Bahrain Grand Prix staff are held and abused, still Grand Prix says race must go on

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and other news from the Arab uprisings:

Bahraini doctors and nurses charged
Medical staff who treated protesters accused of plotting to overthrow kingdom’s monarchy amid reports of more violence.

Bahrain medics accused of treason
Dozens of doctors and nurses who treated injured anti-government protesters during the months of unrest in Bahrain have gone on trial accused of trying to overthrow the monarchy.

Bahrain police clash with Shi’ite religious marchers (Reuters)
Reuters – Bahraini police clashed with Shi’ite marchers in a religious festival late on Sunday, less than a week after the Gulf kingdom repealed an emergency law that quashed weeks of protests.*

Bahrain police open fire at protesters in capital (AP)
AP – Bahraini police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters marching toward the landmark Pearl Square in the country’s capital Friday, two days after authorities lifted emergency rule.*

Bahrain police disperse Shiite-led march: activist (AFP)
AFP – Bahraini police dispersed a small group of Shiites who marched Friday towards Pearl Square, focal point of protests which the regime demolished during a crackdown on protesters in mid-March, activists said.*

Bahrain crown prince to visit Washington
Bahrain’s crown prince will arrive in Washington next week for an official visit as his country seeks to return to normalcy following the lifting of the emergency law earlier this week. Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa will meet with President Barack Obama and other senior U.S. officials, according to three sources with knowledge of the visit. The crown prince is perceived to be one of the more liberal figures in the ruling regime, and he supports granting opposition groups a greater say in how the country is governed.

Al Jalabi calls on Saudi Forces to withdraw from Bahrain
Head of Iraq’s National Congress Party Ahmad Al Jalabi called on Saudi Forces to withdraw from Bahrain. Al Jalabi urged the Bahraini government to resolve the crisis peacefully, stop the killing and release detainees.

Bahrainis hold female activist funeral
Bahraini protesters have held the funeral of a female activist ahead of the nation’s planned massive anti-government rallies on Friday. The body of Zainab Al-Tajar was buried in the populous area of Sanabis, near the capital city of Manama on Friday morning, the Financial Times reported.

‘Bahrain fires staff on protest suspicion’
The Bahraini regime has dismissed hundreds of professionals over suspicions of their participation in anti-government protests in the Persian Gulf country. The government has accused many people working at state-run companies and organizations of leaving work to join protests and fired them from their jobs, local activists told Reuters.

‘At around 7pm he was told to strip naked and was again beaten severely’
This is the account of one Shia member of staff at the Bahrain International Circuit, which hosts the Grand Prix, who was arrested in April. Still suffering from injuries inflicted by his interrogators, he has now left the country. He wishes to remain anonymous and is referred to as AB throughout:

Webber at odds with Bahrain decision (AFP)
AFP – Australian Red Bull driver Mark Webber said Saturday he was deeply uncomfortable with the decision to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix into the 2011 world championship calendar and forecast the decision could yet founder.*

Protests simmer as Bahrain wins back Formula One (Reuters)
Reuters – Bahrain scored a public relations coup on Friday by winning back its Formula One Grand Prix, canceled earlier this year after pro-democracy protests erupted in the Gulf Arab island kingdom.*

Bahrain lobbies to retain Grand Prix as Formula One staff are held and abused
Formula One is expected to rule today on Bahrain’s attempt to stage a coveted Grand Prix this season despite police arresting and abusing one quarter of the local staff during a crackdown against pro-democracy protests

Patrick Cockburn: Only winners from brutal repression of Shia majority will be Saudi Arabia
How to explain the ferocity of the Bahraini al-Khalifa royal family’s assault on the majority of its own people? Despite an end to martial law, the security forces show no signs of ceasing to beat detainees to the point of death, threaten schoolgirls with rape and force women to drink bottles of urine. The systematic use of torture in Bahrain has all the demented savagery of the European witch trials in the 16th and 17th centuries. In both cases, interrogators wanted to give substance to imagined conspiracies by extracting forced confessions. In Europe, innocent women were forced to confess to witchcraft, while in Bahrain the aim of the torturers is to get their victims to admit to seeking to overthrow the government. Often they are accused of having treasonous links with Iran, something for which the New York-based Human Rights Watch says there is “zero evidence”.

Nazeeha Saeed’s Ordeal, PATRICK COCKBURN
Bahrain is seeking to stage the Formula One motor race, whose organizers meet today in Barcelona to decide where it will take place, despite police arresting and abusing a quarter of the local staff of the event. The race was postponed in February because of pro-democracy protests and the government is eager to have it rescheduled in Bahrain later this year to show that life in the island kingdom is returning to normal.

Continuing Bahraini State Terror, Steve Lendman
For months, Bahraini and Saudi security forces targeted nonviolent protesters and activists wanting the repressive Al Khalifa monarchy replaced by constitutionally elected government, political freedom, and social justice, what Bahrainis never had and don’t now.

Khaled Said : One Year searching for lost right leads to a revolution
Today is the anniversary of Khaled Said’s murder , on that day after noon he was stalked by these two detective and was beaten to death by them in the street. After couple of days we began to hear his story from Alexandria from Dr. Ayman Nour in his column in Dostor then after few days we saw the shocking pictures of Khaled. On 10/6/ I wrote the first chronicle about Khaled Said’s case chronicles after hesitation of publishing his photos. Today Khaled’s mom Mrs. Laila visited his tomb in the morning in Alexandria. I can’t hold my tears when I see this lady or any martyr’s mom now.

Remembering Khaled Said’s murder
Next Monday 6th of June 2011 will mark the first anniversary of Khaled Said’s murder , it is the first anniversary after one year , a very special year that did not change the course of history in Egypt but rather the course of history in the Middle East. What began as a simple silent stand at the Alexandrian famous corniche attracting for the first time the silent middle class of Egypt ended by a remarkable revolution. Now next Monday 6th of June 2011 The “We are all Khaled Said” page is calling for a silent stand across the country to mark the anniversary of Khaled Said at 5 PM for one hour. Of course after the three alleged torture incidents ended with Yesterday Azbakia driver activists decided to have a stand in front of the ministry of interior itself at the same time. The stand has a list of demands like having a judicial supervision on police stations and the new national security agency and prosecuting all the officers responsible for torture cases in Egypt.

Egypt sentences former finance minister
Youssef Boutros-Ghali, tried in absentia, is ordered to serve 30 years in jail and pay over $5m.

Egypt’s interior minister denies giving Mubarak special treatment
Interior Minister El-Eissawi denies that Egypt’s interim ‎government is dragging its feet to transfer ousted president Hosni Mubarak to Tora Prison.

Three judges in Egypt investigated after publicly criticizing the military
The country’s justice ministry is investigating three judges who spoke out against the military trials of civilians in Egypt. The judges publicly criticized transferring civilians to criminal courts, al-Ahram newspaper reported.

Fury over advert claiming Egypt revolution as Vodafone’s
Video scorned because phone company obeyed Mubarak’s order to shut down network during protests

Egypt military quizzes reporters over Islamist deal story
CAIRO (AFP) – Military prosecutors questioned a newspaper editor and a journalist on Friday over a report alleging Egypt’s military would back an Islamist group in elections, a source said.

Independents contact Egypt to contain Rafah crisis
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A coalition of independent figures are holding talks with Egypt to overcome obstacles preventing Palestinians from crossing at the Rafah terminal between Egypt and Gaza. The group is asking people to be patient while the Egyptian side resumes operations via the crossing as planned, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the week excluding Fridays and holidays.

Egypt’s Tantawi, Barak discuss Shalit deal
Defense minister’s talk with Egypt’s military leader suggests progress in prisoner swap deal that aims to free captive soldier.,7340,L-4078625,00.html

Trial to strip Gamal Mubarak and Elbaradei of Egyptian nationality delayed
The trial for the petition to drop Gamal Mubarak and presidential hopeful, ElBaradei’s Egyptian citizenship (therefore excluding them from running for president) has been postponed to 19 June

Poll: Egypt optimistic but worried about jobs
Two new surveys find Egyptians optimistic about their political future but worried about the economy and crime.

Future of Arab uprisings
The future of Arab uprisings hinges on what happens in Egypt.  If Egyptian rebels push forward against the Military Council they will surely inspire half uprisings or quarter uprisings to progress.  As things stand now, it does not look pretty as the Saudi-Qatari Counter-revolutionary council mange the Yemeni and Libyan uprising, and Saudi Arabia seems to have purchased Tantawi’s lousy junta.

Saudi Arabia and Egyptian laborers
Egyptian newspapers reported last week that Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Manpower Adel Fakieh told a gathering of businessmen at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce that his country would not renew work permits for foreign laborers who have been in Saudi Arabia for more than six years. The statement immediately raised concerns in official Egyptian circles over the potential negative impact of such a decision. According to the chairman of the union of companies employing Egyptian workers abroad, 2.5 million Egyptians work Saudi Arabia, 70 percent of whom have been working there for over six years. In other words, about 1.5 million workers could be threatened with expulsion, thus increasing the unemployment rate in Egypt.

Iraqi activist: PM paints protesters as terrorists (AP)
AP – A leading Iraqi human rights organizer who confronted the prime minister on national TV says he is trying to paint legitimate protesters as terrorists.*

Baghdad residents demonstrate in Tahrir Square
Tens of Baghdad residents demonstrated in Al Tahrir Square on Friday calling for comprehensive reforms in Iraq and to improve services in the country. Protesters urged to free 4 people who were arrested last Friday.

Jordan protesters step up calls for PM to resign
About 3,000 people take to the streets in seven cities across Jordan; pro-reform activists say PM has taken a lenient approach toward corruption and is not serious about political reform.

Kuwait protesters demand PM’s removal
Thousands rally in Gulf state seeking dismissal of government, parliament’s dissolution and snap polls.

NATO helicopters join Libya mission
French and British helicopters attack targets around Port Brega, the first use of such aircraft in the NATO campaign. Rebel leaders hail the move, but it is unclear whether it will signal a new rebel offensive. French and British attack helicopters hit targets in Libya in the first use of such aircraft as part of the NATO-led campaign against the government of Moammar Kadafi, authorities said Saturday.,0,7892930.story

Muammar Gaddafi’s Troops Hit By British, French Airstrikes In Libya
BENGHAZI, Libya — British Apache and French attack helicopters struck targets for the first time in NATO’s campaign in Libya, hitting Moammar Gadhafi’s troops early Saturday near a key coastal oil town, the alliance said. Hours later, at least eight airstrikes were heard in Tripoli. The action was a significant step-up in NATO’s operations and a major boost to Libyan rebels, just a day after rebel fighters forced government troops from three western towns and broke the siege of a fourth in yet another erosion of Gadhafi’s power since the eruption in mid-February of the uprising to end his 42-year rule.

Tunisia finds 150 bodies from refugee vessels
The bodies of 150 African refugees fleeing turmoil in Libya have been recovered off the Tunisian coast after the vessels carrying them illegally to Europe got into difficulty, a U.N. official said Friday.

Qatar deportation of Eman al-Obeidi violates international law
Al-Obeidi, who publically accused Libyan soldiers of rape, has been deported to eastern Libya against her will.

Libyan ‘rape victim’ heads to US
Libyan Eman al-Obeidi, who said she was raped by Col Gaddafi’s supporters, has left eastern Libya for the US, according to her sister.

Iman al-Obeidi, Libya Woman Claiming Rape, Deported BackTo Libya
BENGHAZI — A U.N. official says a Libyan woman who claims she was gang-raped by Moammar Gadhafi’s troops has been deported from Qatar, where she sought refuge. Sybella Wilkes, spokeswoman for the United Nations’ refugee organization, says Iman al-Obeidi is now in Benghazi. Wilkes said Thursday that al-Obeidi was a recognized refugee and that there wasn’t any “good reason” why she was deported from Doha, where she sought refuge last month. Al-Obeidi made headlines in March when she rushed distraught into Tripoli’s Rixos Hotel, seeking to speak to foreign reporters. She claimed she was detained by a number of Gadhafi troops at a Tripoli checkpoint and raped. As she told her story, al-Obeidi was tackled by government minders and dragged from the hotel.

NATO jets target Libyan capital
Raids on army vehicles and ammunition depots in Tripoli follow announcement of extension of alliance’s Libyan mission.

NATO renews airstrikes after extending Libya mission by three months
NATO’s extension of its intervention in Libya comes amid a slew of defections from Tripoli. Can Qaddafi hang on?

Thousands missing in Libya
In Misrata, pro-Gaddafi soldiers have fought with opposition forces for over two months. Estimates suggest they also abducted more than twelve hundred people during their occupation. Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley reports.

Libyan revolutionaries deny Israeli relations talks
The National Transitional Council, the political body leading the Libyan revolution, denied claims that if in power, it would seek diplomatic ties with Israel.

The Libyan Transitional Council and Israel
I detest the Libyan Transitional Council but I detest even more Bernard-Henri Lévy, and find him to be fabricator of the first order.  Regarding claims he has made about a message from the lousy Libyan Transitional Council to Israel, I was skeptical.  Sure enough the Libyan council said this:  ”The vice-chairman of the Libyan opposition National Transition Council (NTC), Mr Abdelhafid Roka, has denied in a statement to Echorouk the persisting rumours alleging that the NTC is envisaging to establish relations with Israel in the future.  ”I firmly deny as baseless the recent declaration made to this effect by French writer and philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy on behalf of the Libyan national transition council”, Roka asserted.   He stressed that the NTC had never asked Henri Levy to convey any message of this sort to the Zionist entity leaders as alleged by the troublesome French writer and philosopher… Abdelhafid Roka further underlined that such groundless assertions were being propagated by the despotic Kadhafi regime and its henchmen with the glaring aim of tarnishing the image of the national transition council in the eyes of the fervent supporters of the legitimate Palestinian cause in the Arab world and elsewhere.”

Libya Rebels Going Broke Despite Pile Of Gold
BENGHAZI, Libya — Abdalgader Albagrmi’s office sits above a vault piled high with gold. It’s the dwindling pile of cash next to the bullion, however, that keeps the Libyan rebels’ deputy Central Bank chief up at night. As that pile shrinks, so too does the chance of funding and sustaining a revolution to oust one of the world’s longest-serving dictators.

Moroccans hold peaceful protest despite government ban
RABAT — Hundreds of young Moroccans on Sunday flouted a government ban and held a peaceful pro-democracy rally in Rabat as authorities promised not to crack down on protesters, officials and demonstrators said.

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia’s Women2Drive campaign is up against society
Manal al-Sharif’s protest over women’s right to drive leaves her open to smears and mud slinging. The issue must be politicised. Manal al-Sharif, the woman who attracted global attention to the Saudi Women2Drive campaign when she posted videos of herself driving on YouTube, was released earlier this week from Dammam prison.

Madawi Al-Rasheed, ed., “Kingdom without Borders: Saudi Arabia’s Political, Religious, and Media Frontiers”
Saudi Arabia realised the importance of the media — first in print, and later in images — for its expansionist projects. From the early Arab and English monographs commissioned and written in the 1930s and 1940s to establish the historical and contemporary credentials of the state, to the recent media empires of the 1980s, vast sums of money were invested in promoting the country’s image and agenda. Investing oil wealth in appropriating the Arab media and intellectual public spheres to ensure publicity, silence criticism and co-opt dissenting voices led to what is often referred to as ‘petrodollar’ media’. From Cairo to Beirut and later London and Washington, Saudi-owned media sold to Arab audiences stories, interpretations and commentaries whose main objective was to denounce rivals, promote allies and generate consensus over Saudi expansion in distant locales. Saudi overseas media brought money, politics and religion in a unified chorus, whose drums echoed among Arab immigrants in the suburbs of London, Paris and Washington, as well as in the cities of the Middle East, Africa and Asia. . . .

How dumb is it to expect Hillary Clinton to take up the cause of Saudi women? How dumb?
“Saudi activists have written an open letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a champion of women’s rights around the world, urging her to publicly press Saudi Arabia to let women drive.”

Syrian security forces ‘shoot 31 people dead’
Syrian security forces have shot dead 31 people since Friday during demonstrations in a town in the north-west, residents say.

Syrian troops ‘kill 13 civilians’
Syrian forces killed at least 13 civilians in the central town of Rastan yesterday, activists said, in the latest attempt to quell a revolt against the 11-year rule of the President Bashar al-Assad.

SYRIA: Big cities remain ambivalent as regime brutality takes its toll
While the regime of President Bashar Assad has cracked down on smaller cities in Syria, residents of the nation’s large cities, including Aleppo and the capital Damascus, seem ambivalent about staging mass protests.

Syria Internet Cut Off In Some Regions As Central Town Pounded
BEIRUT — A Syrian rights group says security forces opened fire during one of the largest anti-government protests so far in the 10-week revolt, killing at least eight people. Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says tens of thousands of people were protesting in Hama when security forces opened fire.

Syrian activists protest in Turkey
Syrian opposition activists raise the flag of independence in the Turkish city of Antalya in this video clip taken by Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Vall. The protest came as a group of opposition leaders held a conference in the city to forge a plan on supporting the uprising.

breaking news on Syrian regime TV
Syrian regime TV has this breaking news flash:  ”Armed people block the roads in Nazihin quarter in Homs and set government buildings on fire, and attack the people.”  On the one hand, “life is normal”–they keep reporting, and then they air such breaking news stories.  The regime is undermining its own sources of ostensible legitimacy: that it alone can protect the people. But they are now admitted they can no more protect the people.

Lies of the Syrian regime
Now there is no question, that AlJazeera has now become nothing less than a full propaganda voice for NATO and the Arab counter-revolution.  Its reports are more sermons and preachments and calls for mobilization than standard journalism which the network was known for.  Having said that, Syrian regime TV is even worse.  The Syrian regime has become more imaginative in weaving lies and fabrications and theatrics.  It is like reading a fiction story.  They shoot at demonstrators in Hamah and then they have a “breaking news” flash in which they talk about a mysterious armed group which suddenly shows up at a time of demonstration and then start shooting at both demonstrators and police force members (they are always “police” in Syrian regime TV broadcast as Syria does not have a brutal mukhabarat force, according to the regime).  They talk to people in different parts of the country affirming that “life is normal” everywhere.  But how do they square their claims of “life is normal” with their own reports of a roving “criminal gang” moving around the country and shooting at people?  They need to synchronize their lies, for potato’s sake.

As’ad AbuKhalil, “Muslim Brotherhood and US Representatives at Syrian Opposition Conference in Antalya, Turkey”
The Muslim Brotherhood ran the conference in Antalya and the statement that spoke about the “civil state” is not going to fool me because US representatives in Antalya (yes they were there) pressed for an inclusive statement. This is exactly what the US tried to do in conferences by the Iraqi exile opposition before the Ayatullah Sistani republic was set up in Iraq.

The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony and the Burial of the Martyrs: Syrian Dances in the Arab Spring
[August 10th, 2009] Bosra is on fire. Red lights shine through the night in the ancient Roman amphitheatre. The smoke pours onto the stage, where the famous pop singer, Ali al-Deek, and his orchestra have set the audience and the stage on metaphorical fire. Everyone is dancing: old men in traditional attire, women with children in their hands, with or without hijab on their hair, young men and women in groups, people in the front rows, at the back, on the stairs, officials, guests and dignitaries along with ordinary, village people. The impressive Roman theatre of Bosra, one of the world’s best preserved, located in the municipality of Dar’a, is filled beyond its fifteen hundred capacity.

Yemen: States Should Freeze Officials’ Assets
(Tunis) – The Yemeni government’s escalating violence against largely peaceful protesters and medical workers should prompt countries around the world to freeze foreign assets of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his top security officials, Human Rights Watch said today. Other countries should also ban all exports of arms and security equipment to Yemen, Human Rights Watch said.

Arab Spring claims its third despot
The uprisings sweeping the Arab world appeared to have won their third victory over authoritarian rule by overthrowing President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen after 33 years in power. He left for Saudi Arabia on Saturday to be treated for injuries received in an explosion in his presidential palace and is unlikely to return.

Saleh is gone. What next for Yemen?
The president’s departure for medical treatment has created an opportunity to resolve Yemen’s political crisis. With the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, Yemenis now have a chance to resolve the political crisis that has bedevilled the country since February.

Saleh undergoes surgery as Yemen rejoices
Protesters celebrate what they say is fall of president after he travels to Riyadh for medical treatment for injuries.

Yemeni officials trying to flee the country following president’s departure
Yemeni media outlets have reported that a number of officials in the regime are trying to flee the country following the departure of President Ali Abdallah Saleh. The reports say that he has gone to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment, having been wounded in a raid against the presidential palace.

Battle rages in Yemeni capital
Heavy fighting continues across Sanaa, with witnesses saying security forces have fired live bullets at protesters.

Thousands flee fighting in Yemen’s capital
SANAA (AFP) – Thousands of residents were fleeing the Yemeni capital on Friday as deadly clashes between dissident tribesmen and loyalist troops raged for a fourth straight day leaving bodies littering the streets. The headquarters of national airline Yemenia were burnt down in fierce fighting through the night, an AFP correspondent reported.

Video: Yemen airport on fire
The headquarters of Yemeni Airways has been engulfed in flames amidst fierce fighting in the capital Sanaa.

US envoy embarks on mission to halt Yemen sliding into civil war
Fighting between forces loyal to the Yemeni President and one of the country’s most influential tribes intensified yesterday as an American envoy flew to the region in an attempt to stop the country from plunging into a bloody civil war. At least 135 people have died in clashes in the capital, Sanaa, in the past 10 days, the bloodiest period since a popular uprising calling for political reform started in January.

Feud within key Yemen tribe could tear nation apart
If Yemen collapses, the fuse will have been lighted by a war pitting President Ali Abdullah Saleh against his senior clansman, analysts say, not pro-democracy protests or other challenges to his rule. The unrest shaking Yemen began months ago as part of the idealistic movement for democracy and political reform sweeping the Middle East and North Africa. It is now a battle of money, power and egos within a single powerful clan that threatens to tear the country apart.,0,6161531.story

Other Mideast/Analysis & Op-ed
Iran not a nuclear threat, says Pulitzer Prize winning journalist
In an interview with Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh warned that the United States’ “aggressive” sanction policy against Iran was aimed at halting a nuclear weapons program that does not exist. “Clearly the sanction policy is aimed at trying to force Iran to change its foreign policy — not regime change, that’s not going to happen,” he said. “Bush might have been interested in regime change, Obama is not.”

Seymour Hersh on the Arab Spring, “Disaster” U.S. Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the Looming Crisis in Iraq
Veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh assesses the popular uprisings sweeping the Middle East and North Africa amidst ongoing U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Despite touted gains and an upcoming U.S. military withdrawal deadline in Iraq, Hersh says, “Whatever you’re hearing, Iraq is going bad… It’s sectarian war. And the big question is going to be whether we pull out or not.” On the uprisings, Hersh says Saudi Arabia, fearing an overthrow of the regional order, is driving the embattled regimes’ attempts to crush the protests. [includes rush transcript]

Arms bonanza
Arab spring brings cheer to global weapons industry.

The Determination of the Arab Revolutions, ESAM AL-AMIN
After the relatively swift triumphs of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions in deposing their dictators earlier this year, other Arab dictators drew a different set of lessons than their populations did. Fed up with decades of repression, corruption, and the break down of state institutions, as well as the complete loss of faith in any meaningful political or social reforms in their societies, people across the Arab world this spring have waged simultaneous mass movements to force sweeping changes.

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