Monday, June 26, 2006

The Yemeni president, `Ali `Abdullah Salih, finally compromised. The Yemeni dictator finally succumbed to "popular pressures" and agreed to serve for yet another term. I bet the UN Security Council will not meet, and will it not issue a special resolution against this extension of his term. I bet that Chirac, who received the son of the Saudi king in his palace 2 weeks ago and is willing to receive the pet of the Saudi king at short notice, will not throw a fit. The Yemeni president agreed to receive yet another 99% of people's vote in another fraudulent and sham election. As long as he gives US forces a free reign in Yemen, to shoot, capture, and kidnap, he will enjoy his dictatorship to the last day of his life. What a scene it was: to see this autocrat thanking the people for allowing him to oppress them. Is that a farce or is that politics as usual in the Arab world? And then there was that picture of Abu Mazen warmly receiving the Israeli leader in Jordan. Did you see that picture? Did you see him almost dancing on the bodies of dead Palestinian children, with the Jordanian king cheering him on? What a sight? This Abu Mazen who used the grieving Huda Ghalyah for a photo opportunity. That was the cheapest political stunt I have seen in years. You will NEVER meet a Palestinian who really likes Abu Mazen. I mean that. This is the first Palestinian leader since Hajj Amin Husayni who is not liked by a single Palestinian. He really is proving to be a more reliable puppet than Karzai, although the new Iraqi prime minister under-foreign-occupation is a strong second. And the Dalai Lama was there in Amman too. The Dalai Lama: another proof of the absurdity of the clergy, any clergy, especially his Hollywood version of it. And I read a long interview with Bashshar Al-Asad in Al-Hayat today: what discourse. He was only clear on his views on Lebanon: on every other issue he wanted it to have it both ways. He wants to help the resistance and the occupation in Iraq; he is for Oslo and against it; for Abu Mazen and for Hamas; for the King of Saudi Arabia and for Abu Qa`qa`ah; for the Jordanian King and for his critics. It was a lousy performance, I thought. The Syrian regime is a heavy burden for its allies, not to mention to its critics and dissidents. Today, I ran into the Head of the Labor Federation of Lebanon, Ghassan Ghusn. I could not hide my contempt and my strong opposition to him and to his "leadership". The Minister of Labor was praising him to me, and all I could say to Ghusn was: you made the labor movement into a stagnant movement, and you have been asleep for years, especially during the Hariri years. I was most upset. He was used by Hariri and the Syrian regime to tame and domesticate the labor movement of Lebanon, and therefore help impose Hariri capitalism on the country. The Lufa in Lebanon, I was thinking under the shower today, is not what the lufa is in US. The lufa here is wiry and rough: the way a lufa is supposed to be. In the US the lufa is too soft and almost velvet-like. That is NOT what a lufa is supposed to be. And then there is this Lebanese crook. He sells "herbal products" although I am told he brings barrels of "stuff" from China and repackages them here, adding some ingredients, mostly baba ghannuj and hummus. I saw him promote his products on NBN TV: I swear, he recommends the same solution for hemorrhoids and for dandruff. If it works for the head, it must work for the anus, he calculates. Much to say but alas little time. I have not even had a chance to take pictures. I must take the Hariri portraits, Kim-il-sung style. That has to be immortalized here. Is Ahmad Fatfat, our proud Minister of Ping Pong, still chaging public opinion in the US? Is it true that he now is a household name? Is it true that Fatfat is now ranked the "best minister" in the world? Let me know. And a cabdriver today--don't you love the cabdriver stories in foreign correspondents' dispatches?--informed me that cigarettes are not really bad for you. You see, it all depends on the brand, he explained to me. He, for example, smokes three packs of Gitane per day, but his lungs--his Lebanese doctor assured him--are better than the lungs of non-smokers. He said that in fact: smoking Gitane has been good for his health, his doctor told him. It has made his blood: thick and overflowing--whatever that means. He urged me to smoke Gitane. He in fact was insistent. I promised him to consider this very healthy proposal once I return to the US. Did I not tell you that a Lebanese "invents" a cure for cancer almost every year, and An-Nahar is there to report it.