Should the Gulf Negotiate Iran or De Facto Aggressor: ‘The Revolutionary Guard’?

Iran

Iran’s elite revolutionary guard, an armed force intended to protect Tehran’s theocratic regime, has registered disruptive and intrusive activity in 14 regional states. The guards operations in Syria alone cost the cleric-led regime some $100 billion.

A paper written by two Brussels-based human rights groups presented, in detail, all unwarranted intrusions and funding of terror groups carried out by the guard in order to achieve the regime’s expansionist ambitions.

All the more, the research shows Iran’s elite guard stepping up its meddling in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon ever since Tehran went into its nuclear talks with the world’s super powers.

Anyone, party or nation who had firsthand experienced Iran’s bitter attitude and aggressive behavior hardly finds the abovementioned revelations a surprise.

And as positive indicatives point towards the United States President Donald Trump seriously considering to enlist Iran’s revolutionary guard as a terrorist organization, it is very embarrassing for any party that still has faith in composed and rational talks being held between Gulf states and Iran.

Iran and Gulf states cannot be seen as counterparts to an argument, as one party orients itself towards delivering progress to its people and stabilizing the region whilst the other is a self-styled state that aims to destabilize the region, spreading terrorism everywhere. The latter cannot be simply rewarded a seat to negotiate what can possibly adhere to its hostility.

Struan Stevenson President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association, who’s body published the study on the revolutionary guard concluding that “[Iranian] meddling in the affairs of other regional countries is institutionalized and the IRGC (the revolutionary guard) top brass has been directly involved,” the report said, directly implicating the Iranian military and state apparatus in destabilization operations around the Middle East.”

The report also criticizes the guard for undertaking a “hidden occupation” of four countries, namely Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

The European study said: “Every month, hundreds of forces from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Lebanon – countries where the [Iranian] regime is involved in frontline combat – receive military training and are subsequently dispatched to wage terrorism and war.”

With all that being said, it is clear that the struggle with Iran is that the problem lies not with its people or its limited-power government or unproductive parliament, but with its guard serving a bellicose expansionist agenda as stipulated in the national constitution.

The guard is placed just under the upper hand of the supreme leader which positions it at a place of unconstrained jurisdiction and power and just above Iran’s national army.

More so, the study revealed that the guard operates some 90 dummy companies that control 90 Iranian ports – making up for 45 percent of national ports – and which run a whopping $12 billion in annual revenue.

The elite guard uses the very same ports to import arms to its militias in neighboring countries that upon delivery aid in further destabilizing security of their respective states.

It cannot be trusted that Iran is serious with its negotiations whilst it fosters a home militia (the revolutionary guard) that has literally been placed itself above the law.

Iran is far and foremost the greatest winner in the recent calls for negotiations with Gulf states.

After having exploited the talks, Iran will employ a stronger expansionist agenda, buying itself more time to extend profits it reaps from regional states.

More so, Iran will not stop at the talks failing but will relish in having branded itself a peaceful negotiable state as opposed to Gulf states being the ones having ‘refused’ to instate peace and stability.

Should we blame Iran? Of course not, its transgressions had gone beyond that– blocs that allowed for such a cliché and fruitless rhetoric to go into a vicious cycle are those who should be held accountable.

Living with Our Privacy Violated

Men are silhouetted against a video screen as they pose with Samsung Galaxy S3, Nokia Lumia 820 and iPhone 4 smartphones (L-R) in this photo illustration taken in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, May 17, 2013. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic (BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - Tags: BUSINESS TELECOMS) - RTXZQ6G

The rule has never changed: Every phenomenon or positive change has a tax to be paid, whether we like it or not.This rule also applies to the enormous technological progress we are witnessing and its unlimited positive outcomes on our lives, businesses and communities. Here, the tax users pay is represented by forbidden acts and taboos becoming accepted and incorporated into our lives.

People might not sense this gradual transformation but they eventually accept it in return for using technology. Speaking of attempts to maintain some privacy has become impossible – privacy has been violated with a knockdown.

A group of scientists from Harvard University has developed a mosquito-sized robot that can steal samples of your DNA without you feeling it. Professor of Computer Science Margo Seltzer said that the privacy we used to know before no more exists, adding that current techniques such as credit cards, internet networks, highway radars, cameras in streets, social media and emails can all leave a digital print of us by which we can be followed.

In 2013, more than five billion data records were lost or stolen, according to the Breach Level Index (BLI). This reveals that perhaps only those distant from the world of internet were not subject to violation of privacy– and they did not avoid it for fear or cautiousness but because they weren’t capable of affording such technology – yet, they are certainly on their way there.

Half the world’s population is constantly connected to the Internet while the other half is on its way. According to Gartner, Inc. there will be 25 billion smartphones by 2020. At that time, no one will be safe regardless if he uses a smartphone or not. Saudi Arabia, for example, has a population of 30 million people, having 24 million internet users and 48 million subscribers of mobile telecommunication services.

Violations taking place every second with data and information divulged have become manifest for anyone connected to the internet. And it is impossible to stop or block them.

Take what has been published by founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange in 2013 as an example – he published a huge archive of correspondences for former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger since 1973 till 1976. These correspondences were classified as top secret and totaled 1.7 million, five-fold what has been previously published in WikiLeaks.

Another example is former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Edward Snowden, currently residing in Russia, who has unveiled that the National Security Agency (NSA) in the US and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Britain have jointly developed a technology that permits access to many global internet activity, call logs, individuals’ emails and a huge content of other digital telecommunications.

Misuse of personal data is a growing challenge all over the world. Requests were made to governments to take charge of protecting the future of citizens’ privacy and their social prosperity. However, it seems that none is capable of that, with governments themselves failing to protect their own classified data. So, how would a normal individual be able to do that?!

Till now there are no realistic solutions that show optimism in ending the violation of our privacy. Given that we have agreed to be connected to the Internet and to use smartphones, we should admit that our privacy has been violated irreversibly, even if we try to convince ourselves otherwise.

At Last, Entertainment in Saudi Arabia

Saudi women shop at the Al-Hayatt mall in Riyadh

A healthy debate is going on over social media and Saudi arenas mostly about objecting and welcoming a concept that is present in all countries all over the world, and has been absent in the kingdom for decades. It is entertainment, a concept absent from a state where 70% of its population is youth.

Naturally, any real change is equipped with enthusiastic supporters and conservative opposers, while a few await further developments to determine their position.

Vision 2030 admits implicitly that Saudi city life is boring and in routine and Saudi citizens constantly complain of lack of entertainment in their country.

Although the attendees’ queues, and many others who couldn’t attend events, prove the society’s excitement for entertainment, any rejection or discretion from others is a natural reaction for any real change in a society. Opposing any change is expected and should not be regarded as a strange thing.

I don’t think anyone can argue that entertainment as a concept is important for all societies, let alone that such trends are very profitable for neighboring countries, most of which are Saudi attendees.

The argument may be on the content of the events given that some think it is not suitable for the Saudi society. It is understandable as they are entitled to their own opinions regardless of what they are. Some prefer to attend such events in Bahrain, Dubai or Qatar. It is only a matter of time until those against such things will begin to accept the unavoidable truth.

Needless to say that there may occur mistakes and many events may get out of hand, which is also natural for an industry that is still young.

It is rather unfair to judge the entertainment committee and it has been a year since its establishment.

Industry of entertainment is crucial for Saudis not only for joy and amusement like many believe. There are many other purposes that no government should overlook, such as creating new job opportunities.

Entertainment, among other sectors, is expected to reduce unemployment from 11.6% to 7% which is close to the international rates and is the priority of the Saudi Vision 2030.

It would also boost tourism as part of the National Transform Program, knowing that in 2015, Saudis spent $26 billion on external tourism, and enhance both the private and public sectors to organize festivals.

It would also activate the role of public committees in contributing to establish and develop entertaining centers, encourage local and foreign investors to form partnerships with international companies, establish museums and libraries, and support talented authors and directors.

Not to forget the several cultural aspects that accompany such events and cater to everyone’s taste.

Is it possible to ignore all those social and economic benefits only because some don’t understand the truth about entertainment??

Development is not solely limited to the economic aspects; it is also about building a balanced healthy society capable of achieving a healthy relaxing environment.

Saudi Arabia is on its way to create a revolution in entertaining its citizens, improve the tourism sector, and enhance the infrastructure.

Those who are against this will eventually go on with the society’s desires no matter how long they object or how strong they criticize.

King Salman in Asia: the New Silk Road

One of the most important aspects of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy in the past decade has been the enhancement and diversification of its partnerships, and expanding its political options on the international arena.

Surely, the Saudi approach to East Asia is not only a political-diplomatic move, but also an economic need in line with the grand economic reform process the kingdom is currently undergoing.

Asia is blooming and developing to an extent that it has become an international and prominent key player with grand influence politically and economically.

Based on that, the Asian visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz reflects the Saudi foreign policy that aims to maintain balanced relations while keeping its current international ties. At the same time, it wants to keep a strategy that is in line with the Saudi Vision 2030 in an attempt to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable economic growth.

Heading east is not strange to the Middle East, yet transforming such an idea into reality through a permanent partnership has always faced many obstacles.

The main obstacle is probably the strong alliance with western powers that always undermines the improvement of relations with key players in East Asia. Nonetheless, the dramatic shift in the international system proved that being content with current alliances – even if strategic and historic – should not stop the search for common interests with Asian parties.

This policy is based on three important facts. First, the developing Asian countries are not only economically influential and dominating, but they are also key political players in international arena in addition to the fact that they effect world security.

Second, the interaction with influential and politically and economically stable countries reflects positively on their partners. East Asian countries are in a politically stable environment and part of the international political circle away from crises and conflicts.

Finally, Saudi Arabia’s strategic role is important for Asian countries, which had previously not benefited from it in a way that establishes their geopolitical importance.

The new “Silk Road” being paved by Saudi Arabia is a tempting view of the future. Surely, it will be a bumpy road at first, but joint Saudi-Asian interests will overcome these obstacles and pave way for a promising future partnership.

If relations between Saudi Arabia and Asia are old and deeply-rooted, the newly-established connections gain their strength from the multipolar international system as more influential players get involved.

It is important for Saudi Arabia to seek strategic relations with the emerging powers of Asia amid changes in international relations and the transfer of economic power from the west to the east.

In 2012, London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies issued its Military Balance report in which it said that for the first time in modern history, military budgets of Asian states exceeded that of their European counterparts.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, it is safe to say that unipolar policy contributed to the isolation of the Middle East and for strategic reasons that required an alliance with the US and European countries.

That era hampered the emergence of independent policy from the Middle East. Yet, Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries that were the first to feel the international shift of power to Asia, acted in line with the new changes while maintaining old alliances.

Based on that, King Salman’s Asian tour is a strategic move to bolster the changes in the international scene. Both China and Japan are strong Asian nations, while Indonesia and Malaysia are rising, making it difficult to affirm if the current great powers will keep exerting influence.

Attempts to Cause Saudi-UAE Tension

The rules of inter-Gulf relations are stability and accord while the exceptions are dispute and disparity. Throughout decades, these have continued to be the foundation for establishing unique ties among Gulf states.

Since Operation Decisive Storm – that has represented a turning point in the Arab region – was launched in 2015, Saudi-UAE relations have been growing in an unprecedented way not only at the official level but also at the popular level as well based on strategic interests of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi in a way that reinforces stability in the Gulf and Arab region.

Yet, in the past two years attempts to target Saudi-UAE rapprochement have not stopped via hundreds of fake stories including rumors in the media and fabricated Arab and Western reports that have failed and showed not to be credible – These attempts reveal that they are organized pursuits from parties and countries, which have been damaged by the rapprochement between the two Gulf capitals.

On Tuesday, the UAE concluded a meeting bringing together Saudi Arabia and the UAE during which dozens of teams consisting of 150 officials and experts from both sides discussed ten means to achieve integration. Ten more are expected to be discussed in an upcoming meeting in Riyadh.

This reveals a quest by the two countries’ leaderships to have ideal and exceptional ties and to move to a new integration. The meeting is one of the first activities resulting from the Saudi-UAE Coordination Council, which was announced in May 2016 in Jeddah – the ceremony was attended by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

This unique meeting, which represents a qualitative transformation in Saudi-UAE ties, is a new and practical step in the pursuit of Saudi-UAE integration. It is also a natural reaction to the attempts to sabotage the strategic coalition by coming up with tedious stories on “hidden agendas.”

But why are these parties discontent by the unique ties? Why all these steady attempts to harm the integration? Which parties benefit from the relapse of relations between the two countries?

If Saudi Arabia and UAE have the strongest Arab economies and the most advanced arms, represent one social fabric, have leaderships keen for cooperation and peoples aiming for additional integration not to mention that they share common attitudes regarding regional and international topics, then it is certain that a party is harmed from this accord, and the continuity of this coalition is not for its best interest.

First Iran and Second the Muslim Brotherhood are mostly harmed by such unity. The Muslim Brotherhood was struck several times and is struggling to remain active. It also returned to carrying out secret activities and has no other option but to spread rumors and chaos and to create tension in the Arab and Gulf Street.

As for Iran, the Saudi-UAE agreement damages its policies in attempting to export its revolution to the Arab region. By being an evil country, Iran has sought to target Saudi-UAE relations.

However, these attempts have been unable to change the reality. On the contrary the two countries are still keen to reinforce integration.

A while ago, I asked an Emirati official about the rumors on Riyadh-Abu Dhabi relations. He had the following answer: “Relations are at their best. As for the evil attempts to cause a rift, then the optimal response is to move on in reinforcing and integrating ties for a stable future in the Gulf and region.”

The more Riyadh and Abu Dhabi consolidate relations, the greater attempts to damage them. The positive thing is that all these pursuits massively failed – the Saudi Emirati train keeps moving forward.

Al-Awamiyah Riots..Five Years Later: The State Prevails

Saudi

Five years have passed since Saudi Arabia’s eastern costal village, al-Awamiyah, witnessed turmoil, disorder and rabble-rousing speech that resulted to riots inciting sectarian strife. Shootings, bottle bombs, murder and terrorist acts targeted citizens, institutional buildings and commercial shops.

Civilians and al-Awamiyah people were the most to suffer.

Reform, a fight for rights, reasons of chasing Peninsula Shield Force out of Bahrain, and sometimes for division — the justifications and labels are numerous, but the destruction ever the same.

Evidently the riots only aimed to wreak havoc and spur chaos.

Worth mentioning that in the face of all the chaos – government security plans and strategies for al-Awamiyah were established on the vital principals of separating harmed and deceived citizens from opportunists following a terrorist and organized crime mindset.

In retrospect, with all the extremists found guilty of al-Awamiyah’s descend to chaos, cries for “reform” and “rights” unmistakably were nothing more than a cover up.

Even though the Saudi government has exercised unrivaled restraint and relentlessly perused the restoration of civilian livelihood to the small village – curbing terrorism in the area was fully effective only after religious and social figures had sensed their national responsibility in raising awareness, admitting that all false slogans for “reform” were nothing more than a first-time hoax pulled by terror groups.

The community now stands assertively in solidarity with the state, after a short period of hesitance, fully aware of the protective role played by the government.

Rejection, condemnation and denunciation now face all those not calling a spade a spade: the sole befitting description of what had happened is terrorism, not “reform,” not a “call for rights”.

Terrorist rings exploited the community as a mean for their own illicit ends.

Two days ago, a group of 110 al-Awamiyah-based social, academic and religious figures released a statement expressing unparalleled support for a Friday speech delivered by local cleric, Sheikh Ja’afar Ribh, urging the public to stand against the anomalous and reprehensible criminal acts that only inflict pain and suffering to citizens of al-Awamiyah .

The series of criminal acts staged by weak-spirited people, whether vandals or outlaws, such as the ransacking of al-Awamiyah charity centers, compromising private and public property – namely civil facilities such as power plants and schools – constitute a violation and anti-peace transgressions carried out against the society, said the statement.

Unfortunately, all those deceived by the false slogans later discovered the terrorist nature of the so-called “reformist” actions.

The statement, which is not the first of a kind, is one of the positive and influential ways for eliminating terrorism from al-Awamiyah. Security-focused confrontation will not work effectively alone unless backed by community consensus dismissive of attempts to spread disarray and confusion among citizens. A community which feels strongly against the ugly use of sectarian bigotry that eventually results in spilling innocent blood and spreading terror.

Al-Awamiyah is one of 38,000 populations distributed across the Kingdom’s coastal line and has received equal state treatment as other villages and cities in the area.

All of al-Awamiyah’s 27 thousand residents have been dealt with on basis of equality with respect to the Kingdom’s population of 30 million, sharing national rights and duties.

State policy towards al-Awamiyah, since the outbreak of riots, has remained unaffected by attempts to destabilize the village. Five years after the unfortunate, spiteful and agonizing upheaval the sole prevailing truth is that Saudi Arabia’s state strategy is pivoted on fighting terrorism, protecting civilians, preserving rights and restoring stability. The government has truly established that the security of Saudi citizens in al-Awamiyah is a priority to state efforts.

The Kingdom has undertaken the pursuit of the lawless and the safekeeping of all nationals irrespective of area.

Putting a Spoke in the Wheel of Saudi-U.S. Relations

Marking the first visit made by a United States President to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon, in 1974, addressed the late King Faisal bin Abdulaziz with a great deal of respect saying that people from all over the world have sought the Kingdom, however, Nixon distinguished his landmark stopover as one primarily driven by a quest for wisdom.

Good morals can be drawn from such a dramatic encounter found in the former royal protocol department undersecretary Abdurrahman al Hamoudi’s narrative “Al Dublomasiyya wal Marasem Suoodiya” (Arabic for Saudi Diplomacy and Customs). It speaks of the special relations shared by Riyadh and Washington that endured unbroken for 80 years after being anchored in shared strategic interests.

Saudi-U.S. relations have proven to be steady and strong even during harsh times, such as the 70’s oil crises, the September 11 attacks, and even during the turbulent Obama administration—ties with Saudi Arabia throughout 2009-2017 have been labeled as cold and not tense. Even though cold, former President Barack Obama visited Riyadh a total of three times, while Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz visited Washington twice during the Obama administration.

King Salman made his first visit upon his appointment as Defense Minister in 2011. His second trip to Washington was after officially taking reign in 2015. On significant Saudi Royals visiting the U.S. during the Obama presidency, the crown prince visited once and the deputy crown prince twice.

For a ‘cold’ status quo, Saudi-U.S. relations did good enough to strike envy among other countries—hoping their U.S. ties in dark hours would crystalize in the same manner.

On Jan 29, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump phoned Saudi King Salman in what evolved to be more than a mere protocol call, but an hour-long fruitful meeting on bilateral relations. In that long-distance call, the two heads of state outlined the character of future bilateral relations. What is more is that most of Trump’s regional stances were identical to those of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Popularly disputed topics with the Obama administration seem to have leveled out to an accord as soon as Mr. Trump stepped into the White House. Matters such as the Iran nuclear deal and counterterrorism efforts no longer reflect different U.S. and Saudi viewpoints.

Although the nuclear deal with Iran was meant to curb the country’s arms manufacture, it proved counterproductive as it has managed to build ballistic missiles that destabilize and threaten regional security. More so, under the Obama administration, fighting terrorism was selective and carried out in a one step forward, two steps back fashion.

Saudi Arabia fathoms the truth in the U.S. being a political, economic, military and technology superpower, and has established that its shared ties are core to Riyadh’s foreign policy. But one must keep in mind that the U.S. in turn also understands the central role played by the Kingdom in terms of sustaining regional stability across the scopes of politics, military, economy and security.

The U.S. realizes that the two countries’ relations are not centered on oil. Truth be told, the U.S. no longer needs Saudi oil for national consumption, but when speaking in terms of global economy a stabilizing 10 million bpd produced by the kingdom become indispensable. Today’s reality is that the international political, economic and security solidity are unsustainable without the Saudi played role.

Trump’s recent executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering U.S. grounds is controversial and has flooded U.S. media—but an attempt to pull Saudi Arabia into the heat of dispute, by viewing the ban as directed against the Kingdom, is just another try at sparking conflict between Washington and Riyadh.

Saudi citizens still go unaffected by the ban, given that the kingdom is not one of the listed Muslim-majority countries. Hence the ban has no direct effect against Saudi interests.

Today’s case is similar to that of (Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act) JASTA—Saudi Arabia did not jeopardize its relations with the U.S. administration based on fleeting reactions then, why would it now?!

The ban was largely condemned by Baghdad and Tehran, and those in line with their policy. Other Muslim-majority countries provided reasonable criticisms and not blunt disapproval. It seems that those affected by the ban are the one’s rallying against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia day in and day out, so it is only expected for them to try and drag the kingdom into a battle it is not remotely concerned with.

Even though Saudi-U.S. relations have naturally undergone tensions throughout the past eight decades, they never strayed from being the partnership clear in strategy.

More so, those tensions are what helped sustain relations with such great momentum.

These days Washington’s viewpoint on the Iran and counterterrorism files is consistent with Riyadh’s, which only reasserts the clarity and accuracy of Saudi stances. This strongly motivates restoring the alliance to its natural course, bolstering confidence and strengthening the partnership, after it had long stumbled due to the Obama administration’s indecision.

Opinion: A Russian Constitution For Syria

All attention focussed on Astana to see Moscow’s seriousness about pushing for a cease-fire, releasing 13,000 people that are detained in the Syrian regime’s prisons and delivering aid to besieged areas after there was a glimmer of hope for a peaceful solution to end the relentless war waged by the Russian backed Syrian regime that destroyed the country and wiped out its people. Syrians were therefore surprised by a war over the constitution in the name of changes to it – as if the war in Syria that has destroyed everything during the last 6 years is not enough, and as if the occupation carried out by the Russians, Iranians and 66 militias that are fighting alongside the regime is not enough. On top of all that, they want to introduce a constitution written by the Russians.

It is an international precedent when a country dares to write a constitution for another country that is imposed from outside of it. This is what Russia did when it submitted a new draft constitution for Syria to replace the current constitution of 2012. The draft constitution has been prepared by Russian experts in order to speed up the political process according to what the Russian president’s envoy to Syria Alexander Avrntiev announced to reporters at the end of the Astana talks. As if the crisis in Syria is in need of more complexity. Instead of giving the Syrian people the right to choose its political, economic and social system without interference from any country whether friendly or hostile, a country that is considered as an occupying country by a large number of Syrians and the world is writing Syria’s constitution. Does this not confirm that Russia is trying to maintain its control over Syria and protect its military, political and economic interests in any way possible?

In March 2016, the United States and Russia agreed to set a time frame for the regime and the opposition in Syria to write a new draft constitution for the country. This agreement did not mention in any way that it would happen in this way, a way that contradicts the most basic principles and diplomatic norms.

The creation of the Syrian constitution by any external party does not contribute to solving the crisis which may see a glimmer of light in Astana. Russia represents Assad completely and by presenting this draft constitution, even if it is the best constitution written and most suitable for Syria, the Russian position that seeks to promote the country as a superpower that is able to bring all Syrian parties together to the negotiating table, will suffer from a setback.

Reaching a lasting peace is a lofty goal but the drafting of a Syrian constitution by foreigners is a clear indication of Moscow’s real desire to solve the Syrian crisis according to its interests and the interests of the regime which certainly will not be from the same angle that Syrians look at their country.

Apart from leaks that disclosed that the Russian wording of the draft constitution omitted the word “Arab” from the “Syrian Arab Republic” to make it the “Syrian Republic”, the principle of foreigners writing the Syrian constitution shows that “Moscow does not respect the Syrian state”. This is the same expression that a Russian source used last year when he denied that his country had presented a draft constitution to Syria. Does Russia’s change of mind and the fact that it presented the draft constitution confirm its lack of respect for Syrians and Syria? It does appear so. In addition to this, it also shows that Russia is not serious about presenting itself as a neutral party between the regime and the opposition.

Opinion: Attacking Bahrain Season

The story goes like this – three citizens were found guilty by a court of killing two Bahraini police officers and an Emirati officer. They were given the death sentence by the court of cassation after exhaustive trial proceedings in the presence of the defendants’ lawyers, and after their statements were heard in accordance with court rulings that are in line with internationally accepted procedures. After that, the customary party attended by international organisations and human rights groups began.

These parties have become dull, repetitive and routine and they do not bring anything new, even if they are supported by states and governments, in light of the west’s coarse human rights awakening whose influence has started to erode and is no longer what it was. This is not because people do not believe in the role of organisations in consolidating human rights that are violated, but because these same people are sick of the blatant politicisation of these organisations, the lack of effective standards that determine their reactions and their disparity when it comes to dealing with issues.

Since the events of February 2011, Bahrain has been the target of a fierce Western campaign that organisations, bodies, governments and, unfortunately, regional states have been involved in. However, it has managed to overcome the effects of the crisis gradually and successfully. The tolerance that it has displayed exceeds that of well-established states that experienced similar crises and confronted them with violence and repression. Instead of helping Bahrain achieve success with its project of reformation which ironically began ten years before the Arab Spring, the attack against Bahrain was fierce and everyone except its real friends abandoned it. However, this did not prevent the kingdom from overcoming the toughest crisis in its history and proving its unique ability to become stronger than it was.

Earlier this month, an attack on a prison in Bahrain led to the escape of ten convicted prisoners who were convicted of serious crimes. The well planned operation in which sophisticated weapons were used and a guard was killed is considered new evidence that what Bahrain is facing is bigger than can be imagined. There are many signs that innocent people are being exploited in cells supported by Iran that do not just pose a great danger to Bahrain’s stability, but also to the stability of the entire region. Attempting to isolate events such as these from the full picture of what is happening in Bahrain is a violation of human rights unless the victims are not human beings!

Unfortunately, the political exploitation of human rights issues often defeats their fundamental aim and turns these issues into an arena for political attraction instead of being an arena purely for human rights in Bahrain. In Bahrain, for example, instead of these international organisations carrying out their roles to deepen the necessary concepts, stopping any potential violations, assisting in the review of policies, practices and legislation and bringing them closer to international standards, we find that the whole issue turns into abusing Bahrain politically. We also find that this abuse is based on false information and suspicious sources; in the recent incident, coverage focussed on the execution of the three defendants and ignored the rights of the three victims and their families. 25 Bahraini police men have been killed and 3,800 individuals have been injured in clashes with demonstrators since 2011. Don’t they have rights? Shouldn’t their killers be held accountable?

Iran’s ‘Revolutionary Guard’…a Terror Group?!

Iran

Looking into designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terror group is most definitely overdue.

Despite the unwarranted presence of Revolutionary Guard proxies abroad, chiefly prevalent in the Arab region, and their loud violations in Syria and Iraq, it is only now that the United States has considered studying the bill, which details were published earlier by Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, and was reintroduced by Senators Ted Cruz and Jim Inhofe on labeling the IRGC as a terrorist body.

Not only does the IRGC openly support the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah and the militarized Houthi-led coup in Yemen, but is also held responsible for the assassination of international diplomats. If that is not the very definition of terrorism, then what is?! Aside from Iran itself and allies, the radical nature of the guard is evident.

As the IRGC Terrorist Designation Act is reintroduced, companion bills made their way to the House. The bills aim to direct the State Department to hold accountable the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei –holding executive power over the Revolutionary Guard- and the IRGC, as a foreign entity managing extraterritorial operations unit the Quds Force, for adopting a violent ideology that threatens U.S. interests.

Hailing the success of the bill is premature — nevertheless, it is a positive step taken towards abolishing double-standards weighing down on the global fight against terrorism. The proposals require a report on whether IRGC-affiliated organizations meet the criteria to be designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, and if so, will enable the U.S. to take action that could stifle IRGC funding received to promote terrorist activities.

Reinstating the bill, although an earth-shattering progress, will not reach its full potential until it effectively establishes that the IRGC is in fact a terror group in and of itself, stripping it from the authoritative cloak it had been using to legitimize its actions.

The IRGC combines traditional military roles but focuses on opposition inside Iran that is considered as a domestic enemy. More so, the group is also Iran’s main connection to terrorist proxies, which the Iranian regime uses to boost its global influence with.

Such an entity should not be endowed with the merits brought about by sovereignty, allowing the cleric-led regime a free pass to integrating the Revolutionary Guard militias into the government.

The IRGC, by no means, is any less dangerous than other religion-styled terror group. Only more ‘evil’ and threatening, given that it enjoys an advantage groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS don’t have, which is state protection.

When it comes to keeping track of violent paramilitary militias backed by governments, the IRGC is not an exception but unfortunately the rule. An Amnesty International released report shows that Iraqi civilians, after escaping the horrors of war and ISIS tyranny, are facing the brutal revenge attacks at the hands of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).

Similar to the Revolutionary Guard, the PMU carries out human rights abuses against civilians under the umbrella of the government, supported by Iraqi authorities that have provided them with both funds and weapons.

What is more is that the Amnesty International report holds the Iraqi government responsible for crimes committed by the PMU, which indirectly also holds states arming the Iraqi government accountable to the violations.

Regrettably, sectarian bias still plays a major role when it comes to singling out terrorist groups, which counter-productively diminishes global efforts poured into combating terrorism.

It is certainly unbelievable that IRGC extraterrestrial proxies like ‘Hezbollah,’ the ‘Quds Force’ and other denominational militias fighting by the side of Syrian authoritarian Bashar al-Assad are still not listed down as international terrorist groups till this very moment.

Double standards surely feed into wars, regional tensions and chaos. The region remains captive to the ever-growing toll of terror and sectarian tensions, despite all efforts.

Terror is by no means relative to religious sects — any person who kills innocent humans is a terrorist, irrespective of the slayer being Sunni or Shi’ite. Whether it be ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah or Iraq’s PMU the horror of their crimes is all the same.

Terrorism will continue to anchor itself worldwide, so long that it still is defined by prejudiced terms and grotesquely exploited for the sake of international politics.