Whether we like it not, whether we agree with it or not, the Arab World in the last 60 years had two leaders of consequence and world stature, the late King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud (1906-197) and the late Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970). The conflicts, the mayhem, the failings, the backwardness, the oppression, the exiles, we see everyday shows the Arab World is in desperate needs of true leadership. I always wondered if these two leaders lived long enough, cooperated long enough I am sure the Arab World would not be the same as it is now, broken and bleeding.
To the misfortune of Arabs and Arab nations, they have been ruled for decades by the military, by socialists, by nationalists, by secularists, by capitalists, by Ba’athists, Nasserites by Islamists (Sudan), by lunatics, kleptomaniacs and narcissists and the result is what we see today.
Nations, rises and falls with leadership and history showed us leaders that made a difference in their nation history. Winston Churchill, Charles De Gaul, Jawaharlal Nehru, Konrad Adenauer, Nelson Mandela, David Ben-Gurion, Abraham Lincoln, John Kennedy, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, Lee Kuan Yeu are among those who made a difference for the good in their own country and in building or rebuilding their nations.
On the other hand, many leaders also contributed to the failings of their countries the likes of Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and Mussolini. Nixon, Bush, Saddam Hussain, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Muamar Qaddafi, Hafiz Assad, Ben Ali, Bahsar Assad, Nourdineen Malki, Omar Al-Bashir, Yasser Arafat, Hosni Mubarak are among the many who failed their own people and failed their countries. Driven by hate, partisan politics, dismissing the others and oppositions, and in the case of the Arab leaders, arrogance, stupidity, incompetency, criminal recklessness and corruption.
The Arab World not only suffers from oppressions, hunger, discontent, illiteracy, fear, death, destruction, sectarian conflicts, coupes and terrorism, it suffers from anemic leadership that failed to rise up above its own narrow selfish interests, partisan and sectarian politics, family and feudal politics lacking a vision for the nation and no caring for the people. This is the case, we saw in Tunisia, in Egypt, in Iraq, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Jordan, in Sudan, in Palestine, and in Yemen among many. In the case of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia going beyond George Bush infamous statement “either you are with us or against us” demonizing the oppositions as “terrorists”. This behavior shows lack of political sophistication, loyalty to the country and people, inherent personal and public weakness to engage the opposition in a meaningful dialogue.
Political parties as we have seen in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Jordan, in Egypt, in Yemen, in Sudan among others are for the most part self serving their own interests mainly of leadership perpetuating the status quo that failed the people all these years.
What we see today in Tunisia, with the opposition parties mainly secular/liberal parties and labor unions shows at best this narrow selfish interests demanding all or nothing putting the Jasmine Revolution at risk, and refusing to consider what is good for the nation. Living in time pasts, having failed all these years to deliver any real and tangible benefits for their membership and nation. Certainly having failed to bring about the revolution. Now they want to have all the benefits of the revolution for themselves and not for the nation.
Lebanon is no different, notwithstanding semblance of civility of fine nightclubs, bonjour, merci, Louis Vuitton, it remains a feudal and sectarian society ruled by money, families and warlords. The Civil War that destroyed the country, left over 100,000 dead, and 30,000 missing, put the country in substantial debt with looting that left basic infrastructure unfinished, a scarred nation that remained divided along the few haves and the millions of have not, along sectarian lines and loyalty to families and world lords of times past, manifesting itself with deadlock partisan and sectarian politics ready to explode at any moment.
The scene is no different in many of the Arab nations, with political, civil society, labor, intellectual elites and leadership that is at best, partisan, ideologically driven, sectarians, narrow minded, without a vision for the future and for the most part on the payrolls of someone from within and from without.
It is hard to believe that nations like Iraq, and Tunis, even Egypt could not bring about political leadership that can put an end to the mayhem and killings like that in Iraq, deadlock politics in Tunisia and all or nothing military coup in Egypt. The people of Iraq did not benefit from ending Saddam’s criminal regime; it is now much worst and too corrupt. In Tunisia risking all that gained from a revolution they did not initiate but want to milk for their own partisan benefits. In Egypt the January revolution that ended 60 years of military and police state came to abrupt end because political parties and groups did not go beyond their own narrow interests and forgot what the revolution was all about, rebuilding the nation and giving the people the dignity and decent living they have been robbed off all these years.
Lack of such political and intellectual leadership is apparent everywhere. The Syrian Opposition more interested in offices, benefits and five stars hotels, failed to uniting politics with field commanders that allowed Bashar Assad and Salafi Jihadist to rob them and the Syrian people from a victory they deserve.
Sudan a failed state for many years due to incompetent corrupt partisan politics responsible for the war crimes in Darfur and the loss of South Sudan. In Yemen, there is absolute and urgent needs for all parties and political leadership to bring the nation together and making a difference in a country suffering from malnutrition, illiteracy and poverty. Interests of the nation and people should come before partisan politics.
Palestine and Iraq are no different, with political dictatorship that lost its legitimacy long time ago, leadership that puts its own selfish personal and financial interests ahead of any thing else. While Iraqi sectarian leadership (Sunnis and Shiites) failed to rise up to the occasion healing a nation destroyed by Saddam Hussein and George Bush and the daily mayhem of booby-trapped cars and suicide bombing could not bring itself to change a political system installed by American Zionist NeoCons.
In Palestine, both Hamas and Fatah leadership forgot about the continued occupation, the expansion of Jewish settlements are engaged in partisan politics that shamed all Palestinians and risked any future for a Palestinian state. Partisan politics that keeps Gaza under siege, keeping millions in large jail, keep thousands of political prisoners, nurture even promote political intolerance and hate.
I tried hard to think of those who in the Arab world that rose above partisan and sectarian politics and I simply could not fined any deserving leadership that can rise to the stature of the late King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud or the late Gamal Abdel Nasser. While both were on the opposite of the political and ideological difference, they came together at the end for the good of the Arab World. It was too short to make a difference. Nasser died of perhaps induced heart attack, while King Faisal was gunned down by evil American Zionist powers afraid of his commitment to the liberation of Jerusalem.
Simply there are no political parties or political and intellectual leadership worthy enough to make a difference, can rise to level much needed to give the Arab World the hope, bring peace, democracy and accountable government, give the people a reason to live and no reasons to die.
Ps. I mentioned David Ben-Gurion because he was instrumental in establishing and building Israel as military and political power, notwithstanding its legitimacy, land theft, expulsion of Palestinians, its racist’s policies and practice. Arafat was a narcissist fraud.
Sami, a Palestinian-American and a US Army Veteran (66-68), recipient of the “soldier of the month award and leadership award from the 6th Army NCO Academy, is an international legal and business consultant with over 40 years of international experience, in construction, hospitality services, conservation, and defense, in the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa. Sami is a holder of BA, MPA in Public and Environmental Affairs, Jurist Doctor from Indiana University. While at IU he was elected class president, student government president and chairman of the Indiana Students Association,
Active in peace movement as a co-author of the pre-amble for the One State for All of its people and voluntary service program SalamNation. A frequent contributor on national and international affairs. He resides in the United States.