Note: As the author did not obtain IRB clearance, the contents of this document are not for official publication, and should be restricted to those by whom the following White Paper was originally commissioned.
Executive Summary: “Operation Egyptian Wedge Issue — Undermining Arab Nationalism After Gamal ‘abd al-Nasr” offers a rare change to exploit preexisting regional fault lines for the benefit of protecting key U.S. interests, as well as those of regional allies.
Are you bored, and in need of entertainment (motivated by laziness and procrastination), all at the expense of your friends and loved ones? WELL. I am here to help. Here’s a quick primer on the strategy of inciting and instigating intra-Arab nationalist culinary conflict in the new, shifting terrain of social media platforms as 21st century battle-spaces.
Step 1: Type “I dislike molokhiyya.” Click “post.” Godspeed — the rest will follow.
How do I know? I tested my hypothesis on both Twitter and Facebook last night.
I woke up to so many angry WhatsApp messages — oh, so so many — about this deeply divisive and contentious issue from across the Arab world, and greater Middle East.
Nevertheless, we must persist (cf, Elizabeth Warren).
Your WhatsApp messages, well… these gems of correspondence truly warmed my heart — a stunning recognition of our global humanity connected, with the assistance of new technology.
Yes, yes — I know your mom’s molokhiyya redeems, and indeed, surpasses every other nationality’s version (even all other versions of the dish prepared by your fellow countrymen), and once receive the blessing of tasting it, I am most definitely going to change my mind forever, falling on my knees in apologetic shame.
I’ve heard that one before. A lot.
What, you might ask, exactly is this “molokhiyya” that resides at the heart of the age-old conflict between the peoples of the Middle East?
According to the notoriously reliable website Wikipedia: “Mulukhiyah or mulukhiyyah (Arabic: ملوخية) is the leaves of Corchorus olitorius, commonly known as Jew’s mallow, Nalta jute, or tossa jute. It is used as a vegetable.
It is popular in Middle East, East African and North African countries. Mulukhiyah is rather bitter, and when boiled, the resulting liquid is a thick, highly mucilaginous broth; it is often described as “slimy”, rather like cooked okra.
Mulukhiyah is generally eaten cooked, not raw, and is most frequently turned into a kind of soup or stew, typically bearing the same name as the vegetable in the local language. Traditionally, mulukhiyah is cooked with chicken or at least chicken stock for flavor and is served with white rice, accompanied with lemon or lime.”
Many a family has experienced the deep divide common to widespread embrace of the slimy, viscous dish — with cuisine conflicts adding to the tensions already far too prevalent in this chaotic and unstable region. Consumed by such far-flung national entities as Kenyans, Haitians, Turkish Cypriots, as well as certain locals in sub-Saharan Africa (primarily the Western region of the continent), the Arab world nonetheless firmly insists on hegemonic claims of ownership over molokhiyya.
A confidential informant, who provided key supplemental research for this White Paper (and whose anonymity is here protected, as per pressing security concerns), draws our attention to linkages between extremist sentiment in the Arab world — notably in connection with oppressive attitudes towards the inferior sex. Note the date cited: clear evidence that the Muslim world’s propensity for sexism and social unrest along communitarian lines spans well over a millennium.
Surely, an urgent humanitarian invasion — I mean “intervention” — is here warranted (indeed, necessitated) to resolve the divisive issue of molokhiyya as well as the escalating political tensions that echo from divergent opinions on this ritually significant form of “food.”
Scholars, historians, and Arabs themselves fiercely disagree on the origins of the famous (ly disgusting) dish; although Lebanese, Syrians, and Palestinians often lay claim to molokhiyya’s invention, scholarly consensus locates the ultimate origin point of the cuisine in Egypt. While Egyptians shall certainly embrace such a verdict as a victory for local nationalist sentiment, other scholarly opinions point towards an origin in the subcontinent, in the present-day nation of India (a verdict useful for future aims of divide-and-conquer. We shall refer to this as “Operation Egyptian Wedge Issue — Undermining Arab Nationalism After Gamal ‘abd al-Nasr”).
Expect the following reactions (and prepare accordingly), all of which serve as metrics by which to track the strategic successes of “Operation Egyptian Wedge Issue — Undermining Arab Nationalism After Gamal ‘abd al-Nasr”:
EXHIBIT A — Category 1: Generalized Angst and Ad Hominem Attacks
EXHIBIT B — Category 2: Regional Infighting and Nationalist Claims to Inventional Authenticity
EXHIBIT C — Category 3: Spin-off Proxy Conflicts about Other Cuisine
Extra points when Iranians jump into the fray. White Paper authors recommend further examination of cuisine preference as a potentially exploitable wedge issue to harness for containing growing Iranian influence in the region (vis-a-vis the Saudi Arabian coalition in particular).
Indeed, “Operation Egyptian Wedge Issue — Undermining Arab Nationalism After Gamal ‘abd al-Nasr” exhibits considerable possibilities for exploiting a divided region at a particularly vulnerable historical moment, as well as the chance to further inflame sectarian rivalry in the name of geopolitical alliance and national security through humanitarian intervention (as always — but they still believe us, haha! And even if they don’t — do you really think we should shift our policy accordingly? How naive), given such ancient social hatreds and contested rituals.
In the interests of scientific accuracy, representative sampling, and eliminating social media platform selection as a possible variable indicative of bias, I have decided to run this experiment on Instagram as well. Thus far, findings include:
This isn’t a fucking food fight, people. THIS IS WAR. Prepare accordingly.
[Don’t @ me]