Across the Bay

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Sharpest Tool in the Shed

Syrian Ambassador to the US Imad Mustapha is not exactly, how shall I put it, the brightest bulb in the Syrian warehouse. Watching his tortured performance on TV usually leaves me in severe pain. Reading his statements isn't any better, but it is quite comical.

In today's An-Nahar, Imad is quoted as telling the BBC that all the talk about threats against the Lebanese opposition is just cheap campaign talk. So how does Imad set out to convince people that Syria is not threatening the Lebanese opposition? Elementary. He calls them "a tool to execute an American Zionist plot against Syria." Whew... and I thought he called them treacherous agents of hostile foreign powers and potential threats to Syrian national security! But now I'm convinced that Syria is not interested in threatening them. Thanks Imad for clearing it up.

My thanks also go to Nizar Mayhoub, some director of Syrian media, who assured us that Syria is "above" threats and assassinations and car bombs. And Mayhoub (il-mahyoub [sorry, Lebanese joke]) then called these claims and behavior on the part of the Lebanese, "uncivilized" and "irresponsible" and accused some in Lebanon of exceeding the bounds of "good taste" and "ethics" and "courteous behavior." God, I love Syrian bureaucracy and its rhetoric. It's the bitchiest you'll ever see. And they have a knack for picking just the right people. Witness Buthaina Shaaban, for instance.

On a related, yet extremely marginal, note, the paper also published a typically diarrhetic piece by that anachronistic Arabist, Clovis Maksoud. Non-Arabic readers thank your stars this is only in Arabic. Although, I'm not sure if this joker still teaches at AU. Lucky you, AU! Anyway, the guy is one of those true believer Arabists from the 50s, whose whole worldview was urinated on by modern history, but he's holding his ground (and getting more ideological!). I.e., an aging hippie. And, as you all well know, there's nothing worse. But he's a friend of publisher Ghassan Tueni, and he likes to pose as an expert analyst (on what, though, is anyone's guess), so I have to suffer seeing his articles every so often. But it's not much worse than, say, seeing Patrick Seale in the Daily Star.

So anyway, the article was supposed to be about Syria and Lebanon, but ended up being more of the typical rant (neocons? check. Bolton? check. Guantanamo? check. Iraq as failed war, and US looking for a way out? check. US insincere about democracy, hiding a secret evil motive? check.). But the curious thing about it is how while addressing the Lebanese situation, he actually sounded more like the Syrians! It never fails. You simply gotta love Arabists.

To quote Eric Cartman, "Goddammit I hate hippies."