Arab Unity

Foundations of Effective Unity

We have been true to our call for Arab unity in the full sense of the word. However, there are new trends through which we can attain our objective--by economic integration and cooperation which we hope will be transformed into facts on the ground in the near future.

Interview with Radio Monte Carlo/Agence France Presse
August 11, 1995


I believe things will not remain as they are now, and that the Arab world will be no less, in terms of composition and relationships, than the European Union and the other countries that witnessed wars and tragedies (and yet have proven the benefits) that can be achieved through dialogue and cooperation. There are dozens of reasons for us to follow the experience of the Europeans and see it materialize in reality here. Perhaps it is now clear that the Arab nation cannot rally around a certain individual or a group of people. Arab relations must be based on cooperation in all areas and on mutual trust and respect and awareness that we have common interests and that no one will live forever. Therefore, we must take every opportunity and work every minute, hour, day, and night to come up with an Arab position to honor ourselves with.

Interview with Radio Monte Carlo
March 2, 1998


Therefore, if our position and our voice were unified and if our affairs were better organized, and if we cooperated more, and most importantly, if we did not alow any party to play one of us against the other as happened frequently in the past—the doubts, the verbal attacks—on this basis we would deal with each other in full confidence and with a determination to give what we can to the individual and to the nation, then we would be in a different situation from the one we are in. We do not accuse others and neglect the dimension relating to us.

Interview with Orbit Television
February 25, 1998


If most attempts at union or federation have so far been derailed, we believe, through experience, that any effort at union should be built from the base upwards, with a thorough analysis of the realities on the ground, and in a climate of freedom where peoples can express their collective will. Should this come to pass, the clouds of darkness and the murkiness of suspicion and fantasy will be lifted.

Address to the Nation
October 12, 1993


Attempts at achieving a true renaissance and union have failed in the past because they had no proper foundations. They lacked the element of self-criticism, suffered from short-sightedness and were not based on right, freedom, equality, or justice. They failed also because many of them took the form of grandiose or showcase projects. They have failed to solve accumulative problems of social backwardness, illiteracy, low standards of living, the chasm between the elite and the people, cultural crises, extremism, tribalism, sectarianism and dependence on others. Above all was the absence of guarantees ensuring freedom, dignity and means of livelihood.

Address to the Royal Staff and Command College
November 23, 1992


I have called for reviving Arab economic integration, especially in these circumstances in which various world regions have found acceptable formulae for cooperation and useful integration. We Arabs have added reasons to unify our regional economies particularly since we have the common denominators of history, religion, language, heritage and destiny and it is important to activate these components.

Others have accomplished a lot more with less common elements. Europeans, for example, have found a civilized formula to interact in spite of the lack of harmony among their nations in terms of language, history and culture, and in spite of numerous memories of conflict and antagonism.

Address to the Comprehensive Development Conference
November 28, 1988


With similar frankness, let me lay down before you my vision of the causes underlying our failure to arrive at a unified view on the major problems and challenges that we face and the approaches we need to explore.

The first obstacle lies in bilateral differences, which usually grow out of political disagreement and occasionally lead to punishing the peoples of the two concerned countries, resulting from punitive or vengeful measures undertaken by one government against another. . . .

Another problem is a narrow national vision resulting from the preoccupation of each Arab state with its own development, security and defense concerns. . . . It has also resulted in diminished concern for and demotion of national issues to the lowest level of state priority, except in cases of a directly perceived connection between a particular state and an outside threat. . . .

A third concern is an unjustifiable exaggeration in the application of the profit and loss motive in dealing with national issues.

Address to the Extraordinary Arab Summit Conference
November 8, 1987


My own concept of Arab nationalism, for example, is quite different from what I understand President Nasser’s to be. If I interpret his aims properly, he believes that political unity and Arab nationalism are synonymous. Evidently he also believes that Arab nationalism can only be identified by a particular brand of political unity. If this is his belief, I disagree. It can only lead, as it has in the past, to more disunity.

The seeking of popular support for one point of view or one form of leadership in countries other than one’s own has fostered factionalism to a dangerous degree, splitting countries to the point of revolution. It is nothing but a new form of imperialism, the domination of one state by another. It makes no difference if both are Arab states. Arab nationalism can survive only through complete equality.

p. 92, Uneasy Lies the Head, 1962


In the need for Arab unity, there is no difference of opinion. So, instead of debating an accepted principle, let us debate a practical plan. There are four great natural units in the Arabic-speaking world: the Fertile Crescent, the Arabian Peninsula, the Nile Valley, and the Maghrib, including Algeria.

Let the countries in these natural units associate themselves in whatever way they choose as a step toward the great goal of an Arab nation. Let their association be voluntary, and let it embrace only what the people of each country want it to embrace—whether it be culture, economics or defense. Let political alliance, if it is desirable at all, be the last step. Let all of this be undertaken through an active, respected Arab League, in which equality and sincerity of joint purpose would be assured, and in which danger of domination by any member of the family would be eliminated.

p. 98, Uneasy Lies the Head, 1962