Category Archives: Arab Revolutions

Riyadh Summit Mystery: Two Exotic American Women at Muslim Stag Party, but What Happened to All Saudi Women?……..

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Where are the Saudi women?

Here are First Lady Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump in the middle of hundreds, nay thousands, of Muslim Arab men, mostly Wahhabis. And not a single other Saudi woman. Not at the airport, not anywhere else within sight. You’d think it is a huge stag party and the two American women are the exotic performers.
One rare independent Arab media that is not Saudi-controlled headlined, no doubt jokingly from the safety of London: Ivanka praises Saudi progress in Women Rights. But nary a Saudi woman anywhere around.


Which reminds me of a shocking fact of the Riyadh Summit ignored by Western, especially American, media. Where are the Saudi women? There has been not a single Saudi woman during the whole process. None of the King’s or the princes’ wives showed up at the airport to greet Melania and Ivanka. None was present at the meetings, nor at the so-called Arab-Islamic-American summit.


What happened? Did the Saudis hide and lock up all their women in the cellars? Or did they have them all chained and handcuffed to their respective beds?

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

A Farce in Riyadh: Can Trump’s Greed Buy the Princes a Gulf Sectarian War that Bush and Obama Rejected?……

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There will be another farce going on in Riyadh this weekend…..

Saudi Arabia has mostly given up on the Arab World. They have tried over the past few years to form various military (and political) alliances with different Arab states, to no avail. They almost always fail, even with the billions of dollars offered to those willing to take the bait.

Even the murderous dictator of Sudan, the  criminal Omar Al Bashir (wanted by ICC), had reportedly pulled out of his participation in the Yemen war, although he is now sending mercenaries again to South Yemen, for a nominal fee. The Pakistanis have refused the invitation to send troops to fight Saudi wars, as have the Egyptians. The Turks of Caliph Erdogan are the least reliable ally for anyone: they play all sides against each other, be they Saudis, Iranians, Russians, Americans, Europeans, etc. Erdogan fancies himself the heir of the Ottoman Caliphis, therefore the true leader of the Arabs. The oligarchs of Malaysia pocket the Saudi money but no troops are forthcoming. Ditto for Indonesia. The humorless King of humorless Jordan pockets the sparse Saudi money but awaits the American initiative (he knows his fellow Arab potentates are unreliable at best).

The princes have tried various iterations of an Arab alliance, an Islamic alliance, a combination of both. To no avail. Nobody wants to send their soldiers to fight in the quagmires of Yemen or Syria. Only stupid Westerners might do it, an only in the name of terrorism (and maybe the Americans in the name of reining in the Iranians). Greed also helps a lot.


So the Saudis think they may have found a way now: get America to lead a sectarian Sunni coalition to do their bidding in the Middle East and specifically in the Persian Gulf region. They realize American leaders, even Trump, may have more credibility than their princes. Mainly it would be Saudi/UAE money backing one or two more wars fought by America’s boys and girls in foreign lands. That approach was tries before and rejected under George W Bush and Barack Obama (both were much smarter than Mr. Trump).

This time the princes think they have found the American weak point: greed is the word. They think the new man in the White House is an uber capitalist, and like them he is defined mainly by GREED.
So since most Muslim and Arab leaders reject direct Saudi leadership, they can now do it through American leadership. Get the man who made Islamophobia and Arabphobia mainstream in America to lead an Islamic and Arab alliance, a sectarian alliance that serves the goals of the absolute tribal kings and princes.

But he fact is this: all Saudi deals and alliances aimed at reshaping the Middle East have failed in the past. This one will also fail. The handful of princes and dictators who will kiss Mr. Trump’s ring in Riyadh this weekend do not represent most Arabs and Muslims. They do not represent many Arabs and Muslims. They represent a very small minority.

So, my Fatwa on this latest farce in Riyadh? It will fail as well….

More on this later, as the farce in Riyadh unfolds……

Some earlier recent postings on this topic:
The Obama Doctrine….

Persian Gulf Game Theory at Camp David: Obama and State-Sponsored Terrorism….

The Arab Islamic American Summit Comes Up With a Trump Motto: Holy Art of the Deal….

Trump Visits His Wahhabi Empire: Saudis Summon Sunni Arab and Muslim Satraps and Viceroys to Riyadh….

Ignorant Abroad: is Trump Encouraging a Foolish Prince to Start a Sectarian War in the Persian Gulf?….

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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

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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

Ignorant Abroad: is Trump Encouraging a Foolish Prince to Start a Sectarian War in the Persian Gulf?……..

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“Iran is Salman’s top issue. This month, Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave an interview condemning Iran in extremely harsh sectarian terms. The prince, the king’s favorite son, characterized the Iranian Islamic Republic as being driven by messianic prophecies and determined to dominate the entire Islamic community. He claimed that Iran sought to take control of Mecca from the kingdom. There was no room for dialogue with Tehran, according to his statement. Indeed, the prince promised that the kingdom will fight its war against Iran inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia. He was vague about what that means, but it suggests he supports regime change in Tehran. It was one of the most virulent public attacks on Iran ever by the House of Saud. The royal family is eager for American support against Iran in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. The Saudi leaders face a more skeptical domestic audience. The new Trump administration is widely seen by the public in the Arab world as an enemy of Islam. A poll of Saudis in November showed overwhelming support for Hillary Clinton and only 6% for Trump. There will be no demonstrations against the president in a police state……….” Al Monitor

This past week the Middle East, especially the Persian Gulf region, was pushed closer to a direct sectarian war by a spoiled young Saudi prince. He may have aroused and provoked religious passions that are hard to subdue.

He is the favorite son of Saudi Arabia’s king Salman, also his Defense Minister, Crown Prince to the Crown Prince, and Heir Apparent, among many other royal positions. Not exactly an Arab Kim Jong Un, but: he shocked the Middle East this past week by threatening to wage war on Iran. In effect the Wahhabi prince has threatened to attack Iran, start an unprovoked war. Mainly because the wily Iranians have outsmarted him in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. He is inviting them to outsmart him again, which they might do if history is any guide.

What is worse, the under-educated prince also threw in a scathing sectarian attack on the Shi’a faith itself, mocking it and its followers in general. That includes millions of Arabs and other Muslims. Something Iranian leaders never do to other Muslims or people of any other “major” faith, not even to Wahhabis, at least not in public. He is almost setting the stage for a region-wide sectarian war that he seems to believe Donald Trump will support. A foolish notion: the United States should stay out of it.

This happened soon after his visit with Donald Trump at the White House, which smells fishy to many people in the region. Some independent Arab media claim it is part of a plan hatched in Washington. Iran has only threatened to wage war if attacked or threatened first. Which makes the prince’s threats odd, given that Saudi Arabia can’t even defeat poor under-armed Yemen, even with heavy American and British logistical and intelligence support.

The Iranian strategy has been defensive for almost two centuries. They don’t have access to the sophisticated Western warplanes and the Western support personnel that the Saudis have. But then they did not have access to the fancy weapons Saddam Hussein had when he attacked them in 1980 (with Saudi help), and they won that war. They have been under an American siege of several decades; they still are, regardless of the Nuclear Deal. Their deterrence depends heavily on air defense systems and, very important, on a huge arsenal of home-made advanced missiles that can retaliate by taking the war to the enemy.
That explains their attachment to missiles, not the desire to attack Europe or North America as Netanyahu and some of the Arab potentates and their lobbyists claim to the West.


The Iranian foreign minister (Zarif) answered the Saudi prince’s threat of an aggressive war by talking calmly of a peaceful resolution. But the Iranian defense minister answered with a strong warning that no Saudi city will be safe if they attack Iran. He excluded the holy cities of Mecca and Medinah.

So if the Saudis start an air attack with their expensive American toys, expect all their royal princes and princesses to be huddled in the only safe places in the kingdom: Mecca and Medinah. An enforced terrifying version of the Umrah pilgrimage.


Question is: does anyone around Donald Trump know the kind of sectarian passions this prince has stirred? Does Trump really want to get involved in this new Wahhabi religious war? Does he know what it is all about? Are those around him foolish enough?

Ich weiss nicht…..

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Imagine If You Can: a Bloody Middle East Science Day…….

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Today is Science March Day. All over the world people are meeting in solidarity with science. You’d think there is no need for a “day of solidarity” with science now. But we’ve come a long way backward, back to Ante Ante-Bellum, Ante-Galileo, Ante-Newton’s Laws, Ante Kennedy’s pledge to go to the Moon.

Science is being celebrated everywhere in the world, almost. Except for the Middle East. In some Arab capitals, and possibly in Turkey, imagine if you can that a bunch of enthusiastic young men and women gathered in city squares. They gathered for Science Day, not to push for the Sharia implementation, and not to denounce Wahhabism, and not to call for elections and free speech and an end to corruption. That would have been too much. They gathered just to celebrate Science Day, just imagine that if you can.

That is what could have happened from Riyadh to Cairo to Istanbul. That is what may have happened, had the young people decided to follow the example of their colleagues in Europe, Asia, and America. Imagine that if you can.

The dictators and the absolute tribal kings and the robber princes did not understand. To them a crowd is a crowd: a threat to their golden goose. The soldiers and the security goons and the foreign mercenaries, the men who usually crash down doors at dawn, acted on orders. In broad daylight. On this Science Day, Science watered the city squares with blood. Imagine that if you can, because you should.

Why is it that only Arabs, and some Muslims, risk shedding their blood if they publicly gather to celebrate Science?

Allies, indeed……

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Exchange of Qatari Royals in Iraq for Syrian Captives of Jihadis Ends in Bloody Massacre…….

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“The fates of 26 members of a Qatari royal hunting party held hostage for more than a year in Iraq were used to help negotiate a population swap in Syria, where residents on Friday started leaving two Shia villages and two Sunni towns in a synchronised easing of a four-year siege brokered by regional powers. Residents of the Shia areas of Fua and Kefraya, in northern Syria, were transported to nearby east Aleppo as the first buses began leaving Zabadani and Madaya, Sunni strongholds between Damascus and the Lebanese border, for a final destination somewhere in the rebel-held areas of Idlib province. The deal was finalised in recent days after nearly two years of negotiations between one of Syria’s main opposition groups, Ahrar al-Sham, and Iran. The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Qatar have also been central ……..”

Reports from all sides in the Middle East indicate that there may be several thousand Saudis held captive in Iraq. Most of them apparently went north to join the Jihadi campaign of terrorism against Iraqi civilians, a sectarian campaign mainly targeting Shi’as. Many joined Al Qaeda in Iraq in the days of Jordanian terrorist Al Zarqawi, and later joined ISIS (DAESH). They represent a huge headache for the Saudi government, and it probably has influenced the recent Saudi warming up to the new political order in Iraq. Families and especially tribes as well as clerics form an important lobby in Saudi Arabia, as the authorities try to get these prisoners released. Some have reportedly been sentenced to death for terrorist acts and some already executed.

An unfortunate development. Today, Saturday, reports came that Jihadi rebels bombed some of the same Syrian refugee buses, killing at least twenty, wounding many others. Not clear yet how this will affect the release of Qatari potentates held in Iraq.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Pax Americana and Endless Conflict: War as Hell, War as Salvation…..

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“War is Hell” : Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman (& possibly others)

 

I saw this on a British website. I think it was a BBC interview:
“Would Labour support military intervention against Assad?

Emily Thornberry (MP) says “Have we learned nothing from Iraq?, Have we learned nothing from Libya?” We need a plan……..”

No, you have learned nothing from Iraq or Libya. It is a good thing the Russians are in Syria to limit your folly. They will keep any Western invasion limited, and save the West from another long Muslim war, another folly which the Jihadis can point to as proof that the West is bent on a “new Crusade”. More Muslim wars waged by the West lead to more terrorist recruitment by the Jihadis.

Two extended new wars are looming over Washington now: one in Yemen to save Saudi nuts from the fire of their own miscalculation, the other in Syria.There may be one or two more beside those, if the mad Neocons have their way. The post-war Pax Americana is now a tragedy of senseless endless war extending from Pakistan to the African Sahel.

Amazing how any president with questionable legitimacy and scandals hanging over him quickly thinks of a foreign war. An easy way to divert attention. The American mainstream media is always willing to accommodate. Who said war is hell? War is often a salvation of a faltering leader.

Once I advised about the next time Western powers feel the need for bombing someone. Please pick some other region of the world to bomb and invade. Leave Muslims and Arabs to their/our own devices, to sort out their own mess. Just bomb someone else, bomb Burma or anyone else. Just leave our region alone. You have done enough to screw it up in the past 100 years…

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

 

Will America Join the Jihad in Syria? How Do They Line Up in Eastern Mediterranean……..

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson demands that Russia drop its support of Assad in Syria. Sure: Putin, current heir to the rough and tough Soviet and Romanov empires, is almost certain to listen to the Texas oilman and his TV celebrity boss.

Nikki Haley seconds the Tillerson motion and threatens to take the names of anyone opposing it and add it to her famous list of names. And to cut their weekly allowances.

China‘s Xi, a guest of Trump at Mar-A-Lago, grins and remains “inscrutable”, as he is supposed to remain as leader of PRC (Chi-Com to the American Right). But he knows the futile game Trump is playing with him. Too transparent. No doubt, Trump was trying to unnerve Xi by attacking Syria during his visit. The problem with that is that Chi-Com leaders don’t get unnerved easily by television or real estate celebrities. Haven’t done it since the days of Chairman Mao and his Little Red Book. They can smell the bull from far away, they have done their fair share of spreading it.

Russia‘s Lavrov will ask that Trump drop his unwitting (or is that witless) support of Al Qaeda and other Jihadi cutthroats in Syria, including those in Idlib. The latter probably owned the same cache of chemical weapons that were bombed by the Syrian regime last week.

American mainstream media, often copying the media of Arab royal regimes that are as repressive as Assad, are gung-ho on avenging the Alamo, or the Maine. They have been since 2011.

Turkey wants Trump to help install a nice clean-cut Muslim Brotherhood regime in Damascus like the one in Turkey, and as humorless. It would be more repressive, given that it will include former Baathist renegades as well as current fundamentalists with Wahhabi ties.
Saudis want Trump to install a Wahhabi-esque regime in Damascus. Or, barring that, any regime that is hostile to the Iranians and Iraqis and not secular like the Baathists. They promise to shower the “right” regime in Damascus with many billions that they will not have.
UAE rulers don’t seem to care that much, as long as they get to have a naval base somewhere in Syria to protect their “national interests”, whatever the hell that be. In the Mediterranean of course.

The Bahrainis have no money to give to anyone outside the ruling family and their minions. So they will offer to receive the new Trump-anointed Caliph of Syria in their well-policed capital. On the assumption that this would legitimize both their regimes. Yes, they are clueless.
Iranians and Lebanese make the “right” noises, essentially they make the same noises in unison. But they keep on doing the voodoo that they do in Syria. So far.

Bashar Al Assad (America’s bête noire de la semaine) is a man who has had a target on his back for six years. He has been pronounced a dead-man-walking many times, mostly by Arab despots and Jihadis inside Syria and gullible believing Westerners. Yet he doesn’t seem worried about it. In fact I haven’t seen him worried since before the brief 2011 uprising that became a Jihadi insurrection that became a combination civil war and proxy war. Does he know something we don’t? Is he taking something we don’t? 

More on this later….

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum.
Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

American Illusions: From ‘No More War’ to ‘One More Muslim War’…….

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“One Two Three Four
We Don’t Want Your F–king War…”

I remember this old refrain fondly now. I used to hear it almost on a daily basis during my undergraduate university days. It is about time to dust it up and hear it again.

That replaced what it should have been:
“One, two, three, four
Tell me that you love me more”

This time it is not just the political classes, not just Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex that own the politicians, it is also the corporate media that is daily pushing one Muslim war or another. Much of it is also funded by foreign lobbyists, their loyal think-tanks, and other interests.

The old mantra “No More War” has been co-opted. During the George Bush (fils) and Obama eras, the United States gradually got engaged in several Middle East civil and uncivil wars. September 11, which had its genesis in the old Afghan War against the Soviets: American weapons and Saudi money and Wahhabi ideology created Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Opened the door to the second (or third) Afghanistan War that is still going on, sixteen years later. Then the Iraq war came with much fanfare (and eventually much embarrassment).

Soon other wars snuck in by stealth: Islamic State, Somalia, Libya, African Sahel countries, Pakistan, Yemen, etc. The United States is now involved in wars in some 10 Muslim or Muslim-majority countries. And the American political classes and the hungry media seem eager for more war. They castigated Obama for not getting into just one more war in Syria, and now they are glorifying Trump for putting one foot into a potentially disastrous Syrian war.
The sights were set on Syria early on, not for the benefit of the Syrian people, but for strategic regional reasons. Before the Arab Uprisings of 2011. For a while the sights were set on Iran, a truly foolish idea. Lebanon is not far from their thoughts, not with Netanyahu, the Guru of the American right and assorted chickenhawks, egging them on. On the other hand, the Jihadis get some mileage by talking about the “new crusades”.

Nowadays, it is always “One More Muslim War”: one more Muslim war to end all Muslim wars. That old illusion of the 20th century. Except that it doesn’t end all Muslim wars, just sets the stage for the next one…….

I really long for “No More War“. I find myself longingly humming the old refrain: One Two Three Four…. and I wish I could end it differently, with the clean version, with no four-letter word. Fat chance……

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Donald Trump’s Brief Airborne Syrian Fling: My Fatwa for Next Year………

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President Trump has managed to gather some sort of consensus, at least within the media and among politicians, around his brief air-war fling with Syria. As usual in the initial phase of a military action, both parties and the media have managed to praise his action, in some cases for fear of looking unpatriotic or “too outlier” (fear of bullying is not confined to school children).

Soon they will be asking: what next? What? No more? Especially cable media will go through severe withdrawal symptoms, being used to some thirty years of covering (ad nauseam) non-stop foreign wars. Some are already beginning to ask the question. Then the absolute rulers of the allied Muslim countries will push him to support a “democratic” Syria (where power can be shared between the Wahhabi Salafists attached to Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood attached to Turkey’s strongman Erdogan). A claustrophobic democratic experience they would never allow their own peoples to enjoy. Apparently Trump has been listening to the potentates lately, and he seems to be impressed.

My guess? My Fatwa: sometime well before the summer of 2018, Democrats will look back and say that Trump did his Syrian fling in order to divert attention from “other” more pressing “America First” issues he could not handle. The quick disenchantment happened with LBJ, Bush (pere et fils), and perhaps others.

A one-week apparent success (meaning no American casualties) while his foes’ knives are being temporarily hidden. Foreign action trumps domestic failure, but only for a while (just ask George H W Bush who presided over the end of the Soviet Union and a swift American victory in the Persian Gulf War).
The infrastructure will still need to be dealt with, and Trump may soon have some Obama-style stonewalling by the Republican Congress on the required spending. Then there is Healthcare, then a mechanism to keep and create jobs inside the USA, then a mechanism to encourage young people to enroll in STEM education (preferably within the excellent traditional mode of a broad American undergraduate college education that we all enjoyed).

The risk is that America First may become America Later. Looks like George Dubya Bush was right: being US president is a hard job……

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum