Biden: Nuclear war cannot be won, must never be fought

21 Sep 2022 20:53

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

The US President claims that the United States does not seek conflict with China or a new Cold War.

US President Joe Biden during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York (Reuters)

    US President Joe Biden accused Wednesday Russia of violating the core tenets of membership in the United Nations over the war in Ukraine, claiming that Moscow was making “irresponsible” threats to use nuclear weapons.

    During his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Biden criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war.

    “Again, just today, President Putin has made overt nuclear threats against Europe, in a reckless disregard for the responsibilities of the nonproliferation regime,” Biden said.

    “A permanent member of the United Nations Security Council invaded its neighbor, attempted to erase a sovereign state from the map. Russia has shamelessly violated the core tenets of the United Nations Charter,” the US President claimed.

    Earlier, Putin announced a partial mobilization in Russia as the war in Ukraine has now lasted for almost seven months.

    “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” Biden said.

    The US President claimed that Russia was not threatened by any side and that Moscow had sought conflict, vowing that the United States would stand in solidarity with Ukraine.

    US does not seek ‘Cold War’ or ‘conflict’ with China

    Regarding the ongoing tensions with China, Biden told the United Nations that the United States does not seek “conflict” with China or a new Cold War.

    “Let me be direct about the competition between the United States and China. As we manage shifting geopolitical trends, the United States will conduct itself as a reasonable leader,” he said.

    He also claimed that “we do not seek conflict. We do not seek a Cold War. We do not ask any nation to choose between the United States or any other partner.”

    Nuclear wars ‘cannot be won,’ US ready to negotiate arms treaties

    In a different context, Biden warned that nuclear wars “cannot be won” and claimed that Washington is ready to pursue arms control measures.

    “A nuclear war cannot be won, and must never be fought,” Biden told the UN General Assembly, saying that Moscow made “irresponsible nuclear threats.”

    “The United States is ready to pursue critical armed control measures,” said Biden, vowing that Washington will not allow Tehran to obtain atomic weapons, which the Iranian President denied seeking only a few hours earlier at the same session. 

    Americans ‘stand with the brave women of Iran’

    Regarding the case of young Iranian journalist, Mahsa Amini, Biden claimed that Americans “stand with the brave women of Iran.”

    “Today we stand with the brave citizens and the brave women of Iran who right now are demonstrating to secure their basic rights,” the US President told the UNGA, completely disregarding Iranian reports and CCTV footage which clearly show that Amini was not touched by the police officer and that her death was the result of a medical condition she is suffering from. 

    Biden supports expanding UN Security Council

    Furthermore, Biden indicated that Washington supports the expansion of the UN Security Council to better represent areas including Africa and Latin America.

    “The United States supports increasing the number of both permanent and non-permanent representatives of the council,” he said, adding that “this includes permanent seats for those nations we’ve long supported — permanent seats for countries in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean. The United States is committed to this vital work.”

    Biden calls for the extension of grain deal

    During his speech, Biden said, “The United States will work with every nation, including our competitors, to solve global problems like climate change. Climate diplomacy is not a favor to the United States or any other nation and walking away hurts the entire world.”

    Biden said that US sanctions allow Russia to export food and fertilizer, claiming that it was “Russia’s war that is worsening food insecurity.”

    He also called for the extension of the July grain deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, which allowed Ukraine to resume Black Sea food and fertilizer exports.

    Read more: Iran that was a victim of terrorism became a haven of security: Raisi

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    How the US controls Lebanon’s energy supply

    Far from helping Lebanon solve its acute energy crisis, the US is leveraging Egypt’s gas supply to pressure Beirut over US-brokered maritime border talks with Israel

    August 19 2022

    By Yeghia Tashjian

    Consider the chaos in Europe today caused by a sudden reduction in Russian gas supplies.

    Now imagine the catastrophic state of Lebanon’s energy sector after two years of fuel shortages, limited foreign currency with which to purchase new, urgent supplies, and US-sanctions on Syria impeding Lebanon’s only land route for imports.

    US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea intervenes in all of Beirut’s energy decisions Photo Credit: The Cradle

    After decades of stalled reforms, Lebanon is running out of time and money.

    In June 2021, a lifeline was handed to the country in a deal struck with Baghdad to supply two Lebanese power stations with Iraqi fuel. The agreement, which was due to expire in September 2022, has recently been extended for one year.

    But while there are short and long term solutions available to remedy Lebanon’s energy crisis, the two main options are both monopolized by US policymakers with stakes in regional geopolitics.

    The first option involves transporting fuel to Lebanon via the Arab Gas Pipeline (AGP), whereby Egypt will supply gas through Syria. Although the proposal was originally an American suggestion, this fuel route requires US sanctions waivers that have not yet been approved by Washington.

    The second option is for Lebanon to extract its own gas supply from newly discovered fields off its coastline. This too depends entirely on US-mediated, indirect negotiations with Israel to resolve a maritime dispute over the Karish gas field in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

    Accessing its own gas supplies will go a long way to guarantee Lebanon’s own energy security, while providing the state with much needed revenues from exports.

    However, the success of either project depends largely on the status of US-Lebanese relations at any given moment. The two options are also inextricably linked to each other: Washington is pressuring Beirut to compromise with Tel Aviv on the maritime border dispute before agreeing to “green light” Cairo’s gas exports via Syria, which is in turn heavily sanctioned by the US’s “Caesar Act.”

    While Washington is playing a leverage game, Lebanon is slowly collapsing.

    Gas from Egypt

    Under the agreement signed with Cairo, 650 million cubic meters of natural gas will be exported annually via the AGP. As it turns out, the actual supply of gas, as per the World Bank’s conditions, awaits US approval to exclude Egypt from sanctions imposed on the passage of goods through Syria.

    The AGP is already a functioning pipeline that has supplied Lebanon with Egyptian gas in the past, but operations were halted in 2011 when Syrian pipelines were damaged during the country’s armed conflict.

    Under the deal, Egypt will pump gas through the pipeline to supply Lebanon’s northern Deir Ammar power plant, which can then produce 450 megawatts of electricity – adding four hours of additional electricity supply per day. It is a modest but necessary improvement over the barely two hours of electricity currently provided by the state.

    The World Bank has pledged to finance the deal on the condition that the Lebanese government implements much needed reforms in the electricity sector, which has created tens of billions of dollars in public debt.

    The Syrian equation       

    For the Syrian government, the arrangement is perceived as a diplomatic victory as it confers ‘legitimacy’ to the state and represents a step toward its international rehabilitation. The AGP deal was also hailed by Syrian Minister of Oil and Mineral Resources Bassam Tohmy as one of the most important joint Arab cooperation projects.

    According to Will Todman, a research fellow in the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the agreement is “a win for the [Bashar al-]Assad government. The deal represents the first major move toward Syria’s economic integration with the region since Arab Spring protests shook Syria in March 2011, halting previous integration efforts.”

    However, due to US Caesar Law restrictions, no concrete progress has been made over the past months. Amman and Cairo have both requested guarantees from Washington that they will not be subject to sanctions – to no avail. US President Joe Biden has yet to make a final decision on whether the plan will be considered a violation of sanctions on Syria.

    Linking the Egypt deal with Israel talks

    In order to create a certain interdependency in the region to minimize the possibility of new conflicts with Israel, the US is attempting to link the Egyptian gas deal with the ongoing, indirect, maritime negotiations between Tel Aviv and Beirut.

    Amos Hochstein, the State Department senior adviser on energy security, who acts as chief mediator on the disputed maritime border between Lebanon and Israel, said after arriving in Beirut on 14 June that the US side will look at the final agreement between Egypt and Lebanon to evaluate the sanctions compliance of the natural gas project.

    This means that Washington is linking the fate of the gas deal to the maritime dispute with Israel to exert additional pressure on Lebanon.

    On 14 October, 2020 – just two months after the Beirut port blast which severed the primary transportation route for seaborne Lebanese imports – Lebanon and Israel began the long-awaited US-mediated talks to demarcate their maritime borders, under the supervision of the UN.

    The framework agreement announced by both countries at the time was the most serious attempt to resolve the maritime dispute and secure gas drilling operations through diplomatic means.

    However, there are many challenges that can slow or even derail these negotiations.

    According to Lebanese estimates, the country has 96 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves and 865 million barrels of oil offshore, and is in urgent need to begin drilling to save its ailing economy.

    Israel is also in hurry to resolve this dispute as it wants to finalize the negotiations before September 2022, when the Karish gas rig is expected to begin production. The concern is that if a deal is not signed by then, Hezbollah may take action to halt Israel’s extraction altogether – until Lebanon is able to extract its own fuel from those waters.

    Resolution or conflict

    Last month, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah reiterated warnings against Tel Aviv in the event that Lebanon is prevented from extracting its own resources in the Med. “When things reach a dead-end, we will not only stand in the face of Karish… Mark these words: we will reach Karish, beyond Karish, and beyond, beyond Karish,” he cautioned.

    Initially, Lebanon took a maximalist position on its maritime borders with Israel: the main dispute was around the percentage both countries should share in the disputed 860 square kilometers, which covers Lebanon’s offshore gas Blocks 8, 9 and 10.

    It is worth mentioning that Lebanon does not enter these negotiations from a position of strength and is in dire economic need to unlock foreign aid and begin the flow of potential gas revenues.

    Meanwhile, the arrival this summer of the British-based Energean, an oil and gas exploration company, which will begin a drilling operation close to the Karish gas field, has sparked tensions between both countries, prompting US envoy Hochstein to race back to the region on 13 June.

    In order to provide Lebanon with some much-needed leverage and accelerate negotiations, Hezbollah dispatched three drones towards the Karish gas field on 2 July. The operation sought several results: to test Israeli military responses to the drones, to scare off the private company contractors working on the rig, and to motivate both Tel Aviv and Washington to step up and strike a deal.

    The operation achieved its goals. Israel’s military now can’t rule out the possibility that the Lebanese resistance movement will launch additional attacks on the gas field in the near future, or provoke Israel in a different manner – if the maritime dispute is not ironed out, and soon.

    Beyond the Mediterranean Sea

    The negotiations have also been impacted by international developments, chiefly, the war in Ukraine and the growing energy crisis in Europe. Sweeping western economic sanctions on Moscow’s economic interests have dried up Russian exports to the continent, driving Europe to seek alternative sources of energy, few of which are readily available.

    In May 2022, the US and EU unveiled a plan to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels and in June, the EU and Israel signed an agreement to export Israeli gas to Europe. These external factors have further motivated the US and Israel to hasten the negotiation process with Lebanon, all of which are overshadowed by the aforementioned US pressure on the Lebanese government.

    Energy expert Laury Haytayan believes that linking Lebanon to regional energy projects makes it harder for Lebanon to go to war with Israel. Haytayan told The Cradle: “Lebanon needs gas, Israel needs stability, and the US wants to give both what they want.”

    It is important to recognize that a final maritime demarcation agreement also means defusing the tensions on the Lebanese-Israeli border, which may require a broader US-Iranian agreement, something that is unlikely in the short term.

    If the gas deal is successful and the US approves the Egyptian energy exports, the move will only increase US leverage over Lebanon when it comes to future negotiations on energy security.

    It is in Lebanon’s interest to ensure that one party, the US, does not continue to hold all the cards related to its vital fuel needs. A recent offer from Iran to supply the country with monthly free fuel was tacitly accepted by Lebanon’s prime minister and energy minister, but needs work. Other states have offered to build power generation plants to enhance the nation’s infrastructure and efficiency.

    But with Lebanon so deeply affected by Washington’s whims – and punishments – it isn’t at all certain that the country can steer itself to these more independent options.

    The US and Israel have never been this highly incentivized to solve the maritime dispute. If the deal fails, Hezbollah may proceed with military action, especially before the conclusion of political ally President Michel Aoun’s term this Fall.

    Furthermore, the gas issue may turn into a contentious domestic political issue ahead of Israel’s November parliamentary elections. In that instance too, a military conflict between Israel and Hezbollah may be triggered.

    The only solution is to strike a deal, get gas flowing, and avert war. Will saner minds prevail, or will the region’s high-stakes geopolitical competition continue to escalate blindly? More importantly, can Washington bear to allow Lebanon the breathing space after three years of severe economic pressure to control Beirut’s political decisions?

    The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

    Price: US to study Iran response, sanctions were not helpful

    August 16, 2022 

    Source: Agencies

    By Al Mayadeen English 

    Salma Al-Shehab, a student at Leeds University and a mother of two, is charged with following and retweeting dissidents and activists on Twitter by Riyadh’s so-called “special terrorist court”.

    Salma al-Shehab, a student at Leeds University and a mother of 2

    A Saudi university student who had returned home for a vacation was sentenced to 34 years in prison for following and retweeting dissidents and activists on her personal Twitter account. 

    The sentence was handed down by Saudi Arabia’s so-called “special terrorist court” just weeks after US President Joe Biden’s visit to the Kingdom, which human rights activists warned could give Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) a green light to intensify his crackdown on dissidents and other pro-democracy activists.

    See more: Biden claims human rights on agenda during Saudi Arabia visit

    The case poses evidence of how MBS has targeted Twitter users in his repression campaign, while also controlling a significant indirect stake in the US social media company through Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF).

    In MBS’ playbook, Tweeting is a crime

    Salma Al-Shehab, a 34-year-old mother of two, aged four and six, was initially sentenced to three years in prison for the “crime” of using an internet website to “cause public unrest and destabilize civil and national security.” 

    However, an appeals court handed down the new sentence on Monday – 34 years in prison followed by a 34-year travel ban – after a public prosecutor requested that the court consider other alleged crimes.

    Shehab was not a prominent or particularly vocal Saudi activist, neither in Saudi Arabia nor in the United Kingdom. 

    On Instagram, where she had only 159 followers, she described herself as a dental hygienist, medical educator, PhD student at Leeds University, lecturer at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, wife, and mother to her sons, Noah and Adam.

    Her Twitter profile listed 2,597 followers. She regularly shared pictures of her young children and tweets about Covid burnout.

    Shehab rarely retweeted posts from Saudi dissidents in exile calling for the release of political prisoners in the Kingdom.

    The PhD student appeared to support the case of Loujain Al-Hathloul, a prominent Saudi feminist activist who was previously imprisoned and tortured for advocating for women’s driving rights, and is now subject to a travel ban.

    Someone who knew Shehab said she couldn’t stand injustice. She was described as well-educated and a voracious reader who had moved to the UK in 2018 or 2019 to pursue her PhD at the University of Leeds. 

    She had returned to Saudi Arabia for a vacation in December 2020, intending to bring her two children and husband with her. Saudi authorities then summoned her for questioning, and she was eventually arrested and tried for her tweets.

    Of secret torture and oppressed revelations  

    In further detail, a person who followed her case revealed that Shehab had been held in solitary confinement at times and had sought to privately tell the judge details about how she had been treated that she did not want to reveal in front of her father during the trial.

    She was not permitted to communicate the message to the judge, as per the source. Three judges signed the appeals verdict, but their signatures were illegible.

    See more: Human Rights Watch Report Reveals New Details About Torture in Saudi Prisons

    On its account, Twitter declined to comment on the case and did not respond to specific questions about Saudi Arabia’s influence over the company, according to the Guardian.

    It is worth noting that Twitter previously did not respond to questions about why a senior aide to MBS, Bader Al-Asaker, was allowed to keep a verified Twitter account with more than 2 million followers, despite US government allegations that he orchestrated an illegal infiltration of the company, leading to the identification and imprisonment of anonymous Twitter users by the Saudi government. A former Twitter employee has been convicted in the case by a US court.

    The Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who owns more than 5% of Twitter through his investment company, Kingdom Holdings, is one of Twitter’s most significant investors. 

    While bin Talal remains the company’s chairman, his authority over the company was called into question by the US media, including the Wall Street Journal, after it was revealed that the Saudi royal – a cousin of the crown prince – had been held captive at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh for 83 days. 

    See more: MBS after Saudi royals, again

    The incident was part of a larger purge led by MBS against other members of the royal family and businessmen, which involved allegations of torture, coercion, and the expropriation of billions of dollars from Saudi Arabian coffers.

    In May, Kingdom Holding announced that it had sold approximately 17% of its company to the PIF, of which bin Salman is chairman, for $1.5 billion. As a result, the Saudi government is a significant indirect investor in Twitter. According to Twitter, investors have no influence over the company’s day-to-day operations.

    “MBS’s ruthless repression machine”

    The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights condemned Shehab’s sentence, which it said was the longest ever imposed on an activist. It was noted that many female activists had been subjected to unfair trials that resulted in arbitrary sentences, as well as “severe torture,” including sexual harassment.

    Khalid Aljabri, a Saudi living in exile whose sister and brother are detained in Saudi Arabia, said the Shehab case demonstrated Saudi Arabia’s view that dissent equals terrorism.

    “Salman’s draconian sentencing in a terrorism court over peaceful tweets is the latest manifestation of MBS’s ruthless repression machine,” he said.

    “Just like [journalist Jamal] Khashoggi’s assassination, her sentencing is intended to send shock waves inside and outside the kingdom – dare to criticize MBS and you will end up dismembered or in Saudi dungeons.”

    While the case has received little attention, the Washington Post published a sarcastic editorial about Saudi Arabia’s treatment of the Leeds student on Tuesday, stressing that her case demonstrated that the “commitments” the US President received on  reforms were “a farce.”

    “At the very least, Mr. Biden must now speak out forcefully and demand that Ms. Shehab be released and allowed to return to her sons, 4 and 6 years old, in the United Kingdom, and to resume her studies there,” it read.

    Read more: Former Saudi Spymaster: MBS Is a “Psychopath” Who Planned to Kill King Abdullah

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    Fresh Zionist Attacks on Gaza Come Out of US President’s Regional Tour: Iran’s Veep

     August 8, 2022

    First Vice-President of Iran Mohammad Mokhber underscored that the new attacks by the Zionist regime on the Gaza Strip is a result of a recent trip by US President Joe Biden to the West Asia region.

    Speaking on the sidelines of the Ashura day mourning ceremony, Mokhber said on Monday that the recent regional tour by the US president to the region has emboldened the Zionist regime to resume brutal attacks on the Gaza Strip.

    The new round of pounding Gaza is also indicating that Israel is facing internal challenges and crises, but such attacks will end up in consolidating unity among Muslims and resistance movement groups, the Iranian official argued.

    Describing Iran as the steadfast supporter of oppressed Palestinian people and resistance movements, he emphasized that efforts made by the Zionist regime and its regional and international allies show that how much the resistance movement’s might has improved.

    The first vice president also stressed that resistance is the only way to conquer the occupiers, expressing hope that the holy Quds region can be liberated soon with the God’s help and as a result of resistance by Palestinian youths and Muslims.

    The Islamic Jihad of Palestine fired hundreds of rockets into occupied territories in retaliation to the Zionists’ pounding of the Gaza enclave.

    According to the most recent reports, the number of martyrs of Zionists’ attacks on Gaza mounted to 43 people, including 15 children. Moreover, some 311 residents in Gaza have been injured in the new wave of Zionist attacks so far.

    Some news sources have reported that Gaza and the Zionist regime have agreed upon a ceasefire to be announced at 23:30 local time on Monday, which was mediated by Egypt.

    Source: Agencies

    US Approves Massive Weapons Sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE

    August 3, 2022

    By Staff, Agencies

    The United States has approved massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates worth more than $5 billion, amid criticism of their ongoing military aggression in Yemen which has inflicted heavy civilian casualties.

    The notice of approval came on Tuesday, two weeks after US President Joe Biden made a controversial trip to Saudi Arabia and met with Saudi leaders in an effort to reset strained relations with Riyadh.

    The State Department said Saudi Arabia would buy 300 Patriot MIM-104E missile systems and related equipment for an estimated $3.05 billion. The missile systems can be used to shoot long-range incoming ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as fighter jets.

    “This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a partner country that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Gulf region,” the State Department said in a statement.

    “The proposed sale will improve the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet current and future threats by replenishing its dwindling stock of PATRIOT GEM-T missiles,” it added.

    Separately, the United States will sell Terminal High Altitude Area Defense [THAAD] System Missiles and related equipment to the UAE for $2.25 billion.

    “This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of an important regional partner. The UAE is a vital US partner for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” the State Department said.

    Although Tuesday’s approvals are for defensive weapons, they may still draw opposition in Congress, where lawmakers backed the Biden administration’s decision last year to ban US sales of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE because of their actions in Yemen.

    The Biden administration is also considering lifting its ban on US sales of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia.

    Since the beginning of the war in 2015, the use of US weapons by the Saudi-led coalition in airstrikes on civilian targets in Yemen has been well documented.

    As a candidate, Biden had vowed to make the Saudi kingdom a “pariah” on the global stage over the war in Yemen as well as the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist and political dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

    Soon after taking office, Biden appeared to be delivering on the promise, when he declared in February 2021 a halt to US support for the Saudi military operations in Yemen, including “relevant arms sales.”

    His administration also released US intelligence findings that concluded Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] personally approved the operation targeting Khashoggi.

    Biden, however, has softened his approach in recent months, moving to improve US relations with Saudi Arabia in the hope of getting the world’s top oil exporter to increase oil production in order to offset loss of Russian supplies to the global market and drive down gasoline prices at home.

    MBS: Despot in The Desert

    July 31, 2022 

    Nicolas Pelham- The Economist

    No one wanted to play football with Muhammad bin Salman. Sure, the boy was a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, but so were 15,000 other people. His classmates preferred the company of his cousins, who were higher up the assumed order of succession, a childhood acquaintance recalls. As for the isolated child who would one day become crown prince, a family friend recounts hearing him called “little Saddam”.

    Home life was tricky for bin Salman, too (he is now more commonly known by his initials, [MBS]. His father, Salman, already had five sons with his first wife, an educated woman from an elite urban family. MBS’s mother, Salman’s third wife, was a tribeswoman. When MBS visited the palace where his father lived with his first wife, his older half-brothers mocked him as the “son of a Bedouin”. Later, his elder brothers and cousins were sent to universities in America and Britain. The Bedouin offspring of Prince Salman stayed in Riyadh to attend King Saud University.

    As young adults, the royals sometimes cruised on superyachts together; MBS was reportedly treated like an errand boy, sent onshore to buy cigarettes. A photo from one of these holidays shows a group of 16 royals posing on a yacht-deck in shorts and sunglasses, the hills of the French Riviera behind them. In the middle is MBS’s cousin, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire investor dubbed “the Arabian Warren Buffett”. MBS, tall and broad-shouldered in a white t-shirt, is pushed to the farthest edge.

    Fast forward to today, and MB has moved to the center of the frame, the most important decision-maker in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy but MBS’s 86-year-old father, though nominally head of state, is rarely seen in public anymore. It has been clear for several years that MBS is in charge. “In effect,” a former Saudi intelligence agent told me, “King Salman is no longer king.”

    At first glance the 36-year-old prince looks like the ruler many young Saudis had been waiting for, closer in age to his people than any previous king – 70% of the Saudi population is under 30. The millennial autocrat is said to be fanatical about the video game “Call of Duty”: he blasts through the inertia and privileges of the mosque and royal court as though he were fighting virtual opponents on screen.

    His restless impatience and disdain for convention have helped him push through reforms that many thoughts wouldn’t happen for generations. The most visible transformation of Saudi Arabia is the presence of women in public where once they were either absent or closely guarded by their husband or father. There are other changes, too. Previously, the kingdom offered few diversions besides praying at the mosque; today you can watch Justin Bieber in concert, sing karaoke or go to a Formula 1 race. A few months ago, I even went to a rave in a hotel….

    But embracing Western consumer culture doesn’t mean embracing Western democratic values: it can as easily support a distinctively modern, surveillance state. On my recent trips to Saudi Arabia, people from all levels of society seemed terrified about being overheard voicing disrespect or criticism, something I’d never seen there before. “I’ve survived four kings,” said a veteran analyst who refused to speculate about why much of Jeddah, the country’s second-largest city, is being bulldozed: “Let me survive a fifth.”

    The West, beguiled by promises of change and dependent on Saudi oil, at first seemed prepared to ignore MBS’s excesses. Then, in late 2018, Saudi officials in Istanbul murdered a Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, and dismembered his body with a bone saw. Even the most pro-Saudi leaders turned away.

    …. After Putin invaded Ukraine in February, the price of crude shot up. Boris Johnson was on a plane within weeks. Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, previously a sworn enemy of the crown prince, embraced MBS in Riyadh in April. War even forced America’s president into a humiliating climbdown. On the campaign trail in 2020 Joe Biden had vowed to turn Saudi Arabia into a “pariah”. But on July 15th he went to make his peace with MBS– trying to avoid shaking MBS’s hand, he instead opted for a fist bump that left the two looking all the chummier. Even critics at home acknowledged MBs’s victory. “He made Biden look weak,” said a Saudi columnist in Jeddah. “He stood up to a superpower and won before the world.”

    For MBS, this is a moment of triumph. His journey from the fringe of a photograph to the heart of power is almost complete. He will probably be king for decades. During that time, his country’s oil will be needed to sate the world’s enduring demand for energy.

    A kingdom where the word of one man counts for so much depends utterly on his character. The hope is that, with his position secure, MBS will forswear the vengefulness and intolerance that produced Khashoggi’s murder. But some, among them his childhood classmates, fear something darker. They are reminded of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, a one-time modernizer who became so addicted to accumulating power that he turned reckless and dangerous. “At first power bestows grandeur,” a former Western intelligence officer told me, of MBS. “But then comes the loneliness, suspicion and fear that others will try to grab what you grabbed.”

    During the early years of MBS’s ascent, I was vaguely aware of him as one prince among many. I probably wouldn’t have paid him much attention if an old contact of mine hadn’t joined his staff. His new boss, my contact said, was serious about shaking things up. He arranged the meeting at a faux-ancient mud-brick village on the outskirts of Riyadh in 2016. As my Economist colleagues and I approached, the gates of MBS’s compound suddenly slid open, like a Bond-villain’s lair. In the inner chamber sat MBS.

    Reform has often been promised in Saudi Arabia – usually in response to American hectoring – but successive kings lacked the mettle to push change through. When the Al-Saud conquered Arabia in the 1920s, they made an alliance with an ultra-conservative religious group called the Wahhabis. In 1979, after a group of religious extremists staged a brief armed takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the Al-Saud decided to make the kingdom more devout to fend off a possible Islamic revolution, as had just happened in Iran. Wahhabi clerics were empowered to run society as they saw fit.

    The Wahhabis exercised control through the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, otherwise known as the religious police. They whacked the ankles of women whose hair poked through their veil and lashed the legs of men who wore shorts. The arrangement suited the House of Saud. Wahhabism provided social control and gave legitimacy to the Saudi state, leaving the royals free to enjoy their oil wealth in the more permissive environments of London and Paris, or behind the gates of their palaces.

    I’m loth to admit it now, but as the prince talked in Riyadh about his plans to modernize society and the economy, I was impressed by his enthusiasm, vision and command of the details. He gave what turned out to be accurate answers about how and when his reforms would happen. Though he was not yet crown prince, he frequently referred to Saudi Arabia as “my” country. We arrived at around 9pm. At 2am, MBS was still in full flow.

    MBS was affable, self-assured, smiling. His advisers were more subdued. If they spoke at all, it was to robotically repeat their master’s lines. Yet when MBS left the room to take a call, they started chatting animatedly. As the prince re-entered, silence fell.

    Like many in those early years, I was excited about what MBS might do for the kingdom. When I returned to the capital a few months later I saw a number of men wearing shorts. I kept looking over my shoulder for the religious police, but none came – they had been stripped of their powers of arrest.

    As crown prince, MBS introduced a code of law so that judicial sentencing accords with state guidelines, not a judge’s own interpretation of the Koran. He criminalized stoning to death and forced marriage. The most overt change involved the role of women. MBS attacked guardianship laws that prevented women from working, travelling, owning a passport, opening a business, having hospital treatment or divorcing without approval from a male relative. In practice, many Saudi women have found these new rights hard to claim in a patriarchal society, and men can still file claims of disobedience against female relatives. But MBS’s reforms were more than cosmetic. Some clerics were jailed; the rest soon fell into line.

    For foreigners, Riyadh is less forbidding these days. “I’m afraid I’ll be caught for not drinking,” a teetotal businessman told me. “There’s cocaine, alcohol and hookers like I haven’t seen in southern California,” says another party-goer. “It’s really heavy-duty stuff”.

    When MBS first entered public life, he had a reputation for being as strait-laced as his father, rare among royals. That quickly changed. Many of the people interviewed for this article said that they believe MBS frequently uses drugs, which he denies. A court insider says that in 2015 his friends decided that he needed some r&r on an island in the Maldives. According to investigative journalists Bradley Hope and Justin Scheck in their book “Blood and Oil”, 150 models were recruited to join the gathering and were then shuttled “by golf cart to a medical center to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases”. Several international music stars were flown in, including Afrojack, a Dutch dj. Then the press blew MBS cover.

    Thereafter, the prince preferred to unwind off the Red Sea coast. At weekends his entourage formed a flotilla by mooring their yachts around his, Serene, which has a driving range and a cinema. According to a former official, “dj MBS”, as his friends called him, would spin the discs wearing his trademark cowboy hat. The yacht is only one of the luxuries MBS has splurged on. He also bought a £230m ersatz French chateau near Versailles, built in 2008 (the meditation room doubles as an aquarium). He is said to have boasted that he wanted to be the first trillionaire.

    We put these and other allegations in this article to MBS’s representatives. Through the Saudi embassy in London, they issued a broad denial, saying “the allegations are denied and are without foundation.”

    MBS’s loosening of social mores reflects the values of many of his youthful peers, in Saudi and beyond – as does his taste for the flashier side of life. Yet despite the social revolution, the prince is no keener than Wahhabi clerics on letting people think for themselves. Shortly before lifting a ban on women driving in 2018, MBS’s officials imprisoned Loujain al-Hathloul, one of the leaders of the campaign for women’s rights. Her family say jailers waterboarded and electrocuted her, and that Saud al-Qahtani, one of MBS’s closest advisers, was present during her torment and threatened to rape her. [A un investigation found reasonable grounds to believe that Qahtani was involved in the torture of female activists. Qahtani allegedly told one of these women: “I’ll do whatever I like to you, and then I’ll dissolve you and flush you down the toilet.”] Hathloul was charged with inciting change to the ruling system. The message was clear: only one person was allowed to do that.

    MBS is ruthlessly ambitious – he reportedly loved reading about Alexander the Great as a teenager – but he also owes his rise to some extraordinary twists of fortune. Succession can be an unpredictable affair in Saudi Arabia. The monarchy is only two generations old, founded in 1932, and the crown has so far moved from brother to brother among the founding ruler’s sons. That has become harder as the prospective heirs age. MBS’s father wasn’t tipped to be king, but after his two older brothers died unexpectedly in 2011 and 2012, he was catapulted up the line of succession.

    When Salman became the heir-designate aged 76, he needed a chief of staff. Most courtiers expected him to choose one of the suave, English-speaking children of his first wife. Instead he appointed a son who spoke Arabic with a guttural Bedouin accent. [MBS has learned English fast since then: when we met in 2016 he sometimes corrected his translator.]

    The choice to elevate MBS was less surprising to those who knew his father well. Salman had dedicated himself to his job as governor of Riyadh rather than chasing more lucrative commissions, and was a stickler for 8am starts, even in his 70s. He was known as the family disciplinarian, not averse to giving wayward royals a thwack with his walking stick or even a spell in his private prison. He clearly saw something of himself in his sixth son. MBS might love video games, but he was also a hard worker and keen to advance.

    MBS put few limits on what he was prepared to do to achieve control. He earned the nickname Abu Rasasa – father of the bullet – after widespread rumors that he sent a bullet in the post to an official who ruled against him in a land dispute [Saudi officials have previously denied this rumor]. He was fearsome in private, too. “There are these terrible tempers, smashing up offices, trashing the palace,” says a source with palace connections. “He’s extremely violent.” Several associates describe him as having wild mood swings. Two former palace insiders say that, during an argument with his mother, he once sprayed her ceiling with bullets. According to multiple sources and news reports, he has locked his mother away.

    It’s hard to say how many wives he has; officially, there’s just one, a glamorous princess called Sara bint Mashour, but courtiers say he has at least one more. MBS presents his family life as normal and happy: earlier this year he told the Atlantic magazine that he eats breakfast with his children each morning [he has three boys and two girls, according to Gulf News – the eldest is said to be 11]. One diplomat spoke of MBS’s kindness to his wife. But other sources inside the royal circle say that, on at least one occasion, Princess Sara was so badly beaten by her husband that she had to seek medical treatment.

    We put this and other allegations in this piece to MBS’s representatives, who described them as “plain fabrication”, adding that “the kingdom is unfortunately used to false allegations made against its leadership, usually based on politically [or other] motivated malicious sources, particularly discredited individuals who have a long record of fabrications and baseless claims.”

    MBS finally got a taste of political power in 2015 when Salman became king. Salman appointed his son deputy crown prince and minister of defense. One of MBS’s first moves was to launch a war in neighboring Yemen. Even America, the kingdom’s closest military ally, was told only at the last minute.

    There was an obvious obstacle in MBS’s path to the throne: his cousin, the 57-year-old heir-designate, Muhammad bin Nayef. Bin Nayef was the intelligence chief and the kingdom’s main interlocutor with the CIA. He was widely credited with stamping out al-Qaeda in Saudi after 9/11. In June 2017 bin Nayef was summoned to meet the elderly king at his palace in Mecca.

    The story of what happened next has emerged from press reports and my interviews. It seems that bin Nayef arrived by helicopter and took the lift to the fourth floor. Instead of the monarch, MBS’sagents were waiting. Bin Nayef was stripped of his weapons and phone, and told that a royal council had dismissed him. He was left alone to consider his options. Seven hours later, a court videographer filmed the charade of MBS kissing his cousin, then accepting his abdication as crown prince. King Salman kept a back seat throughout. Bin Nayef is now in detention [his uncle, who also had a claim to the throne, apparently intervened to try and protect bin Nayef, but was himself later detained]. The staged resignation – an old trick of Saddam Hussein’s – would become MBS’s signature move.

    That was just the warm-up act. In October 2017 MBS hosted an international investment conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh. At “Davos in the desert”, the likes of Christine Lagarde, Son Masayoshi and other business glitterati listened to MBS’s pitch for Saudi Arabia’s post-oil future, including the construction of Neom, a new $500bn “smart city”. The event was a hit. Diplomatic grumblings about the war in Yemen or the fate of America’s security partner, Muhammad bin Nayef, faded.

    The gathering was also an opportunity to invite back royals who were often abroad. Once the foreigners had left, MBS pounced. Hundreds of princes and businessmen were swept up. According to a biography of MBS by Ben Hubbard, a New York Times journalist, one of them realized something was amiss only when they got to their hotel room: there were no pens, razors or glasses – nothing that could be used as a weapon.

    MBS held the detainees in the Ritz-Carlton for several weeks [the Marriott and other hotels were also commandeered to house the overflow]. Prisoners’ phones were confiscated. Some were said to have been hooded, deprived of sleep and beaten until they agreed to transfer money and hand over an inventory of their assets. All told, MBS’s guests at the Ritz-Carlton coughed up about $100bn.

    Even royals previously thought untouchable, such as the powerful prince who ran the national guard, got similar treatment. Princess Basma, the youngest child of the second king of Saudi Arabia, was jailed for three years without charge or access to a lawyer; after being released she still had to wear an electronic ankle bracelet, according to a close associate of hers.

    The crushing of the royals and business elite was billed as a crackdown on corruption – and undoubtedly it netted many corruptly acquired assets, which MBS said would be returned to the Saudi treasury. The methods, however, looked more like something from a gangster film than a judicial procedure.

    Interrogations were overseen by Saud al-Qahtani, who reported directly to MBS whenever a detainee broke and gave out their bank details. [All the allegations in this piece concerning Qahtani were put to him via his lawyer. No response was given.] Qahtani had installed himself as one of MBS’s favored henchmen, though earlier in his career, he’d plotted against Salman and his son, trying to sideline them with rumors that Salman had dementia. Qahtani was so loyal to the former faction that he’d named his son after his then boss. According to a former courtier, on the day of the old king’s funeral the two men had it out: MBS slapped Qahtani in the face. Later, MBS let Qahtani prove his worth and brought him on to his staff. Qahtani duly named his younger son Muhammad.

    On paper, Qahtani was a communications adviser, a former journalist who understood Twitter and used an army of bots and loyal followers to intimidate critics on social media [his office included giant screens and holograms that staff used for target-practice with laser guns]. In practice he was entrusted with MBS’s most important and violent missions – the ones that established his grip on power.

    His remit extended far beyond Saudi’s borders. In 2016 he kidnapped Prince Sultan, a minor royal who had been bad-mouthing MBS. MBS offered his jet to fly Sultan from Paris to Cairo – instead, the plane was diverted to Saudi Arabia. According to Hope’s and Scheck’s book, Qahtani posed as Captain Saud, an airline pilot, though surprisingly one who had an expensive Hublot watch.

    Even people who have nothing to do with politics have become afraid to speak near a functioning mobile phone

    With rendition strategies like this, and the cash tap shut off, even royals who weren’t inside the Ritz-Carlton felt the pressure to divest themselves of ostentatious assets. The father of the Saudi ambassador to Britain put Glympton Park, his beloved 2,000-acre estate in the Cotswolds, up for sale. Riyadh’s jewellers did a roaring trade pawning the diamonds of lesser royals. “It’s like the Romanovs selling their Fabergé eggs,” said an adviser to an auction house.

    Many commoners rejoiced at the downfall of their entitled elite. Princes and princesses who once lived off huge handouts began looking for jobs. Their titles became irrelevant. Unable to afford the cost of irrigation, their green ranches became desert again. Banks turned them away. One financial adviser recalled his response to princes trying to get credit on the strength of their royal status: “You call yourselves princes, but they say there’s only one prince now.”

    The Ritz-Carlton episode was just one element of an extraordinary project of centralization. MBS yanked control of various security services back from the princes. He took charge of Aramco, the semi-autonomous state oil company. He installed himself as boss of the sovereign-wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund. “He destroyed all the powerful families,” says a retired diplomat. By late 2017, law, money and security in Saudi all flowed directly from him.

    Among those who lost out were the fellow princes who had pushed a young MBS to the edge of the family photo on the yacht all those years ago. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, in the center of that shot, surrendered part of his $17bn wealth. As the shakedown widened, MBS’s elder half-siblings put up their yacht for sale. Many of his cousins were locked up. “Payback time,” one victim said.

    While MBS was squeezing the elite at home, he was forging some important friendships abroad.

    MBS and Donald Trump, who was elected president in 2016, had a lot in common. Both had the hunger of the underdog and loathed the snooty policymaking establishments in their countries; they reveled in provocation. The historic compact, by which Saudi Arabia provided oil to American consumers and America guaranteed the country’s security, had frayed in recent years. Barack Obama’s hurried exit from Iraq in 2011 and his nuclear deal with Iran in 2015 had left Saudi Arabia worried that it could no longer rely on American protection. America’s development of its own shale-oil reserves had also reduced its dependence on Saudi oil. Then Trump and MBS got cozy.

    With the Trump administration’s tacit [and sometimes explicit] support, MBS set about treating the entire Middle East much as he did Saudi Arabia, trying to push aside rulers whom he found to be inconvenient. He announced a blockade of Qatar, a tiny gas-rich state to the east of Saudi Arabia. In 2017, angered by Lebanon’s dealings with Iran, MBS invited the prime minister, Saad Hariri, a long-time beneficiary of Saudi patronage, on a starlit camping trip. Hariri turned up, had his phone confiscated and soon found himself reading out a resignation speech on tv.

    Both moves ultimately backfired. But Trump’s Middle East adviser, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, did little to discourage such antics. Together, he and MBS dreamt up a new regional order over WhatsApp, calling each other “Jared” and “Muhammad”. Their rapport was so great that, at Kushner’s prompting, MBS started the process of recognizing “Israel”. His father, still officially king, put a stop to that.

    MBS visited America in March 2018, hanging out in Silicon Valley with Peter Thiel and Tim Cook, and meeting celebrities, including Rupert Murdoch, James Cameron and Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson. Many people were keen to meet the man who controlled a $230bn sovereign-wealth fund. To his frustration, they were less willing to reciprocate by investing in the kingdom.

    That October the intercontinental bonhomie came to an abrupt halt. I was due to go to a conference in Turkey that month. A Saudi journalist I knew, Jamal Khashoggi, got in touch to suggest meeting up: he was also going to be in Istanbul, for an appointment at the consulate. Khashoggi was a court insider whose criticisms of MBS in the Washington Post and elsewhere had attracted much attention. He seemed to be making more effort than usual to stay in touch. While I was at the conference a friend of his phoned me: Jamal still hadn’t emerged from the consulate, he said. By the time I got there, Turkish police were cordoning off the building.

    The full story soon came out in leaked intelligence reports and, later, a un inquiry. A Saudi hit squad, which reportedly coordinated with Saud al-Qahtani, had flown to Istanbul. As they waited for Khashoggi to enter the consulate, they discussed plans for dismembering his body. According to tapes recorded inside the consulate by Turkish intelligence, Khashoggi was told, “We’re coming to get you.” There was a struggle, followed by the sound of plastic sheets being wrapped. A CIA report said that MBS approved the operation.

    MBS has said he takes responsibility for the murder, but denies ordering it. He sacked Qahtani and another official implicated in the intelligence reports. The fallout was immediate. Companies and speakers pulled out of that year’s Davos in the desert; the Gates Foundation ended its partnership with Misk, an artistic and educational charity set up by the prince. Ari Emanuel, a Hollywood agent, cancelled a $400m deal with the kingdom.

    The crown prince seems to have been genuinely surprised at the animus – “disappointed”, says an associate. Hadn’t he committed to all the reforms the West had been asking for? Perhaps he had underestimated the outcry provoked by going after a well-connected international figure, as opposed to a royal unknown outside Saudi Arabia. Or perhaps he understood Western governments’ priorities better than they did themselves. They had done little when Muhammad bin Nayef, their partner in battling terrorism, had disappeared; they had shrugged at reports of torture in the Ritz-Carlton, and at MBS’s reckless bombardment of Yemen. Why did they have so much to say about the killing of a single journalist?

    Three years after the Khashoggi killing, Davos in the desert opened with the singer Gloria Gaynor. As images of smiling children flashed up on a giant screen behind her, she broke into her disco anthem, “I Will Survive”, asking the audience: “Did you think I’d crumble? Did you think I’d lay down and die?”

    The chief executives of private-equity giants BlackRock and Blackstone were back, as were the heads of Goldman Sachs, SocGen and Standard Chartered. Even Amazon sent a representative despite the fact that its boss, Jeff Bezos, owns the Washington Post, the paper that employed Khashoggi. Meanwhile, Qahtani was creeping back into favor at the royal court – although he had been implicated by the un for Khashoggi’s murder, a Saudi court took the decision not to charge him.

    MBS revitalized the near-dormant sovereign-wealth fund, pumping tens of billions of dollars into tech, entertainment and sports, to create a softer, more appealing image of Saudi and co-opt new partners. In April 2020, the fund led a consortium to buy Newcastle United, a premier-league football team [the deal took 18 months]. The following year it launched an audacious bid to create Saudi’s own golf tour, the LIV series, hoping to lure players with a prize pot of $255m, far larger than that of American tournaments. At the first LIV tour this year, some top players boycotted the event, others went for the cash.

    Joe Biden has proved tougher to woo. Soon after becoming president, Biden withdrew American military support for the war in Yemen. He wouldn’t talk to MBS, insisting that communications go through King Salman instead. He didn’t even nominate an ambassador to Riyadh for 15 months. The chat everywhere was that Saudi-American relations were in a deep freeze. Then, in February 2022, MBS had a stroke of luck: Russia invaded Ukraine.

    In the days after war broke out, Biden himself tried to call MBS. The crown prince declined to speak to the president. He did take Putin’s call, however. The two men were already close. MBS had personally brought Russia into an expanded version of the OPEC cartel in order for Saudi Arabia to keep control of global oil production. Putin cemented the friendship in 2018 at the g20 summit in Buenos Aires, which took place weeks after the Khashoggi killing. While Western leaders shunned MBS, Putin gave the Saudi ruler a high-five before sitting down next to him.

    MBS’s defiance of America seems to have paid off. After months of evasion, Biden reluctantly agreed to meet MBS in Jeddah in July, on the prince’s own turf and his own terms. The visit gave MBS recognition but did little to rebuild relations. There wasn’t even a concrete assurance of increasing oil production.

    Some in the American foreign-policy establishment remain hopeful that MBS could become a helpful partner in the region, pointing to his recent retreat from confrontation with Qatar and his eagerness to find a diplomatic exit from Yemen. Perhaps, they say, he is maturing as a leader.

    This seems optimistic. MBS’s disastrous campaign in Yemen was ostensibly in support of the country’s president but in April, hours after being summoned to a meeting and offered Arabic coffee and dates, Yemen’s president was reading out a resignation speech on tv. MBS took it upon himself to get rid of him personally – suggesting that his mode of international diplomacy remains as high-handed as ever. “What they’ve learned”, says one foreign analyst, “is don’t murder journalists who dine regularly with congressmen in the United States.”

    The West has taught MBS something else, too – something that autocrats the world over may draw comfort from. No matter the sin, they would argue, if you sit tight through the odium and fury, eventually the financiers, the celebrities, even the Western leaders, will come running back. At 36, MBS has time on his side. Some observers fear that he may become only more dangerous as oil reserves start to decline and the treasure trove shrinks. “What happens when he’s a middle-aged man ruling a middle-income country and starts to get bored?” asks a diplomat who knows MBS personally. “Will he go on more adventures?”

    Earlier this year, I visited an old friend in his office in Saudi Arabia. Before we started talking, he put his phone in a pouch that blocks the signal, to prevent government spies from listening in. Dissidents do that kind of thing in police states like China, but I’d never seen it before in Saudi Arabia. It isn’t just people involved with politics who are taking such precautions: most Saudis have become afraid to speak near a functioning mobile phone. People used to talk fairly openly in their offices, homes and cafés. Now, they are picked up for almost nothing.

    As we chatted over the whir of his office air conditioning, my friend reeled off a list of people he knew who had been detained in the past month: a retired air-force chief who died in prison, a hospital administrator hauled away from his desk, a mother taken in front of her seven children, a lawyer who died seven days after his release from prison. “These people aren’t rabble rousers,” my friend said. “No one understands why.”

    Officially, the government says it has no political prisoners. Rights groups reckon that thousands have been swept up in MBS’s dragnet. I’ve covered the Middle East since the 1990s and can’t think of anywhere where so many of my own contacts are behind bars.

    Few ordinary Saudis predicted that when MBS was done trampling on the elites and the clerics, he would come for them next. Bringing Saudis into the modern, networked, online world has made it easier for the state to monitor what they are saying. A Red Crescent employee called Abdulrahman al-Sadhan used to run a satirical Twitter account under a pseudonym. In 2018 MBS’s agents arrested him and held him incommunicado for two years. American prosecutors later charged two former Twitter employees with allegedly handing over the real names behind various accounts to a Saudi official – al-Sadhan’s family believes that his name was among them. [The trial of one employee is ongoing; he denies passing on information to Saudi officials.]

    On the face of it, MBS has nothing to worry about. Public opinion polls – if they can be trusted – suggest he is popular, particularly with younger Saudis. But there is a growing sense that discontent is brewing beneath the surface. MBS has broken crucial social contracts with the Saudi populace, by reducing handouts while, at the same time, dispensing with the tradition of hearing the feedback of ordinary people after Friday prayers.

    It isn’t hard to imagine some of the issues they’d raise if they had the chance. Many people are struggling as the cost of living rises. When other governments were cushioning their citizens during the pandemic, MBS slashed fuel subsidies and tripled vat. Unable to afford the cost of pumping water, some farmers left crops to wither in the field. Fees for permits and fines have spiraled, too. Though MBS speaks eloquently about the country’s youth, he is struggling to find them jobs. Unemployment remains stubbornly stuck in double digits. Half of the jobless have a university degree, but most white-collar workers I met on MBS’s mega-projects were foreign.

    Saudi Arabia’s attempts to diversify its economy – and so compensate for the long-term decline of oil reserves – isn’t going well either. The pandemic delayed plans for a rapid increase in international tourism. Extorting billions of dollars from your relatives may not be the best way to convince investors that the kingdom is a liberal haven.

    The young prince has reversed even the baby steps towards democracy taken by previous kings. Municipal elections have been suspended – as a cost-cutting exercise, explains the supine press. The Shura Council, a consultative body of 150 people, has only met online since the pandemic [other institutions have gathered in person for months]. “I wish I had more of a voice,” said one member. Whenever I mentioned the prince, his leg twitched.

    A frequent visitor to the royal court says MBS now gives the impression of someone who’s always thinking that people are plotting against him. He seems to be preoccupied with loyalty. He fills key posts either with young royals, foreigners with no local base to threaten him or people he has already broken. A government minister, Ibrahim Assaf, was one of those locked up in the Ritz-Carlton – two months later MBS sent him to the World Economic Forum as his representative. A senior executive on one of his construction projects is someone who says he was tortured in one of his prisons. “He went from being strung naked from his ankles, beaten and stripped of all his assets to a high-level project manager,” says a close acquaintance of the man.

    All remain vulnerable to MBS’s tantrums. Saudi sources say he once locked a minister in a toilet for ten hours. [The minister later appeared on tv blabbering platitudes about the prince’s wisdom.] A senior official I’ve spoken to says he wants out. “Everyone in his circle is terrified of him,” says an insider. And that could make it hard for him to govern a country of 35m people effectively. Former courtiers say no one close to MBS is prepared to offer a truthful assessment of whether his increasingly grandiose schemes are viable. “Saying no”, says one, “is not something they will ever do.”

    If MBS has a mission beyond extending his power, you might expect to find it in Neom, the city he promised to build in the desert. Neom would be nothing less than “a civilizational leap for humanity”, he said in 2017. Head-spinning details followed. The city’s food would be grown on hydroponic walls on a floating structure. It would be powered by the world’s largest green-hydrogen plant. Thousands of snow-blowers would create a ski resort on a nearby mountain. One day it would have driverless cars and passenger drones.

    According to the official timetable, the main city would be completed by 2020. Further districts would be added by 2025. The prince’s tourism minister, Ahmed al-Khateeb, dismissed rumors that the timetable was proving over-ambitious. “Come see with your eyes and not with your ears,” he urged. So, I went.

    Finding Neom was the first problem. There were no road signs to it. After three hours’ drive we came to the spot indicated by the map. It was bare, but for the odd fig tree. Camels strolled across the empty highway. Piles of rubble lined the road, remnants of the town bulldozed to make way for the mighty metropolis.

    The designated area is nearly the size of Belgium. As far as I could tell, only two projects had been completed, MBS’s palace, and something Google Earth calls “The Neom Experience Centre” [when I drove to see it, it was obscured by a prefabricated hut]. The only other solid building I could see was a hotel constructed before Neom was conceived: The Royal Tulip. A poster in the lobby urged me to “Discover Neom”. But when I asked for a guide the hotel manager cursed my sister with Arabic vulgarities and tried to shoo me away. There was no sign of the media hub with “frictionless facilitation”, “advanced infrastructure” and “collaborative ecosystems” promised by the Neom website. Neom’s head of communications and media, Wayne Borg, said he was “out of Kingdom at present”.

    The hotel restaurant was teeming with consultants – all the ones I met were foreign. I later found a Saudi project manager. “We think we’re about to start working, but every two months the consultants coin a new plan,” he told me. “They’re still doing plans of plans.” There was a kind of manic short-termism among these foreigners. Many were paid $40,000 a month, plus handsome bonuses. “It’s like riding a bull,” one of the Neom consultants told me. “You know you’re gonna fall, that no one can last on a bull longer than a minute and a half, two minutes, so you make the most of it.”

    Despite the high salaries, there are reports that foreigners are leaving the Neom project because they find the gap between expectations and reality so stressful. The head of Neom is said by his friends to be “terrified” at the lack of progress.

    Eventually, I found a retired Saudi air-force technician who offered to drive me around the city for $600. He took me to a sculpture standing in the desert with the words, “I love Neom”. A short way farther on we found a new stretch of tarmac, said to mark the edge of the dream city. Beyond it, the lone and level sands stretched far away.

    Is Russia a Terror State?

    July 25, 2022

    Note: our “friends” from Commentary Magazine show their true agenda 🙂  It is quite comical to see US Zionists pointing fingers are others for “terrorism” when the USA is by far the biggest supporter and user or terrorists organizations on the planet, from Gladio to al-Qaeda…
    Andrei
    *******

    Is Russia a Terror State?
    by Noah Rothman

    source: https://www.commentary.org/noah-rothman/is-russia-a-terror-state/

    “The security situation throughout Ukraine continues to be violent and unpredictable due to ongoing military attacks by Russia,” the U.S. State Department warned on July 14. “Avoid large gatherings and organized events as they may serve as Russian military targets anywhere in Ukraine, including its western regions.” This was not the first time the American diplomatic mission in Kyiv warned civilians to avoid “gatherings and organized events,” but the atrocity that forced State to reissue this alert was horrific enough to take the admonition seriously.

    Earlier that day, Russia fired three submarine-launched cruise missiles at targets in the Western Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia, though it is unclear what the intended targets might have been. Those missiles fell on a populated shopping center, a dance studio, and a wedding venue, instantly killing 23 and wounding another 71 while burying scores more beneath the rubble. Some speculated that Russia’s intended target was a Ukrainian officer’s club, but the dubious military value of that target and the likelihood of collateral damage given the density of the city around it don’t do much to absolve Russia. Indeed, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that collateral damage is deliberate and that terrorizing the Ukrainian public is the desired outcome.

    If the United States has concluded that Moscow is deliberately targeting civilian “gatherings,” that should make academic any debate over whether to deem Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. And yet, the debate rages on.

    According to Politico last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued an ultimatum to Secretary of State Antony Blinken: Either you label Russia a terror state, or we will. Resolutions that would brand Moscow a terrorist actor have been circulating in both federal legislative chambers since the spring, but Congress has not acted in deference to the Biden White House. Pelosi said the designation is “long overdue,” but the administration has been dragging its feet. The State Department insists the existing suite of sanctions against Russia is sufficient to isolate Moscow and reduce its capacity to project force in Ukraine. Additionally, the “secondary” sanctions a terrorism designation would trigger against nations and individuals with business ties to Russia could perversely weaken the existing sanctions regime.

    “The sanctions we have in place and have taken are the same steps that would be entailed by the designation of a state sponsor of terrorism,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price insisted. But given that the State Department is in effect alleging that Moscow is prosecuting a campaign of terror, Congress may not accept this rationale much longer. Indeed, evidence of Russia’s wartime atrocities mounts by the day.

    A Human Rights Watch report published this weekend alleged that Russian forces have engaged in a systematic campaign of torture. Detainees have been electrocuted, burned, and had their ribs and teeth broken. Reporting from occupied areas of Ukraine is replete with allegations of summary executions and forced abductions. Many thousands of Ukrainians have been “evacuated” to Russia where they are re-educated in “filtration camps.” Although Moscow and Kyiv reached a tentative deal to once again allow the export of grain through the country’s Black Sea ports, which would relieve some of the pressure this war has put on global food prices, a Russian cruise missile strike on the port city of Odessa’s shipping infrastructure this weekend calls into question Moscow’s commitment to humanitarianism.

    The U.S. government does not deny that these atrocities are occurring. Indeed, officials warn that the worst is yet to come. Moscow intends to annex into the Russian Federation the territory it presently occupies in Ukraine, at which point it can proceed unmolested toward the goal of this war: breaking and eliminating the very idea of a Ukrainian identity.

    Meanwhile, Russia proper has become intensely repressive and militaristic. Any expression of dissent against the war in Ukraine has been criminalized. Academics and journalists have been arrested. The number of “foreign agents” subject to punitive legal measures has exploded. Ominously, Jewish organizations can now count themselves among the many “foreign agents” Russia seems set on persecuting. “Multiple Jewish organizations in Russia have received threatening letters in recent weeks from the Russian Justice Ministry regarding their work,” the Jerusalem Post reported. The writing on the wall is legible from orbit.

    The Biden administration has valid reasons for wanting to avoid the complications that would follow designating Russia a terrorist state, but Russia’s terroristic actions are rendering the White House’s resistance untenable. The administration’s hand may soon be forced. If so, it will be Russia, not Congress or the community of democratic nations, that forced it.

    غاز المتوسط بين غابرييل وجنبلاط ومعادلة المقاومة

     يوليو 19 , 2022

    ناصر قنديل

    ارتباك المشهد السياسي الدولي والإقليمي بعد خطاب الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله، ومعادلته الواضحة والحاسمة بمنع تصدير الغاز من حقول البحر المتوسط ما لم يحصل لبنان على حقوقه كاملة في الترسيم المنصف والتنقيب والاستخراج، وحاول الأميركيون والأوروبيون والإسرائيليون إخفاء الارتباك بالتجاهل العلني والصمت السياسي، بينما شغل الثلاثة المحركات الدبلوماسية بأعلى القدرة الممكنة، لاحتواء التهديدات التي أطلقتها المقاومة في لبنان، عبر السعي للتوصل الى نتيجة تفاو ضية، فصدرت أول إشارة من لقاء الوسيط الأميركي عاموس هوكشتاين مع وزيرة الطاقة في كيان الاحتلال، وتعميم خلاصة تقول بردم بعض الفجوات التفاوضية في ملف التفاوض مع لبنان، وتبع ذلك قيام السفيرة الأميركية بنقل رسائل بالمضمون ذاته من هوكشتاين، ولمزيد من الاطمئنان أجرى هوكشتاين من جدة ولاحقاً من واشنطن اتصالات مباشرة بعدد من المعنيين اللبنانيين الذين يتابعون الملف، ونقل لهم تفاصيل خريطة الطريق التي يعمل عليها، والتي تتضمن زيارته بيروت هذا الأسبوع، كما تتضمن العودة مطلع آب المقبل لمفاوضات الناقورة توخياً لإنهاء الملف بما يرضي لبنان، وما يتيحه ذلك من رفع الحظر عن تنقيب الشركات العالمية عن الغاز والنفط في الحقول اللبنانية والبدء باستخراجه.

    وصل أمس وفد أميركي الى بيروت على خلفية القلق من تهديدات المقاومة التي تربط أمن الطاقة في البحر المتوسط، بنيل لبنان لحقوقه كاملة شاملة للترسيم والتنقيب والاستخراج، وحملت تصريحات صادرة عن رئيس الوفد السفير الأميركي السابق في بيروت ادوارد غابرييل تقول إن أمام لبنان فرصة اذا ضاعت فلن يستطيع لبنان التنقيب عن النفط والغاز قبل عشرين سنة، محذراً من أن الطرف الآخر والمقصود كيان الاحتلال سيقوم بالاستخراج في «مناطقه»، بينما لن يستطيع لبنان فعل ذلك، مضيفاً أن هذه الفرصة لستة أسابيع، سيعني انتهاؤها انتهاء الاهتمام الأميركي بلبنان والمنطقة أمام الاهتمامات الدولية الأشد جذبا للإدارة الأميركية، والكلام الأميركي العنجهيّ المعاكس للحقائق يستحق الرد، فهو يخالف كلام الرئيس الأميركي الذي كسرت معادلات المقاومة مهابة زيارته للمنطقة، وقد جاء يؤكد أن أميركا عادت للمنطقة ولن تتركها للفراغ الذي سيملؤه الروس والصينيون كما قال، فبلسان من جاء يتحدث ويقول، لم نعد مهتمين، أما ثانياً، فإن لبنان بعد معادلة المقاومة لا يستجدي اهتماماً أميركياً بل «إسرائيل» هي التي تفعل، فليذهب ويقول هذا الكلام للإسرائيليين، إنه اذا لم يتم التوصل الى اتفاق خلال ستة اسابيع سقطت الفرصة، لأنها لن تسقط بالنسبة للبنان، واذا لم يصدّق السيد غابرييل فليجرب ويختبر جدية المقاومة في وضع معادلتها قيد التنفيذ بمنع أي استخراج للنفط والغاز من شرق المتوسط. وثالثاً، هل يصدق السفير غابرييل نفسه عندما يقول إن عدم التوصل لاتفاق سيعني ان لبنان لن يستطيع التنقيب لعشرين سنة مقبلة، وإن غيره سيفعل، بينما معادلة المقاومة تقول ببساطة، اذا لم يتمكن لبنان ان يفعل، فلن يتمكن سواه، وليسأل الإسرائيليين من يصدقون، كلامه أم كلام السيد نصرالله؟

    الجدية الأميركية وجدت لساناً آخر عبر عنه النائب السابق وليد جنبلاط، ولكن على غير عادة لم يكن موفقاً، فهو كشف سبب الاهتمام الأميركي الأوروبي ودرجة هذا الاهتمام العالية مخالفاً كلام غابرييل، فيقول إن معادلة المقاومة ربطت لبنان بالحرب الأوكرانية، ويشرح مقصده بالقول إن المقاومة تهدد بمنع توريد الغاز من المتوسط الى أوروبا كبديل عن الغاز والنفط الآتيين من روسيا الى أوروبا، معتبراً ذلك إعلان تموضع الى جانب روسيا في حرب أوكرانيا حيث المواجهة بين روسيا وكل حلف الناتو، لكن كلام جنبلاط تجاهل حقيقة كونه لبنانياً أولاً، يفترض أن ينظر لحاجة الغرب لنفط وغاز المتوسط كفرصة للبنان للحصول على حقوقه، وفق معادلة المقاومة. وهنا أخطأ ثانيا ولكن عامداً متعمداً لأنه يعلم خلفية ومضمون تهديد المقاومة، فتصوير المقاومة كفريق في الحرب بين روسيا والناتو عكس الواقع تماماً، لأن المقاومة لم تقل لن يصدر أحد نفطاً وغازاً من المتوسط ما لم يتم التفاهم مع روسيا، بل قالت إن ذلك مشروط بالتفاهم مع الدولة اللبنانية، ولعل جنبلاط يتذكر أن الدولة اللبنانية وقفت من حرب أوكرانيا على الضفة الأميركيّة بالكامل.

    الواضح من الحرب الإعلامية والسياسية التي تستهدف معادلة المقاومة تهافت منطقها، بعكس مرات كثيرة سابقة، وعجز أصحابها عن صناعة معادلات موازية لمعادلة المقاومة، والسبب يعود إلى أن المقاومة هذه المرة لا تضع معادلاتها في خدمة قضايا وعناوين وطنية يمكن لأحد أخذها إلى انقسامات موالبروثة حول الهوية، فالصورة واضحة للبنانيين، الكارثة قادمة وداهمة ولن ترحم أحداً ولا تستثني أحداً، ولا أمل إلا بثروات النفط والغاز، ولا بديل لنيل لبنان فرصة استثمار هذه الثروات بالرهان على كرم أخلاق غير موجود عند الأميركيين، ولا على نزاهتهم المفقودة كوسيط، كما تقول التجربة المرة لأكاذيب الوعود حول استجرار الكهرباء الأردنية والغاز المصري منذ سنة كاملة، بل على القوة التي تمثلها المقاومة، وعليها فقط.

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    قمة القيصر والإمام وخرائط النصر على الأطلسي

     2022-07-18

    محمد صادق الحسيني

    كلّ الأنظار تتجه الى طهران وتحديداً في نهاية شارع فلسطين حيث مقرّ القائد العام للقوات المسلحة الإيرانية وقائد ثورة المستضعفين الإيرانيين الذين صاروا يشكلون دولة اقليمية عظمى تتشارك معها جيوش محور مقاومة هي الرأس فيه.

    الى هناك تحديداً سيذهب قيصر الشرق الجديد حاملاً معه خرائط المنتصرين على الإرهاب والأطلسي واليانكي الأميركي المنكسر والغارق ومعه رهط من المنهكين والمتساقطين الأوروبيين من البرتغال حتى البلطيق فضلاً عن الامبراطورية التي غابت عنها الشمس تماماً.

    قمة خامنئي ـ بوتين حسب العارفين والمتابعين سترسم خرائط الطاقة والجغرافيا الجديدة وتبلغها لمبعوث المهزومين، حارس مرمى الناتو الجنوبي ـ أردوغان ـ كما يلي:

    أولا:ـ التعاطي مع الزائر التركي ايّ أردوغان على أنه موفد المنكسرين على تخوم الشرق وهو الذي ما وافق أصلاً للقدوم الى طهران (بعد تردّد طويل) إلا بعد امر العمليات الأميركي الذي تمّ إبلاغه إياه من سيده في واشنطن.

    ثانيا: ـ التوافق على آلية مشتركة لإخراج المحتلّ الأميركي من شرق الفرات والتنف واستيعاب أدواته (قسد) في جسم الدولة السورية بعد أن تخلت عنها واشنطن وطالبتها بالبحث عن مصيرها بنفسها.

    ثالثا: ـ التنسيق التام على آلية خروج المحتل التركي من كلّ شبر سوري دون شروط (خاصة بعد تخلي واشنطن عنه وعن خياره العسكري تماماً) ومطالبته التعاطي مع الدولة السورية لاحقاً بموجب اتفاقية أضنة الشهيرة فقط لا غير، وإبلاغه بنفاد الوقت والصبر الاستراتيجي معه.

    رابعا: ـ ضمّه (أيّ تركيا) إنْ تجاوبت الى خرائط الطاقة الجديدة التي سيؤمّنها الروس والإيرانيون بأسعار معقولة للنفط والغاز، لأوروبا وغرب آسيا من تركمانستان حتى البرتغال على قواعد السوق الدولية.

    خامسا:ـ التوافق بشكل واضح وقاطع وصارم على انّ أمن آسيا الوسطى والقوقاز وبحر الخزر والمتوسط إنما هي مهمة التحالف الروسي الإيراني وهما أصحاب التاريخ المشترك في فضاء أوراسيا والشريك الاستراتيجي لانتصار الدولة السورية وحلفائها على الإرهاب في بحر الشام وبرّه والمطلوب من كلّ القوى الدخيلة بما فيها تركيا التخلي عن طموحاتها هناك تماماً.

    سادسا: ـ التوافق على آلية أمن إقليمي مشترك للخليج الفارسي، تكون فيه روسيا والصين شريكاً استراتيجياً للإيرانيين والعرب بانتظار ان يحسم أنصار الله الأمن في البحر الأحمر وخليج عدن وباب المندب لصالحهم وصالح محور المقاومة ليكونوا القطب الوليد الأهمّ لأمن البحار والمحيط الهندي هناك.

    سابعا: ـ دعوة أوروبا للخروج من عبادة أميركا، والتحرّر مما هم فيه من انقياد لواشنطن في أمن الطاقة ما يجعلهم منفعلين وخاسرين في كلّ المعادلات، والبدء بالتدرّج في العودة الى قوانين السوق التقليدية مع أقطاب الشرق الجديد لأخذ دورهم التقليدي المستقلّ.

    ثامنا:ـ وضع بوتين حليفه الإيراني بنتائج النصر الكبير على الأطلسيين في أوكرانيا وشروط روسيا الصارمة والحازمة حول شكل الحلّ السياسي المرتقب والذي جوهره نزع سلاح كامل لأوكرانيا وحياد كامل، وتقديم أوروبا وأميركا ضمانات لروسيا بعدم ممارسة ايّ نشاط أطلسي جديد من البلطيق حتى أوروبا الشرقية، والتدرّج بالخروج من فناء منظمة وارسو والعودة بالناتو الى توافقات ١٩٩٧ بين الغرب والاتحاد السوفياتي.

    ايّ تمنّع لأردوغان عن قبول هذه المعادلات الجديدة او محاولة التمنّع عن تسلّم شروطها الشديدة الصرامة (وهو الذي تبلغها سلفاً من الروسي والإيراني قبل وصوله إلى طهران) من خلال مغامرة عسكرية ولو محدودة ضدّ سورية سيقابل بالميدان كما قوبل هو وميليشياته الإرهابية في أول العدوان وبحزم أشدّ وأقسى هذه المرة.

    هذا ما سيحمله أردوغان كحصيلة اجتماعاته الثنائية والثلاثية في طهران، باعتباره مبعوثاً للأطلسي، وطبقاً للمعلومات التي بين يدينا فإنّ المبعوثين الغربيين الذين لم ينقطعوا عن التواصل مع موسكو، وخاصة الأميركي منهم فإنهم يبحثون عن عودة تدريجية لمعاهدة الاستقرار الاستراتيجي في زمن ترامب، هذا مع الروس، وعن تهدئة شاملة مع الإيرانيبن حتى ولو لم يتمّ الاتفاق على النووي.

    والسبب حالات الانهيار العامة التي يعيشها الغرب من عودة كورونا القوية الى تساقط مقولات، ورموز الديمقراطيبن الأميركيين في عيون مواطنيهم وفي عيون حلفائهم ما وراء الأطلسي.

    بايدن خسر كلّ شيء الآن ولم يبق أمامه سوى تظهير خسارته بألوان سينما هوليوود.

    حتى اليهود الأميركيين الذين عمل كلّ جهده لإرضائهم بعناء السفر الى فلسطيننا وجزيرتنا العربية، لن يغفروا له تخليه عنهم خوفاً ورهبة مما ينتظره من صعود ثلاثي الشرق العظيم، وبالتالي لن يضمنوا فوزه لا في نوفمبر/ تشرين الثاني المقبل ولا في استحقاق ٢٤ الرئاسي!

    هذه خرائط عملية نهائية رسمها المنتصر وسيباشر في تحويلها الى وقائع عالم ما بعد أميركا والدولار.

    انها السنن الكونية الربانية او الحتمية التاريخية يا بايدن سمّها ما شئت او اختر ايّ منهما ستصل الى نفس النهاية، او الى قعر جهنم كما يردّد الصينيون في ردهات حزبهم الحاكم في بكين.

    بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

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    Iran Will Respond in Kind to Any Measure Against Its National Security

    July 18, 2022 

    By Staff, Agencies

    A senior Iranian diplomat said the Islamic Republic will respond in kind to any measure against its national security from any neighboring country, in a veiled reference to the countries that have normalized their relations with the ‘Israeli’ occupation regime.

    “Targeting our security from neighboring countries will be met with a response to those countries and a direct response to ‘Israel’,” Kamal Kharrazi, the head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, warned in an interview with Al Jazeera news network published on Sunday.

    Tehran has emphasized that it pursues a policy of improving relations with neighboring countries, while at the same time making it clear that the countries, which are normalizing their relations with ‘Israel’ and allowing the occupying regime to establish a foothold in the region, are betraying the Palestinian cause and bringing instability to the region.

    Kharrazi, however, said ‘Israel’ is in a phase of weakness and US President Joe Biden’s support for the regime would fail to bring it back to the fore.

    Kharrazi said Iran has carried out extensive military drills to demonstrate its capability to hit targets deep inside the ‘Israeli’ occupation entity in the event “Iran’s vital and sensitive facilities are targeted.”

    During the interview, Kharrazi, an ex-foreign minister, also said Tehran calls for launching regional talks to be attended by important countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, and other states.

    He noted that Qatar has made important proposals on holding dialog among regional countries and that Tehran has expressed its full readiness in this regard.

    The sole solution to regional crises, according to the senior diplomat, is the formation of a regional dialog forum in order to find settlements to political and security disputes among regional countries.

    Kharrazi also welcomed recent remarks by Saudi officials about extending a hand of friendship to Iran, saying Tehran is ready to enter into dialog with Riyadh in order to restore bilateral relations to normalcy.

    he also rejected allegations that Iran has intentions to make nuclear weapons, saying this is while the Islamic Republic possesses the technical capabilities, such as increasing the level of uranium enrichment from 20 percent to 60 percent.

    The diplomat dismissed any possibility of talks about “our missile program and our regional policies,” saying any negotiation on the two subjects would mean submission to the enemy.

    Regarding the indirect negotiations with the United States to revive the 2015 Iran deal, he said it is difficult to conduct a direct dialog with Washington in light of a thick wall of mistrust due to hostile US policies toward the Islamic Republic.

    He added that there are no guarantees that the US would continue to honor the Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA], if the deal is restored, and “this prevents any possible agreement.”

    Iran and the US concluded two days of indirect talks, mediated by the European Union, in the Qatari capital of Doha late last month in an attempt to break the stalemate in reviving the JCPOA.

    At the end of the talks, Iran and the EU, which plays a mediatory role, said they would keep in touch “about the continuation of the route and the next stage of the talks.”

    The talks in Doha followed seven rounds of inconclusive negotiations in the Austrian capital of Vienna, as the US insisted on refusing to undo its so-called maximum pressure policy against Tehran.

    Oil, Iran On Biden’s Agenda at Arab Summit Concluding Middle East Tour

    July 18, 2022 

    By Staff, Agencies

    US President Joe Biden is set to discuss volatile oil prices during a summit with Arab leaders on Saturday in Saudi Arabia, the final stop of his Middle East tour, meant to bolster US positioning and knit the regional countries against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    The meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s second city on the Red Sea coast, will bring together leaders of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council as well as Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.

    Biden landed Friday in Saudi Arabia, a longtime US ally he once vowed to make a “pariah” over its human rights record, and met with King Salman, de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other top Saudi officials.

    Tensions had been high between Biden and Prince Mohammed, especially after Biden’s administration released US intelligence findings that Prince Mohammed approved an operation targeting journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose gruesome killing in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate in 2018 spurred global outrage.

    Biden now appears ready to re-engage with a country that has been a key strategic ally of the United States for decades, a major supplier of oil and an avid buyer of weapons.

    Washington wants the world’s largest exporter of crude to open the floodgates to bring down soaring gasoline prices, which threaten Democratic chances in November mid-term elections.

    But Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, tamped down expectations of immediate progress while speaking with reporters on the flight to Jeddah.

    Biden said his trip “Is about once again positioning America in this region for the future. We are not going to leave a vacuum in the Middle East for Russia or China to fill.”

    At the summit, Biden was set to hear a chorus of concern about the region’s stability and security, as well as concerns about food security, climate change and the continued ‘threat of terrorism.’

    Biden was under pressure to discuss the cases of Khashoggi as well as Saudis detained under what critics of Prince Mohammed described as a far-reaching crackdown on dissent.

    Late Friday, Biden said he raised Khashoggi’s killing “at the top of the meeting” with Prince Mohammed and “made it clear if anything occurs like that again they will get that response and much more.”

    While in the ‘Israeli’-occupied territories, Biden admitted in comments to reporters that his motives for visiting Saudi Arabia were “broader” than human rights.

    “My views on Khashoggi have been absolutely, positively clear, and I have never been quiet about talking about human rights.”

    سجّلوا هذه المعادلة.. بتوقيت تموز

     يوليو 15, 2022

    موقع قناة المنار-

    جعفر خضور:

    بتوقيتِ تموز الانتصار، وبزمنية استحضار الذكرى الحاضرة دوماً في العقولِ والقلوب، أطلّ صادق الوعد ومهندس الانتصارات المخطوطة بالدّم الطّاهر، والمكتوبة ببارودِ بنادقٍ ضغط على زنادها رجالٌ آمنوا بربهم، وعدوا وصدقوا، قاتلوا فغلبوا، السيد حسن نصر الله، معلناً معادلات جديدة منطلقةً من الإيمان بالقدرات المرتكزة لسردية التّاريخ المؤطّرِ بالنصر الكبير، ليطمئن قلوب المقاومين ويحيي في قلوبهم نشوة الفرحِ بذكرى حرب تموز التي دقّت المسمار في نعش مشروع الشرق الأوسط الجديد، وحملت مع لحظاتها الأولى عند الساعة 9:05 صباحاً من يوم 12 تموز، صدق الوعدِ وقوة العقيدة، فحسمت القرار وأحسنت الاختيار وغيّرت المسار قبل أن تبرُد فوهات بنادق مقاوميها، وليؤرق العدو المتبجّح بأمانيه الوهميّة مذكّراً إياه بالتاريخ الذي لم يتقدم فيه من بعده متراً واحداً.

    عند الحديث عن المستقبل لا بد من تقييم الحاضر، الذي يحمل مقومات النجاح أو الفشل، الاستمرارية أو الانحسار، النمو أو الاضمحلال، لتكون مؤشرات التقييم مساعدةً في رسم الصورة المستقبلية المحتملة.

    فإذا عدنا إلى جزئيات تاريخ المقاومة الإسلامية التي ربت ونشأت وترعرعت بين أهلها وفي أحضانِ أصحاب البصيرة، نجد كل عوامل القوة المتنامية والمطردة مع تفاقم حدّة الأزمات المتعاقبة التي ألمّت بلبنان أولاً، وبالمنطقة ككل ثانياً، والتي أثبتت فعلاً القدرة والاقتدار في صنع الانتصار.

    يكتسبُ خطاب السيد نصر الله أهميته الكبرى من الحركة السياسية الحامية التي تشهدها الساحتين الإقليمية والدولية، ولا سيما في ظلّ زيارة الرئيس الأميركي جوزيف بايدن من جهة وفي الوقت الذي يسعى فيه إلى شدّ رباط العلاقة بين الكيان الصهيوني والدول المطبّعة على خلفية الحدث المستحدث بين روسيا وأوكرانيا من جهةٍ أخرى، في خضم التحضير لمواجهة أزمة الطّاقة العالمية الناتجة عن الإجراءات الروسية، فهو يسعى من خلال زيارته المبتدأة من البوابة الصهيونية التي وصّفت الزيارة بأنها مخيّبة للآمال، وبالأخص بعد تعيينه ساعة واحدة للاطلاع على المؤسسة العسكرية الصهيونية، يسعى إلى تطمئنة “إسرائيل” بالوقوف إلى جانبها من قبل أميركا، وجعلها مفتاح أنبوب الغاز إلى أوروبا، بعد أن يكون قد أقنع شركاؤها في المنطقة (دول الخليج) بزيادة انتاج النفط تحسّباً لما هو قادم وبطبيعة الحال ما يندرج ضمن حياكة الواقع الجديد المشكّل للعب دور مناوِر ربما.

    في الصدد نفسه، وعلى الرغم من تهافت أخبار كثيرة شدّت الانتباه نحو أن الزيارة ستكون لإعلان “ناتو عربي – إسرائيلي”. ألا أنَّ الأمر لا يمكن حسمه الآن، أو بالحد الأدنى لا يمكن قرائته بمعزل عن التطورات الدّولية الحامية، التي برهنت حتى لمن يصبّ في كأس مشربهِ نقاط الأمل بالأميركي والصهيوني، عن تحريكهما للنزاع وليس الانغطاس الكامل فيه، وحتى على مستوى الاستثمار الممنهج والذي انقلبت نتائجه بشكلٍ عكسيّ ما دفع للتعاطي مع النتائج المخالفة بطريقة أخرى وبتكتيك جديد، على الضفة الأخرى.

    إذ ما تكوّن فعلاً “ناتو” فأين سيكون دوره وموقعه؟
    وهل سيكون حقاً قادر على التأثير وتحقيق حلم “إسرائيل” في الضغط على إيران؟

    ولا يفوتنا التنويه إلى الاستشراف الرّوسي والإيراني لمراحل المحطات القادمة عبر توثيق التعاون الثنائي بينهما، فالغرب اليوم وبالرغم من حراكه الململم للجراح وقبل التفرّغ لانشغالات الجبهة الداخلية، يقع ضحية تناقض الرؤى واختلاف النظرات فيمن يتعاطى معه.

    جاءت رسائل السيد حسن نصر الله باتجاهين لهما أبعادهما الاستراتيجية والكبيرة، الأولى إلى رمي الحجر في بركة المفاوض اللبناني الراكدة وحثّه على التحرّك الجدّي في ملف ترسيم الحدود البحرية، وعدم الخضوع والركون لمغبّات طلبات الطرف الأميركي، وهي رسالة وطنية بامتياز تعطي الفُرَص.

    قبل اتخاذ قرار معادلة “كاريش وما بعدَ كاريش وما بعدَ بعدَ كاريش”، التي تحمل في مضامينها حربٌ بمعطياتٍ جديدة تدخل فيها شرايين الطاقة المغذّية لداخل الكيان الصهيوني في مرمى صواريخِ المقاومة التي تملك كل معلومات الميناء وإحداثياته وإمكاناته.

    وبحسب الخرائط التي توضح توزّع الحقول في المياه الفلسطينية المحتلّة، فإن “ما بعد كاريش” يعني أن حقول “أثينا”، “تانين”، “دولفين” “ليفياثان” “داليت” و”أفروديت” باتت في مرمى نيران المقاومة وهي الحقول التي يرتكز عليها الاحتلال في استخراجه للغاز والنفط وتؤمن له حاجته الداخلية وتوفر له العائدات المالية. أمّا توسيع دائرة الاستهداف إلى “ما بعد ما بعد كاريش” يهدّد الحقول الواقعة قبالة شواطئ عسقلان المحتلّة وغزّة، وأهمها “كيرين”، “نوا” و”ماري بي” التي، إن حددت مدينة صور الجنوبية كنقطة إطلاق الصواريخ، فإن مياه غزّة تبعد حوالي 190 كلم.

    أمّا الرسالة الثانية والأهمّ في سياق البُعد السياسي الساعي لفرض واقع جيوساسي جديد وهو ما أسماه السيد “بنسخة جديدة عن المشروع الشرق أوسطي الجديد”. والتي يمكن القول أنها فجّرت آمال أميركا وزرعت القلق في نفوس الصهاينة وبعثرت متن نصوص خططهم، هي المنع من الاستخراج ومن التغذية في آنٍ معاً، أي أن المقاومة الإسلامية دخلت على خطّ التوازن الدولي بعد أن نجحت وبامتياز في كل الاستحقاقات الإقليمية منذ ١٩٨٢ مروراً بحرب تموز وإفشال فكرة ربط القلمون بالحرمون، وصولاً لوضعها المعادلات الجديدة الأقوى والأبعد أثراً والممهدة لاتخاذ القرار البات المبرم التي كانت وما زالت تعمل جاهدةً على اتخاذه.

    على صعيد قدرات حزب الله العسكرية، فإنه يمتلك صواريخ بر – بحر قادرة على اجتياز تلك المسافة ومن بينها صاروخ “نور” (كروز مضاد للسفن إيراني الصنع، يتراوح مداه من 120 كيلومتر إلى أكثر من 220 كم)، وكان حزب الله قد استخدمه في قصف البارجة الإسرائيلية “ساعر 5” عام 2006. وتعترف أوساط الاحتلال بترسانة حزب الله البحرية وتتوقّع امتلاكه لصاروخ “ياخونت” (مجنح مضاد للسفن) الذي يستطيع ضرب أهداف على بعد 300 كليومتر وله ميزات خاصة تسمح له بتخطي الرادات. بالإضافة الى الزوارق والغواصات.

    في ختام الحديث، حمداً لله على نعمة المقاومة مغيّرة المسارات ومنجم الانتصارات ومقلع التطورات وحمداً وشكراً عظيماً على أعظم الشهور تموز، ففيه صُنعَ نصراً دحر مشروع سعى لصياغة المنطقة وفق أهواء أميركا، وفيه أيضاً وضعت معادلات لن تقلّ مفاعيلها عن مفاعيل معادلة “حيفا وما بعدَ بعدَ حيفا”.

    فالمقاومة التي حررت وفكّت قيد الأسر وصاغت تفاهم نيسان بتغيير كلمة تحفظ انتصاراتها وتصنعها من جديد، لن تكون إلا المنطلق من كلّ نصرٍ وصبر نحو كلّ عزّ وشرف، سلاماً لوعدنا الصّادق.

    اضرب بعصاك البحر فكلّنا معك وافلق أمواجه لنعبُرَ نحو الخلاص الأكيد..

    مقالات مرتبطة

    Embarrassed Biden: I Brought Khashoggi Murder With MBS

    June 16, 2022 

    By Staff, Agencies 

    US President Joe Biden claimed that he confronted Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] over the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, insisting the royal was personally responsible for the killing.

    Speaking to reporters following a sit-down with bin Salman on Friday, Biden said he raised the issue “at the top of the meeting” and made his stance “crystal clear.”

    “I said very straightforwardly: For an American president to be silent on an issue of human rights, is this consistent with – inconsistent with who we are and who I am? I’ll always stand up for our values,” he said. 

    While, according to Biden, the prince denied any direct part in Khashoggi’s murder – which took place in a Saudi diplomatic building in Turkey in October 2018 – the US president went on to say he “indicated that [bin Salman] probably was” involved after all.

    Asked about recent comments from Khashoggi’s widow, who said “the blood of MBS’s next victim is on [Biden’s] hands,” he simply replied: “I’m sorry she feels that way,” going on to say he does not regret dubbing the prince a “pariah” during the 2020 presidential race.

    “Do I regret it? I don’t regret anything that I said. What happened to Khashoggi was outrageous,” he added.

    The president has come under fire for continuing the close US-Saudi relationship despite repeated claims of rights abuses within the Gulf monarchy, chief among them Khashoggi’s assassination, which the CIA concluded was ordered by Mohammed bin Salman himself. 

    Upon his arrival at Al Salman Palace, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Friday, Biden was photographed giving a friendly fist-bump to the prince, a gesture harshly condemned by Khashoggi’s former fiancée. 

    “Hey POTUS, is this the accountability you promised for my murder?” she wrote, apparently speaking from the perspective of her late spouse, while also sharing a photo of the fist-bump.

    However, Biden insisted the purpose of his trip to Saudi Arabia was not to see with the prince, but rather “to meet with the [Gulf Cooperation Council] and nine nations to deal with the security… and the needs of the free world.”

    He made a similar argument in a recent Washington Post op-ed ahead of his travels, where he outlined a variety of reasons to visit the kingdom, including regional security, rising gas prices, Russia’s “aggression” in Ukraine and competition with China.

    ماذا يريد جو بايدن من الشرق الأوسط؟

    تموز 15 2022

    حسن لافي 

    يتمثّل الهدف الأميركي للزيارة في إعادة صياغة خارطة موازين القوى لدول المحور الأميركي في المنطقة.

    يمكن قراءة زيارة الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن للشرق الأوسط من خلال عدة مستويات تمثل بكليتها الأهداف الرئيسية لتلك الزيارة. على المستوى الاستراتيجي، تأتي زيارته في خضم صراع الولايات المتحدة الأميركية الشرس والمعلن مع كلٍّ من الصين وروسيا على معركة تشكيل المنظومة الدولية وصياغتها بعد انتهاء عصر القطب الأميركي الواحد الذي شارف على الانتهاء.

    تسعى أميركا لقطع الطريق أمام الصين وروسيا، للحؤول دون نسجهما علاقات مع حلفاء أميركا في الشرق الأوسط.

    لذلك، تسعى الولايات المتحدة الأميركية لاستعادة سيطرتها على موارد الطاقة في الشرق الأوسط بعدما أجبرتها الحرب الأوكرانية الروسية على البحث عن مصادر تمويل للطاقة لحلفائها الأوروبيين، ما أعاد للنفط الخليجي وغاز البحر المتوسط أهميته، إضافة إلى العمل على زيادة إنتاج النفط الخليجي مع خفض أسعاره، من أجل خلق استقرار في سوق الطاقة، حتى لا يتأثر الاقتصاد الأميركي الذي يعاني حالة غير مسبوقة من التضخم المالي.

    على المستوى الجيو-استراتيجي، تسعى أميركا لقطع الطريق أمام الصين، ومن ثم روسيا، للحؤول دون نسجهما علاقات مع حلفاء أميركا في الشرق الأوسط، وخصوصاً دول الخليج، الذين شعروا بالخوف من تراجع اهتمام أميركا في الشرق الأوسط بعد انسحابها من العراق وأفغانستان وذهابها للتفاوض مع الإيرانيين على اتفاق نووي جديد، ما أنتج حالة من الانفتاح على كلٍّ من الصين وروسيا، ولو على سبيل تحسين شروط تحالفهم مع الأميركيين، وليس تغيير اتجاهاتهم التحالفية، ناهيك بأن تداعيات الأزمة الأوكرانية باتت تهدد الهيمنة الأميركية على المنظومة الدولية كدولة عظمى.

    وبالتالي، رجعت أميركا إلى سياسة الأحلاف التي انتهجتها في ستينيات القرن الماضي، واستمرت طوال فترة الحرب الباردة. لذلك، تعيد ترميم علاقتها مع حلفائها، وخصوصاً السعودية، تحت شعار “المصالح الأميركية فوق المبادئ الإنسانية”.

    يتمثّل الهدف الأميركي للزيارة على مستوى إقليم الشرق الأوسط بإعادة صياغة خارطة موازين القوى لدول المحور الأميركي في المنطقة، لتكون “إسرائيل” هي مركز الثقل الأساس الذي يثق الأميركي بأنه قادر على تنفيذ متطلبات مصلحته بأقل الأثمان، وبإخلاص كبير، لكون ذلك يتطابق مع مصلحتها كدولة وظيفية احتلالية يرتبط وجودها بالرعاية الأميركية؛ قائدة المشروع الغربي في العالم.

    والأهم أنّ الدول الأخرى الحليفة للولايات المتحدة الأميركية، سواء العربية أو الإسلامية، لا تثق أميركا بها وبقدرتها على أداء ذلك الدور، ناهيك بالإشكاليات الداخلية التي يعانيها قادة تلك الدول على المستوى الداخلي.

    لذلك، كل ما يحدث في المنطقة من إنشاء تحالفات عسكرية واقتصادية وسياسية تحت الرعاية الأميركية هدفه ضمان أمن “إسرائيل” والحفاظ على قوتها كدولة مركزية في الشرق الأوسط، ما دفع الولايات المتحدة الأميركية مجدداً إلى إعادة اكتشاف أهمية وجود “إسرائيل” ككيان استعماري متقدّم في خدمة مشروعها كدولة عظمى في العالم، في ظل منافسة كلٍّ من الصين وروسيا، وفي منطقة لم تنتهِ مصالحها الاقتصادية فيها بعد.

    ينبع خطورة إطلاق بايدن – لابيد “إعلان القدس” من كونه وثيقة أعادت الولايات المتحدة الأميركية مجدداً فيها تأكيداتها والتزاماتها السابقة على مدار أكثر من 70 عاماً تجاه “إسرائيل والشعب اليهودي” في ورقة واحدة لا تتضمن الجديد، ولكنها بمنزلة تأكيد من جو بايدن، الرئيس الديمقراطي، على “صفقة القرن” التي طرحها الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب الجمهوري، ما يعيد التزام الحزبين الأميركيين تجاه “إسرائيل”، بعدما عصفت الكثير من الرياح السيئة بالعلاقة بينهم منذ عهد الرئيس الأميركي السابق باراك أوباما، وليس انتهاء بأزمة رفض التيار اليساري في الحزب الديمقراطي الأميركي التصويت على تضمين الموازنة العامة في الكونغرس بند تمويل إعادة مخزون صواريخ القبة الحديدية الإسرائيلية.

    من الواضح أن “إسرائيل”، للأسف الشديد، استطاعت أن تستفيد جيداً من التطورات والتغيرات في الساحة الدولية، والتي هددت الهيمنة الأميركية، في إعادة تسويق نفسها بحلة جديدة للمشروع الغربي الاستعماري، ولكن هذه المرة كـ”دولة اليهود”، وبدعم دول التطبيع العربي غير المسبوق وغير المتوقع، حتى من الأميركيين أنفسهم، بل أدت “إسرائيل” دور الوسيط بين دول الخليج، وخصوصاً السعودية، وإدارة جو بايدن، وبالتالي برهنت للأميركيين قدرتها على قيادة حلف الناتو الصهيو-تطبيعي الجديد.

    أوضحت الزيارة أنَّ بايدن لم يغير موقفه تجاه إيران، فما زال يفرق بين المشروع النووي الإيراني من جهة، والمشروع العسكري لمحور المقاومة بقيادة إيران من جهة أخرى. 

    في المشروع النووي، أكد بايدن التزامه الحل الدبلوماسي من خلال اتفاق جديد مع إيران. وبالنسبة إلى التهديد العسكري، منح بايدن “إسرائيل” الكثير من الأدوات العسكرية والسياسية والاقتصادية لمواجهته، مثل منظومة الاعتراض بالليزر الجديدة ومنظومة الدفاع الجوي الإقليمي المشترك، لكن تبقى رؤية بايدن متعارضة مع الموقف الإسرائيلي الذي يرى في التهديد الإيراني رزمة واحدة متكاملة.

    لذلك، تضغط “إسرائيل” تجاه وضع الحل العسكري تجاه المشروع النووي الإيراني على طاولة خيارات إدارة بايدن، رغم التزام الأخير عدم السماح لإيران بالحصول على القنبلة النووية. وفي هذا السياق، تحاول “إسرائيل” انتهاج سياسة التدرج الاستراتيجي في سبيل تغيير موقف إدارة بايدن من دون الوصول إلى صدام معه، رغم أن الوقت لا يسعفها كثيراً بحسب تقديراتها الاستخبارية.

    أظهرت أجندة الزيارة أنَّ القضية الفلسطينية بالنسبة إلى جو بايدن مجرد هوامش، ويكفي إبداء قناعته الشخصية بحل الدولتين، لكن من دون أي خطوة حقيقية تجاه هذا الحل، بل إنّ الذريعة الأميركية حاضرة بعدم وجود حكومة مستقرة في “إسرائيل”.

    ويخشى بايدن أن يستغلّ بنيامين نتنياهو أي ضغط أميركي على حكومة يائير لابيد قبل الانتخابات للعودة إلى الحكم، الأمر الذي سيجعل تأجيل تنفيذ أي خطوة أميركية لمصلحة الفلسطينيين إلى ما بعد الانتخابات الإسرائيلية وتأليف حكومة مستقرة في “إسرائيل” أمراً مبرراً لدى السلطة الفلسطينية.

    إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي صاحبها حصراً

    فيديوات ذات صلة

    مقالات ذات صلة

    WHO IS BIDEN WORKING FOR? ON ISRAEL VISIT, “ZIONIST” BIDEN WHITEWASHES ISRAEL’S CRIMES

    JULY 15TH, 2022

    By Miko Peled

    Source

    Upon his arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, which sits on the lands of the occupied Palestinian city of El-Lyd, President Joe Biden repeated his age-old mantra, “You don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist.” Indeed you do not. To be a Zionist, you only need to be a racist, a supporter of the hate-filled, violent, intolerant apartheid regime that has been occupying Palestine since 1948. You need to believe that people who are not Palestinians have a right to Palestine and to its resources. To be a Zionist, you don’t need to be Jewish, you just need to repeat the absurd claim that the Bible gives all Jewish people around the world the right to kill people because they are Palestinians who want to return to their homes and their land.

    In a nauseating show of hypocrisy, President Biden, Israeli President Yitzhak Hertzog, and Prime Minister Lapid spoke of peace, justice, and human rights as the shared values of the United States and the State of Israel. This was less than twenty-four hours after John Bolton admitted to orchestrating coup d’états in countries around the world. This is also after Israeli military, and political figures openly talked about assassinating Iranian scientists and officials.

    The values shared by Israel and the United States are clearly represented in the fact that President Biden is visiting a country that only recently assassinated the American-Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh and is keeping silent about it. The president of the United States is in Israel, meeting with heads of the Israeli state, and yet rather than using the full force of his position – which is considerable – to demand accountability, he says and does nothing.

    American journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The murders of Khashoggi and that of Shireen Abu Akleh are not the only crimes committed by the two regimes for which Biden is showing love, but these two were well publicized and involve U.S. nationals, so one would think he would act or at least speak out.

    A BAD DEAL

    U.S. support for Israel is a bad deal for the American taxpayers. $3.8 billion dollars of American taxpayers’ money gets sent to Israel at the beginning of each year. And with the exception of the military-industrial complex, Americans get little out of this.

    American citizens who wish to travel to Palestine, particularly if they have an Arab name or family there, are subjected to harassment by the Israeli authorities. This harassment takes place at Tel-Aviv airport, where the authorities are notoriously racist, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim. The harassment can last for many hours and often results in refusal of entry into the country. U.S. citizens are not protected from the inhumane interrogation process that takes place at the airport on the way in, and they are not protected by their U.S. citizenship when they leave the country.

    A U.S. passport does not even protect Americans from being shot and killed by Israeli forces. Rachel Corrie and Shireen Abu-Akleh, both citizens of the United States, were killed in broad daylight. They were wearing safety equipment, they were well identified as non-combatant civilians, and they were both butchered in plain sight. Washington made no effort to bring the criminals to justice.

    Joe Biden in Israel

    Another U.S. citizen who died at the hand of IDF soldiers is Omar Abdalmajeed As’ad. He died on January 12 after he was arrested by IDF troops. According to a report in The Jerusalem Post, the seventy-eight-year-old As’ad “was arrested, handcuffed, blindfolded and gagged,” after which the soldiers left. Also, according to the Post report, “the soldiers did not call for medical assistance and left him there believing that he had fallen asleep.” Although several members of congress did issue statements, no real action was taken to hold Israel accountable.

    Where was the U.S. government to protect him? Where was the demand to investigate and bring the culprits to justice? and where are the sanctions against the State of Israel, which shows no regard for the lives of Palestinians?

    The Israeli human-rights organization B’Tselem commented that: “The army’s announcement regarding the death of Omar Assad is adorned with empty words about ‘moral failure’ – concluding, as expected, with the faintest of rebukes…In fact, the fundamental moral failure is that of Israel’s senior echelons, leading a regime of Jewish supremacy, one in which the human life of Palestinians has no value.”

    NO DEMOCRACY, NO STABILITY

    Contrary to what is said about Israel, it is neither a democracy nor an island of stability. It has been several years since Israel has been able to function as a state. This is due to the fact that there has not been a government with a stable majority in place. Elections are held over and over again, and even though the results are predictably the same, no stable government is formed. The election results have been consistent, clearly showing what Israeli voters want, namely, they are in favor of a strong, ultra-right-wing government led by racists like Benjamin Netanyahu, who was indicted for corruption, and war criminal generals like Benny Gantz.

    Neither the corruption nor the war crimes seem to have any impact on the voters, and these people are elected over and over again. The only thing that changes are the partnerships between the politicians who rarely last very long and the new generals that join the political arena. The one thing that remains constant in Israeli politics is Benjamin Netanyahu. He and his loyal Likud Party followers are the only stable, consistent element in Israeli politics.

    WHO IS JOE BIDEN WORKING FOR?

    Judging by his performance, Joe Biden is working for AIPAC and not for the American people. He hit every note, shook every hand and repeated his mantras, clearly trying to please his donors back home. According to reports, he even made sure to tell Benjamin Netanyahu that he likes him. His interview on Israeli television included a commitment to keep the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on the list of terrorist organizations and even to attack Iran if that was what it took to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. That is not what his constituents in the U.S. want, but it is what Israel and AIPAC expect of him.

    Andrei Martyanov: SAS and BRICS

    July 14, 2022

    Please visit Andrei’s website: https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/
    and support him here: https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=60459185

    Biden in Jeddah: mending fences, not building bridges

    President Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia will likely end in face saving gestures, but no major geopolitical concessions

    July 12 2022

    Photo Credit: The Cradle

    By Kristian Alexander and Giorgio Cafiero

    Before 2019, never had a US president referred to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a ‘pariah’ on his campaign trail. Joe Biden’s Saudi-bashing as a presidential candidate, plus a host of other delicate issues, have fueled significant friction between the White House and Riyadh.

    Today, relations between the US and Saudi Arabia are probably at their worst since the events of September 11, 2001, stymied by a major trust deficit in the relationship between Biden’s White House and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS).

    By the same token, the Biden administration views Saudi Arabia as a critical partner in the Persian Gulf and continues to sign massive arms deals with the kingdom.

    For all the rhetoric on Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose brutal murder MbS is said to have sanctioned, team Biden never imposed state-level sanctions against Saudi Arabia, nor on the crown prince himself.

    Meanwhile, the administration praises the role of Riyadh in the Arab world’s trend toward normalization with Israel.

    Within this context, Biden’s first presidential trip to West Asia – in which he will go to Israel, the occupied West Bank, and Saudi Arabia this week – will be important to White House efforts to mend fences with Riyadh and salvage this decades-old partnership.

    In a US mid-term election year that will likely lead to significant gains for his Republican opposition, Biden seeks to score major foreign policy points in Jeddah that can be used for domestic consumption back in Washington this summer.

    Incentivizing Biden to convince the Saudis to increase their oil production are the millions of US motorists struggling with high gas prices and the many average American voters grappling with generational high inflation.

    Energy prices are therefore extremely important to Biden’s controversial trip to the kingdom. Yet, this month’s summit in Saudi Arabia is unlikely to give Americans much relief at the gas pump between now and the elections in November.

    Shifting the narrative from oil to peace

    Determined to ensure that the US public does not tie this tour’s success specifically to a Saudi oil production hike – which could easily result in the Biden administration’s humiliation – the White House message is that this visit to Jeddah largely concerns peace in the region.

    As Biden wrote in the Washington Post, avoiding a future in which the region is “coming apart through conflict” is of “paramount importance” to the White House, and he will “pursue diplomacy intensely – including through face-to-face meetings – to achieve our goals.”

    According to Biden, if the region comes together through “diplomacy and cooperation” there is a lower chance of “violent extremism” threatening US national security or “new wars that could place new burdens on US military forces and their families.”

    This trip comes at a time in which there is a fragile truce in Yemen, where the Saudis and Emiratis have waged a devastating seven-year war. Although the conflict remains unresolved, the drastic reduction in violence and increased humanitarian assistance to the war-torn country have given millions of Yemenis desperately needed relief.

    The truce in Yemen has been possible in part because of Saudi and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member support, which makes it easier for Biden to justify his visit to Jeddah. After all, it was the Khashoggi affair and the conflict in Yemen that ‘Biden-the-candidate’ cited as reasons for his ‘pariah’ treatment of Riyadh.

    Thus, moving toward a settlement to this conflict, in which the last two US presidents were heavily involved in escalating, helps Biden save face as he makes this trip. If the president leaves the kingdom with some guarantees from the Saudis about their commitment to future truce extensions, that could be interpreted as a win for Biden.

    “The US administration is beginning to realize that President Biden can’t just ignore Saudi Arabia and that it’s in the best interest of the two countries to start working together, not just to reduce oil prices and pressure on US consumers, but also to further the stability of the Middle East and contain [the Iranian] threat whether in Lebanon or Yemen,” Najah Al-Otaibi, an associate fellow at the Riyadh-based King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, said in an interview with The Cradle.

    Expanding on her point, Al-Otaibi said that “Saudi Arabia has recently agreed to extend the United Nations-mediated ceasefire with Yemen, and Prince Mohammed [bin Salman] played a critical role in this move, according to Biden’s officials who thought it is a step forward to solving the conflict.”

    Last month, Biden clarified that, for him, bolstering Israel’s security was a major motivation for the trip to Saudi Arabia. Despite some speculation among pundits that Saudi Arabia will soon join the Abraham Accords, this is highly doubtful, especially with King Salman still on the throne. However, with MbS “the reformer” as future king, normalization between “the Land of the Two Holy Mosques” and Israel is all the more likely.

    Insecurity and an ‘Arab NATO’

    Even if Riyadh remains outside the Abraham Accords, there is much that Saudi Arabia can do to make it easier for other Arab-Muslim countries to normalize with Tel Aviv, and for the kingdom’s allies, already signatories to the Abraham Accords, to build on their overt relations with the Israelis.

    While in Jeddah, Biden will likely push the Saudis to take some more baby steps toward a de facto normalization with Israel, even if it remains unofficial. One way for the kingdom to do so would be by granting permission for Israeli planes to transit Saudi airspace on their way to the UAE, Bahrain, and other countries.

    Other avenues could include bolstering involvement by Israeli technology firms in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, Saudi–Israeli military cooperation, and more visits by high-ranking Israeli officials to the kingdom that could build on former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s November 2020 visit to Neom.

    Shoring up US–Arab partnerships in preparation for the increasingly likely scenario that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) talks with Iran will collapse in acrimony is a high priority for Biden.

    Against the backdrop of Iran’s nuclear advancements as negotiations further stall, Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states attending the GCC+3 summit are preparing for a post-JCPOA future in which friction between the US and Israel, on one side, and the Islamic Republic, on the other, appears set to intensify in the coming weeks and months.

    “I think Iran, not oil, is the main issue as Iran moves closer and closer to having all the parts it needs to put together a nuclear bomb,” David Ottaway, a Middle East fellow at the Wilson Center, told The Cradle. “Only a revival of the Iranian nuclear deal can stop that trend, and nobody is optimistic about that happening now.”

    Although Riyadh and Tehran have been in direct talks via Baghdad since April 2021, the Saudi leadership wants assurances from team Biden that Washington remains committed to the kingdom’s security regardless of the fate of the 2015 nuclear accord, and that the US will work with its Arab allies to counter Iran in regional hotspots, such as Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

    Yet, mindful of the little trust Saudi officials have in the Biden administration, it is difficult to imagine the US president gaining enough confidence from Riyadh during this upcoming trip vis-à-vis Iran-related issues. As Ottaway told The Cradle:

    “I suspect [Biden] will declare another US commitment to defending the kingdom from its foreign enemies, but after Trump’s failure to take any action after Iranian attacks on Saudi oil facilities in 2019, he needs to say or do something to back up [what are] just words.”

    In recent weeks, there has been much discussion about an Arab NATO that includes Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other US-friendly Arab states. Biden will seek to advance this initiative as the west and its allies and partners in West Asia remain worried about Iran’s regional foreign policy agenda.

    “[Biden] wishes to reaffirm the historical strength and enduring reciprocity of the alliance, but also to press Riyadh on cooperating more on the energy side – particularly as the US moves as well to create a region-wide defense platform, the so-called Middle East NATO,” Sean Yom, an associate professor at Temple University, pointed out in an interview with The Cradle.

    “There is, however, one sticking point that will probably cause a difference: the Saudis continue to desire a strong US presence in the Gulf, one that can police Iran and intervene in a potential militarized conflict, whereas Biden clearly is continuing his predecessors’ anti-interventionist stance,” added Yom.

    Nonetheless, many experts have doubts about an Arab NATO ever manifesting into a real alliance, and expect the initiative to remain merely conceptual. This assessment accounts for the opposition of some Arab states to an open military coordination with Israel, as some GCC states, like the Sultanate of Oman, do not want to join an alliance aimed at weakening or intimidating Tehran.

    There are also logistical hurdles which would make it difficult for these state militaries to integrate in a NATO-like manner.

    “Biden’s plan for a US-backed ‘Arab NATO’ of GCC states plus Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan seems as unlikely to succeed as Trump’s Middle East Strategic Alliance, which never got off the ground,” Ottaway says.

    Virtue-signalling human rights

    Although Biden’s administration has determined that the moral costs of this presidential trip do not outweigh the perceived benefits, the Khashoggi affair remains a delicate issue – though significantly less so now than in the immediate aftermath of the grisly murder in October 2018.

    MbS wants the US government to drop the Khashoggi issue, but elements within Biden’s party maintain that any interaction between him and the crown prince would be “profoundly disturbing.” To placate more progressive politicians, high-profile media pundits, and human rights activists who criticize Biden for “legitimizing” MbS on this trip, the president will seek some human rights concessions, like those which his administration secured at the start of his presidency.

    If Biden is successful on this front, he could return to the US claiming that his visit to the kingdom helped advance, rather than hinder, the cause of human rights. Such an achievement would help Biden save face and tell his base that he did not abandon certain principles or so-called ‘American values’ by meeting MbS in the Saudi kingdom.

    “His campaign trail rhetoric, like all political campaign rhetoric, was never going to bear much resemblance to executive policy and official diplomacy,” cautioned Yom. “But I do think Biden will exit the meetings by claiming that he squarely put human rights concerns, and potentially even democratic awareness, onto the agenda for Riyadh.”

    Yet, whether the Saudi leadership feels it is under sufficient pressure to release any political prisoners, or provide liberties to some recently released Saudis who are banned from traveling, remains to be seen.

    From the perspective of the Saudi government, the US and other western governments are inappropriately virtue signaling when raising human rights concerns in the kingdom. The view from Riyadh is that these issues are internal issues that do not concern Washington or European capitals.

    Saudi and other Arab officials will often point to US sins in Iraq or police brutality against African-Americans to highlight elements of hypocrisy on the part of US politicians lecturing the Saudi government on the human rights front.

    MbS reportedly “shouting” at US national security adviser Jake Sullivan after the high-ranking official brought up the Khashoggi case underscores the effect of these discussions on the leaders of Saudi Arabia.

    The grander geopolitical picture 

    Biden will visit Saudi Arabia amid a period of increasing east–west bifurcation and intensifying great power competition. Although neither China nor Russia is on the verge of replacing the US as security guarantor of Saudi Arabia or any GCC states, US influence in the Gulf has declined with Beijing and Moscow gaining greater clout at Washington’s expense.

    Biden’s trip to Jeddah aims to reassert US influence in the Persian Gulf and attempt to prevent Riyadh and other Arab capitals from moving closer to the Chinese and Russians. An objective of Biden’s is to bring GCC states back into the geopolitical orbit of the west, while slowing down the growth of their partnerships with Beijing and Moscow.

    “There were undeniable hiccups in the relationship last year, relating to halting support to the Yemen war, aggressive rhetoric against MbS, and more scrutiny on arms sales,” Yom explained.

    “Fundamentally, none of these factors perturbed the great structural core of the US–Saudi alliance, built upon mutual perceptions of energy security, sovereign protections, and regional hegemony. But those hiccups were enough to make the decision-making circles in Riyadh a bit uncomfortable, enough at least to entertain Russian and Chinese overtures for military and energy cooperation.”

    The White House and the entire US foreign policy establishment have grave concerns about Sino–Saudi ballistic missile cooperation and the extent to which the Chinese and Emiratis are making their defense and security relations more robust.

    It is safe to say that while in Jeddah, team Biden will make it clear that the US will withhold future military assistance if GCC states move militarily closer to China. The extent to which such pressure has any impact on Riyadh and Abu Dhabi’s relationships with Beijing remains an open question.

    Nonetheless, team Biden must understand that this visit will occur against the backdrop of serious tensions between the US and Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has grown frustrated with many aspects of Washington’s agenda in the Biden era.

    The Saudi government’s view is that Biden is an ’Obama 2.0’ – a perspective that is not unreasonable when mindful of how many Obama administration veterans, including Biden himself, are serving in the White House.

    By moving closer to China and Russia, the Saudis are sending a message, loud and clear, to Washington that Riyadh has other options on the international stage as the world moves towards multipolarity with more Arab statesmen perceiving the US as a power that is withdrawing from West Asia.

    Riyadh can exaggerate the extent to which the kingdom has grown closer to Beijing and Moscow to gain leverage over the US and secure more concessions from Washington. That is likely to continue, and Biden would be making a mistake in placating the Saudis in every instance to merely try to stop Riyadh from tilting closer to China and Russia.

    Simultaneously, Saudi Arabia is showing itself to be increasingly confident and Biden’s visit to the kingdom will add to Riyadh’s sense of being emboldened, giving the Saudi leadership more reason to pursue its own interests in ways that sometimes align more closely with Beijing and Moscow’s foreign policy objectives than those of western powers.

    Despite these geopolitical tensions, the Biden administration and Al-Saud rulers both value Washington and Riyadh’s decades-old partnership, and neither side wants to abandon it. Much anger and a significant trust deficit, however, have built up between these two countries.

    Biden will not be leaving Saudi Arabia later this month with all these issues resolved. But the dialogue in Jeddah has the potential to begin a process of mending fences.

    The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

    Biden’s Middle East Trip: No Starvation for Oil

    July 13, 2022

    Sana’a, Yemen. (Photo: Rod Waddington via Flickr, Supplied)

    By Kathy Kelly

    President Joe Biden’s foreign policy advisors are applauding themselves for devising a “sensitive” itinerary as he plans to embark on a trip to the Middle East on July 13.

    In a Washington Post op-ed, Biden defended his controversial planned meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (known as MBS), saying it is meant not only to bolster US interests but also to bring peace to the region.

    It seems that his trip will not include Yemen, though if this were truly a “sensitive” visit, he would be stopping at one of Yemen’s many beleaguered refugee camps. There he could listen to people displaced by war, some of whom are shell-shocked from years of bombardment. He could hear the stories of bereaved parents and orphaned children and then express true remorse for the complicity of the United States in the brutal aerial attacks and starvation blockade imposed on Yemen for the past eight years.

    From the vantage point of a Yemeni refugee camp, Biden could insist that no country, including his own, has a right to invade another land and attempt to bomb its people into submission. He could uphold the value of the newly extended truce between the region’s warring parties, allowing Yemenis a breather from the tortuous years of war, and then urge ceasefires and settlements to resolve all militarized disputes, including Russia’s war in Ukraine. He could beg for a new way forward, seeking political will, universally, for disarmament and a peaceful, multipolar world.

    More than 150,000 people have been killed in the war in Yemen, 14,500 of whom were civilians. But the death toll from militarily imposed poverty has been immeasurably higher. The war has caused one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, creating an unprecedented level of hunger in Yemen, where millions of people face severe hardship.

    Some 17.4 million Yemenis are food insecure; by December 2022, the projected number of hungry people will likely rise to nineteen million. The rate of child malnutrition is one of the highest in the world, and nutrition continues to deteriorate.

    I grew to understand the slogan “No Blood for Oil” while living in Iraq during the 1991 Operation Desert Storm war, the 1998 Desert Fox war, and the 2003 Shock and Awe war. To control the pricing and the flow of oil, the United States and its allies slaughtered and maimed thousands of Iraqi people. Visits to Iraqi pediatric wards from 1996 to 2003 taught me a tragic expansion of that slogan. We must certainly insist: “No Starvation for Oil.”

    During twenty-seven trips to Iraq, all in defiance of the US economic sanctions against Iraq, I was part of delegations delivering medicines directly to Iraqi hospitals in cities throughout the country. We witnessed the ghastly crime of punishing children to death for the sake of an utterly misguided U.S. foreign policy. The agony endured by Iraqi families who watched their children starve has now become the nightmare experience of Yemeni families.

    It’s unlikely that a US President or any leader of a US-allied country will ever visit a Yemeni refugee camp, but we who live in these countries can take refuge in the hard work of becoming independent of fossil fuels, shedding the pretenses that we have a right to consume other people’s precious and irreplaceable resources at cut-rate prices and that war against children is an acceptable price to pay so that we can maintain this right.

    We must urgently simplify our over-consumptive lifestyles, share resources radically, prefer service to dominance, and insist on zero tolerance for starvation.

    This article first appeared in The Progressive Magazine.

    بايدن في إسرائيل: توسيع التطبيع مهمّة أولى

     الأربعاء 13 تموز 2022

    هناك تقديرات في إسرائيل بأنّ زيارة بايدن محدودة الأهداف والنتائج (أ ف ب)

    يحيى دبوق

    على رغم أن الرئيس الأميركي، جو بايدن، سيحلّ، اليوم، ضيفاً على إسرائيل، إلّا أن زيارة الكيان العبري لا تمثّل محطّة رئيسة ضمن جولته المختصرة التي تنتهي في السعودية، حيث غاية الزيارة ومقصدها. مع هذا، يجهّز المسؤولون الإسرائيليون سلّة مطالب يتوقّعون من الضيف الأميركي أن يلبّيها، وفي مقدّمها الإسهام في توسيع اتفاقات التطبيع لتشمل المملكة، والدفع نحو حلف عربي – إسرائيلي لمواجهة تهديدات إيران وحلفائها، وإنْ بدأ على شكل منظومات رادارية إنذارية مشتركة لكشف الصواريخ والمسيّرات «المعادية»، إلى جانب عطاءات مالية وتكنولوجية لن تبخل واشنطن في تعزيزها. وفي ظلّ محدودية التوقّعات، فإن أهمّ ما في الزيارة، من جهة تل أبيب، هو أنها تمثّل فرصة ممتازة لمعاينة وفحص حدود القوّة الأميركية في عالمٍ بات سريع التحوُّل

    يصل الرئيس الأميركي، جو بايدن، إلى تل أبيب، اليوم، في زيارة مجاملة للحليف الإسرائيلي، قبل أن يتّوجه إلى السعودية، حيث ينتظره زعماء دول عربية، هم هدف الزيارة ومقصدها. وسيسعى بايدن إلى تجنيد هذه الدول ما أمكن، لمؤازرة الولايات المتحدة والغرب عموماً، في المواجهة العسكرية – الاقتصادية القائمة مع روسيا في أوكرانيا. ومن المقرَّر أن تتضمّن الزيارة إلى إسرائيل، لقاءات بروتوكولية يتخلّلها إطلاق مواقف أميركية تعبّر عن تأييد كامل وشامل لتل أبيب والتزام مطلَق بأمنها وتفوّقها العسكري، وتشديد على الوقوف إلى جانبها في مواجهة التهديدات المُحدقة بها، وفي مقدّمها تلك الإيرانية. من جهته، سيركّز الجانب الإسرائيلي على إثارة مكامن قلقه – وإن بصورةٍ غير مباشرة – من إمكانية تبديل التموضع الأميركي في المنطقة، وتراجع انشغال واشنطن فيها لمصلحة ساحات أخرى. أمّا تهديد إيران وحلفائها، فسيكون محور المقاربة الإسرائيلية للزيارة.

    ما هي توقّعات تل أبيب؟
    هناك تقديرات في إسرائيل بأنّ زيارة بايدن محدودة الأهداف والنتائج، وهي تُعّد في الأساس خطوة أولى تمهيدية تكتنفها المجاملات والودّ، قبل زيارة جدة، حيث المقصد الرئيس لزيارة المنطقة. مع ذلك، فإن محطّة بايدن في تل أبيب، تشكّل فرصة لهذه الأخيرة لتحصيل ما أمكن من الإدارة:

    تريد تل أبيب حلفاً عربياً – إسرائيلياً لمواجهة تهديدات إيران وحلفائها


    – كما تطالب بدفع تسوية ما تلحظ مصالحها، في ما يتعلّق بترسيم الحدود البحرية مع لبنان، ليس فقط في إنهاء الترسيم وحفظ المصالح البحرية الغازية والنفطية المباشرة، بل في أن تكون تسوية كهذه توطئة لأخرى أكبر، تصل، في نهاية المطاف، إلى التطبيع مع لبنان، علماً أن المطالب الإسرائيلية – قبل التسوية البحرية وبعدها – ستكون مركّزة على إشراك الإدارة الأميركية أكثر في الجهود والمساعي الاستخبارية والأمنية لمواجهة سلاح «حزب الله»، الذي باتت القدرة الذاتية على لجمه وصدّه ومنع تناميه، متواضعة ومتعذّرة من ناحية إسرائيل، فيما الضغط على لبنان و«حزب الله» بواسطة الأزمة الاقتصادية، هي في الأساس استراتيجية تتبنّاها الإدارة وتسعى إلى تعزيزها، مع أو من دون دفع إسرائيل وتحفيزها.

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    Netanyahu highly values MBS role in signing ‘Abraham Accords’

    11 Jul 2022

    Source: Israeli media

    By Al Mayadeen English 

    Former Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu expresses openly for the first time MBS’ clear contribution to the signing of several normalization agreements with “Israel”.

    Former Israeli occupation PM Benjamin Netanyahu (Archive)

    Israeli media relayed the appreciation of the leader of the Israeli opposition, Benjamin Netanyahu, to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, for his contribution to the completion of the four so-called “Abraham Accords”.

    Netanyahu said that in case he assumes leadership once again, then he intends to achieve full “peace agreements” with Saudi Arabia, as well as with other Arab states.

    The former Israeli Prime Minister’s statement comes ahead of an upcoming visit by US President Joe Biden to the Middle East, during which he will meet with Palestinian and Israeli occupation officials.

    According to Israeli media, Biden plans to meet with Netanyahu during his upcoming visit to “Israel”.

    This is the first time in which an Israeli official openly highlights bin Salman’s clear contribution to the signing of the normalization agreements with the Israeli occupation.

    The UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan were part of the so-called “Abraham Accords” brokered by former US President Donald Trump’s administration in 2020 to normalize relations with “Israel”.

    Mossad plane lands in Riyadh ahead of Biden’s visit

    On Monday, the political affairs commentator for the Israeli Makan channel, Shimon Aran, revealed that a private Israeli plane “that the Israeli Mossad used in the past landed this afternoon in Riyadh.”  

    The Israeli commentator confirmed, through his account on Twitter, that the plane landed this afternoon in Riyadh, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, apparently in preparation for US President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit.

    Netanyahu visited Saudi Arabia

    It is noteworthy that “Israel” Hayom newspaper had previously revealed that Israeli envoys visited Riyadh several times throughout a period of time that extends for over a decade now. However, these visits have always been kept secret.

    There has been one exception to the secret visits and that is Netanyahu’s visit in November of 2020 to the Red Sea city of Neom, which was widely yet carefully publicized, where he met with bin Salman.

    Previously, Israeli Security Minister Benny Gantz had visited Saudi Arabia as chief of staff, while Aluf Meir Dagan, Tamir Pardo, and Yossi Cohen arrived as heads of Mossad and Ben Shabbat as head of the “National Security Council.” The purpose of the visit was to develop security coordination, especially against Iran.

    Netanyahu, as did most Israeli officials, had flown to Saudi Arabia in a private plane especially leased for this occasion. At the time, it was business contacts that have matured into political, military, and security deals.

     A “road map for normalization”

    In the same context, four informed US sources told Axios that the White House has been working on a “road map for normalization” between Saudi Arabia and the Israeli occupation ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to West Asia in July.

    Earlier this year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman said, “We do not view Israel as an enemy, but rather as a potential ally in the many interests that we can pursue together, but some issues must be resolved before we can reach that.”

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