Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

How about those anonymous sources, Mr. POTUS?

This item almost doesn’t deserve comment. Aww, but what the heck.

Donald J. Trump fired of a tweet that cited anonymous sources after, um, blasting anonymous sources.

It’s become normal, I guess, for the president to do this kind of thing. Do as I say, not as I do.

* He blasts Michelle Obama for not covering her head while touring a Muslim country, only to have his wife do the same thing during his recent journey to Saudi Arabia.

* He rips into Barack Obama for all that golf he played as president, then hits the links with reckless abandon when he takes office.

* Trump leads rally crowd chants of “lock her up!” for her use of private e-mail account while serving as secretary of state, then he blabs to Russians about classified security information.


The president retweeted a Fox News report that cites an anonymous source relating to his son-in-law’s current difficulty with “the Russia thing.” He did so just days after tweeting a rant equating anonymous sources to “fake news.”

Here’s a suggestion for the president: Take a breath and be sure about what you’ve put into the public domain before firing off another of those nonsensical tweets.

Preferring the U.S. method of letting ’em protest

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross cannot possibly be a dim bulb.

Or can he?

Ross offered a critique of the welcome that Donald J. Trump’s presidential entourage received in Saudi Arabia.

“There’s no question that they’re liberalizing their society, and I think the other thing that was fascinating to me, there was not a single hint of a protester anywhere there during the whole time we were there,” Ross said in an appearance on CNBC. “Not one guy with a bad placard.”

Not one guy, eh?

Someone ought to inform the secretary that public protest in Saudi Arabia remains highly illegal. Protesters generally are rounded up, arrested, given lashes until they bleed … you know, the kind of thing that occurs in countries run by repressive regimes.


CNBC reporter Becky Quick sought to inform Ross of those prohibitions. He answered:

“In theory, that could be true,” he replied. “But boy, there was certainly no sign of it. There was not a single effort at any incursion, there wasn’t anything. The mood was a genuinely good mood, and at the end of the trip, as I was getting back on the plane, the security guards from the Saudi side who’d been helping us over the weekend all wanted to pose for a big photo op, and then they gave me two gigantic bushels of dates as a present, a thank you for the trip that we had had. That was a pretty from-the-heart, very genuine gesture and it really touched me.”

I believe I will stick with the American way. It allows protests. It gives people the freedom to speak angrily against the government, although the only stipulation I can find in the First Amendment is that it guarantees the right of citizens to protest “peaceably.”

Violence? Nope. Can’t do that, not even in America.

It still sure beats the dickens out of the prohibitions against such behavior in Saudi Arabia.

Get ready for Trump speech on (gulp!) — Islam!

Donald J. Trump is getting ready to climb headfirst into the belly of the beast.

He is planning a speech on Islam. The venue? Saudi Arabia, where two of Islam’s holiest cites are located.

Politico offers a list of do’s and don’ts for the president to follow.

Here it is: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/05/18/donald-trump-islam-speech-215150

As we know, the president isn’t known for his nuanced approach to foreign policy. He doesn’t seem to have a foreign policy. He doesn’t think strategically. He doesn’t look at the big picture. He speaks in the moment and seems to react to the last person who has his undivided attention.

I feel compelled, though, to remind everyone that he will be speaking to an audience full of people with lengthy memories. I’m quite certain they’re going to remember what candidates Donald Trump said about Muslims way back when, how he intended to impose a blanket ban on “all Muslims” entering the United States “until we figure out what the hell we’re doing.”

He’s backed off of that. He’s tried to impose executive orders banning Muslims from certain countries, only to have the federal judiciary strike them down. Why? They discriminate against people of certain religions, which the U.S. Constitution forbids.

As Politico reports: According to the president’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, “The speech is intended to unite the broader Muslim world against common enemies of all civilization and to demonstrate America’s commitment to our Muslim partners.”

Be very careful, Mr. President.

Saudis on UN women’s panel? Huh?

Critics of the United Nations — and I am not one of them — gripe often about the absurd decisions the world body makes.

I have to concede that the U.N. has made a bonehead call by placing Saudi Arabia on its Commission on the Status of Women.

Huh? What the … ?

Does anyone need reminding here that women are not allowed to, um, drive motor vehicles in Saudi Arabia? How about pay equity? Women earn a fraction of what Saudi men earn. Saudi women aren’t even allowed to make critical decisions without a man’s approval, for crying out loud!


The Miami Herald reports that the Saudis formed a “girls council,” but didn’t appoint any females to it.

Good ever-lovin’ grief, man.

The United Nations needs to think about this. I doubt the U.N. would rescind the appointment. Bureaucrats tend to cover their backsides even as they undergo push back from goofy decisions.

The anti-U.N. crowd in this country has been handed plenty of grist with which to beat the world body bloody. I won’t join them in calling for the end of the United Nations.

Decisions such as this one involving the Saudis and the women’s commission, though, does give me pause.

About those human rights abuses …


U.S. foreign policy abounds with hypocrisy.

We support some nations while opposing others, citing issues in those nations we oppose that are commonplace in the nations with which we are friendly.

I bring to you … Cuba.

President Barack Obama is visiting the island nation, becoming the first U.S. president to set foot in Cuba since Calvin Coolidge.

His foes back home keep yammering about the human rights abuses that the communists in Havana are guilty of committing. Why, we can’t allow Americans to travel freely there; we can’t commence trade with Cuba; we can’t let our guard down.

What’s the deal, then, with other nations with which we have reasonably healthy relationships?

The People’s Republic of China? Saudi Arabia? Egypt? Vietnam?

Sure, we have differences with many nations around he world, including those I’ve just mentioned.

But the communists who run governments in China and Vietnam treat their citizens badly whenever they speak out against their leaders. The Saudis refuse to grant full rights of citizenship to roughly half of their citizenry; I refer, of course, to women. What’s more, the Saudis are known to execute criminals in public.

My point is simply this: Let’s stop the griping about Cuba’s human rights record, suggesting that it’s a disqualifier for U.S.-Cuba relations. Yes, let’s keep the pressure on Cuba to do better.

We can bring the change we want there by engaging them fully.


Muslims are killing Muslims in Middle East


The U.S. presidential campaigners keep bringing up the threat that Islamic terrorists pose to Americans, mainly Christians and Jews.

What none of them seems able or willing to acknowledge publicly — very much — is what those terrorists are doing to fellow Muslims.

Did you see the story the other day about the mosque in Damascus, Syria, that was attacked by Islamic State ghouls? Dozens of Muslims, mainly Shiites, were killed in the attack.

It was only the latest in a long and miserable string of such attacks that have been occurring throughout the Middle East — and in other primarily Muslim countries — since, oh, forever.

The Islamic State’s campaign against anyone who disagrees with their perverted philosophy has been aimed primarily against those within the Islamic faith. How many Muslims do you suppose have died at the hands of the ISIL monsters? Thousands? Tens of thousands?

And that brings me to my point.

The world war against ISIL must include a broad range of military action launched and coordinated by the people who (a) face the most direct threat from these terrorists and (b) have been the terrorists’ most frequent victims.

I saw the other day that Saudi Arabia is inching toward committing ground troops to the fight against ISIL in Syria. Do you know what’s so fascinating about that development, were it to come to fruition?

Saudi Arabia is a mainly Sunni Muslim nation, made up of people ISIL claims to represent.

I do not have the answer for how any world leader — whether it’s the president of the United States, the head of the European Union or a potentate in some tiny sheikdom — can muster the forces needed to fight these hideous religious perverts.

The Damascus mosque attack, though, does drive home the point that some U.S. politicians have recognized already.

It is that this country has shed enough blood already. Yes, we should continue our air campaign along with our allies who’ve also been wounded by terrorist attacks — and we should prosecute that campaign with all the vigor possible. The real fight on the ground must include those who are closest to the enemy and who stand most directly in harm’s way.

There can be no doubt ISIL has designs on spreading its terror far beyond the Middle East. That is why the countries in the region need to step up even more aggressively to take on the terrorists.

It is their fight to win.


Michelle's just the latest to flout Saudi tradition

Laura Bush did it. So did Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Same with Angela Merkel.

What did a former U.S. first lady, two former secretaries of state and the chancellor of Germany do? They appeared in public in Saudi Arabia — without covering their hair, as prescribed by Muslim tradition in the Sunni nation.


The current first lady, Michelle Obama, thus is the just the latest woman to flout the custom demanded of Saudi women.

It’s interesting at a couple of levels that the media would make any kind of mention of Mrs. Obama’s decision to go scarf-less in public.

No. 1, she is hardly the first foreign dignitary to be photographed doing this.

No. 2, and perhaps more importantly, is that she was virtually ignored while she stood in a greeting line alongside her husband — Barack H. Obama, president of the United States of America.

The dignitaries walked along the greeting line, shook hands with Mr. Obama but didn’t shake Mrs. Obama’s hand. What’s up with that?

Actually, I know. Saudis disrespect women whenever and wherever possible. That, too, is part of their custom. Women aren’t able to drive motor vehicles legally, for example. It should come as no surprise, then, that the potentates or whoever those gentlemen were greeting the president would ignore his wife.

To whatever extent she intended, Michelle Obama did a nice job of standing tall and proud for women in the country that played host to her briefly — and, in fact, for oppressed women all around the world. So did those who preceded her.

Well done, ladies.


Wow! Ted Cruz praises Michelle Obama!

Times like these call for special attention.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TEA Party Nation, has actually said something complimentary about the first lady of the United States of America.

Cruz wrote on his Facebook page that Michelle Obama has stood up for the rights of women around the world by declining to wear a scarf covering her head while visiting Saudi Arabia.


You go, Ted!

He wrote: “Kudos to First Lady Michelle Obama for standing up for women worldwide and refusing to wear a Sharia-mandated head-scarf in Saudi Arabia. Nicely done.”

Cruz, who’s actually from Texas (of course) isn’t likely to say nice things — ever — about the first lady or her husband. He’s entertaining a possible — if not probable — run for the presidency in 2016. He’s no doubt storing up plenty of negative things to say about the past eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Just for grins and giggles, though, I am curious to know the reason Michelle Obama didn’t wear the scarf in a country where Islamic tradition plays such a huge role in people’s lives. My own hunch is that the Sharia mandate is for Muslim women and since Michelle Obama is not a Muslim, she and other women in the presidential party were exempt from the rule.

Still, it’s good to hear Sen. Cruz acknowledge the guts it took for the first lady to do such a thing in Saudi Arabia. Imagine what he and other critics on the right would have said had she shown up with her hair covered.



You go, Mme. First Lady!

Social media are chattering about first lady Michelle Obama.

No, she didn’t say anything worth noting. All she did was get off a plane in Saudi Arabia sans a scarf covering her hair, which is customary in the Sunni Muslim country.

Some, but not all, of her hosts were offended by the first lady. My own reaction? You go, Mrs. Obama!


The president and first lady stopped briefly in Saudi Arabia to pay their respects after the death of King Abdullah. Saudi custom dictates that women cover their heads; many Saudi women wear niqabs.

But here’s the deal. Saudi women do so to honor their Islamic faith. The Obamas aren’t Muslim. They are practicing Christians. Indeed, although the custom is followed generally in Saudi Arabia, it’s not a requirement, particularly if women are seen only in, shall we say, secular surroundings. Were she to enter a mosque? Yes, I can understand the requirement to cover her hair as required by Islamic teaching.

And as the Washington Post reported: “Exceptions are made for foreigners, however, and Michelle – who did wear loose clothing that fully covered her arms – appears to have been one of them. In photographs from the official events, other foreign female guests are also shown not wearing headscarves.”

That hasn’t stopped Saudi social media from chattering all over creation about the supposed “insult” perpetrated by the American first lady.

Let’s just get over it, shall we?

Obama seeks to thread dangerous needle

Talk about a much-anticipated speech.

President Obama is going to speak Wednesday about his planned strategy for “degrading, defeating and destroying” the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

In that speech, the president is going to lay out a plan that will preclude American “boots on the ground.” What he will need to explain — and he’ll need to use his tremendous rhetorical skill to do so — is how this nation is going to defeat ISIL’s efforts to overthrow the government in Syria without aligning ourselves with the government that we also hate.

The president offered a hint of that strategy this morning in an interview broadcast on Meet the Press. He talked to new MTP moderator Chuck Todd about working with “moderate opposition forces” that also are fighting the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. ISIL is the new enemy on the battlefield in Syria, he said, and the United States will deploy its enormous air power to hit ISIL’s whenever and wherever we find it.

This, I submit, is where the equation gets very tricky.

Assad’s regime is as hated as any in the Middle East. He, too, is a monster who needs to go. ISIL, though, is an even worse monster. Do we take sides in this struggle, wishing for one enemy force to defeat another enemy force?

Obama said the aim ought to be to help those so-called moderates in Syria — with help from other Sunni Arab states in the region. He mentioned Saudi Arabia and Jordan, two nations that have received significant U.S. military support over the years.

It’s time, Obama said, for those nations to deploy the assets we’ve provided for them in the fight against ISIL.

The president took a lot of heat when he said recently that “we don’t have a strategy yet” in dealing with ISIL. The critics who pounded Obama over that statement forget the “yet” part of that statement.

It appears a strategy is forthcoming. I’ll wait with interest for what the president has to say.

I will be particularly interested in hearing how he plans to keep fighting Bashar al-Assad while destroying the dictator’s No. 1 enemy.