Saturday, July 09, 2011

"There is always a bigger fish"

A quote from the movie "Star Wars" episode 1 I think, in which there was literally a bigger fish.

Yesterday I was in a discussion about the old social structures in Iraq and the Arab world before the wave of colonization near the start of the 20th century. It was interesting and insightful in light of the last 20 years I guess.

Previous to Colonization, Countries like Iraq, Palestine, Syria and Egypt were under the control of the Ottoman empire. At the end of the 19century and the beginning of the 20th century that control was waning. There developed a localized system of ... policing I guess you'd call it. Every suburb or every couple of streets there would be a person who would act as the sheriff of that area. He would be a large muscly man with a massive mustache, a 'araqchine or a taqia on his head (similar to but larger than a yarmulke)  and a yashmagh scarf over his shoulder. This man would right the wrong, if a girl was harassed by someone she'd go to him and he'd beat up whoever was doing the harassing. If somebody was wronged in anyway he'd go and right that wrong. He operated on the principle of nakhwa or chivalry. I don't know what he did about money, but I think at the time these places were not poverty stricken so whatever he did it was enough to keep him happy. In Iraq this type of character was called Futuwa, in Egypt it's Mi'allim, and in the Sham (Syria Palestine Lebanon) it's Abadhai (I'm not 100% sure about this, if you're from those countries please confirm or correct this fact).

Well when the British, French and other European countries came as uninvited guests for anywhere from 50 to 120 years to the middle east and north Africa. They were there to stay, and accordingly they tried to change the social norms, customers and governance systems to model their own more enlightened system. The causes for these changes are still felt today in the many social diseases and problems in the Arab world,

One change that happened was the change in power structures, the colonizing power was not the police, that or the corrupt indigenous police force under the control of the colonizers anyway. The previous mode of order (Futuwa and the like) having lost their power and I'm guessing since the allocation of resources changed. Evolved to a more deformed image of their previous selves. Now they were known for being the bag guy. The bully who takes people's money and who wrongs people himself and in many cases no one can stop him. Or sometimes they would work for money. So they were be paid to disrupt a rally by a political party asking for reforms etc... 

Even when the British and other powers left after installing puppet regimes, those futuwa stayed. Now under a new name reflecting their changed dispositions (Shaqi). However it seemed the puppet regimes were the bigger fish. At the time of Abdul Karim Qasim those futuwa were collected and brutalized through torture and imprisonment and basically to stay home and die. In one year. This phenomenon of the Shaqi died out, never to be seen again. 

The government now acted very similarly to a shaqi in all Arab counties. They protected the people from outside danger, they provided infrastructure and policing etc... to give some semblance of a state. But at the end of the day ALL Arab governments siphoned off the majority of their country's money for themselves and their cronies while the masses starved and themselves became deformed. The government was the bigger fish. This has been going on since the beginning of the century.

Enter the new Era, Iraq has been invaded by the US under false pretenses. The old system (secular0 socialism) is completely changed and Democracy is installed. The US is now siphoning hundreds of billions of dollars of Iraq's money directly and indirectly while providing a semblance of democracy while at the same time allowing the corrupt puppet government militias to bully the masses. Bullying now is the form of massacres, rapes, torture and unlawful imprisonment.

The US is now the bigger fish.

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