Arab Disunity

October 29, 1976

Report Outline
Contention Among Arab Countries
Theme of Common Enemy in Arab Unity
Prospects for More Arab Cooperation
Special Focus

Contention Among Arab Countries

Lebanon as Symbol of Inter-Arab Combativeness

The crisis in lebanon has brought Arab disunity to world attention. But for the more than 100 million Arabs living in the Middle East and North Africa, unity among a people who share the same language and traditions has been the rare exception. Rhetoric about solidarity and the brief congruence of interests after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war notwithstanding, relations among the Arab states have long been characterized by rivalries between leaders, ideological feuds and, not infrequently, armed conflict. The civil war in Lebanon is merely the most recent, most publicized and perhaps most brutal example of how individual Arab governments will forsake their slogans about pan-Arabism and act solely in what they consider their self-interest.

Self-interest was evident in the agreement for a cease-fire in Lebanon that was signed by six Arab leaders in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Oct. 18. Saudi Arabia called the meeting not only to end the fighting in Lebanon but to patch up the bitter dispute between Egypt and Syria. The Saudis were apparently successful in convincing the warring parties that it would be in their economic interests to accept the accord. But even if the current cease-fire in Lebanon—unlike the 54 that preceded it—takes hold, the inter-Arab bitterness that the conflict has engendered is not likely to be forgotten for some time.

In the past 20 months, at least 40,000 men, women and children have died in what was initially viewed as a struggle between Christians and Moslems over Lebanon's confessional system. That system, embodied in the National Covenant of 1943, gave the Christians the advantage in the distribution of political offices. But the Moslems, with their higher birth rate, are now believed to constitute a sizable majority of the country's 3.2 million people. The Lebanese struggle began not as a fight over religion but as an effort by the Moslems to secure an equitable share of the political power and the economic benefits that such power would bring.

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May 2009  Middle East Peace Prospects
Oct. 27, 2006  Middle East Tensions Updated
Jan. 21, 2005  Middle East Peace
Aug. 30, 2002  Prospects for Mideast Peace
Apr. 06, 2001  Middle East Conflict
Mar. 06, 1998  Israel At 50
Aug. 30, 1991  The Palestinians
Oct. 19, 1990  The Elusive Search for Arab Unity
Feb. 24, 1989  Egypt's Strategic Mideast Role
Apr. 15, 1988  Israel's 40-Year Quandary
Mar. 02, 1984  American Involvement in Lebanon
Nov. 12, 1982  Reagan's Mideast Peace Initiative
Apr. 23, 1982  Egypt After Sadat
Jan. 04, 1980  Divided Lebanon
Jul. 20, 1979  West Bank Negotiations
Dec. 01, 1978  Middle East Transition
Jan. 13, 1978  Saudi Arabia's Backstage Diplomacy
Oct. 29, 1976  Arab Disunity
May 16, 1975  Middle East Diplomacy
Sep. 13, 1974  Palestinian Question
Dec. 12, 1973  Middle East Reappraisal
Apr. 25, 1973  Israeli Society After 25 Years
Aug. 19, 1970  American Policy in the Middle East
Apr. 25, 1969  Arab Guerrillas
Aug. 02, 1967  Israeli Prospects
Jul. 06, 1966  Middle East Enmities
Apr. 14, 1965  Relations with Nasser
Aug. 17, 1960  Arab-Israeli Deadlock
May 27, 1959  Middle East Instability
Jun. 04, 1958  Nasser and Arab Unity
Oct. 02, 1957  Soviet Threat in Middle East
Sep. 18, 1956  Suez Dispute and Strategic Waterways
May 09, 1956  Middle East Commitments
Apr. 13, 1955  Middle East Conflicts
Mar. 31, 1954  Security in the Mideast
Oct. 23, 1952  Israel and the Arab States
Jan. 30, 1952  Egyptian Crisis and Middle East Defense
Mar. 17, 1948  Palestine Crisis
Feb. 18, 1946  Soviet Russia and the Middle East
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