World Cup Arab fans shun Israeli media, reject normalization: Reports

22 Nov 2022 

Source: Israeli Media

By Al Mayadeen English 

Arab football fans refuse to be interviewed by Israeli journalists in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Arab football fans refuse to be interviewed by Israeli journalists in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Israeli media agencies reported on Tuesday that Arab fans in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 are distancing themselves from the Israeli media and are rejecting normalization with the occupation.

i24news said that several Israeli media agencies told Reuters that those asked for interviews turned their backs, refused to answer, or shouted Palestine, adding that fans are specifically shunning Israeli reporters, in a move that could illustrate challenges in warming relations between the Gulf and “Tel Aviv”.

Israeli officials expressed their hope that the US-brokered normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, in 2020, and later with Sudan and Morocco, would lead to further normalization, including with Saudi Arabia, i24news said.

“While Israel did not qualify for the World Cup, it had hoped the presence of an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 Israelis at the event would warm ties,” the website said, noting that this “included Israeli reporters, who flew to Qatar ahead of the event on connecting flights, while one of them was on the first direct flight from Tel Aviv to Doha on Sunday, under a FIFA-brokered agreement,” the website added.

“Attempts to talk to soccer fans in Doha didn’t go according to plan,” the website added, noting that footage circulated online shows Saudi fans, a Qatari shopper and a number of Lebanese fans deliberately distancing themselves from Israeli reporters, i24news confirmed.

Two days ago, Israeli media said that Lebanese fans in the World Cup Qatar 2022 refused to speak to Channel 12 reporter after learning he was Israeli.

According to the Israeli channel’s correspondent in Qatar, the Lebanese young men became angry when they learned that the person speaking to them was from an Israeli media agency. The correspondent said, “The Lebanese young men refused to recognize the existence of Israel,” stressing that “Israel” does not exist, it is Palestine.

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Prof. Tim Anderson: Bahrain’s meaningless elections means to mask its despotism

15 Nov 2022 

Source: Al Mayadeen English

Manama’s ‘normalisation’ with the Israeli colony is a serious obstacle and one that springs from the undemocratic nature of the regime.

Sondoss Al Asaad 

The Bahraini regime has just turned the page on the elections the tactic it wanted: elections without opponents or political associations in a bid to continue undermining rights and liberties and perpetuating the absolute powers of the King after he dismissed at least 100,000 citizens for the crime of belonging to – arbitrarily dissolved associations – or boycotting the last 2 electoral cycles, not to mention the suspicious division of the electoral districts and the main reliance on the participation of the politically-naturalised and the military personnel.  So, the expected results were predetermined by claiming that the turnout was massive and unprecedented “reaching 73%” ignoring popular discontent and the unwillingness of the majority of citizens to participate.  What happened confirms that Bahrain’s parliament is not going to witness legislative work in the upcoming days, but rather greater ties with the Israeli occupation throughout successive agreements in the sectors of the economy, finance, and medicine as well. To talk more about the elections and their consequences, I interviewed the Australian academic, Professor Tim Anderson.

1) What is your comment on the settings under which the Bahrain elections were organised?  Do you think it was credible to organise such a democratic process in a country that suffers from authoritarianism at all levels?

Before even mentioning elections in Bahrain we should recognise that there is little democratic in the 2002 constitution or its application. The National Assembly – with 40 elected members in the Council of Representatives and 40 royally-appointed members in the Consultative Council – is effectively just an advisory body to the hereditary monarch, who controls all state power. 

Although this Assembly makes laws, the King and his appointees can block them. On top of that, the King appoints all executive ministers. The two Prime Ministers since independence in 1971, and many senior ministers, have been his family members.

In this context, the current elections for Bahrain’s Assembly are being carried out without the participation of most opposition parties, many of whose leaders are in exile or in jail. 

As even the Washington-aligned Human Rights Watch group admits, this is a façade of democracy with little substance. But that façade allows other apologists (in the USA, the UN, and Europe) to go along with the Bahraini regime’s claims that its King is: 

“Deeply interested in the involvement and partnership of citizens in the decision-making process, out of a true belief in the importance of democracy .. [and a] vision for the democratization and parliamentary process in the country.”

When it seemed there was a democratic opening, during the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011, a movement “demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister” was brutally suppressed, with the help of the Saudi military. Security forces killed dozens of protesters and arrested hundreds more, many of whom were tortured in custody. After that most opposition parties boycotted the 2014 elections and, after that, the regime outlawed the main Shia opposition group, Al-Wefaq, and the main secular opposition group, the National Democratic Action Society (Waad). 

Opposition figures were jailed or forced into exile. For example, former parliamentarian Abdul-Hamid Dashti was sentenced in absentia to a lengthy prison term for simply insulting the Bahraini and Saudi regimes. Banned political parties had their members further disqualified for any role in public office, under 2018 laws. The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy said in 2022 that there were “potentially 1,400 political prisoners in Bahrain, out of a total prison population of 3,200-3,800”. Since 2011 there has been increasing use of the death penalty, often based on evidence allegedly obtained under torture. All this makes internal democratic organisation very difficult. 

2) In your opinion, why did the Bahraini regime relentlessly promote the elections?  What are the benefits that it seeks – given that it does not respect the principle of the separation of powers?

The Bahraini tyrant seeks legitimacy and hosting the US 5th naval fleet helps him win powerful allies. As with Qatar (hosting a huge US air base) and Saudi Arabia, the US government has not launched any ‘Arab Spring’ colour revolutions against Bahrain. This means that, while occasional criticisms are raised, their usefulness to Washington helps soften their image. 

For example Adam Ereli, former US Ambassador to Bahrain, argued recently that the ‘democracy’ of Bahraini regime “although falling short for some, arguably achieves the greatest good for the greatest number .. while admittedly imperfect, Bahrain’s stewardship of the democratic process nevertheless provides a much needed and publicly validated opportunity for its citizens to participate in the governing of their country.”

Other Arab countries with far greater democracy have been bombed by the US for their supposed political deficiencies. In other words, it matters little to Washington that there is no separation of powers and little democracy at all in Bahrain. Better that way, in fact; but for image marketing purposes the façade remains important. So the King presents democratic rhetoric, human rights reports, and near-meaningless elections, to mask the absolutist character of his comprador (foreign agent) regime.

 3) How did you read the recommendations of Pope Francis to the King as well as the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council?  And why, in your opinion, does the international community adopt double standards in Bahrain?  Why does it acknowledge the existence of repression when it does nothing to ease the stifling restrictions imposed on Bahrainis?

A. In his recent visit to Bahrain Pope Francis did raise questions about the execution of prisoners, religious discrimination, and migrants’ rights. He was said to have asked privately for the release of some of the country’s political prisoners. Nevertheless, the interfaith meeting he attended was certainly a show aimed to cover discrimination against the 70% majority Shia Muslim population. The latter is politically active and both Washington and the Bahraini monarchy often link them to Iran, to blame Tehran for destabilising the regime.

The UN’s Human Rights Council (HRC) has not yet responded to the ‘fourth cycle’ report from Manama, which was lodged in early November. However, in its 2017 response to the ‘third cycle’ of reports, the HRC tried to push the regime to agree to inspection of its prisons (so as to assess the use of torture), to remove all reservations on the women’s rights treaty (CEDAW), to stop all executions and to ‘consider political reform’. There is not much sign of change, but Manama is certainly ‘going through the notions’ of responding in some detail to the latest ‘Universal Periodic Review’ (UPR).

Once again, the big power sponsors of the Bahraini regime shelter it from any harsh criticism. Indeed, historically, both in Latin America and in West Asia, Washington has supported many bloodthirsty, dictatorial regimes. The best current example is the Saudis, key sponsors of Al Qaeda and ISIS/Daesh terrorists.  It should be plain that human rights and democracy have nothing to do with western foreign policy. Nevertheless, a certain amount of ‘human rights bureaucracy’ helps provide a semblance of normality.

 4) Do you think that the Bahraini people have succeeded in overthrowing the intended goal of organising the so-called “coexistence forum” as well as “elections? How? And what is the message you send to them?

A. There is a fair amount of external democratic agitation, but the sponsors of the Manama regime have strong voices. For example, multiple sources repeat the claim that there was a quite high participation rate of 73% in the latest elections, for an initial 34 seats. They also stress the participation of women candidates, even when they note the absence of opposition parties.  This was in many respects an attempt to counter the Al Wefaq party’s call for a boycott, while Amnesty International said the elections were taking place in a climate of repression. The country’s top cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim also backed the boycott call. It is not clear that those claims of 73% participation are at all reliable. 

Meanwhile, at an international level, complaints are kept alive about Manama’s failure to face the issues of political prisoners, extrajudicial killings and systematic torture, and sectarian discrimination.  The ‘impunity of the regime’ has become an important theme. As with the demands of the Palestinian people, the democratic reform demands on the Bahraini regime are capturing international attention. That is important; so too, in this writer’s opinion, is making common cause with the other democratic movements in the region. Bahrain is a small country and its democrats need regional allies.

 5) How can these two events be linked to the rush in the steps of normalisation with the Zionist entity?  What links the two regimes of Bahrain and the apartheid occupation?  Are you afraid of a premeditated intention to turn Bahrain into another Palestine, as the Bahrain’s top spiritual Shiite authority, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassem, has previously warned?

Manama’s ‘normalisation’ with the Israeli colony is a serious obstacle and one that springs from the undemocratic nature of the regime. Even the Israeli media has noted the public reaction against this within Bahrain. Al Wefaq leader Sheikh Hussein al-Daihi, said there is “no place for zionists in Bahrain”, maintaining that Bahraini people will always support Palestine. 

Yet while Zionists and their collaborators says the new Jewish facilities make Manama “a beacon of religious tolerance”, many Bahrainis are alarmed at the regime’s integration of zionist cells into the country, a project which was tried before. They fear being crowded out by a wave of settlers, even perhaps becoming another Palestine. 

The links between the Bahraini and Israeli regimes are obvious – they are both client states of the North Americans, providing support for its interventions, wars, and its regional hegemonic agenda. The huge US airbase and a complaint monarchy make Bahrain a dream regime for the USA, but also a ripe case for democratic revolution. 

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

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Al-Wefaq: Bahrain elections lack legitimacy, do not represent people

12 Nov 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Al Mayadeen English 

The Deputy Secretary-General of the Bahraini political party Al-Wefaq, Sheikh Hussain Al-Daihi confirms that “the participation rate in the sham parliamentary elections did not exceed 35%,” which proves the awareness of the Bahraini people.

The Deputy Secretary-General of the Bahraini political party Al-Wefaq, Sheikh Hussain Al-Daihi

The Deputy Secretary-General of the Bahraini political party Al-Wefaq, Sheikh Hussain Al-Daihi said that “the participation rate in the sham parliamentary elections did not exceed 35%,” thanking the Bahraini people for “exposing the falsity of the electoral process despite the threats and intimidation.”

“Bahrainis are living under the weight of a stifling political crisis and grave human rights violations, and they are committed to the need for a genuine political process that will lift Bahrain out of tyranny and dictatorship and take it to a democratic system and social justice,” Al-Daihi added in a speech on Saturday.

“The authority should learn from the course of what happened today and take a lesson,” he said, explaining that “the people of Bahrain are not naive, and they cannot be deceived by the tricks played by the regime.” 

Al-Daihi affirmed that “what happened today will result in a certain council that has lost legitimacy and true representation of the people of Bahrain, and the elections went with only one component, which is the government component.” 

“Those who observed today’s scene in Bahrain noticed the reluctance to participate in the sham parliamentary elections process, as the very high rate of boycott among the youth group was remarkable,” he went on to say.

“The people of Bahrain have proven to be conscious, civilized, and capable of accurate diagnosis,” he said, adding that it has a strong will and firm determination, and it “has passed the exam with remarkable success.” 

On November 6, Al-Daihi formally announced that his party is boycotting the general elections in Bahrain and explained that the reasons justifying the boycott are diverse but mainly concern the failure to implement a crucial reform, ongoing political repression in the country, and authorizing the zionist entity to meddle with the country’s domestic affairs.

He further said that Bahrainis are continuing to pay a heavy price for their freedoms by getting killed, imprisoned, displaced, dishonored, denaturalized, their mosques demolished, their basic rights infringed on, and the list goes on. 

Bahraini cleric Issa Qassem told the people of Bahrain that the elections constitute a test of the populace’s awareness, explaining that to elect means opening the door for Bahraini-citizenship-bearing Israelis to vote for parliament members.

Qassem called for tomorrow to be a day of mourning for the Bahraini people, stressing that participating in the election is like signing a document agreeing to make matters worse and signing a normalization agreement.

Since 2018, the Bahraini authorities have prohibited members of former political opposition parties, not only from running for parliament but also from serving on the boards of directors of civic organizations, under the so-called Political Isolation Law and dissolved the two main opposition groups, namely Al-Wefaq and Waad parties, in 2016 and 2017 respectively, leaving no one else to dispute the autocratic rule of the Kingdom headed by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

On Saturday morning, Bahrainis went to the polls to elect a new parliament, where over 330 candidates, including 73 women, took part in the run to compete for the country’s House of Deputies 40 seats. Not one of them was found to represent the opposition, as it was banned through the adoption of the Political Isolation Law that prohibits all activists and opponents belonging to the main political parties from running and voting.

Since then, authorities have imprisoned hundreds of opposition figures, including Al-Wefaq’s leader Sheikh Ali Salman, denaturalized many, and executed others.

November 12, 2022

Bahrainis Protest, Groups Slam ’Repressive’ Climate as Regime Holds Election

By Staff, Agencies

Hundreds of Bahrainis staged demonstrations across the tiny Gulf kingdom to demand a mass boycott of the parliamentary elections, as the country holds the polls under what rights groups describe as “political repression” by the ruling Al Khalifa regime.

On Friday night, demonstrators took to the streets in the coastal village of Dumistan, carrying pictures of Bahrain’s most prominent cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, imprisoned political dissidents as well as those killed at the hands of regime forces.

They expressed solidarity with political prisoners and jailed activists, called on people from all walks of the society to stay away from the polls during November 12 elections.

The protesters also called for an end to human rights violations and the release of political detainees.

Elsewhere in the northern villages of Abu Saiba and Shakhura, groups of demonstrators called for an election boycott, a comprehensive political solution amid the Manama regime’s crackdown on dissent, and demanded a transition from the monarchy to the rule of the people, by the people, and for the people, and a new constitution.

A similar rally was staged in al-Muthallath al-Samoud region as well, where participants demanded boycott of the November 12 parliamentary elections and a new constitution.

Earlier, Sheikh Qassim reiterated the call to boycott parliamentary elections, saying participation in the elections amounts to betrayal.

“The responsibility of Bahrainis is to boycott the election, and participation in it is a betrayal,” he said in a televised address broadcast live on Friday on several Arabic-language television networks.

The distinguished Shia cleric noted that the Bahraini parliament acts in favor of the monarch and to the detriment of the Bahraini nation.

Bahrain’s main opposition group al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, in a statement released on September 14, described the boycott of November 12 polls as a national duty, emphasizing that the ruling Manama regime maintains absolute control over the electoral process and seeks to install a weak legislature, whose main task would be to burnish the image of the corrupt Al Khalifa dynasty and cover up its human rights abuses.

It added that the constitutional and political rift between the Bahraini regime and the nation is deepening day by day, the main reason for which, it said, is the lack of any social agreement between the two sides.

In the absence of a real administration, the Al Khalifa regime continues its authoritarian rule by imposing its political, economic, security and social wills on the Bahraini nation, Wefaq said.

Bahrainis head to the polls Saturday. More than 330 candidates, including 73 women, are competing to join the 40-seat Council of Representatives – the lower house of parliament.

“This election will not introduce any change,” Ali Abdulemam, a Britain-based Bahraini human rights activist, said.

“Without the opposition we will not have a healthy country,” he told AFP.

The restrictions have ignited calls for a boycott of Saturday’s elections which come more than a decade after the 2011 popular uprising.

Since then, authorities have imprisoned hundreds of dissidents – including Wefaq’s leader Sheikh Ali Salman – and stripped many of their citizenship.

International human rights organizations have argued that the vote is being held in an “environment of political repression.”

Citing Bahraini civil society figures, the rights groups said the retroactive bans have affected between 6,000 and 11,000 Bahraini citizens.

The elections “offer little hope for any freer and fairer outcomes,” they said.

Ayatollah Qassim Slams Participation in Bahrain’s Parliamentary Election As ‘Betrayal’

November 12, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Bahrain’s most prominent Shia cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim reiterated the call to boycott parliamentary elections, saying participation amounts to betrayal.

“The responsibility of Bahrainis is to boycott the election, and participation in it is a betrayal,” Ayatollah Qassim said in a live address aired on Friday.

He noted that the Bahraini parliament acts in favor of the ruler and to the detriment of the Bahraini nation.

This parliament is a tool to exercise oppression, he said, amid growing calls to boycott the elections. 

On Thursday, the cleric wrote in a Twitter post that the sham vote is meant to “slaughter democracy” in the Gulf kingdom.

He said that voter participation would not result in the consolidation of democracy in Bahrain as communities are largely excluded from the political process.

“How would it be possible to strengthen democracy [in Bahrain], whilst elections have originally been designed to destroy it? This is an election whose doors are closed to those who seek democracy,” he underlined.

Meanwhile, Bahrain’s dissolved al-Wefaq National Islamic Society says opposition groups, in a show of outright rejection of dictatorship and repression by the ruling Manama regime, have unanimously agreed to boycott the forthcoming elections.

“In light of the increasingly suffocating atmosphere, dictatorship of the ruling Al Khalifa dynasty, utter disregard to public demands and violation of people’s right to seal their own fate, foreign-based Bahraini opposition groups as well as social and political activists in the country have taken the decision not to cast ballots in the upcoming polls,” al-Wefaq deputy secretary-general Sheikh Hussain al-Daihi said in an interview with the Arabic-language Lualua television network.

Wefaq, in a statement released on September 14, described the boycott of November 12 polls as a national duty, emphasizing that the ruling Manama regime maintains absolute control over the electoral process and seeks to install a weak legislature, whose main task would be to burnish the image of the corrupt Al Khalifa dynasty and cover up its human rights abuses.

It added that the constitutional and political rift between the Bahraini regime and the nation is deepening day by day, the main reason for which, it said, is the lack of any social agreement between the two sides.

In the absence of a real administration, the Al Khalifa regime continues its authoritarian rule by imposing its political, economic, security and social wills on the Bahraini nation, Wefaq said.

Bahrain protests continue as elections near

9 Nov 2022

Source: Agencies

Bahrain witnesses further protests denouncing the upcoming elections (Archive/Getty Images)

    By Al Mayadeen English 

    Bahrainis protest to denounce upcoming elections and stand up for the rights of political prisoners.

      Bahrainis organized demonstrations, again, to denounce and abstain from what they view as fraudulent parliamentary elections scheduled for next week.

      Online videos depicted demonstrators marching to the streets protesting the November 12 elections in Saar, a residential town west of Manama, and Sanabis, a village on the capital’s outskirts.

      Protesters demonstrated in solidarity with citizens that were detained for exercising their right to free expression in Bahraini jails.

      They were holding pictures of Sheikh Ali Salman, the imprisoned opposition leader, and Sheikh Isa Qassim, the most renowned Shiite cleric in Bahrain.

      Additionally, they carried signs with the words “boycott election,” “your vote would upset martyrs,” and “boycotting elections is a religious duty.”

      Bahraini protestors stage rallies almost every day to express their opposition to the Al Khalifa dictatorship’s oppressive policies, despite the harsh limitations enforced by the regime.

      Earlier, on November 6, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Bahraini political party Al-Wefaq, Sheikh Hussain Al-Daihi, announced that his party is boycotting the general elections in Bahrain.

      The reasons justifying the boycott are diverse but mainly concern the failure to implement a crucial reform, ongoing political repression in the country, and authorizing the zionist entity to meddle with the country’s domestic affairs.

      The remarks were delivered during a press conference in which Sheikh Al-Daihi said Bahrainis have no power or representation in legislation and legislative processes.

      According to the Sheikh, the core issue is that Bahrainis are deprived of a legal state by a small group of elites that carry out most decision-making, manage public wealth and security, and deprive the people of all their rights.

      He further said that Bahrainis are continuing to pay a heavy price for their freedoms by getting killed, imprisoned, displaced, dishonored, denaturalized, their mosques demolished, their basic rights infringed on, and the list goes on. 

      Read more: Rights mustn’t be violated, lives of punished mustn’t be taken: Pope

      Al Wefaq party cites reasons for formal boycott of Bahrain elections

      November 6, 2022

      Source: Agencies

      By Al Mayadeen English 

      The leader of the Al-Wefaq party says it has become obvious that the political foundations of the country are based on absolutism.

      Al-Wefaq Deputy Secretary-General Hussain Al-Daihi

      The Deputy Secretary-General of the Bahraini political party Al-Wefaq, Sheikh Hussain Al-Daihi, announced that his party is boycotting the general elections in Bahrain.

      The reasons justifying the boycott are diverse but mainly concern the failure to implement a crucial reform, ongoing political repression in the country, and authorizing the zionist entity to meddle with the country’s domestic affairs.

      The remarks were delivered during a press conference in which Sheikh Al-Daihi said Bahrainis have no power or representation in legislation and legislative processes.

      According to the Sheikh, the core issue is that Bahrainis are deprived of a legal state by a small group of elites that carry out most decision-making, manage public wealth and security, and deprive the people of all their rights.

      He further said that Bahrainis are continuing to pay a heavy price for their freedoms by getting killed, imprisoned, displaced, dishonored, denaturalized, their mosques demolished, their basic rights infringed on, and the list goes on. 

      Touching upon the 2002 constitution, Al-Daihi stressed that it has become obvious that the political foundations of the country are based on absolutism.

      The system of government in the Kingdom of Bahrain is supposed to be democratic, with sovereignty being in the hands of the people, “the source of all powers.”

      But instead, the constitution blends the executive, legislative, and judicial powers together in one framework, which inevitably contradicts the principle that the people are indeed the source of all powers.

      To add insult to injury, Bahrain, considering how small it is in size, is now ranking among the worst violators of human rights due to its violent crackdowns on the opposition, the Sheikh said. 

      Read more: NGO reports on increased abuse on political prisoners in Bahrain jail

      The elections meant to elect 40 members of the Council of Representatives are scheduled to be held in Manama on November 12.

      But Al-Daihi said it is pointless to accept these “useless elections” as they merely reflect the will of the elite which “consecrate injustice, enslavement, and marginalization that no sane, straightforward, and honest citizen, whose eyes and heart lay on the interests of his people and his country, would ever approve of.”

      Sheikh Al-Daihi added that engaging in the electoral process will not only serve to re-perpetuate the crisis and elongate the sentences of political prisoners but will also enable the zionist entity to meddle in Bahraini domestic affairs via diplomatic normalization, which is to be avoided at all costs.

      Read more: Bahrain king dismisses minister for refusal to normalize with “Israel”

      The Sheikh proclaimed that the party Al-Wefaq strongly condemns all means of subjugating people to slavery, exclusionary decision-making processes, and marginalization, which will all remain if the electoral process goes into effect.

      He pointed out several defects with the overall engineering of the electoral districts and the subsequent social divisions it generates, the lack of legislative and oversight powers, the participation of the military personnel who amounts to over 17% of the electorate, and the adoption of the Political Isolation Law that prohibits all activists and opponents belonging to the main political parties from running and voting.

      Al-Wefaq announces that it is fully boycotting the parliamentary and municipal elections and called on citizens to follow suit, adding that the party expects the lowest level of engagement with it and that acts of threats, intimidation, and coercion by the regime in Bahrain will be to no avail.

      On November 5, the party issued a pamphlet titled “139 reasons to boycott the parliamentary and municipal elections.”

      One of the reasons listed in the pamphlet reads, “The Parliament’s inability to safeguard the practices of basic rights of free speech and the freedom to protest peacefully, and its neglect of the executive body’s systematic abuses on freedom of expression. The Parliament is a partner in repressing freedoms.”

      Read more: Rights mustn’t be violated, lives of punished mustn’t be taken: Pope

      Bahrain Regime Holds Dialogue Forum to Ameliorate Heinous Image of Human Rights Violations

      Nov 5 2022


      By Staff, Agencies

      Relatives of Bahraini political prisoners have called on Pope Francis to put pressure on the Manama regime to end human rights abuses across the kingdom, calling on the pontiff to highlight the plight of the inmates by visiting their families and even prisoners themselves.

      In a report published on Friday, Middle East Eye said the relatives of political prisoners in Bahrain had welcomed Pope Francis’ call for the revocation of the death penalty and observance of human rights in the kingdom, expressing hope that the pontiff would use the remainder of his historic four-day trip to visit families of death row inmates as well as the prisoners.

      “There is an urgent need for the Pope to continue pressuring towards ending human rights violations,” Ali Mushaima, Bahraini human rights activist and son of an imprisoned Bahraini opposition leader Hasan Mushaima, told Middle East Eye on Friday.

      “I previously requested the Pope meet with my father in prison and demand the immediate release of all political prisoners and I hope that this will happen during the upcoming days.”

      The Pope’s visit comes as Bahraini rights activists have raised concerns that the ruling Al Khalifa regime would take advantage of the trip to showcase an image of religious coexistence even while standing accused of systematic persecution of the Shia majority in the country, including many of the political prisoners.

      Maryam Alkhawaja, a Bahraini human rights activist and daughter of Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, a prominent human rights defender imprisoned since 2011, told Middle East Eye that she and others had called on the Pope to cancel his visit to Bahrain or refuse to shake hands with the kingdom’s ruler, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, but neither of them came to pass.

      “However, we are very happy to see that he took this as an opportunity to raise human rights concerns including the death penalty and the sectarian discrimination against the Shia population in Bahrain,” Alkhawaja said.

      The rights activist also said she believed the regime’s plan to use the Pope’s trip as a publicity stunt had backfired, adding, “The visit has worked against them as it has brought further attention to the disastrous human rights situation in the country.”

      Bahrain’s main opposition group, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, said in a statement on Friday that the ruling regime was exploiting the ongoing visit by Pope Francis to cover up its gross human rights violations and repressive measures against democracy advocates.

      Al-Wefaq added that the Manama regime seeks to mask the extent of its oppression and religious discrimination as prisons and detention centers across Bahrain are full of scholars, professors, elites and nationalist figures who are subjected to all forms of torture and humiliation.

      Earlier, nine international human rights organizations urged Pope Francis to call for an end to human rights abuses in Bahrain and denounce the injustice and repressive policies of the Al-Khalifa regime during his visit to the country.

      The head of the Catholic Church is currently paying an official visit to Bahrain at the invitation of the country’s civil and ecclesial authorities. He will conclude his trip on November 6.

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      Russia courts Muslim countries as strategic Eurasian partners

      Thursday, 13 October 2022 7:10 PM  [ Last Update: Friday, 14 October 2022 9:14 AM ]

      Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) attend the CICA summit in Astana, Kazakhstan on October 13, 2022.

      By Pepe Escobar

      Everything that matters in the complex process of Eurasia integration was once again at play in Astana, as the – renamed – Kazakh capital hosted the 6th Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA).

      The roll call was a Eurasian thing of beauty – featuring the leaders of Russia and Belarus (EAEU), West Asia (Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Qatar, Palestine) and Central Asia (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan).

      China and Vietnam (East and Southeast Asia) attended at the level of vice presidents.

      CICA is a multinational forum focused on cooperation toward peace, security, and stability across Asia.,Kazakh President Tokayev revealed that CICA has just adopted a declaration to turn the forum into an international organization.  

      CICA has already established a partnership with the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU). So in practice, it will soon be working together side-by-side with the SCO, the EAEU and certainly BRICS+.

      The Russia-Iran strategic partnership was prominently featured at CICA, especially after Iran being welcomed to the SCO as a full member.

      President Raeisi, addressing the forum, stressed the crucial notion of an emerging  “new Asia”, where “convergence and security” are “not compatible with the interests of hegemonic countries and any attempt to destabilize independent nations has goals and consequences beyond national geographies, and in fact, aims to target the stability and prosperity of regional countries.”

      For Tehran, being a partner in the integration of CICA, within a maze of pan-Asia institutions, is essential after all these decades of”maximum pressure” unleashed by the Hegemon.

      Moreover, it opens an opportunity, as Raeisi noted, for Iran to profit from “Asia’s economic infrastructure.”

      Russian President Vladimir Putin, predictably, was the star of the show in Astana. It’s essential to note that Putin is supported by “all”nations represented at CICA.

      High-level bilaterals with Putin included the Emir of Qatar: everyone that matters in West Asia wants to talk to “isolated” Russia.      

      Putin called for “compensation for the damage caused to the Afghans during the years of occupation” (we all know the Empire of Chaos, Lies and Plunder will refuse it), and emphasized the key role of the SCO to develop Afghanistan.

      He stated that Asia, “where new centers of power are growing stronger, plays a big role in the transition to a multipolar world order”.

      He warned, “there is a real threat of famine and large-scale shocks against the backdrop of volatility in energy and food prices in the world.”

      Hefurther called for the end of a financial system that benefits the “Golden billion” – who “live at the expense of others” (there’s nothing “golden” about this “billion”: at best such definition of wealth applies to 10 million.)

      And he stressed that Russia is doing everything to “form a system of equal and indivisible security”. Exactly what drives the hegemonic imperial elites completely berserk.

      “Offer you can’t refuse” bites the dust

      The imminent juxtaposition between CICA and the SCO and EAEU is yet another instance of how the pieces of the complex Eurasia jigsaw puzzle are coming together.

      Turkey and Saudi Arabia – in theory, staunch imperial military allies – are itching to join the SCO, which has recently welcomed Iran as a full member. 

      That spells out Ankara and Riyadh’s geopolitical choice of forcefully eschewing the imperial Russophobia cum Sinophobia offensive.  

      Erdogan, as an observer at the recent SCO summit in Samarkand, sent out exactly this message. The SCO is fast reaching the point where we may have, sitting at the same table, and taking important consensual decisions, not only the “RICs” (Russia, India, China) in BRICS (soon to be expanded to BRICS+) but arguably the top players inMuslim countries: Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar.

      This evolving process, not without its serious challenges, testifies to the concerted Russia-China drive to incorporate the lands of Islam as essential strategic partners in forging the post-Western multipolar world. Call it a soft Islamization of multipolarity.  

      No wonder the Anglo-American axis is absolutely petrified.

      Now cut to a graphic illustration of all of the above – the way it’s being played in the energy markets: the already legendary Opec+ meeting in Vienna a week ago.

      A tectonic geopolitical shift was inbuilt in the – collective – decision to slash oil production by 2 million barrels a day.

      The Saudi Foreign Ministry issued a very diplomatic note with a stunning piece of information for those equipped to read between the lines.

      For all practical purposes, the combo behind the teleprompter reader in Washington had issued a trademark Mafia threat to stop “protection” to Riyadh if the decision on the oil cuts was taken before the US mid-term elections. 

      Only this time the “offer you can’t refuse” didn’t bite. OPEC+ made a collective decision, led by Russia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 

      Following Putin and MBS famously getting along, it was up to Putin to host UAE President Sheikh Zayed – or MBZ, MBS’s mentor – at the stunning Konstantinovsky Palace in St. Petersburg, which datesback to Peter the Great.

      That was a sort of informal celebration of how OPEC+ had provoked, with a single move, a superpower strategic debacle when it comes to the geopolitics of oil, which the Empire had controlled for a century. 

      Everyone remembers, after the bombing, invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, how US neo-cons bragged, “we are the new OPEC”.

      Well, not anymore. And the move had to come from the Russians and US Persian Gulf “allies” when everyone expected that would happen the day a Chinese delegation lands in Riyadh and asks for payment of all the energy they need in yuan.

      OPEC+ called the American bluff and left the superpower high’n dry. So what are they going to do to “punish” Riyadh and Abu Dhabi? Call CENTCOM in Qatar and Bahrain to mobilize their aircraft carriers and unleash regime change?

      What’s certain is that the Straussian/neocon psychos in charge in Washington will double down on hybrid war.

      The art of “spreading instability”

      In St. Petersburg, as he addressed MBZ, Putin made it clear that it’s OPEC+ – led by Russia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – that is now setting the pace to “stabilize global energy markets” so consumers and suppliers would “feel calm, stable and confident” and supply and demand “would be balanced”.

      On the gas front, at Russian Energy Week, Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller made it clear that Russia may still “save” Europe from an energy black hole.

      Nord Stream (NS) and Nord Stream 2 (NS2) may become operational: but all political roadblocks must be removed before any repairing work starts on the pipelines.

      And on West Asia, Miller said additions to Turk Stream have already been planned, much to the delight of Ankara, keen to become a key energy hub. 

      In a parallel track, it’s absolutely clear that the G7’s desperate gambit of imposing an oil price cap – which translates as the weaponization of sanctions extended to the global energy market – is a losing proposition.

      Slightly over a month before hosting the G20 in Bali, Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati could not make it clearer: “When the United States is imposing sanctions using economic instruments, that creates a precedent for everything”, spreading instability “not only for Indonesia but for all other countries.”

      Meanwhile, allMuslim-majority countries are paying very close attention to Russia. The Russia-Iran strategic partnership is now advancing in parallel to the Russia-Saudi-UAE entente as crucial vectors of multipolarity.

      In the near future, all these vectors are bound to unite in what ideally should be a supra-organization capable of managing the top story of the 21st century: Eurasia integration.    

      Pepe Escobar is a veteran journalist, author and independent geopolitical analyst focused on Eurasia.

      (The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)


      Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

      www.presstv.ir

      www.presstv.co.uk

      Rights Group: Bahrain Has Highest Number of Political Prisoners among Arab States

      September 14, 2022

      By Staff, Agencies

      Bahrain has the biggest number of political prisoners among Arab states, an independent human rights organization said.

      The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights [BCHR] censured the Gulf kingdom over its repressive measures and heavy-handed crackdown against political opponents and democracy advocates.

      It said in a report that Bahrain, under the ruling Al Khalifa dynasty, has the largest number of imprisoned rights activists, and it is estimated that there are some 4,500 campaigners being held behind bars across the country.

      The organization went on to note that a lot of reports published over the past decade have shed light on the deplorable conditions of prisoners at Bahraini jails, prompting the international community and human rights organizations to compel the Al Khalifa regime to relatively improve prison conditions.

      BCHR highlighted that Bahraini authorities have arrested about 15,000 people for their political beliefs over the last decade, thus turning the country into the first Arab nation with the highest number of prisoners in recent years.

      Political prisoners in Bahrain are subjected to various forms of torture, ill-treatment and persecution, and the Al Khalifa regime silences any opposing voice through detention, torture and execution, it pointed out.

      Lately, Jalal Feroz, a former member of the Bahraini parliament, said more than 2,500 political opponents are incarcerated in Bahraini prisons, and that they are subjected to the most vicious forms of torture.

      BCHR, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights [GCHR] and Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain [ADHRB] recently in a joint report entitled “Prison Conditions in Bahrain” pointed to the serious structural deficiencies in Bahrain’s criminal justice system, and lack of fair trials for defendants.

      They emphasized that human rights are being violated on a large scale at detention centers across the Gulf kingdom, and inmates are exposed to various forms of torture and ill-treatment.

      Demonstrations have been held in Bahrain on a regular basis since the popular uprising began in the Arab country in mid-February 2011.

      People demand that the Al Khalifa regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

      Manama, however, has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any form of dissent.

      The normalization of Bahrain With “Israel” is the great betrayal

      Report: “Israeli”–Arab Middle East Military Network is Evolving Overtly & Covertly

      August 16, 2022 

      By Staff, “Israel” Alma Org.

      Efforts by the apartheid “Israeli” entity and some Arab countries surpass mere normalization to the creation of Middle Eastern NATO-like military alliance, as a report by the “Israeli” Alma Center noted.

      The July visit by US President Joe Biden to Saudi Arabia and to the “Israeli”-occupied Palestinian territories was a means to pave the way for such an alliance.

      However, it was likely unrealistic at this stage to expect Riyadh to make public all of the potential ways it might, or already has begun to, cooperate with the “Israeli” entity in the military realm, against the common adversary: Iran and its regional axis.

      According to the report, Saudi Arabia, whose cities, airports, and oil sites have come under regular missile and UAV operations by Iran’s ally the Ansarullah revolutionaries in Yemen, is clearly interested in seeing Iran contained, while also avoiding an all-out war with the Islamic Republic.

      The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s conservative social structure also means that the country is unable to change its public orientation to the “Israeli” entity overnight, in the same manner that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain did after signing the August 2020 “Abraham Accords”.

      Although the Saudi leadership has indicated that it requires progress on the “Israeli”–Palestinian front before it can go further in normalization, the ability of “Israeli” and Saudi Arabia to cooperate in quieter ways against Iran likely goes significantly deeper than meets the eye, explained the report.

      The September 2021 shift of the “Israeli” entity from the area of responsibility of the US Military’s European Command [EUCOM] to Central Command [CENTCOM], the latter being responsible for the Middle East, marked a major milestone in the development of a Middle Eastern architecture, the report pointed.

      The report further added that this shift also allowed for much more substantial US-led coordination of operational military activities among the “Israeli” entity, Gulf states, and American forces in the Middle East against Iran’s regional axis.

      That makes a collective approach in the region towards common threats smoother between the apartheid entity, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, but also, likely with Saudi Arabia.

      Now that the “Israeli” Occupation Forces [IOF] is a formal CENTCOM partner, new opportunities have opened up, the Alma report explains.

      This includes joint maritime and aerial training exercises, strategic planning, and work on drawing up regional cooperation doctrines. The sharing of intelligence and the transfer of technological capabilities are all likely on the table.

      The entity’s move to CENTCOM formalizes joint military drills involving American, Arab, and “Israeli” forces, creating a platform that can be used to develop common missile defense cooperation, as well as cooperation on maritime security, cyber defense, counter-terrorism, and special operations, the report added.

      While every nation in this bloc is responsible, first and foremost, for creating solutions to its challenges individually, the creation of regional arrangements is already underway between the “Israeli” entity and the Gulf states, despite the fact that each has its own threat profile perception when it comes to the Iranian axis.

      The IOF can provide an array of capabilities to this bloc, the report said.

      Just as Saudi Arabia is now providing overflight rights to civilian airliners flying in its air space, it could, theoretically, do the same for IAF flights, as could other Gulf states that are close to Iran.

      Increasingly intimate joint training, such the November 2021 US, “Israeli”, Emirati, and Bahraini joint navy drill in the Red Sea, forms a key pillar of this emerging bloc.

      The acquisition of “Israeli” air defense systems, such as Iron Dome, by Gulf states remains on the agenda, as well as the transfer of other “Israeli” defense technology.

      The “Israeli” entity is well position to supply UAV interception capabilities to its new Gulf friends, while every country that is under CENTCOM’s area of responsibility can share tracking information of UAV and missile activity by Iran and its allies, creating a regional air defense network, the report stated.

      Many of these activities can be expected to occur away from public view, and therefore, official statements by heads of states, including that of Saudi Arabia during Biden’s recent visit, likely only reflect a part of the full picture.

      Overall, the so-called Abraham Accords are increasingly becoming a daily tool to facilitated “Israeli”–Arab joint operations. Military to military cooperation between the entity, the UAE, and Bahrain are growing closer in plain sights, and daily IOF operations are increasingly being integrated with regional, CENTCOM-led frameworks.

      S. Nasrallah Warns ‘Israel’ against Miscalculation: We’ve Reached End of Line, Ready for All Options

      August 9, 2022

      Marwa Haidar

      Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah Warned the Zionist entity against any miscalculation towards Lebanon, stressing that Hezbollah has reached “the end of the line” regarding the issue of gas and maritime border.

      Addressing mourners in Beirut’s southern suburb (Dahiyeh) on Ashura Day, Sayyed Nasrallah affirmed that the Lebanese resistance group is fully ready to confront all options, in response to Israeli threats and in a clear message that Hezbollah is prepared for war.

      Sayyed Nasrallah hailed what he called the legendry steadfastness of Gaza’s people and resistance in face of Israeli aggression, voicing full commitment to Palestine as the central cause of the nation.

      His eminence also voiced sympathy and support to Nigeria’s Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and people of Bahrain, Yemen and Syria.

      Sayyed Nasrallah also warned Iraqis against foreign schemes.

      Ashura and Nigeria

      Sayyed Nasrallah started his speech by offering condolences for Imam Mahdi (a.j.), the lord of the age, and all Muslims over martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (a.s.).

      Talking via a video link, Sayyed Nasrallah renewed allegiance to Imam Hussein, noting that “throughout 40 years, we haven’t abandoned him, and we will never do so.”

      He voiced sympathy with Nigeria Shia cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, who has been for years subjected to repeated crackdowns by Nigerian authorities.

      “Ashura is the day when we shall voice support to all those who are oppressed. We voice sympathy with Sheikh Zakzaky, along with his supporters.”

      Palestine and Bahrain

      The Hezbollah S.G. then stressed that Palestine is the central cause of the nation, praising those who were martyred and injured to defend the occupied country.

      “Palestine is the central cause. We don’t expect mercy from the US, but we address those who claim they are Arabs. To be Muslims or Arabs is to support oppressed people.”

      “We feel proud of the martyrs and resistance fighters over their legendry steadfastness. We renew our commitment to this affair.”

      Sayyed Nasrallah, meanwhile, slammed Bahraini regime over normalizing ties with the Zionist entity, and over attacking Ashura ceremonies across the Arab island.

      “One of the ugliest parties who normalized ties with Israel is the regime in Bahrain who proved that it doesn’t tolerate a black flag,” he said referring to flags raised during Ashura ceremonies.

      “We recall the oppression of people of Bahrain, whose rights are stolen by their treacherous rulers who are embracing the enemies of this nation.”

      Yemen, Iraq and Syria

      Sayyed Nasrallah then reiterated the Lebanese resistance group’s stance towards Yemen.

      “In the day of oppressed (Ashura) we reiterate that we stand by the people of Yemen who have been for years tirelessly fighting for their dignity and confronting tyrants.”

      “People of Yemen are real personification of Karbala and supporting them is a duty.”

      The Hezbollah S.G. also urged Iraqis to solve their disagreements, calling on them to foil schemes set by the nation’s enemies.

      On Syria, Sayyed Nasrallah said the country has overcome the universal war launched by many international regional sides, but stressed that the blockade represented by the US Caesar Act.

      His eminence also praised Iran, describing the Islamic Republic, led by Supreme Leader Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei, as the heart of the Axis of Resistance.

      In this context, Sayyed Nasrallah recalled sacrifices made by martyrs Qassem Suleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis who were martyred by a US strike in Baghdad in 2020.

      In Lebanon, Another Account to Settle

      On Lebanon, Sayyed Nasrallah was very clear, as he responded to Israeli threats and warned the occupation regime against any miscalculation.

      “The Lebanese are the only people who decide their fates and make their decisions. Throughout 40 years we have confronted all forms of challenges including wars, blockades and assassinations.”

      “We look forward to a free and powerful Lebanon that is capable to defend its dignity and to invest its wealth. We look forward to Lebanon which is capable of cutting off any hand that would extend to its wealth.”

      Meanwhile, his eminence called on Lebanese sides to exert joint efforts in a bid to form a government and to cope with current crises, urging officials to feel the pain of the Lebanese citizens.

      On the issue of gas, oil and maritime border, Sayyed Nasrallah said Hezbollah will see the responses to the Lebanese State’s requests in the coming days.

      Addressing resistance supporters, and especially resistance fighters, Sayyed Nasrallah said they should be ready for all options.

      “We are dealing with this battle with utmost level of seriousness. I say to the Israelis and the Americans (US administration): Lebanon will never tolerate stealing its wealth.”

      “We have reached the end of the line and we will keep up on this way.”

      On the other hand, Sayyed Nasrallah responded to Israeli remarks regarding the “messages” behind the last 3-day aggression on Gaza.

      “Yes, I was watching the latest developments in Gaza and the message was delivered. We have seen heroism and steadfastness in Gaza as well as the unity of its resistance factions. Gaza managed to impose its own equation of deterrence. As for Lebanon, there is another account to settle.”

      In this context, his eminence warned: “any aggression on any person in Lebanon won’t go unpunished. We remind you that we are the lovers of Imam Hussein (a.s.) who once said ‘Humiliation, never!’.”

      Source: Al-Manar English Website

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      Bahrain king dismisses minister for refusal to normalize with “Israel”

       July 23, 2022

      Source: Agencies

      By Al Mayadeen English 

      The President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities was dismissed by the king for refusing to shake hands with the Israeli ambassador to Bahrain.

      Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities.

      Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa dismissed Friday the President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, who is also part of the royal family, for refusing to shake hands with the Israeli ambassador to Bahrain and for refusing to Judaize old neighborhoods in Manama, the Bahraini capital. 

      Bahraini sources revealed that the king did not wait for Mai to return from her official visit in Albania to dismiss her, but rather did it right away. Replacing Mai, Khalifa bin Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa was appointed. 

      On June 16, 2022, US Ambassador Stephen Bundy held a memorial service in his home for his father, to which Sheikha Mai was invited, but not alone – the Israeli ambassador to Bahrain, Eitan Na’eh, also received an invite. 

      During the filming of the service, and as they were introduced to shake hands, Sheikha Mai withdrew her hand and refused to shake Na’eh’s hand. She left the ambassador’s house, and requested the embassy not publish any image of her at the event. 

      Recently, the former minister refused to Judaize old Manama neighborhoods, such as Bab Al-Bahrain and Al-Mutanabbi Street, including the Jewish Synagogue located on Sasa’ah Avenue. 

      Last year on November 30, Mai hosted at the Sheikh Ibrahim Center historian and pro-Palestinian Ilan Pappe, who stresses on the abolition of the “Zionist racist settler colonialism of Palestine,” a blow to normalization with “Israel” in Bahrain. 

      Mai had worked in culture and media for over 20 years, and has always been a controversial figure in the kingdom. 

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      Netanyahu highly values MBS role in signing ‘Abraham Accords’

      11 Jul 2022

      Source: Israeli media

      By Al Mayadeen English 

      Former Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu expresses openly for the first time MBS’ clear contribution to the signing of several normalization agreements with “Israel”.

      Former Israeli occupation PM Benjamin Netanyahu (Archive)

      Israeli media relayed the appreciation of the leader of the Israeli opposition, Benjamin Netanyahu, to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, for his contribution to the completion of the four so-called “Abraham Accords”.

      Netanyahu said that in case he assumes leadership once again, then he intends to achieve full “peace agreements” with Saudi Arabia, as well as with other Arab states.

      The former Israeli Prime Minister’s statement comes ahead of an upcoming visit by US President Joe Biden to the Middle East, during which he will meet with Palestinian and Israeli occupation officials.

      According to Israeli media, Biden plans to meet with Netanyahu during his upcoming visit to “Israel”.

      This is the first time in which an Israeli official openly highlights bin Salman’s clear contribution to the signing of the normalization agreements with the Israeli occupation.

      The UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan were part of the so-called “Abraham Accords” brokered by former US President Donald Trump’s administration in 2020 to normalize relations with “Israel”.

      Mossad plane lands in Riyadh ahead of Biden’s visit

      On Monday, the political affairs commentator for the Israeli Makan channel, Shimon Aran, revealed that a private Israeli plane “that the Israeli Mossad used in the past landed this afternoon in Riyadh.”  

      The Israeli commentator confirmed, through his account on Twitter, that the plane landed this afternoon in Riyadh, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, apparently in preparation for US President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit.

      Netanyahu visited Saudi Arabia

      It is noteworthy that “Israel” Hayom newspaper had previously revealed that Israeli envoys visited Riyadh several times throughout a period of time that extends for over a decade now. However, these visits have always been kept secret.

      There has been one exception to the secret visits and that is Netanyahu’s visit in November of 2020 to the Red Sea city of Neom, which was widely yet carefully publicized, where he met with bin Salman.

      Previously, Israeli Security Minister Benny Gantz had visited Saudi Arabia as chief of staff, while Aluf Meir Dagan, Tamir Pardo, and Yossi Cohen arrived as heads of Mossad and Ben Shabbat as head of the “National Security Council.” The purpose of the visit was to develop security coordination, especially against Iran.

      Netanyahu, as did most Israeli officials, had flown to Saudi Arabia in a private plane especially leased for this occasion. At the time, it was business contacts that have matured into political, military, and security deals.

       A “road map for normalization”

      In the same context, four informed US sources told Axios that the White House has been working on a “road map for normalization” between Saudi Arabia and the Israeli occupation ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to West Asia in July.

      Earlier this year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman said, “We do not view Israel as an enemy, but rather as a potential ally in the many interests that we can pursue together, but some issues must be resolved before we can reach that.”

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      Algeria: 60 years of endless support for the Palestinian cause

      July 5, 2022

      Source: Al Mayadeen Net + Agencies

      By Ahmad Karakira 

      Algeria has always demonstrated unconditional support for the country of Palestine and the Palestinian cause, which dates back to fighting “Israel” and helping Egypt claim back Sinai in the 1973 October War.

      Algeria’s unconditional support for the Palestinian cause

      On July 5, 1962, after 132 years of French colonialism, Algeria declared its independence. The Evian agreements of March 18, 1962, ended the war between France and the Algerian National Liberation Army (ALN), and a referendum of self-determination took place on the first of July, 1962.

      The results of the referendum came in favor of transferring power from the French to the Algerian authorities on July 3, ending decades of occupation, settler colonialism, and massacres.

      The date – July 5 – was deliberately chosen by the Algerian government in reference to July 5, 1830, when the city of Algiers was occupied by France.

      The seven-year war between the French occupier and the Algerian resistance left around one million Algerian martyrs on the path of Algeria’s freedom and liberation.

      Endless stories about heroic epic battles by the Algerian resistance against Western colonialism can be recounted on the 60th anniversary of Algeria’s independence.

      However, this piece aims to shed light on Algeria’s endless support for Palestine, the Palestinian cause, and fellow Arab states against all forms of oppression and occupation since the north African country gained its liberation through resistance.

      “We are with Palestinians, be they the oppressed or the oppressors”

      To begin with, Palestinians supported the Algerian Revolution from 1954-1962 and showed solidarity through organizing fundraisers for Algeria.

      Despite some Arab states shamefully signing normalization agreements with the Israeli occupation in exchange for some benefits, Algeria has strongly opposed such deals, considering normalization with the occupation as a betrayal to the Arabs and the Palestinian cause.

      In the early 1970s, former Algerian President Houari Boumediene said his famous phrase, “We are with Palestinians, be they the oppressed or the oppressors.”

      It is noteworthy that similar to the official Algerian stance on Palestine, Algerians, according to the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, oppose normalizing ties with the Israeli occupation with a 99% rate.

      One would wonder about the secret behind Algeria’s unconditional support for the Palestinian cause.

      Historically, Algeria has always been advocating the Palestinian cause and supporting fellow Arab states against the Israeli occupation.

      In fact, after only five years of gaining its liberation from the French occupation, Algeria supported the Arab allies against “Israel” by sending troops and aircrafts to fight alongside the Arab states in the 1967 Six-Day War.

      The Algerian army also played an important role during the 1973 October war.

      Significantly, when Egypt signed the Camp David Agreement and established ties with the Israeli occupation, Algeria severed its ties with Egypt.

      In addition, Algeria established close relations with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), providing it with weapons, training its fighters during the 70s, and helping the PLO obtain observer status in the UN in 1974.

      After the former US President Donald Trump’s administration, the UAE, and “Israel” revealed the so-called “Abraham Accords” in August, current Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune stressed his country’s deep commitment to the Palestinian cause, affirming that Algeria deems Palestine as a sacred cause.

      Algiers also harshly criticized the normalizing states (the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan). It also paid the price for its anti-normalization stance, as the US acknowledged the Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara after years of unresolved disputes and unachievable status.

      In trying to understand the reason behind Algeria’s official and popular support for the Palestinian cause, Sami Hamdi, the Editor-in-Chief of the International Interest magazine, explained that “Algerians feel a deep resonance with the Palestinians who have been colonized for some 82 years and believe that whatever the difficulties, resistance will eventually succeed.”

      In the same context, TRT had quoted Jalel Harchaoui, a Senior Fellow at the Geneva-based Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, as saying that Algeria’s “somewhat exceptional history makes resistance against colonial powers writ large a narrative crucially central to the Algerian state as we know it.”

      Algeria’s participation in the 1973 October War

      Aiming to restore the lands that “Israel” occupied during the 1967 Six-Day War – Sinai in Egypt and the Golan Heights in Syria – on October 6, 1973, Cairo and Damascus launched an attack on the Zionist entity. The war coincided with the holy month of Ramadan.

      During that time, Algeria played a significant role in providing Egypt and Syria with Soviet weapons and bringing in troops to the Egyptian front to fight the Israeli occupation, despite its then-instable economic situation as a result of the pre-independence era of French colonialism.

      In fact, then-Algerian President Houari Boumedienne reportedly flew to Moscow to secure military aid for the Egyptians and the Syrians.

      In a reiteration of its role in supporting anti-colonialist movements, Algeria sent more than 2,100 troops, 815 non-commissioned officers, and 192 officers to Sinai. It also sent 96 tanks and over 50 fighters and bomber aircraft to Egypt, according to the Egyptian authorities.

      Algiers also participated in the oil embargo imposed by the Arab members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on the US over its support of the Israeli occupation during the war, which led to significant price hikes around the world.

      On October 17, Arab oil producers decided to increase the price of oil by 17% and cut oil production by 5%, vowing to “maintain the same rate of reduction each month thereafter until the Israeli forces are fully withdrawn from all Arab territories occupied during the June 1967 War, and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people are restored.”

      Sharon underestimated the power of Algerian forces

      In the context of the 1973 October War, the former Chief of Staff of the Israeli occupation forces, David Eliezer, acknowledged in his released diaries that “Israel” lost this war as a result of the arrogance of then-Major General Ariel Sharon, who underestimated the power of the Algerian forces and thought that they wouldn’t stand a chance against the IOF forces, thinking that they would flee as soon as they set their eyes on Israeli tanks.

      Eliezer said that 900 IOF soldiers were killed and 172 tanks were destroyed in just one day during the war.

      On his part, the former Israeli Security Minister Moshe Dayan revealed that all the intelligence information showed that Algerians did not have weapons capable of intercepting the Israeli forces.

      Dayan also said the Israelis received intelligence about a state of division between the Egyptians and the Algerians. The Israelis were surprised by the Algerian forces downing a giant US Lockheed C-5 Galaxy aircraft by a missile, which frightened the US Staff and frustrated the Nixon administration.

      The former Israeli minister said the Egyptian forces deceived the Israeli forces, making them believe that the strategic Al-Adabiya port was not fortified enough. However, the Algerian forces were in charge of protecting the port.

      One cannot but hail the role of Algeria in supporting the Palestinian cause and anti-colonial liberation movements, whether on the official or popular level. Despite the geographical distances separating Palestine from Algeria, Algerians believe that the two countries share the same pain, torture, grief, sorrow, and hopefully the same liberation to be achieved in the near future.

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      Raisi: Normalization of Relations Will Not Bring Security to Zionist Regime

      June 28, 2022

      By Staff, Agencies

      Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi says normalization of relations with a number of regional Arab countries will not bring security to the Zionist regime of the “Israeli” entity.

      Raisi made the remarks in a joint presser with the visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Tehran on Sunday.

      “During this meeting, we discussed trade and political and economic relations [between the two countries], and decided to boost economic ties. We discussed the rail connection between Shalamcheh [in Iran] and [Iraq’s] Basra [port], which can play a great role in facilitating trade between the two countries. We also discussed facilitation of monetary and banking relations between Iran and Iraq,” he said.

      Reflecting on the efforts made by the Zionist regime’s official during past years to normalize relations with some Arab states in the region, Iran’s chief executive said, “The efforts made by the Zionist regime to normalize relations with regional countries will by no means bring security to this regime.

      “We and Iraq believe that peace and tranquility in the region depends on all regional officials doing their parts, and normalization [of relations] with the [Zionist] regime and the presence of foreigners in the region will solve none of the regional people’s problems,” Raisi said.

      Highlighting the importance of relations between Iran and Iraq and the role played by the two countries in regional developments, Raisi said, “We stood by people of Iraq when the country was going through dire straits and will continue to stick together. This friendship and relations will never go cold and will further develop on a daily basis. There is no doubt that the visit by Mr. Kadhimi and his accompanying delegation can be a turning point in development of relations between the two countries.

      He said that during his meeting with Kadhimi they discussed the existing relations among regional countries, adding, “We believe that dialog among regional countries can solve regional problems, [but] the presence of foreigners in the region only creates more problems and does not help solve those problems.”

      Back in 2020, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed United States-brokered agreements with the entity to normalize their ties with the regime. Some other regional states, namely Sudan and Morocco, followed suit soon afterward.

      Spearheaded by the UAE, the move has sparked widespread condemnations from the Palestinians as well as nations and human rights advocates across the globe, especially within the Muslim world.

      Other regional countries have also been fraternizing with the entity, including Saudi Arabia, which received a visit by the regime’s former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in November 2020.

      Earlier this month, Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei said the Arab governments that chose to normalize relations with the “Israeli” entity against the will of their people will end up being exploited by the occupying regime.

      Elsewhere in the presser, the Iranian president said the two sides have underlined the need for establishing a durable ceasefire in Yemen, lifting the economic blockade, and facilitating intra-Yemeni talks as the solutions to the existing problem in the impoverished country.

      “Undoubtedly, we consider the continuation of this [Saudi-led] war fruitless and believe that this war has no outcome but the suffering of the people,” Raisi said, emphasizing that ceasefire can be a “step towards resolving issues in Yemen.”

      Saudi Arabia launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states.

      The objective was to reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and crush the Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen.

      While the Saudi-led coalition has failed to meet any of its objectives, the war has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

      Kadhimi, for his part, said that during his talks with Iranian officials, the two sides discussed bilateral historical, cultural, and religious relations.

      The Iraqi premier added that Baghdad attaches great importance to its relations with Tehran on the basis of common interests.

      He noted that Iran and Iraq agreed to make further efforts to serve their nations’ interests and boost trade ties.

      Kadhimi said Iran and Iraq also agreed to set a timetable to facilitate the huge annual Arbaeen procession.

      He added that while Iranian pilgrims have already been able to receive visas at Iraqi airports, it is now possible for a specific number of Arbaeen pilgrims to obtain visas through border crossings.

      The Iraqi prime minister said, “We also discussed major regional challenges and agreed to make a joint effort to help establish stability and calm in the region. We also talked about fateful issues facing the regional nations. We decided to support the Yemen ceasefire and agreed to support dialogue in Yemen in order to put an end to a war that has brought a lot of suffering to Yemeni people.”

      After a 6-year enforced ban, Bahrain’s Shiites congregate for Friday central prayers

      May 23, 2022

      Source: Al Mayadeen English

      Sondoss Al Asaad 

      The pulpit of Bahrain’s oppressed and deprived people, for decades, used to firmly appeal for stolen rights, reforms, rapprochement, and reconciliation.

      After a 6-year enforced ban, Bahrain’s Shiites congregate for Friday central prayers

      With the resume of Bahrain’s central Friday congregational prayer for Shiite citizens in the Imam Al-Sadiq mosque in the village of Duraz, the popular and political concerns have again been brought to the pulpit of Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Qassim, the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s Shia community. That pulpit for long has been used to address the people’s dilemmas resulting from the wrong policies pursued by the regime that controls their wealth and fate. 

      The pulpit of Bahrain’s oppressed and deprived people, both Sunnis and Shiites, for decades, used to firmly appeal for stolen rights, reforms, rapprochement, and reconciliation, and call for a comprehensive, sound, and a realistic approach to the political and rights reality.

      Henceforth, this perturbed the government and its security services, which assiduously tried to deviate its moderate sermons and those of the Bahraini clerics. Indeed, those religious leaders have positively contributed to controlling the masses, adjusting their discourse, and preventing attempts to divert them into violence. 

      The auspicious resume of the central prayer coincides with the anniversary of the 23rd of May, known as the anniversary of the five martyrs of redemption, who fell in defense of the religious and national leadership of Ayatollah Qassem in 2017, a year after the arbitrary revocation of his citizenship due to his keenness to renounce atonement and combat corruption, and his repeated calls for fairness to all citizens.

      His Eminence is the most senior cleric of Bahrain’s Shiites, who constitute an estimated 65% of the country’s citizen population. In 1972, he was elected as a member of the historic Constitutional Assembly, which wrote Bahrain’s first constitution. 

      On June 20, 2016, Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior arbitrarily stripped the citizenship of Ayatollah Qassim, rendering him stateless. In a statement, it claimed that Ayatollah Qassim, through sermons and religious edicts, had “fomented sectarianism, collected funds unlawfully, and exploited the religious pulpit for political purposes to serve foreign interests.”

      In response, hundreds of followers began a peaceful sit-in around his home on Duraz. For their part, the authorities subjected the village to an unprecedented lockdown, in what is a form of collective retribution. All major and minor entrances were sealed off with concrete slabs, sandbags, police cars, and barbed wire. Besides, all major Internet Service Providers enforced an internet blackout for long hours.

      One year later, on May 21, 2017, and just a day after former US President Trump met Bahrain’s King in Riyadh and told him there would be “no strain” between their two countries, Ayatollah Qassim was sentenced to a one-year suspended sentence on fabricated charges of “money laundering”, solely linked to the religious practice of Khums – a religious donation to senior clerics, who, in turn, distribute it for religious and charitable purposes. 

      Two days later, on 23 May 2017, police stormed into Duraz and, using excessive force, arrested over 280 armless protesters and brutally murdered 5 (aka martyrs of redemption). 

      Due to the culture of impunity, no one has been held accountableو and Duraz remained under a police blockade with a permanent police presence outside Ayatollah Qassim’s house, which led to the deterioration of his health, for which he later left Bahrain to receive medical treatment abroad.

      For those interested in understanding Bahrain’s politics, it is essential indeed to study and reflect on the sermons of Imam Al-Sadiq mosque to comprehend the ongoing crisis, as it approaches not only religious but also political and rights appalling issues.

      Through this platform, various unifying national stances were expressed, reflecting the visions of the moderate opposition seeking to build a robust state that does justice to all its citizens and preserves their national identity, rejecting sectarianism, denouncing global arrogance and imperialism, supporting the Palestinian cause, and rejecting the temporary occupying entity.

      Decades of systematic persecution arrests and displacements of political and religious figures, stifling inalienable freedoms, and silencing the opposition have all failed to curb this national, religious, ideological, political, and pro-rights platform, and to intimidate the people who are getting more and more insistent on their legitimate, non-negotiable rights.

      On the other hand, there were pulpits in Bahrain that incite blasphemy and hatred, call for takfir, send aid to the terrorists in Syria, and encourage the futile aggressive war on Yemen.

      Accordingly, the large crowds this week have reflected, as the International Quds Day rallies and despite the escalating political circumstance, the failure of the repressive security policy.

      The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

      Tortured Death Row Bahraini Prisoners at Risk of Execution by Saudi Regime

      May 23, 2022

      By Sondos al-Assad

      Lebanon – Two Bahraini nationals Sadeq Thamer [33] and Jaafar Sultan [30], who have exhausted all their appeals, are at imminent risk of execution by Saudi regime, on the basis of his torture-tainted “confessions”. The young men have been arrested, without a warrant, on May 8, 2015, while crossing King Fahd Causeway.

      They have been subjected to enforced disappearance [for 115 days], severely tortured and accused of “transporting explosive materials”. According to rights groups, 25 days after their arrest, they were supposed to be transferred to Bahrain. However, while they were on the bus, a Bahraini officer received a call and began to insult and threaten them with reprisal. Then, they were returned to the Saudi territories.

      On the same day, their houses in Bahrain were violently stormed by individuals belonging to the Bahraini Criminal Investigations Directorate in civilian clothes. The policemen confiscated a laptop, computer, and phones, and their families were not informed about their whereabouts.

      Sadeq and Jaafar were then taken to the Saudi General Investigation Prison in Dammam, where they were placed in solitary confinement for nearly 115 days [4 months].

      After their families reached out to various Bahraini and Saudi governmental bodies, Sadeq and Jaafar were allowed to call but mentioned nothing about the condition of their detention and investigations.

      During the first family visit, on 13 October 2015, Sadeq and Jaafar informed their parents that they were forcibly pressured to confess under severe and inhumane physical and psychological torture. In court, Jaafar told the lawyer that he was transferred to the hospital for 10 days because of torture and that he was threatened too with torturing his family members. Likewise, Sadeq was mal-treated, beaten, and threatened to be tortured and held incommunicado when refusing to sign the fabricated charges.

      The Saudi Public Prosecution charged Sadeq and Jaafar with allegedly joining a terrorist cell, smuggling explosive materials, and misleading the Saudi investigation authorities. Then a Saudi Specialized Criminal Court sentenced them to death on 7 October 2021. Noting that also Bahrain’s 4th High Criminal Court sentenced them on 31 May 2016 to life imprisonment and a fine of 200000 BHD dinars for the same charges.

      Sadeq and Jaafar are prominent religious and social activists and apparently, their arbitrary conviction is politically-motivated.

      The use of the death penalty has dramatically escalated over the past decade in Bahrain, specifically rising by more than 600%, with at least 5 citizens being executed for political reasons. Despite pledges for human rights reform, some 26 men in Bahrain are currently facing imminent execution, 12 of whose convictions were based on false torture and were convicted of “terrorism” charges.

      For its part, the Saudi authorities executed last March 81 individuals, marking a sharp rise in the number of recorded executions. This appalling death toll is likely to be an underestimate, as Saudi authorities do not publish statistics on executions or the number of prisoners on death row; nor do they inform families or lawyers in advance of executions.

      Torture is rampant in Saudi Arabia, and courts regularly admit torture-tainted “confessions” as evidence. Thus, sentencing torture survivors to death for their peaceful activism is a heinous crime. While Sadeq and Jaafar’s helpless families await the news in anguish, the uncertainty of knowing that they could be murdered at any moment is an unspeakable strain!

      Riyadh Court Upholds Death Sentence of Two Bahraini Youths

      May 21, 2022

      By Staff, Agencies

      A top Saudi court upheld death sentences of two young Bahraini nationals over trumped-up terror charges.

      The Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia issues a final ruling to execute Bahraini prisoners of conscience, Sadiq Thamer and Jaafar Sultan

      The Riyadh-based supreme court of appeals sentenced Sadiq Majid Thamer and Jaafar Mohammed Sultan to death after alleging that they have been found guilty of “smuggling explosives” into the kingdom and “involved in terrorist activities.”

      Human rights organizations and an opposition protest movement described the rulings as “unfair and arbitrary,” saying they were issued based on confessions extracted under torture.

      This come as social media activists have launched campaigns in solidarity with the two Bahraini youths, with human rights organizations and campaigners calling for an end to the “unjust” ruling and their immediate release.

      Bahrain’s February 14 Revolution Youth Coalition held the Saudi regime fully responsible for the youths’ safety, calling on the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to take on his duties and intervene urgently to stop the crime.

      The Bahraini opposition movement also called on the international community to stand up against Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and prevent the death sentences from being carried out.

      The Coalition demanded swift action to save the lives of the two young Bahraini nationals before it gets too late, considering Bahrain’s ruling Khalifah regime as a partner in any criminal action against the Arab nation.

      Sultan and Thamer were arrested in May 2015 along the King Fahd Causeway, which connects Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

      They were held incommunicado for months after their arrest. The Bahraini youths were subjected to systematic and fatal torture with the aim of extracting false confessions from them.

      Ever since bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested dozens of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others perceived as political opponents, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.

      Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedom of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied.

      Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.

      Bahrain’s most prominent cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim has said that drawing up a new constitution is the only way out of the political crisis in the protest-hit tiny Gulf kingdom, urging the regime in Manama to pursue an agreement with the Bahraini opposition instead of increasingly suppressing dissent.

      Demonstrations have been held in Bahrain on a regular basis ever since a popular uprising began in mid-February 2011.

      The participants demand that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

      Manama, however, has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent.

      Israeli media: Upcoming weeks pose huge challenge to Israeli army

      30 Apr 2022

      Source: Israeli media

      By Al Mayadeen Net 

      Israeli media comment on the speeches of Hezbollah Secretary-General and IRGC Commander on the occasion of International Al-Quds Day.

      Israeli occupation soldiers

      Israeli media underscored Friday that the upcoming weeks will pose a major challenge to the Israeli security and military establishment.

      Arab affairs commentator on Israeli Channel 13, Hezi Simantov, said that Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Major General Hossein Salami praised and encouraged Palestinian operations.

      Simantov added that the two leaders called on more Palestinians to carry out operations in occupied Palestinian territories, knowing that it would be difficult to thwart them in advance.

      The Israeli commentator pointed out that the Hamas movement will continue to activate one-man solo operations carried out by Palestinians in the occupied territories in the coming weeks, considering that this would be a major challenge to the Israeli occupation security and military establishment.

      It is noteworthy that Sayyed Nasrallah underscored Friday in his speech on the occasion of the International Al-Quds Day that these operations exposed the fragility of the Israeli occupation’s security and the weakness of its security apparatus. He stressed that they also impacted the Israeli settlers’ trust in their government and army, which has vast tremendous repercussions.

      In the same context, the Israeli newspaper “Israel” Hayom quoted an excerpt of Nasrallah’s speech, in which he said, “I found out that Iran informed normalizing countries that any aggression against Iran from these countries will be responded to, and this message has made it to [“Tel Aviv”]… Iran could strike Israel directly, and its preludes are becoming greater by the day.”

      The newspaper indicated that in his statement, Nasrallah meant by the normalizing country the two Gulf states who signed the so-called “Abrahamic Accords”, namely the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

      Sheikh Ali Salman: A Leader Who Does Not Lose Sight Of His People

      April 19, 2022 

      By Latifa Al-Husseini

      Life imprisonment is only fueling the resolve of the Secretary General of Bahrain’s opposition Al-Wefaq movement Sheikh Ali Salman. Being confined to a cell hasn’t changed his convictions. He remains steadfast, and unshaken by the many years behind bars.

      Sheikh Salman knows the cost of standing up to the Bahraini authorities. Since the 1990s, he has worked to have the voice of the people reach the ears of the rulers.

      Whoever communicates with His Eminence today sees exceptional determination that no political prisoner had exhibited before. His persistence is apparent and so is the strength of logic and adherence to certain positions. His experience is something that the free people and comrades of the movement learn from at all stages.

      The popularity of the leader, as the Bahrainis call him, did not decline, but rather increased. Despite his unjust punishment, Sheikh Salman proceeds resolutely and valiantly, armed with certainty that shades his jihad, turning into a solid fortress from which the sons of the country derive steadfastness on principles and valor in adversity.

      How is Sheikh Salman spending his days? How can he be reassured about the conditions of his family, friends, and comrades? What about the affairs of the country? Can he keep up with them? What’s his advice?

      Eight years after his arrest, the wife of Al-Wefaq’s Secretary General, Ms. Alia Radhi, talks to Al-Ahed News about his obsessions and interests and how he goes about his days.

      The Freedom of the Detainees Is His Freedom

      Radhi tells Al-Ahed, “Since the first day of his arrest, I have seen nothing but steadfastness and insistence on his position to support his people and work to achieve their demands. I have felt his satisfaction and happiness because he is experiencing the ordeal of being imprisoned as the sons of the country. Being incarcerated, he is sharing their pain, concerns, and plight. He often confided in me about his pain and sadness because he was free and the brothers, including [key] figures, are in detention.”

      She notes that His Eminence “recommends from his detention to prioritize the demand to release all detainees over his release in every movement and gathering because he is one of them and his freedom is their freedom.”

      A Teacher of Patience

      Radhi describes Sheikh Salman as “a teacher of patience, steadfastness, and resoluteness.”

      She talks about the morale that he spreads among his companions and points out that “he is the one who instills patience in everything that happens to us and erases our pain with his smile and confident and faithful words.”

      “He paints with his steadfastness the highest meanings and implications of freedom while behind rusty bars. That narrow space does not bother him, as his heart is spacious and accommodates everyone.”

      Communication Continues Despite Being Behind Bars

      In February 2020, family visits to His Eminence were forbidden under the pretext of Corona, according to his wife, but audio and video communications are still ongoing. However, Sheikh Salman and his companions [other opposition figures] refrained from receiving visitors before this date because visitations were held through a glass barrier.

      Prison conditions are not ideal. According to Radhi, Sheikh Salman is being subjected to harassment, but he absorbs it with patience, reassuring his family and friends during calls.

      He Dedicate Himself to the People

      The way Sheikh Salman goes about his days in prison indicate his toughness. In this context, Radhi points out that she never felt his frustration or remorse for the sacrifice and imprisonment throughout this period.

      “He dedicated himself to the people, this country, and its just cause and demands,” she explains.

      “He has made himself accustomed to the consequences of this struggle and jihad for more than 25 years, during which he did not fear blame, imprisonment, or threats, especially as he went through the experience of exile during the crisis in the 1990s. This did not deter him from demanding the right and freedom of this people no matter the costs.”

      His Time Is Not Wasted

      Sheikh Salman’s time is not wasted. Reading various religious texts is his refuge, and this gives him a feeling of reassurance. As for the homeland and its affairs, they are constantly monitored by Sheikh Salman. Radhi explains to Al-Ahed that His Eminence is following up on developments. She also reveals that “his family and friends convey to him the latest developments, situations, statements, the movements of organizations for the cause of Bahrain, and any statements related to Bahrain. He also reads daily newspapers and follows news from certain channels only.”

      The political Crisis Continues

      The positions of Al-Wefaq’s Secretary General towards the situation in Bahrain are clear. Sheikh Salman knows that as long as he is imprisoned, the political crisis will continue. The situation of the sons of the country pains him, and he thinks of them more than he thinks about his condition. He always calls for action to demand their release before he asks for work to be done on his case. He considers the pain and causes of the people his priority and his greatest obsession.

      Radhi says that “the main concern for Sheikh Salman is that the people enjoy all their rights, including political rights to freedom, equality, social justice, and a just distribution of wealth, for every detainee and expatriate to return to their homeland, for mothers to sleep peacefully every night without fear of their homes being raided at any moment and their children taken from their arms, and for our children to live in safety, not crying every night longing for their absent fathers.”

      Palestine in the mind of the Secretary General

      Palestine is always on Sheikh Salman’s mind. His wife says that like the majority of the people of Bahrain, “Palestine is in his heart and mind. He stands in solidarity with its people, is against normalization with the ‘Israeli’ enemy, and refuses to desecrate our pure land with the Zionists, especially that there is a history of struggle against normalization. The people took part in solidarity rallies with Palestine despite the oppression and siege. On April 7, 2002, martyr Muhammad Juma al-Shakhouri was killed by the Bahraini regime forces near the American embassy during the demonstrations against the Zionist entity and in defense of Gaza. Before his arrest, he used to mark International Quds Day every year by participating in events, speeches, and marches in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

      Ayatollah Qassem Is His Role Model

      The Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassem is Sheikh Salman’s role model. His wife says that he “feels great pain because of the injustice that has befallen His Eminence, and he always prays for the cleric’s return to his land, the land of his ancestors, and his hometown in Bahrain, because he has the right to be on his land and among his family and people who long for him.”

      Bahrain: The Regime Is Being Bullheaded, While the Opposition Is Determined

      April 13, 2022

      By Latifa al-Husseini

      Those who have kept pace with Bahrain’s pro-democracy uprising, which started in February 2011, may be under the mistaken impression that the movement is letting up or perhaps that it died out. And while it’s true that its leading figures are unjustly and arbitrarily imprisoned, the demands remain unchanged.

      These demands are yet to be achieved. Political rights, social justice, and economic transparency are what Bahrainis are calling for. But these calls are falling on the regime’s deaf ears as the struggle continues.

      Eleven years of domestic and international appeals demonstrate that the passage of time didn’t turn the page on the conflict. The Al Khalifa regime is proving that it is resistant to change and development. Despite all the changes in the world, the regime maintains its arrogance. It does not think about development and taking the initiative to solve the severe crisis. The people lack confidence in the government, and there is no solution looming on the horizon. Talking today about a positive step toward a comprehensive political solution is unrealistic, as common ground on key issues is inexistent. The people have not yet obtained guarantees that reassure them that tomorrow will indeed be better.

      The former deputy for Bahrain’s Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society and prominent opposition leader Ali Al-Aswad tackles the details of the deepening crisis in a comprehensive interview with al-Ahed News.

      Al-Aswad argues that the main reason for the crisis is the authorities’ lack of awareness regarding the unmet demands of the people, who want to be part of the political and economic decision-making process.

      Meanwhile, the ongoing imprisonment of Al-Wefaq’s Secretary General Sheikh Ali Salman, remains a key focus for the opposition group. Al-Aswad claims that Al-Wefaq has options that might help close this file.

      Regarding Manama’s normalization with “Israel”, Al-Aswad offers assurances that the move won’t be embraced in Bahrain, as the people completely reject the idea of occupation.

      Below is the full text of Al-Aswad’s interview:

      * Can the opposition abroad relate to the concerns of the citizens at home?

      The opposition abroad has become a fait accompli. After Al-Wefaq was dissolved in Bahrain, it had to work abroad. We started working in London in 2011, and this has continued in many Arab capitals, Europe, and America. All the efforts made by the opposition, whether political or in the field of human rights, are in the interest of our people at home, and we are their voice after they had their voices stifled.

      * In light of the growing tyranny: suppressing opposition voices and imprisoning their leaders, citizenship revocations, rising unemployment and the hiring of foreigners, and normalization, how will reform be achieved? How is the regime responding to the demands of the people?

      I do not think that the authorities in Bahrain are aware of the nature of these demands. They believe that these demands are directed against the survival of the ruling family, while the people of Bahrain see that they are in the interest and future of the country. There is a misunderstanding between the two sides. There is concern on the part of the ruling family that if these demands were fulfilled, their existence will weaken or disappear. The main idea of these demands is for us to be partners in the homeland.

      * The opposition today is completely absent from the political and economic decision-making process. Is its presence, at the very least, in the legislative authority necessary, or should it remain outside this system?

      The presence of the opposition in the legislative authority without any political project or any dialogue or settlements does not serve the political process. Rather, it will be a sham or a silent role, as is the case with the current parliament or the Shura Council.

      * The budget deficit in Bahrain is substantial, and there is constant talk of corruption and unconvincing state revenues. To what extent can we say that the regime is corrupt? What is the extent of this corruption?

      The public debt is 15 billion dinars [$40 billion], which is too huge for oil imports or revenues. A country that depends mainly on more than 80% on oil cannot achieve sustainable development or a free and fair economy without transparency. The stealing is ongoing and being done in one way or another. The money is going to influential figures in the state. The issue of the stolen lands that the opposition talked about in the 2006 parliament remains unresolved and the lands have not been returned to their owners. All the state property mentioned in the famous report in parliament has not been recovered. Rather, there are more lands that are being seized by those in power. The country’s resources are also being taken and the Bahraini environment is being destroyed, without any deterrent to these actions. The presence of a strong parliament and an effective opposition on the ground may open such files.

      * On the opposite side of deficit, we often hear about percentages of non-oil revenues. For example, the growth rate of the non-oil economy reached 2.8%. Are these numbers really correct?

      Non-oil growth does not depend on taxes imposed by the state on citizens, but the Bahraini regime calculates this growth from tax revenues on citizens. There is no clear economic plan in Bahrain that pushes the wheel of development forward and increases the rate of growth that can only be achieved in a fair and free economy, in parallel with transparency, accountability, political stability, and human rights that make this country a haven for investors. This increases the internal growth rates. There is no external money being pumped into the country now. Bahrain depends on oil money and aid. We have not heard of any major investors who brought billions to Bahrain for a number of reasons, the most important of which is the political instability and the country’s exposure to many shocks. Not achieving this is in the interest of the authorities in terms of obtaining Gulf aid without any trouble, aid for armaments, and others relating to the royal court. Everything is under the pretext that we are exposed to dangers from neighboring countries.

      * Does Al-Wefaq affect in some way the decisions taken by the authorities?

      We have no doubts about this. There is a very clear effect of Al-Wefaq. Even if the association, registered and licensed by the Ministry of Justice, was absent, the authorities know that the majority of the Bahraini people who voted in the 2006 and 2011 elections are from Al-Wefaq.

      Even at the present stage, if Al-Wefaq is not represented in Parliament, it has wide support that has influence on the ground, whether it rejects the state’s internal or external policies.

      * After the former Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim’s statement regarding the issue of Al-Wefaq’s Secretary General Sheikh Ali Salman, did you sense any intention to move this file and free His Eminence?

      We are trying to get Sheikh Ali out of prison. The case is malicious, and it is being proven everyday through the emergence of new evidence, the latest of which is the statement of the former Qatari foreign minister. He confirmed that what he discussed with Al-Wefaq’s Secretary General on the phone was done in the presence of the King. This is the most important point on which the authorities relied to say that Sheikh Salman and the two deputies, Sheikh Hassan Sultan and Ali Al-Aswad, were plotting against the authorities. The accusation has been discredited. From the beginning, it was not true. It was an idea within a Gulf initiative announced by Al-Wefaq and international and Gulf parties concerned with this matter at the request of Saudi Arabia.

      Al-Wefaq welcomes any international or local effort, and it has been working since the announcement of the last interview in order to find correct, legal and political ways to help solve this file and close it.

      * In your opinion, does the recent request of US President Joe Biden from the State Department to provide a report on political detainees in Bahrain have a serious impact in your opinion?

      The media influence is perhaps stronger. There is a request from the US administration. We want more action than what the US administration, which is selling weapons to Bahrain at the same time, is saying.

      It stopped punishing the Bahraini authorities for their human rights violations by allowing an arms deal recently! Bahrain does not need that. Perhaps the authorities are doing this as a price to buy America’s silence about the dire political and legal reality.

      * Here, we are asking about the goal of Manama’s permanent armament, sometimes through “Israeli” military systems and sometimes through American launchers?

      There are no military benefits to Bahrain. The United States views the Gulf states as a market for selling weapons, and this is what former US President Donald Trump said in his talk about Bahrain’s abundant money.

      * What about the recent positions of the great national authority, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassem, and him stressing on the importance of the opposition’s unity and the Islamic mentality’s rejection of the ongoing normalization? According to your assessment, is there a plan to breach the opposition’s ranks?

      The opposition really needs to organize its relations, and I think it is capable of that. The division is not in its favor, and it is now in a much better situation than before. The demand Al-Wefaq and Waad are calling for is constitutional monarchy, while the unregistered political organizations are calling for other demands.

      There are those who are talking about overthrowing the regime, about a republic, and other options. Some see them as unrealistic demands that cannot mature or be correct. It is the right of all the people to think about the form of the system, but we are talking about realistic matters. Bahrain, as a constitutional monarchy from the Al-Wefaq perspective, can serve as a successful model.

      For us, implementing a constitutional monarchy is possible, but for the authority, it takes from its powers. The models that were promoted after the National Action Charter were European and far from logical. Perhaps, the authorities wanted to say we have a constitutional monarchy with an authoritarian regime above it. This problem that we objected to. We have repeatedly called for an amendment that would allow the people of Bahrain to implement the real articles of the constitution and that the people are the source of the authorities. This is what Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassem is talking about. As for the idea of splitting the ranks, there is no doubt that the authorities are trying to do so.

      The real people of Bahrain have had a worry throughout history that the authorities are buying time and wasting it without any results. This is why we find different and high ceilings. Accordingly, we say that the opportunity for the authorities today is better than tomorrow to achieve the demand for a constitutional monarchy.

      * The last attempt by the regime, at least in the media, was the meeting that brought together His Eminence Sayyed Abdullah Al-Ghuraifi with King Hamad bin Isa. Can we say that the political dialogue is completely frozen?

      Undoubtedly, a number of local files and issues were discussed during this meeting. His Eminence Sayyed Abdullah Al-Ghuraifi’s desire for the authority to solve local political and humanitarian issues was very clear, but we did not see any positive development after the meeting or any initiatives to resolve the political crisis or even the human rights file.

      * Will the upcoming parliamentary and municipal elections in October be a formalism or is it possible for Al-Wefaq to support candidates in some way?

      Elections in the presence of a political isolation law do not mean anything. This law prevents associations that were dissolved by the authorities after the 2011 movement, such as Amal, Waad, and Al-Wefaq, from taking part. When the opposition is not represented in Parliament, the latter will be a formality. There is no opposition in the current parliament. It is completely silent and agrees with everything the authority is doing. It was unable to open a basic file after the Manama authorities decided to normalize with the Zionist entity. The Bahraini parliament was not allowed to speak as the “Israeli” Knesset did. Bahrain, basically, did not endorse the Abraham Accords through the councils. Rather, the authority made the decision unilaterally and warned those who would talk about the matter by questioning them. It limited the matter to the state and its higher authorities. The authority did not even allow any member of Parliament to wear anything that symbolizes Palestine or reminds people of the cause. It even took the initiative two days ago to condemn the heroic Tel Aviv operation, ignoring the right of the Palestinian people and all the violations they are subjected to.

      * How does normalization affect the daily lives of Bahrainis?

      Normalization did not enter any Bahraini home. The people completely reject the idea of normalization and the existence of the occupation. They cannot stand talking about “Israel”. They take part in night rallies that have consistently rejected the authority’s projects since the first Manama conference in 2019, which was a prelude to the normalization project. Normalization is clear between the authorities and the occupation. Bahrainis, Sunnis and Shiites, will not agree to normalization, and if there is an opportunity to express their opinion today, even if the demonstrations are unauthorized, they will be widely expressed. The people of Bahrain have been reviving the International Quds Day every year on the last Friday of the month of Ramadan, and they continue to mark it. We call on the people of the country to commemorate this great occasion that honors and expresses their mentality rejecting this Zionist occupation.

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