Category Archives: Middle East

American Politics: Yellow Rose of Texas to the Borders of Mesopotamia and Persia……….

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Yellow Rose of Texas

“There’s a yellow rose in Texas that I am gonna see
Nobody else could miss her, not half as much as me
She cried so when I left her, it like to broke my heart
And if I ever find her we never more will part
She’s the sweetest little rosebud that Texas ever knew
Her eyes are bright as diamonds, they sparkle like the dew
You may talk about your Clementine and sing of Rosa Lee
But the Yellow Rose of Texas is the only girl for me

Where the Rio Grande is flowin’, and starry skies are bright
She walks along the river in the quiets of her night
I know that she remembers when we parted long ago
I promised to return and not to leave her so
She’s the sweetest little rosebud that Texas ever knew
Her eyes are bright as diamonds, they sparkle like the dew
You may talk about your Clementine and sing of Rosa Lee
But the Yellow Rose of Texas is the only girl for me………(Mitch Miller version)

Watched bits of the weekend Republican debate-acles in New Hampshire. Texas governor Rick (Boots on the Ground) Perry, who apparently has a lot missing upstairs, is promising to return to Iraq. The governor will now join John McCain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and a gaggle of Republican saboteur-senators in re-invading Iraq. (The proper conservative way to say it is Eyeraq: Iraq sounds suspiciously foreign and liberal and even wishy-washy European).
They want to re-invade Eyeraq in order to keep Eyeran, the evil enemy du jour, out. So these senators and the governor will set up camp in al-Anbar or Diyali or Baghdad and try to proselytize, convert the former Ba’athists and current Shi’as to the joys of free unfettered unregulated unaccountable jungle markets of the sort that gave us the crash of 2008 and the ongoing lousy economy. Each will give their own version, be it the outlier convert right-wing Catholicism (Gingrich), outlier-er weird twilight-zone Catholicism (Santorum), Baptism (Boots-on-the-Ground Perry), WTF hybrid Christianity (John McCain), and the violent settler version of Judaism (Lieberman).
I wish them the worst of luck in staying at their new outpost in Eyeraq. I would also continue to urge them to make tat pilgrimage to the Eyeraq-Eyeran border, dip a few toes on the other side of the border, tease the scowling mullahs to make a grab. The ayatollahs may wish to powwow, have speaks, parley, chew the fat, shoot the breeze, with them on regional issues. In the warm privacy of the notorious Evin in the heart of Tehran.

(Something about Texas is not kosher, has bothered me in recent years. How come one of the biggest richest states with great universities and many good people, a state that elected Lyndon Johnson, now elects such a fuckhead as governor? Oh, and Texas has produced some of the greatest folk songs).
Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Amnesty & NDAA, AIPAC-USA and the Middle East………….

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“Despite expressing serious reservations, the Obama administration has paved the way for legislation that will authorize indefinite detention. The bill places enormous power in the hands of future Presidents, and the only answer the President has is to say “trust me.” “Once any government has the authority to hold people indefinitely, the risk is that it can be almost impossible to rein such power in. President Obama has failed to take the one action – a veto – that would have blocked the dangerous provisions in the NDAA. In so doing, he has allowed human rights to be further undermined and given Al Qaeda a propaganda victory.”……… Amnesty International


He said,Trust me”: famous last words? . Yet will he be in power a year and two weeks from now? Or will it be the Likudniks and Salafis of the Republican Party?
Mr. Obama is increasingly offering the people who supported him a ‘sort of’ Hobson’s Choice: accept this thing as it is or just live with it as it is. The Obama administrations is more like the Kadima of Ariel Sharon and Tzipi Livni as compared to the Likud of Netanyahu and Yisrael Beitenu of Lieberman (Avigdor not Joe). It has to show that it is as “tough” as the hardliners by bowing and buckling to the hardliners, which makes it seem not so tough after all.
For the Middle East it is like the difference between the frying pan and the fire since both American parties have contracted out (the term du jour is outsourced) their Middle East foreign policy to Netanyahu, Lieberman, and the Israeli Likud coalition.
The next U.S. president may be the first ever to nominate a political lobbying organization for secretary of state: AIPAC.
Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Funny US Anti-Terror Policy: Today the Taliban, Tomorrow Hezbollah and Hamas?…………..

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After 10 months of secret dialogue with Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents, senior U.S. officials say the talks have reached a critical juncture and they will soon know whether a breakthrough is possible, leading to peace talks whose ultimate goal is to end the Afghan war. As part of the accelerating, high-stakes diplomacy, Reuters has learned, the United States is considering the transfer of an unspecified number of Taliban prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay military prison into Afghan government custody. It has asked representatives of the Taliban to match that confidence-building measure with some of their own. Those could include a denunciation of international terrorism and a public willingness to enter formal political talks with the government headed by the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai. The officials acknowledged that the Afghanistan diplomacy, which has reached a delicate stage in recent weeks, remains a long shot. Among the complications: U.S. troops are drawing down and will be mostly gone by the end of 2014, potentially reducing the incentive for the Taliban to negotiate. ………

Interesting: the Taliban hosted al-Qaeda and were part of the September 11 attacks that killed thousands of Americans and disrupted the economy and politics of the country. They have been at war with the United States for years and they support terrorism in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and in other places. They have been responsible for many more American dearth.
Hezbollah and Hamas have never tried any terror attacks inside the United States. Their attacks were almost always confined to the Lebanese Israeli Palestinian theater, with possibly one or two reported minor exceptions that were not against the United States. They both represent either a majority or a plurality of the people in their respective countries. Hamas won a clear majority of Palestinian votes the last time they had elections, despite the nonsense Secretary Clinton talks about the PLO being a “legitimate government”.
Yet the United States is ‘negotiating’ with the even more fundamentalist Salafi Taliban, the partner in September 11 attacks. Not a single Republican or Democrat politician objects to that. Not even the right-wing. Yet any hint of an approach to Hezbollah or Hamas would cause a twin earthquake and volcano in the country. You wanna know why? It is one word, a six-letter word “Israel”. Or maybe it is a four-letter word: “Iran”.

Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Egypt Going Back to the Future: New and Old Middle East…….

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A 24-year-old man died tonight at Qasr El-Eini hospital in Cairo after suffering a severe drop in blood pressure and heart failure after allegedly being tortured by prison officials. Essam Ali Atta Ali was serving a two-year prison sentence in the maximum security ward at Tora Prison after being prosecuted in a military court on 25 February in relation to the illegal occupation of an apartment. According to the victim’s cellmates, prison officials sought to punish Ali after catching him smuggling a mobile SIM card into the ward. Prison officers reportedly pushed hoses into Ali’s mouth and anus, causing severe bleeding. Ali’s brother told media that he saw his brother’s corpse at the hospital and it exhibited signs of serious injuries. According to several media reports, an officer from Tora Prison left Ali at the hospital as he lay in a critical condition. Attending physicians immediately noticed liquid secretions emanating from Ali’s mouth and suspected foul play. In the late hours of Thursday, MD Aida Seif El-Dawla of El-Nadeem Centre for the rehabilitation of victims of torture, broke the news of Ali’s death to the public through Facebook and Twitter. She called on activist lawyers to support a traumatised family in their quest for answers. Ali’s mother told media that her son was a victim of police brutality and that she will not rest until his killers are brought to justice………


Is Egypt going back to the future?
The military
trials for civilians, arrest of bloggers, and torture continue, proving that the new Egypt is not much different from the rest. The SCAF junta is writing its own constitution for the country. It looks like Egypt is back into the camp of Arab moderates of the New Middle East again. Trials of civilians in military courts, arbitrary arrests and torture are nothing new in our region: both moderate and radical regimes have used them extensively. From Tehran to Riyadh to Manama and Cairo and Damascus, and a few other places. They all imprison and torture and execute and exile. The only difference is that some are called republics and others are called monarchies; some are allied to the West others are hostile to the West.

Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Insanity Joins Stupidity and Greed: Republicans and the Mother of All Middle East Wars, new Pearl Harbor………

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Insanity combined with intelligence can be
defined as “genius” in some cases. Insanity combined with stupidity can
be defined as “Republican candidate” these days.
Me

Saturday’s Republican debate, sponsored by CBS and the National Journal, revealed a Republican field that is promising war on Iran and a revival of the use of torture, as well as horrible relations with the new governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya (according to Herman Cain, they have gotten “out of hand,” and he and Gingrich want to deal with them by supporting a muscular Christianity)………. The only adults in the room were John Huntsman and Ron Paul, who have no realistic chance of being the standard-bearer. They denounced water-boarding as torture and generally punctured the warmongering of the others. But it is shameful that potential US presidents are even talking about torturing people and launching wars of aggression………..These people just like the idea of war. War is good for munitions firms and security firms, who give a lot of money to Republican candidates. They’re actively looking for a war. It is good for business, for them……….Juan Cole

These people must be a mix of insane and/or stupid, most likely a combination of both. Insanity combined with intelligence can be defined as “genius” in some cases. Insanity combined with stupidity can be defined as “Republican candidate” these days. (One exception is John Huntsman and maybe Ron Paul to some extent). It is like watching an old film reel of the rise of fascism and Nazism in Europe. Minus the beer halls and minus the brownshirts and blackshirts. Is Iran the new Czechoslovakia? Or is it the new Poland? How about Danzig and the Persian Gulf Corridor? Or will it be a Pearl Harbor in reverse? After all, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor for ‘nearly’ the same reasons these candidates want to attack Iran.
Cole is also right: maybe these people are smart after all. There is a lot of money to be made by corporations in a war. On the backs of the American people, who will see their services deteriorate as the deficit grows to a few trillion more from a possible “Mother of all Middle East Wars”.

Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

A Favorable Exchange Rate: Palestinians for One Israeli……….

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A new report on the conditions of Palestinians jailed in Israel says that since the Shalit prisoner transfer deal last month, the situation has improved little, leaving many to wonder if it was a bad bargain. A report recently published from the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners Affairs stated that improved conditions for Palestinians in Israeli jails agreed on in the swap deal freeing Israeli IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, are not being implemented. The report noted that 60 prisoners in Ashkelon jail have been banned from buying goods from the prison store for two months and have also been denied family visits for more than one month. The prisoners are withheld higher education, room raids are commonplace and beatings from prison administration often occur, the report said………..

I don’t know: releasing over a thousand Palestinians for one scrawny Israeli soldier seems like a good deal for the Palestinians. It even almost seems like a good deal for the Israelis too, apparently since they had only one captive. An exchange rate of 1 : 1000 is steep, and it is not necessarily good for the Palestinians to exchange, say, 2000 of their own for one scrawny Israeli soldier. It has certain unfortunate implications of human valuation: if some think one scrawny Israeli is worth more than one thousand Palestinians, maybe two thousand. There is no way to go around this. On humanitarian grounds, both sides gained by getting their captive people back.

Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Is Condi Rice as Smart as Henry Kissinger? Iraq, Iran, and Indochina……………

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Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Monday that it’s time for the United States to confront Iran, and that it should never take the military option off the table, in an ABC interview with Christiane Amanpour. “I think it’s time to confront the Iranian regime because It’s the poster child for state sponsorship of terrorism, it’s trying to get a nuclear weapon, it’s repressed its own people. The regime has absolutely no legitimacy left. We should be doing everything we can to bring it down and never take military force off the table,” she said.
In addition to keeping the military option open, Rice pointed to “even tougher sanctions” as a means of confronting the Islamic Republic…………Rice also commented on plans for the United States to withdraw its troops from Iraq this year, noting that, “This is one of the downsides of having our forces out of Iraq, because we can confront the Iranians in Iraq.” ………….”

I am beginning to think that Condi Rice is almost as smart as Henry Kissinger, almost. Kissinger had a brilliant solution for the United States to stop losing the Vietnam War: escalate into Cambodia and Laos. Brilliant move: within four years the Communists were in power in South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.
So Rice wanted the Obama administration to keep forces in Iraq to “confront Iran”. I assume she doesn’t mean having a few thousand American boys and girls sitting targets in a hostile environment. Maybe she would also agree to leave Palo Alto and go to Iraq to advice the troops she wants to remain in harm’s way. maybe Messrs Romney and Gingrich and Perry and some of the airwaves gasbag warriors will volunteer go go with her.

Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Arab World: Ottomans and Persians, Turks and Iranians………….

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Once friends, Turkey and Iran are finding that their reactions to the Arab Spring revolutions are driving them apart and renewing an old regional rivalry. One sign of the deepening divide was obvious from the attendee list for an international conference on Afghanistan security that opened today in Istanbul. Every primary player is here: 14 regional nations, with the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan in attendance, as well as more than a dozen other countries, including the United States. But Iran had planned to send just its low-ranking deputy foreign minister, despite its long border with Afghanistan and claims of being a regional superpower. While Iran relented at the last minute and sent Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, the diplomatic tension indicates how the people-power uprisings have helped transform the Turkey-Iran friendship into an escalating rivalry. So far, analysts say, Turkey appears the winner in pushing for secular, democratic outcomes …………..

It almost looks like that old rivalry that was fought on territory extending from the Caspian Sea to Mesopotamia. Eventually the Turks ended up with what is now Iraq as well as the rest of the Arab East (it was mainly Iraq they fought over and kept winning and losing to each other).
There is no doubt that the Arab uprisings have enhanced the Turkish role in the Middle East. The Arab uprisings have also sharpened the contrast between the Turkish model and the Iranian one. Many more Arabs now look toward Turkey, a NATO member, as an example. Perhaps it is the comparison between the elected Turkish leaders and their own thuggish Arab dictators and absolute tribal kings. It is also partly the contrast between Turkish leaders and the inarticulate Iranian clergy who come across as repressive (mainly because they are repressive). The Turks have also benefited from moving away from their “former” Israeli friends in recent months. Either way the Turks have benefited from the Arab uprisings, for now.
The Iranians are on the defensive mainly because their system of government is not nearly as free and democratic as the Turkish one. They have also suffered partly as a result of a furious Saudi sectarian media campaign that has continued since the Iraqi elections of 2005. The Saudi dynasty rules Arab airwaves, or most of them. That Saudi campaign has not only been aimed at the Iranian regime: more ominously it has also targeted Arab Shi’as and poisoned relationships within many societies on the Persian-American Gulf.

Cheers
mhg


Condi Rice: a Shower for a Lebanese President, Raunchy Photos with Qaddafi………

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The book recounts her signature diplomatic ventures, including a landmark nuclear accord with India salvaged in a last-minute negotiation and a Middle East peace initiative that came achingly close to bringing Israelis and Palestinians together. She also bluntly assesses foreign leaders. Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, “looked as though he was on drugs.” After shaking hands with President Émile Lahoud of Lebanon, she writes, she felt as if she needed a shower. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt rejected reform, saying, “Egyptians need a strong hand, and they don’t like foreign interference.” As for Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya, who was killed Thursday after a revolution, Ms. Rice adds details about his well-known “eerie fascination with me.” She writes that he made a video showing pictures of her while a song called “Black Flower in the White House” played. “It was weird,” she writes, “but at least it wasn’t raunchy.”……….”

“Raunchy” is like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. Old Colonel Qaddafi was quite a raunchy old man. What innocent poor Condoleezza Rice
was not aware of is that what is not “raunchy” in America is most
likely very raunchy in Libya. It’ll get even raunchier when the Islamists dominate the new “free” Libya. Also, Condi shook hands with the Lebanese
president and apparently he gave her the creeps: she had to rake a
shower afterwards. Maybe he came across as some kind of sleaze bag. I wonder if she ever shook hands with the prime
minister of Bahrain or the President of Yemen or….. . She would need a cocktail of “Raid” and “Clorox”
afterwards.


Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

New Twist on a Newt Gingrich Trek to Colonial Mesopotamia: the Romney Factor………

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Republicans, and Ed Koch and Joe Lieberman, are pissed that Obama is pulling out of Iraq. None of them is pissed that the Iraqis want the Americans out: they are pissed that the Americans are doing what the Iraqis want. In the old days this was called “colonialism”, when a Western guest force, usually uninvited, overstayed their welcome. The Americans had to fight several years with help from NATO the French (Lafayette and all that) to achieve what the Native Americans (aka Indian tribes) never did: get rid of the British colonial power.
Now the Republicans are all opining that the United States should stay in Iraq. The great veteran of financial and downsizing wars, Mitt Romney, and that other veteran of office wars (and other office affairs) Newt Gingrich are up in arms. As are other GOP candidates.

Now I had suggested here earlier that Mr. Gingrich should head to Mesopotamia, along the border with Persia, with a view to spending some quality time as guest of the mullahs in Iran. I thought that would shore up his foreign policy credentials, if not his credibility. I am amending my earlier suggestion now. I am suggesting now that it is a good idea if Mr. Gingrich would take Mr. Romney along on his trek. To make it easier, they can each take along their hairdressers, sort of like the old colonial masters used to take along their hairdressers, butlers, cooks, shoe-shiners, etc. Mr. McCain also tempted me by showing ire at Mr. Obama for obeying the Iraqi people’s wish that US troops leave their country, but since he is not a candidate, I shall not make any suggestions.
Some Arabs, especially some potentates on my Gulf, are also pissed at the U.S. withdrawal, mainly because the American occupation was like a stick they could use against the Iraqis. Now they don’t have that stick to discredit the Iraqi elections. I would suggest that Gingrich also take a couple of the ‘princes’ along on his trip.

Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com