Category Archives: US Foreign Policy

Wyatt, Doc, Calamity and Beautiful Science: a Day in the Life of Trump Administration…….

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

More recent potential Trump Administration news:

An uncharacteristically exasperated Attorney General Jeff Sessions has finally put Sanctuary Cities “on notice”, by yelling: Basta! (actually he did a combo Mexican-Rebel yell: Byeesta!).
Sessions also has temporarily changed his name to Wyatt Earp, and started calling Trump ‘Doc Holliday‘, calling Betsy DeVos ‘Calamity‘. No comment on Elaine Chou yet…….

For his part, Donald Trump asserted from Mar A Lago that: “I love Science. I believe in Science. I have here–> some beautiful Science to share with the American people. Wait for some big news on Science sometime next week, or maybe the week after. Will knock your socks off….”

Secretary of, er, State Rex Tillerson grunted again (at his usual speed of 0.5km/hr) that : “Eyeran represents an imminent danger to the United States national security, piling up their naval warships in the Gulf of Mexico, Oops, I meant the Persian Gulf“.

Rexy was leaving too quickly for a big man, as he is wont to do, when Andrea Mitchell asked if that means Trump is ready to start yet another stupid war. His parting shot was: “all options are on the table, we’re betting the farm on this one. The mullahs should remember what we did to Eyeraq! It took some fifteen years but we totally screwed up their country, our credibility and our economy. Created ISIS too. Never underestimate President Trump.”

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Trump Foreign Policy: Is There a MOAB in the Pyongyang Kid’s Future……

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“North Korea’s military on Friday directly responded to U.S. President Donald Trump’s renewed threats to take “care of” Pyongyang’s nuclear threat amid expectations of a new nuclear test that could come at any time. “Our toughest counteraction against the United States and its vassal forces will be taken in such a merciless manner as not to allow the aggressors to survive,” according to unnamed spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army. “Under the prevailing grave situation, the United States has to come to its senses and make a proper option for the solution of the problem,” continued the statement, carried by the country’s official Korean Central News Agency……..”

Donald Trump spent his first two months in office trying his hands at domestic issues.

His first policy Executive Order, a Muslim immigration/entry ban, was thrown out by U.S. federal courts. His second policy try was a sly but direct attempt at screwing the American people, repealing the ACA Healthcare law (Obamacare) without replacing it with a policy that covers those uncovered. He could not get his own party to pass a healthcare bill that he almost certainly did not understand. His attempt at screwing up the healthcare system was opposed by all professional associations of doctors, nurses and hospitals. It failed, so he blamed the Democrats, ignoring that his own party controls Congress.

He faced a rapidly building up crisis about allegations of his and his associates’ connections to Russia and Vladimir Putin. Democrats milked that issue for all its worth, but Republicans helped along by mishandling the investigation.

So what can a president do when he fails in domestic policy?

He can always revive or inflame a simmering crisis in the Middle East, or in some other Muslim country. Hence Trump’s “seeming” flip flop on Syria. Before any UN meeting, before any investigation, he used suspicions and allegations of Assad using chemical weapons against a rebel area to throw about 60 Tomahawk missiles at a nearly-empty Syrian airbase.

The American media loved it: nothing brings Republican and Democrat political elites together than waging or escalating a war in a Muslim land. Some of the more “liberal” news networks went nearly orgasmic, could not have enough of the attack in Syria, some like CNN were sorely disappointed that it seemed like a one-time event.

The Syrian attack quickly distracted from the domestic Russian investigation. But the Russians and the Syrians mounted their own PR blitz and the need arose for more show of foreign toughness. Hence the first use of the biggest baddest non-nuclear bomb, the MOAB. Few people would argue with the target picked: a territory in Afghanistan reportedly boiling with Taliban and ISIS killers. And with few civilians.

Some, including myself, speculated that the MOAB and even the Syrian bombing may have included a message for the chubby dictator of Pyongyang. One Kim Jong Un, a seeming addict to Twinkies and Ding Dongs. But unfortunately the MOAB use also coincides with a time of serious fireworks in North Korea: the birthday of late dictator Kim Il Song. He was the man who established Communist North Korea and blessed it with his dynasty of nasty murderous despots.

They are reported to be planning some nuclear fireworks for the occasion. Now the Pyongyang regime is not an Arab regime. It is not the type that is expected to bend over and take it, even if it is well deserved as in this case. At the least, they have the city of Seoul hostage to their massive artillery: potentially hundreds of thousands of casualties, including many Americans.

And someone like the Pyongyang Kid can’t afford to seem weak. There are probably some among his own family who would gladly dispose of him.

That is why I doubt that Mr. Trump would authorize the use of MOAB in Korea, not without serious provocation. Unless the generals can find a way to have it land right where M. Kim is napping, taking a shower, among other activities.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Donald Trump’s Brief Airborne Syrian Fling: My Fatwa for Next Year………

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

President Trump has managed to gather some sort of consensus, at least within the media and among politicians, around his brief air-war fling with Syria. As usual in the initial phase of a military action, both parties and the media have managed to praise his action, in some cases for fear of looking unpatriotic or “too outlier” (fear of bullying is not confined to school children).

Soon they will be asking: what next? What? No more? Especially cable media will go through severe withdrawal symptoms, being used to some thirty years of covering (ad nauseam) non-stop foreign wars. Some are already beginning to ask the question. Then the absolute rulers of the allied Muslim countries will push him to support a “democratic” Syria (where power can be shared between the Wahhabi Salafists attached to Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood attached to Turkey’s strongman Erdogan). A claustrophobic democratic experience they would never allow their own peoples to enjoy. Apparently Trump has been listening to the potentates lately, and he seems to be impressed.

My guess? My Fatwa: sometime well before the summer of 2018, Democrats will look back and say that Trump did his Syrian fling in order to divert attention from “other” more pressing “America First” issues he could not handle. The quick disenchantment happened with LBJ, Bush (pere et fils), and perhaps others.

A one-week apparent success (meaning no American casualties) while his foes’ knives are being temporarily hidden. Foreign action trumps domestic failure, but only for a while (just ask George H W Bush who presided over the end of the Soviet Union and a swift American victory in the Persian Gulf War).
The infrastructure will still need to be dealt with, and Trump may soon have some Obama-style stonewalling by the Republican Congress on the required spending. Then there is Healthcare, then a mechanism to keep and create jobs inside the USA, then a mechanism to encourage young people to enroll in STEM education (preferably within the excellent traditional mode of a broad American undergraduate college education that we all enjoyed).

The risk is that America First may become America Later. Looks like George Dubya Bush was right: being US president is a hard job……

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Offshore Rex vs the Contractors: Trump and the Privatization of American Foreign Policy…….

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

There has been some recent speculation, mostly by me, about the whereabouts of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. I noted weeks ago that he has vanished after his swearing-in. I tweeted that he seems to have gone AWOL, joined Waldo in his undisclosed location.
Then there have been media reports that Donald Trump is gutting the State Department’s budget, shifting the savings to other departments, mainly Defense (prices of military-grade toilets must have skyrocketed since his election) and Homeland Security. It looks like Mr. Trump is getting ready to “go to the mattress”, in old Mafia parlance. Waging internal, external, as well as border wars.

Now my private barely credible source reports of rumors that the Trump Administration plans to keep Secretary of State Rex Tillerson out of sight. Making him an ‘offshore’ foreign-based cabinet member, perpetually traveling outside the country. Some mythical character like Ulysses or a ghost aboard the Flying Dutchman. He will discharge his shrinking duties from the various US embassies around the world.

Eventually, the whole State Department will be privatized, its policy functions taken over by the White House staff, its field duties contracted out to the private sector. Ambassadorial appointments and posts will no longer be based on experience or merit, not even on Party loyalty and donations to political campaigns. These desirable posts will go to the highest bidder.

When I expressed some doubts about the veracity of his report, my source pointed out to General Flynn. He noted that Flynn was reported to have been already a lobbyist for Erdogan, the strongman of Turkey, before Trump picked him to lead his National Security Council. He claimed that was a form of privatizing the National Security Council. A hint of what is to come when you run a country as a business: something that makes conservatives go orgasmic but does a lot of harm to the country.

It s all about privatization and the money. What W Bush privatized was peanuts compared to the new land grab that is unfolding under Trump“. My source said. He added “However, trump insists that all posts will go to American citizens. and all privatized departments will be run by Americans. The president said that ‘it would be unseemly to be seen to let Russians or Chinese or foreign potentates run US foreign policy. Bigly unseemly, or maybe just unseemly in a bigly way’.”

More on this later, stay tuned.

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

Arab Leaders Blowing in the Wind: Torn Between Many Lovers…….

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The Arab regimes that care, mainly in the Gulf region, have failed to devise and implement a strategy against the expansion of Iranian influence in the Middle East. Military attempts in Iraq and Syria (via insurgent Jihadi proxies) have failed. An extended and ferocious destructive bombing campaign with Western help seems to have failed against the fierce Yemenis. Attempts at forging various reliable foreign alliances, from Turkey to Africa, have failed. Now they think they have a chance at a reset with the Trump administration, but that is probably just another illusion.

A leading Saudi newspaper editor, Mr. Turki Al Dakhil who is close to some potentates, has asked Saudis to launch a campaign on Twitter and other social media praising Donald Trump’s criticism of Iran. In the process also exaggerating it. Many, including the huge official Saudi Electronic Army have been tweeting hashtags (most common hashtag has been #TrumpWarnsIranianTerrorism or something like it) supposedly egging Mr. Trump on, pushing him toward a confrontation with the Iranian regime.

Wahhabi extremists, Salafis, ISIS fans, Al Qaeda fans and other assorted fans of Jihadi cutthroats are all suddenly tweeting in praise of the new President of the United States.

Remember when President Obama complained to the Atlantic Magazine last year that some Arab oligarchs in the Persian Gulf were trying to get the USA to join their regional sectarian conflicts? They are now trying to egg Trump on to fight their sectarian war in the Gulf region and possibly beyond. Only a few weeks ago they were blasting Trump as an Islamophobic racist, now they are clinging to him as a potential war ally. The last great (very) white hope.

Of course this is not new. After the fall of Baghdad in 2003 some Arab autocrats tried with George W Bush to provoke yet a new Gulf war. But he turned out smarter than that, less cooperative. Obama was even more skeptical of the Arab oligarchs, especially after the uprisings of 2010/2011 started. So, the oligarchs soured on Obama and hitched their wagons to Benyamin Netanyahu of Israel. As they waited for their old Clintonista friends to retake the White House.

Netanyahu talked tough against the mullahs, but he would not go to a risky war for the sake of Wahhabi kings and princes who don’t even recognize his country. You see, I suspect that much of Netanyahu’s bluster about the Iranian regime was to divert attention from the settlements in the West Bank (he has been warning since 1995 that Iran will have a nuclear weapon within six months). Some Iranian leaders helped him along with their absurd and bigoted comments about the Holocaust and their silly “Death To” slogans. The Iranian hardliners are good at milking these hostile slogans to their advantage in the Middle East, even if they harm their country’s interests in the halls of power in the West.

Enter Donald Trump and his frustrated hawkish former generals and cultural religious racial warriors.

So that is where it stands now. The Arab oligarchs are suddenly admirers of the American leader they called a clown only a few weeks ago. They think they have a chance against Iranian expansion with Trump, given that the president is surrounded by hawks and by cabinet members and advisers who have been close to the Iranian Mujahideen-Khalq opposition group.

Trump promised to avoid foreign wars and focus on America, but he is now making ominous noises. Will he go to war for his new autocratic admirers? Hopefully not: the Middle East has had enough of foreign meddling and Western wars.
Just help defeat ISIS and Al Qaeda, Mr. Trump, then get the hell out. You don’t belong in the Middle East permanently. The Iranians and the Arabs (and Kurds and Jews and others) belong there, and they have for thousands of years.

Cheers

M. H. Ghuloum

An Illegal Martian in America: the Party of Russia vs the Party of China…….

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking   christmasbellevue

A Martian who has just arrived in the United States (either a legal or an illegal alien) would think American politics are divided into two major parties:

  • The Party of Russia. We are told across much of the media to believe that the Republican Party (GOP) is the Party of Putin and Russia (with all the unpleasant accoutrements: Gulag, KGB, other extremely un-American behavior like guzzling Vodka and eating Pirozhky). Suddenly the Democrats, big losers of this election year, have developed a strange zeal for fending off a Russian quasi-Bolshevik takeover of the USA.
  • The Party of China (Chi-Com, PLA, Robber Oligarchs, Generals snapping up US real estate, industrial espionage, job-stealers, unfair Trade Surplus, Cyber Espionage, North Korea, etc). That would be the Democrat Party, and not only by default.

To complicate matters, many people in the Middle East, and in the wider Islamic world have a different view on this. They also have their own notion about US politics. Many, nay actually most people in the region, believe that both major American political parties are the Party of Israel. Or, more precisely, the Party of Likud right-wingers.
Cheers

M Haider Ghuloum

 

A Banana Republic? USA as Portrayed by Some Americans and One Israeli Hustler…….

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“President-elect Donald Trump will be a good friend to Israel and hopefully the two countries can work together to dismantle the international nuclear agreement with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview Sunday. While the two countries are close allies, relations were sometimes tense between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama because of their vastly different world views on the Iran deal and other issues………”

There is something eerily Banana Republic-ish about the way the USA is being portrayed in the media these days. As portrayed by US media, some US politicians, and also by foreign hustlers like Benyamin Netanyahu of Israel.

American media and many among the political classes talk of Russians influencing the 2016 presidential election. Hacking the DNC and RNC and somehow influencing the election results (no explanation yet as to how hacking leads to influencing). A lengthy investigation is pending.

Enter Benyamin Netanyahu, the super-opportunistic right-wing prime minister of Israel. He is publicly and loudly offering to “help” the president-elect Donald trump handle the cancellation of the Iran Nuclear Deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,or JCPOA). An agreement signed on by Iran and the Rest of the World, including the UN and European Union. Mr. Netanyahu knows a thing or two about breaking treaties and agreements (you can ask Barack Obama, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Nicolas Sarkozy, and many other world leaders and international bureaucrats about that).

Thus Netanyahu is setting the stage for what he has wanted for years now: to get America embroiled in another endless Muslim war. A war of choice that is not related to American homeland defense. Yet another of what some critics have been calling stupid wars in Muslim lands.

To complicate matters, reports have announced yesterday (Sunday) an agreement between Iran and Boeing to purchase jetliners for US$ 16.7 billion. Unless Sheldon Adelson and John Bolton can replace the Iranian order with their own. No matter, the US Congress of both houses and both parties is beholden, and often forgets national interests when it comes to campaign money……….
Cheers

M Haider Ghuloum

Trump State Department: from Romney to Petraeus and Huntsman?……

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

President-elect Donald Trump apparently is mulling several choices for Secretary of State:

  1.  A disloyal weasel (that would be Mitt Romney, the man who savaged Trump and attacked his integrity the most last spring and summer).
  2. A loyal weasel, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. He has also taken funds from foreign organizations.
  3. A detestable man who has campaigned noisily, loudly for the job, after losing out the struggle for Attorney General: former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He has also taken funds from foreign organizations.
  4. A likable well-educated knowledgeable man who also carries some personal baggage: General David Petraeus.
  5.  Then there is the most dangerous, least diplomatic of the lot, a man who practically has hand-grenades strapped to his mustache: John Bolton.

Not easy choices. Of course Trump is capable of surprising everybody and pick some surprise choice. But that would further infuriate the media who have been focusing on these names.

A Dark Horse could be Jon Huntsman Jr, former governor and former ambassador who also speaks other languages.
Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

 

The Real Enemy in Syria: Can Russia Preempt a Policy Shift by Clinton and the Democrat-Neocon Alliance?………..

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking


American involvement in Syria has been in a ‘trial-and-error’ mode since late spring of 2011.

Early on, the Obama administration took its cue from the Arab tribal kings and princes of the Persian Gulf, who also happen to be very close to the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (all heavy Clinton Foundation donors and all that).
The Wahhabi regimes of Qatar and Saudi Arabia saw an opportunity to spread their own intolerant version of Islamic rule and to deal a blow to a secular but repressive Syrian regime that is an ally of the Iranian mullahs. As they poured money and weapons into Syria, the early uprising shifted into a confessional and sectarian war rather than a fight for democracy as envisioned by some naive Western interventionists. This situation was made worse by the strong promotional campaign waged by the rich and powerful Salafi (and Muslim Brotherhood) movements on the Gulf.

Thus the Syrian uprising of 2011 was doomed from the start as money, weapons, and Salafi volunteers poured in through Turkey and Lebanon and Jordan. All of it from the Gulf region, although soon the Jihadis started flowing in from other Arab countries and then from Europe.


So, the early mantra quickly became: Bashar Al Assad Must Go!
Soon this shifted to a new hopeful mantra: Bashar Al Assad’s Days Are Numbered!
Or, later on: Bashar Al Assad’s Remaining in Damascus is Untenable!

Even the hapless Saudi foreign minister boldly declared (and mimicked by his Qatari counterpart) that: Assad Will Go Either by Diplomatic or Military Means! (Presumably they mean American military means since these two countries don’t have enough forces to occupy one city in Syria)


All this was bought by the U.S foreign policy establishment, especially Secretary Clinton, as inalienable gospel, part of the policy Sharia as preached and taught to the Americans by the meddling kings, princes, and potentates of the Persian Gulf region. Even as the same kings, princes, and potentates were eagerly oppressing and repressing and persecuting their own peoples. Even as they were pouring money into a military coup in Egypt which re-instated the Mubarak regime.


Pressure by some U.S. lawmakers like John McCain and Joe Lieberman (where the hell is he now, by the way) helped nudge the Clinton State Department toward the Gulf position, especially after every visit by these senators to Riyadh, Doha, and Abu Dhabi, none of them known as a bastion of democracy and freedom of expression.

Now Turkey has shifted its position. Initially it was an enabler and conduit of weapons and money and Jihadis into Syria (what I called the Erdogan Trail). But the complex Syrian war spread into Turkey itself. Even as post-coup Erdogan announced a shift in Syrian policy, Turkey has become more involved in Northern Syria. Mainly a result of gains by the Kurdish minority with American help.

Now we know that the Turks have their own Islamist/Jihadist proxies fighting in Northern Syria. All composed of Arab Jihadi fighters.

So:
Iran, Russia, Lebanon and others (including some Iraqis, some Afghanis, etc) are siding with Assad.

Part of the Obama administration is fighting against ISIS and the regime, or thinks it is. This fight is based on Arab Salafist Jihadis.

Part of the Obama administration is siding with the Kurds against ISIS and against other Jihadis. And presumably against the Assad regime.

So, at least two groups that are American supported are fighting each other in Syria.

Saudis and/or Qataris have apparently recently supplied their own favorite Salafi Jihadis with advanced American and other Western weapons. Some of these weapons, like anti-tank or ground-to-air missiles require prior approval by the exporters.

Even as the Assad regime gains ground on some fronts, like the Damascus area and Aleppo, the war becomes more complex and more intractable. Hence it is now almost impossible to structure a political solution that can stop it.

When and if Clinton becomes president, her instinct will be to expand the American military role in Syria (why else do you think all these hawks and Neocons are supporting her?). The media, what is called mainstream American media, are in their 2002 pre-Iraq War mode now. They are heavily “reporting” on regime atrocities, reviving the old WMD stories, talking about the old but now defunct “Red Lines”. The CNN network is now, as it did in 2002-2003, leading the military charge into the morass of Syria. It, and other media, are working to make a new more Americanized war in Syria as publicly acceptable as they did the war in Iraq in 2003. (FYI: the American people have not seen any uncovered Iraqi WMDs, yet).

The Russians probably know all this about the prospects for 2017. They are now solidifying and expanding their presence in Syria, possibly as a means of preempting this expected Clinton policy next year. The Russians and their allies seem to be making it impossible to establish the no-fly zones that are so dear to Democrat hawks, except maybe in the Kurdish regions which border Turkey.

A repetition of Iraq? Possibly a different version of another mistake. But who is the “real enemy” in Syria that seriously threatens the West in its own homeland: in Paris, London, and New York? That is the question that should decide expanded intervention.

Cheers

M.H.Ghuloum

 

Arabs and the Nusra Front: Marketing Their Own Cutthroats in Syria…….

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking


More than a year ago I posted here that Al Qaeda may be brought in from the cold by some Arab regimes. With the goal of using it in Syria and Iraq. Here is a link to NUSRA FRONT: ARE THE PRINCES BRINGING AL QAEDA BACK IN FROM THE COLD?…... A month later I posted another rant about NEW WAHHABI INTERNATIONAL: AL QAEDA AS THE NEW GREAT HOPE OF JIHADIS IN SYRIA…… 


There were several others posted here:
AL QAEDA FRONT OF SYRIA RETURNS TO ITS WAHHABI ROOTS, NO LOL……

JABHAT AL QAEDA OF SYRIA: ARE SAUDIS AND TURKS SELLING IT TO AMERICA?………

SAUDI PRINCES THROW THEIR SUPPORT TO AL QAEDA SYRIAN ALLY, OF BROTHERS AND COUSINS AND ZIONISTS AND OUTSIDERS………

All that was then. Now we probably see a culmination of the moves made by some Arab potentates and Persian Gulf Salafis. Salafi activists on the Gulf, especially in my hometown, have been trying for years to bring Al-Qaeda and the Wahhabi royal princes together. Al Qaeda has remained faithful to the Bin Laden line of no compromise: after all it doesn’t have much more than that these days.

In the past few weeks many opinions and social media comments by Gulf Salafis have urged Al Nusra, the Al Qaeda franchise in Syria, to break from the mother group. Gulf Salafis are nothing if not unfaithful and treacherous partners and allies, in addition to being a reliable fifth column for the wishes of the absolute tribal princes. They have been willing to flush their mother Al Qaeda organization, now headed by the hapless Egyptian Al Zawahiri, down the Salafist toilet. They see the big prize as being Syria. Besides, Al Nusra cutthroats have long been the most effective of the Syrian Jihadis (outside of ISIS). Tempting the West to support them might be do-able, by the mere fact that they are not-ISIS.

It seems that Jabhat Al Nusra, Front of Islamist Support, has listened to its Gulf Salafi brothers’ call and will join forces with the Arab princes in order to defeat Bashar Al Assad and establish their own Umayyad Caliphate in Damascus. A tall order if the battle trends of the past two years continue. It is now finally “breaking up’ with Al Qaeda headquarters, wherever that be, likely in preparation of fellow Wahhabis, the Saudis and Qataris, trying to sell its virtues to the Western allies.

The leader of Al Nusra, this Al Julani (meaning Man from Golan although he may not be from there) possibly aspires to declare himself the new Caliph of Wahhabism, even as the Iraqi ISIS-Baathist Caliph of Raqqa and Mosul moves closer to losing his realm.
Al Nusra now seems the last remaining (no so) White Hope of the absolute undemocratic Arab tribal monarchs and the Gulf Salafis to liberate Syria for the joys of Salafi fundamentalism. Perhaps that also applies to a few deluded politicians in the West.

(Turkey’s Mr. Erdogan seems too busy these days in internal matters to dabble as much in internal Syrian affairs. He has his own version of repression to impose).

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum