Wednesday, January 12, 2011
BEIRUT: A collection of regional politicians and academics gathered in Beirut this week for a two-day conference to discuss the multiple difficulties facing state formation in the Arab world.
Concluding Tuesday the “State Crisis in the Arab World” event highlighted various challenges such as sectarianism, dictatorship and human rights infringements, which continue to plague the region and hamper state-building.
Organized by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Research Center for Arab Unity and the Arab Association of Political Science, the conference made frequent references to the constant volatility of the region as demonstrated by this week’s deadly clashes in Tunisia and South Sudan, which is holding a hotly-anticipated referendum on secession from the North.
Instances such as these, as well as the recent troubles in Egypt and Algeria reveal the dangers of the overall situations and impose on us the importance of having this dialogue, said Carnegie senior fellow Amr Hamzawi.
The cause of crises “is not only the lack of democracy but also deeper problems relating to all relationships between power and the citizen,” he said.
State weakness, which has had its roots traced back to colonial and even Medieval times, inhibits the ability of modern Arab states to provide basic services, such as education and health, further impeding state-building and heightening internal divisions, delegates heard. Lebanon, alongside Iraq, was cited as a prime example of this trend.
“Arab and Islamic movements in Islamic countries don’t have a clear picture of building a state with its institutions, and politics management of economics, media, culture and technical developments,” said Minister of State Adnan Sayyed Hussein. “[This is because] the definition of a state is a civil state,” a concept alien to religiously-dominated movements, he said. – The Daily Star