Category Archives: UAE

Islamic Mercenaries of the Persian Gulf: Have Quran, Will Travel………

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking


This is not a new phenomenon on the Persian Gulf: religious sheikhs (clerics) for hire.

Often they come from Egypt, Jordan, North Africa and other Arab countries/regions. They usually attach themselves to one or another among the ruling absolute oligarchies, of the Gulf, especially in the UAE or Qatar. Attracted by money and opportunity, they start issuing statements or Fatwas in favor of their benefactors and against others who displease these benefactors. They are absolutely mercenaries: clerics for hire. No different from the armed foreign mercenaries that some Gulf regimes hire to do their repression or wage their regional wars.

Here is a man with the impressive-sounding title of Deputy President of the International Union of Muslim Clerics, basically a clerical bureaucracy for hire. He is here accusing another cleric-for-hire, the Religious Adviser, whatever that be, of the top man in the UAE, Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ), of being among “devil worshipers”. He also called him a religious traveling salesman. MBZ and the UAE are among the strongest anti-Muslim Brotherhood in the whole Middle East. This is a sore point of contention with their Saudi “allies” in the stalling war on Yemen.
Of course all this name-calling is a case of one soot-covered pot calling another pot ‘black’.


The Persian Gulf GCC states are full of these hired expatriate clerics, like Al Qaradawi (in Qatar) and others, basically mercenaries, religious guns for hire. Often they are either Muslim Brothers who have found the joys of oil money (in Qatar) or others hired by the UAE potentates to blast the Muslim Brotherhood. Islamic gunslingers and mud-slingers.

All these people do their own interpretation of the Quran or Hadith to serve their masters. They are almost as bad as the Salafis, almost.
Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Gulf of Confusion: from Religious Police to a Commission for Entertainment……

Shuwaikh-school1 Hiking Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Me1 (2)

Saudi Commission for Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has been notorious for restricting all kinds of freedoms. Especially the freedom to have fun, be it innocent or not. I have taken to calling it Propagation of Vice.
Now there is a new Saudi “commission”: the Commission for Entertainment ( in the least entertaining city in the least entertaining country in the whole wide world). Allegedly the idea of the young influential son of King Salman. This could have been inspired by a step taken months ago by the UAE government to improve the state of ‘happiness’, so long as it does not involve the freedom of expression. The Saudi opposition (in exile of course) claim that the UAE potentates have a lot of influence over the new Saudi Deputy Crown Prince (MBS).

The UAE established a Ministry of Happiness. Sounds like a good idea to me. It sounds like something that defies irony, perhaps something from North Korea. But it is the thought, the intention that counts, and it seems to be good.

Could the Society for Islamic Heritage Revival back home, the intolerant Salafi group designated a terrorist supporter by UN, change its name to Society for Revival of Islamic Joy and Tolerance? Could the local Muslim Brotherhood become a Brotherhood of Joy?

Or maybe the Wahhabis are softening, becoming gentler. Maybe they want to keep up with the mullahs next door in Iran who permit street music, as this photo of urban entertainment in Iran shows:

IranStreetMusic

Don’t get me wrong. I believe these are all steps in the right direction. Long overdue, but better late than never.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Islands Afloat: Lebensraum from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea……..

Shuwaikh-school1 Hiking Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2

Speaking of Al Sisi selling two strategic Egyptian islands in the Red Sea to the Saudi ruling family (my previous post).

I must add that Generalissimo Field Marshal President Al Sisi got a better deal, financially speaking, than the potentates of what is now the UAE did a few decades ago. Rather better than some rulers of the Gulf (emirates) Sheikhdoms in 1970. At that time, many of the smaller sheikhdoms of what was called Sahel Oman (Omani Coast) on the Persian Gulf had no oil fields, and they needed cash. They usually sold colorful stamps, passports, as well as their share of the rights to some of the islands in the Persian Gulf.

That was before the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was created to join all these small tribal neighborhoods. Through a deal brokered by the British overlords of the Arab side of the Gulf, the Shah of Iran paid a few million dollars for the deal to “get the islands back”, according to the Iranians. The islands are near the Strait of Hormuz. Actually the agreement was for “joint administration” of Abu Moussa. The Iranians claim the British took the islands in 1921 and put them under the jurisdiction of the sheikh of Sharjah, which was part of the British Empire. They also claim the Qasismi ruling sheikhs were at one time living on the Persian shores of the Gulf, and hence were Iranian subjects.Another convoluted complication.

Now the UAE leaders, who were not part to the deal since the UAE did not exist in 1970, would like to re-purchase the islands from Iran. Not sure why they want the islands since they have had to import 6 million foreigners to populate their own country on the mainland. It is not like they need Lebensraum.

In short: both sides in the Gulf are using any argument, whether it makes sense or not to support its case. Nobody seems in a mood to share the islands anymore: that would be too sensible for the Middle East mindset. History has been telling us this for at least 70 years.

Anyway, all this is history, but some sheikhs in the smaller Emirates of the UAE are now kicking themselves for not knowing at the time that they had so much oil under their privies and outhouses. Right under where their pet goats dropped their pellets. (FYI: I had pet goats as a kid, as well as pet birds. We also had chickens but I ate my pet eggs whenever I could).
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

UAE: Ministry of Tolerance, Ministry of Happiness, Ganja, Ganja, Ganja……

Shuwaikh-school1 Hiking Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 ا

“New post of Minister of State for Tolerance created to establish tolerance as a fundamental value of the UAE society. A board of Emirati scientists, researchers and academics set up to provide scientific advice and knowledge to the government. The Ministry of Cabinet Affairs has been tasked with devising future strategies and will become the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future. New post of Minister of State for Happiness created to channel policies and plans to create a happier society…………”

Good and in fact cute idea to start with. But will this happiness idea include the overwhelming majority of the people in UAE (about 90%) who are citizens of South Asia, Philippines, Nepal, among other places?
All I can say about the “happiness” bit is that Timothy Leary is dead, but still: Ganja, Ganja, Ganja……

P.S.: now the Saudis feel under pressure to try and match this. They can probably appoint their first female minister: Ministeress of Beheading and Flogging and Crucifixion. As for a ministry of Tolerance, it might work in diverse UAE, but as for Saudi Arabia: forget about it. Tolerance is a truly dirty, and often dangerous, word in Riyadh: it can get one beheaded. The clerics say so.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

View from the UAE: Obama the Shi’a and the Jewish Nuclear Deal………

Shuwaikh-school1 Hiking Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 ا

Our Middle East region has truly gone crazy, sectarian crazy. That is especially true of the Persian Gulf region, which has gone apeshit (forgive mon français) sectarian. I mean people of all sects have gone sectarian, be they Sunni, Shi’a, Wahhabi, Sufi, or Haredim.

A comment on Twitter by Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan, the chief of the Dubai Police and a high United Arab Emirates -UAE- official with many followers attracted my attention. He is often clownish, in his deeply sectarian and primitive tribal way. As sectarian and divisive as any full-blooded Wahhabi across the Buraimi Oasis. As sectarian as someone from, say, ISIS or DAESH, can be. He is a serious man: all the nonsense he tweets he does quite seriously and he believes it all. That could be dangerous, but he has potentates above who make the real decisions. He claimed in his tweet, quite seriously, that:
“Obama, whose origins are Shi’a, was elected to move America and Iran closer, especially on the nuclear issue, and he has succeeded”.

He also tweeted that
Jan 18 Dubai, United Arab Emirates

في علم طبائع البشر يدرس الإنسان كيفية درء الخطر وهذا ما فعله بني صهيون في دراسة طبع الإيرانيين. أتوا لهم بشخص جذره شيعي كيني برافو .
“Bani Sahion (Children of Zion), meaning Jews, elevated a Kenyan Shi’a (Obama) to serve their purposes…”

Khalfan did not mention if Obama was born in Kenya or Hawaii to Shi’a parents, so he is not a birther. Just a quasi-Wahhabi nut job that only our Gulf region can produce. Nor did he mention if Mr. Amano, chief of IAEA is also an East Asian Shi’a.

The odd thing, or maybe not so odd, is that many people, including some quite educated people in the Gulf region (and Arabian Peninsula) believe such nonsense. They are beginning to see Shi’as under every bed, so to speak.

On the other hand, who knows: maybe he has a point, maybe it is all true………

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

From Persian-American Gulf to Gulf of Mercenaries and the New Ottomans…….

Shuwaikh-school1 Hiking Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 ChristmasPeanuts

It is a problem, this faraway little Gulf of ours. A few years ago I modified its name, I started to call it the Persian-American Gulf, but it is getting harder. The population is shifting. The princes and potentates in their little kingdoms have now imported a majority of the non-Arabic and non-Persian speaking population from South and Southeast Asia and claim it should be called, no, not the Gulf of Bengal………..  Could it be the Gulf of Mercenaries, as I suggested a year or two ago? Gulf of Wahhabis, heaven forbid? How about the Gulf of Salaf? Gulf of Foreign Military Bases? Gulf of Tribal Sectarianism?

  • For example, the little oppressed repressed robbed sectarian island of Bahrain is now nearly sinking under foreign bases:
    U.S Naval Base Gulf HQ – Saudi Military Base post the Spring of 2011 invasion – Even the old British colonial masters have not stopped helping the ruling gangs in their robbery and repression. They are starting a new military base – Add to all that assorted imported mercenaries/interrogators and torturers from Jordan, Pakistan, Syria (former security), Iraq (former Baathists), among other foreign places. With an occasional obscure idle English prince and princess or two paying visits to shore up the kleptocratic autocratic outpost.
  • Little rich Wahhabi power Qatar where 90% of the population is temporary foreign laborers (mainly South Asian housemaids raising the kids and keeping house):
    U.S. Central Command has its regional headquarters at the Al-‘Adeed base – It is now also the Muslim Brotherhood HQ (outside Turkey) – Now reports say that Turkey, under its new Ottoman Caliph Sultan Recep Erdogan, will also establish a military base in Qatar. So, the Ottomans are coming back, with a new sultan. Which might indicate that the on-again-off-again sisterly relations with the fellow Saudi Wahhabis may be heading up the proverbial ‘unsanitary creek’.
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE, where some 90% of the population is composed of imported foreign laborers and housemaids), ruled by a Band of Brothers who own Abu Dhabi (lock, stock and barrel). I think it has:
    British base – French base – Canadian base (sorry, it was closed over a commercial dispute) – Colombian mercenary military base (no, not FARC) – (Former) Blackwater mercenary force: mainly South American, South African, Australian, etc- Actually I have lost track: for all I know even Monaco or Vanuatu may have military bases in Abu Dhabi by now.

But I don’t have anything against friendly military bases. They can be a protective measure that started with Saddam’s Baathist brutal invasion of Kuwait in 1990. But I suspect they are not only aimed against Iraqi dangers anymore, and not only aimed against the mullahs in Iran, but probably also needed not-so-secretly to keep the sisterly Wahhabi princes next door at home. The princes are only a few tanks’ drive away, as the unhappy people of Bahrain discovered in the Spring of 2011.

As well as the dangers that may emerge from the troubles in Iraq/Jordan/Syria. Dangers that were largely created and financed by wayward Persian Gulf Islamist groups and some princes. As well as some unsettled tribal issues and risks that Gulf GCC states have experienced (attempted Saudi-backed coup in Qatar in 1998) and others may be experiencing.

Still, a Turkish military base in Qatar? But why not? After all there is a Saudi Wahhabi base in Bahrain. The Muslim Brotherhood Turkish base in Qatar could balance that.

But there is still the same nagging question that won’t go away for me: whoever the hell heard of a country welcoming a Turkish military base?

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Yemen: a Genocidal War of Clashing Foreign Mercenaries…….

Shuwaikh-school1 Hiking Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 ChristmasPeanuts

Some Gulf states have hit on a new ingenious technique to compete with more powerful neighbors like Iran, Turkey, and Israel. They have sought to expand their sphere of influence through a combination of financial inducements and the hiring of foreign mercenaries to act like national armies. All of it allegedly hush-hush, but not enough hush-hush on the Gulf. State secrets on the Persian Gulf last about as long as they would in a cathouse (a k a a brothel for the, er, uninitiated). But that is okay: everybody is involved in Arab civil wars these days, from Russians to Americans and Iranians and Turks and Lebanese and Chechens and Euros. Among others.

The United Arab Emirates, UAE, with a small native population of nearly a million have been actively hiring foreign mercenaries. They have been especially hiring Colombian fighters, so many officers at high pay, creating a shortage in the Colombian military. Some reports have also come out of Mexicans. As early as the Arab Uprisings of 2011, Abu Dhabi formed a mercenary brigade organized by former Blackwater executives, and composed of Latin Americans, Australians and white South Africans, among others.

The Saudi population is about one third temporary foreign laborers (housemaids, drivers, etc). The native population is not interested in fighting a foreign war or any war, except for the many who volunteer with terrorist Wahhabi groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS.  So the princes have sought a different kind of mercenary force. They have bought off the dictator of Sudan, the convicted war criminal General Omar Al Bashir. He has rented off thousands of his forces to the Saudis in their war on Yemen. There is the possibility of Mauritanian and other African mercenaries, including Djibouti (both members of the Arab League). Jordanian mercenaries are almost certainly involved as well, as they almost always are in these cases (in Bahrain, as one example). Pakistan, which has about 35+ million Shi’as, has declined for its army to be hired off, and Egypt has been stonewalling.

The deposed Yemeni regime of General Hadi (Al Zombie) has been allied with the corrupt Islah (mainly Muslim Brotherhood) group. Now the Saudis are moving closer to the MB with whom they had good relations in past decades that had soured, while the UAE rulers see the MB as Enemy Number One. Hence a divergence of opinion and policy among allies in the quagmire that is Yemen.

Both countries have been bombing Yemeni cities for months, essentially committing genocide, with logistical and targeting help from the United States government and possibly other Western powers. Reports indicate that the UAE is moving away from the Saudis, especially in Yemen which lies almost between the two countries. The Abu Dhabi potentates are reportedly sending their own mercenaries to southern Yemen. They are also inviting former South Yemen (PDRY) Marxist leaders to the UAE for consultation. Since the Emirati sheikhs are unlikely to have gone Marxist, I assume they are making some other deal.

So, the real war is not between just two Yemeni sides. It is between the Saudis and Emiratis and Qataris and Colombians and Americans and Mexicans and Sudanese and Jordanians and Al Qaeda (AQAP) and ISIS and Hirak secessionists and aging Aden Marxists. Meanwhile the genocidal air war by the bought and hired Arab and African alliance is pushing Yemen back about sixty or so years.

Stay tuned………

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

On the Gulf: Westerners Confusing Luxury Hotels with Human Rights……..

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2

“I had been looking forward to this year’s International Human Rights Rank Indicator (IHRRI) which was due to be issued tomorrow but – alas – it has suddenly, and without explanation, been postponed for several months. The IHRRI is (or perhaps was) an international league table of human rights, covering 216 countries. Last year, unbelievably, it placed the United Arab Emirates in 12th position worldwide – between New Zealand and Iceland. No other Arab country came anywhere close to the UAE in terms of human rights performance; Morocco was nearest, in 67th position. When this claim about the Emirates was noted (and ridiculed) on social media, IHRRI deleted the entire league table from its website – again, suddenly and without explanation…………….”

It is not the first time Western experts, pundits, journalists, even some politicians, have confused luxury accommodation and wining and dining with human rights. Especially in the Persian Gulf states. It is the traditional Arab hospitality of the Gulf, misunderstood in the West. This often happens for visitors to the United Arab Emirates-UAE. I have in the past commented on articles by Thomas Friedman and Roger Cohen (I usually enjoy reading Cohen) and possibly David Ignatius (Washington Post) and how they confuse things like luxurious 6-star hosting and accessibility to ‘human rights’ and ‘credibility of leaked information’.

Of course the overwhelming majority of residents of the UAE and other places on the Gulf (95% of them) cannot afford the luxury of these 6-star hotels. So they probably don’t merit human rights.

It is usually hard to be critical of those who offer you 6-star hospitality. Although I recall that Nicholas Kristof (N Y Times) visited Iran a year or two ago and came back to write in favor of tougher economic sanctions against Iran. I am assuming Kristof did not get 6-star or 7-star hospitality from the mullahs in Iran. I doubt that they have it in Tehran now. I blame the Western blockade……..
So maybe the folks at IHRRI are waiting for the UAE to mend its ways so that it can merit being placed next to Iceland on human rights. Perhaps in a year or two, or maybe when hell freezes over……….

    

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

In the Beginning: Shifting Dynastic Alliances in the Gulf GCC……….

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2

In the Beginning………….

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

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

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

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

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

    

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

A Torched Torch of Dubai…….

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2

“More than 80 per cent of the apartments at The Torch tower that caught fire on Saturday are now accessible. A massive fire engulfed the 86-storey tower at Dubai Marina early Saturday morning. Out of 676 apartments, 101 are still inaccessible and the affected residents have been given temporary accommodation, Oman Insurance Company, the insurer of The Torch tower…………..”

If I were the owner of this building, I’d change its name quickly, from The Torch to something else, anything else. Provided I were superstitious. No need to push my luck.
Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter