The Arab Tyrant's Manual

Created: December 31, 2011
Updated: December 31, 2011


The Canonical "Arab Tyrant's Manual" compiled by "Iyad al-Baghdadi".

[Monday, 20 June 2011 16:33]

Source: <>

See also Robert Fisk's article "Bonfire of the dictators," The Independent, Saturday 31 December 2011 <>.

Help me compile an "Arab Tyrant's Standard Revolution Response Manual". What would be on it?" [Tag is < #ArabTyrantManual>].

  • So an Arab Tyrant would, in response to revolution: Offer money like pay increases...
  • Say: "This is not X" (where X is the country that had a revolution just before)
  • Uniformed police, followed by plainclothes thugs, followed by the army.
  • Blame Aljazeera, then attack it, then shut it down in the country.
  • Blame it on "foreign agendas."
  • Blame it on a conspiracy. The more ridiculously bigger, the better. Our country is so awsome that everyone is trying to bring us down.
  • Say "We support the youths" (while their own police force is beating the crap out of the youth)
  • Blame it on Islamists. Start small (Muslim Brotherhood) then go all the way to the big boogie man, Alqaeda.
  • Ignore events completely, realize late how serious things really are, and give a midnight speech to the nation.
  • Warn of factionalism, sectarianism, tribalism, and many other scary "isms".
  • Reshuffle the cabinet. Then reshuffle it again.
  • Get thugs out of jail, give them bludgeon type weapons, and let them loose upon the people.
  • Burn down your own police stations and blame it on the protesters.
  • Act surprised when suddenly, fire breaks out in prisons where political detainees are held.
  • Make a teary, emotional display about how much you love your country and how you spent your life serving it.
  • Insist that everything is fine.
  • When things get bad, shut down mobile networks & social media. When they get really bad, shut down the internet.
  • Claim ignorance. "I didn't know that there were these problems, and I will punish those responsible for it!"
  • Say that only a tiny percentage of the people are against me. The majority are with me. Cite the latest elections.
  • Say that "Change must take place" and promise great and amazing things if those kids would just stay at home.
  • Addition to: Promise radical change. Say that this regime that remained static for 40 years can reform in 9 months.
  • Say that you were going to retire soon anyway and had no intention of running for the next elections.
  • Say that you are planning to peacefully relinquish power at the next election, scheduled 12 years later.
  • Get yourself a shameless liar and make him Minister of Information & head of state TV.
  • Insist on following the constitution. Ignore them when they say you didn't care about the constitution before.
  • Complain on behalf of "average citizens" that normal life is being held up due to the protests.
  • Say that you ruled the country out of love and service and you have no desire for power and have no money.
  • Have a military parade. Say it's for the nation. It's actually to show them what'll come at them if they revolt.
  • Order the interior minister to kill them all. Then sack him for his heavy-handedness.
  • Say that the kids were pure of heart, but were tricked by "foreign agendas".
  • Say that the kids were tricked into protesting through X (KFC, Nescafe, drugs, sex, etc.)
  • Kill a thousand. And then say that you have no idea how they died because you haven't used force "yet".
  • Stage demonstrations in support of your rule. But don't give them flags & banners. Give them 50 bucks & an AK47.
  • Say your country doesn't need a revolution coz it already had one. Cite the year you came to power.
  • Let your thugs loose on the protesters. Say that these were unfortunate clashes between pro- and anti- demonstrators.
  • Bring in the boogie man of your grandfather's generation: Colonialism & imperialism.
  • Call your favorite brown-nose celebrity (singer, dancer, soccer player, etc.). Ask to talk on TV in your support.
  • Use religion. Call your state mufti and promise him a pay raise for the proper fatwa.
  • Hold a press conference to suck up to journalists. Then, send thugs after them to punch them and smash their cameras.
  • Say that the protests started as a pure youth movement but were ""hijacked"" by a foreign agenda.
  • Foreign agenda X (where X can be: Islamism, Zionism, Israel, Iran, USA, colonialism, imperialism...)
  • Have a charming interview with a famous journalist. Amanpour would do.
  • Say that your people are not ready for democracy. You have to pave the way to it, by acting like a complete asshole.
  • If foreign nations criticize, blast them for not understanding your culture. "In our culture, I rule. They obey."
  • Send your army into the streets. Say they are there to "protect the kids". Have them kidnap and rape the kids instead.
  • After your army steamrolls protests, swear that the army was unarmed. The protesters did it to themselves to frame you.
  • When bullet-ridden bodies, pictures, & videos are cited, explain that the kids did it to themselves, just to spite you.
  • Pull a Bundy ("four touchdowns in one game"). Brag about your wartime achievements for your country.
  • Say that you finally understand the people. "I understand you now."
  • Tell them that if they don't go back home, the bad men will come and take away all their oil.
  • Say that you "got the message" and "will act on it soon". Don't mention what "soon" means.
  • Reshuffle the cabinet one more time, just coz you're bored.
  • When things get really bad, appoint the second most hated guy in the country as your VP.
  • Bring up the economy. The kids are destroying the economy. Don't mention how the economy looked before this point.
  • Say that you have no real power anyway so you don't need to step down.
  • When in doubt, insult. "They are X". (X = Dogs, rats, mice, snakes, owls, generic small animals).
  • Say that your presence is a safety valve, and if you leave the country will explode in an orgy of sectarian killing.
  • Ask parents to keep their kids at home. Tell the kids that they shouldn't say no to their parents. It's bad manners.
  • Insist that all your beeble love you and would die for you.
  • To show just how much your people love you, hold a demonstration in your capital. Louder than a gay pride parade.
  • Explain how force is unfortunate but it's the only thing that will work in this culture. Present yourself as a strongman.
  • Remember to use delay tactics to liquidate & move decades of stolen assets.
  • If it gets out that you have X billion dollars, say that you've been saving up for the people's birthday present.
  • In your "Amanpour moment", explain how you are secular and Westernized in a land of tribal savages.
  • Tell the people that they are your children and you speak to them as a father.
  • Say that you are a great soldier who never gives up the fight. Book a suite in Jeddah, just in case.
  • Tell people that if they don't go home, the country will become the next X (X = Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc.)
  • When you've had enough of them, attack Aljazeera physically. Shut them down.
  • Approve a few suck-up silly political parties. Point to this as an example of change.
  • Shut down the stock market and the banks. Blame it on the protesters.
  • Choose a scruffy looking opposition figure who has no support among the people. Hold "talks" with him about change.
  • When it gets really bad, hire mercenaries and have them shoot at your people.
  • Cut cities' water & electricity and block the passage of food and medical supplies.
  • Blow up a Church and blame it on the Islamists. Say that your rule provides stability and protects minorities.
  • Let some crazy Islamists out of jail. Tell foreign politicians that if you allow free elections, they will come to power.
  • Call all your other tyrant buddies and ask them to provide guns & money for you. Tell them if you fall, they're next.
  • Don't allow funerals. Hold the bodies. Funerals become demonstrations.
  • Collect the bodies of the dead and injured (they will die eventually). They will always come in handy.
  • Don't allow Fridays. Big congregations are scary. Shut down mosques. Cite emergency fatwas.
  • When all foreign TVs are showing the main square protests, air something inane on your own TV. A drama. Or a comedy show.
  • Say you never intended to have your son run after you. Make sure you have a daughter.
  • Find a big, hungry foreign country with no morals and offer them preferential contracts if they give you support.
  • Dye your hair and use a lot of gel, and have a voluptuous nurse apply botox to your face. Look young.
  • Demonstrate your confidence with a casual prop of some kind. Umbrellas are good.
  • Shoot fake footage or pass fake info to news sources, and then refute it. Say this proves that all reporting by “foreign media” is false.
  • Order police to kill people. Then say you don't know how it happened and you'll form a fact-finding commission.
  • Offer amnesty for whoever turns himself in. Say that if they don't, they'll be shot dead. (If they do turn themselves in, torture them to death anyway.)
  • Give your thugs 'net connections and Facebook accounts. Have them take their thuggery online. Start with Twitter and Facebook, but don't forget to spam article comment sections.

Introduction to the Manual

Source: <> and PDF copy of oriiginal here [PDF 210 KB].

Extract dealing with the section called "A Short Study of Tyranny".

A Short Study of Tyranny

Anyone interested in liberty must spend significant time & effort studying tyranny (after all, doctors in training spend a lot of their time studying diseases). The behavior of tyrants may at times seem erratic, but it isn’t random. It follows very specific patterns, because it’s driven by primarily the same principles and towards the same aim: absolute power & control.

Only the stupidest of tyrants, however, seeks direct control. Smart & successful tyrants seek to control certain “puppet strings”, and may be very generous otherwise, in ways that may seem confusing if you don’t realize what these strings are. I have found these to be associated with no more than three drivers.

Absolute Ownership

The average citizen believes he belongs to a country, while the tyrant believes the country belongs to him. He truly believes the country to be “his”, and he will not allow anyone to challenge his absolute property rights over it.

In benign cases this may apply to the “commons” – that which is not privately owned by anyone, including open unclaimed land and natural resources. You can say that the tyrant believes in the homestead principle, but only he can do the homesteading. It’s “finders keepers”, so to speak, the tyrant being the only “keeper” to anything “found”.

In extreme cases, the tyrant reserves the right to confiscate private property. He may claim that you obtained your property by his own blessing, having granted you the privilege to build, trade, or homestead on “his” land. He may take your property claiming that you obtained it illegally in the first place. Or he may cite the “common good” that, of course, trumps your private property rights.

The tyrant’s right to own it all entails full classical property rights. Therefore he may freely do whatever he wishes with his “property” – he may rent it, sell it, develop it, or even give it away. Heck, he can mess it up if it wishes, and he’s answerable to no one on all counts.

Once secure in his absolute ownership, the tyrant may be very generous – giving grants, stipends, and pay raises – provided this is understood to be an act of generosity for which you should thank him, rather than a responsibility which you should demand of him. Try asking the tyrant for aid and he may show tremendous graciousness. Try demanding the same as being your right and you may end up in jail.

Where would a tyrant be without loyal & willing slaves? The perfect slave here may be well-off – even wealthy – but he attributes his livelihood neither to God nor to his own initiative, but to the graciousness of his master, who allowed him to build, trade, or farm on “his” land/ In this way, everything the slave owns becomes a confirmation of the tyrant’s lordship over him.

Absolute Lawmaking Powers

Owning everything is just the start. It cannot bring absolute power if the tyrant has to play by the same rules as everyone else. The tyrant’s “golden rule” reads. “He who makes all the rules, ends up with all the gold.” Hence the tyrant’s demand for an absolute right to make the rules, with no regards to any reference or higher power except his own expediency and interests.

This may be achieved in one of two ways. The “liberal” tyrant will establish a parliament or “legislative branch”, which would be constitutionally responsible for making the rules. Of course, he will make sure that it is neither independent nor influential, and exists merely to lend a semblance of legitimacy to his whims & wishes.

The “traditionalist” tyrant will look towards the people’s classical reference for law & legislation, typically religion, and will seek to use it to his advantage. Hence the love-hate relationship between religion and tyranny – the tyrant will either fight it as an enemy that threatens his absolute right to make the rules, or will use it as a powerful ally in making rules tailor-made for him.

Religion or not, the tyrant will never accept any limitation on his absolute power to regulate and legislate, and interpret the law. He may well allow a “political process” and “civil institutions”; ora religious hierarchy – he will even bow his head in mock deference to these establishments, or pay lip service to them, so long they know who’s boss.

The smarter (or more insecure) tyrant won’t stop there, but will take it up a notch, defining not just rules but also values. Here too, he demands a monopoly, accepting no competition; hence his intolerance for intellectuals, philosophers, and moral teachers, and his exasperation with modern tools that threaten his control over communication with the public, such as social media.

Perfect slaves follow the rules set by the master, no matter what these rules may be. Be out of fear or conviction, the slave knows his place – it’s not to make or even suggest rules, but only to help the master follow through and implement these rules regardless of their intent. “Master knows best.”

Absolute Legitimacy

You’d think the tyrant would be satisfied owning everything and making all the rules, but all of that is at risk if someone can take it away from him. Hence he must have absolute and unchallenged legitimacy as ruler, and must have total loyalty from his people.

Legitimacy can be established using the same tools by which rules are created. It could be through a “political process” (employing the wonderful silver bullet of elections). Or it can be a “divine right”, articulated by a very friendly religious establishment, and ratified by a grateful tribal leadership. One way or the other, the tyrant emerges as the “rightful” ruler.

Challenging the “legitimate ruler” is, of course, an act of political subversion or even treason. By defying him, you become an enemy of the people, of the nation, and of God.

Once secure in his absolute legitimacy, the tyrant may allow a hierarchy to grow beneath him, so long it pledges fealty to him at each level, through the party, the tribe, or the religious establishment. Being a jealous master, he tolerates no “leadership” outside of this hierarchy. No one can have people’s loyalty or give meaning to their lives. Hence charities, hospitals and schools must be run by the state.

The perfect slave, like a good dog, offers his master absolute trust and loyalty, regardless of his master’s character or conduct. If master does well, he should be commended. If he doesn’t, he should still be commended. It’s not that he messed up, it’s just that the world wasn’t ready for his genius.

This study as guide

We’re all familiar with Lord Acton’s saying. “Power corrupts- absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The drivers above seem to describe the path a tyrant takes towards absolute power. They seem to apply equally to tyrannical individuals and tyrannical institutions. I invite you to keep them in mind while reading the “manual”.