Tag Archives: Media

New Syria War Plan: From Humorless Jordan to the Iraqi Border………

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

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

Independent Arab media are a rare breed these days. They are those that are not owned (bought or bribed) by the potentates of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, or the UAE. Nor those owned or controlled by other dictators. It is often hard to tell which media are independent, or who owns what. Western reports often refer to Asharq AlAwsat (London: owned by Saudi king Salman & sons) or AlHayat (London: owned by Prince Khalid Bin Sutan) as “independent Arab newspapers. Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London) is now fully owned by the Qatari royals. Al-Arab (London) is owned by the UAE potentates. Various radio and television networks blanketing the Arab world and Europe are owned by the princes now (AlJazeera, AlArabiya, MBC, LBC, etc etc).

Independent Arab media, outside Lebanon and maybe Iraq, are now mainly located in Europe. Mainly in London. Oddly side by side with much of the private media owned by Arab royal princes.

The few remaining independent Arab media now report ominous developments occurring along the border of Humorless Kingdom of Jordan and Syria. They report that thousands of fighters have been trained by Americans, British, and Jordanians to fight inside Syria. Presumably these fighters are ‘moderate’ Syrian Jihadi rebels. Presumably. There have also been pictures of heavy military equipment gathered along the Jordanian border.

The Syrians have warned Jordan not to interfere in their country, but the Arab oil money is apparently too good for the humorless king of Jordan to resist. The reported plan is to enter Syria from the south, near where the border with both Jordan and Iraq meet, not far from the Saudi border. The reported plan is to move quickly toward strategic points along the eastern border of Syria. Far away from Russian, Iranian, Hezbollah, and Turkish zones of influence. Effectively further partitioning Syria.

Either to help create a secessionist part in eastern Syria, or to block an Iranian connection from Iraq into Syria and then into Lebanon. Likely both are considered worthy targets.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Image Problem of Arab Regimes: from Incredibly Mediocre to Incredibly Criminal……..

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

KuwaitCox2 Hiking


“DUBAI: An Arab News panel discussion held on Tuesday proposed solutions to the Middle East’s image problem in the West, as new research emerged illustrating the severity of the US “knowledge gap” about the region. The panel, held at the Arab Media Forum in Dubai, detailed the importance of cultural diplomacy, effective government communication and the importance of student exchange programs in boosting awareness…….” Arab News (Saudi)

Sometimes I suspect that the ruling Arab oligarchs can never learn. In fact I am convinced that they can never learn about some issues. So many of these media events are staged, all blaming outsiders (the West) for the lousy image Arabs have.
I’ve got news for them, but I suspect they already know: the blame lies squarely with the Arab ruling classes. They are almost uniformly oppressive. At best these ruling classes are incredibly mediocre, at worst they are incredibly criminal (including many regimes perceived as being allies of the West).

So this panel, and many other events before it and after it, all seek ways to to improve the “image” of Arabs in the world. Meaning to improve the image of Arab regimes: the potentates, princes, and dictators. Arab regimes, mostly corrupt and repressive, confuse the image of their countries with their own image.
Such staged media events are part of a “real” and not just perceived Arab problem. The “image” is bad because the “reality” as imposed by the ruling oligarchs is bad. Staged media events or highly-paid lobbyists in Washington and London cannot hide the reality.
Arab regimes and their controlled media want to change the image without changing the reality. Getting rid of the symptom will not cure the illness. Morphine makes the pain go away but only for a while. The disease outlasts the patient if a serious “cure” is not applied.


How about ending the wold-class repression and corruption: that should go a long way towards improving the “image” of Arab oligarchs.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Trump and Media Freedom: Is He Going Arab and Muslim?………

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

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“We get reaction from media scholar Robert McChesney to news that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is reportedly considering suing The New York Times after it ran a major report on his past treatment of women, and has vowed to make it easier to sue news organizations. Lawsuits are not the solution, McChesney says. “Instead, it is to broaden it, enrich it, create new voices and fund new voices so we actually have the diverse marketplace of ideas.………”

Democracy Now! headlines this as: Trump Vows to Sue New York Times in Latest Show of Disregard for Freedom of Press.

What is the fuss? This happens all the time in the Middle East, and not just in the Arab states or in the Gulf states. Governments, prosecutors, even foreign embassies now sue any journalist, politician, or just plain citizen for insulting some king, prince, or dictator.
Often on the Gulf, foreign Arab embassies pressure host governments to sue and prosecute their local critics. They mostly like to sue and arrest anyone who posts on social media, since they can’t completely own and control this type of media.

Just recently, Turkey‘s dour Islamist strongman Erdogan even managed to intimidate Germany to prosecute a German cartoonist who mocked him. In Germany! Instead of Turkey adapting to European standards of freedom of expression, the Germans were forced to adopt the Turkish standards.

Donald Trump is just being Arab-ized and Islam-ized.

Cheers
M Haider Ghuloum

New Old Saudi Vision of Total Conformism: from Riyadh to Pyongyang………

Shuwaikh-school1 Hiking Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Me1 (2)

“The Council of Ministers endorsed during its session on Monday under the chairmanship of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. The Cabinet session was devoted to discuss the vision, which was drafted by the Council of Economic and Development Affairs upon instructions of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. Following is the text of Saudi Arabia’s vision 2030……..”

The new phrase Saudi Vision 2030 has been covered extensively in Saudi, Gulf, and some Arab media. There has been some good coverage in international media as well, until a heavy dose of realistic skepticism set in. I am in no position to openly express my own judgment yet, but I will soon. There is certainly a need to look beyond the years of oil boom, a need for some new (and serious) vision.

Yet I don’t like the quick and intimidating cheering in the Gulf GCC region, the exclusion and rejection of any doubt or questioning.  No debate of  such a vital issue. The distinctly Saudi conformism that is spreading to all GCC states.

As expected, Saudi and Gulf GCC media are not critical: not one iota of criticism or healthy (or unhealthy) doubt has been expressed. A lot of enthusiasm has been expressed, in blissful ignorance. Suddenly everybody on the Arab shores of the Gulf is as conformist as any good Saudi citizen in Riyadh or Qassim, anyone who is not in the safety of foreign exile or in a local prison. It is like the old days when Saddam was issuing his Baathist drivel across the Persian Gulf media and nobody was allowed to criticize him.

No doubt there are many ‘secret’ doubters, especially in the other Gulf GCC states if not in heavily brain-washed Saudi Arabia, but they dare not express their doubt. It is almost like having Kim Jong Un of North Korea (the Cute Leader) publish an economic “vision” for his country! Nobody would even think of criticize him in old Pyongyang.

Similarly, some Persian Gulf states are moving rapidly toward a new common repressive model. Even in places where the press “used to be” relatively free. Criticism of the plan by Prince Mohammed, the the favorite son and possible successor of King Salman, would be considered “insulting a sisterly or brotherly” state. That is a new category of crime that could land you in prison anywhere in the GCC (as in Pyongyang).

If the open doubter is a true Wahhabi terrorist-supporter he could go to prison and maybe get rehabilitated from his doubts. If he is a Shi’a agitator or doubter, he will likely be charged with “terrorism” and lose his head to a sword.

But is this emperor, in this case Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and his vision, also naked (as in the famous parable or fable)? I am not certain yet. That will be covered in a new post coming soon to a theater right here. I have not read the detailed outlines of this economic vision in detail, yet. Who knows, I might become an enthusiastic supporter as well.
But the devil is in the details.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

A Tour of Middle East Media………..

Shuwaikh-school1 Hiking Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 ا

Here is a summary of what Middle East media seem to focus on in recent days (besides ISIS cutthroats and daily terrorism):

  • Saudi media and its reporters and columnists always write and say: (1) how bad and dangerous Iranian policy is; (2) how wise are the policies of the Saudi King and his son and crown prince; (3) how they seek to liberate Syria, Yemen, and Iraq for freedom, democracy, and the American Way of Life; (4) how the whole world is grateful for the polygamous wisdom of the princes.
  • Iranian media much of the time report: (1) how bad and dangerous are Saudi policies; (2) how wise are the policies of Iran; (3) how the West and Zionists (not the Wahhabis) have created the sectarianism that plagues the Middle East. How otherwise all Muslims would live in peace and harmony, how all the kings, princes, dictators, and mullahs can get along if left alone. (4) They also report a lot (like every week) about their most recent domestic weapons development that they claim can match anything the West sells their neighbors across the Persian Gulf.
  • Qatari media and their reporters try to be subtle, unsuccessfully. They mostly report on how wise Qatari policies are. They only hint at how dangerous Iranian policies are and how stupid Saudi policies and their surrogates are.
  • UAE media and their reporters mostly focus on: (1) how dangerous the Muslim Brotherhood are, (2) how wise the Abu Dhabi ruling brothers are, and (3) how they should control the Strait of Hormuz (no doubt through their mercenary forces hired from Colombia and Australia).
  • Egyptian media now focus on blasting anyone who questions president Al Sisi. Occasionally they warn of Muslim Brotherhood “terrorism”, and repeat Al Azhar warnings that Shi’as might be spreading their ideology in the heart of Cairo.
  • Israeli English media are obsessed with Palestinians (naturally), Hezbollah, and are now paying attention to ISIS. They seem to be disengaging a bit now from Iran. They are also somewhat typically Middle Eastern and Arab in their ethnic focus: they seems obsessed with which Hollywood Oscar celebrity or Nobel Prize winner is Jewish (there are so many that it shouldn’t be news anymore). They also seem to have forgotten what a pre-Likud era was like.
  • In Turkey, the pro-regime media are obsessed with real or imagined insults to “national pride”, WTF that be, and with persistent Armenian ghosts, and how the Russians (and maybe the Iranians and Lebanese) messed up their plans for the liberation and Islamization of Syria.
  • Lebanese media are concerned with who will become a figurehead president, and now increasingly with the threat of Jihadi terrorism. They also always seem concerned with which country can make the largest platter of hummus or Kenafa. And also with Amal Clooney’s latest attire.
    Alles klar?

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Saudis Tighten Grip on Middle East Media: from Newspapers to Satellite TV……….

Shuwaikh-school1 Hiking Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 ChristmasPeanutsA

The editor of an Arab web newspaper reports on how the Saudis are tightening their grip on Middle East media. Oddly, he himself helped that by reportedly selling his previous newspaper to the Qataris. That came after years of reports that the paper was in fact financed by the Qatari potentates.

Saudi Arabia, like other Persian Gulf potentates, has tightened its grip on Arab media over the past decade. The Gulf princes and potentates have bought previously independent publications like Asharq Alawsat and Al-Hayat and Al-Quds Al-Arabi and various Lebanese and satellite TV channels. They also own Alarabiya and AlJazeera networks. Among many others. The Qataris and the Emirati potentates (Middle East Online) also own their own share of Arab media.

Yet independent anti-Saudi networks have persisted and continue to provide some alternatives to the Wahhabi narrative. They find vast Arab audiences who do not cotton up to official or controlled semi-official media. Now the Saudis have the hit upon the practice of forcing Arab satellites to ban channels they do not own or like. One such satellite, ArabSat, is located in the Saudi capital Riyadh. Saudi Arabia has recently forced ArabSat to bloc unfriendly Arab networks from using it to broadcast. The kingdom owns about 40% of the capital of the ArabSat. These blocked channels have originated from various Middle East countries. Yet in this day and age it is impossible to completely bloc undesirable networks. The Internet is a great equalizer for now.

What will be next? Arab royal control and restrictions on international Social Media like Twitter and Facebook? Highly unlikely since they can buy a company but they can’t buy the American ingenuity that creates the likes of these social media. And they can’t keep their client accounts. They can try to establish their own social media, but the Iranian mullahs once threatened the same until they realized the futility of it.

Stay tuned………….
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

 

On the Gulf: Westerners Confusing Luxury Hotels with Human Rights……..

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2

“I had been looking forward to this year’s International Human Rights Rank Indicator (IHRRI) which was due to be issued tomorrow but – alas – it has suddenly, and without explanation, been postponed for several months. The IHRRI is (or perhaps was) an international league table of human rights, covering 216 countries. Last year, unbelievably, it placed the United Arab Emirates in 12th position worldwide – between New Zealand and Iceland. No other Arab country came anywhere close to the UAE in terms of human rights performance; Morocco was nearest, in 67th position. When this claim about the Emirates was noted (and ridiculed) on social media, IHRRI deleted the entire league table from its website – again, suddenly and without explanation…………….”

It is not the first time Western experts, pundits, journalists, even some politicians, have confused luxury accommodation and wining and dining with human rights. Especially in the Persian Gulf states. It is the traditional Arab hospitality of the Gulf, misunderstood in the West. This often happens for visitors to the United Arab Emirates-UAE. I have in the past commented on articles by Thomas Friedman and Roger Cohen (I usually enjoy reading Cohen) and possibly David Ignatius (Washington Post) and how they confuse things like luxurious 6-star hosting and accessibility to ‘human rights’ and ‘credibility of leaked information’.

Of course the overwhelming majority of residents of the UAE and other places on the Gulf (95% of them) cannot afford the luxury of these 6-star hotels. So they probably don’t merit human rights.

It is usually hard to be critical of those who offer you 6-star hospitality. Although I recall that Nicholas Kristof (N Y Times) visited Iran a year or two ago and came back to write in favor of tougher economic sanctions against Iran. I am assuming Kristof did not get 6-star or 7-star hospitality from the mullahs in Iran. I doubt that they have it in Tehran now. I blame the Western blockade……..
So maybe the folks at IHRRI are waiting for the UAE to mend its ways so that it can merit being placed next to Iceland on human rights. Perhaps in a year or two, or maybe when hell freezes over……….

    

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

Wall Street Journal Continues its Own Middle East Wars……

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15                   DennyCreek2

Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter   KuwaitCox2


“Well, this is a little scary. U.S. intelligence intercepted messages from Iran to militants in Iraq ordering attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad if America strikes Syria. U.S officials say they’re preparing for Iran’s fast boats in the Persian Gulf, and military resources, including Marines, have been moved to the area. The message came from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard leader Qasem Soleimani and instructed Shiite groups to respond with force if the U.S. strikes Syria………..”

I didn’t know a U.S. attack ‘on Syria’ was in the cards these days. Unless the Wall Street Journal writer knows something no one else does.

Could he mean extending the current bombing attack against the Wahhabi Caliphate of ISIS into Syria? But then why would Iran retaliate in the Persian Gulf and why would Hezbollah retaliate in Beirut for any attack on the ISIS den of terrorists? Especially if the target of the Syrian campaign is NOT to alter the military balance in the Syrian civil war and tilt it toward the strategic goals of the Wahhabi oil princes. Provided Syria approves of any operations over its territory.

An attack on the U.S. embassy in Beirut by Hezbollah? That would be a stupid thing for them to do these days, and they know it. Only some media types and propagandists would think of it as probable. No doubt Hezbollah planners are more intelligent than many Wall Street Journal opinion-ators who write this kind of nonsense. They read as if written by some Likud or AIPAC functionaries.

More likely any attack on the U.S. embassy anywhere and not just in Beirut, if it ever happens, would come from Wahhabi terrorists nurtured for years by allied oil princes and by money from elements of Lebanon’s right-wing blocs.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghulou
m

Judiciary Thuggery in Egypt’s Courts: Dumb and Dumber instead of Best and Brightest……


Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

“A judge released his reasoning for harsh sentences issued last month against three journalists for Al Jazeera’s English-language channel, saying they had been brought together “by the devil” to destabilize Egypt  ………. The judge, Mohammed Nagi Shehata, convicted and sentenced the three — Peter Greste, an Australian; Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian of Egyptian descent; and Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian — to seven years over charges linked to aiding the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Mr. Morsi was a leader. The judge said that Al Jazeera worked “in the service of a banned terrorist organization,” referring to the Brotherhood……………..”

What this Egyptian ‘judge’ said was a variation of the old saying that the “devil made them do it“.

Under Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi, Egyptian courts, like Egyptian state-controlled media, have reached new laws. Judges pass sentences couched in vulgar language that even bloggers like myself shy away from (well, mostly: e all like to have some fun, but we are not all judges). Only a few weeks ago two Egyptian kangaroo courts sentenced more than one thousand people to death for being Muslim Brotherhood supporters. A political massacre.

There are reportedly some 30 thousand to 40 thousand others under arrest for their politics and awaiting trial by these same regime courts. It is a throwback to the age of Nazi Germany and Baathist Iraq, among other places.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

The Angry Euro-Centric International Community: Torn Between Ukraine and Gaza…….


Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Headline today in the Huffington Post: “Global” anger at Russia grows……..

Odd: I look around the globe, the media in several languages, and I don’t see worldwide intense anger. There is sympathy and a desire to uncover the culprit(s), but no anger. I see some regional real anger and some regional pretend anger, and I see mostly some politics mixed with anger, and it is focused on a particular part of the globe. In recent years, it seems that the world has gone back to the old Euro-centric order, just as it did during the eighteenth and nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Apparently when the angry “international community” or “the world” is mentioned the acronyms that matter are NATO and EU. Forget about UNO and BRICS and PIGS and TRICKS and SCO and WTF and the rest.

No wonder the angry “international community” is never angry when third world airlines are shot down, especially when shot down by NATO missiles (Iran Air 655, Libyan Air).

I guess “global” here means the West: “European Union” or “North American”. The Rest Of the World, almost 85% of it,  are just that, ROW, and not part of the “global community”, since we don’t see much if any of the same “outrage” across Asia (outside Malaysia) or Africa or Latin America, or the Middle East. The same applies to “The International Community” that we often see in Western headlines. The Int’l Community is often angry at someone or the other (Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Freedonia, etc). The “Int’l Community” is never ever angry at the European Union or the USA or Canada. And why should they?

Now speaking of “global” outrage, and speaking of Gaza……….

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com