Tag Archives: USA

Yemen: Hadi Escapes again, the Bought Coalition Shrinks in Stature…….

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Yemen is becoming more complicated, as civil-proxy wars are wont to become. Yemen is also being set back about a century, through destruction by native rivals and foreign Arab invaders. The Saudi-United Arab Emirates (UAE) bombers/invaders have acquired, bought or rented, a gaggle of questionable hungry allies (Sudan, Eritrea, humorless Jordan, among other Arab payees). The Western powers, especially the US and Britain, are also helping the attackers.  They are siding against the wild Houthis and the Yemeni army, the side that fights Al-Qaeda (AQAP) and the Islamic State. The Westerners don’t get paid directly, but they expect fat contracts from the Saudis and Emiratis for weapons and their services.

Now, in the service of the Saudi princes, the two Western powers are direct war allies of Sudan, whose dictator has been convicted by the ICC and is a wanted war criminal. The Sudanese soldiers under dictator Omar Al Bashir are probably among the least professional in the Arab world, and have a well-deserved reputation for raping and pillaging in their own country. And they are being used in the contested and divided city of Aden.

Now there are also some media reports of the UAE recruiting more Colombian mercenaries to send into the parts of Aden they are trying control. UAE, with a tiny citizen population of about one million who are unwilling to fight abroad, had started to hire a largely Colombian mercenary army after the Arab uprisings of 2011. Now some of these are reportedly poised to enter Yemen, if they re not there already.

To further complicate matters, or perhaps simplify them depending on your point of view, two new not-unexpected developments have occurred. Deposed former president Generalissimo Hadi Bin Zombie and his prime minister Bahah had managed to be flown into Aden by the Saudis. But the much-publicized return did not last. Soon both Bahah and Hadi fled Aden again to the safety of their Saudi hotels in Riyadh.

In the meantime, the Yemenis are countering the Saudi-UAE bombing and attempted invasion of their country in their own favorite way. They are making successful incursions into Saudi territory, often ejecting the inept Saudi garrisons and controlling towns and villages (that used to be part of Yemen some eighty years ago).
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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War on Yemen: Neither Shock Nor Awe, Allah Be Praised and Alhamdulillah……..

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“The US Navy has sent two warships to Yemeni waters to conduct ‘maritime security operations.’ However, Washington denies they have been sent to intercept an alleged Iranian naval convoy carrying weapons for Houthi anti-government forces. The Pentagon said in a statement on Monday that the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and its escort cruiser USS Normandy have transited from the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea on April 19. “Theodore Roosevelt and Normandy have joined other US forces conducting maritime security operations in the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb and the Southern Red Sea,” the statement reads………………”

They have called their air assault on Yemen Decisive Storm, a cheaper imitation of Desert Storm, what Americans usually call the Persian Gulf War. But this operation has been anything but decisive: early on I correctly called it Faltering Storm.

Don’t expect the Saudi King, or a gaggle of other Arab princes and potentates and kleptocrats in military garb to soon land on some battleship, with a huge sign behind them proclaiming: “Mission Accomplished. Alhamdulillah: Allah be Praised

There has been no Shock or Awe in the war on Yemen. What has happened was what was expected by anyone but the delusional attackers. It was always known that Yemen is no match for the best warplanes and missiles the West can manufacture and sell, nor for the best electronic and communications and tracking devices the West can sell. Almost nobody outside the delusional cities of Riyadh or Abu Dhabi or Doha expected the one-sided air war to achieve any goals, besides destruction of Yemen’s poor infrastructure. 

It has also been generally known that the attackers are no match for the Yemenis, Houthi and allies, on the ground. That the rugged land of Yemen could chew them up and spit them out. That is why they have been seeking paid mercenary forces from faraway poor places as cannon fodder.

It has been almost a month of bombing now, with the rich petro-princes throwing everything at the lightly armed Houthis and their allies. Whatever goal they had for their assault has not been achieved. The Houthis are as defiant as they were months ago, perhaps more now that their civilians have been murdered by the hundreds, perhaps by the thousands. The brotherly and sisterly attackers have no option now but to continue the bombing until some face-saving formula is offered or give up.

The Western powers are willing to resupply the weapons, provide more intelligence, send more warships, clamp more sanctions. All for a price. There is talk of American mid-air tankers feuling Saudi warplanes so that they can destroy more Yemeni homes faster. New ships are being sent to the Yemeni region, both American and Iranian. The USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, no less, seems ready to join the Saudi bombing of Yemen. Which would put Mr. Obama even more squarely on the side of aggression. The bombings are becoming more ferocious, more insistent, more desperate.

A long war of attrition of the kind that invaders usually don’t win.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Fog of War: Iraqi Militias, American Militias, Mercenary Militias……..

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Militias have suddenly retaken the center stage in media and in public official discussions of recent developments in Iraq. Apparently Shi’a ‘militias’ are now taking an important role in the Iraqi counteroffensive against the terrorists of the so-called Islamic State, ISIS.

There is no denying that some of the Iraqi Shi’a militias can be as nasty as the other armed factions in Iraq. The experience of the mini-civil-war of 2006-2008 showed that. But they are in no way comparable to the Wahhabi cutthroats of Al Qaeda or ISIS, regardless of the nonsensical stuff Gen. Petraeus said recently. Yet there is now a bigger storm of foreign criticism of Iraqis hiring or allowing ‘militias’ to fight government battles. This is especially true in the United States.

Yet hiring and/or using private militias is a worldwide phenomenon in this era of war-for-profit. Apparently there is no stigma on hiring private militias if the militias are Westerners and those who hire them are Western governments. Both the Bush and Obama administrations have been known and reported  to rely on private contractors (the Western equivalent of militias) in battle zones. We have read about the American millionaires that were made in Iraq. So, the complaints about Iraqis using militias when they have an army of 200 or 300 thousand sound hypocritical and hollow. The United States has a standing military of millions, yet there is increased dependence on contractors in military zones and even in protecting diplomats and high military officials (as reportedly happened in Iraq).

I shall not speak extensively here about those other hired foreign militias down the Persian Gulf. They are hired by the princes and potentates from humorless places like Jordan, often through the government and certainly with its approval, as well as from Pakistan and other distant lands. These are used to keep the people repressed in such places, and to conduct thorough and ‘enhanced interrogations’ of the restive ones among the native populations. So it can be irksome that princes and potentates who hire foreign mercenaries (essentially militias) to torment their own people complain about Iraqi militias.

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

American Education: from Czechoslovakia to Houthi……….

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Poor American public. They had thought Ahmadinejad was a tough one to pronounce. Was just beginning to get comfortable with him, if that is possible, when our region provided new distractions. They had to learn how (not) to say Shi’a (or Shi’ite) and how to spell AlZarqawi and Abu Bakr Al Samarrai. Now with Yemen in the headlines they have been hit with how to pronounce ‘Houthi‘, which makes any American feel like they have a sore throat and maybe streptococcus (only if they say it the correct way).

But that is okay. A people that weathered Dzhugashvili (remember Joe?) and Czechoslovakia (phew, that one is over) and Shevardnadze (so is he) and Brzezinski and Gronkowski (of the losing team of upcoming Super Bowl XLIX) can learn to spell and pronounce anything, especially simpler Muslim names like mine and ours……….
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Middle East Love-Hate: Iran and America, Islamic Republic Blues………..

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“One of the reasons this episode is deeply confusing might be because the “vibe” in Iran, the general feeling of walking down the streets, through the markets, the way we were received everywhere by total strangers and passersby, was overwhelmingly friendly. I have said that Iran is the most outgoingly warm, “pro-American” place we’ve ever shot—and that’s true: in Tehran, in spite of the fact that you are standing in front of a giant, snarling mural that reads “DEATH TO AMERICA!”, you will, we found, usually be treated better by strangers—meaning smiles, offers of assistance, curious attempts to engage in limited English, greetings and expressions of general good will—than anywhere in Western Europe, It would be hard to imagine strangers in Germany or France or England, on recognizing you as American, giving you a thumbs-up and a smile simply for your nationality. That was overwhelmingly the case in Iran…………”

This is a love-hate relationship: more love on the popular level, more hate on the political level. I have seen it in the Middle East and even among some Iranians in America. Many Iranians dislike American foreign policies in the region. They especially hate the unilateral economic blockade that they correctly believe Israeli leaders and their American political allies have pressured and browbeat Mr. Obama into imposing on their country.

Many mullahs and hardliners also naturally suspect and fear an opening to America. After all, they see how China has changed under Chairman Mao’s heirs so that it is now a “people’s republic” and “communist” only in name. Can the “Islamic Republic” be far behind? Probably not: many people in Iranian cities hope so. It is already changing profoundly from the inside.

Iran still probably has the most pro-American people in the whole Middle East. Many Iranians have relations, family ties, among the huge Iranian-American diaspora. They are also a relatively young population reacting to an orthodoxy their government has tried to impose on them, with waning success. They welcome mainstream American journalists who often visit, then go back home and declare their undying support for the economic blockade. (No surprise there: few if any would dare declaring against the sanctions and keep their jobs with the New York Times or Washington Post). Talking on a popular level, not on a government level: most mullahs and Revolutionary Guards are hardly pro-anything American and the U.S. Knesset Congress is violently anti-Iranian.

It is different from the Israelis that media propaganda here routinely picture as the most pro-American. Maybe they mean some shared ‘Western’ political and social values, and in many cases shared citizenship. Maybe the Mossad and the CIA and the military have some close cooperation, maybe, but that is government. The Israeli ties also reflect a degree of dependence, what many Muslims see as a one-way street that is often shaped by domestic American politics.

Nor do many others in the region feel friendly toward American policies. After all, the biggest attacks on the American homeland were planned and executed mainly by terrorists from two major allied Middle East countries. No doubt more are being planned and thwarted even now.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Cyber Wars as Great Equalizers: Tit for Tat?……….

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Oct 28, 2014:“”The first cyberattack, codenamed Olympic Games, was carried out on Natanz and was declared by the US President, but it met our heavy (defensive) response,” Jalali told reporters in a press conference in Tehran on Tuesday. The senior commander said the US changed its cyber commander following the failure in the cyberattack on Natanz, adding that the US general was forced to retire several months ago “due to the wrong information and data that he had presented to President Obama”…………  The disclosures about Obama’s role in the cyberwar against Iran appear to show beyond doubt that the US, with the help of Israel, was behind the Stuxnet virus attack on Iran’s centrifuge machines – used to enrich uranium. The revelation then indicated that Washington and Tel Aviv were also behind the Flamer and Duqu virus attacks………..”

This just came out of Iran, out of the blue. Nothing new here about the American-Israeli cyber war on Iran. Nor about the Iranian counter cyber war. Live by cyber war, die by cyber war. American and Saudi and possibly other ‘systems’ have also been hacked by foreign malware. Could be by Iranians, or Chinese or Russians. Could be Martians or Cryptonians doing it, for all the evidence that we have. Nobody can prove anything. Could be proverbial young hackers in a proverbial garage in California doing it all. The beauty of it is that there never is any proof, no casus belli. Tit for tat, tat for tit.

Cyber wars are the great equalizer of our time, I have opined in the past. This is one war no side can claim to have supremacy in, not for long anyway. If they can send malware into your system, chances they are also capable of creating defenses against your malware. A source in Shiraz or Belize can do as much harm as a source in Tel Aviv or Boston or Novosibirsk. And the beat goes on, will go on, pending some future international convention by all sides equally to mutually cease and desist.

JOHN BOLTON’S GIFT TO IRAN: THE CHICKENHAWK AND THE CYBER MULLAHS………

A LOSING CYBER BATTLE: DID PUTIN DECLARE WAR ON THE INTERNET?……
FROM NUCLEAR ASSASSINATION TO CYBER ASSASSINATION?………
CYBER JINGOISM: CYBERSECURITY, CYBER WARS, AND THE NEW CYBER POWERS………
CYBER WARS: MALWARE, MAHDI, AND HAIL MARY IN IRAN AND ISRAEL………
ISRAEL AND THE WEST: ONLY ARAB AND MUSLIM HACKING IS TERRORISM, OURS IS KOSHER………
DUQU HITS IRAN: VIRUS DU JOUR BEATS A SHOOTING WAR………


Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum


m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Middle East Executions: Some Are More Equal Than Others…….

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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The Iranian courts execute many people every year, too many. Many of them are probably drug dealers and drug runners from across the border, but there are many others strung up every year. Too many: when it comes to official state murder that is called capital punishment, even one is too many. Iran probably comes after China and before Saudi Arabia, but that is an issue of population size. Nobody knows about North Korea but I suspect they execute more people than Texas would like to. Hopefully they kill them faster than Oklahoma did last time they tried it with that botched injection that tortured the man for a long time.  

Knee-jerk reaction in the West about judicial executions in Iran is expected, it is normal. It is reciprocated by similar knee-jerk reaction from the Iranian mullahs who never tire of gleefully noting the extremely high U.S. rate and share of world incarceration. These executions are routinely condemned by the U.S. government, and maybe by one or two other European countries and maybe by the petroleum government of Mr. Harper in Canada. They are well-publicized in Western media, more than any other executions elsewhere in the world. More than the large number of men and women who are beheaded and crucified in Saudi Arabia. The latter are probably never officially condemned in Washington or Paris.

This weekend the Qatari, Saudi, and Emirati media joined the ISIS cutthroats and other Wahhabis in condemning the execution of the Iranian woman. Imagine, funny regimes that behead and crucify and stone are criticizing a hanging in Iran (FYI: as I noted they have too many hangings in Iran each year). Wahhabi polygamous ‘activists’, who justify sex slavery and taking and selling captive female concubines in Syria and Iraq condemn the execution of a woman in Iran. Some of the most sectarian bunch on the face of the planet are now claiming it was a sectarian execution. 

Wherever it survives, capital punishment should be eradicated. Something should also be done about those many millions who are in prison in China and the United States, many of them convicted for committing non-violent crimes and for simply not affording good lawyers.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Ebola and American Sectarianism: the Politicization of Everything……..

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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“We buy shit we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like….” George Carlin

In these divisive and divided times there is hardly anything, any event, or any phenomenon that is not politicized in America. It is almost like the country is reliving the 1860 campaign of Lincoln: it is deeply divided along political, economic,and cultural lines. That makes the politics venomous in election years, almost sectarian, to use a Middle Eastern reality that many Americans have discovered in the past decade or so. It continues in other years which are not election years but have become pre-election and post-election years. There is so much fuel, so much money to spend on politics: buying candidates, buying expensive airtime on the Boob Tube, and effectively buying voters by financing their favorite television shows.

People here are so busy defeating the terrorists by overworking in order to keep up and to buy more goods and gadgets (some call it more stuff, others call it more shit). That was how George W. Bush succinctly expressed one part of his strategy to defeat terrorism after September 2001: go shopping. So between work and other distractions the people have no time to think politically. They emulate corporations that have outsourced their jobs, factories and customer services, mostly to Asia. Many American voters have now outsourced their political thinking to the television sound-bite industry. I suspect that in many cases the last catchy sound bite on the last weekend before the election wins it all.

As per a decision of the Supreme Court of the USA, money has more than equal freedom of speech and political expression (Citizens United). “Corporations are people, my friend” intoned the Least Interesting Man in the World during the 2012 presidential campaign. So, the politics go viral, more than ever before: the country is divided and money is not a constraint anymore.
Some state governors, ambitious and/or terrified of looming elections, decide that Ebola suspects should be completely quarantined in their states. Other politicians, many from the party that is out of the White House, talk of banning flights from West Africa. Then they wait for their rivals to supply the wrong sound bite and provide a political edge.

In this era, nothing is sacred: from God to National Security to Death. Everything is being politicized: first God, then War, then health care, and now Ebola. Even the HIV/AIDS scare was never so politicized in its heyday. Only sports seem to have stayed above the fray, so far………


Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Final Iteration of the Free Syrian Army: End of a Wahhabi Shill in Syria……….

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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“For most of the three years of the Syrian conflict, the U.S. ground game hinged on rebel militias that are loosely affiliated under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, or FSA. Their problems were no secret: a lack of cohesion, uneven fighting skills and frequent battlefield coordination with the al Qaida loyalists of the Nusra Front. This time, Allen said, the United States and its allies will work to strengthen the political opposition and make sure it’s tied to “a credible field force” that will have undergone an intense vetting process. “It’s not going to happen immediately,” Allen said……………..”

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) was from the beginning mainly a creation of foreign Arabs. Almost like the various iterations of the Syrian National Coalition (or Council) that hung around the luxury hotels of Istanbul and Qatar and Abu Dhabi. Keeping close to the sources of money, close to the royal forces of absolute counter-revolution and intolerance in the Arab world.

I called it in 2011 the Free Syrian Salafi Army, knowing were the support and the money and eventually the flow of men was coming from. As the Syrian conflict continued, it became clearer what the FSA was, in spite of royal Arab media on the Persian Gulf raising it to the level o a “liberation” army. They celebrated every colonel and sergeant and corporal who “defected” and hung around the Turkish border.

Yet the FSA became a shill for the true goal of the Wahhabis, and that became clearer with every passing month. It was the others that dominated the field with the FSA doing the cheerleading and excusing. The Jabhat Al-Nusra (I called them from the very beginning Jabhat Al-Qaeda) and the Ahrar Al-Sham, and all the Abu Al-WTF, and Jaish Al-Salafi and Ansar Al McCain, among others. FSA was ineffectual in the field. It became more like a Public Relations arm of the Salafis, defending acts of beheading and desecration and kidnappings of civilians.

Of course, the frustrated Saudis tried a ‘reset’ in Syria in 2013, when they attempted  to create their very own Army of Islam in Syria, along the (humorless) Jordanian border. Probably something like the old Ikhwan Wahhabi militias of their father Sultan King Andulaziz Ibn Saud. But it is hard to imagine any Islamist ‘zealots’ anywhere fighting for the glory of the Al Saud princes and princelings, even if they were well-paid. Predictably it did not get anywhere, so they reportedly focused again on a Jordanian (hence also by necessity also humorless) option.

This is apparently the last and final iteration of the FSA. I am doubtful that this new American ‘reset’ can be as effective as needed against ISIS, especially if the Saudis and Emiratis and Qataris are part of the game, the ‘ground’ game. It is like resorting to “a bit of the hair of the dog that bit you” but much less reliable. They will screw it up again, as only they know how to do, speaking militarily.


Logically, strategically, but probably not politically, the best allies to encircle and defeat the Caliphate of ISIS are the Iraqis and the Syrians. I mean the official armed forces. Do I here a collective gasp from Washington to Riyadh?

Imagine, General Whatishisname, formerly of West Point and Army War College, calling up former enemy Brigadier Qassem Suleimani of Al Quds Brigade and discussing campaign strategy in Iraq and Syria! Suleimani, assuming his pious masters are amenable, will also do as his American counterparts will do. He will grimace and take the call.

Enough to give any potentate in Riyadh or Abu Dhabi a royal tribal kleptocratic infarct. Enough to give many in the newly-to-be-elected U.S Congress some lobbyist-financed and inspired palpitations.

It is unlikely to happen, but the sheer amusement of thinking about it……………

Cheers
MHG

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

1. Blame Game Saga from the Caliphate to the U.S. Congress………

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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The Middle East Iraq-Syria blame game has gotten frantic in the past few months, since the fall of Mosul. Yet almost nobody in the region between the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean is innocent of blame. First, the American stance:

  • American politicians have shifted the blame for the Iraqi mess to Iraqis themselves, which is fair enough but up to a point. Keep in mind that almost everybody else in the region is meddling in Iraqi affairs and should get some of the blame.
  • Over the past few months, American blame has focused on former prime minister Al Maliki. If only Al Maliki would/could do certain things, then everything would be fine in Iraq. Now he is out of his old office.
  • Americans also blame other Americans, a favorite political pastime. President Obama is handed the biggest share of the blame. Mainly for failing to keep U.S. troops in Iraq beyond 2011, which is the date agreed to between Al Maliki and George W Bush.
  • Republicans especially prefer to blame Obama for the mess in Iraq, but in fairness they also blame him for everything else under the sun. Including possibly the Ebola epidemic as well as Benghazi, Benghazi. On the up side, they don’t blame him for global warming, because they don’t believe in it.
  • Democrats prefer to blame Al Assad, Al Maliki, and the Republican House of representatives.
  • Speaking of Benghazi, Hillary Clinton is edging toward blaming Obama as she weighs her options for 2016. She would rather not travel anywhere near the Middle East these days, not for another two years.
  • Jingoists like John McCain and his allies blame it all on the reluctance of the Obama administration to join the Syrian civil war. It is this ‘wussiness’, they assert, that has led to the emergence of the Wahhabi-Baathist Caliphate across the Iraqi-Syrian border.
  • Fox News blames the whole mess on the elections of 2008.
  • It looks like America is edging back into Iraq, kicking and screaming. Nobody wants to be seen between now and 2016 as punting on ISIS.
  • FYI: the U.S. Congress is punting on Iraq, since they refuse to vote on it before the 2014 elections. Before elections: Democrats are scared of voting for war, Republicans are terrified of being seen to vote ‘yes’ for anything that Obama supports. No Profiles of Courage there. Courage, courage, as Dan Rather used to shout inexplicably on TV .

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com