Monday, June 9, 2014


A while back I remember reading many articles about Arab unity from various sources and with different views as to how it should look like. It is one of the oldest topics dating back a century or more, even before the establishment of modern states in the Arab region.

In a conversation I had with some of my friends, one of my friends was against Arab unity considering it to be racist and unfair to certain groups within the Arab world who do not identify themselves as Arab, while the rest of us who were supportive of Arab unity each had a different view regarding that issue.

Some believe because Arabs have a common language and history that it should be the foundation on which unity can be achieved. While the others believe that the problem is not the way you go about dealing with Arab unity, it’s that other major powers in the world won’t allow it.

Personally, I don’t agree with either view. I believe it’s a goal that we as Arabs can work for, and that efforts of unity should take the European model as a successful example. It’s not a matter of wanting to unite it’s a matter of needing it and it’s better for us regardless of our differences. Therefore building a union on the basis of common political and economic interest. That said, a shared language and history will help facilitate the effort, though the problem with relying solely on that is simple, the recent shared history Arabs have is not perfect - to put it mildly - and the ancient history is just ancient and more things happened since then to divide than to unite us.

As for the language, Arabic have deteriorated into a gazillion dialects. Most countries have more than one dialect most people can’t understand when other Arabs talk. And it’s not only a matter of pronunciation either, dialects developed their own vocabulary and structures as well. Some people will say but despite all of that, “Fus'ha” or Standard Arabic is a shared language. That claim is partly true, though it neglects to mention that the vast majority of Arabs, the common people we can say, do not speak standard Arabic and can barely understand it, and that Standard Arabic is reserved to the educated elite a large part of which are shifting to other languages namely English and French.

The point I’m making is simple, once upon a time, Arabs had a shared language and history, arguably not anymore, but now mutual interests are still the same and there is a large room for economic co-operation which will serve as a good start for any Arab unity efforts.

The problem that faces Arabs now is that the so called "Arab Spring" has led us to more fragmentation and new challenges, a civil war raging in Syria, and problems in Tunisia and Egypt which keep them busy trying to achieve national unity again, to name a few. Talking about Arab unity at this time is getting a bit tiresome, repetitive and annoying, especially when it is limited to a mere recitation of the same historical and logical facts and arguments with the vast majority of writers only calling for unity, stopping short of providing any details or vision of how it should be done nationally or regionally.

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