Category Archives: Arab Politics

Middle East Peace Index, War Index……………

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      BFF
Peace indicators:
Level of organized conflict -Armed services personnel -Weapons imports -Military expenditure -Number of conflicts fought -Jailed population -Deaths from conflict (internal) -Potential for terriorist acts -Level of violent crime -Political instability -Military capability/sophistication -Disrespect for human rights -Number of homicides -UN Peacekeeping funding -Number of heavy weapons -Number of displaced people -Neighbouring country relations -Weapons exports -Deaths from conflict (external) -Violent demonstrations -Access to weapons -Perceived criminality in society -Security officers & police.

Middle East compared to others:

Iceland 1
Qatar 12 –  Kuwait 29 –   UAE 33 –   Oman 41 –   Morocco 58 –   Jordan 64-  Egypt 73 –   China 80 –    USA 82 –     Bangladesh 83 –    Congo 98   
Saudi Arabia 101-    Syria 116 –    Iran 119 –    Bahrain 123 –    Turkey 127 –   Algeria 129-  Mauritania 130 – 
Myanmar 133 –     India 135 –  
Lebanon 137 –      Yemen 138 –    Libya 143-     Israel 145 –
Pakistan 146 –    Afghanistan 150 –  
Sudan 151 –     Iraq 152 –      Somalia 153

Cheers
mhg


m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Is the Saudi Women Drive-in Protest DOA?……….

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On Facebook and Twitter, activists had launched a campaign calling on women in Saudi Arabia who hold international drivers’ licenses to get behind the wheel on Friday, June 17, and drive their cars to protest the country’s ban on women driving. Their call is a daring initiative. Women who have defied the ban in the past have lost their jobs, been banned from travel and denounced by members of the country’s powerful extremist religious establishment. The women say their planned move is not a protest nor an attempt to break the law, but rather a bid to claim basic rights as human beings……….

That is where these women are wrong, when they say they are not trying to protest (or even break an arbitrary rule). Protest is a God-given right. Every one of us, man or woman, was born protesting, along with the proverbial slap on the behind. They are protesting, they are asserting their right to protest, as they should. Rather than pull back and try to water down their demands, they should expand them. Arab despots, like all despots, only understand the language of firmness. They can smell fear and hesitation. Think of Egypt, think of Tunisia.
(Nevertheless, I now suspect that this Saudi drive-in may fizzle, as much as the men’s protest in Riyadh last March did. Opponents are gaining voices on twitter. That expected drive-in may be DOA: dead on arrival).
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Arabs Doubling Down after the Obama Speech………….

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“Bahrain has allegedly arrested and abused local journalists working for foreign news agencies in an escalation of the crackdown just days after Barack Obama, US president, called for dialogue. Local journalists have been arrested and beaten since the authorities violently cleared pro-democracy protests in mid-March, but this is the first time that journalists working for overseas outlets have been targeted in a broadening assault on the media. Mazen Mahdi, a photojournalist with the German press agency and Defense News, and Nazeeha Saeed, a reporter for France24 and Radio Monte Carlo, were detained for hours and questioned about their reporting. Both said they were abused during their detention and released late Sunday and early Monday.……… Reeling from negative media coverage, the authorities have been targeting local and foreign media amid the broader crackdown of arrests, torture, sackings and destruction of religious sites…….. Local journalists at Al-Wasat, the country’s only independent voice before changes made under government pressure last month, have also been arrested. A founder of the newspaper, businessman Kareem Fakhrawi, is one of four people who have died in detention since the clampdown began. Mansoor Aljamri, a former exile who edited the paper, is on trial for publishing false news.………”

This is one example of the reaction of Arab despots to the Obama speech last week. From Libya to Yemen to Syria to Saudi Arabia, even in Morocco, they have tightened the screws on the people.
Bahrain is only the most flagrant case, which also reflects the wish, nay the orders, of the al-Saud. Just after the Obama Middle East speech the al-Khalifa ruling clan has doubled down on their oppression of the people of Bahrain. Mr. Obama mentioned the repression, but unfortunately he also noted that the Bahrain regime “needs” to maintain order. They are betting that their al-Saud masters will take care of the West. They are betting that petroleum and weapons contracts and money are more important to Western governments than human rights, and they are most likely right about that. They have been right so far: Obama basically equated the two sides in Bahrain, Britain’s Cameron received the crown prince and the foreign minister last week (both are al-Khalifa, as are most of the cabinet), and Sarkozy would likely send forces to help put down the uprising if asked. So the Obama speech somehow emboldened the Bahraini regime: somehow they have interpreted it as a tacit green light.
Maybe Mr. Jeffrey Feltman and Mr. James Steinberg, who were in Bahrain just before the Obama speech, had reassured them that it was just a speech for media consumption.
(BHCR, Bahrain’s Human Right group reports that Mr. Fakhrawi was tortured and electrocuted to get him to ‘confess’ to ties with Hezbollah ad Iran. He died under torture.)

Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Sir Thomas More Al Shaikh, Saint Thomas Becket of Al-Azhar………..

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Thomas Becket was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by his close friend King Henry II. Becket took his job in the church seriously and would not side with the king on many issues, when he thought the king was wrong. He was murdered in 1170, possibly with the encouragement of the king.
Sir Thomas More was appointed Lord Chancellor by King Henry VIII with the apparent assumption that he would do the king’s bidding against the Catholic Church. More took his job seriously: he could not in good conscious side with the king who had raised him so high and appointed him chancellor. Sir Thomas was tried for treason and beheaded in 1535, as he no doubt expected.

Shaikh A Al Al Shaikh, Mufti of Saudi Arabia, head of its Commission of High Religious Ulema (clergy). He would never disagree with the king or any of the princes. He would, and has, issued fatwas banning any criticism and opposition to the king, any king. His most famous fatwa was issued last March, banning any protests against the government, calling them ‘acts against Islam’. The excited Saudi government published two million copies of his fatwa and distributed them across the country. It never made the list of N Y Time or Amazon bestsellers. Perhaps if Shaikh Al Al Shaikh could start traveling around the world, signing copies of his fatwa at Border’s and Barnes & Noble.
Shaikh Ahmed al-Tayeb. Appointed two years ago by Hosni Mubarak as head of al-Azhar and its chief Mufti. He was a member of Mubarak’s ruling party at the time. On his first few months as Mufti he legalized Saudi-style temporary part-time marriages in Egypt (the mesyar or mesayar), allowing funny summer vacation marriages between elderly Saudis and poor Egyptian girls. Immediately after that he announced to Saudi media that he will be watching carefully for Shi’a expansion in al-Azhar and work to stop it, wtf that means. He opined against the Egyptian Revolution that started on January 25, 2011, but after Mubarak fell he changed him mind.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

From Tehran to Doha to Riyadh to Abu Dhabi: Watching the World Go By, a Talent for Boring………….

     

     Summer

 

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How the Arab and Middle East uprisings have caught regional leaders off guard:


  • Iranian mullahs go bi-polar and worry about the British. They did not say why the British, they never say, but I suspect it is because it is easier to sell “hate the British” than “hate America” to their people. Many Iranians have American relatives now. Maybe some mullahs don’t realize that Churchill is not only out of power, but has been quite dead for almost half a century. 

  • The ruler of Qatar continues to play his cards close to his chest (no problem there, a lot of space), realizing after watching hours of Qaddafi tapes that silence is more than golden. The Emir does get a petition for ‘reform’: I hope he didn’t write it himself, just to make things interesting for his surely bored people (they must feel that the world is passing them by).

  • Saudi princes had thought they owned the status quo: they had thought their people were winners of the Gold Medal for Conformity. Mufti Shaikh Al Al-Shaikh is so upset he may decide to take another wife (as will his cousin and head of the appointed Shura Council, one of the other Shaikhs Al Al-Shaikh). Friday’s Day of Rage may have fizzled in Saudi, only worked in the Eastern Province (al-A’hsaa, al-‘Hasa: you name it). The sectarian angle plus the loyalist Salafi shaikhs on the payroll plus flooding the streets with security men, carried the day again for the regime. For now.

  • I am beginning to suspect something about the Saudi people: the princes may be right, and many of them may prefer to see the world pass them by. That is a boring thing these days. I am not sure if it is the case for most of them, yet. Which means that perhaps the Saudi princes deliberately keep their people bored either by doing nothing or by making periodic public statements or by just doing things, anything. Some people are like that: they have a talent for boring their people no matter what they do or don’t do (Iran’s Ahmadinejad has that same talent for boring, but he is not quite as good at it as the Saudi princes, nobody is except for the Abu Dhabi and Bahrain potentates). I recall once watching a news tape of Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, and I had a hard time staying awake, and afterwards I did not remember any important points that he had made, if any. This talent for boring has so far served the al-Saud well, and it may safely get them through this year of revolutions, that and their guns.

  • The ruling family of Abu Dhabi decide to upgrade: from the world’s second biggest importer of weapons to the world’s first biggest importer of weapons in the world (as their foreign minister Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Bin Sultan al-Nehyan may have said, or maybe not). They may also decide to import a couple of million more Asians, just in case. They are still up there on the boring scale, at least the top few of them.

  • The King of Morocco, and whoever/whatever of Mauretania, figure that the wind is blowing to the east and they have ample time to get ready. These last two have forgotten about the ripe rotten Algerian fruit that could fall at any time and sweep away Bou-whatishisface and screw up their plans big time.

Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com