x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

The rationalisation of political discourse

Extreme political discourse ignores people's interests while engaging youth in direct clashes with security forces, remarked Mansour al Jumari in an opinion piece for the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat.

Extreme political discourse ignores people's interests while engaging youth in direct clashes with security forces, remarked Mansour al Jumari in an opinion piece for the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat. Those who mobilise people are supposed to consider the general public's opinion before debating national issue to avoid potential tensions and attain effective political goals.

It is noticeable that a new generation of youth hold extreme views and look at politics from an absolutely negative perspective. For the most part, extreme politicians - of course aged and more mature - lure younger people to act on their behalf in "a game of authority and opposition". This creates a tense situation where mistrust prevails amid rejection of those who hold more moderate views. Such a situation does not encourage a healthy debate and misses an opportunity to act for the general interests of the community.

"Extreme political discourse produces a hardline form of rhetoric that is void of substance. Many young people, in the process, lose opportunities for growth; many, unfortunately, end up in jail. Many of those who manipulate them remain free and at large." Those who produce extreme discourse have a right to express themselves, but it is unacceptable that they undermine the views of others or cause them harm.

Bassam al Dhaw, in a comment piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan, shed light on the concept of pan-Arab security, saying it is an ambiguous concept. "At present, pan-Arab security has no definite meaning, and at best it is buzzword that hardly creates any impact on the public. This is because most people know that it is not truly translated on the ground."

Officials should abandon the use of it in respect of people's intelligence, because they know their governments are not actively engaged in such a process. Arab countries brandish this slogan and make people believe they are acting accordingly. What is more, those in power, themselves, do not agree on one political map defining who is friend and who is foe. Similarly, they are still far from being aware of all the challenges facing them as one Arab nation. When meeting in summits and other official meetings, Arab countries express the opposite of what they believe. And in final statements, they draft common security interests and goals, but they hardly come to bring into being those proclaimed joint efforts. "It is imperative to devise a strategic pan-Arab security plan. Unfortunately, the prevailing political situation forces each country to focus rather narrowly on national security bound to immediate concerns of the economy."

Since the emergence of satellite channels, the official media in the Arab world has faced new public demands triggered by a comparison between the content of the new platforms and the old bureaucratic outlets, observed Abdul Hameed Muslim al Majali in a comment piece for the Jordanian newspaper Al Rai.

Because of these demands, radio and television directors were changed ten times in Jordan. Each time, the new incumbent was welcomed and hope was high some change would come true, but no one was capable of meeting public aspirations. So was it a problem of people or a problem related to our high expectations? Some countries rushed to save their official media before the public deserted them in favour of foreign channels. Those who succeeded were able to answer a simple question: how to maintain the interests of local viewers? The vision is less than complex: focusing on local issues while giving more freedom in discussing them and enough financial support to produce quality material.

"In recent years, we have been inconsistent in our demands. We have asked media outlets to be informative, purely political and attractive, and at the same time from a local perspective." That is why we cannot blame those in charge of managing official media because they were not provided with the necessary tools to effect change. What is needed is time, strategy and resources.

"Even seven years after Saddam Hussein's regime was deposed, a discrimination policy continues among some political parties that seek to restore sectarianism in Iraq," noted the UAE newspaper Akhbar al Arab in its lead article. This came after a series of events. First, parties protested against the return of exiled former politicians. Second, the Accountability and Justice Authority Commission rejected the candidacy of 517 persons on grounds that they were promoting the Baathist ideology. Lastly, the Baghdad governor announced that a campaign would be launched to weed out former Baathists in all state departments.

What is risky in such a manoeuvre is the revival of sectarianism at the expense of nationalism, which will affect all attempts to consolidate the country's unity. A discrimination policy is likely to prompt anti-governent sentiments among a great portion of Iraqis that could in turn empower a front of "rebel forces". "So instead of excluding those forces, it would be better to involve them in a democratic process based on pluralism and alternation of power. In such a system, veterans, as well as exiled politicians, could come together in the spirit of democracy. They could work together to restore the unity of Iraq."

* Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae