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Chitchat What happened in Saudi Arabia in the last 3 days ?

Discussion in 'The Courtyard Café' started by scroobal, Nov 6, 2017.

  1. scroobal

    scroobal Alfrescian Old Timer

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    This article below by Paul Pillar, a few days ago is the latest. Paul is long time known critic of the US foreign policy and US Intelligence despite he having served in US Intelligence. It does not have to be Iran but any entity that the US engages with, Paul would have a view contrary to the US and not that US is always right.

    Iran is a mix of theocracy and ecclesiocracy and so is rather rare form of government. Religion is therefore central to its existence and that of its political being. It therefore is compelled to support its version of Islam hence its intervention in Yemen Houthis, Syrian Alawites, Iraqi majority, Bahrain majority, Lebanon Hezbollah and Palestine Hamas. Albeit Hezbollah and Hamas were in the game long before Iran stepped into the breach left by their previous sponsor Syrian Alawites.

    I do acknowledge that the virulent form of Islam and the cause of much harm and mayhem around the World is Saudi's exported version of Wahhabism coming back to roost and the cauldron that tempered terrorism is the Western trained and funded Afghanistan Jihadists during the Soviet Invasion with their Sunni mates - the rise of Al Qaeda, Pakistan's nursery madrassahs, etc.

    Iran in comparison was very much well behaved. My sense is that with the demise of Saddam and the collapse of the Sunni minority political elites, Iran has tasted blood. Its only natural that they heeded the call from the likes of the Mahdi Army. A start but they were wise in the way they have spread their influence by proxy in the main and now a major player with a shift in the balance of power to their side.


    Cherry-picking Toward War with Iran
    December 2, 2017
    Save


    In trying to rally American hostility toward Iran, CIA Director Pompeo and other U.S. officials are engaging in the same kind of distorted intelligence that led to the catastrophic Iraq invasion, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.


    By Paul R. Pillar

    Although nobody knows exactly where Donald Trump intends to go with his campaign of seeking confrontation with Iran, his administration already has provided disconcerting parallels with the techniques an earlier U.S. administration used in selling its launching of a war against Iraq. Among these techniques is the cherry-picking of intelligence not to inform policy-making or to enlighten the public but instead to inculcate false perceptions among the public and thereby to muster support for a policy already chosen.

    [​IMG]
    Now CIA Director Mike Pompeo speaking at the 2012 CPAC in Washington, D.C. February 2012. (Flickr Gage Skidmore)

    The parallels have become remarkably close as the Trump administration has tried to get people to believe there is some sort of cooperation and common purpose between Iran and Al Qaeda. The President made this insinuation in his speech on Iran in October. Then his CIA director, Mike Pompeo, ordered a tendentious re-exploitation of already exploited documents captured in the raid at Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Osama bin Laden.

    This time the purpose was to find any possible connection between bin Laden’s group and Iran. Pompeo took the highly unusual step of giving an advance look at the selected documents to an advocacy organization: the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a leader of efforts to kill the agreement that limits Iran’s nuclear program.

    FDD duly did its part in the insinuation by highlighting a single document that it depicted as suggesting some sort of Iranian assistance to Al Qaeda. This was despite the fact that the thrust of the Abbottabad documents as far as Iran is concerned is that Tehran was in conflict, not cooperation, with Al Qaeda. This remains the judgment of experts who follow the terrorist group closely.

    Even the very document FDD highlighted did not say what those highlighting it contended it said. It held no evidence of any Iranian assistance to Al Qaeda.

    This entire effort to manipulate public perceptions has been remarkably similar to the efforts by promoters of the Iraq War to use whatever scraps they could find to suggest that there was, in George W. Bush’s words, an “alliance” between the Iraqi regime and Al Qaeda that in fact never existed.

    More Cherry-picking

    Now Colum Lynch and Dan De Luce at Foreign Policy report that the White House, in the latest bit of cherry-picking, “is pressing to declassify intelligence allegedly linking Iran to short-range ballistic missile attacks by Yemeni insurgents against Saudi Arabia.”

    [​IMG]
    U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell presents a dummy vial of anthrax on Feb. 5, 2003, during a speech to the UN Security Council outlining the American case that Iraq possessed forbidden stockpiles of WMD.

    Our antennae ought to be raised very high regarding the motives and reality lying behind anything that comes out of this attempt to manipulate public perceptions.

    Imagine that, in a parallel universe that Donald Trump did not inhabit, the White House was sincerely trying to help the public understand whatever was the foreign policy problem at hand. The problem in this case is the Yemeni civil war, which originated with discontent among northern tribes about how their interests were treated by the central government. The education of the public would note that large-scale intervention led by Saudi Arabia — which has a long history of conflict with, and demographic and security concerns about, Yemen — turned the civil war into bigger carnage. An aerial assault by Saudi Arabia and its ally the United Arab Emirates, together with a Saudi-imposed blockade, has further turned Yemen into a humanitarian catastrophe.

    Meanwhile, some Iranian assistance reportedly has gone from Iran to the principal northern tribe, known as the Houthis. By any reasonable account, the physical impact of any such aid is minor compared to the Saudi military offensive. The lesson to the public might note that the Houthis have been among the staunchest adversaries of Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen. It might also note that the Houthis have been allied for most of the war with former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who during more than three decades in power became known as America’s man in Yemen.

    The Saudi air war has devastated Yemen. Is it any surprise that those now in power in the Yemeni capital of Sana (i.e., the Houthi-led coalition) would try to get off a few shots at Saudi Arabia in response? Should we even condemn this effort to strike back, any more than the much bigger strikes in the other direction?

    The Trump administration’s efforts to highlight this one facet of a much larger war serve two of its objectives. One is to continue its overall campaign to pin on Iran all blame for any mayhem in the Middle East. The other is to distract as much attention as possible from the indefensible U.S. support (which began during the previous administration) for the Saudi offensive against Yemen. Meanwhile, the cherry-picking conveys to the public a false impression of what the Yemeni war is all about and what has caused it to take the shape that it has.

    Lynch and De Luce report that the effort by the Trump White House to make public cherry-picked intelligence about Houthi-fired missiles is intended to influence not just a domestic audience but also opinion at the United Nations. Here is yet another parallel with the selling of the Iraq War. Specifically, it evokes the presentation to the Security Council in February 2003 by Secretary of State Colin Powell, who — against Powell’s own better judgment and contrary to the judgment of the U.S. intelligence community — laid out some scraps intended to persuade people that the non-existent alliance between Iraq and Al Qaeda really existed.

    Such misuse of intelligence means foreign policy is being made on the basis of badly mistaken premises. The public sales job makes the misunderstanding all the worse, both because misperceptions are infused into a larger audience and because salesmen who are strongly committed to their cause — as was the case with the chief promoters of the Iraq War — come to believe their own propaganda.

    The misuse also represents a subversion of the proper function of the intelligence agencies. Intelligence is supposed to inform policymakers to help them in making decisions they have not yet made. The agencies do not exist to be tools to sell publicly policy that already has been made.

    The Trump administration is not the first to commit such misuse, but the misuse fits a pattern of how Trump has handled other government departments and agencies. That pattern, featuring many fox-running-the-henhouse senior appointments, has been one of subverting rather than executing the mission of agencies.


     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
  2. gatehousethetinkertailor

    gatehousethetinkertailor Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
  3. gatehousethetinkertailor

    gatehousethetinkertailor Alfrescian Old Timer

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  4. gatehousethetinkertailor

    gatehousethetinkertailor Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Screen Shot 2017-12-08 at 10.30.14 AM.png

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    As reported one year ago:

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    Singkies did not get this gig:

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    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
  5. Kotekbengkok

    Kotekbengkok Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Iran does indeed have a rare form of government but based on anecdotal evidence on the ground level I don't believe that religion is central to it's existence even though is called the "Islamic Republic of Iran" and effectively controlled by the Ayotollahs. I think it's more to do with the pride in their rich cultural Persian heritage, nationalism and of course as custodians of Shia Islam. The educated young and the slowly growing middle class Iranians have put the brakes on too much religious encroachment on daily lives, post Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yes Islam is important and integral to the lives of the Iranians as with all Muslims everywhere but on the ground, people have a more pragmatic approach. An example I am often given is the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I was told that he was elected because in his campaign, where he took a populist approach with many promises of liberal reformist policies. However, once elected he did a complete 180. Not only did he break all these promises he made , he in fact went on to introduce even more strict public religious practices. Even embarked on a campaign to suppress their ancient Persian heritage. Most of the young and middle class never saw this coming and have never forgiven him. He is openly cursed in private conversations. His presidency is seen as a dark period in modern Iranian history and this is well documented so no elaboration necessary. As one Iranian said to me: "It's similar to how Americans will view Trumps presidency 10 years from now".

    Here is interesting anecdote i should share about how practical the Iranians are: When you board a flight to leave Tehran, all the Iranian ladies are wearing a head scarfs. Its compulsory anyway. On disembarking on the other end in the foreign country, there is hardly a scarf in sight, except for some old ladies! Its really amusing you see this happening the first time. You rarely see this happening with the Arabs.




     
  6. scroobal

    scroobal Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Admittedly had little line of sight of Iran until the Houthis uprising. I actually dismissed their involvement in view of distance and their past record. There is always spiritual and affinity support as opposed to passive and active military support. Until the case of the Ballistic missle heading Saudi way. Even Assad never allowed Hamas and Hezbollah to have this level of support.

    I don’t think anyone can accept that the Houthis built it from scratch. And the missle DNA is now known.

    It could be a flawed extension of their Militia proxy strategy that has worked well for them in Iraq and Syria.

    I do need to read more about Iran. Much earlier I wondered about their need to go nuclear even to the extent of ensuring sanctions but need to dig deeper.

    What I did note that it’s seems like a policy to keep things within the country normal and pristine even to the extent of not drawning on the flames of nationalism to fan local support. The only odd incident is the attack on the Saudi Embassy.
     
  7. Kotekbengkok

    Kotekbengkok Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Yet another example of Europeans moving into Iran. The Chinese too should also be watched. So far their involvement is quite limited compared to how they have entered Africa. One very visible sign is that many of the cars in Iran are Chinese made brands and models, some of which which I have never heard of. And I see more Chinese signages and Chinese restaurants on each visit and Beijing accents in the hotel's coffee house during breakfast time


    [​IMG]
    Iran, Austria Banks Finalize €1 Billion Finance Deal
    Thursday, September 21, 2017
    https://financialtribune.com/articl...austria-banks-finalize-1-billion-finance-deal

    Austria's Oberbank signed a finance deal worth €1 billion with 14 Iranian banks Thursday in Vienna.

    The Austrian finance is set to be used for development of civil and production projects in Iran,Central Bank of Iran's website reported.

    Karafarin Bank, Saman Bank, Bank Refah, Bank Mellat, Tejarat Bank, Bank Melli Iran, Bank of Industry and Mine, Bank Sepah, Middle East Bank, Export Development Bank of Iran, EN Bank, Bank Keshavarzi, and Parsian Bank will act as the agent banks providing public and private sector with financial support.

    The contract was signed during Iranian delegation's visit to Austria headed by Ahmad Araqchi, CBI's deputy for foreign exchange affairs and Mohammad Khazaei, deputy minister of economy.

    Oberbank is Austria’s seventh-biggest lender, with a balance sheet of roughly €20 billion ($24 billion).

    Developing.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
  8. gatehousethetinkertailor

    gatehousethetinkertailor Alfrescian Old Timer

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    I largely agree with your comments about how Iranian culture in relation to the headscarf differs from the Arabs however there are variations of practice that stem from cultural rather than strictly spiritual requirements.

    The Khaliji/GCC culture typical means that the womenfolk wear the abaya and shelah (typically referred to as the hijab) - the Saudis are an exception as the women go one step further and wear the niqab. These are cultural manifestations of a tribal nature - not religious. Kuwait is the anomaly as half of the women cover and the other half don't at all.

    Typical GCC cultural garb for women:

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    Saudi women typically identifiable look:

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    The Khalijis who travel more easily than the Iranians then would get off the plane in locations outside the GCC and change into western stye clothes - some will keep their heads covered (in vogue is the look of Sheikha Mozza for a while - see pic ) or some just go uncovered completely.

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    Those that are more religious minded (and typically are already married with kids) would cover their hair in colourful variants.

    The other non-GCC Arabs are either split between those who already wear the hijab and those that don't because culturally the hijab is not enforced and their is no tribal culture requiring it. Similarly, khaliji men do not wear the thoub outside the GCC - friends are often bemused when they spot our local Malay/Muslims dressing like them in their white robes as they find it strange because it is not their cultural garb and is not typically worn outside of the GCC.

    So it is too much of a generalisation to state that one rarely sees this happening amongst the Arabs. Just visit Harrods during the summer months and you can see no hesitation expressed by the ladies to show off.

    One other point to note - the GCC nations despite being presudo-homogenous also carry a sizeable number of Khalijis who are of Persian descent - in both Dubai and Doha, the Al Fardans are one such family. They are Iranians who have settled in the GCC and over the course of time adapted the cultural norms language food etc. But within the society itself they are still "of Persian descent" and have no "tribal" affiliations. The women are also identified as the most beautiful in all of the GCC specifically.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
  9. gatehousethetinkertailor

    gatehousethetinkertailor Alfrescian Old Timer

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    A sidenote commentary: https://www.haaretz.com/food/.premium-1.827024 (add falafel, mafoul, hummus etc...)

    The cherry tomato is not an Israeli invention, and this isn’t the first time the fact has been stated loud and clear. But because the claim is so widely accepted, let me repeat once again: It’s false.
    The truth is that Israeli researchers developed modern varieties of the cherry tomato, which has become a commercial product found all over the world, mainly thanks to its long shelf life. Until the 1980s miniature tomatoes were a marginal crop used in dishes mainly as decoration.
    According to Wexler, the almost blind belief in the cherry tomato as an original Israeli development is attractive to Israelis because it goes along with their self-image as innovators. “For example, Israelis often point to the fact that prior to 1948, Israel was a malaria-infested swampland, but in just 60 years – due to Israeli ingenuity – the country became a center of scientific and technological development,” she writes.

    “For political or commercial reasons they create a connection between foods, food products and culinary images on the one hand, and presentations of nationalism on the other. They use food as a type of soft diplomacy, to create a partial, positive picture of Israel, which is sometimes far from the reality.

    ...about the constant duality, in Israel’s attitude toward Palestinian cuisine, which involves denial, admiration and appropriation at one at the same time.

    ...the demand by Israeli chefs – including Pini Levy, Hussam Abbas, Eyal Shani, Ezra Kedem and Erez Komarovsky – to receive credit for inventing an eggplant dish with tahini (baladi eggplant carpaccio). In fact, this is actually baba ganoush, an ancient Mediterranean dish that was prepared and consumed by Muslims, Jews and Christians. In various versions, it is popular to this day all over the Levant.
    “It’s no wonder that all the Israeli chefs who demand credit for inventing baladi eggplant carpaccio attribute it to the 1990s, right after the Oslo Accords,” says Zaban. “During those years Israeli cuisine developed a new identity, which corresponds with the Palestinian tradition and Mediterranean cooking. To this day Israeli cooking has a love-hate relationship with these traditions.

    “Think how difficult it would be for an Israeli chef to say ‘Palestinian cooking’ or ‘Arab cooking,’ and how easy it is for him to say ‘Shami,’ ‘Galilean,’ ‘Jerusalemite.’ That may also be the reason why this conference could take place in the United States, and not in Israel. In Israeli discourse, diners flee from reality to food, which becomes a reflection of the fears and anxieties from which they’re fleeing. In today’s political atmosphere, the dark sides of ‘Israeli taste’ are downplayed: the economic, ethnic and national oppression that are hidden in a pita. That’s also the main reason why Israeli cuisine is so successful in the United States and Europe – it is able to provide a softened, ‘civilized’ and non-threatening experience of the Middle East,” Zaban concludes.


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    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
  10. gatehousethetinkertailor

    gatehousethetinkertailor Alfrescian Old Timer

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  11. gatehousethetinkertailor

    gatehousethetinkertailor Alfrescian Old Timer

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    "Dont Go To Iran" vid:



    A different view of Iran - through the eyes of skateboarders:






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    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017
  12. gatehousethetinkertailor

    gatehousethetinkertailor Alfrescian Old Timer

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  13. JohnTan

    JohnTan Alfrescian (InfP) Old Timer

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  14. gatehousethetinkertailor

    gatehousethetinkertailor Alfrescian Old Timer

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    It has now gone from acquired by MBS to acquired by Abu Dhabi to acquired by KSA for Abu Dhabi as a "state gift" (in contradiction to the statement in the Abu Dhabi press and earlier KSA denials).

    We also urge you to provide insight and guidance to your Muslim grassroots umaah as I have been told they are in a great state of confusion, despair and anxiety that the most powerful member of the nation of the Guardian of the Two Mosques has flagrantly flaunted strict Sunni laws on iconography let alone one of Isa for half a billion dollars whilst Sunni neighbours to the south are overcome by starvation and cholera due to their blockade. And revealed in the same week they gave Jerusalem away too!

    We are confident your powers of persuasion will have a transformative effect on their lay understanding of such matters of statecraft and soft diplomacy.

    https://www.ft.com/content/6a2839ca-dc3a-11e7-a039-c64b1c09b482

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    Kindly explain the significance of the orb to them whilst you are at it:

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    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017
  15. gatehousethetinkertailor

    gatehousethetinkertailor Alfrescian Old Timer

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  16. Kotekbengkok

    Kotekbengkok Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Arabs are Arabs . Nothing much has changed. As they say, you can take the Arab out of the desert Bedouin tents but you cant take the desert mentality out of them. White man worshiping is still very much ingrained, never mind the competency as long as the colour is right. They are doing the same wit the Louvre Abu Dhabi. They could have made this the world renowned center or should I say Mecca of Arab , Muslim art and antiquities and use this center to win the propaganda war of hearts and minds of the world who views them ostentatious consumers, oil producers and as terrorists. A one of a kind world renowned center to rival the best of what the west can offer. They should buy and acquire all things Arab and Muslim and put it on display at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. But no. That would be too blase for them. A century ago they needed a white man on a white horse to lead them to defeat the Ottomans. Fast forward to today. What really has changed? How not to be cynical about them.


     
  17. gatehousethetinkertailor

    gatehousethetinkertailor Alfrescian Old Timer

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    They've actually done that already with the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha which was designed by IM Pei:








    http://www.mia.org.qa/en/

    This is but another page of inter-Gulf rivalry. Doha had been until recently the leading art collectors in the World led by Sheikha Mayassa, the Emir's sister. Of course the Emiratis and Saudis can't be having the Qataris as the leading light of the art buying world. Especially since Qatar had claimed the purchase of the world's most expensive paintings with Cezane's The Card Player at USD$250m and Paul Gauguin's Nafea faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry) initially reported for USD$300m (but later at USD$210). Tsk tsk - cant have the Qataris having that claim now can they!:

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  18. gatehousethetinkertailor

    gatehousethetinkertailor Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 11.09.38 AM.png

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  19. gatehousethetinkertailor

    gatehousethetinkertailor Alfrescian Old Timer

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  20. scroobal

    scroobal Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Agree on the Chinese. I have seen their handiwork in Africa and lately in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Imagine running construction companies in Zimbabwe building mansions for Mugabe's daughter.

    In Botswana they built the Airport but fully paid by the Diamond Rich state but locals despite them as they are not obligated to them. There have been fight backs, protests etc against the Chinese across Africa from Mozambique, Mauritius to Zambia.

     

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