Monday, 28 September 2015

Focus on Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia displays beheaded Yemenis in public




Saudi Arabia on Tuesday beheaded five Yemenis and displayed their bodies in public for killing a national and forming a gang that committed robberies across several towns in the kingdom, the interior ministry said.

The five were executed in the southwestern town of Jizan, bringing the number of people executed in the kingdom this year to 46, according to an AFP tally.

A witness in Jizan told AFP that the five men were displayed in public near a university.

In a picture on Twitter, five men are seen hanging from a rope tied to their waists on a horizontal bar between two cranes.

The ministry said that Khaled, Adel and Qassem Saraa as well as Saif Ali al-Sahari and Khaled Showie al-Sahari had formed a gang which committed "several crimes in various regions in the kingdom and robbed stores."

The five had killed Ahmed Haroubi, a Saudi, by beating him up and strangling him, it said.

In March, a Saudi firing squad executed in public seven men convicted of armed robbery despite last-minute appeals by rights groups at the time that their lives be spared.

In 2012, the kingdom executed 76 people, according to an AFP tally based on official figures. The US-based Human Rights Watch put the number at 69.

In March of this year, seven men convicted of armed robbery were executed in Saudi Arabia despite last-minute appeals by rights groups that their lives be spared.

The condemned men were similarly convicted of "forming a gang that carried out several armed robberies and thefts with the help of other people," the ministry said in a statement published by the official SPA news agency.

Saudi's authorities have frequently been criticized by rights groups for the rate of executions and for perceived lack of fair trials of those condemned.

Reports by Amnesty International document a policy of forced confessions by Saudi authorities through the use of torture, intimidation and coercion.

Haraba, a form of Islamic punishment used against thieves and charlatans, involves crucifixion.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery, drug trafficking, sorcery and witchcraft are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia's strict version of sharia, or Islamic law.



U.S. State Department “Welcomes” News That Saudi Arabia Will Head U.N. Human Rights Panel

Glenn Greenwald


24 September, 2015


Last week’s announcement that Saudi Arabia — easily one of the world’smost brutally repressive regimes — was chosen to head a U.N. Human Rights Council panel provoked indignation around the world. That reaction was triggered for obvious reasons. Not only has Saudi Arabia executed more than 100 people already this year, mostly by beheading (a rate of 1 execution every two days), and not only is it serially flogging dissidents, but it is reaching new levels of tyrannical depravity as it is about to behead and then crucify the 21-year-old son of a prominent regime critic, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was convicted at the age of 17 of engaging in demonstrations against the government.

Most of the world may be horrified at the selection of Saudi Arabia to head a key U.N. human rights panel, but the U.S. State Department most certainly is not. Quite the contrary: its officials seem quite pleased about the news. At a State Department briefing yesterday afternoon, Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner was questioned by the invaluable Matt Lee of AP, and this is the exchange that resulted:
QUESTION: Change topic? Saudi Arabia.
MR. TONER: Saudi Arabia.
QUESTION: Yesterday, Saudi Arabia was named to head the Human Rights Council, and today I think they announced they are about to behead a 21-year-old Shia activist named Muhammed al-Nimr. Are you aware of that?
MR. TONER: I’m not aware of the trial that you — or the verdict — death sentence.
QUESTION: Well, apparently, he was arrested when was 17 years old and kept in juvenile detention, then moved on. And now, he’s been scheduled to be executed.
MR. TONER: Right. I mean, we’ve talked about our concerns about some of the capital punishment cases in Saudi Arabia in our Human Rights Report, but I don’t have any more to add to it.
QUESTION: So you —
QUESTION: Well, how about a reaction to them heading the council?
MR. TONER: Again, I don’t have any comment, don’t have any reaction to it. I mean, frankly, it’s — we would welcome it. We’re close allies. If we —
QUESTION: Do you think that they’re an appropriate choice given — I mean, how many pages is — does Saudi Arabia get in the Human Rights Report annually?
MR. TONER: I can’t give that off the top of my head, Matt.
QUESTION: I can’t either, but let’s just say that there’s a lot to write about Saudi Arabia and human rights in that report. I’m just wondering if you — that it’s appropriate for them to have a leadership position.
MR. TONER: We have a strong dialogue, obviously a partnership with Saudi Arabia that spans, obviously, many issues. We talk about human rights concerns with them. As to this leadership role, we hope that it’s an occasion for them to look at human rights around the world but also within their own borders.
QUESTION: But you said that you welcome them in this position. Is it based on [an] improved record? I mean, can you show or point to anything where there is a sort of stark improvement in their human rights record?
MR. TONER: I mean, we have an ongoing discussion with them about all these human rights issues, like we do with every country. We make our concerns clear when we do have concerns, but that dialogue continues. But I don’t have anything to point to in terms of progress.
QUESTION: Would you welcome as a — would you welcome a decision to commute the sentence of this young man?
MR. TONER: Again, I’m not aware of the case, so it’s hard for me to comment on it other than that we believe that any kind of verdict like that should come at the end of a legal process that is just and in accordance with international legal standards.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. TONER: Sure.

That’s about as clear as it gets. The U.S. government “welcomes” the appointment of Saudi Arabia to a leadership position on this Human Rights panel because it’s a “close ally.” As I documented two weeks ago courtesy of an equally candid admission from an anonymous “senior U.S. official”: “The U.S. loves human-rights-abusing regimes and always has, provided they ‘cooperate.’ … The only time the U.S. government pretends to care in the slightest about human rights abuses is when they’re carried out by ‘countries that don’t cooperate.'”

It’s difficult to know whether Mark Toner is lying when he claims ignorance about the case of al-Nimr, the regime critic about to be beheaded and crucified for dissident activism, which he engaged in as a teen. Indeed, it’s hard to know which would be worse: active lying or actual ignorance, given that much of the world has been talking about this case. The government of France formally requested that the Saudis rescind the death penalty. Is it really possible that the deputy spokesperson of the U.S. State Department is ignorant of this controversy? Either way, the reluctance of the U.S. government to utter a peep about the grotesque abuses of its “close ally” is in itself уgrotesque.

But it’s also profoundly revealing. The close U.S./Saudi alliance and the massive amount of weapons and intelligence lavished on the regime in Riyadh by the West is one of the great unmentionables in Western discourse. (The Guardian last week published an editorial oh-so-earnestly lamenting the war in Yemen being waged by what it called the “Saudi-led coalition,” yet never once mentioned the rather important fact that the Saudis are being armed in this heinous war by the U.S. and U.K.; it took a letter to the editor from an Oxfam official to tell The Guardian that the West is not being “complacent” about the war crimes being committed in Yemen, as The Guardian misleadingly claimed, but rather actively complicit.)

It’s not hard to understand why so many of the elite sectors of the West want everyone to avert their eyes from this deep and close relationship with the Saudis. It’s because that alliance single-handedly destroys almost every propagandistic narrative told to the Western public about that region.

As the always-expanding “War on Terror” enters its 14th year, the ostensible target — radical, violent versions of Islam — is fueled far more by the U.S.’s closest allies than any of the countries the U.S. has been fighting under the “War on Terror” banner. Beyond that, the alliance proves the complete absurdity of believing that the U.S. and U.K.’s foreign policies, let alone their various wars, have anything to do with protecting human rights or subverting tyranny and fanaticism. And it renders a complete laughingstock any attempts to depict the U.S. government as some sort of crusader for freedom and democracy or whatever other pretty goals are regularly attributed to it by its helpful press.



The evil empire of Saudi Arabia is the West’s real enemy
Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain: planners to financiers, cadres to foot soldiers, ideologists to cheerleaders


27 September, 2015


Iran is seriously mistrusted by Israel and America. North Korea protects its nuclear secrets and is ruled by an erratic, vicious man. Vladimir Putin’s territorial ambitions alarm democratic nations. The newest peril, Isis, the wild child of Islamists, has shocked the whole world. But top of this list should be Saudi Arabia – degenerate, malignant, pitiless, powerful and as dangerous as any of those listed above.

The state systematically transmits its sick form of Islam across the globe, instigates and funds hatreds, while crushing human freedoms and aspiration. But the West genuflects to its rulers. Last week Saudi Arabia was appointed chair of the UN Human Rights Council, a choice welcomed by Washington. Mark Toner, a spokesperson for the State Department, said: “We talk about human rights concerns with them. As to this leadership role, we hope that it is an occasion for them to look into human rights around the world and also within their own borders.”

The jaw simply drops. Saudi Arabia executes one person every two days. Ali Mohammed al-Nimr is soon to be beheaded then crucified for taking part in pro-democracy protests during the Arab Spring. He was a teenager then. Raif Badawi, a blogger who dared to call for democracy, was sentenced to 10 years and 1,000 lashes. Last week, 769 faithful Muslim believers were killed in Mecca where they had gone on the Hajj. Initially, the rulers said it was “God’s will” and then they blamed the dead. Mecca was once a place of simplicity and spirituality. Today the avaricious Saudis have bulldozed historical sites and turned it into the Las Vegas of Islam – with hotels, skyscrapers and malls to spend, spend, spend. The poor can no longer afford to go there. Numbers should be controlled to ensure safety – but that would be ruinous for profits. Ziauddin Sardar’s poignant book Mecca: The Sacred City, describes the desecration of Islam’s holiest site.

Even more seriously, the pernicious Saudi influence is spreading fast and freely. King Salman has offered to build 200 mosques in Germany for recently arrived refugees, many of whom are Muslims. He offered no money for resettlement or basic needs, but Wahhabi mosques, the Trojan horses of the secret Saudi crusade. Several Islamic schools are also sites of Wahhabism, now a global brand. It makes hearts and minds small and suspicious, turns Muslim against Muslim, and undermines modernists.

The late Laurent Murawiec, a French neocon, wrote this in 2002: “The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadres to foot soldiers, from ideologists to cheerleaders.” Murawiec’s politics were odious, but his observations were spot on. Remember that most of the 9/11 killers were Saudi; so was the al-Qaeda hierarchy.

In the 14 years that have followed 9/11, the Saudis have become more aggressive, more determined to win the culture wars. They pour money into Islamist organisations and operations, promote punishing doctrines that subjugate women and children, and damn liberal values and democracy. They are pursuing a cruel bombing campaign in Yemen that has left thousands of civilians dead and many more in dire straits.

So, what does our ruling establishment do to stop the invisible hand of this Satan? Zilch. The Royal Family, successive governments, parliamentarians, a good number of institutions and people with clout collectively suck up to the Saudi ruling clan. I have not seen any incisive TV investigation of this regime. We know it is up to no good, but evidence is suppressed. Some writers have tried to break this conspiracy of obsequiousness. Craig Unger’s book, House of Bush, House of Saud was published in 2004. It established beyond reasonable doubt that Saudi Arabia was the nerve-centre of international terrorism. And that the Bush family was unduly close to the regime. Many of us believed the revelations were even more explosive than those by the journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, who exposed the lies told by Richard Nixon.

This deadly enemy will not be cowed or stopped by Trident. Our leaders know what is going on. So what do they do? They pick on the small people. The Government’s Prevent programme now imposes a duty on educators to watch out for young “radicals” and nip them in the bud. Older dissenters, too. To date, 4,000 young Muslims have been referred for reprogramming. One was three years old. In May, a young Muslim schoolboy talked about “eco-terrorists” and was taken away to be interrogated about whether he supported Isis. Academics, lawyers, doctors and nurses are also expected to become the nation’s spies. Mohammed Umar Farooq, a student at Staffordshire University, was accused last week of being a terrorist because he was reading a book entitled Terrorism Studies in the library.

In the US, 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed was arrested because he took a home-made clock to school. (Richard Dawkins, these days a manic tweet preacher, questioned whether the clock was part of a “hoax” designed to get Mohamed arrested, before backtracking.) The West, it seems, is free only for some. And to be a Muslim is a crime.

Extremism is a serious problem. Westernised, liberal Muslims do try to influence feverish, hostile young Muslim minds, but we are largely powerless. Our leaders will not confront Saudi Arabia, the source of Islamist brainwashing and infection. 

They won’t because of oil and the profits made by arms sales. Political cowards and immoral profiteers are the traitors, the real threat to national security, patriotism and cohesion. How do they answer the charge?


New Zealand not only does not condemn human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia but buys sheep farms in the Saudi desert as a bribe to facilitate free-trade deals.

Meanwhile Saudi Arabia (while supporting ISIS) is America’s leading ally to “restore democracy” to Syria

Execution in Saudi Arabia
Martyn Bradbury

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24 September, 2015

Many of you will have seen the horrible news that Saudi Arabia is intending to go ahead with the planned crucifixion and execution of Ali Mohamed al-Nimr who was arrested when he was a child.
Taken from the UN News site, and from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“…Mr. al-Nimr, then a high school student, was arrested in 2012 when he was 17 by the Saudi authorities for his reported participation in ‘Arab Spring’ protests in Qatif, Eastern Province. The Specialized Criminal Court in May 2015 sentenced him to death for joining a criminal group and attacking police officers. He was reportedly subjected to torture and ill treatment by the General Investigation Directorate which forced him to confess the charges against him.
[…] Mr. al-Nimr’s appeal made by his lawyer was heard without prior notification and the proceedings fell short of international standards.
Mr. al-Nimr did not receive a fair trial and his lawyer was not allowed to properly assist him and was prevented from accessing the case file. International law, accepted as binding by Saudi Arabia, provides that capital punishment may only be imposed following trials that comply with the most stringent requirements of fair trial and due process, or could otherwise be considered an arbitrary execution,” said the [Special Rapporteur] experts.
[…]
Two other individuals are at risk of an imminent execution after being arrested for their participation in Qatif when they were children. “
This is abhorrent.  I call on the New Zealand Government to formally protest.  We should call in the Saudi Consular General and demand that this young man’s life be spared.  He should be allowed access to a free and impartial hearing.
There are moments when it is worth saying something.  This is a moment, Minister McCully.

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