SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has indicated support of allowing women there to drive.
He said on Sunday that if women were allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, it would help the kingdom's campaign to cut down on the number of foreign workers.
Saudi Arabia follows an ultraconservative interpretation of Islam and bans women from driving.
"The question of allowing women to drive in Saudi Arabia will save more than 500,000 jobs in addition to the social and economic benefits," the prince wrote Sunday on his Twitter account.
Thousands of foreign workers have been fired from their jobs and then deported, part of a government campaign against foreigners who illegally reside and work in the kingdom.
Last week King Abdullah gave workers three months to try to legalise their presence. There are more than eight million foreign workers in Saudi Arabia.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- One of the world's richest men, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has severed ties with the Forbes rich list, claiming it understated his wealth.
The Saudi investor, ranked 26th in the billionaires' list released on Monday, accused Forbes of a "flawed" valuation method that undervalued his assets and "seemed designed to disadvantage Middle Eastern investors and institutions".
Forbes estimates that Alwaleed – a nephew of the Saudi king with investments in everything from News Corp to the Savoy hotel – is worth $20bn (£13bn), putting him behind Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
Alwaleed, on the other hand, estimates his own wealth at $29.6bn, which would catapult him into the top 10 of the magazine's richest people on the planet, just behind 90-year-old French cosmetics heiress Liliane Bettencourt.
The prince wrote a letter to Forbes's editor-in-chief, Steve Forbes, saying he will no longer provide the magazine with information about his finances and has reportedly instructed lawyers over the matter.
In a stinging rebuke, Alwaleed said he would continue to work with theBloomberg Billionaires index, which was launched last year as a rival to Forbes's long-established list. Bloomberg – which uses figures provided by Alwaleed's investment vehicle, Kingdom Holding Company, as well as its own financial data – estimates the prince's wealth at $28bn, ranking him the world's 16th wealthiest person.
Forbes responded to the allegations saying it had been investigating the prince's finances for several years and would detail its findings in a feature story in the magazine, released online on Tuesday.
The bone of contention appears to be Forbes's refusal to use share values as listed by Saudi Arabia's stock exchange, while it accepts the valuations of other emerging markets such as the Mexican stock exchange. Kingdom added that it had found inconsistencies in Forbes's reporting, including "a completely unsupported and biased allegation based on rumours that stock manipulation 'is the national sport' in Saudi Arabia because 'there are no casinos'".
Prince Saud bin Abdulaziz Bin Nasir, a grandson of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah II, was jailed in 2010 for killing Bandar Abdullah Abdulaziz at a five-star hotel in London. At his trial, the court heard he had subjected his servant to a ‘sadistic’ campaign of violence and sexual abuse, which led to the ‘brutal’ assault.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – A homosexual Saudi prince who was jailed for life in Britain for killing his manservant is to serve the rest of his sentence in his home country. Prince Saud bin Abdulaziz Bin Nasir, a grandson of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah II, was jailed in 2010 for killing Bandar Abdullah Abdulaziz at a five-star hotel in London. At his trial, the court heard he had subjected his servant to a ‘sadistic’ campaign of violence and sexual abuse, which led to the ‘brutal’ assault. It was revealed in the court that the brutal attack by the Saudi Prince was fuelled by champagne and ‘Sex on the Beach’ cocktails.
The 36-year-old, a member of the House of Saud was told he must serve a minimum of 20 years. British government sources confirmed that Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, had approved the prince's transfer to a jail in Saudi Arabia on 06 February 2013. It was not specified when the prince would be transferred, but The Times reported that he was expected to fly home within weeks. He is one of 11 Saudi citizens in British jails that are eligible for the transfers home. Under the prisoner transfer agreement, which came into operation in August last year, five Britons currently in Saudi prisons can ask to serve the remainder of their sentences in the UK.
A British official added: "We have a prison transfer arrangement with Saudi Arabia which allows nationals of either country to serve their prison sentence in their home state." Saudis denied that the Prince was homosexual during his high-profile trial but the jury was told that he had ordered gay escorts in London. He had also frequently looked at websites for gay massage parlours and escort agencies.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- When Prince Harry compared fighting in Afghanistan to playing a video game, the Taliban were quick to accuse him of mental illness and cowardice, joining a chorus of criticism from all sides.
But in Afghanistan's highest reaches of government he has found at least one ally. President Hamid Karzai, usually quick to condemn western mis-steps in his country, told the Guardian that the young royal's comments may have been a mistake, but he should be let off the hook because of his age.
"Prince Harry is a young man, we do give exits to young men when they make mistakes," said Karzai, who is visiting the UK for a high-level conference, and also expects to meet Prince Charles before flying home.
A long-standing friendship with Charles, whom he described as a "great representative of Britain", may have contributed to Karzai's uncharacteristic reticence.
"Prince Charles, the father of Prince Harry, is a very fine gentleman, a man for whom I have tremendous respect," Karzai told the Guardian and ITV News in an exclusive interview, when asked whether he thought Harry had spoken unwisely.
But he also drew a telling contrast with Prince Charles's more peaceful reputation, as he reminisced about years of admiration for his friend's vocal advocacy of traditional building styles.
"For years, even when I was a student in Shimla, I used to read about his dislike of modern architecture and the cement buildings and I entirely agreed with him. Prince Charles is a great representative of Britain and the British ways of life," he said.
Karzai is visiting the UK for a trilateral meeting with the British prime minister, David Cameron, and the Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari, with the aim of improving fractious relations between the south Asian neighbours and ultimately pave the way for a peace deal with the Taliban.
He arrived shortly after the broadcast of several media interviews Harry gave to mark the end of a 20-week deployment as a co-pilot in an Apache attack helicopter stationed in Camp Bastion, in turbulent southern Helmand province.
Initially, much of the coverage of Harry, which included shots of him ripping out an earpiece as his aircraft was scrambled for an engagement, was greeted largely with admiration. But the description of his job as a "joy" sat uneasily with admissions that he had probably killed Taliban fighters from the helicopter.
"Take a life to save a life, that's what we revolve around. If there's people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we'll take them out of the game," he said. "I'm not here on a free pass … Our job out here is to make sure the guys are safe on the ground and if that means shooting someone who is shooting them, then we will do it."
The prince, who was in charge of firing the Apache's Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, rockets and 30mm gun, also said his taste for video games helped him in battle. "It's a joy for me because I'm one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think I'm probably quite useful," he said.
Pushed again about the remarks, Karzai said most people had made mistakes in their youth and shouldn't be hounded for that. "As I said, he's a young man, and young men do make mistakes talking, while behaving, all of us have gone through that period, so let's drop it there."
Harry's enemies on the battlefield, who have also said they are targeting Karzai even as his government tries to reach out to them, were not so reticent, describing the young prince as a coward who ran away from fighting the mujahideen, or "holy warriors", as the militants like to call themselves.
"I don't believe that he participated in the fighting," said Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban. "Maybe he has seen the mujahideen in a movie, but that's it."
He accused Harry, who has now completed two tours in one of Afghanistan's roughest provinces, of staying away from the fight. "I think he has a mental problem, that's why he is saying it is a game," he said. "These kind of people live like diplomats in Afghanistan, they can't risk themselves by standing against the mujahideen."
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Bahraini princess is in court for the torture of three pro-democracy activists in detention. The princess’s case is the latest in a string of cases of torture and violence has seen the light in a report issued by Bahraini opposition.
Princess Nora Bint Ebrahim al-Khalifa who serves in Bahrain’s Drugs Control Unit, allegedly collaborated with another officer to torture three activists held in detention following a pro-democracy rally against the island kingdom’s monarchy.
The princess categorically denies the charges of torture set against her.
Two of the princess’s alleged victims were Doctors Ghassan Daif and Bassem Daif, who went to help the hundreds wounded when police opened fire with teargas and birdshot during protests in 2011. They were taken into custody in March of that year when it is thought that al-Khalifa tortured them.
The third victim, 21-year-old Ayat al-Qurmazi, was arrested for public reading of inflammatory poetry criticizing the royal family. She claims her blindfold slipped while she was being tortured and she caught a glimpse of al-Khalifa.
As Muslim women have never before been known to take part in interrogations and tortures, Nora Al-Khalifa stands out as the grossest character in the human rights activists’ report, RT’s Nadezhda Kevorkova said.
Princess Nora’s case is the latest in a series of torture scandals highlighted in a report by the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights.
A 55-pages report titled ‘Citizens in the Grip of Torture’ is based on the nine interviews with named and anonymous witnesses. It was published both in English and Arabic.
The report states that two of the Bahraini King’s sons Nasser Bin Hammad Al-Khalifa and Khalid Bin Hammad Al-Khalifa, as well as two other members of the royal family, Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa and Nora Bint Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, directly took part in torturing the activists.
Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa (L), Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa (M), Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa (R). (Photos from Report: Citizens in the Grip of Torturers)
Torture stories include rare details that Muslims usually prefer to shun for ethical reasons, Bahraini opposition activists told Kevorkova.
After getting numerous letters from torture victims who mentioned the four members of the royal family among the arresters and torturers, the report’s authors decided it was vital to get an investigation going, RT’s Kevorkova said.
Included in the report are short CVs of those four members of the Bahrain’s royal family accused of human rights violations.
Nasser Bin Hamad, the fourth son of the King Hamad, is a colonel and commander of Bahrain’s royal guard. Bin Hamad, his 23-year-old brother, has also held a number of senior positions despite his young age and is married to Saudi Arabian King’s daughter.
The other two Al-Khalifas directly responsible for cases of torture and violence as stated in the report are Colonel Khalifa Bin Ahmed, a high-ranking police officer dismissed from his post in September 2011, and Lieutenant Nora Bint Ebrahim Al-Khalifa of Bahrain’s Drug Enforcement Administration.
Tortured for reading verses
Poet Ayat Al-Qurmozy was arrested in March 2011 after reciting a poem against the Bahraini regime during a peaceful demonstration in Pearl Roundabout. She was detained by masked men dressed in civilian clothing. On her release, al-Qurmozy told of tortures used on her by both men and women. One of the women involved was identified as Nora al-Khalifa.
The report states that Nora spat on al-Qurmozy and into her mouth, slapped her in the face repeatedly, administered electric shocks and shouted anti-Shia slurs.
On the eighth day of her arrest, al-Qurmozy was brought blindfolded into a room full of men, documents the report. They shouted abuse at her and demanded she tell them by whom she was given the verses and how much she was paid for reading them.
“I was surprised by a woman grabbing me and slapping me hard in the face… When she was screaming, cursing and slapping me hard on my face, the blindfold came down off my eyes and I saw her face a bit but they rushed to lift it,” al-Qurmozy later said, as cited in the report.
Al-Qurmozy was then brutally beaten, and Nora gave her electric shocks every time she lost consciousness, the report says. After that Nora allegedly went on torturing the young poet every night, beating her on the face and spitting on her every time she found her without a blindfold.
Threatened by rape, the poet girl was forced to confess to her ‘guilt’ in front of a camera. But her torture continued after al-Qurmozy was thrown into a car, the report says, elaborating on how Nora slapped her on the head, threatened to cut out her tongue, spat and put a wooden bathroom broom into her mouth and beat her continually. All these abuses were witnessed by another arrested woman, Jalila Salman, who was put in the same car.
Tortured for taking part in demonstration
Sheikh Mohammad Habib al-Mekdad, president of Zahraa Association for Orphans, was arrested at home in April 2011 by a group of 50-60 people wearing civilian clothes and masks. He was still in detention at the time of the report.
Al-Mekdad was stripped naked and beaten, and then put in pitch-dark prison cell, where he was continually tortured, the report says. According to al-Mekdad, he was hung head down, beaten for hours, and had sensitive body parts exposed to electric shock.
Prince Nasser Bin Hamad came to interrogate al-Mekdad and other detainees, making sure they recognized him before their questioning, the report says. On learning that al-Mekdad took part in a Safriya protest march in front of the Bahraini king’s palace, where some people shouted “Down with King Hamad,” the prince began beating him.
Prince Nasser then supervised the torture in person, Al-Mekdad said at the February 2012 court trial according to the report. There he showed more than 50 electric shock traces on his body and told the judge he was tortured by a drill piercing his leg and humiliated by spitting in his mouth. Prince Nasser forced al-Mekdad to kiss pictures of the royal family in between the torture sessions.
None of these words were taken down in the court, and the judge asked al-Mekdad to remain silent, saying that “this court has its respect,” the report states.
Tortured for SMS
This is what happens in Bahrain if the king’s son finds a suspicious SMS in your phone, RT’s Kevorkova said, citing the story of the man speaking on condition of anonymity.
According to the report, the man was stopped at a checkpoint near Safriya Palace in May 2011 while driving in a car with his wife and children. He recognized one of the patrolmen as Prince Khalid Bin Hamad. Unsatisfied with the fact that nothing was found in the car, the prince started searching through text messages on the man’s phone, and found an old SMS on the Pearl Roundabout demonstration.
The prince then ordered the man’s brother be called to take the woman and children home, but on his arrival both were arrested, the report says. They were thrown to the ground, beaten and forced “to repeat the royal greeting,” with Khalid Bin Hamad ordering to beat them again for every royal family member’s name they didn’t know.
The men were also forced to eat hot chili peppers and insult some opposition figures. The reports states that the police has also started beating the men on coming to the scene.
Both were sentenced to 60 days in prison and dismissed from their jobs.
Another man cited in the report was also arrested at a checkpoint after policemen noticed his car was parked near Pearl Roundabout and took the car’s number down.
For that he was put in al-Qalaa prison and tortured daily with the use of special devices and techniques, including chaining, limb piercing and beating with clubs, the report claims. He was also deprived of sleep and his religious practices, the report adds.
Prince Nasser Bin Hamad allegedly supervised the man’s torture, which was carried out by foreigners.
“This is not Iran, we came to you from Iraq, and we are Saddamists,” they shouted as they tortured him, according to the report.
The man was cited as saying that his friend Karim Fakhrawi, who was also detained, died during one such torture session.
RT sent a letter to Bahraini Information Affairs Authority last week asking for the comment on the report, but has so far not received an answer.
RT's Nadezhda Kevorkova contributed to this report
Source : RT
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Upon returning from his five-month tour of duty in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand Province, the third in line to the British throne, Prince Harry, says he killed Muslims to protect his people.
“Take a life to save a life, that’s what we revolve around,” Harry said.
It is not clear how many people Prince Harry has killed during the Helmand tour, but he has confirmed responsibility for killings.
“If there’s people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we’ll take them out of the game,” he said.
Prince Harry, who served as co-pilot gunner, compared killing people from an Apache helicopter to playing video games and described his job as a “joy.”
“It's a joy for me because I’m one of those people that loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think I’m probably quite useful,” he said.
The 28-year-old prince was deployed to serve a 20-week mission with NATO forces in Afghanistan shortly after his scandalous nude pictures at a hotel in Las Vegas were published on the Internet, making headlines worldwide.
According to the website icasualties.org, a total of 3,257 US-led troops have lost their lives in Afghanistan since 2001, when the United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror.
The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues to rise across the country, despite the presence of thousands of US-led troops.
Hundreds of foreign soldiers were killed in the war-torn country in 2012 alone.-www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Prince Harry, or Captain Wales as he is known in the army, has finished a four-month tour of Afghanistan. He describes what life has been like living at Camp Bastion, where he has been serving as an Apache helicopter pilot and gunner with 662 Sqd Army Air Corpswww.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Britain's Prince Harry has acknowledged that he killed Taliban insurgents on his latest tour of duty in Afghanistan as a crew member of an Apache attack helicopter.
Harry has been serving for four months as a co-pilot gunner (CPG) in southern Helmand province -- considered a Taliban heartland -- and flew on scores of missions with the trigger to rockets, missiles and a 30mm cannon at his fingertips.
No one is saying how many insurgents Harry might have killed but toward the end of his deployment, the 28-year-old, known to his comrades as Captain Wales, shared some of his feelings about combat with reporters while on duty in the massive military base known as Camp Bastion. He said it was sometimes justified to "take a life to save a life. That's what we revolve around, I suppose."
Harry explained how the roles of Apaches and CPGs have changed since his previous deployments in 2007 and 2008. "It used to be very much: front seat, you're firing the whole time.
"Now, yes we fire when we have to but essentially we're more of a deterrent than anything else.
"Our job out here is to make sure the guys are safe on the ground and if that means shooting someone who is shooting at them, then we will do it," said the prince, third in line to the British throne.
"It's not the reason I decided to do this job. The reason to do this job was to get back out here, and carry on with a job."
Away from his helicopter, the prince mixed freely on base, eating in the canteen with everyone else and relaxing by playing video games with others in the 130-strong 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps (AAC). With those comrades, he was just "one of the guys."
In contrast to his privileged upbringing in palaces and an education at Eton College, the prince lived in a shared room within shipping containers converted into an accommodation block. He said he was free to stroll around the base, to visit the gym or the laundry. "It's completely normal," Harry added.
But he said he still received unwanted attention in more public places. "For me it's not that normal because I go into the cookhouse and everyone has a good old gawp, and that's one thing that I dislike about being here," he said.
Opinion: Cheeky Harry vs. dull brother William
"Because there's plenty of guys in there that have never met me, therefore look at me as Prince Harry and not as Captain Wales, which is frustrating.
"Which is probably another reason why I'd love to be out in the PBs (patrol bases), away from it all.
"But yeah, it's completely normal. It's as normal as it's going to get. I'm one of the guys. I don't get treated any differently."
His deployment meant he could step back from the public eye, although he said his father, the heir to the British throne Prince Charles, often reminded him of his position. Harry admitted he had "let himself and his family down" when he was photographed naked at a party in a Las Vegas hotel last year.
Harry appeared happier talking about his military role: building up the Afghan National Army, the ANA, so it can eventually take over.
"It's great to see the ANA taking more of a lead in things as well. And the professionalism is definitely shining through."
That's something his superiors in the army might say of the prince himself.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Britian's Prince Harry has reportedly been involved in his first Taliban kill.
U.K. media reports the 27-year-old Apache helicopter co-pilot was on patrol in late October tracking a Taliban leader when his gunship fired a 45-kilogram Hellfire missile, striking its target.
No other details of the attack were available.
Capt. Harry Wales, who is said to be called "Big H" by his fellow soldiers, is stationed in Helmand, Afghanistan, and is on his second tour of duty.
The U.K. Sun reports that Harry is a front-seat co-pilot and mans the helicopter's main weapons.
He was honoured for being the best co-pilot gunner after his 18 months of intense training in 2011 on the Apache, which is used to track and kill Taliban fighters and gather intelligence. It is equipped with night-vision systems and uses Rolls Royce engines.
Harry is also a trained tank commander.
The prince's first tour of duty was in 2008 when he was quietly deployed with the Household Calvary for a 77-day stint.
He was pulled out after it was reported that he was serving in Afghanistan and the Taliban vowed to kidnap or kill him.
He returned to Afghanistan this year.
His role in the deadly offensive is sure to help him shake a reputation and a "party prince," a title the youngest son of Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales earned after being photographed on a boozy naked romp in Las Vegas earlier this year.- www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Have you ever noticed something evil in the eyes of Prince Charles? If so it could be because the Prince of Wales may be descended from Count Dracula.
Romania is exploiting the kinship between the Prince and the real Dracula – Romanian ruler Vlad the Impaler, to attract tourists.
The Romanian National Tourist Office has released a promotional video and brochures, in which it uses the links between the British Royalty and Count Dracula to boost tourism to Transylvania and the rest of the country, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Transylvania is best known as the land of Count Dracula, who in popular fiction drank his victims’ blood and could turn into a bat. Thousands of tourists visit the town of Castle Bran every year to see where the cruel Romanian ruler Vlad the Impaler lived. However it is also linked to British Royalty.
“The genealogy shows I am descended from Vlad the Impaler, so I do have a bit of a stake in the country,” Prince Charles said in an interview last year.
In the video the Prince “traces his ancestry back to Romania’s dark and distant past.” He speaks about his kinship with the historical Dracula – Vlad Tepes or Vlad the Impaler, the 15th century ruler of the Wallachian Kingdom, and with the deeds which prompted Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel. The Prince says in a book published in 1982 by Sir Iain Moncreiffe he is listed as a great grandson 16 times removed to Vlad Tepes.
The promotional material featuring Prince Charles speaking of his relationship to the notorious Romanian ruler was launched at the World Travel Market that kicked off on Monday in London.
“The link to the British Royal Family and the clear fondness the Royal Family has for the country will only help to promote the country across the Commonwealth and particularly in the UK,” The Daily Telegraph quotes Simon Press, from World Travel Market.