Notes on Arab Nationalism in Post World War II Period

With the end of the Second World War the Arab Nationalism entered a new phase. The war ended dominance of Europe and provided a fillip to anti-colonial movement in the Arab world. Though the European powers like France and Britain were reluctant to withdraw from the Arab territories they were gradually compelled to withdraw.

For example, France tried to re-establish herself in Levant states of Syria and Lebanon, but had to evacuate these territories by the end of the following decade. Other Arab territories under French control like Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Libya also achieved their independence.

Likewise, Britain was also obliged to withdraw from Trans-Jordan in 1953 and granted her independence in 1956; Iraq became a sovereign state after the Baghdad Pact of 1955; Egypt freed herself from British occupation in 1954.

In the post-war period the nature of leadership in the Arab countries also underwent a change. The old guard nationalist leaders were replaced [by new and young leaders.

However, before the old guard nationalist leaders replaced by new leadership they made a bid in 1945 to organize six independent Arab states (Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Yemen) into a loose regional organization known as the League was [contrary to the hopes and aspirations of the Arab nationalists in so far it merely served to freeze the political status quo and strengthened the foreign political structure. It did not in any way provide a spring board towards Arab unity.

Though the League considerably declined in prestige after defeat in Palestine in 1948, still it continued to serve as a platform for discussion on common issues and rendered valuable services to the member’s states in the economic and cultural spheres.

The ideological cleavage which characterized the world politics in the post World War II period also gripped the Arab states and they came to le sharply divided on the basis of ideology, economic organization and ferial policy. As a result the Arab world, instead of being united, got divided into a number of states which were keen to “preserve their independence and resisted their submersion in the larger Arab whole.

Sharabi has rightly observed: “At no time in the past was the feeling of brotherhood so strong or the sentiment of Arab nationalism so warmly proclaimed; yet at no time in the past was the gulf between hope and fulfillment so vast and the realization of Arab unity so remote.”