The Arab League: "Irrelevant" to Arabs and America

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UN Observer and International Report

The late Professor Edward Said, in a critique of Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations, wrote that such a clash should be more aptly named “Clash of Ignorance”. In today’s world Jews, Christians and Muslims are sadly uninformed and ignorant of their own faith and with tragic consequences are ignorant of each other’s faith. This despite their common lineage from Abraham (pbuh) and prior to him, from Adam and Eve. Such pandemic ignorance arises from fear of the “other”. Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (RA) captured the essence of this fragility of human nature when he said: “We fear what we don’t know.” Thus the cure for this “fear” is to “know” one another as Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” (Qur’an: 49:13)

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) reinforced the Islamic value of knowledge over ignorance when he said:

“There is no poverty worse than ignorance, and no wealth more useful than reason”

BUT, human nature has been a constant throughout history and geography in its weakness, arrogance and greed for worldly possessions rather than for benefit to humankind. History has been a struggle between the conscience of “me” versus the conscience of “we”.

“The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do."

Samuel P. Huntington,
author of “Clash of Civilizations”

WESTERN LIES – BLOODIED MUSLIMS

“To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these things they misname empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.”

–Calgacus

Up until and including World War II, Europe had been the bloodiest continent in history, filled with territorial and religious conflicts that sacrificed millions of innocent lives. Post W.W. II, two superpower empires emerged, the Soviet Union and the United States, who competed on the world stage for client states and wealth. Their conflicts usually involved dictatorial proxy states fighting each other or engulfed in civil wars, thereby ensuring perpetual weakness and subservience. In contrast to such historical empires, the Islamic empire had been the least violent, most peaceful and most intellectually advancing empire, until its fall under the weight of its own corruption, as well as foreign invasions.

Europe’s colonialism in the Middle East began with Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt at the end of the Eighteenth Century. Europe’s remaining powers followed suit with their own colonial occupation of Arab land to ensure wealth and safe passages of shipping lanes. Hence the carving of the Arab world that manifested in such treaties as the “Sykes-Picot” Agreement of 1916, the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the Baghdad Pact, etc.

“Money, not morality, is the principle commerce of civilized nations.”

–Thomas Jefferson

The first Persian Gulf War, 1991, was launched by America and its “Coalition of the Willing” Arab States to evict Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. Even then, Bush Sr. manipulated the world’s emotions with the lie of Iraqi soldiers throwing Kuwaiti babies out of incubators to steal the incubators. Such a lie was concocted by Hill and Knowlton, a public relations firm in Washington D.C., and tearfully acted out in front of Congress by the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States masquerading as a Kuwaiti hospital employee and eyewitness to such a horror.

Leaving Saddam Hussein in power in 1991 was deemed a failure by Christian Fundamentalists and Pro-Israeli forces who became known as the New Conservatives or the “Neo-Cons”. (1) The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, the historical humiliation of the U.S. in Vietnam, Israel’s strategic interests, and the complete assurance of energy sources for a hungry oil consuming America laid the groundwork for a “Neo-CON” strategy. The strategy was to remake America into the sole world hyper-power with overwhelming military and technological superiority, the establishment of military bases in strategic areas around the world, including the Persian Gulf region, dominance in space and the removal of Saddam Hussein as a “pre-emptive” lesson for Arab and Muslim leaders. Many of the Neo-cons currently hold top level positions in the Bush Administration. Their campaign to attack Iraq began in 1990 when the U.S. Representative Stephen J. Solarz (D-NY) formed the “Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf”. In 1990 the Los Angeles Times reporter David Lauter described this Committee as: “The organization, primarily Democrats, is headed by Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.) and made up largely of longtime political supporters of Israel.” (David Lauter, ‘White House Lobbies for Force Option’, Los Angeles Times, 11 December 1990). (2)

9/11 was the “catalyst” the Neo-Cons needed to implement their strategy. Their well placed appointments in the Pentagon, the State Department and the National Security Council, along with a compliant drum beating media, ensured the fall of Saddam Hussein. According to CBS News, (3) barely five hours after the terrorist attack on the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, was telling his aides to come up with plans to strike Iraq, although the Intelligence he received pointed to Al-Qaeda.

“For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction because it was the one reason everyone could agree on."

–Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense,
and the Intellect of the “Neo-CONS.” May 28, 2003

Bush deceived the nation for a full year, claiming that he has no intention of invading Iraq and wants to explore all diplomatic avenues to avoid a war, but Time magazine in March 2002 reported that Bush already made up his mind to topple Saddam Hussein – a full year before the invasion – when it quotes Bush telling three U.S. Senators in the White House, “F–k Saddam, we’re taking him out.” (4) Two former top level Bush officials, Paul O’Neill, former Treasury Secretary, and Richard Clarke, former Counterterrorism Czar for Clinton and Bush, have publicly stated that immediately after 9/11 Bush was intent on invading Iraq, despite being told Iraq was not involved in the terrorist attack.

Opposing Bush’s unjustified war became unpatriotic and hazardous to one’s life, health and prosperity. Objectors to the war were harassed, fired from their jobs, profiled, spied on, blacklisted at airports and attacked by media pundits as un-American. Even “french fries” didn’t survive the hostility given France’s opposition to the war; they were renamed “freedom fries”.

Ironically Bush the “war president” was reported as feeling despondent over the death of his dog “Spot” while inexplicably neglecting and ignoring the body bags coming home without any media coverage; nor did he honor the fallen soldiers by attending one single funeral. The “Compassionate Conservative” president had no compassion toward the dead soldiers he sent to die, based on lies and fear mongering.

“War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.”

– John F. Kennedy

Bush’s success in lying to the nation and the world about the “imminent threat” and “mushroom clouds” of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction depended on manipulating the greatest invention of the twentieth century –” Advertising – the modern weapon of “thought” control, ever inflicted on an uninformed and self-absorbed American populace (and world). From egregious well documented lies, to a cowboy mentality that made Truth, Justice, International Law and the United Nations “irrelevant” and subservient to the “American Way”. The role of the media in military expansionism is best documented in the Spanish-American War with the slogan “Remember the Maine”, an American ship sunk in Cuba’s harbor under mysterious circumstances, whereby the media baron of the time, William Hearst told his reporters in Cuba, “You supply the pictures, I’ll supply the war.”

“Thinking about the universe has now been handed over to specialists. The rest of us merely read about it.”

–Mason Cooley

On March 20, 2003, Bush, Blair, and Aznar launched their illegal “preemptive” attack on Iraq under false pretenses, as David Kay, head of the U.S. Inspection team in Iraq stated, “we were all wrong” on the issue of weapons of mass destruction. With no such weapons found, Bush settled on the new justification, that of freeing the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator and jump starting a “democratization” process for the “Greater Middle East.” While the world’s attention has been on Iraq, the rest of humanity keeps dying from wars, oppression, hunger, disease, shortage of water and health care, and AIDS. The powerful West only “democratizes” nations with resources to offer under the benign humanitarian colonialism manifested in Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden” and what Jerry Falwell, a prominent Christian Evangelist, calls Christianity’s “God of War”.

Opposition to Iraq’s War and Israeli occupation emerged in the West itself, not in the Arab or Muslim world. The courageous dignified Spaniards used the ballot box to oust Aznar. Two more ballot boxes will have their say soon for Bush and Blair.

From the Crusades, to Europe’s colonialism, to America’s “Manifest Destiny”, to Nazis and Zionists, to Arab dictators, lies and oppression have been the “weapons of mass deception.”

The new Descartes motto for the western mind is: “I don’t think, therefore I am civilized.”

“Why of course the people don’t want war … But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship …Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."

Hermann Goering, Nazi leader, at the
Nuremberg Trials after World War II

SUPREME CHUTZPAH…

"I think all foreigners should stop interfering
in the internal affairs of Iraq."

Paul Wolfowitz, July 21, 2003 (Reuters)

For decades, U.S. policy in the Middle East has been driven by three main principles: energy security, Israeli security, and stability provided by friendly autocratic regimes. Afghanistan’s access to the oil and gas rich Caspian Sea and Iraq’s enormous oil reserves ensures America’s love affair with cheap gas and gas guzzling S.U.V.’s. America’s national interests, like all industrialized nations, boils down to maintaining an all consuming and affordable life style that consumes a quarter of the world’s energy by five percent of the world population.

To ensure such a lifestyle, both the Republican and Democratic parties adopted a Post-W.W.II policy of imposing their military and technological superiority upon the poor yet resource rich third world nations. In emerging from its self imposed isolationism after W.W. II, the U.S. adopted George Kennan’s policy of containment of the Soviet Union, under the guise of protecting democracy and freedom, by establishing military bases around the third world.

Since it’s very founding, America has internalized a sense of supreme righteousness, valuing democracy and freedom “for all” while in reality and practice its history has been a journey of disconnect from such laudable values. America’s public proclamations are in total opposition to its private machinations – what the late Senator William Fulbright in 1966 called “The Two Faces of America.” Capitalism, not morality, is the guiding principle of America; yet the Arab Leaders gullibility in supporting, for self preservation, America’s good intentions in the “Greater Middle East” initiative and democratic “reform” of state and Islam has had disastrous effects on the Arab and Muslim world. Yet to the average Arab citizen, the intellectual, political, economic, religious and social deficits of their leaders have been more painful and pathetic than the “Western initiative du jour” upon their lands and oil.

"To maintain this position of disparity (U.S. economic-military supremacy)… we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming…. We should cease to talk about vague and… unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standard and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts…. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”

–George Kennan [Director of Policy Planning
U.S. State Department 1948]

Since World War II, the U.S. military has been involved in over 200 military operations that have resulted in a conservative estimate of between 10-17 million people killed. (William Blum; “Rogue State”)

That’s how America spreads “Democracy”

President Bush’s agenda seeks American military hegemony, supports corporate greed, abandons international treaties, bypasses the United Nations, damages the world’s environment, illegally invades Iraq, while abandoning the impoverished for the benefit of the rich and is hardly a democratic recipe worth emulation. America, heal thyself first.

Henry Miller, a twentieth century American author whose books were banned as obscene, captured America’s naiveté in world affairs thus: “It isn’t the oceans which cut us off from the world – it’s the American way of looking at things.”

ARAB LIES – BLOODIED ARABS

“Throughout history it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”

–Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia

The Arab response to Western colonialism was the formation of the Arab League on March 22, 1945 by seven states that later grew to 22 states.

For 59 years, the Arab League has been a dismal failure, unable to meet its objectives within or without the Arab world. Its sole achievement has been the perennial communiqués to “condemn, warn, support, applaud, threaten, reject and the usual formation of “committees” to further study the “matter.” Empty slogans meant to pacify the impoverished, oppressed, and bloodied Arab nation at the hands of America, Israel, and Arabs themselves.

It’s been one year since Bush and Blair bullied their way into Mesopotamia, into Baghdad, the glorious capitol of the Abbasid Caliphate. Surely, the Arab League could have prevented such an illegal invasion.

Surely…..

But, we are talking about the Arab League and the “Communiqués du year”.

1. ARAB LEAGUE “BEIRUT DECLARATION”: March 28, 2002 (prior to Iraq War). (5)

We, the kings, presidents, and emirs of the Arab states meeting in the Council of the Arab League Summit in Beirut, capital of Lebanon… have conducted a thorough assessment of the developments and challenges… relating to the Arab region and, more specifically, to the occupied Palestinian territory.

a. We address a greeting of pride and honour to the Palestinian people’s steadfastness and valiant intifada against the Israeli occupation and its destructive war machine.

b. We will continue to …protect the pan-Arab security and fend off the foreign schemes that aim to encroach on Arab territorial integrity. The Council calls for respecting Iraq’s independence, sovereignty, security, territorial integrity, and regional safety.

c. The Council rejects threats of aggression against some Arab states, particularly Iraq, and reiterates categorical rejection of attacking Iraq.

Additionally:

The Foreign Ministers also reiterated Arab countries’ rejection of any aggression…or threat to the safety and security of any Arab country, deeming it a threat to the national security of all Arab countries as well as a threat to international peace and security.

The Arab ministers stressed, in their final statement at the conclusion of their emergency meeting that their countries must refrain from offering any kind of assistance or facilities to a military aggression threatening the security, safety and unity of Iraq.

PLUS, the totally ignored offer of “Comprehensive Peace” with Israel for total withdrawal from Arab Land.

MARCH 2, 2003: ARAB LEAGUE COMMUNIQUE: (18 days before the war) (6)

The Final Communiqué underlined the Arab countries’ rejection of participating in any military action against any Arab country, including Iraq
Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa addressed the inaugural session asserting that "any threat to an Arab country is a threat to the national security of each and every Arab country”….underlined the importance of not belittling the importance of Arab stance when unified; adding, “…Arab diplomacy has succeeded in staving off war until now.”

Prince Abdullah reiterated the Arab countries’ absolute rejection of acts of aggression by one Arab country against another and underlined the importance of solving inter-Arab problems through peaceful means..

MARCH 29, 2004: ARAB LEAGUE: One Year after “Rejecting” Aggression Against Iraq

In contradiction to their own communiqués, Arab nations did provide the U.S. with bases and use of air space to attack Iraq. Self preservation, survival, and complete cooperation with the new Sheriff in town are now the modus operandi of Arab heads of state.

The Muslim and non-Muslim world must know that the hypocritical acquiescence of the Arab leaders to accept and align themselves with Bush’s lies to attack Iraq, an Arab and Muslm nation, directly contradicts the Qur’anic teaching that no Muslim will support a non-Muslim in their lying and unjustified attack upon another Muslim nation.

“O you who have attained to faith! Do not take the deniers of truth for your allies in preference to the believers”
(Qur’an: 4:144)

For this upcoming Arab League meeting in Tunis and after 59 years of paralysis, the leaders are meeting to “reform” the Arab League, not their national governments. Again, we are talking of the Arab League and thus as expected, they couldn’t agree on this agenda so they postponed it to next year They’ll come, they’ll meet, they’ll speak in grandiose hyperbole blaming the world for their woes; they’ll have their requisite media-ops, hear each other’s praises and thankfully disperse for another year.

However, Israel’s assassination of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin in Gaza presents the Arab League with an immediate crisis to do the impossible: to undertake a strong and measurable action that will satisfy and pacify the angry Arab street. Empty slogans and words of condemnation won’t be enough. The Arab street wants all ties with Israel severed; they want the expulsion of all Israeli diplomats; they want to see Arab governments recall their Ambassadors from Israel and the United States; they would like an oil boycott or a large rise in oil costs to hurt Western economies. In short, they want the impossible from leaders ingrained in impotence, subservient to America’s support and fearful for their very lives and the enormous wealth deposited in American and European banks.

Iraq War: “A Civilization Gone with the Lies of W.M.D.’s”

The Cost of American, British, and Arab Lies (7)

a. American Lives: To date, 550 dead, upward of 7,000 injured (some estimates say up to 22,000)

b. Iraqi Lives: Over 10,000 dead (Coalition doesn’t count dead Iraqi’s; Arabs are expendable)

c. Cost of War to U.S. alone: More than $105 Billion

d. Cost to Middle East: American Hegemony and Israeli Supremacy

e. Increased, not decreased, terrorism.

Today, the Arab League faces a more comprehensive threat to its “sovereignty and integrity” in Bush’s “Greater Middle East” Initiative, an initiative that sounds eerily close to Israel’s “Greater Israel” strategy. Fortunately, European opposition to this strategy, along with mild Arab criticism, forced the United States to drop it, at least for now. After all, Bush’s “Pre-emptive” doctrine is still America’s foreign policy.

The Arab League, like the United Nations, has been “irrelevant” in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and preventing Iraq’s invasion. Out of fear, Arab Leaders are individually seeking America’s blessings by fighting internal terrorism, offering bases, suppressing any opposition, closing Muslim schools, charities, and mosques; reforming educational curriculums, torturing their own citizens and even murdering those who dare protest.

The famed journalist, Robert Fisk wrote in the Independent, on February 18, 2003, an article with the embarrassing title: “The Arabs Are Like Mice”. He rightly laments the paralysis of the Arab regimes and the lack of Arab protests in the face of Iraq’s imminent invasion. He asks the fundamental question that so far has evaded answers: “What on earth is it with the Arabs?” (8)

While Israel and Saudi Arabia are busy constructing their “separation” walls in Palestine and Yemen, America’s ambition is to build an “iron wall” around the entire Middle East thus effectively controlling the world’s oil supply thereby controlling the oil flow to potential future rivals in Europe, Japan, India, and China.

While in modern history there has been a worldwide movement toward more democracy, due primarily to “people power”, the Arab and Muslim world has been on a reverse course from early Islamic democracy to today’s authoritarian regimes.

Any Muslim who supports tyrannical rule in the Muslim world is acting against Islam, for the Prophet (pbuh) said:

“One who does anything to strengthen a tyrant has already left the faith”

No Arab nation today is a democracy. Arab leaders rule with an iron fist demanding total obedience from their people in direct contradiction to the Qur’anic teaching found in the Chapter “Al Shura” or “Consultation”.

“And whose rule in all matters of common concern is consultation among themselves.” (Qur’an: 42:38)

Among the three Abrahamic scriptures, only the Qur’an lays the foundation of democracy and consultation that all communal business must be done in total consultation within the community. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) used to accept the decision of his community when they voted against him. Not so with our modern “Muslim” leaders.

Arab leaders have blindly accepted the Western condemnation that religion and politics in Arab lands leads to fundamentalism and terrorism; yet Israel’s Orthodox Jews rule over all legal decisions and desire to establish a government ruled by “halakic” or religious law, while in the U.S. the powerful Christian Fundamentalists seek to repeal the separation of “Church and State.”

Arab leaders are of two types of dictatorships: Either monarchies or “elected” military dictatorships. Both are for life unless death do them part.

NATION RULER YEARS IN POWER NOTES
EGYPT M. Hosni Mubarak 23 Years (1981)
IRAQ Saddam Hussein 24 Years (1979-2003) Last Win 100% Vote
JORDAN King Abdullah II 5 Years (1999) Monarchy Since 1946
BAHRAIN King Hamad ibn Isa al-Khalifah 5 Years (1999) Monarchy Since 1783
KUWAIT Sheikh Jaber Ahmad al-Sabah 27 Years (1977) Monarchy Since 1756
OMAN Sultan Qabus ibn Sa’id 34 Years (1970) Monarchy Since 1741
QATAR Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani 9 Years (1995) Monarchy Since 1867
SAUDI ARABIA King Fahd bin ‘Abdulaziz al-Saud 22 Years (1982)Monarchy Since 1932
MOROCCO King Muhammad VI 5 Years (1999) Monarchy Since 1956
United Arab Emirates Sheikh Zayid bin Sultan al-Nuhayyan 3 Years (1971) Federation Since 1971
ALGERIA President Abdelaziz Bouteflika 5 Years (1999) Elected by 70% Vote
COMOROS President Azali Assoumani 2 Years (2002) Elected by 75% Vote
DJIBOUTI President Ismail Omar Guelleh 5 Years (1999) Elected by 74.4% Vote
LEBANON President Emile Lahud 6 Years (1998) President Must be Christian Maronite
LIBYA Revolutionary Leader Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi 35 Years (1969) Author: “Green Book”
MAURITANIA President Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya 20 Years (1984) Third Re-election by 60.8% Vote
SUDAN President Lt. Gen. Umar Hasan al-Bashir 11 Years (1993) Re-elected by 86.5% Vote
SYRIA President Bashar al-Asad 4 Years (2000) Elected by 97.3% Vote
TUNISIA President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali 17 Years (1987) Elected by nearly 100% Vote
YEMEN President Field Marshall Ali Abdallah Salih 26 Years (1978) Re-elected by 96.3% Vote
PALESTINE President Yasser Arafat 8 Years (1996) Occupied since 1967

It’s been said that if one wants to know the priorities of a nation, look at the budget. Notwithstanding that no one knows the “salaries” of the Arab leaders, the Arab nations as a region have the following characteristics (see chart at bottom of article):

a. Among the Poorest Per Capita income in the world.

b. Among the Most Illiterate regions in the world.

c. Among the Lowest Expenditures on Education in the world.

d. THE HIGHEST Military Expenditure in the World.

e. Authoritarian Politics

f. Poor Investment Climate

NB Please see Selected Indicators for the ARAB LEAGUE plus ISRAEL: (9)
http://stats.uis.unesco.org/eng/TableViewer/Wdsview/dispviewp.asp?ReportId=74

(*M.E.: Military Expenditure

**Israel enjoys a GDP per capita 21 times that of the Palestinian West Bank and 33 times that of the Gaza Strip. Its military spending per capita tops the world.)

According to Defenseworld.com, out of the TOP twenty nations with the highest Military Expenditures as Percent of their GDP (national income), EIGHT are Arab countries. The overall defense expenditure for the Arab region is estimated at about $55 billion annually by 2007, rising from about $52 billion in 2003. This is almost double the total spending predicted for all of Latin American. (10)

TOP MILITARY EXPENDITURE AS PERCENT OF GDP: 8 OUT OF THE TOP 20 ARE ARAB NATIONS. (11)

4. Saudi Arabia 13% (FY00)
6. Oman 12.2% (FY01)
7. Qatar 10% (FY00/01)
8. Israel 8.75% (FY02)
9. Jordan 8.6% (FY01)
11. Bahrain 6.7% (FY01)
14. Syria 5.9% (FY98)
15. Kuwait 5.5% (FY01)
18. Yemen 5.2% (FY01)
43. United States 3.2% (FY99 est.)

Case In Point: The small nation of the United Arab Emirates spent $8 Billion dollars recently to purchase 80 U.S. built F-16 jet fighters, slated to begin delivery this year. According to the Pentagon, the deal is actually worth $15 Billion over the life of the aircraft. The U.S. Library of Congress estimates that the native population of the U.A.E. is 298,178 (only 12% of the entire population of 2,484,818). Using only the $8 Billion expenditure that works out to $26,830 per U.A.E. native. This is just ONE of the military expenditures in the Arab world.

From fiscal year 1991 through fiscal year 2000, the U.S. government delivered about $74 billion in military equipment, services and training to Arab countries. (12) This excludes military purchases from Europe, China and other nations.

The Arab Leaders have chosen to spend on TANKS rather than BOOKS, although man does not live by TANKS alone. Is this a deliberate policy to ensure an ignorant compliant population that doesn’t threaten the “beloved” regimes? How tragic that so few people in the Arab world can even read this article: The Arab masses survive by seeing no evil, hearing no evil and speaking no evil.

Dictatorships, by definition, are ruthless in their rule and neglectful of their people’s suffering. No one can forget the dozens of Saddam’s palaces while Iraqi’s were dying from America’s sanctions; no one should forgive Arafat for his plundering of Palestinian aid despite his “presidency” being confined to a single room; no one should forget the enormous palaces, planes, boats and mansions in Europe and America, owned by our Arab leaders while Arab children are starving, sick and dying, with no prospect of a good education or a future job. No leader is addressing the serious and devastating domestic issues while they live in walled palaces, surrounded by corrupt yes men, private militias, an oppressive internal security apparatus, a controlled media extolling the virtues of the beloved leaders, while their pictures and statues cover the landscape, lest anyone forget who’s the boss.

The Arab nations face enormous economic, educational, social and political problems, despite the enormity of oil wealth.

According to a World Bank Report, a snapshot of the Arab World reveals: (13)

a. Total population: about 306.2 Million

b. Population growth: 2.0%

c. Life expectancy at birth: 68.6 years

d. Infant mortality per 1,000 births: 36.7

e. Total Illiteracy (15 years and over): 34.6% Total Illiteracy Female (15 years and above): 45.2 %

f. 2000 GNI (Gross National Income) per capita: $2,230 (2001)

g. Number of Persons living with HIV/AIDS: 400,000

A study done by Farzaneh Roudi, a policy analyst at the Population Reference Bureau, in November 2001, entitled: “Population Trends and Challenges in the Middle East” (14) outlines the following domestic issues permeating all Arab nations. (M.E.N.A.: Middle East and North Africa)

1. YOUNG AND ELDERLY POPULATION GROWTH: Over the past 50 years, this region (MENA) experienced the highest rate of population growth of any region in the world. Its young population gives unprecedented momentum to MENA’s population growth. One-third of MENA’s population is under age 15 and 60% of the Arab population is under 24 years. In most MENA countries, the number of women of childbearing age (15 to 49 years) will at least double in the next 30 years As MENA’s total population increases, so does its elderly population and with it a health burden that has important implications for the cost and configuration of health systems. For example, the elderly population of Egypt (60 years and older) is expected to grow from 4.3 million in 2000 to 23.7 million in 2050

2. EMIGRATION “BRAIN DRAIN”: Unfortunately, MENA countries are currently more likely to experience "brain drain," as large flows of educated people leave the region for Europe, North America, and other parts of the world.

3. UNEMPLOYEMENT: MENA’s unemployment rate is the highest in the world. Unemployment is highest among young people and women.

4. EDUCATION: Despite governments’ efforts in the area of education, the number of illiterate adults continues to increase in some countries. Two-thirds of MENA’s illiterate adults are women.

5. HOUSING: Managing rapidly growing urban populations in the face of housing shortages and inadequate infrastructure is also becoming more of a challenge. The populations of cities are growing faster than the populations of the countries as a whole, as population growth in the rural areas feeds a pool of potential rural-to-urban migrants.

6. WATER SHORTAGE: Region Has World’s Most Severe Water Shortage. While it is home to 6.3 percent of the world’s population, MENA holds only 1.4 percent of the world’s accessible fresh water.

7. PEACE and POLITICAL STABILITY ARE IMPERATIVE: According to the U.S. Committee for Refugees, MENA is home to more than 6 million refugees; has the largest refugee population in the world. Palestinian refugees are the largest and oldest refugee population in the world.

The Arab InterParliamentary Union estimates that in the Arab world:

a. 54% of Doctors and 26% of Engineers have migrated out of the region.

b. More than 50% of Arab Students studying abroad don’t return.

Despite the popular perception that Arab countries are rich, overall GDP at the end of the 20th century (US $604 Billion) was little more than that of Spain ($559 billion), with less than 15 percent of the Arab population. After the oil boom of the 1970s, most of the economies of the Middle East and North Africa either stagnated or declined. (UNDP/AHDR 2003)

GDP PER CAPITA IN 1970 AND 2001 AS PERCENT OF GDP CAPITA IN OECD COUNTRIES

YEAR ARAB Countries E. Asian Tigers
1970 9% 18%
2001 7% 52%
Source: U.N.D.P.

OECD: Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (30 industrialized nations) (15)

The Middle East’s share of international trade and foreign direct investment is less than 1.5 percent of the world total.

Firstly, most Arab states have not pursued policies to encourage inter-Arab trade, which was until 1996 about 6-7% of their total trade, and is usually in the form of organized "protocol trade" or bilateral and restrictive trade agreements (16)

In the year 2002, US trade with the Arab world amounted to $43.5 billion in two-way trade, down only four percent from the year 2001, according to US Department of Commerce figures. Of that amount, nearly $18 billion comes from US-Saudi trade, some $13 billion of which is Saudi oil exports to the US. During the same period, US trade with Israel amounted to $19.5 billion, with the US importing nearly $13 billion in goods from Israel.

Due to political instability, poor planning, a corrupt infrastructure, and lack of an educated work force and investment opportunities, Arab economies are dependent on importing food, medicines, and foreign labor. Given the lack of trust and cooperation among Arab countries, oil rich nations prefer importing foreign labor than employ an Arab labor force. Despite the presence of a large Indian labor force in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf these Arab nations are unable to influence India’s growing relationship with Israel. In fact, despite the lip service given by the Arab League to the Palestinian cause, most Arab nations have a poor record in dealing with Palestinian refugees whether in terms of economic, educational, or social support.

Strong recommendations that begin to address such serious and long term domestic issues in the Arab world have been expertly written by the United Nations Development Program through its “Arab Human Development Report”, unfortunately, such reports are tragically shelved in favor of the “expertise” of Arab Leaders.

Tragically the Muslims have strayed from their faith and are living in mental and physical squalor. They shed tears in prayers for their downtrodden existence hoping that Allah (swt) will save them from their miserable destiny. Yet while they seek a heavenly miracle they ignore the Qur’anic injunction and the path for their own salvation: Change is in their hands, it’s always been in their hands.:

“Verily, God does not change men’s condition unless they change their inner selves, and when God wills people to suffer evil (in consequences of their own evil deeds), there is none who could avert it: for they have none who could protect them from Him..” (Qur’an: 13:11)

American Foreign Policy Since Israel’s Founding in the Middle East

With the exception of President Eisenhower’s intervention in the British, French and Israeli preemptive attack on Egypt in 1956, American Foreign Policy in the Middle East has been consistently Pro-Israel, whether a Republican or Democratic Administration. Israel and Oil have been the driving force of such policy. Since Israel’s 1967 victory over the Arabs, the large and powerful Christian Fundamentalists have added enormous support to Israel’s cause in American politics – although that support follows the prophecy that Jews must all return to Israel to hasten the end of world battle “Armageddon” where all non-saved Christians will be annihilated (except for 144,000 saved Jews) hastening the second coming of Christ. (See Senator John Kerry’s article: “The Cause of Israel is the Cause of America”) (17)

Israel’s political and economic influence upon U.S. foreign policy is not countered by any Arab lobbying in the political arena nor by any attempt to educate the American people on the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict nor on the truth regarding Islam. Americans are only exposed to an Israeli monologue that has usurped American foreign policy and constructed Islam as the new threat to western civilization. America has bought the premise that there is a “Clash of Civilizations and Religions” between the West and Islam. How long can the Arab leaders package their impotence as a Zionist ploy when Israel is simply looking after its interests, when in truth it’s their lack of knowledge, sophistication, will, and a realization that their power rests upon oppressing their masses and not their support. In today’s world “Image is Everything” and in that battle Arabs and Islam are losing. Arabs must spend their money on addressing domestic issues and on fighting with words and pictures, not accumulating the latest weapons that languish in desert hangers.

“It’s clear that Islam is on the way to disappearing," Israeli Minister Elon asserts with certainty. "What we are now seeing across the Muslim world is not a powerful surge of faith but the dying embers of Islam. How will it disappear? Very simply. Within a few years a Christian crusade against Islam will be launched, which will be the major event of this millennium.”
—Haaretz May 10, 2003

There will be no peace in the Middle East or between the West and Islam until true democracy flourishes in due time from within, not from without, the Middle East Americans must understand that Israel and its illegal occupation of Palestine is the singular most important wedge between them, peace, and good relations with the Muslim world. Americans are a genuinely good people who will support justice and peace in the Middle East once they’re better informed of Israel’s historical injustice against the Palestinian people, an injustice they support with their taxes, weapons, and vetoes. That education is primarily the responsibility of all Arab and American Muslims, a group who’s disunity, feuds, lack of knowledge on conflicts impacting Muslims worldwide, political apathy, fear of retribution, and allegiance to foreign governments or Muslim movements makes them invisible in the American political, academic, or media arenas.

Muslims around the world must fill the streets and proclaim their total opposition to all terrorism and to Al-Qaeda’s in particular. These terrorists are killing innocent civilians around the world in the name of Islam, God forbid, and are harming the very faith they espouse and their own brethren. Silence is not an option but rather a complicit statement.

No human can claim to be a Muslim, one who submits to the will of God, and murder in cold blood innocent civilians on airplanes, trains, cars, or ships. Islam has strict injunctions against killing non-combatants even in war. What madness would drive a human being to push a remote button to murder an innocent child or mother. Yes Muslims have a legitimate right in faith and in international law to defend themselves from occupation and oppression, but Allah (swt) forbids committing injustice and transgressing all bounds even against one’s enemies. Yes Muslims are victimized by the western powers, especially America, who hypocritically proclaim democracy and human rights while enforcing a double standard for Israel’s illegal occupation as well as Iraq’s invasion. No matter, Muslims must still adhere to Islam’s teaching in dealing justly with the enemies of truth and international law. Muslims must fight those who fight against them but not transgress such boundaries as to murder the innocent.

“O you have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of anyone lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. Be just: this is the closest to being God-conscious.” (Qur’an 5:8)

Extremism in all its manifestations in life is totally rejected in Islam. No greater injunction against what’s wrongfully termed “Islamic Extremism/Fundamentalism” can be found than in Allah’s (swt) command that Muslims must follow moderation in all things. The only fighting permitted in Islam is in defense of faith or nation.

“And thus we have willed you to be a community of the middle way”
(Qur’an: 2:143)

The upcoming Arab summit must be courageous and clear in their condemnation of all terrorism against civilians by persons, groups, or states and must reaffirm that even in war and animosity Islamic principles must be upheld. Although it’s doubtful such a statement may arise given the recent murder of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the main problem for the Arab leaders is their total lack of credibility with their own people. Thus it’s up to the Muslim scholars and to the citizenry in the Arab and Muslim world to publicly condemn the murder of innocents by Jews, Christians, Muslims or any other adherents of other faiths, such as Hindus in India.

"There is a light in the heart that is illuminated only by following the truth.” Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

In my opinion the entire world’s impotence and inaction against injustice anywhere is responsible for terrorism everywhere. Terrorism is a reflection of desperation emanating from the failed resolution of conflicts and perceived threats by governments and peoples around the world. When governments fail to act, misguided people will act. For 37 years the entire world has been unable to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and until the world resolves this issue and other festering conflicts around the world, terrorism will raise its ugly head.

“Justice will only exist where those not affected by injustice are filled with the same amount of indignation as those offended."

Footnotes:

1. http://www.csmonitor.com/specials/neocon/index.html
(Empire Builders: Neocons)
2. http://www.casi.org.uk/discuss/2002/msg01586.html
http://www.casi.org.uk/discuss/2001/msg00103.html
(Neo-Con’s Letter to President Clinto 1998)
3. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/09/04/september11/main520830.shtml
4. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2835.htm
5. http://www.al-bab.com/arab/docs/league/communique02.htm
6. http://www.al-bab.com/arab/docs/league.htm 7. http://www.world-crisis.com/more/A59_0_1_0_M/
(See Quotes by US/UK Leaders before/after invasion) 4
8. http://www.bintjbeil.com/articles/2003/en/0218_fisk.html
9. http://stats.uis.unesco.org/eng/TableViewer/Wdsview/dispviewp.asp?ReportId=74
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html (CIA World Fact
Book 2003)
http://earthtrends.wri.org/text/ECN/variables/643.htm (GDP percent on
Education)
10. http://www.defenseworld.net/
11. http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/mil_exp_per_of_gdp
12. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d011078.pdf
13. http://devdata.worldbank.org/external/CPProfile.asp?CCODE=MNA&PTYPE=CP)
14 htttp://www.prb.org
15. http://www.oecd.org/home
16. http://www.al-bab.com/arab/econ/economy.htm#TRADE
http://www.csis.org/mideast/reports/usinvtrd.pdf
17. http://www.counterpunch.org/kerry02172004.html

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First published by www.unobserver.com

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