By Mahboob A. Khawaja, PhD.
The land of Pharaohs, magic and fantasy appears to be intermingled with in-house fireballs generated conflicts of hopes and expectations. The Generals are becoming restless with Tahrir Square’s shouting matches, crumbling economic affairs, emotional outbursts of the emotionally charged people and their aspirations, domestic strife and people wanting overnight results of their long political struggle. This paints an unimaginative and short-sighted picture that politically responsible government under President Morsi could deliver unthinkable goods and amenities of life out of the besieged Egyptian socio-economic context. Society at best becomes productive when there is peace, freedom of thoughts and movement and collaborative endeavors for change and development. Egypt faces complex and critical situations. What was destroyed by over half of the century of continued authoritarian rule, political insanity and societal destruction cannot be restructured and rebuild in a year or two. Suspicious and paranoid army Generals need not to jump into a volatile political affairs. No Generals can understand what is good for the public conscience and aspirations. In an emerging democracy, people enjoin passion to demonstrate and to shout at one another that is not abnormal. There is no political emergency in need of military dictates or intervention. The Generals are not equipped with the capacity to politically reason the unreason. They are not the political entity to pursue peaceful dialogue for human change. President Mohammad Morsi was elected through a fair political system and he must have time and opportunities to devise new thinking, plan and take concerted actions to deliver goods and services to the embittered pubic. Today’s Egypt seems more standing and moving on a rational path of change and development than the Hosni Mubarak’s era of dictatorial rule by one party against all. It will be unwise and unwarranted if the military Generals intervene in the political process for societal change and future-making. Such an intervention could block all avenues of peaceful political transformation for the good of the people. There were no political dialogues in Mubarak’s authoritarian rule but President Morsi facilitated so many to talk with the opponents. Egypt needed new political imagination and political institutions to undo the paradox of history, President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are articulating some and more to come with the consensus of the people over certain period of time. Being one year in office is just a dot on the screen for change. Political Change moves on its own pace, not what some external forces should dictate or determine it. If opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood dream of glory and triumph and think they enjoin some magic solutions to the 50 years old economic-political mismanagement, they are disconnected to the real world of change. What happening in Egypt is the test case for short and long terms political development process. If it is stopped, it will ruin Egypt’s lifelines for freedom and democracy. There is no quick fix of any socio-economic ills perpetuated by so many against all Egyptians. People enjoy the freedom to stand for their rights and dignity without any coercive and secretive police actions. Tahrir Square has become a symbol of the continued essence of freedom and collective will of the people of Egypt. It should retain its historic identity and value.
Under the Arab authoritarianism when people of Egypt were oppressed and dehumanized for over half of a century, there were no outcries and human rights concerns in the Western news media or the in the stonewalled Arabian peninsula for moral-intellectual support and recognition of the need for change and political dialogue. The Western scholars and official policy makers never seem to have imagined that Arab people could rise against odds and beyond the obvious and strive for their rights and freedom as did many other nations in the Western industrialized world. The Egyptian people have made sacrifices and articulated the hope and optimism for a new world of human rights and political imagination. Today, the rest of the Arab absolute rulers and the common folks appear to be living in two different worlds – varied conflicting time zones between the people and the palaces, and being unable to see each other to reconcile and to understand the prevalent political realities shaping the present and carving out the future of the Arab world. Egypt could well be a role model for change and future-building
Most of the Arab Middle East world is dominated by neo-colonialism and ruled by ruthless authoritarian rulers denying the people their inborn sense of freedom, human dignity and the will to participate in a people-oriented system of political governance. The oil generated wealth and the new concept of “modernity” could not facilitate a promising future with sustainable system of governance, participation and initiatives of the people to replace nomadic ignorance and neo-colonialism endured under the European imperialism. Arabia appears to be in conflict within itself, its time and role in modern history, vast resources of natural fossil fuels and Arab authoritarianism controlled and managed by the Western trained secret police apparatus across the world. Economic developments have led to more conflicts and wars throughout the Middle East Arab states seeking recognition and co-existence with the challenging political and economic developments scenarios. The individualistic absolutism has produced authoritarianism maintained by the Western military alliances and political intrigues generating new age of political mismanagement and institutionalized corruption. The issues of change and reformation of the corrupt system of governance are identified in form of Islamic extremism and terrorism that is nowhere to be seen. Other totalitarian rulers are experiencing the same fate sooner or later, the neo-colonial kings and presidents will make their way out not by persuasive reasoning but by the power of the people’s movement and sacrifices for freedom, peace and craving for new educated and intelligent leadership from the new generations. The victory of military coups is never permanent. The emerging battlegrounds clearly indicate that some ignorant rulers continue to rely on the force of evil to determine the future of the people. The supremacy of force and evil mongering is transitory and people across the Arab states will ultimately triumph their rights and freedom for a new and democratic system of governance.
People are determined to challenge the authoritarian absolutism and now the global community is anxiously supporting the movements for change and freedom. It is becoming more and more conceivable that nothing could safeguard the absolute rulers from the consequences of their own triviality, insanity and viciousness against the people’s movement led by the young entrepreneurs of information age implying new ideas and creative strategies to move the public sentiments, peaceful organized protests, effective public communication, and continued political demonstration across the Arab world.
It is the future, how to be rebuilt across the oil producing Arab nations. There must a rational concern and immediate thinking on the part of able and competent Muslim thinkers to plan for change and future-building, out of deliberate ruins in many quarters of the Arab world. The losses are too great in human, social, economic and political terms and consequential impacts will go on for ages to come as what was destroyed instantly by the blood thirsty draconian forces, cannot be rebuild overnight. These were the results of decade old indifferences, incompetent and corrupt system of neo-colonial governance – the net outgrowth of the Arab authoritarianism. The thinking people of the Arab hub must search for planned changes and Action Plan – both in short and long terms, and sustainable mechanism of value-based system of governance enlisting politically active and informed educated, intelligent and responsible people from the new and young generation. Given the new vision, approaches and strategic priorities so far outlined by President Morsi, for sure, there will be anew future for Egypt different than the imposed dictators and insane rulers, be it Bashar al Assad or Hosni Mubarak and so many others in waiting to go across the Arab world.
There are more daunting challenges and opportunities ahead for concerned Arab-Muslim scholars and thinkers to grasp the momentum of political change and try to sort out feasible political and socio-economic remedies and workable solutions. The role and tasks of the people dealing with change and management of development is painfully critical and progressive over certain period of time. The societal problems are complex and there is no single pill to diagnose the cancerous sickness. Professor Fouad Ajami (Arab Predicament) said it right: “the problems of the Arab world are the result of self-inflicted wounds.” If the one track rulers were open to listening and learning (vital traits of effective modern leadership), the catastrophic wars as in Syria against the people – firing on demonstrators in streets, funeral processions and worshippers in Masjids, killings of innocent citizens and destruction of the social environment and political horrors could have been avoided.
The question is how to manage change and emerging new and challenging opportunities to undo the past political strangulations and economic chaos and return to normalcy? It requires soul searching and foresight and strong commitment more than bringing a revolution to set the proper strategies and initiate planned solid actions for the future. Do the Arabs societies have the proactive visionary and competent people and institutions to deal with change and conflict management? Of all the Arab States, Egypt under President Morsi stands a better chance to cope with the phenomenon of change and to reconstruct its economy, political systems and national productivity. Undoubtedly, Change will come whether the Arab dictators like it or not, and all of the Arab lands will embrace people-oriented Islamic-valued governance. Sadly enough, Western news media offer irrational sensational and dramatic television coverage of public outcries for change, economic well being and social justice. There is no revolution in Egypt because few millions are out in streets; this is an evolving culture of political emancipation for the good of Egyptian democracy. The process of political change must be allowed its due course of tests and evolutionary growth and credibility. Otherwise, Egypt could go back to another Paraoha, more of the Generals- more of the dying face of Mubarak.
On the pertinent issues of sustainable change and human development for the future, the author’s article “Arab Authoritarian World is Changing – but how to make sense-out of nonsense” (Opinion Maker: 8/19/2011, Media Monitors Network: 8/21/2011, Aljazeera-CCUN: 8/29/2011), offered the following observation:
“If you scan and analyze over half of the century affairs to discover that Arab rulers had no accomplishments to their record. They failed on all the major front battles: failure in leadership, perception of change and development of the future, shameful failure in dealing with the freedom of Palestine and establishment of an independent State of Palestine, no strategy to cope with the growing influence of Israel in the Middle East, and creating viable societal economic and political infrastructures for a sustainable future. Under the guise of modernity, they propelled Western enhanced militarization and secretive police–based institutionalized system using “fear” as a strategy for their governance. Modern Arab armies are not the armies of Islam but to safeguard the rulers and their palaces. The armed forces of the modern Arab States supposed to be defending the Arab citizens and their rights and dignity are killing them. The egomaniac rulers, who loved the sensation of power and extravagant life in palaces built on moving sand and with stolen wealth, use iron fist rule to torture and kill the political opponents alleging Islamic extremism. The paranoid and ruthless kings, princes, presidents and fattish Generals do not frighten anybody, anymore except the self …… The Arab people have a success story to convey to the future generations for change and development but the absolute rulers stand no chance for any story of success and have no message to the future generations and the reason what went wrong to them, what made them commit heinous crimes and institutionalize a rule of insanity against their own self and the people they claim to rule.”