World Politics

World Politics

Bahrain responds to UN criticism by increasing repression against activists

The bareiní human rights defender Nabil Rajab. EFE
  • “We will not waste time listening to the words of a high commissioner who has no relevance or power,” said the Bahraini foreign minister.
  • The last detainee was Nabeel Rajab, founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and one of the country’s most recognized defenders
  • In the context of the intensification of the repression, on June 14 the justice minister announced the closure of the offices of the main opposition party, the Wefaq Muslim National Society.
  • The resurgence coincides with the celebration of the United Nations Human Rights Council and, according to several activists, it is not accidental.

The bareiní human rights defender Nabil Rajab. EFE

“We will continue the path of reform initiated by our king, without allowing anyone to alter our stability and security. We will not waste time listening to the words of a high commissioner who has no relevance or power.” This is what Jalid al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s foreign minister, referred to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which holds its 32nd session from June 13 to July 1.

The representative thus faced, on Twitter, criticism of the abuses of his government launched by different countries during the inaugural session of the HRC. Specifically those of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, who criticized the repression of the Bahraini government against its citizens.

The last detainee was Nabeel Rajab, founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and one of the country’s most recognized defenders. His arrest on the morning of June 13 is part of the resurgence of repression carried out by the Jalifa monarchy against any form of opposition to its policies and which has been increasing since the beginning of the 2011 citizen protests.

The arrest of activists is not the only measure that the Jalifa monarchy has taken in recent days. On Tuesday, June 14, the justice minister announced the closure of the offices of the main opposition party, the Wefaq Muslim National Society. The authorities froze all their accounts and arrested the party leader, accused of “inciting the instability of the country.”

It is no accident that this resurgence occurs just now, coinciding with the celebration of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, a governmental body that is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR, or UPR) English, from Universal Periodic Review), a mechanism that examines the human rights situation in the UN member states and which Bahrain now faces.

Oil sponge and police state

“Bahrain does not care about the UN, and wants to make it clear to its citizens and to the world that they will not be governed by what these types of organizations mark them,” says Bahraini blogger Mohammad Hasan in a telephone interview with Eldiario.

Bahrain is not the only one to openly show its contempt for the United Nations system, in a context of the growing weakness of the UN and human rights protection mechanisms. According to Hasan, Bahrain only follows the inertia of other really relevant countries, such as its ally Saudi Arabia, which in 2011 entered Manama with tanks to support the monarchy in its repression of protesters.

“Saudi Arabia openly shows its contempt for the United Nations system. They make it clear that they want to exhibit the weakness of these agencies and reaffirm their domestic and hegemony policies in the region, without anyone being able to stop them.”

Bahrain, a country of only 500,000 inhabitants, is a small oil sponge that has become a police state in which the minority of Sunni confession that holds power controls and discriminates against the Shiite majority. Among its milestones, it is worth being a pioneer in establishing GPS control systems for the movements of its inhabitants.

According to opposition activists, since the beginning of the protests in 2011, the victims of clashes between police and protesters protesting against the increase in repression against the Shiite majority have not ceased. According to the government, “it is Iran, in its attempt to advance its Shiite hegemony in the region, who is behind the destabilization of the country.”

“The tensions in Bahrain do not come because we do not know how to live between Sunnis and Shiites,” journalist Reem Khalifa said in an interview. “They are given by institutionalized discrimination by a group of people in power against others, even taking away their nationality, leaving them stateless. In fact, my country is the Gulf country with the greatest religious diversity and coexistence ever has been exemplary. “

Without civil protection mechanisms

The repression of governments such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and many others in the region such as those of Israel, Syria or Egypt against the civilian population in general and human rights defenders in particular, also mentioned in the framework of the HRC, highlights the increase in impunity and the practical absence of civilian protection mechanisms.

“The mentions in the Council and the Universal Periodic Review processes are important, but the truth is that there are no real measures to control government abuses such as Bahrain,” says Hasan. “If this repression occurred in other countries, we would see sanctions of all kinds. With Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, as rich allies of the West, we will see nothing more than rhetoric. Just as there are companies that generate so many benefits that become untouchable, there are countries that generate so many interests that they also become untouchable.”

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World Politics

Bahrain, a wrong way to peace in Palestine

Bahrain, a wrong way to peace in Palestine

After more than seventy peace plans and initiatives to end the conflict in Palestine (all of them failed), confidence in a just, global and lasting resolution is scarce today, as is the ability to invent a novel way. However, Jared Kushner, on behalf of the Trump Administration, has long been determined to announce that his still unknown plan is unlike any other and that, in addition, it will be final. A message that Washington now reinforces on the occasion of the international economic meeting that begins this Tuesday in Bahrain and, except for a miracle, seems also doomed to failure.

To reach that negative augury, it is enough to take into consideration the following points:

  • The so-called “agreement of the century” has not yet been presented, so participants in the Manama workshop (Kushner has not dared to call it a conference) are being asked to commit their investment funds and sign commercial contracts to blind Conditioned by the Israeli electoral calendar – with Benjamin Netanyahu forced into a new call  that seriously endangers his personal and political position – his postponement has long been delayed, while some rumors have been leaked interestingly, in any case, Doubt about its true reach.
  • Hamas has not been invited and the Palestinian Authority has not only rejected its presence in Bahrain as a sign of total distancing with an openly pro-Israel administration and has closed all channels of dialogue with the Palestinian authorities, but the class itself is doing Palestinian business. Entrepreneurs are frustrated after so many broken promises. Along the same lines, both Egypt and Jordan (despite their clear subordination to Washington) have indicated that they will only send their vice-ministers of finance and even Israel itself has shown a little disguised ambiguity about the level of its representation. As for the European Union, only Poland (increasingly aligned with Trump) has announced the sending of a first-level delegation.
  • The formula for ‘peace for prosperity’ is anything but novel. The attempt to buy peace by economic means was already at the base of the so-called Oslo Accords, trying to convince the Palestinians that their signature on the documents produced than would immediately mean a substantial improvement in their level of well-being. Time soon was responsible for confirming that the standard of living of the employed population (and of refugees) not only did not increase but fell sharply. And so it was not only because the commitments acquired in the successive donor conferences were never fulfilled nor were the agreements reached in the so-called MENA Conferences (which sought to encourage the participation of international investors and entrepreneurs),
  • Six wars and two intifadas later it seems clear that the Palestinians will not give up on their political objective of one day having their own State. It is true that being the weak part of the equation, they do not have the slightest option of defeating the occupying power by force, but it is also true that Israel has not achieved, despite its undeniable superiority, eliminating that aspiration even by the force or the purchase of wills at any price. In spite of the internal fragmentation that weakens them even more, it seems clear that the dignity of the Palestinian people is a wall sufficiently resistant to the avalanche of projects (there is talk of about 175) listed by Kushner and his team in a gesture that seems most a letter to the Magi, hoping that it is the Arab countries and international investors who put their money into play (happily estimated at about 50,000 million dollars). It is still shocking that he himself The US that has cut all economic aid to the Palestinians, is the same that now drives an economic route (with money from others) as a method of resolution.
  • Without ending the occupation begun in 1967, it is impossible to imagine a minimally attractive future for the Palestinians. The key to one day leaving the tunnel in which Palestine has been so long involved does not happen by reverting old projects, such as the construction of a land link between Gaza and the West Bank, or returning to the eternal dream of turning it into a new Singapore or a new tourist emporium. The true beginning of the road to peace – assuming that the solution to the conflict cannot be economic, but political – imperiously passes to end the Israeli occupation started in 1967 and, of course, nothing can be taken for granted if agreements are not reached. balanced over borders, Jerusalem and refugees.

If it is taken for granted that all that Washington should also know, the organization of the meeting in Manama is only explained by the high self-esteem that characterizes both Trump and Kushner, believing that his negotiating ability is infinite and that, combining the stick and the carrot, they will overcome all obstacles. The alternative explanation is no less reassuring: it seeks to stage a Palestinian frontal rejection in order to justify, on the one hand, that there is no interlocutor for peace and, on the other, that Netanyahu’s Israel feels stronger to take the next step, annexing the part of the West Bank that it considers necessary. In those we are.

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World Politics

The Caravan ‘Opening Borders’ makes its stop in Seville with Palestine as the protagonist

Arrival of the caravan breaking borders 2019 to Seville
  • The Caravan Opening Borders arrives in the Andalusian capital on its tour of southern Spain to make visible the struggle for human rights.
  • “Breaking down walls, building bridges” is the motto with which these almost 300 volunteers from all over the world travel through towns such as Motril, Tarifa, Melilla or Lepe.

Arrival of the caravan breaking borders 2019 to Seville

The 47º C that marked the thermometers of the Andalusian capital has not served as an impediment for the Caravan Opening Borders to make its stop in Seville this Friday. Its objective is to make solidarity visible towards migrants and refugees.

The Caravan Opening Borders is a network of volunteers from various associations that were born in 2016 and travels through different countries ensuring the rights of displaced people. Among its activities are informative talks, round tables or the organization of fleets with humanitarian aid to places like Palestine. His latest tour, Frontera Sur 2019, is touring some cities in southern Spain and northern Morocco such as Tarifa, Granada or Ceuta, respectively, as a gateway for migrants.

This Friday the city that has hosted the Caravan has been Seville. At 12.00 and with a warmth of this city, a total of five buses have parked next to the Isabel II Bridge, popularly known as the Triana Bridge. From them, the almost 300 volunteers who are part of this project in which there is a clear majority of women have begun to leave. They are people who come from different parts of the World- “It is the most international caravan we have ever had,” say some. They are between 20 and 60 years old and many of them carry flags of Palestine, the main protagonist of the actin Seville. Others carry banners with phrases denouncing immigration policies.

Following the words of some of its spokesmen with those who have compared the border walls of the countries with “bleeding wounds” and with those who have denounced “the absolute blockade suffered by Palestine since 1948 and continues to cause daily deaths” They wanted to call the solidarity of the rest of the citizens: “It is necessary to remove consciences, shake them, we cannot be oblivious to the suffering of others, we must fight for a better world in which people matter and not economic interests.”

At their stop in Seville they have staged the breaking of borders on the Guadalquivir River

Breaking River Borders

Many of them call for the immediate closure of the Foreigners’ Internment Centers, the well-known CIES, as well as the unlocking of the policies of the State of Israel, especially when ships with humanitarian aid try to reach Gaza. For this reason, they wanted to organize a show on the Guadalquivir River under the slogan “let’s break down walls, build bridges.” In their performance, they have simulated the breaking of a border formed by a line of canoes linked together. The ship with which they have crossed this particular wall was full of posters that claimed human rights. From the top of the bridge, you could see several banners that read phrases like “no borders” or “no walls”

To the exhibition have been added music, dances, songs for freedom and many, many applause. With this, the Caravan Opening Borders tries to give visibility to its project to “build sensitized and active citizenship with refugees and migrants”, as it says on its website.

Cristina García de Andoín, one of the journalists who travels with them, tells that they have passed through many places but one of the ones that most caught her attention was the reception in the Ceuta neighborhood of El Príncipe, because they were waiting for them with food, parties and round tables with experiences: “Ceuta is very special. Young migrants cannot walk freely in many areas of the city because they are persecuted but with the Caravan, they felt safe and supported”, something that stands out as one of the most beautiful experiences that they have lived during the tour they are doing in southern Spain and this Saturday ends in Lepe.

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World Politics

United We can send a new proposal to the PSOE to resume negotiations for a coalition government

The acting government president and socialist candidate for the presidency of the Government,
  • United We can launch four different proposals for the organization of a coalition government to the PSOE.
  • The negotiations ended in July without agreement and without investiture of the socialist candidate, Pedro Sánchez, who has until September 23 to raise support to retry the investiture.
  • The negotiating team of United We will be formed by Pablo Echenique, Ione Belcarra, Jaume Asens, Yolanda Díaz, Enrique Santiago and Juantxo López de Uralde.

The acting government president and socialist candidate for the presidency of the Government,

Pablo Iglesias has just sent a new document to Pedro Sánchez, of 119 pages, with programmatic proposals to resume the negotiations where they stalled in July for a coalition government between the PSOE and United We Can.

The Confederal table of United We met this Monday afternoon in Madrid to approve the proposal sent this morning and to define a negotiating group, formed by Pablo Echenique, Ione Belarra, Jaume Asens, Yolanda Díaz, Enrique Santiago and Juantxo López de Uralde.

The negotiations at the end of July ended without agreement and without investiture for the socialist candidate, Pedro Sánchez, who has until September 23 to raise the necessary support to retry the investiture. Otherwise, there will be election replay on November 10.

The last negotiations began when Sanchez veto Iglesias as a hypothetical vice president – “I need a vice president who defends Spanish democracy,” accused the leader of United Podemos -; and the subsequent resignation of the latter to enter the Government. From there, while the investiture debate was taking place, the two parties moved offers and counteroffers, which ended with a break in the negotiations for “an empty supply of competencies” of the PSOE, according to United We can – presidency; Ministry of Equality; Health; and Social Economy–.

24 hours after the second vote, the vice president, Carmen Calvo, said after the Council of Ministers that the “way” of the Coalition Government was closed, while United Negotiator Pablo Echenique, asked to the president of the Government that did not go “on vacation to continue negotiating.”

The impasse has lasted until Tuesday, in which United We can ask to return to the negotiations, and offer four possibilities of Government to the PSOE:

Proposal 1: Vice Presidency of Social Rights and Equality; Ministry of Labor, Migration and Social Security; Ministry of Health; and Ministry of Housing and Social Economy. 

Proposal 2:  vice-  high  Social and Equality; Ministry of Ecological Transition; Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Universities; and Ministry of Housing and Social Economy.

Proposition 3:  vice-  high  Social and Equality; Ministry of Ecological Transition; Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Universities; and Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Empty Spain.

Proposition 4:  vice-  high  Social and Equality; Ministry of Labor, Migration and Social Security; Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Universities; and Ministry of Culture.

The document sent by Iglesias to Sánchez to “ resume the dialogue from where it was left in the month of July, when the shortage of time prevented an agreement with the PSOE, and as soon as possible form a coalition government as it already exists in many other European countries and also in our country at the municipal and regional level “also includes a series of programmatic proposals,” based on the second version of the document Spain Advances that the PSOE made public last July and in the Budget Agreement for 2019 that United Podemos and the PSOE already signed last fall. “

Among the proposals of United We can find raising the SMI to 1,200 euros at the end of the legislature, ensuring the updating of pensions to the CPI by law and repealing the 2012 labor reform; universalize the public network of schools from 0 to 3 years so that any family you want can access it; match paternity and maternity leave and make them untransferable; guarantee public services in the villages as well as adequate connectivity; the closing of the revolving doors and the creation of a police unit specialized in institutional corruption that depends on the judges; lower rental prices, avoid speculation and guarantee the right to housing; establish a minimum effective rate of 15% with a solidarity surcharge for banks, so that it gradually returns the bank bailout; ambitious objectives to reduce CO2 emissions; promote an ambitious climate change law; reform the electricity market to advance renewable energy and lower the electricity bill.

“This coalition government can become a reference throughout Europe that demonstrates that a social and democratic exit to the economic crisis is possible. We intend to work hard to build a new Europe that puts people and their rights at the center”, they affirm in United We Can.

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World Politics

Salvini wants to run Italy and is about to get it

Giuseppe Conte, Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio attend a session in the Lower House

A new and dangerous phase of Italian populism begins: the Nationalist League party is ready to devour its coalition partner
The League of Salvini has gained strength after the overwhelming result in the European and has launched a motion of censure to remove the 5 Star Movement
Steve Bannon had already planned a conflicting end for the coalition government in Italy: “They will rule together, but Salvini is the true leader,” he said.

Giuseppe Conte, Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio attend a session in the Lower House
Giuseppe Conte, Matteo Salvini, and Luigi Di Maio attend a session in the Lower House

The second act in the Italian populism drama is beginning and is a confrontation between the protagonists that made the first possible. The League has gained strength since the 2018 elections and is fed up with the 5 Star Movement (M5S), its partner in the government coalition. The feeling is that this is the time to accumulate all power and put its leader, Matteo Salvini, as prime minister.

Steve Bannon had already anticipated that something like that would end up happening. “They will rule together, but Salvini is the true leader because Luigi Di Maio, leader of the M5S, looks like Emmanuel Macron,” said theorist of the US populist wave who took Trump to the White House in 2016 just a few days after the agreement. The Italian coalition never ceased to be a strictly tactical alliance because populism always ends with a single leader.

The general elections last year, the first act of this new Italian political phenomenon, radically changed the rules of the game with the emergence of a strong populist majority among the electorate. But the coalition government that resulted has exposed abysmal differences between the partners. In the elections to the European Parliament on May 26, the League won twice as many seats as the 5 Star Movement.

For Salvini, it was the signal that the time had come to launch the second act. To verify whether it is realizable or not, the League has initiated a motion of censure against the current Prime Minister, the lawyer Giuseppe Conte, who on Tuesday lives his moment of truth in the Chamber of Deputies.

The project is to remake Italian populism in the image and likeness of the aggressive nationalism of the League. More ambiguous in its positioning, the 5 Star Movement is perceived as a lot of losers.

We are facing a rebellion of the Italian middle classes. What began as a protest against inequality, migrants and corruption, has gained strength by generating new conflicts and enemies. Now what they want is a strong leader rather than a complex alliance of poorly defined ways.

The nationalism of the League aims to close ports to immigrants, impose fines of up to one million euros to anyone who helps a refugee at sea, vote in Strasbourg against the new president of the European Commission and turn the next Italian budget into an Open rebellion against the fiscal rules of Europe.

With Salvini at the helm, everything takes place in a public spectacle of crucifixes and prayers on the beach, with the vocabulary of the ultras of the world of football and the tribal exaltation of an ethnonationalism identity. Hostility towards immigrants and the duel with Europe are the two pillars that win votes to Salvini and pulverize the M5S, whose commitment to a basic income to “defeat poverty” has proved too vague to be created by anyone.

Now Salvini prepares to go against his former allies. To get rid of it, the 5 Star Movement should have been transformed into a credible government force and a guarantor of stability. Or what is the same, move from protest to the art of governing. They were not able to do it because they were linked to an ideology against growth and that led them to make a series of mistakes.

It was a mistake to oppose the nomination of Rome for the 2024 Olympic Games and that of Turin for the Winter Games in 2026. It was a mistake to oppose a high-speed rail link between France and Italy, to a new highway in the north from Italy and an oil drilling project in territorial waters off the coast.

The 5 Star Movement has given the impression of opposing the modernization of the country and the result has been to lose leadership in the protest movement with its annihilation in the regional elections, first, and with its humiliation in the European elections, later. The possible motion of censure against Conte could now leave them without the prime minister.

In this new phase of Italian populism, the nationalists would rise to power with a probable agreement between Salvini and the Brothers of Italy, the Giorgia Meloni far-right party, bringing the country a little closer to the model of Poland and Hungary. To try to stop his former comrades in arms, the M5S will have to make the desperate decision to sink orally with traditional parties.

The next time is aggression and conflicts. With Salvini in charge, the second act of Italian populism will be a tough battle against anyone who tries to get in the way. Their adversaries will have to choose: launch a frontal challenge at the polls or form a coalition government bringing together all the anti-Salvini forces of the current parliament. In any case, the confrontation will be a kind of referendum on national identity and the relationship with Europe. In Italy, the next phase of the political battle is going to be a duel between the extremes.

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