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The Hostility of the Middle East to Freedom of Expression

The Hostility of the Middle East to Freedom of Expression

Here’s a riddle: if you heard the following, which country of region or the world would immediately jump up at you?

A female artist and activist serving a 12-year prison sentence is facing additional charges, including “indecent conduct,” after shaking her male lawyer’s hand.

South America?

No. I bet the region that popped up in your mind was the Middle East. As to the specific country, it most probably was either Saudi Arabia or Iran. Okay, I’ll throw in Afghanistan in there too.

Atena Farghadani

The correct answer, of course in this case, is Iran.

Why is this region so afflicted with this disease of needing to control everyone and mould them into unthinking and unfeeling automatons beyond their own officially sanctified propriety? Aren’t the perpetually descending freedom indices enough to jolt the region’s officials to a state of utter alarm coupled with a clear realisation that the people of this region have had enough Big Brotherly oversight and repression and they’re rebelling against the chains? Don’t they realise that peoples’ aspirations have now changed beyond their recognition and broke out of their moulds? That what people now want is the plentiful bounty of choice that is available to their fellow human beings elsewhere? And that the continued application of unfair and unjust laws that curtail personal freedoms will achieve nothing but an all out ugly rebellion that might well lead to civil wars?

The Middle East is by almost any reckoning the world’s worst region for freedom of expression. Reporters Without Borders, a press freedom lobby, puts war-torn Syria 177th out of 180 countries on its latest annual ranking, in 2014. Iran is 173rd, Sudan 172nd, Yemen 167th, Saudi Arabia 164th. The highest any of the region’s countries make it is 91st, with Kuwait, which has a democracy of sorts. According to the Pew Research Centre, a think-tank, as of 2012, 14 of 20 Middle Eastern countries criminalise blasphemy and 12 of 20 make apostasy—leaving Islam—an offence. [Unholy Silence – The Economist]

Almost every country in the Middle East imprisons political activists, artists, journalists, writers, bloggers, and anyone else who dares to oppose official views or simply criticises any official body using draconian and malleable laws that will ensure their silencing and also make them examples to deter others from treading their paths.

The ludicrous story of the Iranian artist Atena Farghadani embodies all that ails this region of the world. She expressed her opinion of the political situation in her country by drawing Iranian parliamentarians as animals. That opinion got her more than twelve years behind bars in the country’s top security prison. When she shook the hand of her male lawyer, they slapped an additional prison sentence for public indecency and they both can receive over 70 lashes for their courtesy on top of the prison sentence.

“The laws on the books in Iran are a kind of arsenal or tool kit always available for use by the authorities in their efforts to suppress any form of expression they don’t approve of,” Elise Auerbach, Iran country specialist at Amnesty International, told The Huffington Post.

How are these laws allowed to be legislated in the first place? How can parliamentarians continue to have any respect for themselves after allowing such legislation to pass? Don’t their conscience and honour question their actions or lack thereof?

Of course, the practical effects of this suppression are manifold; chief amongst them is the killing of innovation and creativity. People cannot be creative and innovative if they’re continuously looking over their shoulders and censoring themselves. This creates such a corrosive and unproductive environment which enforces subservience to foreign products, workforce and talent. This situation will ultimately unbalance the very foundations of a sustainable society and put whole countries at the mercy of the external powers they are beholden to. The local disenfranchised population will of course lose hope, lose their kinship with their own country of birth and might well stand on the sidelines while its resources continue to be plundered because they would be unsure whether they are empowered to act to protect the resources. Under these conditions, there is no doubt that governments will ultimately lose the support of their own people and chaos will ensue.

The great Mark Twain once said that “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it”.  Judging by the acceleration in arbitrary arrests, the fashioning of even more opaque laws whose sole purpose is for their use against any form of opposition or dissent, the further choking of freedoms of expression and penalising almost any form of criticism, that governmental support across the Middle East is declining to a level that open rebellion – small as it may currently be – is begining to be witnessed on a daily basis.

There is a way out of this, of course. Paradoxically, Bahrain once provided the guiding light for how things can be reversed and corrected. Just look at what its RSF Press Freedom Index was in 2002 and compare it to every year since. What did Bahrain do in 2001 that warranted that huge increase in its press freedom ranking and all other freedom of expression indices?

Here’s a brief, courtesy of 2002 report from Freedom House:

Bahrain’s political rights rating improved from 7 to 6, and its civil liberties rating improved from 6 to 5, because of political reforms that set the stage for the establishment of an elected legislature, abolished emergency laws and courts, released political prisoners and allowed exiles to return, granted nationality to bidoon (stateless peoples), and improved political debate and freedom of association.

Sheikh Hamad ibn Isa al-Khalifa ended almost a decade of civil unrest in February 2001, when he presented Bahrainis with the opportunity to vote in a referendum on a new national charter. The charter, which calls for the establishment of a partially elected legislature, an independent judiciary, political rights for women, equality for all citizens, and a body to investigate public complaints, addresses the key grievances of Shiite-led opposition groups. Ninety percent of Bahrainis turned out to vote in the referendum, and 98 percent of them approved the new charter.

Although the 2002 Freedom House index for Bahrain rates it as “Not Free”, it does recognise that some solid steps have taken place that warranted that upward change in ranking. In fact, the effect of those changes were clearly seen from 2003 – 2009 when the country’s status changed to “Partly Free”, which is a big achievement.

From a practical level, I remember the heady days of 2001 when people stood up straighter, looked each other in the eye, had fruitful debates without resorting to hushed tones and continuously looking over their shoulders and political lectures and workshops were aplenty. We actually started to understand what “debate” actually was rather than resort to the usual accusations of treason, or lobbying choice epithets at people we disagree with. The whole country was abuzz and business was booming. Everyone had an air of accomplishment and a sense of worth and pride.

That feeling is a universal requirement for a healthy and effective Middle East. Unfortunately it has disappeared, or at least, it got lost in the interim. For our own survival and our much needed growth as effective nations, we need to get that sense of self-worth back.

How the people of this region might go about this will not be easy. The road will require sacrifices to re-establish trust between all parties. Shared goals need to be set that have national interest fully in sight and which transcend personal aggrandisement and selfish benefit. I personally believe that this can and must be achieved. I can’t give up on more than 400 million people and neither can the world for that matter.

We all individually have a part to play, no matter how small, to achieve that much required correction to rejoin a world, without terrorism, wars or strife. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to try.


Just-in-time IISS

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The 7th Manama Dialogue run by the International Institute for Strategic Studies [IISS] is almost upon us. It will take place at the Ritz Carlton this weekend from Dec 3rd – 5th and will be attended by virtually the who’s-who in world’s political and security spheres.

The delegates this year are probably the most powerful collection of individuals the conference has ever had. They include:

Some 25 government delegations will include prime ministers, foreign and defence ministers, chiefs of defence staff, permanent secretaries, military and intelligence chiefs and distinguished delegates from the private sector.

Selected delegation leaders and senior government officials include:

  • HRH Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander, Bahrain
  • HM King Abdullah II, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
  • Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Afghanistan
  • Kevin Rudd, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Australia
  • Sh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohamed Al Khalifa, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bahrain
  • Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, Canada
  • General Walter Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff, Canada
  • Admiral Edouard Guillaud, Chief of Defence Staff, France
  • Christian Schmidt, Parliamentary State Secretary for Defence, Germany
  • Manouchehr Mottaki, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iran
  • Dr Barham Saleh, Prime Minister, Kurdistan Regional Government, Iraq
  • Hoshyar Zebari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq
  • Hajime Hirota, Parliamentary Secretary of Defense, Japan
  • Nasser Judeh, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jordan
  • Sh Dr Muhammad Al Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kuwait
  • Lieutenant General Waheed Arshad Chauhdry, Chief of the General Staff, Pakistan
  • Sh Hamad Bin Jassim Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Qatar
  • HRH Prince Naef Bin Ahmed Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud , Advisor to HRH the Crown Prince Sultan, Saudi Arabia
  • HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Chairman, Board of Directors, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Saudi Arabia
  • Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Singapore
  • Carl Bildt, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sweden
  • Professor Dr Ahmet DavutoÄŸlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Turkey
  • HH Sh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, UAE
  • Lieutenant General Hamad Thani Al Romaithi, Chief of Staff, UAE Armed Forces
  • Dr Liam Fox, Secretary of State for Defence, UK
  • General Sir David Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff, UK
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, US
  • General James Mattis, Commander, US Central Command
  • Dr Abubakr Al Qirbi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yemen

Among those whom I shall be particularly interested to hear is Secretary of State for the United States Mrs. Hillary Clinton’s conference’s opening address, as well as attending her press conference in which I hope she will field considered questions and will at least attempt to answer them without too much of a political twist or fluff. I suspect some of the areas she will be questioned on is Cablegate, obviously, but also the US’ future in this region, particularly Iraq, Afghanistan and most importantly the Gulf including the Iranian situations. I would dearly like to hear an unequivocal support for Human Rights defenders in this region and a strong US-led push into democratic reforms. Naive? Possibly, but I would rather be optimistic at this point.

Another thing of interest will be King Abdulla 2’s keynote address and see how his physical proximity to Iran and the Iranian delegation will revise his position, yet again, on his “Shi’a Crescent” theory, and how the revelations of the Wikileaks cables will have coloured that position. He’s a good public speaker, but I’m not sure that we’ll get coherent content from him. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt though and wait to hear what he has to say.

In this conference, even though Wikileaks will be at the forefront of the delegates’ and attendees’ minds, the main published theme of the conference this year is “Spotlight on Nuclear Proliferation and Missile Defence”, a theme which obviously has not been chosen haphazardly. It clearly demonstrates the import of the Iranian nuclear issue to everyone in the region and its impact on the regional and global security and stability, apart from the perceived or real threat the Iranian nuclear program has on Israel and the Americans.

Although most of the delegates will be from the security stream, I do hope that diplomats at least will take this golden opportunity to initiate a much needed dialogue between the Arabs and the Iranians. The Iranians too should take this opportunity to genuinely reciprocate and engage both the Arabs and the Americans and allay their suspicions by being open and transparent about their nuclear programs under the auspices of the international community.

This region has lived through perpetual tensions and wars for millennia, I don’t for a second assume that this – or any other conference – is going to resolve long set adversarial positions, but wise men should take any opportunity to at least find a point of equilibrium to allow progress, safety and security to be achieved for fellow human beings. Just imagine how this area would be transformed for the better with democratic, just and transparent rule. Don’t you think that we can most certainly build a better future for us and our children? Of course we could, we need to exert a concerted effort at achieving such a position. We owe it to future generations not to lose this one or be lethargic about the search for peace.


Wikileaks’ Cablegate: exposing nothing new

Yes, the conversation of the minute is the deluge of cables sent back from most if not all American diplomatic missions around the world to their mothership, the State Department, who seems interested in every little detail which could be elicited by whatever means possible about political actors. This is a legitimate exercise and has been so from time immemorial. Having them published, however, is not. Spies are employed the world over at great cost to intercept those communiqués for their paymasters in order for them have a glimpse into the minds of nations, and hope through that, gain some kind of leverage against them, should that be necessary. With cablegate, the Americans have now become more exposed, somewhat benignly when all is considered, but there is no guarantee that what remains in Julian Assange’s copious inbox will allow the situation to remain as such.

To me, and staying on the micro level of the Arabian Gulf, the depth of hatred and suspicion shown by the Gulf’s political leaders is not shocking in itself, for us locals, we have known this for millennia, what is shocking; however, is the resolute trust given to American officials by sharing with them their unadulterated thoughts and the seemingly greater trust that those very thoughts will be cherished, encapsulated and be read by only the anointed higher echelons of those in the American administration which was evidenced by the apparent comfort at which those thoughts were delivered. Had they known that two and a half million pairs of eyes within that sphere will have access to them, some of whom are as young as twenty-two while some are possibly even younger, I wonder if they would have tempered them somewhat. From reading the various cables, I doubt that. They, it seems, continue to naively fly into the direction of the light and be absorbed by it. I’m not sure if its the thoughts of redemption and salvation which spurs them on in that direction, or the genuine belief that America will unerringly contribute to their reigns’ longevity.

Disappointment. Elation. Anger. Disbelief. Denial. Are all feelings I have observed from people around me since the leaks have sprung. Each either shoring up their self-built and maintained image of the region’s rulers and others displayed happiness that what they have suspected for years have finally been vindicated through the direct and underlying content of those telegrams.

To me, looking through available cables emanating from Bahrain so far, I am left somewhat peeved, but understanding of what our leaders have echoed: Iran’s nuclear threat is real and destabelising. However, I continue to be nagged by what I believe those leaks have also exposed: are the leaders thoughts only concerned with the security impact of having a nuclear capable Iran on the people of their countries, or are they more concerned that the perceived explosion of Shi’a influence such a state can bring will detonate their thrones?

In all the cases, I suggest that while the current Iran and its nuclear capability most certainly pose a threat to global security and it must be politically dealt with, the real thing which seems to readily escape the Arab leaders is that their security and longevity of rule lies not in that, but in the empowerment of their own countrymen. Should they wish to solidify their rule and continue in their thrones, it is incumbent upon them alone to allow their countrymen to be real citizens enjoying global values of rights and responsibilities, and hold those in power – all of them – responsible and accountable to their citizens. This will work, but knowing how things are here, will most probably not happen.

Not with the current crop anyway.


Newspaper Banned in Bahrain

Not that I love Akhbar Al-Khaleej, nothing could be more remote from the truth, but my feeling for this decrepit paper, its publisher or some of its so called journalists is completely immaterial, but it should not have been banned under whatever reason given or withheld by whatever organ of government dictating this latest ban on freedom of speech.

Rumour has it that the reason for the ban is this excellent Muharraqi cartoon. In it, a hand captioned as Official Media is trying to cover the truth unsuccessfully.
Rumour has it that the reason for the ban is this excellent Muharraqi cartoon. In it, a hand captioned as Official Media is trying to cover the truth unsuccessfully.

My sources tell me that the paper was banned due to a rather cutting article by the infamous Shura Council MP Ms. Sameera Rajab who is no stranger to controversy. She is loathed by a great swathe of people in Bahrain due to her background and rather critical writings especially about the Shi’a and their beliefs. It is also no secret that she detests the regime in Iran and has been very sympathetic to the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussain.

Regardless, banning a paper because of a column is a slap in the face of the freedom of information that the Ministry has been at pains to promote – rather paradoxically, especially that it has made it their professional hobby to block websites.

Sameera Rajab is free to her own opinion, and regardless of what she has written criticising the Iranian regime, neither the paper nor she should have been banned from publication. If the government of Iran – if the information is correct – has an issue with the article, they are free to respond in kind, rather than crying to a boneless ministry who has acquiesced to a foreign power’s request rather than stand up for freedoms which should be its main purpose in life to protect.

Update 24 June, 2009: The reasons for the suspension/banning the paper for a single day is due to Ms. Sameera Rajab’s article as confirmed by the Editor-in-Chief Anwar Abdulrahman. Yacoub’s Dome has more to say about this episode.


Summary of Khamenei Sermon

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Like the rest of the world, I’ve been half interested in the Iranian elections, not for anything specific, but I guess it’s a good gig to while away the time with. If you think this is endeavor – the elections – are “the real thing” then please be reminded that this is The Middle East. Rule is either by force, charisma, religion or preferably a combination of all three even if the last trait is by proxy. Iran and its leaders has plenty of all three, and then some.

Listening to the big kahuna on BBC News as I type this, and I have been doing so for the best part of an hour so far, what I surmised is the following:

1. It’s a zionist conspiracy. Iran is pure.
2. Shut the fuck up and accept Mahmoodi as my chosen puppet and your president.
3. Everybody else is a liar.
4. You’re simple people and don’t understand. Keep the thinking to us turbanned lot.
5. It’s the Jooze who want the destruction of Islam.
6. They also want to destroy the illustrious Islamic Republic of Iran.
7. My, I have a lot of sheep in front of me whom I can command on a whim.
8. The Amerikans are arrogant and bad and want to destroy us.
9. The Islamic Republic of Iran is the soundest, most democratic and most pure country on earth.
10. But those Zionists are putting out reports that we are corrupt, we are not (stomps feet and thumps lectern).
11. The elections were a-okay and you should trust me, believe me for I am your leader! (on cue, crowd’s fists thumping the air, look into the camera lens and shout Allahuakbar)
12. Islamic Republic will not cheat and will not betray the people election mechanism allows no cheating. (cue cards up, fists thump air again etc)

bla bla bla ad nuseum.

Time to flick the channel.. I wonder what other entertainment is in store for me in other Islamic channels, they’re a hell of a lot of fun to watch.


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


Beneficial conflicts

I’ve just come back from a very interesting talk given by Dr. Khaled Abdulla who was a guest speaker at tonights Rotary Club of Adliya meeting. Dr. Khaled is one of the pre-eminent economists in Bahrain as his very successful career asserts. In tonight’s talk entitled “Oil Prices and Impact on the Economy“, he posed a loaded question: “Why is it that in this region of the world we are faced with a major conflict whenever there is an appreciable hike in the price of oil?”

Iran, you’re next!He went on to list the first Gulf War (Iran/Iraq) which was heavily financed by the Gulf’s monarchies; the second Gulf War which was the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, the third and on-going one is the Iraqi occupation by the USA and he suggests that the war clouds are already gathering rather heavily for a fourth conflict evidenced by the saber rattling by the USA against Iran.

These conflicts, he suggests, are nothing more than “correcting” the US deficit against the increase in its oil import bill. How that correction is made is by the US selling arms to us hapless Arabs! Robert Gates seemed to have confirmed that in a recently concluded security conference in Bahrain:

Claiming Iran may secretly have resumed efforts to build a nuclear weapon, the US defence secretary, Robert Gates, called for intensified international pressure on Tehran and urged Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to develop a joint air and missile shield to ward off future threats.

It’s easy to strike Dr. Khaled’s observations as nothing more than yet another Arab conspiracy theories, but one would be best advised to think a little about these conditions and come to a studied conclusion. There is at least a semblance of truth in them if only by coincidence but certainly merits some more investigation.

Regardless of what your position is; the saber rattling is very real and multi-billion dollar deals have already been announced with the sale of Patriot 2 and 3 to both Saudi and the Emirates to the tune of US$11 billion or so. Pocket change to both governments it might be, but those funds could have easily been diverted to where they are needed most in our community: education, health, infrastructural or even just kept in the piggy-bank for future generations.

But there could be a fly in the American’s ointment. Our crown prince specifically is speaking rather candidly against confrontations, especially military ones. Being a rising economic and reforms champion, I guess he doesn’t want yet another war on his watch. Just imagine how fast the glut of cash we “suffer” from currently would dissipate if we were to be afflicted with yet another military conflict. And guess where that glut would migrate to.

Even more important than cash migration, the very important social reforms about to be enacted would grind to a screeching halt, resulting in our regression yet again for one or more generations.

It is high time that we ignored the warmongers. It is time to take care of ourselves first and foremost for a change. The economic, educational and labour reforms are nothing short of existential. They are critical to our immediate future and cannot wait any longer for their implementation, let alone being delayed by at least a generation due to yet another conflict.

The only valid option available to us is the diplomatic one. Maybe it is time to expand the GCC to be truly representative of the Persian Gulf! If that’s what it would take to keep the reforms on track, I’d welcome Iraq and Iran to be constructive members of the new GCC coalition.


Iran 1: USA 0

Iran nuclear status

It looks like the war in the Gulf with another “coalition” being led by the ear into Iran will be on a rain-check at the moment. At least until the Bush administration finds another excuse to inflict upon us another of its failures and waxes lyrical about how Iran (or whatever country in vogue at the time) is the real axis of evil and should be exterminated.

Why? Simple. Their own Director of National Intelligence has released a simple 9 page report in which it convincingly ascertain that Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions ceased in 2003, even though they continue to enrich uranium, ostensibly for peaceful purposes, generation of power is one of them.

I am glad they didn’t bring out the ILM-style smoke and mirrors to “convince” us with absolute certainty that the Iranians are dangerous and should immediately be attacked “in order to save the world,” and all that tired hogwash.

To be fair; though, let me put it on record that I – as a Gulf individual – am not happy that Iran is pursuing nuclear technology, nor am I thrilled that the countries on this side of the Gulf decided to act in an amateurish manner and initiate a dangerous and expensive nuclear energy race when all scientific indications suggest that covering just one third of the Saudi desert with solar panels can generate enough power to satisfy the world’s current energy needs! Add to that the state of education that this whole region suffers from and don’t even mention the inherent political instability and you would be mad to support such notions as nuclear energy in our area is “safe”.

Let me emphasise that I recognise and raise my hat to the DNI for having the courage to release such a report, even though their various intelligence agencies seem to have taken a strategic approach to not communicate with each other and to habitually inflate findings to be “aligned” with the administration’s plat du jour.

We can now breath a sigh of relief and enjoy the feeling as it might very well be temporary. Knowing this region, I am sure that we will either create a bigger problem to maintain our collective insomnia, or simply import one to keep us busy. We’re good at both.



Scorned by a friend, championed by the enemy?

There must have been quite a run on dental surgeries over the last couple of days which continues today and possibly for a few days to come. The reason is not a sudden national oral hygiene awareness, but a condition borne of gnashed teeth to the point of shattering!

King Hamad meets Ahmedinejad

Why I hear you ask? Well, Ahmedinejad was Bahrain’s Santa yesterday. Yes, I know, his timing has always been off a bit, it’s still a few weeks until the presents are opened, but he came bearing very welcome gifts nonetheless, ones that the whole nation – especially the government and business community – has afforded them a huge sigh of relief. Bahrain, no thanks to our familial-tied Qatar, will now have guaranteed access to up to 2 billion cubic feet of gas a day to run its power stations which subsequently will directly shore the burgeoning plethora of energy-hungry projects; hence, one could say that Iran – much to the chagrin of even some parliamentarians and rabid anti-Iran personages – will have a direct hand in Bahrain’s future growth.

There must have been quite a run on dental surgeries

But, will that now translate into a recognition that Iran will have much more political influence over decisions made in this country? I would say very probably. After all, one doesn’t bite the hand that feeds. One hopes; however, that influence is somewhat tempered with a modicum of good sense and neighbourliness.

Much like the Iranian nuclear ambitions, I don’t particularly know where the fallouts of this agreement will take us. I am willing to give it a chance and a good measure of the benefit of doubt as I would assume that the architects of such vital agreement are a bunch of cool and calculating business heads rather than ones who are given to believe their own rhetoric. But then it could also be purely political in which the price paid could well be the US Navy is sent packing! But let’s just assume that it’s all business first and all other considerations second.

will that now translate into a recognition that Iran will have much more political influence over decisions made in this country?

You’re more than welcome Father Ahmedinejad and thanks for the prezzies. They are much appreciated. You should have stayed and chilled with us a bit. Maybe now that business is once again firmly established between our so far estranged countries, this minnow will dampen a bit of your fire to the better of all concerned.

It is indeed business which is the catalyst of rapprochement, rather than the naturally divisive worlds of religions and politics.


Ridiculous notions

This country needs “a Gibbs”

This country needs “a Gibbs”. An act watchers of NCIS will be really familiar with. For others less fortunate, the act is best described as a swift whack on the back of a head the sharpness of which will bring that mind back to reason. Hopefully. But I fear in some cases it might require a shovel to effect the needed movement of neurons in solidified grey matter.

The shovel method is most certainly required to a head that belongs to a so called “educator” who mysteriously deduced that a young adult giving what is essentially monopoly money bought on a trip to Iran to friends at school as high treason in the form of “distributing counterfeit currency with the intent to shake the country’s economy.” A charge communicated to the Misery of Education which found it fit to escalate the matter to the Public Prosecutor who in turn – with a complete straight face and some might even think with collusion – imprisoned the girl for a few days “while investigating the matter” only to come out eventually with all charges dropped, most probably due to the ridicule heaped upon them by the press.

Although blame should most definitely be levied at the moronic principal who at best does not have any sense of humour, and at worst is riddled with dark and heinous sectarian intentions – a charge that school has been particularly riddled with and one might be excused to thing that this incident would not have received such attention had the Monopoly dosh come from the Emirates or Saudi or even Afghanistan – to be shared with full contempt for the Misery of Education as both have certainly put new meaning to educating our youth by terrorising them with the ever-present police ogre who are only too willing to acquiesce to their frivolity.

However, the blame in this case, as is in others, must squarely lay at the Public Prosecutor’s office who inexplicably dish out imprisonments “for investigations” as a matter of course and seem to emphatically dish that incarceration sentence out not to prevent people from fleeing or interfering with their “investigations”, but rather as a first phase of punishment in their heretofore unproven guilt; thus, over stepping their role from being an investigative service to that of jurists and executioners too.

both have certainly put new meaning to educating our youth by terrorising them with the ever-present police ogre who are only too willing to acquiesce to their frivolity

Is this the education reform spearheaded by our Crown Prince I wonder? Apart from building higher walls surmounted by iron-work spikes to prevent people from getting into schools now has terrorising students out of their wits by imprisoning young impressionable minds for a frivolous and a completely legal activity of giving gifts clearly marked as “having no commercial value” and clearly – even to the blind of sight but definitely not those with that affliction affecting their souls – nothing more than Monopoly money? What kind of impression do those champions of education; in this particular case the headmistress and her cohorts at the Misery of Education, leave with the young girl other than hating education and most probably detesting the establishment too? Or was it a concerted effort to reach such a zenith in the first place?

What a ridiculous situation this is. Utterly corrosive and criminal too.

That headmistress should be removed from her post forthwith, she has amply demonstrated that she does not have the presence of mind or the kindness of soul to be an educator nor a person who should be tasked with guiding impressionable youths into a more complex world. She is completely unfit for the job. The same must be done to her cohorts, the unthinking uncaring automatons at the Misery of Education for allowing such an issue to be escalated rather than holding their minion back from further grievous mistakes and utter public embarrassment.

His majesty might also want to ensure that an over-sight committee is put in place to look into infractions like these and provide redress for those who unnecessarily suffer by the misapplication of their power.

As to the Public Prosecutor, well, at the risk of getting pulled up by them again and unnecessarily imprisoned, I suggest that it is high time for their reform too. That shouldn’t be too difficult given the recent age of that organisation. The king might seriously consider giving them complete autonomy and independence to execute their jobs better after removing their current head who allowed his staff to use investigative imprisonment as yet another method of what could be conceived as state sponsored terror. His majesty might also want to ensure that an over-sight committee is put in place to look into infractions like these and provide redress for those who unnecessarily suffer by the misapplication of their power. At the very least, tell them, your majesty, that they should not dish out automagic incarcerations willy nilly like that but only if truly deserved when there is a genuine flight risk.

Failing that, let’s just declare Monopoly a tool of the devil and pay a readily bought cleric or two to haramize it.