Washington summit ‘against extremism’, with ‘extremist’ regimes


This 16 November video from the USA says about itself:

Jon Stewart: Turkey Erdogan helps ISIS at Kobane

From Mashable in the USA:

Accused human rights abusers attend White House’s extremism summit

By Colin Daileda

10 hours ago

The White House is hosting representatives from more than 60 nations this week for a summit on countering extremism, but some of the attendees have been called extremists in their own right.

The conference focuses on using community outreach to thwart extremist tendencies before they begin, but several nations represented have records of using anti-radicalization laws as a way of shutting off all forms of dissent, including peaceful protesters.

See also: Satirical app helps Muslims ‘condemn’ Islamic extremism

A complete roll call of those in attendance is not publicly available, but we’ve listed some of the known attendees who represent nations with human rights records that show they have not been shy about committing abuses in the name of pursuing extremists.

Egypt

The Egyptian military recently bombed Islamic State targets in Libya after an ISIS affiliate in Libya beheaded 21 Egyptian citizens. The show of force displayed Egypt’s willingness to fight extremists. But then, Egypt’s security forces under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi have hardly been shy about using force.

After Sisi‘s military deposed President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, they killed more than 1,000 Morsi supporters over the next several months. Sisi’s military has also thrown thousands of other Morsi supporters in jail using broad anti-extremism laws.

Countries such as Egypt are also “using the guise of countering terrorism and the need for security as an umbrella term to throw dissenters in jail and keep them there on bogus charges,” Sarah Margon, the Washington director at Human Rights Watch, told Mashable. She called it a “troubling sign” that governments of nations such as Egypt could participate in a conference meant to counter extremism but then not implement reforms that would ease potentially deadly tensions at home.

Egypt Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will attend the White House summit.

United Arab Emirates

The UAE Minister of States for Foreign Affairs, will speak at the conference about effective strategies to counter extremism, according to a senior White House administration official.

The UAE’s Center for Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism is the first international center of its kind. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it “an important step,” for countering radicals in 2012. The U.S. has continued to acknowledge the UAE’s role in fighting radicals, but it has done little to acknowledge the nation’s potential human rights abuses.

“In the UAE’s case, they’re certainly deeply repressive and their rights record is very poor,” Nicholas McGeehan, a Human Rights Watch researcher on the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar, told Mashable.

The UAE recently passed legislation it labeled as “counterterrorism” that, McGeehan said allows the death penalty for anyone with material that might be interpreted to oppose fundamental Islamic principles.

“The UAE’s new law could be used to class anyone who criticizes them in public a terrorist,” McGeehan said. “So the U.S. and others should really be taking a look at their ally’s credentials.”

Bahrain

Bahraini Minister of Foreign Affairs Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa will also be at the conference, and McGeehan said the case for caution when dealing with Bahrain might be even stronger than the UAE.

In 2012, Bahrain’s government cracked down on a citizen uprising criticizing its Sunni monarchy. Officials violently suppressed many Shiite citizens who wanted reforms such as a new constitution and a parliament elected by the people. Now, McGeehan said there is evidence that Bahraini authorities have allowed anti-Shia sentiment to fester in its armed forces.

“I think it’s important we keep our eye on the big picture, and not lose sight of the fact that repressive autocrats played a role in the emergence of groups like the [Islamic State],” McGeehan said. “What will be the longterm benefits of fighting symptom with cause?”

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, which will be represented at the conference by Vice Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, is another example of a nation that uses broad laws to ensnare extremists and peaceful dissidents alike, Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch, told Mashable.

“There’s never really been a concerted effort to make human rights sort of part of that picture,” Coogle said of the Saudi-U.S. relationship.

The Saudi Arabian minister of the interior, he said, essentially has the power to jail whoever he likes.

The nation has used sweeping “anti-terrorism” laws to jail those willing to express an opinion other than the government’s viewpoint.

Recently, a prominent blogger and another well-known lawyer have made headlines from Saudi courts and prisons. They were both convicted of charges that human rights groups say amount to expressing views contrary to the government.

The blogger is serving a sentence of 10 years in prison and is to receive 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam,” while the lawyer is set to be jailed for 15 years for “inciting public opinion against the government.”

United States

The U.S. doesn’t exactly have a squeaky-clean human rights record, either, in the minds of human rights groups.

Abuses detailed in the recently released CIA torture report shed new light on the possible human rights crimes that U.S. agents may have committed. Six years after U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order to close the U.S. prison on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year, it remains open. Inside are many prisoners who have not been charged with a crime.

“There are a number of stains on the U.S. that need to be addressed in ways that show a commitment to reverse bad policy and make sure it never happens again,” Margon said.

The U.S. also needs to make a commitment to halt invasive surveillance of Muslim communities that sows distrust, Naureen Shah, director of Amnesty International USA’s Security and Human Rights Program, told Mashable.

The president gave some assurance on that subject to Muslim families while speaking at the summit Wednesday.

“We have to make sure that abuses stop…that we do not stigmatize entire communities,” Obama said, referring to U.S. law enforcement engaging with Muslim Americans. “Engagement with communities can’t be a cover for surveillance.”

The US president went on the front foot against fundamentalist violence in the Middle East at a summit in Washington. But he was hobbled by his failure to place human rights in the region front and centre: here.

British Prince Charles visits Saudi Arabia, where beheadings continue


This video from the USA says about itself:

Saudi King Abdullah‘s Revised Human Rights History

27 January 2015

World leaders are paying tribute to late Saudi King Abdullah in spite of his seemingly deplorable human rights record, a tyrannical government that treated women as second class citizens, and an aggressive foreign policy. President Obama and Prince Charles, who went to Jeddah to pay his respects in person, are among the offenders with human rights advocates criticizing their sympathetic response. We take a look at the reverential reactions, in this Lip News clip with Elliot Hill and Mark Sovel.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Saudi Arabia executions ‘extraordinarily high’ as state executes 28 people in five weeks

The Syrian man was found guilty of smuggling amphetamines

Heather Saul

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Saudi Arabia has reportedly executed a Syrian man on the same day Prince Charles arrived in the Kingdom amid calls from campaigners to raise human rights concerns.

The Saudi Press Agency said Abdullah Mohammed al-Ahmed was executed Tuesday in the northwestern al-Jawf province after the Supreme Court confirmed his conviction and sentence for smuggling amphetamines into the country.

It does not say how he was executed, … although methods used in the Kingdom include beheading and firing squad. His death marks the 28th execution in 2015 alone, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Prince Charles has a good relationship with the Saudi royal family and has been under pressure to use his trip to raise the case of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison.

Amnesty International had expressed hope that Charles would use his unique position to “pass on a few well-chosen words” to King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud and his royal hosts.

Read more:

Saudi Arabia explains difference between state executions and Isis’s

But this latest execution casts doubts as to how willing the Kingdom might be to listen to fears over human rights abuses. King Salman oversaw his first beheading just five days after succeeding his late brother King Abdullah.

The kingdom follows a strict interpretation of Islamic law and applies the death penalty on crimes such as murder, rape, apostasy and witchcraft. Rights groups have criticised executions carried out for non-lethal crimes.

Adam Coogle, a MENA researcher for HRW, said there are so many executions taking place in the Arab state that it is not unusual for one to take place on the same day as an international visit.

He told The Independent that out of the 28 executions which occurred in January and February 2015, 11 were for non-violent drug offences – an “extraordinarily high” figure he condemned as “particularly egregious”.

“Between 1 January and 4 August 2014, only 15 executions took place. They finished the year on 87, and that pace has continued,” he said. “If they keep on this pace it will be a record in the context of the past two years.”

Mr Coogle says he is unsure what is behind the surge in executions. “It could be that they are trying to appear as though they are tough on crime and willing to deliver ‘justice’, but I don’t know. I haven’t seen any official comments on this jump.

“The major point is that although executions are not prohibited under international human rights law, they are strongly discouraged and they should be reserved only for only the most serious crimes.

“It’s been made clear under international human rights law that people should not be killed for non-violent drug laws. Saudi Arabia, a member of the Human Rights Council, is clearly flouting this.”

Total number of executions in Saudi Arabia this year reaches 28: here.

FOREIGN DONORS AND THE CLINTON FOUNDATION: “The Clinton Foundation has dropped its self-imposed ban on collecting funds from foreign governments and is winning contributions at an accelerating rate, raising ethical questions as Hillary Clinton ramps up her expected bid for the presidency. Recent donors include the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Australia, Germany and a Canadian government agency promoting the Keystone XL pipeline.” [WSJ]

Bahraini dictatorship considers human rights activism ‘terrorism’


This video says about itself:

Suspected ISIS leader in Pakistan admits receiving funds via US – report

28 January 2015

A suspected Islamic State operative in Pakistan, Yousaf al Salafi, confesses to recruiting jihadists to fight in Syria, and says he received funds, wired through the U.S.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

We are human rights defenders, but Bahrain says we’re terrorists

Sayed Alwadaei

I am among 72 people stripped of their citizenship under terror laws. My crime? To fight for democracy and human rights in Bahrain

Monday 9 February 2015 10.34 GMT

The barbaric killing of Muadh al-Kasasbeh by Isis will haunt us for a long time to come as an example of the cruelty of today’s Jihadi terrorists. Kasasbeh was burned alive in a cage a month ago, his murder hidden from the world as Jordan demanded his safe return, the truth only coming to light last week when a video of his murder appeared online.

As Jordan mourns its hero, we in Bahrain reflect in fear and disgust: the Bahraini government names human rights defenders, journalists and political activists terrorists, and in doing so they liken us to Kasasbeh’s killers. The prospect of what it means for us is utterly terrifying.

This video says about itself:

Is ISIS A Tool of the Saudi State?

1 October 2014

Ali Al-Ahmed says ISIS is a key part of Saudi Arabia’s strategy in the Middle East.

The Guardian article continues:

At the beginning of the month the ministry of interior published a list of 72 persons whose citizenship was to be revoked. No trial, no appeal, no legal process – if your name is on that list, you are no longer a Bahraini. Recent amendments to the nationality law allow the state to revoke citizenship for those guilty of terrorism. About 50 of the named persons, myself included, are human rights defenders, political activists, journalists, doctors, religious scholars – peaceful activists. Most of us are now stateless. Among the reasons given for revoking our citizenship: “defaming the image of the regime, inciting against the regime and spreading false news to hinder the rules of the constitution” and “defaming brotherly countries”.

Mixed in with our names were 20 real terrorists, people known to have gone to fight for Isis in Iraq and Syria, including notorious Bahraini jihadist preacher Turki Albinali. The message has never been clearer: the government of Bahrain views us, who advocate for democracy, human rights and change in Bahrain, as equals to the Jihadi-terrorists of Isis. We, who call for parliamentary reform and an end to torture, who call for the perpetrators of extrajudicial killings to be brought to justice, and who report on these events to the world – we are put on par with the barbaric murderers of Muadh al-Kasasbeh.

Next week will be the anniversary of the uprising which shook Bahrain. When we took to the streets on 14 February 2011 and called for democratic reform, we never imagined the repression that would follow: a brutal crackdown on protests and the establishment of martial law. Many died, shot by police, or beaten to death. Many more were imprisoned and sentenced on trumped-up charges. Doctors were arrested and tortured for treating protesters. One journalist, Karim al-Fakhrawi, died in police custody. One wonders how the world would have reacted if that murder was filmed and spread online, like the murders of Isis.

We could not have imagined that 2015 would be worse, and yet it is. Though we haven’t seen the same extreme violence that characterised martial law four years ago, today the repressive measures have become institutional. Anti-terrorism laws are now used against protesters and are used systematically to keep people off the streets. Police continue to treat protesters with excessive force. Red lines have been crossed with the detention of major political opposition figures, who were never touched even during the dark days of martial law.

This video says about itself:

Bahrain police attack young women 23-9-2011.

The Guardian article continues:

Bahrain’s government has not only succeeded in defining the work of human rights defenders, journalists and political activists as terrorism under the law, it has done so with little opposition from its allies – particularly the UK. It was bizarre when, on 20 January, foreign secretary Philip Hammond praised Bahrain’s human rights record and called it “a country which is travelling in the right direction”. On the same day, only hours later, a court convened to hear Nabeel Rajab’s case and sentenced the human rights defender to six months’ imprisonment.

The reprisals against human rights defenders, political activists and journalists I’ve described are not nearly a complete list. Yet they are the major feature of Bahrain in 2015. When the government of Bahrain equates the work of journalists and human rights defenders to the most brutal murder of innocents, I must ask: is this what Philip Hammond considers the “right direction”?

Hundreds of people protested in London on Saturday against the UK’s support for Bahrain’s repressive government: here.

9/11 atrocities and Saudi Arabia


This video says about itself:

David Rovics, The Dying Firefighter

A few days after the attacks on the World Trade Towers in New York, singer songwriter David Rovics came into the studios of WERU Community Radio, in East Orland Maine, where I recorded his performance of this live version, perhaps the first time the song was performed in public, certainly the first time it was recorded. Meanwhile the world watched and waited to see what the United States would do- take the high road toward peace or follow the drumbeat to war.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Saudi Arabia, 9/11 and the “war on terror

6 February 2015

More than 13 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, evidence in a federal lawsuit brought by relatives of the victims is a devastating exposure of events and relations long covered up and obscured by the media and political establishment: that Al Qaeda and the 9/11 hijackers were financed by the Saudi monarchy, a top US ally with extensive ties to US intelligence agencies.

Affidavits filed with Federal District Judge George P. Daniels substantiate claims that leading figures in the Saudi monarchy, including its longtime ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a nephew of the current Saudi monarch, King Salman, financially supported Al Qaeda.

The documents include a deposition from Zacarias Moussaoui, the only individual convicted of direct participation in the plot to hijack airplanes and fly them into the World Trade Center and other US targets on September 11, 2001.

Moussaoui testified that while working for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the 1990s he prepared a digital database of the group’s financial backers that included Prince Bandar and two other high-ranking Saudi princes: Prince Turki al-Faisal, the longtime head of Saudi intelligence, and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company and the wealthiest member of the royal family.

He also described working as a courier for bin Laden, bringing messages to members of the Saudi royal family, including Prince Salman, then the governor of Riyadh, who today is King Salman after succeeding to the throne last month.

The New York Times published lead articles Wednesday and Thursday highlighting the new allegations of Saudi backing for the 9/11 attacks. These had less the character of an exposé, however, than of a semi-official attempt to contain the impact of the material being released as a consequence of the 9/11 families’ lawsuit.

This is the apparent reason for the articles’ near-exclusive focus on Moussaoui, a witness whose testimony can be more easily dismissed by the political establishment. The legal papers filed with the federal district court included Moussaoui’s deposition, but much more, including allegations of Saudi complicity in 9/11 from such pillars of the Washington establishment as former senator Robert Graham of Florida. He wrote, “I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia.”

Graham is in a position to know. He chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2002 when it produced a lengthy report on the 9/11 attacks. This included a 28-page section on Saudi support to the 9/11 hijackers that was classified and suppressed by the Bush administration, an act of censorship that was endorsed and continued by the Obama administration. Senator Graham, who favors the release of this material, wrote, “The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11, and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier.”

The evidence of Saudi complicity in the 9/11 attacks is a devastating exposure of the fraudulent nature of the “war on terror,” the axis of US national security policy for more than 13 years.

The Bush administration used the 9/11 attacks as the pretext for wars against Afghanistan, whose government had provided shelter to Osama bin Laden, but had no involvement in 9/11, and against Iraq, which had no connection to either 9/11 or Al Qaeda. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia, the country that supplied Al Qaeda’s funds, its principal leader, and 15 of the 19 hijackers, was deemed a key US ally.

Every official investigation into the 9/11 attacks had to whitewash the Saudi connection—or be censored, like the Senate Intelligence Committee report. The issue was not just the reactionary role of the Saudi monarchy in financing and supporting Al Qaeda, but the close ties between US intelligence agencies and the supposedly anti-American terrorist group—connections on which the latest Times articles are completely silent. …

The crimes committed on 9/11 took nearly 3,000 lives. The crimes committed using 9/11 as a justification have taken hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Libya and a dozen other countries. And 9/11 has served as the all-purpose justification for the wholesale destruction of democratic rights in the United States and other imperialist countries, which have created the framework for police states in the name of preventing “another 9/11.”

… This was signaled last month in Obama’s trip to Riyadh to pay homage to the new king, Salman—one of those named as a financial supporter of Osama bin Laden.

The Saudi connection has been critical to the continuing relations of American imperialism with Al Qaeda and other Islamic fundamentalist groups. These forces were first mobilized in the 1980s as part of the campaign by the Carter and Reagan administrations to subvert the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan and foster the disintegration of the USSR. The mujahedddin —including Osama bin Laden—were armed and trained by the CIA and financed by Saudi Arabia. They have more recently been used to overthrow the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi and to undermine the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

ISIS itself is a product of this insidious relationship. It originates in the Sunni fundamentalist backlash to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003—prior to the US invasion, there was no Al Qaeda presence in Iraq. Al Qaeda in Iraq reemerged as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, one of the strongest Islamist groups fighting against the Assad government in Syria, with the aid and training of the US, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It was only when ISIS fighters crossed back over into Iraq and began attacking the US-backed puppet regime in Baghdad that the group became the target of US bombs and propaganda.

Yet at the center of the entire “war on terror” is a monumental and brazen lie, the claim that 19 hijackers plotted and carried out a major attack on New York City and Washington, D.C., without anyone in the vast US military-intelligence apparatus being aware of what they were preparing. The latest revelations about the Saudi role in 9/11 are another blow against this web of fabrication and cover-up.

The White House may declassify still-secret sections of an official inquiry into the 9/11 terrorist attacks which refer to possible Saudi Arabian support: here.

How the legal punishments handed out in Saudi Arabia compare to those of Isis: here.

US and Saudi Arabia: Dysfunctional partners depend on each other for survival: here.