Yellow Vests reach 1 year: The redemption of France’s revolutionary spirit

 

Yellow Vests reach 1 year: The redemption of France’s revolutionary spirit

November 20, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog (cross-posted with PressTV)

(Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.)

For many years to come France will be divided into two periods – before the Yellow Vests, and after the Yellow Vests. It’s widely believed in France that things can never go back to the way they were.

I’m not sure there can be a better yardstick of domestic success – a better gauge of sociocultural impact – than that?

Outside of France the Yellow Vests have given the world a precious gift, and at a huge sacrifice: nobody will ever view “French-style democracy” with the respect their government arrogantly demands as the alleged “birthplace of human rights”. For a generation or longer, “What about the Yellow Vests?”, will be a conversation-ending question to anyone who claims the moral superiority of the “Western-style” political system.

Systematic repression of the poorest classes are indeed “universal values”, but only within neoliberal and neo-imperial systems. Make no mistake: It has been one year of open Yellow Vest revolt against the economic dictates of that “neoliberal empire”, the European Union, and it’s neo-colonial puppet temporarily occupying Élysée Palace in Paris.

What the last year has testified to is the redemption of France’s revolutionary spirit. Not every country has that, after all.

England, for example, will foolishly “keep calm and carry on” – a perfect summation of change-hating conservatism – until the bitter end, always. This is why reading English-language media coverage of the Yellow Vests was so very similar – “English conservative opposes egalitarian movement in France”. They have been running the same story for 200+ years, going back to Edmund Burke, who founded modern Western conservatism with his (reactionary) Reflections on the Revolution in France in 1790.

France is not England, but 53 weeks ago I don’t think anyone imagined that the French could possibly muster the stamina, dedication and self-sacrifice to protest amid massive state-sponsored repression every weekend for one year.

It’s an amazing achievement, and only those full of spite and hate could deny them a modest present of honest recognition on their birthday.

But Western mainstream media coverage in English and French was just that – they claimed the Yellow Vests achieved nothing.

One thing the French don’t like to be reminded of is: the French Revolution failed, and quickly. It’s as if they forget Emperor Napoleon?

The French Revolution is not like the Iranian, Chinese or Cuban Revolutions, all of which have endured. The American Revolution has also endured – too bad that it was even more aristocratic (bourgeois) and sectarian than the French Revolution.

But the French Revolution occurred in an era of constant regional imperialism, war, slavery, repression of women, religious and ethnic sectarianism, etc. – we would be wrong to say it did not still have positive worldwide ramifications in the most important realms of politics, economics, culture, etc. The USSR – the only empire based on affirmative action – also failed, but we would be wrong to say it didn’t also produce positive changes for their people and also worldwide.

Quickly, here are a few tangible victories of the Yellow Vests: they prevented Emmanuel Macron from presenting a 10th consecutive annual austerity budget, they prevented Macron from de-nationalising the three airports of Paris, and the 10 billion euros in so-called “concessions” was credited with keeping French economic growth in the positive in the last quarter.

However, even if the Yellow Vests have obviously not yet toppled the 5th Republic and set up a new order, their cultural is inestimable. Just as the Occupy Movement of the US in 2011 gave us the slogan and mentality of “We are the 99%”, so will the Yellow Vests stand for something equally conscience-raising.

The Yellow Vests want a French Cultural Revolution, and should lead it

However, a big difference between the two movements is that Occupy was led by many college-educated “do-gooders” – and God bless them – whereas the Yellow Vests are undoubtedly a movement of the most marginalised classes.

Seemingly the most comprehensive survey thus far showed that few Vesters are unemployed, two-thirds of Vesters make less than the average national wage, and an even greater percentage regret a lack of cultural resources and social links. In other words: hard-working, (yet still) poor, isolated citizens who yearn for more cultural enrichment.

This is why I have repeatedly drawn a different parallel: the Yellow Vests are essentially demanding a Cultural Revolution. Only China and Iran have ever had one, and both were state-sponsored.

Cultural Revolutions put the values of the formerly-oppressed classes into power – everything is brought to a halt for perhaps years in order to engage in mass discussions, with the aim of drastically updating a nation’s democratic institutions and general culture in order to accord with modern political ideals. This is precisely what the Yellow Vests want: a long, comprehensive, democratic rethink and public debate over France’s inclusion in the European Union, the eurozone, NATO, and the Americanisation/neoliberalisation of their domestic policies.

Chinese peasants, Iran’s “revolution of the barefooted” and the rural-based Yellow Vests – it’s impossible not to admit the parallels. The West, of course, only insists that both Cultural Revolutions were huge mistakes.

Not true: China’s Cultural Revolution created the rural economic and human capital which laid the groundwork for their 1980s-onwards boom, although the West would have you believe its rebirth sprung only from Deng’s reforms; Iran’s Cultural Revolution swept away the elite’s oppressive aping of the West and created the first modern Muslim democracy.

The Yellow Vests insist that they are the “real” France, and after a year of talking with them I agree – they know as much or more about politics than I do. Politics is not rocket science, after all, but mainly applying common morality to public policy and daily events.

Iran and China already had a government inspired by socialist democracy (and not by aristocratic liberal democracy) when they embarked on their Cultural Revolutions, whereas France does not – thus the repression.

What did the Occupy Movement “achieve”, after all? They prevented no bailouts, they folded after infinitely less state repression and there is no direct movement linked with them today. However, only a Burkean conservative would insist that the Occupy Movement didn’t wake many people up to the struggles of class warfare, and of egalitarian right and greedy wrong. It’s never mentioned in the Western media – which only adores far-right, nativist, anti-socialist movements like in Hong Kong – but Algerians have protested for 39 consecutive weekends as well.

The Yellow Vests have not failed – they have much to celebrate on their birthday, and this article serves as a rare reminder of that reality.

Iranian and Russian media – doing France’s job for them

What’s important to note is that since late June – when France started going on summer vacation – Russian and Iranian media in Paris (including my Farsi- and Spanish-language colleagues) have been the only television journalists openly covering the Yellow Vest demonstrations.

My French colleagues have done the most cowardly thing possible – they quit the field. For many months people in Paris couldn’t believe I had to work covering the Yellow Vests on Saturday: I repeatedly heard, “I thought they were finished?”

With exceptions I can count on one hand, for many months French media has been either totally absent or hidden. There are certainly no reporters doing live interviews (even without a logo displaying whom they work for), even though the presence of live reporters inherently reduces the willingness of police to be violent. Considering the toll of violence – 11,000 arrested, 2,000 convicted, 1,000 imprisoned, 5,000 hurt,1,000 critically injured and the innumerable tear-gassings – it’s no wonder French people hate the media.

In France the vast majority of media are private, with editorial lines decided by a handful of billionaires – that’s just how Western journalism works, sadly. “Free speech”, they call it. However, where are the public media – they are paid by taxpayer dollars to objectively cover their own nation?! Quite pathetic….

This is probably why the Macron administration openly disparages Russia’s RT and Sputnik (we won’t get into their problems with PressTV here): we have spent the past year properly doing our jobs, unlike France’s media.

That’s too bad for France, but the unexpected and undeniable accomplishments of the Yellow Vests speak for themselves. Who knows what they might achieve in year 2?

The Bahrain Gov’t Is Attacking Female Activists – And Trump’s Policies are Emboldening Them

The Bahrain Gov’t Is Attacking Female Activists – And Trump’s Policies are Emboldening Them

By Lucilla Berwick and Bridget Quitter, Ms. Magazine 

In 2017, Bahraini human rights defender Ebtisam al-Saegh found herself sitting in a dark room before a pair of chain smoking officers from Bahrain’s National Security Agency. “No one is going to hear you in this place,” sneered one of the men, who introduced himself as ‘the torturer.’ “No one can protect you here, not the Human Rights Council or any other organization. You know we have a green light from Trump, right?”

It had been a brutal year in the tiny island of Bahrain, the home of the US Navy Fifth Fleet and a key American ally in the Arab Gulf. The government, led by the AlKhalifa monarchy, had begun a severe and ongoing crackdown, which saw all political opposition groups and independent media forcibly dissolved and thousands incarcerated on political charges, amid accusations of rampant torture and due process violations. Ebtisam had recently returned from the UN in Geneva, where she spoke out about Bahrain’s repression.

With her arrest and torture, the government was sending a message: this would not be tolerated.

Women like Ebtisam have long played a central, albeit overlooked, role in Bahrain’s opposition movement. As the government increasingly targeted women for their opinions or those of their relatives, many began to come forward. Our organizations, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy and Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, have worked with nine women to share their stories. The resulting report, Breaking the Silence, traces the path of these women – from their arrests, through their interrogations and trials, to their detention at Isa Town Detention Centre, Bahrain’s only women’s prison. We uncovered horrific patterns of abuse, from sham trials to torture and sexual violence.

We encountered considerable obstacles to our work from the outset. The Bahraini state is highly resistant to scrutiny, making it virtually impossible to visit the country for research. UN Special Rapporteurs have not been permitted entry since 2006, while human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have been denied access since 2015. However, through regular phone calls with the imprisoned women and their families, as well as analysis of court rulings and medical reports and comments from psychologists and legal experts, we pieced together a coherent picture of their experiences.

As we assembled their stories, the systematic nature of government abuses became clear. During brutal interrogations, the women experienced extreme violence, ranging from threats of rape or death to beatings, sexual assault and witnessing the torture of relatives. To end these abuses, many agreed to sign pre-written confessions, later used by Bahrain’s widely condemned judiciary to convict them. When they attempted to raise their ill-treatment in court, they were dismissed by judges.

Once sentenced, the women were singled out for mistreatment at Isa Town prison due to their political status, as is common across the Bahraini prison system. They reported punitive measures, including restrictions on family visits, religious discrimination, physical assault and medical negligence. Two of the women who remain in prison today, Medina Ali and Hajer Mansoor, have only seen their children once over the past year – a visit that was granted only after significant international pressure.

The legacies of the women’s abuse affect them to this day. Ebtisam reported she can no longer sleep in the dark or tolerate the smell of cigarettes, both of which immediately transport her back to the smoky room where she was tortured. Others reported psychological trauma in their young children related to their prolonged separation. The stigma attached to incarceration also makes returning to society difficult: After being released following an international campaign against her unlawful conviction, Najah Yusuf was fired by her employer who questioned her integrity due to her criminal record.

“Sometimes I speak normally about my ordeal,” Yusuf told us, “but the truth is that I am bleeding from within. It’s painful, and I have no idea when all of this is going to end.”

While abuses in Bahrain may seem distant, the US exerts a huge influence on the country, and American policy has actively contributed to the crackdown. Since Trump’s election, Obama-era human rights conditions on arms sales have been removed and the State Department has approved an unprecedented $8.5 billion worth of arms sales, upgrades, services and training to the country. Despite evidence that some of this funding has gone directly to bodies implicated in the abuse of the women we interviewed, the US places no human rights conditions on its substantial investment in Bahrain.

Trump seemingly gave the “green light” to Bahrain’s crackdown during a state visit in May 2017, where he promised an end to the “strain” his predecessor had placed on US-Bahrain relations. Two days later, Bahraini police opened fire on peaceful protests in the village of Diraz, in what the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights described as among the “deadliest” operations since Bahrain’s pro-democracy uprising was crushed in 2011. The conservative shift in American domestic policy has also encouraged Bahrain’s rights abuses: days after the White House announced the resumption of federal executions in July 2019, Bahrain executed two torture victims amid international outcry; when asked for comment ahead of the executions, the Bahraini Embassy in Washington, DC explicitly referenced the US decision.

Trump’s barely-concealed enthusiasm for authoritarianism is bolstering a climate of impunity in the region. In Bahrain, this means abusers are free to operate without fear of consequences. When Trump received Bahrain’s Crown Prince to discuss arms deals last month, he made the message very clear: keep buying arms, and we will stay silent on rights abuses.

For the women we worked with, the knowledge that they could be seized again at any point is among the most terrifying aspects of their entire experience. It is time for Congress to make clear that these violations cannot be tolerated.

These nine women have broken the silence. Now it is up to us to raise our voices and make sure that their efforts are not in vain.

Bahrain Crackdown: Health of Hunger-striking Detainee Deteriorating

Bahrain Crackdown: Health of Hunger-striking Detainee Deteriorating

By Staff

Bahraini human rights activist Ebtisam al-Saegh reported that the health condition of detainee Osama al-Saghir has been deteriorating as he fainted in the washroom after spending 15 days of an ongoing hunger strike.

Al-Saghir, sentenced to 60 years in prison for political charges, started bleeding after the incident, al-Saegh said, adding that “although the bleeding stopped, he has been injured and in pain, and is still deprived from making phone calls and going out to the courtyard.”

For his part, Osama’s father said that all what his son demands is a private visit, a jacket and a blanket to feel warm.

Not to mention, it has been 9 months since Osama al-Saghir stopped receiving visitors due to the inspection and humiliation of his mother as she comes to visit him. Osama’s mother suffers from a heart disease, and her son demands granting her a private visit inside the prison while respecting her health situation.

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الاستعمار العسكري المباشر هل يعود إلى المشرق…؟

سبتمبر 19, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saudi Arabia’s Sudden Interest in Sudan Is Not about Friendship. It Is About Fear

By Nesrine Malik – The Guardian

In the days following the ‘Yom Kippur’ war, after the Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, agreed to a ceasefire and subsequent peace treaty with ‘Israel,’ he faced questions at home about his climb-down. When confronted on his capitulation, he is reported to have said that he was prepared for battle with ‘Israel’ but not with America. On the third day of the war, President Nixon had authorized Operation Nickel Grass, an airlift from the United States with the purpose of replenishing ‘Israel’s’ military losses up to that point. In November of 1973, the New York Times reported that “Western ambassadors in Cairo confirm Egyptian accusations that American Galaxies were landing war equipment in the Sinai.”

There was something of Sadat’s realpolitik in the realization over the past few weeks that Saudi Arabia has no intention of letting Sudan’s revolution achieve its objective of removing the military once and for all and installing a civilian government. In the period preceding the revolution, Saudi Arabia had grown relatively lethargic and jaded about Sudan, a country it saw as good only for providing bodies as battle fodder for its war in Yemen. When Sudan’s then president, Omar al-Bashir, fearful of his demise, took his begging bowl to his allies in the region, Saudi Arabia demurred. But this lack of interest evaporated the moment it became clear that there was real power in Sudan’s streets, and Bashir was deposed.

Long gone are the days when the US was the chief meddler in the region. Saudi Arabia has taken its place as a powerful force for the status quo. Gone also are the days when Saudi Arabia’s idea of extending its sphere of influence was to sloppily funnel funds to religious schools and groups across the Arab world and south Asia. The country has now taken on a more deliberate role: to stymie political change wherever possible.

Within days of the removal of Bashir, Saudi’s purse strings loosened. Along with the UAE, it pledged a $3bn aid package to prop up Sudan’s economy and thus the transitional military government. This shot in the arm has been accompanied by an alarming and unprecedented phenomenon, a propaganda campaign launched in Saudi-owned or Saudi-sympathetic media.

Gulf News ran a profile of the current head of the transitional military council saying that “during the war in southern Sudan and the Darfur region, he served on [sic] important positions, largely due to his civic manners and professional demeanor”. “Civic” and “professionally run” are not words many would use to describe the wars in Darfur and the south of the country.

The editorial started with a panicked homage to Sudan as “one of Africa’s and the Arab world’s most strategic countries”, as if the Saudis had just caught on to the fact that Sudan was not the sleepy, pliant, begging backwater they hoped it was. A senior United Arab Emirates minister last week tried to frame the sudden interest and largesse towards Sudan as a wise precaution after the tumult of the Arab spring. “We have experienced all-out chaos in the region and, sensibly, don’t need more of it,” he lectured. But this newfound affection for oh so strategic Sudan and its civic-mannered military leaders has more to do with the Saudi royal family’s heightened insecurity about its own fate than it does with maintaining stability. The danger of a Sudanese revolution is in its optics, in the sense of possibility that it suggests. If Saudi used to care about extending its soft power across the world in order to call on alliances against regional enemies such as Iran or Qatar, today’s aggressive Saudi foreign policy adventurism can be seen in the light of its one overarching fear: regime change.

Despite its economic troubles at home, the Saudi government still sees its sovereign wealth as a massive war chest to be leveraged to the end of its own survival. Even though the Saudi royal family seems to have a total monopoly on power, executing dissenters on a whim on national or foreign soil, Sudan has demonstrated that regime change is rarely about the technicalities. It is never about the firepower that an opposition can wield against an incumbent: it is about popular will. You can’t execute everyone.

The many failures of the Arab spring have been a boon for establishment regimes across the Middle East. No good will come of change, was the conventional regional wisdom for too long. Sudan is messing with that narrative. The army and the royal family are the only two institutions that can be allowed to rule, the logic goes: when civilians enter the fray they bring with them security lapses, terrorism and incompetence. But civilian governments also threaten other nuisances: real democracy, accountability and free expression. Saudi Arabia must prevent this, under the pretense of seeking stability, with the US absent but tacitly endorsing.

And so the Sudanese protesters, still firm in their standoff with the transitional government as they demand civilian rule, can wage war against Bashir and the remnants of his regime that are still in power. But how can they take on Saudi Arabia and its powerful allies in the region, who airlift support to the government? The burden on the Sudanese revolution is now even heavier – but the reward, if it succeeds, is to shake the thrones of all despots across the Middle East.

Bahrain Crackdown: Afghan Judge Revokes 183 Citizenships of Bahraini Nationals!

By Staff

As part of the continued crackdown against own nationals, the Bahraini regime decided to revoke 183 citizenships of native Bahrainis under the alleged pretext of a ‘Bahraini Hezbollah’ case.

Ironically, the judge who issued the verdict that bans original landowners from their homeland, identified as Badr Abdul Latif Al Abdallah is of Afghan origins. Additionally, he belongs to the third generation of a family that was granted a Bahraini citizenship before it added the name “Al” to its title, a habit that is usually taken by families of non-Arab origins in Bahrain.

Following the unfair sentences issued on Tuesday to revoke the citizenship of 138 individuals, the number of similar cases in the tiny kingdom has now reached 985.

Relatively, yearly figures are classified as the following:

2019: 181

2018: 298

2017: 156

2016: 90

2015: 208

2014: 21

2012: 31

Earlier to the sentence, a report published by the Bahrain Mirror stated:

The revocation of citizenship in Bahrain after 2018 has become no more than a symbolic punitive measure- a pattern and part of a clear plan to purge the country of the opposition at any price, or perhaps a plan to change the country’s demographic makeup the quickest way possible, even by the most brutal means.

Following the total elimination of opposition groups and civil society, the arrests of the most prominent political and human rights figures, the complete suppression of remaining voices, and the ongoing imprisonment of thousands every year, without any deterrent, the revocation of nationalities seemed to be the final touch in cleansing process.

The number of citizens who have been stripped of their Bahraini nationality since 2011 amount to about 800, in a country with an indigenous population of 650,000, which is the biggest evidence of this practice.

“To put that figure into context, were the same policy applied to the UK, one million Britons would be made stateless,” says author and political analyst Bill Law.

The authorities have not only withdrawn the citizenships of political defendants in trials, but have also deprived all children whose fathers were imprisoned from having birth certificates and passports issued, as noted by the US State Department said in its annual 2017 report on human rights in countries around the world.

The numbers alarmingly increased during 2018, which recorded the highest number of citizenship revocation affecting 298 citizens, with the total number of citizens stripped of their nationality in Bahrain since 2011 amounting to about 804, according to the statistics of organizations and news reports.

In 2018, a court of cassation issued a final verdict, revoking the citizenship of Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of the country’s Shia citizens, who was under house arrest before leaving for London to receive emergency treatment.

2018 also witnessed a rare incident in the history of the country’s judiciary, and perhaps in history of all countries of the world, as 115 people were stripped of their citizenship in a single trial, in what was known as the Zulfiqar Brigades case.

News agencies reported on this verdict in surprise, while Amnesty International described the trial as “ridiculous” and “one of the most severe rulings yet, and is further proof that the Bahrain authorities have no regard whatsoever for international fair trial standards.”

The Bahraini Revolution in the Words of its Elite

By Zeinab Daher

With every anniversary of an uprising against oppression, a person recalls a glimpse of hope that the winds of change are blowing again.

Bahrain, the country of Shia-majority ruled by Sunni-minority, was a platform for peaceful popular demands back on February 14 of 2011. Today, there is nothing more honest than the words of those who lived the revolution, its early days, and the impressions they made as such time has passed over the first day since its birth.

In an exclusive interview with al-Ahed News, Sheikh Abo Yasser Abdullah al-Saleh, Deputy Chief of Bahrain’s Islamic Work Association (Amal), listed the many achievements of the revolution atop of which is the clear popular alignment against the oppressive and dictatorial authorities that is a major achievement in Bahrain.

 

“The opposition in Bahrain is deep-rooted, it is nothing new, but the current impression is that the opposition is something new.”

In the 1980s, before and after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, demanding to topple the Al Khalifah regime was a fantasy. Now, however, there is a sort of popular agreement that this family should be changed because it doesn’t deserve to rule the Bahraini people, and that the Bahraini people deserve more just government, that is finer, more aware of the demands of peoples and more independent, afar from any foreign and western alliances.

Additionally, in Bahrain, there became a clear orientation and understanding by all parties that it is necessary to establish a just democracy through inclusive elections that get rid of all kinds of tyranny and appropriation as well as ties to the foreign colonialism practiced by Al Khalifah.

The revolution was able over 8 years to draw attention that there is a major determination by the Bahraini people to reach their rightful and legitimate demands and that it is never possible to play the minds of people and deceive them just like what happened during the 1990s uprising.

“There is total agreement that this authority in untrustworthy and can’t be dealt with by any means, even if it still controls the country.”

Another achievement is uniting the local lines and tending to a true change which wasn’t clear in the past era. This revolution has serious tendency to change the country’s status and make a true shift that suits the Bahraini people.

The Al Khalifah authority treat the opposition as if it is a zero. It is oppressive and try to kill any activism before it is born.

“The glow of revolution didn’t change.”

It is true that the protests in which the majority of people used to participate are not happening now. The figures and major symbols who used to participate in the protests are not there, but the movement itself didn’t stop, even if the momentum has decreased. There are still protests and demands in some places. There are also detentions, since the beginning of the revolutions, detentions didn’t stop. If the authority claims that it has got rid of the revolution, then why it is still carrying out the non-stopping arbitrary detention campaigns.

There are some 930 people, including clerics, symbols, academics, youth and citizens, whose citizenships have been revoked. More than 7824 people are detained by the authority, and the number is still climbing. We sacrificed more than 200 martyrs, scores of victims and thousands of displaced people. But the Al Khalifah authority couldn’t, through all this, to prove that it has got rid of the February 14 revolution. The revolution is being renewed in different ways and remains with the same slogans and demands.

The most important among all is that the Bahraini people didn’t retreat any of its legitimate demands. And the latest statement made by His Eminence Sheikh Isa Qassim was a clear evidence that this people didn’t and will not compromise.

Why remaining peaceful?

The Bahraini people is not a violent one. The people of Bahrain are known for love, peace, mercy, generosity, containing others and coexisting with them.

The rightful demands the Bahraini people are asking for are not new for any people, they are rather part of their basic due rights whether by understanding or another mean. When the Al Khalifah denies the people their rights, it must expect that the people won’t remain silent. And now, they insist to fulfill their demands.

For our people, we would like to stress that the international situation in this particular anniversary is on our side and it is not on Al Khalifah’s and Al Saud’s. They were previously more arrogant and stronger, but the situation in the entire region now carries the promises of a near victory, by God’s willing. It carries the promises of a change in the regional map. The Bahraini people tolerated over many years, but the less has remained. The Al Khalifah authorities are in a bad situation while the morale, practices and rights of our people are way stronger than ever before. The legendary endurance presented by the Bahraini people over the past years is able to drive them towards fulfilling their demands. It is matter of a little patience and we will reach our goals.

We are demanding democracy and inclusive elections in which the source of authority and sovereignty should be the Bahraini people. We only need to be a free people in an independent state.

Normalization

Normalization is nothing new. It has existed since before, at least all Gulf states, most Arab and Muslim countries related to the west, whether the US or the UK, have sorts of ties with the “Israeli” entity. However, ties today became public. What has been under cover, became today public.

Exchanged visits weren’t born recently, they are since the 1950s but they were low. The King Saud’s condition for the UK was that ties with the Zionists should be secret. Today, however, the Zionists set their condition that any price should be paid in exchange of public relations. This is the reason why we notice today public relations whether with the Al Saud or the Al Khalifah governments or others. Zionists now insist on publicized ties, this is why we are witnessing them on the surface.

In the past, the colonial scheme tried to indirectly run its issues in the region. But now, it is being faced by the peoples of the region, which are looking for their interests and trying to build their future the way they want. This is why the government now cannot fulfill the task and this explains with the Americans and the British are coming to the region repeatedly, weighing more and intervening much than before in the country’s internal affairs which is exposing those governments’ betrayal.

To Al Khalifah, the Bahraini people would never accept dealing with Zionists and would never be part of any alliance against its Arab and Muslim state. You can do whatever you want because the decision is in your hands, but the Bahraini people will breach any agreement that would be made with the Zionist entity.

For his part, Bahraini Journalist Hussein Youssef recalled some painful and emotional spots from the time of the revolution’s first days:

Among the most significant of the scenes of the February 14 revolution I recall is the youths’ advance as they were topless against the Bahraini army’s tanks that were supposed to protect the protesters and civilians, however, they were directed towards them and killed martyr Abdul Rida Bou Hmayyed. This scene would never be erased from the Bahrainis’ memory.

Another scene that I could never forget over seven years of the revolution is that of revoking the citizenship of Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Ahmad Qassim and the Imam Hussein-inspired speech delivered by Sayyed Maji al-Mashaal.

In between the two scenes, there is the very important event when Sheikh Ali Salman addressed the Bahraini people as the ‘Peninsula Shield forces’ entered the country. He referred to their behavior as defeatist and called the Bahraini people for sticking to peaceful activism until achieving its fair demands.

“Regarding the presence of the Bahraini issue in media, the activism is actually peaceful, political and rightful. There is no direct presence on which media can feed as it wants.”

However, there are other media outlets that are trying to turn a blind eye to the reality of the Bahraini people for certain political goals and reasons. They want to blind what is happening in Bahrain, and most of them are pushed by Saudi and American motives. This is something constant for us. An evidence is that many political and rights events, major protests, political speeches and stances issued by the Bahraini opposition are blinded by such paid outlets.

I don’t believe the regime has succeeded in silencing the opposition. Now, everybody confesses that there is a political crisis in Bahrain. The important evidence on this is that the leader of the opposition His Eminence Sheikh Ali Salman is in prison and sentenced to life. This firstly means that the political crisis in Bahrain will remain as long as such symbols and figures, atop of them is Sheikh Ali Salman, stay in jail. Hence, the opposition movement is non-stopping in different forms and during different circumstances. It is sometimes in Australia, another time in Bahrain… the movement is represented by the rights and political conferences held by the opposition at home and abroad. In conclusion, even if the regime had security-wise tightened the grip on the opposition movement, this doesn’t mean that it will be able to cancel the presence of the opposition and the popular demands.

There are huge numbers over the 8 years of revolution. There has been more than 40.000 protests, in addition to more than 5000 prisoners in Bahraini jails. This number makes Bahrain the most crowded country with political prisoners in the Arab world as per comparison to its population. There are also violations against journalists. Over 8 years of revolution, there is more than 25 years of imprisonment sentences against activists and journalists and even politicians who expressed their opinions. The law is very ‘flexible’ since whoever express their opinion via Twitter are subject to ‘anti-terror’ crimes for opposing the authority.

The international community raises the slogans of human rights in the area of political abuse and not in the place where people do believe in it… the international community is disabled in front of the Saudi-American decision; hence, the political cover baking the Bahraini regime is due to weighing political interests and Gulf oil heavier than human rights and the people’s rights to self-determination.

“All what happened over the previous period (8 years) is a motive for Bahrain to continue.”

The words of Sheikh Ali Salman and Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Ahmad Qassem say there is no way for retreat, and it is necessary to continue with strength and determination to fulfill this people’s demand for reform.

“I do believe that what is waiting the Bahraini people is way better than what the authorities are practicing.”

There is no room for political settlement and fulfilling the national demands without democracy and respecting citizenship in Bahrain, he concluded.

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