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30 August 2019


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William R. Cumming


Muzaffar Ali


The last comment by Gen. FB Ali is a masterpiece and worth repeating here:

"The Saudis can undoubtedly have the best technology in the world. They can hire/rent the best talent in the world. The one thing they don't have is a lot of smart, savvy, hardworking young Saudis who can move the kingdom forward.

This is their Achilles heel."


IMO, Is not that there is none available or possible, the reason is, that the kingdom is exactly afraid of young smart savvy Saudis (arabs) and is not allowing them.

Abu Sinan

General Ali was spot on. The Saudis, in general do not have a tradition of hardwork. The work ethic is something that has been missing in KSA for the last 4-5 decades, a fact much lamented by Saudis I know living and working in the US. As for the state of the art hardware, much of it is sitting unused in warehouses all over the country. It was never bought with the intention of using it, they never had enough men trained how to use it, it was meant to spend lavish amounts of money in the US and UK to better project power and influence on our lawmakers and in our defence sectors. That is one thing they have done well along with their teams of very expensive western PR firms.

That, like many other things, is slowly changing. Lawmakers both here in the US and UK are starting to voice their opinions. At a recent conference I attended in London we had four MPs speaking on the issue and we now see multiple Congressman willing to stand up, even in small way, against Saudi crimes in Yemen.

Abu Sinan

By the way Colonel, in our visits to the Hill, State Department and trips abroad I regularly suggest your blog as a place where interested people can find very informed and knowledgeable people talking about events in the Middle East. I also use a couple of quotes from your blog concerning the role of Iran in Yemen. I think your opinions carry a gravitas that we cannot match. Thank you.

The Beaver

What are the Brits think they are doing?

This is not Aden anymore


Sorry for OT, I hope someone can explain who are "the people of color" that we start to hear more often, does the term includes the white color people, green Martians, and the colorless people of all colors? What's wrong with calling them black, white etc.


It's politically correct speech, as defined by what passes for the liberal intelligentsia. Then there are the professional rights activists who proselytize about the naming of groups of people (I am not a fan of any sort of evangelism, but political evangelism is esp. irritating).

Can't recall the book at the moment, but a researcher asked some Native Americans how they preferred to be referred to. He was quite shocked when most of them preferred being called Indians (like so many liberals were shocked that the great majority of Indians were OK with the Washington Redskins, etc). A couple of years ago I asked my sister-in-law whether she preferred "African American" or "Black." She prefers "Black."

The MSM seems to believe it's their job to proselytize about proper speech... perhaps because the reporters/editors,etc are true believers and don't notice they are doing it. Or maybe they are afraid of the liberal political correctness police and professional activists who shriek so loudly at the slightest provocation. Or maybe both. But like any societal trend it triggers backlash. The alt-right is one example of that. But I think it will take an anti-political correctness trend from within the so-called left for there to be any progress on this "religious" issue. So far that seems to be limited to some comedians complaining about the PC college circuit, and refusing to do gigs are colleges.

Babak Makkinejad

Not to worry; I am a Person of Color - I am Beige.

Some in my extended family verge of rather "Dark Beige" and some on "Light Beige".

However, NAACP never knocked at my proverbial door to include me.

Babak Makkinejad

I think small such gestures are a bit too little and far too late.

Saudi Arabia and Israel succeeded in neutralizing the potential of JCPOA to become a Peace Treaty and still-born it into a rickety Cease Fire deal that almost certainly decay and die before its expiration date.

No surprises in any of that; Machiavelli would have been proud.

Chris Chuba

Col. in the U.S. we have this fixation on the idea of an honest broker.

Having read your presentation on M.E. culture where they typically view deals as having a winner and a loser, could the U.S. play a useful role by negotiating a graceful retreat for the Saudis?

Here we aren't trying to be fair, just reduce the KSA's sense of loss, so the need for an honest broker isn't needed. I don't know specific terms, perhaps have them disguise reparations as aid, arrange some security guarantees for them, etc. I am certain there are better ideas. I am more talking about how to approach this problem.

I can just picture some Neocon blustering ... 'never have our friends been so afraid and our enemies so emboldened' to make things worse. At the other end of the spectrum, there is nothing to be gained by humiliating the Saudis since they do have the resources to drag this on and inflict more suffering.


Col. Lang and others,
A friend sent me this. He has worked in the Gulf for about 30 years with 20 of them in the KSA.I trust his on-the-ground take.

"Lang was spot on in April and he's even more accurate today. It's no use having precision weaponry if you don't have precision pilots. Evil though they may be, I believe the House of Saud has no wish to harm innocent Yemeni civilians. However, as someone who has been involved in [redacted] for several years, I am in a position to state the following: the pilots and WSOs have no discipline; they also lack any military aviation skills beyond the basics; they will not fulfil their missions if these involve danger; they will drop their ordnance when and where it suits them; and they will lie through their teeth in the face of all the radar and satellite proof that they were negligent, finally closing any disciplinary hearing by invoking the Koran. Yemeni civilian deaths are at such a high level because Saudi air crew do what suits themselves. The Saudi Air Force cadet corps is no more than a rabble of ill-disciplined, lazy, badly educated, low-skilled feckless youngsters with no interest in learning the skills needed by a modern Air Force.

"Feel free to edit and submit the above. The scud in Taif will raise alarm bells. It means Riyadh could be next."

I imagine those of you who have an interest will understand what I redacted, and why.


I will attempt a brief explanation. I believe "people of color" might be due to the lack of inclusion in ethnic or geographical features. Many of my African friends and Caribbean friends and acquaintances would prefer "Black." Many Latinos might also seem to prefer the term as would some (many?) Asians. This explanation just skims the surface. I think we all came from Africa many eons ago, but the science is contested by some.

My father told me 60 years ago never to judge an individual by the color of their skin, their religious affiliation or ethnicity; he was a French-Canadian kid growing up in a tough neighborhood in the Depression and was bullied by Italian-American kids until one of the fathers, a butcher, canvassed the neighborhood and told families they would have to answer to him if it continued.There is more to tell about him and race, but I will not jack the thread.


Some one who I know is a second generation ( us born) East Indian whom his parents were born and migrated here from South Africa' Cape Town back in 50'. He has dark skin but he is Indian dark, when I tease him, calling him African American he gets offended and upset. He prefers to be called just American which he is, he has never been to Africa even once.
I understand and can accept first generation migrants like me to be called Iranian Americans, Tombakto Americans etc. but associating color of one' skin to a continent to identify your citizens maybe a politicly corect form of dividing/ grouping the citizen by itself.


Do you mean "Sabzeh" which is Persian for olive skin


Anyone who is not self defined as 'white' 'WASP' 'Aryan'


Friend who has close involvement with SA/Gulf bemoans the difficulty of dealing with the locals because of their relentless sense of entitlement. Also comments that educated younger women are generally more realistic and ambitious and would be good value for the region if given a chance, but unlikely to happen since it would threaten traditional male status.

Abu Sinan

Rightly or wrongly,the war in Yemen is now being billed as the "American and Saudi war on Yemen." That is how it is talked about on Arab TV and how it is written about on Arabic media. The Saudis have probably committed multiple war crimes in their attacks on Yemen and the US is being painted with that same brush. It is increasing hatred towards America. Our involvement in Yemen is a loose/loose sitation for us. It has shown that our biggest ally in the Gulf is weak and ineffectual, rather than sending a message of strength to the Iranians that the Saudis wanted. Because of our logistical and intelligence support for the Saudis, every woman, child, food depot and world heritage site the Saudis destroy, we are being lumped in with them as responsible. Every side possible in the region hates us even more, if that is possible, based on our support for the Saudis.

It leaves us in a weak position politcally. Our leaders say we want them to pay more attention to their targets to minimize civilian casualties, but they ignore us andwe continue our support unabated. There needs to be an international investigation of the Saudis and the Coaltion for war crimes. The chances of that happening are next to none. In a meeting I was involved with the other day with the Yemen desk at the state department and a senior policy advisory to Samantha Powers I was given the distinct inpression that the US would not support an independent war crimes investigation against the Saudis, because if the Saudis were found to have committed war crimes, the US would potentially be implicated as well because of our support for the Saudis. Ie, an independent investigation of KSA will never happen.

The sad fact is, even if the Saudis dont read history books, they could have asked their own retired military and political leaders what a war against Yemen would have gotten them. In the 1960s the Saudis bankrolled the grandfathers of the same people they are bombing today. It was completely avoidable.


The SCUD of Taif fell a bit short but there are more to come.

Estimates on the ground find that the Saudis killed about 50,000 Yemenites. Sounds plausible as man areas in the north are not reachable/do not have communication, but are bombed heavily.

Janes finds that the Saudis hide their own dead soldiers. Only two announced when many, many more are shown dead in Houthi videos.
Saudi Arabia downplays border war casualties

Al Masirah is a pro-Houthi TV station and publishes lots of combat (propaganda) videos from the fighting in Saudi Arabia

Houthi/Saleh forces announced yesterday to increase manifold their attacks in Saudi Arabia - new forces were dispatched.

Abu Sinan

I get your point, but it flies in the face of their intentional bombing of Yemeni and world heritage sites that were not anywhere near otherwise acceptible targets. As for not wanting to intentionally harm Yemenis, I am not sure about that. When you look at hundreds of attacks against schools, hospitals and civilian targets, along with the fact that Yemenis are considered second class citizens in Saudi society, and the Shi'a (Zaidi) that they are killing are seen by many Saudis to be Kuffar, or unbelievers, deliberate targeting of civilians wouldnt surprise me. Some religious scholars in Saudi have already proclaimed that this is a valid jihad against the Shi'a of Yemen. I dont doubt the incompetence of the Saudi pilots, but I dont discount these other factors as well.


also don't think Saudi pilots would want to fly too close to the ground (probably why we don't see lot of Saudi attack helicopters in Yemen. After all we see plenty in Syria).

Remember seeing a comment that Saudi AF is more of "exclusive flying club for elite" than an actual air force.


I can understand your sister-in-law, along the 70's Black is Beautiful approach. But I also met people that argue it can only be used by other black people, otherwise it is an insult. ...

The problem with the current usage of the term "people of color" lies here, It's a widely open definition, and thus embraced for and by people outside the narrow white definition:


And in the larger context of Identity Politics, of course. But I would object that Identity is a natural premise of what is labeled "Cultural Marxism" around here.




"olive skin" as someone who likes colors and the visual arts, i was always somewhat startled when I stumbled across early European ethnographic. Why olive? But then, there was yellow too, wasn't there?



If the weapon was a SCUD C and was fired from the Jizan area on the coast an area occupied by the Yemeni forces then I would think it would have fallen quite a bit short of Taif. I would have thought that the AFB at Khamis Mushayt or the city of Abha would have been better targets and well within range. A peculiarity of the SCUD series of missiles is that the missile hasa fixed range and the distance to the target must be calculated and the exact stand off for the firing position established for the rocket to range accurately. Then a particular fin on the bird must point at the target desired. All in all a primitive system but it works. pl


"European ethnographic."

Sorry, Kooshy, mental ellipsis (linguistics here), I don't add this since I distrust your ability to fill in whatever is missing. In this case: literature.

Now an interesting question would be, is there any equivalent to the OED where one could trace usage of the term in Persian over the ages, centuries? ... Not that the OED does not contain mistakes, but it is helpful in a fast check approach.

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