Category Archives: Arab Politics

Dhahran Summit of the Incompetent and the Impotent and General Sisi’s Plastic Missiles……..

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Arab leaders started their annual summit yesterday. This year it is in Dhahran (Zahran), Saudi Arabia, right on the Persian Gulf, right over the oil fields. Right across the waterway from Iran and the scowling ayatollahs. One can imagine that you can see the mountains of Iran if you squint hard enough, if you can see through all the Western naval warships clogging my Gulf.
These Western warships that are there presumably to deter an alleged Iranian attack that will never materialize, that has not materialized in over two centuries.

So far in my lifetime (and in my father’s and my grandfather’s lifetime), the only aggression in my Gulf has been committed by one Arab country against another, in one case by one Arab country against Iran:

Kuwait was invaded from what is now called Saudi Arabia at least twice, last time in the 1920s.
Kuwait was often threatened and then actually invaded and occupied by Baathist Iraq in 1990. Only the USA and Western allies liberated it, with some token Arab forces.

Yemen was invaded at least twice from Saudi Arabia. Large chunks of its territory were annexed, Israeli-style, by the Saudis during the last century.

Yemen has been, still is, the target of daily bombing and genocide by Saudi Arabia with active British-American help for the past three years.

Bahrain has been the beneficiary of a joint Saudi-UAE expeditionary force that helps the ruling family crush a popular uprising and the popular calls for reform.

Qatar was the target of a Saudi-instigated coup in the 1990s. It failed and several high Saudi intelligence officials were jailed in Doha for years. Now Qatar is again the target of a Cuba-style economic and total blockade from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Bahrain and Qatar have had their territorial disputes and clashes for decades.

Iraq invaded Iran in 1980, starting a war that lasted eight year. That losing war bankrupted Iraq and was the beginning of the end of the Baath regime of Saddam Hussein.
And there is more….

This Dhahran summit was weakly-attended: several Arab leaders sent second or third or even fourth rate representatives. The Emir of Qatar was smart enough to stay home; he probably did not want to be taken hostage by the fellow Arab princes of Riyadh. He remembers what happened to Lebanon’s Saad Hariri last year. Algeria, Oman, Morocco, even the UAE downgraded their delegates.

Bashar Al Assad would not stoop to attend the summit even if he were invited. There was no mention of the GCC crisis, of the Arab blockade of Qatar, of the Western attack on Syria.

The Saudi king declared that the Dhahran Summit will be called the Jerusalem Summit (presumably to celebrate his new friend Trump’s move of the US embassy).

In recent decades, Arab summits have been impotent gatherings of incompetent leaders. In the shadow of the huge American and British armadas and military bases, the Saudi king talked against “foreign” interference in Arab affairs. As if the NATO military forces and bases dotting my Gulf region were purely Arab forces.

In my lifetime, I have never seen the Arab world in such disarray and weakness, largely controlled by outside powers: be they American, Iranian, Israeli, or Turkish. This was probably the worst summit of them all, and the most hypocritical.

Its incompetence was summarized by Egyptian dictator Generalissimo Al Sisi, who raged against what he called “plastic” missiles being fired from Yemen in retaliation for constant Saudi bombing. I believe Al Sisi meant “ballistic” missiles. But he was onto something, inadvertently. The huge Arab armies, very expensively armed by the West to face a non-existing enemy across the Persian Gulf, are almost like “plastic” missiles. They are useless without Western help, guidance, and management. And very likely they also need imported personnel to operate them…

Cheers (if you can)
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

 

Tweets on GroupThink: Alleged Syrian Chemical Red Lines and the Push for a ‘Trump’ Quagmire……….

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It is not clear what happened in Douma, Syria yesterday. US media and many politicians are accepting the rebel Islamist narrative that the regime used chemical weapons in Douma, just as the regime was about to take control of Douma anyway (without use of chemicals). I don’t know what happened, but I carry a bag of salt over my shoulder. Some of my (modified) tweets about the recent alleged chemical attacks in Syria:

Sen. Graham (former desk-bound lawyer for USAF- US Air Force): “he’s going to look weak in the eyes of Russia and Iran
He sure knows how to rile up the dotard…..
But Graham also has never seen a Middle East war he didn’t like….

I: He can punish Syria by having USAF carpet-bomb Damascus with millions of his inaugural photos…….

Hey, @realDonaldTrump, this is still valid —-> Donald Trump in Syria: Not Beau Geste, not Dien Bien Phu, not Khe Sanh, not Desert Storm……. 

US main media is urging “an attack” against Syria…
Saudi Arabian princes urging a war against Iran….
Israeli Likud urging war against Iran….
John Bolton acting as a Fifth Column for all of the above….

UN Security Council to meet today about Syrian chemical attack. Will not discus Israeli “illegal” air attack on Syria. Will not discuss US supported genocide in Yemen.

Russians claim they are in Douma now, see no chemical weapons effects. Call it a fabrication.

Most US GroupThink media are afraid to question all allegations….

All this obsession with “Red Lines“….. All this macho crap….
Democrats whining about Trump “abandoning” Syria ……

No mention of Obama….
Yet when when the quagmire materializes, they will scream a “Trump Quagmire!”

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

New Western Dreamers of Syria: Build the Wall, Build the Assad Wall…….

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State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) commented on USAID Mark Green’s visit to Syria with US Central Command Chief General Votel. She tweeted:
@USAIDMarkGreen’s visit to #Syria with General Votel of @CENTCOM….

I guess Syria now also needs a #BuildTheWall movement…….
After the first illegal cross border entry by a gaggle of US senators (McCain, Graham, et al), some Syrians could have been marching in the streets of Damascus, chanting: Build the Wall, BuildTheWall………
They did not at the time because the term Build The Wall was still unknown, the idea confined to Israel and the Palestinian and Occupied Territories. And some parts in the USA.

Yet no country has needed to build a wall as much as Syria in the past six years. Illegal infiltrators, without so much as a visa request, or a tour guide, have been sneaking in through Jordan, Iraq, Israel and especially Turkey. Arabs, Africans, Europeans, Chechens, and others along, with their concubines, converted on Syria, seeking to liberate it for the joys of pious Sunni fundamentalism.
They originally formed the backbone of Al Qaeda (or Nusra) and the ISIS (DAESH) cutthroat entities. Then we had a gaggle of US senators sneak in without an invite or a visa request, no doubt accompanied by Jihadi coyotes in civilian garb. The liberators all in ignorant bliss that they were fraternizing with Jihadis. The senators were hailed by US media of all stripes as they posed with Jihadi terrorists dedicated to the liberation of Syria from its secular (if repressive one party) path.

Now we have US forces and commanders sneaking into Syria, also without visa formalities. And these gentlemen apparently need no coyotes to guide them. They have drones and satellites. They were supposed to leave the premise within hours, before the Al Assad ICE agents descended on them and sent them back to some Turkish or Jordanian Tijuana or Ciudad Juarez.

But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asserts that many more, many American troops, perhaps thousands, will remain illegally in Syria for years. Perhaps as unofficial sitting ducks among various warring local and foreign factions bearing down on several sides. Perhaps with the eventual goal of becoming a sort of Syrian Dreamers, mostly dreaming of the day they could come back home to the USA.

Ditto for Iraq since 2003.

Then there is Israel, which sends warplanes and missiles and almost certainly infiltrators into Syria to blow up whatever the Likud does not like the look of. Even Donald Trump, the man who does nothing that does not pay off in cold cash, tossed a missile or two into an abandoned Syrian military base last year.

Saudi Arabia’s nearly-demented foreign minister Adle Al Jubeir every week insists that regime change is the path for Syria (but not for his own democratically elected Kingdom of Free Speech).

It is a wonder the Syrians did not start clamoring to “Build The Wall” all around their country. After all, Kim Jong Un of North Korea has built a stout wall, if only mainly to keep his people inside the nuclear paradise.

This story will continue…..

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

The First Frustration of Prince Bin Salman: Horrors of a Complex War in Yemen…….

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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, known affectionately and otherwise as MBS, has had a rocky period. But that is to be expected for a young man who finds himself suddenly at the helm of a country, purely by the coincidence of birth.
In fairness, Saudi Arabia and her allies (as well as little Qatar) were well on their way to losing the Northern Tier of the Arab World (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon) when his father Salman became king and started prepping his son to take over. By then it was almost certainly too late to roll back Iranian influence in those three countries.

But King Salman and his son and designated heir thought their first new foreign project, closer to home, would be easy. Piece of cake, as they say. Besides, Yemen is a sort of vulnerable underbelly of the Arabian Peninsula: it could be disastrous if controlled by a hostile power, like Iran. Unfortunately it was a piece of bitter hard Yemeni cake that they tried to swallow in the wrong way. By that time Yemen was engulfed in a complex of multiple domestic and regional wars that included AQAP, ISIS, Southern Secessionists, among others. A war of many fronts.

The Saudis should have known from their own recent experience that the Yemeni cake has always been too bitter and hard for outsiders if mishandled. Late in 2014 the largely autonomous northern Houthi group allied itself to influential former President Ali Abdallah Saleh and swept the corrupt Hadi-Islah regime out of Sanaa and the rest of North Yemen. Soon after that the new Saudi regime took power in Riyadh, with Prince MBS as its Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince. The 30-year old prince had the Yemen portfolio. Unfortunately he has proven that he is no Alexander.


The original goal of Saudi intervention was to put Saleh’s hapless but also corrupt successor General Hadi back in power, along with the Muslim Brotherhood oligarchs of the Islah and Al Ahmar clan. Hadi’s legal term had actually expired before then. So they blockaded Yemen, and started a ferocious campaign of air bombardment that has killed thousands of people and ruined the infrastructure of that poorest of Arab states. The Saudi war is also a war waged by the USA (under both Obama and Trump) as well as Britain against Yemen. Western powers not only supplied the weapons and the ammunition, including cluster bombs, they also help with targeting and midair refueling of Saudi/UAE bombers. Several impoverished African countries, including Sudan, were also bribed and recruited in order to provide mercenary fighters.

The futile genocidal war on Yemen has lasted three years so far, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel for the Saudis and their allies. It has been a drain on the Saudi economy, to the tune of many billions of dollars. The lightly armed Houthis have even taken the war back into southern Saudi Arabia, with attacks and occasional incursions into enemy territory. Only a political solution can end the Yemen war, which is actually a complex network of multiple civil and proxy wars.

(I had predicted early on that the deposed Hadi will never return to rule from Sanaa. He is now basically a captive of his hotel suite in Saudi Arabia).

Stay tuned. To be followed…..

THE WAR IN YEMEN: EXACTLY WHOSE SIDE IS ALLAH ON?…..

MIRACLE OF THE IRGC: SHIPPING WEAPONS TO YEMEN THROUGH WESTERN MEDIA……… 

YEMEN: A GENOCIDAL WAR OF CLASHING FOREIGN MERCENARIES……. 

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Political Prisons: What the Bastille, Tzarist Siberia, Stalin’s Gulag, Tehran’s Evin, and Saudi Ritz-Carlton Have in Common…..

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The French monarchy had the (now) notorious Bastille.
The Russian tzars had the vast Siberian land mass.
The Soviets had the infamous Lybyanka prison. (Stalin was familiar with cold exile from his days plotting against the tzars, thus he preferred to exile opponents and suspects to faraway cold places).
The Iranians (under both the Shah and the now-ruling mullahs) had/have the Evin prison in Tehran for their troublesome political dissidents.
Even Alexandre Dumas and Edmond Dantès had Château d’If, like Elba conveniently located close to France, from which one could only escape inside a coffin.

Now the Saudis have gone more 7-star in their prisons for the rich and famous corrupt rivals of crown prince MBS. Don’t get me wrong, they still have dungeons (no dragons) and cellars for ordinary dissidents and opponents. But this new purge of the young and reckless Crown Prince includes too many of the elite, who are used to luxury living. Some of these princes, potentates, and oligarchs now under detention would not survive in an ordinary prison. They would not even survive in a 3-star or maybe even 4-star hotel. Hence, as widely reported, the Ritz-Carlton of Riyadh. That super-luxury hotel is now a sort of prison.

That very same hotel that Donald Trump and his family and entourage occupied during the wild hootennany in the desert last May, when he was almost anointed the Sixth Pillar of Islam. That was when Mr. Trump, the foreign interloper from far away, handed the keys of the Persian Gulf and the Arab World to the Saudi princes, or so he naively and foolishly thought.
The Ritz-Carlton was (and still is) also in some ways, a prison for Donald Trump. The luxury, the accolades, the over-the-top praises, and mainly the huge sums of money offered, locked him into the dangerous and futile agenda of the princes.


Which brings me to the mysterious fate of Lebanon‘s prime minister Saad Hariri. Can he also be incarcerated at the Ritz-Carlton now? Mr. Hariri, normally Saudi Arabia’s proxy man in Lebanon, has his own residence in Riyadh. But even his supporters in Lebanon now concede that he is not free to travel from Saudi Arabia, that he is not allowed to com home to Beirut. Not yet. In effect: a prisoner of his former allies and bosses. That he can’t speak for himself after his Saudi hosts forced him to resign and deliver a speech they wrote for him. Even the U.S. State Department has hinted that maybe he is being held involuntarily in the Kingdom Without Magic.

I know: Saddam Hussein is dead. But, just in case, long live the new Saddam Hussein, whoever he is or will be…….

More later……

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Donald Trump the Peacemaker: New Apostle of Wahhabi Islam and Virgin Drivers……

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“The imam of the grand mosque of Mecca has claimed Donald Trump, the US and Saudi Arabia are “steering the world to peace”, in comments during a visit to New York that sparked an outcry on social media. They are “steering the world and humanity to the ports of security, peace and prosperity,” he added, claiming that the two countries should unite to “combat terrorism” and to “realise security and international peace”. The conference, on ‘Civilisational communication between the United States of America and the Islamic World‘…….”

No doubt the royal princes are now throwing all their eggs into the basket of Donald Trump. George W Bush refused to do their bidding in the Persian Gulf and wage another war after Iraq. Barack Obama mocked their sectarian war demands in his Atlantic Magazine interview. They have tried to get Netanyahu to go to war on their behalf, but he is no fool: he has been all talk and no action as far as my Gulf is concerned.

During the Riyadh Summit/Circus last May, I posted here about Donald Trump as the Sixth Pillar of Wahhabi Islam. I was referring to the extremely deferential way the Saudi leaders treated Donald Trump, knowing his proclivity for praise (and money). His near-anointment as a sort of guardian of Islam (to the cheers of General Al Sisi, Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka). Even the top Saudi clerics in Mecca praised Trump in their speeches during the summit (as they were allegedly ordered to do so).

Now comes the “mother of all praises”. The Imam of the Holy Shrine in Mecca, no less, has opined that the world depends on the Saudi king and Donald Trump for peace. Now, you can’t kiss it lower or better than this. It is very likely that Mr. Trump will believe all this. The Saudi king, like all Arab kings, knows better. They also know his weaknesses: they are buying Trump, and not only with money….


In 2011, a Saudi scholar/cleric wrote a study for the appointed Shura Council about women and driving. In it he warned that if Saudi women were allowed to drive, that would be the end of virginity in the magic kingdom. The men were given a choice: women drivers or virginity. Possibly something in the local water made a woman go wild as soon as she got hold of a car’s steering wheel (rather suggestive, don’t you think?).
Apparently all this has changed, now the Wahhabi clerics believe that Saudi women can drive and keep their virginity….


I suspect President Donald Trump can now publicly take credit for this new driving policy that also allows women to keep their virginity even as they drive cars.
Interesting times we live in, no?

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

Gulf Godfathers Competing for Israeli Love, but Real Target is U.S. Congress…..

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Tell Mike it was only business. I always liked him…” (Sal Tessio to Consigliere Tom Hagen: Godfather 1)

“Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made a discreet visit to Israel despite the fact that the Jewish state and Saudi Arabia do not have official diplomatic ties, Israeli and Arab media speculated earlier in the week. Rumors about the momentous visit, which was not confirmed by Israel, started swirling when Israel Radio’s diplomatic correspondent covering Arab affairs, Simon Aran, took to Twitter to announce the visit……. Israel Radio’s Arabic-language broadcast reported that the the senior figure was a “Saudi prince” who met with senior Israelis to discuss regional peace. According to the report, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry refused to comment………”

Qatar is trying to arrange meetings between its senior leadership and the heads of major Jewish American organizations during next week’s UN General Assembly. The natural gas-rich country has reached out to the heads of a number of prominent Jewish groups and asked if they would meet with the emir and crown prince while they visit New York City……….”

You’ve come a long way baby (addressing the Arab World).
Gone were the days when Palestine was the main, nay allegedly the only, Arab (and Muslim) cause. The excuse for all military coups and for absolute dynastic rule. Now it is on the verge of being a non-cause.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (non-elected Mayor of Ramallah) flies to Paris to join generously-paid American politicians (of both parties) in extolling the virtues of the Iranian terrorist cult Mujahideen Khalq (MEK). MEK/MKO was formerly an ally of Saddam Hussein and on the US terrorist list, but is now reportedly a joint project of the Mossad and Saudi royal princes.

Unofficial and semi-official “rumors” spread this week that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the country’s effective king, has “secretly” visited Israel, and neither side denies it. But much of official (and unofficial) Arab media ignored the alleged visit: apparently one doesn’t mention such visits in mixed or polite company. And if you do, there is a stiff price to pay, especially in other Gulf states and in Egypt. Apparently to the Arab princes Israel is like a proverbial mistress: the relationship is there but nobody talks about it in public. Even the secretly ISIS-loving Gulf Salafis, perennial Saudi fifth columnists, have completely ignored the visit (and other visits before it).

Not to be outdone, the rival Qatar‘s princes now scramble to send signals to pro-Israeli Jewish groups in New York that the Emir and his deputy would love to meet with them. The Qatari rulers have been facing repeated coup attempts from their big Gulf “sister” for twenty years, and now they have to put up with Donald Trump, a businessman whose instinct is to go with the highest bidder.

Now it is cool, it is hip, among certain Arab classes, especially in the Persian Gulf, to blow kisses and whisper sweet nothings to Israel. Especially to its current right-wing government. This seems to be especially true in the case of the two feuding Wahhabi dynasties of the Gulf GCC. Gone are the days when official Wahhabi clerics (and some diehard official Muslim Brothers) habitually called the Jewish people “descendants of monkeys and pigs” in their sermons.

Still, this is not true love. It is all about business. As Sal Tessio famously told Tom Hagen: “Tell Mike it was only business. I always liked him…” (Godfather 1)


But the true target of all this Arab royal serenading and wooing is not Israel, nor the Jewish people in general. The real target is the United States Congress (both houses and both parties). The current U.S Congress may be hopeless and useless in passing domestic policy, but it can do a lot of damage in the Middle East. As much as Donald Trump seems determined to cause. And the princes and potentates know it, hence the appearance of lust.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Muslims and the White House: on Sunnis, Shi’as, Diet Pepsi, Diet Coke, and Fascist Goulash…….

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A popular beloved Kuwaiti actor (comedian) died this week. He was popular across the region, especially in the Gulf states.
Many people of all faiths across the Arab world expressed condolences. But there was a snag: he also happened to be Shi’a, and his first name indicated that he could be nothing else. That is not a problem in his home country, sectarianism is a new phenomenon and limited to Islamist extremists. But it proved to be a bit of a problem in a couple of neighboring countries and on social media.
Some Arab Salafi and Wahhabi extremists on social media as well as some of their prominent clerics (sheikhs) expressed outrage that others (Sunnis) expressed sympathy for the death of a Shi’a whom they consider a heretic. Some basically issued their
own fatwas saying the act of condolence for someone of a different sect is sacrilegious.

Other prominent clerics took the hint from their bosses and took  new route: they actually opposed the messages of sectarian hate. Especially the Imam of the Holy Mosque in Mecca.
Odd: nobody, none of these dissenting clerics, had expressed outrage for condolences sent about the deaths of many others, mostly non-Muslim potentates. Including Cheeta the Chimp (my favorite childhood film star)…

Even an alleged heathen like Herr Professor Doctor Sebastian Gorka PhD knows that the differences between Sunni and Shi’a are minimal. Or so he claims. The Herr Doctor Gorka (PhD) has reportedly opined that Sunni or Shi’a Muslims are both evil: it is like Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi (See? Even in this present and least eloquent of White Houses). He probably even knows the differences between German Nazis, Austrian Nazis, and Hungarian Goulash Nazis of the good old days.

Yet many Muslims don’t know such distinctions but emphasize others, especially those of the Salafi (and some Muslim Brotherhood) sects.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Mystery of the Disappearing Arab Princes in Europe………

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“Saudi Arabia’s missing princes. In the last two years, three Saudi princes living in Europe have disappeared. All were critical of the Saudi government – and there is evidence that all were abducted and flown back to Saudi Arabia… where nothing further has been heard from them………. Sultan refuses, at which point Abdulaziz excuses himself to make a phone call. The other man in the room, the Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Sheikh Saleh al-Sheikh, leaves too and after a few moments masked men rush in. They beat Sultan and handcuff him, then a needle is plunged into his neck. Unconscious, Sultan is rushed to Geneva airport – and carried on to a Medevac plane that is conveniently waiting on the tarmac……….”
BBC News

The most famous case of a Saudi citizen disappearing abroad occurred in Beirut, many years ago. Nasser Al Saeed was a famous regime opponent and Pan-Arabist. But he was a commoner in exile, who was almost certainly kidnapped and murdered and buried in Lebanon.

Now, under the current father-son rule, even some princes are beginning to vanish across Europe. But then again, does anyone know what happened to the former Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef who was deposed last month, was reported to be under house arrest? He has vanished in the Gulag that has absorbed many ordinary citizens, although he lives under better conditions of house arrest.

Revolutions are known to end up devouring their sons and daughters, from France (Danton, Robespierre) to Russia (Trotsky, Zinoviev, Bukharin) to Iran (uncounted revolutionaries both communist, secular, and theocratic). Now the Saudi case is different: it is a throwback to a much earlier era of plotting kings and princes. An absolute monarchy eating its own sons (sorry, no daughters: verboten).

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Egypt and GCC Bubble Gum Policy: Al Sisi Ups His Price to Gulf Potentates…….

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Generalissimo Field Marshal Al Sisi of Egypt had  a bunch of top Persian Gulf potentates, money bags, in Cairo this past week. He was making a speech, during which he said

“You in tiny countries, Egypt is huge. In ne day, Egyptians eat worth as much as some of you eat in one year. If you can’t spend $100 billion a year on Egypt, if you can’t spend enough money on Egypt, then stay out. Then don’t interfere in Egypt if you can’t afford it …….”

This is the speech. The Gulf potentates who were present there in Cairo laughed. Especially the leader of the UAE.

Qatar was not there, which suggests the laughter was supposed to mean Sisi’s barb was aimed at Qatar, since those potentates present laughed. Yet Sisi could also be sending a message to the other (anti-Qatar) Gulf princes and potentates. The comment also applies to ALL GCC countries, and at least two of them interfere in Egypt, or try to. They financed street agitation in 2013, and the Al Sisi military coup against the elected president Morsi (Muslim Brotherhood), who was at the time receiving billions of aid from Qatar.

Of course one of those present, the tiny Empire of Bahrain, can’t even afford to supply Egypt with enough bubble gum for one day, but it has been interfering in Egypt since 2012, along with the rest of them….

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum