Category Archives: GCC

The GCC Game of Musical Alliances: from the Gulf through Africa and Beyond………

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Something strange has been going on recently among member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
They had their summit in Manama a couple of weeks ago, which ended with nothing spectacular to announce. The Salafis of the Persian-American Gulf and the usual Bahrain potentates (both fiercely Saudi proxies) have tried, again, to create some excitement about a possible “union” based on the European model. But it would be a union of ruling families, not based on the popular will, since Kuwait is the only GCC country that has free popular elections. But Kuwait has the misfortune of being stuck between three large and menacing neighboring countries: Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia (the country was invaded by both Iraq and Saudi Arabia in the last century).

The idea of a Gulf union was a no-go, and DOA at the summit: it was not even discussed publicly. Some others within the GCC saw it as a way to formalize a fearsome Saudi attempt at hegemony. They/we all know how the Saudi Kingdom was formed during the last century by swallowing smaller neighboring emirates in the Arabian Peninsula.

After the summit, Saudi King Salman visited every member country except for Oman. Certainly because Oman is the least likely member to follow Saudi policies and wishes. It is odd for the ruler of a member of GCC to start visiting other member states immediately after the summit ends. Why not meet them individually during the summit? They apparently want to send a message to other members and to some Arab counties.

Soon after all that, a Saudi delegation last week visited Ethiopia, a country with which Egypt has serious disputes over the Nile waters. The delegation also pointedly visited a new Ethiopian dam that Egypt claims seriously reduces its share of the Nile waters. That visit created an uproar within Arab media and social media.
But wait, that is not all, there is more (as the TV ads say)…..

Now there is an announcement that the foreign minister of Qatar is visiting, you guessed it, landlocked Ethiopia. Almost certainly just to bother the hell out of the Egyptians.

Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar (and Turkey as well) have just suffered an immense strategic defeat in Syria, when their Jihadist surrogates were forced out of the eastern part of Aleppo. Egypt has been moving towards siding with the Assad regime (and hence by association with Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Russia) in the Syrian war. This has clearly angered some of the Gulf allies who either support the Jihadis in Syria or need to show that they do so for domestic political reasons.

That leaves out the UAE, the third major partner in the Saudi regional alliance. The UAE shares one very important thing with the current government of Egypt: they both hate and fear the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile Qatar is practically a Muslim Brotherhood monarchy (and so close to the Turkish Islamist regime that they have agreed to have a Turkish military base in their country). The Saudis have warmed up to the Brotherhood recently because they are their allies in the Yemen War (through the corrupt Islah Party).
These are fascinating developments that are now unfolding in the Middle East.

As I said: wait, there will be more, and soon. The GCC states, especially Saudi Arabia, have been playing a game of “musical alliances’ in recent years. Since 2011 they have allied on and off with Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Eritrea, Djibouti, Mauritania, Sudan, and now Ethiopia, among others. A list of mainly countries with deep economic problems. And the game of Musical Alliances goes on.

As I said: but wait, there will be more, and soon………..
Cheers

M Haider Ghuloum

Middle East Sands Shift Again in the Mayhem of Post-Post-Arab-Uprisings……

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In the beginning there were the Arab uprisings……
The era of the Arab Uprisings is over. The era of Post Arab Uprisings is over. Now the Middle East is going through the era of Post-Post Arab Uprisings.

The Arab convulsions that started at the end of 2010 were initially expected to usher in a new era of revolution against the stagnant order. That hope quickly shifted as the newly-anointed Arab Center of Power, represented by Persian Gulf oil wealth and Gulf Wahhabi-Salafi ideology basically took over the Arab League and its institutions. Or so it seemed.


But a few unseemly things happened on the way to the royal takeover of the Arab World.

The initial Syrian uprising of 2011, which had been taken over by Gulf-backed Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood Jihadists, stalled. Having been hijacked by essentially agents of even more repressive Arab regimes, it veered into the darkest realm of sectarian and confessional divisiveness, a normal Wahhabi inclination. Foreign intervention has made a solution even more difficult. But the military situation has now decidedly shifted in favor of the Damascus regime and its allies.

In Bahrain, the regime cracked down hard on the uprising of 2011, ‘invited’ Saudi and UAE forces to help its repression, and turned to the old divide and rule policy by going sectarian. That country is still very unstable, heavily dependent on foreign Arab forces and foreign mercenaries to keep order.

In Yemen, the GCC and the UN arranged for dictator Colonel Ali Abdallah Saleh to leave office. But they chose his deputy, another general named Abd Rabuh Mansour Hadi to be “elected” with 99.8% of the vote. Even Kim Jong Un does not get that kind of victory. Hadi was quickly co-opted by corrupt military and tribal forces, along with a very corrupt local version of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Eventually Hadi was overthrown by a rebellion of the tough northern Houthis and elements of the old Yemeni army. He was basically allowed to escape (reportedly dressed as a woman in Burqa).
As the Houthi alliance expanded south into Aden, Hadi (who had resigned AND his term had expired) and his henchmen escaped to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis made the same mistake they had made before, they tried to invade Yemen with a force of hired African and Arab mercenaries. It is now a quagmire, helped by the Obama Administration which arms and refuels the Saudi bombers that commit what is essentially a murderous genocide.

In Libya, the dreams of American and European liberals and conservatives alike were shattered by the aftermath of the overthrow, torture, and murder of Gaddafi and his son. The Western powers had engineered a UN resolution past Russia and China that had wordings that created a loophole for NATO to bomb Gaddafi’s Libya. All based on false claims by opposition rebels. Russia and China have not forgotten that Western deception at the UN, and they are unlikely to vote along the same lines again. Libya itself is now a smaller version of Syria.


The biggest prize as usual was Egypt. After one year of elected Muslim Brotherhood rule, a couple of Gulf states ‘financed’ a series of huge opposition protests and eventually a military coup. Shades of the CIA Operation Ajax in Iran, circa 1953. Egypt was to become basically a satrapy of the Saudi and Emirati potentates, rich but uncultured tribal despots. An absurd notion to anybody who knows anything about ancient Middle East history.

Now Egypt is reported to have swung another way. A media war is raging between Egypt and her presumed Gulf sisterly (or brotherly) bosses, and regional policies are shifting. From Yemen to Syria to Iran, possibly even to the Gulf, Egypt is seeking new alliances and restoration of old ties in the face of a Wahhabi blackmail.
The Egyptian-Saudi dispute has gotten so serious that former Yemeni officials, all Saudi agents who urge the bombing of their country from their comfortable Saudi exile, now are accusing Egypt of supplying the Houthi rulers of Sanaa with missiles.

Other Gulf media mouthpieces have accused neutral Oman of expediting the transfer of Iranian weapons to the Houthis. These are certainly attempts to justify the miserable failure of the expensively-armed and Western-guided but incompetent Saudi and UAE forces to win the war in Yemen.
Another major twist, but it is not over. Stay tuned…..

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

 

Islamic Mercenaries of the Persian Gulf: Have Quran, Will Travel………

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This is not a new phenomenon on the Persian Gulf: religious sheikhs (clerics) for hire.

Often they come from Egypt, Jordan, North Africa and other Arab countries/regions. They usually attach themselves to one or another among the ruling absolute oligarchies, of the Gulf, especially in the UAE or Qatar. Attracted by money and opportunity, they start issuing statements or Fatwas in favor of their benefactors and against others who displease these benefactors. They are absolutely mercenaries: clerics for hire. No different from the armed foreign mercenaries that some Gulf regimes hire to do their repression or wage their regional wars.

Here is a man with the impressive-sounding title of Deputy President of the International Union of Muslim Clerics, basically a clerical bureaucracy for hire. He is here accusing another cleric-for-hire, the Religious Adviser, whatever that be, of the top man in the UAE, Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ), of being among “devil worshipers”. He also called him a religious traveling salesman. MBZ and the UAE are among the strongest anti-Muslim Brotherhood in the whole Middle East. This is a sore point of contention with their Saudi “allies” in the stalling war on Yemen.
Of course all this name-calling is a case of one soot-covered pot calling another pot ‘black’.


The Persian Gulf GCC states are full of these hired expatriate clerics, like Al Qaradawi (in Qatar) and others, basically mercenaries, religious guns for hire. Often they are either Muslim Brothers who have found the joys of oil money (in Qatar) or others hired by the UAE potentates to blast the Muslim Brotherhood. Islamic gunslingers and mud-slingers.

All these people do their own interpretation of the Quran or Hadith to serve their masters. They are almost as bad as the Salafis, almost.
Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Arabs and the Nusra Front: Marketing Their Own Cutthroats in Syria…….

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More than a year ago I posted here that Al Qaeda may be brought in from the cold by some Arab regimes. With the goal of using it in Syria and Iraq. Here is a link to NUSRA FRONT: ARE THE PRINCES BRINGING AL QAEDA BACK IN FROM THE COLD?…... A month later I posted another rant about NEW WAHHABI INTERNATIONAL: AL QAEDA AS THE NEW GREAT HOPE OF JIHADIS IN SYRIA…… 


There were several others posted here:
AL QAEDA FRONT OF SYRIA RETURNS TO ITS WAHHABI ROOTS, NO LOL……

JABHAT AL QAEDA OF SYRIA: ARE SAUDIS AND TURKS SELLING IT TO AMERICA?………

SAUDI PRINCES THROW THEIR SUPPORT TO AL QAEDA SYRIAN ALLY, OF BROTHERS AND COUSINS AND ZIONISTS AND OUTSIDERS………

All that was then. Now we probably see a culmination of the moves made by some Arab potentates and Persian Gulf Salafis. Salafi activists on the Gulf, especially in my hometown, have been trying for years to bring Al-Qaeda and the Wahhabi royal princes together. Al Qaeda has remained faithful to the Bin Laden line of no compromise: after all it doesn’t have much more than that these days.

In the past few weeks many opinions and social media comments by Gulf Salafis have urged Al Nusra, the Al Qaeda franchise in Syria, to break from the mother group. Gulf Salafis are nothing if not unfaithful and treacherous partners and allies, in addition to being a reliable fifth column for the wishes of the absolute tribal princes. They have been willing to flush their mother Al Qaeda organization, now headed by the hapless Egyptian Al Zawahiri, down the Salafist toilet. They see the big prize as being Syria. Besides, Al Nusra cutthroats have long been the most effective of the Syrian Jihadis (outside of ISIS). Tempting the West to support them might be do-able, by the mere fact that they are not-ISIS.

It seems that Jabhat Al Nusra, Front of Islamist Support, has listened to its Gulf Salafi brothers’ call and will join forces with the Arab princes in order to defeat Bashar Al Assad and establish their own Umayyad Caliphate in Damascus. A tall order if the battle trends of the past two years continue. It is now finally “breaking up’ with Al Qaeda headquarters, wherever that be, likely in preparation of fellow Wahhabis, the Saudis and Qataris, trying to sell its virtues to the Western allies.

The leader of Al Nusra, this Al Julani (meaning Man from Golan although he may not be from there) possibly aspires to declare himself the new Caliph of Wahhabism, even as the Iraqi ISIS-Baathist Caliph of Raqqa and Mosul moves closer to losing his realm.
Al Nusra now seems the last remaining (no so) White Hope of the absolute undemocratic Arab tribal monarchs and the Gulf Salafis to liberate Syria for the joys of Salafi fundamentalism. Perhaps that also applies to a few deluded politicians in the West.

(Turkey’s Mr. Erdogan seems too busy these days in internal matters to dabble as much in internal Syrian affairs. He has his own version of repression to impose).

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

The War in Yemen: Exactly Whose Side is Allah On?…..

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Saudi media, like most Arab and Middle East and Muslim states media, is controlled or severely-monitored by the state. Like most Middle East media, the reporting on the news reflects the state’s official policy. This is also true for Iran and especially for Turkey and to a much lesser extent for Israel.

The war in Yemen has not been going well for the Saudi side. The Houthi militias and their army allies have been stubborn in resisting the attempted well-armed and well-financed foreign assault. Moreover, the ISIS and AQAP terrorist groups have grown stronger in South Yemen, the main sector of operations for Saudis, Emiratis, and their hired African allies like Sudan and others (in addition to logistical and intelligence, air-fueling, and the siege help by the USA and Britain).

The Yemenis are also taking the war seriously into southern Saudi territory, areas some Yemenis still remember were their own land before the Saudis annexed them. It is almost like a war between the Yemenis and most of the rest of the world, and the lightly-armed and besieged Yemenis are winning so far.

More recently the attacking coalition has been losing some expensive aircraft. Apparently God, Allah, or Yahweh has decided to join the Houthi-Salih alliance for now. According to Saudi and UAE media, all their warplane and helicopter losses have been due to “bad weather”. Occasionally “technical issues” are mentioned. This scape-goating has not escaped the notice of some Yemeni commentators on social media. Since bad weather, like good weather, is the work of God, I lean toward concluding that God is moving against the Salafi-Wahabi-Muslim Brotherhood coalition fighting in Yemen. To further complicate matters, Arab media report that the UAE has its own plans for South Yemen, possibly as an independent-again entity but dependent on Abu Dhabi for financial support.

So that is where it stands. You’d think Allah would side with the good pious Salafis, Wahhabis, and MB against an alliance that is dominated by Zaidi quasi-Shi’as with alleged ties to Persian Magi heretics. But apparently not this time, not yet. I personally suspect that HE is remaining neutral in this Yemeni folly.

(Which also brings up another point embarrassing to many Salafis: how come Allah always allows the Israeli Jews to easily win all their wars against the Arabs (except for one in Lebanon)? True, they are a People of the Book, HIS earliest clients, but to the Salafis they are still accursed heathens and, as their more rabid Salafi shaikhs always claim at the mosques, “descendants of pigs and monkeys”).

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

In the Persian-American Gulf: a Tribal Sectarian Island of Mad Snakes……

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An island, or islands, in the sun.

The United States has its largest regional naval base on it.
Britain, its former colonial master and perennial enabler of its despots, is re-establishing a permanent military base on it.

Saudi Arabia has a military base since 2011 when it helped crush a democratic uprising.

Assorted imported foreign mercenaries, goon squads, are based on it: interrogators/torturers from the humorless Kingdom of Jordan, security forces recruited from Pakistan and Syria and other places.

An island of poverty and tear gas once one leaves the Potemkin facade glitter of the capital. A majority of its native people are being gradually ghettoized, terrorized, and disenfranchised by the ruling tribal oligarchy.
Pro-democracy advocates, original natives, and critics of the ruling family are rendered stateless and sent into exile. Often they are arrested on trumped up charges and imprisoned, tortured.
Western powers, especially the USA pay lip service to the need for freedom and equality. Others don’t even bother to pay lip service to the idea of freedom on the island.

The British establishment (government, royal family, and business) are part of the problem of the people of the island. They are the greatest enablers of repression on the island. The royal family of Britain goes out of its way to show its support of the despotic rulers of the island. Idle English princes and princesses of questionable character fly occasionally to show their support (and get Saudi contracts). The despots are often feted at Buckingham and other palaces.

You know which small captive island I am talking about. A small monarchy ruled by a nest of tribal sectarian snakes and thieves, it is very close to the southeastern shore of the Persian-American Gulf. Just across the waterway from the oil fields.

I have called it a Devil’s Island in the past, a slight exaggeration. I have also called it an Island of Tear Gas, a slight exaggeration.
Any exaggeration here about this island is bound to be “slight”.

I will not name names here, leaving it to your knowledge or imagination, although it is a very real island. In the Persian-American Gulf.
Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

France Ships Vladivostok to Egypt: How the Saudis Financed Gamal Abdel Nasser….

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There was once a huge French-made naval vessel: a huge helicopter carrier of the Mistral class. It was ordered from France by Russia in 2011, but with Russia producing a large portion of it.
Then the Ukraine crisis occurred and the West initiated a boycott of Russia. France under pressure decided not to deliver the Mistral, to be named The Vladivostok, to Russia as scheduled in late 2015.

It had a bit of a problem finding a home, a paying home, meaning somebody to pay for it more than Euro 1.2 billion.
It looks like now the Saudis (and very likely their Emirati rivals) have paid for it to be sent to Egypt. Who else, since the Egyptian economy is in no position to buy rice.
So the princes and potentates on the Gulf have financed a new Egyptian battleship named after their toughest historic rival, the secular leftist strongman who sought to overthrow their regime. Another irony of modern Arab history…..

But who will Egypt be fighting in the near future in the Mediterranean or Red Sea that it keeps buying so many weapons with Gulf money (or plentiful Gulf “rice” according to Al Sisi)?


Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

Beards and Zeitgeist: Leftist Beards, Zayed Beards, Islamist Fuzz, Lice and Orangutan……….

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It seems that the fate of the facial hair we call the “beard” is often tied to the political atmosphere of the period. Part of the Zeitgeist.
Decades ago, a young man with a beard in the Americas or in Europe was considered a radical, a suspected follower or admirer of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, (or even Dobie Gillis and Bob Denver). In fascist-ruled places like Chile, Argentina, and Greece they were thrown into prison or just disappeared on suspicion of radicalism or impiety or non-conformity. In some West European airports, bearded youth were often questioned more carefully. That was then, long before the world ever heard of Radical Islam.
At the same time, in Saudi Arabia any man who was ambitious grew a goatee beard (like the one Bob Denver and Dobie Gillis sported). From the king on down, they all flaunted the goatee (some Arabs called it saksooka). But that beard was not a radical political statement: just a show of solidarity with the eternal Saudi conformity rules.

FYI: I suspect that “goatee” drives from “goat“, which means these guys admired something about their goats. Maybe just the looks.

Then two events happened in 1979 that altered the history and shape of the beard for a generation to come:
First: the Afghan war erupted, with the Western secular governments and Arab Wahhabis aligned with the reactionary Afghan tribes against the God-less Communists. That war created a whole new generation of Islamic guerrillas. Al Qaeda started in Afghanistan, with Saudi money and Arab volunteers and American (Reagan) weapons. We can also say that it was the genesis of the Taliban and ISIS and Al Nusra and other cutthroat groups. The first Afghan war gave us the shaggy unruly lice-infested Wahhabi beard so loved by our Persian Gulf Salafists. One more complication: many Salafi elders, to show that they are among the top elite, tend to die their beards, often a bright red (Orangutan) color, as rusty as their brains. Maybe it is to appeal to their wives. A few let them let it go gray.
Second: the Iranian Revolution succeeded in February 1979. Mullahs with shaggy beards and heir followers with trimmed beards took over in Tehran, replacing the clean shaven men of the Shah, King of Kings, Light of the Aryans, etc, etc. An Iranian form of conformity has spread since then: all men of importance in the regime sport a short beard. Not the shaggy lice-inviting type the Salafis have, but a more trimmed grizzly beard. Long enough to be noticeable but too short to invite the lice or particles of food.

Other Muslim countries have their own variation of these two extremes of beards. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) many influential officials now sport the trimmed neat Zayed-Brothers beard. So named after the seven or dozen (or more) brothers who own Abu Dhabi and rule the UAE. In Egypt a beard is okay if it is the shaggy lice-inviting type, for it indicates the man is an ordinary Salafist who can be bought and not a Muslim Brother. In Syria, well, no matter what kind of beard you have in Syria, it can get you killed, or worse, by any group of armed Jihadis, liberators, invited foreign guests, un-invited foreign guests, cutthroats, or just plain regime forces. You can also get bombed by Syrians, Russians, Americans, British, or Israelis.
Who was it who said: “Hands Off Syria“?

So, in any struggle in our Middle East region today, even in my native Gulf region, you need to scrutinize the beard carefully. You also need to understand the nuances and differences between the various kinds of beards and if they are dyed and what color. Your career, fortune, and life could depend on it.

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

From Europe to the Gulf: the Gruesome and Gentle Arts of Political Decapitation……….

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The UN’s special rapporteur on torture has accused Britain of playing Bahrain’s “game” by funding its human rights institutions while allowing it to act with “impunity” by not pressuring the kingdom to let him visit. Juan Méndez, whose 2013 visit was postponed by Bahrain, told BuzzFeed News the kingdom had “played the UK’s support to maximum effect”. While Méndez does not have legally binding, enforceable powers, the public nature of his reporting could potentially damage the kingdom’s standing on the world stage……..”

Historical reports of World War II tell us that whenever the invading German forces conquered a town in the Soviet Union (Russia), they started by killing off leaders of the Jewish community. They would call for all Rabbis and business and academic leaders to attend a meeting, where they would be either deported to camps or summarily shot over mass graves. The idea was to decapitate a community and render its members leaderless and lost.

Now I don’t want to exaggerate (although I will): there are no mass graves on the Gulf. The local culture does not allow for such historically-European practices. But in the British colony of Bahrain there is a milder gentler imitation of what the Nazi SS did during the war. The rulers and their imported mercenaries are slowly decapitating the troublesome Shi’as. They have been gradually persecuting and prosecuting the leaders of the majority Shi’a community (and some decent outspoken Sunnis like Ibrahim Al Sharif and others).

Clerics are being thrown in prison for speaking their minds, many mosques have been razed, and they are handing out long prison sentences for human rights activists. Many are having their citizenship, a birthright in all civilized countries, canceled arbitrarily by the ruling family and its tribal allies. New foreign people, mercenaries, are brought in who are deemed “loyal’ to the rulers. They tried that “loyalty” approach that in another Gulf GCC country decades ago, but it has backfired.

Remember, this is an exaggeration by me, a gross exaggeration on my part. Consider it like an artistic exaggeration or artistic license that is used to to make a point. But the idea is the same, even if the method is not nearly as gruesome.


Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

Houses of Glass on the Gulf: the Fatimids, the Magi, and the Safawis Are Coming!……

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اذا كان بيتك من زجاج، فلا ترمي الحجارة على بيوت الاخرين

Let me get this straight:

Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon have been castigated for years by Gulf Arab regimes and their controlled media for allowing Iranian influence (and now allowing some Shi’a militia forces from Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon). Some Wahhabis and Gulf tribal-quasi-liberal types call it Shi’a or Iranian occupation. Their favorite term is Majous (for Magi) or Safawi (for Safavid). I am sure they will revive the term Fatimi (Fatimid) soon in Egypt, with the blessing of the largely Wahhabi-ized Al Azhar clerics.

Yet those with houses of glass often cast the first stone. The Gulf states, where these same Islamists and quasi-liberals reign, are full of foreign forces and bases, none of them Iranian or Iraqi or Lebanese. For example:

Qatar has US bases, and now will soon host a new Turkish military base (I called it the Return of the Ottomans). Possibly others. But that is okay: a sovereign country has the right to allow foreign bases if it serves its national security interests.

UAE: at one time almost anybody could establish a base there, even the Canadians had one (I used to half-joke that even Monaco and Belize each may have one). France, Britain, and USA, and Blackwater mercenary veterans from Colombia, Australia and other places have bases. But that is okay: a sovereign country has the right to allow foreign bases if it serves its national security interests.

Bahrain: American Navy, Saudi forces, a new British (old colonial) base, and various imported mercenaries and cutthroats.

Other Gulf and Arab states allow foreign military bases. But that is okay: a sovereign country has the right to allow foreign bases if it serves its national security interests.

Even the terrorist Salafi Caliphate of ISIS is full of imported foreign cutthroats from Arab and European countries.

Nothing wrong with foreign forces and military bases, sometimes they provide security in a rough and dangerous neighborhood, especially in our region. Especially if they are welcome by the peoples of host countries.
But we must not forget that we all have houses of glass…….

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum