country:bahrain

  • Du mou dans le blocus du Qatar,…

    UAE eases Qatar shipping ban amid continuing dispute | Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-gulf-qatar-emirates-idUSKCN1Q91T7


    A ship decks at Hamad port in Doha, Qatar, June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon/File Photo

    DUBAI/DOHA (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates has eased a ban on the shipping of goods between it and Qatar enforced under a political and economic boycott of Doha, according to port circulars and an industry source.

    The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain severed diplomatic, trade and transport ties with Qatar in June 2017 over allegations it supports terrorism, a charge Doha denies.

    An Abu Dhabi Ports circular dated Feb. 12 canceled previous directives that banned cargoes of Qatar origin from UAE waters and ports and those of UAE origin from Qatar.

    It maintained a ban on vessels flying the Qatar flag, owned by Qatari shipping firms or nationals. UAE-flagged vessels still cannot call at Qatar ports.

    An industry source told Reuters the circular applied to all UAE ports. Government authorities in both Gulf Arab states did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.


  • Opinion | My Father Faces the Death Penalty. This Is Justice in Saudi Arabia. - The New York Times

    The kingdom’s judiciary is being pushed far from any semblance of the rule of law and due process.

    By Abdullah Alaoudh

    Mr. Alaoudh is a legal scholar at Georgetown University.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/13/opinion/saudi-arabia-judiciary.html

    Despite the claims of Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his enablers, Saudi Arabia is not rolling back the hard-line religious establishment. Instead, the kingdom is curtailing the voices of moderation that have historically combated extremism. Numerous Saudi activists, scholars and thinkers who have sought reform and opposed the forces of extremism and patriarchy have been arrested. Many of them face the death penalty.

    Salman Alodah, my father, is a 61-year-old scholar of Islamic law in Saudi Arabia, a reformist who argued for greater respect for human rights within Shariah, the legal code of Islam based on the Quran. His voice was heard widely, partly owing to his popularity as a public figure with 14 million followers on Twitter.
    The author’s father, Salman Alodah, has been held in solitary confinement since 2017.CreditFamily photograph
    Image
    The author’s father, Salman Alodah, has been held in solitary confinement since 2017.CreditFamily photograph

    On Sept. 10, 2017, my father, who was disturbed by regional tensions after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt imposed a blockade on Qatar, spoke obliquely about the conflict and expressed his desire for reconciliation. “May Allah mend their hearts for the best of their peoples,” he tweeted.

    A few hours after his tweet, a team from the Saudi security services came to our house in Riyadh, searched the house, confiscated some laptops and took my father away.

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    The Saudi government was apparently angered and considered his tweet a criminal violation. His interrogators told my father that his assuming a neutral position on the Saudi-Qatar crisis and failing to stand with the Saudi government was a crime.

    He is being held in solitary confinement in Dhahban prison in Jidda. He was chained and handcuffed for months inside his cell, deprived of sleep and medical help and repeatedly interrogated throughout the day and night. His deteriorating health — high blood pressure and cholesterol that he developed in prison — was ignored until he had to be hospitalized. Until the trial, about a year after his arrest, he was denied access to lawyers.

    On Sept. 4, a specialized criminal court in Riyadh convened off-camera to consider the numerous charges against my father: stirring public discord and inciting people against the ruler, calling for change in government and supporting Arab revolutions by focusing on arbitrary detention and freedom of speech, possessing banned books and describing the Saudi government as a tyranny. The kingdom’s attorney general sought the death penalty for him.

    Saudi Arabia has exploited the general indifference of the West toward its internal politics and presented the crackdown against reformist figures like my father as a move against the conservative religious establishment. The reality is far from their claims.

    My father is loved by the Saudi people because his authority and legitimacy as an independent Muslim scholar set him apart from the state-appointed scholars. Using Islamic principles to support his arguments, he championed civil liberties, participatory politics, the separation of powers and judicial independence.


  • Someone Built A $200 Million Village Of Disney-Like Castles, Realizes His Mistake When It’s Too Late | Bored Panda
    https://www.boredpanda.com/turkey-abandoned-villas-disney-castles

    The Sarot Group was recently slapped with a court-ordered bankruptcy ruling over the Burj Al Babas’ $27 million debt. The project was designed to include 732 chateau-style villas, swimming pools, Turkish baths, health and beauty centers, a shopping center and a mosque, according to its website. And even though customers from Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia have bought around 350 of the 587 villas built, it’s not enough.

    #ghost_town


  • Drone footage reveals hundreds of abandoned Turkish chateaux at Burj Al Babas
    https://www.dezeen.com/2019/01/18/drone-abandoned-turkish-chateau-burj-al-babas

    Approximately halfway between Turkey’s largest city Istanbul and its capital Ankara, the Burj Al Babas development will contain 732 identical mini chateaux when, or if, it completes.

    Au premier regard j’ai cru à des maquettes, mais non !

    #architecture #lotissement

    • Vraiment ? Pas un fake ? Y’a d’autres sources ? Google maps ?
      Parce qu’ un château, c’est bien quand t’es seul. La non seulement tu te tapes des voisins mais en plus, t’as la même baraque que les autres, autant vivre à la Courneuve.
      Une Ferrari c’est bien si le parking du supermarché n’en est pas rempli. Sinon ça devient du mauvais goût, comme là.

    • non pas du tout fake

      #Talia_Saray_Villa

      gg:Maps
      https://www.google.fr/maps/place/Burj+Al+Babas+Villa/@40.4450213,31.1973133,1129m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x14cd368170cadda5:0x1c3af436b3407cb!8m2!3d40.462581!

      gg:Images

      présenté comme un "projet hôtelier", je crois (mais ce n’est pas très clair) que les pavillons sont destinés à des investisseurs, non pour une gestion directe des locations.

      Talia Saray Project » Burj Global Group
      http://burjglobalgroup.com/property/talia-saray-project

      DESCRIPTION
      Burj Global Real Estate Group Launches Talia Saray Project (Talia Sarai) for Royal Villas (1/5/2017)

      The resort is located in Modorno district of the Polo Turkish state Which is one of the most attractive natural areas for tourists and it is two hours from Istanbul and an hour and  a half from the capital Ankara, an hour from Sabanga, a lively area of ??nature and sulfuric water (therapeutic)  at 860 meters above sea level, where fresh air and 25 degrees Summer degree.

      The area is characterized by a tourist atmosphere in the summer and winter, where tourists go for recreation and  relax with therapeutic water. The Talia Saray project is the company’s sixth project in this region.

      The resort is equipped with all hotel services / large commercial mall / 8 natural and industrial lakes  / restaurants and cafés throughout the resort / indoor and open swimming pools for women and men for privacy / Hotel / children daycare / Mosques / Hospital / Cinema / Spa Jacuzzi & Sauna / Horseback Riding /
      Thermal Water Swimming Pool / Heliport / Aqua Park / Golf Land / Soccer courts, Basketball, Tennis /  Artificial river / Golf cars for mobility within the project / Trips to Istanbul / Maintenance /  Guarding and security 24 hours a week /

      The project consists of 350 villas designed in classic style. The interior of the villa is 300 square meters. Divided into two floors. The ground floor consists of three open living rooms (can be two bedrooms), a dining room,  a kitchen with a bathroom and rooms, a Jacuzzi and steam room with thermal water, with a terrace that can be  turned into a diwaniya and a back terrace overlooking the villa’s back garden. The first floor consists of three bedrooms (one of them master room) and two bathrooms with a large terrace  and a balcony overlooking the lakes in the resort, villas also feature modern furnishings and  full luxurious decor in keeping with the villa’s exterior design.

      The villa garden is organized in an engineering style, decorated with flowers and enjoys full privacy.  A private outdoor swimming pool can also be set up for the villa.
      The land area of each villa ranges from 320 meters to 669 square meters registered under the title deed,  and most of the sites are characterized by the presence of pleas for the right of use of owners villas.

      Delivery date 2019
      Payment methods cash or installments up to Three-year

    • Faillite en novembre 2018, donc…
      –> #ghost_town !


      Partially completed chateau-like houses in the project
      Source: Sarot Group/Burj Al Babas/Facebook

      Customers from Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia snapped up 350 of the villas, according to Hurriyet, at a going rate of $370,000 to $530,000. They specifically asked for the chateau-like design, according to the project’s consulting architect, Naci Yoruk.

      Sarot Group Chairman Mehmet Emin Yerdelen blamed his predicament on deadbeat clients.

      We couldn’t get about 7.5 million dollars receivables for the villas we have sold to Gulf countries,Hurriyet quoted Yerdelen as saying. “We applied for bankruptcy protection but the court ruled for bankruptcy. We will appeal the ruling.

      The group finished building 587 villas before it applied for bankruptcy protection.

      Although the court ordered the group to stop construction immediately, Yerdelen is still hopeful.

      Investisseurs défaillants du Golfe…

    • article non daté, mais très certainement du 5/12/2018 vu le numéro de la page…
      (et modifié après puisqu’il reprend une annonce du 16/09/2019

      Bonne nouvelle, le groupe serait plutôt sous redressement judiciaire et a été autorisé à poursuivre la commercialisation des pavillons et châteaux…

      http://i.hurimg.com/i/hdn/75/650x650/5bfbcf4567b0a820a05ea3fd

      http://i.hurimg.com/i/hdn/75/650x650/5bfbcf4867b0a820a05ea3ff

      A lawsuit had been filed against the developers of the Burj Al Babas housing project on grounds that the company destroyed trees and dumped excavated soil on forestland in the district of Mudurnu in the northwestern province of Bolu.

      With the criminal case continuing in the Mudurnu court and the company also appealing the court-declared bankruptcy in Istanbul, the firm’s chairman Mehmet Emin Yerdelen told Demirören News Agency on Jan. 16 that the sale of the villas resumed because the Bankruptcy Directorate allowed it.

      Our companies are currently operating in normal conditions under judicial control. Our sales and construction works continue as part of our resumed commercial activities,” he said.
      […]
      But the court now decided on bankruptcy. That was a wrong decision. The total value of the project is about $200 million. We will object to this decision. We still have 250 villas completed and ready to go on sale. Selling only 100 of them would be enough to pay off the debts and complete the project,” Mehmet Emin Yerdelen, the chair of the Sarot Group, told daily Hürriyet.


  • The roundabout revolutions

    The history of these banal, utilitarian instruments of traffic management has become entangled with that of political uprising, #Eyal_Weizman argues in his latest book

    This project started with a photograph. It was one of the most arresting images depicting the May 1980 #Gwangju uprising, recognised now as the first step in the eventual overthrow of the military dictatorship in South Korea. The photograph (above) depicts a large crowd of people occupying a roundabout in the city center. Atop a disused fountain in the middle of the roundabout a few protestors have unfurled a South Korean flag. The roundabout organised the protest in concentric circles, a geometric order that exposed the crowd to itself, helping a political collective in becoming.

    It had an uncanny resonance with events that had just unfolded: in the previous year a series of popular uprisings spread through Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, #Oman, Yemen, Libya, and Syria. These events shared with Gwangju not only the historical circumstances – they too were popular protests against military dictatorships – but, remarkably, an urban-architectural setting: many of them similarly erupted on roundabouts in downtown areas. The history of these roundabouts is entangled with the revolutions that rose from them.

    The photograph of the roundabout—now the symbol of the “liberated republic” – was taken by #Na_Kyung-taek from the roof of the occupied Provincial Hall, looking toward Geumnam-ro, only a few hours before the fall of the “#Gwangju_Republic”. In the early morning hours of the following day, the Gwangju uprising was overwhelmed by military force employing tanks and other armed vehicles. The last stand took place at the roundabout.

    The scene immediately resonates with the well-known photographs of people gathering in #Tahrir_Square in early 2011. Taken from different high-rise buildings around the square, a distinct feature in these images is the traffic circle visible by the way it organises bodies and objects in space. These images became the symbol of the revolution that led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 – an event described by urban historian Nezar AlSayyad as “Cairo’s roundabout revolution”. But the Gwangju photograph also connects to images of other roundabouts that erupted in dissent in fast succession throughout the Middle East. Before Tahrir, as Jonathan Liu noted in his essay Roundabouts and Revolutions, it was the main roundabout in the capital of Tunisia – subsequently renamed Place du 14 Janvier 2011 after the date on which President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was forced to flee the country. Thousands of protesters gathered at the roundabout in Tunis and filled the city’s main boulevard.

    A main roundabout in Bahrain’s capital Manama erupted in protests shortly after the overthrow of Mubarak in Egypt. Its central traffic island became the site of popular protests against the government and the first decisive act of military repression: the protests were violently broken up and the roundabout itself destroyed and replaced with a traffic intersection. In solidarity with the Tahrir protests, the roundabouts in the small al-Manara Square in Ramallah and the immense Azadi Square in Tehran also filled with protesters. These events, too, were violently suppressed.

    The roundabouts in Tehran and Ramallah had also been the scenes of previous revolts. In 2009 the Azadi roundabout in Iran’s capital was the site of the main protests of the Green Movement contesting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection. Hamid Dabashi, a literature professor at Columbia University and one of the most outspoken public intellectuals on these revolutions, claims that the Green Movement was inspirational for the subsequent revolutionary wave in the Arab world. In Palestine, revolt was a permanent consequence of life under occupation, and the al-Manara roundabout was a frequent site of clashes between Palestinian youth and the Israeli military. The sequence of roundabout revolutions evolved as acts of imitation, each building on its predecessor, each helping propel the next.

    Roundabouts were of course not only exhilarating sites of protest and experiments in popular democracy, but moreover they were places where people gathered and risked their life. The Gwangju uprising is, thus, the first of the roundabout revolutions. Liu wrote: “In all these cases, the symbolism is almost jokingly obvious: what better place to stage a revolution, after all, then one built for turning around?” What better way to show solidarity across national borders than to stage protests in analogous places?

    Why roundabouts? After all, they are banal, utilitarian instruments of traffic management, certainly not prone to induce revolutionary feeling. Other kinds of sites – squares, boulevards, favelas, refugee camps – have served throughout history as the setting for political protest and revolt. Each alignment of a roundabout and a revolution has a specific context and diverse causes, but the curious repetition of this phenomenon might give rise to several speculations. Urban roundabouts are the intersection points of large axes, which also puts them at the start or end of processions.

    Occupying a roundabout demonstrates the power of tactical acupuncture: it blocks off all routes going in and out. Congestion moves outward like a wave, flowing down avenues and streets through large parts of the city. By pressuring a single pivotal point within a networked infrastructure, an entire city can be put under siege (a contemporary contradistinction to the medieval technique of surrounding the entire perimeter of a city wall). Unlike public squares, which are designed as sites for people to gather (therefore not interrupting the flow of vehicular traffic) and are usually monitored and policed, roundabout islands are designed to keep people away. The continuous flow of traffic around them creates a wall of speeding vehicles that prohibits access. While providing open spaces (in some cities the only available open spaces) these islands are meant to be seen but not used.

    Another possible explanation is their symbolic power: they often contain monuments that represent the existing regime. The roundabouts of recent revolutions had emblematic names – Place du 7 Novembre 1987, the date the previous regime took power in Tunisia; “Liberty” (Azadi), referring to the 1979 Iranian Revolution; or “Liberation” (Tahrir), referring to the 1952 revolutions in Egypt. Roundabout islands often had statues, both figurative and abstract, representing the symbolic order of regimes. Leaders might have wished to believe that circular movement around their monuments was akin to a form of worship or consent. While roundabouts exercise a centripetal force, pulling protestors into the city center, the police seek to generate movement in the opposite direction, out and away from the center, and to break a collective into controllable individuals that can be handled and dispersed.

    The most common of all centrifugal forces of urban disorganisation during protests is tear gas, a formless cloud that drifts through space to disperse crowds. From Gwangju to Cairo, Manama to Ramallah, hundreds of tear-gas canisters were used largely exceeding permitted levels in an attempt to evict protesters from public spaces. The bodily sensation of the gas forms part of the affective dimension of the roundabout revolution. When tear gas is inhaled, the pain is abrupt, sharp, and isolating. The eyes shut involuntary, generating a sense of disorientation and disempowerment.

    Protestors have found ways to mitigate the toxic effects of this weapon. Online advice is shared between activists from Palestine through Cairo to Ferguson. The best protection is offered by proper gas masks. Improvised masks made of mineral water bottles cut in half and equipped with a filter of wet towels also work, according to online manuals. Some activists wear swim goggles and place wet bandanas or kaffiyehs over their mouths. To mitigate some of the adverse effects, these improvised filters can be soaked in water, lemon juice, vinegar, toothpaste, or wrapped around an onion. When nothing else is at hand, breathe the air from inside your shirt and run upwind onto higher ground. When you have a chance, blow your nose, rinse your mouth, cough, and spit.


    https://www.iconeye.com/opinion/comment/item/12093-the-roundabout-revolutions
    #révolution #résistance #giratoire #carrefour #rond-point #routes #infrastructure_routière #soulèvement_politique #Corée_du_Sud #printemps_arabe #Egypte #Tunisie #Bahreïni #Yémen #Libye #Syrie #Tahrir

    Du coup : #gilets_jaunes ?

    @albertocampiphoto & @philippe_de_jonckheere

    This project started with a photograph. It was one of the most arresting images depicting the May 1980 #Gwangju uprising, recognised now as the first step in the eventual overthrow of the military dictatorship in South Korea. The photograph (above) depicts a large crowd of people occupying a roundabout in the city center. Atop a disused fountain in the middle of the roundabout a few protestors have unfurled a South Korean flag. The roundabout organised the protest in concentric circles, a geometric order that exposed the crowd to itself, helping a political collective in becoming.

    –-> le pouvoir d’une #photographie...

    signalé par @isskein

    ping @reka


  • US Syria withdrawal may speed up Arab-Israeli detente, well-connected rabbi says | The Times of Israel
    https://www.timesofisrael.com/us-syria-withdrawal-may-speed-up-arab-israeli-detente-well-connected-

    The rabbi, Marc Schneier of New York, also predicted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Bahrain next month, and that the small Gulf kingdom will soon establish formal ties with Israel.

    (...) Schneier, the founder and head of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, has for many years conducted extensive ties with the rulers of many Muslim countries, including nearly all Gulf states.

    Earlier this month, he was named a “special adviser” to the king of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. In this unpaid position, the rabbi was tasked with assisting the King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence based in Manama, and to “help in preserving and growing the country’s Jewish community,” he said.

    (...) “There’s a growing interest on part of Gulf leaders to developing Jewish life,” said Schneier, who established and runs a Jewish community in the Hamptons.

    Earlier this month, The Times of Israel for the first time revealed the existence of a tiny Jewish community in Dubai. Jewish communities exist also in Bahrain and Qatar, according to Schneier.

    “There is a genuine commitment and desire to establish relations with Israel,” he said. “It used to be, ‘Let the Israelis and Palestinians work our their differences and then call us.’ Now it’s, ‘Let the Israelis and Palestinians be in discussion and at the same time we can discuss establishing relations,’” he said.

    “I predict that in 2019 it will happen. You will see one or two Gulf states establishing diplomatic relations with Israel. I think Bahrain will be the first.”

    N’allez surtout pas croire que cet étrange rabbin soit le moins du monde un fonctionnaire israélien officieusement en poste dans ce petit Etat du Golfe...

    #israël #bahreïn #normalisation


  • Kuwait latest country to reopen embassy in Syria
    https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/kuwait-latest-country-to-reopen-embassy-in-syria

    Emirats arabes unis hier, Bahrein et Koweït aujourd’hui. Hier aussi reprise des vols de Syrianair vers la Tunisie. #normalisation accélérée pour la Syrie.

    In the course of 24 hours, two Arab nations have announced their intention to reopen their embassies in Syria after a seven year hiatus.

    According to a government source in Damascus, Kuwait will reopen their embassy in Syria in the next 10-14 days.

    Kuwait’s decision comes shortly after Bahrain announced that they were reopening their embassy in Damascus after closing it more than seven years ago.

    On Thursday afternoon, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reopened their embassy during a brief ceremony that was held in Damascus.

    • On parle aussi de la Mauritanie :

      الرئيس الموريتاني محمد ولد عبد العزيز سيقوم بزيارة رسمية إلى سوريا
      ٤-٥ يناير القادم حسب مصادر رسمية في نواكشوط

      الخليل ولد اجدود ajouté,
      عضوان الأحمري
      Compte certifié @Adhwan
      عودة العلاقات مع سوريا بشكل طبيعي مسألة وقت. عمر البشير قص الشريط، وستتبعه دول أخرى. تصريح الإمارات قبل قليل عن أن عودة دمشق للجامعة العربية بحاجة توافق عربي مؤشر جديد. كما أن رئيس السودان لم يزر دمشق دون استشارة واستنارة.
      16:15 - 27 déc. 2018 depuis Mauritania


  • An X reveals a Diamond : locating Israeli Patriot batteries using radar interference – Federation Of American Scientists
    https://fas.org/blogs/security/2018/11/an-x-reveals-a-diamond-locating-israeli-patriot-batteries-using-radar-interfere

    Amid a busy few weeks of nuclear-related news, an Israeli researcher made a very surprising OSINT discovery that flew somewhat under the radar. As explained in a Medium article, Israeli GIS analyst Harel Dan noticed that when he accidentally adjusted the noise levels of the imagery produced from the SENTINEL-1 satellite constellation, a bunch of colored Xs suddenly appeared all over the globe.

    SENTINEL-1’s C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) operates at a centre frequency of 5.405 GHz, which conveniently sits within the range of the military frequency used for land, airborne, and naval radar systems (5.250-5.850 GHz)—including the AN/MPQ-53/65 phased array radars that form the backbone of a Patriot battery’s command and control system. Therefore, Harel correctly hypothesized that some of the Xs that appeared in the SENTINEL-1 images could be triggered by interference from Patriot radar systems.

    Using this logic, he was able to use the Xs to pinpoint the locations of Patriot batteries in several Middle Eastern countries, including Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.

    This blog post partially fills that gap, while acknowledging that there are some known Patriot sites—both in Israel and elsewhere around the globe—that interestingly don’t produce an X via the SAR imagery.

    All of these sites were already known to Israel-watchers and many have appeared in news articles, making Harel’s redaction somewhat unnecessary—especially since the images reveal nothing about operational status or system capabilities.

    Avec analyse détaillée des 4 sites israéliens de batteries de missiles Patriot identifiés, dont l’un (Palmachim, cf. https://seenthis.net/messages/740257 ) figure d’ailleurs sur la liste des cibles du Hezbollah…

    The proximity of the Negev air defense battery to an Israeli nuclear facility is not unique. In fact, the 2002 SIPRI Yearbook suggests that several of the Yahalom batteries identified through SENTINEL-1 SAR imagery are either co-located with or located close to facilities related to Israel’s nuclear weapons program. The Palmachim site is near the Soreq Centre, which is responsible for nuclear weapons research and design, and the Mount Carmel site is near the Yodefat Rafael facility in Haifa—which is associated with the production of Jericho missiles and the assembly of nuclear weapons—and near the base for Israel’s Dolphin-class submarines, which are rumored to be nuclear-capable.

    Google Earth’s images of Israel have been intentionally blurred since 1997, due to a US law known as the Kyl-Bingaman Amendment which prohibits US satellite imagery companies from selling pictures that are “no more detailed or precise than satellite imagery of Israel that is available from commercial sources.” As a result, it is not easy to locate the exact position of the Yahalom batteries; for example, given the number of facilities and the quality of the imagery, the site at Palmachim is particularly challenging to spot.

    However, this law is actually being revisited this year and could soon be overturned, which would be a massive boon for Israel-watchers. Until that happens though, Israel will remain blurry and difficult to analyze, making creative OSINT techniques like Harel’s all the more useful.


  • Is Saudi Arabia repaying Trump for Khashoggi by attacking Linda Sarsour?

    A Saudi-owned website considered close to the royal family claimed that Sarsour, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are agents of Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood who declared a ’jihad’ on Trump

    Allison Kaplan Sommer
    Dec 10, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-how-saudi-arabia-is-repaying-trump-for-his-support-on-khashoggi-1.

    There is nothing earth-shattering about seeing Women’s March leader and Arab-American activist Linda Sarsour criticized as a dangerous Islamist by the conservative right and pro-Israel advocates in the United States. But the latest attack on the activist comes from a new and somewhat surprising source: Saudi Arabia.
    Al Arabiya, a Saudi-owned, pan-Arab news channel closely linked to the country’s royal family and widely viewed as reflecting Saudi foreign policy, published an article Sunday strongly suggesting that Sarsour and two incoming Muslim congresswomen are puppets planted by the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar to undermine the Trump administration.
    The feature, which profiles Sarsour, seems to cast her as the latest proxy figure in the kingdom’s bitter dispute with Qatar, and its bid to strengthen ties and curry favor with the White House.
    It also focused on two Democratic politicians whom Sarsour actively campaigned for in the 2018 midterms: Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, who are set to be the first-ever Muslim congresswomen when the House reconvenes in January.

    The Al Arabiya story on Linda Sarsour’s links to the Muslim Brotherhood, December 9, 2018.Screengrab
    Headlined “Details of calls to attack Trump by US ‘Muslim Sisters’ allied to Brotherhood,” the article is light on actual details but heavy on insinuation.
    Activists like Sarsour, and politicians like Tlaib and Omar, the Saudi publication wrote, are “mujahideen” (a term used to describe those involved in jihad) – fighting against “tyrants and opponents of Trump’s foreign policies.”

    The story says the policies they are fighting include “the siege of Iran, the fight against political Islam groups, and [Trump’s] choice of Saudi Arabia under the leadership of King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a strategic ally.”
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    Tlaib and Omar, Al Arabiya asserts, are agents designed to “restore” control of political Islamist movements on the U.S. government by attacking Trump. The article says this effort is being directed by Sarsour – who, it writes, is purportedly funded and controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood - a claim it fails to provide any clear basis for.
    Tamara Cofman Wittes, a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, Washington, says it should come as little surprise to those familiar with the region that “a state-owned Arabic news outlet would publish conspiracy theories about people whose views don’t accord with those of the government that funds it.”
    Al Arabiya, based in Dubai, but Saudi-owned, was founded in 2002 as a counter to Qatar’s popular Al Jazeera TV station – which frequently runs material sharply critical of the Saudis – as well as other Arabic media outlets critical of Saudi influence and supportive of political Islam.
    The article comes as rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Qatar has heated up in recent times, with Qatar’s emir skipping this weekend’s Gulf Cooperation Council summit hosted by Saudi Arabia, which has led a diplomatic war on its neighbor for the past 18 months.
    Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and non-GCC member Egypt cut diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar in June 2017, charging that the country supports terrorism. Qatar denies the charges and says the Saudi boycott aims to curtail its sovereignty. Last week, the Gulf nation announced it was withdrawing from the OPEC oil cartel.
    Islamists vs Islamists
    “Democrats’ battle against the Republican control of the U.S. Congress led to an alliance with political Islamist movements in order to restore their control on government, pushing Muslim candidates and women activists of immigrant minorities onto the electoral scene,” the report states.
    The “common ground” between Omar and Tlaib, the article adds, is to battle Trump’s foreign policy “starting from the sanctions on Iran to the isolation of the Muslim Brotherhood and all movements of political Islam. Those sponsoring and supporting the two Muslim women to reach the U.S. Congress adopted a tactic to infiltrate through their immigrant and black minority communities in general, and women’s groups in particular.
    The article ties Sarsour to Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood through multiple associations with the Arab American Association of New York, which “was created by Palestinian Ahmed Jaber, a member of the Qatar International Foundation responsible for funding the association,” and also her attendance at an annual meeting of the International Network of Muslim Brotherhood in North America and Canada in 2016.
    The article compares Sarsour’s rhetoric to that “used by Muslim Brotherhood teachings and in the views of Sayyid Qutb, a scholar and co-founder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, as well as from Abul A’la Maududi’s books ‘Islam and Ignorance’ and ‘Fundamentals of Islam.’
    “From all that is mentioned, we can touch the influence of Muslim Brotherhood in shaping the thoughts of American activist Linda Sarsour and consequently her declaring her ‘jihad’ against U.S. President Donald Trump, in addition to her call for the application of ‘Sharia,’ the rule of Islam in the United States of America,” the piece asserts.
    No one knows for sure whether Al Arabiya received direct orders from the Saudi government to attack Sarsour, Tlaib, Omar and other politically active Muslim women on the American left.
    Those familiar with Middle East media say conspiracy-minded attacks against figures in American politics aren’t particularly unusual in Arabic,
    but what is unique about this article is the fact it appeared in English on the network’s website.
    It seems to be a highly creative attempt to somehow repay the Trump White House as it deals with the fallout from the Jamal Khashoggi assassination. As Trump continues to take heat for staying close to the Saudis, they, in turn, are demonstrating their loyalty with their willingness to vilify people who were President Barack Obama’s supporters and are now Trump’s political enemies – even if they wear a hijab.

    Allison Kaplan Sommer
    Haaretz Correspondent


  • Exclusive: Khashoggi murder further complicates ’Arab NATO’ plan - U.S. sources | Reuters

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-mideast-alliance-exclusive/exclusive-khashoggi-murder-further-complicates-arab-nato-plan-u-s-sources-i

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump’s strategy to contain Iranian power in the Middle East by forging Arab allies into a U.S.-backed security alliance was in trouble even before the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Now, three U.S. sources said, the plan faces fresh complications.

    FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
    Khashoggi’s murder on Oct. 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has drawn international outrage against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with Turkish officials and some U.S. lawmakers accusing the kingdom’s de facto ruler of ordering the killing.

    The Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) aims to bind Sunni Muslim governments in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan in a U.S.-led security, political and economic pact to counter Shi’ite Iran. 

    But feuds among Arab allies, especially a Saudi-led economic and political boycott of Qatar, have hampered the founding of the alliance since Riyadh proposed it last year.

    A summit meeting in the United States where Trump and the Arab leaders would sign a preliminary accord on the alliance was expected in January. But the three U.S. sources and a Gulf diplomat said the meeting now looks uncertain. It has already been postponed several times, they added. 

    Khashoggi’s murder raised “a whole bunch of problems” to be solved before the plan - informally referred to as the “Arab NATO” - can move forward, one U.S. source said. One issue is how the Americans could have the Saudi crown prince, who goes by the initials MbS, attend the summit without causing widespread outrage.

    “It’s not palatable,” the source said.


  • UAE. The Other Murderous Gulf - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

    https://carnegieendowment.org/2018/10/30/other-murderous-gulf-pub-77606

    Since the murder of Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi hit squad in early October, Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and patron of Saudi Arabia’s own crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), has resembled the cat that swallowed the canary. The disastrous regional adventurism and ruthless despotism of his protégé has averted Washington’s gaze from the UAE’s own responsibility for the carnage that is roiling the region. But the UAE should not be given a get out jail free card. If the White House refuses to hold the Emirates accountable for undermining U.S. interests, Congress should use its constitutional power to step into the leadership void.

    Richard Sokolsky

    Richard Sokolsky is a nonresident senior fellow in Carnegie’s Russia and Eurasia Program. His work focuses on U.S. policy toward Russia in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.
    Throughout Yemen’s three-and-a-half-year civil war, the Emiratis have been as brutal and reckless as the Saudis. While Saudi aircraft slaughter innocent civilians at wedding halls, funerals, homes, markets, schools, and ports, UAE boots on the ground have also contributed to the humanitarian disaster. The UAE-led military offensive in and around the port city of Hodeidah has been a catastrophe: over 400,000 Yemenis have been displaced since June and the fighting has considerably worsened the country’s already alarming food crisis and famine. Human rights organizations have reported on secret UAE-administered detention facilities where torture, beatings, electric shocks, and killings have occurred. The UAE royal family has paid retired U.S. Special Forces soldiers to track down and assassinate Yemeni political figures that it believes are in league with the wider Muslim Brotherhood movement. In Aden, the UAE has organized, supplied, and paid militias to foment fractious proxy violence. Yemenis who once saw the Emirati intervention as an heroic act to defend their nation’s sovereignty from a ruthless Iran-supported militia are now depicting it as an occupation, if not colonization.

    The UAE is part of the coalition of “Saudi-led” Arab countries (along with Bahrain and Egypt) that imposed a blockade against Qatar in May 2017. These nations were attempting to, among other things, end Qatar’s “terrorism,” cut its ties to Iran, get it to stop meddling in the internal affairs of other countries, and force it to pursue a less independent foreign policy. The UAE has taken an even more hardline stance against the Qataris than the Saudis, in part because it is more fanatical than Riyadh about eradicating any trace of Muslim Brotherhood influence in Qatar and the region more broadly. The boycott, which has divided America’s partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council, has been a disaster for both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, affording both Iran and Turkey opportunities to expand their influence in Doha. Nor has it worked out well for Washington, which hoped to forge a united Gulf front to contain Iranian influence. But for the UAE, the Saudis have been a useful surrogate for outsized regional ambitions; the Emiratis’ relationship with the Kingdom has allowed them to punch well above their weight. That’s not a good thing.


  • Exclusive: Mesa to include nine countries while prioritising Iran threat - The National

    https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/exclusive-mesa-to-include-nine-countries-while-prioritising-iran-threat-

    S Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs Tim Lenderking has spent the last three weeks in shuttle regional diplomacy across the Gulf to lay the groundwork for a US-hosted summit in January that would launch the Middle East Strategic Alliance (Mesa), a concept similar to an Arab Nato.

    In an interview with The National on Wednesday, Mr Lenderking divulged details about the structure of Mesa and its long term prospects. He said besides the Gulf Cooperation Council members – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman – the US and both Egypt and Jordan would be members of such an alliance.

    Mr Lenderking said that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be hosting a GCC + 2 meeting on the margins of United Nations General Assembly on Friday to prepare for the January summit.

    “This stems from the Riyadh summit in 2017 where everyone agreed that the US and the GCC would meet on an annual basis...we added on top of that the keen interest on both sides in building Mesa,” Mr Lenderking explained. The alliance would be based on a security, economic and political agreement that would bind together the GCC countries, along with the US, Egypt and Jordan.

    Notwithstanding the different policy priorities within the GCC itself, Mr Lenderking said the idea of Mesa is “it builds a good strong shield against threats in the Gulf,” naming Iran, cyber concerns, attacks on infrastructure, and coordinating conflict management from Syria to Yemen as part of its agenda.

    “The more we have coordinated efforts, the more effective in enhancing stability,” he said, adding that Iran was the “number one threat” on the Mesa list.

    The senior US official confirmed that the US would be part of the alliance and “we [US] would like to agree on the concept of Mesa by the January summit.”

    He cautioned, however, that these conversations are still in their early stages and “if we find we need to change dates we need to be flexible on that”.


  • Oman’s Port Strategy – LobeLog
    https://lobelog.com/omans-port-strategy

    Within the Arabian Peninsula, Duqm and Salalah have much potential to further shape geopolitical relations amid strategic shifts in the regional balance of power. Any major investments by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Duqm (and other Omani projects) should be watched closely for their effect on intra-Gulf politics. Some analysts contend that both countries are attempting to restrict the Sultanate’s geopolitical maneuverability as Muscat and Tehran try to maintain cooperative relations. As Riyadh and Abu Dhabi may use their petro-dollars to influence Oman’s future position in an increasingly polarized Gulf, they could use investments in Omani infrastructure projects as another way to gain leverage. Likewise, Oman’s trade infrastructure proved highly useful to Qatar last year when Doha needed alternatives to Jebel Ali as a logistics hub linking the emirate to the global economy.

    It goes without saying that Iran itself is a key factor in this equation. If tensions in the Strait of Hormuz escalate, Duqm and Salalah would need to prepare for any trade-related ramifications. The Omani government must stay vigilant and aware of any escalations of friction amid increasingly harsh rhetoric from Washington and Tehran that threaten to unleash an armed conflict in or near the strait. Yet the ports’ advantageous geographic locations could help Gulf states continue to sell their oil and gas in the event of such a crisis, as shipments via Duqm and Salalah will not need to travel through the strait. Whereas Saudi Arabia has its Red Sea coast and the UAE has one Emirate (Fujairah) outside the strait, which would enable these two states to continue exporting oil in the event of the strait’s closure, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar are fully dependent on that artery for their hydrocarbon exports. As Amer No’man Ashour, chief analyst and economist at CNBC Arabia, explains:

    We all know that more than 30 per cent of oil shipments pass through the Strait of Hormuz and with this shift via the Port of Fujairah and the Duqm port, the GCC countries will ensure that their oil shipments are safe, and this will decrease the risk and the cost of insurance on ships… Al-Duqm Port is one of the best ever solutions to the oil issue… It is 800 kilometres away from UAE borders. We know that the UAE has had a partial solution via Fujairah with a capacity of 1.1 million barrels per day, but the production of the UAE is almost 3 million barrels per day. Most of Kuwait, Qatari and Saudi oil is produced in the eastern parts of the Gulf area and this new Omani port will be very suitable for exporting oil to the world.

    #oman #grand_jeu


  • The U.S. is wrong about the Muslim Brotherhood — and the Arab world is suffering for it - The Washington Post

    By Jamal Khashoggi
    August 28 at 3:26 PM

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/08/28/the-u-s-is-wrong-about-the-muslim-brotherhood-and-the-arab-world-is-

    During the Obama presidency, the U.S. administration was wary of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had come to power in Egypt after the country’s first-ever free elections. Despite his declared support for democracy and change in the Arab world in the wake of the Arab Spring, then-President Barack Obama did not take a strong position and reject the coup against President-elect Mohamed Morsi. The coup, as we know, led to the military’s return to power in the largest Arab country — along with tyranny, repression, corruption and mismanagement.

    That is the conclusion that David D. Kirkpatrick arrives at in his excellent book “Into the Hands of the Soldiers,” which was released this month. A former Cairo bureau chief for the New York Times, Kirkpatrick gives a sad account of Egypt’s 2013 coup that led to the loss of a great opportunity to reform the entire Arab world and allow a historic change that might have freed the region from a thousand years of tyranny.

    • During the Obama presidency, the U.S. administration was wary of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had come to power in Egypt after the country’s first-ever free elections. Despite his declared support for democracy and change in the Arab world in the wake of the Arab Spring, then-President Barack Obama did not take a strong position and reject the coup against President-elect Mohamed Morsi. The coup, as we know, led to the military’s return to power in the largest Arab country — along with tyranny, repression, corruption and mismanagement.

      That is the conclusion that David D. Kirkpatrick arrives at in his excellent book “Into the Hands of the Soldiers,” which was released this month. A former Cairo bureau chief for the New York Times, Kirkpatrick gives a sad account of Egypt’s 2013 coup that led to the loss of a great opportunity to reform the entire Arab world and allow a historic change that might have freed the region from a thousand years of tyranny.

      The United States’s aversion to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is more apparent in the current Trump administration, is the root of a predicament across the entire Arab world. The eradication of the Muslim Brotherhood is nothing less than an abolition of democracy and a guarantee that Arabs will continue living under authoritarian and corrupt regimes. In turn, this will mean the continuation of the causes behind revolution, extremism and refugees — all of which have affected the security of Europe and the rest of the world. Terrorism and the refugee crisis have changed the political mood in the West and brought the extreme right to prominence there.

      There can be no political reform and democracy in any Arab country without accepting that political Islam is a part of it. A significant number of citizens in any given Arab country will give their vote to Islamic political parties if some form of democracy is allowed. It seems clear then that the only way to prevent political Islam from playing a role in Arab politics is to abolish democracy, which essentially deprives citizens of their basic right to choose their political representatives.

      Shafeeq Ghabra, a professor of political science at Kuwait University, explains the problem in this way: “The Arab regimes’ war on the Brotherhood does not target the movement alone, but rather targets those who practice politics, who demand freedom and accountability, and all who have a popular base in society.” A quick look at the political degradation that has taken place in Egypt since the military’s return to power confirms what Ghabra says. President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi’s regime has cracked down on the Islamists and arrested some 60,000 of them. Now it has extended its heavy hand against both secular and military figures, even those who supported him in the coup. In today’s Egypt, political life is totally dead.

      It is wrong to dwell on political Islam, conservatism and identity issues when the choice is between having a free society tolerant of all viewpoints and having an oppressive regime. Five years of Sissi’s rule in Egypt makes this point clear.

      There are efforts here in Washington, encouraged by some Arab states that do not support freedom and democracy, to persuade Congress to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. If they succeed, the designation will weaken the fragile steps toward democracy and political reform that have already been curbed in the Arab world. It will also push backward the Arab countries that have made progress in creating a tolerant environment and allowing political participation by various components of society, including the Islamists.

      Islamists today participate in the parliaments of various Arab countries such as Kuwait, Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia and Morocco. This has led to the emergence of Islamic democracy, such as the Ennahda movement in Tunisia, and the maturing of democratic transformation in the other countries.

      The coup in Egypt led to the loss of a precious opportunity for Egypt and the entire Arab world. If the democratic process had continued there, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political practices could have matured and become more inclusive, and the unimaginable peaceful rotation of power could have become a reality and a precedent to be followed.

      The Trump administration always says it wants to correct Obama’s mistakes. It should add his mishandling of Arab democracy to its list. Obama erred when he wasted the precious opportunity that could have changed the history of the Arab world, and when he caved to pressure from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as from members of his own administration. They all missed the big picture and were governed by their intolerant hatred for any form of political Islam, a hatred that has destroyed Arabs’ choice for democracy and good governance.

      #Frères_musulmans #USA #Egypte


  • Growing demand for Russian arms in the Middle East: The Syria Effect?
    https://www.mesp.me/2018/06/21/growing-demand-for-russian-arms-in-the-middle-east-the-syria-effect

    A quick look on arms transfers databases reveals a growing demand for Russian arms in the Middle East. In 2012, Russia delivered weapons to four countries (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and the UAE – in addition to Syria and Iran). Five years later, in 2017, it delivered weapons to eight countries (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, the UAE and Turkey – in addition to Syria and Iran), and sales grew in variety, size and value. Compared to 2012, the sales, according to announced figures and estimates, at least doubled in size, both because of the expansion to new markets and increased sales to traditional partners. What could explain this increased interest in Russian weapons? Is President Vladimir Putin correct to credit the boost to the “marketing effect” of the Syrian war? Or are there other, more important, factors at play?

    The Russian military industrial complex showcased the best it has to offer in Syria, deploying a vast array of naval, air and ground weapon systems. Furthermore, the conflict has served as a major testing ground. According to various statements by Russian officials, a minimum of 60 and up to 200 of these weapons have been tested in combat for the first time in Syria. “Combat-proven” is in itself a major marketing argument. As Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said in 2017, “it cannot be overestimated (…) Customers have started queuing up for the weapons that have proven themselves in Syria.” Among those publicly confirmed first-time combat-tested weapons were both examples of the latest Russian state-of-the-art technology, as well as weapons serving in the Russian military for decades.

    “it cannot be overestimated (…) Customers have started queuing up for the weapons that have proven themselves in Syria” – Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov.


  • Saudi Arabia Planned to Invade Qatar Last Summer. Rex Tillerson’s Efforts to Stop It May Have Cost Him His Job.
    https://theintercept.com/2018/08/01/rex-tillerson-qatar-saudi-uae

    THIRTEEN HOURS BEFORE Secretary of State Rex Tillerson learned from the presidential Twitter feed that he was being fired, he did something that President Donald Trump had been unwilling to do. Following a phone call with his British counterpart, Tillerson condemned a deadly nerve agent attack in the U.K., saying that he had “full confidence in the U.K.’s investigation and its assessment that Russia was likely responsible.

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders had called the attack “reckless, indiscriminate, and irresponsible,” but stopped short of blaming Russia, leading numerous media outlets to speculate that Tillerson was fired for criticizing Russia.

    But in the months that followed his departure, press reports strongly suggested that the countries lobbying hardest for Tillerson’s removal were Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both of which were frustrated by Tillerson’s attempts to mediate and end their blockade of Qatar. One report in the New York Times even suggested that the UAE ambassador to Washington knew that Tillerson would be forced out three months before he was fired in March.

    The Intercept has learned of a previously unreported episode that stoked the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s anger at Tillerson and that may have played a key role in his removal. In the summer of 2017, several months before the Gulf allies started pushing for his ouster, Tillerson intervened to stop a secret Saudi-led, UAE-backed plan to invade and essentially conquer Qatar, according to one current member of the U.S. intelligence community and two former State Department officials, all of whom declined to be named, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

    In the days and weeks after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and closed down their land, sea, and air borders with the country, Tillerson made a series of phone calls urging Saudi officials not to take military action against the country. The flurry of calls in June 2017 has been reported, but State Department and press accounts at the time described them as part of a broad-strokes effort to resolve tensions in the Gulf, not as an attempt by Tillerson to avert a Saudi-led military operation.

    In the calls, Tillerson, who dealt extensively with the Qatari government as the CEO of Exxon Mobil, urged Saudi King Salman, then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir not to attack Qatar or otherwise escalate hostilities, the sources told The Intercept. Tillerson also encouraged Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to call his counterparts in Saudi Arabia to explain the dangers of such an invasion. Al Udeid Air Base near Doha, Qatar’s capital city, is the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command and home to some 10,000 American troops.

    Pressure from Tillerson caused Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the country, to back down, concerned that the invasion would damage Saudi Arabia’s long-term relationship with the U.S. But Tillerson’s intervention enraged Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and effective ruler of that country, according to the U.S. intelligence official and a source close to the Emirati royal family, who declined to be identified, citing concerns about his safety.

    Later that June, Mohammed bin Salman would be named crown prince, leapfrogging over his cousin to become next in line for the throne after his elderly father. His ascension signaled his growing influence over the kingdom’s affairs.

    Qatari intelligence agents working inside Saudi Arabia discovered the plan in the early summer of 2017, according to the U.S. intelligence official. Tillerson acted after the Qatari government notified him and the U.S. embassy in Doha. Several months later, intelligence reporting by the U.S. and U.K. confirmed the existence of the plan.

    The plan, which was largely devised by the Saudi and UAE crown princes and was likely some weeks away from being implemented, involved Saudi ground troops crossing the land border into Qatar, and, with military support from the UAE, advancing roughly 70 miles toward Doha. Circumventing the U.S. air base, Saudi forces would then seize the capital.


  • “National security” cited as reason Al Jazeera nixed Israel lobby film | The Electronic Intifada
    https://electronicintifada.net/content/national-security-cited-reason-al-jazeera-nixed-israel-lobby-film/24566

    Al Jazeera’s investigative documentary into the US Israel lobby was censored by Qatar over “national security” fears, The Electronic Intifada has learned.

    These include that broadcast of the film could add to pressure for the US to pull its massive Al Udeid air base out of the Gulf state, or make a Saudi military invasion more likely.

    A source has confirmed that broadcast of The Lobby – USA was indefinitely delayed as “a matter of national security” for Qatar. The source has been briefed by a high-level individual in Doha.

    One of the Israel lobby groups whose activities are revealed in the film has been mounting a campaign to convince the US to withdraw its military forces from Qatar – which leaders in the emirate would see as a major blow to their security.

    The tiny gas-rich monarchy houses and funds satellite channel Al Jazeera.

    In April, managers at the channel were forced to deny a claim by a right-wing American Zionist group that the program has been canceled altogether.

    In October 2017, the head of Al Jazeera’s investigative unit promised that the film would be aired “very soon.”

    Yet eight months later, it has yet to see the light of day.

    In March, The Electronic Intifada exclusively published the first concrete details of what is in the film.

    The film reportedly identifies a number of lobby groups as working directly with Israel to spy on American citizens using sophisticated data gathering techniques. The documentary is also said to cast light on covert efforts to smear and intimidate Americans seen as too critical of Israel.

    Some of the activity revealed in the film could include US organizations acting as front operations for Israel without registering as agents of a foreign state as required by US law.

    The latest revelation over the censored film shows how seriously Qatar’s leadership is taking threats of repercussions should it air.

    Threats
    The Israel lobby groups reported on in the film could be expected to take legal action against Al Jazeera if it is broadcast.

    However, such threats alone would be unlikely to deter Al Jazeera from broadcasting the film.

    The network has a history of vigorously defending its work and it was completely vindicated over complaints about a documentary aired in January 2017 that revealed how Israel lobby groups in Britain collude with the Israeli embassy, and how the embassy interfered in British politics.

    Israel’s supporters are also pushing for the US Congress to force the network, which has a large US operation, to register as a “foreign agent” in a similar fashion to Russian channel RT.

    But the high-level individual in Doha’s claim that the film is being censored as “a matter of national security” ties the affair to even more serious threats to Qatar and bolsters the conclusion that the censorship is being ordered at the highest level of the state.

    A year ago, with the support of US President Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed a transport and economic blockade on the country.

    Saudi rulers and their allies see Qatar as too independent of their influence and too open to relations with their regional rival Iran, and the blockade was an attempt to force it to heel.

    The Saudis and Israel accused Qatar of funding “terrorism,” and have taken measures to restrict Al Jazeera or demanded it be shut down altogether over what they perceive as the channel’s anti-Israel and anti-Saudi-monarchy biases.

    The blockade and the diplomatic assault sparked existential fears in Qatar that Saudi-led forces could go as far as to invade and install a more pliant regime in Doha.

    French newspaper Le Monde reported on Friday that the Saudi king has threatened “military action” against Qatar should it go ahead with a planned purchase of a Russian air defense missile system.

    In 2011, Saudi and Emirati forces intervened in Bahrain, another small Gulf nation, at the request of its ruling Khalifa monarchy in order to quell a popular uprising demanding democratic reforms.

    For three years, US and British-backed Saudi and Emirati forces have been waging a bloody and devastating war on Yemen to reimpose a Saudi-backed leadership on the country, clear evidence of their unprecedented readiness to directly use military force to impose their will.

    And no one in the region will have forgotten how quickly Iraqi forces were able to sweep in and take over Kuwait in August 1990.

    Air base
    The lesson of the Kuwait invasion for other small Gulf countries is that only the protection of the United States could guarantee their security from bigger neighbors.

    Qatar implemented that lesson by hosting the largest US military facility in the region, the massive Al Udeid air base.

    The Saudi-led bloc has pushed for the US to withdraw from the base and the Saudi foreign minister predicted that should the Americans pull out of Al Udeid, the regime in Doha would fall “in less than a week.”

    US warplanes operate from the Al Udeid air base near Doha, Qatar, October 2017. US Air Force Photo
    It would be a disaster from the perspective of Doha if the Israel lobby was to put its full weight behind a campaign to pull US forces out of Qatar.

    Earlier this year, an influential member of Congress and a former US defense secretary publicly discussed moving the US base out of Qatar at a conference hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

    FDD is a neoconservative Israel lobby group that happens to be one of the subjects of the undercover Al Jazeera film.

    As The Electronic Intifada revealed in March, FDD is one of the groups acting as an agent of the Israeli government even though it is not registered to do so.

    In July 2017, FDD’s Jonathan Schanzer testified to Congress that it would be an “insane arrangement” to keep US forces at the Al Udeid air base while Qatar continued to support “terror.”

    It will concentrate minds in Doha that FDD was one of the lobby groups most dedicated to destroying the international deal with Iran over its nuclear energy program, a goal effectively achieved when the Trump administration pulled out of it last month.

    In a sign of how vulnerable Qatar feels over the issue, Doha has announced plans to upgrade the Al Udeid base in the hope, as the US military newspaper Stars and Stripes put it, “that the strategic military hub will be counted as one of the Pentagon’s permanent overseas installations.”

    The final straw?
    The cornerstone of Qatar’s effort to win back favor in Washington has been to aggressively compete with its Gulf rivals for the affections of Israel and its Washington lobby.

    Their belief appears to be that this lobby is so influential that winning its support can result in favorable changes to US policy.

    Qatar’s charm offensive has included junkets to Doha for such high-profile Israel supporters as Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and Morton Klein, the head of the Zionist Organization of America who publicly took credit for convincing Qatar’s ruler Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to veto broadcast of the documentary.

    While an all-out Saudi invasion of Qatar over a film series may seem far fetched, the thinking in Doha seems to be that broadcast of The Lobby – USA could be the final straw that antagonizes Qatar’s enemies and exposes it to further danger – especially over Al Udeid.

    With an administration in Washington that is seen as impulsive and unpredictable – it has just launched a trade war against its biggest partners Canada and the European Union – leaders in Doha may see it as foolhardy to take any chances.

    If that is the reason Al Jazeera’s film has been suppressed it is not so much a measure of any real and imminent threat Qatar faces, but rather of how successfully the lobby has convinced Arab rulers, including in Doha, that their well-being and longevity rests on cooperating with, or at least not crossing, Israel and its backers.

    Asa Winstanley is associate editor and Ali Abunimah is executive director of The Electronic Intifada.

    Qatar Al Jazeera The Lobby—USA Al Udeid air base Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Donald Trump Jared Kushner Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Bahrain Iran Kuwait Foundation for the Defense of Democracies Jonathan Schanzer Morton Klein Alan Dershowitz Zionist Organization of America

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  • Bahrain revokes the nationality of a further 115 this month

    We are less than half way through 2018, but this year has already witnessed the highest number of individuals who have had their nationality withdrawn from them in Bahrain. It is difficult to track the exact numbers since, unfortunately, new cases are emerging all the time. However, towards the end of May, 226 people had been a victim of this measure, bringing the average to 45 nationality deprivations a month during 2018 - or more than one person a day. These latest cases have brought the total number of people affected to 732 since 2012. This echoes a growing trend in Bahrain, the Gulf, and more globally, of states withdrawing the nationality of individuals they perceive - or accuse of - being a threat to national security.

    Bahraini authorities have accused these individuals of militancy, in a series of mass trials, whilst rights activists say the majority are peaceful opposition members. Alongside having their nationality revoked, they also face other criminal punishments, 53 for were convicted of terrorism and faced life sentences. The vast majority of those stripped of citizenship do not possess any other nationality and have been left stateless.


  • The Gulf Impasse’s One Year Anniversary & the Changing Regional Dynamics – Gulf International Forum

    Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, Ph.D., Fellow for the Middle East, Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

    http://gulfif.com/the-gulf-impasse

    A year has passed since the Qatar News Agency was hacked and implanted with ‘fake news’. Ten days later this hacking was followed by the diplomatic and economic embargo of Qatar by four regional states – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Egypt. The element of surprise strategy applied by the Quartet was intended to shock the Qatari government into acceding to their demands. Now, one year later this approach is misplaced as Qatar proved more resilient than anticipated. Rather than isolating Qatar regionally and internationally, the crisis has widened the cracks in the Gulf into a chasm and has generated unintended consequences that risk inflicting generational damage on its political and social fabric. As with the Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait in 1990, the blockade of Qatar is an era-rupturing event that will reverberate through the regional politics and international relations of the Gulf for years to come.

    Evolving Threat Perceptions
    The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was formed in 1981 largely in response to regional security threats triggered by the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War in 1980. The six states that came together in Abu Dhabi to form the GCC often differed in their foreign policy outlook. The five smallest Gulf States shared varying degrees of wariness toward Saudi Arabia, reflecting in part a history of border disputes. For example, Kuwait was put under Saudi blockade in the 1920s and 1930s, Oman and Abu Dhabi had territorial disputes with Saudi Arabia from the 1950s to the 1970s, and as recently as 1992 and 1993 skirmishes occurred on the Saudi-Qatari border. Simmering unease in smaller Gulf capitals at the prospect of Saudi domination of GCC structures hampered attempts to construct collective military and security policies such as the Peninsula Shield Force or a common internal security agreement.

    And yet, throughout the three major wars in the Gulf – the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88), the Gulf War (1991), and the war and subsequent US-led occupation of Iraq (2003-11), the GCC remained a bastion of relative stability in a region gripped by conflict and insecurity. During this tumultuous period, all six GCC states retained a common threat perception enabling them to overcome instances of intra-GCC friction, such as Saudi and Emirati attempts to reverse the 1995 succession of Qatar’s Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani or the Emirati walkout from the planned GCC monetary union in 2010 after Riyadh was chosen over Abu Dhabi as the site of the prospective GCC central bank. Indeed, GCC states have always worked best together in the face of external threats that draw together the six ruling families’ common interest in political survival – evidenced by the decision in 2011 to revive and dispatch the Peninsula Shield Force to Bahrain to assist in the restoration of order and the creation of a $10 billion GCC fund to assist Bahrain and Oman in the wake of Arab Spring unrest.


  • How WikiLeaks cables paint UAE motive for Qatar blockade

    Cables show UAE ’warned’ US about Qatar long before crisis began, motives weren’t only driven by security concerns.
    Andrew Chappelle by Andrew Chappelle

    Al Jazeera
    https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/wikileaks-cables-paint-uae-motive-qatar-blockade-180524174346824.html

    As Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt started their campaign to isolate Qatar on June 5, 2017, accusing it of aiding “terrorism” and being too close to Iran, the messaging used by the Arab quartet struck a familiar tone.

    The blockade against Qatar, now nearing the one-year mark, is often referred to as Saudi-led, but the language used by the “Arab quartet” has been consistent with private statements attributed to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (also known as MBZ), as revealed in diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks in 2010 and 2011.

    A review of this trove - which included secret communications from the US embassy in Abu Dhabi between 2004 and 2010, recapping dozens of meetings with top UAE officials - suggests that the UAE has been a driving force behind the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood (the Brotherhood), and shows the UAE issued a series of stark warnings to US officials about Qatar and Al Jazeera well before the blockade began.

    The cables include direct quotes from MBZ on topics he has not discussed in public, providing additional context to the changing political dynamics in the Gulf. The language attributed to him in the cables suggests the UAE’s motives for the blockade are not exclusively driven by security concerns involving Qatar, but also a desire to quash dissent at home.

    To date, MBZ has not delivered a single public statement about the current Gulf crisis, leaving his brother, Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed (or ABZ) and other surrogates, to speak for the government.


  • From Qatar’s blockade, a bold, unexpected new vision is emerging | World news | The Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/06/qatar-blockade-unexpected-new-vision-isolation

    For most of the past year the city-state of Qatar, the wealthiest peninsula on the planet, has been exploring the law of unintended consequences. The trigger for that came last June, when Qatar’s closest neighbours, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE, escalated a simmering disquiet about the Gulf state’s role in the region to implement a full land and air blockade.

    Overnight, planes and cargo ships heading for Qatar were diverted, all diplomatic links were cut and Qatar’s sole land border, with Saudi Arabia, was closed. Even camels were not spared the politics – 12,000 Qatari animals were forcibly repatriated.

    #qatar



  • Saudi-Qatar Feud Hits New Low as Saudis Plan Nuclear Dump on Border.
    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/saudi-qatar-feud-hits-new-low-as-saudis-plan-nuclear-dump-on-border-1.59896

    Saudi Arabia could consider a proposal to dig a maritime canal along the kingdom’s border with Qatar, turning the peninsula-nation into an island and transforming its only land border into a military zone and nuclear waste site, state-linked Saudi newspapers reported Monday.

    The project has not been given official approval and faces many obstacles. Still, the proposal signals a new low in the 10-month-old feud between Qatar and a quartet of nations that includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain.

    The four accuse Qatar of sponsoring terrorism because of its support for Islamist opposition groups in the region and its warm relations with Iran. Qatar denies the allegations and says the moves attempt to undermine its sovereignty.

    Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, met in Washington on Monday with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. He is scheduled to meet President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

    Saudi Arabia’s Sabq and al-Riyadh newspapers carried nearly identical reports Monday saying that under the proposal, Saudi Arabia would transform part of its side of the border with Qatar into a military base and another area would become a dump site for waste from nuclear reactors the kingdom wants to build. The UAE, meanwhile, would also build a nuclear waste site at the closest point near its border with Qatar.


  • UK opens permanent military base in Bahrain
    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-uk-bahrain/uk-opens-permanent-military-base-in-bahrain-idUKKCN1HC2NR

    The United Kingdom opened a permanent military base in Bahrain on Thursday, Bahrain’s state news agency BNA reported.

    The ceremony formally opening the UK Naval Support Facility was attended by Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and Britain’s Prince Andrew.

    Britain announced in 2014 it had sealed a deal to expand and reinforce its naval presence in Bahrain, allowing it to operate more and bigger ships in the Gulf.

    The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is also based in Bahrain.


  • Bahrain strikes biggest oilfield since 1932, dwarfing current reser...
    https://diasp.eu/p/6958749

    Bahrain strikes biggest oilfield since 1932, dwarfing current reserves

    Source: South China Morning Post [Hong Kong]

    “Bahrain has discovered its biggest oilfield in more than 80 years. The ‘highly significant’ oil and deep gas resource is thought to dwarf the Gulf kingdom’s current reserves, according to an official announcement on Sunday. It is located in the Khaleej al-Bahrain basin, located off the country’s west coast.” (04/02/18)

    http://www.scmp.com/news/world/middle-east/article/2139899/bahrain-strikes-biggest-oilfield-1932-dwarfing-current

    #bahrain #oil Originally posted at: http://rationalreview.com/archives/292169