[Anti-American demonstration in Peshswar. (Fayaz Aziz/Courtesy Reuters).]
Arab people appear oppressed, demoralized but instinctively furious at the Western world for not coming to rescue them from the daily civilian bloodbaths, use of chemical weapons in Syria, on-going massacres of the innocents in Egypt and Iraq and progressively moving cycle of degeneration across the oil exporting Arab societies. Nobody holds rational proactive viewpoints what the future will be if there is one for the despotic Arab authoritarian rulers phasing out faster than the speed of light, so to speak. A page in the recent history book, there was Saddam Hussein, Moummar Qadafi, Hosni Mubarak, Abdullah Saleh and now Bashar Al- Assad generating lost minute tormenting pains to the masses. Undoubtedly, these are the hallmarks of the contemporary Arab politics, more specifically “do nothing” self-centered naïve political culture of co-existence – people living with extreme adversity without any revulsion against the oppressors.
Ironically, Arab people dislike the European leaders or the American presidents from George Bush to Obama for the fear of re-inventing and imposing the dark ages of colonial subjugation. Yet, these are the same political leaders who have helped the Arab masses to get rid off some of the worst authoritarian dictators dominating most of the Arab Middle East. Over half of a century of living under the aegis of neo-colonialism, the Arab people seem to have lost the sense of rational thinking and human capacity to cope with change and the futuristic challenges. Most Arab societies breathe air in seclusion and in an environment of self- indulged escape from the reality. They lack understanding of the contending global politics of influence. The contemporary Arab world is a world of distractions and false imagery of secluded happiness, extortion and painful miseries if one is to see the real pictures as people live-in. There are no rational factors of certainty, what is good today; tomorrow could be a drastic change and a dreadful morning. The Arab world stands to get a high-power jolt to come to senses that the changing world will usher massive surprises more catastrophic than what the Crusaders did few centuries earlier to the Muslim world. The foreign Plan being enforced exposes its own strategies at work that Arab people should not gain any unity of purpose to be ONE People- Ummah as Islam bridged the tribal differences and enabled the much belligerent tribal cultures into a Unity of Faith- One Nation in complete submission to God.
All the Arab states, 19 or so have strong military institutions trained and managed by the Western nations. All of the Arab states enjoin wide range of secretive police apparatus mostly planned, developed and enhanced by the European nations and since the oil discovery over taken by the United States. All the military and police institutions are subservient to the Western dictates as the current affairs of Egypt demonstrate the prevalent fact. The hidden vision and strategy encourage internal strife and domestic uprising against the dictators enabling the foreign masters to assume greater role of influence and preferred final outcomes gained from the civilian deaths and destruction. This means that the old and obsolete rulers who are fast becoming a liability on the Western nations will be removed by their own people, all the social, economic and institutional infrastructures will be dismantled, and there will be no challenge out of the chaos to be taken-over by the foreign masters. Such an outcome will open new markets for the some of the Western war-run economies. This is the war and peace strategy that the Arab people will endure to ensure safe and continuing supply of the much needed oil to the Western industrialized nations. The transitory and delusional happiness of the oil revenues have incapacitated the Arab thinking to see the unfolding present and to imagine the alarming and highly destructive developments of the coming future. This is a major paradox of the contemporary global politics that the Arab people cannot THINK nor imagine their own future out of the box. America, few West Europeans and Israel share strength to watch the unfolding crises degenerating the Arab societies as the Arab states and nations by geography and flags fall apart by their irrational thinking, policies and misfortunes ingrained in the discovery of oil, its outcomes and reliance on the foreign powers.
Given a terrible sense of helplessness, the Arab masses wonder how America and Russia have concluded an agreement on Syria to account for its chemical arsenals and later on to destroy the weapons under some international supervision. Is it an escape from the reality of overwhelming civilian deaths and destruction of the Syrian society? At issues are the authoritarian regime of Bashar Al-Assad and the use of forbidden chemical weapons causing more than 1, 625 civilians deaths including women and children. The need was urgent to stop the internal war and to restore some kind of order enabling the civilian population to return to their homes. The authoritarian Arab regimes have neglected their moral obligation to protect the Arab refugees. President Obama and President Putin are engaged in the Syrian conflict for their own sake. Putin got the opportunity to make his presence felt at the global level that Russia is a contending power, and President Obama got convenient escape from his own Redline ultimatum to claim diplomacy over a military action against the Assad regime. There is anti-war passion across the American public spectrum. Both know too well what the use of chemical weapons means to the mankind as they have experimented it in Afghanistan and Vietnam and again in Iraq. The Arab rulers have no rational thinking to comprehend that both America and Russia will welcome continued killings and insecurity in the Arab world so that oil supplies could be conveniently available to them. When killings will cease, Arab dictators will beg America-Russia to get a political settlement. There is no UNO force to verify the exact location of chemical weapons in a war zone. Global law and order for the civilian protection and security is a shattered image in an age of reason. America and Russia will exchange contentious statements on and against the Assad regime. Is it a time killing exercise to do nothing in Syria? If America and Russia could get involved in the process for the knowledge of chemical weapons and its inventory, why could not they address the real problem, that is, the removal of a dictator and protection of the civilian life in a war zone? Of more importance is the spectator role of all the Arab rulers of the Middle East. How come after more than sixty years of freedom from the European imperialism, the Arab societies do not have any educated, responsible and intelligent leaders to offer sense of moral and political security to the people in crisis? Why should President Obama and President Putin intervene to resolve the Arab leader’s adversity and intransigence against their own masses? Are the Arab rulers a dead-ended entity flourishing in the midst of daily civilian bloodsheds? Where is the Arab leader’s moral and intellectual consciousness of the gravity of the crises and accountability to the people? Where is the so called economic prosperity that the Arabs were supposed to enjoin in the contemporary world? How could Obama or Putin bring change, sigh of relief and halt in daily massacres carried out by the Arab armies against their own people? Does the Arab authoritarianism or the cruelty of systematic killings make any sense to a rational thinker if there are any left across the Arab world? The voices of REASON and human CONSCIENCE must speak loud and clearly. There are no Arab leaders having legitimacy in political governance or having chosen by the Islamic principles of “Shura” (consultation) of the people. Recently, President Morsy was elected in Egypt but now overthrown by the army Generals and Egypt is back to the ages of political darkness. All the Arab states are in a state of political chaos, shattered dreams and extreme uncertainty lacking any proactive plan how to come out of the prevalent political ruthlessness and viciousness ordained by the rulers. The Arab people need no new enemies; the rulers are doing the job. The contemporary Arab rulers are the new age political monsters – facilitating a favorite perversion from the facts of life – the real issue of Palestine and peace with Israel is sidelined and being marginalized. There are no responsible Arab leaders to stand for facts of the Arabian political landscape and be productive. The focus should have been on Palestine and to pursue progressive negotiated resolution for the establishment of an independent State of Palestine and co-existing in peace with Israel. Throughout the oil exporting Arab world, the contemporary rulers have turned out to be complacent in the US –Israeli strategic plans for the future of the Middle East. Ironically, it is hard to imagine if the prosperous Arab rules occupying dusted palaces have any consciousness of the interest of the masses or the real world affairs in their own backyards.
There are no educated, conscientious or publicly chosen leaders in the Arab- Muslim world except the recent President Morsy of Egypt and political leaders in Tunisia. There are no independent public institutions in the Arab world to provide critical and honest analyses on the global political affairs or reflect on possible remedies in war and peace. Throughout the Arab-Muslim world, there is not a single established university teaching global peace, security and conflict management – the institutions dealing with the present and envisioning the future that the Western nations are built upon for change and development. Leaderless Muslim masses appear desperate to look for a visionary and intelligent leader to offer some sense of moral and intellectual security. Across the Arab – Muslim countries, leaders live in palaces, not with people. If there were educated and intelligent leaders in the Muslim world, one could reason the unreason. But the oil exporting Arab leaders operate from a position of political weakness, not strength to play any useful role in international politics. The vision if there is one, is clearly a blind vision of the present and future, always expecting from others to do things for the oil enriched and useless figure heads. Professor John Esposito, (Unholy War and What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam), a reputable scholar of Western-Islamic culture and history at the Georgetown University, offers a lesson in a rational context:
“An important lesson of history is that rulers and nations do rise and fall. Unforeseen circumstances can bring up unanticipated change. Few expected the breakup of the Soviet Union and the liberation of Eastern Europe to occur when they did ……now is the time for those in all walks of life (political, economic, military, media and academic) who wish to see a new order not to be silenced but to speak out, organize, vote and be willing when necessary to make sacrifices in promoting a new global order.”
Thomas Paine (Common Sense) had a passion to articulate people-oriented awareness of freedom and liberty and anti-monarchy movement to pursue the American dream of independence. In his book Joseph Lewis (Thomas Paine: World Citizen “Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine” 1948) noted the following observations:
“These are the times that try men’s souls,” was the inspiration of our despairing soldiers, and his eloquent and inspiring words have been acknowledged by the leaders of the American Revolution to have accomplished as much in securing American independence as did the sword of Washington. His Rights of Man, written in defense of the French Revolution, is still unequaled as the greatest book on political science and the rights of the individual in society that has yet been written. For writing this book, he was indicted for treason and forced to flee from England. What intelligent man today does not acknowledge that it was The Age of Reason which was responsible for his intellectual emancipation from the mentally-stagnating and superstitious creeds that for so long paralyzed the brain of man.
With unstoppable cycle of political killings and daily bloodbaths in so many Arab states – Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and spill-over impacts to other oil producing Arab nations – and reactionary militancy against the authoritarian rule and dismantling of the socio-economic infrastructures – is the Arab world coming to its own end because of the sadistic authoritarian rulers? The Arab leaders and the masses live and breathe in conflicting time zones being unable to see the rationality of people-oriented Islamic governance, the worst is yet to come, surrender to foreign forces as there are no leaders to think of the future or the Arab armies to defend the people. How should the global community view the contemporary Arab societies living under obsessed conspiracies of power and corruption of tribal authoritarianism for over half a century? They are a failure on all the major frontlines of global affairs. What happened to their Islamic culture, values and glorious civilization? Was the petrodollar a conspiracy (“fitna”) to disconnect the Arab people from the Islamic civilization? Ironically, how the few tribal leaders could have managed the time and history on their own unless large segments of the masses were complacent in making the tragedy? The world is changing but not fast enough for the authoritarian Arab rulers – fattish fed by the oil revenues and stupid and mindless in thoughts and behaviors if you view them in the real world of actions–reactions and prevalent deplorable atrocities imposed on the Arab people. The affluent and oil enriched indulged in conspiracy to assume power and institutionalize corruption simply to maintain few tribal powerhouses favored by the ex-colonial masters managing the power centers from distance. Now, the Arab people have awakened after long slumber of complacency and disorder. Centuries earlier the problem was well defined by Shakespeare “the destiny of peoples coincided with the destiny of their monarch and nobles.”
Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Publishing Germany-May, 2012.