The Big Middle East ProjectThe elimination of corrupted dictatorship regimes and the media promotion of it [Archives:2004/724/Community]

March 25 2004
M r .   B u s h r a   M o h a m e d   S a l e h
M r . B u s h r a M o h a m e d S a l e h
Mohammed bin Sallam
With the unofficial announcement of the US Project, “The Big Middle East”, the Arab regimes in particular have fallen undoubtedly between the anvil of people's demand for reforms and improvement of their living conditions and the hammer of the pressure to accept the US Project.
The US announcement of its coming project is no surprise to the world, but solely to the Arabs, may be since our problems have accumulated to the point it has become too difficult to get rid of them quickly. The Arab official response we hear these days implied that we have to treat our problems by ourselves and not to accept the US project. The Yemeni politicians see otherwise, since they believe that the Arab people demand salvation from injustice, subjugation, hunger, fear and ignorance and do not care whether the project was American or non-American.
It is time, if not too late, to build rooted reforms in Arab regimes, from politics to economics, from rights and freedoms to decision-making mechanisms. We do not think no one sees a contradiction between achieving reforms through local mechanism or within the frame of world-national partnership, especially since human rights issue has become a global issue, said Mr. Khalid Ibrahim Salman, Editor-in-Chief of Al-Thowry Newspaper.
Mr.Salman added that if dictators benefited from the US support for their regimes during the Cold War, why should not the citizen benefit from the support of any authority or international body to lay down a base for his rights, to allow him genuinely to participate in political life. Although democracy is a national need and a universal humanitarian value, it cannot be imposed forcefully by an outside force, even if we see in rights and freedoms a world culture granting legitimacy to the demands of weak people. The regime that uses its might against its people and rejects equality or reconciliation and rebuilding of its internal system is a system unable to make any changes and reforms at the regional, Arab or continental levels. Thus, the critical Arab system is a reflection of individual countries' crises and the flagrant rupture of relations between the ruler and the people. These Systems could not produce a fair and democratic Arab system unless each system was just, democratic and transparent at the local national level. An unprejudiced system, which is opted to reform its chaotic internal situations, is required before the reform process can begin.

Expectations of Yemeni citizens:
Despite the crushing of Yemeni citizen by consecutive crises, he still recognizes, due to his simple spontaneity, the clear relation between bread and freedom, the dominance of political corruption and its other addenda and his generally deteriorating situation. Maybe the citizen does not philosophically break up the goals and aspirations of projects, but he realizes clearly that the country needs intrinsic changes, explained Mr. Salman.

The role of Political Parties in Reforms
The Editor-in-Chief of Al-Thowry Newspaper said that the political parties bare the responsibility to create a cultural and political movement required make a suitable atmosphere to absorb ideas of change through a number of activities and reactions addressed to the regular citizen concerning change, enlightenment, rights and freedoms.
Mr. Salman, concluded his opinions on today's issues by saying that there is no way to resist democratic changes under the pretext of Yemen exceptionality and a conspiracy mentality after the world has become a small village, unless this particularity means to rulers total oppression, abrogation of human rights and remaining immortal rulers in the light of emergency conditions imposed for decades. This is of concern to the rulers only to prolong their authority and dominance, but for an ordinary citizen, changes are inevitable as long as they do not contradict sovereignty and independent national decisions. We simply cannot see a bright future without achieving a transparent and honest democratic life, as there is nothing more important in life than that. Otherwise, the future remains an obscure vision.
On the other hand, journalist Abdulrahman Bajash, Editing Director of the official Al-Thowra Newspaper, has a different view. He says, “Yemeni citizens react to the US reform project with apathy for one important reason, the seemingly uninterested US policy towards the Middle East. It does not care about the inhabitants and certainly not about genuine reforms. Definitely, there is interest in democratic reforms, freedoms and human rights. They are humanitarian demands imposed by the necessity of a special reality, but the obscurity surrounding the US policy, in my opinion, makes the Yemeni citizen cautious when it comes to the sincerity of America. The fairer America seems to be, the greater trust of any policy towards “the Middle East” will become. If America is serious and it actually wants real reforms, it would have acted in one standard and not the double standards of the Arab-Israeli conflicts”.

Whether Yemenis are familiar with the US project or not, Mr. Baghash confirmed that Yemenis do not know much about it not because of low-level awareness, but because of the sense of the injustice and arrogance of America in a world empty of justice and equality. When America seems to be fair in the Palestinian case, the more understanding the citizens become. Simply, there is a relation between the Palestinian case and what America proposes since because the case is directly connected with Israeli interests and nothing else, no matter what others would like to believe differently, said Mr. Baghash.
Regarding the Arab League reforms, the Editing Director concluded by saying, ” The reform of the Arab League is important, which must be a reflection of the internal reforms of each country. Establishing an Arab Union in the manner of EU is farfetched. Regarding subordination to the west, the inferior always assimilates the superior and Arabs do not assimilate anyone. The regular Yemeni citizen has enough concerns, more important than his interest in politics outside his border, whilst the intellects are absent from all issues of concern to the citizen and only worry about their own interests”.
We did not neglect the opinion of Arab citizens in this issue. The Sudanese National, Bushra Mohamed Saleh, working at the Yemeni Documentation and Information Center, in reply to our questions on how much Arab citizens (including Yemenis) know about the goals of the US reform project, “The Big Middle East”, whether this project will actually be implemented in reality and what will happen if it is not implemented, replied by saying, “The general sentiment of ordinary citizens in Arab countries is not satisfied with the current social, economic and political situations. There is also awareness and a rising demand for reforms at the levels of the rulers, the citizens and elite. In spite of the lack of interest of ordinary citizens in all aspects and goals of the US project, the joint common denominator between the citizen and all reform projects is more democracy, freedoms and respect of human rights, and more importantly economic development. The ordinary Arab citizen believes that broad changes, of clear influence and impact on the social and political formation of societies are imminent, whether motivated by outside influences or based on national convictions. Ultimately, whatever the degree of these reforms might be, they would not just serve the intentions of US Administration alone”.
The Arab citizen is seemingly not optimistic about the calls for reform of Arab League, the Arab cooperation slogans and to even the idea of establishing an Arab Union, since the general Arab atmosphere does not encourage them.
The Arab World remains entangled in Arab-Arab disputes, the crumbling situations in Palestine and Iraq, the political and economic turmoil inside each country and in the light of the lack of a unified Arab strategy, the West is always ready to fill in the vacancy to achieve its interests.
Mr. Bushra concluded his opinion by saying that ordinary Arab citizens are merely concerned with their aggravated living situations while politicians and intellects are living in a state of shock, despite their awareness of what is going on. The absence of a joint vision to confront this crisis bares the waste of their individual efforts. What is promoted by various media means, concerning reform, is positive and needed. This is not meant to distract Arab citizens and will not necessarily lead to direct reforms of their living conditions, since the motives for reforms impose themselves very strongly on the Arab arena as the demand of the people, not only as a result of foreign pressure. There is agreement amongst the parties on the principle of reform and what is asked of the media is to create a suitable atmosphere towards the reforms.