From the Gulf to the Ocean One Arab Nation
September 19th, 2009 5:38 AM
by Ziad Shaker elJishi
I have just returned from a visit to the Arab homeland, during which I was able to see Dubai (UAE) and Sanaa (Yemen) in the Arab Gulf, as well as Tunisia and Algeria in the Arab Maghreb (West). I set out to observe two things: the current political and economic status of the countries I visited and the level of Arab nationalist consciousness present in the four countries on the eastern and western wings of the Arab homeland.
I don't think I would be exaggerating in saying that the commitment of the Arab masses towards the cause of liberation in Palestine was markedly present and more steadfast than ever. It is no exaggeration to say that 2 million Arab fighters ready to march to Palestine could be assembled on very short notice.
The level of anger and renewed commitment towards Palestine became a polarizing and unifying factor in the rallies that took place during the massacre the Jewish entity committed in Gaza last December and had a significant mobilizing effect on the Arab masses. One million people readily assembled in Yemen alone to show their support for Palestine and to pour their anger onto the Jews.
In Yemen and Algeria wall graffiti was still present in abundance with inscriptions such as "We Are With Gaza", "Gaza We Are Coming", "We Are All Gaza" and "Death to the Jews". Wall writings expressing popular opinion in support of Gaza could still be read in the streets of Sanaa and Wahran, Algeria. Certainly hatred has not diminished against the Jewish state, which managed not only to increase the level of hatred Arabs hold for its illegitimate existence but has also created a new movement and renewed Arab conviction to liberate Palestine by force of arms, shedding any illusions for a negotiated settlement the imperialists and Arab reactionary forces have sought to peddle.
In Tunis and Algeria the demonstrations for Gaza were paralyzing and were able to shut down whole cities. In Algeria and in the city of Wahran the government clashed with demonstrators and violently beat them. The common explanation offered to explain the violent reaction of the Arab regimes was that their internal security was at stake and being threatened.
Clearly we can see that the Arab regimes under direction of the US are an accomplice in ensuring that 2 million Arabs do not in fact march on and liberate Palestine. Manpower is not a problem to the Arabs, nor is basic armament, but it is the lack of will on behalf of the Arab regimes that stands as the real obstacle.
It became clear to me that the current status quo of economic retardation and political repression, especially with regards to fulfilling the twin causes of the Arab nation in Palestine and Iraq, were the consequence of the active participation of the Arab regimes in conspiring against the cause of liberating Palestine and the anti-occupation resistance in Iraq.
The events in Gaza and the cause of Palestine in general are a source of real worry for the Arab regimes and present a serious danger to their continued rule. The popular mobilizations for Gaza posed a direct threat towards them and a source of great worry because they threaten to topple the ruling elite and as a result the regimes have no choice but to confront them with force, as was demonstrated in Algeria.
This also supports the statement we have been educated on by Arab nationalists since the 1940s: that Palestine is the true vanguard of the over-all Arab revolution and the thrust for positive change to be achieved all over the Arab nation. It is no wonder that the Arab cause in Palestine was and still is the rallying call of the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party, of President Saddam Hussein and of all earnest nationalists and revolutionaries of the Arab nation. In short the emancipation of Palestine and the emancipation of the Arab nation are intertwined and coterminous in the struggle to free the Arabs in the length and breadth of their homeland, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Gulf.
The level of Arab consciousness was clearly present in Sanaa (Yemen) and manifested itself in the Yemeni people’s raised awareness of the example set by the sacrifices of President Saddam Hussein. The Souk in Sanaa still had on display one of the posters commemorating the great president in sure testament to the heroic proportions President Saddam has achieved across the Arab nation and as tribute to the tenacious fight he conducted against the imperialist invaders and for the cause of unifying the Arab nation.
As a result of the conspiracy the media has conducted against the Iraqi resistance, a conspiracy of imposed silence unprecedented in history in ignoring and denying the existence of a strong and dominant emerging liberation force against occupation of its homeland, many people around the world are utterly ignorant of the national liberation struggle raging there. In the Arab Maghreb it was clear to me that people did not know about the General Command for Jihad and Liberation led by his Excellency al-Mujahid Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri that is now leading the Iraqi resistance against the American occupation and its puppet government and marching steadfastly to victory in Iraq.
In fact the official Arab news-media outlets have been careful in parroting almost verbatim American media coverage of Iraq. As a result there exists mass ignorance in the public sphere as to the great achievements the Iraqi resistance has been achieving on the ground. There is even an Arab media blackout on the casualty figures sustained by the Americans.
It was my general observation in the Arab Gulf and the Arab Maghreb that most people did not know who Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was or if they knew who he was weren’t sure if he was alive or not. There is an amazing lack of information among the Arab masses, especially with regards to the Iraqi resistance.
To give another example, when the latest stories leaked out by Farouq Al-Qaddoumi pertaining to the activities of the American puppet Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), particularly describing his role in the murder of Yasser Arafat, the Arab regimes almost immediately came out to support Abu Mazen. The Tunisian newspaper Al-Sabah immediately ran an article written by Palestinian Hanna Siniora defending Abu Mazen and accusing Al-Qaddoumi of fraud.
The Arab regimes are blatantly directed by American intelligence in their media coverage but also clearly have a vested interest and a particular weakness in not reporting anything which exposes the treachery of Abu Mazen or contradicts the official media coverage of the situation in Iraq, as well as anything that might hurt America’s image or that of the puppet Arab regimes.
People in Algeria actually are confused about who the so-called President of Palestine was. They don’t know if it is Abu Mazen or the Hamas government in Gaza. I was asked a few times about that situation and also about who the true representative of the Palestinians was. A Taxi driver even asked me about the Zionist-spread lie that the Palestinians willingly sold their own land! This level of ignorance is purposefully perpetuated by the official Arab regime news broadcasts.
Another source of confusion concerned Iran and "Hizbullah". Most of the Arabs in the Maghreb saw salvage and hope in Hassan Nasrallah's proclamations for attacking “Israel” and defeating its army in south Lebanon in the July war against “Israel”. Many seemed to hold high hopes for the liberation of Palestine through the agency of this sectarian pro-Iran outfit. Clearly they have no information on the devastating role "Hizbullah" and Iran play in the destruction of Iraq, the murder of President Saddam and the spreading of sectarianism with the death-squad killings of tens of thousands of Iraqis from all ethnic and religious backgrounds. Slowly but surely these facts will be brought to light in the Arab Maghreb, especially in light of the suspicious activities the Iranian regime is undertaking in spreading Shiia Safavid teachings in the Arab Maghreb, something that has intensified and has been taken notice of in Morocco, which expelled some Iranians; in Algeria, which is struggling with Iranian support of terrorist activities inside that country; and with the activities of the Hawtheyeen movement in Yemen.
The retarded economic system being fostered in the region is characterized by a rising level of poverty and increased corruption of the Arab regimes all over the Arab homeland. In Yemen under-development and lack of basic infrastructure and services has only been superseded in importance by lack of stability and security. Foreign conspiracies against Yemen in seeking to divide the country into north and south again are being escalated and renewed and the Iranian sabotage of the security of Yemen has been marked by the infiltration through the Hawthi movement and the new effort by the Iranian regime to spread their sectarian version of "Safavid Shiism" in the Arab countries. Iranian cultural centers set up by the Iranian government and their embassies are active in the Arab world, recruiting Arabs to the distorted and divisive doctrines of the Mullahs of Iran.
Tribalism and lack of civil order still present fundamental challenges to the Yemeni government’s efforts to gain stability and security and maintain its integrity in the northern and southern parts of the Yemeni nation.
In Tunis the effects of repressive rule alongside devastating bourgeois capitalist policies has driven most Tunisian youth to seek immigration outside of their country in an effort to secure life opportunities in employment and economic security. The level of unemployment is high and the effects on the poorest of Tunisians are devastating, as they try desperately to find money to feed themselves.
The rule of the once army general from Soussa, Zein el-Abdine Bin Ali, has a firm terrorizing grip on the Tunisian people and their daily lives. Political dissent is harshly punished and, as one Tunisian remarked to me, one in every ten Tunisians is a police operative in a country of 9 million. In essence there is one Tunisian spying on nine others and reporting their political opinions, especially those critical of the regime.
Socially speaking the Tunisian society has a true identity crisis as its Arab and Islamic identity has been assaulted by an Ataturk-style secular government that is pro-Western in its understanding of modernization and deeply hostile to the Arab identity and Islamic traditions of the Tunisian people. Tunisians are made to think that the closer they mimic Western values and conduct, the more modernized and civilized they become. As a result the average Tunisian youth is lost to his or her Arab and Islamic identity, culture, and language. We see this typically in the Arab countries still heavily affected by the colonialist legacies of England and France, with similarities in this lack of Arab cultural identity in such places as Dubai, Lebanon and Tunisia.
Manifestations of this cultural dislocation in Tunis show themselves in the system’s hostility towards the wearing of the Islamic Hijab for Tunisian women, even though I saw more and more Tunisian women wear the Hijab in the street in defiance of this official government position. I noticed as well the proliferation of Western attire, especially revealing attire worn by most of the younger generation of Tunisian women. You could almost mistake the streets at times to be in a European city and not an Arab one. In certain cases and in some tourist areas, topless bathers from Europe are allowed to expose their wares in public beaches, something rarely seen in other Arab countries and hardly seen even in the USA itself!
The country during the July tourism month gives foreigners a carte blanche in conducting themselves as they see fit, with total disregard as to how repugnant this is to average Tunisian families who are offended by this thrust of unabridged European liberalism and spread of moral vice. In fact Tunisian youth are encouraged to "date", contrary to Arab and Islamic traditions. The newspapers in Tunis frequently report stories on drug abuse, prostitution and the spread of pornography, all punished by law amongst Tunisian youth. There is an obvious correlation between the spread of these social vices and the government's policies on tourism, political repression, and deteriorating economic conditions, foremost the rampant unemployment among the growing population of young people.
Another important phenomenon unusual in the Arab homeland is the spread of alcoholism and the encouragement of drinking and abuse of alcohol with liberal policies the government pursues in the sale and promotion of alcohol. This is a phenomenon deeply antagonistic to the restrictive laws afforded by Arab and Islamic traditions in other Arab countries with regards to the consumption, sale, and proliferation of alcohol.
By contrast there are no alcohol outlets in plain public view in Sanaa, Yemen, whereas Tunis has public bars and alcohol super-markets easily accessible to the public. As one Tunisian remarked to me, the spread of alcoholism is so widespread that if you give a 15 year old Tunisian youth money he is likely to immediately purchase alcohol with it.
Algeria with its socialist economic and political system is diametrically opposed (at least in theory) to the free market policies of Tunisia. In Algeria the problems are of a devastated socialist system that is slowly edging itself towards liberalization of its economy.
Four decades and more of Soviet-style socialism have all but destroyed the country economically and socially. Slowly the private sector is being allowed to emerge under the direction and strict control of the ruling army generals. If allowed to spread unabated and in the Western manner, this will surely ruin the country even further.
Infrastructural projects are clearly in abundance as the country needs new buildings, factories and roads. These construction projects have been largely given to the Chinese, who are visibly present in Algeria in large numbers. One of the fundamental problems Algeria faces is the lack of a trained labor force.
It is truly amazing that after four decades of what is termed socialist construction no Algerian workforce is present either in quantity or quality. It is difficult to find reliable workers to fill job vacancies, which in turn necessitates the importation of both Chinese workers and engineers to complete projects in the increasingly visible construction sector. Most large projects such as the new hospital, large apartment complexes and the new University City had to be built by the Chinese, while the metro currently being built in Wahran is being done by a Spanish company.
The government has failed through its educational system in ensuring jobs to its own engineering graduates and has not prepared the country with a qualified working class labor force. Most Algerians who complain about lack of jobs do not show up to work nor are willing to put up with the long hours and hard work when work opportunities present themselves.
The country suffers socially from drug abuse, which makes its way from Morocco in the hashish trade and generally suffers from corruption and a stifling bureaucracy. The general feeling of the public in the street is of despair, social disarray and lack of security. The army and police presence is heavy but theft, violence and lack of general order are common manifestations the visitor observes while in Algeria.
A country with tremendous natural beauty and resources (natural gas, agriculture, tourism, ports, minerals) should not suffer from lack of basic services and infrastructure and should not exhibit poverty, accumulating mounds of garbage, growing numbers of homeless people and unemployment.
Water and electricity have finally reached the second largest city of Algeria. Until recently, Wahran did not have running water and electricity on a regular basis. Today the average Algerian family can not afford to purchase air-conditioning and to have a car and most graduates from high school can not find employment by the government and have to instead either seek illegal employment in the black market or seek illegal immigration to Europe. High school dropouts are also a regular feature of the educational system.
The devastating effects of 130 years of colonialist French barbaric rule are strongly felt in the Arab cultural identity crisis the Algerian people are still struggling with. On the other hand and with some good genuine effort, Algeria is actively seeking to bolster its Arab and Islamic culture and especially attempting to Arabize its educational system and move away from French instruction especially in the non-scientific sectors.
A new generation of Algerian children are coming out of school without a strong command of the Arabic language and with a deteriorating knowledge of foreign languages, especially English. There is also a lack of practice of proper Arabic form in the daily use of the language in the people’s everyday life, as they would rather use so-called Algerian Darja language, a factor in hindering literacy in the implementation and application of Arabic.
In conclusion it is easy to make the case in the Arab countries I visited that a true Arab solution that ensures the Arab renaissance (Nahda) is present in the example that president Saddam Hussein has shown in his Iraqi model for a socialist developing Arab state that is both organically Arab and successful economically.
Iraq under the guidance of the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party and the leadership of President Saddam Hussein can clearly present a solution to the Arab nations of what socialism, development, and cultural awakening mean. During the years of Saddam Hussein's rule all the objectives of liberty, unity, and socialism began to be attained and in the wake of the martyrdom of president Saddam in 2006 are now being studied in depth by the Arab masses, especially the youth who are flocking to the Ba’ath in ever-greater numbers. The search for a viable solution to the crisis confronting the Arab nation from the Arabian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean is resulting in a resurgence of the Ba’ath, the only movement to consistently, cogently and effectively address the Arab predicament over the past century.
President Saddam's formula was simple. Nationalize the economy through state ownership, especially the rich resources Iraq has of oil. Take the revenues of the oil and build the country emphasizing a high quality of life for the Iraqi people.
Oil revenues were used in two ways. One was to build a superior health, educational, and industrial infrastructure and to modernize the country, and the other was to use the surplus revenue to raise the level of standard of living for the average Iraqi family. It is not surprising then that Iraqi households not only had water and electricity and good roads but also enjoyed the luxuries of life with food, good clothing, and nice living accommodations and services.
As explained by an Iraqi to me, during the rule of President Saddam an Iraqi could buy a French suit that cost $125 in France for only $25 in Iraq. How was the Iraqi government able to do that? It used its excess oil revenues to purchase the suits at $125 and was able to sell it to its people for only $25. The difference was picked up by the state. As a result Europeans would come to Baghdad to purchase their own European manufactured suits.
The Iraqi government did the same thing with apartments and buildings it provided its citizens that were government subsidized. It made quality living accommodations affordable by selling these homes to Iraqi citizens at a nominal price. As a result the average Iraqi family could well afford air-conditioning, cars, appliances and VCRs for their homes. In fact the government planned to build the first Arab-made car but had to cancel plans due to the aggression against Iraq.
There is no reason for the Arab people not to pursue the same model afforded by Iraq under president Saddam if a political change such as that which took place in Iraq with the Ba'athist revolution there presented itself in the Arab countries to propel them to the level of life afforded to the Iraqi people in the days when President Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath governed Iraq, a level of life comparable to that of so-called "developed" countries such as those in Europe.
by Ziad Shaker elJishi © 2009 al-Moharer
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