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Jun 1, 2005 12:01 am

What Arabs Really Think

What Arabs Really Think
by James Dunnigan
May 29, 2005
Discussion Board on this DLS topic

What do Arabs really think about the problems that afflict them, and how is this related to the issues Islamic terrorists are fighting and dying (and killing) for? A recent "Opinion Survey of the Arab Street 2005" by Al Arabiya news network provides some interesting answers. The survey sought to see what Arabs thought about the relative lack of economic progress in the Arab world. In answer to the question, “What is stalling development in the Arab world?,” 81 percent chose "Governments are unwilling to implement change and reform", 8 percent citing "The ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict," 7 percent "Civil society is failing to convince governments", and 4 percent chose "Terrorism".

Another question, "What is the fastest way to achieve development in the Arab world?", had 67 percent choosing "Ensuring the rule of law through justice and law enforcement", 23 percent chose "Enhancing freedom of speech", and 10 percent chose "Resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict".

Islamic terrorists represent a small minority of Arab thinking, and interests. But most Arab media and governments, for obvious reasons, avoid the “bad government” issues and instead concentrate on the Arab-Israeli conflict as the cause of all that is bad in the Arab world. While few Arab governments support all Islamic terrorists, many support some (like the Palestinian terrorists, or Hizbollah in Lebanon). An Arab government will support terrorists as long as there is no terrorist attacks against themselves, and the terrorists are working against the government’s enemies. Syria has played this game enthusiastically, perhaps too much so, for decades. By getting behind terrorism and hostility towards Israel, Arab dictatorships believe this will distract their people from problems closer to home. But this ploy is working less well of late. The invasion of Iraq in 2003, the forcible removal of an Arab dictator and enthusiastic participation in democratic elections has terrified Arab despots throughout the Middle East. The Islamic terrorists are generally hostile to Arab dictators, but have made deals with the devil in order to survive. Increasingly, Arab people are fed up with the tyrants and terrorists, and are willing to do something about it.

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