The Chilling Message of the Saudi Executions: Colorado Writer

Saudi flag

Terence Ward

May 9, 2019

Terence Ward is a Colorado-born writer, documentarist, and cross-cultural consultant. He grew up in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt, and received his BA in political science at the University of California at Berkeley. For 10 years, he advised clients across the Gulf — Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia conducting management consulting projects and seminars. Ward is also the author of the books “Searching for Hassan” and “The Wahhabi Code: How the Saudis Spread Extremism Globally.”

A couple of weeks have passed since the dramatic beheadings of 37 Saudi citizens that shocked the world. According to Human Rights Watch, at least 33 of those who were executed were from the minority Shia community — which has suffered a long history of persecution in Saudi Arabia.

With the Kingdom facing mounting criticism over bombing deaths and starvation in the Yemen war, imprisoned and reportedly tortured women activists, and the grisly murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, many wonder why Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud offered critics another human rights issue? But these executions served a clear purpose to strike fear in the Saudi Shia population while rallying the royal family’s ultra-conservative Wahhabi – the official creed of the Kingdom fundamentalist base. In the end, to be Shia in Saudi Arabia has always been a complicated affair.

Few Americans know that Wahhabism, a branch of Sunni Islam, looks down on Shia Muslims as apostates. Violence against Shia communities is deeply rooted in the Saudi Kingdom’s DNA. Like African Americans in the Deep South, the Shia have suffered discrimination and suspicion from the Wahhabi ruling elite since the founding of the country in 1932.

Those who were executed in April included protestors who were arrested and convicted of terror-related crimes during the Arab Spring demonstrations in 2011 and 2012. However, the human rights group Amnesty International said the legal proceedings “violated international fair trial standards which relied on confessions extracted through torture.”

According to trial documents obtained by CNN, some of the men repeatedly told the court that their confessions were false and obtained through torture.

When Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman rose to power in 2017, there was some hope that the Salman dynasty would usher in reforms. However, anti-Shia rhetoric persisted. For example, the hardline cleric Saleh al-Fawzan, a member of the state-sponsored Council of Senior Scholars, claimed in 2017, that the Shia are infidels and that anyone who disagrees is also an infidel.

And al-Fawzan has also said that political dissidents who disagree with the Kingdom rulers should be put to death.

The disappearance and murder of Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government, after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, fell in line with the intentions of al-Fawzan’s rhetoric.

The CIA later concluded that King Salman’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered his killing.

The Saudi government has repeatedly denied the allegations, although the US Senate voted to condemn the young prince for Khashoggi’s grisly fate.

While Khashoggi’s death sparked international outrage, the Trump administration steered clear of assigning blame, and many businesses have quietly continued their plans for expansion there.

Amid inflammatory rhetoric against Iran a country dominated by Shia — coming from the White House, King Salman seemed encouraged to send a clear message of terror to his restive Shia citizens.

In doing so, the Saudi government seems to be ignoring the increased pressures it has recently faced on numerous fronts. Congress defied President Donald Trump in voting to suspend military aid for the kingdom’s war in Yemen. The state-owned oil company Aramco’s called off its initial public offering, while investors have reportedly pulled funding for MBS’ ambitious economic plan called Vision 2030.

To counter these setbacks, King Salman has drawn inspiration from the earliest days of the Saud dynasty to secure his most loyal followers the archconservative Wahhabi faithful. Historical persecution of the Shias has been the life-blood of the Wahhabi sect that was borne in central Arabia more than 250 years ago. For centuries, the Shia who lived along the Persian Gulf suffered violence from Wahhabi believers, who labeled them infidels.

During my childhood in Dhahran, when my father worked at Saudi Aramco from 1952-1960, I witnessed persecution of Shia who call the oil-rich eastern province, known as Al-Ahsa, their home. Our friends lived in oasis towns where Shia communities have dwelled for centuries. The sad fact is that the staggering oil wealth that poured into Riyadh was siphoned away from the Eastern Province.

Little was spent in the Shia communities, yet they have represented the majority of Saudi manpower in Aramco — now likely the world’s most profitable company.

Instead of benefiting from the profits of vast oil fields that lay under historically Shia lands, they have been treated as second-class citizens since Ibn Saud, who would eventually go on to found Saudi Arabia, and his family conquered their homeland in 1913. Even today, some Shia friends of mine call it “religious apartheid.”

When I returned as a management consultant to Saudi Arabia in the 1980’s, clerics had condemned mixing between Sunnis and Shia as well as intermarriage.

In numerous religious rulings, the late grand mufti, Abdulaziz Bin Baz, condemned the Shia community. Bin Baz’s religious rulings are still available in the kingdom’s official database and are often cited in Saudi court rulings, which are based on Islamic law.

More recently, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars said that Shia Muslims were “not our brothers … rather they are the brothers of Satan…”, according to Human Rights Watch.

Because of the historic conflict with the Shia community, the execution orders handed down by Saudi magistrates in April were expected.

But larger questions remain. Will MBS truly bring change and a more moderate Islam? Or do these April beheadings signal continued anti-Shia sentiment?

Is the Crown Prince trying to spark a conflict with Iran mother country of the Shia? And will this plunge America and the region into yet another unconstitutional war? Given the Saudi history of aiding and abetting extremists while claiming to be their enemy, should America be wary of being lured into another conflict? We should be very wary.

Recently, US National Security Adviser John Bolton announced that an aircraft carrier strike group with a bomber task force had been deployed to the Persian Gulf to deter Iran.

The royal Saud family may be gambling that America will come to its rescue and plunge the US into, yet again, another war, in what would be another trillion-dollar debacle. The truth is that America is extremely efficient at starting wars but dramatically incompetent at ending them.

Any aggression against Iran risks rupturing ties with Europe and in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, while provoking conflict with both Russia and China. If shooting erupts, the narrow Strait of Hormuz — the gateway in and out of the Persian Gulf — will surely be closed to oil tankers until the guns are silent. Lights of the industrial world will dim. It will be a time for lighting candles, unless cooler heads prevail. Perhaps this is a moment to stand up to the Saudi royals, (after the unpleasant experiences with al-Qaeda and ISIS — both Wahhabi inspired) and not be lured in yet again to another conflagration without end.

 

Source: CNN

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US Commission: Saudi Arabia Is Top Violator of Religious Freedom

By Staff, MEE

The US State Department designated Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s “worst violators” of religious freedoms, even as Riyadh remains one of Washington’s top allies in the region.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom [USCIRF] released its 2019 report on Monday listing Saudi Arabia in the tier one category of countries that implement severe violations of religious freedom.

The annual report, released by the bipartisan organization created two decades ago, highlights the discrimination that Shia Muslims and Christians face in the country.

“Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia continue to face discrimination in education, employment, and the judiciary, and lack access to senior positions in the government and military,” the 234-page report said.

“As a matter of law, the Saudi government bans the public practice of non-Muslim faiths by citizens and expatriates alike. While the Saudi government has stated repeatedly that non-Muslims who are not converts from Islam may practice their religion in private, this policy has not been codified,” the reported added.

Last week, Saudi Arabia executed 37 people on ‘terrorism’ charges.

Thirty-two of those executed were from Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority and a number of them were juveniles when they were arrested, including a teenager who had planned to study in the US.

The US placed Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s top “countries of particular concern” or CPCs in November 2018.

However, Johnnie Moore, USCIRF’s commissioner who wrote the profile on Saudi Arabia, said promoting “punitive measures” against the kingdom would be counterproductive.

“Such punitive measures could likely have the effect of forcing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to engage directly and more seriously with countries where religious freedom is not a consideration at all in their foreign policy priorities,” he said.

The State Department recommends granting Saudi Arabia a special waiver because the country is an “important interest to the United States”, the report said.

Saudi Arabia and the US share a deep alliance. The US purchases Saudi oil while the kingdom has ordered billions of dollars of arms from the United States.

Saudi Arabia was the first overseas country visited by US President Donald Trump after he became president in 2017, and his visit to Riyadh came just weeks before Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their allies initiated a blockade of Qatar.

Trump has continued to stress the importance of the US alliance with Saudi Arabia even after the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which prompted near global condemnation.

Profile of MBS: Suspense, Games of Thrones and Fear of Democratic Win in the US Elections!

By Staff

In a paper entitled “Profile of a Prince: Promise and Peril in Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030” submitted to the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Karen Elliott House wrote:

Relaxing with “Game of Thrones”

When the prince relaxes, he usually plays video games or watch television series like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. More recently, he has also taken to cardio workouts in his palace gym to control his weight and enhance his endurance.

Much of MBS’ energy continues to be devoted to marketing his vision of Saudi Arabia as a ‘strong world actor.’

He also evinces enormous confidence in his political instincts though they have been far from unerring. The risk inherent in change, he tells associates, is less than the risk of doing nothing. If he errs, he can correct it. If he dawdles, the country suffers.

Intrigue plays a large part in Saudi politics. So, too, does brutality. Western sensibilities are offended by the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the Crown Prince’s insistence he played no role. Yet frightening opponents and cunningly avoiding entrapment are admired traditions in much of the Arab world.

Secretiveness and Surprise

Secretiveness is another political instinct of MBS. He is said to confide in no one and to make every effort to keep his aides guessing. In meetings with staff to discuss options, one aide says it does no good to focus on which proposal the prince seems to support. Often he selects one option simply to force his aides to provide even better arguments for one he will choose later. Certainly, his lightening-speed dawn arrests of his royal cousins and their incarceration in the Ritz Carlton in November 2017 was a well-kept secret.

Whether one man can single-handedly wrench a nation into modernity and transform his people into self-reliant citizens is a very open question. Daring decisiveness has been the hallmark of MBS’ brief tenure in power. First came subduing the religious police, then locking up his royal cousins for corruption. Soon followed the decision to let Saudi women drive. And most recently the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

King Salman does seem to be trying to at least put some guardrails around his son’s impulsive tendencies. Some close to MBS say that when he reaches a decision now he sometimes tells his team, “Let’s think on it.” Whether that is a genuine desire to check his thinking or a tactic to leave the appearance of doing so isn’t clear.

Political Crackdown

MBS has two broad responses to the dimming prospects of strong progress on economic reforms. The first is to distract Saudi citizens with a plethora of new entertainment from concerts, cinemas and sporting events described previously in this report. The second is to suppress any dissent.

Saudi Arabia, never an open society, is now the most repressive in at least the past 40 years.

With Vision 2030, MBS essentially proclaimed weaning the Kingdom off oil a national emergency with a strict deadline for success. As a result, he seems to view debate on any issue as potentially disruptive of the essential and urgent measures he is taking. If the Saudi house is on fire, citizens need to shut up and follow him to the prescribed exit seems to be his rationale. Given this mandate against any discussion, most Saudis no longer engage in even tepid tweets on social media, much less criticism.

US-Saudi Partnership under Duress

MBS’ penchant for political repression coupled with the Kingdom’s fumbled explanations for the death of Jamal Khashoggi have strained the US-Saudi alliance more than at any point since the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center. Only a year ago the Crown Prince was welcomed by the president in Washington, D.C., by New York’s business elite, by Hollywood’s biggest moguls and by Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs as a young reformer eager to cooperate with America to transform his backward kingdom into a modern nation. A year later he dares not come to America. Hollywood moguls like Ariel Emmanuel have pulled out of plans to invest there. Emmanuel ended his company’s planned $400 million investment in the Kingdom in early March, though other Americans quietly continue to pursue the opportunity to make money in Saudi Arabia.

While Trump is sticking by MBS, accepting his denials of any involvement in the Khashoggi murder, the CIA concluded otherwise and many in Congress are determined to punish him for Khashoggi’s death. And Saudis during January visit there expressed deep concern about the future of the Kingdom’s relationship with the US if a Democrat wins the White House in 2020. “We are going to be singled out for retribution,” frets one Saudi who closely watches his country’s relations with Washington, D.C.

Undeniably, many of MBS’ foreign policy ventures have proved costly. The Saudi boycott of Qatar, which Riyadh accuses of spreading terrorism, has driven that small sheikdom closer to Iran and Turkey without precipitating any change in Qatar’s policies. More importantly to the US, it has undermined American efforts to build greater security cooperation among Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations to reduce the security burden on Washington as the ultimate guarantor of stability in the Persian Gulf. Because the largest US Mideast airbase is in Qatar, the enmity between Qatar and Saudi Arabia has been especially trying for the Pentagon. MBS, who also is Saudi Defense Minister, seems completely unconcerned at his US ally’s discomfort. He continues to resist compromise with Qatar.

The stalemated war in Yemen is costing Saudi Arabia both financially and geopolitically. While Riyadh doesn’t disclose the cost of the war, those in a position to know estimate it consumes at least $25 billion annually. But beyond the financial costs, the growing international opprobrium over the rising number of civilian casualties there is robbing Saudi Arabia of valuable political support. Germany has ended arms sales to the Kingdom until September and made resumption conditional on progress to end the Yemen war. Pressure is growing in Britain and Canada to do likewise. Moreover, the US Congress is vowing to punish MBS for Khashoggi’s murder by blocking weapons sales to Riyadh for the war in Yemen. Trump has vetoed that congressional resolution but the damage to US-Saudi relations likely won’t end there.

Congress and the Trump Administration are also at odds over Saudi Arabia’s effort to purchase nuclear power plants to provide its domestic energy needs leaving its oil available for export. The Kingdom, considering buying nuclear technology from the US, South Korea, China or Russia, hasn’t yet agreed to safeguards that ensure it can’t enrich uranium to weapons grade. A bipartisan congressional resolution seeks to block any US nuclear technology sale without such safeguards leaving the Kingdom free to buy from Russia or China who don’t insist on such safeguards.

Beyond all the threats of tit for tat, what is going on in both Saudi Arabia and the US is a reassessment of the relationship. Since at least the presidency of George W. Bush, Saudi Arabia has been contemplating how to hedge its interests in a post-US Middle East.

Venezuela Facing Western Hypocrisy

By Hussein Samawarchi

A few months after the brutal torture and execution of Imam Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr, Saddam Hussein gave the order to attack Iran. Imam Al-Sadr represented a peaceful opposition wave against dictatorship. The popular cleric used literature as a way of mending what was wrong. For that, he was made to watch his own sister being tortured and killed while, according to witnesses, the political prisoner was beaten with metal cables until his body was covered with cuts everywhere. Then, the torturers dragged him through acid before hammering an iron nail into his head.

When Saddam invaded Iran, the western world rallied behind him. The butcher of opposition leaders received support from diplomats who published books about ethical politics as their countries shipped to him one load after another of weapons. No one who lived through that era could forget Iraq’s Exocet missiles.

If Saddam is old news now, if something more contemporary exposing western hypocrisy is favored, the event that took place in Turkey last October might do.

A team of sloppy assassins was dispatched to Istanbul. They waited for a public figure in his country’s consulate to which he was sent by none other than the brother of the current crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Jamal Khashoggi might have been a controversial personality due to his historical affiliations with fanatic movements, links with Taliban, and statements that don’t abide by journalistic objectivity norms. But he spoke through western media and therefore deserved western protection. The man was cut to pieces after being subdued and drugged. It is still not clear if the drug used rendered him unconscious during the horrific act or just paralyzed him so he could witness and feel his arms and legs being sawn-off.

The world heard a lot of condemnations and denouncements. Still, at the end of the day, not one ambassador took part in a public display of support to a journalist who was merely hinting to the need for reform in his country.

Juan Guaidó returned to Venezuela after 10 days of prancing around with his people’s enemies. He violated the constitution by declaring himself president, broke the law by traveling, instigated popular violence, cooperated with hostile foreign powers, and initiated a contraband operation on a large scale from Colombia. The renegade politician was neither dragged in acid nor dismembered. He was allowed to enter Venezuela with strict orders from President Maduro that no one would obstruct his way.

The sight of the all those foreign ambassadors welcoming the man that Mike Pence views as an American investment gives a sufficient idea of who are the stakeholders in the future distribution of Venezuelan petroleum shares should the coup being staged by Trump’s gang succeed. It’s an indication for the minority of Venezuelan people who think riches will pour in if the country is handed over to American puppets. Do they not realize that every entity which recognized Guaidó as interim president will become their partner in their national wealth?

This is the level of degradation that the western political scene has reached. Ambassadors did not react when public figures were mutilated to death but ran to the airport to welcome a man who says “A la orden jefe” to John Bolton.

There is nothing wrong in forming an opposition; actually, it’s a basic requirement for a sound democratic political system. The opposing politicians’ main duty is to act as performance auditors and highlight the ruling party’s shortcomings which, inevitably, leads to the improvement of the country and the standard of living. What they don’t do is collude with foreign powers to surrender the country’s wealth. What they don’t do is act as internal agents in a hunger campaign against their own people. And what they definitely don’t do is sell their integrity knowing that they are public servants and that integrity represents their constituency.

The topic of Venezuela is not a discussion of a mere Latin American country. Rather, a modern-day political epidemic suffered by many states. It has to do with the injection of malicious agents into a national body while this body is battered with sanctions preventing it from acquiring the necessary antibiotics and nutrition. Syria recovered, Yemen is recovering, and Venezuela is following suit. Patriotism is the remedy and it is abundant in this proud Bolivarian state.

Haaretz Tells of “Israeli”-Saudi Relations: Intelligence, Cyber, Economy and Iran on Top of Partnership

By Staff

Out of context and away from all the internal debate inside the apartheid entity, Haaretz daily chose to shed light on the Saudi kingdom.

Under a file entitled “Saudi Arabia: A Kingdom in Turmoil”, Haaretz detailed the relations between Tel Aviv and Riyadh.

According to Haaretz, “The links between “Israel” and Saudi Arabia are based on security and business interests.”

“For Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Saudis are key in Washington’s efforts to isolate the Iranian regime. The common interest is so strong that Netanyahu was one of the few leaders to publicly defend Saudi Arabia after the killing of Khashoggi last October.”

The daily further highlighted that “the Saudi-“Israeli” relationship finds expression in intelligence coordination as well.”

“Mossad chief Yossi Cohen has met with Saudi officials, and “Israel”, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates regularly share intelligence on the Iranian security threat. In some cases, there is also diplomatic coordination, as has been reported regarding the Saudis’ takeover of the Red Sea islands of Sanafir and Tiran from Egypt.”

“In 2012, a cyberattack afflicted 30,000 computers at the Saudi oil company, Aramco….According to reports in the foreign media, Riyadh responded by forming links with “Israeli” cyber companies. Since then, there has been an increasing number reports of such links, especially as Mohammed has increased his power. According to reports in the foreign media, Saudi Arabia has started issuing special entry permits to “Israeli” businessmen, who can now enter the kingdom without showing a passport.”

A company whose name keeps cropping up in this respect is Herzliya-based NSO Group Technologies. According to some sources, including Amnesty International, University of Toronto-based Citizen Lab and Forbes magazine, offensive tools provided by NSO have been used to track human rights activists, though the company has repeatedly said these allegations are wrong.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that two senior officials with key roles in the kingdom’s relations with Israel have unexpectedly lost these positions. The international community has demanded that the people responsible for Khashoggi’s murder be brought to justice; among the first to run into problems as part of the kingdom’s response were the crown prince’s adviser Saud al-Qahtani and the deputy intelligence chief, Ahmed Asiri.

Currently, the future of “Israel”-Saudi ties depends in part on Mohammed’s ability to stay in power. If the crown prince manages to restore his standing, the chances are better that he can promote reforms and conduct controversial moves in the kingdom, including closer ties with “Israel”.

Senate Set to Rebuke Trump on Support for Saudi Arabia

Source

By Staff, Agencies

The Senate is set to break with the administration’s support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen on Wednesday, likely handing President Trump his second setback from Capitol Hill this week.

“The resolution we will vote on in the Senate tomorrow to end US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen is enormously important and historic. This war is both a humanitarian and a strategic disaster, and Congress has the opportunity to end it,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement.

Three Senate aides said that they expect a resolution to come to the floor Wednesday that will call on Trump to withdraw any troops in or affecting Yemen within 30 days unless they are fighting al-Qaeda.

The resolution would need only a simple majority to pass the Senate, which approved a similar resolution in December. The resolution would need to pass the House before heading to Trump’s desk, where he has said he would veto the measure.

With Republicans holding 53 seats in the Senate, Democrats would need to win over at least four Republicans and keep their entire caucus united in order to pass the resolution. The 2018 resolution passed with 56 votes.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), one of the co-sponsors of the resolution, said that he expected the vote would be “tight” but predicted that supporters would again be able to pass the resolution, as reported by The Hill.

“It’s going to be tight,” he said late last week. “But you know nothing has happened to peel Republicans away.”

The Wednesday vote will come a day before the Senate likely hands a second setback to Trump, with the chamber scheduled to take up a resolution of disapproval on his emergency declaration. If both measures pass Congress it would pave the way for the president to have to use back-to-back veto measures to defeat legislation.

The House passed its own Yemen resolution last month but it ran into a procedural roadblock in the Senate after the parliamentarian determined that it was not privileged, the status that lets supporters pass the measure with only a majority support in the Senate.

Supporters have brought up the resolution under the War Powers Act, which gives it a privileged status that allows it to be fast-tracked through Congress and avoid the 60-vote legislative filibuster in the Senate.

Tensions over Saudi Arabia have been running high on Capitol Hill since last year’s slaying of US resident and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi, which opened up a gap between the administration and lawmakers on the issue.

Members of the Trump administration briefed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday evening about an investigation, ordered by members of the panel last year, into Khashoggi’s murder.

But Republicans on the committee appeared underwhelmed by the meeting, indicating that they didn’t learn new information.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a member of the panel, called the briefing a “waste of time,” while Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) added that lawmakers “learned very little.”

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Troubles of ‘Rich Guest’ for Pakistan, from Protesters’ Detention to Cyberspace Crackdown

Sun Feb 17, 2019 5:48

Troubles of 'Rich Guest' for Pakistan, from Protesters' Detention to Cyberspace Crackdown

TEHRAN (FNA)– Pakistan has adopted special measures, including massive presence of police and security forces in Islamabad streets and filtering a number of social media networks, to stop protest rallies against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to the country.

The Pakistani interior ministry announced that over 19,000 Facebook and 20,000 Twitter accounts which were likely to protest at Bin Salman’s visit were blocked.

The Pakistani security forces have also banned riding motorcycles with two or more passengers and protest rallies and enforced Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in Islamabad that allows imposing curfew.

Many leaders of popular and political groups who were likely to protest at the MbS visit have been arrested and the Pakistani government has declared Monday as an official holiday to prevent traffic in the capital.

Also, the exact time for bin Salman’s arrival has been kept undeclared to prevent protest rallies and gatherings.

Pakistani media said bin Salman’s visit was delayed to avoid massive popular protests and dismantle opposition gatherings.

Pakistan’s Ummat newspaper wrote that the government is hosting 1,100 companions and servants of bin Salman, which it described as “unjustifiable”.

Other media reports also cautioned that Saudi Arabia aims to downplay the role of China’s economic corridor.

The Pakistani government has also put on alert over 2,000 security forces, has issued visa for 130 royal Saudi guards for Islamabad visit, reserved 8 luxurious hotels to accomodate the MbS entourage, and missioned a special team to protect bin Salman.

Pakistani activists believe that although the Saudi crown prince has promised to invest up to $20bln in the country, the expenses of his visit are not justifiable in economic terms.

The Pakistani people in different cities continued rallies for the third consecutive day to protest at the visit by bin Salman to Islamabad.

The protestors who carried banners reading “we are opposed to the visit by murderer of Yemeni people and Jamal Khashoggi to our country and he is not welcome” called for calling off the trip.

Many Pakistani cities, including Karachi and Lahore, have witnessed protest rallies against the MbS’ visit to Pakistan.

Meantime, the Pakistani government is attempting to display that calm is prevailing the country as the MbS arrives in Islamabad.

Pakistani people believe that Saudi Arabia is trying to coax Islamabad into playing a role in Yemen war, warning that bin Salman’s presence will strengthen the terrorist and extremist groups.

Protesters took to the streets after Friday prayers in Rawalpindi, Northern Pakistan, calling on the government not to allow the Saudi prince into the country.

Leaders and activists of different parties and organizations as well as political and religious figures attended the rally.

Demonstrators say bin Salman has been behind the killing of thousands of people, including the people of Yemen.

During the visit, the crown prince will hold talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa and President Arif Alvi, according to Pakistan’s foreign office.

The prince, who will be accompanied by a delegation of businessmen, is expected to sign investment agreements worth billions of dollars with cash-strapped Islamabad.

Bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan was postponed amid widespread protests against him as well as heightened tensions in the region.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said that a two-day visit by the crown prince to Islamabad that was scheduled for Saturday had been postponed.

The ministry said bin Salman will arrive in Islamabad on Sunday, but had no further explanation over the postponement.

He will also travel to neighboring India, which is engaged in renewed tensions with Pakistan over a deadly car bomb attack in Kashmir, claimed by Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).

The last time a Saudi royal paid a visit to Pakistan was 2006, when then Saudi ruler King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz travelled to the nuclear-armed nation.

Authorities heightened measures across the capital Islamabad with Prime Minister Imran Khan saying he was personally taking care of the arrangements.

Bin Salman’s tour to the region comes at the time of increasing pressure against the kingdom over the humanitarian crisis, which is caused by Saudi’s four-year war on Yemen and the killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate last year in Istanbul, Turkey.

 

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