November 2010 archive

The Arab Media Response to the Wikileaks

I joked today on Twitter that I believe the world will probably deal with this the same way regular people deal with post-one-night-stand-hook-up awkwardness: Everyone had their fun but seen each other naked and now they just wanna do their walk of shame and pretend it never happened.I have been monitoring media websites the entire day waiting to see how the different arab medias will cover the subject , betting that they will either ignore it completely or focus on what was said in the name of the leaders of the other arab countries instead of their own. It seems that the media honchos decided that they couldn't ignore the news completely, so they went with option #2. Here is the breakdown:

In Egypt I focused on two "independent" media outlets, Masrway and shorouk news . Here is what they said respectively:

Masrawy mainly focused on two aspects: The awkwardness that has befallen the US gulf allies from the leak , and everything that had to do with Iran on them, fromthe US closely inspecting Iranian diplomats who went to Iraq, to the report that Iran used the Red Crescent to send weapons to Hezbollah during the Lebanon war, to how the wikileaks won't affect Iran's diplomatic relations with its neighbours . There was one mention about how Turkey's Erdogan simply hates Israel. No mention of Egypt at all.

Shorouk , on the other hand, went all over the place with their coverage, from focusing on Qhathafi's suspect relationship with his nurse , to Burlesconi's jovial reaction to what was written , and ending it with an article on how Israel sees great benefit in the Iran wikileaks and how Erdogan doesn't believe the website to be credible . No mention of Egypt, plus subtley making it look like it was all an israeli plot. Bravo Shorouk, you get bonus points for a job well done.


As expected, AlJazeera ignored everything said about Qatar, and instead had one article about how the arabs (sans qatar, duhh) have tired to goad the US to attack Iran , and then two articles on how wikileaks embaresses US foriegn policy and whether or not those documents should be published in the first place.

And finally, we have Alarabiya:

Saudi owned AlArabiya went with the weirdest option of them all. They published one article , titled how Saudi and Iran asked the US to be firmer on the US (mentioned in passing in one paragraph) and then went into lengthy detail on how Qatar said they lie to the Iranians who lie back, Israeli diplomacy and the role of Egypt in the 2009 Ghaza War.That is all.

So, in conclusion, the arab media oultlets are sticking to their guns, ignoring or glossing over news that deal with their leaders, and focusing instead of the regional enemies or making the whole thing look like a farce. Given how very few options they actually have (god forbid they actually cover the news accurately), I think they did a very fine Job in reporting on this, without looking the bottom-feeding biased hacks that they are.

God bless you Julian Assenge. We wouldn't be having so much fun if it wasn't for your geeky ass.

The Glorious Wikileaks

Yesterday was bound to be another depressing day in Egyptian History: The election went as I expected, with massive fraud aimed towards an almost total NDP controlled Parliament, clashes, media blackouts and 9 dead, and no one in the international media or the US making a peep about it. The deal was sealed: Obama had sold out democracy promotion in exchange of regional stability, and having Egypt being its silent enforcer in the region against the Iranians. And then Wikileaks happened, and IT WAS GLORIOUS!

Just when the egyptian government thought it was done with the elections headache, Wikileaks comes along and fucks it up the ass. It was beautiful Karma in action. Thanks to Wikileaks I felt like a child who was allowed to listen to grown-up conversations for the first time. And if that wasn’t sweet enough, seeing every foreign policy assessment I have ever made become validated this way? Gratification, defined. For years I have been talking about the Sunni-Israeli alliance, and how the arab world fears Iran ten times more than it ever feared Israel. For years I have been waiting for that moment when the Arab street rhetoric catches up with reality and for the political status quo to get rearranged as it should’ve a long time ago. There is now evidence that Egypt is aiding Israel in isolating Hamas, that Mubarak has nothing but utter hatred for the Muslim Brotherhood and utter distrust towards Qataris and Syrians, that the entirety of the arab gulf region, including Qatar, are weary of Iran’s lies and would love to see Iran gone or disarmed, and that they all would secretly support a strike on Iran from either the US or Israel. The dichotomy between their rhetoric and actions was finally exposed as hypocritical and duplicitous to their people and to the world.

Told you it was Glorious!

Arab governments won’t know how to react now that Wikileaks is exposing their dual positions regarding Iran, Israel & other Arab states. With the released documents Julian Assange has inadvertently caused the world of Arab realpolitik to make a giant leap to the present. Whether or not they will address what’s in the document, or claim that Julian Assenge is some Zionist Spy who aims to create division amongst the arab line, or simply report what’s in the documents about other countries but their own, that still remains to be seen. But whatever they do, the cat is out of the bag, and bloggers and online journalists, activists or wonks will make sure that the info is circulated. And who knows? Maybe they will man up about it and save us all from this infinite loop of middle-east politics bullshit once and for all. Wishful thinking, I know, but it sure beats the current status quo, which is something out of a bad Teen movie: America is the football team quarterback, Arab countries are the catty high school bitches, and Iran is that uppity chick with issues that everyone hates but the quarterback still wants to undress and nail.

Alongside the arab leaders, the one person who got hurt the most by this leak has to be Obama, but not for the obvious reasons of how people will be reluctant to talk to US diplomats confidentially again and all that Jazz. It’s because he lost the one advantage left he had going for him: His Foreign Policy skills. That was the playing field he would’ve loved to play on until the 2012 elections, trying to shape some kind of foreign relations legacy that would prove that he restored America’s standing in the world. Yeah, oops. Sorry. Not gonna happen. If it’s not bad enough that you exposed all of your arab allies as Israel-friendly, your staff actually manages to Insult everyone from Merkel, to Sarkozy, to Burlesconi, all the way to Chavez and Mugabe. The Fall-out will be so immense that it will leave the US more isolated than ever. Obama’s luck has always been quite extraordinary, but I am not sure it can get him out of this one. I almost feel bad for him. I really do.

Not everyone hates the wikileaks though; there are two countries who are bound to enjoy them: Iran and Israel. Israel must be relishing that its public knowledge now that everyone in the region wants Iran dealt and is on their side, and that the Sunni-Israeli alliance is now proven to be both real and inclusive of all the Sunni players in the region. For the Israeli public that may be relieving, but for the Netenyahu Government, it’s empowering. They are no longer the war-mongering dog howling in the wilderness anymore; even their longest feuding enemies agree with them. As for Iran, this only reinforces their rhetoric that everyone conspires against them and that they are isolated due to evil USA and their arab agent-states, and will give their government reasons to solidify their power against those mounting numbers of enemies all around it, both foreign or domestic. And secretly, in their heart of hearts, they must be relishing it: they always wanted to be recognized as a big regional player, and those documents prove without a doubt that they truly are. Sure, they are a hated and reviled regional player, but one nonetheless, and like the sycophants they are, they will take whatever they can get. Whether this makes them want to expediate their nuclear program, or try to reach out to the increasing numbers of enemies all around them, well, that remains to be seen. But if I was an average Iranian citizen, I would be booking my ticket out right about now. A strike is coming, probably sooner than later, and it might be better just to get the fuck out of dodge.

Fun times. Call me when WWIII breaks out. The Popcorn is on me.

Where the Road ends

It was 5 years ago that the proud nation of Egypt was going through its parliamentary elections, the first in forever with any semblance of fairness. We had the opposition mobilized (kinda), the ruling party actually faced a real challenge in the ballot box, and the Muslim Brotherhood was the roaring monster that we all feared and sorta expected them to be. That was 5 years ago. Democracy was on the tip of everybody’s tongue, and the whole world seemed to be invested in making it happen, thanks to the strong resolve of one man in power everyone likened to an idiot Monkey, who- with the help of 300,000 of his own soldiers in a nearby country- put the pressure and fear of God in the hearts of those who ruled us. That man was George W. Bush, and today, I miss him so.

You see, today a different guy is in charge. A man, with a smooth-tongue but very few principles, who changed the name of the game forever. Democracy was no longer the topic of conversation, but rather relegated to that of an after-thought. As strategic objectives go, it was no longer a priority. Stability, real politick, friendships with life-long dictators were the new objectives. The American people wanted it that way, or so it seemed to us, when they voted him into the White House. They just wanted to be liked instead of feared, and they ended up with neither. And they lost whatever respect that people had for them along the way.

But this post isn’t about them. It’s about us. Egyptians, and what the future holds for us.

Today, the people are encouraged to vote, even though they already know who is going to win, which is an amazing achievement since no one actually knows who the fuck the candidates are. You see, we were given all of 3 weeks to have people nominate themselves and run and win. To be fair though, the same thing applied to the NDP’s candidates, who found themselves in the weirdest of all political situations: The ruling party decided to field 2 candidates on the majority of seats, resulting the cartoonish situation where NDP candidates are running against NDP candidates. It’s not that the NDP doesn’t believe in primaries or favors one candidate more than the other. Au contraire, they already know amongst themselves who is going to win. But it helps to give the other guy hope, as he spends millions in below-the-line advertisement and vote buying. It stimulates the economy. It’s how the NDP gives back to the people.

Today, the Muslim Brotherhood will officially be declared politically dead, an announcement long overdue. They won’t win today, and not because of voter fraud or bullying (that’s just, ehh, bells and whistles if you may), but because the people in their districts are sick and tired of them, and have been for a long long time. Their districts are poorly serviced, the people’s requests fall on deaf ears, and the elected MP is more interested into playing opposition with the government over banning Books and censoring immorality on TV than actually the welfare of his people. Not to mention, their mobilization efforts are seriously lacking this year, since they have steadily lost recruitment in college campuses to Islamic charities, who allow islamicaly minded people to actually do development work (make things better for Egypt’s poor under an Islamic banner) without the stigma of belonging to an Islamic political movement that has vague objectives or guidelines, and one that doesn’t allow democratic elections in choosing its own leaders. What made it worse was the MB’s decision to abandon the flat organizational structure that benefitted them for so long (How are you to crush a movement that has no clear leaders?) and went with a Hierarchical organizational structure that is easily collapsible by taking out one floor from the echelon of command. The MB can no longer mobilize the youth effectively, because the youth have abandoned them, and the few who didn’t, well, they don’t exactly have leaders anymore. Disarray defines now what was once the most impressive grass-roots political operation in the country. Khalas. No more.

Now, the questions that some idiots who read this will ask: Well, if the MB’s candidates are so unpopular, why doesn’t the Government just allows for a fair elections where the MB will be humiliated, instead of all the soldiers, the arrests, and the shutdown of independent media outlets? Well, because all of this isn’t about the elections. You might think it is, since you can’t read the signs all around you, and the election date was coming up quick, but you are wrong and naïve. You see, the government has been going through a realignment of its own, and the Good old Boys at the National Security are back in charge, and they are not lazy or reactionary as the State Security apparatus that has been ruling us for the past 15 years. Nah, National Security people are plucked from the military and the intelligence apparatus (State security are chosen as the brightest the police have to offer, which is funny considering that intelligence was never the hallmark of the Egyptian police), and those puppies are into the long game and they want to showcase their power. Here are the new rules:

  1. We are not going back to the pre 2005 days, where no dissent or opposition or independent Media outlets were allowed to exist. No, these things will exist, but they will be better managed from now on. That door won’t be closed, but it won’t be totally open either; just enough to let some light in. The playing field will shrink, and the players will be given just enough freedom to move around in a very small circle, no more, no less. Those who attempt to play outside, will be crushed. End of Story.
  2. The Muslim Brotherhood will not die, but it will be capsized. It will retreat into the trenches, or sewers if you are me, from whence they emerged. The new Islamic movement now is Ansar AlSunnah, salafists who are more concerned with covering up their women than whomever is in power, and who believe that if you want a better leader, you should pray harder, and God will give us one. Praise Allah.
  3. The conversation with DC will be different from now on, thanks to the state of disarray the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is in at the moment. Egypt is now the top Sunni player again in the region, and it has entrenched itself in the playing fields DC cares about the most (Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan and , of course, Ghaza). They were behind Alawi winning the majority of seats in the Iraqi parliament and not a day goes by in the Lebanese circles where someone doesn’t mention the games the Egyptian intelligence are playing there in favor of the Sunnis. Hell, Saad AlHarriri is in Egypt twice a week now.
  4. The opposition will still be allowed to exist and to be an ineffective and inefficient as ever. The government needs them as a tool to showcase its strength, the same way they need the government to crush them so that they can continue soliciting money from whomever they can and issues statements on the net. There will be some approved opposition, like AlWafd party, mianly because they know they have them by the balls. They know their place, those Wafdis, and they will never forget it. The rest soon will.

And that is all.

Have a lovely day, and don’t forget to go to the polls and vote for two people on your ballots. That might invalidate your vote, but at least it won’t allow them to steal it. And in case you are wondering, this is how high the ceiling is now. Get used to it.

PS: You will notice I didn’t mention ElBaradei once in this post. That’s because he is irrelevant. A media invention. Sarah Palin without the organizational effort or the ground support, but with the same goal: Milk this Bitch dry. The more the Media talks about him, the more eligible he is for USAID Democracy funding, whatever is left of that. It would be nice if actually was in Egypt like 10% of the time though, instead of him leading “the change” from a first-class plane seat heading to some European country, where is slated to talk about the change he is symbolizing. Thanks Europe! You guys have always been the smart ones! 😀