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ONE of the expressive stories that I read was about a ship heading to Basra and carrying mules. The person in charge of feeding the mules was contacted by the means of a tuba. When he heard its sound, he started spreading fodder for the mules, and the mules knew that food would reach them after the sound of the tuba.
The ship was delayed on the way. Because the fodder was limited as it was calculated for the duration of the journey, this delay led to a scarcity in the fodder. Hence, the feeding of the mules was reduced to once a day. At that time, the mules began to get hungry. Their hooves pounded the ship’s deck, and their agitation and braying increased. One of the wise officials on board suggested sounding the tuba when the mules get agitated, so that they thought that the food was about to arrive, and they calmed down. After the success of this plan with mules, many governments in Third World countries began to use this trick on their people.
When people from a country suffer from poor services, corruption becomes widespread, and public money is plundered abundantly. When nepotism becomes a norm in state institutions, high rates of inflation and wages are not sufficient, the housing crisis widens, and borrowing prevails among people to obtain their daily requirements. At that time, the people begin to get angry and frenzied, and they scream. Orders to blow the tuba are then issued, and promises are made through high-profile speeches full of enthusiasm and veiled threats.
In addition, any deviation from obedience to the ruler is considered as a conspiracy against the homeland. The programs of governments are based on the promise that the crisis is transient and the future will be prosperous, and that confrontation with those lurking in the homeland requires vigilance and not being drawn into chaos.
This is the case currently with the Iranian people who have reached a stage of despair from the sound of tubas coated with religious slogans. It is as if hunger, deprivation, and poverty were among the means to thwart the plot, while officials enjoy the looted money needed to confront the scheme that targets the country. The situation is similar with the Lebanese people today, as well as the Iraqis, and other people who have been afflicted by regimes that are unable to get out of the bottle of personal interests of their officials, their inability to solve the simplest crises, and their failure to meet the requirements of their peoples.
That is why these people and others in the Arab region hear from time to time the sound of tubas with resounding speeches and vain promises from politicians who are prone to hypocrisy and deceit. This anesthesia, called empty promises, has proven successful in many countries that have become addicted to political deceit. That is why if the tuba of promises goes silent, people get agitated, not because of their inability to obtain their rights, but to seek further anesthesia. It is true that the mules reached the Ottoman army in Basra at that time, but they were weak. As for the people who relied on anesthesia for a period of time, some of them revolted, as is the case in Iran, where the current uprising has lasted for more than a hundred days, and it continues to flare up.
Unfortunately, people are still swaying from the sympathy of officials in order to obtain some crumbs on the basis that one meal is better than nothing, as is the case of the Lebanese and Iraqi people. On the other hand, there are countries where the political class imagines that people are a group of tribes, people and sects that are easy to control by controlling some of their representatives and by pitting them against each other, but they are wrong. This is because the vengeance of the people is like a torrent. If it bursts forth, it swipes everything in its path, as hunger, need and pain unite people. Therefore, it must secure what is required today in order not to lose what it has tomorrow. The sound of the anesthetic tuba, no matter how loud it is, will not heal the people’s anger.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times