Muslim Wars: Shaikh of Al Azhar Starts Ramadan with a Sectarian Message………

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With the advent of the month of Ramadan, Muslims are waging wars on each other. Saudis and their hired allies are bombing Yemen into rubble. Syrians and Libyans and Yemenis are killing each other. Egyptian kangaroo military courts are handing out unprecedented numbers of death sentences to political critics of the military regime. Sinai and parts of the Nile valley are becoming uncontrollable terrorist hubs. Wahhabi terrorists are busy committing massacres and reinstating (female) slavery in Iraq and Syria. And now the Mubarak-appointed Shaikh of Al Azhar (he now calls himself the Grand Imam but there is nothing Grand about him) has jumped again into the sectarian fray.

Shaikh Ahmad Al Tayeb, a former functionary of Hosni Mubarak’s Nationalist Party, opened Ramadan by warning of a “feverish” campaign to convert young Egyptians away from the Sunni sect to Shi’ism. The shaikh, apparently insecure about his own faith, has warned of an “organized” campaign of conversion that uses education, science, and media. He claimed that there are evil and sneaky attempts to destabilize Egypt through the conversion of its the youth. He warned that “they”, WTF they are, would sneak upon “us” through the Egyptian affection toward the family and descendents of the Prophet and use that to gradually convert people into Shi’ism.

Yes, “they” might be sneaky, and this Ahmad Al Tayeb is probably the most insecure and the silliest Shaikh in the history of the once venerable Al Azhar……….

King Abdullah Earns a Doctorate from Al Sisi University, Morsi Moves from Elba to Saint Helena………
Grand Ayatollah of Al Azhar Gets His Just Reward on the Gulf………
Marine Le Pen Meets Egyptian Islamic Hypocrisy at Al Azhar: J’Accuse au Caire……
Islamic Outer Space: Al Azhar Tackles a Communist Jewish Shi’a Magi Conspiracy……

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Monologue in Geneva: another Yemeni GWTW Without Rhett and Scarlett ……..

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According to some Arab media, a small airplane that was sent by the UN to carry the Houthi-Army delegations to the Geneva talks failed to do so because of mutual suspicion. The Houthis and Saleh delegation got suspicious when told the UN plane needed to land for refueling at Jazan (southern Saudi Arabia). They worried the Saudis might grab and take hostage some of the top delegates on any excuse (this won’t be the first time). Especially since there are ‘rumors’ that Mohammad Ali Al-Houthi, a top leader of the movement may head their delegation. The Saudis now force all sanctioned airplanes heading for or taking off at blockaded Sanaa to land at Jazan.

Later Arab reports claimed the Houthi delegation flew through Muscat, Oman, since they only trust the Omanis among all GCC Gulf states. Maybe not quite so: as of Monday there were no Houthi or Yemeni Army delegations in Geneva. Other Arab sources claimed the Houthi jet is stuck in Djibouti because the Egyptian government has denied them the right to overfly Egypt to Europe. The Sisi regime is apparently trying to do their Saudi creditors a favor, except that the Saudis may need this conference more than their Yemeni opponents do.

So, the Saudis and the Hadi rump cabinet are re-doing their futile Riyadh conference monologue of two weeks ago, this time in Geneva with some UN bureaucrats in attendance. Again, no Houthi or Saleh or Army representatives. Again, Gone With the Wind without Rhett or Scarlett, as I opined once. I also expressed a more ‘visual’ (almost adult) description of the Riyadh monologue right here.

It looks more and more that the fate of what is left of bombed-out Yemen will be determined on the ground in Yemen. Not from the air, not in Geneva or Washington or Riyadh or Tehran. I could have told them that months ago. In fact I did, I did, more than once.

(P.S.: I still think if the Saudis want to get out of this quagmire, then they should—> do this).
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Will Ramadan Save Embarrassment and Life in Southern Arabia?………

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Will the holy month of Ramadan save the Saudi cojones from the fire they started three months ago?

There is a consensus, even within the Arab world, that the intensive Saudi air war against Yemen has failed. Call it what you will: Decisive Storm, Renewed Hope, Faltering Storm (one of my own favorites) or Failed Storm (my most favoritest name for it) or Genocidal Storm. The Saudis and their African Mercenaries (Sudanese, Senegalese, Moroccans, possibly also Jordanians) have run out of real targets. They are now in the process of bombing old targets, and bombing historic buildings, shrines, and residential buildings. They are doing almost WWII-style bombing of cities, hoping to catch some Houthis or Yemeni Army fighters napping. Out of useful targets.
Out of targets but not out of bombs and missiles, courtesy of Western democracies (and petromoney). Yet they don’t want to send their land army into a losing battle. Nor can they get any regime, be it Arab or African or Asian, to send their armies into a ground war and a guerrilla quagmire.


But never fear. Ramadan is here, or at the gates. The advent of Ramadan has not stopped Muslims from waging war against each other in the past, but it might this year. This week, maybe the delegates meeting in Geneva will have the excuse of the holy month to call a long ceasefire. The Saudis should jump at the chance. If the runaway former president General Hadi Bin Zombie objects, they can disinvite him from his Riyadh Hotel. Let him stay in Geneva.

Ramadan Kareem
(I knew someone named Mohammed Kareem, but no relation of Ramadan).
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Yemeni Revenge? Israeli Source Claims Houthi Scud Killed Saudi Air Force Chief……….

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“The Saudi Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Muhammad bin Ahmed Al-Shaalan was killed in a Scud missile cross-border attack by Yemeni Houthi rebels on the big King Khalid Air Base at Khamis Mushayt in the southwestern Asir region of Saudi Arabia, DEBKAfile reports. The attack took place on June 6, but his death was concealed under a blanket of secrecy until Wednesday, June 10. The largest Saudi air base, it is from there that the kingdom has for last two and a half months waged its air campaign to end the Yemeni insurgency. Saudi and coalition air strikes, directed against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, their allies from the Yemeni army and from local tribes, have killed an estimated 2,000 people, some of them civilians, including women and children. DEBKAfile’s military sources in the Gulf remarked that even the tardy official disclosure……………..”

It seems plausible: circumstantial evidence but it needs better corroboration. But why would the chief of Saudi Air Force travel during wartime? And why would Lt. Gen. Muhammad bin Ahmed Al-Shaalan die during the same week when Yemenis hit the major Saudi air base at Khamis Mushayt. This Israeli site, which once (probably tongue in cheek) claimed to be run by a bunch of Israeli journalists, is certainly connected to the Mossad and other officials. Perhaps it hopes to help derail the nuclear negotiations with Iran before the end of June, although it is hard to see how.

If this turns out to be true, then it would be another Yemeni revenge against the chief of the Saudi Air Force that has been bombing their cities and infrastructure for three months.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Caliph in the Wind: Norma Jeane Baker Al Baghdadi………….

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I noticed the birthday of Caliph Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi is approaching in early August. The Salafis pretend they don’t cotton up much to birthdays for ordinary mortals. But the Caliph is not deemed a mortal. He is more like a celebrity, a hairy Norma Jeane Baker. A real inner and outer beast compared to a real inner and outer beauty. Not exactly a candle in the wind, but one air raid away from wherever it is he will go for good. He won’t expect a tribute by Elton John, but here goes anyway:——>  Candle in the Wind………..

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Islamic Outer Space: Al Azhar Tackles a Communist Jewish Shi’a Magi Conspiracy……..

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“Al Azhar has republished the book titled Broad Outlines of the Shi’a Religion. The first edition of the book was issued more than 60 years ago. In the introduction Dr. Mohammed Amara stresses that the Shi’as are not a (Muslim) sect but a religion. That the followers of that Shi’a religion allied with the Crusaders and Holagu (the Mongol) and American Imperialism and Zionist Christianity against Muslims……… The book compares Shiism and Communism and how the Shi’as have distorted the unchangeable history……. The book also details the history of the relationship between the Magis (he calls Zoroastrians ‘Magis’ but some extreme Wahhabis also use it for Shi’as) (Shi’as) and Jews and Communism…………..”

It reads almost like the fake Tsarist Okhrana-produced Protocols of the Elders of Zion (it would be Elders of Shi’as here). Many Salafis and their ilk as well as quite a few Arab quasi-liberals seriously believe in it. Most of them, especially some Al Azhar shaikhs, need to read some world history, especially the chronology of events.
Egyptian regime clerics are now much more outspoken about the sectarian divide than most other Sunni or Wahhabi clerics. They are now more extremely sectarian than even the Wahhabi clerics in Saudi Arabia. ‘More royal the the king‘ and his men, as the saying goes. The leadership of Saudi clergy are relatively more soft-spoken than many Egyptian clerics on this issue nowadays. At least publicly.

The Egyptians were supposedly allegedly once among the most tolerant of Muslims, but not anymore. Now many of them are deep into religious quasi-Nazi doctrine. It goes beyond the traditional wild groups like ISIS and Al Nusra and Army of Islamic Conquest and other militia cutthroats of all Muslim sects. Is it any wonder some Iraqis, especially Sunni Kurds, are reported in some Western media to be converting back to Zoroastrianism, to become Magi or Majus?
Years ago we used to joke on the shores of my Gulf that the USA and the Russians (Soviets) were exploring outer space for the sole purpose of leaving this Earth behind, abandoning it for us Muslims. That they just wanted to “get out of Dodge“, get away from us and our silliness and stupidity. Oh but it is a worthy cause………

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Dodo Bird of Yemen: Houthis and the Riyadh Hotel Managers………..

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“After 11 weeks of air strikes that have failed to change the balance of power in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is running out of options to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s exiled government to Sanaa. Despite the destruction of much of their heavy weaponry, the Houthi militia and army forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh control most of the country’s populated west and still daily attack Saudi territory with mortar fire or missiles. The possibility of a ground operation in support of the ragtag local groups still fighting the Houthis in Aden, Taiz, Marib and al-Dhala appears to have been discounted by the Saudis and their allies in an Arab coalition from early on. Riyadh may soon have to face an unpalatable choice: accept the de facto control of its foes over Sanaa and cut a deal, or keep fighting with the risk of Yemen sinking into total chaos, becoming a permanent threat to Saudi security…………”

General Hadi is ensconced with his ghost cabinet in a 5 or 6-star hotel in Riyadh. Issuing new appointments, promotions, and demotions via social media. As if anyone inside or outside Yemen takes him seriously. As if there actually are those “Hadi-supporters” that Western media keep mentioning anywhere in Yemen.  These claimed “Hadi-supporters” are in the same category as the Dodo bird (Raphus Cucullatus). I can imagine the Saudis cracking jokes in Riyadh about his government in exile.

I’ve got a suggestion for the Saudi hosts. Take former President General Hadi Bin Zombie (some Yemenis call him the runaway ex-president الرئيس السابق الهارب) and his ministers and drop them over Sanaa. By parachute of course. Let the bombed people of the capital decide their fate.
Or, more telling, drop them over Aden, the city from which they escaped again and left its people to their grim fate. Let us see how Aden would respond to these Riyadh hotel managers landing among them.
Or even better yet: just let them live unharmed in Sanaa or Aden (how about Saada?) and suffer the Saudi bombs and cluster bombs these miserable men had urged and invited on the people of Yemen. Should be enlightening.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Saudis and Yemenis Exchange Visits: Good and Bad News on the Ground War…………

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One strain of the Saudi opposition, including the anonymous Mujtahidd, has been complaining about the path of the war on Yemen. The Wahhabi opposition support the Yemeni war in general: like almost all Arab Salafis they see it as a sectarian struggle. But they acknowledge that the bombing campaign against Yemen is not going well, no surprise there. They put the blame, rightly, on the princes leading it.


Last week they were complaining about the new young defense minister and crown prince to the crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). They were critical of his taking a second princess wife and heading for a honeymoon in Paris while the country is at war.

This week they are complaining that the same prince MBS has left for a reported good time in the Maldives (islands in the Indian Ocean) while the war is not going well.

There is, however, some good news for those who want a more decisive war. For months some of the Saudi opposition and former president General Hadi Bin Zombie and his Riyadh hotel roommates have been urging a ground invasion of Yemen. Of course Hadi and his roommates had the chance to fight a ground war when they were in Aden, but they chose to escape to the safety and comfort of Riyadh. They left the war and the suffering to the Yemeni people. The good news is that during the second and third  honeymoons of Crown Crown Prince Mohammed the ground war has finally started.

Except the wrong side is waging the ground war, and it is going in the wrong direction for the Saudis. The Houthis and their Yemeni army allies have made bold incursions into Saudi territory and held military posts. Casualties were inflicted and weapons captured. Life in some southern towns and villages has been disrupted, some areas were forced to evacuate. 
Still, the Saudis don’t seem to know how to quit while they’re not ahead. Not yet…………


Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Iraqi Federalist Papers? It’s the Economy, Publius………

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“Their lingering hostility reflects a widespread mistrust of military leadership among Iraqi troops, one of a host of problems hampering U.S.-backed efforts by Iraq’s central government to revive the security forces after a meltdown last year as Islamic State advanced. “It’s a common thing for us to see our commanders abandoning us,” said Sgt. Adwani. He recounted an experience last year in Ramadi—the provincial capital of Anbar, which Islamic State seized in May—where his captain retreated during a close firefight. Ammar Mohamad, an explosives specialist receiving new training from Spanish, Portuguese, and American soldiers at this Iraqi base some 50 miles south of Baghdad, remembered getting orders to withdraw from Mosul as Islamic State assaulted the city in early June last year…………”


Years ago, during the sectarian mini civil war in Iraq, the issue of the division of Iraq was widely discussed inside and outside that country. The issues of federalism and confederation was also discussed by Iraqi factions and famously suggested by then Senator Joe Biden and Leslie Gelb. That was when the Jordanian terrorist Abu Mus’ab Al Zarqawi and other foreign uninvited Wahhabi ‘guests’ set to provoke Iraqi Shi’as against Iraqi Sunnis and vice versa. At some point the issue faded as Iraq became engulfed in a complex multi-faction conflict that went beyond sect and geography.

Now, as Al Qaeda in Iraq ( AQI ) has morphed into the Caliphate of ISIS (DAESH) that threatens Iraqis across their publicized “identities” you would think the issue of some form of political division would be on the back burner. Apparently it is not: it is being fed by sectarian violence among the various “good Iraqis”. It is also being fed by some Westerners, including many in the U.S. House and Senate who apparently think they have no urgent domestic American issues to deal with. But ISIS have already created their own division, their own Caliphate, and unless Iraqis can solve their sectarian issues, DAESH will not go anywhere.
Often economic forces usually trump political ambitions and passions, in the end. Economic forces draw the boundaries and limits of political action. In Iraq, that is the case in the end, if there is to be a viable situation. The distribution of economic resources in Iraq, either oil or agriculture, are tilted toward the southern regions, the mainly Shi’a lands and to a lesser extent the northern mainly Kurdish lands. The Kurds now have Kirkuk, courtesy of the blitzkrieg of ISIS into Mosul in 2014. They probably believe their borders are mostly set, subject to developments in Baghdad and the vagaries of the ruling Turkish Islamists under their neighbor Caliph Erdogan. That leaves much of the Euphrates basin and the vast desert of southwestern Iraq. That is where “it is the economy, stupid” comes in.


Al Anbar province and the rest of what the media and pundits call the “Sunni” areas are economically handicapped. Some agriculture and ranching, with little oil, do not create a viable political entity, especially for a landlocked region. Al Anbar is not Switzerland or Austria: it has even less natural resources than landlocked Afghanistan. If the western regions of Iraq can’t depend on Baghdad, they will have to rely on the “outside”.

An independent western Iraq will have to rely mainly on Saudi Arabia and maybe Qatar or UAE to support its economy. It is unlikely that these countries want to carry the burden of these millions, no matter how much sympathy they have and how tempting politically. Besides, just think of the disputes over the borders, with Baghdad and with the Kurds. That would set Iraq up for continued internal conflict, then as now financed and fueled by outside money and volunteers. It would be outside Salafi influence trying to sway Iraqi Sunnis who are mostly moderates and are averse to Wahhabism.


Federalism with an American-style system (or even a German system) that protects the rights of the regions and their peoples seems the best solution. But not a feasible solution now. Alas, Iraq is not like America or Germany. Nobody there that remotely seems as capable of the task as a Hamilton or a Madison. No Iraqi Publius……….

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Death of Tariq Aziz: Last Evocation of a Bygone Potemkin Arab Order…….

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Tariq Aziz died in prison in his homeland, Iraq.

The significance of remembering the old Iraqi Baathist is not related to Tariq himself and his achievements. It is that he reminds us, me and most others, of a bygone era in Arab politics and history. Aziz was one of the last survivors of the old Arab post World War II order that almost lasted fifty years. An order that saw the rise of militarized secular Pan-Arabism through the messages of Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, the Baathists of Syria and Iraq, and the leftist young revolutionary rulers of Libya and Algeria. There was a period of hope in the fifties and sixties, but it did not last. That movement also gradually degenerated into tribal and family dynasties. A stagnant Arab order followed that was seen as stability.

That old Arab order unravelled with the Iraqi Baathist invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. The 1990-91 invasion of Kuwait and the consequent war was a direct consequence of the financial bankruptcy of the Baathist regime after the invasion of Iran in 1980 and the war that lasted eight years. The Arab order had begun to crack with the war of 1980, as Syria and other Arab states, including Libya and Algeria and some Palestinian factions, refused to support Saddam Hussein.

The Salafi terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and their consequences formalized the collapse of the old Arab regime. The West is now back in the region in force. Even the old British colonials are establishing a military base in little Bahrain (now if they can only take it over again and rebuild its political system back to 1971).

The Arab uprisings of 2011 have mostly failed, but they showed a positive development: it underlined a new disrespect to their ruling oligarchs and dictators and a willingness by Arabs to express it. Then along came AQI, ISIS, Al Nusra, Army of Islamic Conquest, Al Tibin, Al Zift and other Salafi groups. They make even the old Al Qaeda look tame. The horrendous mass atrocities by various armed factions in Syria and Iraq and Libya and Egypt are clear signals that the old Arab order is effectively buried. What we have now is a Potemkin Order: all front but no substance behind it.

The death of Tariq Hanna Aziz, one survivor of the older order, came as a symbolic event at a convenient moment, with ISIS expanding in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and possibly the Arabian Peninsula. His death is a reminder of how much has changed and the uncertainty of the future.
That is why it is a sad occasion. Not because the old Baathist died, but because of what it reminds us of.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Multidisciplinary: Middle East, North Africa, Gulf, GCC, World, Cosmos…..