Just An Opinion [Archives:2000/05/Focus]

January 31 2000

By: Mohammed Khidhr

As people working in the field of press and other mass media, we usually get acquainted with and follow up various kinds of news and reports on events and activities taking place in different parts on the Earth. One of the eye-catching news is that of world’ non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in various fields of human life and active in different walks of life. These NGOs have abolished the natural and man-made frontiers dividing the nations and nation-states of the globe, adopting a humanitarian and international identity not taking into consideration racial, religious and national affiliation in their humanitarian work, in other words they have adopted a globalized identity and a global-wide sphere of action. They have so far managed to offer help to people and communities wherever they are in the world and have succeeded in defending their offended rights and publicizing their grievances in various effective ways of expression. 
Our Arab world is not excluded from its agenda and list of action. And these organizations are assuming many different names and having many specialties commensurate to the profession their members are affiliate of. I am not here to give an idea on what these organizations are or their work because this is not something new and they are well-known and existent long time ago. I mainly intend to call the attention to the absence of such humanitarian non-governmental organizations from even the Arab arena, let alone the international’s. Does that mean that there are not such organizations in the Arab countries? Or if we presume the existence of such organizations, are they in a state of an all-season hibernation until further notice? For up to now I have not heard or known of any activity of such organizations playing any significant role, at least inside our Arab fold. Whatever problems or tragedies our Arab people are faced with at any time or place of our homeland we only come to know of activities done in our favor by such organizations from outside the Arab world, they are European, American or Japanese or from any other parts of the world but not Arab or even Moslem. Sometimes we hear of an Arab or Moslem organization offering help to peoples in other parts of the world though not on a regular basis but none or rather very rarely to their Arab or Moslem brethren. I not against or opposed to such humanitarian activities on part of Arab groups or charitable organizations but I would rather insist on the principle that ”CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME ” first, without neglecting the playing of humanitarian roles.
Our professional syndicates, political parties and mass and professional organizations are called upon to establish their own NGOs and actively exercise their role for serving our Arab and Moslem society all over the Arab- Moslem homeland. Their task should not be confined to within the boundaries of their respective countries or be restricted to acts of charity and offering aids in cases of natural disasters. It should take a broader scope and dimensions, such as human rights. Arab-Moslem NGOs should set up a sort of coordination of action and alliance among themselves, rejecting to recognize the artificial borders demarcating and separating our Arab people into separate identities.
Let’s for instance cast a scrutinizing look at the reality of our 22-state Arab homeland. Politically speaking, they adopt 22 different political regimes and systems, acting on an individual basis, internally and in foreign affairs, although the governments of all these states hold the same nationality , speak the same language and follow the same religion. Each of them pursues different political system and different economic and social policies, without the existence of coordination or actual cooperation. The nationals of in each country have to get entrance visas to travel from one country to another, like foreigners from various nationalities.
Economically, the rich countries invest their money and resources abroad, while the poor ones have to seek loans and assistance from abroad, i.e., from foreign countries, banks or monetary funds, and often must subdue to very strict and hard conditions. These policies have been reflected on behavior of the people in each of these countries towards their brethren.
Isn’t it an abnormal, regrettable and shameful reality and state of affairs we are leading?
As the world nations are bent on forming large and strong blocs and groupings, we are determined to reinforce our division and individual identities. Multi-national Europe has vowed and succeeded not to bid farewell to the 2nd millennium before the realization of its political, economic and monetary unity. I wonder and do not know why we have not studied the European experiment and followed suit. Could the reason be ascribed to the supposition that ours is a hopeless case? Personally I do not think so. We possess all ingredients and components of unity, or at least real coordination and cooperation and integration. An initiative is needed to be taken. We are in need of courage and courageous people to take the lead and step in the right direction in this respect. It is the responsibility of the Arab people and their organizations and political parties in the first place, not only the sovereigns and governments. The people and their organizations should adopt a pressure role. They can play the role of achieving reconciliation and rapprochement among the Arab sovereigns and bring them together to regain Arab solidarity and sincere cooperation for the benefit of the entire Arab nation. Arab political parties and organizations and NGOs have to stop their adoption of negative neutrality versus the serious challenges facing the Arab nation and homeland.
The first step is that these parties and organizations should unify their stands towards various questions in the Arab homeland, internally and externally. Then they can move to address these issues with their respective governments. All Arab sovereigns are not aliens and would not oppose to see their people united and cooperative. This, to be acknowledged, is not a simple task because it involves many complications and multilateral issues evolved across decades of disputes and division. It is also on the other hand an urgent one and an issue of destiny for the entire Arab nation, and time is running short before it becomes an incurable issue. Despite all the difficulties accompanying such efforts, the determination to achieve their goal is worthwhile to follow. It is a fact that the march of a thousand miles begins with one step. Let’s take this step and now !