Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Kuwait executes seven people, including a prince

Kuwait has hanged seven prisoners, including a royal family member, according to a statement carried by the state-run KUNA news agency.The hangings on Wednesday were the first executions in the Gulf state since mid-2013. Its neighbour state, Bahrain, also executed three people recently.
Those executed in Kuwait included two Kuwaitis, two Egyptians, a Bangladeshi,a Filipina and an Ethiopian. They were convicted of offences ranging from murder, attempted murder, kidnapping and rape.The Kuwaiti government identified the royal as Sheikh Faisal Abdullah Al Jaber Al Sabah. He was convicted of shooting to death his nephew, another prince, in 2010 in what was a premeditated murder. He was also convicted of illegal possession of a firearm.
Nusra al-Enezi, a Kuwaiti woman found guilty of setting fire to a tent at her husband's wedding in 2009 as he married a second wife, was also executed. During the process she confessed that the fire, that killed 57 people, most women and children, was an act of revenge.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Egyptian high vourt rejects deal with S Arabia about islands in the Gulf of Aqaba

A top Egyptian courtm the High Administrative Court, has issued a final ruling rejecting a government plan to transfer two uninhabited Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia in a deal that had provoked outrage among Egyptians and prompted rare protests.
Cheers broke out in the Cairo courtroom as the judge read out the verdict confirming Egyptian sovereignty over Tiran and Sanafir and saying that the government had failed to provide evidence that the islands were Saudi.
The islands at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba control the narrow shipping lanes running north to the Red Sea port cities of Eilat and Aqaba, in Israel and Jordan.
The verdict, which is final, is a slap on the hnds of the Egy[ptian government that gave the islands away in exchange for a large Saudi loan. The case provoked angry reactions and three Egyptian lawyers filed a lawsuit. The verdict is bound to add to the friction that alraedy has risen between Riyadh and Cairo over a string of regional issues, including Syria and Yemen.

Bahrain executes three shia men convicted of killing police officers in 2014

Bahrain on Sunday has executed three Shia men who were convicted of killing three police officers in a bomb attack in March 2014, the authorities say.They were killed by a firing squad. The executions of the three men, who Bahraini officials say were part of the listed terrorist group Saraya al-Ashtar, are the first since a 2011 uprising, led by the Shia majority, calling for greater political rights. A week earlier a high court upheld their convictions.
Human rights officials say there are serious concerns that evidence may have been obtained under torture.The UN's special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings, Agnes Callamard, condemned the executions in a tweet saying: "Torture, unfair trial + flimsy evidence: these are extrajudicial killings."
"This is a black day in Bahrain's history. It is the most heinous crime committed by the government of Bahrain and a shame upon its rulers... This act is a security threat to Bahrain and the entire region," Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy told Reuters news agency.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani 1934-2017

Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died on Sunday at the age of 82, a big blow to moderates and reformists deprived now of a most influential supporter in the Islamic establishment.
His pragmatic policies – economic liberalization, better relations with the West and empowering elected bodies - appealed to many Iranians but were despised by hardliners.Few have wielded such influence in modern Iran. But since 2009 Rafsanjani and his family faced political isolation over their support for the opposition movement which lost a disputed election that year to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Rafsanjani headed the Expediency Council, a body which is intended to resolve disputes between the parliament and the Guardian Council. He was also a member of the Assembly of Experts, the clerical body that selects the supreme leader, Iran's most powerful figure. His absence from that debate, whenever it happens, means the chances of a pragmatist emerging as the next supreme leader are reduced. His death ahead of May's presidential elections is a blow to moderate president Hassan Rouhani who allied himself with Rafsanjani to win the 2013 election and went on to resolve Iran's long standoff with the West on the nuclear program.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017: Not a year for Palestinian celebrations

I wish all my readers a good and happy year 2017.
For Palestine it is a year of sour commemorations, though: the 100th birthday of the Balfour Declaration, the 70th of the Partition Resolution of 1947, and the 50th year of the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.
A gigantic bulldozer is destroying the  more than 700 years old houses of the Mughrabi Quarter in East Jersalem, to make room in front of the ''Western Wall''. Israel destroyed the 135 houses a few days after it took the eastern part of the city. One woman died under the rubble. The inhabitants received almost a year later a sequestration order, together with an offer of 200 Dinar compensation.