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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Bahrain’

Arab League Mulls Formally Declaring Hezbollah a Terror Entity

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

The Arab League is considering a move to join the Gulf Cooperation Council, the United States and the European Union in listing Lebanon-based Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

It is a move aimed not only at Hezbollah, but rather at isolating Iran, which is increasing its hold on the region via its proxies.

Arab nations in the region particularly fear Iran’s galloping progress in the nuclear technology field, which the United Nations and world powers failed to restrain.

Bahrain is behind the move. The tiny island kingdom, a member of the GCC and the Arab League, was the first Arab nation to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist entity in March 2013.

Saudi Arabia’s neighbor has struggled since the Arab Spring of 2011 with violence from its Shi’ite population, which was stirred up into a hornet’s nest by outside agitators.

King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa of Bahrain has been the driving force to persuade the Arab League to designate Hezbollah a terror group.

The GCC designation can result in sanctions against businesses and institutions associated with Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran.

Hana Levi Julian

Kuwait Joins Sunni Nations Cutting Ties With Iran

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Kuwait became the fourth Sunni Muslim nation on Tuesday to cut diplomatic ties with Iran following a crisis that began last weekend between the Islamic Republic and Saudi Arabia.

Citing “torching and sabotage activities” at the Saudi Arabian embassy by an Iranian mob in Tehran, Kuwait recalled its ambassador from the Iranian capital.

Kuwait follows Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan, all of whom have recalled their ambassadors from Tehran over the incident as well.

“Such action constitutes a flagrant breach of international conventions and violation of Iran’s international commitment over security and safety of diplomatic missions on its lands,” said the Kuwaiti foreign ministry in a statement.

Rioters in Tehran stormed the Saudi Arabian embassy over the weekend, smashing furnishings and other items inside the building and then torching the offices. The attack came in response to the execution by Saudi Arabia of prominent Shi’ite Muslim Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. The cleric was among 47 convicts executed Saturday in the Sunni Muslim kingdom on charges of terrorism.

The United Nations Security Council has also stepped into the breach, condemning “in the strongest terms” the attack on Saudi Arabia’s embassy, as well as on a Saudi Arabian consulate in Iran.

The Council called on Iran to “protect diplomatic and consular premises against any intrusion or damage.”

But Saudi Arabia is not likely to provide Iran with that opportunity at this point: Riyadh has already severed its ties with Tehran and ejected Iran’s ambassador from the kingdom.

Moreover, an unrepentant President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that Riyadh could not cover its “crime” by severing political relations with Tehran, Press TV reported.

Both Russia and China have issued statements calling on the two sides to “use restraint” and reconsider their actions in view of the impact such a conflict might have on the stability of the region. But the long-simmering tensions between Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims have been cooking in nearly every Arab nation in the Middle East.

Those issues have been responsible to a great extent for the savage civil war that has completely destroyed Syria, and still rages in what once was a single Arab nation in that place. The same issues are responsible for the lack of a new president in Lebanon, for more than a year.

Ultimately, the conflict between Sunni and Shi’a Islam will either be resolved between the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran’s Ayatollahs — in which case the two will united against Israel — or it will likely become responsible for a new breakdown of order in Arab nations where governments have no adequate grip on their societies.

Hana Levi Julian

Bahrain, UAE, Sudan Join Saudi Arabia, Sever Ties with Shi’ite Iran

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Several Gulf Arab nations and at least one African country have downgraded their ties with Shi’ite Iran after Saudi Arabia cut its ties with the Islamic Republic, with the possibility that more may follow.

The move came after a Tehran mob stormed and torched the Saudi Arabian embassy and consulate buildings. In response, Saudi Arabia suspended all air traffic between the two countries. A letter was also immediately sent to the United Nations Security Council, accusing Iran of failing to protect the Saudi embassy.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Jaberi Ansari denied the charges, saying no Saudi diplomats were harmed in the incident; he added that none were even present during the attack.

He neatly sidestepped the fact that the building was torched and that all the interior furnishings were completely smashed by the mob that stormed the building. Instead, Ansari claimed Saudi Arabia was “looking for some excuses to pursue its own unwise policies to further tension in the region.”

But Iranian security personnel did nothing to stop the destruction of the embassy until after the embassy offices were completely smashed; at which point, authorities called for “calm.”

The destruction of the diplomatic properties came in response to Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shi’ite cleric on Saturday. Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was one of a total of 47 who were executed on charges of terrorism.

Nimr was known as a vocal activist who opposed the Saudi regime, and who led a vigorous Shi’ite Muslim minority movement in Sunni Muslim-led Saudi Arabia. Iran threatened at the time of the execution that Saudi Arabia would “pay dearly” for Nimr’s death.

By Sunday, Saudi Arabia had cut its ties with Iran and expelled the ambassador, giving him 48 hours to leave the kingdom.

The United Arab Emirates and the island nation of Bahrain – Sunni-ruled monarchies – also both notified Iranian diplomats they had 48 hours to leave the kingdom.

The UAE recalled its ambassador from Tehran and announced it would reduce the number of diplomats stationed in Iran, according to the WAM state news agency. The government said in a statement, the UAE “has taken this exceptional step in light of Iran’s ongoing interference in internal [Gulf Cooperation Council] and Arab affairs that has recently reached unprecedented levels.”

Iran was was also accused by Bahraini officials of “increasing, flagrant and dangerous meddling” in the affairs of Gulf states – again, not the first time Iran has been accused of such activity. A similar charge was leveled against the Islamic Republic during the Arab Spring revolutions, when Tehran was accused of stirring uprisings among Shi’ite populations within the Sunni-led kingdoms and emirates. Bahrain also severed its ties with Iran.

Likewise, the majority Sunni Muslim nation of Sudan also expressed its disapproval of the Iranian attack on the Saudi embassy, calling the mob action “barbaric”. As with Bahrain and the UAE, Sudan also severed its diplomatic ties with Iran, expelling the Iranian ambassador and the entire Iranian diplomatic mission from the country. Sudan also recalled its own ambassador from Tehran.

Russia and China have now both released statements calling for “restraint” on the parts of Iran and Saudi Arabia. Both have expressed concern about escalation of tensions in the region, and have asked both parties to work together to “safeguard the region’s peace and stability.”

Hana Levi Julian

First Time in the Arab World: Events Marking the Holocaust

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Two unusual events relating to Holocaust remembrance recently took place in the Arab world – a first official conference on the Holocaust in Tunisia and the first visit by an Arab diplomat to a Holocaust memorial site, when Bahraini ambassador to France Nasser Al-Balushi visited a memorial near Paris.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reports that Tunisia held the Arab world’s first official Holocaust conference in December, attended by historians, clerics, authors, and journalists who dealt with the Tunisian Jewish Holocaust. The purpose of the conference was to commemorate the 5,000 Tunisian Jews who were sent to labor camps or European death camps during the Nazi rule of the country. Speakers praised Tunisian Muslims who helped Jews during the Holocaust, including Khaled ‘Abd Al-Wahhab, who hid 20 Jews in his factory.

The president of the Association to Support Minorities, Yamina Thabet, said that “the conference aims to preserve the issue of the Holocaust in public consciousness… and ensure that a depraved act such as the Nazi Holocaust will never happen again in any form.”

The event sparked harsh criticism from some elements in the Arab world, who claim that the Holocaust is a fabrication, and that these measures constitute normalization with Israel and ‘a betrayal of the Palestinian cause.’”

Also last month, AFP, reported Bahraini ambassador to France Nasser Al-Balushi visited the Holocaust memorial center in Drancy near Paris. This was the first visit by a Muslim diplomat to the site, which was established in September 2012. The Bahraini ambassador laid a wreath on the monument and said, “It is our duty to act together to combat any expression of intolerance and hatred. Bahrain is a Muslim country, but its laws enable coexistence with other religious groups. Alongside mosques, [Bahrain] has synagogues, churches, and [other] houses of worship.”

Bahraini MP Khaled Al-Maloud of the Al-Asala Islamic bloc said that the visit was “shameful” and did not represent the Bahraini people, who stands alongside the Palestinian cause and is proud of its Arab and Islamic principles. He added: “Islam forbids harming innocents… But in today’s world it is known that the so-called Jewish Holocaust is a lie and a deception whose disgraceful [nature] is clear to all, and which was meant to harm the rights of the Palestinian people and [facilitate] the theft of its lands. The real Holocaust is the one taking place against Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and all the Palestinian territories, where they have been suffering killing, expulsion and uprooting by the Zionist gangs for close to 100 years.”

Another Bahraini MP, Hassan Bokhamas, claimed in a similar vein that the visit contradicts basic Bahraini, Arab, and Islamic principles related to support of the Jerusalem and Palestine cause and the boycott of the Zionist entity.

Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency

The Obama Administration’s New 7 Pillars of Middle East ‘Wisdom’

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

See introduction, Obama policy, the second term: “”Second-Term Obama Agenda: Part 1: –  Why U.S. Policy Betrayed the Moderates.” These are the new (hopefully temporary):

White House’s Seven Pillars of Idiocy in the Middle East:

(NAMED AFTER LAWRENCE OF ARABIA’S VERSION)

One:  Other than aid and official government rhetoric, the United States is now neutral on the Israel-Palestinian conflict and, to put it more accurately, tilting toward the Palestinian side.    This does not mean disaster for Israel—and no Israeli official will say so in public–but it is a strategic reality. Part of the dynamic motivating this U.S. policy is that:

–The White House believes it can win over “moderate Islamists” in power as in Egypt, Sudan, Turkey, Tunisia, Bahrain, Iran, and Syria, among other countries. This would form a pro-U.S. bloc against al-Qaida and, secondarily the Iran-Syria bloc. Only al-Qaida cannot be won over; but the White House believes that even the Taliban, the Tehran rulers, Hezbollah, and Hamas might be convinced. (I’m not kidding and can prove it.)

–Rather than mobilize active opposition to Palestinian Authority diplomatic gains in Europe, the UN, the World Court, and international institutions, the Obama Administration is eitherleading exploiting, or bowing to these gains.

–This of course intensifies Western cultural surrender to anti-Israel positions. Here’s an example: The highly prestigious Foyle’s bookstore in London has closed its Israel section. If you know London, you know what an intellectual earthquake that is.

–The United States will not privately pressure or publicly criticize Palestinian Authority policies or statements, but will not hesitate to do so for Israel.   -The Palestinian Authority is not even held responsible for its total inability to deliver half the Palestinian forces, including Hamas and the Gaza Strip. Imagine a White House not thrilled to use the Egyptian coup regime to press and suppress Hamas! Their strategy would be to make a deal: Palestinian concessions to get a state in exchange for the capture of Gaza! Who has even thought of that! Of course the talks will not go anywhere because the Palestinians know that they have a strong hand and they will overplay it. But, the administration’s willingness to punish Israel to win public relations points and shore up the doomed U.S. alignment with Islamists had to be reckoned with.

The problem is by no means regarding U.S.-Israel relations alone, but it is with every Middle Eastern ally and with every potentially pro-U.S democratic opposition movement.

Second pillar: The system the White House seeks to impose on the Middle East appears to be revolutionary Islamism! If many objective Iranian, Turkish, Kurdish, Israeli, and Arab observers see this as self-evident, Islamists themselves view Western policy, however, as a sign of their own victory due to Allah’s backing plus Western fear and weakness.

Consider the bizarre situation in regard to Egypt. The last time, Egypt had to join the enemy  Soviet bloc and wage war on a  U.S. ally to be America’s enemy; now it can do so by joining American goals,  opposing terrorism and working too closely with U.S. allies and goals!  

Third pillar, conservative traditionalists, moderates, and liberals seem to be viewed by the U .S. government as enemies because only Muslim Brotherhood can stop al-Qaida by out-jihading them. Instead of applauding the army coup in Egypt—would that it had happened in Turkey and Tunisia!—the White House opposed it on the belief that the Egyptian masses were the most reactionary advocates of dictatorship and hate Christians, Jews, Shia Muslims, women, gays and of course Americans. That’s partly true but doesn’t mean we should want a the Muslim Brotherhood in power there.

Instead, there is no notion of realpolitik or national interests but this strange foreign policy philosophy. –Surrender is better because it avoids international friction, and especially for conflicts involving America. — The ridiculous notion that sharing power with anti–American radicals will bring internal stability. If you force the army to have a coalition with the Muslim Brotherhood or a predictably unstable two-state solution you will get immunity from civil conflict.

–The idea that betraying allies will make more people want to be allies.

These are the ideas that, remarkably, many pompous statesmen, much prized experts, brilliant academics, and totally ignorant (you’d be amazed how little many know despite their job titles) really believe in.

Barry Rubin

Bahrain to US: Stop Interference, Don’t Meet with Opposition

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

According to news reports in various Arab media, on Sunday, May 5, the cabinet of the island archipelago nation of Bahrain endorsed a parliamentary proposal to “stop interference by the U.S. envoy into the affairs of the kingdom.”

Bahrain, like most other Arab countries in the Middle East, has been experiencing political unrest, attributable to the wave of political revolution popularly known as the “Arab Spring.”  Minority citizens of this island nation have been clamoring for increased rights, especially the Shi’ite minority in this Sunni-dominated country. The ruling al-Khalifa family has aggressively and brutally responded to the incipient efforts at revolution.

The new legislation aimed at the United States is thought to have been motivated by one or both of two issues.

First, the U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain, Thomas Krajeski, has been meeting with members of the Shi’ite opposition. He meets with many different constituencies.  According to a Reuters report, the Cabinet members instructed the government to stop the U.S. ambassador from engaging in “repeated meetings with those who inspire sedition.”

Second, on April 19, the U.S. State Department issued a report highly critical of Bahrain’s response to its own Cherif Bissioni Commission, an internal commission which lambasted its handling of the Arab Spring uprisings within the country.  The U.S. stated that “the most serious human rights problems included citizens’ inability to change their government peacefully; arrest and detention of protesters on vague charges, in some cases leading to their torture in detention.”

The state department’s human rights report on Bahrain also found that forms of discrimination based on “gender, religion, nationality, and sect persisted, especially against the Shiite population.”

This report angered many Bahrainis.

Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, and is among the Persian Gulf countries, such as Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, that receive military equipment from the United States.

Secretary of State John Kerry was in Bahrain on April 30, during a swing through the Middle East. While there, Kerry met with Bahraini Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa.  No public statements were issued, but human rights issues were believed to have been part of the discussions.

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture was set to visit Bahrain in April to follow up on the Bissioni Commission report, but the visit was cancelled by the Al-khalifa regime last month.

On Monday, May 6, the U.S. Navy began exercises from its naval base in Bahrain with 41 other nations in the Persian Gulf.  These exercises will include anti-mine drills and search-and-seizure operations.  The U.S. led exercises are intended as a show of cooperation and force in response to an increasing maritime presence by Iran in the Gulf. The exercises are expected to continue until the end of May.

Bahrain is located in the Persian Gulf, with Saudia Arabia just to its west, and Iran 120 miles to its north, across the Gulf.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Bahrain Officially Labels Hezballah a Terrorist Organization

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

The tiny Gulf State of Bahrain on Tuesday, April 9, became the first Arab country to place the Arab terrorist group Hezballah (Party of Allah) on its state designated terrorist list.

It is not that Bahrain is concerned over Hezballah’s decades-long genocidal intentions against Israel. But as a radical Shia sect, Hezballah also plays a destabilizing role in the Arab world. The terrorist group receives financial support, weapons and military training from Iran.

The Lebanese Shiite movement based in Lebanon has allegedly been backing and training radical Shiite groups against Bahrain.  That appeared to be the main reason the group received the terrorism designation.  Although the majority of Bahrainis are Shia, the monarchy is Sunni.

“The measure is to protect Bahrain’s security and stability from Hezballah’s threats,” Bahraini MP Adil al-Asoumi told Al Arabiya. There is evidence that Hezbollah is instigating violence against the government in Bahrain, Asoumi added.

“When we were in Syrian refugee camps in Turkey, we met with defected Syrian soldiers. They told us that in the past years, the Syrian regime was conspiring against the people of Bahrain,” in coordination with Iran and Hezbollah, Abdulhalim Murad, deputy head of Bahrain’s Islamist al-Asala bloc said, according to Al Arabiya.

The United States, Canada and Israel have all had Hezballah on terrorism-designated lists for some time.  Such a designation means that the bank accounts of the organization can be frozen, and suspected members can be legally monitored.

During the Mubarak regime, Egypt considered Hezballah a terrorist organization, but in late December of last year the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Egyptian government announced it would pursue a “tight relationship” with the terrorist group.

An investigation into the deadly bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria last July, revealed that Hezballah was behind the violence that killed 5 Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver.

In the wake of the Burgas bombing, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barrosso said the European Union would consider including Hezballah on its list of terrorist organizations.  The Israeli government and Shurat HaDin (the Israeli Law Center) had each attempted to convince the EU to make that designation.

However, on March 7, the EU announced it would not make the change, claiming it “did not yet have sufficient evidence of its activity in Europe” to place Hezballah on the EU terrorist organization list.  Presently, Holland is the only European country to officially sanction Hezballah as a terrorist entity.

Were the EU to follow suit behind the U.S., Canada, Holland and Bahrain, and place the terrorist organization on its list of official terrorist groups, it would likely have a serious impact on Hezballah’s financial footing, and therefore its ability to continue its global terrorism operations.

 

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/bahrain-officially-labels-hezballah-a-terrorist-organization/2013/04/10/

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