What can the Arabs do? [Archives:2003/659/Opinion]

August 14 2003

Never has a nation with so much going for it been so helpless amidst such trying times. Yes the Arab World is in a pathetically helpless state both as individual states and a community of countries with so much in common, yet so far apart. Danger is lurking everywhere, but all this nation's leader's can do is meet every now and then, bilaterally, regionally or collectively and come out with communiques that hardly move flies. It is not understandable how our leaders can sleep at night these days, knowing full well that they are now just as much in danger as anyone else and that all the infrastructure they have set up to protect themselves from their people will not protect them against the outside dangers that lurk in the horizon which threaten all of us from Mauritania to the Gulf States. Having said all that, it is clear that there seems to be a feeling of self confidence that our leaders can get by with making a few declarations here and there, depending on how the political wind is blowing in their direction.
Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, we have not heard one Arab leader declare that he is working to correct the mistakes of the past and to turn the government into an open field for all to enter into without fear of repression or arrest. We have not heard of one leader call for genuine bona fide representatives of the people to meet to set up a real genuine democratic constitution that will truly set the limits of political control and return power to the people. We have not heard of one Arab leader who is about to relinquish their tight hold on all the semblance of power and authority and who is ready to step down, if the people wish to elect someone else to take the helms of leadership. Yet the danger is still there haunting all of them and all of us that some outside force might take all that authority from them and from the people altogether. There is so much we have not heard and are truly looking forward to hear it, not just for our sake, but for the sake of our leaders themselves. The Arab people have a right to expect that their leaders will do everything they can to prevent any foreign power from taking over our lives and our resources. After all, that is the first responsibility of the positions they have insisted on holding. After all, they have more to loose accordingly than their constituents. So, what is really the problem? One cannot be assured that placating foreign powers in some ways, will eventually guarantee the status quo. The status quo is now dictated by interests and powers that are not interested anymore of minor placating here and there. We have now a world power that aims to get its way come hell or high water, and regrettably the political analysts working for the present Arab leadership are not providing their bosses with clear indications of the dubious future we should be prepared to meet. We have an enemy in our midst, who can get away with murder, destruction of whole plantations and building territorial prisons, while our Arab leaders are still building repressive prisons for their constituents.
All the observer can do in such a precarious situation is continue to declare that if the Arab leaders have not seen the light than they and us are eventually doomed. Their only hope can come from their people. They must free them from the past mentality of repression and literally make them masters of their own destiny. There is really no other way. We do not want to see someone from overseas telling us how to govern ourselves, because we really have enough expertise amongst us to come up with a suitable, democratic and open socio-political order that will be able to defend us against the looming threats that are facing us. Our leaders must be assured by now that if the political system is accepted by the people (from the heart), then no foreign power or enemy can stand to take anything away from us, especially our dignity.
Yet, our leaders continue to refuse even the most minor feedback from their people. Then, how can they expect their constituents to prevent our mutual enemies from carrying out what these constituents themselves have wanted to do for a long time, but have been unable to because of the notoriously repressive regimes that exist in their countries.
The situation in Iraq can only be responded to by first insuring that the same thing does not happen elsewhere in another Arab state. There are plenty of candidate states on the Washington “War Office” list. The only course for the Arab leaders boils down to either open up or pack up. There is really no other safe way for all concerned, leadership and constituency. Once the Arab people know that now they will have it their way at home, one will be surprised what they can do elsewhere!