- DevelopmentOther Issues
- January 8, 2010
- 23 minutes read
Arabs dream of better life, brighter future
What have been the problems of Arab societies over the last half century? Are they political, economic or social problems, or are they related to all these aspects together?
In fact, the Arab world is suffering from all these problems, in addition to the apparent absence of vision due to the weakness of those that make the future and plan for it.
At the top of the list of these forces is the civil society, led by the middle class, which was sidelined by Arab governments and dark forces that were keen to thwart any attempt by civil society forces to play an effective role in the development of their countries.
What makes one ask this is the state of stagnation in Arab societies, as if they are living beyond the framework of change and development.
Regretfully, it has been noticed that Arabs today yearn for the past, curse the present and fear an uncertain future.
Worse is that Arabs are now passing through a state of disinterest, especially since they are occupied with their own issues, which take priority over general issues.
Arab people have become more interested in their private affairs and their daily matters than in public affairs.
Lack of progress and development
During the time when nationalist and leftist ideologies were dominating the Arab street, the Arab nation did not achieve the progress and development it sought.
The ordinary Arab man pays the price for the ongoing conflict between all political ideologies, especially in key Arab capitals including Cairo, Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut, and is also suffering from oppression at the hands of his own authorities.
Thus, most studies and books calling for change were written and printed in Beirut, the same city that has seen the most political assassinations.
Arab intellectuals and experts have started migrating to Western countries such as the US, UK, Australia or European countries.
The reason for this brain drain is that the enlightened are not welcome in their own countries and could not make use of their academic and professional capabilities.
This migration of Arab intellectuals was caused by their frustration after failing to fulfil the Arab dream of achieving comprehensive development and unity.
In fact, the dream of unity was put aside to make room for sectionalist projects and the political forces that seized power through military coups in some Arab countries brought the conflict back to square one.
Maybe all these reasons contributed to the emergence of the political Islam current, and especially the Muslim Brotherhood party, which brought many sectors of society, especially the poor ones, under their influence in both rich and underprivileged countries.
Here a new stage began, which was marked by a trend to fight all nationalist and leftist forces under the pretext of fighting the infidels or the failure of the nationalist and leftist projects.
After the failure of feudalism and the new bourgeois to maintain the gains of the Arab revolution and prevent the fall of Palestine into the hands of Zionists with the help of their allies, the Arab nationalist and leftist forces on their side failed to achieve their Arab unity project.
In addition, all Arab attempts at unity in the second half of the 20th century were nipped in the bud and failed to liberate Palestine.
Even worse, they could not stop the Zionists from expanding their occupation and confiscating more Arab lands in Gaza, Sinai, the West Bank and Golan Heights, and even threatening two Arab capitals and invading one of the dearest to the hearts of the Arab public, namely Beirut.
Instead of standing up to this aggression through unity, the Arab nation became even more divided and sectionalised. Each party was looking for its own salvation, even if it came at the expense of fellow Arab countries and the Arabs’ first central cause, which is the Palestinian issue.
Perhaps those who followed internal conflicts within the Arab body realised the gravity of the situation, which contributed to creating barriers between members of the same society.
In this atmosphere, political Islam found fertile ground and tried to convince people of the failure of all other projects, including feudalism, capitalism, nationalism, socialism and Marxism.
Arabs dreaming of deliverance had no other choice but to follow this new current, which raised the banner of salvation for the public while promising them paradise.
Political Islam considered all former nationalist and leftist currents as enemies and vowed to fight them under the theme “He who is not with me is against me”.
To complete the strike against nationalist and leftist currents, many Arab regimes created alliances with the Islamist forces whenever possible.
Further increasing the power of Islamist groups was the Cold War, when global capitalism used Islam to fight its main foe, the former Soviet Union.
Islamist groups were overjoyed at the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was standing against colonialist projects in the region.
This makes us stop and wonder whether the forces of political Islam fulfilled the dreams of Arabs.
The major problem is that these groups joined the democratic political process in some countries, such as Kuwait.
It is obvious now that they had an agenda of their own, which is laying the groundwork for the state of their dreams.
Accordingly, these groups started hindering the work of parliaments and government bodies by bringing to attention issues that are not related to public concern while using all means of oppression against opponents and accusing them of secularism or atheism.
How can it be possible that thousands of people in a rich country are unemployed or still in need of housing? And how were some developed countries in which there is public participation brought back to the pre-development era and turned into authoritarian states?
Aren’t these examples of the suffering of people in most Arab countries?
It seems that over half a century of independence was of no benefit to Arab citizens, who are living in a state of frustration and despair, regardless of the various political regimes in the Arab world.
Despite this gloomy picture, Arabs still dream of a better life and a brighter future.
Dr Mohammad Abdullah Al Mutawa is a professor of sociology at the UAE University in Al Ain.