The New World Disorder

Tariq Ali, in this exclusive interview, seamlessly switches from contemporary historian to scholar-at-large to polemicist to raconteur, as he tackles many of the impinging issues of our times. By SASHI KUMAR, Frontline

He was in southern India after nearly 30 years. He had come to Kerala to deliver the Chinta Ravindran Memorial Lecture at Thrissur. My friend, the well-known writer Paul Zacharia and I were showing him the sights and we had just been to the site of the archaeological dig at Pattanam near Kodungalloor where he saw the unearthed pottery and artefacts that were reconstructing the fascinating story of an early society in these parts, already in maritime contact with West Asian ports and ancient Rome. From there we proceeded to the nearby Cheraman juma masjid, considered the first mosque in India, and perhaps the second in the world, dating back to A.D. 629. There was only a little evidence of that ancient patrimony left; the quaint old native structure had been all but pulled down some 50 years back and a more commodious, more standardised edifice built around it. All that was left were some pillars, a section of a doorway, another of a beamed ceiling and a crumbling staircase leading up to the attic, all in wood. But a photograph of the structure, as it was in 1905, hung on the wall. Continue reading “The New World Disorder”

Your Wife Has Just Left the Country

Saudi Arabia Implements SMSTracking System

By??Nov. 24, 2012

?Saudi women board a taxi in Riyadh 14 Ju
HASSAN AMMAR / AFP / GETTY IMAGES?Saudi women have few travel choices: they either must take a taxi or have a male companion drive. But a new campaign encourages women to flout the ban.

Saudi Arabia has long been the only country in the world that does not allow women to drive. Now, there appears to be a new development in controlling the movements of its female population: the Kingdom has reportedly introduced an electronic tracking system alerting male guardians when a woman has left the country.
Map of the territory and area covered by prese...
Map of the territory and area covered by present-day Saudi Arabia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reports emerged of the system last week when?Manal al-Sherif, a women?s rights campaigner who has urged women to defy the driving ban, was alerted by a husband who received a message from the immigration authorities advising him that his wife had left the international airport in Riyadh. He happened to be traveling with her.
(MORE😕IKEA Edits Women Out of Saudi Arabian Catalog)
Women are treated as legal minors in the Saudi guardianship system, requiring permission from their male guardian if they want to work or study. Women who want to travel outside the country need their male guardian to sign what is known as a ?yellow sheet? at the airport or border.
Badriya al-Bishr a columnist critical of the Kingdom?s conservative interpretation of Islamic law,?said to the AFP?that women were being held under a ?state of slavery?,?adding?that ?this is technology used to serve backwardness in order to keep women imprisoned.?
The system notifying male guardians that their dependents?which includes their wife, children and foreign workers sponsored by them?had left the country appears to have been in place for a couple of years now.?Ahmed Al Omran, a Saudi blogger, explains that?it appears that this service, which in the past was an opt-out service, is now reaching those who had previously registered their details with the Ministry of Interior.
?The problem is not that there is now an electronic system that sends an SMS when women travel,??writes Omran. ?The problem is that the government is enforcing rules of male guardianships even on the rest of us who don?t believe in such rules.?
There are signs that the Kingdom is slowly changing its approach to the rights of women. Last year King Abdullah granted women the right to vote and run in the 2015 municipal elections. What impact that will have on the guardianship system however is yet to be determined.
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Australian foreign minister suggests ?assassination? of Syrian leaders

By Patrick O?Connor?

11 October 2012 (World Socialist Website)

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr has suggested that high-level Syrian government figures could be assassinated as part of the US-backed civil war to oust President Bashir al-Assad. Carr?s remarks underscore the reckless and illegal character of the US-led regime change operation underway in Syria, taking place with the full support of the Australian Labor government.
Interviewed on Monday on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation?s ?Four Corners? program, the foreign minister expressed concern that the Syrian army had proven a more effective fighting force than the so-called rebels, who have been funded and armed by Washington?s allies in the region, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
?I think we?d know the conflict has evened up if there is a major defection from the Assad government, especially a defection that takes part of its armed forces with it,? Carr continued. ?Perhaps?this sounds brutal and callous?perhaps an assassination, combined with a major defection taking a large part of its military, is what is required to get, one, a ceasefire, and, two, political negotiations.? Continue reading “Australian foreign minister suggests ?assassination? of Syrian leaders”

Washington?s Hypocrisies

By Paul Craig Roberts

May 27, 2012 “Information Clearing House” –The US government is the second worst human rights abuser on the planet and the sole enabler of the worst?Israel. But this doesn?t hamper Washington from pointing the finger elsewhere.
The US State Department?s ?human rights report? focuses its ire on Iran and Syria, two countries whose real sin is their independence from Washington, and on the bogyman- in-the-making?China, the country selected for the role of Washington?s new Cold War enemy.
Hillary Clinton, another in a long line of unqualified Secretaries of State, informed ?governments around the world: we are watching, and we are holding you accountable,? only we are not holding ourselves accountable or Washington?s allies like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the NATO puppets. Continue reading “Washington?s Hypocrisies”

Exposed: US press 'freedom'


Middle East
Nov 22, 2011
THE ROVING EYE

By Pepe Escobar

Last week, independent journalist Sam Husseini went to a news conference by Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia at Washington?s National Press Club – where Husseini is a member.
Then he did something that is alien to United States corporate media culture. He behaved as an actual journalist and asked a tough, pertinent, no-holds-barred question. Here it is, as relayed by Husseini’s blog:

I want to know what legitimacy your regime has, sir. You come before us, representative of one of the most autocratic, misogynistic regimes on the face of the earth. Human Rights Watch and other reports of torture, detention of activists, you squelched the democratic uprising in Bahrain, you tried to overturn the democratic uprising in Egypt and indeed you continue to oppress your own people. What legitimacy does your regime have – other than billions of dollars and weapons? [1]

Prince Turki, former Saudi intelligence supremo, former pal of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, former Saudi ambassador to the US, reacted by changing the subject. [2]
Continue reading “Exposed: US press 'freedom'”

Eleven days in Saudi Gitmo

Syed Neaz Ahmed

I worked as a senior lecturer at?Umm al-Qura University in Mecca until last January. I taught English language, linguistics and creative writing. Over 28 years I signed three contracts with the university and had no problem whatsoever, either with students or the administration.
I taught graduates and undergraduates and, as a tribute to my good standing, I was often asked to teach for the women’s campus ? which involves use of CCTV whereby the pupils can see the teachers but the teacher cannot see them.
In collaboration with a Saudi colleague I co-authored a series of three books on writing for students of engineering and Islamic architecture. In addition I wrote weekly columns for the two Jeddah-based English newspapers, the Saudi Gazette and Arab News. I appeared on Saudi TV chat shows and was often interviewed on Jeddah FM radio. For more than fours year I also worked as an online editor of Saudi Gazette.
When my tenure with the university ended, I was offered the post of editorial consultant at the?Muslim World League ? a non-government organisation based in Mecca. Since I am a British citizen my job transfer had to be approved by the interior ministry in Riyadh and I signed a one-year (usually renewable) contract. All my papers were in order.
In May, I was called unexpectedly to the Mecca passport office and detained for several hours without any apparent reason. On that day they confiscated my passport and my residence permit. When I protested that I would not be able to drive my car or go out on the street without a valid residence permit they gave me a temporary one valid only for Mecca. I was not allowed to leave the city: my confinement had already begun.
On the morning of 7 June, while working at the Muslim World League office, I was asked to return to the passport office. I was detained in the main office for several hours with no explanation and then transferred to another outfit run by the interior ministry.
I had no idea why I was being detained or where I was being sent. They took away my briefcase and my mobile phone and pushed me into a room that was already full with around 500 inmates. The air conditioning and the fans did not work. There was no drinking water. The toilets were dirty and three of the five toilets were without water and electricity. One can only imagine the stink. In June temperatures in Mecca run up to 50C.
Inmates in this Saudi Gitmo were moved from one room to another every two hours or so. As there was not enough room to sit or stretch your legs it added to the stress and strain. We were made to sleep on bare floors and fights for sitting/sleeping space were not uncommon. There was a stabbing over a small sum of money ? I don’t know if the victim survived.
The guards in Mecca were very “kind” to me. They never missed an opportunity to call me “animal”, kick my ankles with their boots or step on my toes.
After four days handcuffed in Mecca, I was transferred to a detention centre in Jeddah where conditions were even worse. In warehouse-like halls with no air conditioning, no fans and temperatures rising to 50C, about 1,500 people were locked up.
We were provided with food but we ate only enough to survive as it was rumoured that the food was drugged to make us sleep. From the sleeping patterns of the inmates, this was probably true.
After 11 days of hell I was deported to Bahrain from where I made my way back to England. I had to leave everything ? my car, my flat and my belongings.
I still do not know why I was singled out for this treatment which has left me jobless, broke and with a traumatic experience that is hard to overcome. As a Muslim I know that this is not Islam.