الاستعمار العسكري المباشر هل يعود إلى المشرق…؟

سبتمبر 19, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

دول المشرق تستنجد مجدداً بالمستعمر الغربي لحماية أنظمتها السياسية من الانهيار بتدخلٍ عسكري مباشر ومكشوف يضاف الى سلسلة قواعده المنتشرة منذ سبعة عقود تقريباً في النقاط الاكثر استراتيجية في المنطقة.

هكذا حال كل المعادلات السياسية الضعيفة التي لا تؤمن الا بحراب المستعمر لحماية مشيخاتها وإماراتها وملكياتها وتتجاهل شعوبها بإفقار وتجهيل لا مثيل لهما في حركة التاريخ.

فمن يصدّق ان بلداناً غنية بمستوى الخليج لا تصنع شيئاً سوى احتراف السيطرة على مجتمعاتها بالدين والقمع وقليل من الذهب المنثور، لكن هذه الوسائل لم تعد تكفي، فلا بد اذاً من العودة الى الخدمات المباشرة للمستعمرين اصحاب المصلحة بالدفاع عن مستعمرات تكتنز معدلات قياسية من النفط والغاز والقدرة على استهلاك الصناعات الغربية والموقع الاستراتيجي.

إلا انّ هناك استثناءات على هذه المعادلة في سورية التي تقاتل دولتها ضدّ عودة الاستعمار المتسربل بأدوات إرهاب داخلية وعالمية وإقليمية.

وكذلك اليمن الثائر على استعمار سعودي خليجي يغطي الاستعمار الأميركي الفعلي، والعراق المجابه لاستعمارين مباشرين، الأميركي والتركي واعوانهما من تنظيمات ارهابية وعرقية.

اما إيران فلا تزال منذ اربعة عقود تتصدّى لحملات عسكرية واقتصادية تستهدف إعادة إخضاعها للمستعمرين.

لجهة تركيا فلا تنتمي الى تلك الاستثناءات لانها «تستضيف» على اراضيها قواعد نووية وعسكرية أميركية واخرى لحلف الناتو، على الرغم من تماسك دولتها وقوة جيشها، لكنها آثرت الاتكاء على خدمات المستعمرين بتبرير الانتماء الى حلف واحد في وجه العدو السوفياتي حينه.

للتوضيح فإن الاستعمار العسكري الغربي المباشر رحل عن المشرق محتفظاً بقواعد في معظم الخليج والاردن انما بأشكال مختلفة تقاطعت مع هيمنة اقتصادية كاملة، وهذه هي أهداف الاستعمار الباحث دوماً عن المصادر الاقتصادية المتنوعة.

لذلك بدت بلدان المشرق في السبعين سنة المنصرمة وكأنها مستقلة شكلاً تديرها شبكة من عائلات وقوى منتمية الى محور السياسة الغربية من دون أي نقاش ومع رجحان كبير لمحورها الأميركي.

هذا ما جعل الحماية الغربية المعنوية والمباشرة قادرة على إجهاض اي محاولات تغيير فعلية في المنطقة العربية.

لكن انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي استولد فرصة تاريخية ليحاول الأميركيون إعادة تشكيل المشرق على نحو مستسلم غير قادر على إحداث اي تغيير لمدة طويلة.

فابتدأوا باحتلال افغانستان قافزين مباشرة من آسيا الوسطى الى المشرق باحتلال العراق في 2003 ولمزاعم تبين أنها كاذبة وادت الى مئات آلاف القتلى من دون ان تتجرأ قوة واحدة على انتقاد الأميركيين.

واستكمالاً لخطتهم حاولوا تدمير سورية بالارهاب وقواهم المباشرة والاسناد الاقليمي العربي بالتمويل والتركي بالتدريب والحدود والخدمات اللوجستية والاحتلال المباشر والاسرائيلي بالغارات الجوية.

إلا ان هذه المخططات لم تنجح في سورية والعراق فبدت الحرب على اليمن وسيلة اضافية وضرورية بموازاة خطة تقسيم العراق وإضعافه وسيلة اساسية لحماية البقرة الخليجية الحلوب من كامل الاتجاهات.

بدوره تصدّى اليمن المتواضع الإمكانات والكبير بتاريخه، لأوسع عدوان خليجي عربي أميركي غربي ناقلاً المعارك الى ميادين السعودية بإصابته عشرات المرات لمصافي نفطية ومطارات ومواقع عسكرية وإدارية.

ان مثل هذا القصف وضع الأنظمة الخليجية وتغطيتها الأميركية أمام حقائق مذهلة، فلا سورية سقطت ولا تمزقت وسورية لم تتفتت وتبين بوضوح أن دول الخليج عاجزة عن الدفاع عن انظمتها حتى امام القوى المتواضعة في اليمن، فكيف يكون حالها مع العراق او سورية، وانكشف ان مصر والاردن وباكستان تؤيد الخليج خطابياً لان مشاكلها الداخلية والخارجية لا تسمح لهم ارسال قوات اليه.

هناك قلق أميركي إضافي من احتمال انفجارات شعبية داخلية في الخليج قادرة على بناء تغيير فعلي في انظمته الحاكمة.

لقد تزامنت هذه التحليلات الخليجية الأميركية مع قصف يمني لمصافي بقيق وخريص اللتين تنتجان ستة ملايين برميل اي نصف الإنتاج السعودي النفطي المرتبط بالاقتصاد الغربي بشكل كامل. فوجدها الغرب الأميركي فرصة تاريخية جديدة يلعب بها على الضعف الخليجي بمحاولة رفع مستوى استفادته منه، والزعم انه عائد للدفاع عنه، وهذا يتطلب ارسالاً سريعاً لقوى برية وجوية وبحرية انما ليس بالأعداد الكبيرة لان الحروب اليوم تقتصد في البنى العسكرية البشرية لمصلحة استعمال آليات الحرب الحديثة والمتطورة التي تعتمد بشكل شبه كامل على الوسائل المادية المتطورة. لجهة أنظمة الخليج المذعورة فهي مستعدة للتغطية المادية والسياسية واستعمال فقه ديني تزعم انه إسلامي لتسهيل حركة هذا الاستعمار الجديد ولتوسيع مشروعه، اتهم الغرب الأميركي إيران بقصف المصفاتين على الرغم من ان خبراء عسكريين غربيين أكدوا ان الحصار على اليمن بمنع اي حركة بشرية بحراً وبراً، معتبرين ان خبراء إيرانيين علموا اليمنيين فنون صناعة المسيَّرات بما فيها المتطورة القادرة على اجتياز اكثر من الف كيلومتر وهذا هو التحليل العلمي الصحيح والذي يبرر لليمنيين الدفاع عن وطنهم في وجه أي عدوان خارجي.

من جهته، يستنجد هذا الخليج بالأميركيين عن طريق اثارة خوفهم على مصالحهم الاقتصادية عنده، او بالإيحاء من خطر تغييرات داخلية لن تكون بالطبع لصالح استمرار الهيمنة الغربية على دول الخليج وثرواتها.

يتبين بالمحصلة ان الأميركيين يبتعدون عن فكرة الحرب على إيران مع ميلهم لنشر قوات غربية في مواجهتها على السواحل السعودية والاماراتية استكمالاً لقواعدهم في الكويت والبحرين وقطر والاردن، فبهذه الطريقة يعود الاستعمار المباشر الى كامل جزيرة العرب بنفقات مرتفعة تتحمّل وزرها الدول المحتلة.

فهل لهذه القوات وظائف اكبر؟ يعرف البيت الأبيض انه لا يستطيع ممارسة هذا الدور الا في الخليج، فسورية طردت الاستعمار منذ سبعين عاماً وتواصل طرد ما تبقى منه، والعراق يتحضّر لإبعاده حالياً، واليمن ينجز مهامه التحريرية.

بناء على هذه المعطيات فإن عودة الاستعمار الغربي الى الخليج هي لمهمة وحيدة وهي منع أي تغير داخلي يؤدي الى تحرير ثروات الخليج من الحكام وتغطيته الغربية، ووضعها في خدمة تطوّر دول يصرُ الأميركيون على سحبها من القرون الوسطى.

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A Bahraini Activist climbs the London’s roof of Bahraini embassy to stop execution of Two Activists on False Accusations

Update :

 

A Bahraini Activist climbs the roof of the Bahraini embassy in London to protest against executions and British police storm the building

Bahrain: Execution of Two Activists on False Accusations! UPDATED

Martyr Ali Al-Arab’s Last Words: I Didn’t Kill Him, I Don’t Even Know Where the Incident Happened!

By Bahrain Mirror – Translated by Staff

“I didn’t kill Hisham al-Hamadi, at all, I am satisfied with Allah’s judgement,” those were the last words mouthed by martyr Ali Mohammad al-Arab who was on imminent death row. His family was totally concerned about his fate after a visit that seemed to be the last ever.

Bahrain Mirror cited his mother, who described the last moments of meeting with her son who has been detained for two years, as saying: “Everything was unusual when we arrived at Central Jaw Prison.”

Ali’s family reported that there was tight security measures at the prison, huge numbers of officers and policemen, and double inspection. The first time was when entering the prison’s building, and the second time was before entering the room where they met their son.

“We entered as groups. The duration of the visit was around an hour and a half. Ali said that after having lunch he was moved into a solitary cell like what they did to Ahmad al-Malali. I was handcuffed and remained so until before I entered this room,” Ali narrated.

The mother, who was very confused out of the shock, and asked one of her sons about the year Ali was born, said that Ali was studying Accounting in Saudi Arabia. He turned 25 a few months ago. And he spent more than two years in prison.

“As he told us earlier, the moment he entered Jaw Prison after issuing the verdict was very difficult on him because, according to his jailers, they prepared for him a torture and humiliation party the moment he arrived there,” the mother added.

“He stood in front of us, he was very happy to hug us without a glass barrier after this long period of separation. He looked into my eyes and was very calm as he told me: don’t worry mother, martyrdom is my wish, and here it is coming true.”

The mother recalled that Ali was way stronger than her. He was resilient and very calm until the last moment with him. He didn’t mention writing a will, but perhaps he had told one of his siblings about it: “I don’t know, I just know that he was worried about me and he didn’t want me to cry.”

As a mother, I can bear witness that my son Ali Mohammad al-Arab was subjected to torture, the lady said. During the first visit after his arrest, the mother said she saw him on a wheelchair and that he mentioned the names of those who tortured him.

Ali’s brother also told Bahrain Mirror that during the farewell meeting, his brother stressed total satisfaction with Allah’s judgement, and that he feels he will soon be executed.

“He entered the room wearing the prison’s grey uniform. After we had a short chat, I had a question in my mind about the truth of the accusation filed against him. I asked him: Brother, do you have anything to do with the killing of Hashem al-Hamadi? He replied: Not at all, I have nothing to do with his killing, I even neither know him nor the place where he was killed.”

The policewomen were secretly listening to al-Arabs from the open window in the small visit room. They were listening to every detail, and were surrounded by armed guards. They have clearly seen that Ali didn’t care to any of their behaviors. “Perhaps they wanted to witness the reaction of humans passing through such hard times as we were doing,” the brother added.

Ali’s mother noted that her son didn’t experience imprisonment before: “This is his first time in prison.” His siblings say: “We asked him about his will, but he said the only thing he wanted is Allah’s pleasure.”

Martyr Ali al-Arab’s mother and his siblings couldn’t find words that describe their loved one during that horrible moments. One of his siblings said: “What could I tell more? There wasn’t but a strong calm man. He greeted us and was full with pleasure.”

According to a report issued by Amnesty International in March 2018 on the issue of Ahmad al-Malali and Ali al-Arab and what they were subjected to after arrest: “During detention, the two men were subjected to torture by the security officers, including electrocution and beating. The toenails of Ali al-Arab were also ripped out.”

This Happened in the Small Room, Martyr Ahmad al-Malali’s Father Describes the Farewell Visit

By Bahrain Mirror – Translated by Staff

“I wish I were martyred in a different way, but it finally happened,” these were the words of detainee Ahmad al-Malali who was facing imminent execution by Bahraini regime’s authorities on the issue of killing officer Hisham al-Hamadi, on which there is no evidence but the confessions made under systematic torture; a method that tops all kinds of evidence in Bahraini courts.

Isa, father of martyr Ahmad al-Malali told Bahrain Mirror that his son was pursued by the regime between 2011 and 2017, when he was only 16 years old. Now, as he turned 24, he didn’t enjoy his life, he couldn’t study or work, until he was arrested and accused of assassinating that officer.

Seeking freedom, martyr Ahmad was trying to escape via sea before a military force raided the boat and arrested him. During the urgent and quick visit that came a few hours before the expected execution, Ahmad said:

“I was hiding behind the edge of the boat. Bullets were flying over, so I told myself I wish one of them would hit me so I can be martyred. The bullet, however, settled in my wrist. I wished I could have martyred in another way. But it has finally happened, and this is the most important.”

The Urgent Visit

The urgent visit didn’t go as normal as before. The family received a call in which they were informed that they are allowed a special visit to see their detained son at noon. There number for the members allowed to visit was unlimited. It was a clear that it is a “farewell visit”, the father says. Isa al-Malali narrates that some 35 members of the family came to the gate of Central Jaw Prison to meet with Ahmad.

“The situation was unusual there. Military patrols were roaming the area surrounding the prison. We were divided into groups of five. Each group can enter to meet with Ahmad for 15 minutes and so on…” the father says.

Inspection was tight, the policewomen took off the women’s headscarves, even their headbands. After the inspection, every member was escorted with two police officers. On both sides of the corridor leading to the visit room, there were armed policemen. When the members arrived at the room, other officers were examining the names.

Inside the Room

The visit room has two doors, the one that the family entered through, and the other through which Ahmad entered. “We hugged him, he sat in front of us. He was aware of what was going on. He knew they were his last hours before the execution,” the father describes the situation.

There was a small window inside the room, it was open and the policewomen sitting behind it were listening all what was going on inside. Beside them there were some armed policemen. “You won’t doubt for a single moment that their looks hide killing and death.”

I talked to my son, the father says.

He described his escape attempt and how he was wishing for martyrdom. “We all know that my son is innocent, but unfortunately no one called us to ask about what he was saying over that period. Neither the family of the killed officer, nor the MPs called us. After this visit, only human rights activists called us although they learned that this will happen and that he will be executed after a few hours.

Inside the room, Ahmad asked for forgiveness from all the family members in case he had made something wrong to them during his life. “He wrote his will, he told us, and we will read it after his execution. He refused to give us details. He asked us to read it only after he leaves this world,” the father narrates.

We started performing prayers inside the room, and Ahmad participated with us. We also recited the Ziyara (visit) of Imam Hussein (AS). We were reciting as we heard the policewomen laughing as they were overlooking us from the window, Isa al-Malali explains.

An officer who seemed responsible for the visits entered the room and told me, “bid your son farewell, the visit is almost over,” the father said, adding that martyr Ahmad was the one helping us to stay patient, asking us to trust God and be patient and satisfied with Allah’s judgement and destiny.

“I bid my son who will leave this life at 24 farewell. He is my eldest. I only say that my son is innocent. May Allah avenge from anyone who wronged my son,” the father concludes.

According to a report issued by Amnesty International in March 2018 on the issue of Ahmad al-Malali and Ali al-Arab and what they were subjected to after arrest:

“During detention, the two men were subjected to torture by the security officers, including electrocution and beating. The toenails of Ali al-Arab’s feet were also ripped out.”

 

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Bahrain Wakes Up to Execution of Two Activists on False Accusations!

By Staff

The Manama regime announced on Saturday (July 27, 2019) morning the execution of two political prisoners who were allegedly accused of killing a Bahraini officer in 2017.

In further details, the families of Ahmad Isa al-Malali (24) and Ali Mohammed al-Arab (25) confirmed the news. The two martyrs denied all accusations and stressed that they were forced to made false confessions that were extracted under torture which included unplucking their feet nails and electrocution.

According to the martyrs, the Bahraini court made its judgement based on such confessions extracted under torture and without any single tangible evidence.

This is the second time the ruthless Bahraini regime executes political opposition activists. The first time happened on January, 14, 2017 when martyrs Abbas al-Samea, Sami Mushaima’ and Ali al-Singace were executed in the same way.

The executions came despite calls by Amnesty International that the Bahraini authorities must urgently halt the imminent execution of the two activists “who were convicted after a grossly unfair mass trial after they were tortured to confess.”

Also, the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society issued a national appeal to stop the implementation of executions a day earlier.

Relatively, three human rights organizations (SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, Bahrain Forum for Human Rights and Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights) issued a statement in the same respect.

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Much safer to be a protester in Hong Kong/China than in France

June 28, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

The differences in handling the recent protests in Hong Kong and the weekly demonstrations in France illuminate an enormous democratic deficit between Western “liberal democratic” societies and non-Western “socialist democratic” ones.

It has been amazing to see how quickly the Hong Kong government – which under the “one country, two systems” system largely means the Chinese government (Hong Kong is officially a part of China) – acquiesced to public opinion after just two days of moderately-violent protests.

I am shocked. This is not because I falsely perceive Hong Kong or China as “anti-democratic”, but because every Saturday for months I have been dodging tear gas and rubber bullets in France. Hong Kong’s government backed down after barely more than a week of regular protests in the capital, whereas France has been unwilling to appease a protest movement which has lasted over seven months.

Almost immediately after protests turned violent, Hong Kong tabled the bill which proved so divisive, and their leader even apologised with the “utmost sincerity and humility”. What a contrast to French President Emmanuel Macron: Not only has Macron never apologised, but he did not even utter the words “Yellow Vests” in public until late April. His Interior Ministry can only be counted on to routinely remind Yellow Vests that they have “no regrets” about how the protests have been officially handled.

Hong Kong police reported that 150 tear gas canisters, several rounds of rubber bullets, and 20 beanbag shots were fired during the only day of serious violence. Conversely, a damning annual report this month from French police reported that 19,000 rubber bullets were fired in 2018 (up 200% from 2017), as were 5,400 shock grenades (up 300%).

Two things are appalling here: Firstly, the French government fired – at their own people, mostly for protesting neoliberal austerity – over 6,000 rubber bullets and 1,500 shock grenades in 2017. Shockingly violent protests were “normal” in France long before the Yellow Vests. Second: The Yellow Vests didn’t arrive until the final 6 weeks of 2018 – therefore, the increases and totals for 2019 will likely be 4-5 times than the already huge increases in 2018.

The latest tallies count 72 injuries and 30 arrests in Hong Kong – it was shock over this heavy-handed policing which led to the government’s intelligent move to restore order and democratic calm.

In France, the casualty figures are catastrophic: 850 serious injuries, 300 head injuries, 30 mutilations (loss of eye, hand or testicle). Someone passed out or vomiting is not counted as a “serious injury”, but if we included those hurt by tear gas, water cannons and police truncheons the number of injuries would undoubtedly approach six figures, as astronomical as that figure sounds. As far as arrests, France was at 9,000 on March 24, with nearly half receiving prison sentences. However, this count was announced before new, repressive orders were given to arrest democratic protesters even faster (more on this shortly). After interviewing for PressTV one of the rare lawyers courageous enough to openly criticise a French legal system which is obviously not “independent”, I estimate that over 2,000 Yellow Vests have already become political prisoners. More are obviously awaiting their trial, and more trials will obviously be convened.

Western mainstream media coverage of the two events is best described by a (modified) French saying: “one weight, two measures”. Hong Kongers are “freedom fighters” against a “tyrannical” and “totalitarian” Chinese system, whereas Yellow Vesters are routinely slurred in the West as thugs, anti-Semites and insensible anarchists.

Western media has no problem printing the turnout numbers of organisers… when it comes to Hong Kong. The Yellow Vests self-reported “Yellow Number”, and the turnout count of a courageous, openly anti-Macron police union were routinely ignored by the Mainstream Media until mid-April (here is Wikipedia’s tally of all three estimates, in French).

However, finally printing crowd counts from sources other than the (obviously self-interested) French Interior Ministry was clearly in keeping with the anti-Yellow Vest Mainstream Media: starting on March 23, France began deploying the military against French protesters, banning protests in urban centres nationwide (bans in rural areas began in early May), gave shocking orders for cops to “engage” (that is, “attack”) protesters, and also gave orders to make arrests more rapidly. Therefore, the outdated count of 9,000 could easily be vastly higher.

All the repression achieved what it was obviously intended to: scare French anti-government protesters away. Weekly protests averaged a quarter million people from January 1 until mid-March (cop union estimates), but after the harsh repression was announced until today protests averaged only 65,000 brave souls.

Western “independent” (and always-saintly) NGOs are no better than Western media: In a report released in late March, US-based Human Rights Watch had issued 131 articles, reports and statements on Venezuela – zero on France. The NGO is still totally silent on French repression.

Perhaps the most important question is: what are the protests about? On this issue there is also a huge difference: The protests in Hong Kong are over a law to extradite criminals, whereas in France the protests are over the criminal lack of public opinion in formulating public policy.

Those primarily threatened by Hong Kong’s law are financial criminals, as the island’s primary economic function is to serve as an England-dictated tax haven. This explains why exposed” tycoons are now rushing their wealth out of Hong Kong. Perhaps the primary initial complaint was that the law would damage Hong Kong’s “business climate”, which is undoubtedly why Western media – so supportive of neo-imperialism and rapacious neoliberal business practices – was so very opposed to the bill and so very supportive of the protesters.

Those primarily targeted by the Yellow Vests are also financial criminals – the anti-patriotic French bankers, politicians and journalists who have colluded to create a “Lost Decade” of economic growth even worse than either of Japan’s two examples. This decade of near-recession is being dramatically compounded by Francois Hollande’s and Macron’s executive decrees and socioeconomic “deforms” which are gutting France’s social safety net, working conditions and France’s tradition of being the only Western neo-imperialist nation which pursued relatively egalitarian economic policies (only domestically, of course).

So what can we learn from this comparison? We can fairly say that the differences are “cultural”, which is to say that they are linked to and produced by their political values.

On one hand we have Hong Kong’s Beijing-tied government – China operates on a “socialist democratic” model. The structure of their government, one easily finds from reading their constitution, has been deeply influenced by the early 20th century ideals of anti-imperialism and class struggle.

China has emphatically rejected the Western “liberal democratic” model, incarnated by France, which remains rooted in aristocratic, 18th century ideals, and which necessarily lacks the modern ideals of economic equality, gender and minority equality, democratic equality and the ability to prevent an oligarchic rule of the “1%”.

When it comes to China, Hong Kong and France, the numbers and data are so overwhelmingly one-sided that not much ink needs to be spilled in this column to draw the obvious conclusion: China’s socialist democratic system is obviously far, far more democratic than France’s.

The Chinese and Hong Kong model of democracy is far more responsive to the will of public opinion, and to the fundamental needs of their public, than France’s outdated, aristocratic, and fundamentally anti-democratic political system.

Perhaps this was not the case 100 years ago, but it is clearly the case in 2019.

However, much, much ink from other pens should be spilled to broadcast this conclusion, especially in hypocritical and deluded Western newsrooms.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of “I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China”.

Saudi Authorities Target Families of Activists: Deprived of Life!

By al-Ahed

Beirut – The Saudi authorities continue their escalatory policies to silence any voice demanding rights and justice. In the context of tightening the grip on peaceful activists, the Saudi regime continues its oppressive measures against their families. It is preventing the families of those “wanted” from basic services, punishing them for their rightful activism.

According to information obtained by al-Ahed news, the Saudi authorities are banning families of activists from the governmental services, as well as depriving them of traveling or obtaining any personal document such as a passport or an identity card.

The families are also deprived of issuing identity and health cards belonging to their children, making it impossible for them to receive any kind of medical treatment or even entering hospitals.

The measures are practiced against the mothers, fathers, siblings, wives and children of those “wanted”, and include the educational services, banning them even from registering them at schools.

Not to mention, they are also being targeted financially as they are not allowed to renew their bank cards once they are expired, leading eventually to close their entire bank accounts, and logically, stop their living and daily affairs…

The Chilling Message of the Saudi Executions: Colorado Writer

Saudi flag

Terence Ward

May 9, 2019

Terence Ward is a Colorado-born writer, documentarist, and cross-cultural consultant. He grew up in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt, and received his BA in political science at the University of California at Berkeley. For 10 years, he advised clients across the Gulf — Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia conducting management consulting projects and seminars. Ward is also the author of the books “Searching for Hassan” and “The Wahhabi Code: How the Saudis Spread Extremism Globally.”

A couple of weeks have passed since the dramatic beheadings of 37 Saudi citizens that shocked the world. According to Human Rights Watch, at least 33 of those who were executed were from the minority Shia community — which has suffered a long history of persecution in Saudi Arabia.

With the Kingdom facing mounting criticism over bombing deaths and starvation in the Yemen war, imprisoned and reportedly tortured women activists, and the grisly murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, many wonder why Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud offered critics another human rights issue? But these executions served a clear purpose to strike fear in the Saudi Shia population while rallying the royal family’s ultra-conservative Wahhabi – the official creed of the Kingdom fundamentalist base. In the end, to be Shia in Saudi Arabia has always been a complicated affair.

Few Americans know that Wahhabism, a branch of Sunni Islam, looks down on Shia Muslims as apostates. Violence against Shia communities is deeply rooted in the Saudi Kingdom’s DNA. Like African Americans in the Deep South, the Shia have suffered discrimination and suspicion from the Wahhabi ruling elite since the founding of the country in 1932.

Those who were executed in April included protestors who were arrested and convicted of terror-related crimes during the Arab Spring demonstrations in 2011 and 2012. However, the human rights group Amnesty International said the legal proceedings “violated international fair trial standards which relied on confessions extracted through torture.”

According to trial documents obtained by CNN, some of the men repeatedly told the court that their confessions were false and obtained through torture.

When Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman rose to power in 2017, there was some hope that the Salman dynasty would usher in reforms. However, anti-Shia rhetoric persisted. For example, the hardline cleric Saleh al-Fawzan, a member of the state-sponsored Council of Senior Scholars, claimed in 2017, that the Shia are infidels and that anyone who disagrees is also an infidel.

And al-Fawzan has also said that political dissidents who disagree with the Kingdom rulers should be put to death.

The disappearance and murder of Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government, after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, fell in line with the intentions of al-Fawzan’s rhetoric.

The CIA later concluded that King Salman’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered his killing.

The Saudi government has repeatedly denied the allegations, although the US Senate voted to condemn the young prince for Khashoggi’s grisly fate.

While Khashoggi’s death sparked international outrage, the Trump administration steered clear of assigning blame, and many businesses have quietly continued their plans for expansion there.

Amid inflammatory rhetoric against Iran a country dominated by Shia — coming from the White House, King Salman seemed encouraged to send a clear message of terror to his restive Shia citizens.

In doing so, the Saudi government seems to be ignoring the increased pressures it has recently faced on numerous fronts. Congress defied President Donald Trump in voting to suspend military aid for the kingdom’s war in Yemen. The state-owned oil company Aramco’s called off its initial public offering, while investors have reportedly pulled funding for MBS’ ambitious economic plan called Vision 2030.

To counter these setbacks, King Salman has drawn inspiration from the earliest days of the Saud dynasty to secure his most loyal followers the archconservative Wahhabi faithful. Historical persecution of the Shias has been the life-blood of the Wahhabi sect that was borne in central Arabia more than 250 years ago. For centuries, the Shia who lived along the Persian Gulf suffered violence from Wahhabi believers, who labeled them infidels.

During my childhood in Dhahran, when my father worked at Saudi Aramco from 1952-1960, I witnessed persecution of Shia who call the oil-rich eastern province, known as Al-Ahsa, their home. Our friends lived in oasis towns where Shia communities have dwelled for centuries. The sad fact is that the staggering oil wealth that poured into Riyadh was siphoned away from the Eastern Province.

Little was spent in the Shia communities, yet they have represented the majority of Saudi manpower in Aramco — now likely the world’s most profitable company.

Instead of benefiting from the profits of vast oil fields that lay under historically Shia lands, they have been treated as second-class citizens since Ibn Saud, who would eventually go on to found Saudi Arabia, and his family conquered their homeland in 1913. Even today, some Shia friends of mine call it “religious apartheid.”

When I returned as a management consultant to Saudi Arabia in the 1980’s, clerics had condemned mixing between Sunnis and Shia as well as intermarriage.

In numerous religious rulings, the late grand mufti, Abdulaziz Bin Baz, condemned the Shia community. Bin Baz’s religious rulings are still available in the kingdom’s official database and are often cited in Saudi court rulings, which are based on Islamic law.

More recently, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars said that Shia Muslims were “not our brothers … rather they are the brothers of Satan…”, according to Human Rights Watch.

Because of the historic conflict with the Shia community, the execution orders handed down by Saudi magistrates in April were expected.

But larger questions remain. Will MBS truly bring change and a more moderate Islam? Or do these April beheadings signal continued anti-Shia sentiment?

Is the Crown Prince trying to spark a conflict with Iran mother country of the Shia? And will this plunge America and the region into yet another unconstitutional war? Given the Saudi history of aiding and abetting extremists while claiming to be their enemy, should America be wary of being lured into another conflict? We should be very wary.

Recently, US National Security Adviser John Bolton announced that an aircraft carrier strike group with a bomber task force had been deployed to the Persian Gulf to deter Iran.

The royal Saud family may be gambling that America will come to its rescue and plunge the US into, yet again, another war, in what would be another trillion-dollar debacle. The truth is that America is extremely efficient at starting wars but dramatically incompetent at ending them.

Any aggression against Iran risks rupturing ties with Europe and in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, while provoking conflict with both Russia and China. If shooting erupts, the narrow Strait of Hormuz — the gateway in and out of the Persian Gulf — will surely be closed to oil tankers until the guns are silent. Lights of the industrial world will dim. It will be a time for lighting candles, unless cooler heads prevail. Perhaps this is a moment to stand up to the Saudi royals, (after the unpleasant experiences with al-Qaeda and ISIS — both Wahhabi inspired) and not be lured in yet again to another conflagration without end.

 

Source: CNN

US Commission: Saudi Arabia Is Top Violator of Religious Freedom

By Staff, MEE

The US State Department designated Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s “worst violators” of religious freedoms, even as Riyadh remains one of Washington’s top allies in the region.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom [USCIRF] released its 2019 report on Monday listing Saudi Arabia in the tier one category of countries that implement severe violations of religious freedom.

The annual report, released by the bipartisan organization created two decades ago, highlights the discrimination that Shia Muslims and Christians face in the country.

“Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia continue to face discrimination in education, employment, and the judiciary, and lack access to senior positions in the government and military,” the 234-page report said.

“As a matter of law, the Saudi government bans the public practice of non-Muslim faiths by citizens and expatriates alike. While the Saudi government has stated repeatedly that non-Muslims who are not converts from Islam may practice their religion in private, this policy has not been codified,” the reported added.

Last week, Saudi Arabia executed 37 people on ‘terrorism’ charges.

Thirty-two of those executed were from Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority and a number of them were juveniles when they were arrested, including a teenager who had planned to study in the US.

The US placed Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s top “countries of particular concern” or CPCs in November 2018.

However, Johnnie Moore, USCIRF’s commissioner who wrote the profile on Saudi Arabia, said promoting “punitive measures” against the kingdom would be counterproductive.

“Such punitive measures could likely have the effect of forcing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to engage directly and more seriously with countries where religious freedom is not a consideration at all in their foreign policy priorities,” he said.

The State Department recommends granting Saudi Arabia a special waiver because the country is an “important interest to the United States”, the report said.

Saudi Arabia and the US share a deep alliance. The US purchases Saudi oil while the kingdom has ordered billions of dollars of arms from the United States.

Saudi Arabia was the first overseas country visited by US President Donald Trump after he became president in 2017, and his visit to Riyadh came just weeks before Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their allies initiated a blockade of Qatar.

Trump has continued to stress the importance of the US alliance with Saudi Arabia even after the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which prompted near global condemnation.

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