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

Presidential Name-Calling: Sticks and Stones from Washington to Pyongyang…..

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“Sticks and Stones may break my bones
But words will never hurt me…”
      Untrue children’s rhyme


Epithets and insults have been memorable these past two years. From the US presidential campaign to the post-election rallies to the UN General Assembly speeches. Almost all of them dished out by Donald Trump:

Look at That Face (Trump mocking Carly Fiorina)!

Little Rubio (Trumo mocking Marco, who famously   confided to the media that Trump has a small, er, hand)!

Lying Ted (Trump describing Sentor Ted Cruz)!

Low Energy (Trump about Jeb Bush? Ben Carson)!

Crooked Hillary (Trump for Clinton)!

Rocket Man (Trump about Kim Jong Un)!

Now the Iranians have picked up the term “rogue”, a favorite epithet used by US politicians against other nations. Trump and Rouhani traded “rogue” name-calling at the UN General Assembly this week.

But the top prize, the Oscar, the Nobel of epithets goes to an alleged North Korean Twitter source: “Impotent threats by international shouting magnate Donald Trump are dismissed, as the twitchings of a Dog licking its flea-riddled scrotum.”

That trumped Trump, and probably stumped him as well.

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

Epithets at the UN: Rogue Nations vs. Rogue Politicians…..

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

President Trump called Iran a “rogue nation” in his speech to the UN General assembly on Tuesday. This is an American political staple, an epithet US politicians often use for nations that they have disputes with, especially Iran. It implies a high degree of outlaw behavior. Of course most regimes/government commit some outlaw behavior abroad, if they can get away with it. It is all in the eye of the beholder.
Today, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani returned the favor: he called Mr. Trump a “rogue newcomer to world politics“. He also called him ignorant and hateful, unfit to be at the United Nations. He also returned the favor to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by calling him the leader of a “rogue and racist regime”.


So, now we have a duel of rogue regimes, apparently. But if every government calls its opponents “rogue” regimes, then that means the whole world is composed of rogue regimes….. assuming all have the same degree of credibility….
Nicht war?

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

Gulf Godfathers Competing for Israeli Love, but Real Target is U.S. Congress…..

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking


Tell Mike it was only business. I always liked him…” (Sal Tessio to Consigliere Tom Hagen: Godfather 1)

“Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made a discreet visit to Israel despite the fact that the Jewish state and Saudi Arabia do not have official diplomatic ties, Israeli and Arab media speculated earlier in the week. Rumors about the momentous visit, which was not confirmed by Israel, started swirling when Israel Radio’s diplomatic correspondent covering Arab affairs, Simon Aran, took to Twitter to announce the visit……. Israel Radio’s Arabic-language broadcast reported that the the senior figure was a “Saudi prince” who met with senior Israelis to discuss regional peace. According to the report, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry refused to comment………”

Qatar is trying to arrange meetings between its senior leadership and the heads of major Jewish American organizations during next week’s UN General Assembly. The natural gas-rich country has reached out to the heads of a number of prominent Jewish groups and asked if they would meet with the emir and crown prince while they visit New York City……….”

You’ve come a long way baby (addressing the Arab World).
Gone were the days when Palestine was the main, nay allegedly the only, Arab (and Muslim) cause. The excuse for all military coups and for absolute dynastic rule. Now it is on the verge of being a non-cause.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (non-elected Mayor of Ramallah) flies to Paris to join generously-paid American politicians (of both parties) in extolling the virtues of the Iranian terrorist cult Mujahideen Khalq (MEK). MEK/MKO was formerly an ally of Saddam Hussein and on the US terrorist list, but is now reportedly a joint project of the Mossad and Saudi royal princes.

Unofficial and semi-official “rumors” spread this week that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the country’s effective king, has “secretly” visited Israel, and neither side denies it. But much of official (and unofficial) Arab media ignored the alleged visit: apparently one doesn’t mention such visits in mixed or polite company. And if you do, there is a stiff price to pay, especially in other Gulf states and in Egypt. Apparently to the Arab princes Israel is like a proverbial mistress: the relationship is there but nobody talks about it in public. Even the secretly ISIS-loving Gulf Salafis, perennial Saudi fifth columnists, have completely ignored the visit (and other visits before it).

Not to be outdone, the rival Qatar‘s princes now scramble to send signals to pro-Israeli Jewish groups in New York that the Emir and his deputy would love to meet with them. The Qatari rulers have been facing repeated coup attempts from their big Gulf “sister” for twenty years, and now they have to put up with Donald Trump, a businessman whose instinct is to go with the highest bidder.

Now it is cool, it is hip, among certain Arab classes, especially in the Persian Gulf, to blow kisses and whisper sweet nothings to Israel. Especially to its current right-wing government. This seems to be especially true in the case of the two feuding Wahhabi dynasties of the Gulf GCC. Gone are the days when official Wahhabi clerics (and some diehard official Muslim Brothers) habitually called the Jewish people “descendants of monkeys and pigs” in their sermons.

Still, this is not true love. It is all about business. As Sal Tessio famously told Tom Hagen: “Tell Mike it was only business. I always liked him…” (Godfather 1)


But the true target of all this Arab royal serenading and wooing is not Israel, nor the Jewish people in general. The real target is the United States Congress (both houses and both parties). The current U.S Congress may be hopeless and useless in passing domestic policy, but it can do a lot of damage in the Middle East. As much as Donald Trump seems determined to cause. And the princes and potentates know it, hence the appearance of lust.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Trump Facing the Ghosts of Iraq and Colin Powell: Seeking Another Slam Dunk in the Persian Gulf from Pompeo…….

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking


“US intelligence officials are under pressure from the White House to produce a justification to declare Iran in violation of a 2015 nuclear agreement, in an echo of the politicisation of intelligence that led up to the Iraq invasion, according to former officials and analysts. The collapse of the 2015 deal between Tehran, the US and five other countries – by which Iran has significantly curbed its nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief – would trigger a new crisis over nuclear proliferation at a time when the US is in a tense standoff with North Korea. Intelligence analysts, chastened by the experience of the 2003 Iraq war, launched by the Bush administration on the basis of phoney evidence of weapons of mass destruction, are said to be resisting the pressure to come up with evidence of Iranian violations……….”
The Guardian

I had thought nobody would want to be another Colin Powell, an honorable military general who was essentially tricked by the Neocons into lying to the United Nations Security Council about Iraq’s WMD before the 2003 war.

But I may have been wrong: UN Ambassador Nikki Haley seems willing to go to any length to make a phony point about Iran’s nuclear program, to satisfy the boss. But then she was a South Carolina politician until just six months ago, which means she is used to anything goes. But unfortunately for the stubborn Neocons and warmongers Haley does not have the trust and credibility of a Colin Powell, a respected general tested by the fires of war. She is becoming more and more a female Trump.

There is another missing tool for the Neocon warmongers who yearn for another military brawl in the Persian Gulf. Nobody is willing to provide the “Slam Dunk” seal of approval Donald Trump will need to create another North Korean-style problem on the Persian Gulf. CIA Director Mike Pompeo has been eerily and professional correctly silent on this issue. Unlike the CIA heads of the past 25 years who eagerly sought TV cameras and microphones.

My guess is that the US Intelligence professionals are not willing to be used as unprofessional tools of the politicians anymore. Not even as tools of of a loud-mouthed leader, not even the loudest American mouth of the past hundred plus years.


Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Which Saudi King will Visit Donald Trump? What about Sisi, the Big Magical Globe, and Male Exotic Dancers…….

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“Saudi Arabia’s king will visit Washington in early 2018, according to a White House readout on the monarch’s latest call with Donald Trump.The three-sentence statement did not elaborate on the substance of the US president’s conversation with King Salman bin Abdulaziz, other than to note the two leaders discussed “ways to continue advancing shared priorities, including enhancing security and prosperity in the Middle East”. However, it did state that the Saudi monarch had agreed to visit the White House “in early 2018″…….”

My very own global correspondent has added: Saudi King Salman will visit Trump early next year, if he is still king of Saudi Arabia. Otherwise the new king, so far slated to be his favorite son Mohammed Bin Salman (affectionately called MBS in the palace), will do the visit. The timing of the Washington pilgrimage/Hajj in that case will depend on if and when the new king replaces his father on the throne.
It almost like a race: whether the royal visit precedes or follows the new king taking the throne. Some Saudi exiles who claim to know are betting that King Salman will not be king for long: some give him weeks, others give him only a few days from now.

My global correspondent also is not certain if the Saudi King will try to create a certain magic of the Riyadh Summit last May. That would require that he bring along a certain magical white ball (globe), and perhaps Generalissimo Sisi of Egypt as well, as per this following photo and my appropriate comments at the time—>

 

No, not this one below, this was just an irreverent Scandinavian mockery of some serious global Arabian/American magic of the May summit—>

It is also not clear whether the king will ask for a complete recreation of the magic of the Riyadh Summit in May. Complete with the Guru Stephen Bannon, Herr Doctor Sebastian Gorka (PhD), the all-male Arabian exotic sword dancers, and the other more fetching accoutrements.


Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

A Season of Hurricanes: Role of Western Duplicity in Unleashing the Kim Jong Un Crisis…….

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

What a  week it was…
First came Hurricane Harvey and its terrible human and economic effects…..
Then we were reminded of Hurricane Kim Jong Un and his missiles
Not to mention Hurricane Trump and his incomplete gaggle of cabinet members and assistants. The Trump Administration leaders have all apparently read The Art of the Deal“, and they seek to apply it to international relations. Adapting a New York real-estate businessman’s experiences as gospel for how to deal with Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Europe and others is an act of folly. And the most eager adopter of this hustler’s Art of the Deal is the UN ambassador, Nikki Haley.  A very dangerous development, which neither Defense Secretary Mattis (not necessarily a moderate) nor Secretary of State Tillerson may be able to offset. Haley seems to speak for Trump (probably also to Trump), in his language, when she tries to bluff the rest of the world. It will not work.

Which brings us back to North Korea. The Trump administration has been urging North Korea to “come to the table”, but the goal is obvious:  Give up your nuclear weapons and you will find us reasonable, if not downright friendly.
And don’t mind the wink, wink. Don’t mind what is happening to the Iranians now with tightened sanctions and daily threats of war….

Except that Kim Jong Un, detestable dangerous dictator that he may be, is not that stupid. He knows what happened to Saddam Hussein (Iraq) and Muammar Gaddafi (Libya) when they gave up their WMDs under Western urging. He sees and hears and reads the daily threats of war and new sanctions by Donald Trump and the spineless US Congress (both parties) against Iran AFTER she accepted a deal to reduce her nuclear program under JCPOA. Kim may be unpalatable, but he is not stupid. Here is what I posted here last July 6. Read it:

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

Donald Trump’s Mission Accomplished in Afghanistan: Defying History, Bluffing the Taliban……..

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President Trump was quoted after his Afghanistan speech as stressing that “in the end, we will win in Afghanistan“.
He is going for a victory in a region where no foreign power achieved lasting victory in some 200 years. He is imitating the famous George W. Bush claim of “Mission Accomplished (in Iraq)’. Only Trump is doing it backwards: he is already predicting that he will accomplish the mission, whatever the mission is. Most likely the best mission at this stage is to get out.

Mr. Trump left the details of his Afghan plan vague, meaning there is no real Afghan plan. He is trying to bluff the Taliban, just as he tried to bluff the North Korean regime and Iran and failed. War is not a real estate deal in Manhattan, war doesn’t lend itself to bluffing.

The real Trump plan is most likely based on a desire to avoid being called “the loser of Afghanistan” before the 2020 elections. So he will dabble in the Afghan war for a couple of years, bide his time, shoring up the hopelessly corrupt regime in Kabul. just as Nixon shored up a corrupt regime in Saigon for a few years and ended up losing all of Indo-China.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Nuclear Bluffing and Bullying: a Silly Question by Nikki Haley, a Stern Warning by Iran……..

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking


“The United States wants to know if the United Nations atomic watchdog plans to inspect Iranian military sites to verify Tehran’s compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said on Tuesday. Haley will meet with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials in Vienna on Wednesday for what she described as a fact-finding mission, which is part of President Donald Trump’s review of the deal Iran made with world powers to curb its nuclear program in return for the lifting of most sanctions. “If you look … at past Iranian behavior, what you’ve seen is there have been covert actions at military sites, at universities, things like that,” Haley, a member of Trump’s cabinet, told Reuters in an interview. ……… She said she was traveling to Vienna to ask questions, not to push the IAEA to do anything……….”

What a silly lady Nikki Haley can be when pressed by Donald Trump. Traveling to Vienna to pressure the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to “do anything”. Anything like what?
It is shocking that apparently nobody in the Trump administration knows if the Nuclear Deal does or does not cover conventional military sites. It does not. Doesn’t anybody over there read these agreements? Don’t these ambulance chasers have lawyers in international law among them?


It is so obvious the Trump Administration has “decided” that Iran is breaking the nuclear deal, even as they know that it is not. Trump (or his son in law Jared Kushner) is pressuring Nikki Haley, and she is pressuring the IAEA, which is an international organization not beholden to Trump. The Europeans have already made it clear they want no part of Trump’s new ploy: they sent their foreign minister, Federica Mogherini to Tehran for the inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The Iranians are apparently fed up with the silly bluffing and attempts at cheap bullying by the Trump Administration. They took a page from the North Korea book: they warned that they need only 5 days to ramp up uranium enrichment usable for nukes.

In this game, it is like a Washington race between Donald Trump and the United States Congress to see which one of them can wreck the Iran Nuclear Deal through increased sanctions and military threats in the Persian Gulf. Neither one can: JCPOA is an “international” deal.

Meanwhile, in Pyongyang, the other omnipotent leader Kim Jong Un is watching these machinations and plots cooked up by the novice hustler in the Oval Office. Can you guess what he is thinking?

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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

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

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

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

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

Export Beautiful Pork, not Beautiful Guns.

Or:

Raise Fat Pigs, not Skinny Terrorists….

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

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

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum