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  • prequel

    "Top blog/Renato Obeid's World/Today's pick: This rambling weblog is worth reading not so much for its satirical posts but more for its insight into the minutiae of life in Lebanon, including the etiquette of road accidents and how to hire a taxi.” -Jane Perrone, The Guardian

    Thursday, September 13, 2001  
    by Renato Obeid

    - The Despondent Correspondent

    Its most infamous resident is a 44-year-old billionaire gone bad – wreaking havoc and terror and bent on world domination.
    No, not Seattle, home of Bill Gates, but The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, host country of public enemy number one – Osama bin Laden.
    Afghanistan (capital Kabul) is a rugged agrarian land of great mountain ranges, fertile green valleys and dry barren plains in Central Asia.
    Landlocked by Iran, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Zemanekstan (erratum – Stan Zemanek is an Australian state unto himself not a Central Asian state!) it is about the size of Texas and had a pre-war population of around twenty million.
    Afghans are predominantly Sunni Muslim tribes people, belonging to the Pathan tribal group (Indo-European speakers believed to be related to Indians and Iranians), although there are minority Shiite Muslims and ethnic Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks.
    In ancient times, Afghanistan (meaning, predictably, “country of the Afghans”) lay on the main caravan route between Europe and Asian - causing it to be invaded by, amongst others, Russians and Britons.
    But it was the most recent invaders, the then Soviet Union in 1979, the caused the most damage – to both Afghanistan and themselves.
    In what became known as the “Soviet Vietnam” the Soviets were eventually chased out by the rag-tag American backed and funded Mujahaden (“holy warriors”) after a costly 10-year war of attrition.
    An inevitable power vacuum and struggle ensued amongst the victors, the Pakistan backed Taliban emerging victorious in the mid 1990’s.
    The Taliban (Arabic for “students” – the Afghans are not Arabs but like all Muslims worship in Arabic) were Islamic seminarians that had lived and trained in Pakistan.
    They immediately set about enforcing their strict 7th century interpretation of Islam, giving all men a month to grow beards (a rare concession to practically by the Taliban – somehow “all men must have beards immediately!” wasn’t going to work); banned television, radio, music, art, theatre and non-Islamic literature; denying females work, education and movement without wearing burkhas (basically an all enveloping cover) and accompanied by an immediate male relative.
    Not that Afghanistan ever was a whole lot of fun.
    There never was a “Thank Allah It’s Thursday” (Friday being the Islamic Sabbath) in Kabul.
    Traditional Afghan entertainment was folk dancing, and a game called buzkhasi – which involved a dead calf being thrown into a ditch and hundreds of men on horseback trying to grab the calf and carry it to a goal area (polo, rugby and a BBQ all rolled into one!).
    Surprisingly, and this is something that has been overlooked in the boatpeople debate in Australia, THEY ALSO PLAY CRICKET.
    Refugees returning from Pakistan brought back cricket with them and it’s becoming increasingly popular – provided the male-only players are modestly dressed and stop for prayers.
    Surely our Cricketer-in-Chief John “Donald Bradman” Howard can issue special Cricket Playing Refugee Visas.
    But it’s not all (non-alcoholic) beer and skittles in Afghanistan.
    The Taliban continue to wage war against their surviving opposition – the Northern Alliance – who control some 10% of the country.
    There are unconfirmed reports that the Northern Alliance leader, Ahmad Shah Masoud, has been assassinated but this has to be taken with a grain of salt – one of the protagonists, General Adid, in another similarly tribal recent war, Somalia, was reported dead by his opponents on some twenty separate occasions before finally succumbing (“this time he’s REALLY dead, promise, swear to God and hope to die”).
    Shades of “We killed Kenny!”
    All this, coupled with famine and scorched earth ethnic cleansing of minorities and opposition, has resulted in a mass exodus.
    There are some 3 million Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan, hundreds of thousands in Europe and North America and a staggering FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTY EIGHT “queue jumping” refugees trying to get into Australia on the Tampa.
    According to all reports, Afghanistan has become “hell on earth”.
    This is confirmed by an eyewitness I made up who declined to give me “his” name in order to save me the hassle of making one up.
    The Australian government (namely the tabloids and talkback radio) are probably as outraged towards these “queue jumping” refugees as they are those unfortunate “queue jumpers” jumping of the roof off the burning World Trade Center.
    Thankfully, they’re not in charge of this rescue and relief operation.
    “America Under Attack” is indeed a tragedy and, as it’s been described, “a day that shall live in infamy”; and on television – vulture-like saturation coverage continues and a Jeff Mills soundtrack seems inevitable.
    I certainly don’t wish to make light of this tragedy.
    I myself, a la Ian Thorpe, Leyton Hewitt and every other Australian celebrity who’s been in New York this year, narrowly escaped death in the WTC bombing.
    Had I have been on the top floors of the WTC New York rather than Campbelltown (NSW, Australia) I would certainly have died.
    And regarding those emails circulating that Nostradamus predicted all this, Nostradamus also predicted that “people in the 21st Century are going to be extremely gullible and full of shit”.
    All this brings us back to Afghan resident number one, Osama bin Laden.
    The exiled Saudi born billionaire (“next on Jerry Springer – When Billionaires Go Bad”) is the prime suspect in this and other terrorist atrocities.
    Bin Laden (the 17th of 52 children – it’s always the 17th child that causes all the trouble) ran away from home and joined the disparate American trained and supplied pan-Islamic Mujahaden, staying on in Afghanistan and turning his attention to ridding the Islamic Uma (the nebulous supranational Islamic homeland) of American occupation (boomeranging on his erstwhile allies).
    The Taliban harbor and protect him (he’s even taken reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s daughter as his second wife) but, as America points the finger at bin Laden and wages war, that welcome may be wearing thin for this Caucasian gang leader (contrary to the ethnological arbitrators – talkback and the tabloids - Arabs are Caucasians).
    So, what to do?
    I don’t know.
    “All I know is that I know nothing” to quote Aristotle.
    But I do suggest that we put aside all the hysteria, hyperbole and rabble rousing and defer to those who do know – our democratically elected institutions – Alan Jones, Mike Munroe and the Daily Telegraph.

    *Since this article was penned, we can indeed confirm that Ahmad Shah Masoud is really, really dead – promise, swear to God and hope to die.
    *The Quadrangle (the building formerly known as The Pentagon, now missing one side) is two weeks into its crusade to turn Islam into Waslam in Afghanistan.
    The Taliban and non-western news agencies in Afghanistan claim that there have been hundreds of civilian deaths but his has yet to be verified by white people.

    Renato Obeid
    - The Despondent Correspondent

    All writing in this article is crap, any resemblance between this and proper reportage is unintentional and purely coincidental.

    (first published in inthemix.com.au)

    8:00 pm

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