Obama’s Message to the Arab World | Afzal Hussain

On February 09, 2016, the breaking news was that “Obama urges Arabs to set up inclusive governments”. US President Barack Obama urged Arab countries to establish inclusive (wide-ranging) governments to ensure security in their region during his speech on the opening day of the World Government Summit (2016) held in Dubai, UAE. It is noteworthy that organizations such as United Nations, Gulf Cooperation Council, League of Arab States, World Bank, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development and World Economic Forum were the strategic partners in the World Government Summit.

Each year, in the World Government Summit, government officials, thinkers, policy makers and private sector leaders meet to discuss the best ways to develop better governance, based on the latest developments and future trends in governance that will be beneficial for the governments in the world. The 2016 one had featured significant speeches by prominent speakers such as Jim Yong Kim (the president of the World Bank Group), Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Vice President, UAE), President Paul Kagame (President, Republic of Rwanda) and most notably American President Barack Obama.

However, Obama’s keynote address gave a new significant direction to the Arab world with particular emphasis on the fact that he preferred an Arab country (Sheikhdom) to express his views about the Arab monarchies and autocratic regimes.

President Obama said: “When governments truly invest in their citizens, their education, skills, and health, and universal human rights are upheld, countries are more peaceful, more prosperous and more successful,…….. As we have seen in the tumult across the Middle East and North Africa, when governments do not lift up their citizens, it’s a recipe for instability and strife…..true and lasting security requires an inclusive government that serves all citizens……Please note, across this region and around the world, those of you who embrace reform and truly invest in the lives of your people will continue to have a partner and friend in the United States”.

In the last year of his second term, President Obama is determined to craft a legacy that has the potential to change the world for better.

His message to the Arab Kingdom is the beginning of a new era in the Arab world. One basic reason of the resentment in Muslim world toward the United States is due to America’s alleged support for monarchs and dictators in the Muslim countries. The common man in the Muslim world particularly in Arab countries feels betrayed by the United States; therefore, Muslims generally blame the United States for every wrong including the ones committed by their own rulers.

However, President Obama’s message to the Arab world will be very helpful in soothing anti-American sentiments in the Muslim world. He is trying to change the popular perception about America in the Arab world by calling upon the Arab rulers to have inclusive governments. It is also in the best interest of the United States if the Arab world becomes democratic. Therefore, United States should rectify the historical mistakes committed by successive American administrations by supporting democratic forces, if United States is really interested in winning the hearts and minds in the Muslim world.

The late King Farouk I of Egypt, in one of his fanciful moments, said after a game of cards, “there will be only five kings left in the world, the four in the pack and the King of England.” He was overthrown in the Egyptian revolution of 1952. However, the House of Windsor in United Kingdom has survived (only for being a constitutional monarchy), but the autocratic regimes in the Arab world, due to their atrocities, appear to have run out of steam and are falling down or stuck with civil wars (since the start of Arab Spring in 2011).

This is the age of human rights, democracy and freedom. The down fall of the Arab monarchies and autocratic regimes was and is still inevitable. It is time to get rid of those few houses of powers in the Arab world that have been supporting and financing extremist ideologies which have no place in Islam. Islam is the religion of peace and piousness. The entire world has become hostage to these extremist ideologies. The oil rich so-called royals have already caused irreparable damage to the humanity. They have tarnished the image of Islam (the religion of peace and piousness).

The citizens of the Arab kingdoms/Sheikhdoms are deprived of basic human rights. The freedom of expression and the right to form popular government are alien concepts in Arab world. It is common knowledge that in Arab monarchies/autocratic regimes, there is no respect for human rights guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 (UDHR) adopted by the United Nations. The most regimes in Arab countries are operating in sheer violation of UDHR, 1948 – in particular Article 3 that “guarantees right to life, liberty and security”; Article 5 that states “no one shall be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”; and Article 9 that prohibits “arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.”

Certainly, there is a lot more to be done to protect human rights in most of the Muslim countries including Pakistan but still it is an encouraging sign that Pakistan is in the process of developing transparent mechanisms of governance based on democratic principles. Fortunately, Pakistan has a democratic constitution and as per Article 2A (objective resolution) of the Pakistani constitution, the doctrine of good governance has been made substantive part of the constitution. The doctrine of good governance is considered to be the sheet-anchor of the Pakistani constitution (though not entirely into practice). The fundamental rights (basic human rights) guaranteed in Pakistani Constitution are stipulated in Articles 8 to 28 that are enforceable by the Courts. It is an evolutionary process therefore, it must continue and eventually, Pakistan will become a prosperous country.

The holding of free and fair elections is crucial for a democratic country. The judiciary (independent and impartial) and media (free and objective) in any country will play most important role in ensuring the good governance and protecting the human rights. There is no place for monarchy and dictatorship in Islam(the religion of peace and piousness).It is only a matter of time that all monarchs and dictators will become part of history. Therefore, the formation of inclusive (wide-ranging) governments based on the principles of genuine social democracy is the only way forward for the world in general, and the Arabs in particular.

Source: http://nation.com.pk/columns/16-Feb-2016/obama-s-message-to-the-arab-world

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