Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Black Wednesday: An Orgy of Violence

Less than three hundred yards from Madinat al-Malahi, across the street from the corniche where MP Eido, his son and eight other people were murdered in a car bomb today, is my brother's apartment. Fortunately, aside from shattered kitchen windows, he and his family are unharmed.

There is nothing like a personal connection to bring such an event into sharp focus in your mind's eye, to make you feel its impact. I will not pretend to understand the reasons behind this act or try to assign blame; there are plenty of pundits who have ready answers and theories.

What sickens, angers and depresses me even more than the immediate impact of this event is the wider context. The whole region seems to be unraveling in a crescendo of violence. Where shall I begin? On this very same day in Iraq, al-Qaida types, trying to inflame sectarian passions even more, saw fit to destroy the minarets of a Samarra Shia mosque that they had previously attacked. In Gaza, thirty Palestinians died at the hands of other Palestinians as Fatah and Hamas go at each other without mercy and without regard for lives of the civilians that they claim to represent and protect from Israel. In Nahr el-Bared, Fateh el-Islam, ensconced among innocent Palestinian civilians, vows to fight to the last man even it means destruction of the whole camp.

What is wrong with us? by us, I mean us Arabs, collectively. Why is it that violence seems to be the only alternative that we can come up with for conflict resolution. It would be half as bad if the violence was directed, purposeful rather than vindictive, senseless, and ultimately self destructive. Is is false pride and a distorted sense of honor that drives this behavior? Is it unthinking fanaticism? Is it all the other -isms (sectarianism, Arabism, nationalism) pushed to the extreme that have us mired in our self-made quicksand? Why haven't we learned to turn our swords into ploughshares? Are Western critics of Arab society right in their glib assessment that we don't do much that is right, that our warts by far outweigh our beauty spots?

All these are rhetorical questions; most don't have simple answers. All the contentions, however, contain a least a grain -some, a truckload- of truth. In this discourse, I am not discounting Western malfeasance, past and present, in molding our region. However, one has to draw the line somewhere and start taking responsibility for ones own failures. Neither colonialism, nor imperialism, nor, for that matter, Zionism, made Fatah and Hamas start behaving like thugs toward each other in an all out grab for power and influence.

If my approach seems on-sided, it is because I am responding with anger at today's events. I fully realize that there are many nuanced expalantions for the different conflicts. However, there are also disturbing similarities of purpose and methods across the region especially among fanatic fundamentalists that promises further senseless conflict.

7 comments:

Fares said...

Abu Kareem, brilliant writing as usual. However you don't need to apologize for being angry and you don't need to hide who you think is the master of chaos in Lebanon this summer.

As I said in my post:"As long as Michel Kilo and his friends remain in Syrian prisons you (meaning Bashar Assad) are suspect number one in all the crimes and chaos happening in Lebanon."

I am very outraged by this recent bombing, but I am relieved to hear that your brother is OK. and yes you are right most of our problems and tragedies are internal and we do nothing to prevent them from happening.

Some arabya comments blames the victim for turning agaisnt Syria...do we need more proof from people with these mentalities???

Sadly Lebanon is going back to the past by an outside force and it won't be people from inside Lebanon like they did 30 years ago...Allah Kareem and we should be praying for better days.

Philip I said...

abu kareem

It does not take much to inflame Arab passions and trigger endless cycles of violence and revenge killing.

Most Arabs are below 25 years of age. They are immature, poorly educated, frustrated, unemployed, uncompromising, idealistic and tribal in their attitudes and behaviour. In short, they are easily antagonised and manipulated and there is no shortage of despicable evil forces in the Arab world and Israel which are igniting and fanning the fires of hatred among various communities.

This is the price we pay for lack of democracy, justice and economic progress in our region.

The Syrian Brit said...

http://syrianbrit.blogspot.com/2007/06/what-is-happening-in-palestine.html

Amr T said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Majhool said...

Hesitant to support or go against the Syrian Regime, I tried to list major deliverables that I (merely a Syrian citizen) would like for the Syrian government to achieve to get my support:

1) The Palestinian Cause:
a. Support (politically and economically) consolidated, legitimate, accountable, and moderate leadership capable of negotiating a peace deal with Israel.
b. Take conservative approach towards Islamists groups by
i. Engaging these groups into the decision making process/
ii. Apposing their unilateral arm actions against Israel or other Palestinian groups.
2) Lebanon:
a. Support a consolidated pro-Syrian, accountable, & strong government in Lebanon
i. Improve relations with Sunni and Maronite communities
ii. Support the independence of the Lebanese government
iii. Replace the corrupt pro-Syria base of support in Lebanon by more accountable and legitimate (representative) base.
iv. Eliminate all Syrian financial corruption in Lebanon
v. Work with the Lebanese government to gradually and systematically eliminate all armed militias including Hizbollah
vi. Support replacing the confessional system with accountable representative system that will strengthen the Lebanese state
3) Israel
a. Negotiate a comprehensive peace deal with Israel good enough that will help Syria’s alignment with the Arab block.
b. The return of the Golan Heights
4) Syria
a. Improve the legitimacy of the Syrian Government
i. Create a new more representative parliamentary law
ii. Come up with a more legitimate platform to replace the “national progressive front”
b. Improve the accountability of the Syrian Government
i. Eliminate emergency laws
ii. Enforce the rule of law and curb corruption
iii. Improve freedom of press.
c. Reconcile with segments of the society associated with the Muslim Brotherhood especially those who did no participate in acts of violence. Ease travel restrictions and put an end to acts of retribution towards their families.
d. Curb extremism by allowing civil community-run and driven secular institutions to operate freely. ( Tala2e3 and Shabibeh are not working)

How far do you guys think the Syrian government is from delivering the above

Abu Kareem said...

Ya Majhool,

I love it! I agree with everything you have listed. In fact, I will repost this comment, with proper attribution.

Anonymous said...

Shiklo Homsi hal Majhool.. wa fehemkon kfayeh sedi..