Category Archives: U.S. Foreign Policy

The World’s First Sanctions Nation: Starvation vs. Bombs……..

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“The U.S. has prepared a list of Turkish entities and individuals to target should it decide to impose sanctions on Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government for imprisoning U.S. citizens and employees of its diplomatic mission, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. The lira slid. While negotiations to release one of the people, evangelical Pastor Andrew Brunson, are ongoing, the preparation of the so-called “designation packages” shows how close the U.S. has come to imposing unprecedented penalties against a NATO ally……..”

Turkey is just the last one. It is not only Turkey, hardly that.

Sanctions have become the favorite weapon used by US administrations in the past few decades. They are now more prevalent under Trump than ever before. Other NATO nations will also face sanctions, especially those major allies doing trade and investment deals with the Iranians. Companies from Britain, France, Germany, Italy and other NATO members will face American sanctions.

There is hardly a country in the world where US sanctions are not imposed, either on the whole country, on its officials, or on some of its companies and individuals. Cuba was probably among the earliest ones, and is still a target of sanctions: it was sanctioned long before the Soviet missiles showed up on the island.

Excuses for sanctions/blockades range from repression (for non-allied poorer or non-rich countries only), to support of terrorism (for non-allied poorer countries only), nuclear activity (for non-allied countries that have no nuclear weapons only), an unacceptable regime (for non-allied non-major-trade-partner countries only), to more petty political excuses or other disputes.

Truly this has become the First Sanctions Nation in World History. And it is a bi-partisan policy. But I suppose it is better to squeeze nations, starve them, than bomb them. But yet the bombs keep falling anyway…….

P.S: Some Middle East media, especially pro-Iranian ones,now claim/report that the Trump administration is insisting on a particular candidate to be Iraq‘s prime minister, regardless of his coalition votes. They claim the administration is threatening to “sanction” any Iraqi politician or parties who oppose this US stance.

Cheers

Mohammed haider Ghuloum

ICYMI: Your Friendly Neighborhood Taliban Cutthroats Are Not Terrorists!……

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“U.S. Officials Hold Direct Peace Talks with the Taliban…..U.S. diplomats have held direct peace talks with the Taliban aimed at ending the ongoing 17-year U.S. war in Afghanistan. The New York Times reports the Trump administration is urging U.S.-backed Afghan troops to retreat from rural areas and focus on protecting Kabul and other major cities. The Times also reports this strategy will likely ensure the Taliban remains in control of vast stretches of the countryside, where the majority of Afghans live……”

“To the U.S., the Afghan Taliban is largely an insurgency with control over vast swaths of territory and aspirations to govern the country, while its Pakistani offspring is considered nothing but a terrorist organization. But the real reason the Afghan Taliban is not on the list has more to do with political considerations than whether or not it meets the statutory criteria for a terrorist designation……..”

Interesting. The Taliban were the worst terror organization/group in the Muslim World for years. Until ISIS, an offshoot of their Al Qaeda allies and partners, showed up. They have been responsible for, or cooperated in, killing thousands of Americans (along with their Wahhabi-Salafist allies). More than any other terrorist group ever. They cooperated in direct attacks on the American homeland during 9/11, something nobody else has done, none of the alleged threats like Hezbollah or Hamas or even Gaddi’s Libya or Saddam Hussein. Their Pakistani Taliban branch was designated as a terrorist group, but not the Afghan headquarters which tormented Afghanistan, aided and sheltered Al Qaeda before and during the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. The Afghan mother branch is now treated almost like the neighborhood sweet girl-next-door branch.

I believe the Taliban were never listed as a terrorist organization/group for two other deeper reasons. You see:

  • They are an offshoot of the Islamist Mujahideen of Afghanistan, created by Saudi money and American weapons in the 1980s to harass the Soviet/Russian forces supporting the secular leftist government in that country. After the Soviets and the secular regime departed, the Mujahideen, including the Taliban, proceeded to destroy Afghanistan. It is effectively a Saudi-Salafi-Western baby, a hometown chicken that came home to roost across the wider Middle East and North Africa and beyond.
  • The Taliban are not Middle Eastern, they are not involved in Middle East politics, so no Petro-Arab/AIPAC lobbyists are after them in the United States, spending money and applying political pressure, buying politicians, pundits, and prominent think-tanks. Unlike other more official organizations in, say Iran or Lebanon or Yemen or Gaza, etc. Who are not so generous, or so accommodating. For example…..

Capisce?

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Nuclear Question: How to Spell Filibuster in the Korean of Pyongyang…….

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted today (Sunday): Landed in Finland for Helsinki 2018 where POTUS & Prez Putin are set to discuss US/Russian relations. POTUS meeting is in the interest of US national security. It’s critical that the leaders of the US & Russia engage on important matters between our two countries…. On July 16, working level meetings between US and DPRK officials are scheduled to begin to coordinate next steps, including the transfer of American service members’ remains already collected in the DPRK……

My two cents on this? How do you say FILIBUSTER in the Korean nuclear dialect of Pyongyang?
I hope I am wrong on this but I doubted it very much….

 

Korean Nuclear Diplomacy: Flim Flam La La Land Approach and Roosting JCPOA Chickens……
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Korean Nuclear Diplomacy: Flim Flam La La Land Approach and Roosting JCPOA Chickens……

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North Korea: we reject gangster-like unilateral denuclearization demands..

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: talks on denuclearization of North Korea going well…..

Donald Trump (tweeting): I have confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed, and even more importantly, our “handshake”. We “agreed” to the denuclearization of North Korea. China, on the other hand, may be exerting negative pressure on a deal….

Yours Truly: but you did not honor the previous Nuclear Deal that the USA and Europe and the UN Security Council agreed to with Iran. You reneged on an international agreement signed on by the UN and Europe (and the USA). Why should Kim Jong Un trust you now? You will not be able to separate the two cases. Iran Deal chickens coming home to roost, Donald.

Yours Truly: this is “Flim Flam La La Land Nuclear Diplomacy

Cheers

M. Haider Ghuloum

Nuclear Talks: Trump Gives Up His Ace Too Soon, Anyone Remember Otto Warmbier?….

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Secretary of States Mike Pompeo has been tweeting a storm of optimism about his meetings with North Korea’s top killer and survivor Kim Yong Chol. Example “Good progress today during our meetings with Kim Yong Chol and his team. North Korea and the world would benefit greatly from the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula…

@POTUS has made it clear that if Kim Jong-un denuclearizes, there is a brighter path for #DPRK. We envision a strong, connected, secure, and prosperous #NorthKorea that maintains its cultural heritage but is integrated into the community of nations.

The proposed summit offers a historic opening for @POTUS and Chairman Kim to boldly lead U.S. and #DPRK into a new era of peace, prosperity, and security. Our countries face a pivotal moment in which it could be nothing short of tragic to let this opportunity go to waste.

Here is what I think and what I tweeted to him this morning: “Kim Jong Un knows that only his nuclear weapons got him to the summit with @potus. If you think Kim will give up his golden goose, his existing nuclear weapons, you are one of two: 1) more delusional than #potus (Donald Trump) or 2) A greater dissembler than Trump.
Both unlikely… …

Of course this get-together might be easier for a reason. Benyamin Netanyahu and his Saudi allies are not breathing heavily down the necks of both Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo against any deal allowing North Korea to remain a nuclear power, as it certainly will.
So, folks, get ready for a nuclear North Korea: Donald Trump has already given up his best hand just for the pleasure of meeting with the man he called Fat Little Rocket Man…. right after throwing the family of Otto Otto Frederick Warmbier under the bus….

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

The Strategic Genius of John Bolton: The Gun-Shy Man Who Seeks More Endless Muslim Wars……

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“Early in the George W. Bush administration, Bolton opposed and undercut Secretary of State Colin Powell’s attempt to pursue a compromise with a still nonnuclear North Korea, advocating isolation instead. More than 15 years later Kim Jong Un has a substantial nuclear arsenal and long-range missiles, and will now negotiate with Trump from a position of strength. Are we about to repeat that play in Iran?………”  The Atlantic

“In a series of interviews with The Atlantic magazine published Thursday, Mr. Obama said a number of American allies in the Persian Gulf — as well as in Europe — were “free riders,” eager to drag the United States into grinding sectarian conflicts that sometimes had little to do with American interests. He showed little sympathy for the Saudis, who have been threatened by the nuclear deal Mr. Obama reached with Iran. The Saudis, Mr. Obama told Jeffrey Goldberg, the magazine’s national correspondent, “need to find an effective way to share the neighborhood and institute some sort of cold peace.” Reflexively backing them against Iran, the president said, “would mean that we have to start coming in and using our military power to settle scores. And that would be in the interest neither of the United States nor of the Middle East.”

That is the problem now. Bolton failed to get George W. Bush into more wars, but he managed to sabotage any prospect for peaceful resolutions in Korea or the Middle East. Not a bad achievement for a man of (at best) mediocre intelligence who assiduously evaded the Vietnam War, which he supported as long as others did the fighting. Ergo:  a classic chickenhawk. Exactly like many other warmonger neocons including Dick Cheney and Donald Trump.

Bolton is set now to push a new president, one who has no knowledge of world affairs, towards more wars. Mostly Muslim wars at the behest of Arab oil kings and potentates and an extreme right-wing Israeli regime. While he was marginal in the Bush era, he is considered “knowledgeable’ in the Trump administration.

That is because “in an administration of the blind, the one-eyed chickenhawk is king”.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Dhahran Summit of the Incompetent and the Impotent and General Sisi’s Plastic Missiles……..

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Arab leaders started their annual summit yesterday. This year it is in Dhahran (Zahran), Saudi Arabia, right on the Persian Gulf, right over the oil fields. Right across the waterway from Iran and the scowling ayatollahs. One can imagine that you can see the mountains of Iran if you squint hard enough, if you can see through all the Western naval warships clogging my Gulf.
These Western warships that are there presumably to deter an alleged Iranian attack that will never materialize, that has not materialized in over two centuries.

So far in my lifetime (and in my father’s and my grandfather’s lifetime), the only aggression in my Gulf has been committed by one Arab country against another, in one case by one Arab country against Iran:

Kuwait was invaded from what is now called Saudi Arabia at least twice, last time in the 1920s.
Kuwait was often threatened and then actually invaded and occupied by Baathist Iraq in 1990. Only the USA and Western allies liberated it, with some token Arab forces.

Yemen was invaded at least twice from Saudi Arabia. Large chunks of its territory were annexed, Israeli-style, by the Saudis during the last century.

Yemen has been, still is, the target of daily bombing and genocide by Saudi Arabia with active British-American help for the past three years.

Bahrain has been the beneficiary of a joint Saudi-UAE expeditionary force that helps the ruling family crush a popular uprising and the popular calls for reform.

Qatar was the target of a Saudi-instigated coup in the 1990s. It failed and several high Saudi intelligence officials were jailed in Doha for years. Now Qatar is again the target of a Cuba-style economic and total blockade from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Bahrain and Qatar have had their territorial disputes and clashes for decades.

Iraq invaded Iran in 1980, starting a war that lasted eight year. That losing war bankrupted Iraq and was the beginning of the end of the Baath regime of Saddam Hussein.
And there is more….

This Dhahran summit was weakly-attended: several Arab leaders sent second or third or even fourth rate representatives. The Emir of Qatar was smart enough to stay home; he probably did not want to be taken hostage by the fellow Arab princes of Riyadh. He remembers what happened to Lebanon’s Saad Hariri last year. Algeria, Oman, Morocco, even the UAE downgraded their delegates.

Bashar Al Assad would not stoop to attend the summit even if he were invited. There was no mention of the GCC crisis, of the Arab blockade of Qatar, of the Western attack on Syria.

The Saudi king declared that the Dhahran Summit will be called the Jerusalem Summit (presumably to celebrate his new friend Trump’s move of the US embassy).

In recent decades, Arab summits have been impotent gatherings of incompetent leaders. In the shadow of the huge American and British armadas and military bases, the Saudi king talked against “foreign” interference in Arab affairs. As if the NATO military forces and bases dotting my Gulf region were purely Arab forces.

In my lifetime, I have never seen the Arab world in such disarray and weakness, largely controlled by outside powers: be they American, Iranian, Israeli, or Turkish. This was probably the worst summit of them all, and the most hypocritical.

Its incompetence was summarized by Egyptian dictator Generalissimo Al Sisi, who raged against what he called “plastic” missiles being fired from Yemen in retaliation for constant Saudi bombing. I believe Al Sisi meant “ballistic” missiles. But he was onto something, inadvertently. The huge Arab armies, very expensively armed by the West to face a non-existing enemy across the Persian Gulf, are almost like “plastic” missiles. They are useless without Western help, guidance, and management. And very likely they also need imported personnel to operate them…

Cheers (if you can)
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

 

Tweets on GroupThink: Alleged Syrian Chemical Red Lines and the Push for a ‘Trump’ Quagmire……….

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It is not clear what happened in Douma, Syria yesterday. US media and many politicians are accepting the rebel Islamist narrative that the regime used chemical weapons in Douma, just as the regime was about to take control of Douma anyway (without use of chemicals). I don’t know what happened, but I carry a bag of salt over my shoulder. Some of my (modified) tweets about the recent alleged chemical attacks in Syria:

Sen. Graham (former desk-bound lawyer for USAF- US Air Force): “he’s going to look weak in the eyes of Russia and Iran
He sure knows how to rile up the dotard…..
But Graham also has never seen a Middle East war he didn’t like….

I: He can punish Syria by having USAF carpet-bomb Damascus with millions of his inaugural photos…….

Hey, @realDonaldTrump, this is still valid —-> Donald Trump in Syria: Not Beau Geste, not Dien Bien Phu, not Khe Sanh, not Desert Storm……. 

US main media is urging “an attack” against Syria…
Saudi Arabian princes urging a war against Iran….
Israeli Likud urging war against Iran….
John Bolton acting as a Fifth Column for all of the above….

UN Security Council to meet today about Syrian chemical attack. Will not discus Israeli “illegal” air attack on Syria. Will not discuss US supported genocide in Yemen.

Russians claim they are in Douma now, see no chemical weapons effects. Call it a fabrication.

Most US GroupThink media are afraid to question all allegations….

All this obsession with “Red Lines“….. All this macho crap….
Democrats whining about Trump “abandoning” Syria ……

No mention of Obama….
Yet when when the quagmire materializes, they will scream a “Trump Quagmire!”

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

War Planner Bolton Misses a Red Wedding, Bin Salman’s World Conquest, Khamenei the Conqueror…….

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This looks deceptively like a slow news weekend, outside of Germany and the Gaza killings. But this can be deceptive; there are other bits of news in the Middle East: 

Wars in Syria and Yemen grind on…..

Saudi Crown Prince MBS, officially called New Hunk in Town by female anchor women of his own media, is on the tail-end of his Tour of World Conquest. He wants to accomplish it before the old Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei takes over the world. The prince has been told by expensive lobbyists in Washington that the Hitler analogy is always popular, hence this silly breathless headline in the Atlantic. The Prince has already secured the allegiance of Britain and the USA (including media icons like Norah O’Donnell and the Empress Oprah). He also already owns much of the eastern half of the Arab world outside Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Qatar.

The eldest sons of Donald Trump (Eric and Donald Jr), attended the wedding of some Real Estate tycoon in the United Arab Emirates. The wedding of some son of a DAMAC Properties Dubai oligarch.

John Bolton (not related to the Red Wedding characters) declined the Dubai wedding because, they say, he’s busy planning a couple of new Muslim wars in the Middle East.
Young Barron declined that he had better things to do (he does)……
But the weekend is just starting….

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Donald Trump in Syria: Not Beau Geste, not Dien Bien Phu, not Khe Sanh, not Desert Storm……

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President Trump has been flip-flopping on a Syrian  withdrawal again. But he was quoted Monday that he might keep the (uninvited) troops in IF the Saudis pay him (as they pay mercenaries?). Now his staff say he might keep some forces in Syria for a ‘short time’. Such alleged intentions have often led to prolonged wars of attrition (Vietnam, latest iteration of the Afghanistan War).

But nobody has asked Syria’s government or people if they want American troops in their country (funded with Saudi money and hence beholden to the potentates’ unrealistic goals in Syria).

The advice Trump will get, is getting, from his advisers and from self-serving Arab potentates seems to be to keep a ‘substantial’ small force in Syria. Under the guise of mopping up the remnants of ISIS. But many believe that this has nothing to do with ISIS anymore. And this force will be isolated in the ‘desert’. Besieged by unreliables and hostiles/potential hostiles: disgruntled former Turkish allies, Arab Jihadists, Kurdish factions, Syrian regime forces, Hezbollah, Iraqi PMU, Brigadier Qassem Soleimani & his men, et al. Their access will depend on cooperation from some highly unreliable players in a highly unreliable region.

This is not like a repeat of the first Persian Gulf War to liberate Kuwait, when all sides were identifiable, lined up behind clear and visible battle lines. When the goal was clear.

Is somebody setting these American troops up as sitting ducks in the desert for their own agenda? A more isolated, unwinnable version of Khe Sanh? But the brave fighters at that Vietnamese outpost were not nearly as isolated as the strip of Syria that is relevant here. Besides, Khe Sanh, although not a Dien Bien Phu, was apparently just a diversionary battle that preceded the Tet Offensive.

Unless Mr. Bolton and all those pushing for this dubious project are willing to suit up, go to contested eastern Syria.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum