Tag Archives: Arabs

So, Who Won the Gaza War? Bil Mishmish to Jerusalem………

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15                   DennyCreek2

Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter   KuwaitCox2

“After a 50-day conflict in Gaza that ended with inconclusive results, leaders of Israel and Hamas are struggling to convince their war-weary constituents that the costly campaign has brought them real achievements. But analysts say that the ultimate outcome of the fighting is yet to be determined, with talks on substantial points of contention deferred for up to a month as an indefinite cease-fire takes hold. At a news conference on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel had emerged from the campaign with “a great military achievement and a great diplomatic achievement.”………..”

“Poll: Israel didn’t win Gaza war, Netanyahu still best choice for PM” Haaretz Headline (8/27/14)

Palestinians did not hesitate to call the Battle of Gaza a victory. One militia leader was even talking about reconquering Jerusalem yesterday. Israelis, if they could respond in Arabic, would have been excused for saying in Arabic Bil Mishmish (بالمشمش = in the apricot (lol) = ForgetAboutIt). Many Arab potentates from the Nile to the Persian Gulf would love to agree with that Israeli assessment. Not because they are patriotic Zionists or Likudniks, but because they want Hamas of the Muslim Brotherhood dislodged from Gaza at any price. Just as they dreamed wildly a few years ago of Israeli help in dislodging Hezbollah from Lebanon, an even more unrealistic goal.
Arab leaders seem like an overly optimistic lot. They have rarely hesitated to call a battle a victory, no matter what the actual outcome. Saddam Hussein famously claimed victories after his wars with Iran (1980-88) and with the international community (1990-91). At the beginning of the 1967 War, Arab governments were famously proclaiming that their forces were approaching Tel Aviv even as the IDF were smashing their armies on all fronts. And let’s not revisit the 1973 War.

But then again, this was not a conventional battle in Gaza. In such a murky semi-urban warfare, if a regular better-armed force does not achieve its goals, then it can be seen as the loser. If the Israelis are seen as having “not won” and Hamas is seen as having “not lost”, then the balance tips to Hamas. It is probably too early to make that judgment, assuming we know what the initial goals were. But it is telling that some Israeli politicians are already criticizing Netanyahu for conceding too much in Cairo.

The next few weeks will tell.


Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Cinematic Political History of the Middle East………

Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Some film titles and what they might mean in the Middle East:

American Dream: peace in the Middle East

The King and I: Al Sisi after his visit to the  Saudi king on his plane.

The Hustler: Netanyahu visits with Obama.

The Count of Monte Cristo: Morsi dreaming of escape from his military prison at Chateau d’If.

Slumdog Millionaire: the nightly dream of every South Asian laborer working on Qatar’s World Cup projects.

Dangerous Liaisons: arming the Syrian opposition militias.

Return of the Mummy: Hosni Mubarak visits Al Sisi at Qubba Palace.

The 300: Iranian embassy in Baghdad.

The 3000: Iranian embassy in Damascus.

The 30,000: political prisoners in Egypt.

Lonely are the Brave: Iranian embassy in Riyadh

Lonely are the Brave: Saudi embassy in Tehran.

Ali Baba and the Forty-plus Thieves: a history of Bahrain (or some other Gulf country).

King Lear: Prince Bandar wandering between projects destabilizing Syria and Iraq and Lebanon.

The Sheik: anyone who has any influence in the UAE.

The Wild Bunch: ISIS, ISIL, Al Nusra,  Al WTF

All That Money Can Buy: Saudi foreign policy

The Prince and the Paupers: Saudi Prince (any prince) walking down certain Riyadh streets he usually avoids, runs into people he usually does not see.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: take your pick……..

The Idiot: no comment.


Mohammed Haider Ghuloum


Trapped and Eyeless in Gaza: Hamas and Mossad, Arabs and the Memory of Badr and an Earlier Ramadan……

Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter “The Egyptian cease-fire proposal that was published Monday night took most members of the diplomatic-security cabinet by complete surprise. Economy Minister Naftali Bennett heard about it in a television studio moments before going on air. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman heard about it on the radio. A senior Israeli official said Lieberman knew that talks were being held with the Egyptians, but had no idea a proposal was being finalized. Upon hearing the news, he realized that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who were running the talks, had left him out of the loop………………”

Modern Arab legend has it that the Israelis were instrumental in the rise of Hamas. The somewhat credible story is that way back in the days when the PLO, Fatah, PFLP and all the other secular Palestinian acronyms were bugging Israel, the Israelis thought of encouraging some rivals to distract them. That the Mossad helped the growth of what the Palestinians call ‘Islamic resistance’. It was a classic example of the old ‘divide and rule’. The rest is history, allegedly, but in fact credibly. It is not clear how aware the ‘Islamists’ were of the alleged Israeli role on their behalf.

Now back to the current. No wonder Hamas leaders were unhappy, nay fundamentally pissed. No wonder they rejected a deal they did not know any details of. Of course Hamas may now be somewhat trapped, more trapped than Benyamin Netanyahu, since both are not sure what to do next. In some ways Hamas’s task is easier: it mostly reacts. All it has been doing so far has been to duck the air raids and missiles, occasionally firing a few rockets that apparently do little serious harm. In other words, they only respond to Israeli action, which puts them in a weak position.

Netanyahu is also trapped: his biggest problem now is what to do next if Hamas continues to reject the deal he made privately with Al Sisi (and perhaps with the knowledge of Abu Mazen whose legal tenure in office also expired long ago)?

As for the people of Gaza, they are even more painfully trapped than either Hamas or Israel, screwed by almost all sides, to put it crudely. As usual they pay the terrible price of this new brutal Israeli assault, which was claimed to be a reaction to Hamas actions in which the people of Gaza have no input. The last Palestinian elections were so long ago, that was when Hamas won. But we don’t know how new elections will turn out in both Gaza and the West Bank. Provided they are free and fair elections.

As for the other Arab regimes they are as usual divided and impotent. They all mouth some vague verbal support for ‘Gaza’, but some of the potentates are no doubt praying fervently this Ramadan for an outright Israeli victory. (They would be praying silently, with the history of the Battle of Badr in mind during an earlier Ramadan). They have done it before, they will do it again.


Mohammed Haider Ghuloum


What is an Arab Worth? One Gaza Headline Worth a Thousand Words……

Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Breaking News! One Israeli soldier wounded near Gaza ……..

This was an Al Mayadeen TV tweeted headline this morning (about 30 minutes ago): Breaking News! One Israeli soldier wounded near Gaza ……..

This headline about sums up the whole current situation of the Arab peoples: futility, impotence, low relative worth (compared to an Israeli, for example).

One Israeli soldier may have been wounded near Gaza. Yes, there is some hope now. It will probably be picked up by others as well and headlined as……. what? A glimmer of hope? A straw? Need I say more?

I will: there has been no Arab uprisings, no Arab revolutions, nothing has changed. Mubarak rules Egypt disguised as Al Sisi, Assad rules Damascus disguised as Assad, undisguised Al Saud princes rule through petro-money far beyond their own captive peoples, Saddam Hussein rules Mosul now disguised as someone else, otherwise impotent Arab potentates still lord it over their miserable fiefdoms.

Change will not come through movements sponsored by petroleum media like Aljazeera and Alarabiya. Change will only come when actual brick and marble palaces are literally stormed, when generals and field marshals are sent to……. wherever the hell they deserve to be sent to.

Otherwise the current exchange rate of one Israeli for two thousand Arabs will continue and get worse.


Mohammed  Haider Ghuloum


Our Fertile Crescent of Turmoil and Violence: Neither Shi’a nor Sunni nor Wahhabi……

Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

In our native region, the origins of symbolic crescents go back deep into history. In modern times it makes for some memorable sound bites. From the original Ramadan Crescent we have gone through others. From the Fertile Crescent to Zbigniew Brzezinski‘s Arc (or Crescent) of Crisis of 1978 to the more recent sectarian “Crescents”.

Remember when the “Shi’a Crescent” was the fashionable term among the foreign policy connoisseurs of the West? That was when they talked about a Shia Crescent (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon) and the media picked on it and spread it? That one imploded early in 2011 with the explosion of what became the doomed Arab Uprisings.

Remember when some started to talk of a broad “Sunni Crescent” (Turkey, Qatar, Saudi, GCC, Syrian Opposition, etc)? All these were cute sound bites that sought to summarize and hence (mis)represent the march of events and history across the Middle East. As usual, the sound bites simplified and grossly misrepresented a set of complex situations.

Then there is the more specific “Wahhabi Crescent” that is defined by Saudi Arabia and Qatar at one end (one tip), and by the Jihadist terror groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS and Al-Nusra and the Salafi movements at the other end (the other tip). There is some serious interaction in between. No need to go over Taliban and Boko Haram and their ilk.

What we have now is one huge wide Arc of Sectarian Turmoil and Violence that spreads from the northeastern shores of the Tigris and Euphrates south to Yemen and north up through the Sinai and across the Nile and into Libya. I am not even including the distant peripheral neighbors like Afghanistan and Pakistan and northwest Africa. Now, more than three years after the so-called Arab Spring, we are having the beginnings of a possible regional bloodbath. In some cases like Syria and Iraq and Libya and Yemen it is well advanced, in other cases like Egypt and Palestine-Israel it is somewhat controlled and sporadic. The violence is also nibbling at some other states of the region, like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and Lebanon, threatening to get out of hand.

Oddly, or maybe not, the non-Arab countries and quasi-countries of the region are quite stable, given the storms raging around them. Turkey, Iran, Israel, and even Iraqi Kurdistan have managed to go through non-controversial political processes, in one case with smooth and peaceful leadership change. Yet these same non-Arab countries are deeply involved in the turmoil raging through the eastern part of the Arab world. In some cases feeding it, in others exploiting it. 

Stay tuned………


Mohammed Haider Ghuloum