Iranian Schizophrenia: Fars News Headlines in One Day………..

     
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Iran’s official Fars News Agency had a group of interesting headlines about the Gulf today. They seem to be moving in different directions. I suspect it is because there are different centers of power with different views inside Iran. Oddly, there was nothing from Ahmadinejad. The only way to get one consistent point of view expressed is for Ayatollah Khamenei to issue them directly, a task which would probably give him an infarct:


  • Envoy: Tehran Resolved to Expand Ties with Islamic, Arab States: Expanding ties with Islamic and Arab states is among the Islamic Republic of Iran’s principal policies, a senior Iranian diplomat underlined on Wednesday.

  • Senior MP Blasts PGCC for Attempts to Promote Iranophobia: A senior Iranian legislator lambasted the attempts made by the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) to spread Iranophobia in the region, and said the move is part of the plots hatched to derail the world public opinion from the current developments and uprisings in the region.

  • Iran Renews Concerns about Riyadh, Manama’s Crimes against People: Head of the Iranian parliament’s Human Rights Committee Zohreh Elahian in a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights voiced Iran’s deep concern about the crimes committed by Manama and its foreign military allies against the Bahraini people.

  • Iran Ready to Stage Joint Wargames with Regional Countries: Iran’s Armed Forces are prepared to stage joint military exercises with the regional countries in a bid to show that the regional states can restore peace and security.


Interesting, n’est-ce pas? But then again inconsistency is the case in the West as well. For example, the United States government and France want to spread democracy and freedom in the Middle East but insist that it be done through the use of Saudi money and arms.
They may hope to get the Saudi type of democracy all over our region.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

American-Saudi Ties: Poisoning the Gulf, Trapping Washington………..

     
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Saudi Arabia is pursuing a combination of domestic and regional policies that risk destabilizing
the Persian Gulf and that risk undermining the United States interests there. Amid calls for political change, Saudi Arabia is failing to address pressing concerns about its political system and the need for political reform. Instead of responding favorably to calls for more political openness, the Kingdom is pursuing a risky domestic agenda, which ignores the social, economic, and political grievances that might fuel popular mobilization. Saudi Arabia’s military intervention into Bahrain has escalated sectarian tensions in the Gulf. The crackdown in Bahrain is not only provoking Iran and creating the conditions for a regional crisis, but it is also creating new opportunities for Iran to expand its sphere of influence. The United States has reasons to maintain a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia. It also has the leverage to encourage the Kingdom to refrain from escalating tensions in the Gulf and further inflaming sectarian anxieties………USIP

It is true: the al-Saud brothers, like the al-Khalifa clan, have used sectarian divisions effectively. They have created a poisonous atmosphere of divisions on the Gulf unseen in modern times. In that task they have had help from their Salafi followers. That is how despots and absolute tribal Arab monarchs stay in power, by dividing the people: Sunni vs. Shi’a, Muslim vs. Christian (not many Jews left in the region). They have even managed to carry their sectarian poison to Lebanon where there are actually Salafis allied with their man Saad Hariri around Tripoli. They are still trying disruptions in Iraq.
They are also trapping the United States into an odd position: there are many people now in the Gulf region who believe that the U.S government is behind the divisive sectarian campaign of the al-Saud and al-Khalifa.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Gulf Baltagiya to Train in the U.S. ……

     
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Last but not least, we would welcome a joint U.S.-GCC effort to fund and implement a training program in the United States for new recruits to the Bahraini police force and army………”

Also sprach self-promoted king of occupied Bahrain Hamad Bin Issa Bin Salman al-Khalifa. The piece was written for him by some slick PR firm in the West. It was appropriately published in the neoconservative Washington Times. It is not clear if the training in the United States will include his foreign thugs imported from as far away as Pakistan, Jordan, Syria, and other places.
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

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

A Gulf Proclamation: a List of Honor, a List of Shame………..

     
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A group of political activists, human rights activists, academics and opinion-makers in the Gulf GCC countries have issued a proclamation asking for: (a) release of political prisoners in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Oman- (b) an end to arrests and torture by Gulf regimes- (c) stopping the use of sectarianism to divide the peoples of the region- initiating political and economic reforms., amomg other needed steps.
I know some of the names on the list of signers, and they are respectable activists and political people and academics (most others I have never heard of). Many of the Saudi prisoners have been held for fifteen years WITHOUT TRIAL.

The contemptible ones: those are the ‘respectable’ ones, which brings me to the subject of the “others”, the not so respectable ones. What is interesting is not who signed this proclamation. It is who did not sign it. There are many known faces and names, academics and journalists and opinion-makers who did not sign it. These are mostly the ‘palace’ academics and journalists and opinion-makers, and there are so many of them on my (Persian-American) Gulf. The vast Saudi media (I can never over-estimate how vast it is; some day I shall list it all) and the nascent official and semi-official UAE media have first claim on many of these. These are the ones who spend a lot of time and “ink” and paper either denying or justifying oppression and midnight raids and mass arrests and torture and sectarianism across my Gulf. Many of them belong on a list of shame.
This proclamation has made the news, but mainly on the Internet or in non-Gulf media. I have not seen any reference to this proclamation in any ’mainstream’ GCC Gulf media, not even in the two GCC countries that are not listed among the oppressive torturer regimes. Not even in my hometown. At least I could not see any when I searched last night.
Which makes me think of yet another list.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

The Only Brave Man in Riyadh: I Protest, Therefore I Am………….

     
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Officials of the General Investigations Department (al-mabahith al-‘amma), the domestic intelligence service, arrested al-Majid at his school in Khobar, in the Eastern Province. At the same time, mabahith officers searched his house in the presence of his wife and children, who said that officers confiscated al-Majid’s personal belongings. Al-Majid had written an article entitled “I Protest, Therefore I Am” on April 2,….. Several user groups on Facebook had called for protests on a Saudi Day of Anger on March 11, but a heavy security presence prevented demonstrations in all but the Eastern Province. In Riyadh, Khalid al-Juhani, a Saudi citizen, appeared to be the sole person to brave the security presence to speak to assembled journalists. In an interview with the BBC, al-Juhani described how he lost his fear and despite knowing he would be arrested wanted to experience the freedom of speaking his mind. Al-Juhani’s brother, Abdullah, told Human Rights Watch that mabahith officers arrested al-Juhani at his home later that day and that Interior Ministry officials told his family that he is being detained incommunicado in Riyadh’s ‘Ulaisha intelligence prison………..”

Al-Majid was brave, maybe the bravest in al-Khobar. But the bravest of all is Khaled al-Johany who stood alone in the middle of Riyadh and talked openly about his country being a big prison. Reports say that not another man joined him; such is the atmosphere of fear in Riyadh. Before the day ended, they had caught him: he was in a smaller prison within the big prison, and nobody has heard any news from or about him. In the kingdom without magic.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

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

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

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

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

UAE: Smart Phones and Dumb Leaders………

     
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BlackBerry users in the United Arab Emirates will soon be unable to send emails and messages without fear of government snooping, under tighter restrictions on internet communication in the Gulf state. The UAE is to ban individuals and small businesses from using the most secure BlackBerry settings – for email, web browsing and BlackBerry Messenger – as part of security fears sweeping the Middle East. Only companies with more than 20 BlackBerry accounts will be able to access the encrypted BlackBerry service, which is favoured by corporate users and government agencies.………

TORONTO—The United Arab Emirates has said it will stop individuals and small businesses from using Research In Motion Ltd.’s highly secured BlackBerry corporate-email services. The restriction, effective May 1, applies only to individuals and businesses with fewer than 20 subscriptions to BlackBerry Enterprise Services accounts, said a spokeswoman for the U.A.E.’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. The regulator didn’t give a reason for its decision.…………..

This is a case of dumb rulers facing down smart phones and winning: too much money at stake for RIMM. Besides, the UAE is the second biggest importer of weapons in the whole wide world, aspiring to become the first biggest importer of weapons in the whole wide wonderful world. Even though it probably has the 3rd or 4th smallest native population in the world. Would RIMM want to face that? A Canuck corporation against four million imported third world foreign laborers and housemaids with access to acres of weapons rusting in the desert? In Bahrain it is the other way around: it is the case of a smart people facing down dumb rulers (well, maybe dumb but greedy enough and with powerful friends). Where I am now, I use my Blackberry without fear of the al-Nahayan boys and their snoops reading my private email. Of course, someone else might, but I don’t know that.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Saudi Plans for a Democratic Future in Egypt………..

     
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Realistically and constitutionally, a caretaker government does not have the right to formulate a new strategic policy that reverses the policy of the previous government. Political wisdom requires not adopting a policy……. In theory, and perhaps also in practice, there is a certain logic for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to adopt a long-term strategy towards Egypt, one aimed first at saving it from regression and perhaps deterioration during the transitional period; and secondly, enabling it to turn into a free market economy in a democratic environment……..

What kind of illogical logic is this? What kind of a constitutional expertise is this? The writer Raghida Dergham works for al-Hayat, the newspaper that is owned by Prince Khaled Bin Sultan al-Saud. That explains it all. And as for the absolute tribal serial-polygamous monarchs of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi guiding the new Egypt toward democracy, are you serious, I mean are you beeping serious? Then why can’t they establish democracy in the Arabian Peninsula (aka Saudi Arabia) or Qatar or the UAE? And why are they trying to kill the democracy movement in Bahrain (with cooperation from Mr. Obama and Mrs, Clinton)?
Cheers
mh
g

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Multidisciplinary: Middle East, North Africa, Gulf, GCC, World, Cosmos…..