Rudderless in Arabia: Waiting for Nasser, Waiting for Godot………….


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“Despite all that, there has been a determined drive by Egypt’s pro-coup media to present Sisi as an independent, even anti-American, figure. There’s even an effort to link him with Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt’s popular Arab nationalist president of the 50s and 60s. That’s partly because Nasser repressed the then US-backed Muslim Brotherhood (along with communists). But it also reflects the fact that Nasser’s reputation as a genuinely independent and progressive leader who stood up to the west and Israel is still strong in Egypt and across the region – and the coup mongers want to use it to give themselves some spurious legitimacy. The idea that the US-dependent Sisi, whose military hierarchy controls vast commercial interests, is a new Nasser is ludicrous. But the propaganda ploy is revealing. Despite his failings and authoritarianism, Nasser is remembered as a leader who stood for regional unity and independence, economic development and social justice………….A democratic 21st-century Nasser …………..

Al Sisi is no Nasser. Nasser was a once-in-a-century phenomenon in the Arab world. As he himself opined in his manifesto Philosophy of the Revolution, he came along and found a role seeking someone to fill it. That sounded self-serving, but he was right: he appeared at the right time and in the right place. And Nasser had characteristics that no Arab leader since has shown. He had charisma and independence and humility and a feeling of responsibility to the less fortunate masses of Egyptians. All those who came after him made their families and their cronies rich from their positions. Nasser’s family reportedly lived on his state pension. Imagine if Bill Clinton or Barack Obama had to live on their government retirements? It would cramp their lifestyles.
As I said, no Arab leader ever came close to Nasser charisma and oratorical skills, not remotely close. The nearest is probably Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah, and I don’t think he comes even close to Nasser, and not only because the Lebanese, like the Syrians, make lousy crowd orators. As for Generalissimo Al Sisi, I have never heard him, but I have doubts. He is acting more like a Pinochet right now.
The Arab peoples are a good and generous people and deserve much better than the blood-sucking despotic clowns who rule them from Morocco to Bahrain. Arabs deserve better than the thuggish robber clans like Al Saud, Al Khalifa, Al-Bashir, and others. They deserve better than being pushed around and manipulated by foreign powers, both regional and far away powers. But the outlook is not promising. Not yet.