DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 11,1-13. He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples."He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test." And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,' and he says in reply from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.' I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?"
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for July 30/07
Kouchner brings together rival Lebanese leaders-Reuters South Africa
Karnit Goldwasser: They can't play on my feelings-Jerusalem Post
Armed Force to Combat Weapons Influx from Syria-Naharnet
Kouchner Warns of Renewed Violence in Lebanon-Naharnet
No Breakthrough in Kouchner's Beirut Mission-Naharnet
Lebanese Army Chief Says Victory is 'Imminent,' Troops Kill 8 Militants-Naharnet
Nasrallah: Last Summer War Thwarted U.S. Plans for New Mideast-Naharnet
Lebanon troops say 8 militants killed-Los Angeles Times
2 soldiers killed in refugee camp fight-Chicago Tribune
France pursues Lebanon diplomacy-United Press International
France fears new war in Lebanon-BBC Bulgaria
Spanish foreign minister to visit Lebanon on Sunday-Monsters and Critics.com
Lebanese troops kill 8 militants in refugee camp-USA Today
Report from Lebanon: One of captive soldiers dead-Ynetnews
Parents blast report of soldier dead in Hezbollah captivity-Ha'aretz
French FM voices concern over Lebanon crisis-Al-Bawaba
Lebanon's by-elections threaten fragile situation - Feature-Earthtimes.org
Nasrallah: US pressured Israel to go to war-Ynetnews
Hezbollah rejects U.S. vision of Mideast-AP
Nasrallah: US vision for 'new Mideast' shattered by Lebanon war-Ha'aretz
Germany: Lebanon's Aoun motivated by personal ambition-Ya Libnan
US vs. Iran: Cold War, Too-Washington Post
The Saudi fantasy-Ha'aretz
Lebanon faces 'civil war risk'-Gulf Daily News
Pity Lebanese Democracy: Do Not Vote on August 5-American Chronicle
US raids charity organization that
supports Lebanon's Hezbollah
Sunday, 29 July, 2007
Dearborn, MI - A Dearborn-based charitable organization suspected of providing financial support to Hezbollah — a political and paramilitary organization based in Lebanon — was shut down Tuesday following a series of raids executed by members of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. Hezbollah has been designated by the United States as a terrorist organization — one of more than 40 worldwide — and has been linked to several terrorist activities, including suicide bombings, the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in 1985 and rocket attacks against Israel in 2006. Following Tuesday's searches, the Goodwill Charitable Organization (GCO) — located on Warren Avenue near Schaefer Road in Dearborn — has been designated as a Hezbollah-affiliated organization and shut down, according to Special Agent Dawn Clenney of the FBI's Detroit bureau. "The organization was given this designation by the U.S. Department of the Treasury based on an investigation conducted by the Detroit FBI," Clenney said. "There were no arrests made and no one has been formally charged at this time."
According to a press release issued by the U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday, the GCO is a fundraising office established by the Martyrs Foundation — a "parastatal organization that channeled financial support from Iran to several terrorist organizations in the Levant — a region in the Middle East — including Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad." The GCO has provided financial support to Hezbollah directly and through the Martyrs organization, the release said. Hezbollah's leaders in Lebanon have allegedly instructed Hezbollah members in the United States to send their contributions to the GCO and to contact the GCO for the purpose of contributing to the Martyrs Foundation.
Since its founding, the GCO has sent a significant amount of money to the Martyrs Foundation in Lebanon, the department said. "We will not allow organizations that support terrorism to raise money in the United States or to evade our measures and continue to operate simply by changing their names," said Stuart Levey, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
The CGO was one of two Muslim charities in Dearborn searched Tuesday by members of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, which has led some members of the Arab American community to express concern that the organizations were targeted because of their religious affiliation.
"I don't want to believe that, but I can't deny that many of the charities that have been raided so far are Muslim charities," said Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
In September 2006, the FBI raided the Southfield offices of Life for Relief and Development, a large and highly respected Muslim charity under investigation in connection with its activities in Iraq. The raid happened on the eve of Ramadan, a holy month in which Muslims are required to give to worth causes. The organization was not shut down and no charges have been filed, but the investigation continues.
"I think it's important to remind everyone that giving to charity is not only a Muslim value, it is an American value," Hamad said. "As Arab Americans, we feel we are an integral part of this nation and its future — but we also cannot deny that prejudice and discrimination exist."
A second Muslim charity searched on Tuesday — the Al-Mabarrat Charitable Organization — remains in operation and is accepting donations.
Founded in 1991, the Al-Mabarrat Charitable Foundation — located on Schaefer just north of Warren Avenue — is a well-known and highly regarded charity, Hamad said, especially among Shia Muslims.
"Al-Mabarrat has been around for many years, which has led us to ask why it was searched now, when we are again approaching the holy month of Ramadan," he said. However, Hamad did commend FBI officials and others at the local, state and national level for their willingness to work together to help alleviate concerns from members of the community immediately following the searches.
"I can't count the number of meetings we've had on this topic," he said. "We have engaged in numerous discussions, and have made it clear this action should not cast a shadow on all charities. "Helping those in need is a part of the American way of life — it's not limited to a single religion. We urge all members of the public not to surrender to their fears." Federal agents leave the Goodwill Charitable Organization in Dearborn this morning. Agents raided the offices as part of an investigation into alleged ties between the charity and Hezbollah. Sources: Press & Guide
Karnit Goldwasser: They can't play
on my feelings
By JPOST.COM STAFF-Jul. 29, 2007 10:11
Karnit Goldwasser, wife of kidnapped reservist Ehud Goldwasser, responded on Sunday to a report in the Lebanese media that one of the two captives held by Hizbullah was dead by saying that to her sorrow, she was "used" to such reports. "They can't play with my feelings, and I know that they wouldn't just release information to [a] newspaper," Goldwasser told Army Radio. "I know Michael Aoun, so this report isn't worth anything to me," she said.
Nasrallah: Last Summer War Thwarted
U.S. Plans for New Mideast
Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said last summer's war with Israel had thwarted U.S. plans for a new Middle East and warned his group will continue to possess a large rocket arsenal to strike Israel again if Lebanon came under attack.
"This war aimed to impose a new Middle East, broken up into confessional and ethnic mini-states, serving the interests of the United States and Israel," Nasrallah said in a speech broadcast Saturday. "There is no new Middle East," Nasrallah told an estimated 5,000 seated supporters in Bint Jbeil, one of the towns hardest hit by last summer's war. "It's gone with the wind."Nasrallah did not personally attend the rally to mark the first anniversary of the war which Hizbullah calls "a divine victory. His speech was relayed to the crowd on a giant screen set up in the main square of Bint Jbeil.
He said that "the American project was swept aside by the victory of the Islamic Resistance," the armed wing of Hizbulllah.
Nasrallah charged that the July-August war was the result of "a U.S. decision" and the United States provided Israel with "political and material support."
Nasrallah, who has been in hiding since the war sparked by Hizbullah's capture of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid, said both Washington and Israel were counting their losses since the conflict. He said Hizbullah would never be at peace with Israel.
"We will not wait for anyone to defend us. We will defend ourselves and our country," he said. "We possess and we will continue to possess rockets that can hit any area in occupied Palestine if Israel attacks Lebanon," he added. Hizbullah launched nearly 4,000 rockets at Israel during the 34-day war.
"It is impossible to live with a back-stabbing enemy on our border, who has been assaulting us ever since it was born."
Another aim of the war, which cost more than 1,200 lives in Lebanon, mostly of civilians, according to Nasrallah, was to strengthen the government of Prime Minister Fouad Saniora. "The Israelis and Americans wanted the Saniora government to expand its authority to the whole of Lebanon's territory to the detriment of the resistance, but that was another failure," he said, gesticulating with his right hand to stress his points. Nasrallah added that Israel's only hope for the return of its two captured soldiers was the release of Lebanese prisoners it held.
"The only way is indirect negotiation which frees the Lebanese detained by Israel," he said. Nasrallah renewed his call for a national unity government and dismissed allegations that his group is seeking to govern Lebanon or impose tyrannical rule over the country.Addressing Christians, Muslims and Druzes, he said: "We want Lebanon to be a nation for all (Lebanese), with all its religions and sects.""Our utmost ambition is partnership … political partnership," Nasrallah claimed. "Our utmost ambition is to be treated as normal Lebanese citizens and not as second-class citizens." Lebanon has been plunged in a deep political crisis since mid-November when six pro-Syrian ministers, including five Shiites, stepped down from the Saniora government, demanding the formation of a new cabinet with greater representation.(Naharnet-AP-AFP) Beirut, 29 Jul 07, 07:50
Kouchner Warns of Renewed Violence in Lebanon
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner warned Saturday of the danger of violence if the eight-month standoff between Lebanon's political parties is not solved through negotiations. "The Lebanon dialogue can continue, and I think today has seen some progress," he told reporters after meeting the pro-Syrian opposition speaker of parliament, Nabih Berri. "But that does not mean everything has been settled …If the Lebanese do not resume this necessary dialogue, unfortunately there will be more war," Kouchner warned. "There are clans, struggles, sorts of poker games over power... but this is a deadly game in Lebanon," he said.
Kouchner met civil representatives before meeting Berri, a member of the Shiite-led opposition, and then had lunch with Western-backed Prime Minister Fouad Saniora. "I know that deep down, everyone in Lebanon wants reconciliation... maybe not the politicians, maybe not those who seize power and want to keep it... but civil society has had enough of war," Kouchner said.
He later met separately with rival Christian leaders Michel Aoun, a key member of the opposition and declared presidential candidate, and Lebanese Forces Leader Samir Geagea who supports the government. Rounding off his consultations, Kouchner also held talks with Hezbollah's former minister Mohammed Fneish and foreign relations chief Nawaf Mussawi. The resignation last November of six pro-Syrian ministers, five of them Shiite, sparked the current political standoff, the country's worst since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war. Hizbullah, the Shiite group backed by Syria and Iran, is pushing for the opposition to be better represented in government in order to give it veto power. But the majority insists this can only happen if Hizbullah agrees to stop blocking parliamentary sessions in order to ensure the quorum needed for the presidential elections to replace pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud by a November 22 deadline.
If the parties fail to resolve their differences in the coming weeks that could spark a dangerous power vacuum or even the creation of two rival governments that would plunge the country into further chaos. France has taken the lead in trying to resolve the crisis, gathering all the parties for a conference near Paris earlier this month and sending a top envoy to the region for consultations with all the key players. These talks did not yield much in the way of results, but Kouchner stressed on Saturday that the process was ongoing. "This is not a moment of despair, nor is it a moment of joy," he said. "We will continue, I am available, France is available."
But he also said that any solution had to come from within the country itself. "We won't find a solution from outside... there are countries that weigh more than others on Lebanese decisions, but the only way to get away from these exterior positions and pressures is to have unity and reconciliation among the Lebanese," Kouchner said.
He is due in Egypt on Sunday to meet the foreign ministers of Egypt and Saudi Arabia and the Arab League secretary general to brief them on his Beirut visit.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 28 Jul 07, 14:49
Lebanese Army Chief Says Victory is
'Imminent,' Troops Kill 8 Militants
Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman said Saturday in a rare statement that the showdown against Fatah al-Islam militants reached its final stages.
Suleiman said that the much-awaited final assault against the remaining members of the terrorist group in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp was "imminent," the Associated Press reported. Meanwhile, Lebanese troops stormed a tiny enclave held by Fatah al-Islam terrorists in the camp Saturday, killing at least eight militants.
The state-run NNA said eight militants were killed in a sudden attack carried out by commando units of the Lebanese army against the Amqa sector, which is a junction commanding both flanks of the terrorists' enclave in the demolished camp. The army also moved armored vehicles and 106-mm jeep-mounted recoilless cannons into the camp in an apparent effort to demolish fortified bunkers and tunnels used by the terrorists in their fight which broke out May 20.
Army shelling of Fatah a-Islam outposts registered the intensity of three shells per minute, field reporters said.
The general impression among field reporters covering the confrontation is that the army would achieve its total victory on Fatah al-Islam quite soon. The camp's population, estimated at 31,000 people before outbreak of the fighting, has evacuated to safety during lulls leaving behind the terrorists' families, estimated at around 70 women and children. The army command, in a communiqué, renewed its repeated calls on the terrorists to allow their families to leave and refrain from using them as human shields. The communiqué noted that the army's casualties have been relatively high in the Nahr al-Bared battle mainly because the regular force was keen on pacifying civilians. The confrontation started when Fatah al-Islam terrorists killed 27 soldiers in unprovoked ambushes across north Lebanon more than two months ago.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 28 Jul 07, 15:12
Armed Force to Combat Weapons Influx
The Lebanese government decided on Saturday to create a mobile force backed by German experts to combat the influx of weapons trafficked into the country from Syria. "The government approved the formation of a force composed of soldiers, security agents and customs officers ... charged with controlling the northern border with Syria," said Information Minister Ghazi Aridi. "The force will be assisted by German experts," Aridi told reporters at the end of a government meeting.
Germany will supply Lebanon's customs authorities with equipment that will help it detect weapons under an agreement reached this week.
The assistance falls within the scope of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701. The resolution ended last year's 34-day war between Israel and Hizbullah, and calls for the prevention of illegal arms sales and smuggling. A report made earlier this year by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon found "serious breaches" of the arms embargo imposed under the UN resolution, which the United States says Syria or Iran breach to supply arms to Hizbullah.(AFP) Beirut, 28 Jul 07, 17:07
Gulf Boom and Lebanese Dreams
The highly savvy Arab Gulf States, organized and integrated within the Gulf Cooperation Council, have pushed economic development beyond anything imaginable in the Arab world. Meanwhile, the “smart” Lebanese continue to follow Hassan Nasrallah’s divine and imbecilic victories and wonder why they can’t achieve their dream of becoming a Hong Kong on the Mediterranean or another Monaco . Like the heroes of Gabriel Garcia-Marquez’s novels, the Lebanese live in a world of fantasy where their superiority and supremacy are constantly aggrandized, backed by a misplaced pride in ancient accomplishments dating back to 2000 BC, and where everyone around them is jealous of them and is trying to bring them down, even as the real and tangible world around them is a decomposing, garbage-strewn, swampy kind of world that is rooted in religious dementia and feudal hatreds. Thanks to leaders like Hassan Nasrallah, Michel Aoun, Walid Jumblatt, Amin Gemayel, and Saad Hariri, the Lebanese are made to believe idiotic conspiracy theories that say that Israel is after them because it fears that Lebanese ingenuity will threaten Israel ’s economic domination of the region.
Just looking at the transformation taking place in the Gulf, the Lebanese have to realize that they have been barking at the wrong tree, and that the only enemy they have is themselves. The enemy is within. No economic boom or transformation will happen as long the Lebanese hate the world and think themselves better than the rest of the world. The Gulf Cooperation Council was created some 30 years ago. That is how long it took the Arab Gulf States to learn how to work together, how to invest their oil revenues for the long term survival of their region, and they have begun to harvest the rewards. The Lebanese, on the other hand, want a great economy under giant portraits of Hassan Nasrallah and Khomeini. They want economic booms while “resisting” the enemy and liberating Palestine more so than the Palestinians themselves. And they want sustainable growth after 30 years of killing and mayhem under the rule of fanatic militia and feudal gangs. They go begging for international aid which they then squander to line the pockets of the leaders they chose. Those are not the ingredients of prosperity. They are the ingredients of decline and decadence. Lebanon ’s future as it looks now is more like the barren hills of Afghanistan under the Taliban where the only economy is the growth of the poppy and the production of heroin. Turbans, beards, and burqas everywhere.
Mideast: Gulf Boom Is Changing the Region
An unprecedented boom is changing the region—and echoing far past its borders.
We all know the headlines by now: the Middle East is burning, right? So it seems, as Palestinians and Iraqis wage civil war, Lebanon seethes, Syria and Israel trade barbs and Iran spits defiance. Yet beyond the smoke a very different story is emerging nearby. In the Arab states of the Persian Gulf , times have never been better. Business is booming. And political conflict has become a foreign phenomenon, watched on flat-screen TVs in the air-conditioned living rooms of Doha , Dubai , Kuwait City, Muscat and Riyadh .
It's no exaggeration to say that the oil-rich states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)— Bahrain , Kuwait , Oman , Qatar , Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates —are enjoying a transformational moment, one that could deeply affect the region if not the world. Buoyed by unprecedented oil prices, these states are awash with cash. In the past five years, they have earned a staggering $1.5 trillion for their petroleum, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF). And there's no end in sight: by the close of 2007, the IIF says, the GCC will have picked up an additional $540 billion, more than the combined exports of Brazil , India , Poland and Turkey
All that green has turned the once backward region into the world's 16th largest economy, according to IIF. And if present trends continue, the GCC zone could become the world's sixth largest by 2030. What's most remarkable, however, is how the new money is being spent. The gulf has experienced oil booms before, but rarely managed to capitalize on them; three decades ago an oil windfall helped states modernize infrastructure and health services, but many leaders blew much of the money on defense or vanity projects, or simply hid profits in Western banks.
Today, by contrast, the gulf's farsighted, business-minded political leaders are joining with their more mature and innovative private sectors to ensure the money is wisely spent. Led by Dubai , which is fast becoming a modern banking and financial-services hub, cities in the region are embracing reform and charting an ambitious agenda for the future. "A new gulf is dawning," says Edmund O'Sullivan, the Dubai-based editorial director of the Middle East Economic Digest (MEED). "And it's moving much faster and smarter than it did in the 1970s."
The revival, says Fareed Mohammed of PFC Energy in Washington, D.C., is due to "excellent macroeconomic policies, strong technocratic capacity, a vastly improved regulatory environment, a private sector willing to both invest and innovate, and strong global links in services." As he notes, "All of these ingredients have come together to support sustainable growth."
Consider: the IIF estimates that $1 trillion of the $1.5 trillion windfall has stayed in GCC states, being spent on imports or development. That's a big improvement on the past, when much money was stashed in Swiss banks or squandered on weapons. True, some of today's spending, especially on the red-hot real-estate market and extravagant tourist projects, has raised concerns. But industrial investments, which are critical to helping the region diversify its economy beyond oil, are rising.
This is especially so in Saudi Arabia, which, according to Georgetown's Jean-François Seznec, is on target to become the world's top petrochemicals producer by 2015. New steel, aluminum and plastics plants are also on the way.
In fact, a new breed of company is now emerging in the region, one that is highly efficient, ambitious and globalized. These new gulf firms are creating jobs, feeding the growth cycle and helping economies diversify. And they are starting to affect other economies around the world. Leading the pack is Emirates Airline, an award- winning company that in the next decade is expected to become the planet's largest air-travel operator. (At a Paris air show in June, Airbus booked an astounding $32 billion in orders from gulf-based businesses.) Meanwhile, the Dubai-based Emaar real-estate firm is now building projects from Casablanca to Karachi , and the U.A.E.'s Etisalat is winning telecom contracts from West Africa to Pakistan .
Some of these businesses may be government-owned or -controlled, but they are a far cry from the inefficient state-sponsored enterprises of the past. These are not sinecures for tea-sipping bureaucrats; they attract top talent, compete globally and win international awards. They're also supporting the growth of related but truly independent gulf-based companies, such as Aramex, a regional transport company based in Dubai . Fadi Ghandour, the company's founder, directly credits his success to the "astonishing growth of Dubai as a business hub," saying that his company simply could never have grown so rapidly in his native Jordan .
On the government level, a lot of money is still being invested in safe havens like the United States (about $300 billion this time) and Europe (about $100 billion). But in the past five years, Gulf states have also invested $60 billion in the needy regions of the Middle East and North Africa and have put another $60 billion in Asia . This has led to the creation of gulf-driven boom pockets in Egypt , Morocco and Jordan . It has also led to the creation of a New Silk Road, as trade between the GCC and Asia has quadrupled in the past decade. Gulf investors are now lining up to buy Asian assets; when the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China held an IPO last year, for example, the biggest buyers hailed from Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia.
Taken together, these trends have given the gulf a higher global profile than it has ever enjoyed. For example, the vast debts of countries like the United States are now being financed with cash from three areas of the world: China , Japan and the gulf. This means that the GCC states have become a major force in growing concern over global imbalances. It also means that they have a clear stake in stoking global growth led by the United States , lest their own fortunes fall.
Of course, for the trend to continue, the Gulf states must keep pushing reform. By enacting business-friendly laws, Dubai has already become the Hong Kong of the Middle East : a free trade hub that fuels the larger economies. The regional heavyweight, Saudi Arabia , has also taken positive steps, dramatically trimming its debt, enacting pro-business laws and joining the World Trade Organization last year. The Saudi private sector has started pulling its weight; in the 1970s it accounted for less than 10 percent of the country's GDP, whereas today the figure is more like 60 percent. And King Abdullah has launched a $600 billion infrastructure development plan, aiming to create several new multi-billion-dollar industrial, financial and manufacturing "cluster" cities. These include the $27 billion King Abdullah Economic City that could, on its completion, house 2 million people and create 1 million jobs in an area the size of Paris .
But laggards remain. Saudi Arabia 's education system needs to start producing more high-tech graduates and fewer experts in Islamic studies. Kuwait seems content to follow its old model, growing fat off oil profits and investing in blue-chip companies. And Oman , though ruled by a modernizing sultan, has been slow to embrace the new turbocharged business climate. Throughout the region, says Alex Theocarides, a Geneva-based private banker, "the rule of law and transparency remain weak" and crony capitalism still holds sway: business is dominated by a closed circle of princes and merchants who prevent the development of a truly independent entrepreneurial culture.
Still, what's impressive is how even the quality of those cronies has improved, says O'Sullivan of MEED. "The majority of [the gulf's] ruling princes are modernizers with their eyes on business," he notes. Unlike the military-minded autocrats of other Arab states, these merchant princes are adding "shareholder value" even as they grow fat off insider deals. Thus, according to the World Bank and World Economic Forum, the GCC now offers a far better business climate than the rest of the Arab world.
Of course, the other Middle East could still interfere with the gulf's progress. Conflict in Lebanon or the Palestinian territories would be unlikely to have much effect, but Iraq 's unraveling has probably already limited foreign investment. And a U.S. conflict with Iran , which sits right across the Persian Gulf from the GCC, would slow business and threaten tanker traffic in the vital Strait of Hormuz , through which 90 percent of gulf oil passes. That said, even conflict could have its upside: Iranian capital is already fleeing to Dubai (at last count, Dubai had 9,000 Iranian-owned businesses), and the exodus could increase in the event of war.
Absent these gloomy scenarios, the gulf boom seems likely to continue. As Sheik Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai , likes to say about his ambitious city-state, what we see today is just a slice of his master plan. It's exciting to ponder what the rest of it will bring, and the effect it will have on the gulf—and the world.
***Molavi, a journalist and fellow at the New America Foundation, is writing a book about the Persian Gulf region.