The king is back; well the “pretender” is here – one
of them, I think there are three hopefuls.

“In Baghdad, Having A Good Heir Day”

He is the
first of the wannabe-royals to arrive in Baghdad. and
boy did he get an interesting reception, It was a mess
fit for royalty. You would have already heard that he
came in the first civilian chartered airplane, loaded
with “humanitarian aid” journalists and his bags. His
first stop was the royal cemetery where he was supposed
to make a speech and meet “his” people. He got out of
the car and immediately he had the traditional
lamb-sacrificed-under –your-feet thingy happening to
him, after that more sheep got the sacrificial
treatment along with a couple of chickens and the meat
was being distributed to the “poor”. There was a moment
when the crowd gathering to get the meat was bigger
than the crowd cheering for him. And there was of
course the brave young man who pushed his way thru and
snatched a chicken and ran off, everybody was after him
“who cares what the king is saying, follow the meat”.

Anyway in he goes and gets instantaneously mobbed by
the press, it was a scene to behold. I now have a clear
understanding of what a “cluster fuck” looks like.
It was hot. The mausoleum is tiny and has no windows
and you had those hordes of journalists-gone-mad all
wanting to have that special picture. You can see the
guy (sorry the Sharrif Ali) muttering: “what the hell
am I doing here?” under his breath. Somehow Al-Arabiya
got into the burial chamber with him and got a quickie
interview right there to the annoyance of the
photographers. And then the Arabiya reporter ran out of
the room shouting “where is my camera man? Where is my
camera man?”. Oooh it was hilarious.
Sharrif Ali was supposed to make a speech to the
gathered honorables, sheikhs and instant-royalty types
who were seated in the garden. The funny thing is that
non of them saw him when he came out and stood on the
podium. Cameras and reporters had him encircled. I had
two people asking me if I could point him out for them.

He was sweating, it was so hot and they had him right
there under the scorching sun, he had this smile pasted
on his face and a tiny battery operated fan directed at
his neck and held by one of his people. Have you ever
tried to look dignified while you are wearing a dark
suit and under a scorching sun? it doesn’t work, the
moment that little bead of sweat start running down the
arch of your nose I will start laughing.

After a couple of verses from the Quran and some shouts
of welcome, we get to the speech. I was waiting for the
moment he opens his mouth and look at people’s faces
when they realize that he speaks pretty lousy Arabic.
He has this cute accent foreigners have when they speak
Arabic. OK not that bad, but he sounds strange, his
Arabic sounds forced.
Very uninteresting speech, he even goes so low as to
fish for cheers in the most obvious ways: better wages,
no gasoline lines bla bla bla. The good thing is that
he didn’t get the applause he was hoping for.
Next stop: press conference in a HUGE mansion by the
river. More media mobs, more nonsense. There is no
flame there to inspire a mouse.

We left the press conference 15 minutes after it
started. Right outside the hall where the media was
trying to get anything out of the Sharrif ali we saw a
huge man shouting at one of his “royal highness’”
aides. This is what he was saying:
“look you asked me to drive you people around and I
said OK, they promised me lunch so why are they now not
letting me in?” he was talking about the banquet that
they were preparing. It was a fun day, it really
was.
How these guys who were not even capable of organizing
a press conference will manage to run a country is
anyone’s guess. And I can already see how people will
react to the people who will want to be called princes
and princesses.

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