A new Middle East? The crystallization of the Arab state system after the Second World War

Bruce Maddy-Weitzman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The imminent end of the Second World War seemed to herald great change in the Arab Middle East. A generation of British and French domination was coming to a close, ignominiously, in France’s case. An Arab ‘proto-system’ of sorts had already emerged during the inter-war years. In March 1945, the ruling Arab elites of the incipient system’s ‘core’ - Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Transjordan - joined together with Saudi Arabia and Yemen to establish the League of Arab States, a framework designed to advance their declared common goal of intensified co-operation, particularly in the face of external challenges, and to regulate relations properly between them. To be sure, the new arrangement was a far cry from the unity ideal championed by opposition panArab elements within their societies. Nonetheless, the League’s creation was a milestone in the history of modern Arab politics, establishing both an organizational framework through which Arab states could formulate and co-ordinate common policies, and normative standards of conduct by which regimes could be measured. Taken together with the concurrent, irreparable decline in British and French capabilities in the region, one may speak of 1945 as marking a historical watershed, inaugurating a fully fledged Arab state system.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDemise of the British Empire in the Middle East
Subtitle of host publicationBritain's Responses to Nationalist Movements, 1943-55
EditorsMichael Joseph Cohen, Martin Kolinsky
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)0714644773, 9780714648040, 9780714644776
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013


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