Tag Archives: GCC

AlJazeera Revived: Israel Becoming Politically More Arab, More Haplessly Repressive……..

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“Israel plans to revoke press credentials of Al Jazeera TV journalists, close their Jerusalem bureau and pull the Qatar-based station’s broadcasts from local cable and satellite providers, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said on Sunday. Kara accused the station of “supporting terrorism” and said cable broadcasters had agreed to his proposal to take the station’s Arabic and English channels off air. Closure of the station’s office would require further legislation, he added. “Lately, almost all countries in our region determined that Al-Jazeera supports terrorism, supports religious radicalization,”………”

Suddenly, Israel has a lot in common with several Arab oligarchy states, like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Empire of Bahrain, among a few other states.
Forget about “values”, that is not what all this is about. No more than it is with Donald Trump.
The above Arab states have blocked AlJazeera network, and closed its offices.

They have also imposed an economic blockade of Qatar, at least with tacit approval from Donald Trump. Just as they have also, for several years now, urged America (and Israel) to wage a war on Iran, a sectarian war of choice on behalf of their royal families, as explained by former President Barack Obama. Obama, like Bush before him, rejected the demands of the Gulf princes for a new American war in the Gulf. The princes had to wait for the rabid Islamophobe Donald Trump to revisit the issue and plead their case, with a promised huge price tag of hundreds of billions of dollars.

Trump has thrown in with the Persian Gulf princes and potentates, in both cases: of Iran and Qatar. It remains to be seen if his few sane advisers can talk him out of playing full patsy to the Arab princes, and break with ally Qatar while provoking a new war of aggression in Iran’s own backyard.

Now Netanyahu has decided to move even closer to the Saudi regional position by joining the boycott of Qatari media by ejecting Aljazeera. But this will backfire on both the Saudis and Israel

Oddly, but predictably, the Israeli closure will almost certainly increase the popularity of AlJazeera among Arabs, both in country and in the Western diaspora. For a couple of years the network was losing popularity as it shifted closer to the style of the tightly-controlled Saudi media. That and the growth of competing Gulf-funded networks.

AlJazeera has in recent weeks doubled down on what made some Gulf ruling families angry with Qatar: it has moved back to the more ‘controversial’ model that had made it the top Arab network. That shift, and the little helpful shove from Netanyahu should help propel it back to the position of being by far the top Arab media outlet.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Egypt and GCC Bubble Gum Policy: Al Sisi Ups His Price to Gulf Potentates…….

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

Generalissimo Field Marshal Al Sisi of Egypt had  a bunch of top Persian Gulf potentates, money bags, in Cairo this past week. He was making a speech, during which he said

“You in tiny countries, Egypt is huge. In ne day, Egyptians eat worth as much as some of you eat in one year. If you can’t spend $100 billion a year on Egypt, if you can’t spend enough money on Egypt, then stay out. Then don’t interfere in Egypt if you can’t afford it …….”

This is the speech. The Gulf potentates who were present there in Cairo laughed. Especially the leader of the UAE.

Qatar was not there, which suggests the laughter was supposed to mean Sisi’s barb was aimed at Qatar, since those potentates present laughed. Yet Sisi could also be sending a message to the other (anti-Qatar) Gulf princes and potentates. The comment also applies to ALL GCC countries, and at least two of them interfere in Egypt, or try to. They financed street agitation in 2013, and the Al Sisi military coup against the elected president Morsi (Muslim Brotherhood), who was at the time receiving billions of aid from Qatar.

Of course one of those present, the tiny Empire of Bahrain, can’t even afford to supply Egypt with enough bubble gum for one day, but it has been interfering in Egypt since 2012, along with the rest of them….

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Mother of All Persian Gulf Miscalculations: Petulant Princes and the Ultimatum that Failed……..

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” Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that have cut ties to Qatar issued a steep list of demands Thursday to end the crisis, insisting that their Persian Gulf neighbor shutter Al-Jazeera, cut back diplomatic ties to Iran and sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.
In a 13-point list — presented to the Qataris by Kuwait, which is helping mediate the crisis — the countries also demand an end to Turkey’s military presence in Qatar. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the list in Arabic from one of the countries involved in the dispute…….— Immediately terminate the Turkish military presence currently in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside of Qatar…… If Qatar agrees to comply, the list asserts that it will be audited once a month for the first year, and then once per quarter in the second year after it takes effect. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance……” AP

The princes and potentates along the Persian Gulf region are rarely original. But it seems that on the occasions when they do show some originality, they can be breathtakingly so.

All these countries have foreign military bases on their territories, which is fine. The UAE has several bases on its land: American, British, French, and allegedly imported mercenary forces organized by Blackwater (later renamed Xe then Academi). Bahrain has American, British, and Saudi bases, plus thousands of Jordanian and former Arab Baathist and Asian mercenaries, so far. The Saudis have American ‘bases’ coordinating the war on Yemen, possibly British as well, as well as reportedly humorless Jordanians and other foreign military personnel. Yet they demand that Qatar end the small Turkish military presence of Caliph Erdogan. No mention of the huge US Central Command base at Al Eidid.

The brotherly, or is it sisterly, princes also want Qatar to reduce ties with Iran, yet the UAE is reportedly the main regional trading partner of Iran. Dubai’s ties with Iran precede the rule of the mullahs in Tehran and precedes the creation of the UAE. And Oman has historical and growing trade ties with Iran. Kuwait is normally neutral in disputes among Gulf GCC potentates, and it has normal ties with Iran. Yet the focus is on Qatar, or perhaps Qatar is the first target, with others to follow.

Yet Qatar is also almost umbilically tied to Iran: it shares a huge offshore natural gas field with Iran in the Persian Gulf, and that is something that cannot be broken. Besides, Iran has been on the Persian Gulf since the early Aryan invasions/migrations from the north many thousands of years ago. Long before Bush, Obama, and Trump showed up. Long before Percy Cox and Gertrude Bell and T.E Lawrence showed up. Ironically, the Emirates Airlines (UAE) flights from the United States cross the whole of Iran, over Tehran, to land in Dubai. Yet these petulant potentates have a blockade against the Qatar Airlines, banning it from their airspace.

The oddest demand is supposed to be an imitation of the IAEA nuclear task as part of the Iran Nuclear Deal with the world powers (JCPOA): they want Qatar periodically monitored for compliance with the demands of these silly princes and potentates. Can’t Arab leaders ever be original? Apparently only when they go beyond reason and into the realm of absurdity.


My conclusion? the Saudi-UAE siege of Qatar seems to have failed. Another failure to be added to their adventures in Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon. Only their huge investment in General Al Sisi seems to have paid off for now, but Egypt is now a monumentally unstable war-torn mess. In Egypt it is like this: they broke it, and now they own it.

They probably thought surprise tough measures combined with hints of military action and attempted internal coup would bring the troublesome Qatari rulers down. That combined with some vague supportive comments from the new Muslim Caliph Donald Trump, a hardly reliable advocate of complex policies. They did not. The ruling princes and potentates of the Gulf have miscalculated, again.

Let us hope these petulant princes don’t keep misreading Donald Trump or James Mattis and make the Mother of All Miscalculations, plunging the region into another war, this time the Mother of All Persian Gulf Wars.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Arabian Wars, American Folly: Summer 1990, Summer 2017……

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This Saudi, UAE, and now Trump frenzy and ratcheting up attacks on Qatar reminds me of Saddam Hussein and Kuwait in the summer of 1990. How he escalated his threats against his little neighbor, miscalculated the American reaction, and started an invasion and another foolish war.

Donald Trump is now openly giving the Saudi/UAE potentates the green light in the Persian Gulf. But suppose Trump’s new Arab allies (the ones he hated and despised before last January) screw up as I expect? As they have done in Yemen? I mean they could not even subdue a few tribes in Yemen. Suppose they get stuck in another classic quagmire?

Trump has been tweeting today in support of the Saudi-Emirati position. All based on what two princes in Saudi Aabia and the UAE had told him last month (according to him)!
No doubt Qatar has supported some Syrian Jihadis with money, but so have the Saudis and others in the Persian Gulf states. So has Turkey. So why focus on Qatar now? Is it pressure from Saudi-UAE funded lobbyists and Think Tanks in Washington? It can well be.
Will Donald Trump then send American fighting boys and girls to pull their royal nuts out of the fire?

In the end the United States is thousands of miles away, it is an interloper. The countries on the Gulf belong there, it is their native region. The USA can defend its allies and whatever interests it has in the region, but it cannot establish its own hegemony on the Persian Gulf. That would be a pipe dream. The era of old gunboat imperialism is (probably) over.

(Interestingly Kuwait, the old victim of Saddam Hussein’s media attack and brutal invasion, is trying to mediate this new crisis between Qatar and her larger neighbors).

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Quest for Gulf Hegemony: GCC Cyber Attacks and Media Warfare Escalate After the Trump Summit, What Next?…….

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Interesting things have been happening in the Persian-American Gulf region, especially in the aftermath of President Trump’s visit and his speech in the Arabian Peninsula.

The website of the “official” Qatar News Agency was hacked last week. The hackers inserted headlines that quoted the Emir of Qatar criticizing the Saudi and Emirati leaders and praising closer ties with the Iranians.
This led to some fury in the royal and princely palaces along the Persian Gulf. Followed by a flurry of visits among Gulf potentates and leaders.

Qataris claimed their official news agency website had been hacked and fake statements inserted, but the Saudis and UAE media continued a relentless barrage of attacks and threats against the Qatari regime. It is possible that the UAE and/or Saudis may have hired some hackers to create a cause for attacking Qatar, a casus belli from their point of view.

In the United States, the issue of Al Udeid Air Base in Doha, where the US Central Command has its Persian Gulf headquarters, could be under consideration again. Saudi and Emirati (UAE) surrogates among paid lobbyists, paid American journalists, and paid American Think Tank analysts are again suggesting that the regional CENTCOM HQ be moved to the UAE. My unreliable sources report that the UAE potentates have been lobbying for it furiously.
Kuwait tried to mediate by sending it foreign minister to calm things down. The Emir of Qatar visited Kuwait, which is usually neutral in inter-GCC and Gulf disputes. The goal seems to have been to get some intermediation going.
The leader of the UAE, Crown Price Mohamed Bin Zayed visited Saudi Arabia to coordinate. Bin Zayed is reputed to be close to Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, the Dauphin in Waiting of Riyadh. But the Saudi and Emirati potentates are having serious differences over the Yemen war. Egyptian media, very close to the UAE potentates since General Sisi staged his military coup, have also escalated even more against Qatar.

Then the website of the corpulent foreign minister of Bahrain Khalid Al Khalifa (effectively a satellite of Saudi Arabia) was hacked, his tweets replaced with anti-regime items and photos of unrest and repression in Bahrain.

Then GlobalLeaks started releasing emails and messages implicating UAE (Emirati) officials with gifts, bribes, to US journalists and think tanks. It published info of close ties between UAE ambassador to Washington and the pro-Israeli organization Front for the Defense of Democracies (itself an Israel right-wing front financed by Las Vegas Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson). Apparently the ambassador, known in Washington as a man-about-town and generous party-giver, is pushing for some kind of American confrontation with Iran in the Persian Gulf, the same goal of the Israeli right-wing Likud. Except that the United States and Israel are both outside interlopers, located far from the Persian Gulf.

All this turmoil and the Iranian mullahs did not have to lift a finger: all of the turmoil locally made by the Gulf GCC internal struggle for and against Saudi hegemony.
Perhaps an understandable aftermath of the ill-fated visit of Trump and his clan to the Wahhabi summit in Riyadh, in the aftermath of his famously nonsensical speech.

Then on Sunday (today) came proof that the intermediation attempts have failed. UAE and Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Bahrain severed diplomatic relations with Qatar.  The controlled media of those countries escalated their campaign against the government of Qatar. There is no doubt that there will be attempts by UAE and Saudi Arabia to instigate a military coup for regime change in Doha. Oman and Kuwait usually refuse to join such inter-Gulf conflicts and have so far maintained relations with Qatar (as they did with Iran after the others broke relations).

Oddly, news agencies reported yesterday that six Qatari soldiers were wounded while “defending” the southern Saudi border against Yemeni retaliation for the Saudi-American-British bombing of their cities.

Stay tuned….

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

The Fake Facade of Trump’s Saudi Summit Collapses, GCC at War Within Itself………

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking

Did Donald Trump stir up a hornets nest during his Saudi visit? Apparently he did: for now we know that all did not go as smoothly as we were told and shown on television.

Strange events erupted as soon as Trump left Riyadh. Reportedly some discord existed from the beginning of the Summit, but they tried to sweep it under the red carpets. All the media propaganda about policy coordination vanished after Trump left with his Saudi money prize. And Iran had nothing to do with it this time! Only the diehards of the discredited ruling family in Bahrain would blame any outsider this time.
Two days after the departure of the Trump Circus from the so-called Arab-Islamic-American Summit all hell broke loose. The carefully presented facade collapsed:
Some countries complained that they were promised by the Saudi foreign minister Adle Al Jubeir that there will be no resolution condemning Iran. There are many Muslim and Arab countries present that have good relations with both sides. Some of them had left Riyadh before the communique/resolution was crafted and issued by allegedly American-Saudi-GCC staff. The Lebanese Foreign Minister openly hinted that Al Jubeir lied to him about that. Countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, the Central Asian Republics, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, a couple of Gulf GCC members, among many others, have close or cordial relations with Iran.

Independent Arab media also report continued disputes during and after the Summit involving other countries. Including Egypt and Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Erdogan of Turkey and Oman downgraded the meeting by sending ministers instead of heads of state. Lebanon’s president and Iraqi Prime Minister did not attend.

American media got the fake news that the Saudis and the Trump team wanted them to hear. That is the fake facade that we saw on CNN, Fox, MSNBC, ABC, etc. A lot of cleverly orchestrated Fake News.

It all collapsed as soon as Air Force One left Riyadh.

Other developments occurred within the GCC itself:
The Bahrain regime decided to storm a Shi’a town, the home of the most senior Shi’a cleric who is currently under arrest and incommunicado. Battles ensued between regime forces/mercenaries and supporters of the opposition. Five young men were shot dead, some wounded, almost three hundred arrested.
Almost simultaneously, a strong war of words and media broke out between Qatar on one side, and the UAE and Saudi Arabia on the other (I consider the Bahrain regime an appendix of the Saudi regime).

The Qatari Emir was quoted saying that some Gulf states practice an extremist form of Islam that encourages terrorism. Guess who he meant by that? Saudi and UAE media blasted the Qataris and blocked Qatari media broadcasts (AlJazeera, etc). The Qatari Emir was also quoted that Iran is not a threat, that it has been reasonable, that there are other more serious threats. Some interpreted this to mean Saudi Arabia.
There has been speculation initially, and some claims, that the Qatari Emir was misquoted, that someone hacked into the media outlets. But that now seems unlikely, for the media attacks continue. This was has been confirmed, as the Saudi-UAE war of words and threats against Qatar continues. Qatar is, of course, an independent country that can craft its own foreign policy without kowtowing to the Saudi princes and their march towards another losing war in the Persian Gulf.

There have been suggestions that the US Central Command should move its regional headquarters from Qatar. Mostly by old American Neocons and those with close Saudi ties.

Stay tuned for more….
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Trump Visits His Wahhabi Empire: Saudis Summon Sunni Arab and Muslim Satraps and Viceroys to Riyadh……

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President Donald Trump makes his first official foreign trip later this week, and it will be to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi officials are so excited, their media are making Trump almost into the newest Muslim Caliph. They stress that he is visiting Riyadh before anywhere else, that he is some sort of a phenomenon (I agree with the last one about him being a phenomenon). For their part, jealous media of the  potentates of the rival UAE (United Arab Emirates, occasional Saudi ally) have headlined how their own strongman and crown prince will visit with Trump in Washington to ‘discuss’ issues before he flies to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis are making a Wahhabi-style hootenanny out of the Trump visit. A Veritable Spring Break invasion of the desert for their Arab and Muslim allies, would be allies, and clients. They have invited tens of Arab and Muslim leaders to attend a special meeting with Trump, where they will kiss his ring, and he will bless them all. Maybe he will cure a few among them who are blind or lame and some who are afflicted with Erectile Dysfunction among them. There will be no turning water into wine in Riyadh, he is no real Jesus. Besides Wine is frowned upon, just like fun and free speech and any other religion that is not Wahhabism.

So, the Arab and Muslim leaders have been summoned, and they will flock to Riyadh, attracted by Saudi promises of money and the delusional hope of American aid and the approval and blessings of the former American casino mogul and Fake University hustler. They don’t realize that their new prophet, a rapacious capitalist and hustler, is not in the business of helping anybody but himself, and maybe the shady dealings of his in-laws.

FYI: the Saudis have left Iran out of the invite list, and Syria as well. I am not sure about Iraq and Lebanon. They want to make it a Sunni-dominated summit, which means they will try to line up some of them against their mullah rivals across the Persian Gulf. Netanyahu would have loved to attend, but maybe another time.

Independent Arab media, those few not owned or controlled by the potentates, and the Saudi opposition abroad report that the Saudis have spent several hundred billion Riyals to get Trump to make Riyadh his first foreign stop. Reports of over $200-300 billion in U.S investments and in purchases of weapons are abound. Effectively bribing him, something they are very good at. Something they can’t really afford, and their people know it.

Some Arab media hint at a NATO-style Arab and/or Islamic alliance, although it is not clear what threat it will face. Israel? Iran? Popular demand for reform and free speech and elections and end of corruption? Variations of all those are seen as the enemy or rival by some Arab and Muslim leaders.

Trump will pocket the money, hint for his flock not to worry about human rights, say the right vague words about Israel and Palestine. Then he will launch into the main event: threats against Iran, right across the Persian Gulf. Right in front of his Arab and Muslim satraps and viceroys. The Casino Man, the Fake University hustler from 8,000 miles away threatening the Persians right on their Persian-American Gulf. Now that is chutzpah.

These earlier posts below might be relevant to this topic:
Ignorant Abroad: is Trump Encouraging a Foolish Prince to Start a Sectarian War in the Persian Gulf?……

Kissing It in Arabia: Saudis Discern a Trump ‘Axis of Adults’, or is it an ‘Axis of Kissers of Trump’s Rump’?………

 Donald Trump’s AI War: Alexa, What Should I do about Iran?…..

A Farce is Not a Joke: Saudi Arabia ‘Elected’ to UN Commission on Women……

Stay tuned for more on this…..

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Will America Join the Jihad in Syria? How Do They Line Up in Eastern Mediterranean……..

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KuwaitCox2 Hiking


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson demands that Russia drop its support of Assad in Syria. Sure: Putin, current heir to the rough and tough Soviet and Romanov empires, is almost certain to listen to the Texas oilman and his TV celebrity boss.

Nikki Haley seconds the Tillerson motion and threatens to take the names of anyone opposing it and add it to her famous list of names. And to cut their weekly allowances.

China‘s Xi, a guest of Trump at Mar-A-Lago, grins and remains “inscrutable”, as he is supposed to remain as leader of PRC (Chi-Com to the American Right). But he knows the futile game Trump is playing with him. Too transparent. No doubt, Trump was trying to unnerve Xi by attacking Syria during his visit. The problem with that is that Chi-Com leaders don’t get unnerved easily by television or real estate celebrities. Haven’t done it since the days of Chairman Mao and his Little Red Book. They can smell the bull from far away, they have done their fair share of spreading it.

Russia‘s Lavrov will ask that Trump drop his unwitting (or is that witless) support of Al Qaeda and other Jihadi cutthroats in Syria, including those in Idlib. The latter probably owned the same cache of chemical weapons that were bombed by the Syrian regime last week.

American mainstream media, often copying the media of Arab royal regimes that are as repressive as Assad, are gung-ho on avenging the Alamo, or the Maine. They have been since 2011.

Turkey wants Trump to help install a nice clean-cut Muslim Brotherhood regime in Damascus like the one in Turkey, and as humorless. It would be more repressive, given that it will include former Baathist renegades as well as current fundamentalists with Wahhabi ties.
Saudis want Trump to install a Wahhabi-esque regime in Damascus. Or, barring that, any regime that is hostile to the Iranians and Iraqis and not secular like the Baathists. They promise to shower the “right” regime in Damascus with many billions that they will not have.
UAE rulers don’t seem to care that much, as long as they get to have a naval base somewhere in Syria to protect their “national interests”, whatever the hell that be. In the Mediterranean of course.

The Bahrainis have no money to give to anyone outside the ruling family and their minions. So they will offer to receive the new Trump-anointed Caliph of Syria in their well-policed capital. On the assumption that this would legitimize both their regimes. Yes, they are clueless.
Iranians and Lebanese make the “right” noises, essentially they make the same noises in unison. But they keep on doing the voodoo that they do in Syria. So far.

Bashar Al Assad (America’s bête noire de la semaine) is a man who has had a target on his back for six years. He has been pronounced a dead-man-walking many times, mostly by Arab despots and Jihadis inside Syria and gullible believing Westerners. Yet he doesn’t seem worried about it. In fact I haven’t seen him worried since before the brief 2011 uprising that became a Jihadi insurrection that became a combination civil war and proxy war. Does he know something we don’t? Is he taking something we don’t? 

More on this later….

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum.
Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

UAE-Saudi Game of Bases: from South Arabia to Horn of Africa with Temporary Love and Money….

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“Somali President Mohammed Mohammed Abdullahi Farmajo request for mediation Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to persuade not to complete the establishment of a military base in “Somaliland”……..”

“Somaliland signs agreement allowing the United Arab Emirates to set up a military base in Berbera with a 25-year lease…”

An interesting and unexpected development in the Middle East in recent months. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is getting deeply into the business of foreign military bases. In one sense it has been in it for many years now. From early on, the UAE has had military bases on its territory for various counties: the United States, Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, as well as Canada (canceled after a commercial dispute). All the while vigorously criticizing foreign (non-Western) bases in Iraq and Syria. Not bad for a country of a little more than 1 million citizens (plus about 6 million foreign residents).

Now the UAE, ostensibly a part-time and wary ally of Saudi Arabia, is getting into the dubious business of establishing foreign bases of its own. Basically the UAE are (for now) the strongest foreign power in the Aden area of South Yemen, having easily outsmarted and elbowed out the Saudi Wahhabis. The Saudis are closer allies to the deposed president Hadi and his corrupt old partners in misruling Yemen (the Islah, the local Muslim Brotherhood). The UAE rulers hate nothing more than the Muslim Brotherhood.

The main Saudi problem in Yemen is that they share a long border with that country. They occasionally get tempted to test these borders. Hence their fear of any perceived foreign (non-Western) influence over Yemen, be it real or imagined. The war they have been waging on Yemen for more than two years often comes back to haunt them in the form of Yemeni retaliatory attacks on their border towns and cities. As well as Yemeni rockets, reportedly local versions of Iranian and maybe Russian missiles.The rockets are a new introduction into the war, and the Yemenis in the capital Sanaa have promised more and more potent ones to come if the Saudis do not desist.

So the Saudis are stuck in a destructive but futile genocidal bombing campaign (with strong and indispensable American and British help), as well as a worrying border war. They are cornered, while the Emiratis expand their influence in South Yemen and now in the Horn of Africa. The Emiratis can better afford it than the Saudis who need to support and subsidize about 16 million citizens (there are also about 10 million foreign residents, a few million of them reportedly illegal).

To the Horn of Africa. That area seems like a favorite place for many powers to establish military bases in recent years. The Russians (Soviets) had a large base at Berbera for years under the Marxist Siad Barre military regime of Somalia. Eritrea and Djibouti have both had bases or presences of the French, Israelis, Iranians and others (including the famous pirates). Natural for an impoverished region. Now the UAE is establishing bases in Somaliland, formerly part of Somalia, which apparently still considers it part of its sphere. To the extent that Somalia can have a sphere. There have been earlier reports of a UAE base in Eritrea as well. There have been reports of a potential UAE presence in Libya as well, but that would be a foolish undertaking.

It is not clear what is the purpose of all these foreign bases and presences by a small country like the UAE. Only Oman among GCC states has had an extensive foreign presence until the 19th century, mainly in East Africa (including Zanzibar).

Oddly the Saudis don’t seem interested in foreign bases, except in Bahrain. But that is a historic cultural thing: Saudis, especially the elite Najdis of Central Arabia, were historically a landlubber people never known as sea-going people, unlike others like the Emirates (or Oman and Kuwait).

There is more. The UAE often splits from the Saudis on Yemen. The two alleged allies support different outlooks for Yemen, but the UAE can afford it financially although they have limited human resources and need local groups as allies. Hence the Hirak Movement which wants South Yemen (capital Aden) to regain the independence it lost in 1990.

My educated guess is that the UAE has the upper hand over the Saudis in that southern part of Yemen. But they need to reckon with three groups that have been strengthened by the destructive Saudi-led air war on Northern Yemen: the Southern Secessionists, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and Islamic State (ISIS). These three groups have gained strength as the Saudis bombed their main enemies in Yemen, the Houthis.

In any case, in the end neither of these Arab allies can last in Yemen. It is already bleeding them, and will kill off many of their soldiers before they realize they have to leave. And they will leave: it has been the story of Yemen since the days of the ancient Persian and Roman empires. The rugged tribal country wears them down, and the aspiring conquerors are forced to give up and leave. A hostile foreign power cannot control Yemen, it has been the case since the days of the rule of Balqis, the Queen of Sheba.

More on this later, stay tuned.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

The GCC Game of Musical Alliances: from the Gulf through Africa and Beyond………

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Something strange has been going on recently among member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
They had their summit in Manama a couple of weeks ago, which ended with nothing spectacular to announce. The Salafis of the Persian-American Gulf and the usual Bahrain potentates (both fiercely Saudi proxies) have tried, again, to create some excitement about a possible “union” based on the European model. But it would be a union of ruling families, not based on the popular will, since Kuwait is the only GCC country that has free popular elections. But Kuwait has the misfortune of being stuck between three large and menacing neighboring countries: Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia (the country was invaded by both Iraq and Saudi Arabia in the last century).

The idea of a Gulf union was a no-go, and DOA at the summit: it was not even discussed publicly. Some others within the GCC saw it as a way to formalize a fearsome Saudi attempt at hegemony. They/we all know how the Saudi Kingdom was formed during the last century by swallowing smaller neighboring emirates in the Arabian Peninsula.

After the summit, Saudi King Salman visited every member country except for Oman. Certainly because Oman is the least likely member to follow Saudi policies and wishes. It is odd for the ruler of a member of GCC to start visiting other member states immediately after the summit ends. Why not meet them individually during the summit? They apparently want to send a message to other members and to some Arab counties.

Soon after all that, a Saudi delegation last week visited Ethiopia, a country with which Egypt has serious disputes over the Nile waters. The delegation also pointedly visited a new Ethiopian dam that Egypt claims seriously reduces its share of the Nile waters. That visit created an uproar within Arab media and social media.
But wait, that is not all, there is more (as the TV ads say)…..

Now there is an announcement that the foreign minister of Qatar is visiting, you guessed it, landlocked Ethiopia. Almost certainly just to bother the hell out of the Egyptians.

Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar (and Turkey as well) have just suffered an immense strategic defeat in Syria, when their Jihadist surrogates were forced out of the eastern part of Aleppo. Egypt has been moving towards siding with the Assad regime (and hence by association with Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Russia) in the Syrian war. This has clearly angered some of the Gulf allies who either support the Jihadis in Syria or need to show that they do so for domestic political reasons.

That leaves out the UAE, the third major partner in the Saudi regional alliance. The UAE shares one very important thing with the current government of Egypt: they both hate and fear the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile Qatar is practically a Muslim Brotherhood monarchy (and so close to the Turkish Islamist regime that they have agreed to have a Turkish military base in their country). The Saudis have warmed up to the Brotherhood recently because they are their allies in the Yemen War (through the corrupt Islah Party).
These are fascinating developments that are now unfolding in the Middle East.

As I said: wait, there will be more, and soon. The GCC states, especially Saudi Arabia, have been playing a game of “musical alliances’ in recent years. Since 2011 they have allied on and off with Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Eritrea, Djibouti, Mauritania, Sudan, and now Ethiopia, among others. A list of mainly countries with deep economic problems. And the game of Musical Alliances goes on.

As I said: but wait, there will be more, and soon………..
Cheers

M Haider Ghuloum