Kuwaiti businessman and political commentator, Ahmad Al-Sarraf was interviewed by Al-'Alam TV, an Iranian channel broadcasting in Arabic to the Arab world, and called for the secularization of the Arab world. Following are excerpts:
Ahmad Al-Sarraf: We have 22 Arab countries which speak Arabic, and the majority's religion is Islam, but this element of the Islamic religion has caused more division than unity. I'll give you a better example: In South America there are common roots, the majority is of the same color, the religion is one and the religious school of thought is one, but there is no chance these people will talk of unity. Why do we like to speak of unity? Because we are weak as individuals and weak as a collective and so we are following a dream. Our legs are paralyzed and cannot carry us, yet we want to fly. We all constantly think of flying.
Our countries must have progress, if only the lowest level of cultural progress. We need democracy, we need the right to elect our leaders and rule ourselves a decent level of education and decent economic growth. Only then can we start thinking about dreams of unity. As I said, we think of university but forget to study the books of the grade we're in. We are in a bad stage. I will give you an example. You are an expert who understands, correct me if I'm wrong. There are more than 280 associations uniting Arab countries, beginning with the Arab League and ending with the Philatelic Association, the Cycling Association, the Scouts, and the soccer and volleyball associations. They are all meaningless. Their directors are appointed because of their military record, because of their political background, or because of special interests.
There is not a single road connecting any of the Arab countries. Between the two wealthiest Arab countries, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, there is no highway.
Why are we the only ones in the world complaining all the time and blaming Zionist colonialism? I understand that the Zionist colonialism is in Palestine, but what did it do to Yemen to make it such a backward country. I am speaking of the accumulation of centuries of backwardness, and not of one specific generation, president, country, or act. If the Arab countries do not become secular and democratic, we have no future, and we'll remain in our backwardness until Judgment Day. There is no solution in the horizon besides turning the so-called Arab countries into secular countries, like in Europe before it was united. The Libyan leadership lost, by a simple calculation I made, 600 ? 700 billion petrodollars in the past 30 years, but as a business man, I've never met a single Libyan millionaire on the face of the earth. Maybe I have no luck and there are dozens such millionaires. The leadership did not steal, the people did not steal, there are no millionaires and at the same time there is no prosperity. This is an extremely peculiar and indescribable situation.
Moderator Must there be millionaires?
Al-Sarraf: So where did the money go? The officers remain officers and continue to rule and the Colonel [i.e. Qaddafi] does not even want to be promoted, while outside Libya, you don't run into Libyan millionaires who go about the world hanging out in casinos causing scandals. Libyan millionaires keep a very low profile. This is very peculiar. Meanwhile, he [Qaddafi] downs a plane here and a plane there...