Category Archives: U.S. Foreign Policy

Mulling ISIS Supply Routes and Friedman’s Arab Taxis on a Pacific Northwest Trail………

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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I though I’d write a Friedman-esque (as in Thomas not Milton) post today. I am not starting it upon arrival at some Arab airport and a ride into town in a taxi driven by Abdu (in Cairo) or Abed (in Beirut) or Abul-Abed (in Amman). Funny, when Friedman goes to Beijing, the inscrutable Chinese taxi drivers (Abu Wong, et al) never share their local wisdom with him. Only Arabs do: blab and share their apparent wisdom with Western journalists.

No, I was thinking about that yesterday, Saturday. As we biked the twenty mile round trip along the Sammamish River Trail, past a couple of vintners joints and at least one hbrewery, towards the Burke-Gilman Trail. On an unusually cloudless warm morning of the Pacific Northwest. Here goes: 

I saw a retired general (USMC) state that ISIS controls the upper rivers (Euphrates and Tigris) and roads from Syria to resupply their forces in Iraq. Which made me wonder, as I pedaled along that peaceful bike trail:

  • Where do ISIS get these supplies and volunteers from Syria (as the general said)?  Why is Syria their main supply route into Iraq? And from where and how do these weapons and the money and volunteers flow into Syria then into Iraq? And how would increasing the supply of weapons to the useless Syrian opposition groups affect the flow of weapons to the ISIS Caliphate? Should we ask Turkey or Saudi Arabia or Qatar or Jordan about this? They certainly don’t flow from Cyprus (no, Israel is also an unlikely source).
  • From which Syrian (FSA, Ansar-Al-WTF, etc, etc) “relatively moderate” opposition groups and gangs did ISIS purchase some of these Western hostages (journalists and aid workers) that were so horribly beheaded on camera? And they were no doubt purchased from some of the other would-be liberators of Syria.

Before I had finished, er, mulling this last question, it was time for us to hydrate and turn around. Sort of like what happens when Thomas Friedman’s Arab taxi, driven by Abdu (in Cairo) or Abed (in Beirut) or Abul-Abed (in Amman), or Abu-Wong (in Beijing) drives up to the hotel entrance. Before he finishes sharing his strategic and cultural gems with us.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

ISIS and the Arabs: a Standing Joke of a League…….

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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Back to my last post about President Obama’s ISIS speech:
One or two of the experts, in their post-speech comments, lamely suggested the Arab League, a useless gathering of mostly dictators and absolute tribal kings with little moral standing. It is now dominated by the same princes and potentates who spawned and nurtured groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS and their ilk.

Among many ordinary Arabs, the only standing the Arab League bureaucracy has is as a standing joke. A place to bury aging senior Arab (especially Egyptian) bureaucrats before they die. Only Western, specifically American politicians and pundits would suggest the Arab League as a mover and shaker, and with a straight face. But that is probably only because it can be useful to them as a fig leaf.

Don’t get me wrong, the idea of an Arab League can eventually be a good one, nay a necessary one. But that can be only after all member states hold free and unfettered elections. You figure out the timetable.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Hobson’s Choice in Syria: Bad, Badder, or Baddest?…….

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15           DennyCreek2

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HOBSON’S CHOICE:
1. an apparently free choice when there is no real alternative
2. the necessity of accepting one of two or more equally objectionable alternatives.………
”                                                                                                     Merriam Webster

“The jihadi group surging through Iraq and Syria is using large captured US-made weapons and has access to anti-tank rockets supplied by Saudi Arabia to a moderate rebel group, according to a report published on Monday. The study by the London-based Conflict Armament Research consultancy found that Islamic State (Isis) militants had access to large numbers of US weapons, which they were shifting to key battlefields……..The report was compiled from a list of weapons captured from Isis by Kurdish militias over a 10-day period in July. Of most interest was the capture of two M-79 rockets that were identical to a batch of such weapons supplied by Saudi Arabia to rebels………”

So this report seems to corroborate what we have all been saying for some time: it is almost impossible to keep weapons from being transferred among Syrian Jihadis. There is an active Syrian market for them and they get taken and sold and gifted between the hundreds of Jihadi groups and gangs that seek to liberate Syria for the Saudi and Qatari princes and take it back to their distorted vision of the seventh century (AD). ISIS and Al Nusra and all the other “Jabhats” and “Ansars” and myriad groupies get enough money from their well-known sources to be able to ‘buy’ whatever weapons they want from other Syrian ‘freedom fighters’, including the Free Syrian Salafi Army.

The fact is that within Syria there are no real non-Jihadi rebels anymore. This has been the case since late 2011, after the Wahhabis of the Persian Gulf region mobilized their vast financial, media, and volunteer resources and deployed them, armed with a strong dose of deep sectarian hatred, to commandeer a nascent uprising in Syria. Just a few years after deploying the same murderous resources to massacre Iraqi civilians in their towns and cities.

Within Syria the choice among rebels is between the following: (a) plain bad Wahhabis, (b) badder Wahhabis, and (c) the baddest Wahhabis. The crucial battles with Syrian regime forces in the past year or two saw all these various tiers of Wahhabi Jihadist groups join forces. Join forces and share weapons before the baddest of them, ISIS, started to push the others to the margins, to the periphery of history. Building up new mildly Wahhabi groups inside the Humorless Kingdom of Jordan and sending them into Syria to keep the civil war going will not do the trick either. The Jordanian Front is not likely to fare better than the Turkish front has done.

Or maybe the plain bad Wahhabis are the only palatable Hobson option available for the Western powers. They can appoint French pop-philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, co-liberator of Libya, as NATO high commissioner for Syria, to keep them from going badder and baddest. It did not work in Libya, but it might in Syria: hope springs eternal when supported with tribal petro-money.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Oil Financed Lobbying Think Tanks of America………

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15           DennyCreek2

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“Money is increasingly transforming the once-staid think-tank world into a muscular arm of foreign governments’ lobbying in Washington. Most of the money comes from Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere in Asia, particularly the oil-producing nations of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Norway, and takes many forms. The United Arab Emirates, a major supporter of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, quietly provided a donation of more than $1 million to help build the Center’s gleaming new glass and steel headquarters not far from the White House. Qatar, the small but wealthy Middle East nation, agreed last year to make $14.8 million, four-year donation to Brookings, which has helped finance a Brookings affiliate in Qatar and a project on United States relations with the Islamic world. Some scholars say the donations have led to implicit agreements that the research groups would refrain from criticizing the donor governments……….”

There is nothing implicit or subtle about it: tis the season now to exchange objectivity for some oil money. Did you ever believe that the princes and potentates of the Persian Gulf states would finance and host Western think-tanks because they love objective unbiased analysis?

When was the last time a Brookings paper publicly criticized the government of Qatar? Don’t we read Brookings-Doha ‘analysts’ peddling Qatari and Muslim Brotherhood policies every day in American and other Western media? Don’t we read almost every day Western ‘analysts’ attached to “think-tanks” in Abu Dhabi and Dubai peddle Saudi and UAE interests and regional policies and positions?

Petroleum money has been making deep inroads not only into the Western political classes, but also in some aspects and activities of academic and research institutions. The trend extends beyond think-tanks and opinion-makers.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Wall Street Journal Continues its Own Middle East Wars……

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“Well, this is a little scary. U.S. intelligence intercepted messages from Iran to militants in Iraq ordering attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad if America strikes Syria. U.S officials say they’re preparing for Iran’s fast boats in the Persian Gulf, and military resources, including Marines, have been moved to the area. The message came from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard leader Qasem Soleimani and instructed Shiite groups to respond with force if the U.S. strikes Syria………..”

I didn’t know a U.S. attack ‘on Syria’ was in the cards these days. Unless the Wall Street Journal writer knows something no one else does.

Could he mean extending the current bombing attack against the Wahhabi Caliphate of ISIS into Syria? But then why would Iran retaliate in the Persian Gulf and why would Hezbollah retaliate in Beirut for any attack on the ISIS den of terrorists? Especially if the target of the Syrian campaign is NOT to alter the military balance in the Syrian civil war and tilt it toward the strategic goals of the Wahhabi oil princes. Provided Syria approves of any operations over its territory.

An attack on the U.S. embassy in Beirut by Hezbollah? That would be a stupid thing for them to do these days, and they know it. Only some media types and propagandists would think of it as probable. No doubt Hezbollah planners are more intelligent than many Wall Street Journal opinion-ators who write this kind of nonsense. They read as if written by some Likud or AIPAC functionaries.

More likely any attack on the U.S. embassy anywhere and not just in Beirut, if it ever happens, would come from Wahhabi terrorists nurtured for years by allied oil princes and by money from elements of Lebanon’s right-wing blocs.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghulou
m

Cold War Relics: from Ukraine to Cuba………

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15                   DennyCreek2

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Pundits and columnists in the West have been recently mentioning that Vladimir Putin seems to be going back to a Cold War stance (speaking especially of the Ukraine crisis). That Putin is following aggressive Soviet-like policies toward his neighbors that are similar to those of the Cold War days that ended around 1991. Mr. Putin has been in power for about 13 years. His new image of the aggressive cold warrior is more recent, a function of his recent strong objections to European Union attempts at expansion into what Russians consider their traditional sphere of influence.

Which made me think quickly of that other, more enduring even more ridiculous relic of the old Cold War.  The foreign policy relic that never went away, that will likely remain in place as long as the “Cuban vote” is important for winning Florida. The unilateral and senseless U.S. economic blockade of Cuba that has been around for more than half a century, longer than the original Cold War. It will almost certainly survive Fidel Castro, it might even survive the last of the Castro brothers.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Arab Nursery Rhyme Transition to Democracy: Mary Mary Quite Contrary…….

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15  DennyCreek Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

KuwaitCox2 
Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockleshells
And pretty maids all in a row.

“Deputy spokesperson of the United States State Department Marie Harf said in a press briefing on Monday that Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is leading the country’s democratic transition, despite recent criticism by the US of Egypt’s human rights record and the US holding some of its aid to Egypt pending democratic reform……….”

Also sprach U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf. But in fairness what else can the lady say?
Transitioning to democracy is a gentrified term to use now for Arab dictatorships and absolute tribal family rule. Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi is transitioning Egypt to democracy, hence he is still part of an axis of goodness, almost certified by Good Housekeeping. In the process he has overthrown a freely-elected president, the man who promoted him to defense minister, and thrown him in prison with a dozen or so trumped up charges. In the process his security forces and his soldiers have massacred a few thousand civilian protesters, the largest such massacre in modern Egyptian history. In the process his security have arrested and thrown in prison tens of thousands of people who disagree with him. In the process he has got himself “elected” against a hapless tool, with more than 97% of the vote (in a very low turnout election). In the process his courts have sentenced almost two thousand protesters to death, and the toll keeps rising.

By the same standards we can also argue that the Al Saud absolute tribal princes are transitioning the Arabian Peninsula toward democracy. We can also say that the vile absolute tribal rulers of Bahrain are transitioning the captive island of imported mercenaries and teargas toward democracy. We could have said the same about Mu’ammar Gaddafi and we can say it abut Bashar Al Assad. Etc , etc, etc………
Ten, twenty, thirty years from now, they will still be transitioning their peoples toward democracy. With a lot of help from their soldiers and their security agents, and in some cases with their imported mercenaries.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Nile Chutzpah: Cairo Regime advises USA on Official Violence……

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15                DennyCreek
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“Egypt on Tuesday urged U.S. authorities to exercise restraint in dealing with racially charged demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri – echoing language Washington used to caution Egypt as it cracked down on Islamist protesters last year. It is unusual for Egypt to criticize such a major donor, and it was not immediately clear why the government would have taken such a step. Ties between Washington and Cairo were strained after Egyptian security forces killed hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters following the army’s ousting of freely elected President Mohamed Mursi in July 2013………..”

The regime of Generalisimo Self-Appointed Field Marshal Al Sisi Bin Coup Al Dictator regularly rails against ‘intrusion’ of NGOs, like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Now it thinks it sees an opportunity to strike back at the Obama administration (and maybe the US Senate). Regime media (owned and controlled) is full of smug comments about how the USA cannot advice others on the Ferguson affair and human rights. That is, when they are not railing against some imaginary joint plot between the U.S. administration and the Muslim Brotherhood whose freely-elected regime was overthrown by Generalisimo Al Sisi. That coup of last summer was pushed for by an alliance of Egypt’s Wahhabi liberals and Mubarak veterans (feloul) and it was financed by Persian Gulf princes and potentates, mainly from Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Horseapples and Stupidapples and Bullchips and Ghazwatshit from Iraq and Syria to Washington………

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“President Barack Obama promises to stop genocide in Iraq and not to do “stupid shit,” meaning virtually anything that might actually stop the genocide. Hillary Clinton rightly proclaims that avoiding “stupid shit” does not a strategy make, though she, too, vigorously opposes stupid shit. And television’s favorite administration critics—Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham—continue their heartfelt advocacy of stupid shit, i.e. more bombs dropped on the bad guys and more arms supplied to the good guys, without any thought whatsoever of what they’d do next in the likely event that this hardly decisive intervention failed. Please convince me that the lunatic jihadis………….”

An appropriate scatological analysis of a truly fecal situation, since it is not only Iraq that now faces going up shit creek. Here is my interpretation of Leslie Gelb‘s excellent piece of political frustration:

Mr. Obama is accused by Hillary, in a softer Clintonian way, of applying the kind of Stupid Shit he himself had criticized earlier in U.S. Middle East policy. Mr. Obama responds politely that Mrs. Clinton is peddling Horse Shit to American voters. Senators McCain and Graham ignore the gross Obama and Clinton metaphors. The senators are above all that watered-down shit: they continue to peddle their same old pure unadulterated plain shit they have been trying for years from Iraq through Syria, Iran and Ukraine.

Meanwhile the Wahhabi cutthroats of ISIS (a.k.a ISIL)continue to spread some real blood-stained shit from the outskirts of Damascus to the outskirts of Baghdad. They also threaten to spread more of it to the outskirts of the capital(s) of the Wahhabi princes and shaikhs who had initially recruited, armed, and paid them to start on their Ghazwat of Shit. That other Caliph, Erdogan of Turkey, who for three years did not meet a terrorist Jihadi or his weapons and money that he would not allow through into Syria, he also faces some challenges on that front.

Wait, that is not all; there is a bonus! The battle-hardened Jihadis might bypass Baghdad and Damascus and have their shit hit the fan in Berlin and Paris and London and New York first. Before they turn on to pay back the fellow Wahhabi princes and potentates who got them on their way.
Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Spineless in Gaza: One Barbaric Kidnapping of a Prisoner of War, Thousands of Civilized Killings………


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“The Obama administration on Friday condemned “outrageous” violations of an internationally brokered Gaza cease-fire by Palestinian militants and called the apparent abduction of an Israeli soldier a “barbaric” action. The strong reaction came as top Israeli officials questioned the effort to forge the truce, accusing the U.S. and the United Nations of being naive in assuming the radical Hamas movement would adhere with its terms. The officials also blamed the Gulf state of Qatar for not forcing the militants to comply……………”

Watched a CNN news program (too) early this morning. The topic was Gaza. The guest-pundits agreed that the “kidnapping” of an Israeli soldier was a “game-changer”. The media here loves to use terms like “game-changer” or “red-line”. The guest-pundits agreed the “kidnapping” of one Israeli soldier during battle would shift world opinion about the massacres and destruction visited by Israelis on the people of Gaza. I wondered what shell these pundits live in, that they are so insulated from the world outside Washington and New York as to presume they speak for it.

The capture of one soldier presumably in battle was called “a barbaric act” in an Orwellian twist by a spineless White House that has been silent on thousands of Palestinians killed and wounded, tens of thousands made homeless by Israeli bombs. Are we talking about a new “master race” here? In the U.S. media and especially in the once-hallowed halls of Congress, this may be the case. Nay, as far as Congress is concerned this IS the case.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com