Category Archives: Kuwait

Arabian Wars, American Folly: Summer 1990, Summer 2017……

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This Saudi, UAE, and now Trump frenzy and ratcheting up attacks on Qatar reminds me of Saddam Hussein and Kuwait in the summer of 1990. How he escalated his threats against his little neighbor, miscalculated the American reaction, and started an invasion and another foolish war.

Donald Trump is now openly giving the Saudi/UAE potentates the green light in the Persian Gulf. But suppose Trump’s new Arab allies (the ones he hated and despised before last January) screw up as I expect? As they have done in Yemen? I mean they could not even subdue a few tribes in Yemen. Suppose they get stuck in another classic quagmire?

Trump has been tweeting today in support of the Saudi-Emirati position. All based on what two princes in Saudi Aabia and the UAE had told him last month (according to him)!
No doubt Qatar has supported some Syrian Jihadis with money, but so have the Saudis and others in the Persian Gulf states. So has Turkey. So why focus on Qatar now? Is it pressure from Saudi-UAE funded lobbyists and Think Tanks in Washington? It can well be.
Will Donald Trump then send American fighting boys and girls to pull their royal nuts out of the fire?

In the end the United States is thousands of miles away, it is an interloper. The countries on the Gulf belong there, it is their native region. The USA can defend its allies and whatever interests it has in the region, but it cannot establish its own hegemony on the Persian Gulf. That would be a pipe dream. The era of old gunboat imperialism is (probably) over.

(Interestingly Kuwait, the old victim of Saddam Hussein’s media attack and brutal invasion, is trying to mediate this new crisis between Qatar and her larger neighbors).

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

On the Persian Gulf: the Disappearance of Saleem the Jew……

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Saleem Yehudi, Saleem the Jew. That was what everybody that I knew called him in those days. That is the way my father and uncles called him when I was a kid. Saleem is a common name in the Middle East, and they were distinguishing him from some other Saleem(s) they knew. There are/were Arab Saleem, Iranian Saleem, Jewish Saleem, African Saleem, etc.
My father often took me along when he had some business near the port in our small capital city on the northern mainland tip of the Persian Gulf. In those days the dhows and fishermen boats were moored to piers right downtown, just behind the Seif Palace. Often my father stopped at the small front office used by Saleem Yehudi. I recall the man behind his desk, he seemed old to me as a child, but he was probably middle aged. He always gave me a piece of candy or a cookie or two, no doubt to keep me from fidgeting and getting into trouble while he talked with my father.

Then a day came when there was no Saleem Yehudi. A day when I realized that I had not seen him in a long time, maybe a few weeks. I don’t recall his name coming up at our afternoon meal Sofra (roughly the equivalent of a Western dinner table). Normally in my family we discussed all developments, everything and everybody. Adults and kids, men and women eagerly participating, interrupting…..

One day I was tagging along behind my father on the way to the port, when I suddenly asked him “Where is Saleem Yehudi, father?

There was a long pause before he said “Gone….. They’re all gone“.
Gone? Gone where, father?” I’m not sure if I was concerned about Saleem the Jew or the piece of sweet he gave me.

Another long pause before my father said “Probably gone to Shiraz, or Tehran….” Then another pause, he usually thought out what he said to me, “Or maybe some port in Iran. They can’t go to Iraq anymore……. Maybe Israel“.

Saleem the Jew, another fellow traveler who disappeared, almost certainly involuntarily……

But that has been the story of the Middle East, from the days of Babylonia and Cyrus until now. Just like Saleem Yehudi, others of other faiths, Arab Muslims and Christians, were also displaced, sometimes forcibly, by the same conflict. They still are in parts of the Old Mandate of Palestine (now Israel and the ever-shrinking Palestinian Territories). It goes on among Arabs as well: in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, the Persian Gulf and other places. The ethnic cleansing goes beyond interfaith, to inter-sectarian. A mad search for an ever narrower false homogeneity that never seems to stop these days. It goes on and it dooms the region, especially the countries undergoing this ethnic and religious cleansing.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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

The Enemy Within? the Extremist Salafi Islamist Opposition Returns to Kuwait Politics……..

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Kuwait has the most free and open elections in all the Gulf GCC states. The others don’t really have any. She will have new parliamentary (National Assembly) elections in the last week of November. Much of the ultra-reactionary Islamic-Tribal alliance that boycotted the last election has given up and decided to run for office. That should be good news, but in this case it is truly bad news for the country, its social cohesion, and sectarian tranquility.

The Kuwaiti political opposition are a mix that is dominated by Salafis, Muslim Brothers, and reactionary tribal seekers of office. These have cleverly dominated the smaller Wahhabi-Liberal and pseudo-academic types who are nominally secular.

Last time the so-called Kuwaiti political opposition mustered a majority in parliament, their first act was to vote to convert the country into a Wahhabi-Salafi theocracy by instituting the Shari’a literally. Apparently their ideal of a democratic civil society. The proposal got a majority of votes: every member of that opposition group voted for it. Only the few urban members and the Shi’a members refused to support it. Luckily, the Emir thought correctly that it was a bad idea and refused to sign it. He vetoed it and saved the country from the ritual of beheading, crucifixion, public flogging, chopping hands, and other such Wahhabi-Salafi pleasures and pastimes that exist in a neighboring country.

Most of the opposition members had claimed they would not run again until the election laws were changed away from the new one-man-one-vote system, and until one of their leaders is released from prison. They made a lot of noise about ‘principles’ and about a ‘democracy’ that most of them never believed. Apparently four years on the outside have cured them. Basically they have surrendered and, in true Salafist fashion, betrayed their imprisoned ally Musallam Al Barrak.

The years of absence of any political influence and tribal pressures have caused most of them to announce they are running for the November 27 elections. That means that they will again apply pressures to move in the Wahhabi-Salafi direction. To interfere in the private social lives of people, and to start another book-burning episode. Some of them are already announcing their intention to try again to make the Shari’a the law of the land.

And to fan the flames of sectarian tensions that they introduced to the country. They will also start hounding the Shi’as and maybe the few Christians. Last time they were in parliament this Salafi-MB-Tribal alliance asked the government to start “monitoring” the Shi’a religious services. Meaning to spy and intimidate the minorities. Some, possibly many, of these members no doubt will get elected, and they will start making the country and society even duller that it is now.

We shall see soon enough how the post-Thanksgiving turkeys turn out. Certainly no better than the same turkeys looked last time around…..
Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

 

هارون الرشيد و مسرور: حرية الراي في دول الخليج بين قطع الارزاق و قطع الاعناق

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قررت الخطوط الجوية الكويتية فصل الكابتن طيار أحمد عاشور عن العمل بسبب قضية الإساءة للسعودية والذي حكم عليه بالسجن سنتين وكفالة ١٠٠٠ دينار لوقف النفاذ.
وقد اتخذ هذا القرار بعد التحقيق مع الكابتن عاشور من قبل الدكتور عبدالله العجمي ووجهت له تهمة الإساءة لدولة مجاورة ما قد يؤثر على العلاقات بين الدولتين، بالإضافة إلى أخذ الموضوع منحنى إعلامي بالتالي أصبح الكابتن عاشور,ظش. موضع خطر,ش اقثب= على المؤسسة على حد قوله
 جريدة الوطن
يقال ان هارون الرشيد كان عنده سياف اسمه مسرور يستخدمه لدق او قطع اعناق من كان يشك في انهم  يسيؤون اليه او يتامرون عليه. الان في دول الخليج توجد سفارات دول شقيقة، سفارات دول اجنبية، تعمل على قطع ارزاق من لا ترضى عن رايه , سيوف مسلطة على الرؤوس في الدول الشقيقة جدا. وبالذات سفارة دولة مشهورة بدق الاعناق.  السفارات ليس دورها المعتاد او المقبول  التدخل في الشؤؤن الداخلية و الحث على قمع الحريات في البلاد. خاصة التدخل السمج والواضح في شؤون دولة مثل الكويت مشهود لها بتاريخ طويل نسبيا من حرية التعبير مقارنة بجميع الدول المجاورة. ولا شك هي محاولة ثقيلة لتقريب الاوضاع السيا سية الداخلية للمنطقة 
الجو مشابه الان لفترة سابقة اتسمت بتدخلات سفارة  دولة عربية جارة اخرى كبيرة  في الشؤون الداخلية خلال عقد الثمانينات
د. محمد حيدر
 
 
 

Freedom of Speech on the Gulf, Salafi Style……..

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قَالَتِ الْأَعْرَابُ آمَنَّا قُل لَّمْ تُؤْمِنُوا وَلَكِن قُولُوا أَسْلَمْنَا وَلَمَّا يَدْخُلِ الْإِيمَانُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ “
سورة الحجرات
(ديمقراطية)

Remember when I penned a post here in February on Internal Exile used by Arab regimes to punish those who displease them? I called it an Arabian Gulag here.
Yesterday I read a tweet from back home. Two Salafi leaders of the so-called political opposition were tweeting. They have been making noisy allegations for a couple of years about their “lack of freedom” of speech. Even as they insist that others should be denied the freedom of expression. Even as their goal is to establish a Wahhabi type of government: they almost did it in 2012 but it was vetoed by the Emir. Even as they praise serious violent repression in neighboring states.
What these two Salafist former parliamentarians were demanding in their tweets was that the government should ban another parliamentarian, one who is from another sect, from travel abroad. They said he might feel free to ‘speak freely’ outside the country, which they clearly think is a bad idea: he might criticize the dismal human rights situation in neighboring Gulf states.
@Altabtabie

What this Salafi former parliamentarian is saying in Arabic is that: “This D—- should be immediately banned from foreign travel so he will not use his being a member of the Assembly to besmirch the brothers in Saudi and Bahrain abroad….”
The other one, his comrade in Wahhabi Salafism, absolutely agrees with him. They are both asking the government (which they claim to oppose for allegedly restricting their freedom) to restrict someone else’s freedom of travel and speech. A kind of repression they always support when applied by regimes in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, but not at home.

Now I don’t know this man they are targeting, and I most likely disagree on at least some things he espouses (FYI: I disagree with almost everybody back home on the Gulf on most political, social and economic and any other subject or matter). But this falls within the usual pattern reflecting the fact that loud talk of freedom of speech by most Islamists, especially Salafis, is for media consumption, especially for foreign media. They do not believe in freedom of anything: speech, religion, expression, and even thought.

Long live freedom of speech, Wahhabi style, with a dash of Salafi hypocrisy.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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A Dummy’s Haiku Guide to Free Speech in the Gulf Region………..

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Haiku:
About Free Speech…
Can it be free at a price?………..
Tell our leaders…….

So what is this “free speech” that many constitutions claim to allow but few actually do? We covered that partly in the previous post. Now, in the Gulf and GCC states:

  • In Saudi Arabia, evidence shows that free speech is whatever the princes and their media say. It is also anything that does not contradict what the Wahhabi clerical establishment that is allied with the rulers say.
  • The Saudi religious establishment has a short and clear definition of free speech: their interpretation of the Holy Quran and the Hadith, and whatever the ruling princes say. The same applies to the Salafist movements that ape the Saudi system. Also to Al-Qaeda and the temporary Caliphate of ISIS (but without the reference to the princes) .
  • In Qatar, free speech is whatever does not criticize the rulers and insult the Muslim Brotherhood. That includes whatever is said by the official Al-Jazeera network. and by Al-Quds Al-Arabi and other oligarchy-owned media.
  • Bahrain probably has the broadest definition of Free Speech in the whole region. In Bahrain, first of all, Free speech is mainly anything that is not critical of any Saudi prince or any Saudi policy or any Saudi weekend alcohol-guzzling tourist. In addition, free speech is anything that does not criticize the sheikh (sorry, now king), his crown prince, the prime minister of 45 years, minister of interior, foreign minister (and his girth), minister of defense, minister of justice, or any of their other relatives (note: they all carry the same last name). Free speech is also anything that does not mention the imported foreign armed killer mercenaries from Jordan, Pakistan, Syria and other places.
  • In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), free speech is anything that does not criticize the ruling brothers. Free speech is also anything that does not mention the Muslim Brotherhood and anything that does not mention the imported foreign mercenaries led by former Blackwater executives (from Colombia, Australia, South Africa, etc) now fighting in Yemen.
  • Back in Kuwait, there is relatively more free speech than in any other Gulf state. Relatively speaking. For some time, a large sectarian tribal section of the self-styled opposition has tried to define free speech and hence restrict it. The dominant Wahhabi-ized tribal-Salafi-Muslim-Brotherhood strain of the opposition has its own odd definition of free speech. In their case Free Speech is whatever they want to say. Many of these admire either Al-Qaeda or ISIS or Nusra or a combination of the Salafi cutthroats that ravage the Middle East. Some probably actively support these groups. Free Speech to that strain is also whatever the Saudi princes and their Wahhabi clerics and their controlled media opine. Apparently free speech to this group is also remaining silent while the neighboring princes throw thousands of people in prison, both Sunni and Shi’a. Apparently free speech also requires a Wahhabi Saudi-style  Salafi state which the whole opposition members voted to impose and passed in 2012. It would have turned the country into a Taliban theocracy, but it was fortunately vetoed by the executive branch.
  • In Iran, free speech is whatever does not touch the theocracy or the powerful Supreme Leader or the powerful Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) negatively . Or contradicts publicly what the ‘mainstream’ clerics opine. You can probably get away with public criticism of Hassan Rouhani or Zarif, but that is it. Now remember: if you stand in the Middle of Tehran and sing “God Bless America“, that would NOT be considered free speech. But the same applies if you do it in Riyadh.
  • Fact is (usually I hate starting a sentence with “fact is”): in the whole Persian-American Gulf region, the only true absolutely Free Speech can probably be found on board the U.S Navy ships. And on some foreign military bases.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
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Terrorism Inc.: the Wahhabi Elephant in the Room……..

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It is not a Muslim war of terror, it is a war by one small sect, a Wahhabi war of terror against all others. It is no more Islamic than claiming that the Holocaust was a Christian act (actually it was, across most of bigoted Central and Eastern Europe, not just Germany and Austria).

  • This Friday news agencies reported that the West African branch of Wahhabism, the Boko Haram, has attacked a procession of Shi’a Muslims. The suicide bomber killed about 40 and wounded over 20. No doubt there were other onlookers, Muslim Sunnis and others, who were murdered by the Wahhabi bomber.
  • In Paris last week the Wahhabis attacked public places and killed about 129 men and women of various religion (some of none). That was the second major terrorist attack in Paris this year.
  • In Beirut, Lebanon they attacked a marketplace three weeks ago. in an area that is predominantly Shi’a but also houses Sunni Muslims and Christians and Syrian refugees and possibly a few Wahhabi sympathizers. They killed over 40 people and wounded over 200. Western media headlined that the area was a “Hezbollah stronghold”.
  • In Iraq, in Baghdad and other towns they have been killing civilians in market places, mosques, and other venues for a few years. Mostly Shi’as are targeted, but no doubt they killed and injured Sunni Muslims and people of other faiths. Almost every day.
  • In Kuwait last June, the Wahhabi terrorists blew up a Shi’a mosque and killed 27 people, and wounded others. That was the second Wahhabi sectarian terrorist act in the country this year.
  • In Pakistan, the Wahhabis have been waging an aggressive war of terror against Shi’a Muslims for a few years. And against some others as well.
  • Last night news broke out of a terrorist attack against a Shi’a Muslim mosque in Bangladesh. The perpetrators were almost certainly local Wahhabi converts, as the Islamic State of DAESH claimed responsibility. In impoverished BanglafuckingDesh of all places.

This ugly sect that sprouted and spawned in what is now Central Saudi Arabia erroneously claims to represent Islam. Wahhabism, the official faith of Saudi and Qatari potentates as well as ISIS (DAESH) and Al Qaeda cutthroats, has been efficient in spreading its seed, its poison around the world for several decades. Fueled by petroleum money and indoctrination and hatred of the “others”. Encouraged by Western governments that ignore the “swamp” for the sake of fat weapons deals and other contracts. It has gained and won and bought converts throughout the Persian Gulf region, through Egypt and North Africa. And South Asia and Europe. Meanwhile the West is ignoring the Wahhabi elephant in the room, a very rich elephant, and perhaps there is the rub.
Now the whole world is reaping the results.

What to do? Drain the real swamp, drain Wahhabism Inc. ……
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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How I Died and Lived again: from the Persian Gulf to the Pacific Northwest, P.S…….

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Over the years I have gone through several lives. That probably means I have one or two left to spare. The last experience, this past July, was a close one, or so I have been told.

I lost my life the first time during a hot Gulf summer (is there any other kind?) when I was a child. I fell into the warm motherly but turbulent waters of the Persian Gulf. I was leaning over the edge of the dhow, peering into the waters, probably trying to locate some fish, when I fell. A captain of the boat (which was associated with my father and uncles) dived after me and saved me. He must have been acquainted with CPR first aid techniques, or what passed for them at that time. They told me, as I recall, that his name was Khamees (Thursday).

There were a few other times. During my student days a Parisian Bread truck almost finished me off on a Berkeley (Calif.) street intersection some years later. The driver must have jumped a red light, or so I was told. I woke up in the hospital with no memory of the incident. But I lived to try another day. And I did. I left out when my head was almost bashed in, but apparently I survived that one too, didn’t I?

Back home on the Gulf, just after one of our wars, I got my first (and only) massive heart attack. The company driver got me to the emergency entrance of the Amiri Hospital just in time. That was some years ago. When I came to an Indian nurse was trying hard to beat some life into my heart. She succeeded.

That was when I got some advice on how to proceed. Some neighbors said that since I had worked with influential potentates (shaikhs) I should plead with some of them to apply their influence with the government to send me overseas for treatment. Others had done it, although I noted that most of those did not survive ‘the royal favor’. I toyed with the idea, and wisely decided instead to spend a month on the beaches and in the mountains of Cyprus. Maybe a reckless part of me thought death was not the worst thing that can happen to me, given the options offered by the neighbors.

I survived that one too, and later moved back to the American Pacific Coast, to the Northwest, where over time I had  a few stents inserted into my body even as I led an active life (hiking, biking, etc). Without the need to plead with any potentates.

Last month I almost did it again: I almost cashed in my chips outside Everett (Washington). Except that a Mr. Snyder and his wife (or girlfriend) caught me in time with some timely CPR first aid and a call to 911. The Snyders and the excellent Providence Hospital staff in Everett saved my life at a time when my family were anxiously looking for me at a nearby shopping mall. When they called my cell phone the hospital emergency staff answered, a terrifying surprise (or so I’d like to think). Apparently I had a seizure (or was it a stroke?). I remember nothing of that day or the next five days.

I have another MRI scheduled for next week. But I believe I am regaining my health and my energy. So, who knows: maybe a few more rounds………

There is an addendum to the above post:
P.S. (10/1/2015): A surgeon had done a biopsy on my brain on that day of my “incident” in July. He dug inside my skull and tested some brain tissue on that day, as I understand. He said the lump in my brain was NOT a tumor. Now he says the results of the last MRI show that it has vanished. Looks like good news. We shall see………….

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum   

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GCC Opposition and Yemen and a Me-Too State………..

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All is fair in war, nothing is fair in love   Unsaid Wahhabi saying

War is Deception   Hadith

The GCC opposition groups of the Gulf states, such as they are, have reacted in interesting ways to the war on Yemen:

  • The Saudis have different group that can fall under opposition or reformist categories. The extreme Wahhabi opposition, those who support Al Qaeda and ISIS, have the attitude that “better late than never”. They are strongly for the attack on Yemen, just as they pray for an Israeli or American or Vulcan attack on Iran (to them all is fair in war, if not in love). Others of the opposition who are not so-extreme-Wahhabi are apparently also for the attack. Or most of them like being silent.
  • The same seems to be the case with the Kuwaiti opposition, many of whose factions are under control or Salafi, Muslim Brotherhood, and reactionary tribal elements. Even the more quasi-liberal wing of it is Wahhabi-ized to the extent that they strongly hint at support for the attack on Yemen. They also try to deceptively and hypocritically fudge the issue, deliberately calling it the “Houthi war” rather than the “Yemen war“. Which falls within the Saudi narrative, which is how they look at almost all regional and international issues. They are also strongly against the Bahrain uprising. It is largely sectarian, but then the Shi’as are the same but on the other side. The Shi’as are mostly against this war on Yemen and the Houthis.
  • The UAE doesn’t have any opposition, as far as the Ruling Brothers can tell us. Nor does Qatar. As for Bahrain, well, it is the ultimate Me-TOO state. Whatever the Saudis do is fine by them.
  • Oman seems to be the sanest GCC country these days, and the most independent in decision-making. They would have nothing to do with this war on Yemen.

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