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Encyclopedia of the Middle East


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Nasserism - Nasserism is a Pan-Arab ideology based on the ideas of former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who died in 1970. There are several surviving "Nasserist" parties, though Nasser himself died in 1970.  In theory, it is hard to differentiate between their ideology and that of the different Ba'ath parties. They all claim to favor socialism, pan-Arabism, anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism and anti-Zionism.  Nasserist parties insist that they favor democracy, though the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser was not democratic. Evidently, what really distinguishes Nasserists from adherents of the Iraqi or Syrian Baath parties is that the Nasserist parties are based around the personality cult of  Gamal Abdel Nasser,

Nasserism is a revolutionary Arab nationalist and pan-Arab ideology, combined with variably defined and implemented socialist aspirations. It calls its brand of socialism, "Arab Socialism." It has a complex relation with Islam, like Baath ideology, since it is interested in leading the Islamic ouma, but at the same time wishes to maintain separation of church and state, leading to conflicts with Islamism.  Nasserists, like Baathists, combat what they see as Western interference in Arab affairs. Because of Nasser's leadership of the non-aligned world, Nasserists, more than Baathists, are interested in promoting solidarity of the developing and non-aligned world, presumably with themselves at the head of the movement.

As Nasser himself is still revered, Nasserism is still an ideological force in the Arab world. It cannot be said to be a political force. The  Egyptian Arab Democratic Nasserist Party, theoretically the successor to Nasser's Arab Socialist Union, is an opposition party in Egypt today. It  failed to win any seats in the Egyptian parliament, and seems to have lost its support.

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan radical president, told Al--Jazeera in 2006:

Someone talked to me about his pessimism regarding the future of Arab nationalism. I told him I was optimistic, because the ideas of Nasser are still alive. Nasser was one of the greatest people of Arab history, to say the least, a Nasserist, ever since I was a young soldier.

This profession may have been a device to ingratiate himself with Arab audiences rather than a real ideological statement.

Ami Isseroff

October 14, 2008

Synonyms and alternate spellings: Gamal Abd El Nasser, Gemal Abdul Nasser, Jamal Abdel Nassar...

Further Information: History of Egypt Brief History of Israel and Palestine  Ba'ath Pan-Arabism Aflaq, Michel

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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org.  Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary is at our Middle East Glossary.

Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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