On the 1st of August 2008 Syrian General Muhammad Suleiman, who also bore the title of Special Presidential Advisor for Arms Procurement and Strategic Weapons for President Bashar al-Assad, was murdered in highly mysterious circumstances. General Suleiman was shot three times in the head, neck and stomach at his home in the exclusive Rimal al-Zahabieh resort in the Mediterranean city of Tartous. It was speculated then that the shots came from a sniper located on a boat, which explained how the top level security forces surrounding Suleiman were avoided. At this time relations between Syria and Israel were at their worst and the talk of war was in the air, particularly due to Syria’s intent on upgrading its nuclear and chemical weapons facilities, a strategy headed by Suleiman. Therefore, most of the international press, most notably The Sunday Times, stated as a fact that it was Israeli intelligence agency Mossad who was to blame.
An inside job
Recent cables published by Wikileaks, however, shed a new light on the assassination, revealing a very delicate multi-lateral diplomatic situation. The fact that this information came from the U.S. embassy in Paris is particularly revealing. In cable #08PARIS1717 Ambassador Stapleton, says that Boris Boillon, adviser at the French presidency, asserted to him that “the killing seemed to be some sort of inside job”.
On May 4, Mr. Colangelo, a Senior attorney at US-based Dorsey and Whitney LLP, and a consultant with Human Rights Watch was bared entry into Bahrain. Authorities cited his need for a visa, because of the "kind of work" he does, although Colangelo has frequently travelled to the country on various business matters with no prior incident.
In February, Mr. Colangelo spoke at a press conference at Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) in Manama. Mr. Colangelo has also represented Bahraini who were Guantanamo detainees.
HRW has released an 89-page report stating that Bahrain needs to take "urgent steps to end torture and ill-treatment of security suspects during interrogation. The report also called on the government to promptly investigate all torture allegations and prosecute security officials suspected of abusing detainees" (Source; Saudi News Today).
Bahrain's ongoing crackdown has escalated since February, targeting every level of society with fewer and fewer outside observers allowed into the country. See WL Central's ongoing coverage of Bahrain: May, April, March 1 through 21, March 22 through 31, and February.
I spoke last night EST with Mr. Colangelo, while he was on a stop over in Paris, en route back to the Unites States from Bahrain.
Why were you going to Bahrain?
I have been involved with issues concerning Bahrain for a number of years. It began with representing the Bahraini who were detained at Guantanamo, and more recently I have worked as a consultant with Human Rights Watch on domestic Bahrain issues.
WL Central will be updating news on Iran, with new items added at the top. All times are ET in USA.
You can contact me on twitter @carwinb or by email at email@example.com. Don't send media when links available. Most email is not encrypted and not anonymous. I cannot guarantee anyone's safety in transmission.
People of Bahrain are asking individuals to spread the news of the massacre that happened in Bahrain last Tuesday and Wednesday 15 and 16 of March, 2011 by the Saudi army. (Everybody is suspicious of the US blessing on this!) Nobody understands this move !!! and the double standard by the Western governments!!! We house the US 5th fleet and forever it's been a British base too.
The people of Bahrain started a peaceful demonstration on 14th Feb as it was the anniversary of the Constitution of the Monarchy in Bahrain. The King promised people greater democracy on that day, and the nation had voted for him. So to symbolise this event, the demands were simple, greater democracy, stop corruption and unemployment, stop nationalising the mercenary army.
On Sunday, 13 of March 2011 - student at the University of Barharin were attacked by some minority thugs holding swords, followed by the Riot police, many were hurt including the medics who tried to help the students, hence few severely wounded by swords cut!!!! pictures speak better than words.
On Tuesday, 15th of March - They stormed over the village of Sitra, below is some evidence of this butchery, the young man in this photo is Ahmad Farhan from Al Mahizaa area in Sitra and the second photo shows him from the back for those (including the Bahrain TV ) who claimed this is an old Palestinian picture....
No words can describe this butchery........
Dear Mr. President and Honorable Representatives of the United States Congress,
We, the people of Bahrain, are in deep pain and have great concern for our situation.
We are attempting to deliver our voices.
We have long supported you, and have appreciated the help that you have given our nation in the past.
However, now, in this time of great crisis, it grieves us to realize that you have abandoned the Bahraini people.
King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and the royal family are acting violently against unarmed and peaceful demonstrators in an unprecedented way.
Bahrain's government has mercenaries and thugs attacking and killing civilians in the streets and destroying people’s property.
At first, they exploited the Sunni and Shia issue. Now they are using violent thugs. They are everywhere. The situation is especially dangerous when they discover that a person is Shia.
The Bahraini security forces and Saudi army are attacking unarmed people with armed helicopters and tanks.
They are killing and injuring people. They have used nerve gas and live bullets to disperse demonstrators.
Bahraini forces and the Saudi army have seized villages and are attacking people in the streets. There are arbitrary arrests, killings, kidnappings, and beatings of protesters. More than 20 people are dead, 63 are missing, and unknown numbers have been arrested.
This campaign of violence has injured thousands, many of whom are critical and will die for lack of medical care.
Security forces have even attacked and taken over hospitals and medical centers in order to prevent wounded demonstrators from receiving needed medical attention. They have also beaten medical personnel.
The army is moving patients to unknown destinations, and seizing and deleting patient medical records. They have warned doctors and nurses to refuse admission to the wounded and to conceal what they have witnessed.
We are calling on the world and human rights organizations to PLEASE SAVE US FROM ANNIHILATION.
We put out a distress call to all the countries of the world: Our weapons are only roses and the Bahraini flag. We are up against foreign troops and GCC armies with real weapons.
Where is everyone? Won’t you help us? Will you just watch us die? Where are the democracies of the world?
These are crimes against humanity. We beseech you to protect the peaceful citizens of Bahrain.
We also request a commission to discover the facts of this campaign of violence and killing committed by Bahraini authorities against unarmed citizens.
We beg you. Help us.
The People of Bahrain
The People of Bahrain have ask us to send this letter to the U.S. government. When unable to send the entire text, please send a link to this page. See below.
WL Central will be updating news on Bahrain, with new items added at the top. All times are ET in USA. You can contact me on twitter @carwinb or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't send media when links available. Most email is not encrypted and not anonymous. I cannot guarantee anyone's safety in transmission.
Current time and date in Manama, Bahrain:
Send Arabic #firstaid images by MMS/SMS/email or print as fliers usng http://bit.ly/gv3tS #Bahrain.
Photo by LilianWagdy of protesters praying in front of SS headquarters in Lazoghly
Some protesters are out in Tahrir and some are still even out in and around Lazoghly, where army clashes took place earlier. The protesters were headed to the State Security headquarters. Smoke was coming from the building. State Security has been shredding, burning and destroying documents that presumably would incriminate them, as many like Habib el-Adly, former head of the Interior Ministry, are going to be facing investigations or trials.
Amn Dawla Leaks Website tweets the following links to documents [not in English]: "Outright fraud in the election of the Chamber of Commerce"
And a few on selecting judges:
"Letter to the security of the State Requests sort of judges between the cooperative and is in preparation for the selection of the elections", SSI intervention in identifying some of the judges, and nomination of names of some judges of "collaborators" to monitor the elections
WL Central reported on a document detailing a natural gas deal with Israel. Now, here from Al Masry Al Youm, an article describing the document and giving a little background.
On Sunday, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza warned of an impending 'public health disaster', reported first on WL Central here. In a press release on the organization's Web site, the Ministry states that the situation could include the death of hundreds of people, including cancer patients, those with tumors, and those in need of both kidney dialysis and intensive care.
Gaza's long-suffering has increased exponentially since Operation Cast Lead in December 2008, when Israel launched air attacks on Gaza in response to rocket and mortar fire by Hamas. The incident was preceded by an Israeli incursion into Gaza in November 2008 "to destroy what Israel said was a tunnel on the Gaza-Israel border dug by militants to infiltrate into Israel and abduct soldiers." (Source: Wikipedia)
Cable 08TELAVIV1984, released by Wikileaks today, is headlined at Uruknet "New Wikileaks cable shows 2008 war on Gaza was unprovoked: Israel knew Hamas was enforcing ceasefire" referring to the 2008 massacre that resulted in approximately 1,400 Palestinians killed in 22 days, an operation in which Israeli soldiers had orders to "cleanse" entire neighbourhoods, orders which they carried out. That is evident in the first part of the cable, where MOD Arab Affairs Adviser David Hacham, says Suleiman was keeping the pressure on Hamas, but the Israelis were frustrated at Hamas' 'stalling tactics' - Hamas was demanding Egyptian guarantees that Israel would not attack Gaza once Shalit was released. Regarding the Tahdiya, Hacham said Barak stressed that while it was not permanent, for the time being it was holding. There have been a number of violations of the ceasefire on the Gaza side, but Palestinian factions other than Hamas were responsible. Hacham said the Israelis assess that Hamas is making a serious effort to convince the other factions not to launch rockets or mortars.
The cable also returns to Egypt's anti-smuggling efforts, enforced by Israel and the US, and this time Israel has "decided to praise Egypt's performance publicly both in genuine acknowledgement of some improvements in destroying tunnels and in order to show the Egyptians that Israel was capable of praising as well as criticizing them. In private, however, Barak also pushed the Egyptians to do more, particularly in terms of stopping the smuggling well before the arms reach the Gaza border."
Today, Wikileaks released two more cables detailing Israeli pressure on the residents of Gaza Strip. As reported by WL Central here, the closure of tunnels bringing basic supplies into the Gaza Strip from Egypt have caused an urgent humanitarian crises for the people of Gaza. But US state cables show Israel pressuring the US to link aid to Egypt with the complete closure of those tunnels and the prevention of any supplies reaching Gaza through Egypt. Egypt's new vice president's involvement is also discussed.
In November of 2007, Israel Security Agency (ISA) Director Yuval Diskin met with US officials to discuss the 'problem' of supplies moving from Egypt to the Gaza Strip. In 07TELAVIV3258 Diskin outlines "a growing crisis in Israeli-Egyptian relations over smuggling across the Gaza border". Diskin told the US representatives that the ISA had, on several occasions, provided Omar Suleiman, Chief of Egyptian Intelligence Services, with detailed intelligence on the names of smugglers. In 2005, Diskin said he met personally with Suleiman in Egypt, at which time Suleiman promised personally to take responsibility for "cleansing the Sinai." Despite these promises, and Israeli offers to initiate joint operations, Diskin said Egypt has not acted to eliminate the smuggling networks. In Diskin's view, there is a core policy problem, in that the Egyptians view themselves as the primary mediator between the Israelis and Palestinians, and are careful not to alienate either side. "This is not possible with Hamas in Gaza," insisted Diskin.
As predicted, Syria's day of rage did not meet with the same response as that of others in the region. "The only rage in Syria yesterday was the rage of nature," wrote Syrian journalist Ziad Haidar, in reference to a cold spell and heavy rain on the day of the protest. While the facebook group promoting the day of rage attracted many followers, there were several key differences separating Syria from Egypt or Tunisia. Facebook is banned in Syria, and the page was reportedly set up by expatriates. Although it gained 15,000 followers by Friday, most were also believed to be non-resident. The Syrian government has been extremely vigilant about quelling opposition to the forty year government of president Bashar al-Assad and his father. The country has an anti-US, anti-Israel foreign policy that is popular at home and Assad is also seen to be slightly more open to change than others in the region.
Approximately 10,000 political prisoners are currently being held in Syrian jails. A national state of emergency has been in effect in Syria continuously since 1963 and it is consistently used to suppress and punish any dissent. According to Amnesty International's report on Syria for 2010, "Critics, human rights defenders, alleged opponents of the government and others were detained, often for prolonged periods; some were sentenced to prison terms after unfair trials. Torture and other ill-treatment remained common, and were committed with impunity; there were several suspicious deaths in custody. The government failed to clarify the circumstances in which [17 prisoners and five others] were killed at Sednaya Military Prison in 2008 and, again, took no steps to account for thousands of victims of enforced disappearances in previous years. Women faced legal and other discrimination and violence. The Kurdish minority remained subject to discrimination, and thousands of Syrian Kurds were effectively stateless. At least eight prisoners were executed."
Reuters reports that the defense for former Liberian President Charles Taylor, on trial for war crimes, have won the right to use U.S. state cables leaked by Wikileaks in his defense. Taylor is facing charges of instigating murder, rape, mutilation, sexual slavery and conscription of child soldiers during wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone which killed a quarter of a million people. He has denied all charges. The court ruled in favor of a defense motion seeking to re-open its case for the "limited purpose" of admitting into evidence two U.S. cables.
Cable 09MONROVIA188 from 2009-03-10 warns "Should Taylor be acquitted in The Hague or given a light sentence, his return to Liberia could tip the balance in a fragile peace. The international community must consider steps should Taylor not be sent to prison for a long time. We should look at the possibility of trying Taylor in the United States. ... All legal options should be studied to ensure that Taylor cannot return to destabilize Liberia. Building a case in the United States against Taylor for financial crimes such as wire fraud would probably be the best route. There may be other options, such as applying the new law criminalizing the use of child soldiers or terrorism statutes.
Cable 09THEHAGUE247 from 2009-04-15 indicates "Court employees have intimated that the Trial Chamber could work more expeditiously. ... Moreover, contacts in Prosecution and Registry speculate that Justice Sebutinde may have a timing agenda. They think she, as the only African judge, wants to hold the gavel as presiding judge when the Trial Chamber announces the Taylor judgment. Reportedly, her next stint as presiding judge begins in January."
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Wikileaks, not only for the exposure of the lies and deceptions of various world powers, not just for exposure of the inner workings and chicanery of state institutions and corporations, their hypocrisy and double dealings, but also for what follows in future: the advancement of human rights for all, and a major corollary of that, the increased potential for prosecution of those who have prima facie cases to answer for breaches of human rights.
Firstly some analogies with theoretical physics.
For theoretical physicists like Lawrence Krauss, (whose understandable scientific explanations of the universe leave this writer in awe), supernova are useful as standard candles …for which the intrinsic brightness, the absolute magnitude, is known. This allows the object's distance to be measured from its actual observed brightness, or apparent magnitude. With distance and the amount of spectrum “redshift” the expansion of the universe can be measured, and its present acceleration.
If I may draw an analogy, for those concerned about human rights, Wikileaks is akin to a supernova, it is our “standard candle,” so to speak. Not only is it an additional and great illumination for breaches of our measurable “universal” human rights but it has created a new standard for real journalism and in so doing has motivated the world in moral and legal outrage to a significantly higher plane. It has struck a chord with so many, in so many dimensions all over the world. It is difficult to quantify those dimensions, but the human rights aspect of it is not only real but palpable.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced on Egyptian state television today that he has sworn in a new vice president, former Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman. US state cable 07CAIRO1417 states that according to Article 82 of Egypt's constitution, the vice president should assume presidential powers "if on account of any temporary obstacle the president is unable to carry out his duties."
So who is the new vice president who, in the seemingly imminent departure of President Mubarak may begin ruling Egypt? Jane Mayer asks the question in her article today in the New Yorker, and answers it with information from her book The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals. "Since 1993 Suleiman has headed the feared Egyptian general intelligence service. In that capacity, he was the C.I.A.’s point man in Egypt for renditions—the covert program in which the C.I.A. snatched terror suspects from around the world and returned them to Egypt and elsewhere for interrogation, often under brutal circumstances."
US State cable 2009-01-15: 09CAIRO79 is titled SUBJECT: GOE STRUGGLING TO ADDRESS POLICE BRUTALITY. The title is directly contradicted by the cable which concludes The GOE has not begun serious work on trying to transform the police and security services from instruments of power that serve and protect the regime into institutions operating in the public interest.
Torture and police brutality in Egypt are endemic and widespread. The police use brutal methods mostly against common criminals to extract confessions, but also against demonstrators, certain political prisoners and unfortunate bystanders. ... NGO contacts estimate there are literally hundreds of torture incidents every day in Cairo police stations alone. Egyptians are bombarded with consistent news reports of police brutality, ranging from high profile incidents such as accidental but lethal police shootings in Salamut and Aswan this past fall (refs B and C) that sparked riots, to reports of police officers shooting civilians following disputes over traffic tickets. In November 2008 alone, there were two incidents of off-duty police officers shooting and killing civilians over petty disputes.
Earlier this week, Israel was accused of ethnic cleansing of Israeli Arabs based on material in the Palestine Papers (summarized here and here). In the Palestine Papers, documents show Israeli negotiators wanting to cut out Arab occupied parts of Israel and give them to Palestine as they were considered "Palestinian" parts of Israel. Other documents discuss the Palestinian diaspora and Israel's refusal and Palestine's inability to accept them as citizens. US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice suggested they should be transported to Chile and Argentina.
Yesterday, Nurit Kedar aired a report on Channel 4 News telling of a different kind of ethnic cleansing.