Gulf states sideline Arab League in Syria talks


The meeting of Arab foreign ministers scheduled to be held in the Saudi city of Jeddah over the Syrian crisis has been postponed indefinitely without explanation by the Arab League. This “emergency meeting” was to discuss the conflict and the replacement of the UN and international mediator Kofi Annan, who resigned last week after the failure of his peace efforts. The Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi was tipped to succeed him .

However, the foreign ministers of the six Gulf monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain) held last night in Jeddah a meeting about the Syrian crisis. Now, this session is expected to take place Tuesday during an Islamic summit in the kingdom following the initiative of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia who seeks to mobilize the Muslim world in favor of the uprising in Syria.

Syria, a member of the OIC, “will not be represented at this summit,” according to Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization Islamic Cooperation (OIC), adding that a preparatory meeting of Foreign Ministers would be held Monday and should “decide on a suspension of Syria, recommended by representatives of member countries. ” The organization of this summit, which promises very sharp clashes between Iran, unwavering supporter of Syria, and the GCC, including Saudi Arabia, comes as the UN could not take a firm stand on this issue after the differences arising among members of the Security Council.

It would seem that those parties who declined Iran’s invitation to last Thursday’s “Friends of Syria” summit in Tehran have been forced by that event to step up their own efforts.

Leaders of the Gulf Arab States pose for a photo before the opening session of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Riyadh May 10, 2011. (Ho New/Courtesy Reuters)

Four days after launching its ground offensive to cleanse the rebels from Aleppo, tanks and warplanes of the regime of Bashar al-Assad continue to pound several districts of this metropolis in the North of the country. According to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR), the neighborhoods Shaar, Tariq al-Bab, Hanano, Bustan al-Qasr and Salaheddin are the target of violent firing of artillery by the army.

Shots were also heard in Damascus while the nearby towns of Al-Tal and Harsata were bombed, according to the SOHR.

In Homs, soldiers assisted by militiamen “executed” ten young people in the Shams neighborhood, according to the Syrian National Council, the main opposition coalition. The victims were selected from a crowd of 350 people gathered in one place, said SNC.

Clashes took place elsewhere in the province of Deraa (south), birthplace of the insurgency launched in March 2011 against the Assad regime.

In Beirut, a judicial source said that the Syrian security chief, General Ali Mamluk, is suspected of plotting attacks in Lebanon. Last week, the former Lebanese minister Michel Samaha was arrested . Samaha is a pro-Syrian figure.

Some content via Al Bawaba


Qatar’s Stake In Britain


Qatari investment companies own the Shard. They own the Olympic Village. And they don’t care if their Lamborghinis get clamped when they shop at Harrods.

The only time the Qataris have excited the curiosity of the British was when two of their royal family's matching turquoise supercars were clamped outside Harrods, which they own

The only time the Qataris have excited the curiosity of the British was when two of their royal family's matching turquoise supercars were clamped outside Harrods, which they own

The tiny Gulf state has snapped up a range of famous British assets, which include:

1. Harrods, the upmarket department store formerly owned by Mohamed al-Fayed.

2. The Shard, soon-to-be Europe’s tallest building.

3. No. 1 Hyde Park, the world’s most expensive apartment block.

4. The London Stock Exchange, in which they own a 20 per cent stake.

5. The famous bohemian flea market in Camden, in which they own a 20 per cent stake.

6. The 2012 Olympic Village, once the games are over.

7. Sainsbury’s home stores and supermarket food chain and Barclay’s Bank – major investors.

8. Liquefied Natural Gas: Britain’s biggest supplier, providing 95.5%, used to generate almost 25% of the UK’s electrical power.

Mail Online.

UPDATED More Injustice and Intrigue in #Mauritania


24 Jan 2012: The shooting scandal is getting more bizarre, with the victim having been flown to Morocco for treatment, reports now say that doctors there have not found any bullet, but that she is paralysed from the waist down. I still do not find this story credible because it seems to be entirely based on hearsay and gossip. What I do see happening that makes me concerned is that the activists we might expect to see promoting tomorrow’s human chain protest are instead caught in this web of intrigue, by allowing it to distract them.
23 Jan 2012: The son of Mauritania’s president Mohammed al Aziz, Badr al Aziz, has been accused of shooting a young woman on Sunday, 22 January 2012 during an argument over her affections. A wave of outrage follows revelations that he was eventually arrested after taking a leisurely late breakfast at a popular Nouakchott café, but almost immediately released . Without wishing ill towards the victim, there are complaints of the injustice of her being given preferential treatment from the presidential administration. While other patients struggle to pay for costly treatment, she is apparently being airlifted out of the country.

This news broke at the same time as the co-ordinated opposition group COD, currently on a country-wide tour, announced their intention to release evidence exposing the level of corruption in Mauritania attributable to Aziz and his administration.

21 Jan 2012: The jailed ISERI students have been released. The fate of the college remains at stake. The anti-slavery activists are still in jail.

16 Jan 2012: The four students arrested last week after police stormed the ISERI Islamic College remain in jail in Nouakchott.

Detained ISERI students

Detained ISERI students

These unarmed, peaceful students were locked up while General Aziz was rubbing shoulders with Moncef Marzouki and Sheikh Khalifa in Tunisia trying to pass himself off as a supporter of the Arab Spring. This despite the fact that he still supports Bashar al-Assad in Syria, enjoys close ties to  the regime in Iran, was one of the last Arab leaders to visit Ben Ali before his departure (if not the last), and would probably still be supporting Gaddafi in Libya if he was alive. Despite Aziz being the chairman of the African Union special committee on Libya, Mauritania was the last member to recognize the National Transitional Council, and received delegations from both the NTC and Gadaffi’s regime during the uprising.

Elsewhere in the country, two four anti-slavery human rights activists were arrested. Two of them are pictured here: stripped and shackled and thrown in jail. These are the four detainees, a university professor, a lawyer, a journalist and a photographer:

The four detained anti-slavery activists

Rumoured spat between #Mauritnia &amp #Qatar enters phase…


Rumoured spat between #Mauritnia & #Qatar enters phase 2. Of boring us to death. Now we’re supposed to believe that the Development Centre project created to help women in rural communities has been “ordered to close” and – this is the biggest stretch – that this has been done “in response to the outrage felt by citizens” over the last rumour. Absolute piffle. For one thing, there is less than zero evidence of the Mauritanian authorities ever listening to civil society. Anyway, here’s the link in Arabic if you want to sacrifice a few braincells, be my guest: You might also want to check the photo I posted earlier to day of Aziz in a cosy threesome of handclasping at Tunisia’s one year anniversary of the departure of Ben Ali with the Emir of Qatar and Moncef Marzouki. And by the way, Marzouki should be ashamed of himself. Thank goodness Radhia Nasraoui had the good grace to condemn Aziz’ presence as scandalous.
Again, I have to ask: who benefits from painting this elaborate picture of Aziz and the Emir having fallen out, and needs to always couch it in terms that suggest a détente between the two countries?