What is the contemporary relevance of Pan-Arabism? Or is it merely a relic of the past?

Do any political parties or leaders in the Arab world profess this notion or has it evaporated since the '67 war, Nasser and Qaddadi's deaths?

(Do not confuse with Pan-Islamism or the Political Islamists who come from an Islamic perspective and push for an Islamic State. I'm referring to the secular ideology prominent in the 50's and 60's )

2 Answers 2


Considering the Palestinian conflict yields a still modern issue with strong ties to Pan Arabism.

Some background:

In the aftermath of the conflicts between Jewish and Palestinian inhabitants before British withdraw, and of the 48' war between Israel and surrounding Arab states, the Pan Arab world view was on strong display and about to be transformed. The Arabian leaders, despite efforts to cooperate, were largely suspicious of each other. This was especially apparent through their mutual distrust of Trans-Jordan, which was positioning itself to control the West Bank, while the others were trying to undermine this goal. In fact this war had much to do with the shaping of Pan Arabism. An edifying example is that Nasser himself was surrounded with other fellow Egyptian officers in Palestine. Upon their return to Egypt, coups followed. These officers played critical roles in subsequent Egyptian politics.

Intellectuals like Zurayk and Alami stressed the need for Arab unity following the war. Alami even used terms like an 'Arab Prussia'. Their call was for an internal revolution of Arab countries, transforming deeply entrenched ideas and norms set by years of imperial control over the countries. Only following such a 'renaissance' would the Arabs be able to reposition themselves in the world and handle the consequences of the 48' war.

The consequences of this war and subsequent events are of crucial relevance still today. The failure of Pan Arabism to control the refugee crisis from Palestine and relocate them has caused much strife and pain both internally in countries like Jordan and Lebanon, and through war atrocities, as demonstrated in the 82' Lebanon war between Hezbollah and Israel. The refugee issue, and the claimed right of return is a major political drive in Israeli and Palestinian politics.

Moreover, the Palestinian issue is still being used today by Arab governments to flare up their populations around the idea of Arab unity and distract from internal corruption and inequality.

Major source; The Arabs, A History, by Eugene Rogan.

  • 2
    Does the Shia - Sunni rivalry also impede Pan Arabism? Jan 7, 2019 at 12:56
  • 1
    @FrankCedeno I agree with that. It isn't in the scope of my answer though, the question is pretty broad..
    – user19486
    Jan 7, 2019 at 14:34
  • You seem knowledgeable, I wanted to know from your studies, if it is as important as the zeitgeist portrays it. Thanks for letting me know Jan 7, 2019 at 20:50
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    Typically, Shia are not Arab. They are Persian.
    – tj1000
    May 6, 2019 at 22:05

I believe Syria is still nominally a Ba'athist state, but given its close ties to Iran and enmity with the Saudis, calling it pan-Arabist might be a stretch.

This quote from the Wikipedia article on Nasserism is relevant:

Nasserism remains a political force throughout the Arab world, but in a markedly different manner than in its heyday. Whereas in the 1950s and 1960s Nasserism existed as a revolutionary and dynamic movement with definite political and social goals, by the 1980s it had become a much less pronounced and distinct ideology. Today, many more Arabs are informed by Nasserism in a general sense than actually espouse its specific ideals and objectives. In terms of political organisations within Egypt itself and during the presidency of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Nasserism's scope was confined generally to writers, intellectuals and minor opposition parties.

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