Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Princeton Middle East Expert explains why Muhammad bin Salman is a great man

""Haykel described Mohammed as an “optimist by temperament,”a pious man who drinks Coke Zero and has the retail political skills of Bill Clinton.“He shakes hands, he remembers names, he doesn’t talk down to people.”"

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Yemeni so-called President

Western media have not reported that Mansour Hadi has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.

Women were not invited

Crown Prince in the Oval Office

Never has a visitor to the Oval Office been insulted in this manner. Trump covered the Saudi Crown Prince with boards to show arms sales and to underline the true nature of the relationship between the two countries. And the Crown Prince laughs.

The crook and the despot

The man to the left bribed the man to the right, while the man to the right helped overthrow the man to the left. Both deserve what befell them.

Sinan Antoon on the anniversary of the Iraq invasion

"I was one of about 500 Iraqis in the diaspora — of various ethnic and political backgrounds, many of whom were dissidents and victims of Saddam’s regime — who signed a petition: “No to war on Iraq. No to dictatorship.” While condemning Saddam’s reign of terror, we were against a “war that would cause more death and suffering” for innocent Iraqis and one that threatened to push the entire region into violent chaos. Our voices were not welcomed in mainstream media in the United States, which preferred the pro-war Iraqi-American who promised cheering crowds that would welcome invaders with “sweets and flowers.” There were none."

So Trump is reassuring the American public that out of $110 billion arms sales pledged by Saudi Arabia, a fraction was actually signed

Monday, March 19, 2018

To my readers in Germany: a reader there got this message when he logged in to my blog from a cafe

This passes as investigative journalism in the US

Muhammad bin Salman

By the way, in the 60 minutes interview, the Arabic of MbS was not translated literally. It was edited from Arabic and improved in English sentences. I suspect that MbS propaganda office arranged for how own translation.

Emily Nasrallah's obituary in AP and New York Times

Many of the local Lebanese correspondents of Western media tend to be Western-educated individuals who are not generally deeply rooted in Arabic culture.  For that the AP obituary and this New York Times obituary really missed the point about her.  New York Times writer identified her as an "activist".  She was not really an activist.  What ever soft liberal feminism was gleaned from her novels.  

In its obituary of Lebanese novelist, Emily Nasrallah, New York Times published her picture with Ghassan Kanafani without identifying him

It published this picture but it didn't identify the others.  They are from left: Emily Nasrallah, Jamil Jabr, Halim Barakat, Ghassan Kanafani, and Yusuf Habshi Al-Ashqar.  It was too much for the paper to identify Kanafani.

Sunday, March 18, 2018


US Media rule: when an Arabic speaking, pro-US despot is interviewed on US TV, the interpreter is somebody who has a soft voice and an American accent. But if the Arabic speaking despot is not an ally of the US, the interpreter has a very rough voice and a thick Arabic accent.


15th anniversary of U.S. war on Iraq

“From the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the poisoning of Vietnam with Agent Orange, to the military contamination of Iraq, to the millions of cluster bombs fired at Lebanon in 2006 by the US-sponsored state of Israel - many of which failed to explode on impact and thus still pose a deadly hazard to children and other civilians - it seems there are plenty of ways to indefinitely prolong unnecessary human suffering.” (thanks Amir)

A UN Panel explains why rape and sexual violence by Syrian rebels are not as bad as by the Syrian regime

"Rape and sexual violence by armed opposition groups was not systematic, the panel said".  OK.

Africa's White Farmers

Of all the people of Africa, there is no question that Western governments and media are obsessed with the White Farmers in the continents.  They only seem to care about them.

Who is afraid of the dark?

“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

And yet the New York Times is reviewing yet another film on the Israeli terrorist attack in Entebbe

"Within a year, no fewer than three movies about the raid were released, two of them on American television networks."

The long article about Stephen Hawking

Notice in this very long article they never mention a thing about his stance against Israeli occupation but they manage to mention that he met the cheerleaders of Dallas Cowboys.

Age of Arab despots

Western media are obsessed with what they call "former Muslims".

Of course, there are people who leave their Islam or who ignore the obligatory rituals just as there are people who leave their Jewish or Christian religion.  But Western media, like this stupid article in the Economist (there are too many stupid articles in the Economist as of late), makes it as if this is peculiar or exclusive to Islam. And look at this passage: "While the penalties for apostasy can be high in the West, they are much more severe in the Muslim world... An atheist who recently appeared on Egyptian television to debate a former deputy sheikh from Al-Azhar University was dismissed by the host and told that he needed to see a psychiatrist." I don't know about you, but being kicked out of a TV talk show hardly counts as a "severe" punishment.  

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Thomas Friedman at the Saudi regime lobby

Thomas Friedman tells this Saudi lobby audience that he alone can define what true Islam is and that Muhammad bin Salman embodies it.

Dirty news from the Israeli occupation state: if this was from an Arab/Muslim country, it would have been front page in the US

"ISRAELI SOCCER STAR APPEARS IN DISTURBING SEX VIDEO: Player and three others seen humiliating naked woman in a video that is spreading on social media." (thanks Michele)

50th anniversary of My Lai massacre

“As the Americans approached the village, some of the men murdered people working in the rice fields or walking along the roads. Once the soldiers entered the village, the killing became systematic. They exercised every imaginable form of barbarism. GIs threw hand grenades into homes and underground shelters. They herded large groups of people together and forced them to lie on roads or in drainage ditches, where they were executed en masse with automatic rifles. Other civilians were shot individually. Some Vietnamese were killed only after being clubbed, tortured, stabbed, and raped. Some GIs mutilated their victims after killing them. It was not a spontaneous spasm of violence. The Americans took their time. The massacre was almost leisurely, methodically carried out over a four-hour period. In the midst of the carnage, soldiers took breaks to eat and smoke.”

Appy, C. 2015. American Reckoning. New York: Penguin Books. Page 146.

Wold Bank and IMF and the Beirut Reconstruction Plan

This is an excellent and succinct critique of the role of the World Bank and IMF and the Hariri plan of Beirut reconstruction:

Hourani, Najib, “From National Utopia to Elite Enclave: The Selling of the Beirut Souqs” in Gary McDonogh and Marina Peterson, eds.. Global Downtowns. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012.

The Epoch of Lebanese Military Rule

My weekly article in Al-Akhbar: "Gaby Lahoud and the Epoch of Lebanese Military Rule".

Rachel Corrie: 15 years later

“Join the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice on Friday, March 16th for our annual community potluck to honor Rachel Corrie and celebrate fifteen years of Palestinian solidarity and community organizing!” (thanks Amir)

Friday, March 16, 2018

This is the most normal and casual endorsement of war crimes that I have ever seen: Elliott Abrams on Israeli-Lebanese war. Can you imagine if an Arab were to write this about Israel and its civilians?

This is the most cruel and callous endorsement of Israeli war crimes that I have seen. He basically is saying that US need to devise methods to pull out Americans from Lebanon in the case of war with Israel because Israel is planning an all-out war against Lebanon's civilians and its infra structure. Read the last book by the man on Realism and Democracy: he devotes the book to the subject of democracy in US foreign policy only to admit that in fact the administration he served never bothered ever with democracy and that the Bush administration only mentioned and in passing one issue with Saudi Arabia: the Western Christians in the Kingdom and their right to worship. That was it.  

What is Muhammad bin Salman up to?

There is so much Western and Israeli investment in Muhammad bin Salman that if he falls a lot in Western policies and wars will fall with him--at least in part. Of course, nobody is more opportunistic than Western governments and Israel: just as US abandoned so swiftly Muhammad bin Nayif, its loyal servant for many decades, they will abandon quickly this MbS if he falls.  The story about him placing his own mother under house arrest is big.  It shows that a man is willing to violate not only the standard conventional thinking and policies and orientations of the Saudi regime, but even the common traditions and social norms of society in Arabia.  The fact that he can't trust his own mother because he fears that she may advance the fortunes of her other sons, tells you that he is most insecure.  He has dealt with his insecurity in two ways: 1) by relying on US and Western support no matter what he does as long as he serves Israeli interests and Western economic interests; 2) by being ruthless inside the kingdom and against his own royal family.  The story just now that the members of the "Saud Al-Kabir" within the royal family indicates that there is at least a sign of deep dissatisfaction.  And as Mujtahid observed: this branch is known for ruthlessness.  The National Guard was built and cultivated by King Abdullah and later his son. I can't see that all of them would swiftly switch allegiance.  I can't see how MbS could sustain his method of rule.  It is based too much on external support, fear and little by way of domestic support.  The promise of theatre and sleazy "art" from Lebanon is not enough to make people forget the oppression they suffer under and the bad economic situation of the Kingdom.  The grand promises of MbS will follow the dictates of the law of diminishing returns.  Every season he will fail to deliver and then he will decree bonuses to employees or new subsidies.  How long will that last.  He could have easily established a much more secure rule if he is not too paranoid and if he was a bit more deferential to the norms of the family.  Not a pretty picture coming out--for him and for those banking on him.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

There is a new Syrian rebel group: Guardians of Religion and it is loyal to Al-Qai`dah

Add another name to the long list of Syrian rebel groups: there is a group called Hurras Ad-Din (Guardians of Religion) which split off from Hay'at Tahrir Ash-Sham. The new group insists on allegiance to Al-Qa`idah.  Wait a few days and Liz Sly, the worst foreign correspondent who ever worked in the Middle East, will declare the new group to be feminist and democratic. 

I am not making this up: AUB president honors...AUB president

This is really a first. He must have gotten the idea from Saudi monarchs.

UN "reports" on casualties in Syria

I see the lousy Western correspondents in Beirut throwing in their reports estimates of casualties in Syria and attributing them to "UN".  But correct me if I am wrong: did the UN not early on in the Syrian war announce officially that it won't be providing estimates of casualties in Syria because of the difficulty of counting?  The UN abandoned the effort and yet there are reports attributing estimates to the "UN".  Which is another way of providing legitimacy and credibility to the estimates provided daily by Rami Abdul-Rahman from his home in the UK: don't laugh. On a clear day, you really can see Syria from UK, all stereotypes about foggy UK notwithstanding.  

This is exactly what Human Rights Watch mean by "human rights": a celebration of Western capitalism and its invasions

No, it’s not an IPO for ! We are ringing the opening bell today for our 40th anniversary+to celebrate worldwide! At Human Rights Watch we know business prospers where human rights & the rule of law are protected. Join us!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Saudi and UAE media are celebrating the firing of Tillerson

King `Abdul-`Aziz and his special envoy to Hitler

I posted the video a few days ago and now we have confirmation that the Arab in the video being met by Hitler in the Berghof is none other than (the Libyan) envoy of King Abdul-`Aziz, Khalid Al-Hud Al-Qarqani. Here is the background about him and his mission to Hitler.

Monday, March 12, 2018


The same Democrats who are faulting Melania for putting up with her husband are the same people who defended Hillary for putting up with her husband.

Foreign intervention in local elections around the world

To be honest with you, no foreign intervention in a local election can impress me after reading (years ago) Ropes of Sand: America's Failure in the Middle East, Wilbur Eveland.  Read this book and see what the US did to win an election in...Lebanon of all places.  If I don't hear about briefcases full of cash, I dont call it a real intervention in an election.

The late Saba Mahmood (I still can't believe that she died).

By "independent" the Wall Street Journal means "UAE-funded".

"independent Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington".

The story of Malala: how verifiable is the tale about her?

Of course, you are not supposed to question any story or narrative or tale spun by Western governments. It is against the rules and ethics, I know. But: to what extent the story about her is true? If it is not true, I don't think that it was her fault as it was the Western governments and media that wanted that story to be true in order to justify films, books, documentaries, Nobel, and various Western government official statements and photo opportunities.  Was she really targeted when she was 14 or 15 by the Taliban because of her educational advocacy?  Why is it not mentioned that she and two other girls were shot by an unknown gunman when they were boarding a school bus? Why not mention that two other girls were also injured? Why did the story become an assassination against one girl only? And why did the story in Western media later change? From an unknown gunman to a story of the gunman boarding the school bus and asking for her personally (before he proceeded to shoot at not one but three girls).  And there was a letter by a Pakistani Taliban but he claimed educational advocacy was not a reason but her defamation of the Taliban.  This happened after the story because big.  Also, under pressure from Western governments, the Pakistan government arrested 10 people but later released them and conceded that there was no evidence to their involvement.  If this story was one which served regimes opposed to the US, all Western media would be assigning investigating units to look into the story but this won't happen in this story.  Yesterday, I read that she said that people in developing countries consider the West to the "the ideal".  When she says something like that you realized: if Malala did not exist, she had to be invented.  How could you after this question the tale about Malala?  Again, I am not ruling one way or another but the story should be looked into.

PS I may have been misunderstood as I heard from a loyal reader: no, I did not in any question whether she was shot. Of course, she was shot. That can't be disputed. I said that she was shot but along with two other girls on the bus. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

I need help: does anyone recognize the Arab leader being received by Hilter in his Berghof here?

Most likely, Shaykh Yusuf Yasin, advisor to King Abdul-`Aziz of Saudi Arabia.  No, not Yasin. Possibly another advisor, Hafiz Wahbah, but the latter wore glasses.  No, it was yet another advisor, Khalid Al-Hud. 

The stupid Washington Post actually maintains that every singe woman in North Korea is a victim of sexual assault. The evidence? See below

“based on testimony from more than 40 women who have escaped from North Korea.” And US media has the audacity of mocking the media of Russia and China?

Saba Mahmood is dead.

I was very sad to wake up to the most unpleasant news of the passing of Saba Mahmood. She was a very influential scholar in the field of anthropology, Gender and Middle East studies, and a very nice person to know and talk to. I first met Saba in Beirut, not in Berkeley. She emailed me and suggested that we meet there during one of her trips to Lebanon. And we met at a cafe in downtown Beirut. We stayed in touch then in Berkeley and she once cooked a great (southern Indian) meal for me (she was an excellent scholar and a great cook) at their home in Richmond. Her book, Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject, is in my opinion one of the most original books on gender and the Middle East in many years. Her book had a great influence on how I thought and taught issues of gender and Islam. I saw how loved she was by her students at UC, Berkeley, where she had a loyal following. It was fitting that her last post dealt with BDS. Our last communication--as typical of the age of social media--was on Facebook. Our last conversation was about the problematic views and stances of Syrian poet, Adonis. My sincere condolences to Charles, her family, friends, and all her students out there.