Since its inception, the Arab state has been going through a multifaceted, structural crisis. This is partly due to the colonial and post-colonial historical context in which many states were born and built. Among the inherent deficiencies are subservience to foreign powers, fragmentation at the regional level and authoritarianism at the domestic level. This crisis has aggravated over past decades and manifested itself in various forms of failure:

Failure to establish an inclusive participatory political system
Failure to build a strong economy and a sustainable developmental model
Failure to handle international affairs in a balanced manner aloof of subservience to foreign powers‎
Failure ‎‎to reach broad consensus and build a national identity capable of accommodating all social segments
Failure to achieve lasting Arab cooperation and overcome the regional disintegration created by post-World War arrangements


The apparent failure of Arab states and the continuous escalation of their crises overshadowed the regional order‎‎. Despite numerous attempts for unity and convergence, the Arab world has so far failed to build an efficient regional system that is homogeneous in orientation and unified in its foreign policies. Since its foundation, the Arab League has acted primarily as a formal framework for meetings without transforming into a driver of cooperation and joint work. ‎‎Other regional forms of convergence such as the Maghreb Union, the Arab Cooperation Council and the Gulf Cooperation Council have failed as well to mobilise the capabilities of their member states and face the challenges of economic and cultural globalisation. The former has perished, the second has been paralysed, and the latter is functioning but with little effect. On the other hand, fragmentation has replaced unity and competition has replaced integration. The entire region is plunged into endless, complex encounters with foreign intervention adding more salt to the wound.

The Arab Spring has only uncovered the extent of fragility and vulnerability of states‎‎ and the weakness of the regimes that have been in power for decades. The number of Arab countries threatened with instability, insecurity, social divides and territorial integrity is increasing. ‎‎The already ailing regional order is collapsing amidst competing agendas. Its recovery is subject to new arrangements capable of causing structural reforms in Arab states. Alternatively, the Arab world will remain an open arena for regional conflicts, and conflict will remain the key factor in shaping the future of the Middle East.

‎The 11th Al Jazeera Forum will discuss the enduring crises of the Arab state and their impact on the Middle East at large.

Discussion themes:

- The Arab State in historical context

- Reasons for failure and manifestations of the crisis

- Does the Arab Spring still represent a prospect for reform ‎‎and change domestically and regionally?

- The youth and the crisis of the Arab state

- Human rights in political transition

- 100 years after the Balfour Declaration: What does the existence of Israel mean for the region?

- What options do Arabs have vis-à-vis the emerging regional powers: Is conflict inevitable?

- Where is the Middle East headed?