Monday, January 15, 2007

Four Way Occupation Profile: FWOP

FWOP: Four-Way Occupation Profile

Ghassan Rubeiz, January 15, 2007.

The world ponders why the Arab world is slow in moving toward democracy. Few observers appreciate the crippling impact of the collective societal burdens that slow desirable social change in the Middle East. In “Four occupations smothering the Middle East” I argued that the region is occupied in four dimensions. Rulers occupy freedoms, religious authorities occupy the mind, colonialists occupy borders and local militias occupy the street. (Daily Star, November10, 06).

Developing the four variable framework, I now propose measurable indices for each of the four occupations. I came up with a forty item occupation profile, ten items for each of the four occupations.
I introduce a political diagnostic tool to be known as the “FWOP”. FWOP is the acronym of “Four Way Occupation Profile”. This tool is not a scale, although it may develop into a measurement instrument through further study. In its present “clinical” format the FWOP explores diagnostically the specific areas in which a country is challenged along four critical parameters. These four are 1. Governance: respect of law, 2. Social awareness: occupation of the mind, 3. Colonialism: victim of foreign occupation, and 4. Militias: occupation of the street.

Each section is accompanied by a commentary. The Profile is an instrument designed with the Middle East in mind, but it is somewhat applicable elsewhere. Readers are urged to respond to this effort with a general commentary or with specific suggestions for a revised draft. Questions are framed to have “yes” or “no” answers. As situations of different countries vary the interpretation of data should change accordingly. This is why this instrument is an exploratory profile and not a scale.


Occupation of ruler: quality of governance

Section One Commentary:
If a political regime sacrifices electoral democracy to some tolerable level to insure stability and economic progress firmness of governess is understandable. However, if a regime is tyrannical and leading the country into economic ruin there is no justification for its continuity. The rush to democracy before economic and social infrastructure is being challenged today after what we have seen in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. So the severity of autocracy needs to be assessed in light of historical and socio economic conditions of the country.

Questions on Ruler
1. Has ruler extended his term for too long?
2. Is ruler surrounded by his clan in dominance over rule?
3. Has ruler inherited the reign or was he elected?
4. If elected, has ruler come to his reign through an arranged or a true election?
5. Is national defense budget disproportionate to human investment (health and education) budget?
6. Has ruler engaged in a military campaign against local resistance?
7. Is there a sizable volume of political prisoners that regime is responsible for?
8. Is rank of country on international index of corruption unfavorable?
9. Is rank of country on Freedom House annual global list unfavorable? (Research instrument measuring political freedom)
10 Is rank of country on Human Development Index unfavorable? (United Nations ranking of countries on social and economic aspects of well being)

Occupation of the mind: degree of social awareness about equality and human rights

Section two Commentary:

Women in the Middle East suffer at two levels: disadvantage of opportunity and denial of inequality. Research indicates that education of women is the most prognostic indicator of human development. That is why PWOF has four items related to gender.

Questions on social awareness
1. Are women well represented in high political office: parliament, cabinet and judiciary?
2. Are women a small minority in university enrolment?
3. Is ratio of women who finish elementary school above 50% level?
4. Are women aware of their rights to freedom?
5. Are clerics politically important?
6. Is legal system inspired by universal human rights? (Family law on marriage, intermarriage, divorce, and inheritance can be problematic)
7. Are there many civic organizations?
8. Are human-rights associations active in society?
9. Is Media too loud on foreign injustice and too calm on local injustice?
10. Is media controlled by government?

Foreign occupation: influence in domestic rule

Section Commentary
All Arab countries are subject to foreign influence. A few countries suffer land occupation: e.g. Iraq, Syria and Palestine. Some states are tied politically through economic assistance: e.g. Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Palestinian refugees are the majority of Jordanian populations; Jordan’s stability is highly dependent on the future of Palestinian politics. Asians run the Arab Gulf infrastructure. The US provides political and military security to Saudi Arabia and surrounding oil regimes. Iran’s influence in Lebanon, Iraq, the Gulf and Syria is expanding.

Question on Foreign hegemony
1. Is country occupied by foreign power?
2. Is country regime dependent economically on a foreign power?
3. Is country dependent on foreign power for its security?
4. Is society infrastructure run by immigrants or foreign personnel?
5. Area militias financed by foreign power?
6. Are militias trained and protected by foreign power?
7. Is country non sovereign due to foreign occupation?)
8. How well is foreign influence recognized by world community?
9. Is country united to resist foreign occupation?
10. Is foreign occupation getting worse?

Unauthorized armies

Commentary
Failure of Arab states to deliver security or wellbeing to their societies has created a vacuum that militias are filling. Militias are gaining popularity as foreign intervention increases and local governments fail to respond to emergencies. Militias are expanding their mission by offering social service and political representation within the state. Militias are also expanding their mission beyond their national borders and acting as states or national armies. Militias are using religious symbols and sentiments in what is essentially a political organization. Arabs see Israel as a Jewish State; militias capitalize on this fact and use religion as a matching response to political Judaism.

Questions on Militia occupation
1. Is there a single militia or a cluster or rival militias?
2. Is the militia a resistance movement focused on foreign hegemony?
3. Is the militia focused on local occupation or foreign occupations?
4. Do militias use force against civilians? ( elements of terrorism)
5. Is the militia leaderless or led by a recognized figure? (Implications for accountability)
6. Are the militias ideologically oriented or sectarian? (Implications for political compromise)
7. Is militia integrated in the political system?
8. Is militia integrated in society?
9. Is militia coordinated or rival with the state? (e.g. Hezbollah’s recent shift after summer war)
10. Is militia accessible to negotiation with the state or a foreign power? (That is the question in debate currently)

Concluding words

FWOP is a country “stress profile” for the Middle East. The Profile was developed in response to a growing dichotomy in reflection on Arab politics. Some believe that foreign intervention is the root cause of Arab problems and others believe that Arabs are totally responsible for their current malaise. Is the truth in between those two extreme views? The response of readers will determine the “shelf-life” of FWOP.

Author's email is and his blog is .

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