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Islam and Politics ( 12 Jun 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Militarism in Arab World


By Naveed Qazi

JUN 12, 2014

Three military generals will rule Lebanon, Egypt and Libya – General Khalifa Haftar in Libya, General Jean Qahwaji in Lebanon and Marshal Abdul Fatah Al Sissi in Egypt. The latter two will have a crack at power respectively in the coming time.

Puppet monarchs are viewed as kleptocrats and “divide and rule policy” has paved the way for a prospective war. While most of the Arabs recognise military rulers as charismatic with bold relationships in the public life, it will be very important to reflect on the new developments taking place in the years to come, in the Middle East region because hard-line groups and organizations are still in operation.

Politically, it will be very important because it will set new manoeuvres which may present stability in the region – the role of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the political strategy of Israel will continue to enhance diplomatic interests in these three regions.

When we retrospect, the coups in Egypt were started in Abdul Nasser’s reign. Gaddafi in Libya overthrew King Idris. Ali Abdullah Saleh petrified the tribes of Yemen which actually resulted in a political conundrum, similar to actions done by Houari Boumedienne in Algeria and Al Assad in Syria that turned these leaders against their own people.

History has not been kind to these developments, which has actually paved a way for some social democracy, where people would feel content in a society in which they live.

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has out-rightly rejected the election. The voter turnout has already been low. The movement, which is loyal to Mursi, is not happy with the army takeover. In Lebanon, only registered voters have been allowed to vote.

The country has witnessed an amazing turnout by Syrian refugees and residents, celebrating their embattled president. The reigning Libyan general wants dilution of the Islamist movement in Libya and wants the country to concentrate on economic reforms that will actually make the way for a democratic election in the future.

When we align the minorities living in the region to these new political developments, military rule would be preferred to minority communities like Christians, who do not enjoy full political and legal rights in the region. Attacks against them often go unreported. ‘The Dhimmi Pact’ which was drafted by radical Muslims of Greater Syria and Iraq won’t be considered, if military rule will come. This may come as good news to Coptic Christians living in the region.

There needs to be accountability and reform agenda in the Arab region directed by these leaders because civil unrest has already damaged the social fabric. Tough measures are needed to restore the economic growth, which would ease poverty and unemployment and end costly energy subsidies.

The other important notion is the identification of dissenters – the left liberals who are active and were particularly stronger in the 1950′s. Things like emergency power, the unquestioning obedience of military in civil rule that go above government policies don’t go well with the liberals.

What actually kick-started these revolutions in the name of social change was the lack of freedom in the countries. There is also lack of knowledge about the actual role of democracy in the society in these nation states. There are not many leaders in the region who buy the idea of a self sufficient country, not being dictated by outside politics. When we ponder on current developments, one of the fiercest crackdowns have happened, security forces have killed hundreds in the streets and arrested thousands of others, drawing widespread condemnation from human rights groups. Many watchers are seriously questioning the actions of previous regimes.

Authoritarianism has been the main form of government in the Arab nation states for a while now. After these unrests, the leaders should identify the political agenda fruitful for the region that will actually pave a way for a sustainable future. Maybe people in Arab lands, due to their patriotic interests, are looking for an organised and stable life in the name of military dictatorship. Maybe, some kind of goodwill left for military will bring optimism? Is stability more important than the tenets of democracy? Only time will tell.

Naveed Qazi works for a construction firm in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.