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Dotted Thoughts on Al-Azhar

Bringing down Al-Azhar should come as top priority for our national security strategists. Al-Azhar not only epitomizes the Asiatic and fatalistic religious norms which are hampering the imagination and freedom of our masses, it is also actively involved in generating anti-modernity forces in the region. As of the seventies of the past decade, Wahhabis have assumed the role of being the torch-bearers of the medieval revival. The prestige and influence of Al-Azhar among Muslims could have very well countered that. Yet, if anything, the Islamic thought taught in Al-Azhar shares the tenets of Wahhabi Islam. With a seemingly moderate veneer it has Islamized the bulk of the middle class which should have been the enlightened locomotive of the Arab world.

Paradoxically enough, Al-Azhar despite of being the leading global Sunni Muslim Institution, it has always exhibited a tacit and at times even overt admiration for the clerical Shiite theocratic   rulers of Iran. As it happens, Al-Azhar clerics aspire for assuming an executive role in Egypt when the time is ripe.

Nonetheless, it remains a fact that Al-Azhar produced exceptional reformers like Mohamed Abdou, and Al-Bakoury (who was about to issue a fatwa rendering wine halal for Muslims). Those reformers had the support of the westernized Egyptian royal family in case of Abdou, and the modernist Gamal Abdul Nasser in case of Bakoury. Alas, the consistent economic and social failures in the Arab world crowded over reformists and brought conservatives to the fore.

President Sadat in the second half of the seventies came up with his revolutionary political philosophy of “listening to the village elders” ushering the reversal of the quasi-Maoist policies of Nasser, and was at loggerheads  with  Egyptian former royal family’s fixation on  emulating the west, not  the sclerotic  village elders.

The utterly incompetent, parochial and corrupt Mubarak lacked resolution, courage and imagination to go at Egypt’s complex problems head on. Rather, he founded his rule on a Freezing-the-Status-Quo policy. He peddled to the Middle-Class moderate Islamic credentials through his alliance with Al-Azhar, whereas for Egypt’s rural millions he was the village elder. He thus rendered legitimacy a derivative of Islam and its patron, Al-Azhar.

No wonders then that the more independent ones of Al-Azhar students criticized Mubarak by questioning his Islamic credentials and thereby turned to jihadist theoreticians in the eighties. They characterized Al-Azhar veneer of moderation as hypocritical- sadly enough, they were right.

Meanwhile the Muslim Brotherhood, whose thought is Identical to the Al-Azhar but differ on their rigorous esoteric organization and political action, hijacked the Middle-classes’ dissatisfaction with Mubarak’s social and economic failures. That explains the ascent of the Muslim brotherhood in the aftermath of the Arab spring.

The Egyptian security apparatus effectively undermined their discourse among the Careen and Alexandrian Middle-Classes, by brilliantly relaying to them the message that the MBs are not Islamic enough, thus replicating the disastrous approach of Mubarak which lead to his downfall. However, the Islamist (MBs) thought is rooted in Egypt through Al-Azhar. And the support base of MBs is strong among the provincial Middle classes as well as some of the landed clans and families in the Delta region; those families side with either the Mubarak regime or the MBs depending on the willingness and ability to deliver favours. Egypt’s millions of Fakirs, on the other hand, drift towards the more dangerous Salafi brand of Islam.

Bringing about radical social and economic reforms is the only way out of the current mess that poses an existentialist threat to Egypt which might, in the mid-term future, face the destiny of Syria.  The starting point is declawing Al-Azhar.

I still haven’t figured out Marshal Sissi, but I sincerely hope that he is conscious of the roots of Egypt’s intractable difficulties.Azhar

The Syrian Conundrum and Assads

Syria harbored the oldest urbanized communities known in history and Syrians for thousands of years have been sophisticated cosmopolitan traders. Even during the dark ages of the Ottoman empire-  which  sealed off the Middle-East and stripped its historical advantage of being  an intermediary between the orient and Europe-  Levantines maintained some limited access to the flourishing western civilization through Christian missionaries. Against such a backdrop one finds it very difficult to come to grips with tragic situation of Syria at present where the country is rent by a brutal civil war with no looming prospects for an end to the bloodbaths.

This gloomy image comes in a stark contrast with the secular one of Syria in the fifties where Sunnis,  Syriainics (Christians) and Alawites ( Isolated Mountainous community  with a syncretic belief  encompassing Islamic, Zoroastrian, Buddhist  and ancient Semitic elements) shared   a unified identity in an open and secular society  that cherished multiplicity, one   that was keen on catching up.

Syria back then championed Arab nationalism which glued the multiple components of Syrian society together.  This movement first arose among Syrian Christians to counter the Islamic character of the Ottoman Empire then it was upheld by Syrian Sunnis in retaliation to the growing Turkification of the empire towards the end of the 19th century. After the end of World War 1 and the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, Syria fell under French rule. In French-ruled Syria the majority of Alawites- concentrated in the western coastal region- had a rooted sense of Syrian identity despite   a general distrust of the Sunni majority exacerbated by the social differences between the mountainous illiterate Alawites and the mild, relatively sophisticated urban Sunnis. The Alawites had a disproportionate representation in the French- administered army. Syria got its independence in 1946.

The prominent political forces back then were the Arab national Baath party on the one side- popular among urban Sunnis due to its secular character and promotion of individual liberties- and the Muslim Brotherhood which had its support base among conservative Sunnis and the rural hinterland population on the other side.  The Alawites joined the Baathists in droves.

Power fell in the hands of competing factions of young officers engaged in launching coups against each other – though the Sunni- Alawite distinction was of no significance back then. The Arab nationalist fervor took a dangerous twist in the fifties as it turned into a chauvinistic trend with a rather neurotic rejection of the west- paradoxically enough,  Arab rulers were promoting societal and social liberties though never political ones- and a crazed fetishized intent on the annihilation of Israel.  The seeds of a pluralistic modern society ripe in the fifties   gradually gave way to the brutal rule of a primitive military junta. The officers brought Syria back to square zero plunging it into its previous state of isolation under Ottoman rule.  It is worth mentioning that China and some other developing countries underwent iron curtain experiences in order to bring about radical societal transformations; the main difference however is the meritocratic and impartial nature of Chinese institutions and despite of the one party system, a variety of opinions were allowed within the ruling party- notwithstanding the frequent bloody purges. Syria on the other hand was run like a neighborhood lorded by mafia clans going to ceaseless turf wars. The disastrous failure of the union between Egypt and Syria bore out that state of affairs

The tinkering, incompetence, jingoism and nepotism that characterized the Syrian Baathist rule lead to the humiliating Arab defeat in 1967. Ironically enough, the Syrian minister of defense during the 1967 war, Hafez Assad, became the de facto ruler of Syria. This power- crazed, unscrupulous iron man had the brutality of Stalin and the   the shrewdness of the Machiavellian prince.  He cautiously but steadily started pushing Alawites to top positions in army and state, along with Sunni cronies all while masquerading as a Pan-Arab visionary and freedom fighter against Zionism . Syria’s eventual defeat in the war launched by Egypt and Syria against Israel in 1973 made it very much clear to Assad that his reign would soon be seriously challenged. This is because the legitimacy of the entire military junta was founded on their promise to bring progress and modernity to Syria, something which can never be achieved unless Israel is wiped off the map. It is of course counter-intuitive to put an entire country in limbo rendering its future contingent on an unwinnable battle against a nuclearly armed Israel.  A partial explanation of the Syrian defeat, which  serves to shed considerable light on the nature of this horrendous regime, is found in Russian accounts. The Russians  were baffled by Syrian commanders consistent failure  to heed tactical and strategic advice of Russian military experts. Definitely that would have jarred with  the Syrian criteria of appointing commanders. The Syrians always spurned Russian advice on the pretext of having come up with their own pure ARAB ways of doing  warfare!

But with the deftness and cunning of a Mafia boss, Assad was quick and decisive; he purged the Syrian army of Sunni officers in 1974, put Alawites on top of all critical agencies and empowered an Alawite business elite. His sectarian policies sowed what is happening in Syria now.  He turned Syria into a country of a master Alawite caste presiding over an isolated Sunni majority.

Syria lost another war to Israel in 1982. A conservative Sunni rebellion, lead by the Muslim Brotherhood, ensued but it was bloodily crushed by Assad killing thousands of civilians in the process. It was henceforth all clear to Syrians and Assad that the regime had no legitimacy. Assad was defeated by Israel and Syria lagged behind backward and poor. Sunnis as well as some Alawites and Christians were discontent about how things turned out in Syria. Assad, on the other hand, peddled to minorities in Syria that his regime was the only safeguard against the religious fascism of the Muslim Brotherhood.  He brought the Alawite sect to the conviction that the survival of his regime is an existentialistic necessity for them.

In 2000 Assad died and was the succeeded by his Son Bashar. The revolutionary freedom fighter turned Syria into a private inherited isle. Assad junior followed in the footsteps of the Fascist regime of Egypt’s Mubarak and started a gradual process of opening Syria up to investment and trade. Alas, Mr. Assad’s policies were not the kind that would foster innovation and competitiveness and bring about technological modernization. Rather, he created a new class of nouveau-Riche rent seekers with wealth made out of a superficial flirtation with free market policies that only served a tiny consumerist class.

Following a few years of cautious optimism about Bashar’s open door policies, Syrians realized that the reforms were essentially cosmetic.  In the last years of the previous decade draughts hit the Sunni hinterland due to the disastrous agricultural policies of Assad. Mr. Hafez Assad felt like boasting of Syria’s self-sufficiency in wheat production and accordingly depleted Syria’s underground water resources. The environmental catastrophe fueled the smoldering resentment of the Conservative rural Sunni population against Alawite rule. The ground was thus paved for the spread of disruptive Muslim Brotherhood networks in the Syrian Hinterland.

The situation in Syria flared up after the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. Middle class Syrians including Alawites and Christians took to the streets demanding change. The protests were intense in the hinterland urban centers. The regime retaliated with disproportionate lethal force which in turn stripped the façade of legitimacy which it had hitherto managed to sustain. Assad deliberately tinged the uprising with sectarian features. There were numerous reports about rumors spreading in Sunni villages about an imminent Alawite attack; the rumors went the other way round as well.

This mainly civilian uprising cannot provide an explanation for the myriad of well-trained and armed feuding guerillas that have been sprouting up throughout Syria. The Muslim brotherhood rural networks spawned fighting factions which attracted some defecting Sunni soldiers. Nonetheless, those fighters are not seasoned nor do they possess any combat experience of any significance, albeit they comprise the bulk of the insurgency.

The significant weight of fighting against Assad is carried by the gratuitously bloody and horrendous Jihadists and Al-Qaida-like groups of Jabhit Al-Nusra and the heinous ISIS.  The file and rank of those groups are manned by people from Arab tribes:  Bedouin in the North and mostly sedentary Arab tribes in the south and west of Damascus. Those tribes, spread in the deserts of Syria, Iraq and Jordan, are, generally speaking, pragmatic and they tend to mind their own business. They seldom revolt but when they do they invoke the puritanical warlike spirit of the Jihadist Islam; after all, it was this desert culture that spawned the birth of Islam in the first place. Hafez Assad and Saddam Hussein understood their psychology and granted them some level of autonomy while turning a blind eye to their illicit activities of smuggling and looting in return for subservience to the authority of the state. Assad humiliated those tribes during the first months of the uprising and refused to free the slew of young tribal men who joined their urban counterparts in the uprising. This provocation fell heavily on people for whom vendetta is an essential part of their existence.

In the North however the dynamic is different. At the height of the U.S war in Iraq Assad provided logistical support to Sunni Arab insurgents in Iraq- later to become ISIS- and allowed them to use Syrian desert territories as a refuge and aggregation base for the various Iraqi insurgent groups. That proved to be a fatal mistake on Assad’s part since they allowed the Iraqi insurgents to network with Syrians. It is also possible that they had managed at the same time to establish communication channels with Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Assad with a demoralized army in return tended to augment the sectarian feature of the conflict with the Iranian intervention as Iran brought in its proxy Shite fundamentalist group of Hezbollah to the fray along with Iraqi Shiite fundamentalist militias. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Turkey are supporting the Sunni Jihadists with arms, medication and communications, both officially and through independent civil society actors.

The Syrian uprising of the youth calling for democracy and freedom has been hijacked by lunatic   hardline fundamentalists from the Sunni and Shiite camps.  The urban Sunni Middle-class population, along with Christians are torn between their contempt for the mobster, Assad, and their prescient fears about looming darker ages at the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jihadists. This explains why Sunnis are split down the middle  on Assad.

The war is likely to continue to be dragged out with neither side approaching a decisive end. The international community and the free world must live up to its moral and humanitarian duty to end the calamity of Syria and salvage its despondent people. Only a united stand on part of the free world can enforce a defeat of the fundamentalists and the hideous Assad.bashar-instagram-beach-550x550 (1)

and the free world must live up to its moral and humanitarian duty to end the calamity of Syria and salvage its despondent people. Only a united stand on part of the free world can enforce a defeat of the fundamentalists and the hideous Assad.

Values and the Egyptian dilemma

“In Egypt, for example, researchers showed a decade ago that by transferring a single gene from barley to wheat, plants are able to tolerate reduced watering longer. This variety requires only one-eighth as much irrigation as conventional wheat and can be cultivated with meager rainfall alone. This is what wheat farmers need”.

(Newyork Times, 2 Feb 2014, P.A 23)

It has come as quite a shock to me to know that there have been successful attempts in Egypt to develop wheat strains that require much less amounts of water. Without going into much detail about issues I’m not trained to handle, It goes without saying that our institutions and political circuits are not wired to be receptive to innovation because of the lack of coordination among them and the absence of integrated state-level policies to tackle our complex problems that pose an existentialist threat to Egypt.

Our bureaucracy and political elites are more of a coalition of profiteers and status seekers striving to sustain the horrible status-quo and preserve their petty stakes in the rot with no shared understanding of how to sort out the huge challenges facing our country.

The root cause , in my opinion, is cultural, since our version of Islam doesn’t link status to quality and achievement. Rather, success is a function of pretentious piety and the capacity to control and amass networks of clients along pre-modern and largely agrarian lines and hence any disruption of our systems is sternly resisted and perceived as a breach of our “familial” valueswhich are based on real and metaphorical lineages.

Big brothers, Condoleezza Rice and the angels of mercy!

It   amazes me how commonplace it has become in Egypt to rant about the American plot to destabilize Egypt by handing it over on a silver platter to Sunni Islamists so as to   plunge the region into an artificial sunni-shiite-Christian conflict which in turn would facilitate smoother control of the Middle East and warrants the security of Israel.

Is there really such a plot? To think that such a plot exists clearly betrays an underlying simple bipolar view of the world where Arabs are holy virtuous people manipulated by the   powerful villains. Second, it is based on an implicit assumption that decision making in the United States is a linear process, where a single authoritarian figure utters judgments in the name of the father; do I detect some projections here?  Finally   let’s hypothetically acknowledge the existence of this demonic plot, and then think what we are doing about it. What I see is something akin to a child whining for being grounded by the elders. Isn’t that what these apologetic complaints about the unjust world are tantamount to?

Now let’s put this plot to a reality test. It is a fact that the human political and cultural world is much more complex than the images run by the aforementioned simplistic view. That world is made up of global actors with economic and security interests that partly stem from the way their different cultures view themselves and others. It is not strange then    the United States, a mighty military and industrial power, has strategic interests in the region. The first goal of this strategy is securing the flow of oil from a region that has almost half of the world oil reserves. This entails the prevention of the rise an anti-western hostile power, one that controls these reserves and tampers with the industrial prosperity of the USA.  The geographic location of the Middle East and its proximity to Europe and vital trade routes makes this goal all the more important.

Second we get to the state of Israel. The western culture has strong affinity with the state of Israel since the Old Testament sentiments of the Israelites were the founding seed of America.  Further, the search for the Promised Land by the heroic Israelites is one of the foundations of western mobility and its Judeo-Christian subconscious.  Consequently guaranteeing the security of the state of Israel is the second tenet of this strategy.

In Arab modernization projects we have always revealed a total disregard for the rules of the game and prevailing power relations because we think in a cartoonlike way of world comprised of good guys and evil ones. Think of Nasser’s rhetoric about the destruction of Israel and scraping western interests. The childish behavior peaked in 9/11 when a group of Islamist fanatics committed a horrendous crime by attacking heartland America mass killing thousands which was a terrible shock to the entire security of the western world.  This terrorist act was not a crazy attack by some deranged people, from an out of the way niche, with a deluded vision of the world, but rather it exposed an under-the-surface anti modernity and anti-western fervor in the Middle-East. An undercurrent of satisfaction could be detected throughout the Middle-East- sometimes overt support for the terrorist act was expressed. Even Well-off and westernized upper middle class Egyptians expressed sympathy for retaliating with power, for the first time, against the American hegemony and its support of the colonial state of Israel.

This childish attitude, based on a simplistic vision of the world, exposed that we are a traumatized people just like a child who went through a traumatic experience  and then suddenly  when they are a  grown-up they are exposed to an incident that lays bare the  origins of the traumatic experience.  The trauma stems from    long centuries of being the losers  and from contributions to humanity that had stopped in the 13th century. All these factors had shaken to the core the sense of security that had been the hallmark of the Muslim world.

Think of how the course of history would have changed had we focused since the 60s on industrializing our countries, combating poverty and ignorance and opening up to the world as partners of the entire international community. In other words, what would have happened if we were more self-critical and faced our reality with courage and determination to improve our conditions while bargaining rationally with the other actors in the world to ensure that mutually beneficial compromises are reached.  Alas, we focused instead on burying our trauma, rather than facing it. We have remained stuck in our childish world governed by our traumatic experience. There is no better place for us but the imaginary paradise of a prosperous and pious Arab-Islamic society of the medievals.

The first anchoring assumption of the satanic plot is thus undermined by the realities of the world. Let’s move on to the next assumption that is the way the USA drafts its foreign policy. America is basically a coalition of interest groups representing different business segments, farm blocs, religious interests and industrial tycoons. These groups share common values of economic liberty, minimized state intervention in markets and superiority of the American morals of loyalty, honesty and integrity .The different interest groups  continuously realign themselves  to the left and right (within the specific American spectrum) and gain access to decision making according to their relative power in a certain period. The foreign policy is shaped by political affiliations- whether hawkish interventionists or pacifist liberals- of the elements in power in a specific point of time. Affiliations of the groups in power are regulated by the institutional culture of the relevant American government organizations (CIA, state department, etc,) Input from  think tanks informs decision making  in the power corridors while voices from the concerned interest groups( big oil, military- industrial complex,  affected business segments) are accounted for.  We could see how the American tactics serving their Middle East strategy has always shifted from confrontation with Nasser to the containment then destruction of Sadam, to the support of militarized Islam in the 70s and 80s to combat the leftist encroachment on American oil interests in the region.

A seemingly perpetual alliance with the conservative Islamic regime of Saudi Arabia has been an enduring tactic since the 40s.

The ascent of a clutch of intellectually- driven, dogmatic politicians and intellectuals, called the neo-conservatives, to power in America coincided with the 9/11 attacks. The main tenet of the neo-conservative policy was regenerating American morals, in the face of what they perceive as an increasingly decadent society, by erecting an external enemy.  The iconic foreign policy figure of this group was Condoleezza Rice!

9/11, however, was a game changer, meaning that it cannot be reduced to just an opportunity for the neo-conservatives to enact their vision. The entire western security theory had been challenged and the Middle Eastern traumas were obviously on its way to boil over into a galvanization of the entire region in anti-western hostilities. That meant that a strategic shift in the American strategy for the Middle-east had become inevitable. The obvious goal is sorting out the Islamic threat. The neo- conservatives’ tactic was shock and awe; a swift blowing attack on the male figures of the muslims- Iraq and Afghanistan- which would expose the Middle Easterners to their reality. Thereby, the tensions in these societies, hidden by the illusions sustained by these societies to conceal its real traumas, would be exposed.

In Egypt we have a primitive capitalist system (I’m for clean capitalism, so I don’t anyone to say that I’m communist) that have failed to industrialize (modernize) Egypt. It is capitalism organized along despotic and archaic near-eastern agricultural lines, where big brothers (El-Kebeer) control the economy through networks of patronage and spheres of influence protected like women of the household (harem).  The big brother stifles spin-offs and innovation whereas the younger one resists the patronizing big brother by negative work values and internally disbelieving the whole system. The system has generated huge income and education gaps, strict immobile social hierarchies, class antagonisms and widespread negative religiosity, which represents a safeguard against insecurities, contradictions and a diminishing national self-esteem.

In Syria there is an underprivileged rural class of Sunnis ruled by a privileged Alawite minority allied with Christians and Sunni-middle- classers. In Iraq, the Shiites stored a deep resentment for the sunni elite.

Bang, bang! The tactics worked; the Middle East has been destabilized. Egyptian people has been going into dissent since 2004-2005, civil war erupted in Syria and Iraq has been technically divided. The Arab fetishistic rage against Israel has been redirected towards the formation of new identities in the Levant and Iraq along ethnic and sectarian lines.

This is not yet the end of the story, American power leant leftwards with the presidency of the pacifist left-leaning Barack Obama. The new tactic takes for granted that the ripple and dominos effects of neo-conservative tactics are irreversible. The American tactic is now focused on preventing the backfire of these effects and stopping the destabilized region from falling a prey to Jihadist Islam. This is carried out through a tactical alliance with the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt and Syria and the Shiite Islamists in Iraq to ensure free elections in these countries, ones that would give the people a conduit for regime change which would eventually force the people out of the their traumatic state .

The long-term desired effect of a modern secular Islam will only come in the long-term. Meanwhile, expect a protracted period of economic failures, social unrest and political turmoil. I expect that in a 30 year time we will come back to the future and modernity having given our Illusions ample room to play out “democratically”.

Now we have seen that the second assumption of the satanic plot is fallible; there is no fatherly authoritarian single American figure conspiring against the angelic Arabs.

That said, I sincerely hope , for my own parochial interests, that the Egyptian non-Islamist opposition succeeds in toppling the  Brotherhood, though this a far cry from saying that the Islamists in general have no future in the short to mid- term in Egypt.

By the way, what do you think of Condi? Is she a she-demon or an angel of mercy in disguise?

Fears and horizons

I can never get to understand why the Arabs are so hell-bent on cutting each other’s throats just to appease Omar, Ali and Hussein! I really don’t know, but, nonetheless, I think it might be related to some belief that an imagined heavenly paradise existed on earth in the medieval times. Why so? I also don’t know, yet the first thing that comes to my mind is fear to face reality as it is. It might as well help if they learned that that crusades came to an end in the 13th century. This is not saying that there are no historic grievances; bad things happen. Grownups however play the game using rules that are very different from children’s.

The first step in the long weary road back to the future starts off by realizing that Ibn- Taymiyah, and Ghazaly were ordinary mortals who must not be confused with rocket scientists, social reformers and prophets.

The Middle Eastern Christians on their part must find a way to cope with the fact that the Pharoanic, Phoenician and Assyrian civilizations are dead; hence they had better invest their energies in finding new ways for all of us!

Magical tunes: the contemporary silk road!

 

“The near east is a magical spot”, said Miss Condoleezza Rice. Hope I have quoted the lady correctly. I can’t help recalling Miss Rice’s insightful statement whenever I listen to that catchy tune.In a documentary directed towards satisfying the whims of culture nerds I followed the obsession of two travelers with that mysterious Greek folk tune. The travelers put on the gild of Indiana Jones and traced the tune back to Asia until they found their own cup of the Christ; the closure of the exciting search was that the tune originated somewhere in the Turkic Eurasia. Isn’t it just as bizarre that tune was widespread in Egypt during the fifties (remember Bob Azzam)?

Now I think that Condi’s statement should be modified to include the entire Eurasian region (North Africa included) and maybe Greece as well. And by the way, I would spare a dime to the one who could find the missing link between the Iraq war and the Egyptian revolution.

Ramblings on the wine of conquistadores

Is the martyrdom of the conquistador warring for the indigenous sheep really ironic?  Man (or woman) has a soft spot for the Argentinean Chico, Che, getting into hand to hand bloody battles to lead the Cuban and Bolivian folk out of the cage of mental feudalism.  Whereas fellow conquistadores bemoan the hero who had been turned over by ungrateful serfs and a comrade Fidel happy to see the overbearing hero slide into a distant abyss, earthly beings bloat the caesarian liberator for seeking his own laurel wreath on account of their sweat.

It is not the “movies” effect at play here, for the biblical cinema record how Moses had to run in the sizzling Middle Eastern moors to liberate the Hebrew tribe which eventually turned against its saviour hero. This very human and eternally favorable theme per se supports the argument for    altruism being hard wired to our genes, yet for the complex human ( the indigenous in  this context) to be free he has break the idol of the liberator as well.

Hence, it is not ironic as such.

What is Ironic is that the whole liberator conquistadores’ lines have been the Semites main gift to humanity. While for the Athenian democrat, on the other hand, the Greek hero was all common free men. Fortunately, the protestant ethic partly liberated the new world (and parts of the old one as well) from the suffocating Middle Eastern shackles a much as the pristine values of Islam did- for a relatively short period, though (Mohamed was  made up of flesh and blood and was not a martyr)- with the near east. It is even more perplexing that although going far into the east we find a history swarming with conquistadores and good heroes, we scarcely, if ever,  come across a martyred- conquistador cult! Losers in pre- WW2 Japan undertake Hara Kiri, while in china Confucian and later on Maoist orderly harmony clogged the hardware of the martyred-conquistador gene.

I just can’t help driving away those uncalled for reflections whenever unsolicited headlines and news about the Egyptian political scene come over my way.  The Muslim Brotherhood, self-styled conquistadores, are hijacking the glimpse of free will that sparkled in a rare and particular point of time across an entire nation. They are chaining the whole nation in the iron of submission that has plagued the region since the death of the ancient near eastern civilizations. Another band of conquistadores- self-proclaimed revolutionaries, as opposed to true behind- the- scenes conquistadores masquerading as commoners- are whining for their perceived fair share of the spoils. Can the indigenous people become conquistadores on their own? I doubt.

I hope that my Johnny Walker induced ramblings may have been useful to some.

I drink a  toast to a very dear genuine conquistador whom I have misunderstood for so long.

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