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

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

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“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…….

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

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………

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“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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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“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

Viva Trump y Allahu Akbar: an Arab Islamic International Day of Democracy…….

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

They say today is considered the International Day of Democracy. Top leaders of the US State Department celebrated the day, as did many other organizations.

They say the Arab League, the Gulf GCC, and the Organization of Islamic States are also celebrating this International Day of Democracy, each in their own unique, eccentric, unprecedented way. While awaiting the final demise of Mr. Trump’s ill-fated un-original money-focused idea of an Arab Nato. You can say what you want: cheeky, chutzpah, etc.

A spokesman for one of these groups opined that: Alhamdulellah (Allah be Praised), without our own unique Islamic Arab form of democracy we would not have such great leaders as we now have. They can lead us forward, backward, and sideways, as circumstances require.  

Another stressed that the region’s rulers, and hence its peoples, have no beef with “a government of the people, by the people and for the people”, as long as it is far away across the Atlantic Ocean.
He concluded with: Viva Donald Trump and Allahu Akbar (God is Greater), possibly in that order for the time being (pending certain upcoming elections and a certain ongoing investigation).

Another one was quoted:Viva Kushner y Greenblatt y Friedman. Turned out it was not Mahmoud Abbas of the PLO.


An Egyptian voice in the background squeaked: Viva Generalissimo Al Sisi, restorer and father of our democracy.

Happy democracy day everyone, and good luck…

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

American Oligarchy Politics: Trump-Pence Special Blue Collar MAGA Patriotic Average Joe Event……

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

                  American Oligarchy

Trump-Pence Special Blue Collar MAGA Patriotic Average Joe Event: 

Cover charge: $35,000- $50,000
+ Photo-Op with Dumbo: $100,000
+Share roundtable with Dumbo: $250,000/person

Blue collar average six-pack Joe types (a k a loser types) invited at no extra costs other than those listed here.

 

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Game of Musical Pockets Between the Trumps and Gulf Princes, Fuzzy iPhone Math and Immigration…..

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

Some Arab media have recently quoted an Israeli source that First Son-In-Law Jared Kushner and some Trump associate and lawyer named Jason Greenblatt are using several allied Persian Gulf leaders and potentates as ATM cash machines. For their own financial advantage.
Previously, some media had quoted certain Persian Gulf princes & potentates as claiming that in fact it is they who have Kushner in their deep pocket.
Others had previously also quoted Kushner that the said Gulf princes are in his own pocket of questionable depth….

A bit confusing, this game of pockets, both deep and not so deep, no?

 

I saw some interesting figures put out by Spectator Index that:

It takes earnings of 133.3 average working days in Cairo (Egypt) to buy one iPhone X.
It takes earnings of 4.7 average working days in Zurich (Switzerland) to buy one iPhone.

Truly unfuzzy economic math that partly explains the recent westward and northward immigration surge. If you leave Cairo and go work in Zurich instead, you can buy 28.4 iPhones instead of only one, if you work for 133.3 days. And it can only get worse for the foreseeable future, unless Generalissimo Field Marshal Al Sisi and his ruling military Junta can perform a miracle.

On a lighter yet potentially more serious more ominous note: President Donald Trump was quoted today about Hurricane Florence that “it’s tremendously big and tremendously wet”
No doubt, ‘tremendously wet‘ is a higher category than merely ‘bigly wet’.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Middle East Roundup: From China to Iran, Iraq, West Bank Exile, and Suggestive Saudi Potato Chips…….

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

Round-up of recent Middle East news and some comments:

In Iraq, it looks like Muqtada Al Sadr has abandoned his near-alliance with caretaker PM Haidar Al Abadi. He has now called for Abadi to resign.
My comment? If it holds up, that will seal the fate of the incompetent PM. Alliance with Muqtada was Abadi’s only route to remaining in power, after he threw his Iranian and PMU allies under the bus to appease Donald Trump.

Israeli and other media report Israel has banned teenage Palestinian protester Ahed al-Tamimi of the Occupied West Bank from traveling abroad.
My comment? That’s freedom for you, in the “only democracy” in the Middle East. But it’s done all over the Middle East, banning travel of dissidents From Tehran to Riyadh to Cairo and Algeria and beyond. It is a form of internal exile, to be locked up within the borders. Probably better than a prison or a dungeon. Unless you can escape into external exile before it is too late.

Saw an article in Foreign Policy to the effect that: China’s Continent-Spanning Trains Are Running Half-Empty. Beijing’s funding dozens of new rail routes as part of its global ambitions — and losing money on every one. So what’s the long game?
My comment? That is China. Meanwhile, back in the USA, Mr. Trump’s Infrastructure non-plan is still just hot air, unexplained and likely misunderstood by Trump, opposed by a small-minded miserly short-sighted Congress.

Reports that the US administration has warned Syria not to attack the Jihadists holed up in Idlib. Some US sources even claimed the Syrian regime is preparing to use chemical weapons against the rebels in the region. Idlib is the last major outpost of the Al Qaeda-led Salafist terrorists in Syria.
My comment? Who would have thunk it! That a day would come when the USA (Trump Admin) is allied to an Al Qaeda Salafist branch in Syria.
September 11, 2001 forgotten, buried in Wahhabi oil money. And how do they know the Syrian regime will use WMD? Did the Jihadis tell them, directly or through Israeli or Arab sources?

A piece sponsored by the Atlantic Council suggested that “Iran and the US Should Use the UN to Reopen a Channel for Dialogue”.
My comment? To start with: Trump has just reneged on the UN-adopted JCPOA Nuclear Deal. As a rule, US Iran policy (and Middle East policy) should be formulated in the United States, in Washington DC, as it was in the past, not in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem (or Las Vegas or Evangelical-LalaLand). And it should not be based on the whims and purchasing power of a few Persian Gulf absolute princes and potentates with money to burn.

The Washington Post reports from the Democratic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that a man was detained in Saudi Arabia for eating potato chips with a woman — and then posting the video.
My comment? Sharing a bag of potato chips with a woman in Saudi Arabia can be very suggestive. Especially if her whole face is completely covered with a burqa/niqab, which makes it even more suggestive, even if nobody can tell who she/he/it is.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

On American Foreign Policy, Middle East Quagmires, and Prostitution to Despots………

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“In our 65-plus years of experience working on U.S. Middle East policy, we’ve never seen anything like the Trump administration’s willingness to prostitute American interests to Saudi Arabia……. But nothing in the 70 plus-year history of U.S.-Saudi ties comes close to the cosmic groveling that now defines President Donald Trump’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and his slavish obeisance to its dangerous and irresponsible policies. Since Trump became president, the U.S. has enabled and supported a disastrous Saudi war in Yemen; watched as Riyadh launched a political and economic war against Qatar that’s split the Gulf Cooperation Council and enhanced Iran’s influence; stood by as the Saudis virtually kidnapped the pro-American Lebanese Prime Minister in a bungled attempt to weaken Hezbollah; remained silent while the Saudis under the guise of reform cracked down on journalists, bloggers, businessmen and anyone else ………”

Not pulling any punches here, but how true…… 

But it is now universally known that nothing impresses Donald Trump more than money, a lot of money, especially if the money belongs to others (which makes it questionable as to how much money he has himself). On a very primitive level, that is how he sees and judges people and nations. Including the United States (he probably couldn’t care less about the Constitution and its Bills and Amendments).

This explains his often-reported admiration for the likes of Rupert Murdoch or Sheldon Adelson. That is how he sees the Middle East. He sees Saudi princes with access to billions of dollars, with nobody to deny them or question them (nobody who is not dead, in prison, or in exile anyway). To him that is what should be admired. When he says the word “patriotism”, he means fealty to money only. In a way, his form of capitalism is an extremely primitive version of capitalism, a form that history has shown can be self-defeating.

In that sense he is as much a Saudi “patriot” or an Emirati “patriot” (or some East European or Israeli patriot) as an American “patriot”. It is all in the money, stupid.
And yes, he is prostituting American national interests, strategic long-term interests, for the sake of Saudi and other money, plus a lot of the phony praising of him that they mouth. Praising that they know is undeserved, as much as I do.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

A New American-Iranian Strategic Algebra Equation? All Options Are Not On The Table………

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“Iran’s supreme leader said Monday there would be neither war nor negotiations with the United States, and that the country’s problems were the result of government mismanagement more than renewed sanctions. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s comments add to the pressure on President Hassan Rouhani following a collapse in the currency and widespread protests over high prices and corruption. They also appeared to rule out any hope of fresh talks with Washington, which US President Donald Trump had proposed after walking out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions. “Beside sanctions, they are talking about war and negotiations… let me say a few words to the people: THERE WILL BE NO WAR, NOR WILL WE NEGOTIATE WITH THE U.S.,” Khamenei said via his official Twitter account in English…….”

“Khamenei.ir
@khamenei_ir
Aug 13
Recently, U.S. officials have been talking blatantly about us. Beside sanctions, they are talking about war and negotiations. In this regard, let me say a few words to the people: THERE WILL BE NO WAR, NOR WILL WE NEGOTIATE WITH THE U.S….”

So, then: All Options Are Not On the Table, the Iranians are saying…..

A favorite American Middle East policy statement over the past decade or two has been the obvious threat that: “all options are on the table.

Meaning: you, an uncooperative foreign (always Middle Eastern) nation, do what we say OR we have other options to use against you. You agree with us or you get: war, regime change, missiles. That has been the jingoistic policy under George W Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.

Now Trump has in effect declared and is waging an economic war of choice against a country that has never attacked the United States. Mainly at the behest of a couple of other influential foreign regimes and the domestic lobbyists of these foreign regimes (rich tail wagging greedy dog).

Yet Ali Khemenai now claims to have unilaterally changed the American policy toward his country, he has unilaterally taken the big “STICK” out of the equation, just as the Trump administration has unilaterally taken the international “CARROT” out of the Nuclear Deal equation by re-imposing and tightening an economic blockade of Iran.

Thus Khamenei has resorted to, nay adopted, another American foreign policy jargon: exceptionalism. Iranian foreign policy exceptionalism now facing American foreign policy exceptionalism.

No fuzzy Math there. You reduce one variable on one side of an algebraic equation, the other side must reduce a variable from the other side of the equation. To maintain the mathematical equilibrium and accuracy.


So: ALL OPTIONS ARE NOT ON THE TABLE
Or so the Iranians think, and hope……

Or so the Arab oil potentates and absolute princes (and the Likudniks) fear…….

One of them can be wrong….

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum