The current situation in the Arab world is very fragile and cannot tolerate another blow, otherwise it will break apart to such an extent that it will be difficult to put back together, at least not in the near future.
This situation cannot continue for eternity and several Arabs realize this danger. Experts believe that it is time to draft a vision for a new Arab system that can overcome this fragile state. It must take into consideration several central issues, such as:
- Past experiences and the need to avoid committing old mistakes.
- The Arab system cannot be isolated from modern global life and the demands of the 21st century. It cannot be separated from current regional developments. The new proposed system must be attractive, not repellent, and set guidelines to allow us to interact with the world around us.
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- The new system must be built on the basis of “joint interests”, not “joint emotions.” The interests may include tourism, trade, investment and job opportunities among others.
- It must focus on economic reform in all Arab countries. Arab cooperation must support these reforms on the basis of providing legal protection for trade and investor capital and encouraging small and medium enterprises.
- It must take a firm stance and launch a joint comprehensive campaign to combat corruption that is rampant in several parts of the Arab world. This entails establishing a legal framework for Arab efforts to fight corruption and set up the necessary agencies to achieve this goal.
- Arab civil society organizations must be given the opportunity to act freely in supporting societies and the economic and social development process.
Arabs make up the majority of the residents and they should determine the identity of this region, which will boast nearly half a billion people in the coming yearsAmr Moussa
I say this, while taking into consideration that the new Arab system must maintain communication with the regional system, which will ultimately grow in wake of recent strategic developments, such as those linked to Iran, Israel and Turkey’s policies towards the Arab Gulf, Fertile Crescent region and its surrounding regions. Ethiopia’s new policy in the Horn of Africa, migration policies in Europe and terrorist organizations must also be taken into account.
At the same time, the new Arab vision must propose a modern approach on human rights, freedoms and responsibilities. It must link central concepts with the world’s advancement in a way that does not infringe on the former and become isolated from the latter.
In this regard, we should rebuild positive ties with different religious sects and movements, especially between Sunnis and Shiites. We must realize that the conflict between these two sects has weakened Islam as a whole and rendered it vulnerable to criticism and defamation.
We must also restore harmony between Muslims and Christians on the basis of a sense of national belonging, which is a right entitled to everyone. This is the solid foundation on which a society that cares about mental health and a sound mind can be built.
Moreover, this is an Arab world that includes Arabs, Kurds, Berbers, Turkmen and others. It also includes Muslims, Christians and others. Arabs make up the majority of the residents and they should determine the identity of this region, which will boast nearly half a billion people in the coming years.
Leaders and planners will not be able to develop an effective equation for the new Arab regional system without a certain degree of social security and internal unity. This can only be established through wise economic and social policies that are able to achieve a qualitative shift in the healthcare, education, housing and other vital sectors that our people deserve.
Foreign policy, meanwhile, has long been an extension of internal ones, whether on the national or regional levels. This demands us all to set a strong foundation for an effective regional policy through bolstering the competency of the national Arab state and unleashing its potential.
This is a new vision for our region, which has been torn apart by chaos and which is bracing for more surprises. Whether or not several of us accuse foreign conspiracies and meddling in playing a major role in tearing apart our region, we must acknowledge that the failure of the Arab system was one of the main reasons that allowed this chaos to spread and for this interference to take place.
In order to transform this current fragile state into a healthy one, I call on the Arab society, especially research and science centers, to begin to study a vision for a new Arab system. They should not wait for instructions, but instead take the initiative to call for a general discussion and present ideas and documents among each other. These centers can consult and coordinate with each other so that they can come up with a single vision.
This general discussion must include Arab civil society institutions in the Gulf, Levant, North Africa and Horn of Africa so that all positions and common and different interests are taken into consideration.
This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat.
Amr Moussa is a veteran Egyptian politician and diplomat and former Secretary-General of the Arab League. He tweets @amremoussa.