Saudi Arabia, oppression, resistance and war

This video says about itself:

Inside Saudi Arabia: Butchery, Slavery & History of Revolt

3 October 2015

Meet the new head of the United Nations panel on Human Rights: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Abby Martin takes us inside the brutal reality of this police-state monarchy, and tells the untold people’s history of resistance to it. With a major, catastrophic war in Yemen and looming high-profile executions of activists, The Empire Files exposes true nature of the U.S.-Saudi love affair.

Saudi air force kills 135, not 27, wedding guests

This building in Yemen was destroyed by Saudi airstrikes. Photo: OCHA/P. Kropf

I am sorry. This blog has been too optimistic about the bloody war of the Saudi Arabian absolute monarchy in Yemen.

Yesterday, I reported the Saudi royal airforce killed 27 wedding guests in Wahijah village in south-western Yemen. Much too low a number.

Later that day, the United Nations said:

Press release

Yemen: Ban condemns airstrikes that reportedly struck wedding party and killed over 100

28 September 2015 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today condemned the airstrikes that reportedly struck a wedding party in Wahijah village, outside of the Red Sea port city of Mokha in Yemen, killing as many as 135 people.

‘The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences and sympathies to the families of the victims and a swift recovery to those injured,’ his spokesperson said in a statement.

The statement added that any intentional attack against civilians is considered a serious violation of international humanitarian law and should be investigated through prompt, effective, independent and impartial mechanisms to ensure accountability.

As many as 131 people were killed in Yemen on Monday after Saudi coalition air strikes tore through a wedding party in the village of Al-Wahijah on the outskirts of the Red Sea port city of Mocha. The attack marks the deadliest civilian massacre yet in the six-month-old war being waged by a coalition of Arab monarchies and dictatorships spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, backed to the hilt by the United States: here.

Missing from reports of Yemeni carnage: Washington’s responsibility: here.

UK helped Saudi Arabia get UN human rights role through ‘secret deal’ to exchange votes, leaked documents suggest. ‘The ministry might find it an opportunity to exchange support with the United Kingdom’, leaked cable reportedly reads: here.

Ten reasons to oppose the Saudi monarchy: here.

Senior Saudi prince calls for regime change in Riyadh: here.

Saudi Arabia is worried – and not just about its king: here.

Britain: Corbyn: UK must drop Saudi prison bid in light of activist’s death sentence. Labour leader and other critics say plan for Ministry of Justice to act as advisers would imply approval for plans to execute democracy protester: here.

Saudi air force kills Yemeni wedding guests

Yemen map

It looks like the royal air force of Saudi Arabia are emulating their allies in the Pentagon and the CIA in the USA; allies which have killed wedding guests, brides and bridegrooms in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Somalia, in Yemen; etc.

From Reuters news agency:

At least 27 dead in air strike on Yemen wedding party: official

September 28, 2015 18:35 IST

At least 27 people, most of them women and children, were killed on Monday in an air strike on a wedding party in southwest Yemen, a local official and residents said.

A local resident said 12 women, eight children and seven men died in the air strike. A local official put the death toll at 30 in the village of Wahijah near the Red Sea port of Al-Mokha.

Hundreds of Muslim pilgrims dead in Saudi Arabia

This 24 September 2015 video from Saudi Arabia is called GRAPHIC: Hundreds dead in Mecca stampede during Eid al-Adha.

By Bill Van Auken:

Catastrophe in Saudi Arabia, pillar of Washington’s Middle East policy

25 September 2015

The horrific and massive death toll stemming from a stampede of Muslim pilgrims near Mecca is symptomatic of a deepening crisis of the Saudi monarchy, a lynchpin of reaction and key pillar of US policy in the Middle East.

Thursday’s catastrophe was reported by Saudi officials to have killed at least 717 people and injured 863 others, with warnings that the death toll would almost certainly rise. The head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization said that the number of deaths is expected to climb to 1,500, which would make it the worst disaster at the site in recorded history, surpassing the deaths of 1,426 pilgrims in a similar incident 25 years ago.

The Saudi monarchy’s instinctual reaction to the latest tragedy was to blame the pilgrims themselves for allegedly not “respecting the timetables,” as Health Minister Khaled al-Falih told local media. Prince Khaled al-Faisal, head of the regime’s central Hajj committee, went further, blaming the stampede on “some pilgrims with African nationalities” in a clear appeal to reactionary anti-foreign and racist sentiments.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saudi issued a statement insisting that the catastrophe in no way discredited the country’s security forces.

Aside from a general desire to deny the obvious blame that befalls those responsible for controlling the crowds—the same armed forces upon which the power of the monarchy ultimately rests—it appears there may have been a far more specific reason for King Salman’s disclaimer, one involving his son and eventual heir, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud.

The Lebanese daily Al Diyar reported late Thursday that the stampede was triggered by the arrival on the scene of a large militarized convoy transporting the 30-year-old deputy crown prince, who is also the country’s defense minister.

“The large convoy of Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, the King’s son and deputy crown prince, that was escorted by over 350 security forces, including 200 army men and 150 policemen, sped up the road to go through the pilgrims that were moving towards the site of the ‘Stoning the Devil’ ritual, causing panic among millions of pilgrims who were on the move from the opposite direction and caused the stampede,” the newspaper reported.

The formal title of Saudi Arabia’s king is “the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques [Mecca and Medina].” Thursday’s disaster, which follows close on the heels of another 107 deaths in a September 11 crane collapse at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, inevitably is politically damaging to the monarchy. If his son played a direct role in triggering the mass slaughter, it may well prove fatally destabilizing.

Indeed, on the eve of the latest disaster, a letter surfaced written by an unnamed grandson of King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia, calling on the royal family to convene an “emergency meeting” essentially for the purpose of deposing the king and his key supporters.

The letter indicts Saudi interventionism in Yemen and Syria as “totally miscalculated” acts that have “weakened the trust of our people and [incited] other people against us.”

It points to the country’s growing economic crisis, fueled by the collapse in oil prices, which in turn has been driven in large measure by the monarchy’s decision to continue full production with the aim of inflicting damage on Iran and Russia. The result has been a sharp decline in revenues, threatening to raise this year’s budget deficit to as much as 20 percent of GDP. If the monarchy is forced to implement austerity measures, cutting back on social spending, it may well trigger an explosive revolt in a country where an estimated 40 percent of the population lives in poverty, and where 40 percent of young workers, between the ages of 20 and 24, are unemployed.

The letter concludes by asking the House of Saud to “isolate the incapable King Salaman, the extravagant and vain Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and the rotten thief Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salaman.”

As defense minister, the deputy crown prince is no stranger to mass killings and contempt for human life. He has been the monarchy’s point man in the six-month-old Saudi-led war against Yemen, pitting the monarchical dictatorships of the richest countries of the Arab world against the people of the poorest.

Saudi warplanes, supplied, armed and refueled in mid-air by the Pentagon, have carried out non-stop bombings that have killed thousands of civilians while destroying schools, hospitals, factories, residential neighborhoods and world heritage sites. More than 1.5 million people have been driven from their homes, and at least 21 million, 80 percent of the country’s population, have been left in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

The war is part of a more bellicose foreign policy pursued by the Saudi monarchy since the succession of King Salman at the beginning of this year. It is directed in the first instance against Iran and all those perceived to be in its orbit. This has included not only the Houthi rebels in Yemen, but also Syria, where Saudi money and arms have been key to the war for regime change fought by Al Qaeda-linked militias, also with US coordination and backing.

War abroad has been combined with the intensification of hideous repression at home. The Saudi regime is already on track to double its number of executions compared to last year. According to an Amnesty International tally issued in late August, the regime put to death, either by beheadings or firing squads, at least 175 people over the previous 12 months. This is more than triple the number of state killings carried out during the same period in the US, which has 10 times the population of the Saudi kingdom.

In the face of international outrage, the despotic monarchy is preparing to execute Ali al-Nimr, who was arrested as a 17-year-old high school student for taking part in a 2011 protest. He is sentenced to death by beheading, with his headless corpse to be publicly crucified. Like most sentenced to die, he was convicted in a drumhead trial, based on a confession extracted through torture.

Incredibly, Saudi Arabia has recently been selected to chair a key UN human rights panel. A State Department spokesman this week said that Washington “welcomes” this grotesque move, because Saudi Arabia is a “close ally.”

As the proverb says, “by your friends shall ye be known.” That Saudi Arabia is Washington’s closest ally in the Arab world is the clearest exposure of the predatory and criminal character of US imperialism’s protracted intervention in the Middle East.

It likewise is an undeniable refutation of every propaganda claim made to justify the successive US wars of aggression. Washington has supposedly waged a “war on terrorism,” while allied with a Saudi regime that is the principal font of Islamist ideology and main paymaster for Islamist militias throughout the region. It has claimed to wage proxy wars for regime change in Libya and Syria in the name of “human rights” and “democracy”, while giving its unconditional backing to one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchies, infamous for its beheadings, floggings and torture.

In the final analysis, however, that Washington counts on Saudi Arabia as a pillar for its drive for hegemony over the Middle East only underscores the fact that US imperialism’s policy resembles nothing so much as a house of cards, set to collapse into new and ever greater debacles in the face of inevitable crises and mounting social struggles.

Stop Saudi teenager’s crucifixion for free speech

This video says about itself:

Man Arrested as Child in Saudi Arabia to Be Crucified

8 September 2015

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr is set to be crucified in Saudi Arabia after spending three years in prison for crimes he is alleged to have committed as a teenager. Al-Nimr was accused of participating in an illegal protest … We look at the story on the Lip News with Margaret Howell and Jose Marcelino Ortiz.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr crucifixion: UN issues urgent call for Saudi Arabia to stay execution of juvenile offender

Mr al-Nimr was sentenced to death for being involved in anti-government protests when he was 16 or 17 years old

Adam Withnall

Thursday 24 September 2015 11:05 BST

The UN has issued an urgent call for Saudi Arabia to halt the execution of a young man who faces imminent beheading and crucifixion for crimes he reportedly committed as a child.

A Saudi court has upheld the sentence of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, the son of a prominent government dissident, despite growing and high-level international condemnation.

Mr al-Nimr, who was arrested in 2012 for his participation in Arab Spring protests when he was just 16 or 17 years old, could now be put to death at any time.

The young man’s case has been the subject of fervent campaigning from rights groups including Amnesty International and Reprieve, who say he was tortured and forced to sign a false confession before being sentenced to “death by crucifixion”.

Now, a group of UN human rights experts have penned a joint statement calling on Saudi Arabia to “immediately halt the scheduled execution” and give Mr al-Nimr “a fair retrial”.

The experts, including the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns and Benyam Mezmur, the chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, said imposing the death penalty on someone who was a child at the time of offending and after allegations of torture was “incompatible with Saudi Arabia’s international obligations”.

“International law, accepted as binding by Saudi Arabia, provides that capital punishment may only be imposed following trials that comply with the most stringent requirements of fair trial and due process, or could otherwise be considered an arbitrary execution,” they said.

“In light of reports that the trial against Mr al-Nimr fell short of such standards, we call upon the Saudi authorities to ensure a fair retrial of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, and to immediately halt the scheduled execution,” the experts added.

The French government has also taken the unusual step of adding its voice to calls for a stay of Mr al-Nimr’s execution. Foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said: “France is concerned about the situation of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was sentenced to death even though he was a minor at the time of the events.

“Opposed to the death penalty in all cases and circumstances, we call for the execution to be called off.”

A court rejected Mr al-Nimr’s final appeal this month at around the same time as Saudi Arabia was chosen to head up a key UN panel on human rights.

But while the decision sparked outrage from campaigners and those affected by oppressive Saudi practices, the US State Department said it “welcomed” the move.

Speaking to AP’s Matt Lee, department spokesman Mark Toner said: “Frankly, we would welcome it. We’re close allies… We have a strong dialogue, a partnership with Saudi Arabia that spans many issues.

“We talk about human rights concerns with them. As to this leadership role, we hope that it’s an occasion for them to look at human rights around the world but also within their own borders.”

Saudi Arabia executes ‘a person every two days’ as rate of beheadings soars under King Salman. Those killed include children and people with mental disabilities: here.

Stop cooperation with Bahraini, Saudi dictatorships

This video from Sweden says about itself:

Human Rights Defender Maryam Alkhawaja Talks about Scandinavian Prisoners in Bahrain
12 November 2013

I filmed Maryam Alkhawaja being interviewed by Gothenburg Post newspaper last week, as part of Maryam’s participation in a talk done later by Amnesty International – Gothenburg office.

According to the Rupert Murdoch empire, phone hacking of murdered schoolgirls and of thousands of others is journalism. And war is peace. And the absolute monarchy Bahrain is a free country.

Well … Bahrain is so obviously unfree, that even some parts of the Murdoch empire have trouble conforming to propaganda lies all the time.

From The Times in London, England, part of the Murdoch empire:

Exam board attacked for making deal with Bahrain

Billy Briggs

Published at 12:01AM, September 21 2015

A human rights activist from the Middle East has condemned the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) for entering into contracts with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain despite their record on human rights.

Maryam Al-Khawaja, the director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, also criticised the UK government saying “Britain is the largest obstacle to human rights being upheld in Bahrain.”

Before a visit to Scotland this week for the human rights film festival Take One Action, she told The Times that the human rights situation was deteriorating in Bahrain and that teachers who spoke out against the government had been detained.

Bahrain’s public prosecutor has charged a high school student and two teachers with insulting Islam in connection with a video showing the student reciting verses from the Koran to musical accompaniment, state news agency BNA reported on Wednesday: here.

British government helping Saudi torturers

This video from the USA says about itself:

Help Wanted: Saudi Arabia Is Looking For Executioners

19 May 2015

Saudi Arabia advertised vacancies for eight executioners Tuesday after beheading nearly as many people since the start of the year as it did in the whole of 2014.

The civil service ministry said that no qualifications were necessary and that applicants would be exempted from the usual entrance exams.

It said that as well as beheadings, the successful candidates would be expected to carry out amputations ordered by the courts under the kingdom’s strict version of Islamic sharia law.

Amputation of one or both hands is a routine penalty for theft. …

Most executions are carried out by beheading, but a few are carried out by firing squad, stoning or crucifixion.”

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Government slated over Saudi jails contract bid

Friday 18th September 2015

HUMAN RIGHTS campaigners attacked the government yesterday after it announced that it would proceed with a bid to provide support to the Saudi Arabian prisons system, which plans to crucify a prisoner convicted as a child.

Ministers had to correct the parliamentary record after wrongly claiming they could not drop the bid due to the risk of “financial penalties.”

The only reason now given for continuing with the bid is that “withdrawing at this late stage would be detrimental to (the British government’s) wider interests.”

It emerged this week that Saudi Arabia has dismissed the final appeal of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was arrested aged 17 and sentenced to “death by crucifixion” for alleged offences relating to anti-government protests in 2012.

Human rights charity Reprieve director Maya Foa said: “The UK should have nothing to do with a so-called justice system responsible for atrocities such as this.

“It is extremely worrying to see the British government abdicating its basic human rights values in the interests of cosying up to the Saudis.”