Monday, October 24, 2011

Food for thought

Food for thought

Some experts attending the World Economic Forum at the Dead Sea seem to have reached the conclusion that for the Arab world’s economies to be helped and to create the millions of jobs needed, a Marshall Plan may be the solution.

The idea is that rich Arab states could help low-income countries in the region achieve development, in a way reminiscent of the plan the US employed in 1948, after World War II, to aid the economies of the war-ravaged European countries.

Eventually, like in Europe, such plan might help remove trade barriers among Arab countries and introduce fiscal unity and regional plans for breathing new life into their economies.

The problem with this proposal is that under the conditions prevailing in the area, it seems more of a far-fetched vision than a realistic scheme - not that it wouldn’t be a good one.

Unlike Europe after the war, the Middle East and the Arab countries in North Africa have yet to enjoy the kind of peace and security European nations witnessed in 1948.

As His Majesty King Abdullah told the audience at the opening of the forum, there can be no solution to the Arab economic problems in the absence of regional peace, particularly on the Palestinian-Israeli front.

At the same time, it is essential to create conditions for good governance in the Arab countries, based on the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights.

With many of the regional countries in turmoil or transition, that seems still a distant goal. Notwithstanding the positive results of the Arab Spring, reform in the Arab world has yet to happen.

While the proposed Marshall Plan is a good idea in theory, speaking of it before the right political environment is achieved in the Arab world is premature.

That is not to suggest that the leaders of the Arab countries should shun the thought. It is worth mulling, for the welfare and stability of one nation could mean the well-being for all in the Arab world.

24 October 2011

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