Saudis, Bahrainis protest Saudi killing of demonstrator


This 30 September 2014 is about a demonstration in Bahrain, protesting against the killing of a demonstrator in Saudi Arabia.

From Middle East Eye:

Protests erupt in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain after killing of man dubbed ‘terrorist’

Tuesday 30 September 2014 23:26 BST

An eastern province of Saudi Arabia has erupted in protest on Tuesday night after the funeral of Bassem al-Qadihi, who activists say was killed during a peaceful protest, but who Saudi authorities allege was involved in “terrorist crimes.”

While the Saudi establishment denounces peaceful demonstrators as ‘terrorists’, they have a history of supporting the real terrorists of ISIS.

Hundreds of mourners thronged the streets of the restive majority-Shiite province of Qatif in a mass funeral procession for Qadihi, amid reports of a fierce gun-battle between Saudi security forces and people protesting Qadihi’s killing.

The Saudi Interior Ministry announced on 26 September that Qadihi has been arrested, having been wanted on allegations that he launched armed attacks on civilians and security personnel and incited young people to violence.

A day later, local media reported that Qadihi had died in hospital as a result of injuries sustained during his arrest.

According to al-Akhbar, Qadihi was injured along with nine others when security forces, driving unmarked cars, fired live ammunition at a demonstration organised to protest the ongoing detention of prominent cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Activists on social media told the newspaper that Qadihi was taken to hospital, but that security forces later checked him out and took him to an unknown location, where he died.

The Interior Ministry gave no statement on the incident at that time, but later announced simply that security services had tracked down the “fugitive” Qadihi, who had been “involved in leading a number of terrorist operations.”

The statement made no mention of reports that Qadihi had been killed.

Protests in the wake of Qadihi’s funeral were not limited to the eastern areas of Saudi Arabia – activists in Bahrain also took to the streets in a solidarity demonstration on Tuesday night.

They shouted “your martyr is our martyr” and carried a huge banner bearing an image of Qadihi’s face and the slogan “all solidary with you, Qatif.”

The Shiite minority of Saudi Arabia, which make up the majority of the population in Qatif, have long complained of violations of their rights by the central government.

Human Rights Watch alleges that the Saudi government “systematically discriminates against its Shiite citizens”, citing poor access to public education and government employment alongside unequal treatment in the justice system.

Lizards in Saudi Arabia


This video is called Reptile Classification Project – Biology.

In Saudi Arabia, there is not just lots of oil, an absolute monarchy and courageous human rights activists, but also wildlife.

By John M. Regan:

Herping The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Imagine a land with lizards so large and numerous that you can spot them from a speeding car as they pop up from their burrows. A country where lizards are so prevalent that they scatter away from your approaching footsteps like a school of lakeside minnows. If this tickles your lacertilian fancy, then you owe it to yourself to visit Saudi Arabia, a place where lizards rule.

If only that would be literally true; then, there would not be those beheadings.

Herping the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The largest country in the Middle East, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a huge chunk of desert about one-fifth the size of the United States. It is bordered on the north by Iraq and Iran; Yemen and Oman round out its southern tip. To the east and west sit the strategic waterways of the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. Ruled by King Abdullah, son of the first Saudi king, Saudi Arabia is truly a monarchy. The country is a predominately harsh desert with no running waterways or large permanent bodies of water. Summer temperatures regularly exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and barely 2 percent of the country is arable. Yet with 20 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, it is a country of enormous geopolitical and economic importance.

There are at least 100 lizard species in Saudi Arabia, many perhaps unknown in the west. The Saudis are not known as great naturalists, and species identification is a challenge. Geckos of almost pure white emerge at night, and big pot-bellied geckos haunt wadi caves. Large desert monitors prowl the land as well. For any reptile enthusiast, Saudi Arabia is a potential treasure trove. …

For sightseeing and herping in the Riyadh area, two locations are in the absolute must-see category: Thumamah and the Tuwayq Mountains. Thumamah is a Saudi national park that is an intriguing complex of cliffs, deep wadis and hidden valleys. In addition to being fertile herping grounds, Thumamah is a fossil hunter’s dream. Entire hillsides are comprised of the fossilized remains of coral, shells and sponges. Plush Bedouin-style tents are available for overnight stays. The Tuwayq Mountains, also known as the “Edge of the World,” is an astounding ridge of desert cliffs that stop abruptly and overlook a desert plain that seems to go on to infinity. …

The Riyadh Escarpment, a dramatic curving line of spectacular desert cliffs, runs from north to south along the west side of the city. The scenery is stunning and the fauna in the area is just as dazzling. A single day’s outing reveals everything from camel spiders to baboons. Wolves and hyenas prowl; owls, falcons and eagles soar. Reptiles abound.

The Lizards of Saudi Arabia

But lizards rule. Geckos colored from shades of pink to white run about inside and outside of homes, and they inhabit every crack and crevice of backyards by the dozens. In the desert, the supremacy of lizards is even more evident. In fact, the lizard population is so large that a dedicated observer can soon learn to gauge the temperature of the day simply by identifying the species of lizard that happens to be out at a particular time. It is as though the lizards have taken over the role of rodents in this austere climate.

Geckos and agamids boast the largest variety of species, with the nod toward sheer numbers going to the geckos. Agamids, however, hold the size title. The largest and most famous of the Saudi agamids is the Egyptian uromastyx (Uromastyx aegyptia), also known as the dhub. With an adult length of 2 feet and a hefty 7- to 10-pound weight, the Egyptian uromastyx is the largest lizard species in Saudi and the most well known. They have long been a favorite at the Saudi dinner table. Bedouin desert dwellers are experts at smoking the reptiles out of their den and making a snack out of the lizard’s tail.

Those countless years of hunting have made the Egyptian uromastyx a very wary animal. Despite their size and squat appearance, they are extraordinarily fast and race to their burrow at the first inkling of danger. Catching one in the open is not an easy task. Finding them, however, is hardly a challenge. As the morning heat rises to about 90 degrees — cool by Saudi standards — the Egyptian uromastyx begin to emerge. They are so large and their burrows so distinctive that they are easy to see even when you’re rolling along at a moderate speed in a car. Their resemblance to prairie dogs is remarkable. Like prairie dogs, they are plant eaters. These stout lizards normally exhibit a dull desert-beige color, but in the spring, females display their finery and show off a beautiful variation of vivid yellow-and-black mating colors.

Another large agamid is Agama blandfordi. Bearing a marked resemblance in color and body type to bearded lizards, A. blandfordi reaches 10 inches in length and is just as noticeable a part of the desert landscape as the Egyptian uromastyx. Yet unlike the easily spooked Egyptian uro, these agamids are extraordinarily approachable. Their distinctive profiles grace exposed rocks, dirt mounds and scrub brushes as they calmly bask during the hottest part of the desert day. Perhaps this is the key to their approachability — they simply aren’t used to seeing other living things stirring in this heat. Photographing an A. blandfordi is as easy as driving your vehicle up to its basking rock and clicking the shutter. They can be approached on foot just as easily.

Although A. blandfordi initially appears as a lizard-shaped extension of light-gray rock, a closer look reveals unique wavy patterns of long, dark bands that run the entire length of the animal’s body. At the base of the lizard’s tail, the stripes are interrupted by brown-gray bands. The legs and feet, right down to the animal’s claws, also display this classic camouflage strategy.

Egyptian uromastyx excepted, this nonchalance in the presence of humans seems to be the case with many of the agamid species in the area. The smaller and much prettier spotted toad-headed agama (Phrynocephalus maculatus) prefers rocky landscapes in more moderate heat. These slender lizards often sit very still and allow the photographer to belly crawl all around while snapping close-up after close-up.

On the other end of the size scale are a number of small, American-anole-shaped lizards that inhabit a variety of desert niches. The delicately designed Hadramaut sand lizard (Mesalina adramitana) stretches out to just 2 inches. This diminutive reptile is a marvelous example of adaptation to extreme conditions. They are most common in areas of small, pancake-shaped rocks devoid of vegetation or anything approaching moisture. No bigger than a medium-sized dragonfly, this little lizard comes out at nearly the height of midday heat. Fast and perfectly camouflaged in sandy beige, it is a difficult animal to spot. At first you think the heat and bland terrain are playing tricks on your eyes. Eventually you realize that those tiny, light-brown flickers in your peripheral vision are actually this small lizard. The obvious food source for the sand lizard is small insects, while there are several Saudi scorpions that will just as easily make a meal out of the sand lizard.

Free Saudi human rights activist Waleed Abulkhair


This video is called Human Rights Lawyer In Saudi Arabia Gets 15 Years.

From Avaaz.org:

Saudi Minister of Interior Prince Mohammed bin Nayef Al Saud: Release Human Rights Activist Waleed Abulkhair

Why this is important to me

Waleed Abulkhair was jailed because of defending human rights in Saudi Arabia and for practising his simplest right in freedom of speech.

Abulkhair was facing two trials. On February 4, 2014, the Court of Appeals in Mekkah, approved a 3-month sentence for charges of contempt of the judiciary against Abulkhair. However, Waleed remained free.

On April 15 2014, Waleed got arrested in the Specialized Criminal Court when he was attending the fifth session of the trial. His family did not receive any news about him until the next day, when his wife went to the court and was told that he had been arrested and sent to Al-Ha’ir Prison. His wife then visited Al-Ha’ir Prison and was denied speaking to him.

The second trial of Abulkhair started on November 4, 2013 and the charges included breaking allegiance to the ruler, disrespecting the authorities, creating an unauthorized association and supervising it (MHRSA), contributing to the establishment of another (ACPRA) and inciting the public opinion. These charges had already been considered in Jeddah Court at the first trial which issued his 3-month sentence.

On 22 April 2014, one week after his arrest, his wife said that he was under “torture for political purposes.”

On July 7, 2014, Abulkhair was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, followed by 15 years of ban on travel. The Specialised Criminal Court in Jiddah found him guilty of “undermining the regime and officials”, “inciting public opinion” and “insulting the judiciary.” In addition, Abulkhair was fined 200,000 riyals (£31,110).

The ruling was criticized by international human rights organizations such as HRW and Amnesty International. In addition, it was criticized by both the U.S. Department of State and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Posted August 31, 2014

Cameron spying more on British citizens, on Saudi autocracy’s advice


This video from Britain is called NEWSNIGHT: Glenn Greenwald full interview on Snowden, NSA, GCHQ and spying.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

David Cameron gives spy agencies power to vet airline flight lists

All airline passengers’ civil liberties would be affected by this, not just the tiny minority of (wannabe) ISIS fighters

New access granted as Saudi king says Europe faces attack unless it acts fast

Nicholas Watt

Sunday 31 August 2014 21.07 BST

David Cameron will make it easier for intelligence agencies to access information about airline passengers and announce measures to intensify cooperation with Turkey and Germany as the government moves to stem the flow of British-born jihadis travelling to and from Syria and Iraq.

As the king of Saudi Arabia warned that terror groups would attack Europe in the next month unless they were confronted with “power and speed”, the prime minister will hold a final round of talks with Nick Clegg on Monday before outlining the package of measures to parliament.

The prime minister and his deputy have reached broad agreement on plans to make it easier to strip suspected jihadis of their passports in Britain and to improve the flow of data about airline passengers to the intelligence agencies.

But Clegg and Cameron will try to resolve differences on possible plans to impose a temporary ban on British-born jihadis returning to Britain and plans to tighten up terrorism prevention and investigation measures (Tpims), the successor to control orders.

Signs of coalition tensions were highlighted when Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon and Sir Menzies Campbell, two former leaders of the Liberal Democrats, criticised Cameron’s response on Friday to the decision by Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (Jtac) to raise the terrorism threat level from substantial to severe. Cameron warned of “gaps in our armoury” as he spoke of a “generational struggle” that could see an Islamic State-led (Isis) caliphate stretch to the shores of the Mediterranean.

Ashdown accused Cameron in an Observer article of a “kneejerk” response while Campbell warned that plans to impose a temporary ban on UK-born jihadis returning to Britain could infringe international law.

Campbell told The World This Weekend on BBC Radio 4: “That might well constitute illegality. To render citizens stateless is regarded as illegal in international law. To render them stateless temporarily, which seems to me to be the purpose of what has been proposed, can also be described as illegal. At the very least it is the kind of question that would be tested here in our own courts and perhaps also in the European court of human rights.”

It is understood that Clegg and Cameron do not see their discussions as a coalition row because they both respect each other’s record in speaking up on civil rights.

They also agree Britain must make improvements as it seeks to deal with the estimated 500 British citizens who have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight with Isis.

A further 250 are believed to have returned to Britain. Many have travelled through Germany and Turkey, which explains plans to improve cooperation with the two countries.

The Turkish government, NATO partners of Cameron, has helped ISIS in Syria, because of common hatred of the Damascus government and of Syrian Kurds.

While the German and British governments spy on each other.

But there are differences over plans to impose a temporary ban on returning jihadis. It is understood that the names of suspects could be added to a list, which would then be sent to friendly countries such as Germany and Syria

Is ‘Syria’ here a mistake for ‘Turkey’, indeed NATO ‘friends’ of Cameron?

Or has Cameron already made a ‘Orwellian 1984 like U-turn‘? After Cameron almost started war on the Assad regime recently, only stopped because of overwhelming popular opposition (a war in which ISIS would have been Cameron’s ally), has Damascus suddenly become an ally?

, who would be asked to prevent them entering the UK.

The discussions between Clegg and Cameron are focusing on the legal and practical aspects of the proposal.

Legal advice has suggested that it is possible to strip a UK citizen of their passport in Britain as a way of confining them to the UK. But the legal advice also suggests that if a UK citizen’s passport is cancelled after they have left the UK they are still entitled to return home.

The discussions between Clegg and Cameron are focusing instead on proposals that would allow the authorities in the likes of Germany and Syria to prevent British-born jihadis boarding aircraft. They would then be taken in for further questioning, but would be re-admitted to Britain.

There is agreement between Cameron and Clegg on the need to improve the flow of airline passenger data to the intelligence agencies.

One problem is that some airlines do not release their passenger manifest until 30 minutes before flights leave. There will also be moves to share more passenger data. But this will involve stepping up negotiations with the European parliament, where plans to share passanger data have been challenged by MEPs concerned about civil liberties.

The two leaders have also yet to reach agreement on reforming terrorism prevention and investigation measures (Tpims) after David Anderson, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, called for a strengthening of “locational constraints” in his annual report in March. This could ban those subject to Tpims from some areas or to restore the power to relocate them to specific areas.

It is understood that their discussions are focusing on how any changes to Tpims would have to make clear that these would apply only in the most exceptional circumstances.

In his warning, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia did not name any group but told foreign ambassadors on Friday that he was “certain that after a month they will reach Europe and, after another month, America”, according to the Associated Press.

To really combat terror, end support for Saudi Arabia. Ramped up rhetoric on security makes no sense so long as the west cosies up to dictatorships that support fundamentalism: here.

By Will Stone in Britain:

Vociferous Labour MP Dennis Skinner was far more damning.

Shining a light on the PM’s hypocrisy, Mr Skinner said his words “would be much more credible if he knew his own history,” referring to the fact that only a year ago Mr Cameron humiliatingly lost a Commons vote calling for British military intervention in Syria.

“Twelve months ago this PM stood at the dispatch box to try to get help to arm the guerillas against Assad,” boomed the veteran MP for Bolsover.

“Had it not been for the Labour Party he could have gone down that road.”

Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, said the PM’s announcement meant that Tpims are now identical to control orders.

She added: “Sabre-rattling and thinly-veiled threats to the courts, but little detail from the Prime Minister.

“Why demand that the police seize passports on a discriminatory, dangerous basis rather than arrest those intent on committing murder and terror overseas?

“Control orders and Tpims become identical via internal exile at home, while the threat of external exile remains with the dangerous and innocent alike dumped like toxic waste on the international community.”

Conservatives to announce plan to scrap Human Rights Act: here.