The war on Iraq was probably the final test case for the allegiance of the Arab masses towards the idea of Arab nationalism (pan Arabism). Arab nationalism gained prominence during the reign of Jamal Abdul Nasser in Egypt during the 1950s. In 1958, Egypt formed the Untied Arab Republic with Syria and North Yemen, which was an attempt to kick-start the process of unification in the entire Arab world. However, the experiment collapsed shortly after in 1961, subsequently the ideology of Nasser began to wane rapidly. The defeat in the 1967 war against Israel sealed its fate permanently.
The other main strand of Arab Nationalism was initiated in Syria in the 1940s by Michel Afleq, Zaki al-Arsuzi and Salah al-Din al-Bitar. They established the Baath (renaissance) Socialist party, its operation was extended to Iraq, with its slogan of: "Wahdah”, “Hurriyah”, “Ishtirrakiyah" (Unity, Freedom, Socialism). The party took power in Iraq and Syria in 1963. Thereafter, internal feud led to the bitter rivalry between the two countries. Consequentially, this made it difficult for the parties to appeal or preach to the rest Arab world for greater unity under its leadership. The subsequent defeat in 1967 and 1973 war, coupled with the lack of economic progress, marginalised the Parties to the extent that they became insignificant in the eyes of the Arab masses.
The idea of Arab nationalism was initiated in the last 100 years of the declining Ottoman state. Much of it originated in the writings of the Christian Levantine writers, at the time it was used as a weapon of disintegration against the Ottoman State. The European colonisers aided in its propagation, in parallel with promoting Turkish nationalism. The plan bore the fruits as deep schisms were created between the Arabs and the Turks. Therefore, the Arabs revolted, which contributed towards the defeat of the Ottoman State in the First World War. Then the Turks followed by symbolically abolishing the Ottoman state in 1924.
Arab nationalism by its very nature is exclusive to the Arabs and has created a line of segregation with the rest of the Muslim non-Arabs. In pursing Arab unity, it has naturally led to discrimination and marginalisation of the Muslim non-Arabs. The end result has been the weakening of the Islamic world as a cohesive force. No wonder it is being eaten into, piece-by-piece, by the greedy Capitalist vultures.
Europeans are forging unity despite having differences in language, culture and religion with deep historical feuds. Simultaneously the Arabs, despite possessing a common language, religion and culture are moving in the opposite direction, as each state attempts to uphold the new forms of national identity engineered by the former colonialist. Yet, this is supposed to be an anti-Imperialist programme to create the Arab revival! It is pertinent to note, that the colonialists of today are enthusiastic in sowing the seeds of further division (Shia, Sunni, Salafi, Turk and Kurd) in the Arab/Islamic world whilst they are busy forging greater unity in their own lands.
Therefore, it necessitates to pose the question, what does ‘Arab nationalism’ really represent! The declared objectives are to create unity, economic and social progress, eventually enabling the Arabs to flex their muscle as a block to liberate Palestine. The basis of this unification is the common Arab heritage, language and culture manifested in the Arab civilisation.
A cursory examination of the Arab history informs us that nothing significant existed prior to the advent of Islam with the exception of their mastery over the Arabic language. Geographically they were confined to the Arabian Peninsula, consisting primarily of nomadic tribes and some cities. It was only through the Islamic conquest and conversion that gave the Arabs its present day homeland from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic coast. Only during the Islamic rule they (Arabs) were able to advance in every sphere of human life, from the arts to the sciences, creating the first and the only civilisation. Which contributed significantly towards the European renaissance, despite the assertion of Kilroy-Silk and his ilk.
Therefore, it is simply absurd to contemplate reviving the Arab civilisation, whilst excluding Islam. The essence of being an Arab is intrinsically linked with Islam. Thus, revival of the Arabs in any sense means a revival of Islam. The Arab civilisation is rather a subset of the greater Islamic civilisation, which encompassed Arabs and non-Arabs. It is utter stupidity for the Arab nationalists to attempt to ‘Arabise’ an idea by simply attaching the word ‘Arab’. Conversely Islam demolishes the raison detre of the Arab nationalists, since Islam negates the racist notion of putting allegiance to a certain race above the divine revel! ation. Consequently, the Arab nationalists have been forced to marginalise Islam in order to maintain self-preservation. This has been on the main problems for the Arab nationalists, so they manipulated history, projecting Islam as a product of the Arabs as oppose to the Arabs being a product of Islam.
The entire gamut of Arab nationalism has the common central message of secularism, which presents another predicament. The idea does not have any origin in the Arabic/Islamic culture and values, nor is it the product of the Arab minds; rather it has been the wholesale adoption of an European idea. Note most of the founders and thinkers of the Arab nationalist movements have been educated with European thoughts. Therefore, there is noting inherently ‘Arab’ about these movements, which are, suppose to revive the Arab civilisation. Further evidence of this imitation is that the Arab nationalists have tended to reflect the idea(s) of the dominant foreign powers of the time. Therefore, not surprisingly many are calling for the right wing, Capitalist orientated brand of Arab nationalism today, reflecting the American influence. It is for this reason at various times the Arab nationalists have made superficial references to Islamic heritage and culture to conceal its foreign identity and to acquire support of the unsuspecting conservative Arab masses.
Now let us examine their track record in some of the areas. One of the fundamental aims was to remove Israel. It failed miserably in this cause, despite the overwhelming size of the Arab population and its rich resources. As they say, no use in having the ingredients without the chef. The chef is the one who would unite the Arabs into a cohesive force. In fact, the stone throwing Palestinian children, motivated by Islam have provided greater heroic resistance. Overall the relative power of Israel has increased in the region, particularly as the Jewish lobby was able to influence the US in dismantling the Iraqi military capability.
In the sphere of economics is a greater disaster. Despite possessing such valuable raw materials, the Arab world has a poor economic infrastructure. Most of the resources have been squandered into palaces, imported goods, shopping centres and of course the few cosmetic mosques. Japan is one of the largest economies in the world, relies upon the base material of oil of which it posses none. Hence it would fair to say that despite being gifted with this precious commodity of oil not much has been achieved. All the Arab nations combined exports very little. Most of its investors prefer to put their money in European and US markets. Lacking the economic infra structure and political vision, the Arab world has not been able to develop its military capability other than what has been imported.
There is also virtually no rule of law. It is particularly bad in countries like Saudi Arabia and the Arab Bantustan (Gulf Countries). Anyone not belonging to the ‘royal’ family or having good connection can be arbitrarily imprisoned, tortured and even executed. Many Palestinians will testify that they have greater rights in Israel than in many of these Arab countries. It can be fatal, if you happen to be from a poor Muslim or non-Muslim country, but a native European or a US citizen most likely would get a special pardon from the ‘King’, as the track record clearly shows. In general nepotism, bribery and corruption is rife. The Arabs never experienced a medieval period (the dark ages) in the European sense, and perhaps the current period would best fit to be described as the Arab medieval period.
As for unity, the only experiment between Egypt and Syria did not even take off. Much of the rhetoric of unity has been proven to be hollow. Nasser, Hafiz Al-Assad, Saddam, and including the schizophrenic clown of Libya epitomises failure of the rhetoric of Arab Nationalism. On the contrary, the Arabs have excelled in disunity, demonstrated by the circus of their leaders during the eleventh-hour meeting before the recent war on Iraq.
The main ‘achievement’ of Arab nationalists has been the series of treacherous acts. Egypt the founding father led the way when she signed the peace treaty with Israel in 1979. Subsequently other Arab countries like Jordan, Palestine (PLO recognition) and Morocco have followed the example of Egypt. Every other Arab country secretly yarns to sign the peace treaty with Israel but for the fear of the backlash from within. Likewise, during both the Gulf wars, every Arab country was either purchased like cheap prostitutes or simply bullied into submission. Some of them behaved worse than prostitutes. Instead of being paid, they paid the Americans to bomb the Iraqis without reservation or remorse. Turning the entire country into a US military base, all that remains is legal ‘fatwa’ to ‘service’ the US soldiers by providing bars, brothels and of course the liberated women performing the lap dances or belly dances for them.
The failure of Arab nationalism has finally manifested in the Arab world shrinking in size and influence. Libya is now seeking the African identity. Which may encourage other African Arab states to follow the same path in the future. The Kurds in Iraq isolated by the message of the Arab nationalists have been forced to align with the extreme Kurdish nationalists, who are now sponsored by the US. They lived amongst the Arabs for centuries, and produced the likes of Salahuddin Ayubi but thanks to the poison of Arab nationalism, many of them are seeking a separate homeland. There is already discussion on dividing Saudi Arabia into three blocks. Who are its greatest proponents and encouraging the US, no surprise the pro-Israeli ‘Jews’.
The Arab world now faces a turning point in its History with the destruction of Iraq. So, in which direction they will look? Many of the academics inspired by the US are calling for the full adoption of democracy and capitalism shaping every sphere of society. Bill Clinton’s recent speech in Saudi Arabia urging the Saudis to conform to the ‘tide of change’ is a veiled threat. Either embrace the Jerry Springer hamburger culture willingly or be prepared to swallow it by the force, as we have just demonstrated in Iraq. Bill Clinton addressed the women issue in Saudi Arabia but does he have any moral authority to talk on the subject after his encounter with Monica? Or was he proposing the liberation of the Saudi women by emulating the likes of Monica Lewinsky?
There are two possible choices. If the Arabs want to revive themselves as Arabs, then necessities examining the meaning of Arab, which has already been demonstrated to be a product of Islam. Therefore, selecting this option will led to the call for the return of the Islamic State (Khilafah). Which has a genuine track record for creating Arab unity and progress.
Alternatively they can adopt the American inspired Capitalism and liberalism whilst maintaining Arabic/Islamic pretensions. This will cease to have any meaning, despite attaching the word ‘Arab’. A belly dancer is no different to a lap top dancer. They serve the same purpose. There is no difference between the seedy world of Christina Aguilera, Madonna or Haifa Wahbi.
If however, the former path of reviving Arab/Islam were being contemplated, then this would naturally require the Arab masses to give full support to the Islamic movements. It would also require a change of attitude towards the Miskeen or the Abid (derogatory reference to the poorer Muslims by the oil-rich illiterate Bedouins). These poor Muslims love Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem more then oil, given the opportunity they would shed their blood, like the Palestinian youths to protect it. The Mujahideen are the ones providing real resistance in Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan. They were not the ones fattened up over the years on State salary only to run like cowards from the battlefield. Despite their genuine faults and mistakes, no one can doubt their sincerity, integrity and their proven track record in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Those Arab regimes and nationalist ought to remember, that it is only a matter of time when the US comes knocking on their doors with the same demand for ‘democracy’ and ‘liberty’, which would translate into their demise, their children would go back to herding goats in the desert.