Must come from withinChange, reform and development [Archives:2005/814/Opinion]

February 7 2005

By Prof. Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Tarb
For the Yemen Times

No one in the Arab world denies that reform, by all means and from the political social and economic points of view, is a pressing need and persistent necessity to save what remains and reorder the Arab home.

It is vital to take the reform-oriented approach so that we can survive and withstand recent challenges of the era in the big village called the “world” with its capacious corners. Whoever blatantly rejects this necessity is either ignorant or a pretender. As an analogy, he would be someone who wants to hide sunlight with his feeble fingers, or put his head in the sand like an ostrich.

Yes, reform is necessary and needs to be adopted today in Sana'a, Cairo, Damascus, Riyadh, Kuwait and other Arab capitals. We should take all that seriously, but what kind of reform and through which means can it be realized? And what are the impediments and probable obstacles and how to overcome them without damaging the principles of the nation including traditions and customs, and with the incorporation of others' experiences and lessons making use of their mistakes.

All this is nice and obvious, but it is notable that despite the agreement of the majority of the “enlightened” Arabs with callers of reform in the region, the major point of difference revolves around the aims and means to reach reform.

However, some calls contain sinister elements, inviting for good with evil intents.

Reform needed by the Arab World has priorities, consecutive grades and we should be patient for it to be ripe. The application of such a reform requires awareness, enlightenment and gradual “medication” with neither haste nor slowness.

What makes us cautious and become suspicious of intentions and aims is the current sudden passion that has taken hold of the US administration and other international sides. They are, ironically, very concerned about the interests of Arabs and their hearts are full of love that they want to hurl reform onto them.

What further instigates doubt is that reform calls are coeval with western pressure on the Arab states with no exception. We have already seen Iraq's experience and what has happened in it, ranging from violations, to chaos, to disintegration, to feuds, etc.

We have also Israel which unashamedly claims it is the first democracy in the Middle East while we view daily its brutish treatment of Palestinians and transgression on their rights, as well as the killing of children and the innocent and uprooting long settled residents.

How could we be fearless about our present and our children's future while we live in such conditions and read each day more pages of black books?

These facts oblige us to intensify calling for reform but from the inside and not as imposed from outside. It should be in line with our priorities and our Arabic and Islamic specialties and not according to the western dictations. We should take into account the objective prerequisites for the success of the reform plan in the region which are as follows:

* reaching a final, comprehensive and fair settlement to the Middle East's Cause , and granting the Palestinian people their lawful rights with Israel's pulling out from Arab occupied lands. The peace of the international legitimacy should prevail in order to eliminate the reasons that threaten the peace of the region and the world.

* finding out a solution to Iraq's problems by means of the results of the elections and replacing the occupying US forces with Arab and Islamic ones.

* combating terrorism and treating its reasons and motives. All people should be involved in the process of uprooting this phenomenon which has substantially harmed and threatened Arab countries.

Arab leaders should amend laws that hamper wider participation in elections such as that a candidate should have the recommendation of a certain number of Parliament members. The president and vice president should be elected from a number of candidates. Opposition should cooperate in this attempt. Also laws should make a maximum of two times for someone to be a presidential candidate. Arabs need to respect the free will and confess the untruth in results of “99.9%”

These are the scientific principles for a start of the reform process in the region and to ensure its success. we have to define the relation between technology, economic advancement and democracy as well as corruption problems, the absence of law, brain drain, lack of balanced development, and human rights violations.

We should not focus on subsidiary issues and neglect the main ones which I have pointed out.

Is it possible to amend Arab states' constitutions and outlaw cross out provisions that confine liberty to elect leaderships. Election are to be conducted in Egypt, Lebanon and Yemen, why shouldn't we form committees to supervise such events in harness with Arab and international organizations (Arab League and UN).

All these concepts, if taken into consideration, will contribute to the sought-after reform. This was expressed by the Arab Strategic Forum, held in Dubai recently. The form sent a clear message to Arab decision-makers to hasten the reform program lest they face indomitable change winds that will be difficult to know its size and direction, as stated by sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoom, Dubai crown prince at the opening speech.

Yes, reform is necessary and inevitable so that we don't cry over lost chances later, but it should be a reform originated from within the Arab World and based on Arab convictions believing in change for the better. We, in Yemen, under the reign of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, witness a campaign against corruption, adopting reform and establishing the state of law and disicipline. The talk will be continued.