Tag Archive | "Revolution"

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Ali Abdullah Saleh’s Last Minute Mediation Attempt

Posted on 05 April 2011 by hashimilion

Ali Abdullah Saleh begs Saudis to mediate on his behalf.

Sources close to the Saudi King said that Ali Abdullah Saleh had sent his Foreign Minister, Abu Bakr Al Qurbi to Riyadh on the 21st of March, begging the Saudis to meditate between Saleh and the protestors. Analysts believe that protests have entered their final stage and that Ali Saleh’s regime is close to collapsing.

Sources also added that the Yemeni President wanted Saudi Arabia to mediate with tribal leaders, leaders of the Southern Movement and military leaders, so that he can see out the remaining 6 months of his tenure. The Southern movement swiftly replied that negotiations should take place directly with the protestors who have no political affiliation, and hence no opposition party can claim to represent them.

Yemeni analysts warned Saudi Arabia of sending military equipment to help Ali Saleh. Any help would anger the Yemeni revolutionaries, and would make saudi mediation nearly impossible.

Saleh had sent a letter to the Saudi leadership via his Foregin minster begging for support, which was rejected. The Yemeni delegation got the impression that Saudi Arabia was incapable of mediating in this critical time.

 

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Saudi Arabia is Losing Its Fear

Posted on 09 March 2011 by hashimilion

In Riyadh the mood is tense; everyone is on edge wondering what will happen on Friday – the date the Saudi people have chosen for their revolution. The days building up to Friday so far have not been as reassuring as one would like.

On 4 March, there were protests in the eastern region and a smaller protest here in Riyadh. The protests in the eastern region were mainly to call for the release of Sheikh Tawfiq al-Amer, who had been detained after giving a sermon calling for a constitutional monarchy.

The protest in Riyadh was started by a young Sunni man, Mohammed al-Wadani, who had uploaded a YouTube video a few days before, explaining why the monarchy has to fall. After the protests, 26 people were detained in the eastern region and al-Wadani was taken in soon after he held up his sign near a major mosque in Riyadh.

It’s not just the people who are on edge; apparently the government is also taking this upcoming Friday seriously. Surprisingly, Sheikh Amer was released on Sunday, while usually political detentions take much longer.

All this week, government agencies have been issuing statements banning protests. First it was the interior ministry that promised to take all measures necessary to prevent protests. Then the highest religious establishment, the Council of Senior Clerics, deemed protests and petitions as un-Islamic. The Shura Council, our government-appointed pretend-parliament, also threw its weight behind the interior ministry’s ban and the religious decree of prohibition. But you can’t blame the clerics or the Shura for making these statements – the status quo is what’s keeping them in power and comfortable.

Saudis are now faced with a ban on any form of demonstration, and the blocking and censorship of petitions. Moreover, four newspaper writers who had signed one of the petitions are now suspended.

Saudis feel cornered, with little means of self-expression and at the same time exposed to news and opinions that only add salt to the wound. For example, Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz, the king’s half-brother, went on BBC Arabic TV to state his support for a constitutional monarchy and warn that anything less will lead to “evils” (his word).

Meanwhile, a newspaper reported that an expatriate was sentenced to 14 months in prison and 80 lashes for stealing part of a chicken from a restaurant. In response to the news, Abdulrahman Allahim, an award-winning Saudi human rights lawyer, tweeted that in his experience he had never come across a case in Saudi courts where a defendant was given a verdict of not guilty.

In Jeddah, a committee that has spent more than a year investigating the disappearance of millions of public funds assigned to the municipality to build a sewerage system has yet to make one formal accusation against anyone.

Another article revealed that the unemployment benefits recently decreed by the king have been whittled down from 3,000 riyals (£490) a month to 1,000 riyals (£165) and will probably only be given to unemployed men but not women.

The official unemployment rate of men is 10%, although many estimate it to be higher. The unemployment rate for women is yet to be officially announced but a study in 2010 estimated it at more than 26%.

It’s also estimated that about 60% of the population is under 30. These young, unemployed people live with many constrictions on their freedom. In addition to extreme gender segregation, single men are banned from entering shopping malls, and women cannot process their own papers, get a job or even access transport without male accompaniment and approval.

There’s no denying that the country is fertile ground for a revolution. However, I am concerned that the revolution might be hijacked by Islamists. Sa’ad al-Faqih, a London-based anti-monarchy activist, is claiming the revolution for himself. His TV programme, which is accessible via satellite in Saudi, is organising protest locations and revving up viewers to participate. Another contender is the new Islamic Umma party, whose founding members are imprisoned until they renounce their political aspirations (they have so far refused). Although the founding members are not free, the party’s online activity grows day by day. Both groups make use of a rhetoric that is dear to many average Saudis – attacking US foreign policy and the royal family’s misuse of the nation’s wealth while threading both issues within an Islamic theme.

On the other hand, the king is popular. All the petitions call for a constitutional monarchy, rather than the fall of the monarchy. Those who signed the petitions are mostly loyal to the king, but want access to decision-making and an end to corruption.

Also, many of the signatories are thinkers, writers and academics – generally an elite group of Saudis. From what I’ve read, nothing indicates they will go out to protest. However, one political activist who has been imprisoned several times for writing petitions was noticeably absent from recent lists of signatories. When a close friend of mine asked him why, he said, “now is not the time to sign petitions, now is the time to act”.

It’s very difficult to predict what will happen on Friday. My guess is that there will be protests. The larger protests will be in the eastern region and mostly by Shia Muslims. I also expect smaller protests in Riyadh and Jeddah. What tactics the security forces use will greatly influence not only the demonstrators but also the people watching from their homes. If undue violence is used against the demonstrators, it could possibly ignite the same fuse that led to full-blown revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

Whether or not it comes to that, we as a people have changed for ever. No longer do I see the frightened hushing of political discussion – everyone is saying what they believe and aspire for out in the open without fear. As Fouad Alfarhan, a prominent Saudi activist, tweeted:

“Probably not much will happen, however the biggest gain is the awareness raised in a large faction of our young people of their human and political rights in this post-Bouazizi world.”

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Saudis Must Stop Meddling in Bahrain

Posted on 17 February 2011 by hashimilion

Bahrain might be viewed as vulnerable to unrest because of deep-rooted discontent with the ruling al-Khalifas. Economic hardship and lack of political freedoms could incite a revolution similar to those in Egypt and Tunisia. Will the Bahraini regime be the next government to fall?

Press TV conducted an interview with Bahraini opposition leader Saeed al-Shahabi in London to bring a better insight on the ongoing unrest in the country.

PressTV: The recent October elections in Bahrain: people are fresh off the crackdown that occurred then: You were tried in absentia: Human rights abuses were rampant then on the opposition: The constitution left no room for any fair representation. Tell us about the situation.

al-Shahabi: I think the first thing that is striking is the sheer number of people who have suddenly burst into anger and decide to come out to streets, and the square there, the Pearl Square which is now renamed as the Martyr square is full of all type of people from businessmen, professors, doctors, scholars and students.

This is a new phenomenon since 1956 when we had a major uprising against the British rule at the time and their support of the al-Khalifa family. We have seen skirmishes, outburst of anger but we haven’t seen such uprising to this extend of determination of the regime change. We haven’t seen anything like this. I think it is an indication to the corruption and the inevitability of the regime change. It has lost its legitimacy, its credibility, and its international status as a modern state that respects the right of its own citizens.

PressTV: I want you to describe the years of oppression that al-Khalifas had exercised. And the most recent was the October crackdown. Would you elaborate on that so we can get some background information to see why people are so dissatisfied?

al-Shahabi: We have had repression going back to 1965 when people were being killed during demonstrations in the streets and then we had more over in the 70s, but most of it was in the 80s when at least 6 to 8 people were martyred in detention centers, and in the 90s when we had the uprising between 1994 and 1999 in which at least forty people were killed either by gunshots, wounds or under torture.

But more recently what we saw in the past six months when Dr….returned home from UK, was arrested and since then there was a spate of arrests that included hundreds of young people– as young as ten years of age– scholars, academics, professors who have been tortured beyond beliefs. They were tortured by being hanged from hands and legs, beaten or being forced to break their fast during Ramadhan which is considered as one of the worst tortures on scholars. So such a thing had not happened so far.

We see people who have been ill-treated, or have been out of jobs for years and they cannot afford their lives. They don’t feel even safe on their own land. All these contributed to the burst of anger among people. What we see today is an uprising against this regime.

PressTV: A bridge connects Bahrain to Saudi Arabia: Will they let their royal family member be toppled?

al-Shahabi: It would be very sad and tragic if the Saudis attempt to interfere in the case of Bahrain. This is an internal struggle by people who want to get free from this dictatorship.

The Saudis must respect the right of Bahrainis to determine their destiny. Everyone has the right to determine his or her destiny and Bahrainis must enjoy that right. The other point is that the Saudis would not be immune from criticism if they ever attempt to intervene directly in the affairs of Bahrain because the Saudis are known specially in the West as being the masters of terrorism. They are cultivating extremism inside their country and the world has seen atrocities that were committed by the people who were either financed, trained, or brought in the Saudi kingdom.

So I don’t think it is in the interest of the Saudis to interfere in Bahrain internal affairs. In fact people of Bahrain who have moved forward have so far been very polite, civilized and very peaceful.

There is no justification for intervention in Bahrain’s affairs. The Saudis must know that this uprising could have been taken place in Bahrain many years ago.

This regime does not care about people. It only cares about itself. It only is interested in expropriating the lands and stealing the wealth of the nation not building house for them or providing their welfare. So Saudi Arabia is well advised to avoid interfering in its neighbor’s internal affairs.

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As Mubarak Resigns, Yemenis Call For A Revolution Of Their Own

Posted on 12 February 2011 by hashimilion

As jubilant protesters in Cairo celebrated the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Yemenis were calling for a revolution of their own.

In the southern port city of Yemen, protesters marched through the district of Mansoura, waving the old flag of South Arabia and chanting, “Revolution, revolution for the south.”

Just hours before, security forces had fired live ammunition during a protest on the same street, according to eyewitnesses. Hundreds more staged ad hoc demonstrations throughout Aden, as well as in other cities across Yemen’s south.

“After Hosni Mubarak, Yemen is going to be next. I know it,” said Zahra Saleh, a prominent secession activist watching the scenes in Cairo on TV in a small Aden office.

“Now our revolution has to be stronger,” declared Ali Jarallah, a leader in the southern separatist movement sitting with Ms. Saleh on the low cushions of a diwan.

Divergent aims of Yemeni protesters

The Yemeni southern secessionist movement is not calling for political reforms, an end to corruption or even for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down, as the political opposition is doing in the capital of Sanaa. They are pushing for the end of what they view is northern Yemeni occupation and the restoration of an independent southern Yemeni state.

Though both derive momentum from the recent revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, the divergent aims of the Yemeni protesters represent another example of how anti-regime factions across the Arab world our shaping revolutionary energy to serve their own agendas.

“What happened in Egypt sent a blink of hope to the [southern] movement,” says Tammam Bashraheel, managing editor of Aden’s officially banned Al Ayyam newspaper.

Exiled southern movement leader and former Vice President Ali Salim Al Beidh said that events in the Arab world, and especially what is happening in Tunisia and Egypt, reflect a new stage in history that can be likened to the end of the cold war. Speaking to local press on Thursday, he compared the southern Yemeni demonstrations to Egypt, where youths have also played a central role.

“The revolution of the south is a revolution of the youth and younger generation,” said Mr. Beidh.

‘America supports oppressors’

In Sanaa, anti-government protests have focused on pressuring the ruling party to accept political reforms and are carried out in relative peace. However in Yemen’s south, the increased number of demonstrations since Tunisia’s uprising have been more violent.

“Demonstrations are allowed to happen in Sanaa without weapons, why do they use weapons on us in the south?” asks secession activist Wagdy Al Shaaby, who had just returned to Aden Friday afternoon from a protest of about 1,000 held in Zinjibar in neighboring Abyan province.

He also criticized the US for supporting its Arab allies, even when they resort to authoritarian measures in the name of stability.

“America is a democracy, but when to comes to the Arab world America supports oppressors,” he says. “America protects these countries until they blow up.”

Aden governor urges security, stability

In one Aden neighborhood, known for being a hotbed of secessionist sentiment, the old South Arabia flag is spray painted on building walls alongside posters of young man killed by security forces. Next to one Khaled Darwish poster was written a warning to the Yemeni government: “We are going to take revenge for you, Darwish.”

“If there continues to be no recognition of political rights here, [separatist activity] won’t stop,” says Mr. Bashraheel.

The fractured yet popular southern separatists argue that since unification of north and south Yemen in 1990, and especially after a bloody civil war between the two sides of the country in 1994, there has been a systematic attempt to erase the identity of south Yemen.

They claim that southerners don’t have proper representation in the central government, and that the government takes resources found in southern governorates, namely oil, without investing back in the south’s infrastructure.

Yemen’s government accuses separatists of harming national unity and stirring up trouble. On Thursday, Gov. Adnan Al Jafari of Aden told local press “security and stability are the responsibility of everyone.” He added, “We must learn from other countries that have lost their security and stability and use that in positive ways for our country.”

The government has also tried to link secessionists to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the regional terrorist franchise based in Yemen. AQAP, for its part, has sought to play on southerners’ grievances in order to unite the two groups against their common enemy, the Yemeni state. Separatists deny that they have any ties with AQAP, and instead blame the existence of Al Qaeda in Yemen on the Saleh regime.

A fast-closing window

Because clashes happen far from the eyes of international observers, it difficult to assess whether the perpetual violence in Yemen’s south between security forces and armed factions comes from Al Qaeda or harak, the Arabic name for southern separatists. However, what is certain is that this violence what has worried Western governments that destabilization in this area allows AQAP to move freely.

“The deterioration of the south would lead to instability of the entire countries and will definitely provide space for Al Qaeda to function. The southern separatist movement is not allied to Al Qaeda but the absence of state control gives Al Qaeda space to exist in areas that are controlled by harak,” said independent Yemeni political analyst Abdul-Ghani Al Iryani.

“The lack of unified leadership [in the separatist movement] makes it difficult for the government to reach a deal and therefore Harak will continue until the legitimate aspiration of the people of the south are achieved and that is still within the ability of the central government to provide in the context of unity, but I see that this window is fast closing,” he said.

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The Egyptian Revolution and The Gulf States

Posted on 11 February 2011 by hashimilion

It’s no longer a secret that an uprising in the Gulf States is a big possibility, especially since its people have always connected with the cultural and political movements, which emanated from Egypt,  the epicentre of the Arab world.

The current Islamic movement began in Egypt in the 1930s. Intellectuals from all over the Arab world flocked to Egypt in order to come into contact with the new leadership, its ideas and goals, which were later exported  to other parts of the world.

When the free officers revolution in 1952 had manny supports in the Gulf States to the extent that many participated in demonstrators against their authoritarian regimes.

Analysts are aware that the Egyptian revolution will have a major impact on the Arab world, specifically the Gulf States, whose people are anxiously waiting to see the results of this popular revolution.

The Egyptian revolution  has sent a clear message to the world, change is inevitable. No power in the world, no matter how strong it may be can stop the people from achieving their aspirtaions.

Mubarak’s delaying tactics won’t change the reality on the ground, especially since his status as the head of the regime has fallen. Mubarak’s departure signals the collapse of the regime.

The events of the 25th of January were a major historical turning point. Egyptians were liberated from fear. President Mubarak lost his confidence and legitimacy as direct result of the demonstrations.

What has been said about Mubarak’s regime also applies to the Gulf Shiekhdoms, who buy America’s loyalty in order to shore up their power base. These dictators have no other option but to introduce quick and substantial reforms. The changes that have started in Egypt won’t exclude anyone.

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Saudi Arabia: The Sanctuary for Tyrants

Posted on 20 January 2011 by hashimilion

The former Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali could not find a sanctuary other than Saudi Arabia.

He was rejected by his close friend Muammar Qaddafi and abandoned by the French (Sarkozy) who supported him for more than 22 years.

The number of countries that have refused to received Ben Ali is unknown, which reminds us of the events that took place when the Iranian tyrant was received by the late Egyptian tyrant Anwar Sadat.

Suddenly and out of know where Ben Ali’s plane lands in Jeddah. The Royal Court quickly releases a statement justifying Saudi Arabia’s action. It read as follows:

We understand that the People of Tunis are going through exceptional times right now and hope that security can be reistablished in this dear Arab and Islamic country. We also support any step that will bring benefit to the Tunisian people. The Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has welcomed President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his family to the Kingdom. The Saudi Government declares its full support for the people of Tunis and hope that all Tunisians come together in this very difficult time. God bless you.

Saudi Arabia has become a sanctuary for tyrants.

Ben Ali is not the first leader who has found himself  in exile and on the run before being embraced by the warm Arms of Saudi Arabia. Previous rulers include: Jaafar Numeiry before settling in Egypt, Siad Barre from Somalia, Idi Amin from Uganda, Nawaz Sharif from Pakistan and other little dictators.

What is the secret behind Saudi Arabia’s complex in hosting dictators whilst the world rejects them?

Is Saudi Arabia sympathizing with tyrants because of humanitarian reasons?

The Saudi Royal Court statement considered Ben Ali’s reception as a step that will have a positive effect on Tunisians.

The Saudi Royal family did not show any kindness or mercy when it abducted members of the Tunisian opposition movement, whilst they were preforming their pilgrimage and sent them to Ben Ali for execution.

The best way of showing solidarity with the people of Tunisia is to keep their former rulers on the run, like rats looking for a safe refuge, and far far away from the Arab world, just as Ben Ali had done to his opponents.

Ben Ali was and still is Saudi Arabia’s friend.

The Saudi Princes have always admired Ben Ali and the West because both fought Islamic fundamentalism!!!

In the early 1990s, the Wahabi Sahwa movement accused Prince Naif of following in the same footsteps as Ben Ali, and using the same techniques when suppressing opponents.

The Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif, adopted Ben Ali’s policies in the 1990s in what was regarded as the campaign to “sapping terrorism of its sources”.

Prince Naif used to spend most of his vacations in Tunisa and would be hosted by his friend Ben Ali. Naif’s brothers on the other hand prefer to spend their vacations in Morroco.

The Saudi dictators don’t believe that they are putting their kingdom at risk by receiving the tyrant Ben Ali, even though alot of Ben Ali’s friends are cutting off their ties with him.

Saudi Arabia is a despotic monarchy, which loathes revolutions, especially those that are directed at its friends or allies. The Saudi princes are not accustomed to welcoming any revolution or uprising.

The Al Saud family fear the spread of dissent and revolution fever amongst its happy population. The people’s of Arabia own the largest oil reserve in the world, yet 30% of the population lives under the poverty line (based on official statistics).

The people of Arabia have seen corruption that is unrivalled in the Arab world. The corruption of the Saudi princes exceeds that of the whole Arab World put together.

Saudi University graduates and youth are unemployed, and their levels are far greater than that of Tunis!

Based on these facts, the Al Saud tyrants have a right to be apprehensive towards the revolution taking place in Tunis.

The hearts of the muslim faithful long for Mecca but the Saudi Royal family want to turn it into a sanctuary for tyrants and criminals.

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