We Do Not And Will Not Understand! Arab Regimes Lost Prestige And Began To Teeter On The Brink

29 December 2011

By Tariq Alhomayed

In general, what a year it has been. There are still open wounds, and there is still smoke rising from the impact of the Arab earthquake which has shaken regimes, and challenged concepts once deemed unchallengeable. Arab regimes lost prestige and began to teeter on the brink; some of them fell, others were destroyed. One ruler fled, another killed, a third imprisoned, a fourth signed an agreement to relinquish power, and a fifth remains fighting his inevitable fate.

It was a stunning year, and for those in our profession it was the year of all years. Yet it was also puzzling and depressing that many of us from the media, including some journalists, young and old, and even some intellectuals, including academics, did not ask the following, fundamental question: what went wrong? this question has never been raised, not even when some Arab countries first gained independence, or after the era of military coups. The question has not been raised in spite of all the wars that have plagued our region; it was not even raised the day the peace process failed. The question was never posed after the Islamic groups infiltrated our societies, and revolted against everything in a quest for power, until al-Qaeda emerged among us, with devotees and sympathizers. Today, an earthquake is taking place that has rocked five regimes to their core, and still no one has posed the question in earnest, whether on television, through books, or even in a reputable, insightful article. Although a few seem to have understood, they are rare!

The reason why this question has not been asked in earnest is down to several important factors, and perhaps there are others we do not know. Yet primarily, those leading the Arab public opinion seem to have gone mad, ignoring their knowledge and expertise, even the experiences of the people, and acting contrary to the masses, deliberately or otherwise. There are many examples of this from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, Yemen to Syria, Morocco, and the entire Arab world. The year 2011 was, for many of those who are supposed to be leading Arab public opinion, a ceremony of madness in every respect. The simplest example of this could in fact be the increasing influence of "Twitter". How can a serious researcher, for example, raise important questions such as "What happened?" on Twitter, when limited to 140 characters? We cannot take this seriously at all.

The other reason why the "What went wrong?" question has not been asked is that our culture, our education and our media have not engrained public opinion with the concept of cultural and academic accountability. How else can we explain the ceremony of madness that has inflicted a large part of our intellectuals and journalists? Most of the discussions about the Arab Spring, or the Arab earthquake, are superficial, sterile, and dwell upon the same old methods of debate in the Arab world, ever since the 1950s, using outdated concepts that have tarnished our culture.

So, as long as the Arabs, and specifically our intellectuals, do not pose the serious question "What went wrong in the Arab world?", then 2011 ends telling us that no one knows, or has even considered, what happened. This is what many previous years have already ended up telling us in our region, for nearly five decades. Thus, the summary of 2011 is that we did not understand, and unfortunately I do not think we will understand!


Tariq Alhomayed is the Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, the youngest person to be appointed that position. He holds a BA degree in Media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, and has also completed his Introductory courses towards a Master's degree from George Washington University in Washington D.C. He is based in London.



Add Comments

Comments & Debates :-: التعليقات والمحاورات

:-: Go Home :-: Go Top :-: