Tag Archive: Shia Islam


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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — MIKHLIF AL-SHAMMARI has been jailed repeatedly, declared an infidel, ruined financially and shot four times — by his own son — all for this: He believes his fellow Sunni Muslims should treat Shiites as equals.

In a Middle East torn by deepening sectarian hatred, that is a very unusual conviction. He has made it a kind of crusade for eight years now, visiting and praying with prominent Shiites and defending them in print, at enormous personal cost. The government of this deeply conservative kingdom continues to file new accusations against him, under charges like “annoying other people” and “consorting with dissidents.”

But Mr. Shammari, a gaunt 58-year-old with an aquiline nose and a jaunty smile, is not easily discouraged. “I’m not against my government or my religion, but things must be corrected,” he said in a furtive interview in a hotel lobby (he has been banned from talking with the news media). “We must all encourage human rights and stop the violence between Sunni and Shia.”

Photo

‘I’m ready to pay with my life for my beliefs.’ MIKHLIF AL-SHAMMARI Credit Abdurahman al Shammari

 

Mr. Shammari is not Saudi Arabia’s best-known human rights activist, and others have put in more time and suffered much longer prison terms. But he has a rare distinction: No other member of the kingdom’s Sunni Muslim majority has made it a mission to demand equal rights for the Shiite Muslim minority.

Even the most educated and cosmopolitan Saudis often look down on Shiites, who make up about 10 percent of the Saudi population, as closet Iranians or undesirables. Some of the religious conservatives who wield great influence here go much further, saying Shiites are worse than Jews because, unlike genuine infidels, they have been exposed to the truth of Islam and nevertheless choose to pervert it. Shiites have long complained of discrimination of various kinds, as well as the vitriolic abuse hurled at them by government-employed clerics.

Mr. Shammari believes this is not just ancient religious prejudice, but a deliberate strategy by the Saudi monarchy to keep its subjects divided and therefore less likely to demand a voice in their government.

Whatever the reasons, it is clear that the sectarian divide helps to tamp down dissent in the kingdom. In 2011, for instance, even liberal and democratic-leaning Saudis were frightened off by protests in the kingdom’s eastern province and in neighboring Bahrain because they were carried out mostly by Shiites, the majority population there. Street protests are illegal in Saudi Arabia.

MR. SHAMMARI says his protest derives partly from his origins: He is a leader of the Shammar tribe, which includes both Shiites and Sunnis and straddles the border between Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The Shammar suffered discrimination in the early days of the Saudi kingdom, because they were viewed as having divided loyalties.

 

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Published time: March 01, 2014 02:14

A protester throws a tear gas canister back at riot police during clashes taking place during a protest over the death of detainee Jaffar Mohammed Jaffar at a hospital, ahead of his funeral in the village of Daih, west of Manama, February 27, 2014. (Reuters)

A protester throws a tear gas canister back at riot police during clashes taking place during a protest over the death of detainee Jaffar Mohammed Jaffar at a hospital, ahead of his funeral in the village of Daih, west of Manama, February 27, 2014. (Reuters)

A funeral in a Bahraini village of a man who died in police custody has ended with police using teargas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd that engaged them with stones and petrol bombs, according to the authorities.

The Shiite village of Daih was holding a funeral for a 23-year-old Mohammed Jaafar who died in custody, after being accused of smuggling weapons. His death is the second in 2014 of a person held on security-related charges. The main opposition al-Wefaq group said that the young man was denied medical treatment in custody, while one activist said he had been tortured, Reuters reports. The accusations have been denied by the authorities.

Following the funeral, scuffles with police erupted. The people started throwing rocks, metal rods and reportedly petrol bombs at the police who used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd. No casualties have so far been reported.

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Egypt’s ex-president and Muslim Brotherhood figurehead could face capital punishment if found guilty of espionage

  • theguardian.com, Sunday 23 February 2014 14.43 EST
Mohamed Morsi

Mohamed Morsi is accused of leaking secrets to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

An Egyptian prosecutor on Sunday accused the ousted Islamist president of passing state secrets to Iran‘s Revolutionary Guard, the first such explicit detail in an ongoing espionage trial.

If convicted, Mohamed Morsi could face capital punishment. He already stands accused of a string of other charges, some of which also carry the death penalty, levelled as part of a crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood group after the military deposed him last summer.

At Sunday’s hearing, part of which was aired on state television, the prosecution accused Morsi and 35 other Brotherhood members of conspiring to destabilize the country and cooperating with foreign militant groups – including Palestinian Hamas and Lebanon‘s Hezbollah.

The case’s chief prosecutor, Tamer el-Firgani, said Morsi, his aides and senior Brotherhood members had “handed over secrets to foreign countries, among them national defense secrets, and handed over a number of security reports to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in order to destabilize the country’s security and stability.”

El-Firgani, divulging details of the charges, said national security reports meant for only Morsi to see were emailed to some of these foreign militant groups. One report, he said, was sent to the Iranians about the activities of Shia Muslims in Egypt. Iran is mostly Shia.

 

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VOA

Tens of thousands of Bahraini pro-democracy protesters wave signs and national flags during a march along a divided four-lane highway near Barbar, Bahrain, west of the capital of Manama, Feb. 15, 2014.

Tens of thousands of Bahraini pro-democracy protesters wave signs and national flags during a march along a divided four-lane highway near Barbar, Bahrain, west of the capital of Manama, Feb. 15, 2014.

Reuters

The rally organized by the kingdom’s main opposition al-Wefaq movement was one of the biggest staged since 2011.

Vast crowds of men, women and children took to the streets of the small Gulf Arab nation calling for democracy, political reform and the release of political prisoners, witnesses said.

“We will not stop until we achieve our demands,” protesters shouted. “Shi’ites and Sunnis, we all love this country.”

Police could not be seen at the rally on Budaiya Highway, which links Bahrain’s southern Budaiya region with the capital Manama, witnesses said. No clashes were reported.

The Interior Ministry said a policeman had died after being wounded by a “terrorist” blast on Friday. Three other policemenwere wounded the same day, while 26 people had been arrested.

“Some villages saw rioting, vandalism and the targeting of policemen,” the ministry said, referring to Friday’s unrest.

Bahrain, with Saudi help, crushed the demonstrations that began on Feb. 14, 2011 inspired by Arab uprisings elsewhere, but has yet to resolve the conflict between majority Shi’ites and the Sunni-led monarchy they accuse of oppressing them.

The ruling family has launched a third round of dialogue with its opponents, but no political agreement is in sight.

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SFGate

Bahrainis protest, wounded police officer dies

Updated 11:41 am, Saturday, February 15, 2014

Police officers carry the body of fellow policeman Abdul Wahid Al Balouchi, who was killed in a bombing on Friday, during his funeral procession in Riffa, Bahrain, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014. Thousands of Bahraini protesters clashed with security forces on Saturday, sending tear gas into a major shopping mall and bringing the capital's streets to a standstill on the same day that authorities said a police officer died of injuries sustained from an earlier bombing. Photo: Uncredited, AP / AP
Police officers carry the body of fellow policeman Abdul Wahid Al Balouchi, who was killed in a bombing on Friday, during his funeral procession in Riffa, Bahrain, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014. Thousands of Bahraini protesters clashed with security forces on Saturday, sending tear gas into a major shopping mall and bringing the capital’s streets to a standstill on the same day that authorities said a police officer died of injuries sustained from an earlier bombing. Photo: Uncredited, AP

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Bahraini anti-government activists clashed with security forces as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets on Saturday, sending tear gas into a major shopping mall and bringing the capital’s streets to a standstill on the same day that authorities said a police officer died of injuries sustained from an earlier bombing.

The Interior Ministry said that the officer was one of two injured in what it called a “terrorist blast” on Friday in the village of Dair, near the country’s main airport. It did not identify the officer. In a second statement, the ministry characterized recent attacks against security forces as “urban guerrilla warfare.”

Chaos in the small Gulf-island nation highlights deeper regional sectarian tensions that continue to roil Bahrain three years after the country’s majority Shiites began an Arab Spring-inspired uprising to demand greater political rights from the Sunni-led monarchy.

Neighboring Sunni-ruled Gulf countries with smaller Shiite populations, led by Saudi Arabia, sent troops to Bahrain in an effort to stem the uprising in 2011. More than 65 people have died in the unrest, but rights groups and others put the death toll higher.

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War burns in Syria 0:58

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AP February 02, 2014

SYRIAN military helicopters have dropped barrels packed with explosives in the government’s latest air raids on rebel-held areas of the northern city of Aleppo, killing at least 23 people including a family trapped in a burning car, activists said.

In neighbouring Lebanon, a car bomb blew up near a gas station in a Shiite town, killing at least three people, in the latest attack linked to the war in neighbouring Syria.

Footage on al-Manar television, associated with the Shiite group Hezbollah, showed a bright orange blaze as black silhouettes of people ran by the gas station in the north-eastern town of Hermel that lies near the Syrian border. Blasts could be heard in the background. The Lebanese Red Cross said another 18 people were wounded. The organisation initially reported that four people were killed, but later revised the number downwards.

The large blast occurred near a school for impoverished and orphaned children. None were injured, officials said.

It was the latest in a series of attacks targeting Lebanon’s Shiite community, as Syria’s violence causes neighbouring Lebanon’s sectarian tensions to escalate into outright violence.

Sunni militant groups have claimed responsibility for a relentless series of attacks on Shiite parts of Lebanon, including a bomb that exploded in Hermel in late January. They say it is in retaliation for the Shiite Hezbollah group sending its fighters into Syria’s civil war to support forces of President Bashar Assad.

Lebanon’s Sunni community has also been hit, most notably by a deadly double car bombing outside Sunni mosques in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli in August.

In Aleppo, the raids with barrel bombs, as the crude weapons are known, have flattened residential buildings, forcing defenders to flee and allowing government troops to advance.

The latest attacks killed 13 people in the al-Bab area of Aleppo, Hassoun Abu Faisal of the Aleppo Media Center said via Skype. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights corroborated the information.

The blasts badly damaged buildings and caused a fuel tanker to explode, setting nearby vehicles alight, including one carrying a family of eight who were trying to flee the area as they heard the approaching helicopters, said Abu Faisal.

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Aljazeera News

Fighting continues as Syria talks wind up

Regime forces accused of using barrel bombs on Aleppo’s rebel-held areas, after Geneva summit ends without breakthrough.

Last updated: 02 Feb 2014 03:43
Syrian opposition activists say military helicopters have dropped barrels packed with explosives in the government’s latest air raids on rebel-held areas of the northern city of Aleppo, killing at least 23 people including a family trapped in a burning car.In Aleppo, the raids with barrel bombs, as the crude weapons are known, have flattened residential buildings, forcing defenders to flee and allowing government troops to advance, the activists say.

Saturday’s attacks killed 13 people in the al-Bab area of Aleppo, Hassoun Abu Faisal of the Aleppo Media Centre said via Skype.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights corroborated the information.

The blasts badly damaged buildings and caused a fuel tanker to explode, setting nearby vehicles alight, including one carrying a family of eight who were trying to flee the area as they heard the approaching helicopters, Abu Faisal said.

A video showed men dragging a charred victim out of a smashed building.

“You want a political solution? Here is a political solution!” shouted one man as he pointed at two charred bodies on the rubble-strewn ground.

The man was referring to last week’s conference in Switzerland between government officials and opposition activists seeking to resolve Syria’s war, which began as a peaceful uprising in March 2011 against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Geneva summit did not produce any tangible results, but is likely to lead to backdoor negotiations.

More bombings

Other barrel bombings in Aleppo killed three people near a mosque and another seven people in the Ansari quarter, activists said.

Ansari is frequently hit. On Friday, activists uploaded a video of what they said was a child being pulled alive from the rubble after shelling there.

Scenes of civilians and firefighters pulling out dusty, bloodied bodies from under the rubble have become more frequent as the bombing continues.

The footage appeared authentic and reflected Associated Press reporting of the event.

The barrel bombing in Aleppo comes as Syrian government forces try retake the city, which has been divided into government- and opposition-held areas since mid-2012.

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Iraqis inspect the aftermath of a car bomb attack, in the Shiite enclave of Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, July. 29, 2013. A wave of over a dozen car bombings hit central and southern Iraq during morning rush hour on Monday, officials said, killing scores in the latest coordinated attack by insurgents determined to undermine the government. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
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Associated Press

BAGHDAD (AP) — The Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda claimed responsibility Friday for bombings earlier this week that killed at least 82 people, mostly in Shiite areas of the capital, calling them retaliation for the execution of Sunni prisoners by the Shiite-led government.

Wednesday’s attacks involved car bombs and other explosives that mainly targeted parking lots, outdoor markets and restaurants in Shiite districts in Baghdad during the morning rush hour. Some Sunni areas were also hit later in the day.

A statement posted on a militant website by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq, took responsibility for the deadly attacks. The group claimed the attacks were a response to the Aug. 19 execution of 17 Sunni prisoners, all but one of them convicted on terrorism-related charges.

The authenticity of the statement could not be independently confirmed. It was posted on a website commonly used by jihadists and its style was consistent with earlier al-Qaeda statements.

It said tight security measures imposed by Iraqi forces failed to stop the attacks, and the group vowed to carry out more attacks against government targets.

“We will avenge the blood of our brothers,” the group said.

The bombings were the latest in a wave of bloodshed that has swept Iraq since April, killing more than 4,000 people and worsening already strained ties between Iraq’s Sunni minority and the Shiite-led government. More than 570 people have been killed so far in August.

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Iraq Bombings, House Raid Kill at Least 80 People

Car bomb blasts and other explosions tore through mainly Shiite districts around Baghdad during morning rush hour Wednesday in a day of violence that killed at least 80, intensifying worries about Iraq’s ability to tame the spiraling mayhem gripping the country.

It was the latest set of large-scale sectarian attacks to hit Iraq, even as the government went on “high alert” in case a possible Western strike in neighboring Syria increases Iraq’s turmoil.

A relentless wave of killing has left thousands dead since April in the country’s worst spate of bloodshed since 2008. The surge in violence raises fears that Iraq is hurtling back toward the widespread sectarian killing that peaked in 2006 and 2007, when the country was teetering on the edge of civil war.

Most of Wednesday’s attacks happened in within minutes of each other as people headed to work or were out shopping early in the day. Insurgents unleashed explosives-laden cars, suicide bombers and other bombs that targeted parking lots, outdoor markets and restaurants in predominantly Shiite areas in and around Baghdad, officials said. A military convoy was hit south of the capital.

Security forces sealed off the blast scenes as ambulances raced to pick up the wounded. The twisted wreckage of cars littered the pavement while cleaners and shop owners brushed away debris. At one restaurant, the floor was stained with blood and dishes were scattered on plastic tables.

“What sin have those innocent people committed?” asked Ahmed Jassim, who witnessed one of the explosions in Baghdad’s Hurriyah neighborhood. “We hold the government responsible.”

The northern neighborhood of Kazimiyah, home to a prominent Shiite shrine, was among the worst hit. Two bombs went off in a parking lot, followed by a suicide car bomber who struck onlookers who had gathered at the scene. Police said the attack killed 10 people and wounded 27.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but they bore the hallmarks of the Iraqi branch of al-Qaida, which operates in Iraq under the name the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The group frequently targets Shiites, which it considers heretics, and carries out coordinated bombings in an attempt to incite sectarian strife.

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Nafeez Ahmed was the original Muslim 9/11 truth scholar. His book The War on Freedom – the earliest work of its kind – made a 9/11 truther of Gore Vidal. He is also a star contributor to the book I edited, 9/11 and American Empire v.2.

Nafeez’s controlled demolition of the war-criminal BBC, reproduced below, nicely complements Tony Rooke’s moral victory over the BBC in Monday’s court case.

-KB


 

Seven Myths About the Iraq War: How BBC Newsnight failed journalism on the 10 year anniversary of the invasion

 

by Nafeez Ahmed

Veterans Today

As a participant in BBC Newsnight special, “Iraq – 10 Years On“, I found myself feeling slightly miffed at the lack of real debate on the crucial issues.

On the one hand, Newsnight presented a number of narratives of the war and its aftermath as ‘fact’, which are deeply questionable. On the other, there were no serious, factually-grounded criticisms of the war, despite a diverse panel which included people who did not support it.

As author of a major book on the war and its historical context, Behind the War on Terror: Western Secret Strategy and the Struggle for Iraq, as well as co-author of a new report, Executive Decisions: How British Intelligence was Hijacked for the Iraq War, I consider myself to be reasonably informed. Yet BBC Newsnight failed almost entirely to bring any of these issues to light.

What follows is my Newsnight-inspired Iraq War Myth-Busting exercise, based on what was, and wasn’t, discussed on the show.

MYTH 1. Sectarian violence has increased in postwar Iraq because sectarianism has always existed in Iraq, and the removal of Saddam allowed it to erupt

One of the first Newsnight bloopers started with a short introductory clip from John Simpson, the BBC’s World Affairs Editor. Amongst other things, Simpson talked about the rise of sectarian Sunni-Shi’a violence in postwar Iraq, and argued that while Saddam’s regime had clamped down on sectarian divisions, regime change effectively unleashed those previously suppressed divisions and allowed them to worsen.

This was the first of many oversimplifications about the escalation of sectarian violence in Iraq. The reality, as pointed out on the show by my colleague in the audience, anthropologist Professor Nadje al-Ali, is that prior to the war, generic sectarian antagonism was unheard of in Iraqi society. Although Saddam’s regime was unequivocally sectarian in its own violence against Shi’as and Kurds, as a mechanism of shoring up the Ba’athist regime, Iraqis did not largely identify in sectarian terms. As one Iraqi blogger living in Baghdad noted:

“I always hear the Iraqi pro-war crowd interviewed on television from foreign capitals (they can only appear on television from the safety of foreign capitals because I defy anyone to be publicly pro-war in Iraq)… They go on and on about Iraq’s history and how Sunnis and Shia were always in conflict and I hate that. I hate that a handful of expats who haven’t been to the country in decades pretend to know more about it than people actually living there. I remember Baghdad before the war- one could live anywhere. We didn’t know what our neighbors were- we didn’t care. No one asked about religion or sect. No one bothered with what was considered a trivial topic: are you Sunni or Shia? You only asked something like that if you were uncouth and backward. Our lives revolve around it now. Our existence depends on hiding it or highlighting it- depending on the group of masked men who stop you or raid your home in the middle of the night.”

Missing from the BBC Newsnight discussion was the fact that the Bush administration planned from the outset to dominate Iraq by pursuing the de facto ethnic partition of the country into three autonomous cantons. The private US intelligence firm, Stratfor, reported that the US was “working on a plan to merge Iraq and Jordan into a unitary kingdom to be ruled by the Hashemite dynasty headed by King Abdullah of Jordan.” The plan was “authored by US Vice President Dick Cheney” as well as “Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz”, and was first discussed at “an unusual meeting between Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan and pro-US Iraqi Sunni opposition members in London in July” 2002.

Under this plan, the central and largest part of Iraq populated largely by Sunnis would be joined with Jordan, and would include Baghdad, which would no longer be the capital. The Kurdish region of northern and northwestern Iraq, including Mosul and the vast Kirkuk oilfields, would become its own autonomous state. The Shi’a region in southwestern Iraq, including Basra, would make up the third canton, or more likely it would be joined with Kuwait.

Ultimately, of course, the specific detail of this plan did not come to fruition – but the ‘divide-and-rule’ imperial thinking behind the plan was implemented. As one US Joint Special Operations University report documented, “US elite forces in Iraq turned to fostering infighting among their Iraqi adversaries on the tactical and operational level.” This included disseminating and propagating al-Qaeda jihadi activities by “US psychological warfare (PSYOP) specialists” to fuel “factional fighting” and “to set insurgents battling insurgents.”

Pakistani defence sources thus reported in early 2005 that the Pentagon had  ”resolved to arm small militias backed by US troops and entrenched in the population,” consisting of “former members of the Ba’ath Party” – linked up with al-Qaeda insurgents – to “head off” the threat of a “Shi’ite clergy-driven religious movement.” Almost simultaneously, the Pentagon began preparing its ‘Salvador option’ to sponsor Shi’ite death squads to “target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers” – a policy developed under the interim government of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

Ironically, the same Allawi also made an appearance on Newsnight via Baghdad, rightly criticising the current government for failing to incorporate an inclusive, non-sectarian political process. But Newsnight didn’t bother to ask him about his role in engendering the very sectarian violence he now criticises by sponsoring death squads.

MYTH 2. We went to war in Iraq based on a legitimate parliamentary process, even if lots of people demonstrated against it – most Brits approved the war according to polls

When an audience member asked why the British government still went to war despite the millions of people who protested against it, Independent columnist John Rentoul argued that the war was in fact an example of proper democratic process – because ultimately the MPs voted for it. He pointed out that we don’t run democracies based on “mob rule” – i.e. just because people protesting in the street  don’t want something – but on the basis of consensual parliamentary procedures. To this, host Kirsty Wark added that 54% supported the war according to opinion polls at the time.

Really?

In mid-March, before the war, “just 26% of the public was saying in mid-March that they approved of British involvement without a ‘smoking gun’ and a second UN vote, while 63% disapproved.” It was only once the bombs began to drop that public opinion drifted slightly in favour of the war. Where did Kirsty Wark’s 54% figure come from?

Disingenuously, it comes from an ICM poll which “found a persistent majority against the war, reaching a low point of 29% support (and 52% oppose) in February. Support then rose to 38% in the final pre-invasion poll (14-16 March, the same weekend as MORI’s) and jumped to 54% just a week later, with the war only a few days old.

Kirsty’s 54% claim applies after the war – before the war, the majority of the British public was overwhelmingly opposed to the invasion, a fact which was not reflected in the parliamentary process.

And of course, since then, opposition to the war continued to grow dramatically.

MYTH 3: The Iraq War was, at worst, a colossal cock-up, simply because we didn’t have good intel on the ground about WMDs etc. So we didn’t really go to war on the basis of a lie, we went to war because our intel was wrong.

As I tried to point out in my brief intervention on the show, this whole debate about whether the public approved the war or not to some extent misses the point – which is that the Iraq War was ignited on the basis of false claims about Saddam’s WMD. Those false claims were promulgated by senior American and British officials precisely to manipulate public opinion, and pressurise the political system into a pre-made decision to go to war, irrespective of the UN, irrespective of international law, and irrespective of whether WMD really existed.

It’s this fact which ultimately brings to light the extent to which our political system, certainly when it comes to foreign policy decisions, is broken, and has yet to be repaired. The historical record confirms that all the intelligence available to British and American security services, including information passed on through the UN weapons inspections process throughout the 1990s, confirmed unequivocally that Saddam had no functioning WMDs of any kind.

Amongst the intelligence available to the allies was the testimony of defector General Hussein Kamel, Saddam’s son-in-law and head of Iraq’s WMD programmes. He provided crates of documents to UN weapons inspectors, as well as authoritative testimony on the precise nature of the WMD programmes that Saddam had embarked on in preceding years. He was even cited by senior officials as the key witness on the threat posed by Saddam’s WMD’s. What these same officials conveniently omitted to mention is that Gen. Kamel had also confirmed to UN inspectors in 1995 that Iraq had destroyed its entire stockpile of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and banned missiles, in 1991, shortly before the Gulf War – exactly as Saddam had claimed. Yet such intelligence was ignored and suppressed.

MYTH 4: The decision to go to war was based on a legitimate parliamentary process, legal advice from the Attorney General, as well as consultations with the UN.

In reality, the decision to go to war was made jointly by senior American and British officials prior to any democratic process, behind closed doors, and irrespective of evidence or international law. This is confirmed by a range of declassified official documents.

A leaked policy options paper drafted by officials in the Cabinet Office’s Overseas and Defence Secretariat (8th March 2002), records that:

 

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Teenage protester shot dead amid clashes on Bahrain uprising anniversary (PHOTOS)

Published: 14 February, 2013, 13:36
Edited: 14 February, 2013, 19:37

Shiite Bahraini protestors clash with security forces following a rally to mark the second anniversary of an uprising in the Sunni-ruled kingdom of Bahrain, on February 14, 2013 in the village of Sanabis, West of the capital Manama (AFP Photo / Mohammed Al - Shaikh)

Shiite Bahraini protestors clash with security forces following a rally to mark the second anniversary of an uprising in the Sunni-ruled kingdom of Bahrain, on February 14, 2013 in the village of Sanabis, West of the capital Manama (AFP Photo / Mohammed Al – Shaikh)

A teenage protester was killed in a Shiite village near the Bahraini capital Manama on Thursday, as demonstrators clashed with police during a rally marking the second anniversary of the country’s Shia uprising.

­According to the website of main Bahraini opposition group Wefaq, 16-year-old Ali Ahmed Ibrahim al-Jazeeri died in the village of Diya from what it alleged were internationally banned exploding bullets. The country’s interior ministry confirmed the death on its Twitter account, but did not release the identity of the deceased, AFP reported.

Protests started early in the morning in a few Shiite villages, as demonstrators marked the second anniversary of the beginning of the popular uprising in the country. According to the International Federation for Human Rights, at least 80 people have died in the violence over the past two years.

The latest rally also turned violent, with security forces firing shotguns and tear gas to disperse the protesters. Demonstrators retaliated by throwing petrol bombs at officers, witnesses said.

Shiite Bahraini protestors clash with security forces following a rally to mark the second anniversary of an uprising in the Sunni-ruled kingdom of Bahrain, on February 14, 2013 in the village of Sanabis, West of the capital Manama (AFP Photo / Mohammed Al – Shaikh)
Shiite Bahraini protestors clash with security forces following a rally to mark the second anniversary of an uprising in the Sunni-ruled kingdom of Bahrain, on February 14, 2013 in the village of Sanabis, West of the capital Manama (AFP Photo / Mohammed Al – Shaikh)

Two police officers were reportedly hurt when their vehicles crashed in Budaiya, after anti-government protesters poured motor oil on the road. Hundreds of people participating in the rally also built roadblocks.

Nationwide protests are set to take place across Bahrain on Thursday and Friday following calls by opposition activists.

On Wednesday, Bahraini police fired tear gas and stun grenades in a crackdown on hundreds of protesters in the capital Manama. Demonstrators attempted to march to Pearl Square, which was occupied two years ago when the protest against the country’s ruling Sunni monarchy first began.

Peace in Bahrain can only be reached “through a dialogue, and the regime has to realize that,” Bahraini activist Dominic Kavakeb told RT.

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‘No change in Bahrain as Al Khalifa rules’

Published on Feb 8, 2013

A Bahraini opposition leader says that the developments in the past two years in the Persian Gulf island of Bahrain have proved that the ruling Al Khalifa regime cannot be trusted to bring about real changes.

The comments come as Bahraini protesters have held fresh protest rallies marking the second anniversary of their pro-democracy uprising against the ruling regime. Anti-regime demonstrators on Thursday held a massive march in the capital, Manama, while similar rallies were held in several other parts of the country. According to Physicians for Human Rights, many doctors and nurses have been detained, tortured, or have disappeared because they have “evidence of atrocities committed by the authorities, security forces, and riot police” in the crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Press TV has talked with Saeed Shahabi, Bahraini opposition leader from London to further discuss the issue at hand.

Bahrain protesters mark Arab Spring 2nd anniversary

ublished on Feb 14, 2013

http://www.euronews.com/ Security forces in Bahrain shot dead a teenage boy on Thursday as protesters marked the second anniversary of the failed Arab Spring uprising.

The shooting happened in a small village near the capital Manama after a radical underground group called for a general strike and a day of civil disobedience.

Earlier in the week, riot police were deployed to disperse demonstrators and clashes broke out when tea gas was fired.

The main opposition continues to demand the freeing of dozens of political prisoners, who were detained two years ago.

Seven of them were interviewed by Amnesty International at Bahrain’s Jaw prison last month. All of them say they’ve been jailed on false charges or under laws that repress basic rights.

The human rights group also released a video from Maryam Abu Deeb, the daughter of one prisoner, Mahdi Abe Deeb, who is the president of the Bahrain Teachers Association.

“My dad has been prisoned now for two years, sentenced to five years for exercising his right to freedom of expression,” she recounted.

Dozens of people were killed during February and March 2011 when the original uprising took hold.

Human rights groups claim security forces used excessive force as they attempted to quash the protests. Many prisoners were allegedly tortured in the first weeks of their arrests.

By Jack Phillips
Epoch Times Staff Created: January 23, 2013

 

Syrian rebels inspect a vehicle at a security checkpoint in Jabal al-Akrad region, northeast of Latakia province, on January 22, 2013. (Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images)

Syrian rebels inspect a vehicle at a security checkpoint in Jabal al-Akrad region, northeast of Latakia province, on January 22, 2013. (Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images)

Armed rebels in Syria destroyed religious sites in Latakia and Idlib provinces in recent months, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

According to the New York based rights group the rebels destroyed a Shia mosque and looted two Christian churches in November and December last year.

“The destruction of religious sites is furthering sectarian fears and compounding the tragedies of the country, with tens of thousands killed,” stated Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. It is estimated that 60,000 people have been killed in the 22-month-long conflict.

She added, “Syria will lose its rich cultural and religious diversity if armed groups do not respect places of worship. Leaders on both sides should send a message that those who attack these sites will be held accountable.”

In Syria, around three-fourths of the population are Sunni Muslims, while there are notable pockets of Christians, Alawites, and Shia Muslims around the country. Assad’s family, members of his government, and many of the pro-regime militia forces are Alawites, which is an offshoot of Shia Islam.

However, most of the rebel fighters—some of whom came from other countries to fight Assad’s forces—are believed to be Sunni.

In a video that was viewed by Human Rights Watch, an opposition fighter in front of a burning Shia mosque in Zarzour claimed it was part of the “destruction of the dens of the Shias and the Rafida,” a derogatory term used to call Shia adherents.

 

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Earth Watch Report  –  Flooding

Heavy rains in Baghdad leave 4 dead

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27.12.2012 Flash Flood Iraq Capital City, Baghdad Damage level
Details

Flash Flood in Iraq on Thursday, 27 December, 2012 at 03:42 (03:42 AM) UTC.

Description
The worst rains to hit Baghdad in 30 years left four people dead and many of the Iraqi capital’s residents struggling to cope with heavy flooding on Wednesday as the government declared a national holiday. Patients reported long and difficult journeys to hospitals, shopkeepers complained of a lack of business and several roads were immersed in water, in some cases as much as waist-high. In the predominantly-Shiite northeastern district of Sadr City, the area surrounding Fatima al-Zahra hospital was completely flooded, and patients said trips that normally took 15 minutes had taken them as long as two hours. “They told me I need to go and get an ultrasound from outside the hospital, but we do not know where to go, we are afraid the roads will be flooded and we will not be able to come back,” said a woman who identified herself only as Umm Laith, or mother of Laith.

The 38-year-old said her sister-in-law, who was nine months pregnant, took two hours to reach the hospital earlier on Wednesday. A medic who spoke on condition of anonymity said four family members — two men and two women — were killed and another woman injured when their house in the northeastern outskirts collapsed Tuesday night due to the heavy rainfall. The Iraqi Meteorological Organization reported on Wednesday that 6.75 centimeters (2.56 inches) of rain fell in Baghdad a day earlier, which its chief said was the highest such figure in 30 years. The heavy rain spurred the government to declare Wednesday a national holiday, the fourth time this year it has been forced to do so because of bad weather. The other three were due to heat during Iraq’s boiling summer. The rain also affected shopkeepers who saw dramatically lower sales as a result of the flooding. “I did not do any work since the morning because of the flood,” said Mohammed, a 35-year-old working in a furniture repair shop in Sadr City. He said his house in a nearby neighborhood and the surrounding area were flooded, and complained that he failed to even earn the $8-$12 a day he usually makes.