Showing posts with label Saudis and Terror. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Saudis and Terror. Show all posts

November 22, 2019

Australia is Holding A Couple of Gay Journalists From Saudi Arabia who Outed Them and Went After Them

Two gay Saudi journalists, who claim they were outed in retaliation for contacts one of them had with a foreign media outlet, have been detained in Australia after requesting asylum.
LGBT advocates are calling upon the Australian government to release the two men, who fled Saudi Arabia after realizing they were being targeted by the regime of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
NBC News reported that the men arrived in Australia more than a month ago. After they picked up their luggage, customs authorities inspected their bags and phones and asked them if they intended to seek asylum. When they said yes, they were taken to a detention center where they have mostly been held since, one of the journalists and his attorney, Alison Battisson, said.
The men, who were not named, have been together for 16 years.
Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia and punishable by death.
Just Equal spokesman Brian Greig said in a November 17 news release that since the men's arrival they have been interrogated by authorities, intimidated by the guards, and threatened with violence by other detainees.
"It is unacceptable that LGBTI people escaping threats and detention overseas are then confronted with that here," Greig said in the release.
One of the men told the Guardian that they ran from the Saudis after being imprisoned and threatened with trumped-up charges of leaking negative stories about the regime, only to re-experience a similar situation in Australia.
One of the men, who worked with many foreign reporters in his position at the ministry of media and often defended the regime in the international press, denied the Saudi regime's charges.
The Saudi government cracked down on dissidents in 2018. The men claim they are not dissidents and said the government became suspicious of any journalists' contacts with other reporters who were critical of the regime.
The Guardian reported that one man was targeted by the ministry after a foreign media crew obtained and smuggled incriminating documents of the regime's mistreatment of journalists out of the country in 2018.
Purportedly, the intention was to pass the documents along to Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was slain at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year.
Prior to escaping their home country, the two men told the newspaper that they "lived a comfortable life of relative wealth and privilege in Riyadh."
"Australia must be a safe refuge for people fleeing persecution, including anti-LGBTI hate and violence," Greig said.
"This must also include a fair, efficient, and unbiased process for dealing with claims of asylum on the basis of sexuality," he added.

Rights group urges Ugandan authorities to stop harassment

Human Rights Watch has urged Ugandan officials to stop harassing and torturing LGBT Ugandans and to drop all charges against the LGBT community members who were caught up in two recent raids.
"Ugandan police are stooping to new lows in their persecution of people for being LGBT," said Neela Ghoshal, senior LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, in a November 19 news release from the organization.
Joan Amek, who was arrested during a raid on the Ram bar, told HRW, "After the drug accusations failed, they accused us of being idle. But there is no crime, they just need something to pin on people."
Sexual Minorities Uganda Executive Director Frank Mugisha accused police of "trumped-up charges" against the bar's patrons. Voice of America reported that he said the raid was an intimidation tactic targeting Uganda's LGBT community.
"Ugandan police should be protecting people, not violating their rights because of their presumed sexuality or gender identity," said Ghoshal.
On November 10, Ugandan police rounded up an estimated 120 people during an early Monday morning raid on the gay-friendly bar in Kampala.
Police charged 67 of the people arrested with "public nuisance" and violating the Tobacco Control Act 2015, which prohibits smoking opium and shisha. Police released 53 people after dropping all charges against them, according to SMUG. 
The people still detained are being held at a maximum-security prison in the suburb of Luzira. They could face up to a year in jail if sentenced, the group's lawyer Patricia Kimera told Reuters.
A person identified only as Sonia, who was one of the bar patrons arrested, recounted to Gay Nation that the police swarmed the bar and ordered everyone to sit down.
She asked a police officer what people were doing that was wrong.
"I got slapped for it," she said, stating that the officers slapped some of her friends for asking the same question. Some officers were reportedly using homophobic slurs during the arrest.
The bar patrons were later put into police trucks and taken to the central police station. They still hadn't been informed of what they had done wrong, Sonia said.
Another individual also arrested during the raid on the bar and identified as Judy added that many people's lives are forever changed because family members "don't want anything to do with them." Some nearly lost their jobs.
They "don't think they have a life to come back to," she said. "I and my friends can't even have decent sleep because our minds can't rest."
The raid was the sixth reported attack on LGBT gatherings in Uganda since 2012. On October, 16 Ugandan workers were arrested at the office of queer youth empowerment organization Let's Walk Uganda. The workers were charged with homosexuality and forced to undergo anal examinations.
The raids on LGBT venues in Uganda coincides with a particularly violent year of attacks on the community — including a false threat to revive the so-called Kill the Gays Bill — and brutal murders of some LGBT people.

January 2, 2019

Saudi Arabia Balks at An Episode of Comedian Hasan Minhaj Netflix Drops It

                                 Image result for hasan minhaj and saudi arabia

Last fall, the world watched as Saudi Arabia's official story about the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi changed, and changed again. A series of contradictory claims and denials came even as evidence emerged that Khashoggi's killing had been ordered by the country's crown prince.

Many people were angry, and that included the American comedian Hasan Minhaj, who blasted the Saudi government on his Netflix news-comedy show Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj.

"This is the most unbelievable cover story since Blake Shelton won the sexiest man alive," Minhaj joked to his audience.

But the Saudi government isn't laughing.

Last week, it had Netflix remove the episode in that country. As the Financial Times first reported, a Saudi regulator cited a law that prohibits the "production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers."

Comic Hasan Minhaj On Roasting Trump And Growing Up A 'Third Culture Kid'

Comic Hasan Minhaj On Roasting Trump And Growing Up A 'Third Culture Kid'
In a statement to NPR, a Netflix spokesperson said, "We strongly support artistic freedom and removed this episode only in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal request — and to comply with local law."

The episode was also posted to the show's YouTube page, which is reportedly still accessible inside Saudi Arabia. Google, which owns YouTube, didn't immediately respond to questions about whether it had also heard from the Saudi government.

In the episode, Minhaj called Saudi Arabia's actions a "cover-up" and went on to question the deep financial and political ties between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, the country's involvement in Yemen and crackdowns on women's rights advocates.  
In an interview with The Atlantic about his show, Minhaj said he and his family discussed the potential repercussions of his criticism of the Saudi government, and that he now has fears about his own safety.
News of Netflix's decision was met with some criticism, including from the Washington Post's global opinions editor, Karen Attiah, who called it "quite outrageous."
This isn't the first time Netflix has removed episodes of a show at the request of a foreign government. According to a Netflix spokesperson, Singapore objected to three Netflix shows — Disjointed, Cooking on High and The Legend of 420 — because they have positive portrayals of drug use which is highly restricted in the country.

December 18, 2018

Canada Wants Out From Arms Deal with The Saudis

The British are grinching and hopping Theresa May might be convince to sell more to the Arabs, PM Justin Tradeau is not playing politics here but seems to be going by his consience. It used to be the unwritten law that the US knew what it was doing with the Arabs and if they were going to sell to them then why not Canada. No one thought the price of the friends of the US are paying for doing what they always did, pay ear to the US. Those times are gone!  AdamG 


OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking in an interview that aired on Sunday, said for the first time that his Liberal government was looking for a way out of a multibillion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

The comments represented a notable hardening in tone from Trudeau, who previously said there would be huge penalties for scrapping the $13 billion agreement for armored vehicles made by the Canadian unit of General Dynamics Corp. 

Last month, Trudeau said Canada could freeze the relevant export permits if it concluded the weapons had been misused.

“We are engaged with the export permits to try and see if there is a way of no longer exporting these vehicles to Saudi Arabia,” Trudeau told CTV. He did not give further details.

Political opponents, citing the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the Yemen war, insist Trudeau should end the General Dynamics deal, which was negotiated by the previous Conservative government.

Relations between Ottawa and Riyadh have been tense since a diplomatic dispute over human rights earlier this year. Ottawa says it has been consulting allies on what steps to take after Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

“The murder of a journalist is absolutely unacceptable and that’s why Canada from the very beginning had been demanding answers and solutions on that,” said Trudeau.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Cooney
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

October 28, 2018

Britain Knew Saudi Arabia's Planned to Get to Khashoggi (Because of What He Knew) 3 Wks Before

MURDERED journalist Jamal Khashoggi was about to disclose details of Saudi Arabia’s use of chemical weapons in Yemen, sources close to him said last night. The revelations come as separate intelligence sources disclosed that Britain had first been made aware of a plot a full three weeks before he walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

intercepts by GCHQ of internal communications by the kingdom’s General Intelligence Directorate revealed orders by a “member of the royal circle” to abduct the troublesome journalist and take him back to Saudi Arabia.
The orders, intelligence sources say, did not emanate directly from de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and it is not known if he was aware of them.
Though they commanded that Khashoggi should be abducted and taken back to Riyadh, they “left the door open” for other actions should the journalist prove to be troublesome, sources said.
Last week Saudi Arabia’s Attorney General confirmed that the murder had been premeditated  - in contrast to initial official explanations that Khashoggi had been killed after a fight broke out. he suspects in the incident had committed their act with a premeditated intention,” he said.
“The Public Prosecution continues its investigations with the accused in the light of what it has received and the results of its investigations to reach facts and complete the course of justice.”
Those suspects are within a 15-strong hit squad sent to Turkey and include serving members of GID.
Speaking last night the intelligence source told the Sunday Express: “We were initially made aware that something was going in the first week of September, around three weeks before Mr. Khashoggi walked into the consulate on October 2, though it took more time for other details to emerge. 
“These details included primary orders to capture Mr. Khashoggi and bring him back to Saudi Arabia for questioning. However, the door seemed to be left open for alternative remedies to what was seen as a big problem.
“We know the orders came from a member of the royal circle but have no direct information to link them to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
"Whether this meant he was not the original issuer we cannot say.”

October 18, 2018

Tough Talking Secretary Pompeo Looking for Answers? With a Smile and a Grin!

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has cast himself as a tough, straight-talking former Army tank commander with the moral clarity necessary to confront the world’s bad guys. But on his quick trip to Saudi Arabia, where he sat smiling with royal leaders suspected of involvement in the disappearance of a dissident Saudi journalist, he hardly seemed the image of moral clarity or toughness.
As he was leaving Riyadh, the Saudi capital, on Wednesday, Mr. Pompeo was asked if Saudi officials had told him whether the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was alive or dead.
“I don’t want to talk about any of the facts,” Mr. Pompeo said dismissively. “They didn’t want to either.”
That set off an immediate maelstrom of criticism against the Trump administration’s chief diplomat.
“The pictures of Pompeo grinning, smiling and laughing with the crown prince — as if a journalist wasn’t just murdered — are remarkable,” Shadi Hamid, a scholar of Middle East policy at the Brookings Institution, wrote on Twitter.
“Not only is it bad policy; it’s downright embarrassing,” Mr. Hamid said. “It makes Pompeo look like an unserious pushover. It’s really indefensible on any grounds.”
A former American ambassador to the United Nations added to the criticism.
“The fact that Saudis ‘didn’t want to’ talk about the facts is to be expected,” said Samantha Power, who served in the Obama administration. “The fact that the representative of the United States didn’t want to talk about the facts is a travesty.”
Hours later, on his way back to the United States, Mr. Pompeo addressed the criticism that he had failed to hold the Saudis to account. He said he wanted “to give them the space to complete their investigations of this incident.”
“It’s reasonable to give them a handful of days more to complete it so they get it right, so that it’s thorough and complete,” Mr. Pompeo said after a brief stop in Turkey, where Mr. Khashoggi entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 and had not been seen since.
“That’s what they’ve indicated they need,” Mr. Pompeo said, “and then we’ll get to see it. We’ll evaluate this on a factual, straight-up basis.”
He said the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia was important for strategic and financial reasons.
“I do think it’s important that everyone keep in their mind that we have lots of important relationships — financial relationships between U.S. and Saudi companies, governmental relationships, things we work on together all across the world,” Mr. Pompeo said.
Mr. Pompeo spent just over a day in Riyadh, where news video footage showed him nodding and smiling as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke. It was a very different image than the cut-to-the-chase congressman who had blisteringly questioned Hillary Clinton about the 2012 attack on a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, becoming a conservatives’ hero.
“His instructions are clearly to preserve the U.S.-Saudi relationship at all costs,” said Wendy Sherman, a former top State Department official. “So his nonverbal cues and his remarks are intended to do that.”

But, she said, “he could have taken off the grin, dispensed with small talk, said facts were important and the U.S. was committed to get them and ended in a better place.”
After Riyadh, Mr. Pompeo flew to Ankara for meetings with Turkey’s president and foreign minister, whose government leaked a gruesome audio recording, purportedly of Mr. Khashoggi’s killing and dismemberment by Saudi agents.
A State Department spokeswoman said on Wednesday that Mr. Pompeo had not heard the tape. Top Saudi officials, including Prince Mohammed and King Salman, have repeatedly denied any role in Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance.
At the White House, President Trump said he would “have a long talk” with Mr. Pompeo about what he learned in Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
“He spent a lot of time with the crown prince, and he’s going to have a full report,” Mr. Trump said.
He also offered that “Saudi Arabia has been a very important ally of ours in the Middle East. We are stopping Iran.” 
But the mounting evidence of Saudi perfidy has confronted the Trump administration with a grave foreign policy crisis. Saudi Arabia is a crucial partner in the administration’s efforts to isolate Iran and maintain security for Israel — all while keeping gas prices low.
It has also damaged the delicate balancing act Mr. Pompeo had sought to strike as a straight-talking top diplomat in an administration infamous for its alternative facts. And it comes just as Mr. Pompeo seemed to be hitting his stride.
R. Nicholas Burns, the third-ranking official at the State Department in the George W. Bush administration, described Mr. Pompeo as “a serious and tough-minded person,” who was right to travel to Saudi Arabia, given the crisis.
“But we have more important interests at stake,” Mr. Burns said. “We can’t afford to have a business-as-usual attitude. This is a time to be stern with M.B.S., to disavow his government’s crime and to sanction Saudi Arabia. Our credibility as a democracy is at stake,” he added, using an acronym for the prince.
Mr. Burns said the United States was obviously trying to retain influence with Riyadh given the range of shared issues — Iran, Israel and energy among them.
The case of Mr. Khashoggi complicates all of that since Riyadh — a crucial partner in the effort to confront Iran — now no longer appears to offer a positive contrast with Tehran. Saudi Arabia also has overseen a war in Yemen that has become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, imprisoned activists and led a blockade against Qatar.
Other analysts noted the bind in which Mr. Trump had put Mr. Pompeo when the president ordered his top diplomat to go to Saudi Arabia.
“Secretary Pompeo was put in an almost impossible situation from the outset: traveling to meet with people suspected of having ordered a political assassination at the request of a president determined to sweep the affair under the rug,” said Rob Malley, president of the International Crisis Group and a senior National Security Council adviser on Middle East issues during the Obama administration.
But, Mr. Malley said, Mr. Pompeo “made the situation even worse by taking on the task with apparent bonhomie and good humor, which hardly seems the optimal way to convey seriousness or demand genuine accountability.”

Saudi Arabia Delivers $100 Million Pledge to US As Pompeo Lands in Riyadh..What is the Money for? Timing?

I was just wondering..What would be the commision the Trump's will get off $100 Million. Trump is not supposed to get anything but his family (which is the reason a family should not be involved in business transactions that involve anyone high up in the government). The Trump's have ignored that as they ignore the law. Most of it they don't know but they don't care about learning from their lawyers. Again supposed it was a 15% comm= $15 million dollars. My point on this is that Trump will not do anything to Saudi Arabia when they finally come out with the truth or Turkey comes out with proof and the Saudis play dumb.

No matter how much The Senator from South Carolina might jump up and down, which he has become good at it and sheds his rainbow plumage, he has less power with Trump that he thinks. He sold his firing powder with the vote of the Supreme Court. His gun is got no more bullets and the personal gun is been empy of gun powder for a long time! Hope he zips that big mouth of his and "boos himself."   🦊Adam

Image result for pompeo with the king in saudi
 Pompeo and the Powerful Crown Prince business friend of Jarred Kushner

This summer, Saudi Arabia promised the Trump administration $100 million for American efforts to stabilize areas in Syria liberated from the Islamic State.
That money landed in American accounts on Tuesday, the same day that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, for discussions with the kingdom’s leaders about the fate of a missing Saudi dissident.
Securing the funding is a win for President Trump, who has complained about how much the United States spends abroad and has tried to get allies to foot more of the bill. But the timing of the money’s arrival raised eyebrows even among some of the bureaucrats whose programs will benefit from the influx of cash.
“The timing of this is no coincidence,” said an American official involved in Syria policy who spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to speak to journalists. The official confirmed that the money arrived on Tuesday.
The disappearance of the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, has battered the image of Saudi Arabia and of its powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, a key player in many of the Trump administration’s ambitions for the Middle East. Turkish officials say that Mr. Khashoggi was slain inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by Saudi agents on Oct. 2 while he was trying to secure a document he needed to get married.
Saudi leaders have denied harming Mr. Khashoggi, but have not provided a credible explanation of what happened to him.
Mr. Trump threatened “severe punishment” if it was confirmed that Saudi Arabia killed Mr. Khashoggi. But after speaking with King Salman of Saudi Arabia on Monday, he suggested that “rogue killers” could have been responsible and dispatched Mr. Pompeo to Riyadh to see the Saudi king.
In his strongest language to date over the mystery surrounding the missing journalist, Mr. Trump said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday: “Here we go again with you’re guilty until proven innocent.”
On Monday, a person with knowledge of Saudi Arabia’s plans said the kingdom was planning to blame the killing on rogue elements who did not act on official orders — a scenario that could allow the monarchy to acknowledge Mr. Khashoggi’s death while protecting its leaders from culpability.
An endorsement of that conclusion by the Trump administration could help limit damage to Saudi Arabia’s international reputation.
Brett McGurk, the United States envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State, dismissed the idea that Mr. Pompeo’s visit and the disbursement of funds were connected. The Saudis had committed the money in August, he said, and the United States had expected to receive it in the fall.
“The specific transfer of funds has been long in the process and has nothing to do with other events or the secretary’s visit,” Mr. McGurk said.
But the official involved in Syria policy said the payment process had been unpredictable.
The money was pledged in August but it was unclear when it would show up, if at all until it suddenly landed in American accounts on Tuesday.
Since he took office, Mr. Trump has been trying to limit the role of the United States in Syria, where a seven-year war has shattered the country, killed hundreds of thousands of people and left entire cities in ruins.
He has spoken positively about the idea of withdrawing the approximately 2,000 American soldiers who are based in eastern Syria in areas once controlled by the Islamic State, although he now appears committed to leaving them there. In August, his administration decided not to spent $230 million that had already been earmarked for stabilization programs in that area.
The Saudi money, in addition to another $50 million given by the United Arab Emirates, will allow American programs there to continue, but on other countries’ tabs.
The funds will be used by USAID and the State Department for a variety of programs, including infrastructure repairs and provision of health, education and sanitation services

April 17, 2016

Our Allies the Saudis Threatens the US with a Securities Sell Off

Per a New York Times report, Saudi Arabia has warned the Obama administration that it will sell of as much as $750 billion in U.S. treasury securities if congress passes a bill legally stating the Saudi government was responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001.
Below is a visualization showing the top foreign holders of United States securities.

October 22, 2015

The Atrocities of The House of Saud (Saudi Arabia)

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, a prisoner in Saudi Arabia who was sentenced to death as a minor, faces "death by crucifixion" after a final appeal has been dismissed. He was arrested in 2012 when he was just 17, during a crackdown on anti-government protests in the Shiite province of Qatif. According to the International Business Times, Al-Nimr was accused by the authorities of participation in illegal protests and of firearms offences, despite there being no evidence to justify the latter charge.


  • Ali Mohammed Al-Nimr, arrested in Saudi Arabia at the age of seventeen, has been sentenced to beheading and crucifixion.
  • Last week, two Saudi human rights activists were sentenced to jail for illegally establishing a human rights organization, questioning the credibility and objectivity of the judiciary, interfering with the Saudi Human Rights Commission (one can imagine what that is like), and describing Saudi Arabia as a police state.
  • Karl Andree, a 74-year-old British grandfather and a UK citizen who has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for the last year, is due to receive 350 lashes for unpardonable crime of being caught with some homemade wine.
  • British Justice Minister Michael Gove has now reportedly insisted that the UK could not possibly enter into a contract to train Saudi prison guards.
  • The naïve Western leaders are those who expect our countries to carry on with "business as usual" with a regime that sentences our citizens to flogging, and that beheads and crucifies political dissidents.
  • The naïve politicians are those who think the publics of the West do not know what a human rights sewer Saudi Arabia is, or think that we will put up with it. If that were ever the case, that time is over.
Is international opinion on Saudi Arabia finally shifting? For years, one of the great embarrassments and contradictions of Western diplomacy has been the intimacy of the West's relationship with the House of Saud. Of course, both Britain and America have some responsibility for installing and then maintaining the Saudi royal family in their position. Were it not for this circumstance, in addition to the world’s largest oil reserves, the people we now call the Saudi royal family would be neither richer nor any more famous than any other group of goat-herders in the region.

For decades now, the Saudi royal family has been a continuing embarrassment for the civilized world. Their brand of extreme Wahhabi Islam is not only -- against some very stiff competition -- one of the worst interpretations of the Islamic faith. It is the basis of a religious and judicial system that they have not been content to keep within their borders, but rather regard as such a success that they have sponsored it around the world, while promoting violence abroad to keep it from exploding at home.

From the mosques of North Africa to the schools of Europe, these abusive and retrograde Wahhabi teachings can be found everywhere. Ten years ago, the Saudi-sponsored King Fahad Academy in West London was found to be using Saudi Ministry of Education textbooks that, among much else, taught their young students that Christians and Jews are apes and monkeys. But even while such teachings have been pushed into our countries, they have been swallowed by Western leaders. The possibility that whatever regime follows the House of Saud in Arabia could be even worse could have been one reason for this, at least in recent years. Another reason, probably much more likely, was the simple desire for a slice of the desert kingdom's cash. So, even while Saudi Arabia practices and exports a brand of Islam essentially indistinguishable from that of ISIS, the alliance has gone on. Until now.

In March of this year, Sweden's Foreign Minister, Margot Wallstrom, spoke out against Saudi Arabia's brutalizing repression of 50% of its population: women. She also objected to the Saudi regime's sentencing of blogger Raif Badawi to a thousand lashes for the crime of writing a mild blog regarding the wish for a bit more speech. The sentence was, said Wallstrom, "medieval" and a "cruel attempt to silence modern forms of expression."
The Saudi propaganda regime promptly attacked the Swedish minister for "unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of Saudi Arabia." The Saudi propaganda machine has had to issue similar statements quite a lot as of late, most recently when worldwide attention finally focussed in the past few weeks on the case of Ali Mohammed Al-Nimr, arrested at the age of seventeen, who has been sentenced to beheading and crucifixion. The international uproar that this unspeakable sentence has finally triggered suggests that the House of Saud may — in the media Information Age -- not only have overstretched itself, but come to the end of a road.

This past week, another two Saudi human rights activists — Abdelrahman Al-Hamid and Abdelaziz Al-Sinedi -- were sentenced to jail for, among other similar charges, illegally establishing a human rights organization, questioning the credibility and objectivity of the judiciary, interfering with the Saudi Human Rights Commission (one can imagine what that is like), and describing Saudi Arabia as a police state.

These cases are, finally, being noticed in a significant way, and being picked up in mainstream newspapers and media outlets. Now, there is a British case that has caught international attention. In recent days, Karl Andree, a 74-year-old grandfather and British citizen, who has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for the last year, is due to receive 350 lashes after being found guilty of the unpardonable crime of being caught with some homemade wine.

As his family back home in Britain have said in an appeal to Prime Minister David Cameron, it is likely that this sentence will kill Mr. Andree, who has already been weakened by cancer.
British citizen Karl Andree, a 74-year-old grandfather and cancer survivor, has been in a Saudi Arabian prison for the last year and is due to receive 350 lashes -- all for the crime of possessing homemade wine.
It is significant that cases such as this, of routine Saudi barbarism, are finally causing a reaction. The UK and Saudi Arabia had agreed on a contract worth £5.9 million (USD $9.1 million) for the UK to train Saudi prison guards, but in recent days the UK government withdrew from this contract. The cause was a cabinet discussion in which the new British Justice Minister, Michael Gove, reportedly insisted that the UK could not possibly have such an agreement with Saudi Arabia. The two specific cases he is said to have highlighted were the case of Mr Andree and the case of Ali Mohammed Al-Nimr.

The Foreign Secretary is alleged to have disagreed with Mr. Gove, describing his views as "naïve." But the Justice Minister, appropriately enough, prevailed. It is not Michael Gove, of course, who is naïve. The naïve Western leaders are those who expect our countries to carry on with “business as usual" with a regime that sentences our citizens -- or anyone -- to flogging, and that beheads and crucifies political dissidents.

The days of the secret awfulness of Saudi Arabia are long over. Now the routine abuses and atrocities of Saudi Arabia are rapidly moving from the blogosphere to the newspapers to the tables of cabinet with an unstoppable momentum. The naïve politicians are the ones who think the publics of the West do not know what a human rights sewer Saudi Arabia is, or think that, while knowing this, we in the West will all sit back and put up with it. If there were ever a time when this was the case, that time is over.

    April 23, 2015

    US Pressure Brings The Saudis To Stop The Slaughter in Yemen


    (OBOCK, Djibouti) — Saudi Arabia said Tuesday that it was halting a nearly month-old bombing campaign against a rebel group in neighboring Yemen that has touched off a devastating humanitarian crisis and threatened to ignite a broader regional conflict.

    The announcement followed what American officials said was pressure applied by the Obama administration for the Saudis and other Sunni Arab nations to end the airstrikes. The bombing campaign, which has received logistical and intelligence support from the United States, has drawn intense criticism for causing civilian deaths and for appearing to be detached from a broad military strategy. 

    Open Source: Sighs of Relief From Yemen, Mixed With Fears of More Conflict

    Yemeni bloggers expressed relief that the Saudi-led air campaign had finally come to an end, tempered by concern that the conflict was far from over.APRIL 21, 2015
    A Yemeni man checked a house in Sana after a bombing that killed at least 25 people. Sana has been bombed almost daily for more than three weeks, damaging factories, gas stations and residential neighborhoods.
    Credit Mohammed Huwais/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
    At Least 25 Die as Airstrike Sets Off Huge Blast in YemenAPRIL 20, 2015
    The aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, as well as a guided missile cruiser, was sent to join other American ships off the Yemeni coast in an effort to discourage Iran's support of Houthi rebels.
    Credit United States Navy, via Reuters
    Warning Iran, U.S. Sends Two More Ships to Yemen APRIL 20, 2015
    A Saudi Defense Ministry statement quoted by the country’s news agencies said that the campaign, called Operation Decisive Storm, had achieved its objectives. But it was unclear exactly how much the airstrikes had advanced Saudi Arabia’s stated goal of helping restore a Yemeni government that collapsed many weeks ago as Houthi rebels took over the country’s capital, Sana. Analysts said the announcement could possibly clear the way for a different type of military intervention.
    The Crisis in Yemen: What You Need to Know

    Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, is embroiled in a struggle for power that has serious implications for the region and the security of the United States.

    Weeks of fighting in Yemen, which was already suffering from the absence of any central authority, have left nearly a thousand people dead and provided an opening for Al Qaeda’s branch there to expand its territory. The conflict further threatened to entangle the United States and Iran in a potential military confrontation, just as they are about to continue difficult and delicate negotiations that they hope will result in a final nuclear agreement by the end of June.

    In an interview Tuesday night, President Obama said he was optimistic that the crisis in Yemen could be settled. “That’s always been a fractious country with a lot of problems,” he told Chris Matthews of MSNBC. “There are a lot of people inside Yemen suffering. What we need to do is bring all the parties together and find a political arrangement.”

    The Saudis have long accused the Houthis, whose leaders adhere to a variant of Shiite Islam, of serving as an Iranian proxy. The Obama administration warned in recent days that Iran might be trying to arm the Houthis and moved on Monday to deploy a strengthened armada of warships off Yemen’s coast as a deterrent.
    The exact role that Iran has played, however, is far from clear. Although Yemeni officials and Western diplomats have said there is evidence that Iran has given arms and other support to the Houthis over the past several years, they caution that the rebel group is anything but a puppet of Tehran and that the Houthis’ actions have stemmed from their dealings with Yemeni factions and their own domestic agenda.

    Secretary of State John Kerry has spoken to the Saudi government repeatedly over the past several days, and John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director, visited the Saudi capital, Riyadh. A senior American official said Tuesday that there had been a number of discussions in recent days among American, Saudi and United Arab Emirates officials about ending the bombing campaign.
    Asked why, the American official said, “Too much collateral damage.” The United Arab Emirates was one of several Arab nations that joined the Saudi-led campaign.

    The Saudis announced the suspension of the bombings just hours after a top Iranian official said he expected a cease-fire to be declared.

    “We are optimistic that in the coming hours, after many efforts, we will see a halt to military attacks in Yemen,” the official, the deputy foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, said, according to Iranian news agencies.
    Yemenis on a bridge in Ibb that was reportedly hit in an airstrike that targeted Houthi rebels but is said to have killed civilians. Credit European Pressphoto Agency
    It was not immediately clear whether the Saudi and Iranian announcements were public evidence of back-channel negotiating, or whether the Saudi halt to the bombing would lead to peace talks among the antagonists in Yemen. A senior Houthi political leader, responding to rumors of a possible political deal, said late Tuesday that no agreement had been reached.

    The aerial attacks began March 26 and were announced in a rare news conference in Washington by Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

    “We will do whatever it takes to protect the legitimate government of Yemen,” Mr. Jubeir said at the time.

    Saudi Arabia has said that the coalition was justified in its campaign to stop the advance of the Houthi militia, based in northern Yemen, which routed the Saudi-backed government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, now in exile. Critics of the Saudi offensive called it a perilous overreaction, based on the false premise that the Houthis were taking their orders from Iran.

    The Houthis’ most significant alliance is local, most analysts say, with members of Yemen’s armed forces loyal to the country’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

    But the airstrikes paralyzed Yemen, the Middle East’s poorest country, and left hundreds of people dead and thousands wounded and homeless. Saudi Arabia had come under growing international pressure to halt the bombings, which hit civilian targets with a regularity that human rights groups said could amount to war crimes.

    The deadliest attacks included a strike that killed dozens at a camp for displaced Yemenis and others that struck a dairy factory, killing at least 31 workers on the night shift. On Monday, a Saudi airstrike near an air defense base in the capital caused an enormous explosion that flattened homes in a nearby neighborhood and left at least 25 people dead. 

    Officials at the World Health Organization in Geneva said Tuesday that Yemen’s health services had collapsed. They said the cumulative death toll in Yemen since the fighting escalated last month was at least 944, with nearly 3,500 wounded. Many thousands more have been displaced from their homes.

    There have also been questions about what the military coalition could accomplish with airstrikes alone.

    The official Saudi Press Agency, quoting a Defense Ministry statement, said the airstrikes had “successfully managed to thwart the threat on the security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries through destruction of the heavy weapons and ballistic missiles seized by the Houthi militias and troops loyal to (Ali Abdullah Saleh), including bases and camps of the Yemeni army.”
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    The announcement on Tuesday held out the possibility of a political deal and speedy relief for Yemen’s cities, and especially Sana, which has endured airstrikes almost daily. But it seemed just as likely that the Saudi declaration, with its vague threat of new military action, could usher in another phase of combat, analysts said. In one possibility, the Saudis could continue their intervention by other means, including an increase in their support of proxies fighting the Houthis and their allies — a tactic the Saudis have favored in the past.

    There was no indication that the Houthis and their allies had retreated from any of the territory they had captured, including Sana and areas farther south, like parts of Aden, a port that has been ravaged by fighting over the past few weeks.

    “No one has been seriously weakened,” said a diplomat who once served in Yemen and asked for anonymity to discuss a country’s possible motives. The Saudis “will take a break from bombing Sana, but they will carry on.”

    In the absence of a settlement, the Saudi decision provided little comfort to Yemenis who had fled cities like Aden, where there were still clashes on Tuesday, according to local residents.

    The halt in the airstrikes is “good for the rest of Yemen,” said Ahmed Kulaib, 30, a resident of Aden who fled the city and lives in a refugee camp in Djibouti.

    But fighters in Aden resisting the Houthis, he added, are still facing “heavy work.”

    Kareem Fahim reported from Obock, and Mark Mazzetti from Washington. Reporting was contributed by Eric Schmitt and Michael D. Shear from Washington, Rick Gladstone from New York and Mohammed Ali Kalfood from Sana, Yemen

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