“If one man calls you an ass, pay him no mind. If two men call you an ass, go buy a saddle.”
– Yiddish proverb. Allegedly, according to this article here.
Which also goes on to expand helpfully that: “Jackasses: We all know them. None of us can stand them. But what if “them” is “us”? Here’s a short guide to help you walk through the jackass self-assessment process………...”
In the Middle East there is an Arabic saying that one of my teachers used to repeat (not to me, honestly, mostly to some other student): “Kithr el-tikrar be’allim elhomar, كثر التكرار، بيعلّم الحمار: Repetition will teach even a donkey (even an ass)”
I think he was right, in most cases, although now I know it was an insult to many fine reasonable donkeys.
Even Arab governments may start learning at some point. Not yet.
Music: The Wonky Donkey Song
Since I seem to be covering donkeys and asses and jackasses extensively these days:
Some anchorwoman on CNN asked this morning: “What did we learn from the Iraq war?” My tweeted response was “To get ready to try and do the same in Iran”.
I was not referring just to the jackasses (and plain asses) in the United States Senate and Congress, nor only to those American officials repeating the discredited but self-serving stupid political mantra that “all options are on the table”. The U.S. media is being played beautifully by the Neo-Warmongers, so that it is almost at the same position it was ten years ago.
“Syria accuses rebels of using chemical weapons. Residents of an area that has been reportedly targetted with chemical weapons in Syria were said to be showing symptoms including breathing difficulties in an incident that could cross US “red lines” on intervention in the conflict. Britain said on Tuesday it was aware of media reports about a chemical weapons attack in Syria, adding that the use or proliferation of chemical weapons there would demand a serious response from the international community. Syria’s regime accused rebel fighters of firing a chemical weapon at a town…………………”
Cute. First the FSA gangs repeatedly accused the Assad regime of using chemical weapon, that was a few weeks ago. Even some schmuck at the American embassy in Turkey got into the act and confirmed that false report, as I recall. Now the regime is returning the favor and accuses the FSA gangs of using chemicals. I never believed either side on this, the politically motivated British response notwithstanding.
Nobody has used chemical weapons in the Middle East since the 1980s, when Saddam Hussein used them against Iraqi Kurds and against Iranian forces in the war. Nobody “important” objected at that time”: it was deemed necessary and maybe even democratic (small D). Now, as for cluster bombs, the next best thing…………
“The CIA has stepped up secret contingency planning to protect the United States and its allies as the turmoil expands in Syria, including collecting intelligence on Islamic extremists for the first time for possible lethal drone strikes, according to current and former U.S. officials. President Obama has not authorized drone missile strikes in Syria, however, and none are under consideration. The Counterterrorism Center, which runs the CIA’s covert drone killing program in Pakistan and Yemen, recently shifted several targeting officers to improve intelligence collection on militants in Syria who could pose a terrorist threat, the officials said. The targeting officers have formed a unit with colleagues who were tracking Al Qaeda operatives and fighters in Iraq. U.S. officials believe that some of these operatives have moved to Syria and joined Islamic militias battling to overthrow President Bashar Assad..………….”
The US State Department just today blasted a Syrian air attack on the Lebanese border. The State Department never condemns Israeli air incursions and attacks over Lebanon and Syria. Now the State Department is probably preparing spin media statements for the first drone strikes against Jihadists in Syria (possibly even against regime forces in Syria). That means there will be fewer open-air village weddings in Syria, especially in treble-held areas (sort of like Afghanistan and Pakistan and Yemen and possibly Mali).
But who said politics and diplomacy are consistent anywhere?
- After all, the Iranians blast the Bahrain regime, rightly so, but they also blast Syrian rebels and help the government.
- The Saudis blast the rebelling people of Bahrain and support their revolting ruling family even as they support the Syrian rebels.
- The Egyptians support the Bahrain regime and the Syrian rebels, for now.
- The Russians support the Syrian regime but don’t give a fuck publicly about what is happening in Bahrain.
- The Iraqis dislike the Bahrain and Syrian regimes, but they side with the Syrian regime because the Jihadist terrorists who blow up Iraqis also help the Syrian rebels.
- The Yemenis look at the Saudis and Qataris and Emiratis and take sides accordingly. They don’t have a choice, unless they discover a lot of oil near Sana’.
- Come to think of it, most Arabs look at the Saudis and Qataris and Emiratis and decide accordingly. That is why we still call it the League of Arab Nations, they all agree on following the petro-money and adjusting their principles, wtf they are, accordingly.
There are a few other players:
- The Israelis can see benefits (and pitfalls) in any outcome in Syria. As far as the Israelis are concerned, the Arabs are excellent at shooting themselves in the foot and limping away. So why disrupt the pattern? Why ruin a good thing?
- The Chines play it all close to their chest, while the abacus rings.
- The Mafia..……… genug, genug.
“March 20, marking the spring equinox, is the start of the Persian new year – Nowruz – a 13-day ancient Zoroastrian festival celebrated as the most important holiday of the Iranian calendar. The presidential elections, scheduled for 14 June, are taking place in the final days of the season. Ahmadinejad’s critics believe the president, who is prevented under Iranian law from running for a third term, is pursuing a Putin/Medvedev-style reshuffle by grooming his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, as his possible successor. Mashaei, a confidant of Ahmadinejad and his relative, is accused of advocating nationalism, greater cultural openness and attempting to undermine clerical rule, especially the supremacy of Khamenei. Opponents say that Mashaei is the head of a “deviant current” within the president’s inner circle and he has little respect for the supreme leader, although he denies it. If Mashaei does put his name forward for the presidential vote, the powerful pro-Khamenei Guardian Council will have to vet his candidacy. Many believe he will not be allowed to run, while others say Ahmadinejad will threaten to go out with all guns firing if that happens. Last week, in a ceremony held before Nowruz, Ahmadinejad awarded Mashaei the country’s highest cultural medal. Both men were recorded as using spring in their speeches. Keyhan, an ultra-conservative newspaper with a director appointed by Khamenei, has attacked the men for repeated references to spring, which it said could have un-Islamic connotations…………….”
The clerics can see now that the post of president may continue to be problematic for them. It has been so at least twice in the past, when the elected presidents clashed with the selected Supreme Leader. The very first president of Iran, Abolhassan BaniSadr disagreed with Ayatollah Khomeinei and had to flee the country to exile in Paris. Mr. Ahmadinejad has been engaged in a power struggle and is continuously clashing with the conservative clerics in Parliament who are allies of the leader. Even Khatami who was a reformist cleric clashed with the conservatives.
All this means the clerics will probably try to disqualify some of the reformist candidates, try to remove them from the list. Their main target will likely be Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, an ally of Mr. Ahmadinejad whom the current president supports. If he decides to run.
If the clerics disqualify Mashaei, Mr. Ahmadinejad may go rogue, more so than he has done so far. He might start to publicly question the separation of powers between the elected president and the unelected Supreme Leader. This will probably resonate among many young Iranians, even among some who are not so young. This should make the elections more exciting than seems likely right now; it might even invigorate some of the demoralized reformists even possibly some of the many closet secularists.
“En Syrie, l’irrésistible ascension des islamistes du front Al-Nosra………. Au point que ce groupe armé est en train de s’imposer comme le principal groupe armé en Syrie. Les origines et la composition de cette organisation très secrète restent mal connues. Certains observateurs en font une filiale de l’Etat islamique en Irak, lui-même affilié à Al-Qaida. Plusieurs témoignages recueillis dans le nord de la Syrie laissent penser que Jabhat Al-Nosra est un groupe très majoritairement syrien – autour de 80 % – sans lien organique avec Al-Qaida, mais proche sur le plan idéologique. A la différence de leurs homologues irakiens, les djihadistes syriens ont veillé à ne pas se mettre à dos la population. Par contraste, l’Armée syrienne libre (ASL), un regroupement hétéroclite de brigades fondées et commandées par des chefs locaux, a mauvaise réputation à cause des exactions commises par certains commandants : pillages de biens de l’Etat ou privés, racket, enlèvements, détournements de l’aide humanitaire ou d’armes destinées à être revendues sur le marché noir se multiplient à mesure que la Syrie s’installe dans une économie de guerre. Mais la bonne réputation des combattants du Front Al-Nosra commence à s’effriter, en partie à cause du zèle religieux de certaines recrues, notamment les étrangers.……………….”
“Bulgarian investigators said Monday they will conduct test explosions to help move forward a probe into last year’s airport bus bombing that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian, as media reported dead ends in the case. Two buses were to be blown up using bombs that were similar in composition and strength to the one used in the July 18 attack at Burgas airport on the Black Sea, investigation chief Georgy Iliev told state BNR radio. The aim of the experiment is to find out where the still unidentified bomber stood at the time of the detonation and whether he was carrying the bag with the explosives on his shoulders, or whether it was placed in the bus’s luggage compartment. Iliev’s comments came as Bulgarian media reported that the probe had come to a standstill after investigators failed to obtain key information they had requested from Australia, Canada, Lebanon, the United States and Morocco………… Chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov told the newspaper that the evidence collected so far was not conclusive enough to stand up in court. On Saturday, Bulgaria’s caretaker prime minister Marin Raykov said it did not plan to initiate a procedure for blacklisting Hezbollah….. ………”
Remember all the immediate convictions that were issued in Western and Israeli media? And the secret intelligence officials who assured the New York Times of clear evidence that Hezbollah and/or Iran were behind the terrorist attack? Remember ‘intelligent’ Congressmen who assured us that the evidence was conclusive?
They rushed it to get the European Union to rush into listing Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. European right-wing politicians salivated. Many other Europeans ‘noticed’ that the conclusions were shoddy, that incomplete ‘evidence’ was being used to push them into making ‘certain’ political decisions quickly. Many in the Bulgarian opposition (Bulgarian dissidents? Bulgarian activists? Let’s call them the Free Bulgarian Army) accused the right-wing regime of politicizing the investigation (i.e. doing the bidding of fellow right-winger Netanyahu). Now that there has been some sort of regime change in Sofia, things have changed.
Odd, there were several anonymous officials who swore, swore cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die style, that the evidence against Hezbollah was clear. Just as they had agreed with Netanyahu a few months earlier that the evidence against the Iranians clear. That can’t be untrue: it was after all in the New York Times and all over CNN. Even some of the Arab media eagerly got into the act.
The jury is still out on this; it can go either way. Here are links to previous posts on this Burgas terror topic:
New Doubts Cast on Bulgarian Accusations in Terror Bombing
Bulgarian Terror Mystery: Hezbollah Today, Iran Yesterday, Syria Tomorrow, Girl Scouts of Arabia Next Year?
Bulgaria: Did Hezbollah Go Stupid at a ‘Convenient’ Time?
Case for an Israeli Attack? a Boy’s Wolf, Michael Oren, Deep Throat II, Salacious Pun
About Netanyahu, the Mullahs, and all them Plots
Terrorism: Hallmarks of the Bulgaria Suicide Bomber with a “Shaved Head
N Y Times and Anonymous Deep Throat Certain Iran was Behind Bulgaria Terror Attack
Terrorism: Bibi Natanyahu with Bulgarian Egg on His Face, For Now
Terrorism in Iran and Bulgaria, Netanyahu and Hitler and Danzig and Sudetenland
“The authorities in Saudi Arabia have begun dismantling some of the oldest sections of Islam’s most important mosque as part of a highly controversial multi-billion pound expansion. Photographs obtained by The Independent reveal how workers with drills and mechanical diggers have started demolishing some Ottoman and Abbasid sections on the eastern side of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca. The building, which is also known as the Grand Mosque, is the holiest site in Islam because it contains the Kaaba – the point to which all Muslims face when praying. The columns are the last remaining sections of the mosque which date back more than a few hundred years and form the inner perimeter on the outskirts of the white marble floor surrounding the Kaaba. The new photos, taken over the last few weeks, have caused alarm among archaeologists…………….. Many senior Wahabis are vehemently against the preservation of historical Islamic sites that are linked to the prophet because they believe it encourages shirq – the sin of idol worshipping……………”
They have been at this for some years now. Nobody loudly criticizes them for it anymore. They have bought off the UNESCO and the British (Prince Chuck) and other Western governments: expensive arms deals and trade are more important than safeguarding ancient Islamic monuments.
I have posted on this, several times. It is not only the Wahhabi dogma against any historic sites, nay against history. It is also greed: properties in Mecca that are near the Kaaba are valuable. The tear them down to build expensive 5-star or 7-star hotels and apartments and shopping centers. Greed combines with Salafi dogma to doom the ancient monuments of early Islam. Homes and mosques of the Prophet and some of his early followers have been destroyed and built over with new ‘properties’. No sense repeating. I shall provide the following links to some earlier posts on this topic:
Saudi Culture: Bulldozing the Graves of Mohammed and Omar into Las Vegas
Buying the Soul of Britain, Raping the History of Islam, Sacking Mecca
Cement Shortages May not Save Mecca from its Las Vegas Future
Monuments in Wax: Salafis of Egypt and the Petroleum Pharaohs
“It was signed yesterday, Friday, in Tripoli by the Minister of Justice, Salah Al-Marghani, and his Iraqi counterpart, Hassan Shimari. Attending the ceremony were the Deputy President of the General National Congress, Juma Ateega, the Third Deputy Prime Minister, Abdussalam Al-Qadi, Minister of State for GNC affairs Muaz Khoja, Ministry of Justice Undersecretary Sharif Zahri, and the administrator responsible for the file of Libyan prisoners abroad, Sulaiman Al-Fortia. Also attending were the families of Libyan prisoners in Iraq as well as a number of Iraqi businessmen in Libya. The deal is seen as being crucial to improving Libyan-Iraqi relations. “This does not mean that Libyan prisoners will be transferred straightway,” said Taha Shakshuki of the Libyan Group for Demanding Libyan Prisoners Abroad. He said the group has been told by the Justiec Ministry that the agreement is in effect a memorandum of understanding which still requires to be approved by the Iraqi parliament. Nor will Libya prisoners be automatically transferred, he explained. Each case will to be approved by the Iraqi authorities………………”
In some ways Libya hasn’t changed that much in terms of relations with other countries. Under Muammar Qaddafi, Libya used to send weapons and money and occasionally ‘volunteers’ to commit acts of violence in other countries. That was especially true until a decade or so ago, when Qaddafi became a close friend of France and Britain and Italy and the United States. That was sometime before the colonel met Condi Rice and very likely made what he would call an “African” pass at her.
Now the new Libya sends the same bounty abroad, except the combination has changed. They send more people and weapons now than money. But the operation is not as centralized as under Qaddafi. They have also sent a lot of weapons and volunteers to the Salafi terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq. I suspect the same is true of Lebanon and other places. Now the Libyan have formed some group called Libyan Group for Demanding Libyan Prisoners Abroad to try to release those terrorists captured by Iraqi and other security authorities. Interesting that the
Libyan group does not specify Iraq or any one specific country:
apparently now they have many in various countries.
The Saudis also have a group advocating on behalf of their Salafi terrorists held in Iraq: there are many Saudi prisoners in Iraq, and you can bet none of them went there as tourists or pilgrims. Other Gulf governments, at least one that I know of, have negotiated with Iraq for the release of some prisoners, mainly tribal youth who were encouraged to go by Salafi clerics. They are given a hero’s welcome by their tribe and hopefully married off quickly to some tribal girl so that they would forget about rejoining Al-Qaeda and the dreams of all those virgin houris and wine in the afterlife.
“But the conventional wisdom may not be completely accurate. Washington has evidence that as much as a billion dollars has been clandestinely introduced into Egypt since the June presidential election. The money has gone to some organizers of the riots taking place, including junior Army officers in mufti, to force the regime to react with excessive force and lose what little legitimacy it retains—which is precisely what has happened. A fatally weakened Morsi government might well have to accept a new regime of national unity that would include the military, which would become the dominant force in the arrangement without having to risk the opprobrium involved in actually forming a government. The primary objective of the new alignment would be to restore order, further enhancing the military’s status. On January 29, the Egyptian Army’s commanding general, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, not surprisingly suggested that the army might have to intervene if the civilian government proves incapable of suppressing the rioting. So who is behind the unrest? The money fueling the confrontation comes from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States………………”
The Muslim Brotherhood tries to consolidate its power in the face of fear and opposition by other sectors of society. Egyptian relations with the West and Israel seem to be in a state of flux, to say the least. Egyptian relations with most Gulf potentates deteriorate. Reports and allegations and legends play a part in this political battle for control of Cairo:
A few weeks ago, Gulf and some British media reported about Brig General Qassem Suleimani of the Iranian Al-Quds Brigade, bête noir of the West and its allies. The bizarre report alleged that he has visited Cairo and met with Egyptian security officials at a Cairo hotel (this hotel part is very cute). A secret meeting at a hotel? Where exactly, at the hotel bar? The report alleged that the Egyptian regime was seeking Iranian help in tightening domestic security control. The “meeting at the hotel” part gave it away: clearly anti Brotherhood propaganda.
- But the idea of that report was probably two-pronged: to discredit the Egyptian regime AND to discredit the local Muslim Brotherhood of the GCC Gulf states. They have done this before on the Gulf. The Bahrain and Saudi regimes always associate their protesters with outsiders: the Iranian regime and the Revolutionary Guard or with Hezbollah or both (occasionally Iraq and Syria are thrown in, with some salt grains). The UAE is getting into the act with enthusiasm.
- Fast forward: two or so weeks ago Saudi deputy minister of defense, Khaled Bin Sultan was reported to have visited Egypt. He was reported to have met with Egyptian military commanders.
- Fast forward to these days: there are a lot of tweets and other media reports now praising the Egyptian military. Some of them calling for a military intervention to “save the revolution”. This last one is not a joke, they are serious. Mubarak’s military to save the revolution that overthrew Mubarak! A mixture of Kafka and Orwell.
- Fast forward some more: some are increasingly trying to paint the military as an acceptable alternative to the elected regime of the Muslim Brotherhood. That means Mubarak-ism without Mubarak again. No doubt this is the ideal outcome for the potentates of the Gulf states. It is also favored in Western capitals as well, at least in Washington and London, but they can’t say it openly now, can they?
- Perhaps some Egyptians think the military is safer because it is not ‘dogmatic’, and it does not have a menacing political base and organization, unlike the Muslim Brotherhood. Therefore it is easy to confront and send back to the barracks. This goes against Egyptian history of the past 60 years.
- There is always the reasonable fear of the Hitler precedent of 1933. One election that ends all elections, to be won by the Islamists. This has happened in many countries in the past.