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25 January 2015


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There is no greater crime than being right........


Hmmm? When will we be able to read the whole book? This is interesting in connection to your fictional work.

So, no matter how much things change, on a basic human level they stay the same over time? But this no doubt may be a projection of one of my own core assumptions


The Saudis did not arrange for simultaneous translation? Or did they only offer you to do it in your own words after?



It was a surprise to me when there was not a translator but they wanted it that way. pl



Oh, yes, Jenkins never forgot that. pl


I remember reading your reports from Yemen, this was before I had met you. I always ended up laughing - they made my day! I definitely want to read your memoir.



Remember, the Saudis had called the meeting. It was their meeting, in the their Ministry of Defense. I was invited directly by them and directed by DIA Washington to attend. I was not there as a member of Jenkins' group although he would have loved to have that much control. I gave you this story to show how difficult and complex US/Saudi relations have been for a long time and this has not always been the fault of the Saudis who have had to contend with many Americans who were simply without comprehension of the country or the region. I am not a fan of SA. I think Wahhabism is a major cause of the unrest presently so evident in the ME and South Asia, but the truth is the truth. pl


Albayim, is Mardini a real name? If so, it terrifies me to think that I may be related to that guy three, or four generations previously. My birth mother's maiden name is Mardin, I always thought it was after the city of Mardin in southeastern Turkey, but a few years back an elderly uncle revealed to me that they all took up the last name Mardin because the Damascus branch of the family/tribe was actually prominent in Ottoman Damascus. And were actually called Mardinis, or the Mardini clan with many branches in Arab countries, including Turkey, where they lived. The great music producer Arif Mardin is actually from the urbanized Istanbul branch of the clan.

Just my bit of relating personally to your great story, like many others do in this post. I hope John La Carre is a fan of this site.


His name was Mardini. I had lived in Turkey and so asked him about the name. He said that the family was originally from Mardin. As you know there are many people in the Hijaz whose families came from somewhere else long ago. He was a very cosmopolitan man for a Saudi of that time. I suppose that is why he had the job that he did. pl

Charles I

well it puts you in a bit of a spot with your superiors, and no doubt induces all kinds of insecurities in the uni-lingual, which sounds like it could be good practice and sport to me.


Charles I

Jenkins was not in my chain of command. My chain of command supported me and insisted on sending me to SA as DATT while he still was there. Those were the days... pl

Babak Makkinejad

I think that the Wahabi understanding of Islam has become the de facto standard of Orthodox Islam among tens of millions of Sunni Muslims all over the world.

I think its adherents will seek to propagate and to otherwise impose it whenever and wherever they can.

I think Muslim Africa is another arena in which the Wahabi adherents are spreading and seeking to create their fantasy order.

I think the proverbial horse has left the proverbial barn - this fire cannot, in my opinion, be extinguished - it may still be possible to contain it in some places - such as Turkey.

The intellectual, moral, and religious basis for combating Wahbi doctrines, coupled to the rise of the masses and the emergence of mass politics among Sunni Muslims, does not exist.

This doctrine is also a threat to such states as India, Malaysia, Russia, and China - in addition to the European Union.


Is Wahabism really a major threat to Russia or China or the EU? Isn't it mainly just terrorism and minor political discontent among minorities they have to contend with (and are probably doing an OK job of it, all things considered?) It's economics that are the major threat to stable order in those areas, which allows political Islam to present itself as a viable alternative.

In contrast, Turkey, Egypt and Malaysia are threatened by political Islam. Malaysia is especially important, due its minorities, and the bizarre festering state in which the US prefers to keep its relationship. If the US is interested in "lines in the sand" anymore, ought it not be ensuring stable economic progress in those countries, to prevent extremism from rooting?

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the US spent a tenth of what it does on military adventures upon economic, health, industrial and educational engagement in these relatively stable, but threatened countries?

Wouldn't that be better than a stern lecture from John Kerry about Democracy and Liberal values?

ex-PFC Chuck

Just ask General Shinseki.


Albayim, Mardini clan was and is prominent also in Mardin. My Mom's and grandfather's branch is from Mardin proper, though my maternal grandfather, being an adventurer, had migrated to Izmir in early 1900s. He had not kept contact after that, my grandfather having committed some unforgivable disobeyance, I am sure, and has been sent away, and he had never talked about it.

Mardinis are very wealthy, and spread out and influential throughout Middle East even today.
I have no doubt that Syrian branch is on the side of Assad as that war goes on.

I believe Hijaz was very cosmopolitan and important during the Ottoman rule. I think it was the farthest point away from Istanbul connected by rail line.


dear sir,
definitely waiting for your full memoir.


re: Antar




"She took up her abode in the land of my enemies; so it became difficult for me to seek you, O daughter of Mahzam.

I was enamored of her unawares, at a time when I was killing her people, desiring her in marriage; but by your father's life I swear, this was not the time for desiring.

And verily you have occupied in my heart the place of the honored loved one, so do not think otherwise than this, that you are my beloved..." Antar bin Shaddad

robt willmann

Meanwhile, looking north of Saudi Arabia, around the day before yesterday, in Mariupol, Ukraine, there was some artillery / mortar shelling in which people were killed, and the separatists and the puppet government in Kiev each said the other one did it. However, there is a fascinating video supposedly made by a television reporter there which catches an obviously English-speaking, soldier-looking person, who is with two or three other similarly dressed guys. The first link is to the 41-second piece of the video; in the second link, it starts at about 2 minutes, 22 seconds into the video--



The man the reporter tries to talk to is wearing a baseball cap, camo clothes, and covers his face with his hand and says in English, "Out of my face. Out of my face, please." Where is he from? The northeastern U.S.? Canada? South Africa? He is not from Texas or the South. What is that equipment on his chest? Magpul devices for gun magazines?

The rifle he or one of the others has across his back looks in good shape. What is it? An AK47? Something else?

With whom are these guys associated? Are they U.S. military? Blackwater/ Xi/ Academi? Paid by the puppet Ukraine government or an oligarch? CIA?

There is so much disinformation being peddled these days, it is difficult to know whether a video is authentic, although this one appears to be.

Patrick Bahzad

Pat, these memoirs of yours could be seen as a distant echo, with 80 years time difference, to de Gaulle's account of his time in the Levant.
I'm pretty sure it would make up for an equally interesting read .. looking forward to hearing/reading more about it !



another excellent extract. This caught my attention:

"The notion that left wing guerrillas led by outright communists might defeat the Salih regime and arrive on Saudi Arabia’s southern border was understandably worrying."

One wonders what Riyadh makes of Zaydi guerrillas advised by Iran (allegedly) controlling Saudi Arabia's southern border.


Martin J

Well, those Zeidi tribal forces were there back then as well. North of Sadah there were less Zeidis and more and more Yam until you arrived at the ever moving border. Beyond that was the Asir in SA with its collection of fanatics. The Saudis were careful to pay the Zeidi sheikhs well. pl



Someome wrote me to accuse me of "clientitis" because I did not back the fighter jock general against the Saudis. That's funny. as Defense and Army Attschje in the US Embassy, I didn't work for anyone in either Yemen or later Saudi Arabia. I was rated by the three star general who was Director of DIA in Washington. I was an accredited US diplomat with the rank of "counselor of embassy" in both places. I never worked for the Yemenis or Saudis. The Military Mission that this two star headed were basically hired out to the Saudis and thought of themselves that way as did the Saudis. My primcipal job was to report on the true state of training and readiness of the Yemeni and Saudi armed forces a swell as Chinese and soviet activities in these countries. this American general bitterly resented that I kept de-bunking his exagerated reports of Saudi wonderfulness. does this sound familiar? An American air force general sucking up to the powers that be, could that be? Ah, well the army has lots of them as well. pl

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