Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Treaty Down the Throat:
Iraq's Nuri al-Maliki is caught between a rock and a hard place. The rock is the Bush administration that is pushing incessantly for a long-term security treaty with Iraq (only it won't be called a treaty in order to avoid Senate hearings). They want the treaty finalized before next January, preferably before next November, and the next (Democratic) president stuck with it. Who said graduates of such places as Yale, Harvard Business School, and Wyoming are not smart?
Mr. al-Maliki has taken to wearing one of those clip-on ties: he clips it on in Washington and Europe, but he pulls it off before landing in Tehran or Qom, something he did this week. Columns and editorials are being written on his tie, or non-tie.
It is that old Arab saying: when in Qom....

Hardly anybody writes in support of the long-term treaty that is not called a treaty. I have not seen an Arab column or editorial openly supporting it. There are some supporters, but they are too shy to come out for it. One editorial in Asharq alawsat managed to criticize it while making the case for some form of US-Iraqi pact. Of course none of them are likely to have read the draft, anymore than I have. Which reminds me: I better find a copy online.

With the UN "mandate" expiring later this year, the Bush admin is pushing hard for its conclusion- the treaty. It won't have to be approved by the US Senate, the Iraqi parliament, Ayatollah al-Sistani, and the militias because none of the above approves of it. It is not clear where the competing bands of former and future tribal thugs now called Awakening Councils, Sons of Iraq, or Sons of "Whatever" stand on the issue.

Th treaty will ensure that Senator McCain, in the unlikely and unfortunate event that he is elected president, will never have to surrender, my friends.

Speaking of which. Mr. McCain reiterated his idea that US troops remaining in Iraq are not a problem: it is the US casualties that matter. Again, he compared Iraq to Germany or Japan. Cherries and cacti, senator. Iraq is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, tribal place with a thin veneer of a common national history. Violence has ebbed because some of the thugs, the terrorists have been bought off. As soon as they see that the US intends to remain forever, the bullets will start flying again. The Brits tried a treaty that made Iraq seem subservient to them, and it led to continued instability, including a pro-Nazi coup in 1941 (Mr. McCain is surely unaware of that bit of history).

The price of the ETF on an Iran war has gone up again. Just a everybody had given up, and Arab media had shifted to an American-Iranian rapprochement based on perceived or suspected "common intetests" of the Mullahs in Tehran and the Mullahs in Washington.That comes after ominous statements by an Israeli minister who wants to replace the outgoing Olmert, Mr. Bush, and their brain-trust Danial Pipes.

Foreign Policy is quoted by Elaph that "Egypt and Jordan are among the most dangerous places for terrorists." This is probably true in the short term, but in the long term mismanagement, corruption, and lack of freedom tends to breed more terrorists: so, why breed them if you don't want them?

The piece says that King Abdul, de Jourdanie, deepened his ties with Sunni tribes in Iraq and has shared intelligence with the US and Israel, after the al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) bombing of a hotel in Amman that killed many people. Which means that before the attack in his own country, and so long as AQI was killing Iraqi Shi'as and American soldiers, his most tribal majesty was happy enough with the way things were going. It is not clear if that was before or after he got to address a joint session of Congress.

Desert Justice- Whipping it in Arabia:
Aafaq reports that a Saudi judge has sentenced a university professor and one of his female graduate students to jail terms and hundreds of lashes. The professor will get 600 lashes and eight months in prison, if he survives the lashes. She, being more dainty, gets 250 lashes and six months in prison, if she survives the lashes.The judge believes that the professor encouraged the woman to split with her husband.

Apparently she talked with her professor about her research paper and once talked about her marriage. Two months later she sought divorce, which her husband agreed to for the price of Rial 70, 000. After she paid him, the husband sued that the professor had talked his wife into seeking a divorce.
No evidence was presented, none was needed.

The chief of the Saudi religious militia/police (Mutawa'een) is asking for a 20% salary raise for his staff. He calls the raise a compensation for "danger". Maybe they are positioning themselves, financially, for termination of service.

In Iran, a major state-owned company has threatened its bachelor staff woith firinmg if they do not get married. The merry singles have until September 21 to meet their moral and religious responsibilities by gettingh hitched or they'll get fired.

President Hugo Chavez has offered to send a Venezulan-made bicycle to President Bush. He claims it is made in Venezuela with Iranian nuclear technology (canned laughter).

Apparently cement shortage is becoming a serious issue in the GCC Persian Gulf states. And apparently Saudi Arabia holds one key to the supply problem. Bahraini newspapers report that the Prime Minister (no less) of Bahrain has met with the Saudi Ambassador on this issue. Meanwhile, Kuwaiti media report that a caravan of trucks loaded with cement were prevented by Saudi border guards from crossing into Kuwait.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

In This Issue:

Iraq Resists US Treaty.
Bush and his court: what a nice bi-partisan guy.
Cardiac NBC.
Fed-speak on Inflation and Wages.
Chacun a son gout: love in Third World cities.

Iraq Resists US Treaty:
Fresh from a trip to Tehran and Qom, and visiting some Arab states, Nuri al-Maliki has finally opined what he thinks of the draft US-Iraq security deal (Bush-secret, no one outside gov’t yet knows details). He seems to agree with everybody else (except perhaps Iyad Allawi) that it is a bad deal for Iraq, including: Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Muqtada al-Sadr, Ahmad Chalabi, various Sunni groups including PM al-Hashimi, as well as many Arabs and Iran’s Khamenai, et al.
AL-Maliki said that the talks have reached a dead end and that the draft agreement Mr. Bush is intent on ramming down his throat violates Iraq’s sovereignty.

"Today Muqtada al-Sadr announced that a new "Special Group" will be formed from his al-Mahdi Army to resist the American Occupation".

Meanwhile, the US premier national security expert, the potential next LBJ, Senator John McCain, has not yet opined on the matter. He is AWOL on this matter, unless his Florida hope Joe Lieberman is opining for him.

So why is the US pressing for a deal that Iraqis apparently overwhelmingly oppose because it clearly not acceptable for a sovereign state? I have not yet seen one Iraqi opinion outside Kurdistan supporting it (Mr. Allawi has not spoken yet).
Who the hell is advising them? What are they thinking? The idiots are making sure that next resurgence of terrorism in Iraq will not only be Sunnis or Shi’as, but both. They need to go back to 1920 and the years after: read up some more of the history.

"The American-Iranian partnership in the New Regional Order." alHayat columnist.

"Huge forces begin widespread operations in al-Amarah, supported with air power. The goal is to eliminate al-Mahdi army fighters from the city."

What a nice bi-partisan guy:
"Mr. Bush said that he disagrees with the Supreme Court decision about the Guantanamo detainees, but that he will abide by the ruling".

Fedspeak on Inflation and Wages:
A couple of TV analysts noted this AM that the CPI has gone up about 4+% this year, but that wages have declined. They noted that the Fed thinks this is good for the economy, because higher prices for gas, food, and medical care have not reached wages yet.That means: the average worker is getting screwed, and that is why things aren’t as bad as we think!

The analysts (on CNBC) claimed that consumers are being made to worry by all the headlines about increased prices, that the headlines may cause them to worry about inflation, and they might actually demand higher wages, and that would be real inflationary and harm the economy!

So far, they inferred, they have not sought higher wages to match the increased living costs, and that is a good thing! They also agreed that a weaker economy (perhaps they meant higher unemployment?) helps keep wages down and limits inflation, and that is a good thing!
(This is not exactly what I was taught in graduate school, but then I have not agreed with many things I was taught in school, beginning with kindergarten and summer religious school (I quit after one month) all the way through college and graduate school).

These analysts did not elaborate on who it is good for. There seems to be some agreement among various analysts this past week that price inflation is good for the economy, as long as it is not transmitted to wages. I suspect they were focusing on the effect on stock prices rather than on the national economy.
Now, talking about real world economics…

Cardiac NBC:
"NBC News Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert has died." News Agencies.
What is the matter with NBC? Why are its best public figures dying? First David Bloom in Iraq, now Tim Russert in Washington.

Chacun a son gout- In Third World cities:
"A court in Singapore has sentenced a man to 18 lashes followed by 14 years in prison. This man was original, I think, if anything : he was convicted of sexually harassing women by sniffing their armpits."

An Egyptian court has refused to approve the marriage of a 92 year old Arab man to a female who is younger by 75 years which makes her 17 years old. Usually when Egyptian media says “an Arab man” it means a man from one of the Persian Gulf states. Egyptian media quotes the Ministry of Justice that they do not approve of age differentials over 25 years, and that they frown upon trafficking in women.

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