Federation of Arab Republics

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Federation of Arab Republics
اتحاد الجمهوريات العربية
Ittiḥād al-Jumhūrīyāt al-‘Arabīyah
Coat of arms
Coat of arms
The Federation of Arab Republics in 1972.
Capital Tripoli (Libya)
Cairo (Egypt)
Damascus (Syria)
Languages Arabic
Government Confederal republic
Legislature Federal National Assembly
Historical era Cold War
 •  Referenda held 1 September 1971
 •  Federation established 1 January 1972
 •  Disestablished 19 November 1977
 •  1977 2,947,171 km2 (1,137,909 sq mi)
 •  1977 est. 52,703,600 
     Density 18/km2 (46/sq mi)
Currency Libyan dinar
Egyptian pound
Syrian pound
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Libyan Arab Republic
Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Today part of  Egypt

The Federation of Arab Republics (Arabic: اتحاد الجمهوريات العربية‎‎ Ittiḥād al-Jumhūrīyāt al-‘Arabīyah)[1] was an attempt by Libya's Muammar Gaddafi to merge Libya, Egypt and Syria in order to create a United Arab state. Although approved by a referendum in each country on 1 September 1971,[2] the three countries disagreed on the specific terms of the merger. The federation lasted from 1 January 1972 to 19 November 1977.

It is not to be confused with the United Arab Republic, which was a single sovereign state uniting Egypt and Syria from 1958 to 1961.


In 1969, Arab nationalist military officers seized power in Libya. The ideological influence of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser over the new Libyan regime was immediately apparent.[3] The administration was immediately recognized by the Arab nationalist regimes in Egypt, Iraq, Sudan and Syria[4] with Egypt sending experts to aid Libya's inexperienced government.[5] Gaddafi propounded Pan-Arab ideas, proclaiming the need for a single Arab state stretching across North Africa and the Middle East. In December 1969, Libya founded the Arab Revolutionary Front with Egypt and Sudan as a step towards political unification, and in 1970 Syria stated its intention to join.[6]

After Nasser's death in November 1970, his successor, Anwar Sadat, suggested that rather than a unified state, they create a political federation. It was implemented in April 1971 which enabled Egypt, Syria and Sudan to get large grants of Libyan oil money.[7] In February 1972, Gaddafi and Sadat signed an unofficial charter of merger, but it was never implemented as relations broke down the following year. Sadat became increasingly wary of Libya's radical direction, and the September 1973 deadline for implementing the Federation passed by with no action taken.[8]


Three simultaneous referendums on the Federation of Arab Republics were held on 1 September 1971, in Egypt, Libya and Syria.[9] In the Egyptian referendum the proposal was approved by 99.9% of voters,[10] in the Libyan referendum it was approved by 98.6% of voters,[11] whilst in Syria 96.4% voted in favour.[12]

Other Federations of Arab Republics[edit]

  • Federation between Egypt, Libya and Sudan (1969/70–1971)
  • Federation between Egypt, Libya and Syria (1971/72–1974/77)
  • Union between Egypt and Libya within the Federation (1972–1973/74)
  • Union between Egypt and Syria within the Federation (1976–1977)
  • Federation between Egypt, Sudan and Syria (1977)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The literal translation is "Union of Arab Republics".
  2. ^ Nohlen, D, Krennerich, M & Thibaut, B (1999) Elections in Africa: A data handbook, p336 ISBN 0-19-829645-2
  3. ^ Vandewalle 2008, p. 9; Bruce St. John 2012, p. 137.
  4. ^ Blundy & Lycett 1987, p. 60; Kawczynski 2011, p. 18.
  5. ^ Blundy & Lycett 1987, pp. 62–63; Kawczynski 2011, p. 18.
  6. ^ Blundy & Lycett 1987, p. 75; Kawczynski 2011, p. 65; Bruce St. John 2012, p. 186.
  7. ^ Harris 1986, p. 87; Kawczynski 2011, p. 65; Bruce St. John 2012, pp. 151–152.
  8. ^ Kawczynski 2011, p. 66; Bruce St. John 2012, p. 182.
  9. ^ Nohlen, D, Krennerich, M & Thibaut, B (1999) Elections in Africa: A data handbook, p336 ISBN 0-19-829645-2
  10. ^ Nohlen, D, Krennerich, M & Thibaut, B (1999) Elections in Africa: A data handbook, p340 ISBN 0-19-829645-2
  11. ^ Nohlen, D, Krennerich, M & Thibaut, B (1999) Elections in Africa: A data handbook, p528 ISBN 0-19-829645-2
  12. ^ Syrien, 1. September 1971 : Bildung der Vereinigten Arabischen Republik Direct Democracy (in German)


Blundy, David; Lycett, Andrew (1987). Qaddafi and the Libyan Revolution. Boston and Toronto: Little Brown & Co. ISBN 978-0-316-10042-7. 
Harris, Lillian Craig (1986). Libya: Qadhafi's Revolution and the Modern State. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-0075-4. 
Kawczynski, Daniel (2011). Seeking Gaddafi: Libya, the West and the Arab Spring. Biteback. ISBN 978-1-84954-148-0. 
Vandewalle, Dirk (2008), "Libya's Revolution in Perspective: 1969–2000", Libya Since 1969: Qadhafi's Revolution Revisited, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 9–53, ISBN 0-230-33750-3