Arab · Jordan · Middle East

A glimpse of the situation in MENA

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But, sometimes you hear one sentence that sums up years or may be decades of miseries. Two days ago, an Arab (I think Lebanese) Circus director was been interviewed on TV. It seems this Circus entertainment company is new and they will start their show in Abu Dhabi soon. Here is what caught my attention:

Host: After Abu Dhabi what other Arab countries you will perform in?
Director: After Abu Dhabi we will go to Dubai then [other UAE city] then Qatar. After that we will go to Malaysia.
Host [persuading]: Okay. But, what other Arab countries you will go to?
Director [speaking sarcastically with a smirk]: Where else would we go?

The director’s response was spot on. It sums up the situation in the Arab world. Out of the 22 Arab countries scattered between the Middle-East and North Africa only few countries, in the Gulf, are living comfortably. The director was classy not to ask the host where you think we should go beside UAE and Qatar. He even included Malaysia although it is not an Arab country so the host can understand there are not other Arab countries to perform in. And you don’t expect to watch a circus in Saudi Arabia.

People in the Arab countries—except the GCC—live in a very poor situation. They are overwhelmed by wars, religion and/or political conflicts and poverty. People outside this region watch the escalation on TV but as they say seeing the fire is not like burning by it.

Here is how bad the situation is. People now are wishing for the time of Asad, Sadam, Mubarak and Qaddafi to come back. Yes, even insane Qadaffi people wish he is still ruling his country. Actually, people hope of any dictator but this group of savages roaming the region killing every hope left for a brighter future in this region. 

I live in a Northern city in Jordan called Irbid. It is 7,000 years old used to be called Arabella. Within only 30 km from the center of the city there are whole Greek cities (Jerash and UmmQais). Romans, Byzantines and Muslims settled in this city. If this city with all its ancient history is in a different region it would be one of the top tourist destinations in the world. In the past five months I have yet to see a single tourist. It is not just because the instability in the region but the city became so crowded you hardly see a car moving in a steady speed. 

Tourists stopped coming to Irbid not just because of the instability. Would you be happy seeing 60- or 70- something old women holding a toddler begging on the street during your vacation? Or how would you feel seeing a six-year-old Syrian or Jordanian boy selling gums at traffic lights.

In the USA, people mostly worry about how to save for their children college education and retirement. In Europe, with their magnificent social system I don’t know what their worries are. But here people fear tomorrow. When your government moves its tanks to the borders you know it is only the beginning of something so big and terrifying you wish you don’t live to see it.  

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14 thoughts on “A glimpse of the situation in MENA

  1. By the way, how do you suggest we stop ISIS? A lot of people here are ready to bomb them to smithereens, but I have my doubts that this would work for a variety of reasons. What do you think?

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    1. During a program on Fox news (when many Fox news hosts and guests hailed our king as a hero and wished he replaces their president) the host asked a Republican Senator when do you think we are going to fight them [ISIS]? In two years he said.
      I have no doubt that the next presidential campaign is going to focus mainly on fighting terrorism. And I am afraid post 9/11 war is going to come back in two years.

      If you live 6,000 miles from a war zone you don’t care much about going to war. But, if you live in a war zone you would opt for ANY other option but war. Here in Jordan we have been affected by wars and hosting refuges from Palestine, Iraq and Syria, since 1948. Of course we don’t want to go into a war. We have been forcibly affected by man already.

      The problem with ISIS is they don’t live in one place you can bomb and leave. They are individuals living among hundred of thousands of civilians. How to fight them then? I have no idea. I am sure any military tactic followed will cause losing the lives of thousands of innocent people. In America they call it collateral damage but here it is going to be a different story.

      A military action similar to what America did in Iraq and Afghanistan is of course not welcomed here because such thing will create groups similar to ISIS. Many Arabs and non-Arabs consider the USA the reason behind the existence of ISIS. Because the wars they were involved in the region.

      The situation is very complicated and I for sure don’t know how to fight ISIS. They are apparently bigger, smarter, richer and more powerful than any terrorist group we have known about. Maybe not compared to the Nazis but for sure no one on earth wants to see a WWIII, except for ISIS of course.

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      1. The radio story I heard yesterday said ISIS *wants* western powers on its borders so this call to arms is playing right into what they want. They believe Allah will fight for them and the West will lose so it’s exactly what they want us to do. Also, it’s good for their propaganda, recruiting Muslims to their cause. The West v. Islam and all that.

        I really appreciate your thoughts on this. Makes so much sense!

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      1. I did move to Irbid but no plan to be here for good. I took a break from my PhD program to stay close to my parents for sometime.

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      2. I didn’t know that you could take a break from a PhD program. That’s good that you can. It would be a shame to lose all of that work that you put into it so far. It’s good to be near family. I’m so close to my mother that I skyped with her every single day I was on vacation in Germany, and I was only there for a week.

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