Arabia Deserta 
Middle East Focus

How Many Jackasses are Needed at One Wedding?..........

“According to the wedding-trend reporters at the Knot, donkeys at weddings are literal walking icebreakers, beasts that will lighten the burden of socializing. An Arizona company called Haul N Ass Productions has trained them to walk around, distributing beer from saddlebags. They also carry their own carrot snacks. For entirely donkey-themed nuptials, there’s the Donkey Sanctuary in England, which was registered as a wedding venue in 2013. Couples marry in a decorated stable. Two of the participating donkeys are named Mopsy and Zippo. Donkeys are.........."Speaking of which (and this is not a comment): a few years ago Arab media reported about a wedding in Damascus. During the celebrations, the bride decided to sing to her groom as they danced. Unfortunately she..........<< MORE >>

GCC Migration of Equus Asinus: Former Plain Donkeys become Leading Jackasses………

I don't know if there's already a designated creature, which holds the title of National Animal of Bahrain, but to my mind none would be more deserving than Equus asinus - the donkey. No other animal has toiled more for the people of Bahrain, nor contributed more to the country's prosperity than this humble creature. Before the widespread use of motor vehicles, donkeys were the main means of transport. Every village, and central Manama itself, was teeming with donkeys. They were used to transport sweet water and kerosene around the neighbourhoods; they took goods to and from the market place; they pulled the municipal rubbish carts; they collected fish from the seashore; and, before air transport, they were used to bring ashore passengers from boats during........."
It says here that Nubian asses were imported into Bahrain centuries ago, but that was probably on a small scale. I was told by sources in Bahrain and Kuwait that most donkeys of Bahrain seem to have migrated to the island with the Al-Khalifa clan. When the clan moved through Kuwait to Bahrain about a couple of centuries ago, suddenly the number of asses in Bahrain increased dramatically............<< MORE >>

Watermelon Countries: Al Sisi and Al Saud in a Partnership Made in Heaven……

“The Bahraini Arabic language newspaper al-Wasat reported on Wednesday Apr. 9 that a Cairo court began to consider a case brought by an Egyptian lawyer against Qatar accusing it of being soft on terrorism. The “terrorism” charge is of course a euphemism for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have designated a “terrorist” organisation and are vowed to dismantle. The two new partners and the UAE also loathe Qatar for hosting and funding Al-Jazeera satellite TV. The continued incarceration of the Al-Jazeera journalists and dozens of other journalists on trumped up charges is no coincidenc..........."
Counter-Revolutionary Egypt is now well on its way to becoming a certified Watermelon Country (ديرة بطيخ), as we say back home on the Gulf. As a (ديرة بطيخ), certified by the Secretary General of the Gulf GCC, himself a certified watermelon bureaucrat, it is qualified to apply for membership. But that can wait until Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi starts his..........<< MORE >>

Saudi King Sacks Prince Bandar Again: Yousef Who?.........

"Saudi Arabia has replaced intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the kingdom's pointman on the Syrian conflict, "at his own request", official news agency SPA announced Tuesday. In a royal decree, the powerful official was "exempted... from his position at his own request" and replaced by his deputy, Yousef al-Idrissi............"
So much for Bandar's much publicized return and what anonymous high officials claimed that he will resume work on his "Syria" portfolio. The anonymous officials almost certainly were Bandar partisans and allies. The old king and his palace minions had to act quickly, and sack him publicly ............ << MORE >>

Jordanian Jihadis: the Children of Zarqawi………

“Here in the hometown of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who gained infamy for his bloody reign as the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq during the early years of the American occupation there, the increasingly sectarian war in Syria has ignited militants, inspiring the largest jihadist mobilization the city has ever seen. Jordanian analysts and Islamists estimate that 800 to 1,200 Jordanians have gone to fight in Syria, more than double the number who fought in Afghanistan or Iraq. Though the fighters come from across the country, fully one-third hail..........."
Yes I recall Al Zarqawi and his brief reign of terrorism in Iraq. He and his imported foreign Arab Salafis. He was a proud son of some typical humorless hole of a town in Jordan, as long as he was busy killing and beheading the 'right' people in Iraq. But when the Salafi terrorists struck in Jordan, when they attacked a hotel and created many victims of the.........<< MORE >>

Iranian Pakistani Omani Hezbollah Naval Exercises, General Salami is no Baloney………

“Salami made the remarks after the Iranian and Omani naval forces staged their 4th joint exercises in the Sea of Oman and the Persian Gulf on Monday. He described the drills as successful, and said, "Based on a treaty between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Oman's navies,.........the Pakistani and Iranian navies have engaged in a four-day joint naval exercise east of the Straits of Hormuz this week in an effort to improve security cooperation between the two ........."
So said Admiral Salami, and that is no baloney. Iranian forces have been holding joint maneuvers with neighboring countries. No, not with Saudi Arabia or Bahrain. They have been holding joint exercises with Pakistan, and others with Oman, both not far from the Strait of Hormuz. It is notable that both countries...........the legendary secret Persian Gulf Branch of Hezbollah (established in Riyadh and Manama and the Washington Post columns) does not pose a serious threat to Oman......<< MORE >>

Is Prince Bandar Really Back? The Road from Morocco to Riyadh........

“Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan will return to the kingdom within days after spending around two months abroad for surgery and retake his position as intelligence chief, including control of the Syrian dossier, said Saudi security officials late Sunday. The Saudi officials said that during Prince Bandar's absence, Saudi Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef was put in charge of the Syrian file and of the intelligence agency. The three security officials said the 65 year-old prince was seeking medical attention in the U.S. and resting in Morocco after surgery on his shoulder. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. Bandar, who formerly served as Saudi ambassador to the U.S. for 22 years, has had special responsibility for the Levant for years, leading Saudi intelligence and strategic affairs in the region. Some analysts have speculated that Bandar has been the key figure trying to boost Saudi weapons..........."
Bandar is back, again! Is Bandar back in (from the cold)? That would make a good title for a Saudi film, except that there are no theaters to show it over there; verboten. This is another chapter in the saga of Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. He has become like a Saudi Jack in the Box, in and out, and back in. But all this is also part of the continuing Saudi turf war.........Something about Morocco and Saudi princes (or is it all Gulf potentates)? Older Saudi princes usually go there after serious surgery in the West, they go to Morocco to recuperate or die or both. Sometimes they recuperate before returning..........Here is a list of just a few of many posts on this topic:.........<< MORE >>

Tale of Two Wars: Syrian Civil War, Ukrainian Civil War, Russo-European War………

There is a civil war in Syria, no doubt aided and abetted by foreign powers. Arab despots, international Jihadis, Europeans, Americans, Russians, Iranians, Lebanese, and others are aiding and supplying and even fighting in that war..........There is a civil war in Ukraine now. A few weeks ago, the Western powers were supporting the rebels in Kiev, and calling the security forces of the elected (but probably as corrupt as any other Ukraine regime) government thugs, or something to that effect. The Russians were calling the protesters trouble..........Western leaders and media are calling the current (eastern) Ukraine rebels foreign (or Russian) agents. Yet they clearly have popular support in that region, even if they are attached to Moscow.........<< MORE >>

The Turkish-Jordanian Crescent of Jihad Across Syria……

“Turkey is not alone in supporting jihadis in the battles in Latakia's northern countryside. Recent information revealed the existence of an airbridge between Jordan and Turkey, transporting jihadis after they are trained on Jordan soil. Syria’s southern battlefront front has been moved to the north. Al-Akhbar received information suggesting an active and growing Jordanian role in the fight for Kasab and its surrounding territory. The information referred to an airbridge carrying hundreds of fighters from Marka airport in Amman to Antakya in the Iskenderun province in Turkey. According to........."
The Turkish ruling party had thought they would get a foothold in Syria. They have allowed weapons, fighters, and Salafi terrorists to cross their border to join the war in Syria. What they have got instead is that their borders are very insecure, and their ethnic and religious minorities are becoming bolder in demanding their rights. Turks themselves are divided over the Syrian intervention. Think Pakistan in the 1980s and 1990s..........<< MORE >>

Caught Between Russians, Jews, and Palestinians: Will John Kerry Lose His Sense of Humor?.........

“ZE’EV ELKIN, Israel’s 43-year-old deputy foreign minister, who emigrated from eastern Ukraine in 1990, chuckles about the rise of “Russians” into his country’s highest posts. The foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, hails from Moldova, once part of the Soviet Union. “Recently the ministers of tourism, absorption, diaspora affairs, the head of the Jewish agency—they’ve all been Russians,” jokes Mr Elkin. Most Russian-Israelis, he notes approvingly, are “right-wing”, meaning that they are hawks on Palestine. Mr Elkin openly opposes—under any circumstance, he breezily asserts—the stated desire of his prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, for a Palestinian........."
Secretary Kerry does not show much of a sense of humor in public; he has not shown much since Vietnam, at least not publicly. He may be about to lose whatever private ........Early in 2013, I posted about the impossible task facing Secretary Kerry. I titled the post Man of La Mancha: the Impossible Dream of John Kerry. I opined that the mission will fail, just like others before it failed. My prognosis has always been for failure of these peace talks, under Bush and under Obama, under Hillary Clinton and under Kerry. Mr. Kerry cannot be blamed...........<< MORE >>

From BC: Romance at the Calico Cupboard Old Town Cafe & Bakery, Romance at the Sheep and Goat Market………

Came back from a biking trip to BC (the other one, the BC del Norte) in which I almost broke my nose, again. Almost. On the way back south we stopped at a place near Mt. Vernon (in WA, PNW, not "the one" in Virginia). Oddly it is not too far from Arlington (WA, PNW, not Virginia). The place has the irresistible name of Calico Cafe. Its full name is even more irresistible: Calico Cupboard Old Town Cafe & Bakery. Someone had told me colleagues and acquaintances go there for a romantic time. I dunno:...........mentioning in passing that as far as romance is concerned it is equivalent to the Sheep and Goat Market back home on the (Persian) Gulf. I said it in Arabic (سوق الغنم), ..........<< MORE >>

Cultural Dichotomy: Destroying Islamic Monuments, Funding Ancient Roman Restoration……

"A training barracks used by Roman gladiators and the 2,000-year-old mausoleum of the Emperor Augustus could be restored with money from the Saudi royal family, in the latest effort by Italy to secure funding for its crumbling cultural heritage. In a deal brokered by Ignazio Marino, the mayor of Rome, the Saudi royals are to provide millions of euros to pay for the restoration of some of the capital's neglected monuments. The government in Riyadh has been presented with a dossier of nine historic sites to choose from, with greatest interest said to be in the Emperor........."
The princes have been eagerly destroying the remnants of early Islamic monuments. From the homes of the Prophet Mohammed and his sahaba (companions) to other famous monuments and graves. As I have often opined here, this has been a result of a combination of Wahhabi hatred of history and royal greed that seeks to expropriate and develop valuable land central zones of (especially) Mecca and also Madinah..........<< MORE >>

Syrian Jihadists Claim New WMD Use, Seymour Hersh and Chemical Caliph Erdogan……

“Syrian opposition activists again accused President Bashar al-Assad’s forces of using chemical weapons near the capital Damascus on Thursday, publishing the video of an apparently unconscious man lying on a bed and being treated by medics.......For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria’s neighbours, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups........"
This newest claim of WMD use was headlined in Alarabiya.net, the semi-official Saudi network last week. Alarabiya has been the favorite network to pass on opposition Jihadi claims of ..........Syrian "activists" be they in Syrian or Turkey or Riyadh or Paris, spread their claims through Alarabiya. Western media pick them up and make .........Mr. Obama seems to be not as convinced as the French or the British, for example, and........<< MORE >>

Warlord Gaga of Lebanon: Former War Criminal Seeking the Presidency……..

“Former Lebanon warlord Samir Geagea, a staunch opponent of Syria and the Shiite movement Hezbollah, will stand for the presidency in May, his Christian Lebanese Forces party said on Friday. Geagea, 61, was the only leader from the 1975-1990 civil war ever jailed, but was released under an amnesty in 2005 after Syria withdrew from Lebanon, ending 30 years of domination over its tiny neighbor. Syria ended its military and political dominance under popular Lebanese and international pressure, but it continues to exert significant influence..........."
In past years I had called this man Lord Gaga or Warlord Gaga in my posts. He is now a pillar of the March 14 pro-Saudi bloc. That movement, considered both pro-Western and pro-Salafi, includes the Hariri clan and the Gemayel Falange militias as well as a few others on the Lebanese right. I have written before on Samir G'ag'a (Warlord Gaga) and his role in the massacre of Palestinian refugees at Sabra and Shatila camps in 1982. There were other cases against him. Yet few hands remained clean in Lebanon during the civil war. Here is an excerpt from one of my earlier posts Sabra and Shatila:..........<< MORE >>

Gambia of Kunta Kinte: Yahya’s Choice between the Arab League and the GCC………

“Gambia’s president Yahya Jammeh has said he will soon discontinue the use of English as his country’s official language, describing it as “colonial legacy”. The plan appears to be to make a local language the country’s official one, but reports have also emerged suggesting Arabic will replace English. Speaking at the swearing-in ceremony of the country’s newly appointed Chief Justice, Jammeh — known for his anti-western rhetoric and policies.........."
I remember Gambia mainly as the ancestral home of Kunta Kinte and Alex Haley. Yahya ought to apply to the Arab League of Dunces, they would welcome him. Better yet, he should be told that the Saudi king has been looking for new members of the Gulf GCC, new blood, fresh meat, so to speak. The old king teased humorless Jordan and faraway Morocco for three years before finally breaking it off, old teaser that he is. He toyed with Egypt, sans the Muslim..........Remember the failed Russian Revolution of 1905 preceded the successful Russian Revolution(s) of 1917: the king may not know about that but he knows..........<< MORE >>

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