Born in Guyana, RAYMOND CHICKRIE was a teacher in the New York City public school system, New York, currently teaching in the Middle East.
Upcoming Arab Islamic Summits amidst Middle East Upheavals
- By Raymond Chickrie
- Published 02/6/2011
Within the next few weeks Arab leaders will gather in Peru for the 3rd Arab South American Summit (ASPA), February 12-16 and in Egypt for the Organisation of Islamic Conference Summit (OIC), March 14 - 16, during one of the most turbulent yet vibrant period in modern Middle East history that has taken the world by surprise. Arabs today are redeeming dignity, the most significant period since their defeat at the hands of Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. Once taught as incapable of change, and known for their dictators, terrorists, oil, illiteracy, religious fundamentalism and consumerism, the Arabs are fighting back in a movement liberation that is void of religious dogma
For now, Egypt’s totalitarian ruler, Hosni Mubarak, isn’t going anywhere. Unlike Tunisia, where the people of that nation in a popular uprising overthrew long time dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Saudi Arabia and Israeli aren’t ready for a democratic regime in Cairo. They see Mubarak a champion of stability, a vanguard against political Islam, an ardent ally of the West, and an advocate of the Palestinians. Egyptians at home hardly discuss politics and fear to utter the name Mubarak out their mouths. That suddenly changed after the Tunisian Revolution. Egyptian finally broke their silence. After decades of corruption, dictatorship and poverty, Mubarak’s bread subside to keep the Egyptian masses quiet came to an end, and a million plus people protested across the country seeking an end to his rule. They had enough, and there are not buying into his pathetic farewell address. They know is just another one of his political gimmick to cling to power.
The Tunisia Jasmine Revolution will do down in Arab history as the catalyst that ended decades of Middle East dictatorships, and Al Jazeera, which is not aired in the US, will also go down in Arab history as the catalyst that mobilized revolts across the Middle East. Mubarak and Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh are buying time by announcing political retirement. It’s highly unlikely that they will go soon. The United States of America, Saudi Arabia, and Israel are strongly backing both dictators. Algeria’s long time dictator, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, today announced an end to marshal law. While in Jordan, King Abdullah sacked his cabinet afraid of another uprising there. Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US hesitantly are very vocal in telling the world that if Egypt goes, radical Islam will engulf the Middle East. Shame on Mubarak for also milking the “war on terror” to remain in office. He is towing the same line like Israel.
The scare tactic of radical Islam engulfing North Africa is loudly coming from Israel. Israel’s pathetic outcry to have the West back Mubarak is a ploy to keep the Middle East backward. It is bizarre that some leader such as Netanyahu is willing to brand the masses in the streets as “terrorists” and is urging the US to support North African dictators. Interestingly, the North African people’s revolt has drawn a cross section of society; bazaaris, young, old, women, Islamists, secularist, socialists and communists; all united after decades of living under the twin evils of poverty and dictatorship. Islamists are not championing this fight. And if the Muslim Brotherhood threatens Mubarak’s wretched Egypt, it’s only him to be blamed. While in office for over decades these dictators, failed to nurture moderate progressive voices. Yet, the people of Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen haven’t embraced political Islam.
Not surprising, the House of Saud is on shaky ground too. Built from the Hashemite (descendants of the Prophet Muhammad) Kingdom of Jordan, which extended all the way to Mekkah and Madinah, most of Arabia was awarded to the Ibn Saud Bedouin clan by the British. King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia condemned Egyptians protesters who are demanding that Mubarak resign. The Saudi monarch alleged that the revolt has been infiltrated by Iran. Mubarak, Saudi Arabia and Israel have bought Iran into this scenario, hoping that the West will come to Mubarak’s and other dictators’ aid. Ultimately, they hope that having the West on their side will give Arab dictatorships and monarchies a few more decades of rule and leave Israel as the champion of “democracy and human rights” in the Middle East. This will also allow Egypt and Israel to milk billions of US taxpayer’s money. Both countries receive over 3 billion US dollars in aid yearly.
Which brings me back to the issue of the upcoming summits. The OIC Egypt Summit will probably be moved to Saudi Arabia due to unfolding political turbulence in that country. It would be unwise to have Egypt host the OIC Summit in March amidst unfolding political upheaval there. This may very well happened, because Saudi Arabia is pumping cash into Egypt to save Hosni Mubarak and is willing to pick up the tab to have Egypt host the summit in Sharm el Sheik, Red Sea Resort, to hide Egypt’s repugnant poverty and repression. Little Qatar, which owns Al Jazeera, is often vilified and demonize by Mubarak’s state television. Mubarak can’t accept the fact that Doha is today an economic giant and a political broker in the region.
Many Arab leaders fearing revolts back home will not attend the ASPA and OIC summits. Arab revolt in North Africa will not affect, Libya and the Gulf states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Kings of Morocco and Jordan most likely will stay home. The Saudi monarch hardly leaves his Kingdom and Algeria’s authoritarian ruler, Abdelaziz Bouteflika who is very unpopular in Algeria may choose to remain home. Qadaffi never confirmed attending the summit in Peru.
The success of the Peru summit will depend on the attendance of the Emirs and Sheiks from Gulf Arab states and business agreements between South American states and Gulf Arab states such as Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia. Ten Arab leaders and all South American leaders are expecting in Peru. Peru invited more than 500 businesses from the Arab bloc for the event. At least 100 entrepreneurs from the Arab region will be participating in ASPA, and have confirmed their interest in Peru and other nations in South America according Peru’s Foreign Minister Jose Garcia Belaunde.
South America and the Arab world has historical ties that dates back to the 9th Century and culminated in 15th century that saw 500 years of Arab rule of Spain which brought Arab spices, cuisine, language, and architecture to South America via Spanish colonialism in Latin America. Today, about 15 million people in South America are of Arab decent.