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

The Curious Council of Ministers of Bahrain……..


  Walking on water


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Bahrain cabinet:

  • King HAMAD bin Isa al-Khalifa

  • Prime Min. KHALIFA bin Salman al-Khalifa

  • Dep. Prime Min. ALI bin Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa

  • Dep. Prime Min. KHALID bin Abdallah al-Khalifa

  • Dep. Prime Min. MUHAMMAD bin Mubarak al-Khalifa

  • Min. of Culture MAI bint Muhammad al-Khalifa

  • Min. of Finance AHMAD bin Muhammad bin Hamad bin Abdallah al-Khalifa

  • Min. of Foreign Affairs KHALID bin Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Khalifa

  • Min. of Housing IBRAHIM bin Khalifa bin Ali al-Khalifa

  • Min. of Justice & Islamic Affairs KHALID bin Ali al-Khalifa

  • Min. of Interior RASHID bin Abdallah bin Ahmad al-Khalifa

  • Min. of the Royal Court KHALID bin Ahmad bin Salman al-Khalifa

  • Min. of Royal Court Affairs ALI bin Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa

  • Min. of State for Defense Affairs MUHAMMAD bin Abdallah al-Khalifa

  • Min. of State for Cabinet Affairs AHMAD bin Atiyatallah al-Khalifa 
  • Chief of the Central Information Organization, AHMAD bin Atiyatallah  al-Khalifa

  • Chief of National Security, Abdulaziz Bin Atiyatullah al-Khalifa

  • Commander of the Army, Khalifa Bin Ahmad al-Khalifa

  • Commander of Rapid Deployment Force (Royal Guard), Nasser Bin Hamad al-Khalifa

  • Chief of Royal Charity, Nasser Bin Hamad al-Khalifa

  • Chief of the Olympic Committee, Nasser Bin Hamad al-Khalifa

  • Chief of the Higher Council for youth and Sports, Nasser Bin Hamad al-Khalifa

  • Chief of the Royal Team for Ability, Nasser Bin Hamad al-Khalifa

(Get the picture? One of the above was changed recently).

Everybody else:
Dep. Prime Min. Jawad bin Salim al-ARAIDH Min. of Education Majid bin Ali Hasan al-NUAYMI Min. of Electricity & Water Fahmi bin Ali al-JAWDAR Min. of Health Faysal bin Yaqoub al-HAMMER Min. of Industry & Commerce HASAN bin Abdallah al-Fakhru Min. of Labor Majid bin Muhsin al-ALAWI Min. of Municipal Affairs & Urban Planning JUMA bin Ahmad al-Ka’abi Min. of Oil & Gas Affairs Abd al-Husayn MIRZA Min. of Social Development Fatima bint Ahmad al-BALUSHI Min. of Works ISSAM bin Abdallah Khalaf Min. of State for Follow-Up Affairs Muhammad bin Ibrahim al-MUTAWA Min. of State for Foreign Affairs Nizar al-BAHARNA Min. of State for Shura Council & Parliament Affairs Abd al-Aziz bin Muhammad al-FADHIL .
(One or two of these has resigned in protest)


Arabian Peninsula: She Said Kings, When they Enter a Land…….

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     My BFF
“She said: Kings, when they enter a land, they ruin it, and make its noble people its meanest, thus do they behave…….”  Holy Quran (Saurat al-Naml)

The Arabian Peninsula is now the home of tribalism and sectarianism. One goes back to long before Islam, the other sprung from Islamic history and goes back to the early decades of Islam. Some things have not changed in 14 centuries. This has been a signature characteristic of the region from the Persian-American Gulf to the Red Sea, especially along the Gulf. While tribalism has always been part of life, Gulf sectarianism has in recent years, nay in recent weeks, acquired a venomous quality that is almost breath-taking:

Yemen. Abdullah Ali Saleh blamed his earlier troubles in 2009 on Iran and al-Qaeda (that was during the last Huthi War, maybe the fifth one). He has multiple foes. The Huthis are only in the far north. The people of the south, Aden and Hadramout and others, want to regain their independence that they gave up in 1990. Al-Qaeda wants to keep on using Yemen as a training ground as well as a safe haven and launching pad on the Arabia Peninsula. They are not welcome in Saudi Arabia anymore, although they apparently get all the money they want from “someone” in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. Saleh has not resorted to the “drugs” charge because almost everybody in Yemen chews “qat” and effectively gets stoned at least once a day.

Bahrain. The oligarchy in Bahrain, always sectarian and tribal, has blamed its troubles with the people on Iran mostly. If there is Iranian interference, they certainly provided the climate for it. Only recently have its propagandists started to blame drugs as well. Bahrain officialdom has been rife with corruption and sectarianism since the early 1970s when the al-Khalifa suspended the constitution and ended politics. The period since then has been one of theft and robbery of public property and of enshrining the sectarian Apartheid system. The regime even resorted to importing mercenary thugs from Pakistan and Jordan and other places to fill the security ranks because it does not want to hire Shi’as. They have now resorted to inviting foreign forces (Saudis) to crush the people for demanding their rights. In recent days the regime has started, as Time Magazine reports, a reign of terror against the people. Bahrain is becoming a carbon copy of the absolute tribal family monarchy that is Saudi Arabia: they both follow a policy of Apartheid, except in Bahrain it applies against a majority of the people.
Saudi Arabia. The long alliance between the al-Saud princes and the fundamentalist Wahhabi clerics endures. Note how many ministers and clerics are named Al Al-Shaikh, descendants of Mohammed Bin Abdulwahhab (the Najdi shaikh and not Mohammed Abdelwahab the late great Egyptian musician and singer). Saudis pretend there are no such earthly problems in their Kingdom without Magic. Unemployment is in double digits (up to 40% among the young reported ), and the king recently announced opening tens of thousands of new jobs, all of them in the security services! They hint at some Iranian interference in the Eastern Province (largely Shi’a), but they have not blamed it on drugs yet. They certainly can’t blame it on Islamic fundamentalists, because the whole kingdom is one fundamentalist hotbed of a kingdom. Maybe the al-Saud will use the ‘drug’ card if (nay, when) the people rise in Najd or Hijaz to demand their God-given rights.

North Africa: Some of the Usual Suspects…….

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North African leaders, like other Arab leaders, are not very creative. They also have mostly tended to blame the uprisings on the same unlikely factors. The culprits are always a combination of Islamists and drugs (one also added that old Arab stand-by Zionism and the new stand-by Iran):
Tunisia. Home of the first Arab revolution (still ongoing as the people want to make sure they get the democracy they fought for). Dictator Bin Ali, to his credit, did not blame the unrest on drugs or Iran or al-Qaeda or crusaders. Not that I know of. He was more dignified than all those who followed, especially in Libya or Bahrain: he left when the people made their wish known.
Egypt. For decades Mubarak convinced the West that he was the only thing between Egypt and al-Qaeda (well, al-Zawahiri). That he stood blocking another Arab-Israeli war. He tried again last January to play the al-Qaeda card, but it was wearing thin. Maybe the dictator believed it. He had help from his Saudi allies in that task: they and the Emirati and Bahraini rulers stuck by him to the end, urging him to defy his people. He did not listen to them and in the end proved more honorable than, say, the Bahraini monarchy that chose to kill its people with foreign help. People could see that the young rebels at Tahrir did not wear Taliban Turbans or Salafi ghutra & egal, so he switched to drugs. Some of his frustrated henchmen even claimed that drugs mingled with free sex at Tahrir Square.
Libya. Qaddafi has blamed his troubles on al-Qaeda and drugs and a Western crusade. He himself looks stoned out of his head whenever he appears publicly. on the upside: he made ‘zenga zenga‘ a household word around the world.
Algeria. The French have been gone for fifty years, so Bouteflika and his generals cannot blame them. The Islamists were once a serious danger in the 1990s: they had won one election and were poised to win a bigger one, before the ruling class decided to cancel all elections. That led to a long and gruesome civil war. It can happen again if the dictatorship refuses to open up and allow competition.

Problems with al-Qaeda, Drugs, Iran: Jordan and Syria…………

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A protester died after security forces broke up clashes on Friday between supporters of King Abdullah and protesters calling for reform, and the government warned it would not tolerate “chaos.” Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit blamed opposition Islamists for the clash in the pro-Western monarchy, which has seen weeks of protests calling for curbs on the king’s powers……..

Arab leaders are not very creative. From Libya to Bahrain they have all tended to blame the uprisings on the same unlikely factors. The culprits are always a combination of: Islamists, Iranians, and drugs (one or two also added those old Arab stand-bys; Zionism and Masonism and Feminism and Trotskyism). This is not to deny that the Islamists, or Iranians, or drugs have some role in these troubles. But they are tiny influences if at all. The main influence is the regimes and their corruption and oppression.
Jordan and Syria. Both countries are police states with an important difference: in Syria you can tell you are in a police state (at least I did some years ago). In Jordan you can’t tell right away that you are in a police state, but you will when necessary. Jordan exports more security agents and interrogators than Syria, mostly to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Both regimes have blamed Islamists for their troubles. King Abdul’s thugs are as efficient as al-Assad’s (or the other Arab despots).

Time on a Reign of Terror in Bahrain…………..

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“I need to leave Bahrain,” he says, voice shaking. “What channels can I use?” By all accounts, Bahrain’s protests have had the wind knocked out of their sails the past two weeks, as the government systematically shut down the opposition’s operations. Leading activists were arrested en masse, many in pre-dawn raids. The headquarters of opposition group Waad was torched. As Manama was put under martial law, 100 Saudi Arabian tanks arrived on March 13 to help police the streets. Salmaniya Medical Center, a main gathering point for protesters and the country’s most sophisticated hospital, was essentially locked down. At checkpoints around the city, masked thugs pulled drivers out of cars at the slightest suspicion of anti-government activity, often beating them senseless. A kingdom had imposed a reign of terror — with anecdotes and examples of how vengeance is exacted. “The injuries, the bullet holes, are always in the back — as people are leaving,” one official said. ……….”

It is a reign of terror, largely sectarian, but not only that. It is also tribal. There are prominent Sunni opposition figures under detention, like Ibrahim Sharif al-Sayed who heads a secular democratic group. He may be the target of more of the wrath of the ruling despots and their Salafi allies because they have tried to make the Bahrain uprising a purely Shi’a-Sunni sectarian issue, and people like him disrupt their propaganda.

Prince Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah Goes Hollywood……..

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“Hair-dresser turned movie producer Jon Peters confirmed that he sold 5.2 acres of land in Benedict Canyon to a Saudi prince who now plans to construct an 85,000-square-foot compound on the site. Prince Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud, a son of Saudi King Abdullah, purchased three adjacent parcels in 2009, Peters said. Property records list the sale price at $12 million. The Times reported Tuesday that the proposal had stirred heated opposition among neighbors, who include Bruce Springsteen and Michael Ovitz. Project opponents say they have gathered the support of about 500 residents, who contend the project would harm the canyon’s environment. …….”

These snooty California neighbors don’t even want a royal prince in their neighborhood. No respect anymore. Imagine, a fuckingroyal prince and Bruce Springsteen is turning him down! What is “The Boss” compared to a prince or to a Hollywood agent like Ovitz?  Enough to make any prince lose faith in such silly ideas as democracy and equality. He may end up pleading that it is a Zionist plot, the scoundrel. Could be that their experience with the Qaddafi sons has made the stars wary of Arab potentates?
You’d never ever read this item in any Saudi newspaper or television network or website or even on Kilroy’s famous toilet wall. This is the first installment of the new money the Saudi government announced last week to provide housing for people. At least they are being uncharacteristically fast about it.
(FYI: Jon Peters started as Barbra Streisand’s hair-dresser. She dumped her first husband, married Peters and made him into a film producer, before dumping him too).


The Gulf: Buying Arms and Media and the Internet…………….

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The United Arab Emirates and Qatar don’t care about democracy either. The Qataris only want to be able to buy every huge building & store in Europe & Asia & America. They also want to keep Aljazeera as the most popular Arab news network. They have al-Qardhawi in Egypt who they think will be influential, but he is a television shaikh, and young people look at TV shaikhs as being a little clownish. I doubt that many Egyptian youth pay much attention to him. Hell, I wouldn’t, and I am not young or Egyptian.

The United Arab Emirates
are even less inclined toward democratic values than Qatar. The potentates of Abu Dhabi just want to be able to buy every modern warplane and missile systems and tank and warship in the world. I hear they are in the market for a satellite to buy, which may indicate that the shaikhs believe all the UFO and extraterrestrial stories. They have been the second biggest importers of arms in the world in the past five years according to SIPRI. This for a country that has less than one million citizens (the other four million of the population are temporary foreign laborers, housemaids, and gardeners, mostly from South Asia). The way they are buying weapons, you’d think they are trying to speculate by hoarding, or maybe plotting to take over Saudi Arabia. Their shaikhs also want to buy as many and British soccer clubs as they can. Oh, and they like to be able to buy the best race horses in Britain.

The Saudi princes are into media big time. Obviously they are into other things as well because their numbers keep increasing. They have been buying Arab media furiously in the past few years. They own such well known outlets as Asharq Alawsat, al-Hayat, al-Arabiya, LBC, MBC, ART, etc, etc. They want to buy every Arabic newspaper & magazine & television network around, and they can afford it. They even own the whole Arab Thought Society, such as it is. They have never forgotten that Nasser of Egypt almost overthrew their dynasty with his strong media message. In fact the Saudis would like to buy the whole Internet and shut it down.

What Arab Autocrats and Iranian Mullahs Want………

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Media report that Arab regimes, the ones that have not been overthrown yet, are angry at French foreign minister Alain Juppe. Yesterday he warned that other Arab despots that act against their peoples can face the fate of Qaddafi unless they compromise. He mentioned several by name, including Bahrain and Yemen.
Iranians have been happy about regime change in Tunisia, Egypt (especially), and its prospects in Libya and Yemen, and the possibility of weakening the stranglehold of the al-Khalifa and their tribal cronies in Bahrain. By the mullahs do not want regime change in Syria; they worry about losing an ally of thirty year and they worry about the implications for Lebanon. They are trying to interpret the Arab uprisings as Islamic, but they are not so, despite a few fundamentalist attempts. The Iranians also may entertain ideas about controlling Middle East, with the help of the Turks.
The Saudis doesn’t want anything resembling democracy in Bahrain or Jordan or Yemen (or anywhere else in the Arab world, the Muslim world, this whole world, or the nether world). In fact the Saudis are reported to be frantically using their money, their ‘friends’ in the West, and their vast media trying to make sure the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen never lead to true electoral democracy. Like everyone else they want their friends in place.


Ahmadinejad: for Chastity Belts and against Tyranny?……….

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Noting that the world is in dire need of a modern system and new shape and design, the President said that in the New Year efforts will be made globally for reforms in the tyrannical and inhumane structures and systems. He said human beings are universal creatures, so their attitude and lifestyle should be universal. “Man’s true prosperity depends on his global vision and today, under God’s grace, suspicious borders are getting eliminated. Today, materialistic management has come to an end and all nations are going to share similar universal feeling.” Saying that monotheism, justice, chastity and durable peace are true causes of nations, President Ahmadinejad said all nations are seeking kindness and friendship and this promises coming of a promised rule over the world…….

I am dubious about his bit on “tyranny”: one person’s tyranny is another person’s everyday dirty police work. Tyranny is in the eye of the beholder, or maybe the receiver. As for the ‘chastity’ bit: he ain’t gonna win the West with that one, not even the God-fearing Bible-belt. He’d need millions of chastity belts. Lighten up, Mahmoud!
He’s only antagonizing Sarkozy and most of the French nation (the none-immigrant most).

From Syria with Love: the Illusion of Saudi Exceptionalism…….

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This writer in the semi-official Saudi daily Asharq Alawsat starts by assaulting the Syrian regime, probably deservedly so. Then he plunges straight into his favorite topic: Saudi exceptionalism. He claims that Saudi Arabia has surpassed the current popular Arab storm with distinguished success; that Saudi days turned into a “national carnival” of renewed loyalty and trust of the princes (but nothing about Brazilian thongs here). He claims that the “storm” benefited Saudi Arabia, not only because it was not “harmed” by it, but because the fires have reached the Syrian province of Houran!

He claims that what happened in Saudi Arabia has shocked and awed the whole wide wonderful world, including international correspondents who hoped to see angry demonstrations. Instead of unrest they saw a love-fest with people and king and princes (including Bandar of BAE Systems and SFO and Tony Blair fame) all making out and singing kumbaya. Literally Frenching on the streets of Riyadh, once a no-no frowned upon by the Saudi Commissions for the Propagation of Vice. He claims that with one 15 minute the king did what no leader in history has done: he defused tensions by solving all the pending problems of the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula. The exact opposite of Marcus Antonius outside the Senate on the Ides of March! And he did not even have to mention anything about democracy, freedom, and corruption among the princes! He says nothing about the Eastern province (al-‘Hasa), and the hundreds of thousands of security agents that inundated the streets, and the protests in Qatif and the hundreds taken to prison. He did not nominate any prince for the Nobel Prize for graft. The competition would be tough.

Yet he may have a right to gloat (for now): if the Syrian regime falls, that would be a loss for the Iranian regime, and a gain for the Saudi regime in the short term. Provided that any new Syrian regime is not ‘too’ democratic. Syria can be a double-edged sword for the Saudis if it comes through, especially if it goes democratic. If the surrounding countries, Arabs and Iran, turn more democratic, this cannot be good for Saudi rule. The princes know this: just look at the agonies of occupied Bahrain.