Category Archives: Iran

Long Live! Arab Rules of Succession from Saddam in Iraq to Jordan, Syria, and now Saudi Arabia……

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“King Salman of Saudi Arabia promoted his 31-year-old King Salman of Saudi Arabia promoted his 31-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman, to be next in line to the throne on Wednesday……As defense minister, he also had primary responsibility for the kingdom’s military intervention in Yemen, where it is leading a coalition of Arab allies in a bombing campaign aimed at pushing Houthi rebels from the capital and at restoring the government. That campaign has made limited progress in more than two years, and human rights groups have accused the Saudis of bombing civilians, destroying the economy of what was already the Arab world’s poorest country, and exacerbating a humanitarian crisis by imposing air and sea blockades.Prince Mohammed has taken a hard line on Iran……….”  N Y Times

Arab kings, potentates, oligarchs, and assorted dictators have often preferred their sons (or other kin) to succeed them.

King Hussein of Jordan had his brother Prince Hassan as his crown prince for many decades. That was how the ruling Hashemite family had decided when young Hussein took the throne. But when Hussein felt his mortality approaching in the 1990s, he dumped his brother in favor of his eldest son Abdullah (from his British wife).
But there was a catch: King Hussein stipulated that his other son Hamza, from his American wife Lisa Halaby, become crown prince. This did not last long after Abdullah took the throne: he soon sidelined his half brother Hamza and appointed one of his sons as crown prince.

Hafez Al Assad (the not-king) of Syria had allegedly set his eldest flamboyant son Basil to succeed him. Basil died in a car accident, and Bashar, being trained as an eye doctor in London, was brought home to learn the ropes. The rest is history.

The most relevant to the events of today in Riyadh occurred in Baghdad in 1979. Perhaps a few years before. Vice President Saddam Hussein became the real power behind the Baath rule of his cousin Al Bakr from the early 1970s.. In 1979 he staged his own palace coup, forcing Al Bakr into retirement. Al Bakr and many of his close associates died soon after, in the usual Iraqi Baathist fashion.

Even more relevant to the recent Saudi events, Saddam was facing rebellion and discontent from minorities inside Iraq. Similarly, he was contemplating what to do about his revolutionary neighbors next door in Iran. Saddam also had the support of most Western powers and most Arab oligarchs (with the exception of Syria, some Palestinian factions, Libya, and Algeria).

About one year  after taking power, Saddam saw messy revolutionary factional Iran as an easy target to help him consolidate his power over the region. He invaded Iran without having first read the history of the German Operation Barbarossa that started in 1941. He got bogged down in Iran for eight years, lost some territory, was forced by a stalemate to sue for peace. His country ended the war bankrupt and deeply in debt to the tune of almost $200 billion (I had estimated in a paper that Iraq enjoyed tens of billions of foreign reserves before that war).

That was the beginning of the end for Saddam and the old order in Iraq. He invaded Kuwait to regain his financial losses, and thus eventually finished his bloody career hiding inside a hole near Baghdad. Before he was tried for three years and hanged.

Now we have a young man rise to power in Saudi Arabia. He has managed to push every rival aside, just like Saddam Hussein did in Iraq in the 1970s. He has also started a messy unending war in Yemen. Two and a half years of bombings by Saudi warplanes, with American and British help, have killed many thousands of civilians in Yemen and destroyed its infrastructure. Genocide with lipstick is still genocide.

With failures in Yemen and Syria under his belt, the new Saudi prince in power is looking across the Persian Gulf for a new adventure. Apparently being egged on by the greed and reckless rhetoric of Donald Trump and some paid American journalists and think tanks, he is talking of taking a war into Iran. Even as his own country, the most-expensively armed in the region, is bleeding in Yemen against lightly-armed Houthis and Saleh allies. He is also targeting his former ally Qatar with an economic blockade. He might even threaten other GCC members in due time.

Can this prince see the light and avoid another war he expects the Americans to help him wage?

Saddam Hussein is dead, but modern day Arabs often tend to repeat the worst of past mistakes. Already some approved writers in Saudi media are shouting: Saddam is dead, long live Saddam.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

A Farce in Riyadh: Can Trump’s Greed Buy the Princes a Gulf Sectarian War that Bush and Obama Rejected?……

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There will be another farce going on in Riyadh this weekend…..

Saudi Arabia has mostly given up on the Arab World. They have tried over the past few years to form various military (and political) alliances with different Arab states, to no avail. They almost always fail, even with the billions of dollars offered to those willing to take the bait.

Even the murderous dictator of Sudan, the  criminal Omar Al Bashir (wanted by ICC), had reportedly pulled out of his participation in the Yemen war, although he is now sending mercenaries again to South Yemen, for a nominal fee. The Pakistanis have refused the invitation to send troops to fight Saudi wars, as have the Egyptians. The Turks of Caliph Erdogan are the least reliable ally for anyone: they play all sides against each other, be they Saudis, Iranians, Russians, Americans, Europeans, etc. Erdogan fancies himself the heir of the Ottoman Caliphis, therefore the true leader of the Arabs. The oligarchs of Malaysia pocket the Saudi money but no troops are forthcoming. Ditto for Indonesia. The humorless King of humorless Jordan pockets the sparse Saudi money but awaits the American initiative (he knows his fellow Arab potentates are unreliable at best).

The princes have tried various iterations of an Arab alliance, an Islamic alliance, a combination of both. To no avail. Nobody wants to send their soldiers to fight in the quagmires of Yemen or Syria. Only stupid Westerners might do it, an only in the name of terrorism (and maybe the Americans in the name of reining in the Iranians). Greed also helps a lot.


So the Saudis think they may have found a way now: get America to lead a sectarian Sunni coalition to do their bidding in the Middle East and specifically in the Persian Gulf region. They realize American leaders, even Trump, may have more credibility than their princes. Mainly it would be Saudi/UAE money backing one or two more wars fought by America’s boys and girls in foreign lands. That approach was tries before and rejected under George W Bush and Barack Obama (both were much smarter than Mr. Trump).

This time the princes think they have found the American weak point: greed is the word. They think the new man in the White House is an uber capitalist, and like them he is defined mainly by GREED.
So since most Muslim and Arab leaders reject direct Saudi leadership, they can now do it through American leadership. Get the man who made Islamophobia and Arabphobia mainstream in America to lead an Islamic and Arab alliance, a sectarian alliance that serves the goals of the absolute tribal kings and princes.

But he fact is this: all Saudi deals and alliances aimed at reshaping the Middle East have failed in the past. This one will also fail. The handful of princes and dictators who will kiss Mr. Trump’s ring in Riyadh this weekend do not represent most Arabs and Muslims. They do not represent many Arabs and Muslims. They represent a very small minority.

So, my Fatwa on this latest farce in Riyadh? It will fail as well….

More on this later, as the farce in Riyadh unfolds……

Some earlier recent postings on this topic:
The Obama Doctrine….

Persian Gulf Game Theory at Camp David: Obama and State-Sponsored Terrorism….

The Arab Islamic American Summit Comes Up With a Trump Motto: Holy Art of the Deal….

Trump Visits His Wahhabi Empire: Saudis Summon Sunni Arab and Muslim Satraps and Viceroys to Riyadh….

Ignorant Abroad: is Trump Encouraging a Foolish Prince to Start a Sectarian War in the Persian Gulf?….

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Trump Visits His Wahhabi Empire: Saudis Summon Sunni Arab and Muslim Satraps and Viceroys to Riyadh……

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President Donald Trump makes his first official foreign trip later this week, and it will be to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi officials are so excited, their media are making Trump almost into the newest Muslim Caliph. They stress that he is visiting Riyadh before anywhere else, that he is some sort of a phenomenon (I agree with the last one about him being a phenomenon). For their part, jealous media of the  potentates of the rival UAE (United Arab Emirates, occasional Saudi ally) have headlined how their own strongman and crown prince will visit with Trump in Washington to ‘discuss’ issues before he flies to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis are making a Wahhabi-style hootenanny out of the Trump visit. A Veritable Spring Break invasion of the desert for their Arab and Muslim allies, would be allies, and clients. They have invited tens of Arab and Muslim leaders to attend a special meeting with Trump, where they will kiss his ring, and he will bless them all. Maybe he will cure a few among them who are blind or lame and some who are afflicted with Erectile Dysfunction among them. There will be no turning water into wine in Riyadh, he is no real Jesus. Besides Wine is frowned upon, just like fun and free speech and any other religion that is not Wahhabism.

So, the Arab and Muslim leaders have been summoned, and they will flock to Riyadh, attracted by Saudi promises of money and the delusional hope of American aid and the approval and blessings of the former American casino mogul and Fake University hustler. They don’t realize that their new prophet, a rapacious capitalist and hustler, is not in the business of helping anybody but himself, and maybe the shady dealings of his in-laws.

FYI: the Saudis have left Iran out of the invite list, and Syria as well. I am not sure about Iraq and Lebanon. They want to make it a Sunni-dominated summit, which means they will try to line up some of them against their mullah rivals across the Persian Gulf. Netanyahu would have loved to attend, but maybe another time.

Independent Arab media, those few not owned or controlled by the potentates, and the Saudi opposition abroad report that the Saudis have spent several hundred billion Riyals to get Trump to make Riyadh his first foreign stop. Reports of over $200-300 billion in U.S investments and in purchases of weapons are abound. Effectively bribing him, something they are very good at. Something they can’t really afford, and their people know it.

Some Arab media hint at a NATO-style Arab and/or Islamic alliance, although it is not clear what threat it will face. Israel? Iran? Popular demand for reform and free speech and elections and end of corruption? Variations of all those are seen as the enemy or rival by some Arab and Muslim leaders.

Trump will pocket the money, hint for his flock not to worry about human rights, say the right vague words about Israel and Palestine. Then he will launch into the main event: threats against Iran, right across the Persian Gulf. Right in front of his Arab and Muslim satraps and viceroys. The Casino Man, the Fake University hustler from 8,000 miles away threatening the Persians right on their Persian-American Gulf. Now that is chutzpah.

These earlier posts below might be relevant to this topic:
Ignorant Abroad: is Trump Encouraging a Foolish Prince to Start a Sectarian War in the Persian Gulf?……

Kissing It in Arabia: Saudis Discern a Trump ‘Axis of Adults’, or is it an ‘Axis of Kissers of Trump’s Rump’?………

 Donald Trump’s AI War: Alexa, What Should I do about Iran?…..

A Farce is Not a Joke: Saudi Arabia ‘Elected’ to UN Commission on Women……

Stay tuned for more on this…..

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Ignorant Abroad: is Trump Encouraging a Foolish Prince to Start a Sectarian War in the Persian Gulf?……..

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“Iran is Salman’s top issue. This month, Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave an interview condemning Iran in extremely harsh sectarian terms. The prince, the king’s favorite son, characterized the Iranian Islamic Republic as being driven by messianic prophecies and determined to dominate the entire Islamic community. He claimed that Iran sought to take control of Mecca from the kingdom. There was no room for dialogue with Tehran, according to his statement. Indeed, the prince promised that the kingdom will fight its war against Iran inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia. He was vague about what that means, but it suggests he supports regime change in Tehran. It was one of the most virulent public attacks on Iran ever by the House of Saud. The royal family is eager for American support against Iran in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. The Saudi leaders face a more skeptical domestic audience. The new Trump administration is widely seen by the public in the Arab world as an enemy of Islam. A poll of Saudis in November showed overwhelming support for Hillary Clinton and only 6% for Trump. There will be no demonstrations against the president in a police state……….” Al Monitor

This past week the Middle East, especially the Persian Gulf region, was pushed closer to a direct sectarian war by a spoiled young Saudi prince. He may have aroused and provoked religious passions that are hard to subdue.

He is the favorite son of Saudi Arabia’s king Salman, also his Defense Minister, Crown Prince to the Crown Prince, and Heir Apparent, among many other royal positions. Not exactly an Arab Kim Jong Un, but: he shocked the Middle East this past week by threatening to wage war on Iran. In effect the Wahhabi prince has threatened to attack Iran, start an unprovoked war. Mainly because the wily Iranians have outsmarted him in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. He is inviting them to outsmart him again, which they might do if history is any guide.

What is worse, the under-educated prince also threw in a scathing sectarian attack on the Shi’a faith itself, mocking it and its followers in general. That includes millions of Arabs and other Muslims. Something Iranian leaders never do to other Muslims or people of any other “major” faith, not even to Wahhabis, at least not in public. He is almost setting the stage for a region-wide sectarian war that he seems to believe Donald Trump will support. A foolish notion: the United States should stay out of it.

This happened soon after his visit with Donald Trump at the White House, which smells fishy to many people in the region. Some independent Arab media claim it is part of a plan hatched in Washington. Iran has only threatened to wage war if attacked or threatened first. Which makes the prince’s threats odd, given that Saudi Arabia can’t even defeat poor under-armed Yemen, even with heavy American and British logistical and intelligence support.

The Iranian strategy has been defensive for almost two centuries. They don’t have access to the sophisticated Western warplanes and the Western support personnel that the Saudis have. But then they did not have access to the fancy weapons Saddam Hussein had when he attacked them in 1980 (with Saudi help), and they won that war. They have been under an American siege of several decades; they still are, regardless of the Nuclear Deal. Their deterrence depends heavily on air defense systems and, very important, on a huge arsenal of home-made advanced missiles that can retaliate by taking the war to the enemy.
That explains their attachment to missiles, not the desire to attack Europe or North America as Netanyahu and some of the Arab potentates and their lobbyists claim to the West.


The Iranian foreign minister (Zarif) answered the Saudi prince’s threat of an aggressive war by talking calmly of a peaceful resolution. But the Iranian defense minister answered with a strong warning that no Saudi city will be safe if they attack Iran. He excluded the holy cities of Mecca and Medinah.

So if the Saudis start an air attack with their expensive American toys, expect all their royal princes and princesses to be huddled in the only safe places in the kingdom: Mecca and Medinah. An enforced terrifying version of the Umrah pilgrimage.


Question is: does anyone around Donald Trump know the kind of sectarian passions this prince has stirred? Does Trump really want to get involved in this new Wahhabi religious war? Does he know what it is all about? Are those around him foolish enough?

Ich weiss nicht…..

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

World Elections: Mother of All Germans, a French Pied-Noir, and a Persian Carpet Weaver…….

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European elections coming up. France this month will choose between Marine Le Pen, considered an anti-EU rebel, and Emmanuel Macron, the candidate of the elites and the French establishment. Britain will vote in snap parliamentary elections the Conservative Tories hope to win. German elections coming up as well, with Angela Merkel (Mother of All Germans) facing snapping opponents.

I am not sure who will win, but I have my own odds (all odds are risky given the American elections last November). But I know one thing: British, French, or German winners will all pack a suitcase at some point and head to the Middle East region. No, not to perform the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimage. Each will be eager to sell more weapons and other goodies than the other Europeans. Even the Marxist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, had he won, would also fly to Riyadh or Abu Dhabi peddling weapons and other goods. An intense rivalry among the three big European powers over Arab markets. Forget about human rights. Most European leaders are traveling salesman, although Merkel may be less of one.

Which reminds me: Iran is having its own elections for president. It looks like it could go either way. The U.S. Congress (both parties) and the Democrat bureaucrats in the Obama Administration have made sure that the economic benefits of the Nuclear Deal are minimal to the Iranian people. President Hassan Rouhani could lose the election to hardliner Mohammad Ghalibaf (his name in Persian means ‘carpet weaver‘). Either way it will be close. But don’t expect either one of these Iranians, or whoever else wins, to fly around the region selling weapons to the potentates.


Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Donald Trump’s AI War: Alexa, What Should I do about Iran?……

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I can imagine it.

Donald Trump in the Oval Office, or maybe in his official bedroom (not the real one at Mar A Lago). Rapping his fingers on the desk, finally turning to a little blinking cylinder (black or white? probably Bannon-white):

Alexa? Siri? Google? How many missiles should I fire at that empty airbase in Syria to keep the media happy? (Aside): Or maybe I can just ask the stiffs in Congress to tighten sanctions on Iran, they’d love it. They’ve been doing it on their own every month anyway. Sheldon Adelson would love it too, worth millions for 2020.

Alexa? Why is the Iranian Navy always prowling in the Persian Gulf? Why is it provoking us barely 8,000 miles from Tampa Bay? (Aside): Maybe I’ll just ask the stiffs in Congress to tighten sanctions on Iran, they’d love it. They’ve been doing it on their own every month anyway.

Alexa? What do I do about Putin? How long will the Good Cop (me) vs Bad Cop (Nikki Haley) routine last before Vladimir catches on? (Aside): Maybe I’ll just ask the stiffs in Congress to tighten sanctions on Iran, they’d love it. They’ve been doing it on their own every month anyway.

Alexa? How can I turn down another request by Netanyahu to visit the White House? By the way: what the fuck do my fellow Republican Congressmen see in this guy? I swear they seem to love him more than they love me. Love is blind.  (Aside): Maybe I’ll just ask the stiffs in Congress to tighten sanctions on Iran, they’d love it. They’ve been doing it on their own every month anyway.

Alexa? What do I do about Kim Jong Un? The ChubbtyLittleFuck is messing up my foreign policy plans. I’ve got him sanctioned up to his YouKnowWhere. Next step would be to sanction the Chinese banks and businesses that keep him going. But Ivanka and Jared tell me that is a no no. (Aside): Maybe I’ll just ask the stiffs in Congress to tighten sanctions on Iran, they’d love it. They’ve been doing it on their own every month anyway.

King Salman? Hi there, Sal. Salam Aleikom, King, I love you Muslim guys, especially the Wahhabis: my kind of Muslims. Shook hands with one greas….,er, Muslim once in Brooklyn. Sal? I’ve got a problem. Oh, no never mind Yemen. JASTA? not today. I need some advise…….
Salman:  Just ask the stiffs in Congress to tighten sanctions on the heretic Magi in Iran, they’d love it. They’ve been doing it on their own every month anyway.

Bannon? Steve? What do you think I should do? Will the stiffs in Congress tightening sanctions on Iran help make it all go away?

Bannon: Sir? Call Kim Jong Un. You did say during the campaign you’d meet with him. Call him secretly.

Hello, Kim Jong Un? Kimmyyyyyy babe! I’ve got a question for you…

Kim Jong Un: And I’ve got you by les gonades, Donald. Don’t waste my time, Donald. Don’t be wishy-washy. The answer is simple. Just bomb Iran…… Sheldon Adelson would love it, worth tens of millions for 2020 campaign.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Bully Trapped? Trump Fears China and Pyongyang, Focuses Attacks on Iran, Mexico and Canada…..

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So Donald Trump is scared witless of little Kim Jong Un. The Cute Leader of Pyongyang is saber-rattling, begging for attention, knowing he’s got Donald by the little balls (his artillery is focused on Seoul). Trump seems paralyzed by the events on the Korean Peninsula. The chubby dictator apparently means business, won’t be bullied by the bully of Pennsylvania Avenue. What to do?
Simple, exit stage left, threaten faraway Iran (which is abiding by its treaties especially JPCOA nuclear deal even though the US is not, not really). So, if Pyongyang continues its nuclear advance, Trump will provoke a war with Iran, with full approval of the Democrat chickens in Congress. Then escalate the genocidal Arab onslaught against poor Yemen. Maybe hint at firing another few futile Tomahawks on some empty Syrian military base after more phony complaints of WMD use by Jihadi proxies of Arab kings and princes (that should get CNN pundits and fearful Democrats cheering, it did last time).

Nothing as satisfying to a New York brawler as a few cheap shots below the belt. But I do wish they would start wars with someone else: every time they get in trouble they think of waging another Muslim war. Bomb someone else this time: bomb Asia, Europe, Australia, Mars, Uranus (Donald). Just leave the Middle East alone, will you?

Trump is unhappy about the trade situation (including allegations of currency exchange rate manipulation) with China. During the campaign he sounded tough, promised to reshuffle the trade ties. Now he seems scared witless of China (not the least the impact on potential family business interests). So? He spins and attacks Mexico and Canada. More cheap shots below the belt.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Wyatt, Doc, Calamity and Beautiful Science: a Day in the Life of Trump Administration…….

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More recent potential Trump Administration news:

An uncharacteristically exasperated Attorney General Jeff Sessions has finally put Sanctuary Cities “on notice”, by yelling: Basta! (actually he did a combo Mexican-Rebel yell: Byeesta!).
Sessions also has temporarily changed his name to Wyatt Earp, and started calling Trump ‘Doc Holliday‘, calling Betsy DeVos ‘Calamity‘. No comment on Elaine Chou yet…….

For his part, Donald Trump asserted from Mar A Lago that: “I love Science. I believe in Science. I have here–> some beautiful Science to share with the American people. Wait for some big news on Science sometime next week, or maybe the week after. Will knock your socks off….”

Secretary of, er, State Rex Tillerson grunted again (at his usual speed of 0.5km/hr) that : “Eyeran represents an imminent danger to the United States national security, piling up their naval warships in the Gulf of Mexico, Oops, I meant the Persian Gulf“.

Rexy was leaving too quickly for a big man, as he is wont to do, when Andrea Mitchell asked if that means Trump is ready to start yet another stupid war. His parting shot was: “all options are on the table, we’re betting the farm on this one. The mullahs should remember what we did to Eyeraq! It took some fifteen years but we totally screwed up their country, our credibility and our economy. Created ISIS too. Never underestimate President Trump.”

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Iran’s Khamenei Does a Trump: MAGA becomes MIGA……

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“Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei fleshed out his vision of a “Made in Iran” economy Tuesday, calling for a ban on certain imports and an end to the $15-billion smuggling trade. The annual speech on the first day of the Persian year serves as a sort of Iranian equivalent to the US State of the Union address, and Khamenei used it to provide more details about his calls for a self-sufficient “resistance economy” that has been his main theme in recent months. “The importing of products where an Iranian equivalent exists should be considered religiously and legally haram (forbidden),” he told a huge crowd in the holy city of Mashhad. He took aim at Iran’s rampant black market in smuggled goods, which he said was worth at least $15 billion annually. “Some speak of $20-25 billion,” he said. “We want greatness for our country, social well-being and security at the national level. Without a strong economy we cannot achieve all that…..”

Ayatollah Khamenei sounds almost like a Trumpista, but only in the economics of trade sense. I am exaggerating a bit: clearly Khamenei does not believe in a trickle-down economy, now set to become a gushing-up economy under Trump. He does not have a gaggle of billionaires around him defining his own “populist” comfort zone in Tehran. He mostly favors fellow mullahs.

Not as bad as many other Middle East leaders these days. Some groveling Arab leaders are the worst offenders, effectively throwing their fellow Muslims under the bus to please Trump. Before the November elections they expected a resounding Hillary Clinton victory. Their Wahhabi-Liberal mouthpieces in the press and social media obediently excoriated Trump. But that was then.

Soon after Mr. Trump issued his first unconstitutional Executive Order banning many Muslims from travel to the USA, surprisingly including legal residents, some Arab kings and princes reacted positively. Particularly Saudi and UAE rulers, who have certain demands of Mr. Trump for their own regional agendas, quickly praised his move. Even as many Americans and the US courts stood against it. Their hasty positive reaction was uncalled for, it was voluntary, did not even wait for the US court decisions, which turned out as I had expected.

Khamenei is also applying some pressure on President Rouhani in his election year, distancing himself from an economy that has not done as well. Some Iranian officials have recently expressed disappointment that the Nuclear Deal has not helped the economy as much as they had expected.

But the Iranians have become good at managing under forced self-sufficiency. The long decades of mostly-American sanctions have forced them to produce many of the tools, equipment, and weapons they have needed. An unintended positive by-product of the economic siege. Even with the reduction and lifting of sanctions, their country will continue to produce many of the goods it has been forced to make under the economic siege.
So, maybe its is the other way around: maybe Mr. Trump’s “Made in America” message is an imitation of the forced “Made in Iran” policy on the other side of the world. Ali Khamenei has not uttered the term “Make Iran Great Again” (MIGA), but his occasional exhortations and policy statements sound similar to “Make America Great Again” (MAGA). Without the goofy red Trump hat.

More on this later, stay tuned.

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

Arab Leaders Blowing in the Wind: Torn Between Many Lovers…….

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The Arab regimes that care, mainly in the Gulf region, have failed to devise and implement a strategy against the expansion of Iranian influence in the Middle East. Military attempts in Iraq and Syria (via insurgent Jihadi proxies) have failed. An extended and ferocious destructive bombing campaign with Western help seems to have failed against the fierce Yemenis. Attempts at forging various reliable foreign alliances, from Turkey to Africa, have failed. Now they think they have a chance at a reset with the Trump administration, but that is probably just another illusion.

A leading Saudi newspaper editor, Mr. Turki Al Dakhil who is close to some potentates, has asked Saudis to launch a campaign on Twitter and other social media praising Donald Trump’s criticism of Iran. In the process also exaggerating it. Many, including the huge official Saudi Electronic Army have been tweeting hashtags (most common hashtag has been #TrumpWarnsIranianTerrorism or something like it) supposedly egging Mr. Trump on, pushing him toward a confrontation with the Iranian regime.

Wahhabi extremists, Salafis, ISIS fans, Al Qaeda fans and other assorted fans of Jihadi cutthroats are all suddenly tweeting in praise of the new President of the United States.

Remember when President Obama complained to the Atlantic Magazine last year that some Arab oligarchs in the Persian Gulf were trying to get the USA to join their regional sectarian conflicts? They are now trying to egg Trump on to fight their sectarian war in the Gulf region and possibly beyond. Only a few weeks ago they were blasting Trump as an Islamophobic racist, now they are clinging to him as a potential war ally. The last great (very) white hope.

Of course this is not new. After the fall of Baghdad in 2003 some Arab autocrats tried with George W Bush to provoke yet a new Gulf war. But he turned out smarter than that, less cooperative. Obama was even more skeptical of the Arab oligarchs, especially after the uprisings of 2010/2011 started. So, the oligarchs soured on Obama and hitched their wagons to Benyamin Netanyahu of Israel. As they waited for their old Clintonista friends to retake the White House.

Netanyahu talked tough against the mullahs, but he would not go to a risky war for the sake of Wahhabi kings and princes who don’t even recognize his country. You see, I suspect that much of Netanyahu’s bluster about the Iranian regime was to divert attention from the settlements in the West Bank (he has been warning since 1995 that Iran will have a nuclear weapon within six months). Some Iranian leaders helped him along with their absurd and bigoted comments about the Holocaust and their silly “Death To” slogans. The Iranian hardliners are good at milking these hostile slogans to their advantage in the Middle East, even if they harm their country’s interests in the halls of power in the West.

Enter Donald Trump and his frustrated hawkish former generals and cultural religious racial warriors.

So that is where it stands now. The Arab oligarchs are suddenly admirers of the American leader they called a clown only a few weeks ago. They think they have a chance against Iranian expansion with Trump, given that the president is surrounded by hawks and by cabinet members and advisers who have been close to the Iranian Mujahideen-Khalq opposition group.

Trump promised to avoid foreign wars and focus on America, but he is now making ominous noises. Will he go to war for his new autocratic admirers? Hopefully not: the Middle East has had enough of foreign meddling and Western wars.
Just help defeat ISIS and Al Qaeda, Mr. Trump, then get the hell out. You don’t belong in the Middle East permanently. The Iranians and the Arabs (and Kurds and Jews and others) belong there, and they have for thousands of years.

Cheers

M. H. Ghuloum