Reforms and Modernization in Yemen (2) [Archives:2004/752/Opinion]

July 5 2004

By Prof. Abdul Aziz Al-Tarb
For the Yemen Times

The participation of Yemen in the G-8 Summit reflects the international attention paid to economic and political development in Yemen. The summit discussed the development of the situation in the region and the “Greater Middle East Initiative” in order to present practical visions for the required reforms, development and changes so that these industrial countries could contribute to the reform process and in assisting the countries of the region.
I believe that following the Arab reaction to the Greater Middle East Initiative, the 8 industrial countries, the G-8, have realized that reform is an internal matter and that each country has its own special conditions.
President Saleh, during his meetings with the directors of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington confirmed the keenness of Yemen to enhance the successes achieved through economic, administrative and financial reforms and to achieve the development objectives. President Saleh, at every opportunity, and in every statement or speech, clearly confirms that he is determined and has the political will to fight corruption. Thus, why can't we join him, hand in hand towards the development of the country?
It is patently clear that President Saleh faces immense challenges ahead of him. The most difficult challenges are fighting corruption and bringing the reluctant power centers into the modernization and reform process. He is capable of overcoming them with our support, and the general public is still eager to see the implementation of his historical speech on the occasion of the 14th anniversary of the National Day of the Republic We are still waiting!
Let us discuss objectively global developments and their influence on the Arab World after leaking the idea of a future forum for the region instead of the Greater Middle East Initiative. It would be new entity consisting of the heads of Arab governments and ministers of finance and economy, to convene every three months to discuss and assess what changes have taken place in every Arab country and what remaining obstacles are to be overcome. A number of independent personalities, in addition to heads of civil society organizations and unions, are to join this entity.
I personally believe that there are three inter-related and concurrent revolution at the core of the required changes.
The first one is a political revolution. It can be summarized as the transformation from authoritarianism and anarchy to political pluralism, in words and in practice. It also embraces international relations. It takes the form of a total change from a conflict of annihilation to a will to survive, through a reduction of armaments and the elimination of nuclear weapons. However, its most apparent feature is entering the new world order.
The second revolution is in values. The most apparent features of this revolution in the most advanced countries is the transition from material values to what beyond material values, the interest in the spiritual aspect of human life (its quality and meaning, and reviving religion). New approaches to political participation have emerged, which aim to challenge the dominance of ruling politician elites through supporting civil society organizations and non-governmental corporations.
We find in third world countries and in Arab countries in particular similar developments – although to various extents- towards a greater desire to enhance political participation and awareness, improve the quality of life, revive religion and defend cultural identity.
The third revolution is a knowledgeable revolution about the values, methods and platforms of the western modernization project that has continued since the enlightenment era until the present time. This revolution is referred to as the post-modernization movement. It calls for a comprehensive renewal of the western mentality to create new definitions and platforms to depict reality and to develop new human values to liberate humans from the state's total centralization and to open new doors for human diversity.
The lingering question remains before us: If elections in Iraq succeed and Arab leaders fail to accomplish the needed reforms and changes, what will happen to their regimes? Why do they not take the initiative to commence the implementation of reforms and required changes since they have consented to carry on reforms during the Tunisia Summit and after the results of the G-8 Summit?