Shinzo and Donald: the Riddle of a Nobel Farce……

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Anatomy of a Farce:

Trump claims Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe has nominated him (Trump) for the Nobel Prize for Peace…

Abe refuses to confirm or deny Trump’s claim (got that?)…

Abe (not a GOP-er) doesn’t want to enrage Trump…

Can you solve this riddle?:
(Hint 1: it summarizes the past two years).
(Hint 2: a k a ‘the Obama complex’: Obama has a Nobel Prize, Trump will never get one)
(Hint 3: general inferiority complex).

Cheers

M. Haider Ghuloum

A Christmas Post: Jesus Comes to America, Meets Voodoo Economics………

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I once responded to a poll posted on social media about whether Jesus would be allowed into America. That was a few years ago. I got in the habit of upgrading and modifying the post every year around the Holiday and Christmas time. Here is my modified updated version for this unusual year of 2018:

  • He, Jesus Son of Maryam the Virgin as we call him, wants to come to America. They call him Christ, the anointed, or Messiah/Massih in Hebrew/Arabic/PersianHe has heard that this new land is the last bastion of his true-blue red followers, those who truly adhere to his small sect of Judaism, or so he thinks. He knows they call themselves Christians now. He wants to come visit his true believers in what was and is called the Old Confederacy and the Bible Belt West, once called fly-over land. As well as some inland pockets on the two coasts. 
  • He, Jesus Christ, would probably not be allowed on a connecting flight from Europe (back in the Middle East there are many who look like him). Eventually, After some agitation, he will likely be put on a no-fly list as a potential terrorist.
  • If not, or if he manages to sneak through the controls, he will face the next obstacle. Some other passenger (most likely an American) would complain that he/she feels uncomfortable with someone dressed in long a robe, a hairy man mumbling in some strange language, a typical raghead, on the same airplane. So, Jesus would likely be bounced off the flight anyway (maybe he’ll be handed a check for $300 as compensation).
  • Let’s assume that he manages to make it after all, perhaps walking across from Mexico or Canada. He will not be allowed into many churches because his attire (robe & sandals) is deemed un-Christian. The first Mega-Buck Church would throw him out because he does not fit the image of a “member” of their House of God.
  • Besides, he wouldn’t know what a church is. Jesus would look for a synagogue upon arrival. Lucky for him, he’d most likely land in New York City.
  • He wouldn’t be any more welcome in a synagogue than in a church. Memories of the Diaspora and pogroms and massacres and the Holocaust perpetrated by his alleged later followers do not fade easily. Besides he has no money to pay the very high New York annual fees required for joining. 
  • He, as Son of Maryam and fruit of Immaculate Conception, might be allowed into a mosque (no fees usually needed there; Mosques are not used as exclusive or exclusionary private clubs). But that welcome of a non-Muslim would be only with the hope of converting him to the teachings of the illiterate Arab shepherd from Mecca who came after him. It wouldn’t last long. 
  • He would also wonder who this blue-eyed blond namesake of his was, whose alleged birthday is celebrated by corporate America so eagerly every year. From September to January of each year. Whose image is posted all over towns and museums. And he would wonder what he has to do with a fat jolly Germanic man who likes to wear red and white tights, and jingle his bells, his only utterances: ho ho ho.
  • Once enlightened, Jesus would wonder what do Amazon and Apple and Macy’s and gas prices and NASDAQ have to do with his birthday.
  • Most of all, he is intrigued about this new noisy Roman governor of America who is all orange, who is pushing a vague new creed that he calls MAGA. He knows it involves some kind of new miracle or, as someone explained: Rich people elected mainly by poor people taking money from the poor and giving it to the very rich, in the hope of somehow making the poor richer“.
  • Makes sense?

Cheers & Have a Merry One……
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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New American Winning vs Normalcy: from Europe to the Gulf to Pyongyang……

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Riots in France.

Britain in disarray over Brexit.

Poland and Hungary ruled by Neo-Nazis; Ukraine has many longing for the days of occupation and mass graves and Babi Yar……

Europe is now in disarray, which will force America’s hand at some point in the future…..

The Afghan war in its 18th year..
Yemen
genocide in its fifth year…..

Financial Markets tanking…

Kim Jong Un speeding up his nuclear arsenal even as Trump utters public love-sick letters to him….
China
(a k a Chi-Coms to conservatives) is resurgent…

A tin-horn Arab oil prince is threatening stability in the Persian Gulf. He has his own highly placed-agent inside the White House……

So much winning, Mr. Trump repeats…..

I say, screw all this winning. How about some good old American normalcy…..

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Israel and Hezbollah: From the Swamp of Ramallah to the Fires of Beirut……….

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The Lebanese party/militia Hezbollah, the main bogeyman of Israel and American politicians and media, is in the news again this week. There are rumors and reports in some Arab media, mainly pro-Hezbollah media, that Israel has plans to assassinate Hassan Nasrallah, its leader. No doubt there are contingency plans of all kinds, which is normal, but there are claims that Israel has been leaking this report deliberately.
Israel has a long failed history of counterproductive assassinations of its Arab opponents. Don’t get me wrong: the assassinations often succeed, but they ended up having the opposite effect of what the Israeli Mossad expected.


Take the case of Hezbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah. He became leader of Hezbollah after the Mossad assassinated his predecessor Abbas al-Musawi with a bomb in 1992 (so, assassination by remote bombs is one thing the Israelis and Lebanese have in common). Israel thought that the beheading of Hezbollah would weaken it. They got the biggest surprise in their history, the biggest surprise since the time when their ragtag under-estimated Jewish forces in Palestine defeated all the combined Arab armies in the 1948 war.

Israel had been occupying Southern Lebanon, a Shi’a bastion, since 1982, and Hezbollah was partly formed (with Iranian help and money) to kick them out. The Israelis had forced the Palestinian forces out of Lebanon around 1982, which also opened the way for Hezbollah (and its older rival/ally Amal). Instead of beheading Hezbollah with the assassination of Musawi in 1992, the Israelis got a tougher more wily more determined opponent in the new Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah. 

Under Nasrallah, the Lebanese militia forced the Israelis to end their occupation and free Southern Lebanon in the year 2000. Hezbollah is now the strongest military and political force in Lebanon. It is also very likely the strongest Arab military force, having defeated IDF once and forced a stalemate in the 2006 war, and having helped Bashar Al Assad defeat the Jihadists in Syria. Moreover, with Iranian-supplied missiles and improvised local technology, Hezbollah now has achieved a what I called a few years ago a balance of terror with the mighty IDF. Both sides holding each other’s population centers hostage to guarantee good behavior. Korean Peninsula style. Hezbollah also won, along with its Christian and Sunni allies, the Lebanese parliamentary elections earlier this year.

Another example? In 2004 Israel assassinated the elderly Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the founder of the Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas (initially an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood). Two years after that Hamas won a majority in the first Palestinian free elections. It won in both Gaza and the Occupied West Bank (a reflection of the bankruptcy and corruption of the PLO/PA under Abu Mazen and his old guard). Friction with the PLO (Fatah) increased and led to a military confrontation over Gaza. Hamas easily defeated the PLO forces lead by Mohammed Dahlan, another corrupt PLO functionary. There has been no Palestinian elections since then, perhaps the continued and incurable corruption and kleptocracy of the PA leaders in Ramallah insures that the fundamentalist Hamas will win again. Hence no elections. Meanwhile Dahlan is biding his time in Abu Dhabi (UAE) waiting to become the next Palestinian puppet of the Persian Gulf potentates if he ever succeeds in replacing Abu Mazen as Mayor of Ramallah.

The moral for the Israelis? Beware the enemy you don’t know, cherish the devil you know. Stay the hell out of Lebanon, just give up this moth-like attraction you have to the fires of Beirut.

(P.S.: FYI, rhetoric aside, in the end Hezbollah is highly unlikely to represent an existential or serious threat to Israel. No doubt its leaders realize that, as do the Israeli leaders. For decades Arabs have been threatening to destroy Israel in its current form, and they have failed. The final seal on that was done in June 1967. That was when the Arab World woke up to the reality of defeat. The 1973 war only confirmed that. But then there are the unpredictable results of the current Likud policies and their demographic impact on the future of Israel-Palestine, apparently a topic and a dilemma for another day).


Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

 

British Logic on Participating in the Yemen Genocide…..

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CNN quotes British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt that: “we cannot stop the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia for use in destroying Yemen and killing Yemenis. If we did, we will lose any influence we have to stop the war in Yemen….” Or some nonsense to that effect..

Imagine the police supplying a murderer and hostage-taker with bullets, while he is holding the hostages. Imagine yourself protesting to the police that they should cease supplying the criminal. Imagine the police telling you that if we stop supplying the killer with bullets (and teaching him how to use them), we will lose any leverage we have over him“. Meanwhile, he keeps holding hostages and killing them….

Too polite to admit that if they stop selling the killing machine, Mr. Trump will be too happy to replace them, and get the money….

Trump, on the other hand, was raised differently, in a different jungle. He is too primitive, he doesn’t have the British finesse at bullshitting in Downton Abbey dialect/class accent: his BS is direct and unfiltered, you can smell it before it comes ….. 

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Princely Celebration! Donald Trump’s Endorsement of the Luring, Torture, Murder, and Dismembering of Jamal Khashoggi

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Arab absolute kings/princes/potentates in the Persian Gulf region (some of them) and their controlled media and a few controlled academic type are celebrating Donald Trump’s endorsement of the: luring, arrest, torture, murder, chopping up, and dissolving in acid of Jamal Khashoggi.. and mainly they are celebrating Donald Trump’s support, after the fact, of what they did.

Literally playing Kool & The Gang’s Celebration loud……  in the palaces of Riyadh, Manama, Abu Dhabi, and as few other cities….

Flash back to a few weeks ago: “An official Saudi mouthpiece threatening the United States of America. A first, only under Donald Trump, whose focus is the money only.  The absolute princes and potentates have read him, and Jared Kushner, correctly: dangle the money in his face, and you have the upper hand

Or a few weeks before that: “Donald Trump screamed during the 2016 presidential campaign that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it……. Enter the current Saudi strongman Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the failed conqueror of Yemen. A new chapter of the history of the Middle East, Arabian Peninsula, and Persian Gulf is being written now. The Khashoggi Mystery, L’Affaire Khashoggi….”

The princes first threatened America, then bribed Donald Trump with promises of money. Simply put, but the truth…

As one member of the US Congress tweeted earlier today: 
  “Hey : being Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not “America First.”……
She was right, of course. First threats, then bribery worked with this president….

Now, with the help of Trump, the door is open for other dissidents and exiles to be lured into foreign embassies, onto airplanes, in neutral airport transit lounges. For them to disappear…

Thanks to Trump’s (and Pompeo’s) craven behavior, many more people are not safe now, even in foreign exile….

Cheers

Mohammed haider Ghuloum

With Friends Like These: America Loses Respect as the Princes Threaten Trump, New Khashoggi Spin……..

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“They present catastrophic scenarios that would hit the US economy much harder than Saudi Arabia’s economic climate…… It would lead to Saudi Arabia’s failure to commit to producing 7.5 million barrels. If the price of oil reaching $80 angered President Trump, no one should rule out the price jumping to $100, or $200, or even double that figure. An oil barrel may be priced in a different currency, Chinese yuan…….. And perhaps trusted exchange of information between Riyadh and America and Western countries will be a thing of the past after it had contributed to the protection of millions of Westerners, as testified by senior Western officials themselves. Imposing any type of sanctions on Saudi Arabia by the West will cause the kingdom to resort to other options, US President Donald Trump had said a few days ago, and that Russia and China are ready to fulfill Riyadh’s military needs among others. No one can deny that repercussions of these sanctions will include a Russian military base in Tabuk, northwest of Saudi Arabia………”

An official Saudi mouthpiece threatening the United States of America. A first, only under Donald Trump, whose focus is the money only.  The absolute princes and potentates have read him, and Jared Kushner, correctly: dangle the money in his face, and you have the upper hand.

Selective rumors and facts about Khashoggi, post-Afghanistan:
During the 1980s, Khashoggi was on Ronald Reagan’s side, and both were allied to Bin Laden and the Islamist Mujahideen (later Taliban) against the Soviets and the leftist secular Afghan government. This explains a lot of noise this week by right-wing American media about Khashoggi and his ties with Islamist Jihadis. Most of it distorted selective information, although he had at some point a soft spot for some Islamist political movements. Yet he remained a faithful follower of the aggressive Saudi royal policy until the past year. In the 1980s the whole Western world was allied to the Islamist Jihadis in Afghanistan.

Sunday Breaking:
Trump: I talked to King Salman, knows nothing about Khashoggi.
– could’ve been a rogue group, not Saudi gov’t.
– sending Pompeo to Saudi, he can always find an Iran connection.
– Bibi can help with his UN charts.
– I’m not a baby, I’m not a baby.

Monday Morning Khashoggi Spin:
Trump has sent Secretary Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia “to investigate” the Khashoggi murder. While Pompeo was in flight, Trump told the media that maybe a rogue group of killers did it. 

Top Saudi opposition exile @mujtahidd (whose reports are often reliable) writes what many already suspect including me: Trump sent Pompeo to Riyadh not to investigate. He sent him to finesse the new emerging story about a rogue group that led to the Khashoggi death. That new spin is very likely Fake News agreed by the Trump Administration (Pompeo & Bolton) and the Saudis. One downside of lying publicly too often is that it makes it almost impossible for others to believe you).

Under Trump & MAGA, America is now so respected that even the Saudi minions are threatening it publicly. They expect Trump to publicly support them on the Khashoggi affair: just like their bribed aid recipients in humorless Jordan, Bahrain, Egypt, the town of Ramallah, etc.
He is inclined to do it!

About America being respected: under Obama or Bush or any previous president, the princes would never dare publicly threaten the USA (directly or through their media). Now, thanks to the greed of Trump, they know they can get away with it…. and they will…
They are threatening Trump, assuming he will blink. And he will, given the money dangling in front of him…..

Did they tell me that Saddam Hussein was dead?

Did I tell you “long live the new Saddam”?

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghu
loum

L’Affaire Khashoggi: a Saudi Pulp Fiction and Murder on Fifth Avenue…….

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

Donald Trump screamed during the 2016 presidential campaign that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it.

Enter the current Saudi strongman Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the failed conqueror of Yemen. A new chapter of the history of the Middle East, Arabian Peninsula, and Persian Gulf is being written now.
The Khashoggi Mystery, L’Affaire Khashoggi, on Twitter this past week:

“He claims here that kidnapped exiled journalist #Khashoggi is already in #Saudi captivity (not at Ritz-Carlton). That they managed to get him out of #Istanbul, that Turkey is applying pressure to get him back.
#RogueState “

“Some #Turkish sources have told media that 15 Saudis flew as one or two groups into #Istanbul the day before #Khashoggi to show up at the consulate… Not very subtle, these friends of Trump and #Pompeo…..
If he left the consulate, it was probably in pieces..
#RogueRegime “

“Going to the #Saudi consulate was not smart of #Khashoggi. Not at all. Even little me, when I go to the Middle East I carefully avoid all flights that would stop even briefly at airports in Saudi (or Bahrain). The others seem to be safe, for now… “

“Shocking? #Turkey concludes Saudi journalist #Khashoggi killed by ‘murder’ team sent from Riyadh, sources say……”

“So what will #Erdogan do? Foreign killers commit murder in his country, almost openly a d defiantly.
#Turkey “

“I expect Benyamin Netanyahu to go public (with charts), accuse Iranian Ayatollah operatives of sneaking into the Saudi consulate in #Istanbul & killing #Khashoggi.
Trump will consult #FDD lobbyists, Pompeo will consult Kushner first, #Bolton will consult MEK cultists….. “

“We were told #Saddam Hussein was dead….
I have been saying for 3 years that now there is a new one… there is, and he will not end up any better than the old one…
#Gulf”

“No, it will not affect US-#Saudi relations. This is not the old America. As long as the dark prince keeps the oil money coming, Trump and #Pompeo could not care less who gets murdered where… even if it is on Fifth Ave..”

“I am (was) no fan of Mr. #Khashoggi and his royalist ideology. But nobody deserves to be kidnapped, likely killed, possibly his body cut to pieces…. for expressing his/her opinion, or for any other reason….
#Istanbul “

“No doubt the regime is banking on Trump and (who care for oil cash more than anything else) to limit any fallout from the Affair”

“”It is Like Pulp Fiction”… Turkish Officials Say Khashoggi Was Killed on Order of Saudi Leadership….”—–> New York Times (10/10/2018)

L’affaire Khashoggi, Where it stands now?

  • Saudis utilizing bots, called paid electronic flies in the Middle East, and their hired Arab media journalists to refute.
  • But video shows him entering the Consulate in Istanbul but never coming out. Suspicious vehicles, including a dark van, emerged soon after and vanished, carrying fifteen Saudi men and possibly Mr. Khashoggi or his corpse, or pieces of it.
  • Turkey knows Khashoggi is either dead or kidnapped, and says so. Which is a no-brainer.
  • Saudis are stonewalling Turkish official demands.
  • Trump & Pompeo are clueless. Trump is worried about the dollar cost of any action or comment.
  • Iranian Ayatollahs are fine letting the stupid Saudi Crown Prince shoot himself in the foot again and again. While his country is being bled in Yemen.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

The Questionable Wisdom of Friedman: From Beirut to MBS, and Beyond Saddam………

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“I never thought I’d live long enough to write this sentence: The most significant reform process underway anywhere in the Middle East today is in Saudi Arabia. Yes, you read that right. Though I came here at the start of Saudi winter, I found the country going through its own Arab Spring, Saudi style. Unlike the other Arab Springs — all of which emerged bottom up and failed miserably, except in Tunisia — this one is led from the top down by the country’s 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman……. only a fool would not root for it.To better understand it I flew to Riyadh to interview the crown prince, known as “M.B.S.,”………..”

The prominent gullible American fool said: “only a fool would not root for it”

 

“‘Our Hands Can Reach You’: Khashoggi Case Shakes Saudi Dissidents Abroad…… A Saudi women’s rights activist was driving in the United Arab Emirates when she was pulled over by security officers, thrown on a plane to Saudi Arabia and jailed…….. In Canada, when a Saudi student refused to stop making YouTube videos criticizing the kingdom’s rulers, two of his brothers back home were imprisoned…….. So when a prominent Saudi critic, Jamal Khashoggi, disappeared after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last week, it hardly surprised Saudi dissidents living abroad — until Turkish officials said they believed he had been killed……”

Well, I know the same fool who has been rooting for various Middle East despots and movements, always to be proven wrong at the end. His problem is that he always listens to ‘insiders’, be they in Cairo or Riyadh or Abu Dhabi. That is, when he is not gleaning wisdom from his Arab airport taxi drivers (invariably named Abed, Abduh, Abbadi, Abdul, Abu Lama’a etc…..)

As I have often opined: the West often seems blind to one fact about the Middle East region, Saddam Hussein is always with us. One Saddam is dead, now long live the new Saddam……fully supported and armed by the West, just as the old one .

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

This Week: Ashoura and Hezbollah Missiles, Trump to Raid the UN, F Troop to Man a Fort Trump in Poland……

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“On Thursday, Nasrallah claimed Israeli strikes in Syria to prevent Hizbollah from acquiring precise missiles were ineffective.”I tell (Israel) no matter what it did to cut the route, it is over. It has already been achieved,” he said, adding that Hizbollah “now possesses precision missiles and non-precision and weapons capabilities.” Nasrallah was speaking during a traditional televised speech at the end of Ashoura, a top religious holy day for Shia Muslims that lasts for 10 days. He told supporters to be confident and Israelis to be concerned of Hizbollah’s capabilities. Nasrallah said the balance of power in the region has changed…..”
Normally Nasrallah, whatever you think of him, is not known as a boaster, not much anyway (unlike you know who). Even the Israelis especially know that and now seem to plan and act/react accordingly.

But I am not sure about his claim that “the balance of power in the region had changed“. I am not completely sold on this one. Although it is probably true that in the war of July 2006 Hezbollah had a few thousand limited-range missiles, and now they are reported to have close to 150,000 longer-range precision missiles. In spite of occasional bombing (and other) attempts to stop the flow. Besides, they are very likely to have developed their own domestic know-how over the years.

Jerusalem Post headlined what it called Breaking News! “Trump to hold meeting with Netanyahu, other leaders at UN General Assembly“…
To which I tweeted: Breaking! Shocker Indeed: Amazing development! Trump and Netanyahu! Trump to meet his chief cheerleader at UN General Assembly!

Poland‘s slick President Duda suggested in Washington a permanent American base in his country be named Fort Trump. To be manned by a force called F Troop. I almost expected him to turn to his host and call him “The Duke”.
I commented that this President Duda sure knows how to kiss it!

Middle East/Arab social media are making fun of the Russian reaction to the Ilyushin shootdown near Latakia, in which Israeli warplanes hid behind the Russian Ilyushin to bomb a Syrian airbase. Many Russian military personnel died. They recall that Arab governments always threatened the same “severe reaction” to Israeli violations, which usually meant: they won’t do nada. Although a few claimed that Netanyahu’s freedom to bomb wherever he wants in Syria in support of the Islamist groups may be nearing an end after this.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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