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Arab states collaboration key to a better life

(Photo: Wikimedia)
From Morocco to Iraq, the common man dreams of a united Arab entity able to guarantee his prosperity and safety. Oftentimes, outsiders dismiss this as a pipe dream or a wishful fantasy, but for those who live through the trials and turmoil in the Arab World, this is a plain necessity. اضافة اعلان

Blindly drawn borders play a role in the decaying state of this region; the colonial overlay of institutions that work against, rather than for, the nation produced a bleak and miserable situation. 

Getting all the Arab states to cooperate would lead to the most advantageous outcome, but is not simplest to achieve; 350 million people live in these states, which means there is massive diversity of opinion, belief, ethnicity, wealth and virtually any other factor that enables large groups of people to form a connection. In view of all this, the task does not seem just challenging, it appears impossible. 

Yet despite this, the Arab nations have very important factors that bind them together. Take, for example, religion. The vast majority of Arabs follow Islam; a significant minority is Christian. Despite the differences between and within these two faiths, both Muslims and Christians worship the Abrahamic God and derive their morals from Him. The importance of this fact is that we have hundreds of millions of people who share the same basic values, whether they are Sunni, Shiite, Orthodox or Catholic.

Another factor is language. The Arabic language is as practical as it is beautiful. The common use of Arabic, particularly its modern standard form, means that individuals from Algeria, in the west, to Oman, in the east, are able to read the same books and watch the same TV programs, and thereby exchange the same ideas. They can share nationalist ideas and all Arabs could be rallied around an ideological message focused on preserving dignity, liberty, prosperity and security.

Talking of ideology, the strongest factor that draws people to an ideology is their collective interest. In spite of conflicting viewpoints, it is beneficial for people all over the Arab World to cooperate with their fellow Arabs and form an entity capable of asserting Arab interests on the global stage. 

Everything from its prime location and its myriad resources means that one Arab entity should guarantee the welfare of the people living within it. If the ideological arguments for unity fail, the practical and material ones are bound to succeed.

To achieve this goal, it is not necessary that a single country be formed. Simply tying together common interests is enough to form a unified bloc. Take, the example, 20th century Europe.

Two inter-European wars fought within decades of each other caused tens of millions of deaths. After the second defeat of Germany, it was obvious that an effective mechanism to rebuild Europe and prevent Europeans from destroying their continent again was needed.

This came in the form of the European Economic Community, which meant that cooperating was ideal and conflict discouraged amongst European states. This eventually evolved into the European Union, with Europeans able to travel and live freely in any of the union states, and then the euro, the one currency for almost all the continent.

The EU states experience extremely high rates of human development, assert their role in international affairs, and contribute 18 percent of the Global Nominal GDP. The EU, by any objective measure, is a resounding success, strengthening every country involved whilst preserving their sovereignty. The EU is a global player with a large say in many fields, ranging from economics to diplomacy to technology. All this influence while constituting a relatively small portion of the globe.

Now, imagine what could be done if this model were followed by the Arab World, which borders many oceans and seas, spreads across two continents and has an abundance of petroleum and people. If such a union were to happen, the Arabs would be able to put their foot down and kick out all those who make their lives miserable, the hostile powers from outside and those who work for them. 

Not only would the average Arab live decently, he may even live lavishly as two dozen market economies with varied resources to trade merge and become an economic superpower. It would be the dawn of a new era, the logical conclusion of looking at raw facts and statistics. 

This is a required change, and a massive one at that, so enacting it too quickly may result in great confusion and instability. What is needed, then, is a step-by-step integration of the Arab states until we are more dependent on each other than on outside powers. 

The seeds of growth have already been planted. Two years ago, Iraq’s finance minister, Ali Al Allawi, proposed a plan to create a “West Asian Union” between Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, with a single currency, visa-free travel and a canal connecting the Gulf and the Mediterranean by 2040. 

Just over this past year, we saw steps being taken in this direction. Jordan and Iraq are cooperating, and Egypt is also working with these two countries. For instance, Egypt offered to assist Iraq’s reconstruction in exchange for natural gas. 

Jordan has become a source of electricity for Iraq, meaning it is no longer reliant on Iran in this regard; Jordan benefits by remedying its shortage of petroleum. Moreover, Egypt has offered to send natural gas to Lebanon via Jordan and Syria, to alleviate the energy crisis there. 

Here, we see multiple Arab states collaborate in order to better their situation. If these plans go through, foreign powers will be less likely to utilize economic pressure to weaken the Arabs and force them into supporting nefarious agendas. Instead, we will see brother nations building a brighter future together.

Mohammad Rasoul Kailani is a writer and first year student at the University of Toronto. Amongst various other topics, his interests are in Middle Eastern affairs.

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