Category Archives: Blockade of Iran

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

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

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

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

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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………     

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

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

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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.

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

WTF Foreign Policy: Will Kansas and Mississippi Invade Iran?…….

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

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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

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

Kerry and Zarif: Three Is Not a Crowd in France………

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

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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…….

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

Western Weapons Sanctions: Unintended Long-Term Consequences………

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

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“It is a tribute to Iranian ingenuity that Iran has been able to keep the planes flying, given US sanctions in place since 1979. The Iranians have done so by a combination of smuggling – using shadow companies to buy parts – and cannibalising parts from civil aircraft. They have also engaged in reverse engineering, though this seldom produces a perfect match, resulting in weaker parts. Justin Bronk, a research analyst in the military science programme at the London-based Royal United Services Institute, said of the plane spotted over Iraq: “This is the equivalent of a late Vietnam-era F-4 Phantom D or E variants. We do not know which one.” Bronk, who specialises in combat air power, added: “It is extremely impressive that the Iranians have kept this airworthiness given the ban on spare parts. The Iranian aerospace industry is one of the best in the world in keeping old aircraft airworthy.”…………”

For some reason they can’t seem to get more modern warplanes from their Chinese and Russian allies. Or maybe the mullahs are just as attached to old American jets as the Shah was to new ones.

In any case, they have managed to improvise and build up their technical skills and weapons industries. Necessity is truly the mother of invention, and a fount of new research, technical skill, and knowledge. If and when the American-European blockade is lifted, they will probably find themselves with a robust domestic weapons and space industry that can only be rivaled by the Israelis.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Nuclear Iran: Israeli-Western Narrative and the Khamenei Narrative……..

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

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“Such a compromise would fall well short of the maximalist demands of Iranian hardliners, including the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who continue to believe that Iran should have a nuclear-weapons option, if not the bomb itself. It would also provoke outrage among sceptical members of America’s Congress and Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who insist that Iran’s record of cheating means it should have no enrichment programme at all. But that is the nature of compromises; neither side will get all it seeks……………”

The Economist narrative seems to have been taken straight from the mouth of Benyamin Netanyahu. Yet how do they presume to know the mind of Khamenei? To know what Khamenei thinks? They seem to quote him without actually quoting him: a neat journalistic trick (we bloggers also use it). Let us see what Khamenei has said publicly on Twitter (and let’s assume that he means it):
@khamenei_ir:
“Iran considers the use of WMDs as an unforgivable sin. Nuclear energy for all and nukes for none”
“We consider the use of WMDs as Haraam; we believe that it is everyone’s duty to secure humanity against this great evil.”  4/17/2010
“Islamic Republic of Iran considers the use of nuclear, chemical and similar weapons as a great and unforgivable sin.” 8/30/12
“Iranian nation is a victim of the use of CWs. That is why Iran is ready to counter WMDs by all its means. ” 

All sides in this argument dissemble (lie) about the nuclear issue. We know for certain that Mr. Netanyahu dissembles (okay, lies) regularly, almost everybody knows that. For twenty years he has been predicting an Iranian breakthrough to “the bomb” within ‘six months or a year’. He has slowed down now, for he used to do his predictions almost every two weeks. The West also dissembles in its claim that its focus is solely on the Iranian nuclear program. We know that is not true: there are regional strategic factors involved that have pushed the economic blockade, especially for the U.S. administrations. And not just the Israeli position or the pressures for war from some Arab princes and potentates (check Wikileaks cables).

As for Iranian officials, some of them would like to have “the bomb” and to have an excuse to clamp down even more on dissent and to block potential Western cultural influences. Toward that target they would be happy to scuttle the talks. As would many politicians in the United States and most if not all of the political and media elites in Israel.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Middle East Love-Hate: Iran and America, Islamic Republic Blues………..

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

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“One of the reasons this episode is deeply confusing might be because the “vibe” in Iran, the general feeling of walking down the streets, through the markets, the way we were received everywhere by total strangers and passersby, was overwhelmingly friendly. I have said that Iran is the most outgoingly warm, “pro-American” place we’ve ever shot—and that’s true: in Tehran, in spite of the fact that you are standing in front of a giant, snarling mural that reads “DEATH TO AMERICA!”, you will, we found, usually be treated better by strangers—meaning smiles, offers of assistance, curious attempts to engage in limited English, greetings and expressions of general good will—than anywhere in Western Europe, It would be hard to imagine strangers in Germany or France or England, on recognizing you as American, giving you a thumbs-up and a smile simply for your nationality. That was overwhelmingly the case in Iran…………”

This is a love-hate relationship: more love on the popular level, more hate on the political level. I have seen it in the Middle East and even among some Iranians in America. Many Iranians dislike American foreign policies in the region. They especially hate the unilateral economic blockade that they correctly believe Israeli leaders and their American political allies have pressured and browbeat Mr. Obama into imposing on their country.

Many mullahs and hardliners also naturally suspect and fear an opening to America. After all, they see how China has changed under Chairman Mao’s heirs so that it is now a “people’s republic” and “communist” only in name. Can the “Islamic Republic” be far behind? Probably not: many people in Iranian cities hope so. It is already changing profoundly from the inside.

Iran still probably has the most pro-American people in the whole Middle East. Many Iranians have relations, family ties, among the huge Iranian-American diaspora. They are also a relatively young population reacting to an orthodoxy their government has tried to impose on them, with waning success. They welcome mainstream American journalists who often visit, then go back home and declare their undying support for the economic blockade. (No surprise there: few if any would dare declaring against the sanctions and keep their jobs with the New York Times or Washington Post). Talking on a popular level, not on a government level: most mullahs and Revolutionary Guards are hardly pro-anything American and the U.S. Knesset Congress is violently anti-Iranian.

It is different from the Israelis that media propaganda here routinely picture as the most pro-American. Maybe they mean some shared ‘Western’ political and social values, and in many cases shared citizenship. Maybe the Mossad and the CIA and the military have some close cooperation, maybe, but that is government. The Israeli ties also reflect a degree of dependence, what many Muslims see as a one-way street that is often shaped by domestic American politics.

Nor do many others in the region feel friendly toward American policies. After all, the biggest attacks on the American homeland were planned and executed mainly by terrorists from two major allied Middle East countries. No doubt more are being planned and thwarted even now.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Human Shield Theory, Axis of Evil Theory, and other Propaganda Tools………


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Yesterday I watched former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on CNN dutifully repeating the usual claim that Hamas is using Gaza civilians as human shield. She was giving the usual bi-partisan spiel, or spin, about the newest Gaza war. But then that is the exact opposite of the spin or spiel we get from Hamas and its supporters.

Usually whatever Mr. Netnayahu claims is initially accepted, before the other side starts its own PR machine. It is taken for granted to be true in most media here, unless otherwise claimed or proven. Apparently Hamas has learned this lesson, a fact that caused a frustrated Netanyahu to grumble recently about “telegenically dead Palestinians“.

I am not sure about the claim that Hamas is deliberately placing rocket launchers amid civilian areas. I doubt it. But it is telling that nobody, not even Arabs, believe that Israel is using its civilians as human shield. That tells me something about certain national perceptions.

So, we are to believe that Palestinians don’t love their own people, their children, and use them as human shield, and that Israelis love their people and don’t use them as human shield.

But hasn’t this same ‘human shield’ story been used against other countries as well? Or the similar idea that some regime, Cuba or Iran, is impoverishing its own people, holding them as human shield, because it invites a Western economic blockade by not succumbing to the will of Western powers? The idea that the countries of an Axis of Evil would use their people as cheap fodder while the Axis of Goodness would not. Some might say that the numbers of war veterans wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq and then neglected by their own countries would refute that.

This “human shield” charge is largely based on Western notions that other peoples do not care for their citizens as much, that human life is cheaper in Palestine than it is, say, on the streets of Chicago on a Saturday night, or in Compton (Calif), or in parts of the Bronx or in Detroit on any night. Which is obviously untrue.

During WWII, the Germans could have claimed that Churchill was using civilians as human shields. And vice versa. And while we are talking old wars and human shields, think of Stalingrad and London under the Blitz.

Stay tuned…………
Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com