When Arab streets exploded with fury, from Tunis to Sanaa, pan-Arabism seemed,
then, like a nominal notion. Neither did the so-called “Jasmine Revolution”
use slogans that affirmed its Arab identity, nor did angry Egyptian youth raise
the banner proclaiming Arab unity atop the high buildings adjacent to Tahrir
Oddly, the Arabism of the “Arab Spring” was almost as if a result of convenience.
It was politically convenient for western governments to stereotype Arab nations
as if they are exact duplicates of one another, and that national sentiments,
identities, expectations and popular revolts are all rooted in the same past
and correspond with a precise reality in the present. Thus, many in the west
expected that the fall of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, especially since
it was followed by the abdication of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, would lead to a
domino effect. “Who’s
next?” was a pretentious question that many asked, some with no understanding
of the region and its complexity.
After initial hesitation, the US, along with its western allies, moved quickly
to influence the outcome in some Arab countries. Their mission was to ensure
a smooth transition in countries whose fate had been decided by the impulsive
revolts, to speed up the toppling of their enemies and to prop up their allies
so that they would not suffer a similar fate.
The outcome was real devastation. Countries where the west and their allies
– and, expectedly enemies were involved – became infernos, not of
revolutionary fervor, but of militant chaos, terrorism and unabated wars. Libya,
Syria and Yemen are the obvious examples.
In a way, the west, its media and allies assigned themselves as gatekeepers
of determining, not only the fate of the Arabs, but in molding their identities
as well. Coupled with the collapse of the whole notion of nationhood in some
Arab countries – Libya,
for example – the US is now taking upon itself the responsibility of devising
future scenarios of broken down Arab states.