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…from beneath the crooked bough, witness 230 years of brutal tyranny by the al Khalifas come to an end
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Posts from — November 2011

US sending tons of tear gas to Egypt

US sending tons of tear gas to Egypt
Voltaire Network – 30 November 2011

The US government continues exporting tons of tear gas to Egypt, which is being used by the military junta to crack down on protesters across the North African country.

Egyptian news sites published documents on Tuesday showing that seven and a half tons of tear gas have already arrived in Suez.

The US tear gas exports have created a rift among Egyptian officials, as some port officials have refused to sign and accept the shipments out of concern that the tear gas would be used against peaceful Egyptian protesters.

The new documents show that the cargo, which has arrived in 479 barrels, was to be delivered to the Egyptian Interior Ministry.

They also show that a second shipment of 14 tons of US tear gas is scheduled to arrive in the country soon, bringing the total to 21 tons in a single week.

Last week, thousands of tear gas canisters were fired at Egyptian protesters in downtown Cairo as the Egyptian military staged a massive crackdown on demonstrators demanding that the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) hand over power to a civilian government. …source

November 30, 2011   No Comments

Labour standards abuses in Bahrain during the unrest

Labour standards abuses in Bahrain during the unrest
29.11.11 – by Labour Time Blog

During the unrest, thousands of workers in Bahrain dismissed from their job due to their political views or their unionist activity.

As GFBTU records, there is more than 2900 worker were sacked, include more than 45 unionist.

BICI report authenticate hundreds of worker cases and it show under what circumstances they were sacked, especially when the prime minister said “No violators will get away with it and all co-conspirators & abettors must be held accountable”.

The following paragraphs is part of the government and employers attacks against workers and unionist, which taken from BICI report.

Factual Background

1337. The Commission received a total of 1,624 complaints from individuals alleging that they had been dismissed or suspended from employment as a result of the events of February/March 2011. These allegations included dismissals in both the public and private sectors. What follows is a discussion of what occurred in the two sectors.

1338. The three main grounds used to dismiss employees in the public sector were: (i) absence from work; (ii) involvement in the demonstrations, at times occurring on work premises; and (iii) public display of opinions incompatible with the internal regulations of the ministries involved. In the private sector, the two main grounds used to dismiss employees were: (i) absence from work; and (ii) involvement in union activity related to the demonstrations.

1339. The information received by the Commission from government agencies has been in near-constant fluctuation. The Ministry of Labour (MoL) has reported that a large number of employees have been reinstated in the private sector; due in large part to its work on the matter, while the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) has reported low numbers of reinstatements and has on occasion denied reports of large-scale dismissals in the public sector. …more

November 30, 2011   No Comments

Saudi Arabia: Sentencing of human rights defender Sheikh Suliman Ibrahim Al-Reshoudi

Saudi Arabia: Sentencing of human rights defender Sheikh Suliman Ibrahim Al-Reshoudi
30 November, 2011 – Front Line Defenders

On 22 November 2011, the Saudi Special Criminal Court sentenced human rights defender Sheikh Suliman Ibrahim Al-Reshoudi and eight civil and political rights advocates to prison terms ranging from ten to 30 years.

Suliman Ibrahim Al-Reshoudi, a former lawyer and judge and a well-known human rights defender, was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment as well as 15 years’ travel ban to start following the completion of his sentence. After a grossly unfair trial, he was convicted on charges including mobilizing the public against the monarchy, forming a secret organization, financing terrorism, and money laundering. Suliman Ibrahim Al-Reshoudi, aged 74 and in poor health, was released on bail while the trial was ongoing.

In June 2011, Suliman Ibrahim Al-Reshoudi was granted bail after more than four years in pre-trial detention, in contravention of the Saudi Penal Procedures Code which provides for a maximum of six months of pre-trial detention. Following his release he was ordered to remain within the confines of the city of Jeddah. He remains confined to Jeddah on bail pending the outcome of his appeal. …more

November 30, 2011   No Comments

PEN International Delegation Calls on Bahrain for Free Expression And Release of Human Rights Defenders

PEN International Joins International Delegation To Bahrain Calling For An End To Free Expression Violations And For Human Rights Defenders To Be Freed
30 November 2011 – PEN International

Between 20 and 25 November, 2011, PEN International Writers in Prison Committee Chair, Marian Botsford Fraser, was in Manama, Bahrain on a mission with members of five other international human rights organizations. Their joint statement can be read below.

JOINT STATEMENT

All human rights defenders and those in detention as a result of the National Safety laws enacted in Bahrain should be freed immediately, said a delegation of six international rights organisations visiting the country this past week to investigate freedom of expression. In the wake of the report from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) on 23 November, the delegation calls for the King of Bahrain to implement the Commission’s recommendations to hold accountable all those responsible for past violations, and to take action immediately to prevent further abuses such as torture of detainees.

The international mission met with numerous human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, bloggers, students, medics and other members of civil society, and provided solidarity and moral support to such individuals, as well as the families of those detained for upholding their right to free expression. Human rights defenders detailed ongoing violations of free speech, freedom of assembly and a continuation of the ‘culture of impunity’ cited in the BICI report. The BICI report specifically recommends that those sentenced for peaceful, political expression must have their sentences commuted or charges dropped. As one blogger noted, “While censorship has been a fact of life in Bahrain for a long time, the criminalisation of all forms of speech – even ‘liking’ something on Facebook – is a new low.”

At a meeting with Dr. Fatima Al-Balooshi, Minister for Human Rights and Social Development, the delegation stressed the importance of unfettered access to Bahrain for international NGOs and media as a means of ensuring transparency and accountability. The delegation is also concerned about government officials who seem to believe that the BICI report closes the door on the past, which could prevent perpetrators of torture and other abuses from being held accountable. …more

November 30, 2011   No Comments

Bahraini authorities prevent Human Rights Watch from attending the trials

Bahraini authorities prevented the representative of Human Rights Watch from attending the trials
November 30th, 2011 – BYSHR

Bahraini authorities prevented today -November 30, 2011- the representative of Human Rights Watch from attending the trials of journalist Reem Khalifa and members of the Board of Directors of the Bahrain Teachers Society.

The trial of journalist Reem Khalifa was postponed to December 15, 2011.

The trial of members of the Board of Directors of the Bahrain Teachers Society (BTS) was postponed to January 9, 2012. Additional information on trial ( HERE )

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) expresses its deep concern regarding the trial of the Board of Directors of the Bahrain Teachers Society (BTS) and journalist Reem Khalifa. …source

November 30, 2011   No Comments

Bahrain restricts International Human Rights Observers at Trial of the Medical Staff in Manama

Bahrain:International Human Rights Organizations Observed the Trial of the Medical Staff in Manama
2011-11-29 – Gulf Center for Human Rights

Beirut, 29 November, 2011 – A group of international human rights organizations, including the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, attended the trial of Doctors and Medics in Bahrain before the Upper Court of Criminal Appeals, which was held on the morning of Monday, November 26, 2011. Deputy Director of the GCHR Khalid Ibrahim was present on behalf of the Centre at the Hearing.

The defense team for the doctors and medics acted in an efficient way and asked the court lift the travel ban and stop the proceedings pending the decision on complaints of torture made by the medical staff. On the other hand, it was clear that the prosecution lacks argument, logic and proof.

The lawyers of the doctors and medics adopted what Prof. Bassiouni mentioned in his report that the articles on which the National Safety Court were established are unconstitutional and demanded giving them the opportunity to raise the constitutional complaint.

Dr. Nada Dheif talked to the Court that the charges are directed at staff in Salmaniya Medical Centre and that the public prosecutor doesn’t know that she is not working there, and that the only witness against her is the very same person who supervised the torture, and insulted and gave her electric shocks. Also, Dr. Ali Al-Ekri talked to the Court and stated that he was forced by the military prosecutor to confess under torture.

While the Court was under way the Public Prosecutor brought into the hall three boxes from which Kalashnikov assault rifles, ammunition and white weapons, were taken out alleged that they were seized in a Salmaniya Medical Centre. It was noted by international observers those weapons were supposed to be criminal evidences are not kept inside special bags and that the policemen directly have taken them into their own hands and this eliminates their validity to be used as evidence in this case. …more

November 30, 2011   No Comments

Saudi Arabian authorities have been cracking down on dissent

Saudi Arabian authorities have been cracking down on dissent in the name of security.
by Philip Luther, Amnesty International – 01/12/2011

The last nine months has seen a new wave of repression in Saudi Arabia as authorities have cracked down on protesters and reformists on security grounds, Amnesty International said today.

In Saudi Arabia: Repression in the Name of Security, the organization says hundreds of people have been arrested for demonstrating, while the government has drafted an anti-terror law that would effectively criminalize dissent as a “terrorist crime” and further strip away rights from those accused of such offences.

“Peaceful protesters and supporters of political reform in the country have been targeted for arrest in an attempt to stamp out the kinds of call for reform that have echoed across the region,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s interim Middle East and North Africa Director.

“While the arguments used to justify this wide-ranging crackdown may be different, the abusive practices being employed by the Saudi Arabian government are worryingly similar to those which they have long used against people accused of terrorist offences.”

Amnesty International said that the government continues to detain thousands of people, many of them without charge or trial, on terrorism-related grounds. Torture and other ill-treatment in detention remains rife.

In April 2011, an Interior Ministry spokesperson said that around 5,000 people connected to the “deviant group”, meaning al-Qa’ida, had been questioned and referred for trials.

Amnesty International said that since February 2011, when sporadic demonstrations began – in defiance of a permanent national ban on protests – the government had carried out a crackdown that included the arrest of hundreds of mostly Shi’a Muslims in the restive Eastern Province. …more

November 30, 2011   No Comments

Women in Bahrain constantly subjected to torture, arrests and violence

Women in Bahrain on International Day to end violence against women: constantly subjected to torture, arrests and violence
25 November 2011 – BHCR

On this International Day to End Violence against Women, Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) condemns the human rights violations committed by the Bahraini regime against women in Bahrain. Women have played an important part of the Bahraini uprising with active participation and fierce activism. For their active role in calling for democracy and political reform, they were violently targeted. Four women were killed by live ammunition, suffocation of tear gas and intimidation. Many women were arrested, detained, tortured and sentenced up to 15 years imprisonment.

Bahiya Abdulrasool Al Aradi, 51 year old, is the first female martyr in Bahrain’s uprising. She was driving in Budaiya road when she went missing. Her last phone call was to her younger sister, when she heard gunshots near Al Qadam roundabout and tried to get off the road. Her family contacted all hospitals however they could not find her. On 19 March, they received a call from the authorities informing them that Bahiya is in BDF hospital on life support[1]. Her brother was allowed a visit lasting a few minutes. The next day she died due to her serious injuries. The authorities stated in her death certificate that she died of “Brain Injury”, however the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report recently published a confirmation that the cause of death was a gunshot from behind from a range of 50 to 75 meters[2]. No one was held accountable Bahiya’s death.

Zainab Al Juma and Zainab Al Tajer both died of suffocation due to tear gas that was excessively used by security forces as collective punishment on villages. Zainab Al Juma was disabled so she could not move from her room, while Zainab Al Tajer was walking when riot police attacked a peaceful protest nearby. Aziza, 29 years old, died after riot police broke into her home at midnight. She witnessed them beating one of her relatives, then they threatened her by directing a gun at her. Due to that, her blood sugar level boosted, causing her to faint and resulting to her death[3]. …more

November 30, 2011   No Comments

International delegation calls for end to free expression violations and human rights defenders to be freed

International delegation calls for end to free expression violations and human rights defenders to be freed
Adam Shapiro, Front Line Defenders – 30 November, 2011

(ANHRI/Index on Censorship/WiPC/IFEX) – 30 November 2011 – All human rights defenders and those in detention as a result of the National Safety laws enacted in Bahrain should be freed immediately, said a delegation of six international rights organisations visiting the country this past week to investigate freedom of expression. In the wake of the report from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) on 23 November, the delegation calls for the King of Bahrain to implement the Commission’s recommendations to hold accountable all those responsible for past violations, and to take action immediately to prevent further abuses such as torture of detainees.

The international mission met with numerous human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, bloggers, students, medics and other members of civil society, and provided solidarity and moral support to such individuals, as well as the families of those detained for upholding their right to free expression. Human rights defenders detailed ongoing violations of free speech, freedom of assembly and a continuation of the “culture of impunity” cited in the BICI report. The BICI report specifically recommends that those sentenced for peaceful, political expression must have their sentences commuted or charges dropped. As one blogger noted, “While censorship has been a fact of life in Bahrain for a long time, the criminalisation of all forms of speech – even ‘liking’ something on Facebook – is a new low.”

At a meeting with Dr. Fatima Al-Balooshi, Minister for Human Rights and Social Development, the delegation stressed the importance of unfettered access to Bahrain for international NGOs and media as a means of ensuring transparency and accountability. The delegation is also concerned about government officials who seem to believe that the BICI report closes the door on the past, which could prevent perpetrators of torture and other abuses from being held accountable.

The delegation also remains concerned about the reality on the ground in Bahrain, as two individuals were killed by security forces while the delegation was in-country. Non-violent demonstrators were also met with immediate and disproportionate force by riot police. The mission calls for new orders to be given immediately to police forces, in order to ensure that the rights of citizens to freedom of expression and assembly are honoured. …more

November 30, 2011   No Comments

NGOs and Oppostion groups denied – King Hamad pays-off US and UK in grand Human Rights “rehab” charade – hires Western contractors to get righteous

US, UK experts to aid Bahrain in reforming police and security forces
November 29, 2011 – By Jim Kouri – examiner.com

The Arab nation of Bahrain’s leader, King Hamad, released a royal proclamation that his kingdom’s National Security Agency (NSA) would undergo major reforms.

Ideally, according to Hamad, the NSA will confine its roles to gathering intelligence, protecting national security, and while police officers will deal with arrests and legal actions.

The reforms are part of the report and recommendation of Bahrain’s Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) which issued a comprehensive report last week stating government’s shortcomings during the civil unrest in February and March 2011.

King Hamad on Monday issued his decree thereby amending articles of decree No.14 issued in 2002 which established the NSA.

Under the amendments, the NSA is charged with collecting intelligence information, detecting and uncovering detrimental activities related to spying, collaboration with foreign countries, and counterterrorism in order to protect Bahrain’s national security, institutions and systems.

The NSA will turn over cases that require arrests to the kingdom’s police officials for legal action under the provisions of the law on penal procedures.

The Interior Minister, who commands the police, noted that Bahrain is in the final stages to sign contracts with a number of highly qualified US and UK experts and specialists to assist in developing police proficiency on the part of his officers.

In addition, a new Code of Professional Conduct for police officers is being drafted that would include details on how a police officer should perform his duties according to international and local legal criteria and rules.

Bahraini government formed a National Commission to follow up on the implementations of the BICI recommendations. Commission members include a minister, businessmen, lawmakers, lawyers and a human rights activist.
Bahrain’s King Hamid is attempting to reform his security and police forces.Bahrain’s King Hamid is attempting to reform his security and police forces.
…source

November 30, 2011   No Comments

Letter on Bahrain to Secretary Clinton

Letter on Bahrain to Secretary Clinton
Posted on 11/30/2011 by Juan

The Project on Middle East Democracy has written a letter to Secretary of State Clinton on the Bahrain crisis, which I co-signed. It asks the US take seriously the findings of severe human rights violations on the part of the regime, and to pressure it to take concrete steps to end them. The letter anticipated the Bassiouni report commissioned by the king, which confirmed the seriousness of the violations.

Nov. 21, 2011

Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton:

We are writing to you out of concern with ongoing developments in Bahrain.

“meaningful reform and equal treatment for all Bahrainis are in Bahrain’s interest, in the region’s interest, and in ours.”

As we await the report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) on November 23, we are also pleased to hear that the administration will “review the Commission’s findings carefully and assess the Government of Bahrain’s efforts to implement the recommendations and make needed reforms.”

We are hopeful the BICI report will thoroughly document human rights violations committed in Bahrain that have been independently verified by international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights, and many others since protests began in February. Furthermore, we hope the implementation of reform and accountability mechanisms for human rights violations will lead to a process of substantive political reform that is responsive to the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Bahraini people.

As you noted recently, “mass arrests and brute force are at odds with the universal rights of Bahrain’s citizens and will not make legitimate calls for reform go away.” In order to restore public confidence and deliver on its promises to uphold human rights and accountability, the U.S. Government should urge the Government of Bahrain to:

Unconditionally release political prisoners and end torture, arbitrary detention, and incommunicado detention;

Protect Shi’a places of worship and religious buildings, rebuild destroyed mosques, and end systematic discrimination in political representation, government recruitment, employment, and naturalization policies;

Take measures to ensure the reinstatement of all workers and employees who were dismissed from their workplace for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression, political opinion, and assembly;

Allow and fully cooperate with independent human rights organizations and observers, including U.N. bodies such as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to investigate claims of human rights abuses; Investigate and hold accountable all individuals who authorized, condoned, or committed human rights abuses, including the use of violence or torture against peaceful protesters and detainees

Release medical professionals and political prisoners who have been detained without charge or convicted and sentenced for political offenses; and

Allow access by local and international journalists to activists, protest sites, hospitals and other public institutions.

While we hope the BICI report will comprehensively address the range of past and ongoing human rights abuses, the Government of Bahrain’s commitment to reform should be demonstrated by concrete efforts to quickly implement serious reforms. The democratic demands of the Bahraini people are based on a universal desire for dignity and self-determination. Such demands include, but are not limited to:

The empowerment of elected rather than appointed government institutions.

Universal and equal suffrage, including in the designation of electoral districts;

A judicial system that operates independently, both financially and administratively, and is impartial and transparent in its proceedings;
[Read more →]

November 30, 2011   No Comments

Another Obama Weapons deal for abusive tyrants – Saudi Arabia with deplorable Human Rights record to receive 1.7b in weapons from US

Raytheon Receives Approval for $1.7 Billion Patriot Sale to Saudi Arabia
Missie Defense Advocacy Alliance

TEWKSBURY, Mass., Nov. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Raytheon Company has received U.S. Congressional and State Department approvals on a $1.7 billion Direct Commercial Sales contract to upgrade the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Patriot Air and Missile Defense System to the latest Configuration-3. The award, announced earlier this year, includes ground-system hardware, a full training package, support equipment upgrades and an interoperability capability to support potential coalition operations.

Patriot is the world’s most capable air and missile defense system, protecting against a full range of advanced threats, including aircraft, tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles. It is the system of choice for 12 nations around the globe.

Raytheon is the prime contractor for both domestic and international Patriot Air and Missile Defense Systems and system integrator for Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles. …source

November 30, 2011   No Comments

Revisited – Eight Bangladeshis publicly beheaded in Riyadh, five more at risk

Eight Bangladeshis publicly beheaded in Riyadh, five more at risk
10/10/2011 – AsiaNews.it

The men were migrant workers. Pleas by human rights activists against the “barbaric”, “appalling” and “medieval” practice fell on deaf ears. The government and embassy of Bangladesh are criticised for the way they dealt with the matter.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Five Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia may meet a fate similar to that of eight compatriots, who were beheaded in public in Riyadh on Friday for murdering an Egyptian security guard in 2007. Four of them are in prison and one is on the run. So far, appeals by human rights activists against the “barbaric”, “appalling” and “medieval” public execution have fallen on deaf ears. The Bangladeshi Embassy in Riyadh said that it is doing all it can to prevent another spate of executions. However, many people are critical of the Bangladeshi government for not doing enough to stop them.

A Saudi court sentenced the eight migrant workers to death by beheading. They were convicted of robbing a warehouse and killing the Egyptian security guard, Hussein Saeed Mohammed Abdulkhaleq, in 2007.

The Saudi authorities, as per the practice, did not inform their embassy in advance. In such cases, the bodies are not repatriated for burial.

In Bangladesh, National Human Rights Commission Chairman Mizanur Rahman said the public beheadings has traumatised the population. For him, the executions go against the spirit of international human rights laws, which say that no penalty should violate human dignity.

According to Adilur Rahaman Khan, secretary of the human rights group Odhikar (Rights), both the Bangladeshi government and the embassy in Riyadh “have failed to protect the Bangladeshis”, underscoring the weakness of the country’s foreign policy. …more

November 30, 2011   No Comments

Human Rights in Saudi Arabia – Cab Driver beheaded for Sorcery

November 30, 2011   No Comments

Bahrain’s Brutal King Hamad, held to higher standard of accountability for abuse and torture than US

Senate Considers Bill Authorizing More Torture
November 30, 2011 – by WashingtonsBlog

“A Middle East Dictatorship Has More Democratic Accountability for Abuse of Power, Including Torture, Than the US Under Obama”

The same Senate which today passed a bill allowing indefinite detention of American citizens on American soil for suspicion of being terrorists is now considering a bill to repeal the prohibitions against torture:

The ACLU and over 30 other organizations sent a letter to the Senate asking them to oppose an effort in Congress that threatens to revive the use of torture and other inhumane interrogation techniques. If passed, an amendment introduced by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) to the Defense Authorization bill would roll back torture prevention measures that Congress overwhelmingly approved in the 2005 McCain Anti-Torture Amendment, as well as a 2009 Executive Order on ensuring lawful interrogations. It would also require the administration to create a secret list of approved interrogation techniques in a classified annex to the existing interrogation field manual.

Glenn Greenwald pointed out last week:

Andrew Sullivan … today noted that the U.S. under Obama imposes even less accountability for abuse of power and war crimes than does Bahrain:

Bahrain’s Sunni government promised “no immunity” for anyone suspected of abuses and said it would propose creating a permanent human rights watchdog commission. “All those who have broken the law or ignored lawful orders and instructions will be held accountable,” said a government statement, which says the report acknowledges that the “systematic practice of mistreatment” ended shortly after martial law was repealed on June 1.

As Andrew put it: “So a Middle East dictatorship has more democratic accountability for abuse of power, including torture, than the US under Obama.” Beyond things like this and the facts set forth in the last paragraph here, perhaps Andrew could use today’s post of his to help clear up the towering mystery he raised yesterday of liberal disenchantment with Obama. That American war criminals are being aggressively shielded from any and all accountability is not an ancillary matter but one of enduring historical significance.

That’s okay, though, because – according to top military, intelligence and civilian experts on interrogation – torture:
(1) Doesn’t produce actionable intelligence
(2) Reduces national security
(3) Creates more terrorists
(4) And is only useful for: Producing false confessions; and As a way of terrorizing the population

…source

November 30, 2011   No Comments

A second Iranian nuclear facility has exploded, as diplomatic tensions rise between the West and Tehran

A second Iranian nuclear facility has exploded, as diplomatic tensions rise between the West and Tehran
by: Sheera Frenkel – The Times – November 30, 2011

AN IRANIAN nuclear facility has been hit by a huge explosion, the second such blast in a month, prompting speculation that Tehran’s military and atomic sites are under attack.

Satellite imagery seen by The Times confirmed that a blast that rocked the city of Isfahan on Monday struck the uranium enrichment facility there, despite denials by Tehran.

The images clearly showed billowing smoke and destruction, negating Iranian claims yesterday that no such explosion had taken place. Israeli intelligence officials told The Times that there was “no doubt” that the blast struck the nuclear facilities at Isfahan and that it was “no accident”.

The explosion at Iran’s third-largest city came as satellite images emerged of the damage caused by one at a military base outside Tehran two weeks ago that killed about 30 members of the Revolutionary Guard, including General Hassan Moghaddam, the head of the Iranian missile defence program.

Iran claimed that the Tehran explosion occurred during testing on a new weapons system designed to strike at Israel. But several Israeli officials have confirmed that the blast was intentional and part of an effort to target Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

On Monday, Isfahan residents reported a blast that shook tower blocks in the city at about 2.40pm and seeing a cloud of smoke rising over the nuclear facility on the edge of the city.

“This caused damage to the facilities in Isfahan, particularly to the elements we believe were involved in storage of raw materials,” said one military intelligence source.

He would not confirm or deny Israel’s involvement in the blast, instead saying that there were “many different parties looking to sabotage, stop or coerce Iran into stopping its nuclear weapons program”.

Iran went into frantic denial yesterday as news of the explosion at Isfahan emerged. Alireza Zaker-Isfahani, the city’s governor, claimed that the blast had been caused by a military exercise in the area but state-owned agencies in Tehran soon removed this story and issued a government denial that any explosion had taken place at all.

On Monday, Dan Meridor. the Israeli Intelligence Minister, said: “There are countries who impose economic sanctions and there are countries who act in other ways in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat.”

Major-General Giora Eiland, Israel’s former director of national security, told Israel’s army radio that the Isfahan blast was no accident. “There aren’t many coincidences, and when there are so many events there is probably some sort of guiding hand, though perhaps it’s the hand of God,” he said.

A former Israeli intelligence official cited at least two other explosions that have “successfully neutralised” Iranian bases associated with the Shahab-3, the medium-range missile that could be adapted to carry a nuclear warhead. “This is something everyone in the West wanted to see happen,” he added.

Iran has repeatedly denied the existence of a nuclear weapons program, and strongly condemned the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report last month that accused Iran of trying to build a nuclear weapon.
…source

November 29, 2011   No Comments

Unconfirmed Reports of Stealth Drone Attacks on Iran Last July

Did Iran Just Shoot Down a U.S. Stealth Drone?
By David Axe – July 20, 2011 – Wired Danger Room

For the third time this year, Iran is claiming it shot down an American robot warplane trying to snoop on Tehran’s nuclear facilities. “An unmanned U.S. spy plane flying over the holy city of Qom near the uranium enrichment Fordu site was shot down by the Revolutionary Guards’ air-defense units,” lawmaker Ali Aghazadeh Dafsari told Iranian state television.

As with all “news” reports coming from Tehran’s official media apparatus, it’s wise to take Dafsari’s claim with a grain of salt. Notably, no one is showing off any fresh wreckage of an American robot — a popular pastime in other countries where drones have gone down.

That said, there’s reason to believe Dafsari — and reason to believe the drone in question is one of a small fleet of radar-evading ‘bots the Pentagon saves for the most important, and difficult, missions. That would make the latest U.S. drone casualty the first stealth robot to be shot down, that we know of.

That’s a lot of “ifs,” to be sure. But in the world of secret aircraft, a little conjecture is sometimes all you’ve got.

Again if true, Dafsari’s tale of a downed U.S. drone is further evidence of America’s escalating global drone campaign. While lethal strikes by U.S. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Afghanistan and Pakistan grab the most headlines, American drones are also busy tracking Somali insurgents and pirates, Yemeni terrorists, Latin American drug runners and the forces of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, among others, in addition to allegedly spying on Iran.
[Read more →]

November 29, 2011   No Comments

Latest Stealth Drone – First Test Flight February 2011

November 29, 2011   No Comments

Seymour Hersh: Propaganda Used Ahead of Iraq War Now Being Reused Over Iran’s Nuke Program

November 21, 2011 – Democracy Now

…source

November 29, 2011   No Comments

Iran and the I.A.E.A.

Iran and the I.A.E.A.
by Seymour M. Hersh – November 18, 2011 – The New Yorker

The first question in last Saturday night’s Republican debate on foreign policy dealt with Iran, and a newly published report by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The report, which raised renewed concern about the “possible existence of undeclared nuclear facilities and material in Iran,” struck a darker tone than previous assessments. But it was carefully hedged. On the debate platform, however, any ambiguity was lost. One of the moderators said that the I.A.E.A. report had provided “additional credible evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon” and asked what various candidates, upon winning the Presidency, would do to stop Iran. Herman Cain said he would assist those who are trying to overthrow the government. Newt Gingrich said he would coördinate with the Israeli government and maximize covert operations to block the Iranian weapons program. Mitt Romney called the state of Iran’s nuclear program Obama’s “greatest failing, from a foreign-policy standpoint” and added, “Look, one thing you can know … and that is if we reëlect Barack Obama Iran will have a nuclear weapon.” The Iranian bomb was a sure thing Saturday night.

I’ve been reporting on Iran and the bomb for The New Yorker for the past decade, with a focus on the repeated inability of the best and the brightest of the Joint Special Operations Command to find definitive evidence of a nuclear-weapons production program in Iran. The goal of the high-risk American covert operations was to find something physical—a “smoking calutron,” as a knowledgeable official once told me—to show the world that Iran was working on warheads at an undisclosed site, to make the evidence public, and then to attack and destroy the site.

The Times reported, in its lead story the day after the report came out, that I.A.E.A. investigators “have amassed a trove of new evidence that, they say, makes a ‘credible’ case” that Iran may be carrying out nuclear-weapons activities. The newspaper quoted a Western diplomat as declaring that “the level of detail is unbelievable…. The report describes virtually all the steps to make a nuclear warhead and the progress Iran has achieved in each of those steps. It reads likes a menu.” The Times set the tone for much of the coverage. (A second Times story that day on the I.A.E.A. report noted, more cautiously, that “it is true that the basic allegations in the report are not substantially new, and have been discussed by experts for years.”)

But how definitive, or transformative, were the findings? The I.A.E.A. said it had continued in recent years “to receive, collect and evaluate information relevant to possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program” and, as a result, it has been able “to refine its analysis.” The net effect has been to create “more concern.” But Robert Kelley, a retired I.A.E.A. director and nuclear engineer who previously spent more than thirty years with the Department of Energy’s nuclear-weapons program, told me that he could find very little new information in the I.A.E.A. report. He noted that hundreds of pages of material appears to come from a single source: a laptop computer, allegedly supplied to the I.A.E.A. by a Western intelligence agency, whose provenance could not be established. Those materials, and others, “were old news,” Kelley said, and known to many journalists. “I wonder why this same stuff is now considered ‘new information’ by the same reporters.”
…more

November 29, 2011   No Comments

The Senseless Voice of US Foreign Policy

When Hillary Clinton Stops Making Sense
By Kourosh Ziabari – The Public Record – Nov 16th, 2011

President Barack Obama confers with U.S.Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during the NATO summit in Strasbourg, France. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is to Clinton’s right while Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen is between Brown and Clinton. White House photo by Pete Souza

U.S. President Barack Obama will be a lame duck next year and the officials in his administration, especially his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are hilariously doing their best to make sure that they haven’t spared any effort to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries and sabotage the stability and security of those whom they call “enemies”, like Iran.

On October 27, Hillary Clinton gave an exclusive interview to the UK’s state-funded, state-run BBC Persian TV and in an attempt aimed at reaching out to the Iranian nation, made bombastic remarks which have certainly infuriated the Iranian nation and demonstrated that the hostile behavior and antagonistic stance of the U.S. government toward the Iranian nation is a manifestation of the idiom “the leopard can’t change its spots.”

At the beginning of the interview, Clinton referred to the sanctions imposed against Iran by the U.S. and its European allies and said that these sanctions are targeted at forcing the Iranian government into abandoning its nuclear program which she called is an effort to construct nuclear weapons and not for civilian purposes. Forgetting the detrimental impacts of economic sanctions against the ordinary people, Clinton talked of the United States as a friend of the Iranian people, and said that she wanted to reaffirm her country’s “very strong support for and friendship toward the people of Iran.” She further added that the behavior of the United States towards the Iranian government is different from its behavior toward the Iranian people, and by saying that, she clearly paraded her diplomatic naiveté and artlessness. How do you justify enmity with a government which is democratically elected by a group of people which you claim of being supportive of? …more

November 29, 2011   No Comments

Is Obama Fulfilling the Neocon Dream of Mass Regime Change in Muslim World?

November 29, 2011   No Comments

Indonesian Muslims protest Obama visit

Indonesian Muslims protest Obama visit
November 18, 2011 – JafriaNews

JNN 18 Nov 2011 Jakarta : Hundreds of Indonesian Muslims have rallied in central Jakarta to protest against this week’s visit by U.S. President Barack Obama.

About 2500 protesters from the radical Muslim group Hizbut Tahrir shouted “Reject Obama” and “America is Terrorist” outside the U.S. embassy on Sunday as they brandished banners with slogans such as “Reject Obama, Reject Capitalism, Reject Imperialism”.

“We strongly oppose America and Obama coming to Indonesia,” the group’s spokesman Mujiyanto told AFP.

“Obama is a murderer of our Muslim brothers in Palestine and Afghanistan, a thief of Indonesia’s natural resources, and an imperialist who seeks to take over the world and will do anything for U.S. interests.”

Similar protests were also held Sunday in other cities, including Surabaya in East Java and Makassar in South Sulawesi.

Obama will be in Indonesia for the 18-nation East Asia Summit at the end of the week.

The 10-member Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, with observing nations including the US attending, is also taking place this week.

The delegates are meeting to discuss major regional issues such as territorial clashes in the South China Sea and Burma’s bid to take over Indonesia’s role as ASEAN chair in 2014.

Radical groups like Hizbut Tahrir have little popular support in the archipelago of 240 million people.

Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority country in the world, is constitutionally secular and culturally moderate. …source

November 29, 2011   No Comments

UAE pardons jailed activists

UAE pardons jailed activists
Emirates pardons five activists convicted previous day for insulting country’s leadership, group’s lawyer says.
28 Nov 2011 – AlJazeera

Five United Arab Emirates political activists received presidential pardons and were released after eight months in prison, just a day after they were convicted of anti-state crimes.

The activists, including a prominent blogger and an economics professor, were convicted on Sunday of insulting the UAE’s top leadership, endangering national security and inciting people to protest at time when uprisings against authoritarian rulers raged across the Middle East.

The UAE has not been hit by the Arab Spring unrest that has spread across much of the rest of the Middle East, including neighbouring Bahrain.

Authorities moved aggressively against any signs of dissent that could pose a challenge to the tight political controls in the country.

Blogger Ahmed Mansoor was sentenced to three years in prison. The other four activists, including a professor who has lectured at Paris’ Sorbonne university in Abu Dhabi, Nasser bin Gaith, received two-year jail terms on Sunday in the Gulf country’s security court in the capital Abu Dhabi.

On Monday, they were pardoned and released.

“I feel happy because I am back with my family, but I also feel ashamed and have deep sorrow for my country,” bin Gaith told The Associated Press news agency in an interview after his release.

“All I can say is that it’s a sad moment for our homeland, a beginning of a police state that has tarnished the image of the UAE forever,” bin Gaith said.

The office of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayhan, the president, did not offer any immediate comment.

The defendants were arrested after signing an online petition demanding political reforms, including free elections for parliament.

The UAE’s current parliament serves as an advisory body, and its 40 members are either directly appointed by the government or elected by a hand-picked set of voters. …more

November 29, 2011   No Comments

New York exhibition includes art from the Arab lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and South Asia

New York’s Met Opens New Islamic Art Wing
By Nikola Krastev, Charles Recknagel – November 12, 2011

The New York exhibition includes art from the Arab lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and South Asia.

NEW YORK — New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has unveiled its new wing of Islamic works in a major effort to increase Americans’ understanding of Islamic culture.

The new wing, which opened on November 1, includes 15 galleries displaying historic art from across the Islamic world. This includes the art of the Arab lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and South Asia.

But the exhibits go well beyond merely displaying priceless objects that dazzle visitors with their beauty and craftsmanship. They also trace the course of Islamic civilization over 13 centuries to show how much it and its contributions are part of the world’s shared cultural heritage.

The museum says its goal is to dramatically widen Americans’ perspective on Islamic culture. The opening of the new galleries comes 10 years after 9/11 defined many Americans’ impressions of the Muslim world in a negative way.

Now, the Met — as the museum is affectionately known — hopes to give people a deeper, objective understanding of Muslim culture and history.

“There is great potential for changing people’s opinions and the reason is that we provide a lot of information that is historical, so people have an opportunity to come to a neutral space where there is no political point of view,” says Sheila Canby, the curator in charge of the Museum’s Department of Islamic Art. “We are trying simply to give context to the objects that we have on view.” …more

November 29, 2011   No Comments