The Arab world in 2014
Material posted: Publication date: 01-01-2014

To understand the Arab world in 2014 means first of all to draw a picture of the changing environment on which the wind howled protest movement. This is a common trend, which, however, varies considerably in form and intensity. Its roots go back to national and local realities, however, it resulted in the strongest shock wave on the international level.

Although the outcome of ongoing processes still looks bleak, the year 2014 could be decisive for the civil war in Syria, the unity of Lebanon, Iraq and Libya, the democratic transition process in Tunisia (a new Constitution and parliamentary elections) and Egypt (the constitutional referendum), to maintain the status quo in Algeria (presidential elections), the creation of a "Palestinian state"...

All these issues are part of both national and international speakers, which strengthens the single and multiple view about "the Arab world". What does it mean today? The Arab world and the Western world, is not something for granted. It is a modern idea, a new intellectual and ideological construction. It was formed during the late Ottoman Empire in the late nineteenth century and with the rise of Arab nationalism in the mid-twentieth century.

Anyway, the whole Arab nationalist rhetoric has not led to the unification of this world and the formation of a "pan-Arab national state" appeared only much more modest League of Arab States. This international organization represents some formal interest because its ranks include 22 countries in which Arabic is the national language. It Arabic space covers an area of 13 million square kilometers, from the Atlantic ocean to the Persian Gulf at the crossroads of three continents (Europe, Asia, and Africa).

Thus, the Arab world can be represented as a single geo-cultural space of States where Arabic is the official language, and the majority of the population openly emphasize their Arab roots.

On this space, the attitude to Islam at the same time plays a structural and ambiguous role. Islam is both a source of unity and differences (in politics and society) of the Arabs, therefore, between the Arab and Muslim world needs to draw the line (because Arabs and Muslims are not synonymous). Not all Arab States — Muslim (in some there are several denominations), whereas the Muslim world also includes non-Arab countries. Although Islam is invariably the cultural and identity factor, which ensures the cohesion of the Arab world, its unity is based primarily on the classical written language (it is used not only in writing but also in oral communication in the cultural and political life, in education and media) and the similarity of the dialects, as well as ancient and modern literature.

Language is the pillar of the classical Arab culture that enriches modern creativity and artistic figures. Arab culture is not closed and one can feel the influence of other cultures: Andalusian, Ottoman, Mongol, Indian, and (increasingly) Western.

However, common heritage does not exclude diversity. Moreover, the external unity of the Arab world is hiding the strongest fragmentation. In addition to a section on the Maghreb and the Mashreq (from many points of view this is too simplistic a view) the Arab world is divided into parts of the legal boundaries, the differences of local cultures, territorial imbalances (domestic and intercountry) inequality in economic and social terms, contrasting political systems (coexistence between republics and monarchies, destabilization of the modes originated in connection with the 2011 wave of protests), accelerated the democratic transition process, the internal fault lines (between tribes, communities, religious minorities, linguistic groups) as well as international and geopolitical interests.

The dynamic development of the oil monarchies challenges the historical centers of civilization and power (Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad). Huge profits from oil and gas exports have become the core of leadership of Saudi Arabia and allowed to gain strength such as micro-Qatar. Natural resources does not promote Arab regional integration, but rather serve as a source of confrontations. In addition, the resulting struggle for leadership tensions partly due to the failure of the organization, which was supposed to embody the unity of the Arab (League of Arab States).

The world order is changing under the influence of the awakening of the Arab peoples, whereas the XXI century means first end oriented to the Western world and its hegemony. The center of gravity of the new world order is slowly but surely shifting from the West towards Asia. For as much as five centuries, the West dominated the world and dictated the rest of his will and standards. Now he loses the monopoly on economic, demographic, and cultural power.

New powers led by BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) increasingly undermine the old order, which emerged after the collapse of the USSR in 1991 and the end of the cold war. China as the world leader in demographics, and the second strongest global economy are just destined to challenge the American superpower. Although this trend still has not acquired the colour of ideological confrontation, the lack of imperialist ambitions on the part of China should not mislead. As for the Arab world, this trend is expressed in the dual dynamics "rassadnikova" and "asiatization".

Despite all the changes in the world, the geopolitics of the Arab world still depends heavily on natural resources. In this regard, although the hydrocarbons invariably play a structural role, the availability of water resources is of increasing importance for the Arab world. From this point of view, 2013 has ended on a positive note, because Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian authority after 11 years of negotiations managed to sign an agreement to rescue the Dead sea and the fight against water scarcity in the region where the well is as rare as a solid understanding...

Source: InoSMI

Tags: assessment , geopolitics , Near East