Arab world rich with unearned wealth
by Salim Mansur
As the Arab world implodes under the weight of its brutal dictators, we are witnessing the uncertainties surrounding the eventual making of a new regional balance.
The situation is explosive given the intractable nature of conflicts among tribes holding power and tribes denied their share of the loot.
This is as old as Arab and Muslim history, but it is now given a new edge by the imported technology of war and communications readily available to all sides.
For the past century, the non-Arab world has been sold on the idea that inter-Arab conflicts can be explained by the machinations of the western powers, and the colonial-settler movement of Jews under the banner of Zionism.
The truth Arabs bitterly deny — irrespective of whether they are motivated by secular-nationalism or religious fundamentalism/Islamism — is without western machinations, Arab independence from non-Arab rule of the Ottoman Turks at the end of the First World War would have been aborted, or much delayed.
The return of Jews to the land connected with their history was as much embedded in the great power rivalries and war of 1914-18 as were Arab claims for independence from alien rule.
Jews accepted a barely tenable portion of what was once the land seeded by their ancestors.
It was an offer first from the British with nearly impossible constraints imposed, and then the UN dividing in November 1947 what remained of Palestine west of the River Jordan after an earlier partition of the greater Palestine by the overlords in London.
Despite the burden of the terrible hand dealt by history, Jews succeeded in making an inspiring success of modern Israel.
Here it needs to be emphasized the territory of the modern Jewish state was for a millennium or more a grossly neglected hinterland of the Islamic empire ruled by Arabs from Damascus, later from Baghdad and followed by Ottoman Turks from Istanbul or Constantinople of the Byzantines.
If Arabs have not fared well, it requires of them to examine their role in the abysmal situation of their own making.
But this will not happen so long as they can squeeze concessions from others through politics of grievance, threats, terrorism and the support from a surplus of Lenin's "useful idiots" in the West ever-ready to embrace any cause, however despicable, so long as it is packaged under the label of "anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism."
Much undeserving coverage has been given to the batch of "useful idiots" who set sail on the so-called Gaza flotilla.
And nothing describes better the political bankruptcy of Arabs than their need to find comfort in the embrace of these useful idiots, a collective of sore losers and guilt-peddlers in the West.
For every living generation of people, destiny opens a window of opportunity before it closes shut. Jews, to their credit, seized the opportunity and changed their fortune.
For Arabs, nature was profligate. Ernest Bevin, foreign-secretary in post-1945 Britain's Labour government, once remarked, "The Kingdom of Heaven runs on righteousness, but the Kingdom of Earth runs on oil."
Gifted with unearned wealth, the Arab story is a lesson of how a people might be unfit for a fortune and no amount of blaming others will make them any more deserving.