Pan-Arabism

Pan-Arabism

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Pan-Arabism is an ideology espousing the unification--or, sometimes, close cooperation and solidarity against perceived enemies of the Arabs--of the countries of the Arab world
Arab world
The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states, territories and populations in North Africa, Western Asia and elsewhere.The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the...

, from the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 to the Arabian Sea
Arabian Sea
The Arabian Sea is a region of the Indian Ocean bounded on the east by India, on the north by Pakistan and Iran, on the west by the Arabian Peninsula, on the south, approximately, by a line between Cape Guardafui in northeastern Somalia and Kanyakumari in India...

. It is closely connected to Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world...

, which asserts that the Arabs constitute a single nation. Its popularity was at its height during the 1950s and 1960s. Advocates of Pan-Arabism have often espoused socialist
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 principles and strongly opposed Western political involvement in the Arab world. It also sought to empower Arab states from outside forces by forming alliances and, to a lesser extent, economic co-operation.

Origins and development


The origins of Pan-Arabism are often attributed to Jurji Zaydan
Jurji Zaydan
Jurji Zaydan was a prolific Lebanese novelist, journalist, editor and teacher most noted for his creation of the journal al-Hilal, which he used to serialize his 23 historical novels.His primary goal as a writer and intellectual during the Nahda was to imbue the common...

 (died 1914) and his Nahda (Revival) movement. Zaydan had critical influence on acceptance of a modernized version of the Quranic Arabic language as the universal written and official language throughout the Arab world, instead of adoption of local dialects in the various countries. He also popularized through his historical novels certain heroes from the Arab history. Pan-Arabism was first pressed by Sharif Hussein ibn Ali, the Sharif of Mecca
Sharif of Mecca
The Sharif of Mecca or Hejaz was the title of the former governors of Hejaz and a traditional steward of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina...

, who sought independence for the Mashreq
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 Arabs from the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, and the establishment of a unified Arab state in the Mashreq. In 1915-16, the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence
Hussein-McMahon Correspondence
The McMahon–Hussein Correspondence, or the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence, was a protracted exchange of letters during World War I, between the Sharif of Mecca, Husayn bin Ali, and Sir Henry McMahon, British High Commissioner in Egypt, concerning the future political status of the lands under the...

 resulted in an agreement between the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and the Sharif that if the Mashreq Arabs
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 revolted successfully against the Ottomans, the United Kingdom would support claims for Mashreq Arab
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 independence. In 1916, however, the Sykes-Picot Agreement
Sykes-Picot Agreement
The Sykes–Picot Agreement of 1916 was a secret agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and France, with the assent of Imperial Russia, defining their respective spheres of influence and control in Western Asia after the expected downfall of the Ottoman Empire during World War I...

 between the United Kingdom, and France determined that parts of the Mashreq
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 would be divided between those powers rather than forming part of an independent Arab state. When the Ottoman Empire surrendered in 1918, the United Kingdom refused to keep to the letter of its arrangements with Hussein, and the two nations assumed guardianship of the Mesapotamia, Lebanon, Palestine and what became modern Syria. Ultimately, Hussein only became King of Hijaz in the then less strategically valuable south, but lost his Caliphate
Caliphate
The term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...

 throne when the kingdom was sacked by the Najd
Najd
Najd or Nejd , literally Highland, is the central region of the Arabian Peninsula.-Boundaries :The Arabic word nejd literally means "upland" and was once applied to a variety of regions within the Arabian Peninsula...

i Ikhwan
Ikhwan
The Ikhwan was the Islamic religious militia which formed the main military force of the Arabian ruler Ibn Saud and played a key role in establishing him as ruler of most of the Arabian Peninsula, in his new state of Saudi Arabia. The Ikhwan were made up of Bedouin tribes...

 forces of the Saudites
House of Saud
The House of Saud , also called the Al Saud, is the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia and one of the wealthiest and most powerful dynasties in the world. The family holds thousands of members...

 and forcefully incorporated into the newly-created Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

).
A more formalized pan-Arab ideology than that of Hussein was first espoused in the 1930s, notably by Syrian
Syrian people
The Syrian people are the inhabitants and citizens of Syria. Syrians are tied together by geography, linguistic heritage, religion, and similar Eastern Mediterranean ethnicities...

 thinkers such as Constantin Zureiq
Constantin Zureiq
Constantin Zureiq was a prominent and influential Syrian Arab intellectual who was one of the first to pioneer and express the importance of Arab nationalism. He stressed the urgent need to transform stagnate Arab society by means of rational thought and radical modification of the methods of...

, Zaki al-Arsuzi
Zaki al-Arsuzi
Zakī al-Arsūzī born Latakia June 1899, died Damascus July 1968) was a Syrian political activist and writer, and is widely regarded as a main inspiration for the Ba'ath Party...

 and Michel Aflaq
Michel Aflaq
Michel Aflaq was a Syrian philosopher, who is credited with being the ideological founder of ba'athism, a hybrid of Arab nationalism and Arab socialism.-Early life:...

. Aflaq and al-Arsuzi were key figures in the establishment of the Arab Ba’ath (Renaissance) Party, and the former was for long its chief ideologist, combining elements of Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 thought with a nationalism to a considerable extent reminiscent of nineteenth century European romantic nationalism. It's been said that Arsuzi was fascinated with the Nazi ideology of "racial purity" and impacted Aflaq.

Abdallah of Jordan
Abdullah I of Jordan
Abdullah I bin al-Hussein, King of Jordan [‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Husayn] عبد الله الأول بن الحسين born in Mecca, Second Saudi State, was the second of three sons of Sherif Hussein bin Ali, Sharif and Emir of Mecca and his first wife Abdiyya bint Abdullah...

 dreamed of uniting Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, Palestine, and Jordan under his leadership in what he would call Greater Syria
Greater Syria
Greater Syria , also known simply as Syria, is a term that denotes a region in the Near East bordering the Eastern Mediterranean Sea or the Levant....

. He proposed a plan to this effect to Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, which controlled Palestine at that time, but to no avail. The plan was not popular among the majority of Arabs and fostered distrust among the leaders of the other Middle Eastern countries against Abdallah. This distrust of Abdallah's expansionist aspirations was one of the principle reasons for the founding of the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

 in 1945. Once Abdallah was assassinated by a Palestinian nationalist in 1951, the vision of Greater Syria was dropped from the Jordanian agenda.

The pan-Arab ideology has been accused of racism, inciting prejudice
Prejudice
Prejudice is making a judgment or assumption about someone or something before having enough knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy, or "judging a book by its cover"...

 against and downplaying the role of non-Arab peoples, such as the Berbers
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

, Turks
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

, Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

, Persians
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

, Maronites
Maronites
Maronites , is an ethnoreligious group in the Middle East that have been historically tied with Lebanon. They derive their name from the Syriac saint Mar Maron whose followers moved to Mount Lebanon from northern Syria establishing the Maronite Church....

 and others. Although Pan-Arabism began at the time of World War I, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, the most populous and arguably most important Arabic-speaking country, was not interested in Pan-Arabism prior to the 1950s. Thus, in the 1930s and 1940s, Egyptian nationalism
Egyptian nationalism
Egyptian nationalism is an ideology that rose to prominence in Egypt before the British occupation to Egypt.- History :It is first used to refer to the native officers’ movement, led by Col. Ahmad ‘Urâbî, against Egyptian government policies that favored officers of Turkish, Circassian , or other...

 - and not Pan-Arabism - was the dominant mode of expression of Egyptian political activists. According to James Jankowski, "What is most significant [about Egypt in this period] is the absence of an Arab component in early Egyptian nationalism. The thrust of Egyptian political, economic, and cultural development throughout the nineteenth century worked against, rather than for, an 'Arab' orientation.... This situation—that of divergent political trajectories for Egyptians and Arabs—if anything increased after 1900."

Attempts at Arab union


It was not until the Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein was the second President of Egypt from 1956 until his death. A colonel in the Egyptian army, Nasser led the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 along with Muhammad Naguib, the first president, which overthrew the monarchy of Egypt and Sudan, and heralded a new period of...

 era that Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world...

 (in addition to Arab socialism) became a state policy and a means with which to define Egypt's position in the Middle East and the world, usually articulated vis-à-vis Zionism
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 in the neighboring Jewish state of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

.

There have been several attempts to bring about a Pan-Arab state by many well known Arab leaders, all of which ultimately resulted in failure. British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden called for Arab unity during the 1940s, and this was followed by specific proposals from pro-British leaders, including King Abdullah of Transjordan and Prime Minister Nuri al-Said of Iraq, but Egyptian proposals for a broader grouping of independent Arab states prevailed with the establishment of the League of Arab States, a regional international organization, in 1945. In large part representing the popularity Nasser had gained among the masses in the Arab world following the Suez crisis, the United Arab Republic
United Arab Republic
The United Arab Republic , often abbreviated as the U.A.R., was a sovereign union between Egypt and Syria. The union began in 1958 and existed until 1961, when Syria seceded from the union. Egypt continued to be known officially as the "United Arab Republic" until 1971. The President was Gamal...

 (UAR) in 1958 was the first case of the actual merger of two previously independent Arab countries. Hastily formed under President Nasser's leadership (but on the initiative of Syrian leaders who feared a takeover by communists or "reactionaries and hoped to lead the new entity), the UAR was a unitary state, not a federal union, with its critics seeing this as hardly more than a small country being annexed by a larger one. It lasted until 1961, when Syrian army officers carried out a coup d'etat and withdrew from the union. With the popular dream of unity still a popular force that politicians often thought they had to give lip service to, Egypt, Syria and Iraq entered into an abortive agreement in 1963 to form a new "United Arab Republic," which was to be entirely federal in structure, leaving each member state its identity and institutions." After 1961, Egypt continued to give lip service to the idea of Arab unity by continuing to call itself "the UAR" but changed its name to "Arab Republic of Egypt" in 1973.

Two later attempts represented the enthusiasm of Libya's Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

; these were the Federation of Arab Republics
Federation of Arab Republics
The Federation of Arab Republics was an abortive attempt by Libya's Muammar Gaddafi to merge Libya, Egypt, and Syria, creating an United Arab state...

 and the Arab Islamic Republic
Arab Islamic Republic
The Arab Islamic Republic was a proposed unification of Tunisia and Libya in 1974, agreed upon by Libyan ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi and Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba. The proposal was never implemented.- Regional context :...

 but never emerged in practice. Aside from the forcible unification of much of the Arabian Peninsula by the Saudi rulers of Najd during the 1920s, the unity of seven Arab emirates that form the United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates", is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.The UAE is a...

 and the unification of North Yemen and South Yemen stand today as rare examples of actual unification. The current Syrian government is--and the former government of Iraq was--led by rival factions of the Ba’ath Party, which continues to espouse pan-Arabism and is organized in several other countries.

Decline


The Arab defeat by Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 in the 1967 Six Day War and the inability of pan-Arabist governments to generate economic growth severely damaged the credibility of pan-Arabism as a relevant ideology. "By the mid-1970s," according to The Continuum Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East, "the idea of Arab unity became less and less apparent in Arab politics, though it remained a wishful goal among the masses."

The Egyptians' attachment to pan-Arabism was particularly questioned after the Six-Day War. Nasser had overplayed his hand in trying to form a pan-Arab hegemony under himself. Thousands of Egyptians had lost their lives and the country became disillusioned with Arab politics. The Camp David Accords
Camp David Accords
The Camp David Accords were signed by Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on September 17, 1978, following thirteen days of secret negotiations at Camp David. The two framework agreements were signed at the White House, and were witnessed by United States...

 between Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and Israel in 1978 further fractured the Arabic-speaking countries. Nasser's successor Anwar Al Sadat, both through public policy and his peace initiative with Israel, revived an uncontested Egyptian orientation, unequivocally asserting that only Egypt and Egyptians were his responsibility. The terms "Arab", "Arabism," and "Arab unity" became conspicuously absent.

By the late 1980s, pan-Arabism began to be eclipsed by both nationalist and Islamist ideologies. In the 1990s, many voiced their opposition to pan-Arabism. For instance, some Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

is viewed Iraq's invasion of Kuwait
Invasion of Kuwait
The Invasion of Kuwait, also known as the Iraq-Kuwait War, was a major conflict between the Republic of Iraq and the State of Kuwait, which resulted in the seven-month long Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, which subsequently led to direct military intervention by United States-led forces in the Gulf...

 in 1990 as caused by an urge for pan-Arabism.

Egyptian critics of Arab nationalism contend that it has worked to erode and/or relegate native Egyptian identity by superimposing only one aspect of Egypt's culture. These views and sources for collective identification in the Egyptian state are captured in the words of a linguistic anthropologist who conducted fieldwork in Cairo:

See also

  • 2010-11 Arab World Protests
  • Arab Federation
    Arab Federation of Iraq and Jordan
    The Arab Federation of Iraq and Jordan was a short-lived country that was formed in 1958 from the union of Iraq and Jordan. Although the name implies a federal structure, it was de facto a confederation....

  • Arab Islamic Republic
    Arab Islamic Republic
    The Arab Islamic Republic was a proposed unification of Tunisia and Libya in 1974, agreed upon by Libyan ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi and Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba. The proposal was never implemented.- Regional context :...

  • Arab Maghreb Union
    Arab Maghreb Union
    The Arab Maghreb Union is a trade agreement aiming for economic and some sort of future political unity in North Africa between the countries Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania...

  • Arab socialism
    Arab socialism
    Arab socialism is a political ideology based on an amalgamation of Pan-Arabism and socialism. Arab socialism is distinct from the much broader tradition of socialist thought in the Arab world, which predates Arab socialism by as much as fifty years...

  • Federation of Arab Republics
    Federation of Arab Republics
    The Federation of Arab Republics was an abortive attempt by Libya's Muammar Gaddafi to merge Libya, Egypt, and Syria, creating an United Arab state...

  • Pan-Arab colors
    Pan-Arab colors
    The Pan-Arab colors are black, white, green, and red. They were first combined in the flag of the Arab Revolt in 1916. They are used currently in the flags of Jordan, Kuwait, Palestinian Authority, Sahrawi Republic, Sudan, Libya and the United Arab Emirates. A sub-set of the Pan-Arab colors are...

  • Pan Arab Games
    Pan Arab Games
    The Arab Games are a regional multi-sport event held between nations from the Arab World. They are organized by the Union of Arab National Olympic Committees. The first Games took place in 1953 in Alexandria, Egypt. Intended to be held every four years since, political turmoil as well as financial...

  • Pan-Islamism
    Pan-Islamism
    Pan-Islamism is a political movement advocating the unity of Muslims under one Islamic state — often a Caliphate. As a form of religious nationalism, Pan-Islamism differentiates itself from other pan-nationalistic ideologies, for example Pan-Arabism, by excluding culture and ethnicity as primary...

  • Pan-Turkism
    Pan-Turkism
    Pan-Turkism is a nationalist movement that emerged in 1880s among the Turkic intellectuals of the Russian Empire, with the aim of cultural and political unification of all Turkic peoples.-Name:...

  • United Arab Republic
    United Arab Republic
    The United Arab Republic , often abbreviated as the U.A.R., was a sovereign union between Egypt and Syria. The union began in 1958 and existed until 1961, when Syria seceded from the union. Egypt continued to be known officially as the "United Arab Republic" until 1971. The President was Gamal...


External links