Any thinking Muslim with a shred of self-respect must have cringed in disgust on watching the buffoonery of Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the UN recently.

These two leaders taking centre-stage at the General Assembly displayed the sickness that has turned the Arab-Muslim world into a cultural wasteland and political prison.

Adonis is a cult figure of Greek mythology and the pseudonym of the Arab world’s most revered living poet, Ali Ahmad Sa’id (born in 1930), a native of Syria and residing in France for the past three decades.

In a television interview on the Lebanese Arab News Broadcast done in November 2006, Adonis expounded on the emptiness of the Arab world. He said (translation provided by MEMRI – Middle East Media Research Institute):

‘If I look at the Arabs, with all their resources and great capacities, and I compare what they have achieved over the past century with what others have achieved in that period, I would have to say that we Arabs are in a phase of extinction.’

When asked to explain, Adonis replied: ‘We have become extinct. We have the quantity. We have the masses of people, but a people becomes extinct when it no longer has a creative capacity, and the capacity to change its world.’

History is a cemetery for people and cultures driven to extinction for the lack of freedom under the arbitrary rule of tyrants.

Gadhafi and Ahmadinejad are the poster images of despots in the greater Middle East, and the nature of their rule explains how their people have been crippled by the Islamist ideology at war with freedom, democracy and Israel.

This is a sickness for which there is no immediate cure. And certainly no cure can be provided through concessions to Arab-Muslim demands by Israel, when such concessions will only fuel the deep-seated anti-Semitism that pervades the region.

Mezri Haddad, a Tunisian writer in echoing Adonis on Arabs, has observed there is little distinction to be made between moderate and extremist Islamists in Iran, for instance, since both are responsible in reducing ‘the Qur’an to a case of nauseating anti-Semitism.’

In regard to the Iranian regime Haddad writes (MEMRI’s translation from November 2006), ‘One cannot reform a theocracy; one must throw it back into the wastebasket of history from which it never should have cropped up in the first place.’

Adonis and Haddad are not alone in understanding the sickness of the Arab-Muslim world, and what this means for their people.

Iranians in vast numbers have shown their deep contempt in recent weeks for their rulers and their wish to be free of them. They know how depraved are these rulers, being neither Islamic nor republican in a tyranny diabolically called Islamic Republic.

But there are many outside the Arab-Muslim world, and not merely Muslims, who entertain the illusion the sickness there results in part from wrongs done to Arabs and Muslims by the West.

Hence if the West and, in particular, the United States atone for these wrongs the Arab-Muslim world might be then sufficiently cured of its sickness.

Such illusions embolden the wicked and condemn those living inside tyranny to wither away in their wasteland without complaining.