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Arab nationalism

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Arab nationalism map, 2022

Arab nationalism or pan-Arab nationalism, is a political ideology and movement that stands for unity of the Arab people. The aim of Arab nationalism is to unite the countries in the Middle East and North Africa and together form one strong Arab nation, by working together in the field of military and culture. The idea is also that the same language is spoken throughout the nation.[1]

Arab nationalism originated in response to the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of European colonialism in the Arab world. [2] The Arab nationalists were also against the establishment of the State of Israel and Zionism. They saw this as a threat to their own Arab territory. Arab nationalist are also against the Western cultural and political influences in the Middle East, which stem from former Western colonies in the Middle East. [3]

Arab nationalism also had setbacks and challenges. For example, there were huge divisions and different Arab states had different ambitions. The Six-Day War of 1967 was also a major setback for Arab nationalism.[4] This was due to the fact that the agreements between the Arab states were not kept. After this war, state nationalism emerged. This meant a nationalism of Arab nation-states for their own state and not one big state.

History[change | change source]

After the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the end of World War II, Arab nationalism became very big. The reason for this was that England and France divided the provinces of the Ottoman Empire among themselves, while there was promised on an Arab state.[1] This stirred up anger among the Arabs.

Rise of Arab Nationalism[change | change source]

In 1911, Arab thinkers and leaders from the Levant started a small group called "al-Fatat" in Paris.[5] Their goal was to make the Arab nation modern. At first, al-Fatat wanted more freedom within the Ottoman state. They did not want full independence. In 1913, al-Fatat held the Arab Congress in Paris to talk about reforms with other Arabs.[5] They asked that Arab soldiers in the Ottoman army serve only in Arab regions unless there was a war. [6]

The Ottoman rulers stopped al-Fatat's activities. The group went underground.[3] They then asked for complete independence and unity for Arab regions. Arab nationalism did not affect most Arabs at that time. They stayed loyal to the Ottoman Empire. The British helped the Sharif of Mecca to start the Arab Revolt during World War I. After the Ottomans lost, the Sharif's son, Faysal ibn al-Husayn, and his forces took Damascus in 1918.[7] Faysal and many Iraqi thinkers and officers joined al-Fatat. This group helped create a new Arab state in the Levant and Hejaz.[7]

Damascus became the center of the Arab nationalist movement. [1]Other cities like Jerusalem, Beirut, and Baghdad also supported the movement. Tensions grew within the movement. Older nationalists from Syrian families clashed with younger nationalists close to Faysal. These younger members of al-Fatat formed the Arab Independence Party (al-Istiqlal) in February 1919. They wanted unity and full independence.[1]

During World War I, Britain supported Arab nationalism to weaken the Ottoman Empire.[8] They promised a state that included the Arabian Peninsula and the Fertile Crescent. But the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between Britain and France divided the region between them. During the interwar years, Arab nationalism became a key movement against European rule.[1]

Growth of the Movement[change | change source]

Arab revolts against European powers happened after the British and French mandates. In 1920, anger at British rule led to the Iraqi revolt. Britain kept control, but its role became mostly advisory. In 1925, the Druze in southern Syria, led by Sultan al-Atrash, revolted against French rule. The French bombed Damascus, killing thousands. They later took steps towards Syrian independence.

In Egypt, revolts against British control in 1919 led to Egypt's independence in 1922. But the British military still had influence. The independence of Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and North Yemen encouraged Arab nationalists to oppose colonial powers.

The first big pan-Arab meeting was in 1931 in Jerusalem. Arab delegates talked about Arab matters and made a pan-Arabist covenant. It said Arab countries formed an indivisible whole. They rejected colonialism and sought full independence within one unity.

In French Algeria, the Association of Algerian Muslim Ulama, founded in 1931, became a major Arab nationalist movement. Its motto was "Islam is our religion, Algeria is our homeland, Arabic is our language." The association taught many Algerians in Arabic and supported Arab causes, including solidarity with Palestinians. In 1955, it joined the National Liberation Front's fight against French rule.

Plans for a pan-Arab conference stopped when Faysal died in 1933. The Arab Independence Party kept working for Arab unity and resistance against British rule and increased Jewish settlement in Palestine.[9]

Arab nationalist movements grew in the 1930s and 1940s. They led revolts and formed groups that wanted to unite and strengthen Arab nations against colonial powers.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Arab nationalism reached its peak under the leadership of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. His goal was to unite the Arab world into an Arab nation state.[1][2][8] After 1967, Arab nationalism hit rock bottom. The Arab forces lost in the Six-Day War against Israel. [2] The promises of cooperation and unity against external threats had not been kept, leading to a loss in the war for the Arab states. After the loss, there were many internal divisions and state nationalism emerged, weakening Arab nationalism in the following decades.[2][1]

Fall of Arab Nationalism[change | change source]

The loss of the 1967 Six-Day War against Israel was the beginning of the fall of Arab Nationalism.[10] Arab nationalism started to weaken after this loss. A lot of people believed the movement had become politically weak. From the mid-1960s, internal conflicts and divisions damaged the movement even more . The Arab Nationalist Movement shifted from Nasserism to Marxism-Leninism and eventually breaks up. In 1966, the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party split into factions in Baghdad and Damascus.[11]

There were a lot of reasons why Arab nationalism fell. One of the biggest reason was the resolution of many political issues that had powered nationalism in the 1950s and early 1960s. The failure of secular (non-religious states) in economic, social, and state-building roles also played a part.[10] Poor foreign policies led to a rejection of nationalism, socialism, and revolutionary ideas in many Arab countries.[12]

Regional loyalties weakened the movement. Iraqi President Abd al-Karim Qasim's "Iraq first" policy and the suspicion of Arab unity by groups like the Kurds and Shia Arabs in Iraq were important factors.[13] The rise of Islamic revival weakened Arab nationalism even more.[14] Many Islamists were against nationalism, feeling it had no place in Islam. The movement's lack of interest in pluralism, separation of powers, and political freedom also hurt it.[14]

Despite these challenges, some ideas and goals of Islamist movements looked like those of earlier nationalists. Islamists copied parts of the nationalist agenda. But, in the 21st century, after the Arab Spring, support for Arab nationalism and local nationalist movements declined even more. The movement no longer played an important role in new struggles for the loyalty of Arab citizens.After the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of European colonies in the Middle East and North Africa at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, The Arab nationalism gained greater prominence in the Arab world. The origins of Arab nationalism were in Greater Syria. [15] The region had a feudal structure in the Ottoman Empire. Because there was often conflict between different dynasties and the Ottoman Empire, this led to fraternization among the Arabs. An important early thinker is Sati' al-Husri. He called for all Arabs to unite together and form a nation-state. This was after the Ottoman Empire weakened.[2]

After the rise of Arab nationalism, it declined after a few decades and the failure to unite Arab societies behind the Arab nationalism vision led to a slow downfall of nationalism.[2][8][16] But while Arab nationalism may have declined in its political strength, it is still a strong ideology and this can be seen especially in conflicts with external threats.[1][15]

Bibliography[change | change source]

  • Choueiri, Youssef (2000). Arab Nationalism – A History: Nation and State in the Arab World. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-21729-9.
  • Dawisha, Adeed (2016). Arab Nationalism in the Twentieth Century: From Triumph to Despair. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-16915-6.
  • Khalidi, Rashid (1993). The Origins of Arab Nationalism. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-07435-3.
  • Lybarger, Loren D. (2018). Identity and Religion in Palestine : The Struggle between Islamism and Secularism in the Occupied Territories.
  • Romero, J. (2015). Arab Nationalism and the Arab Union of 1958. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 42(2), 179–199.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Dawisha, Adeed (2003). "Arab Nationalism In the twentieth century" (PDF).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Shoko, Watanabe (March 2020). "Arab Nationalism and State Formation: The Maghrib Experiences" (PDF). IDE Research Bulletin.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Arab Nationalism: The Politics of History and Culture in the Modern Middle East". Routledge & CRC Press. Retrieved 2024-05-14.
  4. "International Journal of Middle East Studies: Volume 43 - Relocating Arab Nationalism | Cambridge Core". Cambridge Core. Retrieved 2024-05-22.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Abu-Lebdeh, H.S (1997). Conflict and peace in the Middle East : national perceptions and United States-Jordan relations. Verenigde staten: University Press of America. ISBN 978-0-7618-0812-1.
  6. Romero, Juan (2015-04-03). "Arab Nationalism and the Arab Union of 1958". British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. 42 (2): 179–199. doi:10.1080/13530194.2014.994317. ISSN 1353-0194.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Dawn, C. Ernest (2000), "The Quality of Arab Nationalism", Arab Nation, Arab Nationalism, London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, pp. 41–61, ISBN 978-1-349-62767-7, retrieved 2024-05-30
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi, Yalova (2017). "Arab Nationalism from a Historical Perspective: A Gradual Demise?".
  9. Sharfman, Daphna (2014-02-15). Palestine in the Second World War: Strategic Plans and Political Dilemmas -- The Emergence of a New Middle East. Liverpool University Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctv333ksn6. ISBN 978-1-78284-078-7.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Khalidi, Rashid (2012), Shlaim, Avi; Louis, Wm Roger (eds.), "The 1967 War and the Demise of Arab Nationalism: Chronicle of a Death Foretold", The 1967 Arab-Israeli War: Origins and Consequences, Cambridge Middle East Studies, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 264–284, ISBN 978-1-107-00236-4, retrieved 2024-05-22
  11. Ben-Tzur, Avraham (1968-07). "The Neo-Ba'th Party of Syria". Journal of Contemporary History. 3 (3): 180. doi:10.1177/002200946800300310. ISSN 0022-0094. {{cite journal}}: Check date values in: |date= (help)
  12. Khalidi, R; Shlaim, A. (2012). The 1967 War and the Demise of Arab Nationalism: Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Cambridge: Cambridge Middle East Studies. pp. 264-284.
  13. Wolfe-Hunnicutt, Brandon (2021-06-01). The Paranoid Style in American Diplomacy: Oil and Arab Nationalism in Iraq. Stanford University Press. doi:10.1515/9781503627925. ISBN 978-1-5036-2792-5.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Lybarger, Loren D. (2007-12-31). Identity and Religion in Palestine: The Struggle between Islamism and Secularism in the Occupied Territories. Princeton University Press. doi:10.1515/9780691187327. ISBN 978-0-691-18732-7.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Tibi, Bassam (1990), Tibi, Bassam; Farouk-Sluglett, Marion; Sluglett, Peter (eds.), "The Genesis of Arab Nationalism", Arab Nationalism: A Critical Enquiry, London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, pp. 95–122, doi:10.1007/978-1-349-20802-9_6, ISBN 978-1-349-20802-9, retrieved 2024-05-10
  16. "Rise of Arab nationalism". New Zealand History. 30 July 2014.