Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Who's Interested In Arabism Today?
By Tariq Alhomayed (Editor-In-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat)
This opinion was published in Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday 26/10/2010
An interesting report by the "Washington Post" which was published by our newspaper yesterday highlighted something important about the weakness of the influence that the term "Arabism" currently has in our region in the face of the growth in Islamist movements. This is natural and the result of a number of factors, not just the expansion of [Islamist] fundamentalism, although this is indeed one of the most prominent factors [for the weakening of Arabism]. It is enough to consider the connection – even if unintentional – between the most important components of political Islam, including extremism and its spread via soft power, to the demise of the concept of the state, which eliminates the sense of Arabism.
The most prominent axis in this connection [between political Islam and the demise of the concept of the state] is the Khomeini Revolution, and it is sufficient to see what it is doing today in Iraq and Lebanon, with regards to Hezbollah who we will return to deal with later in detail as a manifest example [of this], not to mention the Muslim Brotherhood. The best example here is the pledge of allegiance that is made to the Supreme Leader [of Iran] which clearly contradicts a citizen's pledge of allegiance to the [national] ruler. The Muslim Brotherhood also, of course, does not believe in the concept of the state, but rather the Islamic ummah [nation], which is why the Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide once said "to hell with Egypt!"
There is also the Al Qaeda organization which does not recognize states or borders, for example when the organization wants to refer to Saudi Arabia, it uses the term “the Arabian Peninsula”.
However, as we noted above, it is not only the Islamists who contribute to weakening Arabism, and the following paradox may raise the eyebrows of some readers. The Arab League – whether purposefully or not – is also contributing to weakening the sense of Arabism today, by falling into the trap of [opening up to] "neighboring countries" and in particular opening the door to Iran which until today is sensitive towards the term the "Arabian Gulf." There is also secular Syria, the ally of the fundamentalist party Hezbollah; or Arabist Syria which is balancing its relations with Iran by opening up towards Turkey, rather than the Arab states.
Let us return to the subject of Hezbollah as a model of organized operation to weaken the sense of Arabism. In news that was first reported by Asharq Al-Awsat yesterday in an article under the headline "In 1986 Nasrallah Explicitly Stated: We do not believe in a State called Lebanon" a video of a 1986 speech by the Hezbollah chief has been posted on the internet. In this speech, Nasrallah stated that "we do not believe in a state called Lebanon, but rather in the greater Islamic State. Lebanon and this region are for Islam and Muslims, and they must be governed by Islam and Muslims. We do not have a system to rule Lebanon, we must first remove the Israeli colonialist situation [in the region]…afterwards we can implement our project which we – as ideological believers – have no choice but to adopt, and this is the project of an Islamic State and Islamic rule. This is not for Lebanon to be a sole Islamic Republic, but for it to be part of the Greater Islamic Republic that is ruled by the Hidden Imam and his deputy, according to the concept of the Wilayat al-Faqih [Guardianship of the Jurists] Grand Ayatollah Khomeini. I could not remain for one moment within the framework of Hezbollah, if I was not certain that this party was connected through its hierarchy to the Wali al-Faqih."
These are just observations, and this subject requires more extensive research, however the question that must be asked here is important; is it possible, after all of these organized destructive efforts, to keep the sense of Arabism alive, especially considering that many Arab regimes have suppressed all ideological current that are contrary to radical thought?
I don’t think so.