Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, April 2017
Are the Arab Leaders doing their job?
The Arab League does not represent the masses but the symbolic thrones of power managed by the secretive police apparatus and questionable authority of leaders assembled for two days at the Dead Sea resort (Jordan). Any rational observers cannot imagine the usefulness and productive outcomes of the conference. All the major Arab actors except Bashar al-Assad (Syria) were present to listen and applause each other to enjoy the solitary moments. The Arab League faces serious problems of legitimacy and accountability. Like always, its final communiqué is composed of intellectual and moral nuisance and adds nothing to the working characteristics of the Arab leadership.
They call upon noble ideals to affirm their presence at such conferences but end-up doing nothing to change the status-quo of being ignorant of the prevalent facts of global politics. Do the Arab leaders know their political strength if any, and strategic weaknesses?
Global politics is not a fixed phenomenon but a constantly changing metaphor of one’s national interest and priorities. Most Arab leaders behave as if blindfolded – “the king has no clothes.” For six years, Syrian sectarian bloodbath has caused millions to die, tortured and made orphans and forcible displacement. Iraq was torn apart by the US-Britain occupation under the false pretext of WMD as they massacred approximately three million civilians and still bleeding everywhere. NATO was used to dismember Libya and kill Ghadafi and the daily carnage of civilian continues to this day.
Egypt was destabilized by another Western-sponsored military coup under General Sissi to oust an elected President Morsy. The poorest of the Arabs - Yemen faces a man-made famine catastrophe according to the UNO and all of its infrastructures are bombed and dismantled. Has the Arab leadership assembly taken notice of any major political and humanitarian casualties happening right at their doorstep? Do they have the capacity to discuss any solutions? What about Palestine and its occupied people – seen just on the other side of the Dead Sea Assembly. Should the millions of innocent Syrian-Iraqi orphans wait for this leadership convention to know their fate and future?
Do these Arab leaders have inner conscience intact or strategy to deal with Israel on the freedom of Palestine? To deal with Israel, Arabs must have unity and power of critical thinking and creative maneuverability. Truth is One not many. That is, most of the Arab leaders are irrelevant and a burden on the informed Arab conscience. They lack capacity to think as leaders and do nothing to serve the interest of the Arab people for peace and global harmony. Overwhelmed by foreign generated crises, the Arab leaders cannot think on their own nor enlist the realistic priorities. The US-led bogus war on terrorism has dehumanized the moral and intellectual consciousness of the Arab leaders to just focus on their own survival. Consequently, the Arab leaders are tragically entrapped in a vicious cycle of self-inflicted wars against themselves. The tragic irony of this folly reveals moral and intellectual decadence where once progressive culture and civilization inspired the Western cultures and civilizations for Renaissance and Industrial Revolution.
If the Arab leaders had any knowledge, understanding and sense of responsibility of the future and of the devastating short and long terms impacts of this bogus war, they should have challenged the American policy or sought advice from Muslim intellectuals and scholars to assess the crisis situations for workable and peaceful alternatives. The Arab world is devoid of critical thinking, reasoning and proactive leadership or leadership of any kind to make the presence felt at the global political theatre.
Do the Arab Leaders have Rational Sense of Time and History?
The contemporary global affairs warrant intelligent and competent leadership who could challenge others and share what is common in humanity but not kings, not military dictators or dull prince and princes occupying splendid palaces away from the people. Leaders manage the crisis when facts of life warrant change and adaptability to the future. Often crisis unite people of reason but not the Arab rulers. Despite being one “Ummah” (Arab Nation), they failed to embrace the unity of faith and move forward for action. Notwithstanding the requisites of reason and honesty, many Arab rulers are collaborating with the US-Israel strategic agenda for the future. There are no Arab public institutions of critical thinking and no leaders to lead. One wonders, why the earth never felt any weight of the oil pumping Arab leaders?
Most absolute rulers view the masses with insane outlook as if they are born to be subservient species - the egoistic cult turns into kind of cancer that consumes their mindset, body and will power. Arab authoritarian leaders are not open to reason or listening and learning until they are forcibly phased out as happened to so many in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Iraq. In view of the unstoppable cycle of sectarian killings across the Arab world and dismantling of the socio-economic infrastructures - is the Arab world coming to its own ending? The Arab leaders and the masses live and breathe in conflicting time zones being unable to see the rationality of people-oriented system of governance. When complex problems erupt, intelligent and competent leaders initiate dialogue – “Shura”- consultation and are open to listening to voices of reason for navigational change and reformation. But instead, they are buying weapons worth of several billions dollars to silence the voices of reason and human ingenuity for political change and a better future.
Leaders Who Could not Think of the Future
Most Arab leaders claim to be fighting against “terrorism.” Where does this “terrorism” stigma originate from? It is the outcome of the failed Arab leadership and continuing US-European military interventions in the Middle East. Americans and Europeans have divided the Arab-Muslim world in sectarian identities, clichés and antagonism. They have invested heavily in Islamophobia and call it “Islamic terrorism.” The cruelty of unwanted wars is raging across the Arab- Muslim societies - Shiite-Sunnis fighting daily bloodbaths across Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Arabian landscape. Most leaders are comfortable and unmoved to see their people engaged in sadistic killing and madness, be it in Iraq, Egypt, Syria or Yemen and elsewhere. Who will undo the irretrievable historical mistakes of these leaders judgment? History shall judge the people and leaders by their actions, not by their claims. Do the Leaders or the Arab League represent the interests and aspirations of the new educated generations of the Arab people? Imagine, how the future generations will view the inept role of the contemporary rulers?
More than a quarter of century earlier while working in the Middle East, this author contributed a new creative vision (“Why Muslims are a Divided People?”), for sustainable futuristic global relationships between the Arab-Muslim world and the Western industrialized nations. This critical imagination and plan was focused on human development and starting a continuous systematic process of political change and development of human resources and public institutions, democratic norms of freedom and human dignity and a culture of new thinking and universities of peace and security throughout the Arab- Muslim world.
At the time, there were no Arab-Muslim thinking hubs open to listening and learning and thirty years later, it is worst to imagine a different future. History's combating ironies often undermine what could be rational and vital to human thinking, values and future-building. The Arab- Muslim world lives in far too distant to the challenges of the contemporary global political affairs, strategic thinking and moral and intellectual priorities for policy making and practices. An individual thinker or scholar can only share certain ideas and ideals but cannot enforce the incurable missing moral-intellectual capacity of the ruling elite and societies. For too long, the Arab-Muslim thinkers and practitioners have ignored the impetus of change and development - the core values of Islamic thinking and priorities. We live on one Planet Earth. According to the Divine Revelations, the Earth keeps record of all the human activities. The Earth is a living entity, not dead in its functionality. What happened to countless previous powerful leaders, empires and civilizations? Were they not destroyed by their own ignorance and arrogance against the fellow human beings?
The whole of the Arab world is shrinking to zero-sum game. Like the deaths and destruction of Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, the rest of the Arab societies are going to be annihilated one way or another by foreign mercenaries. What kind of future is in-waiting for the Arab world? Any objective-oriented analysis will point out that Arab authoritarian leaders expect their American and British masters to come and rescue them from the political crises. This naïve and besieged thinking and behavior persist across the predominantly oil-exporting Arab region and culture.
The solution must come out of new thinking and new vision for political change, dialogue between the sectarian divides and competent leadership to pursue the stated goals. What if they were organized as morally and intellectually conscientious people? What if they knew the complex nature of global politics and the freedom to think, act, and communicate with moral strength to the enemies within the Middle Eastern societies? That is, if there were proactive and responsible leaders enriched with intellectual vision and moral integrity and were flexible to listening and learning from the other side without agreeing or disagreeing. Even across the advanced Western societies, leaders know their limitations of knowledge and intelligence. Many, if not all, man-made problems could be resolved peacefully via persuasive communication and without resorting to bloodshed and committing crimes against the humanity.
(Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in international relations - global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking, Germany, 2012. His next book is entitled: One Humanity and the Remaking of Global Peace, Security and Conflict Resolution).
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