Nasser and Arab Unity

June 4, 1958

Report Outline
Arab Nationalism Changing Missle East
Growth and Aims of Arab Nationalism
Western Relations with Arab States
Special Focus

Arab Nationalism Changing Missle East

Lebanon's action in complaining simultaneously to the Arab League Council and to the United Nations Security Council, about alleged interference in its internal affairs by the United Arab Republic of Egypt and Syria, illustrates current conflicts of pressure in the Middle East. Although the Beirut government charged that Egypt and Syria had instigated the civil disturbances in Lebanon, thereby threatening international peace, it was loath to carry its complaint to the world organization without leaving the door open to settlement within the family of Arab nations.

Gamal Abdel Nasser, president of the U.A.R., has raised long-standing dreams of Arab unification to new heights all over the Middle East. Widespread popular support of Nasser has made it more inexpedient than ever for an Arab government to take any step which can be interpreted as contrary to the interests of Arabs as a group. The different Arab governments are by no means all pro-Nasser. Yet it has become hard for those who have no special liking for the Egyptian to stand out openly against him. Nasser's flirting with the Soviet Union, moreover, has made especially difficult the position of pro-Western Arab governments like Lebanon. Rivalries and jealousies within the Arab world thus complicate and intensify Middle Eastern engagements in the over-all struggle between East and West.

Most recently, Middle East pressures have come to a head in the tiny country of Lebanon, where Arab nationalist insurgents, encouraged by local Communists, are in open revolt against the government of President Camille Chamoun. Beirut views the insurrection as a deliberate attempt by Cairo to overthrow Chaumoun and his pro-Western adherents. Nasser, while making no secret of his hope for ultimate formation of a unified state comprising the whole of the Arab Middle East, has insisted that the U.A.R. has no intention of annexing Lebanon.

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