Friday, September 01, 2006

From the Lebanese Scene to the Iraqi Scene

The following is an op-ed that appeared in the Jordanian Al-Rai newspaper last Friday, by columnist Khalid Mahadin and which serves as a classic example of Arab state-controlled media reinforcing and catering to the self-delusion of the Arab masses. Al-Rai newspaper is partially owned by the government. It is published by the Jordanian Press Foundation, but it often strays far from the official stand of the Jordanian government as this op-ed demonstrates.

Read for yourself [my translation and emphasis].

From the Lebanese Scene to the Iraqi Scene

Khalid Mahadin

As much satisfaction and relief that one can feel over the present and the future of Lebanon, by following how the Lebanese were able to abort yet another chapter of conspiracy against their national unity, as a principal goal of the Zionist aggression, one also wishes that such unity and concern would lead the way in brotherly Iraq in its quest to liberate that nation from occupiers and to expel the invaders who continue to wreak havoc, murder and destruction.

In the face of the Zionist enemy, the Sunnis and Shia of Lebanon stood together, under the banner of national affiliation, in the trenches of confrontation and resistance. They were able to withstand thirty-three days in the face of the Zionist war machine and the American war arsenal – wide open to supply this machine with all the necessary needs of murder and destruction. And when [U.N.] Resolution 1701 came out to save the Zionist entity from further fragmentation and political, military and psychological collapse, the Lebanese people – Sunni and Shia – had started a large-scale operation to rebuild what the bombing and the aggression had destroyed. The world stood in awe to witness the experience of a people that did not waste a minute in waiting for the reconstruction, whether in Beirut or in any Lebanese town or village targeted by the planned destruction from the enemy’s land, aerial and naval weaponry. We followed the continuous meetings between Sunni and Shia leaders and their joint participation in touring the scenes of aggression, and in speaking in one language, stressing that a strike on their national unity is not as easy as the Zionist enemy and its allies wagered.

This Lebanese scene prompts us to ask: Why does it not create an incentive for the brothers in Iraq to stand in one trench, on one frontline in the face of the American and British occupation of their country? For it is this unity, which the occupation works to undermine, that is needed by Iraqis to put an end to the brutal infighting that is reaping lives, robbing tranquility and sowing hatred more than ever.

Any gamble on sectarianism in Iraq winning its war against the common enemy of all Iraqis is what has caused the daily tragedies perpetrated by the enemies of Iraq’s Arab and Islamic identity. It has made it more difficult to count the many parties scheming against the unity of Iraq, as a country and a people. Some of these parties are from the inside and some the extension of foreign powers and some are under the sponsorship of the occupation. All so that Iraq does not catch its breath and enter the confrontation against this occupation to drive it out and liberate the nation from its crimes and consequences.

The Iraqi scene, when compared to the Lebanese scene, is distressing. And if all the interests of the Lebanese people have been confirmed and consolidated by the unity of the Lebanese, Sunni and Shia, Muslims and Christians, the scene is the exact opposite in the wounded Iraq. Unless Iraqis realise that Islam is one and that the multiplicity of sects and ethnicities is a source of strength, not of weakness and division, the Iraqi scene will remain prey to sectarian and ethnic hatred, prolonging the occupation and offering it all the reasons to remain, to destroy Iraq and isolate it from its ummah and plunder its wealth, as a fierce enemy of all its sects and ethnicities and its ambitions and aspirations to return to its ummah, and to achieve for it a victory against its enemies in the size of the Lebanese victory or greater.

The writer insistently depicts a sense of national unity and consensus in Lebanon among the different political groups and factions in regard to the last war that is really hard to discern on the ground, whether from the statements of Lebanese officials or from the reactions of the Lebanese press (which enjoys a long history of being far more free and liberal than the press in most Arab countries) or even from Lebanese citizens. The writer chooses instead to parrot Nasrallah by declaring grand victories for Lebanon and the ‘ummah’ against its enemies (namely the ‘Zionist entity’ and the US, as its backer.)

Note that the columnist is careful not to overstep his boundaries by decrying the stand of certain Arab governments that chose to remain neutral during the conflict (Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to name a few), or by mentioning Syria or Iran. Instead, he shifts the view to Iraq - a subject that the Jordanian population feels strongly about - and laments the fact that the Iraqis are now at each other’s throats, instead of uniting under the Islamic banner (or the pan-Arab – the writer seems to have a difficulty deciding which) and turning their attention to the ‘common enemy’.

It is amusing to note that Al-Rai boasted last year that it was planning to start a 'reform' section in their newspaper to "achieve a clarity of vision against the various forms of extremism and bigotry and takfir, and to raise the flag of enlightenment in the Arab world, allowing reason to be the judge and reference.., and to make moderation the prevailing feature in thought, politics and society."

The Arab media is in such a sad state these days.