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The nightmare of Arab nationalism - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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It is extremely strange that the regimes that most call for Arab nationalism are the most oppressive and autocratic of all regimes. This is something that is confirmed by recent history.

The Arabs have tasted bitter humiliation and disgrace from the tyrannical leaders who have used dazzling and attractive slogans regarding Arab nationalism as the “carrot” to attract Arab nations and populations. Yet, an objective and impartial view of this phenomenon would no doubt show us examples like Gamal Abdel-Nasser, Saddam Hussein, Hafez al-Assad, Bashar al-Assad and Muammar Gaddafi. These leaders were nothing more than tyrants and dictators who transformed their countries into prisons, practicing various forms of torture, tyranny and oppression against their own people.

Arab nationalism was unsuccessful in gaining publicity nor could it spread amongst the regimes that believe in coexistence, political pluralism, freedom and dignity, Thus, the slogans of Arab nationalism are only associated with dictatorship and tyranny, and they have therefore lost any form of merit or credibility.

All of this has created a great legacy of lies and disinformation that the leaders of these regimes have utilized, using all possible means and tools, with the sole objective of remaining in power forever. Towards this end, these leaders destroyed financial and human resources and embroiled themselves in senseless military adventures, as well as exterminated their own partners and allies of yesterday.

All of these slogans that were chanted and raised by the people were nothing more than opiates that intoxicated the public, resulting in them losing their intelligence and awareness. These regimes lost all the battles they fought, whether military, political, cultural or economic.

This abhorrent delusion demonstrates the “intoxication” of Gamal Abdel-Nasser supporters until today. Images of this man are still raised in Gaza and the West Bank, whilst in reality he is responsible for the loss of this territory. The same thing applies to Saddam Hussein who foolishly squandered his country’s wealth and who fought naïve and malicious wars, however despite this, there are still those who raise images of him and glorify him. The same applies to the clownish Muammar Gaddafi, and many people defended him in print or on television channels saying that he is a symbol of Arab nationalism, which is something that Gaddafi himself could hardly believe!

Of course, the same also applies to Hafez al-Assad and his son Bashar, who both promoted the concept of the “resistance” regime. This was an issue that gradually took root in people’s minds to the point that this was like an addictive narcotic. Such political hallucination may explain some people’s absolute conviction of the necessity of backing the al-Assad regime and their firm belief that the regime is right and that it truly is a “resistance” regime, a claim that no rational mind can believe.

The regime has “protected” the security of its border with Israel for numerous decades to the point that even a fly cannot cross the border between the two countries without a military permit, as expressed by a well-known joke. Oppressive and tyrannical regimes that sold corrupt and misleading goods to their people under attractive slogans have gone to the dumping grounds of history, leaving behind a flagrant record of false “achievements” and a shameful and defective legacy of tyranny. This is a legacy that will require decades to overcome.

Clinging to tyrannical regimes – as we can see with regards to some people continuing to support the criminal al-Assad regime today – is first and foremost a psychological issue. This is a problem regarding generations who grew up under abnormal regimes, therefore it is only natural that this would create a form of mistaken beliefs and views.

However, there must be a major moment of awakening for these misled generations that were deceived and who have been subject to a great sin. For years, Arab nationalism will remain linked to abhorrent characters and criminal regimes that aggrieved their countries, brought harm to their people and left behind a horrible legacy, to the point that the history books will not know how to write the details of this or analyse the reasons behind it.

However ultimately the truth prevails, so what is built on falsehood will be revealed to be false. This is an issue that has been proven for rational minds and wise men who were previously taken in by the experience of Arab nationalism at the hands of these leaders.

The Arab world has passed through one stage and is beginning a new one. We hope that the lessons of the past will not be repeated and that we derive real benefits from the tragic and painful details of this previous stage. Arab nationalism has transformed into racist and fascist slogans that ultimately only produced nightmares that we must now wake up from.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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