x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

A lack of cultural awareness is detrimental in ongoing Arab Springs

A lack of cultural awareness continues to be detrimental to the ongoing Arab uprisings, an Arabic language columinist opines. Other topics in today's roundup: Egypt's gas decision and Syria's continuing crisis.

A lack of cultural awareness continues to be detrimental to the ongoing Arab uprisings

Major social transformations do not occur out of the blue. This is self-evident. Revolutionary change is the outcome of an accumulation and interaction that force their way through.

Most often, the moment of change is preceded by a massive hue and cry, intellectual and philosophical transition, and different political paradigms that act as a harbinger to the upcoming change. All great historical revolutions are testament to this.

But the question now is why this evident notion does not go for the Arab revolutions as well? That was the question Dr Yousif Makki posed in an opinion piece for the UAE-based newspaper Al Khaleej.

Why is this incubation stage that every European nation experienced prior to the revolution missing from the Arab Spring?

It is true that the Arab popular movement has brought out a new historic stage marked by the toppling of rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, after over seven decades of suppression, since the end of the colonial period.

Major political breakthroughs have been achieved in the those countries, the consequences of which are still up and running, but the bottom-line is that regressive figures have taken the lead in most countries, thus adding to the lack of a political platform, and a lack of a modernist trait to the change, the Saudi writer observed.

Is this absence a pure coincidence? Is it the cunning of history? Or is it the lack of intellectual and political paradigms?

The Arab nations went through a period of enlightenment back in the second half of 19th century, but the response was lukewarm to a dramatic change in European nations, from which we have derived principles of liberty, justice, fraternity, and equality.

This was genuinely expressed in the Sheikh Muhammed Abdu's famous quote, "I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims, and here back home I see Islam but no Muslims."

The enlightenment thoughts were not domesticated into the Arab environment. This was one major ramification of a lack of Arab social structures, a deterioration of local capitalist class, and an absence of the middle class due the sweeping rise of imperial economy that was strong enough to destroy the Mediterranean industries.

The ensuing result is devastating successive setbacks, notably failures of Egypt's 1919 revolution, of the 1920 Revolt in Iraq, of the 1936 revolt in Palestine, the Western colonisation of a number of Arab nations, and the establishment of Israel.

Only businessmen and dignitaries remained in the Arab arena and all acted, albeit adopting European ideas in public, as inheritors of local traditional culture, living in such a "chronic schizophrenia: unable to break with the past and no decisive stand on modernity either."

Egyptians reclaim what is rightfully theirs

Only a few hours after news of the Egyptian authorities' decision to halt gas exports to Israel was released, a minister stated that the government isn't party to this issue, which is nothing more than a commercial conflict between two trade partners and doesn't hold any political connotations.

"The retraction caused frustration throughout Egypt," said the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi in its editorial on Thursday. "For a long time, the Egyptian public had been wishing to halt the gas exports to Israel and to revoke the Camp David accords which led to having an Israeli embassy in the heart of Cairo."

To downplay the political aspect of this most crucial development is wrong. SACF wanted their brave decision to be a clear message to the Israelis that Egypt has indeed changed, and that gone is the time when natural gas will be sold at ridiculously low prices.

"The gas agreements between Egypt and Israel were the most blatant symbol of corruption in the former regime's era. The Egyptians don't have a surplus of gas that could be exported to Israel at low prices. In fact, they are suffering from a real gas crisis while the Israelis enjoy the gas that is rightfully Egypt's for various uses," added the paper.

It will be a long time before Egyptian gas is once again pumped into Israel. What is important for now is that the corruption pyramid has been finally brought down in Egypt.


Annan hints at military intervention in Syria

Former UN secretary General, Kofi Annan, stated that the situation in Syria is unacceptable and that the Syrian regime has not pulled out heavy weaponry from the embattled cities. But the international observers are teetering on the edge of failure, wrote Rajeh Al Khouri in the Lebanese newspaper Annahar.

Mr Annan hinted at military involvement when he said in a speech at Lund University that the world should be ready for military intervention when civilians are not spared from crimes.

"The warning tone was clear in Annan's statement, and can be seen as a first indirect warning to the Syrian regime, especially that the death toll in Syria has risen to 685 since the assignment of the international mission," he noted.

"All indications suggest that the monitors' mission would fail before all 300 of them had set foot in Syria. As long as they move only on the track that the regime ... is deciding for them, they will only see and hear what the regime wants them to see and hear. Death shall be inflicted upon those who speak about the its cruelty… But the biggest death here is seeing the Security Council and the world as they sit on their hands watching Syria sliding into the horrors of a civil war," the author concluded.



* Digest compiled by Abdelhafid Ezzouitni