Trump in Exile: Dragging the GOP, Cheap Parody of a Bonapartist Mirage…..

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Donald Trump will stop being President of the United States at noon on January 20th. There are rumors and speculation bout what he may do after that:

That he is so delusional he will refuse to leave the White House. It is far-fetched and he risks suffering the indignity of President Biden ordering the Secret Service to physically eject him and his family.

He can play the role of a wronged ‘legitimate’ leader, form a shadow regime in exile. His exile will most likely be in Florida (unless he opts for Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, or the Golan Heights). The Republican Party, which is now just like any other Trump Tower, wholly owned by him, will continue its amazing trajectory of intensifying sycophancy.

From his exile, he can keep the flames of ‘resistance going. I know, it sounds funny to talk about a GOP “Resistance” movement. The GOP is violently against any or all “Resistance” movements, especially in the Middle East.

In addition, he can start a media empire, as rumored now, to inundate the web, cable services and airwaves with his Manifestos. He can be like Lenin in Zurich, agitating and plotting for a revolution, either now or four years later.

If Trump knows European history, which he does not, he will compare himself to Napoleon Bonaparte in exile. At least privately, he will go Walter Mitty. He will think he is in Elba, thinking of Marshal Ney awaiting his return. Of course, Elba lead to Waterloo and eventually to Saint Helena.

Trump probably cannot conceive that he will leave next January not to Elba, but directly to Saint Helena.

(This is not a comparison, otherwise it would be a comedy, a joke. Trump has a primitive mind, perhaps street smart and cunning, but he has no sense of history. It would be hilarious to imagine him leading a Grande Armée, nor is he a creative intelligent leader. He has his mouth, a feral instinct, and a captivated GOP that is terrified of said mouth. So, I am funning you here).

And on this note,

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Disarming Militias: from Iraq to Lebanon to the USA….

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FOR years, at least since 2003, United States officials, lawmakers, think tanks and media in general have been pushing the narrative that militias are destabilizing “other” countries, especially the Middle East. They have argued that only official armed forces and law enforcement should be armed, that parallel forces pose a danger to stability, and to regional peace. All this is true, apparently in most but not all cases.

THE focus has been on hostile unfriendly militias, like Iraqi Shi’a groups with ties to Iran, and Lebanese Hezbollah, which is better armed and motivated than the Lebanese army. In some countries, again especially in Iraq and Lebanon, the line between “the state” and the militias is actually blurred. In Iraq the militias are nominally aligned with the state military. In Lebanon, Hezbollah is allied to Iran but it is part of the Lebanese government, actually its strongest component. Actually close to a “king-maker”.

WHICH brings us to the USA. There probably are as many heavily-armed militia groups here as in any unstable Middle East country. Perhaps smaller units, but more of them. These American militias can and do march fully armed in the streets, intimidating the opposition.

IN the past four years these militias have enjoyed the blessing, often open support, of the ruling Republican regime. During the last (current) election cycle, they have been very active, threatening the safety of state-level officials who oppose President Trump’s policy (or lack of policy) toward the COVID pandemic. Michigan, for example. Some have hinted at disrupting the political process if their candidate, Donald Trump, loses the election. Mr. Trump himself has encouraged these groups to “stand back and stand by”, implying a threat if he loses.

NOW the outgoing president is pretending that he won, that he is now thwarted by plots. He is supported by right wing outlets like Fox News, shady quasi-Fascist organizations like Breitbart and shady web conspiracy disseminators like QAnon. And much of his captive party. The militias are preparing for a march on Washington, encouraged by Trump and his sons. Fully armed of course. Most Republicans in Washington, still terrified of their now-powerless president, are silent for now. All this sounds like Middle Eastern, African, and banana republic politics. It is.

SO, it is a small world after all, and not as diverse in its politics as we like to think and claim.

Cheers

M.H. Ghuloum

American Elections: The Middle East Awaits the Verdict…

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With the American elections closing in, the Middle East, not just the political classes of it, are holding their breath. The stakes for almost all countries of the region are enormous.

On the Persian Gulf, the most anxious are several of the ruling oligarchies, especially in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. These ruling families were for Trump as early as 2016. At least one of these regimes has had ties with people who have been associates of Donald Trump. While Trump’s claim that he would extricate the US from Middle East wars disappointed them, his strong promise to renege on the UN-sponsored Iran Nuclear Deal resonated with them. There was hope among the leaders and the palace elites that the promise meant Trump will wage another war in the Persian Gulf on their behalf.

They clearly overestimated his appetite for a new war in the region. He wanted their oil money, but he did not want to fight for them.

After the 2016 election they invested heavily in the Trump presidency. The Arab regimes promised Trump what they knew he, as a businessman of questionable acumen, could not resist. The media (all controlled) received orders to heap praise on him. Huge armies of social media accounts (called Electronic flies in the region) were dedicated to the praise of the new president, in both Arabic and English. English hashtags were circulated which indicated strong regime support for Trump. Hundreds of billions of dollars of weapons purchases were promised, with photos of Trump looking like a traveling salesman showing weapons on sale to the embarrassed Prince MBS.


When Trump and his clan made their first visit to Riyadh and he waged a war of words against Iran across the Gulf, the princes thought he was on the right track. They though war was coming, that Trump will hand them the keys to the Persian Gulf.

The Iranians have managed to withstand (somehow) Mike Pompeo’s economic war of “Maximum Pressure” that was supposed to bring them to their knees. They shifted gear to a long-term game of chess strategy that neither Pompeo nor Trump have understood. Waiting out their first term in office and expecting the return to sanity and normalcy to Washington in January 2021.

The Israelis, and not the just the Likud rulers, have strongly supported Trump for obvious reasons. He gave them all that they wanted. Even when Biden wins, Israel has nothing to fear. The Nuclear Deal will return, but many Israeli intelligence and military officials already realize that it was not as bad a deal as “some” of their political leaders claimed as they manipulated American political opinion. Besides, US-Israeli ties transcend partisan politics.

If the elections turn out as I believe they will, there will be sounds of dirges on one side of the Persian Gulf. Iranians, now set to elect a hardline president next year (thanks to Trump’s undeclared economic war), will be glad but not overly impressed. They have seen this film before.

Cheers

M. h. Ghuloum

Saudi Arabia’s Latest Palace Purge: a Widening Radius, a Shrinking Radius….

Saudi Arabia had its first palace political upheaval about a decade after the death of its founder King Ibn Saud. That was when a group of influential princes staged a palace coup against their brother (or half-brother) King Saud Bin Abdulaziz. Crown Prince Faisal al Saud was a major drive behind the coup, which forced Saud to abdicate in favor of Faisal. After that there were no serious palace upheavals, not that we know about anyway. There was an incident in the late 1950’s when a group of rebellious princes (The Free Princes) sided with Nasser of Egypt and flew to Cairo in exile. One of them was Prince Talal Bin Abdulaziz, brother of the king and father of Prince Al Waleed. Another unrelated incident was when king Faisal was assassinated by one of his nephews in 1975.

Palace intrigue resumed openly and in full force after King Salman took over in 2015. There was a protracted turmoil as the king positioned his son MBS to gain absolute power over the country. That turmoil did not end when Mohammed took over absolute power, he felt insecure with too many important princes in prominent positions. So he went about cutting them down to size with purges.

The last ‘known’ major purge was in the fall of 2017, when a large number of businessmen, officials, and princes (including the once high-flying Prince Al Waleed) were incarcerated in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton for weeks and months. Many were shaken down for a share of their wealth, which they gladly gave up in exchange for restricted freedom and only within the kingdom. There have been other smaller purges since then, but nothing involving the most prominent princes who were so close to ascending the Saudi throne. These princes were politically emasculated, apparently.

Then, yesterday’s shock. Some of the most senior princes, in fact the highest princes in the kingdom were arrested yesterday. No charges announced yet, almost certainly none will be. Senior prince Ahamd Bin Abdulaziz is an elderly son of Ibn Saud, the founder of the kingdom. He was often mentioned as a possible heir during the past decade. But the main catch of this new purge is Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef (MBN), the former crown prince who was deposed after King Salman picked his own son (MBS). The third mentioned captive is a brother of MBN, a former deputy minister. Of course in such a system, a prince is never alone: he has many aides, sycophants, minions, and allies. So we can assume that many others have been arrested as well with these three prominent princes. Some of these other important detainees will also be princes. So, the circle, the radius of the purge, widens by nature, and covers more people over time, both royals and hapless non-royals. Meanwhile, the circle of princes and potentates left untouched by the purges shrinks.

Saudi Arabia was not historically known as an unstable country that experienced domestic political shock. Not in the royal palaces anyway. Not that any outsiders would notice. It may return to its past normal form after one person consolidates his secure power to such an extent that there will be no need to fear new upheavals. Maybe no more purges, but I doubt it. This is not his grandfather’s world anymore, nor is it his grandfather’s kingdom anymore.
Cheers
M H Ghuloum

Oil Saga on the High Seas: Is Trump Seeking to Recruit Pirates?

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“US offers cash to tanker captains in bid to seize Iranian ships. Washington mixes bait and threats as ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against Tehran becomes unorthodox ….” Financial Times

Iran‘s foreign Minister (M. Javad Zarif) tweeted to day:

Having failed at piracy, the US resorts to outright blackmail—deliver us Iran’s oil and receive several million dollars or be sanctioned yourself. Sounds very similar to the Oval Office invitation I received a few weeks back. It is becoming a pattern…..”.

Trump and his administration have resorted to unprecedented, Somali-Pirate style near thuggish measures to strangle the Iranian economy. Something Trump no doubt learned in his shady New York real estate business. First they urged Britain to illegally seize and hold an Iranian oil tanker at Gibraltar then asked them to hand the tanker over to the US government. The Iranians quickly seized a British tanker near the Persian Gulf as a bargaining chip. That forced the British to do the right thing and release the Iranian tanker.

This kind of practice by Trump, forcing or bribing third countries to commit piracy by expropriating an oil tanker and/or its contents, has not been done before by any regime. Even other rogue regimes. Only time will tell how low they will go in trying to strangle the Iranian economy by blackmailing third countries.

Cheers

M. Haider Ghuloum

Middle East Illusions: Gauleiter Kushner’s Futile Thrilla in Manama…..

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Here is what I opined on the social media this week on the Bahrain Economic meeting chaired by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son in law and his Gauleiter for the Middle East:

But Kushner is one-dimensional, does not understand history, emotion, attachment, faith, passion. He only understands what he & his in-laws grew up with: MONEY. Like his Arab royal oil bribers who think they can buy history & geography (and even a war or two).

Shameless Arab rulers betrayed Ottoman Turkey and slept with the British (WWI). The British and French, in turn, betrayed the Arabs by creating new states under their own control.

Now several Arab ruling families on the Persian Gulf are betraying their Iranian neighbors by encouraging Tramp; bribing the West to wage war; starve the Iranian people. In Bahrain, they are trying to set the final betrayal of the Palestinians.

Attendance for conference in Bahrain anointing Jared Kushner as Trump’s Gauleiter of the Middle East is very low, almost all flunkies of ministers of needy statelets. Some Arab states boycotting. The biggest MENA Muslim powers Iran and Turkey, not there.

Nobody in the Middle East wants to be bossed around publicly by this son in law of Trump, Jared Kushner, except maybe the little sheikh (now king) of Bahrain …

As I said earlier: Kushner does not understand history, emotion, attachment, faith, passion. He only understands what he and his in-laws grew up with: MONEY. Just like his Arab royal oil allies who think they can buy history & geography (and even a war or two).

This Bahrain meeting is just another stab at doing something by a group that controls Washington now. A group that confuses Arab oil money with popular will. At least they get some photo-ops out of it, something to serve the illusion of Trump, Pompeo, and their Persian Gulf sidekicks.
The latter know better, but they are hoping the current American administration does not.

Kushner of Arabia addressing guests among the hopeful, the bribed, the intimidated Arab third-tier bureaucrats in Sheikhdom of Bahrain. Promising land to Israelis, and for the Palestinians? Jobs building settlements.
For the Persian Gulf ruling oligarchies? No more Arab Spring.


Earlier, soon after returning from Canada, I had tweeted this:

Breaking! Bolton at large..
Crazy uncle busts out from locked basement…
Armed and dangerous …
Last seen heading towards the Persian Gulf …
Claims he dreamed of a threat to the homeland from 9000 miles away…


Cheers

M. H. Ghuloum

Iran Disinformation, FDD Lobbyists, and Mars the God of Everlasting Muslim Wars……

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“On Friday, the State Department suspended its funding for a mysterious website and Twitter account, IranDisInfo.org and @IranDisInfo, after the project attacked human rights workers, journalists and academics, many of whom are based inside the U.S. But the role of the U.S. government in financing IranDisInfo’s criticisms of Human Rights Watch and the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a group that has been outspoken in warning about the Trump administration’s increasingly aggressive military posture towards Iran, appears to have been in collaboration with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. FDD pushes for military confrontation with Iran…..”

FDD > (Foundation for Defense of Democracies) is anything but…
It is practically an unregistered extremist lobby for Mars, the God of Everlasting War on Muslim Countries. Especially Muslim countries ruled by regimes that are not friendly to Saudi rulers, other Persian Gulf despots, the Likud, and traditional American warmongers……
Its biggest donor is the de facto leader of the Republican Party Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas gambling casino mogul, who once reportedly (or was it allegedly) called for dropping the “bomb” on Iran. Its board includes many former disgruntled right-wing officials with extremists views, the kind Donald Trump normally would call “losers”.
Ditto its list of advisers and writers, some of them veterans of the Levant’s right wing political and civil wars….


Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Ilhan Omar vs AIPAC: a Democratic Glass Curtain becomes an Iron Curtain…..

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Sometime in early 2015, right after Obama’s State of the Union Address, the Republican leadership of the US Congress and Senate acted to publicly and loudly oppose the foreign policy of a sitting American president. And to openly disrespect him, which is their right. They decided to escalate by using the leader of a foreign country, or maybe the foreign leader decided to defy Obama by using the US Congress. Right-winger Benyamin Netanyahu has had some experience in disrespecting Barack Obama, no doubt at least partly because he is a black man and he knew he could get away with it in a divided Washington dominated by Southern rightists and by his unofficial lobby, AIPAC.

So, they invited the Israeli prime minister to address a joint session of the US Congress, no doubt with the agreement of some Democrats. This foreign leader, the Israeli leader was invited to rebut the Obama foreign policy, with the focus on the pending Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA). Many Democrats also showed up, including the current Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer. Defying their own president to appease a foreign leader, something I know they would not do for Bush or Clinton or any white president. American media of all stripes went along, broadcasting live this racist defiance by a foreign leader of a sitting US president in cooperation with Congress. To their credit 8 senators and 50 Representatives (of all faiths) refused to attend.

It was largely the power of AIPAC that drew so many Democrats to that travesty and abuse of a Joint Session of Congress, although a few probably had real Middle East policy concerns that could have been addressed in a different fashion. AIPAC, the increasingly Likud-ized American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, has managed to hold festival-style, CPAC-style annual conferences while avoiding real public scrutiny. Until now, although many American commentators like Thomas Friedman and Peter Beinart, among others, did occasionally criticize its activities and its political hold. Clearly AIPAC represents an extreme position on the Israeli-Palestinian issue that is not supported by many moderate and liberal Jewish Americans who support Israel and the idea of a Jewish Homeland. These are also the people who know the Diaspora well, and have a traumatic collective memory, centuries old, of what can happen in a society when the freedom of expression is stifled.

There has always been a glass curtain in Washington blocking any open public criticism of Israeli governments. And of AIPAC. Even though the current Israeli PM felt free to speak directly to Americans from the chamber of their elected representatives. Now with this new batch of Democratic lawmakers, the taboo on criticism of Israeli government and of AIPAC is breaking down. The powers that be in the Democratic Party have been called upon, probably warned, to stem this new trend rocking the boat, challenging the groupthink.

The Republicans started the attack on the new batch of Democrat women: Republicans like to demonize women who are threatening, from Hillary Clinton to Michelle Obama and her daughters to Elizabeth Warren to Ilhan Omar and AOC and Rashida Tlaib. It must be a remnant of the old Witch Hunt and witch burning eras of Old Europe. But the Democrats quickly joined the selective attack, focusing now on the two Muslim women of color. AIPAC has a long reach into American politics, that is a fact: you can see it by looking at the attendees of its public events.

Now the glass curtain of taboo has come out into the open. The Democrats in Congress have now been cowed, apparently, into a resolution condemning these two women, particularly one of them, either directly or indirectly. The glass curtain did not do its job, so now it is being replaced. An Iron Curtain is now descending across the Democratic congressional delegation, openly shutting off any open debate of Israel and its influence in America.
The First Amendment is in danger of being watered down not only by the modern Republicans and Donald Trump. Democrats are also doing their best/worst to weaken the First Amendment which has always defined America.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Shinzo and Donald: the Riddle of a Nobel Farce……

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Anatomy of a Farce:

Trump claims Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe has nominated him (Trump) for the Nobel Prize for Peace…

Abe refuses to confirm or deny Trump’s claim (got that?)…

Abe (not a GOP-er) doesn’t want to enrage Trump…

Can you solve this riddle?:
(Hint 1: it summarizes the past two years).
(Hint 2: a k a ‘the Obama complex’: Obama has a Nobel Prize, Trump will never get one)
(Hint 3: general inferiority complex).

Cheers

M. Haider Ghuloum

A Christmas Post: Jesus Comes to America, Meets Voodoo Economics………

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I once responded to a poll posted on social media about whether Jesus would be allowed into America. That was a few years ago. I got in the habit of upgrading and modifying the post every year around the Holiday and Christmas time. Here is my modified updated version for this unusual year of 2018:

  • He, Jesus Son of Maryam the Virgin as we call him, wants to come to America. They call him Christ, the anointed, or Messiah/Massih in Hebrew/Arabic/PersianHe has heard that this new land is the last bastion of his true-blue red followers, those who truly adhere to his small sect of Judaism, or so he thinks. He knows they call themselves Christians now. He wants to come visit his true believers in what was and is called the Old Confederacy and the Bible Belt West, once called fly-over land. As well as some inland pockets on the two coasts. 
  • He, Jesus Christ, would probably not be allowed on a connecting flight from Europe (back in the Middle East there are many who look like him). Eventually, After some agitation, he will likely be put on a no-fly list as a potential terrorist.
  • If not, or if he manages to sneak through the controls, he will face the next obstacle. Some other passenger (most likely an American) would complain that he/she feels uncomfortable with someone dressed in long a robe, a hairy man mumbling in some strange language, a typical raghead, on the same airplane. So, Jesus would likely be bounced off the flight anyway (maybe he’ll be handed a check for $300 as compensation).
  • Let’s assume that he manages to make it after all, perhaps walking across from Mexico or Canada. He will not be allowed into many churches because his attire (robe & sandals) is deemed un-Christian. The first Mega-Buck Church would throw him out because he does not fit the image of a “member” of their House of God.
  • Besides, he wouldn’t know what a church is. Jesus would look for a synagogue upon arrival. Lucky for him, he’d most likely land in New York City.
  • He wouldn’t be any more welcome in a synagogue than in a church. Memories of the Diaspora and pogroms and massacres and the Holocaust perpetrated by his alleged later followers do not fade easily. Besides he has no money to pay the very high New York annual fees required for joining. 
  • He, as Son of Maryam and fruit of Immaculate Conception, might be allowed into a mosque (no fees usually needed there; Mosques are not used as exclusive or exclusionary private clubs). But that welcome of a non-Muslim would be only with the hope of converting him to the teachings of the illiterate Arab shepherd from Mecca who came after him. It wouldn’t last long. 
  • He would also wonder who this blue-eyed blond namesake of his was, whose alleged birthday is celebrated by corporate America so eagerly every year. From September to January of each year. Whose image is posted all over towns and museums. And he would wonder what he has to do with a fat jolly Germanic man who likes to wear red and white tights, and jingle his bells, his only utterances: ho ho ho.
  • Once enlightened, Jesus would wonder what do Amazon and Apple and Macy’s and gas prices and NASDAQ have to do with his birthday.
  • Most of all, he is intrigued about this new noisy Roman governor of America who is all orange, who is pushing a vague new creed that he calls MAGA. He knows it involves some kind of new miracle or, as someone explained: Rich people elected mainly by poor people taking money from the poor and giving it to the very rich, in the hope of somehow making the poor richer“.
  • Makes sense?

Cheers & Have a Merry One……
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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