The Bottom Half Divided by 2

5 08 2009

I’m kinda sorta having trouble with work nowadays.

Not with the authorities/company policy, but with a couple of “elements” that take the concept of CYA a bit too far. The general mentality of the ‘little black workers’ to screw up everyone and everything, to let go of all morals and integrity of theirs, but to not let go of the job/post is not something compatible with the likes of me. However, sadly, such things are not things that you raise at the proper level, neither can you do anything about them at your own level, being as inconsequential as they are. But they do have a consequence of pissing me off and making me shake my head at how relative morals are. My father had this gem to pass onto me: “Imagine a person of average intelligence. Imagine how he would be acting. Now imagine that half the world is less intelligent than that.” I’ve read it before, but I still like it everytime I hear it! 🙂

5795

The Bottom Half of the IQ level, divided by 2.

-TFK

Advertisements




Kill ’em Infidels!! The Fatwas

12 07 2009

(from Part 1)

The prevalent attitude of the Saudi ruling family pertain to something like “do what you want to do, just let us do what we want to do. If you interfere in what we want to do, you get snapped”. Consider it a zero-tolerance, mutual existence governance. In order to defer the responsibility of running the country, the govt has many councils and committees who act almost-independently, working to keep the country running, while the Saud family do what they do best. This manifests itself as a collection of organizations that are one another’s peers and have their own fields of activity, working independently, sometimes overlapping. Conflicts are often resolved on a case-to-case basis, often with the intervention of a Saud family member, since no governing rule exists. Placeholding rules are there, but they are precisely that, placeholders.

This has given the CPVPV (and other councils/committees) a very free hand to do whatever they want to do. And since the CPVPV has learnt which toes not to step on, they run pretty much scot free. The fatwas they decide to get implemented, they do themselves, since they have their own force, no police co-op required. And since words are cheap, they say pretty much whatever they want to. Add to this mix the cold-war with the al-Azhar university to become the official voice of Islam, and you have a plothera of fatwas, left and right. Below are some of the more wonderfully stupid samplings. Note: I do NOT follow, believe, nor promote these in any way. Sources might be biased. Make your own decisions.

Shias are infidels. The scholars are definitely infidels, the people, unknown.

...unislamic pic unrelated...

All Shias are infidels

Pokemon is haraam.

Saudi Women must cover one eye.

Pet animals are a threat to morality

OK to slap wives

Pigeon-breeding forbidden: act of sodomites

Soccer is forbidden.

Mice are to be exterminated: Mickey Mouse is haraam

Travelling haraam during Swine ‘flu

International Jihad haraam

Women-only health clubs haraam (arabic)

Women cannot go online without a male guardian

Women can hit back: outrage over fatwa

Cheating on non-Muslim wives/women okay

Islamic banking unIslamic (okay, this one is from Pakistan)

and so on…

I’m sure if there are any reader from the Kingdom, they’ll attest to the day-to-day challenges and issues that arise out of a simple inconvenience of following rules and regulations that are quite unique in the Islamic world. True, that following the Islamic law to the spirit is not very prevalent in the current world scenario, but there are places where that does happen, and it does not look anything like what SA has going on.

The ruling hierarchy in SA most often than not turns a blind eye on these rulings. In individual cases, their acts can overrule the religious fatwa (such as the release of the film produced by a Prince, support for soccer, traveling to the USA during swine flu season etc), but not vice versa. Also, they have the luxury of getting fatwas issues, such as fatwas against a few writers who were critical of the Saudi regime. After all, they are the rulers, right.

But the religious faction is all set to exercise its ruling rights too. Sweeping powers to issue laws and get them implemented does get to the head after a while. Currently, the Saud family has managed to curb the need-to-rule of the religious fraternity, but this need has previously, and again shall rise. The religion-fuelled activities in the wake of 9/11 led to some activity which was squashed. Something might gel them again. Think of it as two balloons with equal length strings in the same hand, both trying to occupy the same place and constantly bumping into one another.

The Saud family’s bump is currently stronger.

-FK





Leftist Laughs

24 06 2009

… and then there were leftist cartoons…

Can cartoons be leftist? Well, they sure can, as Barry has shown. And not that only, the satirical content, whilst not so hidden as to be subtly satirical, is out there and brazenly displayed for everyone to see.

The US is promoting democracy in more places than that…

-FK





(Ir+Om)an

17 06 2009

Iran, Oman & the Kish Gas Field

Yup, it’s official. Following my previous posts there was a pending visit, I was waiting for our Deputy Prime Minister to visit but it seems as if I have been upstaged by the govt. and now it is His Majesty himself who is going to pay the newly crowned Iranian President a visit. While this is significant on many levels, it is a bold statement by His Majesty to be the first head of state to visit the Iranian President after his elections. Whilst partial recount is underway, we really don’t know the state of Moosavi supporters’ unrest by the 28th. But it figures that the state police in Iran will have squashed all opposition to make it peaceful enough for our delegation to visit.

And the enoturage is impressive too. ToO states:

His Majesty the Sultan will be accompanied by a high level delegation comprising

Sayyid Ali bin Hamoud Al Busaidi, minister of the Diwan of Royal Court,

Gen. Ali bin Majid Al Ma’amari, Royal Office minister;

Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, minister responsible for foreign affairs;

Ahmed bin Abdulnabi Macki, minister of national economy and deputy chairman of the Financial Affairs and Energy Resources Council;

Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed Al Rowas, His Majesty the Sultan’s adviser for cultural affairs,

Dr Ali bin Mohammed bin Moosa, minister of health;

Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, commerce and industry minister;

Lt.-General Malik bin Sulaiman Al Ma’amari, inspector-general of police and customs,

Dr Mohammed bin Hamad Al Romhi, minister of oil and gas,

Sheikh Yahya bin Abdullah Al Fannah Al Araimi, the Sultanate’s ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Nice! That’s 7 ministers, 10 portfolios and 13 heads of profiles and 1 Head of State. Seems like Oman will get a corner of the international media for this event, since all spotlights are pointing there already. Oman will be like a minor character in a play suddenly sharing the stage with the main female lead who has been hogging the stage. Now whether this character uses this opportunity to do something screenworthy and make her presence felt or will just pass on the glass of water, play his minor part and exit left, is yet to be seen. Hoping it is the former, expected to be the latter.

But then again, expect important development to happen on the Gas Sharing thingies floating around. With the ongoing gas field deals, the joint gas and energy company setup, tourism and infrastructure deals setup, I want to think that nuclear issues are also going to be discussed, however I don’t think that is going to be announced anywhere.

Well, let’s see.

-FK





Emot-Iran

16 06 2009

Take a horse. Should be dead. No, kill him, just arrange to obtain a dead horse. Lay him down (or if you can, make him stand up)….. and then beat him. Beat him and Beat him to death!

Just what did you achieve? The same as I’ll achieve by speaking about the spin media puts on events.

The elections in Iran. Ever since Ahmadinejad even hinted at his victory, the media, international ofcourse (CNN & Bloomberg, that we I get here) has been ranting and raving about foul, rigged, cheated, fradulent and what-not elections. Regardless of what happened on-ground, why does an supposedly independant 3rd party have the gall to point out one viewpoint so loudly as to defean others. Just like writing 30,000 billion and then 1 trillion and saying the billions are more. Twisting, turning, churning, pivoting, manipulating everything to suit one way or the other.

NatGeo: Iran

NatGeo: Iran

Why just can’t we have a newsflash that says “It is believed by so-and-so that the elections were rigged. However, so-and-so says they were not. The Iranian leaders announced the win of so-and-so but have now called for a recount”. Phrase that properly and ta-da, news! But even here, the possibility of manipulation is so much. The first so-and-so could be someone of clout, the 2nd one a known crankcase, one viewpoint with videos and graphics, the 2nd one delivered with a smirk across the face etc etc etc. Bah!

But then again, its Iran we’re talking about here. A nation of people who lost an entire generation battling the Iraqis. Who saved their land from invading forces and lived to tell the tale. A land where if walk the streets you see many more women than men. Going from the Middle East, you pause and stand seeing male:female ration of 1:3. Where women police officers are as much, if not more, active than men. A nation of proud people, defiant in the face of the West. Ostracized by the international community, scraping and making inroads by sheer force of resilience and on the back of their God-gifted natural resources. Deeply religious, fanatic Shiites. One can judge their emotions by the fervor during the ’79 revolution, the annual religious festivals, the ’83 war. Why wouldn’t they be having strong opinions about the election? English hooligans anyone?

I started off with ideas and things to write about,  but scenes of the horse pass in front of my eyes. Poor horse. Dead and still taking a beating.

-FK





How many Gulfs?

24 05 2009

That is an assumption of course. Since the Europeans created the Euro, the Gulfians should create the Gulf; and maybe have its symbol to be a stylized  G (okay, maybe not a G with a strikethrough!)

But still, what would it be named?* What would it look like? What would it show? Colors? Size? There are obvious problems. The GCC has 6 member countries and 6 local currencies. These are the:

Bahrini Dinar

Kuwaiti Dinar

Kuwaiti Dinar

Omani Rial

Omani Rial

Qatari rial

Qatari Rial

Saudi rial

Saudi Rial

UAE Dirham

UAE Dirham

So there are 5+7=12 heads of states that could look for space on the note; the color ranges could be from a soothing blue to a neutral gray to a rich red; the denominations could be as low as .005 of the base unit upto 500 of the same etc etc.

I’ve often thought, who decides such things? The Omani note, forex. Gray! Steel Gray with white! White on a currency note? Anyone expected it to remain white? And the dimensions? Following international standards, I think. But still!

As for the other issues, there are many toothsayers saying all sorts of things. GCC common curreny doomed. UAE plays its card. UAE move shows underlying differences. Currency on brink of failure. & the UAE itself is leaving options open.

I think its not as decisive as it should’ve been could be. The UAE obviously wants all matters pertaining to incoming funds within its jurisdiction at the moment. And the current crunch, if nothing else, tells them the imprtance of having cash-in-hand. On the other side, SA can use its behemothical size to roll this way or that and make the currency happen with or without UAE.

Oman, otoh, I think, has once again shown something that is much better, much deeper and much more decisive than all the other member states. I again do not know who makes these policies (the originators, the one fiscal expert who thought this up, “Let’s not join”), but this basically shows off a “good move” on the part of the country. After all, no one is going to tax Oman or levy any ‘late fees’ if we join later, right? The country has a good, solid 25-year plan going in full swing. The targets decided upon are very much on track, the proper assets are in the proper places to start all engines, but there is essentially no pressing need. Yeah, it would be swell to have tonnes of money and assets floating around, but we have a bit more than we want currently. So no rush. The UK was reviled and pointed at and accused of missing out on something ‘wow’ but they stood their ground and kept the Pound and still joined the EU. Years on, while they are not on top of the world, but they are not hurting either.

But I still think we should move away from the USD peg.

-FK

*A little birdie told me they’re planning to call it the ‘Khaleeji’. Expect all South/East Asians to call it a “Kahleeji” (with a ‘K’ intead of the throaty ‘Kh’)

Proposed Symbol

Proposed Symbol

The Arabic word ‘khaleeji’ (خليجي ) stands for ‘of the gulf’ thus the ‘G’ symbol with the by now customary central bar . And just as the ‘$’ symbol once so aptly stood for ‘ unit of silver ‘ letthe Khaleeji be understood as a ‘unit of gold’? The most convincing argument for such an interpretation is that having a gold/silver backed currency is considered the final leg to remove Riba (ربا ‘interest’ or ‘usury’) from the financial system, which is forbidden arcording to Islamic economic jurisprudence . Or, we can just use the Arabian affinity for gold.

O_O





(Ir+Om)an

18 05 2009

My algebra’s a bit rusty. However I think this works. It equates to Iran + Oman.

And that’s what’s going on. Oman and Iran are pretty much becoming an item!

There are many news articles on this appearing. Mostly low-key. As if the authorities are saying  we’ve got ‘a good thing going, but lets not make much noise about it’.

Iran is, and has been, since the 1979 revolution, a very predominantly Islamic state with the letter of the shari’a followed in word and spirit. While this is not something very unique in the Islamic world, Iran is the only country in the world where the followers of the Shiite sect of Islam are in absolute majority in the population (as much as 98%) and in the government. This marks Iran to be very different from the rest of Muslim world. The only country that comes even close is Iraq, with 58% of its population being Shiite, but this majority had been opressed and prosecuted under the rule of Saddam. Also currently, with the power-sharing schemes and %age-wise representation schemes being discussed for governance in Iraq, Shiites have a shot at being in and around the corridors of the government there too. As a side note, Iraq and Iran are traditional pilgrimage centers of the Shiite sect by virtue of being home to the shrine of the Im’ams or Leaders of the Shiite sect. Out of 12 Leaders of the Shiites, 1 has his shrine in Iran in the city of Mashhad, 6 shrines are in Iraq (Baghdad, Kadhimiya, Samarra, Najaf and Kerbala) and 5 are in Saudi Arabia (in the area known as Jannat-ul-Baqi)

Oman is a low-key, predominantly Sunni Ibadhi country at the north of the south of the Middle East. Oman is a stone’s throw from Saudi Arabia, UAE and Yemen by land; and Pakistan and Iran by sea. Oman is predominantly lived-in by Sunni Ibadhi-muslims who are a mixture of the alongwith Orthodox Sunni, Shiites, miniority Wahhabi and Kharji groups. Oman’s claim to fame have been the ancient seafarers from the country’s generous coastline. This made this area a thoroughfare for ancient pilgrims to Mecca from overseas, a landing/rest area for people involved in the booming trade routes between India and Africa and a safe niche for people, mostly refugees, from the Persian, Roman and MidEastern conflicts and wars.

Oman and Iran, both, have had a ressurection in the late 1970s. In Iran this was manifested in the form of the Islamic revolution. In Oman, this was the emergence of a new ruler from the sands of the desert that blew across and obscured the non-national activities going on in the Dhofar region. Where Iran took the agressive role of taking upon the world, holding (and shaking, kicking and screaming) the bull by its horns (in the form of the American Embassy thingy and its national stance), Oman slowly and steadily built shop, arranging the shelves and laying the carpet and decorating the walls; removing the shroud, one step at a time.

Fast forward to the 21st century. Like a kid running blindly over stones and uneven ground, Iran has emerged from the past 30 years way ahead, up on top of the hill, well on the way to progress and being considered a regional power. But this kid is panting and heaving, his clothes are in tatters, he has bruised and injured his knees from when he fell over in the Gulf War. His knees are recovering, but he is still running in the same careless way as before.

Oman, like the proverbial tortoise (or maybe the green turtle of R’as al Hadd), walked along the same path at a slow and stately pace. In the way, Oman took time to find a sturdy walking stick, whittle and shape it properly. It acquired proper walking shoes, selected the clearest path, managed to avoid getting his robes soiled, generally remained unscathed and has just started climbing the hill.

Now, the kid at the top of the hill’s knees are giving way. He needs shoes, a shirt, but he is at the top. He can see for miles around. He can feel the breeze. The kid at the bottom cannot see much around, but he has the walking stick and clean robes. The two are reaching out to one another. “Find me a stick like that, I’ll tell you what I can see”. “Let me have some walking shoes and I can warn you of the terrain here”, and so on a so forth.

And that, dears, is what is going on.

Even More (google)

Oman navigates between Iran and Arab Nations (NYTimes)

Iranian FM in Oman (BiW – 14/5)

Public Authority for Craft Industries visits Iran (today, 18/5)

Oman seen close to Iran (KT, April 09)

Oman-Iran discuss ways to strengthen ties (March, 09)

Iranian Naval Drills in Gulf of Oman (dec 08)

I’m not done with this yet….!!

-FK