ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: Arab Unity

Editorial from Volume XV, No 16, April 20, 1963.

The unpredictable character of Arab politics and its steadfast adherence to the long cherished objective of Arab Unity were never better reflected than in the almost breath-taking announcement from Cairo on Wednesday that the UAR, Iraq and Syria have agreed to form a new Arab federation. A fortnight ago, just before the leaders of the three countries were scheduled to meet in the Egyptian capital, it appeared very doubtful indeed whether the union talks would be pursued at all, so embittered had relations between President Nasser and the Baath, the ruling party in Iraq and Syria, become.

The bitterness was least concealed in Syria where the struggle between the Nasserites and the Baath had burst into the open and the increasingly vocal demands of Nasserites for greater representation in the Government had led the Baathist Prime Minister, Salah Bitar, to reshuffle his cabinet and tighten his control over the National Council of the Revolution. Paradoxically, the brewing trouble between the Baath and Nasserites in Syria may have hastened the announcement of the proposed federation. The proclamation will calm the frenzied emotions of the predominantly Nasserite street mobs in Syria who had been demanding immediate merger with the UAR and thereby avert what appeared an imminent, and almost certainly violent, confrontation between the Baath Government and the pro-Nasser elements – an eventuality which right now both Nasser and the Baath leaders must be equally anxious to avoid.

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