Egypt

Egypt

Egypt

Egypt

Excerpt

In the few months which have elapsed since this book was completed in the spring of this year, the radical national movement to which it refers has made great advances in the Middle East. The chasm between Cairo and Baghdad has been bridged by the Iraqi revolution and the philosophy of President Nasser has bloomed on the banks of the Tigris. Everywhere in the Arab world the dream of unity, which is the first aim of the Arab revolutionaries, has grown firm in outline. They are impatient of talk of future differences and difficulties; these, they say, are inevitable, but cannot any longer spell division; the people of Egypt and Iraq have come together at last and they have the people of Syria with them; from their unity will come the unity of all the Arabs.

The hopes men set their hearts upon are seldom entirely fulfilled. Yet it is true that the passionate desire for unity has, during my seventeen years' connection with the area, remained constant in the hearts of the politically effective urban people. It is also true that the divisions in the Arab world which made a mockery of the claim to unity were due to the conflicting interests and ambitions of ruling groups in the Arab countries. There was always significance in the fact that the leaders had to pay lip service to unity in order to satisfy their own people. Now in three of the four main countries of the Arab Middle East those leaders have been swept aside by revolutionary army men who are animated by the nationalism of the townspeople of the region, who are heart and soul in favour of unity.

The will of the people has produced military governments, despite the fact that the Baath Party, which comes closest to a definition of radical nationalism, is committed to the idea of democracy. But there never was much democracy in the parliamentary governments of the Middle East, and the idea of leadership is, as I have attempted to explain in regard to President Nasser, never far from the surface of Arab nationalism. It is widely believed among nationalists -- perhaps naïvely -- that there can be evolution towards truly democratic forms.

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