Category Archives: Arabian Peninsula

Prince Bin Salman Coming to America: of Christian Evangelicals, Muslim Salafists, and the Anti-Christ…….

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I came across a tweet from a frustrated and befuddled man. I wish I could remember his name. He wrote that for years Christian Evangelicals had warned him that the Anti-Christ was coming, that he should be ready for that dark day. He then added that: now that (he thought) the Anti-Christ has arrived (at least in the USA), he is shocked that they have joined him, that they voted for the same Anti-Christ they had warned him about and they continue to strongly support him.
(I wondered what he was talking about, clearly a Democrat).

Which reminds me of the Salafists (or Wahhabis), our Muslim equivalents of these Christian Evangelicals he was talking about. They also face a dilemma now. The Sunni Salafist clerics, and others, in the Persian-American Gulf region are mostly educated in Saudi theological colleges, where they have absorbed the teachings of Shaikh Mohammed Bin Abdul-Wahhab, the founder of Sunni Wahhabism, the official faith of Saudi Arabia. He, of course, based his doctrine on earlier extreme fundamentalists.

Over the years those Gulf Salafists became strong advocates and supporters of the Saudi theological school as well as strong advocates for the policies of the Saudi government, good and bad. That was a natural result of the Saudi establishment being an alliance between the ruling Al Saud dynasty and the strict Wahhabi clerics led by the Al Shaikh family who descend from Bin Abdul-Wahhab. The higher echelons of the Saudi establishment are full of Al Al Shaikh men, the current top religious Mufti is among them. A few times in my earlier posts I have often opined here that Gulf Salafists were essentially a Saudi fifth column in their native countries. Most of them anyway, although I know there are a few exceptions.

Saudi Salafist leaders in exile, almost all of them in the West, are furious about this new social and educational reform movement by MBS. They say it is a plot to end Wahhabism as they know it. It is, after all, threatening to deprive them of their only theological anchor: the Wahhabi clerical establishment in Saudi Arabia. The secular opposition, those not in prison in Riyadh or in Western exile are mostly silent for now, regrouping.

Now the Salafists of the Gulf states are facing a dilemma. The new Saudi strongman, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is trying to move away from strict Wahhabism. He is trying to tap the dormant discontent and excruciating boredom among the huge population of young educated Saudis, male and female, as well as to impress Western policy-makers to his side. He is also doing it out of economic necessity, given this country’s heavy dependence on foreign labor and foreign talent. Given the depleting nature of fossil fuel resources. This position is unusual for a Saudi prince who was not educated in the West, especially in the USA.

Gulf Salafists have for years been cheerleaders, money collectors, as well as volunteers for Al Qaeda and later ISIS (Islamic State), although they have toned it down in recent years because of political pressure by regional governments as well as American efforts. Some of them have even tried to follow the official line and pretend to abandon ISIS, by irrationally claiming that it was a creation of the Iranian mullahs (or was it the Emir of Qatar, as some of their minions seem to claim, although before last year, before-Trump and his Kushner baggage, many of them were claiming that Israel helped create ISIS).

In recent months, as I follow Salafists, and some Gulf Muslim Brotherhood members, on media and social media, I notice the effect of their dilemma. Some of their most outspoken commentators and rabble rousers are silent for now. Uncharacteristically silent. As if shocked by this turn of events in Riyadh, as if they are waiting to see where it leads to. Here they were pushing their own countries, like Kuwait and others, to impose restrictions on social life and on education, along the sectarian model of  Saudi Arabia. Yet now Prince MbS seems to have pulled the rug from under their feet.

I wish him well in his attempts to open up Saudi Arabia and diversify it. I don’t wish him well in his attempts to pull America into his plans for a sectarian war in the Persian Gulf region. He does not need my wishes for his genocidal war on Yemen: it is clearly a hopeless quagmire, a failed war, just as I wrote here about three years ago.

It is now in Donald Trump’s hands: will he be foolish enough to rush into taking sides in a disastrous new sectarian war in our region? Will he take the tempting money, the bait being offered by this Saudi prince (and others in the Gulf) and start a war of choice with Iran? A war that will be a folly, just as this Saudi prince’s war on Yemen has turned out to be……. 

Other relevant posts to enjoy:
Norah O’Donnell Interviews Prince MBS, Sans Pom Poms…..

From Brexit to the Gulf: Saudi Arabia Set to Annex Great Britain ?………

A GENUINE ARAB SPRING LED BY THE REVOLUTIONARY PRINCE OF SAINT VALENTINE’S DAY MASSACRE

ARABIAN PR AS HISTORY: FRIEDMAN HAS EPIPHANY, JOINS THE REWRITING OF HISTORY OF JIHADISM…..

MIDDLE EAST WARS: ASYMMETRIC MILITARY SPENDING, ASYMMETRIC MILITARY COMPETENCE……

THE SECOND FRUSTRATION OF PRINCE BIN SALMAN: A FIASCO IN QATAR……

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Norah O’Donnell Interviews Prince MBS, Sans Pom Poms…..

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Norah O’Donnell of 60 Minutes was a lot like one of the journalists from Saudi Al Arabiya Network (or one from an offshore Lebanese network) while interviewing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MbS). I expected Norah to end the interview by standing up and clapping heartily, as a Lebanese interviewer for one Arab network did a couple of months ago. But no real colorful pom poms for CBS.

I can’t wait for the upcoming interview with Vladimir Putin. At least Putin, with all his reported meddling, will not be pushing (almost certainly paying) for the United States to wage another war of choice in the Persian Gulf or elsewhere. They say part of the prince’s mission is to talk Donald Trump into a new blockade and likely into the mother of all quagmires: an unprovoked war of aggression against Iran.

(Anyone remember  Saddam Hussein of Iraq in the 1980s and how progressive & popular we were told he was? He was popular enough to be armed to the teeth by the West, including WMD technology. He invaded Iran, and when that failed he invaded Kuwait. He used chemical weapons extensively against the Kurds and the Iranians, and nobody objected. Very progressive)

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

From Brexit to the Gulf: Saudi Arabia Set to Annex Great Britain ?………

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“LONDON: Britain and Saudi Arabia set out an ambition to build 65 billion pounds ($90.29 billion) of trade and investment ties in coming years, the prime minister’s office said on Wednesday, calling the agreement a vote of confidence in the British economy ahead of Brexit. “This is a significant boost for UK prosperity and a clear demonstration of the strong international confidence in our economy as we prepare to leave the European Union.”……. Saudi FM Adel Aljubeir: We have launched a strategic partnership with #UK covering all areas…” Arab News (Saudi)

Decryption: Saudi Arabia is getting ready to annex post-Brexit post-European Great Britain, at least convert it into a new satrapy like Bahrain, but more elevated. I think that is premature…..

Reading major British newspaper and media sites, it looks that way. Thay have acquired a flavor, or a sycophantic odor, similar to the Saudi media.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

A Genuine Arab Spring Led by the Revolutionary Prince of Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre …….

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In America, the Middle East wars and rivalries are being waged along the Eastern Seaboard, from Washington to New York and on to Boston. Arab and other Mideast lobbyists, hired public relations firms, media opinionators, and paid think tanks are in full gear. The Saudis (and the UAE) get the lion’s share of it. And we see the results not only in Washington and New York power centers, but also in the media and social media.

Finally a new real Arab Spring is blooming in Saudi Arabia (according to the shoot-from-the-lips Tom Friedman of the N Y Times); the USA must throw its full support behind an invisible “Revolutionary Saudi Prince“, according to old hand Dennis Ross. More American accolades of this kind are being piled on the newish Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Bin Salman (affectionately and otherwise known as MBS) has certainly shaken the Saudi power structure. But he has achieved the following since his father acceded to power early in 2015:

  • Lost any hope of pushing back the expanding Iranian influence and of enabling his favorite Jihadis in Syria. He lost the Syrian war to Assad, Iran, Hezbollah, and their allies.
  • He screwed up the tense and balanced situation in Lebanon. The man whom Hezbollah (the Iranian mullah’s staunch ally) wanted became the Christian president of Lebanon. In exchange, a Saudi ally and business partner, Saad Hariri, was recalled from Paris to become prime minister. He reached an accommodation with the other Lebanese factions, including the largest party: Hezbollah. Prince MBS was upset and summoned him to Riyadh the day after he met a high Iranian official in Beirut. Riyadh, where Saad Hariri vanished into some sort of weird captivity (he is also a naturalized Saudi and French citizen).
  • Where is Hariri, asked Waldo (and most Lebanese)? Finally he surfaced in front of a Saudi television camera inside a Saudi TV station. He looked numb, confused, nervous as he read an odd declaration of (forced) resignation that could have only been written by the Saudis, with the usual atrocious Arabic grammar and terms. Even Donald Trump’s speechwriter can probably do better, in Arabic.
    It took an uproar in Lebanon, in France , and even in Washington and a visit by French president Macron for the Saudis to release the prime minister of Lebanon and let him fly to Paris and then to Lebanon. Quite a ride.
  • Well before that, prince MBS had started on his worst and longest foreign adventure (no, not the honeymoon nor the half-billion-dollar yacht nor the half-billion-dollar Da Vinci’a Salvator Mundi painting). As soon as he was appointed Defense Minister by his daddy in 2015, he started a fierce but predictably futile war on Yemen. That genocidal war has been waged for three years now, with active American and some British help, under both Obama and Trump. It is at a stalemate: the ragtag Houthi tribals ruling in Sanaa against the best Western weapons that money can buy, and it is a stalemate. Sort of like Afghanistan, but at a more disastrous cost to human life and infrastructure. A true genocidal war.
  • Next came Donald Trump’s poisonous saber-rattling Summit in Riyadh last may, followed by attempts to force a Saudi hegemony on other GCC countries. It started with an attempt to turn Qatar into a Bahrain-like Saudi satrapy. That attempt, a total boycott and blockade of Qatar, backfired spectacularly after Qatar managed to mobilize other countries to help, including Iran, Turkey, and some Western countries.

The Prince’s latest snafu was at home (but overtime it may turn out to be a smart power play). Overnight, many princes and other wealthy Saudi oligarchs were rounded up and locked up at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton luxury hotel. The same hotel that hosted the Trump clan last May. Normal political activists and other unfortunates are usually thrown in more infamous prisons. But these captives, all high-ranked rival royals and other oligarchs, are used to a different lifestyle. Hence the Ritz-Carlton. No sign reading “Arbeit Macht Frei” over the door for them. Most of them were reportedly conditionally released into internal exile, after they acceded to the shake-up and parted with some of their ill-gotten wealth. They may also have signed some allegiance to the new ruler of the country.
If it lasts, MBS will be the first truly absolute ruler of the kingdom: all the others ruled by some degree of consensus within the inner circle of senior ruling family princes.

On the other hand he is being smart by moving towards some (non-political) freedoms for women. A smart and long-overdue move. Some early crumbs are being thrown to Western sensibilities: a promise to allow women to start driving cars sometime next summer. Maybe. Also opening sports stadiums to women: another good and needed move, no doubt. That should also make (seemingly) powerful women like Ivanka, Maureen, Mika, and maybe even Hillary happy and gushing in their praise. He seems to have gotten most of the major Wahhabi clerics to go along, at least those he had not preemptively jailed beforehand.

A revolution in the true royal fashion indeed…….

Cheers and Happy Saint Valentine’s Day, Al Capone……  

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Middle East Wars: Asymmetric Military Spending, Asymmetric Military Competence…….

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“Military spending increase over past decade. (at 2015 prices)
UAE: +122%
Saudi Arabia: +20%
Israel: +18%
Turkey: +9.6%
Egypt: -5%
Iran: -7% “
Spectator Index

So, according to these figures up there: the smaller the citizen population of a country, the more military spending (and greater military power?). The larger the citizen population, the less military spending (and less military power)….

But would that also make tiny Qatar or the tiny satrapy of Bahrain into regional military superpowers? Could these two Gulf superpowers be arming up, preparing for the illusionary day when the Iranian invaders finally try to smash through the mighty American-British-French navies clogging my Gulf and sweep into the Arab side of the Persian-American Gulf?

Not accounting for clear regional anomalies like some gross modern Arab military incompetence and other inabilities of military and political leadership (Yemen War, for example) or the Israeli competence in waging asymmetric traditional warfare (asymmetric in terms of the quality and quantity of weapons available). Or the Iranian skill and efficiency at advising and supplying their Arab surrogates and allies in fighting their own wars against better-funded and better-supplied foes.

(Some years ago, back in the Persian Gulf region, we used to speculate about the news/rumors that all the huge weapons deals with foreign exporters paid exorbitant commissions (known as bribes in impolite company) to regional princes and potentates, or occasionally to their wives or their children. Much of these ‘speculations’ were of course based on facts, as we all know from the most infamous of them: the huge BAE Systems kickbacks/commissions of billions of dollars to former Saudi Ambassador in Washington, Prince Bandar. Other regional countries have had their own less famous scandals.)

More on this…..

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

The Second Frustration of Prince Bin Salman: a Fiasco in Qatar……

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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, known affectionately and otherwise as MBS, has had a rocky period. But that is to be expected for a young man who finds himself suddenly at the helm of a country, purely by the coincidence of birth. In my last post I covered briefly his Yemen adventure. But the adventures were not done.

Last Spring came the Qatar fiasco. Qatar generally stood on the Saudi side in the losing Syrian war. But Qatar supported its own version of Islamic Jihadists, not the Salafist Wahhabis that the Saudis funded and armed (who later became AQIS and ISIS). Yet as long as they were both on the same side against the Assad regime things were mostly fine.

But there has been serious tension between the two Gulf states in the past. In the 1990s the Saudis engineered a coup attempt in Doha to overthrow the father of the current Emir and reappoint his predecessor (his father) who was more to their liking. The coup attempt failed, and Qatar continued to be a thorn on the Saudi side. The Qataris also supported and funded the Muslim Brotherhood, whom the Saudis (and Emiratis) disliked almost more than the Iranians. Then there was  the Aljazeera network, which was too outspoken on regional issues for the Saudi (and Emirat) taste.

So, finally, after several bouts of alternately making up and breaking up, the dark cloud of Donald Trump and his avaricious clan showed up in Arabia. I posted here at the time that Trump’s visit to the Arabian Peninsula in May of 2017 was a most poisonous visit. Apparently the potentates of Saudi Arabia and the UAE convinced Trump that Qatar was a major source of trouble and terrorism; they also bribed him with promises of hundreds of billions of dollars of arms purchases and investments. Somehow they got the impression that Trump was on their side, and that he would condone any action they might take against the smaller Wahhabi emirate.

So, early in Summer 1917, they announced a complete break with Qatar including land, air and sea blockades, with the support of the Egyptian regime which fears the MB as much as they do. The inexperienced new Saudi strongman Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was told that it will be easy, that the Qataris will fold, but that unlike the case of Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the Americans will not object.


There were signs of trouble from the start with the campaign against Qatar. First: Oman and Kuwait, almost half the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members refused to join the boycott and blockade and the threat of invasion against Qatar and its citizens. Second: Turkey stepped in to shore up its budding military alliance with Qatar. Third: Iran, which shares a huge gas field in the Persian Gulf with Qatar, opened her airspace and sea lanes and land routes to Qatar in order to go around the closure of the Arab routes. Soon plentiful Turkish and Iranian foods started replacing Arab sources of food and other imports. One pathetic Saudi commentator went so far as to absurdly tell the Qataris on Saudi semi-official Alarabiya TV that their stomachs were not used to Turkish and Iranian food products.

So far the Qatar adventure has failed. Qatar’s rulers  have not become Saudi satraps or an appendix like the rulers of rebellious Bahrain.

Another major miscalculation that has backfired and further weakened the Saudi hold and influence on the GCC alliance.

Stay tuned. More to follow….

GCC AND PLIABLE ARAB REVOLUTIONARIES: QATARI-SAUDI MICRO COLD WAR……

MEDIA WARS: CAN SAUDIS AND QATARIS BUY THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF THE ARAB WORLD?………

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Stay tuned. To be followed…..

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

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

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

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

A Bite of History of Jerusalem and Mecca: Donald Trump Bahnhof, DonaldTrumpStrasse, Trump Mosque…….

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“A future train station in Jerusalem near the sacred Western Wall will bear the name of President Donald Trump, Israel’s minister of transportation said Wednesday, calling it an honor bestowed in response to Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. “The Western Wall is the holiest place for the Jewish people, and I decided to name the train station that leads to it after president Trump — following his historic and brave decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel,” Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said in a statement, according to the Jerusalem Post…….”

First- a bit of history: at the beginning of Islam, the small community of Muslims used to pray facing Jerusalem, not Mecca. They did that for some years. At that time Mecca was controlled by pagan Arabs who worshiped idols and statues that lined up the Kaaba. After the Muslims conquered Mecca and its people converted, it became the direction toward which Muslims prayed. Yet Muslims kept their political capital in Madinah (the Prophet did not trust the new Umayyad converts who dominated in Mecca). All that was, of course, long before they conquered Jerusalem and built the Al-Aqsa Mosque under the Caliph Omar.

There is one place outside the USA where Donald Trump is actually popular. The same place Barack Obama was so unpopular: Israel. Then there are a couple of remote places where the populace sees a combination of orange face and orange hair and opines support for their owner. Pockets of Oceania, some former East European allies of the German Reich, pockets in India, etc..

Media report a frenzy in Israel of naming and renaming places and streets after Donald J Trump. In addition to the Western Wall Train Station, there are street-name changes and other renaming. One street used to be Salah-Eldin (Saladin) Street; it is becoming Donald J Trump Street (DonaldTrumpStrasse). That last one probably makes sense, given that the name Saladin is controversial to both sides in the context of the occupied territories: he retook Jerusalem from its last Crusader rulers.


Now I have asked my secret cynical correspondent in the third (and lower) leg of the Middle East tripartite alliance, Saudi Arabia, if there are any similar moves to rename a street or housing development or even a mosque after Donald J Trump. He claims there is no such move, yet. But he hinted that it is likely Trump and Ted Nugent and Sean Hannity may become star attractions at the next Jenadriya Festival (an annual Saudi Desert Hootenanny event).

Cheers

M. Haider Ghuloum

Saudi Arabian Perestroika but No Glasnost: Ditching Wahhabism, the Aramco Dilemma…….

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“Saudi Arabia unveiled a $500bn plan on Tuesday to create a vast economic zone in the kingdom’s north-west, the most ambitious and expensive project in Riyadh’s efforts to diversify the oil-dependent economy. Details of the new city, called Neom, were released as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hosted some of the world’s most powerful investors and bankers at a conference designed to showcase his vision to modernise the conservative kingdom and lure investment to the country…….”

Interesting and unprecedented things may be about to happen in Saudi Arabia, if the ruling crown prince keeps all his promises. Possibly positive things. It will have reverberations across the Arab world.

Saudi Crown Prince MBS seems to be impressed by the example of the United Arab Emirates, especially Dubai. It will be a tough sell in the Wahhabi heartland of Najd in Central Arabia. To diversify the economy also means to diversify the society, and open it not only economically, but also culturally. That is the most closed of Middle East societies.

So far there are signs that the top Wahhabi establishment is falling in line, but that may change: the prince had to incarcerate several mid-level but prominent Wahhabi clerics before he started talking of his version of Perestroika (perhaps not so much Glasnost for now).

A few independent Arab media outlets have been hinting for months that the new Saudi order is impressed with the economic experience of the UAE. At the same time, the substantial Islamist (mainly Wahhabi) opposition in exile has been warning and complaining that the ruling Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi in the UAE (an economically and culturally open Gulf state, definitely non-Wahhabi) has too much influence over the Saudi Crown Prince. There might be some truth in that, and it will create a dilemma for the Salafist movement from the Gulf to Egypt. Persian Gulf Salafis, who are practically Saudi proxies, have always been very critical of the openness of the UAE and its social and religious openness.


The domestic impact depends on success in keeping the population content, economically speaking. But times are hard, with oil revenues declining, and the weapons-selling pressures of Donald Trump are strong. Add to that the expensive and stalemated war in Yemen, and the new financial commitments to select remaining “friends” in Syria and Iraq.
So it may require disengagement in Yemen and reducing commitments in the Levant, as well as reducing the huge weapons deals with the Western powers. But then there is a catch in all that too: it might mean ceding the Northern Tier of the Arab world, the Levant/Fertile Crescent, to long-term Iranian influence. The Saudis already seem to have given up on Lebanon, where a Hezbollah-Christian coalition seems to have strengthened its hold on power.

Stopping the bleeding from Yemen will be a tough one: that country is the soft underbelly of the Arabian Peninsula, and a reasonable cause for worry. But war will not solve the Yemen problem, only some kind of political deal that is agreed upon by the Sanaa coalition and the Saudis. That still leaves the problem of Aden in secessionist-oriented Southern Arabia, now largely dominated by the UAE. And I haven’t even mentioned the expansion of AQAP and ISIS in Southern Yemen.

It would be quite interesting to see how the Wahhabi kingdom is transformed into a truly modern state (without the political opportunities of Glasnost).

(P.S: As for selling off the huge state oil company, ARAMCO, we can forget about that for now. My educated fatwa about ARAMCO? It will take much longer than two or three years or even five years to get it ready for privatization. IF it ever happens: I have seen similar films before in our Gulf region.)

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum