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Friday, April 29, 2011

Bashar or Abdullah?

Last updated: April 29, 2011

September 27, 2010

This post was inspired by my exchange with Mathan on FB and it pertains to the debate about what is the best predictor of survivability of a political leader in the Middle East, watch or binoculars, and who is the next Arab leader to be kicked out. Says Martin Kramer, the most senior proponent of the watch school:

A few years ago, I heard an officer in Israeli military intelligence say that there's nothing so comical as the sight of Bashar Asad, ophthalmologist, peering through binoculars at a military exercise. He looks so unmilitary. I didn't know exactly what that meant, but now I do. Just look at this picture, taken on Monday at a Syrian military exercise at an "undisclosed location," and released by the official Syrian press agency.

. . .

But there's something even funnier. Where's his watch? His wrists are bare. Now as anyone knows, you can't last for an hour in any military, even the Syrian, without a watch.

. . .

Compare the Bashar photo to this shot of Jordan's King Abdullah, at a Special Operation Forces Exhibition held in March at a Jordanian airbase. On this basis alone, I'm betting that Abdullah outlasts Bashar.

Read Bashar Watch for the best of comparative analyses of the watch school. Now I would argue that the way a leader in question handles binoculars in general is a much better predictor of his chances for survival. Take for example Israel's defense minister during the war in Lebanon, Amir Peretz.

Here is Amir Peretrz watching military exercises after the war. He got a watch, so Kramer's theory does not apply here, but he got everything else wrong.

Amir Peretz seeing black

According to the reporter, our defense minister looked through the capped binoculars three times nodding in agreement as the new chief of stuff was explaining to him what's in view. After seeing this you are unlikely to be surprised too much by the outcome of that war or Peretz's short lived political career.

Unconvinced by either of the two leading schools on the subject? Then compare these, Peretz vs Bashar. Bashar is still there, but Peretz is already out.

This debate is getting even more fascinating when the fact is considered that when it comes to political leaders of the Arab World, the word outlast often should be taken literally. Bashar Assad knows it better than anybody else since he inherited Syria from his father.

Throughout the first years of the 1980s the Muslim Brotherhood and various other Islamist factions staged hit-and-run and bomb attacks against the government and its officials, including a nearly successful attempt to assassinate president Hafez al-Assad on June 26, 1980, during an official state reception for the president of Mali. When a machine-gun salvo missed him, al-Assad allegedly ran to kick a hand grenade aside, and his bodyguard (who survived and was later promoted to a much higher position) smothered the explosion of another one. Surviving with only light injuries, al-Assad's revenge was swift and merciless: only hours later a large number of imprisoned Islamists (most reports ranged from several hundred to approximately 1000) were murdered put to death in their cells in Tadmor Prison (near Palmyra), by units loyal to the president's brother Rifaat al-Assad.

Source: Wikipedia

April 29, 2011

Et tu, Bashar?

Thanks to Maysaloon for the links from his The Collector's Guide to Fine Arabic Propaganda. A new index is introduced to improve measuring the survivability of Arab leaders - the Arab propaganda index. The first video is a eulogy to the now imprisoned president Mubarak, while the second is dedicated to Gaddafi's son Khamis, though the daddy is never too far away. The videos are self explanatory as long as you remember that Hosni Mubarak was out after the first three weeks of the revolution, while two months since the beginning of the Libyan rebellion the NATO looks hopelessly stuck in Libya with its rebels struggling to advance a meter despite having Western powers as their private air force.

And here comes a propaganda clip Maysaloon picked for the man who Abu Rakun disparagingly refers to as Kitty the Younger. I don't think I need to elaborate on the point I am making here.

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