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

Arab Press Freedom: Same Old, Same Old……….

     
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Freedom of the Press rankings (Freedom House):
I have my doubts about some of these rankings: for example I think Lebanon (109) has more press freedom than several countries that are listed above it. I am also not sure why the US (22) and UK (29) are ranked lower than some European countries. France is ranked 42. Bahrain (159) has no independent press anymore, and should now be at a lower level than Saudi Arabia (178) or Iran (188), closer to Libya. Saudi Arabia (178) should be lower after now because they just passed decrees and regulations that make a mockery of any concept of press freedom:

Finland (1)- Norway(2)-Sweden(3)……
Israel (62)
Lebanon (109)- Turkey (113)- Kuwait (127)- Algeria (138)
Jordan (142)- Egypt (147)- Qatar (148) – Iraq (151)
As for the rest of the Arab states? The less said the better.

Frankly, I am not sure wtf these rankings mean. In many Arab states the press knows a red line when it sees one and would not cross it. It is called censorship by silent intimidation. How do these rankings account for that?
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Politics on My Gulf: On Being Royally Anally Retentive ………

     
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Her Highness Shaikha Moza grandmother of His Majesty, for whom we sacrifice our lives may god keep and save him, mother of the late his Highness Shaikh Issa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa and His Highness ‘Prince’ Khalifa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa and the late prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al-Khalifa, has passed away.” Tweet by Nabeel al-Homar, Bahrain regime spokesman.

RIP for the lady: she is not guilty for the crimes of her son and her grandson.

But WTF? Now Bahrain shaikhs are all called ‘princes’. First the emir Shaikh Hamad promoted himself unilaterally to a ‘king’, although there is nothing kingly or royal or regal about him. Then all the shaikhs are calling themselves princes. No more frogs in Bahrain, but who kissed all the al-Khalifa to turn them into princes (and princesses)? Can it be the al-Saud? It has to be: the al-Khalifa are even starting to wear the shmagh ghetra, a telltale Saudi headgear, in summer now. Bahraini rulers and their retainers among the elite are going Saudi, and they can’t seem to do it fast enough. Saudi, or rather al-Saud, are chic in occupied Bahrain. Which makes me wonder if any Frenchmen started to wear small mustaches in Nazi-occupied Paris so long ago.
The Bahrainis of the “right inclination”, political or otherwise, may find other ways to ape their new Wahhabi masters. They can start frequenting the places where all the things that are banned in the Kingdom without Magic are available. Don’t let your imagination run wild, not too wild. You can get flogged in public in Riyadh for singing in public, even an innocent thing like a Salafi carol (a la Fa La La…….). That is if you are a male. As for a singing female, you can probably get flogged anywhere on both shores of my Gulf. Iranian mullahs can be almost as anally retentive about these things are the Wahhbai shaikhs: almost so, but not quite.
In occupied Bahrain, they can do as the uninvited Saudi visitors do. That may become even more necessary as the true Saudis take their business elsewhere: they will be more welcome now in economically depressed Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Hopefully not as part of an occupation army.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Hamas and Bin Laden……………

     
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Al-Qaeda and other Salafis never cared about the Palestine issue, at least not publicly. Salafis are too obsessed with killing “the infidel” and with worshipping living, well-paying, kings to worry about the thorniest problem of our region. During the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon, al-Qaeda and other Salafis joined the absolute tribal Arab monarchs in siding, nearly openly, with the Israelis against the Lebanese.
Now Hamas, a somewhat milder, even gentler, fundamentalist organization, never a friend of al-Qaeda, comes out condemning the killing of the Salafi master terrorist and mass murderer. They sure know how to shoot themselves in the foot.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Israeli Warplanes in Iraq: Iranian Paranoia? Iraqi Rumors? Saudi Hopes?………

     
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Iranian media report that Israeli jet fighters have conducted drills at an American military base in Iraq in preparation for an attack on Iran. Press TV quotes a source close to prominent Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sader’s group that a considerable number of Israeli warplanes were seen at the al-Asad base in Iraq. The aircraft reportedly included F-15, F-16, F-18, F-22, and KC-10 jet fighters. The warplanes allegedly carried out their week-long exercises at night. The drills were reportedly aimed at preparing to strike Iran’s air defense systems, disrupt Iran’s radars and attack targets deep inside Iran. Iraqi officials had not been notified of the exercises, which were conducted in collaboration with the US military. The United States operates several bases in Iraq whose future status is not clear yet and the Baghdad government is not involved in any of the military deployments taking place there.

I personally doubt all this: not only will it be futile, but it may divert attention back to the Palestine-Israeli issue and those ever expanding settlements. Yet it is tempting to dismiss all this as Iraqi rumors feeding Iranian paranoia. But one must remember: it is often at times when all seem to be quite that such attacks occur. From Operation Barbarossa to Pearl Harbor to the Ozirak attack to September 11, this has been the pattern (not always, but often).
Meanwhile, the Israelis are being their characteristic selves about this issue, the Iranians worry, and the rulers of Saudi Arabia are probably praying again (for such an attack to happen). I was going to add the shaikhs of UAE and Bahrain, but then I remembered that they don’t count anymore.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

May Day: Housemaids and Workers of the Arab World, Unite……

     
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“Several foreign manpower recruitment offices in the Kingdom have urged the authorities to protect their interests and impose tighter regulations on the recruitment of Indonesian workers. They were responding to the Jakarta government’s decision to introduce rules to protect Indonesian workers in the Kingdom. The recruitment companies demanded the Saudi Embassy in Jakarta to draft a new bilateral agreement with new conditions for hiring domestic staff. The new agreement would consist of certain conditions aimed at safeguarding the rights of Saudi recruitment offices against exploitation, Al-Riyadh newspaper reported. It would include a provision compelling Indonesian manpower recruitment agents to bear the responsibility for offenses committed by maids they have recruited………. There is a growing demand from Saudi families to allow them to recruit housemaids from Nepal and Ethiopia. The recruitment charges from these countries range from SR5,500 to SR6,000, with a monthly salary of SR700. The recruitment procedures from these countries would take less than two months,” he pointed out…….”

This is a humanitarian issue all across the Arab world. In a couple of GCC states, I strongly suspect the number of Asian housemaids exceeds the number of native citizens. I ‘strongly’ suspect that is the case in the UAE and Qatar. Some governments do more: the Saudi government sends officials to ‘target’ source countries in Asia to negotiate down the ‘prices’ of housemaids to make them “affordable” for local citizens. Countries that do not agree on lower “prices” for housemaids are punished by banning human imports from them. Not very Islamic, is it?
But the situation may be worse in places like Jordan and Lebanon, although the numbers are fewer. Every week there are reports of one or two Asian maids either falling off the balcony, dying accidentally, or committing suicide in Lebanon. It is almost like being a political prisoner in occupied Bahrain under Apartheid these days: one can die of strange causes.
Speaking of Bahrain: I wish the working people of that captive country better luck and freedom in the near future. So many workers have been fired from their jobs in both the public and private sectors for expressing their opinions.So many Bahrainis have been imprisoned simply for doing their jobs: doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, journalists, etc. Many are being tortured, some sentenced to death by military kangaroo courts.
I also salute the workers of Tunisia and Egypt who joined their brothers and sisters in overthrowing the dictatorships, and for keeping their vigilance during the current treacherous period. I salute the workers of all Arab states whose revolutions are still ongoing: Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Algeria, Mauretania, Jordan, and Morocco. Keep your vigilance: don’t let your revolution be hijacked by clones of the old regime, by former members of the old regimes, or by the old colonial masters. Nor by the despotic tribal absolute monarchies allied with the Salafi mercenaries.
I also salute the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula and the United Arab Emirates who are striving, slowly and cautiously but in some cases very bravely, toward civil societies. It is a difficult task in these two police states. Many are in prison under these two regime for using their God-give right to freely express their opinions. Some have been tortured; the price of freedom.
Happy May Day.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Wilayat el-Faqih Comes to Saudi Arabia, Music and Isotopes……..

     
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Saudi King Abdullah issued a royal decree yesterday making it illegal to criticize the chief cleric, the Mufti of Saudi Arabia, and other clergy. The king, with a simple decree, made Shaikh Abdelaziz Al Al Shaikh infallible. Now Shaikh Al is more infallible than the Prophet Mohammed was (people were free to criticize him fourteen centuries ago). He is more infallible than a Catholic (or Orthodox) saint. His pronouncements are now as holy as he himself is perceived (if you get my drift, and depending on one’s point of view). The royal family is simply returning the favors done by the clergy, the most recent of which was condemning protests against governments as un-Islamic, haram, taboo (except in Libya and possibly in Syria), but especially in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
Now the Saudis are inching closer to the Iranian system of government: a supreme clergy (wilayat al-faqih in Arabic, or vilayat e-faqih in Persian). But alas, Shaikh Al is still subservient to the al-Saud: like all Arab muftis he tailors his fatwas to fit their needs. Besides, in theocratic Iran there is only one permanent life-time job: that of supreme leader, Khamenei (Ahmadinejad leaves in 2013, and not a minute too soon). Under the Saudi system there are two top ones: the king and the mufti. Come to think of it, there are many more lifetime jobs, as many as there are princes (+the mufti).

(Repetition: Shaikh Abdelaziz Al Al Shaikh is a direct descendant of “Imam” Mohammad Bin Abdelwahab the (now long dead) zealot from Nejd after whom Wahhabism is named. There are several of the Al Al Shaikh holding high ministerial positions in Saudi Arabia, always have been. They are given different numbers to distinguish them from each other, sort of like isotopes in chemistry (or ought to be). Imam Mohammad Bin Abdelwahab should not be confused the late great Egyptian singer, composer, (and occasional plagiarizer) Mohammed Abdelwahab who was not a Salafi or a fundamentalist but did have some great songs).

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com