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Both Arab governments and oppositions are undemocratic   

Al Hayat - 09 May, 2012
Author: Jihad Al Khazen

My opinion on all the Arab governments is that they are undemocratic, and are lacking in accountability, transparency, civil liberties, women's rights and the independent rule of law.

I have stated the above in this column more than a dozen times (and I keep all the articles in question for the benefit of the interested reader). Today, with the same clarity, I want to add that the opinion above now also applies to the Arab uprisings, or the opposition in every country, whether it reaches power, as in the case of Egypt and Libya, or whether it continues to try to reach power, as is the case in Syria.

I have the equivalent of a daily survey of the Arab public opinion through the readers’ mail that I receive, whether directly, or through Al-Hayat’s mail. True, there is a minority of letters that reflect a high level of cultivation, awareness and understanding, a minority that supports or opposes on the basis of strong logical arguments. However, the majority rejects all other differing opinions, and even rails accusations against those who disagree with them, in a manner that even the governments shy away from. Hence, anyone who disagrees must be an agent of America and Israel, or must have been paid in return for the opinion he publishes or is otherwise rewarded by sitting at the rulers’ tables.

A few days ago, I wrote a commentary on the situation in Syria, in which I said that the Syrians are now caught between the government’s brutality and the opposition’s fragmentation. Can any sane person object to this? I said that the government was killing people, and that the opposition is severely divided. I had received many letters claiming that I “equate between the government and the opposition”. Some even said that I have defended the government, when I have been condemning it in plain and simple Arabic.

The topic of that commentary was not even the government or the opposition, but instead about groups of neocons, Likudnik Americans and the Israel lobby that sent out letters calling for war on Syria, just like they did back with the war on Iraq, which claimed the lives of one million Arabs and Muslims.

I wrote about two letters calling for war on Syria, and said that among the signatories of those letters were the same war criminals that had signed similar letters concerning Iraq. Recall that these same war criminals had signed a letter to President Bill Clinton, dated 26/1/1998, calling on him to go to war with Iraq because containment had failed. They also sent out a letter to George W. Bush dated 20/9/2001, calling for war on Syria and Iran, and inciting against Hezbollah by alleging that the group was linked to the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa, when this is a completely baseless accusation. Thus, my article was about the war cabal and its letters that essentially targeted Arabs and Muslims.

Some readers objected to my assertion that the enemy is Israel, not Iran, and said that they in the Gulf do not see Israel, but do see the Iranian threat to their countries. They are entitled to their opinions; which is why I am noting it down here, albeit without changing my own opinion, which included a condemnation of the occupation of the UAE’s islands and my insistence on the need to liberate them. I also add that some of the letters invoked religious aspects of the conflict that cannot possibly be true, and that cannot be discussed in a daily political newspaper.

After the Sunnis, the Shiites also criticized me when the subject was the opposition in Bahrain. Here, my stance on Iran did not seem to satisfy them, or indeed my assertion that the opposition has legitimate demands. Instead, the supporters of Al-Wefaq chose to bypass all this to deny that some of the group’s leaders are agents of Iran, and want to instate a Shiite regime along the lines of the Iranian model of clerical rule. I most certainly did not say all the leaders of Al-Wefaq, or indeed the Shiites of Bahrain want this regime, but I said that some did. I don’t understand how any sane person can deny this, as the opposition’s own mouth has condemned it at times, and so did its supporters abroad who have dual loyalties.

I also wrote about Sudan, criticizing the policy of President Omar al-Bashir, which culminated with the partitioning of Sudan into North and South, and an ongoing dispute that portends an all-out war. Some readers wrote to me to say that I have been too late to write on Sudan, and I accept this. I also received letters that said that since I criticize all those who support Israel or deal with it, that I therefore must criticize Silva Kiir, the President of South Sudan, who made his first foreign trip to Israel.

Very well, I hereby criticize Silva Kiir. But does this mean that I should exempt President Omar al-Bashir from responsibility for pursuing a failed policy against the people of South Sudan, that ended up with the partitioning of the country, and which may lead to war now?

Once again, both Arab governments and Arab oppositions, in power or outside of it, are undemocratic, and are lacking in accountability, transparency, civil liberties, women’s rights and the independent rule of law.

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