Sarah Mousa: How Nasser Shaped the Arab Spring

Roundup: Talking About History

Sarah Mousa graduated from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 2010, and was a 2010-2011 Fulbright Scholar in Egypt.

Today marks the 54th anniversary of the foundation of the United Arab Republic (UAR), a unity between Egypt and Syria that was the height of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser's power and the pinnacle of the pan-Arab philosophy that he epitomised.
At that moment in 1958, the Arab world took a decisive step towards declaring its ultimate independence from foreign influence and reclaiming a unity that both Eastern and Western powers had worked to destroy since the Middle East's golden age. Nasser emotionally described the jubilant scenes he witnessed on the day of the UAR's founding, and later called it a victory for the Arabs as a free people, despite the eventual dissolution of the Republic.
A closer look at this time, one hailed as a revolutionary moment in modern Arab history, offers great insight into the region's current struggles. Nasser's philosophies resonated closely with people not only in Egypt, but throughout the Arab world and beyond, making him overwhelmingly popular. However, both the Syrian and Egyptian systems today are rooted in institutions that the Nasser regime either directly or indirectly created. It is these institutions that have pushed the people of both countries to rise, and that have allowed the Assad regime of Syria and Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) in Egypt to continue to exert control over their countries...

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