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    Fractures Prevail as Arabs Cap 2010

     

    At a time when countries around the world are making strides toward greater political and economic integration, the Arab world appears less united than ever. Not only has the region long abandoned its oversized dreams of pan-Arab unity, but it is also facing a series of crises that revolve around the disintegration or erosion of state authority.

    The region’s largest country is just days away from a historic referendum that is widely expected to carve it into two independent states: North and South Sudan. Meanwhile the specter of secession continues to haunt Iraq, threatening to break the country into two or three smaller autonomous nations. Yemen, whose unification was celebrated in 1990, is again on the verge of returning to fighting itself, while simultaneously facing off the menace posed by Al-Qaeda militants.

    Palestine, already partitioned by the creation of Israel in 1948, has been further divided into Gaza and the occupied West Bank, two separate political entities that are themselves each plagued by internal divisions. The only unity that one can speak of in Somalia is that of the militants who are increasingly banding together in their effort to topple the state. And of course, no one can mention divisions in the Arab world without referring to Lebanon, a country which many observers say is again facing the prospect of civil war.

    Elsewhere in the region, in countries like Syria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Egypt, the calcification of political systems is being met with increasing dissent, creating the potential for future instability in the region.

    Likewise, the failure of many Arab leaders to deliver on promises of economic development and political reform has undermined their credibility, putting the future stability of their countries in doubt. Across the region we can see governments that are mired in corruption, nepotism, sectarianism, stalemate and stagnation.

    The long and varied list of crises in the region speaks volumes about the inability of states to assimilate and effectively govern the diverse elements of their societies.

    And if Arab states can’t effectively govern their own territories, how can we expect them to move toward any kind of integration?

    On the contrary, unless there is a bottom-up mobilization coupled with a top-down effort to implement political reforms, the gap between Arab people and their governments will continue to grow, leading to further political disintegration in the region.

    Next year will see the creation of two new states in the region. And if the current trends continue, we can expect even more in the future.

    The Daily Star
    29.12.2010

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