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On the Israeli flotilla assault 31, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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Here’s Abu Muqawama’s view on Israel’s inexplicably stupid operation against the humanitarian flotilla:

If I am in charge of doing that for the Israeli Navy, I am going to assume these people are smart and are deliberately trying to provoke a crazy response from my sailors and soldiers that will produce ready-for-television images that both isolate Israel within the international community and further raise the ire of the Arabic-speaking and Islamic worlds. I mean, that is my base assumption for what this group is trying to do. So naturally, the last thing I would want my forces to do would be to overreact, right? It’s like when your convoy gets fired on inside a crowded market: the last thing you want to do is return fire with 7.62mm, killing a bunch of civilians and giving the enemy exactly the effect he was looking for.

If something does go wrong, meanwhile, I am going to have a response ready. I am going to have my very best spokespersons on international and Israeli television. I am most certainly not going to let people like Danny Ayalon provide my government’s response, right? Because a live wire like Ayalon — who the Turks already hate, with an understandable passion — will just say something incredibly crazy like how the people in the aid flotilla were terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda. (Even if you can prove this is somehow true, everyone you need to be speaking to right now — the international community, the Turkish people, the Arabic-speaking world — is just going to think you are nuts for saying it or will roll their eyes and say, “Oh, of course he’s saying that.”)

In reality, what happened today is the Israelis got their butts handed to them. The Israeli response to this aid flotilla was a fabulous gift to Hamas and Iran. (Try to imagine, if you will, the Israelis trying to go before the U.N. Security Council to gather support for sanctions on the Iranian regime right now. They would be more likely to leave New York with sanctions on their own regime!)

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Israeli Minister visits Doha 31, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Qatar.
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The Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor is visiting Doha, Qatar to head up the Israeli delegation to the World Economic Forum. Ynet states that Benjamin Ben-Eliezer will try to “persuade his counterparts in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf to take advantage of Israeli technologies to overcome obstacles and thaw relations between Israel and its neighbors.”

This is somewhat curious given that Qatar tried on at least two occasions this year to persuade Israel to reopen their trade office in Doha.

This will also be the first visit by an Israeli minister since the Hamas assassination debacle in Dubai.

Israelis kill up to 20 attacking humanitarian convoy 31, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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Bahrain backs down over GCC nomination 31, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia.
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Bahrain backed down and has not nominated Muhammed Al Mutawa as the new Secretary General of the GCC. Hid nomination was widely seen as one of the key precipitants of recent problems between Qatar and Bahrain. Qatar strenuously objected to the nomination of Al Mutawa as he was prominent and vocal in advancing Bahrain’s case against Qatar to the ICJ over the border dispute. Although the dispute was resolved some years ago, Qatar could not brook the idea of him as the next Secretary General.

Instead Bahrain has nominated Abdul Lateef Bin Rashid Al Zayani. This change came at the behest of Saudi King Abdullah who sought to mediate between the two countries. Given Bahrain’s political and economic position, they are in no position to refuse an request such as this from the Saudi King.

“The” Afghan powerpoint 31, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
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This is the (in)famous Afghan PowerPoint slide of which Stanley McCrystal said “when we understand this, we’ll have won the war.”

There is a growing backlash against Microsoft’s PowerPoint. This slide is a – or perhaps “the” – perfect example of PowerPoint’s problem. Unless the sole goal of this slide was to highlight that Afghanistan is nigh-on impossibly complex to the point of incomprehension, then this was a terrible slide, for it cannot really be used in any instructional capacity.

Various articles in recent years, the NYT highlights, have come out attacking PowerPoint. The NYT article even has quotes from an Army platoon commander in Iraq saying that he – literally – spends “most of his time” making PowerPoint slides.

There’s an interesting quick debate on PowerPoint over at Intelligence Squared which neatly and eloquently highlights both sides of the argument.

5 female Al Jazeera anchors resign 31, May 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Al-Jazeera.
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At least five female presenters of Al Jazeera’s Arabic news have resigned. Numerous reasons are mooted for this (relatively) mass exodus. The most prominent reason (seriously…) appears to be (no, really…) issues relating to their clothes and make-up (honestly…). This could be (and I sincerely hope that this is), however, some kind of ‘muddying of the waters’, so to speak, to camouflage more serious issues.

Other rumors suggest that the grievances are more to do with:

  • “the imposition of one political and ideological view” in the newsroom i.e. ‘Islamist’-type views
  • Cumulative “unprofessional policies” over several years
  • Harassment

The anchors in question are Julnar Moussa, Jumana Nammour, Lona Ashibl, Lina Zahreddine, Nawfar Ali. Several others are also voicing their support so that number could well rise.

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