Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Blog

Since the Arab Uprisings of last year, it’s been hard to keep up with the rapid developments enveloping Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Palestine, and practically every other Arab state. In the midst of all this change, however, last week marked the anniversaries of several key moments in Arab history, and we should take the time to reflect on the residual effects of these pivotal events on the current state of the region.

Last week was the 45th anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, known as the “Naksa.” More than any other historical event, it is responsible for the current state of affairs in Israel/Palestine, including the occupation of Palestinian territories and the annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights. It was arguably the most embarrassing in a string of Arab defeats, and the policies undertaken after the ’67 war have had a profound effect on the past 40 years of Arab-Israeli negotiations.

June 6th is also the 30th anniversary of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, leading to a decades-long occupation that sent Palestinian leadership into exile and gave birth to the militant Shi’a movement Hizballah. The question of Lebanon’s territorial sovereignty – and security from future Israeli incursions – is still a central theme of Lebanese politics.

Lastly, June 6th represents an anniversary of a more recent vintage. Two years ago, a young Egyptian named Khaled Said was beaten to death by plain-clothes policemen, sparking a public outcry and laying the organizational framework for what would later become a full-scale revolution.

These events all continue to shape Arab politics today, and their effects are likely to linger on for years to come. As things continue to change, however, new events that we will one day remember and mythologize might break from the precedent of tragedies that have typified the past half-century. Things are changing, and they may well be changing for the better. It’s been a difficult half-century for the Arab world, but we’re long overdue for a change.

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