Saudi Prisons and Courts: Is There Anything More Unjust?

Saudi Prisons and Courts: Is There Anything More Unjust?

By Latifa al-Husseini

Beirut – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is continuing his clampdown on every voice of dissent. It makes no difference whether power lies in his hands or those of his father, King Salman. He changed, deposed and imprisoned whoever he wanted. Things are done according to his will. He kills, buys or sells. He exercises control over whatever he wants. There is no obstacle blocking his way. Bin Salman’s policy of tyranny is evident across all of the kingdom’s internal matters. His behavior does not recognize the rights, opinions and demands of others. And for that reason, he believed there is simply no need for anyone to speak up. Therefore, the best solution is to silence and liquidate them.

Arrests and executions on the rise

When it comes to basic freedoms in the Kingdom, the situation is only getting more complicated. Activists have long complained of harassment and persecution. But the reign of Salman bin Abdul Aziz, which began four years ago, witnessed a sharp rise in the percentage of executions and unfair trials of prisoners of conscience, religious clerics and those taking part in peaceful movements. This is contrary to Bin Salman’s claims of reform that he made after the overthrow of former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in 2017.

This year alone, there have been 164 executions so far, and arbitrary arrests have exceeded dozens. The scale of these executions suggests that there is no decline in unfair liquidations. In 2016, the Kingdom executed 153 citizens who were denied fair trials. In 2017, more than 100 detainees were executed, and hundreds of clerics, academics and writers were jailed. In 2018, authorities arrested and tortured dozens of female and other human rights activists.

Organized crimes are committed on the orders of the higher-ups. In 2015, these officials opened the doors of employment for those wishing to join its team of executioners. The security services report directly to the crown prince’s office. At the forefront of the security services is the State Security, which has been charged with arrest campaigns against political, social, and human rights activists from different currents in addition to the princes belonging to the ruling family who may pose a potential threat to Bin Salman. Also, in the crosshairs are tribal elders and businessmen who have had their significant wealth confiscated by the authorities.

In the absence of international accountability, Bin Salman’s apparatuses are moving towards more repression and tyranny. Information from within the Kingdom reflects a dark atmosphere. There are no resolutions, but rather a deepening crisis.

A prominent Saudi lawyer, Taha al-Hajji, spoke to Al-Ahed News Website about the very poor human rights situation, which appears to lack even the slightest glimmer of hope. Al-Hajji says that the Saudi judiciary usually does not announce its intention to execute prisoners. Instead it accumulates the number of prisoners it plans to put to death and then carries out mass executions. These often coincide with political developments in the region, especially those concerning Iran.

Indications that new executions are imminent & those most at risk

In light of recent reports that the authorities are preparing to execute a number of detainees, al-Hajji points to heightened activity on the part of the judiciary in the past weeks. It is speeding up trials and rushing hearings. Whereas before they were only held every two months. This indicates that authorities are striving to achieve a goal, especially since the Saudi judiciary has never held back-to-back hearings in this manner.

Al-Hajji’s remarks back reports circulating about sessions held by the specialized criminal court in the past two weeks for a number of preachers, most notably Salman Al-Odah and Safar Al-Hawali. Al-Hajji’s hypothesis is that the Saudi regime is preparing for a new batch of mass executions. He points to a long list of political prisoners and explains that their conditions vary judicially. Some are appearing before the appeals court and others before the Supreme Court. There are some detainees whose cases are still new, and no judgment has been issued. However, the prosecution is requesting the death penalty (it submits its application to the court and the court then decides).

According to al-Hajji’s data, the number of death sentences in Saudi Arabia is much higher than published. He warns that the detainees most at risk of execution are Ali al-Nimr, Abdullah al-Zaher and Daoud al-Marhoun, who face old sentences that came into force but were stopped due to international pressure.

Mock trials and violations of prisoners’ rights

Those who keep up with the human rights situation in the Kingdom would notice that the detainees who appear in court are not granted fair trials, and that the judiciary does not listen to them or their representatives. Due to his experience with the Al-Saud courts for many years, Al-Hajji asserts that it is difficult to figure out who is being sentenced to death. The authorities make these rulings public through state-run media, which announces that death sentences were handed down, but they do not name the defendants.

However, their common denominator is that they were all accused of crimes stemming from participation in the political movement.

Al-Hajji, who left the kingdom after getting fed-up of the Saudi judiciary’s persecution of prisoners, explains that some judgments are issued before the indictment is made, especially when it comes to detainees who participated in demonstrations and what the authorities consider inciting public opinion against the regime.

“The trials of political detainees take place in the specialized criminal court, which is dedicated to terrorism and state security cases. This gives a clear picture of how the regime treats the peaceful demonstrator,” he adds.

According to al-Hajji, the features of the mock trials resemble those of real ones: an accused, a lawyer, a prosecution and a hearing. Up to this point, everything appears normal. But the reality is different. What takes place in the courtroom is nothing but a skit in which the case is over before it even begins. Moreover, sentences are often accompanied by confessions referred to as legal confessions that are extracted under torture.

The file is submitted to the judge only after the detainee has been forced to sign the confessions the authorities want. The judge only has to ask, “Is this your signature?” Then, the case is closed. The presumed “defendant” does not know what he signed and is later returned to solitary confinement and abused.

Al-Hajji points out that he always challenged the confessions on which the court bases its ruling, in an attempt to prove that they were extracted under duress and torture in order to underscore its invalidity. But the court does not take the challenge seriously.

He evokes his bitter experience with the judiciary saying, “I always demanded video footage during the interrogation and medical reports proving that the detainee had been tortured, but the court does not oblige the prosecution on this matter and completely ignores it.”

Violations of the rights of the detainees are never ending. The court does not allow a prisoner to appoint a lawyer until after the case begins in court. Accordingly, he is forbidden to communicate with his family during the investigation period. To make matters worse, it may take more than a year after being arrested to bring the accused to court. Sometimes the case is brought to the court of terrorism and then referred the same day to the criminal court, al-Hajji stresses.

Since the kingdom’s judiciary lacks integrity and credibility, Al-Hajji decided years ago to boycott the Saudi courts, after it became clear that the lawyer is only an ‘extra on set’, serving the authority and whitewashing its performance before the Western media. And the detainee never benefits from him.

The pain of those forgotten in prisons

Al-Hajji describes prison conditions as tragic. According to his previous observations and what is happening today, it is another world in detention, one not even seen in the movies. It is a strange wild world. And yet the authority carries out a huge media campaign to polish its image and the image of its prisons. The latest of which was shown on National Day when a large number of celebrities entered the prisons to praise the services there.

“The buildings are modern and well-equipped, but what about the torture chambers and solitary cells? These are violations in the dozens,” Al-Hajji says. “Mrs. Nassima Al-Sadah has been in solitary confinement for more than a year now. While it has been leaked that Loujain Al-Hathloul has been subjected to horrific forms of torture and harassment. There are some detainees who were imprisoned and were only set free after being murdered.”

Al-Hajji asserts that all those who enter prison are subjected to particularly harsh treatment during the first interrogation period. He points out that Shia political detainees are banned from practicing their religious rites and so are some books.

Al-Hajji draws a clear distinction in the way terrorist prisoners from Al-Qaeda and ISIS are treated. They are subjected to counseling programs, imprisoned for a few months, then released and given in-kind and material gifts in spite of their heinous crimes.

“This program does not include Shia detainees or prisoners of conscience. The authorities tried to say that they do it with them. However, the truth shows that it is carried out only at the end of the term that prisoners of conscience are serving, that is, before the prisoner is finally released. This means that none of the Shia detainees had been released before completing the sentence. They are not subjected to the counseling program at all. And this applies to the Sunni prisoners of conscience,” he adds.

The tragic situation of the detainees under Mohammed bin Salman’s reign worsened despite claims of reform. This grim picture prompts al-Hajji to predict new atrocities on the part of the authorities, especially since activists abroad are being chased and their families inside the Kingdom are being put under great pressure, where no dissident or opposition figure is free.

Saudi Executions to be Continued: 39 Shia Detainees on Death Row

Saudi Executions to be Continued: 39 Shia Detainees on Death Row

By Staff

In the course of the Saudi regime’s continued crackdown against the Kingdom’s eastern province Shia population, activists warned that 39 detainees from Qatif are facing execution.

Detainees who come from the Shia-populated Qatif include 5 who are facing a final execution sentence and 8 are facing a preliminary sentence.

In further details, human rights activists urged urgent action is imperative to stop the government’s brutality following unfair mass trials, during which the detainees were tortured.

Earlier in April, the Saudi regime blatantly executed 37 Saudi youth for being opponents amid sickening international silence.

Giving empty pretexts and neglecting any talk of human rights, the Saudi interior ministry announced Tuesday the execution of 37 Saudi men.

“The death penalty was implemented… on a number of culprits for adopting extremist “terrorist” ideologies and forming “terrorist” cells to corrupt and disrupt security as well as spread chaos and provoke sectarian strife,” the state news agency said in a tweet.

Related

 

Saudi Arabia up in Flames: Riyadh Is Headed for a Major Disaster

Image result for Saudi Arabia up in Flames: Riyadh Is Headed for a Major Disaster
Federico Pieraccini
September 19, 2019

On Saturday September 14, Yemen’s Houthi rebels announced that they had conducted a massive attack on several Aramco plants in Saudi Arabia, including the largest oil refinery in the world in Abqaiq, using 10 drones. On Twitter, dozens of videos and photos showed explosions, flames and the resulting damage.

The move is part of a retaliatory campaign by the Houthis in response to the indiscriminate bombings conducted by the Saudi air force over more than four years. UN estimates speak of more than 100,000 deaths and the largest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.

The Saudi kingdom finds itself in an increasingly dangerous situation as a result of the retaliatory capacity of the Houthis, able to inflict severe military and economic damage on Riyadh with their missile forces. Estimates suggest that Riyadh is losing something in the region of $300 million a day from the Houthi attacks. On Sunday September 15, a spokesman for the Saudi oil ministry spoke of damage that is yet to be calculated, possibly requiring weeks of repair. Meanwhile, Saudi oil production has halved following the Saturday attack. With a military budget of $200,000, the Houthis managed to inflict damage numbering in the billions of dollars.

House of Saud Isolated

The withdrawal of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates from the conflict in Yemen, driven by their desire to improve relations with Tehran, and the impossibility of the United States intervening directly in the conflict, has created significant problems for the House of Saud. The conflict is considered by the UN to be the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, and Trump has no intention of giving the Democratic presidential contenders any ammunition with which to attack him. Bolton’s dismissal could be one of those Trump signals to the deep state stating that he does not intend to sabotage his re-election hopes in 2020 by starting a new war.

This reluctance by Washington to directly support Israel and Saudi Arabia has aggravated the situation for Riyadh, which now risks seeing the conflict move to its own territory in the south of the country. The Houthi incursions into Saudi Arabia are now a daily event, and as long as Riyadh continues to commit war crimes against innocent Yemeni civilians, the situation will only worsen, with increasingly grave consequences for the internal stability of the Saudi system.

Saturday’s retaliation is the real demonstration of what could happen to the Saudi economy if Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) refuses to sit down and negotiate a way out of one of the worst military disasters of the contemporary era.

The invincibility of US weapons systems is only in Hollywood movies

The Houthis have in recent months managed to strike their targets in Saudi Arabia dozens of times using different aerial means. This highlights once again the total failure of American air-defense systems in the country.

In contrast, the multiple Russian anti-aircraft systems in Syria have achieved a 100% success rate with regard to interceptions, managing to disable (through electronic warfare) all the drones, mortars and missiles launched by jihadists against Russia’s bases in Tartus bases and Latakia.

Blame Iran!

Pompeo blames Tehran for the Yemeni attack on Saudi Arabia, of course without offering any proof. Riyadh and Tel Aviv are increasingly isolated in the Middle East. Washington is only able to offer tweets and paranoia about Iran to help its allies, given that a direct intervention is seen as being too risky for the global economy, not to mention the possibility of the conflict becoming a wider regional conflagration that would sink any chance of reelection in 2020 for the present administration.

Trump, Netanyahu and MBS are concocting a witches’ brew that will bring about a disaster of unprecedented proportions to the region. It is only a matter of time before we see the baleful consequences of their handiwork.

A hypothesis to be discarded

There is some talk doing the rounds that the Saudis conducted a false-flag attack on their own oil refineries, a hypothesis that enjoys a superficial plausibility. The resulting increase in the price of oil could be seen as having a positive effect on Aramco’s share price, it is true. But for the reasons given below, this hypothesis is actually not plausible.

The Houthis develop their own weapons, assisted by the Yemeni army. Used drones would cost less than $20,000 a piece. The military embargo on Yemen (enforced by the US and UK) has created a humanitarian disaster, limiting food and medicine. The delivery of weapons by sea therefore seems unlikely. As repeatedly stated by Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign minister of Iran, as well as representatives of Ansarullah, Tehran has no influence on the Houthis.

The Yemeni response is part of an increasing asymmetric logic, which has as its primary objectives the halt to Riyadh’s bombings of Yemen by increasing the costs of doing so such that they become unsustainable. The obvious pressure point is the 20 billion barrels in strategic reserves.

There is no need for a false flag to blame Iran for the work of the Houthis. The corporate media is enough to have the false accusations repeated without the help of the Israelis or US-based neocons.

The Saudis are more cautious, even if unable to decide how to proceed. In Yemen, they have no more cards to play: they do not want to sit down and deal with Ansarullah, Tehran is unassailable, while Tel Aviv is pushing for a conflict, with Riyadh offered to be sacrificed.

I have been writing for months that, sooner or later, an event will occur that will change the regional balance in a possible conflict with Iran. This happened on Saturday, when half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production was brought to a halt by an attack.

Conclusion

There could not be any worse news for the neocons, Wahhabis and Zionists. If the Houthis could inflict such damage using 10 drones, then Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Washington must be having conniptions at the thought of what the Iranians would be capable of doing in the event that they themselves were attacked.

Any power (in this case the US and their air-defense systems) and its close ally would do everything to avoid suffering such a humiliation that would only serve to reveal their military vulnerabilities.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow is seen by many in Israel as a failure. It is confirmed in Tel Aviv that the Zionist state’s recent attacks in Syria have been quashed by Russian intervention, sending an unambiguous message to Netanyahu.

Netanyahu and MBS, I reiterate, are heading towards the political abyss. And given their inability to handle the situation, they will do everything in their power to draw Washington into their plans against Iran.

It is all certainly vain. But in the coming weeks, I expect further provocations and tensions in the Middle East.

Bibi in Banderastan, or the importance of words

Bibi in Banderastan, or the importance of words

[this column was written for the Unz Review]

Israeli Prime Minister made it to Kiev today, where he was greeted by the (pseudo) “traditional” Ukronazi slogan “Glory to the Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!”. For somebody like me who dislikes Zionism and Nazism just about the same, it was a sweet irony to see an Israeli Prime Minister officially traveling to the Nazi-occupied Ukraine to commemorate the massacre of Jews at Babii Iar greeted by the very same slogan which the Jews murdered at Babii Iar heard from their Banderite executioners while they were being shot.

STOP!

Do you already hear the choir of voices protesting: how can anyone expecting to be taken seriously write a paragraph about the civil war in the Ukraine with all the following words: Ukronazi, Zionism, Nazism, Nazi-occupied, Jews and Banderite?

That is a very good question.

But I have a better one!

How can anyone expecting to be taken seriously write a paragraph about the civil war in the Ukraine WITHOUT all the following words: Ukronazi, Zionism, Nazism, Nazi-occupied, Jews and Banderite?

Let’s begin with the first question. The obvious implied criticism behind the first question, is very simple and it assumes that there is a profound and inherent contradiction between everything Nazi and Jews/Zionism. Speaking about a “Nazi Jew” or a “Nazi Zionist” is just as nonsensical as speaking about dry water or and diamonds raining from the sky!

Except that both dry water and diamonds raining from the sky do exist in real nature, so let’s not jump to conclusions too fast and see which contradictions are real, and which ones are only apparent.

I won’t even go into the (deliciously controversial) topic of the historical fact of the collaboration of the German National Socialists with various Zionist organizations which, rather naively, thought that a nationalist like Hitler would understand their own nationalism and help them to emigrate to Palestine. But this goes even further than that as Hannah Arendt said, in her superb book “Eichmann in Jerusalem” (see excerpt here or, even better, read the full book (for free!): various Jewish organizations continued to work with/(for?) the Nazis well into the so-called “Holocaust”.

[Sidebar: to be honest, I don’t think that we, safely sitting in the comfort of our homes, should be too quick to condemn these Jewish organizations. Yes, of course, many of them were “naive” (and I am being polite here), but others must have realized that European Jews are in a great deal of danger and must be evacuated at any cost and if the only way to achieve such an evacuation was to deal with the Nazis, then so be it! This is no different than offering a bribe to a jail guard to obtain some kind of favor. Thus I think that Jewish organizations which today categorically deny having collaborated with the Nazis are mistaken on not one, but two grounds: first, the truth is coming out and it is impossible to suppress it and, second, there is nothing shameful in swallowing your disgust to save a person. Except that for the racially deluded minds of modern Zionists, such an admission would take the air out of their silly notion of racial superiority. Hence the categorically crimethink nature of speaking about this]

No, what I want to suggest here is very different: in our 21st century, most of the 20th century terminology has lost its meaning. What is a liberal (no, not Hillary!)? What is a Communist (no, not Obama!)? What is a Christian (no, not the Pope!)? What is a democrat (no, not Kamala Harris!)? What is a patriot (no, most definitely not Trump!)? What is a tyrannical dictator (nope, not Putin!)?

You think that I am being facetious here?

Then explain to me how a rabidly Takfiri regime like the one in Saudi Arabia can get help from Zionist Israel? Or how the “democratic West” gave its full support to Takfiris in Chechnia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya and Syria? How is it that during the so-called “Global War on Terror”, (which was supposed to be officially waged against al-Qaeda and its various local subsidiaries, in retaliation for 9/11) the various Takfiri groups only got stronger? Yet what we really see is that the US provides training, financing, coordination and even close air support for pretty much every al-Qaeda type out there?

There are two phenomena which explain this gradual dissolution of meanings into meaningless and insipid categories: first, the correct meaning of many terms has been covered by a thick layer of ideological imperatives and, second, most 21st century politicians couldn’t care less what any word really means. All they care about is framing the discussion in a way which makes it easy for them to obfuscate their numerous crimes.

The truth about the Ukraine is very simple: yes, there are bona-fide Nazis in the Ukraine and, yes, they have a lot of influence due to their quasi monopoly on violence and total collapse of the state. True, these hardcore Ukronazi freaks are a rather small minority, but one which is well organized, well funded and fully prepared to use violence.

Jewbanderite

There are also a lot of Zionists in the Ukraine. And while these folks silently hate each other, they hate (and fear!) Russia much, much more; just like mobsters can fight each other, but can unite against any common threat (such as, say, an honest police chief).

Oh, and yes, there are also plenty of very influential Jews in the Ukraine (Kolomoiskii and Zelenskii being the two best known ones right now) and they have the full backing of the AngloZionist Empire and all of the Zionists interests in the West. And I think that most folks fully understand that. The real reason behind all the protests about me using terms such as “Ukronazi” stems from a very different cause.

The problem is that you get a lot of ruffled feathers when you suggest that the USA, which is supposed to be some kind of “land of the free and the home of the brave” aka “the indispensable nation” is found in bed with the self same folks who the US propaganda machine paints as arch-villains: Nazis, of course, but also Takfiris. As for the Zionists, it would be wrong to say that the US of A is “in bed” with them. No, it’s even worse: the much-maligned and ridiculed term of ZOG (as in “Zionist Occupation Government”) is much more accurate, but it offends those who rather think of themselves as “rulers of the world” than the voiceless serfs of a regime of foreign occupation!

US Americans love to thump their chests while mantrically chanting some nonsense along the lines of “USA is number 1!” and they get really mad when they are told that “the party is over” which I did in this article in which I wrote:

Both US Americans and Europeans will, for the very first time in their history, have to behave like civilized people, which means that their traditional “model of development” (ransacking the entire planet and robbing everybody blind) will have to be replaced by one in which these US Americans and Europeans will have to work like everybody else to accumulate riches

And, just by coincidence, Paul Craig Roberts recently wrote an article entitled “American Capitalism Is Based On Plunder” in which he explained that US foreign policy is basically driven by a plunder imperative and that if that imperative cannot be realized abroad, it will be implemented at home (I wonder if he will be accused of being anti-American or even of “Communism”? It is quite striking to see a paleo-conservative like Paul Craig Roberts basically paraphrasing Lenin and his statement that “imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism” (a historical truism which the western propaganda system is doing its best to bury, obfuscate, ridicule and the like).

Writing things like these typically result in a barrage of ad hominems which, by itself, is quite telling (usually the same 2-3 folks, some probably remunerated for their efforts) There is a Russian saying that “the hat of the head of the thief is burning” (see here for an explanation of this rather weird expression) and this is exactly what is happening here: the folks protesting the loudest are always the ones who are most unwilling to stop the planetary plunder, messianic arrogance and imperial hubris in which they were raised. It is not only their livelihoods which are threatened by such talk, but even their very identity. Hence the very real and very high level of rage they feel.

Finally, there are all the Nazi sympathizers who absolutely hate Jews and for whom any notion of Nazi and Zionist collaboration are just as much a case of crimethink as it is for Zionist Jews to admit that they have collaborated with bona fide Nazis many times in the past.

However, if we set aside silly ideological shackles, we can immediately observe that the kind of ideology of racial superiority which the Nazis are known for can also be found in the Judaic (religious) and Zionist (secular) ideologies. In fact, both National-Socialism and Zionism are just two amongst many more types of European nationalisms which have their root in 19th century ideological categories.

Let’s try a different approach: what do Ukie “dobrobats”, al-Qaeda forces in Syria, KLA units in Kosovo and Israeli settlers in Palestine have in common? Correct! They are all first and foremost *thugs* who all prey on the weak and defenseless. In other words, they are the perfect tool to force civilians to surrender and accept some kind of foreign rule. That foreign rule is, in each case, the one of the AngloZionist Empire, of course. This, in turn, means that their official ideologies are almost irrelevant, because in reality they are all servants of the Empire (whether they understand it or not).

Conclusion one: it’s all a big lie!

Yes, it is a big lie. All of it. And this is how we end up with an Israeli Prime Minister who, by any criteria, is not only a Fascist, but also a Nazi as long as we make it clear that his brand of Nazism is a Jewish one, not a Germanic one. And it’s not just Bibi Netanyahu who does not mind dealing with Ukronazis, so the the the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine (see here for details). As for the said Ukronazis, they are now trying hard to deny that Bandara and his gang massacred Jews during WWII. As for Zelenskii, he is most definitely not a Nazi, but he has already caved in to the Ukronazi ideology (i.e. a form of Nazism which substitutes myths about “ancient Ukrs” to the more traditional Germanic myths about the Aryan-Germanic “race”). Then there is Kolomoiskii who is simply a typical Jewish mobster who has no personal ideology whatsoever and who has no love for the bona fide Ukronazis, but who is being very careful about how to purge them from power lest they beat him yet again. And above them all, we have the leaders of the Empire who use ideological categories as slurs but who don’t give a damn who they back as long as it is against Russia.

Against this background it is worth asking a simple question: do these words even matter? Do they still have any kind of meaning?

Conclusion two: yes, words do still matter!

I believe that they do, very much so! This is precisely why the legacy corporate ziomedia and those brainwashed by it freak out when they see expressions such as “AngloZionist”,“Ukronazi” or even the rather demure “Israel Lobby”. When somebody comes up with a powerful and correct descriptor, say like “ZOG” – the propaganda machine immediately kicks into high gear to shoot down in flames whatever author and article dared to use it. In fact, there are at least two types of wannabe word censors which typically show up:

TYPE ONE: the real McCoy. These are the sincere folks (whether of the Nazi or Zionist persuasion) who are truly outraged and offended that such “hallowed” words as Nazi/Zionist (pick one) can be combined with “abominations” such as Nazi/Zionist (pick the other one). These are all the Third Reich nostalgics, the defenders of a “White Christian West” and all the rest of them neo-Nazis.

TYPE TWO: the paid trolls. These are the folks whose task it is to obfuscate the real issues, to bury them under tons of vapid ideological nonsense; the best way to do that is to misdirect any discussion away from the original topic and sidetrack it into either a barrage of ad hominems or ideological clichés.

Seriously, what we are witnessing today is a new age of censorship in which government and corporations work hand in hand to crush (ban, censor, demonetize, algorithmically purge and otherwise silence) all those who challenge the official ideology and its many narratives. It would be naïve to the extreme to assume that the so-called “alternative media” and blogosphere have been spared such an effort at silencing ideological heresies.

Next time these self-appointed enforcers of the politically correct doxa come out, try this experiment: when you read their comments, don’t just look at what they write, but also try to guess why they write what they write and then mentally place a T1 or T2 sign next to their comments and you will soon see that they follow a careful pattern 🙂

The Saker

Down The Path of Justice, Oppression Becomes an Inspiration

By Nour Rida

So little has been written in mainstream media on Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, yet many people are learning about his case and cause. Nigerian people have been taking to the streets of the capital, to demand the immediate release of ailing the Muslim cleric.

Sheikh Zakzaky, who is in his mid-sixties, lost his left eyesight in a 2015 raid by security forces that left more than 300 of his followers and three of his sons dead. His wife also sustained serious wounds. The Islamic Human Rights Commission [IHRC], based in London, said earlier this week that the cleric’s health condition has further deteriorated, since he was reportedly poisoned in prison.

On this note, the Sheikh’s daughter, Suhaila al-Zakzaky, told al-Ahed news “The updates we have on my father’s condition is that he is still having difficulty getting things done. He is experiencing a lot of pain physically, and as a result it is difficult for him to sleep. His blood pressure has been fluctuating. Generally we have been very concerned; the doctors have not been able to conduct any proper further investigations into his condition. So, there is no full or conclusive statement on the status of his health.”

According to earlier reports, medical examinations on the Sheikh have found that the levels of lead toxicity in his body are much higher than the critical levels previously reported and 45 times over the normal acceptable limit. They have also found worrying levels of cadmium poisoning in the Sheikh. The news said that such are the levels of toxicity that the doctors have concluded that Sheikh Zakzaky is at risk of death unless he is urgently treated.

The daughter said she had no information on how lead poisoning took place. “I am not exactly sure how lead got there, they might have done it, and a medical team must investigate the case to conclude if he was poisoned or comment on how the lead got into his blood in first place.”

Answering whether she has direct contact with her father today, Suhaila pointed out “Yes, we do have direct contact because they gave him a phone now. Since the court case, they have allowed him to have a phone.”

Nigerians, according to the young activist, are protesting the injustice to which Sheikh Zakzaky is being subjected. “As you know there have been continuous protests almost on a daily basis and when it comes to the people, tremendous numbers have come to condemn what the government is doing,” Suhaila noted, adding “There are also some people who believe whatever the news says and think that the government is doing the right thing. The president’s aide held a press conference and claimed that the government has no power to interfere in the judicial process. However, the Islamic movement is trying as hard as possible to spread awareness and allow people to understand what is truly going on. It is so far very impressive how people are realizing the truth, and even many people in the government today condemn what is taking place.”

In regards on how this experience has affected her life, Suhaila explained “I would say that we have always expected possible adversities to be faced, and the massacre and the events that followed after to me, are more like what I would call the cost of this path (of justice). The only thing I can say is that it affects my outlook on everything. You know we have already sacrificed down this path, therefore it serves as an inspiration or motivation which would hopefully make us more steadfast.”

Furthermore, Suhaila underscored that she strongly believes that the detention of her father does make the Islamic movement stronger. “I believe that many people are finding out more about the Islamic movement not only due to the detention of my father but also due to the massacres that have happened. In terms of Nigeria for example, we have had a great level of supporters that we never knew we had. These people who show support to the Islamic movement did not bother to look into the Islamic movement earlier or even understand what it’s about. But now they show a great deal of support. Even on an international level, I believe that people, especially outside of Nigeria do not know much about the Islamic movement and with the level of media silence still a lot of people have become acquainted with the Islamic movement because of this, and hence yes I think it makes the Islamic movement stronger.”

Suhaila concluded that she, like many other young activists, will remain to participate in protests to sound her objection to the unjust detention of the Sheikh who is not only a father but also a leader in her eyes.

Related News/Posts

The Rise and Fall of ISIS صعود وسقوط داعش

August 10, 2019

by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog

A year or two ago, I would have never imagined that I would be writing an article with this title, at least not this soon; but things change.

If anything, my previous articles about ISIS which I wrote back between 2014 and 2017 were very alarming and predicted the worst, but again, things change, and back then there were many reasons to feel alarmed.

I have reiterated in that era of the past that the ISIS ideology had deep roots in fundamentalist Islam, and I still have this view. I have professed many times that this fundamentalist doctrine had been in place long before Christopher Columbus set a foot on American soil and that we cannot blame the CIA, Israel, the UK, or the West in general for the creation of this ideology, and I am not retracting. I have also said that those fundamentalist views do not represent real Islam, and there is no change in heart on this aspect either. So what has changed?

In this context, we are talking about the ideological rise and fall of ISIS. We are not talking about the political aspects and the horde of players who helped create, manipulate and employ ISIS for different reasons and agendas. With all of those players however, ISIS needed the support base, and that support base was the Muslim youth who are disenchanted by world events and the manner the world views Islam. Furthermore, they are disgruntled by the governments of the Muslims World and their links to the West: links they consider as treasonous and shameful. It was this mindset that was the recruitment base for ISIS; not the Pentagon.

So for the benefit of clarification, I must herein emphasize that there has always been a perverted version of Islam that founded itself on violence; in total contradiction to the Quranic teachings that clearly forbid coercion and oppression. This version was finally committed to a written doctrine, written by Ibn Taymiyyah; the founding doctrine of the Wahhabi Saudi sect.

When the West “discovered” this doctrine, it tried to employ it to its advantage, and this was how Al-Qaeda and ISIS were created, with Al-Qaeda’s role to hurt the USSR in Afghanistan, and ISIS to topple the legitimate and secular Syrian Government.

The not so funny thing about ISIS was that when the proclamation of creating the Islamist state back in mid-2014, the Caliphate passion became something easy to grow and self-nurture in the hearts and minds of many Sunni Muslims across the globe; including moderate ones.

Harking back at what happened back then; one honestly cannot blame them much. After all, many of the then Iraqi ISIS commanders and fighters were former Saddam-era Iraqi Army personnel. Many of them have even actually walked away from the “dictator” in the hope that the “regime change” was going to be for the better, only to soon realize the state of mess and mayhem that the American invasion created.

Before ISIS “had the chance” to show its ugly face, may moderate Muslims thought that this new force emerging out of Mesopotamia, one that does not recognize the border lines that Western colonialists have drawn between Sham (Syria) and Iraq, one that wants to unite Muslims, is perhaps “the one” to go for and support.

Ironically, most of those Muslims today look back at those days and either forget or wish to forget that at one stage, at some level, deep down in their hearts they supported ISIS, albeit not fully knowing what it stood for.

It was this subtle and covert support for ISIS by some elements of the global Sunni rank-and-file that gave ISIS a fertile ground for luring in recruits and that was the major cause for concern.

If anyone looks for evidence that supports this statement, then he/she need not go further than looking at the recent history of terror attacks in the EU (especially France) and the UK.

After the horrendous Bastille Day attack in Nice in the summer of 2016, a new direction for terror was established, and the perpetrator proved that one does not need a weapon to kill. His weapon was a truck, and he didn’t even need to buy it. He rented it.

After this infamous attack and what followed it, I among many others, predicted more of such events, and they continued for a while, and then suddenly they stopped. Why? This is the question.

For ISIS to be have been able to keep its momentum and growing support base, it needed to gain the hearts and minds of Muslims. But to do so, it needed to score victories and be able to revive Muslim nostalgia. Both are equally important.

In the beginning, it boasted its victories and the biggest of which was the takeover of Mosul; Iraq’s second largest city. This was how the ears of many Muslims worldwide pricked up and poised themselves to hear more. Some jumped on the band wagon straight away, but the majority braced and waited for more evidence that ISIS in general, and Baghdadi in specific, are the right ones to trust and follow.

Image result for isis crimes

What followed the capture of Mosul by ISIS however was nothing short of disgrace for ISIS; one that exposed its true inner ugliness. And instead of being able to capitalize on its initial momentum and promising to achieve more of it by adopting at least some of the virtues of Islam, ISIS turned its inability to achieve further military victories into a blood bath, looting and a sex slave market.

Image result for isis crimes

Before too long, even some of the most ardent Muslim supporters of ISIS turned away from it, and then against it, to the degree that they now even forget or deny that they once supported its baby steps.

What is interesting to note is that the move from secularism to Islam has not changed in the Muslim world. An increasing number of Muslim girls are wearing the Hijab with or without ISIS, but ISIS itself has lost its sway with the general Sunni Muslim populace.

What is interesting to see is that the definition of what is a “real Muslim” is changing, and changing quickly. And whilst the move towards Hijab and all what comes with it is still going full steam ahead, there seems to be a growing trend in the Muslim World towards moderation.

The ISIS fundamentals of black and white doctrine seem to be becoming increasingly tolerant of certain shades of grey. Even some personal Facebook friends and friends of friends who have brandished their photos performing Pilgrimage at Mecca don’t seem to be at dis-ease posting other photos brandishing a Heineken. To someone outside the Muslim Faith this may not sound like a big deal, but in reality, it is.

This all sounds good, but what has happened here really?

ISIS has definitely lost the plot. Fortunately for the world, irrespective of who are/were the people “behind” ISIS, its recruitment base had to come from Muslims; especially the youth. Having lost the ability to draw more recruits and enthusiasts who pledge their actions and lives to Baghdadi without even having to be formal ISIS members, ISIS as an organization and a name is now a spent force, and dare I say a figment of the past.

This however does not mean that the Muslim community has “immunized” itself against potential new ISIS-like organizations and agendas.

The initial rise of ISIS could have well been the result of a nostalgic remnant of a certain belief system that many Muslims did not even want to investigate and study properly to see if it really and truly conforms with the Teachings of Islam and all other religions. The fall of ISIS however heralds a new unprecedented era in the Muslim mind, and this calls for great optimism.

Perhaps for the first time in the history of Islam ever since its inception, Muslims are now beginning to examine some teachings they inherited. Even Saudi Arabia and its infamous Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman (MBS) seem to be sick and tired of the old rules and dogmas that allow this and prohibit that; based on no foundation at all. I have never been a fan of MBS, but having lived in Saudi Arabia for a while, I had always thought that this country would never allow women to drive, never ever. The fact that he changed this is a great step in the right direction. This does not take away from MBS’s genocidal activities in Yemen of course, but on the dogmatic side of things, this is a huge step towards reform. In Saudi Arabia there is also a call to have a second take on the Hadith (the spoken word of Prophet Mohamed) in an attempt to identify certain teachings that promote violence and that are incompatible with Islam. The rationale behind this is that they were never the words of the Prophet to begin with and that they might have been injected into the huge discourse by others with political agendas. Such an initiative was totally unfathomable only up till a few years ago.

Does this mean that we are seeing the end of Muslim fundamentalist-based violence? Hopefully we are, but the real answer to this question is for the whole Muslim community to answer.

The truth is that ISIS may be done and dusted, but the ideology behind lives on.

It is hoped for that the actions of ISIS will be remembered for eternity. It is hoped that Muslims realize that if they truly want to pursue the fundamentalist dreams of conquest and world dominion, then they cannot distance themselves from the legacy of ISIS. It is hoped that they look forward to a new world that is open to all religions and doctrines.

I am a firm believer that God created man in His own image, and part of this image is goodness and love of goodness; and Muslims are part of this creation. After all, Muslims, all Muslims believe in the Hadith that says: “The best people are those who most benefit to other people”. Russia and Syria might have won the military war on ISIS, but it is Muslims who have won the spiritual fight. Muslims: 1, ISIS: 0.

ِArabic Translation 

By UP

صعود وسقوط داعش

غسان كادي

 ، لم أكن أتخيل منذ عام أو عامين أبداً أنني سأكتب مقالًا بهذا العنوان؛

في ذلك الوقت كانت هناك أسباب كثيرة للشعور بالقلق، لكن الأمور تتغير.

في مقالاتي السابقة حول داعش التي كتبت في الفترة ما بين 2014 و 2017 كانت مقلقة للغاية وتوقعت الأسوأ ،  لكن الأمور تغيرت .

في تلك الحقبة الماضية كررت أن أيديولوجية داعش لها جذور عميقة في الإسلام الأصولي ،وقلت أيضًا أن تلك الآراء الأصولية لا تمثل الإسلام الحقيقي ولا يزال لدي هذا الرأي. فالعقيدة الأصولية كانت موجودة قبل فترة طويلة من اكتشاف الأرض الأمريكية وعليه لا يمكننا اتهام وكالة الاستخبارات المركزية أو إسرائيل أو المملكة المتحدة أو الغرب عمومًا بإنشاء هذه الأيديولوجية، وأنا هنا لا أتراجع. إذن ما الذي تغير؟

 في هذا السياق، نتحدث عن الصعود ولسقوط الأيديولوجي لداعش، ولا نتحدث عن الجوانب السياسية واللاعبين الذين ساعدوا في إنشاء وتوظيفها لأسباب وجداول أعمال مختلفة. لأنه مع توفر كل هؤلاء اللاعبين، كانت داعش بحاجه إلى بيئة حاضنة وقاعدة الدعم، وكانت البيئة الحاضنة وقاعدة الدعم هي الشباب المسلم المحبط بالأحداث العالمية والطريقة التي ينظر بها العالم إلى الإسلام والاستياء من حكومات العالم الإسلامي وروابطهم الخائنة والمخزية بالغرب. هذا الاحباط والاستياء مكن البنتاغون من التوظيف السياسي لداعش.

لذلك لا بد أن أشدد هنا على الوجود الدائمً لنسخة منحرفة من الإسلام تأسست على العنف ؛ في تناقض تام مع التعاليم القرآنية التي تمنع بوضوح الإكراه والقمع. نسخة كتبها ابن تيمية ؛ العقيدة المؤسسة للطائفة الوهابية السعودية.

عندما “اكتشف” الغرب هذه العقيدة المنحرفة، حاول أن يوظفها لصالحه ، وهكذا تم إنشاء القاعدة وداعش، القاعدة لإلحاق الأذى بالاتحاد السوفيتي في أفغانستان، وداعش لإسقاط الشرعية والعلمانية الحكومة السورية.

 لا شك ان إعلان داعش عن إنشاء الدولة الإسلامية في منتصف عام 2014 ، أيقظ الحنين والأمل بعودة الخلافة في  قلوب وعقول العديد من المسلمين السنة في جميع أنحاء العالم ؛ بما في ذلك المعتدلين. وبصراحة لا يمكن إلقاء اللوم عليهم كثيرا. بعد كل شيء ، فإن العديد من قادة ومقاتلي داعش العراقيين كانوا في السابق من أفراد الجيش العراقي في عهد صدام. لقد ابتعد كثير منهم عن “الديكتاتور” على أمل أن يتم “تغيير النظام” للأفضل ، لكنهم انضموا لداعش يسبب حالة الفوضى التي أحدثها الغزو الأمريكي.

قبل أن تظهر داعش وجهها القبيح ، ربما اعتقد المسلمون المعتدلون أن هذه القوة الجديدة الخارجة من بلاد ما بين النهرين ، والتي لا تعترف بالحدود التي رسمها المستعمرون الغربيون بين الشام (سوريا) والعراق ، هي القوة التي تستطيع توحيد المسلمين، والتي يجب دعمها .

ومن المفارقات، أن معظم هؤلاء المسلمين عندما ينظرون اليوم إلى الوراء، إما ينسون أو يودون أن ينسوا أنهم في مرحلة ما، في أعماق قلوبهم، أيدوا داعش ، وإن كانوا لا يعرفون تمامًا معنى ذلك.

هذا الدعم الخفي والسري لداعش من قبل بعض التيار السني العالمي هو الذي أعطى داعش أرضية خصبة لجذب المجندين وكان ذلك هو السبب الرئيسي للقلق.

إذا كان أي شخص يبحث عن أدلة تدعم هذه المقولة، فلن يحتاج الا إلى أبعد النظر في الهجمات الإرهابية في الاتحاد الأوروبي (وخاصة فرنسا) والمملكة المتحدة.

في الهجوم المروع الذي وقع يوم الباستيل في نيس في صيف عام 2016 ، أثبت مرتكب الجريمة أنه لا يحتاج إلى سلاح ليقتل. كان سلاحه شاحنة ، ولم يكن بحاجة لشرائها. فقد استأجرها.

وبعد هذا الهجوم المشين وما تلاه ، توقعت من بين أشياء كثيرة أخرى حدوث المزيد من هذه الأحداث ، التي استمرت لفترة، ثم توقفت فجأة.

لماذا ا؟ هذا هو السؤال.

لتتمكن داعش من الحفاظ على دعم بيئتها الحاضنة المتنامية ، كانت تحتاج إلى كسب قلوب وعقول المسلمين. وللقيام بذلك ، كان من الضروري تسجيل الانتصارات لإحياء حنين المسلمين للخلافة.

في البداية ، تفاخرت داعش بانتصاراتها وكان أكبرها الاستيلاء على الموصل. ثاني أكبر مدن العراق. وهكذا أصبحت آذان العديد من المسلمين في جميع أنحاء العالم تستعد وتهيئ نفسها لسماع المزيد. قفز البعض على عربة داعش مباشرة ، لكن الغالبية استعدت وانتظرت للحصول على مزيد من الأدلة على أن داعش بشكل عام ، والبغدادي على وجه الخصوص ، هما الشخصان المناسبان للثقة والمتابعة.

لكن ما أعقب استيلاء داعش على الموصل لم يكن أقل من وصمة عار كشفت عن قبحها الداخلي الحقيقي. وبدلاً من أن تتمكن داعش من الاستفادة من زخم انتصارها الأول ووعدها بتحقيق المزيد من ذلك من خلال ابراز من فضائل الإسلام على الأقل ، حوّلت داعش عجزها عن تحقيق المزيد من الانتصارات العسكرية إلى حمام دم ونهب وسوق للاسعباد الجنسي.

قبل مضي وقت طويل ، حتى ابتعد بعض أكثر المؤيدين الإسلاميين المتحمسين لداعش عنها ، ثم تحولوا  ضدها ، لدرجة أنهم الآن نسوا أو أنكروا أنهم أيدوا ذات مرة خطواتها الاولى .

 ما يثير الاهتمام هو ان فقدان داعش سيطرتها على عامة المسلمين السنة لم ينعكس على عملية الانتقال من  العلمانية إلى الإسلام لم يتغير في العالم الإسلامي. فعدد يرتدي عدد الفتيات المسلمات المحجبات يزداد

وما يثير الاهتمام هو أن تعريف “المسلم الحقيقي” يتغير ويتغير بسرعة. وبينما لا يزال ارتداء الحجاب وكل ما يأتي معه في تزايد ، يبدو أن هناك اتجاهًا متزايدًا في العالم الإسلامي نحو الاعتدال.

يبدو أن أساسيات مذهب داعش الأسود والأبيض أصبحت أكثر تسامحًا مع بعض ظلال الرمادي. حتى بعض الأصدقاء الشخصيين على وأصدقاء الأصدقاء قاموا بتلوين صورهم وهم يؤدون رحلة الحج في مكة المكرمة ،و لا يبدو أنهم لا يرغبون في نشر صور أخرى تحمل علامة هاينكن. بالنسبة لشخص من خارج الديانة الإسلامية ، قد لا يبدو هذا أمرًا كبيرًا ، لكنه في الواقع كذلك.

كل هذا يبدو جيدا ، ولكن ما حدث هنا حقا؟

بالتأكيد فقد فشلت مؤامرة داعش لحسن الحظ بالنسبة للعالم ، وبغض النظر عمن يكون / كان “وراء” تنظيم “داعش” ، كان المسلمين خاصة الشباب قاعدة التجنيد؛ فقدت داعش القدرة على جذب المزيد من المجندين والمتحمسين الذين نذروا أفعالهم وحياتهم للبغدادي دون الحاجة حتى إلى أن يكونوا أعضاء رسميين ، وأصبحت  داعش كمنظمة واسم الآن قوة مستهلكة ، وأتجرأ على القول، صورة من الماضي

لكن هذا لا يعني أن المجتمع المسلم “قام بتحصين” نفسه ضد المنظمات وجداول الأعمال المحتملة الجديدة المشابهة لداعش.

كان من الممكن أن يكون الصعود الأول لداعش هو  بقايا حنين لنظام معتقد معين لم يرغب الكثير من المسلمين حتى في دراسته بشكل صحيح لمعرفة ما إذا كان يتوافق حقًا مع تعاليم الإسلام وجميع الأديان الأخرى. لكن سقوط داعش يبشر بعهد جديد لم يسبق له مثيل في العقل الإسلامي ، وهذا يستدعي تفاؤلًا كبيرًا.

ربما لأول مرة في تاريخ الإسلام منذ نشأته ، بدأ المسلمون الآن في دراسة بعض التعاليم التي ورثوها. حتى في المملكة العربية السعودية وولي العهد السعودي الأمير محمد بن سلمان  يبدو أنهما سئموا من القواعد والعقائد القديمة التي تسمح بهذا وتحظر ذلك ؛ بدون أي أساس على الإطلاق.

لم أكن من عشاق محمد بن سلمان، ولكني كنت أعيش في المملكة العربية السعودية لفترة من الوقت ، وكنت أظن دائمًا أن هذا البلد لن يسمح أبدًا للنساء بقيادة السيارات، لكن هذا حدث وهو خطوة كبيرة في الاتجاه الصحيح و خطوة كبيرة نحو الإصلاح يجب ان لا تنسينا الإبادة الجماعية التي تقوم بها السعودية في اليمن بالطبع.

في المملكة العربية السعودية ، هناك أيضًا دعوة لإعادة النظر في الحديث (الكلمة المنطوقة للنبي محمد) في محاولة لتحديد التعاليم المنسوبة للنبي التي تروج للعنف والتي تتعارض مع االقرآن واعتبارها احاديث منحولة تم حقنها من قبل الآخرين لتبرير اجندات سياسية. مثل هذه المبادرة لم تكن ممكنة على الإطلاق قبل بضع سنوات.

هل هذا يعني أننا نشهد نهاية للعنف الإسلامي القائم على الأصولية؟ نأمل أن نكون ، لكن الإجابة الحقيقية على هذا السؤال هي برسم المجتمع المسلم بأسره.

والحقيقة هي أن داعش يقد هزمت ولكن الأيديولوجية الكامنة ورائها ما زالت مستمرة.

من المأمول أن يتذكر  المسلمون أفعال داعش إلى الأبد وأن يلفظوا إرث تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية وأحلامها الأصولية المتمثلة في الفتح والسيطرة على العالم ، من المأمول أن يتطلعوا إلى عالم جديد مفتوح لجميع الأديان والمذاهب.

أنا من أشد المؤمنين أن الله خلق الإنسان على صورته ، وجزء من هذه الصورة هو الخير ومحبة الخير ؛ والمسلمون جزء من هذا الخلق. بعد كل شيء ، المسلمون ، جميع المسلمين يؤمنون بالحديث الذي يقول:  “خير ا النَّاس انفعهم ” للنَّاس

ربما تكون روسيا وسوريا قد ربحت الحرب العسكرية على داعش ، ولكن المسلمين هم الذين فازوا في المعركة الروحية. المسلمون: 1 ، داعش: 0.

Saudi Arabia’s ‘Strategic Plan’ To Take Turkey Down

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has drawn up a plan to target Erdogan’s government following Khashoggi’s murder

By David Hearst, Ragip Soylu – Middle East Eye

Saudi Arabia has begun implementing a “strategic plan” to confront the Turkish government, after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman decided he was being “too patient” with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.

The plan is detailed in a confidential report based on open- and closed-source intelligence prepared by the kingdom’s ally, the United Arab Emirates.

The intelligence report is one of a monthly series written by the Emirates Policy Centre, a think tank with close links to the Emirati government and security services.

Entitled “Monthly Report on Saudi Arabia, Issue 24, May 2019”, the report is of limited circulation and intended for the top Emirati leadership. It does not appear on the think tank’s website. A copy has been obtained by Middle East Eye.

It reveals that in Riyadh in May, orders were given to implement the strategic plan to confront the Turkish government.

The aim of the plan was to use

“all possible tools to pressure Erdogan’s government, weaken him, and keep him busy with domestic issues in the hope that he will be brought down by the opposition, or occupy him with confronting crisis after crisis, and push him to slip up and make mistakes which the media would surely pick up on”.

Middle East Eye contacted the Emirates Policy Centre for comment, with no reply by the time of publication.

Restricting influence

Riyadh’s aim is to restrict Erdogan and Turkey’s regional influence.

“The kingdom would start to target the Turkish economy and press towards the gradual termination of Saudi investment in Turkey, the gradual decrease of Saudi tourists visiting Turkey while creating alternative destinations for them, decreasing Saudi import of Turkish goods, and most importantly minimizing Turkish regional role in Islamic matters,” the report says.

According to the report, Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, took the decision to confront Turkey following the assassination of Khashoggi by a team of Saudi agents in their country’s Istanbul consulate.

The murder of the Saudi journalist, a Middle East Eye and Washington Post columnist, created international outrage, in large part due to Turkey’s insistence on Riyadh providing accountability and transparency over the affair.

“President Erdogan … went too far in his campaign smearing the kingdom, especially the person of the crown prince, using in the most reprehensible manner the case of Khashoggi,” the reports says.

In the document, the Emirates Policy Centre claims Turkey did not provide “specific and honest” information to assist the Saudi investigation into the killing, but instead leaked “disinformation” to the media “all aimed at distorting the image of the kingdom and attempting to destroy the reputation of the crown prince”.

Riyadh had concluded that Erdogan failed in his attempt to politicize and internationalize the case and now was the time to mount the fightback, the report says.

Both the CIA and leading members of the US Congress have accepted the Turkish intelligence assessment of Khashoggi’s murder.

The CIA also concluded that Mohammed bin Salman almost certainly signed off on the operation, an assessment based on its own intelligence as well.

“The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved,” said a US official familiar with the CIA’s conclusions, the Washington Post reported.

Since then, a report by United Nations human rights investigator Agnes Callamard detailed the difficulties the Turkish authorities had in investigating the murder and gaining access to the consulate building and the home of the consul-general.

Callamard concluded independently that the crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s murder.

The pressure begins

Last week came the first public sign of the campaign detailed in the Emirati document coming to life.

Saudi authorities blocked 80 Turkish trucks transporting textile products and chemicals from entering the kingdom through its Duba port.

Three hundred containers carrying fruit and vegetables from Turkey had also been held in Jeddah’s port, according to a Turkish official who spoke to MEE on condition of anonymity.

The number of Saudi tourists visiting Turkey decreased 15 percent [from 276,000 to 234,000] in the first six months of 2019, according to official data released by the Turkish tourism ministry.

Saudi Arabia has approximately $2bn worth of direct investment in Turkey, according to the Turkish foreign ministry data from 2018.

That year, Turkish exports to Saudi Arabia were valued at around $2.64bn, while imports from the kingdom stood at $2.32bn.

Behind the scenes, other signals have been sent to Ankara.

The Emirati report says “in a sign that the Saudi leadership has severed its relationship with … Erdogan and started treating him as an enemy”, King Salman approved “without hesitation” a recommendation from an advisory committee not to send an official invitation to attend a high-profile Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Mecca.

The Turkish president’s name was added to the list of those excluded from the summit, alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Eventually, King Salman decided to allow the Qatari emir to attend the event in Mecca, though Erdogan’s invitation was not forthcoming.

The Turkish government is aware of the Saudi crown prince’s attempts to sever relations and is trying to combat them through keeping direct communications with his father, King Salman.

A senior Turkish official, speaking anonymously, said the existence of a Saudi strategy to punish Turkey over its stance on the Khashoggi case wasn’t surprising.

“We are aware of what they are doing. It is almost public, to the extent that you could see their activities on Saudi-backed social media and Saudi state media,” the official told MEE, noting that they had openly called for a boycott.

“Tourist arrivals are decreasing, while we are having problems related to Turkish exports. We are closely following the situation.”

The Turkish official said, however, that Ankara does not believe that Saudi citizens are altering their stance on Turkey, despite the government in Riyadh’s efforts.

“Istanbul, for example, is still full of Saudi tourists. Saudi officials should check the BBC’s poll on Erdogan’s popularity in the Middle East. Then they will realize that they are failing,” the official said.

Erdogan phoned the king on Thursday, raising the problem of Turkish exports being held at Saudi ports.

Another Turkish official, also speaking anonymously, said Erdogan’s phone call with the Saudi king was cordial and focused on regional developments, such as Syria and the Palestine question.

The official, who was informed about the call, said the king was lucid and supportive of Turkish concerns with regard to Syria.

In the same call, Erdogan invited King Salman and his family, including the crown prince, to Turkey.

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