History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 2012: Q.8 (b)
Q.8 (b) “The Arab nationalism had a peculiar character. It stood for national independence of separate Arab states as well as for the unity of all Arabs irrespective of their state boundaries.” Examine.
Arab nationalism had its origin when Arab nations had revolted against Ottoman (Turkish) domination during the First World War. Arabs also questioned the right of the Sultan of Turkey to be Caliph or successor of the Prophet and many claimed that Hussein, the Grand Sheriff of Mecca and of the the purest Arab descent had better claim. It led to the emergence of a nascent Arab nationalism. This early Arab nationalism was limited to urban elites and they hardly succeeded in spreading their ideas to the wider Arab population. Even this Arab nationalism received a check at the peace settlement of 1919-20 when the victorious Allied Powers divided Arab areas among themselves, mainly France and Britain. Also
Arab Nationalism rose to prominence in real sense after the Second World War as Arab Nations began to gain independence from European colonial powers. Arab nationalism was transnational in principle but state-based nationalism in practice as it stood for national independence of separate Arab states as well as for the unity of all Arabs irrespective of their state boundaries
Arab nationalism had a character of unity of all Arabs irrespective of their state boundaries:
(1) The premise of Arab Nationalism was the political, economic cultural, religious, and historical unity among the people of Arab nations. Arabs have many things in common, like common Arabic language and common Islamic religion (except in few cases). Pan-Arab nationalism’s one of the main goal was to achieve independence of Western influence for all Arab countries.
(2) For political unity, Arab League was founded in 1945, which included Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Membership was later expanded. However, its achievements were limited due to internal conflicts.
(3) Pan-Arabism received a boost under the energetic leadership of Colonel Nasser of Egypt who had gained prestige in the Arab world after the 1956 Suez Crisis. In 1958 Syria joined Egypt to form the United Arab Republic with Nasser as President. However it lasted only until 1961 when Nasser tried to dominate the Union.
(4) After Nasser death in 1970, the Federation of Arab Republics was formed as a union between Egypt, Libya and Syria. Again in 1974, Muammar Gaddafi and Habib Bourgiba attempted their two nations of Libya and Tunisia to form the Arab Islamic Republic. All these attempts failed due to internal disputes among member states.
(5) Common enmity against Jewish state of Israel had also gave boost to Arab unity regardless of their boundaries.
Arab nationalism stood for national independence of separate Arab states:
In spite of their similarities, there were many differences among Arabs which hindered pan-Arabic nationalism and it was not possible for their complete agreement over the formation of an Arab state without any national boundary.
(1) Jordan and Saudi Arabia were ruled by conservative royal families who were criticised for being pro-western by other Arabic states like Egypt and Syria, which were pro-Arab nationalists as well as socialists.
(2) Personal interests of the ruling families also hindered pan-Arab unity as they would have lost their ruling power in case of any disappearance of the nationals boundaries.
(3) There were also historic variations among the Arab world. Many states like Egypt had ancient origin while states like Syria and Libya was modern creation by European powers.
(4) Unity based on the common enmity against Israel could not overcome internal disputes (like territorial disputes, political disputes etc) of the Arab states. Even Anti-Israel attitude of Arabic states were not consistent. Egypt had signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 which led to the expulsion of Egypt from the Arab League.
(5) Western Powers had also works towards disunity of Arabs by playing one state against other for the fulfilment of their own interests.