By Khaled Almaeena
14 November 2014
Many in the Middle East are asking if they can be assured of a future which will provide for their needs and aspirations. Unfortunately, a quick look at the map of the area does not instill much confidence. The so-called Arab Spring did not bring the results intended. Counter-revolutionaries, revisionists and opportunists reaped the fruit of the uprisings. Those who dared stand up to oppression and pierced the walls of dictatorship now languish in jail. Religious parties and extremist groups hijacked the mass protests causing many parts of the Arab world to plunge into anarchy.
Today, political anarchy prevails in populous states and the bloodshed continues as each group, while proclaiming to be harbingers of democracy, uses violence with impunity to quell any dissidents. Meanwhile, innocent women and children continue to suffer the daily sounds of explosions and the thud of artillery.
In Iraq, total anarchy and sectarianism that have never surfaced before are now causing daily bloodbaths. In Syria, a raging civil war is going on with no end in sight. In Yemen, revolutions and counter-revolutions are taking place while the helpless Yemeni people endure the consequences. Elsewhere in the Arab world, there are pockets of terrorism that continue to threaten the peace and stability of the entire region.
Nipping It in the Bud
Arab leaders failed to nip in the bud the steady deterioration of order. This plunged very quickly into chaos and destruction. This rapid decline and complete breakdown of the few existing and struggling social and political institutions has now almost created a point of no return.
The Arab world cannot absolve itself of blame for the current impasse, nor can it deny its responsibility for the social ills that contributed to the sectarian divide. However, the United States is also accountable for the present tragedy. The invasion of Iraq and the dismantling of all its institutions created a lethal vacuum and tore apart the fabric of Iraqi society. A poorly formulated American Middle East foreign policy tilting toward the Zionist state has contributed to the rage and bloodshed in the region.
Meanwhile, the Arab Spring which promised salvation for the people failed to deliver. The total political and social paralysis ushered in extremist organizations like “Daish” or the so-called Islamic State. Led by shadowy people, their narrative has attracted the young from all over the world seeking an alternative to the present status quo.
Today we are left with many questions that need to be addressed with transparency. Is there a well-defined strategy to move us forward in this shifting unsteady global order? Do we have the statesmen capable of implementing societal reconstruction that can satisfy the needs and aspirations of the Arab people? Can we come up with better plans to stop terrorism which is an existential threat to our societies? Can the majority of Arabs who desire progress implement a middle path that is crucial to a prosperous future?
Bold answers to these questions will decide the future of the region and will determine if we are ever to see the light of peace and stability.
Khaled Almaeena is a veteran Saudi journalist, commentator, businessman and the editor-at-large of the Saudi Gazette. Almaeena has held a broad range of positions in Saudi media for over thirty years, including CEO of a PR firm, Saudi Television news anchor, talk show host, radio announcer, lecturer and journalist. As a journalist, Almaeena has represented Saudi media at Arab summits in Baghdad, Morocco and elsewhere. In 1990, he was one of four journalists to cover the historic resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Russia. He also traveled to China as part of this diplomatic mission. Almaeena's political and social columns appear regularly in Gulf News, Asharq al-Aswat, al-Eqtisadiah, Arab News, Times of Oman, Asian Age and the China Post.