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Dialogue, might and political folklore Open in fullscreen

Maen al-Bayari

Dialogue, might and political folklore

Might does not last forever. A Yemeni protesting the Houthi takeover of Taiz [Aadolu]

Date of publication: 24 March, 2015

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Comment: The call for national dialogues in divided countries across the region is a farce as long as dictators, strongmen and militants are imposing their wills on the ground.

Forces under the command of rogue general Khalifa Haftar are bombarding military positions and national facilities in Libya, even while direct and indirect talks under UN auspices between the parties to the conflict continue in the Moroccan city of Skhirat. It seems that Haftar, and the local forces and outside countries that support him, is seeking to impose facts on the ground as well as on the negotiators in Morocco.


In Yemen, arrangements have been made for a national dialogue among political parties and forces in the country to be held in Riyadh. At the same time, there are reports

     In Lebanon, it is no longer as amusing as it was to see Nabih Berri occasionally call for national dialogue.

another dialogue will be held, brokered by UN special envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar, in Sanaa. Yet the Houthis find themselves unconcerned by this “frivolity”, so long as their armed militias, now stronger than ever, can seize an airport in Ta’iz and strike in Aden, and even dare declare President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi a fugitive from justice and object to his invitation to attend the Arab League summit.


In Syria, the regime does not see anything odd about welcoming a second round of Moscow talks. There its representatives can go on to chat with opposition figures even as it continues to kill scores of Syrians with barrel bombs in places and chlorine gas in others.


These are some of the interesting recent developments amid the flurry of news coming from Syria, Yemen and Libya, and which have almost pushed us to see the trend toward Arab national dialogues as cutesy folklore.


In Yemen, there had already been a prolonged national dialogue that produced specific outcomes on many issues. At the time, it was said implementing these recommendations would take the country from the transitional process to institutional stability, a new constitution, and even comprehensive economic development.


None of this materialized.


In Lebanon, it is no longer as amusing as it was to see Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri occasionally call for national dialogue in an apparent bid simply to break the boredom and monotony. After dozens of such sessions, the only thing that catches our attention now is spotting a book by Amin Maalouf in Druze leader Walid Jumblatt’s hands as he enters the hall, or seeing Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea savour Damascene baklava that Berri had brought over.


Former Lebanese PM Fouad Siniora’s talk about a defensive strategy for the country, and Hizballah MP Mohammad Raad’s talk about a fair and strong state, and many other statements of the sort, are now boring details that no one pays attention to anymore. It is now an unfunny joke when yet another official proclaims that Lebanon is in dire need of national dialogue to resolve the predicament over the presidential vacuum.


Indeed, might alone imposes facts. This is not just a random soundbite, but one of the well-established lessons of history.


However, history also shows that might does not last forever. Might is effective and crucial in altering the situation here and there. But it is no great revelation to say here, and firmly, that there can be no future for any political authority imposed by the Houthis in Yemen, for example, not only because governing a stable and secure state is not within their capability, but also because there are serious social implications that will not allow any regime exclusively dominated by the Houthis to be stable.


It is deeply unfortunate that the victims of this situation are the Yemenis themselves. On Friday, more than 140 worshippers perished in terrorist attacks targeting mosques, attacks characterized by overt sectarian wickedness.


At some distance from Yemen, before the massacre at the mosques, the Islamic State staged a massacre in Tunisia. Again, it is not a big revelation here to say that the Islamic State is doomed: the Tunisian spring is stronger and mightier, and it is free of the likes of Haftar, the Houthis, Assad and other bullies and dictators.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

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