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UK training Saudi forces used to crush Arab spring

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and other news from the Arab uprisings:

UK training Saudi forces used to crush Arab spring
Britain is training Saudi Arabia’s national guard – the elite security force deployed during the recent protests in Bahrain – in public order enforcement measures and the use of sniper rifles. The revelation has outraged human rights groups, which point out that the Foreign Office recognises that the kingdom’s human rights record is “a major concern”.

Britain trained Saudi force in Bahrain: report (AFP)
AFP – Saudi troops sent into Bahrain to help quash protests received training from Britain, The Observer said Sunday, citing government documents.*

Bahraini pro-democracy female doctors reportedly abused, tortured
MANAMA — Out of prison but in fear of being rearrested, Bahraini Shiite women doctors have spoken of abuse and torture by police after being accused of backing pro-democracy protests in the Sunni-ruled monarchy. Although medics usually enjoy protection in conflicts by virtue of their profession, many Shiite doctors and nurses in Bahrain were rounded up in the March crackdown on a month-long pro-democracy protest.

Bahrain grants UN mission access (AFP)
AFP – Bahrain has agreed to host a team of UN assessors following a violent crackdown on popular protests earlier this year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said Friday.*

Bahrain parliamentarians demand treason charges after WikiLeaks
Sunni Salafist parliamentarians in Bharain Sunday called on the authorities to prosecute their former Shiite lawmaker colleagues for treason, in the wake of WikiLeaks documents suggesting the al-Wefaq opposition group met US embassy officials in Manama.

Haaretz Wikileaks exclusive / Bahrain King boasted of intelligence ties with Israel
According to latest trove of documents revealed by WikiLeaks, the Bahraini King instructed that official statements stop referring to Israel as the ‘Zionist entity’ or ‘enemy.’

Justice for Bahrain
Bahraini comrades sent me this:  ”As you may know the oppressors in Bahrain are targeting professional women arresting from their places of work or study. Many have disappeared into military style prisons and have not had access to lawyers or their families. The few who have been released report sexual attacks, verbal and physical insults and threats and other forms of torture. I attach for your attention a spreadsheet with the names of only 55 of these detainess. You will note that one of those arrested is a pregnant woman who happens to be the wife of an activist.  Many others are young women in their early 20’s. One of these young ladies is a poet and a student teacher who was arrested after 4 of her brothers were threatened at gunpoint to turn their sister in.  No other Arabic regime has used torture and arrest against women to crush protests in this systematic and brutal manner. Yet media outlets in the west and Aljazeera Arabic are largely silent on these abuses in stark and shameful contrast to the coverage given to other protests.  I ask you to urge the young women who read your blog to do whatever they can to call for the release of these detainees.”  Visit here for the “Justice for Bahrain” campaign.

Mubarak, other former Egypt officials fined $91 million for blocking cellphones, Internet
The former president, prime minister and interior minister are found guilty of ‘causing damage to the national economy,’ according to state TV. A judge fined former President Hosni Mubarak and two officials about $91 million Saturday for cutting cellphone and Internet services during the protests this winter that forced Mubarak to step down.,0,3413412.story

‘Mubarak wealth no more than $1 million. He is sad and sorry,’ says lawyer
The wealth of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is no more than $1 million and he has no assets overseas, his lawyer said on Sunday.

Egypt to expel Iranian envoy in spy probe
Diplomat to be deported within 48 hours following brief detention on allegations of espionage and setting up spy rings.

Tomorrow blogger Hossam El-Hamalawy and Reem Maged will be interrogated by the military prosecution for criticising Egypt’s ruling military on air; protests are expected.

El Arabi says Israel should be prosecuted for abuse of Palestinian prisoners
Egypt’s foreign minister, Dr Nabil El Arabi, has affirmed that the detention of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and the torture and killing of some, “represents a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convection and the principles of human rights and international humanitarian laws”. He added, “These violations require urgent investigation and the prosecution of those responsible for inhumane practices before an international tribunal.”

Egypt Lets Palestinians of Gaza Circulate, Juan Cole
took a step on Saturday toward lifting the Israeli-induced blockade of the civilian population of Gaza. Egypt, at Israeli insistence, is still blocking import of needed material such as concrete, necessary to rebuilding the 1/8 of homes destroyed by the Israelis in their illegal attack on Gaza in 2008-2009, which disregarded the welfare of noncombatants and sometimes actively targeted the latter, according to the UN Goldstone Report.

To the Zionists who want to believe that Egyptian uprising has no foreign policy concerns
“Egypt is also planning to exchange ambassadors with Iran, another source of Israeli worry that a post-Mubarak Egypt will be far less amenable to its interests. What is causing concern in Israel is, in fact, as much what the opening portends about Egypt’s new direction — and what next steps it might take toward Gaza — as the act itself.  As the deputy defense minister, Matan Vilnai, said on Israel Radio, the expected opening of the Gaza-Egypt border “is the first stage in a difficult situation that Israel will be facing.”

Egypt protesters gather for ‘second revolution’
Thousands fill Cairo’s Tahrir Square to call for the Mubarak regime’s prosecution and delayed elections. Some analysts say the rally proves Egypt’s progressives have failed to organize themselves into a unified political force. Thousands of protesters filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday for what was billed as a “second revolution,” chanting their demands: Try former President Hosni Mubarak and his cronies immediately, end military courts, replace the military government with civilian leaders, reform the constitution and delay the September elections.,0,3259585.story

Tahrir Speaks: May 27th (Photos and Videos)
Today, May 27, 2011, Egyptians took to the streets in different parts of their country to affirm their continued commitment to the revolution that began on January 25, 2011. In Tahrir Square, approximately 150,000 protesters gathered to sing, laugh, chant, and assert their various demands. Preparations for the demonstrations began late Thursday night / early Friday morning and by mid-afternoon there was no doubt that a diverse array of Egyptians wanted much more than the resignation of Husni Mubarak: they wanted a new Egypt and had very specific ideas of what that new Egypt would look like. While we had hoped to report on the protest through more prose, we found that certain themes and demands were so dominant in Tahrir Square today that it made more sense to give voice to them through videos and photos alone. Our only deliberate intervention is in the last video, which was filmed and edited by the authors, entitled “Tahrir . .

Simon Hanna, “Egypt’s ‘Second Day of Rage'” (Video)
Dubbed Egypt’s “Second Day of Rage,” this Friday protest in Tahrir could never live up to the standard set by the first one. . . . The rally drew tens of thousands to Tahrir, despite the boycott by the Muslim Brotherhood, saying that little has changed since the toppling of the former president Hosni Mubarak. “I came to Tahrir today to say that the revolution is ongoing, to say that I want the old regime prosecuted quickly, fairly, and publically. We also reject military tribunals for any civilians. I want things to get moving. It’s unacceptable that now it’s May 27 and since January 25th we’ve been demanding these things. . .” (Ehab Gamal). Among the demands of the day were replacing the interim ruling supreme council of the armed forces with a civilian government, the end of military tribunals for civilians, and the prosecution of Mubarak. “. . . Every Friday we’ll be here until we get our rights. I will not stop until I get my rights — my rights and the rights of those who died. It’s my right to prosecute the oppressor” (Mohamed Sayed Ahmed). The marches are also taking place elsewhere in the country, such as Alexandria and Suez, two cities that witnessed intense fighting on the original Day of Rage. Friday’s demonstration may not achieve the instant result of January 28th, but, by mobilizing tends of thousands of protesters demanding change, Egypt has shown once again that this revolution is far from over.

Where Egypt is at, Issandr El Amrani
The #May 27 “Second Revolution” came and went this weekend without the drama that many had expected. Turnout was pretty good — good enough to show that the ranks of those unsatisfied with the current state of affairs is plenty big, and big enough to show that the Muslim Brothers’ participation is not essential to getting a decent number of people protesting. Impressive also was that the protests took place across the country, as Zeinobia points out with her gallery of videos. Get more videos and an account at Jadaliyya. It may not be a second revolution but it’s enough to keep the SCAF on its toes and give media traction to multiple grievances: high-ranking corruption, insecurity, slow justice, heavy-handedness of the military, etc.

Al-Ahram Center
There were figures at Al-Ahram Center for Subservience to the Egyptian regime who were a staple of Egyptian Mubarak propaganda in Saudi media.  Those figures were also cited in the Western press like they were independent observers and analysts.  Those same figures are now cited in Saudi AND Western media on the Egyptian revolution and they are asked to analyze it from “the inside” as if those were not people who backed Mubarak to his last hour in office.  Who are they fooling?  Take Jamal Abdul-Jawad: this is a crude and consistent propagandist for Mubarak and yesterday he appeared in Saudi media to criticize the demonstrations in Egypt from the standpoint of the ruling unelected Military Council.

The new Egypt: Israeli judoka snubbed by Egyptian rival
“The drama began at the end of the fight, when the referee signaled a handshake between the contestants. But Darwish ignored the order and began leaving. Several moments later, after repeated requests, the Egyptian walked to the center of the mattress, bowed to the referee and left.”

The 15th May youth in Jordan call for marching to Israeli embassy in Amman
The 15th May youth in Jordan announced, in a statement on Saturday, their intention to march to the Israeli embassy in Amman next Friday to mark the 1967 Israeli aggression.

Protests in Jordan
Do you notice that the country that is least covered in terms of protests is Jordan?  Yesterday, there were demonstrations that called for the downfall of the government and they were covered widely in the Arabic press (even the reactionary media of the Arab counter-revolution) but not in the Western press. Worse, in Western media they still invite Jordanian king to speak about the aspirations of the Arab youth.  They really think that the guy is popular among young Arabs.  Hilarious.

Hundreds of women report rapes by Qaddafi forces
At first, the responses to the questionnaire about the trauma of the war in Libya were predictable, if tragic: 10,000 people suffering post-traumatic stress, 4,000 children with psychological problems.

Libyan generals defect
Tripoli, Libya (CNN) – Eight generals from embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s army have defected and are now in Italy, the Italian Foreign Ministry told CNN on Wednesday. No further information was immediately available about the defections, and the identities of the generals were not known. The news came on the same day that South African President Jacob Zuma met with Gadhafi to push for a cease-fire between Gadhafi’s forces and rebel fighters, officials said. Zuma arrived in Tripoli Monday afternoon. It is his second visit to Libya’s capital aimed at mediating an end to the fighting that began when Gadhafi dug in his heels against popular efforts to bring about an end to his 42-year-rule.

UK jets hit Gaddafi’s compound
RAF jets and other Nato forces strike a command and control centre where Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi sometimes lives.

‘Secret Libya’ talks under way
There are reports of secret channels being opened between the government of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and the UK ‘citizens’ to end the conflict, sources have told Al Jazeera.

Libyan rebels continue to struggle
Fierce fighting is continuing near the western city of Misurata in Libya. Fighters loyal to Muammar Gaddafi are once again using rockets to target opposition fighters. Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley reports from the front lines in Dafniya, Libya.

Simba Russeau, “Libya: Water Emerges as a Hidden Weapon”
In 1983, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi initiated a huge civil water works project known as the Great Man-Made River (GMMR) — a massive irrigation project that drew upon the underground basin reserves of the Kufra, Sirte, Morzuk, Hamada and the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer — to deliver more than five million cubic metres of water per day to cities along Libya’s coastal belt. “The Colonel’s GMMR project was discounted when first unveiled as an uneconomic flight of fancy and a wasteful exploitation of un-renewable freshwater reserves,” Middle East-based journalist Iason Athanasiadis told IPS. “But subsequently it was hailed as a masterful work of engineering, tapping into underground aquifers so vast that they could keep the 2007 rate of dispersal going for the next 1,000 years.” Lying beneath the four African countries Chad, Egypt, Libya and Sudan, the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System (NSAS) is the world’s largest fossil water aquifer system, covering some two million square kilometres and estimated to contain 150,000 cubic kilometres of groundwater. . . . “In a nutshell, whoever controls NSAS [Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System], controls the economies, foreign policies and destinies of several countries in the region, not just north-eastern Africa,” explains Saeedi.

Young and Bored, Behind the Wheel
In Benghazi, with few outlets for rebellion, young people gather to watch “drifting,” a risky sport in which drivers purposely lose control of their vehicles.

Hamza Al-Khateeb : 13 year old boy Tortured and Mutilated to death by Syrian regime

We are all Hamza Ali El-Khatib , Syria’s Khalid Said “Extremely Graphic”
I was not planning to write anything tonight except the coverage of #May27 but the face of Hamza and his smile makes me obliged as a human , as an Arab , as a Muslim and as an Egyptian to speak about him. Hamza is a 13 years old boy from Syria , he lived with his parents in a village called “Al Jeezah” or “Al Giza”in Daraa governorate. His tragedy started when he marched along his family in a rally to break the siege of the city of Daraa. He was detained among hundreds of Syrian during the massacre of Siada , I remember this massacre from couple of weeks ago and how horrible it was. According to my knowledge the detainees were hundreds and they were detained in schools and even football playgrounds. Now after weeks of absence Hamza returned to his family as a dead body. He returned as dead body of full of tortures marks with his genitals. Yes his body was full of torture marks and bullets !! They cut his genitals then they killed , yes according to his autopsy he was shot down after cutting his genitals.  Here is a video showing Hamza as a dead little tortured boy , I think he was being washed for the burial. This is extremely , extremely graphic video , I mean it. The genitals part was being pixelated.

Syrian troops and tanks storm two ‘rebel’ towns
Tanks launched a volley of shells and machine-gun fire during an assault on two central Syrian towns yesterday where large-scale protests have been held against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Armoured vehicles and troops stormed the towns of Talbiseh and Rastan, raking houses with fire and killing at least three people.

Syrian opposition and Israel
“Knesset Member Ayoob Kara said Saturday that Syrian opposition figures turned to him and asked that he help convince the international community to act against President Bashar Assad.”  This is why I never ever idolize wholesale an opposition movement: not in the Arab world and not in Iran.  There are lousy corrupt and reactionary trends and movement in every protest movement but it does not mean that the protest itself should be delegitimized–whether in Syria or Bahrain or Iran or in Oman, etc.  Yes, there are Hariri- and Saudi-funded reactionaries and Salafi kooks in the protest movement in Syria, but that does not mean that all those who are protesting in Syria should be dismissed as pro-Saudi or pro-Israel Salafites and reactionaries.

External conspiracy in Syria
I do watch Syrian state TV in order to look at the official propaganda of the lousy regime.  Now they refer regularly to developments in Syria: but always as “the external conspiracy” against Syria. The rhetoric is suffocatingly chauvinist Syrian nationalist (mimicking Lebanese Phoenician nationalism).  They also refer to the “criminal gangs”.  But why did we not hear of those criminal gangs before the protests?  And for a regime that bases its political legitimacy on providing security to its people, it is undermining its own claims of legitimacy with such propaganda.   One thing that bothers me about the crisis of Syria; Bashshar Al-Asad revealed himself to be a most arrogant potentate.  His speech before the puppet parliament will be taught at Damascus University in courses on “past regime propaganda.”

Yemeni tribal leader breaks with Saleh
As violence and uncertaintity continues in Yemen, there’s increasing focus on the impact of tribal alliances. Charles Stratford has this report on the role of Yemen’s most powerful tribal leader.

Deaths reported in southern Yemeni city
Six protesters said to be killed in shooting by security forces in Taiz amid heightened political tensions.

6 Yemen soldiers killed in restive city
At least six Yemeni soldiers have been killed and dozens injured in an apparent ambush as they travelled to Zinjibar, a southern city reportedly under the control of al-Qaeda fighters, a security official has said.

Yemen leader accused of allowing Islamist takeover
Hundreds of Islamic militants cemented control over a town in southern Yemen yesterday, even seizing army tanks, military officials said, while breakaway army units encouraged other military forces to switch their loyalties and join the uprising.

Yemen hits Islamic militants with airstrikes
Witnesses say Yemeni warplanes have carried out airstrikes on a southern town seized by hundreds of Islamic militants over the weekend.

Yemen opposition ‘willing to tackle al-Qaeda’

Yemen’s opposition would be willing to sign an agreement with the West to combat al-Qaeda in Yemen, if Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country’s president, steps down, according to an opposition official. Abdel Rahman Ba Fadel, a member of Yemen’s opposition Islah party, told Al Jazeera that the country’s opposition had contacted the office of the US ambassador in Yemen to this effect.

S Arabia protects Saleh: Yemen opp
Ali al-Mamari, spokesman for the Yemeni’s opposition Coalition for Youth Revolution, said Saudis intend to save Saleh’s regime from collapse, because they fear if the still-unfolding revolution succeeds in Yemen, the tide of awakening would ultimately engulf Saudi Arabia itself.

Power play
Yemen’s Saleh holds out for a better deal.


Regional rivalries emerge from Arab Spring
Behind the Arab Spring lie its secrets. Turkey and Qatar have now developed a passionate anger towards Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime – the Turks even planning for a “safe haven” inside Syrian territory if they fear a tide of refugees approaching the Turkish border – while Gulf Arabs suspect Algeria may be secretly re-arming Libya.

G8 ‘Marshall Plan’ for Arab Spring Nations Falls Short, Juan Cole
The 8 wealthiest industrial countries, meeting at the G-8, urged that the world give Egypt, Tunisia and liberated Libya (‘emerging democracies in the Arab world’) some $40 billion in aid. The sum will make headlines but there is less to it than meets the eye.

The guilt of Arab children
Comrade Joseph writes:  ”What is it about Jewish and Arab children that privileges the first and spurns the second in the speeches of President Barack Obama, let alone in the Western media more generally? Are Jewish children smarter, prettier, whiter? Are they deserving of sympathy and solidarity, denied to Arab children, because they are innocent and unsullied by the guilt of their parents, themselves often referred to as “the children of Israel”? Or, is it that Arab children are dangerous, threatening, guilty, even dark and ugly, a situation that can only lead to Arabopaedophobia – the Western fear of Arab children? Innocence and childhood are common themes in Western political discourse, official and unofficial. While it is a truism to state that since the end of European colonialism the US and Europe have been, at the official and unofficial levels, friendly to and supportive of the Zionist colonial project and hostile to Palestinians and Arabs in their resistance to Zionism, the expectation would be that a West that insists rhetorically on the “universalism” of its values would show at least a rhetorical commitment to the equality of Arab and Jewish children as victims of the violence visited on the region by Zionist colonialism and the resistance to it. Yet, the only Western sympathy manifest is to Jewish children as symbols of Zionist and Israeli innocence. This Western sympathy is deployed primarily to denounce Arab guilt, including the guilt of Arab children.”

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