Imagine a New Middle East Slogan: Export Beautiful Pork, Not Beautiful Guns……

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Vice President Mike Pence tweeted today that:”@Potus just announced that American pork will be exported to Argentina & American farmers and ranchers will reap the rewards.”

Mr. Pence forgot to add the obligatory “Great” this time. In fact Mr. Pence has not used the “epithet” of greatness for a couple of days now to describe his boss. I wonder why….

Mr. Trump was in the Middle East last May, being anointed by Arab leaders as the new prophet of our age. He claimed he had made deals worth more than $450 billion. He claimed.
Too bad Potus forgot to negotiate, during his May Summit, to have American pork exported to the Middle East. Imagine exclusive export of pork to all those allied Arab and Muslim countries. (Scratch sanctioned Iran: they don’t deserve all that beautiful pork, not yet).

Imagine the rewards.
Imagine, if you can, the new slogan:

Export Beautiful Pork, not Beautiful Guns.

Or:

Raise Fat Pigs, not Skinny Terrorists….

(FYI: for some reason Congress always prefers “pork” to “pigs”).

It won’t be kosher or halal, but just imagine the added rewards….

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Muslims and the White House: on Sunnis, Shi’as, Diet Pepsi, Diet Coke, and Fascist Goulash…….

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A popular beloved Kuwaiti actor (comedian) died this week. He was popular across the region, especially in the Gulf states.
Many people of all faiths across the Arab world expressed condolences. But there was a snag: he also happened to be Shi’a, and his first name indicated that he could be nothing else. That is not a problem in his home country, sectarianism is a new phenomenon and limited to Islamist extremists. But it proved to be a bit of a problem in a couple of neighboring countries and on social media.
Some Arab Salafi and Wahhabi extremists on social media as well as some of their prominent clerics (sheikhs) expressed outrage that others (Sunnis) expressed sympathy for the death of a Shi’a whom they consider a heretic. Some basically issued their
own fatwas saying the act of condolence for someone of a different sect is sacrilegious.

Other prominent clerics took the hint from their bosses and took  new route: they actually opposed the messages of sectarian hate. Especially the Imam of the Holy Mosque in Mecca.
Odd: nobody, none of these dissenting clerics, had expressed outrage for condolences sent about the deaths of many others, mostly non-Muslim potentates. Including Cheeta the Chimp (my favorite childhood film star)…

Even an alleged heathen like Herr Professor Doctor Sebastian Gorka PhD knows that the differences between Sunni and Shi’a are minimal. Or so he claims. The Herr Doctor Gorka (PhD) has reportedly opined that Sunni or Shi’a Muslims are both evil: it is like Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi (See? Even in this present and least eloquent of White Houses). He probably even knows the differences between German Nazis, Austrian Nazis, and Hungarian Goulash Nazis of the good old days.

Yet many Muslims don’t know such distinctions but emphasize others, especially those of the Salafi (and some Muslim Brotherhood) sects.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Mystery of the Disappearing Arab Princes in Europe………

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“Saudi Arabia’s missing princes. In the last two years, three Saudi princes living in Europe have disappeared. All were critical of the Saudi government – and there is evidence that all were abducted and flown back to Saudi Arabia… where nothing further has been heard from them………. Sultan refuses, at which point Abdulaziz excuses himself to make a phone call. The other man in the room, the Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Sheikh Saleh al-Sheikh, leaves too and after a few moments masked men rush in. They beat Sultan and handcuff him, then a needle is plunged into his neck. Unconscious, Sultan is rushed to Geneva airport – and carried on to a Medevac plane that is conveniently waiting on the tarmac……….”
BBC News

The most famous case of a Saudi citizen disappearing abroad occurred in Beirut, many years ago. Nasser Al Saeed was a famous regime opponent and Pan-Arabist. But he was a commoner in exile, who was almost certainly kidnapped and murdered and buried in Lebanon.

Now, under the current father-son rule, even some princes are beginning to vanish across Europe. But then again, does anyone know what happened to the former Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef who was deposed last month, was reported to be under house arrest? He has vanished in the Gulag that has absorbed many ordinary citizens, although he lives under better conditions of house arrest.

Revolutions are known to end up devouring their sons and daughters, from France (Danton, Robespierre) to Russia (Trotsky, Zinoviev, Bukharin) to Iran (uncounted revolutionaries both communist, secular, and theocratic). Now the Saudi case is different: it is a throwback to a much earlier era of plotting kings and princes. An absolute monarchy eating its own sons (sorry, no daughters: verboten).

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Egypt On the Rocks under Sisi: the Thrill is Gone, but Princes and Jihadis Both Love Him…..

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Alexandria crash: One of the trains was traveling from Cairo,the other was heading from Port Said, et voila!……..
A train crashed, again, near Alexandria Egypt just this week. Tens were killed, over a hundred wounded. Not the first one, will not be the last one.

A jetliner full of European and other tourists is blown up by terrorists over Sinai after take-off from a resort. Clearly an insider job at the Egyptian airport. All on board die.
Residential buildings collapse in Cairo neighborhood. Tens die, many more wounded. Not the first time, nor the last time.
Terrorism activity has spread from the lawless Sinai Peninsula to Cairo and rural southern Egypt. Coptic Churches, security forces, and soldiers represent popular targets for the Wahhabi Jihadis.
Civilian protesters are called “terrorists” and tried in military courts, illogical but maybe that is why it is has now become a habit among some Arab regimes from Egypt to Bahrain. If you protest or tweet, you are a terrorist.
People, mostly young people of both sexes, vanish without a trace.
And so the beat goes on……

There are discredited rumors that Supreme Leader Generalissimo Al Sisi has offered to commit Hara-Kiri, also known as Seppuku, but nobody dares wield the ceremonial sword and swing it at the neck. Besides, more credible rumors also abound that several princes and potentates from the Persian Gulf are offering him a few more billions of rice (Egyptian for dollar) to remain alive and well and in power.

Besides, the Jihadi terrorists also love for him to stay, although they can’t afford to pay him for it. Egypt has never been such fertile ground for terrorism as she is now…..

Even Donald Trump seems enthusiastic for him to stay and keep the military regime in power. They did, after all share a large strange white ball of magic with the king of Saudi Arabia last May.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Donald Trump and the Corsairs: Private Mercenaries for Muslim Wars?………

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Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Urges Trump to Privatize Afghan War and Install Viceroy to Run Nation…… The White House is considering an unprecedented plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan at the urging of Erik Prince, founder of the now-defunct private mercenary firm Blackwater. Prince told USA Today the plan would include sending 5,500 private mercenaries to Afghanistan to advise the Afghan army. It would also include deploying a private air force — with at least 90 aircraft — to carry out the bombing campaign against Taliban insurgents. The plan’s consideration comes as a federal appeals court has overturned the prison sentences of former Blackwater contractors who were involved in a 2007 massacre in Nisoor Square in central Baghdad, killing 17 civilians when they opened fire……”

That would be real bad news for American policy. It would be good news for the Taliban and the ISIS terrorists. It would be reckless policy. If the U.S. military, the best trained and best armed and most dedicated fighting force in the world, nay in history, could not end this war, how could a bunch of profit-seeking mercenaries? If fighting for country can’t do it, how could fighting for profit do it? Fighting for profit in, say Helmand Province, is not the same as fighting for profit in the West Wing of the White House.

Something about wild reckless foreign (Western) mercenaries will help the Jihadis recruit and get cooperation from local villages and tribes.

Don’t do it, Donald Trump, even if you are at an impasse over there, even if it means your friends will make more “government” money. At least ask the advice of your “professional” generals, not the gaggle of civilian hustlers you have at the White House.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

AlJazeera Revived: Israel Becoming Politically More Arab, More Haplessly Repressive……..

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“Israel plans to revoke press credentials of Al Jazeera TV journalists, close their Jerusalem bureau and pull the Qatar-based station’s broadcasts from local cable and satellite providers, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said on Sunday. Kara accused the station of “supporting terrorism” and said cable broadcasters had agreed to his proposal to take the station’s Arabic and English channels off air. Closure of the station’s office would require further legislation, he added. “Lately, almost all countries in our region determined that Al-Jazeera supports terrorism, supports religious radicalization,”………”

Suddenly, Israel has a lot in common with several Arab oligarchy states, like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Empire of Bahrain, among a few other states.
Forget about “values”, that is not what all this is about. No more than it is with Donald Trump.
The above Arab states have blocked AlJazeera network, and closed its offices.

They have also imposed an economic blockade of Qatar, at least with tacit approval from Donald Trump. Just as they have also, for several years now, urged America (and Israel) to wage a war on Iran, a sectarian war of choice on behalf of their royal families, as explained by former President Barack Obama. Obama, like Bush before him, rejected the demands of the Gulf princes for a new American war in the Gulf. The princes had to wait for the rabid Islamophobe Donald Trump to revisit the issue and plead their case, with a promised huge price tag of hundreds of billions of dollars.

Trump has thrown in with the Persian Gulf princes and potentates, in both cases: of Iran and Qatar. It remains to be seen if his few sane advisers can talk him out of playing full patsy to the Arab princes, and break with ally Qatar while provoking a new war of aggression in Iran’s own backyard.

Now Netanyahu has decided to move even closer to the Saudi regional position by joining the boycott of Qatari media by ejecting Aljazeera. But this will backfire on both the Saudis and Israel

Oddly, but predictably, the Israeli closure will almost certainly increase the popularity of AlJazeera among Arabs, both in country and in the Western diaspora. For a couple of years the network was losing popularity as it shifted closer to the style of the tightly-controlled Saudi media. That and the growth of competing Gulf-funded networks.

AlJazeera has in recent weeks doubled down on what made some Gulf ruling families angry with Qatar: it has moved back to the more ‘controversial’ model that had made it the top Arab network. That shift, and the little helpful shove from Netanyahu should help propel it back to the position of being by far the top Arab media outlet.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Miracle of the IRGC: Shipping Weapons to Yemen through Western Media………

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“Using this new route, Iranian ships transfer equipment to smaller vessels at the top of the Gulf, where they face less scrutiny. The transhipments take place in Kuwaiti waters and in nearby international shipping lanes, the sources said. “Parts of missiles, launchers and drugs are smuggled into Yemen via Kuwaiti waters,” said a senior Iranian official. “The route sometimes is used for transferring cash as well.” The official added that “what is especially smuggled recently, or to be precise in the past six months, are parts of missiles that cannot be produced in Yemen”. Cash and drugs can be used to fund Houthi activities, the IRGC official said……..”

Apparently Iranian Revolutionary Guard leaders, soon including Brig General Qassem Soleimani, are always dying to confess to Western media reporters. Amazing how these high ‘officials’ always confess to Western media, divulging the deepest operational secrets of their organizations and their countries.

From Hezbollah of Lebanon to the Iranian IRGC: all it takes is a Reuters or NY Times correspondent based in Beirut or Abu Dhabi, and they all spill the beans. On condition of anonymity of course, and how convenient is that.

But the important question here is: does anybody actually believe this nonsense, except for the already converted? I mean they should try to make it more plausible: shipping weapons from Iran to Yemen through Kuwait and Iraq (who are at the northernmost tip of the Persian Gulf, hundreds of miles away from Yemen)? Isn’t Saudi Arabia the closest border to Yemen?

Oh, and the “drug” angle is also a cute touch, often used in these cases against “the other side”, and it is always worth adding a bit more darkness. Maybe it is all true, but it is still cute…

Meanwhile, over ten thousand Yemenis have been killed, hundreds of thousands have been wounded. They did not get hit by these alleged simple missiles, smuggled through impossible routes. They got hit by more genocidal bombs, cluster of otherwise, imported by Arab princes from Britain and the United States.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Tale of Two Hostile Cities: Trump’s Losing Game of Poker with Pyongyang and Tehran……….

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Kim Jong Un has launched another ballistic missile. He is completely ignoring the hand-wringing and the tepid warnings from Washington. North Korea, a small poor country ruled by one nasty family, has several nuclear warheads, and is probably on its way to develop a delivery system that can threaten the American West Coast. Yet North Korea does not seem impressed with Donald Trump’s vague entreaties. Nor do Trump’s threats seem designed to truly impress.


Switch to the Middle East, to my Persian Gulf clogged with American and other Western warships from faraway places. The Iranian regime has signed a deal with world powers (including UN, IAEA, EU) that curtails its nuclear program and restricts it to peaceful purposes. Even their leading theocrat, Ali Khamenei, has approved it while grumbling about the ‘evils of dealing with Washington’. Now the Iranians still develop missiles that are aimed at deterring any attack on their cities by Western powers or their expensively-armed tribal royal customers. Not a breach of the nuclear deal if they are not warhead-capable. An insurance against the vast foreign imported arsenals surrounding their country.

Yet the invective in Washington is focused on Iran while Pyongyang is almost beseeched to (please) behave. Daily threats hinting at, nay threatening of, another war in the Persian Gulf region are now almost part of the National Anthem in Washington. (The current Congress may add a new stanza to the StarSpangled Banner, it’s not that far-fetched). Administration officials, paid think tanks, and senators compete with each other in this ongoing warmongering. The major media are as cooperative in this new drumbeat of a new war of choice as they were for Iraq in 2002/2003. As if they can’t learn from the past, some arrogant fools in the USA are even talking, again, of regime change in Tehran as a gift from Washington.

There are several reasons for this dichotomy, what someone (not me) once called the Iran Derangement Syndrome in Washington. Two of the reasons are obvious: the omnipotent and generous Israeli right-wing lobby and the inflow of Gulf royal money for expensive weapons/toys. Plus the history since the end of the last world war.

But perhaps the most important and crucial reason is also well known to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un: he already has his defense in the form of nuclear weapons as well as deadly conventional artillery aimed at South Korea. As I explained recently here in this post on the Thinking of Kim Un.
So he just deals with Donald Trump as other world leaders should: he knows his background, and he ignores his warnings, his bluff, just as any mediocre Poker player would.

Recent reports in US media now indicate Trump may try to provoke the Iranians into abandoning the nuclear deal. Oddly he is supposed to do that by himself breaking the nuclear deal first thus pushing the Iranians into reacting, the new logic of the regime in Berlin Washington. The blustering New York Poker player trying to bluff masters of their own game of chess.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

The Lebanese Gorilla in the West Wing: Trump and Hariri and Hezbollah Meet in DC………

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Today President Donald Trump held a private meeting followed by a brief joint news conference with his visitor du jour Saad Hariri, the Prime Minister of Lebanon.

It is impossible to discuss anything about Lebanon (except maybe the cuisine and fashion) without talking Hezbollah. During the news conference, Trump mentioned Lebanon’s main military and political party Hezbollah several times. He ominously hinted at new measures he will inflict on the Lebanese party in the next 24 hours. Hopefully that is something he has discussed with officials outside his West Wing cabal of delusional uninformed crazies and culture warriors.

At the news conference, Saad Hariri never mentioned Hezbollah, his major partner in the Lebanese government, and the major political and military player in Lebanon. Mr. Hariri battled politically with Hezbollah for several years, when he was firmly a leader of the March 14 movement, strongly allied to Saudi Arabia and financed by it. Hezbollah is a strong ally of Iran, which finances it, and has led the March 8 movement.

The reactions of the two men to questions about internal Lebanese (and Syrian) matters were in stark contrast. Trump, as usual, was belligerent about what he will do with Hezbollah. His Lebanese guest did not deal with his major partner in the current Lebanese government, not publicly in a foreign capital. (But what the two leaders discussed privately about the famous Iran-allied and dominant militia is another matter).
Tells you something about the realities on the ground in Lebanon. Realities inside Lebanon, not as understood by some in Washington, nor as told by outside Arab potentates…….

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Afghanistan After 14 Years: Short of a Hail Mary, Time to Pack It In…..

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“Last week, President Donald Trump’s senior Cabinet officials and top national security advisers met for a contentious meeting to finally agree on a new strategy for America’s longest war. After months of wrangling, they would ask Trump for a modest troop increase and a more intense commitment to the seemingly endless struggle in Afghanistan. But the session of the National Security Council Principals Committee, described by two sources briefed on it as a “s*** show” that featured what a third source, a senior White House official, confirmed was a heated debate where “words were exchanged,” proved no more successful than months’ worth of previous Afghan policy debates…….”

If you can’t win a foreign war in a faraway land against an under-armed unsophisticated enemy for 14 years, what does that mean?
It means either you had no original goal to start with, OR that you overlooked your original goal of that war, WTF it was. That it is time to pull out of an unwinnable war.

The Greeks spent less time than that trying to defeat the Trojans, and they gave up, except for one last Hail Mary, one last Parthian (or Persian) Shot. That Hail Mary with the wooden horse (it came long before Mary) worked! It almost certainly worked because the Trojans were stupid! Snatching defeat out of a wooden horse’s ass at your moment of victory is a certain sign of stupidity.


So, unless Trump and his advisers have an equivalent to that ancient Greek Hail Mary, and given that Al Qaeda are out of Afghanistan, it is time to get out.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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