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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