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Beware of the Walls! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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There are some figures and leaders in the history of the Arab world who have only taken their people down a dead end and yet these figures still receive support, encouragement and applause for their actions.

In Egypt, for example, Gamal Abdel Nasser still enjoys widespread popularity despite being the cause an abominable defeat that led to the loss of more than half of the occupied Arab territories and the nationalization of Egyptian wealth, (we are yet to see a television series like that of ‘King Farouk’ that reveals the truth behind the era of Abdel Nasser in a frank manner) as opposed to former President Anwar Sadat who had fully regained the usurped territories of his country. Another one of those characters was Saddam Hussein, who destroyed his country through wars, yet there are still some groups who believe that he was an inspirational hero and a respected leader.

Such leaders have tried in the past to liberate Palestine through Kuwait, Lebanon, Chad and even through Yemen and in every case the entire region has had to pay a heavy price. Voices of doubt and mistrust returned to the surface. Therefore, the issue changed from political analysis to idle “chit-chat” or political “venting of anger” and this, for sure, is a completely different issue. The current Arab scene is depressing: the Arab democracies that exist today in Iraq and Lebanon have only been accepted with the blessings of the supreme Shia guide in Iraq, Al Sistani, and the Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Sfeir Nasrallah in Lebanon, both clear examples of where matters have reached in sectarian Arab democracies. One cannot forget the shuttle tours of the Sudanese diplomat in which he mediated between Lebanese parties whilst the situation in his own country was quickly deteriorating in three major regions: the south, Darfur and eastern Sudan. How can one forget the painful Palestinian scene, the celebration of the “liberation” of the Gaza Strip and the declaration of its independence that Hamas had announced at the expense of the Palestinian Authority and the catastrophic and miserable situation that it led to?

There are new walls that are being built; some walls are religious, others are cultural, others are economic and others are social that could “include” us by force just as the case has been previously. Yet all of these walls were built upon slogans that are void of content and objective.

Education plans and the required demands for development and reform are all at risk of disappearing if these walls are built in front of them. Even political solutions to the political crises of the region will be demolished and destroyed if mortal “walls” were to be built before them. Between the walls that the Arabs had built themselves with which they have isolated themselves from the world and other walls that blocked their paths, there remains a glimmer of hope that is necessary for change, yet that is also diminishing at an alarming rate.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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