MEMBERS of a secret organization ambushed the convoy of the spiritual father of the Fifth Republic of France, Charles de Gaulle, in an attempt to assassinate him while he was on his way to his village house on Aug 22, 1962.
Bullets shattered the rear window of his car, so de Gaulle ordered his chauffeur to stop. He disembarked from his car and started walking, during which he uttered his famous phrase: “They are amateurs, they don’t know how to hit their target.” He then went on to complete his journey.
At the time, the assassination attempt was an epic moment for those opposing de Gaulle’s pragmatic inclination towards removing France from Algeria’s swamp and ushering it into the era of emancipation from the burden of the Second World War.
Six years after the assassination attempt, de Gaulle proposed further decentralization of the government in a bid to reform the State. He vowed to resign if he did not get the majority vote — 75 percent. This was exactly what he did when the result of the referendum was announced in early 1969.
During that time, de Gaulle was facing opportunists in the French colonization of Algeria and Africa in general, as well as the corrupt ones who prevented the development of their countries.
These people are similar to those described in Chapter Seven verse 45 of the Holy Quran where Almighty Allah said, “… and they seek to make it crooked …” This type of people is found in every society and country. They oppose reform measures initiated by pioneering leaders mentioned throughout history for their diligence.
In the Arab world, some are striving to thwart efforts of such leaders, especially in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which is currently experiencing a major reform operation led by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman in compliance with the directives of King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
These people are the ones who notice a speck in the eyes of others but fail to notice a log in their eyes. They used to accuse the kingdom of being backward socially and economically. However, after starting its drive to develop methodology of work and life in accordance with the aspiration of its 21st century leader — King Salman, and through some of his elite children, these people ended up turning away.
They even started brandishing their swords and spears to discourage and demoralize progressive efforts through their channels and information media where they described this progressive change as deviating from religious principles, norms and traditions.
The fierce campaign against the kingdom did not stop it from cementing the vision of pioneering leaders in terms of entering the fourth Saudi State despite being engaged in an open war in Yemen to counter the Persian expansionism scheme for three years.
If the kingdom was lackadaisical in confronting the expansionism scheme, the loss it would have incurred in the long run would by far be higher than that of the ‘Operation Decisive Storm’ considering all the GCC countries would have been affected not only financially but also culturally, economically and socially.
For 50 years, the kingdom has had a rentier economy just like the rest of GCC countries where the State provides the needs of citizens from birth to death.
This kind of economy must end as it turned the entire society into a parasite that depends on the State so the cost keeps on increasing. This is why the current Saudi leadership is taking a number of steps to reduce the unemployment rate either by replacing expatriates with Saudis or establishing industrial partnerships with major countries — on top of which is the Saudi-American partnership. This partnership started with the visit of American President Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia in May 2017.
Since this visit, rumor has it that the Saudi-American agreements valued at $460 billion were donations of Saudi Arabia to America. Those ‘seeking to make it crooked’ spread the rumor and they are still doing so. They did not take into consideration that the money is for projects aimed at transferring main American industries to Saudi Arabia. They did not pay attention to the large number of job opportunities which will be generated by these projects not only for Saudis but all Arabs as well.
This happens concurrently with new procedures concerning the private sector that serves as main partner for the State in the area of development.
In this context, we have a word to say to Saudi Crown Prince and ‘designer’ of Saudi economy Prince Muhammad bin Salman. Some of the procedures taken recently affected business, especially the high fees which sometimes exceed the capacity of companies and institutions to pay. This means they will not meet the market’s demands, in addition to reduction of the average rate of employing nationals in the private sector. The State will eventually be obligated to employ them in the public sector.
We have to admit that we, in the Gulf Cooperation Council, need to exchange benefits especially in the field of labor. Hence, supporting the private sector and facilitating procedures for private businesses will lift a major part of the burden from the shoulders of the State. So, the gradual imposition of new fees during the transitional period will be more useful for both the State and the private sector. This will protect the national labor force and give a chance for companies to adapt to the new procedures and avoid shock which might bring about economic decline.
Unquestionably, the non-stop communication between decision-makers and businessmen on issues in a transparent manner must be the main objective in order to develop the State and the society to be in line with modern age and to meet modern requirements. This will also cut the way for those ‘seeking to make it crooked’ and want to make the State into a milking cow or a place where corruption moves freely. It is then essential to keep the channels of communication open.
The recent decisions taken by the State need to be revised from time to time in order to avoid troubles. It is wise to listen to those affected by these decisions to avoid turning economic reform into a struggle between the private sector and the State. If this happens, both parties will become losers and then those referred to in the Holy Quran as the ones who deviate from the path of Allah and ‘seeking to make it crooked’ will achieve their objectives.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah – Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times