Monday, May 29, 2017

Washington Post didn’t disclose that writer who penned positive piece about Trump’s Saudi trip is paid by Saudi government

"The Washington Post allowed contributor Ed Rogers to praise Donald Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia without disclosing that he’s a lobbyist for the Saudi Royal Court. The Post has repeatedly allowed Rogers to promote his lobbying clients’ interests without disclosure."

When Syrian rebel supporters report the murder of Syrian civilians at the hands of US bombs it isn't to a big story

It is not a big story

Can you imagine the international uproar (and the tears of Western correspondents) if this was a threat by an Arab against Israeli civilians?

"With Lebanon No Longer Hiding Hezbollah's Role, Next War Must Hit Civilians Where It Hurts, Israeli Minister Says"

Saudi-Israeli alliance

"Kara tweeted that he was “surprised by the warm attitude of representatives from the Gulf states,” crediting Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel as a game changer."

It is hilarious that DC think tanks are rushing to rescue the Saudi regime in its feud with Qatar

While Brookings is in the camp of the Qatari regime, the rest of the DC think tank scene is fully in the camp of Saudi and UAE regime money.  They all at a moment's notice discovered the evil of Qatar.  

If you are a free thinker and find yourself in agreement with the Washington, DC consensus on foreign policy:

ask yourself: where am I wrong?

Does Israel have a motivation to invade Lebanon? Did Nazi Germany have a "motivation" to invade Poland and the rest?

"On the other hand, if you factor in the increasing tensions between Hezbollah and Israel, then it could also prove to be the motivation for an invasion."  Did Israel have a Hizbullah motivation in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, even before there was Hizbullah to invade and attack Lebanon? Do aggressor and occupying entities need motivations to attack and occupy?  So should resistance to occupation be dissolved lest the existence give the occupation force motivation?  Should the French resistance have dissolved itself lest the Nazis used their existence as a motivation to attack and kill more?

Mahmoud Abbas affirmed that he is following the matter of Palestinian prisoners minute-by-minute

UAE/Saudi alliance versus Qatar: Some remarks

1) this did not start out of nothing. There were signs before. There were more signs before in Qatari regime media than in the Saudi/UAE media. Qatari regime media have been for months swiping but mildly against things in Saudi Arabia and UAE.
2) This last round was clearly launched by the Saudi/UAE alliance, and it is clear that it was prepared.  Avalanche of articles and interviews were tossed into the ring immediately in the wake of Trump's visit.
3) Ironically, the Saudi regime media attack Qatar for being too close to US and Israel and to Iran.  In other words, the Saudi regime still maintains it holds a pure position against Israel.
4) the Qatari regime media are still playing defensive: they refrain from attacking UAE and Saudi Arabia head on.  The only thing that was launched yesterday was the video released "anonymously" on Youtube against the sons of Zayid in UAE. There are hints that this was produced by the Qatari regime.
5) Some Saudis are still publicly urging caution and restraints: these are the Saudi intellectuals and writers who are Ikhwanist and are fiercely opposed to what is (falsely) called in Saudi Arabia "the liberals", who are the staunch supporters of Muhammad bin Salman.
6) There is an overkill in the Saudi regime media: the likes of which we have not seen since the 1960s and Saudi regime campaign against Nasser.  Saudi regime media never plays matter to that degree: but then again, this Muhammad bin Salman plays to a different tune in a new style.
7) Qatari regime media expresses hope of reconciliation and still insists that the matter is merely a misunderstanding.  They are increasing the tone against Iranian and Syrian regime perhaps to show their credentials.
8) as someone who followed the Qatari-Saudi feud for years (and contributed to it on Aljazeera in the past) I sense something different this time. As if there is a Saudi scheme (not the first time) for a coup in Doha.  The Qatari regime media and diplomatic response to the crisis in the first day exhibited signs of divisions and awkwardness.
9) Qatar attends to this feud with far more disadvantages than in the past: Aljazeera is no more the strong weapon it was.  

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Most uncovered stories (by Western media) about the Middle East this week

Protests in Morocco.
Protests in Tunisia.
Protests in countries led by pro-US/pro-Saudi Arabia don't engender sympathy in the West.


If Bono would use the time he spends meeting with politicians and war criminals, he could have learned to play a musical instrument by now.  

Who says Saudi Shura Council is insignificant?

The Shura Council met for days this week and reached a consensus: that a new Order named after King Salman shall be introduced.  Long live democracy--Saudi style.

Qatari-Saudi/UAE rift intensfies

Aljazeera posted this cartoon.  A huge Saudi regime campaign followed on social media against it.  Aljazeera later apologized and removed it.  The cartoonist, Ikhwanist Ahmad Rahman, closed his Facebook page.  

What do you call war criminal militias armed and financed by Western governments?

"Both are in the custody of a counterterrorism militia aligned with the Western-backed government." Even though this militia has been found to have committed war crimes.  

Saudi Arabia and Jihadi terrorism

"Trump’s speech on Islam was nuanced and showed empathy for the Muslim victims of jihadist terrorism (who make up as much as 95 percent of the total, by one estimate). He seemed to zero in on the problem when he said, “No discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists . . . safe harbor, financial backing and the social standing needed for recruitment.” But Trump was talking not of his host, Saudi Arabia, but rather of Iran. Now, to be clear, Iran is a destabilizing force in the Middle East and supports some very bad actors. But it is wildly inaccurate to describe it as the source of jihadist terror. According to an analysis of the Global Terrorism Database by Leif Wenar of King’s College London, more than 94 percent of deaths caused by Islamic terrorism since 2001 were perpetrated by the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and other Sunni jihadists. Iran is fighting those groups, not fueling them. Almost every terrorist attack in the West has had some connection to Saudi Arabia. Virtually none has been linked to Iran."

Disclaimer: I don't know if Fareed Zakaria plagiarized this article. But I noticed that Washington Post editors inserted this disclaimer: "(Jamie Tarabay makes the same point.)

Hizbullah and druge money: the case of Joseph Asmar

This is a story spreading in US media, and in Gulf regimes media.  What is the story? There is a Lebanese crook named Joseph Asmar.  DEA agents entrapped him by posing as drug dealers who needed to launder money.  In taped conversations, he bragged about his ties to all sorts of people in the Middle East, including Hizbullah.  There was no evidence found of any links between him and HIzbullah, so the story become: "U.S. says Hezbollah associate pleads guilty to money laundering conspiracy"

PS Notice how US media obediently carry US government stories without requiring evidence. 

Sons of Zayid media: The National

"Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has once again been ranked by travellers as the world’s second favourite landmark, according to TripAdvisor." (thanks Fred)  Now who in the world does not want to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque? Who?

Qatar, hoping to appease the Saudi regime expels a Saudi activist

Qatari regime media are still avoiding attacking the Saudi regime despite full assault on the Qatari regime and the Emir in Saudi regime media.  Today, hoping to appease the Saudi regime, Qatari regime returns a Saudi activist to Qatar.

Child marriages in the US

"In fact, more than 167,000 young people age 17 and under married in 38 states between 2000 and 2010, according to a search of available marriage license data by a group called Unchained at Last, which aims to ban child marriage. The search turned up cases of 12-year-old girls married in Alaska, Louisiana and South Carolina, while other states simply had categories of “14 and younger.” Unchained at Last was not able to get data for the other states. But it extrapolated that in the entire country, there were almost 250,000 child marriages between 2000 and 2010. Some backing for that estimate comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, which says that at least 57,800 Americans age 15 to 17 reported being in marriages in 2014."

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Great Bargain?

My weekly article for Al-Akhbar: "Trump of Arabis: The Great Bargain or the Great Disappointments"?

Not to defend Erdogan but...

Regarding the clash between Erdogan's thugs and protesters in Washington, DC: I looked at the footage and I was stuck at how close protesters were allowed to get to Erdogan by Secret Service.  Can you imagine porters being allowed that close to Netanyahu?  Netanyahu's armed thugs would have shot at them without even a warning, and US media and Congress would have applauded.  

Friday, May 26, 2017

What are those Saudis doing?

Saudi regime sold this spectacle to Trump as part of the Center for combating extremism in the Kingdom.  In reality, this is part of the Ministry of Interior's program of surveillance to spot and punish anyone who disagrees with the regime.

PS Some observed that most the employees are watching porn on their screens.  

Saudi-Israeli alliance: Al-Arabiyya refers to Israeli occupation as "capture"--the same term favored by American Zionists

Moroccan Minister called being a Christian or a Shi`ite a "virus"

The Awqaf Minister in Morocco called being Christian or Shi`ite a "virus".  Notice that Arab regime bigoted rhetoric against Christians, Shi`ites, and Alawites don't get cover in Western media and don't result in Congressional hearings.  

US Travel Ban and Muslim despots

This is the opinion of a largely conservative court: "U.S. Chief Circuit Judge Roger Gregory wrote that the text of Trump’s executive order, which was challenged in courts across the country for targeting members of a particular faith, “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”"  Yet, just last week, in the wake of Trump's visit, the secretary-general of the Muslim League said that all statements and decisions by Trump were not directed against Islam or Muslims but against extremists.  

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Things have reached a point where reconciliation becomes difficult

Saudi propagandists have been circulating this letter alleging a split in the Qatari royal family.

Saudi youth have been circulating this video about Saudi financial giving to US

What is interesting is that some Saudis have been voicing sympathy with Qatar on social media

Many of the intellectuals who have been sympathetic to Turkey, Qatar, and or Ikhwan, have been voicing criticisms of Saudi media's attacks on Qatar.  This fellow is the head of the Saudi association of political science. He says below: "It really distresses us that today's Saudi newspapers are not like yesterday's newspapers.  And the TV channels attributed to Saudi Arabia have no restraints and lacks objectivity, credibility, and professional ethics."

د. سرحان العتيبي (@sirhanalotaibi)
‏يؤسفنا جدا أن الصحف السعودية اليوم ليست صحف الأمس، والقنوات المنسوبة للسعودية ليس لها ضابط وتفتقد إلى الموضوعية والمصداقية والأخلاق المهنية.

Would you not agree that Elliott Abrams can be quite philosophical?

He says: "Dictators don’t last forever".  As opposed to democratic leaders, who do last forever?

Please don't attack Trump: the director of the official Saudi lobby in DC gets very offended

Salman Al-Ansari (@Salansar1)
Are these polls the same as the ones that said his chances of winning the elections is 1 to 10 !?…

Nostalgia for the Soviet Union among Russians

"According to a 2014 poll by the Levada Center, 57% of Russians regretted the collapse of the Soviet Union."

Slaughtering Yemeni civilians will create jobs, jobs, jobs

" “Trump Says Arms Deal He Signed With Saudi Arabia Will Create Jobs,” was the NPR headline (5/20/17). “Trump Says Saudi Arabia Deal Will Create ‘Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,’” CBS Miami (5/20/17) reported. Neither of these reports used the words “Yemen” or “bombing” or “famine.” "

Not that Obama was different from Trump here

"There can be absolutely no coincidence at all that this latest repressive action follows the trip of the US president to the Gulf. The public show of support to Saudi Arabia extends to its neighbour Bahrain, whose ruling elite is nothing more than an extension of Riyadh. To witness such violence immediately following the visit of the president sends one very clear message: Trump backs the repression of democracy in the Gulf."

The real aim of Israeli-Saudi alliance

"The warming ties between Israel and US-aligned Arab regimes has come at the expense of solidarity with Palestinians." "According to The New York Times, Netanyahu’s flirtation with the Saudis and other regional governments is aimed at “subordinating the Palestinian dispute as a secondary issue.” " (thanks Amir)

Justin Trudeau

This man is all gimmicks and photo ops and no substance.  Enough of liberal fascination with him.

Is this a new Western message to Muslim veiled women?

Is the message here that Muslim veiled women would be tolerated in the West if they are willing to kiss a Jewish man in public?

Qatari-Saudi/UAE feud

Thus far, this is clear: Qatar does not want to escalate and it weirdly focusing ints attacks (rather mildly) on the media of UAE and Saudi regime as if those media are independent and acting on their own.  They also are using the American theme of "false news" and rumors.  But the behavior of the Qatari regime media on that night reveals something else: as if there are divisions on top, and lack of a coordinated message.  The Saudi and and UAE media have been preparing for this: it was clear that things have been simmering.  Qatari regime media have been mocking and needling Saudi Arabia and UAE for a while now.  The funny part is this: Saudi regime media focus their attack on Qatari regime on the charge that it is too close to Israel and Iran, and that it hosts US military base.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Saudi regime and Qatari regime journalists engaging in bitter verbal feuds

The director of official Saudi lobby in DC threatens to finish off Qatar

It says "Whoever quibbles with Al-Riyadh, the capital of the Arab and Islamic world, and the capital of combating terrorism at the global level, and capital of the economic changes in the region, will collide with a wall which will finish off his existence".  I see a diplomatic offensive underway.

كل من يناكف(الرياض)عاصمة العالم العربي والإسلامي؛وعاصمة مكافحة الإرهاب عالميا؛وعاصمة التحولات الإقتصادية في المنطقة،سيصطدم بجدار ينهي وجوده.

Qatari news agency was not hacked

Al-Arabiyya makes a strong case that Qatari news agency site was not hacked.

A Saudi prince visits the battle front

Prince Jalwi bin `Abdul-`Aziz visited an "advanced" post on the border with Yemen.  They spread Persian rugs for him.

My podcast interview for Intercept on Trump's adventures in Arabia

Jeremy Scahill interviewed me for this podcast on The Intercept: Trump's adventures in Arabia.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Stupid Western media theories about the origins of the Saudi-Qatari rift

Of course, it will start now: that Iran will be blamed for hacking the Qatari News Agency website and starting the rift between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.  Only those who don't know a word of Arabic and who has not read or watched the media of the two regimes in the last 12 hours will believe this.  It was clear that Saudi regime was prepared for this in advance: the column already appeared in the morning papers against Qatar, and the guests were already lined up to voice criticisms of the Qatari regime and its Emir.  It makes more sense that the Saudi regime was behind the hacking if there was any hacking. The statements of the Emir sounded true to me, and they are in line with the previous stances of Qatar.  So either there was an inside sabotage within the Qatari regime or the Saudis were behind the hacking with the assistance of their friends the Israelis.  And if Iran was behind the hacking, why were the statements about Iran not far more favorable?  

This is what you see if you try to access Aljazeera from UAE

Is there a power struggle in Qatar?

I wonder.