By Bachir Habib
Image: Courtesy of http://maloof.wordpress.com
“Khomeini chose Reagan, and freed the hostages the moment he was sworn in as president. Khaled Meshal, Ahmad Jabari and Muhamad Deif (of the Hamas military wing in Gaza) are now working for McCain. This may yet do some good for the hopes of peace”.
In Hamas for Mc Cain, Amir Oren, Haaretz, 22-04-2008
Arab Egos are always present in different shapes and forms in political salons. They sit around and watch political talk shows, analyze situations, move on to cafés and make statements as if they were bonafide members of think tanks or political science experts. If interviewed by a radio or news channel in the street, they rarely react as citizens but as prominent politicians. This is for the average citizen. If we step into the journalistic sphere things get even worse. The number of invalid analysis and unfounded pretentions fill tens of newspapers pages everyday.
But it seems this is not only an arab problem but one of an overinflated Middle Eastern Ego. From Tel Aviv to Teheran passing by Beirut, Ryadh and any Middle Eastern Arab capital, reading the local newspapers gives a false impression that the Middle East is having a major impact on every foreign elections results. The quote introducing this article is one example. We have seen many others and we will be reading many more. From those who claim that the Hezbollah supports Barack Obama in his race for the US presidency or that the Democrats would negotiate with Teheran in case they make it to the White House. Others in the 'political Market' hypothesize that Mc Cain will continue George Bush’s policy and will push towards tougher sanctions against Teheran. At the opposite end of the spectrun, as Oren said in his article “Meshal working for Mc Cain may yet do some good for the hopes of peace”.
The Middle East is definitely playing a role in the US elections on three specific levels:The first one is Israel’s Security.The second one is the American troops presence in Iraq.The third one is the policy to be adopted towards Iran’s nuclear program (which is an issue directly related to Israel’s security). However, these three levels are present in the US campaigns for presidency not because they are vital to Washington but because they have to be part of the debate between the candidates. Whether it is Mc Cain or a Democrat who wins, the Middle East will be dealt with as usual, via Congress Partisan and bipartisan commissions following a very stable lead lines in American foreign policy: US National Interest. It might disappoint those in the Middle East who think that a change in Washington will bring solutions to the Middle East problems, or will prolong the war many are profiting from. The reality is that,after November 2008, the task of the new president in the White House will be to deal with the economic crisis and its impact on the American Citizen.
In the Middle East and especially in our Arab Countries, governments and oppositions will have wasted much time and energy betting on elections happening thousands of miles away to find out that 'plus ca change plus c'est la meme chose' as the French say. In the meantime the problems in our societies, from Human and Political Rights to economical and social conditions remain, with no one to tackle them and most sadly with no sign yet of any serious alternative to our Monarchs, Oligarchs and Tyrants.