Tag Archives: Persian Gulf

A New Persian Gulf War? A Message from Marcus Licinius Crassus to Donald Trump……..

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“The Saudis have been bombing the Houthi rebels and ravaging their country, Yemen, for two years. Are the Saudis entitled to immunity from retaliation in wars that they start? Where is the evidence Iran had a role in the Red Sea attack on the Saudi ship? And why would President Trump make this war his war? As for the Iranian missile test, a 2015 U.N. resolution “called upon” Iran not to test nuclear-capable missiles. It did not forbid Iran from testing conventional missiles, which Tehran insists this was. Is the United States making new demands on Iran not written into the nuclear treaty or international law—to provoke a confrontation? Did Flynn coordinate with our allies about this warning of possible military action against Iran? Is NATO obligated to join any action we might take?………..”
Also sprach Pat Buchanan, now older and even wiser.

Mr. Trump is a Manhattan businessman and a showman. Which means he has mastered the arts of showmanship and bluffing (and bullying).
His nonsensical campaign promise to ‘Make America Great Again‘ was absurd, as if America is Egypt or Peru. But it was bought by enough of the desperate industrial working classes, and much of the campaign-money-donating upper classes, to get him into the White House. Even as he lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.

His promise of America First looks set to be set on fire by his new adventurism in the Persian Gulf region. Possibly egged on by some of the same Arab and Jewish regional allies he detests so much. He has surrounded himself by a few former military men and civilian hawks who have a chip on their collective shoulders regarding the Middle East, especially Iran. They think they can win the wars of choice that Bush and Obama squandered.

Now they have made Donald Trump into a George W Bush on steroids. But a new military conflict in the Persian Gulf will last much longer than the hawks and chickenhawks think. Remember the Iran-Iraq war? It was started by Iraq as a blitzkrieg victory, but it lasted eight years and ended up destroying Iraq. This latest war in Afghanistan has lasted 16 years, so far. The latest Iraq war started in 2003, Syria is in its seventh year.

A lesson for Mr. Trump from ancient Roman history, if he and his new generals care to read. Read the story of the Roman consul and general Marcus Licinius Crassus, a friend of Julius Caesar. He collected a huge army of many invincible Roman legions to invade ancient Persia more than two thousand years ago. Another unprovoked war. Crassus and his Roman legions vanished somewhere in the Iranian Plateau, never to be seen or heard from again.
Lesson? Wars of choice half-way across the world are not a good investment (as you, Mr. Trump and your class would say).
Mr. Trump, there are no direct American national interests threatened by the Iranians. They have not broken the Nuclear Deal with the world powers. They have not attacked Americans or America’s regional allies, yet. So, tone down the bluffing.

Mr. Trump, you are used to playing the cheap game of Casino poker, but the mullahs play the more enduring game of Chess. A game their country invented when your ancestors were still lurking in the caves and forests of Central Europe.
So, call back the dogs of war, get them out of your White House. Don’t throw good money after bad in the Middle East. Save a few more trillions of dollars and many lives on both sides.

M. Haider Ghuloum

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

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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.

M. Haider Ghuloum

In the Persian-American Gulf: a Tribal Sectarian Island of Mad Snakes……

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An island, or islands, in the sun.

The United States has its largest regional naval base on it.
Britain, its former colonial master and perennial enabler of its despots, is re-establishing a permanent military base on it.

Saudi Arabia has a military base since 2011 when it helped crush a democratic uprising.

Assorted imported foreign mercenaries, goon squads, are based on it: interrogators/torturers from the humorless Kingdom of Jordan, security forces recruited from Pakistan and Syria and other places.

An island of poverty and tear gas once one leaves the Potemkin facade glitter of the capital. A majority of its native people are being gradually ghettoized, terrorized, and disenfranchised by the ruling tribal oligarchy.
Pro-democracy advocates, original natives, and critics of the ruling family are rendered stateless and sent into exile. Often they are arrested on trumped up charges and imprisoned, tortured.
Western powers, especially the USA pay lip service to the need for freedom and equality. Others don’t even bother to pay lip service to the idea of freedom on the island.

The British establishment (government, royal family, and business) are part of the problem of the people of the island. They are the greatest enablers of repression on the island. The royal family of Britain goes out of its way to show its support of the despotic rulers of the island. Idle English princes and princesses of questionable character fly occasionally to show their support (and get Saudi contracts). The despots are often feted at Buckingham and other palaces.

You know which small captive island I am talking about. A small monarchy ruled by a nest of tribal sectarian snakes and thieves, it is very close to the southeastern shore of the Persian-American Gulf. Just across the waterway from the oil fields.

I have called it a Devil’s Island in the past, a slight exaggeration. I have also called it an Island of Tear Gas, a slight exaggeration.
Any exaggeration here about this island is bound to be “slight”.

I will not name names here, leaving it to your knowledge or imagination, although it is a very real island. In the Persian-American Gulf.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

From Persian-American Gulf to Gulf of Mercenaries and the New Ottomans…….

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It is a problem, this faraway little Gulf of ours. A few years ago I modified its name, I started to call it the Persian-American Gulf, but it is getting harder. The population is shifting. The princes and potentates in their little kingdoms have now imported a majority of the non-Arabic and non-Persian speaking population from South and Southeast Asia and claim it should be called, no, not the Gulf of Bengal………..  Could it be the Gulf of Mercenaries, as I suggested a year or two ago? Gulf of Wahhabis, heaven forbid? How about the Gulf of Salaf? Gulf of Foreign Military Bases? Gulf of Tribal Sectarianism?

  • For example, the little oppressed repressed robbed sectarian island of Bahrain is now nearly sinking under foreign bases:
    U.S Naval Base Gulf HQ – Saudi Military Base post the Spring of 2011 invasion – Even the old British colonial masters have not stopped helping the ruling gangs in their robbery and repression. They are starting a new military base – Add to all that assorted imported mercenaries/interrogators and torturers from Jordan, Pakistan, Syria (former security), Iraq (former Baathists), among other foreign places. With an occasional obscure idle English prince and princess or two paying visits to shore up the kleptocratic autocratic outpost.
  • Little rich Wahhabi power Qatar where 90% of the population is temporary foreign laborers (mainly South Asian housemaids raising the kids and keeping house):
    U.S. Central Command has its regional headquarters at the Al-‘Adeed base – It is now also the Muslim Brotherhood HQ (outside Turkey) – Now reports say that Turkey, under its new Ottoman Caliph Sultan Recep Erdogan, will also establish a military base in Qatar. So, the Ottomans are coming back, with a new sultan. Which might indicate that the on-again-off-again sisterly relations with the fellow Saudi Wahhabis may be heading up the proverbial ‘unsanitary creek’.
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE, where some 90% of the population is composed of imported foreign laborers and housemaids), ruled by a Band of Brothers who own Abu Dhabi (lock, stock and barrel). I think it has:
    British base – French base – Canadian base (sorry, it was closed over a commercial dispute) – Colombian mercenary military base (no, not FARC) – (Former) Blackwater mercenary force: mainly South American, South African, Australian, etc- Actually I have lost track: for all I know even Monaco or Vanuatu may have military bases in Abu Dhabi by now.

But I don’t have anything against friendly military bases. They can be a protective measure that started with Saddam’s Baathist brutal invasion of Kuwait in 1990. But I suspect they are not only aimed against Iraqi dangers anymore, and not only aimed against the mullahs in Iran, but probably also needed not-so-secretly to keep the sisterly Wahhabi princes next door at home. The princes are only a few tanks’ drive away, as the unhappy people of Bahrain discovered in the Spring of 2011.

As well as the dangers that may emerge from the troubles in Iraq/Jordan/Syria. Dangers that were largely created and financed by wayward Persian Gulf Islamist groups and some princes. As well as some unsettled tribal issues and risks that Gulf GCC states have experienced (attempted Saudi-backed coup in Qatar in 1998) and others may be experiencing.

Still, a Turkish military base in Qatar? But why not? After all there is a Saudi Wahhabi base in Bahrain. The Muslim Brotherhood Turkish base in Qatar could balance that.

But there is still the same nagging question that won’t go away for me: whoever the hell heard of a country welcoming a Turkish military base?

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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Laughingstock of MENA? Oligarchs Hijack the Anger of Arab Youth, LOL…….

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A lot of conferences and symposiums and fora are held in the Gulf region. All allegedly representing the whole Arab world, from the Gulf to the Atlas Mountains. Another one was held recently in Dubai which seemed to trend toward pinning the blame for Arab problems on anybody but those responsible: the Arab establishment.

Just why are the Arabs angry? And how angry are the “young Arabs” at being “a laughingstock” according to Roger Cohen and Amr Moussa? And do the masses of Arab youths from Iraq to Morocco really give a hoot about the preferences and prejudices of unelected Gulf oligarchs? 

And who best expresses the anger of Arab “youth” according to most Western media types and pundits?
Why, it is first of all Amr Moussa, former Egyptian foreign minister then secretary general of the Arab League under Hosni Mubarak. Who else can express revolutionary anger but an octogenarian man of the establishment? Then after that who else but the absolute Saudi princes, then the absolute oligarchs of the UAE and Bahrain and Qatar.

And why are the Arab youth allegedly supposedly perhaps so angry that Persian Iran has influence in the Persian Gulf, but they are not angry that Britain, France, Monaco, and Colombian mercenaries are building bases in the same Persian Gulf faster than petro-money can finance them? And why are these “youths of the whole Arab world” allegedly represented by a handful of foreign absolute kings, princes, potentates, and their paid media minions?

And why are Arab youths, according to Amr Moussa and others, not angry at their rulers instead of being angry at foreigners who take advantage of meddling opportunities created by the rulers? Shouldn’t they be angry, as they used to be in past decades, at their rulers for enabling foreigners (Iranians, Turks, Israelis, Westerners) to wield influence?

All this puzzling “stuff” I gleaned from the recent article by Roger Cohen in the New York Times.  Written in the warm afterglow of a well-fed six-star conference in the United Arab Emirates. While the Yemenis next door got bombed and starved by the same brotherly and sisterly Arab oligarchs.          

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Persian Gulf: Local Powder Keg, Western Market Opportunity……..

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“In Yemen, “Saudi Arabia is using F-15 fighter jets bought from Boeing. Pilots from the United Arab Emirates are flying Lockheed Martin’s F-16″ in sorties in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, wrote the Times. U.S. arms manufacturers have opened up offices in several Arab capitals, and reportedly expect additional orders from regional countries for “thousands of American-made missiles, bombs and other weapons” to replenish “an arsenal that has been depleted over the past year,” according to The New York Times. In an earnings call leaked to The Intercept last month, Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson stressed the company’s goals to increase international sales, particularly in the Middle East. “A lot of volatility, a lot of instability, a lot of things that are happening” in the Middle East are potential “growth areas”………….”

In 1979, after the mullahs and their temporary secular allies overthrew the Shah of Iran, they made a nearly-fateful decision. They canceled all pending weapons contracts with the United States (that was before the Hostage Crisis). The decision was partly driven by ‘revolutionary’ zeal, and based on the naive assumption that they were safe from external attack and that they could influence the region with their revolutionary message and rhetoric.
Next year Saddam Hussein did something that quickly disabused them of that rosy view. Saddam saw an opportunity in the turmoil within Iran and made his own fateful decision by invading southwestern Iran. That war disappointed all expert predictions as it lasted eight years and bankrupted Iraq to the extent that Saddam invaded Kuwait to loot its wealth. We all know that story is still unfolding in Iraq and across the region (and to some extent within Iranian political circles).
Suddenly our once peaceful Gulf looked quite menacing. Meanwhile, with the two Persian Gulf superpowers, Iran and Iraq, otherwise occupied, the smaller countries started building up their own arsenals, to supplement the American Umbrella. Now Saudi Arabia, UAE and other GCC states are major weapons markets for the West (and the East). The Iranian mullahs probably salivate at the quality and quantity of state-of-the-art Western weapons that their smaller neighbors to the south can get. Only the Israelis get better weapons than the GCC states, and that is certainly deliberate American policy.

The mullahs will probably have to keep on salivating: Western weapons are unlikely to be available to Iran any time soon. That is not all bad. They have managed to develop their own vast weapons industry, as well as a credible space program. Which means they have locally mastered the sciences and technology needed. For a country the size of Iran, it makes sense to focus on domestic production. Besides, they have not done so bad in terms of regional influence, even without F-15 and F-16 warplanes and shared Western intelligence.

I am tempted to assert that it would be better for the other Gulf states to develop their own weapons industries. But there may be a small problem with that. Where would the princes and potentates, and their families, get the huge amounts of money that the weapons bribes commissions provide?

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

More Gulf Military Exercises Near the Strait of Hormuz…….

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Some Arab media quote a UAE (Emirates) ‘prominent analyst’ that a number of GCC countries will hold naval military exercises in the Persian Gulf. The analyst mentioned something about the exercise being a message to a ‘threatening Iran’. But he also hinted that enhanced operational field coordination is an important goal. In other words, learning to organize the proverbial piss-up in a brewery, which is more essential for the success of any military operation than accumulating expensive hardware.

They report the exercises will be held in the area of the Strait of Hormuz and not far from three disputed islands that are held by Iran (Abu Moussa, and the Tunbs). It is not clear to me how close to Hormuz they will be held, if they will be held at all. Nor how reliable this ‘analyst’ who leaked the news is, although they report that he is ‘close’ to UAE policy-makers. No report if some of the participating countries that heavily use imported mercenaries (UAE, Bahrain) will bring along these foreign mercenaries to join the exercises.
This comes days after the Iranians held their own exercises near the area, where they targeted a replica of a U.S. naval warship (a flat top). A cute but snidely touch by the humorless mullahs, although the timing may not have been smart.

No doubt the region is getting weirder by the week. From the Gulf to Libya. Which possibly explains the state of this particular post of mine.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

The Most Recent GCC Drama Swept Under: Sugar and Spice and Dancing Goatees………

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It seems that the most recent Gulf GCC dust-up has been settled, for now. The Persian Gulf media, official and unofficial versions, are gushing orgasmic with all the talk of sweetness and sisterly states and brotherly love. Something they usually do publicly even as the knives are being sharpened. Enough to make me look around for a barf bag.

This means the absolute tribal ruling oligarchs of Saudi Arabia and the UAE (Bahrain’s rulers act as a Saudi appendage and don’t count) have reached a deal with the errant wayward Wahhabis of Qatar. Sugar was oozing through the grease at the little summit in Riyadh yesterday. The goatees were practically dancing, mainly for the benefit of the media and the saps watching it on television at home.

No doubt a temporary deal which, like previous temporary deals, will last as long as it is not seriously tested. We have seen this drama film before. Enforced hegemony and conformity never last, which means these most boring potentates of the GCC will have some more drama to share with us in the future. Get the popcorn ready,

And don’t forget a new bag……….
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum


Sectarian GCC, Delusional GCC: Third Battle of Qadisiyyah, Second Battle of Karbala…….


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the year of Our Lord 15 Hijri (about 636 AD), the Muslim Arab fighters won a big victory at the Battle of Qadisiyyah in what is today’s Iraq. That opened the door for the spread of Islam to Mesopotamia and Persia and beyond.

September of 1980, while Iran was in revolutionary turmoil, Saddam Hussein’s army invaded the Iranian province of Khuzistan (a.k.a Arabistan). Saddam made several demands and goals for his invasion, none of which were met at the end of the war. Seeing the dire situation inside Iran, he had expected a quick victory, as did most Arabs and many in the West (even the once-venerable The Economist wrote stupidly in 1980 that Iran might become an Iraqi satrapy). Saddam got the support of all the GCC states of the Persian Gulf, moral support, propaganda support, money support, and weapons. He also got the support of all the Western powers: weapons, intelligence, even some limited military action. As well as supplies of chemical weapons and overlooking his use of WMD against Iraqi Kurds and Iranian soldiers. 
Not all Arabs sided with him: Syria, Libya, and Algeria among the Arab states, and a faction of the PLO, did not side with Saddam. The late King Hussein of Jordan, the man who lost Jerusalem and the whole West Bank to the Israeli IDF in one single day, even went to the front and fired some symbolic shots at the Iranians. Iraqi propaganda and Persian Gulf supporters called the war Qadisiyyah of Saddam. In the end Iraq came out of this war a financially broken country. That was when he turned his guns against the Gulf people who had stood by his side. He invaded Kuwait in August 2, 1990 and the rest is history.

we have the Wahhabi terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, ISIL) sweeping across northern Iraq. The same great Gulf GCC
tribal sectarian minds that cheered Saddam before 1990 are now cheering ISIS. Many of them are claiming that ISIS is really a nationalist rebirth of the Baath Party, apparently a softer Iraqi Baath Party that can now get along with the absolute tribal rulers of the Gulf. Maybe it is not the same Baath Party that invaded Kuwait and threatened the terrified Saudi princes until the Americans showed up and chased them out. Now they claim they are cheering for the disenfranchised Sunnis of Iraq, the 20% who have not reconciled to losing power. 
sectarians in the Persian Gulf region are coming out of the closet, out in the open; not that they were ever well hidden. From tribal academics to media stars to liberal-Wahhabi-men-and-women-about-town to the clownish chief of the Dubai Police Dhahi Khalfan, they are all in justification mode, using crass sectarian terms. The same crass sectarian terms they used in the 1980s until Saddam’s tanks moved toward the south in 1990.
Now they see this new turmoil in Iraq as a third Battle of Qadisiyyah, or maybe as a second Battle of Karbala, as the Wahhabi invaders in Iraq are hinting at.

is as if on my Gulf they have not learned any lesson from the past few decades. It is as if delusion is like an heirloom handed down from foolish fathers to foolish sons and daughters in the GCC countries of the Gulf.



Sahel Oman: Coast of Oman and Rewriting History in the Gulf of Mercenaries…….


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Rewriting history and faking history has become a habit in our native region, especially in the Gulf GCC states. But it is a good thing that ‘facts’ are stubborn, mostly. This week’s political noise about an Al-Jazeera documentary film on the Coast of Oman is a good example.

When we were children growing up on the hot shores of the Gulf (Gulf of Mercenaries? Persian-American Gulf?) we knew about Sahel Oman (ساحل عمان) from readings and from family members. We called the whole coast south of Bahrain and Qatar by one name: Sahel Oman (Coast of Oman). We had student colleagues and friends from what is now the UAE and we called them ‘Omani students’: they did not seem to object. Dubai existed as Dubai, a commercial center, as did Al Sharjah and maybe Ras Al Khaimah. Abu Dhabi existed, but barely. We never heard or read about Abu Dhabi or some of the other emirates. Maybe we were ignorant, but we called the region: Sahel Oman. As did the other Arab media whenever they paid attention to the Arab side of the Gulf beyond Bahrain and Kuwait. In those days Bahrain was were the political action and political news were: even then the people were in constant rebellion against the absolute Al Khalifa clan and their British advisers (how some things never change!). Not much has changed in Bahrain: except for the unwelcome intrusion of Saudi troops and other imported foreign mercenaries shoring up the regime.
Now this recent recent documentary film on Al-Jazeera about Sahel Oman has riled up the UAE (mainly Abu Dhabi), and some of their Saudi allies are also making the right supportive noises. Saudi mouthpiece Asharq Alawsat (owned by Crown Prince Salman) had its obedient chief editor blast the film as a Qatari insult to the United Arab Emirates. The film is reportedly non-political, although the Qataris must have suspected that it would upset up the ruling potentates of the UAE who fancy themselves the heirs of the Greek-Persian-Roman-Babylonian-Umayyad-Abbasid empires (now they can add ancient Egypt through their share of the Gulf investment in Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi).