Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
The New Arab Mindset is an Ominous Warning for
By Abid Mustafa
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, July 4, 2011
As the world debates about the various merits of the Arab
revolt - whether the revolution will produce an alternative political
landscape or not - very little has been said about the Arab mindset.
Yes, the Arab people have grown to become fearless against the despotic
regimes, but this is an accurate description of their psychological state,
not their mindset. The thinking process of the Arabs has experienced a
massive transformative change and is rapidly reaching a level of
intellectual maturity that is likely to yield a crescendo effect.
Consider the euphoria that greeted the banishment of Ben Ali from Tunisia,
or the incarceration of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. Initially, the Arabs
concluded that this would finally lead towards a permanent change; one that
is different from the present day autocratic systems and draconian laws.
Instead, and within a space of few months, the Egyptians learnt that
the regime not only survived, but was given a new lease of life through a
military coup. The peace treaty with the Jewish state—despised by the
majority of the Egyptians—remained firmly intact. The military –once
the stalwart of the revolution, went from heroes to traitors overnight.
Torture, imprisonment without trial, abductions by security forces, extra
judicial killings, and sectarian strife— prevalent under Mubarak— returned
to haunt Egyptians with renewed vigour. Western protégés groomed in exile
and presented as viable alternatives to the status quo were quickly
repudiated by the masses. Islamists, once coveted by the faithful are
now ridiculed for sounding more secular than the secularists! Even the
public enthusiasm for constitutional reforms and the presidential election
The Tunisian experience is almost as identical. Looking
further afield, the same can be said for Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Jordan,
Syria and some of the GCC countries. The narrative before and after the
revolt, remains unchanged for many Arabs. For them, the Arab world is
ruled by pro-western elites who are more interested in the preservation of
Western colonial interests than the liberation of Arab masses from tyranny.
Right now, it seems as though any Western attempt to orchestrate
political change in Arab countries is instantly rejected and thrown back.
The dormant Arab mind is now awake, and is fast producing results that are
diametrically opposed to the West’s longevity and primacy in the Middle
The learning curve, which consists of the sensation of the reality,
contemplation and judgment, is no longer so steep for the Arab masses. So
how have Arab minds changed?
It can be argued that over the past
eighty odd years, the breadth and depth of problems faced by Arabs have
grown in both magnitude and scope: The destruction of the Caliphate in 1924,
Western occupation of Muslim lands, the establishment of the Jewish state in
1948, the successive Gulf wars, the war on terror and the physical
reoccupation of Arab lands, have all left indelible impression on Arab
minds. These deep seated feelings of humiliation, indignity and violation of
Islamic values spurred many Arabs to think profoundly about these feelings.
However, the West through Arab exiles and her surrogates in the Arab world
fed the masses a diet of corrupt Western thoughts to confuse and shield the
Arabs from the arriving at the correct judgment about the events that befell
them. Subsequently, the thinking process or thinking cycle—feelings about
the problems, that in turn require connectivity and contemplation, which is
then followed by judgment was either broken, or skewed, in the favour of
Western interpretations. For many Arabs, this resulted in intellectual
paralysis and stagnation of Arab societies. Severed from their natural
feelings, the Arabs were unable to generate home grown solutions to the
problems they faced, and were forced to import Western solutions and ideas.
Thus the thinking process was temporarily disrupted. What compounded the
situation further, was the adoption of Western solutions. Such solutions
rarely solved problems but further exacerbated and sometimes prolonged them,
as they were often ‘copied and pasted’ without any real understanding of its
origins and motives. This made the helpless Arabs more reliant on the West
for their ever increasing portfolio of problems.
In this way, the
West was able to keep its intellectual stranglehold over the Arabs and the
wider Muslim world for many years. Only a few Muslims managed to punctuate
West’s intellectual dominance and expose the fallacy of its ideology.
However, the majority remained in stasis, and plummeted into the abyss of
gloom and despair.
Today, this no longer appears to be the
situation. The Arab thinking process is no longer fragmented and
disconnected from its surroundings. On the contrary, it is vibrant, in touch
with its environment, and takes solace from its rich Islamic heritage. The
time taken to truly understand events is visibly shorter and the judgments
more often than not are rooted in Islamic thoughts. Western thoughts and
views are now routinely discarded. In its place is a new constellation of
Islamic concepts and values.
Abid Mustafa is a political
commentator who specializes in Muslim affairs and global issues