Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hizballah & Traffic

I have been avidly following up the news about the discovery of a Hizballah cell in Egypt. The issue has the Arab (and Muslim) world divided into pro-Hizballah, pro-Hamas and pro-Iran camp and then the pro-Egypt camp. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank, draws the bigger international picture of this issue and how Egypt might be trying to impact the way the US approaches Iran in a very interesting report.

Now, that's all scary and regional warsey and all, but it's entertaining too. You see, amid all of the rumbling in the Egyptian media, one cliche came to dominate. Everyone is now referring to Egypt's national security as a khat ahmar (a red line). I think we should have went with a totally different cliche and I'll tell you why. First, anyone who has ever been to the great city of elCairo knows that a. we don't have traffic lights b. when we do, they aren't working and c. if we have them and they are working, we don't really stop when it's red. That, in my opinion, takes away from the scariness of the color red. The cliche should have used black instead of red. After so many years of being waved to the curb by bodyguards of government officials whooshing by in black convoys, we fear black. There's always that urban legend of this one dude, who dared to get close by to The Black Convoy and was riddled with bullets. You don't want to be that guy, do you?

Second, what's with the 'line'? We don't like lines in elCairo. No one stays in their lane, no one queues and no one stops before the pedestrian crossing, you have to stop halfway thru it; that's how you show the pathetic pedestrians who's boss. But if we stay with the traffic metaphor for a second here, the cliche should have used the most notorious creature on the road: a microbus. We all fear the microbus and they know that we fear them, so it's their game, really. We know that you never cross a microbus, but a 'line'? bah.

So yeah, if tomorrow an official government statement said: Egypt's national security is a black microbus, a crazy, black microbus. I'd shit my pants. Seriously.