Petroleum Safaris: from South Asia to Africa to Yellowstone………..

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“You only hear stories of Saudi hunters camped out in the wilderness, having brought the entire infrastructure and staff of the hunt with them, including cooks, food, beaters and handlers. They shoot desert species of gazelle, oryx and Nubian ibex, and take them home as trophies. There are reports that sometimes they don’t even bother to fly through Khartoum airport, choosing instead to construct makeshift landing strips in the middle of the wilderness that are dismantled after they depart, sometimes apparently in massive military C-130 planes. While some of the more outlandish stories of playground hunting might be apocryphal, the latest reports from Tanzania are not. In one of the most dramatic cases of large-scale hunting in Africa by Gulf tourists, the Tanzanian government has reneged on a promise not to dedicate 1,500 sq km of Masai land to a Dubai company that arranges hunting trips for members of the Dubai royal family………..”

These potentates care about the environment and African tribal rights about as much as a majority of the U.S. Senate and Congress. But these Petroleum Safaris go on in South Asia (Pakistan) and North Africa as well.
I doubt that the princes and potentates will ever be able to bribe their way into a place like, say, Yellowstone. Or can they? It is scarey what can be bought these days. Just imagine Old Faithful renamed Shaikh Zayed Fountain, or New Burj Khalifa.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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White Noise: ISIS Caliphate Beginning to Lose It? A Pivot to Elsewhere………..

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“After a week in which Islamic state (Isis) has suffered a wave of setbacks, it is determined to show that it plays a long game. On all of its active fronts, things have not been going well for the terror group. Iraq has been a particular problem: Isis appears to have lost control of one of its prized possessions, the Baiji oil refinery, following a push by Shia militias and the Iraqi military…………….”

I opined from the beginning of this Caliphate affair months ago that this Western media panic about ISIS taking Baghdad was just ‘white noise‘ (no pun intended). That they will be pushed back, eventually. But wars like this one in Iraq and Syria seesaw until a clear trend develops. Is this a sign of a clear trend? It is a trend, for now.

Other Arab media, mainly Lebanese, and a few Western outlets, have claimed that Iraqi forces and militias, reportedly advised by Iranian Brigadier General Qassem Suleimani, have pushed ISIS out of several conquered towns (possibly with Western air support?). Western media prefer to say that the bombings from the air have helped turn the tide. I suspect it is a combination of both: Western bombs from the air and Iraqi (and Syrian) boots on the ground.

P.S: Is it too much to ask that this be the last Western military campaign over any Muslim (or Arab) country? That this habit of the past couple of decades of maintaining open-ended ‘open season’ on Muslim lands be broken? That maybe perhaps hopefully the liberators take a Muslim hiatus and seek other targets? Just for variety? Some other ‘new’ target outside the Middle East might ease the possible withdrawal symptoms. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a pivot to Burma or even Myanmar.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

The Most Recent GCC Drama Swept Under: Sugar and Spice and Dancing Goatees………

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It seems that the most recent Gulf GCC dust-up has been settled, for now. The Persian Gulf media, official and unofficial versions, are gushing orgasmic with all the talk of sweetness and sisterly states and brotherly love. Something they usually do publicly even as the knives are being sharpened. Enough to make me look around for a barf bag.

This means the absolute tribal ruling oligarchs of Saudi Arabia and the UAE (Bahrain’s rulers act as a Saudi appendage and don’t count) have reached a deal with the errant wayward Wahhabis of Qatar. Sugar was oozing through the grease at the little summit in Riyadh yesterday. The goatees were practically dancing, mainly for the benefit of the media and the saps watching it on television at home.

No doubt a temporary deal which, like previous temporary deals, will last as long as it is not seriously tested. We have seen this drama film before. Enforced hegemony and conformity never last, which means these most boring potentates of the GCC will have some more drama to share with us in the future. Get the popcorn ready,

And don’t forget a new bag……….
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

The ISIS Plot? What about the ISIS Plot? ………..

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Speaking of ISIS and the blame for its resurgence last summer. Other Middle East media have claimed that the whole ISIS surge was engineered by the Americans in order to get their forces back into Iraq through the window, after being forced to leave through the door in 2011. This recent piece here is one example. All this was supposedly done with Saudi help among some Al Anbar tribes that sided with the terrorists. The alleged goal of the plot is to reduce Iranian (and Shi’a) influence in Baghdad and increase Saudi (and Wahhabi) influence in Iraq and Syria, to start with. Thus alter the strategic balance in the Eastern Mediterranean, something Israel and the Al Saud have failed to do after years of trying. Many more Arabs believe this theory than we hear or read about in the media.

I am not normally a conspiracy theory advocate, but I did dabble in the topic. I did speculate along these lines somewhere last summer. Either in a post or on Twitter, I forget. I noted the timing during a period of government change in Iraq. It sounds plausible although farfetched, given the polluted poisoned Washington air. Possible if not necessarily probable, but it is too simplistic: it assumes the other side will not counteract.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

ISIS Economics: Islamist Money with Ancient Heathen Names, Shekel 3.0………

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“Islamic State says its leader has ordered that the organisation start minting gold, silver and copper coins for its own currency, the Islamic dinar. A website affiliated with the militant group said late on Thursday that its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had instructed his followers to start minting the coins to “change the tyrannical monetary system” modelled on western economies that had “enslaved Muslims”. The posting says the order was approved by the group’s shura council, an advisory board………….”


A state is not a state without some monetary unit that acts as a medium of exchange and a store of value (this last one is not completely a joke now). Even a Caliphate needs currency. Even an ersatz Caliphate like the Wahhabi one that has sprouted up for now in Iraq and Syria. So they try to go back in history and pick currency names that are supposed to be “Islamic”. But they are not Islamic. The early Muslims just used the ancient names available from heathen countries.

The Jihadis of this Mosul Caliphate don’t realize, or maybe they choose to ignore, that their minted currency carries coin names from ancient heathen societies. Mainly ancient Rome and Greece and Spain:

  • Dinar: Denarius (plural: Denarii) was the currency of Roman Republic from long before Christ, long before Caesar.
  • Dirham: Drachma (Draxma) was the currency of Greece before the Euro. It was the Greek currency in ancient times as well.
  • Riyal or Rial is almost certainly derived from Spanish ‘Real” meaning Royal. the “Real” was also the old Spanish currency. Of course the Iranian base currency is also the Rial, but I’m not suggesting a currency union with the mullahs.
  • As for the “fils“, I have no idea WTF it derives from. Maybe from the Arabic word Muflis, meaning broke or bankrupt. Which would be appropriate for this word.
  • At one time not so long ago the Gulf countries used the Indian Rupee as their currency. After Indian independence, a special Gulf Rupee was issued in India just for the Persian Gulf states.

How about picking something from the Old Testament, which Islam agrees with on most things? How about the Shekel? I once suggested in one of my older posts to the GCC they might consider the Shekel (they can call it Shekel 3.0). That was when they were seriously talking about a currency union. It is unlikely to happen now (the union not just the Shekel adoption).
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Selling a Saudi Prince to America: Lobbyists and Academics………..

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“Yet Prince Miteb’s influence is not merely owing to the number of appointments he enjoys, but rather the actions he has taken over the past few years. These actions are grounded in four fundamental principles. The first is the importance of stability within the broader Middle East. Prince Miteb understands that stability in countries such as Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen or Egypt prevents subversive regional actors from gaining undue influence. For example, in 2011 he ordered the National Guard to intervene in Bahrain, thus preventing an American ally (Bahrain is home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet) from slipping away to Iranian influence and from creating further instability in the Persian Gulf……….”

Sobhani is a former academic who has also dabbled in oil consultancy as I recall. He also seems to specialize in writing glossy extremely-flattering books about Saudi royals. He wrote a book a few years ago about Saudi King Abdullah (King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia: A Leader of Consequence). A glossy gushing propaganda book that Saudi embassies and institutions distributed widely around the world. I believe the Saudi embassy in Washington gave a special reception or party on its publication. I doubt that anybody else paid their hard-earned or embezzled or stolen money to buy it.

Now he is doing the same for the king’s son, Met’eb, in this article in the conservative Washington Times. Extolling his virtues against other rivals in the Al Saud family, mainly Interior Minister Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef and possibly others lurking in their palaces.
(FYI: the Al Saud are known as avid and generous buyers of glossy propaganda).
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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UAE Declares Almost Everybody a Terrorist: from Yemen to Italia to Soumi………

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“The Muslim Brotherhood was designated a Terrorist Group by the United Arab Emirates Saturday, joining several other organizations that received the same designation from the UAE, including the U.S.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, or, CAIR. According to an Associated Press report, the terrorist designation bestowed by the UAE, puts added pressure on the Muslim Brotherhood by putting them in the same category of Islamic extremist groups as the Islamic State group, and even the Nusra Front which is an al-Qaida affiliate in Syria. Along with the Muslim Brotherhood, the United Arab Emirates tagged 83 other groups with the terrorist group label, such as Al-Islah, an Emirati group that many believe has connections with the Muslim Brotherhood, and whose members have been subject to prosecution in the Emirates federation………………”

The list is very long, and it includes some surprising groups like the American CAIR and Associazione Musulmani Italiani (Association of Italian Muslims). That last one immediately had me yell: WTF! Is that some kind of leftover (feloul) Fascist group? I am guessing it is either affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, or maybe for some reason the Al Nahayan Brothers don’t like it. Still, an Italian group? But that is okay: there are also on the list French and other groups that even the CIA has probably not heard of, like The Finnish Islamic Association (Suomen Islam-seurakunta) and the Muslim Association of Sweden (Sveriges muslimska forbund, SMF). 

I did not see Hezbollah of Lebanon on the list, although there are several alleged regional Hezbollah offshoots, real or imagined. Missing also on the terrorist list are the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the Saudi Commission for the Propagation of Vice, the Communist Party of Belize, and dissident members of the Nabati Poets Society. No mention of the Mossad either. Or maybe they just listed every Muslim group they are not financing. But some of these groups are bona fide terrorist groups, literally cutthroats. Some, not all.

There are some ‘funny’ political inserts among these groups. The trick has been played more discreetly by the Saudis: to declare a bunch of people and groups as ‘terrorists’, and to include among them dissidents and reformists and other reactionaries. Hoping the Western powers will ‘bite’ and declare the same as ‘terrorists’. Notably British PM David Cameron, as well and uber-mercenary Tony Blair, have been pushing for the MB to be declared “terrorists” in the West. The reason? Follow the oil money………

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Gulf Creative Thinkers and Oligarchs Hail Field Marshal Al Sisi……..

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Egyptian official daily Al Ahram quotes a Kuwait newspaper that Generalisimo Field Marshal El Presidente Al Sisi met in Cairo with a delegation of businessmen and “thinkers” from Kuwait.

Now I know we have some “thinkers” back home, but I never knew we had dedicated full-time, 24/7 thinkers who did nothing but think. And what better topic to think of than the greatness of Generalisimo Field Marshal El Presidente Al Sisi?

Mr. A. Al Babtain, a big businessman and president of Al Babtain Institute for “Creativity”, of course led the delegation of businessmen and, er, full-time “thinkers” who like to tag along with businessmen on travels to visit Al Sisi in Egypt.

He, Al the businessman, reportedly did not surprise Generalisimo Field Marshal El Presidente Al Sisi by telling him that the great trust the Egyptian people have shown Generalisimo Field Marshal El Presidente Al Sisi extends to the whole wide wonderful Arab world (although it may not sell in Peoria). That he is universally admired and loved, even if he can’t sing worth a lick. No opinion polls needed, no free and fair elections necessary.

In the spirit of meeting these “thinkers”, Al Sisi must also be thinking something like: “Wow, being president is neat. How else could I get to meet full-time 24/7 Gulf ‘thinkers’ and oligarchs in one meeting“.


Odd, though this Insitute of Creativity. I had thought “thinkers” only thought and never created anything besides thoughts (and maybe a couple of mundane regular everyday things that I should not mention here).

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

New Decency in the Middle East: the Potentates Acquire Friedman……….

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I think Thomas Friedman, the erstwhile liberal globalist columnist (that was many years ago), may have become a fully-owned subsidiary of the Al Nahayan Brothers or some other potentates.
In his most recent column, speaking of “decent places” where Friedman can stay at 7-star hotels and have access to the kleptocratic absolute tribal potentates who seek to liberate places like Syria and Libya and Yemen for freedom and democracy. Never mind that regime critics are imprisoned or sent into internal and external exile.

Surprisingly, Friedman also mentions Lebanon as a decent place. It may be, but I suspect he means his own “comfort zone” in the Wahhabi-ized regions that are owned by Hariri and the Saudis and the March 14 bloc. Definitely not the regions of Lebanon that defeated the Israeli IDF twice. These latter would be mainly in the two souths: South Lebanon and South Beirut. And we know who dominates these regions.
Odd, this time he never mentions the name of the taxi driver who drove him from the airport in the UAE, nor what they discussed. Let me think. The choices from his past visits are usually between: Abed in Lebanon, Abdu in Egypt, Abu El Abed in Ramallah, el Obud in the Gulf, Abu Dong (only in Beijing)………….

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Now I Have Seen It All: Sudan Saving Libya………..

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“Sudan said Thursday it is organizing a December 4 meeting of Libya’s neighbors, as the North African country continues to be plagued by lawlessness and violence. The foreign ministers of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Niger and Tunisia have been invited to the meeting in Khartoum, the foreign ministry said. Arab League secretary general Nabil al-Arabi and the organisation’s envoy to Libya, Nasser al-Qidwa, were also invited………….”

Now I have seen it all, und warum nicht? Everything is topsy turvy in the region now. If absolute tribal princes and potentates can claim to bring freedom and democracy to Syria, why can’t Sudan bring stability to Libya? Anything is possible these days.

Go for it, Omar. You must be serious: you have no more sense of humor than your ancient namesake did.

I have some concern about the list of invitees. I don’t mean to show any disrespect, but Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Niger, Tunisia and the Arab League don’t cut it. Not alone. Didn’t Qatar and the UAE join Bernard-Henri Levy and Senator McCain in bombing Libya and overthrowing Qaddafi? Why not invite them too?

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

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