Archive for the ‘Bahrain’ category

It’s Time for Qatar to Stop Its Regional Meddling

September 1, 2017

It’s Time for Qatar to Stop Its Regional Meddling, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Abha Shankar, August 31, 2017

Tehran sees Bahrain as a historic part of Iran and sees Saudi efforts to suppress the Shiite popular revolt as an “invasion,” making Bahrain a proxy battleground for the regional rivals. Riyadh, in turn, accuses Doha of supporting Iran-allied rebels in Yemen, known as Houthis.

Qatar’s failure to stop colluding with destabilizing elements to pursue its regional ambitions will only end up throwing the Middle East into deeper chaos.

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Bahrain is threatening to file a complaint with the United Nations Security Council and the International Criminal Court against fellow Gulf state Qatar for supporting terrorism and interfering in Bahrain’s internal affairs.

Qatar has engaged in “fourth generation warfare crimes” to destabilize Bahrain, a senior official told the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news organization last week. “Fourth generation warfare” is described as “a concept of warfare that is decentralized, utilizes terrorism as a tactic and relies on media manipulation.”

A Bahraini TV documentary alleges that the Qatar-financed Academy of Change used “claims of peaceful activism” to push for regime change in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait.

The documentary, “Academy of Destruction,” aired confessions that key figures affiliated with the academy “were sent to Manama to execute the Qatari goal to spread incitement and chaos to topple the regime in Bahrain.”

The academy is headed by Hisham Morsi, the son-in-law of blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

Qatar’s financial backing of the global Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement and chummy ties with Iran have helped fuel regional unrest that threatens to destabilize existing regimes in the boycotting countries.

Doha’s meddling in the internal affairs of regional Arab states led Bahrain – along with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt – to impose an economic and diplomatic blockade in early June.

The boycotting countries issued a list of 13 demands to lift the embargo. Those demands call on Qatar to cut its support for the Muslim Brotherhood and scale down its ties with Iran.

Qatar rejected the demands saying they violate its sovereignty, causing the boycotting states to replace them with six broad principles urging Doha “to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of States and from supporting illegal entities.”

One alleged conspiracy had Qatar working with Iran to overthrow the Bahraini regime during the Arab Spring protests of 2011, Al Arabiya reported. Bahraini TV broadcast a recording alleged to be a conversation between Qatar’s former Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani and Bahraini Shia dissident Sheikh Ali Salman plotting to oust Bahrain’s ruling al-Khalifa family.

This revelation built upon an earlier report that Hamad bin Jassim masterminded a 2011 Qatar-sponsored initiative to work with Iran and Bahraini opposition groups, in particular Ali Salman’s Al-Wefaq Society, to foment unrest and destabilize the region.

The broader Iranian-Saudi struggle for Middle East dominance has made Doha’s cozy relationship with Tehran a point of contention with the Riyadh-led quartet. Bahrain holds Qatar responsible for “media incitement, support for armed terrorist activities and funding linked to Iranian groups to carry out sabotage and spreading chaos” in the island nation. Since a Saudi-led military intervention in Bahrain in 2011 sought to quell weeks of Shia-dominated demonstrations against the ruling al-Khalifa Sunni monarchy, the country has been hit by sporadic protests by its majority Shia community that were reportedly backed by Qatar.

Tehran sees Bahrain as a historic part of Iran and sees Saudi efforts to suppress the Shiite popular revolt as an “invasion,” making Bahrain a proxy battleground for the regional rivals. Riyadh, in turn, accuses Doha of supporting Iran-allied rebels in Yemen, known as Houthis.

Things came to a head between Qatar and the Saudi-led quartet in April when Doha agreed to pay $1 billion in ransom to Iranian security officials and an al-Qaida-affiliated Syrian Islamist group. The deal, reported to be “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” secured the release of 26 Qataris, including members of the royal family, kidnapped during a hunting trip to Iraq.

Problems with Qatar have been festering for some time. In 2013-2014, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani signed the Riyadh Agreements, but then failed to live up to its commitments. The agreements sought to build “a new phase of fraternal relations” and called on Qatar to stop supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar also promised not to support rebel factions fighting Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in Yemen and Egypt.

Neither pledge was fulfilled.

In addition to its ties to Iran, Qatar’s support for various Brotherhood movements is another sore point. Since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, Doha has gone all-out to embrace Muslim Brotherhood branches in Egypt, Gaza, Libya, Syria and Tunisia. The tiny but gas-rich Gulf state pumped billions of dollars into the former Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Egypt, armed and aided Islamist rebel factions in Libya and Syria, and pledged millions to the Brotherhood’s Palestinian terrorist offshoot Hamas. Its government-backed Al Jazeera news network has helped advance Islamist agendas and provided a platform to Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood dissidents from other Gulf countries and Egypt.

Although the UAE and Saudi Arabia had earlier embraced Muslim Brotherhood members fleeing repression in their home countries, the Gulf monarchies subsequently had a falling out with the Islamist movement after its local networks sought to politicize Islam. In a 2002 interview, the late Saudi Prince Nayef Bin Abdl Aziz famously alleged the Brotherhood sought to “politicize Islam for self-serving purposes” and claimed “that the root of all our problems and issues is the Muslim Brotherhood.”

In March 2011, several members of the UAE’s al-Islah organization signed a political petition that demanded “an elected parliament with legislative powers” leading to a major crackdown on the Islamist group. A Facebook group “The UAE Revolution” called for “a revolution against the era of Sheikhs, a revolution against oppression and suppression of freedoms in the UAE, a revolution against those who have looted from the people of the UAE.”

More than 65 members of al-Islah were sentenced up to 15 years in the UAE in July 2013 for plotting to overthrow the Gulf monarchy in a trial contested by human rights groups. In an opinion piece the previous month, Emirati political analyst Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi had called the Brotherhood “the greatest threat to the UAE” and urged the Gulf monarchy to “take immediate measures to show that it will not stand for such threats” from the Islamist movement.

Egypt turned into another battleground for the Gulf monarchies in the wake of the Arab Spring. Relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia became strained when a Muslim Brotherhood-led government came to power in Egypt in 2012. President Mohammad Morsi’s government backed uprisings against Arab monarchies and engaged in outreach to Riyadh’s arch rival Iran. Doha, on the other hand, provided Morsi’s government billions of dollars in aid. After the military ousted Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood-led government in July 2013, Saudi Arabia and the UAE together offered $8 billion in aid to help pump up the Egyptian economy. The Muslim Brotherhood was subsequently designated a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt.

Qatar’s maverick foreign policy seeks to use Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremists as strategic weapons to upend Saudi dominance and further destabilize the Middle East. The Muslim Brotherhood’s successes in overthrowing regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, and other places in its quest for a global Caliphate has Saudi Arabia and the UAE worried that Qatar’s support may invigorate the Brotherhood in the Gulf monarchies and create civil unrest.

Qatar just restored full diplomatic ties with Iran that broke off last year following attacks on Saudi diplomatic facilities in Tehran. Doha’s close ties to the Islamic Republic will ensure continued collaboration with Iran-backed terrorist groups in Saudi Arabia’s restive eastern region of Qatif and Bahrain. Doha will also continue supporting Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen complicating the existing political, military, and humanitarian crisis in the country, where a Saudi-led military intervention is underway.

Qatar points to “Saudi and Emirati hypocrisy” by arguing that both the Gulf monarchies have a “shameful history” of support for terror and extremism; so why is the island Gulf nation being singled out? But Doha misses a key point: The question is not so much about either side’s support for terror as it is about the bigger and more important issue of regional stability. Qatar needs to recognize this fact and refrain from falling victim to its contentious history and the ambitions of its post-1995 leadership that wants Doha to pursue an independent foreign policy and be a major power in the region. Qatar’s failure to stop colluding with destabilizing elements to pursue its regional ambitions will only end up throwing the Middle East into deeper chaos.

Iran’s Foiled Bahrain Plot

March 31, 2017

Iran’s Foiled Bahrain Plot, American ThinkerAmir Basiri, March 31, 2017

Members of an Iran-backed terrorist cell were arrested by Bahrain authorities over the weekend, all being accused of planning assassinations aimed at targeting senior government officials. There are reasons to believe this cell is responsible for a February bus bombing that left several policemen wounded.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) provided military training for six of the arrested suspects, while the Iraqi Hizb’allah terrorist organization — funded by Iran — trained five other members, according to the BNA, Bahrain’s state news agency. Three other cell members received their training inside Bahrain.

This occurred parallel to a call made by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan suggesting the Trump administration to issue further sanctions on Iran and most specifically target the IRGC, describing the entity as “Iran’s army of terror.”

The speaker went to make a very specific call that will raise the stakes with Iran and place the IRGC where it belongs.

“I think we should designate them as a terrorist organization,” he added.

 The Tunisian Foreign Ministry has also voiced its concerns and strongly condemned all measures causing insecurity and instability in Bahrain, and making it clear its government stands beside Manama.

According to a Bahrain Interior Ministry statement, two exiled Bahrain nationals currently living in Iran were coordinating the terrorist cell’s activities. Mortada Majid al-Sanadi is one such individual, who also happens to be designated as global terrorist by the U.S. State Department.

A similar IRGC and Lebanese Hizb’allah plot aimed at launching terrorist attacks across Bahrain was foiled by the country’s authorities.

Bahrain had in the past also arrested 47 individuals, all accused of having links to “terrorist elements in Iran,” who in November 2015 blueprinted plans to carry out imminent attacks throughout the country. Bahrain recalled its ambassador from Iran a month later in response to a raid targeting a bomb-making workshop discovered in Bahrain. A significant number of individuals were also arrested due to suspected ties with the IRGC.

Through the course of Sunday’s arrests, Bahrain security forces also seized a large quantity of explosives manufactured domestically, alongside communications equipment and different weapons, all from the homes of the detained suspects. Iranian sponsored proxies, not enjoying a remarkable report card, are now further accused of providing support to local Bahraini cells in building bombs.

Lebanese Hizb’allah leader Hassan Nasaralah has reportedly provided the main suspect in Sunday’s arrests, known as Ali Ahmed Fakhwari, a whopping $20,000 to provide necessary funding to wreak havoc through terrorist attacks across Bahrain, according to the wired BNA report.

Bahrain had earlier this month also announced the discovery of a 54-man group of individuals suspected of being involved in attacks targeting security forces. Such plots included planning a prison break in January and obtaining automatic weapons.

Iran has a history of plotting and conducting terrorist and sectarian attacks across the globe recently, mostly through a network of proxies including the likes of the Lebanese Hizb’allah, the IRGC Quds Force, Shiite extremists in Iraq, the Houthis in Yemen, and Shiite foot-soldiers dispatched from Pakistan and Afghanistan toSyria. Iran’s terror plots and attacks have targeted various countries including Cyprus, Egypt, Georgia, India, Thailand, and others. Hizb’allah was specifically accused of being behind a July 2012 bus bombing in Bulgaria, that resulted in five Israeli tourists and the driver being killed.

U.S. authorities were also able to foil an Iranian plot aimed at assassinating the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S. in Washington back in October 2011, while Iran was also pursuing plans to bomb the Israeli and Saudi embassies in the U.S. capital.

Former UN ambassador John Bolton recently put it best emphasizing how Iran is the world’s main state sponsor of terrorism. As the war against Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) ends in victory against the group, the regime in Iran should be next on the list, as Tehran arms and finances Sunni and Shiite terrorists under the banner of Islam, he said. The mullahs are truly the epicenter of a global terrorist network, Bolton added.

Recent developments emphasize how the spotlight needs to be shone on Iran and its dangerous meddling in the region, described by the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) as far more dangerous than the mullahs’ nuclear program.

As Speaker Paul Ryan explained, the NCRI in a recent statement also emphasized on the necessity to campaign “all assets to place the IRGC and all affiliated proxy groups in terrorist lists of the United Nations, United States and European Union; referring Iran’s Middle East crimes dossier to the UN Security Council; adopting binding resolutions to expel the IRGC and proxy groups from the region; and ending all political and economic relations with Tehran are amongst such measures.”

With crucial presidential elections just around the corner for Iran, rest assured the regime will resort to more such warmongering across the region in attempts to place a lid and cloak all domestic crises that bear the potential of inflating into 2009-like uprisings.

Iran’s latest terrorist plots

March 9, 2017

Iran’s latest terrorist plots, American ThinkerHeshmat Alavi, March 9, 2017

Iran is continuing its blatant belligerence against the international community, especially the Middle East, despite President Donald Trump and his administration threatening to take major action. During the past month alone Iran has test launched a number of ballistic missiles enjoying the capability of delivering a nuclear payload. This includes last weekend’s pair of ballistic missile launches.

Knowing its military capabilities are outdated and limited, Iran is resorting to a range of different terrorist measures in an attempt to maintain the leverage gained through the preposterous concessions they enjoyed during the Obama years.

The most recent scenario involves fast-attack vessels approaching a U.S. Navy surveillance ship in the Strait of Hormuz in a threatening manner described as “unsafe and unprofessional” in a recent statement.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, under major discussion in Washington to be designated as a foreign terrorist organization, has suffered a major blow after the discovery of a terrorist network in Bahrain. This unveils, yet again, further aspects of Iran’s unbridled meddling in the region.

The IRGC Bahrain network consists of 54 members focusing on planning and executing terrorist plots. To date, 25 such individuals have been arrested. These individuals were coordinating with Tehran to assassinate, terrorize, and target Bahrain security forces.

Following their raids, Bahrain authorities announced a significant cache of arms, explosives, and ammunition were also confiscated.

All individuals are reportedly Bahrain natives, further indicating the sophistication of Iran’s blueprints in using locals for such plots. Following their arrest, it was revealed the cells received support from both Iran and Lebanon, procuring arms or coordinates where such logistics were hidden. In the past weeks Bahrain witnessed two bomb blasts killing and injuring civilians, and most specifically, Shiite Muslims. This can be assumed as an attempt to instigate Shiite dissent in the small Gulf island.

It is crystal clear how the IRGC commanded this proxy group, as the individual calling the shots is currently in Iran. Other members of this group are even stationed in Iraq and directly involved in the attacks carried out in Bahrain.

Iran also has intentions to increase its use of suicidal drone boats in Yemen through the Houthi militias. The U.S. Navy command issued a recent warning over this threat against ships in the Red Sea. This warning follows a recent revelation of the Houthis obtaining drone boats in their attack against a Saudi Navy frigate.

Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan, commander of the Bahrain-based U.S. Fifth Fleet and head of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, accused Iran of supporting the Houthis in preparing such boats.

This new development can pose a major threat to shipping lines in strategic naval routes, Donegan said in an interview with Defense News, adding that terrorist groups can now obtain such lethal boats.

It is worth noting that the attack on the Saudi frigate Al-Madinah on January 30th was carried out with a remote-controlled drone suicide boat packed with explosives. This was the first such attack resembling actual suicide attacks in the past.

The U.S. has recently issued a warning that the Iran-backed Houthis and forces loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Salah are placing underwater mines in the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait passage near the entrance of Port Mokha.

The Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, narrowing to 25 kilometers in width at some points, is of grave importance for global shipping lines, providing access to the Red Sea, the Suez Canal, and the Mediterranean Sea. Much of the world’s oil and other goods are transferred through these very strategic waterways.

More than 60 ships containing commercial goods pass through the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait each day, carrying around 3.3 million barrels of crude oil. The U.S. Navy’s warning indicates the closing of such a crucial water passage can lead to major financial costs and a significant rise in global oil prices.

Further reports also indicate that Iran is having a tough time digesting a series of defeats suffered by the Houthis in Yemen. In response, Iran is weighing the possibility of dispatching Shiite militias from Iraq to Yemen, according to Khalij Online. As the fighting has decreased in Iraq, Tehran may dispatch units of the 140,000-strong Popular Mobilization Front, consisting of 54 different sectarian militia groups, to Yemen.

In an international scene undergoing drastic changes, all of them threatening Iran’s short and long-term interests, the mullahs in Tehran are desperately searching for a method to both keep a straight face and maintain their previous leverage across the Middle East.

Such developments gain even more importance as we inch closer to Iran’s presidential elections in May, when the regime in its entirety will face a major test.

Bribery: Clinton Approved Arms Sales After Big Clinton Foundation Donations from THIS Arab Nation

August 23, 2016

Bribery: Clinton Approved Arms Sales After Big Clinton Foundation Donations from THIS Arab Nation, Counter Jihad

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Yesterday Judicial Watch released emails showing that a Crown Prince of Bahrain was able to secure a meeting with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton through the Clinton Foundationafter being rejected by official State Department channels.  Today, the International Business Times follows up on that report by revealing that the timing of this meeting lined up with a sudden, and large, increase in arms sales to Bahrain.  Furthermore, this increase came in spite of Bahrain being engaged in massive human rights abuses and suppression of peaceful civilian protests.  Finally, Hillary Clinton’s lawyers destroyed the emails documenting this meeting without turning them over to the State Department.  These were among the emails destroyed as allegedly “personal.”

Now, Bahrain is an important regional ally of the United States.  The US 5th Fleet, also called NAVCENT as it is the fleet permanently assigned to US Central Command, is based out of Bahrain’s harbors.  Bahrain would thus ordinarily enjoy some US military arms sales, as well as occasional access to high level State Department officials.  However, in this case the State Department had already turned down the request for a meeting when it came through official channels.  So, Crown Prince Salman contacted the Clinton Foundation to ask them to get him a meeting anyway.

And they did.

Clinton Foundation top executive Doug Band personally contacted Hillary Clinton’s right hand woman, Huma Abedin, to request that she arrange the meeting in spite of official refusal.  Band described Crown Prince Salman as a “Good friend of ours,” and he certainly was that.  The Judicial Watch release details that Salman arranged more than thirty million dollars in donations to the Clinton Foundation.  From the perspective of the State Department, he was just another Arab prince.  From the perspective of the Clinton Foundation, he was a good friend who needed special treatment.  He got it.

He got more than that, too, according to the Times.

Soon after the correspondence about a meeting, Clinton’s State Department significantly increased arms export authorizations to the country’s autocratic government, even as that nation moved to crush pro-democracy protests….  As Bahrain money flowed into the Clinton Foundation, State Department documents showed that between 2010 and 2012 the Clinton-led State Department approved $630 million worth of direct commercial arms sales to Salman’s military forces in Bahrain. That was a 187 percent increase from the period 2006 to 2008, and the increase came as Bahrain was violently suppressing uprisings.

During those Arab Spring uprisings of 2011 — when Bahrain was accused of using tear gas on its own people — the Clinton-led State Department approved more than $70,000 worth of arms sales classified as “toxicological agents.”

In addition to that, there were sales of armored vehicles, missiles, ammunition, and more.  The sale faced intense opposition in Congress, especially given Bahrain’s ongoing massacres of its own citizens in its streets merely for peacefully protesting the government.

But the Crown Prince wanted his meeting, and he wanted his arms, and he got both because he was a good friend of the Clinton Foundation.

Not that the public would have known this, but for the FBI investigation.  Clinton’s lawyers deleted these emails without turning them over to the State Department, though it turns out that they are clearly public records that explain just how a momentous decision was made on a major arms deal.

In spite of that, the FBI recommended no prosecution.