ISIS, Al Qaeda, Houthi Rebels Compete in Yemen

Local Fighters Team with al-Qeada, Abyan Province, Yemen, Photo by Joe Sheffer

Local Fighters Team with al-Qeada, Abyan Province, Yemen, Photo by Joe Sheffer

YEMEN - ISIS has infiltrated Yemen, a country already flooded with terrorist groups. The Syria-based terror group, known for its extreme brutality and shockingly successful recruitment of outsiders, has gained a tentative foothold alongside the Al Qaeda forces already present.

Al Qaeda remains the dominant presence, but the competition for recruits and support may sway in favor of the more financially-appealing ISIS. This friction between the two groups can spell increased trouble for civilians in Yemen and elsewhere. In-country fighting and instability has escalated, as is evidenced by a gun battle between the two groups last month and White House analysts fear the competition will become a race to see who can hit US soil first and hardest. (Source: CNN)

Another key player in the Yemeni crisis is the Houthis, a rebel group demanding greater control of what they claim is a western-controlled government and protesting unequal distribution of resources. They belong to the Zaidi branch of Shia Islam, also known as Fivers, a sect of Islam almost exclusively present in Yemen. They are from the Shi'ite minority similar to the Twelvers found mainly in Iraq, Lebanon and Iran and are known for being most similar to Sunni Muslims in matters of religious law and rulings. They do however, believe in the concept of an Imamate as being essential to their religion, which makes them distinct from Sunnis. (Global Security.org, "Zaydi Islam”, by John Pike)

Pressure from Houthi fighters resulted in the resignation of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. His departure triggered thousands of Yemeni citizens to counter-protest the Houthi actions. (Source: BBC)

Yemen, although among the world's poorest countries, has strategic political and geographical importance. The terror activity poses a danger to the U.S., who is often the target for attacks. In addition, it is a gateway for foreign fighters to go to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, providing ample recruiting opportunities for ISIS and other terror groups. The U.S. government had found allies in Yemen officials and was working with their government to develop counter-terrorism methods. Now that the shaky government has been obliterated by rebels and terrorist groups compete for dominance and destruction, the future of Yemen is unclear.

Oil for Silence Fuels Bahraini Torture Deaths

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:49 PM EDT, 23 May 2012

Bahraini Torture Victim, Photo by Nabeel RajabMANAMA, Bahrain — The call for democracy that began during Bahrain's Arab Spring has fomented into a full-scale revolution in response to the ruling Sunni monarchy's persistence in maintaining power by refusing to acquiesce to Bahraini citizens' demands for democratic elections.

External human rights groups have charged the monarchy with gross violations but lack sufficient access to the country to allow them to fully investigate. Internal investigations have confirmed that the Bahraini monarchy is guilty of gross human rights violations and have published their findings on several websites and papers found at the end of this post.

The latest victim of this dictatorial regime could be Yousef Mowali, 23, who was found dead of an apparent drowning earlier this week. However, Al Jazeera reported that autopsy results indicated evidence of torture, and if the allegations are proven true, then Mowali could be latest Bahraini to have died from torture while in the custody of Bahraini military police.

In testimony before the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), representatives of the monarchy continued to assert that all individuals in detention are being treated humanely as their cases progress through the justice system. They have also vociferously denied any culpability in the deaths of Mowali and others.

The ruling Sunni monarchy has politicized the human rights abuses occurring in their nation by claiming that the violence is the result of sectarianism instigated by the Shiite minority and covert Iranian operatives who seek to overthrow the monarchy.

According to the monarchy, the suppression of 'sporadic' violence in which some people may have sustained injuries is justified to maintain law and order and to protect the sovereignty of Bahrain.

Many countries in which martial law has been instituted under the guise of suppressing 'subversive elements,' find that once law and order is restored the military often refuses to relinquish power even after the crisis has passed.

In Bahrain the military could prove just as dangerous to the monarchy as they are to the protesters. This possibility is bolstered by images of wanton violence, destruction, and undisciplined behavior by a police force seemingly out of control.

The military in Bahrain has been responsible for the disappearance of hundreds of people, they have maimed, killed, and disappeared thousands more, and a growing number of women have been assaulted and raped by policemen.

Though human rights abuses have been substantiated through empirical evidence, it is the videotaped footage of police brutality that refutes the monarchy's claims of benevolence and a desire for sincere reform.

In late 1990 "some of the most egregious offenders included Ian Henderson, a former colonial officer employed in Bahrain who was accused by multiple witnesses of torturing prisoners. Adel Flaifel, a notorious security officer identified by many detainees as having overseen torture, both of whom were given immunity under Royal Decree 56 of 2002.

The torture described by many human rights reports was widespread and systematic. Up to 1866 who made up 64% of detainees reported being tortured during this time period by members from three government agencies, namely the Ministry of Interior, the National Security Agency, and the Bahrain Defence Force. (Source: Wikipedia)

Victims claimed that representatives from each of these agencies were actively involved in interrogating detainees in relation to the unrest leading up to Bahrain's Arab Spring uprising.

Though, as one commentator noted, these figures hail from a 'distant' past, the fact that allegations of torture and abuse persist nearly twenty years later signifies a pattern of systemic and despotic governance. These abuses which have occurred over a long period of time have only become more visible because of the uprising, and the legislative reforms ratified by the BICI look good on paper but do not seem to have translated into real change.

At the grassroots level people are still suffering abuse at the hands of those who are charged with protecting them, and like the civil rights movements which occurred in other countries like South Africa, United States, and India to name a few, it was because of the sustained will of the people that these governments eventually had to bring their governance inline with the human rights legislation codified in their constitutions.

Most troubling about Bahrain's 'Bloody Spring' is the fact that both the United States and the United Kingdom, two countries that present themselves as the enforcers of global justice and the arbiters of human rights abuses, have remained silent on this grave issue. In fact, both governments have recently announced their support of the Bahraini monarchy during official state visits apparently out of fear that a rift between the two nations could adversely impact national security interests and oil supplies.

For more in-depth coverage of this issue view the news reports below, and since a picture is worth a thousand words, the video footage of the brutal crackdown and its victims presents undeniable proof that the Bahraini monarchy is unwilling to entertain democracy and will not go 'gently into that good night.'

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Al Khalifa's Vendetta Against Bahraini Medics

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:14 PM EDT, 21 March 2012

A Wounded Shiite Bahraini DemonstratorBAHRAIN – On Tuesday, 20 March 2012, the Bahraini attorney general concluded his summation in the government’s case against the medics who defied an injunction against treating wounded Arab Spring protesters last year.

Although, the prosecutor initially suggested that the charges against the 20 medics would be drop, they changed course last week with an announcement that the government decided to pursue charges against 5 of the healthcare workers. The remaining 15 cases would be transferred from a military to an as yet unspecified professional tribunal.

Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, the justice minister, directed the public prosecutor to release a statement clarifying the government’s intent to prosecute the defendants for violating an injunction against treating wounded protesters. The majority of the wounded were Shi'a, which leads some observers to believe that these trials may be motivated by sectarian agendas.

The predominantly Sunni government did not provide an explanation for the choice to pursue the indictments and trials against the medical workers, despite initial claims that they would bring no charges against the doctors. It is also unclear what methodology drove the decision to try five medics while referring the remaining cases to a tribunal.

The Bahraini government’s decision to prosecute these doctors drew international condemnation, and human rights groups were vociferous in their assertion that the medical workers were being punished simply because they helped civilians during the bloody crackdown by state security forces during the anti-government demonstrations.

Last September, the military court sentenced each of the doctors to 15-year jail terms for the crimes of sedition, incitement to overthrow the government, stockpiling weapons, and taking hostages. These charges arose out of an incident when 20 doctors and other medical staff refused to stop treating the injured protesters and subsequently barricaded themselves in Salmaniya hospital.

After the militia agreed to let them leave, the medics disbanded peacefully and were of the understanding that the matter was concluded. However, they were subsequently charged and their cases referred to a military court. In the face of worldwide criticism, their cases were moved to a civil court  where the charges were dismissed. The presiding judge in the current case provided no explanation for why the initial charges were never dropped, nor why the defendants had not been informed of their continued indictments.

Bahrain is a pivotal ally to the United States, hosting the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, providing an observation point for America in the Middle East, and aiding its efforts to monitor Iran and its nuclear program. Michael Posner, the US assistant secretary of state, said last month that Bahrain should seek "alternatives to criminal prosecution" in the case.

An Anti-Zionist Jew? | Dovid Yisroel Weiss

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:09 PM EDT, 19 March 2012

rabbis against zionism" by kamran xeb

UNITED STATES - When people think of Jews, the general consensus is that the community is monolithic and closed, and that all Jews unilaterally support the State of Israel and its policies.

As one of our readers reminded us, Jon Stewart, who is Jewish, and has a syndicated program called "The Daily Show," is the rare exception in the American media landscape, because he has built a significant audience using political satire, which often pillories Israel's policies.

Also, there are a number of American Jews, Israelis, and NGOs established to lobby for the Rights of Palestinians and Ethiopian Jews, but these voices of moderation are often drowned out by the cacophonous clamor of politicians and military strategists.

Because of the Holocaust, any dissension by a Jew is tantamount to treason, viewed as a great betrayal, and the dissenters branded as anti-Semitic. This is particularly the case when a Jew speaks out against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in particular, and its military policies in general.

This is not to say that there aren’t contentious factions in Islam, which has approximately 1.6 billion followers according to Pew Research Center. In fact, a great deal of blood has been shed between the Sunni and Shiites. The rift centers primarily around the rule of succession and the belief that the Mahdi, “the rightly-guided one” whose role is to bring a just global caliphate into being has already been here according to the Shiites, but has yet to emerge for the Sunnis.

The Sunni branch believes that the first four caliphs--Mohammed's successors--rightfully took his place as the leaders of Muslims. They recognize the heirs of the four caliphs as legitimate religious leaders. These heirs ruled continuously in the Arab world until the break-up of the Ottoman Empire following the end of the First World War. Shiites, in contrast, believe that only the heirs of the fourth caliph, Ali, are the legitimate successors of Mohammed." (Source: George Mason University, History News Network)

Then, there is Christianity, which at the turn of the millennium had “33,820 denominations with 3,445,000 congregations/churches composed of 1,888 million affiliated Christians.” (Source: World Christian Encyclopedia

Though there have been some key issues like Gay Marriage and Abortion, which has split Christendom across denomination, the conversations often heated and sometimes contention are not as shocking as the antithetical position Neturei Karta takes against Zionism, which is mistakenly believed to be synonymous with Judaism.

Rabbi Dovid Yisroel Weiss, 56, Orthodox Jew, activist, and spokesman for Neturei Karta, believes that the State of Israel is not legitimate. Based in Monsey, New York, Weiss believes that observant Jews should peacefully oppose the existence of the Israeli state.

"It would be forbidden for us to have a State, even if it would be in a land that is desolate and uninhabited. This is against the will of the Almighty and this is not what it means to be a Jew." He says that Zionists have hijacked Judaism which is a spiritual movement, and in its place has created "rivers of blood in trying to maintain its ascendancy." He is also vociferous in his opposition to the occupation of Palestine.

In 2001 he attended the UN-organized World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa, as part of the Islamic Human Rights Commission delegation. During the conference, United States and Israeli delegates walked out in an unsuccessful attempt to silence condemnation of alleged institutional racism in Israel.

View his interviews below and decide for yourself if he makes a valid argument.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9OIqy6md9w&feature=related]

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUSZNkf_9JY]

 

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