Dutch Scholar Nikolaos van Dam: Syria in Dilemma

Dutch

London- Syria is in a dilemma since the regime is unwilling to allow any true participation in the authority and the only way to change the regime was through military intervention – which has brought disasters in other countries, said Dutch scholar Nikolaos van Dam to Asharq Al-Awsat.

However, he added that the fact that western states have changed their attitude towards Bashar al-Assad and accepted that he remains during the transitional phase opens the door to test the settlement.

“Everyone who knows Syria and its regime’s structure is aware that Assad will stay unless obliged by military force to leave,” said van Dam as he differentiated between the Syrian regime and other regimes with two things: the formation of armed forces and intelligence bodies and the minority intellect.

“When the minority senses that it is threatened – whether true or not – it becomes more coherent,” he added.

Yet, van Dam who published his book “The Struggle for Power in Syria” decades before, pointed out that the regime is no more fortified against the interior.

“Many in the regime and army are discontent of how things went. There is always a possibility of something happening, but the problem is that the Alawite captains are the most capable to carry out a coup… If they do so, will they get full support from the army?” he questioned.

One of the suggested resolutions for Syria is to adopt administration decentralization with keeping centralization in Damascus, van Dam added as he stressed that the regime won’t approve anything that threatens its power.

He was previously a Dutch Ambassador to Egypt and Turkey and a former envoy to Syria – he also published lately his book “Destroying a Nation”.

“How do you see the fact that British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson accepted the departure of Assad within a transitional phase while his French counterpart said that the priority is to fight ISIS?” asked Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

“They should have thought of this six years ago because one of the difficulties in the Syrian negotiations is the pre-condition of Assad absence. With such a condition, Assad won’t accept to negotiate,” he replied.

“But the case was different in 2011, there was an Arab Spring,” commented the newspaper. He replied, “True, it was different and there was no bloodshed. They said that Assad is illegal and should depart but this is wrong – in my opinion. Everyone who knows Syria and its regime structure would be aware that this wont happen if not forced militarily.”

“Western states thought that Assad will depart as Hosni Mubarak and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali did,” he continued.

“How does the Syrian regime structure differ from that of other regimes, Tunisia for example?” the newspaper asked.

The reply was, “The main difference lies in the formation of armed forces, intelligence bodies and key positions. They are all connected directly or indirectly to Assad. Further, they are connected to the minority intellect… The structure differs from the Tunisian and Egyptian ones – the Syrian regime has half a century of experience in eradicating opposition.”

The newspaper asked, “The biggest question is: Is forming a joint military council the solution?” The answer came as follows, “between the regime and the opposition, yes, such as the Free Syrian Army.”

Commenting on the concerns over dividing Syria, he assured that both the regime and opposition want a unified Syria, but they wanted it under their control. He also reiterated what has been mentioned in his book that the western states have given a wrong impression, making the opposition sense that they abandoned them.

“How do you view Syria in 2021?”

“Assad wants to stay until then. I see 2021 as an opportunity to hold elections and change the regime… Assad is not irreplaceable. If he departs, there must come a president capable of changing and developing the country,” said van Dam.

Self-Censorship: Silencing the Voice to Stay Alive

journalism

New York – Journalism is a profession of relaying facts and documenting the news whether through the lens of a mobile phone during an Arab Spring demonstration or an in-depth report that uncovers corruption at European banks or a blog that speaks of the suffering of a hungry town in Africa.

It is a difficult profession wherever it may be. It is rife with dangers, red lines and challenges. The journalist makes major sacrifices in exchange for publishing his work, which may expose his family to danger and end his life.

The circle of freedom of the press has become smaller today and the faces of censorship have increased. They may change from one region to the other, but they have in all cases hindered publication and doubled the violations. We now comfortably receive the news through a quick google search or a tour of twitter. What if we however stopped for a moment and thought of the army of reporters, those journalists under fire or behind bars, wherever they may be. Who documents their journey? Who defends their rights? Who will restore their silenced voice?

Faces of censorship

I tried to find the answers to my questions. I did not imagine that I would find most of them on Manhattan’s 7th avenue in central New York. Up in a skyscraper, on the 11th floor specifically, lies the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Formed by a number of journalists in 1981 to protect their colleagues, the committee is one of the most prominent defenders of freedom in the world. It is exerting efforts for a world where journalists can work without fear or threats in all corners of the globe. These are noble goals that may be impossible to achieve in our time. The most important product of the committee is its annual guide, “Attacks on the Press.” The book monitors the greatest challenges that journalists have faced throughout a year. The 2017 edition focused on the “new face of censorship.”

“We chose to highlight the new faces of censorship in this year’s edition because it is a serious issue as different parts of the world are witnessing a decrease in press freedom, especially in countries that have been known for their freedom, such as Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, Kenya and others.” This is the answer I received from CPJ’s Communications Officer Kerry Paterson when I sat down with her over cup of coffee at her office away from the hustle and bustle of the street.

Paterson spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat about the change in the concept of censorship. She believes that the term now has a broader meaning that has made it more vague. The threat to withdraw ads from newspapers in Kenya is a form of censorship, the blocking of websites by some governments is also a form of censorship, threats to journalists is also another form. The most disconcerting censorship however, is “self-censorship” that some journalists may have to practice out of fear for their lives, she explained.

New definition of the journalist

The turbulent political climate in most parts of the world has forced journalists to work in dangerous conditions, especially in conflict zones. Paterson revealed that 88 percent of journalists who were killed in the field over the past year were locals, not foreign correspondents.

CPJ’s annual survey said that 36 journalists lost their lives in war since the beginning of the year. In 2016, 48 journalists were killed around the world and 259 were imprisoned. Sevety-two journalists were killed in 2015 and 61 in 2014.

The widening of the scope of Middle Eastern conflicts, the importance of spreading information and the diversity of sources have also altered the concept of journalism and the journalist. In this regard, Paterson said that “we have become flexible in our definition of the journalist.”

“For example, the reporter who practices accurate and independent journalistic work, but whose only outlet is his Facebook page as a result of his country’s restrictions, is considered a journalist,” she added.

She gave the example of a journalist who used to work at a radio station in the Congo, who when the station closed its doors, decided to carry a megaphone and roam the streets of his town to report the news. He died while doing his job.

CPJ is a research-based organization that offers services to journalists in every sense of the word, whether in providing financial, medical or even judicial aid or even helping them escape a conflict zone after receiving threats.

Paterson referred me to her colleague Sahrif Mansour when I asked her about specific cases in the Middle East.

Glimpse inside the Middle East

Self-censorship is the product of fear. Fear from the punishment of governments and terror from death threats that the journalist receives from extremist organizations in the Middle East, such as ISIS and its ilk. This is indirect censorship that forces the reporter to stop his writing out of fear for his life.

In the Middle East, specifically after the Arab Spring, the region witnessed for the first time several outlets to exchange information and news in the region. In the countries of the Arab Spring, the citizens took the decision to risk their lives to spread their opinions and what they see and hear about issues that ignited their revolutions. This is how Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa coordinator, took me back to 2011 in describing the atmosphere at the time.

Mansour told Asharq Al-Awsat that the revolution led to the birth of the citizen journalist and media activist. They did not receive any professional support or training to work in journalism, but many of them took the risk and some of them paid the price.

According to Mansour, over 100 journalists were killed in Syria, most of them youths, while covering demonstrations or developments linked to the armed conflict in their country. The same can be said of Iraq, Libya and Yemen. Several of the activists and journalists who were killed were working in media that was broadcast on the internet and that depended on volunteers who had not received prior training or who did not have any experience in covering wars.

Life line

CPJ does not offer training courses, even though it tries despite poor resources, but it works on saving journalists’ lives. The committee intervenes when traditional methods are useless, especially when dealing with non-government parties, such as armed factions. In the Middle East, said Mansour, CPJ focuses on helping journalists who are in danger, whether through offering any form of medical or legal help or financial aid to allow them to leave conflict areas. Some of the support could take the form of facilitations to obtain a residency for those seeking to immigrate to the US or Europe where they may continue to carry out their journalistic work.

CPJ’s role is not limited to preserving the lives and security of the journalists in the real world, but it also offers protection in the virtual world and the internet. Mansour said that the committee intervenes when a journalist is hacked or if his social media accounts are blocked, suspended or compromised.

In regards to the safety of journalism, he revealed that CPJ is in the process of launching a daily report on the operation to liberate Syria’s Raqqa from ISIS.

“We will work on raising awareness and issuing special safety alerts on areas that journalists should avoid,” Mansour said. CPJ will also explain the types of precautions that should be taken should journalists report from these areas. These precautions include knowing where the nearest hospital or the closest evacuation route is. CPJ has helped over 120 Syrian journalists, who were forced to leave their country and it helped them settle down in their new location.

Loss of security

These challenges may discourage a journalist no matter how much he may believe in his cause. These challenges also have psychological effects as well. Mansou explained that several journalists, especially those who covered conflict zones suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other forms of psychological disturbances caused by their work in violent zones.

Despite the challenges, the phenomenon of citizen journalists distinguished the countries of the Arab Spring. The journalist may choose a pseudonym or a blogger activist may choose to write with caution out of fear of losing everything, but they still persevere.

Arab Revolutions in Israeli Eyes

Israel

Beirut – The Institute for Palestine Studies (IPS) recently released a new book “Israeli Vision for conflicts in the Middle East and their repercussions on Israel’s security: studies by Israeli generals and researchers”.

Edited by Ahmed Khalifa and adapted by Randa Haidar, the book shows that since the beginning of the so-called “Arab Spring”, massive turmoil has ignited and dominated the region. Countries were devastated, peoples were displaced, regimes were toppled and maps have been redrawn.

This turmoil and their deadly impacts still disturb the intellectual and political circles in the world.

Israeli centers of studies and research and the Israeli media have been highly concerned in observing the ongoing developments in the Arab world and the Middle East, analyzing them, and anticipating their repercussions on Israel.

It also focused on what the Zionist entity should do to face the threats driven by those developments. Many renowned Israeli researchers, politicians and military figures partook in tracking these developments.

The Institute for Palestine Studies closely monitored the publications of Israeli researches, studies and media outlets about this topic. The team assigned to tackle this mission collected hundreds of studies and thousands of articles that reflect and define the general aspects of Israeli thinking.

It is known that the political and security commands in Israel have often benefited from the analyses and recommendations of the studies issued by the specialized academic and strategic centers to understand their reactions and policies.

Putin Vows to Prevent ‘Color Revolutions’

Russia

Moscow – Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev had both set the “color revolutions” next to international terrorism on the top of the list of dangers that threaten the stability and security of former Soviet republics.

Given the support of US for the revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia, Russian officials are threatening against “color revolutions.”
The term “color revolutions” is used to describe various public movements against governmental practices. Revolutions against injustice and dictatorship in the Middle East are described as part of the “colored revolutions”

It was crucial to prevent it from moving on to Soviet countries in political situations similar to that of many Arab countries, according to Russian officials.

Putin vowed that Russia will not allow external forces to destabilize its internal politics through protests and violence, and will protect its allies from this threat.

The Russian president told the Mir 24 broadcaster that Moscow is aware of “various theories that are being implemented in different regions of the world, leading to serious destabilization in these regions.”

He added that Russia will try to prevent color revolutions within the country and in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) member states.

The Collective Security Treaty was signed in 1992 and the organization itself was set up 10 years later. The CSTO, which is comprised of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, regularly holds military drills on the territories of its member states.

When asked if one was to set a list of threats against CSTO members, Putin said that primarily there would be terrorism and extremism on top, followed by drug trafficking and crimes.

“The effective way to fight against such threats, starting for us, is to join efforts. We proposed to join efforts on the global scale. You do know that I voiced this proposal addressing the United Nations. In any case, considering the regional scale, we are capable of it (fighting threats) and as it had been proved, we are capable of doing it quite effectively,” the Russian leader stated.

“We know various theories that are being implemented in various parts of the world and lead to serious instability in these regions. Of course we must not allow anything of this sort and we will by all means take appropriate actions in Russia and support our partners in the CSTO,” Putin told the Mir TV channel.

Similarly, President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev believes that these revolutions are US meddling in other countries’ affairs.

“We are still witnessing attempts by the West to impose some kind of their own rules and values ​​without taking into account the mentality of the people and nature of societies and without considering the level of development reached by that country,” said Atambayev.

President of Kyrgyzstan added that an intervention will lead to a situation similar to the one seen today in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

President Atambayev hoped that the new US administration would continue with the Trump’s plan which called against intervention in other states’ affairs.

Atambayev believes that if the US committed to that idea, the threats against the CST would be less.

“Russia is vitally interested in the stability on the post-Soviet area,” Putin said, adding that: “the less the number of threats emerging from various directions on Russia, the more our joint actions are effective – the better.”

The Russian president reiterated the importance of ending corruption adding that certain political parties are taking advantage of that to create chaos in the country especially that they are close to elections.

The desire to stop the Arab Spring revolutions was one of the reasons that led to the formation of the Russian stance on the Syrian crisis.

Earlier, Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoygu said that Russian troops’ interference in Syria, helped in the geo-political solution by stopping the series of color revolutions that invaded the Middle East and North Africa. During a session held by the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Shoygu accused the Arab Spring of using violence as a primary method to achieve its goals.

Iranian Militias in Bahrain

Bahrain

The quiet kingdom on the Arabian Gulf has experienced a tough crisis over six years of chaos, explosions and sabotage. Bahrain has been shouting loud for six years: This is not a revolution nor a peaceful protest, but a riot supported by Iran.

The West, however, only sees what it wants to see. Even worse, the administration of former US President Barack Obama abandoned its closest ally and the Fifth Fleet of the United States Navy – it also blinded itself to the facts.

But the facts are finally being revealed to the western governments– they themselves are admitting, for the first time, that there are criminal acts by which Iran is endeavoring to form militias in Bahrain.

The Washington Post has published documents and interviews with former and current intelligence officials on a detailed training program by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to train its Bahraini members on building advanced bombs and waging guerrilla warfare.

European and American analysts now see a mounting threat since Iranian-funded and -armed cells are emerging. The Washington Post intelligence report also revealed that over the past three years, a huge quantity of modern weapons and military grade bombs have been discovered in Bahrain, all of which have most certainly been made by Iran.

At any rate, what the western intelligence considers as a newly-discovered major surprise has been known and backed with evidence since the eruption of the riots in February 2011. The Iranian exploitation of these acts to picture them as another form of the “Arab Spring” has also been known.

In fact, the Iranian regime had itself made this admission when in March 2016, Senior IRGC Saeed Qassimi openly declared “Bahrain an Iranian province that had broken away from our country due to colonization.” He added that Iran is now a base to support “the revolution in Bahrain”.

The belated western confession that the developments in Bahrain are neither a revolution nor an “Arab Spring” is a new western failure in analyzing, reading and taking decisions in the region.

It is true that the Trump administration is keen on setting things right through imposing sanctions on two Bahraini individuals who have been designated as terrorists on the US terrorism list. The US Department of State pointed out clearly that the designation came after the “escalation of rebel attacks in Bahrain, where Iran provided arms, funds and training for the rebels.”

The Bahraini kingdom has however witnessed serious losses and has been suffering for six years from organizations, associations and western parliaments that depended on the wrong stances of their governments. This led to the acquittal of the criminals and the indictment of the victims and caused unjustified international pressure. This complicated the Bahraini crisis, which was not a revolution, but a riot backed by the Iranian regime’s money and arms.

The West’s confession, although very late, is an opportunity for Bahrain to face all these rights and humanitarian organizations that overlooked all the human rights violations in all the conflict zones around the world and focused only on Bahrain.

It is time to confront these organizations with their own weapons: the intelligence reports that they have long used as an excuse, even if in most cases they were used for political, not rights, purposes.

Yemen: Two Years in Confronting Iran

Yemen

The Houthis and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s seize of the Yemeni capital Sana’a through the power of arms was the end of the Yemenis’ peaceful uprising and the beginning of the war.

Back then, I had no doubt that it would be a long and harsh war – for a couple of reasons – including that the former president still had control over the armed forces and that Houthis receive instructions form Iran, not to mention the absence of central authority in Yemen and the country’s rough terrains.

Iranians did not hide their involvement in the war, since its early stages, because it saw that it was a regional war. They consider that raging a war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen is part of a geopolitical balance in Syria and Bahrain’s conflicts.

Although many observers denied this probability and mocked it in the beginning, they later admitted the Iranian involvement – Tehran, interestingly, did not conceal that.

Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries have no other option in Yemen but to face the Iranians who are fighting through Houthis and Saleh militias. Also, some Iranian militants were arrested in the fighting zones.

This war is to defend the Gulf countries against Iran’s pursuit to expand and threat its neighbors.

The missiles fired by Houthis on the Saudi kingdom have proven the concerns expressed in the beginning of the war that Saleh and Houthis have a missile system that jeopardizes the security of Saudi Arabia.

Later on, the international maritime forces captured missiles on Iranian ships heading towards Yemeni ports — similar missiles are being used to target southern regions in Saudi Arabia.

Now two years since the Yemeni war has started, it would be good to remember some facts that often disperse during the war.

Firstly, Saleh was ousted and the new political situation was established by the Yemeni people when they turned against him due to the failure of his tenure – one of the longest and the most failing tenures worldwide.

Changing the regime was not a wish or a plan put by the GCC countries but an outcome to the Arab Spring that toppled rulers: Saleh in Yemen, Gaddafi in Libya, Mubarak in Egypt and Ben Ali in Tunisia.

After the uprising’s arrival to Sana’a and out of fears over chaos, the UN pursued managing the situation through appointing secretary general’s special envoy for Yemen who is assigned to maintain national peace and to propose a political project – endorsed by the Gulf countries, the US and the European Group.

The resolution was represented in a democratic regime to be achieved through selecting the presidency and the parliament. It was endorsed by all Yemeni parties and, subsequently, a temporary transitional government for 18 months was formed to prepare the constitution and elections.

During this period, Saleh and Houthis plotted the coup and took over Yemen, arresting the majority of ministers and political leaders.

The only solution for the military coup in Yemen was to respond militarily after the rebels rejected all international mediation and additional concessions granted to them. They insisted on laying hands on the leadership and keeping their weapons – similar to the condition of “Hezbollah” in Lebanon.

Yemen’s war, like other wars in the region, is not a conflict between locals but is funded and plotted by regional forces – Iran on top of them, insisting to expand its power and besieging its neighbors.

War was painfully and sorrowfully imposed on Yemenis, as well as Saudis. It is unacceptable to permit the Iranian regime to use Yemen as a base to attack its neighbor country, without facing it militarily.

Egypt’s Mubarak Freed from Detention

Hosni Mubarak, former Egyptian autocrat ousted in the events of the 2011 Arab Spring, was freed Friday from the military hospital. Mubarak had spent most of the past six years in detention.

The release of the 88-year-old who ruled Egypt for three decades would have been unthinkable several years ago, but revolutionary fervor gave way to exhaustion and even nostalgia in the uprising’s chaotic aftermath.

His lawyer Farid al-Deeb told AFP that the former president had gone home to a villa in Cairo’s Heliopolis district.

Mubarak had reportedly suffered health problems during his detention. He was briefly imprisoned until he slipped in a prison shower and was then transferred to the military hospital.

Mubarak was accused of inciting the deaths of protesters during the 18-day revolt, in which about 850 people were killed as police clashed with demonstrators.

He was sentenced to life in jail in 2012 in the case, but an appeals court ordered a retrial which dismissed the charges two years later.

Egypt’s top appeals court on March 2 acquitted him of involvement in the killings.

Throughout his trial prosecutors had been unable to provide conclusive evidence of Mubarak’s complicity — a result, lawyers said, of having hastily put together the case against him in 2011 following demonstrations.

In January 2016, the appeals court upheld a three-year prison sentence for Mubarak and his two sons on corruption charges.

But the sentence took into account time served. Both of his sons, Alaa and Gamal, were freed.

On Thursday, a court ordered a renewed corruption investigation into Mubarak for allegedly receiving gifts from the state owned Al-Ahram newspaper. He is also banned from travel.

During his detention, Mubarak had remained defiant and denied wrongdoing.

“When I heard the first verdict I laughed. I said: ‘Ha!’,” he told a private broadcaster after his 2012 sentencing.

“I did nothing wrong at all,” he said.

People’s Movement Leader: Ennahdha-Social Liberal Coalition Threatens Democracy in Tunisia

Unemployed protesters shout slogans during a demonstration demanding the government provide them with job opportunities, as Tunisia marks the sixth anniversary of Tunisia's 2011 revolution, in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Amine Ben Aziza

Tunisia- Leader of the People’s Movement Zuhair Maghzawi criticized limiting the political operation in Tunisia to two parties: Ennahdha Party and Social Liberal Party. He considered this a misunderstanding of the political map following the 2011 revolution and disclosed intentions to stage a coup.

Maghzawi stated to Asharq Al-Awsat that the People’s Movement is willing to nominate a candidate from its members to run for the coming presidential elections, stressing that the return of thousands of Tunisian fighters to the country represents a serious threat to national security and that of neighboring countries.

“Where does the People’s Movement stand from the Tunisian political scene?” asked the newspaper.

“The nature of our suggestions and programs in facing choices of the ruling coalition makes us place ourselves in the social democratic opposition. However this position didn’t prevent us from interacting positively with the initiative of the president, in June 2016, to form a national unity government before the president, himself, contradicted his own initiative,” answered Maghzawi.

Asharq Al-Awsat asked, “What is your stance towards the current coalition between Ennahdha Party and Social Liberal Party? Do you consider it a way to achieve political transformation or a stumbling block to the political development in the country?”

Leader of the People’s Movement answered, “Before the previous parliamentary elections, we [in the party] described this coalition as a combination of opposites because the two parties have different ideologies but share the same proposals in social and economic fields. I see that if this coalition continues, it will pose a threat on the transfer of democracy in Tunisia because international supporters behind these two parties aim to limit the political operation in Tunisia to them.”

“How do you view the Arab Spring revolutions? Can they be used to consolidate democracy in the Arab world?” asked the newspaper.

“What popular movements lacked was leadership – In Egypt and Tunisia, it was more like a national revolution that focused on ousting the regime without having a clear and ready substitute to prevent the return of figures from previous regimes. As for Libya, Syria and Yemen it is not the same case and parties supporting the movements there are ample proof,” replied Maghzawi.

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?

Fears on ‘Arab Spring’ Seeping into Algeria

Algeria

Algeria- Seven years ago, a regional wave of protests to topple authoritarian regimes in the Arab world came to be known as the ‘Arab Spring.’

The same popular uprisings against corruption in power have become a great threat to order in the North African state Algeria.

Algeria’s government loudly sounded its concerns following street protests that witnessed acts of arson and vandalism of public and private property.

Imams across the nation have complied with the government’s request on delivering a Friday speech which raises awareness on the down side to compromising national security. Imams are the religious priests which not only lead prayers at mosques but also deliver speeches concerning the Muslim community.

All Imams had received a statement from the Ministry of Religious Affairs on Thursday night which gave a number of directives that strongly stress the importance of security and stability, also as a core principal to Sharia law, and a religious duty that falls upon all citizens.

The directives relayed to national Mosques keep in line with the strong language used by Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal when commenting on the protests ripping through eastern provinces on Monday and Tuesday.

Speaking during a ceremony for the 2015 copyrights fee payments at the Culture Palace in Algiers, the Premier said that “unknown parties are behind the recent protests that occurred in some regions of the country, notably in Bejaia, and which try to destabilize the country.”

In his first remarks since the outbreak of these protests, Sellal said that “Algeria is a stable country,” and that “any attempts to destabilize it will not be successful,” adding that these protests “are not related to the Arab Spring.”

The State “will block any attempt aiming the destabilization of Algeria,” he underscored.

Describing those incidents as “positive lessons” which will incite his government to work more, the minister welcomed the position taken by the Algerian youth and families, and the reactions of the organizations and the political parties-from all tendencies- which have shown “political maturity during these incidents.”