Category Archives: Saudi Arabia

A Suspicious Saudi Confederation on my Gulf…………

        
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The Saudis are beginning to push the idea of a “GCC confederation” again. This time the push is directly from Saudi media (which is all official and semi-official, unless the publisher is in exile). This writer in Saudi daily al-Riyadh is making it sound urgent to establish the al-Saud hegemony over the smaller states of my Gulf, in preparation to swallowing them into the Kingdom without Magic.

As I wrote last week, the idea has been floating around the Gulf states in recent months, and it is being revived these days. Pro-Saudi Salafis and a handful of pro-Saudi media writers (some of them most likely surrogates encouraged or funded from Riyadh) are calling for a ‘confederation’ of the GCC Gulf states. One irresponsible columnist even called for a “quick confederation”, and he was covered extensively and gleefully by Saudi media. None of these worthies advises seeking people’s consent through referendums, or a vote on the issue: such is the state of watermelon opinion-makers on my Gulf. The potentates are seen as owning the countries to do with whatever they wish. One or two have become obsessive compulsive about it, repeating this frequently. They use fear of Iran as a factor, as well as stoking suspicion and fear of local Shi’as (minorities in all the GCC except Bahrain). The pro-Saudi tweeters (or possibly Saudi agents) are also pushing this idea.

I opined last year that it will not get anywhere. The Gulf states range politically from an absolute monarchy system to a partial democracy (I am not including Bahrain among the latter). The Saudis may think that this will solve the problem of pressures for democracy and accountability. A solidly despotic regime on the Saudi mold would be a strong front against Western and Arab pressures for openness, they probably think. It would also bring all other GCC states down to the Saudi and Bahraini levels in the treatment of their minority Shi’a (Shi’ites). That last point is very important for the Wahhabi Kingdom without Magic. For the Salafis around the Gulf it would mean that all GCC states become socially Saudi-like: more power for the clergy, no social reforms, women safely kept at home. And no politics: absofuckinglutely no politics! Salafis would gain more ‘political’ power as their patron regime, the Saudis, would dominate the new confederation as a prelude to swallowing it.

One early serious problem with such a scheme is that the rulers of the smaller states are not as stupid as the Salafis and Saudi surrogates in their countries think. They are all protective of their own turf and would never accept such a plan, although one or two media outlets may pay lip service to it. The al-Nahayan of the UAE are almost as autocratic as the al-Saud and would never give up one iota of power to their own people or to foreigners. As for Oman, it has always had little real interest in any form of integration, always looking across the Persian-American Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Then there are the peoples of our region who value their independence and way of life, in spite of all the media noise that hint at the sun actually shining out of the ass of some Saudi prince or another. In other words, such a plan is not only impractical, but dangerous for the peoples of the Gulf states. It is DOA. Only the al-Khalifa of Bahrain may agree to such a hegemony, but then any regime that invites occupation and torments its own people would go far to cling to absolute power. br>
Therefore, I repeat my recent fatwa that this plan is a hair-brained scheme or, as we would say on the Gulf, “مشروع بطيخ” a watermelon scheme.

Cheers
mhg

Prince Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah Goes Hollywood……..

        
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“Hair-dresser turned movie producer Jon Peters confirmed that he sold 5.2 acres of land in Benedict Canyon to a Saudi prince who now plans to construct an 85,000-square-foot compound on the site. Prince Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud, a son of Saudi King Abdullah, purchased three adjacent parcels in 2009, Peters said. Property records list the sale price at $12 million. The Times reported Tuesday that the proposal had stirred heated opposition among neighbors, who include Bruce Springsteen and Michael Ovitz. Project opponents say they have gathered the support of about 500 residents, who contend the project would harm the canyon’s environment. …….”

These snooty California neighbors don’t even want a royal prince in their neighborhood. No respect anymore. Imagine, a fuckingroyal prince and Bruce Springsteen is turning him down! What is “The Boss” compared to a prince or to a Hollywood agent like Ovitz?  Enough to make any prince lose faith in such silly ideas as democracy and equality. He may end up pleading that it is a Zionist plot, the scoundrel. Could be that their experience with the Qaddafi sons has made the stars wary of Arab potentates?
You’d never ever read this item in any Saudi newspaper or television network or website or even on Kilroy’s famous toilet wall. This is the first installment of the new money the Saudi government announced last week to provide housing for people. At least they are being uncharacteristically fast about it.
(FYI: Jon Peters started as Barbra Streisand’s hair-dresser. She dumped her first husband, married Peters and made him into a film producer, before dumping him too).

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

The Gulf: Buying Arms and Media and the Internet…………….

        
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The United Arab Emirates and Qatar don’t care about democracy either. The Qataris only want to be able to buy every huge building & store in Europe & Asia & America. They also want to keep Aljazeera as the most popular Arab news network. They have al-Qardhawi in Egypt who they think will be influential, but he is a television shaikh, and young people look at TV shaikhs as being a little clownish. I doubt that many Egyptian youth pay much attention to him. Hell, I wouldn’t, and I am not young or Egyptian.

The United Arab Emirates
are even less inclined toward democratic values than Qatar. The potentates of Abu Dhabi just want to be able to buy every modern warplane and missile systems and tank and warship in the world. I hear they are in the market for a satellite to buy, which may indicate that the shaikhs believe all the UFO and extraterrestrial stories. They have been the second biggest importers of arms in the world in the past five years according to SIPRI. This for a country that has less than one million citizens (the other four million of the population are temporary foreign laborers, housemaids, and gardeners, mostly from South Asia). The way they are buying weapons, you’d think they are trying to speculate by hoarding, or maybe plotting to take over Saudi Arabia. Their shaikhs also want to buy as many and British soccer clubs as they can. Oh, and they like to be able to buy the best race horses in Britain.

The Saudi princes are into media big time. Obviously they are into other things as well because their numbers keep increasing. They have been buying Arab media furiously in the past few years. They own such well known outlets as Asharq Alawsat, al-Hayat, al-Arabiya, LBC, MBC, ART, etc, etc. They want to buy every Arabic newspaper & magazine & television network around, and they can afford it. They even own the whole Arab Thought Society, such as it is. They have never forgotten that Nasser of Egypt almost overthrew their dynasty with his strong media message. In fact the Saudis would like to buy the whole Internet and shut it down.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

From Syria with Love: the Illusion of Saudi Exceptionalism…….

        
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This writer in the semi-official Saudi daily Asharq Alawsat starts by assaulting the Syrian regime, probably deservedly so. Then he plunges straight into his favorite topic: Saudi exceptionalism. He claims that Saudi Arabia has surpassed the current popular Arab storm with distinguished success; that Saudi days turned into a “national carnival” of renewed loyalty and trust of the princes (but nothing about Brazilian thongs here). He claims that the “storm” benefited Saudi Arabia, not only because it was not “harmed” by it, but because the fires have reached the Syrian province of Houran!

He claims that what happened in Saudi Arabia has shocked and awed the whole wide wonderful world, including international correspondents who hoped to see angry demonstrations. Instead of unrest they saw a love-fest with people and king and princes (including Bandar of BAE Systems and SFO and Tony Blair fame) all making out and singing kumbaya. Literally Frenching on the streets of Riyadh, once a no-no frowned upon by the Saudi Commissions for the Propagation of Vice. He claims that with one 15 minute the king did what no leader in history has done: he defused tensions by solving all the pending problems of the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula. The exact opposite of Marcus Antonius outside the Senate on the Ides of March! And he did not even have to mention anything about democracy, freedom, and corruption among the princes! He says nothing about the Eastern province (al-‘Hasa), and the hundreds of thousands of security agents that inundated the streets, and the protests in Qatif and the hundreds taken to prison. He did not nominate any prince for the Nobel Prize for graft. The competition would be tough.

Yet he may have a right to gloat (for now): if the Syrian regime falls, that would be a loss for the Iranian regime, and a gain for the Saudi regime in the short term. Provided that any new Syrian regime is not ‘too’ democratic. Syria can be a double-edged sword for the Saudis if it comes through, especially if it goes democratic. If the surrounding countries, Arabs and Iran, turn more democratic, this cannot be good for Saudi rule. The princes know this: just look at the agonies of occupied Bahrain.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

My Disagreement with Ayatollah Khamenei………..

        
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Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Monday that there is no difference between the uprising against tyranny in Bahrain with other Arab countries such as Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia or Libya. The Leader, who was addressing a large group of people in Mashhad in the first day of Noruz (the Persian New Year), said this claim that Iran is supporting the Bahrainis because they are mostly Shia is absolutely false. Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran has been supporting the Sunni Muslims in Palestine over the past 32 years and this shows that Iran makes no difference between Shias and Sunnis. The Leader said those who are trying to interpret the Bahraini people’s uprising against despotism as the conflict between Shia and Sunni are in fact doing the “greatest service” to the United States. “Do not turn the anti-despotic movement of a nation into a Shia-Sunni problem,” Ayatollah Khamenei warned. “We will not make a differentiation between Gaza, Palestine, Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia,” the Leader asserted……..” Mehr News (Iran)

I don’t agree with Khamenei on many issues: the idea of Wilayat Faqih (rule of a supreme cleric), on theocracy, on secularism, on free speech, on the death penalty, and on many other issues.
But this one is different. Apparently Khamenei is pissed (putting it succinctly) that the vast Saudi official media dominating the Arab waves, and its surrogates in the Gulf states, are painting the Bahrain uprising as primarily a Shi’a-Sunni conflict. I happen to agree with Khamenei on this point, as do most Arabs, almost all Arabs, outside the sectarian-divided Gulf region. The rulers of Bahrain and their partners in Apartheid have been using this Shi’a-Sunni rift, enlarging it shamelessly for their own purpose, dividing the region and inflaming it. The Saudis and some other tame and controlled Gulf media have been aiding and abetting this shameful sectarian approach. On this one I agree with Khamenai, even though I disagree on many others.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Egypt’s Revolution and a Kingdom without Magic…………

        
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Now the country is trying to establish Mubarakism without Mubarak and it is determined to put an end to the “Middle East Spring” with petrodollars, terrorism and military intervention. It has been said: “The destiny of this pageant lies in the Kingdom of Oil…”…… After stifling protests within its own borders, Saudi Arabian intervention in Bahrain means that it is perpetuating its obscurantist message using terror. This policy of terror is due to the nature of how the power structure was formed in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is used to interpreting any kind of diversity “as an affront to Islam”. This has been the approach since 1744, the establishment of the pact between “the puritanical religious revivalist Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and a group of desert warriors known as the Ikhwan, who had embraced the call to arms of al-Sa’ud. The same pact governing this alliance between religious and temporal powers persists to this day through the clerical legitimization of the rule of the House of al-Sa’ud, and the reciprocal guarantee of the Islamic character of the state………..

He saysand guarantee the Islamic character of the state”. I beg to differ about this. He is talking about the ‘apparent’ Islamic character: the ubiquitous mosques, the shaggy Wahhabi shaikhs issuing fatwas-com-alibis, women not allowed to drive cars (although they rode whatever men rode at the time of the Prophet), etc. True Islamic character probably does not exist in most, nay any, countries, certainly including the Kingdom without Magic. It has to do with a core of values: justice, equality, not allowing corruption. Islamic character also does not mean these hairy Salafis, the enablers and cheerleaders of corrupt potentates. In the early days of true Islam most of these avaricious potentates would have met the same fate their own judges pass on poorer people these days: their hands chopped off, then flogged in public. That would be a switch, n’est-ce pas?
In early Islamic days, something like the BAE Systems scandal would not have happened (look it up under that or under: al-Yamama, or Tony Blair & SFO, or Prince Bandar), nor would many more we probably never read about. In this new age of ‘professed’ Western transparency and humongous arms deals by some of our states that barely have enough people to fill a football stadium. It has more to do with preserving the grip of dynasties on absolute power than Islamic character.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Saudi King: ‘I’m Just an Average Joe’, Al-Shaikh & Fermi…….

  
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Bahraini Child               High flying king            Thoroughly moderrn Shaikh Al
Alarabiya network, owned by a royal in-law and headed by a Saudi prince, reports that Saudi King Abdullah has requested that he not be killed ‘King of Hearts’ or ‘King of Humanity’. In fact he requested that people stop calling him ‘king’ altogether, saying that God (Allah not Yahweh) is the only king. This breakthrough apparently occurred during a meeting with the big banana of the Council of Senior Ulema (clergy) and Department of Scientific Research and Fatwa Shaikh Abdulaziz Al Al-Shaikh, a gaggle of other shaikhs, the Secretary General of the GCC, ministers, and the elite of Saudi society (such as it is).
Now this Scientific Research and Fatwa business can be confusing to a heathen (that would be most of you, and probably even me by Wahhabi standards). They obviously don’t mean the Einstein or Oppenheimer or Teller or Fermi kind of science (not even Luis Alvarez who taught me Physics 101 years ago). They mean Shaikh Abdulaziz Al Al-Shaikh and his merry group of state-appointed clergy, the guys who fatwa banning protests in all Arab countries except in Libya and Iraq and Syria.
I have noted before that this Shaikh Al Al-Shaikh, and all the other Shaikhs Al Al-Shaikh, are direct descendant of Shaikh Mohammed Abdulwahhab, after whom the term ‘Wahhabi’ was coined. He is not to be confused with the late great Egyptian singer and musician Mohammed Abdelwahhab, who was not a Wahhbai and never issued fatwas. Skaikh al is not entertaining.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

A Prince Opines on Lulu Square, the Warsaw Uprising, and Uncle Adolph……..

        
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Prince ALWALEED: Let me tell you, the so-called day of rage should be changed to some other word, please. Should call it day of allegiance and love to the King Abdullah. Today if you’re on the streets, people have the flags up, they were just themselves and say, `We will not tolerate and accept any sort of demonstration here. We’re happy with our king, we love our king, and we will not accept any outside interference at all,’….. You know, we have issues, sure, internally, like any other country, and we had some demonstrations in the Shiite province in the east coast. And we had maybe around 40, 50 demonstrators yesterday. And the whole thing, you know, just faded away after they had discussion with the authorities over there. We had issues in the past, we resolved them internally and amicably. …….. So really, this whole thing should be changed from day of rage to day of allegiance to the king……Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I mean, look, having said all that. King Abdullah is not going to take this for granted at all. King Abdullah is a reformer. King Abdullah is a reformer since he became the king almost five years ago. And it’s a process, it’s an ongoing process, you know.…….. I mean, this show, for ladies driving, yes, I’m for it. And listen, the fact that I would publicly and openly, this shows that in Saudi Arabia there’s an open debate….. So really, we are heading in the right direction. Maybe not the same speed that you’d like us to, but each country has to move at the speed that it needs. And exactly that’s what President Obama said today, that each country should change in the Middle East at its own speed, its own pace, and without outside interference……

So Prince al-Waleed Bin Talal Bin Abdelaziz al-Saud thinks the term “day of rage” should be changed to “day of allegiance” or “day of love for the king”. He may be right to pile
praise on King Abdullah. Compared to who is lining up too replace him, he is not bad. They better pray that Abdullah lives a few more years, pray that a couple of the other princes pass away before him (you know the two I’m referring to).

Now, assuming he means changing the term across the Arab world: in Libya it would be “a day of love for Mu’ammar”, in Bahrain it would be a “day of love for Hamad and Khalifa” (okay the uncle is a bit too much to stomach). Imagine if he lived in 1943: what he would say about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising? “Let’s not get carried away, let us not call it a ‘Warsaw Uprising’, no, let us call it a ‘day of love for uncle Adolph and uncle Hermann‘ or, better yet ‘a day of bonding with the SS'”.

“Without outside interference” indeed! They are shooting protesters in Qatif as I type right now. What was going on in the head of Maria Bartiromo during all this? I would not want to guess, not publicly.

(He may be right to pile praise on King Abdullah. Compared to who is lining up too replace him, they better pray that he lasts a few more years).
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Can Saudi Money and Western Arms Kill the Arab Spring?…………

        
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  Can the Saudi army crush her spirit?
You say you want a revolution

Well, you know
We all want to change the world
 You tell me that it’s evolution

Well, you know
We all want to change the world….
” The Beatles

Mr. Maskati is a 24-year-old human rights activist who not long ago felt so close to achieving Egypt’s kind of peaceful revolution, through a dogged commitment to nonviolence. Then the Saudi tanks rolled into Bahrain, and protesters came under attack, the full might of the state hammering at unarmed civilians. “We thought it would work,” Mr. Maskati said, his voice soft with depression, yet edged with anger. “But now, the aggression is too much. Now it’s not about the protest anymore, it’s about self-defense.” The Arab Spring is not necessarily over, but it has run up against dictators willing to use lethal force to preserve their power……At first, they seemed an unstoppable force, driven by the power of demographics — about 60 percent of the population across the Arab world is under the age of 30………

It is now clear that the forces of Arab despotism and reaction have recovered from the initial shock of the revolution and have regrouped. The revolution seemed to cut through the decrepit old Arab system like a knife through rancid butter, moving from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen to Bahrain to Libya and beyond (perhaps to Saudi Arabia). Now the revolution has stalled in the desert of Libya and in the burned and bloody streets of occupied Bahrain. In Libya, Qaddafi has redeployed his oil money and his Western weapons and may have bought himself a reprieve. In Bahrain the people were on the verge of defeating their despotic rulers, when U.S officials started visiting with more frequency just before Saudi arms intervened by invading the country and occupying it.

The Saudi strategy for defeating the Arab spring is simple: to co-opt it in North Africa (Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya) with money and through Western allies, and to crush it by force and genocide in Bahrain and the Arabian Peninsula. Yemen is getting bloodier as the dictator clings to his capital city.
The Saudi invasion of Bahrain, aided by the United Arab Emirates as a baggage carrier, came only a few hours after the US Defense Secretary left Bahrain, possibly with Jeffrey Feltman still in Manama. Or maybe not: Feltman has visited the island several times in only a few weeks and is becoming gradually known in our region as a Shi’a-baiter to a Wahhabi degree (you’d think he is running the al-Khalifa campaign the way he runs the right-wing March 14 campaign in Lebanon, or that he is running for office over there).

In any case, Saudi money has bought the king (formerly emir) of Bahrain to such a degree that he has invited them in to occupy the country and subjugate its people. A king inviting a Wahhabi force to subjugate his largely Shi’a people: it is like inviting Nazis into a Jewish neighborhood. But Saudi money will not subjugate a country like Egypt the way it did under the stagnant Mubarak. It may rob the revolution of some of its gains if the Egyptian people are not careful. Saudi money and force will not subjugate the people of Bahrain for long either; they barely escaped their last intervention in Yemen. Besides, they will probably have more fires to put out at home in the coming months.

As for the West: well, how many ways can one spell ‘hypocrisy’? The West was eager to keep the old order in North Africa until it was too late. Now they are eager to take on Qaddafi. In Bahrain, where people are being killed and displaced by a corrupt kleptocratic regime, the West is largely turning a blind eye with a soft unconvincing “Oh, you shouldn’t!” No doubt dreaming of huge weapons deal from the al-Saud and al-Nahayan clans.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Satrapy of Bahrain: who Rules in Manama?………..

        
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  Can the Saudi army crush her spirit?
American officials want Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to allow political reforms that could lead to more representation for Shiites under Sunni rule. During his telephone conversation with the Saudi king, Mr. Obama called for an end to the violence that has accelerated in Bahrain over the last few days. He asked for a “political process as the only way to peacefully address the legitimate grievances of Bahrainis and to lead to a Bahrain that is stable, just, more unified and responsive to its people,”……..”

So Obama is discussing the future of Bahrain with Kin Abdullah, a foreigner to Bahrain.
So tell me again: who did you say rules in Bahrain?………..
It is clear to me that the king of Bahrain is now a satrap (wali in Arabic, which is worse) of the Saudi monarchy. His avaricious clan are now allowed to continue their plunder of Bahrain, but its politics are left to the big boys across the causeway. The shots now are called from Riyadh not Manama.
Let this be a lesson for other states on my Gulf: never invite Saudi (or Iranian or Iraqi) troops to prop up your regime. If you have to do that, then it is time to do a Bin Ali or a Mubarak and get the hell out of Dodge.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com