The Middle East in Transition: Studies in Contemporary History

By Walter Z. Laqueur | Go to book overview

ARAB UNITY AND ARAB DISSENSIONS

by HANS E. TÜTSCH

THE ' COLD WAR', which since the second world-wide conflagration in this century keeps real peace away from humanity, has shifted its storm-centre several times in the past twelve years. First, Soviet expansion far into the heart of Central Europe, which reached its zenith with the coup d'état in Prague, was checked by the air-lift into blockaded Western Berlin; a sort of trench warfare has developed since then in which neither party has won any notable gains -- the West not even when the workers in Eastern Germany, Poland, and Hungary rose against their Communist oppressors. The emphasis of the ' cold war' then shifted to the Far East, where in Korea and Vietnam the bloody battles ended in a stalemate that found its diplomatic recognition and confirmation in the first Geneva Conference of 1954. Since then the vortex of political strife has moved to the Middle East, especially to the Arab states. Not all the problems there are direct outgrowths of the ' cold war' -- as the Cyprus conflict shows best -- but their role in the international struggle confers on them a potentially pernicious character. The Arab countries are fighting for national independence against the former colonial Powers and sometimes also against their brother states. The form, or forms, in which the Arab peoples will achieve their final being as a nation or as several nations, are still in a provisional stage. Trouble brews where the transition is taking place from the personal dominion of tribal chieftains to the modern territorial state encompassing a particular national entity. It is extremely difficult to arrive at the root of the real problems in a region where legend becomes history and history becomes legend before the sun has set on an eventful day.

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