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

Rumi: Iranian Cleric Mixes Bestiality with Politics……….

     
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A racy allusion in a Friday prayer sermon by Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati has become the talk of Iran. He invoked a well-known poem about an intimate coupling between a maidservant and a donkey to issue a warning to opposition supporters. “The foe always try to use psychological warfare against the Islamic regime to tarnish the image of the system inside and outside the country,” he said (Persian link). “Therefore, I tell them, the enemies, to go and study the story of the pumpkin.” The “pumpkin” refers to a famous story by the 13th century mystical poet Rumi, “The Importance of Gourdcrafting,” in which a resourceful maidservant who sleeps with a donkey uses a pumpkin as a marital aid. When the lady of the house catches on, she decides to follow suit. But rather than consulting the maidservant she sends her away without obtaining the secret of the pumpkin, and is killed by the donkey. The story is intended as a parable about the dangers of immoderation……….”

Interesting. He seems to be comparing the Iranian regime to an ass without meaning to. Or am I wrong?
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Wael Ghonim to IMF & World Bank: J’accuse…………

     
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WASHINGTON — The Google executive who became the hero of the Egyptian revolution cropped up at the pinnacle of international finance Friday, chiding the elites for supporting strongman Hosni Mubarak. “I actually feel like Joe the Plumber,” said Wael Ghonim, drawing laughs after his introduction on a panel at the International Monetary Fund headquarters….. Dressed in faded Levis, an open-necked striped shirt and casual loafers, Ghonim, 30, filled his billing as “Internet activist” in the roundtable discussion notably featuring IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Ghonim, Google’s head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, became an Internet star after administering a Facebook page that helped spark the uprising that toppled Mubarak’s regime. “To me what was happening was a crime, not a mistake,” he said. He branded the international institutions and the “elites” of the world “partners in crime” in supporting Mubarak’s regime. “A lot of people knew that things were going wrong,” he added. Wearing a wristband with the date January 25, 2011, the first day of protests that swept Mubarak from power, Ghonim said: “We wanted our dignity back.” “Egypt has cancer” and what is needed is investment and entrepreneurship, and jobs that pay a decent wage, he said. Acknowledging a “radical view,” Ghonim welcomed outside expertise and support from the international community but rejected the idea of outsiders telling Egypt how to rebuild its society………..

Wael Ghomin was absolutely right. In fact he was a little too polite. The international bureaucrats all knew what was happening in Egypt and elsewhere. They accommodate the corrupt regimes of some countries too often. The designer-clad IBRD and IMF bureaucrats often listen to functionaries of the state, I know that firsthand, then they tailor a policy program that often is based on the input of the functionaries. They paper over flagrant corruption and policies that distort the economy and keep it stagnant. That is usually the case for countries with clout. Egypt was a country of ‘indirect’ clout because Mubarak had support on the IMF Executive Board from at least three representatives: his own (also the Gulf’s) member, the Saudi member, and often the American member. Not to mention the support of some other Executive Board members on the principle of “mutual back scratching”. Ditto for the World Bank (IBRD). They should just let the Egyptian people sort out their own problems as he said.
I recall traveling to Cairo some years ago with a potentate who told me during the flight that Egypt had changed, that I would be amazed by the ‘progress’. Needless to say, potentates don’t walk the streets of cities like Cairo the way I do. In Cairo, I saw that it had changed alright, but it had become shabbier, a much worse place than under either Nasser or Sadat. I saw many homeless people around the banks of the Nile, something that used to be rare in most of the city during my pre-Mubarak visits. The progress they were talking about was not that of the Egyptian people, but of the elite with whom the Arab potentates and the international financial organizations associated. The international bureaucrats, as I know firsthand, deal with numbers, data, not with human beings. IMF and IBRD functionaries should be made to go into town, walk the streets, see the millions living in old graveyards, without regime minders. And skip the incessant official wining and dining.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Breaking News: Prince Bandar Found Alive…………..

     
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Prince Bander Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud briefed the Prime Minister on the Saudi perception of the situation in the Gulf and Middle East and their stance on the current political developments in the region. The socio-economic difficulties in some areas of the Gulf and Middle East affected the political environment, he added. The process of dialogue started in some Gulf countries had helped to understanding the problems of the people, he said, adding dialogue and reconciliation is the only mean to move forward. He expressed confidence that the economic packages announced during the recent GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) meeting would help to bring about peace, prosperity and economic development of the entire region…….. Saudi Arabia, he reaffirmed, will always stand with Pakistan to confront any challenge and support any initiative to further expand the bilateral ties. Our thinking and approach on international issues have remained the same and would continue in future as well, he added……..

Breaking news!
Prince Bandar found alive! Alive but not sure how well.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Fifth Columns in the Gulf: Iranian Threat, Saudi Threat……….

     
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For some years now, it has been perceived by many that the only threat to the Gulf states, the GCC, came from Iran. Iran is a large strong country that is quite militarized and it has been expanding its sphere of influence well beyond the Gulf and the Shatt al-Arab in recent years. It also has an ancient history of domination of the region up to the Mediterranean Sea and into Egypt. Political changes in Iraq after the fall of the Ba’ath regime amplified the notion of a modern Iranian threat. The defeat of the Israeli invasions of Lebanon by Hezbollah in 2000 and 2006 also amplified this Iranian threat around the Gulf, given that Hezbollah depends on Iranian money and weapons.
The Saudi government has focused on the Iranian threat since at least 2005. By that time the Saudis had acquired and built the largest media empire anywhere in Europe and the Middle East: newspapers, satellite television channels, magazines, and general entertainment outlets, Only Aljazeera stood as the competition to Saudi domination of Arab media. Alarabiya, Asharq Alawsat, al-Hayat, ART, LBC, MBC, Rotana, etc, etc: these are all Saudi owned, either by princes or their relatives, and hence they are all official or semi-official media.

In the past few years the vast Saudi media started to amplify the “Iranian threat”. So far so good: that is fair enough among governments and nations. It also started to do some serious sectarian “Shi’a-baiting”, slowly at first but gathering speed after 2006. Soon they were all but accusing the local native Shi’as of their Eastern Province of being a fifth column (in their own native territory that preceded the arrival of the Saudi invaders from Najd). They were joined in that by allies from among the Arab despots such as Mubarak and King Abdul of Jordan. Mubarak’s state security started to uncover “Shi’a cells” dedicated to converting Egyptians. King Abdul of Jordan reportedly established a special branch of his security services dedicated to hunting down Shi’as bent on spreading their “faith”. I suspect all this was to keep the al-Saud and their Wahhabi clerics happy.
Not that the Iranians could not have been a threat. A huge militarized country like Iran can always pose a threat to its smaller “neighbors” under certain circumstances. If one chooses to disregard the huge American navy and other Western forces controlling the Gulf.

Then came the Arab revolutions which spread eastward and into Bahrain, an island that practices its own version of Apartheid. Before Bahrain, the al-Saud and their fundamentalist Salafi agents have been for some years trying to disrupt and sabotage the political process in another member country of the GCC. There is no political process in Saudi Arabia. The Bahrain uprising and the Saudi incursion divided the Gulf region deeper along sectarian lines, and much of the blame for that goes to the Saudi and official Bahraini media and their agents in another Gulf state. The goal has been to scare people and throw them into the lap of the Saudis: an old game often played by nations. And to kill the Arab Spring on the shores of the Gulf, in the bloodied streets of Manama and the villages of Bahrain.

Now a combination of seeing the tanks rolling easily into Bahrain and calls by Saudi Salafi surrogates for a Gulf “confederation” under Saudi control is giving some Gulf people second thoughts. Some people, hopefully enough people. The tanks rolled into Bahrain, and I don’t expect them to leave any time soon, if ever. These two factors have also reminded some people of just how the Arabian Peninsula came to be named after a family, Saudi Arabia. Old Ibn Saud started by re-entering Najd, in central Arabia, with money from a smaller Gulf state in the north, took Riyadh, then continued to conquer Hijaz and al-Hasa and Aseer, etc, etc. They even tried at one point to conquer the country that provided them with seed money to start with, using the Ikhan “militia”.

These recent events and the not too distant history have awakened some Gulf people to one important fact: it is much easier and faster for a land neighbor to send in the tanks than for a force to cross the Gulf. It has also made others aware of another likely fact: if there is a Gulf fifth column with divided loyalties, it is most likely not the Shi’as looking toward Iran, but the Salafis and their “allies” looking back toward Saudi Arabia. Maybe the al-Saud have overplayed their hand again.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

A Sorority of Arab Leaders: Tea & Scones & Suppression………….

     
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Egypt has today stressed Bahrain’s Arab identity and national unity, rejecting any blatant foreign interference in its internal affairs. Egypt’s head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi voiced the strong supportive stance during a phone conversation with His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa. Field Marshall Tantawi stressed his country’s firm support for all the measures taken by the Kingdom of Bahrain to protect its security and stability and safeguard national unity and the safety of all citizens and expatriates, wishing Bahrain continuous security and stability under HM King Hamad’s wise leadership. The two leaders also discussed strong brotherly relations……..

Thus claims the Bahrain News Agency. Arab despots, even temporary ones like Tantawi, always love to exchange “strong brotherly” feelings of appreciation of each other. The Saudis and Qataris no doubt did that just before the coup the Saudis attempted against the Qatari emir in the late 1990s. SaddamFuckingHussein probably did that before he invaded in 1990 (in fact I know he did just that weeks before at the last Baghdad Arab Summit). I swear; if they were chicks, they could all join the same sorority and exchange “sisterly” feelings of appreciation over tea and fattening scones. No, the Arab League is not there yet, although it could be converted to a sorority as easily as in Salafi club or wtf they call it.

The Bahrain Agency did not report that Tantawi asked king Hamad al-Saud for pointers on how to put down and reverse the revolution in Egypt. At which point Hamad would have been tempted to guffaw disdainfully and retort “Tanti, You are as old as my uncle the prime minister who still resents being born too late to be king”. But no, being the polite king that he is, although lately not very kingly, he replied “Pick up the phone, call King Abdullah. Use Skype or Magic Jack. Better yet, if you’ve got an iPhone…..
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Iran Noruz Summit Includes Qatar and Oman, No Assad or Abdullah……….

     
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Mehr News reports that Iran on Sunday hosted a Noruz (Persian New Year) summit attended by the presidents of Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, and Iraq. The summit entitled the International Noruz Festival was attended by other foreign guests including Pakistan’s parliament speaker, Oman’s foreign minister, Lebanon’s foreign minister, Qatar’s crown prince, Kyrgyzstan’s culture and information minister, Azerbaijan’s deputy prime minister, India’s union health minister, Zanzibar’s vice president, and the ECO secretary general. The festival was held at Saadabad Palace where Persian artifacts and customs were on display. Four Arab states participated, but no mention of Saudi King Abdullah or Prince Saud al-Faisal attending. Nor did the king or prime minister of Bahrain. Come to think of it, neither did Bashar Assad attend; he must be at least as busy as the leaders of Bahrain. Too bad, Ahmadinejad could have benefited from some pointers on crowd-control by these tow worthies.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Secretary Clinton and Middle East Women and Costco……….

     
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US State Dept tweet:Secretary Clinton: women must participate in all aspects of political and institutional reforms….” I agree with her, although she did not specify if all the wives of the potentates are allowed to engage in such activity. I mean the king of Bahrain had three wives at last count. The potentates of Abu Dhabi keep it under wraps (one of them in Dubai is married to a Jordanian princess). As for the Saudi princes, oh boy, some of them probably don’t know the answer……. Can be costly, too bad Costco doesn’t carry wives……

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

United Arab Emirates: the Price of Silence…………

     
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In June 2008, Ms Gali had her drink spiked and was raped by three to four co-workers, while working as a beauty salon manager at the international resort. When she reported the assault to authorities she was jailed on an adultery charge and spent eight months in prison because it is illegal in the UAE to have sex outside marriage. Australian embassy staff advised her and her family not to go to the media, during her time in custody, where she was locked in a cell with 30 other women. She was pardoned and released in March 2009……. “The UAE is being promoted hugely here as a tourism destination – they sponsor things here. “They are not complying with human rights, women’s rights and migrant workers’ rights.”……..

It is a simple case. She was gang raped, she went to the police, she was jailed for ‘sex outside marriage’, she remained silent, she was pardoned a year later. I also suspect that Ms. Gali is not of “European” descent: UAE authorities have had other cases where they punished female victims of assault, victims who were of Asian or Arab descent. As for the Australian embassy….oy vey.
What I don’t understand” about this “sex outside marriage” charge: what about all them hookers (prostitutes) that the UAE is teeming with?
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Is it Syria in Exchange for Bahrain? the Arba’een………….

     
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The West, especially the United States government, have been quite silent over the oppression and the reign of terror going on in Bahrain. The reactions have been mild, calling for a end of violence by “both sides” and dialog. The US even accepted the Saudi invasion of Bahrain, which raises the question of what would the US say if Iranian troops had landed in Damascus at the invitation of Bashar al-Assad. Of course that will not happen.
On the other hand, the US has been almost muted about the protests in Syrian cities. Ironically, it is the Saudis, through their vast controlled media, who have been calling for reforms in Syria. The Saudis would not recognize reform if it kissed every prince on the nose (as we might say in the Gulf). They mean their kind of “reform” which means a regime that is as subservient to the al-Saud dynasty as Mubarak was, as subservient as Hariri in Lebanon or al-Khalifa in Bahrain have been (or even maybe as the al-Nahayan in Abu Dhabi seem to be nowadays).
In any case, shifts in Syria or the Gulf would be game changers in the region, and there seems to be an understanding that real change in these two regions is not acceptable, yet. Hence Syria will most likely suppress its uprising and institute some reforms with international blessing. Hence Bahrain has called in foreign invaders to suppress its uprising, with Western blessing.
I can be wrong about both: the Syrian uprising may gather steam, and the Bahrain uprising may regain its momentum as the forty-day (arba’een) anniversary of the first regime killings arrives.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

An Internet Iron Curtain over the Persian-American Gulf………

     
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As Middle East regimes try to stifle dissent by censoring the Internet, the U.S. faces an uncomfortable reality: American companies provide much of the technology used to block websites. McAfee Inc., acquired last month by Intel Corp., has provided content-filtering software used by Internet-service providers in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, according to interviews with buyers and a regional reseller. Blue Coat Systems Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., has sold hardware and technology in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar that has been used in conjunction with McAfee’s Web-filtering software and sometimes to block websites on its own, according to interviews with people working at or with ISPs in the region. A regulator in Bahrain, which uses McAfee’s SmartFilter product, says the government is planning to switch soon to technology from U.S.-based Palo Alto Networks Inc. It promises to give Bahrain more blocking options and make it harder for people to circumvent censoring. Netsweeper Inc. of Canada has landed deals in the UAE, Qatar and Yemen, according to a company document. …….

Now U.S corporations are providing the technology for these unsavory regimes on the Persian-American Gulf to block and possibly identify dissidents and locate them. Ironically they are helping to weaken and kill the Internet, an American invention, one of America’s greatest modern gifts to humanity. Arab regimes have been trying to coordinate the suppression of the Internet for a few years now: they are good at cording suppression. The Saudi have “led” the way this past year with new rules to suppress the internet. The Saudi rules now require every blogger to obtain permission from the ministry of information, answer certain questions, and apply for a license. That and the usual “state security” background check are enough discourage many. But I imagine many bloggers can “base” their blogs overseas. The UAE had issues last year with the Blackberry manufacturer because the regime wanted to be able to spy on users. Eventually the company (Research in Motion) gave in and the users lost.
I wonder what technology the Iranian censors are using. Most likely the same.

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com