Category Archives: Persian Gulf

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?


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”?

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?

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 ).


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.


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.


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.


Strait of Hormuz: a Visit to an Island for Lease, Liberation of Iran……


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Tehran on Monday warned Arab states in the Gulf that things could become “very complicated” if they do not act cautiously over a simmering islands dispute between Iran and the United Arab Emirates. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi made the declaration to Iran’s ISNA news agency on the eve of talks in Doha between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states over three tiny islands in the Gulf and claimed by both Iran and the UAE. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad infuriated the UAE by visiting one of them, Abu Musa, on April 11 and asserting in a speech that historical records proved “the Persian Gulf is Persian,” as state media called his trip a purely “domestic issue.”…………

“Sheikh Abdullah said the islands were in a “pivotal area”, crucial to the passage of oil. The UAE wants to find a solution to the conflict, but Iran’s behaviour “might bring serious complications and implications”, he said. “We have to have a clear agenda, a deadline for these negotiations.” If necessary the parties should seek international arbitration or go to the International Court of Justice, Sheikh Abdullah said. “But we cannot keep this matter going on for ever.” The Foreign Minister added: “It is with regret that a Muslim and neighbour country with civilisation and traditions behaves in such a manner. It is supposed to behave rationally, not to project its internal concerns abroad. In this case the consequences can be dangerous.”………”

I had thought there was an old agreement between Iran and one of the Emirates (Sharjah), allegedly brokered by Britain which had controlled the island, to share the oil and gas around Abu Moussa. I need to research this, but I thought there was some agreement regulating supervision as well (I can be wrong, but I doubt it).
More Seriously: There are rumors swirling around me that Abu Dhabi wants to lease at least one of the islands to a foreign power as a military naval base. The rumors have it that since the Canadians pulled out of their base, the UAE has had major foreign bases for only the United States, Britain, and France. In addition to some possible facilities to smaller powers like Bosnia and Monaco and the Maldives. Apparently the rulers of Abu Dhabi feel that they need more foreign bases (on the assumption that “the more the merrier“). The rumor says they wish to release an island to the Sultan of Bruni to use as a naval base to protect the Strait of Hormuz from Iranian incursions. The idea is that Western bases and Bruni bases will protect the Gulf from such ‘external’ threats as Iran poses. Bruni-ian and Western soldiers are known to be always eager to defend their national territorial waters in the Persian-American Gulf against outside incursions from faraway foreign places like Iran.
Another rumor, quickly discounted by yours truly, is that the potentates plan to settle their new foreign mercenary brigade formed by Blackwater executives from among Colombians gang veterans, disgruntled white South Africans, rare teetotaler Australians, Mexican drug cartel graduates, and other such Arab nationalists.
The Iranians, remembering Iraq in 2003, may worry that the mercenaries and/or Bruni forces will use the island as a base for launching an invasion of their country with the intention of liberating it. Stay tuned.
I still don’t know wtf Ahmadinejad was doing visiting that island at this time. It is not like he is running for office again; he can’t. Maybe he knows.

Ring of Fire on the Persian Gulf: Salafi Six-Pack and Burning an Iranian Allah………..


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                           Partying Wahhabis set Allah on Fire

          Ring of Fire
Love is a burning thing
And it makes a fiery ring
Bound by wild desire
I fell into a ring of fire

I fell into a burning ring of fire
I went down, down, down and the flames went higher
And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire
The ring of fire………..
Johnny Cash (not a Salafi)

Someone in Kuwait allegedly tweeted what was considered insults against the prophet Mohammed (I haven’t read them). He allegedly did it on Twitter, on the world wide web, not within any country’s borders. He was arrested and a high official announced to a fundamentalist tribal mob facing him that “He is a scum and is under arrest“.
Local Wahhabi types, mainly Salafis and Muslim Brothers and members of certain border tribes were not satisfied, they knew there was some political mileage to be gained from this. They staged a public rally where Wahhabi politicians and the usual climbers called for the man to be executed forthwith. (I bet most of them haven’t even read what this tweeter allegedly tweeted). Then they called for more restrictions on the freedom of expression (especially expressions that don’t fit the Wahhabi line). After that they decided they might as well put the occasion to some more use and spent some time insulting and attacking the country’s Shi’as. After that they got in a Taliban mood and burned the Iranian flag.
Nobody could explain what the Iranian flag has to do with the incident, but apparently these guys love to party with a bonfire. What is a rally or beach party without a nice bonfire? It’s a good thing these Salafis aren’t fond of beer, at least not in public (I don’t know what they do in private but several wives ought o keep them busy). With some beer it would have gotten out of hand. Salafi Six-Pack ain’t no Joe Six-Pack, not a good idea at all, can’t hold their liquor.

(PS: Oddly, the Iranian flag has the word “Allah” designed in calligraphy at the center. These Salafi and MB and Wahhabi types are not supposed to burn anything with the name of Allah on it. They tell everybody that you can go to hell for doing that. I hope they are right this time; that way they can all go to hell. One of my most ardent wishes my come true after all.)


Dhahi Khalfan in Kuwait: Warns Gulf GCC of a Muslim Brotherhood Plot….


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Dhahi Khalfan,
the Dubai Chief of Police, is the most outspoken official in the United Arab Emirates. The most outspoken official in all the Gulf states. He rose to public prominence after the Israeli Mossad killed a Palestinian Hamas official in a Dubai hotel. Mossad botched the killing by reportedly using more than 35 operatives just to kill one man, all with false passports, and it was all caught on hotel cameras.
Since then Colonel Khalfan has been venturing into the realm of regional politics more than law enforcement.
These days

Dhahi Khalfan has his sights on the  fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood. He started with a dispute with Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Egyptian cleric who is close to the Qatari rulers. Apparently Qaradawi had criticized the UAE rulers and Khalfan could not help responding, noting that Qaradawi is now banned from the UAE and that he ought to issue an order for his arrest.

he publicly opined in an interview with the Kuwaiti daily al-Qabas that the Muslim Brothers are plotting to take over the Gulf GCC states. He warned that they will take over power in Kuwait in 2013 then move on to the other Gulf states. (Kuwait’s current parliament, elected last month, is dominated by Islamic extremists allied with reactionary tribal elements. Some argue, credibly, that it is the worst parliament in the country’s history. The deputy speaker is a Salafi multimillionaire, wtf that may mean in the grand scheme of things). Khalfan opined that by 2016 the Muslim Brotherhood will dominate all the Gulf GCC states. He claims reports of the plot have been leaked by Western intelligence agencies.

is quite a departure from the usual Saudi and Salafi (and local Gulf Muslim Brotherhood) claim that the Gulf GCC states face some wild Iranian or a Shi’a plot, or a combination plot from both.
I have no comment on this today. Maybe later. definitely later.


Nuclear Persian Gulf: Abu Dhabi Mon amour, Bushehr Mon Amour, Fukushima Mon Amour ………..


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The capital is the “gold standard” on which other countries should model their quest for nuclear power, an international nuclear energy industry expert said this week. The oil-rich UAE has been forward-looking in its pursuit of nuclear power and has employed a “logical, well thought-out approach” to building the country’s first four nuclear reactors, said Dr Dale Klein, the former chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the associate director of The Energy Institute at the University of Texas. Central to any new nuclear power programme is transparency, a technique that Dr Klein said the UAE has used to build both international and local trust. “The United Arab Emirates has been very good at explaining to the public what nuclear means, why it’s important for the country, and what steps it’s taking,” Dr Klein said. “It’s very important that people understand how nuclear power plants work and why they’re being built.” Dr Klein’s comments came on Tuesday as part of a lecture delivered at the majlis of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.……….

Cute of Mr. Klein to say that “as part of a lecture delivered at the majlis of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.” Neighborly, mighty nuclear neighborly. Yet there are no nuclear reactors in the UAE, not yet.
Besides, didn’t the Gulf GCC ministers raise a concern (well, they raised a stink) about the dangers posed by Iran’s Bushehr plant right on the Persian-American Gulf? That was during one of their powwows just a few months ago, I believe. That was just before they decided that nuclear plants are kosher again, provided they are designed, built, managed, operated, and wtf else by foreign “experts” of the Western faith for our very own potentates.
Sorry about the new name of the Gulf, it should be amended to Persian-American-Nuclear Gulf. The United Nations should revisit its old resolution of some forty years ago asserting “Persian Gulf” as the official name. It should now issue a new resolution renaming the Gulf with this new name. It has a nice ring to it, très moderne, Persian-American-Nuclear Gulf

Middle East Focus-Arabia Deserta