Category Archives: Barack Obama

Obama’s Middle East Doctrine: How Familiarity Bred Contempt……..

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Familiarity breeds contempt……….

The American and Middle East media have made a lot of President Obama’s recent long interview with columnist Jeffrey Goldberg for The Atlantic magazine.

The result has been called the Obama Doctrine. In the series of interviews he complained, correctly, that much of the problems of the Arab states, especially those on the Persian Gulf, are the creation of their ruling elites. He also complained how the princes and potentates (he named Saudi Arabia) have tried to drag the United States into their sectarian campaign, and to drag him into another Gulf war against Iran. The coup de grace for the princes and potentates was his suggestion that they have to ‘share’ the region with Iran. This only further enraged the American neoconservatives, the hawks of both parties who have not heard of a new Muslim war that they did not like or encourage.

Back to Barack Obama. For years Mr. Obama has been facing a three-front war of warmongers: Gulf allies, Israel’s dominant right wingers, and American hawks in the Senate and in some think-tanks. And the lobbyists funding most elected officials. All pressing him to launch a couple of new wars of choice in the Middle East: a big one against Iran and a smaller one in Syria.

I believe that his other problem with some of the above has been partly racial. Not only with some Republican-Tea Party types at home, but also with some Arab leaders and with Netanyahu of Israel. The fact is that these Arab leaders, most of them, are used to dealing with white American leaders. Most of them have deep prejudices, even as they themselves are quite swarthy. A form of nuanced racism that lingers across the Arab world toward foreigners other than Westerners.  These potentates grew up seeing men like Eisenhower, JFK, Reagan, Clinton, Bush, even John Wayne bring order (or mayhem, depending) to countries or to towns like Abilene or Dodge City on the screen. Then suddenly John Wayne of Rio Bravo is replaced with Cleavon Little of Blazing Saddles.

It is partly psychological and partly racial. Suddenly and unexpectedly the leader of the Free World is a guy who looks to them like a neighbor or a cousin, albeit a lot smarter, more cultured, and better looking. How can you expect a Saudi king or prince or a UAE potentate to defer to someone who looks like one of his nephews, or even one of his many black servants who are barely this side of slavery? Well, much better looking and much smarter, but…….

Mr. Obama, on his part, got to know the princes and potentates well over the past years, too well for their good. Inevitably he developed a deep and healthy degree of contempt for them. And who wouldn’t? In that case familiarity was bound to work as the famous saying goes.

To add insult to injury, the failed Arab uprisings of 2011 uncovered how naked the  Arab emperors, the ruling elites, were. From the giant emperors in Cairo and Tripoli and Damascus to the little wee emperors in Sanaa and Manama. For a few glorious weeks the Arab masses pulled off the sheets to show how naked their leaders were underneath.
It was a brief spring that was followed by an even colder winter than ever. That was when the worst of them, the oligarchs, the moneyed kings and princes took over after the protesters were killed, imprisoned, exiled, cowed, or bought. They bought the Arab uprisings, from Egypt to Syria to Yemen. In fact they have bought the whole Arab League, which they now mostly own. With a couple of exceptions plus Tunisia, and Algeria.

Now, like some here in the USA, they can’t wait to go back to dealing with a “real American” leader. One who looks like the previous ones. It would be a great divine justice if they get Bernie Sanders, whom they will dislike for more than one reason and these reasons are all obvious.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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Donald Trump and the Pussycats: from Washington to Jerusalem……

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Everybody has been following the debates, arguments, and food fights between Donald Trump and “others”. From his Republican rivals to the Pope to the Bush family to the Clintons and former Mexican leaders/oligarchs. He certainly does not back down from a fight, he usually doubles down. In the process, he calls his detractors and rivals some choice words (some of them well-deserved).
Tsk, tsk: politics were supposed to be served discreetly, like a slow Borgia poison, not so bluntly as a broadsword or Roman gladius.

Can you imagine Senator Mitch McConnell, majority leader, saying of a President Trump what he has been saying of President Obama for seven years? Trump would almost certainly call him what he exactly thinks of him: a pussy from Kentucky at best.

Can you imagine Israel’s Benyamin Netanyahu coming to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in order to openly sabotage American foreign policy as he did last year? A right-wing foreign leader? A President Trump would openly call for his deportation, adding the “pussy” and “liar” epithets as well.

Can you imagine a President Trump bowing down to some tribal autocratic  kleptocratic prince? Or walking around holding his hand as Bush did in Crawford?

Can you imagine him politely, too politely, deferring to a foreign leader, be they Chinese or Russian or Middle Eastern?

This is not to endorse him or overlook the tools of bigotry he has been conveniently using against easy targets like Muslims, refugees, and desperate Latin workers that his own businesses probably hire. Cheap shots he takes, but that has become one tool of American politics these days.

As for the nonsense he utters about Obamacare and the Iran Nuclear Deal, it is just political posturing. The horse has already left the barn on these issues, as all Republican candidates know but pretend not to know.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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View from the UAE: Obama the Shi’a and the Jewish Nuclear Deal………

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Our Middle East region has truly gone crazy, sectarian crazy. That is especially true of the Persian Gulf region, which has gone apeshit (forgive mon français) sectarian. I mean people of all sects have gone sectarian, be they Sunni, Shi’a, Wahhabi, Sufi, or Haredim.

A comment on Twitter by Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan, the chief of the Dubai Police and a high United Arab Emirates -UAE- official with many followers attracted my attention. He is often clownish, in his deeply sectarian and primitive tribal way. As sectarian and divisive as any full-blooded Wahhabi across the Buraimi Oasis. As sectarian as someone from, say, ISIS or DAESH, can be. He is a serious man: all the nonsense he tweets he does quite seriously and he believes it all. That could be dangerous, but he has potentates above who make the real decisions. He claimed in his tweet, quite seriously, that:
“Obama, whose origins are Shi’a, was elected to move America and Iran closer, especially on the nuclear issue, and he has succeeded”.

He also tweeted that
Jan 18 Dubai, United Arab Emirates

في علم طبائع البشر يدرس الإنسان كيفية درء الخطر وهذا ما فعله بني صهيون في دراسة طبع الإيرانيين. أتوا لهم بشخص جذره شيعي كيني برافو .
“Bani Sahion (Children of Zion), meaning Jews, elevated a Kenyan Shi’a (Obama) to serve their purposes…”

Khalfan did not mention if Obama was born in Kenya or Hawaii to Shi’a parents, so he is not a birther. Just a quasi-Wahhabi nut job that only our Gulf region can produce. Nor did he mention if Mr. Amano, chief of IAEA is also an East Asian Shi’a.

The odd thing, or maybe not so odd, is that many people, including some quite educated people in the Gulf region (and Arabian Peninsula) believe such nonsense. They are beginning to see Shi’as under every bed, so to speak.

On the other hand, who knows: maybe he has a point, maybe it is all true………

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
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A Tale of Two Sieges: Obama in Sana’a on the Potomac……..

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It is tempting this week to compare two cities, two governments, and two countries. On the face of it no two countries can be more different than the United States of America and Yemen. No two cities can be as different as Washington DC and Sana’a. But I shall try to blur the sharp differences:
Months ago Houthi rebels swept from the north and took over the capital of Yemen, Sana’a. They had president Generalissimo Abd Rabu Hadi under a friendly siege for several months as they maneuvered to bend the regime to their will. This week the Houthis seem to have succeeded, for now, in taking complete control of the governance of (North) Yemen. For now: Yemen is not easy to tame. Some in neighboring Arab countries claim that the Houthis depended on Iranian support in their confrontation with the regime. They are also reported to depend on Iranian money. A plausible claim, but then a clever skeptic can say that Generalissimo President Hadi and his corrupt supporters depended on Saudi and UAE money.
Two months ago the very conservative Republicans in the U.S. finished their complete control of both houses of the United States Congress, in Washington DC. They tightened their siege of President Obama, hoping to eventually depose him and replace him with one of their own tribe by 2016. There is no need for anyone to claim that the Republicans in DC depend on the Israeli Likud in their confrontation with Obama. That is not necessary. This week we learned that they have secretly invited the head of Likud, Netanyahu, to come to Washington to officially anoint them as true leaders of the city, just as they will officially anoint him the new war president of America when he makes his speech in Washington in February. He, the alleged chickenshit, will get more standing ovations than Obama can even dream of. More than Abe Lincoln would get. That goes for both parties since nobody dares to be seen to rebuff Netanyahu or be tepid about him for the sake of a mere U.S. president.

Many of these congressmen, of both parties, also depend on pro-Likud money encouraged through AIPAC blessings or directly from Likudnik rich tycoons like Adelson.
I know, I know, there are some major differences with Yemen. But the recent similarities are almost shocking when you think about them.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

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Caca Del Pollo Diplomacy: Chickenshit as New Codename for Netanyahu?………

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Chickenshit? What took you so long, lame duck?…………..
Ever since Barack Obama became U.S. president Mr. Netanyahu (his groupies in America prefer Bibi!) has been going out of its way to disrespect him, in his own house. Which means disrespecting the office of the president and disrespecting the United States.

There is a pattern: whenever there is a high level American-Israeli meeting or visit, there is an announcement of new settlements in the West Bank or Jerusalem, or the expansion of existing settlements. It is like flicking a middle finger in Mr. Obama’s face even as he provides support to Israel. It is probably not racist, probably not, although he never did it to Bush. Nicolas Sarkozy, who can hardly be called anti-Israel or antisemitic, once dismissed him as a ‘liar’ into an open microphone.

Adding insult to injury, Netanyahu reportedly has had the habit of doing much of his American diplomacy with Congressional and Senate members, mainly Republicans. They would deal, nay connive, directly with a leader of a foreign country to undermine official American foreign policy.
Mr. Netanyahu is a petty hack and political hustler, for all this strange mix of  American groupies who seem to consider him some kind of Guru Noir. He has managed to patch together a cabinet of the extreme right, with strong support from Jewish Wahhabis and settlers. In other words, he has no other choice if he wants to remain in power.
Chickenshit? Probably yes, almost certainly yes. But it is worth it to him. As someone in the U.S. Congress might say these days: those who are not chickenshit finish last come November. In Israeli power struggles, and every other November in the USA.
Chickenshit? Hell yeah, why not………

A great succinct American term. I have been trying accurate Arabic and Persian and French and German translations for it. Spanish sounds the most plausible and most exotic for now: caca del pollo.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Obama’s Slow ISIS War: an Obligatory Coalition of the Usual Suspects……..

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I watched Mr. Obama’s speech on dealing with the Islamic State of ISIS (he calls it ISIL). I thought he was smart enough to leave the details vague, no “mission accomplished” and no details of any incursion into Syria. He even seemed to push forward into the future any possibility of arming the fractured disintegrating border groups that call themselves the Free Syrian Salafi Army. He promised some help for ‘some’ of them, probably to preempt the usual expected heckling noises from Senators McCain and Graham. And to keep the Arab princes and potentates content. He also mentioned the obligatory international ‘coalition’ of the usual suspects.

What was shocking to me was the number of American pundits and opinion-ators, including some generals and former officials who should know better, who suggested that foreign “Sunni Arab” forces be used in Iraq and Syria. But Iraq and Syria are already full of armed foreign “Wahhabi Arabs” and “Wahhabi Europeans” seeking to liberate them from all non-Wahhabis for the Caliphate. These liberators either came from or were armed or financed by the elites of the same “Arab forces” these experts now want to send into Iraq and Syria. Not one of them bothered to suggest seeking approval of the Iraqi and Syrian peoples or governments. We should not overlook that these two governments, with all their shortcomings, are at least as representative as the Saudi and Qatari governments. At least.

Arab forces? What Arab forces? A couple of experts mentioned specifically Saudi and United Arab Emirates (UAE) forces. WTF? The UAE apparently does not have enough citizens (barely 10% of the population) to police its own streets, let alone face the fierce Jihadi terrorists. The Saudis are reportedly periodically negotiating with Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Egypt for military and security help if and when needed.
And why would Iraq and Syria allow these tribal ruling families to send more of their mercenary forces inside their countries? Even as their Wahhabi ideology and money and weapons and volunteers are wreaking havoc in both countries with kidnappings and bombings and massacres. And why would these same Arab rulers send their hapless troops to be sitting ducks, picked off by all sides of these conflicts?
Which confirmed to me that Mr. Obama is smarter than most leaders of his own party and the opposition party. Which makes sense, otherwise he would not be speaking to them from the other side of the television cameras and microphones.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Holy Netanyahu Groupies in Washington: Unfair and Unbalanced ………


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“Take Netanyahu’s appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday. The host, Bob Schieffer, permitted the Israeli leader to make a lengthy case for the his military’s ground attack, guiding him along with one sympathetic question after another. Finally, after describing Netanyahu’s position as “very understandable”, Schieffer asked about dead Palestinian civilians – but only to wonder if they presented a public relations problem in “the battle for world opinion”. As if Schieffer’s position wasn’t already blindingly clear, he went on to quote former prime minister Golda Meir’s line that Israelis can never forgive Arabs “for forcing us to kill their children”…………….”

Looks like old Bob Schieffer was in kowtow mode. Most U.S. media types are in that mode when they have Netanyahu on, if they are blessed enough to have him “spread the bull” on their program. Some of them, just like most members of Congress, act like teenage groupies chasing after Justin Bieber. I strongly suspect that many of them delay washing their hands after shaking the hand of Bibi.

Yet how can anyone forget when both Obama and French president Sarkozy correctly called him a liar on an open microphone? Here is how it went:

Sarkozy: ‘Netanyahu, I can’t stand him. He’s a liar.’

Obama: ‘You are sick of him, but I have to deal with him every day.’

Can two august leaders of the free world both be wrong at the same time?

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Mr. Obama’s Ramadan Iftar Political Rally for Israel………


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“During his address (at the Iftar dinner) , U.S. President Barack Obama said, “No country can accept rockets fired indiscriminately at citizens,” Obama said. “And so we’ve been very clear that Israel has the right to defend itself against what I consider to be inexcusable attacks from Hamas.”………”We knew it was all bad when we saw this tweet surface a few minutes into the iftar by none other than Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer,” one website, The Thrival Room, wrote. Meanwhile, scholar Tariq Ramadan published a statement describing this year’s dinner as “political instrumentalisation of (voluntarily) trapped Muslim leaders listening to President Obama justify the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians, declaring Israel has the right to defend itself. One wonders what is the relationship between the Iftar celebration and Israel?………”

There was no reason at all to politicize this Ramadan Iftar by focusing on Israel or its Gaza targets. No reason to make it into an almost ‘Israeli’ political rally. But Mr. Obama’s advisers are creatures of habit. Maybe it was force of habit: every time a US politician sees a bunch of Muslim faces he claims that he thinks of a ‘threatened’ Israel. But the Saudi ambassador Mr. Adle Al-Jubair, was there resplendent in his native attire, and he is hardly a threat: he is the envoy of the Likud’s best Arab ally. On the other hand, some of the Muslims attending are also reported to have complained about surveillance of their communities. Funny, I don’t feel ‘surveilled’, but maybe that is the point.

Even the Israeli daily Haaretz has more sense than the groupies and advisers at the White House who put Mr. Obama in this silly position of using an Islamic occasion to justify the Netanyahu war tactics.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com