Tag Archives: Iran Deal

Trump Middle East Policy Confusion: America First? New Muslim Wars First?…….

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

The slogan America First implies focusing on internal US affairs: the economy, trade, infrastructure, even immigration.
Yet the Trump administration is already being pulled into a new morass in the Middle East (the Muslim World in case you didn’t know). It is falling for the trap of an Iranian missile test that is apparently unrelated to the Nuclear Deal (JCPOA). Perhaps it is a test by the mullahs of a new administration that is already shooting itself in the foot in domestic matters (healthcare, immigration). The new alleged ballistic missile test, which at least Russia and China certainly consider unrelated to the Nuclear Deal, came quickly after reports of a phone call between Trump and the Saudi King that mentioned containing Iran.
The Iranians most likely look on their ballistic missiles as defensive weapons, since hey don’t have the threatening Western-made sophisticated warplanes that their potential regional enemies have. Part of their deterrence that would prevent a repeat of an attack similar to the Iraqi Baathist invasion of their country.

Or maybe the mullahs in Tehran were giving Mr. Trump and Netanyahu something to discuss when they meet next month. The latter would be eager to sell Trump the snake-oil of another Muslim war/quagmire that neither Bush (W) nor Barack Obama would buy from him. The Trump administration probably won’t get far in the UN Security Council: even the European allies may oppose them. New President Trump has no reservoir of goodwill in Western Europe, or in most of the world, to draw on. He never had any beyond his own base and his own party.

In fairness, the Trump administration apparently have discarded the silly notion of “tearing up” the Nuclear Deal. It is not really a “piece of paper” as experienced right-wing hawks like John Bolton still think. They now seem to realize that it can’t be undone beyond campaign rhetoric.

In response to reports of the recent Iranian missile test, the White House NSC issued a tough statement mainly attacking Barack Obama for it (Obama, not the UN). A very retro reaction. Expect a Trump tweet to follow soon. Also expect more muscle-flexing in the Persian-American Gulf region by both sides, something even allied regional governments worry about.

Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

Rouhani in Europe: Economic Irony, Mullahs as Princes………..

Shuwaikh-school1 Hiking Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 ا

As I read (and watch) the news, I notice that Iran’s Hassan Rouhani is signing tens of billions of dollars worth of contracts in Europe. It is as if he is some Saudi or Qatari or UAE prince or potentate. I realize that there is an irony here, somewhere (if I can explain it).

The Gulf GCC states are allegedly reportedly presumably perhaps maybe cutting back their purchases in Europe. Mainly non-military and non-security purchases. A result of lower revenues. The Iranians are busy signing new trade deals and purchasing tens of billions of new goods (and services). A result of increased revenues.

Oil revenues of most oil producers, including Gulf GCC, have gone down significantly. Iranian oil revenues are increasing sharply now, because of the lifting of sanctions. So will other non-oil revenues increase now given that their economy is diverse. It is too soon and too absurd to say that the mullahs are the “new” oil princes. Of course t is only like a windfall being used, but is it?
Who would have thunk it only months ago. How long would this trend last? How long could it last? Ich weiss nicht………..

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Iran Nuclear Deal: Who Speaks for the Arabs?………

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2

No other group of Middle East countries have ever sought so tenaciously to keep a foreign blockade against one of their neighboring countries in modern times. With the exception of about three absolute Arab regimes along the Persian Gulf who fought tooth and nail to keep the Western Blockade against Iran.
President Obama is reported this week to have arranged telephone calls with the king of Saudi Arabia and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi (effective ruler of the UAE). The goal is to explain to these potentates the nuclear deal with Iran. American media claim that Mr. Obama seeks to explain the Iran nuclear deal “to the Arabs“. Except that the Saudi king rules over only about 17 million citizens, the Abu Dhabi (UAE) potentate rules over only about one million citizens. These two potentates may speak for their own citizens only (maybe). They don’t represent 250-300 million Arabs extending from the Persian Gulf to the Atlas Mountains. Most of these other non-Gulf Arabs don’t oppose this deal. There are also many people along the shores of Gulf, from Oman through Dubai, Bahrain, Qatif and other places who don’t oppose it. The rulers of Saudi Arabia, and much of their “inland” Wahhabi peoples, plus the rulers of Bahrain and their local allies, and many in Qatar (only the tiny minority who are citizens) are probably among the strongest opponents of the deal and support continuation of the Western Blockade.

As are Salafis along the Gulf and across other Arab regions, including the likes of ISIS (DAESH) and Al-Nusra and many of their leading Abu’s. They join the Israelis and their strong American lobby in pushing for a continuation of the blockade as the second choice if an American war is not on the table. The nuclear program has never been the real issue for these bedfellows: it is more about the expansion of Iranian political influence across the region.
Most Arabs in the Eastern Mediterranean support the deal and the lifting of the Western blockade, or are at least indifferent. Most in North Africa, from Egypt to the farthest western Arab country of Morocco also hold the same position. But then there is hardly any Iranian political influence across North Africa.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Prince Turki as a Nuclear Flying Dutchman: Is he Aiming to Learn Persian?………..

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2

““Whatever the Iranians have, we will have, too,” Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief, warned at a conference in South Korea last month. Under the emerging deal, instead of ending Iran’s nuclear program outright, Tehran might be allowed to keep up to 5,000 centrifuges to produce nuclear fuel for energy and medical purposes. Saudi Arabia’s leaders are fixated on containing Iranian power throughout the Middle East, whether real or perceived. The Saudis worry that, once economic sanctions are lifted under a nuclear deal, Iran would gain access to tens of billions of dollars in frozen funds and new oil revenue…………”

The Prince stated something that does not need to be stated, almost inane: “Whatever the Iranians have, we will have, too,”
Iranians also speak Persian: does this mean the Al Saud plan to all learn the Persian language? Anyway, a sovereign country can do whatever it wants at home. Which is exactly what the ruling mullahs of Iran have been saying (or claiming, if you prefer).

As I and others have posted and wisely opined, there is more to it. The Saudi princes want to keep their financial near-monopoly in the Middle East, while starving their neighbors. They feel entitled to keep their potential rivals (mainly Iran and possibly also Iraq) economically weak, and they want the Western powers to help them do it. It is a legitimate power play for the very short term, but it doesn’t work beyond that. You can’t starve national interest and sovereignty and scientific knowledge out of a society.

Of course nobody is stopping the Saudis from developing their own peaceful nuclear program, so there is no need for this Flying Dutchman Prince Turki to perpetually circumnavigate the world screaming about it. The prince is now competing on this issue with his alleged ally Netanyahu, and he sounds as stale: an alliance of convenience between the ultimate anti-semites and the Israelis.
Just do it: you can print it on a new T-shirt. Pull down your universities and colleges, restructure than away from all the Salafi Shariah “stuff” and focus on science.

If not, they can always buy a program, they are good at buying wars and Western weapons and Jihadis for Syria and terrorists for Iraq. It is all apparently legitimate……..

Nuclear Inscrutable Iranians, PrinceTurki as a Nuclear Wandering Semite………     

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Gulf GCC Comes to Camp David: the Addled, the Wretched, and Emma Lazarus……..

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
 Emma Lazarus

The Huffington Post headlined (exaggerated) on Monday: “The Great Gulf Back-Out. Saudi King, Other Gulf Nation Rulers To Skip Camp David Summit………..”. Other US media have also repeated this idea of the hesitation of the tired, poor, huddled, wretched of the Gulf to make the trip to Washington. This is a bit of an exaggeration. There are solid non-political reasons why most of the top GCC leaders will not attend; Several of them are physically unable:

  • King Salman of Saudi Arabia: the Saudi princes are as unhappy about the Iran nuclear deal as Netanyahu claims to be. Maybe even more so, given that Netanyahu is a faker: he uses it as a red herring. Saudis want Iran under blockade, impoverished and preferably attacked by Americans or Israelis or both. Because it is the only way they can be the most important player in the Persian Gulf. The Iranian population is about 77 million, almost all native, and they sit over the world’s largest gas reserves. The Saudi population is about 16 million citizens (plus about 9 million temporary foreign laborers who rotate). Some Saudi (Wahhabi) opposition groups claim that King Salman is suffering from Alzheimer’s and that he will never attend any foreign summit anyway. This self-serving rumor has not been totally corroborated yet.
    (Bahrain doesn’t count as completely independent here. The rulers of Bahrain ape the Al Saud: with thousands of Saudi troops in their country, they do as they do and probably they do as they are told).
  • Oman: the Sultan of Oman has had surgery and lengthy medical treatment in Europe. In recent years he has had someone else represent him at all foreign summits. Besides, he maintains friendly relations with both sides of the Iranian-Saudi rivalry.
  • United Arab Emirates: the president of UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed is ill, and he has been absent from all summits. The real power is with his brothers, especially crown prince Shaikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, who will attend. Nothing new here. So, in spite of claims by some UAE minor officials and professors about a reaction to the Iran deal, this is not exactly true: the ruler has not attended any summit for several years, nor should he, and he would not attend Camp David anyway.
  • The Emir of Kuwait and Emir of Qatar apparently are the only two healthy rulers of the GCC. They will attend.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Phony Arab Fear of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Catharsis and Kumbaya at Camp David………

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2

“The Obama administration is scrambling for reassurances it can present this month at a Camp David summit meeting to persuade Arab allies that the United States has their backs, despite a pending nuclear deal with Iran. Officials at the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department have been meeting to discuss everything from joint training missions for American and Arab militaries to additional weapons sales to a loose defense pact that could signal that the United States would back those allies if they come under attack from Iran. Over mahi-mahi at the Pentagon two weeks ago, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter polled a select group of Middle East experts for advice on how the administration could placate Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, all of which fear the nuclear deal, according to several attendees………………..”

First (of all): it is not an “Arab” fear of the nuclear deal. Ask most Arabs from Baghdad through Amman to Algiers and Tetouan, ask 250 million of them and they will not express any fear of this deal. Arabs have lived with a nuclear and aggressive Israel for decades without expressing any fear of it either.

Second: a part of the small minority of all Arab who live on the Persian-American Gulf express disapproval of the nuclear deal (not counting the majority of the population who are South Asian expat laborers). Many of them don’t know its details and look at it from a sectarian view and in some cases whatever their government propaganda tell them.

Third: the rulers of the GCC Gulf states are not afraid of the “nuclear” deal either. They are worried about expanding Iranian influence in Iraq and Syria and Lebanon, and potentially in Yemen. A legitimate worry. Only about three of them (only about three regimes) are also afraid of lifting the Western blockade from the Iranian people which will strengthen their economy.

Fourth: These three (or four) regimes are pretending to be afraid of a nuclear deal only as a bargaining chip: the same position as Benyamin Netanyahu takes. The last time Iran attacked a neighbor was almost three hundred years ago. When was the last time Iran was attacked by a neighbor? In 1980, by Baathist Iraq with active help from others in the neighborhood. The Baathists used WMD in that war.

Fifth: the mullahs don’t directly attack a neighbor, unlike Baathist Iraq (attacked Iran and Kuwait), unlike Saudi Arabia (attacked Yemen at least three times: 1930s, 2009, 2015 and attacked Kuwait once in 1920). Even so, the Persian-American Gulf is clogged with powerful Western navies that can deter any conventional attack.

Sixth: Even if we ‘buy’ the claims about Iran’s nuclear program. When was the last time a country used nuclear weapons in ts own neighborhood? Is there a regime so stupid as to contemplate doing that, across its border? Are there regimes audacious enough to use it as an excuse to keep an economic blockade on a neighbor?

No doubt Mr. Obama knows all this, or he should know it when he sits down with his guests. Which also makes one wonder: why not also invite Netanyahu to Camp David, since he claims the same worries and concerns? Then Mr. Obama can have his catharsis with both. It should be fun: Likudniks and antisemitic Wahhabis singing Kumbaya at the camp. 

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Obama Will OK Iran Nuclear Deal Review by Netanyahu………..

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2

“Obama Will OK Congress Iran Deal Review. On Friday, President Obama called a bill which would allow Congress to review the terms of an Iran nuclear deal a “reasonable compromise” and said he planned to sign the bill. He said he feels it will not derail talks with Iran, though Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Bob Corker and leading Democrat Ben Cardin have been tasked with making sure that the bill is not laced with “poison pills,” or amendments that might kill the Iran agreement…………..”

I, we all know (at least in the Middle East) that it will not be truly the US Congress that will really review and judge the Iran nuclear deal. It will almost certainly be the real boss who will effectively do so: Benyamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel and Supreme Leader of the U.S. Congress (both houses, both parties).

Eventually, to approve the deal, Obama will have to go around the Congress. Otherwise, no deal: congress is bent on either tightening the blockade of Iran or waging another major war of choice against another Muslim country in the Middle East.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Iran Nuclear Duel: Supreme Leader Khamenei vs. Supreme Leader Netanyahu………

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2

“Iran said on Wednesday it would only accept a deal over its contested nuclear program if world powers simultaneously lifted all sanctions imposed on it. The comments by President Hassan Rouhani came the day after U.S. President Barack Obama was forced to give Congress a say in any future accord — including the right to veto the lifting of sanctions imposed by U.S. lawmakers……………”

The United States Congress, both houses of it, has finally managed to get hold of the pending Iran Nuclear Deal. The congressional jingoists are now in control of this issue. Which very likely means that as far as the United States is concerned this deal will remain ‘pending’ for a long time, at least through the 2016 general elections.
It will be fun but also painful to watch the major candidates from both parties doing contortions and pirouettes to avoid the pitfalls of taking any clear and definable position on this issue. That especially applies to the Democrats, since the Republicans have already abdicated and handed American Middle East policy to a foreign leader. A tail that effectively leads the dog now. A triumph of campaign money over national interest.

Now the nuclear deal, as far as bilateral American-Iranian relations are concerned, will be in the hands of two Supreme Leaders. These two will decide the outcome: (1) Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for Iran, and (2) Supreme Leader Benyamin Netanyahu for the United States. I suspect the latter will have more say in the final outcome, which may mean there will be no final deal.

Which might be irrelevant, since the blockade is already unraveling. Russia has decided to resume the delivery of defensive missiles to Iran (S300). The other major countries of BRICS and others have already started the framework of an alternative or parallel world financial system that will compete with the Bretton Woods bureaucratic institutions of IBRD and IMF. That might reduce the effectiveness of this recent clamor for blockades and sanctions that Western powers seem to impose with impunity.

It is a measure of the complete domination of the Israeli tail of U.S. Middle East policy that even members of Mr. Obama’s own party were ready to defy a potential veto. Now that the U.S. position seems to be in more doubt, the Iranians are also playing hardball.
Either way, the Western sanctions are being whittled away, as they should be. Worldwide economic sanctions and blockades on whole countries only harm the people, not their rulers…………

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Ad Nauseam: Boehner Promises One Iran Bill Every Week…….

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2

“House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said today that his chamber is ready to take up the Corker-Menendez bill on approval of any Iran deal as soon as the Senate is done with it. Boehner also indicated it may not be the last Iran bill dealing with the negotiations that will come through his chamber. Secretary of State John Kerry and the White House have been lobbying lawmakers ahead of this afternoon’s meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to consider the legislation. They’re also busy at work trying to spread the message that lawmakers just want to kill any Iran deal………….”

That would be the Corker, er, Menendez, er, AIPAC Bill.

My Georgetown source (no, she is not Saudi ambassador Al Jubeir and does not frequent Cafe Milano with Arbabsiar and Mexican drug cartel types) reports the following interesting plan. If pressed by the harried media, which he probably won’t, Boehner will admit that the congressional goal is to speed things up: to introduce one Iran bill each and every week. Congressional bi-partisan carpet bombing of the Iranians (and Obama).
He added that Tom (Cotton?) had originally wanted a bill each and every day. In addition to a new taunting letter sent to Ayatollah Khamenei each and every day. He was talked out of it.

That way, he added, the Iranians may eventually see the light of day and give it up. When asked: what about the Europeans, Russians, Chinese, Indians, etc? Will they not understand the game and give up the sanctions as well in that case? He replied: that is not the script according to Bibi…………..

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

The Final Word on the Lausanne Nuclear Deal……..

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2

“But at the end of the day, Iran is a scientifically-advanced country with good cash-flow and, if it is willing to pay the price, it can develop a nuclear weapon. Absent some program of national-scale lobotomization, there is nothing the international community can do about this. The negotiators have implicitly admitted this by focusing on limiting Iran’s breakout time to one year rather than on denying the capability altogether. But nobody can explain why one year is a magical period of time, versus, say, six months or five years. This is because there is no reason………… But it is more a symbol of the fight over Iran policy than the core of the issue. At heart, this is a fight over what to do about Iran’s challenge to U.S. leadership in the Middle East and the threat that Iranian geopolitical ambitions pose to U.S. allies, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia…………”

Verstehen sie?

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com