Friday, February 25, 2011

Rejuvenation of Arab nationalism and/or identity

I have argued in public speeches (although I have not published it yet) about "the rejuvenation of Arab nationalism" in the wake of the war on Iraq back in 1991.  I still stand by my thesis and now find ample evidence of it.  This is an unreported story of the developments in the Arab world: how the events in Tunisia have affected every Arab country in one way or another, and only Arab countries.  How the slogans are being changed from maghrib to mashriq without an organizational orchestration.  Tunisia is leading the way: it is setting the tone and pace of the uprisings.  I am watching live footage of demonstrations in Tunisia today: and the slogans could not be clearer: a voice of Arab nationalist solidarity.   There are flags of most Arab countries in the protests in Tunisia today, and as soon as Bin Ali fled, Tunisians were chanting about the "liberation of Palestine."  Egyptian protesters have been more cautious in their collective action because: 1) Egyptian nationalism is strong and have been nurtured for decades by Sadat and Mubarak AND Camp David; 2) Egyptian protesters are keen on not antagonizing the military at this point for many reasons, and the Arab nationalist manifestation would translate into undermining that precious--by US/Israeli standards--treaty.  But these are revolutionary time: Alexander Kerensky is barely remembered in the Russian Revolution.  Ahmad Shafiq will be a footnote to the story.  The Tunisian protesters will also lead the way in how they keep pushing: after they achieve victories, they push even more. Now they want to bring down the cabinet and to create a constitutional convention.  Finally: what is Aljazeera if not an Arab nationalist phenomenon?  Also, note that Islamist from Tunisia to Morocco and to Egypt are now increasingly speaking about the "Arab ummah".