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1 Saudis Threaten Qatar Over Muslim Brotherhood Support
Saudi Arabia reportedly threatened to cut off Qatari access to borders and airspace unless Muslim Brotherhood support ends. Sun, February 23, 2014
Muslim Brotherhood spiritual guide Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi with the Chairman of Al Jazeera Sheikh Hamad Bin Thamer Al-Thani from the Qatari Royal family. © Reuters Muslim Brotherhood spiritual guide Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi with the Chairman of Al Jazeera Sheikh Hamad Bin Thamer Al-Thani from the Qatari Royal family. Reuters
Months of tension between Qatar and Saudi Arabia over Qatar's continued support for the Muslim Brotherhood came to a head last week. It has been reported that a Saudi official threatened to close Qatar's border with Saudi Arabia if the emirate does not cease supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Kingdom believes that the Emir of Qatar, Sheik Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, has not observed an agreement that he signed in Riyadh vowing to stop using Qatari soil for actions that harm the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia opposes the Muslim Brotherhood, both domestically and in Syria and Egypt. The agreement was signed two months ago, in presence of the Emir of Kuwait. The presence of the Emir as a witness was allegedly because the King does not trust the Emir to abide by the agreement.
Egypt also has warned Qatar over its support of the Muslim Brotherhood. Both Saudi Arabia and Egypt view Qatar as being in breach of the Gulf Cooperation Council's guidelines for policies and positions. The Egyptian Foreign Minister Dr. Nabil Fahmy has been reported as saying "We reject the Qatari stance, in form and content, and there should not be any intervention in internal Egyptian affairs."
Egypt's interim government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization.
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2 Outrage at acquittal of Abu Dhabi sheikh in 'torture' tape
Paul Harris, New York - @paulxharris - Sunday 17 January 2010 00.06 GMT
Abu Dhabi verdict is an insult to justice says US businessman found guilty of trying to blackmail a member of the ruling family
Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan
The man at the centre of a "torture tape" scandal involving a wealthy Arab prince has spoken out about the acquittal of Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al-Nahyan – and called the verdict an insult to justice.
American businessman Bassam Nabulsi was behind the release last year of a shocking videotape in which Issa is seen brutally beating and torturing an Afghan man who he claimed owed him money. The tape showed Issa shooting at the man, beating him with a plank with protruding nails, electrocuting him, setting him on fire, pouring salt into his bleeding wounds and eventually having him driven over with a vehicle.
The tape caused an international outcry and eventually saw Issa put on trial in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, where he is a senior member of the ruling family. But the court, in the eastern city of al-Ain, acquitted him. Instead, it convicted Nabulsi, in absentia, for his involvement in what it decided was a blackmail plot, and sentenced him to five years in prison. The verdict stunned observers and raised questions about the justice system in the United Arab Emirates.
Nabulsi, speaking from Texas, told the Observer of his shock. "I am feeling nauseous. It is really sarcastic. These people, the more they lie, the bigger the hole they are digging for themselves," he said.
The al-Ain criminal court, which Nabulsi claims never told him he was charged with anything, decided that he and his brother had secretly injected Issa with drugs, thus rendering him incapable of having responsibility for his actions. The court said the brothers had done this as part of a plot to make the torture video and blackmail the sheikh. It found several of Issa's employees, including a Syrian, an Indian and a Palestinian, guilty of helping with the torture, handing out jail terms from one to three years. But by pointing the finger of blame at the Nabulsi brothers, the court in effect concluded that Issa was a victim too.
Nabulsi, who is also involved in a court case in the US with Issa, said the verdict showed that the powerful ruling family of Abu Dhabi, one of the dominant families within the UAE, could do what they pleased, free from the idea that they would be brought to justice, even when brutal crimes were videotaped. "They act like Al Capone in Chicago in the 1920s. No one can stop them," he said.
The Abu Dhabi government, however, has denied that it played any role in the verdict of the court and said its judicial system was unbiased and independent.
The UAE's foreign minister rejected calls to review the judgment. "There's no way the UAE government is going to get involved on any court ruling," Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan said after the verdict. "If we start doing so, what does that tell us about any court system in any country in the world? That defeats the point of an independent judiciary."
Issa's lawyer, Habib al-Mulla, praised the fact that he had even faced a trial as evidence of a fair judicial system. "That this trial is taking place is a sign that the UAE is showing that everyone in the country can be put in front of the law and judged," he said after the verdict.
The trial and its unexpected conclusion was just the latest twist in the disturbing tale of the torture tape. Nabulsi and his brother, who are Lebanese Americans, were former business partners of Issa. At first they were friends. "In the beginning he was a pretty nice guy," Nabulsi said. However, he claimed that eventually Issa, perhaps emotionally affected by the death of his father, became a different person. Nabulsi alleged his brother was forced to make videos of torture sessions.
Nabulsi claims he asked Issa to change his behaviour. At that point, Nabulsi has claimed in a civil lawsuit, he was arrested in the UAE on drugs charges while Issa demanded he turn over all the videos. Nabulsi said he was tortured in jail and threatened with beatings and death. The experience, he said, has left him scarred mentally. "I was in constant fear for 24 hours a day … I have never really talked about it, even with my family," he said.
Finally, after the intercession of American diplomats, Nabulsi was freed and fled the UAE, taking the torture tape with him. When the tape was released, it caused a diplomatic spat between the US and the UAE and for a while threatened a bilateral nuclear energy deal. However, that deal was signed last December, after Issa was arrested, but before the verdict finding him not guilty.
Despite the verdict of the UAE court, Nabulsi says that he is determined to fight on.
3 How murder exposed Saudi prince's homosexual life
By Chris Summers - BBC News - 19 October 2010
A Saudi prince has been jailed for life for murdering his manservant, who was found beaten to death in bed at a plush London hotel. The defendant spent most of the trial trying to prove he was not gay. Why?
Before his trial began at the Old Bailey, Prince Saud bin Abdulaziz bin Nasir al Saud made strenuous efforts to keep the question of his homosexuality secret.
The 34-year-old prince admitted he had assaulted his manservant, Bandar Abdulaziz, but denied murder.
His barrister, John Kelsey-Fry QC, argued the question of sexuality was irrelevant to the case and pointed out homosexual acts were a "mortal sin" under Islamic sharia law.
Mr Kelsey-Fry said if the prince was outed as a homosexual he could face execution in his native Saudi Arabia.
Jonathan Laidlaw QC, prosecuting, argued that if he was convicted and recommended for deportation after serving his sentence he would be able to claim asylum in Britain by arguing that his life was in danger, whether or not he actually was gay.
He said it was not for a defendant "to edit the prosecution evidence".
Bandar Abdulaziz, who was found beaten and strangled to
death in the Landmark Hotel, in central London
Christoph Wilcke, a Saudi Arabia expert with Human Rights Watch, said homosexuals had in the past been executed but it was usually for rape and he said a prince would be immune from court action.
When the trial began, Mr Kelsey-Fry went to great lengths to stress his client denied he was gay.
But a string of witnesses suggested otherwise.
A hotel porter, Dobromir Dimitrov, himself homosexual, said: "I would describe them as a gay couple."
But Mr Kelsey-Fry, cross examining Mr Dimitrov, told him: "It is not accepted that this was in fact a gay couple - but I readily accept that you had the impression they were a gay couple."
Two male escorts, Pablo Silva and Louis Szikora, also gave evidence they had performed sex acts on the prince.
Although the prince never gave evidence, during police interviews he insisted he was heterosexual and had a girlfriend in Saudi Arabia.
But Mr Laidlaw said this was a lie: "The defendant's keeping back of his homosexuality might in other circumstances, because of the cultural background perhaps, be explained away by embarrassment, or indeed, fear.
"But the defendant's concealing of the sexual aspect to his abuse of the victim was, we will argue, for altogether more sinister reasons."
When he was found in the bed in Room 312 of the Landmark Hotel in central London, the victim had bite marks on his cheeks. The police also found naked photographs of him on the prince's mobile
All this, suggested Mr Laidlaw, suggested a "sexual element" to the abuse which led to the victim's death.
Prince Saud caught on camera in a prison van
The prince, whose mother was one of 50 children of the late King Saud, paid for his 32-year-old manservant to fly around the world and stay in the best hotels.
Together in London they went shopping, dined in the best restaurants and drank champagne and cocktails in swanky nightclubs.
They shared a bed but the prince frequently subjected his manservant to violent attacks, such as the beating which was captured on the CCTV camera in a hotel lift three weeks before Bandar Abdulaziz's death.
In the footage, the victim makes no attempt to fight back and afterwards
walks meekly after his master like a scolded dog.
Professor Gregory Gause, a Saudi Arabia expert, said: "Homosexuality is considered extremely shameful in Saudi Arabia and there is not a publicly acknowledged homosexual community.
"It's still closeted. But, for young Saudi men, contact with the opposite sex is extremely difficult so there might be a temptation to experiment before marriage," said Prof Gause, from the University of Vermont.
He said about 5,000 Saudi princes get a yearly stipend of about $200,000 (£126,000), but some were "fabulously wealthy".
An insight into the prince's bashfulness about his homosexuality was given by one of the escorts, Mr Szikora, who described visiting the prince for a two-hour "erotic" session three days before the murder.
He said: "The man I met ultimately did want sexual massage but it is like mixing Nigel Havers with Omar Sharif. You have to build some rapport.
"Middle Eastern gentlemen, they are not as open about what they want as people in the West."
Prince Abdulaziz arriving at the Old Bailey
Whatever the exact relationship between the prince and his manservant, when he overstepped the mark with his beatings and inflicted fatal injuries on Bandar, he tried to conceal it by concocting a cover story.
He claimed his manservant had been beaten up and robbed of 3,000 euros in Edgware Road three weeks before, and suggested those injuries must have led to his death.
His lies were exposed by the post mortem, which showed the injuries were fresh, and by CCTV footage in the lift, which showed it was the prince who inflicted those earlier injuries.
He later admitted causing the injuries which led to Bandar's death.
Now the prince has been jailed for life and ordered to spend up to 20 years behind bars in Britain before being deported back to Saudi Arabia.
But Mr Wilcke said: "Irrespective of the court verdict, his humiliation has already taken place. A family council will have been held and he will probably have his money cut off."
Saudi Prince Sentenced to Life for Murder of Servant