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Divided we fall

Nov 30,2017 - Last updated at Nov 30,2017

I finished reading a number of books about Arab history since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and my readings have confirmed the depressing all-too-obvious conclusion, that the sorry state of Arab affairs since then has been largely of our own making.

We have no one to blame but ourselves for a century of setbacks, failures and defeats.

There is no denying that upon the fall of the Ottomans, Arab territories fell prey to European imperialist schemes and designs, as well as those of Zionism.

The Sikes-Picot agreement and the Belfour Declaration, which gutted our region and divided it along arbitrary and malicious lines, are concrete examples of such evil schemes and designs.

Imperialist European powers, primarily the British and the French, committed the unspeakable against our region, and we are still suffering from the destructive consequences of their illegal, unforgivable colonisation of our part of the world.

So yes, indeed, there is an external dimension to our tragic situation. Foreign intervention has been disastrous.

However, a close reading of the details of what precisely happened — and the devil is in the details — clearly reveals that forces external to the region would not have succeeded in doing what they did to us had we not, deliberately or inadvertently, facilitated their task due to inter-Arab divisions and infighting, and had we not been therefore complicit.

In implementing their schemes, the Europeans and the Zionists capitalised on differences among the various Arab forces then, some of whom had more ill feelings towards their brethren than towards the invaders and occupiers.

Different Arab forces and factions sided with the imperialist powers against other Arab forces and factions. And there were times when the invaders intervened to prevent Arabs from fighting other Arabs, especially when the fighting threatened the imperialists’ interests.

What happens today is, alas, a spitting image of what happened 100 years ago and in the decades that followed.

The situation today, worse in many ways, follows the exact same pattern: external intervention in inter-Arab affairs made successful by inter-Arab bickering and infighting, Arabs fighting Arabs backed by external forces, and external forces intervening to solve inter-Arab differences.

It is telling that the latest most important meeting convened to discuss a solution to the tragic situation in an Arab country was attended only by external forces. Not one single Arab country took part in the meeting.

Our tragic flaw has been our division.

The simple lesson to learn after 100 years of repeating the exact same pattern is that no settlement to the various crises that plague the Arab world is possible as long as we remain divided, and as long as we are our own enemies.

We need to reverse this vicious cycle: sit down and talk among ourselves with no foreign intermediaries, address our differences head on, end the divisions, and set up the kind of order that suits and accommodates us all.

Short of that, we will continue to suffer from the same problems and according to the same pattern, for another 100 years or more.


United we stand; divided we fall.

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