Is it not heart breaking to see both Iraq and Syria in ruins? Is it not heart breaking that Egypt is incapable of quieting the rumbling stomachs of its over 90 million citizens? Is it not a tragic irony that the leftists and nationalists opposing Gulf countries are betting on a US-Iran rapprochement? Is it not also a tragic irony that the Gulf countries are lecturing us on democracy?
What we are seeing is, to put it mildly, surreal. Ridiculous. Tear-inducing. Tragic. Bloody. Devastating. A fatal, gloomy future. It makes one wonder about the reasons behind those smiley faces worn by Arab rulers in Damascus, Iraq, Tehran, Riyadh, Doha and Cairo, not to mention John Kerry’s proud smile in Baghdad. What could possibly be the reasons for these smiley faces? Baath, Da’esh and FIFA could be one of many.
Did we need Da’esh to reminisce on the unity of Iraq and the Levant? What were the Baathists in Damascus and Baghdad working for since 1970 until the US invasion of Iraq in 2003? Did we have to wait for Da’esh to remind and prove to us that the Fertile Crescent was predominantly rural and Bedouin? Did both Iraqi and Syrian regimes not appeal to “tribal leaders” when western threats were aimed at them? Tribal leaders and Baathism? After more than thirty years of absolute power? In fact, Iraq and the Levant are today worse off than they were in the days of Bani Othman. Our land has been ravaged but both rulers and Da’esh have been enriched.
As for FIFA, which proclaims itself a non-profit organization, its revenues are likely to surpass USD 4 billion this year. Today’s football does not compare with yesterday’s and sports are doing little to unite people and lift them up. Our basketball teams, Sagesse and Riyadhi, best exemplified this in the championship-final, which was held without any fans attending the game to avoid a potential “sectarian mishap”. All this brings us down to the common denominator among Baath, Da’esh and FIFA: players amassing power and wealth in the absence of the concerned audience: we, the people.
Things are not what they seem to be and players are not what they pretend to be. Slogans are nothing but a cover for tyranny and money. And all three are simply pawns maneuvered by the puppet master to blind and divert the masses. Noam Chomsky warned that the world’s political and financial powers always seek to divert public attention from vital issues towards more thrilling yet futile ones. What matters though is us, not Baath nor Da’esh or FIFA.
Who are we? Why are we what we are? How do we lay the foundation for a better future? This is the essential and existential matter we are missing as we become more absorbed with Baathists fighting with Da’esh in Iraq, Baathists fighting against it in Syria and a football World Cup without even a team to represent us. Games and wars in which, the people, have no say.
Jawad N. Adra