The Arab states had gained their sovereignty after the end of the Second World War however they found themselves quickly involved in the Cold War antagonisms between the United States and the Soviet Union.
At the end of the Second World War, there were still tensions in Egypt because of the Treaty of 1936.
England did not want to give Egyptians their sovereignty because they needed the Suez Canal in order to rule the maritime route. Therefore, Egypt was still ruled by the treaty.
King Farouq, the unpopular king who lost the 1948 Arab war against Israel, was not ready to implement a democracy. The Egyptians deposed Faruq’s government by a coup d’état planned by the Free Officers in 1952. They were a group of nine men and Colonel Gamal Abd al-Nasser was one of their leaders. According to Cleveland (2009), the Free Officers were a group of “pragmatic nationalists” and “military bureaucrats” who did not have a precise political plan or ideological inclinations.
Abd al-Nasser abolished the parliamentary parties, the monarchy, and declared that Egypt will be ruled by the RCC (The Revolutionary Command Council). Nasser started implementing land and economic reform, judicial laws that removed all the titles such as pasha and bey, and societal reform. All these reforms made Nasser very popular in Egypt and he allowed Egypt to rise in power and influence within the region. In 1956, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal.
Therefore, Nasser, the secular dictatorial government, wanted to develop an Arab nationalism in the region. Nasser regime embodied the ideals and philosophy of the Pan-Arabism. They were determined to develop a political unity through the use of Arabism and Pan-Arab ideologies.
The creation of the United Arab Republic (UAR) in early 1958 had increased the leadership of Egypt in the region. A group of Syrian politicians, members of the Ba’th Party, asked Nasser to form a Syrian-Egyptian union called the UAR and to be the president. Therefore, Nasser convinced Syria and Jordan to accept the theme of pan-Arabism. However, some Syrian military units revolted against Nasser’s rule and stopped the UAR union. Nasser did not succeed in forming a pan-Arab league under his command.
Lebanon and Jordan did not accept Nasser’s leadership and they preferred to remain pro-western.
After World War II, Transjordan had moved from a foreign mandate to independence. After Transjordan’s involvement in the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, a massive Palestinian exodus of half a million refugees arrived on their land. Then, when King Abdallah had appropriated the West Bank, 400,000 more Palestinians were added to Jordan’s population. King Abdullah allowed the Palestinians to acquire the Jordanian citizenship in order to win their commitment. However, the Palestinians were still blaming Abdallah for his cooperation with the British before the war.
A Palestinian murdered King Abdullah in 1953 and his 18-year-old son, Hussein, took the throne. The new King decided to follow Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia instead of joining the Baghdad Pact. However, the King Husayn decided to ask for US military support and economic when he felt that “pan-Arabism appeared to be more dangerous to the monarchy than were ties to the West” (Cleveland, 2009). In addition, King Husayn asked the British for military assistance. Therefore, Husayn resisted the pan-Arabism and the socialist and the Islamic revolution. He implanted a liberal, secular constitutional monarchy which has a free elected parliament with the authority to overrule royal decisions.
Nasser, the popular Arab leader, tried to influence his Arab neighbors to espouse the theme of pan-Arabism but he could not convince Lebanon and Jordan leaders to join him.
Therefore, He had not succeeded to form a Pan-Arab league because pan-Arabism was also challenged by nationalist particularism, where people have a profound sense of their identity as Egyptians, as distinct from “Arabs.”