Category Archives: Blockade of Iran

Epithets at the UN: Rogue Nations vs. Rogue Politicians…..

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President Trump called Iran a “rogue nation” in his speech to the UN General assembly on Tuesday. This is an American political staple, an epithet US politicians often use for nations that they have disputes with, especially Iran. It implies a high degree of outlaw behavior. Of course most regimes/government commit some outlaw behavior abroad, if they can get away with it. It is all in the eye of the beholder.
Today, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani returned the favor: he called Mr. Trump a “rogue newcomer to world politics“. He also called him ignorant and hateful, unfit to be at the United Nations. He also returned the favor to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by calling him the leader of a “rogue and racist regime”.


So, now we have a duel of rogue regimes, apparently. But if every government calls its opponents “rogue” regimes, then that means the whole world is composed of rogue regimes….. assuming all have the same degree of credibility….
Nicht war?

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kim must have started thinking:

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

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

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

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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

Iran’s Khamenei Does a Trump: MAGA becomes MIGA……

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“Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei fleshed out his vision of a “Made in Iran” economy Tuesday, calling for a ban on certain imports and an end to the $15-billion smuggling trade. The annual speech on the first day of the Persian year serves as a sort of Iranian equivalent to the US State of the Union address, and Khamenei used it to provide more details about his calls for a self-sufficient “resistance economy” that has been his main theme in recent months. “The importing of products where an Iranian equivalent exists should be considered religiously and legally haram (forbidden),” he told a huge crowd in the holy city of Mashhad. He took aim at Iran’s rampant black market in smuggled goods, which he said was worth at least $15 billion annually. “Some speak of $20-25 billion,” he said. “We want greatness for our country, social well-being and security at the national level. Without a strong economy we cannot achieve all that…..”

Ayatollah Khamenei sounds almost like a Trumpista, but only in the economics of trade sense. I am exaggerating a bit: clearly Khamenei does not believe in a trickle-down economy, now set to become a gushing-up economy under Trump. He does not have a gaggle of billionaires around him defining his own “populist” comfort zone in Tehran. He mostly favors fellow mullahs.

Not as bad as many other Middle East leaders these days. Some groveling Arab leaders are the worst offenders, effectively throwing their fellow Muslims under the bus to please Trump. Before the November elections they expected a resounding Hillary Clinton victory. Their Wahhabi-Liberal mouthpieces in the press and social media obediently excoriated Trump. But that was then.

Soon after Mr. Trump issued his first unconstitutional Executive Order banning many Muslims from travel to the USA, surprisingly including legal residents, some Arab kings and princes reacted positively. Particularly Saudi and UAE rulers, who have certain demands of Mr. Trump for their own regional agendas, quickly praised his move. Even as many Americans and the US courts stood against it. Their hasty positive reaction was uncalled for, it was voluntary, did not even wait for the US court decisions, which turned out as I had expected.

Khamenei is also applying some pressure on President Rouhani in his election year, distancing himself from an economy that has not done as well. Some Iranian officials have recently expressed disappointment that the Nuclear Deal has not helped the economy as much as they had expected.

But the Iranians have become good at managing under forced self-sufficiency. The long decades of mostly-American sanctions have forced them to produce many of the tools, equipment, and weapons they have needed. An unintended positive by-product of the economic siege. Even with the reduction and lifting of sanctions, their country will continue to produce many of the goods it has been forced to make under the economic siege.
So, maybe its is the other way around: maybe Mr. Trump’s “Made in America” message is an imitation of the forced “Made in Iran” policy on the other side of the world. Ali Khamenei has not uttered the term “Make Iran Great Again” (MIGA), but his occasional exhortations and policy statements sound similar to “Make America Great Again” (MAGA). Without the goofy red Trump hat.

More on this later, stay tuned.

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

Iran Nuclear Deal: Who Speaks for the Arabs?………

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No other group of Middle East countries have ever sought so tenaciously to keep a foreign blockade against one of their neighboring countries in modern times. With the exception of about three absolute Arab regimes along the Persian Gulf who fought tooth and nail to keep the Western Blockade against Iran.
President Obama is reported this week to have arranged telephone calls with the king of Saudi Arabia and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi (effective ruler of the UAE). The goal is to explain to these potentates the nuclear deal with Iran. American media claim that Mr. Obama seeks to explain the Iran nuclear deal “to the Arabs“. Except that the Saudi king rules over only about 17 million citizens, the Abu Dhabi (UAE) potentate rules over only about one million citizens. These two potentates may speak for their own citizens only (maybe). They don’t represent 250-300 million Arabs extending from the Persian Gulf to the Atlas Mountains. Most of these other non-Gulf Arabs don’t oppose this deal. There are also many people along the shores of Gulf, from Oman through Dubai, Bahrain, Qatif and other places who don’t oppose it. The rulers of Saudi Arabia, and much of their “inland” Wahhabi peoples, plus the rulers of Bahrain and their local allies, and many in Qatar (only the tiny minority who are citizens) are probably among the strongest opponents of the deal and support continuation of the Western Blockade.

As are Salafis along the Gulf and across other Arab regions, including the likes of ISIS (DAESH) and Al-Nusra and many of their leading Abu’s. They join the Israelis and their strong American lobby in pushing for a continuation of the blockade as the second choice if an American war is not on the table. The nuclear program has never been the real issue for these bedfellows: it is more about the expansion of Iranian political influence across the region.
Most Arabs in the Eastern Mediterranean support the deal and the lifting of the Western blockade, or are at least indifferent. Most in North Africa, from Egypt to the farthest western Arab country of Morocco also hold the same position. But then there is hardly any Iranian political influence across North Africa.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Prince Turki as a Nuclear Flying Dutchman: Is he Aiming to Learn Persian?………..

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““Whatever the Iranians have, we will have, too,” Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief, warned at a conference in South Korea last month. Under the emerging deal, instead of ending Iran’s nuclear program outright, Tehran might be allowed to keep up to 5,000 centrifuges to produce nuclear fuel for energy and medical purposes. Saudi Arabia’s leaders are fixated on containing Iranian power throughout the Middle East, whether real or perceived. The Saudis worry that, once economic sanctions are lifted under a nuclear deal, Iran would gain access to tens of billions of dollars in frozen funds and new oil revenue…………”

The Prince stated something that does not need to be stated, almost inane: “Whatever the Iranians have, we will have, too,”
Iranians also speak Persian: does this mean the Al Saud plan to all learn the Persian language? Anyway, a sovereign country can do whatever it wants at home. Which is exactly what the ruling mullahs of Iran have been saying (or claiming, if you prefer).

As I and others have posted and wisely opined, there is more to it. The Saudi princes want to keep their financial near-monopoly in the Middle East, while starving their neighbors. They feel entitled to keep their potential rivals (mainly Iran and possibly also Iraq) economically weak, and they want the Western powers to help them do it. It is a legitimate power play for the very short term, but it doesn’t work beyond that. You can’t starve national interest and sovereignty and scientific knowledge out of a society.

Of course nobody is stopping the Saudis from developing their own peaceful nuclear program, so there is no need for this Flying Dutchman Prince Turki to perpetually circumnavigate the world screaming about it. The prince is now competing on this issue with his alleged ally Netanyahu, and he sounds as stale: an alliance of convenience between the ultimate anti-semites and the Israelis.
Just do it: you can print it on a new T-shirt. Pull down your universities and colleges, restructure than away from all the Salafi Shariah “stuff” and focus on science.

If not, they can always buy a program, they are good at buying wars and Western weapons and Jihadis for Syria and terrorists for Iraq. It is all apparently legitimate……..

Nuclear Inscrutable Iranians, PrinceTurki as a Nuclear Wandering Semite………     

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Obama Will OK Iran Nuclear Deal Review by Netanyahu………..

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“Obama Will OK Congress Iran Deal Review. On Friday, President Obama called a bill which would allow Congress to review the terms of an Iran nuclear deal a “reasonable compromise” and said he planned to sign the bill. He said he feels it will not derail talks with Iran, though Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Bob Corker and leading Democrat Ben Cardin have been tasked with making sure that the bill is not laced with “poison pills,” or amendments that might kill the Iran agreement…………..”

I, we all know (at least in the Middle East) that it will not be truly the US Congress that will really review and judge the Iran nuclear deal. It will almost certainly be the real boss who will effectively do so: Benyamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel and Supreme Leader of the U.S. Congress (both houses, both parties).

Eventually, to approve the deal, Obama will have to go around the Congress. Otherwise, no deal: congress is bent on either tightening the blockade of Iran or waging another major war of choice against another Muslim country in the Middle East.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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WTF Foreign Policy: Will Kansas and Mississippi Invade Iran?…….

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“As the United States and Iran come closer to a historic nuclear deal, many US states are likely to stick with their own sanctions on Iran that could complicate any warming of relations between the long-time foes. In a little known aspect of Iran’s international isolation, around two dozen states have enacted measures punishing companies operating in certain sectors of its economy, directing public pension funds with billions of dollars in assets to divest from the firms and sometimes barring them from public contracts. In more than half those states, the restrictions expire only if Iran is no longer designated to be supporting terrorism or if all US federal sanctions against Iran are lifted – unlikely outcomes even in the case of a final nuclear accord. Two states, Kansas and Mississippi, are even considering new sanctions………….”

Several of these God-fearing fly-over states were happy when the US started shipping agricultural products to the Godless Communists of the Soviet Union. As were some other non-fly-over agricultural states on both coasts of the United States. That was years ago during the old Cold War.

Now it looks like many states, both fly-over and on the two coasts, right and left, have imposed their own ‘sanctions’ against Iran. It is not clear why this is so, since the US government has its own tough blockade. Since the Iranians never attacked Pearl Harbor nor the Twin Towers or the Pentagon, others did.

You’d think these local legislatures would be more concerned with ‘local’ stuff like economic growth, taxation, education, infrastructure, crime, racism. Rather than engaging in their own little cold wars. Could it be related to ‘political’ money and political clout from the Israeli lobby? Or could it be that they seek funds from ‘other’ sources? Could it be the effect of a new Israelite prophet of the extreme American Right and Evangelicals? All of the above? It could, it could.

I must admit my first reaction on reading the piece was an audible: WTF!!!!
My second reaction was: thank God Kansas and Mississippi (and California) don’t have long-range bombers and naval forces anywhere near the Persian Gulf.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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The Urban Legend on Arab Reaction to the Lausanne Nuclear Deal………

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2

Western media, especially American media, are full of talk, analysis, anguish, and punditry about the regional impact of the Lausanne nuclear deal made by Iran and the six world powers. I am speaking about the alleged Arab reaction. It is all based on a vast media campaign, whispered leaks to select American columnists, and private complaints by highly-placed “Arab” officials to unnamed bureaucrats. This campaign has utilized the vast media owned by some Arab kings, princes, potentates and their fronts in some Arab capitals and in the West. Thus it has created an urban legend about “Arab” anger and disappointment about a deal that will lift the economic blockade from Iran.

It is obvious that the sources of this alleged “anger” come from some of the GCC states of the Gulf and not from most other Arab states. That is why President Obama has invited the GCC leaders exclusively to Camp David in order to calm their alleged fears. And no other Arab leaders.
Now the members of the GCC whose regimes have leaked or expressed their dissatisfaction are almost certainly only four members: Saudi Arabia (including Bahrain), Qatar, and the UAE. These four countries have, with a total population of about 30+ million represent maybe some 12% of the total Arabs. I am not even counting the fact that almost half the ‘total’ population are imported temporary expatriate laborers who couldn’t care less about the issue. Can we say that these princes and potentates speak for the Arab world? Can we say these entitlement “born” leaders speak for other countries that “elect” their leaders? Now what about the others: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, etc, etc?

So, forget the reports about “Arab” anger. It is mostly an urban legend created and encouraged by the dominating vast media of Saudi Arabia and Qatar who have created so many news outlets and gobbled up so many other Arab media.

So, show me the figures, the reliable polls……..
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Kerry and Zarif: Three Is Not a Crowd in France………

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“A veto-proof, bipartisan majority of House lawmakers have signed an open letter to President Barack Obama warning him that any nuclear deal with Iran will effectively require congressional approval for implementation. A group of bipartisan senators have penned a bill mandating that any deal be reviewed and approved by Congress, but the House letter notes that lawmakers have another way to halt an agreement — by refusing to roll back sanctions………..”

Secretary of State John Kerry and Javad Zarif of Iran have been seeing each other a lot. Mr. Kerry has probably seen the Iranian minister more than any other foreign minister, certainly much more than Avigdor Liberman (I know, I know: Avigdor Who?) or Benyamin Netanyahu. I am sure he is content with not seeing the latter two, as would any minister or leader outside the United States. They seem to get along fine, might even be bonding: there are smiles and lakeside walks and long chats. But underneath it all there are short taut strings for both men, the Iranian and the American.
I can just imagine the Frenchie Laurent Fabius lurking around, crashing their intimate talks, wanting to hear it all, scheming to throw new wrenches into the process. A representative of other non-participating potentates. And to think that there is a French equivalent of “three is a crowd“, although this may not always be the case in France, if you get my drift.
It is remotely possible that if the Iran nuclear talks are derailed by the many evil forces working to do so, one of these men will defect to the other country. It can be either one of them. Unless they both defect at the same time…….

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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