Asharq Al-awsat English https://aawsat.com/english Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper http://feedly.com/icon.svg

Arabs and Civil Peace: Between Foreign Allegiances and Colonial Ambitions

Arabs and Civil Peace: Between Foreign Allegiances and Colonial Ambitions

Saturday, 4 July, 2020 - 10:45

Observing the developments in some Arab countries, one feels that there is some resilient problem that threatens its security and stability. The scenes in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and others are enough to tell us every story and to narrate every detail of the tragedy of our Arab world. There are indeed many factors that have led to this or that situation, but we are trying here to focus on a partiality that undermines social harmony and stability. Some see that the struggle, violence and war are part of human nature as opposed to rationality that is a result of law (implementing a system).


Thinker Jacques Derrida, especially in his last writings, diagnosed the state as a balance between two sides, likening the relationship between law and nature to the mechanical body, with the former being a system for communal living while the latter, i.e. the social contract, is an individual will. But which precedes the other? Law or nature? We do not have to know, but naturally, what we are interested in understanding is the notion of interest, or benefit, as it is the link between the two. Interest represents the desire or the free will of this or that individual, and consequently, their relation to the state is embodied through an interest that the law needs to regulate. It is in this case like sovereignty as described by Carl Schmitt, a kind of “perpetual state of exception” as it always precedes the law and has no value if it is not implemented on the ground.


This introduction has a single purpose: How do we protect civil peace in society, while it is, in my estimation, a noteworthy approach to the notion of a contract between the law as a mind and the social contract insofar as it is a relation of benefits, reaching a higher purpose, achieving civil peace in society.


We find that the essence of the problem in what is happening in our Arab world does not lie with Arab citizens, but the latter is a product of the former. In other words, citizens are victims of their circumstances. These behaviors prove that the relationship between the state and society in some Arab countries is rooted in suspicion and the barrier that results from that is a loss of trust. For example, we remember Saddam Hussein’s reckless actions or Gaddafi’s terrorist acts, or even Nouri al-Maliki’s era in Iraq, or what the Houthis are doing in Sanaa, let alone what the head of the Government of National Accord is doing in Libya, opening the door for a Turkish invasion that will lay Arab lands bare, and so on.


So, is civil peace possible in the Arab world? Daily developments reveal this ambiguous scene, while Arab countries have become infiltrated and are suffering from foreign intervention, such as those of Iran and Turkey. What is disgusting is that this is happening with the aid of local leaders and figures, such as al-Sarraj, Hassan Nasrallah and al-Houthi, who are tampering with the resources of peoples and nations. The tools of these countries are known for their hateful action, murders, conflicts and inciting sectarian sedition. These are all systematic projects and methods practiced on societies by countries that support terrorism and extremist groups that have agendas.


On the other hand, we find that the transformations of revolutionary movements in Europe came as a result of the theories of the French and English Enlightenment thinkers who paved the way for a movement of critical thinking in the 18th century that laid the grounds for the construction of a new vision for society that is based on democracy, freedom and equality, and called for an epistemological rupture with the Church and the reliance on reason.


There are other reasons for fear among Arabs that revolve around sectarian and religious conflicts that threaten civil peace. There are many tensions, such as the Sunni-Alawite-Kurdish tension in Syria, the confrontation between Sunnis and Shiite, tribal conflicts with militias in Iraq, sectarian division in Lebanon, tribal and sectarian conflicts in Yemen, and disputes between Islamists and other social forces in some countries. All of these are evidence of divisions that prevent a transformation toward permanent civil harmony.


There is a need to reconsider the categories of the figure who reach positions of power and belong to parties that dominate them a priori and have affinities and loyalties to certain ideologies, references or entire states. Thus, we find those in leadership positions staking the interests of their people at the service of this or that faction, and Nouri al-Maliki may be among the ideal models that have taken this approach. The state’s relationship with citizens is addressed by a constitution that meets the people’s aspirations, consolidates social cohesion and closes the rifts that foreign opportunists can exploit, as Erdogan is doing in Libya today.


These are the mistakes of Arab politicians and leaders who lack nationalism and any sense of responsibility. They do not care for their people nor their interests, those of its states or even the social contract that governs their relationship with their people. This brings us back to Derrida’s description of the relationship between the law and social contract. All of this chaos can only be dissipated through the rule of law, the abandonment of opportunism, the exploitation of events and circumstances and the lure of power, all of which find an embodiment, for example, in the Muslim Brotherhood.


Experience has shown that some leaders have sabotaged civil peace with their unjust actions, prioritizing their ideological convictions and factional interests over the interests of their nations, dragging them into the shadows of civil war and instability against their will.


Other opinion articles

Editor Picks

Multimedia