Why Arab Leaders are Stubbornly Embedded to Their Thrones?

Nizar Awad

Juha in the Arab folk tales is a thirteenth century witty trickster whose comical jousts with political authorities and subversive humor are legendary. The story of Juha’s nail in particular is very fitting in describing the Arab rulers’ obstinate clinging to power through sheer cruelty and shrewd trickery as in the case of the epitome of trickery and deceitfulness of the mercurial and soon to be ousted Muammar Abu Minyar al-Ghaddafi. Juha as far as I and most Arabs remember from story books, folk tales and bed time stories told to us by our portents, was a shabbily dressed and funny looking fellow probably resembling in dress but not in appearance, his counterpart al-Ghaddafi. Contrary to Ghaddafi, however Juha was said to have stuck to his name and even appreciated it unlike Ghaddafi who took to himself as many names and titles as the colorful and outlandish customs that he wears even on his state visits and embarrass the hell out of us in the process. Along with Ghaddafi the illustrious figure head was known as the colonel, the leader of the revolutions, the philosopher, the wise man of Africa and the world, the international ruler, the theorist, the novelist, the poet, the only eagle, meaning among Arab leaders, the inventor (he claimed to have designed a jet-car that was destined to be manufactured by an Italian car manufacturer), the prophet of the desert and not to blow his cover and uncover his and his family’s vast oil wealth he decreed that he and his family are to be designated poor and be counted among the Libyan poorest lining up to receive financial aid. In contrast to Juha’s nail Ghaddafi’s aids carry around pegs so that they can pitch his tent wherever he goes as an obvious gesture of staking his claim at least to the patch of land where his massive tent is hoisted. On one occasion and on national TV mind you he unabashedly claimed that he once was so broke that he borrowed money from a member of the Libyan Revolutionary Council named Abd al-Salam Jallud so that he can buy a sheep which would be sacrificed on the day of the Muslim Eid known as Eid al-Kabiir. And you thought that the time of Juha’s farfetched stories and legendry tricks belong to the past and could no longer be resurrected.
In this anecdote Juha who actually stars in many of his tales tells us that having been decided to sell his house he drove a nail into one of the walls and then sold the house to an unsuspected buyer. However before leaving the property he sheepishly requested that the new owner allows him to drop by once in a while to visit his nail to which the unsuspecting man agreed. To the new owner’s surprise Juha wasted no time to stop by for a visit in the same day and every day afterwards. Juha kept dropping by during breakfast, lunch and dinner times to check on his nail and partake in the man’s meals. Whenever the weather turned bad the now visibly upset owner would find Juha setting under his nail presumably to insure the safety of his nail but obviously to avoid the harsh weather elements outside. Even at night Juha would always be caught fast asleep under his beloved nail. After putting up with Juha’s antics for a while the man became so distraught that he in a fit of anger gathered his belonging and sped out of the house without even asking for his money back. Here I would like to emphasize that Juha despite his trickery and treachery was and continues to be an endearing and beloved figure among Arabs old and young, and the fact that I am employing his anecdote to illustrate my point regarding Arab leaders’ usurpation and sinister manipulation of power and authority should not reflect negatively on Juha’s popular legacy.
As soon as such Arab leaders including the colonel/philosopher/ inventor...etc Ghaddafi come to power whether through hereditary monarchies and republics, military copes, palace copes or overthrowing each other such as in the case of the Omani Sultan Qabus bin Sa’id who overthrew his own father Sa’id bin Timur they immediately embark on a phase known in the dictionary of authoritarianism as “entrenchment” even if that requires the use of glue so no one could yank them off their thrones for the remainder of their lives. Following entrenchment Arab leaders would then embark on a process called weaving their legacies which are no more than skeletal insignificant truths incased in layers and layers of lies. Let me ask you this could any rational being believe they these leaders actually earned all those medals covering their chests when they appear before cheering crowds or engage in ceremonial inspections of their troops?. Anyhow during their decades of absolute and dictatorial rules they also expect us to be eternally grateful to them for their leadership and gracing us with their appearances spit & span in public or national TV. To add insult to injury the majority of them are constant embarrassment to their people at home and abroad. While some clown around like idiots even during Arab Summits, others not only behave but also dress like clowns including Muammar al-Ghaddafi who has been making himself and by extension his oppressed people the laughing stock worldwide.
Among Arab leaders who have been yanked from their thrones or would soon be facing similar fates, Muammar al-Ghaddafi is the most abominable with his people and humanity as a whole and has been in power the longest “41 years to be exact”. Can you imagine a leader who instructs his son Saif al-Islam or sword of Islam (now we know why he chose this particular name for his son) to tell the Libyan people “point blank” that they either cease their protests and demands for democracy and freedom or face total annihilation. Could there be any comparison with this atrocity of a man except with Genghis Khan, Hulagu, Hitler and Stalin. This ruthless dictator who calls his cope that toppled the constitutional monarchy of King Idris al-Sanusi in 1969, a revolution is by all accounts a trickster of the worst kind. This roguish figure that stole power and with it the security, happiness and dignity of the Libyan people under the cover of darkness, appropriated tenets, principles and ideals of democracy to create a nightmarish regime that sat on the chest of the Libyans for forty one years. He replaced the constitution of the monarchy with the so-called green book supposedly implying the color of Islam but instead it was in reality a blue print for turning the whole country into a plantation for him and his family thereby enslaving all Libyans and stealing the country’s resources.
Even though he and his clan kept enforcing the manifestos in his three parts green book on the beleaguered Libyan people but they could never pull it off. This imposter while claiming that his three parts green book provide solutions for problems permeating democracy, society and economy but in reality they are tools to suppress democracy, human rights and freedom. This prankster in both behavior and dress kept lying that he derived his concocted ideas from the Athenian, the French and the American Republics which could not be further from the truth. Juha al-Ghaddafi inverted all tenets of democracy so that the rule of the people became the rule of a brutal dictator, instead of granting the Libyan people their rights in their country’s resources including oil, he took ownership of the land and everything on it including the people and their properties, and finally his so-called social reforms were designed to create divisions and fissures among the population so as to cement and prolong his and his family’s infamous rule.
Despite the fact that Libyan people and the world community know of the regimes’ viciousness and the row evil beneath Ghaddafi’s mask, It took an all out revolution in all of Libya to completely tear up the mask off his vicious and ugly face. Who among us could forget that this man engineered the 1988 destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland that killed a total of 270 people many of them Americans heading home for the Christmas Holiday. Would you think that the people of Uganda, Sierra Leone, and Chad could forget this man’s support for dictators of his ilk including Idi Amin, Charles Taylor and Goukouni Oueddei, who had no qualms about committing genocide against their own people? Now that the jig is up and Ghaddafi is exposed for the whole world to see, the regime as expected would not hesitate to pursue an inhumane policy of a scorched earth rather than surrender power.
Who could believe that in the twenty first century the equally murderous Saif al-Islam Al-Ghaddafi speaking on national TV on his father’s behalf threatened the Libyan people with annihilation? Furthermore how could the civilized world and particularly the United States of America and Western Europe stand idly by and watch a massacre unfolding in which heavy guns, tanks and fighter helicopters and jets are being used against unarmed civilians. I am appealing to the world community on behalf of the Libyan people whose young and old, women and children are being massacred right before our eyes, to please get involved now. The time does not even allow for lengthy and tedious sessions at the United Nations or debating the pros and cons of direct involvement for if we wait any longer a whole population would possibly be wiped out right before our eyes and with it our sense of justice, security, compassion and common humanity. Nizar Awad, PO BOX 505721, Chelsea, MA 02150 USA.