The Happy Arab News Service

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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Proclaimed un monstruooo muy monstruoso at 6:22 PM


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Libya Slapstick Novel

Lat updated: April 26, 2011

April 17, 2011

Rebels in Benghazi with a huge poster: NO foreign intervention - Libyan People Can Manage It ALONE!

Published: April 17, 2011

On Saturday, the chief of staff of the Free Libya Forces, as the rebels style themselves, General Abdel Fattah Younes, told Al Arabiya television that their fighters were already in Brega and expected to conclude their capture of the city by Sunday.

“We are in a not-too-bad state of preparedness and our army fighters, youths and rebels are now doing a good job — and in the morning there will be good news,” Al Arabiya quoted General Younes as saying about Brega on Saturday.

. . .

. . .

Good news on Sunday

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. . .

“Where are the NATO forces?” asked Absalam Hamid, who identified himself as a rebel captain. “We don’t know why they didn’t bomb them.” Strong winds and a sandstorm lowered visibility Sunday and may have made it difficult for air support to engage targets, although Captain Hamid said NATO planes had not been active the day before either, when government forces began advancing.

He turned around his pickup truck, which like many had a mounted heavy machine gun on the back, and headed toward Benghazi, followed by a dozen other vehicles. Some had rocket pods from helicopter gunships and jet fighters mounted on the rear of their pickup beds; others sported long rocket tubes, but no rockets to use in them.

“Where is America, where is France, we need Sarkozy,” one of the men shouted. “We have no army.”

Source: The New York Times

Abu Rakun told me that if I drop my Libyan links somewhere, by this act alone I would make an excellent novel. Indeed, it's since years that I did not laugh so much. Given that Facebook is not a good method for storing links, the comments section of this post is going to become the repository of my Libyan links. You are advised to check it from time to time. You are very likely to enjoy it.

Libya Slapstick Novel

April 26, 2011

US drones enter the fray in Libya

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States launched its first Predator drone strike in Libya on Saturday, the Defense Department said in a statement.

It did not provide details on the target of the strike, saying only that it occurred in the early afternoon local time in Libya.

Source: Reuters

US drones in action: No one gives you power because all of it is yours


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Proclaimed un monstruooo muy monstruoso at 4:35 PM


Monday, April 11, 2011

Maikel Nabil was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for criticizing the military

April 11, 2011

Maikel Nabil was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for criticizing the military.

Egypt Sentences Blogger to 3 Years

Published: April 11, 2011

Mr. Ramadan said that a military tribunal had sentenced Mr. Nabil to serve his term in Tora Prison here. His lawyers and his family were barred from communicating with him after the sentencing.

Source: NYTimes

Here is his support group on FB: Free Maikel Nabil Sanad. Please support!

February 10, 2011

Faysal from the Thinking Lebanese on Bloomberg

The Thinking Lebanese blog was removed and they probably don't need it now anyway given that they switched to "blogging" on Bloomberg. However, the Silent is running another blog here and Faysal occasionally drops comments there too. So if you are missing the Thinking Lebanese blog, which in my view was the best Lebanese blog at the time, some bits of it are still live and kicking on the Silent's new page.

This revolution will be televised!

Sandmonkey tell his story on CNN

Sandmonkey talks to MSNBC

February 9, 2011

The Story of 2 Days I spent at the Egyptian Intelligence

Maikel Nabil asked us to share his story

February 3, 2011

Sandmonkey has been arrested and his blog closed

His last entry, via Lisa Goldman: Egypt, right now

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Proclaimed un monstruooo muy monstruoso at 6:24 PM