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Saudis ‘consider’ severing man’s spine 19, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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Determined as ever not to enter the modern moral age, Saudi Arabian courts are “considering” whether to sever a defendant’s spinal cord. In the eye for an eye tradition (that ought to have ended an epoch ago) the prisoner in question would suffer this barbaric punishment after he attacked a man two years ago with a cleaver resulting in the severing of his spine. The victim, Abdul Aziz Al Mutairi has apparently requested that the attacker suffer the same fate.

I love the use of the verb ‘to consider’. Consideration, to me, implies logic and a cool, ‘modern’ rationalism. Should we be glad that Saudi are ‘considering’ medical opinion as to how to do this action rather than just butchering him with a cleaver which would be, if we’re honest, the truest eye for an eye punishment? Perhaps, but this hardly detracts from the vile, inhumane nature of the punishment or pre-medieval logic.

IDF poser: “gladly kill Arabs – even slaughter them” 19, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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The IDF soldier whose photos posed with humiliated, bound Palestinians caused international outrage and criticism from the IDF itself, has allegedly posted numerous hateful statements about Arabs and Palestinians on her Facebook page.

Haaretz  reports that she apparently wrote, only last Thursday, that she would

gladly kill Arabs – even slaughter them


in war there are no rules.

forgetting, somewhat conveniently, that in fact there are a cornucopia of rules governing war. Moreover, if, as Israel, one of your prime complaints is the illegality of the tactics used against you, surely you’d want to stick to the letter of the law to highlight the opposition’s transgressions? (Obviously this doesn’t work…)

Also, she is not what one might call contricious.

I can’t allow Arab lovers to ruin the perfect life I lead. I am not sorry and I don’t regret it.

Yes, heaven forfend that your perfect life might be impinged by gross human rights violations. Imagine the Israeli outrage if this were the other way around…

When asked about how this might harm Israel’s image abroad she said that

We will always be attacked. Whatever we do, we will always be attacked.

Well, yes you and your country will indeed be tarred if you continue to ignore the most basic of human rights, as seemingly evidenced in these photos.

Hitting the nail squarely on the head, Ishai Menuchin, the head of the Public Committee Against Torture commented that

these terrible photographs reflect a norm in the way Palestinians are viewed, as an object and not as humans. It is an attitude that ignores their feelings as humans and their individual rights.

The Guardian helpfully compiled an album of IDF holiday snaps of similarly horrid photos, surely each and every one violating the Geneva Convention not to mention simple standards of decency.

Perhaps not coincidentally, I also read a diatribe against the Guardian in the right-wing MERIA journal on the apparent tinge of rabid, anti-Zionist feelings among commenters. What a shock: people that comment on newspaper stories on the internet are of the lunatic fringe…ground-breaking conclusions there.

Newt Gingrich’s Mussolini moment 19, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
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There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.

There will be a mosque in Rome only when a Roman Catholic church is permitted in Mecca.

Hat tip: Comment Central

US combat troops leave Iraq 19, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
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Anyone else reminded of…

(NB. This is not a photo of people being evacuated from the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, as is commonly mistaken).

Car cookies in Doha 19, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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You all probably know that the Gulf can be quite a hot place. BUT, did you know that it’s so hot that you can bake cookies in your car? A female expatriate in Qatar – guess which country she’s from (and which state in that country)  – decided to give it a whirl on 14th July when Doha’s temperature was recorded at 50.4C, the highest recorded temperature for four decades.

Hat tip: Abu Arqala

Saudis can’t see the funny side 19, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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Whilst thegulfblog.com is, in the immortal words of Snap!, “…as serious as cancer”, occasionally, as you loyal followers know, I like to lighten the usually onerous load of Middle Eastern reportage. Cue two silly stories.

A Saudi satirical sketch show (yes, they do – sort of – exist) Tash Ma Tash (No Big Deal) has fostered a minor storm of predictable outrage in the easily outrageable Kingdom.

The central character takes four husbands, explaining herself using the    conventional arguments Saudi men use to exercise their legal and religious    privilege of marrying four times.

Then she decides she wants to marry for a fifth time, making the four husbands    draw lots to see who will be divorced and plunging them into a morass of    jealousy.

When she remarries for the first time she complains that her existing husband    has stopped caring about his looks after five years, and is preoccupied with    work.

The next marriage is for a dare with friends, and the fourth marriage, to a    Syrian, she explains by saying that she is now bored with Saudi men.

Whilst this is hardly biting satire, it’s a mildly amusing little skit beyond the sense of humour of numerous Saudis. However, the Torygraph reports that it is apparently a favourite of Saudi’s King Abdullah who has been making significant (for Saudi) liberal noises recently.

It would have been interesting to see what would have happened were this controversy to have occurred under the presumed next Saudi King – Naif – who is a staunch conservative. Whilst Abdullah too was feared to be conservative when he was Crown Prince, he has transpired to be somewhat different, so to speak. The key question for Saudi is, if Naif takes over, whether the exigencies of power will mellow his conservative tendencies.

Hat tip: Out Al Arabiyya colleague

Galloway interviewing Ahmadinejad 19, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iran.
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Amazing. Not in a good way.