more modest regional empire. they sought to unite both countries under the same house and to integrate Syria under its rule. Lesson 3. Hafez al-Assad did the same in Syria (Lesson 4. he was removed by the French (Karsh. Faisal. the ultimate aim of King Hussein was to gain control over all Muslim lands in order to reconstitute the Ummah. From the 1930s on. a promise which he soon renounced upon becoming king of Syria in 1920. The plan fell apart when Britain refused to grant Palestine to the Hashemite family. He went as far as courting the Zionist movement and promising them to promote Jewish immigration to Palestine if made king (a geographical region which at the time included Palestine). shared those ambitions. without success. and made explicit his demands to the British government “to see that the Arab kingdom is such as will make it a substitute for the Ottoman Empire. he betrayed his father and the British by negotiating his plan with the Ottoman ruling elite in secret. the so-called Greater Syria. and unsuccessfully used the Great Arab Revolt in a bid for legitimacy as the representatives of the Arab world. Described as equally opportunistic. whose scope was to extend beyond the Arab world. He portrays them as opportunists who exploited what at the time constituted a fringe movement of Arab nationalists.” (4). After only three months. the imperial ambitions of the Hashemite dynasty can be traced to shortly before the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Abdullah.

as would happen to the later pan-Arab movements.considered infeasible due to economic disparities between the two countries and political differences. for instance. while Egypt continued to call itself the United Arab Republic until 1971 (Wikipedia. 65-75). unsuccessful attempts were made to invite Saudi Arabia to join (Choueiri. Maddy-Weitzman. a fact made worse when it was in control of two separate countries. -. which they only successfully brought together in a spontaneous afterthought move. However. This divergence on Palestine contrasts with the post-WWII Nasserist focus on Palestine as a cause for Arab unity. Syria and Iraq and by regime changes in . 72). “United Arab Republic”). in order to save the Hashemite dynasty following the assassination of King Abdullah of Jordan. the union was open to other Arab members.Nasserism and the United Arab Republic -- The United Arab Republic project began with a merger between Egypt and Syria which was conceived in haste in 1958 and only lasted until 1961. The project was plagued with backand-forths. Although the union was primarily focused on protecting Hashemite concerns. namely on foreign policy towards Britain and stances on the Palestine issue. 72). Unity was discussed on two separate occasions after WWII: in 1946-47. the decision to constitute the Arab Federation was made in haste shortly after the formation of the United Arab Republic in 1958 in order to counter its republican influence (MaddyWeitzman. caused by a political love triangle between Egypt. and in 1951-52. and were unable to stop from breaking apart once again after barely a year when one of the houses got overthrown. The family was torn apart by the personal ambitions of its members. again focused on Greater Syria. A single royal family was unable to keep its own house in order and make unified decisions. 169. The squabbles within the Hashemite family provide an early example of inter-Arab conflicts which plagued most subsequent attempts at Arab political unions. The union was dissolved the same year following the Iraq coup d'état (Maddy-Weitzman.

the new state was to be under the sole leadership of the Arab Socialist Union. (Kerr. 3). Egypt and Iraq had been competing for influence over Syria since before WWII. “The Effect of the 1948 Defeat on Syria”). 88). He had originally wanted to wait for Syria to put its house in order first and to implement a five-year transition plan. and that all Syrian parties disband. it feared it could not resist a takeover by the Syrian Communist Party in the long term without requesting Western foreign aid. Syria pushed for an early merger. on the other hand. the gesture that sealed the relationship was Nasser sending Egyptian troops to Syria during its standoff against Turkey. 87-88. he could not allow Syria to join the pro-Western Hashemite camp. Nasser accepted on the condition that the UAR would be a centralised unitary state. 10-11. which Nasser was reluctant to accept. the comfortable relationship that the Hashemite regime in Iraq enjoyed with the British did not sit well with Nasser (Lesson 4. After its dissolution following the Iraqi Revolution of . and was concerned that the new alliance would draw Western pressure. The intent of pan-arabism being to oppose Western imperialism. Egypt. As stated earlier. the Iraqi Hashemite regime felt threatened by the new alliance and joined Jordan to form the short-lived Arab Federation. Al– Sayyid. Nasser's popularity had reached such a point that the Syrian public made vocal demands to their government for a political union with Egypt (Al–Sayyid. However. they were brought together by a common foreign policy of resistance to British and American interference. it was an acceptable price to pay to further their pan-Arab vision. 2). Syria's motivation for the merger with Egypt was to deal with its own political instability. Since 1955. To the Syrian Ba'athist party. but were swayed by the strong leadership of Nasser (Kerr. The Syrians had no particular historical ties with Egypt other than a common Arab identity. led by Nasser. and the republican Ba'athist regime felt threatened by the royalist regime of Iraq. “Gamal Abdel Nasser”. needed allies in the aftermath of the Suez Canal crisis in order to continue resisting Western interference.the candidate countries. which did not provide a good starting point for relations between Cairo and Baghdad. Lesson 6. Kerr. However.

the new Ba'athist cadre was willing to negotiate re-entry into the UAR. whilst Syria sought to distance itself from Egypt. and was still in the process of negotiations to join the UAR with Egypt. Meanwhile. The Ba'athists believed that despite dissolving their own party. of which Egypt was by then the sole member. in the sense that in practice each side was claiming the right to run Syria as it saw fit” (15). the National Union. Arab nationalist movements formed in Iraq. The Iraqi Ba'athist coup in 1963 revived hopes for the UAR. as president of the UAR. the latter viewing the Egyptian leaders pragmatism as too haphazard. Nasser was the public face of Arab leader of the terms of the unity agreement and the manner in which the newly established institutions were to operate. which he interpreted as treason. 12-15) Kerr describes the situation thus: “The elections and resignations dramatized the contrasting interpretations of 'Abd al-Nasir and the Ba. Despite its new-found common ideology with Syria. Syria had its own coup and Akram Hawrani was ousted. Nasser. relations with Egypt had now soured to the point of a cold war and verbal hostilities (Kerr. and his presence overshadowed that of the minor. is worth mentioning. 41-43). discontent with the political union grew among Syrians. 15. (Kerr. The inevitable breakup drove the Syrians away from Egypt and into seeking an alliance with Ba'athist Iraq. 17). In part it was a case of clashing ambitions. The clash was now between the two Ba'athist parties and Nasser's uncompromising positions. But once again. 41-43). A month after the Iraq Ba'athist coup. uncharismatic Ba'athist leaders (Kerr. as it was a monarchy at the time . Iraq was unwilling to bear the burden of its neighbour's political instability. who were being run “like a colony” (Kramer. The role of North Yemen. clashes between Nasser and the Ba'ath Party prevented this (Kerr. compared to their rigid doctrines. but were crushed by the Qasim regime.1958. clashed with his Ba'athist ministers. 186-187). the Ba'athists offered their collective resignation. At one point. At that point. Nasser and the Ba'ath ran into increasing numbers of disagreements. although minor. they could take effective control of Nasser's single party. This switch of ideological focus made Iraq more amenable to a better relationship with Egypt.

and nor did the doctrinaire attitude of the Ba'ath Party. 187). where the king retained full power. I recognised the symptoms all the more easily. 186-187). in fact. Although the country adopted a flag with the pan-Arab colours. Kerr summarised the in-fighting between the pan-Arab movements brilliantly: “Now it had been shown that socialists and revolutionaries were as capable of quarreling with each other as they were with 'reactionaries' – perhaps more so. Referring to the breakdown of talks between the Ba'ath parties and Nasser over the UAR. because radical militant organizations had a tendency to become prisoners of their own totalitarian ideologies and to see themselves as indispensable national saviours. Nasser cut ties with Yemen in 1963 (Kerr. The Mutawakkilite monarchy opted to joined Nasser rather than oppose him as had done the other conservative regimes of the area. Unfortunately for Nasser. and those Egyptians were only a step away from clapping their hands together and shouting. Nasser's authoritarianism did not help. the British disease alienated his allies. in Kramer. "Boy!" when they wanted service. a British journalist denounced his firebombing raids and highlighted the arrogance of the Egyptians : “Having come directly from British colonial Aden. 27). --Federal Arab Republic -- The Federal Arab Republic was a plan put forward by Moammar Gaddafi after the death of . The political instability and the constant shift of allegiances of Egypt's neighbours during the Nasserist period made a political union between them unlikely. the alliance did not pay off for the Yemeni monarchy. To say the least. Nasser's intervention caused much resentment.” (qtd. it remained a sovereign state. and caused the death rather than the birth of his Arab empire. Nasser sent military aid to fight on the side of the revolutionaries against the king (Kramer.when it allied itself with the UAR shortly after its formation. the alliance was called the United Arab States. When the Yemeni civil war broke out a few years later.” (91). Creeping imperialism is a catching disease.

the negotiations were taking place mainly between military officials. while Colonel Gaddafi was negotiating a merger with Sudan. personal disagreements were an obstacle to the unification process. as had the union of Syria and Egypt into the UAR. For instance. The plan to create a unitary state with Libya with Egypt within the federation failed. Gaddafi wanted an immediate merger. The disparities between Egypt and Libya were even greater than between Egypt and Syria: Egypt had a population of 34 million people. and the last attempt before Iraq's annexation of Kuwait which triggered the First Gulf War. as had his predecessor originally. which attempted to unify Libya with Egypt.The North-South Yemen Unification The unification of Yemen was the last successful merger of Arab states. But once again. an immediate union could not have possibly worked (“Libya and Arab Unity”). The success of the merger depended on the common identity of both states (Whitaker. Gaddafi repeated the same mistakes as the Hashemite family and the United Arab Republic: his idea of a piecemeal approach was to unify countries with each other one by one. while the Libyan GDP per capita was more than tenfold stronger than that of Egypt. 5). rather than harmonise institutions. thanks to oil revenue.Nasser. Syria joined the negotiations after Lieutenant General Hafez al-Assad took over. that common national identity ensured that “the quest for national unity has been a recurrent and highly potent theme in . In addition.” predating the Islamic era. In the words of Whitaker. Under those circumstances. The referendum in all three countries spoke in favour of the union. while Sadat favoured a gradual integration approach. “[Yemen] is a land with a long history and a state with a short one. Pan-Arab talks continued between Nasser's successor Sadat and Gaddafi. and gave legitimacy to the project. Sudan and Syria. -. nor on the strategy to adopt towards Israel. they were unable to agree on the specifics of the political system. and the alliance between the UAR and North Yemen. compared to 2 million in Libya. As with the UAR.

and especially the social progress it had made in comparison to what it viewed as a backwards neighbour. North Yemen learned many lessons from the failure of the United Arab States alliance. The civil war resulted in the demise of the Yemen Socialist Party. and the composition of the would-be states invariably depended on the transient alliance of the day. the merger was between two countries of different sizes.Yemeni political life” (23). The . Like other Arab countries. 86). had some elements in common with the pan-Arab vision of socialism. The reunification process lacked the backing of a strong leader. but was characterised by compromise on both sides. South Yemen was a marxist communist country. In parallel to the UAR and the reunification of West and East Germany. While the Republic of Yemen was indeed the result of a successful merger. is a lesson worth remembering. despite the short-lived membership of the Yemen Arab Republic in the United Arab States. 90 Arab scholars compiled over a thousand pages of documents reflecting on that period (Al–Sayyid. For instance. 24-26) However. devolving into a civil war as South Yemen declared independence in 1994. was wary of losing its autonomy. the countries took steps to facilitate integration that the UAR had not. By contrast. South Yemen. having had less than the fifth of the population of North Yemen. yet was able to unite with its southern counterpart despite having radically different political systems. The socialist ideology of the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen. 30 years after the foundation of the UAR. The fact that North Yemen failed to unite with the UAR under pan-Arab ideology. 39-40). (Whitaker. Even with those measures. while North Yemen had a traditional market economy. all the previous attempts to merge Arab states were abortive. to which success “creating a network of shared interests” was key (26). but that move was crushed by the national government. 28. the union almost broke apart. enabling the North to dominate the political system (Wadham. such as agreeing to a transition period. but this ended up making integration with the YAR more difficult due to its adherence to Marxism and the Soviet state model. and those of the UAR. North and South Yemen had to face political differences on their way to unification. pan-Arabism had little to do with it.

However. It was formed in 1971 in response to an unexpected British withdrawal from the region. -. 85 percent of the population were foreigners. Economic differences were part of the reason why the Hashemites were unable to unite Iraq and Jordan until after WWII. Like the unification of Yemen. 101). Care was taken to avoid disputes over natural resources: the provisional constitution stated that "the natural resources and wealth in each emirate shall be considered to be the public property of that emirate" (105) Although the founders were absolute monarchs.United Arab Republic episode had a strong leader but who was unwilling to compromise. it was evident that the founders had taken a cautious and pragmatic approach towards the formation of the new federation. Power and wealth were concentrated in the hands of the monarchs. nor did it involve any strong leader or particular ideology. Qatar and Dubai were candidates. the unification process had little to do with pan-Arabism. then invited the other states in the region to join. they adopted a temporary constitution (Heard-Bey. the Hashemite royal family acted out of self-interest and were only able to cobble up a last minute union after decades of impasses. The countries were very unequal economically.The United Arab Emirates -- The United Arab Emirates is the most successful Arab political union to date. only for it to fall apart after they were unable to prevent a military coup in Iraq. to the point that it is recognised as a model of stability in the Arab world. as well as the other Trucial States. while the monarchs were to keep sovereignty over their respective territories. The federation was entirely driven from the top without grassroots support. The founders did not intend their proposed state “to be the final structure in shape and size”. The Union project started when the sheiks of Dubai and Abu Dhabi formed their own union. At first. the conditions for the union did not seem favourable. as well as having populations with different education levels. they were not overly ambitious . in fact. rather. Only a minor role was to be given to the federal government.

in light of their failure to bring about Arab unity.with their project. but not ideologues. Although ultimately. it is worthwhile to examine the views of one of their principal intellectual opponents. in order to find whether and how they were responsible for the failure of the project. whom he excoriates with rich enthusiasm. and does not spare Nasser and other leaders. A controversial Israeli professor noted for his right-wing Zionist views. pragmatism triumphed over charismatic leadership (100-115). unlike the Hashemite royal family and the Nasserist movement. the main actors who conceived them and otherwise promoted the ideal must now be studied. The negotiators were idealistic. but for personal accomplishment: they saw the opportunity as “not only a taxing but also an exhilarating experience” which would enable them to “[build] something worthwhile for their own people—and for the first time with little outside help” (102). – Gamal Abdel Nasser – Karsh portrays Nasser as an opportunist. They saw the British departure as an opportunity not for selfaggrandisement. Efraim Karsh has no love for Arab leaders. Qatar and Bahrain did not join the Union. Nonetheless. Although they were not consulted on the constitution project. describing him as “an imperialist aspirant. cynically . Again. they generally welcomed it. --Pan-Arab leaders --------- The past attempts at Arab unity having been analysed. A previously passive population reliant on a system of traditional authority started to participate more in the political system. the economic success and development that the United Arab Emirates has enjoyed thanks to its oil profits is well known. He was cited earlier denouncing the Hashemite dynasty.

therefore. Each time that you or someone else spoke to me of the Arabs. including the countries with which he would later negotiate a political union (12). in 11). unreliable and trecherous” (qtd. As ideologically inflexible as the Ba'ath Party turned out to be. and demonstrated the disdain that Nasser expressed about the rest of the Arab world. eventually it would become a vessel for his dreams of imperial leadership over the Arab world. Nasser's pan-Arab ambitions were more politically motivated than sentimental.” (qtd. as evidenced by several quotes provided by Kersh. he had spoken approvingly of the Israelis for routing the British out of Palestine and modernising the country. but they are afraid to acknowledge that Britain is the cause. Nasser's ideology of pan-Arabism served as a means to an end. saying in 1953 that “[t]he Arabs tend to forget this fact and blame Israel and the Jews. He allegedly confessed to a close friend : “Formerly I believed neither in the Arabs nor in Arabism. namely his concerns for Egypt. which he wanted to rid of British influence. But Nasser abused of his control. much less subsume it to the pan-Arab idea. could he allow Egypt to not play a role of leadership in any negotiation he had with other Arab states. with Egypt as its vanguard. for he could not afford to undermine his own base of power. By comparison. its Syrian branch was willing to dissolve its country in the name of that greater ideal. give insight into the possible reasons for Nasser's difficult relationship with the Ba'ath Party. Those characterisations. and his inability to compromise. while far from impartial. . He described the Iraqis as “savage”. In that light. In no circumstances. once he had overthrown the pro-British monarchy. Illustrating his early focus on British imperialism. the Yemenis as “hopelessly backward and stupid” and the Syrians as “irresponsible. I laughed at what you said. while admitting his own humiliation during the 1948 war. Karsh described Nasser as “parochial” in his loyalties. Nasser blamed the British for the Arab loss of Palestine. But then I realized all the potential possessed by the Arab states! That is what made me change my mind. in 12). and thus the union failed (13).” (qtd. pan-Arabism became a means to secure the independence of Egypt. in 12).exploiting pan-Arab ideals for his self-serving goal” (11).

have obstructed formal political collaboration because Algeria has consistently backed away from such cooperation with its unpredictable neighbor. but his offer “ was immediately repudiated by Habib Bourguiba” (“Libya and Arab Unity”).Moammar Gaddafi – Gaddafi's vision was largely inspired by Nasser. and the monarch was able to maintain Arab unity on that issue. Nasser's successor. However. was more pragmatic. In addition to the Federation of Arab Republics mentioned earlier. “from his first moments in power. which subordinated pan-Arab considerations to the Egyptian national interest.” (19). Nonetheless. Like the other constituting members of the United Arab Republic and the United Arab States. in the same way that the other states put their own interests first and abandoned the union. In turn. “End of Arab Cooperation”). Gaddafi considered himself the successor of Nasser. “ (“The Maghrib”). and claimed that he had declared him his son (MacFarquar). King Faisal of Saudi Arabia attempted to take the mantle of panArabism. until his assassination in 1975 (Lesson 4. the libyan dictator attempted a long series of political unions. “President Sadat”). Egypt had failed to put the interests of the greater Arab nation ahead of its own. he did not have the charisma of the former Egyptian leader. . He made a similar attempt to unite with Tunisia. According to Karsh. so did its principal founding member under Sadat (Lesson 4. nor did the Saudi monarchy have the appeal of modernity and progress associated with the republican ideals of Nasserism. -. but eventually scaled down his ambitions and focused on unions between African countries. He reminds me of myself when I was that age” (Naeem). Sadat. Anwar Sadat adopted an “Egypt first” approach. Even those efforts were vain. who said of him “I rather like Gaddafi. as the United States State Department observed: “Libyan inclinations for full-scale political union.Following Nasser's death. the Palestine issue remained at the core of Arab nationalism. however. as popular as the king was in the Arab world and especially at home.

until its toppling by the rebel forces. The Gaddafi regime was arguably the most successful in warding off Western imperialism in Libya. however. and decline responsibility when they went badly. Gaddafi was also noted for his close relationship and business ties with former UK prime minister Tony Blair (Brady). which soured considerably after he started to make peace negotiations with Israel (ibid). to ease relations with Sadat.” referring to the tremendous oil profits of Libya. one can recall that in 2003. by virtue of holding no specific office of government. and “went so far as to offer to resign as Libyan head of state if his departure would placate Sadat” (“Libya and Arab Unity”). in his Federation of Arab States proposal. (Lesson 2. eccentric and megalomaniac. having nationalised the oil industry and pursued its own independent course for 40 years. “Challenges to the Seven Sisters”). Moham-med Yunus. Gaddafi became harder and harder to meet. and the Arab League looked askance at this upstart who dared to assume a leadership position on the strength of money alone. It is interesting to note. Gaddafi switched to a more pragmatic foreign policy. Indira Gandhi's special envoy in 1970. to take credit when things went well. Gaddafi was always able. This did little. Gaddafi's overtures towards the West were not popular among the Libyan people. was kept waiting and not permitted access.” (Srinivasan). For instance. that despite his notoriously eccentric behaviour and his apparent megalomania. Gaddafi was interested only in Arab unity and African unity. But towards the end of his regime. and had little strategy or conception of international politics. Libya used the opportunity of the Iraq WMD controversy to announce the dismantling of its own WMD program.A former Indian diplomat wrote an editorial in the Times of India describing Gaddafi's character: “When Nasser's restraint had gone. Gaddafi allowed Sadat to take the leadership of the new country. As time went on. Evidence has shown that the US and other powers funded Libyan opposition groups and armed the . and took actions clearly meant to curry favour with Western countries. however. Gaddafi became autocratic. He further notes. and in any case turned out to be insufficient to serve the interests of his regime or his country in the long term. “In general.

His invasion of Kuwait established him as a divisive and rogue element of the Middle East (Lesson 4. unable to unite the Arab world. Kuwait had been claimed by Iraq since the declaration of its independence in 1961. -. saying that it was an “autonomous sheikdom” and that the Ottoman Empire had never ruled over Kuwait. Be it as it may. and ultimately unable to prevent the neo-liberal takeover of his and other Arab countries. The Kuwaiti government further states that Abdullah II was expanding towards the Kuwaiti region. turning the state into a Stalinist dictatorship based on a cult of personality. Saddam made clear statements identifying his invasion of Kuwait with the pan-Arab ideology. 13). having alienated himself from the other the Arab leaders and failed to gain Western support. the historical basis for that claim was its “having been a part of the Ottoman velayet of Basra” (Karsh. and popular among sections of the Arab world. Although he was largely successful in modernising Iraq. it did not rally the support of the Arab leaders. an important US ally.Saddam Hussein-- Saddam Hussein is an example of a post-Nasser pragmatic leader. “The 1990-1991Gulf War and the Collapse of Arab Unity”). the Kuwait Embassy expressed similar views (5. The last leader of pan-Arabism. The Kuwait embassy disputes this. Karsh implied that Saddam's claim of Kuwait had some basis in pan-Arabism. his rule diverged significantly from original Ba'athist ideals. claiming that the Arab world was "one entity when it was ruled by Baghdad" before being divided by . he died in 2011. In the end days of his regime. the NATO response to the Libyan civil war should be contrasted to their neglect of the political repression by the Al Khalifa regime in Bahrain. Gaddafi was isolated. For context. As stated earlier. Although Saddam's support for the Palestinian cause was reciprocated. 22.Islamist rebels who successfully overthrew his regime (British Broadcasting Corporation). Embassy of Kuwait to Japan). until a Kuwaiti ruler sought British protection (Embassy of Kuwait to Japan). In foreign policy. Saddam Hussein became a rallying figure in fighting against Western imperialism.

196-197). But given the few things that the Arab states had in common. “We will always see that they do not become too powerful. Hence. the loss of Palestine was one of the few issues that Nasser could capitalise on to promote Arab unity. not of the Ottoman Empire – his anti-Western rhetoric contrasted with the Western support he had received during the Iraq-Iran war. “Nasser and the Focus on Palestine”). He further details how the Palestinian refugees were denied Egyptian citizenship “the Egyptian government showed no desire to annex the Gaza Strip but instead ruled the newly acquired area as an occupied military zone” (9).the West (Tibi. Palestine was first claimed by the Hashemite dynasty from the British Empire. But according to Karsh. as part of their imperial bid (8). Karsh portrayed Nasser as having little empathy for the Palestinians. Nasser now made Palestine the central focus of his foreign policy. especially to Nasser's foreign policy (Lesson 4. the annexation of Kuwait was the latest major attempt at unifying two Arab countries. In addition to his statement being historically inaccurate – Baghdad was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. That did not stop pan-Arabists from looking up to him. his opposition to it had little to do with empathy for the Palestinians. Saddam's lip service to pan-Arabism and his self-serving use of its rhetoric is one of the most blatant examples of Arab leadership failure.” quoted Karsh. having earlier denounced the British. “The Palestinians are useful to the Arab states as they are. yet his move did far more to divide the Arab world than to unite it. according to Kramer. Saddam made clear that he didn't believe in pan-Arabism. the last one after the Yemeni unification. and supported the status quo of each Arab state remaining separate. . but as more than willing to use them for his political cause. Regardless of Saddam's motivations. however (Kramer. Given his initial admiration for Israel. -. following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.The Palestine Question and the Arab-Israeli Wars – The Palestinian Question was central to the pan-Arab movement. Yet. 28). Can you imagine yet another nation on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean!” (10).

Although Nasser was keeping a public face of defiance. On one hand. The psychological impact of the war was such that it was dubbed the Second Nakba. The apparent superiority of the Arab side. blamed “lethargic. 188). it was mainly for domestic consumption. On the other hand. but that point had already marked a decline of decline of pan-Arabism in Egyptian foreign policy. and discredited the power and the very notion of Arab unity (Lederer. In the hands of both leaders. 188). Kramer. made the defeat all the more humiliating. It goes without saying that those territorial losses were a major setback to the pan-Arab movement. Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein continued to push the Palestine issue. “Nasser and the Focus on Palestine”). the secularists. . He renounced his resignation. while Syria lost the Golan Heights and Jordan lost the West Bank and East Jerusalem. although he remained a unifying figure. to the point that his offer of resignation was opposed by massive demonstrations. on the contrary. with funding as well as military and technical assistance. who argued that the secularism of the pan-Arab movement was responsible for its failure due to what they perceived as a lack of moral compass to unite the people. 127-128). characterised by the overwhelming numbers of the Arab armies and the backing of Egypt by the Soviet Union. the loss of the war set the stage for the Islamists. in reference to the “Catastrophe” of the 1948 war (Lesson 7. as he shifted his attention to Egyptian affairs during the rest of his presidency. But the centrality of Palestine to the pan-Arab movement is what explains the severe long-term damage that it suffered as a result of the Arab defeat. The 1967 war was a personal failure for Nasser.The aftermath of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war was disastrous: Egypt had lost the Gaza strip and the Sinai peninsula. His death two years later dealt a further blow to pan-arabism (Lesson 4. but although it continued to serve as part of an anti-Israel foreign policy. it was ineffective in promoting Arab unity. slides 26-29. backward Muslims” and the Islamic faith (Ajami. his objective had shifted to regaining the loss territories (Karsh. Another reaction was an intellectual shift from pan-Arabism to state nationalism (Kramer. 18). 60).

as it was not borrowed from the West as secularism and socialism were. the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Islamist movements cannot unite. The language of Islam is a powerful tool to Arab nationalist movements.A further blow was dealt to the focus system and pan-Arabism by Nasser's successor. But the internationalist form of Islamism that appeared in the 1970s and the 1980s following the decline of pan-Arabism was no more successful in implementing its global vision than the ideology it replaced. according to Olivier Roy. while the Sunnis voted against it (Lesson 12. and both seek the indigenous control of natural resources. The movement was not born from the ashes of pan-Arabism. who abandoned the ideology. “President Sadat”). Anwar Al Sadat. 1-4 . Also. For instance. Given that the pan-Islam movement taps into similar sentiments as does the pan-Arab movement. the movement remained divided by national borders. and attempts to solve the same problems with a similar type of remedy. the pan-Islam movement made a similar appeal to the greatness of the past Muslim empire as the pan-Arab did. turning instead to Egyptian nationalism and catering to his countries' interests first. is really Arab nationalism in disguise. slide “Rise of Pan-Islam”). but as a competing movement in the late 1920s. especially oil. Indeed. the reaction of the Islamist movements to the US invasion of Iraq varied depending on the national interests of the country in which they operated: the Kuwaitis approved of it. it isn't surprising . and is credited to Hassan Al Banna. He further divided the Arab world when he signed a peace treaty with Israel (Lesson 4. The sectarian divisions in Iraq are a clear example of this: the Shi'ite groups voted for the Constitution. while the Jordanians opposed it (Roy. slide “The Iraqi Constitution”). Pan-Islam. – Pan-Islam – The final phase of the disappearance of pan-arabism as a unifying political ideology was its replacement by the emerging movement of pan-Islam. Even within a single country. Lesson 4. Instead. pan-Islam and pan-Arabism share the same enmity to Western imperialism and Israel.

-. He takes the optimistic view that “[t]he Arab Spring has played a significant role in liberating national pride that was previously stifled or else expressed itself in distorted and even chauvinistic ways” (Temlali. as well as the popular revolts against Arab nationalist dictators such as Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad. and that Yahia al-Qazzaz sees it as “a probable precursor to a transnational movement of unification” (46). US political and economic . the Arab nationalist themes that influenced the Arab Spring should not be discounted. He further reports that Ba'ath parties have “hailed” the Arab spring as an “Arab revolution”. A significant feature of the Arab Spring revolutions. Nonetheless. 46). Although the Arab spring was fueled by popular discontent towards the corrupt governments and their enrichment at the expense of the people. or whether it is the nail in its coffin. Yet. It remains to be seen whether the Arab Spring movements will overcome the external forces attempting to manipulate it and finally emerge as a force for independence from Western imperialism. the successful examples of the Republic of Yemen and the United Arab Emirates were characterised by pragmatism and deliberations.Arab Spring -- Temlali ponders whether the Arab spring is a manifestation of the pan-Arab sentiment.that it would suffer from the same disunity problems as the pan-Arab movement. he notes the lack of presence of Nasserists and Ba'athists in the uprisings. Unfortunately for Libya. is the apparent lack of leadership within. one of the reasons for the Arab revolutions was the support of the governments for Western regimes. At the same time. there is evidence that much of it was instigated by government-affiliated NGOs and the intelligence agencies of the United States and other Western regimes (Nixon). prospects for independence seem bleak. whether they be organic or staged in part or in whole. All the previous examples have shown that the presence of strong leaders have disrupted movements towards unity rather than encouraged them. Judging from statements by government officials in the press. Yet.

and noted the climate of distrust and the lack of cohesion. For example. De Atkine noted that Nasser convinced King Hussein of Jordan to join the 1967 war on the lie that his airforce had penetrated Tel Aviv. nor were the Jordanians forthcoming with the Egyptian command” (De Atkine). it is worth looking into why the Arabs have lost so many wars. appeared on Fox News and exhorted his country to “get in on the ground”. he witnessed Arab army practices first hand. As an example. De Atkine further noted that “not a single Jordanian liaison officer was stationed in Egypt. remarking that “there is a lot of money to be made in the future of Libya” and admitting that the US was “leading from behind” (ThinkProgress). despite their numerical superiority. Rivalries were rife. It is worth remembering that with the exception of North Yemen. when it had been defeated by Israel. It turns out that the lack of unity in Arab politics is just as pervasive in Arab military forces and. “. even in Arab culture. An Egyptian officer admitted to De Atkine that lack of cohesion in the Egyptian army was the cause of their defeat. He noted the lack of leadership among the superior officers. and often political.intervention is likely to happen in post-Gaddafi Libya. both within and between the ranks. For example. The generalised self-centered nature of Arab military officers and their competition for authority proved to be reflective of the same tendencies at higher levels during the conflict. as well as the highly centralised nature of their hierarchy and lack of initiative and power among the lower officers. in order to remain useful to the army and keep their position. As a retired US army colonel who served in the Middle East. including in Egypt. the negotiations on the formation of the United Arab Republic mainly . he mentioned that individuals hoarded information rather than sharing it. – Analysis – Given the consequences of the 1967 war. Lindsey Graham. but also their disdain for the lower ranks. at least according to De Atkine. and “establish a democracy and a functioning economy based on free market principles. a Republican senator noted for his support for interventionist foreign policy.

redefinition of Arabness” (29). as such. and between the Ba'ath parties of Iraq and Syria. although successful. were formed from small sultanates or emirates that had jointly declared their independence from the United Kingdom (Wikipedia. both based on revolutionary socialism. The rivalry between the various factions of pan-Arab movements. rather than an ideology–oriented. namely South Yemen and the UAE. specifically on the ideology of the pan-Arab movement. The Yemen unification example showed that the ability to compromise on the part of both sides made the union possible despite their vast ideological differences. He contrasted Europe as “a group equipped with mechanisms of conflict resolution and a realistic concept of Europeanness” with the pan-Arab movement. It is also interesting to note that two of the Arab states that were the result of successful mergers.took place between high army officers in control of military regimes. “Federation of South Arabia”). It would explain why the Nasserists and the Ba'athists failed to reconcile their differences despite the similarities of their ideologies. Tibi made further observations on the lack of harmony in inter-state Arab politics. the independence of the latter having been influenced by Nasserism. which he characterised as “Arab states blinded by ideological and extended tribal formulas such as brotherhood and pan–Arab harmony”. as well as the competition for dominance of the Arab world between its leaders. leads to the ironic conclusion that the pan-Arab movement contained the seeds of its own discord which contributed to the further division of the Arab world. compared to the countless failures that occurred under the aegis . owed little to either Nasserism or to Ba'athism. namely the United Arab Republic and the Arab Federation. and more to pragmatism. One can clearly see the truth of that statement by recalling the successes of the Yemen Reunification and that of the United Arab Emirates. The other such state was itself a late merger between South Yemen and North Yemen. he drew the following lesson from the First Gulf War: “the strength of a policy–oriented. those observations at the lower level give a idea as to the extent of damage that the self-centeredness of the Arab leaders had done to the cause of Arab unity. Those mergers.

one of them contributing to the decline of pan-Arabism. The United Arab Emirates succeeded despite initial doubts. self-centered leader who gained little respect in the Arab world. occurring at low hierarchical levels.of the various self-serving pan-Arab leaders. Gaddafi proved to be a fickle. Nasser's ability to convince the Syrian public to give up their statehood in favour of union with Egypt was no mean feat. have indeed brought the collapse of the pan-Arab movement. his whims and unpredictability have done little to help. when effective. everyone wanted the leadership for himself. even that union almost fell apart. But although Nasser's charisma gave momentum to the panArab movement and kept it focused. his inability to compromise and his overpowering personality were partly responsible for scuttling the UAR talks. a limitation of that type of leadership is the dependency of a state or movement on a single person. perhaps because the British occupation provided a degree of political stability and uniformity that was necessary for the merger to . having caught themselves up in ideological squabbles with the Nasserists and among themselves. De Atkine's experience with Arab armies showed that those losses resulted from rampant conflicts in Arab cultures. and the failings and eventual deaths of such leaders. Although panArabism achieved great popularity and many Arab leaders agreed on the need for a united Arab world. The Ba'ath Parties fared little better than the charismatic leaders. The only two successes confirm the rule: Yemen was brought back together thanks of an ancient. not because of a political movement or strong leader. and were eventually taken over by tyrants who weren't any more successful. two major Arab wars were lost because of lack of coordination. In addition. and far more often than they would elsewhere. or failed attempts to exert it. Saddam Hussein ruled by cult of personality and alienated his neighbours to the point that they cooperated with Western powers against him. The pan-Arab movement has provided many examples of charismatic leadership. common culture. – Conclusion Rivalries amongst leaders have been a recurring theme in Arab politics. again resulting from rivalries. unnecessarily.

and is unlikely to do so until the Arab societies are able to bring themselves to harmony. Yet. . It may seem tautological or circular to say that the Arabs were unable to unify because they were unable to end their conflicts. cannot be expected to unite such societies as described by De Atkine when he was brought up in those same societies. A Bismark could not have been sufficient to bring the Arabs together: in the German states. A leader. the goal of pan-Arab movement is the ultimate contradiction of a culture full of contradictions: to create a common country out of a culture where each is out for his own. as evidenced by the replacement of the pan-Arab movement by the pan-Islam movement. In any case.happen. Yet. the pan-Arab movement could not have succeeded. the conflicts were primarily amongst the princes. there is a clear impetus for unity in one way or another. no matter how charismatic. but not the people. and has not himself learnt how to resolve conflicts or make compromises.

Michael C. 05 Dec.a History: Nation and State in the Arab World. Al–Sayyid." Middle East and Global Conflict. Web. Karsh." Daedalus 122 (1993): 171-206. "From Pan-Arabism to the Community of Sovereign Arab States: Redefining the Arab and Arabism in the Aftermath of the Second Gulf War. Hudson.htm>. 2000. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. by Brian Whitaker. Center for Contemporary Arab Studies Georgetown University: Tauris &. Print. U. 05 Dec. "From Pan-Arabism to the Community of Sovereign Arab States: Redefining the Arab and Arabism in the Aftermath of the Second Gulf War." Middle Eastern Studies 26. Bruce. 5 Dec. <http://countrystudies. Kerr. Hudson. 2011. "From Pan-Arabism to the Community of Sovereign Arab States: Redefining the Arab and Arabism in the Aftermath of the Second Gulf War. London: Published for the Royal Institute of International Affairs by Oxford UP. Middle East Quarterly.1 (1990): 65-75.northsouth. 2011. 1999. Arab Nationalism-. Youssef M. 2011.jstor. Ed. eConcordia. Martin.S.northsouth. 1999. Original documents from the Federal Research Division of the . <http://www.pdf>. Hudson.albab. 1958-1970. 2011. <http://www. Henri. Web. Ramat-Gan. 2009. "The Birth of Modern Yemen. Bar-Ilan University. Ed.econcordia. Norvell B. <http://library. <http://library. 05 Dec. Al-Bab. Malcolm H. Brian. Israel: Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. Print. Web." Middle East Forum. Web. Heard-Bey.Bibliography Habib. Ajami.. 2006." AL-BAB: an Open Door to the Arab World. "Why Arabs Lose Wars :: Middle East Quarterly. Print.pdf>. Maddy‐Weitzman. 86-99. 28-39.meforum. Michael C. Web. 1977. Print. < 2011. <http://www. 2011. JSTOR. Efraim. Choueiri. Fauke." Country Studies." Middle East Dilemma: The Politics and Economics of Arab Integration. Bassam.northsouth. 5 Dec. "Libya and Arab Unity.pdf>. 100-15. "Middle East and Global Conflict. "Jordan and Iraq: Efforts at Intra‐Hashimite Unity. 5 Dec. 1992. Web. Kramer. Mustafa K.>. Web. The Arab Predicament: Arab Political Thought and Practice since 1967." Middle East Dilemma: The Politics and Economics of Arab Integration. Department of the Army. The Arab Cold War: Gamal ʼAbd Al-Nasir and His Rivals. <http://library. Tibi. 2011." Middle East Dilemma: The Politics and Economics of Arab>. 5 Dec. 1999. De Atkine. "Arab Nationalism: Mistaken Center for Contemporary Arab Studies Georgetown University: Tauris &.edu/Upload/Middle%20East%20Dilemma. Oxford: Blackwell Pub. Web. 2011.htm>. Michael Arab imperialism: the tragedy of the Middle East. Center for Contemporary Arab Studies Georgetown University: Tauris &. 16 Nov. Fouad.>.

Wadham College. "The “Arab Spring:” Rebirth or Final Throes of Pan-Arabism?" The “Arab Spring:” Rebirth or Final Throes of Pan-Arabism? 2. Original documents from the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. Department of the Army. 2006.nytimes. May 2011. Kuwait Embassy . Web.Japan. Bennett. University of Oxford.ceri-sciencespo. "Evidence Grows of Blair's Links with Gaddafi. <http://en." 在日クウェート国大使館. Clifton. 2011. Oxford University. Yassine.pdf>.pdf>. “Federation of South Arabia. the Free 1978-2000. 06 Dec. CERI. 2011. Ron. 06 Dec. . 20 Oct. "Remembering The Colonel." The New York Times.>. "The Colonel's Labyrinth.Library of Congress. 2011. UNIFICATION IN YEMEN Dynamics of Political Integration. 19782000. Kuwait Embassy for Japan.pdf>.org/wiki/Federation_of_South_Arabia > Ismail. "Lindsey Graham: 'Let's Get In On The Ground. 5 Nov. Web. Web. 2011.wikipedia. Olivier. The Independent. the Free Encyclopedia. 5 Dec." Wikipedia.or.timesofindia. 24 Oct. <http://www. <http://www. Srinivasan.wikipedia.html? _r=3&pagewanted=1&emc=eta1>. Naeem. Guardian News and Media Limited.>.co. Brady.boell.html? _r=3&pagewanted=1&emc=eta1. 05 Dec. <http://www. "L’ISLAMISME. <http://countrystudies. 18 Sept. Sharif. 5 Dec. Web." Thesis." Country Studies." The Guardian. Web. ThinkProgress. <http://kuwait-embassy. Web. <http://thinkprogress.3 (2006): 1-4. "United Arab 15 Apr. <http://www." Alternatives Internationales Hors Series Les Enjeux 2006. Krishnan. 2011.. Eli. Web. 05 Dec. 2011. Web. <http://users.Special Issue (2011): 46-49. Kuwait Embassy for Japan. 5 Dec. 03 Dec. CERI Sciences Po.htm >.>. "Unification in Yemen: Dynamics of Political Integration. 3 Sept. Ltd. Web. There's A Lot Of Money To Be Made In The Future Of Libya'" ThinkProgress.indiatimes. "Http:// Temlali. Raza. The Embassy of the State of Kuwait.shtml>. "The Maghrib. 5 Dec. Brian. 2009. Roy.nytimes. Coleman & Co. "Kuwait Embassy-Tokyo. NOUVEAU PANARABISME. <http://articles. 2011. 2011. U. Web.ox. 2011. 03 Dec." Featured Articles From The Times Of India." The Independent.Heinrich Boell Stiftung Middle East. Heinrich Boell. Web. 2011. 2011. <>. The New York Times Company. <http://www.” Wikipedia. Dec.

Print. and Wayne S. Lederer. 1974.blairs-links-with-gaddafi-2356576. .html>.. the Post-World War II Era. CA: Hoover Institution. Ivo J. Vucinich. Stanford. The Soviet Union and the Middle East.