My BFF Iranian mediareport 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
My BFF “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
My BFF 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).
My BFF “One of America’s most senior diplomats claimed at the United Nations security council that Muammar Gaddafi is supplying his troops with Viagra to encourage mass rape, according to diplomats. Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN made the claim while accusing Gaddafi of numerous human rights abuses. Earlier in the week Rice also claimed, without offering any evidence, that Iran is helping Syria suppress internal dissent. Foreign affairs specialists expressed scepticism about both claims. The Viagra claim surfaced in an al-Jazeera report last month from Libya-based doctors who said they had found Viagra in the pockets of pro-Gaddafi soldiers. But it is a jump from that to suggesting Gaddafi is supplying troops with it to encourage mass rape…….. Earlier in the week, Rice deplored the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on dissent and cited Iranian involvement. “Instead of listening to their own people, President Assad is disingenuously blaming outsiders, while seeking Iranian assistance in repressing Syria’s citizens, through the same brutal tactics that have been used by the Iranian regime……The state department said it has credible information but would not elaborate…….”
This sounds like an urban legend propagated by Susan Rice: like the sightings of Elvis in Nevada or the sighting of Saddam Hussein in Bahrain (these are only Saddam wannabes and former thugs). No doubt Qaddafi used Viagra and probably even Cialis (for “when the moment is right” as the famous ad says). I suspect he used it on and for himself, not for his forces. In other words, I suspect this Viagra story is just more bullshit, something Ms Rice should try not to step into in the future. Cheers
My BFF “The Arab Spring and U.S. Policy: The View From Jerusalem. Israeli officials want a public commitment from Washington to protect the Saudi regime should it come under threat. It is provocative, but not entirely inaccurate, to suggest that U.S. foreign policy these past few months has been sufficiently erratic to make America’s allies reconsider the degree to which we can be trusted—and our adversaries re-evaluate the degree to which we must be feared. The canary in the coal mine on such matters is Israel. None of America’s allies is more sensitive to even the most subtle changes in the international environment, or more conscious of the slightest hint of diminished support from Washington. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been so concerned that a member of his fractious ………” TedKoppel (WSJ)
Ted Koppel is one of the most serious and reliable journalists, since before his old Nightline program. As Hercule Poirot (Belgian waffle not French) never actually said: zee plot, she sickens……. Cheers
My BFF “Baghdad is mulling the nomination of an Iraqi candidate for the position of Arab League secretary general, a lawmaker has said. Two weeks before the Arab states choose a new secretary general to replace Amr Moussa who is leaving to contest in the presidential elections in Egypt later this year, only Qatari Abdul Rahman Al Atiyyah and Egyptian Mustafa Al Fiqi have submitted their candidacies. “We have floated the idea of selecting an Iraqi personality to head the Arab League,” Rafaa Abdul Jabbar Nooshi, member of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said. “Iraq has a number of competent personalities who can manage the Arab League,” he said, quoted by Qatar News Agency. The MP did not, however, mention any names. Iraqi political formations have nominated Eyad Allawi to replace Amr Moussa when he steps down next month…….”
This is enough to give the Saudi king Abdullah an infarct. Enough to give several absolute tribal kings a collective infarct. An Iraqi (Shi’a-appointed) secretary general of the Arab league of Despots? I expect the recently infallible (by the king) Mufti, Shaikh A Al Al Shaikh to issue one of his made-to-order fatwas making this blasphemous.
I was going to nominate Ahmad Chalabi, but that seems a bit too much. Ayad Allawi seems to be unattached these days, and he love traveling to such Arab capitals as Riyadh, Amman, Cairo (ah those were the days). Then there is the king of Bahrain………….. Cheers