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” –

Trump Rejects Halting Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia as ’Punishing Ourselves’

Saudi Arabia, UAE Fail to Halt UN Yemen Human Rights Inquiry

Saudi Arabia, UAE Fail to Halt UN Yemen Human Rights Inquiry
Jason Ditz

In a 21-8 vote, the UN Human Rights Council has agreed to extend the inquiry into human rights violations committed during the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia and its allies in the United Arab Emirates both condemned the news.

Such votes happen every year around the UN General Assembly meeting, with the Saudis trying to limit such votes and insisting that any investigations are only going to “deepen divisions” in Yemen.

The council spent several days debating the matter, with those in favor of more investigations, led by the Netherlands and Canada, winning out handily, while many other nations chose to abstain.

British officials say that they were comfortable letting the investigation continue, but that subsequent reports need to focus on condemning the Shi’ite Houthi movement instead of criticizing the Saudis for their massive civilian death toll from airstrikes.

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