The rise and fall of pan-Arabism

Authored by: Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou

Routledge Handbook of South–South Relations

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138652002
eBook ISBN: 9781315624495
Adobe ISBN:


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Between the middle of the 19th and the late-middle of the 20th century, pan-Arabism rose and fell. Constitutive of both a discourse and a practice, this ideology profoundly and lastingly impacted the Arab world. The more formal pursuit of pan-Arabism was through the project of the League of Arab States. Pan-Arabism was therefore pursued politically. It persisted more as a sentiment than an actual project, and even less a politically viable one. Pan-Arabism was ultimately inconclusive and remains elusive. Though its appeal subsisted after the 1970s, it has, in effect, lost since then its mobilising force and appeal as a political project in the region, raising the question of whether it was essentially but a phase in the political history of the region. Pan-Arabism was able to grab sporadically the imagination of Arab societies and at times move them anew in the 1980s and 1990s and, indeed, in a different form during the 2011 Arab Spring – never, however, doing so with the acuity it displayed in its early days. In the most evident limitation of its manifestation as a South–South project able to transcend the Arab region, pan-Arabism was never able to make significant political connections beyond the Middle East and North Africa.

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