“asinus asinum fricat………..”
“King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has been chosen as the cultural personality of the year by the Sheikh Zayed Book Award team. Dr Ali bin Tamim, secretary general of the awards, said the decision to choose King Abdullah came as a result of his many cultural achievements…………..”
“Last year, Dr Sheikh Ahmad Al Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar mosque in Egypt, was recognised as the cultural personality of the year. An academic and researcher, he was praised for his role in adopting the moderate path and encouraging a culture of tolerance, dialogue and protection of the civil society. Dr Al Tayyeb…………”
Honorable Dr. King Custodian of the Two Holy Shrines has been chosen by Shaikhs Bin Al-Nahayan as the Cultural Personality of the year 2014. It doesn’t say if he is the cultural personality of Abu Dhabi only or of the whole United Arab Emirates (plus Saudi Arabia of course). Or maybe the cultural personality of the Gulf GCC. I suspect he was chosen as cultural personality not only of the Arab World, but of the whole wide wonderful world. To wit, the cultural personality of our planet (that would include our moon as well). Could be the cultural personality of our solar system, unless someone discovers intelligent life on one of our neighbors, possibly Uranus and preferably NOT pronounced the two syllable American way.
As for last year’s winner, Dr. Shaikh Ahmad Al Tayeb of the once venerable Al-Azhar, he was bound to win the prize, given his services to Hosni Mubarak as a functionary of his National Party. And given his political sectarian services to the petroleum princes and potentates in the past two years.
Fasten your seat belts, folks. The fun has just begun. Next year’s almost certain winner will be El Presidente Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi. Surely he has earned it in both Abu Dhabi and Riyadh………..
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
The Syrian National Coalition- SNC, the five-star Syrian opposition in exile, has just selected a new ‘president’ to replace Ahmed Al Jarba. They tried to make it look like an election, with a handful of people checking pieces of paper like ballots for the cameras. He is Hadi Al Bahri, a businessman in Saudi Arabia. He belongs to the same pro-Saudi organization as Mr. Al Jarba, the Saudi-supported “Democratic Bloc”.
Mr. Al Bahri learned all about democracy and freedom while living for decades in Saudi Arabia, watching the Wahhabi clerics and their princes in action. He is almost certain to be as avid an admirer of Saudi Wahhabi-style democracy as his predecessor. Reports indicate that now almost all members of the SNC are of Saudi choosing. All are eager to throw out Bashar Al Assad and introduce the kind of democracy that has kept the “kingdom” stable and happy.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
“The top US diplomat, who landed in the Red Sea city of Jeddah in the afternoon, also met Saudi King Abdullah a day after hosting urgent talks in Paris with the Saudi, Jordanian and UAE foreign ministers on the widening crisis in Iraq and Syria. King Abdullah has consistently called for greater US military support for the Syrian rebels, whom the Sunni Gulf kingdom has long backed. Following several signals in recent weeks by US President Barack Obama’s administration, the White House said Thursday it intends to “ramp up US support to the moderate Syrian opposition”……….. Ahmad Jarba, leader of the Syrian National Coalition, welcomed the huge US boost to his forces, battling to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “The situation is very grave and there are sectarian leaders ruling the country so we have to have greater efforts on the part of the US and regional powers to address the situation in Iraq,” Jarba said. Kerry said “the moderate opposition in Syria… has the ability to be a very important player in pushing back against (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) ISIL’s presence… not just in Syria, but also in Iraq“………….”
Secretary Kerry’s statement about the role of the Syrian opposition in solving the Iraq crisis makes little sense here. It is like the advice about taking “a bit of the hair of the dog that bit you“. He is bent on going the old route he was warned off for the past year or two. He seems to have just bought some more of the Saudi snake oil about arming and further empowering the Syrian opposition militias.
The Wahhabi opposition in Syria got their start, their money and their ‘seed weapons’, from the same countries Mr. Kerry has been visiting this past week. The sources were on the Gulf, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. Much of the weapons that got the Jihadists their “booty” in land and property and hostages and death is American and European. Weapons supplied by these same governments to the “Syrian opposition” seeking to “liberate” Syria: in one case for the tender mercies of the Wahhabi doctrine, in the other case for the dubious rule of the Muslim Brotherhood. Arming and funding the Syrian militias will not increase the chances of peace in either Syria or Iraq. It is an invitation, nay a recipe, to keep the Syrian civil war going and to increase the sectarian unrest inside Iraq.
Mr. Jarba is reported to be heading to the door: apparently he will soon be out of the Syrian National Coalition, according to media reports. Either he saw the futility of his position or he is being booted by the Saudi princes who will now have to appoint another man of their choosing to lead the “liberation” of Syria for the Wahhabi cause. Moreover, there are Arab reports that the “general” who heads the allegedly Free Syrian Salafi Army, the man appointed and anointed as the Napoleon of the Syrian-Turkish border, will be officially sacked.
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.