Tag Archives: Qatar

The Internal Wars of the GCC: from Al Bassous to Qatar and Egypt……..

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15                   DennyCreek2

Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter   KuwaitCox2


The foreign ministers of the Gulf GCC members met in Jeddah Saturday, reportedly to follow up on an ‘ultimatum’ given to Qatar. The ultimatum was from the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (also Bahrain, but now only as an appendix of the Saudis).

The ultimatum itself is an interesting, and should be shocking, piece of undiplomatic diplomacy and meddling in the sovereign affairs of an allegedly independent sovereign country. The GCC right-wing group (Saudi, UAE, Bahrain) had reportedly warned, nay threatened, Qatar to basically adopt their Saudi-imposed foreign policy in regional and inter-Arab affairs, or else. At stake is continued Qatari support for the Muslim Brotherhood and its continued criticism of Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi regime in Egypt, mainly through the Aljazeera network. As well as Qatari refusal to push Hamas in Gaza under the bus.

The Qatari-Saudi rift goes back to long before the Arab uprisings and the Egyptian military coup of 2013 and the Syrian civil war and Hamas control of Gaza. During the 1990s, Saudi intelligence orchestrated an attempted coup in Qatar, with the goal of overthrowing the last Emir Hamad. The coup attempt, in which certain tribal elements from the border region were also implicated, failed. As a result, a large group of senior Saudi intelligence and security officers were arrested in Doha and imprisoned for years. They were released during the last decade and send back home to Riyadh.

Anyway, some GCC ministers claimed after the Jeddah meeting that ‘the issues’ are on their way to being resolved. In fact all ‘issues’ are usually on their way to being resolved, and not only because GCC functionaries and top bureaucrats habitually claim that they are. Famously, the pre-Islamic tribal Al Bassous War was also resolved after some forty years, and that one was over a camel and a cantankerous woman who owned it. Even the Israeli-Palestinian ‘issue’ may be resolved some day: it has only been, what, about 75 years or so?

If’n you ask me, if’n you do, and I am aware that you haven’t yet, I would say it is highly unlikely that the Qataris will succumb to the demands of the Saudi princes and their Abu Dhabi and Bahraini sidekicks. There have been several bilateral meetings between Saudi and Qatari leaders in recent months. A bilateral summit meeting between King and Emir was held in Saudi Arabia last July, and apparently it failed to resolve the issues. It is unlikely then that a bunch of GCC bureaucrats can solve what King and Emir could not solve.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Saudi and Qatari Monarchs Meet to Push for Democracy……….


Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Saudi media report the Emir of Qatar Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani flew to Jeddah and met with Saudi King Dr. Servant of the Two Holy Shrines Abdullah.

I will guess why such a sudden meeting: they met to discuss how best to introduce electoral democracy into Syria AND how to improve the state of electoral democracy in Iraq. With the help of their Wahhabi elves and helpers who had snuck into these tow countries uninvited.

Speaking of democracy, agencies report the meeting was attended as follows:

  • On the Saudi side those attended were: the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – and Interior Minister Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef Al Saud
  • On the Qatari side: Shaikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al Thani (prime minister & minister of interior) – Shaikh Ju’an (Hungry in Arabic) Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani – Shaikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani – Shaikh Khalid Bin Khalifa Bin Abdulaziz Al Thani – Shaikh Abdullah Bin Thamer Bin Moahmmed Al Thani (Qatari ambassador in Saudi Arabia).

But it couldn’t just be about Syria and Iraq and Lebanon and other hard to deal with Arab countries. Not even just Gaza and Hamas. Prince Mohammed is the Saudi minister of interior, the man in charge of police, internal security, religious police, prisons, arrests, interrogations, enhanced interrogation, and all the interesting things that happen to those convicted (and even some who are never convicted).

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

The Case for Splitting the Arab States: Wahhabistan and Huthistan and Rafidhistan……….


Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Much has been written and said in the past ten years about the potential for splitting Iraq. The argument is mainly that the sects and ethnic groups cannot reach a deal to remain together peacefully within the British-created borders of Iraq. The Kurds want to split away, they are just waiting for when the moment is right (to quote the famous TV ad). The Sunni southwest region is in many ways more like northern Saudi Arabia than Iraq, at least in a tribal sense. There has also been talk of a split of Syria into Alawi, Sunni, and Wahhabi parts (perhaps a Kurdish one as well). We can extend that to some other Arab states; why only Syria and Iraq and Sudan (as happened a couple of years ago) or Somalia (which is bound to happen)? Let us explore a few other cases:

  • Saudi Arabia: King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud invaded and annexed several regions to his own Nejdi kingdom in the 20th century. His kingdom can now be divided into three states. The Nejd area will form a Wahhabistan which will keep the current name of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (if they don’t like Wahhabistan). The Hijaz will form another state where they all speak the same dialect of Arabic and say things like ‘ya shaikh’ and ‘ikhtishi’ and ‘koweyiss’ (meaning ‘good’). The smallest state will be along the coast of the Persian-American Gulf, where most of the Shi’as live. The southern part will join the next state on my list in northern Yemen.
  • Yemen: the northern most part of Yemen will annex the southern regions that had been usurped by Saudi King Abdulaziz in 1930s. It will be renamed Huthistan. The central part, the rest of the old Yemen will become “Yemen”. Southern Yemen which lost its independence in 1990 to become part of Yemen will regain its freedom and will be renamed the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen Southern Arabia.
  • Bahrain: Shi’as and some others have been in protest mode for more than three years, seeking equality in politics and economics. The Al Khalifa rulers and their tribal and Salafi allies are determined to deny them that right. So why not divide Bahrain into two mini parts: Manama and Muharraq to become one country (perhaps forming one new Saudi province), and the rest, including the neglected villages and townships could become another state of its own. This Shi’a part could be called the Rafidhi State and join the GCC as such. Or maybe it can join the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the eighth emirate. Okay, maybe I will send a text message to the shaikh, sorry king, suggesting it (with a copy forwarded to the Saudi king since it will be his decision to make).
  • Libya: is already divided into at least two parts: let us keep it that way.
  • Morocco: no change, except that the king will have to give up the Sahrawi region.
  • Egypt: Egypt has had nearly the same borders for thousands of years, the only Arab country to have this distinction. There are no major tribes or tribal divisions, although there are now deep religious divisions. So Egypt will probably remain the same: bored to death under a boring military ruler presiding over the same old bureaucracy, but united. The Sinai will remain a wild violent outpost and the south a place of violent clashes among the clans over women and cattle and religion.
  • UAE: the Abu Dhabi shaikhs have got the rest of them by the balls. Only Dubai is rich enough to draw the line.
  • Qatar: maybe it will join Turkey as a new Ottoman outpost.

(The Arab League will them change from a league or 20 some despots to a League of Forty Thieves. And I am almost serious about this, almost).

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Is Medical Pilgrimage in Egypt’s Future? the Army Says So about their Acne Cure……….

 


Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Qatari daily Al-Quds Alarabi, published from London, and other Arab media have interesting medical news from Egypt. The Medical Services Authority of the Egyptian Army has announced an update on its magical machines that can cure HIV and Hepatitis-C. It announced at a press conference Saturday that it is postponing receiving any patients who are seeking to be cured from HIV (AIDS) and/or Hepatitis-C through the new machines the Egyptian Army had invented. The Army said the postponement will last six months, allowing for further experiments on a larger sample of those infected.

The Egyptian army had announced the new inventions with fanfare a few months ago, at a public event attended by the county’s leadership including Field Marshal Al Sisi. A General Dr. Al –Sairafy said they are looking into the best ways to apply the cures for the Hepatitis-C and HIV (AIDS)N viruses, using what he called the C-Fact and Complete-Cure machines invented by the Egyptian Armed Forces.

A medical professor of gastronomy and liver diseases at Ain Shams University at Cairo said the tow breakthrough inventions were developed over a period of 22 years. He added that “the cure starts with a patient taking one daily tablet for ten days, after which he sits on a machine that drwas out his blood the returns a pure form of the blood back into his body. This blood re-infusion is done one hour per day over 16 days………

With these great inventions, courtesy of the brains of the glorious armed forces of Egypt, the economy should quickly recover as millions from around the world make the pilgrimage to Cairo to get cured of their diseases.

(I must add here that this Complete-Cure sounds like a skin cream for zits, a.k.a. acne, rather than HIV (AIDS). The Fast-C sounds like a method of injecting a huge dosage of vitamin C into someone’s blood).

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Middle East Focus: Asian Dreams and Labor Nightmares on an Asian Gulf………


Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

“He could hardly wait to leave Qatar. Ganesh has promised himself to never again set foot in the desert. On this spring evening, though, Ganesh’s trip back home still lies before him. He is sprawled out exhausted on his bed on the outskirts of Doha after finishing his shift. The room is just 16 square meters (172 square feet) — and provides shelter to 10 workers. With the fan broken and the window sealed shut with aluminum foil, the air is thick and stuffy…………. On the map, the area is simply labeled “industrial zone.” But it is home to the thousands of faceless workers, the place where they eat and sleep. In Ganesh’s building, 100 workers are housed on three floors, far away from the glittery hotels in the city center. They live on the edge of a dream that the sheikhs want to make reality……………….”

The same also applies to laborers from other places, like Egypt and the Sub-continent and East Africa. Temporary foreign laborers form about 90% of Qatar’s population: almost the same percentage that they form of the population of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). So you see why they are indispensable to these countries. Not only do these foreigners work on creating buildings and roads, on the supply side: they are also needed to create the demand for the goods and services. They are needed to buy much of the consumer goods the local merchants import, they are needed to transfer in remittances billions of dollars that keep the local banks operating, and foreigners are needed to fill these buildings that are owned by the princes and potentates and their business allies. Otherwise the newly erected towns between Doha and Abu Dhabi will look like ghost towns; they did not exist a couple of decades ago.

Cheers

mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

FIFA, Bribing Qataris, Bribable Sports Officials, Conspiring Arab Regimes………

      


 Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter


“Senior Fifa figures are for the first time seriously considering the ramifications of ordering a rerun of the vote for the right to stage the 2022 World Cup, in the aftermath of new corruption allegations against the hosts, Qatar.
While awaiting the results of a semi-independent inquiry into the 2018 and 2022 bidding races, senior football figures heading for the 2014 tournament in Brazil are understood to be considering their response if the report recommends a new vote in light of new claims based on hundreds of millions of leaked emails and documents. In Britain, there was a renewed outpouring of concern from politicians and former football executives after the Sunday Times alleged that Mohamed bin Hammam, a Qatari former Fifa executive committee member, paid $5m (£3m) in cash, gifts and legal fees to senior football officials ……………”

“The Qatari construction magnate Mohamed bin Hammam was in 2011 cast out from his gilded position at the commanding heights of world football’s governing body. His fall closely traces the arc of Fifa’s shattered reputation, and the melting credibility of his country’s 2022 World Cup project. Now the subject of the Sunday Times’s remarkably detailed allegations that he paid lavish bungs to Fifa officials while lobbying them to favour Qatar………………”


No
doubt in my mind that millions in bribe money changed hands before the FIFA vote. But is that all new: from FIFA to the IOC to Formula One, among others? International sports bodies are rife with corruption and bribery, and they have been so long before Qatar became a household word in Paris. But as I always say: it takes at least two to tango.

There seems to be a trilateral alliance of interests seeking to wrest the FIFA World Cup games away from Qatar. In Britain, media and officials are reviving their old justifiable complaint about how the 2022 venue was chosen. The officials are still sore because London lost to Qatar (well, probably because of the bribes). Besides, British officials of the Cameron cabinet bend backward and forward to please the Saudi princes who are gloating over all this. Saudi media like Alarabiya are covering the controversy with relish, enjoying the embarrassment of their upstart Qatari rivals in the GCC. So is some Egyptian media, mindful of Qatari support of the 2011 revolt against Hosni Mubarak and its close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Other regional countries like Syria (where Qatari potentates support the rebel Jihadists) are also gloating. 
So much for brotherly, or is it sisterly, Arab and GCC relations. The Qataris don’t seem to have many regional allies nowadays. The Saudis and their Bahrain stooges are hostile because Doha thwarts Saudi attempts at hegemony over GCC foreign policy (it is also partly brotherly and sisterly jealousy among the ruling potentates). They have lost the biggest prize, Egypt, to the Saudi princes and Abu Dhabi shaikhs who now have their man Al Sisi in power and call the shots in Cairo. They may lose whatever influence they have in Libya and Tunisia. They have also antagonized Iraq and Syria and Iran.


Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

The Labors of Hassan Rouhani: Local Landmines, Regional Sea Mines……

      


Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Hassan Rouhani is facing the toughest test of his career, the toughest test any Iranian leader has faced in decades. Can he fulfill the promises he made to the majority that elected him by opening up the country and get the Western economic blockade lifted? He faces regional and domestic obstacles:

 

  • Israel: the debate about the Iranian nuclear ‘program’ has been a Godsend to Benyamin Netanyahu and he has been milking it for all its worth since the 1990s. He has claimed various deadlines by which time Iran would have nuclear bomb, and then he has ignored his earlier deadlines and suggested yet new dates. Top ‘retired’ Israeli intelligence and military leaders often contradict him on this. The amazing thing is that all the caca de toro has not hurt him with the Israeli electorate. Nor has it hurt his credibility in the U.S. Senate and Congress: on the contrary, the schmucks now look at him as an oracle of Middle Eastern and Iranian (especially nuclear) matters. Besides, it has served one of the purposes he used it for: for years it has helped him divert Western attention away from his problems with the Palestinians.
  • Iranian hardliners: the country needs a nuclear deal but any reasonable deal will probably have to get past these old revolutionaries. Many of them would prefer no deal but they also realize that most Iranians are young and want to open up to the world and want more freedoms and less intrusion in their private lives by the mullahs. Besides, the economy is hurting from the blockade no matter what officials claim.
  • American Hawks (Democrats and Republicans and others): when it comes to the Middle East, almost the whole Senate and Congress are hawks. Being seen as soft on the Iran negotiations is like being against “motherhood and Memorial Day and Independence Day”, and not necessarily in that order. It is like being soft on Ho Chi Minh before 1968 or accepting Chairman Mao as the legitimate leader of China before the 1970s …………

 

  • Gulf GCC: it is divided over Iran, as it is divided over many other issues. But the GCC states are divided among themselves regardless of the Iranian question. Three of them have pulled their ambassadors from Qatar because its government rejects Saudi hegemony on certain aspects of the Arab turmoil
  • Saudi Arabia: the Al Saud have been the most hawkish about both the nuclear issue and Iran’s ties to the Arab world, until recently. Failure of their policies in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon (and American advise) may have pushed them to seek some form of accommodation with Tehran. 
  • UAE: there are some divisions. Abu Dhabi potentates are hawkish but Dubai and possibly some others do not seem so. 
  • Qatar: has been concerned about balancing worrisome forces (Saudi vs. Iran). Its dispute with Iran has been mainly over Syria and possibly Iraq. But it has had more serious and more threatening disputes with the Saudis. Some Arab media even reported in recent months allegations of military threats against Qatar from the Saudi-UAE alliance. I have posted about past tensions between Qatar and the Saudis
  • Kuwait: was invaded from both Iraq and Saudi Arabia during the past century. It also uncovered at least one large Iranian espionage network in recent years. It tries not to antagonize either Saudis or Iranians, mindful of the ability of both to cause trouble. Then there is the recent past experience with Baathist Iraq………
  • Oman: has been mostly neutral and it does not seem to buy the Saudi argument about either the nuclear issue or the general “Iranian threat”. It does not seem to feel threatened. Oman was reportedly instrumental in starting the recent Iranian-American dialog last summer. 
  • Bahrain: the least important of the GCC members. Nobody cares wtf its repressive rulers think now. It has become a full-fledged Al Saud appendix and the ruling potentates do exactly as they are told. 

Cheers

mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

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


      


Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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). 

 

Cheers

mhgm.h.ghuloum@gmail.com