Khaled Almaeena
Khaled Almaeena

The Arab world is passing through its darkest phase in history. Even the most diehard optimist would find little to cheer about. Arab political pundits and newly self-appointed social media analysts have come up with many theories, mostly bizarre, for the predicament we are in. They blame everyone under the sun but have not bothered even to give a cursory glance at what has led us to this sorry situation. Let’s be frank. All what has happened to us is of our own doing. Right from the so-called Arab independence movement through post independent stages, most Arab leaders failed their people as self-appointed generals, presidents for life and others were more focused on consolidating power through oppressive measures rather than uplifting their population. I grew up hear messages blaring on radios haranguing Arab masses, and highlighting imperialistic plans to gobble up the Arab world. We saw a number of coups and counter coups, and the slaughter of thousands of innocent people because the new general was suspicious of them. But even then there was always hope. However, today there is almost no light at the end of the tunnel. Bomb blasts, beheadings, massacres are a daily feature of our news diet. The Arab Spring, which was supposed to usher hope, has engulfed us and thrown us in the dark recesses of a world that has turned into a tumultuous frenzy, while prompting some Arab states to take sterner measures to stifle dissenting voices. Can we continue like this? The answer is an emphatic no! Arab states should take examples of other states where discipline was maintained but voices were heard. Singapore and South Korea are but two examples that have shown there can be no progress without a free and responsible press. There can be no viable state if the leader does not lead from the front, implements good governance, demands accountability and transparency beginning with himself and leads the change against corruption. The media should be viewed as a partner and the ruler should know that criticism would be constructive and can serve the state. That is the role of journalists to alert the state of the shortcomings. A society should be created where free flow of ideas and information could help create an atmosphere where the focus is on growth. A new Arab order should make meritocracy its priority. We have been damaged by years of nepotism and corruption. We have been hindered by the inaction and the incompetency of those in charge. We cannot afford to procrastinate. Dangers lurk where there are gaps and vacuums in society, we should not allow this to happen. There should be trust between all members of society and Arab government. An atmosphere of trust and accountability should prevail for the state to progress, and in order to create trust we must put an end to the divisive ways practiced by a certain section to hold sway over society. Women are an important segment of society and they should be allowed to play a leading role. The voices of extremist and obscurantists should not be allowed to drown the voices of those who seek progress. Provincialism, tribalism and ethnic favoritism should be eradicated totally from the minds of those in power. The Arab governments should take a lesson from their own history. They cannot rule by sheer force and absolute control in an age of social media. Also great advances in technology, where a chip can be planted in humans to read each other’s thoughts, it will be futile to try to control the masses. The Arab people are like their peers elsewhere they want to live in peace and dignity. In today’s world it is inevitable that everyone works to achieve peace and all are accorded dignity. The sooner our leaders realize this, the faster we will develop and progress. — Reprinted with permission of the Saudi Gazette and Khaled Almaeena. The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena