Friday, May 27, 2011

G-8 Funding Arab Aid

The G8 has met again; the world leaders of the industrially, technologically, economically advanced countries of the world have discussed issues of global significance. The emergence of the world economy out of a severe downturn, for example, and the fragile economic condition of some countries like Greece and Portugal, Ireland and Spain, for example.

But it would seem the lion's share of discussion evolved around the "Arab Spring". The commitment of NATO in Libya, the new governments in Tunisia and Egypt, and the plight of Yemen and Syria with the governments of both exacting casualties among the protesters appealing for employment and political freedom.

The Group of Eight is concerned primarily with the issues that brought these protests into the light of day. Mass unemployment among the young of Arab and African countries. Restless youth who become easy recruits and foils for extremism. For behind all of these popular uprisings lurk the potential for yet another type of tyranny to take over from the old, discarded ones.

From the tyranny of inherited rule through family dynasties, the political elite, the military elite, the royal elite, the oil sheikdoms, to the more threatening tyranny of the politicized, extremist Islamists for whom the ideology of jihad and conquest is a threat not only to the populations at risk, but in their jihadi outreach, to the world of the West.

So the United States and Great Britain and France have expressed urgent appeals to their confreres to commit to providing additional economic support to Egypt and Tunisia - both in dire economic straits because the insurrections that so recently transformed the governance of both countries impacted badly on their trade and tourism.

The World Bank claims that without intervention all of the affected countries will continue to be unable to provide employment for their large and growing cohorts of young people coming of age and becoming increasingly frustrated and angered. The European Union, the International Monetary Fund are all pledging to assist.

Finally, and most importantly, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are also pledging $4-billion and $10-billion respectively. But it must be noted that the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia are fabulously wealthy from oil revenues. It makes little sense that it is the West, the United States, the European Union, the G-8, that are leading the charge to bring economic balance to Arab states.

What are those oil-invested rich Arab states waiting for? Islam decrees that it is an obligation for Muslims to aid one another. Why is it that it requires the impetus of Western countries to become involved and pledge billions they themselves are not in possession of, struggling to uplift their own economies out of recession, before the wealthy Gulf States think of assisting their Muslim brethren?

For its part, the Government of Canada has announced that monetary assistance will be funnelled through its contributions to such financial institutions as the African Development Bank and NGOs, rather than handing funding over directly to Egypt and Tunisia.

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