Sunday, May 22, 2011

Obama ♥ Iran: A Love Story

As discussed already, the portion of Obama's Cairo II speech dealing with Bahrain, though officially "welcomed" by the Bahraini government (if in a dismissive sort of way), has riled many of the country's government supporters. A common sentiment on Twitter, for example, is something like the following:

More formally, Yusif Al Bin Khalil, a writer in the hard-line Al-Watan newspaper associated with the royal court, has produced since May 18 three different variations on the same theme: namely, that the U.S., and the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain in particular, is aligned with the country's opposition. The series is subtly titled "Washington and the Sunna of Bahrain."

#1 - "Washington and the Sunna of Bahrain: The New Supporters" (18 May)
#2 - "Washington and the Sunna of Bahrain: The Embassy's Cake" (20 May)
#3 - "Washington and the Sunna of Bahrain: Americanization of the Opposition" (22 May)
#4 - "Washington and the Sunna of Bahrain: The American Studies Center [of the University of Bahrain] (23 May)

(Update: actually, a friend points out that this writer and this series goes back much further, at least since late April:

April 21: "When Will America Understand Who is the Strongest in Bahrain Now?"
April 22: "When Bahrain is Presented as a Gift [to Iran]"
April 23: "Washington's Friends in Manama"
April 24: "Washington and the Sunna of Bahrain: Beginnings of Introduction"
April 25: "Washington and the Sunna of Bahrain: The Start of the Conflict"
April 26: "Washington and the Sunna of Bahrain: Open Attack"
April 27: "Washington and the Sunna of Bahrain: The Curse of Bush"
May 3: "Washington and the Sunna of Bahrain: The Fool of NATO"
May 4: "Washington and the Sunna of Bahrain: The Occupation Scenario"
May 5: "Washington and the Sunna of Bahrain: Funding the Opposition"
May 6: "Washington and the Sunna of Bahrain: Fear of the Monster" - An attack on MEPI and the National Democratic Institute
May 7: "Washington and the Sunna of Bahrain: Policies of Humiliation" - An attack on Human Rights Watch
May 8: "Washington and the Sunna of Bahrain: Sunni and Shi'i Terrorism"
May 9: "Washington and the Sunna of Bahrain: Who Fooled the Americans?"
May 10: "Washington and the Sunna of Bahrain: Who Has the Legitimacy to Rule?"

Okay, I am getting tired of listing all these. But you get the idea. They continue until the May 18 story listed originally. The full list, all by Yusif Al Bin Khalil, is here.)

Even better is the invective circulating around pro-government forums, which includes such photoshops as the following:

"It isn't for you to get involved in Bahrain. Do you understand?" (Notice the Iranian flag in the background.) And similarly:

This looks like it comes from somewhere else, but it's made its way around the forums nonetheless. Then, we have this tongue-in-cheek gem showing Obama taking part in a Shi'a passion play procession during Muharram.

The caption is: "Majusi [slur for "Shi'i"] Obama spotted last year during Muharram roaming around after he finished serving tea [to celebrants]."

Even better than a photoshop, finally, is this half English/half Arabic poem written to Obama and posted to Bahrain's most popular pro-government Sunni forum. Unfortunately, the forum-goers seems not to understand it because of all the English (one says, "حدد موقفك ياعربي يا انج علشان نفهم شسالفة هني"), but here is a translation. (If you think you can offer a better version of the lines with the [?], be my guest.)

الى اوباما

To Obama

من العبد البور من

From the useless slave

الى مستر أوباما

to Mr. Obama,

رئيس امريكا

President of America

السلام على من اتبع الهدى

(peace be upon those who follow true guidance),

اما بعد :

the following:

آي ونت آسك يو فروم الكليج العربي

I want to ask you from the Arab Gulf:

آيم دونت هف بربلم اذ يو تحمون الكليج

I don’t have a problem if you all [in the U.S.] protect the Gulf,

بت اي هف بربلم بتدخلكم بالشيعة بالكليج

but I have a problem with you interfering for the [sake of the] Gulf Shi‘a.

يو آر نت هف انصاف واي دنت مسك

You are not fair. Why don’t you

العصي بالعدل وودنت مسكها من المدل

wield the stick with justice [?], and grasp it from the middle?

مستر اوباما يو اسمروالكليج سمر واي التحيز

Mr. Obama, you are brown-skinned, and the Gulf is brown-skinned. So why the bias

للعجم الفرس اف يور خوالك هز نو ذس

in favor of the Persian ‘Ajam? If you’re black, [unclear?].

مستر اباما اف اوت بوش وكمن يو اي آسك

Mr. Obama, Bush is out [?] but like you I ask [?].

ذس نايس ولكن آي هف مثل ان كليج طلقها

This is nice, but I have an example: it’s as if you divorced the Gulf

واخذ اختها ويو كمل

and married its sister [i.e., Iran], and you go on [like nothing happened].

مستر اوباما لا بد يو تكون نو بطبائع الكليج العربي

Mr. Obama, you have to know the Arab Gulf culture and customs.

واي يودنت اندر استند مشكال الكليج بالصحيح

Why don’t you understand the real problem of the Gulf?

مستر اوباما واي يو متحيز للفرس ايران الفيران

Mr. Obama, why are you taking the side of the Iranian rats

ضد السنة هل لأن بيفور هزموكم وكل يور اجاكم

against the Sunna? Is it because they defeated you before

في الهرب ام هناك امور مور

in war? Or is it something else?

مستر اوباما يو دنت تيرن تيرن ان ذا سيركل امبتي

Mr. Obama, you don’t turn, turn in empty circles.

والسلام على من اتبع الهدى

Peace be upon those who follow the right path.

Update: in a considerably more cordial letter than this poem, the National Unity Gathering has sent an official response to Obama expressing its "reservations" and "surprise" at his speech, in particular his "disregard for one of the main components" of Bahraini society--one "representing more than half of the country's Sunnis, Shi'is, Christians, and Jews" (all dozen of them I guess)--namely the National Unity Gathering. (More excepts from the letter (Arabic) are here.)

Its representatives, including Sh. 'Abd al-Latif Al Mahmud, also met today with representatives of the U.S. Embassy to deliver its message about the Obama speech. Evidently as proof of the meeting, they have posted some photos here and here. (Update: I guess these have been taken down now. Being seen meeting with U.S. Embassy people is probably a liability these days.)

Update 2: an anonymous commentator passes along another Obama sighting, this time in Sitra! !!خطير

More Updates: It seems everyone is now getting in the mix. Despite the National Unity Gathering's group-wide letter to Obama, both al-Asalah and al-Manbar al-Islami have posted their own individual replies to his remarks on Bahrain. And the Coalition for a Republic has done the same.

al-Asalah: Twitter
al-Manbar: Facebook
Coalition for a Republic: Facebook


(Obama's speech on Bahrain)

Citizen: "I don't hear you; I hear what my national conscience tells me, and it's that stability and security are what's important to Bahrain."


  1. you should add this photo also:

    I can't believe they are serious!
    Obama in Sitra village!

  2. lol , hilarious post , let me add this

    1-someone actually posted that , since Obama's middle name is "Hussain" and mother's name is "sakeena" , then he has to be "Shitte" !!

    2- Others created a petition " twition" through twitter that says " I am a Bahraini citizen, and i'm against Obama's speech"

    another twitition: @BarakObama & #Iran shut up & don't interfere in #Bahrain..the latter one has only 7 signatures

  3. Mr. Gengler, what is the point you are trying to make in this rather lame posting?

  4. @Anon above me: Because they're humorous yet accurate analysis of the situation in Bahrain?

    You know if they hurt your precious feelings, you can simply not read them :)

  5. "Lame posting"? What would you like? A review of your favorite band?

  6. hahah i hope they are not serious .. it's a disaster if they are thinking this way .. OMG !
    I think the one who fabricate this photo is al-saeedi or moh'd khalid groups .. .. hehe everything is possible JUST in Bahrain

  7. I still don't understand what interest the USA would possibly have in seeing a Wilayat Faqih in Bahrain where their 5th fleet is based. Surely if there was an Islamic state loyal to Iran the base would be the first thing to go, these articles seem to be suggesting that the USA wants the overthrow of the regime precisely to pave the way for an Iran style theocracy.
    Can anyone enlighten me as to what the actual argument is? I've read through most of the articles but must be missing something pretty fundamental as it just doesn't seem to make any sense to me at all.
    It seems more like sour grapes over the muted criticism than anything real.

    Brilliant blog, always thought provoking and entertaining :)

  8. Justin maybe you could provide us some insight of what is to come.

    This is my understanding:
    -Protestors are going to protest "hard" on june 1 but still peacefully.
    -Cops are gonna crush them quickly not even allowing them leave the village let alone their homes.

    Opposition members are saying its time to move away from peaceful protesting because the riot police wont let you protest peacefully. Time to use some "force".

    What do you think should be the next move if the opposition want any chance in returning to the streets?

  9. I was just doing a search for Michael Moore and found this here blog post of yours. Catchy. I'm happy to read that you are safe and home in the U.S. I noticed I had a reader overseas for a while, and before I freaked out too much I Googled you. I hope you are doing well. I read on your sister's FB that she is going to be an aunt, and I am left wondering if you are going to be a daddy?!?!


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