The Nudnik File

Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person

Friday, March 04, 2005


              The "Kifaya" Factor

There was another protest in Iraq this week.

However, this time they were not protesting the US occupation. Instead, they were protesting terrorism, the insurgency and the foreign fighters who are trying to prevent democracy from succeeding in Iraq.

A Scottish newspaper reported on this week's protest in Hilla, Iraq:

More than 2,000 people held an impromptu demonstration on front of the town’s clinic where the suicide bomber struck

They chanted “no to terrorism” and “no to Baathism and Wahhabism.”
These Iraqi protestors are expressing a sentiment widely-held in the Middle East today: "We've had enough!"

كفي (pronounced "Kifaya") is the Arabic word for "Enough."

Claude Salhani explains what she calls "The Kifaya Factor" and how the word "Kifaya" is reverberating thoughout the Middle East:

"Something is beginning to happen in Egypt," reports an Egyptian blogger who goes by the name of "Big Pharaoh," after President Hosni Mubarak asked the parliament last Saturday to amend the constitution to allow more than one candidate to run in the country's presidential elections next fall.

What is happening in Egypt is also starting in Lebanon, and will likely spread to other parts of the Middle East. It's a new phenomenon that can be summed up in a single word -- "kifaya," Arabic for "enough." Monday, Lebanon's prime minister and entire Cabinet resigned, satisfying a demand of tens of thousands of protesters.

It may sound strange to hold a presidential election with one candidate, but this has been done in the Middle East for decades. Or to amend the constitution at the behest of another country to extend a president's term, as in Lebanon.

More recently, millions of Egyptians and Lebanese have started saying "enough" to those practices. Whether in English or Arabic, the message is the same; People have had enough of the region's political and economic stagnation. There is growing frustration in the lack of participation in government. In greater numbers Middle Easterners are saying "kifaya."
Ambassador Denis Ross attributed this sentiment of "Kifaya" to a "loss of fear" this week on Fox News. As reported earlier this week by The Nudnik File, Ross said:

The most profound thing that we're seeing is the loss of fear. ... What [the people of Lebanon] saw in Iraq was people who were in a position when they were told "you vote - you die," they went and voted anyway. Fear was not going to rule out an Iraqi voice. And that was the lesson for the Lebanese: "If it could work there, it can work for us as well." ... [But] more than elections, it's the empowerment of people by being willing to go on the street and make it clear that they will no longer be intimidated - they will no longer be coerced and live by fear.
Add "Kifaya" with a "loss of fear," and what do ya get?

Assad the Younger offers to make a "partial withdrawl" from Lebanon. The Egyptian "Pharoh" agrees to allow more than one candidate to run in this year's presidential elections. The Saudi Royals actually hold their first elections ever. And this all seems to make a little more sense with a little "loss of fear" and "Kifaya."

There is only one explanation: they are scared.

Which reminds me of the last few lines of a great speech by former CIA Director James R. Wollsey:

I think we need to say to both the terrorists and the dictators and also to the autocrats who from time to time are friendly with us, that we know, we understand we are going to make you nervous.

We want you to be nervous. We want you to realize now for the fourth time in 100 years, this country is on the march and we are on the side of those whom you most fear, your own people.
Despite those who refuse to see it, the winds of change really are blowing.

The tyrrants are nervous, the oppressed have lost their fear, and the people of the Middle East are filling the streets from Baghdad to Beirut to Cairo screaming "Kifaya!"

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