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.

Palestinians Condemn ‘Summit of Shame’ Held in Israel

March 28, 2022

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined a meeting in the Naqab region, along with foreign ministers from Israel, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco and the UAE. (Photo: via Blinken Twitter page)

The High Follow-up Committee of the National Islamic Factions condemned on Sunday the “normalization summit” that brought the foreign ministers of Israel and Arab states together in the Naqab, the Middle East Monitor reported.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Sameh Shoukry of Egypt, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed of the UAE, Abdullatif Al-Zayani of Bahrain and Nasser Bourita of Morocco were joined at the meeting by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Speaking at a press conference in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian political groups described the summit as “the summit of shame in the occupied Naqab” and a “stab in the back” of the Palestinian people, who have been enduring “savage” Israeli attacks for more than seven decades.

The “summit of shame,” they added, was Israeli “exploitation” of the Arab states and their resources under the pretext of protection and forging a common security alliance.

“The real threat to the Arab people is the Zionist occupation,” Palestinian groups insisted. The summit, they said, was aimed at marketing the formation of an Arab-Zionist alliance as an extension to NATO.

The Palestinian factions concluded that the security, military and economic deals between Israel and the Arab states “will collapse due to the continuous Palestinian insistence on their rights and legitimate resistance against the Israeli occupation.”

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

‘No to Normalization’: Jordanian, Algerian Coaches Pull Out of Bahrain Sports Event

March 20, 2022

Jordanian and Algerian kickboxing coaches pulled out of an international seminar in Bahrain due to Israeli participation. (Photo: via Social Media)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

Jordanian kickboxing coaches Mohammed Saud and Ibrahim Saraqma pulled out of the ‘Development Seminar and Coaching Workshop’, underway in Bahrain, due to the Israeli participation in the event, Al Jazeera and other Arabic-speaking media reported on Saturday.  

Saraqma, the Algerian coach for ‘full contact’ and kickboxing, communicated his decision through a Facebook post. 

“I declare my decision to pull out from the international tournament for trainers underway in Bahrain because of the presence of a delegation from the Zionist entity with us in the room,” he wrote in reference to the Israeli delegation. 

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fbrahim.tunsi.7%2Fposts%2F10228002412315804&show_text=true&width=500

Saraqma added, “No to normalization.” 

The Jordanian civil society organization “Itharak” – meaning “move” – which fights normalization between Jordan and Israel, commended the Jordanian coach Saud for his decision to boycott the event, tweeting: 

“Coach Mohammed Saud is a new Arab champion whose name is added to the list of honorable Arab athletes who have taken such honorable stance in international platforms in solidarity with Palestine and in rejection of normalization with the (Israeli) occupation. Thank you coach Mohammed.” 

These boycotts are not the first rejection of normalization with Israel. Prominent examples include decisions by Algerian and Sudanese judokas – Fethi Nourine and Mohamed Abdalrasool – to reject sparring with Israeli athletes during the Japan Olympics in July 2021.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

In snub to Washington, UAE reaches out to Russia

Washington’s geopolitical cards are dwindling rapidly. The high-level UAE visit to Moscow this week has consolidated OPEC+ support for Russia in the energy war now raging between east and west.

March 18 2022

The UAE is the fourth West Asian state to have travelled to Moscow in the past week to strike agreements unfavorable to Washington.Photo Credit: The Cradle

By MK Bhadrakumar

Four top foreign minster level diplomats from Qatar, Iran, Turkey and the UAE travelled to Moscow this week, in as many days, in an impressive display of strategic realignment by regional states against the backdrop of the US-Russia conflict unfolding over Ukraine.

The arrival in Moscow of the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan on Thursday is the most striking. This is happening within a fortnight of the country’s inclusion on 4 March in the Grey List of the global financial crime watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), due to alleged financial crimes. The FATF recommendations for the UAE include:

  • Implementing a more robust system to collect case studies and statistics used in money laundering (ML) investigations;
  • Demonstrating a sustained increase in effective investigations and prosecutions of different types of ML cases;
  • Probing increase in the number and quality of suspicious transaction reports filed by financial institutions and other entities; and,
  • Monitoring high-risk ML threats, such as proceeds of foreign predicate offences, trade-based ML, and third-party laundering.

The FATF is one of those tools of torture that the west has finessed in the international system to humiliate and punish developing countries whom it wants to teach a lesson or two. A cursory look at the countries figuring in the 22-member Grey List would reveal that the UAE shouldn’t really belong there — Albania, Burkina Faso, Haiti, South Sudan, Uganda, Yemen and so on.

But the west’s calculation is that the economy of a country gets affected in a negative manner when it figures on the Grey List — with international financial institutions starting to look at it as a risky nation for investment, which in UAE’s case also renders a lethal blow to its flourishing tourism industry.

Indeed, this happened under the watch of an American, Vincent Schmoll, who is holding interim charge as the acting FATF executive secretary since January. Schmoll used to be a functionary at the US Treasury. Conceivably, Washington’s writ runs large in this episode.

US-UAE relations have been experiencing some tumult during the past year. The trouble began soon after President Donald Trump’s departure from the White House. In January 2021, on Trump’s last full day in office, Abu Dhabi had signed a $23 billion agreement to buy 50 F-35 fighter jets, 18 Reaper drones, and other advanced munitions, but incoming President Joe Biden froze the deal as soon as he entered the Oval Office.

A number of factors might have influenced the Biden administration’s calculations, apart from the fact that the lucrative F-35 deal was a Trump legacy. As it transpired, in a delaying tactic, Washington began voicing serious concerns about the UAE-China relationship and the particularly strong economic ties developing between Abu Dhabi and Beijing. Notably, Washington wanted the UAE to put an end to a 5G contract with Chinese tech giant Huawei, which is the undisputed global leader in next-generation 5G technology.

Meanwhile, in addition to the Huawei issue, US intelligence agencies claimed to have discovered that Beijing was building what they thought to be a secret military facility at the Khalifa port in the UAE.

Emirati officials denied the allegation, but under pressure from Washington, were forced to halt the project, although the Persian Gulf states in general, and the UAE in particular, do not like being pushed to take sides between Washington and Beijing. They consider that their best interest lies in maintaining neutrality and balancing relations.

The end result, as everyone knows, was that much to the annoyance of Washington, Abu Dhabi finally hit back by opting for 80 Rafale combat aircraft from France in a deal worth over $20 billion last December.

Then came the bombshell in February with the sensational disclosure that the UAE has plans to order 12 L-15 light attack planes from China, with the option of purchasing 36 more. A UAE defence ministry statement said the purchase is part of the country’s efforts to diversify weapon suppliers. As an aside, the UAE air force operates mainly American-made F-16 and French-made Mirage fighters.

Only a week later, all hell broke loose when the UAE resisted American pressure and abstained (twice) on US-led Ukraine-related UN Security Council resolutions condemning Russia. Subsequent reports said that the Biden administration conveyed its displeasure to Abu Dhabi.

Soon after that, according to a Wall Street Journal report last week, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan failed to take a call from Biden who apparently wanted to discuss the US expectation that the UAE would pump more oil into the market to bring down skyrocketing prices.

Yet another complicating factor is that the Biden administration blundered into the intra-Gulf rivalries by designating Qatar as a ‘Major Non-NATO Ally’ (MNNA). On 31 January, Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani became the first Persian Gulf leader to meet with Biden in the White House and media accounts of the visit highlighted a $20 billion deal for Boeing 777X freighter aircraft. Additionally, the emir met with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and discussed weapons sales.

Given this backdrop, Foreign Minister Abdullah Al-Nahyan’s arrival in Moscow couldn’t have been any less dramatic. The Russian side has divulged few details about the visit. The big question is whether any arms deal was been discussed.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made a statement that the talks covered “a wide range of issues related to our bilateral relations and international agenda. For obvious reasons, we paid a great deal of attention to the Ukrainian developments. We spoke in detail about the goals and objectives of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine to protect people from the Kiev regime, and to demilitarize and de-Nazify this country.”

The UAE foreign minister reportedly told Lavrov that his country aimed at further systematic development of relations with Russia and diversification of the areas of bilateral cooperation. In what was possibly an indirect swipe at the US sanctions aimed at isolating Russia from the world economy, Al-Nahyan said:

“It is always important for us to keep our finger on the pulse and make sure that relations between Russia and the UAE move forward. There is no doubt that we are aimed at the systematic development of these relations and the diversification of the areas of bilateral cooperation so that it meets the interests of both our citizens and state institutions and other structures.”

He stressed that the parties should strengthen cooperation on energy and food security. Clearly, the US cannot count on the support of the Persian Gulf region in its campaign to isolate Russia or to dismantle OPEC+ – an increasingly influential body consisting of the 13 OPEC members plus ten non-OPEC oil exporters, which is chaired by the largest producers Russia and Saudi Arabia. The Gulf countries are, one by one, seeking out Russia to signal their solidarity and register their own desire to shake off US hegemony.

Interestingly, last Tuesday, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa had called Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss “topical issues of Russia‒Bahrain cooperation in politics, trade and the economy… (and) expressed the shared intention to further develop the friendly ties between Russia and Bahrain.” This, despite the fact that the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet and the US Naval Forces Central Command are based in Bahrain.

Such display of solidarity by the ‘non-western international community’ brings some vital nuance to the global geopolitical chessboard: for one, it makes a mockery of the western sanctions against Russia. The Gulf countries are avid ‘globalizers’ and trading nations — Dubai, in particular. As time passes, western companies are sure to find ingenious ways to trade with Russia via resourceful intermediaries in the Gulf region.

Abdullah Al-Nahyan’s trip to Moscow is a demonstrative act of defiance, both symbolically and strategically. It is a mark of the Persian Gulf region’s growing alienation from Washington. Reports suggest that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who travelled to both the UAE and Saudi Arabia this week to press for increased oil production to lower oil prices, also came back empty-handed.

Contrary to Washington’s hopes, there is every likelihood that the OPEC+ will continue to strengthen its strategic autonomy vis-a-vis the US. Previously, Russia used to be a voice of moderation within the group. This will have profound implications for the world oil market.

The high attention Russian diplomacy paid to the West Asian region in the recent decade is returning dividends, for sure. Russia offered its Persian Gulf interlocutors something they never experienced before with a great power – an equal partnership based on mutual respect.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

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Protests in Bahrain against Saudi executions

March 17, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Al Mayadeen Net 

Peaceful popular protests continue in Bahrain after dozens were executed days ago in Saudi Arabia, and amid the continued arrest of Bahraini citizens.

Saudi Arabia executed 81 people on Saturday, sparking the protests in Bahrain

Peaceful popular protests continue in Bahrain in condemnation of the mass execution that took place in Saudi Arabia last week, and in support of political prisoners in Bahrain.

Bahrainis took to the streets, carrying photos of martyrs and detainees along with photos of opposition leaders, and chanting against the Saudi and Bahraini regimes.

Saudi authorities executed 81 Saudi nationals and residents it claimed were involved in “terrorist activities” inside the kingdom.

The Saudi Press Agency reported the mass execution and said that seven Yemenis and one Syrian were among those executed on “terrorism-related charges”, whereas Saudi opposition media said local authorities executed 40 detainees from the Al-Qatif region at once.

The executions resulted in a slew of condemnations, the most important of which was from the United Nations, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who said that these executions may amount to war crimes.

The West and Hypocrisy: I Wish I Had the Bluest Eyes!

March 17, 2022

By Fatima Haydar

To begin with, not a single person deserves to go through the horrible atrocities of war, regardless of their nationality, race and religion. My heart goes out to all the people in Ukraine – as it does first and foremost to the persevering people in Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia – hoping they would find safety and security.

Beirut – The conflict in Ukraine has been the talk of the town, with masses and politicians in the west showing their undivided support to the people in Ukraine. Statements of solidarity from western leaders outpoured. But what catches one’s attention is the hypocritical way the conflict has been dealt with.

Since day one of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Western media hypocrisy has been the bone of contention. Three weeks have passed since the conflict began, and corporate western media has relentlessly continued its double-standard coverage of the events.

The hypocrisy of the media coverage of the Ukrainian conflict is so obvious that many news outlets have written on the matter over the past weeks, highlighting that to the West, having blue eyes and blond hair is the criteria by which victims of conflicts are worthy of the international community’s sympathy. 

As the conflict prolongs, the dark and ugly side of western media unfolds and the aforementioned criteria solidifies the notion that our looks and economic factors play a role in determining whether the war is somehow normal and expected in areas of the world and not in others; that: it’s ok when non-blue-eyed people get killed!

A quick search on the definition of HYPOCRISY discloses that it is “the practice of engaging in the same behavior or activity for which one criticizes another or the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform.”

To put it in clearer and simpler words, hypocrisy is when western media wants the world to treat the situation in Ukraine “equally” to the way other conflicts are being treated, when “western democracies” themselves don’t.

Let’s take the refugee crisis as an example. The West wanted the world to welcome with open arms the refugees from Ukraine and denounce what it called a “Russian invasion”, while it launched a calumnious attack on the Indian government over the Citizenship Amendment Act [CAA] and the riots, deported African migrants from its shores in Italy and Spain, and turned away Syrian refugees from its borders in Poland and Denmark; regardless of the fact that it turned a blind eye on the wars backed or waged by the United States and its allies in every corner of the globe.

And the list goes on.

Recently, in a small multireligious Middle Eastern country on the Mediterranean Sea called Lebanon, a Lebanese woman has been targeted by US sanctions. Mrs. Abir Khalil, mother of martyr Mohammad Tamer who was gunned down during last October’s massacre in the Tayouneh neighborhood of Beirut, says she has been banned from social media, including Whatsapp, and her travel and tourism company has been sanctioned.

The West and Hypocrisy: I Wish I Had the Bluest Eyes!
Mrs. Abir Khalil and her son martyr Mohammad Tamer

Mrs. Khalil explained that she was first blocked from using her and her martyred son’s Facebook pages, until they banned the pages and now both pages do not exist.

Regarding her business, she can no longer send or receive money to and from her customers via Western Union. Afterwards, she used her daughters name in her business’ monetary transactions, but after a couple of money transfers, they were banned again.

Mrs. Khalil says that on February 25, she was banned from using Whatsapp for violating the Terms of Service over allegations of violence and terrorism. “The funny thing is,” she says, “I just use the application to post pictures of martyr Mohammad. I’m not waging a war or anything and I don’t post pictures of weapons!”

As she details the incidents, she sheds light on the hypocrisy of western media coverage of the double-standard measures by “western democracies” headed by the US.

“This weakness and cowardness of the US government… they are intimidated by the simplest word we write, picture we post or voice we utter that they attempt to silence us by silencing these, but they will not be able to silence the word of God in us! We will be stronger than ever and nothing will stop us from striving,” she explains.

Regarding the US sanctions, Mrs. Khalil says, “Those who have sacrificed their most precious for the sake of this path, will not yield to trivial sanctions.”

What is worth mentioning is that martyr Mohammad Tamer was a civilian and is not a member of the Lebanese Resistance movement Hezbollah, and yet his mother has been targeted by US sanctions just because she “persists on proving the injustice against the fallen martyrs”.

Here the hypocrisy is two-folded; double-standard on the part of the US which claims to be a “western democracy” and the other by western media that claims to report news objectively.

First, the US did not practice what it preached. In the US constitution, people are protected by The First Amendment which guarantees the right to free expression and free association, which means that the government does not have the right to forbid anyone from saying what they like and writing what they like. Under the constitution, people can form clubs and organizations, and take part in demonstrations and rallies.

This is hypocrisy in action! So, it is OK for Americans to express themselves freely, but it’s not OK for other nationals to do so!

Where is the media coverage on this? Why aren’t more people talking about it?

Mrs. Khalil’s story has not been mentioned, neither was the actual incidents of the martyrdom of her son. And if the incident was spoken about, then it was manipulated to suit the interests of the west.

The western world seems to care the most when the country suffering is full of white people, because it only matters when those suffering are Europeans.

This war has highlighted the hypocrisy and the double-standards of the West where suffering does not warrant empathy but skin color and interests do.

E-Normalization Mode On: ‘Israeli’ Eyes On New Saudi Data Cables in Red Sea

March 5, 2022

By Staff

Under the clear waters of the Red Sea, a high-speed data cable is being laid that will connect—for the first time— the ‘Israeli’ occupation entity to Saudi Arabia, according to a report published on Saturday by The Economist.

The measure, which the Zionist enemy eyes as an introduction to normalizing ties with the Riyadh regime, was described by the paper as knitting together a new regional alliance between ‘Israel’ and countries in the Gulf.

“The new link, which is part of two longer submarine cables running all the way from France to India, promises not only to improve the speed and lower the cost at which information can whizz between Europe and Asia.”

The paper claimed that this “step would break the Egyptian monopoly of Internet traffic in the region.”

The Economist further added that the new data pipeline, which is being built by Google and Telecom Italia, an Italian telecommunications firm, is due to be finished in 2024.

The Zionist regime believes that the new cable, named Blue-Raman, is far more than the sum of its 16 pairs of fiber-optic strands. The Tel Aviv regime hopes that it also represents a diplomatic thaw in the region.

The newspaper cited a Zionist official as saying: “For over seven decades all the Middle East’s trade routes and communications networks bypassed ‘Israel’. For the first time since ‘Israel’s’ establishment, we’re becoming part of a regional infrastructure.”

This route consists of two separate cables, one ending in the Jordanian port of Aqaba, the other starting in the nearby ‘Israeli’-occupied city of Eilat. In reality, it will be a single pipeline, built with the support of both sides.

Although the Saudis have not commented yet on the report, they want to use the cable to plug in NEOM, a planned high-technology city.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman [MBS] has been quietly pushing the kingdom towards closer ties with the Zionist regime. In a recently published interview with The Atlantic, MBS said his country doesn’t eye ‘Israel’ as an enemy, but as a possible ally.

It is also worth noting the Saudi Arabia has recently allowed direct flights between the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and the Zionist entity to pass through its airspace.

The Saudis have also given their blessing to their neighbors in the Gulf to improve their own relationships with the ‘Israeli’ occupiers.

A battle for existence: How normalization endangers Arab heritage

21 Feb 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Lea Akil 

Normalization has many strings attached, one of which is the theft and looting of Arab heritage. How does the latter nourish the normalization process?

A battle for existence: How normalization endangers Arab heritage.

Over the years, we’ve heard the term ‘normalization’ used several times as numerous Arab states signed agreements with the occupying Israeli state. There are several questions that one can’t help but raise about normalization, Arabs, and “Israel”. What is the definition of normalization? What impact does it have on the region? What, above all, can the Zionist party gain from normalization? This treacherous agreement, signed with the blood of innocent Palestinians, is a gateway to a variety of routes, one of which is the theft of Arab heritage.
 
The boycott and rejection of normalization in our Arab countries have a long history, dating back to the early twentieth century when national, patriotic forces pushed for it in the face of colonial occupation. But the walls of boycott walls broke down as Arab states consecutively began normalizing ties with the enemy.
 
Having said that, the strategy of implementing normalization is predominantly controlled by American and European parties in conjunction with the Zionist political levels, with no mention of its cultural and religious levels, implying that the plan’s target audience is the Palestinian and Arab population. Through objective academic research systems and curricula apart from politics, the project developed an infiltration strategy to target the centers of Arab cultural immunity, which are represented by religious, cultural, and media institutions. 
 
The Zionist entity is primarily concerned with political and economic normalization, with a secondary interest in cultural normalization, in the sense that they refuse to acquire Arab culture, but at the same time aim to impose theirs. Their goal is to build a steady Western presence in the Middle East and refuse to open up to the Arab-Islamic culture of the region. However, cultural normalization is a tool utilized to encourage the Arabs to break down barriers, which paves the way for the theft of the Arab heritage.

A future away from the past

The Zionists and their allies want to eradicate the “state of perplexity” that has developed in the Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim mindset about “Israel”, so that hatred turns paradoxical.

Through normalization, they intend to wash out the depths of culture and civilization, instilling twisted and dismembered truths and creating a fait accompli. They also try to discredit the realities that have formed the bedrock of Islamic culture and Arab nationalism for decades.
 
Because the dispute is entrenched in people’s knowledge, culture, collective memory, and national conscience, cultural normalization will be the determining factor in the long run. Without developing communication and cultural normalizing bridges, it’s difficult to penetrate historical, religious, and cultural normalization.
 
Hence, Zionist calls to accelerate cultural normalization with the Arab world constitute today’s greatest “challenge”, not only to the Arab and Islamic thought, but also to the Arab-Islamic conscience, values, and heritage.

Policy of penetration

A strategy adopted by the US government and Zionists exerts effort in the Arab and Islamic region to besiege the cultural environment hostile to the aforementioned entities and to eliminate any source of rejection and resistance, regardless of whether they come from the Holy Quran, Islamic heritage, or any form of Arab heritage. That said, the process of politicizing art, culture, and thought through regional or international festivals, which include the Zionist entity, is essential to them.
 
International festivals such as film, theater, poetry, sports, and literature cram any opportunity for communication between Zionists, Arabs, and Palestinians into the activities of the festivals and punish any party that boycotts so, also denying states against normalization the right to host these international festivals. 
 
Moreover, the Zionists can apply the policy of penetration by adopting a cordoning off policy to prevent anti-normalization groups from reaching media outlets and deprive them of international funding prospects, using the private and foreign media to promote normalization programs, suppress counter-media outlets, and influence attitudes toward symbols and ideals through indirect psychological influence, not to mention including the youth and women’s sectors as a target by using the presence of creative and cultural elites in order to normalize a reluctant or neutral discourse.

Why steal the Arab heritage?

The Jews faced a civilization shock and cultural crises at the beginning of their migration to the Palestinian territories, where they found a deep gap between reality and the dreams that the Zionist leaders planted in their minds. They had convinced them of the comfortable life that they would live in the “land of the fathers and grandfathers,” according to their claim.
 
The Land of “Israel” Research Association, which was created by the Zionist movement, was built after occupation forces seized the Palestinian National Museum in 1967, changed its name, and stole over a million pieces of Palestinian antiquities, claiming ownership and fabricating a false history for themselves, marking the beginning of heritage looting and cultural cleansing. 

Earlier in history, in order to legitimize their so-called “state”, the occupied lands witnessed a flow of Jewish immigrants flocking to the region, Zionists looting Arab heritage, and now normalization agreements that attempt to give the occupation an “organic placement” in the region – how else would the occupation continue to stand? 

Heritage looting

The Zionist enemy’s insistence on normalization, particularly in the cultural field, stems from its recognition that this field is qualified and capable of polluting the Arab thought and heritage, injecting distorted concepts and perceptions of its values, principles, and “national character,” among other things.

The sword of history

One way the Zionists chose to penetrate the Arab heritage is through literature and education. Why you might ask. How can literature and education help the Zionist project through normalization? Simple, what better way to normalize its presence other than rewriting history and leaving out any anti-Zionist teachings? 
 
In 1948, after the Israeli occupation used coercion to capture Palestinian lands, claiming that it had a historical and religious right to the territory, it made up several claims and evidence to justify its claim, but history has always exposed the Israeli falsehoods and deception. As such, re-writing history in Arab books is a weapon for the Zionist entity. 
 
The Arab world’s history can be re-written by falsifying various historical facts and axioms relating to the colonial settlement strategy that forced the Zionist entity into the Arab world, where the Israeli entity was founded.
 
Since most Arab schools include an anti-Zionist curriculum, which teaches students about the occupation of Palestine and the Zionist ideology, another way to penetrate the Arab world and influence its heritage is by abandoning anti-Zionist literature, documents, and writings, including those found in some holy books such as the Holy Quran. As one of the most important features of the structural elements of the Arab mentality, “Israel’s” scientific efforts to monitor, document, and analyze Islamic beliefs that impact the battle with Zionism are one of the most prominent aspects of Arab thought. 
 
Through the normalization agreements, the Zionist campaign was able to become a scientific reference for the entire region through universities and research centers that lay down the groundwork for the Zionist project, which aims to destroy the cultural and civilizational identity of the entire Arab region.

Emirati-Israeli joint agreement 

After the United Arab Emirates normalized ties with “Israel” in 2020, along with Bahrain, the Emirates signed a joint educational agreement with “Israel”. The memorandum aims to facilitate “cultural exchanges” between Emirati and Israeli students in general, as well as higher, technical, and vocational education. Cooperating in education is a strong Zionist tool to eliminate anti-Zionist education.
 
Furthermore, some Emirati textbooks are starting to include lessons that promote co-existence. The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) has released research that looked at 220 Arabic-language textbooks from the UAE’s national curriculum that were printed between 2016 and 2021. Peacemaking was “by far” the top priority discussed in the textbooks reviewed, according to IMPACT-se.

According to the study, the books “promote patriotism, anti-radicalism, devotion to defending the homeland, and cooperating with friends,” as well as “provide a realistic approach to peace and security.”

Morrocan-Israeli joint agreement 

Additionally, after Morocco signed the normalization agreement with “Israel”, both parties also signed a joint agreement to “honor the Jewish past in Morocco,” which includes the teaching of Moroccan “Jewish heritage” in several schools. 

A newspaper said this agreement is not only a dedication to honor the Jewish past in Morocco but also to ironically create a future of “harmony and tolerance for all future generations.”

“A $1.5 million center dedicated to Jewish culture has been built in Essaouira, and now with the signing of this special Memorandum of Understanding agreement, a future of harmony and tolerance can be created for all future generations!” said Deputy US State Department envoy, Special Envoy to Combat Anti-Semitism, Elie Cohanim. 

Israeli National Library 

In 2012, the European Union financed a digitizing project for several rare Arabic books and manuscripts at the Zionist Library. In view of recent political changes in the region, the dangers of these scientific and research programs have increased. New normalization agreements between the Zionist entity and several Arab and Islamic countries are frequently followed by cultural, heritage, and scientific research understandings and cooperation.
 
That is how the Arabic-speaking Israeli library has become one of the Israeli occupation government’s most effective tools for reaching out to the Arab community in their mother tongue.
 
However, it goes without saying that the library is made from books looted by the Israeli government during the Palestinian Nakba. Tens of thousands of books were stolen from Palestinian homes under the supervision of the Israeli army and custodians of the Israeli National Library. In fact, the Nakba was considered a period that culturally destroyed Palestine, being the first attempt at heritage looting. 
 
It is worth noting that, according to United Nations conventions, trafficking in cultural heritage is prohibited, and cultural heritage treasures, whatever they might be, should be returned to their home country if they were smuggled.

Colonizing the Arab kitchen

Heritage looting doesn’t stop at literature, history, and education; it also includes the Arab taste and cuisines. Before the Nakba, there was no such thing as an “Israeli Cuisine”, so the occupation chose not only to occupy the Palestinian lands but also to steal their cuisine and many other Arab cuisines in order to enrich their so-called culture, which, in return, could legitimize them before the international community. 
 
In 2016, the Israeli airline El Al Airlines published a tweet, which sparked a lot of controversies and drew attention to “Israel’s” theft of Arab popular food and attributing it to itself. The tweet was: “What Israeli food do you like most: Hummus, Falafel, Shakshuka or Shawarma Rolls?” Needless to mention that all these are traditional Arab dishes. 

In fact, falafel comes from the Egyptian kitchen, hummus (chickpeas) is a part of the Lebanese cuisine, shakshuka is Palestinian, and shawarma originates from Syria. Arabs, on their part, assert that Israeli adoption of their food is a part of a broader effort to minimize, if not erase, the Arab national identity.
 
Falsifying the connection of Arab cuisines to Israeli history is a political step by the occupation entity to send a brotherly message to the Arab region, which it aims to completely normalize ties with. 

Read more: Dubai Expo; A Journey to What Future?

In one instance, Dubai TV hosted an Israeli chef to “talk about the Israeli cuisine” in a segment to explore the global cuisines of countries represented at Expo 2020, which is now taking place in Dubai. After normalizing with “Israel”, the UAE is now nourishing “Israel’s” heritage looting that “Israel” itself has been practicing for years. 
 
The show sparked a wave of anger on social media for being complicit with the Israeli narrative and promoting parts of the Palestinian and Arab culture as Israeli, denying them ownership of prominent parts of their heritage, culture, and history. 

Colonizing arts

“Israel” is considered stagnant in the field of arts, with no historical and cultural background whatsoever. That is why the occupation chose to loot many Arabic, specifically Egyptian, songs by turning them into Hebrew.
 
Some songs were taken from famous singers such as Abdel Halim Hafez, Ahmed Adawiya, Umm Khulthum, Lebanese singer Fairouz, and some modern singers such as Lebanese singer Elissa. The stolen melodies give the Israeli music a sense of belonging to the region, which pushes its normalization further into the region. 

On the other hand, for the first time last year, Miss Universe contestants from the UAE took part in the pageant, and Morocco took part for the first time in 40 years, after the ratification of normalization agreements between their country and “Israel”. 
 
The 70th Miss Universe pageant took place in occupied Palestine at the occupied city of Eilat (Um Al-Rashrash). The announcement sparked a wave of calls for a boycott of the competition’s location.
 
In light of the string of regional normalization agreements, the Israeli strategy has become focused on lending itself a sense of “organic placement” within the region through rapid ill-devised policies of faux-cultural and diplomatic rapprochements.

Read more: Bloody Crystals: An Israeli Attempt to Hide the Corpses

Diarna; cultural cleansing 

Diarna (Our Homes) is a non-profit organization based in the United States, founded in 2008 by the Executive Director of the American Sephardic Federation, Jason Guberman, which allegedly aims at “preserving the Jewish heritage in the Arab countries,” but a deeper look into its activities reveals an insidious agenda.

In 2010, Diarna began using the latest 3D digital mapping techniques, along with traditional studies and oral interviews, to document more than 2,500 alleged Jewish sites in the Middle East and North Africa, including Morocco, Iraq, Algeria, Yemen, Tunisia, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.

On the other hand, one of the undeclared goals of this organization is claiming these sites as their own. Hence, attempting to steal parts of Arab heritage. 

After the string of normalization agreements, “Israel” could be waiting for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to normalize relations next. If so, how does that feed the Zionist project in the region? 

By following the organization’s plans and its relations with the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, Muhammad bin Abdul Karim bin Abdulaziz al-Issa, we can easily realize that there is a special focus on certain regions in Saudi Arabia.

According to the leaked maps, the project targets the Tiran Island, in addition to the Jabal Tiran and Wadi Al-Yahud project in Khaybar, the Samwal Palace in Tayma, and Al-Baqi cemetery, the Kaab bin al-Ashraf fortress, and al-Seih neighborhood in Medina, as well as the city of Abu Arbash in Jazan and the city of Najran in the south. 

No future without the past

The essence of normalization with “Israel” is to bring about change to the Arab and Islamic world, beginning with the recognition of “Israel” as the “promised Jewish state” in the region and reaching the restriction of the military capabilities of the Arab world and changing its political beliefs, as well as the region’s overall attitude toward this entity. 

Hence, normalization in itself paves the way to fulfilling the Zionist agenda and goal in the region, considering the different tools to use in order to properly implement their process and plan. “Israel” aims to maintain a military and economic power in the region, but it can only do so by being recognized in the region, which is already happening. But where did this entity come from and why should it belong in the region? A question every anti-Zionist would answer, but some Arabs chose not to. 

Cultural normalization and heritage looting helped in whitewashing the Israeli crimes in occupied Palestine and “warmly welcoming” the occupation in the region. Now you might wonder, how are the normalizing Arab states able to accept cooperating with an occupation government that has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions over the years?

After “Israel” was able to whitewash its image in front of some Arab states, it took a few steps closer to fulfilling the Zionist dream, which requires more looting of Arab heritage. By normalizing ties and colliding with the Arab culture in the normalizing states, the Arab heritage is in danger. 

However, the Arab heritage will not fade from the resilient honorable states that till today have not abandoned the Palestinian cause and have stood in solidarity with the Palestinian martyrs and people. The norm should be that there is no place for normalization in the Middle East because there is nothing normal about the occupation.

Normalization: A stab in the back of the Palestinian cause

FEBRUARY 19, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Rasha Reslan 

The recent wave of normalization in the Middle East has resulted in gruesome shifts in regional dynamics and balances most notably regarding Palestine and the Palestinian cause.

Most Arab and Muslim countries are apparently considering normalization, but at what cost?

The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco are among the Arab countries that signed normalization deals with the Israeli occupation, echoing Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s recognition of “Israel” in 1977.

Here’s the ugly truth: More Arab and Muslim countries are apparently considering doing the same with the US midwifing the move, not to mention that those who adopted the UAE’s prototype for normalization with “Israel” considered the issue of Palestine as non-existent.

Arab peace initiative?

Despite all claims of an Arab peace initiative, Palestine seems to be an afterthought in normalization deals with “Israel”. The so-called “Abraham Accords” were more about Arab transactions with the US than with “Israel”. In short, normalization with “Israel’” was the charge paid in exchange for the US’ recognition of territorial claims (in the case of Morocco), removal from blacklists (in the case of Sudan), preservation of a totalitarian regime (in the case of Bahrain), or sale of weaponry (in the case of the UAE).

Normalization between Arabic countries and “Israel”: Proven record of failure

16 Feb 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

Hussam AbdelKareem 

“Israel” knew that it would never settle in the Arab region unless it gets recognized by its people as a “normal state”.

Normalization Between Arabic Countries and “Israel”: Proven Record of Failure

An Advanced Outpost for Colonial Powers

“Israel” had been created in 1948 as an advanced outpost for the colonial-imperial powers keen on dominating the Middle East region and keeping it under control. That’s the plain fact proven at different stages in recent history. And since the announcement of “Israel” as a state on the land of Palestine, it acted exactly like that: a militarized compound disguising in a state’s attire! In 1956 “Israel” was called to service by the then-great Britain and France when they decided to attack Egypt in an attempt to prevent it from liberating itself and nationalizing its Suez Canal. “Israel” joined the evil plot willingly and attacked Egypt without any provocation, showing to its old colonial masters that their investment was paying off. Later, when the British Empire was doomed to demise, “Israel” moved on and joined the camp of the rising star, America, which inherited the old lion. From the sixties of the last century onwards, “Israel” took part in the US’ global efforts in combating national liberation movements, communist-socialist regimes, and people’s revolutions.

When “Israel” was announced in 1948, it was met with unanimous Arab rejection. All Arab nations, many of them still under British – French control, refused to recognize it. Absolutely no Arab felt “Israel” belonged to the region, not culturally nor politically. Nobody was ready to deal with it in any way. Arab People looked at it not as a neighbor but as a group of usurpers who took over Palestine by force and displaced its Arab brothers who became refugees. A solid barrier of rejection and contempt was surrounding “Israel” who stayed in the heart of the Arab region as a bastard state.      

That’s why the normalization of relations with Arabic countries has always been of utmost importance for “Israel”. Even the smallest gesture from anywhere in the Arab world was being warmly welcomed by Israelis if they sense it could create a narrow crack in the rejection wall. “Israel” knew that it would never settle in the Arab region unless it gets recognized by its people as a “normal state”. “Israel” needed recognition more than anything else. “Israel” knew that no matter how strong its army is or how long its occupation of Palestinian lands lasts, it’s Arab recognition that gives it legitimacy and long-term future.

Three Old Normalization Accords

Before the new wave of Arab normalization with “Israel” in 2020, there were three normalization agreements between “Israel” and the Arabs:

-Camp David peace treaty with Egypt (1979)

-Oslo peace agreement with Palestine Liberation Organization (1993)

-Wadi Araba peace treaty with Jordan (1994)

Decades of formal normalization on three fronts resulted in nothing! It is true that written recognition from Arab governments was obtained by “Israel”. However, that can hardly be the real goal that “Israel” was after.

Let’s elaborate:

Egypt and Jordan are both sovereign independent states who were having occupied territories under Israeli control. So they had duty to restitute their lands from “Israel”. That, restitution the occupied land, was the basis for their peace treaties with “Israel”. The governments of Egypt and Jordan presented the matter to their people like that: we have to sign a peace treaty, we have to recognize “Israel” because there is no other way to get our lands back. We, as responsible governments, have to do that, but you, as people, as individuals, as society, have the freedom to make your own decision whether to normalize or not! And it seemed that logic was accepted by most of the people who “excused” their governments and took their own different path.

After four decades of Egyptian normalization, and three decades of Jordan’s, there is no people-to-people relations, no social contacts established, no community initiatives between the sides. The public opinion in Egypt and Jordan is still very much against any dealings with the Israelis. Anyone who “dares” to announce friendly relations with Israelis will be socially isolated and abandoned, swiftly. Civil society, political parties, unions and associations, intellectuals, writers, artists, cinema and sports stars … etc. all refusing to have anything to do with “Israel”. Cultural and economic boycott. The relations between Egypt and Jordan from one side and “Israel” on the other, remain official and limited to political meetings and border security arrangements. This kind of “normalization” can hardly be satisfactory to the Zionists of “Israel”.

The PLO is another story. Palestine is still under Israeli occupation. It’s neither liberated nor independent. Yasser Arafat wanted to have a base at home from which he may continue the struggle towards independence, so he signed an “interim” agreement. The Oslo Accord was supposed to be just a starting point and that’s what made Arafat accept all the unfair and un-advantageous terms imposed by Israelis. Well, Arafat was wrong, and the Israelis turned the “interim” agreement into an ever-lasting one! There are many relations between the Palestinians under occupation and “Israel” but that is, in no way, considered as “normalization” between the peoples. Matters related to borders crossing, transport of goods, water and electricity … are merely living conditions and requirements.

The failure of the decades-long official normalization speaks volumes. “Israel” has not shown any real appreciation of Arab concerns and aspirations. In short, they wanted “peace and normalization” with Arabs as a token of surrender. Palestine land will have to remain under Israeli occupation and Palestinian refugees will have to remain away from home. 

Will the new normalizers have better luck?

In 2020 new Arab normalizers jumped in, under Trump’s patronage, and signed the so-called Abraham Accords (it is telling that the Biden administration keenly avoids the term “Abraham” and refers to the “normalization agreements” instead, intentionally ignoring the religious implications of the term). Unlike Egypt, Jordan and the PLO, the new Arab normalizers are very far away from “Israel”, thousands of miles away! Moreover, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan have no “bilateral” or direct conflict with “Israel” and are therefore under no pressure to conclude any deal with “Israel” whatsoever.

The new normalizers were unable to use the “solving pressing problems” excuse to justify their rush towards “Israel” to their people (who were never consulted about the matter!). So they started talking about modernization, civilization and “peace in the region” and other similar broad ideas. They began a faked kind of “heart to heart” normalization that has an artificial element of passion and love towards “Israel” in it! Sudan in particular talked about improving the economy (lifting the US sanctions and getting World Bank loans) as an excuse.

The new wave of normalization will not succeed, not because the signing parties don’t want that, but because there is no real basis for success in these deals. “Israel” is still the same old Zionist entity that Arabs know very well, and Al-Quds still under occupation, Palestinians still deprived of their homeland and “Israel” is still posing a constant threat to Arab nations. Even history tells us that the economic benefits of normalization won’t work! If anybody has doubt about that, a mere look at Egypt’s and Jordan’s economic hardships – after decades of normalization- will be enough to prove that: NORMALIZATION WON’T WORK.

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

Protest wave grows in Bahrain against normalization with Israel

The majority of Bahraini citizens remain firmly opposed to the normalization deal with Israel and supportive of the Palestinian struggle

February 18 2022

ByNews Desk

A Bahraini demonstrator sets an Israeli flag on fire during new protests against the normalization of ties with Israel. 16 February 2022. (Photo credit: Press TV)

Dozens of people once again took to the streets of the Bahraini capital, Manama, on 18 February to protest against the deepening of ties between their government and the Israeli occupation.

The protesters carried banners condemning the normalization of diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv. They burnt Israeli flags and accused the rulers of Bahrain of abandoning the people of Palestine and their struggle against the Israeli occupation.

The protesters also chanted slogans denouncing the Al Khalifa royal family.

The protests came just a few days after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett paid a state visit to Bahrain at the invitation of the royal family.

Bennett became the first Israeli prime minister to visit the Bahraini kingdom. According to Tel Aviv and Manama, the aim of the visit was to strengthen relations between the two countries.

On 12 February, Bahrain’s foreign ministry confirmed that an Israeli naval officer would be permanently stationed in the country as part of an international coalition that seeks to “secure freedom of navigation in territorial waters, protect international trade, and confront acts of piracy and terrorism in the region.”

According to Israeli media outlets, the naval officer is expected to arrive in Bahrain in March 2022. It will be the first time that an Arab state will openly host a member of the Israeli occupation forces.

The decision to host the Israeli officer is reportedly part of bilateral agreements signed between Tel Aviv and Manama during the visit of Benny Gantz, the minister in charge of the military affairs of Israel.

The two countries have increased cooperation between their armed forces since normalizing ties in 2020.

On 18 February, Amnesty International revealed that the cell phones of three Bahraini activists had been hacked by the infamous Pegasus spyware developed by an Israeli company.

Bahrain is one of four Arab countries that normalized diplomatic relations with Israel in late 2020 under the so-called Abraham Accords that were brokered by the US government.

Bahrainis take to the streets to protest Israeli PM visit

In September 2020, Bahrain and the UAE became the first Arab countries to openly normalize ties with Israel

February 16 2022

ByNews Desk

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett visited Bahrain on 15 February to meet with Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa in a landmark trip to the Gulf country.

The visit came 17 months after the official establishment of relations under the US-brokered Abraham Accords, based in part on curtailing Iran’s regional influence.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdul Latif Al-Zayani told reporters on 15 February that “the Iranian nuclear file and terrorism were on the agenda of the talks between the Kingdom and Israel.”

Bennett also discussed the need for greater economic cooperation with Bahraini officials. “We want to fill this relationship with substance in energy, in drive, in economy, in tourism and in the regional architecture,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Bahraini ruler said: “We must do more to get to know one another and build upon the Abraham Accords, which have been such a historic agreement.”

Bennett landed in the country on the evening of 14 February, marking the first visit by an Israeli official to Manama.

In addition to receiving a warm welcome by Bahraini officials, Bennett’s visit was also met with protests and opposition from the Bahraini people.

Images and videos of large demonstrations were circulated on Twitter on 15 February, with protesters trampling on and burning Israeli flags in opposition to the prime minister’s visit.

The protests took place in Shia villages across Bahrain, as well as in the capital Manama.

Demonstrations included slogans condemning the actions of the Bahraini government, especially the September 2020 signing of normalization agreements with Israel.

These also coincided with the 11th anniversary of the Bahraini uprising against the Al-Khalifa regime, which took place on 14 February 2011.

According to opposition sources quoted in the Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, Bahraini authorities arrested at least four people during the latest protests.

The Bahraini Battle for Rights Refuses To Be Broken

February 15, 202

By Latifa Al-Husseini

The revolution in Bahrain isn’t over. The struggle never subsided. Every moment is plagued by repression, imprisonment, torture, and executions. The momentum is the same. If anything, it increased. The level of persecution is at its climax, and every revelation of oppression leads to the same conclusion: the regime never intended to listen to the demands of its people. The divide is obvious. The Al Khalifa clan is in one valley, and the people of Bahrain are on a totally different valley.

Whoever keeps pace with the widespread human rights crisis in the tiny Gulf kingdom, realizes that what is happening there is injustice. Every individual the authority does not like will either be arrested or martyred.

The Democracy Index published by the British newspaper, The Economist, for the year 2021 included Bahrain in the list of authoritarian countries, based on a study of the electoral process, partisan pluralism, the way the government works, political participation, and civil liberties.

Delving deeper shows staggering numbers that indicate the exclusionary and abolitionist approach of the Al Khalifa clan. Since the February 14 revolution, authorities dissolved more than 30 political, religious, cultural, and educational associations, in parallel with imposing comprehensive restrictions on the activities of civil society.

The number of martyred children surpassed 49, including 32 fetuses, while there are more than 1,700 children in detention. As for abuses against women, the regime has killed more than 34 women since 2011, arrested more than 345, and summoned more than 1,600. Executions are ever-present in the Bahraini approach. Since the revolution, Ali al-Singace, Sami Mushaima, martyr Abbas al-Samea, Ahmed al-Malali, and Ali al-Arab have been executed, while 12 others are facing imminent execution.

Things don’t stop there. The authorities also revoked the citizenship of 815 people for malicious political reasons. Among those stripped of their citizenship is Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassem. Authorities even demolished 38 mosques, 11 of which are still in ruins.

Al-Ahed News website interviewed the head of the Monitoring and Documentation Department at SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights and former detainee Ebtisam Al-Saegh, who told us that the humanitarian crisis in Bahrain has only worsened in recent years.

Al-Saegh, the relentless human rights activist, says that after all these years, repression is a constant, in light of the frequent and increasing violations and arbitrary arrests. The variable is the introduction of disinformation used by the authorities to distort and tear apart the peaceful movement.

What rights were the people able to obtain amid the extensive repression?

“The rights that the people are seeking have not been met, and they are far from being met, despite the continuity of the movement and the number of sacrifices that were made – in every home and family, there is a victim,” Al-Saegh says.

The unending abuse does not discourage resolve, even if the scene is tragic. Al-Saegh points out to Al-Ahed that “the human rights movement continues to monitor and follow up on the affairs of victims, document violations, and assist the oppressed in order to achieve justice for them.”

“There is an uninterrupted communication through human rights channels including contacts with the United Nations special rapporteurs to register and monitor them, urging the Manama government to bring about change, stop violations, abide by international conventions, and allow special rapporteurs to enter the country to investigate the human rights reality on the ground.”

The Bahraini regime, according to Al-Saegh, used repression by rendering Bahraini citizens stateless. Nearly 900 had their citizenship revoked. It reinstated the citizenship of 551 following widespread criticism from the United Nations, international human rights organizations, and the European Union.

This weapon, which also targeted Ayatollah Isa Qassem, does not negate his position among the general public. According to the member of SALAM, the cleric is the symbol and leader of the peaceful movement and is still playing this part abroad despite attempts to undermine him.

Al-Saegh asserts that the Bahraini regime has not adopted a single reform over the years, but rather it intensified its violations and penalties against the people despite the conclusions from fact-finding missions and international calls to implement the recommendations of the United Nations in the universal periodic report of the Human Rights Council.

Al-Saegh dismissed announced reforms by the authorities as “not serious. These will not result in a political solution that ends the crises.”

In Al-Saegh’s opinion, justice cannot be achieved amid violations and a policy of impunity. As such, the first steps of reform should involve the clearing of prisons, but this does not mean that the perpetrators should not be held accountable. The government still deals with cases of torture as individual actions and not systematic practices. Hence, it does not address them, but rather aggravates the situation and gives way to an intensification of violations due to the absence of accountability.

Al-Saegh does not put a lot of stock in the so-called alternative punishment system that the authorities launched. Based on her data, there is no seriousness in dealing with the people’s demands. Although the alternative punishment system appears to be a positive step, it deviated from the intended path and became a new restriction and a kind of political isolation. The person released under this law cannot integrate back into society and cannot practice his rights to freedom of opinion and expression or enjoy the life of a regular citizen.

Al-Saegh explains that prisons in Bahrain house detainees from most age groups and categories. She reveals that Jaw Prison has more than 3000 prisoners over the age of 21, while in Dry Dock Prison and its juvenile and so-called health isolation sections, there are hundreds of detainees, including 80 minors.

Some of these minors were released under the Restorative Justice Law issued by the Bahraini monarch at the beginning of last year. However, some of them were re-arrested after they turned 18 and were charged with more serious offenses.

Al-Saegh states that there are about 500 prisoners under the age of 18. Some of the minors became adults while in prison and have been transferred out of the juvenile section to serve harsh sentences.

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Asian Nations that said No to normalization

February 15, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Farah Hajj Hassan

The countries that stood their ground in the face of the Israeli occupation have created shockwaves of resistance and lessons in morality.

Mass demonstrations in Bahrain and Jordan, athletes refusing to play with Israeli players in sports games, and calls for boycotts for Dubai expo 2020. Now more than ever, the popular public outcry against “Israel” is not only limited to West Asia but is rapidly bleeding into Asian, Western, and African territories like a tsunami of electronic evidence submerging Israeli propaganda.

The question that must be asked is why then, have nations more than ever begun normalizing with the Israeli occupation.

In a time where social media and massive internet use highlight our reality, what possible defense could Arab and particularly Muslim countries have to stand on regarding their sudden change of attitude surrounding “Israel?”

The answer is, the change is not so sudden, but an elaborate and intricate plot of treason that has been boiling for years.

The main players in this betrayal are the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Although they did not lead the Arab world in normalizing ties with “Israel”, and follow Jordan and Egypt, they certainly are taking the lead in ignoring its crimes and promoting the apartheid state as a friendly neighbor. Just this week, Dubai TV’s hosting of chef Levi Duchman sparked reactions condemning an Arab channel for giving air time for those making allegations about the “history of Israeli and Palestinian cuisine.” 

The interview discussed the qualities of “Israeli cuisine“, showing renowned Palestinian and Arabic dishes.

Of the total 28 countries that do not recognize “Israel” to this day, Asian countries include Indonesia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Brunei, Malaysia, Maldives, and Pakistan.

It is worth noting that although some governments have normalized relations with “Israel” the population may be adamantly against it.

In Bahrain, there have been many protests decrying normalization and the population has been largely vocal about their rejection of the Israeli enemy. Yet the government has not ceased on its shameless welcoming of Israeli delegations on its soil.

Southeast Asia

It is no secret that in the eyes of “Israel” and the US, the more countries that legitimize “Israel”, the better. What better way to portray the axis of resistance as a hateful anti-Jewish movement than by plastering photos of “Israel” opening embassies in numerous Arab and Muslim states. In Southeast Asia, a massive campaign to encourage normalization has been underway.

According to a report by The Diplomat, “Israel” is seeking diplomatic recognition around the world, especially in West Asia and North Africa, as well as Southeast Asia, providing Israeli technical assistance to the armed forces in Burma.

In Indonesia, the traditional foreign policy on the occupation has long opposed normalization in fear over its ties with Arab countries, and normalization of relations would be strongly opposed by the public and unaccepted politically.

Rumors of possible normalization have surfaced recently and were shut down by several Indonesian politicians who have denied such claims, which indicates “Tel Aviv” and Jakarta are far from establishing any diplomatic ties.

The traditional Indonesian foreign policy on the occupation is unwavering in its support of Palestine. In 2018, Jakarta saw thousands of protesters over former US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the embassy from “Tel Aviv” to Al-Quds.

Indonesia would be required to abandon its long-standing policy position on Palestine, which Indonesia naturally opposes since the preamble to its constitution states that “independence is the right of all peoples.” The domestic sentiment is overwhelmingly supportive of Palestine, as 71 percent of Indonesians agreed that “Israel” was responsible for the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” a May 2021 survey found.

As evidence, when former US President Donald Trump took the decision of moving the capital of “Israel” from “Tel Aviv” to occupied Al-Quds, protests erupted in Indonesia, with many organizations declaring and reiterating their support of the Palestinian cause.

Activists protest during a pro-Palestinian rally in Jakarta in June 2010 (AP)

Joining Indonesia, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, and the Sultan of Brunei denounced the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza in May 2021. They decried the occupation “inhumane, colonial, and apartheid” policy toward the Palestinian people. In a statement, the nations said

“We condemn in the strongest term the repeated blatant violations and aggressions, carried out by the Israelis, targeting civilians throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, which has killed, injured, and caused suffering to many, including women and children.”

In Bangladesh, protests erupted during the May 2020 war on Gaza, decrying Israel’s offensive on the Palestinians. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged stronger global action to end the violence and sent a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The letter called the threatened eviction of the Palestinians living in Sheikh Jarrah a severe violation of human rights. The PM wrote that Bangladesh denounces “Israel’s” acts of terror and violence and urges the international community to “take sustainable measures to end such kinds of acts anywhere and everywhere in the world including Palestine.”

In May of last year, rumors of possible normalization surfaced after Bangladesh removed the “Israel clause” from the passport. Swiftly shutting down the rumors, the Information minister Hassan Mahmud told reporters that it was only changed to comply with international regulations and that there is nothing for “Israel to rejoice in.” Since its inception in 1971, Bangladesh has been pro-Palestinian and against “Israel.”

He assured that diplomatic relations with the occupation do not and will never exist. “’Israel’ will be banned or closed for Bangladeshi citizens and it will be the same for the people with Israeli passports for traveling to Bangladesh.” The Bangladeshi people held signs that read boycott terrorist “Israel” and chanted their discontent.

Pakistan follows suit and Imran Khan as well as Pakistan’s foreign office has declared that there was no question of recognizing “Israel” until it agreed to a two-state solution, restoration of the pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds becomes the capital of the Palestinian state.

After rumors that Pakistan’s Army didn’t share the anti-“Israel” view, the army clarified that it stands with the government in 2020. Additionally, an aide to the Pakistani prime minister said he recently met top officials in the military and found them firmly supportive of Palestine. One of the officials elaborated that even if Saudi Arabia recognizes “Israel”, Pakistan will not follow suit.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri released a statement in which he said “Pakistan steadfastly supports the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination.” In May of last year, hundreds protested in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad against the Israeli war on Gaza.

Pakistani Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the protests are “an expression on behalf of the people of Pakistan and the government of Pakistan that we stand by the people of Palestine and … we strongly condemn Israeli aggression against innocent Palestinians and also the [raiding] of Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

West Asia

The war in Syria had the US and its allies hope that Syrian President Bashar al Assad would forfeit governance and with his removal would come to the installment of a regime much more lenient towards “Israel.”

Fortunately for Palestine, the Israelis and Americans failed in that endeavor, ISIS was defeated and the US occupation is heavily losing ground in Syria, which will inevitably end in its complete withdrawal, as it did in Afghanistan

In October, several Israeli media outlets said, “The idea of dismantling Syria is no longer realistic”, adding, “The long and stable rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which brought stability to Syria, is an ironclad fact.” The Israeli “Makor Rishon” website underlined, in an article, the Gulf Arab regimes’ current openness to Syria after acknowledging their failure to fray Syrian-Iranian ties.

The website highlighted the fact that Saudi Arabia is conducting a dialogue with Syria to normalize relations, while the Emiratis and Bahrainis are working with the Syrians for a variety of reasons, including a desire to “weaken Iranian power.”

Iraq

In Iraq, where the population suffered years of brutal war and occupation from US forces and interference, the Iraqi government remains steadfast in never acknowledging the occupation and decrying any attempts at normalizing with the enemy.

In September 2021 the Iraqi government expressed its firm rejection of the “illegal” meetings that were held by some tribal figures in the city of Erbil in the Kurdistan Region, which called for the normalization with “Israel,” that these meetings do not represent Iraqis, noting that they only represent themselves.

The statement stressed that proposing the concept of normalization is constitutionally, legally, and politically rejected in Iraq, as the government clearly expressed the country’s consistent historical position in supporting the Palestinian cause.

In the same context, several Iraqi political parties and figures denounced the meetings held and affirmed their support for the Palestinian cause, while calling on the Iraqi government to take the necessary measures. 

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Ahmed al-Sahhaf, reiterated Iraq’s firm support for the Palestinian cause and affirmed the necessity of the full implementation of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights.

In an interview for Al Mayadeen, al-Sahhaf said that Iraq definitely rejects any form of normalization with “Israel”, explaining that “the Iraqi government handles this as a priority.” 

The axis of resistance supported by Iran is namely Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, wherein is the stronghold where armed resistance against “Israel” and its project thrives. “Israel” knows that the only way to dismantle this axis is with infiltration within its societies to accept “Israel.” If “Israel” becomes a friend, no foe exists any longer, and therefore the axis of resistance is defeated.

Conclusion:

A simple assessment of the ongoing crimes of “Israel” against the Palestinian people and the continued campaign of demolition of their homes and properties suggests that while some states are citing open dialogue with the occupation, the very act of normalization is a tool that “Israel” uses to embolden its crimes against the Palestinians. The more neighboring countries accept “Israeli sovereignty”, the more the Palestinian narrative and struggle are delegitimized.

However, the normalization of neighboring nations is a double-edged sword for “Israel.”

For years, it claimed that it was surrounded by “hostile” neighbors while it “defended itself”. Meanwhile, it committed transgressions on neighboring soil like the war of 2006 in Lebanon. “Israel’s” most common chant in our current era, and possibly always has been anti-Semitism

How will “Israel” maintain the defense of its brutal regime of apartheid in the future, when it is no longer the victim country surrounded by enemies.

In Abu Dhabi, the call for normalization was masked under the umbrella of progressiveness and “badly needed realism”   according to the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs.

On CNN, the UAE’s minister of state for internal cooperation said the UAE believes in “open conversation and ties,” citing the importance of “tolerance,” so religion is not used as an excuse. Ironically so, “Israel” is the only country in West Asia that hides behind its religious doctrine of Zionism to claim the authority to the Palestinian land and oppress its people.

“Israel” has continued to maintain its ridiculous notion that neighboring countries that have for years refused to acknowledge its existence or legitimacy were doing so out of anti-Semitism and innate hatred of its “Jewish roots.”

Let’s compare “Israel” to Ukraine for a moment. What similarities can we draw between the frenzy around Ukraine and the West’s calls for war and the same frenzied campaign that Benjamin Netanyahu led when he was PM of “Israel.” Just like Russia repeatedly denied Western allegations of an invasion in Ukraine, Iran has repeatedly denied nuclear weapon allegations. Netanyahu dominated the media during his time for warning the world that Iran was closer than ever at developing a nuclear weapon and that it must be stopped.  

Nonetheless, the stance of any nation to boycott “Israel”, regardless of neighboring Palestine or sharing a religion or culture, is not a religious or political stance. It is simply a humanitarian stance. The recognition that a nation and native people are being deprived of their human rights on the basis of another identity’s supposed to fear for survival.

Because on the humanitarian level, normalizing ties with a brutal aggressor and welcoming them with open arms, makes you a traitor to your neighbor, to your people, and your own morality.

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