ARAB folklore is full of stories with several connotations, especially in the world of politics and governance. One among them is the story of the lead sheep. This story is cited as an indication of the weakness of a rule or its link to a foreign party that commands it and implements its agenda.
A lead sheep is the leader of a flock, and a shepherd usually depends on it for guiding the rest of the flock. It is a ram behind which the rest of the flock walks. At birth, it gets separated from its mother and is breastfed by a female donkey. When it grows up, it is castrated. Neither its wool gets sheared nor its horns slashed, so it looks huge, and a bell is hung around its neck.
However, the dreadful prestige of this sheep means nothing unless the donkey walks in front of it, and it never passes it.
Although sheep are usually afraid of dogs, a close relationship is established between the lead sheep and the dog for preserving the security of the herd.
In the Arab world, there are several countries that fell victim to this type of ruler. In Yemen during the days of the monarchy, the rule of Ahmed Hamid Al-Deen was linked to Britain, and all instructions coming from British embassy in Sana’a were carried out. He therefore did not pay attention to his people and their development, but rather bet all the capabilities of the country on the British.
In Iraq after the July 1958 coup, the Russians appointed Abdul-Karim Qassem to be the inspiring revolutionary leader, carrying out everything that was asked of him. When his role ended, or rather when a Russian-American-British settlement took place, he was removed and another lead sheep came after him, until the matter settled on the Baathist-American lead sheep, Saddam Hussein, in the mid-1970s.
In Iraq, the matter did not end with Saddam. After the American occupation and the emergence of the Iranian role, sectarian militias appeared, which announced from the beginning that they were the lead sheep for the Iranians, something that they never concealed.
In fact, their lead sheep leaders boast to this day of their affiliation with Tehran, just as is the case with the Hezbollah in Lebanon and its lead sheep, Hassan Nasrallah, who declares his loyalty to the Mullahs regime, is proud of obtaining money, weapons and food from it, and is literally implementing its agenda.
If the story of the lead sheep started in Yemen symbolically to signify the rule of Imam Ahmed Hamid Al-Deen, today it is clearly present in the Houthi group, which is implementing the Iranian scheme precisely in order to undermine Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arabian Gulf states.
These rulers or leaders of groups who control several Arab countries are the ones who have caused tragedies and disasters throughout the past eight decades for all Arabs, starting with Libya, which was ruled by the lead sheep Muammar Gaddafi with an iron fist for more than four decades even though he squandered its wealth on his personal whims, while leaving his people to suffer miserably.
In Algeria, which is the richest country in North Africa in Arab oil, its people are experiencing one of the longest life crises that have been going on for six decades. Also in Sudan, which is the food basket of the Arab world, Jaafar Al-Numeiri and Ibrahim Abboud, with his coup, made it survive with handouts on subsistence and international aid.
In all of these countries there are revolutionaries who created false prestige and led their people like a herd of sheep. That is why the Arabs at this stage have reached devastation and can only get out of that tunnel by getting rid of all kinds of lead sheep. Otherwise, the Lebanese scene will remain the most expressive of an Arab world that is sleeping on doctrinal strife, and wakes up to the excitement of racism, or under the threat of a civil war at every moment. The Arab countries will continue to thrive on failure, illiteracy and ignorance.
Finally, we pray to the Almighty to keep our Gulf countries away from the rule of lead sheep so that we do not face any bitter bloody experience.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times