Forget abut Algiers Summit,Think about Khartoum Summit (PART 2/2) [Archives:2005/884/Opinion]

October 10 2005

By Prof. Dr. Abdulaziz al-Tarb
The question, most important, that bewildered me whenever I attended an Arab summit or listened to its deliberations is: Who designs the region's agenda and consequently it summits' agenda, are they the summits, are they the Arabs with their originally non-existent regional system, or their alienated and disputing regimes or are they dictated on them by others? The answer has always been that the summits resolutions were nothing but lagging behind and pallid and rather defeatist however hard they tried to wrap them with realism. They are so because time has advanced far away the moment they were issued.

It seems there is a weighty agenda imposed on the region and its countries in the year 2005 but the Algiers summit was unable to cope with and instead of that it had chewed over in its resolutions. It had come out with consumed and frivolous stands lacking necessary seriousness to encounter what the Algiers summit's declaration had with little shyness called “challenges implying many dangers”. Do the Arabs this time have an alternative or parallel agenda?

Paradoxically, the present agenda is not completely dictated from abroad but there are toots in the Arab reality. No sooner the Arab League general secretariat staff and delegates of the member states have returned to their headquarters that they saw demonstrators at the Tahrir Square downtown Cairo raising political slogans abridged in one word Kifayah ' Enough'. They had to realize that it was a resounding cry from the heart of the Arab world directed to the entire region. In their summit statements and addresses they have feigned forgetfulness or ignored a new spirit emerging from the people in all of the Arab cities that began to get impatient with applause to speeches void of any meanings and refuse ambiguous drafting and attempts of the regimes to maintain playing with essence of the great issues as well as hampering the march of hopes whose horizons are opening before them.

There is another relevant comparison, i.e. the qualitative change that occurred in the relations between the Arab regimes and the United States, in particular and the west in general as a result of ramifications of 9/11 events and the new American and European political orientations towards the region. Stability and security of the Arab regimes are no longer the priority of the American and European strategy regarding the region, but rather it is the American and European security that they consider as threatened because of factors and sources emerging from the region. They think it possible to achieve through promoting or rather imposing the new agenda on the region, including the focus on reform, fighting terror and reaching peaceful settlement with Israel. That stance was expressed in addresses of foreign guests attending the summit and who wanted their message, which is based on the new international agenda, to be direct and strong. On the other hand, documents and leaders of the Algiers summit had repeated the old equation that considers political reforms hostage of the peace process with Israel and evaluate efforts of fighting terror on basis of barter.

This means the matter is not only a difference between concepts, aims and priorities submitted by two agendas, one adopted by the Arab regimes and another is an American supported by the world. It is really a contradiction, clear and deep in the vision among them on the core of the submitted issues in the region. According to the American agenda there is nowadays an organic connection between democratic reforms and the efforts of fighting terror and establishment of peace. In other words it is a complete deal offered to the region and not accepted to be rejected or dividing it. What is more important from all that is the collapse of that old strategy of America and Europe that has leaned on supporting the Arab regimes and protecting them, also the ignoring of heir violations as long as there are common interests. That is the strategy which the west sees that has now failed in protecting it against terror and strengthened enmity of the region's peoples against it. What is happening nowadays is similar to what happened between the west and the socialist bloc leadership of the former Soviet Union at the end of the eighties of the last century, without passing by an operation similar to Helsinki operation or resorting to the same mechanisms of dismantling the communist regimes in Eastern Europe.

Have the Arab regimes learnt the lesson? The results of Algiers summit certainly say No. there is an emergency summit called by Egypt under preparation and there is the ordinary summit to be convened in the Sudanese capital Khartoum and may be the last opportunity before us (The Arab regimes) for drawing up an agenda especially for the region coordinating requirements and aspirations of its peoples. Many would remain pessimist on the possibility that would happen. Let this be a kind of challenge to be facing the Khartoum summit lest that the participants in it in 2006 should come after it has been too late in history. The summit should remember the Warsaw pact and the COMECON organization that had much forgot their dates with history until they have now become outside history and maybe in its trash bin.

I think we have to prepare and draw up the required agenda wile we read what is happening in each Arab capital of results of elections or preparing for them along with the economic and social situation, deficit in the budget, rise in oil prices, increase of unemployment, inflation, imported ideas on human rights, sustainable development and empowerment of the woman in participation.