My articles, Syria

Of Maps and Men

islamicmapA few months ago, my friend Joshua Landis wrote an essay for this blog called “The Great Sorting Out,” which generated one of the more interesting discussions we’ve hosted. I’ve been thinking about Joshua’s argument ever since, and trying to make sense of what I find to be right and wrong about it. This piece at The New Yorker tries to address obliquely some of those issues, but perhaps there is more to say in a later essay as well.

Here’s the first paragraph or two. Come back here to comment, if you wish.

Iraq and Syria’s Poetic Borders

The late historian and critic Tony Judt once described Europe before the First World War as “an intricate, interwoven tapestry of overlapping languages, religions, communities and nations.” After the period between 1914 and 1945, as a result of war, ethnic cleansing, and border drawing, a new, more stable Europe emerged, in which “almost everybody now lived in their own country, among their own people.” Thirty million were uprooted and dispersed by Stalin and Hitler between 1939 and 1943, a process that was repeated after the defeat of the Axis armies. Germans, Poles, Balts, Croats, Ukrainians, Hungarians, Slovaks, Romanians, Turks, and many others were shunted around the continent. The result was “a Europe of nation states more ethnically homogenous than ever before.”

Is a similar process of nation formation taking place in Iraq and Syria today? As in Europe, borders were drawn all over the Fertile Crescent following the First World War, and many of those borders have now become notional abstractions as millions of refugees flee conflict zones in Mosul, Aleppo, Homs, and Raqqa. The demographic map of the region is in flux, and analysts have wasted little time in declaring that the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham augurs the death of Sykes-Picot, the British-French treaty that established many of the Middle East’s modern borders, its creations now unstitched and exposed in their artificiality. (continue)

Some responses from readers:

Nadim Shehadi: 

Very interesting question QN, put in another way: are we in a period of nation formation like Europe was almost a hundred years ago? Or are we in a period of nation dismantling like Europe is going through now? this begs a different set of questions: are different regions subject to different trends or are there global phenomena or fashions in ideas which find variations in different regions?

So according to one sort of thinking, the Levant would be lagging behind Europe and what we see today is the Levant catching up with Europe and dividing into tidy and neatly organised ethnically homogeneous states after the evil or ignorant colonialists drew the map in a rather messy way mixing Shiias with Sunnis, Kurds, Maronites and others producing such a disordered region.

I am of the school that thinks that history does not move in such an orderly manner and the primary movers are ideas rather than material or concrete elements. The 20th century state as we know it is being dismantled globally and it is not as homogeneous as we might think it is, even in Europe.

At the end of 2011 I evaluated the year as a turning point where the 20th century was being dismantled and that there was a link between all the riots we saw that year on a global.

Lebanon skipped the 20th century and was considered a failed state by its standards, it may now be ahead of the game while the rest of the region dismantles what they successfully achieved and have to get used to the idea of living without it. Lebanon spent most of the 20th century arguing about whether to become a ‘proper state’ or not.

Jim Reilly

Syria, Lebanon and Iraq were ideas or concepts before they became states. This was the reverse of many other state-formations, where ideas (of France, Britain, Egypt, etc.) were molded to fit political faits accomplis. The sudden creation of the post-World War I states meant that these ideas had to be given content and material form on short notice, in a haphazard fashion, and in unfavorable circumstances. The *idea* of Syria or Iraq was more attractive than the reality of the Assad family fiefdom and Saddam Hussein’s rule-by-Tikrit. And so (helped along, again, by unfavorable regional and international circumstances including foreign invasion) they both fall apart.

Benjamin Thomas White:

Josh’s earlier post was thought-provoking, but problematic. Notwithstanding his statement in the comments section that “I didn’t use the word “primordial” and I wouldn’t”, the argument rests on the assumption that the ‘nationalities’ it describes were there, waiting to be disentangled (Winston Churchill’s word for it) and sorted into nation-state boxes.
It also seems to veer into anachronism when it states that the Germans expelled from eastern Europe “had lived in these countries stretching from Poland in the north to the Ukraine and Romania in the South for hundreds of years”: this seems to assume that Poland, Ukraine, Romania, and the countries in between had actually been ‘countries’—ie, independent states—for hundreds of years. They, and Germany, had all emerged in the period since 1870.

If we want to understand what happened then, and be in a position to draw meaningful comparisons with what’s happening now, it’s at least as useful to start with the internal development and external clashes of states, and see how that affected populations and the way they understood themselves. Doing that enables us to see just how much effort states had to put, not just into massacring or expelling populations they came to consider as disloyal, foreign, or unwanted, but also into hammering populations they wanted into ‘nations’. This was done by means ranging from the schoolroom to aeriel bombardment: it’s still within, or barely beyond, living memory that teachers would beat Breton schoolchildren for speaking Breton and not French in the classroom, and Turkey’s attempts to persuade Kurds that they’re ‘mountain Turks’ have been extremely brutal into the much more recent past. (For that matter, repressive states have probably done as much as Kurdish nationalists to persuade the religiously diverse speakers of two related languages that they share one ‘Kurdish’ identity—by no means a finished process.)

Of course, the populations persecuted or expelled by one panicking dynastic empire or emergent nation-state often ended up in a state that wanted them—but this doesn’t mean that that state was simply ‘theirs’ or that they belonged to it, wa khalas. West Germany had to do a lot of work to make expellees from eastern Europe lose their Polish or Czech accents; into the 1970s Anatolian Greeks in Greece were still marrying among themselves, and not with ‘Greek’ Greeks (among whom the term ‘turkospouroi’, ‘Turkish seed’ was often used to describe the transferees), while the work of persuading Greek-speaking Cretans, say, whose ancestors had converted to Islam several centuries earlier that they were and always had been ‘Turks’ and must speak Turkish took the Turkish Republic generations—during which time some of the most emphatic missionaries of the Turkish national project were from families which only a generation or two earlier had been Circassian, Daghestani, or Balkan. More recently, post-unification Germany often used some pretty crude criteria when deciding which Russian-speaking immigrants from Kazakhstan to accept as ‘Germans’. For many modern national groups, it took the shared experience of mass displacement, occurring at one or several points across the period Josh discusses, to accelerate—if not begin—the process of political self-definition as a ‘nation’.

So Tony Judt’s point that in Europe after the late 1940s “almost everybody now lived in their own country, among their own people”, like some of Josh’s arguments, seems misguided, unless it’s hedged about in the original by qualifications (which it may be, as Judt was usually pretty sharp about these things). It ignores too much history. And I haven’t even dwelt on just how debatable it really is that the post-1945 European nation-states were mononational. In France, durable immigration from colonial possessions had already begun before the war, but the much larger part of France’s immigrant population—which by 1930 was proportionately the largest in Europe, despite France’s status as the locus classicus of the nation-state—was from other European countries: Russians, Italians, Belgians, Poles, Spaniards, Portuguese, and others, all in numbers ranging from many tens of thousands to a million (not counting those who were naturalized as French).

You might think that further east, especially east of the Iron Curtain, immigration was less a feature of post-1945 nation-states—and perhaps that’s true. But the extremely large numbers of people of each state’s ‘nationality’ living outside the state mean that it’s no truer to say that “almost everybody now lived in their own country, among their own people”. When over half a million Poles moved to Britain after Poland’s accession to the EU a decade ago, it was widely heralded (or condemned) as the largest and fastest wave of immigration in British history—but something like 700,000 Poles, mostly people who’d served in the Allied armies and their families, moved into Britain in the late 1940s rather than going, or being sent, ‘back’ to the new-look, partly relocated Poland. This influx dwarfed the ‘Commonwealth migrations’ that began at around the same time (while Britain, incidentally, continued to be a major exporter of emigrants in this period, to Australia, the USA, South Africa). A lot of Poles lived in Poland—’in their own country, among their own people’—in 1950, some of whom had out of desire or necessity passed for German during the Nazi occupation. But the number of Poles who didn’t live in Poland—the post-1945 Poland whose existence as a modern national state, albeit on a somewhat different tract of land, could only be traced back to 1919 (the same year that Alsace and Lorraine became ‘French’ after fifty years of being ‘German’)—was probably in the millions: certainly over a million between Britain and France, let alone the US, Canada, and so on.

Apologies for the very long comment: this has obviously been on my mind since I read the original post. The point is that the twentieth-century European experience (or the nineteenth-century Balkan experience) of state formation and population displacement doesn’t offer any neat lessons for what’s happening in the Levan now. The seemingly ‘solid’ post-1945 European nation-states—and, pace Nadim, I’m not convinced that they’re being dismantled right now, though they’re certainly being re-tooled—depended for their stability on American and Soviet dominance, military and diplomatic, and at least in western Europe on superpower financial backing too; more, I’d argue, than on their debatably ‘mononational’ character. The EU has—as it was intended to—provided a supranational framework for them since the cold war ended, as Alan Millward argued, though it’s had its problems recently. In the Levant at the moment there’s no prospect of either a stable, superpower-backed ‘freezing’ of the state system (one reason it’s collapsing) or of a locally-based regional framework emerging. Everything is up for grabs, including control of individual states. The clashes over and between states will be understood by the populations of the region in different ways and will affect them in different ways; different actors will try out different ideologies and practices in order to mobilize support—whether that’s machine-gunning Yazidis in the name of the Caliphate, barrel-bombing cities in the name of Syrian or Arab unity, or, heaven help us, attempting to maintain a national or international dialogue for the sake of peace and democracy.

In the meantime, QN’s short and poetic article reminds us that mental and cultural geographies don’t depend only on the existence of a state authority, and aren’t formed only by violence.


810 thoughts on “Of Maps and Men

  1. Issa,

    Why do you call it “western light”. What’s “western” about it? I see where you’re going, but I take some exception to the characterization. But nothing that a swap of the terms western and universal wouldn’t fix.

    I also don’t have a problem with people who follow religion- as long as they treat it as a private/personal affair.

    Posted by Gabriel | October 2, 2014, 12:11 am
  2. Yes Darling 😃 2 weeks of catching up on sleep and then back in the soup in Basra for Business Development chores!

    Posted by Vulcan | October 2, 2014, 3:16 am
  3. Indigenous and residing in a foreign land!

    Posted by Badr | October 2, 2014, 3:24 am
  4. The great victory of Assad at the UN – SANA news

    Anyone who wants to claim universalism must get Wise King approval. Otherwise, it’s just another Assad victory at the UN

    Posted by Mustap | October 2, 2014, 3:19 pm
  5. Mustap, can you find out for us, since the kingdom of wisdom is leading the coalition bombing sorties and military planning, howcome they won’t bomb Assad’s forces? Or just drop a couple of bombs on his residence maybe?
    What is the wise one waiting for?

    Posted by Vulcan | October 3, 2014, 4:15 am
  6. Vulcan,

    Good question. Before ISIS was even a problem, I recall the Wise Theocracy begging the usual democracy to take care of Assad. We had this discussion. I kept asking why the Wise Theocrats were just sitting on their multi-billion dollar hardware w/o using it. Of course, I never got a reply worth a damn. This is the ME. No answers, just death.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 3, 2014, 1:28 pm
  7. What else could it be besides the wisdom of the wise king, whom we can never wise up to, dictating that it is unwise to do so at this stage! 😉

    Posted by Badr | October 3, 2014, 3:42 pm
  8. The bombing of Assad will begin shortly. You just have to be patient and trust the Wisdom of the King.

    After all, do you know better than the wise king? If your answer is no, as it should, then you know you need to shut up.

    The Wise King dictates. This is not a case of a DJ playing the song that you request. You listen to what is being played as the full moon seems to have figured out.

    Posted by Mustap | October 4, 2014, 4:15 pm
  9. The war which HA wanted to be fought in Syria is now officially taking place on Lebanese soil with 10 HA dead as a start.

    Isn’t this a good topic for QN to look at? Is he waiting till it happens in Beirut?

    Posted by Mustap | October 6, 2014, 9:31 am
  10. What happens in Beirut is none of your business.

    Posted by Ray | October 6, 2014, 11:05 am
  11. Actually IT IS MY business.

    But I don’t think it is any of your business mountain guy.

    Posted by Mustap | October 6, 2014, 11:26 am
  12. You obviously have some problem with mountains. Is it Vertigo?

    Posted by Ray | October 6, 2014, 11:40 am
  13. Not at all. But who wants to deal with gene embedded backwardness specific to your side of the mountain?

    Posted by Mustap | October 6, 2014, 11:52 am
  14. In order to keep track of this development, just in case QN becomes interested in the story, HA has just completed a redeployment of its beleaguered militia. They withdrew from the Syrian Asal al-Ward to Brital where the incursions took place in order to regroup and fortify.

    I guess it doesn’t make much military sense to leave the home front exposed and spread yourself soooooo thin.

    Posted by Mustap | October 6, 2014, 12:58 pm
  15. Looks like another resistance org is looking to place their population in harm’s way…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 7, 2014, 9:35 am
  16. just a reminder for those who are not OK with the islamic state in the levant and are OK with the jewish state in the levant… from few weeks ago.

    Posted by 3issa | October 7, 2014, 10:02 am
  17. …or the Islamic State of Palestine…or the Islamic State of Lebanon….who all manage to wage war for the fun of it, certainly not out of necessity.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 7, 2014, 10:53 am
  18. Us Mountain people of that side of the mountain see no problem with the Wise King building his highway through Syria into Turkey and hopefully onwards into Europe reaching his castle in Spain.

    Just not through Beirut. Thank You.

    Posted by Ray | October 7, 2014, 1:30 pm
  19. A few comments I want to make about recent events in the Middle East as they pertain to the discussions that have historically occurred on this blog:

    1) It wasn’t too long ago, in the “good ol’ days” (ie. before ISIS’s takeover of Mosul) when this blog seemed to be celebrating the “diglossic” nature of the Arabic language, and the insistence of the region’s inhabitants to “not write what they speak, and not speak what they write”. At the time, I came out with the opinion that this was confusing and inefficient, and an impediment to learning.

    Well, what do you know? Yesterday, a variety of Middle Eastern analysts on Twitter were mocking US military reports that seemed to suggest that “Kobani” and “Any Al Arab” were different places, when in the minds of these seasoned analysts they were one and the same place, except with two different names.

    This is precisely the type of situation that I was complaining about when we were talking about diglossic Arabic. I realize there’s the very complicating Kurdish/Arabic factor going on there, but still, the basic point here is this: If there is one place in Syria with two names that is causing confusion among non-Syrians, it’s not a non-Syrian failing, it is first and foremost a Syrian failing! These things should be nailed down very specifically, if for no reason other than to facilitate the very important matter of proper addressing!

    2) It also wasn’t too long ago when AIG, this blog’s resident Israeli demagogue, was pushing for a solution in the Middle East that seemed to involve setting up various regional enclaves or cantons along religious and/or sectarian identity lines. I’m not going to go back and read all his comments again, so I’m paraphrasing here with the “poetic license” of an imperfect memory, and I apologize if I’m misrepresenting his position in any way.

    But I do distinctly remember AIG very aggressively prosecuting his case, to the extent of charging QN with being “difficult to argue with”, to which QN very correctly pushed AIG back with counter-accusations of “delusions of omniscience”.

    AIG’s basic point seemed to be that democracies don’t work if people don’t trust each other, and since they can only trust their own kind, certain territories have to be purged and “ethnically cleansed” in order for democracies to thrive in the Middle East. AIG certainly cited Israel’s success in endorsement of his ideas, and also seemed to cite Kurdish success in self-governance in endorsement too.

    Now there were those of us at the time who could very obviously see the flaws in AIG’s argument, but didn’t say anything because frankly, bickering on this blog is so not worth the effort!

    For one thing, anyone who doesn’t mention massive Western military assistance as a contributing factor to Israel’s success in the Middle East is simply not being honest about the situation. This denial might be convenient for Israelis, but it’s not convenient for anyone who wants to emulate the Israeli model in the region but can’t rely on Western military promises of security.

    The problem with cantons and enclaves is that they can’t defend themselves either politically, economically or militarily. That’s the basic problem with AIG’s thesis. They will always chafe against, rely on and be potentially predated upon by larger neighbors. And as we’re seeing with the Kurdish regions of both Syria and Iraq, without the quick, large and effective deployment of foreign military assistance, these regions, at least in the Middle East, risk teetering on the brink of complete failure.

    Anyway, I’ve written enough and hopefully given my reader enough to chew on, so I’ll end here.

    Posted by Samer Nasser | October 8, 2014, 11:31 am
  20. We know that without making such a long comment.

    Israel is a parasitic entity. Every one knows that. So why make such a long argument?

    The only real success story is the one made by the Wise Kingdom. Do you doubt that?

    AIG can delude himself until hell freezes. Who cares?

    Posted by Mustap | October 8, 2014, 12:39 pm
  21. Here’s a dedication to the Wise one

    Posted by Vulcan | October 8, 2014, 2:09 pm
  22. This message has been brought to you by Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom

    More information on the “Wise” Kingdom:

    Saudi has not been a hotbed of technological innovation. The number of Saudi patents registered in the United States between 1977 and 2010 came to 382—less than twelve per year—compared to 84,840 patents for South Korea or 20,620 for Israel during that period.[28][46] Saudi hopes to increase technological innovation, particularly with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, and thus to stimulate the economy.

    As of 2008, roughly two thirds of workers employed in Saudi Arabia were foreigners, and in the private sector approximately 90%

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 8, 2014, 2:15 pm
  23. Just as it has been living as a parasite off the American tax payer since 1948, Israel is living as a technology-parasite stealing technologies from the US and other countries,

    In fact, history tells us that wherever Zios go, parasites are there in abundance.

    Most interesting was the announcement by a so-called Israel-based tech-parasite claiming to have pioneered automated auto navigation.

    I have this type of technology in my own German-made vehicle for the last year or so, even before anyone heard of this Zio-Tech-parasite.

    These Zios are so eager to sound like baloneys even at the risk of being exposed as nothing but sham.

    Posted by Mustap | October 8, 2014, 2:46 pm
  24. Today’s Keyword: Parasite (for those who have trouble with jooish nationalism;)

    Meanwhile people around the world and in the US continue to reap the benefits of Israeli technology, despite the trillions lost trying to shovel out the khara-producing ME …

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 8, 2014, 3:11 pm
  25. Even falafel, hummus and shawarma were claimed as zio inventions when the true owners of the land were eating this stuff for at least the last 5000 years.

    Jooish nationalism my butt. Zios eager to prove itself as real nation when in fact it doesn’t exist.

    In fact I once saw in an exhibition, zios claiming well known Palestinian arts (mostly handiwork and handicrafts) as Zio art. It looks like stealing the land is not enough for these parasites.

    How about stealing some Palestinian sperm and impregnate your Zio women?

    Posted by Mustap | October 8, 2014, 3:52 pm
  26. Mustap,

    I write at length because I want my argument to sustain the subsequent, mean-spirited attempt by you to bastardize it, make a mockery out of it and reduce it to the absurd, which I am always sure is coming!

    I am not going for conciseness here. I am going for as close to universal understanding of my position and complete handling of the subject as possible.

    If you don’t like my writing, don’t read it. It’s simple. If it’s too long for you, stop half-way through and take a nap. This blog is private property. The only person I have to impress around here is QN, and if he doesn’t like what I write, he can moderate the comments section and delete it. He only needs to do this once and then I will disappear forever.

    And yes, I doubt everything you say about your stupid “wise kingdom”. As far as I’m concerned, this “wise kingdom” shtick of yours is the verbal tic of a guy with compulsive tendencies and very poor impulse control. You’re banging everybody around the head with it and even getting other people to repeatedly say it, in the process turning what used to be an intelligent, sensitive, earnest blog into something akin to a Tourette’s Syndrome support group!

    Posted by Samer Nasser | October 8, 2014, 4:24 pm
  27. Listen Nasser,

    If you are not sure of intentions behind comments then you better keep your mouth shut.

    I don’t care about your comment. And it is NOT my intention to bastardize it. My intention is to get your loop holes from your STUPID comment and throw them back at the Zios. If you have problem with that, then that’s your problem. This is an open forum.

    Again, you clearly have an issue with the Kingdom( Of course the Wise Kingdom whether you say so or not) and the rest of the Gulf for some reason of your own. But I made it clear to you earlier, your issue will NEVER become my own issue. Finito… don’t even argue on this.

    So keep your mouth shut if you don’t understand why comments are made that way. Or at least ask for clarifications without going on a wild goose chase.

    We have enough idiots on hand, especially from the Zio camp We don’t need more.

    ايه العمى يعميك جايي تتفلسف علينا ما بايعنا بالمزاد

    Posted by Mustap | October 8, 2014, 4:45 pm
  28. مصطفى , ذكرتني بإمي لما قلتلي – العمى يعميك

    Posted by Samer Nasser | October 8, 2014, 5:33 pm
  29. Intolerance is the ME’s greatest gift to Mankind.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 8, 2014, 6:25 pm
  30. The mountaineering wise poodle is ankle biting again. Down boy!

    Posted by danny | October 8, 2014, 6:58 pm
  31. ايه الله يخليك لامك ويخليلاياك

    Posted by Mustap | October 8, 2014, 7:10 pm
  32. شكراً يا مصطفى. إن شاء اللّه إنت كمان تتوفق وأيامك تكون سعيدة. سامحني بس عربيّاتي مش كثير مناح

    Posted by Samer Nasser | October 8, 2014, 7:40 pm
  33. شو عربياتك مو مناح؟ عم تمزح؟ ايه سيبويه والحجاج مو قدك.

    Posted by Mustap | October 8, 2014, 9:50 pm
  34. That’s excellent way for your mullahs to start training in the swords parade, lally.

    It’s their only hope for getting taken seriously by world powers.

    I haven’t seen a mullah yet including the chief khamenei who can walk better than the four legged puppy that you mentioned.

    Go for it and sell them your brilliant idea. So far nothing seems to work for your head wrapped retards as far as getting the attention they’re craving and dying for.

    Posted by Mustap | October 8, 2014, 10:22 pm
  35. مشكلتي أنا إنو هون بأمريكا ما عندي أصحاب عرب وما بتيجيني مناسبات كثار أحكي بالعربي وبطّلت أسافر كثير عالعالم العربي. بقرأ جرائد عربية وبحضر التلفاز العربي عالإنترنت. لما أحاول أحكي لهجتي بتطلع كلها غلط وبتكركب كثير بين الفصحى والعامية. عندي كتب عربية هون بالبيت بس ما عندي وقت أقرأهم

    Posted by Samer Nasser | October 8, 2014, 10:43 pm
  36. Don’t worry about it. I went through a period similar to what you said and I thought I forgot Arabic. But it came back quickly once I met some Arabs. I too don’t meet Arabs here anymore, but I travel to Arab countries very often, at least pnce a year, but can’t last for more than two weeks at most.

    If you were born an Arab phone, you will remain Arab phone throughout.

    From what I see, your Arabic is perfectly understood.

    Posted by Mustap | October 8, 2014, 10:53 pm
  37. Thanks, dude. Yeah, it’s nice to put one’s Arabic through its paces every once in a while.

    Posted by Samer Nasser | October 8, 2014, 11:21 pm
  38. Palestine is looking for Foreign Investment. Give Generously.

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The new Palestinian unity government toured Gaza and held a Cabinet meeting there for the first time Thursday, aiming to assure donor countries that absolute Hamas control has ended and that it can lead the rebuilding of the war-battered territory.

    Still, the situation remains volatile. Hamas refuses to disband its security forces, even though it promises to support the new government of independent experts.

    Those security forces were in full view Thursday as the ministers inspected neighborhoods that were badly damaged in this summer’s 50-day war between Israel and Hamas.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 10, 2014, 11:03 am
  39. So file this under “interesting”:

    My local contemporary art museum, which I defer to for all matters art, design, culture and cool, is plodding along with its performing arts season that starts every year in the fall, and later this month, they’re hosting a Syrian singer from Ras Al Ayn in Al Hasaka for an evening performance.

    His name is Omar Souleyman and I was intrigued enough to look up some of his music videos on YouTube. I quickly decided “Hell, no!” on whether I would attend. After all, it wasn’t that long ago when I got snookered into sitting through a performance of Lebanese playwright/actor Rabih Mroue’s “Looking for a Missing Employee” which, with all due respect, was a frickin’ disaster!

    Anyway, in the process of doing my diligence, I came across this fantastically fun review of Omar Souleyman’s music, which just happened to be published in late 2010/very early 2011, right before the onset of the “Arab Spring” in the Middle East. It’s not perfect, mind you. It has its share of spelling errors throughout and I have no idea what the “AoE tache” referred to in the opening sentence is, but still, check it out for a laugh:

    Posted by Samer Nasser | October 10, 2014, 5:11 pm
  40. I f%&$ing love reading Samer’s posts!

    Posted by Gabriel | October 10, 2014, 10:38 pm
  41. Thanks Gabe, and I’m very glad to be of assistance. One of my goals here, especially on the weekends, is to be as subversively conceited, obnoxious and sophomoric as these guys:

    Posted by Samer Nasser | October 11, 2014, 1:43 pm
  42. Samer,

    I’m convinced I know you.

    The curiosity is killing me.

    Posted by Gabriel | October 11, 2014, 4:39 pm
  43. .. As for Posh Nosh, I think you’ve more than surpassed your goals! I think we can all describe your posts as posh nosh. And wonderfully delicious at that.

    Posted by Gabriel | October 11, 2014, 4:43 pm
  44. Gabriel,

    Chill out, dude! You’re creeping me out a little bit.

    I’m sorry but there’s no way I am going to divulge any more personal information here than I already have, and I definitely don’t want you guessing aloud. Frankly, it’s not safe. You shouldn’t be asking me to. I mean, I’m stupid but I’m not that stupid! Note that I am not asking anyone here to reveal more about themselves than they want to. Again, I don’t recommend it because it’s not safe. A name and a general back story should suffice, to slightly overcome the fact that anonymity warrants no trust whatsoever. But any more than that is just plain foolish, unless of course one already lives on the Internet and can be googled and contacted off-line like some of the professors who comment here (or at least used to) do.

    It really isn’t a big deal anyway. Maybe one day I’d have more of a web presence than hanging around here and you’d be able to search and contact me off-line through e-mail and then I’d respond to you and we’d have a private conversation. But today is not going to be that day, because I’m not equipped like that yet.

    Posted by Samer Nasser | October 11, 2014, 5:07 pm
  45. Oops! Gabe, I posted that before reading your ‘Posh Nosh’ compliment. Thanks a lot for that. Yes, I’m trying here! I have plans to scale up my web presence and do more writing and outreach-type stuff in the future but work and my personal life get in the way for now and swallow up all my time. I also need to get over my fear of how the Internet might blow up in my face. I’ll sort through all this stuff eventually, so just be patient! In the meantime, there are I think 9 Posh Nosh episodes on YouTube, so get cracking and watch them all! 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | October 11, 2014, 5:13 pm
  46. I didn’t ask you to divulge anything, otherwise I would have asked more prying questions. I could also look you up and send an email, but if I were wrong, of simply end up embarrassing myself. I’d much rather keep the question lingering and the curiosity festering!

    Posted by Gabriel | October 11, 2014, 7:41 pm
  47. Gabriel,

    Not to worry. We’ve been following this jihadist for a while. He lives a double life as a medical doctor.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 11, 2014, 8:15 pm
  48. AP,

    Just in case you’re being serious, I want to inform you that that poor doctor you linked to is definitely not me!

    Posted by Samer Nasser | October 11, 2014, 9:47 pm
  49. Mr. Nasser,

    Sorry. We must have had a glitch in our computer system. You both check out and we regret any inconvenience to you and your family.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 11, 2014, 10:04 pm
  50. Gabriel,

    Here’s your Saturday night consolation prize, a trippy, sublime and utterly original song by Lhasa de Sela, whose mother was Jewish Lebanese, with mesmerizing percussions and a magnificent accompaniment by Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf. Make sure to listen all the way through to the end:

    Posted by Samer Nasser | October 12, 2014, 12:10 am
  51. Trippy.

    Oh lord, I’m not sure I can do trippy. Certainly not on a Sunday morning.

    Must the prize be a consolation one? Subversively conceited seems an understatement! I love it!

    Anyways, given your affinity for British programming, and that you’re an eastern culture aficionado, I thought you may appreciate this, though I suspect you’ve come across it before. For some inexplicable reason, I associate the video with you.

    Posted by Gabriel | October 12, 2014, 12:02 pm
  52. Mustafa/Iceman,

    Sawed off any heads recently? All has been quiet on the ISIS front in recent days. That coupled with QN’s dry spell is forcing me and poor Sam to exchange YouTube videos.

    What’s the latest on the wise kingdom front?

    Posted by Gabriel | October 12, 2014, 12:08 pm
  53. Gabriel,

    First off, thanks a lot for sharing that! I really enjoyed it! To explain the association, perhaps you remember that I used to play second violin in an amateur orchestra “back home”. But I was never, ever this good! That smiling soloist kid with the keffiya around his neck was frickin’ brilliant!

    We used to do mostly holiday shows, so yeah, I’m very familiar with these pieces. I know Beethoven’s 1st, 2nd, 5th and 9th symphonies quite well, Pachelbel’s Canon of course which gets boring after a while, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons for sure, Handel’s Messiah, the typical stuff. I’m sure we did some Mozart and Bach but it was so long ago that I don’t remember which pieces exactly. We once did Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance, which was fun!

    Here’s the thing: I HATED practicing my violin in those days, because tuning the damn thing to the right pitch was always a struggle for me! I liked to play, but I hated to tune, and a violin has to be tuned before every sitting! Nothing in my youth was more frustrating than spending 20 minutes tightening 4 damn metal strings across a bridge, only to have them relax again shortly afterwards when wood slipped against wood! Aargh! Damn it!

    It was only years later, when I was in America, that I discovered digital tuners for guitars and violins. That was huge and made things so much easier for me, and my play improved tremendously within a short time, and practicing finally became fun instead of a tough slog. But it was years too late for my amateur orchestra days, which I remember with a humbling dose of embarrassment! Trust me, I was doing a whole lotta faking in those days, just to meet schedules and avoid catastrophe!

    Oh, and by the way, I also played the piano, but that was a far more private affair! Again, not nearly as well as I could have if I took it more seriously at the time. But alas, as the saying goes, “Youth is wasted on the young!” 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | October 12, 2014, 4:09 pm
  54. Well I should have written for some not so inexplicable ;).

    While on topic, I’m a huge fan of Claude Chalhoub. Not sure if you’ve come across his work.

    Posted by Gabriel | October 12, 2014, 5:13 pm
  55. Gabriel, Samer,

    Yes, your link is an Arabic version of Vivaldi ‘ s Four Seasons. I wonder where this was performed, and why the performers were wearing kaffiyas?

    Fyi, I took 10 yrs of violin lessons, but I eventually reached a plateau and became too frustrated to continue. It required a LOT of practicing.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 12, 2014, 5:19 pm
  56. AP,

    Gabriel had me exactly right as an Anglophile. I spent a few summers in London while growing up and developed a deep love for everything English, especially their comedy and their television which I think are way superior to what we have here in the United States. I love the fact that PBS and NPR syndicate some of their programming from the BBC.

    Which brings me to my quick guesses of answers to your questions. I didn’t look into it in too much detail, but I think this video was taken from a show called “Proms” that is broadcast by the BBC in England. From what I understand, it’s filmed in the Victoria and Albert Hall in London and is a concert series, a bit like “Austin City Limits” on PBS here in the US.

    As to why some of the players are wearing keffiyas, again I’d guess that they’re Palestinian students, probably from Ramallah or somewhere like that. From my experience, only Palestinians still wear keffiyas in settings like this.

    It’s no secret that classical music is in crisis. Our symphony orchestra here in the US where I live is so broke and so dysfunctional that I joke that they’d make millions from a reality show depicting how they struggle with everyone and everything for funding and good salaries.

    Basically, to spice up the genre, some classical music outfits are doing a lot of unorthodox things like this “fusion” composition that’s going on here, which to be honest with you I have mixed feelings towards. But then again, it’s been hundreds of years so maybe Vivaldi’s Four Seasons could do with some sprucing up and some re-interpretation, at the very least to keep things fresh and exciting, and the repeat customers/”cool kids” still coming back for more.

    Posted by Samer Nasser | October 12, 2014, 6:02 pm
  57. Samer,

    I have issues with the British. I find them rather cold and selfish. They also don’t have a great affinity for jews and jewish causes, but some do, mostly the minority British conservatives. OTOH, the are a freedom loving, western nation.

    I have deep love of classical music. My desire was to join a local orchestra, but this was not to be. Once in a while, we attend the BSO, and I’ve seen a few of my heroes, like Hillary Hann. Any violin soloist is a hero of mine. Here in Baltimore, there is fair to good support of the BSO it varies.

    Right now, I’m getting into mandolin, especially Vivaldi mandolin concertos. Do a youtube search for: avi avital vivaldi mandolin, and let me know what you think.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 12, 2014, 6:51 pm
  58. AP,

    Believe it or not, my mother’s maiden name is “Kayaleh” and she has an uncle, Habib, who fled Palestine at some point (don’t know exactly when) and set up the “Kayaleh Violin Academy” in Switzerland. I’ve never met him, but I do know he trained his own daughter, Laurence Kayaleh, to be the violin soloist she is today. You can google this stuff. It’s legit.

    It was precisely because of Habib and Laurence’s influence on my mom that I got stuck with a violin from a very young age. As hard as I tried to shake that damn thing off, like a dog fighting its collar, I couldn’t. 🙂

    Moving on, I actually know Baltimore quite well because I spent my 4 undergraduate years on the Homewood Campus of Johns Hopkins University. I even took violin lessons at the Peabody Preparatory. This was in the late 1990’s and I remember the city being very grim and very rough. It scared the sh*t out of me, to be honest! 🙂

    I was too young, dumb and poor to attend any BSO performances, but I did make it to the BMA (Baltimore Museum of Art) a few times, since it was so close to campus. Cool place …

    Posted by Samer Nasser | October 12, 2014, 8:05 pm
  59. Samer,

    If you were an undergrad at Hopkins, you’re most likely a “smarty pants”. It’s very hard to get accepted there. I got my masters at Hopkins, but for part – time masters students, the entrance requirements are not as strict.

    Baltimore has the reputation of being rough, and you have to know what parts of the city to avoid. OTOH, over the past decade, several parts of Downtown are being revitalized by young professionals. It’s really neat, and there is a lot to do in Baltimore. I had the opportunity to see Beethoven ‘ s 9th at the Peabody several years ago. One of my favorites.

    Now we just need to turn the tables on those pesky Royals.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 12, 2014, 8:37 pm
  60. Post-graduation, I’ve worked with a lot of Indians in the US-based medical device and tech sectors over the years, and there’s this joke that I tell them about my alma mater that always gets a laugh out of them:

    I say, “There’s a lot of diversity at Hopkins! You’ve got Indians from New Jersey, Indians from California, Indians from New York, Indians from India, Indians from the Arabian Gulf, … !” 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | October 12, 2014, 9:00 pm
  61. The medical device industry, seems to be growing, and the technology is improving the quality of life for a lot of people.

    Now let’s return to the topic of the Middle East, where thousands are dying prematurely from Algeria to Afghanistan.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 12, 2014, 9:59 pm
  62. Hey Cobra de l’Inde,

    You bought or sold any stocks lately or you’re still in the graveyard domain?

    The Wise King declared any pronouncements not bearing the royal insignia are by default null and void and can never be of a level universalis. He will issue official universal guidelines in order to deprive cobras of deceptive misduidance of the human species. Cobras can never re-enter bliss after such guidelines are made available.

    Posted by Mustap | October 13, 2014, 12:57 pm
  63. No. Absolutely not. I was looking for specific investment pointers. The cobra de l’Inde descriptor has failed me in my own personal financial planning.

    I certainly would not want to heed any pronouncements not bearing the royal insignia, which is why I ask you! The internet today is such a source of disinformation, I’d hate to be swept into a web of lies! You on the other hand have proven to be reliable and honest.

    So what’s the news on the levantine warfront? Between Turkey, Khizbollah, the Zio state, the great Satan himself, the wise kingdom, and the snakes of Persepolis, it’s all a haze!

    What’s going on?!

    Posted by Gabriel | October 13, 2014, 1:36 pm
  64. The Wise King is getting frustrated by the US incompetence who wants to lead from behind and always wants others to carry its burdens and blunders. The US always fails to own its own created problems and always seeks to offload upon others.

    There is a major major reassessment of where things are going. It is possible a royal decree with proper insignia will be issued declaring the US a terminally deceased entity literraly and figuratively notwithstanding the west african plague now rampant in the Southeast of the US.

    Posted by Mustap | October 13, 2014, 2:05 pm
  65. Mustafa,

    There’s a couple of narratives going on. One that you are advancing here that suggests the US wants to lead from behind.

    The other is that it is an instigating actor. People seem to be asking who this ISIS organization is. Are they being supported or perhaps more correctly allowed to grow to create a bogeyman to advance imperial interests.

    What is the view of the Wise king on these matters? Is there a Zionist western plot driving wedge between the people of the Levant? And are the events unfolding that plan in action?

    Posted by Gabriel | October 13, 2014, 2:13 pm
  66. But why, why doesn’t the Wise King put an end to the tyranny of this terminaly deceased entity and lead us all to the blissful shores of Sauditopia. Do tell us, oh erudite messenger.

    Posted by Vulcan | October 13, 2014, 2:24 pm
  67. Well, Indie ale, I also developed my own theory which is finding acceptance among higher ups:

    The core ISIS is the ex-Iraq (Saddam era) army, reconstituting itself as ISIS or ISIL or whatever. It is also encouraging foreigners, preferrably, westerners to join ranks. It’s not clear at this point in time if the imperialists are facilitating this recruitment, but since Zio-Joos are not too far away in the background in the form of neo-cons and evangelites, it’s safe to assume that this is the case.

    Compounding all of the above is the deliberate attempt of incompetent US admins going back all the way to idiot Bush to create a so-called new Iraq army from scratch which cost hundreds of billions of dollars in training and armaments designed mainly to keep the military industrial complex in the US floating. In truth training was handled by private contractors, such as the infamous Blackwater (A.K.A. Halliburton Oil) with huge kick backs going straight to the pockets of the likes of Cheney and other stakeholders. In fact, there is no such thing as a new Iraqi army except on paper just in order to keep imaginary payrolls flowing to the pockets of sitting-at-home officers. In other words, a presumed soldier gets paid half the salary to stay at home or to do another job while his presumed superior officer gets the other half while also staying at home.

    I truly believe you should he in Iraq and not a l’Inde. You could be a soldier, an officer pr private contractor. Ypu could make a lot more money and you don’t need to be in the graveyard. The old Wild West of the US is nothing compared to what’s going on in there right now.

    Posted by Mustap | October 13, 2014, 2:44 pm
  68. AP

    For some background on the performance:

    Be warned in advance though, the UK Guardian has a reputation of trying to paint the Palestinians in a more favorable light. A travesty of epic proportions. This particular ensemble was formed by the late Edward Said, who has spearheaded some pretty good initiatives. Yes I suppose it’s possible to do some good despite writing some Allah-awful tomes. He’d also formed the east west divan orchestra with Daniel Barenboim. I read somewhere they performed in Abu Dhabi recently, or are in the process of doing so. A curious turn off events as I thought Israelis can’t travel to the gulf countries.

    Which brings us back- full circle- to the topic of wise kingdoms, and Mr dithers himself (Mustap). Just as heads are being sawed off miles away, bombs falling and destroying heritage in Syria and Iraq. With Gaza bombed back to some prehistoric period… With imams spewing all sorts of antisemitic drivel from the pulpits and in religious programming channels… The venerable sheikh of Abu Dhabi is playing host to an Arab/Israeli orchestra.

    It’s an art to play both sides of the field and remain afloat. Maybe this bodes well for the Israelis… That Muatap and the wise kingdom may be closeted Jew lovers after all!

    Posted by Gabriel | October 13, 2014, 2:47 pm
  69. Mustap,

    Are you sending me to Iraq to get my head sawed off!

    I am no soldier material! I’d rather be sitting on the toilet suffering bouts of post-curry diarrhea than spend time in Iraq!

    Besides that, thanks for your thoughts.

    Posted by Gabriel | October 13, 2014, 2:53 pm
  70. Anything I can do to help.

    Posted by Mustap | October 13, 2014, 3:22 pm
  71. OTOH, I can’t seem to understand what this man is trying to say,

    In other words, was the so-called Arab nationalism the lie he’s referring to (makes sense in my opinion), or is it all these conspiracy he’s alluding to?

    Or may be everything was a lie. GWB was full of lies. Just so things are clear.

    Posted by Mustap | October 13, 2014, 5:40 pm
  72. Gabriel,

    I heard about Daniel Baremboim’s efforts with Palestinian musicians years ago, and I applaud him for that. Music can’t hurt anyone, and anything that promotes peace is sorely needed.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 13, 2014, 8:49 pm
  73. Since we’re talking geopolitical events and music, here’s a nice mix

    Posted by Vulcan | October 14, 2014, 8:26 am

    Here is the link on the performance in Abu Dhabi.

    Mustap, here’s a question for you. The orchestra has Israelis in its membership, I don’t see any noise on the web on the fact.

    Given the hoopla that’s created by various people when Arabs and israelis meet in sporting events, or pageants… What do you suppose happened there?

    Posted by Gabriel | October 14, 2014, 5:28 pm
  75. Vulcan,

    I tried to focus on the geopolitical and artistic merits of the video, but my mind kept drifting to naughty thoughts!

    Posted by Gabriel | October 14, 2014, 5:30 pm
  76. An Israeli will NEVER be allowed in Abu Dhabi in the name playing so-called misic.

    Sheikh Zayed will not allow it. The Sheikh and his wise collegue the King of SA are well aware that Israelis are desperately trying to gain legitimacy by any means no matter how cheap it may be.

    They have to eat their hearts out. They are not wanted and their music is not appreciated.

    Posted by Mustap | October 14, 2014, 7:06 pm
  77. It seems the concert took place earlier this year. What happened? How did it slip through the cracks? Did the UAE authorities not know they were hosting an Israeli?

    Posted by Gabriel | October 14, 2014, 7:35 pm
  78. By the way, I think sheikh zayed is six feet under. The current ruler is sheikh khalifa.

    Do you think his dad is spinning in his grave?

    Posted by Gabriel | October 14, 2014, 7:38 pm
  79. It diesn’t matter. Like father like son. No Israeli will set foot in the Gulf. It’s possible they went in as US citizens or something else.

    Steps are now taken to close this loop hole. Dual citizen will be scrutinized. No Israeli will ever get through.

    They are not wanted.

    Be careful of of rumors. These Israehellites lie through their teeth just to gain propaganda.

    As a general rule, an Israehellite when s/he speaks is usually lying.

    Posted by Mustap | October 14, 2014, 9:20 pm
  80. Mustap,

    The article I linked acknowledges that Barenboim is Israeli. And the web address contains .ae typical of UAE websites.

    So I can only assume he didn’t sneak in with a dual nationality.

    What do you suppose happened. Is this one of the manifestations of the Wise kingdoms?

    Posted by Gabriel | October 14, 2014, 11:18 pm
  81. He couldn’t have passed through customs as Israeli.

    He may have gone in with an Argentinian passport.

    That’s the problem with these Israhelites. They always lie through their teeth and even when it comes to passports.

    The problem will be dealt with and there’ll be no more loopholes.

    Posted by Mustap | October 15, 2014, 12:25 am
  82. I think the west should also follow and not let Arab scumbags like you to get past their imigration with acquired western country passports.

    Posted by Vulcan | October 15, 2014, 3:26 am
  83. I think you don’t think. So why pretend that you think?

    Posted by Mustap | October 15, 2014, 9:19 am
  84. Mustap

    As I said, there was clearly no lying required in this case. No one “snuck in” through lies and deceit into the country.

    It may be that they entered with other passports, but you can not seriously suggest that a concert was held in the Emirates palace hotel by an orchestra led by one of the most famous pianists/conductors in the world without the Emirati authorities knowing about i .

    So what happened?

    And you say the “loopholes” will be closed. Are you actively working to close them?

    Posted by Gabriel | October 15, 2014, 3:28 pm
  85. If you go in with an argetinian passport and with a valid visa you can enter of course.

    Now, the issue of lying is different. Israehelites are liars as a genral rule.

    As for the loopholes, I am aware that they are being actively closed. There will be no duals with an Israhell connection allowed into any Gulf country.

    They are not wanted, their music is not appreciated, their products are rejects and they simply will be kicked away if they turn up.

    Zero tolerance policy is in effect

    Posted by Mustap | October 15, 2014, 5:24 pm
  86. That’s the problem with these Israhelites. They always lie through their teeth and even when it comes to passports.

    Yes, those sneaky joos are the only people the world who hold dual citizenship;) As if this was something illegal or a “lie”…

    I had a blast in Kuwait and Abu Dhabi. Lucky for me, they don’t put my religion on my passport.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 15, 2014, 10:03 pm
  87. Hmm

    Well Qatar seems to have closed a loophole…

    A couple of years back. Still apparently they invited orchestra 4 times.

    Are you sure the music isn’t appreciated? Are the Gulfies just inviting the orchestras willy nilly?

    Posted by Gabriel | October 16, 2014, 1:56 am
  88. Speaking of “lies”, it looks like WMDs were found in Iraq after all.

    GWB and his administration were spot on, and in retrospect, the US should have kept permanent military bases in Iraq. Just like the bases we created in Germany, Italy and Japan, only that military bases in Iraq are even more necessary.

    Nice to know that Israelis aren’t allowed into some of the utopian arab and muslim states. I’ve been to Kuwait and the UAE, and I know they aren’t missing a whole lot. I also applaud the Gulf States for pledging billions of dollars to help the brave Palestinians as they continue to show the world all the good things they do with blank checks and charity.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 16, 2014, 7:28 am
  89. So, you just proved what I said with your rag-tag Akhbar mouthpiece.

    Besides, why do you defend these Israehelite liars? You have affinity with them, go and shove your bonehead up their asses. Who cares?

    Posted by Mustap | October 16, 2014, 8:03 am
  90. AP

    Your posts are going into moderation because you’re misspelling your email address.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | October 16, 2014, 8:57 am
  91. Elias,

    Thanks. It seems I can only post from my PDA. My work and home desktops aren’t allowing my posts through. The username and passwords are all correctly spelled. Perhaps I should have my email reset? The email is obsolete and cannot be accessed.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 16, 2014, 9:50 am
  92. AP

    If the email is obsolete, then yes: let’s replace it with a new one. You’ve been using that one since 2007 (when I used to moderate over at Syria Comment)…

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | October 16, 2014, 10:02 am
  93. Ok. Please reset my email to:

    Please use this email if you wish to contact me. I’ll test it out once you say it’s reset. Thx.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 16, 2014, 10:27 am
  94. Should be fine.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | October 16, 2014, 10:35 am
  95. Not sure if you noticed, but here is the direct link to the NYT report. Pretty eye-opening …

    (let’s see if this gets posted)

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 16, 2014, 11:18 am
  96. Mustap,

    I’m just stating the obvious.

    The orchestra played in Qatar on two occasions. They did not that one time because there may have been some fight going on.

    Are you out of touch with the gulf kingdoms and whether or not they are interested in that music?

    And why are these gulf kingdoms clamoring to build guggenheims and louvres.

    You’re beginning to sound more like that ragtag alakhbar paper and less than the wise and pragmatic kings of the gulf

    Posted by Gabriel | October 16, 2014, 2:15 pm
  97. Building museums is not the same like appreciating zio music.

    I know first hand zio music in not appreciated in the gulf.

    So stop acting like a brain washed zio.

    Also stop arguing just for the sake of argument. You’re becoming too obnoxious.

    Posted by Mustap | October 16, 2014, 10:47 pm
  98. I didn’t realize that Vivaldi, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, etc wrote “zio” music.

    And given that the zios are typically such patrons of the arts, there isn’t much difference in the example.

    As for the East West divan orchestra, it has performers from all Arab countries. Are you suggesting those fiddlers are hidden zios?

    Posted by Gabriel | October 17, 2014, 12:01 am
  99. Gabriel,

    It is very difficult in life to get around the zio influences. This is why jihad and killing zio-influenced muslims is so important. Just ask Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 17, 2014, 7:20 am
  100. Weird but True Resistance NewZ

    The brave warrior of Hamas has checked his daughter into an Israeli hospital…,7340,L-4581806,00.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 20, 2014, 9:52 pm
  101. Declining oil prices. Finally!

    How this phenomena is now happening to be taking place is an inverse paradox.

    Posted by Ray | October 25, 2014, 12:27 pm
  102. Supply and Demand Ray. When Sunnis and Shiites get mad at each other, they flood the markets with oil to decrease revenues and hurt the more fragile economies.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 25, 2014, 5:47 pm
  103. Israeli president acknowledges Kafr Qassam atrocity…,7340,L-4584353,00.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 26, 2014, 10:19 am
  104. AP,

    Good for the prez! As far as the oil prices are concerned…why the racist comment! It the Joos silly!

    Posted by danny | October 26, 2014, 6:00 pm
  105. Danny,

    I suppose if Israel’s security wasn’t tested on a daily basis by racists like Hamas, the PA, HA, Baathist Syria, and the theocracies of Iran and ISIS, I wouldn’t be as hostile. It is hard for me to be as forgiving as the Israeli president in this sour atmosphere.

    The oil issue only underscores the myth that there is (or was) an oil shortage, which we were led to believe by Jimmah Carter and OPEC back in the 70s.

    When OPEC is united, they turn off the spigot. When there’s disunity, like today, they turn it on and wide open.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 26, 2014, 9:58 pm
  106. As Tripoli proceeds, is Lebanese unity building around the LAF taking on the salafists? How successful are the efforts to gin up sectarian hate in order to encourage “Sunni” sedition by recruiting young martyrs for Daesh? I see more promotion of this meme by the Western media and their go-to “experts” than in the local reports.

    What is the % of Sunni fighters in the LAF?

    Coastal city Aleppo simply cannot be allowed to fall into Daesh hands. Too bad that political correctness dictates that the full forces of Lebanese fighters can’t be openly employed to do what they do best. Yet.

    Day 2 or 3?:

    “After pleas from residents and mediation by clerics, the army allowed thousands of civilians who had been caught in the crossfire for hours to flee Bab al-Tebbaneh.

    The AFP journalist on the spot described chaotic scenes as people of all ages left their ravaged neighbourhood.

    Many of the women walked out in their pyjamas, crying as they and the men were searched by army and intelligence troops.

    Men carried out children and elderly people too weak to walk.

    Five wounded civilians and dozens of people suffering from illness were evacuated in Red Cross ambulances.

    Many went to stay with relatives. Others were put up in schools, which the authorities said would be closed on Monday, along with universities, because of the violence.

    It is unclear how long the informal humanitarian truce will last, and the army has said it has no intention on letting up on the fight.

    “We are going through with this operation to the end,” a military source said.”

    Sounds like “Bring it on” to me.

    May they prevail.

    Posted by lally | October 26, 2014, 11:59 pm
  107. OK. Who in the hell from the Daesh cadres employs this manner of speech to describe their war crimes? Doesn’t sound too Chechen to me…..

    “…forced to bring closure”? Who wrote this? It sounds like the doublespeak employed by professional mouthpieces in defense of whoring celebs/politicos and/or atrocities committed by the State. Orwell would be impressed.

    “We warn the Lebanese army against any military escalation targeting Sunnis in Tripoli,” the Al-Nusra statement said.

    “We call on it to lift its siege and accept a peaceful solution, or else we will be forced in the coming hours to bring closure to the issue of the soldiers we are holding hostage, given that they are prisoners of war.”

    The Al-Qaeda affiliate initially threatened to start executing its prisoners from 0800 GMT but then issued a second statement extending the deadline to 1200 GMT.

    “At that time the execution can still be postponed or cancelled if the army agrees” to our demands, the later statement said.

    The Lebanese public is subjected to much more direct threats to their captured ones. What are the chances that more of the public executions of Lebanon’s soldier sons will incite great waves of sentiment to appease the Daesh or alternatively, to crush them?

    Stay tuned…..

    Posted by lally | October 27, 2014, 12:48 am
  108. “Coastal city Aleppo ….”??? Check the geography…

    Posted by danny | October 27, 2014, 7:46 am
  109. Mustap(ha),

    What’s your take on the sudden paradoxical 30% dip in oil prices?

    Is the Wise King manning up to Putin?

    Posted by Ray | October 27, 2014, 10:00 am
  110. Are you thinking of going into the oil biz?

    Posted by Mustap | October 27, 2014, 10:45 am
  111. Aren’t you in it?

    Posted by Ray | October 27, 2014, 10:55 am
  112. LOL.


    Posted by lally | October 27, 2014, 10:57 am
  113. Well, yeah. But, are you in or planning on going in?

    Posted by Mustap | October 27, 2014, 11:06 am
  114. Betting on 70 and counting.

    Posted by Ray | October 27, 2014, 11:13 am
  115. Gabby….When you have a moment…Mustapha and the Iceman same profession? Another coincidence lol. From Bin Ladens to Bush to Abu Bakr el Baghdadi…

    Posted by danny | October 27, 2014, 12:13 pm
  116. Danny said to Gobra blah blah blah……

    Posted by Mustap | October 27, 2014, 2:36 pm
  117. Danny….recall this in reply to Samer?:

    “Don’t worry about it. I went through a period similar to what you said and I thought I forgot Arabic. But it came back quickly once I met some Arabs. I too don’t meet Arabs here anymore, but I travel to Arab countries very often, at least pnce a year, but can’t last for more than two weeks at most.

    If you were born an Arab phone, you will remain Arab phone throughout.

    From what I see, your Arabic is perfectly understood.

    POSTED BY MUSTAP | OCTOBER 8, 2014, 10:53 PM”

    Does this line up with the Iceman’s CV?

    Posted by lally | October 27, 2014, 3:12 pm
  118. Lally the resident Daesh lies a lot. Not only he has not forgotten his Arabic; he is a devout wahabi who only believes in his Law… Don’t believe in every sentence it writes…It is totally Ice sister!!

    Posted by danny | October 27, 2014, 3:23 pm
  119. Well Danny, he actually said he thought that I am fluent in Arabic………which made me wonder about his own fluency….)

    Posted by lally | October 27, 2014, 3:48 pm
  120. Danny said to lally there is no limit on how idiotic a Geagea puppy can be….

    blah blah blah…..

    lally concurs…. blah blah blah….

    Posted by Mustap | October 27, 2014, 4:10 pm
  121. Lally the daesh is broken down and melted away…He is in a KSA state of wiser mind. Poor sucker is seeing his great aviators’ accomplishments against itself (ISIL)…It has been broken down to three words. blah blah blah…Poetic. 😛

    Posted by danny | October 27, 2014, 4:34 pm
  122. Again, a pathetic puppy of the mountains is desperately craving for attention.

    Sorry pal, go find your daily K9 bones somewhere else. Check with Geagea. He may have some left overs.

    Posted by Mustap | October 27, 2014, 5:14 pm
  123. …Pathetic!

    Posted by danny | October 27, 2014, 5:46 pm
  124. This one is for the resident no life Zionist

    It looks like solid evidence of an apartheid state. Forget for one second that an anti Israel person submitted that link for your attention, and read through it a little bit. Just pretend it is an Arab who is ok with the Zionist entity who sent you this.

    What do you think then ?

    And yes just in case, evil backward towel heads countries in the region are worse bla bla bla…

    Posted by 3issa | October 30, 2014, 3:49 pm
  125. You Guys and Girls should follow @WalidJoumblatt on Twitter. He joined yesterday and he’s making for very interesting reading.

    Posted by Ray | October 30, 2014, 5:17 pm
  126. One Example of Tweesa’s Obsession NewZ

    Apartheid? The GOI has no right to fund an organization that doesn’t recognize the government but only it’s money. The US doesn’t fund jihadist organizations and neither does Israel. But then again, freedom of speech is always upheld in Israel unlike the rest of the backward ME.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 30, 2014, 9:17 pm

    … and Paradise of Assad, Saddam, Ahmadinejad, Hariri, Mubarak, Maliki etc, etc

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 30, 2014, 9:22 pm
  128. QN,

    Is there a way you can stop picking on me with is “awaiting moderation” BS?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 30, 2014, 9:39 pm
  129. Dear Akbar Palace

    No one is picking on you. You somehow keep managing to forget what your email address is, which is why your comments go into moderation. I then have to go and clear it up for you. You’re welcome.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | October 31, 2014, 8:20 am
  130. i sense some hostility.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 31, 2014, 10:39 am
  131. I sense a law suit for alleged anti semitism

    Posted by 3issa | October 31, 2014, 2:25 pm
  132. Threesa,

    What anti-semitism R U talking about? Professor Elias is the most upstanding person/owner on this blog and has not even once committed himself to anti-semitism. Does that make him a Zionist lackey? Muslims are killing muslims (Egypt) because they represent governments that have relations with Israel. Why don’t you raise a finger to denounce such backwardness?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 31, 2014, 2:48 pm
  133. The apartheid regime occupying Palestine will come to an end (exactly like in South Africa) and only a fool would discuss Arab / Muslim issues with a zionist thug.

    Posted by 3issa | October 31, 2014, 3:54 pm
  134. Thank you Thweesa for that interesting discussion on racism.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 31, 2014, 4:13 pm
  135. Hey Palace…go look up the sicarii. They are a part of the tribal tradition that is not spoken and no wonder.

    So, is everyone enjoying #chickenshitgate ?

    What I gleaned from years cruising the Israeli media is that his fellow citizens have long shared that opinion amongst themselves. Some former Generals consider him to be messianic and a danger to the state. Given that the Atlantic scoop included the claim that there is WH chatter that he is “afraid” to attack Iran, “preventively” of course, I begin to wonder if there isn’t a hint of an American-led campaign to taunt bibi’s manhood into going for Iran.

    Another Israeli-held perception is that the power wielded by Sara the !st Lady surpasses even that of Queen Nancy Reagan. She’s a real b-buster:

    (translated from the original dialect):

    “Which Has @BarakRavid · 8h 8 hours ago
    The American John Kerry called the Sarah Netanyahu, expressed his reservations about the use of the pejorative moniker Chickenshit against him stating that it represents the position of the Government.
    0 replies 2 1 favorite retweets
    Reply Retweet2 Favorite1”

    I wonder what she is demanding as tribute.

    Posted by lally | October 31, 2014, 11:11 pm
  136. What I gleaned from years cruising the Israeli media…


    You could also glean something from the Israeli electorate (which isn’t a safe haven of liberal “Yaffe nefesh”), and that is BB has been the most popular PM since David Ben Gurion. Another election win could put him at No. 1.

    I glean much from the Arab media using a website called MEMRI, but that usually causes nausea after a few minutes.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | November 1, 2014, 10:24 am
  137. Looking forward to regaining Republican control of the Senate and putting an end to the worst president in US history.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | November 1, 2014, 10:29 am
  138. Lally,

    Now that Obama has fulfilled his Zionist duty, get ready to shift your focus to neoconservatives, christians zionists and the 20% of conservative jews now that they represent the majority of the US electorate.

    You had 6 years of Barack Hussein Obama. Now it’s time to face reality.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | November 1, 2014, 11:01 pm
  139. Worthy of a QN blog post.

    Will the real Walid please stand up?


    Walid Joumblatt
    Now allow me to stop .i have to check my mail and I am having a dinner with Chebli Mallat at Toto .excellent pizza
    Reply Retweet Favorite

    9:01 AM – 2 Nov 2014

    Posted by lally | November 2, 2014, 1:54 pm
  140. When I said that this blog hosts the shallowest commentators there is in blogosphere people got surprised. Look what lally is looking for in a post by QN!

    Can there be any shallower?

    Wait a minute. May be lally prefers QN not to to write about the Iranian Rihana executed by the mullahs because she was defending her self.

    Posted by Mustap | November 2, 2014, 6:58 pm
  141. Mustapha,

    Aren’t we all just simply Lebanese?

    Posted by Ray | November 3, 2014, 1:52 pm
  142. What’s you stance on Women’s rights, Mustapha?

    You are adamant on what they should be in Iran … but none have the right to say what they should be in the Wise Kingdom.

    Posted by Ray | November 3, 2014, 2:41 pm
  143. You obviously have issues I would not recommend you take up with your local Imam, personally, on Fridays.

    Posted by Ray | November 3, 2014, 2:50 pm
  144. لك تقبرك امك شو فهمان

    Posted by Mustap | November 3, 2014, 5:01 pm
  145. Exactly one month ago and counting, “Mustap” ,who previously appeared first as “Visitor” then as “Heads-up” on “Syria Comment” before being banned twice from commenting there, mentioned that:

    “The bombing of Assad will begin shortly. You just have to be patient and trust the Wisdom of the King.”

    Surely whenever the wise King by his wisdom decides that aerial bombardment of the Assad regime is wise, he shall have it initiated without the President (you know who), or shall he not!

    Posted by Badr | November 4, 2014, 2:56 pm
  146. I don’t know what you’re talking Full Moon.

    But trusting the Wise King is an absolute given, no doubts Abdu ut it. If that’s what you mean.

    What is this Syriacomment? Is it the same as OklahomaVomit?

    Posted by Mustap | November 4, 2014, 9:18 pm
  147. Bad day for America today.

    Posted by Mustap | November 5, 2014, 8:42 am
  148. Bad Day in Saudi Arabia

    Some people in the Wild Kingdom got killed. Were the perpetrators freedom fighters or terrorists? Do they have a grievance? Did someone get caught in a roadblock or was prevented from voting?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | November 5, 2014, 8:57 am
  149. Akbar

    Your email address on file is

    Please use that one.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | November 5, 2014, 9:02 am
  150. Proof there is a G-d: Maryland elected a Republican Governor.


    Posted by Akbar Palace | November 5, 2014, 9:16 am
  151. People have spoken! That’s democracy. Long live the US of A
    People are randomly gunned down by wise sectarian KSA thugs…Wisdom in full display!

    Posted by danny | November 5, 2014, 9:19 am
  152. The drop in oil prices is not a matter of supply and demand.

    The cost of extracting it is dirt cheap. Especially in Saudi and Iraq.

    The drop in Oil prices is a Saudi initiative aimed at directly harming the Iranian regime funding the Assad regime and Hizbollah and other Shi’ite religious driven programs as a first step.

    It also aids the USA, who are the primary recipients of these lowered oil prices directly by the KSA, to increase the heat on Putin.

    China will not complain of lower oil prices.

    Posted by Ray | November 5, 2014, 12:14 pm
  153. I agree.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | November 5, 2014, 12:48 pm
  154. When the value of Oil will dip down to about $0/barrel the world will be united in a correct way forward.

    Posted by Ray | November 5, 2014, 12:55 pm
  155. The price of oil is being determined solely on the basis of the law of supply and demand. The Wise Kingdom is making sure that the market is well balanced in that regard.

    The US has been fracking a lot of rocks into crude lately. But it’s not making any profit at current prices. Their cost of fracking is about $75 a crude.

    Don’t expect green back hungry US businesses to tolerate the current environment of descending prices. So as everything that goes up will come down so does everything which goes down will eventually go up.

    The next round of prices going up will be about $130-150. That’s when the US fracke s will start stashing their greenbacks in the Cayman or Switzerland. Enjoy filling up while it lasts if they ever decide to pass the buck so far down to your tank.

    So, long live the Wise Kingdom…. always.

    On a different note GOP’s in house and senate may have a good effect on north of 49. Keystone is now in the picture.

    Invest north of 49.

    Posted by Mustap | November 6, 2014, 11:56 am
  156. QN,

    I’d like to order a copy Omar Khouri’s Hassan Nasrallah and Bashar Assad paintings. I like his impressionistic style and I admire his subjects. I think these two paintings would make a wonderful addition to our living room.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | November 6, 2014, 3:27 pm
  157. Walid Beyk discovers the internet.

    Posted by Ray | November 7, 2014, 9:11 am
  158. The Saudis are finished and they know it.

    Posted by Ray | November 9, 2014, 1:19 pm
  159. And by that I mean the Royal family, off course.

    Posted by Ray | November 9, 2014, 1:22 pm
  160. They had a good run … but you can only fool people for that long.

    Just ask AIG.

    Posted by Ray | November 9, 2014, 4:40 pm
  161. “The Supreme Ragamuffin Speaks

    “The only means of bringing Israeli crimes to an end is the elimination of this regime,” Khamenei wrote. “And of course the elimination of Israel does not mean the massacre of the Jewish people in the region. The Islamic Republic has proposed a practical and logical mechanism for this to international communities.”

    Khamenei accuses “the fake Zionist regime” of committing acts of “infanticide, homicide, violence, and iron fist while boasts about it blatantly [sic].”

    Israel’s enemies must commit to “armed resistance” until Israel is eliminated, Khamenei says.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | November 10, 2014, 4:52 pm

    Posted by danny | November 11, 2014, 9:02 am
  163. From Vice News; The Islamic State and Hezbollah Fight For Lebanon;

    A few quibble aside (are Sunnis really the majority?)a fairly fair and balanced look at the situation confronting Lebanon. They did a good job all things considered.

    Posted by lally | November 11, 2014, 2:30 pm
  164. Hezbollah must be destroyed, because,

    Also because Hassan Nasrallah’s false teeth are very conspicuous and veru obvious when he speaks… Very poor dental work. 😬

    Posted by Mustap | November 11, 2014, 6:50 pm
  165. Reading the arab press, one would think all of the arab world’s problems were Joos and Israel…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | November 12, 2014, 9:49 am
  166. Your honeymoon at the pump may not last long. Actually, it may end sooner than many anticipate. US oil frackers need a minimum of $80 a crude to break even. Also, fracking wells have very steep production profiles, which means production peaks and then dries up as soon as the well starts producing.

    Did the US shoot itself in the foot trying to domesticate czar Putin?

    Long live the Wise Kingdom…..

    Posted by Mustap | November 12, 2014, 2:05 pm
  167. Plunging and plunging.

    Posted by Ray | November 13, 2014, 1:51 pm
  168. Yeah, this idea that the Saudis are somehow overproducing oil to manipulate the price down and spite Iran and the Russians is absolutely ludicrous.

    The truth is the Saudis don’t have the spare capacity to even attempt that kind of maneuver. The last I checked, Saudi oil output stood at around 10 million barrels per day. They have capacity to increase that on an intermittent, short-term basis to maybe 11 million, which makes them useful for supply crisis management, but it doesn’t change the dynamics of the global oil market all that much, which again the last I checked stood at around 95 million barrels per day.

    Promises of sustained increases in Saudi oil production have been all talk and no action. They keep saying they will increase to north of 12 million, but I don’t think anyone believes them anymore. Like quantum computing, nanotechnology, graphene or carbon nano-tube mass-manufacturing, hyper-efficient solar panels, and fusion energy, these are engineering promises that have been “a few years away” for decades to the extent that there is a lot of jaded cynicism in technical circles that they will ever even arrive. 🙂

    From what I understand, everybody in the Arabian Gulf, including Iran, is tapped out and rapidly maturing, at least conventionally. The only spare capacity that theoretically exists is in Iraq. Again, the last I checked, Iraq produced only around 2 million barrels a day, less than Iran’s 4 million or so and even less than the UAE’s 2.5 million. But Iraq can theoretically be a 10 million barrel a day country, just like Saudi Arabia. Obviously it needs stability and security first before it can even dream of developing the necessary infrastructure to bring this oil to market, which is why right now Iraqis can’t deliver on any of their production schedules or promises. They are just a giant X-factor in the market.

    On the supply side, it was much easier to analyze the oil market back when all production was “conventional”. But in this exotic era of “unconventional” production, which includes shale fracking, deep-sea and arctic drilling, bio-fuels (via corn, switchgrass or synthetic yeasts), subsea methyl-hydrates and coal-to-liquid transformations, you have to be a fully committed technical expert just to be able to tell what the heck is going on! Some of this contemporary stuff makes even the Canadian tar sands look positively boring!

    On the demand side, the story of expensive oil is really about developing market growth, with China leading the way as the roaring, developing behemoth doggedly determined to arrive at the elite club as soon as possible.

    But there is more to it than just supply and demand. There is a significant speculative aspect to oil prices as well, which is driven by excess liquidity being created by the world’s central banks to keep the global economy humming along, despite all its inefficiencies.

    To hear Janet Yellen, the new chairman of the US Federal Reserve Bank, tell it, she will keep delivering loose, “reflationary” policies until the US job market shows signs of improvement. So the constraints to endless liquidity seem to be employment and inflation. Basically, as long as inflation is under control, the markets will keep being goosed until job numbers improve.

    The problem here is that, putting labor productivity increases aside, wage growth is inflationary and so in a very perverse way the market never wants to deliver it, since it’ll be a sure-fire way to put an end to the liquidity party. So the market will drive that liquidity into asset bubbles instead, which aren’t as inflationary as wage growth, since far fewer people financially benefit from speculative asset bubbles.

    The commodity markets, while huge, are far smaller than the bond and currency markets (which sadly are already primed to the hilt as anyone who owns a certificate of deposit earning marginally over 0% interest annually can attest), so they are naturally much more volatile. Their valuations swing wildly to both the up- and down-sides as financial liquidity flows in and out of them.

    There is an added complication as well, at least regarding the carbon-based energy markets (coal, oil, natural gas, unleaded gasoline, jet fuel, etc.). The rampant consumption of this stuff is increasing, and its exhaust by-product, carbon dioxide, is dumped into the atmosphere to the tune of hundreds of billions of tonnes every year. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are still rising and show no signs of even leveling off, let alone decreasing.

    The heat-trapping effect of this carbon dioxide (which is not the only atmospheric heat-trapping gas, methane and water vapor also trap heat, but carbon dioxide is the most abundant and lasts for the longest time) will increasingly start to adversely affect the world’s climate to the extent that policies will eventually need to be instituted to drastically curb the consumption of these carbon-based energy commodities. The most efficient way to do this will be to drive up the prices of these commodities to the extent that demand for them starts to get destroyed. The problem, of course, is that this will almost surely impact jobs, quality of life, and cost of living, and so it will be a political nightmare/disaster.

    And no, please don’t try to seduce me with extravagant promises of imminent, at-scale carbon sequestration and storage. We will need to basically geo-engineer entire limestone cliffs at zero economic cost effective immediately to get that to work, and all the smart money is betting it won’t. Dreams are wonderful things that should be encouraged, but plans are another matter entirely that requires far more substantial, and empirical/analytical/scientific, footings. 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | November 13, 2014, 2:04 pm
  169. Those that tie their survival to oil and oil based products will be remembered as belonging to the “Oil” age.

    Posted by Ray | November 13, 2014, 2:50 pm
  170. Man is often too arrogant to believe that influencing the environment either positively or negatively is within his reach.

    In the grand scheme of things we are talking about an insect compared to an elephant.

    But, politicians, red or blue, are insects all the same.

    Is the above tempting enough?

    Posted by Mustap | November 13, 2014, 7:00 pm
  171. Mustap,

    I agree with you that on the scale of the universe, our galaxy, and even our own solar system, Man is completely inconsequential.

    But I disagree with you that 7-10 billion humans living modern, resource-intensive lifestyles on Earth cannot rubbish their ecosystem significantly. Notice I said “ecosystem”, I didn’t say “planet”. We live on only the thinnest top layer of the surface of the Earth. Our ecosystem is not as vast, robust and out of our reach or control as you might think.

    But alas, I’m not saying that we’re going to end up an inferno like Venus. Climate science is very nuanced in its claims and most amateurs interpret it wrong in both directions. They think either it’s all crap and nothing will happen or it’s the end and our oceans are going to boil. Unfortunately, setting them straight is a very data- and information-rich affair and I’ve written enough for one day so I won’t bore anyone any longer with more superfluous detail.

    I will only advise you to browse to this site, which is where I get my admittedly amateur climate insights and information:

    It won’t make any sense at first, but hang in there and I assure you things will start to gel together. They might even become interesting. 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | November 13, 2014, 11:43 pm
  172. Oil based Tyrants need to radically rethink their future.

    It does not look good for them long term … on any level.

    Posted by Ray | November 14, 2014, 1:06 pm
  173. I plan to retire in Saudi Arabia.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | November 14, 2014, 11:05 pm
  174. Akbar Palace,

    I’ve known about Charles Krauthammer for years without giving a toss but today I learned something profoundly new about him that I had no idea about previously.

    He’s apparently in a wheelchair, having suffering a spinal cord injury after diving into a shallow pool at Harvard Medical School and hitting his head on the bottom.

    I’m sure you, being such a loyal fan and adherent, know this about him. I swear it reminded me of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of Hamas, who was also confined to a wheelchair after sustaining a spinal cord injury while wrestling a friend in Gaza.

    The good news is that Krauthammer just has to hang in there for a while longer and there’s a very good chance modern medicine will get him out of that wheelchair. Did you hear about those Polish surgeons and that Bulgarian knife attack victim in Europe (London?) earlier this year? They took him from a wheelchair to a walker.

    Here in the US, I follow the fantastic research being done by Eric Lander’s Broad Institute at MIT/Harvard. Then there’s the superb Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Caltech. Add Stanford, UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins into the mix, not to mention everyone else, like the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Scripps Research Institute and the NIH, Japan’s RIKEN, the UK’s Sanger, etc. and there’s every reason to urge Krauthammer to leave politics to the mediocres and devote the rest of his life to discovering the scientific knowledge that might ultimately alleviate his own debilitated condition.

    Posted by Samer Nasser | November 15, 2014, 3:52 pm
  175. OK, I was feeling bad about not being nearly diligent, thorough, updated and expert enough in my long response from a few days ago to Akbar Palace and Ray regarding their hallucinatory allegations of Saudi price manipulations of the oil markets.

    But then I came across this article on Twitter today and my jaw literally dropped due to how stupid it was! Seriously, my throwaway comment from a few days ago on a subject which isn’t even my dedicated line of work was a PhD dissertation compared to this stinking pile of BS!

    So let’s get this straight, just for a laugh! We clearly live in an international era of the “national oil company”, and the “rentier state” that “balances its budgets from the proceeds of selling oil”, but the sublime genius who wrote this article, despite quoting the Saudi Oil Minister repeatedly denying that a price war was taking place, thinks Saudi Arabia is executing a “Rockefeller-style good sweating” of its rivals?!

    This Rockefeller reference really cracked me up, especially when to provide ominous context the author reminded us that Rockefeller “ended up controlling 90% of the American petroleum market”.

    So assuming the Saudis are indeed stupid enough to make an anachronistic Rockefeller-style play, how exactly would it end? However long it takes, let’s say 2-5 years as the article states, what happens then? Does an exhausted Putin hand over the shares to Gazprom or whatever, the leases to the fields, the keys to the tankers and beg the Saudis, “Take it all but please, just pay our pensions and our government budget!” 🙂

    This would have to occur not once but several times across the globe for the Saudis to go from controlling 10% of the market to 90%. But Rockefeller operated 100 years ago in a shallow, primitive, private, opaque, unregulated and domestic market. It’s callous and maniacal to argue, as this article does, with no concrete data other than a copy-and-pasted price chart, that his bullying tactics and strategies would have any traction at all in today’s complex, global, well capitalized oil market.

    Besides, I’ve already argued that Saudi Arabia can’t increase production substantially and sustainably on a whim (these things require the careful planning of many years of multi-billion dollar capital investment). So even if Saudi Arabia does singularly discount its product by a large margin, granted it would draw incremental demand that normally would go to other producers, but it might not otherwise perturb those producers all that much. This additional demand would eventually plateau, since it would consume all of Saudi supply, emptying it out of the market like a barren clearance rack at a local department store. That is why the oil price is determined at the margins of the fungible oil market as a whole, not at the individual margins of Saudi Arabian (or any other national) production.

    Posted by Samer Nasser | November 15, 2014, 9:47 pm
  176. Final comment on that garbage qz dot com article I linked to in my previous post.

    Someone please give the author a Nobel Prize in Economics for this concluding paragraph of the piece:

    “Finally, the main market reason for Saudi taking these actions is the surge in US shale oil production. With lower prices, the Saudis are testing the will of upstart shale drillers to stick out a period of narrow profit or even losses. In a recent report, the US Energy Information Administration said low prices will result in a halt to some US drilling but that most of it will go on, resulting in a continuing production surge. That means that the US industry won’t see relief from the sweating for some time.”

    So yeah, it is US production which is surging, but it’s the US which is being “sweated” by low prices from Saudi Arabia?! This idiotic author makes no sense and doesn’t realize that surging production naturally leads to lower prices, and that the US is actually more responsible for this than any other more-mature producer.

    He’s just maliciously baiting the Saudis and playing the victim, while irrationally portraying a scenario that is exactly the opposite of what is alleged, where the US is the one “sweating” the Saudis and not the other way around!

    Posted by Samer Nasser | November 15, 2014, 10:47 pm
  177. It is very likely that this QZ writer is ill-informed about the superior Wisdom of the Wise Kingdom.

    That’s the only reasonable conclusion one can make

    Posted by Mustap | November 16, 2014, 1:37 am
  178. About these beheadings.

    The Saudis want boots on the ground and that’s how to get it !

    Posted by Ray | November 16, 2014, 10:18 am
  179. Samer,

    It is very difficult to rig the oil market to higher prices without a cohesive cartel. A sort of Mafia that agrees to regulate production and the price.

    If you haven’t noticed, the “Bosses” aren’t so cohesive these days. There is pretty much disarray between them.

    However, it is pretty easy to take massive short positions in the “market” when you decide to start selling your oil at $80 to the US. You make money both ways.


    Posted by Ray | November 16, 2014, 10:59 am
  180. If you produce 10% of the apples and agree with another producer of 10% of the world’s apples (but whose economy does not rely 90% on apple production) you pretty much have those that do cornered.

    What else do Iran and Russia really export?

    Posted by Ray | November 16, 2014, 11:19 am
  181. And get payment for 🙂

    Posted by Ray | November 16, 2014, 11:25 am
  182. The good news is that Krauthammer just has to hang in there for a while longer and there’s a very good chance modern medicine will get him out of that wheelchair.


    I doubt it. But I am hopeful strides in this field will help those in the future with similar ailments.

    I hate to compare Yassin to Krauthammer, as Yassin was a disgusting anti-semite.

    Enjoying your posts as always.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | November 16, 2014, 11:28 am
  183. Akbar Palace,

    Quick note in my defense. I never compared the two. I only said Krauthammer reminded me of Yassin. The similarity in my mind begins and ends with spinal cord injury and being confined to wheelchairs.

    To be blunt, I know precious little about both people. But you have inspired me to learn more about Krauthammer. Right now it’s a bit of a mixed bag, to be honest.

    Most objectionably so far, last night I read one of Krauthammer’s Washington Post editorials from earlier in 2014 about the politics of Climate Change and “Hurricane” Sandy (yes, I know it was technically a tropical depression when it arrived ashore).

    Honestly, I’m no climate expert but I was able to rubbish in my mind everything that Krauthammer said on the matter. I plan to maybe write a comment here specifically dedicated to how and where Krauthammer is devastatingly wrong on Sandy. But alas, it might have to wait a while. I have lots of things to do today.


    I am yet to read your comments in response to me. Give me some time and I promise I’ll deal with you later! Right now I’m starving and need to rummage some lunch for myself. 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | November 16, 2014, 2:48 pm
  184. Let’s see what happens when the price of oil to the dollar matches the rubble to the dollar.

    Posted by Ray | November 16, 2014, 3:10 pm
  185. Money is not made of paper. It is made of cotton.

    Posted by Ray | November 16, 2014, 3:49 pm
  186. Ray,

    In a very roundabout way, you’re insinuating that the markets are very complex and difficult to analyze, and I agree with you here 100%.

    But your intellectual weakness is that all you’re doing is speculating. If you want to hypothesize, you need to produce data that can test your hypotheses and ground them in some kind of reality.

    Also, it’s hard to get at what you’re alleging, because frankly it changes frequently and is all over the place.

    At first you said the Saudis were manipulating the price. Then you said the Saudis were finished. Then you produced some boilerplate cliche about how oil-based tyrants always fall. Then you insinuated that it was OPEC and not the Saudis that was manipulating the price (you said “cartel” but I interpreted it as “OPEC”). Then you suggested that maybe the US was in a conspiracy with OPEC to manipulate the price.

    This is called “doubling down”, by the way. Every time your theory stumbles you raise it up a notch to get it “to fit”.

    But alas, what you get wrong is that cartels work to curb supply and prop up the price, not to increase supply and destroy the price. OPEC gets a lot of heat for this, but what do you think developed world agricultural subsidies are for? Producers of basic commodities always need to protect themselves and collaborate with one another to ensure their customers don’t pit them against each other and destroy them in the process.

    This is fine, as long as “cartels” don’t try to strangle the market, which OPEC isn’t doing. But again, this isn’t even what we’re talking about. We’re talking about the Saudis overproducing, not under-producing, to spite Iran and Russia. But this affects Saudi as much as it does Russia and Iran, so how can it possibly be an intelligent strategy?

    Also, high oil prices helped develop the US fracking industry in the first place. Plus, the US has historically been one of the fiercest opponents of OPEC (but have you noticed that it’s quietened down a lot on OPEC since stateside fracking took off?). And now you’re alleging that the US is conspiring with OPEC to spite Iran and Russia by, wait for it, destroying the oil price?

    Hello?! Iran is part of OPEC! So are Venezuela and a lot of US opponents! Where does Iraq fit into your hypothesis? Is it in the Iran camp or the US camp? Either way, its budgets get destroyed by low oil prices.

    Plus, that scenario you presented where oil producers hedge against their own low oil prices by “shorting” oil is crippled by two debilitating weaknesses. First, this kind of thing would be prosecuted, at least in the US, as illegal “Insider Trading”. Second, and more significantly, you can’t “short” oil the way you might “short” stocks, as in indefinitely. The word you’re looking for is “options”, and they all eventually expire, because futures contracts eventually mature (when the last person holding the contract has to arrange for physical delivery of the commodity). So yeah, an option is cheap and profitable only when the market prices it as being unlikely. But when everybody and his brother has caught on to the fact that the oil price has lowered, then further options in the direction of low oil prices become expensive and non-profitable. Basically, options trading thrives on volatility, and what we’re seeing right now in the oil market is not volatility at all.

    In summary, what do I think? I think what’s happening in oil right now is simply legitimate developing market slowdown being used as an excuse to “take profits” and temporarily pull liquidity out of the oil market. I have no idea how long this will last, but I am reasonably sure that there are no geopolitical machinations at play here at all.

    P.S.: I am no expert on the Russian currency, but I believe the word you’re looking for is “ruble”, not “rubble”. Rubble is what you get when you destroy physical infrastructure, which I don’t think can be utilized as currency. But then again, what do I know? 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | November 16, 2014, 5:20 pm
  187. To be blunt, I know precious little about both people. But you have inspired me to learn more about Krauthammer.


    If you want to learn more about CK (or several other editorial writers), I generally like the list provided by Drudge. Check out the center column….

    Obama spent his legacy determined to prove that Bush and the neoconservatives were wrong to send troops to Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein. Now Obama is looking rather stupid and Krauthammer, who supported the war (along with Hilary Clinton), is looking like a genius.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | November 16, 2014, 5:41 pm
  188. For those interested, Global Warming may be coming to a city near you…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | November 16, 2014, 11:48 pm
  189. Samer,

    Thank you for your text book reply.

    There are more than a thousand options to short oil on stock markets.

    But keep up the good research.

    Posted by Ray | November 17, 2014, 12:11 pm
  190. Today, Halliburton Oil bought Baker Hughes for $34B.

    Halliburton which started about a century ago with a wheelbarrow and few shovels as an oil well encasing contractor, now, with the addition of Baker Hughes, employs 130,000 workers worldwide.

    I’m surprised that Halliburton is not so up-to-date on the forecasts for oil becoming worthless very soon.

    I mean, HAL guys, c’mon are you soooooooooooo ignorant about future trends? You don’t read QN? What are you going to do with 130,000 poor workers couple years from now?

    We, here, have a genius Orange who figured it all out from his General Yellow.

    Posted by Mustap | November 17, 2014, 12:27 pm
  191. Ray,

    I was talking about raw trading of the oil itself, but I agree with you that there are many oil proxies in the equity markets, such as refiners, oil service firms, drillers, the big oil companies, etc. Let’s not even get into things like mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, hedge funds, etc.

    But you can only short a small percentage of a market before it moves, and then you have to exit profitably at risk of getting caught up in a short-covering rally. Timing is critical, you can never trust that other investors will act as you desire, and the larger the target is that you’re trying to short, the harder it becomes. Successfully shorting things like currencies these days, George Soros-style against the British Pound from back whenever, is almost impossible to pull off. To do it surreptitiously without raising alarm bells somewhere is even harder still.

    But alas, I have never actually done this myself, so I am admittedly not very well versed on the daunting mathematics of it (I’ve never understood the pricing of options, for example). I’m a very busy person and have to choose very carefully what to spend time on. I come here mostly to learn, so instead of throwing shade with vacuous cliches (“text book reply”, really? As opposed to what, your “street smarts”? :)), I invite you to teach me something about this if you are so learned in it. If it’s too long for a comment, at least provide a link so I know where you are getting your information and inspiration from.

    Posted by Samer Nasser | November 17, 2014, 12:56 pm
  192. Agent Orange reporting to Colonel Mustard.

    Posted by Ray | November 17, 2014, 1:07 pm
  193. That’s a good one.

    Colonel Mustard = Hassan Hizballa
    General Yellow = Michel Aoun

    Even the colors match.

    Keep coming and give us some more clues about future trends. We badly need insightful Yellowish Sunny Rays in these troubled oily times.

    What’s the General’s outlook for the market before the cartel’s meeting coming up soon end of November?

    Posted by Mustap | November 17, 2014, 1:34 pm
  194. Samer,

    You wouldn’t happen to be North Kortea’s Kim Jong-un wanting people here to enlighten you on what actually is going on in the real world?

    Posted by Ray | November 17, 2014, 1:35 pm
  195. Akbar Palace,

    Yeah, the radio on my morning commute said it was 6 degrees F here today. But I know that the US only occupies 2% of the world’s surface area, 6.6% of its land area, and so US weather is hardly representative of the world as a whole. I am also all but certain that when the year closes out, despite all the cold that the US experienced at its start and towards its end, scientists will announce that 2014 was the warmest year on Earth in recorded history. They will also say that this is particularly alarming because 2014 was a weak La Nina/El Nino year. The record-breaking, hottest years are supposed to be strong El Nino years, but El Nino has been acting very strangely lately, and nobody really understands why.

    Yeah, there’s all this talk in the US about the polar jetstream weakening and meandering, therefore letting weather events push it around, and being unable to prevent polar air from spilling south. This is partly due to “arctic amplification”, named so because the Arctic is the fastest warming region on Earth. A rapidly warming Arctic weakens the thermal and atmospheric (the atmosphere is thicker around the equator than around the poles) gradients that drive the polar jetstream that has such a dramatic effect on US weather.

    But alas, I will stop here for fear of boring you to tears. I will only leave the link below and dare, double-dare, triple-dare you to read it and thoroughly understand it before making your next snarky comment about Global Warming. I’ve had this link bookmarked on my computer for over a year and am yet to find the time to slog more than a fraction of the way through it. Needless to say, I am only a humble and hapless amateur in this complex area, but I at least believe what the credible, diligent climate scientists claim:

    Posted by Samer Nasser | November 17, 2014, 1:53 pm
  196. Snarky Alert

    I will only leave the link below and dare, double-dare, triple-dare you to read it and thoroughly understand it before making your next snarky comment about Global Warming.


    If the WSJ and thousands of other, more knowledgeable scientists can’t agree, why should I believe Obama and the know-it-all liberals who assume Global Warming is a given and something we have control over? I believe this Global Warming thing is a man-made religion.

    But I will try to get to to your link nevertheless, since you took the time to contact me.

    Needless to say, I am only a humble and hapless amateur in this complex area, but I at least believe what the credible, diligent climate scientists claim.


    I think you are one of the most knowledgeable posters here, yet, don’t fall for false messiahs.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | November 17, 2014, 4:00 pm
  197. Akbar Palace,

    For the record, I don’t get my climate insights from Obama or any other Democrat. I also don’t get them from the WSJ or any other newspaper (I wasn’t able to access that article you linked to by the way because it was blocked behind a paywall and I don’t have a WSJ subscription). I get them from a lifelong consumption of science journalism, interest in science and reputable science blogging, and a solid technical education.

    If you want to engage me on climate, get ready to geek out or let’s not even bother! Don’t come armed with only the politics, because frankly I don’t give a damn about the politics! Your people don’t think there’s a scientific consensus on the subject? Do you seriously think I care? Consensus to me has no technical or scientific merit at all. It is not even applied science or engineering. It is merely policy-making, and I don’t necessarily have a problem with the current policy so I’m not going to put up a fight.

    Your talk of “man-made religion” and “false messiahs” was totally the kind of language that so put me off that Charles Krauthammer (CK) article that I mentioned earlier about Climate Change and Hurricane Sandy.

    In all that asinine, contrived obfuscation, CK got even the most basic thing wrong about Sandy. He was so obsessed about it being a tropical depression at landfall and not a hurricane, and spent so much effort trying to discount it as an extreme weather event. He thought it was all about wind, because maximum wind speed, from what I understand, is how hurricanes differ from tropical depressions.

    But Sandy wasn’t as much about wind as it was about storm surge! In all the footage of the storm, the main villain was not air, it was WATER! And yes, whether CK likes it or not, sea levels are rising (they’re called the world’s only reliable thermometer) which exacerbates this risk, regardless of how high the wind speeds of a storm are or how frequently storms occur.

    As for all that other similarly asinine and contrived talk of “people falling in love with their climate models”, again CK was wrong here as well! The Europeans forecast six days before landfall that Hurricane Sandy was going to hit a “blocking” high pressure system over the North Atlantic and get re-diverted to the US Mid-Atlantic coast, when everybody else was hoping it would head off into a watery oblivion! It took the Americans a few days to corroborate what the Europeans were saying but they eventually got on board! Every properly equipped and informed climate scientist on Earth knew exactly what the storm was going to do a full three days in advance, which aided in taking the necessary precautions and sparing a lot of human suffering! Do you seriously think these people who were there when it mattered have the slightest care what CK thinks of their modelling in convenient, biased and completely ignorant retrospect? 🙂

    Posted by Samer Nasser | November 17, 2014, 8:40 pm

Are you just gonna stand there and not respond?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Browse archives

wordpress stats plugin
%d bloggers like this: