The ancient Arab proverb “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is very easy to understand, and has become popular worldwide because of its simplicity. In employing that handy saying, most people stop at that, not understanding that there is a corollary hidden inside. The hidden meaning provides a note of caution, and wise people bear that caution in mind when seeking to negotiate alliances with rivals who share a need to thwart the designs of a common enemy.
The enemy of my enemy can indeed be a friend – but alliances based on that principle tend to last only as long as the common enemy continues to be a threat to both parties. In the normal course of events, once the danger is no longer threatens, the basis for the useful friendship tends to disappear. Truly, the enemy of my enemy is my friend … for the time being. Such is the hard truth of convenient relationships that fail to take account of the real differences that exist between countries, peoples and parties.
Rival groups often enter into convenient alliances in a spirit of cynicism, each party knowing fully well that it has no will to maintain the fragile friendship for one moment longer than it deems absolutely necessary for its own purposes. Even in such circumstances though, it is not usually the done thing for the parties to lay their duplicity on the table as an opening gambit. The negotiations tend to proceed with smiles all round, supported by fervent declarations of continuing mutual support. The cracks in the façade start to show when it appears that the mutual enemy is about to fall under the combined assault of the friendly rivals. Before that point arrives, the temporary alliance will seek to present a unified face to the world.
The Unity Construct is a grouping of weak opposition parties that have historically declined to find common ground. The Unity Construct has chosen to begin its life with a declaration that it intends to be a short-lived alliance of convenience, cobbled together to achieve a single short-term objective. Its sole mission is to secure the defeat of a leader whose superior political skills have thwarted the ambitions of lesser men for longer than they are prepared to accept.
The depth of the cynicism underlying their effort became as clear as crystal when the alliance chose to appointment as its leader a politician who had until only recently served as a chief lieutenant to the very leader the Unity Construct exists to unseat. In an unprecedented feat of political acrobatics, the parties in the Unity Construct have transformed a long-time adversary into – not merely a friend … but the leader of their alliance of convenience.
At the same time, the convenient alliance is making haste to assure a skeptical electorate that the end of their friendship is an integral part of the original plan. Perhaps the most telling evidence of the cynicism underlying the Unity Construct is the admission that at first the group never expected to recruit Dr Timothy Harris or Sam Condor into the alliance. However, once the opportunity presented itself the Unity Construct lost no time in hitching its hopes to the appeal of newly available friends.
The enemy of my enemy is indeed my friend … for the time being.
Colin Sampson is host of “Good Morning St. Kitts Nevis” aired on Freedom FM 106.5 Monday thru Friday 7.30 -9.00am