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Entries in Alistair Burt (12)


Bahrain Propaganda 101: The Regime Turns Britain's Criticism Into Praise

Claimed footage of police beating protester after funeral of a political prisoner, 3 October 2012

Consider this press release from the Bahrain News Agency on a statement on Friday by Hague's deputy, Minister of State Alistair Burt:

"He hailed the formation of the ombudsman at the Interior Ministry to probe complaints and grievances and supervising inquiries, pointing out that the issues revealed in the BICI report would require a long time to address."

Now consider what Burt actually wrote:

"We are concerned by some of the recent decisions taken by the Bahraini Government, particularly on human rights, and we’re clear that there are areas where progress on implementation has been too slow and others where it is lacking."

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Bahrain, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: "All Rallies and Gatherings Are Illegal"

See also Yemen Opinion: Questioning Washington's Model of Drones and Permanent War
Monday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A "Ceasefire" Ends

2121 GMT: Syria. The Local Coordination Committees claim that 134 people have been killed today, including 50 in Idlib Province --- most from shelling of insurgent-held Ma'aret Al-Numan and attacks on Saraqeb and Kafar Batekh --- and 43 in Damascus and its suburbs.

1929 GMT: Bahrain. Russia Today discusses the banning of all protests in Bahrain:

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Annan "The Evidence Shows We Have Not Succeeded"

Claimed video of protests in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province tonight (see 2050 and 2105 GMT)

See also Syria Propaganda 101: How PR Firm Brown Lloyd James Polished the Regime's Image
Saturday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: 89 Deaths, 672 Protests, and a "Liberated" Regime Convoy

2050 GMT: Saudi Arabia. The Minister of Interior has confirmed that prominent Shi’a Muslim cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was arrested in Eastern Province late Sunday after he was shot in the leg by police.

Reports of the Sheikh's arrest brought demonstrations in the mostly Shi’a Qatif region of the Eastern Province, which has been the focal point of protests alleging discrimination.

The Ministry claimed, “When the aforementioned person [al-Nimr] and those with him tried to resist the security men and initiated shooting and crashed into one of the security patrols while trying to escape, he was dealt with in accordance with the situation and responded to in kind and arrested after he was wounded in his thigh."

Al-Nimr was taken to hospital and accused of sedition. He was previously detained for several days in 2004 and 2006

“They (police) took him from his car and blood can be seen near his car,” said his brother Mohammed al-Nimr. “He had been wanted by the interior ministry for a couple of months because of his political views. In the past couple of months he has adopted a lot of Shi’ite issues and expressed his views on them, demanding their rights."

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The Latest from Iran (19 June): An Opening at the Nuclear Talks?

See also Iran Feature: The Week in Civil Society --- #RememberIran, Arrest of Labour Activists, House of Cinema Closed
Iran Audio Analysis: The Moscow Nuclear Talks --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24
Remember Iran: An EA Special --- Three Years Ago Today, The Supreme Leader Draws the Line on Protests
Remember Iran Flashback: 19 June 2009 Live Coverage --- The Supreme Leader Declares "The Outcome is Final"
The Latest from Iran (18 June): The Nuclear Talks in Moscow

2010 GMT: CyberWar Watch. "Western officials" have told Washington Post reporters that the US and Israel jointly developed the Flame computer virus, operating for several years but recently exposed.

Flame, which mined data, was designed to map Iran’s computer networks and monitor them, sending back a steady stream of intelligence for an ongoing cyberwarfare campaign. That campaign included the Stuxnet virus, which has caused malfunctions in computers linked to Iran’s nuclear programme.

Iranian authorities revealed last month that Flame had been used against computers for the country's oil industry. The Western officials said that was a unilateral Israeli operation of which the US had no knowledge.

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The Latest from Iran (11 May): The Battle Within

"Naqi", the song that led to an Ayatollah's call for the death of rapper Shahin Najafi (see 0620 and 1200 GMT)

See also Iran Snap Analysis: Isolating Ahmadinejad
The Latest from Iran (10 May): Supreme Leader Comments on Detained Mousavi and Karroubi

2035 GMT: At the Book Fair. The next level of censorship at the 25th Tehran International Book Fair....

After at least 11 publishers were banned from the exhibition, another six booths have been shut down for inappropriate displays. Two reportedly had posters of Nashr Cheshmeh, one of the banned publishers. Another had a posted of the famous Persian king Cyrus.

1720 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Nothing distinctive in the President's speech during his promotional tour in northeastern Iran (see 1400 GMT)....

Speaking in Rashtkhvar, Ahmadinejad says the West should drop its “bullying” stance: “If the Iranian nation makes up its mind to do something, all devils and ill-wishers of the world cannot make them backtrack on their resolve."

The President continued that worship of the Devil, wealth, power, or worldly whims instead of God was the root cause of all human problems: “If the world powers worship the Almighty God, they will not make stockpiles of nuclear and chemical arsenals and will not try to occupy other territories.

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Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Scepticism About Reforms

Armoured vehicles move through Sanabis in Bahrain today

See also Bahrain Follow-Up: Humpty Dumpty and the Regime's Friends in the US Congress
Mauritania Feature: The Popular Unrest Grows
Syria Wired: The Latest from Social Media and EA's Readers
Turkey Live Coverage (4 April): A "Casus Belli" for Syria?
Tuesday's Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: 70+ Dead, 70+ Bodies Found as Homs Hospital "Liberated"

1925 GMT: Former Formula 1 champion Damon Hill has expressed concern over the staging of the Bahrain Grand Prix, ""It would be a bad state of affairs, and bad for Formula One, to be seen to be enforcing martial law in order to hold the race. That is not what this sport should be about."

In February, Hill had appeared to support the staging of the race, "There are sincere efforts to resolve the difficulties. There has been a change. Human rights organisations say there is a process in place to help Bahrain recover its reputation."

However, Hill, who won the title in 1996, said today, "Things are different now. The protests have not abated and may even have become more determined and calculated. It is a worrying state of affairs."

1845 GMT: Over the past two days, we have raised questions about the current trip of four members of the US Congress to Bahrain, a visit used by the regime as a public-relations bonanza. Now one of the four legislators, Democrat Jim Himes, has posted messages on Twitter:

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The Latest from Iran (4 February): Missing the Story on the Supreme Leader

See also Iran Video Challenge: Can You Poke Fun at Israel's Mossad and Explosions at Nuclear Plants?
Iran Snap Analysis: The Supreme Leader --- Strong Abroad, Weak at Home
The Latest from Iran (3 February): The Supreme Leader's Friday Prayer

1746 GMT: Threat of the Day. According to Aftab, President Ahmadinejad has said at a private meeting with politicians, "I have two 45-minute tapes on my desk from a political meeting on 8 Bahman 1388 (28 January 2010) that prove sedition against the Government and [Ahmadinejad's Chief of Staff Esfandiar] Rahim-Mashai."

What could be on those tapes? Well, here is what EA reported, in an exclusive story, on 23 January:

Sometime after the demonstrations of Ashura (27 December), three well-placed Iranian politicians met to discuss current events. The protests, with their scenes of violence and, in some cases, the retreat of Iranian security forces before the opposition, had been unsettling, raising fears not only that the challenge would persist but that the authority of the Government might collapse.

The three men were 1) Ali Larijani, the Speaker of the Parliament; 2) Mohsen Rezaei, former head of the Revolutionary Guard, former Presidential candidate, and Secretary of the Expediency Council; and 3) Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, Mayor of Tehran.

The meeting reached agreement on a general two-step strategy. First, the crisis with the opposition would be "solved", either through a resolution with its leaders or by finally suppressing it out of existence. Then, there would be a political campaign to get rid of the unsettling influence of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Each of the three men brought not ideas but key groups to the table. Larijani, of course, commanded a good deal of backing in Parliament and was close to the Supreme Leader. Rezaei not only had the background in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps but also, in the Expediency Council, worked with Hashemi Rafsanjani. Qalibaf, although mostly quiet during the post-election crisis, had the base of support from his solid reputation overseeing Tehran.

(It is likely, according to sources, that Rafsanjani knows of the plan, especially given the connection with Rezaei. It is unclear whether the Supreme Leader knows its details.)

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Middle East Feature: Britain Accused of Hypocrisy Over Arms Sales (Dugan)

A "Throne" of Tear Gas CanistersThe British Government was accused of "a brazen return to business as usual"..., after licensing exports of weapons worth millions of pounds to regimes accused of repression, including Egypt and Bahrain. The permits were granted just months after ministers said they would "carefully review" licenses for countries that met protest with violence.

Arms approved for export by the UK last autumn include rifles, sniper sights, combat vehicle parts, artillery technology and gun silencers.

The revelation comes after David Cameron's visit to Saudi Arabia...was marred by questions over Britain's continued export of arms to the kingdom, which has been accused of human rights violations. Despite unrest in Saudi Arabia last year, the UK sold the regime bomb equipment, weapons sights and components for military vehicles and helicopters.

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Syria, Egypt, Bahrain (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Beyond a "Return" to Protest

Egyptian military drag, and disrobe a female protester

See also Bahrain Video Special: The Police Attack Protesters at Budaiya
Friday's Bahrain, Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: The Beat Goes On --- Anticipating Friday's Protests

2100 GMT: One Egyptian soldier beats a protester while another soldier wields a handgun:

2005 GMT: An EA source is reporting another death from the activities of the security forces in Bahrain. Abdali Al Mawaly, a 58-year-old man, suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation in Mugsha village on Friday and died this evening. People are now gathered around his house.

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A National Day in Bahrain Special: Protests, The Arrest of Zainab Alkhawaja, A Death, & Tear Gas Everywhere

The arrest of Zainab Alkhawaja

See also Friday's Bahrain, Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: The Beat Goes On --- Anticipating Friday's Protests
Thursday's Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: The Developments in Bahrain

This morning the regime's Bahrain News Agency runs the banner, "Happy National Day", with the headline, "Wise Leadership Congratulated", citing the "cables of congratulations from leaders of Arab, Islamic and friendly countries marking the National and Accession Days".

No doubt there will be the perfunctory statements today --- perhaps we will even see them from Washington and London, who are dedicated to a strategy of "regime adjustment" to ensure that vital links with Bahrain are not strained --- but when National Day formally opened in Bahrain at 12:01 a.m., it did so to continuing protests and clashes in the kingdom's villages.

Zainab Alkhawaja is still in prison, along with many other political detainees, and Ali Alqassab will join the list of "martyrs" as he is buried. And the smell of tear gas --- which, according to an EA correspondent was "over most of Bahrain, except Rafa' and parts of Moharraq" --- lingers.

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