Tag Archives conflict

Learning to be a bit deaf…

Learning to be a bit deaf…

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s advice for success in marriage, the Supreme Court, and everything in between is based on two wisdoms she received from her in-laws. Here she is at Stanford Rathbun Lecture 2017 delivering those wisdoms:

Man do I need this advice, especially the first part.

I sometimes have ugly anger management issues that flare up for (what I subsequently realise) the most mundane and insignificant things. I always end up hating myself for those anger bursts which could have been negated had I just breathed, become a bit deaf and just simply walked away.

But no. I have to have the last word, and even if my intentions are good in that I want to inform, teach or impart wisdom, of course, all of that is flushed away because the delivery was in anger. And who would listen to advice shouted at them?

Ginsburg said: “Collegiality is crucial to the success of our mission,” Ginsburg said. “We could not do the job the Constitution assigns to us if we didn’t—to use one of Justice Scalia’s favorite expressions—‘get over it.’”


Goodness. I do need to get over it. Get over myself. And just get on with life.

I just turned 55 a few days ago, and rather than enjoying that moment of happiness, I chose to lose my temper on yet another insignificant situation which I wrongly determined then as a slight on my character.

Now, a week later, and listening to Ginsberg’s address, I am yet again disgusted with myself.

Yes, I know I was right. However, rather than retaliating with anger, I would have served the issue better by just turning momentarily deaf, walking away, and then much later, trying to convey my point of view calmly. That, I feel now, would have delivered even a life lesson much better than shouting and stomping off in a temper.

Never again.

Does anyone have an experience with a good therapist I can borrow for a few weeks?


Moral Bankruptcy of the Arab World

Moral Bankruptcy of the Arab World

After a recent visit, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, declared: “Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years.” – BBC

What started as hope for change for the better, hope for a better future, hope for democracy and human rights, soon descended into calculated chaos. None of the countries afflicted by that spark have faired well. None. Heavy handedness in dealing with popular demands, deep mistrust between the ruled and the ruling elite, the view of the demand for change as an existential threat and prioritising myopic tribal or familial aspirations mandated the crushing of that hope.

What’s happened and continues happening in the Middle East will be rich text-book case studies for a plethora of topics. Sociologists and other scientists will have ample fodder for their consideration in the not too distant future. They will most probably look back and reflect on the central issue of how the rejection of dialogue and compromise disintegrated nations and directly contributed to their demise.

Back to the present, I cannot help but feel completely helpless as an individual when I witness various conflicts, civil wars, and an almost complete absence of democracy and human rights in this dystopian Middle East. What irks me more, actually, is the complete disregard of the plight of our fellow human beings affected directly by these situations.

Let’s take just two places where fighting is at its peak; Syria, with over 220,000 fellow human beings killed and over 11 million people displaced; 4 million fled the country and 7.6 million have been internally displaced. Over 12 million including 5.4 million children currently require humanitarian aid. With a population of 22 million, those should be very sobering numbers. [BBC / Wikipedia]


Yemen has an even scarier tally as far as the displaced is concerned. Out of a population of 26.7 million, 21 million require immediate humanitarian assistance, 20 million are without access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and 12.9 million have an insecure food supply. In a country were 90% of food is imported, the naval and air blockade has devastated human beings, let alone the country. [BBC]


I say all this from a humanitarian perspective, not a military or political one, and I fully realise that both Yemen and Syria – even before the conflicts – were failed states suffering from bad governance, instability, absence of the rule of law, cronyism and widespread poverty. War has amplified those ills by several factors.

Reading up on both the Syrian and Yemeni conflicts, it’s hard to decipher who’s fighting who. The gullible will side with one sectarian faction or another depending on their own confessionalism or political affiliation. The reality of the situations is much more complex. I don’t believe these are simple proxy wars in which regional powers are just duking it out. That’s partly the case to be sure, but you would be remiss if you didn’t factor in the dissatisfaction of the people with the current rule and social injustice. These alone have given the necessary fodder for ISIS, Alqaeda and various other non-state actors who readily promise the creation of a better, more just society where Sharia rules supreme to establish a just society. In theory this is all good, and this is one of the main reasons why these groups receive the sympathy and support they need from a desperate populace to propagate and sustain their rule. However, in practice we’ve seen that it doesn’t work. That cloak of religiosity simply hides and also justifies their avarice, throne grabbing and terrorism they revel in.

How are these conflicts going to be resolved? History has taught us that political differences cannot be resolved through the use of force. In fact, the use of force should be expedient to get those who can influence change to the table; however, here, it seems to be used in vengeance, purely and simply. Decision makers conveniently forget that the only victory they will realise ultimately is a Pyrrhic one.

How these conflicts must be resolved is through dialogue and incremental victories for all sides. War is not and never has been the answer. It just doesn’t work. At best, war distracts governments from the real challenges that if not addressed immediately will ensure that the whole Middle East will not be habitable in just 25 years. Wars will just accelerate that eventuality. The challenges we face include the acute dearth of water, despicably bad education, unemployment, over population, an undiversified income and bad investments, the finite availability of oil, cronyism, and of course political and human rights ills. With these critical shortcomings, why add war into the mix? Isn’t it just another energy depleting factor sidetracking us from what we actually need to take care of? Aren’t the challenges we face not existential enough? Is war really necessary in the first place?

Let me add one more thing to that despicable list. We are morally bankrupt.

How can our countries see all the suffering of the people of Syria and Yemen and not open their doors wide to receive the refugees and the destitute to lessen their suffering, even if temporarily?

Why are our governments appear to be sitting idle while our Arab brothers and sisters put themselves in peril crossing seas and walking vast distances to seek safety, just to be rejected at borders?

Isn’t it our moral obligation to receive them and ease their suffering? Why are we leaving it to European countries to offer them succour and help in the name of human rights and we shun them completely as if they don’t exist? Didn’t we play a role in their destitution in the first place? While the conflicts didn’t just start because of terrorist parasites, they definitely greatly contribute to the conflicts now. Where did those fighters in Iraq, Syria and Yemen come from in the first place? Did they descend from space? No, they were bred and raised in our own countries only to now wreak havoc all over the world. Yes, we need to defeat them. But we also need to accept those who need our help and open our borders to them while we mount operations to crush the terrorists. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Our countries are a mess, but solutions are staring us in the face!

How about starting with respecting human rights and apply fair and universally accepted laws across the board without favouritism? How about introducing real democracy in order for the rights of everyone be protected and establish a more just society in which the individual regardless of affiliation is respected and protected? It can’t be that difficult. All that is required is political will to allow these changes to be adopted over time.

Remember though, we just have 35 or so years to real peril. Now that a timeline has been set in stone, we need to work toward those sustainable goals. Goals of peace and democracy.

We really have to give peace and democracy a chance. For our children’s sake.


Ethnic Cleansing?

It looks like some neighbourly sorts took umbrage [Arabic] with the display of some murals and traditional black flags in some of Bahrain’s villages [example], took matters in their own hands by removing said flags in Sanad. In Busaiteen, a sleepy village in the Kingdom of Muharraq, they went a step further and torched a couple of houses which had the temerity of displaying their heritage by way of a couple of black flags on their houses.

These acts did not go without a reaction – thankfully – so Sanad villagers took to the street in an authorised protest:

Sanad villagers protesting against the removal of their Ashoora flags. Photo credit: Al-Wasat

While it’s not clear yet who the perpetrators are, it is relatively safe to say that it is people who aren’t happy about “having that sort of thing” in their neighbourhoods. Put bluntly, they don’t like the Shi’a to be in their neighbourhoods. The Shi’a being there from time immemorial is beside the point. Now that they’re living there, hell, it’s their patch! I guess that the thought of living comfortably and peacefully with each other doesn’t cross their mind.

Unfortunately Bahrain is getting to be like this with more incidents which escalate the canton-like existence. People, from both sides of the divide, demonstrate against “foreigners” coming to live in government developed housing estates in the vicinity of their village. The “foreigners” in some cases are none other than indigenous Bahrainis who lived just a few kilometres away. No, only sons of their own village would be welcomed. Parliament seem to have gotten in this particular sectarian dance, with some standing with those villagers, while MPs from the other sect taking up an opposing view.

Integration is key to bringing the Bahrain of old and the only way for us to prosper in the future. We have always lived together regardless of our religious differences and backgrounds and we should be actively encouraged to do so even more, rather than what the current situation has become, little closed villages virtually surrounded by high walls to keep the others out. If “infiltrated” and one dares to show some sort of personal belief differing from those in the area, daggers – or kerosene – come out.

These situations should be brought under control by applying the law and by encouraging community activities. This is probably a good start which leaders within the community themselves should undertake without government interference. Elders within the community can and should bring their communities together to ensure that this sort of strife does not happen again.

However, judging by how seemingly systemic these incidents have become; that is, politicising every event befalling the country or community, the issue could be much larger than that. The general feeling is that people suffer from social injustice, discrimination and marginalisation. Even if these feeling are just perceptions, they must be addressed at the state level and addressed immediately.


Brace Brace Brace! Bush is in town

Bush is coming to town.

He’ll probably fly in on a helicopter from some big tub floating in the Gulf, that the Iranians have taken an inexplicable fancy to all of a sudden, land in the naval base in Juffair, shake some hands, visit with some illustrious personages whom he will make sure they understand that Eye-Ran is pretty bad for their survival and that of the wouurld, tell them to expand the bases and use their facilities and airspace to tame the Eye-Ranians, just a bit, like, a couple of 10,000 lbs bombs strategically targeted at military and dangerous areas.

Easy peezy. No one on our side will be hurt.

Like Eye-Rack.

In and out job. And it is predestined and ordained, as the Big Guy told him.

And then his vision of a Destruction Crescent from Palestine to Afghanistan will become reality. An area that thenceforth will become known as Bushistan.

Welcome to our shores Mr. President. And here’s your todo list just in case she didn’t pack it for you:

Bush’s todo list