(Photo source) What is one supposed to think re Dragnea's take-it-or-leave-it-coz-this-is the-only-one-I'm-giving-you proposal of Sevil Shhaideh as Romania's next Prime Minister? It's caused quite a stir. With no criminal record and no investigations underway, President Iohannis has no official reason to disapprove it seems. That she is both muslim aaaand a woman are not valid reasons despite the present climate in Europe, and the fact that no one can pronounce her name and few even know who she is are not grounds either. Dragnea is really taking the mick.
What were we expecting? Someone from the party's upper stratosphere that Dragnea could control, right? Not some new recruit who's only been with the party since June 2015 (who he can and will also manipulate). What are they up to?
Maybe it is as Sergiu Miscoiu, a professor of political science at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj, says: "Picking Shhaideh suggests that Dragnea will control the government without taking direct responsibility." He adds that the choice might also be to counter accusations of orthodoxism and nationalism so flagrant during the campaign. Referring to the Social Democratic Party, he said: "PSD are saying implicitly with this nomination: ‘You accused us of being nationalist and orthodoxist — look what we're doing, don’t you like it?’ "
While PNL and USR protested against PSD's proposal accusing Liviu Dragnea of actually wanting to lead the Government through intermediaries, UDMR (who on Wednesday signed a protocol for parliamentary cooperation with PSD and ALDE - anyone surprised?), labelled the choice as 'interesting', wrote Nine O'Clock.
All seems a bit too simplistic to me. Dragnea and his cronies are not simpletons, more's the pity. They do nothing without good reason that would benefit them personally, and they're terribly good at planning ruses for future scams using smoke and mirrors. Diversion is what they do best.
(Photo source) Perhaps the non-politically minded have never heard of Shhaideh but she isn't completely unknown. Her one high profile position was Secretary of State in the Development Ministry of the Ponta government when Dragnea was its minister, succeeding him when he stepped down in 2015 - it lasted 6 months. Hardly fertile background for job of PM then, and the lack of experience has become a justifiable source of criticism with opponents arguing that Shhaideh is only being nominated as a figurehead while Dragnea lords it behind the scenes. But of course.
Much has been said about Dragnea and Nicușor Constantinescu's presence at the Shhaideh's wedding in 2011 though Dragnea was not her naş as reported by several press sites since it was a muslim ceremony where there is no such thing as naşi. Good job, journalists with such excellent cross-cultural knowledge. See more about Dragnea's role as witness at the wedding HERE.
My opinion? That a) No matter who is chosen to be Romania's next PM, they will find themselves a puppet with Dragnea's hand up their rear end; b) Maybe the Syrian husband is more interesting to Dragnea and co. than Mrs Shhaideh herself, making her nothing more than a pawn; c) This is a complete red herring and Dragnea has something else in the offing...
Her husband Akram Shhaideh isn't just any old Syrian. Nope. A former official in Bashar al-Assad's Agriculture Ministry, he left Syria in 2010 shortly before the Arab Spring began, but still owns several properties in government-held parts of the country. According to riseproject.ro, he is a staunch supporter of Bashar al-Assad (accused of just about every war crime known to man by the international community). Rise reports that Akram Shhaideh, now living in Romania, posts and shares pro-Assad messages on social media defending the current regime in Damascus while slamming the rebels fighting in Syria along with the Arab and Western leaders who support the Syrian revolution.
Yesterday, Dragnea publicly requested an investigation by the intelligence services. Akram Shhaideh was a Romanian citizen, he said, and therefore had already been checked by all state institutions otherwise he wouldn’t have been granted citizenship. Fair point. Getting citizenship in Romania is incredibly difficult. Unless, that is, you have friends in ever such influential places.
Living (and working, according to his CV) in Romania since 2011, he obtained citizenship in 2015. Interesting that, since non-EU residents need to have been in Romania for 8 years without a break longer than 90 days to obtain citizenship according to law. 2011 to 2015 is only 4 years. Marrying a Romanian can decrease the number of years required to five. Still not enough. What was I saying about friends in ever such influential places...
For Akram Shhaideh's verbose CV, see HERE. A few things are worth a second glance: He has 2 PhDs, both from Bucharest - one awarded in Dec 2010 and the other in Oct 2010. Brilliant how one can get 2 PhDs in the same year especially when, according to your CV, you're actually living and working in a different country at the time. Bravo.
Akram Shhaideh is also the author of several books with titles that deserve a standing ovation for the biggest laugh of the season: The Strange Behaviour of Living Creatures (2011); Outgrowing the Earth (2011) and The World on the Edge. Talk about premonitions.
“He is a peaceful man. There is no problem, no vulnerability,” Dragnea said.
If anyone else had said this, one could probably have believed it. But Dragnea lies as he breathes. Suspicion is therefore normal. If he tells you it's raining, you'd have to go check.
Again, let's wait and see. But if he is pro-Bashar, then he will logically also be pro-Putin. A PM of Romania married to someone with connections to Bashar and pro-Putin sympathies is not good. Not good at all. But it would have Dragnea and cronies grinning from ear to ear.
Dragnea has declared this is the one and only proposal for PM to be put forward. Basically, take it or leave it. The arrogance is mindboggling.
"If this proposal is turned down although there is no constitutional or fundamental reason for doing so, we’ll understand that it is not desired for those who won the elections and hold majority to form a government. Coming up with a second proposal is pointless,” Dragnea said after meetings at Cotroceni.
President Iohannis has the right to refuse this proposal and he would be sensible to do so, for it has the holes of Swiss cheese and the elements of a complete diplomatic clusterf*ck. Amongst other concerns, if Akram's connections with Bashar turn out to be true, then the EU will be unlikely to accept such a nomination in a member state. Particularly now. It would be more than worrying for such a man to be privy to Romanian state secrets. If one cannot be sure, then the response should be NU.
President Iohannis is taking the Christmas period to think about it. And so he should. Long and hard, all things considered.
Refuse it, Mr. Iohannis, and let's go for early elections.