Quick Summary: Arab states weren’t created through Colonialism – they have existed for a long time, but they were unable to properly react to pressures in the mid-Nineteenth century, so they were impacted heavily by colonialism and the introduction of a market system. Not really sure what else to draw from this piece. Notes below.
A good history of Arab state formation in here.
== The Origins of the Arab State System ==
The Pre-Colonial Era
– All states in the region share the same language and (basically) the same religion- this generated a unified high culture and a sense of collective identity
– Both nationalism and Islam generate a sense of identification that cuts across state boundaries and supersedes, on the ideological level, local considerations
The Nation-State Problem
– Paradox: 18 Arab states find themselves formally independent and sovereign and yet hardly any of them unconditionally accepts the legitimacy of its own statehood.
– pan-Arabism and pan-Islamism take legitimacy away from the state
– Arg: the state system is very old, and not a colonial legacy, and have within themselves the sources of their own legitimacy
– “fifteen of the contemporary Arab states are the product of indigenous and regional forces mostly unrelated to European colonialism, and in most cases predate it.” (4)
Typology of the Arab State System
– The principles which explain the emergence of the Arab state system are ideology, traditions and dominion.
– State: “an established authority which enjoys jurisdiction over a core territory and people for an extended period of time, stretching over at least several generations.” (5)
– Traditional Arab states were found to have differed in structure, power base, legitimacy and traditions – the following types are identified by the author:
The imam-chief type
– Authority is invested in a sanctified leader
The alliance of chief and imam type
– Authority is invested in a tribal chief supported and awarded a legitimate authority beyond the confines of his tribe by virtue of his identification and/or alliance with a prominent religious leader and his teachings.
The traditional secular system of authority
– Authority is vested in a dynasty free from religious attributes. Role of traditions is pre-eminent.
The bureaucratic-military oligarchy
– Authority originates in urban-based garrison commanders, who in time develop an extensive bureaucratic apparatus.
Transition to the Modern State Era
– Preceding argument = the origins of Arab states are different and can be traced back, in most cases, to a period before the nineteenth century. RE these states:
1) most of these states were locally rooted and enjoyed legitimacy in the eyes of their people
2) they had recognizable boundaries, or at least a core territory where there authority endured through time
– Up until the mid-19th Century, there is NO external impact on state formation
Colonialism and the state system
– Pressures coming from European penetration and the reassertion of Ottoman power.
The colonial mandate system
– A fifth type of state system emerged in the Fertile Crescent at the hands of the colonial powers, which was not the product of local historical forces (i.e the creation of Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Transjordan). These are the states which conform to Arab nationalist theory about the emergence of the state system.
– In general, colonialism affected the boundaries of Arab states, but it did not, with the exception of the Fertile Crescent cases, create those states.
– The impact of colonialism was instead re: the structures of many governments, and the behavior of local elites
The economic impact of imperialism
– Two major features of the colonial legacy:
1) administrative centralisation
– Economically, the emergence of the domestic market and social stratification contributed to the emergence of a new ideology: nationalism.
– Also created a new class of landlords and merchants who later emerged as the championship class of nationalism and independence
– Second, a domestic market was stimulated and exchanges increased to such an extent that new linkages between the countryside and the city were created. The stimulation of the market was just as important as intellectuals having more contact with the west in regards to giving rise to nationalism.
– Colonialism introduced contradictory trends in the area – it generate economic forces which tied the Arab economies to the West in a dependency relationship, and made for the domestic integration of the state. A new class of businessmen, landlords and professionals emerged and held high the torch of nationalist resistance to imperialism. It also weakened the dynasties of bureaucratic oligarchies in the Maghreb states and Egypt, while it buttressed many of the traditional secular dynasties in the Gulf.
– Muslims accepted diversity, and started to perceive the universal as embodied in the particular – that is, the universal principles of Islam were required to be embodied in the workings of the local state.
– Needs of society were not being met by the extractive policies of the state, which also failed to generate positive trends and growth. Eventually, the conflict between a no-growth society and an extractive state undermined both and opened the way for foreign intervention.
– The confirmation of the particularistic state by colonialism later encountered the revivalist universalistic forces of religion and Arab nationalism.
– State system in the region persists, regardless of individual state weaknesses – there is a sense of identity tied to the state