Fawaz Gerges sheds light on Nasser, Qutb clash in ‘Making the Arab World’

’Making the Arab World: Nasser, Qutb, and the Clash That Shaped the Middle East,’ by Fawaz Gerges.
Updated 06 May 2018
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Fawaz Gerges sheds light on Nasser, Qutb clash in ‘Making the Arab World’

  • Fawaz Gerges examines the conflict between two towering personalities, Sayyid Qutb and Gamal Abdel Nasser
  • The book is based on extensive research including in-depth interviews with civil society leaders

BEIRUT: In his latest book, “Making the Arab World: Nasser, Qutb, and the Clash That Shaped the Middle East,” Fawaz Gerges examines the conflict between two towering personalities, Sayyid Qutb of the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) and Egyptian revolutionary (and later President) Gamal Abdel Nasser, which marked the beginning of a confrontation that has rocked the Middle East for the past 70 years.
Gerges writes from a position of authority, as a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the author of several acclaimed books. This one is based on extensive research including in-depth interviews with civil society leaders, politicians, and leading activists, which makes for an insightful and educational read.
“My uninhibited access to Qutb’s most inner circle and that of the Ikhwan’s old guard and younger activists provides a unique window into a shadowy, secretive universe, allowing this book to zero in on these years and trace Qutb’s footsteps and actions, thus filling a major gap in the literature,” Gerges writes, when explaining that the years Qutb spent in prison played a vital role in shaping his philosophy. It was there he set out a “revolutionary Islamist project” and came up with a roadmap to implement it.
One of the most surprising revelations in the book is that the young Nasser, along with other Free Officers like Anwar Sadat, was a member of the Brotherhood and had been active in their paramilitary network, known as the Special Apparatus (al-Tanzim Al-Khass).
As Gerges explains, before the 1952 revolution both the Ikhwan and the Free Officers were united in their desire to remove Egypt’s British-backed monarchy. It was only in the late 1950s, as their political discourse became radicalized, that the rupture happened, forever altering the political landscape of the region.
In 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood once again spurned an opportunity to govern Egypt, in part because their presidential candidate, Muhammad Mursi, proved unfit to be president. The result of their failure was the triumphal return of a ‘strongman’ leader in General El-Sisi.
As Gerges notes: “There can be no political transition as long as the Ikhwan, the most influential social movement in the Arab world, and the military-dominated regime are locked in a state of war.”


What We Are Watching Today: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 

Updated 21 May 2018
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What We Are Watching Today: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 

In Venezuela, where elections took place on Sunday, the legacy of the late firebrand socialist leader Hugo Chavez still dominates the country.

President Nicolas Maduro was the hand-picked successor to Chavez and campaigns on a platform of continuing the “Chavismo” policies.

Those policies have plunged the country into a deep economic crisis, despite it having some of the world’s largest oil reserves.

“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is a 2003 documentary, which was filmed by an Irish crew, in the buildup to and during an attempted coup against Chavez in 2002.

It focuses on the role of the private media and the coverage of violent protests.

While it has been accused of pro-Chavez bias, the filmmakers’ close proximity to the unfolding events gives an uncomfortable view of the political schisms that threaten to tear Venezuela apart.