Category Archives: Middle East

The Arab Islamic American Summit Comes Up With a Trump Motto: Holy Art of the Deal….

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The Saudi organizers of the so-called Sunni Arab Islamic American (Sectarian) Summit in Riyadh have come up with a website and a logo, sort of.

(My browser told me this website is not safe and would not open it. I’ll say.)

It says :

Historic Summit, Brighter Future
Together We Prevail

Which is rather cheeky, after what I have opined about this exclusively sectarian provocative summit. It will fail in most of the goals it has been set to achieve, whatever they be, except to milk the Persian Gulf Arabs, mainly the Saudis, for a few hundred billion more dollars for Mr. trump’s projects. Expensive weapons, toys that the potentates can’t even use properly: I repeat myself, but their failure against poor Yemen is one example. Maybe there will be more spectacular failures in the near future as they talk Donald Trump and the hawks around him into new wars in the Gulf and the wider Middle East.

I would have the thought the organizers, and their highly-paid American and British lobbyists that devised the logo would do a more accurate job. The logo could say, for example:

Wahhabism, Sectarianism, and Republican Corporate Values:
Together We can Exploit the Swamp and Make America Great Again!

It would also help if they distribute stacks of a new Holy Book of the Summit: free copies of “The Art Of The Deal

I commented on this Sunni-Republican-Royal Summit yesterday in this post here. I will have more comments later….

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Ignorant Abroad: is Trump Encouraging a Foolish Prince to Start a Sectarian War in the Persian Gulf?……..

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“Iran is Salman’s top issue. This month, Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave an interview condemning Iran in extremely harsh sectarian terms. The prince, the king’s favorite son, characterized the Iranian Islamic Republic as being driven by messianic prophecies and determined to dominate the entire Islamic community. He claimed that Iran sought to take control of Mecca from the kingdom. There was no room for dialogue with Tehran, according to his statement. Indeed, the prince promised that the kingdom will fight its war against Iran inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia. He was vague about what that means, but it suggests he supports regime change in Tehran. It was one of the most virulent public attacks on Iran ever by the House of Saud. The royal family is eager for American support against Iran in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. The Saudi leaders face a more skeptical domestic audience. The new Trump administration is widely seen by the public in the Arab world as an enemy of Islam. A poll of Saudis in November showed overwhelming support for Hillary Clinton and only 6% for Trump. There will be no demonstrations against the president in a police state……….” Al Monitor

This past week the Middle East, especially the Persian Gulf region, was pushed closer to a direct sectarian war by a spoiled young Saudi prince. He may have aroused and provoked religious passions that are hard to subdue.

He is the favorite son of Saudi Arabia’s king Salman, also his Defense Minister, Crown Prince to the Crown Prince, and Heir Apparent, among many other royal positions. Not exactly an Arab Kim Jong Un, but: he shocked the Middle East this past week by threatening to wage war on Iran. In effect the Wahhabi prince has threatened to attack Iran, start an unprovoked war. Mainly because the wily Iranians have outsmarted him in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. He is inviting them to outsmart him again, which they might do if history is any guide.

What is worse, the under-educated prince also threw in a scathing sectarian attack on the Shi’a faith itself, mocking it and its followers in general. That includes millions of Arabs and other Muslims. Something Iranian leaders never do to other Muslims or people of any other “major” faith, not even to Wahhabis, at least not in public. He is almost setting the stage for a region-wide sectarian war that he seems to believe Donald Trump will support. A foolish notion: the United States should stay out of it.

This happened soon after his visit with Donald Trump at the White House, which smells fishy to many people in the region. Some independent Arab media claim it is part of a plan hatched in Washington. Iran has only threatened to wage war if attacked or threatened first. Which makes the prince’s threats odd, given that Saudi Arabia can’t even defeat poor under-armed Yemen, even with heavy American and British logistical and intelligence support.

The Iranian strategy has been defensive for almost two centuries. They don’t have access to the sophisticated Western warplanes and the Western support personnel that the Saudis have. But then they did not have access to the fancy weapons Saddam Hussein had when he attacked them in 1980 (with Saudi help), and they won that war. They have been under an American siege of several decades; they still are, regardless of the Nuclear Deal. Their deterrence depends heavily on air defense systems and, very important, on a huge arsenal of home-made advanced missiles that can retaliate by taking the war to the enemy.
That explains their attachment to missiles, not the desire to attack Europe or North America as Netanyahu and some of the Arab potentates and their lobbyists claim to the West.


The Iranian foreign minister (Zarif) answered the Saudi prince’s threat of an aggressive war by talking calmly of a peaceful resolution. But the Iranian defense minister answered with a strong warning that no Saudi city will be safe if they attack Iran. He excluded the holy cities of Mecca and Medinah.

So if the Saudis start an air attack with their expensive American toys, expect all their royal princes and princesses to be huddled in the only safe places in the kingdom: Mecca and Medinah. An enforced terrifying version of the Umrah pilgrimage.


Question is: does anyone around Donald Trump know the kind of sectarian passions this prince has stirred? Does Trump really want to get involved in this new Wahhabi religious war? Does he know what it is all about? Are those around him foolish enough?

Ich weiss nicht…..

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

France Elects a New Traveling Weapons Salesman: Emmanuel Macron Wins……..

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Emmanuel Macron, the candidate of the French and European establishment has won the French presidency. He is sort of like a French Clinton, policy-wise.
Here is my prediction as to what he will do for the Middle East (especially the stagnant Arab World):
M. Macron, will act like all his recent predecessors. He will act like other European leaders, from Britain to Germany. Like Donald Trump will do later this month. Macron will become just another traveling salesman, heading to Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and other relatively well-heeled Arab capitals. No, not to solve regional problems, no more than Theresa May, Hollande or Donald Trump have done. He will be peddling weapons that keep the wars in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen going. Weapons that may start new wars in the Middle East and especially in the Persian Gulf.
Welcome to the Élysée Palace, M. Macron. The new French Traveling Salesman of Weapons, another peddler of death….

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Image Problem of Arab Regimes: from Incredibly Mediocre to Incredibly Criminal……..

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“DUBAI: An Arab News panel discussion held on Tuesday proposed solutions to the Middle East’s image problem in the West, as new research emerged illustrating the severity of the US “knowledge gap” about the region. The panel, held at the Arab Media Forum in Dubai, detailed the importance of cultural diplomacy, effective government communication and the importance of student exchange programs in boosting awareness…….” Arab News (Saudi)

Sometimes I suspect that the ruling Arab oligarchs can never learn. In fact I am convinced that they can never learn about some issues. So many of these media events are staged, all blaming outsiders (the West) for the lousy image Arabs have.
I’ve got news for them, but I suspect they already know: the blame lies squarely with the Arab ruling classes. They are almost uniformly oppressive. At best these ruling classes are incredibly mediocre, at worst they are incredibly criminal (including many regimes perceived as being allies of the West).

So this panel, and many other events before it and after it, all seek ways to to improve the “image” of Arabs in the world. Meaning to improve the image of Arab regimes: the potentates, princes, and dictators. Arab regimes, mostly corrupt and repressive, confuse the image of their countries with their own image.
Such staged media events are part of a “real” and not just perceived Arab problem. The “image” is bad because the “reality” as imposed by the ruling oligarchs is bad. Staged media events or highly-paid lobbyists in Washington and London cannot hide the reality.
Arab regimes and their controlled media want to change the image without changing the reality. Getting rid of the symptom will not cure the illness. Morphine makes the pain go away but only for a while. The disease outlasts the patient if a serious “cure” is not applied.


How about ending the wold-class repression and corruption: that should go a long way towards improving the “image” of Arab oligarchs.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

A Doctor’s Military Strategy Advice: Declare Victory and Get Out……..

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I visited my specialist doctor on Monday. Part of a regular annual summer follow-up, but I had moved it up to an earlier date based on some family advice. After a thorough check-up, the doctor said that I was doing well, that he was not sure why I had moved the date up so soon.

Before I started to blame some outside advice, he told me: “You are winning not losing, but that is for now. It is your chance: just declare victory and get out!
I told him it sounded like great advice, that I will try to advise others to do the same. And I quickly got out of his office.


Hear that Mr. Trump? Just declare victory in some of the intractable stupid Middle East wars (Yemen, Syria…. ) and get out, while still ahead. Don’t listen to the advice of your hawks and chickenhawks: one more war just around the next bend will not solve it all. Be like a surgeon: end it all, make that your strategy since your staff don’t seem to have any other.


(Remember, Donald: Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger tried to solve the Vietnam War by expanding it into Laos and Cambodia. They blew it. Gave us the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge, and three Asian defeats instead of one. So, keep that in mind).

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

World Elections: Mother of All Germans, a French Pied-Noir, and a Persian Carpet Weaver…….

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European elections coming up. France this month will choose between Marine Le Pen, considered an anti-EU rebel, and Emmanuel Macron, the candidate of the elites and the French establishment. Britain will vote in snap parliamentary elections the Conservative Tories hope to win. German elections coming up as well, with Angela Merkel (Mother of All Germans) facing snapping opponents.

I am not sure who will win, but I have my own odds (all odds are risky given the American elections last November). But I know one thing: British, French, or German winners will all pack a suitcase at some point and head to the Middle East region. No, not to perform the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimage. Each will be eager to sell more weapons and other goodies than the other Europeans. Even the Marxist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, had he won, would also fly to Riyadh or Abu Dhabi peddling weapons and other goods. An intense rivalry among the three big European powers over Arab markets. Forget about human rights. Most European leaders are traveling salesman, although Merkel may be less of one.

Which reminds me: Iran is having its own elections for president. It looks like it could go either way. The U.S. Congress (both parties) and the Democrat bureaucrats in the Obama Administration have made sure that the economic benefits of the Nuclear Deal are minimal to the Iranian people. President Hassan Rouhani could lose the election to hardliner Mohammad Ghalibaf (his name in Persian means ‘carpet weaver‘). Either way it will be close. But don’t expect either one of these Iranians, or whoever else wins, to fly around the region selling weapons to the potentates.


Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Marx, Bonaparte, and the New American Opiate of the Masses: Foreign Wars, Muslim Wars………

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More than a hundred and fifty years ago, a very hairy European, a German Jew-ish man, opined succinctly that “Religion……. is the Opiate of the People (Masses)

No, Marx was not thinking of ISIS or the Arab Wahhabi version of Islam. They say he was critiquing some thoughts of Hegel. He was not even a Zionist. Hardly anybody thought of our native Middle East region in those days, although Napoleon Bonaparte paid a very long visit and the crafty British trolled him across the Mediterranean, just to make sure he wasn’t having too much fun. He wasn’t, knowing that Josephine was otherwise occupied in Paris.

In those days, nobody from outside even wanted Holy Jerusalem anymore, except maybe some insecure Jews huddled in their Russian or Polish shtetls.

Now, with religion waning everywhere except in the Middle East and in the Red Flyover States of the United States, we can ask: “What is the new opiate of the people?

Are foreign wars the new opiate of the masses now? I mean officially and with widespread general acceptance? I mean as a political tool of any administration that fails to achieve progress in its domestic agenda? I mean in the United States over the past few years and especially from this year on? I mean especially for this new Trump administration that seems lost in the translation between conflicting domestic economic promises and the availability and expediency of foreign adventurism?

Are Arab and Muslim lands now the silent unspoken scapegoat and the excuse for domestic economic and other failures of any American administration?
You betcha…..

At least this seems to be the case…..


Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Kissing It in Arabia: Saudis Discern a Trump ‘Axis of Adults’, or is it an ‘Axis of Kissers of Trump’s Rump’?………

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“Trump’s ‘Axis of Adults’ sends powerful messages to Iran. In Washington, they call them the “Axis of Adults” — Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, National Security Adviser Herbert McMaster, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Nikki Haley, the ambassador to the UN. These are the pillars of the Trump-Pence administration, if not the pillars of the state. Other influential stakeholders exist. There is the wing led by Jared Kushner, son-in-law of the president, which includes his Wall Street friends Gary Cohen and Dina Habib Powell, who is deputy national security adviser. There is also a rival wing led by Donald Trump’s top adviser, the hawkish Steve Bannon. The so-called Axis of Adults has taken advantage of the tension between the two in the White House to make inroads into Trump’s heart and mind………” Arab News (Saudi)

First time I read, or hear, about “Trump’s Heart and Mind”. Didn’t know he had either. Now that is ‘kissing it’ creatively, Saudi style…..
“How do I dish thee out, oh journalistic rubbish?…..
Let me count the ways……..”

When it comes to hypocrisy towards potentates or towards a new US president, nobody can do it like Saudi semi-official media. Networks (Alarabiya), Newspapers (Asharq Alawsat, Al-Hayat), English Dailies like Arab News. All owned by princes and potentates. They hire the best, most sycophant media writers, mainly Lebanese but also other Arabs.
A few months ago Donald Trump was a pariah in Arab media. They thought their old pal Hillary Clinton will win and Trump was royally trashed in their controlled media. It is quite a different story now. Trump has been transformed into a genius. He hasn’t been elevated to the ranks of the Early Muslim Pioneers, the Sahaba, yet. But watch out!

How does an Axis of Kissers of Trump’s Rump sounds? That is what it is, but British prime minister Theresa May actually beat them to it last January. In front of a hundred cameras at the White House.


Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Imagine If You Can: a Bloody Middle East Science Day…….

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Today is Science March Day. All over the world people are meeting in solidarity with science. You’d think there is no need for a “day of solidarity” with science now. But we’ve come a long way backward, back to Ante Ante-Bellum, Ante-Galileo, Ante-Newton’s Laws, Ante Kennedy’s pledge to go to the Moon.

Science is being celebrated everywhere in the world, almost. Except for the Middle East. In some Arab capitals, and possibly in Turkey, imagine if you can that a bunch of enthusiastic young men and women gathered in city squares. They gathered for Science Day, not to push for the Sharia implementation, and not to denounce Wahhabism, and not to call for elections and free speech and an end to corruption. That would have been too much. They gathered just to celebrate Science Day, just imagine that if you can.

That is what could have happened from Riyadh to Cairo to Istanbul. That is what may have happened, had the young people decided to follow the example of their colleagues in Europe, Asia, and America. Imagine that if you can.

The dictators and the absolute tribal kings and the robber princes did not understand. To them a crowd is a crowd: a threat to their golden goose. The soldiers and the security goons and the foreign mercenaries, the men who usually crash down doors at dawn, acted on orders. In broad daylight. On this Science Day, Science watered the city squares with blood. Imagine that if you can, because you should.

Why is it that only Arabs, and some Muslims, risk shedding their blood if they publicly gather to celebrate Science?

Allies, indeed……

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Pax Americana and Endless Conflict: War as Hell, War as Salvation…..

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“War is Hell” : Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman (& possibly others)

 

I saw this on a British website. I think it was a BBC interview:
“Would Labour support military intervention against Assad?

Emily Thornberry (MP) says “Have we learned nothing from Iraq?, Have we learned nothing from Libya?” We need a plan……..”

No, you have learned nothing from Iraq or Libya. It is a good thing the Russians are in Syria to limit your folly. They will keep any Western invasion limited, and save the West from another long Muslim war, another folly which the Jihadis can point to as proof that the West is bent on a “new Crusade”. More Muslim wars waged by the West lead to more terrorist recruitment by the Jihadis.

Two extended new wars are looming over Washington now: one in Yemen to save Saudi nuts from the fire of their own miscalculation, the other in Syria.There may be one or two more beside those, if the mad Neocons have their way. The post-war Pax Americana is now a tragedy of senseless endless war extending from Pakistan to the African Sahel.

Amazing how any president with questionable legitimacy and scandals hanging over him quickly thinks of a foreign war. An easy way to divert attention. The American mainstream media is always willing to accommodate. Who said war is hell? War is often a salvation of a faltering leader.

Once I advised about the next time Western powers feel the need for bombing someone. Please pick some other region of the world to bomb and invade. Leave Muslims and Arabs to their/our own devices, to sort out their own mess. Just bomb someone else, bomb Burma or anyone else. Just leave our region alone. You have done enough to screw it up in the past 100 years…

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum