Category Archives: Qatar

A Dummy’s Guide to Managing Arab Turmoil: from Iraq to Libya and Syria and Yemen………

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A few Arab governments, and their controlled media, spent several years criticizing the way the United States handled Iraq. The Saudi and Qatari potentates especially seemed to think they could have done better.
They dabbled in Iraq, but got their real chance, both of them and others, in places like Libya, Syria, Egypt, and Yemen.

  • In Libya they talked the Western powers through NATO into bombing the installations controlled by the Gaddafi regime. The West essentially won the civil war in Libya for “the opposition”. People like Senator McCain, Hillary Clinton and French pop-philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy thumbed their chests (and breasts) and declared a victory in Libya for democracy and tolerance. Allegedly with some Arab help, no doubt token help. It turns out the Libyan opposition was not what they thought it was. Libya is now divided among tribal elements and Jihadist terrorists. It is suffering from Al Qaeda affiliates as well as ISIS (DAESH) branches.
  • These two Persian Gulf , er, “powers”, ruled by absolute tribal Wahhabi potentates, also thought they could do better in Syria than the West did in Iraq. Of course they had a strong hand in the failure of Western intervention in Iraq and the growth of Wahhabi terrorist enclaves in that country.
  • Having messed up Libya, the Saudis and Qataris started, along with Senator McCain and, yes, French pop-philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy to push for the Western powers to follow their same advise in Syria. From the spring of 2011 they flooded Syria with money, weapons, and Salafi Jihadists. With logistic and trafficking help from the Muslim Brotherhood regime of Caliph Erdogan of Turkey. That was when the non-sectarian original Syrian uprising ended and was replaced with sectarian Salafi Jihadist groups many of whom eventually joined ISIS or Al Nusra. Close to a quarter million Syrians from both sides have died, millions are roaming the shores of Europe seeking refuge. Meanwhile, the Arab potentates who started it all refuse to take in the refugees they helped create.
  • Now the current options for the West in Syria range between accepting Al Assad or one of his allies in power or allowing the intolerant sectarian Wahhabis to take over. There might be a quasi-Wahhabi option somewhere in between, but that may have been co-opted by the new Russian intervention.
  • In Yemen, the Gulf potentates allowed former vice president Generalissimo Abd Rabuh Hadi to win a rigged election with 99.8% of the vote in 2012. Not a very subtle form of democracy is it? Hadi allied himself with the corrupt quasi-Islamist Muslim Brotherhood-ish Islah (ironically Islah means Reform in Arabic). He lost out in Sanaa to an alliance of tribal Houthis and former dictator Ali A Saleh supporters in the army. He fled to Aden, but he was chased out to a hotel in that other bastion of Arab democracy and freedom, Riyadh. The war in Yemen became a struggle between the Houthi-army alliance and Southern secessionists and Al Qaeda. And American drones.
  • Now the Saudis have managed to hire, rent, and buy a bunch of Arab and impoverished African allies ranging from Jordan to Sudan and possibly Mauritania and others. There are unconfirmed reports that the UAE is also sending its mercenary army of hired Colombians to Aden. Yemen is now a war among various groups and proxies. The Saudis and their allies are bombing the country indiscriminately, as do some of their local enemies. Thousands have died, and many displaced in the second poorest Arab country after Somalia. Speaking of which, many Yemenis have fled to Somalia, which tells you how bad things are in that country.

Together, these princes and potentates can write a best-seller: A Dummy’s Guide to Managing Arab Turmoil………
So much for an ‘Arab solution‘. I had thought the idea of an ‘Arab solution’ for any regional problem was laid to rest in 1990/91. Apparently not yet, but no doubt soon enough.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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The Empire of Qatar to Invade Syria and Iraq: O’ Gulliver, O’ Lilliput……..

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“Qatar, a major supporter of rebels in Syria’s civil war, suggested it could intervene militarily following Russia’s intervention in support of President Bashar al-Assad but said it still preferred a political solution to the crisis. The comments by Qatar’s foreign minister, made in a CNN interview on Wednesday, drew a swift reply from Assad’s government with a senior official warning that Damascus would respond harshly to such “direct aggression”……….”

Last month, as the Russian air campaign over the terrorist Islamic State of ISIS escalated the Qatari government threatened to intervene militarily. Yes, militarily. Now Qatar has a population of about 2 million, 90% of whom are temporary foreign laborers, mostly from from south Asian countries. Which means its citizens are about, what, a quarter of a million?
A few years ago, when the father of the current Emir ruled Qatar, some Qatari officials threatened military intervention in Iraq, if the domestic political power was not altered. At that time the citizen population of Qatar was almost certainly less than 200 thousand people.
It is true, Qatar has huge monetary reserves, and its ruling family and their tribal allies can and do buy the best Western weapons. But a statelet of a quarter of a million people intervening in Syria or Iraq? They’d need a nuclear arsenal, which their money can’t buy. It is best to stick to buying exclusive French and British hotels and real estate, and a few soccer clubs. And bribing international football/soccer FIFA officials.

An absolute tribal Wahhabi regime claiming to seek freedom for the Syrian people? Just leave Syria and Iraq to the grown-ups, will you?

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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Caliphate of Erdogan: How Turkey and her Wahhabi Arab Allies Screwed up Syria…………

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“To make sense of this unlikely alliance between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, let’s travel back in time to 2011. Amidst the turmoil of the Arab Uprisings, Erdoğan was counting on the overthrow of the dictatorships of al-Assad, Qaddafi, Mubarak and others, fondly imagining that Muslim Brotherhood parties would then come to power across the Middle East. This was the “Islamic order” of which Erdoğan and his colleagues dreamed, an order which was to be led by Turkey. In an apparent homage to the Ottoman sultans’ tradition of performing their prayers in a newly-conquered capital, Erdoğan declared that he would soon be praying in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. However, Erdoğan has been unable to make good on this promise. Erdoğan’s Syrian venture — the most ambitious such undertaking in the entire 90-year history of the Turkish Republic — has also proved to be the undoing of Turkey’s foreign policy. Intent on overthrowing al-Assad from the very beginning, Erdoğan is one of those responsible for the devastation in Syria today, along with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United States. A March 24, 2013 report in the New York Times stated that 120 cargo flights from Qatar and Saudi Arabia had carried military supplies to Turkey destined for the rebels in Syria. This weaponry was then delivered to the rebels in trucks alleged to belong to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT).………..”

I have often posted, as have others, that nobody is as responsible for the bloody mess in Syria as Mr. Erdogan of Turkey and his Arab Wahhabi allies (the Al Saud princes, Al Thani of Qatar, and other Persian Gulf Islamists). Together these anti-democratic forces, with some misguided Western cooperation, managed to turn what started as a legitimate demand for Syrian democracy into a nightmare. One more Arab uprising became a Wahhabi Salafi terrorist campaign out of control, fed by petro-money, petro-weapons, and petro-volunteers. The Saudis and Qataris count on being far away from any spillover in their on police states on the Gulf, with no common borders with the inferno that is Syria. Turkey does not: their miscalculation is next door.
Just as the Pakistani ISI helped create the Afghan Taliban and now have to put up with terrorism in Pakistan, the Turks now will face spillover terrorism across their borders. They have the aspiring Kurds and they have millions of Alevis who strongly oppose Erdogan’s Syria adventure. The latter no doubt felt more secure under a secular regime in Ankara than under the Caliphate of Erdogan, ensconced in his new billion dollar royal palace.
    

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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In the Beginning: Shifting Dynastic Alliances in the Gulf GCC……….

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In the Beginning………….

There were two major recent Middle East alliances: (1) the alliance of Qatar and Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood-MB- (that was after the MB regime in Egypt was overthrown by the Al Sisi military coup) and; (2) the alliance of military-ruled Egypt and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Now the old alliances have been shaken and jumbled so that there are, for now: (1) the alliance of Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Turkey (hard to believe that five years ago the Saudis used to accuse Qatar of being allied with Iran and Iraq and Syria and Lebanon) and; (2) the alliance of the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE potentates shared an intense mistrust and hatred of the Muslim Brotherhood, while the Qatari potentates financed and supported the Brotherhood. Apparently the Qatari potentates have so much money that they are always looking for some foreign ally willing to accept some of it, including the FIFA sports officials. The Qataris still support the MB, but the Saudis have modified their view somewhat of their ancient ally and later enemy the Muslim Brotherhood. After all they are allied with the Brotherhood in both Yemen and Syria. The UAE still violently opposes the MB and has moved closer to Al Sisi of Egypt even as the Al Saud have moved closer to Qatar and Caliph Erdogan of Turkey.

Now apparently the Saudi opposition, the Wahhabi branch of it that is overseas, is confused or conflicted about the Saudi-Qatari ties. One school of thought claims that the new Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Nayef Al Saud strongly influences, nay dominates, the Qatari Emir Tamim Al Thani. Another school of Wahhabi opposition thought sees the influence reversed: it claims that it was Emir Tamim of Qatar who influenced the Saudis and talked them into easing up on the Muslim Brotherhood.
They both agree that the real power in the UAE, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed, lost out because he had betted on and was closely allied with Saudi Prince Meteb Bin Abdullah who has lost out after his father died.

P.S:So far only Oman and Kuwait have remained outside these flexible shifting sub-alliances among the potentates of the GCC. Probably wisely, for now.

    

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Unequal Media Wars, Proxy Wars in the Middle East……….

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The Saudi Wahhabi opposition (Mujtahidd and others who support ISIS) recently claimed that the new defense minister Mohammed Bin Salman, the crown prince to the crown prince, has ‘purchased’ a hundred thousand Twitter accounts, possibly other social media as well. That he plans to hire many security workers to man them and use them. It claims he plans to use them to build up himself in the media. That is not new, some of the top potentates, as well as the most vociferous fundamentalists now ‘own’ millions of followers. 

Anyway, right now the media wars for the West are being won by the Arab princes. Hands down. When it comes to media control and public opinion, billions of dollars make a big difference, especially in influencing Western opinion (but not so much non-Gulf Arab opinion). That is why the Saudi and Qatari potentates have spent billions acquiring existing major traditional Arab media outlets and establishing new ones. From Asharq Alawsat (owned by King Salman) to Al-Hayat (owned by prince Khaled Bin Sultan) to Alarabiya (Saudi royal in-law) to Al-Jazeera and Al-Quds Al-Arabi (Qatari royals) to Middle East Online (UAE) to Al-Arab (owned by Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal but searching for a home outside the Gulf after being ejected from Bahrain), to LBC, among others. And many others.

Now major Western outlets and news agencies often grab anything headlined by Saudi and Qatari networks and magnify them as ‘truths’. By the time they are bounced around the globe and return to where they started from, they ‘are’ quoted as ‘the truth’. A neat trick. It is like the claim that in Yemen, ‘loyalists’ to deposed president Hadi Al Zombie (actually mostly Southern Independence and AQAP) are fighting the Houthi-Saleh alliance on his behalf. Or the myth that Yemen’s war is a proxy war between saudi Arabia and Iran: except that it is the Saudis who are directly bombing Yemen (no proxies there) with Western munitions including cluster bombs. There are no proxies there now, unless the rented Sudanese and Senegalese and Egyptian troops land in Yemen. But then some clever reader might ask: and who are the Saudis acting as proxies for?

Initially the Houthis were not Iranian proxies or allies either: they had their own agenda. Colonel Saleh certainly is not: he was a close Saudi ally for years, even though he is a Zaidi, (or Shi’a) as Western media keep mentioning. But now the Houthis have moved closer to the Iranians for practical reasons, so they are Iranian-backed, but it is still farfetched to call them proxies or stooges.

Yet references to the legend of ‘proxy’ wars in Yemen and Syria continue in the media………

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

GCC and Pliable Arab Revolutionaries: Qatari-Saudi Micro Cold War……..

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Apparently the other Wahhabi dispute, the Saudi-Qatari dispute is alive and well. It is usually swept under the rug just before GCC summits, and briefly. In fact it has been around for a couple of decades, ever since the Saudis tried to engineer a coup d’etat in Doha in the 1990s. The coup failed, but many high Saudi intelligence officers were caught in Qatar and jailed for years.

More recently there was the Libyan episode. Qatar expressed opposition to Egyptian bombings in Libya whereby the Egyptians openly accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, a very Egyptian reaction. The GCC automatically issues a statement in support of a member country in the face of accusations by outsiders. They did it this time in defense of Qatar, which angered the Saudis who came to the aid of their man Al Sisi. The secretary general of the GCC, a Bahraini potentate, was ordered to rescind his earlier defense of Qatar. He had to quickly issue another statement against his own earlier statement. So the Saudi-Qatari dispute goes on.

Meanwhile, the potentates of Qatar have been busy. They were reported yesterday to have just signed a military agreement with fellow Muslim Brotherhood supporter Turkey. Media reports also claim the Qataris may have paid enough money to buy Al-Nusra Front away from Al-Qaeda, or maybe they have just rented Al Nusra for a period of time. If true, this will have implications not only for Syria, but also for Lebanon. The Qataris are still aiming to own Syria through some other proxy. They apparently have an urge to own some other country besides France. They lost Egypt last year to the Saudi-UAE (Abu Dhabi) potentates who practically drowned Al Sisi and his generals with billions of dollars. That may explain why Al Sisi and his aides thought that to the Gulf rulers billions of dollars are like grains of rice, numerous.

Apparently almost everybody in the Arab world is up for sale now, including many former ‘revolutionaries’. Not to be outdone by the military and Sisi, Egypt’s Tamarrud movement was also reportedly bought by the Abu Dhabi potentates of the UAE as far back as 2012. Long may the revolution live, and may all Arab revolutionaries prosper from oil money, and not just in Egypt.

Stay tuned………

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Human Rights: Building the Pyramids of Doha and FIFA without Moses………

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Have Yourself a Merry Little——-> Kenny G. Holiday 

“Nepalese migrants building the infrastructure to host the 2022 World Cup have died at a rate of one every two days in 2014 – despite Qatar’s promises to improve their working conditions, the Guardian has learned. The figure excludes deaths of Indian, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi workers, raising fears that if fatalities among all migrants were taken into account the toll would almost certainly be more than one a day. Qatar had vowed to reform the industry after the Guardian exposed the desperate plight of many of its migrant workers last year. The government commissioned an investigation by the international law firm DLA Piper and promised to implement recommendations listed in a report published in May. But human rights organisations have accused Qatar of dragging its feet………….”

If you have seen the old Ten Commandments films of Cecil B. DeMille, either one of them, you’d recognize something here. That was when Charlton Heston rebelled on behalf of the Jewish slaves who were building the Pharaoh’s (Yul Brenner) tomb. The slaves were ancient Jews, including Edward G. Robinson who probably looked ancient at birth, instead of Nepalese, Bengalis, and other South Asians. Many of them died on the job, at least in the Hollywood version of the story. Ditto for the most recent version featuring Big Moses and Little Yahweh.

Now back to earth and our current age. If the figure of one dead every two days is accurate that is suspiciously excessive, to grossly understate the tragedy. And it is only for one nationality of migrant workers, one of several. A crime either by negligence or callousness toward the value of certain lives. With temperatures in the forties Centigrade and in the 120’s Fahrenheit, labor should be curtailed, especially at daytime. Not that the evenings are that much cooler in summer on My Gulf (I bet you didn’t know it is mine and not some king’s or potentate’s).

FYI: there is no Moses on the Persian Gulf, nor is there likely to be one anytime soon. These are not captive forced labor, not until they land in the host country. Besides, if there were a Moses, some Pharaoh would buy him off. If they can buy off governments of big democratic world powers like Britain and France, they can buy off almost anyone.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

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What Qatar and North Korea Have in Common: the Crowd is Not Wild……..

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Have Yourself a Merry Little——-> Kenny G. Holiday 

“The men grappled with each other to board the quickly filling bus. Others wriggled in through the windows, scaling the outside, using the large wheels as footholds and leaving scuff-marks on the white exterior with their shoes. These weren’t refugees fleeing disaster. They were migrant workers in 2022 World Cup host Qatar, fighting to earn a few dollars. The job: Pretend to be a sports fan. Qataris boast they’re mad for sports. The ruling emir of the oil-and-gas rich Gulf nation is so fond of football he bought Paris Saint-Germain, now France’s powerhouse team………. Thirty Qatar riyals – equivalent to $8 – won’t buy a beer in the luxury waterside hotel in Doha, the capital, where Qatari movers-and-shakers unwind. But for this pittance, workers from Africa and Asia sprint under blinding sun in the Doha industrial zone where they’re housed and surround a still-moving bus like bees on honey……………..”

During the FIFA World Cup games in South Africa, there were many groups, including families, rooting for the North Korean team. Which seemed odd, given that individuals in North Korea are not allowed to do any private travel overseas. If they could afford it. Then came reports, some of them credible, that these were Chinese crowds, including families with children, hired by the ruling dynasty in Pyongyang to pretend to be North Koreans.

Now we come to Qatar, where temporary foreign laborers are more than 87% of the population of about 2 million. Most of them are from South and Southeast Asia. There are just not enough people in Qatar to fill any stadium, even if expatriate laborers were willing to pay for tickets. Which they are not because they can’t afford it and most are not interested in football/soccer. Hence this practice of hiring foreign spectators. The ruling family of Qatar will spend billions for the privilege of being the only Middle East country to host the FIFA World Cup games in this century. Until somebody offers bigger bribes to FIFA officials.

This item was eagerly highlighted by Saudi semi-official Alarabiya, but only in its English edition. Gulf GCC media are rarely critical of other Gulf GCC countries and regimes. Which means tat Saudi-Qatari differences and tensions have not vanished, they were just swept under the rug for now. of course the fact that Qatar beat Saudi Arabia to win the Gulf Cup last month may also have something to do with this.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

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From FIFA to FIBA: Qatar Seeking to Buy the Rest of World Sports………..

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Have Yourself a Merry Little——-> Kenny G. Holiday 

“Qatar is among six bidders to host basketball’s World Cup in 2019 or 2023. The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) says China, Germany, the Philippines and Turkey also want to host one of the next two tournaments. FIBA says Germany may bid alone or with France. The FIBA ruling board will choose the 2019 host in June, and may pick the 2023 host from the remaining bidders………. Qatar will host football’s World Cup in 2022……………”

I wonder how much they are going to pay to get this basketball event? Are world basketball officials more or less greedy than FIFA soccer officials?

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

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The Most Recent GCC Drama Swept Under: Sugar and Spice and Dancing Goatees………

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It seems that the most recent Gulf GCC dust-up has been settled, for now. The Persian Gulf media, official and unofficial versions, are gushing orgasmic with all the talk of sweetness and sisterly states and brotherly love. Something they usually do publicly even as the knives are being sharpened. Enough to make me look around for a barf bag.

This means the absolute tribal ruling oligarchs of Saudi Arabia and the UAE (Bahrain’s rulers act as a Saudi appendage and don’t count) have reached a deal with the errant wayward Wahhabis of Qatar. Sugar was oozing through the grease at the little summit in Riyadh yesterday. The goatees were practically dancing, mainly for the benefit of the media and the saps watching it on television at home.

No doubt a temporary deal which, like previous temporary deals, will last as long as it is not seriously tested. We have seen this drama film before. Enforced hegemony and conformity never last, which means these most boring potentates of the GCC will have some more drama to share with us in the future. Get the popcorn ready,

And don’t forget a new bag……….
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com