On the menu this hot summer, are a number of great events, some distressing and others pleasant. Amongst them are two monumental events that can change our lives and those of our children, the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the draft Iraqi constitution, which is set to bring together eighteen governorates and 26 million people.
If the Palestinian leadership can successfully oversee the Israeli disengagement from Gaza, it will enable it, and the entire region, to draw closer to the final withdrawal form the larger part of occupied Palestine, the West Bank, and therefore end Israeli occupation and establish a Palestinian state.
The withdrawal from Gaza represents a unique historical chance unlikely to be repeated without bloodshed and a prolongation of Israel’s occupation. The narrow Strip now occupies center stage for the government of Mahmoud Abbas and the world at large. We Arabs need to assist his government if we are to see the light at the end of the tunnel we had hoped for so long. If we leave him alone to struggle to cope, we will loose every inch of Palestinian land and endanger the entire region.
Similarly, in Iraq, politicians are fighting behind closed doors to draft the first constitution in half a century and the first since the overthrow of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. If Iraqis are to reach an agreement within the next week, the country will remain unified. However, if they fail, the Arab world will suffer the fallout of violence and infighting in Iraq, with extremists such as al Zarqawi and al Sadr competing for power and for decades to come.
Some of us might not be aware of the importance of these two defining events that are sure to affect the lives and the future of everyone in the Arab world. A successful Israeli withdrawal form the Gaza Strip could signal the beginning of the end of a century regarded by many as the most unstable the Arabs have ever witnessed. The Iraqi constitution for its part could signal a way out of one of the biggest crises the Arab world has recently experienced. Both events require to be dealt with cautiously so as to reflect their historical and political significance.
The Israeli withdrawal currently underway deserves more than a few media sound bites; it requires Arab government giving financial and political aid. The Palestinian Authority, which is fighting on two fronts against competing Palestinian groups and the Israeli army, will not succeed in molding this withdrawal into economic and political wins without first acting as a responsible government.
As for Iraq, its people deserve the Arab world unanimously respecting their will on the constitution that they believe will solve the problem of terrorism. If the people of Iraqi and Palestine do not succeed, the entire region will suffer. However, if both governments and their people grasp the opportunities available to them, our future will be bright and hopeful.