Tag Archive: Parion Gulf


BAGHDAD – An Iraqi Shiite group claimed Thursday it had fired six mortar rounds that hit a remote area of northeastern Saudi Arabia a day earlier as a warning to the Sunni-dominated kingdom.

Wathiq al-Battat, head of the pro-Iranian Shiite group Jaish al-Mukhtar, said by telephone from Baghdad that the attack was “a warning strike” to Saudi Arabia over its stance towards Shiites.

“We did not mean for our missile to reach a residential area because we value people’s blood,” said Battat. “But next time, if Saudi Arabia continues the same course, we will go farther, little by little.”

Diplomats and Iraqi security officials routinely say they do not believe Jaish al-Mukhtar to be a capable militia and do not regard Battat as a credible figure.

But the incident comes amid regional turmoil fueled by the Syrian conflict.

Riyadh backs the mostly Sunni rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is strongly supported by predominantly Shiite Iran and Shiite militias in Iraq and Lebanon.

Earlier Thursday, Saudi state news agency SPA quoted border guard General Mohammed al-Ghamidi as saying six mortar rounds hit Wednesday “in an uninhabited area near Al-Awja border crossing… in Hafr al-Batin in Eastern Province, and no damage was caused.”

Residents said Saudi warplanes were flying over the area early on Thursday and Ghamidi said Saudi authorities were in “direct contact” with their neighbors to identify the source of the shelling and to prevent a repetition.

Okaz newspaper’s website said the mortar fire came “from the Iraqi side of the border.”

Ghamidi added that his men had entered Hafr al-Batin, “an oil-rich area and vital to the Saudis.”

Hafr al-Batin, which also borders Kuwait, was a command headquarters for US forces during the 1991 Gulf War, which expelled Iraqi occupation forces from the emirate.

Source: Middle East Online.
Link: http://middle-east-online.com/english/?id=62788.


January 15, 2014

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — The future king of Bahrain met with top Shiite opposition leaders on Wednesday for the first time in nearly three years, the last time being shortly after Arab Spring protests broke out in the Gulf Arab nation.

The meeting also comes just one week after reconciliation talks were suspended. Bahrain’s state television broadcast images of Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa meeting with members of the country’s Shiite opposition, including its main al-Wefaq bloc.

Al -Wefaq and four other opposition groups released a joint statement after the face-to-face with the crown prince saying that they hoped the meeting would result in concrete steps. “The opposition believes any positive outcomes from this meeting will depend on the coming steps toward real power sharing,” it said.

The opposition groups said the meeting, which took place at the crown prince’s palace upon his invitation, focused on parameters for reconciliation talks that aim to produce “a new political agreement” for a permanent solution leading to “equality and transition to a democratic monarchy.”

The tiny island nation of Bahrain, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, is ruled by a Sunni monarchy. The country’s majority Shiites began protesting in early 2011 to seek greater political rights from the country’s rulers. More than 65 people have died in the unrest, but rights groups and others place the death toll higher.

The two sides have not held high-level talks since neighboring Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, sent troops to Bahrain to help quell the Shiite-led uprising. Repeated rounds of political talks have failed to significantly close the rifts between the two sides and the opposition is demanding amnesty for what they claim are more than 3,000 political prisoners held in Bahraini prisons. The most recent reconciliation talks were suspended after the head of al-Wefaq was banned from traveling abroad, forcing the government to call off the dialogue.

The government released a statement to journalists saying the meeting explored means of overcoming the challenges faced by attempts at dialogue recently. It said participants agreed to embark on a new phase of dialogue.

Al-Wefaq spokesman Abdul Jalil Khalil, who also attended Wednesday’s talks with the crown prince, told The Associated Press that his group was very direct and clear with their demands in the meeting. “We said Bahrain needs complete citizenship, meaning full rights… political and civil rights,” he said, adding that they also want a member of the ruling family to take part in reconciliation talks and not just government officials.

“It is not clear until now how far the government is willing to go with the opposition, but today’s meeting is considered a positive step,” Khalil said.


BAGHDAD – Iraq has ordered Iranian exiles to move from a camp where 52 of their members were killed a week ago “without delay”, a government official and the UN said Saturday.

Baghdad opened a probe into the events surrounding the deaths of the members of the People’s Mujahedeen Organisation of Iran, which occurred on Sunday at Camp Ashraf in Diyala province, but accounts of the unrest still differ markedly.

The United Nations and Western governments have condemned the bloodshed, but have been careful not to assign blame.

“The state has the right to order them to leave,” Ali Mussawi, spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, said.

“There is an order for them to leave.”

The UN’s mission to Baghdad said in a statement that it believed the Iraqi government “will move to enforce this order without delay”.

That would require the 42 remaining residents of Camp Ashraf to be moved to Camp Liberty, a former US military base on the outskirts of Baghdad, while PMOI members await relocation outside of Iraq.

Iraqi officials and the PMOI have offered conflicting narratives of how the 52 died.

The authorities blame infighting within the PMOI for the deaths, and insist no soldiers entered Ashraf.

Those accounts are sharply contested by the PMOI, which charges that Iraqi forces entered the camp, killed 52 of its members and set fire to the group’s property and goods.

Last weekend’s deaths follow two mortar attacks earlier this year on Camp Liberty in which at least eight people were killed.

Around 3,000 members of the group, which is also known as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), were moved from Ashraf last year to Liberty, but about 100 stayed on at the old camp to deal with remaining property and goods.

Saddam Hussein allowed the rebel MEK to set up the camp during his war with Iran in the 1980s.

The group was founded in the 1960s to oppose the shah of Iran, and after the 1979 Islamic revolution that ousted him it took up arms against Iran’s clerical rulers.

It says it has now laid down its arms and is working to overthrow the Islamic regime in Iran by peaceful means.

Source: Middle East Online.
Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=61186.

December 29, 2013

BEIRUT (AP) — Saudi Arabia has pledged $3 billion to Lebanon to help strengthen the country’s armed forces and purchase weapons from France, Lebanon’s president said Sunday, calling it the biggest grant ever for the nation’s military.

Michel Sleiman, who made the surprise announcement in a televised national address, did not provide any further details. The Lebanese army has struggled to contain a rising tide of violence linked to the civil war in neighboring Syria, a conflict that has inflamed sectarian tensions in Lebanon and threatened the country’s stability.

“The Saudi king decided to give a generous, well-appreciated grant to Lebanon amounting to $3 billion for the Lebanese army, which will allow it to buy new and modern weapons,” Sleiman said. “The king pointed out that the weapons will be bought from France quickly, considering the historical relations that tie it to Lebanon and the military cooperation between the two countries.”

Sleiman said he hoped Paris would quickly meet the initiative, and help the Lebanese army with arms, training and maintenance. French President Francois Hollande, who was in Riyadh Sunday for talks with Saudi King Abdullah, said that France would help if requested to do so.

“If there are demands that are addressed to us, we will satisfy them,” Hollande told reporters. Fragile in the best of times, Lebanon is struggling to cope with the fallout from Syria’s civil war. That conflict has deeply divided Lebanon along confessional lines, and paralyzed the country’s ramshackle political system to the point that it has been stuck with a weak and ineffectual caretaker government since April.

It has also seen a wave of deadly bombings and shootings that have fueled fears that Lebanon, which suffered a brutal 15-year civil war of its own that only ended in 1990, could be slowly slipping back toward full-blown sectarian conflict.

In a nod to those concerns, Sleiman said in his address that “Lebanon is threatened by sectarian conflict and extremism,” and said that strengthening the army is a popular demand. The Lebanese army is generally seen as a unifying force in the country, and draws its ranks from all of Lebanon’s sects. But it has struggled to contain the escalating violence in the country since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict. It is also widely considered much weaker than the Shiite Hezbollah militant group, which is armed and funded by regional Shiite-power and Saudi-rival Iran.

The Saudi pledge appeared aimed, at least in part, at boosting the military in relation to Hezbollah. Historically, the Lebanese army has been equipped by the United States and France. Washington has provided hundreds of millions of dollars of military aid in recent years to Lebanon that has included armored vehicles, weapons and training for the Lebanese army. The U.S. says the program aims to strengthen Lebanese government institutions.

Lebanon’s tenuous grip on stability was made clear Friday, when a car bomb killed senior Sunni politician Mohammed Chatah, who had been critical of Syria and Hezbollah. On Sunday, hundreds of mourners packed into a landmark mosque in downtown Beirut to bid farewell to Chatah, a former finance minister and top aide to ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Chatah, a Sunni, was affiliated with Hariri’s Western-backed coalition, which has been locked in a bitter feud with a rival camp led by Hezbollah. Hariri, whose own father was killed by a massive car bomb in 2005, has indirectly blamed Hezbollah for Chatah’s assassination.

After a somber funeral service inside Beirut’s blue-domed Mohammed al-Amin Mosque, pallbearers carried Chatah’s casket to the adjacent funeral tent where he was buried next to Hariri’s father, Rafik. At several points during the ceremony, some in the crowd broke into chants of “a terrorist, a terrorist, Hezbollah is a terrorist!”

Speaking later, Fouad Siniora, an ally of Chatah, praised his late colleague as a voice of moderation, and promised those in the crowd that such political killings will not knock the Lebanese off their course.

“We will not surrender. We will not back down. We are not afraid of terrorists and murderers. It is they who should be afraid. They kill to govern. While we reiterate our commitment to Lebanon of coexistence and civil peace,” he said.

Siniora, who is a former prime minister, also took a swipe at Hezbollah, saying “we have decided to liberate Lebanon from the occupation of illegitimate weapons.” Hezbollah’s critics accuse the group of being a veritable state-within-a-state because it has maintained its own militia.

The car bombing that killed Chatah was reminiscent of a string of assassinations of around a dozen members of the anti-Syrian Hariri camp between 2004 and 2008, the biggest of which was the powerful blast that killed Hariri’s father, Rafik, who also was a former prime minister.

Associated Press writers Sarah Di Lorenzo in Paris and Yasmine Saker contributed to this report.

October 1, 2013

Cairo: Egypt halted tourism activities with Iran on Tuesday citing security concerns, a Tourism Ministry spokeswoman said, further distancing itself from Tehran after former Islamist President Mohammad Mursi tried to improve ties.

“At the moment the security situation does not allow the ministry to support travel with Iran, including flights and tourist visits,” spokeswoman Rasha Azaizi said, without giving details.

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Cairo in February, the first visit by an Iranian leader in more than three decades.

The first commercial flight between Egypt and Iran in 34 years took off in March as Mursi tried to normalize ties broken after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.

Diplomatic relations remain severed. The state news agency said 43 Iranian tourists visited Egypt in April. But regular commercial flights never got underway.

Mursi, elected in 2012, was overthrown by the army in July after street protests against his rule. Azaizi said Mursi’s government’s plans to increase tourism with Iran had been put on hold.

Relations between Egypt and Iran broke down in 1979 when Cairo gave sanctuary to the deposed shah. Many in Egypt, a majority Sunni country, still harbor strong feelings against Shiite Iran.

The army-backed government views Tehran with deep suspicion.

In July, Egypt accused Iran of “unacceptable interference” in its domestic affairs for criticizing the military’s removal of Mursi. Iran called the ousting of Mursi a “cause for concern” and suggested “foreign hands” were at work in the Arab state.

Egypt historically has much stronger ties with Gulf Arab states, who have vied with Iran for regional influence.

Source: Gulf News.
Link: http://gulfnews.com/news/region/egypt/egypt-halts-tourism-with-iran-1.1238087.

6 December 2013

In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful!

Praise be to Allah, peace and prayer be upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions.

And then:

Allah Almighty says:

“And hold fast by the covenant of Allah all together and be not disunited, and remember the favor of Allah on you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts so by His favor you became brethren; and you were on the brink of a pit of fire, then He saved you from it, thus does Allah make clear to you His communications that you may follow the right way”
(The Holy Koran, Chapter 3. “The Family of Imran”, verse 103)

And the Most High says:

“Surely Allah loves those who fight in His way in ranks as if they were a firm and compact wall”.
(The Holy Koran, Chapter 61. “The Ranks”, verse 4)

Nu’man bin Bashir (May Allah be pleased with them) reported:

Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever”, narrated by Muslim, and in another narration: “Muslims are like one body of a person; if the eye is sore, the whole body aches, and if the head aches, the whole body aches”.

Out of keenness on unity and rejecting division and disagreement, and to unite the rank and word, the Jihadi Harakat Al-Ansar with the mujahidin of Hizbul Furqan under the banner of (La ilaha illallah Muhammadur Rasulullah) and jihad for the sake of Allah to topple the Iranian regime, and raise the word of Allah, and lift the injustice, and support the oppressed, and establish the Sharia of the Lord of the Worlds, and that our jihad be a brick for the Khilafah which our trustful prophet the best peace and blessings be upon him preached us of its return.

The two groups merged under the name of Jamaat Ansar Al-Furqan.

In conclusion we ask Allah Almighty guidance and success, and peace and blessings be on the messenger of Allah and his family and Sahabah and allies.

Shura of Jamaat Ansar Al-Furqan

Source: Islamic media

Department of Monitoring
Kavkaz Center

Source: Kavkaz Center.
Link: http://kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/2013/12/06/18641.shtml.

July 30, 2013

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, July 30 (UPI) — The Saudi government gave Egyptian military chief Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi $1 billion to oust Mohamed Morsi from power, a Saudi activist says.

Saudi political activist Mujtahid bin Hareth bin Hammaam, known for his Twitter campaign against the Saudi government, said el-Sisi received the money July 3, the Tehran-based news network Alalam reported Tuesday. The Saudi government had hoped the money would help el-Sisi ensure a calm transition of power, the network said.

The Saudi government is concerned el-Sisi will be unable to restore order amid ongoing violence and demands by Morsi’s followers he be reinstated, the network said.

“King Abdullah knows well that failure of the coup in Egypt will be a disaster for al-Saud because any new government will be stronger and will adopt anti-Saudi Arabia policies,” Mujtahid tweeted. “That is why King Abdullah is one of the supporters of unlimited use of force in cracking down protesters. … King Abdullah not only supported the coup and tried to convince others to accept new changes, he also helped el-Sisi,” he said.

The Saudi king is using his political and financial powers to convince the West to refrain from adopting a strong stance toward the crisis in Egypt, Mujtahid charged. The Saudi government has yet to respond to the allegations.

Wikipedia describes Mujtahid as known for tweeting controversial information about the Saudi royal family. He has been nicknamed the Julian Assange of Saudi Arabia.

Source: United Press International (UPI).
Link: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2013/07/30/Saudi-activist-says-money-given-to-Egypt/UPI-53881375183115/.

Wednesday, 04 September 2013

A retired Egyptian general has revealed details of an Egypt-UAE plot to impose a stranglehold on the Gaza Strip and overthrow the Hamas-led government. The plot, claims General Sami Hassan, is for the Egyptian army to act, with funding from the UAE government.

“The plan is led by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi,” tweeted Hassan. “He aims to achieve political and military gains in the coming days.”

General Hassan said that the military will impose even more restrictions on the Palestinians in Gaza, cutting all essential supplies which currently pass through the tunnels. Fuel supplies in particular are being targeted. The Gaza Strip relies on Egypt for 80 per cent of its fuel.

According to Hassan, the process has already started with a media demonisation campaign against the Palestinians and Hamas. As soon as the army creates calm in the Sinai Peninsula, he asserted, it will stir up popular demonstrations.

Al-Sisi has already met with Shaikh Hazza bin Zayed, an adviser to the UAE National Security Authority, and ex-Fatah “strongman” Mohammed Dahlan, said General Hassan. “A sum of $750 million has been allocated for the plot,” he claims, “which will involve returning Gaza to Egyptian control or handing it over to the Palestinian Authority [in Ramallah].”

The decisive meeting, he noted, lasted one and a half hours in Al-Sisi’s office. The following objectives were agreed upon:

Sinai will be “cleansed” of militant groups and nomadic tribes on the border with Gaza will be disarmed.

A drone base will be established by Egypt in Sinai under international supervision. Air strikes will be launched against the “global jihadist movement”.

All tunnels between Gaza and Egypt will be closed, and Egypt will cut off all essential supplies going to Gaza.

Electricity supplies from Egypt to Gaza will be cut off altogether.

An agreement between the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Israel will be reactivated with the return of international observers to the Rafah Border Crossing.

Hamas will be toppled and the Gaza Strip will be returned to President Mahmoud Abbas’s control.

Power in Gaza will handed over to the PA or people in the UAE’s pay and control, such as Dahlan.

Source: Middle East Monitor.
Link: http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/7221-egypt-and-uae-plot-to-topple-hamas.

November 27, 2013

PARIS (AP) — Fireworks erupted in Dubai after the tiny Gulf emirate won the right to host the 2020 World Expo, becoming the first Middle Eastern city to organize the event in its more than 150-year history.

Dubai bested competing bids from Izmir, Turkey; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Yekaterinburg, Russia, after three rounds of voting by delegates of the 168-nation Bureau International des Expositions in Paris.

In line with its reputation for over-the-top glitz, Dubai lit the world’s tallest tower with glimmering lights. The skies around the Burj Khalifa, which towers at 2,717 feet, erupted with fireworks. The logo of its bid for the 2020 expo was plastered on police cars, convenience store bags, storefronts, taxis, receipts, government buildings and even on a flag on Mount Kilimanjaro.

A spending spree was already underway even before officials announced the host city. Dubai estimates a successful Expo 2020 bid will generate $23 billion between 2015 and 2021, or 24 percent of the city’s gross domestic product. They say total financing for the 6-month-long event will cost $8.4 billion.

In a statement after the vote, Dubai ruler and U.A.E. vice president Sheikh Mohammed bin Rahid promised to “astonish the world” in 2020. “Dubai Expo2020 will breathe new life into the ancient role of the Middle East as a melting pot for cultures and creativity,” he said.

Delegates voted behind closed doors over three rounds to choose the winner, with Sao Paolo and Izmir eliminated in the second round. Sao Paulo had proposed a renewable energy tower to convert solar energy into the electricity needed for the event and a new economic, tourism and education hub with hotels, schools, and shopping malls.

Izmir, an Aegean coastal city formerly known as Smyrna, had pushed global health and environmental issues for its bid and had chosen award-winning architect Zaha Hadid to design the park for the exposition.

Russia treated its bid to hold the expo as a state priority not unlike its bids to host the Winter Games and the World Cup. Organizers of the pitch for the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg were planning to build 103 pavilions for the expo and accommodation for exhibition participants, later to be converted into a residential area.

The announcement comes just days before the Dec. 2 U.A.E. national day, which celebrates the young nation’s 42 years of unity and independence from the British Protectorate. The official Twitter account for Dubai’s world expo bid wrote after the announcement that the win “will help unlock the vast potential of this region” and that it is the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East.

“The UAE is proud to have been selected to host #Expo2020 in #Dubai under the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’,” said Dubai authorities on their official expo bid account. While the World’s Fair no longer holds the popularity of other global events like the Olympics or World Cup, it remains a chance for millions from around the world to discuss and see the business of the future.

Last year Yeosu, South Korea, hosted the 2012 world expo. The next one is scheduled to take place in Milan in 2015.

Associated Press reporter Aya Batrawy in Dubai contributed to this report.

By Justin Salhani
Nov. 25, 2013

Nov. 23 (UPI) –Dubai’s municipality announced last week that it would erect an icon to be called the ‘frame’.

Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality, said: “We have opened tenders and will be giving the assignment to the apt contractor according to our plan.”

“We expect it will be a bridge between the past and future of Dubai and may become a name attached to Dubai like Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab,” he said.

The frame will be a large frame-like structure, similar to St. Louis’ arc but square, that frames old Dubai through one end and new Dubai through the other. The ground floor will be home to a gallery of Dubai’s history.

Source: United Press International (UPI).
Link: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/Blog/2013/11/25/Dubai-to-construct-frame/5991385380151/.