Al-Qaeda and other Salafis never cared about the Palestine issue, at least not publicly. Salafis are too obsessed with killing “the infidel” and with worshipping living, well-paying, kings to worry about the thorniest problem of our region. During the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon, al-Qaeda and other Salafis joined the absolute tribal Arab monarchs in siding, nearly openly, with the Israelis against the Lebanese.
Now Hamas, a somewhat milder, even gentler, fundamentalist organization, never a friend of al-Qaeda, comes out condemning the killing of the Salafi master terrorist and mass murderer. They sure know how to shoot themselves in the foot.
“Que veut cette horde d’esclaves What do they want this horde of slaves
De traîtres, de rois conjurés? Of traitors and conspiratorial kings?
Pour qui ces ignobles entraves For whom these vile chains
Ces fers dès longtemps préparés? These long-prepared irons?
Français, pour nous, ah! quel outrage Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage
Quels transports il doit exciter? What methods must be taken?
C’est nous qu’on ose méditer It is us they dare plan
De rendre à l’antique esclavage! To return to the old slavery!……” La Marseillaise
Iranian sources report that the dispute (s) between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the conservative clergy led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei continues. Apparently Ahmadinejad has his supporters among some parliamentarians and within the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). Two recent developments highlight this dispute: (1) the removal of Mr. Mashaie as chief of presidential staff and (2) the removal then reinstatement of the minister of intelligence. Mr. Mashaie is a suspect among the more conservative clergy and politicians: he has been accused of pushing Iranian nationalism and culture over the Islamic identity (probably a good election position among mullah-weary urban Iranians). The minister of intelligence (Mr. Moslehi) was forced to resign by Ahmadinejad but the more powerful Khamenei has reinstated him. Some exile media report that Ahmadinejad has been boycotting cabinet meetings since the reinstatement of Moslehi.
Mr. Mashaie is almost certainly the favorite choice of Ahmadinejad to run for president in 2013 when he has to step down. He will have a hard time now if he decides to run. He may get approval from the clergy to run, but his chances depend on who, if any, is running on the reform or ‘opposition’ side. It looks like that after the Khatemi experience and the 2009 election dispute, the senior clergy may vet potential candidates more carefully. That would insure the election of a conservative president but it would also increase the pressure among young Iranians yearning for change and more freedom.
A year or two ago, silent docile Arab peoples looked at the Iranians protesting in the streets and wondered: why not, why not us? Just as they did during the Iranian revolution in 1978-79. Now the Arabs are having their revolutions, with the reactionary Arab forces led by the al-Saud and their allies trying to stop and subvert them. Now the Iranians may start wondering as they look at the Arabs: why not, why not us, again?
“Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Monday that there is no difference between the uprising against tyranny in Bahrain with other Arab countries such as Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia or Libya. The Leader, who was addressing a large group of people in Mashhad in the first day of Noruz (the Persian New Year), said this claim that Iran is supporting the Bahrainis because they are mostly Shia is absolutely false. Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran has been supporting the Sunni Muslims in Palestine over the past 32 years and this shows that Iran makes no difference between Shias and Sunnis. The Leader said those who are trying to interpret the Bahraini people’s uprising against despotism as the conflict between Shia and Sunni are in fact doing the “greatest service” to the United States. “Do not turn the anti-despotic movement of a nation into a Shia-Sunni problem,” Ayatollah Khamenei warned. “We will not make a differentiation between Gaza, Palestine, Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia,” the Leader asserted……..” Mehr News (Iran)
I don’t agree with Khamenei on many issues: the idea of Wilayat Faqih (rule of a supreme cleric), on theocracy, on secularism, on free speech, on the death penalty, and on many other issues.
But this one is different. Apparently Khamenei is pissed (putting it succinctly) that the vast Saudi official media dominating the Arab waves, and its surrogates in the Gulf states, are painting the Bahrain uprising as primarily a Shi’a-Sunni conflict. I happen to agree with Khamenei on this point, as do most Arabs, almost all Arabs, outside the sectarian-divided Gulf region. The rulers of Bahrain and their partners in Apartheid have been using this Shi’a-Sunni rift, enlarging it shamelessly for their own purpose, dividing the region and inflaming it. The Saudis and some other tame and controlled Gulf media have been aiding and abetting this shameful sectarian approach. On this one I agree with Khamenai, even though I disagree on many others.
This CIA entry gives spending on defense programs for the most recent year available as a percent of gross domestic product (GDP); the GDP is calculated on an exchange rate basis, i.e., not in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP).
The UAE has been the second biggest importer of weapons since 2005. This means the al-Nahayan had the world “silver medal”. In the region, the UAE has been the first biggest importer of weapons, i.e. the gold medal. Not sure what they have been doing with all the hardware, since they don’t have enough citizens for all these arms (some 80-85% of the population is composed of Asian laborers and housemaids who are not eligible for military service).
Now there is a new shocker for the UAE, something they did not know: in terms of total defense spending as a percent of GDP they are way down the list. They are number 40! Well below lowly Oman and rival Qatar and the even lowlier Bahrain!
Now the rulers of Abu Dhabi have three choices to catch up: (1) Speed up the purchase of weapons, and that is okay, it means more
bribes commissions for the potentates. (2) Induct many thousands of expatriate workers into the armed forces which would push up military spending at the expense of civilian spending. (3) Find a way to reduce the GDP! I leave that last one to them to figure it out.
Iranian mullahs go bi-polar and worry about the British. They did not say why the British, they never say, but I suspect it is because it is easier to sell “hate the British” than “hate America” to their people. Many Iranians have American relatives now. Maybe some mullahs don’t realize that Churchill is not only out of power, but has been quite dead for almost half a century.
The ruler of Qatar continues to play his cards close to his chest (no problem there, a lot of space), realizing after watching hours of Qaddafi tapes that silence is more than golden. The Emir does get a petition for ‘reform’: I hope he didn’t write it himself, just to make things interesting for his surely bored people (they must feel that the world is passing them by).
Saudi princes had thought they owned the status quo: they had thought their people were winners of the Gold Medal for Conformity. Mufti Shaikh Al Al-Shaikh is so upset he may decide to take another wife (as will his cousin and head of the appointed Shura Council, one of the other Shaikhs Al Al-Shaikh). Friday’s Day of Rage may have fizzled in Saudi, only worked in the Eastern Province (al-A’hsaa, al-‘Hasa: you name it). The sectarian angle plus the loyalist Salafi shaikhs on the payroll plus flooding the streets with security men, carried the day again for the regime. For now.
I am beginning to suspect something about the Saudi people: the princes may be right, and many of them may prefer to see the world pass them by. That is a boring thing these days. I am not sure if it is the case for most of them, yet. Which means that perhaps the Saudi princes deliberately keep their people bored either by doing nothing or by making periodic public statements or by just doing things, anything. Some people are like that: they have a talent for boring their people no matter what they do or don’t do (Iran’s Ahmadinejad has that same talent for boring, but he is not quite as good at it as the Saudi princes, nobody is except for the Abu Dhabi and Bahrain potentates). I recall once watching a news tape of Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, and I had a hard time staying awake, and afterwards I did not remember any important points that he had made, if any. This talent for boring has so far served the al-Saud well, and it may safely get them through this year of revolutions, that and their guns.
The ruling family of Abu Dhabi decide to upgrade: from the world’s second biggest importer of weapons to the world’s first biggest importer of weapons in the world (as their foreign minister Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Bin Sultan al-Nehyan may have said, or maybe not). They may also decide to import a couple of million more Asians, just in case. They are still up there on the boring scale, at least the top few of them.
The King of Morocco, and whoever/whatever of Mauretania, figure that the wind is blowing to the east and they have ample time to get ready. These last two have forgotten about the ripe rotten Algerian fruit that could fall at any time and sweep away Bou-whatishisface and screw up their plans big time.