Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Karl reMarks

Reporting Brexit referendum: As if it were happening in the Middle East

London, Britain. June 2016.

You can learn everything you need to know about the EU referendum in the United Kingdom by talking to just two people in London.

The taxi driver and the millennial entrepreneur type person. They’ve never met, the taxi driver doesn’t hang out in trendy places and the millennial entrepreneur type person uses Uber instead of traditional London cabs, but by talking to each for ten minutes I gathered enough quotes to allow me to write knowledgeably about this debate that has inflamed passions on this small island.

The taxi driver, I will call him John because I forgot to ask him his name and he looked like a John to me, was disenfranchised with modern politics. He didn’t use the word disenfranchised but I felt it would work better for my sophisticated cosmopolitan audience.

John was angry about something he called the ’24-country format in the Euros’, a clear indictment of the remote machinations of European bureaucrats and their detachment from common people.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

Int’l politics are complicated, but here the UK referendum is explained as if it were a Middle Eastern country so you can fully understand the social and historical context.

Karl reMarks.
John was ranting about ‘Roy tinkering with the system’, a common phrase in the local ‘cockney’ dialect which denotes discontent with the opaqueness of modern European politics, particularly in the post Treaty of Rome context.
While I am personally a big fan of the European Union and its achievements, it looks good if I point out in a condescending way that I do genuinely understand why the working class are dissatisfied with it.But, and there’s always a but after those declarations of sympathy for the concerns of the lower classes, as well as a question: isn’t that more a symptom of the inability of politicians to explain to the simple folk why the EU is good for them?

In fact, trying to understand attitudes to the EU referendum through the prism of class is misleading.

As most commentators here would tell you, class has nothing to do with it and, in fact, class has never played an important role in British politics or society historically.

Most people don’t even know which class they’re in and many can be members of the higher and lower classes simultaneously, such as Lord Alan Sugar the world-famous working class millionaire.

This fluidity in class identity, however, contrasts sharply with the fierce ethnic rivalry within this ancient kingdom.

The Norman conquest of England in the 11th century left deep scars and created divisions between the Norman invaders and the local Anglo-Saxon population that continue to this day.

The persistence of legends like Robin Hood and Ivanhoe, describing native Anglo-Saxon resistance to the Normans, attests to this fact. When Anglo-Saxons in Britain today look at the EU, they don’t see a modern political union but the lingering face of Norman occupation.

The persistence of this ancient Norman/Anglo-Saxon rivalry in modern-day Britain manifests itself most fiercely today in the realm of soccerball, which is a local sport played on grass fields.

The local championship is followed by millions of zealous fans who support their teams religiously. It is dominated by Anglo-Saxon teams like Manchester United, Liverpool and Newcastle and Norman clubs Chelsea, Tottenham Spurs and, above all, Arsenal.

Arsenal has won many trophies over the years but nothing really important over the last decade or so. The club however continues to be universally loathed by Anglo-Saxon fans, not least because of its long-time French (the modern word for Norman) manager Arsène Wenger and the large number of French players who have played for the club over the years.

It is also hated for its slick, irritating style of football, which betrays a quintessentially Norman form of nihilism. This style contrasts with the more muscular and intense Anglo-Saxon approach to the game which shuns all aesthetic considerations.

Unsurprisingly, Wenger is a vocal supporter of the Remain campaign and Britain’s continuing membership of the EU. In fact, many of the leaders of the Remain camp are of Norman origin, while most of the leaders of the Leave campaign are Anglo-Saxon.

The notable exception is Nigel Farage, a politician of Norman extraction who argues that Normans and Anglo-Saxons should put their differences aside and focus on antagonising foreigners instead.

Farage has been shunned by the Norman community for this public betrayal, but he has managed to build support among Anglo-Saxons, although not enough to get elected into parliament.

Farage endeared himself to Anglo-Saxons by publicly drinking beer, a habit which is frowned upon by the Normans who prefer wine and coffee.

This fundamental dividing line within British culture has been overlooked by commentators in the referendum debate, but it represents an important symbolic schism. I wanted to find out more, so I decided to go talk to Matteo, the millennial entrepreneur type person.

Matteo runs what is known as a ‘hipster coffee cart’, but he’s much more than just a coffee seller. Matteo is passionate about his personal philosophy, which revolves around overcharging customers for artisanal products. He is part of a new breed of activist/entrepreneur in the UK ‘redefining the post-mass production consumer landscape’. And, as you can guess from his Latinised name, Matteo is a Norman.

Matteo believes that the UK should stay in the European Union, claiming that he feels more European than English.

Matte cited many great things the EU has achieved, like giving women and minorities the vote, introducing Saturdays (which are his busiest business days), and abolishing slavery. He particularly liked travelling around Europe, talking to like-minded people about their shared passion for overpriced artisanal products, and he feared he would lose this freedom if Britain left the EU.

As I left, I felt sad because the worlds of Matteo and John are so far apart. It is tragic that events that happened a thousand years ago should continue to separate British people from each other and impact on the relationship of the country to Europe, with which it has historically had many good wars.

Tomorrow as British people vote to remain in or leave the EU, the biggest driver will be this ancient ethnic schism between Normans and Anglo-Saxons. The majority might decide to leave the European Union, but they will still have to live with each other. And it’s something they shouldn’t forget.

Note: Britain foreign policies for 3 centuries was foment wars and instability in all of Europe in order to divide the European States and bankroll their wars.

Even when Britain partially adhered to the EU, it betrayed France and Germany by siding with George Bush Jr. on his war in Iraq. Britain foreign policy in this century was mainly supporting the US foreign policies at the detriment of a united Europe. Good riddance.



How one tweet ruined my life

This is the first time I speak about my ordeal with Twitter mobs in public, and I do it with a sense of duty and to raise awareness about the dangers of this kind of online bullying, in hope that we could learn something from this unpleasant episode.

Karl reMarks posted. 17 Feb 2015

The story begins yesterday around six in the evening, when I came across a website called It’s Back To The Future Day! which proclaimed that today (yesterday) was the day that Marty McFly went forward to in Back to the Future, along with a picture of the dashboard of the car showing the actual day.
So I tweeted the image with a line that said “If you want to feel really old, today is the ‘future’ in Back to the Future”, not expecting that this single tweet would change my life forever.

Shortly afterwards someone tweeted me saying: “Today is a day for ANOTHER rude photoshoping. (sic) The real date is 21.10.2015.”

The tweet was disturbing for two reasons.

Firstly, someone knew the actual date McFly went to in 2015 by heart, and by actual I mean pretend of course because it’s a bloody movie in which nothing is really actual, and

secondly, this was considered ‘rude photoshoping’. I didn’t make much of it however, and thought it was an over-zealous fan.

Soon after I was flooded with similar messages, of varying grammatical standards, but all saying pretty much the same thing. “No it isn’t It’s a hoax resurfacing for the 1000th time. The real date is Oct 21st.” “no, it is not. Back to the Future day is October 21, 2015. Google before you tweet is the new think before you speak.” and even more zealously: “21 October 2015. 21st October 2015. HOW HARD CAN IT BE TO JUST FUCKING WAIT?”

I quickly realised that I had inadvertently stumbled into the unpleasant underbelly of Twitter, infuriating a powerful lobby of Back to the Future truthers and accuracy guardians.

The flood of corrective tweets didn’t stop, I couldn’t keep up with the mentions on my Twitter feed. The accusations were coming thick and fast, aiming at my most cherished attribute: my integrity.

I couldn’t eat or sleep as the burden of this ugly incident weighed on me. Those 45 minutes were really difficult.

Then things got even more complicated. Most people said that the real date was 21 October, but some said 16 October, and some others 26.

I felt completely disorientated. What was the truth? What is the images people were sending me were also ‘rudely photoshoped’ and the real date wasn’t 21 October at all? Maybe the 16-Octoberists were the holders of the truth and they were being silenced by the more powerful 21 October conglomeration?

What future was there for humanity if we couldn’t agree on this one date? I was experiencing a sense of loss in authority and intellectual framework very similar to what the West experienced after the end of the Cold War.

The someone tweeted me saying: “October 21, 2015. Watch the damn movie” and another “it’s like you guys never watched the movie…..10/21/2015!” and another and another.

I felt so worthless, my self-esteem hit rock-bottom. How could I have forgotten a date in a movie I had seen 25 years ago? I am clearly a loser.

All those self-confident, attractive looking people had memorised this important date, and I had forgotten. My priorities in life were all wrong.

I considered deleting the offending tweet, but I remembered people are advised not to do that. Then I thought of deleting my Twitter account and disappearing from the public eye. But was there as escape in this age of social media and surveillance? Someone even threatened me: “I’m going to hurt you.” Will I be able to run away from them?

Fortunately by now my bus journey was over and I had arrived home. In total I had spent an hour and a half in hell.

All because I missed out the actual date by 8 months. I had been up against jihadi fanboys and dictator trolls on Twitter before but they weren’t anywhere near as cruel or as savage as the Back to the Future zealots.

This has left me completely broken. My therapist says I am making quick progress and I will, learn how to live with the trauma.

I probably won’t be able to watch Back to the Future ever again, but it’s ok because the special effects were crap.

Note: Do you know how the date of New Year in the west was finally fixed?

French king Charles 9, then 14 of age, was touring France with his mother Catherine of Medici. Every province and city had a different date for New Year. The King decided on January 1st. In most countries, the New Year was on March 21, the beginning of Spring, especially in the Near East,

(Nawrouz in Iran and many communities) and is still celebrated in many countries, along with January 1st.


God resigns over situation in Middle East

In a surprising announcement He made during a hastily-convened press conference, God has declared that He is resigning over the situation in the Middle East and other global failures which He takes full responsibility for.

God made it clear that his position has become untenable, but He will stay on as caretaker deity until a replacement could be found. (That’s what happens in Lebanon: They have all resigned but still taking care of business)

The news has sent shockwaves throughout the world as stock prices plunged and an atmosphere of uncertainty prevailed.

Karl reMarks posted on April 30, 2015:

At the press conference held at the Washington DC Marriott, the only venue available at a short notice, God outlined the reasons for his resignation citing primarily the deteriorating situation in the Middle East.

(If God waited until Saudi monarchy execute the cleric Nemer Nemer, God would have relinquished any care taking responsibilities)

God spoke at length of the region’s significance to Him, having chosen it as the place to launch three monotheistic religions.

God spoke bitterly of his disappointment and pain over the wars that continue to plague the region which He had had high hopes for.

God admitted that he has been busy for a while with other projects across the universe, neglecting Earth and said that ‘He had taken his eye off the ball’.

He revealed that he had last visited the Middle East many centuries ago and ‘it seemed to be fine, people were getting along and were busy being fruitful and multiplying’ and that he had left with positive impressions.

God then spoke of his shock as He learned that people were killing each other in His name, questioning whether leaving people with old instructions without regular updates was a wise move.

He admitted that there were ‘institutional failures’ and ‘major communication breakdowns’ which had allowed the situation to get to where it is in the Middle East today, stressing that he bore full responsibility for these unpleasant developments.

God said unto the gathered reporters that He had no choice but to resign, and that He was examining various options going forward.

The fact that he is the sole deity in the universe (in the western world) will complicate things for sure, but the Lord will consider promotions and a period of restructuring that will have a major impact on the way divinity works.

God, who was flanked by Michael and Gabriel as he made the emotional revelations hinted at more senior management roles for the pair.

‘I hear that people are arguing over whether you should grow a beard or not, or how long your trousers should be and quoting me to justify their positions. This is certainly not what I created religions for!

Why would I care if you have a beard? I gave you free will so you can decide on these matters, not to kill each other over them! I’m the Creator of the Universe, why would I care about your stupid beard?!’

But God was careful to remind everyone that He didn’t want to blame humans, arguing that He had ultimately caused the misunderstandings.

God regretted in particular the role that oil has played in destabilising the Middle East saying that He had left it ‘as a surprise for humans to discover one day, and see what they can do with it’.

Little did He expect that it would become a major source of instability in the region. He also had harsh words for American leaders, who had given him personally a very bad reputation and have exacerbated the situation in the Middle East with decades of nefarious meddling.

God declined to answer questions on whether He is a supernatural deity or a human construct that works at an allegorical level, saying ‘you need to work out these things for yourselves. That’s why I gave you free will. Or did I?’

God ended the press conference without taking any more questions, but the angels that were in charge of security indicated that there might be another press conference soon. (At a highly secure location and without prior announcement)

Meanwhile, the entire world awaits anxiously what will happen next. Richard Dawkins however tweeted: ‘this is clearly a sham. How can people fall for it? There is NO GOD!’

He then challenged God to a debate but no response has come from God’s camp yet.


The Confused Person’s Guide to Understanding Yemen

Note: In the last 9 months, the US/Saudi let pre-emptive war on Yemen has totally demolished Yemen infrastructure, hospitals, schools, dams… Million are displaced and dying of famine and health degradation…

 ‘What the hell is exactly happening in Yemen?’

‘What the hell is exactly happening in Yemen?’ is now one of the most urgent geopolitical questions in the Middle East.

Few people are qualified or knowledgeable enough to answer this pressing question. Most experts agree that most experts can’t give you a straight answer.

The reality is Yemen is a complex place that is very hard to understand for outsiders, and even more so for insiders. Indeed most of the people asking what is happening in Yemen are Yemenis themselves.

Karl reMarks posted:

I am not an expert on Yemen but being Lebanese I am an expert at not knowing what is happening in my country, which gives me a valuable insight into the situation in Yemen.

Not one to shy away from difficult challenges, I have compiled this essential primer on Yemen that will help you understand its politics and prepare you for what will happen there next.

(Experts also agree that anything is possible there next, which narrows it down a bit.)

1. The first thing to understand is that Yemen is an ancient land, as the Yemenis themselves always remind you.

It is thought that Yemen existed when the Earth was first created, and there’s strong evidence to suggest that it was the location of the Garden of Eden because Eden and Aden sound a bit similar, especially in English. This helps explain why Yemenis think they are a cut above the rest.

2. Until 1990, Yemen used to be divided into two states, North Yemen and South Yemen, until leaders in both countries realised they could merge the two countries and save on stationery costs.

This however created deep resentments, much like when a couple move in together and have to consolidate their belongings and get used to sleeping in the same room with someone who insists on keeping the windows open even in winter.

Such unreasonable behaviour I have never seen before. But I digress.

This deep resentment continued to simmer and boil for the past 25 years, as deep resentments have a habit of doing. We can’t understand what is happening now in Yemen without understanding that this deep resentment has something to do with it, although most experts agree they’re not quite sure what exactly.

It is not inappropriate however to suggest that division is a possibility now, particularly if we caveat it with ambiguous references. For example, one can say: ‘the south might push for independence but not unless it has good reasons to do that’.

(Mind you that the south was Marxist before the unification: It is now a Qaeda base for the Saudis alliance)

3. To complicate matters further, Yemen is not religiously homogenous, which always spices things up in Middle Eastern countries, particularly for external observers looking for convenient categorisations.

About two-thirds of Yemenis are Sunni while the other third is Shia. They are however Zaidi Shias unlike the Shias of Iran who are Twelver, but it’s best to lump them all together because it simplifies things immensely (for the talking head of western experts).

Yemen is also host to a thriving al-Qaeda community, who are the Houthis’ biggest enemy in Yemen.

The Houthis are Zaidis which explains their hatred of al-Qaeda, as if anyone needed a reason to hate al-Qaeda. The two groups are so opposed to each other that the only thing they can agree on is that they both hate America and the Jews, but not necessarily in that order.

The Houthis’ slogan, incidentally, is “Death to America, death to Israel, curse on the Jews, victory to Islam”, which in the words of Tony Blair shows ‘a lack of commitment to the values of tolerance and diversity’, if Tony Blair were to comment on the slogan. It also shows that they are dickheads (you mean the Tony Blair kinds?), but this shouldn’t cloud our judgment of them.

4. As is generally known, Yemenis consume the stimulant drug Qat in huge quantities. What is less known is that Sunnis refer to it is as Qat, while Shias refer to it as Qit.

Children of mixed marriages call it Qit-Qat.

5. On a related note, Yemen is the birthplace of coffee, which we are all hugely grateful for, but it does suggest that Yemenis have a thing for stimulants. As one 19th century anthropologist put it ‘is it any wonder that these people are so jumpy?’

6. The traditional Yemeni dagger, the Janbiya is also an essential item to understand the political dynamics in Yemen. All Yemeni males wear this item, but here again Sunni Janbiyas curve to the left while Shia Janbiyas curve to the right. However, if you’re standing in front of a mirror it could be a bit confusing.

When the leader of the Houthis gave a speech on television this week, his Janbiya was held in the upright position, which experts agree was a sign of confrontation.

In Yemeni culture a dagger is seen as symbol of aggression because it is a phallic symbol. Had he worn it at an angle, or even horizontally, we could have expected his willingness to negotiate. As it stands, the situation looks very dangerous indeed.

So what is in store for Yemen now that the President, the Vice President, the Prime Minister, the Parliament and one third-grade teacher in the north of the country have all resigned?

The absence of any political authority in a Middle Eastern country can best be understood through metaphors about the dangers of political vacuums. One can say for example ‘Yemen is facing the abyss’ or ‘staring into the void’ or ‘on the precipice of disintegration’. These phrases, while they don’t actually tell you anything, do convey an appropriate sense of impending doom.

The one thing that we can be certain of now is that Yemen is at a crossroads.

7. In addition to these internal complications, Iran and Saudi Arabia have been both anxious to open another arena for their passive-aggressive regional contest, and Yemen appears to be their choice of venue.

To sound wise, suggest that the decline in the price of oil has something do with it, but say you’re not quite sure what. Be prepared for sightings of Iran’s notorious and shadowy General Qasem Soleimani, and don’t hesitate to say ‘Bandar’ at appropriate moments and nod your head knowingly.

And keep an eye on the Janbiyas.


Sound like an expert with these phrases about Middle East politics

But you are just another talking head who refuses to due his due diligence.

Many people are hesitant to talk about the Middle East and its politics because it seems to be quite a complex place that requires extensive knowledge to understand it.

While this is certainly true, there are handy phrases you can use that will make you sound like you know what you are talking about without actually bothering to study the area.

We have collected these phrases in the form of a handy guide below. Note that if used properly, you can even go on to become a certain moustached celebrated columnist allowed to pontificate on the region with very little knowledge to go on.

Karl reMarks posted this April 2015

1. ‘It’s all about the oil’

This is the mother of all phrases about Middle East politics. It is one of the most effective phrases in the context of Middle Eastern geopolitics and one that can explain everything.

It has even been used to explain Saudi Arabia’s 8-0 defeat at the hands of Germany in the 2002 World Cup and the backlash against Haifa Wehbe’s latest video clip.

‘It’s all about the oil’ is best used along with a patronising phrase such as, ‘you’re so naïve, it’s all about the oil’, or ‘don’t believe everything you read in books, it’s all about the oil’.

Generally it’s better to use it about countries that actually have oil reserves. (Just a reminder, a few countries here have none or nothing has been extracted so far, like Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian occupied territories…Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania are in north Africa)

But in case you’re stuck and you’re discussing a country that doesn’t have oil, you can claim that ‘an American expedition found a large reserve of oil in Lebanon in 1917 but kept the information secret.’

2. ‘Saudi Arabia, pffft!’

‘Who do you think created all terrorists in the world?’ ‘Saudi Arabia, pffft!’ ‘What is really happening in Syria?’ ‘Saudi Arabia, pffft!’ ‘Who is responsible for the decline of the Arab novel?’ ‘Saudi Arabia, pffft!’

These are typical exchanges that explain how to use this very effective phrase in the right context.

Used correctly, the phrase will make both you and the person you’re talking to sound knowledgeable and wise and avoid going into pesky details.

But it is essential to make the sound pffft, simply saying ‘Saudi Arabia’ will make you look like an amateur. For added emphasis, you can throw your hands up in the air when you say pffft.

A warning though, in case the person you’re talking to likes Saudi Arabia, skip to the next phrase.

3. ‘The Shia Crescent’

Alternately called ‘Iran’s fingers behind everything’ this is a very popular phrase when talking about Middle Eastern politics.

The beauty of the Shia crescent as a concept to explain Iranian expansion is that it actually looks like a crescent and therefore must be true.

Other variations like ‘the Shia triangle’ or ‘the Shia Mickey-Mouse shaped region of influence’ failed to inspire the public imagination despite being more geographically accurate.

A popular elaboration on ‘the Shia crescent’ is to use the phrase ‘the Persians are the true enemies of the Arabs’.

By calling them Persians instead of Iranians you gave the weight of history to an otherwise mundane statement. See also the next item.

4. ‘Sultan Erdogan’

‘Why is Turkey….?’

‘Erdogan wants to revive the Ottoman Empire.’

Much like with Iran, everything about Turkey’s modern politics can be explained by Erdogan’s secret desire to revive the Ottoman Empire, including Turkey’s decision to no longer compete in the Eurovision song contest. Well, clearly the rules were biased against neo-Ottoman revivalist electro-pop.

The strong evidence that backs this approach is Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman presidential palace and the historic uniforms for his honour guard.

Whenever anyone brings up Turkey, throw your hands up in the air melodramatically and say ‘Sultan Erdogan!’ Everyone will agree with you and you will feel very clever.

5. ‘Obama is an idiot’

Who was responsible for giving the Muslim Brotherhood control over Egypt? America. Who was responsible for the coup that removed the Muslim Brotherhood from power? America.

Who is responsible for Saudi expansion in the region? America.

Who is responsible for the Iranian rise? America.

Pretty much the answer to any question that starts with ‘who?’ in the Middle East is always America.

While this might not be strictly true some of the time, America is a very popular choice that everyone can agree on holding responsible for everything.

(We used to say in the 20th century “Al 7ak 3ala al Tolyains” blame the Italians. The USA has demonstrated time and again that it is the real culprit in destabilizing the region after WWII)

In order to use this correctly however, you must simultaneously hold two seemingly contradictory opinions: that America is a clever and scheming power that controls everything in the Middle East and that America is extremely stupid.

If you’re questioning this, then you’re Not quite mentally prepared to discuss the Middle East intelligently.

On a similar note, you must remember that America is either completely controlled by Israel and does its bidding all the time, or is the puppet master using Israel as its tool in the Middle East, whichever is more convenient under the circumstances.

Regardless of which direction you follow, always close by nodding and saying ‘Obama is an idiot’. Everyone will agree with you.

6. ‘Ancient Tribal Rivalries’ (Especially valid in Yemen and Iraq?)

If all else fails, you can always resort to the ultimate trump card: ‘these are ancient tribal rivalries’, which can explain any conflict in the Middle East. Sunnis and Shias?

Ancient tribal rivalries. Saudi Arabia and Qatar? Ancient tribal rivalries. Fairouz or Um Kalthoum?  Ancient tribal rivalries.

Clearly, colonialism, Western interventions, political rivalries and ideological conflicts have nothing to do with anything happening in the Middle East today.

It’s all down to who stole whose camel centuries ago. Because the Middle East is that simple.

Lastly, remember not to attempt any nuance or complexity when using those phrases, that will completely ruin them.

When talking about the politics of the Middle East, it’s crucial to stick to one-dimensional clichés that everyone can agree on.

This guide will soon be available as a smartphone app in case you can’t remember all the phrases correctly

Understanding the Middle East with better clichés

Some people feel that western media coverage of the Middle East is dominated by too many clichés and stereotypes.

An emerging view now believes that there are actually too few rather than too many clichés, thereby making reporting less accurate.

This radical critique of what is really wrong with Western media coverage has already produced enlightening pieces that allow us to understand what exactly is happening in the Middle East far better than we have managed in the past.

Below is a sample of this revolutionary trend.

Karl reMarks in : Understanding the Middle East with better clichés. Feb. 27, 2015

In order to understand the Middle East and North Africa/the Arab World/The Near Muslim East one must begin with its centre of gravity and most populous nation, Egypt.
Following the general tumult that ensued from the Arab Spring/Arab Uprisings, Egypt is now ruled by the military strongman and former army leader Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.
Sisi, a bald Sunni Muslim secular leader came to power after overthrowing democratically-elected moderate Islamist Sunni (not-bald) Mohammed Morsi .

Sisi’s secular takeover was supported by hardcore Wahhabi Sunni Saudi Arabia and other moderate conservative Sunni Arab States. However it was opposed by the only other Wahhabi state, Qatar, a moderate conservative small country that employs conservative Islamist journalists in Arabic and left-wing, socially-aware journalists in English.
This is not a surprise because the charm of the Middle East stems from its contradictions.Now both Qatar and Saudi Arabia oppose the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, a secular Alawi leader from the minority offshoot Shia sect, but they disagree on which of the moderate Sunni Muslim rebels against him they should support in public and which of the extreme Sunni factions they should support in secret.Assad is in turn supported by conservative Shia Iran and the Lebanese Shia (not offshoot) militant group Hezbollah.

Conservative Shia Iran and uber-Conservative Sunni Saudi Arabia are locked in a fierce geopolitical struggle that some argue is the continuation of ancient sectarian divisions while others believe is more of a struggle over influence embellished with sectarian rivalries.

Despite their many disagreements, Saudi Arabia and Iran agree on conducting their rivalry through proxy regional wars instead of an all-out war, probably because it’s more fun this way.

Besides Syria, there are several other mutually-acceptable venues in which Saudi Arabia and Iran conduct their proxy wars, such as Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

Recently in Yemen the Houthis, who are members of yet another Shia offshoot group, took over the country, once again as a consequence of the general tumult that ensued from the Arab Spring.

Some say Iran was behind the Houthis’ move, partially to punish Saudi Arabia for allowing oil prices to drop.

In traditional Persian culture it’s considered an insult to allow the prices of commodities to drop below production cost, which explains Iran’s anger.

But it’s in Iraq where the struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia gets really complicated. The sudden rise of the Islamic State under the leadership of self-declared Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has taken everyone who wasn’t paying attention by surprise.

Baghdadi, a very Sunni Muslim extremist, although I wouldn’t say it to his face, has led his forces to occupy large parts of Iraq including the second-largest city, Mosul.

The rise of the Islamic State threatened Iran’s influence in Iraq, which should have pleased Saudi Arabia save for the fact that the new Caliphate is ideologically indisposed towards Saudi Arabia, which it sees as the epitome  of liberal values.

Everything is relative, as they say.

So Saudi Arabia is in the tricky position of having to balance its competing aims of weakening Iran but containing the existential threat posed by the Islamic State. There are no non-existential threats in the Middle East.

For its part, Iran has thrown its weight behind the Shia forces fighting the Islamic State in Iraq, although this has aligned it momentarily with its old foe, the United States.

But Iran is also full of contradictions as, despite being a theologically-governed Islamic State, it seems to be capable of taking pragmatic decisions in its regional policies.

Recent photographic evidence obtained by Western media outlets even suggests that Iranian women, who must wear Islamic clothes in public, actually wear bras under their clothes. They also watch television and laugh with their friends, much like people in the West sometimes do.

Western media clearly thought this was important to point out, so it must be so.

Another major Sunni player is Turkey, which is allied with Qatar against the Saudi-Egyptian axis.

Turkey is led by relatively moderate Sunni Muslim Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a suited non-bearded Islamist with latent Ottoman impulses.

Turkey opposed the removal of president Morsi in Egypt, not least because he was also a suited Islamist. Turkey’s position has been close to that of Qatar in Syria and Libya, where everyone has been competing for influence since Gaddafi’s fall. (Regional Middle Eastern powers are like the nightclub circle, they all want to be seen in the new place.)

The situation in Libya was complicated by the fact that there are no sectarian divisions in the country, which made things difficult for a while until Libyans decided to create random divisions.

(You can get a sense of this by reading any article on Libya and trying to understand who is against whom and why).

This greatly facilitated the involvement of external powers and made proxy wars much easier to wage. Although it is a bit unfair to Iran, which being Shia can’t find any allies in an exclusively Sunni Muslim country.

Oh look, this is almost one thousand words already and we don’t have time to wrap up all the loose strands neatly, so it’s best to end on a timeless-sounding platitude about the Middle East and how it will always be the same.

Perhaps even a quote from Khalil Gibran or Omar Khayyam, hinting at our sorrow about lost potential and showing how learned we are.

Fresh discovery: He is of Lebanese Origin your God

 Omar Sharif, Mika, Salma Hayek, Terrence Malick, Paul Anka, Shakira, the Mexican/Lebanese #1 world billionaire, the most educated minority in the USA…and many others are all international celebrities of Lebanese origin.
The Phoenician god El


But those big names are about to be eclipsed by the biggest personality of them all – God! According to the findings of a recent extensive investigation, God is also of Lebanese origin, a revelation that is bound to shock the world and increase the Lebanese people’s pride in their country.
Karl reMarks posted:

The investigation was carried out by the Lebanese Centre for the Discovery of Celebrities of Lebanese Origin, (LCDCLO), one of the most trusted organisations in the world in the field of tracing celebrities of Lebanese origin. The Beirut-based organisation employed a team of researchers over a period of five years and they were able to prove beyond doubt that God is indeed of Lebanese origin.

Although not much is known of God’s early days there were clues in religious texts to His background. For example the name of God in Phoenician is ‘El’ which is a Phoenician word and therefore a strong indication that He was Phoenician.

The Arabic name for God is ‘Allah’ which is part of the common Lebanese expression ‘inshallah’, hinting strongly at a connection between the two. Even in English, the word God sounds like the word God in the Lebanese dialect popular among teenagers in coastal cities.

Furthermore, historical research revealed that Eden is most likely to be the Lebanese town of Ehden, which explains why the townsfolk refer to God as one of them. The link is so strong that it is widely expected that famous Lebanese writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the influential book The Black Swan, would certainly endorse it. Taleb has emerged as a unique thinker in recent years and his authority is unparalleled.

The beautiful town of Ehden near the sky

On a less scientific level but no less authoritative, it is widely known that Lebanon has unmatched natural beauty, as if God wanted to give it that little bit extra to celebrate his place of origin. Lebanon’s scenic nature, mountains and sea are famed across the world, a fact that is proven by how many times it places on the top of polls to determine which countries are the most beautiful.

Another crucial piece of evidence is a bit of Lebanese folklore that is popular in traditional songs which goes ‘Lebanon is a piece of the sky’. Historians hired by the LCDCLO confirmed that this is proof of the connection between God and Lebanon, it has survived in the language for thousands of years as evidence of the connection between the Divine Being and his place of origin.

The Israeli lobby tried its best to discredit these important findings, arguing that in fact God clearly came from the land of Israel, as stated in the Bible which is the oldest monotheistic text. However a famous Lebanese poet refuted the Israeli claims and argued that since the mountains of Lebanon are the tallest in the region, they would have been God’s natural choice.

The news was met with massive celebrations in Lebanon, helping lift the gloomy mood in the country. Many people stated that they were not surprised because they always expected this to be the case, citing Lebanon’s divine beauty as clear proof.

Many said their desire to emigrate was primarily because they didn’t deserve to live in God’s own country.

The mood of celebration was slightly soured however by clashes among Lebanese of different factions as to what the real sect of God is. In certain parts of the country the clashes descended into armed skirmishes in which light weapons were used.

The upside however is only the real people of God could feel so passionately about Him.

Note: Adam and Eve lived in Heaven Lebanon. Even now, Lebanese cannot enjoy electricity, running water, institutions designed to serve the citizens, potable water, an elected parliament or able to elect a President to its Republic.

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Global South Launches ‘Best White Saviour’ Award

A great ironic piece

From Bono to Al Gore, there can be no doubt that white saviours are great.

And The Global South has done little to acknowledge the greatness of white people over the recent decades, claiming it was busy with the challenges of post-colonisation, nation-building and fending off hunger.
These are poor excuses however and a wide coalition of Global South governments, NGOs and ordinary people are now attempting to rectify this historic omission by launching the ‘Best White Saviour’ award this year.
Karl reMarks posted this Oct. 7, 2014The award will be similar to the Nobel Prize, which is normally handed to Distinguished White People or Non-threatening Brown People occasionally, but will be exclusively awarded to the great and the good among white people.The award will aim to celebrate white saviours’ celebration of their importance to the world and their contributions to the rest of us, and will come up with a modest financial prize and an ethically-sourced trophy in keeping with white saviour culture and high self-regard.

From white governments that prevent brown people from immigrating in order to preserve their connection with their homelands and protect them from being corrupted by Western lifestyle, to white environmentalists who want to shield brown people from the inconveniences of electricity, sanitation and cars, to white celebrities who will bravely talk with very little understanding about complex political questions, to white charities and NGOs that will speak on behalf of millions of brown people so they don’t have to go through the excruciating process of forming opinions… these and many more are huge contributions that white saviours continue to provide consistently yet the Global South has failed to recognise or reward them properly.

The ‘Best White Saviour’ is a timely attempt at putting things right.

The criteria for the award are diverse and extensive, focusing primarily on white saviours who are not afraid or reluctant to celebrate their own achievements, sometimes pre-emptively.

Ordinary white people who work as nurses and teachers and who might contribute to charity or volunteer to help others will be ineligible for the award, seeing as they go about this anonymously and without creating the much-needed buzz that is a cornerstone of the philosophy of ‘raising awareness’ which is quite important to white saviour culture for reasons we don’t quite understand, but who are we to judge.

Instead, the award will aim to celebrate big names in the white saviour community and reward their passion for self-glorification and making sure the media is aware of every little thing they do to help others, particularly photo-genically-destitute Global Southerners.

The award will also aim to consolidate the waves of spontaneous grovelling among a minority of trailblazers in the South towards white celebrities that ‘speak on their behalf’.

The feeling here is this has been done in a piecemeal way so far and it needs to be properly organised with a trophy and everything.

Some of the candidates being considered for the award in its crucial first year are Al Gore for his tireless campaigning for his own place in history, the European Union for its dedication to celebrating its benign and inoffensive values, Naomi Klein for being so right on all the time albeit in a patronizing manner, Jeffrey Sachs for his heroic attempt at disproving the theory that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and Russell Brand for being so sexy and compassionate.

Bono is being considered for a Lifetime Achievement Award for services to White Savioureness.

Images of Western people: No different than the rest of us?

We have all wondered how Western people look like in everyday situations, behind the veil of exoticism that surrounds their mysterious culture.

Photographer Adam Vaijan has spent years documenting everyday life in the West and the results are a startling mix of the magical and the ordinary.

A healthy dose of satire?

Karl reMarks posted this March 11, 2014

Unprecedented images of Western people looking just like you and me

Vaijan beautiful shots allow us to see beyond the wall of myth that surrounds Western people and their culture, revealing scenes that are touching in their normality and reminding us that they are just like us.
Mother and child in a supermarket. Many Western people shop in supermarkets, using trolleys.

Café. In their spare time, Westerners go to cafés just like us,
and drink coffee and tea.
Couple by the sea. Relationships between men and women are quite common
in the West. Many couples take walks in the park and along the coast,
occasionally sitting down to look at the waves.
Street life. Walking on the streets is common in the West,
there are shops, restaurants and cafés and people can see
merchandise in shopfronts.
At the hairdresser. When Western people’s hair grows, they need a haircut,
just like us. They go to get a haircut and often engage in conversations
with the hairdresser.
School. Education is as important for Westerners as it is for the rest of us,
pupils are taught in classes by professional teachers using blackboards and books.
The workplace. Much like us, Westerners work in offices and other places of employment.
Sadly, they also have to attend meetings and pretend they are interested.
Karl reMarks is a blog about Middle East politics and culture with a healthy dose of satire.

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Arab Spring preemptive history?

Funny piece: “Arab” political structure to go full cycle back to dictators and oligarchic system of governance no later than 2017? Actually it is taking place right now and the “Mass uprising” are supporting the potential new military dictators.

For example, Libya is experiencing a military coup claiming to disband the parliament that extended its term.

Egypt is about to elect its military Field Marshal Sisi to the presidency.

Tunisia managed to get over its unrest by adopting a constitution that didn’t mention Islam as the main source of civil laws and for equality in rights between the genders. The full cooperation of France and Algeria to block any infiltration of extremist jihadists from Libya and Mali into Tunisia bore fruit.

Karl reMarks posted this Feb. 10, 2014

A short, pre-emptive history of the Arab Spring

Most history books can be very tedious. They are also full of speculation and guesswork because they’re normally written many years after the fact.

Having lived through the ‘Arab Spring’, I decided to spare future generations the ordeal of figuring out what precisely happened between 2011 and 2017, which is the ‘Arab Spring’ officially ended.

To that end, I wrote this short, preemptive history that will render all future speculation about the subject entirely useless and leave future generations with more time on their hands to figure out what the point of Stonehenge was.

The Arab Spring was so called because it started in December (Isn’t December winter?).

But it’s a little-known fact that in Arabic it’s not called the Arab Spring, but ‘the so-called Arab Spring’. It is generally agreed that the Arab Spring started in Tunisia in December 2010, although some imaginative people date its beginning back to the ‘Beirut Spring’ of 2005, or the removal of Saddam Hussein by the Americans in 2003, or the invention of political metaphors by Thomas Friedman in 1983.

The Tunisian revolution ended with the swift departure of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who subsequently became known as ‘Ben Ali the Hasty’. Although that was kind of pointless because nobody talked about him anymore and a thus an excellent moniker was wasted which is a shame because history books are full of such monikers. Like Louis the Fat and Leopold the Passive Aggressive, but I digress.

A footnote: Ben Ali went to live in Saudi Arabia like many a dictator before him.

It remains a historical curiosity to this day why Saudi Arabia is so keen on hosting dictators (remember Idi Amin of Uganda?) but some analysts have pointed out to the fact that this is because old dictators are referred to as ‘dinosaurs’, so Saudi Arabia is trying to maintain its supply of fossil fuels for the future.

Eleven days after Ben Ali’s departure a revolution started in Egypt demanding President Hosni Mubarak step down.

The revolution was started by Egyptian SECULARISTS, which is an acronym made up of the names of the groups participating in the revolution, such as the Sixth of April Movement, the Eleventh of April Movement, The Tenth of April Movement and so on.

As the days passed, the Egyptian Army was torn between its loyalty to Mubarak and the Egyptian desire to break Tunisia’s record of 28 days for a dictator stepping down, so it stepped in and forced Mubarak to step down after 18 days, thus ensuring Egypt’s name in the record books.

Mubarak was given the choice between prison and exile in Saudi Arabia, so he chose prison.

Most historians agree that what happened next was quite complicated to get into, and it is generally agreed that it’s best to skip a few paragraphs to the election of Field Marshall and Most Manly Man Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to President of Egypt in 2014 where he stayed in power until 2032 or forever, whichever comes first.

It was Libya’s turn next, according to an ancient Arab system that is based on observing the movement of the stars for a while and then realizing the futility of that and deciding to revolt.

The Libyan people decided to topple Gaddafi, but Gaddafi said he wasn’t actually the leader and reminded everyone of that episode in Seinfeld when Kramer couldn’t be fired from his job because he wasn’t actually employed by the corporation.

At this point, the world held its breath because this was the first Arab revolt not directed against a Western-friendly regime, particularly if we ignore Tony Blair’s grovelling to Gaddafi and the CIA making use of his state of the art torture facilities.

I mean Gaddafi’s torture facilities, not Tony Blair’s, because Blair preferred to rent facilities when he needed them, in keeping with his Third Way political philosophy which highlighted the importance of public-private partnerships.

After observing the situation for a few months, the West lept into action and decided that it would be convenient to abandon Gaddafi and to try to look like the good guys.

Gaddafi was given the choice between exile in Saudi Arabia and death, so he chose death. Nobody knows exactly what happened next in Libya, but maybe if you’re reading this in the future you could tell us.

At this point president Assad II of Syria was smugly going around telling everyone that there will be no uprising in Syria because he was a Just and Good Ruler.

President Assad had succeeded his father, who was coincidentally also called Assad, and had continued his father’s tradition of providing free public services like education, health and torture. But the ungrateful Syrian people overlooked this generosity and decided to revolt.

Assad was given a choice between exile in Saudi Arabia and exile in Qatar, so he decided to fight back.

It is generally agreed that the Syrian revolution started with peaceful demonstrations against the government, but some people said that those demonstrations were actually filmed on special sets that were built for this purpose in Qatar.

However, some people argued that the people saying that the demonstrations were filmed on set in Qatar were themselves saying this on special sets built in Iran.

The people making those accusations were accused of making those statements on special sets built in Turkey.

This may help explain why Syria is known for its historic dramas which are filmed on set.

The US and its Western allies didn’t know how to react to the Syrian revolt, with opinions split between those who said Assad should step down and others who thought he should step aside.

This debate continued to plague American policy towards Syria, and President Obama decided to get around this by simultaneously arming and not arming the Syrian rebels, arguing that at least one of those policies will work.

The policy was so clever that President Obama was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2009. (3 years ahead of applying his genuine policy of woshy washy…)

And thus ends our comprehensive history of the Arab Spring.

If you’re reading this in the West or the Gulf, you’re probably missing the sections about Yemen and Bahrain but that’s only because they are inconvenient for American and Saudi leaders.

You can find out more by searching for the word ‘truth’ on the internet, an endeavor that would make you totally paranoid.

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March 2023

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