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What’s the Frequency, Musad?

When ruling parties win with 99.8 percent of the vote, Middle East-style elections can be confusing for Westerners. Luckily we’ve had the Dan Rather of Arab news, Musad Abir, all these years to guide us on election night. SHAWN O’NEAL looks back on some of the highlights.

After anchoring his network’s political coverage for much of the past decade, Musad Abir—sometimes called the Dan Rather of Arab broadcasting—is retiring from active journalism. His absence will be felt by viewers the world over, who have grown to love his trademark colorful election-night commentary.


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Early evening in Bahrain, and the Sunnis are out to a significant lead. But if I were a betting man…I would be violating the precepts of my faith.Bahrain Decides, May 17, 2002

The race between [Iranian Senate candidates] Mohan Khotemi and Mustaf al-Sadari is as hot and tight as dissidents tucked in a 10-foot torture cell in Tehran.—The Iranian Vote, Feb. 23, 2004

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is projected to have received 100 percent of the vote in his bid for re-election. No surprises there. But will his coattails extend farther than the reach of Muhammad’s mighty wrath?—Iraq Picks a President, Oct. 15, 2002

Let me take a moment to clear something up. Earlier, we reported that in elections held today, the NPF—the coalition of parties supporting Assad—had received 96.8 percent of the vote in the Damascus region, when they actually received 98.6 percent. Whoa, boy! I tell you, these elections were a lot easier to cover back when the mullahs counted everything.—The Syrian Choice, March 3, 2003

Yippin’ Yemenis—take a look at that map, Mujabab! The GPC’s share of seats in the Majlis Annowab is dropping as fast as an infidel into the inferno of his eternal doom!—Yemen Goes to the Polls, April 27, 2003

We are now able to project that Ariel Sharon will be the next prime minister of Israel. Big, big victory for the forces of evil.—Israel in the Balance, Feb. 6, 2001

Miqdad, come in from the yard and turn on the TV. Kalila, lift that veil and unfurl your shawl, because something very exciting is happening: A woman has been elected to the municipal council in Kuwait! This is truly a historic night—unless her seat is abolished by the emir.—Kuwait At The Crossroads, April 8, 2003

In America they’re saying, “Who Let The Dogs Out?” but here in Cairo, Hosni Mubarak is probably asking, “Who let so many independent militant Islamists into the People’s Assembly?”—An Egyptian Decision, Nov. 15, 2000

Has there ever been a Jordanian election as close as this one? Look at that—89.6 [percent] for the loyalists, 10.4 [percent] for the Muslim Brotherhood. You couldn’t cut through that with Demon Rumsfeld’s pointy tail.—Jordan Speaks, June 19, 2003

Man Oman—is this one moving fast or what? Only eight p.m., and we’ve got winners in races where multiple candidates were on the ballot!—Oman On The Edge, October 4, 2003

If you’re just joining us, I want to update you with the latest figures. According to our statistical analysis, the opposition’s chances of upsetting Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika are somewhere between slim and none—and slim just hightailed it to Mecca.—Algerian Elections, April 9, 2004

This John Edwards is one hell of a stump speaker. With his court-trained charisma and movie-star good looks, he may someday free his people from the gnarly grip of Zionist occupation.—The Wisconsin Primary, Feb. 18, 2004

Shawn O’Neal lives and tries in Texas. More by Shawn O’Neal