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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Arab world gets an F in Human rights!

Surprise Surprise: The Arab world has been issued a report card by the United Nations, saying that it has failed in human development reforms, trailing behind other regions. The report found that the Arab world had less freedom, less democracy and the slowness of tectonic plates in implementing reforms. "Why, among all the regions of the world, do Arabs enjoy the least freedom?" the authors of a United Nations sponsored report ask. Gee, i wonder about the same thing myself! The countries of the Arab world get failing grades in democracy, failing grades in freedom of the press, failing grades in freedom of speech and failing grades in movement toward political and social reforms. In some Arab countries - the report points to Egypt, Sudan and Syria - the state of emergency has become permanent and ongoing, while "none of the dangers warrant it". This is kind of true. The emergency law in egypt did not stop the Islamic Terrorist attacks; the islamist groups were the ones who decided to stop themon their own because it made them extremly unpopular with the egyptian population, especially the attacks against tourists. It's kind of funny - or telling, take your pick- actually, that the people didn't mind the assassination attempts against the government minsiters and the President, as much as they did the attacks that affected Tourism- Egypt's # 1 source of revenue. Anyway, the point is , the emergency law did not serve its purpose, so keeping it around using "combating terrorism" as an excuse is a bunch of self-serving bullshit. Continued application of so-called Emergency laws, and in many cases martial law, deny the citizens many constitutional rights. Basic civil rights and privileges, often taken for granted in most of the world, such as inviolability of the home, personal liberty, freedom of opinion, expression and the press, confidentiality of correspondence, rights of movement and assembly, are widely ignored across much of the Arab world. Bingo, that's the real reason why we have that crap imposed on us. It keeps those in power, well, in power, without being checked or opposed. While political stagnation generally has been the rule, some changes are creeping in. Lebanon has campaigned for the departure of Syrian forces from its territory and Jordan's King Abdullah II on Tuesday appointed a new prime minister, instructing him to speed up reforms. In Syria all hope for reforms now hinges on the forthcoming Baath Party regional conference, expected to take place in May or June. Rumors have it that some "very big changes" are on the way. "The biggest change Syria has seen in 50 years," report Syrian exiles. SyriaComment.com, a usually well-informed blog site, quotes sources outside the country saying that these changes could include emptying all prisons, allowing a free press, authorizing new political parties, allowing the return of thousands of Syrian exiles and issuing Syrian passports to Kurds. Those are indeed great expectations. And you know something? This would never have happend without the US applying pressure on Syria. You know it, and I know it! The problem is, the arabs will never give the US the credit. You really think Bisho and his goons would be allowing this to happen if there was no pressure from Bush and if the US army wasn't next door? And mind you, even if there wasn't a US army in Iraq and Bush wasn't in office, for how long did you think the free-world would let this go on? Even the report mentions it: The UN report cautions that if the Arabs themselves do not take real steps toward change the global powers will step in and lead the process of reform from outside. "Arab countries cannot ignore the fact that the world, especially the powerful players in the global arena, will continue to safeguard their interests in the region," the report stated. I know the conspiracy theorists among you will point at the word "interests" and scream that it is evidence of "western imperialism", but that's not true. Believe it or not it is the world's interest that we stop having repressive undemocratic regimes. The Free-world would like a stable democratic arab region that can join them in the 21st century; not the despotic repressive breeding-ground for terrorism that it is now. If we- as arabs- don't take the initiative and clean ourselves from our opressors and join the civilized world fast, the rest of the world will eventually come over and forcibly clean us, just like the US did in Iraq by removing Saddam Hussein. They will do it, and it won't be because they like us;it will be because we will be a danger to them: An infested area that threatens their well-being and safety if left unchecked. If you think that spreading democracy is a front the US is using to hide its intrests then you got it all twisted; Spreading democracy is in their interest. It is their interest! It's the only way, short of nuking this region to kingdom come, to ensure that something like 911 doesn't happen again. And if things continue to remain the same, and the majority of people refuse to address those issues or pursue those reforms and continue to defend their despotic rulers- like some syrian bloggers do- then, well, we are all digging our own graves here. And if you don't want to take the word of a "Bushloving american agent traitor" like me for it, then be my guest and take the word of the UN report, which words couldn't be a more fitting conclusion to this post. The continued usurping of power in the hands of Arab leaders, be they royalty, military dictatorship or civilians elected without any real competition "has created a kind of political black hole at the center of Arab political life", the authors say. "By twenty-first century standards Arab countries have not met the Arab people's aspirations for development." This status quo "is no longer sustainable". The authors of the report warn, "If the repressive situation in Arab countries today continues, intensified societal conflict is likely to follow," leading to violence in "the absence of peaceful and effective mechanisms to address injustice". The result could be "chaotic upheavals". Amen!


At 4/16/2005 05:48:00 AM, Anonymous Don Cox said...

I think the question should be, not why do the Arab countries not have much freedom, but what were the special features that allowed the development of freedom in some countries such as England? It was a slow and painful development, taking many centuries.

Tyranny, war, incompetent government, disputed successions, executions, etc have been the rule throughout history, not the exception.

Freedom is a rare and valuable prize, it is complicated and hard to keep alive. The US is less free now than twenty years ago (DMCA, Patriot Act). Britain is also getting less free.

At 4/16/2005 02:37:00 PM, Blogger Nadz said...

"If we- as arabs- don't take the initiative and clean ourselves from our opressors and join the civilized world fast, the rest of the world will eventually come over and forcibly clean us"

It's happening already to some degree, but I think Bush at the moment is trying to push us into taking the initiative ourselves. And it looks like it's working.

At 4/16/2005 05:19:00 PM, Anonymous Albatroz said...

I was also going to ask the Sandmonkey if he had read the Patriot Act lately... Could it have been writen by an Arab?...

At 4/17/2005 01:15:00 AM, Anonymous Averroes said...

I would ask albatroz if HE has read the Patriot act. Some time ago, on a political board, i was waxing phlegmatic about it when someone invited me to read it. When i did, it became clear to me that there is very little in the act that is new, so far as our rights are concerned. Most of the worst provisions merely extended government powers from cxriminal investigations to terroist investigations, and updated some powers to include newer technologies. The laws which were amended have been on the books, for the most part, since the late 70s.

So, it's not that I think that the abridgement5s of freedom are A-OK, which i do not, but i wonder why the fuss is being kicked up now, over what is really just a logical extension of laws already on the books. Where were we when the original laws were passed?

At 4/17/2005 07:37:00 AM, Blogger Louise said...

Sandmonkey, as always, you speak the truth. I hope someone is publishing the same kind of analysis in Arabic in some widely read/watched media in the Middle East. If they aren't then make it your mission - please.


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