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Dreams of Arab Unity

Good little piece, @Ottens. There's something very melancholy about the slow death of Pan-Arabism; there's a romanticism to the movement, a true romanticism in the old sense.

That's not a wholly positive thing, of course- German and Italian unifications were Romantic, and they were hardly unalloyed goods.

But there's something about the idea of these great nations, this great people who seemed never quite to find the right moment for unity that sitcks in the imagination. That's horribly simplistic of course- one thing your article does well is stress that to a large extent this is a movement of the elites, not a great popular thing.

But still- it left me oddly wistful for reasons I can't quite pin down.
I've often felt the only one which really had a shot at success was the post-war Hashemites. Not only from the point of view that borders hadn't really been defined yet (although there was a very definite cultural divide between Syria, Mesopotamia, the Hejaz, al-Hasa, and especially those four and the territories not under the Ottoman Empire) but because so many of the later efforts collapsed down to, essentially, local elites and strongmen not wanting to give up power that it seems the only way you can really avoid that is if you've got the combined influence of 'federation giving local elites power+leaders who are bound by blood and family so are more likely to work together'.

It still might collapse after a while of course. The big questions would be whether the local elites could have been bound together enough by the founders to create a unified identity, and whether the transition from brother-monarchs to cousin-monarchs to second-cousin monarchs would manage to retain a sense of unity at the top.