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Are Arab Citizens Rebellious? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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At the opening ceremony of the Sirte Arab Summit, and in the presence of 14 Arab leaders, the Libyan leader said that the Arab citizens “are rebellious and observing the situation.” Gaddafi said that the Arab citizens are “waiting for action, and the Arab street is full of talk, and has [also] heard a lot of talk, and I personally have spoken a lot in the past forty years about everything, and the Arab citizens except actions from us as Arab leaders, not speeches.” Are the Arab citizens truly rebellious and observing the situation?

The first thing that came to mind when I read Gaddafi’s speech is the famous phrase from Adel Imam’s well-known play “The Witness Who Saw Nothing” [Shahed Ma Shafsh Haga] when he would say “Poor me?” However there is no room for humor here, and there is no evidence that the Arab citizens – regardless of their nationality – are rebellious and observing the situation. It is true that the Arab citizens are frustrated and dissatisfied, but this is normal for they have dreams like any other people in the world. However the question that must be asked here is; what is the reason behind the frustration of the Arab citizens?

I believe that the primary reason for this is Arab politics itself; this has raised the ceiling of hope for Arab citizens and painted them a rosy picture, and “from the thunderous oceans to the rebellious Gulf” they have been satisfied with speeches and loud voices for a long time, to the point that “millions of people stamp their feet and say, battles are welcome!” Let us now look at a simple example here.

During Gaddafi’s speech about the rebelliousness of the Arab citizen at the Sirte Summit, the Libyan leader called on the summit “not to comply with the rule of unanimity” with regards to joint Arab action. History still recalls the famous dispute that took place at the 1990 Cairo Summit over the issue of Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait, and how angry Gaddafi was at the time towards the wise and courageous decision taken by late King Fahd Bin Abdulaziz, may he rest in peace, to invite foreign troops to guarantee the liberation of Kuwait. This decision was issued with a majority, but not unanimously, and it is this unanimity that Gaddafi wishes to abolish today after almost twenty years.

How can we return today to calls to abolish unanimity after all the tension and anger that has been born in the hearts of the Arab citizens since that summit, and what would have happened if the [Arab] leaders revealed the reality and the truth to their people at the time and helped the public to understand the reality of the decision, rather than stirring controversy that only served to disrupt the Arab people?

What would have happen if the Arabs took a wise decision to support late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat – may he rest in peace – who liberated his lands and protected his country, rather than accusing him of violating the Arab consensus – which Gaddafi wants to abolish today – and turning this into a game in the hands of those who exploit our causes?

An Arab diplomat told me that Arabs are convinced by facts and gradual progress in everything except politics. For example, the Arabs are convinced that business requires time in order to make profits, and in fact they believe that this is something that is self-evident, however in politics they want everything in the manner of “it must happen now” and for example, they want negotiations to begin today and end tomorrow so that they witness the results the day after.

The diplomat said that the reasons behind this are “the Arab Summits, the rhetoric, the fictitious promises, and the absence of political rationality.” Of course we should add the absence of political awareness to this list as well. Therefore the Arab citizens are not rebellious and observing the situation, but they are in need of politics that is endowed with credibility and transparency, they are in need of more openness and realism, not vague slogans that transforms risk into heroism and suicide into courage.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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