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. Continue reading
By all accounts, the new American administration is moving at a frenetic pace in trying to break the seemingly interminable deadlock between Israel and the Arab world. Recent press reports suggest that George Mitchell, President Obama’s special envoy, is reaching a critical point in his negotiations with the Netanyahu government and the Palestinian authority.
Amid this whirlwind of activity, it is fair to say that the average Arab’s assessment of US policy is rather puzzled. Arabs have gotten used to the US government’s absolute bias towards Israel, a bias that reached its ultimate climax under the forgettable George W. Bush.
President Obama has spoken a different language. He seems genuinely focused on trying to build a bridge over the long years of mistrust between the Arab masses and the US political establishment.
For those Arabs who believe in liberal democracy, the Lebanese election is a source of both inspiration and despair. For where else in the Arab world is there an election that will actually produce the government of the land? Where else would you have the type of real suspense that will grip Lebanon on the night of June 7th as the constitution of the new Lebanese government will be determined? Many Arabs can only be buoyed by democracy at work in this way.
Alright, some of you out there will point out that a similar election exists in Iraq. But we must say that there aren’t many in the Arab world who are ready to sing the praises of a fragile democracy that literally came on the backs of hundreds of thousands of lost innocent lives, not to mention that the war in question was brought about by a certain W, whom the world is desperate to consign to the dark corners of the brain’s memory.
On the other hand, there are the details of the Lebanese elections. And in so many of those details Arabs cannot help but find signs of concern.
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