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EDITORIAL

Editorial comment from Matthew Steeples Our editor tells it like it is and he rarely minces his words

An Al-Sabah’s understanding of the Middle East

A letter to the FT strikes a chord with thousands

 

Though I’ve yet been unable to confirm categorically that it is indeed from him, a letter to the Financial Times last week from, I presume, my old friend Sheikh Khaled Naser Hamoud Al-Sabah of the London office of the Kuwait Investment Office (KIO), is a must read. It surmises the current situation in the Middle East perfectly and given my knowledge of this particular individual, I do believe it has to be from him as it is both wise and witty.

 

K. N. Al-Sabah's letter to the "Financial Times", published 22nd August 2013
K. N. Al-Sabah’s letter to the “Financial Times”, published 22nd August 2013

The letter reads:

 

From Mr K N Al-Sabah.

 

Sir, Iran is backing Assad. Gulf states are against Assad!

 

Assad is against Muslim Brotherhood. Muslim Brotherhood and Obama are against General Sisi.

 

But Gulf states are pro Sisi! Which means they are against Muslim Brotherhood!

 

Iran is pro Hamas, but Hamas is backing Muslim Brotherhood!

 

Obama is backing Muslim Brotherhood, yet Hamas is against the US!

 

Gulf states are pro US. But Turkey is with Gulf states against Assad; yet Turkey is pro Muslim Brotherhood against General Sisi. And General Sisi is being backed by the Gulf states!

 

Welcome to the Middle East and have a nice day.

 

K N Al-Sabah, London EC4, UK

 

Unusually for a piece of correspondence that would normally have been lost in the letters pages, this particular member of the Al-Sabah family’s points have attracted great interest both there and elsewhere.

 

A short guide to the Middle East in diagram form by @pdmsero on Twitter
A short guide to the Middle East in diagram form by @pdmsero on Twitter

In the newspaper, Abigail Fielding-Smith produced an analysis of the reaction to the letter today and on Twitter and Facebook, it has supposedly been shared by thousands. Chat show host Piers Morgan and Islamic scholar Hayder al-Khoei have discussed it and Felix Salmon of Reuters persuaded someone to turn it into a diagram.

 

Whilst some may criticise this letter as an oversimplification, it has raised a number of valid points in a succinct and clever manner. The Middle East is a web and it is one that will prove virtually impossible to disentangle.

 

 

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Comments

14 comments on “An Al-Sabah’s understanding of the Middle East”

  1. This is definitely not from any member of the main Al Sabah family: doubtless a spoof and nonetheless no less amusing for that.

    1. I do believe it is Pete and I have reliable sources that have just effectively confirmed that it is. Equally, the FT (if they are like The Telegraph) check their letter writers credentials before publishing. That the KIO is based in EC4 is an indicator also.

  2. Why doesn’t the West leave the Middle East and all the tribes sort it out amongst themselves with no further involvement by the West whatsoever. So many millions are given to ‘approved’ factions under the misguided guise of furthering democracy. Hopefully within the next ten years we will be energy independent thanks to shale gas and our choice to ‘protect ourselves from terrorism by sending our wonderful British servicemen and woman to their deaths in senseless wars where have not a snowball’s chance in hell of winning (Afghanistan, Iraq …) will be history.

    I wonder if this will eventuate in surprisingly rapid reconciliation of the warring Middle Eastern factions, when oil loses its power ?

  3. Should the US do the bidding for the House of Saud – just because they have a President who doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut and then must rely on others to bail him out.

  4. Goolam: please, go to an optometrist…what you see like an elephant is a little dog, very affraid about the intentions of the neighbours!

  5. This letter is also used by respected foreign reporter Bernard Hammelburg in the Netherlands to get the message across to the listeners of his radio column. Really nice is the fact that he decided to add his understanding of the stand of the West (pro or against) takes on invading/attacking Syria in the same manner. You can read it here in Dutch: http://www.bnr.nl/opinie/bernard-hammelburg/article1992562.ece

    What you get is (I did my best to translate it so the message conveyed in Dutch comes across in English as well):
    Obama is against Assad. Cameron is against Assad and pro Obama. The British Parliament is against Cameron and Obama and thus pro Assad. Hollande is pro Obama and Cameron and against Assad. The French Parliament is against Hollande and thus pro Assad. Israel is against Assad but Hezbollah is pro Assad. Israel is also against Hezbollah so actually pro Assad. Russia is against Obama, Cameron and Hollande and actually against everybody except Russia. The American, British and French people are against and thus pro Assad. And that all because of two words: Red Line.

    Welcome to the Middle East and have a nice day.

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