Wednesday, May 25

When Egypt and Syria were one country: the fleeting dream of the United Arab Republic


The presidents of Egypt, Gamal Nasser, and of Syria, Shukri El-Kuwatly, sign the proclamation of the United Arab Republic, on February 1, 1958.

Image source, Getty Images

Caption,

The presidents of Egypt, Gamal Nasser, and of Syria, Shukri El-Kuwatly, sign the proclamation of the United Arab Republic, on February 1, 1958.

It lasted only three years and just as it was one of the highest expressions that Pan-Arabism reached, its fleeting history also meant a harsh failure for this ideology that promotes the political and cultural unity of the Arab world.

It was called the United Arab Republic and it was the union between Egypt and Syria between 1958 and 1961. This union, in the middle of the Cold War, cannot be understood without a fundamental figure: Gamal Abdel Nasser, the charismatic Egyptian president and the most important Arab leader of the moment.

As you remember in your book “The shipwreck of civilizations” the French-Lebanese author Amin Maalouf, in 1951 the Egyptians unilaterally asked the United Kingdom to withdraw the troops that had been stationed in the country after independence in 1936.

Winston Churchill – who had been re-elected as British Prime Minister at age 77, not only refused but reinforced the troop presence in the Suez Canal. It began a series of boycotts and attacks on British facilities in Egypt that culminated in an assault by the English on a police base and subsequent riots by the Egyptian population against British and Western interests, Maalouf notes in his book.


www.bbc.com

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