SPEAKING FREELY Give Egypt a chance for change
By Mahboob A Khawaja
Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click hereif you are interested in contributing.
The land of pharaohs and magic appears to be intermingled with in-house fireballs generating conflicts of hope and expectation. The generals are becoming restless with the Tahrir Square shouting matches, crumbling economic affairs, emotional outbursts of the emotionally charged people and their aspirations, domestic strife - and wanting overnight results from their long political struggle.
The military on Monday didn't attempt to disguise its plans to
intervene, saying it would "announce a road map for the future and the steps overseeing its implementation …" in 48 hours if President Mohamed Morsi failed "to meet the demands of the people".
It is an unimaginative and short-sighted picture that a politically responsible government in one year could deliver unthinkable goods and amenities of life amid a socio-economic context that is besieged at best. Society becomes productive when there is peace, freedom of thoughts and movement and collaborative endeavors for change and development.
Egypt faces complex and critical situations. What was destroyed by over half of the century of continued authoritarian rule, political insanity and societal destruction cannot be restructured and rebuild in a year or two. Suspicious and paranoid army leaders need not to jump into a volatile political affairs. No generals can understand what is good for the public conscience and aspirations. In an emerging democracy, people enjoin passion to demonstrate, and to shout at one another is not abnormal.
There is no political emergency in need of military dictates or intervention. The generals are not equipped with the capacity to politically reason the unreason. They are not the political entity to pursue peaceful dialogue for human change. Morsi was elected through a fair political system and he must have time and opportunities to devise new thinking, plan and take concerted actions to deliver goods and services to the embittered pubic.
Today's Egypt seems more standing and moving on a rational path of change and development than in Hosni Mubarak's era of dictatorial rule by one party against all. It will be unwise and unwarranted if the military intervenes in the political process for societal change and future-making. Such an intervention could block all avenues of peaceful political transformation for the good of the people.
There was no political dialogue in Mubarak's authoritarian rule, but Morsi has helped facilitate talk between opponents. Egypt needed new political imagination and political institutions to undo the paradox of history. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are articulating some and more to come with the consensus of the people over certain period of time. One year in office is just a dot on the screen for change. Political Change moves on its own pace, not what some external forces should dictate or determine it.
If opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood dream of glory and triumph and think they enjoin some magic solutions to five decades of economic-political mismanagement, they are disconnected from the real world of change. What is happening in Egypt is the test case for both the short- and the long-term in the process of political development. There is no quick fix of any socio-economic ills perpetuated by so many against all Egyptians.
If political progress is stopped, it will ruin Egypt's lifelines for freedom and democracy. People enjoy the freedom to stand for their rights and dignity without any coercive and secretive police actions. Tahrir Square has become a symbol of the continued essence of freedom and collective will of the people of Egypt. It should retain its historic identity and value.
When the people of Egypt were oppressed and dehumanized for over half of a century, there were few outcries and human rights concerns in the Western news media or in the stonewalled Arabian peninsula for moral-intellectual support and recognition of the need for change and political dialogue. Western scholars and official policy makers never seemed to imagine that Arab people could rise against the odds and beyond the obvious to strive for their rights and freedom as did many other nations in the Western industrialized world.
The Egyptian people have made sacrifices and articulated the hope and optimism for a new world of human rights and political imagination. Today, the absolute rulers and common folk in Arab nations appear to be living in two different worlds - varied conflicting time zones between the people and the palaces, and being unable to see each other to reconcile and to understand the prevalent political realities shaping the present and carving out the future of the Arab world. Egypt could well be a role model for change and future-building
Most of the Arab Middle East world is dominated by neo-colonialism and ruled by ruthless authoritarian rulers denying the people their inborn sense of freedom, human dignity and the will to participate in political governance. The oil-generated wealth and the new concept of "modernity" could not facilitate a promising future with sustainable system of governance, participation and initiatives of the people to replace nomadic ignorance and neo-colonialism endured under the European imperialism.
Arabia appears to be in conflict within itself, its time and role in modern history, vast resources of natural fossil fuels and Arab authoritarianism controlled and managed by the Western-trained secret police apparatus across the world.
Economic developments have led to more conflicts and wars throughout the Middle East states seeking recognition and co-existence with the challenging political and economic developments scenarios. The individualistic absolutism has produced authoritarianism maintained by the Western military alliances and political intrigues generating new age of political mismanagement and institutionalized corruption.
Sooner or later, the neo-colonial kings and presidents will make their way out, not by persuasive reasoning but by the power of the people's movement and sacrifices for freedom, peace and craving for new educated and intelligent leadership from the new generations.
The victory of military coups is never permanent. The emerging battlegrounds clearly indicate that some ignorant rulers continue to rely on the force of evil to determine the future of the people. The supremacy of force and evil mongering is transitory and people across the Arab states will ultimately triumph their rights and freedom for a new and democratic system of governance.
People are determined to challenge the authoritarian absolutism and now the global community is anxiously supporting movements for change and freedom. It is becoming more and more conceivable that nothing could safeguard the absolute rulers from the consequences of their own triviality, insanity and viciousness against the people, led by the young entrepreneurs of information age implying new ideas and creative strategies to move public sentiment, peaceful organized protests, effective public communication, and continued political demonstration across the Arab world.
How to rebuild?
There must a rational concern and immediate thinking on the part of able and competent Muslim thinkers to plan for change and to build a future from the deliberate ruins of many quarters of the Arab world. What was destroyed instantly by draconian forces, cannot be rebuild overnight. The thinking people of the Arab hub must search for planned changes and an action plan that covers both the short and long terms, and reach out for a sustainable mechanism of value-based governance that enlists politically active and informed people from the young generation.
Given the new vision, approaches and strategic priorities outlined by Morsi, for sure, there will be a new future for Egypt that is different from the conditions imposed by dictators, be they Bashar al-Assad or Hosni Mubarak and so many others in waiting across the Arab world.
There are more daunting challenges and opportunities ahead for concerned Arab-Muslim scholars and thinkers to grasp the momentum of political change to sort out feasible political and socio-economic remedies. The role and tasks of the people dealing with change and is painfully critical and progressive over certain period of time. The societal problems they are faced with are too complex to administer a single pill to treat the cancerous sickness.
Professor Fouad Ajami said it right: "The problems of the Arab world are the result of self-inflicted wounds." If the one-track rulers were open to listening and learning (vital traits of effective modern leadership), the catastrophic war in Syria - troops firing on demonstrators, funeral processions and worshippers in Masjids, the killings of innocent citizens and destruction of the social environment and political horrors, could have been avoided.
The question is how to manage new and challenging opportunities to undo past political strangulations and economic chaos and return to normalcy? That requires soul searching, foresight and a strong commitment - more than a revolution - to set the proper strategies and initiate solid plans. Do the Arabs societies have the proactive visionary and competent people and institutions to deal with change and conflict management?
Of all the Arab states, Egypt under Morsi stands a better chance to cope with the phenomenon of change and to reconstruct its economy, political systems and national productivity. Change will come whether Arab dictators like it or not, and all of the Arab lands will embrace people-oriented Islamic-valued governance.
Sadly enough, Western news media offer irrational sensational and dramatic television coverage of public outcries for change, economic well-being and social justice. There is no revolution in Egypt because few millions are out in streets; this is an evolving culture of political emancipation for the good of Egyptian democracy. The process of political change must be allowed its due course of tests and evolutionary growth and credibility. Otherwise, Egypt could go back to another pharaoh, more of the generals, and more of the dying face of Mubarak.
On the pertinent issues of sustainable change and human development for the future, the author's article "Arab Authoritarian World is Changing - but how to make sense-out of nonsense" (Opinion Maker: 8/19/2011, Media Monitors Network: 8/21/2011, Aljazeera-CCUN: 8/29/2011), offered the following observation:
If you scan and analyze over half of the century affairs to discover that Arab rulers had no accomplishments to their record. They failed on all the major front battles: failure in leadership, perception of change and development of the future, shameful failure in dealing with the freedom of Palestine and establishment of an independent State of Palestine, no strategy to cope with the growing influence of Israel in the Middle East, and creating viable societal economic and political infrastructures for a sustainable future. Under the guise of modernity, they propelled Western enhanced militarization and secretive police-based institutionalized system using "fear" as a strategy for their governance.
Modern Arab armies are not the armies of Islam but to safeguard the rulers and their palaces. The armed forces of the modern Arab States supposed to be defending the Arab citizens and their rights and dignity are killing them. The egomaniac rulers, who loved the sensation of power and extravagant life in palaces built on moving sand and with stolen wealth, use iron fist rule to torture and kill the political opponents alleging Islamic extremism. The paranoid and ruthless kings, princes, presidents and fattish Generals do not frighten anybody, anymore except the self ...
The Arab people have a success story to convey to the future generations for change and development but the absolute rulers stand no chance for any story of success and have no message to the future generations and the reason what went wrong to them, what made them commit heinous crimes and institutionalize a rule of insanity against their own self and the people they claim to rule.
Dr Mahboob A Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including his latest, Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking (Lambert Publishing Germany, May 2012).
Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say.Please click hereif you are interested in contributing.