Category Archives: Arab Media

The War in Yemen: Exactly Whose Side is Allah On?…..

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Saudi media, like most Arab and Middle East and Muslim states media, is controlled or severely-monitored by the state. Like most Middle East media, the reporting on the news reflects the state’s official policy. This is also true for Iran and especially for Turkey and to a much lesser extent for Israel.

The war in Yemen has not been going well for the Saudi side. The Houthi militias and their army allies have been stubborn in resisting the attempted well-armed and well-financed foreign assault. Moreover, the ISIS and AQAP terrorist groups have grown stronger in South Yemen, the main sector of operations for Saudis, Emiratis, and their hired African allies like Sudan and others (in addition to logistical and intelligence, air-fueling, and the siege help by the USA and Britain).

The Yemenis are also taking the war seriously into southern Saudi territory, areas some Yemenis still remember were their own land before the Saudis annexed them. It is almost like a war between the Yemenis and most of the rest of the world, and the lightly-armed and besieged Yemenis are winning so far.

More recently the attacking coalition has been losing some expensive aircraft. Apparently God, Allah, or Yahweh has decided to join the Houthi-Salih alliance for now. According to Saudi and UAE media, all their warplane and helicopter losses have been due to “bad weather”. Occasionally “technical issues” are mentioned. This scape-goating has not escaped the notice of some Yemeni commentators on social media. Since bad weather, like good weather, is the work of God, I lean toward concluding that God is moving against the Salafi-Wahabi-Muslim Brotherhood coalition fighting in Yemen. To further complicate matters, Arab media report that the UAE has its own plans for South Yemen, possibly as an independent-again entity but dependent on Abu Dhabi for financial support.

So that is where it stands. You’d think Allah would side with the good pious Salafis, Wahhabis, and MB against an alliance that is dominated by Zaidi quasi-Shi’as with alleged ties to Persian Magi heretics. But apparently not this time, not yet. I personally suspect that HE is remaining neutral in this Yemeni folly.

(Which also brings up another point embarrassing to many Salafis: how come Allah always allows the Israeli Jews to easily win all their wars against the Arabs (except for one in Lebanon)? True, they are a People of the Book, HIS earliest clients, but to the Salafis they are still accursed heathens and, as their more rabid Salafi shaikhs always claim at the mosques, “descendants of pigs and monkeys”).

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Trump and Media Freedom: Is He Going Arab and Muslim?………

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“We get reaction from media scholar Robert McChesney to news that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is reportedly considering suing The New York Times after it ran a major report on his past treatment of women, and has vowed to make it easier to sue news organizations. Lawsuits are not the solution, McChesney says. “Instead, it is to broaden it, enrich it, create new voices and fund new voices so we actually have the diverse marketplace of ideas.………”

Democracy Now! headlines this as: Trump Vows to Sue New York Times in Latest Show of Disregard for Freedom of Press.

What is the fuss? This happens all the time in the Middle East, and not just in the Arab states or in the Gulf states. Governments, prosecutors, even foreign embassies now sue any journalist, politician, or just plain citizen for insulting some king, prince, or dictator.
Often on the Gulf, foreign Arab embassies pressure host governments to sue and prosecute their local critics. They mostly like to sue and arrest anyone who posts on social media, since they can’t completely own and control this type of media.

Just recently, Turkey‘s dour Islamist strongman Erdogan even managed to intimidate Germany to prosecute a German cartoonist who mocked him. In Germany! Instead of Turkey adapting to European standards of freedom of expression, the Germans were forced to adopt the Turkish standards.

Donald Trump is just being Arab-ized and Islam-ized.

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

New Old Saudi Vision of Total Conformism: from Riyadh to Pyongyang………

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“The Council of Ministers endorsed during its session on Monday under the chairmanship of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. The Cabinet session was devoted to discuss the vision, which was drafted by the Council of Economic and Development Affairs upon instructions of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. Following is the text of Saudi Arabia’s vision 2030……..”

The new phrase Saudi Vision 2030 has been covered extensively in Saudi, Gulf, and some Arab media. There has been some good coverage in international media as well, until a heavy dose of realistic skepticism set in. I am in no position to openly express my own judgment yet, but I will soon. There is certainly a need to look beyond the years of oil boom, a need for some new (and serious) vision.

Yet I don’t like the quick and intimidating cheering in the Gulf GCC region, the exclusion and rejection of any doubt or questioning.  No debate of  such a vital issue. The distinctly Saudi conformism that is spreading to all GCC states.

As expected, Saudi and Gulf GCC media are not critical: not one iota of criticism or healthy (or unhealthy) doubt has been expressed. A lot of enthusiasm has been expressed, in blissful ignorance. Suddenly everybody on the Arab shores of the Gulf is as conformist as any good Saudi citizen in Riyadh or Qassim, anyone who is not in the safety of foreign exile or in a local prison. It is like the old days when Saddam was issuing his Baathist drivel across the Persian Gulf media and nobody was allowed to criticize him.

No doubt there are many ‘secret’ doubters, especially in the other Gulf GCC states if not in heavily brain-washed Saudi Arabia, but they dare not express their doubt. It is almost like having Kim Jong Un of North Korea (the Cute Leader) publish an economic “vision” for his country! Nobody would even think of criticize him in old Pyongyang.

Similarly, some Persian Gulf states are moving rapidly toward a new common repressive model. Even in places where the press “used to be” relatively free. Criticism of the plan by Prince Mohammed, the the favorite son and possible successor of King Salman, would be considered “insulting a sisterly or brotherly” state. That is a new category of crime that could land you in prison anywhere in the GCC (as in Pyongyang).

If the open doubter is a true Wahhabi terrorist-supporter he could go to prison and maybe get rehabilitated from his doubts. If he is a Shi’a agitator or doubter, he will likely be charged with “terrorism” and lose his head to a sword.

But is this emperor, in this case Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and his vision, also naked (as in the famous parable or fable)? I am not certain yet. That will be covered in a new post coming soon to a theater right here. I have not read the detailed outlines of this economic vision in detail, yet. Who knows, I might become an enthusiastic supporter as well.
But the devil is in the details.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

A Tour of Middle East Media………..

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Here is a summary of what Middle East media seem to focus on in recent days (besides ISIS cutthroats and daily terrorism):

  • Saudi media and its reporters and columnists always write and say: (1) how bad and dangerous Iranian policy is; (2) how wise are the policies of the Saudi King and his son and crown prince; (3) how they seek to liberate Syria, Yemen, and Iraq for freedom, democracy, and the American Way of Life; (4) how the whole world is grateful for the polygamous wisdom of the princes.
  • Iranian media much of the time report: (1) how bad and dangerous are Saudi policies; (2) how wise are the policies of Iran; (3) how the West and Zionists (not the Wahhabis) have created the sectarianism that plagues the Middle East. How otherwise all Muslims would live in peace and harmony, how all the kings, princes, dictators, and mullahs can get along if left alone. (4) They also report a lot (like every week) about their most recent domestic weapons development that they claim can match anything the West sells their neighbors across the Persian Gulf.
  • Qatari media and their reporters try to be subtle, unsuccessfully. They mostly report on how wise Qatari policies are. They only hint at how dangerous Iranian policies are and how stupid Saudi policies and their surrogates are.
  • UAE media and their reporters mostly focus on: (1) how dangerous the Muslim Brotherhood are, (2) how wise the Abu Dhabi ruling brothers are, and (3) how they should control the Strait of Hormuz (no doubt through their mercenary forces hired from Colombia and Australia).
  • Egyptian media now focus on blasting anyone who questions president Al Sisi. Occasionally they warn of Muslim Brotherhood “terrorism”, and repeat Al Azhar warnings that Shi’as might be spreading their ideology in the heart of Cairo.
  • Israeli English media are obsessed with Palestinians (naturally), Hezbollah, and are now paying attention to ISIS. They seem to be disengaging a bit now from Iran. They are also somewhat typically Middle Eastern and Arab in their ethnic focus: they seems obsessed with which Hollywood Oscar celebrity or Nobel Prize winner is Jewish (there are so many that it shouldn’t be news anymore). They also seem to have forgotten what a pre-Likud era was like.
  • In Turkey, the pro-regime media are obsessed with real or imagined insults to “national pride”, WTF that be, and with persistent Armenian ghosts, and how the Russians (and maybe the Iranians and Lebanese) messed up their plans for the liberation and Islamization of Syria.
  • Lebanese media are concerned with who will become a figurehead president, and now increasingly with the threat of Jihadi terrorism. They also always seem concerned with which country can make the largest platter of hummus or Kenafa. And also with Amal Clooney’s latest attire.
    Alles klar?

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
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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 Tighten Grip on Middle East Media: from Newspapers to Satellite TV……….

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The editor of an Arab web newspaper reports on how the Saudis are tightening their grip on Middle East media. Oddly, he himself helped that by reportedly selling his previous newspaper to the Qataris. That came after years of reports that the paper was in fact financed by the Qatari potentates.

Saudi Arabia, like other Persian Gulf potentates, has tightened its grip on Arab media over the past decade. The Gulf princes and potentates have bought previously independent publications like Asharq Alawsat and Al-Hayat and Al-Quds Al-Arabi and various Lebanese and satellite TV channels. They also own Alarabiya and AlJazeera networks. Among many others. The Qataris and the Emirati potentates (Middle East Online) also own their own share of Arab media.

Yet independent anti-Saudi networks have persisted and continue to provide some alternatives to the Wahhabi narrative. They find vast Arab audiences who do not cotton up to official or controlled semi-official media. Now the Saudis have the hit upon the practice of forcing Arab satellites to ban channels they do not own or like. One such satellite, ArabSat, is located in the Saudi capital Riyadh. Saudi Arabia has recently forced ArabSat to bloc unfriendly Arab networks from using it to broadcast. The kingdom owns about 40% of the capital of the ArabSat. These blocked channels have originated from various Middle East countries. Yet in this day and age it is impossible to completely bloc undesirable networks. The Internet is a great equalizer for now.

What will be next? Arab royal control and restrictions on international Social Media like Twitter and Facebook? Highly unlikely since they can buy a company but they can’t buy the American ingenuity that creates the likes of these social media. And they can’t keep their client accounts. They can try to establish their own social media, but the Iranian mullahs once threatened the same until they realized the futility of it.

Stay tuned………….
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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Media Wars: Can Saudis and Qataris Buy the Hearts and Minds of the Arab World?……….

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“As with its military operation in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is throwing a great deal of money and resources into media backing for the government of President Abd-Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. In short order, it has helped equip and launch two satellite TV channels supporting the exiled president, as well as an alternative version of Yemen’s official news agency. Meanwhile, TV channels sympathetic to the Huthi movement are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their broadcasts via satellite as the main regional operators suspend their transmissions…………… At the regional level, the two leading pan-Arab TV news channels – the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya and Qatar’s Al-Jazeera – have put aside their differences over Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood and are both running a similar anti-Huthi, and sometimes anti-Iranian, line on Yemen, as is the Abu-Dhabi-based Sky News Arabia…………..”

The Yemenis can defeat, truly trounce, the Saudi forces and their hired allies in any battle. But they don’t have a chance in the media war, almost nobody in the region does. The potentates certainly have not held back on spending money on acquiring old Arab media and establishing new ones. Nobody in the Middle East has such unrestricted access to financial resources, and they have been buying.

Two undemocratic anti-democratic absolute tribal dynasties now dominate the Arab media, both old media and new media. The two Wahhabi regimes, the little one in Qatar and the bigger one in Riyadh are almost in control of much Arab media narrative. Their message is heavily sectarian, not always subtle, the best way to divert attention away from royal corruption and the natural human demands for freedom and self determination. The two Wahhabi financial powers seek to dominate the majority non-Wahhabi Sunni Arab minds while marginalizing and often demonizing Shi’a Arabs (and non-Arabs).

Can they win, nay buy, the hearts and minds in the vast Arab region that extends from Baghdad to Morocco? They can only influence some minds, but they can’t win,  nor buy, any hearts. Hearts cannot be bought. The princes and potentates can’t win any outside their own domain.
    

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Prince Al-Waleed Suspended in Bahrain……….

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“Alarab, the pan-Arab news channel, was suspended from broadcasting from its home in Bahrain on Monday, just hours after it went on air.
The station said on its official Twitter feed that coverage was halted for “technical and administrative reasons,” and that it hopes to be back on the air soon. It went live on Sunday afternoon……….”

It is located in Bahrain, although like other Saudi networks it is owned by a prince, Prince Al-Waleed. Bahrain is now a Saudi appendix, and the new King Salman may not be finished with his palace coup against his relatives. So you can reach your own conclusions……
This AlArab network is/was supposed to compete with Alarabiya (also Saudi semi-official network) and Al-Jazeera (Qatari official).
Stay tuned….

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Gulf Creative Thinkers and Oligarchs Hail Field Marshal Al Sisi……..

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Egyptian official daily Al Ahram quotes a Kuwait newspaper that Generalisimo Field Marshal El Presidente Al Sisi met in Cairo with a delegation of businessmen and “thinkers” from Kuwait.

Now I know we have some “thinkers” back home, but I never knew we had dedicated full-time, 24/7 thinkers who did nothing but think. And what better topic to think of than the greatness of Generalisimo Field Marshal El Presidente Al Sisi?

Mr. A. Al Babtain, a big businessman and president of Al Babtain Institute for “Creativity”, of course led the delegation of businessmen and, er, full-time “thinkers” who like to tag along with businessmen on travels to visit Al Sisi in Egypt.

He, Al the businessman, reportedly did not surprise Generalisimo Field Marshal El Presidente Al Sisi by telling him that the great trust the Egyptian people have shown Generalisimo Field Marshal El Presidente Al Sisi extends to the whole wide wonderful Arab world (although it may not sell in Peoria). That he is universally admired and loved, even if he can’t sing worth a lick. No opinion polls needed, no free and fair elections necessary.

In the spirit of meeting these “thinkers”, Al Sisi must also be thinking something like: “Wow, being president is neat. How else could I get to meet full-time 24/7 Gulf ‘thinkers’ and oligarchs in one meeting“.


Odd, though this Insitute of Creativity. I had thought “thinkers” only thought and never created anything besides thoughts (and maybe a couple of mundane regular everyday things that I should not mention here).

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