jump to navigation

Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize: ridiculous 9, October 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment


Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. What were they thinking? Obama would surely agree that he has done nothing whatsoever to deserve this prize. Plenty of fine words about nuclear weapons, the fractious US-Russian relationship and a nice speech in Cairo ought not a successful Nobel Peace Prize winner make. Action, surely, ought to be its hallmark. Indeed in this department Obama is sorely lacking, even going backwards from his Cairo speech.

The award of this prize appears to be a somewhat pathetic attempt by Norway, or rather some crazy committee there, to curry favor with America in the most craven and stupid manner. Not only will Obama be embarrassed by this award but he will be pilloried throughout the world to say nothing of the American right wing’s apoplectic reaction to this.

This is truly a foolhardy award which risks tarnishing the reputation of a noble institution for a long time to come.

Stop enlarging the Olympics 9, October 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
Tags: , , , ,


Rugby Sevens and Golf are the latest sports up for consideration for joining the Olympics. Moreover, they are expected to pass accreditation at the IOC HQ sometime soon, joining the regal and illustrious sports of BMX biking, beach volleyball, handball, trampolining and the ever ridiculous synchronized drowning swimming. Enough is enough. It is hard enough plumping up however many hundreds of millions of pound to stage an Olympics, renovating decrepit areas of cities and giving them exactly what they need – cycling velodromes – without having to make sure Golfing facilities are available too.

Olympiads are infamous for landing cities and countries with enormous mountains of debt (here, here, here – in a 30 second search), surely the great and the good in Lausanne can see that adding another two sports will just make this worse? And does anyone really care about a second-rate sport like Rugby Sevens? As for Golf, do we really need more occasions for rich, middle-aged usually overwhelmingly Caucasian men to strut their Pringle? Kifayyah, as they say in these parts.

Update: They’re in.

Abu Muqawama attacks Fisk 9, October 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Middle East.
Tags: , , , , ,

Robert Fisk made headlines earlier this week with a shocking story suggesting that Middle Eastern governments along with Russia and China were conspiring or at least discussing dropping the Dollar as their back-up currency of choice. This would lead to a dramatic and pervasive shift in world financial markets and would hammer the American economy. However, Fisk’s sources on this story leave a lot to be desired: having anonymous sources is understandable to some degree, but for a story of such significance (world markets plunged and soared on this story) it is simply not good enough.

Abu Muqawama, one of the most knowledgeable and highly respected bloggers on things Middle Eastern, launched something of an unbridled attack on Fisk on his blog, now hosted by the Centre for a New American Security. He slated Fisk for essentially becoming lazy in his work in the last few years, for not properly backing up his controversial stories only referring to a few anonymous sources and for believing his role to be the preeminent speaker of ‘The Truth’ in his columns in The Independent.

Whilst the attack is really rather vitriolic, I unfortunately agree that there is some truth to in what it said. Unfortunate because, as Abu Muqawama mentions, Fisk used to be such a fastidious reporter whose word carried significant weight. Read his latest book, however, and the errors leap out in their droves.

The book contains a deplorable number of mistakes. Some are amusing: my favourite is when King Hussein’s stallion unexpectedly “reared up on her hind legs”. Christ was born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem. Napoleon’s army did not burn Moscow, the Russians did. French: meurt means dies, not blooms. Russian: goodbye is do svidanya, not dos vidanya. Farsi: laleh means tulip, not rose. Arabic: catastrophe is nakba not nakhba (which means elite), and many more.

Other mistakes undermine the reader’s confidence. Muhammad’s nephew Ali was murdered in the 7th century, not the 8th century. Baghdad was never an Ummayad city. The Hashemites are not a Gulf tribe but a Hijaz tribe, as far as you can get from the Gulf and still be in Arabia. The US forward base for the Kuwait war, Dhahran, is not “scarcely 400 miles” from Medina and the Muslim holy places, it is about 700 miles. Britain during the Palestine mandate did not support a Jewish state. The 1939 white paper on Palestine did not “abandon Balfour’s promise” (and he was not “Lord Balfour” when he made it). The Iraq revolution of 1958 was not Baathist. Britain did not pour military hardware into Saddam’s Iraq for 15 years, or call for an uprising against Saddam in 1991. These last two “mistakes” occasion lengthy Philippics against British policy; others may deserve them, we do not.

Overall, as the Angry Arab says, perhaps it is time for Fisk to sail off into the sunset.