Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Parable of Middle East History: The Well-Intentioned Arab and the Malicious Genie

By Barry Rubin
One day in 1952, a young Arab intellectual was walking along the shore of the Nile when he spotted something glinting in the sun. He picked it up and saw that it was a small brass lamp. Thinking that he might have found an attractive antique he took it home and brushed off the sand with the sleeve of his jacket.

Suddenly, there was a bright flash that knocked him over. When he stood up and regained his senses he saw a large genie glaring at him. “I am the genie of the lamp,” it said, “and you are granted three wishes. Choose them wisely. But remember that you only get one wish every 59 years.”

The intellectual was a good man albeit—in the way of most intellectuals—a naïve and bumbling one.  He wanted the best for his people and was fed up with the corrupt and stagnant monarchy.

Quickly he said, “I would like my country and the Arab people to have a different kind of government, a government that brings them together and makes them proud of their nation.”

“Done!” said the genie. And there was another bright flash.

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