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A Saudi Defeat in Lebanon? Hariri and Nasrallah’s Beard and the Shifting Alliances……….

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Former prime minister Saad Hariri returned recently to Lebanon carrying a visible mark of a major political shift. That visible mark is also on his face, in a physical sense.

Hariri, a Lebanese who also grew up in Saudi Arabia and also carries its citizenship, was telling a story. Until recently known as leader of the pro-Saudi faction in Lebanon, he had always sported the goatee (saksooka) that senior Saudi princes (and all kings) sport. It is a tell-tale Saudi symbol, almost as much as the red/white shmagh checkered ghutra (kafiyya) is.
Hariri now sports a full beard, somewhat neater than the one Hassan Nasrallah (Hezbollah chief) sports, but similar.

He has also taken a political step that clearly signifies a break with Saudi Arabia. He now supports the same candidate as Iranian ally Hezbollah for president of Lebanon, former General Michel Aoun.
Some neutral Arab media speculate that the Saudi break has been in the making for months. Since Hariri-controlled Saudi Oger LTD faced financial trouble and the Saudi princes refused to help. Instead there have been reports of some prince seeking to take over the company.

So, now Harriri has surprised some allies of his right-wing traditionally pro-Saudi Al-Mustaqbal (Future) Movement by announcing his support for Hezbollah’s ally General Aoun (Maronite Catholic). This may open the door for Hariri ro return as prime minister of Lebanon. The Saudi support and money may now shift to other former Hariri sycophants, like former prime minister Saniora and some others. Not very strong allies.

Lebanese claim (credibly) that the Saudis traditionally send a large personal check ($10-20 million) to every new Lebanese prime minister and president, as personal pocket money. Just to break the ice and insure loyalty. Mr. Hariri, reportedly having lost a few billions recently from his Saudi ties, is not likely to even get that much now.

Saad Hariri may be returning to his Lebanese roots, and the heavy-handed Saudis may try to make up for this big Lebanese defeat by nurturing other (mainly Sunni) politicians. But it is a big gap to fill.

(Some Lebanese media have reportedly quoted the latest/newest American ambassador in Beirut as saying that one of her tasks is ‘to weaken the hold of Hezbollah on Lebanon‘. A tough task. This recent development is not a mark of her success. Not yet.)


Mohammed Haider Ghuloum


هارون الرشيد و مسرور: حرية الراي في دول الخليج بين قطع الارزاق و قطع الاعناق

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قررت الخطوط الجوية الكويتية فصل الكابتن طيار أحمد عاشور عن العمل بسبب قضية الإساءة للسعودية والذي حكم عليه بالسجن سنتين وكفالة ١٠٠٠ دينار لوقف النفاذ.
وقد اتخذ هذا القرار بعد التحقيق مع الكابتن عاشور من قبل الدكتور عبدالله العجمي ووجهت له تهمة الإساءة لدولة مجاورة ما قد يؤثر على العلاقات بين الدولتين، بالإضافة إلى أخذ الموضوع منحنى إعلامي بالتالي أصبح الكابتن عاشور,ظش. موضع خطر,ش اقثب= على المؤسسة على حد قوله
 جريدة الوطن
يقال ان هارون الرشيد كان عنده سياف اسمه مسرور يستخدمه لدق او قطع اعناق من كان يشك في انهم  يسيؤون اليه او يتامرون عليه. الان في دول الخليج توجد سفارات دول شقيقة، سفارات دول اجنبية، تعمل على قطع ارزاق من لا ترضى عن رايه , سيوف مسلطة على الرؤوس في الدول الشقيقة جدا. وبالذات سفارة دولة مشهورة بدق الاعناق.  السفارات ليس دورها المعتاد او المقبول  التدخل في الشؤؤن الداخلية و الحث على قمع الحريات في البلاد. خاصة التدخل السمج والواضح في شؤون دولة مثل الكويت مشهود لها بتاريخ طويل نسبيا من حرية التعبير مقارنة بجميع الدول المجاورة. ولا شك هي محاولة ثقيلة لتقريب الاوضاع السيا سية الداخلية للمنطقة 
الجو مشابه الان لفترة سابقة اتسمت بتدخلات سفارة  دولة عربية جارة اخرى كبيرة  في الشؤون الداخلية خلال عقد الثمانينات
د. محمد حيدر

Fatwa on Donald Trump and the Republican Dilemma of Arab Princes………

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It is no secret that most Arab princes and potentates would prefer a Republican administration in Washington. That is based on long-standing oil and other mutual business relations as well as on the warlike statements of Republican politicians toward Iran, Lebanon, and others. Most of them believe a Republican would have attacked Iran years ago, something the Saudis openly urged as the Wikileaks cables exposed, although George W Bush declined to do so. On several Middle East issues, they take the same stand as the Israeli Likud rather than the Obama administration.

Yet Mr. Trump presents them with a dilemma in the aftermath of the recent Wahhabi terrorist attack in San Bernardino. Actually even before that attack. You see, they don’t realize that he is unlikely to win the GOP nomination, and if he did he will not win the presidency. Americans have never elected to the presidency a gambling boss with a big mouth who is openly bigoted. Not in the past hundred fifty years anyway. And they are not about to do so now. So the princes worry about his Muslim-baiting and Nazi-like proposals on how to treat Muslims in the United States.

The potentates have not heard of my tweeted Fatwa that by March or April Mr. Trump will be back in the trash-bin of history or on reality TV (both, since he needs the money).  They actually believe he has a chance of winning, and therefore they can’t afford to antagonize him. Hence their official silence from Riyadh to Doha and Abu Dhabi toward his outrageous, politically-motivated, public uttering against their faith.

Of course no U.S. president would do what Trump is proposing, nor would he in the prohibitively unlikely event that he is elected. But going public with such proposals eggs on many people into more violent Islamophobia, especially many Republican voters of the historic know-nothing inclination. In other words the Trump bullhorn makes those so inclined ever more hateful.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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Sad Economic Dances: From Tango Argentino to Saudi Arabian Ardha………

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“من حفر حفرة لأخيه وقع فيها :Whoever digs a hole for his brother, he himself shall fall into itAn Arabic saying against treachery, based on a Hadith quote from the Prophet.

” Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, needs to sell oil at around $106 to balance its budget, according to IMF estimates. The kingdom barely has enough fiscal buffers to survive five years of $50 oil, the IMF said. That’s why Saudi Arabia is moving fast to preserve cash. The kingdom not only raised $4 billion by selling bonds earlier this year, but its central bank has yanked up to $70 billion from asset management firms like BlackRock (BLK) over the past six months. After years of huge surpluses, Saudi Arabia’s current account deficit is projected to soar to 20% of gross domestic product this year, Capital Economics estimates. Saudi Arabia’s war chest of cash is still humungous at nearly $700 billion, but it’s shrinking fast…………”

Argentina evokes images of tango, soccer, gauchos…and an awful economy — one of the world’s worst. Its economy is projected to show little or negative growth this year. Argentina is still indebted to American hedge funds, affectionately known as “vultures” in the country. And it remains the poster child of nations that default on their loans. But there’s new optimism in Argentina, mainly driven by presidential elections coming later this year…………….”

In Argentina, the ruling party could win another term in run-off elections. But the Tango Argentino goes on.

Now to Saudi Arabia, where the princes like to force their Western visitors to mimic the native all-male Ardha dance for the cameras. From George W Bush to Prince Chuck of England they have all pretended t enjoy this dance. Only the Frenchmen, Sarkozy and Hollande, could not bring themselves to pretend that they want anything to do with it.

There is a great Arabic saying from the Hadith that ” من حفر حفرة لأخيه وقع فيها   whoever digs a hole for his brother, he himself shall fall into it“.

As I have opined recently, the Saudi princes had bought the fantasy that they can “control” crude oil markets. They thought they could engineer limited lower prices for political strategic goals. To punish the mullahs in Iran, Putin in Russia, and the North American shale industry. It worked well beyond their expectations, to the extent that Saudi Arabia faces economic disaster in a few years.  They probably never dreamed that prices will collapse to less than $50 (apparently the Saudis need oil prices to hover around $100/barrel).  Other Gulf GCC states can live with much lower oil prices than $100, but not the Saudis.


If you look at the IMF chart, you’ll notice that the most corrupt most repressive of the Persian Gulf states require a higher price for crude oil to break even. These are the two countries to the right. Of course that could be just a coincidence, some may say “there is no correlation”.

However, the princes are fine. They take their cut first, from oil production and from huge military and civilian contracts. They keep on sucking the resources of the country and its people. Whatever reduction in their loot results from reduced oil prices they make up with commissions and kickbacks on even larger weapons contracts with the West.

Hopefully their reckless policies do not doom the economies of the other Gulf states.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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The Iranian Genesis of Wahhabi ISIS, the Baathist Roots of Salafi DAESH………..

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This week is the 35th commemorative of a watershed event that is still shaping the Middle East. Baathist Iraq under Saddam Hussein, worried about the message of the new Khomeini revolution, saw an opportunity and invaded Iran, which was weakened by continued revolutionary turmoil and internal divisions. That war did not turn out as expected, and its consequences are still unfolding in our region:

  • Saddam Hussein started the Iran-Iraq war this week in 1980. That war lasted eight years (1980-1988) and split the Arab world into those who supported the Baathist invasion (mainly some in the Gulf region) and those who opposed it (mainly Syria, Libya, Algeria, and some Palestinian groups).
  • That war did not achieve any of the declared goals set by Saddam, but it led to the bankruptcy of Iraq. I opined at an event at KISR after the war that Iraq went from a healthy supply of foreign exchange reserves before the war to a total net foreign debt that well exceeded US $100 billion (for obvious reasons I don’t have my exact original estimates now).
  • Which led a desperate Saddam to invade Kuwait in 1990 in order to plunder its wealth. That invasion led to what Americans call the “Persian Gulf War” of 1990/91. The Baathists were defeated and blockaded and kept within Iraq.
  • After the September 11 Wahhabi terrorist attacks in the USA, the Bush-ies refocused on Iraq (although not a single Iraqi was involved in that mainly-Saudi attack). It was followed by the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Later the results of the first Iraqi elections created a worsening of the sectarian tensions in the Arab world. Al Qaeda and the Wahhabi terrorists entered into Iraq in force, backed by outside Arab financing.
  • Eventually, as the Arab uprisings of the Spring of 2011 spread eastward toward the Gulf, a local Iraqi branch of Al Qaeda morphed into ISIS (ISIL, DAESH), an alliance dominated by foreign Arab Salafi Jihadis and former Baathist henchmen of Saddam.
  • The intervention of foreign Arabs, including some regimes, and the growth of local militias of both Muslim sects, have had a lot to do with the bloody sectarian turn of events across the region.
  • ISIS or DAESH now controls large parts of Iraq and Syria, mostly through sectarian exhortation and a medieval-style bloody reign of terror. It has been largely supported by the flow of foreign money and weapons facilitated through Turkey.
  • Some of those Arab potentates who helped create ISIS or DAESH are now feeling the heat and claiming to be fighting to destroy it. But apparently not seriously enough, NOT in Syria or Iraq.
  • The consequences of that fateful decision of September 1980 are still unfolding across the region. The beat goes on………..

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Palmetto Hustler: How Lindsey Graham Bin Jingo Learned about Iranians………..

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“Senator Lindsey Graham, the first speaker Friday morning, appearing from Washington via video, spoke of losing his parents as a teenager, working in a pool hall and having to help raise his younger sister – and how it relates to his leadership style. “Everything I learned about Iranians I learned working in the pool room,” he said. “I met a lot of liars, and I know Iranians are liars.”………….”

Pool halls and liars. He worked in a pool room and discovered that Iranians are liars, unlike many senators and others who work in pool halls. This is where Senator Lindsey Graham Bin Jingo learned that Iranian are liars (apparently there are no exceptions). This senator Graham sounds like an unlikely Paul Newman in one of my favorite old films.
Unless some of his pro-democracy kleptocratic autocrats on the Persian Gulf told him so. We all know they never lie.


Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

BBC Applying Lipstick to the Saudi Pig in Yemen……….

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“Certainly, Saudi Arabia has shown an ability to conduct a high volume of air strikes (sometimes as many as 125 strikes a day), proving wrong those that doubted the Kingdom’s ability to sustain complex extra-territorial operations……….. So has the Saudi operation been a success? Yes and no. If the definition of success is the removal of strategic and tactical threats to the Saudi homeland, then yes the Saudis basically achieved their aims…………”

They were using the best Western weapons, hundreds of billions of them, including billions of bribes commissions to princes, bombing an enemy that had no credible air defenses, and still they did not achieve their goals. That usually means defeat. The Houthis now control almost all of North Yemen, and they have gained more territory in South Yemen, including in Aden, since the Saudi air assault started. Al Qaeda AQAP have also expanded their zones of control since their main rivals were busy fending off Saudi air attacks.

This piece of BBC propaganda is putting a pretty face on an ugly defeat in Yemen. A pig with lipstick is still a pig. Even a Wahhabi halal pig.


Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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Democrat Obama and Socialist Hollande: Tale of Two Leaders………..

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“His visit comes as Paris strengthens its political and economic relations with the oil- and gas-rich Gulf monarchies. He arrived in Riyadh from GCC member Qatar after attending the signing of a 6.3-billion-euro ($7-billion) deal between French aerospace firm Dassault and Qatari defense officials. The agreement includes an order for 24 Rafale fighter jets, with an option on a further 12. On Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Paris and Riyadh are also discussing 20 economic projects worth “tens of billions of euros.” Hollande’s Riyadh trip comes just over a week before the GCC leaders visit their traditional ally Washington. President Barack Obama called that meeting to brainstorm on reducing regional conflicts and to try to allay Gulf fears over any U.S. rapprochement with Iran…………….”

Little Francois Hollande of the Parti Socialiste of France has grabbed an opportunity to take some business away from Les Americains. Flying, nay shuttling, back and forth to the Persian Gulf, you’d think he was what he actually is, a traveling salesman. Not even as lofty as a foreign minister. He is not achieving any diplomatic breakthrough over Palestine or the Iranian nuclear deal. He is selling, at any price.

Hollande shuttles back and forth between Paris and his newly discovered lucrative market on the Persian-American Gulf, allowing himself to be summoned by the kings, princes and potentates. Meanwhile, Barack Obama plays the lofty true world leader that he is, that Hollande can never be, that no current European leader can be: he summons Gulf GCC leaders to Washington DC.

But that is okay with the Frenchman: he laughs all the way to the bank. He has been signing weapons contracts at a faster rate than anyone else. Now nothing can be more French Socialist than selling more weapons to absolute rulers.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Have No Morals, Will Travel: More on Tony Blair’s Sordid New Labor Deals………

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“The Kazakh despot who bought Blair for £16million (and Cherie for £320k): How ex-PM sold himself to a ‘virtual gangster’ linked to torture, money laundering, bribery and murder ………. Tony Blair makes a business out of providing consultancy to mostly unacceptable and disreputable clients. How else to explain the work he does for President el-Sisi in Egypt — who obtained his power by a military coup — or Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, not to mention the consultancy he provides, at great expense no doubt, to the unelected leaders of Gulf countries………. Since leaving office, in the wheels-within-wheels world that he now inhabits, Blair, in his turn, was recommended for the job of promoting Kazakhstan and its president by one of his most influential contacts — Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi…………”

He has become a specialist in promoting despots from the Persian Gulf to Central Asia and Africa. It is not so much the ‘consultancy’ as using whatever political and public capital he has left to lobby for their political agendas. The motto of his business empire should be: “Have no morals, will travel“.

Not so much more to say here about Blair, this former British prime minister who is the least respected of former British PMs. Friend and enabler, nay servant, of corrupt despots and princes worldwide. Now why can’t he just vanish from public attention? Like the others, from Churchill to Wilson to Major to Lady Thatcher? It almost feels like an insult mentioning him in the same sentence as Churchill and Wilson.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Caliphate: Islamo-Baathism and Al Rishawi’s Wardrobe Malfunction……….

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Caliphate of ISIS seems to be a coalition of at least two strange bedfellows:

One is an offshoot of Al Qaeda, the AQI that was once led by Jordanian terrorist Abu Mes’ab Al Zarqawi. Zarqawi plagued Iraq for a few years with acts that were gruesome even by the standards of Iraq’s bloody history. He hailed from Zarqa, another humorless town in Jordan, hence his Jihadi nom de guerre (they usually add the hometown or home country of the cutthroat as a last name). Al Zarqa in Jordan was proud of her native son, even as he terrorized Iraqi peasants and townsfolk, especially Shi’as whom he publicly called a snake (coincidentally the late Saudi King Abdullah had urged the U.S. to cut the head of the snake by attacking or invading Iran, according to Wikileaks documents).

Zarqawi was a celebrity in his hometown, and he was eulogized extensively in that grim town after the Americans delivered his just deserts in 2006. But hero-worshipping Zarqawi had suddenly started being frowned upon in Jordan after the Jihadis blew up several hotels and killed a bunch of people in Amman. One of the terrorists survived because she had a wardrobe malfunctionliterally, and her explosives didn’t detonate (Sajida Al Rishawai who was executed in Jordan last week).

The other major component of this Caliphate, inside Iraq, consists of former Baathists. These are generals and colonels and lower military men who deserted Baghdad when the Americans attacked in 2003 and vanished for safety (long before Paul Bremer officially disbanded the old Iraqi army, that army had disbanded itself and deserted without fighting for Baghdad or any other town). These also include security men, experts at interrogation, terror, and torture. It is probably these Baathists who are the major link to the tribes of Al Anbar and to former rank and file men of the old armed forces. Iraqi Sunnis, even the tribal types of the border regions, traditionally are not of the Wahhabi Al-Qaeda type mindset, most of them are/were rather secular (by Muslim standards). Could it be a marriage of convenience? It could, but for how long? It certainly will not survive the loss/fall of Mosul, whenever that happens.

Then there are the foreigners and their women be they Arabs or Europeans. Their case is obvious: it takes dedicated Wahhabism or dedicated birdbrains or both to buy the stuff these people spread over the various media.

Then there are the outsiders, the enablers and financiers of the campaign of terror. These hail mainly from Arab states, especially the Gulf states, and the Islamist rulers of Turkey and its military, who have for years allowed all foreign Jihadis to cross the border into Syria. An apparent silent alliance of Turkish officials and the Caliphate. Even as some fools in the U.S. Senate and Congress agonize over whether Turkey will be willing to actively join a coalition against the Caliphate of terror. Not realizing that Turkey, like some Arabs, has been in this war for a few years. On the other side.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter