Category Archives: Arab Revolutions

The Logical Thinking of Kim Jong Un: Heeding the Lessons of Iraq, Libya, and Iran……..

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

In the beginning…..
Donald Trump ignored North Korea and its petulant young dictator. Mr. Trump has been focusing on his “other” foreign policy issues. In fact up to recently he has been taking a long victory lap celebrating his own alleged self-styled loot of billions of Saudi oil money during his coronation by desperate Arab and Muslim princes and potentates in Riyadh last May. All he had to do was tell them that he does not care about human rights and that Iran exports terrorism (but apparently not the nice Wahhabi type of terrorism of ISIS and Al Qaeda and AQAP and Nusra).

Trump has also been focusing on the Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA), since before the election. Trump of course does not know much about it, that it is a good deal for all sides according to international consensus (with the exception of the ruling princes of Saudi Arabia, the Empire of Bahrain, Israel, and the paid-for US Congress). Apparently the one draw-back of the Iran deal for Trump, the Republican Party, (and hawkish Democrats) is that it is a signature achievement of President Barack Obama. So Mr. Trump had promised to revisit the deal, perhaps to “withdraw” the USA from it. His first National Security Chief Mike Flynn, a Turkish agent and possibly a Russian agent as well, threatened more serious action against Iran. Before Trump was forced to fire him.

Among the Iranians themselves there are many who are also disappointed by how the nuclear deal has turned out. And by the ratcheted up threats from Washington and the nearly monthly new sanctions being voted by the US Knesset Congress and Senate. They also remember what happened in Iraq and Libya.

Back to Kim Jong Un: he could not be denied his share of American attention for long. He is that kind of dictator. Not long after Trump was inaugurated Kim started tossing around warhead-capable medium-range and long-range missiles. He or his henchmen also murdered a young American student-captive in Pyongyang.
And one more thing that can be unforgivable from my point of view: he gave Dennis Rodman another opportunity to be seen on network news.

Kim Jong Un also certainly well remembers what happened to Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi.  Apparently Saddam had given up his WMD, but Iraq was invaded and he was overthrown anyway.

Libyan dictator Gaddafi gave up his WMD and paid billions in “compensation” to Western citizens and corporations. He was attacked and overthrown by NATO. He and one of his sons were allowed to be tortured and killed by some rebels. Now Libya is a failed and divided state.

Kim must have started thinking:

  • Gaddafi (of Libya) gave up WMD. He also gave up billions of dollars to Western countries and to victims of the Pan Am airliner bombing over Lockerbie in 1988. But what did he get? His new friends in NATO overthrew him then got him killed as soon as they got a chance. He and one of his sons were tortured and murdered by possibly the same people who later murdered four American diplomats in Benghazi. His country is now a failed state beset by Islamic Fundamentalists of the Wahhabi sect and by tribal infighting.
  • Iran heeded world power demands and reduced its nuclear program- and according to IAEA and world intelligence services it is abiding by the JCPOA Nuclear Deal. And Iran now is being seriously threatened by Donald Trump who is also hopelessly trying to form a futile alliance of hapless Arab and Muslim despots and potentates against it. These are mostly the countries whose citizens have actually committed terrorism in the Middle East and in the West. And both houses of the US Congress keep piling up sanctions against Iran, Kim knows….

If I were Kim, I would possibly perhaps per chance think that it is not just the WMD and nuclear stuff that the West, and the US government, has a beef with. Maybe it goes beyond that. If Iraq and Libya were attacked after they gave up their WMD, and if Iran is being threatened after it reduced its nuclear capability……
You get the drift: Kim will think that as soon as he gives up his nuclear and missile program, he might as well give up the ghost….

And it is hard to blame him for thinking along these lines, if you think about it (or you can start reading this post from the beginning)……..

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Western Hubris and Regime Change Obsession: From Iran to Latin America and back to the Middle East…….

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking


Regime change has been an American obsession in the post-war era.

In 1953, the CIA (and British MI6) did not like the elected government of Mossadegh in Iran. There were issues of Iran taking their oil industry back, and worries about the strong Tudeh (communist) Party being legal. So they staged a play where the petulant young shah left for Europe, mobs of paid agents provocateurs were brought into the streets, and the generals staged a coup d’etat (to bring order). That was the beginning of the torturous love affair between the Iranian people and the United States government (as represented by the CIA). It set the stage for the Revolution of 1979, the US Embassy affair in Tehran, and the continued rancor. It could lead to another endless American war in yet another Muslim land, if the warmongers in the Republican Party (and some Democrats) have their way with Donald Trump.


Easy early success in Iran encouraged the CIA, which quickly shifted to another elected “leftist” regime, in Guatemala. President Árbenz was overthrown, and the rest of Latin America knew who was boss, until Fidel Castro and Che Guevara broke the mold.
But there were other “incidents” in Latin America: the Dominican election of 1965 was followed by the usual military coup and Lyndon Johnson’s invasion; the Brazilian military coup; the bloody overthrow of the elected Allende regime in Chile and the mass murders that followed (Nixon, Kissinger).
Those were all successful coups and invasions with the goal of regime change. The attempts in Cuba failed.


But the Western attempt at regime change with the bloodiest long-term consequences for the West was in a Muslim country: Afghanistan. The mistake of intervention in Afghanistan would come to haunt the West, especially the USA, for decades later. It started the ball rolling on Islamic Jihad and terrorism:

After the Communists took over in Kabul in 1978, through a counter military coup, the USA and its Saudi allies started encouraging a tribal insurrection. In 1979 Moscow did its own version of regime change in Kabul, but eventually ended up paying a heavy price. Afghanistan became a battlefield for competing regime changes: the Soviet Russians supporting the ruling secular Communists, and the West and Wahhabi Arabs supporting the reactionary tribal Afghan Mujahideen (Islamist Fundamentalist) rebels. We all know how that story evolved: the Wahhabi Taliban Jihadists eventually took over in Kabul, Al Qaeda found a safe haven, 9/11 happened, then ISIS, and all that. And the longest endless futile war in American history that nobody has the courage to end, apparently not yet.

In the Arab World, Saddam Hussein opened the door to direct American military intervention and regime change. His failed attempted invasion of Iran bankrupted Iraq and led him to the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, perhaps to recoup his losses. That set the stage for George W Bush and the neocons to invade Iraq in 2003, after the September 11 attacks.

Then there was the NATO operation that culminated in regime change in Libya. The dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown, tortured, and murdered along with one of his sons. Libya is now a divided failed state, exporting more terrorism than it did even before 2011.
The Syrian war is another example. One can just imagine what will happen when tens of thousands of Jihadis from Arab lands (mostly from Saudi Arabia and North Africa) and from European cities go back home to roost.

But wait, it is not over yet. Some old unrepentant Republican Necons and paid Democrats and lobbyists of generous despotic un-elected Arab princes are again taking up the old call of regime change in Tehran. Using a former terrorist group that acts as a Saudi surrogate.  Some of these folks actually believe they will be received with flowers and cheers in Tehran and other places. Will they ever learn? Apparently not. I think they should leave any regime change to the Iranian people.

Most people in the Middle East consider these continuous Western (mainly American) interventions as a return of Western colonialism, probably correctly so. The more Islamist fundamentalist peoples in the Middle East, some among the Arab Salafis, consider these interventions a new Crusade.

Right now some American politicians might want to focus on regime change closer to home, if you get my meaning….

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Who to Believe on Future Syrian WMD Allegations: the Trump White House or Bashar Al Assad?…….

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking


“Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may be preparing a chemical weapons attack that would result in the “mass murder” of civilians, the White House said Monday, warning the regime would pay a “heavy price” if it goes ahead…….. “The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children,” spokesman Sean Spicer said in a statement. “The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack.” Assad, backed by his ally Russia, has strongly denied the allegation that his forces used chemical weapons against the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun, describing it as a “100 percent fabrication”……..”


It is not a theory anymore: it is a fact. Whenever the Syrian Jihadist rebels are losing some serious ground someone, either the United States government (or occasionally British or French sources), come up with “evidence” that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons (WMD). All based on”reliable” sources on the ground in Syria: meaning Syrian Jihadi rebel sources. Possibly all of it corroborated by by reliable “allied” intelligence sources in some Persian Gulf kingdom, and maybe some Western reporter in Istanbul or Riyadh or even Beirut.

Could be true, the reports are accompanied with photos and video clips, which regime supporters claim are staged or doctored. But anything can happen in the bloody killing fields of Syria. Apparently somebody has been repeatedly playing with chemical weapons in (or over) some of the besieged Jihadi-held parts of Syria. This has been the pattern for several years, a pattern that started in recent years, as soon as the rebels began to lose ground to the Assad regime and its allies. Is the limited, alleged small-scale use of chemicals really helping the Assad regime that much? I doubt that it is worth the trouble nowadays, so I have doubts about it. It has now become like a matter of determining which came first: the chicken of the egg?

Usually the accusations (and retaliation) come after the alleged fact. This time the Trump White House claims that Assad is “thinking” or “planning” to use chemical weapons. Normally the losing side in a war is tempted to use chemical weapons, as Saddam Hussein’s Baathists used Western-supplied WMD against the Iranian forces and against Kurdish civilians during the 1980s. The winning side in a war rarely uses WMD, it has not happened since 1945.

Now Mr. Trump is getting involved deeper into a predictable Syrian quagmire, just as he is getting deeper into the certain Yemeni quagmire. Possibly both for a price to be paid by one or two oil potentates. And he is setting the stage to get the American media that he despises on his side.
His White House now claims they have foresight, that some bird must have told them Assad will use WMD soon. Perhaps along the eastern border with Iraq? Or maybe at one of the last strongholds of the Jihadis inside Syria. The New York Times reports that the new White House claim took US military leaders by surprise. National intelligence and even White House National Security officials refused to comment on the surprising and unprecedented statement by Sean Spicer. UN ambassador Nikki Haley was also reported yesterday to have threatened to hold Iran responsible if Assad uses chemical weapons, although it is not clear why she did not threaten Russia as well. (Hint: Russia, like North Korea, has nuclear weapons).

The question now is: how credible are any new allegations by the Trump White House these days? Especially about matters of war and peace, but not just those? A sign of the times, no? Sad….


Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Long Live! Arab Rules of Succession from Saddam in Iraq to Jordan, Syria, and now Saudi Arabia……

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“King Salman of Saudi Arabia promoted his 31-year-old King Salman of Saudi Arabia promoted his 31-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman, to be next in line to the throne on Wednesday……As defense minister, he also had primary responsibility for the kingdom’s military intervention in Yemen, where it is leading a coalition of Arab allies in a bombing campaign aimed at pushing Houthi rebels from the capital and at restoring the government. That campaign has made limited progress in more than two years, and human rights groups have accused the Saudis of bombing civilians, destroying the economy of what was already the Arab world’s poorest country, and exacerbating a humanitarian crisis by imposing air and sea blockades.Prince Mohammed has taken a hard line on Iran……….”  N Y Times

Arab kings, potentates, oligarchs, and assorted dictators have often preferred their sons (or other kin) to succeed them.

King Hussein of Jordan had his brother Prince Hassan as his crown prince for many decades. That was how the ruling Hashemite family had decided when young Hussein took the throne. But when Hussein felt his mortality approaching in the 1990s, he dumped his brother in favor of his eldest son Abdullah (from his British wife).
But there was a catch: King Hussein stipulated that his other son Hamza, from his American wife Lisa Halaby, become crown prince. This did not last long after Abdullah took the throne: he soon sidelined his half brother Hamza and appointed one of his sons as crown prince.

Hafez Al Assad (the not-king) of Syria had allegedly set his eldest flamboyant son Basil to succeed him. Basil died in a car accident, and Bashar, being trained as an eye doctor in London, was brought home to learn the ropes. The rest is history.

The most relevant to the events of today in Riyadh occurred in Baghdad in 1979. Perhaps a few years before. Vice President Saddam Hussein became the real power behind the Baath rule of his cousin Al Bakr from the early 1970s.. In 1979 he staged his own palace coup, forcing Al Bakr into retirement. Al Bakr and many of his close associates died soon after, in the usual Iraqi Baathist fashion.

Even more relevant to the recent Saudi events, Saddam was facing rebellion and discontent from minorities inside Iraq. Similarly, he was contemplating what to do about his revolutionary neighbors next door in Iran. Saddam also had the support of most Western powers and most Arab oligarchs (with the exception of Syria, some Palestinian factions, Libya, and Algeria).

About one year  after taking power, Saddam saw messy revolutionary factional Iran as an easy target to help him consolidate his power over the region. He invaded Iran without having first read the history of the German Operation Barbarossa that started in 1941. He got bogged down in Iran for eight years, lost some territory, was forced by a stalemate to sue for peace. His country ended the war bankrupt and deeply in debt to the tune of almost $200 billion (I had estimated in a paper that Iraq enjoyed tens of billions of foreign reserves before that war).

That was the beginning of the end for Saddam and the old order in Iraq. He invaded Kuwait to regain his financial losses, and thus eventually finished his bloody career hiding inside a hole near Baghdad. Before he was tried for three years and hanged.

Now we have a young man rise to power in Saudi Arabia. He has managed to push every rival aside, just like Saddam Hussein did in Iraq in the 1970s. He has also started a messy unending war in Yemen. Two and a half years of bombings by Saudi warplanes, with American and British help, have killed many thousands of civilians in Yemen and destroyed its infrastructure. Genocide with lipstick is still genocide.

With failures in Yemen and Syria under his belt, the new Saudi prince in power is looking across the Persian Gulf for a new adventure. Apparently being egged on by the greed and reckless rhetoric of Donald Trump and some paid American journalists and think tanks, he is talking of taking a war into Iran. Even as his own country, the most-expensively armed in the region, is bleeding in Yemen against lightly-armed Houthis and Saleh allies. He is also targeting his former ally Qatar with an economic blockade. He might even threaten other GCC members in due time.

Can this prince see the light and avoid another war he expects the Americans to help him wage?

Saddam Hussein is dead, but modern day Arabs often tend to repeat the worst of past mistakes. Already some approved writers in Saudi media are shouting: Saddam is dead, long live Saddam.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Price of Protest: Donald Trump’s Terrific Arabian Sectarian Gauleiter of the Death Machine………

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking


“Saudi Arabia should immediately quash the death sentences of 14 members of the Shia community for protest-related crimes, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. The Court of Appeal of the notorious Specialized Criminal Court upheld the sentences in May 2017, after they were handed down a year ago on June 1, 2016, following a grossly unfair trial of 24 Saudi Shia citizens. The Specialized Criminal Court is Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism tribunal. “The rise in death sentences against Saudi Arabian Shia is alarming and suggests that the authorities are using the death penalty to settle scores and crush dissent under the guise of combating ‘terrorism’ and maintaining national security,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch……..”

So, Donald Trump’s Terrific (his word) Sectarian Arabian Death Machine grinds on. His doomed Persian Gulf royal Gauleiter of the chopping block….

As I tweeted last week: if this were some other country, one that would not spend hundreds of billions on weapons imports, the US Congress and the Senate will be passing resolutions. Fox, CNN, and the rest of the media would be headlining, beating the drums of more sanctions. Even David Ignatius would suspend his quarterly Washington Post article in praise of the absolute King and his princes Ayatollahs ….

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

A Tale of Two Miserable Arab Summers: June 1967, June 2017….

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

On June 4 1967, most Arab peoples were expecting a victory over Israel. Or so they were told by their regimes, all of their regimes. Given the size of Israel at the time, an Arab victory and an Israeli defeat would have meant a reversal of 1948, when Israel replaced Palestine. Not completely: Arabs still controlled Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, all of them parts of Mandate Palestine. But the Jordanians who held onto the West Bank and East Jerusalem were not eager to develop a Palestinian entity, and Gaza remained neglected under Egyptian control.
So, on the morning of June 5, 1967, the Israeli Air Force struck, and quickly destroyed Arab air forces. Arab regimes continued to claim their forces were on the outskirts of Tel Aviv even as Israelis were sweeping though Sinai. By afternoon the war was effectively over. Mop up operations secured the Sinai for the second time in eleven years. The Jordanians basically put up a half hearted fight for the West Bank and East Jerusalem (King Hussin must have thought the Egyptian army will hand him the rest of Jerusalem).
The biggest loss of Arab land in modern history took barely more than one day. So much for the vaunted Arab Army of Jordan.

But what is shocking now, looking back, is that even after that huge defeat the Arab world was better of than it is now, June 2017. Fifty years later.

Before June 1967 the Arabs had already lost one war, the war for Palestine. Now we know that the loss of Palestine was the beginning: the Arab states have continued to lose every single war against outsiders. With the exception of Lebanon in 2000 and 2006.
Before 1967 there was hope, pride, exuberance. The Arab world was young, most of it recently independent, some of it getting there. There was hope that it can progress, perhaps unite and improve its lot. Young people were sure, they were certain that they were facing a bright future. Most of the students who came to the West, especially to the United States, looked forward towards to returning home and helping build or rebuild. Most did not think of immigration.

After 1967, with pan-Arab secularism defeated, Wahhabism ran unchecked. Fueled with oil money, it busted out of its Saudi desert homeland and spread its poison through mosques and schools that spread in poorer Muslim lands. This was the ideological and financial basis of Al Qaeda and ISIS/DAESH. It still is.

Fast forward to June 2017. Half a century of defeats, dictatorship, absolute tribal rule, and internal Arab wars. Crowned with the tragedy that Westerners, and some Arabs, thought was an Arab Spring. It turned out to be anything but a spring. All rebellions against exiting order failed, from Bahrain to Yemen to Syria, to Egypt, and North Africa.Those states that succeeded in overthrowing their rulers ended with civil wars.

Now the fate of the Arabs is almost totally in foreign hands. The interactions among the West, Iran, Turkey, Israel, and Russia determine the future. A couple of absolute repressive tribal ruling families dominate domestic Arab politics. Not what the Arabs need just now. They have managed to buy many of the other Arab regimes, and they have possibly bought off the current President of the United States. Ignorant of history, Trump and his British counterpart have given the oligarchs a carte blanche to do what they want, what they can do, in the Gulf and in the rest of the region. They are also giving them all the weapons they need to start new wars and suffer more defeats.

So, here the region stands. Sophisticated expensive American and British weapons in the hands of repressive regimes will not create stability, not for long. Some foolish young prince is bound to start a fire that would engulf the region, just like Saddam Hussein brought on thirty years of warfare.

The hope has faded, and there is hardly any light at the end of the tunnel, regardless of what some well-meaning Western analysts and academics opine.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Breaking Fake: French Intel and Tillerson Assert Assad Regime Responsible for Mosul Massacre….

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“At least 105 civilians died in a US anti-IS strike in the Iraqi city of Mosul (Iraq) in March, Pentagon probe finds…..”

Breaking Fake News: French Intelligence and US Secretary of State Tillerson assert that they have reliable reports from credible sources that the Bashar Al Assad regime was responsible for the massacre of 105+ civilians in Mosul last month. They said they got reliable information from Syrian rebel activists on the ground in Syria, Riyadh, and Paris.

For their part, D Ignatius alleged said he was assured by a senior intelligence official from a Gulf GCC country, that this is true. He declined to name the Gulf country, but finally admitted that it was an island nation in the Persian Gulf.

They say Mr. Trump is weighing his options, looking for an abandoned Syrian airbase to bomb. The humorless Saudi foreign minister suggested that maybe he should cut the “head of the snake” by bombing Tehran or, better yet, Qom

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Trump as the Sixth Pillar of Wahhabi Islam? Sisters of the Faithful……..

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

At the Riyadh Wahhabi-American Summit, it looked like the princes and potentates were ready to change the basic tenets of Islam to appease the man who has made Islamophobia more acceptable in America. Their new American Idol, Donald J Trump.


Islam has five pillars that define a Muslim (all Muslims be they Sunni, Shi’a, or Wahhabi):

  • Shahada, Assertion, that Allah is the One God and that Mohammed is his Prophet.
  • Donating the Zakat (Alms) for the poor and needy. (I can almost hear American Republicans groaning).
  • Fasting the Holy Month of Ramadan (no food, drink, lies, and sex: from dawn to dusk).
  • Five daily prayers facing Mecca (originally Muslims prayed while facing Jerusalem, until they conquered the Prophet’s hometown and disposed of the idols).
  • Making the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca/Madinah. But this last one is not completely mandatory: it is only for “those who are able and can afford it”.

Now there may have been a subtle change, given the Wahhabi festival last week celebrating Donald Trump and his clan at the Summit in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

Trump was treated like more than a new Caliph, more like a combination Caliph and Angel. The Saudi princes’ generosity with their people’s money and their controlled media saw to that. Trump’s wife and daughter, the only women at the various meetings and parties, were almost elevated by the Wahhabis to the rank of “Sisters of the Faithful” (in Arabic: اخوات المؤمنين ).

Not necessarily bad in itself, if Donald himself wasn’t around to bask in the glory and to believe what they said about him. Melania and Ivanka: as Catholic and Jewish ‘Sisters of the Faithful’. It is not the first time in the history of Islam. But Donald Trump is the first of his kind in the history of the American Republic.

In Riyadh, his eyes were so focused on the money, hundreds of billions of petro-money, that he may have unwittingly handed America’s foreign policy, and her future wars in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf to a bunch of incompetent, corrupt, and greedy princes.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Old Slogan, New Slogan: Assad Hasn’t Gone Yet, but Erdogan Must Go…….

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

Remember when the common slogan in Turkey (and in Washington and among Wahhabi potentates) was: Assad must go?

It has been revived with a lot of Saudi money given to Donald Trump. A few weeks ago Trump discarded the old Assad slogan, but that was before he discovered the joys of Saudi money.


Maybe Assad will go, eventually. Everybody does, something which gives the American people some hope.

But there is a new maniac roaming the Middle East now, repressing his own people, stifling freedom in Turkey. A better slogan now would be: Erdogan Must Go.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Trump’s Seminal Nonsensical Riyadh Speech to Muslim Sunni Potentates and Despots to go K-12 ?……

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

There are unverified reports that President Donald Trump’s sectarian speech in the Saudi capital Riyadh last week will be edified and made into an integral part of modern Wahhabi history.

The unverified say Trump’s nonsensical but seminal speech to the Wahhabi and Muslim Sunni potentates and dictators on Islam (or was it on Iranian roots of Wahhabism? or maybe it was on money, as in $460 billion? or Alibi-for-Jihadi-terrorists speech?) will be taught at all schools in the kingdom, K-12.

It will be published, allegedly, in a booklet, with the following picture cover that was inspired by the witches scene in Macbeth—–>

It is just something to consider. Oh, and my reporting source is not necessarily credible. Not yet……

More on this later……

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum