Europe and the Arab World is a wide-ranging assessment of the prospects for a new relationship between Europe and the Arab world in the coming years. Samir Amin and Ali El Kenz take as their starting point the significantly shifting balance of political forces within the various Arab countries, including the rise of both political Islam and civil society. They argue that the strategic global hegemony of the United States constitutes a major element affecting the Euro-Arab relationship. They then focus on the European Union initiative, originally launched in Barcelona, to put its relations with the Arab countries of the Mediterranean and Gulf regions on a new footing of equality and mutually beneficial cooperation. The authors provide a detailed empirical account of the initiative as well as an historically contextualized, intellectually critical and politically perceptive analysis of the various realities impacting on it.
Samir Amin and Ali El Kenz conclude that, while considerable dialogue and even institution-building have taken place in order to give substance to this attempt to go beyond the colonial legacy of inequality and dependence, little of a concrete kind has been achieved in transforming the underlying economic and political relationships between the Arab Islamic and European Christian worlds of the Mediterranean. Among the many obstacles identified are the overriding and economically deleterious impact of globalized capitalism, and the determination of the United States to impose its own political objectives on the Middle East.
The timeliness of this book's argument is highlighted by the new tensions that have accompanied the U.S. military occupation of Iraq and the Bush administration's political pretensions to 'bring democracy' to the whole region.