Bahrainis Continue Rallies against Saudi Death Sentence for Two Young Nationals

January 14 2022

By Staff, Agencies

For a third consecutive day, Bahrainis kept up their rallies in protest at a Saudi Arabian court’s upholding of the death sentence against two Bahraini youths.

The demonstrations were held throughout several Bahraini villages on Thursday, with participants holding up pictures of the victims, who have been identified as Sadiq Thamer and Jaafar Sultan.

Saudi Arabia detained the two young men in 2015 and issued the sentence for allegedly trying to blow up a border crossing linking the island and the kingdom.

They appealed the sentence, but the Saudi Court of Appeals recently upheld the ruling. Both have pled not guilty, denouncing the verdict as politically-motivated.

Bahrain has been cracking down on all forms of dissent since 2011, when it started to face a popular backlash over its heavy-handed treatment of the country’s Shia majority.

Saudi Arabia, seen by some observers as Bahrain’s “big brother,” has been supportive of Manama’s suppression campaign, and at one point, even tried to boost the Bahraini crackdown by sending troops and military vehicles over to the island.

The Saudi kingdom itself is similarly notorious for its intolerance of dissent that has witnessed Riyadh changing its so-called anti-terrorism laws to include dissidence.

Riyadh has also attracted considerable international criticism for its rampant use of the death sentence against those of its citizens.

On par with Saudi Arabia: Manama launches an attack on Lebanon

22 Dec 2021

On par with Saudi Arabia: Manama launches an attack on Lebanon

Source: Al Mayadeen

Sondoss Al Asaad

Manama is accused by International organizations of committing torture against political prisoners. Not only does it revoke citizenship from its citizens, now it continues to chase them in their exile.

During a press conference held in Beirut on Thursday, Dec, 9th, Bahrain’s top opposition bloc, Al-Wefaq, launched its annual report monitoring the alarming human rights situation in the country, entitled ‘The Epidemic of Violations’. The report accused the Bahraini government of arbitrarily arresting thousands, including hundreds of women and children, issuing hundreds of politicized sentences, and torturing hundreds of political detainees.

Meanwhile, Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs submitted a strongly worded protest to the Lebanese government, labeling the Al-Wefaq’s activists as “hostile personnel designated on supporting and sponsoring terrorism lists, with the purpose of broadcasting and promoting abusive and malicious allegations against the Kingdom of Bahrain”.

The statement considered that hosting the press conference is an “unacceptable act, which is a flagrant violation of the principles of respect for the sovereignty of states and non-interference in their internal affairs, in contravention of international charters and the charter of the League of Arab States”.

A court in Bahrain arbitrarily dissolved Al-Wefaq in July 2016, accusing it of helping to foster violence and “terrorism” in the island kingdom. The ruling came amid the escalating crackdown on the peaceful opposition in the aftermath of the 2011 pro-democracy protests. Then, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored the dissolution,  dubbing it “the latest in a series of restrictions of the rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of association, and freedom of expression in Bahrain”.

Bahraini Human rights activist Sayed Youssef Al-Mohafada  tweeted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ statement was marred by inaccuracies, saying, “No person participated in the human rights conference is, internationally or locally, classified on the terrorism lists,” adding that “holding conferences does not violate international conventions, as the statement claims.” Sayed Al-Mohafada noted that “those who wrote the statement are not familiar with international law, human rights law, humanitarian law, and Lebanon’s domestic laws that guarantee freedom of expression”.

Al-Wefaq’s report states that it has observed 20,068 arbitrary arrests of citizens between the onset of the popular movement in February 2011 and mid-2021 this year, among them 1,716 children and more than 300 women. It adds that 1941 politicized judicial rulings were issued during the past two years, including 198 life imprisonment sentences and 309 cases of citizenship revocation, while the number of violations of detainees has reached 1,320, most notably medical negligence, torture, electric shocks, or enforced disappearance.

Returning to Beirut, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s media office issued a  statement requesting an immediate investigation. The Prime Minister “affirms his refusal that Lebanon be used as a platform to offend and insult the Kingdom of Bahrain”, stressing his “keenness on maintaining the strong historical relations”.

Activists on social media got frustrated with Mikati’s statement saying he has given up Lebanon’s minimum level of sovereignty making it a vassal of the monarchies of oppression, injustice, and dictatorship. It once again highlights one of Bahrain’s most blatant systemic policy of citizen revocation, which coincides with the systematic policy of political naturalization, which has led into serious political, social and economic implications in the country.

Bahraini opponent Ali Al-Fayez tweeted, “The [Bahraini] opposition has held tens or even hundreds of press conferences, seminars, and vigils (including the ongoing strike of Ali Mushaima in front of the [UK] embassy in London), and it has political relations in the eastern and western world. This media intimidation against Lebanon is based only on a cheap failed policy led by Saudi Arabia.”

Bouthayna Ollaik, the Lebanese Radio talk-show host, commented, “Some people in Lebanon want to be leaders of a farm, not of a state, and they invented the saying ‘Lebanon’s strength is in its weakness,’ so that they would not bear the responsibility of protecting and defending it, and to remain subject to the foreign tutelage”.

Since 2011, the Bahraini authorities have revoked the citizenship of at least 700 nationals, 232 in 2018 alone, in a process that lacks adequate legal safeguards. This includes many human rights defenders, political activists, journalists, and religious scholars, etc. leaving many stateless, and some have been deported.

In his book “Stateless”, a book about his citizenship revocation in Bahrain, Dr. Ali Ahmed Al-Dairi, a Bahraini critic, academic, and researcher specializing in speech analysis, states that “the state of revoking your nationality plunges you into an existential ordeal that has no treatment or cure”.

“Bahrain seems intent on earning the dubious honor of leading the region in stripping citizenship,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “While authorities claim that these acts are linked to national security, they are in fact punishing many people merely for peacefully voicing dissent”.

Last May, SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, an independent Bahraini NGO that endeavors to preserve universal principles of dignity and respect by shielding democracy, launched during a webinar, a  report entitled ‘Arbitrary Revocation of Nationality in Bahrain: a Tool of Oppression.’ According to SALAM, “This arbitrary practice affects not only the victims, but also their families and future generations. Bahrain should reinstate full citizenship to those who were impacted, provide them with an effective remedy and reparation, and dismantle the arbitrary laws which enable citizenship revocations.”

Just today, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Manama to release its political prisoners ahead of the National Day celebrations. HRW urged the regime “to free everyone imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of association, peaceful assembly, and expression, including rights defenders, opposition activists, and journalists.” HRW said those who remain confined to “degrading prison conditions, are in part because Bahrain’s powerful allies, like the United States and the United Kingdom, do not speak out against Bahrain’s serious human rights violations”. HRW’s Michael Page noted that Bahrain has one of the highest incarceration rates per capita in the Middle East, adding that the authorities arrested and prosecuted 58 online activists between June 2020 and May 2021 alone. 

Beirut, indeed, has always been a safe refuge for a large gathering of Arab opponents, revolutionaries, and nationalists. Of course, a human rights conference like Al-Wefaq’s was and will not be the first nor the last for the Bahraini opposition in an Arab capital, which has once warmly hosted Ghassan Kanafani, Nasser Al-Saeed, George Habash, and others.

Consequently, we ask: Are the Lebanese officials, the servants of the reactionary Gulf regimes, aware that, by their shameful statements, are compromising Lebanon’s sovereignty and making it a subjugated vassal of their tyranny? Have they ever heard that these activists have been forcibly exiled by Manama after they were unjustly and aggressively deported to be placed by terrorist mercenaries? Then, how has the concept of freedom of expression got to have double standards? What about the shameful Syrian opposition conferences, which have been held in Beirut for years, to ward off blasphemy, terrorism, and systematic atrocities against the Syrian people? Shall Beirut turn into a new ward of the notorious Jaw prison, in which Manama commits the most heinous human rights violations as documented by major international human rights organizations?

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

Some Lebanese Politicians Bow to Foreign Diktats: Will Self-disrespect Solve Any Problem?

By Mohammad Youssef

Lebanon is experiencing a surge of Saudi intervention in its internal affairs. A malice intervention that amounts to be not only a violation for its sovereignty; rather a distortion of its identity.

Lebanon has always been and continues to be an oasis of freedom and a beacon of personal and collective liberty that defends and respects the basic principles like freedom of expression and religious diversity. This has made the country traditionally a platform for expressing free opinions and a hub for free press.

Last week Lebanon hosted a human rights conference by Bahraini activists to expose the grave violation of human rights perpetrated by the Bahrain’s government against its people.

The conference did not breach any of the observed protocols or legal measures; yet it has induced a huge campaign by Bahraini dictatorship against Lebanon, calling upon its government to deport the Bahraini individuals that organized the event.

The Lebanese minister of interior quickly responded to the request and has issued a memorandum directing the authorities to deport the organizers.

This Lebanese obedience and submission to the Saudi and Bahraini dictations reflect lack of respect to the country’s dignity, sovereignty and independence.

Earlier this month the Lebanese minister of information Goerge Kordahi has submitted his resignation from the cabinet due to mounting Saudi pressure and persistent request. The reason why Riyadh demanded Kordahi’s resignation was because he commented on the Saudi war against Yemen describing it as absurd and with no reason.

Kordahi’s statement was given during a political interview months before he assumed position at the cabinet, and even before the formation of the government itself.

Unfortunately and unjustifiably, senior leaders in Lebanon bowed down to the Saudi pressure and requested his resignation.

This event holds a very negative connotation from both sides; the Saudi side because it indicates how much Riyadh is sure that it can exercise pressure and dictate orders to our government, and from the Lebanese side because it shows clearly how much some of the Lebanese leaders lack dignity and are ready to sacrifice the country’s national pride to appease foreign Arab and non-Arab powers.

In conclusion, this policy of bowing to foreign pressure by senior officers in Lebanon is not going to do the country any good. Surrendering the national will to foreign diktats will not restore the country nor its interests. It will only degrade Lebanon and its citizens more and more and will induce the appetite for more pressure that will not necessarily boil down to our interest.

It is time to learn a very important lesson that the policy of self-disrespect and making concessions will not deliver and cannot remedy Lebanon’s ailments and crisis whatever.

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Hamas Can Now Hit All ‘Israeli’-occupied Palestinian Territories – Senior Leader

Dec 16 2021

By Staff, Agencies

A co-founder of Hamas said the Palestinian movement can hit all ‘Israeli’-occupied territories as it has become much stronger since it was formed in 1987.

“Hamas started from scratch and confronted the enemy with stones, and today, it possesses capabilities that threaten all the occupied territories,” Mahmoud al-Zahar told Yemen’s al-Masirah network on Wednesday.

He further described the ongoing war with the ‘Israeli’ regime as open-ended, saying the latest military exercise by Hamas’s armed wing affirms the resistance movement’s readiness to confront the Zionist entity and proves its steadfastness in defending occupied al-Quds and the al-Aqsa mosque.

Marking the 34th anniversary of Hamas’s foundation, the Izzeddine al-Qassam Brigades, the resistance movement’s military wing, launched a military exercise dubbed “Shield of al-Quds” in the ‘Israeli’-besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday.

The exercise, according to Hamas, was intended to inform ‘Israel’ that the resistance is fully prepared “in case they think of doing something foolish” in the besieged Gaza strip.

Elsewhere in his remarks, al-Zahar said the new Zionist cabinet wanted to convey the impression that it was tougher on Palestinians in order to gain the support of the ‘Israeli’ settlers.

He added that the Arab countries standing with Palestine had been similarly harmed by the ‘Israeli’ regime, while some other Arab countries had been completely drawn into the normalization project.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain unashamedly signed US-brokered normalization agreements with the ‘Israeli’ occupation entity in an event in Washington in September 2020. Sudan and Morocco followed suit later that year.

On Monday, Zionist Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met the UAE’s de facto ruler in Abu Dhabi, becoming the first ‘Israeli’ regime leader to publicly visit the Gulf state. The normalization attempts have been strongly denounced by Palestinians as an act of betrayal.

Shield of Jerusalem’: Qassam Brigades Release Photos of Latest Military Drills (PHOTOS)

December 16, 2021

Al-Qassam Brigades train in Gaza. (Photos made available to local media by the Media Unit of Al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

In these photos, released by the media unit of Hamas’al-Qassam military Brigades, Qassam fighters undergo intense military training in an unknown site in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Today’s drills are part of a larger training effort under the name of ‘Shield of Jerusalem’, carried out by al-Qassam and other Gaza-based resistance groups in anticipation of a future Israeli war on the besieged Gaza Strip.

Gaza, a home for nearly two million Palestinians, mostly refugees, has been under hermetic Israeli siege since the democratic elections held in Palestine in January 2006. Since then, Israel has launched several wars on the Strip, killing thousands of people and injuring many more. 

Throughout the years, Gaza’s resistance against Israel has intensified and was progressively strengthened as demonstrated in the last war of May 10.

(All Photos: Made available to local media by the Media Unit of Al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza)

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Manama to Beirut: Persecute our Exiled Dissidents

17 Dec 2021

موقع درج | قرر وزير الداخلية اللبناني بسام المولوي المحسوب على فريق رئيس  الحكومة نجيب ميقاتي ترحيل ناشطين بحرينيين من جمعية "الوفاق" المعارضة بعد أن  شاركوا في نشاطات تنتقد الممارسات القمعية في

By Sondoss Al-Asaad

Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a strongly-worded protest to the Lebanese Government regarding Beirut’s hosting of a conference allegedly “for hostile persons designated as supporters and sponsors of terrorism, with the purpose of disseminating and promoting abusive and malicious allegations against the Kingdom of Bahrain.”

The Bahraini al-Wefaq’s press conference was held to launch a human rights report entitled “An Epidemic of Violations,” which covers a far narrower period between the start of 2019 and the mid of this year [2021].

Undoubtedly, the ministry knows that those activists have been forcibly and illegally banished from their own land, after arbitrarily stripping their citizenship.

Al-Wefaq’s report has documented a staggering 20,068 arbitrary arrests of Bahraini men, women and children, since the onset of pro-democracy protests on Feb, 14th, 2011. According to the findings, most of the 1320 violations against Bahraini detainees involve severe torture, whereby two torture victims were even executed. It further reveals that there were 1941 politically-motivated court rulings, with hundreds of those resulting in citizenship revocations and life sentences.

Al-Wefaq believes the findings are serious enough to warrant the formation of an international commission of inquiry to look into these grave violations, calling for an international pressure on Manama over its refusal to grant visit requests to the UN’s special rapporteurs.

Commenting on the ministry’s allegations, Jawad Fairooz, al-Wefaq’s former MP, said that “after systematic and ongoing oppression by all means against freedom of expression inside Bahrain, the government wants to restrict this freedom abroad,” asking: “Isn’t this a clear proof that Bahrain is a police state?”

Besides, Bahraini human rights advocate, Sayed Yousif al-Muhafda, said that the statement is marred by fallacies, pointing out that “None of the participants in the human rights conference are internationally or locally listed in the terror lists,” adding that “holding conferences does not violate international conventions as the statement claims.”

Sayed al-Muhafda revealed that those who had wrote the statement are “not familiar with international law, human rights law, humanitarian law and Lebanon’s domestic laws that guarantee freedom of expression.”

The Bahraini government’s comments come amid the Saudi-led hostile campaign against Lebanon.

Today [Thursday], Bahraini London-based activists will organize a press conference in front of the Bahrain Embassy, with the participation of members of the British Parliament and human rights organizations, to condemn the ongoing flagrant violations against human rights in the country.

Meanwhile, a growing number of British lawmakers is rallying around Bahraini exiled activist Ali Mushaima’s campaign calling on Manama to release the detained opposition leader Dr. Abduljalil al-Singace, along other political prisoners, including his own father, Shiekh Hassan Mushaima.

Al-Singace has been on hunger strike since more than 150 days, demanding the return of his confiscated academic research. Meanwhile, Mushaima has been on hunger strike outside Bahrain’s London embassy for 16 days so far where he receives near-daily visits from British MPs.

Thus, the questions that pop up are: “Will the Bahrain government send a letter of protest to the UK?” Then, “Does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs know why are these Bahraini activists practicing their freedoms in Beirut and not in Manama?”

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هل ينكسر الإجماع اللبناني حول التوطين؟

ناصر قنديل

قد يبدو السؤال مستغرباً للكثيرين، مثلما كان مستغرباً السؤال قبل عشر سنوات حول الإجماع اللبناني حول التطبيع، فربما يكون التذكير ضرورياً بأن أشد اللبنانيين تطرفاً ضد المقاومة وسلاحها كان يؤكد صبحاً ومساء أن لبنان أشد المتضررين من التطبيع مع كيان الاحتلال، وأنه سيكون آخر المدافعين عن شروط المبادرة العربية للسلام التي أقرتها قمة بيروت عام 2002، وما تضمنته من تمسك بحق العودة للاجئين الفلسطينيين، إضافة للانسحاب الإسرائيلي الشامل من الأراضي المحتلة عام 67، وقيام دولة فلسطينية عاصمتها القدس، كشروط أي سلام، بينما يبدو لبنان السياسي والإعلامي اليوم كياناً رخوياً في موقفه من التطبيع، حيث يجري حشد آثار الأزمة الاقتصادية والمالية للقول إن لبنان أمانه أولوية واحدة هي كسب رضا الخارج الغربي والعربي الذي يملك الأموال اللازمة للخروج من الأزمة، وتحت هذا الشعار تتدحرج الكثير من الممنوعات اللبنانية ويرفع عنها الحظر.

يمكن رصد ثلاثة ظواهر بائنة لا يمكن إنكارها من جهة، ولا تفسيرها بغير نظرية تفكيك الثوابت تحت شعار الحاجة لاسترضاء مصادر الأموال، وكلها تأتي في سياق تحول لبنان إلى كيان رخوي سياسياً، بلا ضوابط ولا حدود ولا سقوف، الظاهرة الأولى هي الحملة المتعددة المصادر على سلاح المقاومة، من حد أدنى عنوانه الحديث عن الحياد وحصرية السلاح بيد الدولة، إلى حد أعلى يخاطب المقاومة بصفتها جالية إيرانية، وتحرك مرجعية روحية كبرى هي بكركي بينهما، وهي تمثل ما تمثل في السياسة الداخلية والعلاقات الخارجية، وتضاف إليها أصوات تجرأت في ظلال سقف بكركي، مهما كان حجمها صغيراً، للحديث عن احتلال إيراني، أو الحديث عن أن التطبيع وجهة نظر وليس موضع إجماع داخلي، وذريعة كل هذه الظاهرة هي الوضع المالي والإقتصادي، والتساؤل من أين نأتي بالأموال، ما دامت المقاومة قد تسببت بفقدان رضا أصحاب الأموال، وغالباً يقول، تسببت المقاومة بتخريب علاقات لبنان بمن يمكن التطلع إليهم لمساعدته.

الظاهرة الثانية هي تفكيك المناعة التقليدية التي كان الوسط السياسي والحقوقي والإعلامي يملك تجاهها حساسية خاصة، تجاه مسألة حرية التعبير، وقد شكلت ظاهرة الهجوم المتعدد الأطراف لدفع وزير الإعلام جورج قرداحي للاستقالة مؤشراً خطيراً على حجم التحول، حيث الجميع يؤكد يقينه أن الموقف السعودي المبني على التصريح المنسوب للوزير قرداحي قبل أن يصبح وزيراً، ظالم وغير منطقي وليس له أي أساس وفق معادلة الحق والقانون، وعندما قال وزير خارجية السعودية ادراكاً لضعف الحجة في الارتكاز إلى كلام الوزير قرداحي، لم يتغير الموقف الضاغط طلباً لاستقالة الوزير قرداحي تحت شعار يشبه دعوات تقديم قرابين الاسترضاء، بمسمى عصري هو الإقدام على خطوة حسن نية ترضي السعودية، ولم يرف جفن المسؤولين في الدولة والمجتمع وهم يطيحون بما كانوا يصفونه من قبل بإحدى أهم ميزات لبنان، وهي تنوعه وحرية الرأي فيه، ورفض مساءلة الدولة إلا عن مواقفها الرسمية، وبقيت الحملة تتدحرج حتى استقال الوزير الذي تحفظ الرئيس الفرنسي إيمانويل ماكرون على المطلبة باستقالته، وبقي يقول المطلوب خطوة من دون أن يحدد الاستقالة لأنه يخشى أن يسجل على رئيس فرنسا طلب استقالة وزير في دولة ذات سيادة لاسترضاء دولة أخرى، وأن السبب هو تصريح سابق لتولي الوزارة من هذا الوزير، فخجل ماكرون ولم يخجل لبنان، بل فتح عينيه على وسعهما، وقال لم لا، ننحر الحرية والسيادة كرمى لعيون صاحب المال.

الظاهرة الثالثة هي ما نشهده هذه الساعات مع قرار وزير الداخلية بترحيل معارضين بحرينيين، يتواجدون في لبنان بصفة قانونية، لأنهم عقدوا مؤتمراً صحافياً حقوقياً يعرض لانتهاكات حقوق الإنسان في بلدهم، ومشهود في العالم كله وفي منظمات الأمم المتحدة لمستوى اللياقة والدقة القانونية والسلمية والمستوى الحضاري لأداء المعارضة البحرينية، ومعلوم بالمقابل نوع المعارضين السوريين الذين فتحت أمامهم أبواب لبنان، ونوع العمل الذي كرسوا وجودهم في لبنان للقيام به، سواء من كان منهم متورطاً بأنشطة ارهابية، أو من كان يقدم الإسناد الإعلامي والمالي لهذه الأنشطة، لكن الفارق كبير بين حكومة البحرين التي تشكل أحد كيانات الخليج، ويندرج استغضابها ضمن مفهوم استرضاء صاحب المال، وحكومة سورية يشكل اغضابها استرضاء لصاحب المال، والتغير اللبناني تجاهها يجري على إيقاع تغير موقف صاحب المال الخليجي وليس تعبيراً عن قراءة مختلفة للمصلحة اللبنانية، ووفقاً لمراقبة سريعة يمكن ملاحظة حجم حضور المعارضة البحرينية في دول أوروبية كبريطانيا تقيم أفضل العلاقات بحكومة البحرين يترجمها وجود قاعدة عسكرية بريطانية في البحرين، كدليل على ثقافة الذل السياسي التي ينحدر إليها لبنان، ضارباً بعرض الحائط معادلة كان يتباهى بها بصفته ملجأ المعارضات العربية الديمقراطية، وفقاً لتوصيف شارل مالك قبل أكثر من نصف قرن، والذريعة هي فقط طلب رضا صاحب المال.

السؤال هو لماذا يستبعد البعض أن يكمل انحدار مشواره تحت ذات الاعتبارات، عندما يقال للبنان إن ثمن التوطين هو مئة مليار دولار على سبيل المثال، أي ما يكفي لسداد الديون وإعادة الودائع، وتحريك النظام المالي والمصرفي بأفضل مما كان عليه؟ والسؤال الموازي هو هل يمكن تصديق من يدعو لنزع سلاح المقاومة، كورقة قوة وحيدة بيد لبنان، عندما يقول إنه يرفض التوطين؟

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Bahraini Activist: Lebanon’s Deportation of Al-Wefaq Members Is Politically Motivated, Instigated by Saudi Blackmail

December 16, 2021

By Fatima Haydar  

Beirut – Lebanon’s Interior Ministry on Wednesday ordered the Lebanese General Security to deport non-Lebanese members of Bahrain’s opposition party, Al-Wefaq.

The ministry’s order came after a press conference that was held in Beirut on December 11, 2021, in which the Bahraini opposition group presented a documented report on human rights breaches in the kingdom.

Commenting on the incident, Mr. Ali al-Fayyez, a Bahraini political activist told Al-Ahed News, “We believe that the decision, which was issued today [Wednesday] by the Lebanese Minister of Interior, is a political decision and is not based on a legal case – at least this is our basic understanding of the issue”.

Al-Fayyez explained that the conference which was held in Beirut is a “normal situation” and that such activities are held in the West more than in other countries.

He said that the conference was “A peaceful activity guaranteed by international laws and treaties regarding freedom of opinion and expression,” adding that “even the US Department of State, the British Foreign Office and the Human Rights Council” have all issued similar reports to the one presented by Al-Wefaq in the press conference.

The Bahraini activist pointed to the familiarity of the Lebanese capital with holding such conferences saying, “In fact, Beirut, also hosted several press conferences, whether political or human rights”, all the while emphasizing the “timing and the circumstance that Lebanon is going through”.

Moreover, he underscored that “Saudi blackmail with a Bahraini façade – i.e. the ruling authority in Bahrain” – is behind the deportation incident.

“We believe that this step is inconsistent with the history of Lebanon; with what the Arab, the Islamic world or the entire world knows about Lebanon that it embraces different opinions and pluralism, as well as freedom of opinion and expression,” the activist stated.

He further said that the ministry’s decision is “inconsistent with this history and this Lebanese cultural heritage” since “we have known historically that Lebanon embraces opposition groups”.

However, Al-Fayyez noted the Lebanese’s refusal of the decision by citing popular dismay he witnessed on social media.

This being said, the activist commented on the repercussions of such a decision saying, “This political decision is not in anyone’s interest: neither the Lebanese people nor certainly the Bahraini people. It serves only one side: the tyrannical and dictatorship regimes in the Arab and Islamic world”.

He also denounced measures taken by the Al Khalifa regime in an attempt to put an end to the activities of the Bahraini opposition group in London or wherever it is present in the Arab and Islamic world.

“The Bahraini government was unable to send a letter to the British government regarding the activities of the Bahraini opposition,” Al-Fayyez explained.

“We believe that what the regime in Bahraini has done is a cheap blackmail attempt and the export of authoritarian policies, repression, and persecution,” he said.

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غلاف اليوم لمجلة نيوزويك الأمريكية …الأسد “لقد عاد” Syria’s Bashar al-Assad Returns to World Stage in Defeat for US, Win for its Foes

ON 10/13/21 AT 5:00 AM EDT
NEWSWEEK MAGAZINE

BY TOM O’CONNOR 

Ten years ago, it appeared to be the beginning of the end for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. His government’s brutal crackdowns on peaceful protests in 2011 had given birth to an insurgency backed by foreign foes—the U.S. among them. Atrocities mounted, including use of chemical weapons against civilians, mass murders and torture, over the course of the decade-long civil war that followed. Estimates suggest that more than 600,000 people have died and millions more have been displaced, making the Syrian civil war one of the deadliest, most disruptive conflicts of the 21st century.

One by one, countries severed ties with Assad and his government, including the U.S., which imposed economic sanctions in 2011 and shuttered its embassy for good in 2012. Even the Arab League, an influential organization of fellow regional nations, banished Assad in the fall of 2011 in hopes of welcoming the growing armed opposition to his rule—a strategy it had used with dissidents in Libya, where longtime leader Muammar el-Qaddafi was slaughtered by NATO-backed rebels just as foreign governments and the United Nations were preparing to take action in Syria as well.

Assad, in short, became an international pariah.

But now it’s the twilight of 2021, and the Syrian president has not only survived but appears poised to make a stunning comeback on the world stage. A decade after his actions helped set the civil war in motion, Assad stands strong over a largely broken country that has few other options for leadership. And with the help of longtime allies Iran and Russia, he has managed to retake much of Syria from the hands of the rebels and jihadis that tried to oust him.

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Syria’s President Bashar al-AssadPHOTO-ILLUSTRATION BY GLUEKIT; SOURCE PHOTO BY ALEXEI DRUZHININ/TASS/GETTY

Now, recognizing reality, many of the countries that cut him off 10 years ago have begun to welcome him back, despite ongoing U.S. opposition to his rule. Telling signs: Just last month Jordan reopened its border with Syria, and the Arab League is widely expected to reinstate its membership shortly.

“Assad will stay in power,” former Ambassador Robert Ford, the last U.S. envoy to Syria, tells Newsweek. “There’s no way to imagine that the Syrian opposition now through force of arms is going to be able to compel him to step down. There isn’t a viable alternative.”

For Ford, who witnessed the developments that led to the civil war firsthand, dodging angry mobs in Damascus in the fall of 2011 and the al-Qaeda-linked bombs that rocked the capital city the following winter, it’s a tough outcome to watch. “Syria is a shattered country economically, it’s shattered socially, too,” he says. “Half the country’s been displaced [and] more than a fourth of the population has fled the country. It’s not going to get better for average Syrians inside Syria, and it’s not going to get better for Syrian refugees. It’s just tragic.

With a change in leadership unlikely, the emphasis will now shift to how other countries deal with Damascus, says Mona Yacoubian, a former State Department analyst who today serves as senior adviser on Syria at the United States Institute of Peace. “Given stalwart Russian and Iranian backing, Assad is likely to maintain his hold on power for at least the medium term,” Yacoubian tells Newsweek. “Many countries in the region have come to understand this, and we are starting to see more prominent efforts to accommodate this reality.”

As rapprochement between Syria and other Arab nations moves forward, what is not yet clear is just what shape those efforts will take and, critically, how the U.S. will respond—developments that are likely to affect the balance of power in the region and beyond.

Out of the Cold, Back in the Fold

What’s driving the countries that shunned Assad to move toward normalizing relations, given that the conditions that led to him being ostracized haven’t fundamentally changed? Experts say the desire for regional stability appears to be stronger than the concerns over Assad’s leadership or the allegations of mass human rights abuses that have accompanied it.

“As the region contends with crisis and chaos, deepening economic challenges, the COVID pandemic and widespread humanitarian suffering, governments in the region are more interested in de-escalating conflicts and addressing these persistent and destabilizing challenges,” Yacoubian says.

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Russia has been one of the few countries to back the Syrian government in the country’s civil war. Here, Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin lat a candle-lighting ceremony in 2020.ALEXEI DRUZHININ/TASS/GETTY

Among the examples she cites of the shift in regional sentiment toward Assad is the recent improvement in relations between Syria and Jordan, a major U.S. partner in the Middle East. In addition to reopening the border in September, Jordan’s King Abdullah II symbolically took a call from Assad earlier this month, the first such communication between the two leaders in a decade. Also noteworthy: the recent decision by the Biden administration to alleviate some of the harsher sanctions against Assad encoded in the Caesar Act, a 2019 law that restricts foreign companies from engaging in business activities that support Damascus. The changes allowed delivery of Egyptian gas and Jordanian fuel to energy-starved Lebanon through Syria.

Other signs of tensions easing in the region: The UAE and Bahrain have already reopened their Damascus embassies, and INTERPOL this month readmitted Syria to the global law enforcement body for the first time since banishing the country in 2012.

The motives for bringing Syria back into the fold among various Arab states were elucidated in a report earlier this year by David Schenker, who served as assistant State Department Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs until January, and is now a senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“A range of parochial motivations appear to be driving this embrace,” Schenker wrote in his report, which he shared with Newsweek. “For the UAE, reintegrating Assad and rebuilding Syria holds the promise of ending Turkey’s deployment in Idlib, where the Emirati adversary has stationed troops to prevent additional refugee flows. Jordan seems driven primarily by a desire to help its economy, repatriate refugees, reestablish consistent trade and restore overland transportation through Syria en route to Turkey and Europe. In this regard, Washington’s Caesar Act restrictions continue to irritate Amman.”

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Syrian kids are seen at a makeshift camp at Syria – Turkey border in northern Idlib on April 2, 2020, three years after a suspected chemical attack was conducted in Khan Shaykhun.MUHAMMED ABDULLAH/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY

Larger regional concerns have also swayed the likes of Egypt and Israel, which hope to limit the entrenchment of another non-Arab power: Iran. “More broadly, Egyptian officials seemingly subscribe to the dubious idea that Syria’s reentry into the league would gradually accentuate its ‘Arabism’ and thereby move Damascus away from Persian Iran,” Schenker says in the report. “Other regional states likely share similar views; even some Israeli national security figures improbably assess that Russia may limit Iranian encroachment in postwar Syria under Assad.”

All of these developments, though, are at odds with the official U.S. stance on Assad and Syria. Diplomatic ties between Washington and Damascus remain severed, and their respective embassies closed, with no clear path to reconciliation.

Still, unofficially at least, there appear to be changes afoot. “The Biden administration has said that it will not normalize relations with Assad, but does not appear any longer to be dissuading Arab partners from doing so,” Schenker tells Newsweek. “Caesar Act sanctions, if applied, may prevent Arab states from resuming ‘normal’ relations, including trade, with Assad’s Syria. But the increasingly senior engagements are undermining the isolation of the Assad regime and what’s left of the Trump-era policy of pressuring the regime” to implement a 2015 United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire and a political settlement to end Syria’s ongoing civil war.

“Until now, this policy has prevented the Assad regime from achieving a full victory,” Schenker says. “As Arab states move to reembrace Assad, it will become increasingly difficult to maintain the sanctions.”

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A US military convoy takes part in joint patrol with Turkish troops in the Syrian village of al-Hashisha on the outskirts of Tal Abyad town along the border with Turkish troops, on September 8, 2019.DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/GETTY

Meanwhile, Syria continues to maintain a diplomatic presence in the U.S. in the form of the country’s permanent mission to the United Nations in New York City. Aliaa Ali, who serves as third secretary at the mission, tells Newsweek her government hopes that the recent decision by the Biden administration to allow energy shipments to Lebanon will “reflect positively on the Syrian people, and be a stepping stone for the United States of America to rescind its wrong policies and approaches in the region.”

Ali characterizes these developments as a triumph for Syria and a loss for the U.S., saying that they “would not have taken place without the victory of the Syrian state, the failure of the American administrations to achieve their goals and the realization of the majority of regional and international countries that no results can be reached regarding policies or drawing strategic paths in the region unless coordinating with Damascus.”

But the presence of unsanctioned foreign troops on Syrian soil remains a sticking point with Damascus—about 900 U.S. troops remain in the country, even after the Biden administration’s military exit from Afghanistan and stated goal of ending “forever wars.” Bouthaina Shaaban, one of Assad’s top advisers, tells Newsweek that “we cannot talk about a final Syrian victory unless the entire Syrian land is liberated, as we still have parts of our country occupied by American and Turkish powers.”

The Syrian Perspective

Shaaban’s tenure in the Syrian government dates back to the days of Assad’s father, Hafez al-Assad, who assumed the presidency in 1971, beginning a half a century of dynastic rule that continues to this day. Relations with the West were mostly strained under the elder Assad, a traditional adherent to the Baathist ideology, which blends socialism and Arab nationalism. His son, Bashar, was an aspiring ophthalmologist studying in the United Kingdom when his older brother’s death made him the heir apparent. He initially ushered in a new era, more cosmopolitan on its face, when he assumed the presidency after his father’s death in 2000.

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Undated picture shows Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and his wife Anisseh posing for a family picture with his children (Bashar is in the top row, second from the left).LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/GETTY

U.S.-Syria relations frayed throughout the first decade of the 21st century, however, and ultimately collapsed with the onset of the civil war in 2011. As for any U.S.-Syrian ties today, Shaaban tells Newsweek “we cannot talk about any new intentions until we see the U.S. withdrawing its troops from Syria.”

But she does see value in other nations building bridges with Syria, and maintains that many countries have come to support the Syrian government throughout the course of the conflict. She believes these actions are consistent with a worldwide decline in U.S. power and influence.

Political adviser to Syria's Assad: Major victory over western missiles -  The Jerusalem Post

“The lack of confidence and the lack of credibility of U.S. policies during different administrations over the last decades, besides its continuous violation of international law and of international agencies, and its efforts to create conflicts in many countries, all these led to the deterioration of the position and role of the U.S. in the world,” Shaaban says. “Not only countries who have different points of views with the U.S., but even allies of the U.S. started to lose confidence in U.S. policies.”

She characterizes the Syrian conflict thus far as a win over the West and what it tried to prove to the world.

“The first message the war on Syria has proven is that all Western propaganda about this war was groundless,” Shaaban says. “Western media portrayed what happened in Syria as an uprising against the president of Syria and the war as a civil war. A reality check proves that no president can remain in power if his people are against him, especially as terrorism was supported and financed by so many countries in the world.”

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Syrian senior presidential advisor Buthaina Shaaban answers journalists’ questions on Syrian peace talks at the United Nations on January 29, 2014 in Geneva.FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/GETTY

Shabaan’s message resonates in Syria beyond government halls, and its ramifications are global. One Syrian observer who has personally experienced and closely followed the events of the war tells Newsweek that the coalescing of U.S. foes in Syria means that countries like Russia, Iran and China may seek to block U.S. actions elsewhere too.

“The message is clear, the U.S. can be defeated, or at least stopped, as in Syria today,” says the observer, who asked to remain anonymous due to the country’s sensitive security situation. “From now on, U.S. foes won’t let what happened in Iraq and Libya happen again. The U.S. is not weaker, militarily or economically, but its enemies are getting stronger and so is their will to work together.”

This observer recognizes the uprising against Assad was launched by Syrians, but says the campaign to save him also had indigenous roots. “You can win a war against any regime in the world, but you can never win war against people,” the observer says. “It was the Syrian people who rose against Assad, but it was also the Syrian people who defended him.”

Existential Threats

Syrians on both sides of the civil war didn’t work alone. Just as volunteers from a multitude of countries joined the rebellion against the Syrian government over the course of the conflict, so foreign fighters also intervened on its behalf.

Among those who mobilized with Iran’s backing to support Assad in Syria in 2013 was neighboring Iraq’s Hezbollah al-Nujaba Movement, part of a self-proclaimed, mostly Shiite Muslim “Axis of Resistance” that opposes the actions of Washington and its partners in the region. Nasr al-Shammary, the group’s deputy secretary-general and spokesperson, describes in detail images of beheadings and eviscerations carried out by al-Qaeda that would soon rebrand as the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), and says the decision to intervene was rooted in such atrocities, which were accompanied by threats to the region’s Shiite Muslims, a minority in Syria.

“You can imagine what would happen if these terrorist groups took control of Syria. God forbid!” Shammary tells Newsweek.

Much of the world at that time was focused on other grisly images, such as barrel bombs falling from government aircraft on Syrian cities and reports of the systematic torture and murder of thousands of Assad’s enemies in secret prisons throughout the country. Allegations of Syrian government war crimes involving such banned weapons also continued, including the use of nerve gas to kill 1,400 citizens of Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, in 2013. All told, the conflict has made Syria the world leader in creating refugees and asylum seekers, with more than 6.6 million having fled the country, and even more internally displaced, according to figures shared by the U.N.

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Corpses of men and children killed by nerve gas after a suspected chemical weapons attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, in August 21, 2013.ERBIN NEWS/NURPHOTO/GETTY

And as the fighting intensified, Syrian jets and Russian allies in the air stood accused of bombing hospitals, schools and even religious institutions, ensuring nothing was sacred in such an unholy combat. The mounting reports prompted international investigations on behalf of the powers that still hoped to see Assad dethroned.

The opportunity presented itself for an ultimatum among a nation desperate for victory but war-weary all the same. After quietly funding an insurgency, the U.S. mapped out potential plans to bring the hammer down on Assad.

President Barack Obama had famously set a “red line” on the use of chemical weapons, meaning that their use would cross an internal threshold that triggered a U.S. military response. He even sought congressional approval for U.S. intervention. The president backed down, however, amid an international deal to disarm Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.

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A survivor of the Assad government’s suspected chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun town of Idlib district, receives treatment at an hospital in Idlib, Syria on April 05, 2017.CEM GENCO/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY

But reports of abuses persisted, as did the ruthlessness of ISIS and other hard-line groups that overpowered and consumed the ranks of the “moderate” Free Syrian Army. Washington was coming to realize that the Syrian opposition was doomed to self-destruction. The Pentagon saw a new protagonist in Syria’s indefatigable Kurdish community, which had always sought more autonomy from Assad’s Arab-oriented rule but now, like other minorities, faced a genocidal threat from jihadis.

Beyond the American Century

Shammary believes there are two causes for what he sees as the decline of U.S. power and influence. The first one, he says, is internal: “The United States today is no longer what it was before, and the main reason is the intransigent American policies that completely ignore the will of the peoples, their cultural heritage and their social fabric, the mistrust for the peoples in the region, the continuous abandonment of allies and the complete disregard of the interests of the countries of the region before American interests.”

Additionally, he argues, U.S. competitors have grown more capable and adaptable. “The second reason,” he says, “is the growing ability and strength of America’s competitors in the world—such as Russia, China and Iran—and the confidence of their allies in them and the positions of some of the mentioned countries that support and are loyal to these allies without any assumptions or interference in the values of peoples or their social fabric.

“READ MORE

And around the same time that the U.S. officially switched sides to back the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in October 2015, the skies over Syria were overwhelmed with the roar of Russian Air Force jets. “Assad was in some views a dictator, a monster, but he was Russia’s ally,” Evgeny Buzhinskiy, a retired lieutenant general of the Russian military who is now chairman of the executive board at the Russian International Affairs Council, tells Newsweek. “When Russia intervened in the year 2015, Assad was on the verge of collapse. Russia saved him.”

The beleaguered Syrian Arab Army, beset by death and defection, was reinvigorated by a great power partner that turned the tables in the skies and on the battlefield. And Russia, which had worked with China since 2011 to ensure Assad did not suffer the same fate as Qaddafi by vetoing international action in Syria, now coordinated closely with Tehran and its allies to keep a mutual friend in power.

“There was a division of labor,” Buzhinskiy says, “Russia acts from the sky, bombing and delivering missile strikes, and Iran is acting on the ground, in cooperation with the Syrian Armed Forces, simultaneously.”

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Smoke rises after a warplane belonging to the Russian Armed Forces bombed a residential area in the Darat Izza neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria on October 4, 2016.MAHMUD FAYSAL/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY

Buzhinskiy confirms that Moscow’s approach proved “a model” of sorts for successful intervention for Russia and its partners. This killer choreography not only kept Assad’s forces afloat, but, as Syrian Democratic Forces head of media operations Farhad Shami acknowledges, staved off desertions from the embattled Syrian Arab Army.

“Direct Russian and Iranian support were crucial to Assad’s survival in power,” Shami tells Newsweek. “Assad benefited greatly from Russian support in getting rid of his opponents and reducing their control over regions of Syria. And most importantly, it reduced the chances of defecting for many of those who complained about him, whether they were politicians or soldiers who are still now within the institutions of the system.”

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Bashar supporters make their feeling clear outside the Syrian Embassy in Moscow, during early voting for president this year.SERGEI BOBYLEV/TASS/GETTY

But Shami warns that Assad has “not once and for all survived the fall and faces many dangers if he does not achieve a sufficient degree of openness to society and change his behavior and mentality.”

Losing Wars, Choosing Battles

U.S. support for the Syrian Democratic Forces continues, though it is limited to defeating the remnants of ISIS. As Russia stepped up its own presence across Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces’ political wing, the Syrian Democratic Council, opened a line to Moscow as well in the hopes that the U.S. and Russia could work together to secure an agreement between them and Damascus.

“We are pretty interested in direct talks with Assad, with the Syrian government,” Syrian Democratic Council co-chair Elham Ahmad told a small gathering of journalists in Washington earlier this month. “We asked our partners to play a positive role in getting us to find a solution between us and the Syrian government.”

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An Anti-Assad Syrian demonstration held in Whitehall, Central London.IN PICTURES LTD./CORBIS/GETTY

Progress has been slow, however, and a lack of results has led to some second guessing at times, even among the U.S.-partnered force.

“From time to time, when we don’t see any physical or any real change, we try to recalculate our ideas,” Ahmad says, expressing hope that this visit to the U.S. capital may produce “something different” from prior experiences.

As for Ford, the former ambassador, he resigned from the State Department in 2014, frustrated by what he saw as a slow and misguided approach to the war in Syria. Today, he frequently discusses what went wrong for the U.S., but ultimately he emphasizes that the government in Washington was never in a primary position to steer the course of the conflict in Syria.

“For sure our credibility took a hit,” Ford says. “But I think what your readers really need to understand is that the Americans did not control the path of events in Syria. We did not expend the resources to change the course of events there, and even if we had vastly increased the number of resources, I’m not sure that we would have come out where we wanted to.”

He acknowledges the limitations of U.S. involvement in Syria, which he said falls far more readily within Tehran and Moscow’s sphere of influence than that of Washington.

“The Americans got involved in something that was much bigger than what the United States was about in the Middle East, and in a sense we ended up just being one player among many,” he says. “And when you’re one player among many, the single player does not control it, Iran does not control it, Russia by itself does not control it, even Assad himself does not control it, the Turks don’t. It’s a really complex interplay.”

And sometimes, he argues, it is best for the U.S. to stay out of the mix altogether, especially in countries where rivals have more interest, influence and the willingness to apply both.

Says Ford, “The Americans really do need to pick and choose their battles carefully.”

BDS Movement: “If we abandon Palestine, we abandon ourselves”

December 7, 2021

Source: Agencies + Al Mayadeen Net

By Ahmad Karakira

Amid the shameful wave of normalization with the Israeli occupation and the Arab failure to support the Palestinian cause in favor of the US and “Israel,” the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions movement has proven to be effective.

Boycotting is one form of resistance against the Israeli occupation, but is not and should not be an alternative to armed resistance

On November 25th, after a struggle with cancer, passionate writer and activist Samah Idris passed away. Idris dedicated his life to Palestine and the struggle against normalization with the occupation. He was editor-in-chief of the prominent Al Adab literary magazine from 1992 onward.

Idris was one of the founders of the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of “Israel” in Lebanon after the Jenin massacre in 2002, and played a leading role in furthering the movement’s influence.

He had a strong commitment to Palestine and its cause, which he used as a compass in his battle.

In an interview for Al Mayadeen English, he said, “Lebanon condemns the Israeli occupation which violates universal principles and the right of people to self-governance.”

Even in his final days before his untimely death, Idris continued to denounce those who normalize ties with the occupation as he fought to expose the occupations’ atrocities.

The revolutionary’s death comes amid a shameful recent normalization wave by several Arab countries with “Israel,” the newest of which is the visit of the occupations’ Security Minister Benny Gantz to Morocco.

The visit witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on security cooperation between the two sides, deeming the Moroccan regime as a partner in oppressing Palestinians and betraying the Palestinian cause, and ignoring the history of Moroccan revolutionaries and resistance leaders such as Abdelkarim al-Khattabi who fought against Spanish and French colonialism. 

Morocco is the fourth Arab country, following the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan, to have normalized ties with the Israeli occupation under Washington’s sponsorship.

Originally, in 1945, the Arab League issued a decree to officially boycott Israeli companies and goods in support of Palestine, forcing Arab citizens and companies of an Arab League member to boycott any ties with “Israel.”

Unsurprisingly, the US Congress passed laws in 1977 criminalizing US companies that comply with the Arab boycotting bodies.

However, as a result of Western pressure, several Arab countries have abandoned the boycotting movement and normalized ties with the Israeli occupation.

Therefore, the more the normalization ties increase, the more the work of the BDS movement becomes crucial.

Sally Rooney under attack

A few days ago, some 70 prominent authors, poets, and playwrights have signed a letter of endorsement in support of Irish author Sally Rooney’s decision to prevent Israeli publishing house “Modan” from translating her latest work, “Beautiful World, Where Are You,” into Hebrew.

Rooney indicated that her decision is part of a cultural boycott over Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

She said she “did not feel it would be right” to accept a contract with an Israeli company “that does not publicly distance itself from the apartheid and support the UN-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people.”

Citing human rights reports, Rooney pointed out that “Israel’s system of racial domination and segregation against Palestinians meets the definition of apartheid under international law.”

The author confirmed she supports the “Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS)” movement targeting “complicit” firms and institutions “in response to the apartheid system and other grave human rights violations.”

Rooney explained that the BDS movement is “modeled on the economic and cultural boycott that helped to end apartheid in South Africa.”

Boycotting origins in Palestine

Since the 1920s, Palestinians have mastered boycotting as a way of resisting the British mandate and the Zionist colonization, and in 1936, they organized a huge six-month strike in protest of the British support for Zionism.

In addition, the Resistance factions launched a popular boycott of Israeli products during the first Intifada (1987-1992), which led to a dynamic plunge in Israeli exports.

When all UN resolutions failed to stop “Israel” from violating international laws and continuing its crimes against Palestinian people and land, 170 different Palestinian bodies first launched the BDS movement in 2005. 

The BDS movement website wrote, “Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges action to pressure ‘Israel’ to comply with international law.”

In an aim to withdraw apartheid in South Africa, several activists, organizations, unions, and politicians pressured the apartheid South African regime through heavy lobbying, isolation, and product boycotting worldwide as a form of achieving liberation. The boycott movement cost the racist regime a great loss and isolation from international events and markets by the demand of many Europeans.

As a result, post-apartheid South Africa has supported the Palestinian cause since the two sides established formal diplomatic relations in 1995, a year after the end of the apartheid regime. South Africa also reduced its diplomatic representation in the so-called “Tel Aviv” in 2019 and withdrew its ambassador.

It is noteworthy that the boycotting movement has been historically used to end oppression, such as Ghandi’s Indian Salt March in 1930 and African Americans’ famous Montgomery Bus Boycott in late 1955. Unlike BDS, these movements are celebrated without being described as “anti-Semitic.”

Its success and effect

“BDS aims to end international support for Israeli violations of international law by forcing companies, institutions, and governments to change their policies. As Israeli companies and institutions become isolated, ‘Israel’ will find it more difficult to oppress Palestinians,” explains the BDS movement.

So far, BDS has achieved several victories against the Israeli occupation on many levels, which led “Israel” to dedicate resources, including money, government staff, and security services to undermine BDS and threaten its activists.

Culturally, thousands of artists, famous of which is Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters from legendary rock band Pink Floyd, have declined to perform in “Israel” as a result of BDS calls and is even an ardent supporter of the movement.

In addition, various academic institutions and unions in the US, Canada, South Africa, and the UK have announced their support for Palestine and the movement.

After respecting the choice of boycotting, renowned British scientist Stephen Hawking withdrew from the Israeli Presidential Conference. Also, after a visit to Palestine, the famous Black activist and academic, Angela Davis, expressed that she “unequivocally endorses the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Campaign.”

Most recently, the South African government announced that it has “withdrawn its support” from the current Miss South Africa (SA) pageant due to fruitless attempts to persuade the pageant to reconsider its plan to participate in the Miss Universe event, which is set to take place in “Israel.”

Economically, a UN report showed that BDS was a major cause of a 46% drop in foreign direct investment in “Israel” in 2014, while the world bank mentioned that the movement resulted in a 24% drop in Palestinian imports from the occupied lands, according to the movement. Moreover, the Israeli occupation government and the Rand Corporation published reports that predict that BDS will cost “Israel” billions of dollars, which it did.

How “Israel” is fighting BDS

Proving to be effective, “Israel’s” policies against BDS and pressure on EU and US have proven the efficiency of the movement and the extent of loss it has caused to the occupation. 

The Zionist lobby worldwide and pro-“Israel” groups have urged governments such as France, Canada, the US, UK to criminalize BDS.

Last but not least, it is important to mention that the BDS movement is one form of resistance out of many against the Israeli occupation, amid the shameful wave of normalization with the Israeli occupation and the Arab failure to support the Palestinian cause in favor of the US and “Israel.”

However, boycotting is not and should not be an alternative to armed resistance as the late Samah Idriss affirmed, “We believe there is no other way to communicate with the Israeli occupation except through boycotting and armed resistance, and nothing else.”

Idris is no longer with us, but his memory will live in the hearts and minds of all the supporters of the Palestinian cause.

Erdogan and Macron, between Competition and Hostility, there’s One Understanding! إردوغان وماكرون.. بين المنافسة والعداء تفاهم واحد!

ARABI SOURI 

Erdogan and Macron, between Competition and Hostility, there’s One Understanding!

France Macron and Turkey Erdogan

Macron’s visit to the region comes to obstruct what Erdogan is striving for regionally and internationally.

The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published in the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

A week after the visit of the “biggest enemy” Mohammed bin Zayed to Ankara and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s talk of his desire to achieve similar reconciliations with Egypt, “Israel”, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, French President Emmanuel Macron came to the region to obstruct what Erdogan is striving for, regionally and internationally.

Abu Dhabi was Macron’s main station, where he persuaded bin Zayed to buy 80 Rafale planes and 12 helicopters, and he agreed with him to coordinate and joint cooperation on all the issues discussed. This is what Macron reached during his talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, after winning his affection, because he is the first Western president to visit Saudi Arabia after the crime that targeted Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, which everyone blamed bin Salman for it. The duo’s contact with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati was the first fruit of this coordination and cooperation, and it was translated into practice through Saudi-French projects and plans backed by the United States, which will target Hezb Allah and through it Syria and then Iran.

As for Qatar (Erdogan will visit it on Sunday), which is Macron’s third station, Prince Tamim welcomed him warmly, perhaps as a response to the hospitality with which his ally Erdogan received his enemy Mohammed bin Zayed in Ankara, especially since Macron’s visit came two days after the agreement signed by Cyprus with Qatar National Petroleum Company and the American ExxonMobil Company for gas exploration in the vicinity of the island, this was strongly denounced by Ankara and pushed Erdogan to visit Doha (Sunday), especially since this signing came on the day the Turkish Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee ratified an agreement with Doha under which Ankara would allow 36 Qatari warplanes to come and stay in Turkish bases and fly in the Turkish air, in conjunction with the visit of Pope Francis to Cyprus and Greece.

This is in the narrow context of the competition between Erdogan and Macron, and it seems clear that it has acquired the character of direct hostility over the past few years. This explains the violent attack which was launched and is being launched by President Erdogan from time to time on Macron personally, and the latter responds to him with two strikes, without preventing them from reconciliation and warm hugs on various occasions, the most recent of which was the G20 summit in Rome at the end of last October, at a time when Paris was confronting President Erdogan’s plans and projects in many arenas, the most important of which are Libya, Somalia, and Karabakh, and after Ankara mobilized all its capabilities to compete, if not confront, the traditional French role in its former African colonies that Erdogan visits from time to time, and hosts their leaders In Turkey constantly, and without Erdogan neglecting the interest in the Turkish community in France, which numbers about 600,000, in an attempt to incite it and incite the Arab Islamists (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) and those residing in France and Europe in general against Macron.

The latter had previously accused the Turkish intelligence of adopting sabotage acts in his country and Europe in general, at a time when many see the position of Paris, which recognized the Ottoman genocide against the Armenians in 1915 and President Macron (in February 2019) announced the 24th of April of each year a day of national mourning in remembrance of this genocide, as one of the main causes of hostility between the two sides. While recalling the other reason, which has historical roots, as France and Britain occupied the land of Anatolia after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. France and Britain were a major party to the Sèvres Agreement (August 1920) and its goal was to establish a Kurdish state in the region.

With Ataturk’s rejection of this agreement and its failure after the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923, and Paris’s efforts to win Ankara’s friendship again, and through cooperation with it in the issue of the Alexandretta Strip (Liwa Iskandaron 1938 – 1939), the French interest in the Kurds remained one of the most important causes of apathy and tension between the two parties and still is. Paris has supported and continues to support the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, directly or indirectly, which is what it is doing with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units in Syria. Macron (last July) and Hollande (February 2015) received some of its military and political leaders at the Elysee.

As for the traditional support of France (along with the UAE, Egypt, “Israel” and sometimes Saudi Arabia) for Greece and the Greek Cypriots, it was also and still is one of the most important causes of apathy and tension between Ankara and Paris which is in solidarity with Nicosia and Athens in their differences with Ankara on many issues, The most important of these are the problems of territorial waters in the Aegean Sea, and the search and exploration for gas in the vicinity of Cyprus, which Ankara, on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots, objects to, and refuses to talk about the Armenian genocide.

While awaiting the results of the eighth round of the Iranian nuclear talks (and the visit of Faisal Miqdad and Tahnoon bin Zayed to Tehran on Sunday and Monday) and most importantly, the meeting of Presidents Biden and Putin (December 7), President Macron will continue his regional moves that he wants to achieve for Paris political, military, and economic gains on the eve of the upcoming presidential elections, and after he lost the submarine deal with Australia, with Britain and America plotting against him. The timing of these elections acquires another meaning for Turkey because its second round will be on April 24, the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Macron seeks to get out of these elections victorious, after achieving his goals in Lebanon in coordination with Riyadh which Mohammed bin Salman wants to return to a major party in the region’s equations in the face of other parties who took advantage of Saudi Arabia’s isolation after the Khashoggi’s crime and wanted to convince Washington that they are the most important. This explains the alliance of the Emirates and Qatar separately with Egypt and Turkey, the two regionally important and historically competing countries and ideological enemies who indirectly agree to confront the Iranian role in the region in general.

It also explains the alliance of everyone against Damascus at the beginning of the crisis in 2012 when Paris, London, Berlin, and Washington were in constant contact with Ankara to get rid of President Assad, and Erdogan predicted his downfall within months, saying in September 2012 that he would pray soon in the Umayyad Mosque. The calculations of everyone, led by Turkey and France, met in Syria and through it in Lebanon as if they were and are still saying all, including Macron and Erdogan, “My brother and I are against my cousin, and my cousin and I are against the stranger,” but without it being clear who the brother is and who the cousin is, and why ‘Lebanon the Resistance’ is the strange thing in the play of the West, in which everyone has his role according to the place and time determined by the author of the saying “I” who does not want anyone else to say “Me too”!

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إردوغان وماكرون.. بين المنافسة والعداء تفاهم واحد!

كانون الأول 5 2021

في انتظار مكالمة بايدن.. كيف يستعدّ إردوغان؟ | الصحيفة السياسية

المصدر: الميادين نت

حسني محلي

زيارة ماكرون إلى المنطقة تأتي لعرقلة ما يسعى من أجله إردوغان إقليمياً ودولياً. 

سبق لماكرون أن اتهم الاستخبارات التركية بتبنّي أعمال تخريبية في بلاده.

بعد أسبوع من زيارة “العدو الأكبر” محمد بن زايد لأنقرة وحديث الرئيس التركي رجب طيب إردوغان عن رغبته في تحقيق مصالحات مماثلة مع مصر و”إسرائيل” والسعودية والبحرين، جاء الرئيس الفرنسي إيمانويل ماكرون إلى المنطقة ليعرقل ما يسعى من أجله إردوغان إقليمياً ودولياً. 

كانت أبو ظبي محطة ماكرون الرئيسية، حيث أقنع ابن زايد بشراء 80 طائرة رافال و12 مروحية، واتفق وإياه على التنسيق والتعاون المشترك حول مجمل القضايا التي تمت مناقشتها. وهو ما توصّل إليه ماكرون خلال مباحثاته مع ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان، بعد أن كسب ودّه، لأنه أول رئيس غربي يزور السعودية بعد الجريمة التي استهدفت جمال خاشقجي في القنصلية السعودية في اسطنبول في تشرين الأول/أكتوبر 2018 وحمّل الجميع ابن سلمان مسؤوليتها. وكان اتصال الثنائي برئيس الوزراء اللبناني نجيب ميقاتي أولى ثمار هذا التنسيق والتعاون، وتمّت ترجمته عملياً عبر المشاريع والمخططات السعودية-الفرنسية المدعومة أميركياً، والتي ستستهدف حزب الله وعبرها سوريا ثم إيران.

وأما في قطر (يزورها إردوغان غداً الاثنين) وهي محطة ماكرون الثالثة، فقد رحّب الأمير تميم به ترحيباً حاراً، وربما كردّ على الحفاوة التي استقبل بها حليفه إردوغان عدوّه محمد بن زايد في أنقرة، وخاصة أن زيارة ماكرون جاءت بعد يومين من الاتفاقية التي وقّعتها قبرص مع الشركة الوطنية للبترول القطرية وشركة أكسون موبيل الأميركية للبحث والتنقيب عن الغاز في جوار الجزيرة، وهو ما استنكرته أنقرة بشدة ودفعت إردوغان إلى زيارة الدوحة (الأحد)، وخاصة أن هذا التوقيع جاء في اليوم الذي صادقت فيه لجنة العلاقات الخارجية في البرلمان التركي على اتفاقية مع الدوحة تسمح بموجبها أنقرة لـ 36 طائرة حربية قطرية بالمجيء والبقاء في القواعد التركية والتحليق في الأجواء التركية، بالتزامن مع زيارة بابا الفاتيكان فرنسيس لقبرص واليونان.

هذا في الإطار الضيّق من المنافسة بين إردوغان وماكرون، ويبدو واضحاً أنها قد اكتسبت طابع العداء المباشر خلال السنوات القليلة الماضية. ويفسّر ذلك الهجوم العنيف الذي شنّه ويشنّه الرئيس إردوغان بين الحين والحين على ماكرون شخصياً، فيردّ عليه الثاني الصاع صاعين، ومن دون أن يمنعهما ذلك من المصالحة والعناق الحار في المناسبات المختلفة، وآخرها قمة العشرين في روما نهاية تشرين الأول/أكتوبر الماضي، في الوقت الذي كانت فيه باريس تتصدى لمخططات الرئيس إردوغان ومشاريعه في العديد من الساحات، وأهمها ليبيا والصومال وكاراباخ، وبعد أن استنفرت أنقرة كل إمكانياتها لمنافسة، إن لم نقل مواجهة، الدور الفرنسي التقليدي في مستعمراتها الأفريقية السابقة التي يزورها إردوغان بين الحين والحين، ويستضيف زعماءها في تركيا باستمرار، ومن دون أن يهمل إردوغان الاهتمام بالجالية التركية في فرنسا وقوامها نحو 600 ألف، في محاولة منه لتحريضها وتحريض الإسلاميين العرب (المغرب والجزائر وتونس) والمقيمين في فرنسا وأوروبا عموماً ضد ماكرون.

 وسبق للأخير أن اتهم الاستخبارات التركية بتبنّي أعمال تخريبية في بلاده وأوروبا عموماً، في الوقت الذي يرى فيه الكثيرون في موقف باريس، التي اعترفت بالإبادة العثمانية ضد الأرمن عام  1915 وإعلان الرئيس ماكرون (في شباط/فبراير 2019) 24 نيسان/أبريل من كل عام، يوم حداد وطني إحياءً لذكرى هذه الإبادة، من أهم أسباب العداء بين الطرفين. مع التذكير بالسبب الآخر، وهو ذو جذور تاريخية، حيث كانت فرنسا ومعها بريطانيا تحتلان أرض الأناضول بعد سقوط الدولة العثمانية 1918. كما كانت فرنسا ومعها بريطانيا طرفاً أساسياً في اتفاقية سيفر (آب/أغسطس 1920) وهدفها إقامة دولة كردية في المنطقة. 

ومع تصدّي أتاتورك لهذه الاتفاقية وإفشالها بعد قيام الجمهورية التركية عام 1923 ومساعي باريس لكسب ودّ أنقرة من جديد، ومن خلال التعاون معها في قضية لواء اسكندرون (1938 – 1939) فقد بقي الاهتمام الفرنسي بالكرد من أهم أسباب الفتور والتوتر بين الطرفين وما زال. فقد دعمت باريس وما زالت تدعم حزب العمال الكردستاني بنحو مباشر أو غير مباشر، وهو ما تفعله مع وحدات حماية الشعب الكردية في سوريا، واستقبل ماكرون (تموز/يوليو الماضي) ومن قبله هولاند (شباط/فبراير 2015) البعض من قياداتها العسكرية والسياسية في الإليزيه. 

وأما دعم فرنسا (ومعها الإمارات ومصر و”إسرائيل” وأحيانا السعودية) التقليدي لليونان والقبارصة اليونانيين، فقد كان هو الآخر وما زال من أهم أسباب الفتور والتوتر بين أنقرة وباريس التي تتضامن مع نيقوسيا وأثينا في خلافاتهما مع أنقرة حول العديد من القضايا، وأهمها مشاكل المياه الإقليمية في بحر إيجة، والبحث والتنقيب عن الغاز في جوار قبرص، وهو ما تعترض عليه أنقرة، وباسم القبارصة الأتراك، كما ترفض الحديث عن إبادة الأرمن. 

ومع انتظار نتائج الجولة الثامنة من مباحثات النووي الإيراني (وزيارة فيصل المقداد وطحنون بن زايد لطهران الأحد والإثنين) والأهم من ذلك، لقاء الرئيسين بايدن وبوتين (7 كانون الأول/ديسمبر) سيستمر الرئيس ماكرون في تحركاته الإقليمية التي يريد لها أن تحقق لباريس مكاسب سياسية وعسكرية واقتصادية، عشيّة انتخابات الرئاسة المقبلة، وبعد أن خسر صفقة الغواصات مع أستراليا بتآمر من بريطانيا وأميركا ضده. ويكتسب التوقيت الزمني لهذه الانتخابات معنى آخر بالنسبة إلى تركيا، لأن جولتها الثانية ستكون في 24 نيسان/أبريل، ذكرى الإبادة الأرمنية.

ويسعى ماكرون للخروج من هذه الانتخابات منتصراً، بعد أن يحقق أهدافه في لبنان بالتنسيق مع الرياض، التي يريد لها محمد بن سلمان أن تعود طرفاً رئيسياً في معادلات المنطقة، في مواجهة الأطراف الآخرين الذين استغلوا عزلة السعودية بعد جريمة خاشقجي، وأرادوا أن يقنعوا واشنطن بأنهم الأهم. ويفسّر ذلك تحالف الإمارات وقطر على حدة مع مصر وتركيا الدولتين المهمتين إقليميا والمتنافستين تاريخياً والعدوتين عقائدياً والمتفقتين بنحو غير مباشر على مواجهة الدور الإيراني في المنطقة عموماً.

ويفسّر أيضاً تحالف الجميع ضد دمشق في بداية الأزمة عام 2012 عندما كانت باريس ولندن وبرلين وواشنطن على اتصال دائم مع أنقرة للتخلص من الرئيس الأسد، وتوقّع إردوغان سقوطه خلال أشهر، ليقول في أيلول/سبتمبر 2012 “إنه سيصلّي قريباً في الجامع الأموي”. فالتقت حسابات الجميع، وفي مقدمتهم تركيا وفرنسا، في سوريا وعبرها في لبنان، وكأنهم كانوا وما زالوا يقولون جميعاً، بمن فيهم ماكرون وإردوغان، “أنا وأخي على ابن عمي وأنا وابن عمي عالغريب”، ولكن من دون أن يكون واضحاً من هو الأخ ومن هو ابن العم، ولماذا لبنان المقاومة هو الغريب في مسرحية الغرب التي لكلٍ فيها دوره بحسب المكان والزمان اللذين يحدّدهما صاحب مقولة “أنا” ولا يريد لأحد غيره أن يقول “وأنا أيضاً”! 

Moroccans Rally Calling For End to Rabat’s Normalization with ‘Israel’

Dec 1, 2021

By Staff, Agencies

Angry Moroccans against the butchers of the Palestinian children and those normalizing the savagery in the garb of lucrative military deals on Monday took to the streets in several cities across the country to protest Rabat’s normalization of ties with the Zionist regime and recent military agreements signed between the two sides.

The protesters, including activists and ordinary people, took part in large-scale protests in the cities of Oujda, Berkane, Ben Slimane, Beni-Mellal and Oulad Teima on Monday.

The demonstrators chanted vociferous anti-‘Israel’ slogans, calling for an end to normalization of relations between Rabat and Tel Aviv and voicing their support for the Palestinian cause.

The Moroccan police, however, foiled a similar protest by pro-Palestinian groups in the capital Rabat on Monday, using brute force, according to reports.

The demonstrations protested under the banner of “The Moroccan Front to Support Palestine and against Normalization”, denouncing recent bonhomie between the ‘Israeli’ occupation regime and Morocco.

They also condemned the visit of Benny Gantz, the Zionist war minister, to Morocco and rejected any collaboration with “the enemies of the Palestinian people.”

The pro-Palestine demonstrators said any cooperation with the Tel Aviv regime constitutes a threat to Morocco and the whole region.

Gantz visited Rabat last week, his first known visit to one of the Arab states that normalized ties last year, during which the two sides signed a military agreement and a pact that would see the occupation regime sell drones and weapons to Morocco.

In a statement, Gantz said that the agreement was “very significant and will allow us to exchange ideas, enter joint projects and enable ‘Israeli’ military exports here.”

Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan signed agreements to normalize relations with Tel Aviv in 2020 as part of the so-called ‘Abraham Accords’, brokered by the previous US administration.

The normalization deals sparked widespread protests in these countries, pointing to the overwhelming divide between the rulers and the people, and have also been condemned by all Palestinian political factions, who have termed it a betrayal of their cause.

Monday’s protests coincided with the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, an annual day dedicated to expression of solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine.

Four Nightmares Yemen Is Causing “Israel” to Have

17 Nov 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

Mohammad Faraj

This is not poetry nor mere exaggerations with the hope of spreading false hope. It is the reality of the Yemeni geographic revenge against the occupation.

Israeli technology is one of the most important sources of input for the Neom project, which heavily relies on stability that cannot be attained without securing the Red Sea itself.

For the UAE, Bahrain, “Israel,” and the United States to launch maritime military exercises is no show of force; it is a reflection of deep concern and misgiving, primarily that of “Israel.”

“Israel” is dealing with four nightmares in the Red Sea, and Yemen seems to be their common thread.

The first nightmare: “We will strike critical targets.” That is how Ansar Allah responded last year to “Israel’s” comment on the situation in Yemen. Ansar Allah’s words were not just mere lip service, for Yemeni drones and Sanaa’s missile capabilities pose a genuine threat to the occupation on the Red Sea front, which has been confirmed by various Israeli military research centers.

Throughout the entirety of the Yemeni Army and Popular Committee-controlled Yemen, threatening “Eilat” is not any harder than threatening Saudi Aramco – that is Ari Heistein’s approach, a researcher in the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies. Though Heistein underrates the Yemeni threat, he acknowledges that Ansar Allah is able to use long-range missiles to hit targets from very far ranges. He sums up the whole situation with a single phrase: “It is realistic; however, it is limited.”

The precarious aspect of “limitation” stems from one basic angle: long-range missiles would grant the Israeli defense systems a certain margin of time to respond. This study was written two weeks ahead of the battle of Seif al-Quds, which proved that the issues in the Israeli defense systems do not solely rely on preparation, for what merits preparation more than a war?

The second nightmare: during the 1967 war, “Israel” experienced firsthand the repercussions of the Suez Canal and the Straits of Tiran being closed, so what could be the adverse effects of a farther passage – Bab-el-Mandeb Strait – being closed?

Closing Bab-el-Mandeb Strait in the face of Israeli vessels could seriously harm Israeli trade, both in terms of imports and exports. India is the largest Israeli arms importer in the world, importing 43% of “Israel’s” arms exports between 2016 and 2020, while Vietnam is the third-largest in the world, importing 12% of “Israel’s” arms exports.

Arms exports are a vital part of the Israeli economy, as “Israel” ranks eighth in the world in terms of arms exports, exporting 3% of the world’s arms. Therefore, closing Bab-el-Mandeb in the face of Israeli ships, one of the main pillars of the Israeli economy, heavily impacts the lives of Israeli settlers, whom the Israeli authorities need many temptations to keep in place.

The Israeli economy heavily relies on imported goods, which cross through the Indian Ocean through Bab-el-Mandeb. “Israel” might experience a situation that is opposite to the one it went through during the October 1973 war, which saw “Israel” suffering because of Bab-el-Mandeb being closed in the face of Iranian tankers transporting oil to “Israel” back when Iran was under the Shah. Today, “Israel” is extremely worried about the same strait standing in solidarity with revolutionary Iran.

The third nightmare: “Israel” dreams about having coastal tourist-attractive cities, and they are part of its plans for the future, firstly due to profits they would generate, and secondly due to the doors they could open for normalization.

Carnegie Center calls this project “The diplomacy of the Saudi Neom.” Neom city is at the heart of this project, and Israeli technology is one of the most important sources of input for this project, which requires high levels of stability that cannot be attained without stability in the Red Sea. Losing the opportunity of having military stability in the Red Sea means “Israel” would lose its economic opportunities in these “smart cities.”

The fourth nightmare: China aims to ensure the finest conditions for stability in the regions and straits through which the Belt and Road Initiative goes. By taking a look at a map of the initiative, one sees that Bab-el-Mandeb is a pivotal intermediate link for its success. The same initiative deems the Haifa port as less of a priority in terms of pathways into the Mediterranean sea, especially because it has many alternatives.

“Israel,” who is acting very cautiously in fear of the US aims to please China, hopes to reap the utmost benefits from the project. However, Bab-el-Mandeb could seriously harm “Israel” if China was put in a zero-sum game. “Israel” would lose a railway that connects “Eilat” and “Ashdod” and huge gas pipelines that would transmit energy through the occupied territories and supply them with energy as well.

This is the Yemeni geographic revenge from the occupation, as the four Yemeni nightmares are enough to shake “Isreal” to the core in terms of the occupation’s security and economy.

Jewish-American Group Visits Saudi Arabia to Advance Normalization with ‘Israel’

Nov 5, 2021

Jewish-American Group Visits Saudi Arabia to Advance Normalization with ‘Israel’

By Staff, Agencies

A Jewish-American group visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recently to advance the normalization of ties between the kingdom and the ‘Israeli’ occupation regime, with a member of the group predicting a deal in the coming months or year.

The delegation, consisting of 20 Jewish-American leaders, met with senior Saudi officials, including at least six government ministers and top representatives of the Saudi royal house, according to Zionist media.

The visit came at the invitation of the Saudis and with the support of the Biden administration, after a visit to the UAE – the first Arab country that normalized its relations with the occupation regime in 2020 – in order to strengthen bilateral ties.

“The Saudis are preparing their citizens for normalization with ‘Israel’,” said Jewish-American businessman Phil Rosen, a member of the delegation, ‘Israeli’ Ynet news website reported.

Rosen also said he “would not be surprised if we see normalization between Saudi Arabia and the Tel Aviv occupation regime in the coming months or year.”

Under US-pushed normalization deals, a number of Arab countries, including the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco, have agreed to establish official diplomatic ties with the apartheid entity.

The normalization accords, however, have been denounced by Palestinians the people of the region as “treacherous”, and sparked protests in the countries that signed them.

In recent weeks, the Zionist regime has approved plans for more than 1,700 new illegal units in the East al-Quds settlements of Givat Hamatos and Pisgat Zeev.

In a statement on Wednesday, UN experts condemned the regime’s illegal expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East al-Quds as “the engine of the occupation” and hold the Zionist entity responsible for a wide range of rights violations against the Palestinian people.

Al-Manar, Al-Masirah Channels Launch Friday Extensive Documentation of Saudi-led Aggression Massacres on Yemen: Video

October 28, 2021

Al-Manar and Al-Masirah TV Channels are scheduled to launch an extensive documentation project which records all the massacres committed by the US-Saudi-led forces and mercenaries in Yemen.

An interactive map will come-to-light on the official websites of the two TV channels at 8 p.m. and reveal in an innovative way the massacres committed by the aggression with all the available data and figures.

The interactive map is aimed at preserving and perpetuating the sacrifices of the Yemeni civilians before the Saudi-led aggression.

“So as Rights Remain Preserved,” was the motto of the documentation that represents a reference for right activists, academicals, media outlets and public opinion, using photos, videos and demonstration tools.

Al-Manar English Website is also part of the project and will display the interactive map with data translated in English. Click here.

Yemen has been since March 25, 2015 under aggression by the Saudi-led coalition in a bid to restore power to fugitive president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is Riyadh’s ally.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis have been killed or injured by US-Saudi-led airstrikes.

The Arab impoverished country has been also under harsh blockade by the coalition which includes in addition to the Kingdom, the UAE, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco and Sudan.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

Documentation Project of Yemen Massacres

Saturday – October 29, 2021

Massacres Map of the Saudi-American aggression on Yemen

Introduction:

This work is one of the largest documentation projects that records massacres committed since the start of the Saudi-US aggression on Yemen, on March 26, 2015, based on information released by well-known sources.

We assure, through this project, that the blood of Yemen’s oppressed martyrs and injured will persist in the conscience of the free people. This blood will also constitute a mark of disgrace for all who contributed to the bloodshed in Yemen.

Objective:

Documentation of widespread massacres perpetrated by the Saudi-US aggression across Yemen through an interactive and innovated map that can be considered a reference to rights activists, media outlets and journalists as well as to specialists and public opinion.

Definition of a Massacre:

A killing is considered a massacre in this project when at least one civilian gets martyred by Saudi-led aggression fire.

Map Characteristics:

  • Every dot on the map represents a massacre
  • Dots are classified by colors, every color refers to a year
  • The color of dots gets bolder as per the number of martyrs
  • Every massacre is recorded according to:
    • Date of the massacre
    • Place of the massacre
    • News summary
    • Link of the news story
    • Number of martyrs
    • Number of injured
    • Related photos and video (if available)
  • The map allows the search feature according to:
    • Place of the massacre (mainly provinces)
    • Date of the massacre
    • Keywords
  • Yemeni Center for Human Rights was considered the main source regarding the number of victims. Hence, there would be an overlap between the toll which appears on the map and the news summary
  • Areas where the massacre occurred are approximate

Characteristics of the Interactive Frontpage:

  • Represents statistical reference to massacres
  • The map is the source for figures on the frontpage

Notes:

We don’t claim that this project has covered all massacres committed by the US-Saudi aggression on Yemen. Therefore, we are glad to receive any addition, either on the level of massacres or the visual material at: yemen-map@almanar.com.lb

Thanks to all who contributed to this work.

Abandoning Yemen? UNHRC Action Silences Yemeni Victims of Human Rights Abuses

October 16, 2021

Activists practice “physical distancing” at a Saturday morning vigil for Peace in Yemen, Union Square, NYC (Photo: Bill Ofenloch, Supplied)

By Kathy Kelly

Monday, October 11, marked the official closure of the UN Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen (also known as the Group of Experts or GEE). For nearly four years, this investigative group examined alleged human rights abuses suffered by Yemenis whose basic rights to food, shelter, safety, health care and education were horribly violated, all while they were bludgeoned by Saudi and US air strikes, drone attacks, and constant warfare since 2014.

“This is a major setback for all victims who have suffered serious violations during the armed conflict,” the GEE wrote in a statement the day after the UN Human Rights Council refused to extend a mandate for continuation of the group’s work. “The Council appears to be abandoning the people of Yemen,” the statement says, adding that “Victims of this tragic armed conflict should not be silenced by the decision of a few States.”

Prior to the vote, there were indications that Saudi Arabia and its allies, such as Bahrain (which sits on the UN Human Rights Council), had increased lobbying efforts worldwide in a bid to do away with the Group of Experts. Actions of the Saudi-led coalition waging war against Yemen had been examined and reported on by the Group of Experts. Last year, the Saudi bid for a seat on the Human Rights Council was rejected, but Bahrain serves as its proxy.

Bahrain is a notorious human rights violator and a staunch member of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-led coalition which buys billions of dollars worth of weaponry from the United States and other countries to bomb Yemen’s infrastructure, kill civilians, and displace millions of people.

The Group of Experts was mandated to investigate violations committed by all warring parties. So it’s possible that the Ansar Allah leadership, often known as the Houthis, also wished to avoid the group’s scrutiny. The Group of Experts’ mission has come to an end, but the fear and intimidation faced by Yemeni victims and witnesses continues.

Mwatana for Human Rights, an independent Yemeni organization established in 2007, advocates for human rights by reporting on issues such as the torture of detainees, grossly unfair trials, patterns of injustice, and starvation by warfare through the destruction of farms and water sources. Mwatana had hoped the UN Human Rights Council would grant the Group of Experts a multi-year extension. Members of Mwatana fear their voice will be silenced within the United Nations if the Human Rights Council’s decision is an indicator of how much the council cares about Yemenis.

“The GEE is the only independent and impartial mechanism working to deter war crimes and other violations by all parties to the conflict,” said Radhya Almutawakel, Chairperson of Mwatana for Human Rights. She believes that doing away with this body will give a green light to continue violations that condemn millions in Yemen to “‘unremitting violence, death and constant fear.’”

The Yemen Data Project, founded in 2016, is an independent entity aiming to collect data on the conduct of the war in Yemen. Their most recent monthly report tallied the number of air raids in September, which had risen to the highest monthly rate since March.

Sirwah, a district in the Marib province, was—for the ninth consecutive month—the most heavily targeted district in Yemen, with twenty-nine air raids recorded throughout September. To get a sense of scale, imagine a district the size of three city neighborhoods being bombed twenty-nine times in one month.

Intensified fighting has led to large waves of displacement within the governorate, and sites populated by soaring numbers of refugees are routinely impacted by shelling and airstrikes. Pressing humanitarian needs include shelter, food, water, sanitation, hygiene, and medical care. Without reports from the Yemen Data Project, the causes of the dire conditions in Sirwah could be shrouded in secrecy. This is a time to increase, not abandon, attention to Yemenis trapped in war zones.

In early 1995, I was among a group of activists who formed a campaign called Voices in the Wilderness to publicly defy economic sanctions against Iraq. Some of us had been in Iraq during the 1991 US-led Operation Desert Storm invasion. The United Nations reported that hundreds of thousands of children under age five had already died and that the economic sanctions contributed to these deaths. We felt compelled to at least try to break the economic sanctions against Iraq by declaring our intent to bring medicines and medical relief supplies to Iraqi hospitals and families.

But to whom would we deliver these supplies?

Voices in the Wilderness founders agreed that we would start by contacting Iraqis in our neighborhoods and also try to connect with groups concerned with peace and justice in the Middle East. So I began asking Iraqi shopkeepers in my Chicago neighborhood for advice; they were understandably quite wary.

One day, as I walked away from a shopkeeper who had actually given me an extremely helpful phone number for a parish priest in Baghdad, I overheard another customer ask what that was all about. The shopkeeper replied: “Oh, they’re just a group of people trying to make a name for themselves.”

I felt crestfallen. Now, twenty-six years later, it’s easy for me to understand his reaction. Why should anyone trust people as strange as we must have seemed?

No wonder I’ve felt high regard for the UN Group of Experts who went to bat for human rights groups struggling for “street cred” regarding Yemen.

When Yemeni human rights advocates try to sound the alarm about terrible abuses, they don’t just face hurt feelings when met with antagonism. Yemeni human rights activists have been jailed, tortured, and disappeared. Yemen’s civil society activists do need to make a name for themselves.

On October 7, the day the UN Human Rights Council voted not to continue the role of the Group of Experts with regard to Yemen, the United Nations agreed to set up an investigative group to monitor the Taliban. However, the agreement assured the United States and NATO that abuses committed under their command would not be subject to investigation.

Politicizing UN agencies and procedures makes it all the more difficult for people making inquiries to establish trusting relationships with people whose rights should be upheld by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights.

When I was approaching shopkeepers for ideas about people we might contact in Iraq, I was just beginning to grapple with Professor Noam Chomsky’s essays about “worthy victims” and “unworthy victims.”

That second phrase seemed to me a terrible oxymoron. How could a victim of torture, bereavement, hunger, displacement, or disappearance be an “unworthy victim?” Over the next thirty years, I grew to understand the cruel distinction between worthy and unworthy victims.

A powerful country or group can use the plight of “worthy victims” to build support for war or military intervention. The “unworthy victims” also suffer, but because their stories could lead people to question the wisdom of a powerful country’s attacks on civilians, stories about those victims are likely to fade away.

Consider, in Afghanistan, the plight of those who survived an August 29 US drone attack against the family of Zamari Ahmadi. Ten members of the family were killed. Seven were children. As of October 13, the family had not yet heard anything from the United States.

I greatly hope Mwatana, The Yemen Data Project, The Yemen Foundation, and all of the journalists and human rights activists passionately involved in opposing the war that rages in Yemen are recognized and become names that occasion respect, gratitude, and support. I hope they’ll continue documenting violations and abuse. But I know their work on the ground in Yemen will now be even more dangerous.

Meanwhile, the lobbyists who’ve served the Saudi government so well have certainly made a name for themselves in Washington, D.C., and beyond.

Grassroots activists committed to ending human rights abuses must uphold solidarity with civil society groups defending human rights in Yemen and Afghanistan. Governments waging war and protecting human rights abusers must immediately end their pernicious practices.

In the United States, peace activists must tell the military contractors, lobbyists, and elected representatives: “Not in our name!” With no strings attached, the US government should be proactive and end war forever.

– Kathy Kelly (kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org). She contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle. This article first appeared in The Progressive magazine and was contributed to The Palestine Chronicle

Nothing Normal About Normalization

October 5, 2021

Bahrain anti-normalization protest
Bahraini demonstrators protest against normalization with the Zionist entity in Bahraini capital, Manama last week.

Ragheb Malli*

Israeli NSO’s Pegasus spyware hits headlines yet again, however this time, used by Bahrain to spy on human rights activists. According to the Canadian Citizen Lab Institute, the victims included 9 human rights activists from 3 different organizations; 2 of which have voluntarily exiled in England. Other than the more blatant issue of normalization with ‘Israel’, the joint endeavor in capturing human rights activists sets a prime example of the brutality and oppression that was not needed in the already repressive state in which human rights activists live in Bahrain.

The three movements targeted were Al-Wefaq, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and Waad, some of which are often labelled as ‘terrorist organizations’. The attacks occurred between June 2020 and February 2021. The Canadian Citizen’s Lab revealed that the Israeli NSO’s Pegasus Spyware has developed a ‘no-click’ hacking system which is revolutionary, since in the typical espionage circumstances, a link is sent to the victim’s phone, under the guise of a genuine link, in this case – a DHL message to the victims’ iPhones. Contrary to iPhone’s claim that their security is solid, the Pegasus spyware were seemingly able to bypass their strongest security feature ‘BlastDoor’.

Israeli NSO claims no responsibility, as expected, demanding the release of evidence the Canadian Citizen Lab claim to hold – as it has done previously at every accusation stop, including the 2019 WhatsApp lawsuit against them that is still presently ongoing.

It must be said that amidst all these so-called new headlines, there really is nothing new about it at all. Bahrain has been investing in spyware and espionage techniques since 2010; and although normalization with Israel only occurred last year, truth dictates that relations between the two preceded, as NSO cyber programs were purchased by Bahrain since 2017.

As normalization with ‘Israel’ spreads in the Middle East, control of the rebelling population has become even more of a priority. Pegasus, ‘the most powerful piece of spyware ever developed,’ as the Guardian described it, is crucial in controlling and repressing any powerful uprisings and rebellion; which is why it expectedly will grow and intensify as time goes by. Nevertheless, although Pegasus is evolving rapidly, it being Israeli is far more cause for concern. A concern that, unfortunately has begun to infiltrate the Middle East officially for all to see and being labelled as normal helping aid. It is not normal. It will never be normal.

*Ragheb Malli is a researcher for the Gulf Institute of Democracy and Human Rights and also a London-based social media activist for human rights.

Al-Manar.com.lb is not responsible for the content of this article. All opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

Tehran Slams Zionist FM’s Bahrain Visit: ‘Unremovable Stain’ Left on Bahraini Rulers’ Reputation

October 1, 2021

Tehran Slams Zionist FM’s Bahrain Visit: ‘Unremovable Stain’ Left on Bahraini Rulers’ Reputation

By Staff, Agencies

Iran slammed Bahrain’s “despicable” welcoming of Zionist foreign minister Yair Lapid to Manama, considering it at odds with the will of the Bahraini people, stressing that the visit left an “unremovable stain” on the reputation of the tiny Gulf country’s rulers.

In a statement on Friday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh denounced the move, saying any scheme to bolster the ‘Israeli’ regime’s “destructive presence” in the region will escalate regional tensions and instability.

Lapid Bahrain airport
Israeli FM Yair Lapid arrives to Bahrain International Airport on Muharraq Island, adjacent to the capital Manama, on September 30, 2021.

Lapid arrived in Bahrain on Thursday to open the Zionist occupation entity’s embassy in Manama and sign cooperation deals with the Arab country.

He met Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

Lapid’s visit to Bahrain is aimed at advancing the US-pushed normalization deals between the Zionist entity and a number of Arab countries, including the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

Khatibzadeh lamented Bahrain’s ignoring of the Zionist regime’s daily atrocities against the oppressed yet resistant people of Palestine.

“Such actions will not give a boost to the legitimacy of the Zionist regime and will not affect the ideal of liberating al-Quds al-Sharif as the first qibla of the world’s Muslims,” he said.

Khatibzadeh also emphasized that Bahraini rulers will not be able to remove the mark of disgrace.

“The people of the region will continue to oppose the process of normalization of relations with the Zionist regime,” he added.

On Thursday night, Bahraini people staged protests against Lapid’s visit, holding placards condemning normalization with the ‘Israeli’ entity.

The protesters shouted “Down with ‘Israel’” and “Get out of Bahrain” to protest the normalization of ties with Tel Aviv, local media reported.

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To A Wider Prison: Bahraini Regime Conditionally Releases Some Political Prisoners

September 16, 2021 

To A Wider Prison: Bahraini Regime Conditionally Releases Some Political Prisoners

By Staff, Agencies

As if the Bahraini regime is just sending political prisoners from small cells to a wider prison…

The Bahraini regime has conditionally released 30 prisoners under new rules allowing electronic monitoring and home detention instead, the government and activists said on Wednesday. Almost all those freed are considered political detainees by rights groups.

The Gulf state has imprisoned thousands of protesters, journalists and activists – some in mass trials – since an anti-government uprising in 2011. It says it prosecutes those who commit crimes in accordance with international law, and rejects criticism from the United Nations and others over the conduct of trials and detention conditions.

Under a 2017 “alternative sentences” law prisoners who had served at least half their sentence in jail were allowed to complete it outside via measures including community service, rehabilitation courses and electronic surveillance.

Last week, the king amended the law to allow a switch to non-custodial punishments at any point in a sentence.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, a Bahraini activist in exile who heads the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy [BIRD], said 27 of those released this week were political prisoners, and many had been detained when they were juveniles.

“However, they will continue to face severe restrictions on their liberty and these rare releases remain overshadowed by the continued incarceration of hundreds of political prisoners in Bahrain,” said Alwadaei. He called on the government to unconditionally release all political detainees.

One of those released on Sunday night was Kameel Juma Hasan, who was arrested at age 14 and sentenced to 28 years in 2019. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention [WGAD] in May said it considered him to have been arbitrarily detained.

Documents seen by Reuters show some release offer conditions including devices to monitor movements and bans on speaking to the press, using social media or any political activities.

Hassan Mushaima, who was arrested in 2011 and jailed for life for anti-government protests, declined a conditional release offer this week, his son Ali Mushaima told Reuters.

Several high-profile government critics remain in prison, including Abduljalil al-Singace who has been on hunger strike for more than 60 days.

Leading human rights activist Nabeel Rajab was released under the alternative sentence law in June 2020.

BIRD estimates that there are over 1,400 political prisoners out of a total prison population in Bahrain of around 3200-3800.

On Wednesday the public prosecution claimed it was considering alternative sentences for six children, without elaborating.

Earlier this year prisoners and security forces clashed inside Jaw prison, and families protested outside, after COVID-19 outbreaks.

Protests across Bahrain against Normalization

 September 3, 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Al Mayadeen

Protests broke out across Bahrain rejecting normalization with “Israel” and denouncing the appointment of the Bahraini Ambassador to the occupation entity.

Protesters hold signs in support of the Palestinian cause

Protests took place in various regions across Bahrain, rejecting normalization with “Israel” and denouncing the appointment of the Bahraini Ambassador to the occupation entity.

The demonstration in the Abu Saiba area, which chanted “together we stand against normalization,” witnessed protesters burning the Israeli flag and affirming their solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Similar protests were witnessed in the regions of Al Markh, Sanabis, and Samaheej.

NSO Group’s Spyware Used on Bahraini Activists – Report

August 25, 2021

NSO Group’s Spyware Used on Bahraini Activists - Report

By Staff, Agencies

In the course of violating human rights in the Bahraini kingdom, nine activists from Bahrain had their iPhones hacked by advanced spyware made by the ‘Israeli’ company NSO Group, the world’s most notorious hacker-for-hire firm, a cybersecurity watchdog reported on Tuesday.

Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto said NSO Group’s Pegasus malware successfully hacked the phones between June 2020 and February 2021. Those reportedly hacked included members of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and two political dissidents living in exile. At least one of the activists lived in London when the hacking occurred, Citizen Lab said.

Citizen Lab said it has “high confidence” that at least four of the activists were hacked by the Bahraini government, which has a history of using commercially available spyware.

One of the activists targeted is Moosa Mohammed, who said he was previously a victim of spyware, in 2012.

“When I fled torture and persecution in Bahrain, I thought I would find safety in London but have continued to face surveillance and physical attacks by Gulf regimes,” he said.

The government of Bahrain, a tiny island kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia that’s home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, has a long history of suppressing dissent. Bahrain’s National Communication Centre dismissed Citizen Lab’s findings as “misguided” and said in a statement the country is committed to safeguarding individual rights and freedoms.

NSO Group said in a statement that it had not yet seen the report, but questioned Citizen Lab’s methods and motives. “If NSO receives reliable information related to the misuse of the system, the company will vigorously investigate the claims and act accordingly,” the company said.

Citizen Lab found that in some instances the malware infected targeted iPhones without the users taking any action — what’s known as a zero-click vulnerability.

Bill Marczak of Citizen Lab said the exploits worked against a recent versions of the iPhone’s operating system, adding that there’s “no indication that the bugs exploited have been fixed.”

Ivan Krstic, head of Apple Security Engineering and Architecture, said such attacks are costly and often have a short shelf life. “They are not a threat to the overwhelming majority of our users,” he said in a statement, adding that Apple constantly adds new protections for its devices and data.

The new report is the latest unwelcome news for NSO Group. The firm was the focus of recent reports by a media consortium that found the company’s spyware tool Pegasus was used in several instances of successful or attempted phone hacks of business executives, human rights activists and others around the world.

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