2013 proved to be yet another turbulent and dramatic year for the nations of the Middle East. Protesters have continued to keep the area volatile; the Syrian Civil War has continued to shed blood and uproot its citizens and it appears, reflecting back on my past years’ resolutions for the Middle East, that none of the countries accomplished what I expected them to. Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, the Egyptian feminist and Arab Spring icon who I have been keeping tabs on since I started this blog and whom I wanted to see more of in 2013 alas did not have a good year: her exile abroad in Sweden has not been easy and she keeps changing locations to avoid being found. Can peace be found?
My favorite singers will be particularly busy this December 31st, giving New Years’ Eve performances at glitzy venues throughout the region: Nancy Ajram will be in Jordan, as will Cyrine Abdel Nour; Viviane Mrad will be at Coral Beach in Beirut, Lebanon while Haifa Wehbe dazzles at White Beirut Night Club with Assi el Helani and Bassem Fghali; Elissa will be in Dubai with Majed Mohandess. Below, some of their promotional ads on social media:
New Years’ Eve is a time to be hopeful, even if the circumstances seem grim. Below, my resolutions/predictions for each MENA nation:
Egypt: Hold democratic elections and hope that a secular candidate with no attachment to the military gets voted president. Create a constitution that respects the rights of all Egyptians. Frankly discuss the Muslim Brotherhood: is labeling them a terrorist organization a good idea? Oh, and make sure Mohammed Morsi doesn’t escape from prison for the second time.
Libya: Clear up what went down at Benghazi. And come on, Libyans: I thought Gaddhafi was your biggest problem. Apparently, leadership skills are, probably because the whole country was denied the right to develop them for the past 30+ years.
Algeria: Are we going to see some political reforms this year? Kidnapping and extraditions aside, there doesn’t seem to be a lot to remark on.
Tunisia: Form a government that doesn’t collapse after a few months. Take a deep breath: you can do this. Just make sure you kick out all those Libyan-trained radicals.
Morocco: First of all, keep up the good work with combating terrorism: it’s nice to hear that a Arab country is making progress its own way. Secondly, good luck at the Club World Cup and FIFA: sports are always a good morale booster. Thirdly, what did you promise to Qatar to make them give you billions of aid dollars? Nice networking and cooperational skills!
Jordan: King Abdullah, it’s great that you helped Jordanians push their cars in the recent snowstorm. And it’s great that Jordan is a member of the Security Council now since KSA so ungraciously declined the invitation. I hope 2013 is a year of positivity and democracy.
Lebanon: Lebanese women, stop getting plastic surgery! It makes you look older, not younger! OK, OK, on a political note: stay strong, Lebanon. Do not let the war in neighboring Syria make its way to you. And please take care of those Syrian refugees.
Israel/Palestine: My wish last year was for Israel to “please, please, please” finally admit that it “should stop being a 21st-century imperialist and withdraw from Gaza,” among other things. That wish sadly went unfulfilled, and despite American Secretary of State John Kerry’s interest in a peace deal with Palestine nothing seems positive. Oy vey, you guys.
Syria: I said this last year: Bashar Al-Assad, realize that NO ONE LIKES YOU AND LEAVE. Even though I do not want the rebel factions to completely control Syria because they seem hell-bent on a strict Islamic government and have radicals in their midst, you are not the answer either. Go. NOW.
Saudi Arabia: Just give in and let women drive in 2014–without all the loopholes you’re currently making them jump through. Haven’t you seen Wadjda? If you don’t let them drive cars, they might just hop on a bicycle.
Yemen: There’s a so-called ‘war’ going on in Yemen right now and I didn’t even know it??! Oh, right, because it’s some stealth operation between the American drones and Al-Qaeda. Well, shelling a funeral tent doesn’t look too stealth for me…can this be resolved without blowing up-no pun intended-into something worse?
Oman: I want to hear more about Oman! I honestly cannot make a prediction or resolution unless I look the country up, because I don’t know what the hell is going on over there.
UAE: Dubai, I know you’re overexcited for Dubai Expo 2020. But you’ve got 6 years: take a chill pill. Oh, and while you’re at it: why not scrape all those laws that make it hard for native Emirati women to do business or hold a job? The expats shouldn’t have all the fun!
Qatar: I hereby award you the Medal for Peacemaker of the Middle East. Just don’t get too big for your britches, er, thobes: threatening Russia? America doesn’t even like to do that, and at least we’re bigger than a thumb.
Bahrain: Stop buying up all the art world. Are Bahrainian’s even allowed to make art? They’re clearly not allowed to voice their discontent, and this needs to stop: freedom of speech for all!
Kuwait: Search Kuwait in Google News and its 95% fluff pieces. What I want to know is: are things really that hunky-dory in Kuwait? Can you guys do something positive in 2014 for the world with all that oil money?
Iraq: The Iraq War is not over. Not when there are still Al-Qaeda lurking about and the US is still sending weapons to Iraqi’s aid and 2013 was the bloodiest year since 2008. I would love to see Iraq gain peace and stability in 2014, but this seems highly unlikely.
Afghanistan: Stop bashing women. I know the Bush era is long over, but your women still need saving…or should I say assistance. Hanging women naked from a tree doesn’t sound Islamic nor human…I don’t want to read that in the media again.
Iran: Rohani, you appear to be a much more willing negotiator than Ahmadinejad, so I applaud this. Keep on the right track and get rid of those damn nuclear plans. On a lighter note: I want to see Tehran street style become a thing! You ladies bring a new meaning to the word Mipsterz because you really are taking chances!
All these resolutions for 2014 sound nice, but they can all be summed up in one word: peace! Let’s see peace in the Middle East for 2014!
Happy New Year!