Just an Opinion [Archives:1999/46/Focus]

November 15 1999

Mohammed Khidher,
Iraqi Journalist

I think I was fortunate to attend the seminar sponsored by Yemen Times weekly on Tuesday, November 9, 1999. Its theme, ” Hand in hand with Our President towards the 21st Century,” is deep and means a lot. Nevertheless, I do not want to indulge in detail on the proceeding of the seminar and the discussion and remarks permeated through it. For this is not the essence I am after in my observations. As an Arab citizen I give myself the liberty to contribute with some remarks to the ongoing controversy in this country on some very vital social issues. It is no exaggeration to assume that political and social development in any Arab country would be mirrored on this or that twin Arab country because they represent the same nation.
I will neither praise nor blame the independent Yemen Times newspaper on the seminar it has recently held because I do not want to take sides. But something has aroused my curiosity to jot my visualization down.
Just a few days after the seminar I noticed that some of the concerned parties have begun to wink at the paper for what it has done. Here again I want to be impartial on this subject and be respectful of anyone’s points of view.
I just want to say something about the connotation of opposition in the realm of politics. Democracy, parliamentary elections, presidential elections by direct ballot, oppositions, etc, in the stark meaning of such political terminology, are still young in the Arab world, but will in time grow up to become very familiar, and the Arabs will be more experienced in these civilized activities.
I shall focus here on the concept of the term opposition and put it on the table. Politically speaking, there are two types of distinguishable opposition; one experienced versus a democratic regime, whereas the other vis-a-vis a non-democratic one. In the latter the opposition role is vehemently negative and against the regime. It works to change it and replace it by a democratic one.
It must always be against it and critical and will not stop short bringing it to an end. But in the case of a democratically-elected regime, the opposition plays quite a different role. Opposition parties here are not critical in the negative sense of criticism. They exercise a kind of criticism that is constructive and associate it with proposals for cases rectifying power abuse in the regime, if there are any, and they are not against that regime. On the contrary, they offer all the help they could to the regime to exercise its power for the welfare of the people and the regime’s accomplishments should be highlighted. They engage in a fervent race and competition with the regime for the sake of realizing the goals intended for the benefit and interest of the people. If such parties score more favorable points in favor of the people against the existing ruling party or ruling coalition, they will be an asset for them in the coming elections. So that is how the peaceful and democratic transfer of power will be. I present here my heartfelt congratulations to you in your democratic experience and wish you more success!