The Observer

Observe: Watch (someone or something) carefully and attentively.

This is what I get when I google the word “observe”. So observers are humans gifted with this extraordinary ability of watching things carefully and attentively. Not every human can be an observer, and being an observer is not something you can decide alone. It is indeed a distinction others may or may not give you.
Watching things carefully and attentively is not the only gift an observer must have. Being able to observe and not act/react is an important aspect of the observer’s personality. There are some other characteristics which I will mention later on.

As Syria’s Assad is still fighting against Assad’s Syria, the UN decided to deploy around 300 observers to watch how things evolve in the Middle-Eastern country. These observers are supposed to stop the violence by their mere presence. And this is one important characteristic an observer may have. Observers from the South seem to be less lucky than their Northern (or Western if you wish) counterparts with this ability. Syria proved this point recently with the Arab League’s observers.

The Arab observers’ mission in Syria illustrated another aspect on how this special specie works. The fact observers work in groups doesn’t mean they observe the same thing. Makes sense I know. But observers are able to see completely opposite things at the same time and place. Makes less sense huh?! Observers being logical humans, they always have an explanation of the above as in one observer wasn’t careful enough or wasn’t attentive or… was simply not present.

But there might be another, more plausible, explanation and which would be related to the observed subject, the observer and the one who hires/pays him. An observer is most of the time loyal to his employer and is therefore ready to keep his eyes wide shut when necessary. This is indeed an important ability because it helps get the necessary compromise between the employer and the observation object for the observation process to take place.

The above paragraph means the observer must be skilled in politics. He must understand the consequences of what he will observe and more importantly what he will report. This understanding and the decisions he will make (using all the abilities I mentioned above) are of paramount importance for the success of the observation.
The paragraph also implies that the observed object has a say on the observer’s appointment. And sometimes the observer’s employer is on the same side as the observed object. It is therefore mandatory that the observer accepts these conflicts of interest.

The observer must also accept the fact that all observed objects are down South (or East if you wish). No Algerian observer was invited to watch the 2000 presidential elections in Florida. The observer’s presence is like an ISO certification some observed objects need to be allowed to remain in business. And obviously, the businesses which invented this certification have it in their genes.

As usual, many observers will party work in Algeria during the 10 May legislative elections. More than 500 observers are expected. They are from the African Union, the Arab League, and for the first time, from the European Union. This means that the Algerian leaders want an international ISO instead of the now-useless African and Arab one.

I wonder which skills and abilities these observers do have. I also wonder what they will say, are they going to agree on their final statement? Does the fact they are invited by Algeria’s president (himself!) play a role in their final statement? Is “their mere presence” a guarantee of these elections’ quality?

I don’t know about you but I think the only factual use of these observers is to use them as an indicator of our country’s good health. The day we, and the world, believe we do not need them will be the day we know things have improved.


2 thoughts on “The Observer

  1. Haha, excellent observations :-). I’d say an essential quality for observers, which is no longer required (and perhaps never was) in modern geopolitics, is that they were supposed to observe… with their eyes open! Makes the job a lot more reliable. But I’m assuming that ‘reliable’ is not what foreign observers are told to aim for (notwithstanding that they are told exactly where to look). As for the word itself, observer not only means someone who watches with attention but someone who watches and records/registers what is being seen. My favourite definition in the Oxford dictionary for ‘to observe’ and which I think befits extroardinarily well political observers generally is “to perform or take part in (a rite or ceremony)” ;-). So, just a show.

    And we know there’s no business like show business…

    • Hey NG long time no see!
      I should’ve known better, Google cannot compete with the Oxford dictionary. I 100% agree, a show is what it is.

      PS: My (excellent) observations (thanks!) might convince somebody to hire me…

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