Category Archives: Middle East

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

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“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?……

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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

Big White Father Does the Umrah: Imam Trump Preps for Saudi Trip by Immersing in Studies of Quran and Hadith……

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The Big White Father is heading to the Middle East to bless the natives this week. And the potentates are excited that finally they can deal with a man who “looks real American”, like a Good White Father should look. A man more willing to accommodate their sectarian agenda than the more clever dark one that preceded him. For a stiff nominal fee, of course.
President Donald Trump is flying to Saudi Arabia this weekend, as I posted earlier. His first official visit abroad since taking office, and it will cost his royal hosts dearly. They are already throwing many billions his way in gratitude for the honor of a visit.

But there may be a catch for Donald: the hosts just might want him to fight a couple of new regional sectarian wars on their behalf (something they tried with Barack Obama and failed). While American courts dismantle his first Executive Order banning Muslims from Muslim countries that are not absolute monarchies and/or big weapons buyers from the West.

Mr. Trump has made Islamophobia acceptable and even cool among a large sector of the U.S. population, especially in certain states that cleaved to him in the elections. He has brought it into the White House. Yet he is chairing a summit of many Muslim and Arab countries whose rulers tend to obey or listen to the Saudi royal commands. A coalition of the willing, the bribed, and the coerced. Now, hold onto your seats when you start the next paragraph.

Mr. Trump is reportedly going to make a speech about Islam!
I assume that means he will delve deep into Islamic Sharia, its evolution, the Five Pillars, and how the Quran and the Prophet’s Hadith form the Islamic Faith and its Culture. How it is also to some extent an extension of the Old and New Testaments. He may try to explain its evolution over the fifteen centuries, from the days of Halima Al-Saadiya and the Prophet Mohammed to the current Ottoman Caliph Erdogan the First (why do I feel that I have left out one or two recent Caliphs?).
Which means he will have to cram for it, and Donald doesn’t seem like a cram-able type of student.

He will no doubt focus on the Orthodox Sunni version of Islam, perhaps more specifically on the Wahhabi sub-sect that dominates in Saudi Arabia and all the mosques and Madrassas it builds to spread its ideology of love and freedom around the world. The same sub-sect that spawned the Taliban, Al Qaeda, AQAP, ISIS, and all the terrorist attacks in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.

As a gesture to his best client princes, those who spend hundreds of billions buying weapons, Mr. Trump might feel characteristically comfortable enough to issue his own Fatwa: that henceforth Wahhabism is the mainstream sect and that it is the closest Muslim faith to Christianity (be it the Las Vegas, New York, or Evangelical version of Christianity).

That in itself should get him more clients for his exports. No doubt his family, kids and in-laws, will make a bundle expanding into the Arabian Peninsula. We might even see a Trump Tower Hotel in the heart of Mecca, catering to faithful pilgrims during the Hajj and the Umrah. Being something of a practical joker, Mr. Trump may even don the Ihram white Toga of the pilgrims and circumambulate the holy Kaaba by special permission, to the serious approval of Their Highnesses the omnipotent Princes.

More on this later…..

Here are a few relevant recent posts of my blog:

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

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