“Since when have you compelled people to enslavement, since their mothers birthed them free.”
Omar Ben al-Khattab
The Arab world is the one single region in the world that has little if not changed at all since François Georges-Picot and Mark Sykes determined its majors outlines according to their government’s respective spheres of influence, prior to the downfall of the Ottoman Empire. Throughout the past century, the established dictatorial and regressive regimes have brought very little progress to their people.
For example, and according to UN Human Development Program’s latest reports on the region, “the number of books translated in the Arab world is one fifth of the number translated in Greece. The aggregate total of translated books from the Al-Ma’moon era [in the ninth century] to the present day amounts to 10,000 books – equivalent to what Spain translates in a single year.” Needless to add that in authoritative countries like these, an outcome as ridiculous as this one, can only and almost exclusively be attributed to the willingness of the Arab regimes to maintain their people in a state of cultural coma.
“The ruling power plays a key role in directing knowledge and in influencing its development or retardation. Since a ruling power works to foster knowledge patterns compatible with its orientation and goals, it inevitably resists or even suppresses other patterns that contradict its general direction,” the report concludes.
Knowledge is of a course a central and strategic field in which Arab regimes have knowingly played a retarding role, but that applies also to almost all areas of human development and progress.
Hicham Ben Abdallah al-Alaoui, cousin of King Mohammed VI of Morocco, is a kind of a happy exception from within the Arab establishment. Founder of the Institute for the Trans-regional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia at Princeton University, he has regularly and boldly exposed the scandalous political realities of the Arab world often in an articulate and informed fashion. That caused him serious trouble with the moroccan royal household forcing him into a de facto exile. Apart from that he has participated in many international peace missions, including the UN’s mission in Kosovo.
In his latest article* (fr), “How Do Arab Regimes Modernize Authoritarianism,” Published in last month edition of Le Monde Diplomatique, he explains how Arab regimes have constantly reinvented pretexts to cling to power and how they are now adapting to the new geopolitical realities, to justify their oppressive rule.
(*) The article first appeared on the internet in e-Joussour.net and is an excerpt from a speech the prince gave last March in a conference held in Le Conseil des Relations Internationales at Montréal. The original piece published in the April paper issue of Le Monde Diplomatique might appear in the following days on the official website of the French monthly magazine.
Picture Courtesy of “3arabawy.”