Hooded wheatears in the UAE


This video says about itself:

Hooded Wheatear

Filmed at Eilat area Israel 2 June 2011

Latin name: Oenanthe monacha

From Birding Frontiers, with photos there:

Hooded Wheatears in the UAE

Elusive and Enigmatic

Oscar Campbell

One of harder resident species to find in the UAE is Hooded Wheatear, arguably the king of a superbly evocative genus. Stunning good looks (male) or a subtle palette of plumage shades (female), stupidly long wings (leading directly to a habit of floating, Hoopoe-like, over the wadi walls whilst attempting to flycatch its next meal), an affinity for the most sweepingly vast of montane landscapes and, not least, a simultaneously frustrating and delightful will-o-the-wisp unpredictability (you just never know when – or if – you are about to bump into one) all add up to tremendous allure.

In the UAE, as seemingly across almost all its limited range from Sinai to southern Pakistan, the species is very local and uncommon. Most visitors, if they haven’t been lucky enough to see one on a previous trip to Israel, generally haven’t seen one anywhere. And often they won’t see one in the UAE either, for birds come and go erratically and temporarily reliable spots suddenly and abruptly go quiet for months or longer.

For that reason, whilst guiding three fortunate UK and South African birders on an insufferably humid and sweaty mid-September morning earlier this year, I was delighted to find a young male at the migrant hotspot of Wamm Farms, on the UAE’s east coast. This site is one of most birded in the country and has a superb track record for both vagrants and large numbers of common migrants. However, despite this, and despite the fact that it’s overlooked by the towering Hajar mountains (with several known – if not especially reliable – sites for the species within 30 or 40 km) this was the first ever record of Hooded Wheatear at the food-rich farm.

The ‘normal for autumn’ regular and intensive coverage (well, ok, in the UAE this means a few birders each weekend…) failed to relocate the bird until, in mid-November, there I was again and so was he, in pretty much exactly the same spot, feeding from the sprinkler heads on the edge of a stony, barren field. As is typical for the species here in the UAE, when you do manage to locate one, views were stunning as Hooded Wheatears are often fearless and very approachable; this one was audibly snapping for insects at ranges down to 2 metres! Watching and digiscoping this sensational bird for over 30 minutes at point-blank range was easily the highlight of my morning, and, on a day that produced Pallid Harrier, Amur Falcon and seven species of pipits, that is saying quite something.

British police training UAE torturers


This video says about itself:

Torturing in deportation jail in Abu Dhabi (English subtitles)

10 November 2013

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Questions raised as Met admits training notorious UAE force

Friday 4th September 2015

Legal action charity Reprieve has demanded urgent answers after British cops admitted yesterday to spending weeks training United Arab Emirates (UAE) police officers — notorious torturers and human rights abusers.

The Metropolitan Police revealed it recently hosted a delegation of the Security Support Department of the Abu Dhabi Police, who took part in “daily patrol field tasks and various training activities.”

In a statement, the Met lauded the officers as “on par with the best international experts in this field.”

Reprieve has demanded urgent answers from the Home Office over the exchange.

Police in UAE routinely use torture — including electrocution, beatings, solitary confinement and threats of rape — to extract “confessions.”

It demanded to know what human rights considerations were made by the British government before the exercise was agreed.

The joint training is understood to have included the use of “advanced equipment and devices to handle moderate and high-risk security incidents.”

The exercise also included “drills and methods for tactical firearm use and marksmanship, alongside implementing various security scenarios.”

Reprieve death penalty team director Maya Foa told the Star: “The Abu Dhabi police’s victims include Indian citizen Ezhur Gangadharan, whose bogus statements under torture led to a death sentence, while Brits such as Ahmad Zeidan, who remains unjustly locked up, have also been brutally tortured in the UAE.

“It’s alarming, therefore, to see British officers training alongside UAE police in vaguely drawn ‘security scenarios’ — apparently including ‘the use of weapons to apprehend suspects’.”

Reprieve has in the past represented a number of people challenging alleged UAE police brutality, including several Britons who say they were tortured into giving false confessions.

Met chief of operations Dave Moss expressed his admiration for the Abu Dhabi Police delegation’s “professionalism and sophistication in carrying out difficult and dangerous tasks.”

He also praised their “expertise, physical fitness, and their intellect; placing them among the most effective security members worldwide.”

British government not helping Briton tortured in UAE


This video says about itself:

‘Repeatedly interrogated’: Muslim American sues FBI for torture in UAE prison

19 March 2015

An Eritrean-born American citizen is suing the FBI for pressuring him to collaborate and torturing him in a foreign prison when he refused. Yonas Fikre says he was arrested and interrogated in the United Arab Emirates.

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

FCO refused to aid tortured student

Tuesday 25th August 2015

Government did not ask United Arab Emirates for a pardon

THE government refused to request a pardon for 22-year-old British student Ahmad Zeidan, who has allegedly been tortured into admitting drugs charges in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a human rights charity said yesterday.

Mr Zeidan has been locked up for nearly two years, but his case was not raised during Prime Minister David Cameron’s meeting with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi last month, just before 900 pardons across the UAE were announced, Reprieve said.

He alleges that, in the course of a week, he was hooded, stripped, kept in solitary confinement for two days, beaten and threatened with rape before being forced to sign a “confession” in Arabic, which he cannot read or write.

Reprieve death penalty team leader Maya Foa said Mr Zeidan had suffered a “staggering miscarriage of justice” and urged the government to help him end the “nightmarish ordeal.”

The charity has received an email from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) admitting that it had not sent a letter in support of a pardon scheduled for September, despite it being official policy to do this for British nationals.

British consular staff in UAE have forwarded letters from Mr Zeidan’s father appealing for clemency to the ruler’s court in the emirate of Sharjah and to UAE President Sheikh Khalifa and Interior Minister Sheikh Saif bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi, the FCO email added.

The FCO, when contacted by the Star, did not comment on why it has not supported the pardon request.

Mr Zeidan, of Reading in Berkshire, was studying at the Emirates Aviation College in Dubai when he was arrested in December 2013.

Police found 0.04g of cocaine — with a street value of around £3 — in the glove compartment of a car in which he was a passenger.

He always maintained that the drugs were not his, but he was sentenced to nine years in prison last summer. His six non-British co-defendants have been released. He also “narrowly missed a death sentence,” Reprieve said.

His family have twice called on the government to formally petition for his release.

Mr Zeidan, who is being held in Sharjah Central Jail, said he has suffered “a mountain of pain,” with seizures and disturbing flashbacks waking him during the night.

He said: “I’m not coping. I feel like I am going to self-implode. I’m just holding onto a thin line of something and I feel it’s going to run out very soon.”

Canadian family campaigns for release of father detained and tortured in UAE. Salim Alaradi has spent 362 days in a cell in the United Arab Emirates, detained without charge and allegedly tortured as the prisoner of state security agents: here.

UAE government sending conscripts to die in Saudi war in Yemen


This video from the USA says about itself:

American Mercenaries Hired by United Arab Emirates

16 May 2011

American expatriate Erik Prince‘s Blackwater mercenaries have been paid 500 million dollars by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) dictators. Cenk Uygur lays out why this is a very bad idea.

From Middle East Eye:

Emirati families shocked as UAE sends conscripts into Yemen battle

The UAE introduced military service in 2014 and sources in the Gulf state have claimed that conscripts are now being sent to fight in Yemen

Tuesday 11 August 2015 10:54 UTC

The United Arab Emirates is sending conscripts to Yemen as part of military operations to support the Saudi-led coalition in reinstating the exiled government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Sources close to families who have had their sons sent to Yemen told Middle East Eye that they are shocked young men doing their military service would be sent to a war zone, as they have no combat experience.

The UAE is estimated to have deployed at least 1,500 troops to Yemen, although no official numbers have been released. The troops are said to be part of a 3,000 strong Saudi-UAE force, which is rumoured to also include Egyptian soldiers, and is equipped with French battle tanks, Russian fighting vehicles and American troop carriers.

Saudi Arabia launched a coalition in March to launch airstrikes against Houthi militiamen, who had seized large swathes of Yemen and forced President Hadi into exile in Riyadh. The conflict has plunged the Arab world’s poorest nation into a dire humanitarian crisis, with 80 percent of the country’s 25 million people requiring aid assistance, according to the United Nations.

Gulf Arab states view the Houthis as being backed by Iran and the conflict in Yemen is often described as being a proxy war for regional rivalries. The Houthis have admitted their alliance with Iran but denied acting as their proxy in Yemen – the Saada-based group is rooted in local grievances and have long complained of political and economic marginalisation.

A private secretary to President Hadi recently told a Saudi newspaper that the Emirati soldiers deployed in Yemen are in the south-west city of Aden and will protect the port’s airport as well as provide support to the Yemeni army in operating “sensitive devices” that they are not familiar with using.

Two Emirati sources who are independent of each other told Middle East Eye that conscripts are being deployed to Yemen as part of the UAE force.

“To us this is a shock,” said one source, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue.

“These young men are forced to do military service and should not be taken to hot conflict areas. They are civilians who are supposed to go back to their lives and work after finishing their service.”

The UAE introduced mandatory military service in June last year, which the government said was designed to “instil values of loyalty and sacrifice in the hearts of the citizens”.

Men between 18 and 30 years of age, who have completed high school, serve nine months and those without a high school diploma serve two years. Military service for women is optional.

The Emirati sources said “many” conscripts have been sent to Yemen but neither knew the exact number of conscripts deployed. They added that a number of families have recently been told that their sons will be sent to Yemen while completing their military service.

The UAE has suffered multiple casualties since deploying troops to Yemen. Although there is no official death toll, Yemen’s exiled Vice President Khalid Bahah said on 3 August that a “number” of Emiratis had “sacrificed their lives while supporting legitimacy in Yemen”.

On 8 August the official WAM news agency announced that three Emirati soldiers had been killed after their armoured vehicle was hit by a landmine. Two others were killed in July according to state owned media.

The latest Emirati casualties – who were not conscripts – have been described as “martyrs” by the country’s leaders.

“They have written glory and heroism with their blood for the sake of peace and backing trodden people [in Yemen],” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and vice president of the UAE, while visiting the soldiers’ families to offer his condolences.

Sheikh Mohammed said the country’s leaders would “spare no effort for the welfare of their families” and Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pledged to treat the three slain Emiratis as “Saudi martyrs financially and morally”.

The treatment of the three men as martyrs was criticised as a distraction by the Emirati source close to families who have had their loved ones sent to fight in Yemen.

“Whenever an Emirati dies in war they [the authorities] make the announcement quickly, call him Shaheed (martyr), and top leaders start tweeting about them,” they said. “The leaders then visit the victim’s family and promise them money.”

“They [the authorities] do all that to have people forget the basic question: Why are these guys taken there? Their country is the UAE but they are not defending here. This is their way to divert people’s attention away from this important question.”

Official media said the soldiers’ families were “proud” to have been visited by the country’s leaders, adding that the families had said they “would remain faithful to the UAE and its wise leadership”.

But Emiratis whose sons are being sent to fight in Yemen as conscripts are allegedly taking a different position on the UAE’s military activities.

“Families are angry their sons are being forced into war,” said an Emirati source, again asking to remain anonymous, fearing reprisals from authorities. “But they can’t do anything about it – if they speak out then they will be sent to prison.”

“People will not speak about this in public because it is very dangerous to do so, but in private those affected are not happy.”

Rising tensions between Yemen’s Southern Movement and UAE forces: here.

The mercenaries commanding UAE forces in Yemen. The UAE has brought in experienced foreign military officers to command an elite force reporting to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed: here.