In a sarcastic op-ed titled "A Society for Funeral Services," Al-Hayat editor-in-chief Ghassan Charbel harshly criticized the endless internecine fighting in the Arab world, saying that the toll is so high that the Arabs are running out of space to bury their dead.
The following are excerpts from the article, as it appeared in the English edition of Al-Hayat:
"There is a need for a serious Arab organization of a strict and active administration, a huge budget, an ability to take rapid action, and teams that work 'round the clock. There is a need for a new Arab organization that is not paralyzed by bureaucracy or stricken by corruption. This required new organization should be a central body with local branch offices in a number of Arab cities.
"There is a need for a serious Arab organization that does not practice politics, or compose poetry in praise of Arab solidarity. It should not be involved in illiteracy programs, education problems, or environmental disasters. It should not talk about reforms, women's rights, or the right to use peaceful nuclear technology. Its members should not give lectures on globalization.
"There is a need for a serious Arab organization whose interests do not include a discussion of the position held by the Arabs in this century – a position which is already slipping through their fingers! It should not talk about where the Arabs fit in a unipolar world, or in their region. It should not be concerned about the limits of a potential Iranian attack or the Turkish role.
"There is a need for a serious Arab organization of a huge budget. Its only task would be to effectively play the role of a burial society, as the dead in our region are many...
"The first item on its agenda should be setting up coffin factories throughout the Arab region – which extends from the ocean to the Gulf. These factories should employ the latest technology to double their productivity, as the demand is high.
"This is not an easy task. So, the second item must be to set up an unlimited number of morgues to receive the dead bodies waiting for their families to recognize them or waiting for the coffins to arrive.
"There is a need for a serious Arab organization, the third item on whose agenda should be to assign an army of Arab engineers to find suitable areas to build, not universities, schools or institutions, but cemeteries, which – according to those returning from Baghdad – no longer have enough space for new bodies.
"Anyone who thinks to accuse me of pessimism should pause for a while. He should first read what is in today's newspapers about Baghdad. He can also follow what the satellite [channels] say, too. He can revisit the first pages of the Arab newspapers over the past few days. They all speak of death. Terrorism strikes in Algeria. Suicide bombers blow themselves up in Casablanca. Somalis die for many reasons. Those who feared Lebanization now fear Iraqization. The image of the new Middle East is peeping out from Baghdad. It will be a region for bloody divorce, elimination, and cancellation.
"There is a need for an active Arab body with a huge budget to bury the victims of confused wars and seditions of different kinds. It shall be responsible for bidding farewell to those countries on whose unity we used to wager, and to bury the Arabs, or some of them, with all their dreams."