Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Mental Trips of Sinbad II

Less often than we'd like to admit, we're very fragile creatures; even if we overly portray ourselves as a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. For the most part, we're hiding behind self-made walls of pride and prejudice, of vanity and greed, heading aimlessly with the stride of the knowledgeable goat being led by a shepherd's dog.

Our minds are our compasses, and despite them being shallow pools of rain, sometimes; they do reflect the stars a million light years away, and those stars, are our eventual destination, if we choose to engage all our senses in the art of "living". Humanity is best served by the act of leaving a trace remembered long after one's short "cameo" is over, otherwise it's a waste of space and time.

Live, Love, Loath -moderately- and most of all, Learn; and while doing so, be thankful for God's Grace.

Friday, 11 March 2011

On Arabs, Revolutions, and Conspiracy Theories

There's been a lot of talk about hidden hands behind the Tsunami-style revolutions across the Arab World; and although it's a fair assumption if we take the long history of Conspiracy Theories' relationship with the collective Arab psyche, it is also humiliating to the human spirit, which is the same all over the world, for no human spirit is more refined or capable of change than any other.

We have to admit; in the beginning, that Arab Will has been deficient since the beginning of the 20th century; the 400 odd years of Ottoman rule contributed to the dormancy of the free spirit of the Arab, partly because the Ottoman empire was seen as the House of Khilafah, the most divine rule in Islam, and revolting against it would be considered one of the greatest acts of heresy imaginable, and partly because the economic and social state under which Arabs were, made it increasingly impossible for them to think about anything more than earning their daily bread.

As of late 1880s, Arab intellects who've been exposed to the diversity of the world, through their travels to the West and East, such as Muhammad Abdo and Jamal Al-Deen Al Afghani to name a couple, began advocating Change as an element of Reform -Rather than Reform as an Element of Change- they taught and preached about the virtue of changing the Islamic self view, which roughly translates to looking into a mirror and changing one's own self before seeking to change the surrounding circumstances, a clear understanding of the Qur'anic verse:

إِنَّ اللهَ لا يُغَيِّـرُ مَا بِقَومٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّـرُوا مَا بِـِأنفُسِهم

"Allah changeth not the condition of a folk until they (first) change that which is in their hearts"

This revolutionary vision, gave the responsibility of achieving Freedom to humans, rather than the centuries old silent acceptance of tyranny -in all its forms- and labeling it as a God-willed Destiny. The fresh breath of air the Islamic mind got during that period, made it possible for the Arab mind to recover the long lost identity of being an Arab, from Egypt to Syria to Palestine and Lebanon, Arabs began identifying themselves as such, regardless of their religious background, a revert to the thought of supremacy of humanity over taboos.

I'm not going to bore you with a long lesson in history for you all are more educated on the matter than I am, so to make a long story short, I would argue that the past five generations of Arabs have lived through one setback after the other, from the Great Arab Revolt's Utopian promise of a unified Arab state's ending with Sykes-Picot, to the creation of Israel and the loss of Jerusalem, to Saddam's lost dream of Arab potential, to the endless pointless peace process. Arabs got used to the thought of self degradation and finger pointing, blame became our favourite pass-time, and docking responsibility became our greatest sport, we've learned to enjoy defeat in a masochistic way affecting all aspects of our lives and driving us to revert to the belief that misery, tyranny, corruption and decadence is Fate only breakable by God, for which we have to wait as if it were a table of bounties delivered from heaven as we lay on our sides and watch.

Some would argue that the US has a role in the Arab revolutions, others would blame Aljazeera's Israeli agenda, other others would give the credit to the Muslim brotherhood. All of these hypotheses are deliberately or indeliberately underestimating the power of the human spirit, even if that human spirit belongs to people who have been misrepresented, ignored, deceived and oppressed for centuries. The fact remains, that these revolutions are of the people, by the people and for the people; they're the natural evolution of any human experience similar to the one the Arab world lived through in the past 100 years; it happened in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s, in Latin America in the 1990s and in South East Asia in the past 10 years. And if one could borrow a line from the US declaration of Independence -without suggesting anything to anyone other than asserting the universal equality of man's aspirations- I would say that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal" in their search for a better life, not only in the economic gain and loss meaning of the word, but rather through the embodiment of the supremacy of Freedom over Life itself, even if we've been written off as a domesticated breed.

Let Freedom Ring.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Battle for Tubrok 2011

In the aftermath of the Tunisian and Egyptian popular revolutions, and the role both countries' Armies had in their success, the question that begs itself is this: What is the Combat Ideology of the Arab armies? The combat ideology roughly translates to a clear definition of the rules of engagement; a clear definition of the "enemy", which can be as clear as a national existential enemy like Israel for example, or a local occurring threat from a neighbour or a group in the shape of a military attack or an act of espionage or terrorism.

In both the Egyptian and Tunisian cases, the Combat ideology of the army saw the people as the source of legitimacy and the only constant in the equation, whereas the head of state was seen as the variable, despite him being the commander in chief as per the constitutional delegation within the presidential duties. This was the nexus under which the revolutions succeeded in their ultimate goal of removing the head of state. Without the backing of the armed forces, the people would've been mascaraed and the world wouldn't have known about it, or would've seen and heard about it and would've played the constant hypocritical role of calling for restraint.

Now that the Change Express has moved eastwards through Libya, Yemen and Bahrain, it's particularly interesting to observe the role of the military in these events, the tribal nature of the society in all three countries makes it extremely difficult to make a clear cross section distinction between the professional role of the army as the guardian of national interest and the tribal affiliation its members have, an element that might dictate their political position either with the regime against the people, or with the people against the regime.

Libya is in a league of it's own; the Authority of the people isn't admissible if the people doesn't want Gaddafi; in fact, the people is disposable if they challenge his anti authority.

The leader of the revolution is quite known for his clownish behaviour, a source of endless entertainment for those of us lucky enough not to be living under his glorious rule, but the fact remains that he's a thug, probably the worst thug ruler in the Arab World, he's had connections with international terrorists since the 1970s, from Carlos to Abu Nidal, for no reason other than keeping his name alive around the world; a severe condition of psychotic narcissism. he's been financing civil wars across Africa for decades, swindling his country's wealth on outlandish intellectual excursions and his sons' decadent pleasure. Gaddafi is smarter than he looks -as hard as that may sound- he's been walking back and forth on the tight rope of anti westernism since his rise to power in 1969, hitting and running for attention whenever he gets the chance.

The king of African kings is paying African mercenaries to crack down on his own people's revolt against him. In Gaddafi's dictionary, revolting against a life-time revolutionary needed across the globe is a cardinal sin. The Libyan army's reaction wasn't quite clear in the first few days since February 17th, its combat ideology is probably based on devotion to the leader, rather than the country, but we've seen some interesting examples of heresy against this ideology, several army officers and fighter pilots, as well as some high ranking officials within the military have announced their siding with the people against Gaddafi, a clear indication of their belief in the superiority of country and people over leader, even if the leader is the great Muammar. The turning point in the military's siding with the people was probably Gaddafi's seeking of foreign mercenaries, this will probably be proven to be Gaddafi's fatal error, he ended the people army's allegiance to his great leadership when he bought foreigners to fight the army's people.

Gaddafi's days are numbered, but his fall isn't going to be as graceful as those of Bin Ali and Mubarak, his psychotic obsession on being a loved leader makes it very difficult for him to simply pack and leave, even if he's known for travelling light and living in a mobile tent. He will set a precedent, as he does and either commit suicide or be killed, probably the latter.

It is probably a good mental exercise and/or an excellent fortune telling capability to sit and ponder on the combat ideology of the different Arab countries.

God Save Libya.