By Mahboob A. Khawaja
05 February, 2013
Leaders lead but not the Arab rulers of the 21st century - the oil-pumping self- enriched tribal clan based wanderers supported by their ex-colonial European masters and now the new American Empire in its infancy. These rulers claim American friendship but reality speaks a different language of the facts of life. They are all interdependent for their security and survival on their foreign Master. Islam focused on societal change and development for people’s participatory institution-building and system of governance and ensured law and justice to all. But the ignorant rulers denied to masses what was their by faith and history. Masses across the Arabian Peninsula are up in arms against the continued political exploitation and bloody authoritarianism. Arab people and Arab rulers breathe and live in conflicting time zones and their mutually complemented hatred and fear keeps them apart, being unable to find a suitable meeting ground of minds and aspirations. In return for the uninterrupted oil supplies, American and European masters equip the one-track thinking Arab rulers with trained armies, weapons and strategies to control the masses with harsh and unthinkable brutalities. Saddam, Ghaddafi, Ben Ali and Bashar al-Assad are no exception but the stooges of the same foreign politics. Almost all of the authoritarian rulers enjoin institutionalized secret police state systems organized and operated by the Western political democracies. Change has become most undesirable and contested paradigm in the Arab Middle East affairs. People dream of it and pursue it but the rulers oppose it and gun down the activists in cold blooded massacres. The global news media depicts the horrifying daily scenes across Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and more to come in other parts of the Arabian states. Time is not on the side of the Arab rulers; sooner or later they would leave the splendid palaces and rush to take asylums in secretly built castles across Western Europe and America. The Arab masses want political change and a system of people governance to reclaim human rights and dignity guaranteed by Islam and its political values.
More than a half of a century earlier, when the European imperialism ended on paper, the freedom movements ill conceived the continued role of neo-colonial leadership in Muslim societies mostly occupied by those who were uneducated feudal lords or tribal clan leaders seen as being ignorant, corrupt, and subservient to the neo-colonial master, not the much sought proactive leaders to make the future.
One wonders, if it is an accumulated disgust or considered failure of the contemporary Arab leadership? Generation after generations, Muslims have been defeated and submerged into other entities by the Western masters. So-called liberal democracy had no listing of Muslims as suitable creatures for progressive role-play in international community. Humanity in the West shrinked from intelligence to stupidity, whereas, Charles Darwin (Origin of the Species), was uplifted and honoured, man (“insaan”) was degraded from all the possible entries of making the human civilization. Whereas, Islam focused on the man (“insaan”) as the primary object of change and progressive development. Alexis Carrel (Man the Unknown, 1936), appears to affirm the Islamic perspective on human development:
“Certain forms of modern life lead directly to degeneration….in the poor as well the rich, leisure engenders degeneration. Cinemas, concerts, radios, automobiles and athletics are no substitute for intelligent work. We are far from having solved this momentous problem of idleness created by prosperity, modern machinery or unemployment. By imposing leisure upon man, scientific civilization has brought him great misfortune. We are incapable of fighting the consequences of indolence and irresponsibility as cancer and mental diseases……after all the purpose of civilization is not the progress of science and machines, but the progress of man.”
Despite their numbers and countless resources, what have the contemporary Arab leaders done for the interests of the Arab masses and Muslim Ummah? Opportunism is the hallmark of the 21st century smart moderate Muslims capable of consuming bread and butter without much effort. Building palaces on moving sand does not facilitate human progress. The Western strategists created an innovative time capsule to entrap the oil producing Arab leaders into the fantasy of a honeymoon bubble manufacturing an illusion of oil- linked economic prosperity. Its cultural impacts both short and long terms are shockingly unknown to the Arab captives replacing Islamic thinking, education, Arabic language and moulding the Arab body and soul into a show piece of modern Arabs devoid of Islamic character and wisdom. But essentially imposing the non-Islamic thinking and values on the Arabian culture. The fantasy bubble is fast coming to an end with the peak oil forecasts as a near future reality. Power, prosperity and poverty are all trials in human affairs and transitory phenomenon. Was the discovery of oil a conspiracy (“Fitna”) for the Arabs to change the originality of thinking, beliefs, values and passion for Islam as successful system of human life?
The world is changing but not fast enough for the authoritarian Arab rulers - fattish fed by the oil revenues and stupid and mindless in thoughts and behaviours if you view them in the real world of political actions and prevalent deplorable atrocities imposed on the Arab people. The affluent and oil enriched indulged in conspiracy to assume power and institutionalize corruption simply to maintain few tribal powerhouses favoured by the ex-colonial masters managing the power centres from distance. Now, the Arab people have awakened after long slumber of complacency and disorder. The problem was well defined by Shakespeare “the destiny of peoples coincided with the destiny of their monarch and nobles.” The knowledge-based, information age has dismantled some of the illusory borders and demarcation of nobilities and has challenged to bridge the conflicting time zones between the palaces and the people with the internet, cell phones, Facebook, twitter and instant communication technologies.
It is clear that undeserving oil wealth and illegitimate power associated with their governance have removed sense of fear and shame to the extent that over several decades of cruelty has embolden the Arab rulers to commit any crimes, bloodbaths and rob the people of their originality of thinking, values and culture. Would the future generations free of the secular captivity hold these monsters accountable for their vicious crimes and political cruelty? The Western news media reports more than sixty thousand civilians having been gunned down in cold blood murdered in various parts of Syria in the past two years. Millions have become homeless and refugees in their own backyard. Million or so fled to other neighbouring Arab societies. Do any of the Arab leaders realize the plights, pains and sufferings of these innocent people? If not, why not? Do Arab leaders have no intellect and institutions to deal with problem solving? Are they that impotent to rely on the Western Master for all their political needs? Some of the Western leaders including the US are asking Bashar al-Assad to step down but not to other authoritarian Arab rulers, subservient to the US and its European allies. Have the egoistic rulers misread the dictates of history? Could they be thoughtful of their own future - how would they end-up - most likely sooner than later? Have the Arab rulers solved any of the important problems confronting the Arab masses over half of a century?
The Arab people’s revolutionary movements for change and freedom appear effective and their success is visible on the horizon but the authoritarian rulers and their history makes no sense on any rational criterion of analysis and objective assessment. How should history see them in a broader global context? What kind of picture do these leaders paint about the nature, moral and historical values of the Islamic-Arab societies? Would they all be tried in public courts of law? Would they run away with accumulated wealth and hide in secret palaces somewhere under the protection of the US, Britain or others? How would they compensate the innocent people targeted by their guns and bullets? How would they return the time, opportunities and wealth stolen from the people and hopes for a value-oriented Islamic culture and promising future to co-exist in a global community?
George BN Ayittey (“The Worst of the Worst - Bad dude dictators and general coconut heads” Foreign Policy: July-August 2010) offers the following characterization and context of the authoritarian rulers as it happens in Syria and soon other Arab states to be engulfed with:
“The cost of all that despotism has been stultifying. Millions of lives have been lost, economies have collapsed, and whole states have failed under brutal repression. And what has made it worse is that the world is in denial. The end of the Cold War was also supposed to be the "End of History" -- when democracy swept the world and repression went the way of the dinosaurs…….I call these revolutionaries-turned-tyrants "crocodile liberators," joining the ranks of other fine specimens ….the quack revolutionaries who betray the ideals that brought them to power, and the briefcase bandits who simply pillage and steal. Here's my list of the world's worst dictators. I have ranked them based on ignoble qualities of perfidy, cultural betrayal, and economic devastation. If this account of their evils makes you cringe, just imagine living under their rule.”
After the Palestinian refugees, why are there millions of more Arab refugees in their homes? Who will deal with the pressing problems of life and deaths facing the Arab masses? Who will deal with restoration of peace, normalcy and conflict management? Do these leaders have any moral and intellectual capacity to extend security and sense of protection to the helpless people? Rationality is replaced by insanity. The coward and sadistic Arab rulers preoccupied with their greed and need are crossing the limits of the Laws of the Nature in killing the innocent masses just because they demands rights, human dignity and a voice to reason the unreason. Time and history are not on the side of the besieged rulers doomed to be crushed by the power of REASON and political imagination of the people. As it stands now, Arab leaders have no other thought and priority except to count the dead bodies - soon they will be part of the dead statistic available to global observers and historians.
Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations