Category Archives: Elections

The Enemy Within? the Extremist Salafi Islamist Opposition Returns to Kuwait Politics……..

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Kuwait has the most free and open elections in all the Gulf GCC states. The others don’t really have any. She will have new parliamentary (National Assembly) elections in the last week of November. Much of the ultra-reactionary Islamic-Tribal alliance that boycotted the last election has given up and decided to run for office. That should be good news, but in this case it is truly bad news for the country, its social cohesion, and sectarian tranquility.

The Kuwaiti political opposition are a mix that is dominated by Salafis, Muslim Brothers, and reactionary tribal seekers of office. These have cleverly dominated the smaller Wahhabi-Liberal and pseudo-academic types who are nominally secular.

Last time the so-called Kuwaiti political opposition mustered a majority in parliament, their first act was to vote to convert the country into a Wahhabi-Salafi theocracy by instituting the Shari’a literally. Apparently their ideal of a democratic civil society. The proposal got a majority of votes: every member of that opposition group voted for it. Only the few urban members and the Shi’a members refused to support it. Luckily, the Emir thought correctly that it was a bad idea and refused to sign it. He vetoed it and saved the country from the ritual of beheading, crucifixion, public flogging, chopping hands, and other such Wahhabi-Salafi pleasures and pastimes that exist in a neighboring country.

Most of the opposition members had claimed they would not run again until the election laws were changed away from the new one-man-one-vote system, and until one of their leaders is released from prison. They made a lot of noise about ‘principles’ and about a ‘democracy’ that most of them never believed. Apparently four years on the outside have cured them. Basically they have surrendered and, in true Salafist fashion, betrayed their imprisoned ally Musallam Al Barrak.

The years of absence of any political influence and tribal pressures have caused most of them to announce they are running for the November 27 elections. That means that they will again apply pressures to move in the Wahhabi-Salafi direction. To interfere in the private social lives of people, and to start another book-burning episode. Some of them are already announcing their intention to try again to make the Shari’a the law of the land.

And to fan the flames of sectarian tensions that they introduced to the country. They will also start hounding the Shi’as and maybe the few Christians. Last time they were in parliament this Salafi-MB-Tribal alliance asked the government to start “monitoring” the Shi’a religious services. Meaning to spy and intimidate the minorities. Some, possibly many, of these members no doubt will get elected, and they will start making the country and society even duller that it is now.

We shall see soon enough how the post-Thanksgiving turkeys turn out. Certainly no better than the same turkeys looked last time around…..

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum


A Fatwa and Prediction on the U.S. Elections…….

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The way things stand now, I know what will happen next November, the day after the next General Election. Whatever the outcome.
Many people in the United States and most people all around the world will wake up the next morning, November 9, sigh, and say:

“Thank God. It could have been even worse…….”

Maybe they will be right. Speaking of the presidential election only. As for the congressional and governorship part, it still looks hopeless. People, voters, often tend to double down on heir past mistakes. That is why so many senators and congressmen and others of both parties stay in office so long.
Even governors. For example: take the last Wisconsin and Florida governorship races, among others. Floridians are forgiven, they are notorious for screwing up elections anyway.

M H Ghuloum

Fatwa on Dynastic US 2016 Election ……….

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My Fatwa for the US ?
Old Corporate Money vs. New Corporate Money = Jeb  vs. Hillary
New Corporate Money Wins…….

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Netanyahu King of Israel: the Arab Dilemma of Theodor Herzl……..

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Netanyahu won by throwing under the bus the remnants of the anemic and failed ‘Peace Process’. No two-state solution now, unless he backtracks again. So, no Palestinian State means One State for Jews and Arabs? At least not for the next two to four years. In doing so, he may have thrown part of Israel under the bus as well. Few world leader take him seriously or believe him now, outside the US Congress and the Republican Party. The “wolf” warning could have been a little bit more credible if the boy doing the crying had been a different one.

That leaves two eventual options:

(1) A democratic option: everybody votes, which is the case in Israel now. Which also means the Palestinians in the West Bank get their first truly free vote. The Israeli right does not like this, the idea of Arabs voting “in droves” as Netanyahu complained on election day. The Israeli Arabs were given the vote at a time when the center-left (Labor) dominated Israeli politics, with what they could salvage from the ruins of their old European ideals. Had the Likud and the extreme right-wing been in power in 1948, the Arabs probably would not have gotten the vote. Even now the right (Lieberman) has tried to keep them away from the Knesset (an Israeli version of the claimed voter suppression in some American states). To be fair, Arabs don’t also get to vote in most Arab countries, but then the princes and potentates and generals don’t claim to be democratic, not convincingly. When they do, nobody believes them anyway.

(2) a moderate version of the untenable South African option, pre-Mandela. Which means Arab townships surrounded by concrete walls. We already see the beginnings of that now. Two unequal states in one country: unless they get the vote. The Israeli right wants to keep the West Bank but keep its voters away from the polls, and the Israeli center-left would probably want universal voting rights. If they get the vote, and in such large numbers, what would that do to the original Zionist visionary idea of Theodor Herzl

There are other options which some hard-nosed Israelis might prefer. A Jordanian option, back to pre-1967 state when Amman ruled the West Bank and Egypt ruled Gaza (forget Gaza for now, it is a different entity). But Likud does not win elections by uprooting Jewish settlements and displacing settlers and new immigrants, its reliable political base.

So, a dilemma. Best left for some future date to resolve. Easier politically for now.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Middle East Democracy: Between Bibi and Sisi and the King of Kleptocracia………..

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  • Al Sisi (Egypt): Al won almost 98% of the vote in a very weak turnout. He had a weak opponent who should have boycotted the “election”. Not that he needed it: the generalissimo was already in power before the vote. He even promoted himself to Field Marshal before the election.
  • Bibi Netanyahu: he is struggling now to keep his job. In spite of the stunt he arranged with the U.S. Congress and the circus in Washington. He is behind by 2-4 seats. Might manage to hang on if he can kiss enough extremist little party arses (even more extreme than he is). Somebody did that in Germany decades ago and became chancellor.
  • Bashar Al Assad: he got 88% of the vote in a very imperfect not-exactly-free election (I am being polite here) at wartime. Oddly, he very likely even won a majority of the Syrian refugees in neighboring countries. Which makes me wonder: who were they escaping when they crossed the border?
  • AbdRabuh Hadi (Bin Zombie of Yemen): a favorite of the GCC potentates, the general won an “amazing” 99.8% of the vote and he had no opponent (so who did the 0.2% vote for?).
  • Hassan Rouhani (Iran): won barely above 50% of the vote.
  • Generic King WhatIsHisFace (of Kleptocracia): 100+%, always.
  • Shaikh Khalifa Al Khalifa, Prime Minister of Bahrain: he has been 43 years in office, beats the late Gadhafi and closing in on Queen Victoria. 100+%.
  • Mahmoud Abbas (PLO): Lingering in office until death do them part.
  • Actually Iraq may shape up as a good experiment in parliamentary democracy. If they can shake off sectarian and ethnic conflicts. The prime minister has changed twice in peaceful elections, even though the Jihadi terrorists are waging war. Most Arabs don’t like to admit this, but it is the case.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Israeli Politics, Iranian Politics, Arab Politics: Some Similarities?……….

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“Firebrand Arab MP Haneen Zuabi, a regular critic of Israel’s right-wing government, was banned Thursday from standing in next month’s general election. The elections committee gave no reason for the disqualification, reported on its website, but Zuabi’s lawyer Hassan Jabareen said it was because she was deemed “hostile to the Jewish state.” The committee also banned extreme right winger Baruch Marzel, a follower of radical rabbi Meir Kahane……….”

This sounds almost Iranian, as in Islamic Republican. They have a similar system where candidates are vetted to make sure they are not “outliers” as far as the regime is concerned. The difference is, an Israeli court is more likely to overturn this disqualification.
Which reminds me, about the coming parliamentary ‘elections’ in Egypt……..

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Fourth ‘I’ of American Politics: Season of the Yarmulke, no Lederhosen for Christie…….

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Election season is nearing in America, and all the birds are flying to warmer climates. Everybody from governors to senators to bored former politicians. They all suddenly get religious, get the urge to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (no not that one, the other one, the original Holy Land where it all started). For some reason they all insist on wearing a yarmulke and be photographed in it. I am not sure what the point is: everybody knows they are wearing it as a photo-op, even the confused voters know that. Can you imagine one of them in Lederhosen while visiting Germany or Austria? Yikes…..

I wonder if there is a photo of Chris Christie with a yarmulke. Okay, I just found one (no, I could not find one of him in Lederhosen, not him….. Gott Sei Dank):

What do you think he is thinking of? God? Yahweh? Allah? Adelson?

Or Marco Rubio. Or, ridiculously, Rick Perry of Texas. Or the single regulation schwartze who seems to be running for the Republican nomination. Actually I found photos of most leaders of the last quarter century in yarmulke. None of JFK or Ike or……… sorry, faux pas alert, never mind. I even found one of a youngish Fidel Castro in yarmulke, although it might be a fake, since he never ran for office in the USA.

Hillary Clinton does not have to do it. She is a woman: a lady’s prerogative. Maybe  a babushka headscarf would be more appropriate, or a drindl. But she is more of a babushka type nowadays than a drindl type anyway.

Anyway, they used to make three pilgrimages in the old days. To the three “I“s of American politics: Israel, Italy, Ireland. Now increasingly there seems to be one “I” they focus on. By necessity, in conjunction with that one “I”, they also all threaten to pay special unwelcome attention to that other fourth big “I” in the room: Iran.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Ebola and American Sectarianism: the Politicization of Everything……..

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“We buy shit we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like….” George Carlin

In these divisive and divided times there is hardly anything, any event, or any phenomenon that is not politicized in America. It is almost like the country is reliving the 1860 campaign of Lincoln: it is deeply divided along political, economic,and cultural lines. That makes the politics venomous in election years, almost sectarian, to use a Middle Eastern reality that many Americans have discovered in the past decade or so. It continues in other years which are not election years but have become pre-election and post-election years. There is so much fuel, so much money to spend on politics: buying candidates, buying expensive airtime on the Boob Tube, and effectively buying voters by financing their favorite television shows.

People here are so busy defeating the terrorists by overworking in order to keep up and to buy more goods and gadgets (some call it more stuff, others call it more shit). That was how George W. Bush succinctly expressed one part of his strategy to defeat terrorism after September 2001: go shopping. So between work and other distractions the people have no time to think politically. They emulate corporations that have outsourced their jobs, factories and customer services, mostly to Asia. Many American voters have now outsourced their political thinking to the television sound-bite industry. I suspect that in many cases the last catchy sound bite on the last weekend before the election wins it all.

As per a decision of the Supreme Court of the USA, money has more than equal freedom of speech and political expression (Citizens United). “Corporations are people, my friend” intoned the Least Interesting Man in the World during the 2012 presidential campaign. So, the politics go viral, more than ever before: the country is divided and money is not a constraint anymore.
Some state governors, ambitious and/or terrified of looming elections, decide that Ebola suspects should be completely quarantined in their states. Other politicians, many from the party that is out of the White House, talk of banning flights from West Africa. Then they wait for their rivals to supply the wrong sound bite and provide a political edge.

In this era, nothing is sacred: from God to National Security to Death. Everything is being politicized: first God, then War, then health care, and now Ebola. Even the HIV/AIDS scare was never so politicized in its heyday. Only sports seem to have stayed above the fray, so far………

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Caliph Abu Al-Baghdadi and Dukakis and a Foxy Zombie in Kentucky……….

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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Election time in the United States has become silly time. The discourse in recent years has focused on the candidates distorting and trying to trap each other. In trying to do so, they show what they truly think of their constituents: that the voters are too stupid for clean debate.

U.S. media Tuesday was full of excerpts and reports and soundbites and video clips of a senate race debate in Kentucky (hmm, a race in Kentucky, get it?). I watched some excerpts on Morning Joe and another news program. Alison Grimes, the challenger to Senator McConnell was asked several times who she voted for in the last presidential election. It was a silly, meaningless, gotcha question since everybody ‘knows’ who she voted for. She is a Clinton Democrat who almost certainly voted for Obama, if that matters. The moderator was trying to trap her into an embarrassing answer (embarrassing by Kentucky standards), or maybe he wanted his Bernard Shaw and Dukakis moment of glory. Very likely both.

Anyway, the lady candidate almost squirmed, hemming and hawing, and avoided a direct answer. She rightly pointed out that the country has secret ballots for a reason, but nobody was paying attention. McConnell looked waxen but also poised to strike, almost like a ‘foxy zombie‘, if there is such a thing.

Which made me think of ersatz Caliph Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi Al Samarrai. I mean they were talking about the elected president of the United States, not the Caliph of ISIS. From the debate and the media reaction later on, you’d think she may have voted for the silly but murderous gang-banging Wahhabi Caliph of Mosul and Al Raqqa. Or maybe Satan himself.

Silly season for nearly another month, but then it will continue for two more years. Oy vey, as we say in the Middle East………..

Arab Nursery Rhyme Transition to Democracy: Mary Mary Quite Contrary…….

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Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockleshells
And pretty maids all in a row.

“Deputy spokesperson of the United States State Department Marie Harf said in a press briefing on Monday that Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is leading the country’s democratic transition, despite recent criticism by the US of Egypt’s human rights record and the US holding some of its aid to Egypt pending democratic reform……….”

Also sprach U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf. But in fairness what else can the lady say?
Transitioning to democracy is a gentrified term to use now for Arab dictatorships and absolute tribal family rule. Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi is transitioning Egypt to democracy, hence he is still part of an axis of goodness, almost certified by Good Housekeeping. In the process he has overthrown a freely-elected president, the man who promoted him to defense minister, and thrown him in prison with a dozen or so trumped up charges. In the process his security forces and his soldiers have massacred a few thousand civilian protesters, the largest such massacre in modern Egyptian history. In the process his security have arrested and thrown in prison tens of thousands of people who disagree with him. In the process he has got himself “elected” against a hapless tool, with more than 97% of the vote (in a very low turnout election). In the process his courts have sentenced almost two thousand protesters to death, and the toll keeps rising.

By the same standards we can also argue that the Al Saud absolute tribal princes are transitioning the Arabian Peninsula toward democracy. We can also say that the vile absolute tribal rulers of Bahrain are transitioning the captive island of imported mercenaries and teargas toward democracy. We could have said the same about Mu’ammar Gaddafi and we can say it abut Bashar Al Assad. Etc , etc, etc………
Ten, twenty, thirty years from now, they will still be transitioning their peoples toward democracy. With a lot of help from their soldiers and their security agents, and in some cases with their imported mercenaries.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum