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Discussion in 'The Courtyard Café' started by scroobal, Nov 6, 2017.
Add this twist on parallel events:
The sons of Saudi Arabia’s founding king, Ibn Saud, have ruled the kingdom since 1953 but have now almost entirely passed from the political scene. Ulrichsen said that Saudi Arabia is experiencing the repercussions of that transition: As the old guard loses its hold on power, Mohammed bin Salman has seized the opportunity to break up the entrenched economic interests that thrived off political connections to those princes.
Side issue here. No wonder Najib wants to be pally with King Salman and MBS. If not the Saudi royalty link to the 1MDB scandal might unravel?!
Trump, Kushner and the White House have more important items on their agenda such as saving themselves from Mueller.
I am sure the Arabs, Iranians, Turks and the Israelis have figured that out and moving their own chess pieces.
Kissinger and subsequent Sec of States used the media as their loudhailers to shape their diplomacy by pressuring them in front of an international audience. Tillerson because of Kushner has little to play in the ME.
Thanks gatehousethetinkertailor. Really appreciate your efforts in posting all this. I used to travel frequently to the ME many years ago in the 80s and 90s and can relate to a lot of what you are saying. Spent a week in Lebanon once with some friends there and agree that the Lebanese are intelligent smart resilient people. They don't call call them the "Arab" Jews for nothing. Many view themselves more as Europeans, at least at that time. I had Muslim and Christian Lebanese on the same table drinking away and eating everything! I agree that while Lebanon will lose big time if the Lebanese are kicked out from KSA, many of these highly qualified and experienced Lebanese are occupying key positions in the financial and other important sectors, so the damage to KSA will also be quite severe. Without the Lebanese diaspora , I can safely say that the ME will not be able to function properly. They are punching above their numbers. These ME countries can only get in so many British and Americans for these higher positions and the Indians are at best not more than middle management.
“Saudi Arabia’s real leverage is about 500,000 Lebanese work in Saudi Arabia, sending home roughly $3billion annually, a tide of remittances that keep Lebanon’s financial and property assets afloat. If these Lebanese were expelled, a dramatic downward spiral would begin”
A decent bitsize summary of the current state of affairs:
“Where this story starts depends on your vantage point,” said a European diplomat who has spent more than 20 years in the region. “To the Saudis, it’s the Islamic Revolution of 1979. They say that forced them to behave abnormally, and that now things are reverting to their old ways. There is truth to that, but there is just as much truth in suggesting 2003 kicked things off. Some of the Iranians at the pointy end of this, meanwhile, might go back another 1,500 years.”
The foundational split between the two main sects of Islam, over whether followers or descendants should succeed the Prophet Mohammed, has long been a starting point for attempts to explain the contemporary rivalry between Tehran and Riyadh. But the contest has more recently been drawn along modern lines of political power and influence, particularly in the post-Saddam years, which left the centre of the region deeply destabilised. “Saddam was the Sunni bulwark,” said a Lebanese politician who advised the former Iraqi dictator. “That is only now being understood by the Saudis, who are trying to position themselves in his wake, all these years later.”
“While they dithered, Iran took hold,” said a senior Saudi official who has left the kingdom in the past year. “While they thought the US was doing their bidding, it was actually enabling an Iranian takeover. This is now almost complete. So they are right to worry. So is everyone. Things have changed in the Middle East by them doing nothing about it.”
In the past year, as its forces have propped up Bashar al-Assad’s army in Syria, and allied with the Iraqi army and paramilitaries fighting with it, Iran has played a leading role in the imminent military defeat of the Islamic State (Isis). It has done so mainly through the use of proxies, which have played essential roles in most battles – including the Iraqi recapture of Kirkuk – and have helped clear land across central Iraq and much of Syria that has become strategically vital.
Iran now all but controls a land corridor that runs from Tehran to Tartous in Syria, on the Mediterranean coast, giving it access to a seaport a long way to its west, and far from the heavily patrolled waters of the Arabian Gulf. The route passes through the centre of Iraq, and Syria, skirting the Lebanese border and what were some of the most active areas of the Syrian civil war, which have been returned to regime control. “They are two months from finishing this,” said a senior regional intelligence official. “This changes things. It gives them an open supply line to move whatever they want. And it gives them strategic depth. It is a big deal.”
Among all its proxies, Hezbollah in Lebanon has been the most valuable – and potent. Hezbollah is the arrowhead of Iran’s projection against Israel, and it has drawn heavily on its battle-hardened members and leaders in other regional conflicts – Syria especially, where the group has suffered at least 1,500 casualties – as well as Iraq and Yemen."
Frankly I still see the World media, think tanks etc are still at sea on what is going on. They are forming opinions and views from the general press but nothing from their usual retainers from the inside.
Was this planned and organised or is it the mind of a young crown prince who has to make up for a costly war in Yemen he called that is going no where but creating an humanitarian crisis of an epic proportion.
My thoughts are that no rational person would open so many fronts unless driven by an event that has not been revealed.
UAE Minister of State for FA and Saudi’s FA Minister during the Qatar crisis made known their intentions by speaking to the press and by twitter. It’s not the case in this instance. In fact an old interview with MBS was used. This suggest an unexpected event.
The removal of National Guard Minister which has been in the hands of a father and son for 55 years without any repurcussions is also quite startlingly.
Arabs do not hold to primogeniture so it is unlikely they picked a nutcase.
I guess more questions than answers.
Well said and very true - your experience of Lebanon of course depends on where in Lebanon you landed and spent time - they are quite the "mosaic" culture with the wildest parties regardless of religious denominations - they also have one of the most convoluted but necessary governmental systems found anywhere in the world - their ability to converse in multiple languages typically also gives them the added advantage (yet the North Africans tend to go one better as they also speak Dharijah).
One thing that is severely underestimated and appreciated in this part of the world is the notion of pride of identity. Regardless of whatever they have suffered, they are very proud people in general (as is the wider Arab world) - its a cultural manifestation that allows them to insert themselves into any dire situation and survive.
I am sure you also realised how narrow a "country" it is because it really is just a strip of land yet so soiled with the bloodshed of the worse kind.
This press award winner captures that spirit of Lebanon:
Since we are on the Lebanese, here are my observations. I am aware of the Lebanese diaspora, they are held in similar vein as Jews, Sindhis in their host countries. All 3 noted for their entrepreneurial and financial acumen but integration and assimilation are a separate manner.
Australia has been a major recipient of the the Diaspora since the 70s and has a sizeable presence in Sydney. They are immersed deeply in state politics. However they are notorious for rife corruption that involves entire families. It has permeated state and municipal councils. It’s for this reason that Australians are prepared to vote Chinese as city majors, ministers even though they late arrivals, it’s not the same for the Lebanese.
It’s this lot that were robbing Chinese and Indian students on student visas because of their laptops and mobile phones though the Australian press were too politically correct to name the ethnicity but when charged their names in the press were a giveaway.
Despite their earlier entry into OZ, the Asians and new Africans have leapfrogged them across the public service and commercial sector.
It’s the same in Africa.
I understand that in the ME and in Gulf countries they are rated well above others of the region in terms of work ethics and ability especially in accounting, finance and sales but organisations are carefull of family ties and private work done with employers resources and IP.
This is a far cry when Beirut was centre of nearly everything good but 2 things seem to have caused much grief to the community - Beirut and Lebanon being made the favourite playground of the regional adversaries and favoured site for proxy wars and their parochialism.
Then you have spectacular individuals such as Jacque Nasser, the general impression however is pretty much divided.
My bet is like the Jews where family ties and creation of wealth led them to lose their homeland, the same speaks to the Lebanese.
Yes, KSA needs all Sunni Nations to fall in to confront Iran and Najib took the opportunity. We should see Najib swing soon from PAS to thinking similar to the Conference of rulers now that KSA has declared moderate Islam.
Another side issue- Both Najib and LHL read the opportunity of buying Boeing and scoring a White House visit so Trump can say he created more jobs.
Most of the crime, from drugs, religious intolerance with the host community, sexual assault, sex grooming, drugs are related directly to the Lebanese muslim community. They are the second wave of Lebanese migrants, and they come in far greater numbers than the first wave of Lebanese migrants who are Maronite Christian. The Maronite Christian are much better behaved and are the Lebanese known for their entrepreneurial and financial acumen. The racial slur "Leb" is meant for the the Lebanese muslim community, be it sunni, shia or alawite.
Najib (and his policy towards KSA) is no different from Mahathir (although the latter changed his tune towards KSA earlier this year)
When you drive around downtown Beirut you will see remnants of this brutal civil war in the many high-rise buildings pockmarked with bullet holes....
May I ask anyone here where if China is in anyway involve in this too? It seemed China has very little or no part in the Middle East except as a customer buying crude
Chinkland's navy is not a full fledged blue water navy yet. No way to project its power to Singapore, much less into the Indian Ocean or Persian Gulf.
Chinkland's spy service is mostly domestic. If it wants to spy on foreign countries, its spy service depends heavily on the size of the local chinatowns. Anyone can see a chink spy a mile away since it is safe to assume that all foreign chinks are chink spies.
Nothing specifically in the past week so cannot say with conviction - however, they had tried to maintain the semblance of the neutral "honest third party" and were supportive of Iran's ascension into the SCO earlier this year...but June was sooo long ago now...
Guess this has not only involved GID (Saudi Secret Service's Istakhbarat), but also kept other major intelligences like MI6, Mossad, CIA etc busy scratching their balls
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has warned other countries against using Lebanon for proxy conflicts, following a crisis triggered by the resignation of its prime minister, Saad Hariri.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman having a candle light dinner with Lady Justice, who took of her blindfold ribbon, to see the sincerity in his eyes.
Saudi Arabia should have annexed tiny Qatar by now instead of wasting time on an embargo. Dotard can be persuaded to sit this one out by offering cheap rentals for his hotels and US military bases.
Over the years there has been rumours that Malaysia has approached KSA to station their troops in KSA similar to the Pakistanis in return for hard currency to build their military capability which has been neglected over the year. Any truth to it?with the UN
Malaysia did the same with the UN which is on record.
Dr M did manage a delicate balancing act during his time to show support to the Saudis and other Gulf States during the first Gulf War but when approached to station troops in KSA he declined to send troops (in relation to UN Resolution 678) - he characterised the invasion as "fracturing Muslim solidarity" but not a jihad )as depicted by the then Iraqi regime).
I understand that Najib has similarly remained even handed though via sustained diplomatic engagement which Malaysia has, to date, enjoyed with both countries (Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited in October 2016 and King Salman of Saudi Arabia in February 2017). But the sectarian dimension has nevertheless added strain on their foreign policy given that as a Sunni majority country they do have an (outlawed) Shia minority. There was an incident in 2013 when "several Shiites, including an Iranian citizen, were arrested and charged with violating a fatwa issued in 1996 prohibiting the promotion if not, at least technically, the practice of Shiism - the incident resulted in a boycott of Malaysian goods by a group of unhappy Iranian traders. Although the boycott was not officially sanctioned by Iran’s government, the campaign temporarily damaged bilateral relations. However, Malaysian officials worked assiduously to repair the relationship, and have since then sought to assuage the concerns of their Iranian counterparts."
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