Category Archives: Arab League

Viva Trump y Allahu Akbar: an Arab Islamic International Day of Democracy…….

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They say today is considered the International Day of Democracy. Top leaders of the US State Department celebrated the day, as did many other organizations.

They say the Arab League, the Gulf GCC, and the Organization of Islamic States are also celebrating this International Day of Democracy, each in their own unique, eccentric, unprecedented way. While awaiting the final demise of Mr. Trump’s ill-fated un-original money-focused idea of an Arab Nato. You can say what you want: cheeky, chutzpah, etc.

A spokesman for one of these groups opined that: Alhamdulellah (Allah be Praised), without our own unique Islamic Arab form of democracy we would not have such great leaders as we now have. They can lead us forward, backward, and sideways, as circumstances require.  

Another stressed that the region’s rulers, and hence its peoples, have no beef with “a government of the people, by the people and for the people”, as long as it is far away across the Atlantic Ocean.
He concluded with: Viva Donald Trump and Allahu Akbar (God is Greater), possibly in that order for the time being (pending certain upcoming elections and a certain ongoing investigation).

Another one was quoted:Viva Kushner y Greenblatt y Friedman. Turned out it was not Mahmoud Abbas of the PLO.

An Egyptian voice in the background squeaked: Viva Generalissimo Al Sisi, restorer and father of our democracy.

Happy democracy day everyone, and good luck…


Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Dhahran Summit of the Incompetent and the Impotent and General Sisi’s Plastic Missiles……..

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Arab leaders started their annual summit yesterday. This year it is in Dhahran (Zahran), Saudi Arabia, right on the Persian Gulf, right over the oil fields. Right across the waterway from Iran and the scowling ayatollahs. One can imagine that you can see the mountains of Iran if you squint hard enough, if you can see through all the Western naval warships clogging my Gulf.
These Western warships that are there presumably to deter an alleged Iranian attack that will never materialize, that has not materialized in over two centuries.

So far in my lifetime (and in my father’s and my grandfather’s lifetime), the only aggression in my Gulf has been committed by one Arab country against another, in one case by one Arab country against Iran:

Kuwait was invaded from what is now called Saudi Arabia at least twice, last time in the 1920s.
Kuwait was often threatened and then actually invaded and occupied by Baathist Iraq in 1990. Only the USA and Western allies liberated it, with some token Arab forces.

Yemen was invaded at least twice from Saudi Arabia. Large chunks of its territory were annexed, Israeli-style, by the Saudis during the last century.

Yemen has been, still is, the target of daily bombing and genocide by Saudi Arabia with active British-American help for the past three years.

Bahrain has been the beneficiary of a joint Saudi-UAE expeditionary force that helps the ruling family crush a popular uprising and the popular calls for reform.

Qatar was the target of a Saudi-instigated coup in the 1990s. It failed and several high Saudi intelligence officials were jailed in Doha for years. Now Qatar is again the target of a Cuba-style economic and total blockade from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Bahrain and Qatar have had their territorial disputes and clashes for decades.

Iraq invaded Iran in 1980, starting a war that lasted eight year. That losing war bankrupted Iraq and was the beginning of the end of the Baath regime of Saddam Hussein.
And there is more….

This Dhahran summit was weakly-attended: several Arab leaders sent second or third or even fourth rate representatives. The Emir of Qatar was smart enough to stay home; he probably did not want to be taken hostage by the fellow Arab princes of Riyadh. He remembers what happened to Lebanon’s Saad Hariri last year. Algeria, Oman, Morocco, even the UAE downgraded their delegates.

Bashar Al Assad would not stoop to attend the summit even if he were invited. There was no mention of the GCC crisis, of the Arab blockade of Qatar, of the Western attack on Syria.

The Saudi king declared that the Dhahran Summit will be called the Jerusalem Summit (presumably to celebrate his new friend Trump’s move of the US embassy).

In recent decades, Arab summits have been impotent gatherings of incompetent leaders. In the shadow of the huge American and British armadas and military bases, the Saudi king talked against “foreign” interference in Arab affairs. As if the NATO military forces and bases dotting my Gulf region were purely Arab forces.

In my lifetime, I have never seen the Arab world in such disarray and weakness, largely controlled by outside powers: be they American, Iranian, Israeli, or Turkish. This was probably the worst summit of them all, and the most hypocritical.

Its incompetence was summarized by Egyptian dictator Generalissimo Al Sisi, who raged against what he called “plastic” missiles being fired from Yemen in retaliation for constant Saudi bombing. I believe Al Sisi meant “ballistic” missiles. But he was onto something, inadvertently. The huge Arab armies, very expensively armed by the West to face a non-existing enemy across the Persian Gulf, are almost like “plastic” missiles. They are useless without Western help, guidance, and management. And very likely they also need imported personnel to operate them…

Cheers (if you can)
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum


After JCPOA and UNESCO: Will the USA and Israel Join the Arab League?…….

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President Donald Trump has taken the USA out of a whole bunch of international institutions, agreements, and deals. From the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) to the Paris Climate Accord, to the United Nation’s UNESCO organization (Mr. Trump and Israel both withdrew this week).

He is on the verge of breaking and violating the JCPOA (the international community’s nuclear deal with Iran). He is also threatening the NAFTA deal with Canada and Mexico. Early in his term he threatened US ties with NATO, the bedrock of the Western Alliance since after the last world war.

For most of the rest of the world Mr. Trump is not the usual credible American president. He has very little credibility. He is not liked (to put it politely) anywhere in the world, with the exception of Israel and some Arab royal palaces (and maybe in Manila). Predictably Netanyahu made a short speech welcoming Trump’s non-withdrawal from JCPOA, while the controlled Saudi media cheered on.

So here is a suggestion: why not declare the United States, and Israel, as members of the Arab League. They can start as observer-members. It is all an incredible fantastic circus anyway……….

M Haider Ghuloum

An Arab Human Rights Court in Bahrain? ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ in Arabic……..

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There are more recent reports of something called an Arab Human Rights Court, what I (and anybody with sense) would call Mother of All Contradictions. Reports that the Arab League’s current owners have chosen Bahrain as headquarters of the so-called Arab Human Rights Court are apparently not a joke or a prank.

There is or will be an entity called the Arab Human Rights Court. I am guessing, an expensively educated guess, that its specialty will be to prosecute human rights advocates in the Arab countries. And to try and bully foreign and international NGO’s who support them.

The report of its location in Bahrain? Just adding a bit of insult to injury, telling the Arab peoples what their rulers think of them and of their level of intelligence. But then they don’t care what their peoples think anyway.
It is aimed at the outside world. An Arab court can and will always issue verdicts in support of these despotic regimes. Friendly Western media from the Washington Post to CNN, and friendly Western regimes like the one in Britain can point to these verdicts and repeat them like mindless zombies, as alibis.

Terrible. Yet when I first read about this project months ago I could not help laughing. Imagine four terms: Human Rights, Justice, Arab League, Bahrain. How can they all fit in one sentence, one paragraph, or even one page without provoking frustrated mirthless laughter?
Frustrated mirthless laughter is supposed to be more seemly, for men at least, than frustrated weeping which would be the more honest relieving reaction.

This is the equivalent of having a huge sign hanging over the whole bloody Arab World:
Arbeit Macht Frei……..

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

A Dummy’s Haiku Guide to Free Speech in the Middle East: from Islamic to Nomadic to ……..

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About Free Speech…
Can it be free at a price?………..
Tell our leaders…….

So what is this “free speech” that many constitutions claim to allow but few actually do? Especially in the Middle East:

  • The Arab League considers free speech, to the extent that it considers anything seriously, as whatever each existing government in power wants it to be. Especially those regimes with deep pockets.
  • In Egypt, free speech is whatever does not criticize the president and insult the armed forces (apparently there is some difference), or mentions Mohammed Morsi without adding the term “deposed” as a prefix. Or anything that does not point out that Egypt (or even Cairo) are not, as the natives and a few Arabs claim, Mother of the World.
  • Al-Azhar sheikhs in Cairo define free speech as their interpretation of the  Holy Quran, the Hadith, and more importantly whatever the current president of the country says.
  • Less stable and more violent Arab countries have a more flexible definition of free speech. In Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, free speech is more nomadic: it depends on which part of the country you are in (and on who you are). Which might be considered by some as an improvement over what it is in other Middle East countries.
  • In Somalia, Sudan, and Djibouti, also considered “Arab” countries, you ask anyone about free speech and he or she might respond: WTF is that?
  • Free Speech in the whole “Persian-American” Gulf region will be covered in the next post, right after this one.
  • Western powers consider free speech in the Middle East as whatever encourages the ruling avaricious oligarchs to spend more money on weapons of death and repression.
  • Ist das klar?

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
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Saudis Reject Swedish Monkeys, Recall Their Own………

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“Saudi Arabia has refused to accept four tiny Amazonian monkeys from a Swedish zoo because of a diplomatic row, Swedish media report. The pygmy marmosets at Skansen zoo in Stockholm had been destined for a Riyadh zoo. “They didn’t want the monkeys anymore because of the political situation,” said Skansen zoo boss Jonas Wahlstrom. Last month the Saudi ambassador to Sweden was recalled, after Sweden ended an arms deal in a human rights dispute. Weighing just over 100 grams (3.5 oz) each pygmy marmosets are the smallest primates in the world. “It’s a little comical. I’ll just have to wait until they grant visas to Swedish businessmen again. Maybe monkeys will get visas then too,” said Mr Wahlstrom………….”

It started when the Saudis vetoed a scheduled speech by the Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallström to an Arab League meeting. The princes, who fancy they own the Arab League (they do), feared that the female minister would remind the Arab potentates and their minions of the HR words, Human Rights. So the dispute started and escalated.
The Saudis have not only refused to grant visas to the Swedish pygmy monkeys as well as to Swedes in general, they have also recalled their own marmoset ambassador from Stockholm, who is not a pygmy. Besides, my incredible source report that one famously loquacious traveling prince snorted, tongue-in-cheek, that “We don’t need them and their f–king monkeys. We have thousands of our own within the family”.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Arab Media Outlets: a Rainbow from the Mad to the Angry to the AIPAC to the Smart…….

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New Arab media sprout almost every day. Both online and offline. I am only listing some with the word “Arab” in them. Otherwise there are more, many many more. Briefly, here are some that exist now, some that will exist, some that should exist, and some that should not exist:

Al-Quds Al-Arabi (=Arab Jerusalem):London-based. Used to be Qatari-funded but pro-Palestinian. Now totally Qatari-owned and nicely sectarian.
New Arab: sounds like Qatari or Emirati-funded propaganda website. I would guess more Qatari, tentatively.
Free Arabs: Not really ‘free’, me thinks. U.S. based, a bit cutesy. Seems more like it should be renamed AIPAC Arab or some other pro-Likud or Mujahideen Khalq or Neoconservative funded group.

AlArabiya: owned by an in-law of the Saudi royal family. Has close ties with Asharq Alawsat which is owned by Saudi King Salman.
AlArab:news network owned by Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal (he sued Forbes for underestimating his wealth). Now looking for a home base after being kicked out of Bahrain on its first and last day of broadcasting.
Angry Arab: I don’t know who the hell funds this one. Almost certainly self-funded from the sale of non-Israeli hummus.
Mad Arab: partly owned by Alfred E. Neuman and his wife.
Arab Garlic: partly owned by The Onion but based in Gilroy, California.
Humorless Arab: you’d think it is a Jordanian outlet, but t goes deeper than tat……
Pissed off Arab: just about anybody between Bahrain and Casablanca who is not a ruler, relative of a ruler, or minion of a ruler.
Stoned Arab: almost certainly headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Dumb Arab: probably based and operated by the League of Arab Nations (Arab League).
Smart or Thinking Arab: in exile, in prison, dead, or ruling the rest of them.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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Swedish-Saudi Wars: Arab League as Chopped Liver……..

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Sweden is one of a few ‘Western’ nations that has had good relations with almost all Muslim or Arab countries. They even recently recognized “a” palestinian state, whatever that may happen to be. That is not to say that I like all their successive governments. Sweden has even started dabbling in arms-for-money deals with despotic absolute Arab regime, including Saudi Arabia, in recent years.

The foreign minister of Sweden was invited to speak to a meeting of the Arab League (actually it is a Saudi-UAE League) a few days ago. The Saudis decided to prevent her from speaking, and they did. Shows you who “owns” the Arab League. The rest of the Arab delegates were as silent as chopped liver. They were afraid that, being a Suédoise, she would mention the unmentionable: “human rights”, “corruption”, and maybe even worse. The shaikhs may have fatwa-edd that uttering some of these words would send anyone straight to the fires of hell.
Now Sweden has decided to review its policy of supplying arms to the Saudi regime. Which pissed off the Saudi princes, who usually feel entitled because they believe their money makes them entitled to a lot of special European ‘consideration’. The princes have recalled their ambassador to Stockholm. Which has depressed the ambassador, since he will have to spend not only St. Patrick’s Day and Easter, but also the coming beautiful Swedish summer in the arguably the most boring capital in the whole wide world, Riyadh.
That is where things stand now…..

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

From Yemen to Somalia: Failed Arab States and the Sectarian Tribal Narrative…….

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“The capital of Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest and perhaps most chronically unstable nation, has new masters. Anti-American Shiite rebels man checkpoints and roam the streets in pickups mounted with anti-aircraft guns. The fighters control almost all state buildings, from the airport and the central bank to the Defense Ministry. Only a few police officers and soldiers are left on the streets……….”

This title of “Arab world’s poorest and perhaps most chronically unstable nation” is debatable. The Arab world includes other candidates for this honor that are also members of the Arab League: Somalia, Mauretania, Sudan, Djibouti, the Comoros. So, there are several candidates for this honorary title. And if the unrest and war and mayhem continue to spread, several more Arab states may also join the competition. Libya, liberated by NATO and Bernard-Henri Levy and John McCain in 2011, may be well on its own merry way toward that list.
This piece looks like it could have been edited by Saudi and UAE censors before its final version was approved. I like the part about “Anti-American Shiite rebels“: a cute but useful touchThey tend to use the “sectarian” angle whenever they can, these Persian Gulf princes and potentates. I am not sure the Houthis actually think of imitating Hezbollah, they have their own very complex Yemeni issues to deal with. The sectarian narrative is not as powerful or clear-cut in Yemen as it is in Lebanon and Iraq and Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, for example. It is complicated by tribal and regional issues. And they don’t have the Israeli military on their border as a further distraction.
But I can see the temptation, at least from a Western point of view, to simply declare them the “new Hezbollah”. One size fits all: it is simpler that way.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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ISIS and the Arabs: a Standing Joke of a League…….

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Back to my last post about President Obama’s ISIS speech:
One or two of the experts, in their post-speech comments, lamely suggested the Arab League, a useless gathering of mostly dictators and absolute tribal kings with little moral standing. It is now dominated by the same princes and potentates who spawned and nurtured groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS and their ilk.

Among many ordinary Arabs, the only standing the Arab League bureaucracy has is as a standing joke. A place to bury aging senior Arab (especially Egyptian) bureaucrats before they die. Only Western, specifically American politicians and pundits would suggest the Arab League as a mover and shaker, and with a straight face. But that is probably only because it can be useful to them as a fig leaf.

Don’t get me wrong, the idea of an Arab League can eventually be a good one, nay a necessary one. But that can be only after all member states hold free and unfettered elections. You figure out the timetable.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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