9/27/2015

The Saudi royal family is protecting VIPs while letting ordinary pilgrims die

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/the-saudi-royal-family-is-protecting-vips-while-letting-ordinary-pilgrims-die-a6669246.html#

Why don't they spend some of their oil wealth on making the Hajj safe, rather than wasting it on a cruel and futile war in Yemen?
Saudi Arabia began its bombing of Yemen at the end of March. The assault continues. Every UN agency has lit the red light of caution – Yemen is a humanitarian catastrophe. Firm numbers of dead and wounded are hard to come by. The UN estimates that over 2100 civilians have been killed. That every Yemeni is in danger of death is clear.
In the UN Human Rights Council, the Netherlands called for an official investigation of the bombing in Yemen. But Saudi Arabia, with US backing, has preempted the Dutch resolution. The Saudis want the UN to provide technical assistance to the Yemeni authorities that they back. This is a deft maneuver to block any investigation of Saudi atrocities in Yemen. The US has rearmed Saudi Arabia during the carnage. It is implicated in the civilian deaths. No wonder there will be no UN mission to Yemen.
While the negotiations in Geneva continued and while Yemen burned, two columns of Hajj pilgrims ran into each other in Mina, Saudi Arabia, on the first day of the Id al-Adha. The Saudi royal family, known as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, is responsible for the well-being of pilgrims who come on what has become the largest annual migration.
These columns ran into each other because the police blocked off key roads. These roads are intended to manage congestion. At least a thousand pilgrims died in the ensuing stampede.
Why were these roads blocked? Early indications suggest that the authorities had closed the roads to facilitate VIP pilgrims. So much of Mecca, like Saudi Arabia in general, is designed for the VIP and the VVIP. The Custodian favours the powerful. It is they who go ahead in the queue. Construction across Mecca, as Ziauddin Sardar shows in his powerful new book Mecca: The Sacred City, is geared toward the wealthy. An “eruption of architectural bling” has inflicted the “barren valley” of Mecca.
Corruption is rife, so is neglect. In 1990, almost 1500 people were killed in a stampede near the very spot of this tragedy. The deaths came in a punctual fashion – 1994, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006. A few weeks ago, a crane fell into the Masjid al-Haram, killing over a hundred people. Are these deaths a natural facet of massive pilgrimages or are they indications of systematic disdain for the lives of ordinary people?
The Saudis are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on their futile war on Yemen. There is no political endgame and no sign of any military breakthrough. The only thing that has occurred is the further impoverishment of the poorest country in the Arab world. The oil wealth is being squandered on ill-fated military and diplomatic adventures.
Far better perhaps to use that oil wealth on making the Hajj as safe as possible not for the VIPs alone, but for the millions who save money over decades to make this holiest journey to the place toward which they pray.
Vijay Prashad, editor of Letters to Palestine (Verso), is Chief Editor at LeftWord Books (Delhi). He teaches at Trinity College.

SAUDI ARABIAN ACTIVIST

Saudi: Pilgrims dead in Hajj

https://mobile.twitter.com/TarekFatah/status/647838109242159104


Tarek Fatah
Pictures emerge of officials bulldozing bodies of dead pilgrims like garbage & dumping them into a pile.

Iraq Agrees to Share Intelligence on ISIS With Russia, Syria and Iran. By MICHAEL R. GORDONSEPT. 27, 2015

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/28/world/middleeast/iraq-agrees-to-share-intelligence-on-isis-with-russia-syria-and-iran.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0


The Iraqi military announced Sunday that it had agreed to share intelligence about the Islamic State with Russia, the Syrian government and Iran, an agreement that caught the Obama administration off guard.
The Iraqi military said in a statement that the new agreement was necessary because thousands of volunteers who have joined the Islamic State have come from Russia. Asked if he welcomed the accord, Secretary of State John Kerry said it was important that the United States and Russia coordinate.
“I think the critical thing is that all of the efforts need to be coordinated,” Mr. Kerry said at the start of a meeting in New York with Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister. “This is not yet coordinated. I think we have concerns about how we’re going to go forward, but that’s precisely what we’re meeting on to talk about now.”
As Russia has engaged in a military buildup at an air base near Latakia in Syria, President Vladimir V. Putin has sought to assemble his own coalition against the Islamic State, one that includes the Syrian government and Iran.
The effort, which Mr. Putin is expected to underscore in his speech at the United Nations on Monday, appears designed to increase Russia’s influence over efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict. It not only puts Russia in a position to support President Bashar al-Assad militarily, but it could enable the Kremlin to influence the choice of a successor if Mr. Assad were eventually to leave power.
With about 3,500 American advisers, trainers and other military personnel in his country, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq has cast himself as a vital member of the United States-led coalition to combat the Islamic State, and has not joined the Russian-led coalition.
But Iraq has also quietly enabled the Russian military buildup in Syria and has cooperated with Iran, from which it receives military support. While Bulgaria closed its airspace to Russian transport planes headed to Syria at the request of the United States, Iraq has allowed the Russian flights to use its airspace. Virtually all of the Russian transport planes that have flown weapons and equipment to the air base near Latakia have crossed through Iraqi and Iranian airspace.
“We did not violate any of our commitments toward the international community,” Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Iraq’s foreign minister, said when he was asked about the Russian flights during a Friday appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Iraq is buying aircraft and other weapons from Russia. But American concerns that Mr. Putin might be trying to draw Iraq into the Russia-led coalition grew last week when a group of Russian military officers were observed in Baghdad.
Russia did not provide advance notice to the Obama administration of its decision to deploy attack planes, fighter aircraft, tanks and other military equipment near Latakia.
Asked about the purpose of the agreement announced by the Iraqi military Sunday, Mr. Lavrov said it was to “coordinate the efforts against ISIL,” using an acronym for the Islamic State.
Mr. Kerry, however, stressed that there was much to be done if the two sides were to effectively coordinate.
“Our presidents will be meeting tomorrow,” Mr. Kerry said. “This is the beginning of a genuine effort to see if there is a way to de-conflict, but also to find a way forward that will be effective in keeping a united, secular Syria that can be at peace and stable again without foreign troops present, and that’s our hope.”
A senior State Department official, who briefed reporters after Mr. Kerry’s meeting with Mr. Lavrov on the condition of anonymity, said that the two diplomats had not discussed the new Iraqi intelligence accord. “We’re just at the beginning of trying to understand what the Russians’ intentions are in Syria, in Iraq, and to try to see if there are mutually beneficial ways forward here,” said the official. “We’ve got a long way to go in that conversation.”

India: 500 stations wireless

9/25/2015

Saudi prince arrested at LA mansion for alleged sex crime

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34358380


A Saudi Arabian prince has been arrested in Los Angeles for allegedly forcing a worker at a Beverly Hills mansion to perform a sex act on him.
Los Angeles police said Majed Abdulaziz al-Saud, 28, was arrested on Wednesday and released the following day after posting a $300,000 (£197,000) bond .
He is scheduled to appear in court on October 19 to face a charge of "forced oral copulation".
Al-Saud does not have diplomatic immunity, police said.
The Los Angeles Times reported a neighbour had spotted a bloodied woman calling for help and trying to climb over a wall surrounding the $37m (£24.3m) estate.
The Saudi Arabian embassy is yet to comment on the case.

9/20/2015

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/20/world/middleeast/arab-coalition-bombs-yemens-capital-killing-dozens.html?ref=world&_r=0

Arab Coalition Bombs Yemen’s Capital, Killing Dozens


SANA, Yemen — A Saudi-led military coalition bombarded government buildings and residential neighborhoods in Sana, the Yemeni capital, overnight on Saturday, killing more than two dozen people, officials and witnesses said, and destroying homes in Sana’s Old City, a Unesco World Heritage site.
The Saudi coalition, which includes nine other Arab nations and is supported by the United States, began fighting Yemen’s Houthi rebels in March, two months after the Houthis drove the government from power and took control of Sana. Coalition warplanes have sharply
intensified their bombing of Sana in recent weeks, leading analysts to speculate that the airstrikes are intended to ease the way for a coalition ground incursion of the capital.
The airstrikes hit the headquarters of the Interior Ministry and a military honor guard, killing at least 17 security and military personnel, according to government officials and witnesses. But several of the targets appeared to have no military value, witnesses said.