english.daralhayat.com     2003/03/24     23:01 GMT

The Arab Nation At A Crossroads

Hasan Nafi'a     Al-Hayat     2003/03/24

The Arab nation today faces three main challenges threatening Iraq, the Palestinian cause and Arab and Islamic culture.

While these crises are rooted in different periods, they have converged to become a comprehensive crisis of various dimensions. It was fate that decided that the horrible attacks of 9/11 came only a few months after the rise of an extreme right-wing administration in the U.S. as well as in Israel. There is no doubt that the attacks contributed to removing any obstacles that prevented a total overlap in the positions between the countries in their vision over the 'new Middle East.' For the first time in the history of American-Israeli relations, these relations became governed by an ideology instead of political expediency. In this context, Israel succeeded in driving the American administration into adopting a policy toward the region based on a number of assumptions:

1- The attacks of 9/11 were the result of the ruling despotic regimes in the Arab world, and that in order to prevent such attacks from being repeated, significant changes had be made in Arab countries.

2- Such changes should also take place in countries allied to the U.S., such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

3- In order for such changes to be effective, they have to destroy all the military organizations that depend on Islamic ideology.

Consequently, those who subscribed to these ideas believed that striking Iraq and occupying it for a short time would be the best way to start changing the Arab nation. And despite the presence of a strong indication of such an American perception, the Arab nation remained passive, with Arab countries reacting in three different ways: the first group appeared to be dominated by personal hatred to Saddam Hussein, and was prepared to support any effort that would remove him from power. The second group seemed to give in to the notion that it is unable to change the course of events. The third group played many roles and attempted to win over public sympathies. In the end, all three positions came up to nothing.

Here it is the Arab nation becoming a burden to all, while it appears lost in the winds of war. And while the U.S. maybe able to occupy Iraq and change its regime, and even the one in Syria and other Arab countries in the hope of preparing the ground for the rise of Greater Israel, it has to realize that its 'achievements' are only temporary setbacks to a dying regime. It is certain that the Arab people will not surrender.

Mr. Nafi'a is the head of the political studies department in Cairo University.