Monday, September 28, 2009

Gulf Views on Iran and the West, the Audacious and the Craven, Dr. Strangelove of Arabia, Slim Pickens……….

The Audacious:
“The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is discussing Iran's nuclear capabilities just as Israel accused the monitoring body of holding back on its most recent report on Iran. Israel says it "expects the international community to take substantive and prompt steps to halt Iran's military nuclear programme."…….
“But what about Israel's nuclear arsenal? It is a well-known secret that Israel has nuclear capabilities and nuclear weapons. Officially, Israel has a policy of not confirming or denying its nuclear capabilities……”
He is just asking, I think……

The almost craven:
“In a few days Iranian and European negotiators will meet. I don’t want to say that we are having a repeat of yesterday’s Iraq (but he will anyway), but riding the same train of challenge will lead to the same results…..Does Iran face a crisis or an historic opportunity? I think both doors are open……Iranian are smarter than Saddam Hussein. Iran can reassure the ‘international party’ and she will have to provide a new position with enough transparency and ‘accommodation’ which would reduce tensions…..Otherwise , inflexibility will lead to tougher sanctions and…..remember that since World War II two of every three international sanctions ended with a hot war……”
Except that Saddam Hussein turned out not to have any WMD, and that the evidence may have been fabricated. Even I believed it and cheered on that war in 2003. No more.

The totally craven:
“The Iranian regime is weak internally, its legitimacy reduced after the election crisis……Negotiating with Tehran while she is weak can be dangerous, for the regime may become adventurous in order to divert…….Iran may offer to negotiate everything, not just the nuclear issue, in order to reduce pressure and preempt an Israeli military strike…..That means we should watch Hezbullah, Iran’s most loyal follower and agent…we must also not forget Hamas…..”
Okay no negotiations according to this chap. Does this mean this editor, or his Highness his boss who owns the newspaper, is volunteering with the first military strike force that flies over the Persian Plateau toward Qom? Ever see Dr. Strangelove? Slim Pickens anyone?

Gulf Currency Union, Issues of Pegging and Trade, Ibn Saud and Demography…….

Gulf states should implement a monetary union and single currency in phases, Kuwait's central bank governor said in comments published on Sunday, casting further doubt on a 2010 target date. Due to the limited progress achieved so far... I believe that the best way is to work out an administrative plan for the monetary union and single currency and implement it in stages……
The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) plans to launch monetary union and a single currency in 2010, although many experts believe the target date is too ambitious and unrealistic…….Sheikh Salem said the administrative plan should focus on the institutional requirements of the union including financial, trade, statistical and common market policies. He also said that printing banknotes for the new currency would take three years to complete.

“The GCC states have agreed on a number of monetary union requirements but failed to reach consensus on others. They have also failed to fully implement a customs union launched at the beginning of 2003……..”

He was stating what I knew, what many have known for some time.
Finally, it is good to hear practical public statements, for a change, from GCC officials on the Gulf currency union project. Economically and politically it makes sense to do so. Without implementing some gradual preliminary steps the whole project will be a disaster. It is better, much less costly, to admit short-term failure and work on redrawing plans, than to try to force the issue and create huge problems later on.
I recall some years ago when it was impossible to get everyone in the GCC to peg their currencies to the same anchor. Some preferred the dollar, others the SDR, and one a special basket.

It was absurd to expect anything to be in place by 2010 without first ironing out the differences on such issues as trade, and without reaching the agreement on the grueling and time-consuming process of the actual issue of notes and coins. This is something that I had mentioned earlier on this site. I believe I mentioned Zollverein in Arabia more than once on this site.

It can be shocking how little interest both the GCC general public and politicians have shown in the issue of currency union. It was being treated as a ‘political’ issue that concerns only the officials. It does have political implications, of course, but its immediate impact would be to affect economic issues. Even the legislatures and what passes for legislatures in some countries have rarely ventured to deal with the issue, most likely because they are technically incapable of doing so.

Of course, having the union confined to one large country (Saudi Arabia) and two smaller countries (Kuwait and Bahrain) does have political implications- I expected Qatar to pull out at some point. There are always concerns, valid concerns, about the loss of sovereignty and political independence. After all, the current borders of Saudi Arabia were extended when old Ibn Saud expanded out of his native Najd to swallow several smaller kingdoms and emirates of the Arabian Peninsula during the 20th century.
(Ibn Saud also expanded in another way; demographically, by marrying into almost every tribe he could get his lusty hands on; eventually filling the kingdom with thousands of princelings. But that will be a topic for another day.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why are speeches of Qaddafi and Ahmadinejad covered live, but nobody does so for speeches of King Abdullah, Mubarak, and others? Consistently networks carry live the speeches of tehse tow, and maybe Hugo Chavez. So what do these tow have that others in the Middle east do not have?

1. Because they are more important?

2. Because they are wiser?

3. Because they are more dangerous?

4. Because they are more entertaining?

5. Because they are cool?

6. Because they are hunks?

I would immediately take out the one about wisdom, although there is a Middle East saying about “taking wisdom from the mouths of mad men”. I would rate (4) and (1) at the top, followed by (3). I suppose at middle school (junior high) one can say these guys are cooler than others. By the time one gets to high school, they become hunkier, but not these guys.

That Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah should work on their abs and get hunkier somehow; try to get cooler and polish up their charisma, or at least rent some.

Dumbest question heard in the US, especially on the media: why are these guys allowed into the USA? Why are they here? One CNN anchor Kyra Phillips even asked: “why is he allowed to speak?” And I don’t think she is even really blonde!

The answer is simple: they have the right…… unless you want the UN to move to Geneva or Tegucigalpa (look it up).

Oops the loquacious Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is on CNN again ranting about Qaddafi. Whatever his motives, the good rabbi should drop this; it only gives him more attention. It’s not like Qaddafi is planning on immigrating and living in the New York area.



Friedman on Dick Cheney’s Wisdom, Roadmap for Iran, ‘Mission Accomplished’ in Lebanon, Horse left the Barn……

For the first time….we have a glimmer of hope for a diplomatic solution to this problem — as long as we are not too diplomatic, as long as the Iranian regime is made to understand that biting economic sanctions are an absolute certainty and military force by Israel is a live possibility.....
"While real sanctions are necessary to exploit this moment, they are not sufficient. We also need to keep alive the prospect that Israel could do something crazy. I don’t favor Israeli military action against Iran and hope we’re telling Israel that privately. But I do believe that U.S. officials, particularly the secretary of defense, Robert Gates, need to stop saying that publicly. Gates is a smart power player. He knows better. If any U.S. official is asked for an opinion on whether Israel should be allowed to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, there is only one right answer: Refer them to former Vice President Dick Cheney’s 2005 comment that Israel “might well decide to act first”………”

Thomas Friedman must think Iran's mullahs and other leaders are as gullible as some of his readers, those who buy the argument. And to have to go back to Dick Cheney for fonts of wisdom on such an issue; that is really scraping the bottom of the diplomatic barrel. Oh yes, we can rely on the man who gave us Iraq….to give us an Iran war. Brilliant.

But I call much of Friedman’s stuff ‘feel good’ analysis. He also announced ‘mission accomplished’ in Lebanon just after the last election, and I commented on it at the time. Lebanon still does not have a cabinet, nor can it have one without the Hezbullah bloc; so much for the new era.

I would guess that the horse has already left the barn as far as Iran's nuclear program is concerned. In fact it left the barn the day after George W Bush added Iran to his ill-conceived and sophomoric ‘Axis of Evil’ just after they had helped in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Dark Slavery, White Slavery, Baser Instincts, Contemptuous Familiarity, Creating New Enemies.....

Our Coming Problem: (no he does not mean the Iranian nuclear program, Jihadist terrorism, petroleum prices, or the spread of Shi’ism. It is more basic than that).
“ An American court has ordered a Saudi citizen to pay his Indonesian maid $ 143 thousand, compensation for wages he had refused to pay her for seven years, and for forcing her to work 14 hour days and did not allow her weekend leave and holidays….
“The Saudi Shaura Council last July deleted a stipulation giving maids 7 hours of daily rest, between 10 PM and 5 AM. The council justified this deletion using the ‘special needs’ of Saudi families and the traditions of Saudi society. This type of abuse and worse has become part of family life not only in the Gulf states, but has spread to other Arab countries, where abuse and exploitation is even worse…..Then there is the case of the Saudi graduate student who is in an American jail for abusing his Indonesian maid……”

There are reports that the Saudi Labor Importing Authority(there actually is an organization that negotiates with source countries) is negotiating with some Central Asian Republics for the import of housemaids from these countries… Saudi Media

From “dark” slavery to “white” slavery. The housewives will be sure to get more creative now, more “basic”, and so will some of their husbands…….
What is that saying about ‘familiarity breeding contempt’?
Cheers and Ramadan Kareem

Nuclear Mullahs, Nuclear Shaikhs, Nuclear Chic…….

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates is days away from awarding the largest ever energy contract in the Middle East for the development of a nuclear power plant, industry sources said on Tuesday. The contract to build at least four reactors is expected to cost the world's third-largest oil producer as much as $40 billion, consultancy Eurasia Group said in a research note published in August.
“President Nicolas Sarkozy was in the UAE in May to open a military base, and some analysts saw the visit as enhancing the French consortium's prospects of winning the contract….."France is already a major partner to UAE in the defence area and I wouldn't be surprised if they are leading in the bid now."……………..”
Cheers and Ramadan Kareem

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Plato’s Gulf Republic: Doctorates in Watermelon Studies

Dr. (Fadhel …….) Minister of Public Works and Municipality may not be in danger…... Meanwhile assembly member Dr. (Waleed …..) objected in a speech……But assembly member Dr. (Jama’an …….) requested a “To Whom it May Concern” legal clearance for the session on Swine Flu …All this while assembly member Dr. (Mohammed …..) wondered why the government refuses to attend the special session on the Swine Flu…….For his part assembly member Dr. ( Faisal……) aimed had in his crosshairs the minister of……

I might add that Dr. Watermelon, however, declined to comment, playing his mysterious cards very close to his hairy chest……
And what about Dr. Doolittle, Dr. Dre, Dr. No, Dr. Kevorkian, et al?
I almost forgot my favorite, second favorite, Dr.: Dr. Maxwell Edison.
With all them Drs. (real and otherwise; serious, online, and Shari’a) You’d think it is a veterinarian’s convention on the shores of the (Persian) Gulf……
Cheers and Ramadan Kareem
Dr. Mohammed

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Song of a Prince: Saved by a Terrorist’s “Anatomy” and the Mufti’s Shower Tunes

May Allah Protect You? The two companies will join efforts with a television satellite network to produce the new video clip about the Prince……The lyrics will be written by famous Saudi poet…..Director said it will be a major effort.....”

As I reported here, an al-Qaeda man blew himself up in the presence of the son of Saudi Arabia’s top anti-terrorist chief, Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef Bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. He is the son of the country’s new strongman Prince Nayef, but that is a mere coincidence; almost everybody over there publicly believes that he got the job on merit- and I believe that they do publicly believe that.
The man managed to kill himself because the explosives were hidden in his rectum (apparently royal security is reluctant to inspect recti in the presence of royal princes). His body, as I mentioned, bore the brunt of the explosion.
Now two major Saudi media companies are joining efforts to produce a song about the terrorist suicide attempt (these attempts are always terrorists when they happen in Saudi Arabia, but not when they kill the ‘right’ kind of people in places like Iraq).
Needless to say the video clip portrays HRH the Prince in a heroic light, and it will become the new hit on Saudi Arabia’s top Forty Hits, right after the favorite shower songs of the Mufti.
Don’t expect any praise for the part of the man’s anatomy that saved the Prince.
Cheers and Ramadan Kareem<
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