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Burj Dubai renamed Burj Khalifah 4, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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In a staggering sign of the times, the Burj Dubai, the tallest building in the world and the epitome of all that is Dubai, has been renamed the Burj Khalifah, after the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan. This comes after Abu Dhabi bailed out Dubai from its largely self-induced financial meltdown towards the end of 2009 to the tune of at least $25bn.

The unanswerable question is, of course, just how grudging Dubai’s ruler, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, was in changing the name of his premiere, world attention-gathering, pet project. Certainly, he would not have given up this huge honour lightly but given the scale of the help offered to Dubai by its sister Emirate, Al Maktoum must simply have been left with no choice. It was expected that Dubai’s flagship airline, Emirates, was going to be ‘creamed off’ by Abu Dhabi as part payment, but to my knowledge no-one predicted that the price would be quite this high.

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Al Qaeda & FARC Colombian rebels in alliance? 4, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
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Yes, or rather I mean, no, I didn’t mis-type that, there are reports of Al Qaeda – you know, the angry Islamic ones – entering into some kind of alliance with the drug-dealing folk in Colombia.

…criminal organizations including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, are going through Africa to access the European market. And they are doing it with the help of al-Qaeda and other groups branded terrorists by Washington, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Mmm….I suppose they contacted directory inquiries for [or, if you’re in the states, asked for the 411 on] Al Qaeda International HQ . From there, after being caught up in the bureaucracy for a while (you know how it is in large organizations), they would have been passed down to a local regional office. After several meetings, some dinner and drinks, a competitive deal would have been struck over cigars and brandy, perhaps on a Golf Course. Of course, FARC’s great advantage was that, at the last minute in a calculated ploy to drive down the Al Qaeda  Inc.™ price, they dropped into conversation that they were also in contact with ETA, the Japanese Red Brigade and Gary Glitter as other possible conduits. On hearing this, the local rep. phoned CEO OBL, reposing in his state-of-the-art cave, explained the situation and was reluctantly told to meet FARC’s new, lower price. Dastardly negotiators, those FARC people.

Reaping the consequences of US foreign policy 4, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
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Stephen Walt has an excellent post over at Foreign Policy discussing the recent attempted airline attack. He points out – as basic as this may seem – that US foreign policy has consequences and such near-attacks like this are one direct effect. The US is a big, powerful, interventionist country, yet most Americans just don’t seem to appreciate this fact.

As a society, we seem to believe that we can send thousands of troops to invade other countries, send Reapers and Predators to fire missiles at people we think might — repeat, might — be terrorists, and underwrite the oppressive policies of a host of “friendly” governments, yet never pay any significant price for it back here at home.

I’m not for one minute justifying what groups like al Qaeda do; my point is that we shouldn’t be surprised by it. When a very powerful country spends a lot of time interfering in other’s affairs, and sometimes backing obvious injustices like the Gaza War, then it ought to expect some people to be very angry about it.

Yet Americans still find this surprising, and demand more and more extreme measures to “protect” us. We are like a heavy smoker who gets upset when they get diagnosed with emphysema, or a glutton who thinks it is “unfair” when he winds up with diabetes and high blood pressure.

Chopping and changing 4, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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So, as you loyal followers may have noticed, I’ve gone back to the original design. The previous one was ok but had issues with YouTube embeds and, more to the point, it wasn’t this one. No prizes for guessing that I very much dislike change. Nevertheless, I’ve sated my desire to tinker at the start of the new year with the profoundly changing colour change.