Category Archives: MENA

Year of Chopping Heads: from Mosul to Oklahoma……

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Suddenly decapitating seems to be ‘in’ (at least in our region and in world media). It is certainly as ‘in’ as slowly and agonizingly, hit-or-miss, experimental injection of poison to death-row convicts in Oklahoma and other states. It is a toss-up which method is more cruel: you never know until you try both, personally. Beheading is probably more cruel; besides, it is happening more frequently. Especially now that the Wahhabi cutthroats (literally) of this Hollywood Caliphate are resurgent in Iraq and Syria.

The Caliphate unceremoniously mows down Yazidis and Shi’as and native non-Wahhabis into mass graves. But it reserves the more ceremonial beheading for Westerners. It is a tough choice: would you rather be mowed down as one more anonymous body among thousands or would you rather be murdered ceremoniously but painfully?
To keep up with the other Wahhabi Abus, the Saudis have also ramped up their beheading state machine. Reports claim they have accelerated the number of public beheadings, that it is close to 50 so far this year, give or take a couple.
Not to be outdone, the Algerian Salafis have gone back to their 1990s civil war practice of beheading hostages. Not to mention reports of the Philippines Abus, Abu Sayyaf (?) resorting to the endearing old practice.
Not to be outdone, some nutcase in Oklahoma just beheaded a co-worker. Oklahomaaaaaaa Okay? Oklahoma that has been worried about the Shari’a Law creeping into its statehouse and legislature and has been dabbling with laws to forestall it.

Odd, how they believe that chopping heads is the ‘Islamic’ way to execute someone. Just because they did it in the old days. What they overlook is that they had no other choice in those days. They did not have guns or hypodermic needles in the seventh century. Everybody chopped heads at that time, be they Muslims or Christians or Vegans. Even Henry VIII did it, even the French reveled in it for a mad brief period.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

UAE Pivoting: Brothers Karamazov to the Shores of Tripoli……..

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“From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea………”
USMC Hymn

“Egypt and the United Arab Emirates were responsible for carrying out two series of air strikes in the past week on armed Islamist factions in Tripoli, Libya, US officials said on Monday. The officials said the two Arab countries used aircraft based in Egypt. Earlier the New York Times reported that the two US allies acted without consulting Washington………..”

If you have a choice between believing Egyptian (and UAE) officials and American officials, whom would you believe? I’d take my chances with U.S. officials, since they are subject to public and media scrutiny (er, ahem, not that they would lie even if they could get away with it). Besides, Egyptian officials are notorious serial liars, possibly the lying-est in the history of the Middle East.

But the United Arab Emirates flexing military muscle in the MENA region (with help from their little man in Egypt)? The private fiefdom of the Bin Zayed Al Nahayan brothers? As someone who is rude and crude (which I am not) would exclaim: the UnitedFuckingEmirates? The funny country that is 87% composed of imported temporary foreigner laborers and reportedly relies on a Blackwater-advised foreign mercenary force of Colombians and White South Africans and Australians and others to keep order? That is a shocker.

The Al Nahayan brothers are pivoting from the Persian Gulf toward North Africa now. They helped mess up Bahrain by joining the Al Saud invasion to crush the popular uprising and prevent the liberation of Bahrain in 2011. They joined up with French pop-philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy and John McCain and NATO bombers to help liberate Libya in the same year. They helped muddy the waters in Syria in 2011 and convert a popular uprising into a Wahhabi-financed and armed Jihadi terrorist campaign. There are some reports of a sisterly role for the brothers in the rise of ISIS and its Caliphate in Iraq and Syria and back to Iraq.
What Mr. Vladimir Putin should worry about now is if the brothers decide to pivot to the Ukraine and maybe seek to liberate the Crimea. Mr. Obama may have to worry about the brothers Al Nahayan pivoting toward the far east, thus complicating his own efforts at pivoting toward the arms of his Chinese business partners and Kim-Jong Un.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Will Netanyahu Visit Riyadh or Will the King do the Ghazwat Jerusalem?……….

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“No, the surprising cooperation and doors that might open to which Netanyahu referred, seems an allusion to key Sunni countries in the region, particularly Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. Just a day before the prime minister’s comments, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah issued a statement read out on Saudi television about the situation in Gaza. Incredibly, Abdullah decried the “collective massacre” in Gaza, but did not pin it on Israel………… Abdullah’s words were real-time proof of what American political scientist Walter Russell Mead wrote last week, that “the battle between Sunni Arabs and Israelis is no longer the most important issue on the table for key Arab governments as well as for Israel……………”


The alliance, I called it a coalition, is in place. It has been forming for some time, it was awaiting the advent of Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi to return Egypt to it. Now that the Egyptian Tahrir Uprising has totally failed: he is in place. The Al Saud and their Al Nahayn sidekicks had wanted Egypt back, which they have now bought back. They have also wanted Iraq back (demographically not possible) and Syria back (their chances were ruined by their Wahhabi militia allies) and Lebanon back (demographically not possible).
A coalition of convenience, between arguably the most democratic (it still is, even with the plight of the Palestinians under occupation) and most aggressively militarized country in the Middle East and two of the least democratic countries in the Middle East, possibly in the world (Saudi Arabia and the UAE).

Egypt is now another traditional Arab military oligarchy, its fate sealed with Al Sisi engineering a victory of 97% out of the few Egyptians who bothered to vote earlier this year. The goal: on the one hand aimed at maintaining the status quo of pre-2011, and on the other aimed at pushing back the eastward expansion of the mullahs away from the Mediterranean.
Don’t expect Netanyahu to land at Riyadh anytime soon: no such invitation is likely. If he did, he might bring along a bunch of lawyers with claims to Jewish property confiscated at Madinah and Khaybar some fifteen centuries ago. The Saudi king is unlikely to fly anywhere other than Morocco, or maybe to some medical facility in the West.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Our Fertile Crescent of Turmoil and Violence: Neither Shi’a nor Sunni nor Wahhabi……


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In our native region, the origins of symbolic crescents go back deep into history. In modern times it makes for some memorable sound bites. From the original Ramadan Crescent we have gone through others. From the Fertile Crescent to Zbigniew Brzezinski‘s Arc (or Crescent) of Crisis of 1978 to the more recent sectarian “Crescents”.

Remember when the “Shi’a Crescent” was the fashionable term among the foreign policy connoisseurs of the West? That was when they talked about a Shia Crescent (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon) and the media picked on it and spread it? That one imploded early in 2011 with the explosion of what became the doomed Arab Uprisings.

Remember when some started to talk of a broad “Sunni Crescent” (Turkey, Qatar, Saudi, GCC, Syrian Opposition, etc)? All these were cute sound bites that sought to summarize and hence (mis)represent the march of events and history across the Middle East. As usual, the sound bites simplified and grossly misrepresented a set of complex situations.

Then there is the more specific “Wahhabi Crescent” that is defined by Saudi Arabia and Qatar at one end (one tip), and by the Jihadist terror groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS and Al-Nusra and the Salafi movements at the other end (the other tip). There is some serious interaction in between. No need to go over Taliban and Boko Haram and their ilk.

What we have now is one huge wide Arc of Sectarian Turmoil and Violence that spreads from the northeastern shores of the Tigris and Euphrates south to Yemen and north up through the Sinai and across the Nile and into Libya. I am not even including the distant peripheral neighbors like Afghanistan and Pakistan and northwest Africa. Now, more than three years after the so-called Arab Spring, we are having the beginnings of a possible regional bloodbath. In some cases like Syria and Iraq and Libya and Yemen it is well advanced, in other cases like Egypt and Palestine-Israel it is somewhat controlled and sporadic. The violence is also nibbling at some other states of the region, like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and Lebanon, threatening to get out of hand.

Oddly, or maybe not, the non-Arab countries and quasi-countries of the region are quite stable, given the storms raging around them. Turkey, Iran, Israel, and even Iraqi Kurdistan have managed to go through non-controversial political processes, in one case with smooth and peaceful leadership change. Yet these same non-Arab countries are deeply involved in the turmoil raging through the eastern part of the Arab world. In some cases feeding it, in others exploiting it. 

Stay tuned………

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Qassem Suleimani: Plotter with Morsi, Drug Smuggler to GCC, Election Manager in Iraq …….

      


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According
to the Kuwait daily Al Qabas Brigadier General Qassem Suleimani has been a master at multitasking over the past few years. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard chief of the Quds Force is reported everywhere from Basrah to Damascus to Cairo. He is quoted extensively in Gulf and Western media, although he has never talked to any of them:

  • Last year when the Muslim Brotherhood were ruling Egypt the newspaper claimed that they sought help from Iran’s Brigadier Suleimani. Morsi was president in Egypt at the time and Al Qabas claimed in a bizarre story that Qassem Suleimani had met a senior Egyptian (Muslim Brotherhood) leader at a famous Cairo hotel. It did not claim they met at a hotel bar over drinks. But where else? 
  • Now we all know Morsi was as sectarian as anyone else in Cairo, as sectarian as any of his former Salafi allies who betrayed him last July. No doubt the purpose of the leak was to discredit the local Muslim Brotherhood (both Kuwaiti and Gulf) and perhaps influence events in Egypt. 
  • Now the same newspaper, which represents the interests of traditional business oligarchs in Kuwait, has a new gem which it claims is based on Saudi and Gulf intelligence sources (as suspect in my book as Iranian and Syrian and Israeli or any other intelligence when it comes to disinformation). Mr. Suleimani is also in the illegal drug business.
  • They report that Qassem Suleimani is now also in charge of a network that prepares and smuggles drugs into the Persian Gulf states. The daily claims that the ‘raw drugs’ are originally shipped through Iraq (according to Saudi and Gulf GCC intelligence agencies) to Syria and Lebanon where they are processed (not clear where the raw materials come from into Iran). Then the final products are presumably shipped from Lebanon all the way to Bandar Abbas, an Iranian port on the Gulf. A hell of a long way to ship drugs, several thousand kilometers through the Suez Canal (or maybe the longer route around Africa?). Why not process the drugs in Iran, or even Iraq, instead of shipping them all the way to Lebanon to be shipped back to the Gulf by sea? Somebody is very stupid here, either the Iranians or the writer for Al Qabas. I pick the Al Qabas writer for the prize.
  • Al Qabas also claims that Suleimani runs the drug operation from Southern Iraq, where he is also managing a campaign to get another term for Nouri Al Maliki as prime minister of Iraq. Imagine that.
  • Now that is true multitasking. Notice how all the countries involved are the “usual suspects”: all either Shi’a majority or plurality or members of a certain camp? I mean Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria?That must be a coincidence, no? 
  • Al Qabas did not say, however, that Qassem Suleimani is also in charge of the Iranian nuclear program and operates execution squads, as well as the Amsterdam Red Light District and the Mexican Drug Cartels (all based on Saudi and Gulf intelligence source). Not yet. But maybe some Saudi prince would hire him to run their family campaign to become king after their next election.
  • All this can be true, of course. Anything is possible these days and not only on paper. But I am not buying it.


Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com


U.S. Senate Goes Knesset, Declares Netanyahu ‘War President’ of America……

      


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“Today the Senate is about to vote Israel a virtual blank check – for war on Iran. Reads Senate bill S.1881: If Israel is “compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” the United States “should stand with Israel and provide … diplomatic, military and economic support to the Government of Israel in the defense of its territory, people and existence.” Inserted in that call for U.S. military action to support an Israeli strike on Iran, S.1881 says that, in doing so, we should follow our laws and constitutional procedures. Nevertheless, this bill virtually hands over the decision on war to Bibi Netanyahu who is on record saying: “This is 1938. Iran is Germany.”……….” Is this the man we want deciding whether America fights her fifth war in a generation in the Mideast? Do we really want to outsource the decision on war in the Persian Gulf, the gas station of the world, to a Likud regime whose leaders routinely compare Iran to Nazi Germany?……………”


Also sprach
Pat Buchanan, one of the few independent voices in U.S. media and politics that does not kneel to AIPAC and to what he has called the “Israeli amen corner”. At issue is independence: the U.S. Congress (both houses) is doing the bidding of the Israeli right-wing prime minister, and acts against the long-term interests of the United States. This bill (S. 1881) would effectively make the Israeli politician the “decider” of war and peace for America.

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com


Ronald Reagan and Obama: Reckless in Beirut, Cautious in Benghazi………

      


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Writing on the Lebanese adventures of Ariel Sharon and the American forces in Beirut and the bombing of the U.S. Marines and French barracks and the embassy in 1983 has reminded me of a more recent event. Three major bombings in Beirut in 1983 killed tens of U.S. diplomats and CIA agents as well as hundreds of U.S. Marines and French soldiers.
Which begs a comparison with the more recent ‘event’ in Benghazi, Libya. The recent battle cry (one of them) of the Republican Party has been: “Benghazi, Benghazi!” Four good men died in Benghazi. Yet in 1983, hundreds of Marines and tens of diplomats and spooks were killed in Beirut. The Marines died because the Reagan administration recklessly inserted them in the middle of the Lebanese civil war, placing their barracks right among the warring confessional and sectarian militias and hereditary warlords of Lebanon.
So, Mr. Obama hears this squawk of: “Benghazi, Benghazi….. Four good men died in Benghazi!” to contend with. Did Mr. Reagan have to face squawks of: “Beirut, Beirut…….Hundreds of good men and women died in Beirut!”?

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com


Saudi-Lebanese Media Calling for the Liberation of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Gaza, and Iran…………..

      


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“Acting US Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo, who chairs the Security Council for the current month, and British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant spoke in strong terms and presented the kinds of violations of UN Security Council resolutions Iran had committed. Yet they did not put forward any measures, draft resolutions, or additional steps regarding such serious violations of resolutions issued under Chapter VII of the UN Charter –out of fear of the dual veto, according to Washington and London. This is in itself horrifying because it means that Moscow, Tehran, Beijing, Damascus, and Hezbollah have succeeded at subjecting the United States and Britain and frightening them through the Russian-Chinese veto. To be sure, it is unconvincing for the Obama administration to suffice itself with mere rhetoric, stating, as did DiCarlo, that there was a “steady of flow of Iranian arms, military support, advisors, and training to groups in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen, Iraq and beyond” and that “[the Security] Council must tackle with renewed urgency [the issue of such] Iranian military assistance”. Thus, without practical steps to follow such an important discourse, the implicit American decision seems to be to submit to the de facto situation, in order to avoid confrontation with Iran, or with Russia and China…………………”

This chick writes for Saudi daily Al-Hayat, the newspaper of Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al-Saud. She is often unhappy, nay pissed, with the Western powers for not doing the exact bidding of her Al Saud masters (I get pissed with them because I often think they do the Al-Saud prince’s bidding). She is especially pissed with Western powers for not invading and liberating Syria now, for not re-invading and re-liberating Iraq, not invading and liberating Lebanon, and especially for not invading and liberating Iran from itself and its history. Nobody mentions the liberation of Egypt anymore, assuming that Egypt has already been re-liberated from the Muslim Brotherhood and is in the camp of the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi and UAE media have many Lebanese writers. I wouldn’t be surprised if Saad Hariri or Fouad Saniora start a regular column in al-Hayat or Asharq Alawsat (the latter owned by Crown prince Salman). The goal? You got it: to get the West to invade and liberate Syria, Lebanon, Iraq (again), Gaza, and Iran.

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com




War of Terror: Yemeni Chopper Pilot Lands at Edgeware Road to Buy Qat………………

         


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Yemeni Pilot Lands Jet to Buy Qat (Gat). Report tells of a Yemeni air force pilot who needed some Qat (Gat) to chew urgently. he needed to get high. So, he landed his military helicopter in a village, seeking to get some of the chewable drug (apparently every Yemeni village, block, and street, has its own dealers). This scared the hell out of the villagers in South Yemen, used to drones, planes, trains, and everything else bombing them whenever more than 5 people gather together. Based on the suspicion that they might be Yemenis or just a wedding party that might include some wayward American youth.
Anyway, the pilot found what he needed near a gas station, purchased it, and flew away. Back to his mission of making the Middle East safe and secure for the American and the Saudi ways of life (Yemenis can multitask like that, have been doing it for some time).
I recall the Qat was once easy to import into Britain. I heard that some Arab shops on Edgeware Road in London used to sell them. The Brits thought it was just some kind of an herb like mint (it was for a while, until they banned it because it was taking business away from the nearby pubs).

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com