Read this article to learn about the struggles done by the nationalist in Arab countries!

During the twentieth century there was a rise of Arab nationalism in a few Arab countries. Lebanon, a mandate of France, had been formally made a separate state by the French.

During the war, the French authorities in Lebanon were allied with Vichy France but had been ousted and the country was occupied by Free French forces.

In November 1943, the independence of Lebanon was recognised, though the French troops continued to stay there till 1946.

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Since the 1950s, Lebanon has seen many turmoil and political instability. Besides the violent clashes and civil wars between different Lebanese groups, the country has been devastated by frequent air raids by Israel.

In Syria, there was an uprising against the French who were supported by the British. On 17 April 1946, Syria became independent and the French troops were withdrawn. In Egypt, the monarchy was overthrown when a group of military officers led by General Neguib and Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser seized power in 1952.

The new government asked for the withdrawal of British troops which were stationed in the Suez Canal zone in Egypt. In July 1956, the British troops left but in October 1956, British and French troops invaded Egypt, along with the Israeli troops.


They were soon forced to withdraw. Nasser became the leading figure of Arab nationalism. He was also one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement. From 1958 to 1961, Syria and Egypt were joined together as one state called the United Arab Republic. There was also a revolution in Iraq which overthrew the pro-British government and the monarchy.

Kuwait had come under British control at the end of the nineteenth century. Her vast oil resources were controlled by British and US oil companies. On 19 June 1967, Kuwait became a fully sovereign state.

North Yemen had become an independent state after the destruction of the Ottoman Empire but in South Yemen, the British had consolidated their rule. The city of Aden had been made a part of British India, but had become a separate colony in 1937. It was made

a part of the new state of South Arabia which the British had created. In 1963, an armed revolt began in South Yemen. In November 1967, South Yemen became an independent state and the British troops left the country. The two Yemens were unified in 1990.


In Tunisia and Morocco, French rule came to an end in 1956. Libya had come under Italian rule and, during the war many important battles were fought there between the German and the Allied troops. The country was later occupied by British and French troops. She became an independent monarchy on 24 December 1951. In 1969, the monarchy was overthrown and Libya became a republic.

After the end of the Second World War, the Arab League, comprising the Arab states, was formed. For many years, the Arab League played a very important role in bringing the Arab states together, in promoting Arab nationalism and strengthening the self independent role of Arab states in world politics.

One of the main concerns of all Arabs has been the question of Palestine where with the support of the US and some other Western countries, the state of Israel was created and sustained and the formation of an independent Palestinian state prevented. The Arab nationalists looked upon Israel as an outpost of imperialism in their territories.

In 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) which, under the leadership of Yasser Arafat, has been carrying on the struggle for the creation of an independent state of Palestine was set up. Subsequently, the PLO proclaimed the setting up of a government of Palestine which was recognised by many countries.

The creation of an independent state of Palestine comprising West Bank and Gaza Strip depends on the vacation by Israel of the territories occupied by Israel. In the 1990s, after what are known as the Oslo Agreements between Israel and Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), possibilities for the creation of an independent state of Palestine and the establishment of peace in the region were opened up.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation which led the struggle for the creation of an independent state of Palestine formed the Palestinian Authority in 1994 to administer West Bank, excluding areas that remained under Israeli occupation, and Gaza Strip, with its capital at Ramallah.

Security functions in the rural areas under Palestinian Authority also remained under Israeli control. Thus, the power which the authority was permitted to enjoy was mainly what may be described as municipal powers.

It may be mentioned in this context that even these agreements were not to the liking of the right- wing forces in Israel. In 1994, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was given the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres, then foreign minister of Israel, for his role in starting the peace process of which the Oslo Agreements were viewed as a major strap. In 1995, Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli.

The Palestinian Authority was visualised as an interim body for five years during which period negotiations for settling the status of Palestine as an independent state were to take place. Yasser Arafat, the most important leader of the Palestinian people, headed the Palestinian Authority from 1994 till his death in 2004. He was succeeded by Mahmoud Abbas.

However, no progress was achieved for the creation of an independent state of Palestine. Israel has refused to vacate large parts of West Bank with Israeli settlements; Israeli settlements in the West Bank, in fact, have been expanding while restrictions are imposed on the movement of Palestinians. It withdrew from Gaza Strip in 2005.

However, being in control of water the air space and all passages, Gaza Strip also remains a virtually occupied territory. There have been frequent bombings of areas that are under the formal control of the Palestinian Authority, inflicting heavy casualties and damage to the Palestinian infrastructure.

The Israeli position on the status of Jerusalem is another stumbling block to any peaceful settlement. An independent Palestine state had been declared in 1988. It is recognised by over hundred countries.

However, this remains as no more than symbolic. A new factor has been the rise of a new organisation, the Hamas, which has been gaining in popularity. It has emerged as the leading force among Palestinians. It presently controls the Gaza Strip.

The hopes aroused by the Oslo Agreements fifteen years ago have been belied. The cause of Palestinian independence is the most important issue for the Arabs. It is supported by most countries. Its solution is central to the ending of tensions in West Asia.

The continuing injustice done to Palestinian is seen as a factor which is used by Islamic terrorists to legitimise their activities. For the US, to pursue its policies in the region, Israel is its staunchest ally. Israel is believed to be in possession of nuclear weapons and has adopted threatening postures, along with the US, towards Iran. This has further added to the tension in the region.