the great equalizer
What a busy fortnight it was for obituary writers, eulogizing poets and papers-filled advertisers of solace and consolation.
It all started on a tragic note by the loss of a young charming prince behind the driving wheel that left his father, the King, deeply shattered. He felt it– as it was reported- partly his fault as he had called shortly before the incident on his son to hurry to join them for dinner at the garden. There was a genuine air of sympathy, dampened only by a matter of misplaced protocol. Someone saw fit that the principal recipient of consolation, is a head of state nonetheless, and must be available in a different palace to receive arriving foreign dignitaries. There, he admirably kept his complete composure and regalia, while many commoner islanders who converged upon the other announced palace were received by the deceased prince’s grand uncle and a brother. Nothing personal against one of them, but many amongst those who made the distance were keen on expressing their sympathy by shaking the hand of the very grieving father, not someone’s else. It was Protocol 1, people 0.
This missed opportunity was followed by another. A well placed group asked for a mosque to be built in memory and name of the deceased youth. Might it not be a better idea if it were a permanent national campaign to tackle speed or juvenile driving, spearheaded by no less than the King himself? One that will see him address the young drivers frankly and tell them that the life of each and every one of them is dear to all of us, and that the formula one event was meant to spin-off the island’s economic indicators – and not its mortality rate- upward.
The state media also missed an opportunity to bring a thaw to the very frozen gulf between the rulers and the ruled, as the TV coverage focused on showing who amongst foreign dignitaries attended or cabled, and not in the sentiments of the average man and woman of the street. Not to mention the missed occasion to introduce to us the other affected side of the family, especially to folks like me who didn’t know – had it not been for a couple of nabati poems- that the deceased prince carried the name of his maternal grand father, a brave and generous chief, and an emir in his own right of a sub-branch of the Bani Murra tribe, and a present commander of the 40th Regiment of the Saudi National Guard, the bedrock providing stability for our neighbourly vast Kingdom. He was dispatched with a force of 800 in the 60’s to Najran to defend the southern frontier against any advance by the combined forces of Egyptians and Yemeni Republicans and remained five years there until his mission ended with the breakout of the 1967 war. He also was on top of a force near Al-Khafji defending the northern frontiers during Operation Desert Storm of 1991. The 40th regiment, composed of the same tribe members and has Bgaig as its base, today proudly assumes the protection burden of a significant chunk of oil installations, notably pipelines pumps, in the
BTV was continuing with its wall to wall holy recitations when another piece of sad news came knocking, the demise of Sheikh Jaber of
The one story that captured the headlines of almost every grand daily of the world yesterday seemed to be nothing but an obituary piece of Fatah pushed to front page, in the wake of its defeat to Hamas at the hand of another greatly humbling equalizer of sort: the ballot box. Has Fatah finally caught up with its irreversible Hatf?
From a movement that garnered a revered iconic status attained by no other in the 60’s and 70’s, to one that walks and breathes like the quintessential Arab regime: grand scale corruption, incompetent authoritarianism, subcontracting for the occupier, and worse. How did this descent happen? Was it simply the result of an extremely successful “co-opt & contain” policy? Or the fall that follows the forbidden fruit of Authority?
On the other shoe, you have Hamas, with origin in the oldest pan-Islamic resurgence movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, scoring the most dramatic legislative upset in the history of the Jamaa anywhere. The Muslim Brotherhood, banned and persecuted in an Arab
Welcome to dem-occ-ratic times in the Greater Middle East. As Arab governments conduct their own gradual demockratizing (copyright to SBG) experiments, non-Arab powers are not that far behind with their own occupation-sandwiched democcractic steps. But unlike phase I in
As the sun was setting on once heroic Fatah that eventful Thursday, the people of another once-occupied territory, Kosovo, were turning in their hundreds of thousands for the funeral of a national hero of their own: Ibrahim Rugova, the intellectual who was the reflective face of his people’s struggle to break away from the yoke of a genocidal regime, and later was elected president of this UN-administered province. That reminded a friend of a conversation he had with another friend from amongst ex-Belgrade Arabs, whether his group foresaw, sensed or forewarned of the level of hostility and hatred harboured by some Serbian circles towards Bosnian Muslims and Ethnic Albanian Kosovars (and Croats) that led to an impending doom in former Yugoslavia in the 90’s. His response was a tirade against the agents and fifth columnists who pave the way for American imperialist designs in the Balkan. The friend protested “But there was deportation of tens of thousands of Kosovars, and ethnic cleansing and mass graves?” . “Do you believe the exaggerated claims of the media, my friend?” he retorted, “Or men like Ibrahim Rugova, who only dreamed of being parachuted to power under American and Nato air strikes?” .
These days, as our newspapers are lettered and littered by references to a whole class of Iraqis – whose people lived through a holocaust of their own- as nothing but collaborators who arrived on American and British tanks, we remember Ibrahim Rugova.