Prawer protesters beaten, threatened with rape by Israeli police in Haifa

Riot gear police wearing army type uniforms chase demonstrators

Israeli forces arrested 27 demonstrators during a 30 November Day of Rage protest in Haifa.

The Israeli government’s announcement last week that it has withdrawn proposed legislation to forcibly displace tens of thousands of Bedouins from the Naqab (Negev) desert represents a small victory for all who have opposed the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Yet it is important to underscore that while the Prawer Plan bill has been withdrawn, at least for the time being, the plan on which these moves are based has not been fully abandoned. Nor should those who encountered state brutality during the protests against the plan — some of which was captured on video — be forgotten.

Thousands of protesters were met by a huge force of police on Day of Rage against the Prawer Plan on 30 November; the human rights group Adalah reported 27 arrests in Haifa, and 26 in the Naqab, of whom four were minors (“Update on Detained Anti-Prawer Demonstrators in the North and the Naqab,” 3 December). The Yasam force, a militarized unit of the Israeli police, was deployed against demonstrators.

The state also tried to stop the protests through its domestic spy agency known as the Shin Bet by sending threatening letters to activists prior to the demonstration to deter from participating and organizing. Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel described it is an attempt to “sow fear among the young people who are exercising their right to protest against dangerous government policies and expressing their opinion on the eve of the Knesset’s vote on the Prawer Plan, in order to prevent them from engaging in civil political activity” (“Adalah and ACRI: The Shabak is Trying to Sow Fear among Anti-Prawer Plan Activists,” 28 November).

Waseem Kheir is among the Palestinians whose cruel treatment by Israel has been ignored.

A young playwright from the Druze religious minority in present-day Israel, Kheir has previously been imprisoned for refusing to serve in the Israeli army. He had joined the Day of Rage demonstration against the Prawer Plan in Haifa on 30 November.

About half an hour before the protest ended, Kheir told The Electronic Intifada, he was approached by a militarized policeman in riot gear. Lifting up his mask, the policeman asked, “Do you remember me?” Kheir had been hit and pushed around by this policeman at a previous demonstration in support of Palestinian political prisoners.

As the demonstration was wrapping up, Kheir walked towards where his car was parked in the German Colony area of the city, along with his father. They had intended to go to al-Midan theater, where one of Kheir’s plays was being performed.

Attacked

“I heard a scream, ‘Here he is, get him!’ And five or six soldiers attacked me,” Kheir said, referring to the militarized police forces. “They hit me on the head and body using their fists and sticks. Then they handcuffed me and took me to a cell” in a nearby detention center known as Ben Gurion.

At the station, Kheir saw two other young activists, Sabreen Diab and Suheer Asad. “Sabreen was shouting in pain because her arm and leg were broken,” said Kheir. “When both Suheer and I told them to back off, they pulled each each of us to different cells and I heard Suheer scream.

“They beat me until I threw up from pain and almost fainted. They were screaming at me, ‘If you’re not happy here, leave this country.’

“After that they moved us to the main prison in Haifa. There, they deprived us of food and medical care. They even stopped us from going to the bathroom.

“In the prison, we were ten guys in a small cell. We barely had room to stand. It was humiliating. And it was very cold.”

When taken to court the next day, Kheir complained about his treatment and told the judge that he was in pain. The judge requested that he be taken to hospital straight away. Yet it wasn’t until 3am in the morning — some 33 hours after he was attacked — that Kheir was brought to hospital.

“When I got to the hospital the doctors kept me for the night, and diagnosed a brain concussion and severe bruises in my arms and legs, back and stomach,” he said.

While Diab and Asad were released on bail the day after their arrest, Kheir and a number of other protesters were remanded in custody. Police officers had alleged that they were attacked by the protesters and that they had disturbed public order by taking part in an unauthorized demonstration.

Kheir was once again in court two days after his arrest. He and another man, Omar Abd al-Kader, were placed under house arrest on 8 December.

“Fear doesn’t work”

Suheer Asad told The Electronic Intifada that she was verbally threatened after she was placed in a cell on her own in the Ben Gurion center. “One soldier said, ‘I will rape you’ with his face close to mine,” she said, referring to a policeman from the Yasam unit.

“They hit me with their fists. I could still hear Sabreen crying from pain in the other cell. The armed soldier hit my legs with a chair, all while I was handcuffed. It was very painful.

“When we were moved to the Haifa police station, I was put in a cell with Sabreen, who was still handcuffed with her broken arm. They even made her go to the bathroom with the handcuffs on.

“Later that night they took her to the hospital and the doctors put her hand in a cast.”

Instead of condemning these acts of violence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu encouraged these acts against Palestinian protesters, telling Israeli media: “We will try the offenders to the full extent of the law. We will not tolerate such riots. We shall continue to advance the Prawer Bill” (“Protesters clash with police over Bedouin resettlement plan,” YNet, 30 November. According to Adalah’s 3 December update, Netanyahu’s statement demonstrates that the arrests were politically motivated to suppress opposition to the Prawer Plan.

Rawan Eghbareyeh, a lawyer and protest organizer, said that the violence by Israeli forces was intended to pressure Palestinians into ceasing political activities.

“Their fear doesn’t work any more,” Eghbareyeh added. “We are more educated [than previous generations]. We have no fear. And we know our rights as citizens.”

(Source / 17.12.2013)

Media group says ‘worrying’ press violations in West Bank

Israeli policemen take position during clashes with Palestinians in Qalandia refugee camp, near Ramallah, on September 27, 2013.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms on Tuesday released a statement documenting “worrying violations” against media freedoms in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

MADA monitored a series of arrests and verbal and physical abuses in November which it said was a “warning sign of a deterioration in the status of media freedoms.”

In Salfit, manager of Sawt Alghad Radio, Majdi Taha, was arrested by Palestinian Authority forces on Nov. 1 after writing a report about a missing girl in the northern West Bank, MADA said.

PA forces detained journalist George Canawati, the manager of Radio Bethlehem 2000, on Nov. 10 after raiding his home, while intelligence services working for the PA presidential guard detained a crew from Watan TV on Nov. 24 while they were preparing a report on false business companies.

In Tulkarem, Watan TV correspondent Sami Saai was summoned for investigation by the PA’s preventative security forces.

In the Gaza Strip, Agence France Press cameraman Yahya Hasouna was detained by Hamas security forces on Nov. 11 while preparing a report about the 9th memorial of Yasser Arafat’s death, MADA said.

On the same day, armed men broke into the home of Al-Arabiya TV cameraman Shabaan Mema and stole his car.

MADA also noted numerous media violations by Israeli forces.

On Nov. 6, Mohammad Abu Khdeir, a correspondent with al-Quds newspaper, was detained at Ben Gurion airport after returning home from a trip.

He was held by Israeli forces for a month before being released.

In early December, the Foreign Press Association accused the Israeli army of “deliberately targeting” journalists after soldiers fired rubber bullets and threw stun grenades at photojournalists clearly identified as press.

The Tel Aviv-based group, which represents journalists of all foreign media, said troops had directly targeted a group of photographers covering clashes at the Qalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

“The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms condemns all violations against journalists in Palestine,” MADA said, urging all violations by Palestinian authorities to be investigated.

The group also called on civil society to put pressure on Israeli military forces to stop all violations against journalists and to respect the freedom of expression.

(Source / 17.12.2013)

Palestinian child wounded by Israeli gunfire while harvesting potatoes in Gaza

(Photo by Rosa Schiano)

On Sunday, 15th December, a young Palestinian was injured by Israeli gunfire in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip.

Mohammed el-Shanbary, age 17, was harvesting potatoes. “I went to work at 9 am,” el-Shanbary said. “After about 30 minutes, the soldiers started shooting.”

He was working with the owner of the land and another person about 500 meters from the wall that separates the Gaza Strip from territory occupied by Israel in 1948.

El-Shanbary and his father Rafiq think the bullets were fired from control towers situated along the separation barrier, inside of which there are automatic machine guns.

A bullet wounded El-Shanbary in his left shinbone. After he fainted, the landowner called his father and asked him to summon an ambulance. The ambulance took him to Kamal Odwan hospital.

The bullet entered and exited, causing a fracture. El-Shanbary would have surgery 30 minutes after our visit. The doctor said they would insert a tibial fixation.

El-Shanbary started working in the area one month ago. The work depends on the harvest season.

His father does not have a stable job, leaving el-Shanbary and his 21-year-old brother to work to support a family of ten.

He can earn from 25 to 40 shekels per day, depending on how many crates of potatoes he collects. For each crate, he receives two shekels.

“Some time ago, they were shooting just to scare us, not directly at our bodies,” el-Shanbary said.

“We work just to buy bread for our family, and they hit us,” his father Rafiq added.

The ceasefire of 21st November 2012 established that Israeli occupation forces should “refrain from hitting residents in areas along the border” and “cease hostilities in the Gaza Strip by land, by sea and by air, including raids and targeted killings.”

However, Israeli military attacks by land and sea followed from the day after the ceasefire, and Israeli warplanes fly constantly over the Gaza Strip. Seven civilians have been killed by Israeli occupation forces since the end of their last major offensive, “Operation Pillar of Defense,” and more than 130 have been wounded.

These attacks on the Gaza Strip continue amid international silence.

(Source / 17.12.2013)

Ex-Israel, KSA officials met in Monaco

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki al-Faisal

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki al-Faisal

Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence minister and the former Israeli envoy to the US have reportedly held a meeting on the sidelines of a recent World Policy Conference in Monaco.

According to the Israeli radio, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal publicly shook hands with Itamar Rabinovich during the event.

Turki, who formerly served as Saudi ambassador to Washington, was also invited to Israel to deliver a speech before the Israeli parliament, Knesset, but he reportedly declined.

The Saudi prince has criticized Washington for its policies, saying that the United States has backed out of its commitments to regional allies, the report indicated.

Israeli media reports come at a time that the Israeli regime and Saudi Arabia express discontent with the US policy toward Syria and Iran.

Turki said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Sunday that Riyadh wants to take part in nuclear talks between Iran and six major world powers.

“It’s important for us to sit down at the same table. We have been absent,” he said.

Ismail Kosari, a member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of Iran’s Majlis, dismissed the request, saying, “I think this request is something new that makes me wonder on what basis or principle they want to participate in the nuclear talks.”

The reason why Iran is negotiating with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the US, Britain, Russia, China and France – plus Germany is that they are members of the UN Security Council, which currently handles Iran’s nuclear dossier, the Iranian lawmaker said.

(Source / 17.12.2013)

Syria conflict: Aleppo strikes ‘overwhelm’ hospitals

 

An injured youth on a stretcher in Aleppo's Maadi district (17 December 2013)MSF called on all parties in the conflict to stop targeting civilian infrastructure
Hospitals in the Syrian city of Aleppo have been overwhelmed with casualties after a wave of air strikes which killed more than 100 people in recent days, Medecins Sans Frontieres says.

Indiscriminate and sustained attacks by government aircraft had caused significant damage in areas populated by civilians, the organisation warned.

Bodies are being lined up in front of hospitals for collection by relatives.

On Tuesday, warplanes stepped up their air strikes on rebel-held districts.

Eighteen people, including two children, were killed in the Shaar and Maadi areas, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based activist group.

On Sunday, 76 people, including 28 children, died when barrel bombs were dropped on three eastern areas, the group said.

‘Chaos’

Aitor Zabalgogeazkoa, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)’s co-ordinator in Syria, said that in the past three days, helicopters had been targeting different areas, among them a school and the Haydarya roundabout, where people wait for public transport.

“In both cases, there were dozens of dead and injured people. A dozen bodies were being lined up in front of three hospitals waiting to be recovered by the families,” he added.

Aftermath of air strike in Shaar district of Aleppo (17 December 2013)Fifteen people, including two children, were killed in Aleppo’s Shaar district on Monday
Aftermath of air strike in Maadi district of Aleppo (17 December 2013)It was the third straight day of air raids on the city, formerly Syria’s commercial hub
People inspect the bodies of people killed in air strikes in Aleppo's Maadi district (17 December 2013)The air force had been dropping barrels of explosives from helicopters and warplanes, activists said

MSF said the emergency was overcrowding the already stretched network of hospitals in Aleppo – most of which have been partially damaged or destroyed by more than a year of fierce fighting – and leaving them with little or no resources.

“Repeated attacks often lead to chaos and make it more difficult to treat the wounded, therefore increasing the number of fatalities,” Mr Zabalgogeazkoa said.

“The ambulances are overwhelmed because they are called to several areas at the same time. Doctors face extremely difficult decisions because they receive such a significant flow of patients.”

MSF said the massive influx of patients after the air strikes had emptied the stocks of critical drugs and medical materials for life-saving activities. The international humanitarian organisation said it had sent fresh supplies, but that many patients had to be sent elsewhere.

It called on all parties in the conflict to stop targeting civilian infrastructure and to stop using weapons with indiscriminate effects in urban areas.

British medic dies

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday that the situation in Syria had “deteriorated beyond all imagination” and insisted that both sides stopped fighting before attending a proposed conference to find a political solution to the conflict in January.

On Tuesday, UN officials confirmed that the so-called Geneva II talks would actually open in the Swiss town of Montreux.

There are not enough hotel rooms left in Geneva on the 22 January because thousands of luxury watchmakers will be staying in the city for a trade fair.

After one day of talks between foreign ministers in Montreux, the conference will break up and reconvene on 24 January at the UN’s headquarters in Geneva.

In a separate development, a British surgeon imprisoned in Syria for more than a year has died in detention shortly before he was to be released.

Dr Abbas Khan was arrested by government forces two days after arriving in Aleppo to treat injured civilians.

Earlier this year, his mother found him in a prison in Damascus weighing just five stone (32kg), barely able to walk and claiming he had been tortured.

A Syrian government official told the BBC that Dr Khan had killed himself, but his family told the BBC that they did not believe this.

UK Foreign Office Minister Hugh Robertson said that it was clear that he had met his death in circumstances that were “at best extremely suspicious”.

(Source / 17.12.2013)

Egypt’s constitution campaign poster: a PR disaster?

Egypt’s constituent assembly Chairman Amr Moussa (C) sits at a news conference. Behind him a poster riddled with mistakes.

In an embarrassing disclosure, Egypt has apologized for a banner promoting the new constitution that misspelt the word “Egyptians” and carried images of foreigners instead of locals.

The poster came as a humiliating gaffe for the government, currently trying to rally support for the charter, and the blunder was picked up by international press.

In a statement received on Tuesday, the State Information Service (SIS) apologized for the misspelling but did not mention the controversy over the nationalities of the people portrayed in the banner.

“The SIS formally apologizes for the error found in the banner… (It) was delivered hours before the conference began as a donation by a non-governmental organization promoting the constitutional draft,” the SIS said.

Three out of five of the people pictured in the banner were not Egyptian, local media sources and social media users revealed on Monday.

One of the women pictured, dressed in a suit, has turned out to be a stock picture licensed for free use by the Getty picture agency, most recently appearing on an Irish businesswomen’s networking site.

(Photo courtesy: www.networkireland.ie/)

Next to the woman, was a man dressed as a doctor who Twitter users revealed to be the same man who appeared in an advertisement for a website registered in Arizona, USA that sells treatments for stretch marks.

 

There was also a picture of another man, which is currently used by AZ Business Magazine – also registered in Arizona, USA – in an article about people with down syndrome, the localAhram Online news site reported.

 

The campaign banner appeared at a press conference attended by Amr Moussa, the chairman of the 50-member panel that drafted Egypt’s constitution.

There were also issues with the images of those believed to be Egyptian in the banner.

“The photo of an Egyptian soldier on the far right of the banner was taken during the first 18 days of the 2011 uprising byAhram Online reporter Rowan el-Shimi. It was used without her permission. The photo was posted on the writer’s blog in February, 2011,” reported Ahram Online.

“There’s a very funny contradiction with Egyptians,” Ahmed Emad, an Egyptian advertising professional and blogger, told Al Arabiya News.

“We generally pick up on the little details, make fun of them and have a huge wave of sarcasm that follows, yet at the same time, when creating something from scratch; we tend to be sloppy with absolute no attention to detail.

“This was no exception,” Emad added.

There were also issues with the images of those believed to be Egyptian in the banner.

“The photo of an Egyptian soldier on the far right of the banner was taken during the first 18 days of the 2011 uprising by Ahram Online reporter Rowan el-Shimi. It was used without her permission. The photo was posted on the writer’s blog in February, 2011,” reported Ahram Online.

There is also a spelling error in the word “Egyptians” written in Arabic above the people pictured.

“The word “Egyptians” in Arabic (Misreyeen) – placed above the photos on the huge banner – is misspelt. Instead, missing one letter, the banner uses the Arabic word for “determined” (Mosireen),” the news site reported.

A referendum on Egypt’s draft constitution will be held on Jan. 14-15, Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour announced on Saturday.

‘Sorry’ seems to be the easiest word?

“An apology [from the SIS] won’t change anything. This is a mistake which appeared at an event concerning one of the most important documents to the Egyptian people,” Dr. Ali Mahmoud, an Egyptian Professor of Media Studies currently based in Oman told Al Arabiya News.

“The SIS is trying to place blame on the NGO, but they’re the ones who should take responsibility, after all they gave the NGO the authority to write this banner.

“It brought back recent concerns in Egypt about grammatical errors in the draft constitution.”

Controversy arose last week when the interim president reportedly met with his consultants to discuss what he saw as “mistakes” in the draft charter awaiting to be put to a national vote, sources told an Egyptian daily newspaper.

According to the privately-owned Egyptian newspaper al-Masry al-Youm, Adly discussed with his presidential office consultants what he saw as errors in the wording of the draft.

Although it was not made clear what the “mistakes” were, the head of the constitutional panel Amr Moussa came out todefend the draft charter a few days later and the referendum date was set.

The new constitution will be the first step in the army’s political transition plan that should conclude with parliamentary and presidential elections next year.

(Source / 17.12.2013)

Israeli forces leave Bethlehem village following military drill

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces vacated the Bethlehem village of Arab al-Rashayida on Tuesday after conducting military drills in the area for several hours, locals said.

Fawaz al-Rashayida, head of the local village council, told Ma’an that 5,000 heavily armed Israeli soldiers arrived in the village at dawn on Tuesday.

Locals are used to Israeli forces performing drills on the outskirts of Arab al-Rashayida, but this is the first time they have raided homes and local institutions in the village, Fawaz al-Rashayida said.

The drills, which took place in between residential homes, caused damage to the village’s water grid, he added.

Israeli forces also issued demolition orders for six properties belonging to Ali Awda Mohammad Rashayid.

The population of Arab al-Rashayida is around 2,000 and the majority of residents live in cement houses, while others live in tents and dwellings made of steel and tin.

On Monday afternoon, Israeli forces deployed in a nature reserve east of Arab al-Rashayida known locally as al-Muteirda, displacing nearby families and declaring it a “closed military zone.”

During military drills, Israeli forces can enter Palestinian homes and involve Palestinian civilians in their operations without warning them that the raids are mere practice.

In November, Israeli human rights group Yesh Din said Israeli troops had been using a Muslim cemetery in Hebron as a location for military drills and practice.

Approximately 18 percent of the West Bank has been designated as a closed military zone for training, or “firing zone,” which is roughly the same amount of the West Bank under full Palestinian Authority control.

Over 5,000 Palestinians reside in the firing zones in 38 communities.

(Source / 17.12.2013)

The unraveling of the House of Saud

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia (file photo)

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia
Having attempted to exert pressure over the Middle East and to a certain extent the world, due to its vast reserves of oil and thus cash, the House of Saud could be fast returning to the desert it actually comes from.

Once a Bedouin tribe of eastern Hijaz, Al Saud owes its rise to power and wealth to its unlikely alliance with the Wahhabis, a group of self-confessed Islamic radicals, whose aims were to destroy moderate Islam and rule over the Islamic world though fear and blackmail. The main purpose of Wahhabism, which has been promoted and created by British agents to serve Western interests in the Middle East, has always been to defile Islam and ensure that both its houses – Shia and Sunni – remain at odds with each other.

Western powers understood long ago that should they ever wish to claims ownership and control over the world, the Middle East, which is home to unparalleled riches and untapped natural resources, and thus the Arabs and Islam would have to be subdued.

It is with this goal in mind that Mohammed ibn Abdul Wahhab, the founding-father of Wahhabism and well-known British agent, set out in the 18th century to hash out a lasting alliance with Al Saud tribe. Before Al Saud came to unleash destruction upon the Islamic world, two powers reigned all mighty in the region, the Ottomans and Persia. Respectively, the keepers of Sunni and Shia Islam, both old empires fell victim to their political and religious apathy, betrayed by the very powers they held in contempt – the West, blinded by a false sense of security. Little did they realize that nefarious forces were looking to bring down their empires to see another rise, one that would play into Western hands and throw the Islamic world off balance.

But as with everything, what comes up must at one point come down.

Following centuries of lies, deceit, plotting and bloodshed, the tyrants Al Saud now face their own unraveling by the hands of the very powers that helped them rise above their conditions.

For the first time since US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sealed Washington’s alliance with then-King Ibn Saud in February 14, 1945, on board the USS Quincy at the Great Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal, the US and Saudi Arabia stand on opposite sides of the spectrum, divided over their plans for the Middle East.

With Washington moving ever closer to the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saudi Arabia has been left to feel the odd one out. Interestingly, Washington’s moves toward Iran coincides with its lesser dependence on Saudi oil, a factor John Graham – a former American diplomat – says will play a major role in the power shift the Middle East is currently going through.

In a recent interview with RT, John Graham noted, “Saudis have always felt that the US is in their pocket, but by suspending aid to Syrian opposition, Washington said ‘No’ to the Saudis, and the simple reason is a lessening of dependence on their oil.”

And indeed the Washington-Riyadh alliance armor bears evident cracks.

Unnerved by the idea that the militants have been given access to weapons of mass destruction – chemical weapons – and vast reserves of cash to finance Saudi Arabia’s war against President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, potentially putting the entire region’s stability at risk, US President Barack Obama did the unthinkable; he stood up to Riyadh and said ‘NO.’ Two years into the Syrian war, Washington pulled the plug on its military support, having realized that Saudi Arabia’s Takfiri militias would only bleed and ravage the region to oblivion.

Does it mean that the US finally came to its senses and broke away from Israel’s shadow? Not likely; it only means that Washington’s patience with Saudi Arabia is wearing thinner, offering other powers in the region, mainly Iran, a window of opportunity.

But what does this shift actually mean for Al Saud? Well, for one thing, Saudi Arabia, which has relied for decades on America’s military might to assert its position in the region, parallel to its checkbook to commandeer regional allegiances, now finds itself in a rather uncomfortable position. Should Washington decides that Saudi Arabia has overstayed its strategic welcome, Riyadh would stand alone before a long list of enemies, without an army to protect its borders or its throne. Bearing in mind that most Saudis loathe the royals, eager to see a change in leadership, the House of Saud could soon face its reckoning.

As noted by Graham, “The royal family of Saudi Arabia needs American support. And if we really get independent, we’ll start treating them like Yemen and so they are angry and annoyed with us.”

Already, Saudi Arabia’s wavering has shown in the immediate region – the Peninsula – as countries have put their political alliances under review, questioning whether or not Riyadh will withstand the gathering storm.
In Yemen, new coming political forces have been keen to step away from under Saudi Arabia’s overbearing and oppressive shadow, namely the Houthis and the Southern Secessionist Movement.

Having witnessed first-hand the debilitating influence Riyadh has had on the impoverished nation, both factions have put everything on the line to reclaim their lost independence. After decades of what can only be defined as political and economic slavery, Yemenis want to carve their own future and reassert themselves as a main power player, without having to answer to AL Saud. And while so far only two factions have dared challenge Riyadh, Al Saud’s traction in Yemen has begun to erode.

Moreover, Al Saud will probably not recover from Washington-Tehran nuclear agreement and the two nations’ subsequent political rapprochement. For the first time in decades of unchallenged political hegemony, Saudi Arabia is losing ground to other regional powers, betrayed by its greed, arrogance and sheer contempt for the people.

As noted by George Santayana, “Tyrants are seldom free; the cares and the instruments of their tyranny enslave them.” In this case Al Saud appears to have sown the seed of its own destruction by having defined and built its empire on treachery.

(Source / 17.12.2013)

10 Homes To Be Demolished In Barta’a

[Tuesday, December 17, 2013] (WAFA) – The Israeli military authority has notified 10 residents of the village of Barta’a al-Sharqiyeh, south of Jenin, of its intention to demolish their homes, under the pretext that they were built without permission, according to a local official.

image: Wiki Commons

Head of the village council, Tawfiq Kabaha, told WAFA that Israeli forces, along with staff from the military government’s planning department, has served 10 residents notices for the demolition of their homes, some of which are still under construction.

Others are already inhabited.

(Source / 17.12.2013)

British foreign office launches new Arabic website

The website is divided into several sections, including a section dedicated to special reports released by the ministry in Arabic. (Screen shot of the British ministry’s Arabic wesbite)

The British foreign office launched an Arabic language website on Tuesday, aiming to promote communication with the Middle East and North Africa region.

The website, called “The British foreign ministry in Arabic,” will offer Arab-related content, Rosemary Davis, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spokesperson for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.

“The website is still brand new and we will later add more sections to it, in addition to developing its design. We will focus on the content, which will be written and edited in Arabic,” she added.

The website is divided into several sections, including a section dedicated to special reports released by the ministry in Arabic. There is also a section dedicated to special interviews and data released by the ministry.

Blogs, written by British diplomats and ambassadors to the region, will be published in Arabic on the website.

Davis said the importance of launching the new website lies in the significance of the Arabic language and its fast-growing popularity.

The website would cover such issues as Britain’s stance on regional developments, especially the Syrian crisis, and relations between Arab and Islamist states.

(Source / 17.12.2013)