This paper provides a reading of the current Arab scene with a view to understanding the reasons for its present frustrating and depressing decline. The establishment of the Arab League in 1945 embodied the birth of the modern Arab regional system. The rise of a period of pan-Arab nationalism saw numerous successes for the Arab system and possibilities for achieving Arab unity. However, this was followed by the defeat of the 1967 war, inter-Arab conflicts, the other setbacks for pan-Arabism and increasing foreign penetration, particularly by the United States, Israel, Turkey and Iran. This foreign interference, increasing terrorism and the rise of sectarian and ethnic divisions now threaten the integrity of the Arab system as well as the Arab identity. The Arab system and the Arab League are failing to tackle these threats effectively and the League has made decisions that have had serious repercussions for many critical Arab issues. The Arab Spring represented a hope for a renaissance of the Arab system, but in some cases it has worsened foreign penetration and caused further instability. This paper proposes that it is necessary to examine the features of the Arab scene in order to understand its predicament and reflect on the prospects for this decline to be exacerbated or contained. The conclusion looks at several possible future scenarios for the Arab scene.
Introduction to a general reading of the Arab scene
This paper was originally presented at the conference ‘The Future of Change in the Arab World’, organized by the Centre for Arab Unity Studies (CAUS) in collaboration with the Swedish Institute at Alexandria and held in Beirut, Lebanon, 9–12 November 2015.
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Ahmad Yousef Ahmad; Introduction to a general reading of the Arab scene. Contemporary Arab Affairs 1 October 2016; 9 (4): 493–510. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/17550912.2016.1201932
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