Category Archives: MENA

After JCPOA and UNESCO: Will the USA and Israel Join the Arab League?…….

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President Donald Trump has taken the USA out of a whole bunch of international institutions, agreements, and deals. From the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) to the Paris Climate Accord, to the United Nation’s UNESCO organization (Mr. Trump and Israel both withdrew this week).

He is on the verge of breaking and violating the JCPOA (the international community’s nuclear deal with Iran). He is also threatening the NAFTA deal with Canada and Mexico. Early in his term he threatened US ties with NATO, the bedrock of the Western Alliance since after the last world war.

For most of the rest of the world Mr. Trump is not the usual credible American president. He has very little credibility. He is not liked (to put it politely) anywhere in the world, with the exception of Israel and some Arab royal palaces (and maybe in Manila). Predictably Netanyahu made a short speech welcoming Trump’s non-withdrawal from JCPOA, while the controlled Saudi media cheered on.

So here is a suggestion: why not declare the United States, and Israel, as members of the Arab League. They can start as observer-members. It is all an incredible fantastic circus anyway……….

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

Donald Trump’s Obama Complex: Creating Fake News, Domestic and Global Chaos, New Muslim Wars……

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Media reports and official statements (General John Kelly) indicate that Kim Jong Un (Trump’s Rocket Man of North Korea) is close to developing a re-entry system for his long-range nuclear delivery missiles.

Donald Trump is studiously avoiding action on this serious potential threat to the West Coast of the United States. He will continue to fight Kim sporadically with words and tweets while he focuses on what he thinks is an easier target, the country that is not seeking nuclear weapons, more significantly the country that has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, renounced nuclear weapons and does not have them. Iran.

Trump is making daily noises about destroying the international JCPOA deal that keeps Iran from going nuclear. If later today, as widely expected, he declares Iran non-compliant, nobody anywhere in the world will believe him. Not even his own cabinet members and top Pentagon generals. Not even his reprehensible foreign cheerleaders: mainly his co-serial-liar Netanyahu and the usual couple of absolute Arab kings who are urging him to go to war (in exchange for billions of dollars). No doubt he himself does not believe what he says about it. It could be even worse if he actually believed his own ‘facts’. The Iranians are already milking Trump’s noise and threats for all their worth, and it is working in Europe and Asia and in Turkey and several Arab countries.

For Trump this is not so much about Iran or nuclear weapons, not even about Fox News warmongering. It is part of a pattern now: it is all about Barack Obama, about undoing everything that ‘uppity’ black president did while in the White Office.
It is about the birther Trump’s obsession with his Obama Complex.
It might eventually lead to the second time since 2003 that the USA goes to a messy war of choice in the Middle East, based on a self-created lie.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Nuclear Bluffing and Bullying: a Silly Question by Nikki Haley, a Stern Warning by Iran……..

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“The United States wants to know if the United Nations atomic watchdog plans to inspect Iranian military sites to verify Tehran’s compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said on Tuesday. Haley will meet with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials in Vienna on Wednesday for what she described as a fact-finding mission, which is part of President Donald Trump’s review of the deal Iran made with world powers to curb its nuclear program in return for the lifting of most sanctions. “If you look … at past Iranian behavior, what you’ve seen is there have been covert actions at military sites, at universities, things like that,” Haley, a member of Trump’s cabinet, told Reuters in an interview. ……… She said she was traveling to Vienna to ask questions, not to push the IAEA to do anything……….”

What a silly lady Nikki Haley can be when pressed by Donald Trump. Traveling to Vienna to pressure the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to “do anything”. Anything like what?
It is shocking that apparently nobody in the Trump administration knows if the Nuclear Deal does or does not cover conventional military sites. It does not. Doesn’t anybody over there read these agreements? Don’t these ambulance chasers have lawyers in international law among them?


It is so obvious the Trump Administration has “decided” that Iran is breaking the nuclear deal, even as they know that it is not. Trump (or his son in law Jared Kushner) is pressuring Nikki Haley, and she is pressuring the IAEA, which is an international organization not beholden to Trump. The Europeans have already made it clear they want no part of Trump’s new ploy: they sent their foreign minister, Federica Mogherini to Tehran for the inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The Iranians are apparently fed up with the silly bluffing and attempts at cheap bullying by the Trump Administration. They took a page from the North Korea book: they warned that they need only 5 days to ramp up uranium enrichment usable for nukes.

In this game, it is like a Washington race between Donald Trump and the United States Congress to see which one of them can wreck the Iran Nuclear Deal through increased sanctions and military threats in the Persian Gulf. Neither one can: JCPOA is an “international” deal.

Meanwhile, in Pyongyang, the other omnipotent leader Kim Jong Un is watching these machinations and plots cooked up by the novice hustler in the Oval Office. Can you guess what he is thinking?

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Miracle of the IRGC: Shipping Weapons to Yemen through Western Media………

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“Using this new route, Iranian ships transfer equipment to smaller vessels at the top of the Gulf, where they face less scrutiny. The transhipments take place in Kuwaiti waters and in nearby international shipping lanes, the sources said. “Parts of missiles, launchers and drugs are smuggled into Yemen via Kuwaiti waters,” said a senior Iranian official. “The route sometimes is used for transferring cash as well.” The official added that “what is especially smuggled recently, or to be precise in the past six months, are parts of missiles that cannot be produced in Yemen”. Cash and drugs can be used to fund Houthi activities, the IRGC official said……..”

Apparently Iranian Revolutionary Guard leaders, soon including Brig General Qassem Soleimani, are always dying to confess to Western media reporters. Amazing how these high ‘officials’ always confess to Western media, divulging the deepest operational secrets of their organizations and their countries.

From Hezbollah of Lebanon to the Iranian IRGC: all it takes is a Reuters or NY Times correspondent based in Beirut or Abu Dhabi, and they all spill the beans. On condition of anonymity of course, and how convenient is that.

But the important question here is: does anybody actually believe this nonsense, except for the already converted? I mean they should try to make it more plausible: shipping weapons from Iran to Yemen through Kuwait and Iraq (who are at the northernmost tip of the Persian Gulf, hundreds of miles away from Yemen)? Isn’t Saudi Arabia the closest border to Yemen?

Oh, and the “drug” angle is also a cute touch, often used in these cases against “the other side”, and it is always worth adding a bit more darkness. Maybe it is all true, but it is still cute…

Meanwhile, over ten thousand Yemenis have been killed, hundreds of thousands have been wounded. They did not get hit by these alleged simple missiles, smuggled through impossible routes. They got hit by more genocidal bombs, cluster of otherwise, imported by Arab princes from Britain and the United States.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Western Hubris and Regime Change Obsession: From Iran to Latin America and back to the Middle East…….

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Regime change has been an American obsession in the post-war era.

In 1953, the CIA (and British MI6) did not like the elected government of Mossadegh in Iran. There were issues of Iran taking their oil industry back, and worries about the strong Tudeh (communist) Party being legal. So they staged a play where the petulant young shah left for Europe, mobs of paid agents provocateurs were brought into the streets, and the generals staged a coup d’etat (to bring order). That was the beginning of the torturous love affair between the Iranian people and the United States government (as represented by the CIA). It set the stage for the Revolution of 1979, the US Embassy affair in Tehran, and the continued rancor. It could lead to another endless American war in yet another Muslim land, if the warmongers in the Republican Party (and some Democrats) have their way with Donald Trump.


Easy early success in Iran encouraged the CIA, which quickly shifted to another elected “leftist” regime, in Guatemala. President Árbenz was overthrown, and the rest of Latin America knew who was boss, until Fidel Castro and Che Guevara broke the mold.
But there were other “incidents” in Latin America: the Dominican election of 1965 was followed by the usual military coup and Lyndon Johnson’s invasion; the Brazilian military coup; the bloody overthrow of the elected Allende regime in Chile and the mass murders that followed (Nixon, Kissinger).
Those were all successful coups and invasions with the goal of regime change. The attempts in Cuba failed.


But the Western attempt at regime change with the bloodiest long-term consequences for the West was in a Muslim country: Afghanistan. The mistake of intervention in Afghanistan would come to haunt the West, especially the USA, for decades later. It started the ball rolling on Islamic Jihad and terrorism:

After the Communists took over in Kabul in 1978, through a counter military coup, the USA and its Saudi allies started encouraging a tribal insurrection. In 1979 Moscow did its own version of regime change in Kabul, but eventually ended up paying a heavy price. Afghanistan became a battlefield for competing regime changes: the Soviet Russians supporting the ruling secular Communists, and the West and Wahhabi Arabs supporting the reactionary tribal Afghan Mujahideen (Islamist Fundamentalist) rebels. We all know how that story evolved: the Wahhabi Taliban Jihadists eventually took over in Kabul, Al Qaeda found a safe haven, 9/11 happened, then ISIS, and all that. And the longest endless futile war in American history that nobody has the courage to end, apparently not yet.

In the Arab World, Saddam Hussein opened the door to direct American military intervention and regime change. His failed attempted invasion of Iran bankrupted Iraq and led him to the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, perhaps to recoup his losses. That set the stage for George W Bush and the neocons to invade Iraq in 2003, after the September 11 attacks.

Then there was the NATO operation that culminated in regime change in Libya. The dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown, tortured, and murdered along with one of his sons. Libya is now a divided failed state, exporting more terrorism than it did even before 2011.
The Syrian war is another example. One can just imagine what will happen when tens of thousands of Jihadis from Arab lands (mostly from Saudi Arabia and North Africa) and from European cities go back home to roost.

But wait, it is not over yet. Some old unrepentant Republican Necons and paid Democrats and lobbyists of generous despotic un-elected Arab princes are again taking up the old call of regime change in Tehran. Using a former terrorist group that acts as a Saudi surrogate.  Some of these folks actually believe they will be received with flowers and cheers in Tehran and other places. Will they ever learn? Apparently not. I think they should leave any regime change to the Iranian people.

Most people in the Middle East consider these continuous Western (mainly American) interventions as a return of Western colonialism, probably correctly so. The more Islamist fundamentalist peoples in the Middle East, some among the Arab Salafis, consider these interventions a new Crusade.

Right now some American politicians might want to focus on regime change closer to home, if you get my meaning….

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Mother of All Persian Gulf Miscalculations: Petulant Princes and the Ultimatum that Failed……..

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” Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that have cut ties to Qatar issued a steep list of demands Thursday to end the crisis, insisting that their Persian Gulf neighbor shutter Al-Jazeera, cut back diplomatic ties to Iran and sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.
In a 13-point list — presented to the Qataris by Kuwait, which is helping mediate the crisis — the countries also demand an end to Turkey’s military presence in Qatar. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the list in Arabic from one of the countries involved in the dispute…….— Immediately terminate the Turkish military presence currently in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside of Qatar…… If Qatar agrees to comply, the list asserts that it will be audited once a month for the first year, and then once per quarter in the second year after it takes effect. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance……” AP

The princes and potentates along the Persian Gulf region are rarely original. But it seems that on the occasions when they do show some originality, they can be breathtakingly so.

All these countries have foreign military bases on their territories, which is fine. The UAE has several bases on its land: American, British, French, and allegedly imported mercenary forces organized by Blackwater (later renamed Xe then Academi). Bahrain has American, British, and Saudi bases, plus thousands of Jordanian and former Arab Baathist and Asian mercenaries, so far. The Saudis have American ‘bases’ coordinating the war on Yemen, possibly British as well, as well as reportedly humorless Jordanians and other foreign military personnel. Yet they demand that Qatar end the small Turkish military presence of Caliph Erdogan. No mention of the huge US Central Command base at Al Eidid.

The brotherly, or is it sisterly, princes also want Qatar to reduce ties with Iran, yet the UAE is reportedly the main regional trading partner of Iran. Dubai’s ties with Iran precede the rule of the mullahs in Tehran and precedes the creation of the UAE. And Oman has historical and growing trade ties with Iran. Kuwait is normally neutral in disputes among Gulf GCC potentates, and it has normal ties with Iran. Yet the focus is on Qatar, or perhaps Qatar is the first target, with others to follow.

Yet Qatar is also almost umbilically tied to Iran: it shares a huge offshore natural gas field with Iran in the Persian Gulf, and that is something that cannot be broken. Besides, Iran has been on the Persian Gulf since the early Aryan invasions/migrations from the north many thousands of years ago. Long before Bush, Obama, and Trump showed up. Long before Percy Cox and Gertrude Bell and T.E Lawrence showed up. Ironically, the Emirates Airlines (UAE) flights from the United States cross the whole of Iran, over Tehran, to land in Dubai. Yet these petulant potentates have a blockade against the Qatar Airlines, banning it from their airspace.

The oddest demand is supposed to be an imitation of the IAEA nuclear task as part of the Iran Nuclear Deal with the world powers (JCPOA): they want Qatar periodically monitored for compliance with the demands of these silly princes and potentates. Can’t Arab leaders ever be original? Apparently only when they go beyond reason and into the realm of absurdity.


My conclusion? the Saudi-UAE siege of Qatar seems to have failed. Another failure to be added to their adventures in Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon. Only their huge investment in General Al Sisi seems to have paid off for now, but Egypt is now a monumentally unstable war-torn mess. In Egypt it is like this: they broke it, and now they own it.

They probably thought surprise tough measures combined with hints of military action and attempted internal coup would bring the troublesome Qatari rulers down. That combined with some vague supportive comments from the new Muslim Caliph Donald Trump, a hardly reliable advocate of complex policies. They did not. The ruling princes and potentates of the Gulf have miscalculated, again.

Let us hope these petulant princes don’t keep misreading Donald Trump or James Mattis and make the Mother of All Miscalculations, plunging the region into another war, this time the Mother of All Persian Gulf Wars.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Men Playing with Balls in Riyadh and Scandinavia: an Arab Ball? an American Ball? a Nordic Ball……

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During the Saudi-American Summit in Riyadh, President Trump, King Salman, and Generalissimo Sisi had some fun playing with their ball, or rather with one of their balls. Okay, playing with someone’s mysterious ball.

It was an eerie fluorescent white ball, made eerier by the three grown men fondling it for benefit of the cameras. I assume it was a Saudi ball, some Saudi’s ball, since it as hosted in Riyadh. Unless it was Trump’s, that he had donated one of his balls for that occasion of sorcery and witchcraft and magic.

Sorcery, witchcraft, and magic are activities that are punishable with death by beheading in Saudi Arabia. But anyone can play with their own ball as much as they want, apparently they can also play with someone else’s ball, provided it is done with consent.

          

That photo elicited reactions from all over the world. But some European reaction was the most succinct. The leaders of the five Nordic countries, decided to do their own show of sorcery, magic, and witchcraft. The leaders of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland chose a better and more open setting, near some body of water, rather than in a dark room full of Wahhabi zealots. And they chose a colorful ball. Not sure whose ball it was, but could be any among the five leaders. Any four among the participating leaders.

And the Scandinavians looked more cheerful about it: the ball looks, shall we say, livelier. The Trump-Salman-Sisi ball-fondling looked like a grim affair, as expected. In spite of the dimmed lights.

In case you were interested…..

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Trump as the Sixth Pillar of Wahhabi Islam? Sisters of the Faithful……..

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At the Riyadh Wahhabi-American Summit, it looked like the princes and potentates were ready to change the basic tenets of Islam to appease the man who has made Islamophobia more acceptable in America. Their new American Idol, Donald J Trump.


Islam has five pillars that define a Muslim (all Muslims be they Sunni, Shi’a, or Wahhabi):

  • Shahada, Assertion, that Allah is the One God and that Mohammed is his Prophet.
  • Donating the Zakat (Alms) for the poor and needy. (I can almost hear American Republicans groaning).
  • Fasting the Holy Month of Ramadan (no food, drink, lies, and sex: from dawn to dusk).
  • Five daily prayers facing Mecca (originally Muslims prayed while facing Jerusalem, until they conquered the Prophet’s hometown and disposed of the idols).
  • Making the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca/Madinah. But this last one is not completely mandatory: it is only for “those who are able and can afford it”.

Now there may have been a subtle change, given the Wahhabi festival last week celebrating Donald Trump and his clan at the Summit in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

Trump was treated like more than a new Caliph, more like a combination Caliph and Angel. The Saudi princes’ generosity with their people’s money and their controlled media saw to that. Trump’s wife and daughter, the only women at the various meetings and parties, were almost elevated by the Wahhabis to the rank of “Sisters of the Faithful” (in Arabic: اخوات المؤمنين ).

Not necessarily bad in itself, if Donald himself wasn’t around to bask in the glory and to believe what they said about him. Melania and Ivanka: as Catholic and Jewish ‘Sisters of the Faithful’. It is not the first time in the history of Islam. But Donald Trump is the first of his kind in the history of the American Republic.

In Riyadh, his eyes were so focused on the money, hundreds of billions of petro-money, that he may have unwittingly handed America’s foreign policy, and her future wars in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf to a bunch of incompetent, corrupt, and greedy princes.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Riyadh Summit Mystery: Two Exotic American Women at Muslim Stag Party, but What Happened to All Saudi Women?……..

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Where are the Saudi women?

Here are First Lady Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump in the middle of hundreds, nay thousands, of Muslim Arab men, mostly Wahhabis. And not a single other Saudi woman. Not at the airport, not anywhere else within sight. You’d think it is a huge stag party and the two American women are the exotic performers.
One rare independent Arab media that is not Saudi-controlled headlined, no doubt jokingly from the safety of London: Ivanka praises Saudi progress in Women Rights. But nary a Saudi woman anywhere around.


Which reminds me of a shocking fact of the Riyadh Summit ignored by Western, especially American, media. Where are the Saudi women? There has been not a single Saudi woman during the whole process. None of the King’s or the princes’ wives showed up at the airport to greet Melania and Ivanka. None was present at the meetings, nor at the so-called Arab-Islamic-American summit.


What happened? Did the Saudis hide and lock up all their women in the cellars? Or did they have them all chained and handcuffed to their respective beds?

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Trump’s Jizya (جزية ترامب ) : First American Emperor of Arabia, First Orange Caliph of Sunni Muslims……..

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Jizya is a term used from the early days of Islam, more than 1400 years ago. It was a form of added tax that non-Muslims paid the Muslim ruler in ancient times. It also meant money paid by weaker neighboring infidel sovereigns to the Islamic Caliphate as a substitute for a ghazwa, or an invasion. A form of tax, or even ransom.

Yesterday, U.S. President Donald Trump got paid a huge Jizya by the Saudi monarchy. Some claim it is to the tune of $460 billion over a period of ten years. More than half the total current value of the Saudi Sovereign Fund which is supposed to make up for future depletion of oil reserves. Much of this money is for the purchase of more weapons and their service contracts, almost certainly including American technical operations and maybe even aiming and launching. So much weaponry for a country with about 16 million citizens (plus about 10 million imported temporary foreign laborers and housemaids and/or quasi-slaves).

No doubt, Mr. Trump (and his family) seem to have made out like a bandit, or should I say he made out like a Saudi prince? The devil, however, is in the details. Just what adventure, if any, has he committed the United States to undertaking. What new war in the Muslim lands, especially in the Persian Gulf have they talked him into promising?

If the Saudi princes are foolish enough to want to repeat their failed Yemeni adventure on a much larger scale in the Persian Gulf. They will no doubt fail again, and more spectacularly so: that has been their record. Then will Trump and his inexperienced foreign policy minions get into another Gulf War to save the princes from their own folly? Another endless war? As they seem to be planning for Yemen now?

Donald, Melania, and Ivanka seem to have conquered the elites of Riyadh, as well as the extremely controlled Saudi media. No wonder, the odds were in their favor, with no Saudi women within sight. They will come home laden with gifts that rightfully belong to the poor of Saudi Arabia (yes, there are many poor people and poor places, shockingly many, that the media cameras did not cover).

So the Arab world now has its first American emperor.  The Sunni Muslim world now has its first orange non-Muslim Caliph. Congratulations to both.

FYI: Many religious Muslims, including many of the Wahhabi sect of Saudi Arabia (the same sect of Al Qaeda and ISIS) will treat this as a new Crusade by what they call infidels. Secular Arabs and Muslims will consider Trump’s new anointment as a return of the old European imperialism of past centuries.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum