Monthly Archives: April 2011

The enemy of my enemy

The Country Which Must Not Be Named must be getting fairly nervous about Iran’s nuclear capability if you can read editorials like this one.

Despite the major differences in values and a history of enmity, it seems only rational that Saudi Arabia should seek the unthinkable and cooperate with the Jewish state in order to preserve its survival and political independence. Otherwise, the Saudis and other Persian Gulf states will be the first victims of a nuclear Iran, without a capable, strong and reliable ally to come to their aid.

Some other interesting tidbits in the piece:

an ongoing state of war or a campaign of hatred and anti-Semitism against the Jewish state no longer guarantees an Arab regime‘s political survival, we saw in Syria, Libya and Yemen.

If you can believe Miles Copeland’s The Game of Nations, anti-Semitism was a strategy introduced by U.S. officials for promoting political stability within Middle Eastern nations. But thinking of reasons that anti-Semitism doesn’t work is not particularly surprising, considering the source.
This one is odd:

Fifth, establishing a Palestinian state is not in the best interest of Saudi Arabia or Israel. As previously happened after Israel withdrew its military forces from Gaza in 2005, Hamas will be able to take over the new state by winning subsequent Palestinian elections, as it did in 2006, or by militarily defeating the PA, as it did in 2007. Such state would become another Iranian base, threatening Israel but also destabilizing Jordan next door and encircling the Saudis from the northwest.

So the only thing that is preventing Hamas and Iran from taking over the Palestinian government is the lack of a state? How exactly does that work? Especially when you consider that when Hamas won the election, Palestine was NOT A STATE. Think, people. Lack of Palestinian statehood did not inoculate Palestine against a Hamas win. In fact, the lack of effectiveness of the Palestinian government in dealing with the Jewish state probably gave Hamas an extra boost in the elections. When moderation doesn’t work, people will try extremism.

But this is the new mantra. Palestinian statehood equals Iran. Repeat it enough times and people will start to believe it. Reminds me of the old saying that there are good reasons and there are real reasons. There don’t seem to be any good reasons for denying the Palestinians statehood. What are the real reasons?

Riyal ferengi

Some bedouin silver. Says the vendor: with new jewelry, the quality is poor but the condition is good; with old jewelry the quality is good but the condition is poor.


This is the riyal ferengi or “foreign riyal”, a form of silver bullion called the Maria Theresa taler, once used all over the Middle East.

The exact weight and silver content of the taler was spelled out in an edict issued by Maria Theresia July 30, 1748, and again in a coinage convention treaty between Maria Theresia and the Dutch of Bavaria signed on September 21, 1753, which enabled the coin to be used as an official trade coinage.

The Latin inscription says M. THERESIA D. G. R. IMP. HU. BO. REG. an abbreviation for Maria Theresia, Dei Gratia Romanorum Imperatrix, Hungariae Bohemiaeque Regina, or “Maria Theresa, by the grace of God, Empress of the Romans, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia. The reverse says ARCHID. AVST. DUX BURG. CO. TYR. 1780 X, an abbreviation for Archidux Austriae, Dux Burgundiae, Comes Tyrolis. 1780 X or “Archduchess of Austria, Duchess of Burgundy, Countess of Tyrol. 1780”. The X is a saltire added in 1750 to symbolize Maria Theresa’s rule over the Austrian Netherlands; the various styles of this symbol can be used to date the coins. [Image credit, right, Wikipedia.]

The thaler contains 23.3890 grams (0.752 troy ounces) of fine silver. It has a millesimal fineness of .833. At today’s price of silver at $48.6 per ounce, the coin today should be worth $36.50 or 137 SAR . I was going to put it on a key chain next to my flash drive, but perhaps not.

Noisy fan

This morning my kitchen fan was making odd cooing noises. Its electrical cord appears to be cut, so it shouldn’t make any noises at all. I went out to look, and sure enough, there is a nest in the fan.Meanwhile the worried mama kept a distance.

Here they are.  They should have muppet voices.

Libya war photos

Photojournalists Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington were killed Wednesday while reporting in Libya. WaPo has published a gallery of images Hondros shot on Wednesday, hours before his death.

Stopping Iran in Bahrain?

A WSJ piece portrays the recent Saudi military activities in Bahrain as part of a regional proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, with the Saudis as the force of Sunni moderation.

…The two sides have assembled loosely allied camps. Iran holds in its sway Syria and the militant Arab groups Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories; in the Saudi sphere are the Sunni Muslim-led Gulf monarchies, Egypt, Morocco and the other main Palestinian faction, Fatah. The Saudi camp is pro-Western and leans toward tolerating the state of Israel. The Iranian grouping thrives on its reputation in the region as a scrappy “resistance” camp, defiantly opposed to the West and Israel.

For decades, the two sides have carried out a complicated game of moves and countermoves. With few exceptions, both prefer to work through proxy politicians and covertly funded militias, as they famously did during the long Lebanese civil war in the late 1970s and 1980s, when Iran helped to hatch Hezbollah among the Shiites while the Saudis backed Sunni militias.

But has the recent “Arab spring” changed anything?

…As for the U.S., the Saudis saw calls for reform as another in a string of disappointments and outright betrayals. Back in 2002, the U.S. had declined to get behind an offer from King Abdullah (then Crown Prince) to rally widespread Arab recognition for Israel in exchange for Israel’s acceptance of borders that existed before the 1967 Six Day War—a potentially historic deal, as far as the Saudis were concerned. And earlier this year, President Obama declined a personal appeal from the king to withhold the U.S. veto at the United Nations from a resolution condemning continued Israeli settlement building in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The Saudis believe that solving the issue of Palestinian statehood will deny Iran a key pillar in its regional expansionist strategy—and thus bring a win for the forces of Sunni moderation that Riyadh wants to lead.

Iran, too, was starting to see a compelling case for action as one Western-backed regime after another appeared to be on the ropes. It ramped up its rhetoric and began using state media and the regional Arab-language satellite channels it supports to depict the pro-democracy uprisings as latter-day manifestations of its own revolution in 1979. “Today the events in the North of Africa, Egypt, Tunisia and certain other countries have another sense for the Iranian nation.… This is the same as ‘Islamic Awakening,’ which is the result of the victory of the big revolution of the Iranian nation,” said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

..which will do nothing to reassure those who fear the recent upheavals in the region will be exploited by Islamists.

Ejected from book fair

Religious police unwelcome at Riyadh March book fair.


Via Arabic Literature (in English).

Anti-sharia legislation

Kooky Islamophobe Brigitte Gabriel is back. This time her front groups are at the bottom of a wave of anti-sharia legislation that has turned up in Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, and South Dakota.

One of the more striking things about the current anti-sharia craze is how often state legislators who introduce anti-sharia bills can’t answer basic questions about Islamic law or why they see it as a threat.

In Alabama, for example, when the state senator who sponsored an anti-sharia bill was asked by a reporter to simply define sharia, he responded: “I don’t have my file in front of me.”…

How could all these legislators be so uninformed about their own bills? A big part of the reason is that most of them did not actually write the legislation in question.

Salon tracks down the details.