‘US mercenaries’ hired to ‘torture’ Saudi royals

Well, I now you’ll tell me the UK’s Daily Mail is not everyone’s first choice for sourcing reliable news stories. On the other hand, I have to tell you, I’m pretty sceptical about the reliability of the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the UK’s very own Guardian and Daily Telegraph. So where does that leave us?

Saudi USAThis item is all over the web, although the source seems to be the same – some guy tweeted, twittered, or whatever whistle-blowers do these days, that Saudi princes and billionaire businessmen arrested in a power grab earlier this month are being strung up by their feet and beaten by American private security contractors.”

“According to sources quoted by Dailymail, ‘Blackwater’ has been named as the firm involved, and the claim of its presence in Saudi Arabia has also been made on Arabic social media, and by Lebanon’s president.

“Lebanese authorities have unconfirmed information that the Blackwater firm is guarding Hariri and his family – not official Saudi security forces,” tweeted Michel Aoun, the President of Lebanon, last Wednesday.

A high-profile Saudi whistleblower, one who is said to have inside information, also claimed Salman has brought in at least 150 ‘Blackwater’ guards. “The first group of Blackwater mercenaries arrived in Saudi Arabia a week after the toppling of bin Nayef [Salman’s predecessor as crown prince]”, he tweeted.

Saudi & hillary“One of the most important tasks of these aggregates are escorting and guarding bin Salman (especially confidential visits) and implementation of important and sensitive commands in addition to guarding the Princes and officials cut the ways their communication with the outside world.”

The source confirmed that the name ‘Blackwater’ is being circulated as the company providing the mercenaries; the controversial private security company, however, no longer exists under that name and is now known as Academi.

A spokesperson for Constellis, Academi’s parent company, denied the claims. The spokesperson told Dailymail that it has no presence in Saudi Arabia and does not carry out interrogations. “Constellis through Academi does not now or have we ever provided interrogative services,’ they said.

‘We do not provide security services in KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), we have no contact or connection with any government official or private party regarding this allegation.’

index-1-e1510746655829When asked if Academi workers were involved in any kind of violence during these interrogations, the spokesperson said: ‘No. Academi has no presence in KSA. We do not have interrogators, nor do we provide any interrogators, advisors or other similar services.’

They added: ‘Academi does not participate in interrogative services for any government or private customer. Academi has a zero tolerance policy for violence. We operate legally, morally, ethically and in compliance with local and US laws.’

A zero tolerance policy for violence! Blackwater! Words fail me!

So what do I take from all this? Saudi Arabia has some very serious internal ideological problems. The ruling elite have been stooges of Britain and the United States since their oil rich desert land achieved “independence” after the Ottoman Empire vanished at the end of the First World War.

Saudi Arabia contains within its borders the two holiest sites of the Muslim religion: Mecca and Medina. Their state religion is an extremist Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam. A good number of devout Saudi Muslims are seriously outraged by their governing royal family’s venal relationship with the United States of America and their grasping capitalist overlords. They are further outraged by the fact that the USA has military bases on their holy land.

5b86ed125e68cba0a17be861f531442f--political-cartoons-atheismThe September 11, 2001 attack on the United States, if it wasn’t actually perpetrated by the Bush administration for their own nefarious purposes, was, at the very least, carried out by Saudi Arabian nationals, the most notorious of which was Osama bin Laden, scion of one of Saudi Arabia’s wealthiest families.

After US President Trump visited Saudi Arabia in May this year, the Saudi government joined forces with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to implement a trade embargo on their Arab neighbour Qatar. We can be sure there were many voices within the Saudi kingdom raised against this action.

If I were a betting man I would say this is a power play within Saudi Arabia by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, supported by the United States and Israeli governments to get rid of dissenting voices and ensure that the kingdom continues to be a loyal ally and supplier of oil into the future. What do you think?

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Who us? Plot against another country’s government?

US calls Turkish gov’t accusations of plot in Zarrab case ‘ridiculous’

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Would we do something like that?

“The United States on Nov. 21 called the Turkish government’s accusations of a plot in the case of Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab “ridiculous,” referring to an earlier response by Washington on the alleged involvement with last year’s failed coup.

“We’ve heard that story, that old same song and dance from Turkey before, and I would have to give you the same answer as last time they accused us of trying to foment some sort of a coup. And I would say that is ridiculous. We are not engaged in that. Anything related to that particular case, I’d just have to refer you to the Department of Justice,” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said during a daily press briefing.

When asked whether the latest remarks by Ankara would lead Washington to review its stance on Turkey’s alliance within NATO, Nauert likened it to a “marriage,” stating that relations with some countries “can ebb and flow sometimes.”

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Former US ambassador in Ankara banished to Afghanistan. Better luck there, John!

“And so somebody may say something that later they regret saying. They are a NATO member. They are a valued ally of the United States. We have had a strong relationship with Turkey. But really, just making comments about the United States trying to foment a coup is just – is simply ridiculous. And I think they recognize – I think they recognize that as well,” Nauert said.

Thanks for the reassurance, Heather. So why did you guys send your former Ankara ambassador to Afghanistan for his next assignment? Reward for a job well done? Yeah, sure!

At the same press conference, Ms Nauert had this to say about what’s going on in Yemen:

A horrific situation that is going on in Yemen. It is something that our team has watched very closely. The ambassador to Yemen and I were exchanging emails just yesterday about the situation on the ground there. He is not in Yemen right now because we don’t have that operation there, but he recently visited to take a look himself.

احباط عملية انتحارية بصعدة واستشهاد 135 بتفجيرات صنعاء

US humanitarian assistance in Yemen

I can tell you we’re working very closely with the Government of Saudi Arabia – as you well know, we have a good relationship with the Government of Saudi Arabia – to try to encourage better humanitarian assistance.

We recognize the food and the aid and the supplies that are needed in Yemen. The Government of Saudi Arabia has assured us that all the ports under control of the Government of Yemen have been opened to humanitarian aid and access. We have concerns, certainly, that that’s not moving quickly enough. I mean, you saw the pictures on 60 Minutes – many of us did – about the dire situation, especially for young, young children, and how terrible that is.

So we’ll continue to have conversations, and those conversations, I can assure you, are happening between our government and the Government of Saudi Arabia to try to facilitate better and faster humanitarian assistance.”

Come again, Heather? The USA is supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia which they are using to bomb the living bejesus out of the people of Yemen – and we should believe that crap about “humanitarian assistance”. And we should also believe your government is not trying to depose Turkey’s democratically elected president?

What Craziness Is Going On in Saudi Arabia?

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Corruption? What are you talking about?

This piece by Eric Margolis: “a columnist, author and a veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East. Margolis recently was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq. His latest book is American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World.”

What’s going on in Saudi Arabia? Over 200 bigwigs detained and billions of ‘illegal profits’ of some $800 billion confiscated.

The kingdom is in an uproar. The Saudi regime of King Salman and his ambitious 32-year old son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, claim it was all part of an ‘anti-corruption’ drive that has Washington’s full backing.

Utter nonsense.  I’ve done business in Saudi Arabia since 1976 and can attest that the entire kingdom, with its thousands of pampered princes and princesses, is one vast swamp of corruption. In Saudi, the entire nation and its vast oil revenues are considered property of the extended Saudi royal family and its hangers-on. A giant piggy bank.

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What a trio!!

More mysteries arose this tumultuous week. One of Saudi’s most influential princes, Mansour bin Muqrin, died in a mysterious crash of his helicopter, an ‘accident’ that has the smell of sabotage. Another key prince, Miteb, was ousted. He was commander of the famed ‘White Guard,’ the Saudi Bedouin tribal army designed to protect the monarchy and a former contender for the throne. Meanwhile, three or four other Saudi princes were reportedly kidnapped from Europe and sent home, leading to rumors that Saudi’s new ally, Israel, was involved.

But behind all this lies the stalemated Saudi war against wretched Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest, most backwards nation. Saudi Arabia has been heavily bombing Yemen for over a year, using U.S.-supplied warplanes, munitions, including cluster bombs and white phosphorus, and U.S. Air Force management.  A Saudi blockade of Yemen, aided by the U.S., has caused mass starvation and epidemics such as cholera.

uk sells bombs to saudsWhen I first explored Yemen, in the mid 1970s, it was just creeping out of the 12th century AD.  Today, it’s been bombed back into the 6th Century.

In spite of spending over $200 million daily (not including payoffs to ‘coalition’ members like Egypt) the Saudis are stuck in a stalemated conflict against Yemen’s Shia Houthi people.  The US and Britain are cheerfully selling bombs and weapons to the Saudis. President Donald Trump has been lauding the destruction of Yemen because he mistakenly believes Iran is the mainstay of the anti-Saudi resistance.

Yemen is a horrible human rights disaster and scene of widespread war crimes.

Read more . . .

“The US and Israel closely embrace Saudi usurper”

What’s going in in Saudi Arabia? I wondered. So I googled it, and I want to share some of my findings:

What’s Really Going On in Saudi Arabia

Prince+Al+Waleed+bin+Talal+Princess+Ameerah+rIMDffdZoq3l

Saudi prince with modestly attired Muslim wife

“Trump Says Saudi Elites Caught In Anti-Corruption Probe Were ‘Milking’ Kingdom For Years.”

This is just nonsense from Trump.

Corruption is and has been everywhere in Saudi Arabia. How else could it be with all the countless billions changing hands in a fairly closed society?

So, it is easy for a guy like the new Crown Prince to glance around and conveniently find some corruption among people he wants to discredit anyway.

It may go beyond merely discrediting them to having hundreds of billions seized by the Crown Prince. Not a bad day’s work.

What is going on is a kind of coup against the old order by the new usurper Crown Prince. His recent appointment was by a King well known for his senility, and it suddenly and surprisingly upset the established order of succession and all kinds of extended family compacts.

usa__israel_and_saudi_arabia_by_lemerchant-d9h3xjbWe likely will never know what truly happened in this secretive kingdom. But we do know the abrupt changes created lots of enemies who needed attending to, and that seems to be what is happening.

And the enemies have no friends in Washington to whom they can appeal. The old order in Saudi Arabia suffered terribly in the wake of 9/11, and despite great efforts to pacify the US with new levels of cooperation, it is now being swept out.

Now, whatever is considered good for a hyper-aggressive United States is coincidentally good for its de facto colony in the Middle East.

Read more . . .

Saudi royals holidaying in Turkey

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So why do you need 30 bicycles?

According to our local newspaper, Saudi Arabian Prince El Velid bin Tallal is currently holidaying in Bodrum with his wife and daughters. He has been spotted cycling around the streets near his hotel of accompanied by several large bodyguards.

The royals are staying in a luxury hotel in the Göltürkbükü area much loved by local glitterati and the paparazzi who make a living photographing and writing about them. Prince El Velid is not the richest guy in the world, but with a wealth estimated at $32 billion, he’s definitely up there with the big guns. He and his family and carers arrived at Bodrum Milas Airport on the royal Boeing 747where their 300 suitcases and 30 bicycles took several hours to unload.

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The prince’s private jet and holiday luggage

It seems a bay near their hotel has been closed of for their exclusive use, where they can swim, sunbathe and anchor their 87-metre yacht Kingdom KR5. In case the hotel’s facilities are not up to expected standards, the yacht apparently has a swimming pool of its own.

Who knows – maybe we’ll bump into them at our next concert.

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The Kingdom KR5

More lies about Turkey!

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An evening out in Kadıköy

I had a meal and a drink in Kadıköy with a mate last Friday. Or was it a drink and a meal? Anyway. Kadıköy, once known as Chalcedon, has a long history of Christian settlement, and consequently a flourishing alcohol-fuelled entertainment economy. Despite loudly expressed fears that the AK Party government is dragging the country back to a medieval nightmare of Islamic fundamentalism, the labyrinthine streets of Kadıköy are packed most nights with revellers of all ages, knocking back beer, wine, rakı, or whatever beverage takes their fancy, unmolested by religious police. Even during the holy month of Ramadan.

Anyway. Gunther and I don’t see each other that often these days. We used to work together at one of Istanbul’s plethora of private universities (forty-one is the most recent figure I could find – FORTY-ONE!!). Our meetings inevitably descend into political argument, although I do try to steer towards other topics. My mate is an outspoken critic of Turkey’s AK Party government. Well, I can handle that. I’ve heard a thousand times all the arguments churned out ad nauseam proving that RTE* is the worst thing that’s happened to Turkey since Thanksgiving (sorry, that was a stupid joke – I could have said Winston Churchill).

hitler_bushIt also happens that Gunther, as you might guess, comes from German stock – and is intensely proud of the fact. To hear him tell it, Germany is indisputably the greatest country in the world, its economy driven by superior German brains and hard work, its industries second-to-none. Well, leaving aside the question of why he has chosen to make his home in Turkey rather than the Teutonic paradise of his birth, I found myself gagging over some of the outrageous claims he made to substantiate his thesis. Admittedly I have no formal background in the study of German history – which Gunther claims to have. Nevertheless I read, and take an interest, as one does. After our latest heated debate, I came home and checked the facts that I thought I knew, and which Gunther had vehemently contradicted:

  • Germany’s economy was in tatters after the First World War as a result of the huge punitive reparations demanded by the victorious allies, France and Britain.
  • The Weimar government was saved from imminent disaster by funding from the United States, enabling them to meet their obligations to those creditors.
  • When Wall Street crashed in 1929, the USA called in its foreign loans, throwing the German economy again into severe recession.
  • Adolf Hitler’s rise to power was funded by German and American bankers and industrialists to keep out the Communists who had become enormously popular with the working classes as a result of the Weimar government’s misguided austerity measures.
  • The Swiss-based Bank for International Settlements was founded in Basel in 1930, and, among other dodgy activities, laundered ill-gotten Nazi money during the Second World War.
  • In 1953 a conference in London agreed to cancel most of Germany’s debt and “reschedule” the rest. The United States, under the Marshall Plan, gave $1.3 billion in aid to assist in the rebuilding of Germany after the destruction of WW2.

Why am I telling you this? This is a blog about Turkey, isn’t it? The thing is, some people vociferously assert misinformation and even outright lies from behind a façade of superior authority (academic or otherwise), relying on the ignorance of their listeners or their own loud voices to carry their arguments.

I was reminded of this when reading an article about Turkey the other day. The piece, Why Turkey Chose Qatar, appeared on a website, The National Interest. For a start, the byline attributed it to two people with Turkish names, Aykan Erdemir and Merve Tahiroglu , which you might immediately think gave them credibility. Moreover, Mr Erdemir was a member of Turkey’s National Assembly from 2011-2015, is a respected academic, and is now on the staff of the US-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). End of argument, you might think. Clearly this guy must know what he’s talking about. And in case he needed to check his facts, he had a helpful research assistant, Ms Tahiroğlu, backed by the no doubt exhaustive resources of the FDD.

Nothing daunted, I read the article, made a few notes, did a little research of my own, and here’s what I found.

First up, Aykan Erdemir was a representative of the CHP (Republican People’s Party), sworn enemies of Mr Erdoğan’s AK Party government, and frustrated losers of so many elections everyone’s lost count. Why did he leave political life after four short years in parliament? Who knows? Maybe he thought he could achieve his purpose better with American backing from abroad.

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What have the Yemenis done to Saudi Arabia or the USA?

Anyway. What were these two authoritative Turks writing about? Of course you are aware that the freedom-loving, democratic governments of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have imposed an embargo on Qatar on the grounds that their wealthy oil-rich neighbour is supporting terrorism. The “terrorists” in question are the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Iran – and the concerted Arab action was announced immediately after their governments had been visited by US President, Donald Trump. The Big DT didn’t actually mention that he had suggested the embargo, but he was proud to announce he had sign a deal with the Saudi royals for the supply of $110 billion worth of US military equipment, most of which is being used to terrorise the impoverished, starving people of Yemen.

Now some might argue, and indeed do, that the Muslim Brotherhood has been doing its best to work peacefully through the democratic process to bring change in Middle East countries. They actually won Egypt’s first truly democratic election in 2012, before being ousted by a military coup a year later. Turkey’s Prime Minister at the time, Mr Erdoğan, made no secret of his objections – which no doubt upset powerful interests in the USA and Israel. Some might also argue that someone needs to represent the interests of Palestinians suffering under the expansionist aggression of the Zionist Israeli government – and Hamas tries to do this. They might go further and suggest that US hawkishness towards Iran is driven by oil needs and their support for Israel, right or wrong.

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Mohammed Morsi – first democratically elected president of Egypt

But Aykan and Merve are not among those people. The main thrust of their argument is that Mr Erdoğan and the government of Turkey are acting purely from venal financial motives, largely aimed at increasing the personal fortunes of the Erdoğan family. I’m not going to dignify the argument by repeating it here. You can read the article for yourself if you’re interested.

More pertinent, I believe, is the way the writers seek to portray the Saudi coalition as the “good guys” in the current stand-off, and Turkey, Iran and Qatar as “cast[ing] their lot with Islamists”. Mr Aydemir’s paymasters, whoever is funding the FDD Defenders of Democracy, seem to have decided that the slave-based economies of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and the oppressive military dictatorship of Egypt, are worthy of defending. The government of Israel is staying on the sideline, but if I were a betting man I’d put safe money on their being involved in the whole shady business.

Turkey is depicted as being in “a downward spiral of isolation due to its reckless foreign policy”, “estrang[ing itself] from the region’s Sunni camp, led by Saudi Arabia”. Well, Turkey’s people may be mostly Sunni Muslims, but their moderate brand of Islam bears no resemblance to the extremist Wahhabi hypocritical Shariah violence of the Sauds. Erdoğan is accused of nurturing some kind of “game plan” for Washington, trying to curry favour with President Trump after “ruining his relationship with Barack Obama”. Well he certainly seemed to hold his own in the macho hand-shaking competition, which you can still view on Youtube despite the fact that their administrators keep removing the clips.

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Well worth a look

Incidentally, I checked out “The National Interest” website. As you might expect, with a name like that, they unabashedly admit that their business “is not . . . about world affairs. It is about American interests . . . guided by the belief that nothing will enhance those interests as effectively as the approach to foreign affairs commonly known as realism—a school of thought traditionally associated with such thinkers and statesmen as Disraeli, Bismarck, and Henry Kissinger.” THINKERS! Not war-mongers, you’ll notice. And according to the FDD website, their “distinguished advisors include Sen. Joe Lieberman, former National Security Advisor Robert “Bud” McFarlane, former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh, former State Department Under Secretary Paula Dobriansky, Gen. P.X. Kelley (ret.), Francis “Bing” West, Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol, former CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Richard W. Carlson,  and Forbes CEO Steve Forbes.” Interesting company for our two Turkish academics to be keeping.

tellalieonceBut I’m saving the best till last. That article about Turkey and Qatar was chock full of links to other sites, suggesting that the material had been exhaustively researched, and was therefore beyond reproach. Just on a hunch, I decided to check one out at random. The final paragraph sums up the writer’s case and includes this statement: “For all these reasons, Turkey chose Qatar in the recent Gulf crisis. Indeed, it would have had little choice to discard such a lucrative partnership at a time of brewing economic crisis at home.” That link will take you an archived OECD report written in 2001, a year or so before the AK Party came to power, when Turkey had been plagued for decades with incompetent coalition governments, embedded hyper-inflation and regular military coups. The leaders it refers to are the Prime Minister and President at the time, Bülent Ecevit and Ahmet Necdet Sezer. OUT-RAGE-OUS! Check the other links if you have time. They are probably equally dishonest. Disinterested academics? Phooey!

I read a sad article in our local Hürriyet Daily News the other day, informing me that Over 8.5 million Turks received psychological treatment in 2016”. Statistics released by the health Ministry also showed that the use of antidepressants increased by 25.6 percent between 2011 and 2016” and “one out of every eight people . . . has applied to a hospital for mental and neurological disorders”. 

9aa63d24f038b03f13bdffdc7582c30dFor some reason, the newspaper chose to seek comment from Independent Member of Parliament, Aylin Nazlıaka, who expressed the opinion that “The solution is to remove the common perception and belief that the justice system is not objective and fair. The solution is getting rid of the pressure on people who have opposing views and thoughts. The solution is creating a Turkey whose people are hopeful about today and tomorrow, that produces [opportunity] and that has equality of opportunity. The solution is the normalization of Turkey by removing problems such as terror and unemployment.”

Well, Ms Nazlıaka could be right – and it may help if the CHP leader, Mr Kılıçdaroğlu finds the “justice” he is seeking on his current protest march from Ankara to Istanbul. On the other hand, some of those depressed citizens might try looking around to see the good things happening in their beautiful country instead of paying heed to the self-seeking and biased criticisms of foreign leaders and dishonest “academics”.

 

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  • Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Is Qatar the Gulf nation we should be worried about?

TRT World is a recently established English language news outlet presenting a Turkish perspective on local and global events. If you’re looking for a different take from the one you may be getting in your own local media, you may find their viewpoint interesting.

UAE & Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Armed Forces Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan as he sits down to a meeting with of Gulf Cooperation Council leaders

The UAE and Saudi Arabia claim to be opposed to Daesh, yet by supporting a regional order that has contempt for basic lberties, democracy and human life, it is providing daesh with the chaos and blood that is its most vital fuel.

When justifying its recent decision –  along with the UAE, Egypt, the Maldives, Bahrain, Yemen (or what’s left of it) and the Eastern Libyan government – to sever relations with Qatar, Saudi Arabia put out a statement claiming that the reason was that its former ally was “harbouring a multitude of terrorist and sectarian groups that aim to create instability in the region”.

The UAE followed suit, claiming that Qatar was guilty of “ongoing policies that rattle the security and sovereignty of the region as well as its manipulation and evasion of its commitments and treaties”.

This has long been coming.  While the Trump administration might paint this as Saudi and the UAE getting ‘tough on terror’, Qatar is being singled out for its support for revolution in the Arab world – its support for democratic forms of Islamism, namely the Muslim Brotherhood.

saudi criminalsThis is the reason Saudi and, even more strenuously, the UAE have rounded against Qatar. The groups in question are not ISIS (Daesh), but rather groups affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood – groups that have adhered to Islamic democracy.  The Brotherhood is the main target of this action by Saudi, the UAE and Egypt.

The Muslim Brotherhood

A few weeks ago the Abu Dhabi-owned daily newspaper The National published an editorial on the Muslim Brotherhood, the title of which declared that the Brotherhood and the Islamic State group (IS) ‘share the same swamp’.

The editorial tenuously justifies this absurd claim by listing instances where the Brotherhood, or its political wings and offshoots, have got into power through democracy.

deceit-disease-slavery UAEFor example, the editorial cites a completely illogical correlation between the election of 16 “Islamists” in the Jordanian parliamentary elections – by which it surely means the election of 15 members of the National Coalition for Reform (NCR) – and “[IS]-related incidents” in the country.

It seems to have escaped the authors of the editorial that the Brotherhood-affiliated Islamic Action Front is merely one component force of the NCR, which is a broad democratic coalition that includes secular Jordanian nationalists, ethnic minorities, Christians and women.  This is what the UAE considers to be ‘terrorism’.

And this perhaps subtly reveals the main problem the UAE and Saudi have with Brotherhood-affiliated groups and Qatar, which has refused to persecute them and has backed them. The two nations might seek to claim that the Brotherhood is a threat to democracy, but it is precisely its participation in democracy that makes the Brotherhood such a threat to the UAE.

Read the whole article