All posts by Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Dr. Mohammed Haider Ghuloum: trained as an economist, been called a few other names..... الشرقية للبنين- المتنبي- ثانوية الشويخ

New America? From the New Deal and the New Frontier to the Banality of “I Really Don’t Care Do U”…..

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First there was the real Western Frontier that shaped America.

Then there was the New Deal of FDR.

Then the Greatest Generation that helped save the world.

Then there was the New Frontier of JFK which ushered the graceful but brief era of Camelot.

Then the Great Society derailed by Vietnam and IndoChina….

Then the heroic era of NASA and space exploration culminating in the Apollo projects and what came later spanned a couple of generations.

Now we are on the eve of the Fourth of July 2018. Deep in the opportunistic age of MAGA which has ushered in the silly but very accurately expressive era of “I Really Don’t Care Do U“.

And That’s Not All, Folks……

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Nuclear Talks: Trump Gives Up His Ace Too Soon, Anyone Remember Otto Warmbier?….

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Secretary of States Mike Pompeo has been tweeting a storm of optimism about his meetings with North Korea’s top killer and survivor Kim Yong Chol. Example “Good progress today during our meetings with Kim Yong Chol and his team. North Korea and the world would benefit greatly from the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula…

@POTUS has made it clear that if Kim Jong-un denuclearizes, there is a brighter path for #DPRK. We envision a strong, connected, secure, and prosperous #NorthKorea that maintains its cultural heritage but is integrated into the community of nations.

The proposed summit offers a historic opening for @POTUS and Chairman Kim to boldly lead U.S. and #DPRK into a new era of peace, prosperity, and security. Our countries face a pivotal moment in which it could be nothing short of tragic to let this opportunity go to waste.

Here is what I think and what I tweeted to him this morning: “Kim Jong Un knows that only his nuclear weapons got him to the summit with @potus. If you think Kim will give up his golden goose, his existing nuclear weapons, you are one of two: 1) more delusional than #potus (Donald Trump) or 2) A greater dissembler than Trump.
Both unlikely… …

Of course this get-together might be easier for a reason. Benyamin Netanyahu and his Saudi allies are not breathing heavily down the necks of both Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo against any deal allowing North Korea to remain a nuclear power, as it certainly will.
So, folks, get ready for a nuclear North Korea: Donald Trump has already given up his best hand just for the pleasure of meeting with the man he called Fat Little Rocket Man…. right after throwing the family of Otto Otto Frederick Warmbier under the bus….

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

An Arabian Waldo Mystery in Ramadan: Where is Saudi Crown Prince Bin Salman?……

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Ramadan is a particular time when the Muslim, and Arab, worlds turn nocturnal and very sociable. Fasting from sunrise to sunset means reduced work hours and more sleep (siesta) hours during the daytime.
One important aspect of Ramadan is that people visit each other a lot at night, late into the night. Another aspect in the Persian Gulf area and in the Arabian Peninsula is that the rulers exchange visits with various groups of people, and the media tend to extensively cover these visits.

Ramadan this year has been strange in Saudi Arabia. The normally sycophantic and attentive Saudi media have been devoid of much news about the country’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), the son of King Salman. No news or photos or video clips of the ruling prince being out and about.
This has led to rumors in some Arab media and social media that the Crown Prince is either dead, or possibly wounded in last month’s alleged shooting down of a drone, or is being held by rivals. This has been encouraged by some Iranian propaganda. But all this is highly unlikely.

Some sources have even suggested that there may have been a counter-coup by more fundamentalist elements in the royal family or the religious establishment, and that may explain why several well-known women’s rights activists were arrested two week ago.

My own sources have not been able to locate the prince or to locate the real sources of any of these rumors swirling around him .
Still, it is an unusual situation for the most powerful strongman in Saudi Arabia of the past few decades to vanish, joining Waldo. He, a business and political partner of Donald Trump, Benyamin Netanyahu, and one of the Kushners, ….

Of course one likely explanation is that the prince is just sick and doesn’t want to publicize it and give his domestic rivals any ideas. Or maybe he fancies himself a new prophet and is meditating in a desert cave or more likely on his yacht, awaiting an angel to visit him. He may just pop out into a blast of media attention any day (or any night)……

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Trump as the Sixth Pillar of Wahhabi Islam? Sisters of the Faithful…… Redux

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It is the first anniversary of the absurd Arab-American-Islamic Summit that was held in Riyadh one year ago. The Summit of the buyers (Arab kings, princes & potentates), the bought (Donald Trump & the Kushners), and the hired (poor African & Asian countries). So, I am copying my old post here:

At the Riyadh Wahhabi-American Summit, it looked like the princes and potentates were ready to change the basic tenets of Islam to appease the man who has made Islamophobia more acceptable in America. Their new American Idol, Donald J Trump.


Islam has five pillars that define a Muslim (all Muslims be they Sunni, Shi’a, or Wahhabi):

  • Shahada, Assertion, that Allah is the One God and that Mohammed is his Prophet.
  • Donating the Zakat (Alms) for the poor and needy. (I can almost hear American Republicans groaning).
  • Fasting the Holy Month of Ramadan (no food, drink, lies, and sex: from dawn to dusk).
  • Five daily prayers facing Mecca (originally Muslims prayed while facing Jerusalem, until they conquered the Prophet’s hometown and disposed of the idols).
  • Making the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca/Madinah. But this last one is not completely mandatory: it is only for “those who are able and can afford it”.

Now there may have been a subtle change, given the Wahhabi festival last week celebrating Donald Trump and his clan at the Summit in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

Trump was treated like more than a new Caliph, more like a combination Caliph and Angel. The Saudi princes’ generosity with their people’s money and their controlled media saw to that. Trump’s wife and daughter, the only women at the various meetings and parties, were almost elevated by the Wahhabis to the rank of “Sisters of the Faithful” (in Arabic: اخوات المؤمنين ).

Not necessarily bad in itself, if Donald himself wasn’t around to bask in the glory and to believe what they said about him. Melania and Ivanka: as Catholic and Jewish ‘Sisters of the Faithful’. It is not the first time in the history of Islam. But Donald Trump is the first of his kind in the history of the American Republic.

In Riyadh, his eyes were so focused on the money, hundreds of billions of petro-money, that he may have unwittingly handed America’s foreign policy, and her future wars in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf to a bunch of incompetent, corrupt, and greedy princes.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Nuclear Deals: When the Dotard Never Meets the Fat Little Rocket Man……..

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Wrote this rant yesterday, before the anticipated cancellation of the improbable Trump-Kim summit:

Here is my take on the very doubtful summit between Donald Trump and Loren Leader Kim Jong Un
Trump: I’ll guarantee the safety of Kim Jong Un if deal is made….

Kim Jong Un: But what if the US president changes?

Trump: We stand by our deals, no matter who is the president. We, in America, don’t violate our treaties and agreements, especially those sanctioned by the UN Security Council…. Just ask Mike Pompeo……

Kim Jong UN: Bwahahahahahahaha…

Trump: Look, Kimmy, I’ve already had commemorative coins designed, with both of us on them…. I’ve started measurements for my Nobel Peace Prize ceremony suits. Melania has commissioned dresses by Givenchy (great American couturier…. MAGA)…..

Kim Jong UN: What about the Iran Deal? They stopped nuclear work and now you are starving them, maybe going to war against them…

Trump: There is an easy explanation. That was not my deal. Obama’s deal, his fault. He was Kenyan, you know…..

Kim Jong UN: I’m not buying this… give me a better explanation…

Trump: Ever hear of Netanyahu? Adelson? Have you seen all that Saudi and Emirati green? Billions of it for the taking? Evangelicals trying to save wayward Israeli souls before it is too late…….

(Reports this morning say White House is still selling commemorative coins and memorabilia of the cancelled Singapore Summit)

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Logical Nuclear Thinking of North Korea: Lessons of Iraq, Libya, and Iran…………….

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This is a reprint of a post of mine from last July:


In the beginning…..
Donald Trump ignored North Korea and its petulant young dictator. Mr. Trump has been focusing on his “other” foreign policy issues. In fact up to recently he has been taking a long victory lap celebrating his own alleged self-styled loot of billions of Saudi oil money during his coronation by desperate Arab and Muslim princes and potentates in Riyadh last May. All he had to do was tell them that he does not care about human rights and that Iran exports terrorism (but apparently not the nice Wahhabi type of terrorism of ISIS and Al Qaeda and AQAP and Nusra).

Trump has also been focusing on the Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA), since before the election. Trump of course does not know much about it, that it is a good deal for all sides according to international consensus (with the exception of the ruling princes of Saudi Arabia, the Empire of Bahrain, Israel, and the paid-for US Congress). Apparently the one draw-back of the Iran deal for Trump, the Republican Party, (and hawkish Democrats) is that it is a signature achievement of President Barack Obama. So Mr. Trump had promised to revisit the deal, perhaps to “withdraw” the USA from it. His first National Security Chief Mike Flynn, a Turkish agent and possibly a Russian agent as well, threatened more serious action against Iran. Before Trump was forced to fire him.

Among the Iranians themselves there are many who are also disappointed by how the nuclear deal has turned out. And by the ratcheted up threats from Washington and the nearly monthly new sanctions being voted by the US Knesset Congress and Senate. They also remember what happened in Iraq and Libya.

Back to Kim Jong Un: he could not be denied his share of American attention for long. He is that kind of dictator. Not long after Trump was inaugurated Kim started tossing around warhead-capable medium-range and long-range missiles. He or his henchmen also murdered a young American student-captive in Pyongyang.
And one more thing that can be unforgivable from my point of view: he gave Dennis Rodman another opportunity to be seen on network news.

Kim Jong Un also certainly well remembers what happened to Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi.  Apparently Saddam had given up his WMD, but Iraq was invaded and he was overthrown anyway.

Libyan dictator Gaddafi gave up his WMD and paid billions in “compensation” to Western citizens and corporations. He was attacked and overthrown by NATO. He and one of his sons were allowed to be tortured and killed by some rebels. Now Libya is a failed and divided state.

Kim must have started thinking:

  • Gaddafi (of Libya) gave up WMD. He also gave up billions of dollars to Western countries and to victims of the Pan Am airliner bombing over Lockerbie in 1988. But what did he get? His new friends in NATO overthrew him then got him killed as soon as they got a chance. He and one of his sons were tortured and murdered by possibly the same people who later murdered four American diplomats in Benghazi. His country is now a failed state beset by Islamic Fundamentalists of the Wahhabi sect and by tribal infighting.
  • Iran heeded world power demands and reduced its nuclear program- and according to IAEA and world intelligence services it is abiding by the JCPOA Nuclear Deal. And Iran now is being seriously threatened by Donald Trump who is also hopelessly trying to form a futile alliance of hapless Arab and Muslim despots and potentates against it. These are mostly the countries whose citizens have actually committed terrorism in the Middle East and in the West. And both houses of the US Congress keep piling up sanctions against Iran, Kim knows….

If I were Kim, I would possibly perhaps per chance think that it is not just the WMD and nuclear stuff that the West, and the US government, has a beef with. Maybe it goes beyond that. If Iraq and Libya were attacked after they gave up their WMD, and if Iran is being threatened after it reduced its nuclear capability……
You get the drift: Kim will think that as soon as he gives up his nuclear and missile program, he might as well give up the ghost….

And it is hard to blame him for thinking along these lines, if you think about it (or you can start reading this post from the beginning)……..

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

The Strategic Genius of John Bolton: The Gun-Shy Man Who Seeks More Endless Muslim Wars……

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“Early in the George W. Bush administration, Bolton opposed and undercut Secretary of State Colin Powell’s attempt to pursue a compromise with a still nonnuclear North Korea, advocating isolation instead. More than 15 years later Kim Jong Un has a substantial nuclear arsenal and long-range missiles, and will now negotiate with Trump from a position of strength. Are we about to repeat that play in Iran?………”  The Atlantic

“In a series of interviews with The Atlantic magazine published Thursday, Mr. Obama said a number of American allies in the Persian Gulf — as well as in Europe — were “free riders,” eager to drag the United States into grinding sectarian conflicts that sometimes had little to do with American interests. He showed little sympathy for the Saudis, who have been threatened by the nuclear deal Mr. Obama reached with Iran. The Saudis, Mr. Obama told Jeffrey Goldberg, the magazine’s national correspondent, “need to find an effective way to share the neighborhood and institute some sort of cold peace.” Reflexively backing them against Iran, the president said, “would mean that we have to start coming in and using our military power to settle scores. And that would be in the interest neither of the United States nor of the Middle East.”

That is the problem now. Bolton failed to get George W. Bush into more wars, but he managed to sabotage any prospect for peaceful resolutions in Korea or the Middle East. Not a bad achievement for a man of (at best) mediocre intelligence who assiduously evaded the Vietnam War, which he supported as long as others did the fighting. Ergo:  a classic chickenhawk. Exactly like many other warmonger neocons including Dick Cheney and Donald Trump.

Bolton is set now to push a new president, one who has no knowledge of world affairs, towards more wars. Mostly Muslim wars at the behest of Arab oil kings and potentates and an extreme right-wing Israeli regime. While he was marginal in the Bush era, he is considered “knowledgeable’ in the Trump administration.

That is because “in an administration of the blind, the one-eyed chickenhawk is king”.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Eyes on Aden and Oman: How the Saudis Were Outsmarted by their UAE Allies…….

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The war in Yemen has been going on for over three years. The best armed military forces in the Middle East are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and they have been fighting and constantly bombing North Yemen and the capital Sanaa which is held by an alliance of Houthi tribal fighters and elements of the former Yemeni Army. The Arab neighbors even have had heavy involvement of American and British personnel. But the war has been a failure, so far.

Now reports indicate that the Americans are getting more directly involved against the Houthi alliance. Perhaps Mr. Trump thinks he can somehow change the course of the war. He has not learned the recent lessons of Afghanistan or the history of Yemen. But then they say he does not read (or write). A futile war so far, although the Saudi-UAE coalition have hopes that Trump will try to pull their royal nuts from that fire. Something their bought and well-paid foreign mercenaries from Africa, Australia, and Colombia have failed to do. But Donald Trump does not come cheap: it will be for a fee of many billions of dollars.

The Yemen case is complex: it involves multi-faceted wars involving various sides. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are fighting the ruling Houthi powers in the capital of Sanaa, claiming they are trying to eject Iranian influence from their border region. That would be a passable excuse, except that they have failed to show us one single Iranian or Lebanese captive from the battles in Yemen. Then there are Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and now the Saudi invasion has also expanded the domain of ISIS in Yemen.

Then there are the Southern secessionists (Hirak) who want to regain the independence of Aden and the Southern provinces.

But a major new headache for the Saudis are their current allies in the United Arab Emirates. The UAE has a citizen population just barely over one million, and it also has some 7-8 million foreign expatriate laborers and others who rotate every few years. The secret of why it is doing better than their Saudi allies is their foreign mercenaries plus better training for their own native forces. They have formed elite units of fighters from among experienced foreign mercenaries, and have outmaneuvered the Saudis out of contention for Southern Yemen. They effectively control the urban parts of Southern Yemen, and they have made hints at supporting the secession (or return to independence) of the South. Even the Saudis may have come to accept that.

So, the Saudis are stuck with facing the tough Houthis just to their south. They take their frustrations on Yemen by destroying the infrastructure with daily bombings, with reported targeting and mid-air refueling done by alleged American and British experts.

Enter the case of the GCC member country of Oman, actually a reluctant member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Oman is an interesting case, the only Gulf state that had built a small overseas empire up to the late 19th century. Now the UAE borders the neutral Gulf country of Oman from the north. Oman always keeps away from Gulf and Arab petty disputes, preferring to face towards the Indian Ocean and Iran. You never hear or read of Oman complaining about Iranian (or Lebanese) meddling, unlike the ruling family of the Saudi satrapy of Bahrain, for example.

If the UAE rulers can control South Yemen, they would be squeezing Oman from the Southwest as well. They will be able, along with their Saudi partners in war, to wreak havoc in Oman, possibly make her face some new problems, although like Qatar, Oman has better ties with Iran and other countries. The Marxists who ruled the independent South Yemen tried to encroach into Oman in the 1970s, but failed.

The Saudis and Emiratis have tried recently, through their media and proxies, to coerce and pressure Kuwait to the north. That attempt failed spectacularly, given the political history of Kuwait and that it is a special case and shares borders with Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. The Emiratis are also reportedly creating (actually renting) bases on the impoverished Horn of Africa, not bad for a tiny Gulf country. It is unlikely the Saudis will be comfortable with Emirati (actually Abu Dhabi) influence encircling them to the south either. There are already increasing signs of Saudi discomfort that the much smaller UAE is outsmarting them in Yemen (and in Libya). You can read it in some media and in the social media comments of some top officials. 

So, the Arab places to keep an eye on in the next few months and years are South Yemen and Oman.

More to come……

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Dhahran Summit of the Incompetent and the Impotent and General Sisi’s Plastic Missiles……..

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Arab leaders started their annual summit yesterday. This year it is in Dhahran (Zahran), Saudi Arabia, right on the Persian Gulf, right over the oil fields. Right across the waterway from Iran and the scowling ayatollahs. One can imagine that you can see the mountains of Iran if you squint hard enough, if you can see through all the Western naval warships clogging my Gulf.
These Western warships that are there presumably to deter an alleged Iranian attack that will never materialize, that has not materialized in over two centuries.

So far in my lifetime (and in my father’s and my grandfather’s lifetime), the only aggression in my Gulf has been committed by one Arab country against another, in one case by one Arab country against Iran:

Kuwait was invaded from what is now called Saudi Arabia at least twice, last time in the 1920s.
Kuwait was often threatened and then actually invaded and occupied by Baathist Iraq in 1990. Only the USA and Western allies liberated it, with some token Arab forces.

Yemen was invaded at least twice from Saudi Arabia. Large chunks of its territory were annexed, Israeli-style, by the Saudis during the last century.

Yemen has been, still is, the target of daily bombing and genocide by Saudi Arabia with active British-American help for the past three years.

Bahrain has been the beneficiary of a joint Saudi-UAE expeditionary force that helps the ruling family crush a popular uprising and the popular calls for reform.

Qatar was the target of a Saudi-instigated coup in the 1990s. It failed and several high Saudi intelligence officials were jailed in Doha for years. Now Qatar is again the target of a Cuba-style economic and total blockade from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Bahrain and Qatar have had their territorial disputes and clashes for decades.

Iraq invaded Iran in 1980, starting a war that lasted eight year. That losing war bankrupted Iraq and was the beginning of the end of the Baath regime of Saddam Hussein.
And there is more….

This Dhahran summit was weakly-attended: several Arab leaders sent second or third or even fourth rate representatives. The Emir of Qatar was smart enough to stay home; he probably did not want to be taken hostage by the fellow Arab princes of Riyadh. He remembers what happened to Lebanon’s Saad Hariri last year. Algeria, Oman, Morocco, even the UAE downgraded their delegates.

Bashar Al Assad would not stoop to attend the summit even if he were invited. There was no mention of the GCC crisis, of the Arab blockade of Qatar, of the Western attack on Syria.

The Saudi king declared that the Dhahran Summit will be called the Jerusalem Summit (presumably to celebrate his new friend Trump’s move of the US embassy).

In recent decades, Arab summits have been impotent gatherings of incompetent leaders. In the shadow of the huge American and British armadas and military bases, the Saudi king talked against “foreign” interference in Arab affairs. As if the NATO military forces and bases dotting my Gulf region were purely Arab forces.

In my lifetime, I have never seen the Arab world in such disarray and weakness, largely controlled by outside powers: be they American, Iranian, Israeli, or Turkish. This was probably the worst summit of them all, and the most hypocritical.

Its incompetence was summarized by Egyptian dictator Generalissimo Al Sisi, who raged against what he called “plastic” missiles being fired from Yemen in retaliation for constant Saudi bombing. I believe Al Sisi meant “ballistic” missiles. But he was onto something, inadvertently. The huge Arab armies, very expensively armed by the West to face a non-existing enemy across the Persian Gulf, are almost like “plastic” missiles. They are useless without Western help, guidance, and management. And very likely they also need imported personnel to operate them…

Cheers (if you can)
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

 

Tweets on GroupThink: Alleged Syrian Chemical Red Lines and the Push for a ‘Trump’ Quagmire……….

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It is not clear what happened in Douma, Syria yesterday. US media and many politicians are accepting the rebel Islamist narrative that the regime used chemical weapons in Douma, just as the regime was about to take control of Douma anyway (without use of chemicals). I don’t know what happened, but I carry a bag of salt over my shoulder. Some of my (modified) tweets about the recent alleged chemical attacks in Syria:

Sen. Graham (former desk-bound lawyer for USAF- US Air Force): “he’s going to look weak in the eyes of Russia and Iran
He sure knows how to rile up the dotard…..
But Graham also has never seen a Middle East war he didn’t like….

I: He can punish Syria by having USAF carpet-bomb Damascus with millions of his inaugural photos…….

Hey, @realDonaldTrump, this is still valid —-> Donald Trump in Syria: Not Beau Geste, not Dien Bien Phu, not Khe Sanh, not Desert Storm……. 

US main media is urging “an attack” against Syria…
Saudi Arabian princes urging a war against Iran….
Israeli Likud urging war against Iran….
John Bolton acting as a Fifth Column for all of the above….

UN Security Council to meet today about Syrian chemical attack. Will not discus Israeli “illegal” air attack on Syria. Will not discuss US supported genocide in Yemen.

Russians claim they are in Douma now, see no chemical weapons effects. Call it a fabrication.

Most US GroupThink media are afraid to question all allegations….

All this obsession with “Red Lines“….. All this macho crap….
Democrats whining about Trump “abandoning” Syria ……

No mention of Obama….
Yet when when the quagmire materializes, they will scream a “Trump Quagmire!”

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum