Middle East (NEO) – There’s a good chance that the dreams about peace and prosperity won’t betray the people of the Middle East this year around. It won’t be an exaggeration to state that that’s what the absolute majority of those Read More
World (Sputnik) – Over 5,000 migrants bound for Europe died while crossing the Mediterranean Sea in 2016, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Friday. The previous 2016 figure, released by the IOM in early December, put the number of those dead at 4,733, which Read More
Middle East (NI) – At the beginning of this year, former prime minister of Portugal, António Guterres, became the new United Nations Secretary-General. He arrives at a time when the role of international institutions and the so-called established order are Read More
How long will it take for the European ‘crisis’ to be re-framed as the new norm, and what are the potential consequences of that shift?
Transition, not crisis
When things go wrong, we generally tend to speak of crisis. Yet, the term ‘crisis’ refers to the ‘exceptional’, to a harmful turmoil that will sooner or later diminish to a parenthesis before returning to normality. Well, this is not the case anymore. The reality we live in is not a human rights crisis. It is a new era. It is a transition: nowhere as visible as in the collective condition of vulnerability that saturates global politics from Sub-Saharan Africa and South America to the Far and Middle East, Europe and Central Asia. Seeing the juncture as a transition, as a chain of causes and consequences, implies that we should conceptualise the ‘crisis’ as a meaningful movement away from and not toward democracy.
One of the West’s key allies in the Middle East has admitted to what it calls “limited use” of UK-manufactured cluster bombs in Yemen. These types of munitions are banned under international law.
When a cluster bomb explodes, it releases several smaller projectiles which allows the damage to spread to a larger area– potentially putting civilian lives at risk. These sub-munitions can also essentially become landmines. Cluster bombs were banned under international law in 2010– a treaty Britain signed upon its creation in 2008. However, Saudi Arabia and most of their coalition partners– including the United States– have not signed this same treaty.
As Europe continues to grapple with growing Islamophobia fueled by a surging refugee crisis and Islamist terrorism, questions are increasingly being raised on whether Islam is compatible with European civilization. In order to address this subject and counter the growing intolerance on the continent, a coalition of NGOs, academics and activists decided to organize a summit in Sarajevo on the topic of Islamophobia.
Despite the city’s relatively low profile on the European radar, many answers to today’s vital questions appear to lie within the tolerant and multicultural city of Sarajevo. Hence, this was the chosen location for the first European Summit on Islamophobia, which took place from 24 – 26 June 2016.
The United States has announced they will be canceling– or at least holding off– on an expected arms sale to Saudi Arabia due to the high number of civilian casualties in Yemen. However, military aid in other areas will continue flowing to Riyadh. Other Gulf allies complicit in the Saudi-led coalition will continue to receive military aid as well.
On December 8th, the U.S. Defense Department announced five major upcoming weapon deals including sales to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates. If completed, the deals were expected to total a whopping $7.9 billion. These five are on top of the sales announced in November to Qatar and Kuwait. Well now Washington appears to be backing-out of the Saudi part of the deal– but not entirely.
A Reuters exclusive reported today that the United States would be halting some air dropped munitions destined for Saudi Arabia including precision-guided munitions. Instead, Washington has decided to focus on beefing-up security along the Saudi-Yemeni border and intelligence sharing. “It’s not a matter of how smart or dumb the bombs are, it’s that they’re not picking the right targets. The case in point … is the one on the funeral,” an official said.
The Bible’s book of Galatians, VI teaches, «as you sow, so shall you reap». And for Saudi Arabia, which has overtly and covertly supported rebellions in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Ethiopia, Philippines, and Lebanon that have led to civil wars and inter-religious strife, the day of reckoning may soon be at hand. The present Saudi king, Salman bin Abdul Aziz, is the last of the sons of the first Saudi king, Abdul Aziz al Saud, who will ever sit on the Saudi throne. After Salman dies, Saudi leadership will pass to a new generation of Saudi royals. But not all the descendants of the first Saudi king are happy about how the future succession may turn out.
Salman named his nephew, Mohammed bin Nayef, as crown prince after firing his half-brother, Mugrin bin Abdul Aziz, as crown prince after the death of King Abdullah in 2015. For good measure, Salman also named his son, Mohammad bin Salman, who is little-known outside the kingdom, as deputy prime minister. The 30-year old Mohammad bin Salman is seen by some as the eventual crown prince after King Salman figures out some way to ease Mohammad bin Nayef, the Interior Minister and close friend of the United States, out of the position of heir apparent to the throne.
Men, women and children in Yemen are at risk of “catastrophic hunger” as the conflict between a Saudi Arabian led coalition and the Yemeni government continues.
Mass unemployment, rising food prices and a drop in exports means people in Yemen could run out of food fast, international charity Oxfam has warned.
According to a report from the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC), European countries who are taking part in the US-led coalition against ISIS are more likely to suffer terrorist attacks at home– and the trend is expected to rise.
France ranked especially high on the list; Belgium, Germany, and the UK are also particularly susceptible to attacks. Ultimately however, the report also states that any country participating in the US-led coalition can expect a wave of “IS inspired attacks” from both organized groups and lone wolves. Attacks on European soil are not only expected to increase, but the ECTC expects attackers to shift away from symbolic targets and focus towards more soft targets with more civilian casualties. They expect the attacks carried out by organized groups to become more complex and could involve more car bomb style attacks similar to those in Iraq.
Questions and suspicion now embody three deaths of US military operatives in Jordan. Now, decide for yourself which is sketchier. That the men were working for the CIA, or their alleged killer was a man in Jordanian uniform? Despite an ongoing government terrorism investigation, news is as discreet as their Jordanian mission.
According to the Washington Post, this represents the deadliest CIA-involved incident since 2009. Sources claim the men were ambushed while en route to a Jordanian military training facility.
Jordan’s status as an important regional ally deeply sensitizes the incident. It’s now confirmed that the Americans received fire from a Jordanian soldier, shortly after their convoy was allowed through a security gate. As of yet, FBI can’t rule out the possibility of a “mistake” having occurred. The Jordanian government is launching a parallel, independent inquiry.
A British woman reported her alleged gang rape in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) only to end up being charged with ‘extramarital sex’ as her attackers were released on bail.
The victim works as an IT consultant in the united gulf kingdoms, which is primarily populated by people not originally from the Islamic theocracy. Despite the fact that Emirates only make up around 11% of the population, the country is still governed under strict Islamic law similar to that of their neighbor, Saudi Arabia.
The unnamed woman was allegedly raped by two other U.K. expats. She reported the incident to the authorities in Dubai but then was later served with the charge of extramarital sex and has to be bailed out of police custody. Her passport was seized as she tried to board a flight for Australia, so she can’t leave the country while awaiting trial.
Northern Ireland’s Economy Minister has rejected calls to suspend security and justice projects with Bahrain and Egypt.
International human rights group Reprieve wrote to Stormont’s Economy Minister, Simon Hamilton MLA, warning that a Northern Irish government-owned company, NI-CO, was involved in security and justice programmes that risked complicity in torture and death sentences in the Middle East. In his reply, the Minister refused to step in, claiming that responsibility lies with the UK Foreign Office and the European Union, who fund the multi-million pound projects.
However, NI-CO’s chief executive is ultimately responsible to the Economy’s Department permanent secretary, according to an official report. Last month, UK Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood failed to tell Parliament, when asked, whether he had warned the Northern Ireland Executive about the risks involved in NI-CO’s work.
October 2001 made it into history as clear evidence of the reckless plans of Washington ‘strategists’ for gaining worldwide domination. It is the period when the aggressive invasion of US troops in Afghanistan under the false pretext of revenge for the sad events of 911 began. However, neither then, nor now was there any evidence that it was Afghanistan and the Taliban that were involved in the attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre. Besides, it is reliably known that most of the actual players (but not the masterminds) were Saudi nationals. However, Washington and Riyadh were friends back then, and instead of Saudi Arabia, it was Afghanistan (who was guilty of nothing) that was thrown under the steamroller of the most powerful army.
Pressure from human rights organizations like Oxfam to victims of the 9/11 attacks are helping erode the bond between these old political allies, but the results of this election season could squander our chance at change.
Congress recently passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) allowing families of victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks to sue other governments, including Saudi Arabia, for possible damages.
Despite threats by the Saudi government to sell billions of dollars’ worth of their assets and reexamine the bilateral relationship with the U.S., Congress snubbed the monarchy and passed the bill, then overturned a presidential veto to it almost unanimously.