Category Archives: Arab Media

The Fake Facade of Trump’s Saudi Summit Collapses, GCC at War Within Itself………

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

Did Donald Trump stir up a hornets nest during his Saudi visit? Apparently he did: for now we know that all did not go as smoothly as we were told and shown on television.

Strange events erupted as soon as Trump left Riyadh. Reportedly some discord existed from the beginning of the Summit, but they tried to sweep it under the red carpets. All the media propaganda about policy coordination vanished after Trump left with his Saudi money prize. And Iran had nothing to do with it this time! Only the diehards of the discredited ruling family in Bahrain would blame any outsider this time.
Two days after the departure of the Trump Circus from the so-called Arab-Islamic-American Summit all hell broke loose. The carefully presented facade collapsed:
Some countries complained that they were promised by the Saudi foreign minister Adle Al Jubeir that there will be no resolution condemning Iran. There are many Muslim and Arab countries present that have good relations with both sides. Some of them had left Riyadh before the communique/resolution was crafted and issued by allegedly American-Saudi-GCC staff. The Lebanese Foreign Minister openly hinted that Al Jubeir lied to him about that. Countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, the Central Asian Republics, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, a couple of Gulf GCC members, among many others, have close or cordial relations with Iran.

Independent Arab media also report continued disputes during and after the Summit involving other countries. Including Egypt and Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Erdogan of Turkey and Oman downgraded the meeting by sending ministers instead of heads of state. Lebanon’s president and Iraqi Prime Minister did not attend.

American media got the fake news that the Saudis and the Trump team wanted them to hear. That is the fake facade that we saw on CNN, Fox, MSNBC, ABC, etc. A lot of cleverly orchestrated Fake News.

It all collapsed as soon as Air Force One left Riyadh.

Other developments occurred within the GCC itself:
The Bahrain regime decided to storm a Shi’a town, the home of the most senior Shi’a cleric who is currently under arrest and incommunicado. Battles ensued between regime forces/mercenaries and supporters of the opposition. Five young men were shot dead, some wounded, almost three hundred arrested.
Almost simultaneously, a strong war of words and media broke out between Qatar on one side, and the UAE and Saudi Arabia on the other (I consider the Bahrain regime an appendix of the Saudi regime).

The Qatari Emir was quoted saying that some Gulf states practice an extremist form of Islam that encourages terrorism. Guess who he meant by that? Saudi and UAE media blasted the Qataris and blocked Qatari media broadcasts (AlJazeera, etc). The Qatari Emir was also quoted that Iran is not a threat, that it has been reasonable, that there are other more serious threats. Some interpreted this to mean Saudi Arabia.
There has been speculation initially, and some claims, that the Qatari Emir was misquoted, that someone hacked into the media outlets. But that now seems unlikely, for the media attacks continue. This was has been confirmed, as the Saudi-UAE war of words and threats against Qatar continues. Qatar is, of course, an independent country that can craft its own foreign policy without kowtowing to the Saudi princes and their march towards another losing war in the Persian Gulf.

There have been suggestions that the US Central Command should move its regional headquarters from Qatar. Mostly by old American Neocons and those with close Saudi ties.

Stay tuned for more….
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

New Syria War Plan: From Humorless Jordan to the Iraqi Border………

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

Independent Arab media are a rare breed these days. They are those that are not owned (bought or bribed) by the potentates of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, or the UAE. Nor those owned or controlled by other dictators. It is often hard to tell which media are independent, or who owns what. Western reports often refer to Asharq AlAwsat (London: owned by Saudi king Salman & sons) or AlHayat (London: owned by Prince Khalid Bin Sutan) as “independent Arab newspapers. Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London) is now fully owned by the Qatari royals. Al-Arab (London) is owned by the UAE potentates. Various radio and television networks blanketing the Arab world and Europe are owned by the princes now (AlJazeera, AlArabiya, MBC, LBC, etc etc).

Independent Arab media, outside Lebanon and maybe Iraq, are now mainly located in Europe. Mainly in London. Oddly side by side with much of the private media owned by Arab royal princes.

The few remaining independent Arab media now report ominous developments occurring along the border of Humorless Kingdom of Jordan and Syria. They report that thousands of fighters have been trained by Americans, British, and Jordanians to fight inside Syria. Presumably these fighters are ‘moderate’ Syrian Jihadi rebels. Presumably. There have also been pictures of heavy military equipment gathered along the Jordanian border.

The Syrians have warned Jordan not to interfere in their country, but the Arab oil money is apparently too good for the humorless king of Jordan to resist. The reported plan is to enter Syria from the south, near where the border with both Jordan and Iraq meet, not far from the Saudi border. The reported plan is to move quickly toward strategic points along the eastern border of Syria. Far away from Russian, Iranian, Hezbollah, and Turkish zones of influence. Effectively further partitioning Syria.

Either to help create a secessionist part in eastern Syria, or to block an Iranian connection from Iraq into Syria and then into Lebanon. Likely both are considered worthy targets.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Image Problem of Arab Regimes: from Incredibly Mediocre to Incredibly Criminal……..

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking


“DUBAI: An Arab News panel discussion held on Tuesday proposed solutions to the Middle East’s image problem in the West, as new research emerged illustrating the severity of the US “knowledge gap” about the region. The panel, held at the Arab Media Forum in Dubai, detailed the importance of cultural diplomacy, effective government communication and the importance of student exchange programs in boosting awareness…….” Arab News (Saudi)

Sometimes I suspect that the ruling Arab oligarchs can never learn. In fact I am convinced that they can never learn about some issues. So many of these media events are staged, all blaming outsiders (the West) for the lousy image Arabs have.
I’ve got news for them, but I suspect they already know: the blame lies squarely with the Arab ruling classes. They are almost uniformly oppressive. At best these ruling classes are incredibly mediocre, at worst they are incredibly criminal (including many regimes perceived as being allies of the West).

So this panel, and many other events before it and after it, all seek ways to to improve the “image” of Arabs in the world. Meaning to improve the image of Arab regimes: the potentates, princes, and dictators. Arab regimes, mostly corrupt and repressive, confuse the image of their countries with their own image.
Such staged media events are part of a “real” and not just perceived Arab problem. The “image” is bad because the “reality” as imposed by the ruling oligarchs is bad. Staged media events or highly-paid lobbyists in Washington and London cannot hide the reality.
Arab regimes and their controlled media want to change the image without changing the reality. Getting rid of the symptom will not cure the illness. Morphine makes the pain go away but only for a while. The disease outlasts the patient if a serious “cure” is not applied.


How about ending the wold-class repression and corruption: that should go a long way towards improving the “image” of Arab oligarchs.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Kissing It in Arabia: Saudis Discern a Trump ‘Axis of Adults’, or is it an ‘Axis of Kissers of Trump’s Rump’?………

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“Trump’s ‘Axis of Adults’ sends powerful messages to Iran. In Washington, they call them the “Axis of Adults” — Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, National Security Adviser Herbert McMaster, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Nikki Haley, the ambassador to the UN. These are the pillars of the Trump-Pence administration, if not the pillars of the state. Other influential stakeholders exist. There is the wing led by Jared Kushner, son-in-law of the president, which includes his Wall Street friends Gary Cohen and Dina Habib Powell, who is deputy national security adviser. There is also a rival wing led by Donald Trump’s top adviser, the hawkish Steve Bannon. The so-called Axis of Adults has taken advantage of the tension between the two in the White House to make inroads into Trump’s heart and mind………” Arab News (Saudi)

First time I read, or hear, about “Trump’s Heart and Mind”. Didn’t know he had either. Now that is ‘kissing it’ creatively, Saudi style…..
“How do I dish thee out, oh journalistic rubbish?…..
Let me count the ways……..”

When it comes to hypocrisy towards potentates or towards a new US president, nobody can do it like Saudi semi-official media. Networks (Alarabiya), Newspapers (Asharq Alawsat, Al-Hayat), English Dailies like Arab News. All owned by princes and potentates. They hire the best, most sycophant media writers, mainly Lebanese but also other Arabs.
A few months ago Donald Trump was a pariah in Arab media. They thought their old pal Hillary Clinton will win and Trump was royally trashed in their controlled media. It is quite a different story now. Trump has been transformed into a genius. He hasn’t been elevated to the ranks of the Early Muslim Pioneers, the Sahaba, yet. But watch out!

How does an Axis of Kissers of Trump’s Rump sounds? That is what it is, but British prime minister Theresa May actually beat them to it last January. In front of a hundred cameras at the White House.


Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

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?………

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“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………

Shuwaikh-school1 Hiking Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Me1 (2)

“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………..

Shuwaikh-school1 Hiking Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 ا

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
Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

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

Shuwaikh-school1 Hiking Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2

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
Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Saudis Tighten Grip on Middle East Media: from Newspapers to Satellite TV……….

Shuwaikh-school1 Hiking Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 ChristmasPeanutsA

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

Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter