Having the Last Laugh

The idea might have seemed funny at the time. Professor Saad Eddin Ibrahim wrote a magazine article on what he sarcastically called "the Arab world's contribution to political science." He dubbed it gomlokiya, squeezing together the Arabic words for republic and monarchy. His point was how the new President of Syria had assumed office automatically after his father died, even though the country hadn't been a hereditary kingdom for centuries. Readers also chuckled at the pun: it rhymes with molokhiya, a word for a vegetable soup that Egyptians use with comic effect to describe a mess.

What happened next is no laughing...

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