Arab Enlightened Self-Interest?

April 27, 2006, 12:51 am


By Andrew L. Jaffee

One would think that after the Arab/Muslim on Arab/Muslim carnage in Iraq, like the Samarra bombing; or the Amman, Jordan bombing last year; or Al-Qaeda’s slaughter of 88 innocent Egyptians last July; or Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990; or Kuwait’s ethnic cleansing of 400,000 Palestinians in 1991; or Jordan’s killing of thousands of Palestinians during Black September; or a 30-year Lebanese civil war; or the Iran-Iraq war which claimed 1 million casualties; would all be enough to convince the Arab/Muslim world that it has a problem with violent infighting. And let’s not forget the annual violence at Mecca. Three-hundred trampled to death in this years Hajj; 1,426 killed in the 1990 Hajj; 251 in 2004; etc.

Then there was this week’s bombing in Egypt which killed 24 — mostly Arabs — and injured 60. There actually was a reaction this time. From the Independent:

Egypt was last night contemplating the devastating human and economic costs of the multiple bombing attack, which killed scores of people in the country’s most popular diving and coastal resort.

The potential damage to tourism was underlined last night when around 2,000 local hotel and other service traders and workers staged a rare public demonstration against the three bombings which killed a still disputed number of Egyptians and foreign tourists in the early hours of Saturday.

There was a protest against the Amman bombings last year. And there was a demonstration against the Samarra bombing in Bahrain. Do a few demonstrations make a movement or sea change in Arab/Muslim attitudes? Probably not. But at least it is a start. Better late than never? — a clich?

The recent Egyptian protests can be ascribed to enlightened self-interest. But that is not a bad thing. Most humans are motivated thusly, and rightly, up to a point. It is just disheartening to see how slow the Arab/Muslim world is recognizing the violence that dominates its societies.

I ask again: How soon is now? When will Iran’s populace topple the mullahs? When will Syrians toss out the Assad dynasty? I don’t buy the leftist sophistry that these people don’t want change, and we should just leave them alone. People have an instinctive yearning for freedoms, but the yearning is tempered by the weapons and ultra-violence held against them by their ruling elites.

Tough questions to which I have no panacea solution. What will light the fire of democracy? Still pondering… Please comment.

Stock Photos from 123RF

Related: Arab/Muslim World, Islam, War Against Islamo-fascism

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