Category Archives: Middle East

Just Who Are the Terrorists? Playing the Field in the Middle East……..

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“Syria: Israel coordinated attack with Islamist militants, giving air support to Nusra assault on Quneitra…… The Syrian army claimed that the Israeli airstrikes coincided with an attack by Islamist militants on the same positions. The Syrian army said it seemed the two attacks were coordinated and that the attack by Israeli military helicopters supported the Nusra Front’s assault on a Quneitra suburb………”  Haaretz (a very lonely Israeli newspaper)

Middle East wars used to be simple clear-cut affairs (with one particular side persistently led by simpletons). Arabs against Israelis. Iraqis against Iranians. Americans against Iraqi Baathists. Saudis against Yemenis.
Now things have become confused and confusing: various parties and regimes and groups two-time or three-time each other. Everybody plays the field now.

Now we have Al Nusra, the local franchise of Al Qaeda reportedly getting some cover from Israeli forces (Arab media and pro-Syrian media have been noting that for months now). Yes, that same Al Qaeda, the one that attacked the USA and killed about 3,000 Americans, to start with (most of the perpetrators were Saudis terrorists). The same Wahhabis that perpetrated the Boston attack, San Bernardino, and Orlando, as well as Paris, Nice, London, Brussels. And the daily attacks in Iraq, Pakistan, and the bombings in Kuwait and Tehran. And more. The same Wahhabis whose clerics have often claimed that Jews are “descendants of apes and pigs“.

Mr. Trump, of course, has a different view of history. He stood in the capital of Wahhabism and pointed his greedy fat finger across the Persian Gulf and declared that the mullahs on Iran are responsible for terrorism in the world.

Like I said, anything is possible in the Middle East these days. Just look at the predicament of Qatar and the GCC.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“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

Price of Protest: Donald Trump’s Terrific Arabian Sectarian Gauleiter of the Death Machine………

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking


“Saudi Arabia should immediately quash the death sentences of 14 members of the Shia community for protest-related crimes, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. The Court of Appeal of the notorious Specialized Criminal Court upheld the sentences in May 2017, after they were handed down a year ago on June 1, 2016, following a grossly unfair trial of 24 Saudi Shia citizens. The Specialized Criminal Court is Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism tribunal. “The rise in death sentences against Saudi Arabian Shia is alarming and suggests that the authorities are using the death penalty to settle scores and crush dissent under the guise of combating ‘terrorism’ and maintaining national security,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch……..”

So, Donald Trump’s Terrific (his word) Sectarian Arabian Death Machine grinds on. His doomed Persian Gulf royal Gauleiter of the chopping block….

As I tweeted last week: if this were some other country, one that would not spend hundreds of billions on weapons imports, the US Congress and the Senate will be passing resolutions. Fox, CNN, and the rest of the media would be headlining, beating the drums of more sanctions. Even David Ignatius would suspend his quarterly Washington Post article in praise of the absolute King and his princes Ayatollahs ….

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

A Tale of Two Miserable Arab Summers: June 1967, June 2017….

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

On June 4 1967, most Arab peoples were expecting a victory over Israel. Or so they were told by their regimes, all of their regimes. Given the size of Israel at the time, an Arab victory and an Israeli defeat would have meant a reversal of 1948, when Israel replaced Palestine. Not completely: Arabs still controlled Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, all of them parts of Mandate Palestine. But the Jordanians who held onto the West Bank and East Jerusalem were not eager to develop a Palestinian entity, and Gaza remained neglected under Egyptian control.
So, on the morning of June 5, 1967, the Israeli Air Force struck, and quickly destroyed Arab air forces. Arab regimes continued to claim their forces were on the outskirts of Tel Aviv even as Israelis were sweeping though Sinai. By afternoon the war was effectively over. Mop up operations secured the Sinai for the second time in eleven years. The Jordanians basically put up a half hearted fight for the West Bank and East Jerusalem (King Hussin must have thought the Egyptian army will hand him the rest of Jerusalem).
The biggest loss of Arab land in modern history took barely more than one day. So much for the vaunted Arab Army of Jordan.

But what is shocking now, looking back, is that even after that huge defeat the Arab world was better of than it is now, June 2017. Fifty years later.

Before June 1967 the Arabs had already lost one war, the war for Palestine. Now we know that the loss of Palestine was the beginning: the Arab states have continued to lose every single war against outsiders. With the exception of Lebanon in 2000 and 2006.
Before 1967 there was hope, pride, exuberance. The Arab world was young, most of it recently independent, some of it getting there. There was hope that it can progress, perhaps unite and improve its lot. Young people were sure, they were certain that they were facing a bright future. Most of the students who came to the West, especially to the United States, looked forward towards to returning home and helping build or rebuild. Most did not think of immigration.

After 1967, with pan-Arab secularism defeated, Wahhabism ran unchecked. Fueled with oil money, it busted out of its Saudi desert homeland and spread its poison through mosques and schools that spread in poorer Muslim lands. This was the ideological and financial basis of Al Qaeda and ISIS/DAESH. It still is.

Fast forward to June 2017. Half a century of defeats, dictatorship, absolute tribal rule, and internal Arab wars. Crowned with the tragedy that Westerners, and some Arabs, thought was an Arab Spring. It turned out to be anything but a spring. All rebellions against exiting order failed, from Bahrain to Yemen to Syria, to Egypt, and North Africa.Those states that succeeded in overthrowing their rulers ended with civil wars.

Now the fate of the Arabs is almost totally in foreign hands. The interactions among the West, Iran, Turkey, Israel, and Russia determine the future. A couple of absolute repressive tribal ruling families dominate domestic Arab politics. Not what the Arabs need just now. They have managed to buy many of the other Arab regimes, and they have possibly bought off the current President of the United States. Ignorant of history, Trump and his British counterpart have given the oligarchs a carte blanche to do what they want, what they can do, in the Gulf and in the rest of the region. They are also giving them all the weapons they need to start new wars and suffer more defeats.

So, here the region stands. Sophisticated expensive American and British weapons in the hands of repressive regimes will not create stability, not for long. Some foolish young prince is bound to start a fire that would engulf the region, just like Saddam Hussein brought on thirty years of warfare.

The hope has faded, and there is hardly any light at the end of the tunnel, regardless of what some well-meaning Western analysts and academics opine.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Fallout of Donald Trump’s Poisonous Middle East Visit to Saudi Arabia……..

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking


Donald Trump‘s Middle East visit was not only the most expensive ever for his Saudi hosts, reportedly to the tune of about $460 billion that they cannot afford. The princes may even be forced later to scale down and stagger payment of some of what many natives consider a “ransom” paid to Trump. If and when the dust from his unfortunate and disastrous visit to the Arabian Peninsula ever settles down. (Already some independent Arab media claim the Saudis are canceling big weapons deals with Turkey, presumably a result of the Trump holdup)

The visit is proving a most poisonous event, one that has raised passionate sectarian tensions to levels that even Al Qaeda and ISIS could not do. Having a world superpower take direct sides in a sectarian conflict largely created by Trump’s new regional allies and urging one side side to “go for it”. That will also prove disastrous for US foreign policy. If the princes are foolish enough to take Trump at his words, they would see his speech as an invitation for them to escalate, with a promise of American collusion and participation in the event of a new war.
(Of course, some of the princes may know, like we do, that Trump is prone to exaggeration, that his word can’t be taken seriously. Hopefully that is the case, but still, so much lethal hardware in the hands of a spoiled young prince….).


First came the accession of King Salman and his rash son. Almost a future reckless Saddam Hussein of the Arabian Peninsula, if the past two years are any indication.

Then enter Donald Trump, whose knowledge of the region is focused on how much money he can extort from the native princes and potentates. An incompetent and greedy Western leader who is after loot: that is how most Arabs and Muslims see him. Regardless of the propaganda headlines of the controlled and royally-owned media of some Gulf GCC states.


Trump‘s Saudi visit was the most poisonous event for the Middle East since the accession of Saudi King Salman and his son, in itself retroactively an event that started the slide towards deeper more open sectarian conflict in the Persian Gulf and the wider Arab World.

The American visitor and his clan were not even out of Riyadh before the fallout from his visit started to poison the air over the Persian Gulf to a degree unprecedented in modern times.

More on this later…..

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

رمضان كريم؟ الاسلام الوهابي يبايع الاهبل ترامب في قمة الرياض الطائفية قائدا للامة و يرفضه الاوروبيون

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking


الاخبل دونالد ترامب اقبح عدو للعرب و الاسلام في تاريخ البيت الابيض، ويود جزء كبير من الشعب الامريكي ان يتخلص من حكمه الفاسد، و قد ينجح في ذلك

في قمة الرياض بايعه الوهابية وبعض القادة المستوردين من افريقيا و مشارق اسيا  تقريبا كخليفة جديد و قائد للامة الاسلامية والعربية، و مدحه مشايخ القصر و باركوا لقمته من على منبر المسجد الحرام ثم دفعوا له جزية اسلامية تاريخية لم ير مثلها لا عمر ابن الخطاب ولا هارون الرشيد.  450 مليار دولار منهوبة من قوت و مستقبل شعوب الجزيرة العربية. و كانوا على وشك يسمون ابنته و زوجته اخوات المؤمنين ووسوسوا له و حرضوه ضد مسلمين اخرين ، كما انه استخدم ذلك لابتزازهم بوعود انتصارات طائفية وهمية لا يستطيع تحقيقها لهم في منطقة الخليج او في العراق او كافة بلاد الشام 

 
ترك ترامب رعيته من العرب الاعراب و شد الرحال الى اسرائيل ثم الى اوروبا و رفض المسيحيين و الملحدين هناك مبايعته، ويبدو انهم  اختاروا امراة المانية قائدة لما يسمى العالم الحر

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

The Fake Facade of Trump’s Saudi Summit Collapses, GCC at War Within Itself………

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

Did Donald Trump stir up a hornets nest during his Saudi visit? Apparently he did: for now we know that all did not go as smoothly as we were told and shown on television.

Strange events erupted as soon as Trump left Riyadh. Reportedly some discord existed from the beginning of the Summit, but they tried to sweep it under the red carpets. All the media propaganda about policy coordination vanished after Trump left with his Saudi money prize. And Iran had nothing to do with it this time! Only the diehards of the discredited ruling family in Bahrain would blame any outsider this time.
Two days after the departure of the Trump Circus from the so-called Arab-Islamic-American Summit all hell broke loose. The carefully presented facade collapsed:
Some countries complained that they were promised by the Saudi foreign minister Adle Al Jubeir that there will be no resolution condemning Iran. There are many Muslim and Arab countries present that have good relations with both sides. Some of them had left Riyadh before the communique/resolution was crafted and issued by allegedly American-Saudi-GCC staff. The Lebanese Foreign Minister openly hinted that Al Jubeir lied to him about that. Countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, the Central Asian Republics, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, a couple of Gulf GCC members, among many others, have close or cordial relations with Iran.

Independent Arab media also report continued disputes during and after the Summit involving other countries. Including Egypt and Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Erdogan of Turkey and Oman downgraded the meeting by sending ministers instead of heads of state. Lebanon’s president and Iraqi Prime Minister did not attend.

American media got the fake news that the Saudis and the Trump team wanted them to hear. That is the fake facade that we saw on CNN, Fox, MSNBC, ABC, etc. A lot of cleverly orchestrated Fake News.

It all collapsed as soon as Air Force One left Riyadh.

Other developments occurred within the GCC itself:
The Bahrain regime decided to storm a Shi’a town, the home of the most senior Shi’a cleric who is currently under arrest and incommunicado. Battles ensued between regime forces/mercenaries and supporters of the opposition. Five young men were shot dead, some wounded, almost three hundred arrested.
Almost simultaneously, a strong war of words and media broke out between Qatar on one side, and the UAE and Saudi Arabia on the other (I consider the Bahrain regime an appendix of the Saudi regime).

The Qatari Emir was quoted saying that some Gulf states practice an extremist form of Islam that encourages terrorism. Guess who he meant by that? Saudi and UAE media blasted the Qataris and blocked Qatari media broadcasts (AlJazeera, etc). The Qatari Emir was also quoted that Iran is not a threat, that it has been reasonable, that there are other more serious threats. Some interpreted this to mean Saudi Arabia.
There has been speculation initially, and some claims, that the Qatari Emir was misquoted, that someone hacked into the media outlets. But that now seems unlikely, for the media attacks continue. This was has been confirmed, as the Saudi-UAE war of words and threats against Qatar continues. Qatar is, of course, an independent country that can craft its own foreign policy without kowtowing to the Saudi princes and their march towards another losing war in the Persian Gulf.

There have been suggestions that the US Central Command should move its regional headquarters from Qatar. Mostly by old American Neocons and those with close Saudi ties.

Stay tuned for more….
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Old Slogan, New Slogan: Assad Hasn’t Gone Yet, but Erdogan Must Go…….

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

Remember when the common slogan in Turkey (and in Washington and among Wahhabi potentates) was: Assad must go?

It has been revived with a lot of Saudi money given to Donald Trump. A few weeks ago Trump discarded the old Assad slogan, but that was before he discovered the joys of Saudi money.


Maybe Assad will go, eventually. Everybody does, something which gives the American people some hope.

But there is a new maniac roaming the Middle East now, repressing his own people, stifling freedom in Turkey. A better slogan now would be: Erdogan Must Go.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Ugly Travelers: Wilbur Ross and His Boss Do Riyadh with No Protests, Is America Doomed?………

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday he was heartened by the absence of even a single protester during President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia over the weekend…… ‘I think the other thing that was fascinating to me, there was not a single hint of a protestor anywhere there during the whole time we were there, not one guy with a bad placard….…”


Wilbur, if you had asked, perhaps even the orange Mr. ED could tell you what is going on.

Why no protests in Riyadh? There are no rights of speech or expression or religion in the Kingdom. But there are many more protesters than you can imagine, but it is all in the heart. Those who did actually protest or would protest or are suspected of possibly thinking of protesting are in prison, in dungeons, being flogged, dead, or in exile.

Oh, and welcome home soon to the land of protests and placards and the First Amendment….. Remember, Mr. Wilbur Al Wahhabi, there are many people who move to the USA because they can protest publicly without being severely punished…..

No, America is not doomed, this is just a nightmare, shameless panderers like Wilbur and his boss are part of a nightmare from which all will wake up soon………

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

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