Upside Down for Sudan

In the excitement stemming from the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain forging a path towards peace with Israel, people have speculated which Arab countries would be next. Sudan has been mentioned and the media has speculated that the United States might remove the country from states sponsoring terrorism to help make such normalization happen.

This is all a terrible idea. Sudan needs Israel, not the reverse.

Geography. The UAE and Bahrain both sit opposite the Persian Gulf from Israel’s nemesis, Iran. The proximity to that country may prove vital in dealing with such leading state sponsor of terrorism which has called for Israel’s destruction. Conversely, Sudan is over one thousand miles in the opposite direction.

Military. Both the UAE and Bahrain have over 5,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in the countries. Neighboring Kuwait and Qatar have a combined 25,000 U.S. military personnel. Coordinating forces against Iran with established U.S. military bases is an obvious advantage in stabilizing the region. Sudan has no such U.S. military presence.

Wealth. The UAE and Bahrain are very wealthy countries, with the GDP per capita of $43,000 (slightly ahead of Israel at $42,000) and $24,000, respectively. This compares to a Sudanese GDP per capita of roughly $977. The investment and trade possibilities with the Gulf states are significant while Sudan will be seeking aid from Israel, not trade with Israel.

Culture. The UAE and Bahrain are far from beacons of democracy with liberal policies, however, they are light years ahead of Sudan. Consider that each gulf kingdom still has the death penalty which Bahrain uses for premeditated murder and treason, and the UAE uses for rape, drug trafficking and armed robbery. Meanwhile Sudan kills people for homosexuality, prostitution and apostasy (converting from Islam) – “offenses” which harm no one.

Since its founding, Sudan has been through a series of civil wars, genocides and crimes against humanity. In total, over 2 million people have been killed in Sudan during some of the most heinous actions since World War II. The country remains an unstable haven for terrorists. Today’s U.S. policy vis-a-vis Sudan is “focused on ensuring that Sudan does not provide support to or a safe haven for international terrorists. If that’s the basis for U.S. policy, there is no reason for any party to go out of its way to advance normalization with this failed state.

Should Sudan want to join civilization, it can pay the hundreds of millions owed to the victims of terror, remove the penalty of capital punishment for apostasy and homosexuality, and end its systemic anti-Semitism by recognizing the Jewish State. If not, the U.S., Israel and the world will do quite well without this particular trading partner and vote at the United Nations.

Aftermath of violent clashes in Darfur on 30 December 2019

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The Arab Spring Blooms in the UAE

The Arab Spring began in December 2010 with a cry for help from a Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire. The self-immolation quickly spread as widespread protests in other Muslim Arab countries where people sought to overturn backwards authoritarian regimes which were not accountable to its citizens. The masses were seemingly tired of the kleptocracy of the ruling class, the lack of investment in education and technology to enable a 21st century economy, as well as arbitrary rules and restrictions in daily lives. The western world assumed the multi-country protests would also lead to modifications to the entrenched religious laws prohibiting basic human rights like converting from Islam and women’s emancipation, and to the elimination of executions for “crimes” like homosexuality and adultery.

The dream faded for both the local Arabs and the West.

The West watched as Egypt threw out its autocratic regime to replace it with a democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood. Much like the Palestinian Arabs who voted the terrorist group Hamas to a majority of its parliament, it seemed that the Arab masses simply craved a different type of authoritarian regime. In short order, the brotherhood was tossed out by an Egyptian military takeover. Three regimes in Egypt in two short years.

The leader in Yemen departed only to have a civil war emerge with Iranian-backed Houthis on one side and Saudi Arabian-backed rebels on the other. There was no celebrating the change in government as death knocked on every door.

The local Arabs in Syria fought their own civil war. The Syrian leader was not able to quash the rebellion with a mere 20,000 dead as his father was able to do in Hama in 1982, and has slaughtered 30 times the number (and counting) with the help of Russia and Iran. Syrians now long for the old status quo when at least they had their lives and homes with the same maniac in charge.

But in August 2020, one small country was able to rise above old hatreds and backwards thinking. The United Arab Emirates announced publicly that it would recognize and normalize relations with Israel. While arguably a non-event for two countries which had never fought a war to establish political and commercial dealings, the break from the regional antisemitic thinking was shocking, meaningful and completely refreshing.

Over the last few years the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia decided to allow women to drive, Lebanon became more accepting of homosexuality and now the UAE has reached out to the Jewish State. While it may take many years for the Arab Spring to revolutionize the ruling class, at least some countries are moving past historic antisemitic, homophobic and misogynistic patriarchal sentiments. Hopefully more will follow.

The Tel Aviv municipality building lights up with the UAE flag on August 13, 2020, after the announcement of the Israel-UAE normalization deal brokered by the US. (Tel Aviv municipality/Twitter)

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Bahrain Takes All the COVID-19 Tests But Doesn’t Give a Cent to the WHO

The pandemic is reaching all corners of the world and the United Nations Secretary General is sounding the sirens about poor countries in Africa being at great risk of being overwhelmed by the virus. UN Secretary-General António Guterres saidWe are as strong as the weakest health systems. Protecting the developing world is not a matter of charity or generosity but a question of enlightened self-interest.

He might want to address the rich Persian Gulf monarchies more directly.

Most of the COVID-19 tests have been administered by large countries like India, and hard hit countries like the United States, Italy and Spain. The table below shows the top twenty countries where tests have been administered.

Deaths/ Total Tests/ Population
Country 1M pop Tests 1M pop
USA 278 12,253,346 37,045 330,769,370
Russia 19 7,147,014 48,977 145,927,122
Germany 97 3,147,771 37,584 83,752,125
Italy 529 3,041,366 50,294 60,472,166
Spain 593 3,037,840 64,977 46,752,654
UK 513 2,682,716 39,543 67,843,268
India 2 2,302,792 1,671 1,378,344,732
Turkey 50 1,650,135 19,591 84,227,597
UAE 23 1,600,923 162,108 9,875,638
France 433 1,384,633 21,218 65,256,433
Canada 155 1,312,613 34,816 37,701,865
Australia 4 1,062,034 41,708 25,463,408
S. Korea 5 753,211 14,693 51,263,999
Brazil 79 735,224 3,462 212,376,810
Iran 84 701,640 8,367 83,859,705
Belgium 784 696,840 60,157 11,583,602
Peru 85 661,132 20,086 32,914,644
Portugal 121 652,497 63,969 10,200,144
Poland 25 636,046 16,804 37,851,440
Saudi Arabia 9 601,954 17,324 34,745,848

One country stands out in the top 20 – the United Arab Emirates. A country with fewer than 10 million people has already had over 1.6 million tests performed. It amounts to a whopping 162,108 tests per million people, or over five times the average of 31,700 per million for the other top countries.

This rich Muslim kingdom is not an outlier. Nearby Bahrain has had 143,508 tests per 1 million people.

While the UAE does contribute to the World Health Organization (less than 1.0% of WHO’s budget), Bahrain gives virtually nothing – less than Sudan, Mali, Eritrea, Uganda, Lesotho and many other African countries.

Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain

Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Oman have run 56,243, 17,324 and 11,985 tests per million people, respectively, a fraction of the rate of Bahrain, but at least each has contributed to the WHO.

Bahrain has one of the highest GDP per capita‘s in the world and has performed among the highest number of COVID-19 tests in the world, but barely gives a penny to the World Health Organization. Forget select vilification of the US for pulling funding of WHO because of the organization’s failures in handling the pandemic; how about a simple mention that it’s time for the rich oil kingdoms to contribute their share.

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The Invisible Flag in Judo and Jerusalem

They were not even supposed to be there.

Long marked for exclusion, their physical presence was repulsive to the locals. “Modern” society being slightly more “progressive” in the ancient Middle East as well as being more visible to a global audience because of the Internet, made it slightly more difficult to bar them. The vile creatures could stand there, but the rightful hosts would deny them space, honor or acknowledgement. These interlopers may be human, but their essence remained a problem.

They would sing no song, carry no flag, and represent no people.

In 2017.

In the United Arab Emirates Judo competition.

On the Jewish Temple Mount in the Jerusalem.

Judo Grand Slam

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) hosted the Judo Grand Slam in October 2017. The competition was nominally supposed to represent the best fighters in the judo martial arts from countries from around the world. Not simply from around the world, but from COUNTRIES from around the world.

The official website from the tournament listed 47 countries that participated in the event. Alphabetically, after Hungary at number 21 was “IFJ,” which stood for the International Judo Federation. Not normally considered a country, it was a name assigned to a country loathed by the host country. That despised country is Israel.

Israel is not a recognized country by the UAE. Not only does the country not have diplomatic relations with Israel, Israeli citizens are denied entry into the UAE.

That posed a problem for the UAE which was hosting the Judo tournament. Would the tournament be considered a farce if it excluded many of the best competitors? Israeli athletes had become champions in many global judo competitions and they qualified to compete at the IFJ event. How could the host country of the event deny entry to those people?

However strong their desire, the UAE could not bar the physical entry of the Israeli athletes. But that would be as far it would go.

  • The Israeli flag, national anthem and the name “Israel” would be banned from the entire program.
  • The Israeli athletes would be the only ones to not have a flag on their uniform.
  • The Israeli athletes would not have their national flag raised nor anthem played when they won medals.
  • And the name “Israel” would not even be listed anywhere among the 47 countries competing in the global event.

The “human rights” groups that monitor the Middle East would be silent. Human Rights Watch? Nothing T’ruah? Zero. OHCHR? Couldn’t be bothered. The Carter Center? You kidding me? Jimmy Carter?

Those “rights” organizations have no breath to support human decency if it means defending Israel or Israelis. For “progressive” groups, Israel is solely the object of scorn and condemnation.

The Jewish Temple Mount

For 3000 continuous years, there has been a single place which Jews have revered as their holiest location: the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Jews had two temples there, and after the Second Temple was destroyed, Jews continued to pray in the direction of their holy temples. Until this very day.

At Israel’s founding in 1948, the surrounding Arab countries invaded in the hopes of completely destroying the new Jewish state. At war’s end, the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan took over the western side of the Jordan River through the eastern half of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount. The Jordanians promptly evicted every Jew from their illegally seized land.

The Jordanians annexed the region in 1950 in a move that was not recognized by virtually the entire world. In 1954, the Jordanians gave citizenship to every person that lived or had lived in these acquired lands, but deliberately excluded Jews to make sure that the Jews could not re-enter their land, including Jerusalem.

Israel reunited Jerusalem in 1967 after the Jordanians attacked Israel again. It reopened the Old City for Jews to live, visit and worship.

Well, not exactly.

The Israelis gave administrative control of the Temple Mount to the Islamic Waqf shortly after the 1967 war ended. The Waqf has denied Jews the right to pray at their holiest site. Jews cannot carry Jewish prayer books nor Israeli flags.

The Jews can be there physically as human beings, but nothing more.

Kotel Plaza, the closest an Israeli flag can come to the Jewish Temple Mount

And human rights organizations reacted: they were appalled that Jews were even visiting the Temple Mount.

Ir Amim, a radical left-wing organization had the following to say about Jews visiting the Temple Mount in October 2017:

Over the Sukkot holiday, the number of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif compound continued to rise: according to Temple activists, some 2,000 visitors ascended the Mount during the holiday. From Rosh Hashanah until the end of Sukkot, the number of Jewish visitors totaled about 3,000. These numbers, according to the estimates of the Temple Movements, represent an increase of 30%-40% in the number of visitors relative to last year.

More worrying than the increase in and of itself, however, is the evident change in policy by the police: Greater coordination and friendly relations have been witnessed between the police and Temple Movement activists. Larger and sometimes multiple groups of activists have been allowed to enter the compound, and restrictions on non-Muslim prayer on the Mount appear to have been relaxed. The police permitted a mass religious ceremony to be held, for the first time, near the Western Wall plaza, rather than within the Jewish Quarter as in previous years. Activists were also permitted to put up a sukkah, bearing the emblems of the Temple Movements, on the ramp leading to the Holy Esplanade.

These troubling changes in policy and relations between the police and the activists are undermining the spirit of the status quo on the Mount, if not eroding the status quo in practice.”

Ir Amim called it out: a small handful of Jews can be at Judaism’s most revered location, but they cannot be treated like everyone else.

Whether in Judo competitions or in Jerusalem, a small handful of Jews are reluctantly permitted to stand alongside every other human being on the planet. Still, they must be bleached of their Judaism and cleansed of their affiliations with the Jewish State. The racists, the anti-Semites and progressives know a good status quo when they see one.

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