The 21st century has witnessed what many would call a sharp decline in the strength and stability in governments promoting Arab nationalism. Whether Ba’athism, Nasserism or Libya’s unique Third International Theory, many of the regimes that were once bulwarks of the various ideologies of Pan-Arabism have either been destroyed or severely compromised.
It would be a fallacy to claim that these political systems had innate problems that were any different from the administerial issues innate in any modern political system. The fact remains that it was under the aforementioned systems that Arabs were able to achieve the maximum amount of success in the modern era.
Arab nationalism brought the Arab world into a position of dignity and independence after centuries of foreign rule, it gave rise to mass literacy, women’s rights, a technological boom, a monumental expansion in higher education, including in the sciences, increased health and living standards and created the infrastructure that much of the Arab world relies on to this day.
Arab nationalism did not fail the Arabs, the Arabs themselves became complacent while the enemies of the Arabs redoubled their efforts to undermine some of the best political and social systems that the modern Arab world has known.
Look what has replaced them.
Libya’s Third International System has been replaced by a combination of anarchy, piracy and Salifist terrorism.
Iraq’s unifying Ba’athism has given way to a seemingly unending sectarian conflict which has allowed ISIS to conquer Iraqi territory and has led to an illegal Turkish occupation on top of an extension of the US and western military presence in a country destroyed by the US and UK led 2003 invasion.
After being ruled by the dangerous extremists of Muslim Brotherhood from the summer of 2012 to the summer of 2013, Egypt has restored some semblance of normalcy, but President Sisi is a far, far cry from General Nasser.
And then of course one has Syria, the last genuine bastion of Arab-nationalism/Pan-Arabism.
With many now realising that President Bashar al-Assad will win his war against Salifist terrorism, many are looking towards the best way for him to ‘win the peace’.
With some, including many in Russia speaking about federating Syria, the polar opposite is needed. Far from making Syria less centralised, weaker and leaving her open to the prospect of Balkanisation, Syria must not only remain unified but must assert a leadership role for the entire Arab world.
President Assad has all ready risen to many challenges. Even those sceptical of his ability to fill his father’s considerably large shoes and beyond that, even some of his peaceful opponents, have come to recognise that Assad is something of a Syrian war hero.
Syria’s role after the conflict must be that of a state which re-ignites the flame of Arab nationalism across the Middle East.
Recently, President Assad met with a delegation of the Tunisian popular front, a secular, Arabist, socialist party. They congratulated the Syrian President for his steadfast and calm leadership in the war against terrorism and praised Syria for remaining true to the principles of Arab nationalism.
President Assad, like Nasser before him, must work to unite popular movements throughout the Arab world so that Arab governments will stop fighting among themselves and begin to form a united front against terrorism and also against western imperialism and economic meddling. If NATO/EU and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation can form a cooperative alliance so to can and must the Arabs.
The solution is not for Syria to become small within itself, but to become a colossus, a beacon for the Arab world. Arab nationalism has not died, it has not even been murdered. There has been an attempted murder and those carrying the murder weapons include the regimes of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, Turkey and the rest of the wider NATO sphere.
A renewed Arab nationalism could bring peace and prosperity back to the Arab world and in doing so make the entire world a safer place.
Some say that such ideas will be difficult to achieve. These are the same people who said that Assad would not be the President of the Syrian Arab Republic in 2017.