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Bahrain, MENA & Arab Spring
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How Obama Caved on Bahrain

How Obama Caved on Bahrain | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

"...

Way back in 2011, when the Arab Spring began and protests spread across the country, demanding more democracy and better representation for Shiites, Obama himself pressed for change in Bahrain. In February 2011, as protesters massed in the tens of thousands at Manama’s Pearl Roundabout, the president issued a statement welcoming reform plans — which, alas, were never really carried through — announced by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Obama reaffirmed that it was the U.S. position that Bahrain’s stability would be ensured through “respecting the universal rights of the people of Bahrain and reforms that meet the aspirations of all Bahrainis.”

The king, however, answered Obama’s call for reform with more repression. On March 14, he invited in troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to help put down the protests. Thousands of security forces stormed the Pearl Roundabout demonstrations on March 16, clearing the protest camp and arresting its leaders. Two days later, the Pearl Monument at the center of the roundabout, which had become an icon of the protests, was demolished, and closed the area off to the public.

In the aftermath of the crackdown, Obama’s tone on Bahrain noticeably toughened. The message was clear: Stability must depend on respecting the rights of the people, not on foreign troops. When the president gave a major speech on the Middle East in May 2011, he was even more critical of Bahrain and its policy of repression: “We have insisted both publicly and privately that mass arrests and brute force are at odds with the universal rights of Bahrain’s citizens, and … such steps will not make legitimate calls for reform go away.”

Later in that speech, he said that Shiites “must never have their mosques destroyed in Bahrain,” raising one of the most explosive aspects of how the Sunni government has attempted to suppress protests by the Shiite majority.

In Obama’s September 2011 address to the U.N. General Assembly, the tiny country got a whole paragraph. The president said that the United States “will continue to call on the government and the main opposition bloc — the Wifaq — to pursue a meaningful dialogue that brings peaceful change that is responsive to the people.” He also said that reforms had been made, but that “more is required” — three words that amounted to a clear message that the monarchy was falling short. The White House was not about to let the king off the hook — and the president himself was raising the issue, not some spokesperson.

What has happened since then? Not much.

There has been little or no progress in Bahrain — domestic tensions have instead risen higher. Everything President Obama demanded has been refused. In June 2011, an independent commission was established to examine the events during the early months of the uprising, and in November it reported its findings to the king. Its recommendations, however, were roundly ignored: In 2012, the commission’s chairman, law professor Cherif Bassiouni, delivered what George Washington University’s Marc Lynch termed a “scathing critique of its failure to undertake any deeper political or social reforms.”

Bassiouni has given the government credit for taking a number of his recommendations — even as he laid out Manama’s failings to resolve the underlying grievances of the protests. “There are very, very fundamental social and economic issues involved in the Shiite population that need to be addressed, and have not been addressed,” he said in a 2014 interview. “When you have people who do not have the hope of seeing themselves as equal citizens, as having equal opportunities in a particular country, living in mostly economic underprivileged areas in high-density population areas, they explode.”

Others are even more critical. In May 2014, Human Rights Watch issued areport finding that, despite the king’s promised reforms, “members of security forces are rarely prosecuted for unlawful killings, including in detention, and the few convictions have carried extremely light sentences.”

The Bahraini government has also adopted new methods to silence opposition voices. In January 2015, it stripped 72 citizens of their nationality, renderingmany of them stateless. As Amnesty International pointed out, the authorities included human rights and political activists on the same list as Bahrainis who allegedly went to fight with the Islamic State (IS). So the government of Bahrain is trying to equate peaceful protest with jihadi terrorism.

While the government is painting all protesters as “terrorists” who support the Islamic State, its own policy appears to be one of promoting sectarian divisions.

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'Regime in Bahrain is very keen to cover its violations'- expert

'Regime in Bahrain is very keen to cover its violations'- expert | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

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Has anything changed for the better in Bahrain since then?

Absolutely not. In fact, it has got worse. There is a lot of chaos in public relations and propaganda exercises that the Bahrain regime I believe is very much led in by their preps from Washington or London. This propaganda was for example calling the international commission on human rights. It was in November in 2011, they convened this commission and the commission has come up with some disturbing things about the violations going on plus recommendations about how to reform the police or what have you. But it was all white notch. The regime has completely ignored all the recommendations that this commission came up with and that the regime undertook. And Washington and London knew this pretty well. They are really well aware of the cynicism, that is going on in Bahrain and have turned a blind eye to it, the issue of the occasional rhetorical concern about human rights violations in Bahrain. Fundamentally it is completely disingenuous because the regime is continuing, they are repressing people, violating rules, imprisoning people, arbitrarily torturing them to death while in prison, shooting them on the street with impunity, using excessive, massive amounts of tear gas that poisons people in their homes. With all the violations, the west says nothing about it.
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Bahrain: The Arab Spring Protests You Don't Know About

Bahrain: The Arab Spring Protests You Don't Know About | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

The government of Bahrain has made a mistake by ignoring the will of the majority of its own people.  King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa has refused to incorporate members of the Shiite elite into the government. ....

After the major protests, the government didn't change the country's political system to incorporate the Shia majority into politics. Bahrain's electoral system is one of the most notorious examples of the persisting discrimination. To ensure Sunni domination in the elections, constituencies have been gerrymandered; although Shiite citizens account for two-thirds of the population, less than half of the seats in the National Assembly are held by Shiite representatives. The government has allowed harassment of opposition politicians, banned several NGOs that monitored the government, and arrested journalists and bloggers.

The Shiite community has suffered economically since the end of the major wave of protests in 2012. Due to high unemployment, almost 53,000 Shiite families are waiting to receive housing from the government, but most are passed over due to Bahrain's policy of naturalizing and providing housing to Pakistanis, Yemenis, Jordanians, and Syrians to balance the Shia-Sunni ratio.

Although protests still smolder in Bahraini towns, world attention is turned to the spectacular events in Egypt, Syria, and Turkey. All protests have been banned in Bahrain since October, but the ban hasn't stopped the opposition from taking to the streets to demand the resignation of the world's longest-serving prime minister, Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, the king's uncle, who has been in office for 32 years now. The passion of protesters has remained strong; they are still able to fill the streets of the capital, Manama, as well as smaller towns....

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#Bahrain: The Clouds of Death

Published on Mar 16, 2013

The Clouds of Death

The unfolding events in Bahrain reveal to every observer that the security crackdown has crossed all lines and gone far beyond rationality. As the security forces have been witnessed to respond to the ongoing peaceful protests and demonstrations with excessive use of gas in a collective punishment on all residents, resulting in tens of deaths so far. That is, added to the brutal home raids and street arrests, along with other measures that are far from meeting legal standards and security proficiency. 


The Idea
This documentary aims to shed light on the suppressive methods that have turned non-lethal arms, used to disperse protests, to lethal ones, by not abiding by manufacturer's warnings which state very clearly that the misuse of these arms can cause severe injuries and damages, or even death. As mentioned in most warning labels on grenades used by Bahrain authorities in streets.
The documentary details the nature of the gas-grenade ingredients and the damages and illnesses they can cause, as well as the fatal injuries caused by the deliberate misuse of such arms, as the forces have repeatedly aimed these arms directly at persons.




The film
The documentary goes through the stories of six victims of different ages, 

The film includes interviews and stories of six victims, and which are all taken on ground in Bahrain, as briefed below:
1- The death of the martyr Ali al-Sheikh (12 year old) who was directly targeted with a gas grenade at close range on Eid day. The documentary shows the injuries the boy sustains to the neck and face. It also includes interviews with both his parents, his father explaining the details of the incident on ground.
2- An interview with a brother of a disabled woman who died in her house from gas asphyxia with video footages of the security forces caught red-handed throwing gas canisters inside the old house.
3- The story of the martyr Sayed Jawad, a 35 year old who feared going to hospital after he had suffered from gas asphyxiation and septicemia. His mother tells how he spent the last hours of his life in hospital in an emotional interview.
4- The child martyr Sayed Hashim, who is a friend if the martyr Ali al-Sheikh and was murdered the same way.
5- An interview with the parents of, Zainab Haram, an infant who was only one month old when she was exposed to the regime forces' excessive use of gas in neighborhoods. The little one received medical treatment the same day Emergency law was declared in Bahrain and the Saudi forces entered Bahraini territory. Zainab lost eyesight and her medical report has been hidden. In this documentary, experts talk about how toxic gas can cause such damages.
6- The story of Bahrain's youngest martyr, Sajida, who died at the age of five days after her family's house and neighborhood were filled with gas by the regime forces. We were given video footages-from the mother- of the baby going through breathing difficulties.




The Documentary also includes comments of 11 experts from different countries, and they are as follows:
1- Professor Robert Douglas, Respiratory Physiologist and researcher --London
2- Dr. Peter Hall: Executive Director of Physicians for Human Rights- London 
He has been working in the organization for 15 years. He talks about the types of gasses used and the human rights violations in Bahrain.
3- Dr. Goerge Fahila: Head of emergency department at Hammoud hospital --Lebanon
4- Srgabo Ganico: Retired police officer and expert in security affairs --Russia
He talks about the professional security methods and legal standards to disperse protests and how to deal with any riot acts.
5- Saultan Allam: British Police Officer since 1984 --London
He has been through intensive training in security and order maintenance. He has a good experience in handling protests and the necessary security measures that take place as the situation on ground develops, especially the use of gas.
6- Dr. Fadl Daher: Independent Security and Investigations Professional and General Secretary at Lebanese Center for the Rule of Law (LCRL)-Lebanon
7- Nadeem Houry: HRW Deputy director of Middle East and Notrh Africa --Lebanon
8- Prof. Taysir Hamiya: Chemical expert-Lebanon
9- Nabeel Rajab: Head of Bahrain Centre for Human Rights --Bahrain
He talks about the methods of the security forces, its disrespect for human rights and whether it acts in systematic or individual behavior. 
10- Rola Al-Saffar: Head of Bahrain Nursing Society --Bahrain
She talks about the side effects civilians suffer and the different types of gasses used, in addition to the fear of visiting hospitals after they have been occupied by the military.
11- Dr. Taha al-Durazi: Consultant Neurosurgeon --Bahrain

We managed to find several types of unexploded gas grenades and canisters used by the Bahraini regime and film the mutilation of those grenades in Bahrain

 
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'Forsaken by the West': Obama and the Betrayal of Democracy in Bahrain

'Forsaken by the West': Obama and the Betrayal of Democracy in Bahrain | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
With the world watching other Middle East hotspots, the country's monarchy has continued suppressing anti-authoritarian dissidents -- and the White House has let it happen.
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Salafism and Arab Democratization | Stratfor

Salafism and Arab Democratization | Stratfor | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

The outbreak of the Arab Spring in 2011 brought significant attention to groups -- known as Islamists -- seeking to establish Islamic states in countries once ruled by secular autocrats. The bulk of this attention went to already established political groups such as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which caused consternation in the West when its Freedom and Justice Party won control of both Egypt's parliament and its presidency.

Much less attention was paid to the Brotherhood's principal Islamist competitors, members of the ultraconservative Salafist movement, despite their second-place finish in Egypt's parliamentary elections. This changed in late September when certain Salafists played a key role in the unrest in reaction to an anti-Islamic video posted on the Internet.

Since then, Salafism has become the subject of much public discourse -- though as is often the case with unfamiliar subjects, questions are vastly more numerous than answers. This is compounded by the rapidity of its rise from a relatively minor, apolitical movement to an influential Islamist phenomenon......




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اعدام الانسانية - Execution of humanity

الفلم الوثائقي "اعدام الانسانية" الذي يعرض المعاناة الكبيرة التي يمر بها شعب البحرين الأبي من انتاج شبكة 14 فبراير الاعلامية https://www.facebook.com/14Feb.M...
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الشيخ عمران حسين : الربيع البحرينى و دور آل سعود | Arab Spring in Bahrain and the role of Al-Saud

Bahrain: Not  a sectarian conflict....not Sunni, not Shiite.......An Al-Khalifa lust for power and  an Al-Saud insecurity......

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EA WorldView - Home - Bahrain Exclusive: An Interview with Maryam Alkhawaja 

EA WorldView - Home - Bahrain Exclusive: An Interview with Maryam Alkhawaja  | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Maryam Al-Khawaja is the Acting President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and the head of the international office of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR). She is the daughter of prominent human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a former head of BCHR, who was given a life sentence soon after last year's outbreak of mass protests. She's also the sister of Zainab Al-Khawaja, another prominent Bahraini human rights activist.

 

JS: Do you think Ramadan will be used as an excuse for the government to widen their crackdown on protesters and human rights defenders? And that's why Nabeel has been removed from the scene?

 

[Maryam Al-Khawaja]: They don't use it as an "excuse", although it may be the unspoken reason. It really has everything to do with the international response. It's not a coincidence that in January the regime was a lot more careful with Nabeel. When he was hit, the [US] State Department immediately released a statement. Representatives from the embassy visited him at home.

Now he gets arrested, imprisoned for periods [weeks] at a time, and yet nothing from the State Department; nothing from the US administration. The situation right now as it is is that Nabeel is in prison, possibly for a little more than two months; Zainab Alkhawaja, who is also one of the most active activists, is unable to walk without crutches for at least six weeks afer she was directly targeted and shot in the leg at close range, which not only shattered her thigh bone, but removed all skin and tore the muscle. Removing two of the most well-known activists from the streets at this time seems to be too convenient right before Ramadan to be a coincidence

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Shiites should embrace Arab Spring, not fear it: Lebanese cleric

Shiites should embrace Arab Spring, not fear it: Lebanese cleric | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Shiites should regard the Arab Spring as a continuity of their own revolution in asking for freedom and dignity, a member of the Supreme Shiite Islamic Council in Lebanon said.

Sheikh Sayyed Hani Fahs was commenting on the recent political victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab world after popular uprisings shook the region in the past couple of years.

“Our Sunni brothers should not get overexcited about their victory, because a majority does not need to fight for its share, but for its role,” he said in an interview with Al Arabiya, aired on Thursday.

“The majority in our region [Sunnis] has the task of protecting the diversities, and not only between religions, but also within the sects,” he added.

“I like to call it the diversity within the unity and the unity between diversities.”

Sheikh Fahs urged people from all beliefs to embrace the Arab Spring.

“Some of us say we learned about freedom from the Christians in our region, and now, we see some Christians siding with the dictator under the excuse of being scared from Islamists. This is illogical.”

The Sheikh believes the building of civil democratic states, devoid of political Islam, is the best political solution for Arab nations.

“When Turkey was building a secular state, while embracing modern Islam, we were looking at it as a role model,” he said.

“This model should have been implemented as a result of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.”

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Prison Island - By Tom Malinowski

Prison Island - By Tom Malinowski | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

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One U.S. commander recently told me, "If there were one-man, one-vote in Bahrain, we wouldn't be here."

In fact, the most prominent leaders of Bahrain's dissident movement say they do not oppose the U.S. military presence in their country. No one knows whether that sentiment will hold in the face of continued repression, but from the U.S. point of view, that is an argument for urgency in demanding reform, not caution. Bahrain's Shiite majority isn't likely to be kept down forever. It is surely in the U.S. interest to be seen supporting its legitimate aspirations before disappointment in the United States devolves into rage.

The problem with U.S. policy toward Bahrain is not that it takes geopolitics into account. It's that U.S. officials may be calculating the geopolitics incorrectly. There is a growing feeling in the Middle East that, however high-minded Obama's rhetoric about democracy may be, the United States will always line up with its autocratic Sunni allies in the Persian Gulf against their opponents, especially if those opponents are Shiite. To many, it looks like the United States opposes dictators like Syria's Assad not for the sake of oppressed people, but to aid one side in a Saudi-Iranian cold war. The Iranian government, as well as every anti-American group in the region, benefits from this perception. Bahrain is the place where America can disprove it.

In May 2011, Obama condemned the Bahraini government's use of "brute force" and said there could be no "real dialogue" in Bahrain "when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail." The administration should be projecting more of that kind of clarity and urgency today -- for the sake of both principle and national interest. ....

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Bahrain: The silent revolution

Bahrain: The silent revolution | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Bahraini human rights activist Zainab al-Khawaja was due to be out of prison on February 20. She has been serving concurrent sentences since February 2013. However, she was recently sentenced to a further four months on a new charge of "destroying private property". 

As Bahrainis mark the third anniversary of the pro-reform protest movement which came to be known asthe 14 February Coalition, human rights violations continue unabated in the country. Some 122 Bahrainis have since died from torture, lung infections caused by tear gas, and from live ammunition used by the Bahraini security forces.

Thus far, 1,300 Bahrainis have been arrested in connection with their role in the protests and those still in detention have been tortured and denied access to medical care. Hospitals have been militarised as doctors and nurses are harassed for treating victims of the protests. Thousands of workers have been dismissed or suspended from their jobs for taking part in the demonstrations. ....

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US Concerned Over Unrest in #Bahrain

US Concerned Over Unrest in #Bahrain | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

...We are disappointed by recent events that have happened on the ground and eroded the prospects of dialogue in Bahrain," said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
.... 
Last month, President Obama compared sectarian tensions in Bahrain to the violence in Iraq and Syria.
 
Bahrain is a majority Shi'ite country but is ruled by a Sunni royal family.  ...

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Bahrain's 'inconvenient revolution' grows impatient

Bahrain's 'inconvenient revolution' grows impatient | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

Maryam AlKhawaja: "...

This has been most frustrating for me, watching the progression of violence from the side of the opposition. Over time nonviolent activists have lost footing due to the inaction of the international community. 

A year ago, my family would urge people to use only nonviolent protest, and they would listen. When I visited in February, a more common response to this request was “what have you been able to do for us over the past two years?” Honestly, I didn’t have an answer for them. There has been no accountability for the Bahraini regime abroad.

I cannot blame people for becoming disenchanted with this idea of civil disobedience and nonviolence, because it has garnered absolutely no support from international governments. 

I hear people talk about protestors carrying guns on the ground in Libya, and receiving NATO and media support. In Bahrain, we demanded rights peacefully and nobody responded. And so people are resorting to violence. I fear the situation is becoming radicalized and very quickly...."

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Short film portraits of the Martin Ennals Award nominees for 2012-Nabeel Rajab Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja

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Bahrain: Silenced Spring

Bahrain: Silenced Spring | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

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The Bahraini government “believes they have international immunity,” says Maryam al-Khawaja, acting head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, “and they’re right.” Bahrain’s sensitive geographic location, just across the Persian Gulf from Iran, has meant that King al-Khalifa and his family have enjoyed a cozy relationship with the United States in recent years, exchanging cheap weapons for a Bahraini base for the US Navy’s 5th Fleet. Ideological and material support from its Saudi neighbors have provided the Bahraini king an extra measure of protection against criticism from Western governments, which can’t function without a steady stream of cheap Saudi crude. “Saudi oil,” al-Khawaja says, “is more valuable [to the West] than Bahraini lives.” Until world leaders make human rights a priority over their stakes in the global marketplace, we can expect more grim news from the Gulf. That is, if we get any at all.

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'Arab Spring' Leaders Receive 2012 George Meany- Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award

'Arab Spring' Leaders Receive 2012 George Meany- Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

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At the ceremony, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recognized the labor movements throughout the Arab region for their ongoing role in the struggle for democracy:

I’m proud to honor the brave working people of Bahrain and Tunisia, who transformed a wave of protests into the mass movement of democracy and economic equality that has come to be known as the Arab Spring. Unionists are a leading voice against corruption, for women’s rights and for a robust democracy with the rights of working people at its core…

Their courage inspires us, and we at the AFL-CIO have been proud to join the unions of Tunisia and Bahrain in this struggle. We will use every available channel to pursue the fundamental human rights that they so courageously champion. And we will not stop until you’ve achieved the goals you want and need. ...

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Anger Mismanagement: Bahrain’s Crisis Escalates

Anger Mismanagement: Bahrain’s Crisis Escalates | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
Tensions continue to rise in Bahrain between the ruling Sunni family and majority Shia anti-government protesters—and a peaceful resolution is increasingly unlikely.

 

'...

If the human cost is daunting, so too is the increasing sense that this conflict is on an inevitable path toward escalation. The window for a political solution at home is fast closing. Protesters are expanding their repertoire of resistance to include Molotov cocktails and more direct attacks on police. A counterrevolution against the protesters is also growing stronger and more radicalized. In early April, the first reports surfaced that civilian assailants of one sect were targeting another.

It didn’t have to come to this. More than perhaps any other of the countries touched by the Arab Spring, Bahrain had several critical chances to resolve the crisis without the bloodshed and turmoil that has marred recent events. Yet at every juncture, the opportunity for an exit from conflict was ignored. Part of that story is about a radical polarization of Bahraini society. But equally important are the changing geopolitics of the Arab Spring.....'

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The Arab Spring is bearing fruit in Saudi Arabia

The Arab Spring is bearing fruit in Saudi Arabia | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

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Fifty years ago, during the proxy war between Egypt and Saudi Arabia in Yemen, President Kennedy told the Saudis that internal reforms were the best way to ensure the regime’s survival. In the ensuing years, many viewed Kennedy’s statement as absurd; they believed Riyadh would continue to rule with an iron fist, and that the Saudi people would never rise up and demand their freedom.

This conventional wisdom overlooked the universal principle that all people long to be free and control their destiny. And although the Saudi monarchy has remained in power for the last 50 years, the reasons for its success are disappearing. The Saudi people now have access to outside information and media outlets, they have the ability to mass communicate, they no longer accept the subservient role of women, and, thanks to the Arab Spring, they realize they have the power to effect change. ...

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saudi ARABia SPRING .... has already sprung | First Blooms are flowering!

saudi ARABia SPRING ....  has already sprung  |  First Blooms are flowering! | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

The Al-Sauds need to get on board or get left behind!  They can chose to be extinct regime Dinosaurs or they can choose to be magnanimous leaders who stepped aside for the good of their people!

 

AHHHH!  The smell of spring in the air......I love it!

 

http://latuffcartoons.wordpress.com/

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Bahrain The Bleeding Pearl || اللؤلؤة النازفة

هو فيلم وثائقي قصير يسلط الضوء على سياسة التعذيب الممنهج في سجون البحرين والتي طالت فئات واسعة من المجتمع شملت سياسيين وأطباء ومهندسين ونقابيين وصحافيين وطلب...
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ArabsTalk: The Bahrain Revolution Q&A

Is the Bahrain Revolution really sectarian? Find out here as we speak to Bahraini activists in the UK, asking them your questions.
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