• Saudis Said to Use Coercion and Abuse to Seize Billions - The New York Times


    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Businessmen once considered giants of the Saudi economy now wear ankle bracelets that track their movements. Princes who led military forces and appeared in glossy magazines are monitored by guards they do not command. Families who flew on private jets cannot gain access to their bank accounts. Even wives and children have been forbidden to travel.

    In November, the Saudi government locked up hundreds of influential businessmen — many of them members of the royal family — in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton in what it called an anti-corruption campaign.

    Most have since been released but they are hardly free. Instead, this large sector of Saudi Arabia’s movers and shakers are living in fear and uncertainty.

    During months of captivity, many were subject to coercion and physical abuse, witnesses said. In the early days of the crackdown, at least 17 detainees were hospitalized for physical abuse and one later died in custody with a neck that appeared twisted, a badly swollen body and other signs of abuse, according to a person who saw the body.

    In an email to The New York Times on Sunday, the government denied accusations of physical abuse as “absolutely untrue.”

    Continue reading the main story

    The Upstart Saudi Prince Who’s Throwing Caution to the Winds NOV. 14, 2017

    Saudi Crown Prince’s Mass Purge Upends a Longstanding System NOV. 5, 2017

    In Saudi Arabia, Where Family and State Are One, Arrests May Be Selective NOV. 7, 2017

    Saudi King Shakes Up Military and Security Leadership FEB. 27, 2018

    Continue reading the main story

    To leave the Ritz, many of the detainees not only surrendered huge sums of money, but also signed over to the government control of precious real estate and shares of their companies — all outside any clear legal process.

    The government has yet to actually seize many of the assets, leaving the former detainees and their families in limbo.

    One former detainee, forced to wear a tracking device, has sunk into depression as his business collapses. “We signed away everything,” a relative of his said. “Even the house I am in, I am not sure if it is still mine.”

    As the architect of the crackdown, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, prepares to travel to the United States this month to court American investment, Saudi officials are spotlighting his reforms: his promise to let women drive, his plans to expand entertainment opportunities and his moves to encourage foreign investment. They have denied any allegations of abuse and have portrayed the Ritz episode as an orderly legal process that has wound down.

    But extensive interviews with Saudi officials, members of the royal family, and relatives, advisers and associates of the detainees revealed a murkier, coercive operation, marked by cases of physical abuse, which transferred billions of dollars in private wealth to the crown prince’s control.

    Corruption has long been endemic in Saudi Arabia, and many of the detainees were widely assumed to have stolen from state coffers. But the government, citing privacy laws, has refused to specify the charges against individuals and, even after they were released, to clarify who was found guilty or innocent, making it impossible to know how much the process was driven by personal score settling.

    Part of the campaign appears to be driven by a family feud, as Crown Prince Mohammed presses the children of King Abdullah, the monarch who died in 2015, to give back billions of dollars that they consider their inheritance, according to three associates of the Abdullah family.

    And although the government said the campaign would increase transparency, it has been conducted in secret, with transactions carried out in ways that avoid public disclosure, and with travel bans and fear of reprisals preventing detainees from speaking freely.

    Most people interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid the risk of appearing to criticize Crown Prince Mohammed.

    The government said in its email that “the investigations, led by the Attorney General, were conducted in full accordance to Saudi laws. All those under investigation had full access to legal counsel in addition to medical care to address pre-existing, chronic conditions.”

    The government, and several Saudi officials contacted separately, declined to answer further questions about the crackdown.

    They have argued, however, that it was a necessarily harsh means of returning ill-gotten gains to the treasury while sending a clear message that the old, corrupt ways of doing business are over. And they have defended the process as a kind of Saudi-style plea bargain in which settlements were reached to avoid the time and economic disruption of a drawn-out legal process.

    In a separate statement on Sunday announcing new anti-corruption departments in the Attorney General’s office, the government said that King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed “are keen to eradicate corruption with utmost force and transparency.”

    But the opaque and extralegal nature of the campaign has rattled the very foreign investors the prince is now trying to woo.

    “At the start of the crackdown they promised transparency, but they did not deliver it,” said Robert Jordan, who served as American ambassador to Saudi Arabia under President George W. Bush. “Without any kind of transparency or rule of law, it makes investors nervous that their investments might be taken and that their Saudi partners might be detained without any rationale to the charges.”

    https://seenthis.net/messages/675904 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • What’s in Al Jazeera’s undercover film on the US Israel lobby? | The Electronic Intifada


    The leading neoconservative think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies is functioning as an agent of the Israeli government, Al Jazeera’s forthcoming investigation on the US Israel lobby will reveal.

    According to a source who has seen the undercover documentary, it contains footage of a powerful Israeli official claiming that “We have FDD. We have others working on this.”

    Sima Vaknin-Gil, a former Israeli military intelligence officer, is said to state that the foundation is “working on” projects for Israel including “data gathering, information analysis, working on activist organizations, money trail. This is something that only a country, with its resources, can do the best.”

    Under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, commonly known as FARA, US organizations and individuals who work on behalf of foreign governments are required to register with the counterintelligence section of the Department of Justice.

    A search on the FARA website shows that the Foundation for Defense of Democracies is not registered.

    Al Jazeera’s film reportedly identifies a number of lobby groups as working with Israel to spy on American citizens using sophisticated data gathering techniques. The documentary is also said to cast light on covert efforts to smear and intimidate Americans seen as too critical of Israel.

    Israel lobby groups have placed intense pressure on Qatar, which funds Al Jazeera, to shelve the film, fueling speculation it may never be aired.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/675782 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Iraq : Al-Sadr & Communist Party ally against Corruption, Iranian Hegemony

    Nativist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, 44, is encouraging members of his Sadr Movement to vote in the upcoming national elections for parliament. “Vote,” he said, “and save our country from corruption.”
    A newly formed political party, al-Istiqama or the Upright Party, will hew the Sadrist line.
    There have been reports that Sadr’s party will ally with the Iraqi Communist Party on an anti-sectarian ticket. Both Sadr and the small Communist Party have criticized the spoils system of Iraq where government positions and contracts are doled out according to membership in a sectarian political party.
    Both objected vigorously to the statement of Ali Akbar Vilayeti, an adviser to Iran’s clerical Leader Ali Khamenei, on his visit to Baghdad in February that he would not allow the return of liberals, secularists and Communists in Iraq.
    It was widely thought that he was criticizing Sadr for his alliance with the Communists and the “civil” or secular movement in Iraq.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/675652 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Dans le camp Al-Amari, avec les réfugiés palestiniens
    REPORTAGE. À douze kilomètres de Jérusalem vivent plus de 5 000 Palestiniens dont les parents ont été contraints de quitter leur terre à la création d’Israël.
    De notre envoyé spécial dans le camp Al-Amari, Armin Arefi
    Modifié le 11/03/2018

    Seuls seize kilomètres séparent Ramallah de Jérusalem. Entre les deux villes, la route Al-Bireh Al-Qods mène du siège de l’Autorité palestinienne au checkpoint de Qalandia, à huit kilomètres de là. Tenu par l’armée israélienne, ce poste-frontière permet aux seuls résidents palestiniens de Jérusalem, Arabes israéliens ou détenteurs d’un permis spécial délivré au compte-gouttes de pénétrer de l’autre côté du « mur de sécurité » dressé par les Israéliens et de rejoindre la partie orientale de la ville sainte, occupée et annexée par Israël.


    https://seenthis.net/messages/675612 via Loutre

  • Un projet aux relents coloniaux pour l’islam de #France

    Le consultant et essayiste Hakim El-Karoui vient de publier L’islam, une religion française, qui complète et analyse les résultats de l’enquête intitulée Un #Islam français est possible, qu’il a dirigée en 2016 pour l’Institut Montaigne. Bien que présenté comme inédit, ce travail s’inscrit dans la droite ligne de nombreuses enquêtes menées durant toute la période coloniale sur les Français musulmans pour définir les orientations et les stratégies de la « politique musulmane » de la France, reprises quasi (...)


    / France, #Colonisation, Islam, #Empire_colonial_français, #Colonialisme

    « http://www.institutmontaigne.org/ressources/pdfs/publications/rapport-un-islam-francais-est_-possible.pdf »
    « https://www.ined.fr/fichier/s_rubrique/19558/dt168_teo.fr.pdf »
    « https://blog.mondediplo.net/2011-04-05-Trop-de-musulmans »

  • A qui profite le maintien de #Gaza au bord d’une catastrophe humanitaire ? | Agence Media #Palestine

    Dans leur livre « La Condition de l’État unique », Ariella Azoulay et Adi Ophir essaient de répondre à la question : « Quel est l’intérêt d’#Israël à maintenir Gaza au bord de l’effondrement ? »

    Leur réponse demeure valable quinze ans plus tard : c’est de maintenir les Palestiniens perpétuellement au point de non retour, donnant ainsi la preuve de la victoire décisive d’Israël. Les Palestiniens ne peuvent pas considérer leurs existences comme une évidence légitime, car Israël peut prendre leurs vies n’importe quand. C’est la base du rapport de domination d’Israël sur les Palestiniens.

    Dans leur livre « La Condition de l’État unique », Ariella Azoulay et Adi Ophir essaient de répondre à la question : quel est l’intérêt a d’Israël à maintenir Gaza au bord de l’effondrement ?

    Mais si cette réponse est juste, elle n’est pourtant pas suffisante. Il y a aussi une réponse économique : Tant que Gaza demeure au bord de l’effondrement, les donateurs internationaux maintiennent le flux d’argent de l’aide humanitaire. Si la crise prenait fin et si le siège était levé, on peut être presque sûrs que les donateurs internationaux changeraient de type d’aide concentrerait à nouveau leur subsides au développement de l’économie gazaouie (comme cela s’est passé de 1994 à 2000, jusqu’au déclenchement de la Seconde Intifada).

    Ce type d’aide entrerait vraisemblablement en concurrence avec certaines branches des sociétés israéliennes et menacerait donc l’#économie israélienne. Maintenir Gaza au bord de l’effondrement assujettit l’arrivée de l’argent de l’aide humanitaire internationale exactement là où il sert les intérêts d’Israël.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/675305 via Kassem

  • Egypt and Sudan : Diplomatic pacification, unresolved affairs | MadaMasr


    Quietly and without an official announcement is how Osama Shaltout, Egypt’s ambassador to Sudan, returned to his post in Khartoum on Tuesday. On the same day, Abdel Mahmoud Abdel Halim, Sudan’s ambassador to Egypt, returned to Cairo two months after he was recalled due to tension between the neighboring countries.

    Shaltout spent the better part of two months in Cairo, as the Egyptian government worked to resolve the tension. Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid told Mada Masr on Wednesday morning that the reason for the ambassador’s stay in Cairo had been to “take part in official meetings.” Abu Zeid also stressed that Cairo did not recall Shaltout, either in response to Khartoum’s January decision or at any point since.

    Although the return of both ambassadors to their respective posts is an indication of the end of the public escalation of tensions, several Egyptian and Western diplomats as well as observers believe that the matters which originally triggered the crisis earlier this year have yet to be settled, even if the restoration of diplomatic relations is a step in the right direction.

    “The kind of escalation we saw in the January [between Sudan and Egypt] was kind of a negotiation being carried out in public, with a ratcheting up of rhetoric that didn’t necessarily match what was happening on the ground,” International Crisis Group’s Horn of Africa Analyst Magnus Taylor tells Mada Masr. “Of course, there are some real structural problems in the relationship on the Renaissance Dam, on the Muslim Brotherhood, the border conflict over Halayeb. But I’ve never really seen any of those issues as escalating into a border war or proxy war.”

    https://seenthis.net/messages/675159 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Nouvelle étude de l’USJ : 3 % du territoire libanais abrite 79 % de sa flore ! - L’Orient-Le Jour

    Le Liban, considéré comme un point chaud de la biodiversité du bassin méditerranéen, se caractérise par une richesse floristique estimée à 2 612 espèces végétales, dont 108 sont endémiques (uniquement au Liban et nulle part ailleurs dans le monde). Cependant, l’urbanisation anarchique de la période de reconstruction post-guerre (1975-1991) ainsi que l’augmentation sans précédent de 30 % de sa population entre 2011 et 2013 ont largement contribué à la perte de biodiversité.

    L’affirmation que l’arrivée des réfugiés syriens a contribué à la dégradation de la biodiversité libanaise est complètement gratuite, manifestement en contradiction avec la carte qui montre des zones de bioversité principalement en montagne et dans les zones humides, alors que les réfugiés sont installés en ville et, dans la Beqaa, dans qqs zones agricoles où l’usage immodéré des pesticides a depuis longtemps toute biodiversité... Impossible si cette affirmation typiquement raciste vient du rédacteur de l’OJ ou de l’étude (ce qui ne m’étonnerait pas). Cela rappelle, il y a qqs mois, une étude gouvernementale accusant les réfugiés syriens des dysfonctionnements de l’électricité au Liban.
    #réfugiés #biodiversité #Liban #racisme

    https://seenthis.net/messages/674843 via rumor

  • Mahmoud Abbas’ health deteriorates, and Israel prepares for bloody succession fight -

    Head of West Bank’s Palestinian Authority was hospitalized for tests in U.S. at end of February


    Amos Harel Mar 07, 2018

    ❝In recent months there has been a deterioration in the health of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who will be 83 at the end of the month. Information about his health has been submitted to Israeli political and security officials.
    Although the security cooperation between Israel and the PA continues to be managed well, Israel is readying itself for the possibility that a continued worsening of Abbas’ health will intensify the succession wars in the PA and undermine the relative stability that now prevails in the West Bank.
    At the end of last month, while he was in the United States to address the UN General Assembly in New York, Abbas was hospitalized for a few hours for tests in a Baltimore hospital. He also underwent tests in a Ramallah hospital last July. In both instances, the PA spokesman issued denials regarding illnesses Abbas supposedly had and insisted that his medical condition was satisfactory. Abbas himself, in an interview with Palestinian television on February 22, said he was in good health.
    However, Palestinian activists opposed to Abbas’ regime claim that he’s ill and getting worse. There was even a claim on social media that he was suffering from cancer of the digestive system. This claim was never confirmed.
    Some 20 years ago Abbas was operated on for prostate cancer, and the surgery was said to be successful.

    The PA president has cut down his work hours over the past year. People around him say he seems to be getting more short-tempered and argumentative with his aides and other senior PA officials. Aside from his health and advancing age, Abbas’ behavior seems to indicate that the PA, and his leadership, are facing a crisis.

    The main reason is the bad relationship with the Trump administration and the United States clearly positioning itself on Israel’s side with regard to its diplomatic dispute with the Palestinians. This American position is accompanied by other moves that are liable to undermine the Palestinian economy, like pushing the Taylor Force law through Congress (which limits American aid to the PA because of its financial support for imprisoned terrorists and their families) and the plan to reduce support for UNRWA, the United Nations’ refugee agency.
    At Abbas’ orders, the PA security agencies are continuing to closely coordinate with the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service, and they are regularly assisting in the rescue of Israelis who stray into Area A, which is under PA control. In closed forums with foreign diplomats, senior PA officials admit that the IDF is showing restraint in the West Bank and its approach is preventing violent flare-ups.
    But as Abbas’ health gets worse, the battle among the many contenders hoping to succeed him will intensify. There are nearly 10 Palestinian politicians and security officials who see themselves worthy of the job, and there could be temporary alliances formed between some of them in an effort to win the leadership of PA. Israel is concerned about the instability that could ensue the closer the end of Abbas’ tenure seems – and is concerned that the internal tension will impact the degree to which the PA security services will work to prevent attacks on the IDF and Israeli civilians in the West Bank.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/674607 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Where the Islamic State hides – Peter Harling archive

    THE ISLAMIC STATE WAS LONG IN THE MAKING. It is here to stay, if not in the Iraqi city of Mosul, then in people’s minds and our own memory. Under its current name or its next avatar, it likely will linger on in our lives like a trauma—a familiar fear, quick to surface, however deeply burrowed.
    Indeed, it fills a hole we cannot plaster over: decaying power structures and social compacts throughout the Middle East, in parts of Africa and Central Asia, and in places closer to home, such as the urban fringes at the heart of Western societies. It taps into the same groundswell of inchoate anti-establishment anger that has been molded into virtually anything: from dissident democrats to insurgent republicans in recent American elections; from Occupy Wall Street to the Tea-Party movement; from a leftist takeover in Greece to its rightwing equivalent in Poland; from the British Brexit to the French Front National; and from hopeful uprisings in the Arab world to “ISIS,” their nihilistic antithesis.
    The problem we face is an old one: the banality, the oddity of evil, which can seep into our lives and become the new normal. As this collection of images will show us, the “true” Islamic State may not be a beheading video, but a more ordinary scene.
    To deny its hold on our reality, we make the Islamic State into something extraordinary, exogenous—a creature from the past, from an exotic elsewhere, with an inhuman rationality. But it doesn’t just mangle: it mingles too. Craving attention, it keeps creeping up on us, seeking ways to photobomb the course of history. And it is, without doubt, media-savvy: digitally-native, almost geeky in its use of modern communication tools, it promotes itself much less through a coherent ideology than via the equivalent of an aggregated, gigantic snuff-selfie.
    Paradoxically, this portfolio is filled with the Islamic State’s absence. The movement is, indeed, a small one: it has far fewer troops than any of its opponents; its resources are mostly limited to what it can plunder; its paltry weapons pale in the tall shadows of the guns arrayed against it; its popular support is ambivalent at best; its violence is staged to maximize effect; and its territorial empire always comprised much desert and rubble.
    This lesser militia nevertheless prompted the greatest de facto coalition of forces ever assembled in history: a US-led alliance of more than thirty countries, to which one must add Russia, Iran, the Syrian and Iraqi regimes, the Lebanese Hizbollah and others, all of which have declared the Islamic State as the epitome of evil and their paramount enemy. And still it is there, bizarrely hard to defeat.
    This publication appears to revolve around this mystery: the truly massive disruptions we pin on such a diminutive entity. Perhaps there are three clues to this riddle. The first is that the Islamic State magnifies itself through the media’s echo chamber, by turning its opponents’ grandstanding into a multiplying factor, and by leveraging their truly superior power. It deliberately provokes the kind of response that serves its purpose—another “war on terror” that plays up the importance of its foes while further dilapidating the urban and social fabric they already prey upon.
    Certainly ISIS ravaged archeological artifacts and stole many lives; but the wholesale destruction of large parts of Syria and Iraq is a service it owes to its proclaimed enemies. Only in that void can it thrive. The photographs in this collection capture, incredibly, this inhabited vacuum—a place of ample misery and so little meaning.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/674271 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Emails show UAE-linked effort against Tillerson - BBC News

    The BBC has obtained leaked emails that show a lobbying effort to get US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sacked for failing to support the United Arab Emirates against regional rival Qatar.
    Major Trump fundraiser and UAE-linked businessman Elliott Broidy met Mr Trump in October 2017 and urged him to sack Mr Tillerson, the emails reveal.
    In other emails, he calls the top US diplomat “a tower of Jello”, “weak” and says he “needs to be slammed”.
    Mr Broidy says Qatar hacked his emails.
    “We have reason to believe this hack was sponsored and carried out by registered and unregistered agents of Qatar seeking to punish Mr Broidy for his strong opposition to state-sponsored terrorism,” a spokesman for the businessman said.
    He said some of the emails “may have been altered” but did not elaborate.
    Saudi Arabia, UAE and a number of Arab countries cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in June 2017 over its alleged support for terrorism, a claim which it denies. The unprecedented move was seen as a major split between powerful Gulf countries, who are also close US allies.
    Qatari royal ’held against will’ in UAE
    Nations silent on Tillerson Qatar blockade plea
    The BBC has asked the Qatar embassy in Washington for a response to the accusations.
    Mr Broidy’s defence company Circinus has hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts with the UAE, according to the New York Times newspaper.
    He had recently returned from the UAE when he met Mr Trump at the White House in October.
    What did the emails say?
    According to a memorandum he prepared of the meeting, Mr Broidy urged continued support of US allies the UAE and Saudi Arabia and advised Mr Trump against getting involved in last year’s row with Qatar.
    Mr Broidy called Qatar “a television station with a country” - alluding to broadcaster Al Jazeera - and said it was doing “nothing positive”, according to the emails.
    He said he touted a regional counter-terrorism force being set up by the UAE that his company was involved with, and suggested that the US president “sit down” with Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and a top UAE military commander.
    “I offered that MBZ [the crown prince] is available to come to the US very soon and preferred a quiet meeting in New York or New Jersey. President Trump agreed that a meeting with MBZ was a good idea,” Mr Broidy wrote in an email.
    He also said he advised the president on Mr Tillerson - who was “performing poorly and should be fired at a politically convenient time”.
    Mr Tillerson had criticised the blockade of Qatar and called for it to be eased, in comments that contrasted with Mr Trump’s support for the move.
    Mr Tillerson spent most of the first year in his position embattled and weakened.
    Last autumn, in a rare move for the soft-spoken secretary, the state department held a press conference in which Mr Tillerson pushed back against reports he had called the president “a moron”.
    Who did Mr Broidy email?
    He emailed a detailed account of his meeting with the president to George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman with decades of experience serving as an interlocutor between the Middle East and Washington.
    Sources familiar with the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election and possible links between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, tell the BBC that Mr Nader has become a person of interest and has been questioned in recent weeks.
    Investigators questioned Mr Nader and other witnesses on whether there were any efforts by the Emiratis to buy political influence by directing money to Mr Trump’s presidential campaign, according to a New York Times report.

    What else was in the leaked emails?
    Mr Broidy also detailed a separate sit-down with Mr Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, according to the emails.
    After Mr Broidy criticised Qatar extensively to Mr Kushner, “Jared’s demeanour was very passive and pleasant but he seemed to not want to engage on this issue,” he wrote to Mr Nader.
    Kushner Companies - owned by the family of Jared Kushner - is reported to have in April 2017 sought financing from Qatar for its flagship property at 666 5th Avenue, New York.
    However, Mr Kushner has maintained that he has had no role in his family’s business since joining the White House last year.
    Has anyone else claimed to have been hacked?
    UAE ambassador to Washington Yousef al-Otaiba - who in diplomatic circles is known as the most effective and influential ambassador in Washington - has himself been a recent victim of email hacking.
    It’s well known in Washington that Mr Otaiba and Mr Kushner have enjoyed close relationship.
    Industry experts looking at both hacks have drawn comparisons between the two, showing reason to suspect links to Qatar.
    “This is rinse and repeat on Otaiba,” a source familiar with the hack told the BBC.
    The UAE has also been known to use similar tactics, and was accused of hacking Qatari government websites prior to the blockade, according to the FBI.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/674149 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Egypt : Supreme Constitutional Court validates Tiran and Sanafir treaty, overturns previous rulings | MadaMasr


    The current legal contest over the maritime border demarcation agreement transferring sovereignty of the Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia was brought to a close on Saturday, when the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) issued two verdicts that effectively overturned previous rulings, favoring cession of the islands.

    This decision has ended the protracted judicial dispute over the deal that kicked off in 2016 and opened onto several fronts, according to lawyer Tarek Negeida. He adds that the next stage in legally contesting the agreement is likely to begin and could take years to resolve.

    The first of the SCC’s Saturday verdicts rejected two lawsuits filed by the Egyptian State Lawsuits Authority (SLA), the body which represents the government in judicial proceedings. The suits contested the State Council’s jurisdiction over the case, pertaining to two previous rulings issued by administrative courts, on the basis that the deal can be categorized as a “sovereign action.”

    The first State Council ruling was issued by the Court of Administrative Justice (CAJ) in June 2016, invalidating the prime ministers’ signature on the agreement. The second came in January 2017 when the appellate circuit of the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) upheld the June decision and ruled that the executive branch of the government does not have the administrative authority to cede territory to Saudi Arabia.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/673888 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Israel’s big lie revealed: Deported asylum seekers in Uganda lament broken promises and a grim future

    Haaretz met with deported asylum seekers who were left with no papers or work permits; they can’t even enter refugee camps as they have no status. One option is to risk death and head for Europe
    By Uzi Dann (Kampala, Uganda) Mar 04, 2018

    KAMPALA, Uganda – It’s around noon in Uganda’s capital Kampala. The streets are bustling and traffic is heavy. Meles looks out of place, and he certainly feels it. “I don’t have a future here,” he tells Haaretz. “I have no hope, no job. My life is ruined.”
    He’s a relative newcomer here. He has been here for around two and a half months and says it’s just a matter of time until he’s on the road again. “I’m already 31 and prefer to try my luck elsewhere rather than live this way, God willing,” he says, pointing upward and not at the two crosses on his chest. “This time I’ll be lucky.”
    The last time he tried his luck nearly a decade ago he deserted his unlimited military service in the Eritrean army and started walking north. Ultimately he reached Israel, where he lived for more than seven and a half years, from the beginning of 2010 until last November. Then he was forced to “leave voluntarily.”

    In addition to the threat of prison if he didn’t leave, there was the $3,500 that Israel gave and the laissez-passer document, ensuring him legal status in a third country and the right to work. There were also verbal assurances that things would be all right – that he’d be able to make a living and integrate into his new country.
    Soon after Meles landed at Uganda’s Entebbe Airport, he discovered there wasn’t much substance to the assurances, not even a way to contact the government clerk who sent him there. And regarding the documents, someone in Uganda was there to take them away from him as soon as he landed.
    Haaretz on the ground in Uganda - דלג

    Haaretz has heard this story repeatedly from former asylum seekers in Israel who went to Rwanda (and from there took a circuitous path to neighboring Uganda), and from those whose airplane ticket took them straight to Entebbe. Haaretz met with more than 15 of them in Kampala and spoke with several others by phone. No Israeli official contacted them once they had left Israel, or took any interest in them once they had reached Africa.
    Meles has no documents and no job, and has no status in Uganda letting him work. He has spent some of the $3,500, and it looks like the rest will be gone soon. He regrets that he didn’t opt for the Holot detention center in the south.

    Meles in Kampala. Uzi Dan
    “It would be better to be in jail in Israel, where at least I would get food,” he says, adding that he advises asylum seekers still in Israel not to accept the offer of passage to a third country.
    Meles’ Hebrew is excellent, an indication that he adjusted well during his seven and a half years in Israel. He worked three years for one employer and four years for another, the owner of a grocery store near Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market. From the very beginning he tried to obtain legal status in Israel.
    When he arrived at the Saharonim detention facility in 2010, he gave details about his travails. He repeated them a month later when he left Saharonim and was granted a temporary visa. And he repeated them five years later when he submitted an asylum request. Like many others, he never received an answer on his request, but around that time he was told that his residence visa would not be renewed.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/673864 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Need a North Korean Missile ? Call the Cairo Embassy - The New York Times


    CAIRO — On an island in the Suez Canal, a towering AK-47 rifle, its muzzle and bayonet pointed skyward, symbolizes one of Egypt’s most enduring alliances. Decades ago, North Korea presented it to Egypt to commemorate the 1973 war against Israel, when North Korean pilots fought and died on the Egyptian side.

    But now the statue has come to signify another aspect of Egypt’s ties to North Korea: a furtive trade in illegal weapons that has upset President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s otherwise cozy relationship with the United States, set off a painful cut in military aid and drawn unremitting scrutiny from United Nations inspectors.

    Egypt has purchased North Korean weapons and allowed North Korean diplomats to use their Cairo embassy as a base for military sales across the region, American and United Nations officials say. Those transactions earned vital hard cash for North Korea, but they violated international sanctions and drew the ire of Egypt’s main military patron, the United States, which cut or suspended $291 million in military aid in August.

    Tensions may bubble up again in the coming weeks with the publication of a United Nations report that contains new information about the cargo of a rusty North Korean freighter intercepted off the coast of Egypt in 2016. The ship was carrying 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades worth an estimated $26 million.

    The report, due to be released this month, identifies the customer for the weapons as an arm of the Arab Organization for Industrialization, Egypt’s main state weapons conglomerate. Mr. Sisi heads the committee that oversees the group.

    Continue reading the main story

    Trump Announces Harsh New Sanctions Against North Korea FEB. 23, 2018

    Visiting Egypt, Tillerson Is Silent on Its Wave of Repression FEB. 12, 2018

    U.S. Slaps Egypt on Human Rights Record and Ties to North Korea AUG. 22, 2017

    Trump Shifts Course on Egypt, Praising Its Authoritarian Leader APRIL 3, 2017
    Egypt has previously denied being the intended recipient of the weapons, or breaching international sanctions. In response to questions about the United Nations finding, the State Information Service said this past week: “The relevant Egyptian authorities have undertaken all the necessary measures in relation to the North Korean ship in full transparency and under the supervision” of United Nations officials.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/673872 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Border cops filmed throwing stun grenade at Palestinian couple with baby | The Times of #Israel

    L’"armée la plus morale au monde" en action.


    Quant à la “#frontière” de “Times of Israel” c’est seulement si le droit international est ignoré.

    (((YousefMunayyer))) on Twitter: “Burin of course is no where near a border, these are henchmen of an occupying army”

    https://seenthis.net/messages/673668 via Kassem

  • USA Are Foreign-Influenced Social Media Campaigns Part of the New Political Playbook? - Pacific Standard

    On the first day of November of 2017, the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled contrite representatives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google about their companies’ roles in the Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential election. The senators spent nearly three hours chastising the social media platforms for their dereliction. In between the grandstanding, the senators expressed genuine concern about how foreign nations used these platforms, and whether media companies would be able to stop the next country from copying the Russian scheme. But even as lawmakers reflect on the Russian interference, new foreign influence campaigns are already underway.

    This time, rather than trying to choose a president, the campaigns sought to affect President Donald Trump and America’s reaction to the Qatar diplomatic crisis, which began on June 5th, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and established an air, sea, and land blockade around the country.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/673376 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • First, Israeli troops shot a Palestinian armed with a chunk of metal. Then, they beat him to death

    IDF sources maintain the soldiers didn’t notice a bullet had hit Yasin al-Saradih, and thus proceeded to ram him with their rifles, kick him in the head and drag him away

    Gideon Levy and Alex Levac Mar 01, 2018

    Yasin al-Saradih’s doomsday weapon is now lying in the yard of his home on Dmitry Medvedev Street in Jericho, draped with Palestinian and Fatah flags. It is the rim of a car wheel with a pipe coming up from its center. Altogether, 25 kilos of iron, which the proprietor of the bicycle store on Moskobiya Street in the center of town usually puts outside on the street to hold a parking place for his clients. Saradih, who was 36 years old, hoisted the device onto his shoulders and ran toward the Israel Defense Forces soldiers who had invaded his city in the middle of the night, between Wednesday and Thursday last week. Soldiers raid Jericho, the most tranquil town in the occupied territories, almost every night on a pretext of “carrying out arrests.”
    The same pattern was repeated last week: A few dozen soldiers from the religiously observant Lavi Battalion had entered the city center – perhaps to demonstrate a presence, perhaps to maintain operational vigilance, perhaps to haze local residents or maybe as part of their training. As far as is known, they didn’t arrest anyone. They only killed Saradih, the first fatality inflicted here by the IDF in almost 15 years.
    If quiet Jericho can be ignited, too, then why not? The access road to the city is now littered with stones and scorched tires, between the casino and the hotel, two silent monuments to former dreams of peace – “Jericho first.”
    skip - Btselem Jericho
    Btselem Jericho - דלג

    The footage from the security camera that documented the events on Moskobiya Street does not make for easy watching. Saradih is seen running along the street, the tire rim on his shoulders. A soldier steps out of an alley and shoots him from point-blank range. Saradih collapses immediately after the shot, and then soldiers swarm around him, and beat and kick him all over his body. This one kicks him, another rams him with his rifle butt – they’re venting their anger, the soldiers from Lavi, the battalion that ostensibly stands for morality and lofty values.

    Then they drag Saradih into the alley, like a carcass in the market. One of them continues kicking him in the head. A lynching, there’s no other word for it. Finally the soldiers are seen putting him in a military vehicle. It’s not clear how long he lay there without being given any medical aid. He may have bled to death in the vehicle.
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    This week we visited the spot where it all happened, together with Aref Daraghmeh, a field researcher for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, who arrived at the site a few hours after the killing. He says that no bloodstains were visible at the scene of the event. Perhaps that’s why the IDF claimed initially that Saradih died from tear gas fired by the soldiers. The autopsy, however, showed that he died from a gunshot – or possibly from the combination of being shot, undergoing a vicious beating and not being given medical assistance in time. The Military Police are still investigating.

    Sources in the IDF told us this week that the soldiers maintain that they didn’t know a bullet had struck their victim (even though he’d been shot from close to zero range and immediately fell to the ground), and that’s why they kicked and punched him all over. The army medical team that examined Saradih also failed to notice the gunshot wound, the sources reported.
    It’s odd: The autopsy performed at the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir, Tel Aviv – whose results were not officially publicized – revealed an entry wound and an exit wound caused by a bullet, and also bloodstains on the victim’s hip and lower abdomen, as well as on his clothes.
    The army, however, stated that he died from tear gas inhalation. The soldiers also claimed that Saradih tried to snatch the weapon of one of them after he was shot, though there is no support for this in the video footage. They also say they found a knife on him.
    The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit issued the following statement to Haaretz this week: “In the wake of the incident, and because the terrorist died after he had already been detained by IDF soldiers, a Military Police investigation has been launched, in which framework the circumstances of his death are being examined. An autopsy was also performed on the terrorist’s body. In parallel, a full operational debriefing of the event is continuing.”

    Yasin al-Saradih
    When the troops reached Jericho, after 1 A.M. on Thursday, a few dozen young people – about 50, according to the IDF – confronted them and began throwing stones. Only a few dozen meters separate the site of the deadly incident and the Jericho police station. But as usual, as per the occupier’s demand, Palestinian police officers were compelled to remain out of sight inside the station until things calmed down and the soldiers had gone.
    A second tire rim stood on the road in front of the bike shop this week, to ensure a parking place for customers. Nearby booths were buckling under the abundance of the fruits and vegetables that paint the streets in a panoply of colors, a uniquely Jericho sight.
    Before the soldiers killed Saradih, they entered the house at the far end of the same alley from which they burst out. This is the ornate, colorful home of five Barahama siblings – four sisters and their brother, all of them unmarried – and their father, Mahmoud, who’s 86. A few big white, mangy street dogs roam about in the yard.
    The brother, Mohammed, arrived home after midnight that Thursday morning, and made himself a cup of coffee, Hanan, one of the sisters, tells us this week when we visit. They heard noise and then the troops arrived and entered the house, it’s not clear why. Some members of the household were sleeping. Mohammed asked the soldiers not to make noise, because their father is very ill. The soldiers searched the house and left. Naturally, they didn’t explain to anyone what they were looking for and why they appeared so late at night. “The soldiers themselves don’t know why,” one local resident suggests.
    A few minutes after the soldiers departed, Mohammed saw them standing over someone who was lying on the ground at the other end of the alley. He and his sisters didn’t realize that it was their cousin, Yasin Saradih. They hadn’t heard the shot.
    Medvedev Street. Opposite the victim’s home is the Russian museum that was dedicated by the prime minister of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, when he visited the city, on November 11, 2016. The street’s name, previously Al-Jumeisi (Sycamore), was changed in honor the dignitary’s visit. A mourning notice for Yasin Saradih, who lived on the street, has now been affixed to the marble plaque commemorating the dedication. On the other side of the street is a branch of the Cairo Amman Bank.
    A magnificent, ancient sycamore stands at the end of Medvedev Street, in the center of a well-tended lawn. In the absence of any other passers-by, a souvenir hawker tries desperately to interest us in the story of this amazing tree. Biblical tradition has it that this is the very same tree that Jericho tax collector Zacchaeus, who was a short man, climbed up in order to see Jesus when the latter passed throughthe city. Zacchaeus was hated in the city, because he was thought to be a collaborator with its Roman occupiers, but to everyone’s astonishment Jesus chose to stay in his house, the Book of Luke (chapter 19) relates.
    Three palm trees grace the tiled courtyard of the one-story house where the bereaved family is now sitting in a circle, on plastic chairs. Their grief at the loss of Yasin is compounded by the fact that Israel has to date refused to return the body. No one can explain what prompted Yasin to hoist the tire rim onto his shoulders and run toward the soldiers. He had never been arrested. A promising soccer player on the local Al-Hilal team, his career was cut short by two incidents in which he was shot in the leg by Israeli soldiers, once in 2000 and again in 2004. The large memorial poster that hangs in the courtyard shows him in the team’s red uniform. Despite his wounds, he remained an active member of the club. During the past few years, Yasin had worked for a relative who has a store that sells dates. He never married.
    The bereaved mother, Subbaiah, is 70. She has one surviving son and seven daughters; Yasin was the youngest. Her eyes are dry, she shows no outward emotion. But when we ask if she’s seen the video footage, she breaks into bitter tears. She watched the footage once, later on the same day Yasin was killed, but has not been able to bring herself to view it again. It broke her heart to see the soldiers beating her son as he lay helpless on the ground. She initially thought the soldiers had arrested him and taken him away. No one told her at first that her son was dead.
    Dawn broke and he still hadn’t returned. At 6 A.M., Subbaiah went to the home of her cousins the Barahamas, to find out what happened to Yasin. He’ll be back, they told her, he’ll be back: The soldiers took him. It wasn’t until that afternoon, 12 hours after the soldiers killed Yasin, that she learned the horrific truth, from a relative. Her son Ismail says he had already heard what happened at 7 A.M., when he was at work, but didn’t dare tell his mother.
    On the last evening of his life, Yasin was in good spirits, Subbaiah recalls. He went to friends around 8 o’clock to watch a soccer game on television, as he often did. She never saw him again. What made him charge at the soldiers? That will probably never be known. His mother still cannot grasp why the soldiers kicked him and why they didn’t summon an ambulance to take him to the hospital.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/673359 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Myriam Benraad « La connotation guerrière du jihad est apparue tardivement »

    La construction d’un Orient a répondu au besoin que les Occidentaux avaient de construire leur propre identité. La démarche est aujourd’hui la même pour les jihadistes, qui se construisent comme Orientaux face à l’Occident. Ils ont besoin de caricaturer les Occidentaux, comme les orientalistes ont caricaturé leurs ancêtres. Le fantasme de l’Occident n’est ici que le miroir du fantasme de l’Orient. Daech propose aux jeunes une vision orientalisée d’eux-mêmes, en particulier parmi certains convertis, et de leurs origines pour ceux issus de l’immigration. Ainsi, les jihadistes s’« auto-orientalisent » : ils s’habillent comme ils imaginent qu’étaient vêtus les combattants des premiers siècles de l’islam. Or, dans le même temps, ces militants s’identifient au monde hypermoderne et hypercapitaliste qui les entoure, à la « société du spectacle » et aux nouvelles technologies qui les ont façonnés.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/673246 via Nidal

  • Who are ‘the forces of evil’ controlling Egypt’s media? | MadaMasr

    There are “forces of evil” that control Egypt’s media outlets, according to a Wednesday statement issued by Public Prosecutor Nabil Sadek. To protect “national security” and prevent “spreading fear throughout society,” Sadek instructed public prosecutors and regulators to monitor media outlets and arrest anyone who disseminates or broadcasts false news.

    However, it is unclear whom Sadek was referring to in his statement. And in the absence of clarity, media regulators and lawyers are left to speculate whether the term “forces of evil” is confined to the spat with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) over the critical report titled “The Shadow Over Egypt” on human rights violations in Egypt during President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s first term in office, or if it signals the beginning of a broader wave of future legal prosecution targeting journalists in the coming period in Egypt.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/673346 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • The War on Yemen and the Credulous Western Embrace of Mohammed bin Salman | The American Conservative


    David Ignatius ably writes down whatever Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) tells him in a new column. This is the only mention that the war on Yemen receives:

    He described ambitious plans to mobilize Yemeni tribes against the Houthis and their Iranian backers in Yemen, a war that has dragged on longer than the Saudis hoped.

    Whenever MbS is interviewed by Western reporters and pundits, the subject of Yemen comes up rarely and the countless crimes committed by the Saudis and their allies are never mentioned. It is bad enough that one of the architects of a disastrous war supported by our government is never forced to answer for the war crimes committed by his military and other coalition forces, but it is even worse when the interviewer makes no attempt to put the crown prince’s statements in context. Readers should know that MbS is responsible for a war that has plunged another country into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and they should be aware that the Saudi-led coalition has committed numerous war crimes by bombing civilian targets and inflicts cruel collective punishment on millions of people through its blockade. Given the paltry coverage that Yemen usually receives in the U.S., most of Ignatius’ readers probably don’t know this. If MbS’ interlocutors aren’t willing to challenge him about this directly, they ought to be bringing it up in whatever they end up writing about the conversation. The war on Yemen hasn’t just “dragged on longer than the Saudis hoped.” It has been a complete failure in achieving any of its stated goals, and that failure reflects very poorly on the unqualified, reckless defense minister (i.e., MbS) who has overseen the debacle.

    It is possible that there could be some news value in uncritically restating the things that a foreign leader says to you, but there doesn’t seem to be any of that here. MbS spins his power grabs and reckless foreign policy decisions to Ignatius, and the columnist gamely relays that spin to us. On the “anti-corruption putsch,” Ignatius tells us that MbS told him that “shock therapy” was required. The fact that MbS’s arbitrary shakedown has frightened foreign investors and undermined his own economic agenda goes unmentioned. We are later informed that the “crown prince said he had been unfairly criticized for pressuring Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign,” but of course he would say that.

    Treating Saudi royals with kid gloves is nothing new in American media, but I have been struck by how positive the coverage of Mohammed bin Salman has been when his record has been almost entirely destructive and destabilizing. Were he not the Saudi heir and already de facto ruler of a U.S. client state, he could not hope to buy the friendly coverage that he is freely given in a number of American publications. That would be embarrassing enough at any time, but when the authoritarian ruler in question is also presiding over one of the great crimes of the century it is inexcusable.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/673145 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • As Elections Near, Egypt Finds a New Target : Foreign News Media - The New York Times


    CAIRO — Egypt’s chief prosecutor delivered a withering broadside against the news media on Wednesday, blaming the “forces of evil” for negative coverage and instructing his staff to take legal action against outlets deemed to be undermining Egypt’s security.

    The remarks by the prosecutor, Nabil Sadek, were the latest escalation of a draconian crackdown on civil liberties before a presidential election in March that has become fraught with tension even though President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi faces no real opposition.

    In comments that appeared aimed at the foreign news media, Mr. Sadek accused outlets of spreading false news “to disturb the public order and terrorize society.” A day earlier, Egypt had called for a boycott of the BBC over a documentary that aired last week detailing torture and illegal abductions by Egyptian security forces.

    Local news coverage has been dominated in recent days by a wave of government-driven outrage over the documentary. Although the documentary contained abuse accusations already widely documented by human rights groups, it was denounced as propaganda spread by the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

    The State Information Service, which oversees the foreign media, said the BBC film was inaccurate because a young woman featured in the documentary later told a local television station that she had not been harmed.

    Her mother said on Tuesday that the woman had been coerced into giving a false statement to the local station. A day later, the mother was reported to have been arrested.

    The BBC said in a statement: “We stand by the integrity of our reporting teams.”

    While Mr. Sisi has long treated Egyptian news outlets harshly, jailing dozens of reporters and blocking about 500 websites, he has generally spared foreign reporters the worst measures. That appears to have changed with the presidential election campaign.

    A long list of rules announced by the national election commission in February seeks to dictate the questions journalists can ask voters, prohibits them from using photographs or headlines “not related to the topic” and forbids them from making “any observations about the voting process.”

    “These rules made me laugh, and scared the hell out of me at the same time,” said Gamal Eid, a leading lawyer and human rights activist. “The rules are purposefully vague so they can decide to let their friends go, and punish their critics. It seems tailor-made for the foreign media.”

    https://seenthis.net/messages/673089 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Egypt : State Information Service slams BBC report on ‘repression in Egypt’ | MadaMasr

    Egypt’s State Information Services (SIS) criticized the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for publishing a report on the state of political and social rights in Egypt in a statement released on Saturday.

    SIS’ criticism of the London-based media organization constitutes the most recent example in what has become the government authority’s routine practice of discrediting foreign media outlets’ Egypt coverage.

    On February 23, the BBC published a five-part report on on social, political, and human rights during President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s first term in office, which will come to an end this year following the upcoming presidential election slated for March.

    The report by journalist Orla Guerin, titled “The Shadow Over Egypt,” details stories of torture, forced disappearances and activist arrests, as told through the eyes of victims’ family members, lawyers and human rights activists. Guerin’s report was accompanied by a short documentary on the same subject titled Crushing Dissent in Egypt, which aired on BBC World and BBC News Channel on February 24 and 25.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/672802 via Nouvelles d’Orient

  • Egypt Companions to the Israeli gas deal : Noble and Delek in talks to acquire East Mediterranean Gas pipeline | MadaMasr

    Sources close to the gas deal signed between Dolphinus Holdings, which is partly owned by Egyptian businessman Alaa Arafa, and Delek and Noble Energy, the lead partners managing Israel’s largest gas fields, say the latter companies are in talks with East Mediterranean Gas company (EMG) shareholders over acquisition of the company.

    The deal would give Delek and Noble a controlling share of EMG, the company that owns the natural gas pipeline running from Egypt to Israel, and would facilitate the use of the pipeline to transport the gas allocated for export in the deal signed last week.

    The source, who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, says that a decision has been made to begin technical alterations to the pipeline to reverse its flow and allow operators to import gas into Egypt instead of having the country export gas to Israel, which was the previous arrangement according to a deal signed in 2008. 

    The pipeline was the target of successive militant attacks after 2011. In 2012, the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) terminated its contract with Israel. The state-owned company attributed the decision to a breach of contract by EMG for delayed gas payments.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/672803 via Nouvelles d’Orient