One of the most important questions for people is why the Middle East, despite having one of the richest sources of energy in the world, it has never had a robust and independent country. How this region of the world always a bedrock for internal struggles and conflicts and has not felt any relative comfort for several years?
Governments and communities in the region generally attribute the causes of this unrest and war to external and external factors. But what makes this debate so important in the Middle East is that looking for a foreign agent is not just in politics. If one is unsuccessful in business, if the craftsmen loses market share, if the economy has triple-digit inflation, everyone sees the cause outside of themselves and their performance. The main problem in the Middle East is that it is not only in the power debate that self-assessment is denied, but also that society sees self-assessment as flawed. The problem is that a manager does not hold himself responsible for misguided policies and miscalculations, yet he or she blames foreign governments. Instead, even a citizen who does not perform his duties as an individual in society blames the inflation rate, nonetheless, he or she accepts that it is not a logical and correct thing to do the duties of a citizen. The key concept, in this case, is to abandon self-criticism. Since this region is accustomed to heroism, myth-making, and idealism in its existential core, it is wrong to point out defects, mistakes, and shortcomings to the individuals or institutions, or government.
But why are the individuals and governments of this region running away from the authentic self? Why not criticize their past and past performance? Why they do not take responsibility for their mistakes?
First of all, it can be said that thinking, living, and planning in principle is one of the most critical shortcomings of the people of the Middle East. It is safe to say that no region in the world has the art of justifying, embellishing illusions, and covering up its true nature. For example, when the Syrian military fought against its opposition, President Bashar al-Assad spoke of overcoming foreigners and maintaining Syria’s independence and national sovereignty. Second, in a one-dimensional society, the power of thinking either does not exist or is hidden within individuals. The community is made one with Gaddafi in Libya, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, and Saddam in Iraq, who ruled for twenty to forty years. Abdul Aziz Bouteflika, the 20-year-old president of Algeria, faced widespread protests when he entered the registration office for the fifth time in 2019 in a wheelchair and eventually withdrew. During his fourth term in office from 2014 to 2019, he suffered from speech aphasia (Aphasia) and was never able to speak in public, and it was revealed only when he was in a state of distress at cabinet meetings.
In the event of monotony in the Middle East, they are either quickly suppressed or left ineffective by non-specialist elements. Third, the purpose of criticism is to improve the quality of life. Society and governments that are accustomed to criticism look to life beyond position and power. Society and government, accustomed to criticism, distinguish access to money and rental facilities from the production of wealth through hard work and thought. Although it is relatively common to get money and status worldwide, their concentration is not as high in any region like the Middle East.
In contrast, life goes far beyond money and status. Faithfulness to the covenant, being honest, giving thanks, maintaining friendship are examples that are much more important and beyond money and level. But the Middle Eastern people are so preoccupied with their livelihood that their main concern is only to provide the necessities of life and material things. Therefore, many concepts such as efficiency, transparency, accountability, power rotation, media freedom, and finally, transparency and self-criticism lose their meaning. Finally, one may ask how the monopoly of power and wealth is formed in the Middle East. The answer to this question is that access to money and status is so indulgent able that it naturally ends in a monopoly with dozens of justifications, demagoguery, ambiguity, and twisting issues. Hence, with a monopoly of power and wealth concentrated in the hands of few, Middle Eastern structures are heading for stagnation.
In closing, there is a close connection between the many problems in the Middle East and the lack of self-criticism. When self-criticism is minimal, new information and developments in evaluating and analyzing current issues become meaningless. Under these conditions, the decision-making system is formed to maintain the status quo and existing relationships, and Group thinking syndrome arises. In the form of this syndrome, the key people of a system come together, they come up with ideas and points that maintain the relationship, not change it, resulting in Cognitive Closure. Cognitive obstruction gradually increases errors in decision-making, and the structure that encompasses government and society is deprived of opportunities to troubleshoot, identify, and solve problems. Thought, intellectual competition, debate, facts, and information circulation cannot be active because self-criticism, revision, and evaluation of the past appear as threats. Unless Middle Eastern systems and societies become introspective, self-critical, and open to debate about new information and ideas, they will remain in trouble and blame others for all the misery inflicted upon themselves. This transformation requires a change of personality, which unfortunately seems to be achieved not by reasoning, but by the density and aggravation of crises. Thus, the intellectual and executive elites of these societies have the most critical responsibility for the future.
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About the author:
Amin BAGHERI is an Iranian research fellow at the International Studies Association in Tehran, Iran. His primary research interest lies in international relations, political science, and conflicts in the Middle East. You can see more of his work on Twitter @bghr_amin.