July 10, 2003 Special Dispatch No. 536

'Long Live Dictatorship': An Arab Columnist on Dictatorships in the Arab World

July 10, 2003
Special Dispatch No. 536

In an article titled "Long Live Dictatorship" that appeared in the United Arab Emirates daily Al-Itihad on June 29, 2003, columnist Abdallah Rashid examined the roots of the Arab street's rejection of democracy. The following is the article in full:[1]

'Do We Really Seek Freedom?'

"The entire world is perplexed about us - the Arabs - and no longer knows whether we truly live on this planet or came from another planet. Are all the Arab peoples in need of psychological treatment, or are we a hopeless case for which psychological treatment will make no difference? The whole world is perplexed about us: Do the Arab peoples support democracy or not? Do they want their freedom, or have they gone into the dungeon of repression, pleased and satisfied with handcuffs on their wrists, bonds of steel on their ankles, and prisoner's collars about their necks?"

"The entire world is perplexed about us. Do we really seek our freedoms and attempt to rid ourselves of ages of oppression, deprivation, and domination? Do the Arab peoples really want to extricate themselves from the claws of the repressive regimes, or are they addicted to a life of decline, lowliness, and acceptance of humiliation? Have the Arab peoples become addicted to a life that is like being thrown into the darkness of the dungeon? Have they become addicted to floggings with whip and lash, to the dissolving [of victims] in acid, to the blows on the back of the head, to humiliation and insult?"

'The Arab Psychology Has Become Addicted to the Dictatorial Pattern'

"In light of ongoing events, it appears that the Arab psychology has become addicted to the dictatorial model of life. Indeed, all the Arab peoples – all of them – have become completely addicted to dictatorship, oppression, and regimes that beat [the people] on their heads with their shoes, and hit them below the belt. At first glance, it seems to the world that a powerful craving for dictatorship flows in the blood of the Arab peoples, to the point of chronic addiction, from which they can never be freed – that they will die, as [a] fish dies out of the sea, if they awaken one day to a non-oppressive regime or a regime that does not practice dictatorship and humiliation."

"I do not exaggerate by saying this, because within each one of us there is a little dictator who feels gratification when he is repressed by those stronger and more brutal than he, and who at the same time does not refrain from acting this same way, in his milieu, towards those weaker and inferior in status. And when that milieu expands, he gradually imposes this on more people, so that when this sphere grows and he is the one who decides first and last, and who gives the orders, dictatorship spreads and it is imposed on all the people. Thus yesterday's oppressed become today's oppressor; yesterday's subjugated become today's subjugator; he that was wronged now becomes the wrongdoer; the humiliated becomes the arrogant."

'Everyone Wants His Piece of the Pie in Iraq '

"Many Arab writers have gone berserk cursing the U.S. night and day for taking its time establishing democracy in Iraq – but they refuse to enter into any talk about the [lack of] desire of the Iraqi people, with all its factions, to experience democracy. So far, no Iraqi side has agreed to sit with the other side to arrive at an understanding regarding Iraq 's future as a united and sovereign country. Everyone wants his piece of the pie, and everyone rejects the other. The inside [i.e. Iraqis from Iraq] rejects the [Iraqis returning from exile] and vice versa – the left rejects the right, the right eradicates the left from being present, and so on and so forth."

"Does the Iraqi model of dealing with the problem of implementing democracy mean that the culture of negating the other flows in the blood of the Arab peoples to the point where they are incapable of ridding themselves of the enslavement to dictatorship and of repressive regimes? Does this mean that the Arab peoples have become addicted to [the point that they] accept repression, brutality, and an iron-fist policy, to the point where any talk about democracy may cause them horror and hallucination?"

"Has the worship of a dictator and of oppression become the foundation of Arab thought and culture, while turning towards democracy is the exception?"

[1] Al-Itihad (UAE), June 29, 2003.

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