The deputy president of some imaginary entity called the “Arab Parliament” emphasized the importance of a ‘plan of action’ being prepared by the “Arab Parliament” to tackle terrorism in the Arab world. He said this will prepare realistic methods to fight terrorism’ and all “foreign plots” besieging the Arab world. Apparently there are no “domestic plots” besieging the Arab world.
That is fine and dandy, preparing a plan of action for fighting terrorism and all foreign plots. In fact plans of action are very popular in the Arab world, usually prepared by groups, each created and set up by a subcommittee of a committee of a bunch of others.
Of course there is no such thing as an “Arab Parliament”. There are no elections for an Arab “Parliament”. It is just a bombastic title that tries to sound like the truly elected European Parliament in Strasbourg. They only hold periodic gatherings of representatives of Arab parliamentarians and appointed councils and other government representatives. Only six Arab countries have what we can call “parliaments”, with a stretch, with some varying degrees of authority: Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait. The rest have appointed councils, one or two are even called parliaments by mistake, selected or named outright by kings, potentates, or military dictators.
Now if they hold their meetings (they are not sessions) in Strasbourg, many more might be tempted to run for office. There would be bitter fights within the members of local tribes to win and hang around Strasbourg. Hell, I would do so if I were one of these tribal types.
Now if they can do what real parliaments do, ensuring the rights and the power of the people…………
Other Related Rantings:
POLITICS AS A JOKE: ARAB PARLIAMENT, WTF PARLIAMENT, ON ELECTING DOG-CATCHERS……
THE LATE QADDAFI ON ARAB PARLIAMENTS AND 112TH U.S. CONGRESS……
SAUDI SHURA COUNCIL AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT: FRUSTRATED MALES SHOPPING FOR SHMAGH WITHOUT SATAN……
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
“France’s government is drawing up a new set of rules for theatres after Paris Opera ejected woman for wearing a veil during a performance, the institution’s deputy director said Sunday. The incident took place when a veiled woman was spotted on the front row of a performance of La Traviata at the Opera Bastille, Jean-Philippe Thiellay told AFP, confirming a media report. France brought in a law in 2011 banning anyone from wearing clothing that conceals the face in a public space, or face a 150 euro ($190) fine………. France’s ministry of culture said a bill was currently being drafted to remind theatres, museums and other public institutions under its supervision of the rules regarding veils……..”
The French worry a lot about losing ‘their culture’. Years ago they imposed rules and limits on how much foreign music French radio stations could broadcast. I am not sure how that affected stations that broadcast classical music: since the overwhelming majority of composers were Austrian, German, and Russian, with a smattering of other nationalities, including French. They were mainly worried about American music. Maybe that is why they were skeptical about NATO: they saw it as an Anglo-Saxon creation. They also tried to eliminate or limit ‘English’ words used in French media (no attempt was made to eradicate Latin influence since the original language of Gaul has vanished into it).
Now they continue to worry about hijab and niqab and Arabic (I have seen normally-rude Paris CDG airport staff openly mocking Arabic in front of foreign visitors). Yet, when they talk about ‘their culture’, they must mean the whole culture in France. That must surely include the ‘culture’ of the millions of French citizens and residents who are not of European descent. That means North African and African as well. Come to think of it, the French are as much in cultural denial as we are on the Gulf. This French denial is almost like, say, if the rulers of the United Arab Emirates ban such languages as Hindi or Urdu, which a majority of the population of the UAE and Qatar speak.
I am not fond of the Neqab or Burqa: they raise security issues at airports and elsewhere. They are also probably imposed on many of the women who wear them. But I must admit that some of these women are probably better off to keep on wearing them. After all, occasionally there is something positive to be said for the imagination. Yet all this also has some worldwide implications.
So, maybe if and when a majority of the French parliament become of Muslim descent, then maybe this attire policy will change. Just as it is possible now for the UAE parliament, for example, to vote to make Hindi and Urdu official languages.
Wait, my bad: there is no elected parliament in the UAE. Maybe after they impose free elections in a liberated Syria they will import the idea and have their own free elections. The same can apply for the Saudis and the Qataris. I can’t wait to see King Whatishisname and Shaikh Whatishisass bumbling in election debates.
Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockleshells
And pretty maids all in a row.
“Deputy spokesperson of the United States State Department Marie Harf said in a press briefing on Monday that Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is leading the country’s democratic transition, despite recent criticism by the US of Egypt’s human rights record and the US holding some of its aid to Egypt pending democratic reform……….”
Also sprach U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf. But in fairness what else can the lady say?
Transitioning to democracy is a gentrified term to use now for Arab dictatorships and absolute tribal family rule. Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi is transitioning Egypt to democracy, hence he is still part of an axis of goodness, almost certified by Good Housekeeping. In the process he has overthrown a freely-elected president, the man who promoted him to defense minister, and thrown him in prison with a dozen or so trumped up charges. In the process his security forces and his soldiers have massacred a few thousand civilian protesters, the largest such massacre in modern Egyptian history. In the process his security have arrested and thrown in prison tens of thousands of people who disagree with him. In the process he has got himself “elected” against a hapless tool, with more than 97% of the vote (in a very low turnout election). In the process his courts have sentenced almost two thousand protesters to death, and the toll keeps rising.
By the same standards we can also argue that the Al Saud absolute tribal princes are transitioning the Arabian Peninsula toward democracy. We can also say that the vile absolute tribal rulers of Bahrain are transitioning the captive island of imported mercenaries and teargas toward democracy. We could have said the same about Mu’ammar Gaddafi and we can say it abut Bashar Al Assad. Etc , etc, etc………
Ten, twenty, thirty years from now, they will still be transitioning their peoples toward democracy. With a lot of help from their soldiers and their security agents, and in some cases with their imported mercenaries.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
Western media, and many Western politicians, like to simplify things when it comes to the Middle East. This is also mutual: Muslims and Arabs tend to simplify things Western, often engulfing them in conspiracy stories real or imagined. Western media is used to picking one or two villains from the ‘opposing camp of the season’, and vilify them. The easiest form of vilification, the best sound bite, the cheapest shot is the “Hitler” comparison. It has been used by the media, by politicians, even recently by Hillary Clinton (about Putin in Ukraine). To his credit President Obama has not stooped down to using the Hitler comparison yet.
Suddenly there is a potential new Arab leader being slowly groomed in the media for the ‘villain’ role. Actually an unlikely one: that is why he is considered a rather ‘soft’ villain, perhaps a bumbling one. That is Nouri al Maliki of Iraq, the man who won the job through parliamentary votes. I know, I know, the Iraqi parliament is divided along sectarian and ethnic lines and probably needs a stiff kick in the derriere, but name one Arab parliament (of those few who have parliaments) where it is not divided along sectarian or tribal or ethnic lines? Lebanon? You can’t get more sectarian than that, with hereditary warlords thrown in for good measure. Egypt? You’d probably get chased out of town if you try to run as member of a smaller Muslim sect (not to mention a Muslim Brother). Gulf GCC? Most members of the GCC have appointed legislatures that the kings or shaikhs appoint and dis-appoint (Kuwait being the only GCC country where the legislature is really elected, although along tribal and sectarian lines). Talking the eastern Arab countries: the western part from Libya to Morocco is somewhat more complex. In Iran candidates require approval to run (or stand if you are British or sit if you are Arab) for office.
So back to al Malilki. The vast media of the kings and princes and potentates of the Gulf are already setting the tone for the next attempted political coup in Iraq. They tried it once before a few years ago, when they sought to push Saudi agent Iyad Allawi to the leadership post. Against the opposition of a majority of Iraqis, but he had no real hope of getting a parliamentary majority. I agree that Al Maliki should not seek a new term, not because of the self-serving claims made in the media of the despotic Saudi and Qatari and UAE potentates. He should not be reappointed for two reasons: (1) because as leader he has failed to keep all Iraqis peaceful and prosperous, (2) a new term would be like clinging to power, almost what all Arab leaders do for too long. If he should go, that would be to set a precedent for rotation of leadership. A good democratic thing to do.
As for Mr. Allawi, Saudi Arabia’s man in Iraq, his name is not even under consideration anymore, which is very realistic indeed.
Les Vaches Qui Rient
Even before Hosni Mubarak took over in 1981, many Arabs had started calling him “La Vache Qui Rit”, the Laughing Cow, after a popular French cheese spread that advertised a lot on Arab television.
The idea was that when he was vice president under Anwar Sadat, all he did was grin during cabinet meetings. Grin and nod approval at whatever Sadat said. That was the plausible claim.
Enter Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi. Now Al Sisi also grins and nods a lot, but mainly in the presence of Saudi princes and Gulf potentates. I fully expect him to be considered the newest version of the old one. La Vache Qui Rit 2.0.
As for military-appointed interim president Adly Mansour Al Zombie, it is back to the cellars for him. Back to the dusty judicial bureaucracy from whence he was plucked to play pretend president.
As I noted in my last posting (Part 1) the Kuwaiti opposition has long avoided dealing with its
main problem: it is only a partial opposition. So far it has failed to move away from its tribal and Islamist genesis (no pun intended). It has failed to convince
large identifiable and distinct segments of society to join it. It needs to clean house to become a truly broad representative national movement. Its leaders also face several problems of their own making and not related to regime policies:
- They are heavily lead by tribal and Islamist men whose electoral success is based mainly on a couple of large tribes. That is how most of them win elections: cross-tribal voting is rare. The shift last year to “one-man-one-vote” reduced that effect.
- They are an extremely reactionary group, which is natural given the tribal, sectarian, and Islamist hue of the bloc. When they gained a majority in the Assembly in 2012 some of their members immediately joined the Saudi Mufti in calling for the destruction of all churches in the Gulf GCC states. They all prepared and voted for and passed a blasphemy law: to make “blasphemy” punishable by death. Presumably “blasphemy” according to the definition of the Wahhabi Salafis and Muslim Brotherhood who control the ‘movement’ (it was fortunately vetoed by the Emir).
- They have consistently shown a strong aversion to criticizing the (much) more repressive Saudi and Bahrain regimes. They are against those who would call for the same thing they want for Kuwait: accountability and elected governments in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. That is partly sectarian and partly related to tribal (and possibly some business) connections across the border. They strongly supported the Saudi quasi-invasion of Bahrain to crush the popular uprising.
- Many of their tribal and Islamist leaders are heavily and proactively sectarian. Their Salafi (and some Muslim Brother) members, a dominant majority of the bloc, called in 2012 when they controlled the Assembly for restrictions of worship on the country’s Shi’a Muslims. That call specifically included stationing government spies inside all Shi’a religious services (no sense of irony here).
- Their leadership seems fixated on the former prime minister, who has been out of office for two years. However, the alleged documents (partly) shown at last night’s gathering concerned transactions purportedly by the former prime minister. It comes across almost like a personal vendetta between the some of the opposition leaders and the ex-PM.
“These discredited Egyptian liberals made their bed with the generals, now they are being forced to sleep in it. So just relax and enjoy it for the next thirty years: you’ve earned it……………” Me
Here is my broad-brush take on political developments in Egypt since 2011:
- In February 2011 during the uprising against the regime of Hosni Mubarak, many of his Egyptian opponents claimed that the Obama administration was trying to shore up his position, to keep him in power.
- On the other hand, many of his supporters complained that the United States was trying to overthrow him, by not helping him. Saudi King Abdullah, who famously claimed the protesters at Tahrir were foreign agents, is still pissed upset at Obama for not helping Mubarak crush his people.
- After Mubarak fell, almost everybody in Egypt who was not an army general claimed the Obama administration was keeping the SCAF military junta in power. Some among the military probably suspected that Obama was ready to throw them under one of those crowded Cairo buses.
- In the summer of 2012, Mohammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood won the presidency in free and fair close elections. His domestic and Arab opponents mostly acted as if the Obama administration had somehow helped him win the election. The Islamists claimed that he won in spite of American plots against him. Persian Gulf princes and potentates who could not tell an election from the proverbial ‘hole in the ground’ apparently suspected foul play. Egypt’s liberals joined forces with the oligarchs and the Mubarakistas and the Wahhabis to call for ‘restoration’ of the feloul.
- In July of 2013 General Al Sisi, whom Morsi had promoted to minister of defense, stabbed him in the back by staging a military coup that overthrew the elected president. Al Sisi was urged to act by three factions: Egypt’s deluded liberals, the feloul, and the Gulf princes and potentates. The Muslim Brotherhood -MB- claimed the Americans were in cahoots with the military. Admittedly that was a very tempting suspicion, given the history.
- At the time U.S. congressional delegations to Cairo had divergent opinions: McCain/Graham said correctly that July 3 of 2013 was a military coup; Bachmann/Gohmert (the idiot delegation) praised the military coup even as they told Egyptians of the joys of American electoral democracy.
- The other side in Egypt, the liberals and oligarchs and feloul, claimed the Americans had made a deal with the MB and had wanted them in power. Egypt’s ‘liberals’, most of whom had urged the military to stage a coup and supported it, now proceeded to whine that the military had made plans with Washington to take power (after a coup that these same liberals pushed for and supported).
Continue reading America on the Nile, Whining on the Nile: Time to Grow Up on the Nile?…….. →
Syrian media reported that an ecstatic Bashar Al Assad met with an uncharacteristically cheerful Iranian parliamentary delegation that had monitored the Syrian election. The Iranians insisted they did not care who won as long as the election went smoothly and everybody from Al Raqqah through, er, Beirut got to vote. They declared themselves satisfied with the election process. They claimed the elections were as free and fair as they had wished them to be, and the results (Assad won with 88%) were fantastic. “Could not be better”, said one bearded Iranian who insisted they were in Damascus as just impartial observers “to keep the honest, honest”.………
Egyptian media is quoted by my Cairo source claiming that General Al Sisi met with a gaggle of Gulf princes and potentates who had monitored the Egyptian election from the GCC democracy-monitoring headquarters in Riyadh. They declared the voting to have been free, fair, and very democratic, “almost as good as anything we have never seen back home”. One worthy grumbled that it was actually too democratic “if you ask me“, even if not tribal enough. When asked about the results (Sisi won with 97%), they said it was obviously fantastic and ordained by Allah and “why haggle over a lousy 3% discrepancy?”………
One smirking shaikh added his own version of a
Parthian parting shot: “unlike that Great Big Zero election held in Syria“…….
“Declaration on behalf of the European Union
on the presidential elections in Egypt
The holding of the presidential elections marks an important step in the imp
the constitutional roadmap towards the transition to democracy in Egypt. The Europe
Union expresses its willingness to work closely with the new authorities in Eg
ypt in a
constructive partnership with a view to strengthening our bilateral r
The EU congratulates Abdel Fattah El-Sissi, as the new President of Egypt
, and trusts that
he will tackle the serious challenges faced by the country and the new governm
them the dire economic situation, the deep divisions within society, the security sit
and the respect of the human rights of all Egyptian citizens in line with inter
obligations and guaranteed by the new Constitution adopted last January.
On the basis of the preliminary statement of the EU Election Observat
ion Mission the EU
takes good note of the overall peaceful and orderly conduct of the elections……………….”
Yadda, yadda, yadda in European bureaucratese.
The EU congratulated Generalissimo Field Marshal Al Sisi for winning his rigged Egyptian election with 97% of the vote. Effectively they congratulated him for overthrowing the elected president of Egypt, Morsi and taking over the state. They did not congratulate Bashar Al Assad for winning the other funny Arab election, the Syrian election. Perhaps because Bashar won only 88% of the vote and did not reach the required Arab majority of 90%.
They did, however congratulate the latest chubby oligarch to become president of Ukraine.