Category Archives: Arab League

An Arab Human Rights Court in Bahrain? ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ in Arabic……..

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There are more recent reports of something called an Arab Human Rights Court, what I (and anybody with sense) would call Mother of All Contradictions. Reports that the Arab League’s current owners have chosen Bahrain as headquarters of the so-called Arab Human Rights Court are apparently not a joke or a prank.

There is or will be an entity called the Arab Human Rights Court. I am guessing, an expensively educated guess, that its specialty will be to prosecute human rights advocates in the Arab countries. And to try and bully foreign and international NGO’s who support them.

The report of its location in Bahrain? Just adding a bit of insult to injury, telling the Arab peoples what their rulers think of them and of their level of intelligence. But then they don’t care what their peoples think anyway.
It is aimed at the outside world. An Arab court can and will always issue verdicts in support of these despotic regimes. Friendly Western media from the Washington Post to CNN, and friendly Western regimes like the one in Britain can point to these verdicts and repeat them like mindless zombies, as alibis.

Terrible. Yet when I first read about this project months ago I could not help laughing. Imagine four terms: Human Rights, Justice, Arab League, Bahrain. How can they all fit in one sentence, one paragraph, or even one page without provoking frustrated mirthless laughter?
Frustrated mirthless laughter is supposed to be more seemly, for men at least, than frustrated weeping which would be the more honest relieving reaction.

This is the equivalent of having a huge sign hanging over the whole bloody Arab World:
Arbeit Macht Frei……..
Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

A Dummy’s Haiku Guide to Free Speech in the Middle East: from Islamic to Nomadic to ……..

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Haiku:
About Free Speech…
Can it be free at a price?………..
Tell our leaders…….

So what is this “free speech” that many constitutions claim to allow but few actually do? Especially in the Middle East:

  • The Arab League considers free speech, to the extent that it considers anything seriously, as whatever each existing government in power wants it to be. Especially those regimes with deep pockets.
  • In Egypt, free speech is whatever does not criticize the president and insult the armed forces (apparently there is some difference), or mentions Mohammed Morsi without adding the term “deposed” as a prefix. Or anything that does not point out that Egypt (or even Cairo) are not, as the natives and a few Arabs claim, Mother of the World.
  • Al-Azhar sheikhs in Cairo define free speech as their interpretation of the  Holy Quran, the Hadith, and more importantly whatever the current president of the country says.
  • Less stable and more violent Arab countries have a more flexible definition of free speech. In Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, free speech is more nomadic: it depends on which part of the country you are in (and on who you are). Which might be considered by some as an improvement over what it is in other Middle East countries.
  • In Somalia, Sudan, and Djibouti, also considered “Arab” countries, you ask anyone about free speech and he or she might respond: WTF is that?
  • Free Speech in the whole “Persian-American” Gulf region will be covered in the next post, right after this one.
  • Western powers consider free speech in the Middle East as whatever encourages the ruling avaricious oligarchs to spend more money on weapons of death and repression.
  • Ist das klar?

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
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Saudis Reject Swedish Monkeys, Recall Their Own………

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“Saudi Arabia has refused to accept four tiny Amazonian monkeys from a Swedish zoo because of a diplomatic row, Swedish media report. The pygmy marmosets at Skansen zoo in Stockholm had been destined for a Riyadh zoo. “They didn’t want the monkeys anymore because of the political situation,” said Skansen zoo boss Jonas Wahlstrom. Last month the Saudi ambassador to Sweden was recalled, after Sweden ended an arms deal in a human rights dispute. Weighing just over 100 grams (3.5 oz) each pygmy marmosets are the smallest primates in the world. “It’s a little comical. I’ll just have to wait until they grant visas to Swedish businessmen again. Maybe monkeys will get visas then too,” said Mr Wahlstrom………….”

It started when the Saudis vetoed a scheduled speech by the Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallström to an Arab League meeting. The princes, who fancy they own the Arab League (they do), feared that the female minister would remind the Arab potentates and their minions of the HR words, Human Rights. So the dispute started and escalated.
The Saudis have not only refused to grant visas to the Swedish pygmy monkeys as well as to Swedes in general, they have also recalled their own marmoset ambassador from Stockholm, who is not a pygmy. Besides, my incredible source report that one famously loquacious traveling prince snorted, tongue-in-cheek, that “We don’t need them and their f–king monkeys. We have thousands of our own within the family”.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Arab Media Outlets: a Rainbow from the Mad to the Angry to the AIPAC to the Smart…….

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New Arab media sprout almost every day. Both online and offline. I am only listing some with the word “Arab” in them. Otherwise there are more, many many more. Briefly, here are some that exist now, some that will exist, some that should exist, and some that should not exist:

Al-Quds Al-Arabi (=Arab Jerusalem):London-based. Used to be Qatari-funded but pro-Palestinian. Now totally Qatari-owned and nicely sectarian.
New Arab: sounds like Qatari or Emirati-funded propaganda website. I would guess more Qatari, tentatively.
Free Arabs: Not really ‘free’, me thinks. U.S. based, a bit cutesy. Seems more like it should be renamed AIPAC Arab or some other pro-Likud or Mujahideen Khalq or Neoconservative funded group.

AlArabiya: owned by an in-law of the Saudi royal family. Has close ties with Asharq Alawsat which is owned by Saudi King Salman.
AlArab:news network owned by Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal (he sued Forbes for underestimating his wealth). Now looking for a home base after being kicked out of Bahrain on its first and last day of broadcasting.
Angry Arab: I don’t know who the hell funds this one. Almost certainly self-funded from the sale of non-Israeli hummus.
Mad Arab: partly owned by Alfred E. Neuman and his wife.
Arab Garlic: partly owned by The Onion but based in Gilroy, California.
Humorless Arab: you’d think it is a Jordanian outlet, but t goes deeper than tat……
Pissed off Arab: just about anybody between Bahrain and Casablanca who is not a ruler, relative of a ruler, or minion of a ruler.
Stoned Arab: almost certainly headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Dumb Arab: probably based and operated by the League of Arab Nations (Arab League).
Smart or Thinking Arab: in exile, in prison, dead, or ruling the rest of them.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Swedish-Saudi Wars: Arab League as Chopped Liver……..

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Sweden is one of a few ‘Western’ nations that has had good relations with almost all Muslim or Arab countries. They even recently recognized “a” palestinian state, whatever that may happen to be. That is not to say that I like all their successive governments. Sweden has even started dabbling in arms-for-money deals with despotic absolute Arab regime, including Saudi Arabia, in recent years.

The foreign minister of Sweden was invited to speak to a meeting of the Arab League (actually it is a Saudi-UAE League) a few days ago. The Saudis decided to prevent her from speaking, and they did. Shows you who “owns” the Arab League. The rest of the Arab delegates were as silent as chopped liver. They were afraid that, being a Suédoise, she would mention the unmentionable: “human rights”, “corruption”, and maybe even worse. The shaikhs may have fatwa-edd that uttering some of these words would send anyone straight to the fires of hell.
Now Sweden has decided to review its policy of supplying arms to the Saudi regime. Which pissed off the Saudi princes, who usually feel entitled because they believe their money makes them entitled to a lot of special European ‘consideration’. The princes have recalled their ambassador to Stockholm. Which has depressed the ambassador, since he will have to spend not only St. Patrick’s Day and Easter, but also the coming beautiful Swedish summer in the arguably the most boring capital in the whole wide world, Riyadh.
That is where things stand now…..

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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From Yemen to Somalia: Failed Arab States and the Sectarian Tribal Narrative…….

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“The capital of Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest and perhaps most chronically unstable nation, has new masters. Anti-American Shiite rebels man checkpoints and roam the streets in pickups mounted with anti-aircraft guns. The fighters control almost all state buildings, from the airport and the central bank to the Defense Ministry. Only a few police officers and soldiers are left on the streets……….”

This title of “Arab world’s poorest and perhaps most chronically unstable nation” is debatable. The Arab world includes other candidates for this honor that are also members of the Arab League: Somalia, Mauretania, Sudan, Djibouti, the Comoros. So, there are several candidates for this honorary title. And if the unrest and war and mayhem continue to spread, several more Arab states may also join the competition. Libya, liberated by NATO and Bernard-Henri Levy and John McCain in 2011, may be well on its own merry way toward that list.
This piece looks like it could have been edited by Saudi and UAE censors before its final version was approved. I like the part about “Anti-American Shiite rebels“: a cute but useful touchThey tend to use the “sectarian” angle whenever they can, these Persian Gulf princes and potentates. I am not sure the Houthis actually think of imitating Hezbollah, they have their own very complex Yemeni issues to deal with. The sectarian narrative is not as powerful or clear-cut in Yemen as it is in Lebanon and Iraq and Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, for example. It is complicated by tribal and regional issues. And they don’t have the Israeli military on their border as a further distraction.
But I can see the temptation, at least from a Western point of view, to simply declare them the “new Hezbollah”. One size fits all: it is simpler that way.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

ISIS and the Arabs: a Standing Joke of a League…….

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Back to my last post about President Obama’s ISIS speech:
One or two of the experts, in their post-speech comments, lamely suggested the Arab League, a useless gathering of mostly dictators and absolute tribal kings with little moral standing. It is now dominated by the same princes and potentates who spawned and nurtured groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS and their ilk.

Among many ordinary Arabs, the only standing the Arab League bureaucracy has is as a standing joke. A place to bury aging senior Arab (especially Egyptian) bureaucrats before they die. Only Western, specifically American politicians and pundits would suggest the Arab League as a mover and shaker, and with a straight face. But that is probably only because it can be useful to them as a fig leaf.

Don’t get me wrong, the idea of an Arab League can eventually be a good one, nay a necessary one. But that can be only after all member states hold free and unfettered elections. You figure out the timetable.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Two-Front War on the Gaza Ghetto: Role of the Bloody Arab Hands ………


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Gaza is facing a two-front war, and the people of Gaza are facing two determined enemies. This has been the case for years. World media is pre-occupied with only one front of this newest Gaza-Israeli war. But this has always been a two-front war, with the people of Gaza and their Hamas fundamentalist rulers facing two hostile enemy fronts. We all know about the northern-eastern front with Israel, but the other front helps weaken the Gazans and directly helps the Israeli assault. 

The second front, the southern front with Egypt should be considered worse from an Arab point of view. Egypt has always been part of the strategy to defeat Hamas by starving out the people of Gaza in their ghetto, a ghetto created largely by Arab regimes collaborating with the Israeli government blockade. Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi, new Mubarakist leader of Egypt, is tightening the screws on Gaza even as his Israeli allies are bombing and shelling the hell out of them. Even as much of Arab media, mostly controlled by Persian Gulf princes and potentates, focus on the northern front with Israel, preferring not to shed any light on the role of the Likudnik Egyptian regime in the Israeli strategy.

When it comes to the suffering of the Palestinian people of Gaza and shedding their blood, the culprits with bloody hands are not only Israeli forces, but Arab dictators and tribal princes from Cairo to Riyadh.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Trapped and Eyeless in Gaza: Hamas and Mossad, Arabs and the Memory of Badr and an Earlier Ramadan……


Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter “The Egyptian cease-fire proposal that was published Monday night took most members of the diplomatic-security cabinet by complete surprise. Economy Minister Naftali Bennett heard about it in a television studio moments before going on air. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman heard about it on the radio. A senior Israeli official said Lieberman knew that talks were being held with the Egyptians, but had no idea a proposal was being finalized. Upon hearing the news, he realized that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who were running the talks, had left him out of the loop………………”

Modern Arab legend has it that the Israelis were instrumental in the rise of Hamas. The somewhat credible story is that way back in the days when the PLO, Fatah, PFLP and all the other secular Palestinian acronyms were bugging Israel, the Israelis thought of encouraging some rivals to distract them. That the Mossad helped the growth of what the Palestinians call ‘Islamic resistance’. It was a classic example of the old ‘divide and rule’. The rest is history, allegedly, but in fact credibly. It is not clear how aware the ‘Islamists’ were of the alleged Israeli role on their behalf.

Now back to the current. No wonder Hamas leaders were unhappy, nay fundamentally pissed. No wonder they rejected a deal they did not know any details of. Of course Hamas may now be somewhat trapped, more trapped than Benyamin Netanyahu, since both are not sure what to do next. In some ways Hamas’s task is easier: it mostly reacts. All it has been doing so far has been to duck the air raids and missiles, occasionally firing a few rockets that apparently do little serious harm. In other words, they only respond to Israeli action, which puts them in a weak position.

Netanyahu is also trapped: his biggest problem now is what to do next if Hamas continues to reject the deal he made privately with Al Sisi (and perhaps with the knowledge of Abu Mazen whose legal tenure in office also expired long ago)?

As for the people of Gaza, they are even more painfully trapped than either Hamas or Israel, screwed by almost all sides, to put it crudely. As usual they pay the terrible price of this new brutal Israeli assault, which was claimed to be a reaction to Hamas actions in which the people of Gaza have no input. The last Palestinian elections were so long ago, that was when Hamas won. But we don’t know how new elections will turn out in both Gaza and the West Bank. Provided they are free and fair elections.

As for the other Arab regimes they are as usual divided and impotent. They all mouth some vague verbal support for ‘Gaza’, but some of the potentates are no doubt praying fervently this Ramadan for an outright Israeli victory. (They would be praying silently, with the history of the Battle of Badr in mind during an earlier Ramadan). They have done it before, they will do it again.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

What is an Arab Worth? One Gaza Headline Worth a Thousand Words……


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Breaking News! One Israeli soldier wounded near Gaza ……..

This was an Al Mayadeen TV tweeted headline this morning (about 30 minutes ago): Breaking News! One Israeli soldier wounded near Gaza ……..

This headline about sums up the whole current situation of the Arab peoples: futility, impotence, low relative worth (compared to an Israeli, for example).

One Israeli soldier may have been wounded near Gaza. Yes, there is some hope now. It will probably be picked up by others as well and headlined as……. what? A glimmer of hope? A straw? Need I say more?

I will: there has been no Arab uprisings, no Arab revolutions, nothing has changed. Mubarak rules Egypt disguised as Al Sisi, Assad rules Damascus disguised as Assad, undisguised Al Saud princes rule through petro-money far beyond their own captive peoples, Saddam Hussein rules Mosul now disguised as someone else, otherwise impotent Arab potentates still lord it over their miserable fiefdoms.

Change will not come through movements sponsored by petroleum media like Aljazeera and Alarabiya. Change will only come when actual brick and marble palaces are literally stormed, when generals and field marshals are sent to……. wherever the hell they deserve to be sent to.

Otherwise the current exchange rate of one Israeli for two thousand Arabs will continue and get worse.

Cheers

Mohammed  Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com