Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

Mystery of the Disappearing Arab Princes in Europe………

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“Saudi Arabia’s missing princes. In the last two years, three Saudi princes living in Europe have disappeared. All were critical of the Saudi government – and there is evidence that all were abducted and flown back to Saudi Arabia… where nothing further has been heard from them………. Sultan refuses, at which point Abdulaziz excuses himself to make a phone call. The other man in the room, the Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Sheikh Saleh al-Sheikh, leaves too and after a few moments masked men rush in. They beat Sultan and handcuff him, then a needle is plunged into his neck. Unconscious, Sultan is rushed to Geneva airport – and carried on to a Medevac plane that is conveniently waiting on the tarmac……….”
BBC News

The most famous case of a Saudi citizen disappearing abroad occurred in Beirut, many years ago. Nasser Al Saeed was a famous regime opponent and Pan-Arabist. But he was a commoner in exile, who was almost certainly kidnapped and murdered and buried in Lebanon.

Now, under the current father-son rule, even some princes are beginning to vanish across Europe. But then again, does anyone know what happened to the former Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef who was deposed last month, was reported to be under house arrest? He has vanished in the Gulag that has absorbed many ordinary citizens, although he lives under better conditions of house arrest.

Revolutions are known to end up devouring their sons and daughters, from France (Danton, Robespierre) to Russia (Trotsky, Zinoviev, Bukharin) to Iran (uncounted revolutionaries both communist, secular, and theocratic). Now the Saudi case is different: it is a throwback to a much earlier era of plotting kings and princes. An absolute monarchy eating its own sons (sorry, no daughters: verboten).

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

The Body Snatchers of Arabia: It Is Not Just ISIS……

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“The families of 14 Saudi Arabian men sentenced to death fear that they are at risk of execution after they were transferred to Riyadh on 15 July. The men were sentenced to death on 1 June 2016 after a grossly unfair trial based on “confessions” they said were obtained under torture


I have been reading Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and other reports that Saudi Arabia plans to execute 14 young Saudi (Shi’a) men by beheading and/or crucifixion. Any day now. The princes have accelerated the rate of executions of Shi’a men specifically as a political tool to stifle protests, and there is fear that other Persian Gulf states may follow their example.

Saudi Arabia has a peculiar way of dealing with those it executes. Especially if they are Shi’a. In fairness, others get executed as well, and not only for staging public protests. Some are considered sorcerers or users of magic and witchcraft. Some of them are even convicted killers, although the method of obtaining confessions is not considered up to acceptable humane standards.

Wahhabis who plan to join terrorist groups are often sent to re-education schools. They are allowed to pretend that they have reformed, given jobs, and even encouraged to take appropriate Wahhabi wives. Their weddings are financed by the regime. But not the Shi’as.

Execution for men is done in public squares, by beheading and/or crucifixion. Nobody knows when someone will be executed, they announce it after the fact. And the Shi’a bodies are never returned to their loved ones.
All civilized regimes announce the date of execution. Even not so-civilized regimes usually return the bodies of those executed to their families. That is a human right.


Saudi Arabia often returns most bodies of those executed, unless they are Shi’a. This has been a consistent policy. Shaikh Nimr Al Nimr, the Shi’a dissident cleric was executed by beheading in January 2016, but his body was never returned to his family. Other Shi’a, Saudi or foreigner, faced the same fate. Years ago about 16 Kuwait Shi’as were beheaded on charges of plotting. Their bodies were never returned to their country or to their families. There have been other cases. And I know the Saudis do not use these bodies as (practice) cadavers for their medical students.

They usually just announce that so many were executed, a day after the fact. The bodies are presumably thrown in some hole in the desert.

The Caliphate of ISIS also does that sort of body snatching…..

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

GCC Crisis: Are There Cracks in the Anti-Qatari Gulf Axis?……..

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Saudi and other Arab media report that the countries blockading Qatar in the Persian Gulf have decided to extend their deadline for 48 hours. The Emir of Kuwait is usually sensibly neutral in regional disputes, like Oman usually is, and he has been handling intermediation between the two sides.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and the Empire of Bahrain (the latter always unquestionably on the Saudi side) had said their deadline for Qatar to give in to Saudi hegemony would end on this Sunday (July 2). They call it “Qatari sponsorship of terrorism”, knowing that the word “terrorism” has a Pavlovian effect on American leaders and politicians, s well as the media.
Yet not a single Qatari was involved in the major terrorist attacks in the West, as far as I know (too many Saudis and even some Bahrainis have been involved). But in the past they have helped Hamas in Gaza, which is listed as a terrorist group by the United States. Meanwhile a huge number of Al Qaeda and ISIS Jihadis are Saudis (with some even from little Bahrain).

The foreign ministers of the four “axis” countries were supposed to meet Monday in Cairo to make the appropriate noises and threats to get the stubborn Emir of Qatar to cry “uncle”. Perhaps if they roar some more, instead of their usual whining, the Qataris may be impressed and give in.

Still, it is hard to see anyone being intimidated by the little Saudi Foreign Minister Adle Al Jubeir or the corpulent Bahrain FM Al Khalifa (inevitably), or any of the others (including Al Sisi for that matter unless one is in Egypt).


But there is one odd thing these days that is worth keeping an eye on, also mentioned by other Arab observers. The UAE foreign minister Abdullah Bin Zayed, a normally influential brother of the Abu Dhabi leader, has been recently silent about the whole Qatari affair. At least he has not commented for several days, leaving the stage for a lower-ranked minister of state (Gargash) to do the nasty Twitter Trump-like job on the Qataris.

Stay tuned: there may be some surprising signs of discord in Abu Dhabi as no doubt there is in Riyadh about this whole adventure against the Qatar ruling class. As there probably has been about the messy failed bloody adventure in Yemen.
Maybe: things are not kept secret for long on the Gulf…..

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Price of Protest: Donald Trump’s Terrific Arabian Sectarian Gauleiter of the Death Machine………

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“Saudi Arabia should immediately quash the death sentences of 14 members of the Shia community for protest-related crimes, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. The Court of Appeal of the notorious Specialized Criminal Court upheld the sentences in May 2017, after they were handed down a year ago on June 1, 2016, following a grossly unfair trial of 24 Saudi Shia citizens. The Specialized Criminal Court is Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism tribunal. “The rise in death sentences against Saudi Arabian Shia is alarming and suggests that the authorities are using the death penalty to settle scores and crush dissent under the guise of combating ‘terrorism’ and maintaining national security,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch……..”

So, Donald Trump’s Terrific (his word) Sectarian Arabian Death Machine grinds on. His doomed Persian Gulf royal Gauleiter of the chopping block….

As I tweeted last week: if this were some other country, one that would not spend hundreds of billions on weapons imports, the US Congress and the Senate will be passing resolutions. Fox, CNN, and the rest of the media would be headlining, beating the drums of more sanctions. Even David Ignatius would suspend his quarterly Washington Post article in praise of the absolute King and his princes Ayatollahs ….

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Ugly Travelers: Wilbur Ross and His Boss Do Riyadh with No Protests, Is America Doomed?………

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“Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday he was heartened by the absence of even a single protester during President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia over the weekend…… ‘I think the other thing that was fascinating to me, there was not a single hint of a protestor anywhere there during the whole time we were there, not one guy with a bad placard….…”


Wilbur, if you had asked, perhaps even the orange Mr. ED could tell you what is going on.

Why no protests in Riyadh? There are no rights of speech or expression or religion in the Kingdom. But there are many more protesters than you can imagine, but it is all in the heart. Those who did actually protest or would protest or are suspected of possibly thinking of protesting are in prison, in dungeons, being flogged, dead, or in exile.

Oh, and welcome home soon to the land of protests and placards and the First Amendment….. Remember, Mr. Wilbur Al Wahhabi, there are many people who move to the USA because they can protest publicly without being severely punished…..

No, America is not doomed, this is just a nightmare, shameless panderers like Wilbur and his boss are part of a nightmare from which all will wake up soon………

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

Ignorant Abroad: is Trump Encouraging a Foolish Prince to Start a Sectarian War in the Persian Gulf?……..

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“Iran is Salman’s top issue. This month, Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave an interview condemning Iran in extremely harsh sectarian terms. The prince, the king’s favorite son, characterized the Iranian Islamic Republic as being driven by messianic prophecies and determined to dominate the entire Islamic community. He claimed that Iran sought to take control of Mecca from the kingdom. There was no room for dialogue with Tehran, according to his statement. Indeed, the prince promised that the kingdom will fight its war against Iran inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia. He was vague about what that means, but it suggests he supports regime change in Tehran. It was one of the most virulent public attacks on Iran ever by the House of Saud. The royal family is eager for American support against Iran in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. The Saudi leaders face a more skeptical domestic audience. The new Trump administration is widely seen by the public in the Arab world as an enemy of Islam. A poll of Saudis in November showed overwhelming support for Hillary Clinton and only 6% for Trump. There will be no demonstrations against the president in a police state……….” Al Monitor

This past week the Middle East, especially the Persian Gulf region, was pushed closer to a direct sectarian war by a spoiled young Saudi prince. He may have aroused and provoked religious passions that are hard to subdue.

He is the favorite son of Saudi Arabia’s king Salman, also his Defense Minister, Crown Prince to the Crown Prince, and Heir Apparent, among many other royal positions. Not exactly an Arab Kim Jong Un, but: he shocked the Middle East this past week by threatening to wage war on Iran. In effect the Wahhabi prince has threatened to attack Iran, start an unprovoked war. Mainly because the wily Iranians have outsmarted him in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. He is inviting them to outsmart him again, which they might do if history is any guide.

What is worse, the under-educated prince also threw in a scathing sectarian attack on the Shi’a faith itself, mocking it and its followers in general. That includes millions of Arabs and other Muslims. Something Iranian leaders never do to other Muslims or people of any other “major” faith, not even to Wahhabis, at least not in public. He is almost setting the stage for a region-wide sectarian war that he seems to believe Donald Trump will support. A foolish notion: the United States should stay out of it.

This happened soon after his visit with Donald Trump at the White House, which smells fishy to many people in the region. Some independent Arab media claim it is part of a plan hatched in Washington. Iran has only threatened to wage war if attacked or threatened first. Which makes the prince’s threats odd, given that Saudi Arabia can’t even defeat poor under-armed Yemen, even with heavy American and British logistical and intelligence support.

The Iranian strategy has been defensive for almost two centuries. They don’t have access to the sophisticated Western warplanes and the Western support personnel that the Saudis have. But then they did not have access to the fancy weapons Saddam Hussein had when he attacked them in 1980 (with Saudi help), and they won that war. They have been under an American siege of several decades; they still are, regardless of the Nuclear Deal. Their deterrence depends heavily on air defense systems and, very important, on a huge arsenal of home-made advanced missiles that can retaliate by taking the war to the enemy.
That explains their attachment to missiles, not the desire to attack Europe or North America as Netanyahu and some of the Arab potentates and their lobbyists claim to the West.


The Iranian foreign minister (Zarif) answered the Saudi prince’s threat of an aggressive war by talking calmly of a peaceful resolution. But the Iranian defense minister answered with a strong warning that no Saudi city will be safe if they attack Iran. He excluded the holy cities of Mecca and Medinah.

So if the Saudis start an air attack with their expensive American toys, expect all their royal princes and princesses to be huddled in the only safe places in the kingdom: Mecca and Medinah. An enforced terrifying version of the Umrah pilgrimage.


Question is: does anyone around Donald Trump know the kind of sectarian passions this prince has stirred? Does Trump really want to get involved in this new Wahhabi religious war? Does he know what it is all about? Are those around him foolish enough?

Ich weiss nicht…..

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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

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“Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief,” Hillel Neuer said.


Saudi Arabia was elected to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The addition of the Gulf nation was first flagged by UN Watch, a nongovernmental body that monitors the United Nations. The Commission on the Status of Women’s main mission is to assess the challenges to reaching gender inequality, according to the U.N. website. The organization’s executive director slammed the election, which occurred in a secret vote during the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council. Neuer called the election “absurd,”……..

This is a serious news item, it is not a joke. It is a farce, like everything involving Saudi Arabia and the United Nations and its Human Rights Council. But it is not a joke: done in the dark of the night, in a secret vote, no doubt a Fatwa engineered by a shameless Nikki Haley and the humorous British ambassador to the UN.
It is getting even better: the Misogynous Humorless Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a top U.S. ally, is also on the U.N. Human Rights Council.


Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

America and the Saudis: Current ‘Operations’ in Yemen and Syria to Become the Next Endless War………

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“Yemen is a war inside a war inside another war, right next to & overlapping several other wars”  Me

“The Yemeni branch of al-Qaeda (AQ) is stronger than it has ever been. As the country’s civil war has escalated and become regionalised, its local franchise, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), is thriving in an environment of state collapse, growing sectarianism, shifting alliances, security vacuums and a burgeoning war economy. Reversing this trend requires ending the conflict that set it in motion. This means securing an overarching political settlement that has buy-in from the country’s diverse constituencies, including Sunni Islamists. As this will take time, steps must be taken now to contain AQAP’s growth……..” Crisis Group

“The attack (in Aden) struck troops loyal to the airport’s chief of security, who had refused to accept a government order that he be replaced. The incident was yet another sign of the inability of Yemen’s internationally recognized government to enforce order. But it was the first time its allies, the coalition of mostly Gulf Arab states, had intervened militarily in power struggles within the Yemeni armed forces. The Saudi-led coalition has launched thousands of air strikes against the government’s foes, the Iran-allied Houthis, in a campaign to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power. It helped wrest Aden from the Houthis, who control the capital, Sanaa, in the summer of 2015……….” Reuters

During his first week on the job White House spokesman Sean Spicer claimed that Iranian forces had fired missile at the US Navy from Yemen on the Red Sea. An un-truth, since there are no Iranian forces in Yemen: the only foreign forces in Yemen are with the Saudi coalition. Actually the Yemeni Houthis who control the capital and North Yemen had fired a missile (or was it a Yemeni drone that fired) at a Saudi warship that had been shelling their coastal towns. The Saudis claimed it was a suicide attack against one of their ‘peaceful warships’ (you don’t need to read Orwell to speak Orwellian).

This week, on Monday, President Trump had a lunch meeting with the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. He is the king’s son and widely expected future king, if his dad can swing it before he dies. He is also the minister of defense and architecture of the War on Yemen, a quagmire which just entered its third year. The Yemen war has enabled AQAP to expand in spite of American drone attacks. The war also introduced Islamic State (Daesh/ISIS) into Southern Arabia.

It is likely the Prince may have talked Trump into a more vigorous America role in the Saudi war on Yemen. Perhaps a more direct US role, this time not against the Jihadis, but against the coalition ruling most of Yemen. Which would be an act of desperation, since the Saudis have some of the best and most lethal American and British weapons and could not defeat the lightly armed Houthis and their allies ruling Sanaa. It would be just another never-ending Muslim war. Another twilight war.

The announcement indicated the Saudis will invest $ 200 billion in the United States (presumably new money). The prince also is quoted as having said that he supports the Muslim Travel Ban and that “Trump is a true friend of Muslims“. Such shameless groveling may indicate they got something from Trump: perhaps a promise to inch closer to the Mother of All Muslim Wars, a war of choice against Iran. That should be a doozy: it will certainly last through Trump’s tenure and will define his so-far unpromising legacy. The Prince may have gotten promises related to Syria, particularly Eastern Syria, or Iraq or Lebanon: risky promises the inexperienced Trump could have made in the absence of his secretaries of State and Defense.

As for Yemen, it is not “a” war, it  is a complex set of parallel and intersecting wars. I once called it “a war inside a war inside another war, right next to & overlapping several other wars”. Now even the Saudi proxies (mostly Islah Muslim Brotherhood and allies) and the UAE proxies are fighting each other. You get into Yemen, you get involved in all these wars and sub-wars. You can’t pick and choose in such a battlefield.

And you get stuck, losing soldiers and money, a lot of money, just like the Saudis have for more than two years, so far. Like Afghanistan all over again, only a fiercer war.

Back to the promise of $200 billion Saudi investments. I am not sure they can afford this when they are cutting back on their domestic spending. Maybe by moving funds from their sovereign fund that SAMA manages. And can you imagine Donald Trump touting it in, say Tennessee or Alabama, bragging to his Muslim-challenged ‘base’ they he’s gotten Muslims (and Wahhabis at that) to pay out hundreds of billions?

Interesting times coming soon to a war theater far away from you.

Cheers
M. 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