The movement found official expression after World War II in the Arab League and in such unification attempts as the Arab Federation (1958) of Iraq and Jordan, the United Arab Republic, the Arab Union (1958), the United Arab Emirates, and the Arab Maghreb Union (see under Maghreb). The principal instrument of Pan-Arabism in the early 1960s was the Ba'ath party, which was active in most Arab states, notably Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen. Gamal Abdal Nasser of Egypt, who was not a Ba'athist, expressed similar ideals of Arab unity and socialism.
The defeat of the Arabs in the Arab-Israeli War of 1967 and the death (1970) of Nasser set back the cause of Pan-Arabism. In the early 1970s, a projected merger between Egypt and Libya came to nought. However, during and following the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, the Arab states showed new cohesion in their use of oil as a major economic and political weapon in international affairs. This cohesion was fractured by the signing of the Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel and by the Iran-Iraq War. Pan-Arabist rhetoric was used by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in an attempt to stir opposition the UN coalition forces during the Persian Gulf War, but many Arab nations joined the anti-Iraq coalition.
See G. Antonius, The Arab Awakening (1946, repr. 1965); H. a Faris, ed., Arab Nationalism and the Future of the Arab World (1986); B. Pridham, ed., The Arab Gulf and the Arab World (1988).
Pan-Arabism is a movement for unification among the peoples and countries of the Arab World, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Sea. It is closely connected to Arab nationalism which asserts that the Arabs constitute a single nation. Pan-Arabism has tended to be secular and often socialist, and has strongly opposed colonialism and Western political involvement in the Arab world. Pan-Arabism is a form of cultural nationalism.
Additionally, the Balfour Declaration of 1917 as reason to administer Palestine and the subsequent creation of the British Mandate upset pan-Arabists designs for a geographically contiguous pan-Arab state from the Arab Maghreb and Egypt to the Mashreq.
A more formalized pan-Arab ideology than that of Hussein was first espoused in the 1930s, notably by Syrian thinkers such as Constantin Zureiq, Zaki al-Arsuzi and Michel Aflaq. Aflaq and al-Arsuzi were key figures in the establishment of the Arab Ba’ath (Renaissance) Party, and the former was for long its chief ideologist, combining elements of Marxist thought with a nationalism to a considerable extent reminiscent of nineteenth century European romantic nationalism.
In contrast to pan-Islamism, pan-Arabism is secular and nationalistic as many prominent pan-Arabs, such as Aflaq (Greek Orthodox) were not Muslim. Tariq Aziz, an Aramaic-speaking Chaldean Christian and the once deputy prime minister of Iraq under Saddam Hussein, was another prominent pan-Arabist. However, in de-emphasizing the role of Islam, pan-Arab ideology has been accused of inciting prejudice against and downplaying the role of non-Arab Muslim peoples such as the Turks, Persians, and Kurds, amongst others. Additionally, while Lebanon is traditionally thought of as an Arab state, there is a movement in that country supporting the idea that Lebanese are Phoenicians. As such, these groups are quite hostile to pan-Arabism.
The first was the Arab Federation of Iraq and Jordan in 1958. It was a confederation between cousins King Faisal II of Iraq and King Hussein of Jordan. This federation fell apart after the Iraqi Army's coup d'etat.
The United Arab Republic in 1958 was the second attempt. Formed under Nasser, it was a union between Egypt and Syria. It lasted only until 1961 when an anti-Nasserist coup in Syria led to Syria's withdrawal from the union.
The current Syrian government is, and the former government of Iraq was, led by the Ba’ath Party, which espouses pan-Arabism.