Wednesday, 2 January 2008


The Dialectic of Unity and Liberation in the Arab World

Ibrahim Alloush
Free Arab Voice
December 31, 2007

Translated by SR

Since the 1950s and 1960s arguments have raged in the Arab
world over which should come first: unification or
liberation? Must we unite the Arab Nation first in order to
be able to achieve liberation? Or is liberation possible
without unity, since the task of liberation is something so
urgent that it cannot await Arab unity? Must we build our
forces by and through a unified Arab state in the first
place in order to be able to achieve the liberation of
Palestine and other occupied Arab lands? Or are the two
tasks simply separate from one another, efforts that can
proceed side by side, with one not necessarily depending on
the other?

The consensus regarding these questions is divided into two
camps. One holds that unity must come before liberation,
and the other believes in the priority of liberation over
unity. Those who regarded liberation as coming before unity
dove into political work within the individual Arab states.
One obvious example of such an approach would be the
dissolution of the Arab Nationalists’ Movement to form the
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1967.
Those, on the other hand, who regarded unity as the
precondition for liberation included some Arab regimes and
political parties of Arab nationalist orientation. They
authorized themselves to grant concessions on the
Arab-Zionist front on the grounds that building a unified
Arab state is their first priority.

In reality, contemporary Arab history gives us one of the
most important examples of liberation without unity or a
nationalist agenda: That is, the liberation of southern
Lebanon in 2000. One could also add to that the partial
liberation of the Gaza Strip. In both situations,
liberation resulted from organized activity of Arab people
on the ground without the involvement of any Arab regimes.
Both were carried out by local forces that were not related
to any nationalist agendas, but had, rather, local agendas.
Other examples, such as Iraq, Somalia, Lebanon and
Palestine undoubtedly prove that the creation and
continuation of a popular armed resistance struggle is
possible without the presence of a unified state. In
addition, local forces may produce an effective resistance,
create arenas for doing battle, even liberate a given part
of the land, and pose serious obstacles to the
American-Zionist enemy's progress. Precisely this has
occurred in the way the Iraqi resistance has paralyzed the
"Greater Middle East" initiative in the region. In these
instances, the local resistance takes on a nationalist
coloring, adopts a nationalist role, and consequently earns
substantial support from the rest of the nation.

But can the whole Zionist program in the region – which
includes its military presence, political weight, and
imperialist backing – be defeated by local popular
organizing alone, without a nationalist program?
Furthermore, can the Arab nation as a whole rid itself of
dependency (indirect occupation) without an Arab
nationalist program? For example, could the Arabian Gulf
countries rid themselves of the American military presence
without a unified state that would protect Arab national
security in the Arabian Gulf region? Also, is it possible
for us to liberate the provinces of Iskandarun, Al-Ahwaz,
and the islands of Abu Mousa and Greater and Lesser Tanb in
the Gulf without a unified Arab state?

The fact is that the liberation of southern Lebanon differs
qualitatively from the following events: Palestine’s
liberation from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea;
the Arab nation’s liberation from direct and indirect
imperial hegemony; and the liberation of Arab lands from
neighboring countries such as Ethiopia, Iran, Turkey and
Spain. Local energies and capabilities are capable of
achieving local goals for the benefit of the Arab nation
and objectively can play an Arab nationalist role, that is,
in terms of what they accomplish rather than because of any
conscious Arab nationalist program. But, there is a huge
difference between such cases of local liberation on the
one hand, and liberation of the Arab nation and its
territory from direct and indirect occupation.

Complete liberation in this sense is impossible to achieve
without one united state and local liberation without a
unified state will always remain incomplete, leaving the
resistance politically or militarily blockaded, as in
Lebanon and Gaza.

By "unified state" we do not mean that the entire Arab
homeland has to be united before the program of liberation
can be achieved. People who insist on this are like some of
the alleged official representatives of Arab nationalism,
towing the line of Arab regimes, who demand the creation of
an Arab common market first and try in practice to evade
their practical responsibilities under such an Arab
nationalist program – specifically the task of confronting
the Zionist-American occupations militarily. The unified
state will only arise in the course of the bloody struggle
with the Zionist-American enemy and its local stooges.

Therefore, what is meant by a unified state is the nucleus
of a united state, which is imbued with a militant program,
such as the state of Salah Ad-Din Al-Ayyubi (Saladin),
established in northern Iraq and parts of Syria, Jordan and
Egypt during the Crusades. That state was able to clutch
the Crusader entity in a pincer and crush it. The unifying
state is therefore the nucleus of comprehensive unity, and
it simultaneously constitutes a liberation program. It is
only when the liberation program becomes an Arab national
program that liberation becomes possible. And it is only
when the program of unification becomes a militant program
that unity becomes possible. It is in this way that the
dialectical relationship between unity and liberation can
be put in its proper framework true liberation required an
Arab nationalist nucleus and program, and unity cannot
arise without a fighting program of military and mass

Free Arab Voice

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