Friday, January 14, 2005

For too long the Arab World has ignored areas adjacent to sub-Saharan Africa

Mustafa El-Feki, in a piece at Al-Ahram Weekly Jan 13, 2005, titled New leaders, old ideas writes "there is no point in becoming excited over a change in leadership if it is not accompanied by a change in direction." He is chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the People's Assembly and on the Sudan writes the following:

The situation in southern Sudan is a result of the Arab World's habitual shortsightedness. For too long we have ignored the areas adjacent to sub-Saharan Africa. The poverty and depravation I saw during a recent visit to southern Sudan was appalling. The only visible contribution the Arabs have made to the inhabitants of southern Sudan appeared to be a mosque constructed by King Farouk, and the Kuwaiti Hospital in Juba. This remiss is particularly deplorable when we consider that the southern portion of Sudan is the Arab world's African gateway.

Just when a peaceful settlement to the Sudanese civil war appeared possible another nightmare scenario erupted. The crisis of Darfur in western Sudan has attracted the concern of the international community and stirred vehement condemnation in the international media. Sadly, on this issue new Arab leaders continue to tread all too familiar paths.

The question of the Western Sahara remains one of the most intractable Arab-African problems, as well as a long-lasting sore point between Algeria and Morocco. Rabat's reaction to South Africa's demand that it recognise the Saharan republic, combined with its withdrawal from inter-African cooperation within the framework of the OAU, underscores the potentially explosive situation in this corner of the Arab world.

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