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Men of change versus men of flattery

Abdullah Bishara

Published: Updated:

Who changes the world, and who rocks it? This privilege is not limited to buildings or military men, or politicians. The world has changed from the innovations of scientists and the genius of explorers, and in some cases, adventurers, in geography, medicine, science, and creativity with the rise of research trends that accompanied the European industrial revolution.

But the world, whether in the past or at present, relied on the balance of life, between advocates of change and the enthusiasm of those who engage in flattery. If the creative circles were hushed, the flatterers were zealously loud, and often, these voices of flattery are within bodies comprising governments that run this sprawling world.

I can say that the world's largest centers of flattery are located in New York City, particularly in the United Nations building, where I spent ten years listening and also participating in the unstoppable aggregator of superfluities in the great hall, in various committees, and in information negotiation sessions, where everyone lists the virtues of his or her country, praises its wisdom, and lauds its policies, and commends the good intentions of its leaders, and reinforces this by loyalty to the UN principles and fulfilling its obligations, and praising the contribution of this nation to their strength, permanence, and success.

All of them sing this tune in different tones, mastering its cords.

A man walks past the United Nations headquarters in New York on March 11, 2021, one year after the pandemic was officially declared. (AFP)
A man walks past the United Nations headquarters in New York on March 11, 2021, one year after the pandemic was officially declared. (AFP)

Music inside the building is the vocabulary of rhetoric and contests to use the most poetic expressions. The Security Council, rife with harsh confrontations, these songs detract from glorifying the homeland, while other council members seek to expose the misconduct of the states which boast of their commitment to the UN charter, but that does not guarantee the Security Council's ability to issue condemnation or rebuke. Boasting and self-congratulation stays within the General Assembly, while complaints go to the Security Council.

There are differences between accountability, sanctions, and condemnations controlled by the Security Council, and self-congratulatory statements issued in the halls of the General Assembly. Their decisions have political and moral dimensions that do not affect the interests nor harm the reputation of the nations.

Those who reflect upon the UN structure are astonished at the vast chasm between the body of changes represented by the Security Council and those engaging in maintaining the status quo in other halls. I'm not talking only about the wide gap in the power of the noble council, i.e., the Security Council permanent members and the ambassador council in the General Assembly. The gap here is not limited to the powers of the nobles and their ability to change the map of the world, but also the euphoric tone of change, as well as the used vocabulary and its candidness, all of this comes from the basket of lukewarm speeches of the big permanent state members.

A man looks at his mobile phone in front of the flag of the Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, in Kuwait City. (File photo: AP)
A man looks at his mobile phone in front of the flag of the Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, in Kuwait City. (File photo: AP)

I left the UN in 1981 and moved to Saudi Arabia to establish the Gulf Cooperation Council, where I spent twelve years very different from the previous ten. In Riyadh, I moved between Gulf cities and capitals. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the country and the friendliness of its people, coexisted with its social system, and followed its diplomacy. We, those living in Riyadh aside from its people, namely the Arab and foreign embassies and visiting journalists, were convinced that Saudi Arabia was not immune to the winds of change. We relied on the Saudi educational and cultural openness and the growing official Saudi presence in international political, economic, social, and even sports organizations.

Saudi Arabia has been a member of the IMF's management and global development programs, and a significant contributor to financial management. Saudi Arabia controls the diplomacy of global oil and energy, and is a commercial energy leader. Most importantly, the Saudi leadership is firmly aware of diplomatic moderation, and the importance of balancing the producers and consumers' right to commit to moderate prices, to avoid global economic setbacks. And preserving the rights of producers through dialogue that strengthened the trust of large consumers in the wise Saudi decision, which is aware of the imperative and strategic exceptionalism of the Kingdom and the GCC countries in maintaining world peace, economic prosperity and quality of life for the people of the world, in complete harmony with the role the world expects from the Kingdom to maintain this strategic security cooperation.

From this dynamic that brought the Kingdom to a seat in which it participates with developed industrial countries in controlling the course of the world politically, economically, and possibly life too, comes the inevitability of change. With the era of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia started a new chapter that ushered in the fourth Saudi state.

I watched the extensive interview with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on future prospects. I follow his bold decisions on economic and social aspects, fighting corruption, and his extraordinary audacity in the cleanup he oversaw, which delayed the Kingdom's use of talented Saudis in various political, economic, social, industrial sectors and arts. And his eagerness highlighted the Kingdom's appetite for science and technology and developing the talents through vital dialogue with different cultures.

Like other people in this country, we wonder about what causes our nation to take a step forward, stop, and then retreat, in an environment dominated by questions about the lack of vitality and blocked dialogue channels of ideas and jurisprudence that generate the appropriate outcomes, and from which the citizen recognizes future plans. Without dialogue and declared conversations with public opinion, rumors abound, and the ill-intentioned voices thrive with gossip.

The hope was that Kuwait would begin the gradual privatization plan that creates innovations and creativity when spaces open up, and the state makes a strategic economic decision and is serious about cutting back the public sector. Certainly, the instinct for trade which played the biggest role in Kuwait's life before oil will flourish upon the return of incentives in the right environment.

And finally, I would like to address the remarks of Mr. Marzouq al-Ghanim, speaker of the Kuwaiti National Assembly, according to Al-Jarida daily on 18 May 2021, in which he said that the assembly will hold a session next week, meaning this week, to discuss the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, and urge the legislative committee to expedite the anti-normalization draft law with the Zionist entity.

In 2002, the Beirut Arab Summit adopted the initiative of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who put forward a possible solution to the land-for-peace equation. Kuwait affirms its commitment to that resolution, which was rejected by Israel yet still has global support and is the only formula on which positions converge. This initiative has become the most popular solution at the UN and in international forums.

Kuwaiti diplomacy has operated since 1961 in Arab and world arenas, without restrictions, garnering experience and achieving success, confidently dealing with various issues, backed by the dual strong support of the government and parliament.

As the old Arabic saying goes, "The safety of the weak person lies in his wisdom."

This article was originally published and translated from Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas.

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