In the last couple of years the rise of Far Right politicians and on-line entities have not overlooked the Middle East……
The rise of hardcore Right wing pursuits has made the world an interesting place…at least if you like foreign policy and international situations….(like I said not for all people)……
The assassination of Jordanian writer and left-wing activist Nahed Hattar at the hands of an individual who was grieving the death of a loved one and unable to avenge their death is not separate from the context of the tense and polarised environment prevalent in the Arab world. It is a practical translation of the spread of the hateful and exclusionary rhetoric which has become a common denominator in the official and unofficial Arab discussions and debates. This incident is also not unrelated to similar incidents occurring, albeit in different contexts, such as General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s adoption of racist right-wing terms and his speech in America, in which he accuses Islam of violence and terrorism. He is not ashamed of using the term “radical Islam” which President Barack Obama refuses to use to describe the acts of violence and terrorism committed by the bitter individuals who lost loved ones whose ideas and means are not very different to those who assassinated Nahed Hattar.
But first what is Arab Nationalism?
Arab Nationalism is an ideology which rose to prominence in the 1950s as Arab Nations began to gain independence from former colonial powers. The premise of Arab Nationalism is that there should be political, cultural, religious, and historical unity among the people of Arab nations. Arab nationalism’s main goal was to achieve independence of Western influence for all Arab countries. However, Arab Nationalism became the basis for alienation and loss of national identity for many indigenous Jews and other minorities of Arab countries.
Once many Arab countries achieved their independence from European colonial powers, the ideology of Arab Nationalism inspired clauses of many constitutions of new Arab countries stating that Arabic was the particular Arab nation’s official language and the the source of all law was the religion of Islam.
By the late 1960’s this nationalism was on the wane….
It took some time for the light to go out on Arab nationalism, but its power generator went down in June 1967. After the Six-Day War, the slide of Arab nationalism toward political marginality became irreversible. And what finished it was the fact that Egypt, under Gamal Abdel Nasser, lost the war. Egypt’s devastating defeat was Arab nationalism’s mortal loss, for the fate of Arab nationalism during the struggles, triumphs, and reversals of the 1950s and 1960s was inexorably linked to Egypt and its charismatic president.
Fast forward to the present……the Middle East is awash in political entities all claiming the mantle of Arab Nationalism…..ISIS, AQ and like organizations……the populations are being pulled in too many directions and in doing so the fabric of the region is being ripped apart.
A new social contract between the people and the leaders needs to be formulated……
Long before the pro-democracy protests in Syria descended into massacres at the hands of the regime, and before Egypt moved away from its democratic movement and reinstated a rule by the military-security complex following the coup of 2013, a shockwave echoed throughout the Arab World.
The pro-democracy uprisings that swept across the region pushed forward debates about the relationship between citizens, societies, and states. They also made clear the need to forge a new social contract between ruled and rulers that promises to transcend the persistent crises of development, good governance, and the rule of law.
Back in 2011 and 2012, there was no denying the root causes of these crises. The high rates of poverty and unemployment were responsible for turning attention towards the suicide of Mohamed Bouazizi that sparked the anger in the streets of Tunisia and ended the rule of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
In case you are in the dark about the term “Social Contract“……..maybe I can help……
You’re likely already familiar with the concept of contracts. Marriage, citizenship, and employment are all forms of contracts. Put simply, a contract is an agreement between two parties. If one party violates the terms of the agreement, the contract is no longer valid.
Societies are controlled by governments. This is the starting point for discussing social contract theory. Thinkers who believe in this theory argue that people benefit from living together in countries, kingdoms, or under other types of governmental oversight. Living in society, however, requires rules and laws. Societies are the result of compromises, and social contracts provide the framework for how people and governments interact.
Individuals who live within a social structure gain protection from outsiders who may seek to harm them. In return, they must give up certain freedoms (like the ability to commit crimes without being punished), and they should contribute to making society stable, wealthy, and happy.
The Middle East is long overdue for a re-set. But what shape will it take? Will Arab nationalism return? Or will some try democracy?
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