Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Why this absurdity? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Everybody who is monitoring our region, particularly after the so-called “Arab Spring”, will find themselves facing a pressing question, namely: why have we wasted our time, capabilities and opportunities – over decades – and remained in the same state, namely a state of regression, or shall we say backwardness?

In order to clarify the picture, let us look at a group of disconnected news items in order to clear up the situation in our region. A few weeks ago, Mr. Rashid Ghannouchi announced that secularism is not contrary to Islam, whilst 9 years after his arrest, the Iraqi government announced the acquittal of the former Iraqi Minister of Trade under Saddam Hussein and released him. Also this week, Egypt announced the acquittal of the brother of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, years after his arrest, whilst the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist al-Nour party, expressed their condolences to Egypt’s Coptic community over the death of Pope Shenouda III. The question here is: why have we wasted decades of opportunities, when the situation in our region was not correct or accurate, whether on the level of individuals, groups or states, whilst today we are dealing with all of these issues easily?

Why did Ghannouchi spend years fighting in opposition to the Tunisian regime whilst today he is utilizing the same logic as Bourguiba, may he rest in peace? What would have happened if the “civilized” Ghannouchi had worked to build Bourguiba’s Tunisia more than two decades ago or more? If he had done this, what state would Tunisia be in today? Why did Iraq delay the release of an innocent man who was only charged nine years after his arrest? What would have happened if the Iraqis had sat down for genuine reconciliation, and did not carry out the criminal Debaathificiation process? In this case, what state would Iraq be in today? What if the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, as well as the Salafists, gave the Copts their rights and proceeded to draft a new constitution based on the concept of citizenship, not religion, and understood that the homeland is for all, and that religion is for God to decide, so long as they are now offering condolences on the death of Pope Shenouda III? In which case, what state would Egypt be in today? Or is the issuance of condolences on the death of Pope Shenouda III a public relations campaign and nothing more? What if the Mubarak regime had operated under the principle that no bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another, with regards to the case of Ayman al-Zawahiri’s brother? In which case, would Mubarak’s end have been the same?

Here one might say “ifs” do not benefit anybody, however this is one of the tragedies of Arab culture, for this does not mean wishful thinking, so much as it means learning from lessons, studying past mistakes and ensuring these are not repeated. We were deceived, for example, by the Muslim Brotherhood with regards to the issue of peace with Israel, however the Muslim Brotherhood are now ruling Egypt which continues to have ongoing relations with Israel, at the same time that the al-Assad regime is committing crimes against the Syrian people which are far worse than any crimes committed by the Israelis against us! All of this is happening because we failed to read modern history correctly, and we did not learn from our past mistakes, and we did not ask one simple question, namely: what has been achieved for the Arab people in our region?

So when Ghannouchi says that certain parties, by which he means the Salafists, will one day reach awareness and rationality, as he – in his own opinion – has today, we must ask ourselves: why aren’t the rabble-rousers or the impetuous leading the political and cultural scene in the west, as they do in our region?

This is a question that requires more discussion, in order to understand why we have Hamas, Hezbollah, the Huthis, al-Assad and others, in our region.