Category Archives: GCC

Shirin Ebadi on Obama and Bahrain……….

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“The Obama administration is making a major misstep by “closing its eyes” to the violent government crackdown on protesters in Bahrain and leaving the door open for Iran to influence the small oil-producing nation and U.S. ally, Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi said Friday. “In the absence of the West in Bahrain, the government of Iran can of course influence and exploit the revolution,” Ebadi, the Iranian-born human rights activist, author and former judge who has been living in exile since 2009, said in an interview at The Washington Post. Ebadi highlighted Sunni-led Bahrain, which is a majority-Shiite nation like Iran that has used violence to stop recent protests…….

I bet not a single media outlet in the Persian-American Gulf will ever carry this news item. They always headline Shirin Ebadi’s comments against the Iranian regime, and rightly so. Not single newspaper “anywhere” on the Gulf will carry this news item.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Salafis for a Gulf Confederacy of Dunces…….

     
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These days there are more examples of trashy Salafi analysis making a case for a GCC Gulf confederation under the control of the al-Saud brothers. There are other examples, most of them by the same writer whom I have linked here. He is almost obsessive-compulsive about it, the way Salafis are usually obsessive-compulsive about bodily functions.
There have been several others pieces, mainly from writers and a couple of academics who are more like fifth columnists in the smaller Gulf states. The analysis is shallow, the logic nonexistent, the writing at near high-school level, possibly even worse than my own writings in this blog. I never had much faith in most of our writers and so-called ‘opinion’ makers in the Gulf. These days whatever little faith I had has almost gone with the wind. Gulf media, especially in my hometown, has truly gone downhill in recent years. Saudi media, especially the offshore ones like Asharq Alawsat and Alhayat, I must admit, is better produced than some others and more slick, but it delivers merely the same trash in nicer packaging. A pig with lipstick still smells like a pig. And some of the writers tend to be better. They spend more money on it, but the smell seeps through the nice packaging. Don’t bother to read them, just take my word for it!
Not surprisingly the rump Bahrain “parliament”, after the resignation and/or arrest of representatives of most of the people of Bahrain, voted to approve a confederation with the al-Saud brothers. That so-called parliament, the ‘elected’ half, is composed of Salafis and fundamentalists and palace retainers who owe their seats not to the people but to the al-Khalifa clan. They won their seats to offset the vote of the majority of the people through gerrymandering and rigging the results. They are truly grateful to the al-Khalifa clan who ‘appointed’ them to this fake parliament, and to the al-Saud brothers who will keep them in office. In fact, I have no doubt they got their order for this vote from Riyadh, via the al-Khalifa viceroy.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

A Gulf Proclamation: a List of Honor, a List of Shame………..

     
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A group of political activists, human rights activists, academics and opinion-makers in the Gulf GCC countries have issued a proclamation asking for: (a) release of political prisoners in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Oman- (b) an end to arrests and torture by Gulf regimes- (c) stopping the use of sectarianism to divide the peoples of the region- initiating political and economic reforms., amomg other needed steps.
I know some of the names on the list of signers, and they are respectable activists and political people and academics (most others I have never heard of). Many of the Saudi prisoners have been held for fifteen years WITHOUT TRIAL.

The contemptible ones: those are the ‘respectable’ ones, which brings me to the subject of the “others”, the not so respectable ones. What is interesting is not who signed this proclamation. It is who did not sign it. There are many known faces and names, academics and journalists and opinion-makers who did not sign it. These are mostly the ‘palace’ academics and journalists and opinion-makers, and there are so many of them on my (Persian-American) Gulf. The vast Saudi media (I can never over-estimate how vast it is; some day I shall list it all) and the nascent official and semi-official UAE media have first claim on many of these. These are the ones who spend a lot of time and “ink” and paper either denying or justifying oppression and midnight raids and mass arrests and torture and sectarianism across my Gulf. Many of them belong on a list of shame.
This proclamation has made the news, but mainly on the Internet or in non-Gulf media. I have not seen any reference to this proclamation in any ’mainstream’ GCC Gulf media, not even in the two GCC countries that are not listed among the oppressive torturer regimes. Not even in my hometown. At least I could not see any when I searched last night.
Which makes me think of yet another list.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

The Only Brave Man in Riyadh: I Protest, Therefore I Am………….

     
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Officials of the General Investigations Department (al-mabahith al-‘amma), the domestic intelligence service, arrested al-Majid at his school in Khobar, in the Eastern Province. At the same time, mabahith officers searched his house in the presence of his wife and children, who said that officers confiscated al-Majid’s personal belongings. Al-Majid had written an article entitled “I Protest, Therefore I Am” on April 2,….. Several user groups on Facebook had called for protests on a Saudi Day of Anger on March 11, but a heavy security presence prevented demonstrations in all but the Eastern Province. In Riyadh, Khalid al-Juhani, a Saudi citizen, appeared to be the sole person to brave the security presence to speak to assembled journalists. In an interview with the BBC, al-Juhani described how he lost his fear and despite knowing he would be arrested wanted to experience the freedom of speaking his mind. Al-Juhani’s brother, Abdullah, told Human Rights Watch that mabahith officers arrested al-Juhani at his home later that day and that Interior Ministry officials told his family that he is being detained incommunicado in Riyadh’s ‘Ulaisha intelligence prison………..”

Al-Majid was brave, maybe the bravest in al-Khobar. But the bravest of all is Khaled al-Johany who stood alone in the middle of Riyadh and talked openly about his country being a big prison. Reports say that not another man joined him; such is the atmosphere of fear in Riyadh. Before the day ended, they had caught him: he was in a smaller prison within the big prison, and nobody has heard any news from or about him. In the kingdom without magic.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Fifth Columns in the Gulf: Iranian Threat, Saudi Threat……….

     
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For some years now, it has been perceived by many that the only threat to the Gulf states, the GCC, came from Iran. Iran is a large strong country that is quite militarized and it has been expanding its sphere of influence well beyond the Gulf and the Shatt al-Arab in recent years. It also has an ancient history of domination of the region up to the Mediterranean Sea and into Egypt. Political changes in Iraq after the fall of the Ba’ath regime amplified the notion of a modern Iranian threat. The defeat of the Israeli invasions of Lebanon by Hezbollah in 2000 and 2006 also amplified this Iranian threat around the Gulf, given that Hezbollah depends on Iranian money and weapons.
The Saudi government has focused on the Iranian threat since at least 2005. By that time the Saudis had acquired and built the largest media empire anywhere in Europe and the Middle East: newspapers, satellite television channels, magazines, and general entertainment outlets, Only Aljazeera stood as the competition to Saudi domination of Arab media. Alarabiya, Asharq Alawsat, al-Hayat, ART, LBC, MBC, Rotana, etc, etc: these are all Saudi owned, either by princes or their relatives, and hence they are all official or semi-official media.

In the past few years the vast Saudi media started to amplify the “Iranian threat”. So far so good: that is fair enough among governments and nations. It also started to do some serious sectarian “Shi’a-baiting”, slowly at first but gathering speed after 2006. Soon they were all but accusing the local native Shi’as of their Eastern Province of being a fifth column (in their own native territory that preceded the arrival of the Saudi invaders from Najd). They were joined in that by allies from among the Arab despots such as Mubarak and King Abdul of Jordan. Mubarak’s state security started to uncover “Shi’a cells” dedicated to converting Egyptians. King Abdul of Jordan reportedly established a special branch of his security services dedicated to hunting down Shi’as bent on spreading their “faith”. I suspect all this was to keep the al-Saud and their Wahhabi clerics happy.
Not that the Iranians could not have been a threat. A huge militarized country like Iran can always pose a threat to its smaller “neighbors” under certain circumstances. If one chooses to disregard the huge American navy and other Western forces controlling the Gulf.

Then came the Arab revolutions which spread eastward and into Bahrain, an island that practices its own version of Apartheid. Before Bahrain, the al-Saud and their fundamentalist Salafi agents have been for some years trying to disrupt and sabotage the political process in another member country of the GCC. There is no political process in Saudi Arabia. The Bahrain uprising and the Saudi incursion divided the Gulf region deeper along sectarian lines, and much of the blame for that goes to the Saudi and official Bahraini media and their agents in another Gulf state. The goal has been to scare people and throw them into the lap of the Saudis: an old game often played by nations. And to kill the Arab Spring on the shores of the Gulf, in the bloodied streets of Manama and the villages of Bahrain.

Now a combination of seeing the tanks rolling easily into Bahrain and calls by Saudi Salafi surrogates for a Gulf “confederation” under Saudi control is giving some Gulf people second thoughts. Some people, hopefully enough people. The tanks rolled into Bahrain, and I don’t expect them to leave any time soon, if ever. These two factors have also reminded some people of just how the Arabian Peninsula came to be named after a family, Saudi Arabia. Old Ibn Saud started by re-entering Najd, in central Arabia, with money from a smaller Gulf state in the north, took Riyadh, then continued to conquer Hijaz and al-Hasa and Aseer, etc, etc. They even tried at one point to conquer the country that provided them with seed money to start with, using the Ikhan “militia”.

These recent events and the not too distant history have awakened some Gulf people to one important fact: it is much easier and faster for a land neighbor to send in the tanks than for a force to cross the Gulf. It has also made others aware of another likely fact: if there is a Gulf fifth column with divided loyalties, it is most likely not the Shi’as looking toward Iran, but the Salafis and their “allies” looking back toward Saudi Arabia. Maybe the al-Saud have overplayed their hand again.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

A Suspicious Saudi Confederation on my Gulf…………

        
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The Saudis are beginning to push the idea of a “GCC confederation” again. This time the push is directly from Saudi media (which is all official and semi-official, unless the publisher is in exile). This writer in Saudi daily al-Riyadh is making it sound urgent to establish the al-Saud hegemony over the smaller states of my Gulf, in preparation to swallowing them into the Kingdom without Magic.

As I wrote last week, the idea has been floating around the Gulf states in recent months, and it is being revived these days. Pro-Saudi Salafis and a handful of pro-Saudi media writers (some of them most likely surrogates encouraged or funded from Riyadh) are calling for a ‘confederation’ of the GCC Gulf states. One irresponsible columnist even called for a “quick confederation”, and he was covered extensively and gleefully by Saudi media. None of these worthies advises seeking people’s consent through referendums, or a vote on the issue: such is the state of watermelon opinion-makers on my Gulf. The potentates are seen as owning the countries to do with whatever they wish. One or two have become obsessive compulsive about it, repeating this frequently. They use fear of Iran as a factor, as well as stoking suspicion and fear of local Shi’as (minorities in all the GCC except Bahrain). The pro-Saudi tweeters (or possibly Saudi agents) are also pushing this idea.

I opined last year that it will not get anywhere. The Gulf states range politically from an absolute monarchy system to a partial democracy (I am not including Bahrain among the latter). The Saudis may think that this will solve the problem of pressures for democracy and accountability. A solidly despotic regime on the Saudi mold would be a strong front against Western and Arab pressures for openness, they probably think. It would also bring all other GCC states down to the Saudi and Bahraini levels in the treatment of their minority Shi’a (Shi’ites). That last point is very important for the Wahhabi Kingdom without Magic. For the Salafis around the Gulf it would mean that all GCC states become socially Saudi-like: more power for the clergy, no social reforms, women safely kept at home. And no politics: absofuckinglutely no politics! Salafis would gain more ‘political’ power as their patron regime, the Saudis, would dominate the new confederation as a prelude to swallowing it.

One early serious problem with such a scheme is that the rulers of the smaller states are not as stupid as the Salafis and Saudi surrogates in their countries think. They are all protective of their own turf and would never accept such a plan, although one or two media outlets may pay lip service to it. The al-Nahayan of the UAE are almost as autocratic as the al-Saud and would never give up one iota of power to their own people or to foreigners. As for Oman, it has always had little real interest in any form of integration, always looking across the Persian-American Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Then there are the peoples of our region who value their independence and way of life, in spite of all the media noise that hint at the sun actually shining out of the ass of some Saudi prince or another. In other words, such a plan is not only impractical, but dangerous for the peoples of the Gulf states. It is DOA. Only the al-Khalifa of Bahrain may agree to such a hegemony, but then any regime that invites occupation and torments its own people would go far to cling to absolute power. br>
Therefore, I repeat my recent fatwa that this plan is a hair-brained scheme or, as we would say on the Gulf, “مشروع بطيخ” a watermelon scheme.

Cheers
mhg

A Confederation of Fifth Columns in the Gulf States………….

        
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An idea has been floated around the Gulf states in recent months, and it is being revived these days. Pro-Saudi Salafis and a handful of pro-Saudi media writers (some of them possibly encouraged or funded from Riyadh) are calling for a ‘confederation’ of the GCC Gulf states. One irresponsible columnist even called for a “quick confederation”, and he was covered extensively and gleefully by Saudi media. None of these worthies mentions anything about peoples’ opinions, referendums, or a vote on the issue: such is the state of watermelon opinion-makers on my Gulf. One or two have become obsessive compulsive about it, repeating this frequently. They raise and use fear of Iran as a factor, as well as stoking suspicion and fear of local Shi’as (minorities in all the GCC except Bahrain).
 
I wrote about this last year and noted that such a confederation would be based on the least common factors among the members, the worst common traits. I also opined that it will not get anywhere (i.e. forgetaboutit). The Gulf states range politically from an absolute monarchy system to a partial democracy (I am not including Bahrain among the latter). For the Saudis, they may think that this will solve the problem of pressures for democracy and accountability. A solidly despotic regional regime on the Saudi mold would represent a strong front against Western and Arab pressures for openness, they probably think. It would also probably bring all other GCC states down to the Saudi and Bahraini levels in the treatment of their minority Shi’a (Shi’ites). That last point is very important for the Wahhabi Kingdom without Magic. For the Salafis around the Gulf it would mean that all GCC states become socially Saudi-like: more power for the clergy, no social reforms, women mostly kept at home, preferably. And no politics: absofuckinglutely no politics! Salafis would also gain more ‘political’ power as their patron regime, the Saudis, would dominate the new confederation as a prelude to swollowing it.

One early serious problem with such a scheme is that the rulers of the smaller states are not stupid, at least not as stupid as the Salafis and Saudi fifth columnists in their countries think. They are all jealous of their own turf and would never accept such a plan, although one or two media outlets may pay lip service to it. The al-Nahayan of the UAE are almost as autocratic as the al-Saud and would never give up one iota of power to their own people or to foreigners. As for Oman, it has always had little real interest in any form of integration, always looking across the Persian-American Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
 
Then there are the peoples of our region who value their independence and way of life, in spite of all the media noise that hint at the sun actually shining out of the ass of some Saudi prince (remember: Saddam was the supposed source of our sun years ago). In other words, such a plan is not only silly, but dangerous for the peoples of the Gulf states. It is DOA. Only the al-Khalifa of Bahrain may agree to such a hegemony: any regime that invites occupation and torments its own people would do anything to cling to absolute power. Anything.

Therefore, my fatwa is that such a scheme is hair-brained scheme or, as we would say on the Gulf, “مشروع بطيخ” a watermelon scheme.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Qaddafi Tanks, Saudi Tanks, Ba’athist Tanks ………

        

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The council of ministers has confirmed that it has answered a request by Bahrain for support, Riyadh said in a statement carried by SPA state news agency……
Sounds so much like the statement aired on Baghdad Radio when Kuwait was invaded……

Gaddafi tanks reach centre of Zuwarah, west of Tripoli….. Alarabiya (Saudi)

“Saudi tanks reach Manama, capital of Bahrain…” Me (and news agencies)
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com