Category Archives: Muslim Wars

War Planner Bolton Misses a Red Wedding, Bin Salman’s World Conquest, Khamenei the Conqueror…….

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This looks deceptively like a slow news weekend, outside of Germany and the Gaza killings. But this can be deceptive; there are other bits of news in the Middle East: 

Wars in Syria and Yemen grind on…..

Saudi Crown Prince MBS, officially called New Hunk in Town by female anchor women of his own media, is on the tail-end of his Tour of World Conquest. He wants to accomplish it before the old Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei takes over the world. The prince has been told by expensive lobbyists in Washington that the Hitler analogy is always popular, hence this silly breathless headline in the Atlantic. The Prince has already secured the allegiance of Britain and the USA (including media icons like Norah O’Donnell and the Empress Oprah). He also already owns much of the eastern half of the Arab world outside Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Qatar.

The eldest sons of Donald Trump (Eric and Donald Jr), attended the wedding of some Real Estate tycoon in the United Arab Emirates. The wedding of some son of a DAMAC Properties Dubai oligarch.

John Bolton (not related to the Red Wedding characters) declined the Dubai wedding because, they say, he’s busy planning a couple of new Muslim wars in the Middle East.
Young Barron declined that he had better things to do (he does)……
But the weekend is just starting….

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Donald Trump in Syria: Not Beau Geste, not Dien Bien Phu, not Khe Sanh, not Desert Storm……

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President Trump has been flip-flopping on a Syrian  withdrawal again. But he was quoted Monday that he might keep the (uninvited) troops in IF the Saudis pay him (as they pay mercenaries?). Now his staff say he might keep some forces in Syria for a ‘short time’. Such alleged intentions have often led to prolonged wars of attrition (Vietnam, latest iteration of the Afghanistan War).

But nobody has asked Syria’s government or people if they want American troops in their country (funded with Saudi money and hence beholden to the potentates’ unrealistic goals in Syria).

The advice Trump will get, is getting, from his advisers and from self-serving Arab potentates seems to be to keep a ‘substantial’ small force in Syria. Under the guise of mopping up the remnants of ISIS. But many believe that this has nothing to do with ISIS anymore. And this force will be isolated in the ‘desert’. Besieged by unreliables and hostiles/potential hostiles: disgruntled former Turkish allies, Arab Jihadists, Kurdish factions, Syrian regime forces, Hezbollah, Iraqi PMU, Brigadier Qassem Soleimani & his men, et al. Their access will depend on cooperation from some highly unreliable players in a highly unreliable region.

This is not like a repeat of the first Persian Gulf War to liberate Kuwait, when all sides were identifiable, lined up behind clear and visible battle lines. When the goal was clear.

Is somebody setting these American troops up as sitting ducks in the desert for their own agenda? A more isolated, unwinnable version of Khe Sanh? But the brave fighters at that Vietnamese outpost were not nearly as isolated as the strip of Syria that is relevant here. Besides, Khe Sanh, although not a Dien Bien Phu, was apparently just a diversionary battle that preceded the Tet Offensive.

Unless Mr. Bolton and all those pushing for this dubious project are willing to suit up, go to contested eastern Syria.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Trump’s Perpetual War: With Pompeo and Bolton, New Persian Gulf War Cabinet is in Place…..

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Perpetual American wars of choice around the world are apparently here to stay. To expand soon.

Donald Trump almost has his most intimidating Cabinet of War in place. Or so he thinks. Or maybe so he wants others, the North Koreans and the Iranians and the Arab absolute kings, princes, and klepotocratic potentates, to think.

Remember: his first National Security adviser Mike Flynn, whose first official statement was that he has “putting Iran on notice“. Mike Flynn himself was “put on notice” and fired within a month, replaced by H R McMaster, a more steady man. Now McMaster has been fired, replaced by a Fox News windbag. John Bolton is a dangerous windbag. So dangerous that a Republican Senate committee refused to vote him as ambassador to the UN under George W Bush. He was appointed during recess for one year.


Between the nomination of Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State and John Bolton, one Iranian pundit tweeted “WE Are All Going to Die!” Two partisan allies and son-in-law Kushner (a potential stooge of Persian Gulf repressive princes and potentates) steering a naive blustering president towards another American war of choice in the Middle East.

Perpetual war is here to stay. A new Muslim war of aggression against Iran: America breaking an international agreement and looking for an excuse to attack another Muslim country. A Saudi-American sectarian war in the Persian Gulf that America can’t win in the long term. America can’t afford it either, which might explain the visit of the Saudi Crown Prince and the welcome he got for spreading his oil money. Trump and son-in-law probably think this prince of darkness can make a new war affordable.

US Middle East policy to be determined by John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and New York slumlord arriviste Jared Kushner (rumors are strong that the Saudis and some Emiratis may have made financial promises to Kushner and family).

Imagine this: Bolton is also widely seen as an anti-Muslim bigot who reportedly allegedly cooperated with Quasi-Nazi Robert Spencer and a famous New York female anti-Muslim blogger (someone called her activities ‘the downside of a generous divorce settlement’). Now he will be in charge of US foreign policy. On the fringe no more.

Of course Donald Trump may think he is smarter than Pompeo and Bolton, smarter that all the naysaying pundits, even smarter than me! He may think he is now credibly blackmailing both Iran and North Korea. Maybe even China! That these two added warmongers, Pompeo and Bolton, will make those countries quake with fear, cry uncle.

There are others, top American generals who have actually fought wars and are truly patriotic, who are opposed. General Votel of the Central Command, and almost certainly Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and other leading generals. They want to keep the Iran Nuclear Deal, since the Iranians and the rest of the world are abiding by it. With the exception of the plotters: absolute Saudi princes and a couple of other kleptocratic oligarchies in the Persian Gulf region who are trying to buy themselves a new sectarian war to be waged by American boys and girls as mercenaries.

 Then there is the valid theory that a foreign adventure or war is often a useful refuge for scoundrel-leaders during periods of potential domestic political trouble. Human and other costs be damned……

Should be interesting weeks coming……

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Iran at a Brezhnev Crossroad: an Aging Revolution, a Younger Unhappy Population, a Sistani Alternative…….

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On the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted this:
” @khamenei_ir
Dear prideful nation of #Iran! The greatness of your gatherings today, which, according to precise calculations, was more populated and morepassionate than previous years, was a resolute response to the enemies and oath-breakers….”
“Relying on their distorted false perceptions of Iran and Iranians, the enemies had spent all their propaganda efforts on trying to turn this year’s revolution celebration frigid or probably anti-revolution. You’ve exhibited the livelihood & dynamism of the revolution in practice…..”
Feb 11, 2018

This year’s anniversary of the last of the great popular revolutions of the twentieth century has been surrounded with interesting domestic developments. We know what happened with the other two revolutions, in Russia and China. In Russia they openly gave up on the ideology; in China they still pretend that the Communist system of Chairman Mao exists, but only as a means to legitimize one-party rule of a new oligarchy. In Iran, Ali Khamenei is trying to keep the flames of the old aging revolution alive. Did I leave out Cuba?

In a nation that is younger and wants more freedoms, more accountability, in an age of spreading social media and access to opinion. What to do?
Violent repression, for example Egyptian Sisi style, will not work anymore in Iran. During the recent protests a few weeks ago, many of the security forces were noticeably sympathetic to the protests. More subtle forms of protest continue. There will be more periodic protests; for years now people have been testing the limits of the freedoms allowed. And these limits have also expanded.

There has been gradual and incremental but unannounced openness by the regime, forced by the people. Giving in more publicly and at once will eventually open the floodgates to more encroachment of the feared global culture, and more demands for more openness and more freedoms.

What to do? Perhaps a Chinese solution? But the Chinese regime is now agnostic: politically Communist in the name of the one ruling party; economically and socially capitalistic and oligarchic to boot.

The Iranian ayatollahs pride themselves on some kind of “purity”, along the model of the old stubborn Soviet regime in the Brezhnev era, when all the revolutionary thrill was gone from the younger generation. But Iran is not a Soviet-style closed system: freedom of travel and emigration has never been curtailed. Social media thrive, as do international satellite television. Expatriate non-political Iranian exiles are freely allowed back into the country. All that has allowed a sort of safety valve but also created demands for more.

Rouhani is trying some short-term solutions. But that would only underline the need for a longer-term deal between the people and their government. The weak point is the position of the Supreme Leader. Chairman Mao is dead in China, but Ayatollah Khamenei is an unelected veto-holder. He is in a way selected by an elected assembly created to gate-keep access to power. But even so, he shares power with various other centers of power: the elected president of the republic (Rouhani), the elected and contentious parliament that takes its powers very seriously, other various senior clerics (more senior than Khamenei).

Then there is the ultimate theological marja’iya (last recourse in Shi’a theological matters) located in Najaf (Iraq). Najaf, where Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani is located, is like the Rome for Shi’a Muslims.

Ali Sistani does not support the idea of rule by the clergy, nor do many others, possibly most Shi’as. It is unlikely that this political ideology chasm between Najaf and Tehran/Qom will ever be closed on Tahran’s terms. If there is a closing, it will be Tehran and Qom moving closer to the Najaf school of thought in governing. A largely Islamic but diverse state with elected civilian non-clerical rule. That was the case in Iran under Mossadegh until August 1953, when his overthrow was engineered by Western intelligence agencies (CIA and British intelligence).

Iran has had at least one case of a Gorbachev in the past four decades. Khatami was paralysed by a conservative parliament, and the Supreme Leader. Rouhani may manage things better, but he has only a couple of years left of his presidency.

Meanwhile, the people, especially in the cities, will continue to chip away at the restrictions imposed by the clerics. The trend towards more openness will continue and accelerate; unless Donald Trump is talked by the hawks in the US Senate/Congress and by the Israeli likud and a couple of despotic Arab kings to start a new war. That will immediately lead to consolidation in Tehran. It happened before when Saddam Hussein’s Iraq started the eight-year war. He lost, but so did the people of Iran.

Oh, and forget about the regime change nonsense being peddled by frustrated hawks and chickenhawks in the USA. Remember: the 1953 Western intervention led to the current situation…….

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Western Fun and Travel in Liberated Muslim and Arab Lands……..

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“The 52 most incredible places to visit in 2018….. New year, new travel goals. Traveling is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions and since 2017 was found to be the safest year on record for commercial air travel, now may be a good time to plan your next trip. It also helps that January tends to be the best time of year to find cheap flights. If you’re looking for some travel inspiration, here are 52 of the best travel destinations for 2018, according to The New York Times. Keep scrolling for destination inspiration……”

Also sprach the periodical Business Insider.
I also have some destination inspiration for it readers. I have my suggestion for many of the traveling Western elites (the individualists, not the gawking sardine-can-cruise types).

Try some of the many Muslim places recently that some believe have been liberated in the Middle East or North Africa (MENA). Places the alleged current leader of the free world has talked about a lot, mostly in negative terms:


Try anywhere in Libya, which was liberated by NATO in 2011 at the behest of absolute elected Arab kings and potentates. The dictator Gaddafi was tortured (along with one f his sons) and killed extra-judicially (the way many others are killed in our region). In liberated post-Gaddafi Libya, you may be lucky enough to witness a few internecine skirmishes between rival armies, or even catch a rarity: a slave auction in (North) Africa. You can also get a front raw look at the migration disaster unleashed by the Western wars of regime change in our mis-ruled region of MENA.

You might also notice that those famous would be vocal liberators (only of Muslim lands): John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman, Bernard-Henri Levy, James Woolsey, Joe Lieberman, et al, all stay away from Libya now. Not even a hint of a Trump Hotel or Tower in Benghazi or Tripoli.

Or try Mosul in Iraq, or Raqqa in Syria.
In Iraq in 2014, right after the fall of Mosul, Baghdad was saved from the clutches of ISIS Jihadi terrorists only through the efforts of local popular militias and with Iranian help and advice. They gave the Iraqi military and the supporting American military effort enough time to push back the menace that threatened Baghdad.

Syria was almost liberated for the joys of public beheadings and mayhem by Jihadi cutthroat fighters, Arab Salafi money & volunteers, and misplaced American weapons. In Syria you could witness the end-game of Western and allied Arab regime efforts: weapons and money inflow to the Jihadi cause. They came close to establishing their joyful Caliphate in Damascus.
Or, if you are more into more graphic ongoing action, try any hospital that still stands in Sanaa (capital of tormented Yemen) or in Aden. Get a first-hand view of Western attempts to put an incompetent Yemenite general back in power.

How about the wild territory of Northern Sinai, the expanding no-mans-land of ISIS and her terrorist sisters? Almost slipping out of the hands of Generalissimo Al Sisi.

Or you can try doing AirBnB in a rundown Bahrain Shi’s village besieged by the regime’s imported mercenary forces. You might get your first experience of teargas and broken down doors during dawn raids. Might remind you of your younger days if you are of the right age and were at the right place.

The list goes on, and it will go on as long as the Western powers seek foreign places to try their new weapons (or so most people in the Middle East believe; something their regimes and their controlled media never tell you)…..

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Trump’s Coming Battle of Karbala? What He Should Read about Middle East Sectarian Tensions……..

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“For Iraq, guaranteeing the safety of millions of Shiite faithful on their annual ​pilgrimage to the shrine of a revered saint in Karbala has always been a monumental challenge. The march, the largest annual religious pilgrimage on earth, ​is in defiance of Iraq’s chronic insecurity and the frequent attempts by Sunni militants – including, recently, Islamic State (ISIS) fighters – to derail this event with violence. ​This year, the pilgrimage ​to the shrine of Imam Hussein ​held special resonance, as ISIS in Iraq has been all but defeated in recent months by Iraqi security forces – supported by Iran-backed Shiite militias and a US-led bombing campaign…… The risks of attack were high, but so, too, were the rewards for the millions of Shiite pilgrims whose faith overcomes fear…….“We don’t care about security – we just come,” says Fadl Abbas, a truck driver nursing blistered feet, swollen legs, and a new limp after his 50-mile march……..” Christian Science Monitor

This is one article Donald Trump should read this week, if he were a reading man. Or he can have his son-in-law, his Middle East Gauleiter Jared Kushner, read it. They should both know what they and their regional sidekicks will be facing in the coming months if Arab media reports are true. Reports about what dangerous concoction they are brewing for our native region from Lebanon to the Persian-American Gulf.

They are brewing something from Lebanon to the Gulf, and through Yemen. Even the Gulf Muslim Brotherhood, always opportunistic, are being cagey these days, which means they anticipate a new American-Israeli folly, and that they approve. They have suddenly softened on Israeli and Trump actions in the region. Even the Salafis, the more opportunistic soul mates of ISIS/DAESH and Al Qaeda. Especially the Salafist fifth columnists, are eerily silent, waiting for those they have always called the “crusaders” and the “descendants of monkeys and pigs” to start a bloody sectarian war on their behalf. Obama knew what they sought and he denied them. He would not bluster himself into a new war, as he elaborated in an interview that was dubbed the Obama Doctrine on the Gulf.

The vast controlled media of the absolute kings are also hinting at something coming soon. Salivating at the prospect of foreign bombs blasting yet more Arab and Muslim targets on their behalf. 

A new Battle of Karbaba waged by Trump and Netanyahu as the new Umayyads, on behalf of a couple of kings and their Salafist proxies. Its battlefield to be the whole Middle East region and part of North Africa.

Remember: for years the Salafist Wahhabis kept bombing in Iraq, killing civilians, almost every day since 2003. Fourteen years of insecurity and massacres against the Shi’a (Shiite) pilgrims and their annual march to Karbala. And against many Sunnis and all Christians. Yet the pilgrims keep coming by the millions: more than the numbers that do the annual Haj in Hijaz. They keep coming by the millions, risking death. No lethal stampedes there. The march/pilgrimage was banned by the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein, but resumed after his defeat. Terrorism has only made it a bigger event than ever, it increased the defiance. A new foreign war of aggression will almost certainly make them even more defiant.

Just keep it in mind. Remember, it is not all about the money and the contracts and the bluster. You don’t want to be seen as the foreign interloper who replaces Saddam or the Umayyad Dynasty……

If he is not very careful here, he may end up famously complaining, again: “nobody knew that meddling in 15-century-old Muslim sectarian tensions could be so complicated…. even more complicated than trying to dismantle the health care system……
Stay tuned…..

Cheers anyway   

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Donald Trump’s Obama Complex: Creating Fake News, Domestic and Global Chaos, New Muslim Wars……

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Media reports and official statements (General John Kelly) indicate that Kim Jong Un (Trump’s Rocket Man of North Korea) is close to developing a re-entry system for his long-range nuclear delivery missiles.

Donald Trump is studiously avoiding action on this serious potential threat to the West Coast of the United States. He will continue to fight Kim sporadically with words and tweets while he focuses on what he thinks is an easier target, the country that is not seeking nuclear weapons, more significantly the country that has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, renounced nuclear weapons and does not have them. Iran.

Trump is making daily noises about destroying the international JCPOA deal that keeps Iran from going nuclear. If later today, as widely expected, he declares Iran non-compliant, nobody anywhere in the world will believe him. Not even his own cabinet members and top Pentagon generals. Not even his reprehensible foreign cheerleaders: mainly his co-serial-liar Netanyahu and the usual couple of absolute Arab kings who are urging him to go to war (in exchange for billions of dollars). No doubt he himself does not believe what he says about it. It could be even worse if he actually believed his own ‘facts’. The Iranians are already milking Trump’s noise and threats for all their worth, and it is working in Europe and Asia and in Turkey and several Arab countries.

For Trump this is not so much about Iran or nuclear weapons, not even about Fox News warmongering. It is part of a pattern now: it is all about Barack Obama, about undoing everything that ‘uppity’ black president did while in the White Office.
It is about the birther Trump’s obsession with his Obama Complex.
It might eventually lead to the second time since 2003 that the USA goes to a messy war of choice in the Middle East, based on a self-created lie.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Donald Trump’s Mission Accomplished in Afghanistan: Defying History, Bluffing the Taliban……..

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President Trump was quoted after his Afghanistan speech as stressing that “in the end, we will win in Afghanistan“.
He is going for a victory in a region where no foreign power achieved lasting victory in some 200 years. He is imitating the famous George W. Bush claim of “Mission Accomplished (in Iraq)’. Only Trump is doing it backwards: he is already predicting that he will accomplish the mission, whatever the mission is. Most likely the best mission at this stage is to get out.

Mr. Trump left the details of his Afghan plan vague, meaning there is no real Afghan plan. He is trying to bluff the Taliban, just as he tried to bluff the North Korean regime and Iran and failed. War is not a real estate deal in Manhattan, war doesn’t lend itself to bluffing.

The real Trump plan is most likely based on a desire to avoid being called “the loser of Afghanistan” before the 2020 elections. So he will dabble in the Afghan war for a couple of years, bide his time, shoring up the hopelessly corrupt regime in Kabul. just as Nixon shored up a corrupt regime in Saigon for a few years and ended up losing all of Indo-China.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Donald Trump and the Corsairs: Private Mercenaries for Muslim Wars?………

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Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Urges Trump to Privatize Afghan War and Install Viceroy to Run Nation…… The White House is considering an unprecedented plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan at the urging of Erik Prince, founder of the now-defunct private mercenary firm Blackwater. Prince told USA Today the plan would include sending 5,500 private mercenaries to Afghanistan to advise the Afghan army. It would also include deploying a private air force — with at least 90 aircraft — to carry out the bombing campaign against Taliban insurgents. The plan’s consideration comes as a federal appeals court has overturned the prison sentences of former Blackwater contractors who were involved in a 2007 massacre in Nisoor Square in central Baghdad, killing 17 civilians when they opened fire……”

That would be real bad news for American policy. It would be good news for the Taliban and the ISIS terrorists. It would be reckless policy. If the U.S. military, the best trained and best armed and most dedicated fighting force in the world, nay in history, could not end this war, how could a bunch of profit-seeking mercenaries? If fighting for country can’t do it, how could fighting for profit do it? Fighting for profit in, say Helmand Province, is not the same as fighting for profit in the West Wing of the White House.

Something about wild reckless foreign (Western) mercenaries will help the Jihadis recruit and get cooperation from local villages and tribes.

Don’t do it, Donald Trump, even if you are at an impasse over there, even if it means your friends will make more “government” money. At least ask the advice of your “professional” generals, not the gaggle of civilian hustlers you have at the White House.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Tale of Two Hostile Cities: Trump’s Losing Game of Poker with Pyongyang and Tehran……….

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Kim Jong Un has launched another ballistic missile. He is completely ignoring the hand-wringing and the tepid warnings from Washington. North Korea, a small poor country ruled by one nasty family, has several nuclear warheads, and is probably on its way to develop a delivery system that can threaten the American West Coast. Yet North Korea does not seem impressed with Donald Trump’s vague entreaties. Nor do Trump’s threats seem designed to truly impress.


Switch to the Middle East, to my Persian Gulf clogged with American and other Western warships from faraway places. The Iranian regime has signed a deal with world powers (including UN, IAEA, EU) that curtails its nuclear program and restricts it to peaceful purposes. Even their leading theocrat, Ali Khamenei, has approved it while grumbling about the ‘evils of dealing with Washington’. Now the Iranians still develop missiles that are aimed at deterring any attack on their cities by Western powers or their expensively-armed tribal royal customers. Not a breach of the nuclear deal if they are not warhead-capable. An insurance against the vast foreign imported arsenals surrounding their country.

Yet the invective in Washington is focused on Iran while Pyongyang is almost beseeched to (please) behave. Daily threats hinting at, nay threatening of, another war in the Persian Gulf region are now almost part of the National Anthem in Washington. (The current Congress may add a new stanza to the StarSpangled Banner, it’s not that far-fetched). Administration officials, paid think tanks, and senators compete with each other in this ongoing warmongering. The major media are as cooperative in this new drumbeat of a new war of choice as they were for Iraq in 2002/2003. As if they can’t learn from the past, some arrogant fools in the USA are even talking, again, of regime change in Tehran as a gift from Washington.

There are several reasons for this dichotomy, what someone (not me) once called the Iran Derangement Syndrome in Washington. Two of the reasons are obvious: the omnipotent and generous Israeli right-wing lobby and the inflow of Gulf royal money for expensive weapons/toys. Plus the history since the end of the last world war.

But perhaps the most important and crucial reason is also well known to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un: he already has his defense in the form of nuclear weapons as well as deadly conventional artillery aimed at South Korea. As I explained recently here in this post on the Thinking of Kim Un.
So he just deals with Donald Trump as other world leaders should: he knows his background, and he ignores his warnings, his bluff, just as any mediocre Poker player would.

Recent reports in US media now indicate Trump may try to provoke the Iranians into abandoning the nuclear deal. Oddly he is supposed to do that by himself breaking the nuclear deal first thus pushing the Iranians into reacting, the new logic of the regime in Berlin Washington. The blustering New York Poker player trying to bluff masters of their own game of chess.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum