Arab Reform: When, how, and why? (1/2) [Archives:2005/848/Opinion]

June 6 2005

By Prof. Dr. Abdulaziz al-Tarb
Democracy and its application in the Arab World have become the major concern. Many invitations for the same thing: pressing need for reform in individual Arab states and in their mutual enterprises. The USA has involved itself in the calling for quick achievement of this “noble end” cunningly adding Israel into the so-called Great Middle East.

Suddenly, the calls and claims for the fashion of age (reform) have come into vogue. Leaders swam with the current and called for reform in order to escape forward from inevitable entitlements.

Basically, we should hail such a development for which we waited for half a century during which we experienced dictatorship, totalitarianism, corruption, wars, conflicts and human rights violations. We should sooth ourselves with the hope for a future sans oppression, sans terrorism and sans marginalization of peoples. But first of all we have to question hidden intentions and plans then forward logical questions regarding the desired reform, its size, its scale and its methodology in the same way as the journalistic question: how, when, where and why?

First of all, according to psychiatric typical advice, we must first of all admit to the presence of a defect. Then, we should accept the idea of resorting to medicine even if it is bitter. After that, we come to the discussion of the implementation mechanism and avoidance of its shortcomings taking into consideration globalization and its positive points or at least acclimatization to the new environment, making the utmost out of it, and reducing the losses that may take place when enforcing the long-term and multi-step reform.

Facing up to the presence of deficiency means primarily facing up the responsibility on every Arab's shoulder to protect the cultural identity and distinctive traits of our nation. We should learn from other nations and strengthen ourselves and, after immunizing ourselves, indulge in a positive and objective dialogue to maintain both modernism and originality. We should take what benefits us and reject what harms us.

After this admission, we should raise questions about the goals other than the paramount goal sought by people. There are people who raise the issue of reform to serve their own ends, and others raise it to escape from entitlements.

However, those who pursue reform honestly and have the belief that reform is an avoidable pressing need have to conform to the conditions and principles first of which is the desire, intention, resolution, determination and aptitude to contribute to this fundamental issue in the life of Arabs. It will determine their fate and future especially that Human Development Report, released a few months ago, forebode destruction if reform is not to be achieved.

These principles are essential to the success of reform which has many factors that must be taken into consideration and seriously dealt with on the local and external levels.