Tag Archives: middle east

The fund aims to foster media pluralism, public voice and civil society participation in the media and to strengthen, through community media, the voices of women, youth, remote and rural communities, and marginalised groups. The Aswatona Fund will offer grants for five types of action: exchanges of experience and good practice; audience development and sustainability; cultural and social action media; promotion of media policy dialogue; and network development and solidarity.


“Above-top-secret details of Britain’s covert surveillance programme - including the location of a clandestine British base tapping undersea cables in the Middle East - have so far remained secret, despite being leaked by fugitive NSA sysadmin Edward Snowden. Government pressure has meant that some media organisations, despite being in possession of these facts, have declined to reveal them. Today, however, the Register publishes them in full.

The secret British spy base is part of a programme codenamed “CIRCUIT” and also referred to as Overseas Processing Centre 1 (OPC-1). It is located at Seeb, on the northern coast of Oman, where it taps in to various undersea cables passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian/Arabian Gulf. Seeb is one of a three site GCHQ network in Oman, at locations codenamed “TIMPANI”, “GUITAR” and “CLARINET”. TIMPANI, near the Strait of Hormuz, can monitor Iraqi communications. CLARINET, in the south of Oman, is strategically close to Yemen.

British national telco BT, referred to within GCHQ and the American NSA under the ultra-classified codename “REMEDY”, and Vodafone Cable (which owns the former Cable & Wireless company, aka “GERONTIC”) are the two top earners of secret GCHQ payments running into tens of millions of pounds annually.” (via REVEALED: GCHQ’s BEYOND TOP SECRET Middle Eastern INTERNET SPY BASE • The Register)

One Iraqi activist, Mazen al-Zaidi, wrote on his Facebook page that the civil movement forced the Iraqi parliament to reject the draft law pertaining to cybercrimes. He said that this bill violates the right of information exchange, as guaranteed by the Iraqi constitution.
Earlier, the Iraqi government had presented to parliament a draft law known as the Cybercrimes Act, which would levy heavy punishments on those who circulate information pertaining to national security.
The draft law addressed in particular Internet and cell-phone users. The government declared that, throughout the drafting process, it had referred to similar laws in some Arab countries, in addition to the US law in this regard.
After the parliament approved revoking the law, the head of the parliamentary Culture and Media Committee said, “The government presented the draft law in 2006, when the country was plagued by terrorism. Al-Qaeda misused the Internet to publish press releases, recruit terrorists and post tips on how to make bombs and IEDs. At the time, the law was a security necessity.”

For decades Kuwait, with its rowdy elected parliament and noisy press, has enjoyed relative freedom. Faced in recent months by unprecedented mass demonstrations demanding broader democracy, the sleekly rich city-state’s riot police have gained a nasty reputation for brutality.

Thus spake The Economist a few weeks ago, just prior to a session organised by the UK Embassy in Kuwait to “focus on finding the right balance between ensuring freedom of expression and security in the context of the rising popularity of social media.” It was vigorously tweeted at #q8_expression, and a couple of accounts of the meeting have appeared online.