Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

United States and Iran Help China Push Global Executions to 10-Year High

Lawmakers in southern U.S. states accused of demonstrating “a chilling commitment” to state-sponsored murder alongside “a callous intent to invest resources in the taking of human life.”

By Jon Queally. Published 5-29-2024 by Common Dreams

Photo: AFSC/CC

The number of executions worldwide hit a nearly 10-year high in 2023 thanks to a surge in state killings by Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, and the United States.

A new global report published by Amnesty International documents that the death penalty was imposed on 1,153 people last year, though the total is believed to be significantly higher due to the secrecy surrounding China’s penal system. The international human rights group believes “thousands” of people were executed by the Chinese government, but the exact figure is not known.

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US Pariah Status Grows as Finland Resumes UNRWA Funding

“Collectively punishing millions of Palestinians over allegations concerning a few individuals is never acceptable,” said one campaigner. “Other E.U. member states must follow.”

BY Brett Wilkins. Published 3-22-2024 by Common Dreams

An UNRWA staffer holds a traumatized Palestinian baby in Gaza on March 13, 2023. (Photo: UNRWA/Facebook)

As the United States doubled down on banning funds for the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, Finland said Friday that it would resume contributions to the lifesaving organization in an implicit rebuke of unsubstantiated Israeli claims—reportedly extracted via torture—that staff members were involved in the October 7 attacks.

Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Ville Tavio announced during a press conference that the country’s €5 million ($5.4 million) annual contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) would be reinstated, with 10% of the funding reserved for “risk management.”

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Report Shows How Governments Reach Beyond Their Borders to Crush Dissent

Human Rights Watch examines how repressive governments use harassment, surveillance, and assassination to target dissidents.

By Jake Johnson. Published 2-22-2024 by Common Dreams

Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Photo: Kremlin/Wikimedia Commons

report published Thursday by Human Rights Watch details how governments around the world relentlessly target dissidents, journalists, and others beyond their borders, resorting to threats, harassment, and even abduction and assassination to silence those perceived as threats.

“Transnational repression looks different depending on the context,” notes the new report. “Recent cases include a Rwandan refugee who was killed in Uganda following threats from the Rwandan government; a Cambodian refugee in Thailand only to be extradited to Cambodia and summarily detained; and a Belarusian activist who was abducted while aboard a commercial airline flight. Transnational repression may mean that a person’s family members who remain at home become targets of collective punishment, such as the Tajik activist whose family in Tajikistan, including his 10-year-old daughter, was detained, interrogated, and threatened.”

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Air Pollution From Canadian Tar Sands Up to 6,300% Worse Than Industry Reports

“In quantifying the astonishing and largely unreported levels,” said a Greenpeace campaigner, “these scientists have validated what downwind Indigenous communities have been saying for decades.”

By Jessica Corbett. Published 1-26-2024 by Common Dreams

Tar sands extraction in northern Alberta. Photo: The Co-op Group/flickr/CC

Aircraft measurements of pollutants over the Athabasca tar sands in Alberta, Canada show levels exceeding industry reports by 1,900% to more than 6,300%, scientists revealed Thursday, underscoring the need for humanity to rapidly phase out fossil fuels.

While the Canadian government requires air quality monitoring around oil sands operations, industry figures focus on certain compounds. For this research, published Thursday in the journal Science, experts from Yale University and Environment and Climate Change Canada, a department of the Canadian government, accounted for a wider range of emissions.

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Netanyahu is unlikely to listen to the West’s growing unease

The Israeli leader is emboldened by a hard-right coalition and frustrated with calls for humanitarian pause in Gaza

By Paul Rogers. Published 10-30-2023 by openDemocracy

Photo: UN Human Rights/X

Within a week of the 7 October atrocities, numerous Israeli Defence Force (IDF) units had converged on southern Israel close to Gaza. A major ground offensive was expected to start within days but the actual deployments into Gaza have not so far been substantial.

Possible factors in the delays included US president Joe Biden’s unexpected visit to Israel, negotiations with Hamas on hostage releases, and an announcement from the Pentagon that additional US air defence systems will be sent to the region. These are not specifically for Israel’s use but are primarily to offer additional protection to US personnel in bases in Iraq, Syria, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. Drone and rocket attacks against some US bases have increased in the past two weeks, especially in Iraq, and many more are expected when the IDF starts a ground assault.

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Amazon ‘Failed to Protect’ Third-Party Workers in Saudi Arabia

Investigations from several newsrooms and Amnesty International report exploitative contracts and unsafe living conditions for foreign workers at the company’s warehouses.

By Olivia Rosane. Published 10-10-2023 by Common Dreams

Photo: amazon.sa

Amazon failed to protect contract workers in Saudi Arabia from human rights abuses that may have amounted to human trafficking.

That’s one of the findings from an Amnesty International exposé and combined reporting from NBC News, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists,Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism, and The Guardian, all published Tuesday. The investigations focused on men recruited from Nepal to work at Amazon warehouses in Saudi Arabia, where they found themselves faced with low pay, unhealthy living conditions, and no job security. When they complained directly to Amazon managers, nothing changed.

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‘Like Killing Fields’: Report Says Saudi Border Guards Killed Hundreds of Ethiopian Migrants

“If committed as part of a Saudi government policy to murder migrants, these killings, which appear to continue, would be a crime against humanity,” said Human Rights Watch.

By Brett Wilkins. Published 8-21-2023 by Common Dreams

Saudi soldiers occupy a position on Mt. Doud, near the Yemen border. Photo: VOA

Saudi border guards allegedly killed at least hundreds of Ethiopian migrants and asylum-seekers—including women and children—who tried to enter the kingdom from Yemen between March 2022 and June 2023, sometimes by blowing them to bits with mortars and rockets, Human Rights Watch revealed Monday.

In a report entitled ‘They Fired on Us Like Rain’: Saudi Arabian Mass Killings of Ethiopian Migrants at the Yemen-Saudi Border, HRW described how “Saudi border guards have used explosive weapons to kill many migrants and shot other migrants at close range, including many women and children, in a widespread and systematic pattern of attacks.”

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A resources grab is likely in post-conflict Sudan. But democracy isn’t

Competition for stakes in resource-rich Sudan will likely resume when fighting ends, with hopes for democracy forgotten

By Paul Rogers Published 4-28-2023 by openDemocracy

Yida refugee camp in South Sudanese territory, 20 km far from the border with Sudan.

For the past two weeks, international news in much of the European media has been dominated by efforts to extract nationals from the violence in Sudan. Coverage is likely to fade as the evacuation slows down and the media moves on to other conflicts. There may, in fact, be a far greater movement of Sudanese refugees desperate to get out of the country, but this will attract minimal international attention.

The focus on the evacuation has sidelined the much longer-term issues facing Sudan, and foreign states and sub-state actors will be watching developments with a keen interest, especially if the disorder persists until one of the two generals vying for control finally succeeds.

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20 years on, George W. Bush’s promise of democracy in Iraq and Middle East falls short

An Iraqi person walks down a road blocked by burning tires in Basra in August 2002.
Hussein Faleh/AFP via Getty Images

 

Brian Urlacher, University of North Dakota

President George W. Bush and his administration put forward a variety of reasons to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In the months before the U.S. invasion, Bush said the looming conflict was about eradicating terrorism and seizing weapons of mass destruction – but also because of a “freedom deficit” in the Middle East, a reference to the perceived lag in participatory government in the region.

Many of these arguments would emerge as poorly grounded, given later events. Continue reading

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US Increases Dominance as World’s Top Arms Exporter

“The impacts of the global arms trade aren’t just about the volume of weapons delivered,” said one expert, citing “a few examples of how U.S. arms deliveries can make the world a more dangerous place.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 3-13-2023 by Common Dreams

U.S. Air Force members load 155 mm M777 towed howitzers onto a C-17 Globemaster III on March Air Reserve Base in California on April 27, 2022. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Shawn White)

A Sweden-based research institute published a report Monday showing that the United States accounted for 40% of the world’s weapons exports in the years 2018-22, selling armaments to more than 100 countries while increasing its dominance of the global arms trade.

The report—entitled Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2022—was published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and listed the United States, Russia, France, China, and Germany as the world’s top five arms exporters from 2018-22. The five nations accounted for 76% of worldwide weapons exports during that period.

The five biggest arms importers over those five years were India, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Australia, and China.

The United States saw a 14% increase in arms exports over the previous five-year period analyzed by SIPRI. U.S. arms were delivered to 103 nations from 2018-22, with 41% going to the Middle East.

“Even as arms transfers have declined globally, those to Europe have risen sharply due to the tensions between Russia and most other European states,” Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher at the SIPRI Arms Transfers Program, said in a statement. “Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European states want to import more arms, faster. Strategic competition also continues elsewhere: Arms imports to East Asia have increased and those to the Middle East remain at a high level.”

According to the report, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine early last year “had only a limited impact on the total volume of arms transfers in 2018–22, but Ukraine did become a major importer of arms in 2022.”

Ukraine was the 14th-largest arms importer from 2018-22 and the third-biggest last year.

Wiliam Hartung, a senior research fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, wrote Monday that “the impacts of the global arms trade aren’t just about the volume of weapons delivered. The question is how those weapons are likely to be used, and the extent to which they promote stability versus fueling conflict or propping up repressive regimes with abysmal human rights records.”

“On this score the United States has much room for improvement,” he continued. “Transfers to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for use at the peak of their brutal war in Yemen, and sales to major human rights violators from the Philippines, Egypt, and Nigeria are a few examples of how U.S. arms deliveries can make the world a more dangerous place.”

“There are a number of promising steps that Congress can take—as articulated by a new coalition, the Arms Sales Accountability Project—that would mandate closer scrutiny of U.S. sales,” Hartung asserted.

“There is also some useful language in the Biden administration’s new arms transfer policy directive, that, if implemented, would significantly rein in the most egregious sales,” he added. “Only time will tell if U.S. policy can be moved towards one based on arms sales restraint rather than arms sales promotion.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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