Khashoggi’s «Murder Kit» X-Ray PHOTOS Revealed by Turkish Media

Local Editor

Electroshock devices, scalpels and scissors were among the belongings of the Saudi “hitmen,” who left Turkey shortly after the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, Sabah newspaper reported, showing X-ray pictures of their luggage.

The 15-member Saudi team, suspected of Khashoggi’s murder, carried the most peculiar items in their luggage, the X-ray photos published on Monday show. Such findings suggest that the murder was actually well pre-planned and not an “accident” of sorts, despite such claims from Riyadh.

The bags belonging to the team contained surgical scissors, scalpel-like cutting instruments, several syringes and electroshock devices, which the newspaper describes as “crypto-weapons.” Apart from that, one of the bags contained three large stapler guns, which were likely needed to seal plastic bags containing the remains of the journalist.

The luggage also included various electronic devices, required to maintain contact between the members of the team. The X-ray pictures revealed ten mobile phones, three portable radios with walkie-talkies and a signal jammer.

Publication of the images came shortly after chief investigative journalist of the Sabah newspaper, Nazif Karaman, revealed that Khashoggi spent his last moments begging for a plastic bag to be removed from his head. “I’m suffocating…Take this bag off my head, I’m claustrophobic,” the slain journalist said, according to Karaman, who cited audio recordings of the murder.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the audio as “really appalling,” to such an extent that a Saudi intelligence officer who listened to it suggested that the perpetrator must have been doing hard drugs to commit such a heinous crime.

“The recordings are really appalling. Indeed when the Saudi intelligence officer listened to the recordings, he was so shocked he said: ‘This one must have taken heroin, only someone who takes heroin would do this,'” the Turkish leader said on Tuesday.

Turkey claimed to have audio recordings of the murder since the beginning of October, when Khashoggi disappeared in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Ankara had shared the recording with Saudi Arabia, the US, the UK, France and Germany, according to Erdogan.

While Saudi Arabia, initially in denial of slaying the journalist, acknowledged he did indeed die during an intelligence operation gone wrong, the whereabouts of his body are still unknown. The media, however, continues to speculate on the most gruesome details of Khashoggi’s murder.

Over the weekend, Turkish newspaper the Daily Sabah reported that forensics found traces of acid in the drains of the Saudi consulate. The report reinforces earlier theories that the remains of the journalist might have been dissolved in a potent acid and flushed down the drain.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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Why Is Benjamin Netanyahu Defending Mohammed bin Salman?

By Richard Silverstein
Source

For the past month, while governments and media outlet around the world sounded a drumbeat of shock and dismay over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, all that could be heard on the subject from Israel was the sound of crickets. Israeli columnist Ben Caspit said his country’s leadership was avoiding the subject “like the plague”.

It appears no Israeli politician wants to say anything for fear of offending that country’s latest Arab bromantic partner, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Bin Salman, according to many analysts, would have had to have ordered the murder of a figure as prominent as Khashoggi.

Then on Friday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally gave his view on the Khashoggi case, saying it had to be “dealt with” but not at the cost of the stability of Saudi Arabia and the fight against Iran.

MBS: the linchpin of Trump deal

MBS, as he’s known, is the key Arab linchpin of the Trump-Netanyahu deal of the century, which is supposed to finally resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. The details of the delayed proposal, which Trump and his Middle East appointees continue to promote, has been widely reported in various media outlets. Leaked parts of the deal, many analysts say, suggest it is highly favourable to Israeli interests and largely disregards Palestinian rights.

Despite the one-sided nature of the plan, MBS has dutifully attempted to sell it to the Palestinian leadership. In a command performance, in which the Saudi crown prince summoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to his royal palace, MBS told a reluctant Abbas that if he didn’t acquiesce, he should resign. The implication was that the Saudis would find another Palestinian leader who would agree to such a deal.

So far, Abbas has resisted this Saudi offer and not lost his head – or his job. Later, King Salman even reasserted the Saudi commitment to a deal which offered Palestinians a state within 1967 borders, which the new Trump plan eschewed.

A peace agreement that is favourable to the Israelis is something that comes along once in a lifetime. So, Netanyahu realises that stepping into the Khashoggi imbroglio is the last thing he wants to do. If there is even a slight chance the Saudi prince can come through, he doesn’t want to upset this apple cart.

Caspit’s Israeli government sources lay out further argument for laying low on this subject.

Gulf gravy train

There are also huge economic interests at stake. As a result of the warming of relations among Israel and the various Gulf states, Israeli military and surveillance firms have signed contracts worth billions. Planes filled with consultants, trainers, weapons and sophisticated surveillance gear make weekly trips between Tel Aviv and Gulf capitals.

Tens of Israelis are posted to these Gulf outposts to install and train their local clients in their use. The salaries they earn are highly lucrative compared to what they might earn in similar jobs at home. For the Israeli military-intelligence industry, this is a goose laying hundreds of golden eggs on a regular basis.

However, perhaps the most crucial mutual interest shared by Netanyahu and MBS is their hatred of Iran.

Palestinians prepare to set fire on an Israeli flag and portraits of Donald Trump and Mohammed bin Salman during a protest at the border fence with Israel, Gaza city, on 13 April 2018 (AF

Behind the scenes, Israel continues to side with Saudi Arabia. Iranian threat top our agenda, whereas Saudi Arabia’s internal affairs are less important and less interesting [to Israel] right now.” This view was echoed by Netanyahu on Friday, who explicitly stated that Khashoggi’s murder was less important than “blocking Iran”.

The rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia that has gathered speed over the past few years is fuelled by the reginal rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia; and Israel’s hostility to the perceived Iranian encroachment on its territorial spheres of interest in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza.

The Erdogan factor

Israel’s proclivity to excuse the mayhem committed at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul is also fuelled by an intense, long-standing enmity toward Turkey’s Erdogan, which dates back to Israel’s slaughter of 10 Turkish citizens on the Mavi Marmara in 2010.

It took years for Israel to negotiate a resolution to this conflict in which it apologised for the deaths and paid families of the victims $20m. Though diplomatic relations were restored, the relationship has never been as close as it had been previously.

Netanyahu also wants to benefit from the rivalry between Turkey, which is ruled by the Islamist AKP Party, and the Saudis. Turkey supported the Muslim Brotherhood after the movement won democratic elections in Egypt. The Saudis despise the Brotherhood as a threat to their form of dynastic rule.

Erdogan is playing this scandal like a violin. He is doing so both to repair the international standing he lost when he crushed a coup and imposed draconian counter-measures which saw tens of thousands of Turks imprisoned and fired from their jobs. He is also drawing out the scandal in order to bring the Saudis down a peg in the regional power hierarchy.

Thus, Israel’s leader wants to do nothing to burnish Erdogan’s reputation in the midst of this contest between the two Sunni states.

An orchestrated campaign

There is also an underlying, unspoken realisation on the part of the Israelis that their Mossad runs its own assassination squads throughout the Middle East and beyond. It has killed not only Arab enemies and foreigners helping them, but it has also killed its own citizens.

Israel cannot afford to denounce any nation for killing its enemies for fear the world will only be reminded that it does the same. Not to mention, that some of these killing operations failed as spectacularly as the one that brought about Khashoggi’s murder.

Finally, though Israel refuses publicly to condemn the murder of the Saudi journalist, privately it’s engaged in an apologia for the Saudis’ murderous behaviour.

Other Middle East leaders have come to the crown prince’s defence. In recent days, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Netanyahu have reached out to the Trump administration to express support for the crown prince, arguing that he is an important strategic partner in the region, said people familiar with the calls.

It appears highly likely that Netanyahu is defending MBS as part of an orchestrated campaign on the Saudi’s behalf. Such a move makes Israel a defender of an act of state-sponsored terror. But this shouldn’t be very surprising considering that Israel is one of the world’s foremost practitioners of the art.

قضية الخاشقجي تؤثر على ترامب وتطرح تساؤلاً حول موقف روسيا

 

نوفمبر 5, 2018

د. هدى رزق

عاملان اثنان يمكنهما التأثير في الانتخابات النصفية الأميركية… العامل الاقتصادي وهو على تحسُّن مستمرّ والتوترات الاجتماعية والسياسية التي تفرّق الأميركيين، وعليه سيقرّرون انْ كانوا يريدون إعطاء الرئيس دونالد ترامب مزيداً من الحرية في اتخاذ القرارات او تقييده.

لكن من غير المرجح أن تحدد سياسته في الشرق الأوسط نتائج هذه الانتخابات. لكن يمكن تقييم سياسته وتقييم المسارات التي عليه اتخاذها، إذ يرى بعض المحللين الغربيين انه حقق نجاحاً جزئياً في سورية بالنسبة الى قتال داعش وانسحب من الاتفاق النووي وفرض عقوبات صارمة من جانب واحد، من أجل توليد المزيد من الضغوط على النظام والاقتصاد الإيراني مع استعادة العقوبات النفطية كاملة.

لا شك في أنّ ترامب يتمتع بشعبية واسعة في «إسرائيل»، وهي نتاج دعمه وعلاقته الحميمة مع رئيس الوزراء بنيامين نتنياهو، وبسبب الانسحاب من الاتفاق النووي مع إيران، ونقله للسفارة الأميركية إلى القدس. كما انّ علاقاته المميّزة مع المملكة العربية السعودية والإمارات العربية المتحدة ومصر والأردن، دفعت الى حملة التطبيع بين «إسرائيل» وبعض الدول العربية. لكن يمكن القول إنّ قدرة ترامب على تحقيق أهدافه ستختبر في عام 2019. فهل من تغييرات ستطال منطقة الشرق الاوسط في الفترة المقبلة؟

جاء مقتل الصحافي السعودي جمال الخاشقجي، في أعقاب العثرات السعودية مع قطر ولبنان وكندا، والحرب المدمّرة في اليمن، ما يثير تساؤلات حول الثقة بفعالية ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان، الذي من المفترض أن يشكل الحاضنة الاستراتيجية للائتلاف الإقليمي المناهض لإيران الذي تقوده الولايات المتحدة. فسياسة ترامب تجاه المملكة ستكون واحدة من المناقشات الأساسية في الكابيتول في السادس من تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر.

أعطى كلّ من ترامب ووزير خارجيته مايك بومبيو إشارات قوية بأنهما سيعملان مع الكونغرس لتطبيق عقوبات جلوبال ماجنيتسكي على المسؤولين السعوديين المتورّطين في قتل الخاشقجي. عند هذه النقطة، سيكون السؤال الرئيسي هو ما إذا كانت الولايات المتحدة ترى محمد بن سلمان متورّطاً رسمياً.

من المحتمل جداً أن تدعو لجان المخابرات في مجلس الشيوخ رئيسة الاستخبارات في الـ «سي أي آي» هاسبيل إلى جلسات مغلقة للإدلاء بشهادتها حول الأدلة التي شاركتها في تركيا حول مقتل الخاشقجي. إذا حدث ذلك، فيمكننا أن نكون على يقين من أنه سيتمّ تسريب تفاصيل ثمينة عن شهادتها.

قد يكون ظهور هاسبيل أمام اللجان في الكونغرس الأميركي استراتيجية خروج، يتمّ تشكيلها بصمت بين أنقرة والرياض وواشنطن.

طلب بعض السيناتورات من ترامب يوم الأربعاء وقف المحادثات لتزويد السعودية بالتكنولوجيا النووية الأميركية بعد مقتل الخاشقجي. الرفض الشامل للموافقة على أيّ اتفاقية نووية مدنية مع الرياض – مهما كانت قوية – هو تصعيد ملحوظ في خطاب الكونغرس إذا اتفقت واشنطن والرياض، فإنّ لدى الكونغرس الفرصة لنقضه. أمر الكونغرس إدارة ترامب بإطلاق تحقيق فيدرالي حول وفاة الخاشقجي، الأمر الذي قد يؤدّي إلى فرض عقوبات على كبار المسؤولين السعوديين. دعوة وزير الخارجية مايك بومبيو إلى إنهاء الأعمال العدائية في اليمن أتت بسبب تهديد الكونغرس بإصدار تشريع يقضي بإنهاء الدعم الأميركي للحرب التي تقودها السعودية ضدّ الحوثيين.

في خضمّ هذه الأحداث المهمة تبدو روسيا حذرة ففي 25 تشرين الأول دعا الملك السعودي سلمان بن عبد العزيز آل سعود الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين واتفق الطرفان على «تحديد شروط مثل هذه الزيارة من خلال القنوات الدبلوماسية». كما ناقش بوتين وسلمان القضايا المتعلقة بالمزيد من التطوير. التعاون الثنائي متعدّد الأوجه، بما في ذلك في قطاع الطاقة، «بالإضافة إلى سورية والوضع في الشرق الأوسط بشكل عام». وقال المتحدث باسم بوتين إنّ سلمان أبلغ بوتين الإجراءات التي اتخذتها المملكة للتحقيق في مقتل الخاشقجي وتقديم المسؤولين عن ذلك إلى العدالة.

كان بوتين قد انتقد الولايات المتحدة في 18 تشرين الأول/ أكتوبر، في المؤتمر السنوي لنادي فالداي للمناقشة في سوتشي، وأشار الى أنّ الولايات المتحدة مسؤولة جزئياً عما حدث. بما أنّ الخاشقجي كان مقيماً هناك و»اختار ذلك البلد كمأوى له».

لا تريد روسيا إفساد علاقاتها مع المملكة العربية السعودية دون معرفة تفاصيل الحادثة. أدّى مقتل الخاشقجي إلى قيام العديد من الدول والشركات الغربية إما بسحب أو الحدّ من مشاركتها في مبادرة الاستثمار المستقبلي التي استضافتها السعودية والتي عقدت في الرياض في الفترة من 23 إلى 25 تشرين الأول/ أكتوبر. لكن روسيا، على العكس، وسعت مشاركتها. فقد حضره ثلاثون من رجال الأعمال، معظمهم من كبار المديرين في الشركات الروسية الرائدة. قدّر السعوديون الرسالة السياسية التي أشارت إليها موسكو، وأعادوا التأكيد على نية سابقة لمناقشة إمكانية استثمار 5 مليارات دولار في مشروع القطب الشمالي للغاز الطبيعي المُسال.

ترى موسكو انّ ثلاثة عناصر تحكم موقف أردوغان. أحدها عداء سعودي – تركي عميق متأصّل بدوافع تاريخية وايديولوجية وجيوسياسية بالإضافة إلى صراعه من أجل التأثير في العالم السني. والثاني هو قلق أردوغان من الدور الذي يمكن أن يلعبه الأمير محمد في تحديد مصير الشرق الأوسط المستقبلي. والثالث هو غيرة أنقرة حيال علاقة الرياض بواشنطن وكيف يمكن أن يؤدّي ذلك في نهاية المطاف إلى تقوية الموقف السعودي في المنطقة، وإضعاف تركيا.

لذلك قام بتسريب القصة على مراحل من أجل تقويض مكانة ولي العهد في عيون الرئيس دونالد ترامب، وتصويره أنه شريك لا يمكن الاعتماد عليه وحتى خطير، وإضعاف المطالبة السعودية بالقيادة الإقليمية. الفكرة هي أنّ تركيا يمكن أن تظهر كشريك أكثر صلابة وتأثيراً من المملكة العربية السعودية:

رأت موسكو أنّ قضية الخاشقجي هي مزيج من الفرص المحتملة. فإنّ النتيجة النهائية هي أنّ الحادث كان قضية مسيّسة إلى حدّ كبير يتمّ استخدامها من أجل شتى الضغوط السياسية بين البلدان المعنية. وبما انها مهتمة بالمنطقة اهتماماً قوياً وطويل الأجل، فسيكون من الحكمة ان تكسب المزيد مع جميع الأطراف من خلال عدم التدخل.

The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back in Khashoggi Crime

 

Turkish police Saudi consulate

Turkish police near gate of Saudi consulate of Istanbul (October 15, 2018).

November 3, 2018

Newspapers and websites plastered with the unwillingness of Gina Haspel, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, during her visit to Turkey, to follow up the audio recordings that reportedly proves Khashoggi was tortured. If “Haspel”, the expert in prison torture, couldn’t bear the dramatic torture and excessive cruelty to which Khashoggi was subjected, then how terrible are those scenes that made her stop watching the recordings?

Provided with the facts that Haspel has reported, which are now in the hands of President Donald Trump, and with the Congress’ demand to know the dubious details of the consulate’s crime, further pressure is placed on the U.S. president to stop keeping up with the Saudi prince, the liar who confesses to his crime in a piecemeal manner. As for Trump, he chose to be the confused defense lawyer who adopts a different position everyday, which made him something to laugh at by both Republicans and Democrats. He finds himself powerless when it comes to persuading US voters, during the midterm elections campaign, with his carrot and stick approach that he uses when dealing with Saudi Arabia.

Washington Post and New York Times both exerted a lot of pressure on Donald Trump by supporting who’ve been trying to escape the tyrannical kingdom. Trump has become a hostage of his own indispensable decisions, not on the level of imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia, nor in the excessive demand for overthrowing Bin Salman, but rather by calling for an immediate end to the Saudi war in Yemen to counter the consequences of this crime. Britain and the United Nation hailed his decision, as well as some European countries who denounced this war ever since it broke out.

The US dodge in the condemnation of Saudi Arabia began with the former President Barack Obama who opted for diluting thousands of cases filed by the families of the victims of September 11 against the Saudi government, given that most terrorists were Saudis. That was followed by another dodge in the “Trump era” who he opted for procrastination in the lawsuit that was filed by the Saudi billionaire Ahmed Al-Asrawi in February against Mohammed bin Salman for the offence of beating, torturing and stealing his wealth, which is worth ten billion dollars. Bin Salman forced him to drop the suit by detaining him and other princes in the Riyadh’s Ritz hotel. This actually means that the American judiciary is governed by the timing of the political institution.

The new surge of the billionaire whose lawsuit against Mohammad Bin Salman has been upheld to the federal court, that has the right to summon Bin Salman and take over Saudi private and sovereign wealth in the United States, was followed by another surges of Saudi dissidents across the world, whether media profs, politicians or even princes who were forcibly or voluntarily exiled to escape the kings’ injustice.

One of these dissidents was Prince Khalid bin Farhan al-Saud, lives in Germany, who quoted the following phrase, “There’s a Deep State in Saudi Arabia.” This phrase was previously used by the Turkish president adviser Yasin Aktay who accused the deep state in the kingdom of killing Jamal Khashoggi.

YouTube screen shot of Prince Khalid bin Farhan al-Saud defection statement [Arabic] (source: YouTube)

The Saudi prince has asserted during an interview from his exile in Germany that Mohammad Bin Salman is doomed, and the “Deep State” that stands behind the decisions of the Allegiance Commission has to overthrow Bin Salman immediately, without taking the permission of the stubborn King Salman.

The prince added that the Deep State has no time to save the Saudi throne because of the health condition of king Salman. As soon as he dies, Bin Salman will automatically inherit the throne. At that time, Bin Salman’s opponents, whether Saudi princes or the clan elders who usually support the throne and reject Mohammad Bin Salman who committed reckless adventures in Yemen and besieged Qatar, will revolt. The exiled prince who knows the secrets of this kingdom doesn’t exclude the possibility that there would be shootings and assassinations within the walls of the palace, if the king dies and Bin Salman tries to ascend the throne. The military and security forces officially held by MBS will soon collapse and split cased on tribal affiliations and family loyalties to the senior officers.

In the meantime, waiting for the release of the full investigations of the Turkish Prosecutor General, the presence or departure of Mohammed bin Salman is a pointless detail, because the halo of the kingdom has collapsed internally and externally as a structure of cardboard built on the sand. It is enough to follow up the official media spokesmen in the European countries, Germany, France and Britain in particular, in addition to the American media, to make sure that the saw that slayed Khashoggi has cut the Saudi sword that is flapping around the flag of the Kingdom. The fate of the Saudi throne has become a hostage to the documents and recordings carried by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. All countries that advocate human rights will place Saudi Arabia on the blacklist of terrorism because the international public opinion, terrified by the details of the crime, cannot pity corrupt regimes that fail to confront a family kingdom that fights human rights once by a sword and sometimes by chainsaw.

Source: Al-Manar Website

 

ثبوت «النية المسبقة» لقتل خاشقجي لا يعطّل النيّة المسبقة لصفقة مرابحةٍ ثلاثية

أكتوبر 29, 2018

د. عصام نعمان

للمرة الثالثة تبدّل السعودية روايتها لملابسات تصفية جمال خاشقجي. فمن رواية القتل أثناء «شجار واشتباك بالأيدي» داخل قنصليتها في اسطنبول، إلى رواية القتل بـ «كتم النَفَس»، إلى إقرارٍ من النيابة العامة في الرياض بأنّ المشتبه فيهم « أقدموا على فعلتهم بنية مسبقة».

ثبوت النية المسبقة للقتل لدى المشتبه فيهم السعوديين لم يعطّل نية دونالد ترامب المسبقة لتفادي إدانة محمد بن سلمان بل لتبرئته. إدانة ولي العهد وهو الحاكم الفعلي للبلاد تعني إدانة السعودية دولةً ومسؤولين. لوحظ منذ بداية تواتر الظنون والإتهامات ان ليس في نية الرئيس الأميركي التسليم بإدانة محمد بن سلمان لأنها تستتبع بالضرورة إنزال عقوبات شديدة بالسعودية ليس أقلها صرف النظر عن صفقة تزويدها أسلحةً بقيمة 110 مليار دولار.

ليس ترامب وحده من يستهول خسارة الصفقة المليارية. لوبي صنّاع السلاح وتجّاره في الولايات المتحدة يشاطر شاغل البيت الأبيض موقفه الحريص على مصلحة «أميركا أولاً». «رابطةُ الصناعات الجوية» التي تضمّ كبريات شركات الصناعات العسكرية كـ «لوكهيد مارتن» و«نورتروب جورمان» و«بوينغ» و«ريثون» و«جنرال داينمكس» بعثت برسالة إلى إدارة ترامب تتضمّن «نقاطاً طارئة» هي بمثابة برنامج عمل لصنّاع السلاح لاعتماده في الضغط على صنّاع القرار في الولايات المتحدة. تتمحور نقاط الرسالة على حجة رئيسة مفادها «أننا، ببيعنا المنتجات الأميركية للحلفاء والشركاء، نستطيع أن نضمن ألاّ يتمكّن أعداؤناً من أن يحلّوا محلنا في علاقاتنا السياسية والعسكرية والاقتصادية».

إلى ترامب ولوبي السلاح الأميركي، تحظى السعودية بدعم ضمني من «إسرائيل» واللوبي اليهودي الصهيوني «إيباك» في واشنطن، ذلك لأنّ لـ «إسرائيل»، بحسب دان شابيرو، سفير الولايات المتحدة السابق في تل أبيب، «مصلحة قوية في أن تبقى السعودية حليفة للولايات المتحدة من أجل القيام بأفضل الاستعدادات لمواجهة إيران» راجع مقالته في صحيفة «هآرتس» بتاريخ 2018/10/19 .

في إطار التحسّب لموقف إدارة ترامب وانعكاسه المحتمل على العلاقة الضمنية المتنامية بين «إسرائيل» والسعودية في مواجهة إيران، نشر زلمان شوفال، سفير تل أبيب السابق في واشنطن، مقالة في صحيفة «معاريف» 2018/10/22 كشف فيها انّ زيارة وزير الخارجية الأميركي مايك بومبيو الأخيرة الى الرياض واجتماعه الى الملك سلمان وولي عهده انتهت الى التفاهم على «صيغة أساسُها اعتراف السعودية بما حدث من دون تفاصيل أو من دون الإشارة إلى مسألة مَن أعطى الأوامر، وانّ هذا السيناريو يفترض أن يؤدّي إلى محاكمة استعراضية تجري للذين نفذوا الجريمة في القنصلية السعودية في اسطنبول».

ما موقف تركيا مما جرى على أراضيها وما دورها المرتقب في سيناريو «اللفلفة» الجاري على قدم وساق؟

قيل إن «لا أحد في الشرق الأوسط يقدّم خدمات مجانية». أورد هذا القول السفير شابيرو في مقالته آنفة الذكر. من هنا فإنّ همّ أنقرة الرئيس سوف يتركّز، بطبيعة الحال، على الثمن الممكن استخلاصه من السعودية وأميركا مقابل «لفلفة» هذه الجريمة الحدث التي ارتكبت فوق الأرض التركية. في هذا السياق، تابَع ويتابع رجب طيب أردوغان ووزير خارجيته مولود جاويش أوغلو الكشف بالتدريج عن الوقائع والحقائق التي تتوصل اليها التحقيقات في القنصلية السعودية ومحيطها ومع موظفيها، مقرونةً بحرصهما على طرح المزيد من الأسئلة المحرجة حول هوية الآمر الفعلي بارتكاب الجريمة وعن مصير جثة خاشقجي. غير أنهما في كلّ ما يقولانه يحرصان أيضاً على إبقاء باب المفاوضة والمساومة والمقايضة مفتوحاً مع الرياض ومع واشنطن بدليل استبعاد جاويش أوغلو إحالة القضية على المحكمة الجنائية الدولية.

ما هي الخطوط العريضة المحتملة لصفقة القرن الجديدة بين العواصم الثلاث؟

ما يهمّ الرياض، بالدرجة الأولى، إبعاد أصابع الاتهام عن ولي العهد محمد بن سلمان لتبقى السلطة في عهدته ومعها تبرئة سمعة المملكة التي لاكتها ألوف الألسنة بالذمّ والتأثيم والتجريم احتجاجاً وإدانةً لحربها الظالمة على اليمن، ولنصرتها الحرب الإرهابية في سورية وعليها بالتعاون مع الولايات المتحدة وتركيا، وانخراطها في «الحرب الناعمة» التي يشنّها التحالف الصهيوأميركي على إيران والتزام تصنيفها العدو الأول للعرب في الحاضر والمستقبل بدلاً من الكيان الصهيوني العنصري التوسّعي المغتصب.

ما يهمّ أنقرة، بالدرجة الأولى، الحصول من السعودية على تعويضٍ مالي وازن مقابل امتناعها عن إدانة محمد بن سلمان، والضغط على واشنطن لحملها على التسليم بهيمنة تركيا على شمال سورية، ولا سيما على مناطق شرق الفرات، بدعوى تحصين الأمن القومي التركي في وجه الأكراد السوريين الإنفصاليين المتعاونين مع الإرهابيين من أنصار حزب العمال الكردستاني التركي. وقد تقوم أنقرة بالضغط على واشنطن لمساعدتها في حمل السعودية على رفع حصارها عن قطر. بذلك كله يظنّ أردوغان وجماعته انهم يكرّسون دوراً لتركيا كقوة إقليمية كبرى.

ما يهمّ واشنطن، بالدرجة الأولى، المحافظة على السعودية كحليف مقبول ومرغوب داخل الولايات المتحدة ولدى حلفائها الأطلسيين كي تستمرّ معها في عقد صفقات أسلحة بمليارات الدولارات، وفي محاصرة إيران سياسياً واقتصادياً وأمنياً، وفي توظيف الجهود لتعطيل سياستها المعادية لـ «اسرائيل» والداعمة لسورية وقوى المقاومة العربية، ولا سيما تلك المنخرطة في صراعٍ مرير ضدّ الهيمنة الأميركية والعدوان الصهيوني.

الخلاصة؟

توحي التطورات والواقعات وبعض المعلومات المتسرّبة من الحوار الضمني الجاري بين العواصم الثلاث بإمكان التوصّل، عاجلاً او آجلاً، إلى تسويةٍ مرنة لصفقة مرابحةٍ ثلاثية فيها من المقايضات ما يتيح لكلٍّ من أطرافها رعاية همومه وتحقيق أغراضه الرئيسة بتكلفة مقبولة.

وزير سابق

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Constitutional committee for Syria should start work, Russia to join in: Putin

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Russian President Vladimir Putin says a constitutional committee for Syria should start work in order to help put an end to the years-long bloody conflict in the Arab country, adding that Moscow would actively take part in that process.

Putin made the remarks during a press conference on Saturday following a quadrilateral summit on Syria in the Turkish city of Istanbul with Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Earlier this year, Moscow invited representatives of Syria’s government and armed opposition groups to the Russian resort town of Sochi and proposed creating a committee to revise the constitution.

The committee is expected to include 150 members: 50 chosen by Damascus, 50 by the opposition and the final 50 by de Mistura. It will also include civil society representatives, religious and tribal leaders, experts and women.

The Russian president also told the joint press conference that he hoped that Ankara would soon finish creating a demilitarized zone in Syria’s northern province of Idlib, the last major terrorist-held bastion in Syria.

At the end of a summit in Sochi on September 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on, among other things, establishing a demilitarized zone in Idlib that would cover an expanse of 15-20 kilometers of land. Militants would have to entirely clear that area by October 15.

Presidents Putin and Erdogan had earlier, in a trilateral summit in Tehran, differed on how to resolve the issue of Idlib.

Putin also said on Saturday that Turkish partners are fulfilling their obligations regarding the agreement on Idlib.

He also said Russia understands the process is not easy and it plans to continue cooperating.

The Russian president added that his country will take active steps if terrorists use the Idlib demilitarized zone as a cover to launch attacks on the rest of Syria.

“Should radicals … launch armed provocations from the Idlib zone, Russia reserves the right to give active assistance to the Syrian government in liquidating this source of terrorist threat,” the Russian President vowed during a summit on Syria in Istanbul.

Erdogan also said after the top-level summit that a constitutional committee for Syria should be formed as soon as possible, expressing hope that it would be formed before the end of the year.

The Turkish president said that the participants of the summit discussed the return of refugees to Syria and agreed that the returns should be voluntary.

(From L) Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron take part in a conference as part of a summit on Syria on October 27, 2018. (By AFP)

The French president, meanwhile, said that the international community would be watching to make sure that ceasefire agreed in Idlib will be long lasting.

“We will all be extremely vigilant to ensure that these commitments are met and that the ceasefire is stable and sustainable,” Macron told reporters after the high-level summit.

Macron also said any military offensive by the Syrian government would have “unacceptable security and humanitarian consequences”.

Merkel also said that a solution to the Syria conflict cannot simply be military and must include a political process under the auspices of the United Nations that envisages free elections as a goal.

“At the end of this political process, there must be free elections to which all Syrians have access – including the diaspora,” she told the news conference.

In a joint statement issued ahead of individual press conferences, the four leaders stressed the importance of a lasting ceasefire, while underlining the need to continue fight against terrorism.

They expressed determination to reject separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.

The participants also expressed support for an inclusive political process backed by the United Nations and with the participation of all Syrian parties.

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Khashoggi Cover-Up Underway

A policeman stands guard as an Indonesian journalist holds a placard during a protest over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in front of the Saudi Arabia embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia,
Finian Cunningham

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed this week to reveal the “naked truth” about the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi; however, in fact, he didn’t uncover anything extraordinary, but why?

It is significant that the day before Erdogan’s much-hyped speech to Turkish parliamentarians, President Donald Trump dispatched his CIA chief to Turkey to “investigate” the evidence of Khashoggi’s killing.

The involvement of the CIA at such a high level in an overseas criminal case is unprecedented. Surely, FBI crime investigators would have been more appropriate, if at all.

What was the real purpose of CIA director Gina Haspel going to Turkey? Haspel, or “Bloody Gina” as she is known, has an ignominious record of being personally involved in past CIA torture cases and destroying incriminating evidence. Was her trip to Turkey not so much about discovery of facts, and rather more about covering-up the truth of what really happened to Khashoggi?

It is subsequently reported by the Washington Post that Haspel listened to the secret Turkish audiotapes recording the moments of Khashoggi’s murder.For his part, President Erdogan’s speech this week provoked much disappointment among many international observers who had been expecting him to reveal hard evidence incriminating the Saudis in a murder plot. There was an expectation that Erdogan would finally release audio and video tapes, which Turk investigators claim to have, which would expose the grim way in which Khashoggi was allegedly disposed of.

The Turkish leader certainly laid out plainly the charge that Saudi Arabia had carried out “a premeditated murder” in its consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Erdogan called it a “brutal” killing which implies Khashoggi was tortured and dismembered, as Turkish officials have been leaking for the past three weeks to media.

But Erdogan did not name names of who the Turks believe was ultimately responsible for ordering the assassination.

The Saudis have stated that Khashoggi was killed in a “botched interrogation” carried out by a “rogue” team of state security agents. They have strenuously denied that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 33-year-old heir to the throne, had any involvement in ordering the plot.

Prince Mohammed this week in his first public comments on the killing, called it a “heinous act” and promised to bring the perpetrators to justice. Notably, in a conciliatory overture to Erdogan, the monarch also warned anyone trying to “drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and Turkey”.

Nonetheless, unnamed American and Turkish intelligence sources have separately told various media outlets they have telecoms intercepts implicating the crown prince in personally sanctioning the murderous operation.

The holding back of damning evidence by Erdogan this week suggests that the Turkish leader is trying to maximize his leverage over the Saudi rulers and President Trump to get a deal for his country. This may explain the real reason why CIA’s Haspel rushed to Turkey this week.

Erdogan is a renowned Machiavellian politician. He may have been personal friends with the doomed Khashoggi, but when Erdogan vows to “expose the full truth” while holding back purported damning evidence, what he is aiming to do is extract further concessions from the Saudis and the Americans.

Turkey needs the US to back off from its recent campaign of hostility and sanctions which have thrown the Turkish economy into turmoil. US-Turkish relations soured over the detention by Ankara of an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, on charges of espionage. The return of the pastor earlier this month only days after the Khashoggi case emerged suggests the beginning of Erdogan’s gambit to appease the US for favors.

It can also be anticipated that Erdogan will extract eye-watering financial concessions from oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which reportedly has huge investments in Turkey. That could involve debt write-offs for Ankara or more soft loans into the future.

For the Saudis and Washington, they want the whole Khashoggi scandal to go away as fast as possible. President Trump has helped create the media narrative that the Khashoggi killing was a “horrible mistake” carried out by “rogue agents”. This week, ironically, Trump described the Saudi version of events as “the worst cover-up in history”. Cynically, what Trump means is that the alibi needs to be improved with a more sophisticated deception.

This US president has staked much of his Middle East plans on the Saudi crown prince, or “MbS” as he is known. Trump’s son-in-law and White House advisor on Middle East affairs Jared Kushner is personal friends with the young monarch. The White House is relying on Prince Mohammed to sell what amounts to a pro-Israeli peace deal to the Arab world, which Trump has bragged about as being “the deal of the century”.

The Saudi monarch is also crucial to Trump’s policy of aggression towards Iran. The US needs the Saudis to ramp up oil production in order to offset the expected decrease in Iranian crude supply if Trump’s anti-Iran sanctions due to kick in next month are to succeed.

Maintaining multi-billion-dollar arms sales to Saudi Arabia is, of course, another imperative reason why the White House does not want the truth about what happened Khashoggi to come out. It wants to whitewash the role played by senior House of Saud figures.

A bipartisan move by US congress members was launched this week to limit arms sales to Saudi Arabia if President Trump does not show that senior Saudi royals were not involved in the Khashoggi killing. Trump is therefore under pressure to absolve the Saudi authorities of culpability.

For the Saudi rulers they have been caught in a global public relations disaster. Their image, never too positive anyway, has been shattered over the foul murder of a journalist. Saudi’s oil economy is not as secure as one might think. The military operation in Yemen and ballooning social costs internally are making the kingdom heavily reliant on foreign capital. The “Davos in the Desert” conference this week has seen many top investors stay away due to the Khashoggi scandal.

The House of Saud desperately needs to find a cover-up that absolves its senior figures in Khashoggi’s murder.

For these reasons, Turkey, the US and Saudi Arabia are positioning for a sordid deal which will involve burying the truth about what happened to Khashoggi and who ordered his murder.

For ordinary people around the world one might expect justice and truth to prevail. But in the dirty business of politics – especially involving these three arch-practitioners of dirty politics – justice and truth are values more likely to be liquidated.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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