COLUMN: Fatah – Bloom is long off the Arab Spring

- July 11th, 2012

A rudderless Arab Spring

by Tarek Fatah

The July 6 prime time discussion on Jordan’s JoSat TV about the war in Syria epitomized the fundamental flaws of Arab political discourse.

What started as a heated debate between two politicians on opposing sides of the Syrian civil war, soon descended into the hurling of abuses and insults on live television.

Jordanian MP Muhammad Al-Shawabikah accused former MP Mansour Seif Al-Din Murad of being a “collaborator” of the Syrian regime.

In response, Murad claimed his opponent was working for Israel’s intelligence service, Mossad.

“Shut up,” said one. “No, you shut up,” came the retort. “You are mafia thief,” screamed Murad. Not to be outdone, Al-Shawabikah responded, “To hell with you and your father.”

What happened next stunned the host and the viewers. Al-Shawabikah bent over, pulled off his shoe and hurled it towards Murad, who ducked behind the desk and in doing so wrecked the table. Both men then stood up and lunged at each other for a fistfight. Within seconds, Al-Shawabikah had pulled out a silver pistol from under his belt before the TV transmission was cut off.

Parliamentary brawls and violence during TV discussions is not new nor is it exclusive to the Arab World. From Greece to Ukraine and Taiwan to Tokyo, politicians have succumbed to their anger in embarrassing displays of violence.

There is an ever-rising culture of macho men firing guns in the air, even if it’s a birth or a wedding.

If the doctor dictator of Damascus slaughters Syrians, his opposition responds in kind, and lynches supporters of the ruling Baath party in public.

The script being followed by both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Islamist opponents is straight from the medieval playbook of the 8th century when the entire extended family of the ruling Ummayad caliph was slaughtered after being invited by the conquering Abbasids to a reconciliation dinner. Its as if the clocks of the Middle East are frozen in time.

The Jordanian TV fiasco was not the only symptom of the pedestrian nature of Arab political and intellectual leadership and the lack of tolerance of the “other.”

Earlier this month in Cairo, a meeting that was supposed to bring Syria’s splintered opposition together, also descended into fistfights.

Two opposition groups fighting the al-Assad regime, instead of building a coalition, accused each other of being either fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood or the al-Assad regime. They did, however, find common ground on one issue: denying the recognition of the Kurdish people of Syria.

The ill treatment of Kurds by Arabs is not just a Syrian phenomenon and democracy alone will not bring the non-Arab minorities of the Arab World any sense of liberty or dignity.

In Libya, sub-Saharan Black Africans were slaughtered with impunity; in Tunisia and Morocco the Amazigh and Berbers found no spring while Black Nubians in Egypt and the Baloch of Bahrain, only have frigid, dry summers to look forward to. No spring for them.

If Arab constitutions do not embrace individual liberty over collective tribal identity as the cornerstone of democracy, and guarantee the rights of minorities as equal citizens, those elected to power will easily wipe out any gains made in the last year. And what happened in Cairo and Amman will be just a preview of what’s to come.

Categories: Politics

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2 comments

  1. Greg says:

    It is obvious that the West wants a war in Syria and / or Iran. You can see it on channels such as this. Of course Muslims in the Middle East are going to protect their countries. We need to understand that. The past ten years in terms of foreign policy have been horrible for Muslim / Christian relations.

    I feel that religion has done nothing but divide along those grounds. As a person without a religion, I feel that we need to head into a direction that has no religion and a world where we all live together peacefully and it does not matter what race we are. I have always said that diplomacy, peacekeeping and trying to avoid war at all costs is the best way to build a foreign policy. We need to have an independent foreign policy so we can focus on our economy and establish peace around the world. Also, with a foreign policy concentrating on ourselves, we can not worry about any country and we can truly be Canadian. That is how Canada should function.

    China and Russia also would not accept a foreign policy where we go after their biggest trading partners and allies. It would create a WW3 scenario. We should do everything possible to avoid that kind of scenario. People need to understand that governments usually want war and people are usually against war.

    As a person without a religion, I hope the future does have just Buddhism as a religion. Remember that the governments and those at the top don’t want a caring and thinking populace. They also want to easily indoctrinate people. Buddhism doesn’t allow for that. Buddhism should be the world’s supreme and only faith. It promotes peace, inclusion, love for all humanity, no war and wanting to ensure future generations have a better life. It is not a warmongering faith full of double standards like the monotheistic faiths.

    That is the reason why the Buddhist religion is better.

    The monotheistic religions have nothing to teach any religion. Buddhism is way better and a true pure good religion.

    Remember that the people who are the so-called faithful ones want a secret WW3 scenario. What do you think attacking Syria and / or Iran will cause.

    Thank you.

  2. Sara says:

    It is the Priests/Nuns/missionaries going to the middle east to risk their lives to promote peace – without guns/violence. I go to Church – and I was never taught voilence or hatred. You don’t see the whole picture. You don’t understand the world is made up of religions for thousand of years and will continue. We are all trying to live in a peaceful way. And we have so far in Canada.

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