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

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

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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…….

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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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“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………

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“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

The World’s First Sanctions Nation: Starvation vs. Bombs……..

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“The U.S. has prepared a list of Turkish entities and individuals to target should it decide to impose sanctions on Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government for imprisoning U.S. citizens and employees of its diplomatic mission, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. The lira slid. While negotiations to release one of the people, evangelical Pastor Andrew Brunson, are ongoing, the preparation of the so-called “designation packages” shows how close the U.S. has come to imposing unprecedented penalties against a NATO ally……..”

Turkey is just the last one. It is not only Turkey, hardly that.

Sanctions have become the favorite weapon used by US administrations in the past few decades. They are now more prevalent under Trump than ever before. Other NATO nations will also face sanctions, especially those major allies doing trade and investment deals with the Iranians. Companies from Britain, France, Germany, Italy and other NATO members will face American sanctions.

There is hardly a country in the world where US sanctions are not imposed, either on the whole country, on its officials, or on some of its companies and individuals. Cuba was probably among the earliest ones, and is still a target of sanctions: it was sanctioned long before the Soviet missiles showed up on the island.

Excuses for sanctions/blockades range from repression (for non-allied poorer or non-rich countries only), to support of terrorism (for non-allied poorer countries only), nuclear activity (for non-allied countries that have no nuclear weapons only), an unacceptable regime (for non-allied non-major-trade-partner countries only), to more petty political excuses or other disputes.

Truly this has become the First Sanctions Nation in World History. And it is a bi-partisan policy. But I suppose it is better to squeeze nations, starve them, than bomb them. But yet the bombs keep falling anyway…….

P.S: Some Middle East media, especially pro-Iranian ones,now claim/report that the Trump administration is insisting on a particular candidate to be Iraq‘s prime minister, regardless of his coalition votes. They claim the administration is threatening to “sanction” any Iraqi politician or parties who oppose this US stance.

Cheers

Mohammed haider Ghuloum

ICYMI: Your Friendly Neighborhood Taliban Cutthroats Are Not Terrorists!……

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“U.S. Officials Hold Direct Peace Talks with the Taliban…..U.S. diplomats have held direct peace talks with the Taliban aimed at ending the ongoing 17-year U.S. war in Afghanistan. The New York Times reports the Trump administration is urging U.S.-backed Afghan troops to retreat from rural areas and focus on protecting Kabul and other major cities. The Times also reports this strategy will likely ensure the Taliban remains in control of vast stretches of the countryside, where the majority of Afghans live……”

“To the U.S., the Afghan Taliban is largely an insurgency with control over vast swaths of territory and aspirations to govern the country, while its Pakistani offspring is considered nothing but a terrorist organization. But the real reason the Afghan Taliban is not on the list has more to do with political considerations than whether or not it meets the statutory criteria for a terrorist designation……..”

Interesting. The Taliban were the worst terror organization/group in the Muslim World for years. Until ISIS, an offshoot of their Al Qaeda allies and partners, showed up. They have been responsible for, or cooperated in, killing thousands of Americans (along with their Wahhabi-Salafist allies). More than any other terrorist group ever. They cooperated in direct attacks on the American homeland during 9/11, something nobody else has done, none of the alleged threats like Hezbollah or Hamas or even Gaddi’s Libya or Saddam Hussein. Their Pakistani Taliban branch was designated as a terrorist group, but not the Afghan headquarters which tormented Afghanistan, aided and sheltered Al Qaeda before and during the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. The Afghan mother branch is now treated almost like the neighborhood sweet girl-next-door branch.

I believe the Taliban were never listed as a terrorist organization/group for two other deeper reasons. You see:

  • They are an offshoot of the Islamist Mujahideen of Afghanistan, created by Saudi money and American weapons in the 1980s to harass the Soviet/Russian forces supporting the secular leftist government in that country. After the Soviets and the secular regime departed, the Mujahideen, including the Taliban, proceeded to destroy Afghanistan. It is effectively a Saudi-Salafi-Western baby, a hometown chicken that came home to roost across the wider Middle East and North Africa and beyond.
  • The Taliban are not Middle Eastern, they are not involved in Middle East politics, so no Petro-Arab/AIPAC lobbyists are after them in the United States, spending money and applying political pressure, buying politicians, pundits, and prominent think-tanks. Unlike other more official organizations in, say Iran or Lebanon or Yemen or Gaza, etc. Who are not so generous, or so accommodating. For example…..

Capisce?

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Nuclear Question: How to Spell Filibuster in the Korean of Pyongyang…….

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted today (Sunday): Landed in Finland for Helsinki 2018 where POTUS & Prez Putin are set to discuss US/Russian relations. POTUS meeting is in the interest of US national security. It’s critical that the leaders of the US & Russia engage on important matters between our two countries…. On July 16, working level meetings between US and DPRK officials are scheduled to begin to coordinate next steps, including the transfer of American service members’ remains already collected in the DPRK……

My two cents on this? How do you say FILIBUSTER in the Korean nuclear dialect of Pyongyang?
I hope I am wrong on this but I doubted it very much….

 

Korean Nuclear Diplomacy: Flim Flam La La Land Approach and Roosting JCPOA Chickens……
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Korean Nuclear Diplomacy: Flim Flam La La Land Approach and Roosting JCPOA Chickens……

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North Korea: we reject gangster-like unilateral denuclearization demands..

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: talks on denuclearization of North Korea going well…..

Donald Trump (tweeting): I have confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed, and even more importantly, our “handshake”. We “agreed” to the denuclearization of North Korea. China, on the other hand, may be exerting negative pressure on a deal….

Yours Truly: but you did not honor the previous Nuclear Deal that the USA and Europe and the UN Security Council agreed to with Iran. You reneged on an international agreement signed on by the UN and Europe (and the USA). Why should Kim Jong Un trust you now? You will not be able to separate the two cases. Iran Deal chickens coming home to roost, Donald.

Yours Truly: this is “Flim Flam La La Land Nuclear Diplomacy

Cheers

M. Haider Ghuloum

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