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Insights or Assumptions?

Yesterday’s article in the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/01/22/the-rise-of-saudi-arabias-crown-prince-reveals-a-harsh-truth) is an interesting one. In this article Professor Bernard Haykel gives a view on the issues we are optionally likely to see in Saudi Arabia. I am not sure I can agree. You see, he might be the professor of the ‘Near Eastern Studies and the director of the Institute for Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia’ at a prestigious place like Princeton, but my pupils tend to shape like question marks when someone’s title requires 13 words to be merely one part. We see in the article “depict him as power-hungry and corrupt, and cite these two impulses for his behavior and policies. When King Salman designated MBS as his heir in June 2017, MBS effectively became the most powerful man in the kingdom. And despite ill-advised purchases (including a yacht and a French chateau, which have cemented the impression of the crown prince’s greed)“, so how does that work? You see Prince Mohammed bin Salman is wealthy, his family is very wealthy, and as such is a yacht a splurge? It would depend on the price. Second there is the mention on a French Chateau. Well, I have taken a look and I fell in love with a house in France too, in Cognac (my favourite drink). The house (at http://www.rightmove.co.uk/overseas-property/property-58209296.html), has 7 bedrooms, is amazing in looks and in a nice village. The amount comes down to a little over a million dollars (money I obviously do not have), but consider that the same amount will only get you a decent 2 bedroom apartment in the outskirts of Sydney, within some suburbs and in the city, those prices will go up from 250%-1500%, depending on how outlandish your view needs to be, in a measly 2-3 bedroom apartment. So how does that make the Crown Prince greedy? Now his choice is a chateau 50 times that price and a family that owns billions can splurge a little. His place is west of Paris. And let’s face it, as some economies are going, having your money in something substantial is not the worst idea. His second splurge, linking him to greed and power hunger is a yacht. So how does that leap rhyme? I have no idea and I find the professors view slightly too speculative. Yet, the man is not done. He then gives us: “MBS is trying to deal with a harsh truth about Saudi Arabia: The kingdom is economically and politically unsustainable, and is headed toward a disaster“. There is a truth in that. As Saudi Arabia is dependent on oil, there will be a lull in their lives, as the need for oil exists, with prices going down, there is no real prospect of fixing it, but wait that is exactly what the crown prince is doing. He is setting forth his 2030 view, a growing move away from oil dependency, which is actually a really good thing to do. It does not make him greedy, merely a visionary that technological evolution is essential to the continuing future of Saudi Arabia. We then get two quotes that matter. The first I already gave light on with “a sclerotic state with limited administrative capacity and an economy that is largely reliant on declining oil revenues“, yet sclerotic? That means “losing the ability to adapt“, which is exactly what the crown prince is trying to achieve, adapt the nation to other options and new ways. The second is a lot harsher, but requires additional focus. With: “a venal elite comprised of thousands of royals and hangers-on who operate with impunity and are a huge drain on the economy. It is saddled with a bloated public sector which employs 70 percent of working Saudis, and its military is incapable of defending the homeland despite billions spent on armaments“, so we can argue on the wisdom of ‘employs 70 percent of working Saudis‘, I am not stating that it is true, but when we see Walmart in the US, who employs 1% of Americans pumping billions of profit into that one Walton family, we should wonder how wrong the Saudi actions are. So we might not see corporate greed like in the US, but is one method better than the other? I am not sure that this is the case. The other part I need to comment on is: “its military is incapable of defending the homeland“, what evidence is there (it is not in the article at all)? Let’s not forget that Iran has been a warmongering nation for DECADES! How many wars did Saudi Arabia get into? There was the Saudi -Yemeni war of 1934, The Gulf War, where Saudi Arabia was a member of the allied forces, the Saudi intervention in Yemen and the current upcoming conflict with Iran. So, regarding the inability to defend the homeland? Is that perhaps merely gesture towards the incoming missiles from Yemen? Well, we can bomb the bejezus out of Yemen, but it would imply thousands of civilian casualties as these people are hiding in the civilian masses. Something they learned from groups like Hamas and Hezbollah I would reckon, but that this is merely an assumption from my side. I found the restraint that Saudi Arabia has shown so far quite refreshing.

I am not stating that Saudi Arabia is holier than thou. Like any nation, it makes mistakes; it has views and a set infrastructure. It is moving at a pace that they want, not the pace Wall Street wants, which is equally refreshing.

The article gives us truths, but from a polarised setting as I see it. Yes, there is acknowledgement on the achievements too, in both the directions of the USA and Russia, and we can agree that just like 86% of all other nations (including the USA) that the economy is a weak point. So how is America dealing with a 20 trillion in debt? From my point of view, the USA has not done anything in that direction for over a decade. Instead of lowering the corporate tax to the degree it did, it could have left it 5% higher and let that part be reserved of paying of the debt and interest, oh right, the 5% will not even take care of the interest at present, so as such the USA is in a much worse place at present, which is not what the article is about, but we should take that into consideration, and the end of the article? With “Ultimately, MBS wants to base his family’s legitimacy on the economic transformation of the country and its prosperity. He is not a political liberal. Rather, he is an authoritarian, and one who sees his consolidation of power as a necessary condition for the changes he wants to make in Saudi Arabia“, is that true? The facts are likely true and when you employ 70% of a nation, economic transformations are the legitimacy of that nation. There is the one side Americans never understood. In the end, Saudi Arabia is a monarchy; their duty is the welfare of that nation. So it does not make him authoritarian (even as he might be seen as much), he is the upcoming new monarch of Saudi Arabia, a simple truth. Within any monarchy there is one voice, the King/Queen of that nation. So it is in theory consolidation of power, in actuality it is a monarch who wants all voices and looks to be towards an area of focus, what that is, the future will tell, but in the end, until the Iran-Saudi Arabia issue is solved, there will be plenty of space for chaos.

In this his path is clear and that is the part the professor did illuminate too. With: “MBS is trying to appeal to young Saudis, who form the majority of the population. His message is one of authoritarian nationalism, mixed with populism that seeks to displace a traditional Islamic hyper-conservatism — which the crown prince believes has choked the country and sapped its people of all dynamism and creativity“, it is his need to create a population that is nationalistic, that sees Saudi Arabia as a place of pride, which is not a bad thing. In a setting where the end of hyper-conservatism, as it can no longer reflect any nation in a global economy, is an essential path. He is merely conservative in not handing out all those large benefits and multi-billion dollar revenue in the hands of opportunists who are eager to take those billions over the border, out of Saudi Arabia at the drop of a hat, any hat. That will drag down the Arabian economy with absolute certainty. A dynamic and creative nation, especially fuelled by youth and enthusiasm could spell several wells of innovation and profit that could benefit Saudi Arabia. I think that the path from hyper-conservatism towards where it needs to be in 2023 is so far well played. He is not there yet, but the path is starting and that is in the end a good thing. The only thing that the US needs to fear now is that the creative and innovation path that Saudi Arabia is on, could spell long term problems for a nation that has been fixated on a iterative technology path where the US is no longer the front runner, they were surpassed by Asia some time ago, the US merely has Apple and Google. Oh no, they do not, because those are proclaimed global corporations. So where does that leave the US?

So as we see Bloomberg (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-22/imf-sees-global-growth-picking-up-as-u-s-tax-cuts-gain-traction) gives us ‘IMF Says Global Growth Picking Up as U.S. Tax Cuts Take Hold‘, which is a number I find overly optimistic, Global growth is set to 3.9%, yet the bad news cycle has not started yet, so I reckon that if the global economy ends at 2.45% it would not be a bad achievement. In that light I find the mention “The IMF also predicted that the tax plan will reduce U.S. growth after 2022, offsetting earlier gains, as some of the individual cuts expire and the U.S. tries to curb its budget deficit“. I believe that the US economy takes a hard hit no later than 2020 and the idea of ‘curb its budget deficit‘ is equally amusing, they have not been able to do that for 15 years and as there is at present every chance that President Trump is a one term president only, the Democrats are now likely to win by large margin and the entire budget curbing would be immediately off the table, because spending is the one thing the democrats have proven to be utter experts in, they merely leave the invoices for others to deal with, which is equally unhealthy for any economy.

And in that article we see exactly the fears that are mounting towards Saudi Arabia too. With “the IMF flagged protectionism, geopolitical tensions and extreme weather as risks to the global economy” we see a new frontal attack starting on protectionism. Mentions like “A reduction of Germany’s surplus would help reduce global imbalances” and it is not one source, hundreds of articles over the last 16 hours alone, all hammering the protectionism word in a bad light. It is now becoming all about trade protectionism, even under the terms of Brexit, we saw on how people were stating that it was a disadvantage, the single market falls away and as such the UK cannot benefit. Now that Brexit is still pushing forward, the IMF is changing their tune and it is now on protectionism and trade protectionism. Another way to state that tariffs and import fees are now a problem, it is the final straw in giving large corporation the push for benefit they need and many are in the States (IBM, Microsoft, 3M and so on), they would benefit and even as I mention Brexit, it also affects Saudi Arabia. As we saw last July: “Being a WTO member, Saudi Arabia is expected to bind its tariffs on over three-fourths of U.S. exports of industrial goods at an average rate of 3.2 percent, while tariffs on over 90 percent of agricultural products will be set at 15 percent or lower“, so the IMF is not merely voicing the fear of the US, it is equally scared that the stimulus backlash is about to his impeding presented global growth, the protectionism and trade protectionism are set to plead for open doors, I wonder if that also means that patent protectionism would have to end. I doubt that because pharmacy is what keeps the US afloat in more than one way, and is not a subject that is allowed to be tinkered in.

So were these insights or speculations?

I believe both the professor and myself were doing both, I admit to that upfront, whilst the professor set it in a text that is acceptable yet should have been raising a few more questions that the Washington Post is bargaining for. We can argue that this is a good thing, but it is my personal belief that even as it was a good and insightful article, in the end all the mention of power hungry and corrupt, in the end he showed no real evidence that this was a move of a power hungry person, especially as the person in question (Prince Mohammed bin Salman) is set to be the future king of Saudi Arabia, the crown prince is at the tip of the pyramid, so he needs not be power hungry. That can only be shown if he starts expansion wars with his neighbours. In addition no evidence is shown of corruption, I do not state that this is not the case, but if you accuse a person of being corrupt it would be nice to add actual evidence of that, which is merely my point of view.

In the end, through insight and speculation, I hope that you got some insights of that and feel free to google ‘IMF protectionism‘ and see how many articles were added in the last week alone. It is clear that Davos is about removing limitations, not actually growing a true economy. Which implies from my point of view is that Davos is about big business and what they need, not what the people desperately require. Consider that when you read about the ‘World Economic Forum Annual Meeting’ and when you see who is present. My mind wonders on how many informal meetings there will be and how Theresa May is likely to get hammered on Brexit issues as Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Claude Juncker, Angela Merkel and perhaps even Donald Trump unite against Brexit. It is an assumption from my side, but at the end of the week, will I be proven wrong?

 

 

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Into the fire we walk ourselves

Are we in a state where we cannot tell what actually matters? That is the question that I wonder upon. Now, we all have different states of focus, that has always been a given. Some are linked to what we desire, some to what we fear. The issue goes beyond that as the media fuels one or the other, yet they seem to do so for the direct intent of making us look where they want us to look. In Australia there are the morning shows with Channel 7 and 9. In the UK there is the breakfast show and other nations have similar views. It is when we see BBC News, the Dutch NOS, Swedish RTL as well as ABC in Australia. They tend to focus on actual news, yet often very national as one could accept. On a larger scale there is BBC World News, Al Jazeera (to some extent), whilst Fox News and CNN are no longer quality players. So where are we getting the news from, the news that matters? It seems that either we start looking for it or we lose out.

Should I care?

It is the question many might ask themselves, which is fair enough. For many we all have national needs, we have national questions and as those are satisfied we do not look further than that. Many have this setting. Some don’t even have the national curiosity and that is fine, it is whatever you choose. Yet, I have travelled for too long, to too many places. So I tend to look further. I still miss the life I had in Sweden, which like Australia is an amazing place to be in (the weather is less warm though). So when I got confronted with some news, I wondered how others saw it. What is interesting is that none of them gave any clear levels of attention to it.

The news, (at http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/01/11/Saudi-Arabia-intercepts-a-ballistic-missile-launched-by-Houthis-at-Najran.html) gives part of what does require attention. Al Jazeera covered it, so did Reuters and BBC as well as Australia’s ABC looked at it, yet the rest? You see, the issue is larger than you think. In Yemen, in the Najran area a ballistic missile was intercepted. Now this is not that big a story, but the missile might have been ready to be fired on Riyadh, like the missile fired a month ago. Is this coming into focus? Missiles that are fired on the civilian population of the capital of Saudi Arabia! This is a threshold that should have been regarded as unacceptable; it is globally ignored by others. In that same setting we see the mention from Al Arabia that Houthi leader Saleh al-Samad is also threatening to threaten international navigation in the Red Sea, which will impact the Suez Canal, which in turn changes the profit margins for all cargo bound to Europe for the most from Asia. So is it now more important? That is the dangerous question but not the most important one. You see, as the Houthi militias have gained access to the Qaher M2 missile, the game is no longer the same. These cuddly little toys pack a punch and have the ability to reap plenty of souls in Riyadh if it hits the right structure. A tactic that has been old and condemned for the longest of times, yet for the most, the west tends to focus on Yemen and cholera (which is really bad too). Over the last year 50,000 children died of disease and starvation, which is of course its own atrocity, no one denies that, yet what was the foundation? President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi was trying to get some level of union in Yemen between factions (which is an achievement) in a landscape that was under threat by Houthi militias and AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). Things went from bad to worse and soon thereafter the deposed Yemen leader started to undo what happened from Saudi Arabia.

Now, I have skipped a few iterations, mainly because it is not part of the issue. The issue is the missiles. Now I am not stating that the Saudi’s are beyond some blame. Civilians have been hit in Yemen; yet is that from intentional events? Are they (as stated by the Saudi government) ‘technical mistakes‘? The fact is that there is a civil war going on and EVERY civil war in history came with civilian casualties, more often than not from human or technical error. The Houthi events are different as they are intentionally targeting a civilian population in Riyadh and are also intentionally targeting all commercial options that use the Red Sea as a route to get to where they have always been travelling. The Houthi’s are in a desperate setting, one that they themselves created and in this regard, we see very little coverage, too little in fact, mainly because this is a powder keg waiting to go wrong. If even one missile hits Saudi Arabia, the lives of every Yemeni could be regarded as forfeit. The Saudi population would demand reprisals unlike any we have seen for decades and in this the Saudi pride will not be content with mere diplomatic discussions, at that point serious skin is in the game and if the world is lucky only 100,000 will die of starvation and disease in 2018. The Syrian war has led to 400,000 casualties in 2012-2016, this Houthi insurrection could spell a lot more and the dangers are that the extremists tend to get profit out of such situations. In fact here is no evidence that they are not already dipping their toes in the Yemeni armouries and as such there would be a dangerous escalation if some of these weapons get transported to other extremist zones. Now, I am trying to steer clear of the Iranian-Houthi rebel links. The issue is that I did not read or inspect the evidence. Also, we should consider that the US has had tainted glasses for the longest of times regarding Iran and they have lost massive credibility ever since the Saddam Hussein WMD presentation. In this U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell with his silver briefcase destroyed credibility for decades to come. In this Colonel Turki al-Maliki has a much easier job. The evidence that the Houthi rebels are firing missiles on the Saudi civilian population has been clearly established on an international level.

So into the fire we might go!

You see, this keg needs one missile to hit target and the flames start. If any other nation can verify that Iran was involved, Iran will have no options left because at that point it is not impossible that Israel will get the keys to the German and French Squadrons to use those planes for bombing Iran as well, at that point WW3 will be a factual situation. The Saudi air force will not only get the blessing of the Arabian league nations to stop Iran, it will get its ammunition at cost price from several sides. At that point, Hamas and Hezbollah will go into hiding so deep that we will forget that they exist, but Israel will not. Perhaps it might be a good thing, as the extremist groups are dealt with, those who think that extremism is a good thing will decide to hide and wait for the fires to stop. Only at that point will they realise that as Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and AQAP are gone that all eyes will move on them. You see these people feel good as extremists because no one is taking notice, when they become the limelight, they will ‘suddenly’ prefer a diplomatic path, one where they have no valid claims and no standing whatsoever.

It is an optional resolution to a bad situation for all other players.

And there is a second side to all this that I have not seen any publications on. The Burkan-2 which was fired at Riyadh airport is also an issue in another direction. It is related to the Scud, it comes from Yemen. So when we consider that the first recorded launch was on 22nd July 2017, how did the Houthi’s get this knowledge? This is not something you put in a clip. You need a mobile launch platform, aiming skills, ballistic knowledge that does not come with a bottle of mineral water. These skills are taught and trained. Someone gave them access and I feel strongly that these skills were not all in Yemen. There is a taskmaster, a coach in that equation and it seems to me that this is also the Houthi militants Achilles heel, because if these skilled are dealt with (the people who have them), that this weapon gets to be diminished to an ugly truck with a couple of steel cigars on top.

 

 

 

 

So when we see militia rebels, we do not think ‘academics’, we tend to think that they are more likely to be members of the ‘dyslexic-R-us‘ foundation (عسر القراءة، هي، لنا), not the qualified electronic user experts that they need to be, so someone is getting them trained. The fact that these missiles were completed after the insurrection began is equally a worry. With the economy in the basement as the one in Yemen is supposed to be, someone is fuelling funds and knowledge to these militants and when did you see any reliable news on that level?

So we are thrust into the fire in some method where we are left unaware on how large some issues have become and for anyone thinking it is not on their turf.

 

 

Think again!

Because those elements with those level of skills will go where ever the money is taking them. In WW2 Russia and the US saw that and took the scientists as quickly as possible. Now we seem to skip that part and as we see extremist move from theatre to theatre there will be a shift of activity as the skill levels are placed in other places where the going was slow, they become catalysts of additional escalations. We can argue whether Iran is playing that card or not, but there is a longer term danger and the people are left unaware of those events. I think that this is the second danger that both Saudi Arabia and Israel face. Not on who is attacking them, but on the realisation that it is happening whilst these extremists have been given additional skill levels, some they would never have had. That evidence can be seen when we consider the Hamas rockets, or as it goes the ISIS players who replaced Hamas in Gaza. When the missile hit rate goes from 0.2% to 2%, there will be a much larger escalation, as well as the additional danger that the people in the state of Israel will face. As the knowledge gets deeper into Syria, what will happen after that? Will Iran be shown to be the player behind the screen or will Saudi Arabia merely face 3-4 additional factions, who when much better trained become a much larger issue for Saudi Arabia. There is a much larger game in play and the fact that the people are left in the dark to a much larger degree is a much bigger issue than you (and I) think it is. It is still the beginning of 2018 and already we see: “Thirteen attack drones were launched against the Khmeimim air base and a naval facility in the city of Tartus on Syria’s western coast, the Russian defence ministry said“, so who was behind that? “the ballistic missile attack by Houthi militia on the city of Najran” is one we looked at as well as “The Syrian Arab Army has discovered another massive Islamic State weapons stockpile that was abandoned by the terrorist group“, the last mention was merely shoulder based rocket launchers (M72 LAW, RPG). Now the learning curve of that one is low. The instructions are on the launcher and as it is used by the US infantry, it should be regarded as close to idiot proof, yet we also see the alleged M72 Dragon in Syria as well as the FGM-148 Javelin, which was in ISIS hands in late 2017. Now we do not know how those were acquired, but the M47 Dragon and the Javelin are a lot more sophisticated and not for anyone to easily wield. The Javelin requires a launch unit and training. This is not something you get included in a ten step leaflet with a package of butter.

So we step into the fire unknowing that someone is fuelling the fire by keeping too many of us uninformed. Now from an intelligence point of view I have no issues with that part. It happens, but the fact that the media is not asking certain questions is a much bigger issue. The fact that most nations are loudly condemning the missile attack on Riyadh makes sense, yet the fact on how the skill levels were handed to the Houthi’s remains unanswered.

I wonder if the most interested party in this (Al Arabiya) will soon be asking this question out loud, more important. If the Saudi Defence Forces are successful in taking out the coaching element, would that suddenly largely cripple Houthi elements and if they were supported by Iran, would that push them into the limelight?

All questions, all speculation!

The question that becomes evident is how within these extremist elements their balance of power is maintained? You see, extremists have logistical needs that part is clearly seen in Yemen. Yet, who provides their needs and what is in it for them? The usual culprit is money, lots and lots of money. Yet it also gives power to the one providing the victor. That part is not seen too often. Most often we think of those are mere weapon merchants, dealers of the tools of death, but the fact that the cost of billions in 2 years, that is without the UN relief needs close to a billion is not taken into consideration. If we have learned anything than it is that plenty will forsake loads for a few million, so what are they willing to do for a few billion? Can you even imagine that, or the fact that the pool of those who gets access to that pool of funds is actually quite small and the media remains in the mindset of not informing any of us!

Should they?

That is a good question, because if the media is about the news, should we limit to the amount of news that we should be exposed to? For the most people in Sweden, the Netherlands and Australia might not be too eager to learn about it, but the impact that we are currently facing hits these places too, was not informing us the right thing to do?

Consider that we are impacted by the red sea and that the cost of living would increase by 20% if the Suez Canal becomes unavailable, does it matter then? Suddenly the preface changes and suddenly the Houthi actions are more important than we considered. At this point the media might change its position on the air time and what to focus on, perhaps not.

Time will tell!

Yet I feel that there are other sides and we are all kept in the dark, so where are these journalists? Well, if we can believe the Sun, they were all mesmerised by the tits of Kim Kardashian, the same day Houthi Missiles were fired. Which of the two ‘news’ articles do you remember of that day?

 

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View from a balcony

On one side I feel like I am missing out on certain matters. On the other side there is the view that is not comprehended by me in light of certain revelations. Now, this is not a new feeling, I have always had certain issues with certain dilemma’s. Mostly they do not make common sense, so I write about them and let you decide. In a western world we get to see the illuminated part and as such we give light to the BS matters that politicians and media cling to. Yet, it is not always that simple. I would like to state that this is always the case in every matter, but that is stretching several levels of truth.

Now, I get shown a Reuters story on CNBC that gives equal doubt. Not on CNBC or Reuters mind you. The setting that is given to us is somewhat of an issue and it needs to be exposed.

With ‘Saudi Arabia, Arab allies in Cairo talks on Iran, Hezbollah’ (at https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/19/saudi-arabia-arab-allies-in-cairo-talks-on-iran-hezbollah.html), we might consider certain matters, but it is the quote “Discussions will focus on confronting Iran and its Lebanese Shi’ite ally Hezbollah, who the Arab allies say are interfering in their internal affairs” that sets the matter. The second quote makes sense and is equally important the quote “Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir told Reuters last week the kingdom’s actions in the Middle East were only a response to what he called the “aggression” of Iran“. We can agree that Iran might be an issue, yet when looking at the first part. How does Hezbollah have the pull to get any decent level of interference up and running in places like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait? Iran yes, there is no denying that part. But in all this Hezbollah seems to be a facilitating annoyance at best, with their power-base remaining North of Israel. Now, some might wonder why it matters, why we need to look into this. You see, it does matter, if we cannot properly categorise and analyse the actions of Iran and the more extreme parts of the Iranian military, clergy and VAJA, we cannot paint the opponents in the right colour and classes they need to be in. Do you think for one moment that the youthful Gadi Eisenkot is unaware of not merely who the actual players are, and to what degree they are active? Now, we can argue that we do not need to know (and that might be very valid), but as others are painting the image differently, we are being misled. Not misled in the way that we are sold the wrong package, but misled that we are not told just how dangerous the situation is. As I forgot where I saw the original image, lets take the example. There is a 40×60 portrait that shows an estate by the fields, the actual image is 60×60 and shows that the ocean on the right side was cut off for ‘aesthetic’ reasons, but the tragedy is that this shows that the person living there has no escape, if the fields catch fire, he is literally with his back to the water, he might live but the water will not safe his house, there will be no aid coming from there.

Iran is painted in the same way now. Iran is shown to be moderate and that view cannot be dis-proven by the views the media gives on President Rouhani. You see, there is a slowly growing hill of evidence implying that Rouhani has less power than we think he has and behind the curtains the less moderate generals in Iran are beefing Hezbollah and other elements up to be more and more aggressive against the state of Israel as well as the Arabian Nations that are not willing to sing the song of extremism that they want to hear. This is becoming more and more an issue. And as Iran is willing to use the PKK as cannon Fodder they are getting more and more support from Turkey, which now makes Iranian extremism a European issue as well. We might now ‘suddenly’ decide to hide behind the UK Telegraph ‘truths’ (at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/19/irans-growing-military-threat-blind-spot-british-politicians/), yet that is equally simplifying an image that has been pushed and tweaked for the longest of times by all kinds of parties (and the UK intelligence branch is not innocent in that part either, most notably GCHQ and MI6). You see they might come out with guns blazing stating: “British MPs have a “blind spot” when analysing Iran’s growing military powers and destabilising influence through it support for terrorism in the Middle East, a senior Conservative politician has warned“, but that is short sighted as some layers of filtering will always be there, some for essential security reasons, some for other reasons and only the second one should bear scrutiny and the media themselves have been part of the second layering for the longest of times, so there!

Yet the issue remains, the painting we see and the one that is a viewing of framed reality are exceedingly different. As we tend to expect something like a ‘Edouard Cortès Pont Au Change Au Crepscule‘ to give a certain view of reality of what we see, it becomes more of a worry when the image shown is something resembling the works of Albert Gleizes and that is what we are starting to face more and more. As Hezbollah is shown as a lot more than a facilitator because Iran played it that way and we are not shown the evidence as such, we tend to get pushed into a mindset that is starting to question a few more items than we should and that is how I saw myself trying to see the light in the Reuters article. Now, the article is not wrong and not inaccurate. Yet the view pushed by the parties in these Cairo talks are making a similar mistake by not colouring the opposing parties in the right light, at the right size representing them as the annoyance they actually are. It is almost like there is a play where Iran is the bogeyman and as soon as the facilitators have been taken care of, we can focus on the real evil, yet there is the issue! As the players have been shown as less evil, too many other players who want to try and sit at the grown up table will suddenly come with political options that will only make things worse. Even as we are wiling to see Iran as not evil, we need to acknowledge that the moderates have a vacuum where others dictate strategies and tactics, and there is the danger. The danger for Saudi Arabia, the danger to a much larger extent to the state of Israel and as the European players are unwilling to face up to the dangers we see, they end up facilitating for Iran through Turkey sooner rather than later which will be disastrous for a few more reasons than most are willing to face the reality of and that is a much larger danger. It is a much larger danger not just to the PKK (regardless of their validity and political play wherever they are). The danger is seen in the Sunday Times with ‘President Erdogan: Let Turkey join to save EU’s reputation‘, so when we see: “President Erdogan has told the EU that allowing Turkey to become a member could save its reputation in the Muslim world“, so is that the story, or should they have stated “Europe ready to embrace the Iranian tool into the EEC for Europe“. The Times of all places might report one side, but the dangers that we are not seeing printed at present are still up for debate, because as I see it, at present, if we need to see a decent approach towards Turkey, we might best call the Butterball hotline, you know, as Thanksgiving is an upcoming event after all.

In all this we still see the same old polarisation. As newspapers report on the Arab nations uniting calling Hezbollah a threat and a terrorist organisation, we see the same response we expected. With “Kuwaiti daily Al Rai reports that terror group Hezbollah has raised its alert level in all of Lebanon for fear that Israel will start a war” we see the sad reality of what is happening in the Middle East, players like Hezbollah can always blame the state of Israel, that whilst we have it on good authority that this youthful young chief of the Israeli Defense Forces (read: Gadi Eizenkot) has not even flexed his muscles at present. How easily and ill prepared can Hezbollah get? in that I will avoid going deep in on the the Dahiya Doctrine that shows how to deal with terrorist organisations in an asymmetrical war. What is important is that there is a conflict between Gadi Eizenkot and Richard A. Falk, the American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. I take Gadi’s side when we see Professor Falk’s side of “the civilian infrastructure of adversaries such as Hamas or Hezbollah are treated as permissible military targets“, which he opposes, yet the truth is that a terrorist organisation has no ‘civilian infrastructure‘, it is a plain occupied target that can be destroyed if need be, collaborators and all. In this by colouring ‘parts’ of any terrorist organisation as out of bounds is just not on. If an organisation can indiscriminately fire hundreds of missiles on civilian targets, all bets are off and as such whatever infrastructure they have becomes part of the terrorist organisation and a valid option for targeted killing and/or demolition.

So as we are looking at the view from whatever balcony we think we are on, we need to consider what we think we see, what we are told to see and what the actual size of the frame is supposed to be, three elements, all of them in flux through media, our own perception of what we think we see and the mirror image of what we comprehend we are shown. It is a biased view and we are all (me inclusive) part of what we perceive to see. That is often more troubling than we realise, but as long as we are aware that we cannot see the whole picture, we would be able to set our minds to consider what an actual represented danger is, which is a good first step.

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A second view, what can we see?

Some might have wondered how last Friday’s blog was weird (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/11/10/two-streams-one-view/). That is not a bad thing; it is not with the reader. The writer (read: that would be me) watched too many data sources and too much information on several sides from several fronts, I merely illuminated one path, one journey ever streams of data. More important, even as the Story was published (read finalised) on Friday morning, we see that Reuters reported (at http://www.businessinsider.com/frances-macron-flies-to-saudi-arabia-to-discuss-lebanon-crisis/?r=AU&IR=T) the mention “French President Emmanuel Macron booked a last-minute flight to Riyadh as tensions between Saudi Arabia, Iran and Lebanon heat up“. I am not so sure how ‘last minute’ it was. You see, I already reported on “Credit Agricole SA is selling half its stake in Banque Saudi Fransi to billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal at a discount“, you see, I reported on part of this and I mentioned the Forbes part which had given me “International banks are grappling with how to approach the Middle East’s biggest economy, which blocks foreign control of local lenders. Some are positioning themselves for what’s expected to be a free bonanza as the kingdom overhauls its economy and plans to list Saudi Arabian Oil Co. in what could be the largest-ever initial public offering” already. This free bonanza is part why some of the most eager people trying to become a wave of new billionaires are there. If they have the Gaul, the vastly above average intelligence and the backers, those three will allow for the next few years to make another 300-500 new billionaires. In that light the move of Credit Agricole to leave did not make sense to me. You see, they are greed driven like pretty much any other bank, walking away from a profit bonanza makes no sense at all. The fact that these parties are trying to unload what they have to Prince Alwaleed bin Talal makes little sense. That is until you realise that these people might have been in business with the 200 arrested individual. Yet in this we see that the entire issue goes further when we see that ‘Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Arrested in Saudi Crackdown‘, so was the event set up for tactical reasons? Do you think that if he had seen his arrest he would have bothered with the sale as it is? The fact that his links with JP Morgan and their facilitation of the sale means that there is a lot more going on behind the screen. You see that share is well over £372 billion; do you think that the media is showing us all? There might be a crackdown, but is it a crackdown? Is it royal annexing of squandered goods or is its trial and a showdown where the other members of the Saudi Royal family are shown that disruption within the ranks are no longer tolerated. In all this what is next? You see, from the view we are given, the existence of these international banks are essential to creating a non-oil depending economy. A new economy set towards services, technology and pharmaceuticals. There is plenty of value in all this for Saudi Arabia to move forward, yet the track will be a lot longer if there is disruption in the ranks. France might have been hard on Hezbollah and as such they are a pleasing presence towards the Royal family of Saudi Arabia, but more important, Banque Saudi Fransi is merely one of several players with trillions in value available. In military terms France is a better beachhead for Saudi Arabia to enter the new fields of economic growth in several ways. The moment the growth in France is seen the other nations will jump like hungry rabbits to the fields of vegetables in a mere instant. France is leading the way because it is figuring out that the present course is not working.

Yet, is any solution so polarised?

No, it never is. Yet again the situation changed. Iran has not been seen in a good light and their nuclear options have been met with large waves of distrust. Not in light of Hassan Rouhani and the path he is on, but the realisation that there was a Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before him and that level of extremism is a danger to most of the world, and the clear danger and additional risk we see that when another Mahmoud Ahmadinejad comes after President Rouhani. It is not merely a risk, it is closer to an actual likelihood and whilst their nuclear knowledge grows, the danger becomes a lot larger. France and Saudi Arabia see that danger too and they are beyond concerned. They are not alone. At https://www.businessinsider.com.au/saudi-arabia-iran-tensions-2017-11 we see the tweet from Israel’s defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman:

  Lebanon=Hezbollah.
Hezbollah=Iran.
Iran=Lebanon.
Iran endangers the world.
Saad Hariri has proved that today. Period.
 

It is the view we have always seen and as such that truth is pretty much undeniable, so now the moment is primed to get this sorted and to get the changes made earlier, there is seemingly no downside to any of this, political Europe merely preferred to sit on their hands when it came to this terrorist organisation (Hezbollah that is). I believe that Saudi forces are considering that Iran will be more and more limited to create turmoil when there is no Hezbollah. As they can no longer facilitate through others, Iran must openly act and turn the world against them or fall in line with the Arabian Leagues and behave according to those voices. At that point Qatar must also adjust many of their policies, and the impact might not be predictable, there would be enough evidence out there to show that they need to adjust in many ways. I believe that this would end up with Saudi Arabia wielding the only voice of power, dissent in the Middle East would end to a much larger degree. As I personally see it, there would be clear benefits for the state of Israel as well. As the threat to Israel ends, it can focus on growth in a way they have not been able to do for decades. There will be clear impacts for the UK, Russia and the USA too. Their diplomatic games will likely fall on ears much less eager to please them. It will be about growth for the Middle East. I believe that this shift will continue into Europe and several Commonwealth nations as well. India might be a frontrunner to grow the generalised pharmaceutical markets. The US will have to water down their wine to a much larger extent and there are options for the US, but no longer at the vulture driven profit margins they used to have. A shift that will take several years and that is where those ‘free bonanza runners‘ currently in Riyadh could make their billion(s) over the next decade. It will be risky to some extent, but art present you run large risks and end up making nothing in Europe at present. So why stay there?

How right am I?

I could be wrong but there is enough evidence out that that I am more likely than not correct. Business Insider, Forbes and the Financial Times have shown these paths over the last 6 months more than once. There is one premise that needs to be pointed out. The direction that this path opens is based on two elements. The first being how the drill-down on corruption in Saudi Arabia is playing out and their true intent on shifting their economy away from their petrochemical side. The more correct those paths are, the more reliable the outcome is that I predict. The corruption crackdown remains a factor as this has never happened before to this degree. I applaud it but I also realise that as this becomes a success a new Saudi Arabia will rise up in the global markets, one that is not in internal strife and one that is breaking out all borders to grow their economic footprint. It is not the status quo the current powers in charge have ever considered and it will make a lot of ‘old’ billionaires very nervous.

This might not be a bad thing either!

 

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Two streams, one view

As I see the news pass by, events shown on separate media, I notice myself wondering if my life had any meaning at all. I was young and I went to the Middle East in 1982, I would return in 83 and 84 only to learn that there was change. Terrorists like Hezbollah and Hamas were only small and Hamas rose as I would see in 1984, yet I thought that change would be inevitable. I saw Hezbollah as nothing more than pesky small minded terrorists, a tool to be used by Iran and Syria. Yet even as Lebanon was trying to move forward, there were signs in media and some places that the US needed Syria too much, in their case dealing with Saddam Hussein and as such many of us thinking we would fight for peace, we only fought for the borderlines that the US decided needed to be in place. It must have been the late 80’s, I was not longer in the Middle East and not all clued in towards the events of the day there. You see DARPA had not rolled out the internet at that point; ARPANET was not available for the audience at large. So today I see that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Now we see another push against Hezbollah. You see Saudi Arabia has had enough of those terrorists and is pushing back hard, it is also willing to push against Iran. I see two issues. One is that this issue will be bloody and even as we hope for the victory of Saudi Arabia there, there are more than just a few markers showing us that the three largest players (US, Russia and UK) are not completely in agreement whether the Middle East should have one clear dominant party. The issues in Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Kuwait that have been going on for half a century should show that. If that had not been the case Hezbollah and Hamas would have been little more than an inconvenience and they would have been dealt with a long time ago. So even as I see certain steps being taken I need to wonder if Saudi Arabia is pushing for a resolution, what will the larger picture show as it shifts. As that unfolds where will the US and Russia stand? What actions, or inactions will they use to leave the Status Quo in the middle east in a place called ‘as is’? The evidence for the longest time has shown that they pronounce whatever allies they have, but in the end, they only care for their needs and options. Now, this is not wrong or immoral, it is merely the way any nation plays its game. It is not a new game, it goes back even before Nicola Machiavelli thought it was a god idea to write down certain options for politicians to be.

As per Friday morning, we see: ““Due to the circumstances in the Lebanese Republic, the kingdom asks its citizens who are visiting or residing there to leave immediately,” a Foreign Ministry source quoted by the news agency said, adding that Saudis were advised not to travel to Lebanon from any country“, so even as we can merely speculate on what comes next, the onus is now pushed on Iran and what it is going to do with its terrorist ally Hezbollah. There is one opposing side which was shown by Reuters (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-saudi-insight/deep-in-yemen-war-saudi-fight-against-iran-falters-idUSKBN1D91UR). With: “The dysfunction is a reminder to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that his campaign to counter arch-enemy Iran in the Middle East, including threats against Tehran’s ally Hezbollah, may be hard to implement” we acknowledge that Iran has resources and skills and they are driven, both sides clearly are. In my mind, is the additional theatre (read: change of scenery) a workable factor? It does put larger pressures on Iran to get the logistics and goods underway, which will be their weakness to some extent. It is equally an issue how Russia will react. They might not openly act in this placement, yet the clear support to Hezbollah and as the times of Israel states: “the truth is that since Russia began its open military activities in Syria, Hezbollah fighters are also learning Russian methods of war, becoming familiar with advanced Russian weaponry, coming to understand the latest Russian technologies, and in some cases, actually fighting alongside Russian special forces“, we might comprehend the skills and training of the Spetsnaz Malcheks, or the ‘Войска специального назначения’ as they call themselves. In one part Avi Issacharoff omitted or decided not to implement one view in his story. In the end when the Spads are not holding their hands, Hezbollah remains what they were trained enthusiastic terrorists, they are only an army in the smallest sense of the total concept, this also means that as logistics falters, as support dwindles the armed Saudi forces will be more than a match and should gain the upper hand. Now, this can only play out if there is a stalemate between Russia and USA, because if the USA backs down and Hezbollah gets open on the ground Russian support, it becomes an entirely different slice of cake and all bets are off at that point. Only the Russians could push Hezbollah in way that the Iranians could never do. You see, if Iran enters the theatre the game changes as they become a clear and present danger to the state of Israel, their vocal insinuations made that so, so as Iran is trying to get a foothold whilst Israel has a few ways to counter them, we will see a more underground event of escalations where Iran is unable to counter a war they never have faced. You see their words (Iran that is) might look good on the news and on PowerPoint presentations, yet in the true data parks there is no setting, because in the end, this generation of Iranians have never faced anyone like Israel before and their faith in their own internal governmental presentations will make them even less prepared. So at that point it is merely a scuffle between Hezbollah and Saudi armed forces and in that equation there is no option of even a remote stalemate for Hezbollah. Is that the goal? I believe that Russia saw Hezbollah as a tool for what they needed, the US has always been hostile and Europe requires high earnings, so the ECB is very much not in favour of any outspoken hostilities against anything that can downgrade their earnings, so they are seemingly steering away from these events as much as they can, yet I will admit that is just me speculating on European events in this case. Even as London is more and more outspoken anti-Hezbollah. Amsterdam and Stockholm are not taking that path. In my mind it is the liberal multicultural flag that they embrace, in that atmosphere a group like Hezbollah can easily hide under this ‘veil’ whilst hating multicultural events as much as possible.

This again has speculative sides, but it is based on solid data and events. You might think that it does not matter, but it does. As more and more nations in their liberal mindset hold off on an actual war on terror, being it for economic or philosophical reasons. Not being part of it is equally a problem down the track. So as we move back towards Lebanon and Hezbollah, we need to realise that not only will this become ugly to a larger degree, there is every chance that unless certain actions are taken the issues seen in Aleppo will be seen in Aleppo too, there is just no way to tell to what extent. In this we can look at Survival Analyses (or listen to the song ‘as time goes by’), where the point in time and the prolongation of all this is the setting on just how much Beirut will look like Aleppo in the end, time is the only factor required here and the people in Europe know this. So as we see the news prepare on how there should be talks and there should be armistices, they all better remember that it was their need for status quo that is pushing the consideration for a terrorist organisation.

Who in Europe would have ever thought that support of a terrorist organisation would be the cool thing to do on September 12th 2001? So consider that and now wonder why Europe is, for now, again sitting on their hands or even contemplating siding to the larger extent with Hexbollah? Yet there is also good news because with the actions by JP Morgan to push into large chunks of the Middle East and more notably the push towards the Kingdom Holding Company. You might think it is not related, but it is. It gives the view that JP Morgan is a facilitator for setting maximised profits and these profits are not to go towards France. There has been a thought that the US is not commitment, but as there is profit in war, the clear fallout of any war is opportunity. It seems to me that the US wants to get as much profit out of that as possible, so as the dominoes are pushed into place, we see a situation where the media proclaims JP Morgan to be a mere financial advisor. I believe that to be incorrect. Even as Reuters reported “JPMorgan is in early talks with Saudi Arabian companies about overseas listings“, that might be true, but JP Morgan has been pushing itself and its ‘friends’ into powerful places where lucrative revenues are not set in millions, but in billions. I cannot answer whether Credit Agricole did the right or wrong thing, they are pretty clever all by themselves. I think that the Saudi issues in play now are pushing for polarising fields of options and opportunity on a global scale. In this case my view will be proven over the next 2 years as we follow the money. They question is where the source will be set and who gets to fill their bucket list from that well. when the options are returned in billions there will be plenty of players, although in this instance I believe that the outside opportunities (non-Saudi based companies) are offered to the friends of JP Morgan and them only, which is again a speculation. Whether I am right or wrong will be initially shown in the next 20 weeks.

There are however facts available to see that there is a direction in place. Reuters show on part (at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-jpmorgan-saudi/jpmorgan-sees-more-saudi-firms-looking-at-overseas-listings-after-aramco-idUSKBN1D7107), some might think that “He said listings in New York, London, Hong Kong or Singapore might help increase the liquidity of these companies and make them attractive for international investors, he said” is the part that gives the goods, yet it is the part not seen and more interestingly not implied that gives power to it all. The implied part is seen with “Commenting on the anti-corruption drive, Pinto said: “If it is done in the right way and for the right reasons it is good to do for the future of the kingdom.”” It is however only the first part. The news given with ‘Saudi Arabia detains 201 princes, businessmen in $100 billion corruption probe’ (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-10/saudi-anti-corruption-probe-finds-$100-billion-embezzled/9136608). This was not a sudden part, this had been in play for some time. It was not merely the fact that at present 201 people are now in custody. Even as we see mention of Iran and the Lebanon pressures, we see that there is a larger play. His Royal Highness King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud have been on a path to get the nation reformed and moved away from oil dependency. In this the pool of plenty does not last too long when 100 billion get lost one handshake at a time as more and more people are connected to unlimited resources and wealth. As the press seems to be focussing on the crown prince and the ‘wild ride’ he created, there is a larger issue that is not too much in focus. No matter what the sceptics state, There is a clarity that Saudi Arabia is seriously considering that the age of oil is dwindling, as this happens they need to be able to push into other directions and they do have the wealth to create vested interests in pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, consultancy services and educational advantages. Forbes has had its share of articles on the matter, and whilst some look at ‘Saudi Arabia Looks To The Private Sector To Meet Growing Healthcare Demands’ it seems to me that 5G facilitation has much larger and more profitable sides as other providers are considering what to do, Saudi Arabia has the option to facilitate to the largest 4 cities and exceed in opportunity what Sweden has for its entire nation. When there is such a population (9.5 million) in 4 cities, there is an option to grow and grow fast. Now we know that there is a lively market already, but the idea that other services could be added grows the Saudi options to add markets and manufacturing opportunities through investment. I all this JP Morgan is potentially the spider in the centre of the web, growing in value and wealth from all sides at the same time. There is no way to state why Crédit Agricole walked away from those opportunities, but I feel certain that they did not walk away, the merely moved to a place around the corner. Even as the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/0e629bab-494c-34d0-8fe0-f71c8b089118) show mixed results, yet I believe that this French bank is moving into different fields, acquiring other banks and setting new goals. I have no way to tell on the why of it but I feel that moving away was only one as the clever people in this bank have agreed on a strategy that allows to grow faster and on larger fields. How?

We will learn this over the next 20 weeks. Yet no matter what is done and how the banks react is not a given, the direct dangers on how things escalate in Lebanon and with Iran seems to be crucial in all of this and I reckon that we will see the shifts quite soon. These shifts will not be through armed conflict, but will rely on the pressures and stresses that exist at present. In this Europe seems to take a ‘diplomatic’ stance (at http://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_destabilising_lebanon_will_only_strengthen_hezbollah_7235), yet with “Europeans should veer the other way, taking measures that aim to preserve Lebanon’s stability and governance structures, and to prevent wider conflagration. Iran is clearly a key source of regional instability, and Hezbollah has become increasingly assertive in Lebanon” it seems to advocate a path of inaction, 3 decades of inaction have shown that there is no solution on that path, a stream of casualties, of non-actions and broken promises. Saudi Arabia (and the USA) both had enough, and as Iran seems to be an annoying thorn in the side of Saudi Arabia, they have seemingly decided to take Hezbollah out of the equation. This will be interesting, because the moment Hamas and Iran realise that the gig is finally up, I wonder how must tearful pleads of ‘negotiations’ will be shown on nearly every soft hearted news channel on the planet. Perhaps a recollection of March 2016 is needed. With: “Hamas on Sunday sent a delegation to Egypt in an effort to beseech Egyptian security officials to stop destroying its tunnels out of Gaza. These terror tunnels, employed by the terrorist group for nearly a decade, are used to store weapons, smuggle supplies, and infiltrate enemy territory – Israel – as well as carry out surprise attacks in which people are killed and soldiers abducted.” (source: Breaking Israel News). It reads like “please let us be terrorists a little longer, we need the tunnels to do naughty things”. There is every chance that this falls on deaf ears, because as Israel is optionally no longer pressured in possible two front wars, they can fully focus on Hamas whilst Saudi Arabia will only have to deal with Iran after that. It will truly change the Balance of Power in the Middle East with Saudi Arabia as the only true power in that region, all because to a larger extent, Europe decided to remain in a self-imposed state of inaction. After three decades they still haven’t learned that inaction against terrorists will never ever lead to any solution.

Yes, there are a few elements of speculation from my side, but it is based on gathered facts and it I do not believe it is less likely on the balance of probabilities, it is merely one optional setting in a larger game that has been played for much too long.

 

 

 

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On the first day

On Friday Jonathan Freedland published an article on the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/01/disaster-texas-america-britain-yemen), the article is excellent. He is speaking his mind and rightly so. All the facts are correct and he is not playing some word game. Like other stuff he wrote top notch. Yet, I oppose him. Why?

Well, we can go from “it surely represents the most fundamental form of discrimination one can imagine: deeming the lives of one group of people to be worth less than those of another – worth less coverage, less attention, less sympathy, less sorrow“, he is right and it would be easy to just blame the media, like I have done on several occasions in the past. Yet the quote “The scale of the suffering in the Arab world’s poorest country is clear. Since it became the site of a proxy war in March 2015, 10,000 people have been killed, with 7 million made homeless. The UN is especially anxious about cholera, which has already killed 2,000 people and infected more than 540,000. It threatens to become an epidemic. That’s no surprise, given that sewage plants have been among the infrastructure bombed from the sky“. This is followed by “On the contrary, the Saudi government is armed to the hilt with weapons supplied by the UK and the US: £3.3bn worth of British firepower in the first year of this vicious war alone. And yet Yemen has barely registered in the western consciousness, let alone stirred the western conscience“. These two matters are merely the top of the iceberg. When we go back to 1957, we get the attempted assassination by MI6 and what was then laughingly known as the CIA. They fail. All British and French assets are nationalised. The UK intervention in early peace processes between Israel and Egypt. Iran 1953, we might see two sides in the story, one side is that US interventions caused the creation of the Islamic revolution and the blood baths that came afterwards. Is this the correct version? There are too many events involved, but it is a given certain that the events followed. It is merely a factor in a sea of events. Sudan 1998, here the Clinton Administration justified the attack by falsely claiming that it was a chemical weapons factory controlled by Osama bin Laden. Though the United States blocked the United Nations from investigating, independent reports leave little doubt that the plant was solely used for civilian medical items and there was no connection with the exiled Saudi terrorist. All speculations go out of the window; I find it interesting how it was the US that stopped the investigation. Equally the Obama administration refused to properly investigate the chemical attacks in Syria, willing to accept half-baked excuses, unwilling to get to the bottom of it all. This all is now starting to give us a pattern that related to the story.

So when we see “warnings that Yemen risks becoming the next Syria: its soil soaked in blood, rendered fertile for the next generation of violent jihadists” as well as “the children of Yemen are dying cruel deaths, while the rest of the world ignores them. They are not drowning in Texas or Mumbai. They are dying under a hot desert sun, killed by our allies – and by our inattention“, Jonathan is speaking the truth, yet I oppose!

You see, when we see in addition to the previous parts: “The collapse of leftist and nationalist Lebanese forces as a result of the U.S. intervention and the U.S.-backed Israeli invasion led to a power vacuum filled by extremist Islamic groups from below and an overbearing presence of the anti-American Syrian government from above. Combined with resentment at the enormous human costs of these interventions, Lebanon has turned from a staunchly pro-Western country to a center of anti-American sentiments“. Now, we must be honest in that when a glass is half full, it is equally half empty, so we can focus on one side or the other side. Yet the overbearing knowledge from the past is that the UK and US have been in a war for control. Either they were or no one else was. This is the setting we have seen for decades. As such we need to be aware of the ‘other’ side of the equation, but in my view the interventions of decades have been nothing but a failure and soon we will see that US and UK public opinion will shift against Saudi Arabia, merely because any long term success they book now will be counterproductive to anything these two players are trying to achieve. The UN has been privy and part of it to some extent. We could focus on resolution 425, when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978, later it did it again in 1982, I personally remember those days, I was in Israel when it happened. The interesting part was that the acts of the terrorist organisation and their movements were largely ignored by the UN and certain other officials, as well as the press. The report from Director Nahum Admoni of Mossad in 1983, who was seen as the ‘bad boy’ as the British press got a whiff of the Israeli nuclear plan, yet the fact that the Jonathan Pollard debacle where “Pollard was the only American who has received a life sentence for passing classified information to an ally of the U.S. In defense of his actions, Pollard declared that he committed espionage only because “the American intelligence establishment collectively endangered Israel’s security by withholding crucial information”. Israeli officials, American-Israeli activist groups, and some American politicians who saw his punishment as unfair lobbied continually for reduction or commutation of his sentence. The Israeli government acknowledged a portion of its role in Pollard’s espionage in 1987, and issued a formal apology to the U.S., but did not admit to paying him until 1998“, He was eventually released on Released November 20, 2015, after 28 years. Beyond that he had been denied basic rights between 19:00 and 07:00 every day since. In this we can draw two conclusions, not only that this involved a case with what the US calls ‘an ally’, it gives rise that on one side actual traitors have way more rights and that those actually in assault of the US like Bradley Manning, served less than 4 years and Edward Snowden who is still not in prison, not prosecuted or convicted. So either we can go all out and see how weird the US system is, or we can accept that the US (and UK) have been playing a very dangerous game in the middle east and anyone interfering there is locked up for life. So this is not about espionage, it is not about terrorism, it is about holding part of the power of the middle east, and so far the USA and the UK have shown just how illusionary it is to be involved in matters in the Middle East. Even if we start to consider the damage caused and inflicted, the game goes on there.

So on the first day of September Jonathan correctly shows us how little the media and all others care about Yemen, whilst in the same air partially ignores that Yemen is not even a player for the power plays on who has the right to speak at the power table of the Middle East. Both the USA and the UK want to have a permanent seat at that table and anything opposing that will be dealt with or ignored. By the way, when we look back at the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings and the optional Mossad report, who in the end had been dealt with for that? Perhaps one of them became the current Minister of Defence for Iran (Hossein Dehghani Poudeh)? Yes, when it comes to terrorism and Hezbollah, we need to make certain that we have all the facts, so as we are told how bad things are in Yemen, we concur and do not disagree, but the 241 U.S. and 58 French peacekeepers who got blown up are perhaps sitting on a cloud wondering why France, the UK and the USA are talking to the current Defence minister of Iran. In addition, why a certain report from their ally Mossad director Nahum Admoni was just as easily cast aside and forgotten a little over 33 years ago.

I am merely speculating here!

So as we see certain changes in the alliance between Iran and Qatar, we see also that the game played there is becoming slowly but certainly a more hazardous situation, not just locally there, as Qatarians (or: stake holders from Qatar) seems pushed to sign over bank stakes to China (read: Chinese investors) we see that one wave is feeding another one, in what way? That I cannot really predict, the data is presently missing to make any speculation or assumption in that direction. What is a given is that the people with a seat at the table will be part of the profits when the Saudi privatisation waves hit and that is where actual power and wealth is handed out. An event that both the USA and UK are desperate to attend as it will dwarf what happened in Russia, the hundreds of billionaires created in Russia were nothing compared what Saudi Arabia will bring and the power players in the west hopes that those hundreds are friends of the west, not those embracing a strict Islamic way of life.

Greed is the eternal opponent of opportunity, never more so than at present.

So on that first day, who do you think will be trying to advise others on where to place their privatisation bets, it won’t be in Yemen, that’s for sure!

 

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A big tree in the desert

It started a little while ago, 4 nations got angry at Qatar, I wrote about it earlier. There were issues on both sides and there were intelligence considerations as well. In this Germany intelligence decided to shed light on the matter by investigating certain sources. A path I reckon that until now has not been too successful. A path that was equally a given not to be too successful, yet what was not expected was the issue shown a few days later when on July 16th The Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/uae-hacked-qatari-government-sites-sparking-regional-upheaval-according-to-us-intelligence-officials/2017/07/16/00c46e54-698f-11e7-8eb5-cbccc2e7bfbf_story.html), the issue shown with “The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, in late May that sparked the ongoing upheaval between Qatar and its neighbors, according to U.S. intelligence officials“, in addition there is “In a statement released in Washington by its ambassador, Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE said the Post article was “false.”“, which is to be expected. Finally we get “Qatar has repeatedly charged that its sites were hacked, but it has not released the results of its investigation. Intelligence officials said their working theory since the Qatar hacks has been that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt or some combination of those countries were involved. It remains unclear whether the others also participated in the plan“, which is an equal truth. In addition, we need to realise that this is not some fake news site, this is the Washington Post, America’s answer to The Times, and its high ethics in journalism have been established for the longest of times, so when we see a mere 2 hours ago (at http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/qatar-diplomatic-crisis-latest-updates-170605105550769.html) the update “Foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt say they are ready for dialogue with Qatar if it shows willingness to fight ‘terrorism’” a quote given after we see the headline ‘The latest news after some of the Gulf states and Egypt cut ties with Qatar and imposed a land, sea and air blockade‘, yet in light of the found hack(s), how valid are these blockades? In addition we see in regarding the Hajj pilgrimage that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are in a he said versus he said situation, a side we would not have expected from these two evolved nations. There is a larger drawback in all this, as Turkey is trying to ‘ingratiate’ their own agenda, they are now becoming a stronger middleman for anything Iran has in mind, whilst not being connected to the action and in addition to that, the pressures at present are also enabling abilities in Palestine. There is no clear intelligence that is in the open that should be regarded as reliable, yet the ‘watercooler chats‘ seem to imply that calls between the PSS and Hezbollah wave allegedly been happening with some ‘regularity’ in the last 4 weeks, if that is so, than additional pressures on Israel cannot be far away.

Back to Qatar, the latest news gives that according to Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State that Qatar has met with the commitments that they were promising, there is a given that when Saudi Arabia, in conjunction with three allies that are not the smallest, any nation under pressure would be willing to comply with any reasonable demand that does not impede national pride to get in the way. Yet, what has the opposition offered at present? In my view the German promise seems unlikely to result to be any form of a working tactic to get some kind of resolution in play. You see, if there was any actual support being given, it would not be registered. I hope that the Americans learned that part when they found Osama Bin Laden a mere one mile from an elite Pakistani military academy. In my view there is no way that those involved with the security there had no knowledge of EVERY building within two miles of the academy. In that same air, you might think that Qatar is aware of any terrorist involvement, that is not the case, but there is ample proof on a few levels that it is utterly impossible that no one knew. The issue becomes how high does it go?

In that same light we need to look at another source. In this case I am looking at a piece by Sami Moubayed. The title ‘Qatar PR blitz is fooling no one‘ (at http://gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/qatar-pr-blitz-is-fooling-no-one-1.2067427) is not the part that matters. We might wonder why he focusses on the amounts like $150,000 a month for ‘research, government relations, and strategic consulting services‘, which might also include ‘communications with members of Congress and Congressional staff, executive branch officials, the media, and other individuals‘, the second cost at $2.5 million for former US Attorney General John Ashcroft who would be auditing Qatari efforts at halting terrorism funding. It is interesting how he is going to achieve that as the scope of monitoring and verification is close to impossible when we consider the rogue spears we have seen in Iran in the past, a mere general was able to give the largest level of materials and support towards the enemies of Israel. In this I saw that over that they missed out on options to increase visibility of close to 75% for a mere $10,000 a month (excluding my commission mind you), in light of the mentioned $138,000 not the greatest expense. Yet the important truth is given soon thereafter in “This is where the problem started and where serious work needs to be done to rebrand the country’s political orientation. No PR firm can do the job — it can be done by one person only, being Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani“, which is only partially true. They still need a facilitator to give a wider voice, or better spoken a channel to transfer the words of Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani to a much wider audience.

Sami is right when he states “Only he has the power to change his country’s image in the eyes of its neighbours“, and in this I am not even mentioning his valid reason of “All Qatar needs to do is walk away from Hamas and Yousuf Al Qaradawi“, which would have been a good idea any day of the week. Qatar has a few more options, options that they did not even realise that they had. There is a case to be made to revamp Al Jazeera TV’s editorial policy. Yet as it is speaking to the hearts and minds of Muslims (to a larger extent), I would not be able to give proper advice in that place, what does matter is that non-Muslims know what Al-Jazeera is, yet in reality those people do not know what EXACTLY Al-Jazeera is and that could be a small task, easier rectified and it starts on their own website. Not the flaccid minute under the heading of ‘about us‘. That current part of 200 words with the ‘Who we are‘ is so minute, so none telling that is overlooked with the mere blink of an eye. The words there “Launched in 1996, Al Jazeera Arabic was the first independent news channel in the Arab world dedicated to providing comprehensive news and live debate“, is laughter incarnate in my personal opinion! I am willing to bet a building on the fact that their 1996 was a challenge worthy of a small novel to say the least, so why not properly introduce Al-Jazeera to Muslims and non-Muslims alike? If Al-Jazeera is truly in 100 countries, the cheapest of solutions (read: SAP Dashboard) could add visibility to what is being offered, the network could grow through offering visibility using a mere BI consultant, which in all likelihood is already walking around in at least one of their 100 offices. In similar visibility they are presently (as their website indicates) not in France or the Netherlands, and perhaps at least in one office in one of the Scandinavian countries with the ability to offer local language support to thousands of Muslims. To the extent that this is PR that is massively cheaper than some PR offices offer and that is something Qatar would have in their own hands, working a social network with localisation. Interesting that that was not mentioned anywhere.

My ideas are directly reflective of the words of Sami Moubayed as he states “Somebody needs to whisper in the ear of the emir — and senior management at Al Jazeera — that they need to do a better job to polish their image; rather than spend millions on agencies in London and Washington, it’s far more urgent — and less costly — to do the job at home“, yet he does it in absence of directness or direct ideas on how to do it. I reckon that is fair enough, the man is a historian; he mostly lives in the past, not in the tomorrow. That is not an accusation; it is merely a factual realisation.

In this, the strongest point he makes is seen with “After a wave of agony swept the Arab World since 2011, this doesn’t sell any longer throughout the region. In fact, it sounds and reads as cheap, cliché, and very outdated“, this is exactly why the entire dashboard is such a step forward, I noticed a few more issues. There would be a fair debate whether this is laziness, or mere editorial policy. A case could be made for either side, yet the issue remains.

As we say goodbye to the Al-Jazeera side, we need to embrace one more part in the article by Sami. When we revisit the title ‘Qatar PR blitz is fooling no one‘, I will argue that there is no fooling going on, the article reads nice, but it is not an ‘or’ situation, Qatar is in a ‘and’ situation, where they need to visit issues on inclusion and finding more options to visit, not choosing from some selection and there is a need to be clever about it because the cost and effect of $150,000 a month needs to be examined as how it was spend and what was gained. The question on rebranding politics is also up for grabs, is it about branding or making sure that the visibility is correctly vetted? These elements are not the same and the cause and effect here is also implicitly seen as we see the reactions from the 4 neighbours currently not happy with Qatar. In this, there is an additional part for me set in the issues from Saudi Arabia. I have not read the original reports (and my knowledge of the Arabian language can be rounded upwards towards 0%), yet the press on a near global scale have never given proper item by item view of all the elements, more important towards the evidence as the other 3 (minus the hacking UAE) have offered them with shown source intelligence. It would be so embarrassing if the other three plaintiffs are all depending on one and the same source (an unknown part and speculative from my side). I believe that open clear communication is a first step to resolve it. the fact that my glasses got initially tainted because Al-Jazeera was kind enough to start that day with voicing anti-Semitism through  broadcasting sermons by the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, that was not a good day for Al-Jazeera in light of the stresses in Doha that day. This is exactly why reforming, or better stated editing the ‘powers to be’ within Al-Jazeera sooner rather than later.

For me, I have always been a fan of oversimplifying any issue, so when I look at the grievances now in play, if there could be talks and the three nations can name one item that would show the good intentions of Qatar, what would it be and could Qatar comply with these three items? You see, it might sound oversimplified, but the reality is that all large achievements start small, one step at a time. In that way, we are not enabling either Iran or Turkey (there are issues with some of their decisions), there is an open view of the matter at hand and there is movement in a stress reducing direction. If those three items would stop the blockades, there would be a first step in resolution and more important, as I personally see it, the risk of escalation, as two nations miscommunicate between two optional dinghies and send missiles in the wrong direction is definitely a good element to prevent. Consider the implications, if we see the choice from King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Would the biggest issue of his kingdom be with the dissidents or with the Iranian connections?

I believe that certain actions are becoming increasingly important, not merely because of the pressures and stresses, the short term issue is seen as we read “The boycotting countries have previously told the WTO that they would cite national security to justify their actions against Qatar, using a controversial and almost unprecedented exemption allowed under the WTO rules” (at http://www.trtworld.com/mea/qatar-crisis-latest-developments-413572), the problem here is that if this element is accepted, the WTO is not merely a cannel of facilitation, it would leave Qatar with very little to work with, it would in addition leave Turkey with holding the bag as the shops are showing in big signs ‘From Turkey by air – New products‘, if those remain Turkey itself ends up in deep hot waters with all the repercussions that follow. As my Law classes included all matters Wise, Terrible and Obvious, the words as given in Forbes (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2017/03/01/trump-admins-yugely-terrible-trade-idea-to-ignore-wto-rulings-america-doesnt-like/#7edfa5103a9f)

With: “Not obeying WTO rules allows countries to close their markets to your exports, it doesn’t force them to open them up“, that would be a stage with issues on several levels we really don’t want to end up at.

This also gets me to the article for another reason. The March 1st article shows more than you expected. You see with “The Trump administration sent shockwaves through the world of trade yesterday when the Financial Times reported that it was looking for ways to bypass the World Trade Organization, the 22-year-old oversight body that adjudicates trade disputes, and which Trump has called a “disaster.”” we now get a second consideration, is the Trump administration using the Qatar strategy to try to thwart the WTO in another way, trying to take away the equality and fairness that the WTO had in the past to set a different set of rules. Did the White House legal team brief the four non-Qatari minded players to use this to put more pressure on Qatar? It might be a valid tactic, yet the US could have had other reasons for pushing the WTO, the question is whether that is equally in play here, if that is so (speculative from my side) than it is the US that has done more than increase pressures on Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE. It is trying to change the global setting of trade in what I expect to be the most selfish of reasons, under those conditions, we might soon see that being a member of the EU is no longer a benefit, as it would become the anchor holding the other EU nations back in trade, merely for the reason that they cannot simply change trade rules for the EU.

So if Doha means Big Tree, we have to wonder what the board looks like at present, it seems that certain actions have been put into motion to set a season of drought for this big tree. We can argue that they did part of it to themselves, yet when we see that other players have had certain personal needs, who is actually trying to resolve the situation with a total absence of personal selfish needs? As I see it not the PR firms, in equal measure there are certain steps that Al-Jazeera could have put into place months ago, yet that too has not been achieved, so who on the side of Qatar is actually thinking of Qatar? I know it is not Turkey or Iran. I do not know who is, but as we see other sources state that “In a study by David Andrew Weinberg that was published in January by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) titled “Qatar and Terror Finance: Part II: Private Funders of [al-Qaida] in Syria,” he wrote: “Based on these cases, there is no persuasive proof that Qatar has stopped letting certain terror financiers off the hook.”” (source: Jerusalem Post), we see that Qatar needs to start considering what is important to Qatar, because in the end Hamas will not care, they merely continue with their path of hatred against that state of Israel with whatever funds they can lay their fingers on. With all the considerations we would want to give to Qatar, it is the actions of Qatar, shown by too many sources that they themselves are becoming (read: have become) their own worst enemy. The one question that Sami Moubayed leaves us with is any of this done (read: facilitated) with the clear approval of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar? That is the part that matters the most and that path also shows the path of least resistance in hopefully finding a solution to the matter for all the players involved.

 

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