The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

AJE: "A Question of Arab Unity"

Al Jazeera English has started airing a nine-part series on Arab unity, of which the first two episodes have already aired and are available on Youtube. I've watched the first one (below) and while it's nicely produced, it lacks some detail and makes some historical mistakes, such as saying the Egyptian Free Officers' coup in 1952 was the first military coup in the Middle East (that honor goes to Hosni al-Zaim's 1949 takeover in Syria). Still, they interview interesting people like Fawaz Trabulsi and Saad Eddin Ibrahim who provide first-hand reminiscences about the period.

It's also an interesting topic at a time when the Arab world is more politically divided than it has ever been, yet has surprising figures uniting much of public opinion, such as Hassan Nasrallah of Hizbullah. I hope later episodes will look at the road not taken of a gradual version of pan-Arabism focused on building institutions rather than charismatic leaders.

Here is the second one aired thus far.