Wednesday, 29 May 2019


The term ‘Middle East’ can be confusing.  It was coined about 1900 by a British civil servant and today numbers between 15 and 19 countries, including: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Gaza, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia. Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
North African countries also become associated.
The Arab World consists of 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa: Algeria, Bahrain, the Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
In 1948 Egypt, Iran and Pakistan signed the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights .  In 1990, 45 Islamic nations signed the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights based on Sharia Law.  It does not include a complaints mechanism.  In 2009 the Arab Human Rights Committee was formed to oversee compliance.  But, by 2012 only 15 Islamic states have ratified it.  Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
My previous blog dwelt briefly with Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Israel-Palestine, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Yemen with mention of Daesh, Hamas, and Hezbollah.  Shall we carry on?:
AFGHANISTAN The current untapped mineral wealth has been assessed at $3 trillion yet there is extreme poverty. Progress has been hampered by numerous war lords, 5 years, 1996-2001, of Taliban rule, drug profiteering, suicide bombings, a resurgent Taliban, and abuses by occupying troops sent to help, 
The country now has a strong human rights framework within its current constitution, none of which is enforced.  Afghan security forces and its intelligence agency have been accused of committing grave human rights violations like disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and torture of suspects. Afghanistan is ranked as one of the most corrupt countries and Afghans name the Ministry of Education the third most corrupt of 13 ministries.  Teaching is discouraged with many salaries below $100 a month and 41% of schools have no buildings.  Under Taliban rule, women were denied any schooling. Since then impressive starts at female education were made by Afghan women and organizations plus foreign countries and organizations.  Adult literacy rate of Afghans increased from 18 to 38% from 1979 to 2015 yet female literacy is 17%.  The most common ages for girls to marry are 15 and 16 thus denying further education.   Afghanistan has one of the world’s lowest literacy rates. 
Civilization began here some 5,000 years ago.  The earliest documents date from the  Iranian Achaemenian Dynasty, in control from 550 to 331 BC when Alexander the Great defeated the Achaemenian emperor Darius III and squashed resistance. Alexander and his successors, the Seleucids, brought Greek culture. Then the Mauryan Empire of India gained control bringing Buddhism. Nomadic Kushans established an empire with Afghanistan a cultural and commercial center (30–375 AD). They took Buddhism as far as China.  From the end of the Kushan Empire the area was fragmented under the Iranian Sassanian Empire untl  642 when Arabs invaded bringing Islam. Arab rule gave way to the Persians, who controlled the area until conquered by the Turkic Ghaznavids in 998.  Various princes ruled sections until the Mongol invasion of 1219, led by Genghis Khan. A descendant, Tamerlane, made Afghanistan part of his vast empire.
In 1747, Ahmad Shah Durrani unified the Pashtun tribes and created the Durrani Empire, which is considered the beginning of modern Afghanistan. In the late 1800s Afghanistan became a buffer state between the British Indian Empire and the Russian Empire.
Prior to WWI my wife’s father earned several citations as a member of the Royal Horse Artillery, with the responsibility to prevent Afghan hill tribes using the 53-mile Kyber Pass to raid Pakistan then part of India. 
On August 19, 1919, after the 3rd Anglo-Afghan war, the country regained full independence from the UK.
From the 1930s to the 1970s, Afghanistan had the essence of a national government and Kabul was known as the “Paris of Central Asia.” A brief foray into democracy ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978 Communist counter-coup. The Soviet Union invaded in 1979 to support the frail Afghan Communist regime, sparking a long and destructive war. The USSR withdrew in 1989 under relentless pressure from internationally supported anti-Communist mujahedin rebels.  In 1996, after a subsequent series of civil wars, Kabul fell to the Taliban, a hard-line, Pakistani-sponsored, movement that emerged in 1994 to end the country's civil war and anarchy. 
     After the 11 Sept 2001 New York tower attacks, a US, Allied, and Afghan anti-Taliban Northern Alliance military action toppled the Taliban for sheltering involved Osama Bin Laden. The UN-sponsored Bonn Conference in 2001 established a process for political reconstruction that included the adoption of a new constitution.
In December 2004, Hamid Karzai became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan. The Nati
presidency came to an end in 20onal Assembly was inaugurated the following December. After winning a second term in 2009, Karzai's 14. The Afghanistan election of 2014 was controversial, and despite UN supervision there were many allegations of fraud. After a second round of voting, the two front runners, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah, came to a power-sharing agreement. Ghani serves as the president. 
Despite gains toward building a stable central government, a resurgent Taliban and continuing provincial instability — particularly in the south and the east — remain serious challenges.
BAHRAIN:  A kingdom with 1.6 million people, Bahrain has the 9th-highest military expenditure per capita ($936) in the world. The USA and UK have naval bases there.
The Human Rights Watch describes Bahrain’s record as "dismal", and having "deteriorated sharply in the latter half of 2010". The government has marginalized the native Shia Muslim population. Torture and forced disappearances are common.  Its penal code is barbaric with stoning for minor offenses.
IRAQ - KUWAIT: perhaps named after influential Uruk, Sumer, founded 6,500 years ago, Iraq has both suffered from, and been guilty of, gross violations of human rights.  In 1638 it was taken by the Ottoman Turks from the Persian Empire, remaining as a backward and neglected province.
In 1798 Britain set up an office in Baghdad to keep an eye on Napoleonic threats to India.  In 1858 Britons explored the Tigris and Euphrates areas seeking commercial avenues and did make Basra a thriving port.  In 1908 the first discovery of oil in the Middle East in Persia (Iran) set off many searches. 
In March 1917, during WWI, Britain with Indian troops captured Iraq where oil was also found that by 1929 became the Iraq Petroleum Company, headquartered in London and is still controlled by British Petroleum, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell, Oil was found in Kuwait in 1938   In the 1970's Kuwait negotiated control of its oil from Chevron, a successor to Standard Oil, headquartered in California and active in over 180 countries.
As part of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire after WWI the Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq was organized under a mandate of British protection which lasted until 1921 when it was granted independence.  Adjacent Kuwait had to wait until 1961.   In establishing boundaries among Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, little thought was given to the Arabs and Kurds who were resentful of hundred of year of colonial rule and forgotten British and French promises of independence.  Even Winston Churchill considered them uncivilized and needing the use of gruesome killing weapons to make them behave.   Tiring of military devastation, the UK formed puppet regimes.  In 1925 the UK set up the first, but supervised, parliamentary elections under puppet-King Feisal with full independence with a Leaque of Nations seat planned for 1932.  Feisal died in 1933, followed by his son, then 7 coups by 1941.  The UK sent forces to defeat the pro-Nazi regime in Bagdad.  There was turmoil until 1958 when a military coup overthrew King Feisal II, ending Hashemite rule that survives in Jordan.  A pro-British regent was killed, dragged through the streets, and run over by a fleet of busses. There was yet another coup after which thousands of Iraqis were massacred, Saddam Husein’s Baath party, in which he worked with the US CIA, rose to control.  It is believed that both the CIA and Husein supplied names for execution.  Husein thought his anti-communism would endear himself to the USA.
When the UK granted Kuwait independence in 1961, Iraq revived an old claim that Kuwait had been governed as part of an Ottoman province in southern Iraq and was therefore rightfully Iraq's. After intense global pressure, Iraq recognized Kuwait in 1963. Yet, there were occasional clashes along the Iraqi-Kuwait border, and relations between the two countries were sometimes tense.   Relations  improved during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), when Kuwait assisted Iraq with loans and diplomatic backing. After the war the Iraqi government launched a costly program of reconstruction.
By 1990 Iraq was $80 billion in debt so demanded that Kuwait forgive its share  and help with other payments. It also complained that Kuwait was pumping oil from a field that straddled the border and was not sharing the revenue. Iraq also accused Kuwait of producing more oil than allowed under OPEC quotas. Iraq's complaints grew increasingly harsh.
Kuwait had an army of 16,000 men, an airforce of 2,200, and a navy of 1,800, compared to Iraq’s 950,000 men, 4,500 tanks, and hundreds of fighter jets and helicopters., In spite of weeks of Iraqi military build-up along the border, Kuwait was caught off-guard when, 02 Aug 1990, Saddam Husein invaded Kuwait. The invasion took 2 days to defeat a strongly-resisting Kuwait that suffered 420 killed, 362 wounded, 120 tanks and armoured vehicles, 39 aircraft and 4 ships destroyed, and 12,000 POWs,   Kuwait’s king, Jaber III, and the government fled to Taif, Saudi Arabia.  About half of the Kuwaiti population, including 400,000 Kuwaitis and several thousand foreign nationals, fled the country. The Indian government evacuated over 170,000 overseas Indians by flying almost 488 flights over 59 days.   Organized resistance to Iraqi annexation and rule was immediate, causing a breakdown of Kuwait social restrictions but an increase in Iraqi arrests, tortures, and executions. 
World condemnations failed to eject Iraq, so 39 countries, with 28 contributing troops, followed the US lead in ousting Iraq, permitting the Kuwait government to return by 15 March 1991.  More than 600 Kuwaiti oil wells were set on fire by retreating Iraqi forces, causing massive environmental and economic damage to Kuwait.
Content with rescuing Kuwait, hostilities ceased, but the US led a long propaganda war accusing Iraq of various violations especially the false one of amassing weapons of mass destruction,  
On 19 Mar 2003, the US led a coalition that sent into Iraq 177,194 troops, about 130,000 US, 45,000 UK, 2,000 Australia, 200 Poland. Complete victory was claimed 01 May.  36 other countries were involved in its aftermath which included the disbandment of the Iraq Sunni army causing unemployment, resentment, and recruits for Al Qaida, prisons such as Abu Ghraib where the CIA and US troops were guilty of  torture, rape, and the murder of about 1,000 prisoners.  
Actually, it did seem an impossible task for the Coalition to inject democracy into a country long ruled by Sunni dictators.  The Shi’a were more moderate but still not up to the task even though there were only 100 revenge killings against Sunni oppressors.
Moqtada al-Sadr, a Shi’a cleric, whose father and two brothers were murdered by Saddam, rose to major importance in opposing US influence.  He supports the poor, the 2 million displaced Iraqis, fights corruption, and control from both the US and Iran.
  Corruption is pervasive at all levels of government in Iraq, ranking it 168th among countries freer of it.  It also rates near the bottom in human rights.  Numerous laws have been passed that lack enforcement.  Lack of empathy is enormous. 
QATAR:  Qatar’s 2.6 million people have the fourth-highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita (36.82 tonnes) in the world, along with the world’s highest per-capita income ($130,000) assisted by the abuse and low wages of  hundreds of thousands of mainly migrant south Asians, according to Human Rights Watch.
Qatar is rated the 16th safest country, Its Qatar Airways earns top ratings.  It forbids pork, pornography, an unmarried man and woman sharing the same dwelling, and controls the use of alcohol.  Flogging and stoning are legal under Sharia Law.  Qatar claims it does not use it but it is used in  the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, northern Nigeria, Afghanistan, Brunei, and tribal parts of Pakistan, including northwest Kurram Valley and the northwest Khwezai-Baezai region.
Qatar has issued dress and alcohol restrictions for tourists.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: A constitutional monarchy of 8 million people, rated #10 among world countries in economic freedoms, it consists of seven emirates, which are:  Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras al-Khaimah, Fujairah, and Umm al-Quwain.
Basically authoritarian and conservative, the UAE is one of the most liberal countries in the Gulf, with other cultures and beliefs generally tolerated.  It quarrels with Iran over ownership of some Gulf islands.  It did recognize Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Its economy boomed and diversified when it started to export oil in 1962.  It is now a tourist and trading hub with large foreign investments. 
ENHANCING HUMAN RIGHTS:   I extend my gratitude to the billions still striving to ensure empathy to the less fortunate, but much more light is needed to reveal the flaws of the country that considers itself the greatest ever, and in many respects is, even though it ranks 38th in human rights.  It is so frightening when its vice president tells the West Point graduating class that they are certain to see combat, thus implying that elements within the country will continue to be guilty of numerous violations of human, animal, and environmental rights, such as allowing the God of Greed to rule in disregard for foreigners, minorities, equal opportunities, the persecution of whistle blowers, ignoring science, and unbeneficial interference in other countries.  Improving the Middle East should be easier if we first eliminate our own flaws.
                                                                                   Ye Olde Scribe

Sunday, 12 May 2019


Billions of our species, Homo sapiens, individually and in groups, enjoy helping others navigate through this Life that can range from most pleasurable to most painful.  A smaller number, I refer to as Homo the Sap, have become dangerously powerful through worshiping the God of Greed.  How fares the Middle East? 
SAUDI ARABIA:  here was hope, starting in June 2017, when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud,  (known as bin Salman or MbS) was appointed by his father, King Salman, a Sunni Muslim and king since January 2015, to be his deputy prime minister on a platform of needed reforms.  MbS  is also chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs, chairman of the Council of Political and Security Affairs, and minister of defense.  He has led several successful reforms, including regulations restricting the powers of the religious police,  removing of the ban on female drivers (except for those who first proposed it), the first Saudi public concerts by a female singer, the first Saudi sports stadium to admit women, an increased presence of women in the workforce, and opening the country to  tourists by introducing an e-visa system which can be issued to foreigners from the Internet to attend events.   Since 2011 Saudi Arabia has accepted 500,000 Syrian refugees.
Despite praise for his strides towards social and economic freedoms, human rights groups are frightened at bin Salman's leadership and the shortfalls of his reform program, citing a rising number of detentions and  torture of human-rights activists, his bombing of Yemen, the escalation of the Qatar crisis, the Lebanon–Saudi Arabia dispute, the diplomatic spat with Canada, the arrest of members of the Saudi royal family in November 2017, the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and of being an autocratic leader with no tolerance for dissidents.
On 24 April 2019 the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, condemned the silence of US President Donald Trump's administration on Saudi Arabia's mass execution of 37 people convicted of terrorism.   He complained:  "After a wink at the dismembering of journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, not a whisper from the Trump administration when Saudi Arabia beheads 37 men in one day -- even crucifying one two days after Easter." 
Nothing new for King Salman.  In January 2016, he executed 47 civilians, tortured and convicted for terrorism in 12 provinces. Also killed was Shi’a Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.  The executed included 11 men convicted of spying for Iran, and 14 others convicted of violence during their participation in anti-government demonstrations in the Shi’a majority Eastern Province between 2011 and 2012. The 14 men were subjected to prolonged pre-trial detention and were tortured for ‘confessions’.  Also, among those executed is Abdulkareem al-Hawaj – a 16-year-old Shi’a man - for anti-government protests. Under international law, the use of the death penalty against those who are under the age of 18  is strictly prohibited.
The House of Saud was founded in 1744.  King Salman has a net worth estimated at $17 billion. The net worth of the entire royal family has been estimated at well over $1.4 trillion,  making them one of the wealthiest families in the world if not the wealthiest.   Power and wealth is possessed by a group of about 2,000 of them.
YEMEN: In 2015, the Saudis led 8 other Sunni states to join the Yemeni conflict, supporting the government against the Iran-aligned Shi'a Huthi rebels.  One of the poorest Arab-World countries, Yemen is being devastated largely by Saudi indiscriminate airstrikes using aircraft and help from the USA, UK, and France, blamed for up to 65% of the reported 68,000 deaths.  A war-induced famine puts 13 million at risk of starving.  Cholera has  1.5 million suspected cases with 3,000 deaths.  More than 3 million people - including 2 million children - are acutely malnourished, making them more vulnerable to disease. The charity, Save the Children, estimates that 85,000 children with severe acute malnutrition may have died between April 2015 and October 2018.
Aden, a trading port for some 3,000 years and former capital of South Yemen, was occupied in January 1839 when the British East India Company landed Royal Marines to stop pirate attacks on shipping to India. Aden’s importance greatly increased when the Suez canal opened in 1869.  It became the British Aden Protectorate and one of the world’s busiest trading ports.  Northern Yemen remained part of the Ottoman Empire until 1918.  The British left in 1967 and Aden became The Republic of South Yemen with the capital in Sanaa which Houthi rebel fighters entered in September 2014 and took full control by January 2015.  The conflict has its roots in the failure of a transition supposed to bring stability to Yemen following an Arab Spring uprising that forced its longtime authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to relinquish power to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, in 2011.
     Hadi struggled with jihadists, a separatist movement in the south, Saleh loyalists, as well as corruption, unemployment, and food insecurity.  It was a divided country that he Saudis invaded to destroy Iranian influence.
DAESH or ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yezidis, Christians, and Shi'a Muslims in areas it controls.  ISIS evolved from the jihad mujahideen guerrilla fighters employ by western forces to oppose the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, greatly augmented by the disbandment of Saddam Hussein’s Sunni army in Iraq.
MOSUL: Left in a crippled state after the 2003 US-led invasion, Iraq was unable to prevent Daesh from capturing and controlling Mosul in 2014.  The 9-month, 2016-17, street-to-street battle to retake it by Iraqi, Kurdish, and Western forces caused up to 11,000 civilian casualties and widespread devastation and disease.  Reconstruction is plagued by corruption.  The 2019 budget of $560 million allocated, in face of $1.8 billion needed, is largely misspent.  There are still 4 million tons of debris to be cleared.  
The total estimated population of 1,377,000 is over 60% Sunni Arab, 25% Kurds, and smaller numbers of Shi’a Arabs, Turkmen, Shabak, and Christians. Mosul is divided by the Tigris River, which creates different dynamics. The much longer occupation of West Mosul and the higher scale of damage incurred during the liberation of West Mosul create different priorities.
PALESTINE and ISRAEL: 137 of the world’s 193 nations recognize Palestine as an independent nation.  The US is the leading denier.  With considerable help from the US president, Donald Trump, Israel’s Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu  has won a 5th term (1996-1999 and 2009 to the present) as  prime minister.  It was a close and  hard fight with challenger Benny Ganz, a centrist and former military chief whose Blue and White alliance promises a continued opposition to the right wing policies of the Likud Party and personal corruption charges Netanyahu needs to face.
Netanyahu plans to continue expanding Israel at the expense of Palestine and Iran.  Palestinian frustration increases the number of missiles fired into Israel most of which are intercepted by the Iron Dome’s increasing deployment since 2011, even out to sea.  Foreign sales have been made and financial help received from the USA.  Hamas rocketing seems foolish, doing little harm compared to massive Israeli reactions that kill hundreds and destroy much infrastructure.  During the 3-day conflict in May 2019, of the 600 rockets Gaza fired into Israel about 155 were nullified by the Iron Dome.  The others killed 4 Israelis.  Israeli air strikes killed 27.  
The long-standing belief in the USA that Israel can do no wrong is now shifting towards Palestinian sympathies.  When Roger Waters, a world-renowned musician, organized at the University of Massachusetts, for May 04, 2019, a panel named “Not Backing Down”, 80 right-wing organizations, demanded that the event be cancelled and that the university disassociate itself from anything to do with it.  A judge ruled it could proceed.  The university invited as a speaker Hanan Daoud Mikhael Ashrawi,  age 72, a Palestinian leader, legislator, activist, and scholar who served as a member of the Leadership Committee and as an official spokesperson of the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East peace process, beginning with the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991. The Trump administration denied her a visa.
HEZBOLLAH:  After its invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Israel occupied a strip of south Lebanon, which was controlled by the South Lebanon Army (SLA), a militia supported by Israel. Hezbollah was conceived by Shi’a Muslim clerics and funded by Iran primarily to harass the Israeli occupation.
HAMAS:  A Palestinian Sunni-Islamist fundamentalist organization. It has a social service wing, Dawah, and a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. It has been the de facto governing authority of the Gaza Strip since its takeover of that area in 2007. During this period it fought several wars with Israel.
IRAN:  Human Rights activists may operate in Iran and some progress has been made, but the UN criticizes its abuses.  There were 273 executions in 2018 and in 2019 two teenagers were flogged and executed.
    In 1901 a British speculator got a concession to explore for oil in southern Iran and to develop any found.  Oil was found in 1908.  Since then Iran has been exploited by the UK, US, USSR, and various companies, while receiving a pittance for its oil and being charged inflated prices for the goods it imported.
In 1941 the UK imposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavin to rule Iran and the US even offered him nuclear weapons.  Iranian resentment continued to grow.  In 1951 the Majlis (Iranian parliament) forced the Shah to allow  Mohammad Mosaddegh to nationalize the oil.  In reprisal Iranian oil was boycotted and the Abadan Refinery, one of the world’s largest was forced to close.  In 1953 Prime Minister Mosaddegh was overthrown by a military coup by the CIA and UK MI6 and kept under arrest until his death in 1967.
In 1979 Iranian college students took over the US embassy, holding 52 diplomats hostage for 444 days.  Six other US diplomats were smuggled out by the Canadian diplomatic staff.    In 2015 a deal was signed curtailing Iran’s ability to start a nuclear weapons program.  Iran has lived up to  it but Trump withdrew the US in 2018, tightening sanctions.  Survival forces Iran into closer ties elsewhere.
  Unbelievably bizarre, apparently at the bequest of Netanyahu, is Trump’s inhumane treatment of Iran, Aiming to destroy it economically, he is actually misusing US economic might by weaponizing it and dictating to the world that they must not trade with Iran or face crippling sanctions.    Trying to cut Iran’s oil revenue from $50 billion annually to zero, he imposed sanctions in 2018, allowing a 6-month exemption to those dependent on Iranian oil: China, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey to find other sources.
A year after Tump pulled out of the nuclear pact with Iran, Iran, having lived up to its terms and getting nothing in return, announced it would start enriching uranium for peaceful purposes while Trump sends a carrier group to the Mediterranean to teach Iran a lesson.
EGYPT:  An absolute and very dangerous scoundrel, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in a controlled election, has won a second term as president.  And, what is so demoralizing is the presidential praise he got during a New York visit and the restoration of US military aid.   The EU adopted a strong resolution against Egypt’s behaviour and the UN detailed a long list of abuses including widespread torture and execution for mild dissent.  Canada complained: “ In 2013, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, grabbed power from the democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi in a coup d'etat, cheered on by Washington.  El-Sisi has tortured and killed thousands of followers of Morsi's Islamic Brotherhood, most of the rest of whom rot in prison, along with Morsi.”
TURKEY:   June 2018 saw President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan re-elected president, but his AKP party lost control of Ankara and Istanbul.  Turkish human rights are protected by  international law treaties, Yet they are of high importance for the negotiations to join  the European Union.  They include the status of Kurds and numerous human rights violations over the years. There is an ongoing debate on the right to life, torture, freedoms of expression, religion, assembly and association. Minorities cannot get a primary education in their mother tongue. The largest minority, the Kurds, 15% of the population, have no right to self-determination yet Turkey signed the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). In March 2017, the UN accused the Turkish government of "massive destruction, killings and numerous other serious human rights violations" against the Kurds.  Turkey has imprisoned more journalists than any other country.
But, to many in the US and NATO, Turkey’s major crime is their purchase of the cheaper Russian S-400 Triumph surface-to-air missile defence system, currently deployed in China and Syria, and is not NATO compatible.
ALGERIA:  Free elections were held from 1988, but a victory by the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in 1991 sparked a military coup d'état and the imposition, of a state of emergency under which basic human rights were suspended. Freedom of expression, association, and assembly were severely restricted, and many were arrested without charge. A civil war raged from 1991 to 1999, and there have been no official investigations into the massive human-rights violations during the conflict.  The government's main opponent was the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), a violent Al Qaeda affiliate also causing a wave of bombings in Paris in 1995.  The terrible fratricide got little coverage in Western media, despite the fact that it probably claimed twice as many lives as the Bosnian conflict, which ran concurrently and received nonstop Western attention.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika, president since 1999, lifted a state of emergency in 2011 and human rights have improved recently, but large scale protests continue over restrictions on freedom of expression, of the press, of association, of assembly, and of movement.  Extensive corruption and discrimination against women remains.
There is so much more; I do need to continue in my next blog.  May I leave you with a frightening example?
PAKISTAN:  ASIA BIBI,  a poor Pakistani Christian woman farm worker spent 8 years on death row for insulting Islam, a charge she denies.  In 2009 she was convicted of blasphemy after a dispute with 2 farm workers who refused to drink out of the same container as a Christian.  She was sentenced to be hanged.
The case got international attention as it emphasized Pakistan’s harsh laws that harass minorities such as Christians who make up 1.6% of the population. In 2011 her case sparked the assassination of Salmon Taseer, governor of Punjab by his own bodyguard claiming it was their duty because he supported Bibi.
Shahbaz Bhatt, the only Christian member in the cabinet, was also killed.
In Oct 2018, the Pakistan Supreme Court overturned Bibi's conviction.  Thousands took to streets protesting acquittal.  In Nov 2018 Canada asked that she be allowed to fly to Canada where her husband, Ashiq Masih, and her two daughters lived having fled Pakistan during her incarceration.           She has arrived in Canada but her location is being kept secret as hard-line muslims have vowed to pursue and kill her.
Over 1,300 in Pakistan have been accused of religious offences since 1987.
Ye Olde Scribe