My impression is that many Arabs today feel that what has been taking place in Iraq over the last two months is little short of a catastrophe. True, Saddam Hussein's regime was a despicable one in every way and it deserved to be removed. Also true is the sense of anger many feel at how outlandishly cruel and despotic that regime was, and how dreadful has been the suffering of Iraq's people. There seems little doubt that far too many other governments and individuals connived at keeping Saddam Hussein in power, looking the other way as they went about their business as usual. Nevertheless, the only thing that gave the US the license to bomb the country and destroy its government was neither a moral right nor a rational argument but rather sheer military power. Having for years supported Baathist Iraq and Saddam Hussein himself, the United States and Britain arrogated to themselves the right to negate their own complicity in his despotism, and then to state that they were liberating Iraq from his hated tyranny. And what now seems to be emerging in the country both during and after the illegal Anglo-American war against the people and civilization that is the essence of Iraq, represents a very grave threat to the Arab people as a whole.
It is therefore of the utmost importance that we recall in the first instance that, despite their many divisions and disputes, the Arabs are in fact a people not a collection of random countries passively available for outside intervention and rule. There is a clear line of imperial continuity that begins with Ottoman rule over the Arabs in the 16th century until our own time. After the Ottomans in World War One came the British and the French, and after them, in the period following World War Two, came America and Israel. One of the most insidiously influential strands of thought in recent American and Israeli Orientalism, and evident in American and Israeli policy since the late '40s, is a virulent, extremely deep-seated hostility to Arab nationalism and a political will to oppose and fight it in every possible way. The basic premise of Arab nationalism in the broad sense is that, with all their diversity and pluralism of substance and style, the people whose language and culture are Arab and Muslim (call them the Arab-speaking peoples, as Albert Hourani did in his last book) constitute a nation and not just a collection of states scattered between North Africa and the western boundaries of Iran. Any independent articulation of that premise was openly attacked, as in the 1956 Suez War, the French colonial war against Algeria, the Israeli wars of occupation and dispossession, and the campaign against Iraq, a war whose stated purpose was to topple a specific regime but whose real goal was the devastation of the most powerful Arab country. And just as the French, British, Israeli and American campaign against Abdel Nasser was designed to bring down a force that openly stated as its ambition the unification of the Arabs into a very powerful independent political force, the American goal today is to redraw the map of the Arab world to suit American, and not Arab, interests. US policy thrives on Arab fragmentation, collective inaction, and military and economic weakness.
One would have to be foolish to argue that the nationalism and doctrinaire separateness of individual Arab states, whether the state is Egypt, Syria, Kuwait or Jordan, is a better thing, a more useful political actuality than some scheme of inter-Arab cooperation in economic, political and cultural spheres. Certainly, I see no need for total integration, but any form of useful cooperation and planning would be better than the disgraceful summits that have disfigured our national life, say, during the Iraq crisis. Every Arab asks the question, as does every foreigner: why do the Arabs never pool their resources to fight for the causes which officially, at least, they claim to support, and which, in the case of the Palestinians, their people actively, indeed passionately believe in?
I will not spend time arguing that everything that has been done to promote Arab nationalism can be excused for its abuses, its short-sightedness, its wastefulness, repression and folly. The record is not a good one. But I do want to state categorically that, since the early 20th century, the Arabs have never been able to achieve their collective independence as a whole or in part exactly because of the designs on the strategic and cultural importance of their lands by outside powers. Today, no Arab state is free to dispose of its resources as its wishes, nor to take positions that represent that individual state's interests, especially if those interests seem to threaten US policies. In the more than 50 years since America assumed world dominance, and more so after the end of the Cold War, it has run its Middle Eastern policy based on two principles, and two principles alone: the defense of Israel and the free flow of Arab oil, both of which involved direct opposition to Arab nationalism. In all significant ways, with few exceptions, American policy has been contemptuous of and openly hostile to the aspirations of the Arab people, although with surprising success since Nasser's demise it has had few challengers among the Arab rulers who have gone along with everything required of them.
During periods of the most extreme pressure on one or other of them (e.g. the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, or the sanctions against Iraq that were designed to weaken the people and the state as a whole, the bombings of Libya and Sudan, the threats against Syria, the pressure on Saudi Arabia), the collective weakness has been little short of stunning. Neither their enormous collective economic power nor the will of their people has moved the Arab states to even the slightest gesture of defiance. The imperial policy of divide and rule has reigned supreme, since each government seems to fear the possibility that it might damage its bilateral relationship with America. That consideration has taken precedence over any contingency, no matter how urgent. Some countries rely on American economic aid, others on American military protection. All, however, have decided that they do not trust each other any more than they care strongly for the welfare of their own people (which is to say they care very little), preferring the hauteur and contempt of the Americans who have gotten progressively worse in their dealings with the Arab states as the only superpower's arrogance has developed over time. Indeed, it is remarkable that the Arab countries have fought each other far more readily than they have the real aggressors from the outside. Read More>>
The result today, after the invasion of Iraq, is an Arab nation that is badly demoralized, crushed and beaten down, less able to do anything except acquiesce in announced American plans to gesture and posture in all sorts of efforts to re-draw the Middle East map to suit American and obviously Israeli interests. Even that extraordinarily grandiose scheme has yet to receive the vaguest collective answer from the Arab states, who seem to be hanging around waiting for something new to happen as Bush, Rumsfeld, Powell and the others lurch from threat to plan to visit to snub to bombing to unilateral announcement. What makes the whole business especially galling is that whereas the Arabs have totally accepted the American (or Quartet) roadmap that seems to have emerged from George Bush's waking dream, the Israelis have coolly withheld any such acceptance. How does it feel for a Palestinian to watch a second-rank leader like Abu Mazen, who has always been Arafat's faithful subordinate, embrace Colin Powell and the Americans when it is clear to the youngest child that the road map is designed a) to stimulate a Palestinian civil war and b) to offer Palestinian compliance with Israelo-American demands for "reform" in return for nothing much at all. How much further do we sink?
And as for American plans in Iraq, it is now absolutely clear that what is going to happen is nothing less than an old-fashioned colonial occupation rather like Israel's since 1967. The idea of bringing in American-style democracy to Iraq means basically aligning the country with US policy, i.e. a peace treaty with Israel, oil markets for American profit, and civil order kept to a minimum that neither permits real opposition nor real institution building. Perhaps even the idea is to turn Iraq into civil war Lebanon. I am not certain. But take one small example of the kind of planning that is being undertaken. It was recently announced in the US press that a 32-year-old assistant professor of law, Noah Feldman, at New York University, would be responsible for producing a new Iraqi constitution. It was mentioned in all the media accounts of this major appointment that Feldman was an extraordinarily brilliant expert in Islamic law, had studied Arabic since he was 15, and grew up as an Orthodox Jew. But he has never practiced law in the Arab world, never been to Iraq, and seems to have no real practical background in the problems of post-war Iraq. What an open-faced snub not only to Iraq itself, but also to the legions of Arab and Muslim legal minds who could have done a perfectly acceptable job in the service of Iraq's future. But no, America wants it done by a fresh young fellow, so as to be able to say, "we have given Iraq its new democracy." The contempt is thick enough to cut with a knife.
The seeming powerlessness of the Arabs in the face of all this is what is so discouraging, and not only because no real effort has been expended on fashioning a collective response to it. To someone who reflects on the situation from the outside as I do, I find it amazing that in this moment of crisis, there has been no evidence of any sort of appeal from the rulers to their people for support in what needs to be seen as a collective national threat. American military planners have made no secret of the fact that what they plan is radical change for the Arab world, a change that they can impose by force of arms and because there is little that opposes them. Moreover, the idea behind the effort seems to be nothing less than destroying the underlying unity of the Arab people once and for all, changing the bases of their lives and aspirations irremediably.
To such a display of power I would have thought that an unprecedented alliance between Arab rulers and people represented the only possible deterrence. But that, clearly, would require an undertaking by every Arab government to open its society to its people, bring them in so to speak, remove all the repressive security measures in order to provide an organized opposition to the new imperialism. A people coerced into war, or a people silenced and repressed will never rise to such an occasion. What we must have are Arab societies released finally from their self-imposed state of siege between ruler and ruled. Why not instead welcome democracy in the defense of freedom and self-determination? Why not say, we want each and every citizen willing to be mobilized in a common front against a common enemy? We need every intellectual and every political force to pull together with us against the imperial scheme to re-design our lives without our consent. Why must resistance be left to extremism and desperate suicide bombers?
As a digression, I might mention here that when I read last year's United Nations Human Development Report on the Arab World, I was struck by how little appreciation there was in it for imperialist intervention in the Arab world, and how deep and long-standing its effect has been. I certainly don't think that all our problems come from the outside, but I wouldn't want to say that all our problems were of our own making. Historical context and the problems of political fragmentation play a very great role, which the Report itself pays little attention to. The absence of democracy is partially the result of alliances made between Western powers on the one hand, and minority ruling regimes or parties on the other, not because the Arabs have no interest in democracy but because democracy has been seen as a threat by several actors in the drama. Besides, why adopt the American formula for democracy (usually a euphemism for the free market and little attention paid to human entitlement and social services) as the only one? This is a subject that needs considerably more debate than I have time for here. So let me return to my main point.
Consider how much more effective today the Palestinian position might have been under the US-Israeli onslaught had there been a common show of unity instead of an unseemly scramble for positions on the delegation to see Colin Powell. I have not understood over the years why it is that Palestinian leaders have been unable to develop a common unified strategy for opposing the occupation and not getting diverted into one or another Mitchell, Tenet, or Quartet plan. Why not say to all Palestinians, we face one enemy whose design on our lands and lives is well-known and must be fought by us all together? The root problem everywhere, and not just in Palestine, is the fundamental rift between ruler and ruled that is one of the distorted offshoots of imperialism, this basic fear of democratic participation, as if too much freedom might lose the governing colonial elite some favor with the imperial authority. The result, of course, is not only the absence of real mobilization of everyone in the common struggle, but the perpetuation of fragmentation and petty factionalism. As things now stand, there are too many uninvolved, non-participating Arab citizens in the world today.
Whether they want to or not, the Arab people today face a wholesale attack on their future by an imperial power, America, that acts in concert with Israel, to pacify, subdue, and finally reduce us to a bunch of warring fiefdoms whose first loyalty is not to their people but to the great superpower (and its local surrogate) itself. Not to understand that this is the conflict that will shape our area for decades to come is willingly to blind oneself. What is now needed is a breaking of the iron bands that tie Arab societies into sullen knots of disaffected people, insecure leaders, and alienated intellectuals. This is an unprecedented crisis. Unprecedented means are therefore required to confront it. The first step then is to realize the scope of the problem, and then go on to overcome what reduces us to helpless rage and marginalized reaction, a condition by no means to be accepted willingly. The alternative to such an unattractive condition promises a great deal more hope.
My hope is that such a debate can emerge, for the sake of the long suffering men, women and children of the Arab world, whose plight is simply to have been born in the 'wrong' place at the 'wrong' time. May God have mercy on them.
I heard lot of people saying "ARABS AND MUSLIM...". I really dont understand what it means? Does it means ARABS are superior?.
Arabs, change your attitudes. Bring all muslims under one banner. Try to respect non-arab muslims. This will solve most of the problems. Next try to be united. Arab rulers are the most corrupted rulers in the world.
His belief is that an Islamic Union (a central authority like the Pope for the Roman Catholics) would help to unite the Arab people and variations of Muslim faiths under one leader for many reasons. Those reasons include opening & maintaining dialogues, supporting human rights, free enterprise, peaceful resolution of problems, respecting & protecting other religions, and conflict management all handled with a "firm foundation in basic Islamic values and principles", to quote him.
Creating a strong Islamic Union may create a bridge to resolve differences. I believe his idea is workable and may go a long way in enabling a better understanding between the Islamic world's countries and Western countries like my own.
I find his web site entirely fascinating and have learned so much about Islam there. Being a Christian, I have found his site to be both full of valuable history and clarity regarding Islam. For those who are interested, the web site is http://www.hyahya.org/50islamic_union.php
My apologies to the writer of this article--I did not mean to sound like an advertisement but wanted only to share a web site that not only gives hope to me but may to Arab people and those of the Islamic faith also.
Thank you for listening.
The only thing that Arabs ever had was when they were united by Islam. Before that they were nothing and now they are nothing after foresaking Islam. And they will never amount to anything until they go back to Islam. The true Islam. Not the one they are trying to fabricate. i.e. Saudi Arabia.
Here is what the great Khalifa Omar bin Khattab after the Muslims (Arabs at that time) conquered Syria said about Muslims in general, but more to the Arabs:
Taria bin Shahab narrated that on his way to Syria, a miry track crossed Omar's path, so he came down from his camel, took off his shoes and walked through the track. Abu Ubaidah who traveled with him said "Today you have done something that is most outrageous in the eyes of the people of the world!" Omar shook inside and said "Oh! I wish someone else had said that O Abu Ubaidah! You were the most undignified people on earth and Allah has honored you with Islam and our beloved Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. From now on, whenever you seek honor in anything else, Allah will humiliate you."
Ponder on those words. After abandoning Islam who are the Arabs seeking honor from? America? Britain? And who is humiliating them???
I consider the Arab leaders amongst the worst human beings on the planet. Look for any human virtues such as courage, honesty, integrity, sleflessness, concern for their own people,..the Arab leaders are conspicuous of its absence.
I have no hope for anything positive coming out of Arab leaders. I think, ordinary Arabs should start economic boycott of American and British products in totality; start organizations that initiate buliding transactions between themselves. They sould start looking for alternatives, even if it means sacrificing personal comforts. None of the great civilizations were built without blood, sweat and tears. Middle eastern Arabs ensconced in the comforts of their homes are unable to give it up. Wasn't the life of Prophet Muhammed, and his immediate successors a guiding light in this regard? Yet how many of you Arabs would be willing to follow that as an example, not just in words and speaches but in action? Speak of Hypocrisy, I see that flagrant among Arabs.
Ordinary Arab citizens who read articles such as these should make their fellow citizens aware of it. Encourage each other to live on minimal necessities for life, build human character as taught by Islamic teachings, give up the petty jurisprudential differences and instead focus on human character and helping others.. and you will find dignity and honor returning to you gradually, may be in a few generations.
Thanks again to Dr. Said for this article.
May God bless you all.
This article is very simple and at the same time thoughtprovoking in its language. MOst importantly,the chancesthat this article will be read on the internet may be high but what is the reach to the common man.How do we do that. Nowadays we are forced to listen certain Friday Sermons which are indifferent and ineffective by any standards. Why cant we make our ulemas and moulvis to present these kind of lectures on the Fridays which will reach to many. May be I am sounding a little too ambitiious but I am really concerned about this.Any support if you may consider valuable from me with this regard please keep posted.
Your article is very well 'said.' Well done!
Very good artictle. Please keep producing articles of this type. If a team of intellectuals get together and discuss issues with high officials of Arab States to find a common ground for unity. STRESS - PUT THE DIFFERENCES ASIDE.
You are absolutely correct in saying that " All Arab States should unit, form a mutual unerstanding, form a commond solid bond, share economic, financial, trade, education and intelligence facilities among one another.
They have to do it very quickly otherwise they will not be there and they will be responsible of catastrophic situation of Arab population.
Like you have mentioned, Arab governments were literally in dormant states at the time of Iraq crises. Some governments did not allow the peaceful demonstration.
Islamicity, please use your media to educate the Arab population.
No peace plan or roadmap will ever secure peace until or unless the Palestinians are willing to give up the so-called "right of return" and accept that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish nation.
The Palestinians do not have the power to force Israel into the sea. They should realize that, and cease the slaughter of innocent settlers. when Christ comes again, all murderers will be thrown into the "lake of fire which burneth forever and ever."
I truly admire you and your talents. I have attended one of your speeches in Berkeley in California. I also admire your outspokenness. Here is what I personally think:
The Arab situation of today is almost beyond repair because the problem goes very deep into the fabric of the Arabs' culture, their religion which many have hijacked, and the way in which they choose to educate or not educate themselves. Generally, the way I discern the Arabs is that they are a people who are stained with the heaviest doses of ideological poison. Now, if they do not toss their old ways of thinking which have brought so much disaster to them and which have assisted others in wreaking havoc on them, then I do not know what the solution is. The root of the problem stems from people's psyche. In other words, they are all divided and they know it, and yet no one cares to self-criticize and take action to remedy the situation. People in the West live and think differently. Most of them assume their responsibilities individually. Their political systems have taught them how to be accountable in every step of the way. You can always downplay their accomplishments, but again you and I will never finish discussing this subject matter. They have worked hard to attain the level of order and advancement which they are enjoying. Since when has anyone brought you a silver platter of civil order, justice, democracy or...? Besides, no one blames the other for his/her mistake. Arabs keep blaming "the other" for whatever anathema has befallen them. I know that the human spirit cannot not and will never be broken if the people genuinely pool their efforts (spiritual, material, physical, etc.) and work for a common goal whatever that goal is. People! It is time Arabs have woken up to the fact that relying entirely on God or the other is a fruitless endeavor which will always live in infamy.
The comments are of an Arab American who whole-heartedly cares.
Well.. once you've touched the bottom, the only way left is to go up.. The Muslims only got what they deserved.
Just look at this link, it's about the conquest of space in the Qur'an.. and indeed as the Qur'an insinuates: ..the event will however be seen by others..
If I recall my memory it wasn't the Muslims who were the first to go into space.. even now they aren't there(..)
I believe the problem with the Arab world today lies in its governments. They are very two faced. What do I mean by that? The Arab governments, mainly Saudi Arabia, say one thing to its people and say a totally diffrent thing to America.
These governments are fighting for survival. Not from America, not from Israel but their own people.
Not one, not even one, Arab country condems Israel on its actions to the Palestines. Not by words but by actions (actions speak louder than words).
When the Israelies conduct their daily incursions into Palestine, who is it the Arab world calls on to control them, the Americans. Does anyone but me see the stupidity and weakness in this?
The Hadith from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) says: "When you see an evil action take place, correct it, first with your hands, if not that, then with your mouth, and if not that, then hate it in your heart, and that is the weakest of faith."
Muslims, not just Arabs, have to unite. We the common Muslims have to stand toe to toe (as we do in Salat) to fight against this current war on Islam. Where if you touch or harm one of us, we ALL will react.
Let's be honest the current Arab Governments have failed the Muslim world. Greed and Power have become their friends (also friends of the Hell fire).
Any Muslim who reads the Qur'an knows that democracy is not the answer. Nor is the current King or Prince governments of today.
The true answer lies in an Islamic State. Because in a democracy there is separation of church and state. In an Islamic State there is no separation. Our religion is what we are. In all things that we do, political or social.
is to unite. Have a common course. Set your people
free. Spread your wealth among those arab nations who have nothing and gain their friendship. Establish a common course.
The alternative is to loose everything.