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Since becoming the first speaker of the Arab parliament under the auspices of the Arab League, Mohammed Jassim Al-Saqr has in theory, become the president of all Arabs. However, practically, he has more authority as a media figure than as an Arab politician. Moreover, his position as a member of the Kuwaiti parliament is stronger than that of his position in the Arab parliament.

The announcement of the Arab League of establishing the Arab Parliament has been met so far by a lack of interest and even by mockery. It is perceived as mere propaganda that does not differ much from the attempts of Arab governments to sell their fraudulent elections and parliaments to the public. Am I being unreasonably tough on the League and the representative body of 300 million Arabs?

The fact is the leadership and the representation of Arabs is currently no more than a mythical dream. Through revolution, coups, media propaganda, goals, have been created but have always failed. The Arab countries remain divided and antagonistic.

Unfortunately, goals cannot be achieved by merely hoping or believing in official statements, for if this was the case, the Arab Parliament would have been the most precious gift to Arabs. The Arab Parliament represents the development of the hollow national parliaments to one major parliament. To avoid accusations of being pessimistic, I pose some crucial questions: how can a parliament make decisions on behalf of nations that does not represent in the first place? How could it legislate without legislative powers? How could it implement while it lacks the right to issue orders or prevent policies or summon somebody? These are all question based on facts not opinions.

If we were to praise anything, it would be the fact that the Arab League Parliament includes people like Al Saqr who has six years of real parliamentary experience from Kuwait and who has traveled to most Arab countries to promote the Arab Parliament. I am confident that there are many parliamentarians similar to Al Saqr. I do not suspect their integrity; I merely seek to highlight that the Arab Parliament could not bestow liberal democratic parliamentary practices in light of the lack of such measures in the Arab League itself with which the Arab Parliament is affiliated. The Arab Parliament is insignificant because the parliaments of its member states are corrupt, limited or marginal. Furthermore, regional parliaments are also of no value as the municipal councils are simply superficial. The causes are deeply rooted.

With all due respect, to the members of the new Arab Parliament, what should we look for or expect except for the deduction of millions of dollars of expenses from the declining budget of the Arab League? I can only hope that the Arab Parliament officials accept the challenging and mocking criticism that they will face and perhaps try to prove that they may be capable of having a trustworthy parliament for a change.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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