As’ad Abu Khalil on the perversions brought by Arab oil.
What has oil madness brought to the Arab person? What can we say about the accumulated billions that have gone to support the Western banks and corporations hostile to our interests, or to buy arms for America to use to support those servile regimes, or for the sake of subjugating those who raise their voices against Israel. Is there anyone among us who will yearn for Arab oil and its political actions, if the oil runs out?
If Arab oil runs out, there would be a great deal of change in our Arab world. If the oil runs out, there wouldn’t be clusters of men flocking to the Janadriya Festival screaming of manhood saying good things about a king who finds it hard to speak correct Arabic. If Arab oil runs out, there wouldn’t be the Arab national missionary, Ma’n Bashur, to endure the hardship of travel in order to take part in the glorification of a government whose job is to fight nationalism and to strengthen regionalism and the Bedouins and tribalism and factions. If the oil runs out, no one would come to the Janadriya Festival, except for Abdullah and his sons – unwillingly. If the oil runs out, a corps of senior religious officials in the Kingdom would become a television laughingstock and a reason for the intellectuals to show the ugliness of these people and a target of real enlightenment – not the false enlightenment of the entourage of this or that Emir.
If Arab oil runs out, the sermons of the mosques of the Shi’a and Sunni would join together equally to condemn the doctrine of primness and fanaticism and hostility towards the Saudi women with abundant money. If the oil runs out, the dark extremists could never speak in the name of Islam, and repress the dream and tolerance and the true brotherhood of man. If it ran out, their historical splendor and luster would be returned to Mecca and Medina and debate and discussion would return to them. Poetry and prose in all their forms would return to the season of the Haj as it was before the rise of Mohammed Bin Abd-al-Wahab. If oil runs out, religious scholars would speak the truth and would condemn doctrines of fanaticism supported with oil money. If Arab oil runs out, we wouldn’t be talking about the Saudi age – the first and the second – and the imperialistic policies of the West wouldn’t depend on the Saudi regime. There would be a great change in the Arab world, and the media would stop calling the Saudi king by the title “Servant of the two Holy Places.” Servant of the two Holy Places? And who gave him the right? And how does he serve the two Holy Places? And what about his service for American and Israeli interests? Doesn’t that deserve a special title too? If the oil runs out, they would call the Saudi king the servant of dates and perfume – no more – that is if the monarchy continued which wouldn’t survive without the benefits of oil. If Arab oil runs out, Saudi women would drive cars and buses and vehicles, uncovered or with hijab or veiled, if they wanted. If oil ran out, Saudi women would leave their marital jails for the open society and freedom.
If Arab oil runs out, our contemporary history wouldn’t be as it is now. If oil ran out earlier, the Egyptian army wouldn’t have been immersed and exhausted in the destructive Yemen war. If oil had run out earlier, the sheikhdoms and emirates and sultanates and kingdoms drawn by imperial pens would be republics. If the oil had run out, the Palestinian revolution, with all its organizations, wouldn’t have been corrupted with oil money, and Yasir Arafat and Abu al-Said wouldn’t have been able to impose the logic of backward Gulf Arab regimes on the national Palestinian movement in accordance with the vision of successive American administrations. If Arab oil had run out, Arab revolutionaries in the 1960s would have ignited the Arab region, and would’ve made the earth tremble under the feet of the freedom fighters – not opportunists. If the oil had run out, the revolution of Thafar would have triumphed and established a less oppressive government than the government of Kaboos or his father who rule with power from God (and with such odd behavior, as Fred Halliday wrote about in his valuable book “Arabia Without Sultans”). If the oil had run out, the Marxist regime in South Yemen would have flourished and spread out over the Arabian Peninsula and spread ideas of progress and freedom.
If Arab oil runs out today or tomorrow, a lot will change in our Arab world and hypocrisy will be shown for what it is. If the oil runs out, Shakir al-Nablusi would stop praising the poetry of Khalid al-Faisal and Jihad Fadil would stop praising the poetry of Abd-al Aziz al-Khooja and Samir A’ta allah would stop praising the Emir Muqrin Bin Abd-al Aziz and Jihad al-Khazin would stop praising every Arab emir who passes through London or New York. If the oil had run out, Om Kalthoum wouldn’t have sung for Abdullah Faisal, and others wouldn’t have sung the poetry of Manea’ Said al-A’tiba. If oil runs out, the Arab world wouldn’t allow Walid Bin Talal – investor of the News Corps company which owns the Fox News network specializing in hatred of the Arabs and Islam – to decide for us taste in art and music. If oil runs out, our media’s dehumanization of women in a very humiliating and vulgar way and Wahhabi fanaticism would fade away. If Arab oil runs out, Arab media would be exposed and the financing of the Video Clip (the cheap and silly Video Clip) would stop. If oil runs out, who knows? Samir A’tallah would write the memoir of the sins of the Saud family and their scandals. If Arab oil runs out, Arab liberalism will come out. If the oil runs out, the Arab liberals would come out screaming angrily calling for the fall of all the Gulf governments. If oil runs out, the liberals would say that the biggest obstacle facing the freedom of the individual is the continuation of the oppressive oil regimes, especially in Saudi Arabia. If the oil runs out, they would speak their minds frankly, and the Arab newspapers would be full of the news of sons of Sultan Bin Abd-al-Aziz and their bribes which fills the Western media. If the oil runs out, the Lebanese writers would speak their minds frankly in the lectures of Khalid Bin Sultan in the military academies – the one who everyone made fun of who dealt with him in the First Gulf War and who hired Patrick Seale to write his biography as he wrote the non-critical biography of Hafiz al-Asad. If the oil runs out, the Arab liberals would write volumes about the methods of torture used by Emir Nayf bin Abd-al-Aziz and people would write about the shameless “wild nights” of King Fahd. If the oil runs out, the appeasement coming from the pens of Lebanese media would disappear. If the oil runs out, would Ibrahim al-A’ris have said that the initiative of Abdullah Bin Abd-al-Aziz in a dialogue with Shimon Peres that it was the greatest initiative in human history? If the oil runs out, would anyone agree with “the initiative of Emir Abdullah” which he received from the Zionist Thomas Friedman? A Zionist composing an initiative for the Arabs, and then it is adopted by an Arab king and imposed on all Arab regimes! If the oil runs out, the Arab media collectively will call for the necessity to remove all regimes from the remnants of Western colonialism with characteristics from the Middle Ages. If Arab oil runs out, the Wahhabi liberals would discover that the oppression in the governments is a characteristic of all Arab regimes, not only Libya, Sudan, and Syria – that is, the opponents of the Saudis. If the oil runs out, Hazim Sayyigh would have been perplexed and looked finally to the Wahhabi way of democracy saying that “Free elections are not necessary if they produce enemies to Israel and al-Saud.” If the oil runs out, the Wahhabi liberals and the writers who appease the regimes would have noticed that the stoning of the lovers and the beheading of people do not agree with individual liberties and human rights. If Arab oil runs out, the real Saudi gifts in music and dance – other than the male arda dance – and cinema and theatre will appear. If the oil runs out, fun would appear in Saudi Arabia and Ra’s al-Khaima and Oman and decoration would fill A’jman and al-Fajira.
If the oil runs out, all the Western policies would change and forums and hearings in Congress would be held to look into the miserable human rights situation in the kingdom. If the oil runs out, Western banks would be empty of Arab fortunes which finance some of the economies which continue to support Israel with weapons to kill our women and children and old people. If the oil runs out, Bush and Chirac would have never danced with the oil sheikhs. If the oil runs out, no poetry would have been written to praise the dates and the extreme heat and no plans would’ve been made to take over the sand dunes in the Peninsula. If Arab oil runs out, the Security Council would hold a special session to look into the nature of the unjust and oppressive Saudi regime and the International Criminal Court would have dragged the kings of al-Saud to the court with the accusation of oppressing men, women and children. If the oil runs out, the human rights organizations would have looked into the issue of slavery of men and women in the palaces of al-Saud and al-Shakhboot. If the oil had run out, we wouldn’t have seen businessmen, intellectuals and journalists from East and West lining up to be blessed by the oil princes. If Arab oil had run out, Wahhabism would have turned into a small fanatical group on the margins of their religion, of every religion. If oil had run out, al-ijtihad would have developed (which the Sunnis never closed the doors to, as Wail Halak proved in his serious historical studies) and the life of the believers would have been easier. If the oil had run out, we wouldn’t have seen the pictures of vulgar spending of the Gulf Emirs in the magazines and the demand for gold painting would go away. If Arab oil had run out, the Kadafi foundation would have never been able to advertise itself and the Green Book would have been only a magnet for dust. If Arab oil had run out, no one would have praised the wisdom of the King of Saudi Arabia, and his highness would never have received awards from these hypocrites from the East and West. If Arab oil had run out, the power of the Saudis and Shakhboot would be equal to the power of the government of Djibouti or less. If the oil had run out, none of the Western officials would have stopped in Riyadh during their shuttle trips. If the oil had run out, all the international foundations and forums would never have accepted the membership of Saudi Arabia because of horrible violations of human rights and the pictures of the princes of al-Saud would have appeared on the Most Wanted list – if the oil had run out.
If Arab oil runs out, Arab women would breathe freedom and they would get rid of religious edicts of oppression, injustice and mistreatment. They would walk without fear and the religious police wouldn’t dare to harass them in the streets and squares. If the oil runs out, love and flirting wouldn’t be considered forbidden and lovers would never be stoned. If the oil runs out, a woman would walk hand in hand with a man, not behind him with her head down. If the oil runs out, a woman would be allowed to travel freely without permission from a man, no matter what his relation to her. The seeds of unrest are financed by oil money. If the oil runs out, Lebanese men and women would not go to the oil countries to compete in humiliating appeasement. If the oil runs out, all these books praising desert poetry wouldn’t be published and the officials in the Arab countries wouldn’t have run to the airport every time an Emir from Saudi Arabia goes to their country, no matter how young he is. If the oil had run out, the Emir Sultan bin Fahd wouldn’t have managed one sports club and “Azouz”, the spiritual guide to Sa’d Hariri wouldn’t have occupied any government position, this guy who suffered hallucinations and was madly in love with the American actress Jasmine Blyth as she mockingly relates.
If the oil had run out, Eastern and Western businessmen wouldn’t have praised the wisdom of Rashid and Zayid’s sons. If the oil runs out, nobody would go after awards named after the oil sheikhs who have no connection whatsoever with knowledge or science.
If Arab oil had run out, the Arab system would have built a new foundation and the elections, no matter how small in our world, would not be affected to this extent by oil money. If Arab oil had run out, Mohammad Dahlan would never have found business opportunities in the Emirates and Montenegro. If the oil had run out, the Arab League would not be prisoner to the whims of the black oil sheikhs and kings. If the oil had run out, the US wouldn’t have been able to spend such a huge amount against Communism and the enlightenment there in the 1970s and 80s and the Emir Turki would have been unable to establish an international army of fundamentalist and fanatics. If the oil had run out, al-Azhar would have been an expression of diversity and tolerance in religion, not fanaticism and quackery to be willing held hostage by the government, and the sheikh of al-Azhar wouldn’t have honored Shimon Peres. If the oil had run out, Strida Ja’ja’ wouldn’t have praised the wisdom and depth of the Emir of Kuwait, the one who dealt with invasion by Iraq with tears and screams. If Arab oil had run out, the book “Cities of Salt” would have been in the curriculum of all Arab countries and Arab students would have learned about Abd-ar-Rahman Munif. If Arab oil had run out, the case of the kidnapping and killing of Nasir Said would have become an international issue like the case of the kidnapping of Mahdi bin Baraka. If the oil had run out, the titles like sultan, king, sheikh, emir, crown prince and servant of the two holy places would have disappeared from the dictionary of addressing people.
If Arab oil had run out, OPEC would not be an instrument to serve the economic and political interests of Western colonialism and they wouldn’t have harangued us with talk about the “oil weapon” which was only an instrument in the hands of the US that used it to serve Israel. The oil weapon? That lie from the days of very loud declaration in 1973 when the Arab oil governments were selling it on the market to the US and its allies. If the oil runs out, an Arab committee of intellectuals, writers, and journalists would be formed to confront the danger of extreme Wahhabism and fanaticism.
If Arab oil had run out, secular ideas would have flourished and spread. If the oil had run out, revolutions would have come to pass and unions and leftist movements. If the oil runs out, the Asian workers would be free in the Gulf countries. If the oil runs out, gold and diamond watches would disappear from the wrists of many Lebanese journalists. If the oil runs out, Arab students’ knowledge of sciences, humanities, and arts would increase. If the oil had run out, we would have studied the books of Ibn Timia and Ibn Qim al-Jouzia as they are, without Wahhabi “refinement.” If Arab oil runs out, the Arab media would be more free and empty of the news of the princes and kings and their “genius.” If the oil runs out, the “Arab” media would disappear from London and go back to its country with its tail between its legs. If Arab oil runs out, Arab satellites would be free from the control of al-Saud which imposes either vulgarity which makes women a commodity or religious fanaticism.
If Arab oil runs out, the Arab media and intellectuals would remember the poor in our area and their news and suffering would fill the airwaves, we would have competed in offering social services and fighting poverty, and joining the World Trade Organization wouldn’t have been our aim that is more important in our priorities than freeing Palestine. If Arab oil runs out, we would re-shape the culture and politics in the Arab world and the “culture of oil” which marketed the worshipping of the white European man and commoditized women and trade in girls and boys and the social classes and the despising of the poor and the glorifying of polygamy and imposed prohibitions and restrictions on people while allow it to the ruling families and serving Western imperialism and prohibiting discussion and debate and restricting the limits in religious interpretation and education – all this would disappear. If Arab oil runs out, artistic activities would flourish all over the Arab world and a lot of the prohibited things would disappear. If Arab oil runs out, the mentality of inheritance in the governments and positions based on blood ties would become extinct. If the oil runs out, the borders and walls between many sheikhdoms and emirates would disappear.
If Arab oil runs out, what will happen to many of these nightclubs and brothels in the West which wouldn’t have continued to survive for years if it wasn’t for the Arab oil money. Wasn’t the Playboy Club in London a playground for the Arab oil sheikhs and princes to the extent that an Arab, who is Lebanese of course, who specialized in Arab royal indulgences, was appointed to oversee it? And this man was very respected and appreciated in the Arab media in the 1970s. If Arab oil runs out, human trafficking in the south of France, which is supervised by Lebanese with the skills of the Lebanese of whom their green homeland is proud, would have to declare bankruptcy.
But, if Arab oil runs out, where would Lebanese politicians go on Haj? And what about Hariri’s successors? Will they make free decisions or be committed to the orders of Sultan and Emir and the rest of them? Who will Ibn al-Faqih Ibrahim Shams al-Deen appease? Who is going to finance the leader of the southern Shi’a from al-Hazmia, Ahmed al-Asa’d? If Arab oil runs out, would the kicked out mufti of Sour, Ali al-Amin, go to give a speech on culture at the Janadariyya Festival? If Arab oil had run out, the magazine al-Huadith wouldn’t have continued after the 1970s most probably. If the oil runs out, would Tariq al-Hamid find anyone who would publish his thoughts? If the oil runs out, to whom is Fouad Abd-al-Basat al-Senora going to send his prayers like the one published in the special issue of the “History of the Arabs and the World” about the Saudi king? If the oil runs out, would Munir al-Hafi find someone to publish his hypocrisies and appeasements to the Saudi ambassador or to publish his fancy volumes about the Saudi role in Lebanon? If the oil runs out, who would appoint Yasir Abd Rabo and who will open the pulpit for him to serve US-Saudi-Israeli plans? If oil runs out, who will give the orders to the writers in the Arab newspapers around the world, especially the Lebanese? If the oil runs out, what will happen to Fouad Mattar – who started out as the mouthpiece of Nasser then turned to mouthpiece of Saddam and wrote a biography of Saddam, then he turned to active Saudi-Wahhabi mouthpiece, poor Fouad Mattar if the oil dries up.
And if Arab oil runs out, would the artists of the Arab world work very hard to entertain the sheikhs and oil princes in private parties where the media is not invited?
We have the right to dream and to picture a different Arab world. Is anyone going to regret the transformation of the Saudi Shura council that was appointed by the king to an elected council that would express the hopes of men and women in Saudi Arabia which would change its family name? Is anyone going to miss the members of the corps of high religious officials and the frightening fatwas which are against logic and knowledge? Is there anyone who will miss Sheikh Mo’s supervision of poetry festivals? On the contrary, we will find that Arab men and women will find happiness, great happiness, at what comes out of the land, like water and vegetables and fruits. The water, maybe the water would prevail instead of oil. What’s the harm of glorifying the source of “every living thing”? Arab oil, if it runs out, we will leave our houses and huts in welcome saying hallelujah and clapping. If it runs out. Ah, I wish it would! Extreme bitter plants are better for us than oil.”