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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Saturday, April 23, 2011

It came about over yet another dinner table debate, this 'moral imperative' we in the West appear to have when there's a conflict in the world, with an underdog to be helped.. The talk spanned history, from the first expansions of the Sumer through the division, then reuniting of Pharonic Egypt... through the West's drive to spread it's message and institute trade worldwide, through colonisation, through the 'looting' of said colonies and the injustices of Western Officials, through the Pax Britannica, the World Wars.. it ran the gamut..
Then it turned to today's 'conflict of the hour'... that being Libya..
"What right do we have in involving ourselves in what's tantamount to a civil war..?" was a common question.. another was "Which among us, actually understands the customs, the people of, the Middle East.. how their diplomats think..?"
"When we say a ceasefire here in the west," said one, "then we mean each side lays down their guns and attacks stop.." And that's quite true, but it only applies to the Western mindset. Historically, that area has been a tribal culture, each owing allegiance to a Liege, and each constantly defending their own small patches of desert.. It is an entirely new train of thought, this 'nationalism', and it's growth is being held back by ingrained tribal allegiances..
Still, the flame is there, and given time, and the opportunity to enjoy a Western lifestyle, there will be enough of the population to forge a Constitution of their own design..
"Nonsense," was the retort.."There will always be a Council of Elders representing
tribal interests, and they regardless of any government being elected, will still have weight.."
The Arab mind, without being derogatory, is a devious one when Western values and morals are applied.. negotiations which should be over in a day or two, stretch on for weeks, while the Arab mind tries to delay the implementation of that which might hinder their cause..
Case in point is Misrata, an important oil terminal that's key to both sides in this conflict. They're into the sixth week of a siege, with rebel forces inside, and government forces without. The fighting there is fierce, with sections of the town being swapped back and forth by the rebels and government forces..
Now the Libyan Interior Minister, two days ago, announced a 'ceasefire', in compliance to pressure from the UN.. yet the civilian death toll continues to rise in that city, including two foreign photojournalists killed by a government RPG..
The idea, from the Arab viewpoint, is appease, and ignore as long as is humanly possible.. to make conciliatory statements which contain at least a grain of truth, while continuing steadily down the path they had just forsaken..
It's nothing to condemn them for, it's simply no more than the way it has always been. This is how they've dealt with themselves, when tribe after tribe had to be juggled about.. They're not lying, from their perspective, but merely pushing their advantage as far as we will allow them. And once those boundaries have been stretched to the breaking point, it is then time to sit down and begin more talks, while the fighting continues..
"And lets not forget, there appears to be a significant percentage of those in Tripoli and the western part of the country, who still like Mohammar, and should their allegiance be respected as much as the hatred of those against the Dictator..?"
Yup, can't deny we've seen and heard pictures of those waving the solid green flag, and yet we in the West are sceptical.. saying that must be a minority.. paid protesters.. For who in their right mind would want to keep such a man in power...?
Again, the Arab mind respects a 'Supreme Pasha'.... a 'Sublime Port'... It's part of their tradition, and they will fight as hard as those who would change the system their great-great-great-great grandfathers lived, and survived by..
"It's all about oil.." was thankfully soon disposed of... such a facile and jejune comment was not to be on the agenda...
Yet at the end of it all.. we see the workings of the Arab mind well demonstrated by the latest development... That announcement from a senior Libyan Government official warning that the tribes around Misrata have now threatened to join in the fight again the rebels.. The government troops, in the event of a ceasefire, will of course be unable to control the actions of a coalition of hostile tribes, and if their fighting continues against the rebels, what blame has the government to carry in this..?
It's all a Game... one played in the Middle East for millennia..
One we in the West, are confused and confounded by..

Meanwhile, down the road in Syria, the protests are becoming more and more violent, with reports of 'dozens' being killed in clashes with government forces..
Once again, will we step into a situation that can have no winner..?
A change in power in Syria, will bring about more problems for the west, than the continuation of the status quo... There are too many factions involved in that can of worms.. Hammas, Hezbollah, Iran...
It's all just too much..

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