Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘kuwait

The US friends: the Saudis funding Mass Murder in the Middle East

Donors in Saudi Arabia have notoriously played a pivotal role in creating and maintaining Sunni jihadist groups over the past 30 years. Donors in Kuwait are as generous for these extremist factions.

But, for all the supposed determination of the United States and its allies since 9/11 to fight “the war on terror“, they have showed astonishing restraint when it comes to pressuring Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies to turn off the financial tap that keeps the jihadists in business.

PATRICK COCKBURN published this Sunday 8 December 8, 2013 in The Independent:

Mass murder in the Middle East is funded by our friends the Saudis

World View: Everyone knows where al-Qa’ida gets its money, but while the violence is sectarian, the West does nothing. (In addition to Saudi Arabia donors, who else funds al Qaeda? Do governments fund al Qaeda? In which ways the CIA support al Qaeda?)

Compare two US pronouncements stressing the significance of these donations and basing their conclusions on the best intelligence available to the US government.

The first is in the 9/11 Commission Report which found that Osama bin Laden did not fund al-Qa’ida because from 1994 he had little money of his own but relied on his ties to wealthy Saudi individuals established during the Afghan war in the 1980s. Quoting, among other sources, a CIA analytic report dated 14 November 2002, the commission concluded that “al-Qa’ida appears to have relied on a core group of financial facilitators who raised money from a variety of donors and other fund-raisers primarily in the Gulf countries and particularly in Saudi Arabia”.

Seven years pass after the CIA report was written during which the US invades Iraq fighting, among others, the newly established Iraq franchise of al-Qa’ida, and becomes engaged in a bloody war in Afghanistan with the resurgent Taliban. American drones are fired at supposed al-Qa’ida-linked targets located everywhere from Waziristan in north-west Pakistan to the hill villages of Yemen.

During this time, Washington can manage no more than a few gentle reproofs to Saudi Arabia on its promotion of fanatical and sectarian Sunni militancy outside its own borders.

Evidence for this is a fascinating telegram on “terrorist finance” from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to US embassies, dated 30 December 2009 and released by WikiLeaks the following year.

Hillary Clinton says firmly that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide”.

Eight years after 9/11, when 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, Mrs Clinton reiterates in the same message that “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support for al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan] and other terrorist groups”.

Saudi Arabia was most important in sustaining these groups, but it was not quite alone since “al-Qa’ida and other groups continue to exploit Kuwait both as a source of funds and as a key transit point“.

Why did the US and its European allies treat Saudi Arabia with such restraint when the kingdom was so central to al-Qa’ida and other even more sectarian Sunni jihadist organisations?

An obvious explanation is that the US, Britain and others did not want to offend a close ally and that the Saudi royal family had judiciously used its money to buy its way into the international ruling class.

Unconvincing attempts were made to link Iran and Iraq to al-Qa’ida when the real culprits were in plain sight.

But there is another compelling reason why the Western powers have been so laggard in denouncing Saudi Arabia and the Sunni rulers of the Gulf for spreading bigotry and religious hate.

Al-Qa’ida members or al-Qa’ida-influenced groups have always held two very different views about who is their main opponent.

For Osama bin Laden the chief enemy was the Americans, but for the great majority of Sunni jihadists, including the al-Qa’ida franchises in Iraq and Syria, the target is the Shia.

It is the Shia who have been dying in their thousands in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and even in countries where there are few of them to kill, such as Egypt. (Not convincing assertion: More sunnis than shia were the target of these Islamic factions, except maybe in Iraq due to car bombs)

Pakistani papers no longer pay much attention to hundreds of Shia butchered from Quetta to Lahore.

In Iraq, most of the 7,000 or more people killed this year are Shia civilians killed by the bombs of al-Qa’ida in Iraq, part of an umbrella organisation called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), which also encompasses Syria.

In overwhelmingly Sunni Libya, militants in the eastern town of Derna killed an Iraqi professor who admitted on video to being a Shia before being executed by his captors.

Suppose a hundredth part of this merciless onslaught had been directed against Western targets rather than against Shia Muslims, would the Americans and the British be so accommodating to the Saudis, Kuwaitis and Emiratis?

It is this that gives a sense of phoniness to boasts by the vastly expanded security bureaucracies in Washington and London about their success in combating terror justifying vast budgets for themselves and restricted civil liberties for everybody else.

All the drones in the world fired into Pashtun villages in Pakistan or their counterparts in Yemen or Somalia are not going to make much difference if the Sunni jihadists in Iraq and Syria ever decide – as Osama bin Laden did before them – that their main enemies are to be found not among the Shia but in the United States and Britain.

Instead of the fumbling amateur efforts of the shoe and underpants bombers, security services would have to face jihadist movements in Iraq, Syria and Libya fielding hundreds of bomb-makers and suicide bombers.

Only gradually this year, videos from Syria of non-Sunnis being decapitated for sectarian motives alone have begun to shake the basic indifference of the Western powers to Sunni jihadism so long as it is not directed against themselves. (The decapitated are mostly sunnis of different factions)

Saudi Arabia as a government for a long time took a back seat to Qatar in funding rebels in Syria, and it is only since this summer that they have taken over the file. They wish to marginalise the al-Qa’ida franchisees such as Isil and the al-Nusra Front while buying up and arming enough Sunni war-bands to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

The directors of Saudi policy in Syria – the Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, the head of the Saudi intelligence agency Prince Bandar bin Sultan and the Deputy Defence Minister Prince Salman bin Sultan – plan to spend billions raising a militant Sunni army some 40,000 to 50,000 strong.

Already local warlords are uniting to share in Saudi largess for which their enthusiasm is probably greater than their willingness to fight.

The Saudi initiative is partly fueled by rage in Riyadh at President Obama’s decision not to go to war with Syria after Assad used chemical weapons on 21 August.

Nothing but an all-out air attack by the US similar to that of Nato in Libya in 2011 would overthrow Assad, so the US has essentially decided he will stay for the moment.

Saudi anger has been further exacerbated by the successful US-led negotiations on an interim deal with Iran over its nuclear programme.

By stepping out of the shadows in Syria, the Saudis are probably making a mistake.

Their money will only buy them so much. The artificial unity of rebel groups with their hands out for Saudi money is not going to last. They will be discredited in the eyes of more fanatical jihadis as well as Syrians in general as pawns of Saudi and other intelligence services.

A divided opposition will be even more fragmented: Jordan may accommodate the Saudis and a multitude of foreign intelligence services, but it will not want to be the rallying point for an anti-Assad army.

The Saudi plan looks doomed from the start, though it could get a lot more Syrians killed before it fails.

Yazid Sayegh of the Carnegie Middle East Centre highlights succinctly the risks involved in the venture: “Saudi Arabia could find itself replicating its experience in Afghanistan, where it built up disparate mujahedin groups that lacked a unifying political framework. The forces were left unable to govern Kabul once they took it, paving the way for the Taliban to take over. Al-Qa’ida followed, and the blowback subsequently reached Saudi Arabia.”

Riding in Domino’s Pizza delivery cab in Kuwait

Posted by Jean El Hakim on FB:

“An adventure in Kuwait!

Apparently during Ramadan in Kuwait, finding a cab at 11 pm is kinda mission impossible…

I had a business meeting 2 nights ago from 10-11 pm at a coop in Kuwait… for those who have been to Kuwait, they know that in each district there is a medium size supermarket that also usually has a coffee shop, McDonalds, Domino’s Pizza, etc…

So after I was done with the meeting, I went outside the Coop and waited for around 30 minutes in the 45 degrees desert dry heat… I couldn’t find a cab and my driver is on leave during Ramadan…

I asked a lot of people and begged for help for a lift… I had no other choice than to go in Domino’s Pizza and ask the guy behind the counter if they deliver to my hotel pizza… The guy said yes sir ma’m but only if the request comes through their call Centre…

I grabbed my phone and called their bloody call center, ordered some pizza and waited… The staff were looking at me like they are not getting it…

The moment they shouted to the delivery guy “ORDER JOHN MARRIOTT HOTEL READY” I followed the delivery guy and went into the front seat next to him… a nice Egyptian guy… He was shocked…

The delivery man was quiet for a minute and then asked me what am I doing… I said: isn’t this pizza for John to be delivered to the Marriott hotel? He said yes. So I took my ID and said: I am John and this Pizza is mine so can we move please.

He was again quiet for couple of minutes… and said: Are you Lebanese? I said yes. He said: “You people are weird!”

We just both laughed for a good 10 minutes until I reached the hotel, gave him a good tip, and went back to my room with a pizza.

Traditional Wedding in Kuwait of the 40’s (June 13, 2009)

It is ancient Kuwait City, around 1945.  Kuwait was a fishing coast; contraband activities were the life line; and divers extracted pearls.

Desert storms chased inhabitant in their mud houses; a long sort of minaret at the center of houses with holes absorbed the hot sandy air and sent fresh cool air to the underground chambers.

It barely rain in this region of the Arabic/Persian Gulf, at most 15 mm of rain.  The residences are built around a square large cistern; rain is directed toward a large cloth extended over the cistern that filters rain water off the sand.

It is said that when the tiny Sabbah tribe settled in this region, already two larger tribes were in constant fighting. The two big tribes settled their differences by agreeing that the leader of the Sabbah tribe plays the impartial judge.

This is the marriage transaction for young Ibrahim who never saw his bride.  His bride Mariam is not a cousin and thus Ibrahim did not see her as a child before girls wear the veil before the age of 14.

A specialized marrying lady (for commission) recommended Mariam to Ibrahim’s mother.

Mariam made sure to escape so that the visiting woman does not see her and scrutinize her from head to toe and thus would have no indications on the suitability of Mariam to her son.

The obstinate mother finally saw Mariam and gave her acknowledgment for the transaction to proceed.   Ibrahim’s father got to work; he gathered intelligence on the bride’s family social and financial status. The financial deal between the two fathers set the marriage in motion.

The two families gathered to arrange the date of the wedding and the delivery of the “adaza” or trousseau.  Weding dates are in general on Thursday evenings.  The women of Ibrahim’s family and their neighbors march to the bride’s house singing and banging on tambourine.

The marching women were bringing the cloths, winter and summer attires, blankets, two “abayas”, and carried by a woman over her head. Among the offering is a purse with liquid money.

Fruits, cakes, all kinds of coffee and sugary tasty bits were served.  Then the women examine every piece of garment, except the purse that went straight to the bosom of the mother-in-law.  Ibrahim’s mother was not to attend this part of the ceremony by tradition.

One week after the presentation of the “adaza” the two fathers met to decide on the wedding date.

A few days before the wedding the two father gathered in the mosque to register the marriage in front of the religious “sheikh”; this is the official contract.

In Islam, the bride is to participate in writing the terms of the contract but since they are married young and are practically illiterate, then tradition usurped the brides’ rights.

The evening of the wedding the parent’s of the bride and their neighborhood arrived to the groom’s house and they were assembled in the “diwania”, the spacious formal meeting place of men in a house.

Ibrahim’s father was to attend the fifth and last prayer in the mosque.  The women walked to the bride’s house to bring Mariam chanting “youyou”.  Strong women carried the mattress and the pillows destined for the couple.

The men arrived sprayed with rose water by the masses and perfumed with the smoke of sandalwood.  Ibrahim and his father walked in front.  Ibrahim was left alone among the women waiting for the bride.  Five young girls carried the chair mounted by Mariam who was completely covered; women were sending their benedictions.

This part of the ceremony also Ibrahim’s mother was not supposed to attend.

The new couple was left alone. Ibrahim removed the cover off Mariam.  Mariam was scared and terribly shy.

Before the wedding, an old woman instructed Mariam on the secrets of intercourse and she was to remain close to Mariam for another week after the wedding.  During the first night women kept up the chanting and crying, supposedly to cover up the screaming of the bride.

In the morning, Ibrahim is to leave the tenth of the agreed upon sum under the bride pillow; the mother-in-law knew where to retrieve this sum.  Early in the morning, Ibrahim is to return to his father’s home and leave his wife sleeping, only to return by night fall; this procedure is to last three days.

On the third evening, Ibrahim’s mother and her women friends were to visit with the bride.  The bride was sitting on a throne, in a corner, so that all women could contemplate her at leisure. Mariam was covered with jewelry and looking-like an idol.

A week later, the parents of the mother-in-law were to escort Mariam to her new residence.

The mother-in-law was denied to share in this part of the ceremony; she was to be invited three days later with the utmost fast.

For an entire week Mariam was to sit still covered with heavy jewelries; some jewelry were borrowed for this week to weight on Mariam’s head.  Mariam fainted on the last day.

In general, the bride undergoes thorough epilating process. Both genders are washed and their hair, palm and feet dyed with “henne”.  Henne was used by mariners and fishermen to toughen the skin of their hands and feet.

Black “khol” was smeared around the eyes to detract mosquitoes and flies off the eyes.

It is 1968. Ibrahim gained several inches in rotundity.

Mariam is skinny, supple, elegant, and gorgeous. The couple has seven kids.

Ibrahim is contemplating to marry again under the pretence of needing more boys.  Mariam is not rebelling but Ibrahim is receiving signs of her refusal.  Ibrahim could marry again if he wishes but it is a very costly project: Ibrahim would have to build an extension to the house for the new wife and pay an enormous sum for the family of the new wife and the wife too.

The first war on Iraq

I was finishing my PhD program at the University of Oklahoma at Norman when Bush Sr. declared war on Iraq. The USA lead a war on Iraq in 1991 with a vast network of alliance. Saddam Hussein of Iraq mindlessly invaded Kuwait because Kuwait demanded its loans to be repaid after the armistice with Khomeini of Iran.  The savage war of Iraq against Iran, instigated by the US, France, and Saudi Arabia, lasted 8 years and cost over one million casualties on both sides; both States were ravaged and bleeding economically.  The Arab Golf States funded Iraq’s war and the US and France provided the military supplies.

I sent ten articles to the Oklahoma University Daily (the student daily) and only two were published after my persistent visits to the daily.  At the time I wanted to learn writing newspaper articles professionally and getting familiar with the publishing business. I thus had volunteered work at the university daily.  The work room in the Oklahoma Daily started to recognize me as I entered to pressure for my rights to be published.  The excuse was that there were hundreds of articles demanding attention, but it was not true: The mood was to totally support the US policies and no deviant opinions were to disseminated. I didn’t support Saddam’s invasion but I had a distinctive position on how the war was managed and carried out.

Dr. Foote, one of my advisor, complimented my article on the Palestinian plights: all the Palestinians residing in Kuwait and who were well established there for many years were kicked out of Kuwait; simply because Yasser Arafat was forced to taking position with the dictator Saddam.  Dr. Foote didn’t like my second published article where I lambasted the US forces to turning the Arab/Persian Gulf to a mazout lake; Saddam had ordered all the oil wells in Kuwait burned and the refineries were pouring oil in the gulf as the Iraqi troops withdrew.

My advisor Dr. Purswell was confident that Saddam had no chance of winning this war because of the terrible imbalance in war equipments and technology; Bush Senior had managed to put together a wide alliance against the nitwit Saddam Hussein.   Even Syria was part of the contingent; in return Hafez Assad of Syria got sole mandate in Lebanon for over 15 years.  It was a lousy time for political activities on campus; the Iranian students who had frequently marched and demonstrated against the Shah had vanished from the campus after the Khomeini take over of power.

The mood was to getting a job because the US was experiencing a recession and joblessness was increasing.  The climate was to be quiet but I managed to organize a couple of demonstrations within campus.

Frontiers: costly illusions in lives and economy (December 12, 2008)

The World is divided by 250,000 kms of frontiers among the recognized States.

Since 1991, more than 26,000 kms of new international frontiers have been instituted; a total of 42,000 kms have been delimited by makeshift barriers, electronic fences and the like.

Almost all wars had frontiers as excuses,  when in fact the causes were basically cultural myths and expansionist policies.

Thousands of frontiers are imaginary lines drawn in deserts (in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere) by the colonial powers of the last century and these colonial powers expect the newly created under-developed States will monitor thousands of imaginary lines.

There are many hot spots in the World using frontiers as excuses; this is an interesting topic for another article.

There are tiny and stupid States that invested billions of dollars to set up fictive barriers on the sand.  For examples:

Kuwait had spent $30 billion for 217 kms barriers over sand with Iraq.

Saudi Arabia spent over $100 billions on barriers over sand to delimit frontiers with Iraq.

The stupidest barrier (over 8 meter high and 800 km long) ever erected is built by the State of Israel to separate the Jews from the Palestinians.

The Ashkenazi Jews (Jews who immigrated from Central and Eastern Europe) are the ones who came with the idea during Sharon tenure.  The Ashkenazi Jews lived in ghettos in Europe and their psychic feels comfortable in a ghetto setting  They don’t care for open horizons or open skies; they need claustrophobic enclosures.

I ask the Sephardic Jews (Jews who emigrated from the Middle East and North African States) to tear down that wall of shame; I tell them “you are not from the same breed or same culture of the warp minded Ashkenazi”.   

The thinker and philosopher Bertrand Russell stated morosely “Peace will return when Earth would be incapable of feeding life




June 2023

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