Advertisements
jump to navigation

US to give Lebanese ‘light attack’ planes 20, February 2010

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

As’ad AbuKhalil, aka the Angry Arab, translates the news that America will sell Lebanon light attack aircraft into the language of real politick. Over the top, as always, but there is a clearly a kernel of truth there.

The US will not give Lebanon any weapons that can be effective against Israeli aggression, but is willing to give Lebanon weapons that can be effective against demonstrators, rebels and the Palestinian refugee camps.

Advertisements

Hitchens on North Korea 20, February 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Here the never dull Christoper Hitchens concludes a book review of The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters for Slate Magazine. A touch dramatic, perhaps, but a fascinating idea nonetheless.

Here are the two most shattering facts about North Korea. First, when viewed by satellite photography at night, it is an area of unrelieved darkness. Barely a scintilla of light is visible even in the capital city. (See this famous photograph.) Second, a North Korean is on average six inches shorter than a South Korean. You may care to imagine how much surplus value has been wrung out of such a slave, and for how long, in order to feed and sustain the militarized crime family that completely owns both the country and its people.

But this is what proves Myers right. Unlike previous racist dictatorships, the North Korean one has actually succeeded in producing a sort of new species. Starving and stunted dwarves, living in the dark, kept in perpetual ignorance and fear, brainwashed into the hatred of others, regimented and coerced and inculcated with a death cult: This horror show is in our future, and is so ghastly that our own darling leaders dare not face it and can only peep through their fingers at what is coming.

Qatar’s diplomatic balancing 20, February 2010

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

Qatar tanks in Quality of Life Index 20, February 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
Tags:
1 comment so far

Qatar came 128th in a recent study assessing and ranking the quality of life in countries across the world. Qatar did exceptionally badly in criteria focusing on the cost of living, freedom, infrastructure and climate.

1. France

2. Australia

3. Switzerland

4. Germany

5. New Zealand

127. Nepal

128. Qatar

Iranian destroyer docks in Doha along with Clinton 20, February 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Iran, Qatar.
Tags: , , , ,
1 comment so far

Two Iranian naval ships, one destroyer and one warship, docked at Doha’s port at the invitation of the Qatari Navy. Iran’s Press TV commented on the maneuver with the usual line about how it was part of the close relations between Iran and Qatar owing to their shared border, close historical bonds, shared concerns etc etc.

It is far more interesting to note that the Qatari Navy invited these Iranian warships to Doha at the same time as US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was in Doha castigating Iran for descending into ever more of a dictatorial, militarized and repressive state. This is a perfect example of Qatar playing the delicate game of international diplomacy. One might also be tempted to draw interesting inferences from the fact that it was ships from Iran’s regular Navy and not ships from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard that docked in Doha.

Emirates to sponsor AC Milan 20, February 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

Emirates Airlines has announced that it will be the shirt sponsor for AC Milan Football Club. It will pay $82 million over five years for the privilege. Milan will join Arsenal, Hamburg and Paris St Germain who are currently sponsored by the airline.

Qatar to stop selling alcohol? 20, February 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Kuwait, Qatar.
Tags: , , ,
1 comment so far

Rumors are afoot that Qatar’s only off-license where residents can purchase alcohol is to close for good. At the moment, the office is not issuing any new licenses, though this is theoretically only a temporary measure. However, thirsty locals are clearly fearing that this is but the beginning. Yet, so far as I can see, this supposition is based on essentially nothing: typical ex-pat gossip.

I’ve always thought that Qatar’s way of handling alcohol was rather mature. The country needs foreign ex-pats. Such workers tend to want to buy and consume alcohol. Instead of the ridiculous situation in Kuwait where people simply buy alcohol on the black market, try to smuggle it in or make it at home, in Qatar the monthly ration seems to be a good idea. Whilst personally I don’t much care either way, here’s hoping that sense prevails.

On a similar note here’s a link to the best April Fool’s Day joke ever. Hook, line and sinker, it worked 100% on me when I saw it in the Kuwait Times back in 2007.

US Ambassador to Qatar in scrap with Turkish counterpart? 20, February 2010

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

During Hilary Clinton’s recent trip to Doha she conducted many, many meetings which required significant organization and good time keeping. When, therefore, her discussion with the Turkish Prime Minister sailed past its allotted 20 minutes towards nearly an hour, US Ambassador James LeBaron became ever more anxious to extricate Clinton so that they would not be late for her next meeting with Qatar’s Emir Hamad Al Thani.

However, as he sought to enter the room to inform Clinton that they needed to go, reports indicate that the Turkish Ambassador physically restrained him. Apparently, this quickly developed into something of a minor brawl between the two Ambassadors who had to be separated by staff. Other reports play down the altercation and insist that there was no physical contact between them, just a bit of banging on the door to alert Clinton and some shouting. But where’s the fun in spreading that version of events?

The Cable continues to suggest that the Turks view the formalities and protocol of events as as important as the substance. Whilst this sounds a bit orientalist, I can imagine a grain of truth in it.

Kuwaiti Ambassador: ‘it’s the Persian Gulf’ 20, February 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iraq, Kuwait, Middle East, The Gulf.
Tags: , , , ,
1 comment so far

Kuwait’s Ambassador to Iran recently told the Iranian news agency Mehr that the body of water between Arabs and Persians is and always will be called the ‘Persian Gulf’. This is quite an admission from an Arab Ambassador. Typically, Arabs call the body of water the Arabian Gulf whereas Iranians fall back on centuries of customary law and modern-day international law and call it the Persian Gulf. Recently an Iraqi politician suggested that the water ought to be called the Gulf of Basra, just to complicate things further. Angry spats frequently develop over the naming of this body of water. Indeed, ironically the Islamic Solidarity Games were recently cancelled because of arguments over just this issue. It is unlikely that this Ambassador’s comments will make him many friends on his side of the Gulf.

Hat tip: the ever reliable MEMRI

Barca’s Guardiola to be Qatar 2022 Ambassador 20, February 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

Barcelona’s legendary player and current manager Pep Guardiola is to act as an Ambassador for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid. Guardiola who played football in Qatar for two years joins Rodger Milla and Frank De Boer in promoting Qatar as the venue for the 2022 games. Whilst Qatar are undoubtedly outsiders for the tournament, their practically unlimited budget means that they cannot be ruled out.