Monday, July 11, 2011

An-Nahar Newspaper: It’s a Confusion Fest.. Do You Care To Join Me?

[Administrator's Note: Octavia is now writing articles for An-Nahar Newspaper each week and we will provide them here after they are printed.]

The Arab leader drama continues, this past week was Yemen’s turn. Judging by his badly burned face I’ll bet that Ali Abdallah Saleh was not making a fashion statement with his headdress. I listened to Saleh’s taped message as I watched his stiff demeanor and wondered, why? Why would he still want to speak? Who does he think he’s speaking to? Is he blind to reality or is he blind altogether? Media organizations ran portions of the message and some wondered if they did for the news value of the message or only the freak show aspect of it.

Not far in the distance, a new nation was born. Dozens of dignitaries were at hand to celebrate the independence of the Republic of South Sudan. Heading the celebrations, Sudan’s President Omar El-Bashir and the UN’s Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Wait a minute. Wasn’t El-Bashir indicted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur? Wasn’t there a warrant for his arrest exactly a year ago? Is the international community too busy to comment on the addition of a new nation in a turbulent region, plagued with violence and war and a obviously missing roadmap to the future?

With neighboring Egypt going through a second revolution in one year, and a west lost for words of wisdom to offer anyone not for the lack of trying but for the apparent disinterest by the rest of the world in any word of advice from the west, I have no choice but to imagine what the west is thinking, “Congratulations to South Sudan for now, Mr. Bashir we’ll deal with you later.”

Then, there is Bahrain where a popular uprising was crushed collectively by neighboring Gulf States and a deafening western silence.

In case you didn’t notice, Iraq is in shambles and, it has asked the U.S. to keep its troops post 2011 and the U.S. is likely to agree. It is now important to determine sooner than later its final numbers and define the nature of its future presence there.

Lebanon offers a unique and very interesting situation whereby the indictment by a UN tribunal in a high-level assassination case is challenged by a local militant group. Thus, the Lebanese government looks unlikely to fulfill its duties towards the world community of implementing the arrest warrants issued by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

The scene elsewhere looks like this: U.S.-lead counter-terrorism activities in Yemen along with a disfigured and internationally discredited man still claiming to be President speaking from a foreign nation about democracy and dialogue. NATO-led strikes in Libya and a defiant Moammar Gaddafi who released an audio message announcing his plans to go absolutely nowhere. U.S. and French ambassadors have walked into the dangerously anti-regime protest-raging Syrian city of Hama provoking the Syrian government at a time when western sanctions against President Assad and his regime icons continue to rise.

It’s fair to say that all the above developments render any diplomatic hope a near impossibility.

In the middle of all this, Iran is watching and waiting for an opportune moment to act in its long awaited Shiite spread plan. Israel is on a flurry of diplomatic missions to build alliances and strengthen ties to prevent any chance of an upcoming Palestinian independent state announcement or recognition.

Ahhhh the west and what it has brought this region…
Ahhhh the leaders of this region and what they have brought their people...
Ahhhh the Arabs and what they have brought onto themselves…
Ahhhh what a confusion fest!! Many of us are in it, not by choice, but by geography or nationality…

The moment in modern history when I saw some of this coming was in 2003 when I watched in awe Saddam Hussein climbing out of his hiding hole, a captured rugged old man, looking nothing like the ruthless man we’ve always seen. Between that and Ali Abdallah Saleh’s TV appearance a long and painful road.. But where to?



Keep the conversation going...

Anonymous Oussama said...

It's a confusion fest, very well put. But then MENA politics have always been confusing. It simmered below the surface until the Arab Spring forced everybody's hand and things came to the surface.

It is very simple Qaddafi and Saleh, rightly or wrongly, still believe that they have supporters in their countries, constituencies as large if not larger than their opposition.

Mr. Al Bashir is a partner in the creation of the new republic and he is expecting the rewards form the west.

Iraq is at shambles so what is new in a country that mixes religion and ethnicity in one pot. There are Arabs and Kurds or Shiites and Sunnis but not Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. All three groups came to the conclusion that they need the USA to stay in the country in some shape or form. Happy days, a few ten thousands American soldiers in the region paid for by Iraq, isn't that what the USA wanted in the first place; Foot soldiers in Iraq, Air Force in Qatar and Navy in Bahrain.
The Kurdish problem irks Iran, Turkey and Syria, an independent state in Northern Iraq will have implications for these major regional players, no one wants an independent Kurdish state just as no one wants Shiite hegemony in the region.

These are not new issues, they were there before the Arab Spring and will remain there for a long time.

I don't want to sound pessimistic and I still think the region will have a better and brighter future.

July 11, 2011 at 11:06 AM  

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