The Arab world braces for more uphill tasks in 2019
ABU DHABI - Addressing the Arab word’s multitude of critical challenges in 2019 will require will and vision from within the region, experts and former senior officials said.
From Syria and the Palestinian territories to Yemen, Libya and Iraq, conflicts and tensions ravaging the region have intensified in recent years.
Nasser Judeh, former Jordanian minister of foreign affairs, said there has been a serious lack of communication among Arabs about the challenges ahead.
“We are not conversing enough and it’s very important we discuss matters more,” he said at the Arab Strategy Forum in Dubai in November. Reflecting the view of many in the region, he added: “The Palestinian case is a way to resolve a lot of conflicts, especially in the midst of the instability happening here.”
Ayad Alawi, former prime minister of Iraq, said many Arab countries are in dire need of political and economic reform. “Countries like Jordan and Egypt have good institutions but we can see they still lack the economic immunisation to face the challenges facing the region,” he said.
Nabil Fahmy, former foreign minister of Egypt, said non-Arab actors are playing a disproportionate role due to the void Arabs have left. He noted that Israel, Turkey and Iran are wielding “a lot of influence on the Arab world in an illogical way. For us to be politically active, we need to be proactive and not reactive.”
Judeh spoke against over-reliance on the West, highlighting the need to set Arab goals and participate in solving ongoing crises by finding realistic and implementable solutions. “This lack of Arab initiatives on Arab issues [has created] a vacuum filled by non-Arab powers or Western powers,” he said.
Alawi predicted a third generation of terrorists following the extremist wave from the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. “What is coming is greater and it will cause great damage to the stability of our region and countries,” he warned. He said the new generation of terrorists, especially those bred by the Syrian conflict, could wreak even more havoc in the Arab world.
“There is no solution within a year because the problems are deep-rooted,” Fahmy said. “We have to raise our voices. There is a misconception that we need to all announce in the same tone or voice what we want but I call on all Arab countries to express their vision of the future. 60-70% of the concepts will be [the same] but this is better than the absence of any Arab voice. We need change and a common Arab vision.”