will the Arab World be
able to master its own
University Mohamed V, Rabat,
Rabat, Morocco - September 25, 2004
- Published by Kyodo News, Japan
The question posed in the title
implicitly admits that the Arab world is not presently
master of its own destiny. This is quite true and has
been so for several decades.
The Arab world is composed of 22
countries, including Palestine, a total population of 300
million 40% of whom are under 15 years of age. The region
represents an area of 13 million square kilometres (35
times the area of Japan).
It is hard to understand what is
happening in this region today without recalling elements
of a past which is still affecting the present and
conditioning the future. Atomization has been and remains
one of the basic obstacles facing the region. Eighty
percent of the total Arab population is concentrated in 7
countries whereas 7 other countries barely reach 2
percent of that total.
This geo-political fragmentation is
the consequence of a harmonized colonial Anglo-French
plan, after the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire,
including the Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916), the Balfour
Declaration concerning Palestine (1917) and the Armistice
Treaty (1918) which has transformed the region into a
mosaic of artificial kinglets and mini-territories well
endowed with oil.
A balkanization which is reflected
today in an unequal distribution of income in the region
- from less than $ 500 dollars (Somalia, Yemen,
Mauritania) to over $ 20.0000 dollars (United Arab
Emirates and Kuwait). The image people have about the
richness of the Arab world needs to be relativized. The
total GDP of the Arab countries ($ 500 billion dollars)is
not even equal to the GDP of Spain and represents only
one fourth of the GDP of Germany.
Arab oil (two-thirds of the world
reserves) has proven to be the major curse of the region
because of the rivalries it arouses among major
international politico-economic interests. Oil has also
encouraged an exogenous model of development with an
exaggerated reliance on external sources and models which
stifles creativity and innovation. It has smothered
self-reliance, promoted corruption and entertained a
systemic waste of resources and a withering away of
There can be no real Arab
independence until there is an independent Arab oil
management. This calls for a radical change of the
political regimes in power and of the policies of the
multinational companies who are the real managers of that
oil with the backing of Great Powers.
It is most appropriate to speak of
the "establishment of independent developments in the
Arab world" because no Arab country is independent today.
It suffices to see their inaction, cowardice and betrayal
with respect to what is taking place in Palestine and
The harsh fact is that not a single
Arab country has been able so far to enable its
population to live adequately and in dignity. The region
has been the seat of successive long-lasting massacres
and an un-ending military, political and socio-economic
occupation. It still suffers from poverty, illiteracy
(50% of the population), the absence of truly democratic
institutions including effective mechanisms for the
protection of human rights, the lack of investment in
research and development and very inadequate educational
and cultural policies.
The first priority is the
establishment of democratic institutions which recognize
the people as the source of power in the place of
bestowed constitutions. A democracy that is
self-generated not one exported with a "fast-food"
None of the "Western democratic
liberal" countries would be ready to accept the
introduction of truly democratic regimes in the Arab
world. It would endanger their vested interests and the
politically corrupt systems they have backed for years.
One finds here a hypocritical connivance between the
reactionary forces in the Arab world and the Western
officials who proselytise democracy and human
The least democratic system in the
Arab world today is the one which has been imposed in
Iraq by the Occupation forces with the assistance of a
network of criminals and corrupt traitors totally
rejected by the population.
The present models of development
have proven to be a total failure. There is a necessity
for more endogenous development policies which take into
account the values, aspirations and needs of the
populations concerned with greater self-reliant regional
Political and economic integration
is a fundamental priority for the building of a community
of 300 million people with a critical mass and an economy
of scale. The tragedy of the Arab world is that one finds
no "vision" of the future anywhere except the one imposed
by the World Bank. No vision because there is no
democratic participatory process.
The tasks to be undertaken in order
to attain a relative independence are arduous and
numerous. From those of democratization and social
justice to the most basic objectives such as food
self-sufficiency, water management, fundamental education
and health care.
The international environment does
not favour change as long as a mega-imperial power
dictates the way to the whole world and which is going
through an acute phase of Arab-phobia and Islam-phobia.
This fear is not limited to the United States.
Real fundamental change may have to
wait for the end of the supremacy of the present
mega-imperial power and the advent of China and India
within the next fifteen to twenty years as super powers -
thereby relegating the United States of America to second
and even third position in the world economy.
Until then I do not believe that
any of the present 22 regimes in the Arab world will be
able to survive for more than ten to fifteen years
because they are in full contradiction with the feelings
of their peoples.
A recent poll has shown that 98% of
Egyptians were opposed to the policies of the United
States, in the case of Saudi Arabia the figure is 94% of
the people and in that of Morocco it is 88%.
The future of the Arab world will
also be determined by a very deep scar in the flesh and
memory of the Arab people - the one of the massacres of
Palestine and Iraq and the vast demolition of dwellings
and of a millenary cultural patrimony. It will take
several generations to heal. History has a price slightly
different from the ones which prevail in Wall Street or
on the oil market: because dignity is
TFF & the author 2004
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