In pursuit of Arab reform

This special report is concerned with the increasingly pressing demand for reform in the Middle East. While few harbour any illusions over the need for such a compelling change, the disagreement centres on the question: How?

    Some argue that introducing political reform to the Arab world is not a choice but an imperative given that Arab governments are interested in bringing their nations up to speed with the rest of the world.

    Amr Musa, the secretary-general of the Arab League, tells Aljazeera.net in an exclusive interview that reforms must come from within.

    His assertion seems to differ from the mantra-like statement repeated by those who oppose the US meddling in the region's affairs, especially following the unofficial introduction of the US-drafted Greater Middle East Initiative.

    Danielle Pletka, the vice-president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), advocates a contrary opinion. She tells Aljazeera.net that political reform in the Middle East is not only unavoidable, but that the US has a moral obligation to enforce it. Otherwise, she argues, it would not be fair to the rest of the Arab and Muslim world.

    Meanwhile, Chris Patten, the European Union commissioner for external relations, discusses the EU role in this daunting task.

    Shaikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a prominent Islamic scholar, on the other hand, takes on the issue of reform in terms of its compatibility with Islam, which, according to some, is itself in need of reform.

    But where does the Arab intellectual stand in all this?

    Aljazeera.net examines the viewpoint of several prominent Arab thinkers who champion an array of views and interpretations, each with a unique position that makes this subject all the more thought-provoking.

    These questions, and more, are considered: Are Arab governments willing to espouse political reforms from the inside, provided that the majority rejects change imposed from the outside? Is the man on the street

     capable of being an effective player in the reform process? Is the US genuine in wanting to democratise the Middle East? And are there viable home-grown alternatives to the US initiative?

    In Pursuit of Arab Reform is an attempt to answer these questions. At the least, it provides a platform to those who believe they have an answer.

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    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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