Weep Arab World, Weep!

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It is a tragedy and crisis at Europe’s doorstep but the real tragedy is that of the Arab world

The pictures in most newspapers in Europe and America are those of dead bodies washed up on Europe’s shores. These are desperate Arabs mostly Syrians fleeing the war. It is a tragedy and crisis at Europe’s doorstep but the real tragedy is the Arab world. The heartbreaking image of the innocent toddler washed up on a Turkish beach after the boat he was in with his fleeing family capsized reveals the senseless brutality that is going on in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Arab world.It is a picture that should shake the Arab world and especially the Syrian regime whose relentless assault has led to this humanitarian disaster. The murderous takfiris and jihadis who have created this turmoil have also paralyzed the Arab world, depriving it of its peace and security. The UN says that more than 2,500 people have died while attempting to reach Europe. Land travel is also fraught with danger crossing dangerous deserts. Attacked by merciless bandits and exposed to the elements, these desperate people are risking their most precious possession – their lives.

Some who reach the land mass of Europe are met with indifference, contempt and hostility. Hungary blocked thousands who were trying to transit the country to go to Germany, but the most criminal act was in the Czech Republic where authorities wrote numbers in indelible ink on the skin of refugees whom they had pulled off trains. The Czech Republic already known for its hostility to the aspirations of the people of Palestine (it was among the nine who voted against Palestine) continued its policy. The right-wing elements there showed no mercy.

However, the two most welcoming countries in Europe have been Germany and Sweden. Berlin is preparing for some 800,000 asylum applications this year and Sweden, with just two percent of the EU’s population, last year accounted for 13 percent of all applications and 18 percent of all successful ones.

There have been emergency meetings at the highest level among European states to study the influx of an almost unsustainable number of asylum seekers. A BBC correspondent asked me why Arab and Gulf states are not taking the refugees. I replied that Jordan and Lebanon have already taken about four million. The Turks also have accepted tens of thousands. As for the Gulf it is geographically difficult for them to cross this tract of land.

However, this does not absolve the Arabs from blame. Dictatorship and iron fist policies have led to this tragic situation. We watch as this tragedy of epic proportions unfolds daily in front of us. We criticize European nations for tightening their borders. We accuse them of not rising to the occasion and resolving a crisis or solving the humanitarian problem that is of our own doing. Decision makers in the Arab world have failed their people and they have proved their incompetence and their inability to come up with appropriate solutions to their problems. They continue to lack wisdom and are obsessed with power and control.

How long will the Arab world continue to suffer and when will the warring factions decide to call it quits? How many more children’s bodies will be washed ashore? How many more lives will be lost and how many refugee camps will the world have to produce?  For how long will the forces of evil continue to threaten innocent Arab families? Are there no voices of wisdom left in the Arab world?

Weep, Arab world!

— Khaled AlMaeena is a veteran Saudi journalist and intellectual. AlMaeena led ‘Arab News’, the region’s leading English newspaper, for more than two decades, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of Arab journalism.

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