Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Regimes that are professional liars | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that when Washington moved to deal with the events in Libya, during the outbreak of the revolution, “we had to test the willingness of the Arab League and Arab countries to go beyond rhetoric to action and support.” This highlights a problem in our region, namely that some regimes have become professional liars.

For example, speaking from Doha, leader of the Tunisian al-Nahda party, Mr. Rashid Ghannouchi, said “we cannot imagine a contradiction between Islam and the interests of the people, for everything that is in the interests of the people and achieves justice comes from Islam, even if it does not take the name of Islam.” He made this statement as part of an explanation regarding the future of a democratic Tunisia. These can be no doubt that these are beautiful words, but what about the implementation of this on the ground? That is the real question! For anybody who reads, for example, [former Egyptian President] Gamal Abdel Nasser’s speeches on Arabism, freedom, and dignity, will find this to be beautiful rhetoric, however the reality on the ground was the complete opposite of this, and this resulted in successive defeats and the appearance of failed military regimes in our region, and now we are seeing our people revolting against these same military regimes after decades of stagnation and suppression.

What I mean to say is that sometimes some politicians deceive or lie to others, for example, when they find themselves under pressure; however what has happened in our region is that we now have some regimes that have become professional liars. Saddam Hussein, for example, was the victim of a lie that he himself helped to propagate, namely that he possessed weapons of mass destruction, which is something that led to the collapse of his regime and eventual death. During questioning, Saddam Hussein told the Americans that he benefited from the idea that he possessed such weapons, and that this allowed him to deter Iran. In other words, he used this lie to deter! In contrast to Saddam Hussein and his end, which came about as a result of a lie, we see Libya today announcing that it has uncovered illegal weapons within its territory, even though Gaddafi had announced his complete cooperation with the US during the George W. Bush era. However after the Libyan leader’s death, it was revealed that he had lied and had not given up his [chemical] weapons! Whilst we can also clearly see what the Yemeni regime is doing with regards to the crisis it is facing in the country and the number of times that it had announced that the Yemeni president would step down!

Unfortunately, excelling in lying in our region is not just something that occurs at the level of some of our regimes, but also applies to some intellectuals and media outlets! In late 1998 some media outlets, including state media, would grant Osama Bin Laden the title of “sheikh”, because there was a fundamentalist flavor to the game at that time. However following the wave of terrorist from 2001 onwards those who had previously supported [Islamic] fundamentalism turned their attention elsewhere and began playing a different game, or shall I say telling a different lie, namely the lie of “[anti-American] resistance”. We have seen the rise of regimes that are skilled in “deception or twisting and turning”, according to the expression used by Qatari Prime Minister [Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim al-Thani], in reference to the Syrian regime and, of course, the Iranian regime. Anybody who doubts this should enjoy the game that is being played with regards to the Arab League initiative on Syria, and the manner in which the al-Assad regime is dealing with this. What is important is that after fundamentalism we saw anti-Americanism, and now we have entered the game of playing with democracy in the region, and so people have passed from “fundamentalism” to “anti-Americanism”, to “supporting “democracy”.

For within just 10 years our region has been turned on its head, as have some of the regimes within it, not to mention our intellectuals and media. This is something that happened suddenly and without warning; and we have seen our region move from one extreme to the other. The most prominent reason behind these changes were lies, and these are the lies issued by these same [regional] figures, political trends, media, and more. This is the most unfortunate thing, because we now have regimes, political trends, intellectuals, and a media, that are professional liars.