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Assange’s online dating profile ‘leaked’ 13, December 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
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In a bitter if somewhat sweet bout of irony the online dating profile of Julian Assange, the man behind the explosion of Wikileaks and their Cablegate revelations, has been posted online.

Found online by an American gossip magazine, it contains a cringe-worthy selection of his writings

WARNING: Want a regular, down to earth guy? Keep moving. I am not the droid you’re looking for… I am DANGER, ACHTUNG.

The Times reports that he

says that he likes Russian books, movies and music – but never Russian food. He spends his time thinking about “changing the world” [Hmmm], loves travelling and wild places and could adapt to anything life threw at him, “except the loss of female company and carbon”.

One of his final lines warns

Do not write to me if you are timid. I am too busy. Write to me if you are brave.

What a prat.

Ordinarily, I would say that this is an outrageous invasion of an individual’s privacy. However, in this case, I think it’s simply the most deliciously ironic thing that this egotistical, blatantly anti-US and dangerous man has suffered this way. If, that is, this is not some plant by the US…

Al Jazeera shut down in Kuwait 13, December 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Al-Jazeera, Kuwait.
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In reaction to the recent Al Jazeera coverage of Kuwait political troubles (see here) the Kuwaiti Government has closed down their offices in Kuwait City.

Al Jazeera are used to this. They have their offices shut down across the region from time to time. Typically, the Kuwaiti Emir will make a plea to the Qatari Emir, imploring him to get Al Jazeera to tone down their coverage. The Qatari Emir will insist that he has nothing to do with it. A few weeks or months later and after the dust has settled, the office will reopen.

There are two other possibilities, as I see it.

First, Kuwait might seek some kind of Saudi-eqsue agreement. Al Jazeera had a well deserved reputation for its harsh and somewhat salacious coverage of Saudi Arabia. This was at the time of generally poor and fractious relations between Qatar and the KSA. In agreeing to return a Saudi Ambassador to Doha for the first time in four years in 2008, Riyadh demanded that Al Jazeera’s coverage be toned down towards them, and so it was. There are rumours of a similar deal being done/worked out between Qatar and Egypt at the moment.

The problem for Kuwait is that they do not really have any leverage over Qatar. Their relations are OK generally; nothing really leaps to mind: there is no great reason for the Qatari government to acquiesce to a similar deal.

The second (related) possibility is that perhaps Kuwait might seek to form a quasi-coalition against Al Jazeera and Qatar. If they can get Egypt and say, Bahrain, on board – both with antagonistic relations to Qatar – then perhaps momentum will help them attract more countries to make a joint threat: ‘tone down Al Jazeera’ or we’ll all close our offices. It’s not as if all Arab countries will not be tempted to try to punish Al Jazeera.

It is also worth pointing out that this may not be well received in Kuwait. I would suspect that for the opposition in Kuwait, Al Jazeera is well-regarded and thought of as a useful megaphone for their views. ‘Once again’ they may well moan, ‘the Government is trying to stifle us’. None of this bodes well for the resumption of the relatively pliant and cooperative politics of recent months.

The Barreleye Fish 13, December 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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Nature is fine with me, I’ve no real quarrel with it: it’s certainly nice, I suppose, but…well…I just don’t care that much.

Until, that is, I come across a picture like this. Apparently this is a real fish. As in it is swimming around somewhere…allegedly. Amazing doesn’t really cover it. Oh…and those green orb-like things are its eyes looking upwards (of course).

(Fear not loyal readers, this post is but an aberration; this thegulfblog will not be turning into some wildlife themed blog…:))

Qatar Foundation to sponsor Barcelona 13, December 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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Footballing links between Spain and Qatar continue to build. Barcelona have announced that the Qatar Foundation will replace UNICEF as their primary sponsor. QF will pay around $225 million for the privilege under a newly signed 5 year deal, the most lucrative in football history.

Barcelona’s manager Pep Guardiola was one of numerous sponsors of Qatar’s successful World Cup 2022 bid. Spain and Qatar, both bidding for different World Cups, agreed to block vote for each other though this was somewhat less successful for Spain.

This deal comes at an opportune moment for both parties.

For Barcelona, though they have been hugely successful in recent years, they have a veritable mountain of debt (some £350million) and need some cash. For QF and Qatar more generally, they can tie themselves to one of the greatest football clubs in the world at a peak of their powers. Barcelona have won stacks of trophies in recent seasons, destroyed their arch rivals and super-club Real Madrid 5-0 recently and are universally regarded as playing some of the most beautiful football ever seen. In their last game, to offer one stat, they passed the ball more times than any other team in recorded footballing history.