Archive for November 6, 2017


Tunis, 25 October 2017:

A conference of Libyan monarchists due to take place in Gharyan next week is to call for the restoration of the Senussi monarchy as the only workable solution to the Libyan crisis and on Prince Mohamed El-Senussi, the son of the late Crown Prince Hassan Al-Rida, to return to the country to lead it .

As part of this, the National Conference for the Activation of the Constitution of Independence will also call for the restoration of the constitution as existed in 1969 before Qaddafi’s September coup and on the international community and specifically UNSMIL to take the monarchist option seriously. It will also call on Libyans to back it as well.

“We believe that the only solution [to Libya’s crisis] is to return to the constitution and the monarchy”, said Ashraf Boudaoura, chairman of the committee organizing the Gharyan conference on 31 October. Everything else, he told the Libya Herald, had failed or was destined to fail.

“It’s time to recognize reality and give the monarchy a chance.”

The constitution he and his colleagues want to return to is that of 1951, amended in 1963. “We have a constitution. We don’t need another,” he said.

There had been previous pro-Senussi meetings, Boudaoura explained, with groups in Beida, Tobruk, Tripoli and elsewhere. But this was the start of a national movement. Some 600 supporters were expected to attend from across the country, he added. These would include tribal as well as other community representatives.

Prince Mohamed and other members of the royal family had not been invited and so would not be in Gharyan next week, he added. Rather, the meeting would be a call on the prince to assume his responsibilities return to Libya and lead it forward.

Source: Libya Herald.

Link: https://www.libyaherald.com/2017/10/25/libyan-monarchists-to-call-on-prince-mohamed-to-return-to-libya/.

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2017-11-01

DUBAI – Kuwait’s emir reappointed his prime minister on Wednesday and asked him to form a cabinet, the official state news agency said on Wednesday, after the government stepped down earlier this week in an expected cabinet reshuffle.

The major oil producer has the oldest legislature among the Gulf Arab states and experiences frequent cabinet resignations amid tensions between the government and lawmakers.

Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak al-Sabah had tendered his resignation on Monday.

Pan-Arab television channel Al Arabiya had earlier reported the news.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=85708.

2017-11-05

RIYADH – Saudi Arabia has arrested dozens of senior figures including princes, ministers and a top business tycoon, in what authorities hailed Sunday as a “decisive” anti-corruption sweep as the kingdom’s crown prince consolidates power.

Prominent billionaire Al-Waleed bin Talal was among the 11 princes arrested late Saturday, reports said, immediately after a new anti-corruption commission headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was established by royal decree.

Separately, the head of the Saudi National Guard, once a leading contender to the throne, as well as the navy chief and the economy minister were replaced in a series of high-profile sackings that sent shock waves through the kingdom.

The dramatic purge comes at a time of unprecedented social and economic transformation in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, as Prince Mohammed steps up his reform drive for a post-oil era.

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television reported that the princes, four current ministers and dozens of ex-ministers were arrested as the commission launched a probe into old cases such as floods that devastated the Red Sea city of Jeddah in 2009.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said the commission’s goal was to “preserve public money, punish corrupt people and those who exploit their positions”.

Shares in Kingdom Holding, 95 percent of which is owned by Prince Al-Waleed, dived 9.9 percent as the Saudi stock exchange opened Sunday after reports of his arrest.

The prince’s office was not reachable for comment.

“With this (crackdown), the kingdom heralds a new era and policy of transparency, clarity and accountability,” Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan was quoted as saying by SPA.

“The decisive decisions will preserve the investment environment and boost trust in the rule of law.”

The kingdom’s top council of clerics also lauded the anti-corruption efforts as “important”, essentially giving religious backing to the crackdown.

An aviation source said that security forces had grounded private jets at airports, possibly to prevent high-profile figures from leaving the country.

– ‘Shock waves’ –

“The breadth and scale of the arrests appears to be unprecedented in modern Saudi history,” said Kristian Ulrichsen, a fellow at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.

“The reported detention of Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, if true, would send shock waves through the domestic and international business community,” Ulrichsen said.

The purge comes less than two weeks after Prince Mohammed welcomed thousands of global business leaders to Riyadh for an investment summit, showcasing his reform drive that has shaken up the kingdom.

It follows a wave of arrests of influential clerics and activists in September as the 32-year-old prince, often known as MBS, cements his grip on power.

Analysts said many of those detained were resistant to Prince Mohammed’s aggressive foreign policy that includes the boycott of Gulf neighbor Qatar as well as some of his bold policy reforms, including privatizing state assets and cutting subsidies.

The latest purge saw Prince Miteb bin Abdullah sacked as the head of the National Guard, an elite internal security force. His removal consolidates the crown prince’s control of the kingdom’s security institutions.

To analysts, Prince Mohammed’s meteoric rise has seemed almost Shakespearean in its aggression and calculation. In June, he edged out a 58-year-old cousin, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, to become heir to the throne.

At the time, Saudi television channels showed the bearded Prince Mohammed kissing the hand of the older prince and kneeling before him in a show of reverence. Western media reports later said that the deposed prince had been placed under house arrest, a claim strongly denied by Saudi authorities.

Already viewed as the de facto ruler controlling all the major levers of government, from defense to the economy, the prince is widely seen to be stamping out traces of internal dissent before a formal transfer of power from his 81-year-old father King Salman.

At the same time, he has projected himself as a liberal reformer in the ultra-conservative kingdom with a series of bold moves including the decision allowing women to drive from next June.

Foreign diplomats predict that Prince Mohammed, set to be the first millennial to occupy the Saudi throne, could well be in control of Saudi Arabia for at least half a century.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=85769.

2017-11-01

KHOBAR – Saudi Arabia has set up a new authority for cyber security and named its minister of state Musaed al-Aiban its chairman, strengthening security in the world’s largest oil exporter, a royal decree said.

The National Authority for Cyber Security will be made up of the head of state security, the head of intelligence, the deputy interior minister and assistant to the minister of defense, SPA said late on Tuesday.

The authority will be linked to the King and is created to “boost cyber security of the state, protect its vital interests, national security and sensitive infrastructure,” it said.

It will also improve protection of networks, information technology systems and data.

Saudi Arabia has been target of frequent cyber attacks.

Earlier this year, it put out an alert about the Shamoon virus, which cripples computers by wiping their disks after the labor ministry had been attacked and a chemicals firm reported a network disruption.

The worst cyber attack to date was when Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company was hit by the Shamoon virus in 2012.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=85703.

2017-11-03

MANAMA – A Bahraini citizen convicted of “insulting the king” and stripped of his nationality has been deported to Iraq after serving a two-year jail sentence, Amnesty International said on Friday.

Ibrahim Karimi was released from the notorious Jaw prison on Monday and “deported to Iraq the next day”, Amnesty said in a report.

He had served a sentence of two years and one month for allegedly “insulting the king” of Bahrain as well as Saudi Arabia and its ruler, and for possession of a stun gun.

Karimi was sentenced in 2016 but his citizenship had been revoked by the Bahraini authorities more than three years earlier.

Amnesty said Karimi had been found guilty of “publicly inciting hatred and contempt against the regime” and of “publicly insulting the king”.

He was also convicted of “insulting Saudi Arabia and its king” in a tweet, following the deadly 2015 collapse of a massive construction crane at the Grand Mosque in Mecca that killed more than 100 people.

Karimi has denied ownership of the twitter account.

Amnesty has described Karimi as a “prisoner of conscience”.

Authorities in Manama have stepped up prosecution of dissidents in recent months, granting military courts the right to try civilians for charges including terrorism as protests demanding an elected government in the Sunni-ruled monarchy near their seventh year.

Dozens of mostly Shiite protesters have been jailed and number of high-profile activists and clerics stripped of their citizenship since protests erupted in 2011.

Bahrain, a key ally of the United States and home to the US Fifth Fleet, accuses Shiite Iran of training “terrorist cells” that aim to overthrow the Bahraini government.

Iran denies the allegation.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=85757.

Tuesday 31 October 2017

Ukrainian officials said they believed either Russian secret services or pro-Kremlin Chechen assassins were behind an attack on a Chechen man accused of plotting to kill Vladimir Putin.

The Chechen man, Adam Osmayev, who leads a battalion of Chechens fighting alongside Ukrainian forces in the east of the country, was wounded in the attack, near Kiev, on Monday, and his wife, Amina Okuyeva, who also fought in the battalion, was killed.

Osmayev and Okuyeva were returning by car to their house outside Kiev, when unknown assailants opened fire on their car, apparently from a Kalashnikov rifle. Okuyeva was killed by two bullets to the head, while Osmayev was wounded but survived.

“I drove as far as I could until the car stopped, the engine was also hit. I tried to give her first aid, but she was shot in the head,” Osmayev told Ukrainian television from his hospital bed.

Oleksandr Turchynov, head of Ukraine’s security council, wrote on Facebook: “Russia, which continues its aggression in eastern Ukraine, has carried out terror right in the heart of the country.”

The attack on Monday was the second attempt to kill the couple this year. In June, a Chechen hitman posing as a journalist from French newspaper Le Monde attempted to open fire on Osmayev but was shot and wounded by Okuyeva.

Osmayev, the son of a successful Chechen businessman, was educated at a boarding school in the Cotswolds, in England, and studied economics at the University of Buckingham. He was arrested in Odessa, Ukraine, in 2012, on charges of planning the assassination of Vladimir Putin. He denied the charges, claiming he was set up, and he was released from prison in the aftermath of the Maidan revolution in 2014.

When the conflict with pro-Russia separatists broke out in east Ukraine, Okuyeva and Osmayev joined a pro-Ukraine battalion mainly made up of Chechens. The battalion’s commander, Isa Munayev, was killed in February 2015, and Osmayev took over as commander.

Okuyeva was a public face of the battalion, often posing in stylized photographs with a sniper rifle. She was an uncompromising critic of Russia and the regime of Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya. Many of Kadyrov’s critics have been killed, in Moscow as well as further afield.

A group of Chechen fighters who fought alongside pro-Russian forces in east Ukraine in 2014 and 2015 said they had gone there with the express purpose of killing Munayev, whom they deemed a traitor. Osmayev and Okuyeva, as the highest-profile Chechens backing Ukraine after Munayev’s death, knew that they were also targets.

Okuyeva was the latest high-profile target killed in the Ukrainian capital, which has been rocked by contract killings on numerous occasions in the past 18 months.

Last summer, the investigative journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed in central Kiev by a bomb placed in his car. Ihor Mosiychuk, a nationalist MP, was wounded by a bomb that killed his bodyguard last week.

In March a Russian MP, Denis Voronenkov, who had fled to Ukraine and denounced the Kremlin was shot dead in broad daylight in central Kiev. Voronenkov had asked Ukrainian authorities for armed protection in the run-up to the hit, saying he had received threats.

In all these cases Ukrainian authorities have been quick to blame Russia, though in the case of Sheremet investigative journalists alleged that Ukrainian security agents could have been monitoring the scene before the hit.

A Ukrainian official, Anton Gerashchenko, said on Tuesday that Okuyeva’s funeral would take place according to Islamic traditions. “Amina was close to death many times, and asked her family to avoid a big, public, funeral,” he wrote on Facebook.

Source: The Guardian.

Link: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/31/russia-blamed-for-attack-on-chechen-couple-who-fought-with-ukrainian-forces.