Category Archives: History

Historical Hints of the Magi: Was Zarathustra Sagte……….

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“Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions. It was founded by the Prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) in ancient Iran approximately 3500 years ago. For 1000 years Zoroastrianism was one of the most powerful religions in the world. It was the official religion of Persia (Iran) from 600 BCE to 650 CE. It is now one of the world’s smallest religions………… Zoroastrians believe there is one God called Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord) and He created the world. Zoroastrians are not fire-worshippers, as some Westerners wrongly believe. Zoroastrians believe that the elements are pure and that fire represents God’s light or wisdom. Ahura Mazda revealed the truth through the Prophet, Zoroaster. Zoroastrians traditionally pray several times a day. Zoroastrians worship communally in a Fire Temple or Agiary. The Zoroastrian book of Holy Scriptures is called The Avesta…………….”

Arabs traditionally called them Majous (as in the Westernized Magi), probably after their priests, especially in the early years of the Muslim conquest. The conversion to Islam started under the second Caliph Omar I whose dedicated free-spirited desert fighters defeated the Sassanid (or Sasanian) dynasty surprisingly easily.
Because of their traditional symbolic fire rituals, Arabs and others have simplistically held throughout history that Zoroastrians were “fire worshippers”. That is equivalent to claiming Catholics worship statues or gargoyles (as in Notre Dame de Paris and other places).

During periods of regional political tension some Arabs, usually Salafi extremists on the Gulf, still call all Iranians, even the Muslims among them, Majous. They are a recognized but historically discouraged religion in theocratic Iran, and like Jews they hold one seat in Parliament. Nowadays especially the term is used quite frequently politically in Salafi ethnic propaganda campaigns and in social media, sometimes referring also to Shi’as, including many Arab Shi’as who don’t even speak Persian. Overlooking the fact that pre-Islamic Peninsula Arabs were mostly free pagans who worshiped chosen idols, and that ancient Egyptians worshiped their incestuous kings (Pharaohs) who usually married their own sisters.

Some aspects of their ancient religion are intriguing:
It is monotheistic (one supreme God-creator; one symbolic evil) – they worship several times a day – they have a book of Holy Scriptures (Avesta) – their God conveyed the truth to an ethnic Prophet (Zoroaster or Zarathustra), who was Persian rather than the usual Semite (Jewish or Arab)……..
Hint, hint, hint…………

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

Cross My Heart on Barbary Coast: the Fourth Western Liberation of Libya?……..

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Libya, or some version of it, used to be a Roman province way back when. It was liberated by Arab Muslims in the seventh century AD, along with Egypt and the rest of North Africa. Ever since, Europeans have been trying to get back in, not just into Libya, but also the rest of North Africa (the Arab Maghreb). Come to think of it, Europeans have been trying to get into any vacuum to the south of their continent. The Americans were also forced to get involved during the early years of the Republic, under John Adams and Jefferson. During the wilder days of Barbary Coast (not the one in San Francisco, the one in North Africa). Hence the U.S. Marines on the “Shores of Tripoli“.

1911: Italy invaded Libya with with a view to expanding her African “empire”, like the French and British. Benito Mussolini later became dictator of Italy. He had read somewhere that Libya used to be a Roman province. He escalated the fight against the natives in order to secure the occupation, killing many thousands. During WWII, the Germans also entered the place in support of their Italian allies against the British who were entrenched in Egypt.

1943: The Western Allies liberated Libya from the Axis forces in 1943. But they stayed on for a while until invited by Colonel Gaddafi to leave after 1969.

2011: The Western allies, NATO, in conjunction with French pop-philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy and David Cameron and Gaddafi’s old pal Tony Blair and Joe Liberman, liberated Libya once again. They took it from Colonel Gaddafi and his family, handed it to the disparate militias and Jihadists who control so much of it now. Remember the Republican political battle cry of recent years “Benghazi, Benghazi“?

2015: NATO and Arab leaders are hankering to liberate Libya again. Especially now that it is being threatened by the ISIS Salafi cutthroats. Will Libya be liberated one more time by the West? Will that be the last time, absolutely the last liberation of Libya, cross my heart and hope to die?

(FYI: Arab leaders can’t liberate Libya or any other place, mainly because you’ve got to have something in order to give it to others).

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Quagmire: Will Saudis Invite Egyptians into Yemen? Will Iranians get Bogged Down?…….

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Yemen 1962: some military officers staged a coup d’etat against the royal family, the Imamate of Hameediddeen. The new Imam Badr sought refuge in Saudi Arabia. A civil war ensued in Yemen, with some Saudi-supported tribes rising against the new regime, and leftist Egypt under Nasser siding with the officers. Saudis and Jordanians supported the tribes. Egypt sent thousands of troops to Yemen to help the Republican regime. It was a quagmire for the Egyptians, a quagmire the Saudis made sure would make Nasser suffer. Nobody really won that long civil war, and in the end they reached a compromise. The Egyptians left Yemen, but they faced a more difficult and tougher enemy in June 1967.

Yemen 2009: The Saudis briefly forgot their own lesson from the 1960s. They intervened in North Yemen against the Houthis. The best Western weapons that money could buy were essentially defeated by lightly-armed Houthis.

Yemen 2015: during 2014 the Houthis swarmed from their northern stronghold and easily defeated the corrupt Yemeni establishment that was set up and supported by the Gulf GCC, with UN blessing. More recently they have sidelined the president Hadi Al Zombie and the parliament and established new institutions. Now the Gulf GCC are making some political noises. There have even been hints at intervention by GCC. That would be interesting: would they send their imported foreign mercenaries into Yemen? How big a defeat would the Houthis inflict on them? Would the Gulf potentates align with the secessionists (former Marxists) in South Yemen? Would they kiss and make up with their AQAP (Al Qaeda) kin against a common enemy?

Recently, Egyptian media and some Egyptian officials have also been making warning noises about Yemen, in conjunction with GCC complaints about the Houthis. Their worry about possible Iranian inroads is understandable. It is unlikely that the Egyptians are thinking of re-entering Yemen. If they do, it is unlikely that the results would be better than in the 1960s. The Iranians themselves would be making Egyptian-like mistakes if they actually get deeper into Yemen. It would be the first Iranian intervention in Yemen in fifteen centuries, and it would be a big mistake. Yemen has always made a nice quagmire for foreigners.

Regardless of media fear-mongering, nobody is going to close the Bab El-Mandab Strait of the Red Sea, anymore than anybody will close the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. So just leave Yemen for the Yemenis to fight over: it is much safer and cheaper that way. Everybody else, from Iranians to Saudis to Qataris to Egyptians, stay out.
Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Human Rights: Building the Pyramids of Doha and FIFA without Moses………

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KuwaitCox2     ChristmasPeanuts

Have Yourself a Merry Little——-> Kenny G. Holiday 

“Nepalese migrants building the infrastructure to host the 2022 World Cup have died at a rate of one every two days in 2014 – despite Qatar’s promises to improve their working conditions, the Guardian has learned. The figure excludes deaths of Indian, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi workers, raising fears that if fatalities among all migrants were taken into account the toll would almost certainly be more than one a day. Qatar had vowed to reform the industry after the Guardian exposed the desperate plight of many of its migrant workers last year. The government commissioned an investigation by the international law firm DLA Piper and promised to implement recommendations listed in a report published in May. But human rights organisations have accused Qatar of dragging its feet………….”

If you have seen the old Ten Commandments films of Cecil B. DeMille, either one of them, you’d recognize something here. That was when Charlton Heston rebelled on behalf of the Jewish slaves who were building the Pharaoh’s (Yul Brenner) tomb. The slaves were ancient Jews, including Edward G. Robinson who probably looked ancient at birth, instead of Nepalese, Bengalis, and other South Asians. Many of them died on the job, at least in the Hollywood version of the story. Ditto for the most recent version featuring Big Moses and Little Yahweh.

Now back to earth and our current age. If the figure of one dead every two days is accurate that is suspiciously excessive, to grossly understate the tragedy. And it is only for one nationality of migrant workers, one of several. A crime either by negligence or callousness toward the value of certain lives. With temperatures in the forties Centigrade and in the 120’s Fahrenheit, labor should be curtailed, especially at daytime. Not that the evenings are that much cooler in summer on My Gulf (I bet you didn’t know it is mine and not some king’s or potentate’s).

FYI: there is no Moses on the Persian Gulf, nor is there likely to be one anytime soon. These are not captive forced labor, not until they land in the host country. Besides, if there were a Moses, some Pharaoh would buy him off. If they can buy off governments of big democratic world powers like Britain and France, they can buy off almost anyone.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Censoring the Exodus: Big Moses and Little Yahweh…………

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KuwaitCox2     ChristmasPeanuts

Have Yourself a Merry Little——-> Kenny G. Holiday 

Yesterday I saw the new Exodus film (Exodus: Gods and Kings) at the local complex. I saw the Imax 3D version. Quite different from the two older versions of the story of Moses, including the second Cecil B. DeMille one with Charlton Heston. The basic outlines of the story are the same; that we’ve all read in the Quran and the Bible. The special effects were superior, of course, but probably not superior to the, er, real ancient exodus? The main ‘Egyptian’ characters in the film did not look very ancient-Egyptian, most of them looked more ancient Jewish or Italian. The masses of Jewish slaves in the film looked more Mexican or Yemeni.

One more interesting aspect of the film. God, or Yahweh, is depicted as a little boy. He looks a lot like The Boy in Striped Pajamas, but cleaner and healthier.

I am certain this film will not be seen in theatres in Egypt or in any other Arab country. Once there may have been a remote possibility such film might be seen in parts of Beirut and Tunis, but that is not possible now. The older DeMille version was never allowed in any theatre in the region. Partly because in most Arab countries impersonating a prophet is not allowed: Salafis severely frown upon even the impersonation of people close to the Prophet (the Sahaba who were just ordinary folks with no holiness about them). Another important reason has to do with perceived modern political implications for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although every Muslim school kid reads the story of Moses and the Exodus in the Quran.

Besides, we can’t have a film showing a bunch of Jewish slaves beating Egyptians, although the Egyptians of those times were pagan king-worshiping sister-marrying types, and were not even Arabs. Bad enough they have been beating on Egyptians and other Arabs, and handily, for sixty-six years now (with one exception in Lebanon and we know who that exception is).

Ours is an extremely sensitive region. Sensitive in some respects but not towards repression and official violence, from Bahrain to Egypt. Other films deemed “sensitive” have been banned in the past, even some that were reportedly filmed in Arab countries. Like Lawrence of Arabia and Cleopatra. Cleopatra? WTF……………..
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

ISIS Economics: Islamist Money with Ancient Heathen Names, Shekel 3.0………

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“Islamic State says its leader has ordered that the organisation start minting gold, silver and copper coins for its own currency, the Islamic dinar. A website affiliated with the militant group said late on Thursday that its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had instructed his followers to start minting the coins to “change the tyrannical monetary system” modelled on western economies that had “enslaved Muslims”. The posting says the order was approved by the group’s shura council, an advisory board………….”


A state is not a state without some monetary unit that acts as a medium of exchange and a store of value (this last one is not completely a joke now). Even a Caliphate needs currency. Even an ersatz Caliphate like the Wahhabi one that has sprouted up for now in Iraq and Syria. So they try to go back in history and pick currency names that are supposed to be “Islamic”. But they are not Islamic. The early Muslims just used the ancient names available from heathen countries.

The Jihadis of this Mosul Caliphate don’t realize, or maybe they choose to ignore, that their minted currency carries coin names from ancient heathen societies. Mainly ancient Rome and Greece and Spain:

  • Dinar: Denarius (plural: Denarii) was the currency of Roman Republic from long before Christ, long before Caesar.
  • Dirham: Drachma (Draxma) was the currency of Greece before the Euro. It was the Greek currency in ancient times as well.
  • Riyal or Rial is almost certainly derived from Spanish ‘Real” meaning Royal. the “Real” was also the old Spanish currency. Of course the Iranian base currency is also the Rial, but I’m not suggesting a currency union with the mullahs.
  • As for the “fils“, I have no idea WTF it derives from. Maybe from the Arabic word Muflis, meaning broke or bankrupt. Which would be appropriate for this word.
  • At one time not so long ago the Gulf countries used the Indian Rupee as their currency. After Indian independence, a special Gulf Rupee was issued in India just for the Persian Gulf states.

How about picking something from the Old Testament, which Islam agrees with on most things? How about the Shekel? I once suggested in one of my older posts to the GCC they might consider the Shekel (they can call it Shekel 3.0). That was when they were seriously talking about a currency union. It is unlikely to happen now (the union not just the Shekel adoption).
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

U.S. Senate Love Affair with Muslims: Bombing Burma and a New Crusade…….

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I read that President Obama will visit Burma (a k a Myanmar) this week to reward the clinging military regime for offering a good spin in talking a democratic line.

I also read that Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, like the broken LP records of the U.S. Senate, are again calling for launching new invasions of and attacks on Muslim countries. Many senators of both parties agree with them, so long as the targets are Muslims: after all, how many Muslim voters do McCain and Graham have in their states? Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, African Sahel, possibly a couple others. And they are always seeking to set the ground for the Mother of All Middle East Wars, against Iran if they can swing it. Always on Muslim countries.
Nobody credible ever proposed attacking the Soviet Union even during the Hungarian or Czech or Cuban crises. Douglas MacArthur was fired for proposing a possible counterattack on China. Nobody seriously proposed attacking Nazi Germany until after Hitler, in a moment of monumental but characteristic stupidity, declared war on the USA. Nobody has even seriously proposed defanging Kim Jong Un, not even the perennial chickenhawk John Bolton. But they all want to bomb more Muslim countries.

So, perhaps, maybe, could be the Western powers need to take a breather, lay off their Muslim wars. Even if they think they are well-meaning and have lofty ideals, which most “natives” don’t think they do. Many Muslims, especially Arabs, quietly and loudly think of all this as a new Crusade aimed at getting Western hands on their petroleum or at helping maintain Israeli strategic supremacy. And not just Al Qaeda and other Wahhabis or Ayatollahs or the few remaining leftist types.

So, why not Burma, par exemple? Why is Burma never bombed, even as it has opened Nazi-style concentration camps for some of its ‘ethnic’ people like the Rohingya Muslims? Go for it, make history, just for once in this century to bomb some country that is neither Muslim nor Arab, for a change…………

(Someone suggested that maybe this should be AFTER they take care of the Caliphate of ISIS).

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Pop-History: Ibn Saud in Yemen…………..

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“Three armies of Wahabi Arabs, sent forth by Ibn Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, advanced last week through the mountain passes of Yemen Arabia, converging on Sana, the walled white mountain capital of Yemen One moved eastward, from the Red Sea port of Hodeida that Ibn Saud’s men captured last fortnight. One moved westward from the great central desert toward Sana. The third drove down from the border bandit land of Nejram on Sada key city to Sana. They came in armored cars, in camel corps and on horseback. And behind them able Ibn Saud solidified their gains by cutting the customs duties at Hodeida 50% last week. . Hard-pressed indeed was their prey, Yahya ibn Hamid-ed-Din, Imam Yemen scion of Mohammed’s daughter Fatima’ and her husband Ali the fourth Caliph. He wanted to treat with Ibn Saud but his eldest son, the Emir el Hadi Mohammed Seif al Islam, suspicious and arrogant as his father but not so wise, is jealous of Ibn Saud’s great prestige. Emir called for war, for more war, for the Imam’s abdication in his favor. While the son launched guerrilla raids on Ibn Saud’s supply trains in the hills, the compact crinkle-bearded old man scrambled up into Sana, city of 40,000, and squatted in his throne room where the only ornament on the dark blue walls is his own scimitar. Refusing to abdicate, he set about rallying his black, wiry, citizens for the defense of Sana. Suddenly at week’s end frugal Yahya put his troublesome son behind him and sued for peace. Ibn Saud nailed home his conditions and declared an armistice. Hungrily his three armies halted in their tracks outside Sana…………..”

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum


m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

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

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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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………


Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Gosh, Al Sisi! Comparing the Generalisimo to Caesar and Jefferson and Steinbeck……..

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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“No longer tainted as a former general who ousted Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mr. Sisi was finally recognized by the international community as a respected statesman and regional leader, Egyptian commentators say. Mr. Sisi even “changed the way presidents make speeches at the United Nations,” the talk show host Amr Adeeb proclaimed, showing a video clip of Mr. Sisi ending his speech late last month by chanting his nationalist campaign slogan. “Long Live Egypt!” Mr. Sisi said to what Egyptian viewers saw as raucous applause from the assembled world leaders. “A thing of genius,” Mr. Adeeb declared, suggesting the assembly had consecrated a marriage. “Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was the groom of the United Nations, and Egypt was the bride.”……………..”

Gosh, what a gushing article in the New York Times. Cute and breathtaking: you’d think the Times writer (David D. Kirkpatrick) was a teenage girl and Al Sisi was Justin Bieber or One Direction.

Rarely do I see so much bullshit packed into one article in a major reputable American newspaper. This ‘Professor Fahmy’ of the American University at Cairo he mentions here is apparently typical of many academics in the stagnant Egypt of the past four decades. Perhaps most of them, he is a “kisser”, and don’t ask “kisser of what”. It doesn’t matter as long as it is in power. They did it to Mubarak and his cronies for decades, and now they are joining the cult of Kim Jong Al Sisi.

The man was “elected” with the usual Arab 97+% of the vote, under the guns of army tanks. Only the sort-of-president of Yemen Hadi Al Zombie outvoted him with 99.8% of the vote in 2012, but that was through a Qatari-Saudi-UAE organized transfer of power. Al Sisi had one hapless opponent, almost acting as a shill, and the voter turnout was  reported by critics to have ranged between single digits or at best in the low twenties.

As for comparing Al Sisi to Nasser, it is equivalent to comparing Pope Alexander Borgia to St. Peter. Like comparing some Saudi prince or king  to one of the early Caliphs. Like comparing Ted Cruz to Abraham Lincoln or Thomas Jefferson. Like comparing Sarah Palin, with or without the proverbial lipstick, to Jeanne d’Arc. Like comparing one of these cheap N Y Times or Amazon bestseller thriller novelists to Steinbeck or Stendhal. I can go on, apparently……..

Had he ever been in a war, in any capacity, they’d probably compare him to Bonaparte (Ante-Waterloo) and Eisenhower and Zhukov. I forgot Julius Caesar who ruled Egypt for six centuries after his death.

End of this rant……….
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com