A message to our leaders: Enough humiliation [Archives:2004/738/Viewpoint]

May 17 2004

It is not a new world war that they will be deciding. They will not discuss a common currency to be used. Nor will they debate about embargoes against Israel. Those Arab leaders are simply and bluntly unable to agree on where and when to hold their summit; a summit that all of us know is a mere gathering to talk about the simplest and lightest reactions to the devastating events in the region.
Haven't they had enough humiliation?
Aren't they ashamed of how the world, and not only their people, is viewing them?
Never in the long history of Arabia have we been subject to such humiliation and weakness. Amid the outrage of the world at the events taking place in our region, our leaders seem to be the least concerned about what is going on. Otherwise, why are they unable to come out with a concrete date and agenda for this so-called annual Arab summit?
On the other hand, one becomes more frustrated to see that the concern about human lives and dignity among Arab leaders also seems to be in record laws. Looking at the reactions to the torture scandals of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, one can only feel pity for not having a common and strong stance from Arab regimes to these horrific images that portray an ugly side to occupation, any occupation.
But on the other hand, it may be quite normal for the reaction to be so mild for a very basic reason. Such tortures probably happen all the time in Arab prisons. The fact is that our regimes have perfected skills in torturing their people and humiliating them in prisons and elsewhere. So, why should we be surprised?
Our sense of weakness and desperation comes from the fact that more than three generations in the Arab world were subject to oppression, lack of freedom, and excessive use of force and brutality. This is why those generations became almost handicapped, with limited overall influence, with limited initiatives, with little courage in bringing out new ideas that may come against the will of the rulers, but which could have had tremendously positive impact on the community.
The reforms that Arab leaders are now proposing are still not with real spirit of wanting change. They seem to be just for the sake of reducing tensions, comforting the angry masses, and possibly absorbing US pressure for reform.
Some may think that it doesn't matter whether those leaders believe in the need for reform, and that the important thing is to have them.
But in my opinion, if we think that there will be reforms in this way, then we will all be fooled. We have had the experience in the past of having an artificial democracy, which is merely to satisfy looks and not for the core and importance of the concepts.
Any reforms therefore, cannot succeed unless they are supported by the commitment of leaders for their own belief that they are in the right.
But this is a bit too difficult to comprehend because the first thing that could happen in a truly democratic situation is that those leaders will lose their chairs.
Frankly speaking, I don't think that they are ready to go that far.
Instead, they seem to be ready to have more humiliation, more than anyone could imagine.