Repressing your “own people” II

This Jerusalem Post article, “Analysis: Syria – Is it on the threshold of a civil war?”, illustrates just the point I was making in a previous post about the false difference between the state violence of Israel and that of its neighbours. So enticing is this thinking that it leads to whoppers of analytical inshite on the recent events in Syria such as this:

“Military theorists today are divided regarding the role of the main battle tank in the battlefield of the future. Assad over the past 48 hours has demonstrated that whatever the outcome of this debate, the role of the tank as an instrument of war against civilians remains highly relevant in the Middle East.” Continue reading Repressing your “own people” II

Arabs angry over Syria crackdown but governments silent

DUBAI (Reuters) – Arabs reacted strongly on Monday to the deaths of dozens of Syrians in Hama at the hands of the Syrian army but most Arab governments kept silent, apparently fearing the power of protest movements that have spread throughout the region this year.

“It’s no longer possible to understand the silence of Arab and Islamic states and organisations before the massacres against Syrians,” wrote Saudi columnist Hussein Shobokshi in the Saudi pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat. Continue reading Arabs angry over Syria crackdown but governments silent

Kuwaiti Islamists mobilise on Syria

Kuwaiti Islamists organised a meeting in past two days to lobby support for the Syria protest movement. It involved Kuwaiti Islamists associated with the Muslim Brotherhood as well as the Salafi trend, all Sunni. The background in Kuwait’s context is that Shi’ites are seen as pro-Assad.

They set up a body they are calling the Gulf League for Solidarity with the Syrian People. It seems there was not much presence of Islamists from the rest of the Gulf, but there was a Bahraini MP there, as well as Hamdi Osman of the Turkish Islamist relief organisation involved in putting up tents for Syrian refugees in Turkey.  

The statement they issued says the group will urge preachers during Ramadan to including in their sermons “prayer to support the Syrian people”, staging marches in favour of the protesters’ demands, and publicising “the crimes committed against the Syrian people and their link to the Safawi regime in Iran”.

One more sign of the Islamist interest in the Syrian unrest as well as the friction between Sunni and Shia in Kuwait. Here’s the text in Arabic: Continue reading Kuwaiti Islamists mobilise on Syria

SaudiLeaks: Khoja’s fear on Mughniyeh death

Wikileaks are still publishing US diplomatic cables, often under the radar, as it were, because media have moved on to the Arab uprisings after the initial impact of the Wikileaks material. I’d like to draw some more attention to those concerning Saudi Arabia. This is the latest one, released on 21 July (from 19 Febuary 2008; http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/02/08BEIRUT271.html). It has been published in Arabic in al-Akhbar of Lebanon. What I found interesting about it is 1. the general conviction among Lebanese politicians the US diplomats talk to and probably US official themselves that Syria carried out or facilitated the assassination of Hizbollah operative Emad Mughniyeh in 2008 in order to move closer to the Western governments (which I’d heard before was the view of some Arab diplomats in London) and 2. Saudi paranoia. Al-Khoja, now minister of information, worries that it was a Syrian job to ingratiate themselves with the Americans and that in return the Special Tribunal investigation Rafiq al-Hariri’s murder will be allowed to drift down the US list of priorities. Behind this, it would appear, though it’s not stated directly, is the perma Al Saud fear of Washington making a deal someday with Iran. Khoja also believes Assad in Syria will approve Michel Suleiman as Lebanon’s new president as a ruse to get Arab leaders to turn up at the Damascus Arab summit that year, before then having him assassinated. Then charge d’affaires Michele Sison tries to discredit somewhat Khoja by referring to his “dramatic claims”. Continue reading SaudiLeaks: Khoja’s fear on Mughniyeh death

Saudi Arabia: The realm of rigor mortis

It’s summer in Saudi and that means one thing: Saudi ‘foreign policy’, such as it is, is on hold. The Saudi foreign ministry amounts to the minister, Saud al-Faisal and … well, that’s about it. Except that the king appointed this week his son Abdelaziz as Saud al-Faisal’s deputy, which suggests that the portfolio will eventually pass out of the hands of the Faisal branch of The Family to Abdullah’s. Both are seen as representing the more liberal wing of Al Saud and there’s no leading prince to represent the Faisal’s any more, since all are merely grandsons of the kingdom’s founder Ibn Saud. Despite his best efforts to charm the Westerners, Saud’s brother Turki continues to be haunted by suspicions that he cut a Family deal with Bin Laden when he was intelligence chief in the 1990s. Continue reading Saudi Arabia: The realm of rigor mortis

Analysis – Saudi policy on Yemen and Syria seen floundering

By Andrew Hammond

DUBAI | Wed Jul 13, 2011 7:13am BST

(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has helped damp down democracy movements sweeping the Arab world but is waiting now to see how events play out in places like Syria and Yemen for fear of overplaying its hand.

After witnessing the sudden collapse of rulers in Egypt and Tunisia this year, the Al Saud family that monopolises power in Saudi Arabia orchestrated Gulf Arab moves to stop the unrest from spreading through the Gulf region. Continue reading Analysis – Saudi policy on Yemen and Syria seen floundering