In politics, decision-makers need to re-examine and re-arrange priorities that serve their vision, goal and country, and this is a natural part of decision making, which happens whenever certain changes that call for a reevaluation occur.
We can mimic this rearrangement of priorities when looking into the art of rearranging hostilities. It is well known that there is no permanent ally in politics just like there isn’t a permanent enemy.
Failure to adapt
Positions change and develop according to interests, national security and the desired future. In the Middle East, there are currents, parties, movements and organizations that have been frozen for more than five decades and could not re-arrange their priorities or hostilities since then. This deadlock in a speedy era is like walking against time and it leads to decline in vision and cultural participation and also affects political status and influence.
The region has witnessed political storms, in fact devastating earthquakes, but none of them could develop any vision or achieve any change because they believe that political stances are sacred positions or an ideology that must not be touched. This is the best recipe for political failure: ignoring flexibility and not searching for the best while relying on the past as it is. Perhaps this outlook had some benefits before, but it is extremely harmful when strictly adopted in a different time with different challenges.
As an example, let’s look at the relationship of the Gulf with the state of Iraq. The relationship was amicable during the Iraq-Iran war. The Gulf States continued to support Iraq during the eight years of that war. Iraq came out victorious, but switched its loyalty and decided to invade the State of Kuwait, entering it in early August 1990 and annexing it with full military force. All those rational in the Gulf and in the world thus knew well that relations would turn upside down so soon from friendship to enmity.
Many movements, parties, currents — whether nationalists, leftists and organizations of political Islam — have remained stuck in their ideological outlook and have completely ignored the convulsions in the pool of regional politics. They have failed to develop any understanding or perception of the events. The international coalition defeated Saddam Hussein's army and sent it back to Iraq with the imposition of international sanctions against him. This only resulted in more inertia and further stubbornness in hanging on to the slogans without any ability to overcome or rearrange priorities or rearrange hostilities.
Since Khomeini’s revolution, Iran has through exporting the revolution sought to interfere in the internal affairs of Arab countries, by launching direct wars like the one Khomeini fought against Iraq for eight years and lost. This was followed by Khamenei who adopted another strategy not based on a direct military confrontation, but on infiltrating Arab societies through proxy movements and militias. He succeeded in his endeavor to the point that some Iranian officials proudly claim that the Iranian regime now controls four Arab capitals.
This is a very big change in the region and everyone should have paid attention to that new, real and imminent danger, but these groups of thinkers, intellectuals and currents were unable to see the extent of change and thus failed to make any development to arrange priorities or hostilities.
Today, there are two major hostile schemes working against Arab states and their peoples: one is sectarian and the other is fundamentalist. Those who failed to see the extent of change before still lack insight as those who do not consider these two projects as two hostile projects are ignorant or impotent or an agent to one of them. Finally, it is the ability of man to develop, understand and change that governs his position and influence, and the same applies to currents, parties and even nations.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi is a Saudi writer and researcher. He is a member of the board of advisors at Al-Mesbar Studies and Research Center. He tweets under @abdullahbjad