Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Ricciardone the Mischief-Maker

Francis J. Ricciardone, America’s ambassador to Egypt, is probably one of the most capable Arabists ever to walk the haunted halls of Foggy Bottom. His latest stunt was visiting the shrine of Al-Seyyid Al-Badawi in Tanta during that saint’s Sufi-inspired mawlid, or birthday celebration. The Sufis are a very important line of defense against the Jihadists; the latter hate the former almost as much as they hate the Shias. I read about this visit on the jihadi websites...they were going hopping mad.

Let’s hope that Ricciardone—fondly remembered from the Iraqi opposition days as the bureaucracy’s most adept obstructionist—had battling Al-Qaeda in mind, rather than just a day among the ‘quaint’ little people.

Ricciardone was so good at making sure that the Iraqi opposition never got anywhere (he was tasked to do this by the Clinton administration) that his ornate conspiracies were almost ‘oriental’ in flair. For a goomba from Boston’s North End, Ricciardone can certainly think ‘Middle Eastern.’ Let’s hope he puts his talent in the dark arts to good use against the Wahhabis and Salafists, instead of taking the usual Arabist route of working or ‘consulting’ for the Saudis.