Arab World’s change phobia [Archives:2005/858/Opinion]

July 11 2005

By Prof. Dr. Abdulaziz al-Tarb
If Arabs are frank with themselves, they would confess that they are going towards an essential change and a new economic and political life which would substantially impact their future.

The Arab states (the republican ones) are to move into the necessary new republic. They should invite all people to contribute to the transformation, with the consent of the elite who used to think and plan for us. It is time they listened well.

The moment is so fine that no one individual can manage diagnosing it. It is no easy task because we don't have the experts able to dismantle the fact from such a complex

moment as the one we are experiencing nowadays.

– Yemen: The implementation of sales tax and the “dose”.

– Lebanon: The parliamentary elections and the international investigations in the death of martyr al-Hariri.

– Egypt: Amendments to Presidential Elections Act.

– Sudan: The final settlement of the South and Darfur issues.

– Saudi Arabia: Continued chase of outlaws.

– Iraq: Braced for constitution plebiscite and trial of former regimes' figures.

– Syria: Period after Ba'ath Party's Conference and approval of amendments.

– Kuwait: Expectations after appointment of first woman in Cabinet.

The conditions of the Arab World should be internally controlled having, on the other hand, links with the external world. We are witnessing a unique mixture characterized by a broad-based public movement not only in terms of politics and economy. Its uncontrolled effects are all pervasive. Consequently, in every case, the affected Arabs are get apprehensive or rather hesitant. This is natural but it disheartens those aspiring to create a better reality. Arab political life is experiencing something totally new in its history.

Seeing this development growing out of strict centralization in governance and totalitarianism, people observes it with astonishment. However, they should maintain solidarity believing that future bears positive signs for them. What they possess today is a driving force able to move them many fearless steps forward.

Much of what we were accustomed to has to keep abreast with the speed of change. I mean the nature of leaders, policies, and even common people.

Thus, it is not enough to limit our efforts to the coming presidential, parliamentary and local elections. Stopping at this limit might prompt social tension. The situation would be healthy if parties reform themselves and get new blood.

Elections and their preparations are important for participation and creating public opinion because voters become partners in decision-making and policy implementation by electing leaders and distinguishing between candidates. Regarding elections as an end by themselves would result in tensions, which should be avoided because they counteract the political, economic and social change. They deprive the current generation of catching the ongoing development moment with all its inspirations. The ruling parties have never been so demanded to present their platforms and be clear with the public instead of deceiving them. The opposition parties, on the other hand, ought to work seriously and sincerely far from political schemes. They should provide solutions to issues and crises inflicting the Arab nation. They should make shadow governments having plans, solutions, and programs as an approach to the next elections.

In my assessment, the best smooth transfer ideas consist in involving all parties in decision-making without waiting for foreigners to do that. Arab governments should forward practical policies and reveal the identities of responsible officials as well as the implementation methods, and the role of the economic movement. They should not present just dumb figures which fit only developed communities. We need to get more frankness in detail to explain the atmosphere of reform, change and governing rules. The governments should hasten to give the public political and economic guarantees, which ensure the status of the common man under change and economic reform. They should also ensure the establishment of strong private sector able to contribute to development and production in a situation of horrible unemployment and astronomical prices.

Politically, changes are profound and have unusual impacts. Therefore, they need to affect a similar change by selecting a group of politicians who express this stage. They should come from different spheres, from the ruling party and the opposition with self-expression and self-respect capacities. It is preferable that they are new faces. High-ranking officials with absolute unshared viewpoints should be toppled and the notion of homogenous team in leadership and work coined.

On the other hand, policies should be devoted towards decentralization and supporting real local governance that gives local councilors the power to manage the political process without the interference of the capital city. This way, the Arab community would be ready to proceed without hindrances. Each government ought to be given the right to select its production style and re-plan cities and villages. Local leaders should be given the chance to emerge without the interference of the central government.

What is important is that we should go on quickly without hesitation. The achievers of the event at that moment would reap the fruits of achievements by gaining the people's confidence because they preserve their past, protect their present and make the future of their country.