The Demise of Postcolonial Frameworks in the Arab World

(Ha'aretz) Shlomo Avineri - The independence of South Sudan is a sign of the disintegration of postcolonial frameworks which, in the name of Arab nationalist ideology, tried to forcefully impose solidarity and uniformity in places where there were many differences. It was preceded by the de-facto autonomy of the Kurds in northern Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. There is still no guarantee that Iraq itself, split between a Shi'ite majority and a Sunni minority, will continue to exist as a coherent body politic. In Syria, the demonstrations against the Alawite regime of the Assad family are being spearheaded by broad sectors of the Sunni majority. Even in Libya it is becoming clear that the rebels' control of Benghazi and eastern parts of the country - while Gaddafi is succeeding for now to maintain control in Tripoli and the west - reflects a historical split between eastern Cyrenaica and western Tripolitania, which were merged into one Libyan entity only under Italian colonial rule. Although demonstrations in recent months focused on opposition to dictatorial regimes, from the moment the power-based status quo was undermined, phenomena related to the ethnic and religious complexity of countries once considered to have a uniform Arab national character have been surfacing. The writer, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, served as director-general of Israel's Foreign Ministry.

2011-07-22 00:00:00

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