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Dr Bouthaina Shaaban: ‘The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With One Step’

Dr Bouthaina Shaaban, Political and Media Advisor to Syrian President, Bashar Al Assad.

A hundred years after the Balfour Declaration and all that followed, and 100 years after the Sykes-Picot agreement, and after all the setbacks and pitfalls that marked our Arab history. After watching with bitter feelings the bombing of Baghdad and the destruction of Nimrud, and the barbaric attacks on Aleppo, Palmyra, and Western collusion with some Arabs against Libya and Yemen. After all this, what are we doing?

Would the Arabs continue using the same methods they’ve been using, which proved to be useless, or would they reconsider all the mechanisms that have been followed to date, studying the situation and considering the methods used by their enemies to beat them and trying to use them to respond to these enemies?

After these calamities that plagued our Arab people in their villages and cities, which caused untold pain and unprecedented migration, is it not necessary to reconsider the intellectual system that governed our actions to this day, and the need to replace it with a system that is more useful?

At this stage in the history of our nation, we must have a serious stand, a candid and confident dialogue with history and a re-evaluation of everything we have written and done in the past decades. But before we can do this, the Arab elites must meet and regain their self-esteem and be at the center of the events, and provide the vision makes a difference in the course of events. Hence, regardless of the governmental situation in the various Arab countries, the Arab elites are invited today to communicate and discuss, and find the best ways to hold workshops in more than one place to arrive at the formulation of logical strategies for a better future for all Arabs and to resolve many topics long-debated on the subjects of identity, Arabism, Islam , and citizenship in all our Arab countries, in addition to the issue of youth and migration.

The Arab World is the only place where young people are brought up with their eyes focused on the West, not on their homeland. In our countries, we provide services and education to children and young people. We give them a gift & arm them with knowledge to be eploited by others. These young people leave behind their countries that lack specialists, scientists and innovators. There is no doubt that the imbalance inherent in our reality, which does not provide young people with decent work opportunities that enable them to build a future for them next to their families and loved ones and does not provide them with creative opportunities and climate that helps them to continue research and innovation. What action should we take?

Do we keep repeating the statistics that talk about thousands of Arab doctors, scientists and inventors in the United States and Europe or actually take a serious position to face up to this reality and do all that is required to keep our human resources in our countries so that we can employ the energies of these youths so that they make a serious and effective contribution to the glory of the homelands .

India has a clear example of preservation of political, economic and intellectual elites, despite a high level of poverty in India. Although there are class differences, despite the existence of more than twenty languages, India has risen in the global balance of power.

In wake of the bloody years our countries went through, we must also stop with the experiences of others and benefit from the closest experience to our reality, our people and our way of life. We must lay the solid foundations for guiding popular culture in the direction of national elites who believe in their people and homeland.

What we need is nothing less than an intellectual revolution that rearranges the priorities in our Arab world and eliminates the impurities that hampered our path, and eliminates the sanctity of many traditions that proved futile in the march of progress and prosperity, and establishment of a new culture. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, today we must be on the threshold of a deliberate, real and promising change for our Nation and its people.

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