The “Bounty” Police Force? Albuquerque Officers Face Protests, Probe over Spate of Fatal Shootings
1 April, 2014 – Democracy Now
Outrage is growing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after the latest incident in a spate of police shootings. Video footage captured by a police helmet camera shows officers killing James Boyd, a homeless man who appeared to be surrendering to them at a campsite where he was sleeping. Boyd is seen picking up his belongings and turning away when officers deploy a flash grenade and then fire six live rounds at him from yards away. The Albuquerque Police Department has come under federal scrutiny for being involved in 37 shootings since 2010, 23 of them fatal. This week the FBI confirmed it is investigating the killing of Boyd, and the Justice Department has already been investigating the city’s police shootings for more than a year. We are joined by Russell Contreras, an Associated Press reporter who was tear-gassed while covering the Sunday protest and has been following the police shootings. We also speak to Nora Tachias-Anaya, a social justice activist whose nephew, George Levy Tachias, was fatally shot by police while driving in Albuquerque in 1988. Tachias-Anaya is a member of the October 22 Coalition To Stop Police Brutality.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
RENÉE FELTZ: We begin today’s show in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where hundreds marched over the weekend to protest a spate of deadly police shootings. The march began peacefully, lasting at least eight hours, and ended when police fired tear gas at demonstrators who blocked traffic. Albuquerque has one of the highest per capita rates of fatal police shootings in the country. In the latest incident, police killed a homeless man named James Boyd, who appeared to be surrendering to them at a campsite where he was sleeping.
AMY GOODMAN: Video from a police helmet camera shows Boyd picking up his belongings and turning away from the police, when the officers deploy a flash grenade and fire six live shots at Boyd from yards away. That’s after he picked up his belongings and appeared to turn away. Police fired beanbags and let loose a police dog on Boyd as he lay on the ground, still alive, pleading with officers not to hurt him and saying he could not move.
This is a clip from the Albuquerque police video of their encounter with James Boyd. Boyd died from his injuries the next day. After footage of the police shooting him went viral, the hacker group Anonymous called on people in Albuquerque to protest.
ANONYMOUS: Recently, a video has been released to the public which shows Albuquerque police officers murdering a man in cold blood for illegally camping. This man, which was schizophrenic, obviously had no intention of hurting these police officers. On the contrary, this man looks as if he is simply attempting to protect himself from visually fierce, militarized thugs. Whether this man had a history of crime is irrelevant. We drastically need to address the growing police state that has occupied our country. When will we say, “No more”? How many more citizens will be murdered? Naturally, the APD will attempt to label Anonymous as a terrorist organization for our demands of justice. But the question has to be asked: Who do we terrorize? Is it not the growing police state that terrorizes its own citizens?
AMY GOODMAN: On Sunday, Anonymous claimed responsibility for taking down the Albuquerque Police Department’s website for several hours.
The police department has come under federal scrutiny for being involved in 37 shootings since 2010, 23 of them fatal. This week, the FBI confirmed it’s investigating the killing of James Boyd, and the Justice Department has already been investigating the city’s police shootings for more than a year. …more
April 7, 2014 No Comments
Bahrain Shias protest against government
22 March, 2014 – Al Jazeera
Thousands of Bahrainis, mainly from the Shia majority, demonstrated near Manama on Friday against what they described as sectarian discrimination in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.
“No to discrimination,” chanted protesters brandishing Bahrain’s red-and-white flag as they marched along Budaiya main road, which links Shia villages with the capital, witnesses said.
Some protesters later clashed with riot police, who replied with tear gas.
Ali Salman, the chief cleric of the main Shia formation Al-Wefaq, was among leaders of the opposition who participated, according to images the group posted online.
They carried posters of prominent opponents jailed over their roles in the short-lived uprising of February 2011, including the Sunni head of the secular Waed party, Ibrahim Sharif, who is serving a five-year sentence.
“Sectarian discrimination is eating into the body of Bahrain in a systematic way applied by authorities,” opposition groups said in a statement at the end of the demonstration, referring to the Al-Khalifa dynasty.
The protest was held on the occasion of the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Bahrain remains deeply divided three years after authorities quashed a Shia-led uprising, with regular protests sparking clashes with police, scores of Shia jailed on “terrorism” charges and reconciliation talks deadlocked. …more
March 22, 2014 No Comments
On 10 March 2014, 27 experts sent a letter to United States President Barack Obama urging him to address the growing crisis in Bahrain with counterparts in Saudi Arabia during his upcoming visit to the country. Please continue reading for the full letter or click here for a PDF.
Dear President Obama,
We are writing to encourage you to discuss the crisis in Bahrain with your counterparts in Saudi Arabia during your upcoming visit to the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia has significant influence in Bahrain through its strong political, economic, and social ties with the Bahrainis. Real and lasting stability in Bahrain can only be achieved through genuine reform, and we call on you to urge the Saudi leadership to play a more constructive role in this regard.
As Deputy Secretary of State William Burns recently noted, when the United States and the Gulf “work in concert, we can help shape outcomes that not only advance reform, but also advance stability.” You have a key opportunity to achieve this goal in Bahrain.
As the situation in Bahrain continues to deteriorate, addressing this issue must be an urgent priority. The State Department recently assessed the Bahraini government’s progress in implementing the recommendations of the 2011 Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), and found that only five of its 26 recommendations were fully implemented. The assessment also recognized the Government’s failure to investigate claims of torture and cases that resulted in death, to ensure that individuals are no longer charged or detained for exercising their right to free speech, or to foster an environment that promotes dialogue.
Efforts last year to negotiate a political solution collapsed after the process failed to deliver any real progress, key opposition figures were arrested, and human rights violations continued. As you said in 2011, “The only way forward is for the government and opposition to engage in a dialogue, and you can’t have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail. The government must create the conditions for dialogue, and the opposition must participate to forge a just future for all Bahrainis.” That was true then, and remains true today. …more
March 12, 2014 No Comments
February 23, 2014 No Comments
Videos, Photos Offer Evidence of Press Corruption by Gross Understimation of Protest Size in Bahrain
The Western Press has deliberately underestimated the size of Bahrain Anniversary Protest. They have consistently reported the crowd size at 10s of thousands, when photo evidence suggests crowds in the 100s of thousands. This is an indication that Al Khalifa Public Relations Dollars have effectively bought “Western Media” outlets to “contrive a false reality” about the Situation Bahrain. Phlipn Out.
February 17, 2014 No Comments
3 Years of Rape, Torture, Murder, Gassing, Police Impunity, is Retalitation Against Police Surpirse?
February 17, 2014 No Comments
Hall’s work in cultural studies offers unique insight into the role of the youth in the Arab revolutions.
Stuart Hall’s revolutionary legacy
16 February, 2014 – Mark LeVine – AlJazeera
Of all the insights offered by the seminal Jamaican-British cultural theorist Stuart Hall, who passed away on February 10 this year, one of the most relevant for anyone concerned about the Arab world today was his argument that “identities are an endless, unfinished conversation.” It’s hard to think of a better summary of why the revolutions that started with so much hope across the Arab world in the winter of 2010-2011 have had such a hard time producing a positive outcome.
It’s not merely that elites and the systems that have long protected them remain too powerful for their peoples to bring down. It’s that in this long but still liminal historical post-Cold War moment, precisely what kind of “people” Egyptians, Moroccans, Libyans, Bahrainis and others want collectively to be remains very much undecided.
Stuart Hall is perhaps the best known exponent of the academic discipline of cultural studies, which emerged in the post-war era, first in the UK, then in the US and soon after that globally as one of the most important approaches to studying contemporary societies. From his early days with the New Left Review and then at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies in Birmingham and the Open University, Hall’s research studied how and why political and economic systems retain the consent of societies, even when their policies do not serve their economic or political interests.
Of all the disciplines that emerged out of Karl Marx’s economic and historiographic theories, none could claim to have taken his call for schools not merely to interpret the world but openly to change it with and through the knowledge they produce as has cultural studies. Of course, whether or not they want or are willing to admit it, all scholars are engaged in the business of transforming the world, or at least people’s perception and experience of it. It’s just that most of the time they reinforce rather than challenge the status quo.
Cultural studies’ activist roots run deep into the pre-World War II era, when studies of culture in Britain were relegated to workingmen’s associations lectures and adult education courses. It was only after the War that the burgeoning number of “youth” suddenly became a problem governments needed to address in order to manage society at large.
Building on the insights of thinkers like Antonio Gramsci and his concept of “hegemony,” Michel Foucault’s studies of the myriad ways power and knowledge flow through societies, and the seminal research of the Frankfurt School, cultural studies scholars explored emerging post-War British youth subcultures to understand how their unique sense of style, and their seemingly rebellious and threatening attitudes towards the establishment, most often reinforced rather than challenged the hegemonic political systems of the West.
From the start, cultural studies scholars understood that movements such as the Mods, Teds, hippies, punks, and hip-hoppers, all contained the potential for political action. Some even directly participated in powerful movements such as the civil rights and anti-war movements. Yet all fell prey to what Thomas Frank has so well described as the “conquest of cool” by capital – the seemingly ineluctable ability of the market to coopt, commodify and in so doing defang even the most subversive forms of popular culture.
Part of Hall’s genius was his ability to understand the relationship between the strengths and weaknesses of subcultures and the emerging global ideology and political economy of neoliberalism and neoconservatism, which he described under the rubric of “thatcherism”.
At the very moment that a neoconservative, semi-authoritarian populism was becoming politically, economically and culturally ascendant across the US and UK, Hall’s research opened up youth culture globally to investigation by scholars working in a variety of disciplines. The goal of his research was continuously to seek to make theory more relevant to practice, to provide tools for exploring popular culture that would help scholars not merely understand its dynamics, but help young people more successfully reshape their societies towards a more just and equitable future.
Sub-, counter- and revolutionary cultures
Given the importance of “youth” to any hope for political change in the Arab world (as the Carnegie Middle East Center put it not long before the outbreak of the Arab uprisings), the work Hall helped foster has opened innumerable paths to study the way culture, politics, and economics are aesthetically embedded in one another, in particular through the consumption of various forms of artistic production.
As the Arab world became more fully enmeshed in global neoliberalism and globalised Euro-American cultural norms and patterns of consumption began to penetrate the region, the need to apply the insights of cultural studies to the changes being experienced by the emerging generation of citizens became more important. The writing, was quite literally on the walls, in the soccer stadiums, in the lyrics of hiphop songs and the dark explosive sound of the local heavy metal scenes. All of these portrayed a situation far at odds with the rosy picture of countries like Tunisia and Egypt painted by the IMF and the World Bank.
Indeed, when I met the first generation of bloggers in Egypt and across the region in the 2000s, it was abundantly clear that they saw little place for themselves in the changing political-economic landscapes of their countries. They increasingly had the means to imagine, define and pursue alternative futures than the ones being – or rather, not being – laid out for them by their societies. …more
February 17, 2014 No Comments
Bahrain sends letter to UN chief
16 February, 2014 – Gulf Daily News
BAHRAIN yesterday sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, highlighting the systematic campaign of terror faced by the kingdom.
Minister of State for Information Affairs and official government spokeswoman Sameera Rajab submitted the memo to United Nations Information Centre director for the Gulf Countries Nejib Friji.
It is in response to a statement made by UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky.
“We would like to remind the Secretary General that Bahrain has been confronting, for years now, a systematic terror campaign, perpetrated by a misled group directly condoned and harboured by extremist religious figures and backed by foreign parties, which provide radical ideological indoctrination, training in the use of homemade explosives and all types of weapons, which they get through smuggling, noting that Bahrain has foiled a number of dangerous smuggling operations.
“We would like to inform the Secretary General that the February 14 Coalition, which operates outside the realm of the law on opposition societies and parties, calls for civil disobedience, disrupts citizens and residents’ interests and attacks policemen with firebombs (Molotov cocktails) and homemade explosives,” the letter said.
“We would also inform Mr Ban that this same group, officially branded a terror organisation by Bahrain, had claimed responsibility for planting booby-trapped cars in public places, which caused the death of policemen and endangered citizens and residents’ safety and security.
“We would like to draw to the attention of the Secretary General that the authorities in Bahrain are dealing with these developments in accordance with the law and in full commitment to the international human rights conventions and the international human rights law.
“The authorities in Bahrain abide, with utmost transparency, by legal procedures to maintain social security and safety,” the letter said..
February 16, 2014 No Comments
15 February, 2014
If One Bahraini Revolutionary is this Dangerous,
February 16, 2014 No Comments
February 16, 2014 No Comments
Bahrain policeman dies after protest anniversary bombing
15 February, 2014 – BBC
A police special unit inspects the police patrol mini bus which was hit by explosions at a police checkpoint in the village of Dih A police vehicle near the village of Dih was also hit by a blast
A policeman in Bahrain has died of wounds from a bomb blast during protests marking Friday’s third anniversary of the country’s uprising.
The interior ministry said he was one of two officers wounded in a “terror blast” in the village of Dair.
Another three policemen were injured by an explosion near the village of Dih.
Protesters were marking the 2011 unrest fuelled by demands for more rights and an end to discrimination against the majority Shia community.
On Friday demonstrators attempted to reach the site of a bloody crackdown on demonstrators almost three years ago.
Several demonstrators were reportedly wounded by security forces. The interior ministry said in a statement that 26 people were arrested on suspicion of “rioting and vandalism”.
Police used tear gas to stop them from reaching the Pearl Roundabout, which was a focus of protests in 2011.
Since then, police and demonstrators have scuffled almost daily. Thousands of people have been arrested.
Associated Press quoted the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights as saying 38 protesters had been hurt in clashes since Thursday evening, with injuries caused by birdshot fire, tear gas and beatings. …more
February 15, 2014 No Comments
February 11, 2014 No Comments
February 4, 2014 No Comments
From Fire to Autonomy: Zapatistas, 20 Years of Walking Slowly
25 January, 2014 – By Andalusia Knoll and Itandehui Reyes -Truthout
Journalism with real independence and integrity is a rare thing. Truthout relies on reader donations – click here to make a tax-deductible contribution and support our work.
Speaking in the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico, on a cold drizzly New Year’s Eve, the Zapatista Comandante Hortensia addressed the crowd: “Twenty-five or 30 years ago we were completely deceived, manipulated, subjugated, forgotten, drowned in ignorance and misery.” She was communicating the official words of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) on the 20th anniversary of their rebellion, when thousands of indigenous people rose up in arms, took over dozens of major towns and villages in this southern state, and declared “enough is enough, never again will there be a homeland that doesn’t include us.”
Comandante Hortensia went on to explain how over the past two decades, they have constructed their own autonomous government, complete with their own health and education system, based in the indigenous traditions of their ancestors. Despite the continual efforts of the “neoliberal bad government” to displace them from their land, the Zapatistas have successfully recuperated thousands of acres of land on which they have constructed communities that are governed “from the bottom up.” Community members participate in rotating government positions that operate under the democratic principle of “mandar obedeciendo” (commanding by obeying).
The Mexican government has attempted to introduce social programs with the goal of co-opting and dividing the indigenous population in Zapatista areas. However, the indigenous rebels, who reject all forms of government handouts, have successfully resisted co-optation. If you ask a Zapatista how many are in the ranks, they will just respond “somos un chingo,” which loosely translates into “there are a whole lot of us.” Official estimates put their numbers at 250,000 people or roughly 10 percent of the population of the state of Chiapas.
Zapatista communities are spread throughout the large southern Mexican state of Chiapas, which includes coastal, mountainous and jungle regions. They have created five Caracoles, which are the centers of “good government” and points of coordination for the Zapatista health clinics, schools, community banks and independent media projects.
Resistance to NAFTA, the Death of the Mexican Farmer
On January 1, 1994, the NAFTA free trade agreement entered Mexico with vigor, promising foreign investment and economic prosperity at the expense of the plunder of natural resources. NAFTA is largely credited for flooding the Mexican market with subsidized corn from the United States, which decimated farmers’ livelihoods and provoked massive migration to the United States. Two years prior to NAFTA’s implementation, former President Carlos Salinas opened the floodgates to land privatization by reforming Article 27, which had protected communally owned land known as ejidos, created during the Mexican revolution. Thus, the introduction of NAFTA provided the perfect context for the uprising of the indigenous guerillas who formed the EZLN. …more
February 2, 2014 No Comments
Bahrain Flag to be Replaced on Revolution’s 3rd Anniversary
Perhaps, the most significant move the informal opposition has ever made, since the popular anti-regime revolution sparked in Bahrain was the announcement for a Republic state. The announcement has effectively delegitimized the absolute Monarchy that was imposed by the “self-proclaimed” (king) and dictator Hamad Alkhalifa a decade ago.
The informal opposition movements, namely, Alwafa Islamic Movement, Haqq Movement and Bahrain Freedom Movement have rightly heeded the calls of the masses at the Pearl Square, that the Monarchy was no longer sustainable, and the sovereign people of Bahrain shall embrace their legitimate right to self-determination.
Almost three years have passed since the historic moment at the Pearl Square, when prominent opposition leader Hasan Mushaima (currently serving life imprisonment) announced Bahrain to become a Democratic Republic state. Indeed, the people have had high expectations from the informal opposition movements and supported the announcement with little hesitation.
Turning a country’s governing system from a monarchy into a democratic republic is a nationwide matter. It would certainly lead to critical changes to the entire troubled region of the (Persian) Gulf. It is a challenge the three informal movements have vowed to take. However, so far they have taken no single step forward.
Our people have been paying high price just to keep the revolution alive, hoping that “someday someone will do something”. The two sides in the conflict -the sovereign people and the illegitimate regime- have been in a stalemate.
This wait shall not continue indefinitely.
At this point, the revolution needs “political escalation” the most. An increasing number of decentralized anti-regime factions and social networks have launched a peaceful campaign to replace the current red-and-white flag, which the self-proclaimed king modified without obtaining consent of the sovereign people of Bahrain a decade ago.
Challenging the forged flag is a step on the right direction. Alliance of Youth of Change endorsed the campaign last month.
As no specific flag prototype has been announced yet, Alliance of Youth of Change has made one that reflects the “land”, the “culture” and the “people” of Bahrain. If no design is agreed by February 14th 2014, the Alliance will consider its design and will formally replace the current flag with the new one.
Alliance of Youth of Change will publish the proposed flag prototype by the end of January for consideration.
Alliance of Youth of Change
January 15, 2014
January 19, 2014 No Comments
Al Khalifa Unable to Quell Popular Uprising: Bahraini Activist
15 December, 2013 – Tasnim
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A Bahraini opposition figure strongly condemned Al Khalifa regime for the atrocities it has committed against the Arab nation, and stressed that the ruling family has failed to silence the protests that are bent on seeing it out of power.
“It is a source of pride for the people of Bahrain that the Al Khalifa regime has been unable to stop and suppress the uprising despite receiving military support from 6 countries and possessing all equipment needed to crack down on dissent,” the deputy secretary general of Bahrain’s Islamic Action Society (Al Amal), Sheikh Abdullah Saleh, told the Tasnim News Agency.
He named Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and the Fifth Fleet of the United States Navy as providing support for the Bahraini government in its crackdown on the opposition.
An uprising broke out in Bahrain in mid-February 2011. The protesters initially called for political reforms and a constitutional monarchy, but the regime’s heavy-handed crackdown on them soon prompted an outright call for the ouster of Al Khalifa regime.
Pointing to the martial law that was in place in Bahrain for some three months (from mid-March 2011 to end of May), Saleh said a large number of people were arrested and tortured during that period.
Although the martial law was apparently lifted by the ruling regime, he said, the acts of oppression are still rampant in Bahrain. “I believe this is the last revolution taking place, and thereafter, the Al Khalifa will fall,” Saleh said.
He further stressed that nationwide demonstrations would continue although a vast majority of political activists and opposition leaders have been arrested by the ruling family.
The Persian Gulf state has seen frequent unrest since authorities cracked down on the popular uprising against the ruling monarchy in early 2011.
Protesters were met with overwhelming military force leading to at least 89 deaths, according to the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). But Saleh put the number of the dead at 200, saying that 3,000 more anti-regime activists are still languishing in prison.
Human Rights Watch has accused the Bahraini government of violence and torture, with frequent reports of child protesters facing conditions which border on torture while in custody.
In a recent mass show trial in six separate cases, 95 Bahraini protesters were sentenced to between three and 15 years in prison for allegedly trying to topple the country’s constitutional monarchy, organizing bombings and inciting anti-government rallies. …more
December 16, 2013 No Comments
People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising
by Gilbert Achcar – Saqi Books, London
8 December, 2013 – Review by Farooq Sulehria – Socialist Resistance
Brushing aside a host of fashionable narratives to explain the Arab spring, Gilbert Achcar’s recent book, ‘The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising’ offers a radically different perspective.
Instead of over-optimistically glorifying the uprising or pessimistically ridiculing the temporary lull as ‘Arab winter’, he views the Arab spring as a protracted or long-term revolutionary process which may continue to unfold for another couple of decades. In fact, the recent coup in Egypt weeks was a timely endorsement of Achcar’s thesis on the Arab spring.
His prophetic analysis, informed by a Marxist outlook, springs from rigorous research and deep knowledge of Arab realities. Instead of offering Facebook explanations, demographic analysis or ascribing the latest Arab upheaval to middle class democratic aspirations, he identifies “the deep roots of the uprising” because “there can be no lasting solution to the crisis unless those roots are transformed”.
The breadth of the Arab spring shows that its causes are neither confined to the political realm nor limited to linguistic factors. In his view, revolution-by-contagion occurs when “there is favourable ground…a predisposition to revolution”. Even importantly: “Despotism by itself…can hardly be sufficient cause for the outbreak and subsequent success of a democratic revolution.”
One should look for the underlying socioeconomic factors to explain why the Arab spring “triumphed when it did: why 2011, after decades of despotism in the Arab region? Why 1789 in France, after a long history of Absolutism and peasant revolts? Why 1989 in Eastern Europe, rather than, say, 1953-56?”
To solve the puzzle, he delves into history. A series of European revolutions also caused ripple effects. These socio-political earthquakes were, in the words of Achcar, “triggered by the collision of the two tectonic plates” ie “developing productive forces and existing relations of production”. The latter, Marx thought, constitute “legal and political superstructures” with the state at its core.
While this contradiction between the rising bourgeoisie and feudal ‘superstructures’ – translating into revolutions – paved the way for Europe’s capitalist industrialisation, a precisely “comparable instance of the existing relations of production blocking the development of the forces of production was at the origin of the shock wave” that, according to Achcar, culminated in collapse of the USSR.
However, unlike juvenile Marxists, Achcar does not issue any sweeping judgements based on “Marx’s paradigmatic thesis on revolution” he himself invokes to explain European revolutions. This is because every crisis does not constitute a revolutionary situation. Similarly, every revolutionary situation does not lead to a revolution. Therefore, Achcar suggests to cautiously “derive variants” from Marxist thesis that are “less sweeping in historical scope” to describe the Arab spring.
Chalking out both revolutionary possibilities and limitation impregnating a system, he points out: “the development of productive forces can be stalled, not by the relations of production constitutive of a generic mode of production (such as the relation between capital and wage-labour in the capitalist mode of production), but, rather, by a specific modality of that generic mode of production. In such cases, it is not always necessary to replace the basic mode of production in order to overcome the blockage. A change in modality or ‘mode of regulation’ does, however, have to occur”. …more
December 10, 2013 No Comments
Hezbollah disavows Al-Manar ‘apology’
10 December, 2013 – By Rayane Abou Jaoude – The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Hezbollah will decide the fate of an Al-Manar delegation, which recently issued a public apology to Bahrain without consulting its parent organization, when the group returns from Tunisia, a Hezbollah spokesperson said Monday.
At a meeting in Tunis of the Arab States Broadcasting Union, Hezbollah’s media arm, Al-Manar, publicly apologized for its coverage of the Bahraini anti-government protests. Hezbollah responded Sunday night by saying it was not responsible for the apology and reaffirmed its support for the people of Bahrain.
The Hezbollah spokesperson told The Daily Star that no further decision would be taken until the Al-Manar delegation returned to Lebanon. A representative from the TV station said he could neither confirm nor deny that more information would be released concerning the apology.
“The stance that was taken by the delegation representing the Lebanese Communication Group was its own and the Hezbollah leadership was not consulted over the issue,” Hezbollah said in a statement. The Lebanese Communication Group is the parent company of Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar television and Al-Nour radio stations.
“Our support of the oppressed people of Bahrain did not change at all, and we consider that the oppression practiced by the Bahraini authorities against its people is great, and it still persists in depriving the Bahraini people of their right in participating in political life,” Hezbollah said Sunday.
The Bahrain News Agency published what it said was the original copy of the apology. In it, the Lebanese Communication Group said it would re-evaluate its editorial policies to ensure compliance with international agreements and vowed to work on maintaining good relations with Arab countries, particularly Bahrain.
The statement was read by union Director Salaheddine Maaoui during its 90th General Assembly meeting that took place Saturday in the Tunisian capital.
Maaoui tasked the ASBU’s general manager to follow up on the implementation of the Lebanese group’s decision, and take any necessary measures if the group reneged on its commitment.
Contradicting the apology issued by its media arm, Hezbollah said in a statement that the apology should have been addressed to the Bahraini people, “who have shown rare patience for over two and a half years as they suffer repression and all patterns of abuse by the ruling authorities.”
Hezbollah also accused the Bahrain authorities of intimidating anyone who supports the Bahraini people.
December 10, 2013 No Comments
US embarrassment at terror list inclusion
7 December, 2013 – By Jo Biddle – Irish Examiner
In 2008, just before his 90th birthday, the United States gave Nelson Mandela a special present, striking him from a decades-old terror watch list and ending what US officials called “a rather embarrassing matter”.
By then the anti-apartheid icon had long left behind the jail cells where he was incarcerated for 27 years, and was already enjoying retirement and his status as one of the most revered statesmen of the 20th century after becoming South Africa’s first black president.
In past years, US officials have beaten a path to his door in his family village, hoping some of his almost saint-like aura would rub off on them.
On Thursday, when Mandela died, aged 95, US President Barack Obama hailed him as belonging “to the ages” and ordered that flags on US government buildings be flown at half-mast — a rare tribute to a foreign leader.
Yet decades ago, many in America did not share in the adulation of Mandela and his African National Congress (ANC), which had been billed a terrorist organisation by South Africa and the US. His severest right-wing critics painted him as an unrepentant terrorist and a communist sympathiser.
It was even reported that the CIA had helped engineer Mandela’s 1962 arrest when an agent inside the ANC supplied South African security officials with a tip-off to track him down.
In the 1980s however, late Democratic US senator Ted Kennedy drafted legislation with senator Lowell Weicker that would eventually become one of the global catalysts leading to the collapse of the apartheid system.
President Ronald Reagan sought to bury their 1986 anti-apartheid bill aiming to impose economic sanctions on South Africa, by imposing his veto, saying he believed it would only lead to more violence and repression for black South Africans.
But for the first and only time that century, Congress rebelled and overrode Reagan’s veto on a foreign policy issue, passing legislation that slapped sanctions on Pretoria, snapped direct air links and cut vital aid.
Some observers maintain that the story of Mandela’s redemption and the undeniable justness of his cause hold lessons for Washington as it grapples with other abuses of human rights by repressive regimes around the world.
Brian Dooley, who worked with Kennedy on the game-changing legislation and is now a director with Human Rights First, chafes at the rationale that the US pursues “constructive engagement” with autocratic regimes for the greater good and to ensure security interests. …more
December 7, 2013 No Comments
Third in a series of seven op-eds examining the history of US foreign policy in the Middle East
Dances on quicksand: US and the Arab Spring
Khaled Mansour – 7 Decemebr, 2013
It has been a truism for decades to attribute the drivers of US foreign policy in the Middle East to two realist drivers; free flow of oil from the major Gulf producers and Israel’s security, with the latter seen as part of the US power projection in this region since the cold war era and increasingly also a domestic policy concern since the late 1960s.
Glibert Achcar in his tour de force of the recent Arab revolutions in The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising (University of California Press and Saqi Books, 2013), views US foreign policy in the region as an exclusive domain for the realists (who care most about the free flow of oil and Israel as a strategic asset in the Cold War and now the only reliable one in a shaky region).
In this he is supported by former assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, Martin Indyk, who argues that unlike the balance the US had always to strike between the national interest and the nation’s values, “in the Middle East…every American president since Franklin Roosevelt has struck that balance in favour of the national interest, downplaying the promotion of America’s democratic values because of the region’s strategic importance.”
It has to be noted that national interest, according to Indyk who now works with the Brookings Institution, stands for economic and security interests which can be measured in the short term.
Timothy Mitchell, in his seminal work, Carbon Democracy (Verso Books, 2011), argued for seeing democracy, human rights and the Wilsonian tradition in general as instruments deployed to stabilise the capitalist project in the region, and the world at large, in a much more effective way compared to brutal autocracies. In other words, democracy and human right are necessary instruments sometimes.
Let us look more deeply into the vast oil question.
The US is the ultimate guarantor of energy supplies from the Middle East, which provides about a third of global oil production (nearly 14 percent of total global energy production) and is the main provider for Europe, China and Japan. The Arab region has about 50 percent of world oil reserves.
Although the US does not primarily depend on this oil for own energy needs, it is extremely important for main players in the world economy, whose financial health affects that of the US in the interdependent global economic environment. This policeman function should also provide Washington DC with a clout when negotiating trade and other economic issues with the rest of the industrialised world.
Historically, it was oil that attracted the US to the region, especially after WWII when the US became the region power broker and security guarantor. The 1956 Suez Crisis signaled the end of 40 years of imperial control by the French and the British following the 1904 Sykes-Picot agreement.
Saudi Arabia, the largest oil producer in the world, provides the best example of how American values can become so subservient to hard interests. With no constitution nor real parliament, the royal family exercises absolute authority, which is formally vested in the king but legitimated by an alliance with an extremely conservative clergy, which controls education, public space and is financially well-endowed.
Mitchell, and others, argue that this political and social arrangement in Saudi Arabia is not primarily natural or an expression of indigenous factors only, but has been as well built by external intervention, mainly British, and then sustained by the Americans who punished deviations from this model. …more
December 7, 2013 No Comments
Manama Rocked by Mass Protest Ahead of International Forum
7 Decemebr, 2013 – FARS
TEHRAN (FNA)- Anti-regime protesters in Bahrain staged a mass demonstration near Manama ahead of an international forum on Middle East security to be held in the capital city.
Thousands of people rallied in the village of Sa’ar, West of Manama, responding to a call of the main opposition bloc al-Wefaq to protest against a crackdown on opposition activists, press tv reported.
The protesters were carrying pictures of jailed opposition leaders and banners containing messages for top international officials who are attending the two-day Manama Dialogue forum opened on Friday evening.
“To those meeting at the Manama Dialogue (conference): Are you aware that there are female detainees in Bahraini jails?” read one banner.
“Why do you support democracy for people of other countries… (and not) in Bahrain?” read another banner.
Police attacked the protesters with tear gas and sound bombs trying to disperse them.
Similar protests were also held in the villages of Sanabis, Deraz, Sitra and Diya, where protesters burned tires and at some points clashed with security forces.
The protests come as British Foreign Secretary William Hague is planned to deliver the keynote address at the annual security forum upon its opening.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will also give a speech on Saturday, the second day of the forum which is organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Since mid-February 2011, thousands of pro-democracy protesters have staged numerous demonstrations in the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa ruling family to step down.
On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates invaded the country to assist the Bahraini government to crush the peaceful protests.
According to local sources, scores of people have been killed and hundreds arrested in the Saudi-backed crackdown. …source
December 7, 2013 No Comments
Hagel, King of Bahrain Discuss Regional Security Issues
American Forces Press Service – 6 Decemebr, 2013
WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with His Majesty King Hamad al Khalifa of Bahrain at Safria Palace in Bahrain and the two leaders exchanged views on shared regional security challenges, including Iran and the signed joint plan of action between the P5+1 and Iran, Assistant Pentagon Press Secretary Carl Woog said in a statement issued today.
Woog’s statement reads as follows:
Secretary Hagel met with His Majesty King Hamad al Khalifa of Bahrain this afternoon at the Safria Palace.
Secretary Hagel and the king discussed the long history of the United States – Bahrain bilateral relationship. Secretary Hagel emphasized the U.S. commitment to Gulf security and discussed the speech he will present to the IISS Manama Dialogue tomorrow.
The secretary and the king exchanged views on shared regional security challenges, including Iran and the signed joint plan of action between the P5+1 and Iran.
The meeting included significant discussion of reform in Bahrain and the importance of political inclusiveness for long term stability. The secretary thanked King Hamad for hosting the U.S. 5th fleet and ongoing security cooperation. …source
December 7, 2013 No Comments
December 7, 2013 No Comments
UK foreign secretary seeks to reassure Gulf allies
By ADAM SCHRECK – 6 December, 2013 – The Bellingham Herald
MANAMA, Bahrain — Britain’s top diplomat voiced his country’s strong commitment to the security of the Gulf states on Friday, seeking to reassure wary Arab allies in the wake of last month’s nuclear deal with their regional rival Iran.
Foreign Secretary William Hague told representatives at a regional security summit in the Bahraini capital Manama that last month’s deal between world powers and Iran in Geneva does not imply any lessening of the U.K.’s commitments to its alliances in the region.
“The U.K. and other Western countries must retain and also strengthen our commitment to stability in the Gulf,” Hague said, adding that Britain is extending “deliberately and for the long-term” its defense and security cooperation with the region.
“We will remain solidly committed to intensifying and building up these links based on common interest and the deepest possible mutual understanding,” he said.
Iran agreed to freeze parts of its nuclear program for six months in exchange for some relief from Western sanctions.
The Gulf states generally welcomed the deal, and Iran’s foreign minister this week paid visits to four of them — Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — in an early indication of the warming ties.
Even so, Gulf leaders remain suspicious of Iran’s broader intentions and fear that better relations with the West could embolden Tehran, destabilizing the region. Heavyweight Saudi Arabia in particular sees Iran as a threat to its own influence, and it and other Sunni-ruled Gulf nations are important backers of the Syrian rebels fighting to topple the Iran-allied government of Bashar Assad in Syria.
December 7, 2013 No Comments
Protesters, police clash in Bahrain Shia villages
7 December, 2013 – Gulf Times
Demonstrators calling for democratic reform clashed with police yesterday in Shia villages near Manama ahead of an international forum on Middle East security, witnesses said.
A Shia-led uprising to demand changes in the kingdom was crushed in March 2011 but almost weekly protests against the authorities have been since staged in Shia villages around Manama.
Yesterday, dozens of protesters, mostly youths, clashed with police in the villages of Sanabis, Deraz, Sitra and Diya, hurling stones and petrol bombs at the security forces, witnesses said.
The protesters also blocked roads with burning tyres, the witnesses said.
Police responded by firing teargas and sound bombs to disperse them, they added. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
In the village of Sar near Manama, thousands of people took to the streets at the call of the main Shia opposition bloc Al Wefaq to protest against a crackdown on opposition activists.
Witnesses said the protesters held up pictures of jailed Shia opposition leaders and banners carrying “messages” for top officials, including from Britain and the United States, attending the two-day Manama Dialogue forum.
“To those meeting at the Manama Dialogue (conference): Are you aware that there are female detainees in Bahraini jails?” read one banner.
“Why do you support democracy for people of other countries … (and not) in Bahrain?” read another banner.
Witnesses said police beefed up security in Shia villages ahead of the forum and set up checkpoints on roads leading to the hotel hosting the four-day conference in the Seef area near the capital.
Bahraini authorities have banned protests from taking place in Manama.
At least 89 people have been killed since the protests began, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.
Authorities arrested hundreds of activists, mostly Shias, in the wake of the 2011 uprising. Dozens have have been sentenced to jail terms.
Rights groups have denounced the arrests and trials in Bahrain.
Bahrain is home to the US Fifth Fleet, a crucial naval hub that oversees aircraft carriers and other warships patrolling the strategic Gulf sea lanes.
Washington views Bahrain of “great strategic importance”, but has withheld some military assistance as part of an effort to urge Manama “to lift restrictions on civil society” and “engage in a deliberate reform process”, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on Wednesday. …source
December 7, 2013 No Comments