In this op-ed, Mohammad S. Moussalli discusses the crux of the Middle East and Arab dilemma; and makes suggestions so that to establish security and peace in the world.
Whenever you get involved in a political discussion concerning the question of peace and security in this chaotic world, you will find out that Middle East politics, Islamic and Arab organizations, Islamist groups, the Iranian regime, and Israel are the crux of any profound argumentation to puzzle out this dilemma. In many parts of the world, there is a common belief that without ensuring peace and stability in the Arab world and Middle East region, the world would never enter a long-lasting prosperous and tranquil state.
Arab supporters and apologists impute the current miserable state of affairs of Arab and Muslim countries to some wicked conspiracy at which they bring in serious accusations against some nations and countries to posit their self-justifications thereof. However, most nonpartisan and political analysts pin the blame on Arab leadership, Arab League, and Islamic organizations more than blaming the international community, though they hold all accountable for such severe adversities and disarrays.
At large, these two standpoints rest on the same lived through actualities, yet have different case analysis and judgment of Middle East’s knotty issues. Undeniably, the fact is that there are chronic problems, which were not properly addressed neither by Middle Eastern and Islamic countries and their regional organizations, such as the inefficient Arab League and Organization of the Islamic Conference, nor by advanced democratic countries and international organizations, chiefly the UN and its crippled Security Council.
Nonetheless, the underlying causes of the existing deplorable scene in the Middle East and the Arab world hold several compounded and intermixed aspects that have to be reassessed in a fair and profound way to figure out long-lasting resolutions.
Among those unsolved pivotal issues, the Middle East region, without exception, suffers degenerating consequences due to the failure of Israeli governments, Arab-Palestinian fronts and the international community to find and impose a durable answer to the most drawn-out armed conflict over land in modern history, and to the unceasing state of belligerency between Arabs and Israelis.
Alongside the Arab-Israeli dilemma, the Arab authorities are facing vast domestic and regional challenges of which they became more dependent on the support of foreign powers to uphold their threatened national security, most of which to withstand the increasing hostile interference of the Iranian regime and its Arab Shiite affiliates in the Arab region.
Add on that, Arab governments and their corresponding official religious authorities were infirm to negate or safely ingest Sunni extremist notions and radical movements. Most authoritative Sunni religious establishments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria, for instance, could not stand firm against the undercurrent of radicalism and Salafism. In the same manner, these religious authorities who are supposed to be the frame of reference to all Sunni Islamic doctrines and the pumping heart of religious rationality to 1.40 billion Sunni Muslims, could not even contain the spread of tailor-made radical fatwas (rulings)–let alone voiding the rationale of these savage Fatwas.
Middle East countries, who produce one-third of world’s oil supplies and hold the richest crude oil reservoir on earth (around 50% of world’s total proven reserves), have failed to provide real human development to its citizens or reduce its national poverty. While, according to UNHDR-2011, 40% of Arab population (over 140 million) are living below the poverty line (less than $2 a day)–not to mention the camouflaged cases of Iran and Turkey, who have tens of millions of poor and unemployed people (18% poor plus 20% unemployed in Turkey, 17% poor plus 12% unemployed in Iran).
Obviously, the Islamic world and Arab region, in particular, are functioning very poorly at all levels—leave off countries like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Like it or not, the largest part of that failure is owed to their rigid political systems, self-opinionated leadership, unreliable religious clerics, incompetency of most national governments, unrepresentative legislative assemblies (where installed), sectarian political parties (where permissible), under-the-thumb media, folkloric Arab League and fragmentation of Arab civil societies—let alone the off-key discourse of Islamic radicals.
This square say, however, is not to imply that world powers like the U.S., EU, United Nations, Security Council, the so-called international community and international organizations are not culpable for such dangerous havoc, especially when one finds no reason for their unjustified sloth and impotency to sustain security in the Middle East and thus lead the world to peace.
To make a change, the Arab world and the Middle East, al large, need to have liberal forward-thinking leaders that have plans to defuse radicalism, promote moderate political orientations, enforce the rule of law, foster social justice and civil rights, work toward actual economic growth, and render real human development. This major reform approach, however, necessitates some modifications of the collective security fundament of the region.
On that, this developing region needs the actual participation and support of the UN and some advanced countries, especially those of the free world, to orchestrate a customized international security act through which they enforce the same international security criteria and penalizing measures on the entire region without exception.
In addition, Middle Eastern countries need the unfeigned help of the international community in the implementation of an all-embracing process meant to promote moderation, deliver true reform, facilitate international aid plan to trigger economic development, openly patronize liberalistic and democratic movements, and firmly back up human rights and civil liberties advocacy groups in this region. Otherwise, security and stability of our world will remain in jeopardy until the first world and Middle East countries work shoulder-to-shoulder to bring about real peace to all.
To all intents, the question of whether this degenerative case is a result of an intrinsic failure of Middle Eastern nations or an international conspiracy of silence, or just a dereliction of the self-declared obligations of the international community, is likely to remain in dispute for some time.
Meanwhile, the emerging test of intents, which will define future alliances thus and so reshape the general security and political discourse of this region, is whether and how the First World will respond to the slaughter of more than hundred thousand innocent Syrian lives who were, as now, butchered hour-by-hour just because they are calling for democracy, justice, and liberty. They died for the same values and rights that the free world is supposed to stand up for—alas, none really did so far.
Before and after the demoralizing seven endpoints of the recent G-8 summit in Northern Ireland, the unavoidable question is whether the leaders of the free world dare to take a firm stand to save and free the Syrian people and thus stabilize the raging Middle East before it is too late.
Or else, no one should be astonished, if the next blame game is about the use of weapons of mass destruction and the responsibilities for the death of millions thereof.