Recent unrest in Qatif could lead to more Saudi crackdowns

With violence erupting in Qatif in early December, the royal family is not taking any chances. Saudi Arabia has barely been touched by the Arab Awakening, at least not to the extent of any other places in the region and this is due in large part to the strength of the royal monarchy. Being home to the two holy places of Mecca and Medina, the royal family confers much of its legitimacy in being custodians of these holy sites and through the Wahabi Clerical Establishment. Continue reading

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Religious High Council fears the ramifications should Women be allowed to Drive

The highest religious council in Saudi Arabia, the Majils al Ifla al Aaala has recently issued a statement concerning the issue of granting women the right to drive. Recently women have been driving in protest of this ban, and if caught, are subject to public lashings, time in jail and ostracism from society. The statement from the council alleged that if women were allowed to drive it would “provoke a surge in prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce.” In addition to these claims, the council asserts that within ten years, there would be no more Virgins in the entire Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

http://bikyamasr.com/50109/no-more-virginity-in-saudi-if-women-drive-says-council/

Some Updates on Bahrain

There are some disturbing allegations against the regime that have been noted before. Perhaps the scariest are the allegations of targeting doctors, because they have proof of the atrocities committed by the regime and have spoken to the international media. See the article below for more information. If this is true, it is a serious breech of human rights and medical ethics.

Doctors are targeted in Bahrain after protests.

For a little bit of history background, I found this article. Bahrain was once the site to get the world’s most expensive pearls, but the market has been driven down and Bahrain does not do much pearling anymore. However, Bahrain is trying to get some of these pearling areas turned into UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Bahrain looks to declare its pearling fields a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Here are some updates on the credit crisis in Bahrain that has been going on since 2009. The credit crisis here has the potential to be worse than those we saw in Iceland and elsewhere. Compounded with the regional instability, this may be the next country to watch  in terms of financial collapse.

Bahrain’s credit crisis started in 2009. The protests have had a detrimental effect on the the credit rating as of late. This credit crisis could prove to be worse than the any other banking sector crisis we’ve seen thus far.Finally, the regime crackdown continues even though there are several prolific journalists inside the country. Nick Kristof is in Bahrain and he provides a sobering account of regime violence.

AQAP and US Response to Yemeni Uprisings

AQAP’s (also referred to as Ansar al-Shariah) operations and territorial gains in the Abyan and Lahij Governorates are disconcerting, particularly as they enable the group to augment their current influence in the Shabwah, Mar’ib and Al Jawf Governorates, ultimately providing a line of communication and smuggling route from the Gulf of Aden to Saudi Arabia. In addition, their gains in the southern Governorates potentially facilitate an offensive against Aden, the historically significant port city that has acted as the capital of southern Yemen. Though these are interesting developments for Yemen, in the larger picture, the force strength of AQAP in Yemen are in large part more loosely affiliated with the aim of ousting Saleh and as US Counter-terrorism Advisor John Brennan puts it, “only a couple dozen” individuals are actively plotting against external targets. In my view, AQAP’s presence has, though counter-intuitively, diminished the response of the international community to the uprisings. US counter-terrorism operations, which Saleh has consistently supported, seemingly take precedent over all other considerations.Though the US and international community have supported the Gulf Cooperation Council’s attempts at brokering a transition deal, their response has been insufficient.

Amnesty Update on Bahrain

This briefing from Amnesty International shows that the Bahrain Independent Commission (BICI) Report was a “landmark” achievement. However, as of yet, the reforms have yet to be seen by protesters on the ground who are continually attacked by the government.

Prison sentences for protesters have not been changed by the regime. These sentences are long and arduous, even for simply protesting. Similarly, several protesters still face death sentences from military trials that used their testimony against them under allegations of torture. Without reforms of these policies, one can’t expect much to change in Bahrain.

An interesting fact from this report is that on February 18th, Britain ended its military licenses with Bahrain. It will be interesting to see in the near future if the United States goes through with its military agreements with Bahrain.