Boutros Ghali - the former UN general secretary  

Boutros Ghali - the former UN general secretary   

Reviewed by: Wafaa El-housiny

Translated by: Nouran Salah Eddin


 A study by / D. Boutros  Boutros Ghali - the former UN general secretary


First - The Arabic circle or the Arabism of Egypt.

There is no doubt that Egypt's interest in the Arab world, from east and west, predates the Arab domination during the Islamic conquest of this region. The treaty concluded between Pharaoh Ramses II and the Houthis king indicates that the interdependence and interaction between the parts of this region has been centuries earlier than its Arabism (1) the national charter confirmed that interdependence and communication when it said" long ago there were no dams between the countries of the region where the Arab nation now lives. They also used to share the same history and the same positive contribution in influencing this history. Egypt, especially, didn't live its life in isolation from the surrounding region, however, it was always, consciously and unconsciously, affecting its surroundings and affected by them as the part interacts with the whole. This is a constant fact demonstrated by the study of the pharaonic history, the Egyptian and humanitarian civilization. It is then confirmed by the realities of the ages of African-Roman domination. The Islamic conquest was a light that highlighted this fact, and its features and made a new way of spiritual consciousness thought.


In the last century, Ibrahim Pasha's invasions between the Sham region and the Nile valley region as well as his takeover of Syria,  were a repetition of the scheme drawn by Thumose and Ramses II dozens of centuries earlier. It was also a symbol of the strategic integration. However, Mohamed Ali's policy towards the Arab world has failed because he did not try to strengthen bonds between the two regions with Arab Ideology. Moreover, England, which was one of the most powerful nations in the world, stood against the retention of the Ottoman Empire as it had an interest in tearing this empire apart. Mohamed Ali and then his successors were obliged to leave the Arab circle directing toward the African circle represented at the time in the Nile valley unit. As a result, a disconnect happened between the Egyptian Patriotic Movement and the national movements in the east and west. This disconnect manifested after the Second World War, as the conflict and disparity between the Hashemite liberation movement based in England and the Egyptian Liberation Movement based on England's resistance.


Then Balfour's promise and the Zionist activity in Palestine were two of the factors in returning to the Arab circle. The establishment of the Arab League was the first legal and

regulatory manifestation of Egypt's re-entry into the Arab circle. The first Palestine war was the test that showed the essence of this Arabism. However, the one who created Arabism in its modern concept, the concept based on the second half of the 20th-century requirements was Gamal Abdel Nasser.

He has explained Egypt's Arabism according to military logic and emotional analysis, as he said about the military logic( fighting in Palestine is not a fight in a foreign land, not an affection, however, it is a duty to defend oneself (3). He also said in his compassionate analysis (and sometimes I feel that I am defending my house and my children...When I meet, while wandering over the ruined ruins, some of the refugee children who fall under the clutches of siege after their houses were destroyed and they lost all that they have. Between them, there was a little girl the same age as my daughter, I saw her going out to danger and random bullets, pushing toward starving and cold, looking for food or clothes. I also used to tell myself it may happen to my daughter. I believe that what was happening to Palestine may have happened and still may happen for any country in this region as long as it is resigned to the factors, elements, and forces that now govern it.

The first diplomatic movement made by Gamal Abdel Nasser regarding Egyptian Arabism took place within the framework of the recent Arab organization, the Arab League.


Since June 17, 1950, the Arab states have signed a collective treaty aimed at strengthening joint Arab action through establishing a group of new Arab authorities, including the joint defense council, the Military Advisory Committee composed of the chiefs of

staff of the Arab arms, the Permanent Military Committee, the United Arab Command, and others. However, the Arab countries were late in depositing the instruments of ratification with the League, so the treaty was no longer effective according to the provisions of article 13 of the treaty except on 23th of August 1952, after one month of the Egyptian revolution.


The first meeting of the Joint Defense Council was held on the 4th of September 1953, and the second meeting was held on the 7th of January 1954. Moreover, the Military committees related to this council were held. During the conference of Heads of Arab Arms on the 15th of August 1953, President Gamal Abdel Nasser delivered a speech expressing his hopes that  Arab Collective Security would be given its truth. (5) This try to support the joint Arab action at the military level was combined with another try to support him at the economic level. Our country signed the Trade Exchange Agreement and Regulation of Transitional Trade among League member states on the 7th of September 1953,  the Treaty on the Payments of Current  Transactions, and the Transfer of Capital between League States.

At that time, the evacuation agreement was signed with England on October 19, 1954 (6). If we can consider this agreement as a great victory for Egypt and a great victory for Gamal Abdel Nasser's diplomacy, from another side, it has opened the way for much Western pressure to push Egypt and other Arab countries into the Western camp enclosure. Those Western attempts resulted in the first great political battle within the Arab world between the supporters of the Western camp and the supporters of the reliance on Arab nationalism, among those who consider that real collective security cannot be established without association with the Western camp and those who believe that the Arab collective security should emerge from and depend on the region itself.


This dispute is concentrated between Cairo and Baghdad between Gamal Abdel Nasser and Nory Elsaadi. In a speech delivered by Gamal Abdel Nasser to the American magazine

"The June Staines Endworld Report " on August 20, 1954 (7) he objected to any defense treaty in which the great countries are involved. he also offered several arguments to enhance his opinion, like:


1- Psychological context:(( The Arabs are afraid  to fall under the Western countries, and their fear makes the best thing to do is to leave the special measures of any system to defend the region where they live

2- ((Military argument: Whenever Arabs get the needed weapons in the war, they can defend themselves.

3- A political argument is that military association with the US or Britain is considered a kind of (disguised colonialism ). He expressed this by the phenomenon of neo-colonialism which is known as (( New colonialism)).


At the end of his speech, he refers to the policy of positive neutrality and nonalliance by saying: that Nehru's neutrality in India would help to end the Cold War. Moreover, India may be central to the defense system for Asia and the Far East. Egypt also can play a similar role in defending the Middle East.


The Western camp's pressure continued, with one of the first results being the conclusion of the Iraqi-Turkish treaty in April 1954. This treaty later led to the establishment of the Baghdad Alliance which was joined by England, a prominent member of the Atlantic Alliance. It is not our goal to mention here the most important arguments put forward by both parties in the dispute that divided the Arab world into two camps. (8) However, what concerns us is that this dispute encouraged Gamal Abdel Nasser to strive for Egypt's Arabism outside the Arab League's domain.



The activity of Egyptian diplomacy tended to conclude bilateral treaties with certain Arab countries. Egypt concluded a treaty with Syria on October 2o, 1955, and a treaty with Saudi Arabia on October 27, 1955. Both the Egyptian-Syrian treaty and the Egyptian-Saudi treaty contained the same principles included in the Arab collective security treaty which was after Iraq acceded to Baghdad's alliance.


Egyptian diplomacy not only entered into these two agreements, but, it had concluded a tripartite agreement between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen on April 21, 1956. Its main aim was to establish a collective Arab guarantee to replace the frozen collective guarantee. It also aimed to isolate Iraq to face its call for alignment and association with the Western camp in order not to expand the circle of Arab States loyal to the Western camp.


At this period, the Suez Canal Company was nationalized. This nationalization later led to the tripartite aggression that happened against Egypt by Britain, France, and Israel in 1956.


If bilateral or tripartite treaties concluded outside the Arab League scope haven't been carried out, and if the collective security treaty concluded within the framework of the league has not been carried out too, the Arab spirit prevailed. During the aggression, Egyptian aircraft resorted to Saudi airports, and petroleum pipes exploded in Syria. Gamal Abdel Nasser confirmed in his famous speech in Cairo on November 9,  1956, that it was Egypt that asked the allied Arab States not to intervene in the battle in order not to open another front in which Arab countries might not be able to stand. He added:( this is the situation of the Arab States which we have allied.... Honorable attitude calls for pride and trust), he then continued( why do I say this?) - He answered his question by saying: ( because enemies say (( where is the Arab nationalism?... desiring to eliminate them)). He then explained the close relationship between the tripartite aggression against Egypt and colonialism's desire to eliminate Arab nationalism. However, Arab nationalism has achieved the opposite of what was intended, proved to be effective, and took action after just speaking words.



We can see Gamal Abdel Nasser explaining to world public opinion on more than one occasion the reality of Egypt's Arabism and the reality of Arab nationalism. In a speech to a correspondent of the Associated Press on November 31, 1956, Gamal Abdel Nasser clarified that Arab nationalism is a federal integrative movement that is not different from similar movements established in other continents of the world. (As European peoples are working towards European unity, and as twenty-one independent states in North America and South America have been associated with an American Union, in the same way, the Arab states are also working to achieve a high ideal of fruitful cooperation. However, each Arab state retains its entity and personality in the same way as Egypt). He then added that ( The idea of the Arab Empire is foreign fiction and it is just like foreign propaganda based on ( ignorance or worse).

Colonialism had not subsided. A new call had come from the US to link the Arab world to its axis. This call had come in what was called, the Eisenhower Project. British diplomacy had also tried to bring Jordon into the Baghdad alliance.

Egyptian diplomacy has not been silent on these Anglo-Saxon Endeavors, and its response was represented in concluding a new treaty called (the Arab Solidarity Treaty) on January 19, 1957, between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria for ten years. Through this year, Arab states that have signed this treaty shall provide financial support to get rid of the colonial domination. (9)

Gamal Abdel Nasser had explained once again his country's position in the new Anglo-Saxon attempts by saying in a statement on January, 24,1957( we are opposed to any military alliance outside the Arab states. I also believe that the battle is continuing and we are now going through a decisive phase. Colonial powers have tried to bring us into

foreign military alliances, that is, to bring us into areas of foreign influence, things which we do not accept. He then added that the Baghdad alliance was a turning point in the Middle East's history which is opposed by all Arab peoples and considered a continuation of foreign domination. (10)

When the US saw that Egypt had not accepted the Eisenhower Project, but rather encouraged the other Arab states not to accept it, and insisted that they adhere to the policy of not associating with the Western camp, the US tried to isolate Egypt and remove it from the Arab circle. This was by attempting to establish a new Arab congregation led by King Saud. His visit to the US ( February 1957)  was a preamble to that attempt. Moreover, the events in Jordon in April 1957 were also a preamble to that same attempt.

.While the western camp states were trying to link the Arab world to this camp, a very serious incident occurred in the history of Arab nationalism, that is, a complete and comprehensive unity has been established between Egypt and Syria under the name of the United Arab Republic.


At the beginning of February 1958, both the president of the Syrian Republic and the president of the Egyptian Republic met in Cairo and issued a statement declaring unity between the two Republics. They also agreed to hold a general poll within 30 days on the unity and the personality of its president. On February 21, the poll was held in both Republics, resulting in the approval of the unity and the election of Gamal Abdel Nasser as the president of the United Arab Republic. On March 5, 1958, the interim constitution for this Republic was issued including the basic elements of the new Arab states. Three days later ( 8 March 1956) and after short negotiations, an agreement was reached between the United Arab Republic and the Kingdom of Yemen to establish another official union ( the Arab States Union). According to this agreement diplomatic representation between the two states would be abolished. Moreover, they shall adopt a unified foreign policy, they shall have a unified federal army and shall have a single economic policy. (11)

This unitary movement did not emerge only between Egypt, Syria, and Yemen, but it spread also to Jordan and Iraq, as a bilateral unit was established between them on February 14, 1958. The King of Iraq was appointed president of the federation, provided that the federation shall have a central government accountable to a federal parliament elected by the Iraqi parliament and the Jordanian parliament. In less than a few months, three Arab Units were established. All these units aim to be a step towards unity. The speeches delivered by Gamal Abdel Nasser during this period expressed the hopes that fell the Arab people. In one of his speeches in Aleppo on March 19, 1958, he says:( these actions that we see and feel throughout the Arab world, are just the beginning of victory....We all feel in our hearts that the crisis is over and the relief has begun, the reign of the real Arab renaissance has begun, and the reign of the true Arab unity has begun) (12). In his speech on March 20, 1958, after returning from Syria, he says an expression of the spirit that prevailed in the Arab world:( I came back from Syria... I came back from the Syrian region to the United Arab Republic with optimism and hope.....(13)

When Iraq's revolution broke out on June 14, 1958, Gamal Abdel Nasser commented on this historical event by saying ( praise be to Allah, the sacred encroachment on which the Arab nation is determined  is moving forward from victory to victory)...(14)

However, colonialism couldn't bear the Arab unified movement, so it harried to stand against this sacred encroachment and to hinder that march. American Naval Forces descended on Lebanon and British Parachute Forces descended on Jordon.

President Gamal Abdel Nasser commented on these challenges in Damascus: "In 1956, Israel assaulted Egypt, and the prime minister of Britain stood to say that Britain and France had decided to intervene to separate the fighting armies, separating Israel's army from Egypt's ...Today farce is repeated and tragedy is repeated..., Today they are saying that there is an interference from the United Arab Republic in Lebanon, and that is why they are occupying Lebanon to defend it. They are also saying that there is interference from the United Arab Republic in Amman, and that is why they are occupying Amman. This is carelessness...This is occupation...This is colonialism)(15).

 Indeed, the new military intervention based on the alliance between British and American colonialism had succeeded in disrupting the march of the sacred encroachment. It also made the Levant countries miss the opportunity to achieve unity. When foreign forces withdrew from Amman and Beirut, the wheel of the encroachment had stopped and then a disagreement arose between Cairo and Baghdad after the split between Iraq's revolutionary leadership. Abd al-Karim Qasim and Arif disagreed on the interpretation of the link between the United Arab Republic and Iraq. When the military coup 'état in Mosul in March 1959, aimed at achieving unity, failed, the disagreement increased between Cairo and Baghdad. The events came one after another and on the top of which was the separation movement in Damascus in September 1961. The bilateral unity ended, and President Gamal Abdel Nasser refused to use military force to put down the separatist movement, although he was able to do so at that time. He justified his situation by saying:" Unity is a popular will, it can’t be a military operation). On October 15, 1961, Cairo recognized the Syrian state once again, and Gamal Abdel Nasser demanded it to be recognized by the United Nations and the United Arab Republic. He also demanded the Arab League establish a commission to investigate certain facts. Through this action, he places the task of supervising the unitary movement on the League as was the case in the early years of the 1952 revolution.

In an official statement addressed to the Arab nation broadcasted on October 15, 1961, the president confirmed his belief in Arab unity despite all those shocks by saying:" I believe, as I believe in Allah, that this experience will not be the last one. However, it was a pioneering process that we greatly benefited from in our appreciation. What we have benefited from will be ammunition for the Arab future and Arab unity which I feel my faith in increases strength and toughness...I believe in the inevitability of unity among the peoples of the Arab nation as I believe in this life and the dawn after night, no matter how long...) (16)


Moreover, returning to the Arab League to be the Arab unified framework and the center for settling disagreements between Arab states again, never meant that Egypt abandoned its Arabism or that Gamal Abdel Nasser might be disappointed in the Arabs. In the speech delivered by him on February 1962 on the occasion of Unity Day, which means five months since Syria's secession from Egypt, he said:( My brothers and sisters, some people wonder why we celebrate Unity Day as long as we saw what happened to the unity in Syria? I heard this question and also I heard who says: let's leave the Arabs occupied with their affairs, and let's occupy ourselves with ours too....We must realize that our Arabism and Egypt's Arabism are not a matter of changing circumstances, however, it is a constant Arabism. We must also realize that unity will remain a target...The unity of the Arab nation

also is natural as the nature of our very existence.

In this speech, he referred to the new strategy which he considered necessary to achieve the desired Arab unity. He also differentiates between the unity of the target and the unity of class by saying :( There are some people today who talk about the unity of the class for any target. Is the unity of the Arab class to serve the colonialism and the targets of colonialism or the unity of the Arab class to serve and achieve the targets of the Arab nation? The unity of the target is more important than the unity of the class. we demand the unity of the target, however, we look at the slogans and appeals that call for the unity of class with some doubt and a kind of suspicion because the unity of the class with the difference in the target leads the whole Arab nation to danger.

Mohamed Hassanein Heikal explained the way of the implementation of this strategy in his article in Al-Ahram newspaper on December 29, 1962. In his article, he differentiates between Egypt the country, and Egypt the revolution. He said that Egypt the country should cooperate with Arab governments whether its political orientation within the framework of the Arab League or other international organizations. Regarding the revolution, it must go beyond the political boundaries of Arab countries to address nations directly.

However, the attempt to concentrate the joint Arab action within the framework of the Arab League and regional technical organizations did not achieve the desired result. Moreover, the meeting of the League Council in Chtoura was about to lead to the League's bombing after Egypt announced its intention to withdraw from it following an argument between Egyptian and Syrian delegates and the new military coup d 'état in Iraq in February 1963 which led to the fall of Abd al-Karim Qasim governments. Moreover, the coup d 'état took place a month later in Syria on March 8, 1963. Both of them set the stage for a new attempt to establish a partial unit outside the League scope between Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. Here is a new experience that took place in the history of the Arab Unionist Movement which is the discussions that took place in Cairo in March and April 1962 among the three country's delegations for the establishment of a new tripartite federal state. (19)


The statement of April 17, 1963, was issued announcing the New Unity Project(20), however, disagreements between the three states soon prevailed and the project stopped.

Indeed, these disagreements were not constricted to these states, however, they prevailed in all Arab countries. There was the Yemen war which led to a serious confrontation between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Moreover, an armed clash has taken place between Algeria and Morocco in which the organized armies from both countries took part in bloody battles. The disagreement reached its peak between Tunisia and Morocco after Tunisia announced Mauritania's independence which Morocco considers an integral part.

Meanwhile, a new initiative was launched by President Gamal Abdel Nasser which calmed the turbulent situations in the Arab world by calling for an Arab summit. In his speech on December 17, 1963, on the occasion of the ninth Flag Day, he proposed to Arab states to hold a summit within the framework of the Arab League. The conference was already held in Cairo on January 13, 1964, and was a new success for Arab nationalism. Gamal Abdel Nasser commented on this conference in his speech with an Indian journalist on February 6, 1964:( This conference was .... the first Arab conference of its kind, and will be the first in a series of similar meetings. We have decided to return to the meeting in August this year in Alexandria. We have also agreed to meet every year in the scope of the Arab League which is revived now in a shape that may be similar to a confederation form ... Then the tangible gains achieved by the conference and the first one of that we decided to implement a


In this speech, the president refers to a new strategy to achieve unity. After the unity of class and the unity of target, he suggests the unity of action method as he says:( Everything depends on the Arab's unity, and I do not mean constitutional unity, but I mean the unity of action which may be as important as the unity of target. I mean deep national solidarity which is wide enough to confront and fight the enemy at the same time. Our first duty to achieve this target is to stop our internal disagreements, settle our disputes, and resume our friendly relations. This mission was between the results of the conference. (22)


The summit was then held several times and also established several permanent authorities within the framework of the Arab League including the Council of Kings and Heads of State, the Follow-up Committee of Personal Representatives of Kings and Presidents, the Jordan River Water Management Authority, and the Unified Arab Leadership. Gamal Abdel Nasser did not stop at just those authorities to activate the joint Arab action. However, he resorted to treaties and bilateral engagement at the same time, as he signed a joint defense agreement with Syria on November 4, 1966, and a military agreement with Jordon on May 30, 1967. Iraq also joined this agreement on June 4, 1967.

On the morning of June 5, 1967, the Zionist aggression took place. What concerns us about this military setback that the Arab world passed by after this aggression is to prove two things: First, the extent of solidarity between the Arab states from the gulf to the ocean. Our solidarity makes them in hard times forget what is between them from hatred Moreover, the extent of interdependence between the Arab western and the Arab eastern countries despite the Arab enemies' claim that the Arab western countries do not hate Israel.

Second, the extent of the spiritual power of leader Gamal Abdel Nasser in the Arab world came out all over the Arab countries on 9 and 10 June 1967 demanding that Gamal Abdel Nasser continue in his leadership after he announced his intentions to renounce the presidency. This is only because Arab public opinion has consciously realized that defeat is not only Egypt's defeat but that of the Arab world. Moreover, what Israel has achieved is not the work of her own hands, but colonialism.


After this, a new battle started led by Gamal Abdel Nasser for Arabism in general and Egypt's Arabism in particular, as he always stated that he could recover Sinai and end the effect of aggression on the Egyptian front in a short time if he abandoned the eastern front and left the burden of defending it on the shoulders of those who has fallen into aggression. However, he refused and insisted on keeping Arabism with its conclusive meaning. Moreover, he struggled in the three years that came after the defeat of June 1967 for Egypt's Arabism and Arabism in general. His struggle was at three levels


He struggled at the military level to rebuild the armed forces. He achieved remarkable success as he was able on July 23, 1969, to announce to the national conference of the Arab Socialist Union the beginning of a new phase in the Arab-Israeli confrontation which is called attrition. The military battle escalated until, according to Jamal Abdel Nasser, it reached a war of a new kind in history, the Electronics War of the Day and the Infrared War of the Night (23)


In addition, he struggled on the Arab diplomatic level to unify ranks and settle the disagreements between Arab countries. As a result, the Khartoum Conference was held in August 1967, and it succeeded in settling some Arab disagreements. Furthermore, it decided to provide economic support for both Egypt and Jordan until the effects of the aggression were removed. The Council of Ministries for Foreign Affairs of the Arab countries met in August 1969, and the Arab summit also met in Rabat between 20-23 December 1969, followed by confrontational meetings held in September 1969, and in February, June, and August 1970. Nasserist diplomacy has not only attempted to reunite all Arab ranks but has worked to clear disagreements between Palestinian Organizations and some Arab countries, such as that between them and the government of Beirut (October 1969) and between them and the government of Amman (September 1970).

In all these conferences and international meetings, Egyptian diplomacy struggled to spread more light to disclose the facts of the Arab issue and get more support which enabled it to remove the disturbing image grown by colonization in other countries. That image which the colonization aimed to use in letting the world think that the Arab world is the cause of aggression and that Israel is no more than a small violated country.... and the Arab diplomacy achieved great success which surpassed the assessment of all people, and the international public opinion converted to the Arab side after it was for Israel because of the colonization.


At the end of these three years of this brutal and bitter battle led by Jamal Abdel Nasser at the military, Arab, and international levels, the world was surprised by the bold move of a new diplomatic movement that neither the enemy nor its allies anticipated. This was by approving the proposal that William Rogerz, the US Secretary of State proposed, which includes ceasing fire for 3 months and returning to contact with Ambassador Yarng… The great leader died, while he was working to settle the armed conflict happened between the government of Amman and the Palestinian resistance.

Finally, our aim from this rapid study was not so much to investigate all the events and attitudes that show Jamal Abdel Nasser’s diplomacy for the sake of Egyptian Arabism, to the extent that the Arab aim was to highlight the features of his philosophy from his Struggle for Egypt’s Arabism and the Arab nationalism.

And to talk to the rest.


Source / International Affairs Magazine- January


Also attached to the study in file form