Yes or No, whichever camp wins the Scottish independence vote, nothing will be the same after Thursday September 18. It is Scotland’s Day of Judgment.
Will it prove to be a happy dream come true or a nightmare, blackening the years to come? This is a question that only time will provide the answer to. Whether the United Kingdom stays united or begins the process of splitting, the implications of the historic referendum will affect the European Union, NATO and British relations with many nations, including the United States. The result will also have its effects on Britain’s weight on the international stage, and may reshape the British role in several important organizations, such as the United Nations, the Security Council, the World Trade Organization, and many other international bodies.
In that respect, I wonder how seriously decision makers in Arab capitals took the possibility of Scotland leaving the UK to become an independent state since the referendum date was announced earlier this year. I searched for some facts and figures, but couldn’t find any recently published information. However, I’m sure there must be considerable mutual interests that connect Arab peoples with the land of the Scots, especially in the economic, trade, health and education fields.
By flying to Scotland, the Palestinian bagpipers were, deep down from the depth of their hearts, expressing the dream of all Palestinian peopleBakir Oweida
As for the day after inside Britain, there will be many serious consequences to face, and lots of hard questions to answer, whether the “Yes” camp prevails or the “No” campaign wins.
Squabbling parties unite
Westminster politicians of all three main parties put aside all their political battles, and even their personal grievances, and united in trying to persuade Scottish voters not to split the United Kingdom, hammering us all during the last two weeks with none stop slogans of: Irreversible action, no going back, a breaking point, and it’s the point of no return.
The pledges that were made by leaders of the main parties to dissuade pro-independence voters, such as increasing the power of the Scottish parliament or pumping more money to Scotland’s economy, have created more questions within England and Wales rather than provided answers for the Scots to stop them from leaving the union.
Though I’m not Scottish, Welsh, or English, as a British citizen who wants the United Kingdom to stay united, I found myself questioning the political wisdom of all London’s and Edinburgh’s parties in pushing the Scottish people into just a Yes or No corner. Was not there a third path? Or, is it such a “sin” to have kept the door open for a change of mind? Does it have to be “Irreversible action”? Why not allow for a five-year trial period? Well, that may sound politically naïve but I think that dogmatic thinking that closes all doors to all other options is very dangerous and people of every culture, background and political aspirations should be allowed the freedom of all choices to be made available to them to make their lives prosperous, as well as the lives of future generations.
As we all know, Scots are not the first people with such a consuming passion for divorcing the mother nation in the name of an independence dream. People in Quebec in Canada have tried and, so far, failed. Some Basque separatists in northern Spain used violence and terrorism but failed. Several separatist movements are active around the world, but surely there is a great difference between the national aspiration of any nation and armed groups whose aim is to dismantle a country and divide it into cantons, as we see in Iraq, Syria, and Libya.
Despite my hope that Scotland will stay in the UK, I was cheered as I watched on TV the Palestinian bagpipers who travelled all the way to Edinburgh in support of Scottish independence. Early this year, on January 31, Asharq al-Awsat newspaper published an article I wrote with the title “Scottish Independence and Israeli Intransigence,” which was also published on Al Arabiya News. By flying to Scotland, the Palestinian bagpipers were, deep down from the depth of their hearts, expressing the dream of all Palestinian people: an independent state that lives in peace not only with Israel, but with the whole world. Well, if it is possible for five million Scots, why should it not be so for more than six million Palestinians? Good luck Scotland, whichever road you take to the future.
Bakir Oweida is a journalist who has worked as Managing Editor, and written for several Arab publications based in London. His last executive post was Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, responsible for the Opinions section, until December 2003. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com