Category Archives: Arabian Peninsula

British Logic on Participating in the Yemen Genocide…..

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CNN quotes British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt that: “we cannot stop the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia for use in destroying Yemen and killing Yemenis. If we did, we will lose any influence we have to stop the war in Yemen….” Or some nonsense to that effect..

Imagine the police supplying a murderer and hostage-taker with bullets, while he is holding the hostages. Imagine yourself protesting to the police that they should cease supplying the criminal. Imagine the police telling you that if we stop supplying the killer with bullets (and teaching him how to use them), we will lose any leverage we have over him“. Meanwhile, he keeps holding hostages and killing them….

Too polite to admit that if they stop selling the killing machine, Mr. Trump will be too happy to replace them, and get the money….

Trump, on the other hand, was raised differently, in a different jungle. He is too primitive, he doesn’t have the British finesse at bullshitting in Downton Abbey dialect/class accent: his BS is direct and unfiltered, you can smell it before it comes ….. 

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Princely Celebration! Donald Trump’s Endorsement of the Luring, Torture, Murder, and Dismembering of Jamal Khashoggi

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Arab absolute kings/princes/potentates in the Persian Gulf region (some of them) and their controlled media and a few controlled academic type are celebrating Donald Trump’s endorsement of the: luring, arrest, torture, murder, chopping up, and dissolving in acid of Jamal Khashoggi.. and mainly they are celebrating Donald Trump’s support, after the fact, of what they did.

Literally playing Kool & The Gang’s Celebration loud……  in the palaces of Riyadh, Manama, Abu Dhabi, and as few other cities….

Flash back to a few weeks ago: “An official Saudi mouthpiece threatening the United States of America. A first, only under Donald Trump, whose focus is the money only.  The absolute princes and potentates have read him, and Jared Kushner, correctly: dangle the money in his face, and you have the upper hand

Or a few weeks before that: “Donald Trump screamed during the 2016 presidential campaign that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it……. Enter the current Saudi strongman Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the failed conqueror of Yemen. A new chapter of the history of the Middle East, Arabian Peninsula, and Persian Gulf is being written now. The Khashoggi Mystery, L’Affaire Khashoggi….”

The princes first threatened America, then bribed Donald Trump with promises of money. Simply put, but the truth…

As one member of the US Congress tweeted earlier today: 
  “Hey : being Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not “America First.”……
She was right, of course. First threats, then bribery worked with this president….

Now, with the help of Trump, the door is open for other dissidents and exiles to be lured into foreign embassies, onto airplanes, in neutral airport transit lounges. For them to disappear…

Thanks to Trump’s (and Pompeo’s) craven behavior, many more people are not safe now, even in foreign exile….

Cheers

Mohammed haider Ghuloum

With Friends Like These: America Loses Respect as the Princes Threaten Trump, New Khashoggi Spin……..

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“They present catastrophic scenarios that would hit the US economy much harder than Saudi Arabia’s economic climate…… It would lead to Saudi Arabia’s failure to commit to producing 7.5 million barrels. If the price of oil reaching $80 angered President Trump, no one should rule out the price jumping to $100, or $200, or even double that figure. An oil barrel may be priced in a different currency, Chinese yuan…….. And perhaps trusted exchange of information between Riyadh and America and Western countries will be a thing of the past after it had contributed to the protection of millions of Westerners, as testified by senior Western officials themselves. Imposing any type of sanctions on Saudi Arabia by the West will cause the kingdom to resort to other options, US President Donald Trump had said a few days ago, and that Russia and China are ready to fulfill Riyadh’s military needs among others. No one can deny that repercussions of these sanctions will include a Russian military base in Tabuk, northwest of Saudi Arabia………”

An official Saudi mouthpiece threatening the United States of America. A first, only under Donald Trump, whose focus is the money only.  The absolute princes and potentates have read him, and Jared Kushner, correctly: dangle the money in his face, and you have the upper hand.

Selective rumors and facts about Khashoggi, post-Afghanistan:
During the 1980s, Khashoggi was on Ronald Reagan’s side, and both were allied to Bin Laden and the Islamist Mujahideen (later Taliban) against the Soviets and the leftist secular Afghan government. This explains a lot of noise this week by right-wing American media about Khashoggi and his ties with Islamist Jihadis. Most of it distorted selective information, although he had at some point a soft spot for some Islamist political movements. Yet he remained a faithful follower of the aggressive Saudi royal policy until the past year. In the 1980s the whole Western world was allied to the Islamist Jihadis in Afghanistan.

Sunday Breaking:
Trump: I talked to King Salman, knows nothing about Khashoggi.
– could’ve been a rogue group, not Saudi gov’t.
– sending Pompeo to Saudi, he can always find an Iran connection.
– Bibi can help with his UN charts.
– I’m not a baby, I’m not a baby.

Monday Morning Khashoggi Spin:
Trump has sent Secretary Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia “to investigate” the Khashoggi murder. While Pompeo was in flight, Trump told the media that maybe a rogue group of killers did it. 

Top Saudi opposition exile @mujtahidd (whose reports are often reliable) writes what many already suspect including me: Trump sent Pompeo to Riyadh not to investigate. He sent him to finesse the new emerging story about a rogue group that led to the Khashoggi death. That new spin is very likely Fake News agreed by the Trump Administration (Pompeo & Bolton) and the Saudis. One downside of lying publicly too often is that it makes it almost impossible for others to believe you).

Under Trump & MAGA, America is now so respected that even the Saudi minions are threatening it publicly. They expect Trump to publicly support them on the Khashoggi affair: just like their bribed aid recipients in humorless Jordan, Bahrain, Egypt, the town of Ramallah, etc.
He is inclined to do it!

About America being respected: under Obama or Bush or any previous president, the princes would never dare publicly threaten the USA (directly or through their media). Now, thanks to the greed of Trump, they know they can get away with it…. and they will…
They are threatening Trump, assuming he will blink. And he will, given the money dangling in front of him…..

Did they tell me that Saddam Hussein was dead?

Did I tell you “long live the new Saddam”?

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghu
loum

Middle East Roundup: From China to Iran, Iraq, West Bank Exile, and Suggestive Saudi Potato Chips…….

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Round-up of recent Middle East news and some comments:

In Iraq, it looks like Muqtada Al Sadr has abandoned his near-alliance with caretaker PM Haidar Al Abadi. He has now called for Abadi to resign.
My comment? If it holds up, that will seal the fate of the incompetent PM. Alliance with Muqtada was Abadi’s only route to remaining in power, after he threw his Iranian and PMU allies under the bus to appease Donald Trump.

Israeli and other media report Israel has banned teenage Palestinian protester Ahed al-Tamimi of the Occupied West Bank from traveling abroad.
My comment? That’s freedom for you, in the “only democracy” in the Middle East. But it’s done all over the Middle East, banning travel of dissidents From Tehran to Riyadh to Cairo and Algeria and beyond. It is a form of internal exile, to be locked up within the borders. Probably better than a prison or a dungeon. Unless you can escape into external exile before it is too late.

Saw an article in Foreign Policy to the effect that: China’s Continent-Spanning Trains Are Running Half-Empty. Beijing’s funding dozens of new rail routes as part of its global ambitions — and losing money on every one. So what’s the long game?
My comment? That is China. Meanwhile, back in the USA, Mr. Trump’s Infrastructure non-plan is still just hot air, unexplained and likely misunderstood by Trump, opposed by a small-minded miserly short-sighted Congress.

Reports that the US administration has warned Syria not to attack the Jihadists holed up in Idlib. Some US sources even claimed the Syrian regime is preparing to use chemical weapons against the rebels in the region. Idlib is the last major outpost of the Al Qaeda-led Salafist terrorists in Syria.
My comment? Who would have thunk it! That a day would come when the USA (Trump Admin) is allied to an Al Qaeda Salafist branch in Syria.
September 11, 2001 forgotten, buried in Wahhabi oil money. And how do they know the Syrian regime will use WMD? Did the Jihadis tell them, directly or through Israeli or Arab sources?

A piece sponsored by the Atlantic Council suggested that “Iran and the US Should Use the UN to Reopen a Channel for Dialogue”.
My comment? To start with: Trump has just reneged on the UN-adopted JCPOA Nuclear Deal. As a rule, US Iran policy (and Middle East policy) should be formulated in the United States, in Washington DC, as it was in the past, not in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem (or Las Vegas or Evangelical-LalaLand). And it should not be based on the whims and purchasing power of a few Persian Gulf absolute princes and potentates with money to burn.

The Washington Post reports from the Democratic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that a man was detained in Saudi Arabia for eating potato chips with a woman — and then posting the video.
My comment? Sharing a bag of potato chips with a woman in Saudi Arabia can be very suggestive. Especially if her whole face is completely covered with a burqa/niqab, which makes it even more suggestive, even if nobody can tell who she/he/it is.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

On American Foreign Policy, Middle East Quagmires, and Prostitution to Despots………

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“In our 65-plus years of experience working on U.S. Middle East policy, we’ve never seen anything like the Trump administration’s willingness to prostitute American interests to Saudi Arabia……. But nothing in the 70 plus-year history of U.S.-Saudi ties comes close to the cosmic groveling that now defines President Donald Trump’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and his slavish obeisance to its dangerous and irresponsible policies. Since Trump became president, the U.S. has enabled and supported a disastrous Saudi war in Yemen; watched as Riyadh launched a political and economic war against Qatar that’s split the Gulf Cooperation Council and enhanced Iran’s influence; stood by as the Saudis virtually kidnapped the pro-American Lebanese Prime Minister in a bungled attempt to weaken Hezbollah; remained silent while the Saudis under the guise of reform cracked down on journalists, bloggers, businessmen and anyone else ………”

Not pulling any punches here, but how true…… 

But it is now universally known that nothing impresses Donald Trump more than money, a lot of money, especially if the money belongs to others (which makes it questionable as to how much money he has himself). On a very primitive level, that is how he sees and judges people and nations. Including the United States (he probably couldn’t care less about the Constitution and its Bills and Amendments).

This explains his often-reported admiration for the likes of Rupert Murdoch or Sheldon Adelson. That is how he sees the Middle East. He sees Saudi princes with access to billions of dollars, with nobody to deny them or question them (nobody who is not dead, in prison, or in exile anyway). To him that is what should be admired. When he says the word “patriotism”, he means fealty to money only. In a way, his form of capitalism is an extremely primitive version of capitalism, a form that history has shown can be self-defeating.

In that sense he is as much a Saudi “patriot” or an Emirati “patriot” (or some East European or Israeli patriot) as an American “patriot”. It is all in the money, stupid.
And yes, he is prostituting American national interests, strategic long-term interests, for the sake of Saudi and other money, plus a lot of the phony praising of him that they mouth. Praising that they know is undeserved, as much as I do.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

An Arabian Waldo Mystery in Ramadan: Where is Saudi Crown Prince Bin Salman?……

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Ramadan is a particular time when the Muslim, and Arab, worlds turn nocturnal and very sociable. Fasting from sunrise to sunset means reduced work hours and more sleep (siesta) hours during the daytime.
One important aspect of Ramadan is that people visit each other a lot at night, late into the night. Another aspect in the Persian Gulf area and in the Arabian Peninsula is that the rulers exchange visits with various groups of people, and the media tend to extensively cover these visits.

Ramadan this year has been strange in Saudi Arabia. The normally sycophantic and attentive Saudi media have been devoid of much news about the country’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), the son of King Salman. No news or photos or video clips of the ruling prince being out and about.
This has led to rumors in some Arab media and social media that the Crown Prince is either dead, or possibly wounded in last month’s alleged shooting down of a drone, or is being held by rivals. This has been encouraged by some Iranian propaganda. But all this is highly unlikely.

Some sources have even suggested that there may have been a counter-coup by more fundamentalist elements in the royal family or the religious establishment, and that may explain why several well-known women’s rights activists were arrested two week ago.

My own sources have not been able to locate the prince or to locate the real sources of any of these rumors swirling around him .
Still, it is an unusual situation for the most powerful strongman in Saudi Arabia of the past few decades to vanish, joining Waldo. He, a business and political partner of Donald Trump, Benyamin Netanyahu, and one of the Kushners, ….

Of course one likely explanation is that the prince is just sick and doesn’t want to publicize it and give his domestic rivals any ideas. Or maybe he fancies himself a new prophet and is meditating in a desert cave or more likely on his yacht, awaiting an angel to visit him. He may just pop out into a blast of media attention any day (or any night)……

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Eyes on Aden and Oman: How the Saudis Were Outsmarted by their UAE Allies…….

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The war in Yemen has been going on for over three years. The best armed military forces in the Middle East are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and they have been fighting and constantly bombing North Yemen and the capital Sanaa which is held by an alliance of Houthi tribal fighters and elements of the former Yemeni Army. The Arab neighbors even have had heavy involvement of American and British personnel. But the war has been a failure, so far.

Now reports indicate that the Americans are getting more directly involved against the Houthi alliance. Perhaps Mr. Trump thinks he can somehow change the course of the war. He has not learned the recent lessons of Afghanistan or the history of Yemen. But then they say he does not read (or write). A futile war so far, although the Saudi-UAE coalition have hopes that Trump will try to pull their royal nuts from that fire. Something their bought and well-paid foreign mercenaries from Africa, Australia, and Colombia have failed to do. But Donald Trump does not come cheap: it will be for a fee of many billions of dollars.

The Yemen case is complex: it involves multi-faceted wars involving various sides. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are fighting the ruling Houthi powers in the capital of Sanaa, claiming they are trying to eject Iranian influence from their border region. That would be a passable excuse, except that they have failed to show us one single Iranian or Lebanese captive from the battles in Yemen. Then there are Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and now the Saudi invasion has also expanded the domain of ISIS in Yemen.

Then there are the Southern secessionists (Hirak) who want to regain the independence of Aden and the Southern provinces.

But a major new headache for the Saudis are their current allies in the United Arab Emirates. The UAE has a citizen population just barely over one million, and it also has some 7-8 million foreign expatriate laborers and others who rotate every few years. The secret of why it is doing better than their Saudi allies is their foreign mercenaries plus better training for their own native forces. They have formed elite units of fighters from among experienced foreign mercenaries, and have outmaneuvered the Saudis out of contention for Southern Yemen. They effectively control the urban parts of Southern Yemen, and they have made hints at supporting the secession (or return to independence) of the South. Even the Saudis may have come to accept that.

So, the Saudis are stuck with facing the tough Houthis just to their south. They take their frustrations on Yemen by destroying the infrastructure with daily bombings, with reported targeting and mid-air refueling done by alleged American and British experts.

Enter the case of the GCC member country of Oman, actually a reluctant member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Oman is an interesting case, the only Gulf state that had built a small overseas empire up to the late 19th century. Now the UAE borders the neutral Gulf country of Oman from the north. Oman always keeps away from Gulf and Arab petty disputes, preferring to face towards the Indian Ocean and Iran. You never hear or read of Oman complaining about Iranian (or Lebanese) meddling, unlike the ruling family of the Saudi satrapy of Bahrain, for example.

If the UAE rulers can control South Yemen, they would be squeezing Oman from the Southwest as well. They will be able, along with their Saudi partners in war, to wreak havoc in Oman, possibly make her face some new problems, although like Qatar, Oman has better ties with Iran and other countries. The Marxists who ruled the independent South Yemen tried to encroach into Oman in the 1970s, but failed.

The Saudis and Emiratis have tried recently, through their media and proxies, to coerce and pressure Kuwait to the north. That attempt failed spectacularly, given the political history of Kuwait and that it is a special case and shares borders with Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. The Emiratis are also reportedly creating (actually renting) bases on the impoverished Horn of Africa, not bad for a tiny Gulf country. It is unlikely the Saudis will be comfortable with Emirati (actually Abu Dhabi) influence encircling them to the south either. There are already increasing signs of Saudi discomfort that the much smaller UAE is outsmarting them in Yemen (and in Libya). You can read it in some media and in the social media comments of some top officials. 

So, the Arab places to keep an eye on in the next few months and years are South Yemen and Oman.

More to come……

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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

 

War Planner Bolton Misses a Red Wedding, Bin Salman’s World Conquest, Khamenei the Conqueror…….

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This looks deceptively like a slow news weekend, outside of Germany and the Gaza killings. But this can be deceptive; there are other bits of news in the Middle East: 

Wars in Syria and Yemen grind on…..

Saudi Crown Prince MBS, officially called New Hunk in Town by female anchor women of his own media, is on the tail-end of his Tour of World Conquest. He wants to accomplish it before the old Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei takes over the world. The prince has been told by expensive lobbyists in Washington that the Hitler analogy is always popular, hence this silly breathless headline in the Atlantic. The Prince has already secured the allegiance of Britain and the USA (including media icons like Norah O’Donnell and the Empress Oprah). He also already owns much of the eastern half of the Arab world outside Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Qatar.

The eldest sons of Donald Trump (Eric and Donald Jr), attended the wedding of some Real Estate tycoon in the United Arab Emirates. The wedding of some son of a DAMAC Properties Dubai oligarch.

John Bolton (not related to the Red Wedding characters) declined the Dubai wedding because, they say, he’s busy planning a couple of new Muslim wars in the Middle East.
Young Barron declined that he had better things to do (he does)……
But the weekend is just starting….

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Trump’s Perpetual War: With Pompeo and Bolton, New Persian Gulf War Cabinet is in Place…..

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Perpetual American wars of choice around the world are apparently here to stay. To expand soon.

Donald Trump almost has his most intimidating Cabinet of War in place. Or so he thinks. Or maybe so he wants others, the North Koreans and the Iranians and the Arab absolute kings, princes, and klepotocratic potentates, to think.

Remember: his first National Security adviser Mike Flynn, whose first official statement was that he has “putting Iran on notice“. Mike Flynn himself was “put on notice” and fired within a month, replaced by H R McMaster, a more steady man. Now McMaster has been fired, replaced by a Fox News windbag. John Bolton is a dangerous windbag. So dangerous that a Republican Senate committee refused to vote him as ambassador to the UN under George W Bush. He was appointed during recess for one year.


Between the nomination of Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State and John Bolton, one Iranian pundit tweeted “WE Are All Going to Die!” Two partisan allies and son-in-law Kushner (a potential stooge of Persian Gulf repressive princes and potentates) steering a naive blustering president towards another American war of choice in the Middle East.

Perpetual war is here to stay. A new Muslim war of aggression against Iran: America breaking an international agreement and looking for an excuse to attack another Muslim country. A Saudi-American sectarian war in the Persian Gulf that America can’t win in the long term. America can’t afford it either, which might explain the visit of the Saudi Crown Prince and the welcome he got for spreading his oil money. Trump and son-in-law probably think this prince of darkness can make a new war affordable.

US Middle East policy to be determined by John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and New York slumlord arriviste Jared Kushner (rumors are strong that the Saudis and some Emiratis may have made financial promises to Kushner and family).

Imagine this: Bolton is also widely seen as an anti-Muslim bigot who reportedly allegedly cooperated with Quasi-Nazi Robert Spencer and a famous New York female anti-Muslim blogger (someone called her activities ‘the downside of a generous divorce settlement’). Now he will be in charge of US foreign policy. On the fringe no more.

Of course Donald Trump may think he is smarter than Pompeo and Bolton, smarter that all the naysaying pundits, even smarter than me! He may think he is now credibly blackmailing both Iran and North Korea. Maybe even China! That these two added warmongers, Pompeo and Bolton, will make those countries quake with fear, cry uncle.

There are others, top American generals who have actually fought wars and are truly patriotic, who are opposed. General Votel of the Central Command, and almost certainly Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and other leading generals. They want to keep the Iran Nuclear Deal, since the Iranians and the rest of the world are abiding by it. With the exception of the plotters: absolute Saudi princes and a couple of other kleptocratic oligarchies in the Persian Gulf region who are trying to buy themselves a new sectarian war to be waged by American boys and girls as mercenaries.

 Then there is the valid theory that a foreign adventure or war is often a useful refuge for scoundrel-leaders during periods of potential domestic political trouble. Human and other costs be damned……

Should be interesting weeks coming……

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum