New Old Saudi Vision of Total Conformism: from Riyadh to Pyongyang………

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KuwaitCox2 Me1 (2)

“The Council of Ministers endorsed during its session on Monday under the chairmanship of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. The Cabinet session was devoted to discuss the vision, which was drafted by the Council of Economic and Development Affairs upon instructions of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. Following is the text of Saudi Arabia’s vision 2030……..”

The new phrase Saudi Vision 2030 has been covered extensively in Saudi, Gulf, and some Arab media. There has been some good coverage in international media as well, until a heavy dose of realistic skepticism set in. I am in no position to openly express my own judgment yet, but I will soon. There is certainly a need to look beyond the years of oil boom, a need for some new (and serious) vision.

Yet I don’t like the quick and intimidating cheering in the Gulf GCC region, the exclusion and rejection of any doubt or questioning.  No debate of  such a vital issue. The distinctly Saudi conformism that is spreading to all GCC states.

As expected, Saudi and Gulf GCC media are not critical: not one iota of criticism or healthy (or unhealthy) doubt has been expressed. A lot of enthusiasm has been expressed, in blissful ignorance. Suddenly everybody on the Arab shores of the Gulf is as conformist as any good Saudi citizen in Riyadh or Qassim, anyone who is not in the safety of foreign exile or in a local prison. It is like the old days when Saddam was issuing his Baathist drivel across the Persian Gulf media and nobody was allowed to criticize him.

No doubt there are many ‘secret’ doubters, especially in the other Gulf GCC states if not in heavily brain-washed Saudi Arabia, but they dare not express their doubt. It is almost like having Kim Jong Un of North Korea (the Cute Leader) publish an economic “vision” for his country! Nobody would even think of criticize him in old Pyongyang.

Similarly, some Persian Gulf states are moving rapidly toward a new common repressive model. Even in places where the press “used to be” relatively free. Criticism of the plan by Prince Mohammed, the the favorite son and possible successor of King Salman, would be considered “insulting a sisterly or brotherly” state. That is a new category of crime that could land you in prison anywhere in the GCC (as in Pyongyang).

If the open doubter is a true Wahhabi terrorist-supporter he could go to prison and maybe get rehabilitated from his doubts. If he is a Shi’a agitator or doubter, he will likely be charged with “terrorism” and lose his head to a sword.

But is this emperor, in this case Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and his vision, also naked (as in the famous parable or fable)? I am not certain yet. That will be covered in a new post coming soon to a theater right here. I have not read the detailed outlines of this economic vision in detail, yet. Who knows, I might become an enthusiastic supporter as well.
But the devil is in the details.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

U.S. Elections: a Berliner, ein Wiener, un Escargot de Jardin, an English Muffin, and a Tart……

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KuwaitCox2        Me1 (2)

Decades ago President Kennedy (JFK) went to a defeated and divided Berlin and famously announced:
Ich bin ein Berliner.

Imagine a President Trump going to Vienna in 2017 and announcing:
Ich bin ein Wiener.

Imagine a President Ted Cruz going to Paris and announcing:
Je suis un escargot (de jardin).

Imagine a President Hillary Clinton going to London and announcing:
I am an English Muffin.

Or even:
Imagine a President Sarah Palin in, say, Birmingham, announcing that:
Yes, I am a raspberry Tart……….

Imagine if you can….
Yes, I almost can……….

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

هارون الرشيد و مسرور: حرية الراي في دول الخليج بين قطع الارزاق و قطع الاعناق

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KuwaitCox2 Me1 (2)

قررت الخطوط الجوية الكويتية فصل الكابتن طيار أحمد عاشور عن العمل بسبب قضية الإساءة للسعودية والذي حكم عليه بالسجن سنتين وكفالة ١٠٠٠ دينار لوقف النفاذ.
وقد اتخذ هذا القرار بعد التحقيق مع الكابتن عاشور من قبل الدكتور عبدالله العجمي ووجهت له تهمة الإساءة لدولة مجاورة ما قد يؤثر على العلاقات بين الدولتين، بالإضافة إلى أخذ الموضوع منحنى إعلامي بالتالي أصبح الكابتن عاشور,ظش. موضع خطر,ش اقثب= على المؤسسة على حد قوله
 جريدة الوطن
يقال ان هارون الرشيد كان عنده سياف اسمه مسرور يستخدمه لدق او قطع اعناق من كان يشك في انهم  يسيؤون اليه او يتامرون عليه. الان في دول الخليج توجد سفارات دول شقيقة، سفارات دول اجنبية، تعمل على قطع ارزاق من لا ترضى عن رايه , سيوف مسلطة على الرؤوس في الدول الشقيقة جدا. وبالذات سفارة دولة مشهورة بدق الاعناق.  السفارات ليس دورها المعتاد او المقبول  التدخل في الشؤؤن الداخلية و الحث على قمع الحريات في البلاد. خاصة التدخل السمج والواضح في شؤون دولة مثل الكويت مشهود لها بتاريخ طويل نسبيا من حرية التعبير مقارنة بجميع الدول المجاورة. ولا شك هي محاولة ثقيلة لتقريب الاوضاع السيا سية الداخلية للمنطقة 
الجو مشابه الان لفترة سابقة اتسمت بتدخلات سفارة  دولة عربية جارة اخرى كبيرة  في الشؤون الداخلية خلال عقد الثمانينات
د. محمد حيدر
 
 
 

America is Blackmailed Again by Former Allies (and Its Own Leaders)……

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KuwaitCox2 Me1 (2)

” Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The Obama administration has lobbied Congress to block the bill’s passage……………..“It’s stunning to think that our government would back the Saudis over its own citizens,” said Mindy Kleinberg…….”

This will probably become a hot election issue. Obama supports the Saudi position, so reportedly does House Speaker Paul Ryan. Hillary Clinton is practically clinging to the Obama coattails to win the nomination and the election. This may be handing the Republicans a new issue to beat the Democrats with. Maybe.
The New York Daily News already festooned its cover today with a photo of the wayward “allies” and a huge headline: ROYAL SCUM. No doubt Barack Obama and both Clintons cringed at that picture.
RoyalScum

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Arab Royalty: King of Humorless Jordan hits Pay Dirt………

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KuwaitCox2     Me1 (2)

Saudi Crown Prince to the Crown Prince has been busy. (I would call him Deputy Crown Prince except that he is more powerful than the Crown Prince since his father is the king). It is nice getting a title for just being born, no?
Anyway, this Prince Mohammed Bin Salman visited the King of humorless Jordan last week. Within a couple of days the humorless King Abdullah announced that Jordan was recalling its ambassador from Tehran. There has been no incident between the Iranians and Jordan in recent years, not since King Hussein sided with Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran in 1980 and his invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Which is odd, given that no explanation has been forthcoming. This Jordanian king is normally level-headed.
Which means only one thing: how much did King Abdullah of the humorless Jordanians get from the Saudi family for this unexpected diplomatic move? Did the money go to the country of Jordan or did much of it enter some private bank account of the King of Jordan?
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Inshallah: a United States of Political Paranoia on Social Media?……..

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KuwaitCox2                 Me1 (2)

“An Iraqi student at UC Berkeley was removed from his Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Oakland earlier this month when a woman overheard him speaking in Arabic and reported him to a Southwest employee…..

UPDATED: Adds new @SouthwestAir claim eavesdropping passenger said she spoke Arabic – not yet clear that’s true.
The Intercept @theintercept
Iraqi refugee kicked off plane for speaking Arabic says Islamophobia boosts ISIS http://interc.pt/1SgOIQB by @RobertMackey

Wajahat Ali Verified account ‏@WajahatAli Apr 17
I explain “inshallah”after this #SouthwestAirlines fiasco where a Muslim kid was kicked off for speaking Arabic……….”

And so it went. But the fact can’t be denied: a young man, apparently an Arab, was kicked off a flight because a fellow passenger heard him speak what she thought was Arabic and “reported him” to the crew. The kind of stuff you’d read in old thrillers of Nazi Germany (no exaggeration here).

Inshallah: God Willing……… Every Muslim and Arab  says this when asked to do something or when asked if he/she will pass her exam or succeed or….. I suspect even some Arab Christians say it, since it means God Willing.

All this precedes the current poisonous Republican election campaign of 2016. Many times people, families, Arab and/or Muslim, some of them possibly Christian, have been reported removed from flights across the USA for suspicion of speaking Arabic (it could be Hindu for all the other passengers know). Since when is the suspicion of a language grounds for serious discrimination?

And does that make everyone who speaks Spanish an illegal? Or anyone who speaks Chinese (Mandarin…..) a spy? Or any unarmed black teenager who speaks and dresses a certain style a life-threatening thug that should be shot immediately?

This is not about one airline. I must add that I and my family here in the USA have had dealings with Southwest Airlines in the past three years with no problem. No signs of prejudice whatsoever. Nor have I experienced any form of prejudice in other venues or with other institutions and businesses. Even with my first name which is the most Muslim of names.

No, I am not blaming the social media for rapidly spreading, embellishing, or  magnifying the news. Not yet.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Islands Afloat: Lebensraum from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea……..

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KuwaitCox2

Speaking of Al Sisi selling two strategic Egyptian islands in the Red Sea to the Saudi ruling family (my previous post).

I must add that Generalissimo Field Marshal President Al Sisi got a better deal, financially speaking, than the potentates of what is now the UAE did a few decades ago. Rather better than some rulers of the Gulf (emirates) Sheikhdoms in 1970. At that time, many of the smaller sheikhdoms of what was called Sahel Oman (Omani Coast) on the Persian Gulf had no oil fields, and they needed cash. They usually sold colorful stamps, passports, as well as their share of the rights to some of the islands in the Persian Gulf.

That was before the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was created to join all these small tribal neighborhoods. Through a deal brokered by the British overlords of the Arab side of the Gulf, the Shah of Iran paid a few million dollars for the deal to “get the islands back”, according to the Iranians. The islands are near the Strait of Hormuz. Actually the agreement was for “joint administration” of Abu Moussa. The Iranians claim the British took the islands in 1921 and put them under the jurisdiction of the sheikh of Sharjah, which was part of the British Empire. They also claim the Qasismi ruling sheikhs were at one time living on the Persian shores of the Gulf, and hence were Iranian subjects.Another convoluted complication.

Now the UAE leaders, who were not part to the deal since the UAE did not exist in 1970, would like to re-purchase the islands from Iran. Not sure why they want the islands since they have had to import 6 million foreigners to populate their own country on the mainland. It is not like they need Lebensraum.

In short: both sides in the Gulf are using any argument, whether it makes sense or not to support its case. Nobody seems in a mood to share the islands anymore: that would be too sensible for the Middle East mindset. History has been telling us this for at least 70 years.

Anyway, all this is history, but some sheikhs in the smaller Emirates of the UAE are now kicking themselves for not knowing at the time that they had so much oil under their privies and outhouses. Right under where their pet goats dropped their pellets. (FYI: I had pet goats as a kid, as well as pet birds. We also had chickens but I ate my pet eggs whenever I could).
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Inspiring Pearl Square became an Uninspiring GCC Square, Could Tahrir become Salman Square?……

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KuwaitCox2

When the Bahrain uprising was frustrated with help from foreign mercenaries and Saudi forces, the ruling family decided to erase the memory of it. Or so they thought. The heart and symbol of the February 14, 2011 uprising was renamed from Pearl Square to GCC Square (actually renamed Al Farooq Square, a sort of historical slap at the Shi’as). Its structure was also changed so that people cannot gather in it anymore.

Now to Egypt: the historic true mother of the Arab world. General Al Sisi has agreed to sell two strategic islands in the Red Sea to the Saudi ruling family. Basically the sisterly (or brotherly) Saudis caught him at a tough time for the Egyptian economy. The islands were sold for an unspecified billions of dollars in aid and loans. That is apparently the Sisi plan to revive the Egyptian economy: borrow and beg dollars from the Saudis (and some from the UAE Emirates who suffer from severe Muslim Brotherhood Phobia). Egyptians on the street are outraged, but Sisi pretends he is deaf.

Is it possible that the Egyptian military will imitate the Baharin rulers and change Tahrir Square to, say, King Salman Square? That should lead the millions of Egyptians back to the “square’, I would think.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

New Global Financial Phenomenon: from Poor Candidates to Rich Leaders…….

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KuwaitCox2

All the recent talk of the Panama Papers and hidden wealth. It is, as I once observed, the tip of a huge global iceberg.

In the old days, three or four or five decades ago, when an Arab or Muslim leader (not a monarch) died or left power, he left behind only his personal belongings and (maybe) his pension. That was the case with Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, Qassim of Iraq, Ben Bella of Algeria, and various other leaders. The same was true of American leaders: Truman and Eisenhower did not leave office as very wealthy men. In fact nor did Nixon. But that was then. Things are different now, especially in the past two decades.

Now there is one thing that most Middle Eastern leaders, especially Arab leaders, have in common with modern era American presidents  and with many European leaders of the past two decades. They all have the same thing in common with other Muslim leaders and with African leaders and with Latin American leaders and Chinese and Russian leaders.
Know what it is? They all leave office as very rich people, much richer than before they took office.

Americans call it “looking for number one“, and they don’t mean “the people“.  That is one risk they take when they seek office. It is a by-product of the globalization of many things, especially greed and corruption.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Multidisciplinary: Middle East, North Africa, Gulf, GCC, World, Cosmos…..