Posts Tagged ‘Bahrain’

US terror survey blames Iran for ‘fomenting violence’ in Middle East

September 19, 2018

The US has once again named Iran as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, accusing it of intensifying numerous conflicts and trying to undermine governments throughout the Middle East.

Members of Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah group carry Hezbollah flags in southern Lebanon. (Reuters/File Photo)

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The State Department’s annual survey of global terrorism released on Wednesday said Iran and its proxies are responsible for fomenting violence in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. The report said Iranian fighters and Iran-backed militias, like Lebanon’s Hezbollah, had emerged emboldened from the war in Syria and with valuable battlefield experience they seek to leverage elsewhere.

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In addition, the survey reported a 24 percent decrease in attacks around the world between 2016 and 2017. That was due mainly to a sharp decline in the number of attacks in Iraq, where the Daesh group has been largely displaced.

The Associated Press

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1374726

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US Navy vows to protect Red Sea and Arabian Gulf amid Iran threats

September 10, 2018

The US Navy has vowed to ensure the free flow of shipping in the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea after Iranian threats to disrupt the waterways.

Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, commander of the US 5th Fleet based in Bahrain, said Iran’s activities across the region are “promoting instability” that is “affecting the region significantly” through its backing of Yemen’s Houthi rebels, Bloomberg reported.

“The US and our partners stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce wherever international law allows,” he said on Sunday.

Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, commander of the US 5th Fleet, said the US Navy would ensure free navigation for shipping in the region’s waterways. (AFP)

The commander made the comments as he announced a series of exercises this month with regional and global allies as part of the US 5th Fleet Theater Counter Mine and Maritime Security Exercise. One of the exercises will take place in Djibouti, near the Bab Al-Mandeb Strait which marks the entrance to the Red Sea.  The waters in the Strait have been threatened by the Houthi militia in Yemen, which controls part of the Red Sea coast. The Iran-backed group have carried out several attacks targeting international shipping.

Iran has also threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Arabian Gulf if it is stopped from exporting its own oil.

The US is set to impose a second wave of sanctions in November that will target the Iranian energy sector, including the sale of crude to international customers.

The sanctions are being reimposed after  Donald Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear deal between Iran and international powers earlier this year.

The deal sought to curb Iran’s atomic program in exchange for an easing of the sanctions that had crippled the country’s economy.

Trump criticized the deal for doing little to stop Iran’s interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East and its ballistic missile program.

Arab news

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1369326/middle-east

Bahrain halts new visas for Qataris in Gulf crisis salvo

August 22, 2018

Qatari students studying in Bahrain would be exempt from the new measures and visas already issued would remain valid.

Bahrain severed ties with Qatar in June last year at the same time as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and UAE [Al Jazeera]
Bahrain severed ties with Qatar in June last year at the same time as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and UAE [Al Jazeera]

Bahrain has stopped issuing new visas to Qataris, the interior ministry said late on Tuesday, in the latest salvo in a months-long feud between the Gulf states.

The small island kingdom severed relations with Qatar in June last year at the same time as regional power Saudi Arabia and its allies Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

But it had continued issuing some visas to citizens of the emirate, which lies just 40km away on the mainland of the Arabian Peninsula.

The ministry said only Qatari students studying in Bahrain would be exempt from the new measures, and visas already issued would remain valid.

The measures were a response to the “irresponsible actions of the Qatari authorities, who do not consider the rights of neighbouring countries or the principles of international law,” the ministry said in a statement carried by the official BNA news agency.

The two sides have exchanged repeated allegations of violations of airspace or territorial waters and have launched multiple lawsuits through international tribunals.

READ MORE

Qatar-Gulf crisis: All the latest updates

Bahrain and its allies have demanded that Qatar cut its alleged ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and take a tougher line with Shia Iran, which they accuse of meddling in the region’s affairs.

Qatar, which is to host the finals of the next football World Cup in 2022, has insisted it has the right to conduct an independent foreign policy.

The result has been a highly fractious diplomatic and economic dispute between the Western allies that has no end in sight.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/08/bahrain-halts-visas-qataris-gulf-crisis-salvo-180822084645487.html

Saudi Arabia, Canada and the summer of discontent — perplexing, even jarring

August 19, 2018

“It may just be that MBS has a prickly personality and takes these things as personal insults.” But  activists say the motivations are more Machiavellian.

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By Taylor Luck Correspondent
AMMAN, JORDAN
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For Saudi watchers, the headlines out of the kingdom this summer – women’s activists jailed, clerics silenced, a diplomatic row with Canada – have been perplexing, even jarring.

After all, despite Saudi Arabia’s failing war in Yemen, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has an iron grip on power in the oil-rich kingdom and no serious internal rivals and remains in control over one of the wealthiest economies in the world.

Within the Saudi government, the crown prince controls the economy, defense, military, and foreign policy portfolios. It is a direct, top-down power structure; a one-man show.

And from the moment his father, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, made him crown prince a year ago, ending a power struggle within his generation of the Saudi royal family, the young prince, MBS as he is known, has signaled that he is ushering the conservative kingdom into a dramatically more modern, and moderate, era.

In addition to distancing Saudi power structures from the strict Wahhabi strain of Islam that is associated with extremism and terrorism, he has pursued an agenda billed as the “future for the young generation,” allowing cinemas to open, opening the military to women, easing regulations for opening businesses, and ending a decades-long women’s driving ban.

In Canada’s spat with Saudi Arabia, signs of a trickier road for democracies


This spring, moreover, MBS took a triumphant, four-week, coast-to-coast goodwill tour of the United States during which he sold himself as a reformer, a modernizer, and a liberal.

But for critics and analysts, contradictions between his centralized hold on power and his presumed reformist inclinations have existed from the beginning.

Now this series of erratic – or what critics describe as over-reactive – policies has left analysts and diplomats alike wondering if we are witnessing the lashing out of a prince with a surprisingly fragile grip on power or the work of a savvy ruler outmaneuvering rivals while navigating competing local, regional, and international politics. Or, more darkly, the actions of a thin-skinned, but unchecked, strongman.

Crackdown on clerics


In September 2017, Saudi authorities quietly arrested several high-profile clerics, including Salman al-Odeh, an influential Islamic thinker with millions of social media followers.

This month, Riyadh renewed its crackdown on imams, jailing over one dozen prominent Islamic scholars and speakers including Safar al-Hawali and Nasser al-Omar.

A reason reportedly given by Saudi authorities to Western diplomats is that the jailed clerics were opposed to the liberal social reforms that the crown prince is trying to push through, including allowing women to drive, opening cinemas, and allowing mixed entertainment and sporting events.

Moreover, the Crown Prince’s office asserts, these clerics are opposed to his progressive view of a “moderate Islam” that rejects extremist tendencies associated with Wahhabism.

Observers and activists say the motivations are more Machiavellian.

Many of the jailed clerics such as Mr. Odeh and Mr. Hawali are leaders of the so-called Sahwa movement, a strain of Muslim Brotherhood-inspired Islamism where clerics use Islamic theory to call for democracy and human rights. The movement opposes Western military intervention in the region, but also opposes terrorism against civilians. It was split over the Sunni uprising against US forces in Iraq.

The Sahwa movement, while socially conservative, is ideologically at odds with the Wahhabi school over fealty to monarchs and dictators, and in the 1990s was at odds with the royal family, calling for democracy and organizing protests. In 2011, amid the Arab Spring, scholars such as Odeh used Twitter to reach millions of followers with calls for a constitution, an elected parliament, and the formation of professional associations and unions.

By locking up clerics, the crown prince has removed the few voices who would and could dare to challenge his increasingly autocratic grip on Saudi society.

“These clerics are the only guys that have the ability to challenge the regime,” says Stéphane Lacroix, associate professor of political science at Sciences Po in Paris and an expert on Saudi Islamist movements.

“If any political challenge to the regime should come from anywhere, this is it. It is this potential that scares MBS.”

The Qatar factor


Another of this summer’s puzzling Saudi fare was the stunning arrest of women’s rights activists at the very same time the regime says it is increasing women’s role in the work force, military, and public life.

In May, Saudi authorities rounded up 11 women’s rights activists, issuing travel bans and holding many without trial.

As part of an alleged state-sanctioned smear campaign, social media accounts began accusing these activists of crimes against the state; Saudi newspapers ran photos of women’s rights activists with the word “traitor” in a banner above their faces.

Oddly, the crackdown came one month before Riyadh’s announced an end to the ban on women driving, and only days after Mohammed bin Salman completed his much-hyped tour of the United States.

The Saudi regime has recently renewed its arrests of women activists, culminating in the July jailing of activist Samar Badawi, who was awarded the US State Department’s International Women of Courage Award by then-first lady Michele Obama in 2012 for her fights for women’s suffrage.

“It basically cancels out a lot of the good publicity Bin Salman got on his US trip, which means it was almost certainly aimed at a domestic or regional audience,” says F. Gregory Gause, professor of international affairs at Texas A&M and a longtime Saudi observer.

Professor Gause says a prime explanation for the regime’s actions is the kingdom’s longstanding feud with Qatar, which is driven by a resentment of Qatar’s attempts to rival Saudi Arabia’s influence through backing Islamist groups during the Arab Spring, and the fact that it harbors Saudi dissidents and critics.

“Looking at these arrests, I think you must go back to the issue of Qatar, and the overestimation of Qatar’s power and reach by some within the ruling circle,” he says.

According to the accounts of Arab and Western diplomats, the feud drives much of Riyadh’s domestic and foreign policies. Riyadh and the United Arab Emirates implemented a blockade of the rich emirate in 2017 and have even called for “regime change.”

For Riyadh, the crackdown on human rights activists was both a message that dissent will not be allowed, and a pre-emptive strike immobilizing any potential human rights critics at home that Qatar may try and support in order to pressure Saudi Arabia to lift its blockade.

The feud between Riyadh and Toronto came after the Canadian Foreign Ministry issued a Tweet Aug. 3 calling for the immediate release of Ms. Badawi, the acclaimed women’s activist, along with other human rights advocates.

In response, Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador, froze trade deals, unloaded Canadian assets, and canceled direct flights to Toronto by the state-owned Saudia Airlines. Even more surreal for some, the kingdom also cancelled scholarships for 8,000 Saudi students studying in Canadian universities, ordering them to return home.

This time, the feud cannot be explained away by power politics or regional scheming.

“There is absolutely no way that a tweet from the Canadian Foreign Ministry will have any effect domestically or regionally on Saudi Arabia,” says Gause.

“This could just come down to personalities. Perhaps it is a case of where you get the crown prince on a bad day.”

Rather than a power play, it may be a symptom of a deeper upset of the system in Saudi Arabia.

Although by no means a democracy, modern Saudi Arabia was built on a careful system of checks and balances within the royal family and between the rulers and Saudi society at large.

The royal family would rule by committee, with the various princes and branches of the family, elites, clerics, and technocrats playing a role in the decisionmaking process.

But in the past two years, Saudi insiders say, as Bin Salman takes policy decisions alone, other royals, clerics, elites, and technocrats are “left in the dark” – and none are allowed to criticize or challenge a decision.

Without those informal restraints to keep a ruler’s worst impulses in check, analysts say, we may now be witnessing the whims of an unfiltered and unbound Saudi royal.

In an era of strongmen with thin skin, launching a trade war and a smear campaign to avenge a perceived personal slight is becoming a norm – and in Saudi Arabia there is no institution to moderate it.

“It may just be that MBS has a prickly personality and takes these things as personal insults,” Gause says. “This is the new Saudi Arabia.”

https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2018/0816/What-s-behind-Saudi-Arabia-s-summer-of-discontent

Canada got exactly what it deserved with its stand against Saudi Arabia

August 19, 2018

Isn’t it interesting that the Justin Trudeau government, which now represents Canada to the world, has adopted a foreign policy that is dominated by human rights concerns at a level of evangelical fervour.

Commentary
By 

This is not all bad. We are taking positive strides in correcting our own deficiencies in honouring the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights that we co-authored some 70 years ago. Unfortunately, many UN countries do not place individual human rights as important to their existential foundation. China for one.

Saudi Arabia is another. Historically, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as we know it today was founded by Ibn Sa’ud in 1932 as a religiously guided country. The alliance of the House of Sa’ud and the followers of a religious sheikh, ‘Abd al-Wahhab, dates back to 1744 when most of the Arabian Peninsula had deteriorated into violent chaos socially and politically. The Wahhabi’s mounted a religious war to save their civilization. They determined to stabilize the fragmentation of Islam by denouncing all and any religious concepts or practices that came into being after the third century of the Islamic Era. The House of Sa’ud became their military and political arm. Together, they conquered and united most of the Arabian Peninsula including the sacred cities of Mecca and Medina. While they were defeated themselves by the Ottoman Empire in 1819, the alliance re-emerged in the early 20th century. The Arabian Peninsula tribes were reunited when they captured Riyadh and established an absolute monarchy headed by the House of Sa’ud. Then they struck oil and became a global political force.

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And now we have Mohammad bin Salam, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, First Deputy Prime Minister, President of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs and the world’s youngest Minister of Defence. The country’s constitution is the Quran and the Sunnah, and he has to comply with Sharia Law. There is opposition from Sunni Islamists, the Shi’ite minority, tribal opponents, international civil rights movements, and fringe group terrorists. Wahhabi clerics oppose the actions he has started to improve the lives of women. Saudi Arabia has land borders with the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Yemen. It has sea boundaries with Egypt, Eritrea, Sudan, Bahrain and Iran. It is the world’s largest oil producer and exporter and the world’s second-largest arms importer. He embroiled his country in a civil war in Yemen when Iran intervened on the rebel side. Saudi Arabia is a complicated nation to manage internationally and internally. And he has a despotic personality.

As for Canada, we knew the recent trouble Germany and Sweden got into by attacking Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. We did nothing to come to their aid when the crown prince attacked them politically. Now it is our turn.

It is one thing to criticize and to take action in defence of any Canadian when being mistreated in another country. And it is important for Canadians to know that our government is acting positively on our behalf. However, when Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland directed the Canadian Embassy in Saudi Arabia to release her criticism on Twitter in Arabic so that it could be widely read by Saudis, we got exactly what we deserve.

Remember Charles de Gaulle and Quebec Libre?

https://www.stalbertgazette.com/article/canada-got-exactly-what-it-deserved-with-its-stand-against-saudi-arabia-20180818

How some Canadians see things:

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Saudi Arabia’s row with Canada: Silencing Western criticism?

August 8, 2018

“Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is no longer relying on the Europeans or Canada.”

Saudi Arabia has cut economic ties with Canada and expelled its ambassador after a call from Ottawa to release a human rights activist. Experts say the move is an attempt to silence critics and assert Riyadh’s authority.

    
Saudi Arabia | Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (picture-alliance/dpa/R. Jensen)

Saudi Arabia gave Canada’s ambassador in Riyadh, Dennis Horak, 24 hours on Monday to leave the country, declaring him persona non grata. The country also announced all new economic trade with Canada would be suspended. The move came in reaction to a tweet last week from Ottawa’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, who said that “Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s activists in Saudi Arabia including Samar Badawi.” Freedland urged the Saudi government to “immediately release them.”

Saudi Arabia has denounced the tweets as “blatant interference in the country’s domestic affairs,” as well as a “major, unacceptable affront to the kingdom’s laws and judicial process.” The Saudi government has said that it will cut scholarships for thousands of its students to study in Canada and national airline Saudia announced that it will suspend flights to Toronto beginning on August 13.

Read moreSaudi Arabia expels Canadian envoy for urging activist’s release

Despite the diplomatic blowback, Freeland has stayed firm on her criticism of the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. “We stand by what we have said,” she said Monday. “We will always speak up for human rights and women’s rights.”

Bahrain, UAE stand by Saudis

Several Arab nations in the region have expressed support for their Saudi allies in the dispute with Canada. “We can only stand with Saudi Arabia in defending its sovereignty and taking the necessary measures to protect its laws,” Anwar Gargash, the minister of state for foreign affairs in the United Arab Emirates, tweeted Monday.

وزارة الخارجية 🇧🇭

@bahdiplomatic

vows full solidarity with and rejects Canada’s interference in its internal affairshttp://bit.ly/2ONya8Q 

“Bahrain regrets Canada’s position, based on totally erroneous information that has nothing to do with reality on the ground,” Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. “It absolutely rejects its unacceptable intervention in Saudi internal affairs.”

Mohammad bin Abdullah al-Zulfi, a Saudi political analyst and former member of the country’s Shura Council, a government advisory body, said he is proud of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his government’s response to Canada. “Saudi Arabia is a strong country and doesn’t need Canada, Germany or even America,” he told DW.

Saudis ‘have had enough’ Western criticism 

Guido Steinberg, a Middle East expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, believes there are two reasons why Saudi Arabia has reacted so harshly to the statements from the Canadian Foreign Ministry. On the one hand, the Saudi leadership has become “insecure” and “paranoid,” he told DW, but it is also possible that the “Saudis have had enough of Western criticism.”

“They might want to send a signal that they simply do not want to hear this anymore,” said Steinberg. He contends that the Saudis are making an example of Canada, and showing other Western nations that it is unacceptable to criticize the country’s domestic policy. “The Saudis are brash and somewhat insecure, but they know they are an important country,” Steinberg said.

Middle East expert Guido SteinbergSteinberg says the Saudis want to send a signal that criticism of their domestic policies won’t be tolerated

According to Günter Meyer, director of the Center for Research on the Arab World at the University of Mainz, Crown Prince bin Salman is trying to prove to his people that his government is still effective in its foreign policy. Saudi Arabia has supported rebels in Syria who are losing a war against President Bashar Assadand its military become bogged down by the bloody and costly war it is waging in neighboring Yemen. “Mohammed bin Salman is being weakened in multiple areas of his foreign policy, so accepting such a hard criticism from Canada would weaken his position even more,” Meyer told DW.

Although Canada is standing by its criticism, Meyer believes that the country has a lot to lose. “From the Canadian perspective, it is a very serious backlash,” he said. Meyer argues that Saudi students who have had their scholarships to study in Canada revoked will just move to the United States or the United Kingdom to pursue higher education, which is a loss for Canadian universities.

The annual trade between the countries is worth roughly 4 billion Canadian dollars (€2.65 billion, $3 billion), with much of that being Saudi purchases of Canadian military hardware. Saudi Arabia could potentially make up for those purchases by buying more materiel from the United States, for example — a move which would likely cut into Canadian defense industry profits.

Read more: Saudi Arabia: The crown prince and the generation gap

Could it happen to Germany?

In November 2017, Riyadh summoned Berlin’s ambassador after German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel remarked that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was being kept against his will in Saudi Arabia. Gabriel also made remarks that were seen as critical of the Saudi war in Yemen. Riyadh reportedly blacklisted German companies as a result of the incident.

When Steinberg was asked about whether Riyadh could expel Berlin’s ambassador if Germany criticizes Saudi policy, he replied: “Absolutely. They want to try and stop all Western criticism of their policies.” As of now, Saudi Arabia doesn’t even have an ambassador to Germany in Berlin, Steinberg noted, and it is not particularly interested in strengthening its relationship with European countries to the extent it has with US President Donald Trump’s administration. “Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is no longer relying on the Europeans or Canada,” he said.

https://www.dw.com/en/saudi-arabias-row-with-canada-silencing-western-criticism/a-44988894

Iran Reportedly Launches Cyber Attack At Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt

August 2, 2018

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The group, dubbed “Leafminer,” has attacked networks in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel and Afghanistan, according to a report issued by US cyber security firm Symantec.

BY SANDEEP SINGH GREWAL/GULF DAILY NEWS

Manama, Bahrain (Tribune News Service) – A group of “highly active” hackers based in Iran have been found to be trying to steal vital information from governments in the Middle East.

The group, dubbed “Leafminer,” has attacked networks in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel and Afghanistan, according to a report issued by US cyber security firm Symantec.

However, an Information and eGovernment Authority (iGA) spokesman told the GDN yesterday “no indication was found up until now that Leafminer targeted the portal or any systems managed by IGA.”

The cyber espionage group’s targets includes the “energy, telecommunications, financial services, transportation and government” sectors.

Means of intrusion used to infiltrate target networks consisted of infecting malware on websites often visited by the users, also known as watering hole style attacks, and using brute-force login attempts, which features trying numerous passwords with the hope of eventually breaching the network.

“Symantec has uncovered the operations of a threat actor named Leafminer that is targeting a broad list of government organizations and business verticals in various regions in the Middle East,” stated a threat intelligence report by Symantec.

Operations reportedly began in early 2017 but has increased since the end of last year.

“Leafminer is a highly active group, responsible for targeting a range of organizations across the Middle East.

“The group appears to be based in Iran and seems to be eager to learn from, and capitalize on, tools and techniques used by more advanced threat actors.”

The report also said an investigation into Leafminer revealed a list, written in Farsi, of 809 systems targeted by the hackers.

“Targeted regions included in the list are Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, and Afghanistan.”

The report said the attackers were looking for e-mail data, files and database servers on their target systems in financial, government, energy, airlines, construction, telecommunication and other sectors in the region.

Symantec said it was able to identify Leafminer after discovering a compromised web server that was used in several different attacks.

“It [the cyber espionage group] made a major blunder in leaving a staging server publicly accessible, exposing the group’s entire arsenal of tools.

“That one misstep provided us with a valuable trove of intelligence to help us better defend our customers against further Leafminer attacks.”

IGA said, in a statement to the GDN yesterday, that part of its job was to monitor any report issued by security vendors such as Symantec regarding any threat actors targeting the region.

“The team then conducts further investigation to look for any sign of indication related to the threat actors,” it said.

“If an indication is detected, the case is reported to IGA’s cybersecurity incident management team to take the needful action to approach the incident.

“With regards to the Leafminer cyber espionage group, no indication was found up till now that Leafminer targeted the portal or any systems managed by IGA.”

IGA officials previously said that around 27,000 attacks on government systems were managed last year, with majority of them originating from countries in the east, namely Iran.

Meanwhile, a spokesman from Bahrain-based security firm CTM360 said it was aware of Leafminer and urged companies and individuals to install anti-virus software as well as use complex passwords.

“Leafminer targeted government organizations and businesses in the Middle East by using the existing available threats out there,” said the spokesman.

“The group studied reports published by different security firms about malwares or threats, and fix the loopholes mentioned in those papers for an advanced malware attack.”

———

Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

False accounts intended to abuse relations between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Bahrain says

July 22, 2018

Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior announced that it has detected false accounts intended to affect the special relations between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

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The ministry said evidence suggests the ghost accounts, which are publishing false information, appear to be managed by the State of Qatar as well as fugitives and wanted criminals.

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Bahrain’s Ministry of the Interior revealed that there is systematic targeting of the Kingdom to harm its public interests and try to influence public opinion. (Shutterstock)

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The statement said that this signifies a systematic targeting of the Kingdom of Bahrain, in order to harm its public interests and try to influence public opinion and the economy through the dissemination of false information.

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The ministry added that these accounts are working to stir confusion and sedition and incite hatred, in order to target the internal social fabric and influence the course of the upcoming parliamentary elections.

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The statement said these accounts focus on spreading negative information on several matters, including the most recent issue regarding the changes to Bahrain’s pension system to stir public opinion, distort the Bahraini identity and portray the Gulf nation in a negative light.

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The ministry noted that these threats are generally intended to harm Bahraini citizens.

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In light of the recent developments and the security and safety concern of the society, and within the framework of its responsibilities in maintaining security and public order, the ministry has conducted an investigation into the matter.

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Through the General Directorate for Combating Corruption and Economic and Electronic Security, the ministry is monitoring the alleged accounts on social networking sites that have been broadcasting illegal content.

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The statement said that the necessary legal measures have been taken in this regard, affirming the freedoms and rights guaranteed by the Constitution, especially freedom of expression.

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The ministry has called for adherence in controlling these rights, stipulated by the laws within the limitations of freedom of opinion and expression.

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The ministry also called on the public to be vigilant when publishing information and ensuring that it is credible and from official sources.

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In addition it urged the public not to use social media for the dissemination of rumors that affect security and civil peace.

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The Bahraini Interior Ministry called on everyone to be vigilant and not to re-publish the allegations, especially since this stage requires concerted efforts, cohesion and an increase in awareness in order to protect the interests of the nation and civil peace. It added that strengthening national unity was everybody’s responsibility.

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The ministry also requested everyone to take responsibility in order to regulate the usage of social media in order to reduce its dangers and negative effects. It emphasised the importance of facing these challenges and not subscribing to destructive ideas.

Arab News

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1342806/middle-east

Saudi Arabia slams ‘racial discrimination’ of Israeli law — “Israel is trying to obliterate the Palestinians”

July 21, 2018

 

Saudi Arabia has slammed a controversial Israeli law as “perpetuating racial discrimination” against Palestinians by defining the country as the nation state of the Jewish people, state media reported.

The law adopted by Israel’s parliament on Thursday also defines the establishment of Jewish communities as being in the national interest and downgrades Arabic from an official language to one with special status.

Citing a Saudi foreign ministry source, the official Saudi Press Agency said late Friday the kingdom “rejects and disapproves” of the new legislation which it argued contradicts international law.

The source called on the international community to “confront such a law and or other Israeli attempts, aimed at perpetuating racial discrimination against the Palestinian people”, SPA reported.

Saudi Arabia said the adoption of the law would also be a barrier to ending the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Image result for King Salman, crown prince, MBS, photos

Earlier this year King Salman reaffirmed Saudi Arabia’s “steadfast” support for the Palestinian cause, after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signalled a shift in the country’s approach.

Prince Mohammed in April said in a magazine interview that Israelis as well as Palestinians “have the right to have their own land”.

Arab citizens account for some 17.5 percent of Israel’s more than eight million population and have long complained of discrimination.

The Israeli legislation was also condemned by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, comprised of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Teargas canisters fired by Israeli troops fall over Palestinians during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, Friday, July 13, 2018 (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

Teargas canisters fired by Israeli troops fall over Palestinians during a protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, Friday, July 13, 2018 (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

Adoption of the law “reflected the regime of racism and discrimination against the Palestinian people,” GCC secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani was quoted by SPA as saying.

Zayani accused Israel of trying to obliterate the Palestinians’ “national identity and depriving them of their legitimate civil and human rights on their occupied homeland”.

AFP

Related:

New evidence of Qatar’s $1 billion ransom that funds terror

July 18, 2018

Damning new evidence has emerged to suggest that a $1 billion ransom paid by Qatar for the release of 28 Qataris kidnapped in Iraq has been used to fund terror.

Text messages and voicemails obtained by the BBC reveal communications between Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Qatar’s newly appointed foreign minister, and Zayed Al-Khayareen, its ambassador to Iraq, as talks to release the hostages dragged on for 16 months.

In this April 21, 2017 file photo, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Al-Thani, second left in front row, welcomes released kidnapped members of Qatar’s ruling family at the Doha airport, Qatar. (AP)

In the end Qatar paid the biggest ransom in history: $1 billion plus $125 million in “side payments,” all paid to groups such as Al Nusra Front, the Al-Qaeda affiliate now known as Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, and the Iran-backed Iraqi Shiite paramilitary group Kataib Hezbollah.

The ransom payment was a key factor in driving the Anti-Terror Quartet — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt — to close borders and sever diplomatic ties with Qatar.

The 28 Qataris were taken hostage on Dec 16, 2015, while hunting with falcons in southern Iraq, having ignored all warnings about not traveling to the area. The party included members of the ruling family.

The kidnappers were identified as members of Kataib Hezbollah but nothing was heard from them until three months later, when they offered to release three hostages in return for “a gesture of goodwill”  — money.

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Ambassador Al-Khayareen wrote in a text to the foreign minister: “This is a good sign for us, which indicates that they are in a hurry and want to end everything soon.”

As the months passed, however, the kidnappers kept upping their demands. As well as money they wanted Qatar to leave the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen, and demanded the release of Iranian soldiers held in Syria.

One Kataib Hezbollah negotiator, Abu Mohammed, wanted $10 million for himself. “All of them are thieves,” the ambassador wrote to the minister.

Two Iraqi mediators recruited by the ambassador asked in advance for $150,000 in cash and five Rolex watches when they visited Sheikh Mohammed. Who the “gifts” were for was not clear. Qatari officials admit the texts and voicemails are genuine but say they have been edited in a misleading fashion.

Arab News

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1340821/middle-east