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Archive for the ‘Bahrain’ Category

Turkey and Saudi Arabia: Cosy Relations

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As I wrote last month, “the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia unveiled its desire to create an ‘Islamic military alliance to fight terrorism’ [(o)n 15 December 2015], a 34-nation coalition, including such military high-rollers like Turkey and Pakistan, with its ‘joint operations center’ to be located in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. King Salman’s men have devised this project ‘for the sake of supporting international efforts to combat terrorism and to save international peace and security’. In addition, the Saudi press release indicates that ‘[m]ore than ten other Islamic countries have expressed their support for this alliance and will take the necessary measures in this regard, including Indonesia’. In other words, while the U.S.-led coalition of the NATO-wiling (basically Germany, France, the UK, albeit also assisted by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia) is bombing the Islamic State in various locations throughout Iraq and Syria, the Sunni bloc-under-Wahhabi-leadership has now also decided to join the fray in its own right. This could arguably be seen as an effort to produce a kind of homegrown military response to extremists unsettling the status quo and threatening the world beyond the wider Middle East”.[i]

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The Turkish leadership has apparently taken this Saudi move to heart, as the President of the Republic, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (aka the Prez) promptly visited the Saudi capital in the period 29-30 December, with his wily Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu following suit a month later (29 January 2016), in turn followed by the Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar the next day (30 January 2016).[2] In this cosy context of Turco-Saudi relations, the eminent historian, economic researcher, and freelance journalist F. William Engdahl puts forward that Tayyip “Erdoğan’s Turkish military and most especially his Turkish intelligence, MIT, headed by close crony, Hakan Fidan, is playing a key role in the planned Saudi-Turk-Qatari coalitions move to destroy the regime of Assad and at the same time seize control for them of the rich oil fields of Iraq between Mosul and Kirkuk. In an October 18, 2015 interview with the Turkish news agency, Anadolu, Fidan stated the open Turkish support for DAESH: ‘The Islamic Emirate [or IS] is a reality and we must accept that we cannot eradicate a well-organized and popular institution as the Islamic State is. Therefore, I urge my colleagues in the West to revise their mindset on Islamic political currents, to put aside their cynical mentality and thwart Putin plans to crush the Islamist Syrian revolutionaries’. In other words, for Turkey as for Saudi Arabia, DAESH is not a terrorist organization, nor Al Nusrah Front, rather they are ‘Islamist Syrian revolutionaries’ fighting the ‘infidel’ Assad regime and its Russian ally. Hakan Fidan’s involvement in the illegal downing of the Russian SU-24 in November in Syrian airspace is indication of what will come. Not only is Erdoğan’s son, Bilal Erdoğan, involved in illegally exporting the stolen Iraqi and Syrian oil. Erdoğan’s son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, was named by the President to be Turkish Energy Minister the day after the Turkish shooting of the SU-24, and it was Turkish Grey Wolves terrorists in Syria who murdered the SU-24 Russian pilot that Erdoğan’s Air Force shot down. The recent unwanted Turkish military incursion into Iraq’s Mosul region, ostensibly, to train fighters linked to Iraqi Kurdistan’s president, Massoud Barzani, shows further that Turkey will be the battering ram of the planned Saudi conquest of Syrian and Iraqi oilfields, wrapped in the banner of Jihad and Allah. And on December 18 Turkey revealed it is building a military base in Qatar, a key financier of DAESH as well as Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra in Syria. Turkey’s Ambassador stated the Turkish base, which will station some 3,000 Turkish troops on the Persian Gulf base, which will include ground troops, air force and naval personnel, as well as instructors and special forces, will be for the purpose of confronting ‘common enemies’ in the region. ‘Turkey and Qatar face common problems about developments in the region and uncertain policies of other countries…We confront common enemies’, Turkey’s Doha Ambassador stated. Now could those ‘common enemies’ just possibly be Syria’s Assad who in 2009 refused a Qatar gas pipeline proposal in favor of remaining Russia’s ally in gas? Could they be Iran, whose own giant North Pars gas field is a geophysical extension in Iranian waters of Qatar’s gas in the Persian Gulf?”.[3]

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[1] C. Erimtan, “Turkey at War: Flexing its Military Muscle, Imposing Curfews and Destroying Campsites” NEO (20 Dec 2015). http://journal-neo.org/2015/12/20/turkey-at-war-flexing-its-military-muscle-imposing-curfews-and-destroying-campsites/.

[2] “Genelkurmay başkanından dikkat çeken ziyaret” ODA TV (30 Ocak 2016). http://odatv.com/genelkurmay-baskanindan-dikkat-ceken-ziyaret-3001161200.html.

[3] F. William Engdahl, “Erdoğan, Salman and the Coming ‘Sunni’ War for Oil” NEO (22 Dec 2015). http://journal-neo.org/2015/12/22/erdogan-salman-and-the-coming-sunni-war-for-oil/.

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Assange on TV: The World Tomorrow, episode 4

In the fourth episode of The World Tomorrow Julian Assange speaks with two leading Arab revolutionaries in the middle of conflict, Alaa Abd El-Fattah from Egypt and Nabeel Rajab from Bahrain. Alaa Abd El-Fattah is a long time Egyptian blogger, programmer and political activist. His parents were human rights campaigners under Anwar Sadat; his sister Mona Seif became a Twitter star during the 2011 Egyptian revolution, and is a founder of the No Military Trials for Civilians group formed under the post-Mubarak military junta. El-Fattah was imprisoned for 45 days in 2006 for protesting under the Mubarak regime, and released after “Free Alaa” solidarity protests in Egypt and around the world. In 2011, from abroad, El-Fattah helped route around Mubarak’s internet blockade. Nabeel Rajab is a lifelong Bahraini activist and critic of the Al Khalifa regime. A member of a staunch pro-regime family, Rajab has agitated for reform in Bahrain since his return from university in 1988. Along with the Bahraini-Danish human rights defender Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, he helped establish the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights in 2002. Rajab is reasonably new to the limelight — becoming a face for the Bahrain uprising of February 14 2011, after the sit-in at Pearl Roundabout. Since then, he has been a public face for the revolution, waging a social media war on Twitter with PR companies working for the regime. After al-Khawaja was imprisoned, he led protests for his release. He has endured beatings, arrests and legal harrassment for engaging in pro-democracy demonstrations. On Saturday 5th of May, he was arrested atManama airport , and charged the next day with encouraging and engaging in “illegal protests.” Nabeel Rajab remains in detention at the time of broadcast (8 May 2012).

Bahrain: The Arms Deal to Settle the Score

The Arab Awakening has been rocking global television screens for months now . . . Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria . . . but apart from such seeming success stories, there are also some notable narrative failures: namely Yemen and Bahrain. In Yemen some things seem to have changed, but it seems far from certain given its proximity to oil shipping routes and its employment in the U.S. War-on-Terror as a handy drone base. Bahrain, on the other hand, has completely disappeared into oblivion, as can be seen on Al Jazeera’s mind-provoking programme “Shouting in the Dark”.[1]  And now, the Canadian independent TRNN gives us another view behind the scenes of Manama’s successful suppression of dissent: ‘Robert Naiman: the U.S. plans $53 million arms sale as suppression of democracy movement gets a “seal of approval” (7 February 2012)’.


[1] “Bahrain: Shouting in the dark” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (07 Augus 2011). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/08/07/bahrain-shouting-in-the-dark/.

The Arab Awakening: One Year On


One year on from the beginning of the Arab revolutions which began in Tunisia and continued to Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria, people continue to struggle. But analysts argue that these revolutions have been manipulated by the west especially in countries like Syria. The Arab league is also showing what many call double standards in the situation of Syria with countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar who have oppressed the free will of their people for so long and with supporting an armed revolt in Syria which has led to the death of many military personnel and civilians. With hope and skepticism intermingled, this edition of Middle East Today takes a closer look at the prospects of the people’s revolutions in the Arab world (28 Jan 2012).

And, as such, I think that this would be a good opportunity to repeat what I said last year in Hürriyet Daily News: ‘Following the breakup of the Soviet Empire, the proliferation of color revolutions throughout former Communist countries also appeared spontaneous and driven by the popular will. In hindsight, however, it has come to light that their organization and planning was funded by the West. Rather than spontaneous and popular, nowadays these “revolutions” have often been called “orchestrated.” The people of Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan were manipulated by U.S. intelligence agencies and NGOs like Freedom House and the Albert Einstein Institution to overthrow their pro-Russian leadership. So, what about the recent events in Egypt? Is the Middle East now being remade in the shadow of Zbigniew Brzezinski’s “arc of crisis”? In this context, Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution appear crucial. Sharp, also known as the “Machiavelli of nonviolence” or the “Clausewitz of nonviolent warfare,” has written a great many books on “Civilian-Based Defense” and democracy that can serve as blueprints for popular uprisings against authoritarian regimes. On the institution’s website many books, such as “From Dictatorship to Democracy,” are available for free download in many languages, including Arabic. The protestors in Tahrir Square time and again stressed the peaceful nature of their actions, only to be violently disrupted by pro-Mubarak or “pro-stability” activists on horseback and mounted on camels one day, leading to significant casualties and fatalities. But, quite apart from NGOs and their encouragements of non-violent protest in favor of regime-change more amenable to NATO and U.S. interests, WikiLeaks has revealed something altogether much more sinister. The broadcaster RT reports that the “U.S. government had been planning to topple the Egyptian president for the past three years – that’s according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks. The files show Washington had been secretly backing leading figures behind the uprising.” A cable dated Dec. 30, 2008, indicates that a leader of the April 6 Youth Movement – a Facebook-driven opposition group – informed U.S. officials that opposition groups had come up with a plan to topple Hosni Mubarak before scheduled elections in September 2011. The cables also indicate that the U.S. authorities helped an April 6 leader to attend an “Alliance of Youth Movements” summit at Columbia University in New York on Dec. 3-5, 2008. In November 2008, the U.S. government promoted this event as an occasion bringing together “Facebook, Google, YouTube, MTV, Howcast, Columbia Law School and the U.S. Department of State . . . to Find Best Ways to Use Digital Media to Promote Freedom and Justice, Counter Violence, Extremism and Oppression.” The participating youth leaders were expected to “produce a field manual for youth empowerment,” adding that this document “will stand in stark contrast to the al-Qaeda manual on the basics of terrorism, found by Coalition Forces in Iraq.” Matthew Waxman, a Columbia associate professor of law, said: “We at Columbia are excited about helping, designing, and studying innovative public-private partnerships that leverage new technologies to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges. This summit is a great opportunity to do this.” In this way, using fashionable buzzwords and jargon, Dr. Waxman tacitly provided academic credibility to this summit so clearly aimed at furthering America’s cause across the world. The summit was also attended by such luminaries as Whoopi Goldberg, actress and host of ABC’s “The View,” Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Facebook and James K. Glassman, undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, U.S. Department of State’.


(1) C. Erimtan, “Behind the scenes of Egypt’s revolution” Hürriyet Daily News (27 February 2011).

The American Empire as a Cold War Legacy

The good people at Wikipedia provide this insight: in ‘the United States Federal Budget for 2010, entitled ‘A New Era of  responsibility’, the DoD [or Department of Defense] was allocated a base budget of $533.7 billion, with a further $75.5 billion adjustment in respect of 2009, and $130 billion for overseas contingencies. The subsequent 2010 DoD Financial Report shows DoD total budgetary resources for fiscal year 2010 were $1.2 trillion. Of these resources, $1.1 trillion were obligated and $994 billion were disbursed, with the remaining resources relating to multi-year modernization projects requiring additional time to procure. Budgeted DoD expenditure for 2009 represented approximately 43% of global military spending, the U.S. ranking second in terms of per capita military spending behind The United Arab Emirates. In FY 2010 DoD budgeted spending accounted for 21% of the U.S. Federal Budget, and 53% of federal discretionary spending, which represents funds not accounted for by pre-existing obligations. As a percentage of its GDP, the U.S. spent 3% of GDP on military in the year 2000, ranking it 28th in the world.  Budgeted 2010 expenditure (including the GWOT supplemental) had risen to 4.5 % of Assumed Nominal GDP’.[1]  Or, as I posted last June: ‘Turns out that money does make the world go round, and money well spent is money no longer available for anything else. So, here is goes: “America spends more on its military than THE NEXT 15 COUNTRIES COMBINED”, “In 2007, the amount of money labeled ‘wasted’ or ‘lost’ in Iraq — $11 billion — could pay 220,000 teachers salaries [in the U.S.]”, “America’s defense spending doubled in the same period that its economy shrunk from 32 to 23 percent of global output”, “The yearly cost of stationing one soldier in Iraq could feed 60 American families”, “The total known land area occupied by U.S. bases and facilities is 15,654 square miles — bigger than D.C., Massachusetts, and New Jersey combined”, “Each day in Afghanistan costs the [U.S.] government more than it did to build the entire Pentagon”, “In 2008, the Pentagon spent more money every five seconds in Iraq than the average American earned in a year”, “The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population — but almost 50% of the world’s total military expenditure”’.[2]  And the above map shows us where all that money goes to . . . NORTHCOM, SOUTHCOM, EUCOM, CENTCOM, AFRICOM, and PACOM.

Looking at that map, one cannot but understand fully all those people talking about the American Empire (and its imminent demise due to overstretch). As such, in addition to the command structure pictured higher, there are U.S. Army installations in Bulgaria, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Kosovo, and South Korea. Whereas the U.S. Air Force has bases in Afghanistan, Australia, Germany, Greenland, Guam, Italy, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, and the UK. Last but not least, there is also the U.S. Navy which can avail itself of  installations in these locations: Bahrain, the British Indian Ocean Territories, Egypt, Cuba, Djibouti, Greece, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, and the UAE.[3]  This giant military footprint is a leftover from the Cold War, when the U.S. was fighting for the preservation of  ‘freedom, democracy and the American Way’. On the other side of the fence, or rather the Iron Curtain was the Soviet Union and its client states. Josef Stalin’s long shadow is thus still able to motivate American policy-  and lawmakers in the 21st century. During the early years of the Cold War, Curtis Lemay (1906-90) ensured that the U.S. Air Force received top priority in America’s war plans, prior to the adoption of the MAD strategy and the universal endorsement of  producing ever more ICBM – Mutually Assured Destruction as a result of deploying Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles. As a result, today the U.S. Air Force is literally ubiquitous around the world, while successive administrations seem eager to pay for the continued upkeep of bases and manpower and machinery Here is a clip showing this year’s defense budget hearing. The HASC or House Armed Services Committee, firmly controlled by the Republicans, met to receive testimony on the fiscal year 2012 national defense authorization budget requests from the U.S. Central Command and the U.S. Special Operations Command (3 March 2011).

 

 


[1] “United States Department of Defense –Expenditures “ Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_Defense.

[2] “Fun Facts about U.S. Military Spending as well as Global Military Expenditure” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (23 June 2011). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/fun-facts-about-u-s-military-spending-as-well-as-global-military-expenditure/.

[3] Cfr. Wikipedia.

U.S.-Bahrain Military Pact

A new report by the Congressional Research Service has revealed that the military pact between the United States and Bahrain has been extended until 2016.

 

Bahrain: Shouting in the dark

Bahrain: An island kingdom in the Arabian Gulf where the Shia Muslim majority are ruled by a family from the Sunni minority. Where people fighting for democratic rights broke the barriers of fear, only to find themselves alone and crushed. This is their story and Al Jazeera is their witness – the only TV journalists who remained to follow their journey of hope to the carnage that followed. This is the Arab revolution that was abandoned by the Arabs, forsaken by the West and forgotten by the world. “Shouting in the dark” can be seen from Thursday, August 4, at the following times GMT: Thursday: 2000; Friday: 1200; Saturday: 0100; Sunday: 0600; Monday: 2000; Tuesday: 1200; Wednesday: 0100; Thursday: 0600.