Touchy Topics in the Gulf,

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November 1990 Issue [Readings]

Touchy Topics in the Gulf


From “Customs and Culture,” a chapter in the troop-information pamphlet distributed by the U.S. Central Command to all U.S. armed forces in Saudi Arabia. Soldiers are encouraged to keep this pocket-size booklet with them at all times.


This list of sensitive subjects is general in nature and applies to the entire Area of Responsibility (AOR) [i.e., the Persian Gulf region]. The following items and topics should be avoided or handled carefully.

• Articles and stories showing U.S.–Israeli ties and friendship.
• Material deemed immoral or critical of state policies or actions; pictures of men and women embracing, kissing, in sexual encounters, dancing; images of male or female nudity.
• Sensual advertisements for perfume, blue jeans, women’s lingerie, gambling, alcohol, etc.
• Ads for pork or shellfish.
• Arab student demonstrations in the United States.
• Anti-Arab demonstrations or sentiments in the United States.
• Films or newsclips featuring pro-Zionist actors and actresses (e.g., Barbra Streisand, Liz Taylor).
• Discussing U.S. involvement in supporting Israel and Israel’s current presence in Lebanon; U.S. strategic cooperation with Israel.
• Implying that the United States might consider an intervention action in the Gulf without being “invited.”
• Discussing the “Jewish lobby” and U.S. intelligence given to Israel.
• Discussing strategic cooperation between the United States and any country in the AOR.
• Discussing the host country’s reservations about the peaceful intentions of other Arab states.
• Discussing the presence and role of AWACS in the AOR.
• Discussing unfavorable actions by Arabs while out of the AOR, such as “playboy”-type activities; misrepresentation of Arabs in the U.S. press.
• Proselytizing for non-Islamic religions.
• Implying that any Arab country is totally dependent on foreign manpower for its economic and military structure.
• Criticizing Islamic religious customs, women’s rights, enforced dress and moral standards, and media coverage and censorship.
• Photographing airport or port facilities, military sites, women, religious sites, or anything that would cast a negative light on the host country.
• Referring to the Arab blacklisting of U.S. companies that do business with Israel or the Arab boycotting of companies that have strong Zionist representation in executive positions.