Prince Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah Goes Hollywood……..

        
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“Hair-dresser turned movie producer Jon Peters confirmed that he sold 5.2 acres of land in Benedict Canyon to a Saudi prince who now plans to construct an 85,000-square-foot compound on the site. Prince Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud, a son of Saudi King Abdullah, purchased three adjacent parcels in 2009, Peters said. Property records list the sale price at $12 million. The Times reported Tuesday that the proposal had stirred heated opposition among neighbors, who include Bruce Springsteen and Michael Ovitz. Project opponents say they have gathered the support of about 500 residents, who contend the project would harm the canyon’s environment. …….”

These snooty California neighbors don’t even want a royal prince in their neighborhood. No respect anymore. Imagine, a fuckingroyal prince and Bruce Springsteen is turning him down! What is “The Boss” compared to a prince or to a Hollywood agent like Ovitz?  Enough to make any prince lose faith in such silly ideas as democracy and equality. He may end up pleading that it is a Zionist plot, the scoundrel. Could be that their experience with the Qaddafi sons has made the stars wary of Arab potentates?
You’d never ever read this item in any Saudi newspaper or television network or website or even on Kilroy’s famous toilet wall. This is the first installment of the new money the Saudi government announced last week to provide housing for people. At least they are being uncharacteristically fast about it.
(FYI: Jon Peters started as Barbra Streisand’s hair-dresser. She dumped her first husband, married Peters and made him into a film producer, before dumping him too).

Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

The Gulf: Buying Arms and Media and the Internet…………….

        
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The United Arab Emirates and Qatar don’t care about democracy either. The Qataris only want to be able to buy every huge building & store in Europe & Asia & America. They also want to keep Aljazeera as the most popular Arab news network. They have al-Qardhawi in Egypt who they think will be influential, but he is a television shaikh, and young people look at TV shaikhs as being a little clownish. I doubt that many Egyptian youth pay much attention to him. Hell, I wouldn’t, and I am not young or Egyptian.

The United Arab Emirates
are even less inclined toward democratic values than Qatar. The potentates of Abu Dhabi just want to be able to buy every modern warplane and missile systems and tank and warship in the world. I hear they are in the market for a satellite to buy, which may indicate that the shaikhs believe all the UFO and extraterrestrial stories. They have been the second biggest importers of arms in the world in the past five years according to SIPRI. This for a country that has less than one million citizens (the other four million of the population are temporary foreign laborers, housemaids, and gardeners, mostly from South Asia). The way they are buying weapons, you’d think they are trying to speculate by hoarding, or maybe plotting to take over Saudi Arabia. Their shaikhs also want to buy as many and British soccer clubs as they can. Oh, and they like to be able to buy the best race horses in Britain.

The Saudi princes are into media big time. Obviously they are into other things as well because their numbers keep increasing. They have been buying Arab media furiously in the past few years. They own such well known outlets as Asharq Alawsat, al-Hayat, al-Arabiya, LBC, MBC, ART, etc, etc. They want to buy every Arabic newspaper & magazine & television network around, and they can afford it. They even own the whole Arab Thought Society, such as it is. They have never forgotten that Nasser of Egypt almost overthrew their dynasty with his strong media message. In fact the Saudis would like to buy the whole Internet and shut it down.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

What Arab Autocrats and Iranian Mullahs Want………

        
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Media report that Arab regimes, the ones that have not been overthrown yet, are angry at French foreign minister Alain Juppe. Yesterday he warned that other Arab despots that act against their peoples can face the fate of Qaddafi unless they compromise. He mentioned several by name, including Bahrain and Yemen.
Iranians have been happy about regime change in Tunisia, Egypt (especially), and its prospects in Libya and Yemen, and the possibility of weakening the stranglehold of the al-Khalifa and their tribal cronies in Bahrain. By the mullahs do not want regime change in Syria; they worry about losing an ally of thirty year and they worry about the implications for Lebanon. They are trying to interpret the Arab uprisings as Islamic, but they are not so, despite a few fundamentalist attempts. The Iranians also may entertain ideas about controlling Middle East, with the help of the Turks.
The Saudis doesn’t want anything resembling democracy in Bahrain or Jordan or Yemen (or anywhere else in the Arab world, the Muslim world, this whole world, or the nether world). In fact the Saudis are reported to be frantically using their money, their ‘friends’ in the West, and their vast media trying to make sure the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen never lead to true electoral democracy. Like everyone else they want their friends in place.

Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Ahmadinejad: for Chastity Belts and against Tyranny?……….

        
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Noting that the world is in dire need of a modern system and new shape and design, the President said that in the New Year efforts will be made globally for reforms in the tyrannical and inhumane structures and systems. He said human beings are universal creatures, so their attitude and lifestyle should be universal. “Man’s true prosperity depends on his global vision and today, under God’s grace, suspicious borders are getting eliminated. Today, materialistic management has come to an end and all nations are going to share similar universal feeling.” Saying that monotheism, justice, chastity and durable peace are true causes of nations, President Ahmadinejad said all nations are seeking kindness and friendship and this promises coming of a promised rule over the world…….

I am dubious about his bit on “tyranny”: one person’s tyranny is another person’s everyday dirty police work. Tyranny is in the eye of the beholder, or maybe the receiver. As for the ‘chastity’ bit: he ain’t gonna win the West with that one, not even the God-fearing Bible-belt. He’d need millions of chastity belts. Lighten up, Mahmoud!
He’s only antagonizing Sarkozy and most of the French nation (the none-immigrant most).
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

From Syria with Love: the Illusion of Saudi Exceptionalism…….

        
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This writer in the semi-official Saudi daily Asharq Alawsat starts by assaulting the Syrian regime, probably deservedly so. Then he plunges straight into his favorite topic: Saudi exceptionalism. He claims that Saudi Arabia has surpassed the current popular Arab storm with distinguished success; that Saudi days turned into a “national carnival” of renewed loyalty and trust of the princes (but nothing about Brazilian thongs here). He claims that the “storm” benefited Saudi Arabia, not only because it was not “harmed” by it, but because the fires have reached the Syrian province of Houran!

He claims that what happened in Saudi Arabia has shocked and awed the whole wide wonderful world, including international correspondents who hoped to see angry demonstrations. Instead of unrest they saw a love-fest with people and king and princes (including Bandar of BAE Systems and SFO and Tony Blair fame) all making out and singing kumbaya. Literally Frenching on the streets of Riyadh, once a no-no frowned upon by the Saudi Commissions for the Propagation of Vice. He claims that with one 15 minute the king did what no leader in history has done: he defused tensions by solving all the pending problems of the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula. The exact opposite of Marcus Antonius outside the Senate on the Ides of March! And he did not even have to mention anything about democracy, freedom, and corruption among the princes! He says nothing about the Eastern province (al-‘Hasa), and the hundreds of thousands of security agents that inundated the streets, and the protests in Qatif and the hundreds taken to prison. He did not nominate any prince for the Nobel Prize for graft. The competition would be tough.

Yet he may have a right to gloat (for now): if the Syrian regime falls, that would be a loss for the Iranian regime, and a gain for the Saudi regime in the short term. Provided that any new Syrian regime is not ‘too’ democratic. Syria can be a double-edged sword for the Saudis if it comes through, especially if it goes democratic. If the surrounding countries, Arabs and Iran, turn more democratic, this cannot be good for Saudi rule. The princes know this: just look at the agonies of occupied Bahrain.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Sarahcuda and Israel: Palin Doing the Aliyah………..

        
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The 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee and former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, landed in Ben-Gurion airport on Sunday afternoon for her first ever visit to Israel. “As the world confronts sweeping changes and new realities, I look forward to meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss the key issues facing his country, our ally Israel,” Palin said in a statement. Meanwhile Ynet has learned that US President Barack Obama may be planning a visit to Israel as well, this summer……

Regardless of any diplomatic nonsense Sarah Palin may be saying, she is doing her I’s: India, Israel, Iran. The three that any US candidate must do to get elected. Sorry about the “Iran” slip, couldn’t help it. India is not required and is rarely done. Maybe she should try Ireland and Italy (the latter is more promising). Many Americans probably wish she’d do the Aliyah (העלייה‎) and remain in Israel: these are the Republicans I am talking about. Democrats are urging her: run, Sarah, run. She is their best chance to keep the White House and maybe regain Congress.
As for Obama, he should stay the hell out of Israel. He is probably more popular over there there than Ahmadinejad or Khamenei, but that ain’t saying much, is it? It is not safe for him.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

My Disagreement with Ayatollah Khamenei………..

        
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Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Monday that there is no difference between the uprising against tyranny in Bahrain with other Arab countries such as Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia or Libya. The Leader, who was addressing a large group of people in Mashhad in the first day of Noruz (the Persian New Year), said this claim that Iran is supporting the Bahrainis because they are mostly Shia is absolutely false. Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran has been supporting the Sunni Muslims in Palestine over the past 32 years and this shows that Iran makes no difference between Shias and Sunnis. The Leader said those who are trying to interpret the Bahraini people’s uprising against despotism as the conflict between Shia and Sunni are in fact doing the “greatest service” to the United States. “Do not turn the anti-despotic movement of a nation into a Shia-Sunni problem,” Ayatollah Khamenei warned. “We will not make a differentiation between Gaza, Palestine, Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia,” the Leader asserted……..” Mehr News (Iran)

I don’t agree with Khamenei on many issues: the idea of Wilayat Faqih (rule of a supreme cleric), on theocracy, on secularism, on free speech, on the death penalty, and on many other issues.
But this one is different. Apparently Khamenei is pissed (putting it succinctly) that the vast Saudi official media dominating the Arab waves, and its surrogates in the Gulf states, are painting the Bahrain uprising as primarily a Shi’a-Sunni conflict. I happen to agree with Khamenei on this point, as do most Arabs, almost all Arabs, outside the sectarian-divided Gulf region. The rulers of Bahrain and their partners in Apartheid have been using this Shi’a-Sunni rift, enlarging it shamelessly for their own purpose, dividing the region and inflaming it. The Saudis and some other tame and controlled Gulf media have been aiding and abetting this shameful sectarian approach. On this one I agree with Khamenai, even though I disagree on many others.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

A Confederation of Fifth Columns in the Gulf States………….

        
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An idea has been floated around the Gulf states in recent months, and it is being revived these days. Pro-Saudi Salafis and a handful of pro-Saudi media writers (some of them possibly encouraged or funded from Riyadh) are calling for a ‘confederation’ of the GCC Gulf states. One irresponsible columnist even called for a “quick confederation”, and he was covered extensively and gleefully by Saudi media. None of these worthies mentions anything about peoples’ opinions, referendums, or a vote on the issue: such is the state of watermelon opinion-makers on my Gulf. One or two have become obsessive compulsive about it, repeating this frequently. They raise and use fear of Iran as a factor, as well as stoking suspicion and fear of local Shi’as (minorities in all the GCC except Bahrain).
 
I wrote about this last year and noted that such a confederation would be based on the least common factors among the members, the worst common traits. I also opined that it will not get anywhere (i.e. forgetaboutit). The Gulf states range politically from an absolute monarchy system to a partial democracy (I am not including Bahrain among the latter). For the Saudis, they may think that this will solve the problem of pressures for democracy and accountability. A solidly despotic regional regime on the Saudi mold would represent a strong front against Western and Arab pressures for openness, they probably think. It would also probably bring all other GCC states down to the Saudi and Bahraini levels in the treatment of their minority Shi’a (Shi’ites). That last point is very important for the Wahhabi Kingdom without Magic. For the Salafis around the Gulf it would mean that all GCC states become socially Saudi-like: more power for the clergy, no social reforms, women mostly kept at home, preferably. And no politics: absofuckinglutely no politics! Salafis would also gain more ‘political’ power as their patron regime, the Saudis, would dominate the new confederation as a prelude to swollowing it.

One early serious problem with such a scheme is that the rulers of the smaller states are not stupid, at least not as stupid as the Salafis and Saudi fifth columnists in their countries think. They are all jealous of their own turf and would never accept such a plan, although one or two media outlets may pay lip service to it. The al-Nahayan of the UAE are almost as autocratic as the al-Saud and would never give up one iota of power to their own people or to foreigners. As for Oman, it has always had little real interest in any form of integration, always looking across the Persian-American Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
 
Then there are the peoples of our region who value their independence and way of life, in spite of all the media noise that hint at the sun actually shining out of the ass of some Saudi prince (remember: Saddam was the supposed source of our sun years ago). In other words, such a plan is not only silly, but dangerous for the peoples of the Gulf states. It is DOA. Only the al-Khalifa of Bahrain may agree to such a hegemony: any regime that invites occupation and torments its own people would do anything to cling to absolute power. Anything.

Therefore, my fatwa is that such a scheme is hair-brained scheme or, as we would say on the Gulf, “مشروع بطيخ” a watermelon scheme.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Egypt’s Revolution and a Kingdom without Magic…………

        
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Now the country is trying to establish Mubarakism without Mubarak and it is determined to put an end to the “Middle East Spring” with petrodollars, terrorism and military intervention. It has been said: “The destiny of this pageant lies in the Kingdom of Oil…”…… After stifling protests within its own borders, Saudi Arabian intervention in Bahrain means that it is perpetuating its obscurantist message using terror. This policy of terror is due to the nature of how the power structure was formed in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is used to interpreting any kind of diversity “as an affront to Islam”. This has been the approach since 1744, the establishment of the pact between “the puritanical religious revivalist Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and a group of desert warriors known as the Ikhwan, who had embraced the call to arms of al-Sa’ud. The same pact governing this alliance between religious and temporal powers persists to this day through the clerical legitimization of the rule of the House of al-Sa’ud, and the reciprocal guarantee of the Islamic character of the state………..

He saysand guarantee the Islamic character of the state”. I beg to differ about this. He is talking about the ‘apparent’ Islamic character: the ubiquitous mosques, the shaggy Wahhabi shaikhs issuing fatwas-com-alibis, women not allowed to drive cars (although they rode whatever men rode at the time of the Prophet), etc. True Islamic character probably does not exist in most, nay any, countries, certainly including the Kingdom without Magic. It has to do with a core of values: justice, equality, not allowing corruption. Islamic character also does not mean these hairy Salafis, the enablers and cheerleaders of corrupt potentates. In the early days of true Islam most of these avaricious potentates would have met the same fate their own judges pass on poorer people these days: their hands chopped off, then flogged in public. That would be a switch, n’est-ce pas?
In early Islamic days, something like the BAE Systems scandal would not have happened (look it up under that or under: al-Yamama, or Tony Blair & SFO, or Prince Bandar), nor would many more we probably never read about. In this new age of ‘professed’ Western transparency and humongous arms deals by some of our states that barely have enough people to fill a football stadium. It has more to do with preserving the grip of dynasties on absolute power than Islamic character.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

The Odd Religious ‘Freedom’ of Malaysia………..

    

 

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“I consider myself the new generation of Malaysian Shia,” said Mr. Mohammad, 33. “My father is Sunni, my mother is Sunni. They are aware that I’m practicing a different school of thought. It’s no problem at all.” But such acceptance does not extend to Malaysia’s religious authorities. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but when it comes to Islam, the country’s official religion, only the Sunni denomination is permitted. Other forms, including Shiite Islam, are considered deviant and are not allowed to be spread. Mr. Mohammad was one of 130 Shiites detained by the religious authorities in December as they observed Ashura, the Shiite holy day commemorating the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein, in their prayer room in an outer suburb of Kuala Lumpur. There are no official figures on the number of Shiites in Malaysia, but Shiite leaders estimate that there could be as many as 40,000, many of whom practice their faith secretly……While sectarian divisions are associated more with countries like Iraq and Pakistan, Islamic experts say Malaysia is an example of a Muslim-majority country where the Shiite branch is banned…….
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

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