Archive for May, 2007

Some Random (Non-Nidoey) Rants

May 28, 2007

I’m (hopefully) back to blogging again. The last few weeks have been eventful to say the least, but hopefully I’m over that and can blog for a bit. There’s a lot swarming around in my head and I don’t even know where to start (the hanger series I started in the last post has about another nine posts that I’m planning to include, but it’ll be impressive if I can actually put them all on paper). For this post I’ll just limit myself to ranting about some current developments (which is not what I like to write about usually).

On the local scene the most striking event in my opinion has been the fiasco surrounding the alleged sale of fasht el jarem. What is most striking about this is not the temerity or absolute disregard shown by our government. We are used to that. After all they have already destroyed Tubli Bay, Dohat Arad, the surrounding coasts and seas of Muharraq, confiscated most of Bahrain’s coast to private elite hands, etc etc. What is surprising and actually encouraging is that people seem to have had enough and have decided to make some sort of stance against it, even if they are only shy and symbolic steps and even if the anger has been vented out at the wrong parties (parliament, irrelevant ministers, etc, your usual fall guys). It reminds me of an old post on a now defunct bahraini blog about glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) in Bahrain. If you allow relative freedom of speech and openness to take place in a corrupt and archaic political situation like ours, and if you don’t couple this with reforms in the country, then people will start talking about the corruption, they will notice what is going around them, and they will start to demand change, whether you want it or not.

Protection of our sea resources, not to mention other natural resources such as agricultural land and the atmosphere, even if it magically happens overnight tomorrow, is obviously unfortunately too little too late. A lot of the coasts and the coral reefs have already been destroyed, and once these resources are destroyed it is pretty much impossible to recover them. However, trying to salvage what remains is better than nothing. This is especially crucial in a small island that has for all its history depended on the sea as its primary source of income. Building up investment banks and misguided grand tourist projects (such as the grotesque riffa views and amwaj islands) is all good and dandy, but you better make sure beforehand you have the necessities of life adequately supplied. Grand islands and buildings are useless if you have no water or food to keep yourself alive in order to benefit from these projects. At this rate there will be no chanad, safi, and hamour, let alone the already dead agricultural local products left for us. We’ll be completely dependant on outside countries for food. That is not a situation we should be in. Let us hope the government heeds the call of the people. I’m not holding my breath.

We all know the source of this problem. Even a ten year old kid does not need to be told who is behind this theft and destruction of resources that should be owned collectively by all the country and its people. I’ll give you a hint. It is not the esteemed ministers of the cabinet. The honourable Fahmi Al Jowdar did not wake up one day and decide, “Hey, I have a great idea. I will sell more than 200 squared kilometers of Bahrain’s maritime resources to some foreigners under the pretext of developing the country!” (less than 1 billion dollars for more than 200 km squared of land? I haven’t heard of a worse deal since Russia sold Alaska off to America for $7.2 million dollars. One wonders if this deal is true how much has actually been undeclared, stolen and siphoned off to some offshore banks. I wouldn’t be surprised if it runs into several billion dollars). Neither did the honourable Minister bin Rajab suddenly get a Eureka moment and decree, “I will sell off a massive chunk of the coasts of Muharraq! And not a single drop of the money will enter into the coffers of the state! And I won’t tell or give a sod about anyone! After all who dares point a finger at me?” No, ministers cannot even sell their shoes without prior approval. They do not make these sorts of decisions. I think we all know who are behind this. You can count the individuals on the (three) fingers of one hand. One of the concerned individuals has even been affectionately nicknamed “eflan ba7ar”, translated as “eflan of the sea” (replace eflan with a name that rhymes with that word); not because of his affection for all things maritime, but because of his affection for selling huge chunks of Muharraqi sea (allegedly the sale of 49 km squared went to him and a similar plot to one of the other individuals concerned here). This problem will unfortunately not be solved unless we can hold these individuals accountable for their rampage and theft. Maybe, just maybe, that will happen in our lifetime and before everything is sold off and destroyed for a petty few american dollars.

On the regional level, one cannot but feel distraught, angry, and ashamed at what is being done to the Palestinian refugees in Naher el Bared camp in Lebanon. It seems all the political parties in Lebanon have decided to cynically gang up on the helpless 40,000 refugees living in squalid conditions in 1km squared of land and to blame all the ills of the country on them. The government, the army, the Harriri camp, the Lebanese forces, 3awn and astonishingly even Hizballah officials and the communist party have all decided to gang up and support the arbitrary destruction of the camp on the pretext of routing out roughly 200 (yes, you read that right, 200) militants who are not even Palestinians. I’m sorry to say but even the speech of Hassan Nasrallah (whom I respect very much and is my favourite current Arabic leader) is not worth much when every single other Hizballah official is cheering on the destruction of the camp. On a side note, you have to admire Nasralleh, regardless of whether you support him or not. My favourite part of his speech was when he sarcastically mocked certain groups by criticizing the government for: 1. not consulting others before deciding to launch the attack (on the camp). and for 2. ruining the summer tourism season in Lebanon. Guess who used the exact same arguments last summer to criticize Hizballah when Israel decided to ruthlessly bombard lebanon using the pretext of Hizballah seizing two of its soldiers? I’ll give you a hint: It was not Hizballah.

So what is exactly going on there at the moment and who are these fat7 al-islam and who backs them (or used to back them before turning on them)? The truth of the matter is no one really knows, well none of us who are not directly involved in it anyway. However, the infamous (for his scoops and insider stories that usually turn out to be true) and respected reporter Seymour Hersh alleges in a now famous article from last March and in a recent CNN interview that it is the Harriri group, Saudi Arabia, and Washington that have created and funded it before turning on it currently. And when Seymour Hersh writes people listen and usually believe him because he more often than not turns out to be correct. I seriously recommend reading the article linked to above, as it is quite revealing, particularly when one considers it was written two months ago.

What is beyond doubt is that both Syria (and by extension Hizballah) and the Harriri crew have financially backed and armed extremist sunni groups in Palestinian camps all over Lebanon. There are widespread allegations that Syria and Hizballah are behind certain groups in some camps (my own reliable Palestinian sources). There are also widespread allegations that the Harriri crew have also backed, financed and armed other militant groups in Palestinian camps such as 3usbat al Ansar (for one source on this, see Angry Arab). What is beyond doubt is that these groups have nothing to do with the Palestinian cause (being situated in the north of Lebanon and hundreds of kilometers away from the border is not exactly conducive to launching attacks on Israel, particularly when you consider that they don’t have any planes or helicopters and they only number 200). What is also beyond doubt is that these groups are absolutely hated by residents of the camps (if you ever get the chance ask any of the residents), and that they have nothing to do with them but have been forced upon them. You only have to look at the dead of fat7 al-islam to realize this. None of the dead are Palestinians, but they come from diverse countries such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan (the military commander is actually Lebanese (Source: Angry Arab)).

Now the internal politics of Lebanon are none of my business, and of course I have no right lecturing Lebanese on their own country which they know better than anyone else. But when it comes to helpless Palestinian refugees who are densely packed in a run down camp and are being made scapegoats for the ills of the country and are indiscriminately bombed, with several mosques, hospitals, houses, and market places being destroyed (source: Angry Arab), then it is our duty to stand up and condemn this. We are all supposed to give support and solidarity to the Palestinians, not bomb them, just like we all gave support and solidarity to Lebanon when Israel bombarded it. Writing a post about this is the least one can do. I urge you to do the same.

Also on the regional level, the latest news from Iraq is that Khalil Al-Zahawi, arguably the most respected and most talented calligraphist of modern times, has been killed. Ù‹Welcome to the new, modern Iraq-American style. The citadel of Arab democracy and a beacon of light and hope for all the region. Welcome to a country where hundreds of professors and academics have been killed, where thousands of doctors have been maimed or fled the country, where the historic Al-Mutannabi street, long reverred as the heart of Arab intellectual, literary and artistic activity has been bombed to smithereens. Welcome to the modern Iraq, traditionally reputed as having one of the best health, educational, and academic systems in the Arab world, and long renknowned as having the highest readership and best schools of music in the Arab world (with such greats as Naseer Shamma hailing from there), where now even its museums and archaelogical sites, a symbol a country’s civilization and heritage, have been looted and reduced to rubble. Welcome to the new Iraq, long regarded as a model of Shia-Sunni harmony in the region, where it was normal for people across the Sunni-Shi3i divide to intermarry (and I have many friends who are children of those marriages), where now having a certain name gets you shot on the street with no questions asked. Welcome to the new Iraq, long held as a symbol of female empowerment in the region, where now you can get raped and shot for not wearing a daffa. Welcome to the new iraq, where armed gangs (with American and British troops at the top of this list) supported and financed by regional and international superpowers run amok in a country sent back to the middle ages and on the verge of being divided up into small, sectarian pieces.

Where now are all those bloggers, journalists, academics and individuals, particularly the Arab ones, who supported and cheered on the invasion under the pretext of liberating and bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq? Where are all those who despicably believed and propagated all the American grandiose lies about turning iraq into a model for the region? I hope you one day get to answer and pay for all the falsities and extravagant claims you helped to propagate. You are complicit in this despicable situation. Why have you suddenly hushed down on the subject when four or three years ago you were eagerly churning out post after post and article after article about how great the American invasion will be for us? You are despicable. The least you can do is come out and admit your mistakes and apologize to your readers and the rest of us for the hell you have gleefully cheered on.

Shame, Shame on you.

Today’s music choice is the awesome hip-hop song with in-your-face lyrics “The Poverty of Philosophy” by Immortal Technique. (Warning: the song contains some explicit language.)

Immortal Technique – The Poverty of Philosophy

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