Courtesy Reuters

Between Cairo and Damascus

If the October 1973 War represented the zenith of pan-Arab solidarity, the Sinai Accord, concluded in September of 1975, must surely represent its ebb and disintegration. With the outbreak of the October War and the deployment of the oil weapon, the dreams that had for some time tantalized the minds of politically conscious Arabs appeared to be coming true. A traditionally divided Arab world was acting in unison and Arab armies were finally getting a chance to redeem their honor in a sharp break with a humiliating record of defeats. And the superior and resented West was finally being humbled and made to pay for the psychological scars and political and cultural dislocations that its dominance had inflicted upon the Arab world.

To the faithful among the Arabs it seemed as though wrongs were beginning to be righted, that the Arab world had managed to find its place in the sun. For a culture that had always viewed the world with a large measure of fatalism and that had sustained itself through a long stretch of frustrations and setbacks by dreams of sudden resurrection, it all seemed to make sense and to conform to a cyclical vision of history which sees individual careers and whole social orders rise and fall in a somewhat mysterious manner that is often seen as a way of humbling the mighty and redressing the grievances of the weak. The achievements in October of 1973 seemed to lend credence to what the most ambitious advocates of pan-Arabism and Arab solidarity had claimed for their vision: a united Arab world capable of getting over the problem of impotence and international neglect.

Two years later the euphoria had dissipated, and traditional Arab rivalries and differences, papered over and perhaps forgotten during the October War, had reemerged. The Sinai Accord brought them out into the open and confirmed the deep division in Arab ranks. Arab politics, like politics elsewhere, has its ironies, and the irony of the Sinai Accord and the polemics and

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