6/23/2017

SAUDI ARABIA. An uncertain phase

http://nena-news.it/saudi-arabia-an-uncertain-phase/


Saudi Arabia is now entering an uncertain phase. Its fate has now been left completely in the hands of a young man who is no more than 32-years-old, and who takes his decisions without consulting with experienced and knowledgeable advisors, writes Abdelbari Atwan

by Abdelbari Atwan – www.raialyoum.com
Prince Mohammad bin Nayef will enter Saudi Arabia’s history as the second crown-prince to be toppled. He has been stripped of all of his posts within two years, which means that his ‘opponent’ and deputy Prince Mohammad bin Salman has decided the struggle in his favor, and is now months if not days, away from acceding to the throne.
Three parties are decisive in accepting Prince bin Salman’s acceding to the throne by bypassing his cousin Prince Mohammad bin Nayef on the succession ladder: The first is the U.S. administration; the second is the ruling royal family establishment, and the third is the religious establishment as represented by the Council of Senior Scholars headed by the Al Sheikh family. The new crown-prince has guaranteed all three parties’ support.
Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s visit to Washington as soon as U.S. President Donald Trump became president prepared the ground for the royal decrees that were issued early Wednesday morning. The visit endorsed him as crown-prince, but the formal endorsement came during President Trump’s visit to Riyadh to attend the three [Saudi/Arab/Islamic] summits after the price for his succession had been settled at over half-a-trillion dollars in the form of arms deals and investments in the U.S.’s infrastructure.
The Saudi people naturally have no say in any changes in senior or junior state posts. At the same time, they are expected to obey those in charge and head to the royal palace to pledge their allegiance to the new crown-prince. The Council of Senior Scholarship and the royal family’s (male) members will do exactly the same.
Over the past two years, and especially since his father acceded to the throne, Prince Mohammad bin Salman has been rearranging the state’s institutions and their management so as to fit his size. With this in mind, he has issued a number of edicts signed by his father, placing young emirs who are loyal to him in senior state posts as the main governorates’ senior or deputy-emirs. He chose his brother, Khaled bin Salman, who is still in his twenties, as ambassador to Washington. He appointed Lieutenant-General Ahmad al-‘Assiri – who was promoted to Field Marshal– as Deputy Head of Saudi General Intelligence; and Prince ‘Abdelaziz bin Saud bin Nayef as Interior Minister. He also established a National Security Center that he linked to the Royal Diwan. All these steps were intended to consolidate all security, military and economic powers in his hands.
When Operation Decisive Storm’s warplanes took off to wage the aggression on Yemen, a senior member of the ruling family phoned me to emphasize his opposition to this move because his father, King ‘Abdelaziz, had warned against getting involved in this ‘mountainous’ land that defeated the Ottoman Empire, and become a graveyard for its soldiers.
I mention this to indicate that there is a degree of ‘disaffection’ in certain royal family circles regarding the leadership arrangements. The reports that three out of the Allegiance Council’s 34 have opposed the decision to depose bin Nayef and the appointment of bin Salman in his place may be offer one indication in this regard. But we are sure that the Allegiance Council –that was created by the late king ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdelaziz– did not play the role prescribed in the laws that established it. In fact, the very man who established it was the first to violate these laws; moreover, it has failed to hold any meetings for the last three years at least.
We do not know the identity of the three emirs who are said to have refused to pledge allegiance to Crown-Prince bin Salman. But we can speculate that the first was Prince Talal bin ‘Abdelaziz, the second Prince Ahmad bin ‘Abdelaziz, and the third may have been Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin ‘Abdelaziz.
Prince bin Nayef’s readiness to go to Prince bin Salman to pledge his allegiance was noteworthy. It was very similar to what previous deposed crown-prince Muqrin bin ‘Abdelaziz did. And we do not believe that he took this step willingly. His only alternative was to be stripped of all his powers, and he might have been put under house arrest had he not done so. He therefore preferred safety, although he is known to be an ‘iron-man’ in confronting terrorism.
Prince bin Salman’s conspicuous kissing of his cousin bin Nayef’s hand, and his attempt to kneel to kiss his feet before the TV cameras – a scene that was broadcast tens of times on TV – may reflect a sense of guilt, or a well-produced ‘courtesy’ paid to a prince whose has offered his country major services, especially in preserving its security, only to find himself sent home unemployed and stripped of his powers. In fact, the pledge of allegiance may be his last TV appearance.
Saudi Arabia is now entering an uncertain phase. Its fate has now been left completely in the hands of a young man who is no more than 32-years-old, and who takes his decisions without consulting with experienced and knowledgeable advisors. Had that not been the case, he would not have implicated his country in the Yemen war that has been going on for two years without any decisive victories; nor would he have escalated the disagreement with Qatar to the brink of military confrontation.
The amendments that King Salman bin ‘Abdelaziz has introduced to the country’s basic laws banning his son from appointing his own son as crown-prince, and requiring him to choose a prince from the royal family’s other branches (but only from ‘Abdulaziz’s grandsons) are of little real value. King Salman was the first to violate these laws by appointing his own son as crown-prince. Nor did he respect the decisions and edicts of his predecessor King ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdelaziz, when he toppled then crown-prince Muqrin during the first month after he became king. Prince bin Salman can also abrogate these amendments as soon as he accedes to the throne, following exactly the same path as his father.
It is hard to offer any accurate reading of these unsurprising Saudi decisions’ regional implications, but a Saudi/Emirati escalation in the crisis with Qatar can be expected. For one reason for deposing Prince bin Nayef has to do his close relations with Qatar. Moreover, we predict that Prince bin Salman’s threats to carry the battle deep into Iran will soon be put into effect by ‘revolutionizing’ the ethnic and sectarian minorities in coordination with the Trump administration.Moreover, Saudi Arabia will now throw all its military weight into the war in Yemen in the hope of achieving speedy victories on the heated fighting fronts such as Hodeida, Ta’iz, Su’da, Ma’rib and Sana’a, of course; and the list is long.
Abu-Dhabi’s Crown-Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed, who is Prince bin Salman’s ‘spiritual father,’ will be happiest at his ally and friend’s appointment as Saudi crown-prince. Nor do we exclude the possibility that he may make a similar move and become UAE president, since [current ruler] Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed is not exercising his powers because of his illness, leaving that mission to Mohammad.
Our Gulf brothers used to accuse the other Arabs of rash behavior, recklessness, wars and coup d’états. They used to boast about their self-control, accurate calculations, the wisdom of their leaders’ decisions, and their ability to steer clear of disturbances and troubles. Now its seems that everyone is in the same boat.
As the Arab proverb says, ‘all cows are alike.

The Guardian view on al-Jazeera: muzzling journalism

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/23/the-guardian-view-on-al-jazeera-muzzling-journalism


In the conservative autocracies of the middle east, Qatar, a wealthy gas-rich emirate, has built up a reputation as a maverick, epitomised by its ownership of the al-Jazeera satellite television channel, which has often infuriated many Arab leaders. Since the TV station gave voice to the Arab spring, many autocrats no doubt wished it would be taken off air, permanently. Al-Jazeera, which arrived long before the internet in the region, broke the mould by reaching directly into Arab living rooms. Along with social media, al-Jazeera has in recent years stirred public opinion in ways Arab governments could not ignore. But now Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates think they can silence it with a blockade of Qatar that will only be lifted if al-Jazeera is shut down.
This is ridiculous. Qatar’s neighbours want to gag media that raises questions about the way these nations are run. Al-Jazeera is not perfect. Its Arabic outlet has been accused in the past of beingantisemitic and partisan. It rarely criticises Qatar’s absolute monarchy. However, Qatar abolished formal censorship two decades ago. By comparison, in 2012 the UAE demanded David Cameron rein in adverse BBC coverage or it would halt lucrative arms deals. Abu Dhabi is a regional media player. The UAE’s deputy prime minister owns Sky News Arabia, along with Rupert Murdoch’s broadcaster. According toobservers this station put out fake news about Qatar’s ruler.
The internet has also provided Arab rulers new ways to control the flow of information. Many Gulf states, says Human Rights Watch, are now trying to silence critics after a wave of online activism. Tweeters praising Qatar in Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia face either jail or steep fines. The attack on al-Jazeera is part of an assault on free speech to subvert the impact of old and new media in the Arab world. It should be condemned and resisted.

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6/16/2017

Mass Bahrain Terror Trial Sees 26 Lose Their Citizenship


https://mobile.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/06/15/world/middleeast/ap-ml-bahrain.html

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A mass terrorism trial in Bahrain has led to 26 defendants losing their citizenship.
Activists and state-aligned media reported a judge handed down the verdict Thursday, saying 18 defendants received life sentences, while the other eight received 15-year sentences.
Those sentenced belonged to a group called Diraz Youth. The town of Diraz is home to a prominent Shiite cleric who has also been stripped of his citizenship and received a 1-year suspended prison sentence.
The trial comes amid a yearlong crackdown on dissent in Bahrain targeting political parties, activists and others.
Independent news gathering in Bahrain has grown more difficult, with the government refusing to accredit two Associated Press journalists and others .
Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet and an under-construction British naval base.

Video: Intervention for US Congressman McGovern Calling to Immediately Release Nabeel Rajab

U.N. Experts Warn Repression in Bahrain Will Breed Unrest

https://mobile.nytimes.com/reuters/2017/06/16/world/middleeast/16reuters-bahrain-security-un.html

GENEVA — A crackdown on human rights in Bahrain, including a resumption of executions and suppression of dissent, is likely to spark increased unrest, U.N. rights investigators said on Friday.
U.S.-allied Bahrain, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based, crushed mass protests by the Shi'ite Muslim majority in 2011 and the Sunni-led monarchy has kept a lid on unrest since then by closing Shi'ite-led opposition groups and prosecuting activists.
"Trying to quell protests and criticism by resorting to repression and violence is not only a violation of international human rights law, it also undoubtedly leads to an escalation of tension," five U.N. investigators said in a statement.
"We fear that this increasingly hostile environment is undermining any prospect of alleviation of social and political unrest in Bahrain."
The five investigators - Agnes Callamard, Annalisa Ciampi, Michel Forst, Ahmed Shaheed and José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez - are independent experts who report to the U.N. Human Rights Council on executions, freedom of assembly, human rights defenders, freedom of religion, and arbitrary detention.
They said Bahrain's human rights situation had deteriorated sharply in the past year, since the Ministry of Justice began legal moves to dissolve the main opposition party, the Al-Wefaq Islamic Society, and stripped the country's highest Shi'ite religious authority, Isa Qassim, of his citizenship.
"The authorities have resorted to drastic measures to curb dissenting opinions such as torture, arbitrary detention, unfounded convictions, the stripping of citizenship, the use of travel bans, intimidation, including death threats, and reprisals for cooperating with international organizations, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.”
The U.N. investigators also said security forces had also used excessive and lethal force against peaceful demonstrations, tragically failing in their duty to protect life.
People who stood up for human rights were being charged for offences that could result in the death penalty under "repressive legislation" such as the Law of Associations and anti-terrorism laws, they added.
Earlier this week a Bahraini human rights group said lawyers for a leading rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, walked out of court after their demand to postpone the trial was rejected by the judge.
Bahrain denies any systematic abuse by police or in its prisons and says it is facing violent revolt backed by the Gulf region's Shi'ite power, Iran, which denies the accusation.
(Reporting by Tom Miles; editing by Mark Heinrich)

6/08/2017

Rilasciata Loujain al-Hathloul, attivista saudita per i diritti delle donne

https://www.pressenza.com/it/2017/06/rilasciata-loujain-al-hathlout-attivista-saudita-diritti-delle-donne/

08.06.2017 Riccardo Noury

Loujain al-Hathloul, attivista dell’Arabia Saudita per i diritti delle donne, è stata rimessa in libertà tre giorni dopo l’arresto, avvenuto il 4 giugno all’aeroporto internazionale di Dammam. Da lì, al-Hathloul era stata costretta a imbarcarsi su un volo per la capitale Riad per interrogatori.
Al momento non sono noti i dettagli sul suo rilascio e non è chiaro se siano state o meno avviate indagini nei suoi confronti.
L’accanimento delle autorità saudite nei confronti di Loujain al-Hathloul è assurdo e ingiustificabile. Ancora una volta, pare sia stata presa di mira per il suo pacifico impegno in favore dei diritti delle donne in Arabia Saudita.
Il 30 novembre 2014 Loujain al-Hathloul aveva provato a entrare, alla guida di un’automobile, dalla frontiera degli Emirati Arabi Uniti. Per aver sfidato il divieto di guida per le donne, aveva trascorso 73 giorni in carcere.
Nel novembre 2015 si era candidata alle elezioni, nella prima occasione in cui la monarchia saudita aveva concesso alle donne l’elettorato attivo e passivo. Nonostante la sua candidatura fosse stata ufficialmente ammessa, il suo nome non era mai stato aggiunto alle liste.

6/07/2017

Al Jazeera – collateral victim of diplomatic offensive against Qatar


https://rsf.org/en/news/al-jazeera-collateral-victim-diplomatic-offensive-against-qatar

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the offensive by a group of Arab countries against Al Jazeera Media Network, which is suffering the consequences of their decision to cut diplomatic relations with Qatar.
Just hours after Saudi Arabia and three other Arabian Peninsula countries announced that they were severing diplomatic ties with Qatar on 5 June, Saudi Arabia closed the Al Jazeera bureau in Riyadh and withdrew its operating licence.

The state-owned Saudi Press Agency accused Al Jazeera of promoting the propaganda of terrorist groups, backing the Houthi rebel militias in Yemen and trying to create divisions within Saudi Arabia.

Following the Saudi lead on Qatar, the Jordanian government later also announced its intention to close the Al Jazeera bureau in Amman and to withdraw the Qatari-owned TV broadcaster’s licence to operate in Jordan.

Egypt, another member of the group of countries severing diplomatic ties with Qatar, already forced Al Jazeera to pull out in 2013 afterseizing its production equipment and transmitters. More recently, Gen. Sisi’s government blocked the Al Jazeera website at the same time as 20 other news websites accused of bias in favour of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. A similar measure was taken by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates, which blocked the Al Jazeera website on 23 May.

Closing Al Jazeera’s bureaux is a political decision that amounts to censoring this TV broadcaster,” said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “In Saudi Arabia, this violation of the freedom to inform compounds the country’s already very bad record on free speech and media freedom, We urge the Saudi authorities to rescind this decision and to let Al Jazeera resume operating.”

For the time being, RSF has no information about the current state ofAl Jazeera’s employees in Riyadh or whether they are affected by the order given to Qatari citizens to leave the country within 14 days.

When reached by RSF, Al Jazeera condemned the Saudi government decision and said in a statement: “This is not the first time that Saudi authorities have imposed such restrictions on Al Jazeera's operations(...) We firmly believe these are unjustified measures by the authorities in the Kingdom against the Network and its operations (...) We call upon the government to respect the freedom of press and allow journalists to continue do their job free of intimidation and threats.”

Al Jazeera also operates in Libya and Mauritania, two other members of the group of countries which – like Bahrain and United Arab Emirates – announced that they were breaking off relations with Qatar.

The diplomatic crisis with Qatar and the targeting of Al Jazeera are having repercussions throughout the region, including in Jerusalem.

Individuals led by Israeli far-right activist Baruch Marzel stormed into the building that houses the Al Jazeera bureau in East Jerusalem yesterday evening brandishing posters, accusing the broadcaster of being allied to Islamic State and demanding its closure. After their arrival outside the Al Jazeera bureau’s entrance, the Israeli police had to intervene twice to get them to leave.

Launched in 1996, Al Jazeera revolutionized the Arab world’s media landscape by making room for the broadest range of viewpoints, from the most moderate to the most radical. It distinguished itself above all during its coverage of the Arab Spring but enraged many of the region’s governments, which regard it as a Qatari foreign policy tool.

Saudi Arabia is ranked 168th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index. Egypt, Jordan and Qatar are ranked 161st, 138th and 123th respectively.


Hacking, bots and information wars in the Qatar spat

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/06/07/hacking-bots-and-information-wars-in-the-qatar-spat/?utm_term=.89c5691ec53d

 
U.S. investigators claim Russians might be behind some the hacking of the Qatar News Agency that prompted a diplomatic crisis in the Gulf, but that seems unlikely given current GCC tensions and the homegrown nature of the cyber battle leading up to the spat. While the recent diplomatic breakdown between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors exposes the political differences between the Gulf Cooperation Council member states, it also highlights the emergence of new types of cyber and information warfare. Instead of the Gulf states simply turning their methods ofsurveillance and propaganda inward to their citizens, they could now be using these methods against one another.

Spate of high-profile hacks

Initially, tensions flared after the state-run Qatar News Agency posted controversial statements May 23, allegedly made by the young Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani. The comments affirmed the good relations between Qatar and a number of other countries and organizations, including Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

Thani also allegedly noted the importance of Iran as a regional power — an apparent dig at attempts by Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and President Trump to isolate Iran during last month’s summit in Riyadh.
Qatari officials quickly denied that Thani made such comments and claimed their news agency — and its various social media accounts — had been hacked. Despite this, the Saudi and UAE press showed an almost unequivocal desire to dismiss the hacking story, instead accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism in the form of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran.
In what is unlikely to be a coincidence, an anonymous group of hackers describing themselves as “GlobalLeaks” thenreleased a trove of emails belonging to the Emirati ambassador to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba. The emails, which appear to be genuine, showed extensive communication between the UAE and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a pro-Israel, Washington-based think tank. Much of the discussion is between Otaiba, and John Hannah, FDD’s senior counselor and a former U.S. deputy national security adviser.
The correspondence suggests a certain determination from the UAE to prevent Iran from allowing its recent nuclear deal with the West to improve its position in the region.
Tellingly, a proposed agenda for a meeting between UAE officials and the FDD included a discussion on UAE/U.S. policies that could help influence Iran’s internal situation. This would include various political, economic, military and “cyber tools.” What these cyber tools mean is not elaborated on, although the conversation reveals the opaque roles certain organizations play in manipulating regional politics.
The mobilization of Twitter bot armies
The hacks came after Qatar said they were recently targeted by an orchestrated smear campaign, accusing them of supporting terrorist groups. Qatar’s claims seem credible. Just four days before Qatar’s hacking claims, an Arabic hashtag translated as Qatar is the treasury of terrorism was trending. On the hashtag, social media accounts — many of them bots — echoed similar themes of criticizing Qatar for its relationship with Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
After the alleged emails purporting that Thani made pro-Iranian comments were published, a resurgence of the bot armies appeared on Twitter, most of which criticized Qatarand the various entities highlighted in the communications between the FDD and Otaiba. My analysis shows the presence of propaganda bots on numerous hashtags. One of these Twitter trends was #AlJazeeraInsultsKingSalman, and my analysis shows 20 percent of the Twitter accounts were anti-Qatar-bots. Many of them were posting well-produced images condemning Qatar’s relations with Hamas, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Other images shared in the Twitter campaign singled out Qatar’s media channels as sources of misinformation. Almost all of the bot accounts tweeted support toward King Salman and Saudi’s new relationship with Trump. During the Riyadh summit, these same bots posted thousands of tweets welcoming Trump to Saudi Arabia.
Legitimizing misinformation
What these bot armies represent is not an organic outpouring of genuine public anger at Qatar or Thani, but rather an orchestrated and organized campaign designed to raise the prominence of a particular idea. In the case of these bots, the intent appears to be legitimizing the discourse that Qatar is a supporter of terrorism by creating the misleading impression of a popular groundswell of opinion.
The fact that these bot armies existed before Qatar’s claims that they were hacked — and were in place quickly following the alleged hacks — indicate that an institution or organization with substantial resources has a vested interest in popularizing their criticism of Qatar. The purpose of this cyber propaganda may also be to shape the online discourse in favor of pressuring Qatar to abandon any thought of rapprochement with certain organizations or countries.
New frontiers in Gulf cyberwarfare
Who is behind these hacks is unclear, but given that much of the bot propaganda appears to be the sewing of animosity between the Arab states and Iran, there is danger to regional stability if left unchecked. Twitter — once seen as an important resource for disseminating news across the GCC — may become a wasteland in terms of finding useful information from non-verified sources, undermining its usefulness as a tool for generating legitimate discussions.
All the Gulf states have stringent freedom of expression lawsthat carefully control the Internet and the media — and monitor the behavior of their own citizens. Yet what’s interesting about the recent public display is that it highlights the use of cyber tools as forms of intra-GCC diplomatic warfare, tactics previously directed at countries like Iran, and not usually neighboring Gulf states.
With Trump’s recent visit to Riyadh designed in part to shore up Gulf support for fighting Islamist terrorism, Qatar’s perceived conciliatory approach to groups deemed by the Saudis to be terrorists is seen as weakening the alliance. Emboldened by Trump’s hostility to Iran, it is likely that the UAE and Saudi Arabia felt confident in using the summit as a foundation for tackling their issues with Qatar’s policies. However, as Qatar leaders have attempted to position themselves as mediators in disputes involving regional pariahs such as Iran and Hamas, forcing Qatar to toe an uncompromising line may be detrimental in terms of using diplomacy to improve overall regional stability.
Marc Owen Jones is a Gulf research fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, and a researcher at Bahrain Watch.




Gunmen attack Iran's parliament, Khomeini shrine

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/attacks-reported-iran-parliament-mausoleum-170607063232218.html

Several killed in attacks on parliament and Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran, as ISIL claims responsibility.


Gunmen and suicide bombers have attacked Iran's parliament in central Tehran and the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini in south of the city, killing several people.
Four armed assailants attacked parliament office buildings on Wednesday morning, while the shrine of revolutionary founder Ruhollah Khomeini was struck by a female suicide bomber, state media reported.
One of the attackers on Iran's parliament complex blew himself up on the fourth floor amid an ongoing siege, state broadcaster IRIB reporte
Lawmaker Elias Hazrati told state television that three attackers, one with a pistol and two with AK-47 assault rifles, raided office buildings at the parliament complex.  

ISIL claim

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group claimed responsibility for the attacks via its online forum. 
"Fighters from the Islamic State (ISIL) attacked the Khomeini mausoleum and the parliament building in Tehran," the Amaq agency said, citing a "security source".
ISIL later posted a video which showed what it claims is footage from inside the parliament building where a wounded man is seen on the floor bleeding.
It marks the first major attack of the group inside Iran.
The attack on the shrine of Khomeini is symbolically stunning. As Iran's first Supreme Leader, Khomeini is a towering figure in the country and was its revolutionary leader in the 1979 ouster of the shah.

Iran: attacks in Iran's Parlament

BREAKING: Attacks reported inside Iran's parliament and Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini, several people wounded

6/05/2017

Qatar diplomatic crisis – what you need to know


https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/05/qatar-diplomatic-crisis-what-you-need-to-know?CMP=share_btn_tw

Several Arab countries are breaking ties with Qatar. We look at the reasons why, and what the consequences may be



Bahrain, verso la soppressione totale delle opposizioni

http://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2017/06/05/bahrain-verso-la-soppressione-totale-delle-opposizioni/3627385/


Il 31 maggio, su richiesta del ministro della Giustizia del Bahrain, un tribunale ha dichiarato lo scioglimento della Società nazionale per l’azione democratica (Wa’ad), un partito di opposizione diispirazione socialista, e ne ha disposto la liquidazione del patrimonio finanziario.
La campagna orchestrata dalla famiglia reale per sopprimere ogni voce critica, singola od organizzata, va avanti sempre più decisa anche grazie all’incoraggiamento dato dal presidente UsaTrump nel corso del vertice a fine maggio in Arabia Saudita.
Il 14 febbraio, sesto anniversario della rivolta, un comunicato ufficiale del Wa’ad aveva denunciato la “crisi costituzionale e politica” in cui versava il piccolo regno del Golfo.
Il 6 marzo, il ministro della Giustizia aveva presentato un esposto contro il Wa’ad, ai sensi della Legge sulle associazioni politiche, sostenendo che con quel comunicato il partito aveva “invocato violenza, sostenuto il terrorismo e incitato a compiere reati e altre azioni illegali”.
Quel comunicato era evidentemente un pretesto. Alla famiglia reale, del Wa’ad non andavano giù altre cose.
Ad esempio, che il Wa’ad aveva espresso solidarietà nei confronti del principale partito di opposizione, Al Wefaq, sciolto senza motivi fondati nel luglio 2016 e il cui segretario generale, Ali Salman, è solo da pochi mesi uscito dal carcere.
Come gesto di sfida, nell’ottobre 2012 il Wa’ad aveva eletto nel suo Comitato centrale l’ex prigioniero di coscienza Ebrahim Sharif, nonostante questi avesse perso i suoi diritti civili e politici dopo un processo irregolare.
E poi, quando nel gennaio di quest’anno erano riprese dopo oltre sei anni le esecuzioni capitali, il Wa’ad aveva definito “martiri” i tre uomini messi a morte così come quelli uccisi dalle forze di sicurezza durante le manifestazioni.
Il Wa’ad ha sempre dichiarato la sua opposizione alla violenza, sottolineando l’intenzione di perseguire i suoi obiettivi politici mediante azioni pacifiche. Tra l’altro, aveva anche sottoscritto laDichiarazione sui principi della non violenza del 2012.