RAMALLAH, July 26 (JMCC) - New US funding for helping Arabs use new media won't help build democracy, writes Rami Khouri. In fact, the source of the funding makes that pretty near impossible.
We must face the fact that all the new media and hundreds of thousands of young bloggers from Morocco to Iran have not triggered a single significant or lasting change in Arab or Iranian political culture. Not a single one. Zero.Read
This is partly because the modern Middle Eastern security state is firmly in control of the key levers of power — guns and money, mainly — and has learned to live with the digital open flow of information, as long as this does not translate into actual political action that seeks to change policies or ruling elites.
How should interested foreign parties engage in such an environment?
The first thing is to rid themselves of some nagging blatant contradictions that largely nullify their credibility, and, in fact, make them look pretty silly.
One cannot take seriously the United States or any other Western government that funds political activism by young Arabs while it simultaneously provides funds and guns that help cement the power of the very same Arab governments the young social and political activists target for change.
Feeding both the jailer and the prisoner is not a sustainable or sensible policy. I would not be surprised if some wise-guy young Arab soon sends a tweet to Hilary Clinton saying, “you’re either with us, or you’re with the security state.”
the op-ed at the International Herald Tribune