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Entries in Saudi Arabia (133)


Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: At Least 1600 Killed in the Deadliest Week

Al Jazeera English's report on how the Syrian conflict is affecting trade with Jordan

See also Egypt Feature: Mubarak-Era Officials "Retain Millions of Pounds" of Assets in Britain
Syria Opinion: "A Population Can Now Dismantle A Modern State on Its Own"
Sunday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Unavoidable Change on the Ground

2033 GMT: Syria. Back from a break to find a video of fire and explosions in the Sukkari district of Aleppo because of regime shelling:

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Unavoidable Change on the Ground

See also Saturday's Bahrain, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: 10,000s March Outside Manama

2128 GMT: Yemen. At least eight people have been killed by a US drone strike on two vehicles in Radaa in the centre of the country.

"Five were killed and eight injured and we are still investigating who these men are and in what way they were linked to al Qaeda," one official said.

Three women were also killed in the strike, a local tribal chief claimed. He said that the strike had targeted Abdulraouf al-Dahab, a local al-Qaeda leader, but that it failed to kill him.

Some tribesmen and military officials said that no fighters had been killed in the air strike, in which 14 civilians, including three women and three children, died. The officials said Sunday's airstrikes were based on faulty intelligence that the passengers were al-Qaeda members.

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U.S. Audio Feature: James Miller Talks US Arms Sales with Monocle 24 EA's James Miller speaks with Monocle 24 about US arms sales. This past year, the United States drastically increased arms sales last year. While the US is often the number 2 or 3 seller of global arms, in the last year the US accounted for 79% of global arms sales, with the majority of those arms being sold to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies...

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The Latest from Iran (17 August): Ahmadinejad Introduces Tehran Friday Prayer

One of a set of images by Mehr of Quds Day marches

See also The Latest from Iran (16 August): Hey, Look Over at Palestine!

1810 GMT: The Earthquakes. One of a set of photos in Mehr, as clean-up efforts continue, of the aftermath of last Saturday's earthquakes in East Azerbaijan:

1340 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Kurdish activist Hadi Amini has been freed after five years in prison.

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The Latest from Iran (15 August): Ahmadinejad in Saudi Arabia

See also Iran Feature: Facebook and the Earthquakes
The Latest from Iran (14 August): Recovering from an Earthquake

1955 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. About 25 political prisoners have reportedly been released today --- those freed include Nazanin Khosravani, Ali Malihi, Qasem Shole Saadi, Hamzeh Karami, Shahab Dehghan, Amir Maghamifar, and Sarang Ettehadi.

1630 GMT: The Earthquakes. The Supreme Leader's office has announced that it will give 1/3 of the donations sent to Ayatollah Khamenei during Ramadan to earthquake victims.

But the opposition website Kalemeh claims there are problems that may not be resolved by this --- it says the Revolutionary Guards have taken over control in the affected area, grabbing aid from teams providing assistance and leaving people angry about unequal distribution.

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Syria and Iran Opinion: Organization of "Islamic Cooperation"? You Must Be Kidding Me

The only use Islam has for most OIC members is as a justification for oppression. Oppression against women. Oppression against religious minorities. And oppression against dissent. To hope that the OIC would join hands to help the victims of Iran's earthquakes is just as fruitless as it is to hope that Iran would stop supporting the slaughter of innocent Syrians by President Assad and his political allies.

It seems Islam's more peaceful values only be promoted when Muslims feel threatened by non-Muslims, not when they are the ones threatening each other.

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Iran Snap Analysis: So There Was This Conference on Syria in Tehran....

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi talks to the press after Thursday's conference on Syria

In the end, the regime persuaded 28 countries to attend Thursday's hastily-called conference on Syria. Almost all sent their Ambassadors or other diplomats from their Embassies in Tehran, with only three --- neighbouring Iraq and Pakistan and not-so-neighbouring Zimbabwe --- sending Foreign Ministers. Eight Arab States were present; those who stayed away included Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. Russia, albeit with grumbling about the rushed preparations, despatched an official, but Turkey, which pointedly slapped down Tehran on Tuesday, did not.

Iranian media posted a statement which was supposedly agreed by the representatives, with a call for talks and despatch of humanitarian aid, affirmation of the six-point Annan Plan, and a proposed three-month cease-fire beginning next week.

None of that is likely to have any effect on the Syrian crisis, but Tehran's strategy is geared more to presentation. Shut out of other international discussions and facing isolation in the Middle East, the Islamic Republic wants to present itself as the valiant bearer of the Annan Plan, now that the United Nations process is dormant.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A Crumbling Regime?

See also Syria 1st-Hand: Deaths by the Schoolhouse --- Awaiting Regime Attack in Aleppo
Syria 1st-Hand: Fleeing Aleppo
Syria Snap Analysis: What the Prime Minister's Defection Might Say About State of the Conflict
Monday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Rumour and Reality in Aleppo

2038 GMT: Syria. Zabadani, northwest of Damascus (map), has been shelled every day for weeks, mostly starting at around sundown each day, the time when people break their fasts, the time when people are most vulnerable. Today, the LCC has a desperate claim:

Intense shelling by artillery, tanks, and rocket launchers in Housh area of the city. More than 50 martyrs have been reported thus far.

However, there appears as though there has been a translation issue. Fares Mohamed, with the LCC in Zabadani, says that 50 shells have fallen, rather than there being 50 martyrs.

This is breaking news, so sources are scarce, but two disturbing (and unverified) videos claim to show the explosions. It's night, making the videos even harder to verify, but Fares Mohamed says that the video appears to have been taken in Zabadani:

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Syria Feature: The Allied "Nerve Centre" in Turkey Aiding Insurgents (Doherty/Bakr)

Turkey has set up a secret base with allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar to direct vital military and communications aid to Syria's rebels from a city near the border, Gulf sources have told Reuters.

News of the clandestine Middle East-run "nerve centre" working to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad underlines the extent to which Western powers - who played a key role in unseating Muammar Gaddafi in Libya - have avoided military involvement so far in Syria.

"It's the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main co-ordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom," said a Doha-based source.

"The Americans are very hands-off on this. U.S. intel(ligence) are working through middlemen. Middlemen are controlling access to weapons and routes."

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Saudi Arabia Feature: Dissent is Alive...On Social Media & Behind Closed Doors (Templin)

Every Tuesday night, a few dozen people squeeze into Waleed Abu Alkhair’s living room in the port city of Jidda, Saudi Arabia. Over tea and dates, they share opinions that could get them arrested if uttered in public. “If you ask people, they are afraid because they know the costs are very high,” says Abu Alkhair, a former civil rights lawyer and activist. “You can see this is a very small house, but we don’t have any other place.”

The topic jumps from religion to revolution. “We are not far away from the uprisings that are happening in other countries,” exclaims a young man wearing the traditional Saudi thobe. His statement ignites a debate about the state of free speech in Saudi Arabia, where thousands are behind bars for simply speaking out against the government. “We live in a prison,” one patron comments from a cramped love seat, “the cell has gotten a little bigger, but it’s still a prison.”

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