Category Archives: Persian-American Gulf

Trump Middle East Policy Confusion: America First? New Muslim Wars First?…….

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The slogan America First implies focusing on internal US affairs: the economy, trade, infrastructure, even immigration.
Yet the Trump administration is already being pulled into a new morass in the Middle East (the Muslim World in case you didn’t know). It is falling for the trap of an Iranian missile test that is apparently unrelated to the Nuclear Deal (JCPOA). Perhaps it is a test by the mullahs of a new administration that is already shooting itself in the foot in domestic matters (healthcare, immigration). The new alleged ballistic missile test, which at least Russia and China certainly consider unrelated to the Nuclear Deal, came quickly after reports of a phone call between Trump and the Saudi King that mentioned containing Iran.
The Iranians most likely look on their ballistic missiles as defensive weapons, since hey don’t have the threatening Western-made sophisticated warplanes that their potential regional enemies have. Part of their deterrence that would prevent a repeat of an attack similar to the Iraqi Baathist invasion of their country.

Or maybe the mullahs in Tehran were giving Mr. Trump and Netanyahu something to discuss when they meet next month. The latter would be eager to sell Trump the snake-oil of another Muslim war/quagmire that neither Bush (W) nor Barack Obama would buy from him. The Trump administration probably won’t get far in the UN Security Council: even the European allies may oppose them. New President Trump has no reservoir of goodwill in Western Europe, or in most of the world, to draw on. He never had any beyond his own base and his own party.

In fairness, the Trump administration apparently have discarded the silly notion of “tearing up” the Nuclear Deal. It is not really a “piece of paper” as experienced right-wing hawks like John Bolton still think. They now seem to realize that it can’t be undone beyond campaign rhetoric.

In response to reports of the recent Iranian missile test, the White House NSC issued a tough statement mainly attacking Barack Obama for it (Obama, not the UN). A very retro reaction. Expect a Trump tweet to follow soon. Also expect more muscle-flexing in the Persian-American Gulf region by both sides, something even allied regional governments worry about.

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

From Persian-American Gulf to Gulf of Mercenaries and the New Ottomans…….

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It is a problem, this faraway little Gulf of ours. A few years ago I modified its name, I started to call it the Persian-American Gulf, but it is getting harder. The population is shifting. The princes and potentates in their little kingdoms have now imported a majority of the non-Arabic and non-Persian speaking population from South and Southeast Asia and claim it should be called, no, not the Gulf of Bengal………..  Could it be the Gulf of Mercenaries, as I suggested a year or two ago? Gulf of Wahhabis, heaven forbid? How about the Gulf of Salaf? Gulf of Foreign Military Bases? Gulf of Tribal Sectarianism?

  • For example, the little oppressed repressed robbed sectarian island of Bahrain is now nearly sinking under foreign bases:
    U.S Naval Base Gulf HQ – Saudi Military Base post the Spring of 2011 invasion – Even the old British colonial masters have not stopped helping the ruling gangs in their robbery and repression. They are starting a new military base – Add to all that assorted imported mercenaries/interrogators and torturers from Jordan, Pakistan, Syria (former security), Iraq (former Baathists), among other foreign places. With an occasional obscure idle English prince and princess or two paying visits to shore up the kleptocratic autocratic outpost.
  • Little rich Wahhabi power Qatar where 90% of the population is temporary foreign laborers (mainly South Asian housemaids raising the kids and keeping house):
    U.S. Central Command has its regional headquarters at the Al-‘Adeed base – It is now also the Muslim Brotherhood HQ (outside Turkey) – Now reports say that Turkey, under its new Ottoman Caliph Sultan Recep Erdogan, will also establish a military base in Qatar. So, the Ottomans are coming back, with a new sultan. Which might indicate that the on-again-off-again sisterly relations with the fellow Saudi Wahhabis may be heading up the proverbial ‘unsanitary creek’.
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE, where some 90% of the population is composed of imported foreign laborers and housemaids), ruled by a Band of Brothers who own Abu Dhabi (lock, stock and barrel). I think it has:
    British base – French base – Canadian base (sorry, it was closed over a commercial dispute) – Colombian mercenary military base (no, not FARC) – (Former) Blackwater mercenary force: mainly South American, South African, Australian, etc- Actually I have lost track: for all I know even Monaco or Vanuatu may have military bases in Abu Dhabi by now.

But I don’t have anything against friendly military bases. They can be a protective measure that started with Saddam’s Baathist brutal invasion of Kuwait in 1990. But I suspect they are not only aimed against Iraqi dangers anymore, and not only aimed against the mullahs in Iran, but probably also needed not-so-secretly to keep the sisterly Wahhabi princes next door at home. The princes are only a few tanks’ drive away, as the unhappy people of Bahrain discovered in the Spring of 2011.

As well as the dangers that may emerge from the troubles in Iraq/Jordan/Syria. Dangers that were largely created and financed by wayward Persian Gulf Islamist groups and some princes. As well as some unsettled tribal issues and risks that Gulf GCC states have experienced (attempted Saudi-backed coup in Qatar in 1998) and others may be experiencing.

Still, a Turkish military base in Qatar? But why not? After all there is a Saudi Wahhabi base in Bahrain. The Muslim Brotherhood Turkish base in Qatar could balance that.

But there is still the same nagging question that won’t go away for me: whoever the hell heard of a country welcoming a Turkish military base?

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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The Iranian Genesis of Wahhabi ISIS, the Baathist Roots of Salafi DAESH………..

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This week is the 35th commemorative of a watershed event that is still shaping the Middle East. Baathist Iraq under Saddam Hussein, worried about the message of the new Khomeini revolution, saw an opportunity and invaded Iran, which was weakened by continued revolutionary turmoil and internal divisions. That war did not turn out as expected, and its consequences are still unfolding in our region:

  • Saddam Hussein started the Iran-Iraq war this week in 1980. That war lasted eight years (1980-1988) and split the Arab world into those who supported the Baathist invasion (mainly some in the Gulf region) and those who opposed it (mainly Syria, Libya, Algeria, and some Palestinian groups).
  • That war did not achieve any of the declared goals set by Saddam, but it led to the bankruptcy of Iraq. I opined at an event at KISR after the war that Iraq went from a healthy supply of foreign exchange reserves before the war to a total net foreign debt that well exceeded US $100 billion (for obvious reasons I don’t have my exact original estimates now).
  • Which led a desperate Saddam to invade Kuwait in 1990 in order to plunder its wealth. That invasion led to what Americans call the “Persian Gulf War” of 1990/91. The Baathists were defeated and blockaded and kept within Iraq.
  • After the September 11 Wahhabi terrorist attacks in the USA, the Bush-ies refocused on Iraq (although not a single Iraqi was involved in that mainly-Saudi attack). It was followed by the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Later the results of the first Iraqi elections created a worsening of the sectarian tensions in the Arab world. Al Qaeda and the Wahhabi terrorists entered into Iraq in force, backed by outside Arab financing.
  • Eventually, as the Arab uprisings of the Spring of 2011 spread eastward toward the Gulf, a local Iraqi branch of Al Qaeda morphed into ISIS (ISIL, DAESH), an alliance dominated by foreign Arab Salafi Jihadis and former Baathist henchmen of Saddam.
  • The intervention of foreign Arabs, including some regimes, and the growth of local militias of both Muslim sects, have had a lot to do with the bloody sectarian turn of events across the region.
  • ISIS or DAESH now controls large parts of Iraq and Syria, mostly through sectarian exhortation and a medieval-style bloody reign of terror. It has been largely supported by the flow of foreign money and weapons facilitated through Turkey.
  • Some of those Arab potentates who helped create ISIS or DAESH are now feeling the heat and claiming to be fighting to destroy it. But apparently not seriously enough, NOT in Syria or Iraq.
  • The consequences of that fateful decision of September 1980 are still unfolding across the region. The beat goes on………..

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Phony Arab Fear of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Catharsis and Kumbaya at Camp David………

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“The Obama administration is scrambling for reassurances it can present this month at a Camp David summit meeting to persuade Arab allies that the United States has their backs, despite a pending nuclear deal with Iran. Officials at the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department have been meeting to discuss everything from joint training missions for American and Arab militaries to additional weapons sales to a loose defense pact that could signal that the United States would back those allies if they come under attack from Iran. Over mahi-mahi at the Pentagon two weeks ago, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter polled a select group of Middle East experts for advice on how the administration could placate Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, all of which fear the nuclear deal, according to several attendees………………..”

First (of all): it is not an “Arab” fear of the nuclear deal. Ask most Arabs from Baghdad through Amman to Algiers and Tetouan, ask 250 million of them and they will not express any fear of this deal. Arabs have lived with a nuclear and aggressive Israel for decades without expressing any fear of it either.

Second: a part of the small minority of all Arab who live on the Persian-American Gulf express disapproval of the nuclear deal (not counting the majority of the population who are South Asian expat laborers). Many of them don’t know its details and look at it from a sectarian view and in some cases whatever their government propaganda tell them.

Third: the rulers of the GCC Gulf states are not afraid of the “nuclear” deal either. They are worried about expanding Iranian influence in Iraq and Syria and Lebanon, and potentially in Yemen. A legitimate worry. Only about three of them (only about three regimes) are also afraid of lifting the Western blockade from the Iranian people which will strengthen their economy.

Fourth: These three (or four) regimes are pretending to be afraid of a nuclear deal only as a bargaining chip: the same position as Benyamin Netanyahu takes. The last time Iran attacked a neighbor was almost three hundred years ago. When was the last time Iran was attacked by a neighbor? In 1980, by Baathist Iraq with active help from others in the neighborhood. The Baathists used WMD in that war.

Fifth: the mullahs don’t directly attack a neighbor, unlike Baathist Iraq (attacked Iran and Kuwait), unlike Saudi Arabia (attacked Yemen at least three times: 1930s, 2009, 2015 and attacked Kuwait once in 1920). Even so, the Persian-American Gulf is clogged with powerful Western navies that can deter any conventional attack.

Sixth: Even if we ‘buy’ the claims about Iran’s nuclear program. When was the last time a country used nuclear weapons in ts own neighborhood? Is there a regime so stupid as to contemplate doing that, across its border? Are there regimes audacious enough to use it as an excuse to keep an economic blockade on a neighbor?

No doubt Mr. Obama knows all this, or he should know it when he sits down with his guests. Which also makes one wonder: why not also invite Netanyahu to Camp David, since he claims the same worries and concerns? Then Mr. Obama can have his catharsis with both. It should be fun: Likudniks and antisemitic Wahhabis singing Kumbaya at the camp. 

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Persian Gulf: Local Powder Keg, Western Market Opportunity……..

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“In Yemen, “Saudi Arabia is using F-15 fighter jets bought from Boeing. Pilots from the United Arab Emirates are flying Lockheed Martin’s F-16″ in sorties in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, wrote the Times. U.S. arms manufacturers have opened up offices in several Arab capitals, and reportedly expect additional orders from regional countries for “thousands of American-made missiles, bombs and other weapons” to replenish “an arsenal that has been depleted over the past year,” according to The New York Times. In an earnings call leaked to The Intercept last month, Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson stressed the company’s goals to increase international sales, particularly in the Middle East. “A lot of volatility, a lot of instability, a lot of things that are happening” in the Middle East are potential “growth areas”………….”

In 1979, after the mullahs and their temporary secular allies overthrew the Shah of Iran, they made a nearly-fateful decision. They canceled all pending weapons contracts with the United States (that was before the Hostage Crisis). The decision was partly driven by ‘revolutionary’ zeal, and based on the naive assumption that they were safe from external attack and that they could influence the region with their revolutionary message and rhetoric.
Next year Saddam Hussein did something that quickly disabused them of that rosy view. Saddam saw an opportunity in the turmoil within Iran and made his own fateful decision by invading southwestern Iran. That war disappointed all expert predictions as it lasted eight years and bankrupted Iraq to the extent that Saddam invaded Kuwait to loot its wealth. We all know that story is still unfolding in Iraq and across the region (and to some extent within Iranian political circles).
Suddenly our once peaceful Gulf looked quite menacing. Meanwhile, with the two Persian Gulf superpowers, Iran and Iraq, otherwise occupied, the smaller countries started building up their own arsenals, to supplement the American Umbrella. Now Saudi Arabia, UAE and other GCC states are major weapons markets for the West (and the East). The Iranian mullahs probably salivate at the quality and quantity of state-of-the-art Western weapons that their smaller neighbors to the south can get. Only the Israelis get better weapons than the GCC states, and that is certainly deliberate American policy.

The mullahs will probably have to keep on salivating: Western weapons are unlikely to be available to Iran any time soon. That is not all bad. They have managed to develop their own vast weapons industry, as well as a credible space program. Which means they have locally mastered the sciences and technology needed. For a country the size of Iran, it makes sense to focus on domestic production. Besides, they have not done so bad in terms of regional influence, even without F-15 and F-16 warplanes and shared Western intelligence.

I am tempted to assert that it would be better for the other Gulf states to develop their own weapons industries. But there may be a small problem with that. Where would the princes and potentates, and their families, get the huge amounts of money that the weapons bribes commissions provide?

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Gulf of Mercenaries: OMG, the British are Coming Back……….

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Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) seem to be in a race to see which one can establish more foreign military bases and which one can hire more foreign mercenaries. I once suggested that the Persian-American Gulf should be renamed the Gulf of Mercenaries, mainly because of these two countries’ penchant for importing foreign mercenaries to crush dissent and help stifle reform.

The British were in Bahrain for a long time as colonial masters. They had military bases on the island, and they helped the Al Khalifa ruling family and their tribal allies keep absolute political control and enabled them to continue looting the country. They left at the beginning of the 1970s although their bureaucrats continued to call the shots in many local institutions.

The U.S. naval base is a more recent development in Manama and it is largely considered a ‘non-political’ presence. It is a port of convenience and has no internal role. The Saudi military presence is an even more recent development, and it is a totally political and domestic security presence. The Saudi forces entered the country to help the Al Khalifa crush the “Arab Spring” popular uprising of 2011. They are now in the country as a permanent presence.

Then there is the huge contingent of foreign mercenaries imported from such humorless places as Pakistan and Jordan and Syria. They are definitely a political presence.

The British government has done its best to support the repression in Bahrain, it has even sent its unemployed princes and princesses on occasional visits to Bahrain. Just to enhance the ‘legitimacy’ of the ruling sectarian elites. Even as it has called for sanctions, nay even war, against the Syrian regime.
Now the British are reported to be in the process of re-establishing a new foreign military base on the island. That seems like a purely political presence, since Bahrain does not face any external threat other than from the foreign mercenaries imported by its regime.

Sovereign countries have the right to allow foreign bases on their soil: nothing unusual about that. Especially if they face external threats. Provided these bases do not interfere in domestic politics. But will the small island sink under the weight of all these foreign bases and imported mercenaries?………
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

UAE: Suspicious New Emirates Opposition go Deeply Wahhabi and Sectarian……

        


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A “suspicious” new UAE opposition group now calls itself Emirates Freedom Movement (its Twitter ID is @Emirate_Freedom). In Arabic the group are: حركة احرار الامارات . It is not clear how large it is, since locals will be wary (actually fearful) to follow it on the Internet. Most likely it is a small group for now since Wahhabi Salafism has not been popular in the UAE.

It has just issued its manifesto, which is NOT fully very freedom loving or reforming. On the contrary it is extreme Wahhabi Salafi. Some good early goals listed by this group include: release all “reformist” political prisoners, justice, distribution of oil wealth equally….. 

Then the true character of this “opposition” group shows up as they seek to repress and ban “others” with the following demands: 

  • Expulsion of all “enemies of Islam” from UAE. Probably meaning here expelling non-Muslims (Christians, Hindus, Budhists, etc) who are a large majority of UAE residents. The term “enemies of Islam” here seems to mean “enemies of Salafism”. It goes beyond that to take an extreme Wahhabi meaning with their next demand:
  • End all Safawi (Safavi) practices in UAE. Safawi is a favorite Wahhabi Salafi derogatory term for Shi’as (and it is often used by some Muslim Brotherhood types as well). Even the clownish Chief of Dubai Police (Dhahi Khalfan) has used this term in his personal tweets in the past. This means that like all Salafis, and like many Wahhabi liberals from the Persian-American Gulf to North Africa, they are demanding that Shi’a religion practices be banned.
P.S.: Could this group be a plant by the rulers to confuse matters and taint the ‘opposition’? It could, it could.

Cheers
mhg 

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Bahrain Uprising: Revolting Authorities, People in Revolt, Writing on the Wall………

         


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“The Information Affairs’ Authority (IAA) has issued a statement today in which it revealed that some internet webpages and social media accounts in Bahrain circulated news about direct threats being sent by terrorist gangs and saboteurs to various individuals, groups, families, workers, shops and companies intended to compel citizens and residents to stay at home and refrain from going to work or business as usual on Thursday February, 14, 2013 in a desperate bid to forcibly impose a de facto public strike in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Such threatening calls have been circulated in various foreign languages and posted alongside roads, streets and electric power pylons and included frightening images in order to scare citizens and residents and compel them to stay at home. The Information Affairs’ Authority has urged all Bahraini citizens and residents to cooperate with the relevant authorities in order to tackle these gangs of outlaws by reporting any threat received by citizens and residents intended to forcibly restrict their freedom……. The IAA urges all citizens and residents to report to the competent authorities ……………”

So said the Bahrain authorities request.
Yes but when there are no ‘competent authorities’, what are people to do? Clearly there are no competent authorities in Bahrain, only a ruling clan of despots and thieves and their security agents and imported foreign mercenaries and assorted minions. Revolting for certain, but not competent. So what are people to do? When the authorities are truly revolting, as is the case in Bahrain, then the people end up revolting.
Normally under these circumstances, people try to create their own “competent authorities”. People have have tried this throughout history: from the Abbasid Revolution to the American and French and Russian and Iranian Revolution(s). They are trying this method now in Arab states from Tunisia and Libya and Egypt and Syria and Yemen and Bahrain. It takes time, but the writing is on the wall.

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com




Bahrain Navy all Set to Defend the Gulf against NBC and CNN …………

         


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“A special committee at the General Staff of the Bahraini Navy is said to have recommended the necessity of buying advanced defensive systems to confront nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) threats in the Gulf region. The following 358-word report sheds light on the Bahraini Navy’s recommendation and tells what about the Bahraini plans to buy the necessary NBC equipment and………………”

Field Marshal Admiral Shaikh Bin Technocrat Al Khalifa von Rommel Al Nelson Hornblower getting set to defend the Persian-American Gulf against all comers. Now we can all rest assured. Ever try some of all that teargas you guys have been using every day for two years on your people and their villages?
(Okay, so which Al Khalifa shaikh will get the commission for this purchase? Unless they have a common fund that the whole family shares, just like they do for waiters at restaurants).

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com




Obama and Abu Dhabi Strategize against Extremism and Aggression by Aliens……

   


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                       Neck of the woods

“The President and Crown Prince pledged to sustain the two countries’ joint counter-terrorism and security initiatives in the region. They discussed programs to counter violent extremism and the ideological roots of terrorism, and welcomed the upcoming launch in October in Abu Dhabi of the new Center for Countering Violent Extremism, a project supported by both countries and the international community. The President and Crown Prince reaffirmed their commitment to strong bilateral defense cooperation to enhance regional security and deter any threat of aggression against the UAE. …….…”


Now
 wtf would attack the UAE? The Martians? Klingons? Foreign Laborers? Saudi Arabia has had territorial and other disputes with the UAE, still does have border issues. I expect their foreign mercenary force would be enough to beat back any Saudi invasion: even the ragtag Huthi clan of Yemen defeated them a couple of years ago. As for Iran: highly unlikely since they have already got the disputed islands (they claim they’ve regained them) and they would face the mighty U.S. Fifth Fleet right next door in occupied oppressed new Saudi province of Bahrain.

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com