Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK

The Upstart Saudi Prince Who’s Throwing Caution to the Winds

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — With the tacit backing of his father, Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old crown prince (wali al 3ahd) has established himself as the most powerful figure in the Arab world, rushing into confrontations on all sides at once.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the arrest of 11 princes in his royal family and nearly 200 members of the Saudi business elite, and has begun to take power from the kingdom’s conservative clerics.

He has blockaded neighboring Qatar, accused Iran of acts of war and encouraged the resignation of Lebanon’s prime minister. And in Yemen, his armed forces are fighting an Iranian-aligned faction in an intractable war that created a humanitarian crisis.

The crown prince has moved so quickly that American officials and others worry that he is destabilizing the region. Signs of potential blowback are growing.

Investors, nervous about his plans, have been moving money out of the kingdom. Prince Mohammed has sought to counter the capital flight by squeezing detainees and others to surrender assets. He has presented the arrests as a campaign against corruption, but his targets call it a shakedown, and he has turned for advice to a former Egyptian security chief who has been pilloried at home for brutality and graft.

Prince Mohammed’s supporters say he is simply taking the drastic measures needed to turn around the kingdom’s graft-ridden and oil-dependent economy while pushing back against Iranian aggression.

But analysts around the region debate whether the headlong rush might be driven more by a desire to consolidate power before a possible royal succession, desperation for cash to pay for his plans or simply unchecked ambition to put his stamp on the broader Middle East.

And despite President Trump’s enthusiasm for the prince, some in the State Department, the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies say they fear that his impulsiveness could both set back his own goals and destabilize the region.

“He’s decided he doesn’t do anything cautiously,” said Philip Gordon, the White House Middle East coordinator under President Barack Obama. But, Mr. Gordon said, “if the crown prince alienates too many other princes and other pillars of the regime, pursues costly regional conflicts and scares off foreign investors, he could undermine the prospects for the very reforms he is trying to implement.”

The extrajudicial arrests have spooked investors enough, analysts say, to extinguish the prince’s plans for an public stock offering of Aramco, the Saudi state oil company, in New York or London next year. It had been a centerpiece of his overhaul.

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President Trump and King Salman joined Arab leaders for a family photo in Riyadh in May.CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

The crown prince’s threats against Iran and Lebanon have raised the specter of wars that the Saudi military, already bogged down in Yemen, is ill-equipped to fight. Riyadh would be forced to depend on the United States and ill-prepared Israel in any new conflict.

His corruption purge at home, meanwhile, risks alienating parts of the royal family and the financial elite at a moment that would appear to demand unity, either to smooth a succession or to face off against Iran.

As many as 17 people detained in the anti-corruption campaign have required medical treatment for abuse by their captors, according to a doctor from the nearest hospital and an American official tracking the situation.

The former Egyptian security chief, Habib el-Adli, said by one of his advisers and a former Egyptian interior minister to be advising Prince Mohammed, earned a reputation for brutality and torture under President Hosni Mubarak. His lawyers say he plans to appeal his recent sentence in absentia in Egypt to seven years in prison on charges of corruption.

Officials of the Saudi Royal Court referred press queries about these reports to the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Washington, where a spokeswoman, Fatimah Baeshen, said the embassy could not confirm or dispute them.

With the decline in the price of oil in recent years, Saudi Arabia has frozen projects and spent more than a third of its financial reserves, draining them to about $475 billion this fall from a peak of $737 billion in August 2014.

At that burn rate, the kingdom has only a few years to lift its revenue or slash its spending to forestall a financial crisis.

Against that backdrop, the prince’s supporters argue that the anti-corruption campaign aims to recapture hundreds of billions of dollars that have leaked from the state budget through graft and self-dealing — money he needs to fund his development plans.

Prince Mohammed had appealed to the kingdom’s wealthy for months to invest in his modernization program. But some groused that his plans — like a new $500 billion business hub “for the dreamers of the world,” built from scratch and fueled entirely by clean energy — were ill-conceived and grandiose, and instead of investing at home they quietly moved their assets abroad.

Now, he is no longer merely asking.

The Saudi government is pressing some of those detained and others still at large to sign over large sums in exchange for better treatment, according to an American official briefed on the crackdown and associates of the royal family. Employees of some of those arrested had been summoned months before to answer questions about their bosses, a sign that the purge was planned well in advance.

A senior Saudi official defending the crackdown said this week that it was meant to show that the old rules of business in the kingdom had changed.

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Prince Mohammed kissing the hand of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (sacked since then) at the royal palace in Mecca in June. CreditAl-Ekhbariya, via Associated Press

“Corruption is at every level, and there are hundreds of billions of riyals that are lost from the national economy every year,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive government matters. “The point here was mainly to shock the system, to send a message that this will not be tolerated anymore and that nobody is immune.”

Corruption has been so endemic for so long — from inflated government contracts for large projects to simple bribes to obtain passports — that countless Saudis have participated. Yet, some princes with reputations for conspicuous corruption appear to have been left alone, raising questions about who is being targeted, and why.

Other signs suggest that Prince Mohammed may also be seeking to thwart perceived rivals.

In June, he and his father stripped the titles of crown prince and interior minister from Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, 58, temporarily confining him to his palace. Admirers of the ousted crown prince were relieved last week when a video surfaced showing him moving freely through a family funeral, receiving kisses on his shoulder in a show of deference and loyalty from a procession of well-wishers.

That display of his continued popularity, however, may have been too much for the younger Prince Mohammed, who the next day ordered the seizure of the former crown prince’s assets, along with those of his wife and daughters, according to two family associates.

Ms. Baeshen, the Saudi embassy spokeswoman, said she could not comment on any potential investigations.

Some American officials suspect that Prince Mohammed may be rushing to lock down the levers of power in anticipation of a formal abdication by his father, King Salman, who scholars and Western officials say could be suffering from dementia.

When President Trump visited Riyadh for a summit meeting last summer, the king remained seated as he struggled to read a prepared statement. His speech was at times weak, halting or slurred. He seldom speaks publicly. Saudi officials, however, insist his mental capacities are sound.

Prince Mohammed’s supporters argue that Saudi Arabia’s recent threats against Iran and Lebanon came in response to provocations beyond his control.

As he was preparing his anti-corruption roundup, they say, Tehran’s allies in Yemen launched an Iranian-made missile in the direction of Riyadh, where it was intercepted over the outskirts of the city (the damage shown by videos prove otherwise).

The Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri, resigned his position the same day with a televised speech from Riyadh that accused Iran and its Lebanese client Hezbollah of sowing “discord, devastation and destruction” in the region.

But many, including current and former American diplomats, say Prince Mohammed’s boldness also reflects his conviction that he has the support of Mr. Trump.

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Mr. Trump meeting with Prince Mohammed, center, in the Oval Office in March.CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

Even in the last days of the Obama administration, another Persian Gulf royal who had already forged deep ties around Washington, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi began to promote his Saudi counterpart to the incoming Trump team as a useful ally. Both princes appear to have formed a particular bond with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, who at 36 is a contemporary of the young Saudi prince.

Mr. Trump chose Saudi Arabia for the first foreign trip of his presidency, and Prince Mohammed and Mr. Kushner have built such a strong rapport that other American officials say they are not briefed on what the two discuss.

“Jared is a bit of a black hole,” said one State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss frustration with the White House. “There is no sense of the positions he has advocated. We can only guess, based on what he has done and where he has been.”

The official added: “The Emiratis and the Saudis have been very careful to cultivate him and bring him along” toward their “confrontational posture in the region.”

A White House official who also insisted on anonymity disputed the characterization of Mr. Kushner, saying he regularly briefed the State Department and National Security Council on his trips and conversations.

Mr. Kushner made his third visit to the kingdom this year ( and many to Israel)— this time unannounced until his return to Washington — in late October, when American officials say he stayed up late talking with Prince Mohammed at his ranch.

The sweep of arrests unfolded days later, and Mr. Trump was quick to applaud, although several White House officials said the Saudis gave Mr. Kushner no heads up on what was about to take place.

“I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing,” President Trump said on Twitter after the arrests had begun. “Some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years.”

Ms. Baeshen, the embassy spokeswoman, said that Saudi Arabia and the United States “enjoy a wide range of cooperative discussions” but that “domestic affairs are just that: domestic affairs.”

The State Department official, though, said that its diplomats, the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency all felt “growing alarm” that Prince Mohammed “is behaving recklessly without sufficient consideration to the likely consequences of his behavior, and that has the potential to damage U.S. interests.”

 

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Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the world’s richest men, was reportedly arrested in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. CreditIshara S.Kodikara/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

LONDON — Saudi Arabia announced the arrest on Saturday night of the prominent billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, plus at least 10 other princes, four ministers and tens of former ministers.

The announcement of the arrests was made over Al Arabiya, the Saudi-owned satellite network whose broadcasts are officially approved. Prince Alwaleed’s arrest is sure to send shock waves both through the kingdom and the world’s major financial centers. (His worth dropped 10% on that announcement. His aunt from mother side Leila Solh, a Lebanese, is in charge of catering for caritative and health institutions in Lebanon)

Al Walid controls the investment firm Kingdom Holding and is one of the world’s richest men, owning or having owned major stakes in News Corp, Citigroup, Apple, Twitter and many other well-known companies. The prince also controls satellite television networks watched across the Arab world.

The sweeping campaign of arrests appears to be the latest move to consolidate the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the favorite son and top adviser of King Salman.

At 32, the crown prince is already the dominant voice in Saudi military, foreign, economic and social policies, stirring murmurs of discontent in the royal family that he has amassed too much personal power, and at a remarkably young age.

The king had decreed the creation of a powerful new anti-corruption committee, headed by the crown prince, only hours before the committee ordered the arrests.

Al Arabiya said that the anti-corruption committee has the right to investigate, arrest, ban from travel, or freeze the assets of anyone it deems corrupt.

The Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh, the de facto royal hotel, was evacuated on Saturday, stirring rumors that it would be used to house detained royals. The airport for private planes was closed, arousing speculation that the crown prince was seeking to block rich businessmen from fleeing before more arrests.

Prince Alwaleed was giving interviews to the Western news media as recently as late last month about subjects like so-called crypto currencies and Saudi Arabia’s plans for a public offering of shares in its state oil company, Aramco.

He has also recently sparred publicly with President Donald J. Trump. The prince was part of a group of investors who bought control of the Plaza Hotel in New York from Mr. Trump, and he also bought an expensive yacht from him as well.

But in a twitter message in 2015 the prince called Mr. Trump “a disgrace not only to the GOP but to all America.”

Mr. Trump fired back, also on Twitter, that “Dopey Prince @Alwaleed_Talal wants to control our U.S. politicians with daddy’s money.

As president, Mr. Trump has developed a warm, mutually supportive relationship with the ascendant crown prince, who has rocketed from near obscurity in recent years to taking control of the country’s most important functions.

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At 32, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is already the dominant voice in Saudi military, foreign, economic and social policies. CreditFayez Nureldine/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

But his swift rise has also divided Saudis.

Many applaud his vision, crediting him with addressing the economic problems facing the kingdom and laying out a plan to move beyond its dependence on oil.

Others see him as brash, power-hungry and inexperienced, and they resent him for bypassing his elder relatives and concentrating so much power in one branch of the family.

At least three senior White House officials, including the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, were reportedly in Saudi Arabia last month for meetings that were undisclosed at the time. (Navigating between Tel Aviv and Riyadh for fine tuning a nasty screenplay in the region)

Before sparring with Mr. Trump, Prince Alwaleed was publicly rebuffed by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who rejected his $10 million donation for the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York because the prince had also criticized American foreign policy.

As powerful as the billionaire is, he is something of an outsider within the royal family — not a dissident, but an unusually outspoken figure on a variety of issues. He openly supported women driving long before the kingdom said it would grant them the right to do so, and he has long employed women in his orbit.

In 2015 he pledged to donate his fortune of $32 billion to charity after his death.

It was unclear Saturday whether Saudi Arabia’s corruption committee might seek to confiscate any of his assets.

Saudi Arabia is an executive monarchy without a written Constitution or independent government institutions like a Parliament or courts, so accusations of corruption are difficult to evaluate.

The boundaries between the public funds and the wealth of the royal family are murky at best, and corruption, as other countries would describe it, is believed to be widespread.

The arrests came a few hours after the king replaced the minister in charge of the Saudi national guard, Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah (Mot3eb), who controlled the last of the 3 Saudi armed forces not yet considered to be under control of the crown prince.

The king named Crown Prince Mohammed the minister of defense in 2015.

Earlier this year, the king removed Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as head of the interior ministry (the first candidate for succession to the throne), placing him under house arrest and extending the crown prince’s influence over the interior ministry’s troops, which act as a second armed force.

(After this arrest, clans from royal rivals attacked and invested the Royal Palace in Jedda. And for 40 days, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman went in seclusion and out of public appearances to cool down the political climate. He is back with resolved revenge)

Rumors have swirled since then that King Salman and his favorite son would soon move against Prince Mutaib, commander of the third armed force and himself a former contender for the crown.

Note: Before I read this article, I posted these comments on FB and twitter

The activities in Saudi Kingdom are implying an internal palace coup d’etat by families of late king Abdullah.

Lebanon Saad Hariri PM was summoned to Riyadh and forced to video-read a resignation statement. This move was to rob him of any diplomatic immunity and be submitted to investigation  by Saudi Kingdom

If there were communication interference on Saad Hariri by USA/Israel, it is Not probably to assassinate him as they did to his father Rafic in 2005, but to discover any communications with the comploters in Saudi Kingdom

This cycle of internal palace coups occurs occasionally. The first coup was performed on Saud ibn Abdul Azir (second monarch) who removed his brothers from power and placed his sons in key positions and opened up Saudi Kingdom to a more liberal system.

 

 

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posted this July 10, 2014

When the people of Cairo took to Tahrir Square in January 2011 to oust Egypt’s longtime ruler, Hosni Mubarak, the streets exploded with murals and graffiti that both mirrored the revolutionary spirit of the movement and propelled it forward.

A young graphic designer joined the fray, working under the pseudonym Ganzeer, or “bicycle chain.”

Ganzeer distributed questionnaires, stickers, posters and, most notably, one mural of a massive tank gunning down a lone bicyclist. He called it his “alternative media campaign” to counteract propaganda from official news outlets.

Over the past three years, Ganzeer, 32, emerged as a star of the anarchic movement, finding fresh targets as leadership in Egypt repeatedly changed hands. His participation now in the revolution will have to proceed at a distance.

On May 9, he was denounced by a television broadcaster, Osama Kamal, on the program “Al-Raees Wel Nas” (“The President and the People”). He singled out Ganzeer by his real name — Mohamed Fahmy — accompanied by his photograph, making him easily identifiable;

Osama Kamal labeled Ganzeer a “recruit of the Muslim Brotherhood”; and demanded that the government take action against him. This accusation, which Ganzeer and several curators denied, has been widely used against journalists and activists in Egypt in recent weeks, leading to sweeping arrests resulting in prison terms.

Two days later, Ganzeer left Egypt for a long-planned trip to the United States.

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Ganzeer, one of Egypt’s most famous street artists, is in the United States temporarily.Credit James Estrin/The New York Times

“No one stopped me at the airport, because I am not on any official list,” Ganzeer said in a recent interview in his temporary sublet in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “But it is quite typical of the Egyptian government to start a campaign in the media, so when the time comes to crack down, their action is supported by the masses, because they had read about it in the papers.”

From Cairo to Beirut to Dubai, Arab artists have mounted a vigorous creative response to the political upheavals of the past few years, exploring a range of art-making strategies, including the street-art agitprop of Ganzeer and others, who draw from ancient hieroglyphics and teach themselves stenciling to put their cause on the walls.

A glimpse into the diverse and vital art scene arrives on July 16 at the New Museum with “Here and Elsewhere,” a survey of 45 artists from 12 countries in the Arab world who take a more nuanced approach to bearing witness, often questioning the veracity of storytelling and news accounts.

Carlo McCormick, a critic and author of “Trespass: A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art” (Taschen, 2010), puts Ganzeer in a tradition that includes notable street artists like Shepard Fairey and Banksy. “They have a defining style, but Ganzeer is working more as an activist than a muralist,” he said. “He’s more of a chameleon and adapts his visuals to the content.”

Ganzeer has had high visibility, arriving with the United States premiere of a documentary in which he is featured, “Art War,” by the German filmmaker Marco Wilms, that traces the development of street art in Egypt since 2011. His projects are also prominent in a new book, “Walls of Freedom: Street Art of the Egyptian Revolution,” by Basma Hamdy and Don Karl a.k.a. Stone (published by From Here to Fame).

Dressed in T-shirt, jeans and flip-flops with black curls and a short beard framing his youthful face, he said he misses his home in Cairo, a spacious 5-bedroom apartment overlooking the Nile that he shares with two artist-friends.

Here, he is making do with a spare room in a stranger’s apartment and survives by producing new prints that he sells for a modest $500 to $1,000 through Booklyn Artists Alliance, an alternative space in Greenpoint.

Ganzeer was introduced to Booklyn by members of the collective Interference Archive, a political study center near the Gowanus Canal, where he will be speaking on July 23 about the new breed of protest art that alarms Egypt’s leaders.

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Ganzeer working on a new piece in Brooklyn. Credit James Estrin/The New York Times

Ganzeer said he calls himself “bicycle chain” because he likes to think of artists as the mechanism that pushes change forward. “We are not the driving force,” he said. “We are not the people pedaling, but we can connect ideas and by doing this we allow the thing to move.”

This young artist-designer may have been singled out for his most recent street art project in Cairo: a mammoth mural depicting a zombie soldier standing atop a pile of skulls. Or, as he suspects, it was a reaction to an interview in The Guardian on May 8 in which he called for international condemnation of the soon-to-be president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. 

Ganzeer has always been quite outspoken with the foreign press and has thousands of supporters on the web.

In response to the news announcer’s accusations, he posted a refutation on his blog, titled “Who’s Afraid of Art?,” demanding a public apology.

“Ganzeer is a really great, smart intelligent brain and he has a very modern exciting view of the world,” said Mr. Wilms, who first met him in Tahrir Square in 2011, when Ganzeer was engaged in his first public project, distributing a questionnaire asking citizens what they wanted from a revolution. The scene, captured in the film, shows a much younger looking Ganzeer enthusiastically recruiting participants.

“All the artists in my film have been targeted,” Mr. Wilms said. “These young people are willing to sacrifice their lives. They are really dying in the streets. It’s very difficult to understand from a Western point of view, but they are really not afraid.”

On July 4, Ganzeer emailed that a young street artist and activist named Hisham Rizk, who had gone missing a week earlier, had been found. He had drowned in the Nile. Mr. Rizk was 19.

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Ganzeer’s “Of Course #2.” The text is an ironic reference to the military as the protector of the revolution. CreditGanzeer

Born in Giza, Egypt, in 1982, Ganzeer attended business school when he failed to pass an art school entrance exam. “I grew up reading comic books, and I saw myself as someone who would make comic books someday,” he said, only later discovering graphic design while attending college. He ran his own graphic design firm for eight years, developing skills that prepared him to participate in the creative efforts at Tahrir Square.

At first, he made items easy to distribute on the streets and in the subway. But in March 2011, he undertook an ambitious mural project, a larger-than-life portrait of a 16-year-old boy killed by police gunfire, printed about 13 feet high on a wall near the Supreme Court in Cairo.

Using Twitter, he gathered a troupe of volunteers to help him paint the tribute to a martyr with stencils, a 20th-century tradition that originated with Italian propagandists under Fascism but was later used by contemporary artists, Mr. McCormick said.

“Ganzeer was quite courageous carrying out his activities,” said William Wells, director of Townhouse Gallery, a contemporary art space in Cairo. “He knew people were going to stop him when he worked on the street and threaten him, and he always encouraged them to take part in what he was doing.”

Mr. Wells allowed Ganzeer to use his gallery as a base, but became particularly frightened for him in the past year. “The whole dynamics of the city has changed, and everybody was nervous about what Ganzeer was doing,” he said. “I think if he were arrested, nobody would have been surprised.”

Surfing the web for source material, and posting his graphics for anyone to use, he advanced the method of printing images, encouraging other activists to make street art.

In the chaotic early days of the uprising, Ganzeer mostly escaped police scrutiny until May 2011, when he distributed stickers of his Mask of Freedom, now globally known. Posted on the Internet, the image depicts a superhero-style visage, blindfolded and gagged, as a symbol of military repression.

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“Face the Vitrine,” Ganzeer’s collaboration with Yasmin Elayat, in Cairo. CreditGanzeer

This time, civilians were not so friendly, and when one of his volunteers got into an argument with a man attacking them as “spies,” the civilian police arrested Ganzeer, who tweeted to his followers. Caught off guard by the outpouring of support by protesters, the police released him without charges. When he showed up in Tahrir Square the next morning, his Mask of Freedom could be seen everywhere: on T-shirts, posters and stickers.

Ganzeer refuses to label himself a street artist. He has had art residencies in Finland, Poland and Switzerland and has shown in Cairo’s vibrant gallery scene. In 2012, his solo show at the Safar Khan Gallery focused on the military’s involvement in rape and sexual harassment.

He is adamant that he is not going into exile or seeking political asylum in the United States. “That’s what the government would like me to do,” he said, revealing a sudden flash of anger at the suggestion. “I would never be able to vote again. I would never be able to go back. After getting rid of Mubarak, I am not going to give up now on getting rid of this guy,” he said of President Sisi.

Alexandra Stock, a Swiss-American curator who lived in Cairo from 2007 to 2012 and who recently worked with Ganzeer on a mural in Bahrain, noted the mass exodus of intellectuals in recent weeks. “It’s very sad to see this whole wave of people who have left Cairo,” she said. “But I think for Ganzeer, seeing things unfold from a distance might help.”

When asked if he can have a role in the revolution from the shores of Brooklyn, Ganzeer gave an emphatic “Yes.” “In the United States,” he said, “I can make people aware of the situation, so at least the American people can pressure their government to not support our war criminal turned president Sisi or sell weapons that are used against the Egyptian people.”

While Secretary of State John Kerry has urged Egypt to support a transition to democracy, easing restrictions on freedom of expression, the administration recently announced that it would like to resume military and counterterrorism aid.

Neither this announcement nor his current status has dimmed Ganzeer’s optimism or determination to go back.

“Egypt has had a schizophrenic relationship with its street artists,” said Soraya Morayef, a Cairo writer who has made Ganzeer a topic of her blog, Suzee in the City. “It’s been a case where we love you, we hate you, we’ll jail you, we’ll free you, we’ll celebrate you, and, now, we’ll force you to leave the country.”

Correction: July 11, 2014
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misspelled the name of an alternative space in Greenpoint through which Ganzeer sells his work. It is the Booklyn Artists Alliance, not the Brooklyn Artists Alliance.
Correction: July 11, 2014
An earlier version of a picture credit with this article, based on information from a publicist, misidentified who took the photograph of Ganzeer painting the mural “Foundations.” It was Eva Frapeccini, not Ganzeer himself.
Correction: July 11, 2014
An earlier version of this article misidentified the nationality of a curator who recently worked with Ganzeer on a mural in Bahrain. Alexandra Stock is Swiss-American, not Egyptian, though she worked in Cairo from 2007-2012 and is currently based in Bahrain.

Funny. Absolute Jordan’s King Finds Fault With the “Other” Arab absolute monarchs

King Abdullah II of Jordan (Not the ailing monarch of Saudi Arabia) leads one of the smallest, poorest and most vulnerable Arab nations.

Such a British-made  “Kingdom”gives this King is a huge catalyst to looking down on many of those absolute monarchs and dictators around him, including the leaders of Egypt, Turkey and Syria, as well as members of his own royal family, his secret police, his traditional tribal political base, his Islamist opponents and even United States diplomats.

For example,

1. President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt has “no depth,” King Abdullah said in an interview with the American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, to be published this week in The Atlantic magazine.

2. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is an authoritarian who views democracy as a “bus ride,” as in, “Once I get to my stop, I am getting off,” the king said.

3. President Bashar al-Assad of Syria is so provincial that at a social dinner he once asked the monarchs of Jordan and Morocco to explain jet lag. “He never heard of jet lag,” King Abdullah said, according to an advance copy of the article.

 published this March 18/2013 in the NYT:

“The King’s conversations with Mr. Goldberg, an influential writer on the Middle East and an acquaintance of more than a decade, offer a rare view of the contradictory mind-set of Washington’s closest ally in the Arab world as he struggles to master the upheaval of the Arab Spring revolts.

Seldom has an Arab autocrat spoken so candidly in public.

Pool photo by Sergei Ilnitsky. King Abdullah II of Jordan during a state visit to Russia in February, when he met with President Vladimir V. Putin.

King Abdullah appears humbled and even fatigued by the many challenges he failed to foresee when he inherited the throne 14 years ago, describing himself before coronation as a “Forrest Gump” in the background of his father’s long reign.

In contrast to his father, King Hussein, King Abdullah promises to move Jordan closer to a British-style constitutional monarchy, and thus to stay ahead of the Arab Spring wave.

But he insists that only he can lead the transition to democracy, in part to ensure that democracy will not deliver power to his Islamist opponents.

The era of Arab monarchies is passing, King Abdullah said. “Where are monarchies in 50 years?” he asked. But even his own family, with 11 siblings and half-siblings, does not yet understand the lessons of the Arab Spring for dynasties like theirs, he said, adding that the public will no longer tolerate egregious displays of excess or corruption.

Photo: ‎الرجااااااااء المشاركة والنشر<br /><br /><br /><br />
خائن ابن خائن عميل لأمريكا واسرائيل<br /><br /><br /><br />
عاهر الأردن بدأ بادخال الاهابيين الى سوريا عبر الحدود وبعد اجتماعه بالصهاينة والعربان قرر فتح الحدود مع سوريا وسيدخل أكثر من 10000 ارهابي الى سوريا في الايام القليلة القادمة من الاردن وهذه معلومات مؤكدة والكل يعرف درعا وكم هي بيئة حاضنة لهؤلاء الارهابيين.</p><br /><br /><br />
<p>رجاء من الجميع نشر هذا البوست على أوسع نطاق ودعمه حتى لا تحذف الصورة....‎

The same absolute dinausor in a non-formal attire

“Members of my family don’t get it,” he said. “Look at some of my brothers. They believe that they’re princes, but my cousins are more princes than my brothers, and their in-laws are like — oh my God!” he continued.

“I’m always having to stop members of my family from putting lights on their guard cars,” he said. “I arrest members of my family and take their cars away from them and cut off their fuel rations and make them stop at traffic lights.”

Even his own sons should be punished if convicted of corruption, he insisted. “Everybody else is expendable in the royal family,” he said. “That is the reality of the Arab Spring that hit me.”

He blamed his own government’s secret police for blocking his efforts at political reform. For example, he charged that the secret police had conspired with conservatives in the political elite to block his attempts to open up more representation in Parliament to Palestinians, who make up more than 50% of Jordan’s population.

“Institutions I had trusted were just not on board,” he said, naming as an example the mukhabarat, or secret police. He said he had not realized at first how deeply “conservative elements” had become “embedded in certain institutions” like the mukhabarat. “Two steps forward, one step back,” he added.

Stopping the Islamists from winning power was now “our major fight” across the region, he said. He repeatedly mocked the Muslim Brotherhood, the pan-Arab Islamist movement behind the largest opposition party in the Jordanian Parliament and Mr. Morsi’s governing party in Egypt, calling it “a Masonic cult” and “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

And he accused American diplomats of naïveté about their intentions.

The US has been training these people and dispatching them to Syria via Jordan

“When you go to the State Department and talk about this, they’re like, ‘This is just the liberals talking, this is the monarch saying that the Muslim Brotherhood is deep-rooted and sinister,’ ” King Abdullah said.

His job is to dissuade Westerners from the view that “the only way you can have democracy is through the Muslim Brotherhood.

The king was also frankly dismissive of the tribal leaders from the East Bank of the Jordan River who have traditionally formed his family’s base of support. “The old dinosaurs,” he called a group of East Bank tribal leaders, including a former prime minister, before a meeting with them in the town of Karak. “It’s all about, ‘I’ll vote for this guy because I am in his tribe,’ ” the king said of their political program.

Alarmed at the violence in neighboring Syria, King Abdullah said he had offered asylum and protection to the family of President Assad. “They said, ‘Thank you very much, but why don’t you worry about your country more than you worry about us?’ ”

“The monarchy is going to change,” the king vowed. His son will preside over “a Western-style democracy with a constitutional monarchy,” the king said, and not “the position of Bashar today.”

Apparently, this king has not ready fora  constitutional monarchy as long as he is alive.

Sweet talk: Constantly shifting the blame on the others and on the institutions that he leads…

The political leaders in Jordan have been urging King Abdullah to return all the properties that himself and his extended family have confiscated for no compensation, and stop the lavish life-style of the monarch that this poor country cannot afford…

A version of this article appeared in print on March 19, 2013, on page A8 of the New York edition with the headline: Jordan’s King Finds Fault With Everyone Concerned.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

December 2020
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