June 19, 2003 Special Dispatch No. 524

Interview with an Arab Leader

June 19, 2003
Special Dispatch No. 524

In an article titled "Interview with an Arab Leader"which appeared in the independent Palestinian daily Al-Quds, Dr. Naji Sadeq Sharrab, a political science lecturer at Al-Azhar University in Gaza City, presented sarcastic criticism of Arab regimes and despots and their lengthy hold on power. The following are excerpts from the article: [1]

"For some time, I have dreamed of interviewing an Arab ruler, but I have been told that these days this is very difficult, because it requires an in-depth examination of [one's] resume all the way back to childhood. If there was one condition that would allow me to interview an Arab leader tomorrow, what would it be? I asked. They answered me: '[Only] if you miraculously turn into a holder of foreign citizenship, identity, and culture.'"

"Then I understood perfectly the difficulty involved, and the inability to [obtain an interview], and that the easiest way to do it is to dream [about such an interview.] Thus I purified myself, performed two series [of prayers], and prayed [that I would be able] to interview an [Arab] ruler. God answered my wish, and I met with a ruler far from the eyes of his bodyguards and the television cameras. Following is the content of the interview:"

Question: "Since when have you been in power?"

Sharrab: "That's a strange question. I am the scion of a family whose sons have been rulers since they were young. My father was a ruler, and my grandfather was a ruler, and even my mother belongs to a ruling family."

Q: "Does this mean that no one has more advantages than you?"

Sharrab: "Obviously. I draw my legitimacy from history, heritage, the leaders, and tradition. But there is no escaping the fact that there must be a people for me to rule. How can I be a ruler without a people?"

Q: "Do you [ever] intend to step down and give someone else a chance?"

Sharrab: "If I step down, who will rule the people? The result will be anarchy, violence, instability, and a political vacuum."

Q: "Aren't you afraid that the people will revolt, protest, and rebel?"

Sharrab: "What are the security apparatuses and police for? Why do we equip the army and buy weapons?"

Q: "You are accused of maintaining relations with foreigners!"

Sharrab: "This accusation most certainly comes from corrupt politicians and from the bankrupt opposition. Foreign relations are the jewel in the crown of progress, development, and political openness, and are in response to the new globalization."

Q: "How do you choose your ministers and deputies?"

Sharrab: "According to the principle of their loyalty, from among my relatives and from among those who listen but do not see."

Q: "What is your opinion of democracy?"

Sharrab: "It's an ancient Greek word that is obsolete. We have our own democracy that is based on obedience and loyalty to the ruler, and thus the people work and produce in order to support the regime, and enslave themselves so as to protect it. [Democracy] among us is characterized by lack of complexity."

Q: "What is your opinion on the role of politicians?"

Sharrab: "All they are interested in is grabbing power by warring against the ruler and being hostile to him."

Q: "How do you explain the disagreement among the Arab leaders?"

Sharrab: "It's not true [i.e. there's no disagreement]. We meet and exchange opinions over the phone, embrace each other and exchange kisses and smiles."

Q: "How do you see the future of your people?"

Sharrab: "Their future is linked to my future and to my remaining in power."

Q: "Do you support the establishment of a Palestinian state, and would you give it aid?"

Sharrab: "Obviously. As long as it is established on land that is not mine. We have given a great deal of [aid] and now it is the turn [of the Palestinians]; they should put their affairs in order and find their own sources [of livelihood]. With regard to political and moral aid, well, it exists."

Q: "What is your opinion on your opposition?"

Sharrab: "We have no opposition. There are only disagreements. But we will not let them harm the regimeā€¦"

Q: "Permit me to ask an embarrassing question. They say that you always prefer to buy your clothes abroad, even though you are known for calling for buying local products."

Sharrab: "It's true. But we export the raw materials and the role [of the manufacturers abroad] is only to weave and sew. Without us, their factories would lie idle."

Q: "Have you advice for your [fellow] rulers?"

Sharrab: "I say to you, may Allah help you against your peoples. Cling to your regimes, and do not abandon them. Remember that the regime is transient, but you remain."

[1] Al-Quds (Palestinian Authority), May 6, 2003.

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