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A Crisis of Leadership - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In addition to all what has been written about plans for a “new Middle East” there is no doubt that the dangerous crises in the Middle East today, are is some aspects, at least leadership crises. Indeed, the important role of the leader and not the governor, has never been more apparent than it is today. Historically, the role of leaders has often been acknowledged. It is common knowledge that India would not have been the strong and stable country we see today if it were not for the exceptional leadership of Jawahir Lal Nehru and Mahatma Ghandi and the elite that worked with them. South Africa, too, may not have enjoyed it’s liberty of the hateful apartheid system had it not been for the brilliant leadership of Nelson Mandela and his colleagues. Similar things can be said of Malaysia which achieved a spectacular jump in all domains thanks to the vision and persistent endeavor of its loyal son Ton Mahatier Muhamad and his team. In the same context, the message of Islam would not have reached the four corners of the glob had it not been for the great leadership and example of the prophet Muhamad (peace be upon him).

Looking at the state of Iraqis today, who were until recently, the pride of the Arab nation, one cannot but lament their very bad luck in the many governors who ruled Iraq and the total absence of leadership that could invest in the country’s huge human and natural resources. In Palestine, too, and in addition to all the mischievous plans of a settling occupation, the crises, there, in some aspects, is a crises of leadership, a leadership which doesn’t possesses the vision, the will and the historic significance of every move and of every decision, although one should hasten to add that this lack of leadership is, in itself, a result of the continuous and deliberate assassination of every potential leader among the Palestinians on the hands of the Israeli occupying forces and their agents. In a quick review of the list of excellent young Palestinian leaders, who were assassinated by Israeli occupation authorities and their intelligence forces and their death squads, I numbered 42 men of the best leaders of Fatah who were assassinated in Beirut, Rome, Paris, Greece, Cyprus, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Jordan, USA, London, Tunisia, and in Palestine, of course, in addition to tens of leaders from Hamas al Jihad and the popular Front. Add to this thousands of the best men and women leaders who are locked up in Israeli jails.

The American occupation forces in Iraq are implementing the lessons learnt from the Israelis by killing scientists, thinkers, university professors, medical doctors in order to exhaust Iraq and prevent its people from possessing the ability to end occupation and rebuild the country.

In one sense the killer and the victim are suffering from a crises of leadership despite the fact that the consequences have a much worse impact on the victim, of course. As far as the American people are concerned, what kind of leadership is that which dragged their country into crippling and disastrous wars in the Middle East that claimed the lives of thousands of American soldiers and cost the USA hundreds of billions of dollars? This war has also brought shame and disgrace to the U.S because of the horrid human cost to millions of Iraqis who did nothing to deserve the wrath of the U.S and the terrible destruction it caused to their country that reduced it to a state of anarchy and civil strife. This in itself has put an end to the role of the U.S as a moral power who claims concern for human rights. The leaders of the U.S have worked to ensure fulfilling the interests of arms dealers, arms makers and oil companies. In this sense they have succeeded in destroying an Arab country and knocking it back to the dark ages. The crimes they have committed however, in order to achieve these interests, are against the Iraqis and the Americans alike, as American soldiers pay their lives and American people pay their money so that the driving force of arms and oil may multiply the fortunes of the few. From this perspective, it is not a coincidence to read in the Ha’aretz newspaper (28 June 2007) that the number of billionaires in Israel has increased by 15 % in 2006. Of course, this is the result of depriving indigenous Palestinians of their houses, lands, shops and even taxes. The more we, as Arabs, read about the new emphases on human resources in the west, the more we see the best Arab human resources killed, imprisoned or turned into a status of refugees after killing their leaders, thinkers and intellectuals.

The crises of leadership both in the U.S. and in the Arab world is a real one and it compliments other causes which triggered chaos, despair, violence, and migration in the land of civilizations and the cradle of religions from Babylon to Beitlaham in Palestine. This state of chaos, terrible as it is, threatens of extending even further and becoming out of control not only in the Middle East but in the world at large. Are the sons and daughters of humanity going to understand this important challenge by playing an active and brave role in producing leaderships which establishes peace, security and preserve human dignity instead of launching wars and causing so much destruction, pain and mayhem under the pretext of fighting terrorism and ensuring peace and security.

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is political and media advisor to the Syrian presidency, and the former minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer, and has been a professor at Damascus University since 1985. She received her PhD in English Literature from Warwick University, London. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

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