Cleric Dies of Medical Negligence in Saudi Prison: Activists

Saudi Arabia Sheikh Ahmed Al-Ammari

January 21, 2019

Saudi activists announced that the former dean of the Holy Quran faculty in the University of Medina, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Ammari died of a stroke in prison.

According to the “Prisoners of Conscie” (conscience) account on Twitter, a Saudi group that follows up situations of political detainees in the Kingdom, Al-Ammari died on Sunday due to a medical negligence that led to coma.

The group stated that the funeral prayer of Al-Ammari to be held at Masjid Al-Haram on Monday noon, adding that the cleric, who was arrested earlier in August, is to be buried in Al-Sharae’ graveyard in Mecca.

The account affirmed that “If silence goes on, we’ll hear bad news on other prisoners. Elderly detainees are so many, and others whose health is deteriorating are much more.”

Al-Ammari was arrested by the Saudi Forces last August in a campaign against the close associates of prominent cleric, Sheikh Safar Al-Hawaly, who was arrested earlier in July.

Until now, the Saudi Forces did not comment on Al-Ammari’s death.

Reports on the Saudi cleric’s death appear amid wide criticism of Saudi Arabia following the murder of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October in the Turkish consulate.

Source: Social Media

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The Cowardly Abduction of Journalist: The FBI Abducts Journalist Marzieh Hashemi

Marwa Osman

A journalist has been kidnapped inside US territories without any charge or crime. On Sunday January 13, the FBI abducted American-born journalist and anchor Marzieh Hashemi , born Melanie Franklin, upon arrival at St. Louis Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Missouri, , according to her family and friends.

Marzieh Hashemi, a journalist and anchor working for Iran’s English-language Press TV television news network, has been detained and imprisoned in the United States for unspecified reasons and is reportedly being treated badly by the authorities who abducted her. Press TV reported that Marzieh had arrived in the US to visit her ill brother and other family members. Her relatives were unable to contact her, and she was allowed to contact her daughter only two days after her arrest.

Hashemi, who has been living in Iran for years and is a Muslim revert, has told her daughter that she was handcuffed and shackled and was being treated like a criminal. The journalist also said that she had her hijab forcibly removed, and was photographed without her headscarf upon arrival at the prison.

As if forcing her hijab off was not enough humiliation for Hashemi, she has only been allowed to wear a T-shirt, and is currently using another one to cover her head. Furthermore, she has been offered only pork as meal – which is forbidden under Islamic law – and even denied bread and any other halal food after refusing to consume the meat. Hashemi told her daughter that the only food she has had over the past two days has been a packet of crackers.

The United States of America, which likes to remind us daily how it is amongst the few countries around the globe to respect human rights, freedom of speech and tolerates religious differences, has showed the world the absolute opposite by abducting Marzieh. Not only did the FBI illegally detain a person without any charges, they also resided to humiliating her by forcing her to remove what every pious Muslim woman holds sacred, her Hijab. To add salt to the injury, they offered only the type of food, which they knew for sure she wouldn’t eat because it contains pork which is considered ill-gotten in Islam.

Just think about it for a second, if a this is how an American citizen is treated while in FBI custody without any charge then imagine the cases inside US illegal detention centers which are spread across the globe to torture “suspects” whom the US “ believes” are a “threat to national security”. Who’s to say that Marzieh will get to have legal presentation to defend her? Who’s to say she will ever go to court? Who’s to say if we ever see Marzieh again?

The FBI or whichever US authority that had Marzieh abducted had only one thing in mind by incarcerating her. They want to punish Hashemi for being a beacon of truth at times of fake news peak and to intimidate all other journalist especially in English speaking TV channels in order to stay silent and not report what the US believes to be against its imperial agenda.

Violence against journalists which the US usually accuses other states of conducted has become the bread of the US authorities.  What the US has shown its own citizen Marzieh now is simply hatred because of her voice and her activism, which was amplified on social networks by Press TV’s viewers who now became the loudest defenders of Hashemi.

These expressions of hatred by US authorities against Marzieh legitimize violence against journalists all across the world, thereby undermining journalism, and democracy itself. The same democracy that the US wages wars and commits war crimes in order to impose on other “less fortunate countries”.

At a time when the US supposedly a “democracy” that has made “tolerance” its number one social goal, is failing miserably at both democracy and tolerance because the US is slowly but surely killing Freedom of Speech. The US allows journalists to say what they want, as long as their words don’t cause tangible harm to the empire’s agendas and interests.

Where the concept of Freedom of Speech is absent, people believe they are entitled to kill others who say things they find offensive or that may threaten their interests. Without Freedom of Speech, we would literally be living in the Dark Ages and that is exactly where the US government wants to take all of us who dare challenge the empire’s narrative and who dare expose the empire’s complicity in crimes all over the world.

However, we shall not be silenced, neither shall Marzieh. We shall be Marzieh’s voice and we shall make sure her message will be heard, one of tolerance, righteousness and sympathy with the oppressed. We can all voice our support to Marzieh Hashemi and our contempt to the illegal actions of the US authorities against Marzieh by tweeting, posting and writing about her story. Marzieh’s family members and media activists have launched a social media campaign with the hashtags #FreeMarziehHashemi and #Pray4MarziehHashemi in support of the detained journalist. Let us all use these hashtags and raise our voices to end violence against journalists everywhere.

Source: Al-Ahed News

The Cowardly Abduction of Journalist Marzieh Hashemi by the US Regime

Harun Elbinawi

News reached us of the cowardly abduction of prominent Journalist and Press TV news anchor Marzieh Hashemi by the Trump regime. Hashemi was born in the US and she is a US citizen. She went to visit her sick brother and other relatives in the US and was abducted. She is presently held in a FBI detention facility in Washington DC with no formal charge press against her.

Hashemi’s hijab was forcefully removed and they denied her halal food in the detention facility. Dear Friends, these are the barbarians that are always fraudulently parroting freedom and respect for Human Rights.

The abduction of an innocent Journalist is part of the Trump regime obsession with Iran. Trump and gang want the resistance axis to recognize the existence of the illegal and illegitimate Zionist regime occupying Palestine. The Trump gang are ignorant of the fact that the Political Earthquake that happened in Iran in 1979 is today bigger than Iran. Millions around the world are inspired by that glorious Revolution with hundreds of thousands of them in the US itself. That Revolution changed the course of history forever and the sanctions and savage barbarism of the Trump gang can never be able to alter this.

Marzieh Hashemi is a big fan of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, and a strong supporter of the Islamic Movement. When I was in Iran I was informed that she organized workshops to highlight the extreme savagery and barbarism of Zaria Genocide by the Buhari regime.

Hashemi went to visit her sick brother and she was abducted be the desperate Trump regime. My blood brother is a US citizen but I cut all contacts with him when he became a US citizen. He protested but I told him I did that to protect him. I am already marked by them. They know me. They will try to use him to get at me. Murderous imperialists are genocidal savages.

God willing, we will mount campaign for the freedom of Hashemi from the dungeon of the Trump regime on all social media platforms. The Hash Tags are:

#FreeMarziehHashemi #Pray4MarziehHashemi

Source: elbinawi.wordpress.com, Edited by website team

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The Farewell Visit, Hours before the Execution…

Zeinab Daher

A few hours before the execution of three Bahraini activists, Ali al-Singace, Abbas al-Sami’ and Sami Mushaima, the Bahraini prison’s administration summoned the families of the martyrs in an unexpected call to visit their sons.

The regime in Manama carried out the death verdicts on Sunday [January 15, 2017], triggering angry demonstrations across the kingdom mainly in the villages of Diraz, Bani Jamra and Sanabis.

The youngest among them is Martyr Ali al-Singace who was under the legal age, only 15, when he was first arrested before the Bahraini revolution. He was allegedly accused of attacking an officer, and was later released after the breakout of the Bahraini revolution.

Ali was later kidnapped at the age of 16 and was threatened with being killed unless he operates as a secret agent for armed militias. The young martyr, who was still a student back then, was soon after sentenced to 5 years in prison for the case of February 14, for which he remained on the run, away from his family.

Finally, on the day of the alleged murder of Emirati officer Tariq al-Shihi and two policemen in al-Daih blast [March, 2014], Bahraini authorities stormed Ali’s house. He was detained about a year later and was sentenced to death, along with martyrs Abbas al-Sami’ and Sami Mushaima, for fabricated accusations.

However, it is worth mentioning that Ali, his family and all evidences confirm he had not been interrogated regarding the case of al-Shihi’s death.

So how could he be sentenced to death in a case he wasn’t even investigated for?

Speaking to al-Ahed News website, mother of 22 year-old Martyr Ali al-Singace described the procedure they went through one day ahead of the crime against the Bahraini activists: “The day before the execution, on Saturday, we were informed that we are allowed to visit our sons.”

They asked the martyrs on Saturday morning to give them the numbers of their families, the mother noted. “They wanted to give us their personal stuff, their clothes, food, shampoo, toothpaste… they wanted them to hand in all their personal stuff.”

The prison’s administration called Ali’s father, they informed him that at 16:00 they have to visit their son.

The family was suspicious of the news since no visits are allowed on Saturdays: “We called the family of martyr Abbas al-Sami’, they also said they have a visit at 14:30, then I called the family of martyr Sami Mushaima, they still hadn’t received any phone call at the time. But they were later informed that their visit is scheduled to be at 13:00,” the mother added.

“Our sons didn’t know that we will visit them. They learned about the visit half an hour before the first meeting of the Mushaima family. Each one of them was in solitary confinement, yet they could hear each other’s voices. All of them learned at 12:30 that they will be visited by their families.”

According to the bereaved mom, the martyrs themselves were cautious about the news: “Everybody knows that there are no visits on Saturdays. This, itself, represented an execution.”

“The visit wasn’t like any other… we underwent very careful inspection. Before we entered the prison, we were inspected in an outside cabin, then we were inspected again before we entered a car accompanied with 4 policewomen and 2 policemen,” the mother explained. She further noted that “after we got out of the vehicle, we were inspected again. The moment we entered the place, we saw many police officers on both sides. Between 50 or 60 police personnel, males and females, were deployed in the place.”

“Some four or five policewomen were standing next to us. They kept wearing their sunglasses, observing us during the one-hour visit.”

Martyr Ali al-Singace’s mother told us that the same strict inspection was applied on them as they exited the place… “We were surprised, we were only thinking of the entire procedure we went through.”

The mother explained the treatment they went through as “brutal inspection.”

“I told myself that the moment was a goodbye moment. I told my son to expect that this is the final visit… I told him this might be the last time we see each other although we didn’t know before. I had that feeling… I felt it is the time to say goodbye…”

On the next day, Ali’s father received a call at 09:00 in the morning informing him to come take his son’s corpse from a very far area, not in the region where they live.

“We wanted to bury him an al-Sanabis but they didn’t accept. We feared that they would bury them some place without knowing anything regarding their whereabouts,” the mom said.

Although our sons were executed, people here in Bahrain won’t be silenced and won’t stop their protests.

Ali, just like many other ‘opinion detainees’ in Bahrain, received his judgement in absentia. Also like many other innocent detainees, he was subjected to electric shocks, torture and insults to confess committing ‘crimes’ he actually didn’t.

Ever since the peaceful popular protests started in early 2011, Manama has provided a heavy-handed security response. The clampdown has cost scores of lives.

Later during the popular uprising, the regime called in Saudi and Emirati reinforcements to help it muffle dissent.

1,300 Bahrainis have been arrested and those still in detention have been tortured and denied access to medical care. Hospitals have been militarized as doctors and nurses are harassed for treating victims of the protests. Thousands of workers have been dismissed or suspended from their jobs for taking part in the demonstrations.

Meanwhile, as the international community – particularly in the West – has been quite vocal in condemning atrocities committed against protesters in some Middle Eastern countries, things in Bahrain go the other way. When it comes to the injustice practiced against people there, calls from the West for an end to the authorities’ human rights abuses have been rather muted.

People who demand freedom would definitely offer big sacrifices, and so is the case of the families of Bahraini martyrs. They well accept the martyrdom of their loved ones. They believe that their sons are in heaven, and that justice would spread some day, when the tyrant would receive his due punishment.

Al-Ahed News

US Lawyers ’Paying Attention’ as Female Saudi Activist Due in Court

Local Editor

Female human rights activist Israa al-Ghomgham could become the first woman ever sentenced to death for nonviolent protest in Saudi Arabia on Sunday in a case human rights lawyers say “may well constitute multiple violations of international human rights law.”

Al-Ghomgham is one of six Saudi human rights defenders standing trial at the country’s infamous Specialized Criminal Court, five of whom are facing possible death sentences. The court has a history of unfair trials resulting in executions.

Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on dissent is attracting fresh attention following the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi late last year.

Israa al-Ghomgham’s case 

Al-Ghomgham has been in detention since 2015, when she was arrested for activism related to fighting discrimination against Saudi Arabia’s Shiite Muslim minority.

She is charged with things including chanting “we shall not be humiliated,” and “we demand penalties for those who fired bullets,” according to a brief on the case written by international human rights lawyer Oliver Windridge, which was circulated by the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights on Friday.

Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court was created to hear terrorism cases, but Windridge says “its focus appears to have moved from terrorist suspects to human rights defenders and anti-government protesters.”

Violations of international human rights law?

In his brief, Windridge lays out three ways in which the prosecution’s indictment against al-Ghomgham may violate international law:

First, he points out that the prosecution is relying on confessions from all six of the accused. Saudi Arabia has a history of relying on confessions made after torture. Torture is banned under international law, and any allegations of it are required to be investigated.

Second, Windridge points out the non-serious nature of the crimes the accused are charged with, for which the prosecution is seeking the death sentence in five cases. Windridge says the non-violent crimes fall “well short” of the standard required to make the death penalty acceptable under international law.

Third, Windridge points out that many of the slogans the accused are charged with chanting, such as “we demand the annulment of capital punishment sentences,” are benign and would, “even if proved to be true… fall well within permitted forms of expression under international human rights law”.

International attention

In an email, the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights said it hoped, “to make it known that the international community is closely monitoring this situation and is paying attention to the outcome of (al-Ghomgham’s) case.”

“In my view, the specialized criminal court continues, in all these cases, to violate international human rights law,” Windridge told CBS News.

The six activists, including al-Ghomgham, are due to appear in court on Sunday, January 13.

Source: CBS News, Edited by website team

The U.S. Has Always Backed Dictators. Trump’s Support for MBS is no Different

In his steadfast support for MBS, Trump is following a long tradition of US support for Arab autocrats, which in turn is used as the reason for violent terrorist organisations to target the US

By Madawi Al-Rasheed

December 14, 2018 “Information Clearing House” –   Last week, US President Donald Trump announced that the close US-Saudi partnership will continue, even after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and a CIA report that pointed the finger at Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) as the one who ordered the killing.

A longstanding US tradition

The president’s statement cited a combination of geostrategic and economic reasons to justify continuing his close alliance with a regime that had practised utter brutality at home and abroad. Trump highlighted the lucrative financial dividends of this partnership to the US economy, based on MBS’s promise of $450bn investment, including $100bn-plus of arms purchases.

The president also asserted that Saudi Arabia was central to containing Iran’s expansion in the Middle East and achieving peace with Israel.

Despite its shockingly frank nature, the president’s statement does not represent a major departure from previous US foreign policy but rather maintains a longstanding principle of supporting Arab dictators for specific strategic and economic reasons. What is different from previous US presidents is Trump’s uncomfortably explicit calculus.

No previous US president has flagged hard cash as the rationale for maintaining close ties with and even support for the Saudi leadership.

But rhetoric aside, Trump is remaining faithful to a longstanding tradition of US foreign policy that privileges economic and strategic interests over moral and ethical issues, sometimes referred to as realpolitik.

In the past, the US has occasionally expressed concern over severe human rights violations by their proteges but few would seriously expect President Trump to be troubled by the crimes of the Saudi regime.

Even if he admits that no one should condone such a murder, he was apparently comfortable endorsing the far-from-credible Saudi explanation for what happened at the consulate. He even provided a possible exit strategy for the Saudis when he said that the murder could be the work of“rogue killers”, thus providing a potential out for MBS, the de facto head of state and the security apparatus in Saudi Arabia.

Empowering dictators

Trump’s latest statement, that business as usual with Saudi Arabia is to be maintained, even if MBS “may or may not” have ordered the murder of Khashoggi, is certainly shocking for some American audiences. But for Arabs in general and Saudis in particular, the statement was expected, to say the least.

It confirmed their strong belief that the US prefers to work with autocrats than encourage them to democratise or at least restrain themselves from suffocating their people with draconian measures ranging from detention to murder.

US support for Arab dictators has been asserted as the casus belli by the most violent terrorist organisations to target the US. Osama bin Laden’s justification for hitting the “far enemy”, namely the US that supports the Saudi regime only echoed previous slogans of Arab nationalists, socialists and pro-democracy forces that blamed the US for the excesses of their regimes.

In their logic, US support empowers dictators not only through the transfer of the technology of death, surveillance and torture, but also morally and globally.

Even Trump himself admitted that without US support, the Saudi regime will collapse in two weeks. Former US intelligence officer Bruce Riedel confirmed that without US and UK support, the Saudis will not be able to continue the war in Yemen.

The likes of Bin Laden strongly believed this narrative long before it was uttered by the US president. Consequently, his network diverted its struggle against the near enemy to the far one and precipitated a global terrorist crisis that keeps resurfacing under different names. The Islamic State group (IS) was the most recent incarnation of this phenomenon but may not be the last.

Many Americans understandably feel uncomfortable with the president’s blunt words as they cling to a myth that American foreign policy should reflect American values, especially when a high-profile murder by a close partner is concerned.

However, like so-called ‘American exceptionalism’, American values, in the form of respect of civil, political and human rights, have not been an obvious principle guiding American foreign policy in the Arab world.

Also, such values are being eroded and undermined in the US itself under the ultra-nationalist and populist rhetoric of the current president.

The wrath of the people

Previous US presidents may not have liked Arab dictators but nonetheless lent them support, often in the form of military sales and assistance. The list is long.

Many Arab autocrats had the full support of previous American administrations despite the fact that domestically they violated their own peoples’ rights, including Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Zine Abedine Ben Ali of Tunisia, King Hamad bin Al-Khalifa of Bahrain, and at one moment Muammar Qaddafi of Libya came close to being an ally just before he faced an uprising in 2011

Until his fall in 1979, the US granted the Shah of Iran its ultimate support by making him the “policeman of the Gulf” to ward off and contain the spread of communism and nationalism at the time. His dramatic fall at the hands of his own people was shocking for both the US and its Western allies.

The message to the US at the time could not have been clearer: no amount of US support can protect a dictator from the wrath of his own people when the right moment comes. In fact, the US could not even protect its own Tehran Embassy where over 50 diplomats were held hostage for 444 days, an incident that four decades later still shapes and haunts US thinking about Iran.

Yet unconditional US support had always been the privilege of Saudi monarchs. The love affair with Saudi kings is based on expediency and interest rather than passionate conviction. US support was neither shaken nor reconsidered, at least in public, even after 15 Saudi hijackers attacked the Twin Towers in New York on 9/11

The US administration at the time meandered and left it to the US media and civil society to pressure the Saudi regime to change its policy of spreading lethal religious interpretations that had inspired a whole generation of Muslims across the globe and justified terrorism.

It is a cruel irony for the victims of this attack that Trump now considers the Saudi regime an indispensable partner against terrorism.

The face of Saudi Arabia

Even if Americans are not entirely comfortable with their government’s foreign policy of complete neglect for human rights and even direct support for MBS, despite his latest murderous adventure abroad, this is as nothing compared with Saudis living under the reality of one-man rule.

As MBS became the sole face of Saudi Arabia, in control of economic, military, security and social dimensions of government, he has exhibited complete disrespect for the basic semblance of tolerance towards critics, dissidents and activists.

Saudi Arabia has hardly been a safe haven for dissent but the magnitude of MBS’s ambition to reach the top of the royal hierarchy has turned Saudi Arabia into a murderous nightmare for anyone associated with dissent.

Under his orders, potential rival princes were detained, and a nascent feminist movement was stifled and its remaining advocates imprisoned and tortured according to a recent Amnesty report. Intellectuals and religious clerics were also imprisoned.

Prisoners of Conscie@m3takl_en

SEVERE TORTURE in the prison has caused lately the death of:
Shiekh Suleiman al-Dweesh
Journalist Turki al-Jasser
We warn of a possible deterioration and a possible death of one of the female activists who were tortured and sexually harassed !

97 people are talking about this
Vague charges such as communicating with foreign agents, treason, and undermining the image of the state are mentioned as justification for detention. These charges are more reminiscent of Stalin’s terror than a benevolent monarchy that Saudi propaganda would have us believe it is.

Almost all detained Saudi intellectuals are charged with treason and of being agents of foreign governments. From Salman al-Odah to economist Essam al-Zamil and feminist Lujain al-Huthloul, the word treason looms large and may lead to the death penalty. In fact, the Saudi public prosecutor called for such punishment to be inflicted on those detainees. The infamous office of the public prosecutor is also in charge of the investigation of Khashoggi’s murder.

Seeds of terror

Being “an enemy of the state” – to use Trump’s reiteration of what Saudi officials had told him about Khashoggi – is now a common crime investigated by appointed judges who enjoy no independence whatsoever. Trump seems comfortable with such a statement. Perhaps “enemy of the state” reflects or mirrors his own thinking about anybody who criticises a president, a king or a crown prince.

Saudis know very well that US support for MBS will not waiver as they are fed on propaganda that money buys everything – from mighty fighter jets used against their poorest Yemeni neighbours, to the US president’s silence over one of the most horrific crimes committed against a journalist.

Trump will cling to MBS even if the latter becomes more burdensome. If there is a chance for so-called “American values” to become relevant to foreign policy, it is the US Congress that will have to push for a reconsideration of the age-old US support for dictators. This should spring not out of concern for the safety and security of the Saudi people, but for their own American national security.

Congress must know that under the dark and repressive cloak of MBS, the flamboyant and illusory economic plans, and the veneer of social liberalisation, the seeds of terror are sown. In the past this terror has spilled over and reached the US itself. For the present, there is little to assure the American public that it won’t happen again.

– Professor Madawi al-Rasheed is a visiting professor at the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics. She has written extensively about the Arabian Peninsula, Arab migration, globalisation, religious transnationalism and gender. On Twitter: @MadawiDr

This article was originally published by Middle East Eye” 

Spare Me U.S. Tears For Jamal Khashoggi – This Excuse For Trump-bashing Ignores The CIA’s Past Crimes

A generation ago, the CIA’s ‘Operation Phoenix’ torture and assassination programme in Vietnam went way beyond the imaginations of the Saudi intelligence service. And have we forgotten about the thousands of Muslims still perishing under our bombs and missiles and mortars?

By Robert Fisk

December 06, 2018 “Information Clearing House” –     Can I be the only one – apart from his own sycophants – to find the sight of America’s finest Republicans and Democrats condemning the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia for murdering Jamal Khashoggi a bit sickening? “Crazy”. “Dangerous”. A “wrecking ball”. A “smoking saw”. These guys are angry. CIA director Gina Haspel, who was happy to sign off on the torture of her Muslim captives in a secret American prison in Thailand, obviously knew what she was talking about when she testified about Mohammed bin Salman and the agony of Jamal Khashoggi.

US government leaks suggest that Haspel knew all about the shrieks of pain, the suffering of Arab men who believed they were drowning, the desperate pleading for life from America’s victims in these sanctuaries of torment in and after 2002. After all, the desperate screams of a man who believes he is drowning and the desperate screams of a man who believes he is suffocating can’t be very different. Except, of course, that the CIA’s victims lived to be tortured another day – indeed several more days – while Jamal Khashoggi’s asphyxiation was intended to end his life. Which it did.

A generation ago, the CIA’s “Operation Phoenix” torture and assassination programme in Vietnam went way beyond the imaginations of the Saudi intelligence service. In spook language, Khashoggi was merely “terminated with maximum prejudice”. If the CIA could sign off on mass murder in Vietnam, why shouldn’t an Arab dictator do the same on a far smaller scale? True, I can’t imagine the Americans went in for bone saws. Testimony suggests that mass rape followed by mass torture did for their enemies in Vietnam. Why play music through the earphones of the murderers?

But still it goes on. Here’s Democrat senator Bob Menendez this week. The US, he told us, must “send a clear and unequivocal message that such actions are not acceptable on the world’s stage”. The “action”, of course, is the murder of Khashoggi. And this from a man who constantly defended Israel after its slaughter of the innocents in Gaza.

So what on earth is going on here? Perhaps the “world’s stage” of which Menendez spoke was the White House – an appropriate phrase, when you come to think about it – where the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia has been no stranger. Yet when at least one recent US presidential incumbent of that high office can be considered guilty of war crimes – in Iraq – and the deaths of tens of thousands of Arabs, how come American senators are huffing and puffing about just one man, Mohammed bin Salman, who (for a moment, let us set aside the Yemen war) is only being accused of ordering the murder and dismemberment of one single Arab?

After all, world leaders – and US presidents themselves – have always had rather a soft spot for mass murderers and those who should face war crimes indictments. Trump has infamously met Kim Jong-un and invited him to the White House. We are all waiting for Rodrigo Duterte to take up his own invitation.

Obama lavished hospitality at the White House on a host of bloody autocrats – from Gambia, Burkina Faso and Cameroon – before we even recall Suharto, whose death squads killed up to half a million people; and Hosni Mubarak, whose secret police sometimes raped their prisoners and who sanctioned the hanging of hundreds of Islamists without proper trials, and his ultimate successor, Field Marshal-President al-Sisi, who has around 60,000 political prisoners locked up in Egypt and whose cops appear to have tortured a young Italian student to death. But Giulio Regeni wasn’t murdered in an Egyptian consulate. This list does not even include Ariel Sharon, who as Israeli defence minister was accused by an Israeli inquiry of personal responsibility for the massacre of 1,700 Palestinian civilians at the Sabra and Chatila camps in Beirut in 1982.

So what is this “clear and unequivocal message” that senator Menendez is rambling on about? The message has been clear and unequivocal for decades. The US “national interest” always trumps (in both senses) morality or international crime. Why else did the United States support Saddam Hussein in his attempt to destroy Iran and his use of chemical warfare against Iran? Why else did Donald Rumsfeld plead with Saddam in December 1993 to allow the reopening of the US embassy in Baghdad when the Iraqi dictator (a “strongman” at the time, of course) had already used mustard gas against his opponents? By the time Rumsfeld arrived for his meeting, more than 3,000 victims had fallen amid Iraqi gas clouds. The figure would reach at least 50,000 dead. Which is, in mathematical terms, Jamal Khashoggi times 50,000.

Yet we are supposed to recoil with shock and horror when Haspel – who might herself have a few admissions to make to senators on other matters – suggests that America’s latest favourite Middle Eastern tyrant knew about the forthcoming murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Does Menendez think that Saddam hadn’t signed the death sentences of thousands of Iraqi men and women – which, as we know from his later “trial”, he did – before meeting Rumsfeld? Or that Duterte, who has compared himself to Hitler, doesn’t sign off on the killing of his murdered drug “suspects”? Or that Suharto had absolutely nothing to do with half a million murders in Indonesia?

It’s instructive, indeed, that the thousands of innocents killed in the Yemen war, an offensive undertaken by Mohammed bin Salman himself with logistical support from the US and UK – and it doesn’t need Haspel to tell us this – hasn’t exactly left US senators shocked. Just another bunch of Arabs killing each other, I suppose. Starvation didn’t get mentioned by the senators emerging from Haspel’s closed hearing. Yet the senators know all about the mosque bombings, wedding party bombings, hospital bombings and school bombings in Yemen. Why no tears for these innocents? Or is that a bit difficult when the US military – on every occasion by accident, of course – has bombed mosques, wedding parties, hospitals and schools in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria?

No, the shock and horror and the need for full disclosure about the Saudis is primarily about Trump, and the need to tie him in to the cruel murder of a Washington Post journalist and US resident whose gruesome demise has been blamed by the American president upon a “vicious world”.

But there is something more than this, the appalling fact – albeit only a folk memory, perhaps, for many with scarcely any institutional memory at all – that 15 of those 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, that Osama bin Laden was a Saudi, that George W Bush secretly flew bin Laden family members out of the US after 9/11, that the Saudis themselves are heir to a blighted, rural, cruel version of Sunni Islam – based on the pernicious teachings of the 18th century Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab​ – which has inspired the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Isis and all the other killer cults whom we have proclaimed to be the West’s Enemy No 1.

Nailing Mohammed Bin Salman to a crucifix – a method of execution favoured by the Wahhabis – is an easy kill for US senators, of course. You hit the president and smash those unhappy historical details all in one fell swoop.

But don’t bank on it. Oil and arms are a potent mix. Old Abd al-Wahhab’s home is protected in a new tourist haunt in the suburbs of Riyadh. Come to think of it, the national mosque of Qatar – hostile to rapacious Saudi Arabia but another recipient of US weapons and a supporter of Islamist forces in Syria and Iraq – has a capacity for 30,000 souls, was built only seven years ago and is named after Abd al-Wahhab himself.

This is the dangerous world in which America and its allies now tread, disdainful of the thousands of Muslims who perish under our bombs and missiles and mortars – proxy-delivered by those we should distrust – ignorant of the religious currents which rumble on beneath our feet and beneath the House of Saud. Even the virtually useless information Haspel learned in the CIA’s “black centres” could have told senators this. If they had bothered to ask.

This article was originally published by  The Independent ” 

 

Western lawmakers call for ‘free elections’ in Bahrain

The file photo, taken on December 26, 2014, shows a Bahraini man holding up a placard reading in Arabic, "Your government and your parliament are without legitimacy," during an anti-government protest in the village of Jannusan, west of the capital Manama. (Photo by AFP)

The file photo, taken on December 26, 2014, shows a Bahraini man holding up a placard reading in Arabic, “Your government and your parliament are without legitimacy,” during an anti-government protest in the village of Jannusan, west of the capital Manama. (Photo by AFP)

Fri Nov 9, 2018 03:47PM

The government of Bahrain has come under fire by Western lawmakers against the backdrop of a ban on an opposition party from contesting the upcoming elections in the Arab country.

Bahrain is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections on November 24.

A cross-party group of British lawmakers, including Conservative MP Peter Bottomley, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, and Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, said in a letter to the Foreign Office that Bahrain “effectively bans major opposition figures from holding political office.” They added that a countless number of Bahraini individuals have been “incarcerated on charges that criminalize free expression and assembly.”

“Free and fair elections can only take place if citizens are able to express their views.”

The British lawmakers also referred to the forcible closure of the only independent newspaper, Al-Wasat, back in 2017 and the detention of at least 15 journalists and Bahrain’s most prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab for comments deemed critical of the Bahraini state.

“Bahrain may be a key strategic ally to the UK but human rights and democratic values are fundamental pillars of our society and foreign policy”, the letter concluded.

In Ireland, a cross-party group of lawmakers involved in foreign affairs urged the release of all political detainees in Bahrain and permitting international bodies to observe the elections.

Members of the European Parliament also slammed the Bahraini regime for missing the opportunity of the elections “to ease tensions and allow space for open dialogue to take place.”

Some 40 members of the European Parliament composed a letter addressed to Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah which is to be published next week.

The letter also points to “the enactment of increasingly repressive measures.”

“Under these conditions, Bahrain’s elections cannot be recognized by the international community as free, fair, or legitimate.”

Last week, US Congressmen James McGovern and Randy Hultgren, who are co-chairs of the bipartisan Tom Lantos human rights commission in the US House of Representatives, stressed that it would be difficult for the international community to recognize the upcoming elections as legitimate, noting that Manama “has dissolved two major opposition political societies, barred all members of the societies from running for office on an individual basis, and imprisoned a number of key figures, as well as writers and civil society leaders.”

“In addition, Bahrain’s electoral infrastructure inherently disadvantages the political opposition. There is no independent electoral commission and, to date, there has been no commitment by the government to permit either domestic or international observers,” the letter added.

In May, Bahrain’s parliament approved a bill barring members of the al-Wefaq from running in elections, the latest step in Manama’s political crackdown.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the kingdom on February 14, 2011.

They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and let a just system representing all Bahrainis be established.

Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.

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