Category Archives: US Foreign Policy

Two Futile Speeches: Obama and Osama……

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I am expecting two much-publicized speeches on the Middle East this next week. My advice to both speakers (I prefer speechifiers in this case) is or would have been: don’t bother. But one of them is dead. Bin Laden reportedly has an audio tape prepared for after his death. I wonder if we will hear it as we watch some of reported porno tapes found in his hideout in Pakistan (some say they were under his bed). Okay, like many of us he can watch almost all the porn he wants, there are no religious injunctions against it because in the old days they had no video recording and Arabs did not draw lewd figure on walls like the Romans and Greeks.
Osama’s speech will be a waste of time because it will not turn the tide and make his movement any more attractive to many Arabs and Muslims, especially outside the Arabian Peninsula.
The other speech, by President Barack Obama, will be as useless. Mr. Obama’s hands are tied behind his back by the coming elections and by the powerful Israeli lobby that has a veto power over American Middle East policy. He must know his speech will be useless at this time, for it will avoid or evade the Palestinian-Israeli issue. He will make some general statements about the Palestinian issue and his support for democracy in Libya and Syria but not in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. I wrote here about two years ago or so when the US administration introduced a Middle East initiative and said it expected a solution within a year: I said fohgetaboutit. As did others, and we were all right.
Cheers
mhg




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Urban Legend: Susan Rice and Qaddafi and Viagra………

     
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One of America’s most senior diplomats claimed at the United Nations security council that Muammar Gaddafi is supplying his troops with Viagra to encourage mass rape, according to diplomats. Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN made the claim while accusing Gaddafi of numerous human rights abuses. Earlier in the week Rice also claimed, without offering any evidence, that Iran is helping Syria suppress internal dissent. Foreign affairs specialists expressed scepticism about both claims. The Viagra claim surfaced in an al-Jazeera report last month from Libya-based doctors who said they had found Viagra in the pockets of pro-Gaddafi soldiers. But it is a jump from that to suggesting Gaddafi is supplying troops with it to encourage mass rape…….. Earlier in the week, Rice deplored the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on dissent and cited Iranian involvement. “Instead of listening to their own people, President Assad is disingenuously blaming outsiders, while seeking Iranian assistance in repressing Syria’s citizens, through the same brutal tactics that have been used by the Iranian regime……The state department said it has credible information but would not elaborate…….”

This sounds like an urban legend propagated by Susan Rice: like the sightings of Elvis in Nevada or the sighting of Saddam Hussein in Bahrain (these are only Saddam wannabes and former thugs). No doubt Qaddafi used Viagra and probably even Cialis (for “when the moment is right” as the famous ad says). I suspect he used it on and for himself, not for his forces. In other words, I suspect this Viagra story is just more bullshit, something Ms Rice should try not to step into in the future.
Cheers
mhg




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The Saudi-Israeli Alliance Comes Out of the Closet………….

     
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The Arab Spring and U.S. Policy: The View From Jerusalem. Israeli officials want a public commitment from Washington to protect the Saudi regime should it come under threat. It is provocative, but not entirely inaccurate, to suggest that U.S. foreign policy these past few months has been sufficiently erratic to make America’s allies reconsider the degree to which we can be trusted—and our adversaries re-evaluate the degree to which we must be feared. The canary in the coal mine on such matters is Israel. None of America’s allies is more sensitive to even the most subtle changes in the international environment, or more conscious of the slightest hint of diminished support from Washington. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been so concerned that a member of his fractious ………TedKoppel (WSJ)

Ted Koppel is one of the most serious and reliable  journalists, since before his old Nightline program.
As Hercule Poirot (Belgian waffle not French) never actually said: zee plot, she sickens…….
Cheers
mhg

Shirin Ebadi on Obama and Bahrain……….

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“The Obama administration is making a major misstep by “closing its eyes” to the violent government crackdown on protesters in Bahrain and leaving the door open for Iran to influence the small oil-producing nation and U.S. ally, Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi said Friday. “In the absence of the West in Bahrain, the government of Iran can of course influence and exploit the revolution,” Ebadi, the Iranian-born human rights activist, author and former judge who has been living in exile since 2009, said in an interview at The Washington Post. Ebadi highlighted Sunni-led Bahrain, which is a majority-Shiite nation like Iran that has used violence to stop recent protests…….

I bet not a single media outlet in the Persian-American Gulf will ever carry this news item. They always headline Shirin Ebadi’s comments against the Iranian regime, and rightly so. Not single newspaper “anywhere” on the Gulf will carry this news item.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Gulf Cat that Got Clinton’s Tongue………….

     
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Allies of Saudi Arabia have not publicly protested these serious and systematic violations. The European Union foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said on April 18 that she had been “very pleased” with her two-day visit to Riyadh and made no public comments about the political prisoners. Neither Tom Donilon nor Robert Gates publicly commented on the kingdom’s human rights violations. “The EU’s silence on the brazen arrest of a peaceful dissident on the first day of its chief foreign policy representative’s visit looks like a pat on the back for an authoritarian state,” said Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Silence when more than 160 peaceful dissidents are locked up should not be an option for Brussels or Washington.”………. In 2009, Saudi Arabia acceded to the Arab Charter for Human Rights, which guarantees in article 32 the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The kingdom is one of few countries that have not yet signed the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. “As the list of Saudi political prisoners grows longer, the silence of the US and the EU becomes more deafening,”…..”

Susan Rice today brazenly, and rightly, condemned human rights abuses in Syria and Libya and a few other Middle East countries. She waxed indignant. What was most noticeable were the countries she did not mention. Two of these countries are the worst abusers of human rights now: Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Even as Rice was speaking, these two regimes were rounding up people in both countries and torturing them in Bahrain. Not only do they suppress freedoms and dissent, they also practice a form of apartheid discrimination, in the Saudi case against anybody of a different sect or faith, in the Bahrain case against the majority of the people (a la South Africa). Rice did not say boo about them. Nor did Secretary Clinton recently when she lambasted other governments this week. The Saudi pussycat has got all their tongue. No profiles of courage when elected American and European officials are terrified of offending offensive tribal absolute serial-polygamous monarchs.
I knew that deep bow Mr. Obama made in from of King Abdullah in 2009 was the beginning of something.
Cheers
mhg

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Saudi Pussycat that Got Clinton’s Tongue………….

     
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Allies of Saudi Arabia have not publicly protested these serious and systematic violations. The European Union foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said on April 18 that she had been “very pleased” with her two-day visit to Riyadh and made no public comments about the political prisoners. Neither Tom Donilon nor Robert Gates publicly commented on the kingdom’s human rights violations. “The EU’s silence on the brazen arrest of a peaceful dissident on the first day of its chief foreign policy representative’s visit looks like a pat on the back for an authoritarian state,” said Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Silence when more than 160 peaceful dissidents are locked up should not be an option for Brussels or Washington.”………. In 2009, Saudi Arabia acceded to the Arab Charter for Human Rights, which guarantees in article 32 the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The kingdom is one of few countries that have not yet signed the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. “As the list of Saudi political prisoners grows longer, the silence of the US and the EU becomes more deafening,”…..”

Susan Rice today brazenly, and rightly, condemned human rights abuses in Syria and Libya and a few other Middle East countries. She waxed indignant. What was most noticeable were the countries she did not mention. Two of these countries are the worst abusers of human rights now: Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Even as Rice was speaking, these two regimes were rounding up people in both countries and torturing them in Bahrain. Not only do they suppress freedoms and dissent, they also practice a form of apartheid discrimination, in the Saudi case against anybody of a different sect or faith, in the Bahrain case against the majority of the people (a la South Africa). Rice did not say boo about them. Nor did Secretary Clinton recently when she lambasted other governments this week. The Saudi pussycat has got all their tongue. No profiles of courage when elected American and European officials are terrified of offending offensive tribal absolute serial-polygamous monarchs.
I knew that deep bow Mr. Obama made in from of King Abdullah in 2009 was the beginning of something.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

The Brave New Saudi-Israeli World of the West, Royal Red Eyes……..

     
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Saudi authorities have arrested over 160 peaceful dissidents in violation of international human rights law since February 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch urged the interior minister, Prince Nayef bin Abd al-‘Aziz Al Sa’ud, to order the immediate release of peaceful dissidents, including Nadhir al-Majid, a writer and teacher arrested on April 17. Allies of Saudi Arabia have not publicly protested these serious and systematic violations. The European Union foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said on April 18 that she had been “very pleased” with her two-day visit to Riyadh and made no public comments about the political prisoners. Neither Tom Donilon, the US national security adviser who visited Riyadh on April 13, nor Robert Gates, US defense secretary who visited on April 6, publicly commented on the kingdom’s human rights violations………

Of course Western dignitaries will not bring up the issue of human rights violations and abuses in Riyadh. Already the aging al-Saud brothers have given Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton what is called the ‘red eye’ in the Gulf, in what the Saudis call the Persian-American Gulf. The red eye is our Gulf term for a serious scowl, where the eyebrows drop to somewhere between the nose and the shoe-polished dyed mustache of a potentate. Neither of these two leaders, nor their functionaries, would dare criticize the al-Saud brothers in public anymore. Now the new “third rail” of U.S politics consists of two: Israel and the al-Saud. Criticize the first at your own risk: every other politician will come after your hide. Criticize the second publicly and the aging despotic petroleum brothers will have a collective hissy fit, sending their septuagenarian offspring menacingly to China and Russia, threatening to replace American Kool-Aid with Tsigntao or Stoly.
Somehow, silently, by stealth, criticism of the al-Saud have become taboo in Western capitals. With all the Saudi abuses of human rights, much more flagrant than in Iran or Syria or Egypt under Mubarak, when was the last time anyone heard a US president or cabinet member, or a French president or a British prime minister publicly mention the issue? Silently and by stealth, even some members of Congress have added the al-Saud dynasty to the ‘third rail of politics. Soon the old king or one of his brothers will be invited to address a joint session of Congress. I suppose he can talk about the joys of absolute tribal monarchy. Or maybe he can spend his ten minutes on the joys of polygamy and how it can keep some senators out of those famous black books that can get them in trouble.
Cheers
mhg

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Rafdhi Prophets and Revolutionaries, State Department Wahhabis, Jesus and Lenin ………

     
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“Stick and stones may break my bones……
But words will never hurt me………”
An Americanism


When Mr. Feltman stops of in Riyadh to brief the al-Saudi brothers, he may be forced, out of politeness, to agree that there may also be an Iranian angle to the Fukushima disaster as well. In the new State Department spirit of accommodation, Feltman may go beyond the Shi’a Crescent and show off his new mastery of Wahhabi vernacular: he may start talking Rafdhis (or Rwafidh) with the aging al-Saud brothers. The Shi’a Crescent is a term King Abdul of Jordan, resplendent in his Captain Kirk space suit pajamas, coined a few years ago. It was in the spirit of George W Bush’s “Axis of Evil” sound bite. Surprising to King Abdul and his online-hip wife, it caught on.
But that Shi’a Crescent is passé, it doesn’t impress the Wahhabi brothers sitting on their vast lakes of petroleum keeping watch on their vast desert gulag. Hence, adoption of the immortal Wahhabi term, straight out of the bowels of Najd: Rafdhi (s), or Rwafidh (pl). No doubt Jeffrey Feltman grew up like most American kids, briefly believing, or pretending to believe, in that old untruth: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. But he is old enough to know better now. Besides, those words come with weapons and tear gas and electric prods and a whole horn of plenty that puts some teeth in the term “Rafdhi”. In fact the Rafdhis who are most of the people of Bahrain are now feeling all of the above.
FYI: Rafdhi is a Wahhabi term for a Shi’a, It comes from the Arabic word for “reject or refuse”. It refers to the Shi’a for refusing to accept some orthodoxy. It is a term used exclusively by Salafis and their ilk and mainly around the Gulf. It is supposed to be derogatory, but I don’t think it is. Anyone who rejects any orthodoxy anywhere should be proud, always. The Prophets Moses and Jesus and Mohammed were all against the orthodoxy, they were all Rafdhis (or Rwafidh). America’s Founding Fathers, Lenin, and Jean Paul Sartre were also Rafdhis. So were the people of Tunisia and Egypt and Libya this year, so are the people of Bahrain now. So are those Iranians and Saudis who are in prison for their beliefs. We should all be Rafdhis, better yet, we should all be Rwafidh.
Cheers
mhg

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Jeffrey Feltman of Manama and the West Bank and Beirut, Auld Lang Syne………

     
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A senior U.S. diplomat has traveled to Bahrain to meet with government officials and representatives from the civil society there, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on Monday. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jeff Feltman, who is in charge of Near Eastern affairs, visited Bahrain on Sunday and Monday, reaffirming the “long-standing commitment” of the United States to a “strong partnership” with Bahrain, Toner told reporters. “Reiterating U.S. support for Bahraini national reconciliation and dialogue, he concurred with the Bahraini leadership’s own embrace of the principles of reform and the respect for rule of law and coexistence,” he said. He said Feltman also discussed with Bahraini officials on regional developments, including U.S. concerns about “Iran’s exploitation” of the situation in the region. Toner said Feltman expressed U.S. appreciation for Bahrain’s cooperation on the issue of Libya…..…Xinhua News

This must have been Feltman’s fourth or fifth visit to Bahrain. All were failures, or maybe not. All his previous visits failed to muzzle the al-Khalifa dogs, or maybe they were not intended to muzzle them. Maybe Jeffrey believed the Saudi-Khalifa narrative that his old Hezbollah pals are involved. That would be enough to bring back memories of Beirut, Hariri, Saniora, Lord Gaga, and the al-Saud emissaries. Lazy Sunday afternoons with the boys, guzzling beer and watching the cluster bombs of 2006 over the south. Enough to make Feltman burst into tears of longing, possibly enough to burst into singing Auld Lang Syne, with the shaikh trying to keep up.
He expressed appreciation for the rulers of Bahrain for cooperation on the issue of Libya, and the Bahraini butchers no doubt expressed appreciation for the Obama administration support on the issue of defending the apartheid system in Bahrain. In this regard, Mr. Feltman may have said that he had seen all the video clips and news clips and photos of the Bahraini victims of torture and sectarian killings and the village raids and the West Bank style checkpoints, and has concluded that the mullahs in Iran bear great responsibility for all of the above. The shaikh (now king) of Bahrain may offer Feltman the Bahraini citizenship as a reward for his frequent visits, as well as a government house in a secure area inhabited by imported security officers from Pakistan and Jordan and Syria.
PS: I need to make a correction about the West Bank. Israeli occupation soldiers at checkpoints don’t normally administer beatings and kickings, and people don’t normally just disappear at their checkpoints. They also don’t have Saudi soldiers, as far as I know, not yet.
Cheers
mhg

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A Saudi Cause Célèbre: a Policy of Apartheid, a Media Empire……..

        
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The chief editor of

Asharq Alawsat, the Saudi daily owned by prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz and run by his son, is here telling the United States administration to stop issuing statements about Bahrain and the Saudi invasion of the island. When this guy writes like this, it can only mean that he got his orders from his lords and masters to say so.

Its title in Arabic is a tough sounding “America Must Control These Statements!”. He is referring to US concern about Bahrain and the killings of civilians by regime security mercenaries. The headline is translated by the newspaper to a milder “America’s inconsistent statements”. He is also saying that allowing free elections in Bahrain would “hand the island to Iran”, a typical Wahhabi refrain against free elections anywhere, even in the oppressed Arabian Peninsula which is about 90% of the “right sect”. He, a foreigner to Bahrain, is also casting suspicions of disloyalty on a majority of the people of Bahrain. Even though it was the ruling oligarchy that betrayed the country by inviting foreign forces to invade.

They have mobilized their vast media (all owned or controlled by Saudi princes), their hired Salafi shaikhs, and their paid ghost newspapers in some states of the Persian-American Gulf (the worst two dailies in my hometown, the worst two in the Middle East, with suspicious financing, fall in that category). They focus now on Bahrain more than anything else, having made the al-Khalifa Apartheid policy against the people of Bahrain their cause célèbre.

They will lose in the end because they are on the wrong side of the move of history. They have no cause beyond keeping in power a grasping and corrupt regime that is a smaller version of their own. Besides, the fear that kept these twits in control is gone. I am not talking about just Bahrain. There is no fear…….
Cheers
mhg

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