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When you leave the Middle East and land in any Western capital, you feel that you have rid yourself of the political climate and reached a planet where politics is not the food and drink of the inhabitants there. That is because on this planet people are pursuing the rudiments of a better way of life and they do not even want to know of the sufferings of the people you had just left behind in the turbulent Middle East. Their pretext for their lack of interest is that listening to the suffering of people is not going to alleviate this suffering and, therefore, it is better to speak about a more promising future, and they are right in this because their future seems to be a lot more promising than ours. For one thing they are bent on creating new political entities which allow their citizens more freedom, better opportunities and stronger political and economic presence on the world stage. But these very politicians who are caring at home wear different gloves when they move to discuss things at our region. They refer to our region as if it is a land with no people; a land with plenty of oil, interesting history, amazing wealth and no people to invest in these fortunes.

After all, this was the logic of past colonialism that suffered the pain to travel further a field in order to civilize those people who had no inkling of civilization. That is the only reading of events which prompts someone like the Secretary of States, Condoleezza Rice, to say on July 4th, the U.S independence day, that she is “proud of the US decision to invade Iraq” and that “the Middle East had improved since President George W. Bush took office”. The question is, is Rice proud of the two million women who were widowed because of the American war on Iraq, or is she proud of the three million children orphaned, one million killed, and five million displaced in Iraq? Or is all this non of her business and she is proud of the huge American base-embassy and of the many lasting American bases in Iraq which are there to stay? Or is she proud of the flow of Iraqi free oil to the U.S at the time the price of oil is becoming record high and of the history looted from the land of Mesopotamia and of the final liquidation of Iraqi scientists and intellectual capital?

But in order not to blame others and exonerate ourselves from the responsibility of what is happening to us, we should talk less about politics and get engaged in the real making of politics. And the real making of politics means to address points of weakness and consolidate the points of strength which we possess.

It is about time that the Arabs start making politics instead of talking about them. The making of politics means to benefit from the experiences of others, to do away with the entry visas among Arab states and reach agreements on political and economic issues which make the lives of Arab people better, their entity stronger, and their status on the international arena more respectable. It is true that Arab countries won their official independence half a century ago, but real work on citizenship and national interests still needs to be matured and completed. Paris was hosting over forty presidents and heads of states on the day of the Bastille 14th of July, but the first group of parade were the students of the French Political school, in an important signal to say those are the future of France and they are most important. When are we going to be totally dedicated to the future of our countries and peoples regardless of what the West wants from us, or of what foreign forces plan and, sometimes, conspire against our region and people.

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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