Tag Archives: Mohammed Bin Salman

Espionage and repression in the Middle East courtesy of the West

Western companies are providing surveillance tools to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.

By Jon Hoffman.  Published 5-13-2020 by openDemocracy

Cellphone tower | Picture by Peter Bjorndal / pixabay.com. Public Domain

Regime-directed surveillance has taken new forms within the Middle East as governments have been forced to adapt to new technological and social environments. While government surveillance of its citizens is not new to the region, this old authoritarian impulse has been revamped in the attempt to subvert opposition and monitor dissidence amid widespread use of social media and access to smartphones within the region.

New forms of targeted hackings and espionage have therefore become commonplace throughout the region, and often extend across borders into the international arena. Western companies, governments, and individuals have provided extensive assistance to the surveillance efforts of these governments, often by supplying them with the necessary technology and expertise needed to conduct such sweeping operations. However, regional countries – particularly Israel – have increasingly constructed and exported their own indigenous operations and platforms designed to surveil their publics. Conducted on a mass scale and bolstered by western technological support, these new and sophisticated forms of surveillance have supplied these governments with the tools necessary to go on the offensive against all who seek to challenge the status quo. Continue reading

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‘Grand American Tradition of Immunizing Its War Criminals’ Continues as Trump Pardons US Soldiers

“A shameful use of presidential powers,” said the ACLU. “It sends a clear message of disrespect for the law, morality, the military justice system, and those in the military who abide by the laws of war.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-16-2019

President Donald J. Trump alongside First Lady Melania Trump and members of the U.S. military in this file image posted to a government website to commemorate Veterans Day. (Photo: WhiteHouse.gov)

Continuing what critics of U.S. imperialism have long said is a pattern of refusing accountability for violations of international law and a litany of war crimes over recent decades, President Donald Trump on Friday night issued full pardons for three U.S. soldiers either accused or convicted of serious criminal abuses related to their military service.

Outrage among peace activists and opponents of the U.S. war machine was immediate.

“Utterly shameful,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project. Continue reading

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Investigating the investigative reporters: Bad news from Down Under

Australian federal police entering the Australian Broadcast Company headquarters on June 5, 2019. A.B.C. screenshot from videotape

Michael J. Socolow, University of Maine

Sometimes the best journalism tells us the worst news.

The United States has a tradition of learning troubling news through extraordinary reporting efforts from combat zones. During the Vietnam War, award-winning journalism revealed the slaughter of Vietnamese civilians by American soldiers at My Lai. More recently, reports describing the torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq embarrassed the U.S. government.

Such investigative reporting ultimately helped American citizens hold accountable those charged with acting in their name. But that didn’t mean the news was welcome, or even appreciated, at the time. Continue reading

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Saudi Women’s Rights Activists Receive ‘Freedom to Write’ Award as They Stand Trial in Riyadh

“These gutsy women have challenged one of the world’s most notoriously misogynist governments.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-14-2019

Eman Al-Nafjan and Loujain Al-Hathloul—along with Nouf Abdulaziz, not shown for privacy and safety reasons—are recipients of the 2019 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award. (Photo: PEN America)

Three women’s rights activists on trial in Saudi Arabia this week because of their efforts to expand human rights in the infamously oppressive kingdom are this year’s recipients of an award “designed to honor a writer imprisoned for his or her work.”

PEN America, which works to defend free expression globally through the advancement of literature and human rights, announced Thursday that imprisoned writers Nouf Abdulaziz, Loujain Al-Hathloul, and Eman Al-Nafjan will be honored with the 2019 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award at the PEN America Literary Gala in May. Continue reading

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After Netflix Pulls Episode at Saudi Request, Comic Hasan Minhaj Urges Donations for Suffering Yemen

While Saudi Arabia attempts to ban content critical of its crown prince, “Let’s not forget that the world’s largest humanitarian crisis is happening in Yemen right now.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-2-2019

Comedian Hasan Minhaj responded Wednesday to Netflix’s decision to take an episode of his show “Patriot Act” off its platform in Saudi Arabia after the government complained it was critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Photo: @Complex/Twitter)

Taking advantage of the recent attention brought to his Netflix series “Patriot Act” by the Saudi government’s objection to an episode that criticized Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, comedian Hasan Minhaj called on supporters to contribute to aid efforts in Yemen while mocking the prince’s insistence that the episode be banned in Saudi Arabia.

On Tuesday, on Saudi orders, Netflix removed from its Saudi platform a “Patriot Act” episode released shortly after the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents—which the CIA concluded was ordered by bin Salman, often called MbS—because Minhaj discussed the need for the U.S. to cut ties with the Saudis in light of the murder. However, the episode remained on YouTube in the country and is still available on Netflix outside Saudi Arabia. Continue reading

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‘Entirely Preventable’ Deaths of 85,000 Yemeni Children Is Part of What Trump Has Embraced With ‘America First’ Allegiance to Saudis

“For children under the age of five this situation is proving a death sentence.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-21-2018

The London-based NGO Save the Children estimates some 85,000 children under the age of five have died in Yemen due to starvation over the past three years. (Photo: Fuad/UNICEF)

As President Donald Trump faces criticism for issuing a “dangerous” and “imbecilic” statement in which he vowed to stand by Saudi Arabia despite the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a London-based organization is estimating that some 85,000 children under age five have starved to death in Yemen since the U.S.-backed, Saudi- and UAE-led coalition launched military action there three years ago.

Drawn from United Nations data, Save the Children’s new figure is, as the Guardian put it, “a conservative estimate.”

“For every child killed by bombs and bullets, dozens are starving to death and it’s entirely preventable,” declared Tamer Kirolos, the group’s country director in Yemen. “Children who die in this way suffer immensely as their vital organ functions slow down and eventually stop. Their immune systems are so weak they are more prone to infections with some too frail to even cry.” Continue reading

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With Statement Equal Parts ‘Dangerous’ and ‘Imbecilic,’ Trump Smears Khashoggi and Vows to Back Murderous Saudis

“This Donald Trump statement—simultaneously pledging never-ending support for Saudi Arabia and blaming Iran for every Middle East problem—reads like a 6th grader’s school report.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-20-2018

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

In a bizarre, exclamation point-riddled statement on Tuesday that one critic said reads more “like a 6th grader’s school report” than an official White House press release, President Donald Trump shrugged at the CIA’s conclusion that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi—”maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”—and declared that the U.S. will continue to back Saudi Arabia because it is one of the world’s largest oil producers, a major purchaser of American arms, and an ally in the “fight against Iran.”

Speaking to reporters on the White House lawn just hours after his statement went public, Trump said Khashoggi’s murder “is a very complex situation, it’s a shame, but it is what it is.” Continue reading

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Could Killing of Washington Post Writer by Saudi ‘Murder Team’ Finally Put Crack in US Support of ‘Criminal Regime’?

“If this is true – that the Saudis lured a U.S. resident into their consulate and murdered him – it should represent a fundamental break in our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” declared Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) in response.

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-7-2018

Saudi Consulate officials claimed Khashoggi left the Consulate building shortly after his arrival, but his fiancee waiting outside states he never came out after going inside. While many initially believed he was being held by the Saudis inside against his will, Turkish officials have now said they believe the writer was tortured and then murdered by a Saudi hit team. Jamal Khashoggi a Saudi writer critical of the Kingdom and a contributor to the Washington Post was living in self -imposed exile in the U.S. Photo: Media Menagerie/Twitter

Spurring fresh outrage among those who criticize the cozy relationship between the U.S. government and the Saudi monarchy—with emphasis on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS)—political dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabia national living in self-imposed exile abroad, was tortured and killed last week by a Saudi  government ‘murder team,’ according to Turkish sources, while inside the Saudi consulate building in Istanbul, Turkey. Continue reading

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Saudis Move to Behead Female Activist as Facebook Censors Anti-Saudi Content

Although Saudi Arabia has killed or injured several thousand women in neighboring Yemen, beheading a female is completely unprecedented inside the Kingdom thus far.

By Randi Nord. Published 8-23-2018 by Geopolitics Alert

Saudi prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for a 29-year-old woman activist for crimes such as chanting slogans at a protest. Beheading a woman is unprecedented in the kingdom. Meanwhile, Facebook has sprung into action to protect Riyadh’s back by initiating a crackdown on hundreds of accounts posting anti-Saudi content.

  • Saudi prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for five activists with non-violent charges.
  • All of the activists belong to the kingdom’s historically oppressed Shia minority. One is a woman.
  • Facebook has coincidentally begun removing anti-Saudi accounts under the guise of fighting “Iranian interference.”
  • A private cybersecurity firm with ties to the US military tipped off Facebook to the accounts.

Continue reading

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With Mass Arrests, Saudi Crown Prince Moves to Consolidate Power

Meanwhile, the Trump administration praises the Saudi regime and the weapons keep flowing

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 11-5-2017

Donald Trump with Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Photo: White House (Public domain)

Billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talala, at least ten princes, and more than a dozen former ministers were among those arrested in Saudi Arabia on Saturday as part of a so-called “anti-corruption” initiative that critics argued is part of a thinly veiled “power grab” by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“At 32, the crown prince is already the dominant voice in Saudi military, foreign, economic, and social policies, stirring murmurs of discontent in the royal family that he has amassed too much personal power, and at a remarkably young age,” the New York Times notes. Continue reading

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