The Egyptian Press Syndicate held a conference for former Sudanese prime minister Al-Sadeq Al-Mahdi to discuss his recent book “The Arab nation, its situation and fate”, an analysis of the current situation of the Arab nation-state in its geopolitical context.
The discussion was an opportunity to speak about several regional issues with the former foreign minister Amr Moussa and former head of the foreign affairs committee in the now defunct Shura Council and political analyst Mustafa Al-Fekki.
The core of Al-Mahdi’s book and his subsequent discussion with Mousa centred on a reconsideration of the history of Arab nationalism, asking whether the project should be resigned to the historical archive as a failed endeavour or whether there is some remnant to be salvaged in the face of contemporary pressures. Rather than a singular sphere of allegiance that would structure a nation’s motivations, Al-Mahdi proposed that there are four spheres in which the current nation-state must act: the Islamic, the regional, the international, and the Arab sphere.
Moussa claimed that while the Arab state-building and regional coordination of the immediate post-independence era has been eclipsed by new struggles, the fate of Arab nations is still tied to one another as evinced by the Tunisian revolution’s role in spreading regional uprisings.
The return to the concept of nation-state comes at a time when Arab countries must readdress the threats that face their sovereignty in the form of terrorism. For Al-Mahdi, the prevalence of failed states by various corrosive factors may be an important reason why the Ismalic State (IS) targets youths, according to Al-Mahdi.
Taking Syria as an example, he contended that military action will not solve the subtending cause of terrorism in the region, which he sees as a statist issue.
In the Arab Spring, Al-Mahdi saw a reformist movement with real demands that were largely left unrealised.
Al-Fekki agreed with Al-Mahdi that IS targeting internal crises in the Middle East and in Europe.