Arab Nationalism(s) in Transformation: From Arab Interstate Societies to an Arab-Islamic World Society
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During the summer of 2006, the Palestine conflict once again turned ‘hot’ when intense fighting erupted across the Israeli/Lebanese border. Besides 34 days of violent clashes with Israeli forces, Hizbullah was also engaged in a more symbolic, or ‘cold’, collision with the Egyptian, Jordanian and Saudi Arabian leaders denouncing in public the Shi’i-Arab movement for ‘dragging the region into adventures’. By publicly criticising an Arab actor’s direct — and even rather successful — challenge to Israel in favour of a covert siding with Israel and the United States, these three ‘moderate Sunni Arab’ regimes, as they were termed, were at variance with some of the basic norms in the classic ‘game of Arab politics’. Following US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s (2006) (in)famous depiction of the Summer War 2006 as ‘the birth pangs of a new Middle East’ some observers saw these reactions as a sign of how Arab politics had ceased being distinctly Arab. The very notion of a discrete Arab world was dismissed as a mirage without any relevance for a post-Arab twenty-first century. Regional dynamics in this new Middle East would instead either resemble a ‘normal state system’ or be defined by sectarian schisms within Islam as reflected in the clash between Shi’i Hizbullah and three ‘moderate Sunni Arab’ states (cf. Susser, 2006).
KeywordsMiddle East Arab World World Society Territorial State English School
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