Tag Archives: Arab Uprisings

Middle East Sands Shift Again in the Mayhem of Post-Post-Arab-Uprisings……

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In the beginning there were the Arab uprisings……
The era of the Arab Uprisings is over. The era of Post Arab Uprisings is over. Now the Middle East is going through the era of Post-Post Arab Uprisings.

The Arab convulsions that started at the end of 2010 were initially expected to usher in a new era of revolution against the stagnant order. That hope quickly shifted as the newly-anointed Arab Center of Power, represented by Persian Gulf oil wealth and Gulf Wahhabi-Salafi ideology basically took over the Arab League and its institutions. Or so it seemed.

But a few unseemly things happened on the way to the royal takeover of the Arab World.

The initial Syrian uprising of 2011, which had been taken over by Gulf-backed Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood Jihadists, stalled. Having been hijacked by essentially agents of even more repressive Arab regimes, it veered into the darkest realm of sectarian and confessional divisiveness, a normal Wahhabi inclination. Foreign intervention has made a solution even more difficult. But the military situation has now decidedly shifted in favor of the Damascus regime and its allies.

In Bahrain, the regime cracked down hard on the uprising of 2011, ‘invited’ Saudi and UAE forces to help its repression, and turned to the old divide and rule policy by going sectarian. That country is still very unstable, heavily dependent on foreign Arab forces and foreign mercenaries to keep order.

In Yemen, the GCC and the UN arranged for dictator Colonel Ali Abdallah Saleh to leave office. But they chose his deputy, another general named Abd Rabuh Mansour Hadi to be “elected” with 99.8% of the vote. Even Kim Jong Un does not get that kind of victory. Hadi was quickly co-opted by corrupt military and tribal forces, along with a very corrupt local version of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Eventually Hadi was overthrown by a rebellion of the tough northern Houthis and elements of the old Yemeni army. He was basically allowed to escape (reportedly dressed as a woman in Burqa).
As the Houthi alliance expanded south into Aden, Hadi (who had resigned AND his term had expired) and his henchmen escaped to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis made the same mistake they had made before, they tried to invade Yemen with a force of hired African and Arab mercenaries. It is now a quagmire, helped by the Obama Administration which arms and refuels the Saudi bombers that commit what is essentially a murderous genocide.

In Libya, the dreams of American and European liberals and conservatives alike were shattered by the aftermath of the overthrow, torture, and murder of Gaddafi and his son. The Western powers had engineered a UN resolution past Russia and China that had wordings that created a loophole for NATO to bomb Gaddafi’s Libya. All based on false claims by opposition rebels. Russia and China have not forgotten that Western deception at the UN, and they are unlikely to vote along the same lines again. Libya itself is now a smaller version of Syria.

The biggest prize as usual was Egypt. After one year of elected Muslim Brotherhood rule, a couple of Gulf states ‘financed’ a series of huge opposition protests and eventually a military coup. Shades of the CIA Operation Ajax in Iran, circa 1953. Egypt was to become basically a satrapy of the Saudi and Emirati potentates, rich but uncultured tribal despots. An absurd notion to anybody who knows anything about ancient Middle East history.

Now Egypt is reported to have swung another way. A media war is raging between Egypt and her presumed Gulf sisterly (or brotherly) bosses, and regional policies are shifting. From Yemen to Syria to Iran, possibly even to the Gulf, Egypt is seeking new alliances and restoration of old ties in the face of a Wahhabi blackmail.
The Egyptian-Saudi dispute has gotten so serious that former Yemeni officials, all Saudi agents who urge the bombing of their country from their comfortable Saudi exile, now are accusing Egypt of supplying the Houthi rulers of Sanaa with missiles.

Other Gulf media mouthpieces have accused neutral Oman of expediting the transfer of Iranian weapons to the Houthis. These are certainly attempts to justify the miserable failure of the expensively-armed and Western-guided but incompetent Saudi and UAE forces to win the war in Yemen.
Another major twist, but it is not over. Stay tuned…..


Mohammed Haider Ghuloum


In the Persian-American Gulf: a Tribal Sectarian Island of Mad Snakes……

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An island, or islands, in the sun.

The United States has its largest regional naval base on it.
Britain, its former colonial master and perennial enabler of its despots, is re-establishing a permanent military base on it.

Saudi Arabia has a military base since 2011 when it helped crush a democratic uprising.

Assorted imported foreign mercenaries, goon squads, are based on it: interrogators/torturers from the humorless Kingdom of Jordan, security forces recruited from Pakistan and Syria and other places.

An island of poverty and tear gas once one leaves the Potemkin facade glitter of the capital. A majority of its native people are being gradually ghettoized, terrorized, and disenfranchised by the ruling tribal oligarchy.
Pro-democracy advocates, original natives, and critics of the ruling family are rendered stateless and sent into exile. Often they are arrested on trumped up charges and imprisoned, tortured.
Western powers, especially the USA pay lip service to the need for freedom and equality. Others don’t even bother to pay lip service to the idea of freedom on the island.

The British establishment (government, royal family, and business) are part of the problem of the people of the island. They are the greatest enablers of repression on the island. The royal family of Britain goes out of its way to show its support of the despotic rulers of the island. Idle English princes and princesses of questionable character fly occasionally to show their support (and get Saudi contracts). The despots are often feted at Buckingham and other palaces.

You know which small captive island I am talking about. A small monarchy ruled by a nest of tribal sectarian snakes and thieves, it is very close to the southeastern shore of the Persian-American Gulf. Just across the waterway from the oil fields.

I have called it a Devil’s Island in the past, a slight exaggeration. I have also called it an Island of Tear Gas, a slight exaggeration.
Any exaggeration here about this island is bound to be “slight”.

I will not name names here, leaving it to your knowledge or imagination, although it is a very real island. In the Persian-American Gulf.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

A Dummy’s Guide to Managing Arab Turmoil: from Iraq to Libya and Syria and Yemen………

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A few Arab governments, and their controlled media, spent several years criticizing the way the United States handled Iraq. The Saudi and Qatari potentates especially seemed to think they could have done better.
They dabbled in Iraq, but got their real chance, both of them and others, in places like Libya, Syria, Egypt, and Yemen.

  • In Libya they talked the Western powers through NATO into bombing the installations controlled by the Gaddafi regime. The West essentially won the civil war in Libya for “the opposition”. People like Senator McCain, Hillary Clinton and French pop-philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy thumbed their chests (and breasts) and declared a victory in Libya for democracy and tolerance. Allegedly with some Arab help, no doubt token help. It turns out the Libyan opposition was not what they thought it was. Libya is now divided among tribal elements and Jihadist terrorists. It is suffering from Al Qaeda affiliates as well as ISIS (DAESH) branches.
  • These two Persian Gulf , er, “powers”, ruled by absolute tribal Wahhabi potentates, also thought they could do better in Syria than the West did in Iraq. Of course they had a strong hand in the failure of Western intervention in Iraq and the growth of Wahhabi terrorist enclaves in that country.
  • Having messed up Libya, the Saudis and Qataris started, along with Senator McCain and, yes, French pop-philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy to push for the Western powers to follow their same advise in Syria. From the spring of 2011 they flooded Syria with money, weapons, and Salafi Jihadists. With logistic and trafficking help from the Muslim Brotherhood regime of Caliph Erdogan of Turkey. That was when the non-sectarian original Syrian uprising ended and was replaced with sectarian Salafi Jihadist groups many of whom eventually joined ISIS or Al Nusra. Close to a quarter million Syrians from both sides have died, millions are roaming the shores of Europe seeking refuge. Meanwhile, the Arab potentates who started it all refuse to take in the refugees they helped create.
  • Now the current options for the West in Syria range between accepting Al Assad or one of his allies in power or allowing the intolerant sectarian Wahhabis to take over. There might be a quasi-Wahhabi option somewhere in between, but that may have been co-opted by the new Russian intervention.
  • In Yemen, the Gulf potentates allowed former vice president Generalissimo Abd Rabuh Hadi to win a rigged election with 99.8% of the vote in 2012. Not a very subtle form of democracy is it? Hadi allied himself with the corrupt quasi-Islamist Muslim Brotherhood-ish Islah (ironically Islah means Reform in Arabic). He lost out in Sanaa to an alliance of tribal Houthis and former dictator Ali A Saleh supporters in the army. He fled to Aden, but he was chased out to a hotel in that other bastion of Arab democracy and freedom, Riyadh. The war in Yemen became a struggle between the Houthi-army alliance and Southern secessionists and Al Qaeda. And American drones.
  • Now the Saudis have managed to hire, rent, and buy a bunch of Arab and impoverished African allies ranging from Jordan to Sudan and possibly Mauritania and others. There are unconfirmed reports that the UAE is also sending its mercenary army of hired Colombians to Aden. Yemen is now a war among various groups and proxies. The Saudis and their allies are bombing the country indiscriminately, as do some of their local enemies. Thousands have died, and many displaced in the second poorest Arab country after Somalia. Speaking of which, many Yemenis have fled to Somalia, which tells you how bad things are in that country.

Together, these princes and potentates can write a best-seller: A Dummy’s Guide to Managing Arab Turmoil………
So much for an ‘Arab solution‘. I had thought the idea of an ‘Arab solution’ for any regional problem was laid to rest in 1990/91. Apparently not yet, but no doubt soon enough.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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Laughingstock of MENA? Oligarchs Hijack the Anger of Arab Youth, LOL…….

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A lot of conferences and symposiums and fora are held in the Gulf region. All allegedly representing the whole Arab world, from the Gulf to the Atlas Mountains. Another one was held recently in Dubai which seemed to trend toward pinning the blame for Arab problems on anybody but those responsible: the Arab establishment.

Just why are the Arabs angry? And how angry are the “young Arabs” at being “a laughingstock” according to Roger Cohen and Amr Moussa? And do the masses of Arab youths from Iraq to Morocco really give a hoot about the preferences and prejudices of unelected Gulf oligarchs? 

And who best expresses the anger of Arab “youth” according to most Western media types and pundits?
Why, it is first of all Amr Moussa, former Egyptian foreign minister then secretary general of the Arab League under Hosni Mubarak. Who else can express revolutionary anger but an octogenarian man of the establishment? Then after that who else but the absolute Saudi princes, then the absolute oligarchs of the UAE and Bahrain and Qatar.

And why are the Arab youth allegedly supposedly perhaps so angry that Persian Iran has influence in the Persian Gulf, but they are not angry that Britain, France, Monaco, and Colombian mercenaries are building bases in the same Persian Gulf faster than petro-money can finance them? And why are these “youths of the whole Arab world” allegedly represented by a handful of foreign absolute kings, princes, potentates, and their paid media minions?

And why are Arab youths, according to Amr Moussa and others, not angry at their rulers instead of being angry at foreigners who take advantage of meddling opportunities created by the rulers? Shouldn’t they be angry, as they used to be in past decades, at their rulers for enabling foreigners (Iranians, Turks, Israelis, Westerners) to wield influence?

All this puzzling “stuff” I gleaned from the recent article by Roger Cohen in the New York Times.  Written in the warm afterglow of a well-fed six-star conference in the United Arab Emirates. While the Yemenis next door got bombed and starved by the same brotherly and sisterly Arab oligarchs.          

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Takhabur: a Potent New Orwellian Arab Weapon……….

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Egyptian media can be some of the wildest in the Middle East, bar none, when it comes to toeing the official line. Remember when the once-venerable Al-Ahram, the big banana of Egyptian newspapers, doctored photos of world leader to put Hosni Mubarak at the front? They are doing even more now.

One headline I saw yesterday: “Muslim brothers caught with ‘certificates’ of Takhabur (تخابُر) with Hamas”.  (تخابُر is a broad Arabic word that can have any of several connotations: communicating; contacting; exchanging information).
‘Certificates of Takahbur‘: imagine how far you can go in telling your people how stupid you believe they are, maybe not in so many words. This “Takhabur” in Arabic is a recent twist of the term that Arab regimes (and their controlled media) have been using against their foes and against those they don’t like or suspect.
Takhabur: “communicating, exchanging news or information but also perhaps ideas” or “talking to”. You can get arrested for takhabur with The Onion or with Mad Magazine or with the CIA or the Mossad or Dhahi Khalfan, even with your next door neighbor, if they want to get you.
Anyway, they twist things to make it sound so sinister in a way that some regimes can do with impunity. The Egyptian military regime has even brought the charge of “takhabur” against president Morsi, and he was the president of the country! He was supposed to do “takhabur” with leaders and countries, just like any other head of state! Imagine how much ‘takhabur‘ Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi is doing now with oily princes and potentates? How else could he do his job?

Now they are piling on Caliph Erdogan of Turkey, but that is okay: the Turkish Caliph ensconced in his billion-dollar palace deserves it. Suddenly the Egyptians are strongly pro-Greek on the Cyprus issue and on any other issues that come to their mind. They might even award ancient Troy to the Greeks, again. The Greeks must be amused.
Takhabur. A simple Arabic word has acquired terrifying connotations and meanings in the hands of Arab depots and potentates and their security agents and kangaroo courts. Journalists, former officials, dissidents, and doubters can spend many years in prison because of that word. From the Persian Gulf to the stagnant Nile, from Manama to Cairo, the regimes are using it to get you.
Remember the word: takhabur. Other non-Arab regimes in the Middle East (Iran, Turkey, Kurds, maybe Israel?) also use their own version of it to intimidate, but it sounds so pregnant with meanings and connotations in the Arabic language. So threatening on multiple levels.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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Islamist Reform: Joking with the Arabic Language in Yemen……..

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Until a few weeks ago the main party or bloc that wielded power in Yemen, actually mostly in Sanaa, was called “Islah”. Islah is dominated by the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, along with some other tribal and Islamist allies. So far so good, but the real joke starts with the word “Islah” which means “reform” in Arabic (when you reform or repair something you are doing Islah: got that?). No reform was seen in Yemen under Islah and its allies. Now the Houthis and allies are also talking reform, no doubt according to their own definition of reform.

In politics and business, poor Yemen is not different from much of the rest of its neighborhood. In the usual Orwellian Arab fashion, reform means corruption, patriotism means acquiescing in repression, unity means tribalism, stability means stagnation. The de facto ruling family of the capital of this Yemen were the Al Ahmar, from one of the largest tribes in Northern Yemen. President Generalisimo Abd Rabu Hadi (a.k.a Al Zombie) was as much a figurehead leader then, a few weeks ago, as he is now under the Houthi militias. Even with his 99.8% of the vote in 2012. (He still beat Egypt’s Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi who could only eke out 97.5% of the vote, still beat the hapless Morsi who had won only about 51% against a Mubarak crony, and he even beat the recent bete noir of the West, Bashar Al Assad and his paltry 88%).

Yemen is like Afghanistan: political matters are inevitably settled (or unsettled) in their own fashion. Foreign intervention, be it Saudi, Iranian, or American can only influence developments, not shape them. Foreign intervention is not decisive beyond the short term. Egyptians learned that costly lesson in the 1960s and the Saudis have learned it again and again in recent years. Ancient Ethiopian and Persian invaders also learned that lesson many centuries ago. The GCC-Western arranged transfer of power in 2012 has apparently failed as much as any other foreign intervention. It was never taken much seriously, and now it is dead even in Sanaa.

Yemen, the alleged source and genesis of the original Arabian tribes is largely ignored and shunned by its closest Arab neighbors. The Saudis, in a moment of royal madness, briefly invited faraway Morocco and Jordan to join the GCC in 2011. But not Yemen. Yemen is best left alone by outsiders.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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Bahrain: the Usual Arab Tale of Corruption, Repression, and Sectarianism………

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“Black and yellow concrete barricades block the roads entering this wealthy Sunni enclave, where foreign-born Sunni soldiers in armored personnel carriers guard the mansions of the ruling family and the business elite. Beyond the enclave are impoverished villages of Shiites, about 70 percent of Bahrain’s more than 650,000 citizens, where the police skirmish nightly with young men wielding rocks and, increasingly, improvised weapons like homemade guns that use fire extinguishers to shoot rebar.…………. Pearl Square, where demonstrators staged a weekslong sit-in three years ago, has now been turned into a permanent military camp, its namesake statue demolished, in a grim memorial of the day in March 2011 when vehicles and troops from the neighboring Sunni monarchies rolled across the causeway from Saudi Arabia to crush the Shiite-dominated movement for democracy……………”

The turmoil in Bahrain is not just about discrimination and what many locals consider a form of apartheid: all that could be taken care of by an elected parliament, something that Bahrain does not have. Another major motivator is unchallenged corruption by the Al Khalifa ruling clan and their tribal and business partners. Bahrain is a small island country that had an oil boom before the other Gulf countries, even before Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. But the oil resources of Bahrain are limited and there is now less for the ruling oligarchs to control and abuse. A real estate boom tied to the finance and tourism industries made many of the potntates and their cronies rich. But that has slowed down in recent years, forcing the Saudis to encourage a move by some GCC and Arab institutions to Manama.

Now there is intense competition as the rulers use more of their limited resources to import thousands of foreign mercenaries from places like Pakistan, Jordan, Syria, and others to augment the Saudi forces dealing with the continued uprising (now in its fourth year). The fact that the U.S. Fifth Fleet continues to be stationed in Manama is now widely taken as an implicit approval by Washington of the repression: a Saudi military base and an American naval base in the same restless neighborhood may inevitably lead to certain conclusions. There are now signs that some fringe elements of the opposition may be meeting regime violence with their own low-level sporadic violence.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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