Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Arab Spring and Somalia’s drought | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page

The Arab Spring has had a tremendous impact amongst media representatives, politicians, intellectuals and writers, with the common goal of human dignity. Yet with regards to the tragedy in Somalia, the common goal is to save millions of people who are threatened with starvation. It is sorrowful that such a horrific human tragedy has not received its share of attention from governments, individuals or the Arab media, now transfixed on the fine details of the Arab revolutions. Of course, the Arab revolutions deserve attention, yet there is a difference between thousands who take to streets to maintain their dignity, and millions who are rising up in order to survive. I’m certainly not suggesting that we stop talking about the Arab uprisings, and then concentrate on the distressing human tragedy in Somalia instead, but we must strike a balance between our different causes. Every issue must be handled in a manner commensurate with its importance and gravity. As the poet said: “If a man is suffering from two illnesses, he would be wise to treat the most severe one first”.

UN official statistics show alarming figures: the famine is the most severe in 20 years and has so far claimed the lives of tens of thousands of children who starved to death or died because of a lack of medication. Nearly 3.5 million people are vulnerable to death unless we [the Arabs] – whose lives are by contrast threatened because of indigestion and obesity – listen to our conscience. Indeed, our state of indigestion has also inflicted our garbage cans, which are filled with piles of rice, meat and desserts.

I say our conscience, not “theirs”, meaning that of the international community. This is because once the United Nations declared a famine in Somalia; conspiracy theorists announced that this declaration was nothing more than a ploy intended to facilitate intervention in Somalia. Well, if so, it is now the opportunity for the Arabs to “intervene” in Somalia, in order not to pave the way for foreign intruders, whether through their missionaries, political organizations, or military interference. We are not stupid, and we are aware that international aid and relief organizations do come with agendas, but the ordeal is now so dreadful that there is no room for us to scrutinize identity cards and intentions; because tens of thousands of Somalis are die everyday, and millions more are vulnerable to death. Either the Muslim countries gather together to rescue Somalia – and the responsibility here should fall on the Organization of Islamic Conference – or we must open the way for international organizations to step in, even if we are aware of any ulterior motives. If for example you were learning to swim at the beach, and you were about to drown, and all of a sudden you saw a whore who does not believe in God or Judgment Day, naked as the day she was born, who had long tried to seduce you, you would definitely ask her to rescue you, or at least throw the lifebuoy. Of course you would not care about her infidelity, whoredom, or nudity, so what can we say about a nation and millions of people who are facing death, and indeed the thousands who die every day.

What really hurts is that the sum required for the relief process, according to UN statistics, would not be enormous at all if only one Arab oil-producing country were to pay it (approximately 300 million US dollars), let alone if each country made a donation according to its budget, and Arab citizens were urged to donate to the hungry, even if only a few dollars. But it seems that we have forgotten Somalia’s starvation, and the need for international organizations. If Islam has forbidden that a Muslim sleep with a full stomach whilst his neighbor is hungry, what can we say about someone who is stuffed with food whilst the sons of his neighbor are starving to death, one after another?