Sunday, November 18, 2007

A-A-A on the coming revolution in Khaleejistan

As Chapati reports, they have shut down Geo TV in Dubai. The dictator in Pakistan is afraid of the media. Sheikhs in Dubai are probably afraid too, about possible political tremors in their fiefdoms. While we await the fall of the dictator in Pakistan, here’s a conversation we had some time ago.


In Syriana, the disaffected youth from a Dubai-like place turns to Jihad. While this hasn't actually happened, could something similar happen? In next few decades, as the age of oil ends, what will happen to the millions of Desis that make up the underclass in the Gulf?


I have never seen/heard about Desi youth in the Gulf being recruited for Jihad. So far I have only heard of the NWFP and Kashmir as recruitment centres. So, a Syriana-like situation is not happening. The only resistance in Saudi is from Shiias and Al Qaeda, who tend to be mostly Arab. Dubai or Oman is the last place I would think about recruiting.

As for when the oil runs out, well, the expats will be f..ked. They are nowhere. Those who have emigrated to the west know that’s where they will settle. People in Desh know their future is, well, either in poverty or in plenty. But people in Middle East don’t know where they belong. If they go back to Desh, they face adjustment problem, and then there is the political uncertainty. If they go West, well, they may not get visa and in any case, they will never save enough to have a comfortable lifestyle similar to what they have in Middle East.


See this is my point. Depending on how you count it, 20 to 80% of residents in most cities in the region are expats, and many expats have spent most of the past 3 decades there. One can't seriously expect them to be evicted without tension. I suspect when the oil era ends, the political geography of the region will look very different. When the oil era ends, the current monarchies will probably be overthrown. This could happen in a number of ways.

One scenario, 'good' but very unlikely, is that there would be democratic transformation that gives expats citizenship rights. A more likely, 'bad', scenario is a series of military coups. Some young officer like Nasser will overthrow the house of Saud. But Arab nationalism is a spent force, so these young army men will have to have something else to legitimise their rule, and the support of the expats might be at a premium. The ‘ugly’ scenario, also quite likely, is radical Islam in a new incarnation. Islam is an internationalist ideology. It is very conceivable that Islamist parties with mass support, as opposed to the militants and insurgents, could rise. These parties will have huge support among Desis – for all the pictures of Bose and Bin Laden, Desis like mass parties like Congress and League.

So Akbar, the future belongs to you. In fact, you should start organising this mass party. You could become the Zulfi Bhutto of Khaleejistan. We could call you Khaleej-bandhu. When you take over, hire me as an economic advisor or something. And we'll get Amar to make movies about you.


Thank you thank you, for this great honour, for which I am fully qualified and all — after all, I have watched Triumph of the Will by Leni Riefenstahl.

First, Akbar, serene, god-like, is seen in his PIA flight high up in the air, eating PIA's delicious poached egg. We hear a divine fart of approval.

Then we see the arrival of the Qaid in the city of Dubai, where the annual party conference has been organised. There is a massive motorcade which unfortunately can't proceed slowly through the city due to suicide bombers. However, skillful cutting and chopping of camera angles shows the Neta’s motorcade sweeping through town


And crowds cheering as the statue of Saddam Hussein is first covered by US Flag then toppled over


A sea of demonstrators as far as the eye can see, waving , what is this, photos of Ayatollah Khomeini, yelling "We love...



(voiceover) Death to the Shah!


Akbar, clearly standing in Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park, waving his arms to everyone.


Back to the convoy speeding through town, and a quick and awkward cut as it is seen running over an old man.

A Sub-title appears on screen: Millions of followers come our to greet their Great Leader.