“At a session of the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review — where a selection of member states have their performance on human rights assessed — Norway’s record came under the microscope. The conspicuous critics at this Geneva meeting? Russia and Saudi Arabia, members of the United Nations’ 47-nation Human Rights Council and well-known paragons of global norms and freedoms, of course.
Representatives from Saudi Arabia accused Norway of endangering the religious rights of Muslims in the country. …………… Saudi Arabia, of course, is notorious for its draconian laws that, among other harsh measures, ban women from driving, curb the religious expression of non-Muslim non-Wahhabi minorities…..…….”
I must have been away to
another planet. Now, coming back to Earth, I find that Saudi
Arabia is angry at Norway for lack of religious tolerance and freedom. During
my absence on that other faraway planet the Wahhabi kingdom must have allowed
the establishment of churches and temples and synagogues. The religious police
must have stopped raiding private homes and arresting people for decorating
their own private Christmas trees. They must have stopped crucifying and
beheading people for apostasy. Freedom of speech and religion must have become
enshrined in constitutional amendments within a Saudi Wahhabi Bill of Rights.
Wait a minute, there is no Saudi constitution……….
It is the Universal Law of Petroleum that drives all this Saudi drivel. As for Mr. Putin, that former
KGB man could not give a fig about religion…….
“Oklahoma prison officials halted an inmate’s execution on Tuesday after a new drug combination left the man writhing and clenching his teeth on the gurney. He later died of a heart attack. Clayton Lockett, 38, was declared unconscious 10 minutes after the first of three drugs in the state’s new lethal injection combination was administered. Three minutes later, though, he began breathing heavily, writhing, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow. The blinds were eventually lowered to prevent those in the viewing gallery from watching what was happening in the death chamber, and the state’s top prison official eventually called a halt to the proceedings. Lockett died of a heart attack ……………”
This is like concentration camp stuff. Experimenting with new drugs to kill convicts……
“The world will face terrible consequences over many years to come for failing to intervene in Syria, Tony Blair has said. The former prime minister, who serves as the envoy for the Middle East quartet of the UN, US, EU and Russia, said the failure to confront President Bashar al-Assad would have ramifications far beyond the region. Speaking on the Today programme on Radio 4 on Monday, he said: “We have not intervened in Syria. The consequences are, in my view, terrible and will be a huge problem not just for the Middle East region, but for us in the years to come”………….The former PM, who acknowledged that many people did not want a repeat of the Iraq invasion elsewhere in the world, launched a strong defence of his decision to remove Saddam Hussein in 2003………………Blair said he did not know when the Chilcot inquiry would publish its report into the Iraq war…………..”
Blair now seems to believe he has fully busted out of the prison of his own making. But he has a long way to go to emulate Bill Clinton and get fully rehabilitated. He just doesn’t have that Arkansas je ne sais quoi: he is not nearly as good a bullshit artist as Clinton is, nobody is.
Tony has of late been talking about “political Islam” and its dangers. He is reflecting this new Saudi-UAE-Egyptian-Sisi line of painting the Muslim Brotherhood as ‘terrorist’. Mr. Cameron has also been edging in the same direction in Britain, trying to ingratiate himself with the oil princes and potentates (actually pandering to them).
About Iraq and WMD, Tony might have added, like old Sergeant Schultz would have: “I know nothing, nothing”.
“Syria’s opposition fighters have been supplied with U.S.-made antitank missiles, the first time a major American weapons system has appeared in rebel hands. It is unclear how the rebels obtained the wire-guided missiles, which are capable of penetrating heavy armor and fortifications and are standard in the U.S. military arsenal. The United States has sold them in the past to Turkey, among other countries, and the Pentagon approved the sale of 15,000 of the weapons to Saudi Arabia in December. Both countries aid Syrian opposition groups. U.S. officials declined to discuss the origin of the weapons but did not dispute that the rebels have them…………”
You have two and a half guesses as to the source of these anti-Tank missiles (TOWs) in Syria. The two full guesses would be about the indirect sources; that would be Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Either one is a very likely the source, or both, although the U.S. arms deals stipulate against the resale to third parties. As to the ‘half source’, that would be the country of manufacture, either directly or, more likely, indirectly on a limited restricted trial-balloon basis.
Still, it is not as bad as supplying anti-aircraft missiles. If that happens, you can only imagine the nightmare scenario for airliners along the eastern Mediterranean.
An Egyptian daily newspaper quotes a high government official that Saudi Arabia has postponed delivery of any new aid to Egypt until after the results of the coming presidential elections are ‘known’. The official is quoted that a ‘huge’ financial aid package will be announced after the victory of Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi is assured (just in case there is any doubt about the kind of election they are staging in Egypt). This new aid is promised to surpass all previous aid packages to Egypt………
The Saudis are sending a clear message: the princes will put money into Egypt as long as the Egyptian people are obedient and elect the ‘Saudi’ choice for president. This is quite a bold shift: it is a public downgrading of Egypt’s status and a new Wahhabi chain around the Egyptian neck. Gamal Abdel Nasser is probably having another heart attack wherever he is now. Even Anwar Sadat and King Farouk are shaking in the grave. Even under Mr. Mubarak the Saudis did not so openly and boldly interfere in the fake elections he held every few years.
The official did not explain what guarantees Egyptian voters will have that the Saudi aid will be forthcoming
if when Sisi wins. When asked if the Egyptians can dump Sisi if the Saudi money is not up to what was promised the official may have smirked and said: “They can try, but we can’t guarantee anything”.
Sisi, for his part, has been trying on his coming role as president. He is going around wearing a civilian suite and talking to himself in the mirror, repeating “yes we can, yes I can”. Yet what would he do in the improbable and impossible case that he loses and pigs start flying? Will he continue wearing the suit? Will he show up at the barracks wearing military garb and order a new military coup? Will they obey him? The answer is: yes, yes, yes. Which in Spanish would be Si Si Si.
“A court in southern Egypt on Monday decreed a mass death sentence for nearly 700 people, including the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement of Egypt’s ousted Islamist president. On the same day, another Egyptian court banned the April 6 movement, which was among the primary engines behind the landmark 2011 uprising against President Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt’s sharp turn toward authoritarianism in the nearly 10 months since an interim government took power has provoked expressions of concern from human rights groups and Western governments, but little in the way of meaningful punitive actions against the military-backed regime………………”
The best scenario, an optimistic scenario, in this impending Egyptian butchery is that it is just a political show. They are setting the stage for a great show of mercy by the new dictator. The Kangaroo courts continue their job, preparing the way for a new dictator for life in Cairo. He, Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi will probably show “restraint” and “mercy” after pleas from allies and suppliers in the West. He will likely show calculated moderation by commuting most of these hundreds, thousands by then, of death sentences to life in prison. All these people, including tens of thousands awaiting trial, will end up in prison for life simply because they exercised their right of protest.
world will be relieved for it, and it will applaud this military justice that it would not accept in the West. But that will be okay: these are only Arabs and in some places life can be cheap and freedom might be overrated.
Watched a morning CNN show. They had two U.S. senators, a Democrat from the Northeast and a Republican from the West. Senator Barrasso of Wyoming is a former doctor and seems like a reasonable man. No doubt he is. Yet he kept doing a common (but stupid) senatorial thing: he kept making assertions that simply are not supported by any facts. He kept saying things like “Syria is an enemy of the United States”. Now calling some country “an enemy” has big implications and should not be used cavalierly as many U.S. senators do, especially when the senator is not up for reelection.
started me wondering: how do you define “an enemy”? Which raised a few questions as I tried to figure out an appropriate definition:
- When was the last time Syria was at war with the United States (the traditional ‘official’ definition of ‘an enemy’)?
- When was the last time Syria attacked the United States?
- When was the last time the United States attacked Syria?
- When was the last time Syria took American hostages?
- When was the last time Syria arrested any American?
- When was the last time Syria was caught sending spies into the United States? (It does, but less than the Chinese).
- When was the last time any Syrian who is not a Wahhabi committed violence against American personnel or property?
- When was the last time Syria said that Mr. Obama’s days are numbered? (Even though in this case the days are numbered and well-known).
The immediate tempting conclusion is that an “enemy” to the U.S. Senate and Congress is someone who disagrees with U.S. government policy. But no, that is not quite correct, not in all cases. Mr. Netanyahu disagrees vigorously with United States policy in the Middle East, yet he is a hero to the U.S. Senate and Congress. Mr. Al Assad also disagrees vigorously with United States policy in the Middle East, and he is considered an enemy (and a skunk to boot).
According to the Kuwait daily Al Qabas Brigadier General Qassem Suleimani has been a master at multitasking over the past few years. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard chief of the Quds Force is reported everywhere from Basrah to Damascus to Cairo. He is quoted extensively in Gulf and Western media, although he has never talked to any of them:
- Last year when the Muslim Brotherhood were ruling Egypt the newspaper claimed that they sought help from Iran’s Brigadier Suleimani. Morsi was president in Egypt at the time and Al Qabas claimed in a bizarre story that Qassem Suleimani had met a senior Egyptian (Muslim Brotherhood) leader at a famous Cairo hotel. It did not claim they met at a hotel bar over drinks. But where else?
- Now we all know Morsi was as sectarian as anyone else in Cairo, as sectarian as any of his former Salafi allies who betrayed him last July. No doubt the purpose of the leak was to discredit the local Muslim Brotherhood (both Kuwaiti and Gulf) and perhaps influence events in Egypt.
- Now the same newspaper, which represents the interests of traditional business oligarchs in Kuwait, has a new gem which it claims is based on Saudi and Gulf intelligence sources (as suspect in my book as Iranian and Syrian and Israeli or any other intelligence when it comes to disinformation). Mr. Suleimani is also in the illegal drug business.
- They report that Qassem Suleimani is now also in charge of a network that prepares and smuggles drugs into the Persian Gulf states. The daily claims that the ‘raw drugs’ are originally shipped through Iraq (according to Saudi and Gulf GCC intelligence agencies) to Syria and Lebanon where they are processed (not clear where the raw materials come from into Iran). Then the final products are presumably shipped from Lebanon all the way to Bandar Abbas, an Iranian port on the Gulf. A hell of a long way to ship drugs, several thousand kilometers through the Suez Canal (or maybe the longer route around Africa?). Why not process the drugs in Iran, or even Iraq, instead of shipping them all the way to Lebanon to be shipped back to the Gulf by sea? Somebody is very stupid here, either the Iranians or the writer for Al Qabas. I pick the Al Qabas writer for the prize.
- Al Qabas also claims that Suleimani runs the drug operation from Southern Iraq, where he is also managing a campaign to get another term for Nouri Al Maliki as prime minister of Iraq. Imagine that.
- Now that is true multitasking. Notice how all the countries involved are the “usual suspects”: all either Shi’a majority or plurality or members of a certain camp? I mean Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria?That must be a coincidence, no?
- Al Qabas did not say, however, that Qassem Suleimani is also in charge of the Iranian nuclear program and operates execution squads, as well as the Amsterdam Red Light District and the Mexican Drug Cartels (all based on Saudi and Gulf intelligence source). Not yet. But maybe some Saudi prince would hire him to run their family campaign to become king after their next election.
- All this can be true, of course. Anything is possible these days and not only on paper. But I am not buying it.
Egyptian media report that Shaikh Doctor Mohammed Mukhtar Gom’a, Egyptian minister of Islamic Awqaf seems excited about the new prize won by the Saudi King Abdullah. He has congratulated his Majesty King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, Servant of the Two Holy Shrines, for winning the Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahayan Prize and being picked as the Cultural Personality of our Universe, via Abu Dhabi.
The minister, was fresh from a visit to an event in Paris about Mecca. He is quoted that he has personally told French president Francois Hollande, in Paris, that Egypt shall continue on the road to cultural exchange and that Egypt fully supports the Saudi war on the triple threats of terrorism, democracy, and free speech. No doubt M. Hollande was ecstatic to hear that, perhaps he was inspired, and who knows what he did after that: after all, he is in Paris which is neither Cairo nor Riyadh. If you get my drift.
The Shaikh Doctor said his position is reciprocation for the strong Saudi support for Egypt in all international forums and fora and wherever else the wise king deems appropriate. (He did not, however, add that his position would be different otherwise).
Shaikh Doctor Gom’a did not mention if he ever met and exchanged views on culture, terrorism, and weapons deals with the top French first ladies of recent times: Segolyne Royal, Valerie Trierweiler, or Julie Gayet.
I almost forgot to mention the real biggie (politically speaking): Marine Le Pen…….
“ABU DHABI – Award honours King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud for his pioneering role in promoting peaceful co-existence, religious tolerance and cross-cultural dialogue and numerous achievements over decades’. The Sheikh Zayed Book Award announced today that His Majesty, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Ruler of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is named the Cultural Personality of the year 2014 in the Award’s eighth session. The grand announcement was made in a press conference held at the Emirates Palace, in the presence of H.E. Mohammad Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Advisor for Cultural & Heritage Affairs at the Court of HH Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and member of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award Board of Trustees… …………..”
- “For his pioneering role in promoting peaceful co-existence”. Like when he urged, for peaceful purposes, the U.S. administration to start a war on Iran (and cut the head of the snake: Wikileaks). Also his military intervention in Bahrain is a model of peaceful neighborly goodwill: it may have preempted a nuclear war (but don’t ask me how).
- “For his pioneering role in promoting religious tolerance and cross-cultural dialogue”. It is true that he sends his hairy religious police to raid homes and confiscate Christmas trees and crosses and throw the perpetrators in prison. It is also true that he does not allow any other houses of worship for anyone else, be they Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Vegetarian, Mormon, Republican, Muslim Brothers, or Jewish (not even the former citizens of Yathrib-Madinah are allowed to rebuild their synagogues). But, in all fairness, he did/does allow Oprah and the View and Donald Trump to be openly seen in the kingdom, which is more than we can say for the grim mullahs in Iran.
- “He is a man of culture”. Of course he is, otherwise how could he get such a prized prize?…………..