The rumbling from Gaza, writes Hassan Nafaa, is the overture to something truly momentous.
The birth of the Arab system is usually associated with the creation of the Arab League (AL), in 1945. But two earlier developments paved the way for the AL’s creation. One was that Egypt, acting as the key country in the region, had a clear vision of what it wanted to do and was ready to act on that vision when regional and international circumstances were right — which is exactly what happened after the end of WWII. The other was that the conflict in Palestine had reached a point where most Arab countries recognised the danger posed by the creation of an independent Jewish state in their midst.
Reeling from the protracted fighting of World War II, Britain gave its endorsement for any scheme promoting unity among the Arabs. The endorsement, which was made public in 1943, was aimed to deter Arab countries from siding with Germany. Egypt, at the time ruled by a Wafd government led by Mustafa El-Nahhas, saw its chance. Soon it opened bilateral and multilateral consultations with Arab countries in an effort to lay down the framework of a regional political structure. The AL came into being as a result. It wasn’t a first step towards federalism as many hoped but a congregation of seven semi-independent countries willing to pass resolutions by consensus, more of a political club than a blueprint for unity.