Ideology and conflict in Arab politics
Arab identity is exceedingly complex, involving multiple commitments and often contradictory consciousness. Although Arabs realize that a unified Arab world is probably unrealistic, they nonetheless cling to the ideal or at least to its spirit. Arabs seem to regard their own political orders with ambivalence: The national independence for which many fought could only be created at the expense of Arab unity. Most Arabs support unity and subscribe to an uncontested system of values and norms, but are opposed to a hegemony that will systematically propagate those values. Both nationalisms and transnationalisms are important to the Arab world: A more precise understanding of the relationship between them should allow us to refine our understanding of seemingly contradictory circumstances. Unfortunately, the complex interplay of these forces means that the expansion rather than the resolution of conflict is likely to predominate.
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Originally published in: Conflict Resolution in the Arab World: Selected Essays, Paul Salem, ed., American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon, 1997, pp. 234-256.
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