“We rebel against the English; and against the French…
We rebel against those who colonized our lands and tried to enslave us…
We repelled the red revolution many times, and continued our white revolutions for many years…
And for that we endured a lot of suffering, we endured many losses, we sacrificed so many lives…
But: When we finally won our freedom, we began to sanctify the borders they instituted after dividing our lands…
And we forgot that these borders were the "solitary confinement" and the "house arrest" that they imposed on us! ”
Extending from the Atlantic to the Middle East, the “Arab World” is home to an extremely complex cultural and historical diversity, contrary to what this simplifying generalization suggests. However, this region has suffered from foreign attacks and domination for many centuries, from the Turkish Ottoman Empire, through Franco-British Imperialism, and finally being subjected to US economic interests.
The sense of homogeneity of this region is very much linked to religion (Islam), but also essentially to this dynamic of domination faced since the medieval European.
In the above poem the essential feature of this region of the planet is explicit, in which the impositions of economic and military powers determined its geopolitical configuration without taking into account the millenary traditions of the peoples who inhabit it, which is one of the reasons for many of the conflicts that the region has. They still plague today.
It was not the Arabs who built the present borders of their “world”, it was not the Tunisians who created Tunisia, nor the Egyptians who created Egypt, and so we could quote as many others as Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia. Most of the national borders of this region were drawn on the boards of Western technicians and politicians, taking into account the economic and geopolitical interests of their countries rather than the peoples then dominated.
Even in the nineteenth century this part of the world was dominated by the European powers. In 1830 France took Algeria and in 1875 shared with England control over the Suez Canal. Whether by force of arms or economic domination, Western imperialism was a constant presence in the region until the twentieth century.
In May 1916, in the middle of World War I, the Europeans signed an agreement (Sykes-Picot Agreement) dividing among themselves the spoils of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. It should be remembered at that time that oil had already become essential for capitalist economies. According to this Agreement, France was responsible for the areas of Syria, Mount Lebanon and England for domination over Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) and as protectorate a vast region extending from Egypt to the Persian Gulf.
Map of Turkish-Ottoman Empire at its height
Broadening the scenario that would open the door to various conflicts in the region, on November 17, 1917 the English pledged to create a "Jewish national home in Palestine," a promise that came true in 1948.
Throughout the twentieth century, essentially at the height of the Cold War's decolonization process, most of the protectorates and dominated regions gained their formal independence, but this did not mean the end of submission to the economic interests of the Western powers. Artificial borders and governments, republics or monarchies, were established, linked more to foreign interests and having little relation to the desires of their populations. It used to be said that a ruler of the new Arab countries gave satisfaction first to the shareholders of the oil giants and only then to their citizens.
In 1956 then-Egyptian President Gamal Adel Nasser nationalized control over the Suez Canal with a fiery speech to a crowd of thousands in which he said:
“Everything that was stolen from us by that imperialist enterprise, that state within the state, while we were starving, we will get back… The government decided on the following law: a presidential decree nationalizing the Suez Canal International Company. On behalf of the nation, the president of the republic declares that the Suez Canal International Company is an Egyptian limited company. ”