Category Archives: Saudi Arabia

A Genuine Arab Spring Led by the Revolutionary Prince of Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre …….

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In America, the Middle East wars and rivalries are being waged along the Eastern Seaboard, from Washington to New York and on to Boston. Arab and other Mideast lobbyists, hired public relations firms, media opinionators, and paid think tanks are in full gear. The Saudis (and the UAE) get the lion’s share of it. And we see the results not only in Washington and New York power centers, but also in the media and social media.

Finally a new real Arab Spring is blooming in Saudi Arabia (according to the shoot-from-the-lips Tom Friedman of the N Y Times); the USA must throw its full support behind an invisible “Revolutionary Saudi Prince“, according to old hand Dennis Ross. More American accolades of this kind are being piled on the newish Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Bin Salman (affectionately and otherwise known as MBS) has certainly shaken the Saudi power structure. But he has achieved the following since his father acceded to power early in 2015:

  • Lost any hope of pushing back the expanding Iranian influence and of enabling his favorite Jihadis in Syria. He lost the Syrian war to Assad, Iran, Hezbollah, and their allies.
  • He screwed up the tense and balanced situation in Lebanon. The man whom Hezbollah (the Iranian mullah’s staunch ally) wanted became the Christian president of Lebanon. In exchange, a Saudi ally and business partner, Saad Hariri, was recalled from Paris to become prime minister. He reached an accommodation with the other Lebanese factions, including the largest party: Hezbollah. Prince MBS was upset and summoned him to Riyadh the day after he met a high Iranian official in Beirut. Riyadh, where Saad Hariri vanished into some sort of weird captivity (he is also a naturalized Saudi and French citizen).
  • Where is Hariri, asked Waldo (and most Lebanese)? Finally he surfaced in front of a Saudi television camera inside a Saudi TV station. He looked numb, confused, nervous as he read an odd declaration of (forced) resignation that could have only been written by the Saudis, with the usual atrocious Arabic grammar and terms. Even Donald Trump’s speechwriter can probably do better, in Arabic.
    It took an uproar in Lebanon, in France , and even in Washington and a visit by French president Macron for the Saudis to release the prime minister of Lebanon and let him fly to Paris and then to Lebanon. Quite a ride.
  • Well before that, prince MBS had started on his worst and longest foreign adventure (no, not the honeymoon nor the half-billion-dollar yacht nor the half-billion-dollar Da Vinci’a Salvator Mundi painting). As soon as he was appointed Defense Minister by his daddy in 2015, he started a fierce but predictably futile war on Yemen. That genocidal war has been waged for three years now, with active American and some British help, under both Obama and Trump. It is at a stalemate: the ragtag Houthi tribals ruling in Sanaa against the best Western weapons that money can buy, and it is a stalemate. Sort of like Afghanistan, but at a more disastrous cost to human life and infrastructure. A true genocidal war.
  • Next came Donald Trump’s poisonous saber-rattling Summit in Riyadh last may, followed by attempts to force a Saudi hegemony on other GCC countries. It started with an attempt to turn Qatar into a Bahrain-like Saudi satrapy. That attempt, a total boycott and blockade of Qatar, backfired spectacularly after Qatar managed to mobilize other countries to help, including Iran, Turkey, and some Western countries.

The Prince’s latest snafu was at home (but overtime it may turn out to be a smart power play). Overnight, many princes and other wealthy Saudi oligarchs were rounded up and locked up at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton luxury hotel. The same hotel that hosted the Trump clan last May. Normal political activists and other unfortunates are usually thrown in more infamous prisons. But these captives, all high-ranked rival royals and other oligarchs, are used to a different lifestyle. Hence the Ritz-Carlton. No sign reading “Arbeit Macht Frei” over the door for them. Most of them were reportedly conditionally released into internal exile, after they acceded to the shake-up and parted with some of their ill-gotten wealth. They may also have signed some allegiance to the new ruler of the country.
If it lasts, MBS will be the first truly absolute ruler of the kingdom: all the others ruled by some degree of consensus within the inner circle of senior ruling family princes.

On the other hand he is being smart by moving towards some (non-political) freedoms for women. A smart and long-overdue move. Some early crumbs are being thrown to Western sensibilities: a promise to allow women to start driving cars sometime next summer. Maybe. Also opening sports stadiums to women: another good and needed move, no doubt. That should also make (seemingly) powerful women like Ivanka, Maureen, Mika, and maybe even Hillary happy and gushing in their praise. He seems to have gotten most of the major Wahhabi clerics to go along, at least those he had not preemptively jailed beforehand.

A revolution in the true royal fashion indeed…….

Cheers and Happy Saint Valentine’s Day, Al Capone……  

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Arabian PR as History: Friedman Has Epiphany, Joins the Rewriting of History of Jihadism……..

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The history of our Middle East (and Gulf) region is being rewritten again these days. The genesis and sources of Jihadism and terrorism, even (Sunni) Salafist terrorism, are being rewritten by well-paid Western Public Relations firms, Arab lobbyists, and flattered American journalists with access to royal palaces.

I came across an example last week: a recent N Y Times piece by Thomas Friedman. He has become quite predictable, and also quite irrelevant, about the MENA region. He rarely writes or expresses anything original anymore about the Middle East. It has been years since we have read his dialogues with his various insightful Arab airport taxi drivers: Abdu (in Egypt), Abed (in Lebanon), Abul Abed (in Jordan/Palestine), etc. But he does have a large audience among certain liberal and non-liberal people of influence in the USA. 

He is now falling closely behind Donald Trump and echoes the anti-Iran rant he ratcheted across the Persian Gulf during the odd Riyadh Summit in May 2017. 
In his recent piece in the New York Times Friedman claims that all social and sectarian restrictions and proxy wars in the Middle East were a result of the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the theocratic regime it created. He also directly ties the phenomenon of world wide (Sunni) Salafi Jihadi terrorism to that Revolution.

In fact the Iranian revolution and the emerging Shi’a theocracy did galvanize the rival Salafist Wahhabis, as did the early promises of the failed Baathist invasion of southwestern Iran. But he conveniently ignores the decades-long Wahhabi subversion of various Islamic communities with money and extremist ideology. A subversion that preceded the Iranian Revolution and its theocracy, and preceded the first Jihadist-Socialist war in Afghanistan by decades.

He claims that Saudi Arabia stopped having movie (cinema) theaters after 1979 (Prince Bin Salman must have told him that). I got news for Friedman: Saudi Arabia has never allowed movie theaters in its cities and towns in the Wahhabi era. That was a continued part of the power-sharing deal between the Al Saudi family and the Wahhabi clerics (Wahhabism opposed recreating images or films of people). In Iran movie theaters and the film industry continued to thrive even after 1979. In fact the films won several Oscars under the restrictive theocratic Islamic regime.

Saudi Arabia first tried to introduce TV in the early 1960’s. At that time riots broke out in the streets, blood was shed: long before the Iranian Revolution. Among the casualties was one dead senior prince of the royal family. That dead prince’s son took revenge in 1975, when he shot his uncle, King Faisal, dead. Also years before the Iranian Revolution.
Women were never allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, not ever, even before 1979, even as Iranian women were allowed to continue driving and riding under the Islamic regime in Iran. Including driving taxis and large trucks in some cases. Women still do not drive in Saudi Arabia, but they have been promised.

Friedman mentions the Afghan War after 1979. In fact the first Afghan War, pitting Afghan and Arab Jihadis mainly of the Wahhabi faith against the secular Socialists, was most influential in creating the situation we now face. Al Qaeda and Taliban and even ISIS were all the results of that Afghan war. In Afghanistan, Saudi money, Saudi Wahhabi ideology, and American weapons (under Reagan) created the worldwide Jihadi movement we now suffer. When all the Salafi/Wahabi went back home from Afghanistan and aimed at new targets at home and in the West. We might some day say the same about the foreign-instigated wars in Syria (and Iraq). In fact we are already seeing the consequences. 

Friedman of course is buying and propagating the current Saudi narrative about the roots of Arab Salafi/Wahhabi terrorism. Oddly, only a few years ago he was still blaming the Saudi system for the same phenomenon of terrorism. That Saudi Crown Prince must have been very convincing, or it could be just the easy and flattering access.

Then Friedman went sycophant -ic (access can do that to one): he called the Saudi inner-family struggle “Real Arab Spring”…..

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

New Western Dreamers of Syria: Build the Wall, Build the Assad Wall…….

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State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) commented on USAID Mark Green’s visit to Syria with US Central Command Chief General Votel. She tweeted:
@USAIDMarkGreen’s visit to #Syria with General Votel of @CENTCOM….

I guess Syria now also needs a #BuildTheWall movement…….
After the first illegal cross border entry by a gaggle of US senators (McCain, Graham, et al), some Syrians could have been marching in the streets of Damascus, chanting: Build the Wall, BuildTheWall………
They did not at the time because the term Build The Wall was still unknown, the idea confined to Israel and the Palestinian and Occupied Territories. And some parts in the USA.

Yet no country has needed to build a wall as much as Syria in the past six years. Illegal infiltrators, without so much as a visa request, or a tour guide, have been sneaking in through Jordan, Iraq, Israel and especially Turkey. Arabs, Africans, Europeans, Chechens, and others along, with their concubines, converted on Syria, seeking to liberate it for the joys of pious Sunni fundamentalism.
They originally formed the backbone of Al Qaeda (or Nusra) and the ISIS (DAESH) cutthroat entities. Then we had a gaggle of US senators sneak in without an invite or a visa request, no doubt accompanied by Jihadi coyotes in civilian garb. The liberators all in ignorant bliss that they were fraternizing with Jihadis. The senators were hailed by US media of all stripes as they posed with Jihadi terrorists dedicated to the liberation of Syria from its secular (if repressive one party) path.

Now we have US forces and commanders sneaking into Syria, also without visa formalities. And these gentlemen apparently need no coyotes to guide them. They have drones and satellites. They were supposed to leave the premise within hours, before the Al Assad ICE agents descended on them and sent them back to some Turkish or Jordanian Tijuana or Ciudad Juarez.

But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asserts that many more, many American troops, perhaps thousands, will remain illegally in Syria for years. Perhaps as unofficial sitting ducks among various warring local and foreign factions bearing down on several sides. Perhaps with the eventual goal of becoming a sort of Syrian Dreamers, mostly dreaming of the day they could come back home to the USA.

Ditto for Iraq since 2003.

Then there is Israel, which sends warplanes and missiles and almost certainly infiltrators into Syria to blow up whatever the Likud does not like the look of. Even Donald Trump, the man who does nothing that does not pay off in cold cash, tossed a missile or two into an abandoned Syrian military base last year.

Saudi Arabia’s nearly-demented foreign minister Adle Al Jubeir every week insists that regime change is the path for Syria (but not for his own democratically elected Kingdom of Free Speech).

It is a wonder the Syrians did not start clamoring to “Build The Wall” all around their country. After all, Kim Jong Un of North Korea has built a stout wall, if only mainly to keep his people inside the nuclear paradise.

This story will continue…..

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

The Second Frustration of Prince Bin Salman: a Fiasco in Qatar……

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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, known affectionately and otherwise as MBS, has had a rocky period. But that is to be expected for a young man who finds himself suddenly at the helm of a country, purely by the coincidence of birth. In my last post I covered briefly his Yemen adventure. But the adventures were not done.

Last Spring came the Qatar fiasco. Qatar generally stood on the Saudi side in the losing Syrian war. But Qatar supported its own version of Islamic Jihadists, not the Salafist Wahhabis that the Saudis funded and armed (who later became AQIS and ISIS). Yet as long as they were both on the same side against the Assad regime things were mostly fine.

But there has been serious tension between the two Gulf states in the past. In the 1990s the Saudis engineered a coup attempt in Doha to overthrow the father of the current Emir and reappoint his predecessor (his father) who was more to their liking. The coup attempt failed, and Qatar continued to be a thorn on the Saudi side. The Qataris also supported and funded the Muslim Brotherhood, whom the Saudis (and Emiratis) disliked almost more than the Iranians. Then there was  the Aljazeera network, which was too outspoken on regional issues for the Saudi (and Emirat) taste.

So, finally, after several bouts of alternately making up and breaking up, the dark cloud of Donald Trump and his avaricious clan showed up in Arabia. I posted here at the time that Trump’s visit to the Arabian Peninsula in May of 2017 was a most poisonous visit. Apparently the potentates of Saudi Arabia and the UAE convinced Trump that Qatar was a major source of trouble and terrorism; they also bribed him with promises of hundreds of billions of dollars of arms purchases and investments. Somehow they got the impression that Trump was on their side, and that he would condone any action they might take against the smaller Wahhabi emirate.

So, early in Summer 1917, they announced a complete break with Qatar including land, air and sea blockades, with the support of the Egyptian regime which fears the MB as much as they do. The inexperienced new Saudi strongman Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was told that it will be easy, that the Qataris will fold, but that unlike the case of Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the Americans will not object.


There were signs of trouble from the start with the campaign against Qatar. First: Oman and Kuwait, almost half the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members refused to join the boycott and blockade and the threat of invasion against Qatar and its citizens. Second: Turkey stepped in to shore up its budding military alliance with Qatar. Third: Iran, which shares a huge gas field in the Persian Gulf with Qatar, opened her airspace and sea lanes and land routes to Qatar in order to go around the closure of the Arab routes. Soon plentiful Turkish and Iranian foods started replacing Arab sources of food and other imports. One pathetic Saudi commentator went so far as to absurdly tell the Qataris on Saudi semi-official Alarabiya TV that their stomachs were not used to Turkish and Iranian food products.

So far the Qatar adventure has failed. Qatar’s rulers  have not become Saudi satraps or an appendix like the rulers of rebellious Bahrain.

Another major miscalculation that has backfired and further weakened the Saudi hold and influence on the GCC alliance.

Stay tuned. More to follow….

GCC AND PLIABLE ARAB REVOLUTIONARIES: QATARI-SAUDI MICRO COLD WAR……

MEDIA WARS: CAN SAUDIS AND QATARIS BUY THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF THE ARAB WORLD?………

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

The First Frustration of Prince Bin Salman: Horrors of a Complex War in Yemen…….

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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, known affectionately and otherwise as MBS, has had a rocky period. But that is to be expected for a young man who finds himself suddenly at the helm of a country, purely by the coincidence of birth.
In fairness, Saudi Arabia and her allies (as well as little Qatar) were well on their way to losing the Northern Tier of the Arab World (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon) when his father Salman became king and started prepping his son to take over. By then it was almost certainly too late to roll back Iranian influence in those three countries.

But King Salman and his son and designated heir thought their first new foreign project, closer to home, would be easy. Piece of cake, as they say. Besides, Yemen is a sort of vulnerable underbelly of the Arabian Peninsula: it could be disastrous if controlled by a hostile power, like Iran. Unfortunately it was a piece of bitter hard Yemeni cake that they tried to swallow in the wrong way. By that time Yemen was engulfed in a complex of multiple domestic and regional wars that included AQAP, ISIS, Southern Secessionists, among others. A war of many fronts.

The Saudis should have known from their own recent experience that the Yemeni cake has always been too bitter and hard for outsiders if mishandled. Late in 2014 the largely autonomous northern Houthi group allied itself to influential former President Ali Abdallah Saleh and swept the corrupt Hadi-Islah regime out of Sanaa and the rest of North Yemen. Soon after that the new Saudi regime took power in Riyadh, with Prince MBS as its Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince. The 30-year old prince had the Yemen portfolio. Unfortunately he has proven that he is no Alexander.


The original goal of Saudi intervention was to put Saleh’s hapless but also corrupt successor General Hadi back in power, along with the Muslim Brotherhood oligarchs of the Islah and Al Ahmar clan. Hadi’s legal term had actually expired before then. So they blockaded Yemen, and started a ferocious campaign of air bombardment that has killed thousands of people and ruined the infrastructure of that poorest of Arab states. The Saudi war is also a war waged by the USA (under both Obama and Trump) as well as Britain against Yemen. Western powers not only supplied the weapons and the ammunition, including cluster bombs, they also help with targeting and midair refueling of Saudi/UAE bombers. Several impoverished African countries, including Sudan, were also bribed and recruited in order to provide mercenary fighters.

The futile genocidal war on Yemen has lasted three years so far, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel for the Saudis and their allies. It has been a drain on the Saudi economy, to the tune of many billions of dollars. The lightly armed Houthis have even taken the war back into southern Saudi Arabia, with attacks and occasional incursions into enemy territory. Only a political solution can end the Yemen war, which is actually a complex network of multiple civil and proxy wars.

(I had predicted early on that the deposed Hadi will never return to rule from Sanaa. He is now basically a captive of his hotel suite in Saudi Arabia).

Stay tuned. To be followed…..

THE WAR IN YEMEN: EXACTLY WHOSE SIDE IS ALLAH ON?…..

MIRACLE OF THE IRGC: SHIPPING WEAPONS TO YEMEN THROUGH WESTERN MEDIA……… 

YEMEN: A GENOCIDAL WAR OF CLASHING FOREIGN MERCENARIES……. 

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Political Prisons: What the Bastille, Tzarist Siberia, Stalin’s Gulag, Tehran’s Evin, and Saudi Ritz-Carlton Have in Common…..

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The French monarchy had the (now) notorious Bastille.
The Russian tzars had the vast Siberian land mass.
The Soviets had the infamous Lybyanka prison. (Stalin was familiar with cold exile from his days plotting against the tzars, thus he preferred to exile opponents and suspects to faraway cold places).
The Iranians (under both the Shah and the now-ruling mullahs) had/have the Evin prison in Tehran for their troublesome political dissidents.
Even Alexandre Dumas and Edmond Dantès had Château d’If, like Elba conveniently located close to France, from which one could only escape inside a coffin.

Now the Saudis have gone more 7-star in their prisons for the rich and famous corrupt rivals of crown prince MBS. Don’t get me wrong, they still have dungeons (no dragons) and cellars for ordinary dissidents and opponents. But this new purge of the young and reckless Crown Prince includes too many of the elite, who are used to luxury living. Some of these princes, potentates, and oligarchs now under detention would not survive in an ordinary prison. They would not even survive in a 3-star or maybe even 4-star hotel. Hence, as widely reported, the Ritz-Carlton of Riyadh. That super-luxury hotel is now a sort of prison.

That very same hotel that Donald Trump and his family and entourage occupied during the wild hootennany in the desert last May, when he was almost anointed the Sixth Pillar of Islam. That was when Mr. Trump, the foreign interloper from far away, handed the keys of the Persian Gulf and the Arab World to the Saudi princes, or so he naively and foolishly thought.
The Ritz-Carlton was (and still is) also in some ways, a prison for Donald Trump. The luxury, the accolades, the over-the-top praises, and mainly the huge sums of money offered, locked him into the dangerous and futile agenda of the princes.


Which brings me to the mysterious fate of Lebanon‘s prime minister Saad Hariri. Can he also be incarcerated at the Ritz-Carlton now? Mr. Hariri, normally Saudi Arabia’s proxy man in Lebanon, has his own residence in Riyadh. But even his supporters in Lebanon now concede that he is not free to travel from Saudi Arabia, that he is not allowed to com home to Beirut. Not yet. In effect: a prisoner of his former allies and bosses. That he can’t speak for himself after his Saudi hosts forced him to resign and deliver a speech they wrote for him. Even the U.S. State Department has hinted that maybe he is being held involuntarily in the Kingdom Without Magic.

I know: Saddam Hussein is dead. But, just in case, long live the new Saddam Hussein, whoever he is or will be…….

More later……

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Saudi Arabian Perestroika but No Glasnost: Ditching Wahhabism, the Aramco Dilemma…….

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“Saudi Arabia unveiled a $500bn plan on Tuesday to create a vast economic zone in the kingdom’s north-west, the most ambitious and expensive project in Riyadh’s efforts to diversify the oil-dependent economy. Details of the new city, called Neom, were released as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hosted some of the world’s most powerful investors and bankers at a conference designed to showcase his vision to modernise the conservative kingdom and lure investment to the country…….”

Interesting and unprecedented things may be about to happen in Saudi Arabia, if the ruling crown prince keeps all his promises. Possibly positive things. It will have reverberations across the Arab world.

Saudi Crown Prince MBS seems to be impressed by the example of the United Arab Emirates, especially Dubai. It will be a tough sell in the Wahhabi heartland of Najd in Central Arabia. To diversify the economy also means to diversify the society, and open it not only economically, but also culturally. That is the most closed of Middle East societies.

So far there are signs that the top Wahhabi establishment is falling in line, but that may change: the prince had to incarcerate several mid-level but prominent Wahhabi clerics before he started talking of his version of Perestroika (perhaps not so much Glasnost for now).

A few independent Arab media outlets have been hinting for months that the new Saudi order is impressed with the economic experience of the UAE. At the same time, the substantial Islamist (mainly Wahhabi) opposition in exile has been warning and complaining that the ruling Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi in the UAE (an economically and culturally open Gulf state, definitely non-Wahhabi) has too much influence over the Saudi Crown Prince. There might be some truth in that, and it will create a dilemma for the Salafist movement from the Gulf to Egypt. Persian Gulf Salafis, who are practically Saudi proxies, have always been very critical of the openness of the UAE and its social and religious openness.


The domestic impact depends on success in keeping the population content, economically speaking. But times are hard, with oil revenues declining, and the weapons-selling pressures of Donald Trump are strong. Add to that the expensive and stalemated war in Yemen, and the new financial commitments to select remaining “friends” in Syria and Iraq.
So it may require disengagement in Yemen and reducing commitments in the Levant, as well as reducing the huge weapons deals with the Western powers. But then there is a catch in all that too: it might mean ceding the Northern Tier of the Arab world, the Levant/Fertile Crescent, to long-term Iranian influence. The Saudis already seem to have given up on Lebanon, where a Hezbollah-Christian coalition seems to have strengthened its hold on power.

Stopping the bleeding from Yemen will be a tough one: that country is the soft underbelly of the Arabian Peninsula, and a reasonable cause for worry. But war will not solve the Yemen problem, only some kind of political deal that is agreed upon by the Sanaa coalition and the Saudis. That still leaves the problem of Aden in secessionist-oriented Southern Arabia, now largely dominated by the UAE. And I haven’t even mentioned the expansion of AQAP and ISIS in Southern Yemen.

It would be quite interesting to see how the Wahhabi kingdom is transformed into a truly modern state (without the political opportunities of Glasnost).

(P.S: As for selling off the huge state oil company, ARAMCO, we can forget about that for now. My educated fatwa about ARAMCO? It will take much longer than two or three years or even five years to get it ready for privatization. IF it ever happens: I have seen similar films before in our Gulf region.)

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

After JCPOA and UNESCO: Will the USA and Israel Join the Arab League?…….

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President Donald Trump has taken the USA out of a whole bunch of international institutions, agreements, and deals. From the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) to the Paris Climate Accord, to the United Nation’s UNESCO organization (Mr. Trump and Israel both withdrew this week).

He is on the verge of breaking and violating the JCPOA (the international community’s nuclear deal with Iran). He is also threatening the NAFTA deal with Canada and Mexico. Early in his term he threatened US ties with NATO, the bedrock of the Western Alliance since after the last world war.

For most of the rest of the world Mr. Trump is not the usual credible American president. He has very little credibility. He is not liked (to put it politely) anywhere in the world, with the exception of Israel and some Arab royal palaces (and maybe in Manila). Predictably Netanyahu made a short speech welcoming Trump’s non-withdrawal from JCPOA, while the controlled Saudi media cheered on.

So here is a suggestion: why not declare the United States, and Israel, as members of the Arab League. They can start as observer-members. It is all an incredible fantastic circus anyway……….

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

Donald Trump the Peacemaker: New Apostle of Wahhabi Islam and Virgin Drivers……

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“The imam of the grand mosque of Mecca has claimed Donald Trump, the US and Saudi Arabia are “steering the world to peace”, in comments during a visit to New York that sparked an outcry on social media. They are “steering the world and humanity to the ports of security, peace and prosperity,” he added, claiming that the two countries should unite to “combat terrorism” and to “realise security and international peace”. The conference, on ‘Civilisational communication between the United States of America and the Islamic World‘…….”

No doubt the royal princes are now throwing all their eggs into the basket of Donald Trump. George W Bush refused to do their bidding in the Persian Gulf and wage another war after Iraq. Barack Obama mocked their sectarian war demands in his Atlantic Magazine interview. They have tried to get Netanyahu to go to war on their behalf, but he is no fool: he has been all talk and no action as far as my Gulf is concerned.

During the Riyadh Summit/Circus last May, I posted here about Donald Trump as the Sixth Pillar of Wahhabi Islam. I was referring to the extremely deferential way the Saudi leaders treated Donald Trump, knowing his proclivity for praise (and money). His near-anointment as a sort of guardian of Islam (to the cheers of General Al Sisi, Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka). Even the top Saudi clerics in Mecca praised Trump in their speeches during the summit (as they were allegedly ordered to do so).

Now comes the “mother of all praises”. The Imam of the Holy Shrine in Mecca, no less, has opined that the world depends on the Saudi king and Donald Trump for peace. Now, you can’t kiss it lower or better than this. It is very likely that Mr. Trump will believe all this. The Saudi king, like all Arab kings, knows better. They also know his weaknesses: they are buying Trump, and not only with money….


In 2011, a Saudi scholar/cleric wrote a study for the appointed Shura Council about women and driving. In it he warned that if Saudi women were allowed to drive, that would be the end of virginity in the magic kingdom. The men were given a choice: women drivers or virginity. Possibly something in the local water made a woman go wild as soon as she got hold of a car’s steering wheel (rather suggestive, don’t you think?).
Apparently all this has changed, now the Wahhabi clerics believe that Saudi women can drive and keep their virginity….


I suspect President Donald Trump can now publicly take credit for this new driving policy that also allows women to keep their virginity even as they drive cars.
Interesting times we live in, no?

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

Gulf Godfathers Competing for Israeli Love, but Real Target is U.S. Congress…..

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Tell Mike it was only business. I always liked him…” (Sal Tessio to Consigliere Tom Hagen: Godfather 1)

“Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made a discreet visit to Israel despite the fact that the Jewish state and Saudi Arabia do not have official diplomatic ties, Israeli and Arab media speculated earlier in the week. Rumors about the momentous visit, which was not confirmed by Israel, started swirling when Israel Radio’s diplomatic correspondent covering Arab affairs, Simon Aran, took to Twitter to announce the visit……. Israel Radio’s Arabic-language broadcast reported that the the senior figure was a “Saudi prince” who met with senior Israelis to discuss regional peace. According to the report, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry refused to comment………”

Qatar is trying to arrange meetings between its senior leadership and the heads of major Jewish American organizations during next week’s UN General Assembly. The natural gas-rich country has reached out to the heads of a number of prominent Jewish groups and asked if they would meet with the emir and crown prince while they visit New York City……….”

You’ve come a long way baby (addressing the Arab World).
Gone were the days when Palestine was the main, nay allegedly the only, Arab (and Muslim) cause. The excuse for all military coups and for absolute dynastic rule. Now it is on the verge of being a non-cause.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (non-elected Mayor of Ramallah) flies to Paris to join generously-paid American politicians (of both parties) in extolling the virtues of the Iranian terrorist cult Mujahideen Khalq (MEK). MEK/MKO was formerly an ally of Saddam Hussein and on the US terrorist list, but is now reportedly a joint project of the Mossad and Saudi royal princes.

Unofficial and semi-official “rumors” spread this week that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the country’s effective king, has “secretly” visited Israel, and neither side denies it. But much of official (and unofficial) Arab media ignored the alleged visit: apparently one doesn’t mention such visits in mixed or polite company. And if you do, there is a stiff price to pay, especially in other Gulf states and in Egypt. Apparently to the Arab princes Israel is like a proverbial mistress: the relationship is there but nobody talks about it in public. Even the secretly ISIS-loving Gulf Salafis, perennial Saudi fifth columnists, have completely ignored the visit (and other visits before it).

Not to be outdone, the rival Qatar‘s princes now scramble to send signals to pro-Israeli Jewish groups in New York that the Emir and his deputy would love to meet with them. The Qatari rulers have been facing repeated coup attempts from their big Gulf “sister” for twenty years, and now they have to put up with Donald Trump, a businessman whose instinct is to go with the highest bidder.

Now it is cool, it is hip, among certain Arab classes, especially in the Persian Gulf, to blow kisses and whisper sweet nothings to Israel. Especially to its current right-wing government. This seems to be especially true in the case of the two feuding Wahhabi dynasties of the Gulf GCC. Gone are the days when official Wahhabi clerics (and some diehard official Muslim Brothers) habitually called the Jewish people “descendants of monkeys and pigs” in their sermons.

Still, this is not true love. It is all about business. As Sal Tessio famously told Tom Hagen: “Tell Mike it was only business. I always liked him…” (Godfather 1)


But the true target of all this Arab royal serenading and wooing is not Israel, nor the Jewish people in general. The real target is the United States Congress (both houses and both parties). The current U.S Congress may be hopeless and useless in passing domestic policy, but it can do a lot of damage in the Middle East. As much as Donald Trump seems determined to cause. And the princes and potentates know it, hence the appearance of lust.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum