Keep the Gulf Safe! For Whom?

Two camels met last week and struck a conversation as they chewed on the dried bushes that sparsely dot the desert.

“I hear a war is coming our way!” exclaimed the skinny camel as he gulped whatever he could snatch from the barren earth, “It seems the Blue-eyes want to thrash the Persians.”

“No, no, nooo!” replied the fat camel as he nibbled on the same bush, “All they want is to keep the Gulf safe. They are really doing us a big favor.”

“Safe for whom?” retorted Skinny, “For the Gulf inhabitants or for the vampires who need to continuously siphon off its oil for their glutenous consumption? Why can’t our humans protect our Gulf? Why is it unsafe? What or who elevated the situation to such a bellicose level?”

“Ah, I see,” smiled Tubby, “You are one of the ignorant masses. Well, let me explain it in simple terms. Take the example of us camels, we were once valuable as the main means of transport in the desert, but then the industrial revolution and its steam engine made us redundant. Luckily, our value didn’t plummet as we remained a delicacy on our humans’ menus, thus ensuring that we continued to be well taken care of. More so for the younger and sprightlier camels used in camel races, those have an even grander lifestyle.” Tubby glanced at Skinny to check if any of this was sinking-in and continued, “You understand now? Because we camels are valuable, humans take care of us and protect our safety! The same applies for the Gulf, it is valuable, and we need the Blue-eyes to protect it, now and forever.”

Unimpressed, Skinny looked up from his half-eaten dry bush and contemptuously asked, “What I understand from your skewed logic is that we camels have no intrinsic value; hence no free choice! You are implying that our value arises only from the utility we provide to humans; dead or alive!” he shook his head in disgust and added, “We once did have an intrinsic value. Before we were enslaved and domesticated by humans, we were called ‘Dromedaries’ and roamed the deserts as free beasts, bowing to no one, except to the occasional lion or wolf pack.” Skinny stooped to chew his dry bush, but midway jerked his head up and added, “Similarly, the Gulf was always ours to protect, albeit usually from each other. But it was our problem and any issues always sorted themselves out, aided by an occasional mutual push and shove. Not only did the Gulf’s problems remain regional and manageable, but its wealth remained in-house, even though it was distributed according to whoever had the upper hand that day. Then, a few centuries ago, old Blue-eyes, and I don’t mean Sinatra, arrived and discovered the loads of utility that could be extracted (naval and trading outposts, Iranian textile industry, smuggling Iranian gold & bullion and thence Oil). That’s when the intrinsic value of the humans of our region began to wane, and their free choices gradually eroded.”

Tubby snorted, “That is nonsense! We need to protect the Gulf to save the world from economic collapse. Without oil flowing freely on the high seas, the wheels of global civilization will rapidly grind to a halt. Not only so, but we too are in a bind. Our income depends on exporting oil and you know the saying: no-mon-no-fun!”, then, raising his voice he questioned Skinny, “Are you a commie? You don’t look like a Bactrian camel; I see only one hump. Have you been brainwashed, indoctrinated or bought and paid for?”

Insulted, Skinny shot back, “I am as Arabian as they come! My ancestors were in the camel-train business, carrying incense from ancient South Arabia to the Roman Empire, so don’t try to tarnish my integrity. What I am trying to say is; we don’t need a foreign naval coalition policing our Gulf. Especially, as this ‘coalition-of-the-willing’ will contain only one member who has a real navy; most of the rest are mere decoration or come from landlocked countries and distant tiny atolls. They have no business meddling in our affairs, which if left to us would quickly knock a sense of realism and pragmatism into our thinking process and induce us to find the middle ground acceptable to all parties. The days of Genghis Khan have long passed, or haven’t you heard?”

Exasperated, Tubby pleaded, “Don’t you see? We need Blue-eyes to protect us from the threat of destruction.”

Skinny grinned and pulled out a pack of cigarettes, “Here, let us have a smoke, one camel with another, we are probably doomed either way, but more likely if we let this trigger-happy menagerie, police our waters.”

Tubby was aghast, “You smoke? Don’t you know that camels stopped smoking long ago? This is another clue that you are not who you claim to be. You are a fifth columnist!”

Skinny lit his cigarette, drew a long puff and blew smoke in Tubby’s face, “Oh yeah? Well tell me how come you are so fat and well fed while all the other camels are thin and on the verge of starving? Do you have a stash of fresh grass hidden somewhere?”

“No, no,” blurted Tubby “I am being fattened by humans for slaughter next spring.”

Skinny smiled, “At least no one wants to eat a skinny bony camel. I advise you to go on a diet and frustrate the humans by erasing your value to them; you will live longer and be free from their interference.


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