The duel of the century….. the House of Saud bullies its neighbor all in the name of religion……a silly premise to kill……no matter which religion it is…..
Our story beginswith the Houthi rebels in Yemen attacking and winning skirmishes with the Yemeni military….the Houthis are Shia and the House of Saud decided that a Shia country next to the Holy sites of Islam was unacceptable……so the war began with the Saudis attacking Houthi positions…..after months of constant airstrikes the small country of Yemen looks in worse shape than Syria after 4 years of civil war.
The Yemeni people are hungry and thirsty and the war continues…..a humanitarian crisis is looming even worse than it is today.
The civilian deaths are mounting up and up…..it is so bad that Saudi Arabia has been brought up on charges in front of the UN…..but that went no where…..the Western countries are running cover for the House of Saud……
For those that would like to get more information on this conflict may I suggest the following……..
The following maps aim to illustrate distinct facets of the Yemen conflict, and illuminate some rarely discussed aspects of its ongoing civil war.
In a U-turn at the United Nations Human Rights Council, Western governments dropped plans Wednesday for an international inquiry into human rights violations by all parties in the war in Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians in the last six months.
The change of direction came as the Netherlands withdrew the draft of a resolution it had prepared with support from a group of mainly Western countries that instructed the United Nations high commissioner for human rights to send experts to Yemen to investigate the conduct of the war.
That proposal was a follow-up to recommendations by the commissioner, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, who detailed in a report this month the heavy civilian loss of life inflicted not only by the relentless airstrikes of the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia but also by the indiscriminate shelling carried out by Houthi rebels.
Of course the US is doing what it always does….protect the Saudis at all costs……a usual suspect for denying the truth is McCain……..when asked about civilian deaths caused by the Saudis…….
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., spent the most time discussing the issue with me. But his answers were perplexing.
“They may be bombing civilians, which is actually not true,” McCain said, when asked about civilian casualties in Yemen.
“Civilians aren’t dying?” I asked.
“No, they’re not,” the senator replied. “Oh, I’m sure civilians die in war. Not nearly as many as the Houthis have executed,” McCain continued, referring to the Shiite militia waging an insurgency against the Sunni government in Yemen.
Asked about the recent reports of Saudi forces bombing a wedding party in Yemen, McCain said, “I’m sure in wars terrible things happen and the Houthis however are an extremist group backed by the Iranians who are slaughtering Yemenis.”
The Saudis are killing civilians at an alarming rate…….the most recent deaths were a wedding party…….
The death toll from a missile strike on a wedding party in Yemen has jumped to 131, medics have said, making it one of the deadliest attacks on civilians during the war and drawing strong condemnation from the UN secretary-general.
Residents said that two missiles tore through tents in the Red Sea village of Al-Wahijah, near the port of Al-Mokha. A local man affiliated with the Houthis – the Shia rebel group who are fighting the coalition – was holding his wedding reception.
A source at a hospital in Maqbana, where the casualties were taken, said on Tuesday that the death toll from the attack had risen to 131…….
There is no end in sight…..if things keep up this pace then Yemen will once again be divided into 2 separate states as it was in 1968-1990 when the two unified and became one state…Yemen. (a little history never hurts)……
Shall we count the conflicts in the Middle East……sorry there is not enough time for that……there is NEVER enough time for the right thing in the Middle East.
Countless thousands of refugees and illegal migrants from war-torn Syria, Iraq and other Middle East territory, Africa… are reaching Europe via Greece and Italy as points of entry in particular. According to interviews published on all world’s media all those coming from Greece across Macedonia and Serbia and Hungary are intent on making it to Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Netherlands, United Kingdom… they know where they want to go and expect to succeed in it, trampling over and destabilising European countries they cross towards their desired destination.
Refugees and illegal migrants of today appear to have expectations that they will reach their desired destination and stay there. How very different from the refugees fleeing WWII Europe – most were happy to wait in refugee camps and go to a country offered to them. Personal preferences played little part.
Today, we are seeing a humanitarian crisis unfolding before our eyes, a political crisis and a standard of living crisis of those living in the countries where this is occurring. We witness a great deal of criticisms directed to the countries or individuals for seemingly failing to assist or for using caution in allowing total strangers into their towns, countries etc. We have seen force being used at the Macedonian border with Greece against the refugees and illegal migrants; tear gas used to send them back to Greece…and then let them trough, or they break through police lines, in order to reach other countries where they want to go.
While doing everything within its power and control on a humanitarian base to assist the needy, to my view, countries have a moral obligation in protecting their borders especially when it’s known that there are most likely many Islamic State affiliates or fighters or supporters among them. And who can assure me that this is not a strategy to strengthen the IS within Europe? Please do if you can with certainty.
Croatia, has so far avoided the avalanche simply due to its geographical position. But, after Hungary builds its 174 Km, 4-meter high border wall with Serbia, Croatia becomes an alternative route for the entry of refugees into the Schengen Area. Croatian government has said all past week that it has a strategy how to care for refugees and illegal migrants and has begun preparations in the event that refugees and illegal migrants start entering Croatia en masse.
According to HRT TV news from 21 August 2015 “Croatia has enough facilities from Ilok to Dubrovnik that can accommodate immigrants if it is needed. There should be no problems as far as the accommodation of refugees is concerned. State Office for Property Management has a list of fifteen potential facilities which can be quickly put into operation if it is required“, said Mladen Pejnovic, director of the Office of Government Owned Property Management.
There are, according to Pejnovic, about 15 disused large objects that can be fixed and ready for use fairly quickly, if required. The majority of these facilities are former, now disused, army barracks, coastal resorts with unresolved ownership issues, as well as facilities, which Croatia received according to the agreements on succession of the former Yugoslavia.
While a will to help the needy is a gesture we should all follow, this declaration by Croatia’s government certainly seems most irresponsible, as it does not address the reality pressing upon Croatia’s own people and indeed the population of other European countries caught in this avalanche of fear, misery and instability. Croatian government announcement of having enough space to house refugees fails to address the safety of Croatian people and alarms raised in Schengen Zone countries, such as Germany, regarding behaviour of some EU countries not taking their “share” of refugees and illegal migrants. It, also, lacks criticism towards the UN for failing miserably at pooling resources of all UN member countries and establishing safe, clean and decent refugee camps at agreed sites across various countries.
This way, fear and uncertainty and human misery seem to be the only “currencies” UN is interested in.
Germany has called on Britain to take more of a share of migrants coming into Europe. Interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said along with other countries it needed to be ‘more aware’ of its responsibilities as a member of the European Union. He made his call for the British to welcome more refugees after it was revealed Germany expects to receive 800,000 asylum applications this year – more than all 28 EU countries combined in 2014. Britain is not of the Schengen area of 26 European countries that have removed all border checks and passport controls between each other. It has an opt-out on taking part in a scheme to distribute migrants arriving into the EU between different countries and has so far refused.
Back in Croatia, Mirela Holy, leader of The Sustainable Development of Croatia (ORaH) a small green party and member of Croatian parliament has Saturday, 22 August 2015, sent to Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, and his government, an open letter regarding a refugee wave that has swamped the Balkans, calling on him to present a strategic plan for refugees, if his government had one, and to explain to the public how it would be implemented, reported HRT TV news on Saturday.
She also asked the PM how much budget funding had been set aside for the accommodation of refugees and their basic supplies and whether Croatian intelligence services cooperated with other countries’ services to efficiently prevent the infiltration of terrorists traveling with refugees, as well as how the government planned to prevent possible acts of terrorism and whether the security aspect of the crisis was being considered at all.
She said that the refugee crisis was a consequence of conflicts in Syria and other countries in the Middle East and that the exodus of a large number of people from those areas was expected to continue if no peace and security was established there.
Holy added that considering the fact that this was unlikely to happen without an international intervention led by the UN, Milanovic should inform the public about the government’s position on securing peace and stability in those regions militarily.
The EU has warned that it is currently facing ‘the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War’. Its border agency Frontex has said some 340,000 migrants have arrived already this year.
“This is an emergency situation for Europe that requires all EU member states to step in to support the national authorities who are taking on a massive number of migrants at its borders,” said Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri.
“Frontex has called on member states to provide additional equipment and people to support our operations in Greece and in Hungary and the European Commission has approved national programmes to provide significant financial assistance to the Member States to address these challenges,” he added.
Croatia has always been willing to assist and take a quota of refugees (550 was the most recent number confirmed by the government) but I believe that the government’s announcement of having adequate space in disused objects to receive refugees and illegal migrants may be deceitful (as no limit to numbers these objects can take are mentioned) and encourage the avalanche to start falling on Croatia much before Hungary builds its announced border fence. It’s a shame we haven’t heard more about the plan or strategy Croatia’s government has developed to contribute in dealing with this humanitarian crisis, but I too suspect it hasn’t got a tight strategy. And it must! People in Europe are torn between the instinct to offer shelter and help to those in need and the instinct to shut the borders, lock the doors, while the leaders portray no unity in this crisis that’s threatening all – no one seems to be helping the other and no major UN Security Council meeting on this at the horizon. This is not a passing storm or an avalanche that will come quickly and dissipate just as fast. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)
Illegal FM radio stations, illiteracy, religion and the governance system introduced in 2001 have aided the growth of Islamic militancy in the Swat Valley, according to the 2010 research report “A Survey of Perceptions about the Drivers of Conflict in Swat” by a Peshawar based Regional Institute of Policy Research and Training (RIPORT).
Khalid Aziz, heads the institute that is looking into certain grave areas of concern that arose after a decades old privatization of media and the “communication boom.” Suddenly number of new media outlets started to grow on a rapid scale across the country, in particular I will talk today about the FM radio stations that have been a strong tool used by the Taliban and militant groups in their anti State agendas. Please see this graph 1.
Television and Radio Popularity in Pakistan
Over all, radio is the most popular medium in both urban and rural based Pakistan, since its birth in 1947 with state-run Radio Pakistan announcement of the independence of Pakistan on Aug 13, 1947 at 11:59 pm in Urdu, followed by a similar announcement in English. It is considered a running school for media and journalism industry and the love of radio listenership continues till date.
Other crucial reasons include:
Millions of illiterate Pakistanis in rural, impoverished or hard-to-access areas – continue to have very limited news media options therefore radio is a huge source for information dissemination and keeping village based people updated with the current happenings.
Pakistan suffers from acute shortage of power, with 10 – 12 hours power shut down, therefore despite its economic progress, television and print media are still not doable options due to their dependency on electric power. Also in many areas, there are no or very few television cable operators.
The north-west regions and its tribal agencies continue to stay under military conflict, including proxy warfare under Pakistan-US-Afghanistan NATO led agreements, with the TTP, LeT etc groups.
Severe damage of infrastructure, displacement and instability in daily lives have created vulnerable, isolated and challenging odds for populations.
There aren’t many sources of entertainment and information in this region. FM radio is an easy and in some cases the only – option people have.
This is where the Taliban stepped in, to cater this niche of population with their creative imagination bordering on the evil. In Taliban and other militant groups strong presence regions, its is easy to cater to the information starved people by putting a mic in the hands of a radical mullah broadcasting the message of hate and Taliban’s version of entertainment. See graph II for the locations deemed to have been under/ continued strong presence of the Taliban groups.
A poor person just needs a small radio set to reduce his boredom by listening on.
The research report’s in-depth analysis of the Swat Valley’s case with its FM radio stations run by TTP groups, were a timely warning to the government to improve security and provide reforms to deal with the situation in Swat but due to lack of political will, external interference and pro-Taliban sentiment the cycle of death and destruction continues till date.
Taliban Run Radio Stations Propaganda’s
Things continued to go downhill in Swat Valley and soon this menace of illegal radio stations spread across other tribal location including Buner, Waziristan, Charsaddah, Mingora, and so on.
The militants use air waves to broadcast propaganda against their opponents and Western governments. These clerics popularly known as “FM mullahs” condemn everyone and everything that goes against their interpretation of religion.
Illiterate women and men sitting inside their homes in far-flung villages listen on a daily level to conservative sermons on women-related issues and other day-to-day affairs on air. The sermons also promote that discussing women issues like rape and domestic violence etc are not to be discussed because it goes against their imaginations of cultural and Islamic values. Other shows advise men on following a strict code of conduct with their women and to prohibit women from stepping outside homes. These suppressing of women messages are well received by patriarchal and male oriented Pushtun men hailing from village backgrounds.
Another damaging effect of these transmissions is the indoctrination against the anti-polio campaign that led to the failure of national polio campaign. Taliban’s offensive against the polio immunization program highlights the success of TTP and other sectarian militant groups against the involved health workers and security personnel working on giving health care to children. The Taliban run radio stations have time and again issued fatwa against female health workers in Swat and Malakand.
I will highlight two fatwas in particular: 1…. One called the presence of women in public spaces a form of indecency, and instructed that it “was a Muslim man’s duty to kidnap the woman’s health workers when they paid home visits, to marry them forcibly even if they were already married women, or to use them as sexual slaves.” Another similar Taliban decree declared that it was morally illegal for Muslim women to work for wages.
Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority
It is not possible that illegal stations can continue to run unchecked without any governing bodies. Established in 2002, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority is independent federal institution responsible for regulating and issuing channel licenses for establishment of the mass-media culture, print and electronic media.
PEMRA’s monitoring reports on illegal radio stations have shed light on extremely grave concerns for human rights issues within the country. Its says that further growing trend of extremism in parts of the NWFP is negating the government’s efforts to portray a soft image of Pakistan abroad. The governing body noted that some 62 illegal FM stations in settled areas while 49 others are being operated from the Federally- Administered Tribal Areas and Provincially-Administered Tribal Areas (Fata and Pata). Almost all are under the control of radical clergymen from Madressahs and mosques.
An under staffed Pemra, has been taking actions against illegal FM operators with the help of the provincial governments. But there are many challenges.. It is impossible to close down illegal FM radio stations because local technicians re-manufacture the equipment for only Rs10,000 or Rs15,000. ($150 – $200)
Last year, the regulatory body’s counter measures include : stopping the illegal up-linking by three channels. PEMRA raided more than 21,000 cable TV operators and 2,803 systems were seized. It also issued penalties worth millions were imposed on TV, radio and cable operators. Nearly 10 illegal FM radio stations preaching hate and extremism were shut down.
To know about the nefarious personalities behind these illegal radio stations and the content analysis of their Broadcasting Content, please keep a lookout for The Human Lens’s part II of the series “Taliban Insurgency|Fiascoes of the FM Mullahs.”