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The priority for our region

Nov 28,2020 - Last updated at Nov 28,2020

If one were to ask about the priority for our region at this point in time, what would it be?

Clearly, different people would give different answers.

One obvious answer would be more focus on fighting and eradicating COVID-19. Another would be ways and means of tackling economic recession and bringing about growth and prosperity. A third would be online learning.

And these are all apt and correct answers.

If I were to answer the question, I would say peace: True and genuine peace for all.

The region is in shambles, has been so for decades, but especially since 2011 when the ominous “Arab Spring” events hit several Arab countries bringing about unprecedented suffering, dislocation, forced migration, and terror.

In fact, for 100 years and more, our region has not had genuine, lasting peace; and we are still coming to terms with the historic mistakes of the colonialist European powers that wreaked havoc in our part of the world since the ominous Sykes-Picot agreement and Belfour Declaration.

Peace for all is crucial and the ultimate priority, because without it, it is extremely difficult, even next to impossible, to tackle the other challenges and focus on the rest of the priorities.

Can any of the countries in the region, and can the region as whole, focus on COVID-19, economic development, online learning, desertification, global warming, etc. if it is lacking the necessary peace and security as a prerequisite?

The answer is no, at least no as effectively as when peace materialises.

So peace should be the most pressing priority for us at present, in order to end the plague that has hit so many countries in the region and to solve the longest conflict of them all: the Arab-Israeli conflict.

A century of utter havoc and violence and a decade of chaos and terror should be reason enough, motive enough for all concerned countries, to sit down and negotiate a mega peace agreement, one that respects the rights and privileges of each individual country and of all the countries collectively.

This can be done, since all will be winners if they achieve it, and losers if they do not.

Let there be no mistake about it: if peace does not materialise for all and if tensions and violence continue to exist, no one is safe and no one is a winner despite isolated indicators here and there that point to the opposite.

The bottom line principle is this: if one country, one single country, is unhappy, none will be happy.

To achieve peace, all countries in the region should sit down as neighbours and negotiate a way out for all, without external intervention, as external interference has complicated matters for the most part.

Should external intervention be sought from any party, however, it should be so sought from it as an honest broker and an agent of constructive change, not as a divider or one siding with one side to the conflict against another.

Neighbours who respect each other live in peace and lead a happy life. Those, by contrast, who base their relations on disrespect, animosity, and aggression lead a life of violence and misery.

This is why peace is, and should always be, a priority.

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