Cablegate: Anti-Bush Poem Epitomizes Current Saudi Public Mood
DE RUEHRH #6520/01 2281229
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 161229Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY RIYADH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0655
INFO RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH 7579
C O N F I D E N T I A L RIYADH 006520
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/16/2016
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR SCUL SA
SUBJECT: ANTI-BUSH POEM EPITOMIZES CURRENT SAUDI PUBLIC MOOD
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Michael Gfoeller
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) BACKGROUND: Poetry runs in the blood of the Saudi
people. They have historically utilized poetry to express
public opinion over social, political, and cultural issues.
They also use poetry to curry favor with their rulers, local
and regional, as well as share their criticisms in an open
forum. Throughout the history of Saudi Arabia, there have
typically been two categories of poets: (1) al-Madih, poets
specializing in tributes and praise, and (2) al-Hija, poets
specializing in satire and critique. In light of recent
events, more poets from the al-Hija than the al-Madih
category are publishing their work, airing their grievances
about regional events. Saudi culture and custom allow poets
greater latitude and frankness than that accorded to
political commentators or critics, due to poets' greater
prestige and traditional status as spokesmen for popular
opinion and speakers of "truth" to the elite. END BACKGROUND.
2. (C) On August 13, columnist Saad Al Bawardi published a
poem entitled "Letter to Bush" in Al-Jazeerah newspaper,
which condemns the U.S. President and U.S. foreign policy
regarding Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq. Using strong
rhetoric and metaphor, he expressed the anger and frustration
currently felt by many Saudis toward the Bush administration.
Al-Jazeera journalists told Riyadh contacts that their
newspaper is receiving many angry letters voicing opposition
to the U.S., but due to space constraints, they are able to
publish very few. This poem is noteworthy as it was the
first one of its kind published in a mainstream newspaper
since the start of the Lebanon crisis.
3. (C) COMMENT: In classical Arabic poetry, there are fixed
rules for couplets and rhyme. This poem, however, is written
in a more modern style influenced by western free verse,
although it is still filled with much sophisticated rhyming
and alliteration. While the poem is not violent in tone, its
message is harsh and reflects the increasing criticism by the
Saudi people of U.S. policies in the region. Due to the
inherent constraints encountered in translating literary
verse from Arabic to English, the following translation is an
approximation of the original text. END COMMENT.
4. (U) BEGIN TRANSLATED TEXT OF POEM:
Sorry if I have exceeded my limits
And asked you for a response
Is the one who asks for a "right" a "terrorist?"
Does Palestine-- the occupied land
Have no people or freedom?
Do those who immigrated to it from Poland, Russia or America
Have the legitimate right to the land?
The legitimate right to expel the inhabitants of the land
As if they were red Indians?
Chased and driven out with malignity and fiery clusters of
From their land
Torn apart and divided
To dilute the case of having a "right?"
You promised the people of the Middle East of freedom
What freedom? And for Whom?
Freedom of the herdsman? Or the right of the herd?
A creative freedom of chaos?
Bush, Is there a code of ethics for chaos?
Or is chaos but oppression and coffins?
Ask the Statue of Liberty in New York
If it would answer you
It would have answered in anger and wailing
(Freedom is not built by injustice and skulls
Freedom would never be justly served by a tyrant)
Weapons of mass destruction that never existed
Was your excuse for invading the land of Iraq
To destroy Iraq
You left in it thousands of corpses, pain and divisions
Bodies torn by white phosphorous
If not plagued by cancerous diseases...
Tens of deaths every day
And your soldiers around the dead smiling
And your soldiers torturing
What freedom do you speak of?
In Lebanon your stupid dummy (Israel)
Took over the matter while you are the actor
Thousands upon thousands of missiles
Thrown by Israel with the hatred of killers
Leaving no stones no trees
No people or animals
Even the roads for those who want to run for safety
Were destroyed and were not saved
From the tyranny of the occupier...nor longer
There are any roads
Those who want to flee would only die
You did not do justice to a free and democratic Lebanon
You didn't have mercy on Lebanon of the varied denomination
You left the summer wind of death blowing in Lebanon
You were the one who gave the orders
But not the one who ordered the killing to stop
What did you give since you came?
Our big world is oppressed...scared
You said big exaggerated words:
"If you are not with us you are against us"
Which terrorist should be crushed?
Is the whole world a terrorist but you?
Bush, you are not an infallible prophet?
You have money, you have influence and you have power
But you don't have the Rightness
You don't follow the Truth
Let the other live without your guardianship
We know that the UN has become American
Rice is hers
Bolton orders and he gets answered
Bush, things will not stay the same
There isn't in the dictionary of freedom
A herdsman and a herd!
END TRANSLATED TEXT.