Houses of Glass on the Gulf: the Fatimids, the Magi, and the Safawis Are Coming!……

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

اذا كان بيتك من زجاج، فلا ترمي الحجارة على بيوت الاخرين

Let me get this straight:

Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon have been castigated for years by Gulf Arab regimes and their controlled media for allowing Iranian influence (and now allowing some Shi’a militia forces from Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon). Some Wahhabis and Gulf tribal-quasi-liberal types call it Shi’a or Iranian occupation. Their favorite term is Majous (for Magi) or Safawi (for Safavid). I am sure they will revive the term Fatimi (Fatimid) soon in Egypt, with the blessing of the largely Wahhabi-ized Al Azhar clerics.

Yet those with houses of glass often cast the first stone. The Gulf states, where these same Islamists and quasi-liberals reign, are full of foreign forces and bases, none of them Iranian or Iraqi or Lebanese. For example:

Qatar has US bases, and now will soon host a new Turkish military base (I called it the Return of the Ottomans). Possibly others. But that is okay: a sovereign country has the right to allow foreign bases if it serves its national security interests.

UAE: at one time almost anybody could establish a base there, even the Canadians had one (I used to half-joke that even Monaco and Belize each may have one). France, Britain, and USA, and Blackwater mercenary veterans from Colombia, Australia and other places have bases. But that is okay: a sovereign country has the right to allow foreign bases if it serves its national security interests.

Bahrain: American Navy, Saudi forces, a new British (old colonial) base, and various imported mercenaries and cutthroats.

Other Gulf and Arab states allow foreign military bases. But that is okay: a sovereign country has the right to allow foreign bases if it serves its national security interests.

Even the terrorist Salafi Caliphate of ISIS is full of imported foreign cutthroats from Arab and European countries.

Nothing wrong with foreign forces and military bases, sometimes they provide security in a rough and dangerous neighborhood, especially in our region. Especially if they are welcome by the peoples of host countries.
But we must not forget that we all have houses of glass…….

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

Do They Really Hate “US”? Rudyard Kipling and Misplaced American Phobia……..

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

Go send your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need

To wait in heavy harness
On fluttered folk and wild—

Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child

Take up the White Man’s burden
In patience to abide
To veil the threat of terror      Rudyard Kipling (on America)

CNN network has been pushing a documentary show with a totally silly but sensational attention-grabbing title Why Do They Hate Us. Complete with a couple of the usual well-worn “Islamic” or “terror” experts from the Indian Sub-Continent.

I saw only parts of the show (or program). It gives the impression that Americans are agonizing over Islamic terrorism, which is real, and over why they are not loved over there. I got some news for all Americans: it is true that many of the Salafi Wahhabi Muslims hate Americans (and Europeans as well); but not nearly as much as they hate other Muslims of different sects.

Almost on any single day, the Muslim victims (Shi’a and Sunni) of terror bombings in Baghdad exceed the total the number of Americans killed by “terrorism” since after September 11; that is fifteen years of American agony and Islamic phobia. The same goes for most European countries. Last June, a Saudi ISIS agent blew himself up inside a crowded Muslim Shi’a mosque in Kuwait City. The total dead were 27, plus hundreds wounded and crippled. That is probably more than the number of Americans killed by Muslim terrorists in the USA since September 11, 2001.

If you could read Arabic, a beautiful one of the most expressive of languages, you’d know that most of the vitriol and hatred is usually directed at Shi’a Muslims, and maybe Alawites and other Muslim minorities. Not at Americans. Most of the exhortation in Arabic Wahhabi social media is to kill Shi’as or the Magi (Persians). Or Arabs of another faith. Most of the complaints about America are mainly that this country is helping “the enemy” or the “other” with bombing terrorist hideouts.

It is true that many in “allied” countries, especially Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and surprisingly many in Egypt, either hate or dislike some vague identity called “America”. But that is the product of Wahhabi ideology, a once-small Islamic sect that has spread from Central Saudi Arabia and across Asia, Africa, and Europe. Fed with oil money and Salafi clerics from the Arab world and South Asia.

Across the Arab and Muslim worlds there is a kind of love-hate attitude toward America. A large part of the people wish to evolve civil societies where institutions rule rather than entitled dictators or clerics or a handful of tribal families. That is an American ideal, at least that was the American trajectory for a long time, although this has become debatable now.

And the fact is, many Arabs also seek (some even yearn) to be recognized by the West (America) as moving toward some local version of that ideal, be it real or illusory. I know, I know, some Arabs would complain that this is pandering to the “white man”.

But facts are what they are: facts.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Conflicting Plans for Syria: Hezbollah Plan A, Saudi Plan B, and American Plan C…..

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking


Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah gave a public speech today. That was in the aftermath of the death of yet another senior Hezbollah military leader in Syria: Mustafa Badreddine who was suspected of anti-American violence in Beirut bombings and also convicted of terrorism in Kuwait in the early 1980s (before Hezbollah was established).

Nasrallah asserted that his group will remain in Syria until the Jihadi “Takfiri” terrorists are defeated. He added that there is no evidence of an Israeli involvement in the assassination. He also noted that even the Israelis know that he always says what he means and does what he says. Oddly hinting that the Israeli “enemy” knows the truth and tells it publicly, unlike some “Arabs”, meaning the Saudis & Qataris. (I have to agree with him on that point).


Nasrallah also said that the Saudis are leading and arming and financing the Jihadist campaign in Syria from Jordan, with some cooperation from Qatar and Turkey. That the Saudis are sabotaging a political solution.

It is still not clear to me how the general Shi’a population of Lebanon now feel about the Syrian involvement. Clearly if there is any opposition it is limited and muted, although some Arab and Western media tend to magnify it. The Jihadi terrorists themselves may have helped solidify support for Syrian involvement by destroying historical shrines and monuments of all faiths, a favorite Wahhabi pastime. Many Shi’a would be willing to fight and die for the Shrine of Zainab in Damascus (as they would for Karbala). That is Plan A of one side.


For his part, Saudi foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir repeated that “it is time for Plan B” in Syria. Nothing new there, just the same mantra. Someone once called him the Saudi version of Baghdad Bob.


My guess for this Saudi Plan B?
The Saudis and Qataris and Turks are waiting for a hawkish American president to take over next year. Maybe even someone who will allow supplying the Jihadists with anti-aircraft missiles (as in Afghanistan in the 1980s). That is not likely to happen: the Syrian regime and its Russian and other allies are creating facts on the ground.

Besides, there is also a well-known popular American plan, I call it Plan C. Plan C has been devised by the American people. The American public largely does not care who rules in Syria, as long as it is not a Wahhabi-type regime like ISIS or Al Nusra or Jaish Al Fath or………. never mind, I should quit typing now while I am ahead.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

NIMBY on My Gulf: of Muslim Brothers, Tribal Islamist Politics, Divisions over Yemen, and All That……

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KuwaitCox2                 Hiking

Muslim Brotherhood “thinkers/propagandists” in the Gulf region have been recently blasting the UAE government about developments in the southern Yemeni city of Aden. Apparently the UAE is exerting some influence in that port city.

They are too fearful to criticize the Saudis (or their Bahraini appendix) openly, since local Saudi (and Bahrain) embassies in the GCC states have been actively pressing host governments to prosecute and persecute public critics. It it now considered a ‘crime’ to insult other GCC regimes, even on Twitter and Facebook. It is also a crime in the GCC to criticize Al Sisi of Egypt. (In a positive step, a Kuwaiti court last week rejected this argument, opening the door for more freedom of expression).

Many Gulf Islamists are strongly tribal, and some have tribal roots inside Saudi Arabia. That, as well as an enduring alliance with Salafists (also dominated by pro-Saudi tribal ties), keeps many Gulf Muslim Brotherhood (outside UAE & Qatar) from criticizing the Saudis openly. Most Gulf MB outside the UAE and Oman have roots from Saudi kin. Hence they go easy lest they upset tribal (as well as business) allegiances and balances.
In that sense, especially in Kuwait and Bahrain, the MB are essentially as Wahhabi as the local Salafis are. In Qatar, it is likely that any public strong criticism of Turkey’s strongman Erdogan is not tolerated.

Oddly, or maybe not, this is also true for many Persian Gulf academic and media types with tribal affiliations (even those who are classified as ‘liberals’ by twisted Gulf standards). Most proclaim support for freedom/democracy, but not in the Gulf region, especially not in Saudi Arabia or Bahrain. A unique Gulf version of the American term NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard).

The MB in Kuwait, for example, these days seem to think that the Saudis are accommodating the Houthis of Yemen too much. Meaning they are still bombing their towns, but not as intensely as in the past fourteen months. It must be kept in mind that the powerless former Yemeni president Generalissimo Abd Rabuh Hadi was and is allied with the Islah, the notoriously corrupt local version of the MB. But they keep their “best” and most vocal criticism for the UAE, which is the most antagonistic Arab regime toward the MB (other than Egypt). But they criticize the UAE without mentioning it: a skill some Gulf Islamists have mastered in recent years.

(On the other hand, it is also unacceptable in Iran to openly and strongly criticize allies like the Syrian government or Hezbollah in the media. Even though there are no tribal ties involved. Just strategic and some sectarian ties).

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Trump and Media Freedom: Is He Going Arab and Muslim?………

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“We get reaction from media scholar Robert McChesney to news that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is reportedly considering suing The New York Times after it ran a major report on his past treatment of women, and has vowed to make it easier to sue news organizations. Lawsuits are not the solution, McChesney says. “Instead, it is to broaden it, enrich it, create new voices and fund new voices so we actually have the diverse marketplace of ideas.………”

Democracy Now! headlines this as: Trump Vows to Sue New York Times in Latest Show of Disregard for Freedom of Press.

What is the fuss? This happens all the time in the Middle East, and not just in the Arab states or in the Gulf states. Governments, prosecutors, even foreign embassies now sue any journalist, politician, or just plain citizen for insulting some king, prince, or dictator.
Often on the Gulf, foreign Arab embassies pressure host governments to sue and prosecute their local critics. They mostly like to sue and arrest anyone who posts on social media, since they can’t completely own and control this type of media.

Just recently, Turkey‘s dour Islamist strongman Erdogan even managed to intimidate Germany to prosecute a German cartoonist who mocked him. In Germany! Instead of Turkey adapting to European standards of freedom of expression, the Germans were forced to adopt the Turkish standards.

Donald Trump is just being Arab-ized and Islam-ized.

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

A Fatwa and Prediction on the U.S. Elections…….

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KuwaitCox2 Me1 (2)

The way things stand now, I know what will happen next November, the day after the next General Election. Whatever the outcome.
Many people in the United States and most people all around the world will wake up the next morning, November 9, sigh, and say:


“Thank God. It could have been even worse…….”

Maybe they will be right. Speaking of the presidential election only. As for the congressional and governorship part, it still looks hopeless. People, voters, often tend to double down on heir past mistakes. That is why so many senators and congressmen and others of both parties stay in office so long.
Even governors. For example: take the last Wisconsin and Florida governorship races, among others. Floridians are forgiven, they are notorious for screwing up elections anyway.

Cheers
M H Ghuloum

GPS Dilemma On the Gulf: Street Name Thrilla in Manama…….

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KuwaitCox2    Me1 (2)

These quaint tweets from the Bahrain Ministry of Interior yesterday (@moi_bhrain) on street traffic in the capital, Manama. Just a sample of many:

Close the left lane on Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman (al Khalifa) in both directions on Friday and Saturday from 6 am to 12 noon.

Close the left lane of Shaikh Salman Ahmed (al Khalifa) the Conqueror industrial vest region after 109 road intersection towards the industrial area on Friday and Saturday.

Close almsaralaimn of Shaikh Isa Bin Salman (al Khalifa) (UM Al Hassam tunnel) towards almnamhmn at 11 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. next Saturday.

PT: left lane of both sides of Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman (al Khalifa) highway will be closed on Fri and Sat from 6am to 12noon

Now do you know why sometimes it is so hard to find your way around if you are an outsider? Even with a GPS?

Street names like: Khalifa Bin Issa, Khalifa Bin Salman, Salman Bin Hamad, Hamad Bin Issa, Issa Bin Salman, Salman Bin Khaifa, ad nauseam. Most street names evolve around  a handful of repeated ruling family names (dead, alive, and almost there) over and over and over. Sort of rubbing salt into the wounds already suffered by ‘most’ of the people. Every little shaikh-let probably aspires to have his own street name someday, before he grows up into a full-fledged avaricious potentate and aspires to amass his own loot. Just like his daddy and uncles and elder brothers did.

So how could one solve this? KBS and KBI and SBK, and HBI and NBH, and KKK and SOB and ABC and XYZ?

It is a family affair…….. but gets kind of monotonous and boring after a while. Just like the honorees.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Gulf of Confusion: from Religious Police to a Commission for Entertainment……

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KuwaitCox2 Me1 (2)

Saudi Commission for Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has been notorious for restricting all kinds of freedoms. Especially the freedom to have fun, be it innocent or not. I have taken to calling it Propagation of Vice.
Now there is a new Saudi “commission”: the Commission for Entertainment ( in the least entertaining city in the least entertaining country in the whole wide world). Allegedly the idea of the young influential son of King Salman. This could have been inspired by a step taken months ago by the UAE government to improve the state of ‘happiness’, so long as it does not involve the freedom of expression. The Saudi opposition (in exile of course) claim that the UAE potentates have a lot of influence over the new Saudi Deputy Crown Prince (MBS).

The UAE established a Ministry of Happiness. Sounds like a good idea to me. It sounds like something that defies irony, perhaps something from North Korea. But it is the thought, the intention that counts, and it seems to be good.

Could the Society for Islamic Heritage Revival back home, the intolerant Salafi group designated a terrorist supporter by UN, change its name to Society for Revival of Islamic Joy and Tolerance? Could the local Muslim Brotherhood become a Brotherhood of Joy?

Or maybe the Wahhabis are softening, becoming gentler. Maybe they want to keep up with the mullahs next door in Iran who permit street music, as this photo of urban entertainment in Iran shows:

IranStreetMusic

Don’t get me wrong. I believe these are all steps in the right direction. Long overdue, but better late than never.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

United States of Paranoia? Italian Mathematician Terrorist Armed with a Hessian Matrix…….

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KuwaitCox2 Me1 (2)

“A math equation landed an Ivy League professor on an American Airlines flight in questioning Thursday under suspicion of being a terrorist. Guido Menzio, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania, was working on a differential equation while waiting for the Syracuse-bound plane to take off from Philadelphia, the Washington Post reported. He had to present the findings of a working paper at Queen’s University. But a passenger somehow mistook the equation for Arabic or some sort of Islamic code for a terrorist attack……….”

Things are beginning to get out of hand in this election year in the land of Milk and Honey, Fruits and Nuts. Any know-nothing xenophobe (who probably can’t even spell the word) can now point a finger at a fellow flight passenger and cause a lot of inconvenience and maybe some misery.

Guido Menzio is not even a Muslim or an Arab or a Pakistani. He is obviously an Italian or an Italian-American. So , because of his Mediterranean dark looks, and because he was solving some mathematics equations, probably some of the calculus problems we all did in college, he was suspected of terrorism. They thought the mathematical equations were some dangerous foreign language, like Arabic. He was profiled. Good thing he wasn’t writing music.

Moral of the story? There probably is none,  just that some people can’t tell a Hessian Matrix from a proverbial hole in the ground.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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

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