Posted on Saturday, April 17th, 2010 at 9:01 am
Author: Nasser Ali Khasawneh
Gc contributor: & Dima Sari
Pan-Arabism, which crystallised during the 50’s and 60’s of the last century as a quasi secular socialist movement is, by all accounts, dead. The Arab Intelligentsia has grieved and mourned for the last four decades the premature death of a promising progressive movement. Arab unity movements, from the ocean to the ocean, have been spiralling downwards towards oblivion.
Far from taking any steps towards institutionalized political unity, the Arabs of today appear incapable of reaching any agreement in response to any of the serious and dangerous situations facing the Arabs collectively. Any follower of mediatised intra-Arab political or social debates would note the absurd pattern where the majority of debates amongst Arab representatives turn into un-intelligible disputes, worthy only of sighs of frustration and disbelief.
The divergence in interests combined with an inability to communicate has rendered the thought of mere collaboration between Arabs naïve and utopian.
The impotence of the Arabs in Palestine, Iraq, Sudan and now Yemen has saddened and frustrated generations, leading them either to utmost indifference or, more seriously, to religious fanaticism.
Whilst we are aware that the depressed tone of this article so far would appeal to many of our cynical readers, our actual purpose is to show that the spirit of Arab Renaissance still exists and is capable of making a major comeback.
The first Arab Renaissance started in the second half of the Nineteenth century as a corollary to the cultural and educational awareness raised after Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt and the contact with the western world. A significant Arab movement led by Sherif Hussein of Mecca grew under the shadow of the First World War. It did not however survive the Ottoman Empire and disappeared with the British and French division and dominance of the Arab world. A more mature Renaissance movement saw the light in the 1950’s focusing on the struggle against the establishment of Israel and the support of national independent movements growing in the “post colonial” countries.
The death of Jamal Abdul Nasser followed by the Camp David accord in 1978 ended a movement which could not survive with Egypt out of the equation. The military resistance to the Israeli invasion in Lebanon in the summer of 1982 followed by the First and Second Palestinian Intifada in 1987 and 2000 is considered by certain authors as the Third Arab Renaissance movement.
According to Issam Noman, a Lebanese politician and thinker, the Third Renaissance has progressed to a new civilized project, in line with the globalisation movement of the 21st Century. A project, which according to Noman, should be based on“mutual exchange, the removal of constraints and borders amongst countries, people and cultures in response to the telecommunication and technological revolution.”
You can read this article in full on ArabComment.
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