The Real Aim of Trump’s Trip to Saudi Arabia by ROBERT FISK

Donald Trump sets off on Friday to create the fantasy of an Arab Nato. There will be dictators aplenty to greet him in Riyadh, corrupt autocrats and thugs and torturers and head choppers. There will be at least one zombie president – the comatose, undead Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria who neither speaks nor, apparently, hears any more – and, of course, one totally insane president, Donald Trump. The aim, however, is simple: to prepare the Sunni Muslims of the Middle East for war against the Shia Muslims. With help from Israel, of course.

Even for those used to the insanity of Arab leadership – not to mention those Westerners who have still to grasp that the US President is himself completely off his rocker – the Arab-Muslim (Sunni) summit in Saudi Arabia is almost beyond comprehension. From Pakistan and Jordan and Turkey and Egypt and Morocco and 42 other minareted capitals, they are to come so that the effete and ambitious Saudis can lead their Islamic crusade against “terrorism” and Shiism. The fact that most of the Middle East’s “terrorism” – Isis and al-Qaeda, aka the Nusrah Front – have their fountainhead in the very nation to which Trump is travelling, must and will be ignored. Never before in Middle Eastern history has such a “kumidia alakhta” – quite literally “comedy of errors” in Arabic – been staged.

On top of all this, they have to listen to Trump’s ravings on peace and Islamic “extremism”, surely the most preposterous speech to be uttered by a US president since he is going to have to pretend that Iran is extremist – when it is Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi Isis clones who are destroying Islam’s reputation throughout the world. All this while he is fostering war. Continue reading

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Slavery Now: Migrant Labor in the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia by CHRISTIANE SALIBA

Slavery still exists today. And it exists in the Gulf states and in Saudi Arabia.

I am Syrian, but I was born and raised in Dubai where my parents worked. When I was in grade school we often collected donations to give to the migrant laborers in a construction camp near our school. We went to visit the camp to deliver the donations, and I witnessed with my own eyes the miserable conditions of the laborers. I could not believe my eyes—it was a dump. A twelve by ten room shared by eight men. Forty-five workers shared one toilet and a shower. The toilet and the shower were filthy.

In the eighteen years I spent living in the United Arab Emirates, I learned a lot about how people treat other people. Over nine million people live in the United Arab Emirates, ninety-two percent of them are expats and migrant workers. Most of the migrant laborers come from Pakistan, India, Philippines, Bangladesh, or Sri Lanka. They work long hours and earn very little money in construction, garbage collection, and other menial jobs. The gap between the rich and the poor is huge. People from those states furnish cheap labor, and they face racism and discrimination. There is a hierarchy. Arab expatriates may hold higher paying positions, but even within Arab expatriates there is another hierarchy. Expatriates from Saudi Arabia are usually treated better than expatriates from Egypt for example. They are also discriminated against. Nationality plays a major role in what position a person can hold in the United Arab Emirates. Even at McDonalds or KFC the managers were always Arabs while the other employees were Filipinos, Indians, and the other people at the bottom of the social hierarchy. You will never find a Filipino being a manager over an Arab worker. The division of labor is appalling – the same inequities that exist in the economic system of the United States have been reproduced in these countries as well. Continue reading

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When Israeli Fighter Jets Almost Killed Nehru by VIJAY PRASHAD

May 15th is Nakba Day, the Day of Catastrophe for the Palestinians. In 1948, that was the date when the Israeli State began to emerge and three quarters of a million Palestinians were ejected from their land. The term Nakba was coined by the Syrian historian Constantine Zurayk, who was the Acting President of the American University of Beirut (Lebanon) in 1952.

Part of the expelled Palestinian nation had fled to Gaza, where – from the first – they lived in refugee camps under the care of the fledgling United Nations. War between Israel and Egypt across Gaza drew a UN response in 1956, when the United Nations Emergency Force arrived to guard the Armistice Demarcation Lines. Amongst the blue helmets to make their way to Gaza were a significant detachment of Indian troops. Indian troops had been in Gaza during what was known as the First Battle of Gaza in 1917 that pitted the British imperial forces against the Ottoman imperial forces. They had fought across Iraq and Egypt, including up the Levant into Jerusalem. Their story is largely forgotten. I was glad to see it reprised in Leila Tarazi Fawaz’s monumental history, A Land of Aching Hearts: The Middle East in the Great War (2014) in a chapter entitled ‘South Asians in the War’. Continue reading

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JDL PARTNERS WITH SOLDIERS OF ODIN ON ‘AD HOC’ BASIS

The images of Soldiers of Odin (SOO) that have made the news and been circulated across the Internet are far from flattering. They purport to show members of the club – which has been labeled racist, extremist and Islamophobic – engaged in violence with anti-racist protesters. Continue reading

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Arrest of Palestinians for Potential Terror Attacks Brings New Meaning to ‘Minority Report’

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No veils, no ‘abnormal’ beards: China’s first anti-extremism law targets Xinjiang

Beijing: China’s first anti-extremism law comes into effect on Saturday, enforcing bans on full-face veils and long beards in the restive far-western region of Xinjiang.

Such bans had previously only been applied ad hoc. The Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region sits along the ancient Silk Road and is home to around 10 million Muslim Uighurs, who have faced increasing restrictions after ethnic violence erupted in 2009.

The law bans 15 behaviours which are labelled extremist activities, including refusing to watch Chinese state television and radio news broadcasts.

“Expanding the concept of halal beyond food items”, “abnormal” beards and names, “wearing veils and robes [and] symbols of extremism”, marrying or divorcing through religious means instead of Chinese law, not allowing children to attend government schools and deliberately breaking the family planning policy are also banned. Continue reading

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The Education of Marine Le Pen by ROBERT FISK

Marine Le Pen has been doing a little Trumping in Beirut. Yes, all the way from Paris she came to ride her French presidential election campaign through the sectarian thickets of Lebanon by refusing to wear a veil to meet the Sunni Muslim Grand Mufti. Given the nonsense she spoke to the (Christian) president of Lebanon and the schoolgirl interview she granted to the country’s (Christian) French-language newspaper, many Lebanese – and a few Christians, too – concluded that this wretched lady embarked on her visit with the sole aim of insulting the country’s Muslims.

Of course, it was a publicity stunt. Marine Le Pen doesn’t care about the votes of Lebanese Christians who hold French passports – her Front National (FN) anyway wants to get such dual nationals to choose their country of citizenship, so the poor old Christians of Lebanon whom Le Pen supposedly loves may have to abandon their country of origin if they want France to “protect” them from the Muslim hordes. No, her refusal to wear a veil – a mere headscarf to show respect to the Sunni Mufti, Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian – was intended for her domestic audience in France. Muslims want to subjugate women. It was the old message. To hell with Lebanon. Which is surely why she was accompanied on this pantomime by more French than Lebanese journalists. Continue reading

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