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But These 'Bad Guys' Are Our Children

But These 'Bad Guys' Are Our Children

Monday, 25 November, 2019 - 09:00
Ghassan Charbel
Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Adel Abdul Mahdi woke up early. It is not unusual for the ruler of Iraq to have sleeping difficulties. The second half of his seventies is not the season for a long, restful sleep. He feels unfortunate. He waited to become prime minister. But his desire was fulfilled at a thorny timing. His predecessors left him with a heritage of problems enough to overthrow more than one government. As the tug of war between Washington and Tehran intensified, he became convinced that he was a prime minister on the earthquake line. The calamities of the homeland converged with those of the outside to pave the way for a disaster.

He reads again the statement of the ministry of defense on his desk. The ministry denied that it had imported gas bombs that smashed the heads of demonstrators and killed them, and blamed “third parties”. How difficult it is for the prime minister to read a statement of this kind issued by his government’s defense minister.

Abdel Mahdi cannot dispose of the fate of the young men killed by this type of tear gas. The statement itself raises embarrassing questions: who imported these deadly bombs? Who used them? And who is this “third party” that the government fears to name so as not to say to arrest?

He is really unfortunate. If the current protests were launched from Anbar or the rubble of Mosul, they could have been blamed on ISIS and the Takfiris. But they are taking place in Najaf, Karbala, Basra, and Diwaniya, in Shiite strongholds, as well as in Baghdad. Demonstrators are demanding him to root out corruption and recover looted funds. They demand him to undertake a suicide mission.

He has another concern. Protesters in Shiite cities burned pictures of Iranian symbols. They also condemned the flow of Iranian goods to compete with Iraqi products. Abdul Mahdi wonders cautiously in his office: Has Iran went too far in the management of Iraqi affairs? Is it true that he “must choose between the Sistani and Suleimani roads”, as some are whispering? What a difficult choice!

Did the post-Saddam regime grow old prematurely? He is looking for answers. He thinks about the complete split with these young people, who do not spare their lives, despite the warnings of the Authority and the threats of the “mobilization forces” and the practices of the “third party”.

He closes his eyes and says to himself: “We cannot deny that they are our children…”

In Beirut, Michel Aoun woke up early. He almost feels unlucky. He desperately waited for the presidency for a long time but reached it only in thorny times. It required expensive alliances and costly reconciliation. He could not tame all these contradictions. When the calamities of the homeland met the blows of the American-Iranian tensions, the scent of the disaster emerged. He did not predict the storm. The behavior of some of those residing under his wing threatens to turn it into a tornado.

The president, who was thought to be the savior, is now watching the fast decline towards bankruptcy.

It is unfair to hold him alone responsible for this massive collapse, but he is the president and cannot disavow much of the responsibility. People will forget the names of many and keep in mind that the disaster came during his tenure.

Was the communication between the 80-year-old president and the boys crowded in the squares completely disconnected? It is a generation that uses another dictionary. It is not concerned with his famous expression: “Great people of Lebanon.”

They don’t stop at the battles of Souk al-Gharb. They don’t want to read the story of his exile and the circumstances of his return. It is a different generation that is obsessed with the future and does not care about the past.

It is a young, cross-sectarian storm. No one believes that it was made by Feltman or at the instigation of Jumblatt or Geagea. It is the storm against poverty, unemployment, and corruption. There is no point in calling them bad guys and saboteurs, these are ultimately our children.

In Tehran, Hassan Rouhani woke up early. Reports say that calm has returned to more than 100 cities, which have witnessed waves of protests. The storm receded. The regime is not threatened. It is smiling. These boys do not know the big difference between the Iranian regime and the regimes that fell on the beat of shouts in the squares.

He says to himself: If the spiritual leader did not allow the fall of Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Damascus, would he allow the regime to fall in Tehran? There are questions that he cannot address to the public or to the spiritual leader.

The regime is not under threat, but why, 40 years after its establishment, it needs these dead corpses to silence people whenever their anger overflows into the streets?

Did the revolution really grow old? Why do these young men read from a dictionary that does not resemble its dictionary and is almost its opposite? It is a generation that is no longer provoked by the expression, “Death to America” or the photos of Americans captured in their country’s embassy in Tehran. It is a generation that does not seem interested in this long engagement with the “Great Satan.”

The regime is not threatened, but its distancing from the new generation is deepening as if it is fleeing forward. A generation that speaks of poverty, corruption, unemployment, human rights, the environment, and freedoms… A generation that wants to engage in technological revolutions and open windows in the global village…

It is a generation of youth, who don’t recognize the red lines that their parents have been convinced of or surrendered to. Youth who read in other books and who give credibility to their smartphones, not to those who advise or threaten them. Rouhani knows that the spiritual leader is blaming the “bad guys” who rode the wave of protests. But he secretly says that these wicked are our children.

There is a new generation everywhere. Young men and women, whose smartphones and communication means have sharpened their dreams, imagination, demands, and passion.

They don’t like our books. They don’t acknowledge our fears. They don’t respect the red lines, don’t fear tyranny, and don’t accept to live in a corrupt and rotten state. But these “bad guys” are our children.

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