Context matters?

Listening to music of Khaled Khaled Arabic rhythms embrace French words. Europe is already announcing itself. The bitter sweetness of Turkish coffee is consoling me to let go, to disentangle and move. The upcoming sun sheds light onto the seven mountains of Amman that have integrated the atmosphere of village life into the city. Flocks of sheeps walking here and there. Chickens, dogs, cats and in the morning here and there a rooster crows. On some of the roof terraces children are playing. A girl on a swing lets her white scarf dance like a butterfly in the wind.

Todays headlines in the Jordan Times report about the results of the municipal elections that were held yesterday. ´Watchdog records violations but says overall process free and fair.´Jordan is learning from its neighbors being wise in putting things more openly on the table and responding in a more mature way for instance during the Merciful Morsi demonstration last week. The police was handing out water almost as if people were going to some kind of popconcert. An interesting image disturbing the stereotype of Middle Eastern government responses that we have in the West after two years of ´Arabic Spring´. In the same demonstration a group of women was wearing an umbrella hat on top of their scarfs. These hats are famous along the Californian coast were they are used by people roller skating on the pavement. The hat being worn in the Jordanian context shows a fusion of values that mingles more conservative attitudes with modernity. It is all about context and sometimes surprisingly not when you just take things out of their context confusion arises creating a new connection.
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A decision taken in a context somewhere far away is affecting the whole context and region here. It is no surprise that the other main three headlines in the Jordan Times indicate a cascade of effects due to the mounting pressure on Syria and the region. ´Netanyahu vows fierce retaliation if Syria attacks. Pro-Assad response depends on aim of strikes. A large-scale intervention aimed at ousting President Assad would inflame the region analyst say. Over 50.000  Syrian refugees enter Iraq in two weeks.´

The modern Shakespeare would say: ´To strike or not to strike that is the question.´ People are struggling everywhere to find the answer. The headline of the Al Jazeerah blog takes a clear stance. ‘Attacking Syria is about saving face, not saving lives,’ writes Rachel Shabi. The Arab league rejects the attack against Syria while in the context of the West the war plan is being rolled out. Operation Stage Whisper. One experiences the effects of decisions taken in one context directly into the other.

I keep pounding the question who is behind al this and to my surprise a new piece of  the jig saw puzzle is revealed to me. I meet a Palestinian filmmaker who has travelled all over the Middle-East and was born in Saudi Arabia. The conversation unwinds using a mix of languages Arabic, Dutch and English. The filmmaker is so happy that he is travelling back home to Holland. He asks me if I have ever heard of Bandar Bin Sultan, in his eyes the masterbrain behind the unsettling movements within the Middle-East. Bandar has good contacts with the Bush family. Some critics call him “Bandar Bush”. Saudi-Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait are pumping lots of money into the US and of course there are favors asked in return. ´In the West this is called a conspiracy theory but actually those are the facts,´ says the filmmaker. ´Bin Sultan even went to visit Putin to announce that cooperation in the case of Syria would be advisable in view of the wintergames and possible attacks of fundamentalists. These groups fall directly under the command and control of Bin Sultan. You will see that when the ice is melting everything will become visible in the end.’ The new book  Cities of Salt  is a great source to gather more insights into the origins oil-rich monarchies of the Arabian peninsula.

While I am finding my way travelling from one context to the next one.IMG_3897 I wonder about context matters. It is useful, practical and sometimes even necessary to adapt to a certain context. On the other hand the only stable point you always take with you is your self. Mounting the stairs of the Jordanian plane I read: ‘One World.’ Traveling around as urban nomads we can bridge and gap these differences in context by reflecting and asking curious questions to make sure one context never stands on its own but becomes part of this one world we live in.

Over Esseline van de Sande

Opmerkelijke Ontmoetingen Wondrous Encounters
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