Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Ayad Allawi as Willie Nelson: on the Road Again, Making Music with his Friends……….

“On the road again - Just can't wait to get on the road again.
The life I love is making music with my friends And I can't wait to get on the road again. On the road again…….”
Willie Nelson

NINA reports that Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed al-Nahiyan, Vice Ruler of the Western Province, yesterday received Ayad Allawi who is visiting the UAE. So he is still busy campaigning all over the capitals of the oligarchies for the job of prime minister of…….. Iraq.

On Iraqi politics, the Los Angeles Times asserted that Ayad Allawi of the Aliraqiya coalition is in fact a “secular Shi’a”, and that his coalition of blocs is in fact a “secular moderate” coalition once you take out the odd Islamist group or two and the hundred Ba’athists, or two.

For his part Allawi, taking heart from all this, has now printed new business cards that read:

Dr. Ayad H. Allawi, Title: Secular Shi’a Corporation: Moderate Secular Aliraqiya Coalition.
Cheers Mohammed

Monday, April 19, 2010

Of Winning Arab Poets, Loyal Tribes, and GoDaddy Super Bowl Chicks……………..

“Members of the al Ajami tribe have defended a campaign costing millions of Kuwaiti dinars that propelled Nasser al Ajami to victory in the Million’s Poet competition. Nasser was crowned the Million’s Poet champion on April 7 despite being beaten on the judges’ scorecards by the third-placed poet Hissa Hilal in each round of the popular TV contest. The Kuwaiti was catapulted into first place because 40 per cent of the final score was determined by the public. He received twice as many SMS text votes as the Saudi woman. The weighted voting system has led some to question if a large and supportive tribal network had more bearing on the result than the poet’s creativity and oratory skill. At a gathering of more than 4,000 tribesmen on the outskirts of Kuwait City to celebrate their family member’s success, the consensus was that voting based on tribal allegiance was a tactic employed by many of the contestants. They just did it better. “It’s like the election of a president: it’s not enough for individuals to vote,” said Mishal bin Hethlain, a sheikh of the al Ajami tribe’s leading family, which organised and partly funded the campaign. “He got to the final without support, but to win this competition you need the support of your family.” Mr bin Hethlain said that three weeks before the final he co-ordinated a fundraiser to persuade wealthy members of the tribe to donate. Without specifying the amount of money raised, he said “we’re talking millions” of Kuwaiti dinars………..”

Next time they should just advertize the tribe during Super Bowl: much cheaper. Of course they’d have to compete with the GoDaddy.com chicks…….


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Illusory Persian Gulf Demographics, Self-serving Plutocrats, and Supreme Planning Schmucks…….

“That there is no clear, common definition underscores the difficult task facing the Government as it attempts to halt what it sees as the erosion of Emirati culture and heritage. A sense of urgency has emerged in recent years, driven in part by the persistent decline in the percentage of Emiratis among a largely expatriate population. Recently, the Cabinet issued a charter that stressed the need to uphold the country’s traditions, including the use of Arabic, and urged Emiratis to have “large and cohesive families”. Most experts and officials agree that the population imbalance, combined with the sweeping effects of globalisation, are the greatest contributors to the erosion of the nation’s identity, social habits and language………..”

It is true, what the old song says: some fools never learn. They have never read my theory, posted often here, that having large native families will not solve the population imbalance. Au contraire, as they say. I have seen it in my own country, and in other Persian Gulf states: they always seek increased native birth and larger families to reduce the percentage of expatriates. They don’t seem to realize (or maybe they do) that the more natives there are, the more foreign expatriates they will need. This has always been the trend, because each native needs the services of several expatriates (housemaids, drivers, nurses, doctors, builders, waiters, etc) to keep him going. As the Gulf potentates, and their planning councils composed largely of oligarchs and plutocrats, have pushed for more babies (and multiple wives), they have watched the percentage of expatriate labor increase consistently.

Which has often frustrated me. It makes me wonder whatthefuck is wrong with these schmucks?
Okay, I know the oligarchs like to take the easy way out. They also prefer to rule over a larger population than the oligarch next door: the Arabian Joneses syndrome. As for the plutocrats, it is simple: they need the cheap expatriate laborers and they need the increased demand for the goods they import, they know that the more people, the more money they make.

Surly Egyptians and Stoned Jordanians, Banning Hashish and Humor………

“But amid all this deprivation, one commodity that is consumed by more than seven million Egyptians has all but disappeared from Egypt’s back alleys and dark corners. Thanks to a renewed law enforcement effort, hashish smokers – nearly 10 per cent of the population, according to official statistics – must now face their worst bout of cognitive clarity and short-term memory gain in more than a decade. But even as law enforcement officials suddenly have something to celebrate, drug users and crime analysts say Egypt’s addicts are beginning to turn toward more corrosive and addictive drugs, such as alcohol, cocaine and heroin, to fill hashish’s void. “This is reflected in the prices on the street. There are very high prices for hashish and low prices for psychotropic drugs,” said Enas Gafarawi, a professor in narcotics research at the national centre for social and criminological research, who added that the price of heroin appears to have dropped to 100 Egyptian pounds (Dh67) per taskara – equivalent to a few milligrams – from 360 pounds several months ago. ……….”

Egyptians have a long history with hashish. Now, just as the population reaches a new low in economic and psychological conditions after 30 years of the current dictatorship, the regime pulls the plug. No more hashish. Since other ‘diversions’ are also restricted or too expensive for Egypt’s increasingly impoverished middle class, what is there? Religious extremism is one outlet for some. Many others naturally seek cheaper, and more dangerous, alternatives- hard drugs. Then there is, of course, that other diversion of begetting and begatting which has pushed the population well beyond what the country can house and feed.

As they said, and still say: let there be light in Egypt, let them light up. It may do them some good, and I would advice Texans to do the same. I almost forgot Jordanians: the banned Egyptian social habit may be just the solution for the severe lack of humor that has bedeviled Jordan since the British created that country more than seventy years ago. A stoned Jordanian can’t be a surly one now, can he? Can he?


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fate of Dr. ElBaradei: a Sudden Death, a Serious Illness, or Prison …………

A heavy security operation was under way at Cairo's airport today as crowds gathered to welcome home the former UN nuclear weapons chief, Mohamed ElBaradei. ElBaradei, who stood down as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency last year, is seen as a potential challenger to the three-decade rule of President Hosni Mubarak in next year's elections. Crowds carrying welcome signs and singing the national anthem gathered at the airport shortly before ElBaradei's plane was due to touch down. There was a heavy police and state security service presence at the airport but no evidence that 6,000 troops had been deployed, as was being reported by some local news organizations. It was thought that the reports of troops might have been a tactic to dissuade protesters from taking to the streets. ElBaradei supporters were being searched as they arrived at the airport. Some were singing "There's no turning back now, Mr ElBaradei", in an attempt to encourage him to declare his candidacy………”

If the past is any indication one of the following will happen to him: he will die mysteriously, he will fall seriously ill, he will go to prison on trumped up charges. Or a combination of the above.
Welcome back to the moderate New Middle East, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei. Thirty year old dictatorships do not give up power easily in the moderate New Middle East, even if the said dictator is 84 years old. Even in the city where President Obama made his famous speech promising Muslims respect, understanding, alliance, and (tacitly) continued dictatorship.



Sunday, February 14, 2010

GCC Gulf Currency Union: My System for a Timetable……….


Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, Mohammed al-Jassar claims he has not lost hope that the UAE and Oman will rejoin the GCC common currency (Gulfie) project. Last month, the Omani minister of economy completely rejected any chance that his country will return to the project. All GCC states tie their currencies to the US dollar, with the exception of Kuwait which ties its currency to a basket of major currencies.

I can categorically state here that Oman and the UAE will not return to the Gulf currency for some years. I can also assure you that I am pushing back the date for the start of the common Gulf currency to at least 2017, most likely beyond that. A few years ago I had predicted that the joint currency will not be born before 2015 (their official plan was for 2010, which I thought was absurd, and they changed it last December to 2015). Now, based on my highly educated guessing ability on this issue particularly, I push the whole thing off a few years more.

My Monetary Rule: based on experience, I automatically add more years to any announced deadline for monetary (and other economic) issues in the Gulf (and the Middle East in general):

  • Add five years (or more, sometimes much more) to the initial officially announced date.
  • Add three years (or more, depending) to the first revised officially announced date.
  • For the second revision: I will tell you when we get there, but it usually means DOA.
  • (For the wider inter-Arab plans: I would add a quarter century to the initial date, and then I would revise it to when hell freezes over).
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