The Price Of Bin Salman’s Head

Will MBS in this instance become the West’s new Saddam?

Image result for MBS,trump

October 25, 2018

by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog

With the ever-changing and escalating aftermath of the Khashoggi disappearance episode, there remain many fixed marks that are interesting to identify.

But before we do, we must stop and briefly look at the official American, Turkish and Saudi stands on this issue.

The Americans are best seen to be playing yoyo with their Saudi “friends”. One moment they seem to be totally abandoning them and sending them spiraling down in a free-fall, and the next moment they lift them up, clutch them, and give them a sense of safety. Notwithstanding that on the 3rd of October, and just before the Khashoggi story hit the media frenzy, Trump reiterated that Saudi Arabia would not last two weeks without America’s support, and what followed was a series of fluctuations and backflips on the American side. At the time of promising severe measures against the Saudis, Trump said that this will not mean canceling the arms deal with Saudi Arabia. And when Pompeo visited Al Saud to talk to the royals, leaving the Kingdom of Sand with an understanding that his boss Trump articulated by hinting at vindicating the royals and putting the blame on some rogue elements, America turned again supporting Turkish investigations and awaiting their outcome, but just before Erdogan’s speech of the 23rd of October, Trump reiterated that he was prepared to accept the Saudi Government denial of involvement.

And speaking of Turkish investigations, the highly awaited Erdogan speech ended in a pop and a fizzle, and was nothing short of a domestic propaganda speech that had no conclusions and did not provide any evidence as to the details of Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder. And “alleged” it remains until a body is found and identified by an independent reliable coroner.

The speech was not endorsed by America, and America was for a few hours or so once again looking sympathetic towards the Saudi royals, but less than 24 hours later, Trump was talking about the “worst cover-up in history”.

There is no need to flood this article with easy-to-find references to substantiate the above.

Back to Erdogan later.

These swings that are extremely bizarre and hypocritical even by American standards make one wonders what kind of relationship do Saudis and Americans have.

To understand the underlying nature of this relationship, having a look at the events of the last ten years or so are revealing enough without having to dig deeper into history.

To this effect, I am not talking about the strategic alliances, defense agreements, the importance of oil to both countries, the world and the Israeli role in all of this. I am not talking about the Saudi obsession with Iran either. What I am talking about is the personal human relationships between the Americans and Saudis as human beings and how they view each other as men; this is about the personal love-hate-respect-loath relationship between American policymakers and their Saudi counterparts.

This “relationship” is not a simple one. It is embroiled by deep cultural differences and belief systems. Having lived and worked in Saudi Arabia, I can understand the Saudi mindset more than many, but anyone who has had the same “privilege” that I had living there would concur, albeit not necessarily be prepared to sit down and write about it.

In case the reader is unfamiliar with the predominant Saudi mindset, speaking generally of course, allow me to pin point certain pertinent aspects of it:

1. Contrary to the word of the Holy Quran and which clearly states that God chose the Arabic language for the religion of Islam, Saudis believe otherwise. They believe that Islam was God’s gift to them.

2. Saudis also believe that God also gave Arabia another gift; petrol, and the biggest national reserve of them all … perhaps.

3. Al-Saud believe they have been afforded the God-given mandate to rule Arabia at the time when petrol became such an important commodity for the rest of the world.

4. Finally, the above “privileges” give Saudis, especially members of the Royal Family, an illusion of being above others. And this mindset views other nations from the perspective that Saudis are the rich masters of the world and that they have the power and ability to employ members of those other nations to “serve” them.

When I lived and worked in Saudi Arabia, Saudis did not work. They had jobs, but they never really worked. Apart from the security apparatus whose job is mainly to protect the status quo of the Royal Family, the only other real working job that Saudis had was taxi driving. But that was what poor and uneducated Bedouins did.

All other jobs from garbage collectors to doctors to dockyard engineers were contracted to expats from different regions of the world. Professional jobs that needed communication and fluency in the Arabic language were given to Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians, Jordanians and Egyptians. Blue collar jobs were given to Yemenis and Arabs of the above nationalities without tertiary education. High ranking professional jobs that did not require fluency in Arabic were given to Americans and Europeans.

This mentality produced a generation or two or three of Saudis who are filthy rich, overweight, and engrossed with self-grandeur and superiority that was fed time and time again by their financial prowess.

But this is not restricted to Saudis only. Arabs of the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait all have that same superiority disease. Qatar that has a Qatari population of less than 200,000 has a population of over one and a half million expats to “serve them”. This is exactly how they see it; themselves being masters, and expats beings serving serfs.

In recent times, the Saudi and Gulf youth have increasingly been gaining tertiary education qualifications, receiving generous government scholarships and immediate employment following graduation. The Saudi Government protects its people by imposing quota rules on the percentage of Saudi employees in companies as well as the public sector of course. However, this fact has not been reflected in the work load they perform. These educated Saudis sit at the head of governmental positions and companies in tokenistic managerial supervisory roles over an entire staff of foreign professionals. They often try to assert their positions and feed their egos by yelling and barking irrelevant, and often laughable orders, at their employees and junior staff. And even if they are not in managerial roles, they will still be around the foreign professionals, leaving all the work for them to do and doing nothing themselves.

Saudi professionals I “worked with” were living examples for me to learn this mindset. They did not lift a finger, but when a report was submitted by either myself or other expats around me, a Saudi name had to appear as its senior author, and he received all the accolade.

Saudis genuinely believe that they can buy anything and anyone with money, including buying the stature of being a leading nation.

And if, hypothetically-speaking, the Saudis were to contract a Western company to build them a space ship and send a man to Mars, they will regard this as a Saudi achievement. Surprised? Well, just have a look at Dubai’s “achievement” in building Burj Khalifa, the tallest building on earth.

Once again, that Saudi mentality is not any better or worse than the general oil-rich Arabian one. They are all almost identical.

At a deep and subtle level however, the Saudis (and Gulfies in general) know well that in the eyes of the Empire and its cohorts, they are perceived as a bunch of “uncivilized camel riders” who happen to be horribly rich by sheer luck. They know that they are not really regarded as true allies of the West, but as its milking cow; and some Saudis and Gulfies are trying to change this image.

None tried harder than Prince Bandar Bin Sultan.

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Prince Bandar Bin Sultan was Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Washington from 1983 to 2005. He became the Saudi royal who best understood the Western mind and how the West regarded the Arab World, and especially Saudi Arabia. He had his own evil agenda he wanted to use to catapult himself into ascending to the throne as the first grandson of founding King Abdul-Aziz.

He was a close personal friend of the Bushes and many others in the previous and successive American administrations. And, if America ever had a Saudi Prince that American lawmakers could speak to and reciprocate understanding with, it was Bandar Bin Sultan.

He was banking on the fact that his father, Sultan, had been in line for the throne for decades and was Crown Prince ever since King Abdullah took the throne in 2005. But to Bandar’s disappointment, his father died in 2011, before King Abdullah who died in 2015.

As Bandar Bin Sultan was grooming himself to become king after his father, his knowledge of the Western mind and closeness to many key people in the United States led him to realize that he had to present himself as a competent and reliable partner in order to be respected.

Bandar wanted to demonstrate his personal character worth to his American allies by plotting the “War on Syria”. That war was his pet project and his license to achieve equality with his American friends. But Bandar fell on his sword when Syrian resistance proved to be much stronger than his ambitions, and not long after his failed desperate attempt to persuade America to attack Syria after he blamed the Syrian Army for a chemical attack that he staged in East Ghouta in September 2013, Bandar disappeared, vanishing into oblivion.

With the rapid and unprecedented changes in the line of Saudi throne succession that followed Prince Sultan’s death, and which eventually presented Mohamed Bin Salman (MBS) as the new Saudi strong-man Crown Prince, the young prince had big shoes to fill. Haunted by the image, ambition and failures of Bandar, MBS had a bigger “obligation” to prove his worth to his American “allies”.

The war on Yemen was MBS’s own “love-child”. He wanted to kill two birds with one stone; overcoming the Houthis, and proving to America that he is reliable in curbing Iran’s regional influence. He was hoping he could prove that his army was able to fight and win a war against Iran itself. He thus gave his war a name akin to American military operations; “Operation Decisive Storm”. Sounds a bit like “Operation Desert Storm”, does it not? In doing this, he wanted to put himself on par with great military leaders and score a quick and decisive victory in Yemen. Three years later, he cannot even hold his own borders.

In more ways than one, in as much as the Saudis and Gulfies have the afore-mentioned superiority complex, ironically they also possess a huge inferiority complex. They try to prove their own worth by bragging their “friendship” with America, and when President Trump made his first formal visit as President to Saudi Arabia, he was greeted like no other visiting foreign dignitary anywhere in the past. Only Elizabeth Taylor could claim such a reception as Hollywood’s version of Cleopatra.

Trump’s visit was Saudi Arabia’s greatest moment of “pride”.

But even on much smaller matters, Saudis and Gulfies brag their Western employees and they have a special liking for white blue-eyed Westerners. With thousands of Americans and Westerners working in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, it would be rare, if not impossible, to find a black American/Westerner; especially if the post involves being in the public view. And this is because, if you are a Saudi employer and you need a Westerner to fill the position of a public relations officer, you would want a white, blue-eyed person on that desk and not a black person. After all, a black Westerner could be mistaken for a Sudanese, a Somalese or a member of any other “inferior” African nation; as perceived in the eyes of the Saudis/Gulfies.

Back to the Khashoggi debacle and the role of Erdogan. As mentioned above, in his Tuesday the 23rd of October speech, Erdogan did not supply the goods, and it was time for America to pull the rug from underneath his feet, reclaim control of the narrative, and draw the Saudi yoyo back up again to give the Saudis a bit of a breather; until further notice. America can neither afford to keep the fate of the Khashoggi story in Erdogan’s hands any more than it can afford to lose the Saudi milking cow. But the human relationships between Americans and Saudis are now perhaps at their worst, and mostly for the Saudis. The Saudis have again failed the validity and fortitude test and they know they have taken a back step that needs many years, perhaps decades to recover from. In the eyes of the Americans, their credibility as partners and viability as capable men has suffered a big time blow.

The biggest twist perhaps in the Khashoggi debacle is that the Saudis have always felt that they were entitled to the same level of impunity the West affords to itself. After all, this was how Al-Saud got away with persecuting dissent, imposing undemocratic laws, and exporting Wahhabi ideology and the terror acts that come with it. Needless to mention the biggest human tragedy of them all; inflicting war crimes in Yemen, killing tens of thousands and inflicting starvation and disease upon millions others.

But when America lifted the blanket of impunity on the Saudis over the Khashoggi story leaving them out on their own to face the consequences of their crimes for a change, the Saudis indeed did not survive for more than two weeks.

Just imagine how would the world popular opinion could be manipulated if leading Western media outlets suddenly “decide” to start reporting the Yemeni tragedy and the role of Saudi Arabia in creating it, and specifically the role of MBS in creating this tragedy. Will MBS in this instance become the West’s new Saddam?

MBS has been named, his Foreign Minister desperately tried to isolate him from the Khashoggi story, but it is up to America and its “fake news” media to decide whether or not MBS is implicated, and the more they implicate him, the deeper America can dig into his pocket. And as this article was getting ready to be submitted for publishing, MBS himself broke his silence proclaiming that the murder of Khashoggi was a heinous crime and that those responsible will be punished.

Either way, when the Saudis return to the negotiating table with their American “partners”, MBS will not only be facing a bill for American protection of Saudi Arabia per se, but also a bill for protecting his own personal aspirations to become king as well as protecting his own head. He must prepare himself to expect a hefty price of his own head. What will that price be is yet to be seen.

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israel (apartheid state) lobby wants Saudis to get away with Khashoggi murder

Israel lobby wants Saudis to get away with Khashoggi murder

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, right, chats with Jordan’s King Abdullah at the Future Investment Initiative conference, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 23 October. The economic forum is the kingdom’s first major global event since the Saudi crown prince was implicated in the killing of writer Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.

Amr Nabil AP Photo

With ever more gruesome details emerging about the slaying and dismemberment of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, fingers of blame are pointing squarely at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

This is a huge problem for Israel and its lobby who see the Saudi de facto ruler – commonly referred to in English-language media by his initials MBS – as their key regional ally.

Until the 2 October killing in Istanbul, the Saudi autocrat had been feted by European royalty, American politicians and pundits, and Silicon Valley billionaires.

But following the Khashoggi killing, many are running for cover, especially one of the Saudi crown prince’s most egregious cheerleaders, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.

Friedman and company had been marketing MBS as a “reformer.”

Israel lobby stalwart and longtime US “peace process” steward Dennis Ross even dubbed the prince “a Saudi revolutionary.”

This was all in keeping with a tradition – which as Georgetown University in Qatar professor Abdullah Al-Arian documented goes back decades – of US elites greeting every new Saudi ruler as a “reformer.”

This ruse operates as cover and justification for a deep US alliance with a regime whose brutality and abuses have always gone unchecked.

But the ruse can only work if the Saudis keep their side of the bargain, by refraining from actions that fall outside the elite consensus of acceptable and marketable behavior.

Killing thousands of children in Yemen and starving millions more, beheading dozens of people each year and funding jihadist groups to sow chaos across the region can all be tolerated by the US and Europe, because such atrocities are seen as necessary to keep the Saudi regime in power, or essential to implement Western “foreign policy.”

Murdering and dismembering a Washington Post columnist inside a Saudi diplomatic mission, however, just goes too far and hits too close to home.

“Now, as Saudi Arabia struggles to rebut accusations that Crown Prince Mohammad was complicit in the grisly killing of a Saudi dissident, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the prince’s other allies across the region are starting to worry that damage to him could upend their own plans and priorities,” The New York Times acknowledged on Monday.

“Kid gloves”

But amid the howls of outrage, there are still quite a few voices cautioning against being too hard on MBS, because of his value to Israel.

As BuzzFeed noted on 18 October, Israel, Saudi Arabia’s “unofficial ally,” has remained “noticeably quiet” about Khashoggi’s killing.

The Israelis are “in a very difficult position,” Dan Shapiro, President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Israel, told the publication. “They count very much on Saudi Arabia,” which is “central to their strategic concept of the region.”

Indeed, Israel and Saudi Arabia are staunch allies, sharing an enmity towards Iran.

The Saudi crown prince’s pro-Israel leanings and attacks on the Palestinians last spring greatly boosted his stock with Israel and its lobby.

But a Saudi Arabia weakened as a result of the Khashoggi affair would “undermine Arab cover provided by the kingdom for [President Donald] Trump’s efforts to impose a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would favor Israel at the expense of the Palestinians,” James Dorsey, of Israel’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, warned in a commentary Tuesday.

Given what Israel hopes to gain from its relationship with Saudi Arabia, some are arguing that it should stand by the Saudi crown prince no matter what.

Haaretz commentator Tzvia Greenfield counseled that even if MBS ordered the murder of Khashoggi, “it’s necessary to treat the suspect with kid gloves.”

“For 50 years we’ve prayed for a key Arab leader who agrees to sign a significant pact with Israel. Such a leader has finally arrived,” Greenfield stated, adding that calls to remove MBS “are destructive.”

“Quiet diplomacy”

That view is shared by Israeli political and military elites, according to The Times of Israel, which noted that Israeli officials are likely engaged in “quiet diplomacy” in support of Saudi Arabia.

“Israel’s knowledge of the Middle East is highly respected in large parts of the world, including in Europe, and therefore Israeli warnings of the impact of moving away from Saudi Arabia are very important,” Dore Gold, former director-general of Israel’s foreign ministry, told The Times of Israel.

But Gold cautioned that such work should be done behind the scenes, according to the publication.

Martin Indyk, another long-time US “peace process” diplomat who launched his career from a think tank founded by the Israel lobby group AIPAC, has also gone into damage control mode on behalf of the Saudis.

Indyk told Bloomberg television that the Saudis should try to change the subject from Khashoggi.

Given that the US has made Saudi Arabia a “pillar” of its anti-Iran strategy, Indyk said, “we have to find a way to get the Saudi leadership, particularly Mohammad bin Salman, the crown prince, to take an active role, not only in terms of saying there will be a thorough, transparent investigation – we should aim for that, we’re not going to get it – but also in terms of switching the channel, in making the focus something positive.”

Indyk suggested that MBS could announce “getting out of Yemen,” or releasing some female political prisoners as a way to change the subject.

MBS needs to “do something to double down on his positive reform agenda to make it clear that there’s a reason to be supporting him,” Indyk urged.

In other words, Indyk is hoping that the old rules can quickly be restored: where Saudi leaders pretend to be “reformers,” and US elites pretend to believe them, and that this would rescue MBS.

Josh Block, the head of another lobby group, The Israel Project, took to Twitter to call Khashoggi “a radical Islamist terrorist ally who was close to Osama bin Laden, ISIS, Hamas and wanted to overthrow the Saudi ruling royals, who oppose both the Sunni terrorists, sponsored by Turkey and Qatar, as well as Iran’s Shia terrorist armies and allies.”

Without going as far as openly defending the killing of Khashoggi, Block nonetheless minimized it by claiming that the columnist was a “bad guy prob[ably] killed by bad guys.”

In other words, there’s nothing to see here.

Block also echoed Riyadh’s crude propaganda that the press reports detailing Khashoggi’s killing were part of a plot sponsored by powers hostile to Saudi Arabia, which he characterized as one of several “Western-oriented Arab regimes.”

Changing Saudi lobby

As’ad AbuKhalil, a professor at California State University, Stanislaus, took early note of the Israel lobby’s defense of Saudi Arabia and its crown prince.

AbuKhalil told The Electronic Intifada that the aggressive mobilization reflects the elevated status of the Saudi lobby as a result of its alliance with Israel.

“Until this decade, lobbying for Saudi Arabia has been an American affair largely relying on oil companies, arms manufacturers and former politicians,” AbuKhalil explained.

But in the last 10 years, groups including SAPRAC and the Arabia Foundation “came along at a time when there was more acceptance of lobbying with a Saudi face, and this is part of the crowning of the Saudi-Israeli alliance.”

“Arab lobbying in Washington, DC, cannot occur without the blessing of the Israel lobby, and this is true of the Qatari lobby, the Lebanese lobby, the Egyptian lobby and the Saudi lobby,” AbuKhalil said.

Can all this effort save MBS from the storm over Khashoggi?

“The Israel lobby is really nervous,” AbuKhalil said. “The Israel lobby wants to save that prince so badly, but there is so much outrage in US media and in Congress.”

AbuKhalil thinks much of the advocacy for MBS is being done behind the scenes. Nonetheless, he sees the Saudi crown prince as solidly entrenched internally, with little chance of being overthrown by a royal family whose influential members the crown prince has totally sidelined.

“The only way it’s going to happen is if the US decides to get rid of him,” AbuKhalil said. “The Israelis don’t want to abandon him either, and so his best bet is to get even closer to Israel.”

“That’s why I predict [MBS] may go to the Knesset next year,” AbuKhalil said, a reference to former Egyptian ruler Anwar Sadat’s dramatic 1977 trip to the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem that cemented Egypt in the US-Israeli camp.

 

Saudi Arabia—not Iran—is the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world today

The Real Largest State Sponsor of Terrorism

 by Adam Weinstein

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense of the Kingdom of Sau

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in the Oval Office at the White House, March 14, 2017.

Saudi Arabia—not Iran—is the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world today and Wahhabism remains the source of most radical Islamic extremism. For years Iran has borne the unenviable title of “world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism.” However, out of the 61 groups that are designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department, the overwhelming majority are Wahhabi-inspired and Saudi-funded groups, with a focus on the West and Iran as their primary enemy. Only two are Shi’a—Hezbollah and Kataib Hezbollah, and only four have ever claimed to receive support from Iran. Nearly all of the Sunni militant groups listed receive significant support from either the Saudi government or Saudi citizens.

The Great Compromise

Wahhabism is an ideology of compromise between the ambitions of the zealot and the needs of the ruler. Wahhabism can be thought of as a religio-political subcategory of the Salafi approach to Islam. Salafis get their name from the al-salaf al-salih or “pious companions” of Muhammad whose practices they claim to imitate. What distinguishes Wahhabism from Salafism is that the former is dependent on the House of Saud for its power whereas the latter is a phenomenon that exists globally.

The 18th century partnership of tribal leader Ibn Saud and cleric Abd al-Wahhab wedded two parallel sources of legitimacy in Arabia—religion and tribal kinship. The clerics known as ulema received their authority from God and then conferred it upon the Saud clan themselves. In exchange the ulema are protected from the risks that come with governance. Wahhabis must be distinguished from jihadi Salafis because Wahhabism is inextricably linked to the Saudi state and therefore not revolutionary in nature. The Royal family walks a tightrope between the liberalization necessary for economic development and strong political ties with the West, and the more conservative demands of the Wahhabi movement. One such demand is to turn a blind eye to the sponsorship and export of terrorism and jihad in South Asia, the Middle East, and even the West.

Exporting Jihad And Buying Friends

Some contend that Wahhabism and Saudi Arabia are being used as scapegoats when in fact the real causes of Islamist terrorism are far more complex. Mohammed Alyahya made just this argument in his New York Times article “Don’t Blame ‘Wahhabism’ for Terrorism.” The crux of the argument is that “most Islamist militants have nothing to do with Saudi Wahhabism.” For example, he asserts that the Taliban are Deobandis which is “a revivalist, anti-imperialist strain of Islam that emerged as a reaction to British colonialism in South Asia” and al Qaeda “follow a radical current that emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood.” While a nuanced understanding of the causes of terrorism is important, it must not lead policymakers to ignore an obvious source.

It is certainly true that not all Sunni extremist movements find their roots in Wahhabism. Al Qaeda was inspired by the anti-state Islamist literature of Muslim Brothers like Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb. But organizations and movements evolve. The al Qaeda we know today is very much a product of the more extreme elements of the Wahhabi movement that is tolerated and promoted by Riyadh. However, it is Pakistan rather than the Arab world, which is the true ground zero of Saudi Arabia’s export of extremism. An invasive strain of Saudi-sponsored Salafism, often referred to as the Ahl-e-Hadith movement, has spread throughout Pakistan, all the while the fundamentalist Deobandi movement is increasingly supported by Gulf donors. According to a U.S. government cable, “financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in the region from ‘missionary’ and ‘Islamic charitable’ organizations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.” This fusion of Salafism and Deobandism occurs at the expense of indigenous South Asian interpretations of Islam like the Sufi-oriented Barelvis.

The close relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan began as early as the administration of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. According to a recently available CIA report, in 1975, Bhutto “obtained assurances of generous aid from Saudi Arabia” during a state visit. In exchange for such support Pakistan “furnished military technicians and advisers to the armed forces of Saudi Arabia.” Other CIA documents reveal that during Zia ul-Haq’s military dictatorship, Pakistan viewed the Soviet presence in Afghanistan beginning in 1979 as an existential threat. So Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency was more than enthusiastic to train Pashtun mujahideen to fight the Soviets with Saudi and U.S. assistance.

Saudi officials naturally garnered greater respect from Pakistani officers than their American counterparts due to the revered status of the Kingdom as caretaker of the two holiest sites in Islam. The U.S. also underestimated the extent to which Pakistani officers would develop sympathies for the militants they spent years training. The ISI became an intermediary between Saudi Arabia and militant Islamic groups across South Asia. During the 1990s, the ISI shifted its focus towards Kashmir and the Punjab in an effort to counter perceived Indian aggression. But the deep connections fostered between the ISI and various militants resurfaced after 9/11 when their focus pivoted back to Afghanistan.

Meanwhile the ISI fought some militant groups while allowing others like the Haqqani Network to remain powerful. When Osama bin Laden was discovered in Pakistan, the U.S. ramped up drone strikes against safe havens, and the ISI retaliated by releasing the name of the CIA’s Islamabad bureau chief which resulted in numerous death threats. Since 9/11, Gulf dollars have continued to bolster extremist groups inside Pakistan even as Pakistani civilians die by the thousands from suicide operations linked to Saudi-sponsored madrasas.

In exchange for tolerating Gulf-sponsored terrorism Pakistani leaders get security. While in power they have an unofficial army of militants they can call upon to deal with anything from Baluchi separatists to keeping India on its toes. Once they leave power they have an escape hatch to protect them and their family. When Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was found guilty of corruption, kidnapping, and hijacking, in the summer of 2000, Saudi Arabia accepted him to live in exile. Benazir Bhutto’s notoriously corrupt widow and ex-president, Asif Zardari, went on a “self-imposed exile” to the U.A.E. throughout 2016. And the former president and general, Pervez Musharraf, is currently hiding out in Dubai to avoid prosecution for treason charges.

But the export of extremism from Saudi Arabia is not always by design. In his history of Pakistan, Ian Talbot argued that “the exposure of the lower-class Pakistanis to the Islamic heartland further encouraged a mindset favourable to Islamization, although Zia was to find that its impact on sectarianism was to prove unpredictable and potentially destabilizing.” Saudi Arabia fears the effects of its own radicalization and recently deported 40,000 Pakistani workers over concerns of terrorism. Today South Asia is rocked by sectarian violence from the mountainous peaks of Kabul to the tropical markets of Karachi and posh hotels of Mumbai. This February, suicide attacks killed hundreds across Pakistan. The province of Sindh begged the central government to shut down Gulf-funded seminaries. Islamabad declined.

Controlling The Message

The internet age rendered in-person missionary work by Saudi clerics less relevant. The radical messages of Saudi preachers and their protégés can be viewed on mobile phones across the world. Students filter into the seminaries in Mecca and Medina and return to teach at the hundreds of madrasas spread across the world. These representatives of the Kingdom do not always preach a militant message. Sometimes, and perhaps more dangerously, they preach an apologist one.

In 2008, popular Indian televangelist Zakir Naik called 9/11 an “inside job” done by the Bush administration to defame Islam. He also commented that “If he [Osama bin Laden] is terrorizing America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, I am with him.” Despite these comments Naik went on to win the King Faisal International Prize for his “service to Islam.” The conspiracy theories he peddles are crucial to Saudi Arabia’s standing among the Muslim masses that are not necessarily prone to violence. However, conspiracy theories that brush aside the problem of extremism within the Kingdom are nothing new. Rumors about U.S. involvement in the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca led to an attack on the U.S. embassy in Islamabad in 1979 resulting in the death of two U.S. citizens.

Meanwhile Saudi Arabia spends millions on public relations firms in Washington D.C. every year in order to ensure it is not viewed as a state sponsor—or even enabler—of terrorism. The Kingdom attempts to contain the effects of its own hate preachers by campaigning to distance itself from the most egregious acts of terrorism in the Muslim world while still embracing a Salafi message. All the while in D.C. the Kingdom scrambles to disassociate itself not only from terrorism but from extremism altogether.

A Complicated Relationship

Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull once asked President Obama “aren’t the Saudis your friends?” Obama famously replied “it’s complicated.” It is complicated. How can Saudi Arabia possibly serve as an effective partner against terror when its internal security is dependent on the continued export of terrorism? The answer is that for both Saudi Arabia and the U.S. the other has always been the perceived lesser of two evils.

In the early 1930s when U.S. companies first began to explore the Saudi oil market they were favored by the Royal family over the British who were viewed as imperialists disguised as businessmen. This enemy-of-my-enemy partnership grew closer during the Cold War and the goal to contain the Soviets was described as the “complementary foreign policy” of the U.S. and Saudi Arabia in a 1983 CIA memorandum. The fact that Saudi Arabia promoted a resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism in order to counter the Soviet Union did not alarm the U.S. intelligence community. Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution in Iran cemented Saudi Arabia’s position as the lesser of two perceived evils.

When the Gulf War incited harsh criticism of the Royal family for hosting non-Muslim soldiers they responded by coopting the majority of Wahhabi scholars into official government positions. Those who were too extreme for government work were encouraged to go abroad. The “28 pages”  report detailing connections between the Saudi government and 9/11 hijackers proved once and for all that it wasn’t only private Saudi citizens who provide financing and manpower to radical terrorist organizations but the government itself. But Saudi Arabia claims it too is in a fight against radical extremism. Yet the majority of terrorist attacks in the Kingdom remain directed at the Shi‘a minority in the Eastern Province and Western targets. In fact, the U.S. State Department website explicitly warns citizens in Saudi Arabia to avoid “places where members of the Shia-Muslim minority gather.”

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad recently wrote in Politico that the Saudis claim to have adopted a  new “policy of honesty” and admitted to him that in the past they had funded extremists. However, partial confessions and lukewarm commitments to fight terrorism are a pillar of Saudi diplomacy. After 9/11, the Saudi government made some effort to share intelligence and set up rehabilitation facilities for low-risk terrorists. But this was largely a show of good will that produced few long-term gains in the war on terrorism. The infamous “Podesta emails” confirm that the U.S. intelligence community believes Saudi Arabia and Qatar are now  “providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL.” The export of fanaticism and terrorism is a necessary release valve so that the fragile equilibrium of Saudi society does not implode.

One Terrorism Policy

When the late Taliban commander, Mullah Mansoor, was killed in May of last year, it was his recent trip to Iran that became the focal point of discussion. For years, however, Washington all but ignored that the vast majority of the ammonium nitrate used to construct IEDs that delimb American soldiers in Afghanistan comes from Pakistan. In 2007, at the height of the war in Iraq, the U.S. military estimated that 45% of all foreign terrorists targeting U.S. troops were Saudi. Now the debate in Washington is whether to designate Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as terrorist organizations. The Muslim Brotherhood has rarely engaged in terrorism and the IRGC’s main focus appears to be Iranian dissidents abroad and fighting ISIS in Syria. Meanwhile the metastasization of Gulf-sponsored terrorist networks continues unabated. Counterterrorism policy has been reduced to a popularity contest rather than an assessment of real threats.

The U.S. must stop treating implicit and explicit state sponsors of terrorism differently. Saudi Arabia’s compartmentalized efforts at containing rather than eradicating extremism should not be lauded as a genuine partnership. States that clandestinely sponsor terrorism, albeit sloppily, must be held to the same standards as those that openly provide support. Counterterrorism strategists must adopt a long-horizon approach and recognize that state sponsors of terrorist groups are responsible for the consequences even when those organizations inevitably go rogue and turn on their benefactor. And just as Pakistan paid a heavy price for tolerating Saudi support for Wahhabi terror, the U.S. and the West are starting to feel the brunt of their own negligence of Riyadh and Doha’s love affair with terrorists.

Indeed, the very phrase “biggest state sponsor of terrorism” is best removed from diplomatic vocabulary altogether because so long as it shines the spotlight on only one country, others will hide in its shadow.

Adam Weinstein is a veteran of the Marine Corps, where he served in Afghanistan, and a policy research intern at the National Iranian American Council. He tweets at @AdamNoahWho.

No scruples whatsoever, UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia dictatorship rose nearly 70%:

UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia rose nearly 70%:

UK increased weapons sales to Saudi Arabia by two thirds: Report

A British Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft perform a fly-past during the Farnborough Airshow, south west of London, on July 17, 2018. (Photo by AFP)A British Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft perform a fly-past during the Farnborough Airshow, south west of London, on July 17, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia had increased in 2017 by two thirds, according to British media reports.

From 2016 to 2017, UK military sales to the Saudis went up by two thirds, Sky News reported on Thursday.

The UK sold at least £450 million more to Saudi Arabia in 2017 than 2016, with the true figure likely to be higher, Sky News said.

Earlier reports said the UK had almost doubled its arms sales from £820 million in 2016 to £1.5 billion in arms licenses in 2017.

Sky News reported that the UK issued 126 licenses relating to military goods in 2017, with a value of £1.129 billion – according to Department of International Trade figures.

This is compared to 103 licenses relating to military goods in 2016, with a value of £679 million, it said.

Reports of UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia come out as business figures pull out of an upcoming investment conference scheduled to be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on October 23.

The so-called Future Investment Initiative Summit, which has been dubbed Davos in the Desert, has been cancels by governments, executives and chiefs of international companies after the scandalous incident involving the disappearance of Saudi-national  Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, who was a dissident journalist, entered the Saudi embassy in Istanbul and never came out, according to Turkish police.

The incident sparked huge global outcry, resulting in widespread international criticism of the rulers of Saudi Arabia, particularly MBS.

UK trade secretary Liam Fox was among the main international figures who cancelled the Saudi summit over the humiliating Khashoggi incident.

Saudis humiliation in Yemen

Saudi Arabia has also been facing humiliating criticism over its brutal aggression in Yemen. Thousands of innocent civilians, including women and children, have died as a result of the brutal Saudi-led campaign in Yemen.

Campaigners have called on major arms suppliers to Saudi Arabia, the British government included, to stop selling weapons to the kingdom.

“The humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen is the worst in the world. UK-made fighter jets and bombs have played a central role in the destruction,” said Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade, an organization which works to abolish the international arms trade.

Human rights advocates say the UK is complicit to Saudi Arabia’s atrocities against the impoverished Yemeni nation.

“The humanitarian disaster that has been inflicted on Yemen is a man-made one, and the UK government is complicit. It’s time for the UK government to end the arms sales and end its uncritical support for the Saudi dictatorship.”

#Khashoggi -VT Sources: Trump, Pompeo Have Had Murder Audio for 4 Days and Lied and Lied and Lied

VT Sources: Trump, Pompeo Have Had Murder Audio for 4 Days and Lied…

US Intelligence Contractors (NSA) monitoring the comm spectrum in Istanbul listened to the murder in “realtime”

Editor’s note:  VT has known about these recordings all along as has President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo.  While defending Saudi Arabia and, in Trump’s case, lying about how much business the US does with the Saudi’s, which isn’t all that much, Trump had long ago listened to Khashoggi being tortured and hacked to pieces.

He listened to the tape over and over and lied about it anyway, lied about everything, all the while, Saudi Arabia has gone to Iran and asked them to join against the US if Trump even opens his mouth.

The issue, of course, is that Saudi Arabia does business with Trump, he has licenses to run covert high level whore houses and gambling dens inside Saudi Arabia, an attempt on their part to prevent the huge river of cash normally flowing to the UAE where Saudi’s go to drink and party, filling the 5 star hotels.

The enlightened new prince, with Trump and Kushner’s help, was going to keep the drugs and whores close to home, saving Saudi Arabia billions.

You see, Saudi Arabia spends far more on whores than it does planes and tanks, but that’s another story, one Khashoggi was going to tell.

From the Guardian:

  • Audio reportedly proves Khashoggi was tortured then killed
  • Trump points to Saudi role as important strategic partners
Donald Trump says the US has asked Turkey for an audio recording of Jamal Khashoggi’s death which reportedly proves he was brutally tortured before his premeditated murder inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish officials said the audio recording had been handed over to the US and Saudi Arabia. But on Wednesday, Trump told reporters: “We’ve asked for it … if it exists” – before adding that it “probably does” exist.

Trump had previously suggested he believes the denials of responsibility from the Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and warned against a rush to judgement.

On Wednesday, Trump denied he was covering up for the Saudi royals but at the same time pointed to their importance as strategic and commercial partners.

“I’m not giving cover at all. And with that being said, Saudi Arabia has been a very important ally of ours in the Middle East. We are stopping Iran,” he told reporters.

But Trump’s defence of the Saudi royals has become increasingly difficult as Turkish government leaks and press reports have revealed more details about the grisly nature of Khashoggi’s fate and the involvement of Saudi operatives close to the Saudi crown prince.

read more at UK Guardian

Trump’s Alliance with Body-Choppers, Death Squads and Child Killers: Saudi Arabia, Brazil and israel (apartheid state)

James Petras
Axis of Logic
Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018
Introduction
In recent weeks the White House has embraced the contemporary version of the world’s most murderous regimes. President Trump has embraced the Saudi Arabian “Prince of Death” Mohammad bin Salman who has graduated from chopping hands and heads in public plazas to dismembering bodies in overseas consulates – the case of Jamal Khashoggi.The White House warmly greeted the electoral success of Brazilian Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, ardent champion of torturers, military dictators, death squads and free marketers.President Trump grovels, grunts and glories before Israel, as his spiritual guide Benjamin Netanyahu celebrates the Sabbath with the weekly murders and maiming of hundreds of unarmed Palestinians, especially youngsters.

These are President Trump’s ‘natural allies’. They share his values and interests while each retains their particular method of disposing of the cadavers of adversaries and dissenters.

We will proceed to discuss the larger political-economic context in which the trio of monsters operate. We will analyze the benefits and advantages which lead President Trump to ignore and even praise, actions which violate America’s democratic values and sensibilities.

In conclusion, we will examine the consequences and risks which result from Trump’s embrace of the trio.

The Context for Trump’s Tripler Alliance
President Trump’s intimate ties with the world’s most unsavory regimes flows from several strategic interests. In the case of Saudi Arabia, it includes military bases; the financing of international mercenaries and terrorists; multi-billion-dollar arms sales; oil profits; and covert alliances with Israel against Iran, Syria and Yemen.

In order to secure these Saudi assets, the White House is more than willing to assume certain socio-political costs.

The US eagerly sells weapons and provides advisers to Saudi’s genocidal invasion, murder and starvation of millions of Yeminis. The White House alliance against Yemen has few monetary rewards or political advantages as well as negative propaganda value.

However, with few other client states in the region, Washington makes do with Prince Salman ‘the salami slicer’.

The US ignores Saudi financing of Islamic terrorists against US allies in Asia (the Philippines) and Afghanistan as well as rival thugs in Syria and Libya.

Alas when a pro-US collaborator like Washington Post journalist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated, President Trump was forced to adopt the pretense of an investigation in order to distance from the Riyadh mafia. He subsequently exonerated butcher boy bin Salman: he invented a flagrant lie-blaming ‘rogue elements’ in charge of the interrogation — read torture.

President Trump celebrated the electoral victory of Brazilian neo-liberal fascist Jair Bolsonaro because he checks all the right boxes: he promises to slash economic regulations and corporate taxes for multi-national corporations. He is an ardent ally of Washington’s economic war against Venezuela and Cuba. He promises to arm right-wing death squads and militarize the police. He pledges to be a loyal follower of US war policies abroad.

However, Bolsonaro cannot support Trump’s trade war especially against China which is the market for almost forty percent of Brazil’s agro-exports. This is especially the case since agro-business bosses are Bolsonaro’s principal economic and congressional supporters.

Given Washington’s limited influence in the rest of Latin America, Brazil’s neo-liberal fascist regime acts as Trump’s principal ally.

Israel is the White House’s mentor and chief of operations in the Middle East, as well as a strategic military ally .

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has seized and colonized most of the West Bank and militarily occupied the rest of Palestine; jailed and tortured tens of thousands of political dissidents; surrounded and starved over a million Gaza residents; imposed ethno-religious conditions for citizenship in Israel, denying basic rights for over 20% of the Arab residents of the self-styled ‘Jewish state’.

Netanyahu has bombed hundreds of Syrian cities, towns, airports and bases in support of ISIS terrorists and Western mercenaries. Israel intervenes in US elections, buys Congressional votes and secures White House recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.

Zionists in North America and Great Britain act as a ‘fifth column’ securing unanimous favorable mass media coverage of its apartheid policies.

Prime Minister Netanyahu secures unconditional US financial and political support and the most advanced weaponry.

In exchange Washington considers itself  privileged to serve as foot solders for Israeli targeted wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia . . . Israel collaborates with the US in defending Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. Netanyahu and his Zionist allies in the White House succeeded in reversing the nuclear agreement with Iran and imposing new and harsher economic sanctions.

Israel has its own agenda: it defies President Trump’s sanctions policies against Russia and its trade war with China.

Israel eagerly engages in the sales of arms and high-tech innovations to Beijing.

Beyond the Criminal Trio
The Trump regime’s alliance with Saudi Arabia, Israel and Brazil is not despite but because of their criminal behavior. The three states have a demonstrated record of full compliance and active engagement in every ongoing US war.

Bolsonaro, Netanyahu and bin Salman serve as role models for other national leaders allied with Washington’s quest for world domination.

The problem is that the trio is insufficient in bolstering Washington’s drive to “Make the Empire Strong”. As pointed earlier, the trio are not completely in compliance with Trump’s trade wars; Saudi works with Russia in fixing oil prices. Israel and Brazil cuts deals with Beijing.

Clearly Washington pursues other allies and clients.

In Asia, the White House targets China by promoting ethnic separatism. It encourages Uighurs to split from China by encouraging Islamic terrorism and linguistic propaganda. President Trump backs Taiwan via military sales and diplomatic agreements. Washington intervenes in Hong Kong by promoting pro-separatist politicians and media propaganda backing ‘independence’.

Washington has launched a strategy of military encirclement and a trade  war against China. The White House rounded-up Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and South Korea to provide military bases which target China. Nevertheless, up to the present the US has no allies in its trade war. All of Trump’s so-called Asian ‘allies’ defy his economic sanctions policies.

The countries depend on and pursue trade with and investments from China. While all pay diplomatic lip service and provide military bases, all defer on the crucial issues of joining US military exercises off China’s coast and boycotting Beijing.

US efforts to sanction Russia into submission is offset by ongoing oil and gas agreements between Russia, Germany and other EU countries. US traditional bootlickers like Britain and Poland carry little political weight.

More important US sanctions policy has led to a long-term, large-scale strategic economic and military alliance between Moscow and Beijing.

Moreover Trump’s alliance with the ‘torture trio’ has provoked domestic divisions. Saudi Arabia’s murder of a US resident-journalist has provoked business boycotts and Congressional calls for reprisal. Brazil’s fascism has evoked liberal criticism of Trump’s eulogy of Brasilia’s death squad democracy.

President Trump’s domestic electoral opposition has successfully mobilized the mass media, which could facilitate a congressional majority and an effective mass opposition to his pluto-populist (populist in rhetoric, plutocrat in practice) version of empire building.

Conclusion
The US empire building project is built on bluster, bombs and trade wars. Moreover, its closest and most criminal allies and clients cannot always be relied upon. Even the stock market fiesta is coming to a close. Moreover, the time of successful sanctions is passing. The wild-eyed UN rants are evoking laughter and embarrassment.

The economy is heading into crises and not only became of rising interest rates. Tax cuts are one shot deals – profits are taken and pocketed.

President Trump in retreat will discover that there are no permanent allies only permanent interests.

Today the White House stands alone without allies who will share and defend his unipolar empire. The mass of humanity requires a break with the policies of wars and sanctions. To rebuild America will require the construction, from the ground-up, of a powerful popular movement not beholden to Wall Street or war industries. A first step is to break with both parties at home and the triple alliance abroad.

Trump Spins Cover-up For Saudi Killing

By Finian Cunningham

Senior congressional lawmakers are calling for a radical overhaul in US relations with Saudi Arabia. But Trump’s indulgence to let Saudi rulers off the hook shows the strategic alliance is too important for US’ power interests.

Some 22 US senators have invoked the Global Magnitsky Act which could trigger economic sanctions against Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Current and former senators are saying the alleged murder in a Saudi consulate in Turkey on October 2 is a “turning point” for Washington’s decades-old alliance with Riyadh.

Former Republican Senator Bob Graham told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour the Saudi relationship is “perfidious” and harmful to America. He referred in particular to what he called was Saudi state complicity in the 9/11 terror incidents in 2001, when nearly 3,000 US citizens were killed.

Graham said the US must use Magnitsky laws to punish Saudi Arabia over the disappearance and murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and to not “capitulate to economic blackmail.” The latter point was an implicit reference to President Trump saying earlier he was reluctant to cancel weapons sales to Saudi Arabia worth $110 billion.

The original Magnitsky Act, signed into law in 2012, was designed to punish Russia with sanctions over alleged human rights abuses. In 2016, it was expanded to place the rest of the world under US authority as well. Its targeting of Russia has been disputed as a controversial political weapon, not reflecting actual human rights abuses. Nevertheless, the law has international application against any foreign government or individual deemed by the US congress as a violator of human rights.

In the case of Saudi Arabia and the missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi that would seem to be a clear incident meriting Magnitsky-type sanctions.

But whether US legislators actually follow through with threats to punish Saudi Arabia and its rulers is a moot question. The pressure is certainly on Washington to do so. If Russia has been targeted with several rounds of sanctions under the Magnitsky Act, over questionable allegations of corruption, then surely the Saudis should be in the firing line for official US censure.

The apparent murder of 59-year-old Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate is such a shocking crime. All the more pressing is that he was a legal resident of the United States – having gone into self-imposed exile from his native Saudi Arabia last year – and he was a prominent columnist for the Washington Post.

Khashoggi was well-connected in Washington with various establishment think-tanks and other media circles. His critical writing on the Saudi rulers and in particular dubious reforms being carried out by heir to the throne Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had a receptive audience among lawmakers and policy makers who have been growing skeptical of Riyadh’s value to the US.

Turkish criminal investigators gained access to the Saudi consulate this week – 13 days after Khashoggi went missing. Media reports say the Turks have found forensic evidence to prove the journalist was killed in the building, consistent with what Turkish government sources had been leaking over the past two weeks.

The dramatic capitulation by the Saudi rulers is a sign that the game is up for their stonewalling tactics. Against all the evidence, the Saudis had been maintaining that Khashoggi left the consulate building unharmed the same day that he arrived on October 2. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman even stated this version in a high-profile interview with Bloomberg on October 5.

This week it was reported that the Saudis were preparing to admit that Khashoggi was murdered by an unauthorized team of Saudi interrogators who flew to Istanbul to intercept him. It is claimed that the interrogation “went wrong” and resulted in his death.

It’s such a preposterous switch in the official narrative. After all the dissembling and lies up to now, Riyadh has no credibility. Also, why did the 15-man Saudi team reportedly arrive in Istanbul on two private jets connected to the Saudi monarchy, reportedly equipped with bone saws and forensic expertise, evidently for the purpose of disposing of Khashoggi’s body?

Turkish investigators say they will release a full report at the end of this week. Already they are disclosing that evidence they gathered this week confirms audio and videotapes that Khashoggi was murdered.

The Washington Post has reported US intelligence intercepts which show the Saudi leadership were involved in a plot to apprehend Khashoggi. In other words, the whole barbaric affair goes right to the top of the House of Saud.

Shamefully, however, what is emerging is a cover-up in spite of the graphic evidence. That cover-up began hours before the Turkish investigators arrived at the consulate on Monday evening, when Trump told US media he had spoken with Saudi King Salman. Trump said he believed the king’s denials of knowing anything about a premeditated crime. He also gave credence to the idea it could have been “rogue killers” who were responsible.

Saudi media are now reporting that the 15-man team that flew from Riyadh to Istanbul will be questioned over the death. What this means is the hit squad are being made scapegoats and the Saudi rulers will be whitewashed of culpability.

The cover-up may not be easy, however. There is a lot more evidence to come out from Turkish and American intelligence on communications leading up to the abduction and murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Because of his media and policy establishment connections in the US, it can be expected that the whole affair will not be easily brushed aside. Also, US political and media opponents of Trump will use the matter as another means of attacking his presidency – albeit in this case, arguably, rightly so.

Still, it is doubtful this is a “turning point” in the US-Saudi alliance. Khashoggi has indeed strong advocates in Washington, and there is a growing movement among lawmakers disdainful of Saudi conduct with regard to the horrific war in Yemen.

But as the cover-up attempt by Trump shows there is a deep and inviolable strategic bond between the US and the oil-rich kingdom, going all the way back to when former president Franklin D Roosevelt formed his historic pact with the Saudi state founder King Abdul Aziz Al Saud in 1945.

The alliance goes way beyond merely supplying oil to the US, which has in fact declined in importance. It involves vital interests of maintaining the dollar as the global exchange currency for oil trade, massive annual purchases of American weapons, the Saudis funding CIA clandestine operations around the world, and the projection of US imperialist power across the geo-strategically critical Middle East.

Of course, the US should move to sanction Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi killing – and much else besides – if its rhetoric about human rights had any substance. But as Trump’s unseemly spinning of Saudi cover-up indicates, the US-Saudi relationship is unlikely to change. It is inviolable for American power interests, and Saudi despotism is too important to fail, no matter what crimes are committed.

Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent.

This article was originally published by RT” –

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