Translated by Hisham from ويكيليكس..حروب جديدة من نوع أخر
Information and communications technology and the publishing tools associated with it, are changing the face of the world. Arab regimes go on censoring and arresting people who were expressing an opinion or disseminating an information on the Internet. They still don’t get it. They think they live in some medieval ivory tower. But, as it turned out, this is not business as usual anymore.
The sheer ignorance among officials, in this part of the world, about the new media, beggars belief. That shadowy, overlaping zone where real and virtual meet is little known about. What they ignore is that we, the people, no more live in their “real” world anymore. We live in that grey area where virtual and real intertwine. No one epitomizes that better than Julian Assange and Wikileaks. The logo itself, ironically, is an esoteric document that needs to be decoded. It says it all: an hourglass and a transition from a dark and secretive world into a brighter one.
For me, the leaked documents have transformed the notions of sovereignty and borders. They have proved one new and undeniable reality: information is queen. How to master this information and turn it into one’s favor remains to be seen. I think we live in an exciting new era. One that calls for a re-arrangement of the old ideas and concepts taken for granted. Especially in those countries where information technology is still associated only with entairtainement and trivialities.
I was struck by a question in an article raised by a fellow blogger where he wondered: what if we had our own Moroccoleaks website where we would publish all the secrets and scandals? Of course such a project is a fantasy given the current state of affairs. Maybe in a hundred years from now. But for the time being, it seems impossible. There are at least two reasons for that. First, where on earth could one find confidential documents to prove corruption or any similar mischief when we know what we know about the way our administration is run? Most public ans semi-public administrations still work with pen and paper. The bulk of transactions and correspondence between banks and administrations are sent via traditional mail and public transport. One would have to go up and down the country to collect the documents before publishing them. That’s just an impossible task, provided of course you access them in the first place.
Second, let’s suppose you are indeed in possession of such compromising documents and want to publish them. How do you think you go about doing that and who the hell will support you? Is there any Law in Morocco to protect investigative journalists for example? The answer is no. The nature of the Moroccan society itself will not help you keep any secret no matter how hard you try to preserve it. At some point someone will report you to the authorities. Will they try to wait until they can fabricate a case against you as they did with Julian Assange? I’m not sure, because there is no need for such precautions here.
Another important issue raised lately was the fact most Arab bloggers didn’t seem to pay that much attention to the whole Wikileaks matter. The main reason in my view is that people already suspected these matters to be true and therefore were not surprised nor shocked. These are things we know but we don’t speak publicly about given the lack of freedom of expression.
Fear from government retribution has led both the press and citizen journalists to adopt a rather stupid modus operandi: each country published cables about rival countries, for obvious political reasons. Some countries have gone as far as inventing fake cables and attributed them to Wikileaks. To sweep one’s own scandals under the carpet and engage in actively damaging other’s reputation, is the height of hypocrisy! I disaprove of this method but the more I think about it the more I realize this is maybe the safest way of getting everything published and the conversation going.
Arab bloggers didn’t show enthusiasm about the cablegate because they are in a state of frustration. They already know that even if they do speak and address the issues raised by the leaked documents, nothing realy will happen. For my part, the leaks won’t have immediate effect on politicians and decision makers. Maybe the consequences will appear in the future. Many documents are still to be released. We’re told there are some very sensitive diplomatic cables in the pipeline. Let’s wait and see.