Who is the opposition in Bahrain? Well, Shiites and Sunnis!

The attitude – that Bahrain’s problems exist primarily between its own people – is an attempt to deflect responsibility away from the government and to play up the false idea that this conflict is sectarian. The fact that half the opposition delegates who attended the first dialogue session were Sunnis shoots this argument to pieces.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/feb/13/bahrain-time-to-act-change

Syrian Rebels kill nine Christians including two women

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/17/syrian-gunmen-shoot-dead-11

A resident in the area told the Associated Press that the gunmen randomly opened fire on a street as Christians were celebrating a feast day.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that nine of those killed were Christians. It said rebels attacked checkpoints manned by the pro-government National Defence Forces militia, killing five of them. It said the other six were civilians, including two women.

Christians, who make up about 10% of Syria’s population, are particularly vulnerable to the violence sweeping the country of 22 million people. Many rebels, who are mostly Sunnis, consider Christians to be supporters of Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Tens of thousands of Christians have left central districts in Syria’s third largest city because of the fighting.

Attacks against Christians have not been uncommon in Syria since the country’s crisis began more than two years ago. Two bishops were abducted in rebel-held areas in April and an Italian Jesuit priest, Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, went missing last month while on a trip to the rebel-held northeastern city of Raqqa.

 

How journalists and even their relatives can be treated as terrorists in the UK

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/19/glenn-greenwald-journalism-david-miranda-detention

The detention at Heathrow on Sunday of the Brazilian David Miranda is the sort of treatment western politicians love to deplore in Putin’s Russia or Ahmadinejad’s Iran. His “offence” under the 2000 Terrorism Act was apparently to be the partner of a journalist, Glenn Greenwald, who had reported for the Guardian on material released by the American whistleblower, Edward Snowden.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/19/amnesty-condemns-heathrow-detention

Amnesty International has condemned the detention of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner at a London airport as “unwarranted revenge tactics” based solely on his relationship with Greenwald.

David Miranda was detained when in transit at Heathrow under schedule seven of Britain’s Terrorism Act 2000, and held for almost nine hours – the maximum time allowable before further authority is required.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/18/david-miranda-detained-uk-nsa

According to a document published by the UK government about Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act, “fewer than 3 people in every 10,000 are examined as they pass through UK borders” (David was not entering the UK but only transiting through to Rio). Moreover, “most examinations, over 97%, last under an hour.” An appendix to that document states that only .06% of all people detained are kept for more than 6 hours.

Kurds and christians fleeing northern syria -are they fleeing from the activists?

Syrian Kurds continue to flee to Iraq in their thousands

Kurds account for about 95% of the new arrivals, the UN estimates. Some Arab Muslim and Christian families are also among them.

Kurds and mainstream rebel groups had largely managed to hold an uneasy truce in the northeast of the country, which was shattered in recent months when jihadists attacked Kurdish communities near the Turkish border.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/18/syrian-kurds-refugees-iraq

Egypt, where the army (and the Salafis) removed the democratically elected dictator

“But it’s our dear friends the Saudis whom the Egyptian army and police can count on for help. King Abdullah himself has promised billions of dollars for poor old Egypt, now that Qatari generosity has dried up. But Egyptians should beware Saudis bearing gifts. The House of Saud is not really interested in helping foreign armies – unless they are coming to save Saudi Arabia – but it is very much involved in supporting the Salafists of the Egyptian Noor party. It is the Noor religious fundamentalists who won an extraordinary 24 per cent in the last parliamentary election – and who ruthlessly decided to ally themselves with General al-Sisi when Morsi was dethroned. The conservative Salafists are much more to Saudi taste than potentially liberal members of the Brotherhood.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/how-some-ordinary-egyptians-became-malicious-terrorists-8773354.html

How Bahrain’s Monarchy changes the country’s demography to support its apartheid politics

The monarchy imports Sunnis from Pakistan, Syria and other countries and gives them citizenship in order to change the country’s demography:

Any solution to the current crisis in Bahrain needs to address the distortions of the island nation’s political economy.

This exploding population is confined to less than half the land mass, since vast royal properties and local and international military facilities are off-limits to ordinary Bahrainis (see figure 4). The result is acute overcrowding and housing shortages.

Any solution to the current crisis in Bahrain needs to address the distortions of the island nation’s political economy.


In a 2011 Gallup poll, 41 percent of Bahrainis said they had lacked the money to provide adequate shelter for their families over the previous twelve months. Extended Bahraini families are forced to pile into a single apartment—three or four brothers and their wives and children bunking with grandparents, one room per nuclear family.Check the source and read more about corruption in Bahrain.

Source:

http://carnegieendowment.org/2013/02/13/bahrain-s-shifting-sands/fg62

What does Bahrains opposition demand?

The mainstream opposition al-Wefaq is taking part in the talks. It wants a constitutional monarchy with an elected prime minister to replace King Hamad’s uncle – in the job for an extraordinary 42 years. Equally threatening for the Al Khalifa dynasty, it is demanding a redrawing of gerrymandered constituency boundaries and equal access to government jobs for Shias, who face discrimination that sometimes borders on apartheid. State media has whipped up anti-Shia prejudice.

Wefaq also insists that the results of the dialogue be put to a referendum rather than be submitted to the king for approval – a crucial difference. Under pressure from the west Hamad did appoint a commission of enquiry into the 2011 events but he has yet to implement key recommendations.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/on-the-middle-east/2013/feb/13/middleeast-bahrain-saudi-gulf

Bahrain – clearly sectarian acts of the regime and their saudi helpers

Repression is across the board. Sometimes the masked security men who raid Shia villages at night also bulldoze Shia mosques and religious meeting places. At least 27 of these have so far been wrecked or destroyed, while anti-Shia and pro-government graffiti is often sprayed on walls that survive.

The government is scarcely seeking to conceal the sectarian nature of its repression. Defending the destruction of Shia mosques and husseiniyahs (religious meeting houses) it claims that they were constructed without building permission, but critics point out that one that was demolished was 400 years old. Nor is it likely that the government has been seized with a sudden enthusiasm for enforcing building regulations since the middle of March.

Source:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/05/16/anti-shia-pogroms-sweep-bahrain/

written by the well known journalist Patrick Cockburn, an Irish journalist who has been a Middle East correspondent since 1979 for the Financial Times and, presently, The Independent.

Among the most experienced commentators on Iraq, he has written four books on the country’s recent history. He won the Martha Gellhorn Prize in 2005, the James Cameron Prize in 2006 and the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009.

Bahrain – How pro democratic peaceful demos where crushed in 2011

The suppression of the protesters came after Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council ? also known as the ‘kings’ club’ of six Gulf monarchs — sent 1,500 troops to Bahrain to aid repression which began on  March 15. It soon became clear that the government is engaged in a savage onslaught on the entire Shia community ? some 70 per cent of the population ? in Bahrain.

First came a wave of arrests with about 1,000 people detained, of whom the government claims some 300 have been released, though it will not give figures for those still under arrest.  Many say they were tortured and, where photographs of those who died under interrogation are available, they show clear marks of beating and whipping.

Facing little criticism from the US, otherwise so concerned about human rights abuses in Libya, the al-Khalifa family is ruthlessly crushing opposition at every level. Nurses and doctors in a health system largely run by Shia have been beaten and arrested for treating protesters. Teachers and students are being detained. Some 1,000 professional people have been sacked and have lost their pensions. The one opposition newspaper has been closed. Bahraini students who joined protests abroad have had their funding withdrawn.

Sometimes the anti-Shia bias is explicit. One pro-government newspaper prominently published a letter that compared the protesters to “termites” and the writer recommends exterminating the “white ants so they don’t come back.”

Al-Jazeera satellite television, based in and funded by neighboring Qatar, which played such a role in publicizing protests and their attempted repression, in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Libya, was initially much more reticent about events in Bahrain. But al-Jazeera revealed this week that the Bahraini police has been raiding girls’ schools, detaining and beating school girls, and is accused of threatening to rape them.

Usually troops and police make their raids on Shia districts at 1-4 am, dragging people from their beds and beating them in front of their families. Those detained face mistreatment and torture in prison. One pro-democracy activist, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, brought before a military court last week with severe facial injuries said he had suffered four fractures to the left side of his face, including a broken jaw that required four hours surgery.

Source:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/05/16/anti-shia-pogroms-sweep-bahrain/

written by the well known journalist Patrick Cockburn, an Irish journalist who has been a Middle East correspondent since 1979 for the Financial Times and, presently, The Independent.

Among the most experienced commentators on Iraq, he has written four books on the country’s recent history. He won the Martha Gellhorn Prize in 2005, the James Cameron Prize in 2006 and the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009.