Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Revolution is in the air!

It is the most apparant anti-imperialist manifestation to date. It was given minimal if not totally biased media coverage, but last Sunday's mass opposition rally in Beirut, must have been the largest mass mobilisation in Arabia for a long time. Over two million lebanese called for a national unity government. At least there still seems to be some breath in the dying arab nationalist horse, whether you ideologically agree or not, this could be a turning point, hopefully we will see others raise the above banner against corruption, imperialist collusion, and dictatorship in this antagonistic part of the world.

Christians shoulder to shoulder with muslims - chador-clad women carrying a banner of the Christian leader, "Awn for president".

Power in unity and alliance, Hizbollah alongside Amal, alongside the Christian Maronite Awn movement, altayyar alwatani alhurr, and I don't know what Pi is ?

Niktat Marjaiyoun and hence the cups of tea are referring to "Minister of ping-pong" Ahmed Fatfat who served tea to Israeli troops when they invaded the southern town of Marjaiyoun.

One protestor was holding this picture of Johnson's baby shampoo, he dedicated it to the very tearful and sensitive Prime Minister "boohoo" Siniora who broke into tears everytime the war was mentioned - he defintely needs this special "لا دموع بعد اليوم" formula.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Bahrain and the new ME

What is the best way for a a totalitarian Arab regime of telling it’s US master that a democratic project in the Middle-east is not in their mutual interest? What explains the US’s u-turn on its greater Middle–east project ? Where are the thriving Arab democracies that the US set out to promote?

The US shoved democracy down Iraq’s throat, it failed, having no legitimacy whatsoever amid a security vacuum. The US shuns Palestinian democracy altogether because it detests the elected Hamas government. While in Lebanon, it hasn’t hidden it’s disdain of the civil protests that will bring down the pro-US government while outwardly supporting the cedar revolution against Syrian de facto rule that used the same tactics last year. Brushstroking all of the above as evidence of expansionist Islamism is the justification of the US’s shift in policy of ‘democratisation’ and in faviour of a ‘new Middle-east’, which we were supposedly witnessing the ‘pangs’ of. So what is the new Middle-East?

It’s a Middle-east of arab countries that occupy the top 3 news headlines on a daily basis; one in a clear civil war; one that is on the verge of one; and one that is the unresolved perennial anathema that is the bain of the entire region. It is ‘new’ because it sets a precedent in pan-regional political instability anywhere in the modern world.

Where does Bahrain fit in the new Middle-East? It maybe small compared to the above, but on such a shaky boat, the region isn't difficult to rock. The Bahraini regime played it shrewdly in two main ways; domestically it thwarted a national constitutional movement by constraining it within a powerless parliament and diffusing it along sectarian lines; and internationally, by showing it’s US masters that the product of any arab democracy is yet another big-bad islamist demon. You still wonder why no organised ‘liberal’ representatives made it through the elections? The concerted electoral fraud is nothing personal against Fakhro, Nu’aimi, or Shareef. Not because they lack popular support, rather, it is exactly because they are ‘non-tainted’ nationalists that they are not politically desirable. Having an islamist parliament suits the current regime just fine, because it's a good excuse not to have one at all in the current regional climate. So with a dollop of salafi candidates, a dollop of cash, a dollop of 8000 floating votes, unleashing the full-force of a defeatist shia majority cramming for pre-restricted minority share of seats, the parliamentary recipe is ready to be served, totally halal islamist ingredients of course - even a teaspoon of 'liberals' in this particular recipe will ruin the sectarian taste. Although the people will ultimately be left legislatively famished, the Khalifa's are rubbing their full stomachs whilst serving a concoction that relieves Condalizza Rice's pangs, who has been convinced that better the undemocratic devil you know, then the democratic one you don't.