Category Archives: Persian Gulf

Iranian Pakistani Omani Hezbollah Naval Exercises, General Salami is no Baloney………

      


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Salami made the remarks after the Iranian and Omani naval forces staged their 4th joint exercises in the Sea of Oman and the Persian Gulf on Monday. He described the drills as successful, and said, “Based on a treaty between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Oman’s navies, the joint marine relief and rescue exercises are held every year in one of the two countries and the next drills will be conducted next year in Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.”……….. He said that Iran and Oman’s adjacency to the strategic Strait of Hormuz……………….”

“The Pakistani and Iranian navies have engaged in a four-day joint naval exercise east of the Straits of Hormuz this week in an effort to improve security cooperation between the two neighbors. The participating Pakistani warships, which arrived in Bandar Abbas on March 5, include the Agosta-70 class submarine Hashmat and the indigenously constructed missile boat Quwwat. They were returning from participating in the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition, which was held in Qatar………….”

So said Brigadier General (not admiral) Salami, and that is no baloney.

Iranian forces have been holding joint maneuvers with neighboring countries. No, not with Saudi Arabia or Bahrain. They have been holding joint exercises with Pakistan, and others with Oman, both not far from the Strait of Hormuz. It is notable that both countries overlook either the Indian Ocean or the Arabian Sea. Oman has a small outlet on the Persian Gulf, that is the Musandam Peninsula right on the Strait of Hormuz. Most of its ports are on the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. It is interesting that the Omanis, who prefer to look outward to the sea rather than to their Wahhabi neighbors, have had good relations with all Iranian regimes. They even had an Iranian expeditionary force in the Shah’s days. This seems to continue. 
Apparently the legendary (very) secret Persian Gulf Branch of Hezbollah (established in Riyadh and Manama and the Washington Post columns) does not pose a serious threat to Oman, yet.

Nothing new to get excited about here. The Gulf and the Arabian Sea are bristling with warships from every corner of the planet. All doing various exercises. The whole neighborhood looks like a schoolyard, with kids and navies playing war games around each other. And that is not counting the various foreign mercenary forces imported by lovable and beloved regimes to keep their peoples happily repressed.

GCC Egyptian Hook-Up Game: Saudis Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places……

      


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“Saudi Arabia is also now bruiting the induction of Egypt into the Gulf Cooperation Council, presumably with the proviso that Egypt will be allowed to extract enormous strategic rent from the GCC. In return, Egypt will protect the very wealthy but very weak GCC from Iran and Shiite Iraq, and from the Brotherhood. Anonymous Egyptian sources I saw quoted in the Egyptian press when I was there last week were speculating that if al-Sisi becomes president, he can bring in $240 billion in investments and aid from the Gulf………………..”

PAMP (Polygamous
Arab Male Potentates), seeking poor family-ruled Arab country that does
not believe in democracy, and is willing to send troops and security
agents when needed. Money is no object, up to a point. Preferably no
Shi’as or Hasidim or Haredim among the population.” Possible GCC Personal Want-Ad


That
PAMP mock want-ad reflects the state of Gulf GCC regimes since 2011. It is actually the state of the Saudi royal family, since it is the princes who have been flailing to grasp some accommodating Arab regime that can be invited to keep order when needed in exchange for money. From Jordan to Morocco, and now to Egypt.
 

Perhaps
they are better off staying with the U.S. Navy for external protection from any real or (more likely) imaginary foe. Whoever heard of the Egyptian navy? Or the Jordanian navy? Or the Moroccan navy? But protection from whom? What the princes really want is a land force for protection from their own people, protection from change: that is why they have hired mercenaries from Asia and Arab countries (Bahrain) and even Latin America and Australia (UAE).

Modern Egyptian military history, its effectiveness, is very iffy (I am being polite here). In spite of the heroics of Al Sisi. After all, the four wars with Israel were not exactly ringing victories, starting with the first defeat at the hands of the ragtag Haganah bands in 1948, what we call the Palestine War. Actually in that war five Arab armies were defeated by graduates of the European concentration camps and survivors of the butchery of the civilized world. It was all downhill from then.
They may have won their last campaign at home: the war Mr. Mubarak declared on Egyptian swine in 2009, the so-called War on Pigs. Egypt’s native swine, the country’s largest minority for thousands of years seem to have all but disappeared, reportedly eliminated. Long before anyone ever heard of Mohammed Morsi. Although some of them are probably hidden inside the government and the military, sanctioned within the bureaucracy.
 

The
Saudi princes are notoriously unstable (or maybe just stupid). They surprised everyone, perhaps even each other, by unilaterally inviting Jordan and Morocco to join the GCC in 2011. Then they spent the next couple of years trying to walk back from that stupid proposal.
Now they are toying with economically strapped Egypt, a country that keeps getting more crowded along the banks of the Nile. Egypt needs to stop and then reverse its population explosion, otherwise no GCC money can help. Besides, dreams of tens of billions are just that: dreams. They will get a few billion, but at a price of letting the Gulf princes and potentates pick their leaders (as they did in 2013 and 2014), and at the price of deciding their foreign policy. At the price of turning the country even more into a ‘watering’ hole for hungry and thirsty and, er, ‘socially’ frustrated and repressed Wahhabi men.
Here are some links to previous postings on this topic:

GCC Summit in December: Auld Lang Syne and L’Internationale

Bahrain Poised to Import Even More Jordanian Mercenaries?

Morocco and Jordan and GCC Constitutional Monarchy

Moroccans are from Mars, the GCC from Venus? Democracy and Humor

Saudi Leadership of GCC: Three Major Failures, Three Strikes but not Out, not yet

Gulf GCC: on Jordanian Accession, Roman Dinarius, Israeli Shekel, and Kosher Currency

Saudis in Denial: Expanded GCC? What Expanded GCC?

Expanded GCC? Picking Security over Economics, More on Black Magic

Gulf GCC: Moroccan Couscous Controversy, Jordanian Humor Controversy

Riyadh Marriage Proposal: GCC, Morocco, Jordan……

Freedoms the GCC will Bring to Morocco and Jordan……

Fatwas on GCC Expansion: Jordan, Morocco, and the Muftis

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com


GCC Rifts amid Arab Unrest: Wild Attempts at Gulf Hegemony, Swallowing a Bone……

      


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“Rumours suggest the Saudis have quietly threatened to seal their border with Qatar, the emirate’s sole land link to the outside world, as well as to close Saudi airspace to Qatar-bound flights………… .Qatar, meanwhile, has served as a haven for fugitives from Egypt, including hardened jihadist extremists as well as besuited Brotherhood politicians. Al Jazeera’s Arabic channels, demonised in Egypt to the point that staff in its independently run English-language division are being tried as terrorists, have become lonely pulpits for the Brotherhood. Al Jazeera’s star preacher, Yousef al-Qaradawi, rails against Arab regimes that he says were complicit in the “crimes” of Egypt’s coup leaders. Mr Qaradawi lives happily in Qatar. An explanatory joint statement from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE accused Qatar of breaching a pledge, made by Sheikh Tamim in November, to tone down such invective and “abide by the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs”. Less officially they are said to be demanding the expulsion or extradition of Islamist exiles. On March 3rd a court in the UAE sentenced a Qatari doctor to seven years in prison for alleged conspiracy………………”

Tensions have always existed between the Gulf GCC countries, as they are expected when several states interact. It is silly to pretend otherwise. But the GCC potentates have always tried to pretend that there are no such tensions. The people, however, are smarter, people know better of course: at home we have always said that there are no secrets in Kuwait. That may also apply to the other Gulf states. Here is a summary of recent tensions that have surfaced, or resurfaced:


  • Qatar: Qataris are supposed to be the moderate ‘Wahhabis’, mostly. They have had long disputes with both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The past disputes with Bahrain have been over borders and territory. The disputes with the Al Saud princes have been more about politics. Don’t get me wrong: neither country is democratic. In fact none of the three are. The disputes have also been over relations with third parties (Iran, Egypt, Syria, Hezbollah, Gaza, Muslim Brotherhood) as well as about Qatari rebuffs of Saudi attempts at hegemony over the Gulf GCC states. The Qataris share a huge offshore natural gas field in the Persian Gulf with Iran, so their relations with the mullahs are mostly cordial. They have also adopted the role of financial and political supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, and this last one is what irks the Al Saud and Al Nahayan brothers now. The Qataris have given asylum to some Egyptian MB clerics and members, like Al Qaradawi, just as the Al Saud did in the 1950s and 1960s. No need to rehash the Saudi-instigated coup attempt in Qatar in the 1990s after which a group of senior Saudi intelligence officers were imprisoned in Qatar for many years. You can find something in one of my links below (or in my other GCC posts).
  • Bahrain has no dog in that specific fight but the regime obediently and subserviently follows the Al Saudi policies. The Saudi King can wake up tomorrow and issue a fatwa that it is Wednesday, and soon after a Bahrain decree will declare that, yes, tomorrow is Wednesday. Life is simple when you don’t have to decide for yourself, no?
  • Bahrain: they had some outstanding
    issues and claims with Iran under the Shahs, but that was finally
    settled with independence as an Arab state and the first election that
    followed. The country, however, has remained potentially politically
    volatile, with occasional domestic unrest related to strained ties
    between the rulers and those they ruled. At the peak of the Arab
    Uprisings which had reached Bahrain in 2011, the island (s) was invaded
    by forces from Saudi Arabia and some from the UAE. Presumably through an agreement with the ruling
    family, presumably. Yet dangling the perennial idea of an “Iranian threat” across the impenetrable armada of the U.S. Navy has served the rulers of Bahrain well with willing but naive American politicians. It has also changed the subject from democracy an equality to sectarianism. This has served the ruling family (and their elite tribal allies) with their Sunni population and around the Gulf.


  • UAE: They have had their own Saudi problems since before the seven emirates were joined. There are grievances over border territories usurped by Saudi Arabia. These problems occasionally emerge and create temporary tensions, as when the Saudis occasionally close border crossings and create a partial economic/trade blockade. The Emirates have had local Muslim Brotherhood -MB- activity for some time, but apparently the shaikhs and potentates were not aware of their extent until the recent two years. Especially when a bunch of academics from local universities came out in the open calling for political ‘reform’. They were summarily thrown in prison, their citizenship revoked (apparently it is a privilege bestowed not a birthright). Now, for more than a year UAE media have been focused on attacking the MB.
  • The UAE rulers are also reported to have heavily financed Egyptian groups opposed to the elected Mohammed Morsi government. I would not be surprised if Field Marshal Al Sisi appointed one of the Al Nahayan brothers (owners of the UAE) as one of his vice presidents and an Al Saud prince as his other vice president. Adly Mansour Al Zombie can be his real vice president. I am also only about three-quarters kidding.

  • Oman: I have often written here that Oman looks more across the seas: beyond the Gulf and across the Indian Ocean. They pay lip service to GCC integration and even less so to Arab affairs. Historically they have had footholds in East Africa (they ruled Zanzibar) and even toe-holds in India. They also have no use for the Wahhabi clerics who consider the faith of many Omanis some kind of heresy. In the worst of times Oman has managed to keep on good terms with the mullahs (oddly, they were also on very good terms with the Shah when he ruled Iran).

  • Kuwait: Has refused to officially and directly join the Saudi-UAE-Bahrain anti-Qatar circus. It is politically the most un-Saudi of the GCC (if you disregard some tribal links). It is politically the most complex of the GCC countries. There are certain checks and balances, although occasionally overlooked. There is a relatively old constitution of more than half a century that guarantees certain political and religious rights. There is also an active political life both in an elected legislature and also in private gatherings and in the outspoken media. It is the hardest Gulf place to control politically.
  • Kuwait was also the target of repeated Wahhabi military aggression and attempts at annexation. The last time was in 1920 when the Ikhwan, the Al Saud zealous militias, again sought to annex it to their new Kingdom without Magic. That invasion failed and I am quite thankful for that. As schoolchildren they used to take us on field trips to the Red Fort (in the Jahra oasis) where the last battle was fought. The old defensive wall around the old city was later torn down, a dumb (or maybe deliberate) mistake. Iraq also famously invaded in 1990 and Baathist forces were expelled by American forces in 1991. Iranian espionage networks have been arrested in the past. Memories are long along the Gulf.

  • Saudi Arabia: Need I say anymore? It is the source of most tensions along the Arab side of the Gulf. I am leaving Iraq and Iran out of this for now because they are not GCC, but all three together are quite a load. None of the three is a regional sweetheart by any standard. The Al Saud family seems to think the solution to their fears of the empowerment of their own people is to control more of their neighbors. In some cases it is like trying to swallow a bone: one can choke on it.


I attach here a few of my more recent posts on the Gulf GCC issues in case you have more time to waste:

Brotherhood of the GCC, Wahhabis of the GCC, Feuding Misfits of the GCC

GCC Summit in December: Auld Lang Syne and L’Internationale

Beggar Thy OPEC Neighbor: Oil and the Economics of Nuclear Programs

Gulf GCC Joint Police Force: DOA or WTF or BOTH?

Owning the GCC: What is in a Name? Burj WTF and Al Einstein

GCC Bestseller Book: Gulf Dynasties for Dummies, a Theory of Sustainable Looting

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com


Chuck Hagel Going Gulf Native: Support for “Unique” Political Reform in Bahrain………

      


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“The United States, he vowed, will continue to guard “the free flow of energy and commerce” from the Persian Gulf and keep Iran nuclear-free, through the presence of 35,000 US military personnel or the (as-yet-unproven) regional missile defense system. Hagel also trumpeted the American commitment to “political reform” in the gulf region. But the Pentagon chief uttered not a word about the hundreds of Bahrainis languishing in prison—many without adequate medical care—for demanding the very rights he says they deserve. Bahrainis have engaged in nearly daily demonstrations against the Al Khalifa monarchy for the past three years. This resistance started on Valentine’s Day, 2011, when thousands gathered at the Pearl Roundabout in the capital city, Manama, to demand free and fair elections, real power for the popularly elected lower house of Parliament, the release of political prisoners and an end to government corruption. From the beginning, the monarchy has sought to suppress this activism with home raids, torture, show trials and lengthy prison sentences……………….”

It says: “Hagel also trumpeted the American commitment to ‘political reform’ in the gulf region”. Oh, it would be fun if he said that publicly in Riyadh. It would be even fun-ner if he said it wearing native attire (Gulf dishdasha or Saudi thobe and shmagh): the security agents would then suspect him of a native seeker and reform, converging on him. Then he would discover how truly reform-minded the ruling families of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are.

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com


On the Persian Gulf: Shimon Peres Orates, Gulf Ministers Cheer, Tom Friedman Leaks, Abdu Sneers…………

      


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                           Video:
A Kenny G Holiday

“Israel’s president Shimon Peres secretly addressed 29 foreign ministers from Arab and Muslim countries during a Gulf security summit in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago, drawing a round of applause from the audience, an Israeli daily revealed Monday. Peres, reportedly speaking via video link from an office in Jerusalem with an Israeli flag behind him, discussed issues related to Iran, radical Islam and “his vision for world peace,” according to Yedioth Ahronoth. The paper said New York Times’ columnist Thomas Friedman attended the meeting and was behind the leak …………..”

Thomas Friedman devised the old so-called Arab Peace Plan that the Saudis stole and claimed their distracted king had devised. For some time after that Friedman seemed alienated from the Al Saud, confining his Arab contacts to airport taxi drivers named Abed or Abdu or Abboodi, depending on the particular Arab country he was visiting.
Now he seems to be back in from the cold in the Persian Gulf region. Maybe they want him to devise a new plan for the Gulf region. The potentates must need his help in the next Lebanese elections, wtf that is, and the coming Iraqi elections. The good news is that both Saudi surrogates Ayad Allawi (Iraq) and Sa’ad Hariri (Lebanon and Saudi Arabia) have about as much chance of leading their countries as I do of leading Israel or Bosnia.

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com


Owning the GCC: What is in a Name? Burj WTF and Al Einstein……..

      


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My last post about Saudi Arabia.

That is a common phenomenon all over the Gulf GC states. Most streets are named after members of the ruling families, dead or alive. Most public institutions like hospitals, schools, airports, etc, are named after members of ruling families, dead or alive. Most new townships and suburbs are starting to be named after members of the ruling families, dead or alive. Sometimes, when they run out of names of family members, they name them after their in-laws, usually those who supplied them with wives. Dead or alive.
They have even resorted to naming some buildings after the potentates: remember when Burj Dubai was changed to Burj Khalifa? I know somebody who now privately calls it Burj WTF.

If things get really tough and they can’t find enough family names for all the streets and highways, they discover brotherly and sisterly love toward neighboring ruling families. They name a lot of streets after rulers and crown princes and other potentates of other Gulf GCC countries.
A lot of streets and highways are named Al Saud, Al Khalifa, Al Capone, Al Gore, Al Kapong, Al Einstein. But since the Al Saud have more kings and crown princes and princes, they tend to get the most names. Who knows, some day their might be a street named prince Bandar Bin Sultan Al Yamama Avenue.
The people have no chance, do they?

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com




GCC Bestseller Book: Gulf Dynasties for Dummies, a Theory of Sustainable Looting……………

      


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I posted the other day, only half-seriously, about a black and yellow book titled “The Presidency for Dummies” to be read by Egypt’s military-appointed interim figurehead president Adly Mansour, General Al Sisi and Mr. Morsi. From that it was just a matter of hours before I realized that other countries need such a book. I scanned the map and my eyes stopped immediately at the Gulf (Persian Gulf not Gulf of Mexico nor Gulf of Maracaibo). How about “Gulf Dynasties for Dummies”?

“Gulf Dynasties for Dummies” could especially benefit the rulers of Saudi Arabia (although I don’t consider these rulers Gulf people). They can learn how to restock their inventory of princes: how to more quickly dump the older princes for newer models. They might want to cut back the mandatory 8-12 months between princely demises, make it 3-6 months. A crown prince should have a period of six months, maximum, to get to the throne. Otherwise, it is away to some New York clinic, rehab in Morocco, then adios Zapata. Within a couple of years, they’d have no choice but to pick younger princes to rule. Unfortunately that would be good for select branches (legs and bellies as they are called) of the ruling Al Saud family but it might screw the people real good. They’d be stuck with another generation or two of Ali Baba’s enemies.

The book might teach the ruling family gangsters of Bahrain about the Theory of Sustainable Looting. How to keep power and loot the country without help from foreign mercenaries (from Jordan, Pakistan, Syria, etc) or the Saudi religious police (Society for the Propagation of Vice). They might learn that sustained the looting of a country is more an art than an exercise in brute force. Especially a country with limited resources where every bit of land and every dollar of revenue and foreign aid should count.

Such a book might even come in handy for the ruling Bin Zayed Al Nahayan potentates, owners of Abu Dhabi and the UAE.
They have the advantage of safely ignoring about 90% of the population of their country: these are temporary foreign expatriates who don’t count in the political game. Most of them don’t understand or speak Arabic anyway (I mean the expats not the shaikhs). Not yet. All they have to worry about are the 10% of the population who are citizens. Still, they can’t seem able to handle these small numbers either. Hence the build-up of the special mercenary force of Colombians, Australians, White South Africans, possibly Israelis, and others.
Or maybe I should alter the title of the book to “Dynasties for Gulf Dummies”? Or how about “Dummy Dynasties for the Persian Gulf”?
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com




Sandhurst on the Persian Gulf: Shaikh of Bahrain and the Battle of Mons Hall and Tending Bar at Claridge’s………….

         


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“Britain’s top military academy, Sandhurst, has come under fire for renaming a sports hall commemorating a First World War battle after the King of Bahrain. The Mons Hall – named after the 1914 battle where thousands died – will have its name changed to honour the Bahraini monarch who has given millions in funding to the Army’s officer training college. The building will now be called King Hamad Hall and will reopen next month after being refurbished thanks to a £3 million donation from the king, who is the patron of the Sandhurst Foundation but is known for brutally repressing demonstrators at home. Sandhurst has also accepted a £15 million donation from the United Arab Emirates to build a new accommodation block, raising questions about the college’s links with authoritarian Gulf states accused of human rights abuses………….”

Shaikh Hamad Bin Issa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, by the Grace of Al Saud arms and money and imported mercenaries from Pakistan and Jordan and Syria and and other places, King of Bahrain. Most of his people live in poverty since the resources of the state are taken by the rulers and their retainers. The regime now depends on financial aid from the richer GCC potentates. They use the money to import weapons and foreign mercenaries and to fund an expensive PR campaign centered in London and Washington. Notice how most of our Gulf potentates prefer PR and lobbying campaigns to reform and election campaign?
His un-majestic shaikh-king of Bahrain is reported to have bribed donated GBP 3 million to rename a sports hall at the British Sandhurst Military Academy, so that it will be named after himself. The name Mons Hall of the battle where so many died in the trenches will be removed, in favor of the name of a chubby little tribal despot.


I have read that Sandhurst has a special “soft” program for the sons of Arab kings, shaikhs, and other potentates who wish to be “graduates of Sandhurst”. It does not prepare them to tend bar at Claridge’s, but it gives their families the excuse to make them Field Marshals and Generals within a few months.
Why doesn’t Sandhurst follow in the footsteps of such other cash-strapped Western institutions of higher learning? Why not establish a branch in the Persian-American Gulf region for the scions of the potentates? If the Sorbonne and NYU can pretend that it has a “branch” on the Gulf, why not a Sandhurst on the Gulf?
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com


New Target for Popular Anger in Bahrain ………

   


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                       Neck of the woods
“For months, the protests have aimed at the ruling monarchy, but recently they have focused on a new target. To their familiar slogans — demanding freedoms, praising God and cursing the ruling family — the young protesters added a new demand, written on a placard in English, so the Americans might see: “U.S.A. Stop arming the killers.” Thousands of Bahrainis rose up 16 months ago, demanding political liberties, social equality and an end to corruption. But the Sunni monarchy, seen by the United States and Saudi Arabia as a strategic ally and as a bulwark against Iran, was never left to face the rage on its own. More than a thousand Saudi troops helped put down the uprising and remain in Bahrain, making it a virtual protectorate. The United States, a sometimes critical but ultimately unshakable friend, has called for political reform but strengthened its support for the government. Last month, the Obama administration resumed arms sales here…………”

It was bound to happen, as I opined a few weeks ago. Unfortunately it is a logical reaction to the hypocrisy of the Obama administration and its State Department that has a very selective policy about popular uprisings. (In fairness: actually all nations have selective hypocritical policies toward popular uprisings, not just the USA. That includes Saudi Arabia and Iran ).

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

GCC Summit: a Salafi Tribal Dream Team, Taqiyya and a Real Existential Threat……

 


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“Some in the al Khalifa elite appear to be willing to be subsumed into such a union and this is a startling reflection of their heightened concerns. Given the lack of oil and gas resources in Bahrain, the exodus of European banks seriously damaging confidence in this key industry, the profound socio-economic problems that lie mostly unacknowledged at the root of Bahrain’s political troubles, and the hardening political crisis, there are concerns as to Bahrain’s longer term viability as an independent economic entity. Saudi Arabia already gives Bahrain’s elite huge subsidies and support and there is no sign that this could be reversed soon. From the al Khalifa perspective, therefore, if those in Riyadh are not willing to simply continue the economic support without deeper political concessions, with no end in sight to the political and economic crisis, securing guaranteed long-term backing from Riyadh to maintain the status quo may seem sensible. Overall, while Saudi Arabia taking on Bahrain as a loss-making, politically unstable appendage with a majority Shiite population may seem to be unattractive, it is preferable to the alternative. They could conversely see the slow implosion of a fellow Sunni monarchy and the potential ascendance to power of the Shiites next door to Saudi’s Eastern province, which contains not only a majority-Shiite Saudi population but also most of the kingdom’s oil fields and facilities……….”



The Gulf GCC leaders are scheduled to meet in Riyadh next week. The Saudis and their supporters are trying to market the half-baked idea of a GCC “confederation”. They have been at it for months, ever since the al-Saud realized that inviting Jordan and Morocco into the GCC was a stupid idea (from their point of view not mine: I knew it won’t get anywhere). Morocco and Jordan have been toying with more democracy, something the Saudi princes could not allow (an elected government would release prisoners and pack some of the princes to prison). Saudi-paid journalists and affiliated tribes and Salafis in some Gulf states are encouraging the idea of closer ties to the Wahhabi kingdom. The Salafis especially, being advocates of the Saudi royals, are pushing for it. The pressure is being applied, but they won’t get anywhere.

In Kuwait

, for example, the Salafis claim they want more freedom from the (divided) ruling family, but that is a phoney argument, a Salafi-tribal taqiyya or deception. The Salafis and local Muslim Brothers and their tribal supporters, now a majority in the assembly, are advocating for the Saudi regime, the most repressive Arab regime in modern times. It is an oddity of the Gulf Salafis that they admire both the al-Saud princes and they admire the al-Qaeda terrorists. Their Dream Team would be to rejoin the two Wahhabi sides (al-Saud and al-Qaeda) and live happily ever-after. But Kuwait still has some sort of civil society and the people, most of them (at least the city folks) will not accept getting too close to their former Wahhabi invaders. The only invasions of Kuwait in modern times have come from Saudi Arabia and from Iraq (both in the 20th century). People don’t forget where they were invaded from.

Bahrain

was a shaikhdom not long ago. It became a kingdom a little over a decade ago. Now it is a full-fledged state of rebellion, has been so for some time. The rulers of Bahrain have tricked the people several times: at independence when they voted for a “constitutional” monarchy, then again over a decade ago when they voted again for a weaker version of the same system. The rulers are trying to do the same again, promise reform while they tighten the screws some more. In Bahrain, the al-Khalifa and their small core of supporters would do anything to keep the old corrupt prime minister in power and to keep their ill-gotten privileges, even at the cost of handing the once-progressive island to the repressive Wahhabi princes.

The Qataris

have been bitten before by their “current” Saudi allies. There was a Saudi coup attempt against the current Shaikh of Qatar in 1998. It failed, but several high-ranking Saudi intelligence officers spent ten years in a Qatari prison and some border-straddling tribes were implicated.

Oman

is suspicious of Wahhabi ideology which does not look kindly on the religion of most of its people. Besides, the Omanis have always preferred to face the sea (Gulf of Oman, Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea): less trouble from those directions in recent years.

The UAE has had border disputes with the Saudis since the days before independence from Britain (before there was a UAE). The al-Nahayan are highly unlikely to hand over any iota of their independence to the “sisterly” neighbors they have never fully trusted. The UAE has a dispute with the Iranians over Abu Musa and Tunb in the Gulf, but the real “existential” danger to all the smaller Gulf GCC states does not come from across the Gulf, not from beyond the Western fleets, it comes from across the land border. The rulers realize his, as do most of the people.

In the end

, they will all pay lip service to the idea of an “eventual” move to closer cooperation or coordination or whatever. With all the usual committees, commissions, councils, etc. My guess is they will form a body or a council for foreign policy that will be meaningless, an advisory council to the existing council of foreign ministers.

Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com