Finian Cunningham – 10 June, 13 – Strategic Culture Fondation
One of Isaac Newton’s laws of physics states that «for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction».
In light of French claims this week that Syrian state forces were guilty of having used chemical weapons, we may apply a variant of Newton’s law to the study of political diplomacy – for every action, expect an equal and opposite pre-action.
On Wednesday morning, 5 June, around 6am local time, dramatic news came out of Syria that the Syrian Arab Army had finally retaken the strategic town of Qusair. The victory followed several weeks of heavy fighting with the Western-backed militants, who had first taken occupation of the town a year ago. Backed by the Lebanese militia of Hezbollah, the Syrian army reportedly killed thousands of the anti-government militants and routed thousands more to regain full control of Qusair.
Located in the central province of Homs near the border with Lebanon, Qusair is a key transport and logistics hub for the rest of Syria, linking north and south, and providing a corridor to the Mediterranean coast. As one Syrian army commander put it before the recapture of the town this week: «Whoever controls Qusair controls the whole of Syria.»
The victory for the government forces of President Bashar al-Assad may well prove to be a turning point in the more than two-year war.
Despite the Western government and media narrative describing the violence in Syria as the result of «a popular pro-democracy uprising» that has turned into a «civil war», the weight of evidence shows a very different scenario. That is, that the conflict in Syria is mainly a result of a covert war for regime change sponsored by the chief NATO powers of Washington, London and Paris, along with their regional allies of Israel, Turkey, Jordan and the Persian Gulf Arab oil kingdoms.
Syria is, from this viewpoint, a crucial staging post for Western imperialist plans to roll over the oil-rich Middle East in order to install regimes that are pliant with Western geopolitical interests. These interests include untrammeled access to the world’s main oil and gas reserves, eventual regime change in the regional powerhouse of Iran, and the denial of vital resources and markets to the West’s global rivals of Russia and China.
The outcome of the battle for Qusair this week is therefore not just setback for anti-Assad «rebels», as the Western media like to call them, but rather it is a defeat for the NATO-led axis and its strategy for regime change in Syria and the wider region. The military and propaganda significance of this defeat cannot be underestimated, and it comes as a crucial moral boost for the Assad government in Damascus ahead of the international peace conference in Geneva that Moscow and Washington are convening, due to take place sometime over the next few weeks.
Washington, London and the former colonial power, Paris, have together invested huge political capital in this covert, criminal proxy war for regime change in Syria. The NATO states have mounted a relentless campaign to discredit the incumbent Assad government as illegitimate. Their respective foreign ministers, John Kerry, William Hague and Laurent Fabius, have repeatedly demanded President Assad to stand down, claiming that he is a despot who is unfit to govern. Those petulant demands now seem increasingly vain and, frankly, comedic.
The routing this week from Qusair of the Western-backed ragtag foreign mercenaries, including brigades from the Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front, is emphatic illustration of NATO’s bankrupt agenda in Syria. This was no «noble resistance» to an encroaching despot, but rather it was the lifting of an occupying siege that had been imposed on a town of 30,000 inhabitants by Western-backed foreign gangs, which have no popular support among ordinary Syrian citizens.
If, for argument’s sake, this had been the advance of a cruel, murderous army of a cruel, murderous despot, why were there not scenes of public pandemonium and hysteria, with thousands of desperate civilians trying to escape before the fall of Qusair? On the contrary, it seems that the arriving Syrian army was welcomed by the town’s residents, relieved that the siege had finally been broken.
Some 10,000 of Qusair’s inhabitants had managed to flee months ago from the occupying militants and their withering application of Islamic fundamentalism over the past year. The mercenaries fighting in Syria come from more than 30 countries, including Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, the Russian Caucasus, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. They all share, apparently, a devotion to the extremist Wahhabi ideology of Islam, which sees all other non-subscribing Muslims (the vast majority) as «infidels» to be persecuted along with Christians and non-religious. Shia Muslims and Alawites in particular are «to be wiped out», according to the recent comments of one so-called Free Syrian Army commander.
This brutish, sectarian mindset, of course, plays very well for the Western agenda of subversion and sabotage in Syria, as it did during the 1980s in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. Not that you will see this unvarnished truth being reported in the Western media coverage of the conflict in Syria. Oh no, the Western governments are allegedly supporting «democracy-loving rebels» – incongruously with the help of those well-known democracy-loving regimes in Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and in the news elsewhere this week, Turkey. …more
June 10, 2013 Add Comments
Government continues to promote arms to Saudi Arabia as human rights deteriorate
21 May, 2013 – Campaign Against Arms Trade
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has condemned as shameful the UK government continued eagerness to sell arms to the authoritarian regime of Saudi Arabia, despite their worsening human rights situation and almost complete lack of democratic institutions.
New government data reveals that in 2012 the UK licensed weaponry worth £111.7 million to Saudi Arabia, plus £5.6 million worth of “dual use” goods. Overall, Saudi Arabia is the largest market for UK arms, buying almost £4 billion worth of weapons and military services between 2008 and 2012.
In 2007, Saudi Arabia contracted to buy 72 Eurofighter Typhoon jets, from arms giant BAE Systems, in a deal worth up to £6 billion. Although the first 24 jets were delivered and arrangements put in place for servicing, upgrading and delivering the remaining 48 aircraft, a final price has yet to be agreed. In November 2012 David Cameron visited Saudi Arabia to help seal the deal – however, the negotiations continue.
The continued arms sales drive comes despite Saudi Arabia’s deteriorating human rights record:
- Saudi Arabia’s ranking in the The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index 2012 declined further to 163 out of 167 countries, and it was given zero points for “electoral process and pluralism”. The only countries ranked lower were Syria, Chad, Guinea Bissau and North Korea.
- Saudi Arabia’s press was assessed as “not free” by Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press Index 2013 which listed it as joint 182 of 197 countries listed.
- Saudi Arabia was listed as a “country of concern” in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Annual report on Human Rights and Democracy 2012.
Despite its “country of concern” label, Saudi Arabia was simultaneously listed as a “priority market” by UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO), the government’s arms sales unit, which regularly invites official delegations from Saudi Arabia to arms fairs and related “trade exhibitions” in the UK.
CAAT spokesperson Kaye Stearman said:
When it comes to Saudi Arabia the UK government completely disregards any considerations of human rights in its effects to sell arms, whether they be Eurofighter Typhoons, Tactica armoured vehicles or small arms and ammunition.
The Prime Minister and arms company executives visit Saudi Arabia to beg for orders and routinely roll out the red carpet for Saudi delegations to the UK, as they will be doing in September for the DSEi arms fair. It’s time to end this damaging and dangerous relationship and stop selling arms to this repressive and despotic regime.
Arms export data – UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia
In 2012 the UK licensed weaponry worth £111.7 million to Saudi Arabia . The main items licensed fell in the categories: “aircraft, helicopters, drones” – £81.4 million; “armoured vehicles, tanks” – £8.8 million; “technology” – £3.8 million; “imaging equipment” – £3.5 million; “other electronic equipment” – £3.2 million; “grenades, bombs, countermeasures” – £3.2 million; “ammunition” – £2.1 million; “chemical, biological agents” – £1.5 billion; and “small arms” – £1.2 million.
In addition, there were licences totalling over £3.6 million for dual use items of “telecommunications and information security”, which could be used against dissidents.
In the five years 2008-2012, the UK licensed arms worth over £3.9 billion to Saudi Arabia, with “aircraft, helicopters and drones” (essentially, Eurofighter Typhoon sales and services) taking the lion’s share at £3.4 billion. There were also substantial amounts of other military equipment and services, including £236 million of “grenades, bombs, missiles and countermeasures”, £90 million of small arms and £67 million of armoured vehicles and tanks. (For these and other items see full list.) In addition, the UK also licensed over £147.5 million worth of “dual use” goods. …source
May 21, 2013 Add Comments
21 May, 2013 – Punch
A Bahraini court sentenced nine Shiites to jail terms ranging between 10 and 15 years on Monday after convicting them of forming a ‘terrorist’ group, a judicial source said.
Cleric Ahmed al-Majed and a second defendant were jailed for 15 years, while a third defendant was sentenced to 10 years.
The three were the only defendants to appear in court, as the other six remain at large and were sentenced in absentia to 10 years, the source said.
The first two were convicted of “forming an illegal group that aimed to jeopardise the rule of law and obstruct state institutions from performing their duties… through using terrorism,” the source said, quoting the list of charges.
The other seven defendants were accused of joining the group despite knowing of its “terrorist objectives”.
All defendants were convicted for “possessing explosives”, the source added.
Scores of Shiites have faced jail terms over accusations of involvement in violence since protests against the regime of the ruling Al-Khalifa Sunni dynasty erupted in February 2011.
Despite a heavy-handed crackdown by security forces in mid-March 2011, supported by Saudi-led Gulf troops, protesters were shortly back on the streets, mainly in Shiite villages, where they frequently clash with police.
At least 80 people have been killed in Bahrain since February 2011, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.
Strategically located just across the Gulf from Iran, Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet and is also a major offshore financial and services centre for its Arab neighbours in the oil-rich Gulf.
Meanwhile, thousands of people rallied in the Shiite village of Nuwaidrat, south of Manama, to welcome an imprisoned opposition leader who was released briefly for his mother’s funeral, witnesses said.
Supporters filled the streets on Monday to welcome Abdulwahab Hussein, the head of the Shiite Wafa Islamic Movement.
Hussein was to return to prison later, Al-Wefaq, the Shiite main opposition group, said on its website.
He is serving a life sentence with six other opposition leaders and activists after being convicted of plotting to overthrow the monarchy.
They are part of group of 21 sentenced to jail terms ranging from five years to life over their roles in the nationwide protests.
Seven were sentenced in absentia. …more
May 21, 2013 Add Comments
“On the Ropes”, Bahrain Regime Struggles Daily to Maintain Reign of Terror as “friends” grow distant
20 May, 2013 – By FPIF – By Husain Abdulla
More than two years after peaceful demonstrators took to the streets to demand reforms, Bahrain’s uprising has not abated. Activists and opposition groups continue to demand the basic human rights and political reforms promised to them by their government. Rather than meet the opposition’s calls for reform, the government of Bahrain has responded by subjecting citizens to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, interrogation, torture, and abuse.
Human rights activists such as Naji Fateel, board member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, and Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, are frequently subjected to arbitrary arrest and ill treatment. Similarly, medical professionals who have been interrogated, detained, tortured, and convicted for providing medical care to injured protesters remain in prison or have not been allowed to return to work. Educators who have endured similar ill-treatment continue to be fired from their positions or languish in prison, while soccer players who were banned from their clubs for participating in protests remain blacklisted or live in self-imposed exile to continue playing the sport they love.
The demands of the opposition movement are hardly unreasonable, which makes the government’s recalcitrance all the more suspect. The people of Bahrain want a representative government and an elected prime minister. They want a representative of the king to participate in the national dialogue. They want an end to human rights abuses and accountability for those who committed them. They want the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), a body commissioned by the Bahraini government following the 2011 protests, to be fully implemented. They want prisoners of conscience, jailed for exercising their rights to free speech and expression, to be released. They want to be able to associate freely in political groups, civil society organizations, unions, and associations. In the grand scheme of things, the financial, moral, and political cost to the Bahraini government for granting these requests would be negligible.
Unfortunately, reform — the key to Bahrain’s stability and security — is what the Bahraini government seems determined to prevent. As the U.S. State Department noted in its 2012 Human Rights Country Report on Bahrain, although the government of Bahrain has made “some” progress in implementing reforms since 2011, that progress has not been significant. The report found that the Bahraini government frequently did not respect its own laws regarding human rights, let alone the standards set by international human rights treaties. Additionally, the report highlighted cases of arbitrary arrest and detention; restrictions placed on freedom of speech, press, and assembly; and the use of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, among other rights abuses.
Bahrain’s response to the 2012 country report has been predictably shrill, a sure sign the U.S. State Department struck a nerve with a regime that has become increasingly sensitive about its image. Unfortunately, the Bahraini government seems unable or unwilling to recognize that the best way to improve its image is to undertake the reforms that the king promised in 2011. …more
May 21, 2013 Add Comments
19 May,2013 – FARS
TEHRAN (FNA)- The intimidation and suppression of protesters by the Bahraini regime cannot stop the revolution in the country, a senior Iranian lawmaker said on Sunday, and condemned the Manama forces for their recent raid on the home of leading Shiite cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Qassim.
“The Al Khalifa regime has resorted to intimidation by attacking leaders of the revolution due to its failure to contain popular protests after several months of peaceful protests by the people of Bahrain,” Seyed Mohammad Mehdi Pourfatemi said.
Speaking to ICANA, Pourfatemi stressed the ineffectiveness of suppressive measures on the Bahraini people’s quest for freedom, and noted that the people have prepared themselves to pay any price for their revolution.
As regards the recent attack on Sheikh Qassim’s home, the Iranian lawmaker underlined the Shiite cleric’s popularity among the people, and added that the raid was aimed at intimidating people and revolution leaders.
The Bahraini forces raided Sheikh Issa Qassim’s home in the village of Diraz on Friday and searched the house.
Witnesses said the regime forces broke the doors of Sheikh Qassim’s house and damaged his property.
Women and children of the sheikh’s family were in the house at the time of the raid, but the sheikh was not at home.
Later, thousands of Bahraini protesters marched outside Manama to oppose the al-Khalifa security forces’ attack.
The protesters held pictures of their top religious leader during a protest against the ruling al-Khalifa regime. …source
May 21, 2013 Add Comments
Remembering Karim Fakhrawi – Intensified Collective Punishment, Torture, Abuse, Continues in Bahrain
Wife of martyr Kareem Fakhrawi joined the protest in Manama earlier today, 12 February, 2013
Al-Wasat -April 12, 2011, in Manama, Bahrain
Fakhrawi, founder and board member of Al-Wasat, the country’s premier independent daily, died in state custody a week after he was detained, according to news reports. Human rights defenders told CPJ that Fakhrawi had gone to a police station on April 5 to complain that authorities were about to bulldoze his house.
Bahrain’s official news agency said on Twitter that Fakhrawi died of kidney failure. Photographs published online, however, showed a body identified as that of Fakhrawi with extensive cuts and bruises.
The journalist’s arrest came amid sweeping civil unrest in Bahrain and a government crackdown on independent reporting. In early April, the government accused Al-Wasat of “deliberate news fabrication and falsification,” said it would file criminal charges against three of the paper’s senior editors, and deported two of its senior staffers.
Fakhrawi was one of numerous investors in Al-Wasat, local journalists told CPJ. He was also a book publisher, the owner of one of Bahrain’s biggest bookstores, and a member of Al-Wefaq, Bahrain’s chief opposition party.
Fakhrawi’s death was the second media fatality in Bahrain in less than a week, both occurring in government detention facilities. In the two decades prior to that, no journalists had died in relation to their work in Bahrain, CPJ research shows. …source
May 20, 2013 Add Comments
May 20, 2013 Add Comments
17 May, 2013 – WSN World
NABEEL RAJAB fighting for human rights in the prison Bahrainis’ follow with concern reports of the breakdown in communication between the director of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab and his family. Human rights activist Nabeel Rajab was arrested and sentenced to 3 years because of his human rights activities carried out by the media through his distinctive highlight the revolution of the people of Bahrain.
Mr. Nabeel Rajab sentenced in Jaw Prison Call for days before his wife, Ms. Sumaya Rajab and he asked her to send an urgent appeal to human rights organizations, because he saw police in Bahrain tortures children in prison and Mr. Nabeel Rajab was angry and the call had been disconnected immediately!
Ms. Sumaya Rajab and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights sent appeals of Mr. Nabeel Rajab, to all human rights organizations and the international community about torture of children Nabeel Rajab saw in prison.
Mr. MP Osama Tamimi contacted the Privy Council and told them about the allegations of Mr. Nabeel Rajab and asked them to verify.
Ms. Tara Secretary General of the Organization of Bravo (Bahrain Rehabilitation & Anti violence organisation) contacted the prison manager Jaw Mr. Rashid Al-Husseini, but Mr. Husseini did not respond and did not cooperate with her.
This incident shows why the prison administration in Bahrain kept Mr. Nabeel Rajab from other prisoners of conscience not to see the abuses & documented.
The prison administration now abducted Mr. Nabeel Rajab to an undisclosed location and his family is concerned about his safety.
A official of monitoring and documentation of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights Mr. Yousef Abdul Jalil an interview with the BBC channel in which he said that Mr. Nabeel Rajab’s family worried for his safety as the Human Rights Organization and issued a statement condemning the taking of Mr. Nabeel Rajab from jail to an undisclosed location. …source
May 17, 2013 Add Comments
By Brett Wilkins – 16 May, 2013 – Digital Journal
Boston – Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev reportedly left a note claiming responsibility for the deadly terror attack in the boat he was hiding in as as police closed in on him last month.
According to CBS News, the note, which was scrawled on a wall with a marker, is “part manifesto, part suicide note and part justification for the killing and maiming of innocent civilians.” The teen allegedly wrote that his actions were motivated by US foreign policy and that the Boston victims were “collateral damage,” just like American leaders claim that the tens of thousands of innocent Muslims killed during the War on Terror are also unavoidable collateral damage.
“When you attack one Muslim, you attack all Muslims,” Tsarnaev allegedly wrote.
Nothing justifies the horrific slaughter and maiming of innocent civilians. But this applies to the United States as much as it does to those who would do us harm. This is a notion that too many Americans cannot seem to grasp. More than 100,000 innocent Iraqis perished during the eight-year US-led invasion and occupation of that nation. More than 15,000 innocent Afghans have been killed since the US launched its anti-terror offensive there in the wake of the September 11, 2001 tragedy. Drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia have killed hundreds more innocent men, women and children. America’s apologists attempt to justify this slaughter by arguing that US forces do not deliberately target civilans like terrorists do. Do you think that matters to the dead victims or to their millions of grieving friends and relatives?
In addition to all these deaths, the War on Terror has maimed hundreds of thousands of innocents, left countless wives widowed and children orphaned, and displaced millions. It has ruined Iraq’s economy and poisoned many of its children as well as its environment.
In addition to killing innocent civilians by bombs and bullets, American forces and contractors in the War on Terror have committed widespread documented atrocities that have fueled anti-American sentiment throughout the Muslim world. Among these: intentional murder of innocent civilians, murder of detainees in US custody, torture, rape of civilians, rape of male and female detainees, intentional false imprisonment of innocent civilians and of innocent men and boys at Guantánamo Bay, sex trafficking of Afghan boys, corpse desecration and destruction and desecration of Korans. This list is by no means exhaustive.
Additionally, US support for Israel’s brutal and illegal occupation of Palestine– which many critics consider a campaign of colonization, ethnic cleansing and apartheid– infuriates the Muslim world. So does Washington’s continuing history of backing dictators who have brutally repressed hundreds of millions of people throughout the Muslim world, from Morocco in the west clear across to Indonesia in the east.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush famously asserted that terrorists “hate us for our freedoms,” a claim repeated ad nauseum by countless Americans of all political stripes who would prefer not to acknowledge the truth of why highly-educated men with loving families would sacrifice their lives for a chance to take ours.
US leaders have known precisely why “they hate us” since as far back as 1958, when the National Security Council reported to President Dwight D. Eisenhower that “in the eyes of the majority of Arabs, the United States… is seeking to protect its interest in Near East oil by supporting the status quo and opposing political or economic progress.”
For self-serving reasons, Washington has time and again chosen tyranny over liberty in the Muslim world. The princes of Arabia, after all, keep the oil flowing. The torturers of Bahrain and Jordan provide valuable ‘stability.’ But what Americans often forget is that there are people who live in those countries who suffer terribly under US-backed regimes. These people look to America and our freedoms with envy, not hatred. But they seethe at how Washington enables their own repressive governments to deny them those very same liberties in order to preserve authoritarian rulers who serve US interests.
“They” hate the glaring hypocrisies and double standards that abound in Washington’s treatment of the Muslim world: Iraq is viciously attacked for invading Kuwait while Israel gets carte blanche to destroy homes and lives in the Palestinian territories it invaded; Sudan is made into a pariah for its treatment of its Christian minority while Russian atrocities against Muslims in Tsarnaev’s native Chechnya are ignored.
Of course, to acknowledge or even debate the real reasons why terrorists target Americans is highly taboo in our society. We ignore the clearly-stated motives given by terrorists from Osama bin Laden to Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab to Nidal Hasan to Tsarnaev and others and instead blame Muslims’ rage against the United States on inherent cultural or religious flaws– even on sexual frustration, anything to avoid assuming responsibility for our own country’s significant role in breeding anti-American hatred and vengeance.
Until we have the collective courage to confront America’s ugly and ongoing history of killing, maiming, exploiting and oppressing Muslims (along with much of the rest of the global South), we should expect more Dzhokhar Tsarnaevs and more– and bloodier– Bostons.
We reap what we sow.
May 17, 2013 Add Comments
Cornel West: Obama ‘Is a War Criminal’
13 May, 2013 – Common Dreams – Jacob Chamberlain
In an interview with the Guardian published on Sunday, renowned professor and prolific critic of the “military-industrial-complex” and rampant “plutocracy” in the U.S. and around the world, Dr. Cornel West explained his views on the state of America today and his fall from grace, by design, with President Barack Obama: “He’s just too tied to Wall Street. And at this point he is a war criminal.”
Cornel West (Photo: David Levene / the Guardian) “They say I’m un-American,” West told interviewer Hugh Muir, referring to Obama’s team.
But from someone who actively campaigned for the man, only to be quickly and vastly disappointed, West sees in Obama the epitome of Washington corruption:
“He talked about Martin Luther King over and over again as he ran,” West said of their campaign stops together, adding later, “You can’t just invoke Martin Luther King like that and not follow through on his priorities in some way.”
“King died fighting not just against poverty but against carpet-bombing in Vietnam; the war crimes under Nixon and Kissinger.”
West goes on:
You can’t meet every Tuesday with a killer list and continually have drones drop bombs. You can do that once or twice and say: ‘I shouldn’t have done that, I’ve got to stop.’ But when you do it month in, month out, year in, year out – that’s a pattern of behavior.” [...]
I think there is a chance of a snowball in hell that he will ever be tried, but I think he should be tried and I said the same about George Bush. These are war crimes. We suffer in this age from an indifference toward criminality and a callousness to catastrophe when it comes to poor and working people.” [...]
“I knew he would have rightwing opposition, but he hasn’t tried,” West said of Obama’s unwillingness to curb Wall Street’s hold on Washington. “When he came in, he brought in Wall Street-friendly people – Tim Geithner, Larry Summers – and made it clear he had no intention of bailing out homeowners, supporting trade unions.”
And he hasn’t said a mumbling word about the institutions that have destroyed two generations of young black and brown youth, the new Jim Crow, the prison industrial complex. It’s not about race. It is about commitment to justice. He should be able to say that in the last few years, with the shift from 300,000 inmates to 2.5 million today, there have been unjust polices and I intend to do all I can. Maybe he couldn’t do that much. But at least tell the truth. I would rather have a white president fundamentally dedicated to eradicating poverty and enhancing the plight of working people than a black president tied to Wall Street and drones.”
May 16, 2013 Add Comments
May 16, 2013 Add Comments
May 16, 2013 Add Comments
16 MAy, 2013 – Shia Post
“Hopefully we will slaughter all of them [Alawites]. I have another video clip that I will send to them. In the clip, I am sawing another shabiha [progovernment militiaman] with a saw. The saw we use to cut trees. I sawed him into small pieces and large ones.” Al-Hamad said.
Khalid al-Hamad, left, in an undated photo that originally appeared on the website of the Syrian rebel group, the Independent Omar al-Farouk Brigade, which he commands.
News sites around the world have shown Khalid al-Hamad sink his teeth into what appears to be the lung of a dead Syrian government soldier. His fellow rebels have called for him to be arrested or killed for the act. Human-rights groups have condemned him. But al-Hamad has no regrets.
In an interview conducted via Skype in the early hours of May 14, al-Hamad explained to TIME what caused him to cut out the soldier’s organs: “We opened his cell phone, and I found a clip of a woman and her two daughters fully naked and he was humiliating them, and sticking a stick here and there.”
The video, a 27-second clip in which al-Hamad brandishes organs that appear to be the lungs and heart of the Syrian soldier who lies dead at al-Hamad’s feet, was first seen by two TIME reporters in April. A few weeks later, TIME obtained a copy. Though we had been told by witnesses to the filming that the video was legitimate, we set about authenticating its content, aware of the potential that it could have been faked for propaganda purposes. Al-Hamad has now confirmed that the video is real, and that he did indeed take a bite of the soldier’s lung. (At the time of filming, al-Hamad believed he was biting into the liver. A surgeon who has seen the video confirms that the organ in question was a lung, which somewhat resembles the liver). On May 12, a copy of the video appeared on a proregime website, sparking a flood of Facebook Shares and YouTube views.
Al-Hamad, who is Wahhabi (extremist Sunni) and harbors a sectarian hatred for Alawite and Shiite Muslims, said he has another gruesome video of his killing a government soldier from the Alawite faith. “Hopefully we will slaughter all of them [Alawites]. I have another video clip that I will send to them. In the clip, I am sawing another shabiha [progovernment militiaman] with a saw. The saw we use to cut trees. I sawed him into small pieces and large ones.” Al-Hamad also explained that even though both sides of the conflict in Syria are using video clips of their own brutal actions to intimidate the other, he believes his clip would have particular impact on the regime’s troops. “They film as well, but after what I did hopefully they will never step into the area where Abu Sakkar is,” he said, using his nom de guerre and referring to the part of Syria he currently controls.
Human Rights Watch (HRW), which validated the video, released a report on May 13 identifying al-Hamad as a well-known commander responsible for the recent cross-border shelling of a Shi‘ite Lebanese village that killed two. The organization called on the U.N. Security Council to refer the Syria situation to the International Criminal Court to ensure accountability for all war crimes and crimes against humanity. “It is not enough for Syria’s opposition to condemn such behavior or blame it on violence by the government,” said Nadim Houry, HRW’s deputy director for the Middle East. “The opposition forces need to act firmly to stop such abuses.”
Al-Hamad, who has been fighting on the front lines near the strategic town of al-Qusayr for the past week, said the video captures the first time he had ever attempted to eat an enemy’s liver. He indicated that the triumph of the regime over the oppositions had driven him to extremes. …more
May 15, 2013 Add Comments
May 15, 2013 1 Comment
15 May, 2013 – ABNA
Britain police have arrested a Bahraini activist for disrupting Britain’s annual Royal Windsor Horse Show, attended by Bahraini ruler Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah to protest his regime’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
Bahraini activist disrupts UK Royal Horse Show
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – The 26-year-old Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei was swiftly stopped by security forces and arrested while he shouted slogans demanding that the Al Khalifa regime release Bahraini political prisoners.
He was carrying a placard that read “Your Majesty the Queen, stop supporting the dictator of Bahrain”.
Alwadaei who was kept in detention for seven hours told Press TV that he took the action because “it hurts [him] to see [King Hamad] enjoying himself at a time while people in Bahrain are suffering from his rule”.
The Royal Windsor Horse Show is held every year on the Queen’s estate, the Windsor Castle.
The 2013 edition of the show is celebrating its 70th anniversary and included a special show by the Bahrain Arab Horse Display.
During the ceremony, the Bahraini ruler also presented the British Queen two pure-bred Arabian horses in recognition of her efforts to promote Bahraini-British relations.
Britain has been one of the main supporters of the Bahraini regime despite its bloody crackdown on peaceful protesters and has sold the regime £13 million worth of weapons between 2008 and 2012. …source
May 15, 2013 Add Comments
Spinless,Cowardly King of Baharain, would shame canines if called a dog, locks-up Six for Insulting Him
By REUTERS – 15 May, 2013 – NYT
A Bahraini court jailed six people for a year on Wednesday for insulting King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa in messages on Twitter, the official news agency said. The six were accused of posting remarks “undermining the values and traditions of Bahrain’s society towards the king on Twitter,” the head of the public prosecutor’s office, Nayef Youssef, said in a statement reported by the Bahrain News Agency. He said freedom of opinion and expression were guaranteed by the Constitution, law and international conventions, but should not be used in a way that contradicted the norms of society. The news agency gave no further information about the six. …source
May 15, 2013 Add Comments
Bahrain: Human Rights Activist Nabeel Rajab Missing from Prison
By Gianluca Mezzofiore – 15 May, 2013 – IB-Times
Prominent Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has gone missing from his prison cell and moved to an unknown location, according to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR).
Rajab, who has served 11 months of a two-year sentence for “encouraging illegal gatherings” during the 2011 uprising in the tiny Gulf island, called his wife on 14 May and told her that “he had witnessed the torture of young political prisoners at the hands of prison guards at Jaw prison”.
“He raised his voice telling them to stop, and when they realised that he had witnessed what was happening, they quickly left,” BCHR said in a statement.
“Nabeel Rajab asked his wife to request that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visit him in prison so he can give them his testimony of what he had witnessed. Rajab’s wife received a phone call that evening informing her that Nabeel was reportedly removed from his cell that night by prison guards and was not returned.”
The 48-year-old has been at the forefront of the pro-democracy protests in the Gulf Kingdom and has more than 200,000 followers on Twitter.
Prison officials repeatedly refused him medical treatment for a back injury, according to his wife Sumaya Rajab. …more
May 15, 2013 Add Comments
8 May, 2013 – Bahrain Freedom Movement
Human rights activists Zaynab al-Khawaja (L), Yousif al-Mahafdhah (C) and Naji Fateel march towards al-Eker village before being detained by police, south of Manama on 21 October 2012
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) call for urgent action by the international community to stop the ongoing attacks against human rights activists in Bahrain, to immediately release human rights defenders, Naji Fateel who was arrested at dawn on 2 May 2013, and to stop the judicial harassment of Zainab Al-Khawaja who is currently serving a three-month prison sentence and expecting more prison verdicts this month.
Human rights defender, Naji Fateel, board member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), has been arrested without warrant by security men in civilian clothes at his home in the village of Bani-Jamra at dawn on 2 May 2013. His lawyer, Mohammed Al-Mahdi requested information from the Public Prosecutor’s office about his client, however the office declared that they have no information about him and are not aware of any charges against him. As of then, there has been no information as to his whereabouts.
Fateel was arrested last year on 14 February 2012 while he was participating in a peaceful march heading to the Pearl Roundabout area, the now restricted center of the 2011 protests for rights and democracy. Before that, he was detained between December 2007 and April 2009, and has been reportedly tortured. He has also been subjected to death threats since March 2011 due to his work in the defense of human rights.
Fateel suffers from damage to his spine and his current incommunicado detention raises concerns for his well-being.
GCHR and BCHR believe that the arbitrary arrest of rights defender Naji Fateel has taken place solely because of his activity and work in the defense of human rights.
The authorities have taken human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja to court for charges in more than 10 cases, at least four of them are still active and the verdict is expected in relation to two cases on 9 and 15 May, 2013. Al-Khawaja has been in prison since 27 February 2013 when she was sentenced for “participating in an unauthorized demonstration and entering a restricted zone”. BCHR and GCHR fear that Zainab will be sentenced to further periods of imprisonment.
Zainab Al-Khawaja, a renowned Bahraini activist, has had an active role in the human rights and pro-democracy movement in Bahrain. She has helped since February 2011 in telling the world of the protesters’ demands and exposing the Bahraini authorities’ crimes. She has been arrested several times, detained for months and has at least 10 active cases in court against her for charges related to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. …more
May 14, 2013 Add Comments
8 May, 2013 – Bahrain Freedom Movement
TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Bahraini opposition figure dismissed talks between the al-Khalifa regime and the country’s dissidents as meaningless, and said the Bahraini people are determined to end the rule of the al-Khalifa dynasty.
“The Bahraini people’s revolution is a revolution of major change to overthrow the al-Khalifa regime and it doesn’t accept compromise,” Secretary-General of Bahrain Freedom Movement Saeed al-Shahabi told FNA on Tuesday.
He described talks between the al-Khalifa regime and opposition forces as useless and meaningless due to the continued imprisonment of Bahraini activists in the al-Khalifa jails, and rejected the proposal for the Bahraini crown prince’s succession to the thrown to replace his father.
“The Bahraini people will not accept the crown prince as the ruler of the country since he has collaborated with his father and uncle in the suppression of the people,” Shahabi underlined.
Anti-government protesters have been holding peaceful demonstrations across Bahrain since mid-February 2011, calling for an end to the al-Khalifa dynasty’s over-40-year rule, end of discrimination, establishment of justice and a democratically-elected government as well as freedom of detained protesters.
Violence against the defenseless people escalated after a Saudi-led conglomerate of police, security and military forces from the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar – were dispatched to the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom on March 13, 2011, to help Manama crack down on peaceful protestors.
So far, tens of people have been killed, hundreds have gone missing and thousands of others have been injured. …more
May 14, 2013 Add Comments
08 May, 2013 – Bahrain Center for Human Rights
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is seriously concerned for the health and well being of imprisoned activists, human rights leaders and political leaders who are currently being denied access to adequate healthcare and denied their right to receive visits from family members, their lawyers, and denied consular services. Members of the ‘Bahrain 13′ and Zainab Al-Khawaja are being denied these rights because of their refusal to wear a prison uniform. Members of the Bahrain 13 are currently being denied access to sanitary items, such as shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, and laundry detergent. In Bahrain, prisoners are required to buy these essential items in a prison store. All members of the Bahrain 13 are currently denied access to this store because they refuse to wear the prison uniform. They are therefore unable to maintain appropriate hygiene. A doctor working closely with the BCHR stated that “denying the prisoners from buying sanitary and hygienic items will promote the spreading of skin diseases such as scabies, body lice and other contagious diseases and risks an epidemic within in the jail”. The BCHR reiterates that healthcare and hygiene are non-negotiable human rights, and under no conditions should they be withheld from prisoners as punishment. The United Nations standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners clearly states that “prisoners shall be required to keep their persons clean, and to this end they shall be provided with water and with such toilet articles as are necessary for health and cleanliness.” …source
May 14, 2013 Add Comments
12 March, 2013 – FARS
TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian legislator said that the political and social crises in Saudi Arabia will soon deepen due to the absence of democracy in the Arab country.
“New rifts will soon surface in Saudi Arabia’s social and political structures due to the absence of democratic freedoms in the kingdom,” member of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Abbasali Mansouri Arani said.
“Given the structure of the ruling system, we will witness rifts in Saudi Arabia’s ruling system and social strata in the near future,” he added.
The senior Iranian lawmaker called on Al Saud government to implement fundamental changes in its ruling system in a bid to survive a popular revolution that will lead to its downfall as was the case with the former regimes in Egypt and Libya.
There have been numerous demonstrations in the oil-rich Eastern Province since February 2011, with protestors primarily calling for political reform and an end to widespread discrimination.
Anti-government protests intensified, however, since November 2011, when security forces opened fire on protestors in Qatif, killing five people and leaving scores more injured.
In October 2012, Amnesty International called on Saudi authorities to stop using excessive force against the protestors.
Saudi forces have also arrested dozens of people including prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nemr al-Nemr.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi regime “routinely represses expression critical of the government”.
Also in October, the Saudi Interior Ministry warned the public against staging demonstrations in support of the prisoners in the kingdom and pledged to deal “firmly” with those participating in such protest rallies. …source
May 14, 2013 Add Comments
8 MAy, 2013 – ADHRB
On May 8, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) sent a letter to Ms. Irina Bokova, Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), expressing concern regarding UNESCO’s acceptance of funds from the king of Bahrain in support of the UNESCO-King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for the Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Education.
The purpose of this prize is to “reward projects and activities of individuals, institutions, other entities or non-governmental organizations for excellent models, best practice, and creative use of ICTs [information and communications technology] to enhance learning, teaching and overall educational performance.” Despite the noble aims of this prize, the actions of the award’s namesake fail to demonstrate respect for the enhancement of learning and teaching in Bahrain.
The kingdom of Bahrain has suffered from significant ongoing human rights violations since the outbreak of protests there in 2011. More than 100 people are estimated to have been killed—nearly all of them civilians—in the more than two years since the protests began. In addition, thousands of people have been injured in attacks by Bahraini security forces.
Unfortunately, teachers and students have also been the subject of persecution by the Bahrain government since 2011. Top leaders of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association were arrested, abused and tortured in detention, and sentenced to jail terms for exercising their rights to free speech by participating in peaceful protests. Teachers who joined them were arrested and beaten by security forces. In many cases, the Ministry of Education punished teachers who had dared to peacefully exercise their rights by reducing their salaries, suspending them, or firing from their jobs. Those teachers have yet to be compensated for their unlawful detention, or for back pay owed as a result of their salary reductions, suspensions, and firings.
Students who joined in the protests also came under attack. They were interrogated, arrested, detained, and tortured; suspended or expelled from school; and threatened with revocation of their student scholarships by the Ministry of Education. They were also forced to sign “loyalty pledges” proclaiming allegiance to the regime and promising not to participate in any future protests—in short, a pledge to renounce their rights to free expression and association.
All of these abuses were done with the full knowledge and acquiescence of King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, the individual whose namesake has been given to support a prize in education. ADHRB urged UNESCO to reevaluate the prudence in associating this highly-respected body with such condemnable human rights violations which fly in the face of UNESCO’s mission. Specifically, ADHRB asked UNESCO to reconsider its source of funding for this prize and to rename the prize to more accurately reflect the aims of the prize and UNESCO’s mission in support of education. …more
May 14, 2013 Add Comments
May 14, 2013 Add Comments
11 Maym 2013 – RT
Thousands of anti-government activists flocked to the streets of the Shiite village of Daih in Bahrain to protest against the torture of victims arrested by the minority Sunni-ruled monarchy.
The frustrated mob held up signs that read: “Manama, capital of torture,” and waved the national flag.
“Torture is a practice rooted in the security agencies,” in Bahrain, the main Shiite opposition bloc Al-Wefaq said in a statement. It added that these practice were “embedded in the security doctrine – corrupt and hostile to the citizens.”
The organization also highlighted the rift between Sunni-ruled monarchy and Shiites saying “a political majority demanding a democratic transition and a hard core dictatorship that refuses any change and respond to the popular will.”
The demonstration comes just days after the start of the international campaign under the title “Bahrain capital of torture.”
On Wednesday, Bahrain Forum for Human Rights in Beirut announced the details of the international campaign against torture in prisons on the island.
It also accused the authorities of arresting 120 people during the period between 16 – April 22.
Human rights delegates condemned the use of force on citizens and the media blackout on the repression.
Also on Wednesday, the parliament in Bahrain was presented with a bill that would impose further restrictions on demonstrations. The new law would require organizers to submit a warranty check of more than $50,000 before holding a rally. It would also allow any resident to block a petition. …more
May 14, 2013 Add Comments
By CHRISTINE HAUSER – 13 May, 2013 – Bahrain Freedom Movement
After months of secret plans that involved disguises, code names and a body double, a prominent blogger who had been sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison for his activism in Bahrain has fled the country by hiding in a compartment in a car, according to media reports and human rights groups.
On Friday, The Atlantic published an account of elaborate plans to help the blogger, Ali Abdulemam, to escape. The narrative, written by Thor Halvorssen, the president of the Human Rights Foundation, detailed the roles the foundation and others planned to play to whisk Mr. Abdulemam out of Bahrain.
We were hoping to sneak Abdulemam out of the country in plain view and with the cooperation of his would-be captors. Meanwhile, a look-alike would stay behind with me in Bahrain, and we would leave on a commercial airliner with a duplicate passport.
The plan was suddenly aborted when the blogger was given an unrelated, surprise opportunity to hide in a car. He was then taken over the border into Saudi Arabia, and eventually made his way to Europe, Mr. Halvorssen wrote.
After several arrests over the years, Mr. Abdulemam had gone into hiding and in 2011 was sentenced in absentia, along with other activists, to 15 years behind bars for their work seeking political change in Bahrain.
A response from the Bahraini government to e-mailed questions on Friday about its reaction to the reports that he had fled the country, and its views on other details about Mr. Abdulemam’s activities, was not immediately available.
But after one of his previous arrests in 2010, the Ministry of the Interior in Bahrain said, “Any assumption that Mr. Abdulemam has been arrested purely on the basis of any political views he may hold is entirely inaccurate and is connected solely to evidence of his involvement with senior members of the terrorist network.”
In 2006, my colleague Neil MacFarquhar profiled Mr. Abdulemam as part of a broader piece in The Times that also looked at how activism on the Internet was taking on the ruling elite in the Gulf kingdom. It focused on how the establishment of Mr. Abdulemam’s groundbreaking Web site, BahrainOnline.org, was intended to give Bahrainis a place to share ideas and develop plans to deepen political change.
Mr. Abdulemam, who has since sought political asylum in Britain, is scheduled to be a speaker at the Oslo Freedom Forum starting Monday next week in Norway.
Excerpts from the account in The Atlantic reveal an ambitious plan by the Human Rights Foundation and others to help Mr. Abdulemam secretly leave Bahrain.
In the end, the most outlandish plan was the one approved by a member of the Denmark’s Jaeger Corps, the elite Special Forces unit who volunteered to consult on the project. Over dinner in New York, the Jaeger Corpsman agreed with a plan in which the Bahrainis themselves would serve an unknowing role in Abdulemam’s escape. We would try to find a way in which the monarchy’s authorities would treat our rescue team as V.I.P.’s and untouchable guests.
A Los Angeles-based artist, Tyler Ramsey, agreed to operate as the cover during the Bahrain trip. Famous for his drip-paint technique and for decorating 50,000 Toms Shoes in his signature style, Ramsey would go to Bahrain and do what he does best: performance art. “Make sure I don’t end up in a jail cell,” he told us.
The plan was that a member of our crew would switch places with Abdulemam at a fast-food restaurant, and we would depart on a private plane from an airport runway usually reserved for VIPs. Ramsey’s entourage would include two Abdulemam look-alikes. The TV host and actress Elizabeth Chambers would also join the crew as a faux correspondent for Ramsey, knowing how to juggle the circus environment we sought to create while keeping the maneuver on point.
We reserved a chartered jet to fly us from Cyprus’s Larnaca airport to Bahrain and to fly our faux celebrity team back to Cyprus. The visit to Bahrain would take three days, and the switch would happen in a fast-food eatery on the way to the departure plane. We would invite Abdulemam to switch clothes with his double and allow us to perform some minor aesthetic transformations to make him pass muster at the airport. In Bahrain, people on private planes and in a V.I.P. delegation don’t get their fingerprints scanned or subjected to interviews. They simply go from limo to jet without pesky security checks.
The Human Rights Foundation had also consulted with Nasser Weddady , a human rights advocate working at the Boston-based American Islamic Congress, to help with Mr. Abdulemam’s escape. Mr. Weddady, who was Mr. Abdulemam’s “only conduit” in the past two years, was the one who used the code names for Mr. Abdulemam and Bahrain that ultimately informed the escape team that Mr. Abdulemam had, in fact, managed to flee by other means:
“Abort plan, Bjorn has left Fiji.”
On Friday, Mr. Halvorssen said in a telephone interview that Mr. Abdulemam later told him that he had fled Bahrain by car. In his statement he wrote:
As luck would have it, Abdulemam was given a “now or never” chance by someone in Bahrain to exit through Saudi Arabia in a car with a secret compartment. Passport control did not inspect the car. From Saudi, he went to Kuwait by land through a sparsely patrolled area, where fishermen smuggled Abdulemam into Iraq by sea. From a port near Basra, he traveled to Najaf, where he took an Iraqi Airways flight to connect and eventually arrive in London.
The wife and two children of Mr. Abdulemam, 35, are still in Bahrain and efforts are under way for them to join him in Britain, Mr. Halvorssen said in the phone interview.
“I have just been waiting for the moment I could be reunited with them,” Mr. Abdulemam said in an interview with The Guardian in an undisclosed location in Britain on Friday.
The news network Al Jazeera also spoke to Mr. Abdulemam in an interview. There, he was quoted on Friday as saying the “time came” for him to help people in Bahrain publicly instead of in hiding.”
He added, “I will not be able to work and to support the uprising in Bahrain if I’m inside the jail.” …more
May 14, 2013 Add Comments