South Yemen revolts, Saudi regime losing war?


This 11 August 2019 video from Aden is called Saudi-Led Coalition Moves Against Separatists in Yemen.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Southern separatists overrun Aden, exposing fraud of US, Saudi puppet regime in Yemen

13 August 2019

Last week, a separatist militia overran Yemen’s southern port city of Aden, forcing the flight of the handful of ministers loyal to the puppet President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi

who is under house arrest in Saudi Arabia, where he had been allowed to flee to after resigning as president

that were still in the country.

The events have laid bare the abject failure of four years of murderous war to create anything approaching a stable US and Saudi-backed regime in the impoverished Arab country. At the same time, the takeover of Aden heightened fears in Washington that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) … may be distancing itself from the bellicose US policy in the region.

The tumultuous events have played out in the context of the mounting crisis of the Saudi-led and US-backed war that has killed tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians while leaving 80 percent of the population in need of food assistance and several million on the brink of starvation. The country is facing what is acknowledged as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The divergence of interests and objectives between the two principal partners in the so-called coalition waging this war— Saudi Arabia and the UAE—have become increasingly impossible to mask. This is particularly the case in the wake of the UAE’s decision announced in June to withdraw the bulk of its military from Yemen and abandon positions it had held in the northeast and northwest of the country.

It has turned over many of its positions, as well as large quantities of arms, military vehicles and equipment, to a disparate collection of militias reportedly comprising 90,000 fighters. These militias include both the Security Belt, which is loyal to the separatist Southern Transitional Council, and the Republican Guard, headed by Tariq Saleh, the nephew of longtime dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, who directed military campaigns against the south over the course of 20 years.

What they share in common, and with the UAE, is their lack of any support for the ostensible goal of the Saudi-led war, the restoration of the so-called legitimate government of President Hadi. This was the official justification for a war against the Houthi rebels who seized the country’s most populous areas in the north, along with the capital of Sana’a, and were marching on Aden before the Saudi-led intervention began in March 2015.

While the violent events in Aden over the past week have exposed the fraud of this so-called government, the trigger for the alleged clashes is by no means clear.

Aidarous al-Zubaidi, the leader of the Southern Transitional Council, charged that its affiliated militia, the Security Belt, had to choose between “self-defense, or surrender and accepting the liquidation of our just cause.”

The “cause” to which he refers is the recreation of the state of South Yemen, which was known before 1990 as the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen and had been closely aligned with the Soviet Union before the turn by the Stalinist bureaucracy toward capitalist restoration and the dissolution of the USSR. Under pressure from Moscow, the South Yemeni regime united with the north. Regional tensions, however, persisted, resulting in an attempted secession and civil war in 1994.

There were also reports that an Islamist militia aligned with the US-Saudi puppet regime had killed one of the separatist commanders and that members of the presidential guard had fired on the separatists first, provoking the clash.

For its part, supporters of Hadi accused the southern militia … of carrying out a “coup”. The militia members apparently stormed the presidential palace after taking over surrounding military bases following a call by the deputy head of the Southern Transitional Council to “topple” the Hadi regime.

This was by all accounts not a difficult task. The movement of the southern militia sent cabinet ministers loyal to Hadi rushing to a Saudi jet to be flown out of the country. The militia took control of the presidential palace as well as other government buildings and bases, together with heavy weaponry, along with the port of Aden and the city’s airport. Many of Hadi’s troops reportedly defected to the separatists. …

Saudi media reported that Hadi met Sunday with his patron King Salman [of Saudi Arabia] on Sunday. Thus far, the “legitimate” president has made no public statement concerning the ouster of his officials from their last redoubt in Yemen.

This 1 May 2018 video says about itself:

South Yemen Independence: Socialism in Arabia?

Is South Yemen heading towards independence and will it return to its former socialist republic roots? Find out here!

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Tortured Saudi feminist’s sister speaks


Lina al-Hathloul, photo by Kristof Vadino

Translated from daily De Standaard in Belgium, 27 July 2019:

Interview

Lina al-Hathloul, sister of imprisoned Saudi activist

“After the torture, silence was no longer an option”

For unclear reasons, activist Loujain al-Hathloul (29) has been in a Saudi cell for over a year, where she was tortured. Her sister Lina (24) lives in Brussels. “She has been electrocuted, beaten and subjected to waterboarding“, she says. Women can now drive cars in Saudi Arabia,

while the activist women who made that possible are threatened by the death penalty

but they also have to keep their mouths shut.

By Jorn De Cock

Brussels: “There is no news”, says Lina al-Hathloul in a flex office in Brussels, where she recently started working for a starting company that works for more solar energy. She has lived in Brussels for seven years, studied law and wants to stay there. But for more than a year, her attention has been constantly diverted to her birthplace, Saudi Arabia, where her sister Loujain is one of the best-known prisoners.

On May 15, 2018, Loujain was brutally taken out of her house at night. She disappeared for weeks without an official statement. The unresolved paradox of that night is that Loujain al-Hathloul became best known for her campaigns against the Saudi driving ban for women. Shortly after her arrest, that driving ban was lifted.

Why did the Saudi regime, which supposedly is modernizing, feel it was necessary to put Loujain and ten other activists in jail just then? In the pro-regime Saudi media, the female activists – some of them professors and grandmothers, others in their twenties such as Loujain – were called ‘traitors’. They were accused of undermining the “security, stability and national unity of the kingdom”.

This spring, a trial finally followed – behind closed doors – but there too, nothing seems to have moved since April. Seven female activists have now been released conditionally, but not Loujain. “She herself has no idea where it’s going”, says sister Lina. “As a survival strategy, she therefore assumes that she will be imprisoned indefinitely.”

The trial initially seemed an elegant solution for the Saudi royal family to finally close that nasty issue. But it turned out differently.

Lina al-Hathloul: “Since April, there has been no further session and nothing has been announced. My sister can now call my family every Sunday. She is in solitary confinement, reading books, but little can be said about this in the telephone conversations. It is mainly we who talk – sometimes via a telephone that my parents hold on to their telephone in Riyadh – so that she hears us.”

How did your sister become an activist?

“She studied in Canada. She was not only an enthusiastic driver there – which she was not allowed to do in Saudi Arabia at the time – but she also became active on the Kik app, as one of the first Saudis. On that app you see a face, a full name, and you can post comments and short videos – which she began to do diligently about everything that happened in Saudi Arabia. ”

“When she returned to the Middle East, she started working in the United Arab Emirates and began campaigning against the driving ban for women in Saudi Arabia. One day she was driving home from the airport by car. My father sat next to her and filmed her. When she then drove again, she was stopped and had to go into jail for 73 days. At that time, she realized that it was not about a driving ban for women, but about the entire system of male custody in Saudi Arabia. ”

“Together with other activists, she started a petition addressed to King Salman. About which she was arrested again in 2017. In February 2018 there was an international conference against discrimination against women in Switzerland, where an official delegation from Saudi Arabia was invited. Loujain also went to sit in the audience and commented on what the delegation said via Twitter. That made them pretty angry.”

“A month later, Loujain was kidnapped in the Emirates: local state security surrounded her car, blindfolded her, and put her on a plane to Saudi Arabia. Then she was in jail for another day, without a reason being given. And last year, on May 15, they suddenly invaded our house in Saudi Arabia overnight and was taken away. For a while we didn’t get any news. After that she was allowed to call occasionally, but there was clearly someone standing next to her. In August my parents were finally allowed to visit her. They noticed that she could barely walk, had red marks on her neck and could not even hold a pen. She didn’t talk about it. It was only at a subsequent visit in September that she gradually started talking.”

What she revealed then went very far.

“Loujain has started telling our parents more month after month. How she was electrocuted, beaten, subjected to waterboarding (sham drowning, ed.), sexual harassment, threat of execution. There is nothing they haven’t done to her.”

On the one hand, the young crown prince Mohamed bin Salman preaches a new era in Saudi Arabia, with “moderate Islam”, entertainment for a mixed audience and the lifting of the driving ban for women. But on the other hand, those who worked for that were imprisoned. What did the royal family want to show?

(carefully): “Their power has been abused. In a previous arrest at the airport, Saud Qahtani (a former close associate of Crown Prince MBS who is also mentioned in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, ed.) came to her and asked her if she would rather be in jail for twenty years or wanted to get the death penalty. While the torture was going on, she was laughed at and spit on her.”

“In the beginning I thought they just wanted to keep control of the story about the lifting of the driving ban. They did not want anyone to have an opinion about it. So I thought they would release my sister after a month or two. When the months passed, the torture followed, followed by a trial without any transparency.”

A lot of things suddenly surfaced last fall, when journalist Khashoggi was brutally murdered and your sister’s testimonies came. International pressure seemed to be increasing. Did it work out?

“There was more talk about atrocities at the time. The US American senator Marco Rubio

of President Donald Trump’s own party

said Saudi Arabia had gone “full gangster”. Some realized that they might have to answer, that they could not just do everything. Maybe some pressure came, but nothing happened after that. I note that my sister and others are still in jail. ”

You talk fairly openly about your sister’s situation, the families of other prisoners usually don’t. Why did your family start talking?

“The moment we knew about the torture, silence was no longer an option. That is not a simple decision: you break your head about the best risk management. What can be the consequences for her if we talk or not? But if she is tortured, nothing is worse than being silent.”

“She is now in solitary confinement again, but we no longer hear about other tortures. My family would therefore prefer to keep the silence. I can’t do that myself. The last year has made me more rebellious. (smiles) I have become many years older in that one year.”

Your sister also has the support of your parents. That is already an advantage.

“My parents are religious and support the Saudi royal family, but they also have a critical mind. My father, eg, would not simply welcome complete freedom of religion, but at the same time he does not understand why women should be second-class citizens, not allowed to work or to drive a car. My parents are certainly not liberal by European standards, but my brother and sisters have been allowed to study abroad, just like me. Some of us are still there (laughs).”

Your sister also receives international support: she is an honorary citizen of Paris and received an American PEN Award and an honorary doctorate in Louvain-la-Neuve. Meanwhile, the most open pressure comes from the world of entertainment. American actors such as Alec Baldwin plead for her release, singer Nicki Minaj has just cancelled a concert in Saudi Arabia. And that while Saudi Arabia wants to focus more on culture and entertainment. …

Lina: But concerts have nothing to do with fundamental human rights. …

Saudi Arabia was never a real police state. People knew that there were certain “red lines”, but they knew them. Now it seems that everything has become a red line.”

Suppose your sister would be released tomorrow, what would happen to her?

“If that would happen, then I fear she will be forced to remain silent until she would be forgotten.”

Trump’s soldiers for propping up Saudi dictatorship


This 29 June 2019 video says about itself:

Donald Trump says the Saudi crown prince is doing a ‘spectacular job’

Donald Trump has praised Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, saying he is doing a ‘spectacular job’ as the pair met on the sidelines of the G20 summit. Trump ignored questions from the media about whether he would raise the journalist’ [Khashoggi]s death during his working breakfast with the prince.

From daily The Independent in Britain, 19 July 2019:

Satellite images ‘show US military buildup in Saudi Arabia’ amid Iran tensions

Up to 500 soldiers to be deployed to airbase east of Riyadh

By Harry Cockburn

The United States is preparing to send hundreds of troops to Saudi Arabia where satellite images appear to show a build up of American forces on the ground.

Up to 500 soldiers are to be sent to the Prince Sultan Airbase in the desert to the east of the capital Riyadh, two officials told CNN, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Preparations are also reportedly underway for a large missile installation from which Patriot surface-to-air missiles can be launched …

The moves would likely strengthen the US’ controversial relationship with Saudi Arabia, while also responding to rising tensions with Iran which escalated dramatically in recent months. …

The Trump administration has long sought to base troops in the remote region, but the decision to send them to Saudi Arabia comes amid outrage over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. A United Nations report concluded his death at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul was “an extrajudicial execution” sanctioned [by] Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Trump administration has also been criticised for its response to the murder.

‘USA FIRST’ TRUMP SPEECH SENT TO GULF FOR VETTING Tom Barrack, a longtime friend and informal adviser to President Donald Trump, worked to modify a major 2016 energy speech by then-candidate Trump to be more pro-[Saudi and similar regimes in the]Middle East, according to a new report released by Democrats on the House Oversight Committee.  [HuffPost]

Saudi princess accused of beating French workman


This 10 July 2019 video says about itself:

Saudi crown prince’s sister on trial in France over ‘beating’ of workman

Saudi Princess Hassa bint Salman is on trial in absentia in France over the alleged beating of a workman who was carrying out repairs in her luxury Paris apartment.

See also here. And here. And here.

No Nicki Minaj concert in Saudi Arabia


This 6 July 2019 video from the USA is called Nicki Minaj Receives Huge Backlash After Controversial Saudi Arabia Performance.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

The US American rapper Nicki Minaj is not going to Saudi Arabia for a concert. In a statement she writes that she has given it a lot of thought and that she has studied the situation in more detail.

Her conclusion is that she will not go to the strictly religious country, where women have less rights than men and LGBT people are discriminated against.

‘Discriminated against’=getting the death penalty.

In the statement, Nicki Minaj expresses her strong support for the establishment of equal rights for women and LGBT people. She also speaks out for freedom of expression.

The announcement last week that Minaj would appear at the Jeddah World Fest was received with surprise. In her raps, Minaj does not mince words …. The video clips that accompany her songs can be called explicit.