Opinion

Militarism To Rule Arabs

By Naveed Qazi

Three military chiefs — General Jean Qahwaji, Marshal Abdul Fatah Al Sissi and General Khalifa Haftar — are set to rule Lebanon, Egypt and Libya respectively. The latter two will have a crack at power in the near future.

Puppet monarchs are viewed as kleptocrats, and “divide and rule policy” has paved the way for a prospective war. While most of the Arabs recognise military rulers as charismatic and bold relationship makers in the public life, it will be very important to reflect on the new developments taking place in the years to come, in the Middle East because extremist organisations have made lot of ground vis-à-vis their operations.

Politically, it will be very important because it will set new maneuvers, which may present stability in the region. The role of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the political strategy of Israel will continue to enhance diplomatic interests in these countries.

When we retrospectively look at the history, the coups in Egypt were started in Abdul Nasser’s reign. Gaddafi in Libya overthrew King Idris. Ali Abdullah Saleh petrified the tribes of Yemen, which actually resulted in a political conundrum, similar to actions done by Houari Boumedienne in Algeria and Al Assad in Syria that turned these leaders against their own people.

History has not been kind to these developments, which has actually paved a way for some social democracy, where people would feel content in a society in which they live.

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has out-rightly rejected the election. The voter turn out has already been low. The movement, which is loyal to former president Muhammad Mursi, is not happy with the army takeover.

In Lebanon, only registered voters have been allowed to vote. The elections have witnessed an amazing turnout of Syrian refugees and residents, who are celebrating their embattled president. The reigning Libyan general wants dilution of the Islamist movement in Libya. He wants the country to concentrate on economic reforms that will actually make way for a democratic election in the future.

When we align the minorities living in the region to these new political developments, military rule seems to be a preference for communities like Christians, who do not enjoy full political and legal rights in the region. Attacks against them often go unreported. ‘The Dhimmi Pact’ which was drafted by radical Muslims of Greater Syria and Iraq won’t be considered, if military rule becomes a reality. This may come as good news to Coptic Christians living in the region.

There is a major need for accountability and a reform in the Arab region because civil unrest has already damaged the social fabric. Tough measures are needed to restore the economic growth, which would ease poverty and unemployment and end costly energy subsidies.

The other important notion is the identification of dissenters – the left liberals who are active and were particularly stronger in ’50s. Things like emergency power, the unquestioning obedience of military in civil rule that go above government policies don’t go well with the liberals.

What actually kick-started these revolutions in the name of social change was the lack of freedom in the countries. There is also a lack of knowledge about the actual role of democracy in the society in these nation states. There are not many leaders in the region who buy the idea of a self-sufficient country, not being dictated by outside politics. When we ponder on current developments, one of the fiercest crackdowns have happened, security forces have killed hundreds in the streets and arrested thousands of others, drawing widespread condemnation from human rights groups. Many watchers are seriously questioning the actions of previous regimes.

Authoritarianism has been the main form of government in the Arab nation states for decades now. After these unrests, the leaders should identify the political agenda fruitful for the region that will actually pave way for a sustainable future. May be people in Arab lands, due to their patriotic interests, are looking for an organised and stable life in the name of military dictatorship. May be, some kind of goodwill left for military will bring optimism? Is stability more important than the tenets of democracy? Only time will tell.

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