Trump’s failure pushes GCC towards war; Alkhalifa target women activists

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SHAFAQNA – The failure of the Trump administration to take a leading role in diffusing the tension among its allies in the Gulf has led to serious escalation of the conflict. Last week the Saudis handed the Qataris a list of 13 impossible demands as a condition for ending their aggressive policy on the smaller neighbour. Those conditions were dismissed by other countries, including UK and USA as unrealistic. The Saudis wanted Qatar to submit to their orders, severing links with Iran, ending military cooperation with Turkey, severing ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, closing down Al Jazeera TV and paying billions in compensation to Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt for what they called “domestic losses due to Qatar’s policies and interventions in their domestic affairs”. The Qataris dismissed the demands outright. Washington has been criticised for lack of leadership at time of crisis. New political alignments are now taking place with Qatar forging stronger links with both Iran and Turkey. Saudis have disastrously lost their risky venture and their political leverage in the region has been greatly weakened.

On 24th June UNICEF reported on the spread of Cholera in Yemen saying that “In just two months, cholera has spread to almost every governorate of this war-torn country.  Already more than 1,300 people have died – one quarter of them children – and the death toll is expected to rise.  It further added: “This deadly cholera outbreak is the direct consequence of two years of heavy conflict. Collapsing health, water and sanitation systems have cut off 14.5 million people from regular access to clean water and sanitation, increasing the ability of the disease to spread.  Rising rates of malnutrition have weakened children’s health and made them more vulnerable to disease. An estimated 30,000 dedicated local health workers who play the largest role in ending this outbreak have not been paid their salaries for nearly 10 months.

On Saturday 24th June, Saudi security forces shot dead a young teacher near one of the check points in the town of AlQatif. Amin Al Hani, a father of three, is a community activist attached to the Quran Teaching Centre. As he approached AlNasira check point his car was targeted by police and immediately burst in flames. He died in the ensuing intense heat. On 22nd June The Associated Press reported that US forces were involved in the interrogation of detainees held in secret prisons in Yemen where torture is widespread. The centers are run by United Arab Emirati (UAE) and UAE-backed Yemeni forces. The details are grotesque: Prisoners in these centers were “crammed into shipping containers smeared with fences and blindfolded for weeks,” beaten, and trussed up on a “grill” – a spit like a roast to which the victim is tied and spun in a circle of fire, the article says. Prisoners were also sexually assaulted, among other forms of abuse. The article also alleges that some prisoners were transferred to a ship where US “polygraph experts” and “psychological experts” conducted interrogations.

Native Bahraini women have, once again, been targeted by Alkhalifa torturers. Najah Ali, has been remanded in custody for 30 days for accusing the regime of abusing her young son, Ali Juma, 17. He had been detained, tortured and sentenced to three years for taking part in anti-regime protests. She has been denied access to see him. Her other younger son, Kumainl, 14, has been in hiding for fear of arrest.

The management team of the only independent daily newspaper, AlWasat, has laid off its staff, two weeks after Alkahlifa dictator ordered its closure. There was a slight hope that Alkhalifa allies in London and Washington would intervene to save the only independent newspaper in the country, but that did not happen. Yesterday the employees were sent a letter by the Editor, Dr Mansoor Al Jamri, thanking them for their services and terminating their contracts. It was one of those black days in the history of the tribal dictatorship that has become enemy of freedom, rights and laws.

As the policy of tribal revenge replaces the rule of law, Bahrain’s dictator has escalated his atrocious crimes against family members of activists working outside the country. The latest victim is the son of a prominent AlWefaq former MP, Sheikh Hassan Sultan. Mohammed who is an apolitical young professional, was summoned four times by the notorious National Security Agency (NSA), interrogated, tortured and threatened with more severe abuse. There is fear for the safety of human rights activist, Ebtisam Al Sayegh, after she exposed the heinous crimes committed against her by NSA’s torturers earlier this month. She was tortured and sexually assaulted after being summoned. Fears are rising for her life.

Alarmed by the deteriorating health of Nabeel Rajab, the Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament, Mr Pier Antonio Panzeri made a statement yesterday on the fate of Nabeel Rajab, in which he said: “I am alarmed at his state of health which has steadily worsened during his lengthy detention and especially after he underwent surgery in April”. Mr Panzeri further stated: “Nabeel Rajab’s detention violates his right to freedom of expression. I call on the Bahraini authorities to grant lawyers and family members access to Nabeel Rajab, to drop all charges against him and to free him immediately.”

Bahrain Freedom Movement

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