Where’s my Strategic predictor Ball

June 25, 2011

Every Friday, I listen to the news to find out the latest in the Arab world. I once said I wasn’t really that bothered, but I confess that my curiosity is getting the better of me. It seems that most Arabs now have to think on a Friday morning about their day. Would they be out on the streets demonstrating, would they be cowering in their homes, afraid of reprisals, or would they be part of the security that’s violently suppressing growing discontent.

Hey! What’s happening in the Middle East and North Africa? Tunisia and Egypt have already lost their longstanding leaders. In Tunisia, he’s facing trial in his absence, while the new government is seeking his extradition from Saudi Arabia. In Egypt, it’s Mubarak and his sons, detained while investigation proceeds.

But there’s more. In Libya, the survival of the Ghadafi regime is at best uncertain, as the West finally get their own back on him for all the trouble he’s caused them in the past. Their support for the rebels is increasing and Western governments are still convincing their citizens that they’re only there temporarily, and in a limited capacity.

For some Reason, to do with serious strategic significance, the West haven’t been as open in their support for the Syrian opposition, but the violent suppression, the growing refugee crisis and so much more is causing serious alarm.

And if you thought that was all, look at Yemen where the president was injured and is receiving treatment in Saudi Arabia. The opposition don’t want him back. And the monarchy in Bahrain is only in place because it’s being propped up by brother kings in the region. Those are the ones you hear about all the time, but in Jordan, Morocco, and so many other countries, there have been, or there still is, violent and nonviolent opposition to the regime.

Things people hoped for but never dared to expect are happening to citizens of the Arab world. So, all the strategic thinkers were wrong to suppose that Mubarak would remain in power for as long as he likes, because Egypt always had the support of the US and was seen as the Arab guarantor of the Middle Eastern peace arrangement. Ghadafi had already outlasted so many Western leaders, who generally left office after losing elections. He never had to worry about that. Neither did the monarchs.

It’s a brave thing to oppose a regime that’s known to brutalise its citizens. That’s why so many of the analysts were wrong, they thought it would be asking too much of them. And since so many have been proved wrong, who am I to make any predictions at this time. Yet, I suspect that the Libyan regime will probably fall eventually, because Western support will continue to increase, and these days, Libya has few allies. I gather that many observers believe the Syrian regime will just about survive, but who am I to say. If it falls, what will replace it? I think that’s the real fear now. And so long as the Arabs continue to support Bahrain’s king, he’s likely to remain in power, regardless of the will of the majority of its citizens. And the democratic West will of course complain about human rights abuses but in this case, they’ll leave the Arabs to sort out their business. How different from Libya.

The more important question is what this will mean in several years. What will happen to those countries where the regime has changed. Several decades ago, there was similar change, this time, removing monarchies in Iraq, Egypt and Libya. And the popular uprisings resulted in dictatorships that soon became oppressive and made life difficult for the West. However, the transformation of Egypt from Pro Soviet, Anti Israeli Arab champion to Pro-Western champion of Arab Israeli peace shows that a regime change does not guarantee that the new government’s strategic alliances will remain the same, given a number of years. Similarly, the results of support for Iraq in its war with Iran and Osama, who was heavily involved in the anti Soviet campaign in Afghanistan shows that support for the West may not necessarily be guaranteed, just because at some time, a country or a group received Western support to establish itself. These states change their loyalties according to rules which the West has sadly not cared to fully understand.

Is it right to support change on the inconsistent basis of whether the current leader is favoured? Or is it better to have consistent and clearly understood terms that determine who we support? Terms which include how much we know of the opposition?

Whatever happens, give a few years and 2011 will be remembered by people in the Middle East and North Africa. They will discover the extent of people power and how it plays out against state power; their government and all others. They will also know the full implications of the 2011 uprising, just give them a few years to process the events and place it in its true context.

Will the Real MR Dare Aeyaetam own Up?

June 24, 2011

It all started 3 years back, when I received a letter stating that a car with registration number Y567RPP, registered in his name, at my address, had been involved in a traffic offence. I rang the Met police in London and told them, first that I live in Lancaster, secondly, that I do not know of anyone with that name, and thirdly, that I live alone and it would have been unwise of anyone to issue me with a driver’s license as a person registered blind. The Met said I should forward the letter to them and they’d sort it. I’ve never heard from them since, but I got lots of other things such as unpaid debts, notices of renewal, etc.

And then, it came the turn of Newham Council. I tried the same attitude with them, and they said I should write a formal letter, I did. Next, it was Northampton County Court. That’s where most small claims are heard. I contacted them when I received a notification that judgment had been entered against this guy in my address. I told them the matter was ongoing. They asked if I was registered for electoral purposes as the sole occupant of that address, I said yes. They asked for how long, and I told them since 2004. They assured me the matter was now over.

But I knew it wasn’t, when Bailiffs wrote. I tried the same approach, but these people are more determined. They asked me to contact Newham Borough Council, and I did. Newham said I should contact Parking and Traffic Enforcement in Warrington, I did and even wrote them with all the information I had. I also contacted DVLA in Cardiff to tell them that if this guy ever renewed his license using my address, they should know he doesn’t live here. Did all that help?

Meanwhile, the bailiffs had written again, threatening to seize the car belonging to MR Aeyaetam (reference 12735463) at my address. This would have been such fun! My house is in one of those places, full of cars belonging to workers who don’t want to pay the excessive parking rates in town. Every time I step out of my frontdoor in the morning, I wish someone would tell the car owners that the front of my house belongs to me, even if I (and one guest) have my own private parking space at the rare. Bring on the bailiffs I say.

They actually came from Northampton, but of course, I don’t spend daylight hours waiting for a bailiff, so I wasn’t in. Pity. Every time I contacted them, they treated me as though there was a presumption of guilt, rather than the traditional presumption of innocence. I even sent them a second letter on 1 March 2011, this time, including a bill showing that telephone calls made at this address are made in my name. And after that, they showed up a second time, and again, I wasn’t available. How sad. I was looking forward to handing a car over to them, or having them prove that a visually impaired guy could commit a parking offence in London with a car registered in someone else’s name.

After they visited a second time, and sent nme another letter warning me that they’d be back, I’d had enough. I again sent them a letter with proof that this was indeed my house. I told them that their action was beginning to constitute harassment. I reminded them I had given them my email address and told them that I only read Braille and emails. I believe they got the message, because since 20 April, they haven’t written or called. Or perhaps on a third visit when I wasn’t around, they decided I was avoiding them and seized a car belonging to an innocent person.

I suppose it’s asking too much to expect an apology via email, or at the very least, an acknowledgement of my letter and the return of my telephone bills. One day, even bailiffs might learn about customer service. In these days when there’s such noise about identity fraud, I would have thought that such people might note that not everyone is a criminal.

As for you, mr Dare Aeyaetam, (or whatever your name is) I pray that you are eventually prosecuted for overspeeding in the jurisdiction of Newham Borough Council. If that happens, I hope they also prosecute you for stealing my address, but giving that neither the Met, Newham Council, Parking and Traffic Enforcement, DVLA, Northampton Court, or even our dear Equita Certificated bailiffs of Northampton have ever acknowledged my letters, perhaps you might just get away. How sad.

You would have noticed of course that I have made it a habit of opening mails addressed to you, I am really sorry. I always give all letters to sighted helpers, presuming that they belong to me. I should take note that your ghost resides at my address, but if it does, why don’t you ask it to come read the mails and sort this bother out. Perhaps it can take responsibility for your action, or is it as dishonest as you are?