Sunday, January 31, 2016

German paper: pro-Saudi Syrian group's "main task is to disrupt the peace conference mediated by the UN"

    Sunday, January 31, 2016   No comments

An opposition group founded by Saudi Arabia last month is turning the Geneva negotiations into a farce, putting the UN under pressure and refusing to talk to the Syrian government, German newspaper Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (DWN) wrote.

According to the newspaper, the group was formed in December and consists of Islamist fighters who want to overthrow Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad.

The opposition platform is called the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) and is referred to in the media as "the most important opposition alliance."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

UN: Saudi strikes on Yemen civilians may be crimes against humanity

    Wednesday, January 27, 2016   No comments
A Saudi-led coalition fighting in neighboring Yemen has targeted civilians with air strikes and some of the attacks could be a crimes against humanity, United Nations sanctions monitors said in an annual report to the Security Council.

The report by the U.N. panel that monitors the conflict in Yemen for the Security Council, seen by Reuters on Wednesday, sparked calls by rights groups for the United States and Britain to halt sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia that could be used in such attacks.

Rulers of Saudi Arabia "gifted" Malaysia's PM Najib Razak to support him in his "election campaign" against the Muslim Brotherhood

    Wednesday, January 27, 2016   No comments
During an investigation of allegations of corruption charges of Malaysian PM, investigators revealed evidence of Saudi interference in internal affairs of other Muslim countries.  

It was discovered that the $681m (£479m) deposited in the bank account of Malaysian PM Najib Razak by Saudi Arabia was to help him win the 2013 elections, a Saudi source says.

Malaysia's attorney general cleared Mr Najib of allegations of corruption on Tuesday after ruling that the money was a donation from the Saudi royal family.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Israel's defense minister: Islamic State "enjoyed Turkish money for oil"

    Tuesday, January 26, 2016   No comments

Israel's defense minister said on Tuesday that Islamic State militants had been funded with 'Turkish money', an assertion that could hinder attempts to mend fences between the two countries after years of estrangement.

"It's up to Turkey, the Turkish government, the Turkish leadership, to decide whether they want to be part of any kind of cooperation to fight terrorism. This is not the case so far," Moshe Yaalon told reporters in Athens.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Iraqi lawmakers accused the new Saudi ambassador of meddling in domestic affairs

    Sunday, January 24, 2016   No comments
Saudi Arabia is quick to accuse Iran of "blatantly interfering in the internal affairs of  Arab countries." A week after re-opening its embassy in Iraq, Saudi Arabia was accused by Iraq of interfering in the internal affairs of that country. In Sunday, Iraqi lawmakers accused the new Saudi ambassador of meddling in domestic affairs and demanded that he sent declared persona non grata.

Saudis Bankroll CIA Backing of Syrian Rebels

    Sunday, January 24, 2016   No comments
When President Obama secretly authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to begin arming Syria’s embattled rebels in 2013, the spy agency knew it would have a willing partner to help pay for the covert operation. It was the same partner the C.I.A. has relied on for decades for money and discretion in far-off conflicts: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Friday, January 22, 2016

While U.S. and Russia are pushing for Syria peace talks, some regimes, including Saudi Arabia's and Turkey's, are putting roadblocks

    Friday, January 22, 2016   No comments
The Syrian brutal civil war that is about to enter its sixth year may
continue to claim more victims, not because of Syrian actors, but, again, because of its sectarian, authoritarian neighbors. Recent events expose the dangerous role played by the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the Turkish president in prolonging the crisis and unveil their reliance on violent extremists to pursue their destructive geopolitical agenda. It is now evident which country is willing to support or tolerate which terrorist organization to preserve its relevance in regional politics. Turkey’s authoritarian president, Recep T. Erdogan admitted that he prefers ISIL controlling Syria’s northern borders over Syrian Kurdish protection units. He does not distinguish between PYD, YPG, and the PKK; but he distinguishes between al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, and ISIL. Moreover, he refuses to legally identify ISIL as a terrorist entity, but eager to extend the label to PYD and YPG.
The Saudi rulers are insisting on including Jaysh al-Islam and similar Salafi armed groups in the opposition group that will talk with the Syrian government and are denying other Syrian opposition groups a place at the negotiating table.

The Syrian opposition council backed by Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it will not attend the negotiations in Geneva with the government if a third group takes part, a reference to a Russian bid to widen the opposition team. Source

In his confidential Jan. 18 briefing to the U.N. Security Council, de Mistura said Riyadh is complicating his efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict by trying to tightly control which opposition groups will be allowed to participate in the negotiations. Source

Turkey, too, will not allow Kurdish groups from northern Syria to take part in peace talks alongside other groups opposed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the country’s Prime Minister has warned.

Ahmet Davutoglu said the group known as People’s Defence Units or YPG, seen by the US as one of the most effective fighting forces against Isis, was too closely linked to the outlawed PKK terrorist group for it to join talks on the opposition side. It represented a “direct threat to Turkey”, he told reporters during a two-day visit to London which concluded on Tuesday. source

Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia: The game of chess is prohibited [haram]

    Friday, January 22, 2016   No comments
Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia:

"The game of chess is proscribed. It is included in the category of gambling (maysir) [then he quotes the Qur’anic verses about the prohibition of maysir]. It is a waste of time. It squanders money. It causes enmity and hatred between people. By playing it, a rich will end poor and a poor will end up rich. It causes enmity and hatred between people. And people playing it are spending time where it is not supposed to be spent"



The Mufti often issues decrees about insignificant matters and ignores cases of government abuses and human rights violations. In fact, the Mufti often issues decrees justifying the Saudi rulers’ abuses and never speaks on behalf of the victims of government's abuses and restrictions.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Indirectly confirming Turkey's implicit support for ISIL, U.S. official calls on Turkey to "do more" in anti-ISIL fight

    Thursday, January 21, 2016   No comments
US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said Turkey "can do more" in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, particularly by tightening its border to stop the flow of resources and foreign fighters.

"Turkey occupies a key position in the coalition -- it is hosting aircraft and making other contributions," Carter told reporters in Paris, where he has been meeting defence ministers from several countries involved in the anti-ISIL coalition.   

"I do believe that Turkey can do more, and therefore the kind of campaign plan I was discussing with other ministers... would very, very much benefit from a stronger effort by Turkey," he added.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Showing the growing strategic difference with the US and converging interests with Saudi Arabia: Israeli DM declares that he prefers ISIS to Iran

    Wednesday, January 20, 2016   No comments
Evidence is mounting that the Middle East is entering a new era. Days after the Iran Deal, which mainly ended the US-Iran nuclear dispute, Israeli leaders are now taking public steps to align themselves with Saudi Arabia and the groups that country supports and distancing itself from the U.S. 
Speaking today at a security conference in Tel Aviv, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared that he “prefers ISIS” over Iran, and does not consider ISIS to pose a serious threat to the Israeli state, saying Iran will always remain “the main enemy.”

Ya’alon insisted that he believes ISIS will be defeated at any rate, what with the US launching strikes on their oil supplies, but that he’d much rather see ISIS rule all of Syria, and consequently be directly on Israel’s border, than have the pro-Iran government remain in power.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Why Al Jazeera America Was Destined to Fail

    Monday, January 18, 2016   No comments
Al Jazeera America never had a chance. Having struggled in vain to attract an audience since it launched in 2013, the cable news channel announced Wednesday that it would shut down come April. “The decision is driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in an increasingly digital world, and because of the current global financial challenges,” CEO Al Anstey said in a staff memo, thereby glossing over all of the operation's actual failures.


Maybe you liked Al Jazeera America's news coverage. More likely, you never watched it. After spending $500 million to buy Al Gore's Current TV and put itself in about 40 million homes, the channel reached a piddly 28,000 prime-time viewers in 2015. CNN, by comparison, reaches around 700,000. That is not the sort of gap you can simply ascribe to a secular decline in cable audiences as people spend more time online. Some of the trouble undoubtedly boiled down to its name. Many Americans were never going to watch a channel created by Al Jazeera, the media network owned by the Qatari government with a reputation (fair or not) for being a smidgen hostile to the U.S.

Academics, jurists and students support colleagues targeted by Turkish government

    Monday, January 18, 2016   No comments
The discussion over a petition signed by 1,128 academics that calls for the restoration of peace in the conflict-torn Southeast has heated up with additional declarations from more academics, student groups, jurists and intellectuals.

In another declaration opened for signature on Sunday, hundreds of academics, politicians, members of civil society groups, jurists and representatives from labor unions declared their support for the 1,128 academics, some of whom have undergone investigation for their call demanding a stop to the military campaign and a return to the negotiating table to seek a peaceful solution to the country's Kurdish problem.

"Turkey has been turned into a country where academics are faced with explicit threats [from politicians], where provinces are kept under long-term curfews and where bombs are detonated in [public] squares. We declare our solidarity with those academics who have faced pressure and undergone investigations [for pointing out the chaotic environment]," the declaration called "Academics cannot be silenced" read.

Richest 1% will own more than all the rest of humanity by 2016

    Monday, January 18, 2016   No comments
The combined wealth of the richest 1 percent will overtake that of the other 99 percent of people next year unless the current trend of rising inequality is checked, Oxfam warned today ahead of the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.

The international agency, whose executive director Winnie Byanyima will co-chair the Davos event, warned that the explosion in inequality is holding back the fight against global poverty at a time when 1 in 9 people do not have enough to eat and more than a billion people still live on less than $1.25-a-day.

Byanyima will use her position at Davos to call for urgent action to stem this rising tide of inequality, starting with a crackdown on tax dodging by corporations, and to push for progress towards a global deal on climate change.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

U.S. and Iran release Iranian and American prisoners, Obama pardons Iranians charged with sanctions violations

    Sunday, January 17, 2016   No comments
An Iranian analyst said the US was mainly seeking to free Jason Rezaian through its Saturday prisoners swap deal with Iran that also included freedom of three other US citizens in Iran and 7 Iranian inmates in the United States.

Mehdi Mohammadi wrote on his Instagram page on Sunday that 4 US inmates were freed yesterday in exchange for a package of concessions by the American side.

According to him, Jason Rezaian was the main person who was freed on Saturday and the US agreed to make the concessions for his sake and not the three other inmates.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Wheaton College seeks to fire Christian professor for saying that "Muslims and Christians worship the same God"

    Wednesday, January 13, 2016   No comments
Larycia Hawkins, a tenured political science professor who in December demonstrated solidarity with her Muslim neighbors by wearing a hijab, said at the end of last year that the college appeared ready to force her out after she had rejected recommendations to resign. This week she received word from Provost Stanton Jones that the termination process had begun.

“The Notice is not a termination; rather, it begins Wheaton College’s established process for employment actions pertaining to tenured faculty members,” the private evangelical college said in a statement confirming the latest development.

UNICEF: Saudi Arabia's war on Yemen impacting nearly 10 million children

    Wednesday, January 13, 2016   No comments
War on Yemen
“With no end in sight to the deadly conflict in Yemen, nearly 10 million children inside the country are now facing a new year of pain and suffering.

“Continuous bombardment and street fighting are exposing children and their families to a deadly combination of violence, disease and deprivation.

“The direct impact of the conflict on children is hard to measure. The statistics confirmed by the UN (747 children killed and another 1,108 injured since March last year; 724 children pressed into some form of military activity) tell only part of the story. But they are shocking enough in themselves.

Istanbul suicide bomber identified as Saudi, not Syrian, as previously speculated

    Wednesday, January 13, 2016   No comments
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) suicide bomber who killed 10 tourists by blowing himself up in Istanbul’s touristic Sultanahmet Square has been identified as a Saudi national who recently appealed to a district directorate of migration management to seek asylum in Turkey.

The bomber, identified as 28-year-old Nabil Fadli, applied for asylum to the Zeytinburnu Migration Management Directorate in the Istanbul district on Jan. 5, security sources said.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Emails expose close ties between Hillary Clinton and accused war criminal Henry Kissinger

    Tuesday, January 12, 2016   No comments
The late journalist Christopher Hitchens devoted an entire book to detailing the war crimes overseen by Kissinger, who infamously declared “The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.”


In “The Trial of Henry Kissinger,” Hitchens argues the former secretary of state should be tried “for war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offenses against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap and torture.”

Hitchens described Kissinger as a master of “depraved realpolitik” with “a callous indifference to human life and human rights,” who was behind U.S.-backed atrocities in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, East Timor, Chile, Bangladesh, Cyprus, Kurdish Iraq, Iran, South Africa, Angola and more.

Despite the alleged crimes he oversaw, Kissinger was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, leading critics like dissident scholar Michael Parenti to condemn what he said should be more accurately referred to as the “Nobel Peace Prize for War.”

“Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize,” quipped musician, satirist and mathematician Tom Lehrer.

Erdoğan to 1,128 academics: You are not enlightened persons, you are dark

    Tuesday, January 12, 2016   No comments
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has strongly reacted to a petition signed by more than 1,000 local and international academics calling on the Turkish government to end the security operations being committed in southeastern Anatolia and to return to table for talks to resolve the Kurdish issue, describing the signatories as “ignorant.” After an urgent meeting on Jan. 12, the Supreme Education Board (YÖK) announced that legal action would be taken over local academics who have signed the petition. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

"I urge you to vote for Donald Trump because... We don’t need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump”

    Monday, January 11, 2016   No comments
If you live in Iowa and own a phone, you might get a call this week that sounds something like this: “I urge you to vote for Donald Trump because he is the one candidate who points out that we should accept immigrants who are good for America. We don’t need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump.”

Fake Images of Crisis in Syria’s Madaya politically motivated

    Monday, January 11, 2016   No comments
A flurry of new stories surrounding mass starvation in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya, once a popular resort destination, have included some shocking images of starving children, and reports of people surviving on grass and tree leaves.
Even the editors here at Antiwar.com were briefly taken in, posting a story from the normally dependable al-Jazeera which used photographic “evidence” which turned out to be recycled photos from previous incidents.
Al-Jazeera’s top image of a starving child in that story, for instance, is the same child from a YouTube video in Derna, Syria, way back in May, months before the Madaya siege even began.
His isn’t the only image falsely attributed to the current crisis, with el-Akhbar identifying many of the other most high-profile pictures as having previous origins, one as far back as a 2009 picture of a refugee arriving in Europe, and a photo of a starving infant “in Madaya” dating from early 2014, and the infant shown is trapped in the ISIS-occupied Palestinian refugee camp or Yarmouk.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Mohammed bin Salman is the most dangerous man in the world: aggressive and ambitious

    Saturday, January 09, 2016   No comments
When Mohammed bin Salman was just 12 he began sitting in on meetings led by his father Salman, the then governor of Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh Province. Some 17 years later, at 29 and already the world’s youngest defence minister, he plunged his country into a brutal war in Yemen with no end in sight.

Now the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is jousting dangerously with its regional foe Iran, led by a man seemingly in a big hurry to become the Middle East’s most powerful leader.

Prince Mohammed was still in his early teens when he began trading in shares and property. And when he ran into a scrape or two, his father was able to take care of things. Unlike his older half-brothers, MbS, as he is known, did not go abroad to university, choosing to remain in Riyadh where he attended King Saud University, graduating in law. Associates considered him an earnest young man who neither smoked nor drank and had no interest in partying.

In 2011, his father became deputy Crown Prince and secured the prized Ministry of Defence, with its vast budget and lucrative weapons contracts. MbS, as a private adviser, ran the royal court with a decisive hand after his father was named Crown Prince in 2012.

Friday, January 8, 2016

UN head warns Saudi use of cluster bombs in Yemen could be war crime

    Friday, January 08, 2016   No comments
The U.N. secretary-general expressed deep concern Friday at the “intensification” of airstrikes by the Saudi-led, U.S.-supported coalition in Yemen and warned that the reported use of cluster bombs in populated areas could amount to a war crime.

A statement from Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman came a day after the U.N. chief condemned Yemen’s expulsion of the U.N.’s human rights representative in the country. The U.N. human rights office said this week it received allegations that the Saudi-led forces used cluster bombs.

Ban has received “troubling reports” of the use of cluster munitions in attacks Wednesday on several locations in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Friday.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Stoking sectarian fires in the Middle East could be Saudi Arabia's biggest mistake

    Wednesday, January 06, 2016   No comments
Why stoking sectarian fires in the Middle East could be Saudi Arabia's biggest mistake

Patrick Cockburn

Saudi Arabia will be pleased that the furore over its execution of the Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr is taking the form of a heightened confrontation with Iran and the Shia world as a whole. Insults and threats are exchanged and diplomatic missions closed. Sunni mosques are blown up in Shia-dominated areas of Iraq. The Saudi rulers are able to strengthen their leadership of a broad Sunni coalition against an Iranian-led Shia axis at home and abroad.

The motive for the mass execution of Sheikh Nimr and 46 others, many Sunni jihadists, was primarily domestic. The threat to the al-Saud family within Saudi Arabia comes from Sunni extremists in al-Qaeda and Isis and not from the Shia, who are only a majority in two provinces in the eastern region of the country. Furious denunciations by Shia communities and countries will do nothing but good to the reputation of the ruling family among the majority of Saudis.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

After Executing Regime Critic, Saudi Arabia Fires Up American PR Machine

    Tuesday, January 05, 2016   No comments
Saudi Arabia’s well-funded public relations apparatus moved quickly after Saturday’s explosive execution of Shiite political dissident Nimr al-Nimr to shape how the news is covered in the United States.
The execution led protestors in Shiite-run Iran to set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, precipitating a major diplomatic crisis between the two major powers already fighting proxy wars across the Middle East.

Turkey’s silence on Saudi Arabia’s execution of Shiite cleric

    Tuesday, January 05, 2016   No comments
by MEHMET Y. YILMAZ

The Middle East has gone even deeper into turmoil since “our ally” Saudi Arabia, with which we recently established a “high-level strategic council,” executed a prominent Shiite cleric.

You will remember that Turkey and Qatar also signed a military deal a short while ago, and we will construct a military base in Qatar against the “common enemy.”

Considering the 3,600 km distance between Turkey and Qatar, I recently asked who could be this “common enemy.” It is not too difficult to find the answer. The only power that Qatar is afraid of is Iran.

Now, our “high-level strategic partner” Saudi Arabia is on the verge of war with Iran. They have cut diplomatic ties; harsh statements are flying in the air.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Riyadh 'In Serious Trouble': Saudi Aggression Stems From Global Isolation

    Monday, January 04, 2016   No comments
Saudi Arabia’s decision to execute a prominent Shiite cleric over the weekend caused a firestorm. While the move seemed reckless to many, a new analysis by the Eurasia Group shows that Riyadh’s actions may be the inevitable result of its waning influence.

2015 was a bloody year for Saudi Arabia. Continuing a violent pattern, Riyadh executed over 150 people last year. On the second day of the New Year, the Kingdom killed nearly a third of that annual total in a single day, executing 47 people. One those killed was prominent Shiite Cleric Sheikh al-Nimr.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Saudi Arabia beheads 43 and fusillades 4 in one day including Shia cleric

    Saturday, January 02, 2016   No comments
Saudi Arabia beheads 43
Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shi'ite Muslim cleric and dozens of al Qaeda members on Saturday, signalling it would not tolerate attacks by either sunni jihadists or minority shi'ites seeking equality, but stirring sectarian anger across the region.

Scores of Shi'ite Muslims marched through the Qatif district of Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province in protest at the execution of cleric Nimr al-Nimra, an eyewitness said. They chanted "down with the Al Saud", the name of the ruling Saudi royal family.

But most of the 47 executed in the kingdom's biggest mass execution for decades were Sunnis convicted of al Qaeda attacks in Saudi Arabia a decade ago. Four, including Nimr, were Shi'ites accused of shooting policemen.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Turkey's Erdogan says Hitler's Germany exemplifies effective presidential system

    Friday, January 01, 2016   No comments
 Asked on his return from a visit to Saudi Arabia late on Thursday whether an executive presidency was possible in Turkey while maintaining the unitary structure of the state, Erdogan said: "There are already examples in the world. You can see it when you look at Hitler's Germany.
"There are later examples in various other countries," he told reporters, according to a recording broadcast by the Dogan news agency.

Erdogan wants to change the Turkish constitution to turn the ceremonial role of president into that of a chief executive, a Turkish version of the system in the United States, France or Russia.

U.S. Should Stop Supporting Likely Saudi War Crimes

    Friday, January 01, 2016   No comments
Crime & punishment in Saudi Arabia

By Ivan Eland

The United Nations top official on human rights recently told the U.N. Security Council that the U.S.-supported, Saudi Arabian-led coalition of Sunni nations fighting Shi’ite Houthi rebels in Yemen bore a disproportionate responsibility for attacks on civilians. Since the civil war in Yemen began in March 2015, more than 2,700 civilians have been killed and dozens of hospitals and schools have been attacked, leading the United Nations to warn of violations of international law.

The problem is that the United States is supporting the Saudi-led coalition’s air strikes by providing intelligence for targeting and also by refueling coalition’s war planes, thus extending the range of their bombing. Domestically, Saudi Arabia has a horrendous record on human rights that it is exporting to Yemen via bombing civilians there. The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein exacerbated the Sunni-Shi’ite division throughout the Islamic world, and the war in Yemen is actually a joust for influence in the Persian Gulf between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran, which are bitter regional rivals. Saudi Arabia does have substantial interests at stake in Yemen, which borders the autocratic kingdom, but the United States does not and should cease providing weapons and the aforementioned support, which is tainting the U.S. with support for a country that very well may be committing war crimes.

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