Saudi Arabia

Canada’s $15 Billion Saudi Arms Deal: What History Tells Us

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is a “matter of principle” that Canada follows through with a $15 billion armaments deal with Saudi Arabia, a totalitarian state which funds international terrorism, stones women to death for the crime of being raped, and that leads the world in public beheadings. This decision has been sharply criticized by journalists, activists, and international organizations. In a public statement Amnesty International said that it has “good reason to fear that light armored vehicles supplied” to Saudi Arabia by Canada “are likely to be used in situations that would violate human rights” in both “neighboring countries” and for ‘suppressing demonstrations and unrest within Saudi Arabia.” Montreal students and a former Bloc Quebecois MP and law professor have filed a class action lawsuit to block the deal, citing that by selling weapons to countries with poor human rights records Canada is violating its own laws.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, in response to criticism about how these weapons will be used, replied that Canada has undertaken similar deals with Saudi Arabia, and that country “has not misused the equipment to violate human rights” according to the government’s “best, and regularly updated, information.” This is an outright lie.

In 2011 more than a hundred thousand protestors participated in an uprising against the undemocratic monarchy in Bahrain, calling for “political reforms, right of political participation, respect for human rights, stopping of systematic discrimination against Shias.” The regime responded by banning all demonstrations, caging villages in barbed wire, firing live ammunition at doctors that tried to help injured protestors in hospitals, torturing some protestors to death in police custody, and calling in the military of Saudi Arabia. 1, 000 Saudi troops crossed into Bahrain in armored vehicles not unlike those sold to Saudi Arabia by Canada throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. The Canadian government has neither confirmed nor denied that Canadian armored vehicles were used to suppress pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain.

In Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies have been at war with the country’s Houthi rebels, the U.N. has accused Saudi Arabia of war crimes. The Saudi-led coalition’s war against the poorest Arab country has caused the deaths of more than 8, 000, displaced millions, and destroyed nearly all of the country’s schools, hospitals, and historical heritage. Hundreds of thousands of children are at risk of starvation due to the violence and the Saudi-led coalition’s naval blockade in a bid to starve the country into submission. Based on photos of Saudi ground forces in Yemen, the armored vehicles being used by the Saudi military bore a striking resemblance to those manufactured in Canada, while a retired Canadian general, speaking anonymously to the Globe and Mail, identified the armored vehicles as having been manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems, the same company manufacturing the armaments in the latest $15 billion deal.

An arms deal with Saudi Arabia raises serious questions about the role of Canada in the international community. Critics of the deal have said that if Canada follows through with selling arms to Saudi Arabia “we can kiss Canada’s human rights credibility goodbye.” But such criticism presupposes that Canada has a credible human rights record. “Canada,” writes BJ Siekierski, “hasn’t suddenly been transformed from Boy Scout to arms merchant.” The history of Canada, both domestically and internationally, isn’t a history of a country dedicated to the defense of democracy and human rights, it is a history of an imperialist state built on the theft of Aboriginal land that faithfully serves as a junior partner to U.S. imperialism’s war of exploitation and subjugation of the world.

Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald, was an ally of the most racist section of the elite of that time. In the House of Commons he was in favor of a system of legalized racism, claiming Europeans and Chinese were different species, introducing “biological racism as a defining characteristic of Canadianness.” While starving thousands of Aboriginal people to death by withholding food, MacDonald argued that the disenfranchisement of the Chinese people was imperative to protect the “the Aryan character of the future of British America.” Liberal Prime Minister Mackenzie King wrote in his diary that after meeting Adolf Hitler he believed Hitler “might come to be thought of as one of the saviors of the world.” Trudeau, like his father before him, is an avowed supporter of apartheid regimes. The late Pierre Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s father, “sympathized with the [South African] apartheid regime not the black liberation movement or nascent Canadian solidarity groups,” while one of the first acts of the Justin Trudeau Liberals was to pass a Conservative motion to condemn all Canadians who exercise their democratic right to support the non-violent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement as a form of resistance to Israeli apartheid.

Let us not forget the ongoing genocide of Aboriginal people in Canada. For more than a century Aboriginal children were taken away, sometimes at gunpoint and in handcuffs, to be shipped off to residential schools, where they were to learn how to “assimilate” and become “civilized” through a system for forced labour and re-education. The “Residential Schools were predicated on the notion that Indigenous children were less human than other children, so they were worked like animals in the slave labour many schools mandated.” Thousands of children died from malnourishment, disease, physical and sexual abuse, with many buried in unmarked graves near the site of the schools. To this day Aboriginal people are more likely to be born into poverty, are less likely to graduate from high school, and have a shorter life expectancy than non-Aboriginal people.

Internationally Canadian foreign policy has been reflective of the country’s imperialist system of exploitation. Canada was among the 14 imperialist states that invaded the Soviet Union in 1918 in an effort to bolster the forces of the anti-Bolshevik White Army and stop the Russian working class from establishing socialist government. More recently the Canadian military has been involved in Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Mali, Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. In Somalia, where Canadian troops were participating in the U.N. mission, Canadian ‘peacekeepers’ tortured and murdered a 16-year-old boy. In a sociopathic ritual that has repeatedly been documented wherever Western forces are active, these Canadian ‘peacekeepers’ photographed themselves with boy’s bloodied corpse like he was a trophy kill. In Libya, a country that prior to the NATO-led intervention had the highest standard of living in Africa, the Canadian military supported al-Qaeda-linked Islamist terrorists that ransacked the country’s wealth, brutally murdering the country’s former leader Muammar al-Gaddafi by sodomizing him with a bayonet.

Nine years before Canada’s invasion of the Soviet Union trains “loaded not only with supplies, rifles, and ammunition, but also with machine guns and light artillery pieces” were dispatched to Cape Breton in preparation for the military occupation of the island, where miners and steelworkers were striking for improved working conditions and higher wages. Such violence and disdain for the working class has been repeated throughout Canadian history. During the “Hungry Thirties,” striking miners in Estevan, Saskatchewan were murdered in cold blood by the RCMP, while the unemployed were rounded up and sent to labour in slave-like conditions in relief camps.

The deal to sell armaments to Saudi Arabia must be opposed on all moral and political grounds, but to be able to effectively oppose such a deal, the deal must be put into the historical context of Canada’s role as a junior partner of U.S.-led imperialism.

Logistics 101: Where Does ISIS Get Its Guns?

Since ancient times an army required significant logistical support to carry out any kind of sustained military campaign. In ancient Rome, an extensive network of roads was constructed to facilitate not only trade, but to allow Roman legions to move quickly to where they were needed, and for the supplies needed to sustain military operations to follow them in turn.

In the late 1700′s French general, expert strategist, and leader Napoleon Bonaparte would note that, “an army marches on its stomach,” referring to the extensive logistical network required to keep an army fed, and therefore able to maintain its fighting capacity. For the French, their inability to maintain a steady supply train to its forces fighting in Russia, and the Russians’ decision to burn their own land and infrastructure to deny it from the invading forces, ultimately defeated the French.

Nazi Germany would suffer a similar fate when it too overextended its logical capabilities during its invasion of Russia amid Operation Barbarossa. Once again, invading armies became stranded without limited resources before being either cut off and annihilated or forced to retreat.

And in modern times during the Gulf War in the 1990′s an extended supply line trailing invading US forces coupled with an anticipated clash with the bulk of Saddam Hussein’s army halted what was otherwise a lighting advance many mistakenly believed could have reached Baghdad had there been the political will. The will to conquer was there, the logistics to implement it wasn’t.

The lessons of history however clear they may be, appear to be entirely lost on an either supremely ignorant or incredibly deceitful troupe of policymakers and news agencies across the West.

ISIS’ Supply Lines

The current conflict consuming the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria where the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) is operating and simultaneously fighting and defeating the forces of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran, we are told, is built upon a logistical network based on black market oil and ransom payments.

The fighting capacity of ISIS is that of a nation-state. It controls vast swaths of territory straddling both Syria and Iraq and not only is able to militarily defend and expand from this territory, but possesses the resources to occupy it, including the resources to administer the populations subjugated within it.

For military analysts, especially former members of Western armed forces, as well as members of the Western media who remember the convoys of trucks required for the invasions of Iraq in the 1990s and again in 2003, they surely must wonder where ISIS’ trucks are today. After all, if the resources to maintain the fighting capacity exhibited by ISIS were available within Syrian and Iraqi territory alone, then certainly Syrian and Iraqi forces would also posses an equal or greater fighting capacity but they simply do not.

And were ISIS’ supply lines solely confined within Syrian and Iraqi territory, then surely both Syrian and Iraqi forces would utilize their one advantage – air power – to cut front line ISIS fighters from the source of their supplies. But this is not happening and there is a good reason why.

ISIS’ supply lines run precisely where Syrian and Iraqi air power cannot go. To the north and into NATO-member Turkey, and to the southwest into US allies Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Beyond these borders exists a logistical network that spans a region including both Eastern Europe and North Africa.

Terrorists and weapons left over from NATO’s intervention in Libya in 2011 were promptly sent to Turkey and then onto Syria – coordinated by US State Department officials and intelligence agencies in Benghazi – a terrorist hotbed for decades.

The London Telegraph would report in their 2013 article, “CIA ‘running arms smuggling team in Benghazi when consulate was attacked’,” that:

[CNN] said that a CIA team was working in an annex near the consulate on a project to supply missiles from Libyan armouries to Syrian rebels.

Weapons have also come from Eastern Europe, with the New York Times reporting in 2013 in their article, “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.,” that:

From offices at secret locations, American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia, and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive, according to American officials speaking on the condition of anonymity.

And while Western media sources continuously refer to ISIS and other factions operating under the banner of Al Qaeda as “rebels” or “moderates,” it is clear that if billions of dollars in weapons were truly going to “moderates,” they, not ISIS would be dominating the battlefield.

Recent revelations have revealed that as early as 2012 the United States Department of Defense not only anticipated the creation of a “Salafist Principality” straddling Syria and Iraq precisely where ISIS now exists, it welcomed it eagerly and contributed to the circumstances required to bring it about.

Just How Extensive Are ISIS’ Supply Lines? 

While many across the West play willfully ignorant as to where ISIS truly gets their supplies from in order to maintain its impressive fighting capacity, some journalists have traveled to the region and have video taped and reported on the endless convoys of trucks supplying the terrorist army.

Were these trucks traveling to and from factories in seized ISIS territory deep within Syrian and Iraqi territory? No. They were traveling from deep within Turkey, crossing the Syrian border with absolute impunity, and headed on their way with the implicit protection of nearby Turkish military forces. Attempts by Syria to attack these convoys and the terrorists flowing in with them have been met by Turkish air defenses.

Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) published the first video report from a major Western media outlet illustrating that ISIS is supplied not by “black market oil” or “hostage ransoms” but billions of dollars worth of supplies carried into Syria across NATO member Turkey’s borders via hundreds of trucks a day.

The report titled, “‘IS’ supply channels through Turkey,” confirms what has been reported by geopolitical analysts since at least as early as 2011 – that ISIS subsides on immense, multi-national state sponsorship, including, obviously, Turkey itself.

Looking at maps of ISIS-held territory and reading action reports of its offensive maneuvers throughout the region and even beyond, one might imagine hundreds of trucks a day would be required to maintain this level of fighting capacity. One could imagine similar convoys crossing into Iraq from Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Similar convoys are likely passing into Syria from Jordan.

In all, considering the realities of logistics and their timeless importance to military campaigns throughout human history, there is no other plausible explanation to ISIS’s ability to wage war within Syria and Iraq besides immense resources being channeled to it from abroad.

If an army marches on its stomach, and ISIS’ stomachs are full of NATO and Persian Gulf State supplies, ISIS will continue to march long and hard. The key to breaking the back of ISIS, is breaking the back of its supply lines. To do that however, and precisely why the conflict has dragged on for so long, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and others would have to eventually secure the borders and force ISIS to fight within Turkish, Jordanian, and Saudi territory – a difficult scenario to implement as nations like Turkey have created defacto buffer zones within Syrian territory which would require a direct military confrontation with Turkey itself to eliminate.

With Iran joining the fray with an alleged deployment of thousands of troops to bolster Syrian military operations, overwhelming principles of deterrence may prevent Turkey enforcing its buffer zones.

What we are currently left with is NATO literally holding the region hostage with the prospect of a catastrophic regional war in a bid to defend and perpetuate the carnage perpetrated by ISIS within Syria, fully underwritten by an immense logistical network streaming out of NATO territory itself.

Source: http://www.globalresearch.ca/logistics-101-where-does-isis-get-its-guns/5454726

Image Source: http://www.globalresearch.ca/turkey-supports-isis-now-declares-war-against-isis-but-instead-bombs-its-political-rival-which-is-the-most-effective-force-fighting-isis/5466169

Say No to War – Welcome Syrian Refugees!

Statement by the Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada, Nov. 29, 2015

Just weeks after the most racist and reactionary government in recent Canadian history suffered a major defeat at the polls, far-right forces are making a brazen attempt to use tragic events in other countries to press the new Liberal government to adopt the discredited right-wing agenda of the Harper Tories. This right-wing drive must be blocked by united and powerful resistance by the labour and democratic movements, bringing together all those who want a future based on economic and social justice, human rights, and world peace.

The imperialist drive towards increased militarization and war on a global scale is an intrinsic feature of capitalist development in general. In turn, it inevitably has a negative impact upon domestic politics, including a pattern of “selective attention”. Events such as the bombings in Beirut, Ankara and other cities, the US military’s massacre at a civilian hospital in Afghanistan, the Saudi aggression in Yemen, or the Ukraine government’s shelling of civilians, are downplayed or ignored in the West. However, the shocking Nov. 13 attack in Paris quickly became the focus of a hypocritical attempt to whip up fear and hatred against refugees and immigrants.

In Canada, the most immediate feature of this xenophobic campaign has been a conscious and deliberate attempt to smear Muslims and members of racialized communities as the alleged source of terrorist threats, crime, and economic problems. This campaign has been fanned by far-right, racist elements in the United States, such as Donald Trump and other Republican presidential candidates who call for fascist measures such as surveillance and registering of Muslim people in a database, removal of citizenship rights, and even the mass incarceration and expulsion of racialized communities. Similar racist voices emerged from the shadows during the recent federal election to support the Tories in their attempt to bar refugees from war-torn areas of the Middle East, central Asia and Africa, and then to fight the new Liberal government’s plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada.

These forces have adopted the rhetoric used by racist movements in Europe, such as the lie that refugees and immigrants aim to use their higher birth rate to “swamp” Canada’s supposedly “white Christian” values. Earlier in the election, they demonized Islamic women who choose to wear the niqab, in an attempt to claim that they support women’s equality – equality rights which in reality were systematically attacked and undermined for a decade by the Harper Tories. The most cowardly and despicable elements among these racists torch mosques under cover of darkness and assault Muslim women and children in the streets. Politicians such as Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall openly spread lies and misinformation, claiming that bringing Syrian refugees to Canada will lead to a dramatic escalation of terrorist recruiting. These forces condemn the Liberal government’s plan to end Canadian participation in bombing of targets in Syria and Iraq, and demand an immediate escalation of military force and a major increase in the military budget.

All of these efforts are connected to a wider corporate push to further erode labour, civil and democratic rights in the name of “protecting” Canadians. The political and physical attacks against Muslim-Canadians are part of a long-standing drive to intimidate and silence all those who reject the agenda of austerity, poverty, environmental destruction, corporate trade sellouts, and war.

The Communist Party of Canada joins with all other progressive people in condemning every form of terrorism, including both the imperialist wars and occupations of the US, Canada and other NATO countries, and those committed by fundamentalist movements such as Daesh and al-Qaeda. At the same time, we stress once again that these dangerous forces have gained strength in large part because of the state terrorism, interventions and exploitation of the Middle East, central Asia and Africa by the imperialist powers and their regional ally, Israel. Many of the terrorist attacks in recent years have been carried out by forces which were in fact spawned and supported by the US and its NATO allies, the root source of mass terror and destruction on our planet today.

Both the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front and ISIS (or “Daesh”) – the main forces attempting to overthrow the Assad government in Syria – have long been financed and armed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, with the direct knowledge and support of Washington. Our Party condemns the imperialist-orchestrated campaign to impose ‘regime change’ on Syria, the real cause of the conflict which has virtually destroyed the country and driven millions from their homes as refugees. The downing of a Russian jet by Turkey, under highly dubious circumstances, has further heightened tensions, and could provoke a wider regional and even global war.

The Communist Party calls for an immediate cessation of all foreign military, political and economic interference and aggression in both Syria and neighbouring Iraq, not an expansion of foreign military operations under the pretext of a “war on ISIS”. We express our solidarity with the Syrian people struggling to defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity, and favour negotiations to end the ‘civil’ war as determined by the Syrian people themselves, without outside involvement, interference, or ‘dictat’. The crisis needs a political solution that has the elected government of Bahsar al-Assad at the table. This is the only path to de-escalate the war tensions in the region, and to end the humanitarian tragedy that has afflicted its peoples.

We also call for full solidarity with the Syrian refugees coming to Canada, and for restoration and adequate funding of the services they desperately need, including housing, language training, legal aid, social assistance and much more. Instead of expanding the Canadian Armed Forces, we demand a complete end to the Syria/Iraq mission, and a 75% reduction in military spending, which would provide $15 billion annually for social programs, housing and infrastructure projects in this country.

Finally, we demand swift action against the racist groups and individuals which are engaged in violence against the Muslim community. These criminal elements must not be allowed to conduct their campaign of racist terror under cover of sympathy for the victims of the Paris attacks.

Source: People’s Voice

Image Source: https://stepfeed.com/more-categories/big-news/are-europeans-finding-their-conscience-on-the-syrian-refugee-crisis/#.VocWi0I72jI

Yemeni Forces Kill More Blackwater Mercenaries

The Yemeni army and popular forces killed several other Saudi-hired Blackwater militias in an attack on a military base in the province of Ta’iz.
A sum of 4 Blackwater mercenaries, including two British, an American and a South African paramilitary troops, were killed in an attack on their military base in Zobab region in Ta’iz province, the Arabic-language media outlets reported.

“The Yemeni attack killed former British navy commander George William Castle, former British special forces officer Mark Judd Hart, American national Eshaq Bikark and South African national Alfred Banoushka,” the Arabic-language Al-Masira news channel quoted an unnamed military source as saying on Wednesday.

The town of Zobab is located 40 kilometers to the North of Bab al-Mandeb and is of strategic importance.

Many more Blackwater mercenaries have been killed in the Yemeni attacks in recent weeks.

On December 9, 14 Blackwater mercenaries, including a British, a French, an Australian and six Colombians were killed in an attack on Al-Amri military base in Zobab region in Ta’iz province near the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.

After pulling out its troops from Yemen, the UAE recruited and sent Colombian forces to Yemen to replace its regular troops.

Yemeni Army Spokesman Sharaf Luqman has said that the Blackwater forces dispatched to Yemen comprise Al-Nusra, the ISIL and Al-Qaeda terrorists.

The UAE had previously sent mercenaries from Latin America, specially Colombia, to Yemen without prior coordination with Saudi Arabia.

The United Arab Emirates has quietly built an army of Latin American mercenaries to fight for Yemen’s deposed government in a proxy war.

In a program launched by Blackwater founder Erik Prince and now run by the Emirati military, the force of 450 Latin American troops – mostly made up of Colombian fighters, but also including Chileans, Panamanians and Salvadorans – adds a new and surprising element to the already chaotic mix of forces from foreign governments, armed tribes, terrorist networks and Yemeni militias that are currently embroiled in the Middle Eastern nation, Fox News reported.

It seems there are also going to be hundreds of other foreign mercenaries — Sudanese and Eritrean soldiers — brought into Yemen.

Source: http://blogfactory.co.uk/archives/21248

The Article on Saudi Arabia that Al-Jazeera Blocked

Reports emerged last week that Saudi Arabia intends to imminently execute more than 50 people on a single day for alleged terrorist crimes.

Although the kingdom hasn’t officially confirmed the reports, the evidence is building. Okas, the first outlet to publish the report, has close ties to the Saudi Ministry of Interior and would not have published the story without obtaining government consent. Some of the prisoners slated for execution were likewise recently subject to an unscheduled medical exam, a sign that many believe portends imminent execution. There has already been a spike in capital punishment in Saudi Arabia this year, with at least 151 executions, compared with 90 for all of 2014.

The cases of six Shia activists from Awamiya, a largely Shia town in the oil-rich Eastern province, are particularly disconcerting. The majority of Saudi’s minority Shia population is concentrated in the Eastern province and has long faced government persecution. The six activists were convicted for protesting this mistreatment and other related crimes amid the Arab uprisings in 2011. Three of them were arrested when they were juveniles. Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shia religious leader who was convicted of similar charges, also faces imminent execution.

All the convictions were obtained through unfair trials marred by human and civil rights violations, including in some cases torture, forced confessions and lack of access to counsel. Each defendant was tried before the Specialized Criminal Court, a counterterrorism tribunal controlled by the Ministry of Interior that has few procedural safeguards and is often used to persecute political dissidents. Lawyers are generally prohibited from counseling their clients during interrogation and have limited participatory rights at trial. Prosecutors aren’t even required to disclose the charges and relevant evidence to defendants.

The problems aren’t just procedural. Saudi law criminalizes dissent and the expression of fundamental civil rights. Under an anti-terrorism law passed in 2014, for example, individuals may be executed for vague acts such as participating in or inciting protests, “contact or correspondence with any groups … or individuals hostile to the kingdom” or “calling for atheist thought.”

One of the defendants, Ali al-Nimr, was convicted of crimes such as “breaking allegiance with the ruler” and “going out to a number of marches, demonstrations and gathering against the state and repeating some chants against the state.” For these offenses, he has been sentenced to beheading and crucifixion, with his beheaded body to be put on public display as a warning to others.

Because of these procedural and legal abominations, the planned executions for these Shia activists must not proceed. They should be retried in public proceedings and afforded due process protections consistent with international law, which includes a ban on the death penalty for anyone under the age of 18.

No other executions should take place in Saudi Arabia. Capital punishment is morally repugnant and rife with error and bias, as we know all too well in the United States. Moreover, any outcome produced by the Saudi criminal justice system is inherently suspect. Inadequate due process, violations of basic human rights and draconian laws that criminalize petty offenses and exercising of civil rights are fixtures of Saudi rule.

They’re also fixtures of authoritarian regimes in general. Those who simply expect Saudi Arabia to reform its criminal justice system ignore the fact that the kingdom is an authoritarian regime that uses the law as a tool to maintain and consolidate power. They also ignore the reality that Saudi Arabia often escapes moral condemnation in large part because of its close relationship with the U.S.

In 2014, for example, President Barack Obama visited the kingdom but made no mention of its ongoing human rights violations. In return, he and the first family received $1.4 million in gifts from the Saudi king. (By law U.S. presidents must either pay for such gifts or turn them over to the National Archives.) The two leaders discussed energy security and military intelligence, shared interests that have connected the U.S. and Saudi Arabia for nearly a century.

Obama traveled to the kingdom earlier this year to offer his condolences on the passing of King Abdullah and to meet with the new ruler, King Salman. Again, human rights were never mentioned. Instead, U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice tweeted that Abdullah was a “close and valued friend of the United States.”

This deafening silence is not lost on Saudi Arabia and has emboldened its impunity. In the wake of the Arab uprisings, the kingdom’s brutal campaign against its Shia minority and political opposition has deepened. Shias have limited access to government employment and public education, few rights under the criminal justice system and diminished religious rights. Those who protest this discrimination face arbitrary trial and the prospect of execution for terrorism. Consider that Saudi Arabia has not carried out a mass execution for terrorism-related offenses since 1980, a year after an armed group occupied the Grand Mosque of Mecca.

Dissent of any kind is quelled. In November, Ashraf Fayadh, a Palestinian poet and artist born in Saudi Arabia, was sentenced to death for allegedly renouncing Islam. His supporters allege that he’s being punished for posting a video of police lashing a man in public.

Even the kingdom’s neighbors aren’t immune from its authoritarian agenda. Numerous reports suggest that the Saudi-led coalition against opposition groups in Yemen has indiscriminately attacked civilians and used cluster bombs in civilian-populated areas, in violation of international law.

Despite its appalling human rights record, Saudi Arabia was awarded a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council last year and this summer was selected to oversee an influential committee within the council that appoints officials to report on country-specific and thematic human rights challenges. Unsurprisingly, Saudi Arabia has used its newfound power to thwart an international inquiry into allegations that it committed war crimes in Yemen.

It’s not by happenstance that the kingdom announced the mass execution just days after 130 people were killed in Paris in the worst terrorist attacks in Europe in more than a decade. Even before Paris, the U.S. used its “war on terrorism” to invade and occupy Afghanistan and Iraq, engage in mass surveillance and develop an assassination program immune from judicial oversight. Is it any surprise that Saudi Arabia feels emboldened to intensify its own “war on terrorism”?

Source: The Intercept

IMG Source: http://www.dw.com/image/0,,18217369_303,00.jpg

Saudi Arabia and the “War on Terror”

Speaking to the media during a visit to the giant Incirlik Air Base in Turkey Tuesday, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter praised the Saudi monarchy for proclaiming a new “Islamic alliance” against terrorism.

“We are happy with the alliance formed by Saudi Arabia and looking forward for the steps being taken by them against terrorism,” Carter declared.

No sooner was the Saudi announcement made, however, than a number of countries raised questions about their inclusion, without their knowledge, in the so-called alliance. Three predominantly Muslim countries—Iraq, Syria and Iran—were excluded, leading to charges that the Saudi monarchy is really only patching together a Sunni Muslim alliance to prosecute its sectarian crusade against the region’s Shia population.

A more fundamental question is what does the Saudi regime mean by “terrorism”? Clearly, it is not referring to the various Al Qaeda-linked groups fighting in Syria, all of which get substantial funding as well as large numbers of fighters and their religious-ideological inspiration from the Wahhabist Saudi kingdom.

This fact was confirmed by then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a classified 2009 cable declaring that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

This was further acknowledged by Vice President Joe Biden in a speech delivered at Harvard last year. He admitted that the Saudi regime, along with other US client despots in the Middle East, had

“poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad. Except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”

Of course what both Clinton and Biden sought to conceal was that this operation was fully coordinated by the CIA out of a station in southern Turkey. Washington had armed and funded similar groups in the US-NATO war for regime change in Libya, and well before that had worked closely with the Saudis in fomenting the Islamist war against the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan, which gave rise to Al Qaeda.

So what does the Saudi monarchy view as terrorism? The answer can be found in its prison cells, where three young men, all arrested when they were minors, are awaiting death by beheading for the “crime” of participating in peaceful protests against the relentless repression of the US-backed regime in Riyadh.

They are among 52 similar “terrorists” whose mass execution is expected at any time. Two of them—Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was 17 at the time of his arrest, and Abdullah al-Zaher, who was 15—in addition to being sentenced to die by decapitation with a sword, are to be crucified, their headless bodies mounted on crosses in a public space as an example to anyone thinking of defying the House of Saud.

What the Saudi monarchy considers “terrorism,” moreover, was codified into a new law last year. It establishes that terrorism includes “any act” intended to, among other things, “insult the reputation of the state,” “harm public order,” or “shake the security of society.”

Other acts defined as “terrorism” include: “Calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based,” as well as “Contact or correspondence with any groups, currents [of thought], or individuals hostile to the kingdom.”

The parents of Abdullah al-Zaher, now 19, have come forward to plead for his life. They describe how he was tortured and beaten with iron rods after his arrest until he signed a false confession that he was not even allowed to read.

The Saudi regime has already executed at least 151 people this year, the highest per capita rate of capital punishment of any country in the world.

Within the Obama administration and the corporate media, appeals for the lives of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, Abdullah al-Zaher and the dozens of others who face imminent beheading have fallen on deaf ears.

Washington continues to count Saudi Arabia as its closest ally in the Arab world, selling it more US weaponry than any other country on the planet. Last year alone, the oil kingdom purchased $1.2 billion in US armaments. A new $1 billion deal was recently announced, as the Pentagon continues to resupply the Saudi military in its vicious war in Yemen that has already claimed more than 7,000 lives, while reducing tens of millions to the brink of starvation.

The media in the US has largely ignored the plight of the youth sentenced to beheading and crucifixion. Instead, it has lavished praise on recent elections to municipal councils on the grounds that women were for the first time allowed to vote and run for office, though they remain deprived of virtually every other right.

Most of the coverage dutifully ignored the fact that less than 10 percent of the population—and barely 1 percent of Saudi women—bothered to vote for the municipal bodies, which are utterly powerless advisory panels in a country where the royal family appoints all those who wield any real power.

Nor in the media’s celebration of a handful of rich Saudi women running for meaningless posts was any attention paid to a Sri Lankan woman, one of the many thousands of foreign domestic workers treated like slaves, who is awaiting death by stoning after being charged with adultery. Two Indonesian maids were executed by beheading earlier this year.

That US imperialism counts the Saudi regime as its closest ally in the Arab world debunks all the pretexts it has used to justify its continuous wars in the region. The alliance with a state that finances, arms and provides religious-ideological inspiration to Al Qaeda-linked groups gives the lie to the supposed “war on terror,” just as US support for an absolute monarchy that beheads and crucifies youth exposes the fraud of Washington’s promotion of “democracy” and “human rights.”

Washington’s real objectives are purely predatory, directed at utilizing military might to offset the economic decline of American capitalism by asserting hegemony over the world’s markets and resources.

That it relies on the ultra-reactionary and bankrupt Saudi regime as a key pillar of this policy only demonstrates that US imperialism is headed for a catastrophe. It is destined to reap all that it has sown in the massive crimes carried out against the peoples of the region, even as the immense contradictions building up within US society create the conditions for a revolutionary explosion.

Source: Global Research 

Human Rights Activist To Be Crucified & Beheaded By US Ally

Source: The Free Thought Project

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – A young Saudi Arabian man arrested as a teenager, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, will be decapitated and then crucified, after his death penalty appeal was denied.

Ali was arrested for taking part in an anti-government protest in 2012, when he was only 17 years old. He was allegedly tortured and forced to sign a confession, and was sentenced to death in May 2014, according to anti-death penalty charity Reprieve.

The authoritarian Saudi regime in the midst of a bloody crackdown, in the wake of the Arab Spring, came down upon Ali with swift brutality. Ali objected to the use of his forced confession being used to sentence him at trial, but no investigation was ever undertaken into the matter.

According to a report by the International Business Times:

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr’s name is well-known eastern Saudi Arabia, the hotbed of the country’s Shia minority and the scene of a burgeoning protest movement.

Ali, 21, is the nephew of Shia cleric and activist Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, who was jailed and sentenced to death for his fiery speeches against Saudi Arabia’s ruling House of Saud dynasty, which has controlled the Arabian Peninsula since the 1930s. Sheikh al-Nimr was detained and then sentenced to death on terrorism charges as well as “waging war on God” for his speech during anti-government protests in Qatif, a city that saw massive street protests followed by a bloody crackdown by the Saudi authorities in the wake of the Arab Spring.

Ali’s charges ranged from explaining how to give first aid and encouraging protests with his BlackBerry, to targeting security patrols and being part of a terrorist organization, charges which he vehemently denies.

A sham “trial” was held, with Ali being given no attorney, to provide legitimate cover for the state persecution of political dissent. His case is meant to serve as a warning to anyone willing to speak out against the brutal and authoritarian House of Saud.

Saudi Arabia is ruled by a Sunni monarchy under a strict interpretation of Islam, Wahabbism, while those that live in al-Ahsa and al-Qatif districts in the country’s eastern province, which also contains the bulk of the kingdom’s oil, are predominantly Shia. The persecution of Shia in Saudi Arabia is rampant, as they are often portrayed as heretics or agents of Iran, the other major regional power.

The beheading and crucifixion of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr speaks to the implicit nature of the House of Saud. This brutal regime has beheaded more people than ISIS in the past 12 months, and yet this is the choice for a strategic geopolitical ally for the U.S. government. Perhaps Americans should be wary of any U.S. politician that supports such a tyrannical regime.

Pakistan and the Saudi Attack on Yemen

From In Defense of Marxism

The Pakistani masses have reacted very negatively to the prospects of becoming an accomplice in the Saudi Monarchy’s brutal aggression against Yemen. This response has shocked Pakistan’s ruling elite, the state’s bosses, the media and the intelligentsia. Even some in the media have dared to reveal the vicious character of the despotic Saudi regime and its atrocious treatment of more than 2.5 million Pakistani immigrant workers banished into slavery and drudgery by these tyrannical monarchs

The hesitation, lack of any confidence, and hypocrisy of the rulers is pathetic. An official Press report stated that, “Pakistan called upon the United Nations, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the international community to play a constructive role in finding a political solution to the crisis in Yemen. An official statement from the PM House (Prime Minister’s Office) had said the meeting concluded that Pakistan remains firmly committed to supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Pakistan. It was also emphasised in the meeting that Pakistan is committed to playing a meaningful role in resolving the deteriorating situation in the Middle East.”

What a laughable, pathetic and spineless response! What is said about consulting the ‘parliament’ and informing the people is a reeking cynical farce. These rulers themselves are mere timid puppets. Usually they are only informed about military operations and crucial foreign policy decisions after the fact by the top bosses of the state and their imperialist masters. These are the real people calling the shots.

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Saudi War on Yemen: Rising Tensions in the Middle East and the Crisis of Imperialism

From In Defense of Marxism

Since early Thursday morning hundreds of fighter jets from Saudi Arabia and a wide coalition of Arab states have been bombing targets across Yemen, killing dozens, destroying all major runways and much of the key infrastructure of the country. Yet again Yemen, which is the poorest Arab country, has become a target for savage attacks by the Saudi regime.

Hundreds of civilians, many of whom children, have already been killed, but it is clear that this figure will dramatically rise as the targets of the attack are moving into the civilian populated areas in Sana’a and in the northern Houthi villages which are expected to be heavily bombed. This morning a refugee camp for internally displaced Yemenis was bombed, killing about 40 people and injuring 30.

Apart from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan were also sending aircraft, while Egypt and Jordan were preparing to take part in ground offensives if necessary. Oman is the only Gulf Arab state not participating. Apart from 100 fighter jets, Saudi Arabia has dedicated 150,000 soldiers to the campaign, amassing them on its long porous border with Yemen and threatening an even bloodier ground invasion.

The United States and Britain have said they would not participate directly in the campaign, but that they will provide “logistical” and “intelligence” support. Israel has also openly supported the campaign. However, the EU has been vacillating, and although it did condemn the Houthi advance, it also said that the Saudi bombings have “dramatically worsened the already fragile situation in the country and risk having serious regional consequences”.

The Saudi Ambassador to the US said on Sunday that “ [t]his is a war to protect the people of Yemen and its legitimate government from a group that is allied and supported by Iran and Hezbollah,” and later on he said: “we are doing this to protect Yemen.”

The level of hypocrisy is nauseating. The Saudi regime is killing thousands of people and destroying all the key infrastructure of this extremely poor country in order to… “protect it”!

The protection of Yemen and its people have nothing to do with this imperialist adventure which has one main goal: to protect the Saudi ruling class and its narrow, petty interests in the Middle East, which are directly opposed to the poor and exploited people of the region.

For years Saudi Arabia supported the former dictator of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was hated by his own people and finally overthrown during the Arab revolution. Then the Saudis, along with the rest of the dictators and despots of the Gulf states, manoeuvred to install into the presidency Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who was a vice-president for 17 years before the revolution.

However, after assuming power Hadi’s support quickly evaporated when the masses realised that corruption, nepotism and tribalism had remained in place, and that poverty and misery had become worse. Hadi also imposed harsh austerity measures on the population of which 60 percent already live in deep poverty. Thus, in order to rule, Hadi increasingly rested on different factions who dominated the different regions of Yemen. In particular he leaned on the tribal-Islamist Islah Party, while the Houthi tribal movement and the Zaydi people, who account for 40 percent of the population were marginalised as they had been for 60 years.

It was in this context, that the Houthis could gain strength and take over large parts of the north. Their slogans against US imperialism, against corruption and against poverty and austerity resonated with the many impoverished youth, mainly in the north where the majority are Shias. By the time the Houthis took Sana’a the “legitimate president” Hadi did not have any base left and he was swept aside with ease and without much resistance.

In the South Hadi is not in much of a better position. Here he managed to whip up the wrath of the secessionist movement and push a layer of people into the arms of Islamist groups through his open cooperation with US imperialism and by allowing them to run a drone programme in the country. In the end Hadi’s last refuge was in the southern city of Aden towards which the Houthis were advancing.

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Criminality in Support of Hegemony

From The Guardian

Last week Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States, announced that Saudi Arabia had commenced military operations against the Ansarullah fighters of the Houthi movement in Yemen. The Saudi intervention was not unexpected. Over the last few weeks there were signs that the US and the Saudis were preparing the ground for direct military intervention in Yemen in response to the Houthis seizing state power in January.

The appearance of a previously unknown ISIS element that was supposedly responsible for the massive bomb attack that killed over 130 people and the withdrawal of US personnel were the clear signals that direct intervention by the Saudis was imminent.

And last week with the fall of al-Anad military base, the base where the US military and CIA conducted its drone warfare in Yemen, to Ansarullah fighters and the capture of the port city of Aden where disposed President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi had fled, it was almost certain that the US would give the green light for its client states to intervene.

The Saudi Ambassador cloaked the role of Saudi Arabia within the fictitious context of another grand coalition, this time led by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – the corrupt collection of authoritarian monarchies allied with the US and the other Western colonial powers.

Ambassador Al-Jubeir announced that before launching operations in Yemen all of its allies were consulted. The meaning of that statement is that the US was fully involved in the operation. Even though the Ambassador stressed that the US was not directly involved in the military component of the assault, CNN reported that an interagency US coordination team was in Saudi Arabia and that a US official confirmed that the US would be providing logistical and intelligence support for the operation.

And what was the justification for launching a military operation not sanction by the United Nations Security Council? According to the Saudis they have legitimate regional security concerns in Yemen. Their argument was that since they share a border with Yemen, the chaos that erupted over the last few months that culminated in what they characterise as a coup by the Houthi insurgency, forced them to intervene to establish order and defend by “all efforts” the legitimate government of President Hadi.

But this is becoming an old and tired justification for criminality in support of hegemony.

The intervention by the Saudis and the GCC continues the international lawlessness that the US precipitated with its War on Terror over the last decade and a half. Violations of the UN Charter and international law modelled by the powerful states of the West has now become normalised resulting in an overall diminution of international law and morality over the last 15 years.

The double standard and hypocrisy of US support for the Saudi intervention in Yemen and Western and US condemnations of Russia’s regional security concerns in response to the right-wing coup in Ukraine will not be missed by most people.

And so the conflagration in the Middle East continues.

US and Saudi geo-strategic interest in containing the influence of Iran has trumped international law and any concerns about the lives of the people of Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain. Militarism and war as first options has now become commonplace as instruments of statecraft in an international order in which power trumps morality and law is only applied to the powerless.