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William Gorman

Middle East: Meaning of Pan-Arabia

(March 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 13, 26 March 1945, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

This has been an eventful month in the Middle East. Roosevelt conferred with King Ibn Saud of Arabia. After reading a declaration of war against Germany and Japan, the new Egyptian Premier was assassinated. Finally, delegates of seven Arab countries meeting in Cairo agreed to organize an “Arab Federation.” These three events are closely inter-related.

Britain’s Lifeline Threatened

From Egypt to India, almost all the Middle Eastern countries are under British domination. To maintain her sea and land lanes to India, Britain has brutally repressed successive Arab revolts. In addition, the backward physical existence and feudal economy in these areas are direct or indirect results of British imperialist policy. The political specialty of the British Colonial Office is to prop up and be supported in turn by all those who enslave the Arab masses and keep them in ignorance – the capitalists, landlords, kings and priests.

Today the dangers to Britain’s control of the Middle East are growing ever greater. In Iran (Persia) the supposedly joint British-Russian occupation of that country is turning into a Russian side-show. The Stalinist bureaucracy has made no pretensions about restraining its appetite for Persian oil.

In Arabia, American oil companies have an initial investment of a hundred million dollars in the potentially richest oil fields in the world. Obligingly, the American government is now coining Arabian money and training Ibn Saud’s army. American “intervention” in Arabia would be facilitated by the fact that Arabia has been relatively free from British control since Ibn Saud badly routed the army of pro-British King Feisal after the last war. Thus Roosevelt’s conference with Ibn Saud. and with no other Arab ruler. America is siphoning off Arabian oil and Ibn Saud is fattening the royal family on American revenue.

Confronted with two larger powers, America and Russia, both trying to get a toehold in traditionally British colonial territory, the British are frantically trying to strengthen their political position. Thus a conference of British Quislings was called together in Cairo to mouth in Arabic what Churchill and Eden are somewhat reluctant to say in English. After some tom-foolery about an Arab Federation, the conference demanded an end to French rule in Syria and prevention of the growth of the Jewish community in Palestine. There was no reference to British imperialism since Britain sponsored the conference. No critical comment about America and Russia, since these two large powers would not take kindly to criticism from thinly-veiled British sources.

“Federations” and Federations

All this was done under the guise of organizing a federation of Arab countries. There can be no doubt that a real economic, and political federation of the peoples in the Middle East would be desirable. But this is not the British intention. The British imperialists, for their own reasons, maintain the most artificial barriers and boundaries between Arab countries. Transjordania was forcibly torn off from Palestine after the last war and Britain has bitterly fought any unity of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan with Egypt.

It becomes clear that the Pan-Arab hoax was arranged for the British to stack their political chips in preparation for the sharp bargaining at the coming peace conference! The United States has the same purpose in organizing the Latin American conference in Mexico.

This brings us to the recent assassination of Premier Ahmed Maher Pasha of Egypt. The Egyptian people have some bloody memories of British rule and showed no enthusiasm for joining the war even when it was being fought on Egyptian soil. King Farouk, a parasitic, feudal reactionary was always in conflict with the anti-British Wafd Party and the former Premier, Mustapha Nahas Pasha.

Writing in The Nation of March 12, Henry Eulau says: “Nahas Pasha was fired because he opposed British control of the Pan-Arab League.” Farouk, himself a Charlie McCarthy for the British, picked a new Premier more willing to be a pliable tool for the British rulers of Egypt. The new Premier was promptly shot by a nationalist once imprisoned in a British concentration camp in the malarial Sudan.

The Arab masses are simply tired of imperialist plunder, repression and deceit. It is probably true that they don’t recognize fully the danger of Russian and American imperialism. The present jockeying for position in the Middle East is only preparatory motion toward a future war. But before the imperialist powers come to blows in the Middle East, they may all be toppled by the powerful wave of mass insurrections which are surely coming.

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