By Mahboob A. Khawaja, Ph.D.
At the latest American Republican Presidential debate in Jacksonville, Florida (Thursday, January 26, moderated by Wolf Blitzer, CNN anchorman), Abraham Hassan, an American citizen of Palestinian descent asked a simple question as to how the candidates will facilitate a peaceful resolution between Israel and Palestine. The moderator asked Mitt Romney to respond first. His answer sounded far away from being a rational perspective. Romney alleged that peace was unthinkable as Palestinian were teaching in school books to kill the “Jews” and attacking Israel with rockets fired from Gaza. Then Newt Gingrich turned the philosophical jargon and repeated the previous stance that “Palestinians were an invented people.” The moderator did not ask Ron Paul and Rick Santorum for any response. Abraham Hassan stood for a while to make follow-up concern but was not given the opportunity. Watching the debate on this issue, one gets the impression that the two candidates were completely disconnected with the Official US policy on the Palestine homeland and their statements made no rational sense as if they were parroting the financial lobbyist’s assertions words by words. None of them mentioned Israeli occupation and illegal settlements on the Palestinian lands and habitats. Likewise, it shows how the Arab rulers are feebleminded without having any presence in the American political landscape that appears to be a critical factor for an ultimate peaceful resolution of the problem.
The Arab people were known to be embodiment of ancient culture, civilization and great many moral and religious narratives – the Arabian Peninsula where the three leading monolithic religions of Abrahamic Faith emerged and laid foundations of futuristic generations of believers in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Strangely, the land of supposedly flourishing peace and harmony is the landscape of hatred, unknown fear, continued bloodbaths and individualistic authoritarianism. On all the walking reflections of fear and uncertainty, many would claim to be peace activists and full of ideas to do good to the humanity in their own mindset. Yet, over sixty years, nothing seemed to have worked for the interests of the common folks across the troubled Middle East. There are more problematic situations deserving workable solution but most important one seems to be the THINKING of the people – of those in particular who enjoy influence and powerful political maneuvering over others. Israelis have the systemic organizations and understanding to live in a diverse socio-cultural environment as most emigrants had come from the former Nazis tyranny during the 2nd World War. Others have escaped from the ruthless communism of the former USSR to find planned comfort and security in Israel. This migration took under the former British mandate by displacing millions of the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine forced to leave their homes and lands and make room for the incoming Jewish refugees. After 1967 war, the paradigm has drastically changed with more lands occupied by Israel. Now, an independent Palestinian homeland envisaged by the UNO-Global community covers the areas originally belonging to Egypt (Gaza) and the West Bank- East Jerusalem part of the Kingdom of Jordan. But the 1949 UNO plan was based on the partition of Palestine into two states, one for Israel and one for Palestine.
Oil pumping Arab leaders have ignored and betrayed the cause of the freedom of Palestine. They seemed overwhelmed and derailed with the outcome of transitory economic prosperity and the impact of Western advanced technology and development scenarios. If there was anything to be credible and useful in global affairs, the Arab had a rich history of Islamic civilization flourishing for eight hundred years in Southern Europe. The Islamic civilization made significant scientific and knowledge driven contributions to the European and global humanity and gave birth to new knowledge, science, math, medicines, human development and public institutions leading to the Renaissance and the European industrial developments – changing age of darkness and insanity into a modern civilized world. Strangely enough, today that Arab world is victim of its own self-generated wickedness and conflicts and completely out of touch with the real world – how to make navigational change in conditions of extreme self- evolved adversities. How should the world view the contemporary Arab societies living under willing conspiracies of power and corruption of the authoritarianism for over half of a century? What happened to their Islamic culture, values and glorious civilization? Was the petrodollar a conspiracy (“fitna”) to disconnect the Arab people with the heritage of Islamic civilization?
Lust of power and greed stemming from the age of ignorance (“jahilliya”), the neo-colonial oil enriched Arab rulers fantasized the glory and triumphs of Western schemes of economic development by ridiculing Islam and its system of governance. They turned out to be wrong people, with wrong thinking and doing the wrong things. Understandably, Islam did not allow absolute authoritarianism to take roots but established a people-based system of governance with full accountability to God and the people, encouraging the pious and educated ones to assume the role of public offices policy making and leadership. All of this was denied and betrayed by the modern Arab rulers. To the insane rulers, common people were just as eggs and chickens, easy to break and easy to slaughter.
Individualistic absolutism is an epidemic across the oil enriched Arab world and has its own flourishing history. Paradoxical as it appears, changing fortunes of time have brought the cruel monsters that have darkened the history of mankind and the victims face to face in a court of law. Of course, that did not happen yet in much talked movement – War is a Crime to some of the Western realist thinkers and institutions – what do they plan to do to freely roaming and killers of three million Iraqi people – George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Tony Blair? Talking is not doing. Malaysian International Legal Tribunal had the courage to declare George Bush and Tony Blair as “war criminals” found guilty of crimes against humanity in Iraq. History tells that Hitler, Mussolini, George W. Bush, Tony Blair and many more – all were produced by the liberal democracy to run down the humanity with all the modern weaponry of insanity glorified as political order of the day and to become cancerous disease with treacherous consequences for the generations to come. Time must be reversed if you can that the 21st century civilization of conscientious human beings should continue to experience the bogus war on terrorism, and witness massive killings of innocent human beings and destruction of habitats for no other purpose except being an object and agenda of the few cruel monsters of history.
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 political actions 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. The problem was well defined by Shakespeare “the destiny of peoples coincided with the destiny of their monarch and nobles.” The knowledge-based, information age has dismantled some of the illusory borders and demarcation of nobilities and has challenged to bridge the conflicting time zones between the palaces and the people with the internet, cell phones, facebook, twitter and instant communication technologies. Abdulazaiz, An ordinary street cart vendor in Tunis gave life and moving spirit to a political movement unparallel in recent history leading to emerging people’s revolution in the entire Arab world. These are people’s revolution- a new order of the 21ts century against the established cruelty and well armed forces fully capable to commit unthinkable massacres at will and without accountability. Hosni Mubarak did it and killed many to fulfill the requisites of insanity and was the first one across the Arab world to attend a prison roll call in an Egyptian court of law. Egyptian must feel proud and powerful to bring a Pharaoh into a prison cell to answer the charges – not seen anywhere in the present Arab Middle East changing landscape. But it should send powerful signals of people’s resolve to seek justice, those who have been tortured and killed for the ambition of one man rule, be it Bashar al-Assad or Abdullah Saleh or others in the neighboring Arab states. Other naïve and egomaniac rulers still in power must take notice of this remarkable development paving ways for change and a different future.
It is clear that undeserving oil wealth and illegitimate power associated with their governance have removed sense of fear and shame to the extent that over several decades of cruelty has embolden the Arab rulers to commit any crimes, bloodbaths and rob the people of their originality of thinking, values and culture. Would the future generations free of the secular captivity hold these monsters accountable for their vicious crimes and political cruelty? The Western news media reports more than six thousand civilians having been gunned down in cold blood murdered in various parts of Syria in the past few months. Some of the Western leaders including the US are asking Bashar al-Assad to step down but not to the other authoritarian Arab rulers, subservient to the US and its European allies. Have the egoistic rulers misread the dictates of history? Could they be thoughtful of their own future – how would they end-up – most likely sooner than later? Well organized against the “fear” game institutionalized by the insane Arab rulers through secretive police apparatus that is maintained by the Western political masters, the game is near its end, it is no longer frightening to the will and imagination of the new Arab generation of entrepreneurs waging freedom movements for change and revolt against the manifested insanity of the few. The common Arab citizens no longer share any sense of helplessness and isolation as the global community has come to realize their sufferings and got inspiration from their valor and courage to produce people’s oriented marvelous revolution craving freedom in places that was unthinkable until recently like Tunis, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Syria.
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 sadistic rulers and their palaces. The armed forces were supposed to be defending the Arab citizens are killing them. The Arab League stooge – a colonial paper-based legacy failed to develop any sensitivity towards the cold blooded killings of civilians in Tunis, Syria, Iraq and Egypt. Its peace plan is no more than a dirty joke to the conscientious Arab intellectuals. The Arab rulers denied opportunities to the educated generation and thinking hub of the Arabian scholarly culture to develop public institutions or to participate in people-oriented system of governance. Those who tried to reason the unreason were labeled as Islamic terrorists and were kidnapped and murdered. Most Western leaders and human rights organization knew well these facts of the Arab life but remained complacent without uttering a word of truth. The egomaniac rulers, who loved the sensation of power and extravagant life in palaces built on moving sand and with stolen wealth, used iron fist rule to torture and kill the political opponents alleging Islamic extremism. The paranoid and ruthless kings, princes and presidents do not frighten anybody, anymore except the self either to take shelter and asylum with their former masters and others planning to explore where to go next – a hell in waiting, most likely. 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. In days and months ahead, many authoritarian walls will fall just like the Berlin Wall – those living luxuriously in palaces will be leaving them in a hurry as did Saddam Hussein, Shah of Iran, Hosni Mubarak, Ghaddafi, Bashar Al-Assad, Khalifa of Bahrain and Abdullah Saleh too. They all lived in utopian palaces away from the peoples and were never opened to listening and learning and their own history shall make no record except wickedness and treachery to the interests of the citizens
The Arab people’s revolutionary movements for change and freedom appear effective and their success is visible on the horizon but the authoritarian rulers and their history makes no sense on any rational criterion of analysis and objective assessment. How should history see them in a broader global context? What kind of picture do these leaders paint about the nature, moral and historical values of the Islamic-Arab societies? Would they all be tried in public courts of law? Would they run away with accumulated wealth and hide in secret palaces somewhere under the protection of the US, Britain or others? How would they compensate the innocent people targeted by their guns and bullets? How would they return the time, opportunities and wealth stolen from the people and hopes for a value-oriented Islamic culture and promising future to co-exist in a global community?
George BN Ayittey (“The Worst of the Worst – Bad dude dictators and general coconut heads” Foreign Policy: July-August 2010) offers the following characterization and context of the authoritarian rulers:
“The cost of all that despotism has been stultifying. Millions of lives have been lost, economies have collapsed, and whole states have failed under brutal repression. And what has made it worse is that the world is in denial. The end of the Cold War was also supposed to be the "End of History" — when democracy swept the world and repression went the way of the dinosaurs…….I call these revolutionaries-turned-tyrants "crocodile liberators," joining the ranks of other fine specimens ….the quack revolutionaries who betray the ideals that brought them to power, and the briefcase bandits who simply pillage and steal. Here's my list of the world's worst dictators. I have ranked them based on ignoble qualities of perfidy, cultural betrayal, and economic devastation. If this account of their evils makes you cringe, just imagine living under their rule.”