Monday, February 28, 2011

And the (Arab) Oscars go to ...

By Pepe Escobar

Hi, this is not the gorgeously delightful Anne Hathaway, but please allow me to be your Oscar presenter today. As we all know, navel-gazing Hollywood is not exactly fond of the Arab world - except in Orientalist terms.

If only real life was a movie scripted by Aaron Sorkin, directed by David Fincher, with leading starring roles for Colin Firth and Jeff "The Dude" Bridges (and not Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi) - and with an uplifting ending. We wish. Anyway, in the (real) Arab world, this is what Oscar night - somewhere over the rainbow - would probably be like.

Best movie: Social Networks Smash Kings' Speeches - a MENA (Middle East/Northern Africa) production.

Best solo performance by a leading actor: The African King of King's Speech telling of an al-Qaeda conspiracy carried out by "rats" on hallucinogenic-laced milk and Nescafe.

Best Norma Desmond moment: Hosni "I'm ready for my close-up" Mubarak.

Best James Cagney "Look Ma, top of the world!" moment: Muammar Gaddafi's last stand.

Best Julie Andrews "The hills are alive with the sound of music" moment: King "Playstation" Abdullah of Jordan, for whom all's swell in his playground.

Best "Jaws" moment: King Hamad al-Khalifa of Bahrain, ordering his mercenaries to shoot unarmed civilians.

Best male disappearing act: Omar "Sheikh al-Torture" Suleiman, United States-anointed conductor of an "orderly transition" in Egypt.

Best female disappearing act since Alfred Hitchcock's Pycho: Galyna Kolotnytska, Gaddafi's favorite "voluptuous" Ukrainian nurse, who saw the way the desert wind was blowing and caught a flight to Kiev.

Best creepy sound editing and sound engineering: ex aequo between Bahrain's South Asian/Jordanian mercenary forces killing protesters at the Lulu/Pearl roundabout and Gaddafi's black Africans mercenaries killing protesters in Benghazi.

Best costumes: the liberated Eastern Libya crowd.

Best music: the Egyptian revolution official rap song, by Ramy Donjewan (in Arabic). Close second: Hip Hop song for Egyptian revolution, by Syrian-American rapper Omar Offendum and others (in English)

Best nonsensical plot advance: a perplexed "West" asking for "moderation" from North Africa/Middle East regimes built over the total lack of moderation.

Best line: Tunisian scholar Sarhan Dhouib; "These revolts are an answer to [former US president George W] Bush's intent of democratizing the Arab world with violence."

Best producer: the House of Saud. Over the years, produced Wahhabism, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, the Taliban and 15 of the 19 box-cutter wielding 9/11 actors. May be brought down by an emerging production house - Facebook-savvy "Burning Down the House" (of Saud). Runner-up: Washington Inc; from producer of tyranny and torture, via neo-liberalism and waterboarding, to promoter of made-in-USA Google/Facebook/Twitter "change we can believe in" in the Arab world.

Best TV show: al-Jazeera broadcasting to the whole Arab world the February 18 US veto in the UN Security Council of a resolution condemning illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine (World: 14 votes; US: one vote).

Best Egypt is not Iran performance: Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi returning from exile in Qatar and addressing 1 million people at Tahrir Square in Cairo to say - to Christians and Muslims alike - he is not Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Runner-up: Libya like Iran in 1979, as in only two possible outcomes: restoration (of the Gaddafi regime) or total revolution.

Best tear jerker: assorted Zionists, neo-cons and Zio-cons freaking out with the potential emergence of a new, independent, sovereign Middle East.

Best comeback since the collapse of the Ottoman empire in 1922: the Arab world. Up to World War II, miserable life under the colonial boot of France and Britain. Then, since 1956, basically an immense US satrapy, dominated by brutal and corrupt client dictators/monarchs propped up with weapons and "advisers" from Washington. And now, finally, a glimpse towards the road to independence.

Best disaster movie in the high seas: the Mediterranean, imperial Rome's Mare Nostrum, 500 million people spread out over 2.5 million square kilometers from Gibraltar to the Bosphorus. Just when the White House was trying to focus on the Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

Worst comeback since Freddy Kruger: humanitarian imperialism in Libya - as in possible North Atlantic Treaty Orginization intervention in an oil-rich country of only 6 million people with a gross domestic product that is roughly 70% of Egypt's (85 million people). So much oil, so few people ...

Best buddy-buddy movie: Muammar Gaddafi and Italian President Silvio Berlusconi. The African King of Kings invited his "amico" to his harem, where he learned the bunga bunga first-hand. Berlusconi later kissed the king's hands in a meeting in Sirte, probably mistaking him for the Pope.

Best international co-production: Libya holding a 7.2% share in Unicredit, Italy's largest bank, and energy giant ENI investing more than $50 billion in exploration/extraction of oil and gas in Libya.

Worst James Bond-style paranoid plot: Western "intelligence" sources warning of Somalization in Libya, as in the emergence of an alleged al-Qaeda emirate in eastern Cyrenaica.

Best sequel with a plot twist: Gaddafi's Libya as the new Saddam Hussein's Iraq. In the original plot, Iraq was isolated and already destroyed by a decade of an US-led blockade; in the remake Libya is a darling of the West after being blessed by the Bush-Blair-Berlusconi trio.

Best invisible plot twist: US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice telling the Security Council, "Those who slaughter civilians will be held personally accountable." Well, what about Israel slaughtering at least 400 children and over 900 men and women in Gaza two years ago? As for referring Gaddafi to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged crimes against humanity, the US itself is not a member of the ICC because it fears US politicians and the Pentagon will be accused of war crimes.

Best career move: Gaddafi's possible new act as techno/trance/hip hop sensation.

Best supporting actress: France's Foreign Minister Michelle Alliot-Marie, who didn't even wait for Oscar night to resign over her offer of French "savoir faire" to "resolve security situations" a few days before dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled Tunisia - and this after she holidayed in Tunisia during the protests. Worst actor: Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi. You may buy a diploma from the London School of Economics, but that doesn't mean you cease to be a thug.

Worst actress: socialite Queen "YouTube" Rania of Jordan. As clueless about the real world as Paris Hilton.

Best screenplay: to live and die and live again in Tahrir Square.

Best ensemble Cast: runners-up range from the extraordinary collective spirit, creativity and unity of purpose displayed by people from Tahrir Square to the Pearl/Lulu roundabout in Bahrain. But the Oscar has to go to the mother of the Great 2011 Arab revolt, Tunisia.

Popular pressure forced prime minister and Ben Ali crony Muhammad al-Ghannushi to resign. They know change goes way beyond deposing the dictator. Unlike Egypt, they are cutting the army no slack. And every day their chants in solidarity with Palestine are more forceful. Go, Tunisia, go.

And yes, somewhere over the rainbow (Arab) dreams come true. May the force be with you.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at