Category Archives: Iraq

Arab Revolutions: the Midterm Grades……….

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It is midterm time for Arab revolutions, which started right after Tunisian Mohammed Bu’azizi torched himself in protest last December. In Egypt, the beating death of Khaled Said had already shocked the country and planted the seeds of January 25. I grade them here according to performance:

Egypt  B: Mubarak is gone but too soon for an A or A- (I never gave above A-).

Tunisia   B: Still a struggle, and too soon for an A-.

Libya   C+: So much to go. We don’t even know who will emerge among the rebel leaders. Some of them were with Qaddafi until recently.

Yemen  C+: Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to leave, but is backtracking

Bahrain  C: The regime had to import foreign occupation forces to suppress its people. Too early to tell. The al-Khalifa clan (some Bahrainis consider the treasonous for importing foreign forces), Saudi occupation forces, and imported mercenaries from Pakistan and Jordan and other places are ruthless.

Syria  C: Still ongoing, although analysts bet the regime will survive (they also mostly thought Bin Ali and Mubrak would survive at the beginning of their revolutions). It is not clear to me who is leading the Syrian uprising, who will dominate. They are against the regime, but what do they stand for? Syrians are traditionally a tolerant secular people, but it is hard to assess how 50 years of Ba’ath dictatorship has affected that (since 1963, before the Assads). There seem to be several factions: various secularists (including exiled Ba’athists), various Muslim Brothers, Salafis. It is not clear how much commitment any of these groups has for democracy. You can scratch the Salafis out as far as democracy is concerned: they believe in it even less than the Ba’ath Party does. We are talking Taliban here. Yet the ruling Ba’ath dictatorship, like other despots in Egypt and Tunisia and Algeria and Bahrain, are chiefly responsible for the growth of fundamentalism.

Saudi Arabia  F- (get my point?): Pathetic: only one guy was brave enough to come out into the street of Riyadh and talk to foreign media and protest the heavy security. Khaled al-Jehany said his country was like a big prison. Now he has been in a small cell in a smaller prison ever since. Regime and its palace Salafi shaikhs have most people terrified of prison and torture in this world and hell in the other world. Yet there are many brave men and women in the Arabian Peninsula, for many are in prison and in exile.

UAE   F:   (a few guys thrown in prison by the al-Nahayan was enough to shut everybody up in this new police state).
 
Oman C:  (for trying).
Algeria:  D.      Jordan: C-.    Morocco: C
Qatar: “WTF is an uprising?”

(Lebanon and Iraq: is it just an illusion, or do Iraq and Lebanon seem like the most stable, most democratic, most free Arab countries now)?
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Al-Qaeda Finances: Have Money, Will Travel………

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This puts people like Abd al-Hamid al-Mujil in an uncomfortable position. Described by fellow jihadists as the “million-dollar man” for his successful fundraising on behalf of al Qaeda and other jihadi groups, Mujil directed the office of the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), a charity in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Both he and the IIRO office he headed were designated as terrorist entities by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2006. But even if being “named and shamed” forced Mujil out of the terror-finance business, there are many others just like him. Just this week, David Cohen, the head of the Treasury Department’s Terrorism and Financial Intelligence branch told CNN that major donors from the Gulf states remain the key sources of funding for the al Qaeda core. There are no doubt dozens of radical funders now worrying that their names, bank accounts, or addresses will comes up in bin Laden’s spreadsheets — or “pocket litter” — and for good reason.……..

I have always argued that all these terrorist operations from Iraq to Pakistan must cost a lot of money. More money than the locals could provide. I have always written here that following the money trail from Iraq or Pakistan or Yemen will lead so a huge field of petroleum, an oil well. This is part of someone’s ‘foreign policy’, at least the Iraq part is. Bring pressure on Iraq by sending suicide terrorists across the border and finance them (the money is peanuts for the deep pocketed princes). Bring pressure on Pakistan and others the same way. Meanwhile, the money and the Salafi fatwas will keep the bombers away from the home front. As for the Western allies, and the other Arabs who fall victim? Oh, well, there is such a thing as collateral damage.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Israeli Warplanes in Iraq: Iranian Paranoia? Iraqi Rumors? Saudi Hopes?………

     
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Iranian media report that Israeli jet fighters have conducted drills at an American military base in Iraq in preparation for an attack on Iran. Press TV quotes a source close to prominent Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sader’s group that a considerable number of Israeli warplanes were seen at the al-Asad base in Iraq. The aircraft reportedly included F-15, F-16, F-18, F-22, and KC-10 jet fighters. The warplanes allegedly carried out their week-long exercises at night. The drills were reportedly aimed at preparing to strike Iran’s air defense systems, disrupt Iran’s radars and attack targets deep inside Iran. Iraqi officials had not been notified of the exercises, which were conducted in collaboration with the US military. The United States operates several bases in Iraq whose future status is not clear yet and the Baghdad government is not involved in any of the military deployments taking place there.

I personally doubt all this: not only will it be futile, but it may divert attention back to the Palestine-Israeli issue and those ever expanding settlements. Yet it is tempting to dismiss all this as Iraqi rumors feeding Iranian paranoia. But one must remember: it is often at times when all seem to be quite that such attacks occur. From Operation Barbarossa to Pearl Harbor to the Ozirak attack to September 11, this has been the pattern (not always, but often).
Meanwhile, the Israelis are being their characteristic selves about this issue, the Iranians worry, and the rulers of Saudi Arabia are probably praying again (for such an attack to happen). I was going to add the shaikhs of UAE and Bahrain, but then I remembered that they don’t count anymore.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Is the New Arab Dawn an Illusion?………….

     
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The Arab Summit in Baghdad was canceled by the Saudis. The Arab League, the Club of Despots, claimed that unrest in the region requires a postponement. The truth is that the Saudis said that either the venue be moved from Baghdad or it be postponed. They did not want to be presided over by a Kurd (Iraqi president Talibani) and an Arab Shi’a (Iraqi prime minister al-Maliki). They got their wish.
The odd thing is that in this age of Arab revolutions against despotism and in favor of freedom the most despotic Arabs decide Arab League policy. A couple of absolute monarchs, actually one, have decided that the summit be moved or postponed. Saudi Arabia had to give the nod for NATO to intervene in Libya and to keep out in Yemen and to not say a word about the repression and its invasion of Bahrain. It may have a hand in what happens next in Yemen and Libya, and maybe even Syria, and it sure is trying to influence the course of the yet-unfinished Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions. The most undemocratic Arab regime is still calling the shots for the Arab world.
A new Arab dawn? It sure doesn’t look like it from where I am sitting at the window, watching my best friend obey a call of nature on the side of my rain-soaked lawn.
And that is when I decided to stop typing before I stepped deeper into it.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com