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The never-ending cycle of death in the Arab world is down to the craving for power

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24.01.2020

There is likely to be a massacre of hundreds of thousands of innocent people unless Arab rulers step up to the plate on Syria and show real leadership. I fear, however, that the plight of the men, women and children cowering under the regime’s barrel bombs and bunker busters is of little concern to those overseeing the final destruction of a war-torn nation.

Why is there no mechanism to challenge the leadership in the Arab world, where rulers would rather die than step down, even though their regimes cause untold pain, misery and hardship for millions? Are they so intoxicated by power that they cannot see the suffering which surrounds them?

When the much-loved Nelson Mandela bade farewell as leader of 42 million South Africans, he not only left his country in better shape — running water in 80 per cent of homes, 63 per cent of households connected to the electricity grid and 700,000 new homes built — but he also had the admiration of the world. Is there one single Arab leader who can boast of a similar legacy or of having the global respect that Mandela enjoyed?

The legendary freedom fighter was also honest enough to concede the failings of the African National Congress government, making reference to crime, corruption and unemployment, but he underlined the fact that “the foundation has been laid — the building is in progress” back in 1999. Had he chosen to stand for a second term as President, few would have complained, but Mandela was a man who truly believed in justice, equality and fairness. He knew that it was right to step back from centre stage.

READ: Russia and Syrian independence

Of course, it’s not just across the Arab world where leaders have a history of being reluctant to retire. Hugo Chávez campaigned for the end of limits to presidential terms of office in Venezuela, and Robert Mugabe rigged Zimbabwe’s elections to remain in the top job for decades. National liberation leaders such as Mao Tse Tung, Fidel Castro, Kim Il Sung and Muammar Gaddafi all regarded their roles as positions for life. And we saw Russia’s Vladimir Putin with his own personal revolving door which saw him switch from president to prime minister and back to president again.

A boy searches his belongings among wreckage of a house is seen after Russian forces........

© Middle East Monitor