Just like the Islamist State, Saudi Arabia flogs and prescribes hanging and stoning to death.
Both Saudi Arabia and the Islamic State fall within the spectrum of Wahhabism. Pictured: General Court in Riyadh. (Photo: AFP)
Yesterday we posted about how an ideological affinity makes it difficult for Saudi Arabia to distance itself from the Islamic State, just as it did with Al Qaeda before that. Perhaps, though, where they’re most symmetrical is in the forms and degrees of punishment, as Mary Atkinson and Rori Donaghy demonstrate at the Middle East Eye. “The Islamic State (IS) and Saudi Arabia prescribe near-identical punishments for a host of crimes, according to documents circulated by the militant group,” they begin.
For example, comparing them side by side in an infographic, they show that both IS and SA intend to punish blasphemy and homosexuality as severely as treason and murder: by death. The punishments for adultery, separately for married and unmarried partners, are also parallel: Death by stoning and 100 lashes, respectively. (I’ve never actually understood how someone can survive that many lashes.)
Ideological affinity makes it difficult for Saudi Arabia to distance itself from the Islamic State.
New Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz inherits the Islamic State threat. (Photo: EPA/Jose Huesca)
“The Saudi authorities have condemned Islamic State, but they fear the destabilising effects of any detailed examination of their shared principles,” writes Brian Whitaker in an article as insightful as it is and valuable that was published and posted January 6 by the Guardian. He begins by describing a raid likely conducted by the Islamic State on a Saudi post on its border with Iraq that killed, along with two other soldiers, the commander of Saudi Arabia’s northern border forces. Whitaker writes:
This might be viewed simply as a reprisal for Saudi participation in the US-led bombing campaign against Isis, but Isis has also been seeking to extend the current conflict in Syria and Iraq into Saudi territory.
Just how involved is Iran in the fight against the Islamic State?
Iran, like the United States, resists sending boots on the ground against the Islamic State. (Photo: Press TV)
In an article for the January issue of International Affairs titled Iran’s ISIS policy, Dina Esfandiary and Ariane Tabatabai explain what Iran is and isn’t doing to counter the progress of the Islamic State. With Iraq bordering Iran, much of the Iranian public views the Islamic State as an immediate threat.
In June 2014, as ISIS was making substantial advances in Syria and Iraq, the Iranian state media downplayed the threat … The Iranian population, however, inferred that the group had advanced into Iranian territory. … The public apprehensions illustrate the deep insecurity of Iranians and the persistence of a vivid memory of the devastating Iran–Iraq War; they also highlight the lack of trust in their government to effectively assess and respond to such threats.
China paid Ukraine $3 billion two years ago for grain still not delivered and another $3.6 billion that’s owed to China will also probably default.
Ukraine claims it doesn’t have the grain because many of is agricultural workers have been conscripted into the army. Pictured: Kiev. (Photo: Trey Ratcliff / Flickr Commons)
Cross-posted from the People’s Voice.
Russia’s RIA Novosti News Agency reported, on January 17th, that China is demanding a refund of $1.5 billion in cash and of an additional $1.5 billion in Chinese goods that were paid in advance by China (in 2013), for a 2012 Chinese order of grain from Ukraine, which goods still have not been supplied to China.
According to RIAN, “State Food and Grain Corporation of Ukraine (STATE FOOD) supplied grain in 2013, elsewhere, but not to China. The new Kiev authorities had an opportunity to fix the short-sighted actions ‘of the [previous] Yanukovych regime,’ and to present a positive economic image to the Chinese.” But it didn’t happen.
The U.S. government couldn’t resist the temptation to conflate U.S.-Palestinian charities with terrorist organizations.
The Holy Land Foundation raised money for food, clothes and education to be distributed in Gaza (pictured) and the West Bank. (Photo: Samer / Flickr Commons)
At the London Review of Books, in an article titled Low-Hanging Fruit, Francis FitzGibbon looks at the case of the Holy Land Foundation.Operated in the United States by Palestinian-Americans, the HLF raised money for food, clothes and education to be distributed in Gaza and the West Bank by what’s called zakat charitable committees. Less than three months after 9/11, the Treasury Department closed it down and charged it with funneling the money to Hamas. End result: in 2008, the HLF’s two leaders were convicted and are serving 65-year sentences.
Frontline ignores the role that the Harvard Economics Department played in post-Soviet privatization and the ensuing corruption.
The United States has been as implicated in false-flag operations as Russian President Putin was. (Photo: www.kremlin.ru / Wikimedia Commons)
Cross-posted from RINF Alternative News.
On January 13th, the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) telecast the FRONTLINE documentary, “Putin’s Way,” which purported to be a biography of Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin.
The press release about this film states: “Drawing on firsthand accounts from exiled Russian business tycoons, writers and politicians, as well as the exhaustive research of scholar and best-selling Putin’s Kleptocracy author Karen Dawisha, the film examines troubling episodes in Putin’s past, from alleged money-laundering activities and ties to organized crime, to a secret personal fortune said to be in the billions. … These accounts portray a Russian leader who began by professing hope and democracy but now is stoking nationalism, conflict and authoritarianism.”
Lustration ― screening of officials for their ties to Communist-era secret police ― is of little consequence to the new generation of East-Central Europe politicians.
Agnieszka Pomaska is a member of the Polish parliament (the Sejm) with PO, the current ruling party. (Photo: John Feffer)
Cross-posted from JohnFeffer.com.
A generational shift is slowly taking place in the politics of East-Central Europe as the figures responsible for the changes in 1989 are giving way to a younger group of politicians who were not old enough to be politically active at that time. This younger generation of politicians takes membership in the European Union for granted. They have very little invested in the original disagreements that fragmented the opposition movements. And they don’t care so much about some of the defining issues of that generation, such as lustration (the screening of officials for their ties to the Communist-era secret police).
Agnieszka Pomaska is a member of this new generation of politicians. Born in Gdansk in the pivotal year of 1980, she came of political age when Poland had already become a democracy. At the age of 22, after coming up through the ranks of the youth section of what became the Civic Platform party (PO), she was elected to the city council in Gdansk. Since 2009, she has been a member of parliament (the Sejm) with PO, the current ruling party.
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund structural adjustment policies undermined government funding for health infrastructure countries most afflicted by Ebola.
If devoting so much attention to Ebola in one place, and so little in another, isn’t racism, then what is? (Photo: Center for Disease Control / Flickr Commons)
Cross-posted from View from the Left Bank.
Ebola is back in the news in Colorado and shortly hereafter I would speculate nationally.
A Denverite recently returned from West Africa countries affected by the Ebola outbreak is being tested for the virus at the Denver Medical Center, one of the country’s 29 public health laboratories authorized to do Ebola testing by the Center for Disease. The patient, whose identity is being withheld, is considered low risk but is being held in a designated in-patient unit anyway as a precaution. Dr. Connie Price, the hospital’s chief of infectious diseases, noted that “infection with the virus has not been confirmed.” Ebola symptoms may appear anytime between two and 21 days after initial infection. They include muscle pain, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, lack of appetite and abdominal pain.
The citizens of South Sudan are paying the price for happening to live in a country that does not deserve to be called a country.
Generals celebrate on South Sudan’s independence day. (Photo: Steve Evans / Flickr Commons)
Back in 2011, South Sudan broke away from Sudan and declared itself as an independent state. Western media verticals, as well as many pro-secession pundits, claimed that statehood will usher in a new era of prosperity and growth for South Sudan, and eventually, even Sudan will have to acknowledge the superiority of the South Sudanese state.
Apparently, those dreams are yet to come true, and with things going the way they currently are, prospects do not seem promising for South Sudan.
In fact, I have written about South Sudan multiple times: back in 2013, I termed South Sudan to be a failed state — I am yet to be proven wrong. In 2014, troubled by the loss of life and property in South Sudan, I questioned the logic of secession, and even thought of ways to fix the blunder named South Sudan.
Drones rank high among the many policies that will threaten President Obama’s place in history.
“Obama will be remembered as the progenitor of drone warfare and cybercombat,” said historian Alfred McCoy. (Photo of the Boeing X-48B unmanned — despite apparent windows in front — aerial vehicle: NASA / Wikimedia Commons)
If you’re like me, you eat projects like this in the new New York magazine up: 53 Historians Weigh In on Barack Obama’s Legacy. Though I realize now that I was looking forward to reading it in hopes that, like similar articles during the presidency of George W. Bush, historians would eviscerate his record. Though they span the political spectrum, most were critical of some or most of President Obama’s record.
One of the questions asked of most of the historians that proved to be as much or more of a lightning rod for criticism as the other question was:
Which will prove to be more significant: the reduction of troops on the ground or the increase in the use of military drones?