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04 January 2016

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eakens

We had a policy of offshore balance with respect to Iraq (and Iran). We didn't seem to think too much about the 2nd step before we took the first step there, other than to say that Iran was the 2nd step but the failures in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon lead to a re-thinking of that.

And imo, KSA's erratic and dangerous behavior has done nothing but accelerate the desire to pivot, if that is in fact what the goal is.

ked

Heck of a way to run a kingdom.

Matthew

johnf: The FSA and anti-Assad Twitter-ites are really tugging the heart-strings today. See https://twitter.com/Mario_Greenly

A few months ago the message du jour was that TOW missiles were “harvesting” Assad’s tanks. The anti-regime elements seem to highlight civilian suffering after experiencing military setbacks.

Similarly, Saudi Arabia’s escalation seems to reflect full-scale panic from the anti-Assad, anti-Iran, and anti-Shia forces.

Do we dare to dream that the odious Saudi “royal” family could actually fall?


Bandolero

eakens

You're preaching to the converted. I'm all for going after the Sauds as they are the main source of wahhabi jihadi terror worldwide. See my recent comments in the other thread:

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2016/01/an-alternative-foreign-policy-bth.html#comment-6a00d8341c72e153ef01b8d18be2ed970c

That said, my point here was that I would see it already as a huge progress if the U.S. would stop protecting that scourge of humanity as an ally, and instead applied a policy of equal distance to all players in the region.

Well, maybe I'm all wrong and the U.S. did apply such a policy already, and what we're watching right now is just that they do not distrub the Sauds to dig their own grave. There are so many factors right now pointing that this is the perfect storm for the Sauds, like their disaster in Yemen, the Saudi-led Syrian quagmire, the oil glut, their ever more obvious contempt for human rights, the Pakisani switch of sides, the Iran nuke deal, etc, that I begin to suspect that these are no coincidents but a globally coordinated US-led strategy to bring down the Sauds.

I'm holding my breath.

Bandolero

oofda

Just pure speculation from my side, and I know many people will blame me for this, but absent other information and given his death date at nearly the end of the traditional Russian vodka rally (24.12.-6.1.), I'ld suspect alcohol to have played a role in that death.

Kooshy

Babak
Thank you for your reply, IMO, I don’t think sending/filing a letter of complaint to UN human right commission, where KSA is the chair, would have kept the hardliners away, IMO, that would have made a lot more problem for Rouhani, if he tried. I guess politics is a dirty balancing business.

James Doleman

Saudi v Iran in open war:

Who would we call as the probable winner of that one?

gemini33

The Intercept has a story about the Saudi PR and lobbying blitz in the US.
"After Executing Regime Critic, Saudi Arabia Fires Up American PR Machine"
https://theintercept.com/2016/01/04/saudi-pr-machine/

I have seen people on Twitter saying they're getting flooded w/ Saudi PR ads. One guy said he was even getting them on his football site yesterday.

I saw a pro-Saudi org journalist ranting about how Kerry should have flown to Saudi Arabia today and things about US foreign policy. She gets a lot of quality pushback from other journos. She later expresses alarm that Obama admin has had no "strategy to address regional tension" (also gets pushback o that & suggestions US can't fix internal KSA problem, that Obama/Kerry tried to get KSA to talk to Iran, etc) and that it's the "biggest crisis in relations since 1988" She says it's not just the Saudis -- UAE, Qatar, Turkey, Egypt and Israel "are all upset at Washington" and that now "regional leaders" have "gone rogue" and don't listen to Washington.

The conversation starts here.
"Why is Kerry not in Saudi. His unilateral focus on 1 issue: Peace process (2013-2014) ; Iran (2014-2015); Syria (now) is flaw 4 US diplomacy"
https://twitter.com/Joyce_Karam/status/684125765236060160


On the PR issue, she also posted a tweet about how on Arabic Twitter "King 'Salman the lion of Sunnis'" is trending.
https://twitter.com/Joyce_Karam/status/684113121284354048

Lastly, I thought this was really interesting too, from AFP:
"#BREAKING Saudi Arabia says break with Iran will have "no impact" on Syria, Yemen peace efforts"
https://twitter.com/AFP/status/684165874132062208

readerOfTeaLeaves

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2016-01-05/obama-s-middle-east-balancing-act-tilts-toward-iran

Change seems to be afoot.
I shudder to think how screechy the US Presidential candidates will become on this general topic.

Kooshy

"Saudi Arabia Cuts European Oil Prices as Middle East Tensions Grow
Move comes as Iran expected to return to oil markets later in year"

http://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-arabia-cuts-european-oil-prices-as-middle-east-tensions-grow-1452005611

Origin

North Dakota and Canadian tar sands interests.

Babak Makkinejad

LeaNder:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/06/world/europe/coordinated-attacks-on-women-in-cologne-were-unprecedented-germany-says.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

Is this true?

Can you shed some light on this?

Matthew

Kooshy: Your moment of levity. See https://twitter.com/EliLake/status/684169812176695297

Matthew

Gemini33: Why are the Saudis freaking out? Some clues? See https://twitter.com/Charles_Lister/status/684432077106868226

Some background. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahrar_ash-Sham

I knew there was a reason why we have been bombarded by photos of starving civilians in Syria. (BTW, notice that the rebels never offer to leave town so the government can supply food, but that's the cynic in me talking.)

Kooshy

Matthew

Levity is an understatement, this stuff is ideal for a good standup act.

confusedponderer

Babak,
living in Cologne myself I can comment:

It is true. Culprits were a large group of 'heavily drunk' young men of reportedly north african descent (Libya, by any chance?) who had previously fired fireworks into the crowds and at police at the main railway station, causing several injuries and burns. By and large police was unprepared for riots.

A handful were arrested. Indications suggest at least some were members of a known north african gang active in the old town and around the railway station for about two years engaging in theft and robbery. They grabbed the women, harassed them sexually, insulted them, stole their money and phones. There was one intstance, at least, ot rape.

According to the local tabloid Express some of the arrested apparently showed documentation suggested they had asylum requests pending. This may well be untrue.

A similar incident was reported from Hamburgs Reeperbahn with harassed women seeking shelter of all places and persons, from the bouncers of the bordellos.

I fear for the worst for carnival.

http://www.bild.de/regional/hamburg/sexuelle-belaestigung/auf-der-reeperbahn-44017940.bild.html

http://www.focus.de/politik/deutschland/silvester-mob-in-koeln-heiko-maas-neue-dimension-organisierter-kriminalitaet_id_5191151.html

Stuff like that is unheard of here and a new dimension in crime. This is be water on the mills of the folks like Pegida, and honestly, in this case, who could blame them to object. It's a disgrace.

It will likely make Germans less receptive to taking refugees, and again, who could blame them to object.

There will be pressure to look closer at what cuties were already have and ask the question if we really need more of that sort. Authorities have announced they intend to crack down. We'll see. In any event, for the women too little, too late.

different clue

Matthew,

If you dare to dream about the Saudi family falling, you should also dream about what would take its place. What we have learned after Libya, Egypt almost, Iraq, is that no matter how odious what falls ( or almost falls), its successors have been even more odious and dangerous.

Might it be better to dream of the Saudi family remaining in control, but driven into semi poverty by the terminal obsoleting of oil as an energy source, and its permanent removal from the energy portfolios of the world?

different clue

confusedponderer,

Could the lawbreakers in this affair all be rounded up and deported back to Libya?

confusedponderer

Nope, at least, not so easily, the police has difficulties identifying individual members of the mob despite CCTV. Also, they are entitled to due process despite being pond scum.

For all I care they could be hung at the next bridge.

confusedponderer

And that said, yes: Generally, having comitted a criminal act, they can be deported, having forfeited their right to stay. This needs to be proven.

In principle, persons who pose a threat to public safety and order can be deported, if it is justified in the special, individual case. That is not an easy case to make.

Deportations are rough, messy business. And assessing justifying circumstances of the individual case is prone to errors. What is generally lacking is the political will to apply the law to the fullest. The bureaucracies tasked with these jobs are overworked and understaffed, etc pp.

We have so much due process that we may just end up paralysing ourselves for practical purposes when overwhelmed by a very large number of cases.

bell

definitely not the planet either way..

The Beaver

@ gemini33

Karam from A-Hayat which is owned by a former deputy minister of defense and a member of House of Saud.

Yep she knows where her bread and butter is coming from

confusedponderer

It now emerges slowly that this appears to have been a coordinated crime wave, with aditional incidents reported from Stuttgart and Bielefeld.

http://www.focus.de/regional/bielefeld/in-der-silvesternacht-ploetzlich-war-ich-gefangen-auch-frauen-in-bielefeld-sexuell-bedraengt_id_5192769.html

It appears that the group uses a criminal tactic called 'antanzen' that is being used by north african gangs. The tactic involves the culprits getting into close physical contact with the victim to stress and distract it to rob or steal. Add to that tactic and plenty of alcohole to criminal jerks and you get sexual molestation.

Here is where it gets almost as interesting: These stories have been held back. It is now January 6, the incidents took place on Sylvester evening. It's been almost a week.

http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/gesellschaft/koeln-uebergriffe-an-silvester-zdf-raeumt-klare-fehleinschaetzung-ein-a-1070656.html

The media, in particular the public ZDF, engage rather obviously in something like politically correct self censorship.

They are almost palpably reluctant and undeasy to report things that shed a negative light on foreigners and contradict the desired narrative, the desired narrative being along the following lines:

We are the good guys. Foreigners are good. Hostility towards foreigners is bad. Thus, we are demonstratively pushing the positive and supress the bad about foreigners, lest we help those nasty rightists like Pegida and AfD, since Pegida and AfD are bad.

What they fail in doing so is to objectively and dispassionately report facts. There will be a backlash for that.

And then there is the whole annoying pandering about the issue.

Here my candidate for biggest asshole of the day is the head of a German Islamic interest group DITIB, who asks piously why everybody speaks of these 'North Africans' - wasn't it all chaotic? - suggesting that it may all be made up to discredit Muslims, adding that Islam after all prohibits alcohole and sexual transgressions (and since North-Africans are overwhelmingly Muslims ...). What a sanctimonious prick.

My clear candidate for the drooling moron of the day is our Oberbürgermeisterin Reker who, seriously, announced a 'code of conduct for women', which advises women to keep foreigners at arms length. Yes, that is just what is needed ... anybody but her would have expected something about what she plans to do about it, after all, what is called for now is an adequate response to these crimes.

Bandolero

CP

Many of the mass media, especially the state media, seem still indulged in "politically correct" self-censorship. What I didn't even find mentioned in no state television is the obvious similarity between what happened in Cologne with involvement of crowds of North African arabic men and reports from Tahrir square in Cairo.

Australia News states this similarity between Cologne and Tahrir Square openly, quote:

The attacks are reminiscent of the assault on 60 Minutes journalist Lara Logan, who was on assignment in Egypt 2011 when she was brutally sexually assaulted by a group of up to 300 men who surrounded her as she prepared a live report from Tahrir Square.

Source:

http://www.news.com.au/world/europe/cologne-police-chief-condemns-sex-assaults-on-new-years-eve/news-story/8bcb3bd23a3658503c849971af9f0c1d

I don't know why the German state media still suppress reporting this obvious similarity, but I suspect it may be because it would go against one more "politically correct" dominant narrative: that of the all fine "arab spring."

William R. Cumming

What exactly were the links of the executed IMAM to Iran? I understand he was a KSA citizen and resident but a Shia! Is this correct?

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