Not a dicky bird…

The Mid-East is moving steadily toward chaos. Like the Japanese earthquake tragedy, some of the nations are going through serious aftershocks, with the Egyptians taking the lead. In other cases, such as Libya, the war is a tragi-comedy. Nothing amusing about people getting killed, or the junior colonel comedy club, but the military antics of the rebels, aimlessly commuting down the desert highway, are like the ebb and flood of the tide.

One of the CNN correspondents remarked the other day that the rebels fail to appreciate the most important weapon of warfare, the spade. No entrenched positions to defend, no ground gained. Western airpower is helpless in this farce, now that government troops are dressing up as civilians and deploying in 4X4s (the infamous “technicals” of the Somalis back in Clinton’s day), and the rebels are going all out for style, winning the best dressed fighter award in the 2011 camouflage catwalk. No one knows who to bomb. And it shows.

Rebel fashion, fighting in style.

Syria continues to be a turkey shoot, heavily muted by the Assad regime. Saudi and Iran are waiting in the wings. In the first case there are murmurs, the second has been a disaster for its people for decades. This raging Mid-East battle is being fought on Twitter, on Facebook, through text messages, and on TV.

Enter the Iranian station Press TV. I decided to link it, you may want to have a quick look. For some mystical reason, it’s on cable in Portugal, and since  the country has neither a world role or a prominent Persian population, I was amazed when I zapped it a few months ago.

In the sixties I had a shortwave radio, which was my window on the world. SW is rarely seen on radios anymore, we live in an FM world. Some radios also say AM, but I reckon most folks think that’s the bit that only plays in the morning. For oppressed people the world over, whose local recourse might be a network such as Oppress TV, SW is still a godsend.

Forty years ago, all the Portuguese press was censored, and after nightfall I sometimes used to lie in bed and slowly spin the dial. Shortwave is like the African jungle, after dusk it comes alive with the noises of strange beasts. My mother explained (in soporific detail) why shortwave electromagnetic radiation bounces off the ionosphere, and why the effect is magnified during the early hours of night.

And sometimes in the darkness, a voice would emerge that I had never heard before, often just a hairline crack in the ether, a small sound that kept fading in and out, sandwiched between Radio Moscow and the Voice of America. All stations had call signs, and many of the most active broadcasters were communist countries. Enver Hoxha’s Albania was easy to find, but there were obscure African nations, even Radio Hanoi during the Vietnam war. There was also the BBC World Service, a beacon of freedom to people in totalitarian countries throughout the planet.

In Portugal guys couldn’t wear their hair long, and even in the late sixties you couldn’t buy a Beatles album in any record store. SW offered up my first taste of songs such as Revolution, or the beautifully surrealistic solo on Hendrix’s Castles Made Of Sand. Spain was the same, back in the days of Franco. I bought a second hand ’45 of Don McLean’s American Pie. The last verse, where the song turns slow again and speaks of the “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” had the Holy Ghost beeped out by the Spanish religious zealots.

Oppress TV is big on Libya, Iraq, and Yemen. Not so big on Syria. A bit close to home, that. Although Syria has a Sunni majority (to the tune of 75%), the regime is Shia, and was closely allied with Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. A quick search for Syria on the Iranian TV site gives one relevant hit, harping on the party line that recent deaths were not caused by government forces.

Some guy comments:

These people are just like the people in Tunesia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, etc. protesting against their dictatorial government, do not make it sound like these armed groups come from elsewhere.

Prompt reply:

you sound you come from somewhere else – a puppet no doubt

Oh well, make that two puppets.

The India Road QR links for smartphones: point your camera and click.

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