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Oct 16, 2008
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Former Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Mu'saher: The Problem of Arab Liberals Is That They Concentrated only on the Peace Process

#1899 | 03:02
Source: Al-Arabiya Network (Dubai/Saudi Arabia)

Following are excerpts of an interview with former Jordanian foreign minister Marwan Al-Mu'asher, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on October 16, 2008:

Marwan Al-Mu'asher: It is true that Arab moderation finds itself in a crisis today. The main reason, in my view, is that the forces of Arab moderation have been concentrating on a single issue – the issue of peace. Despite the great efforts they invested in resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict, they were unsuccessful in reaching a settlement. At the same time, they did not concentrate on the other issues which are important to the citizens today, such as proper government, political pluralism, and general development. Therefore, they have nothing to offer today. They did not succeed in achieving peace, nor did they deal with the issues of general development.


The Arab moderation I am talking about is not confined to the peace process. Today, the Arab citizen faces a choice between regimes that rule without any system of accountability and supervision and between radical forces – sometimes religious – that believe in violence, not in political or cultural pluralism. Most Arab citizens find neither agreeable. In my view, Arab citizens want moderation, based on political pluralism, on peace – whether regional or domestic – and on a society that accepts all its people. This is Arab moderation the way I understand it. I'm not talking about Arab moderation that is linked to U.S. interests, even though we cooperated with the U.S. in the peace process, in order to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, but this does not mean Arab moderation is always linked to U.S. interests.


Interviewer: Do you believe, as many people say, that if free elections were held in all Arab countries, the Islamic radical parties would win them?

Marwan Al-Mu'asher: The success of the radical Islamic parties partly stems from the Arab political regimes' failure to deal with the daily concerns of Arab citizens. I am not in favor of comprehensive and immediate openness. Because if we do not give a chance...

Interviewer: What do you mean by comprehensive openness?

Marwan Al-Mu'asher: Democracy is not based merely on free elections. If we do not have a regime that guarantees the rule of the majority but also the rights of minorities, a regime that guarantees human rights, the empowerment of women, an honest and just legal system, and a free press... Without all these components of a political mature society, we will not be able to achieve a democratic society in the Arab world.

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