Tag Archive | "Saudi"

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Russia Kills ‘Saudi Al-Qaeda Envoy’ In Chechnya

Posted on 22 April 2011 by hashimilion

Doku Umarov

Russian security forces in Chechnya killed a Saudi militant who was the top envoy of Al-Qaeda in the Northern Caucasus and responsible for deadly attacks, the national anti-terror committee said Friday.

The militant — known by the nom-de-guerre of Moganned — was one of three rebels killed in a clash with Russian security forces around the village of Serzhen-Yurt in Chechnya on Thursday afternoon, it said.

“One of the eliminated bandits has been identified as the main emissary of the international terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda in the Northern Caucasus, a citizen of Saudi Arabia by the name of Moganned,” the committee said in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies.

It said that alongside Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov — Russia’s most wanted man who security forces have repeatedly failed to kill over the last years — Moganned was a leading figure among rebels in the region.

After waging two wars against separatists in Chechnya after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Kremlin is now battling an Islamist-tinged insurgency that has also spread to the neighbouring regions of Dagestan and Ingushetia.

The committee said that according to intelligence from detained militants Moganned had fallen out with Umarov and become a rival to the elusive Chechen in the rebel underground.

“Almost all acts of terror using suicide bombers in the last years were prepared with his involvement,” it said.

Moscow over the last year has been rocked by an airport bombing that killed 37 in January 2011 and a twin suicide bombing that killed 40 on the Moscow metro in March 2010.

Both of these attacks have however been claimed by Umarov and Russian officials have also pointed to his involvement. But over the last weeks they have come under increasing pressure to explain their failure to eliminate Umarov.

The Russian authorities have repeatedly indicated that Umarov was killed in the Caucasus, only to be forced into embarrassing backtracking when it emerged that the militant had escaped.

Russia hoped it killed Umarov in an air strike in Ingushetia last month but officials later admitted it appeared he had slipped away again.

A man purporting to be Umarov then telephoned the North Caucasus service of Radio Free Europe, saying that he was “absolutely healthy” and threatened further attacks.

The statement also claimed links between Magonned and Georgia, with whom Russia fought a war in 2008 and still retains tense relations.

It said he had been hoping this summer to receive a batch of new fighters from over the border with Georgia and with their help win overall control of the insurgency in the Caucasus.

Russian news agencies said Magonned had been in the Northern Caucasus since 1999 when he arrived to reinforce a group based in Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge led by the notorious Arab militant Khattab, whom Russian forces killed in 2002.

By 2005, he had emerged as the main coordinator for handling money that was coming in from abroad to support the militant underground.

 

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The Al-Ahmar Family

Posted on 20 April 2011 by hashimilion

Abdullah Al-Ahmar

Man reacts in one of two ways after God saves him from poverty. Either he remembers his poverty and uses his newly acquired wealth to assist those in need, or forget his past and become overtaken by greed. Abdullah Hussein Al-Ahmar is a prime example of the latter case.  He lived a miserable life before the Yemeni Revolution but fate and the Al-Saud family had other plans. The Al-Saud family picked Abdullah Al-Ahmar as their man in Yemen by showering him with money from all directions, and enabled him to control the wealth of Yemen. He is primarily responsible for ruining and weakening Yemen.

After the 1990 Yemeni civil war and unification, Abdullah Al-Ahmar used his vast wealth to control the Yemeni politics and society. He gained control by setting up companies that bore his family name, Al-Ahmar, which lead to the monopolisation of Yemen’s resources. He set up businesses such as restaurants, wedding halls and garages, which outcompeted average Yemenis and multiplied his wealth tremendously.

Abdullah Hussein Al-Ahmar and his 10 sons

Banks often complained about the multiplicity of accounts belonging to Al-Ahmar family. This forced the Al-Ahmar family to set up new Banks, whether at home or abroad, through partners such as Bank of Sheba so that the movement of their money avoids detection.

It is a well known fact that Abdullah Al-Ahmar was an extremely selfish man. Not once has he ever contributed towards any charity, but many analysts expected his sons to be different, especially Hamid and Hussein. Many people expected them to provide assistance for those affected by war in Saada excluding Harf Sufyan. Any assistance to Harf Sufyan would be impossible given the historic hostility between the Al-Ahmar family and Harf Sufyan. No assistance was given by Hamid or Hussein and to add salt to the wounds, both rejoiced at the sight of death and destruction in the Saada wars, which was caused by the Popular Army (set up by Hussein Al-Ahmar and funded by Saudi money).

Money gained through corruption won’t last forever. The Al-Ahmar family spend most of their money on mobilising the masses, but never invest on those that suffer and are in dire need. They wish to mobilise the masses so that they can pressurise Ali Abduallah Saleh’s regime into accepting them as a partner in power. One shouldn’t be surprised if Saleh bows down to their demands, especially after Hamid became the opposition leader, which has given their family the opportunity to control both sides of the same coin, the Government and the opposition.

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Saudi Cleric Attacks Iranian “Hypocrisy and Deception”

Posted on 18 April 2011 by hashimilion

Saudi Arabia’s top cleric accused Iran of interfering in the internal affairs of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and attacked its “hypocrisy and deception”, a Saudi newspaper said on Friday.

Gulf Arab countries are concerned over what they see as the ambition of non-Arab Shi’ite power Iran to extend its influence in Arab countries mostly under Sunni rule. Saudi Arabia follows a brand of Sunni Islam that views Shi’ites as heretics.

“We must guard against their (Iranian) intrigues and we have to be wary of them and be careful of their deceits and not fall for their claims about Islam, which are all hypocrisy and deception,” Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh was quoted as saying in the daily Okaz.

The paper said he condemned “Iranian interventions” in the GCC and described Iranians as “Zoroastrians” — followers of the pre-Islamic Persian religion — in language Saudi clerics often use to attack Iranians and Shi’ites.

Bahrain’s Gulf Arab allies accused Iran of interfering in their affairs after Tehran objected to the dispatch of Saudi troops to help Bahrain put down protests last month.

Bahrain, a Sunni Muslim monarchy, received help from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to help break up the pro-democracy protest movement.

The Bahrain crisis has accentuated tensions between Iran and the GCC countries, which Washington sees as counterweights to the Islamic Republic.

Iran’s official IRNA news agency said on Friday Tehran had called on the U.N. Security Council to protect opposition activists in Bahrain, where it said unrest and suppression could destabilise the entire region.

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While the Saudi Elite Looks Nervously Abroad, A Revolution Is Happening

Posted on 14 April 2011 by hashimilion

The Saudi regime is under siege. To the west, its heaviest regional ally, the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, has been ousted. To its north, Syria and Jordan are gripped by a wave of protests which shows no sign of receding. On its southern border, unrest in Yemen and Oman rages on. And troops have been dispatched to Bahrain to salvage its influence over the tiny kingdom exerted through the Khalifa clan, and prevent the contagion from spreading to Saudi Arabia’s turbulent eastern provinces, the repository of both its biggest oil reserves and largest Shia population.

Such fears of contagion no longer seem far-fetched. Shortly after the toppling of the Tunisian dictator, an unidentified 65-year-old man died after setting himself on fire in Jizan province, just north of the border with Yemen. Frequent protests urge political reform, and internet campaigns demand the election of a consultative assembly, the release of political prisoners, and women’s rights – one that called for a day of rage on 11 March attracted 26,000 supporters.

The government’s response was in keeping with a country named the region’s least democratic state by the Economist Intelligence Unit last year. Tear gas and live bullets were fired at peaceful demonstrators as helicopters crisscrossed the skies. One of the 11 March organisers, Faisal abdul-Ahad, was killed, while hundreds have been arrested, joining 8,000 prisoners of conscience – among them the co-founder of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, Mohammed Saleh al-Bejadi. Many Saudis have even been detained when seeking news of relatives at the interior ministry, like Mubarak bin Zu’air, a lawyer whose father and brother have long been held without charge, and 17-yearold Jihad Khadr whose brother Thamir, a rights activist is also missing. A short video tackling the taboo of political prisoners attracted over 72,000 views since its release 4 days ago.

Although demands for change date back to 1992’s Advice Memorandum – a petition for reform submitted by scholars to the king – the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions have accelerated them. In an unprecedented move, a group of activists and intellectuals defied the official ban on political organisation to announce the formation of the kingdom’s first political party (all 10 founding members have since been arrested). And calls for reform have even come from the royal family, with Prince Turki Al Faisal appealing for elections to the Shura, the appointed parliament, at the Jeddah Economic Forum two weeks ago.

What had been whispered behind closed doors for years is being discussed openly not only in social networking sites, but even in front of cameras – as Khaled al-Johani did to a BBC crew in defiance of the hundreds of police, disappearing soon after. And although the regime seeks to appeal to sectarian divisions and invoke the threat of Iran in order to delegitimise dissent, the truth is that the discontent is found across Saudi society, fed by political repression and developmental failure, as a result of corruption, government malfunctioning, and the squandering of billions on arms. You need look no further than ravaged Jeddah after the floods of 2009 and 2011 to see that marginalisation is not unique to the kingdom’s Shia.

Along with the visible political threats facing the regime, it is beset by a more potent social challenge. This is the product of the advancing process of modernisation in Saudi society, with growing urbanisation, mass education, tens of thousands of foreign-taught students, and widespread communication media, with one of the region’s highest percentages of internet users (almost 40%, double that of Egypt). The country’s gigantic oil wealth has taken the society from a simple, predominantly desert existence to a model of affluent consumerism in the space of a few decades. Yet this rapid transformation has not been matched at the culture level, causing a yawning gap between social reality and a conservative ideology imposed by the regime and justified via an intimate alliance between the ruling clan and the Wahhabi clerical establishment with its austere Hanbali interpretation of Islam. This is not to say that the clerical council and its religious police are the decision-makers in Saudi Arabia. They are mere government employees who provide a divine seal for choices made by the king and his coterie of emirs. Their role is to issue the monarch with edicts like the one that sanctioned the “appeal to infidels for protection” when US troops were summoned to the Gulf in 1991.

As a price for political quietism, the clerics’ hands are left untied in the social realm, where they are granted unlimited authority over the monitoring and control of individual and public conduct. No one has paid a greater price for this ruler-cleric pact than women. While turning a blind eye to the monarch and his elite’s political authoritarianism, financial corruption, and subordination to American diktats, these divine warriors turn their muscle on women instead. Every minutia of their lives is placed under the clerics’ watchful gaze, rigorously monitored by draconian religious edicts rejected by the majority of Muslims; they are denied the right to drive, enter into any form of legal agreement, vote, or even receive medical care without a guardian’s consent. But as Hanadi, a Saudi friend, put it: “It’s all hypocrisy. While we are forbidden from baring any flesh in public, including our faces, the TV channels funded by the emirs are the most promiscuous ones around. You don’t see any black robes or niqabs there, only half-naked young girls gyrating to the beat of cheap pop music. It’s a shameless exploitation of religion.”

Now Saudi Arabia finds itself in the eye of the Arab revolutionary storm, its religious and financial arms have been deployed to fortify the status quo. As well as made-to-fit fatwas prohibiting dissent as fitna (division and social strife) and demonstrations and pickets as forms of “insurrection against rulers”, the regime has resorted to bribing its subjects in return for allegiance and acquiescence. On his return from a three-month medical trip in US, the ailing 87-year-old King Abdullah announced financial handouts worth an astonishing $129bn – more than half the country’s oil revenues last year – including a 15% rise for state employees, reprieves for imprisoned debtors, financial aid for students and the unemployed, and the promise of half a million homes at affordable prices – not to mention increases to the religious police budget.

Externally the regime draws sustenance from its “special relationship” with the US. In return for keeping the oil supply steady and pouring billions into the American treasury through arms deals, the Al-Saud family gets a US commitment to complete protection.

Does this mean that the country’s fate is to remain ruled by an absolutist system where the notion of the citizen is non-existent and power is monopolised by an ageing king and his clan? That is unlikely, for Saudi Arabia is not God’s eternal kingdom on Earth and is not impervious to the change that is required internally and regionally. The question is not whether change is coming to Saudi Arabia, but what its nature and scope will be.

By Soumaya Ghannoushi

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Defence Minister Explains The Use of Air Strikes on Houthis

Posted on 11 April 2011 by hashimilion

S E C R E T RIYADH 000159

NOFORN

SIPDIS

FOR NEA/ARP: JHARRIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/17/2025 U

TAGS: PREL, PINR, SA, YM

SUBJECT: (S) SAUDI ARABIA: RENEWED ASSURANCES ON SATELLITE

IMAGERY

REF: SECSTATE 8892

Classified By: Amb. James B. Smith for reasons 1.4 (b, c and d)

SUMMARY

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1. (S/NF) Ambassador met with Assistant Minister of Defense and Aviation Prince Khaled bin Sultan to relay U.S. concerns about sharing USG imagery with Saudi Arabia in light of evidence that Saudi aircraft may have struck civilian targets during its fighting with the Houthis in northern Yemen.

Prince Khaled described the targeting decision-making process and while not denying that civilian targets might have been hit, gave unequivocal assurances that Saudi Arabia considered it a priority to avoid strikes against civilian targets. Based on the assurances received from Prince Khaled, the Ambassador has approved, as authorized in reftel, the provision of USG imagery of the Yemeni border area to the Saudi Government. End summary.

USG CONCERNS ABOUT POSSIBLE STRIKES ON CIVILIAN TARGETS

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2. (S/NF) Ambassador Smith delivered points in reftel to Prince Khaled on February 6, 2010. The Ambassador highlighted USG concerns about providing Saudi Arabia with satellite imagery of the Yemen border area absent greater certainty that Saudi Arabia was and would remain fully in compliance with the laws of armed conflict during the conduct of military operations, particularly regarding attacks on civilian targets. The Ambassador noted the USG’s specific concern about an apparent Saudi air strike on a building that the U.S. believed to be a Yemeni medical clinic. The Ambassador showed Prince Khaled a satellite image of the bomb-damaged building in question.

IF WE HAD THE PREDATOR, THIS MIGHT NOT HAVE HAPPENED

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3. (S/NF) Upon seeing the photograph, Prince Khalid remarked, “This looks familiar,” and added, “if we had the Predator, maybe we would not have this problem.” He noted that Saudi Air Force operations were necessarily being conducted without the desired degree of precision, and recalled that a clinic had been struck, based on information received from Yemen that it was being used as an operational base by the Houthis. Prince Khalid explained the Saudi approach to its fight with the Houthis, emphasizing that the Saudis had to hit the Houthis very hard in order to “bring them to their knees” and compel them to come to terms with the Yemeni government. “However,” he said, “we tried very hard not to hit civilian targets.” The Saudis had 130 deaths and the Yemenis lost as many as one thousand. “Obviously,” Prince Khaled observed, “some civilians died, though we wish that this did not happen.”

HOW THE TARGETS WERE SELECTED

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4. (S/NF) Prince Khaled gave the Ambassador further background, explaining that the targets given to the Saudi Air Force were studied and recommended by a Saudi-Yemeni joint committee headed by Saudi and Yemeni general officers. That joint committee reported to him, and no targets were struck unless they had clearance from this joint committee. “Did they make mistakes? Possibly.” Prince Khaled also reported that the Saudis had problems with some of the targeting recommendations received from the Yemeni side. For instance, there was one occasion when Saudi pilots aborted a strike, when they sensed something was wrong about the information they received from the Yemenis. It turned out that the site recommended to be hit was the headquarters of General Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar, the Yemeni northern area military commander, who is regarded as a political opponent to President Saleh. This incident prompted the Saudis to be more cautious about targeting recommendations from the Yemeni government.

CEASEFIRE COMING SOON

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5. (S/NF) The Ambassador told Prince Khaled that the USG is looking to Saudi Arabia to help bring an end to the Houthi fighting soon. Prince Khaled responded that Saudi Arabia is “looking for ways to end this conflict in a way that fosters good relations.” He said that he met with President Saleh last Wednesday to discuss Houthi ceasefire terms, and they agreed that, so long as the Houthis deliver on the terms they offered, there should be news about a ceasefire “within a week.” As part of the ceasefire arrangements the Yemeni military will be deployed on the Yemeni side of the border to prevent future Houthi incursions into Saudi Arabia. “Then,” Prince Khaled noted, “we can concentrate on Al-Qaida.”

COMMENT

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6. (S/NF) Prince Khaled, in addressing the Ambassador’s concerns about possible targeting of civilian sites appeared neither defensive nor evasive. He was unequivocal in his assurance that Saudi military operations had been and would continue to be conducted with priority to avoiding civilian casualties. The Ambassador found this assurance credible, all the more so in light of Prince Khaled’s acknowledgment that mistakes likely happened during the strikes against Houthi targets, of the inability of the Saudi Air Force to operate with adequate precision, and the unreliability of Yemeni targeting recommendations. Based on these assurances, the Ambassador has approved, as authorized in reftel, the provision of USG imagery of the Yemeni border area to the Saudi Government. While the fighting with the Houthis appears to be drawing to a close, the imagery will be of continuing value to the Saudi military to monitor and prevent Houthi incursions across the border as well as enhancing Saudi capabilities against Al-Qaeda activities in this area.

SMITH

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Gulf States Expect Yemen’s Saleh To Quit

Posted on 07 April 2011 by hashimilion

Gulf states leading mediation efforts to end a political crisis in Yemen hope to reach a deal by which embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh would quit, Qatar’s prime minister said on Thursday.

Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council “hope to reach a deal with the Yemeni president to step down,” Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani said according to QNA state news agency.

Foreign ministers of the GCC agreed Sunday to begin contacts with the Yemeni government and the opposition “with ideas to overcome the current situation”.

Qatar daily Alarab said the Gulf proposal which was presented to Yemeni parties calls on Saleh to step down and pass power to an interim national council comprising tribal and key political figures.

Both sides have received invitations to hold talks in the Saudi capital Riyadh, but a date of such talks has not been disclosed.

According to medics and witnesses, about 125 people have been killed in Yemen’s crackdown on protesters, who launched nationwide demonstrations in late January to unseat Saleh, in power since 1978.

The GCC groups Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia with Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

 

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Saudi Arabia Is Behind the Destruction of Shrines

Posted on 06 April 2011 by hashimilion

Alulbayt Association in Egypt condemns the Salafi attacks on Shrines.

The Association also holds Saudi Arabia responsible for the attacks because it encouraged the Egyptian Salafis. The association urged the Military Council to put a stop to the relentless Salafi attacks on shrines, which have increased since the 25th of January Revolution. If not, conflict will erupt between muslims.

The Association accused the extremists of actively defending Mubarak.

The Statement also called for setting up an alliance between the Alulbayt Association, the Ashraf and Sufis in order to put a stop to Salafi threats and attacks.

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Defense Secretary to Meet With Saudi King

Posted on 06 April 2011 by hashimilion

After a rebuff last month from King Abdullah, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates arrived here on Wednesday to consult with the Saudi ruler on the revolts sweeping the Middle East and North Africa and to try to warm up unusually cold relations with the United States.

Pentagon officials said Mr. Gates’s talks would focus on a recent $60 billion deal to sell arms to Saudi Arabia and the threat of Iran in the region, a major concern for the Saudis. The American officials skirted questions on whether Mr. Gates would criticize the king for sending troops into Bahrain last month to help crush a Shiite-led rebellion there.

“The king has fashioned himself as a reformer in the Saudi system,” said a senior defense official traveling with Mr. Gates, who under Pentagon ground rules refused to be named. “They’re going to have to find their own path.”

The officials’ positive comments underscored the desire of the Pentagon to put a hopeful face on what is likely to be a tense visit. The Saudis have been angry that President Obama abandoned President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in the face of widespread protests in Cairo, and the United States was not happy when the Saudis ignored a request that they not send troops into Bahrain. A subsequent phone call between Mr. Obama and King Abdullah has been widely described as difficult and did nothing to smooth relations.

But Pentagon officials are pleased that the king, America’s most important Arab ally, agreed to receive Mr. Gates.

In March the Saudis canceled planned visits to Riyadh by Mr. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, saying that the king was not well. But Pentagon and State Department officials were left wondering if the king was more upset than ill. Subsequently, an Arab official said King Abdullah’s willingness to listen to the Obama administration had “evaporated” since Mr. Mubarak was forced from office.

The two countries disagree most fundamentally on Bahrain, where a Sunni monarch oversees a nation with a Shiite majority. The Saudis believe that the Shiite uprising next door in Bahrain might encourage a similar revolt by Saudi Arabia’s own Shiite minority population, a concern that the Obama administration does not dispute. The United States wants Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to adopt political reforms that might lead to a larger voice for the Shiites.

The disagreement came home to Mr. Gates vividly last month, when he had talks with the ruling family of Bahrain and then asserted that he was confident they were headed toward reform in the face of protests. Within 24 hours after he left for Washington, the Saudis had sent in troops.

Saudi Arabia is the third largest supplier of oil to the United States and possesses the world’s largest petroleum reserves. The United States also views Saudi Arabia as its best defense in the region against Iran.

Given the importance of Saudi Arabia to the United States, the defense official said, “As we stand up for our principles, while still trying to protect our interests, we’re going to have to take a pragmatic approach.”

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