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Entries in Saudi Arabia (133)


Saudi Arabia Feature: A Precious Moment with the Religious Police (Battuta)

A sketch pokes fun at the religious police

Being new to Riyadh, I was not accustomed to the common harassment from religious police to "cover my face". In most other cities in Saudi Arabia it's rather rare to experience a run in with the country's notorious religious police, and I never had to deal with it until moving to Riyadh.

A day prior --- with my hair fully covered by Hijab --- a frustrating argument arouse when 4 religious police followed me and insisted that I cover my face. I explained my reasonable condition, as a crowd inconveniently began to surround us: only if the four religious police would first cover their faces would I cover mine. Upset by my remark, and perhaps in attempt to appear in control of the situation in the eyes of the gathered spectators, they summoned a police officer to "escort" me out of the mall.

Frustrated by the prior day's events, I decided that day to leave my little black scarf behind at home. No scarf, no tool to cover my face.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A Deadly Car Bomb in Damascus

A petrol station in the Barzeh area of Damascus, destroyed by a car bomb on Thursday night

See also Bahrain Audio Feature: Why the Detention of Photojournalist Ahmed Humaidan Matters --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24
Thursday's Syria (and Beyond) Coverage: UN --- Death Toll Passes 60,000

2107 GMT: Syria. The head of the insurgency's military command, Brigadier Selim Idris, has denied reports that his troops possess chemical weapons and intend to respond in kind if the Syrian regime uses them.

The political adviser of the Free Syrian Army, Bassam al-Dada, said on Wednesday that insurgents could put together components of chemical weapons and use them if necessary.

“In our faith, we can't use such a weapon,” even if the regime attacked with it, Idris said. "We will not try to acquire them, will definitely not produce them or facilitate their production."

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Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Gulf States Hold a Summit in Manama

Police clash with protesters in Ma'ameer on Sunday night

See also Syria Live Coverage: "94 Killed" in Regime Airstrike on Bakery Queue
Sunday's Egypt (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A "Yes" for the Constitution --- But How Big?

2220 GMT: Bahrain. Claimed footage, which emerged tonight, of police beating and kicking a man in Al Eker this month:

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Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Protests and Arrests for "Martyrs Day" in Manama

Bahraini activist Said Yousif faces a ring of police officers just before his arrest on Monday

1500 GMT: Bahrain. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights claims that 24 men and three women were arrested on Monday during the crackdown on "Martyrs Day" marches by security forces.

The BCHR says its Acting Vice President Said Yousif AlMuhafdha was seized and charged with broadcasting false information through Twitter. A court has ordered a seven-day detention.

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Saudi Arabia Analysis: Explaining the "Days of Rage" in the Kingdom (Wehrey)

Al Jazeera English's report in July on protests in Eastern Province

Saudi Arabia may have at first appeared untouched by the 2011 Arab uprisings, but the apparent calm belies a simmering crisis. Shia and Sunni sectarian tensions are arguably at the highest level since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and a harsh government crackdown is mobilizing radical elements in the Shia community and undercutting its pragmatists. The United States faces no shortage of crises in the region, but it would do well to not let this one slip too far off the radar.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: International Meeting in London Discusses Support for "New" Opposition

2240 GMT: Syria. The website for the FSA in AlBukamal still claims that despite the fact that 37 Assad soldiers defected today, the Hamdan airport (map) is still in Assad hands.

Still, the FSA made significant strides against it today. The FSA has demonstrated that it is stronger in the east than many analysts expected. If this base falls, it will be a major blow to the Assad military in the region.

2139 GMT: Syria. Al Jazeera reports on how civilian volunteers, using Italian ambulances, help save lives in the northern city of Aleppo:

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Talks and Declarations as 234 Die on Sunday

2131 GMT: Bahrain. EA's John Horne reports:

Amidst calls for an independent investigation, the Bahrain government has blamed the opposition for the reported bombings. Minister for Information Sameera Rajab said that the attacks "are due to religious fatwas issued by some religious figures who haven't ceased inciting violence against civilians and policemen". This is a likely - if false - reference to Sheikh Isa Qassim, spiritual leader of AlWefaq, the largest opposition society. The Interior Minister implied that the deaths were an end to any possible dialogue between the regime and the opposition:

What happened was a terror act and major part of our work focuses on chasing those terrorists. Negotiation couldn't be carried out with terrorists and talks couldn't take place within this violence.

In a statement, AlWefaq condemned the incidents, adding that it is its "fixed stance to refuse violence". They also demanded "independent parties" to investigate this and previous incidents, as well as "to allow credible media and human right organizations to take part in presenting the truth to the public".

2125 GMT: Bahrain. Images, broadcast by State TV, of the victims of today's bombings:

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A Deadly Clash Between Insurgents in Aleppo

Claimed video of the Free Syrian Army firing on a Kurdish rally in the Ashrafieh section of Aleppo

See also Iraq Feature: How Kurdistan and Exxon Mobil Out-Manoeuvred Baghdad Over Oil
Saturday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A "Ceasefire" With Fighting, Car Bombs, and 103 Dead

2116 GMT: Syria. Insurgents capture an armoured BMP vehicle and ---eventually --- drive it away:

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Insurgent Advance in Aleppo Overtakes "Ceasefire"

2024 GMT: Syria. At least 94 people have been killed so far today, the first day of Eid and the first day of the ceasefire, according to the LCC which also reports that mortar fire has hit suburbs of Damascus well into the night:

38 martyrs were reported in Damascus and its suburbs 10 of them were martyred in the explosion of Zohour neighborhood, 22 in Aleppo 4 of them were members of the FSA, 11 in Idlib, 7 in Deir Ezzor, 7 in Daraa, 6 in Homs, and 3 in Hama.

See our note about the casualty figures put forth by the LCC.

In a separate audio feature, EA editor Scott Lucas speaks with Monocle Radio about the latest news from Syria. According to Scott, the fighting in Aleppo will, in the long run, prove far more significant than the ceasefire which was never more than a facade.

See also Syria Audio Feature: Why Insurgent Advance Is More Important Than The Ceasefire

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Syria Analysis: Assessing a US Warning over Arms to the Insurgency

Some within the US Government are using their regular channel --- David Sanger of The New York Times --- to put out a warning over support of the Syria insurgency.

The key political question: is there a general view across the Administration, pointing to a policy of caution and even reversal in backing of the insurgency? Is it a signal to Turkey, which has been increasing its co-operation with opposition fighters, at least indirectly, through operations across the Syrian border? Or is this one faction within the US Government using Sanger to fight against another group which favours more US intervention?

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