Europeans Leaders Refuse to Hold Official Meeting with MBS

10-06-2021

Source

Europeans Leaders Refuse to Hold Official Meeting with MBS

By Staff, Agencies

A Western diplomatic source revealed that European leaders have refused to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman [MBS] because of his black record of human rights violation.

The source stressed that in recent weeks, the Saudi embassies in UK, France, and other European countries had been seeking to arrange an official meeting between MBS and leaders of the mentioned European countries.

But European leaders have strongly refused to accept MBS neither now nor in the near future.

The unanimous response of these European countries was that bin Salman could have informal meetings without an official welcome.

European officials do not want to meet with Bin Salman in any official way for fear of domestic and international criticism, the source added.

The news comes as, in March, Media watchdog ‘Reporters Without Borders’ [RSF] filed a criminal case in a German court against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and four other high-ranking officials for “crimes against humanity” in connection with the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist critical of Saudi policies under the crown prince, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. The gruesome killing led by a Saudi hit squad drew global condemnation and adversely affected MBS’s global standing.

The CIA report, that announced that the Saudi Crown Prince had ordered the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, was the first official report in this regard.  The CIA report has led to the international isolation of the Saudi Crown Prince, at least for a relatively long time.

MBS has been in international isolation since 2017 after a coup against former Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef.

معركة تحرير مأرب… أهميتها وتداعياتها The battle to liberate Marib … its significance and repercussions

** Please scroll down for the English Machine translation **

معركة تحرير مأرب… أهميتها وتداعياتها

حسن حردان

طرح البدء بمعركة تحرير مدينة مأرب، التساؤلات حول مدى أهميتها وتداعياتها على مسار الحرب والتسوية السياسية ومستقبل اليمن، لا سيما أنّ التقدّم الكبير الحاصل في الميدان الذي يحققه تحالف اللجان الشعبية والجيش اليمني قد أدّى إلى رفع منسوب درجة اهتمام الدول الغربية بمجرياتها.. لما لذلك من انعكاسات على موازين القوى على صعيدي الميدان والسياسة.

انّ الإجابة على هذه التساؤلات وأسباب هذا الاهتمام الغربي الذي عكس مستوى القلق من التطورات الميدانية في مأرب، إنما يكمن في العوامل التالية:

أولاً، انّ إنجاز تحرير مدينة مأرب يعني عملياً سقوط آخر وأهمّ معقل للسعودية وحكومة هادي التابعة للرياض، وحزب الإصلاح الإخواني في شمال اليمن، مما سيشكل هزيمة مدوية لقوى العدوان على اليمن، ويحسم سيطرة تحالف اللجان الشعبية والجيش اليمني على كلّ المحافظات الشمالية وصولاً إلى الحدود مع محافظات جنوب اليمن.. وإبعاد التهديد عن العاصمة صنعاء، وبالتالي انهيار أحلام الرياض وحكومة هادي في استعادة السيطرة على شمال اليمن انطلاقاً من مأرب…

ثانياً، إنّ مأرب تقع جغرافياً على الحدود مع المملكة السعودية لجهة مدينتي جيزان وشرورة السعوديتين من الجهة المقابلة لمأرب.. وهذا يجعل استمرار السعودية بالعدوان، في مواجهة احتمال انتقال المعركة البرية إلى قلب هاتين المدينتين، وهو ما تتخوّف منه الرياض، وتحاول القوى التابعة لها التهويل من خطورته بالقول انّ قوات صنعاء اذا سيطرت على مدينة مأرب سوف يؤدّي ذلك الى سقوط خطّ الدفاع الأوّل عن مدينتَي جيزان وشرورة، وسيفتح سقوطها الباب أمام حركة «أنصار الله» لتوسيع نفوذها إلى كامل الحدود السعودية المشتركة مع اليمن.. وقد ذهب مدير التوجيه المعنوي السابق لقوات هادي في مأرب، اللواء محسن خصروف، إلى حدّ القول: «إنّ سقوط مأرب مُقدّمة لسقوط الرياض».. وذلك في محاولة لدفع الحكومة السعودية للزجّ بكلّ قوّتها لمنع سقوط مأرب بأيدي قوات اللجان والحكومة الشرعية في صنعاء…

ثالثاً، إنّ تحرير مأرب سيؤدّي إلى تحرير الثروة النفطية والغازية الهامة الموجودة فيها، والتي كانت تستغلها السعودية والقوى التابعة لها، وتحرم أهل اليمن منها، مما سيمكن حكومة صنعاء من امتلاك موارد هامة تعزز صمود اليمنيين ومقاومتهم في مواجهة العدوان والحصار المفروض عليهم منذ بدء الحرب على اليمن.. الأمر الذي سيشكل تحوّلاً كبيراً لمصلحة تعزيز تحرر اليمن من الهيمنة والسيطرة الأميركية السعودية، إذا ما أخذنا في الاعتبار أنّ أحد أهداف الحرب على اليمن إنما هو منع اليمنيين من التحكم في استغلال ثروتهم، من الغاز والنفط، التي يُقال إنّ اليمن يحوز على كميات كبيرة منها، وخصوصاً في مأرب، وإذا أحسن استغلالها فإنها تمكّن اليمن من تنمية اقتصاده وتحسين حياة الشعب، وتحوّل اليمن إلى دولة قوية مستقلة..

كما يوجد في مأرب محطة صافر لتوليد الطاقة الكهربائية بالغاز التي تغذي العاصمة صنعاء وعدد من المحافظات الشمالية والوسطى.. فيما سدّ مأرب يوفر مياه الري لمساحات شاسعة من الاراضي الزراعية، ولهذا اختيرت مأرب، في القدم، عاصمة للدولة السبئية، خلال الألفية الأولى قبل الميلاد، وفيها عرش ومحرم بلقيس.. وكانت تشكل حصناً لصدّ الغزاة الذين سعوا إلى احتلال اليمن منذ أيام الإمبراطورية الرومانية التي عجزت جيوشها عن احتلالها.. وكذلك جيوش الدولة العثمانية.

رابعاً، إنّ تحرير مأرب سيؤدي إلى تعزيز الموقف السياسي لتحالف اللجان الشعبية والحكومة الشرعية في صنعاء، في أيّ مفاوضات مقبلة لتحقيق التسوية للأزمة اليمنية، ويحدّ كثيراً من قدرة واشنطن والسعودية وحكومة هادي على فرض شروطهم..

خامساً، انّ تحرير مأرب وما يعنيه من انهيار آخر وأهمّ معقل لحكومة هادي وحلفائها، سيؤدّي إلى خلق مناخ عام بالهزيمة، وانهيار معنويات مقاتليهم، الأمر الذي سيولد تداعيات سريعة في مناطق سيطرتهم في جنوب اليمن، تسعر من الصراعات، المحتدمة أصلاً في ما بينهم، حول المسؤولية عن الهزيمة من جهة، وحول السيطرة على الجنوب من جهة ثانية، مما سيؤدّي إلى نقمة شعبية واسعة تعزز موقف القوى المعارضة لوجود المجلس الانتقالي وقوات هادي المدعومة سعودياً، ويوفر ظروفاً مواتية كي يتحالف أبناء الجنوب مع اللجان الشعبية والجيش اليمني لاستكمال تحرير المحافظات الجنوبية، من سيطرة قوات هادي والمجلس الانتقالي.. المدعومين من تحالف قوى العدوان.

هذه النتائج والتداعيات المتوقعة من جراء تحرير مأرب، هي التي تقف وراء ارتفاع درجة اهتمام الدول الغربية بما يحصل في مأرب، وفي المقدمة الولايات المتحدة، والتي عبّر عنها بمسارعتها إلى إطلاق التصريحات التي تدعو إلى وقف هجوم أنصار الله والقوات المسلحة اليمنية في مأرب، لمنع حصول التحوّلات النوعية في موازين القوى، لمصلحة تحالف أنصار الله والقوى الوطنية، على حساب الموقف الأميركي السعودي الذي سيجد نفسه يجلس إلى طاولة المفاوضات المقترحة لحلّ الأزمة، وهو في حالة من الضعف بعد أن مُنيَ بهزيمة قاسية، الأمر الذي يجعل حركة أنصار الله وحلفاءها في موقع من يملك القدرة على فرض الشروط، قبل انطلاق المفاوضات بوقف العدوان والحصار، وخلال المفاوضات بفرض شروط للتسوية تعزز قدرة الشعب اليمني على تقرير مصيره بعيداً عن التدخلات الخارجية.

انطلاقاً مما تقدّم يمكن فهم لماذا يرفض تحالف اللجان والجيش اليمني وقف الهجوم لاستكمال إنجاز تحرير مدينة مأرب.. ولماذا يرتفع منسوب القلق السعودي الأميركي الغربي من ذلك..

فتحرير مدينة مأرب سيشكل انتصاراً نوعياً يتوّج الانتصارات التي تحققت على مدى سنوات الحرب، وهزيمة كبرى لدول العدوان والقوى التابعة لهم، وسقوط أهدافهم التي سعت إلى القضاء على انصار الله والقوى الوطنية وإعادة إخضاع اليمن ومنع خروجه من فلك التبعية، لما يمثله من موقع جغرافي هامّ على طريق التجارة الدولية وفي الخليج حيث تتركز السيطرة الاستعمارية الأميركية على ثروات النفط والغاز وطرق إمدادها في مياه الخليج وباب المندب… وهو ما جعل إدارة الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن تدعو إلى وقف هذه الحرب لاحتواء تداعياتها السلبية على النفوذ الاستعماري الأميركي، وتعرب عن القلق من سيطرة حركة أنصار الله على مأرب، الأمر الذي قد يسهم في تسريع خطوات واشنطن لوقف الحرب، ومحاولة الحدّ من تداعيات الهزيمة، وتدفيع ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان ثمن هذه الهزيمة، وهو ما ظهرت مؤشراته من خلال إعلان البيت الأبيض انّ الرئيس بايدن سيتواصل مباشرة مع الملك سلمان، وليس مع ولي العهد، ومن ثم الإفراج عن تقرير الاستخبارات المتعلق بجريمة قتل الصحافي السعودي جمال خاشقجي.. وذلك في سياق إعادة تقييم العلاقات الأميركية مع السعودية.. ما دفع المراقبين إلى التساؤل عما إذا كانت إدارة بايدن تسعى الى تقديم محمد بن سلمان كبش فداء بتحميله مسؤولية الكارثة في اليمن، والظهور في صورة من أوقف هذه الحرب لإعادة تلميع صورة أميركا في اليمن، وتمكين الدبلوماسية الأميركية من لعب الدور المنوط بها للحدّ من الخسائر واحتواء تداعيات الهزيمة… وإعادة ترميم وتعزيز نفوذ أميركا في اليمن من خلال التسوية السياسية.. لكن السؤال هل ستتمكن من ذلك، خصوصاً بعد أن اصبح هناك مقاومة تحرّرية يمنية تملك مشروعاً للتحرر، وتسعى إلى تحقيق استقلال اليمن بعيداً عن الهيمنة والتبعية للولايات المتحدة والحكومة السعودية.. ونجحت بداية في الصمود في مواجهة العدوان، واحتواء اندفاعته، ومن ثم الانتقال من الدفاع إلى الهجوم، وفرض معادلات الردع بعد أن تكمنت من نقل الحرب إلى الداخل السعودي، وتحرير المحافظات اليمنية الشمالية من سيطرة تحالف العدوان، الواحدة تلو الأخرى، حتى أصبحنا على مقربة من تحرير واستعادة آخر محافظة شمالية، وهي محافظة مأرب الاستراتيجية من جميع النواحي، الجغرافية، والاقتصادية، والعسكرية، والسياسية.

The battle to liberate Marib … its significance and repercussions

Hassan Hardan

The start of the battle for the liberation of Marib raised questions about its importance and its implications for the course of war, political settlement and the future of Yemen, especially since the great progress made in the field achieved by the Coalition of Popular Committees and the Yemeni army has raised the level of interest of Western countries in their conduct. This has implications for the balance of power in the field and politics.

The answer to these questions and the reasons for this Western interest, which reflected the level of concern about developments on the ground in Marib, lies in the following factors:

First, the achievement of the liberation of Marib city means practically the fall of the last and most important stronghold of Saudi Arabia and the government of Hadi of Riyadh, and the Brotherhood Reform Party in northern Yemen, which will constitute a resounding defeat for the forces of aggression against Yemen, and resolve the control of the coalition of popular committees and the Yemeni army on all the northern provinces down to the border with the provinces of southern Yemen. The threat was removed from the capital Sana’a, thus collapsing Riyadh and Hadi’s government’s dreams of regaining control of northern Yemen from Marib…

Secondly, Marib is geographically located on the border with Saudi Arabia to the Saudi cities of Jizan and Sharorah on the opposite side of Marib. This makes Saudi Arabia’s continued aggression, in the face of the possibility of a land battle moving to the heart of these two cities, which Riyadh fears, and its forces are trying to downplay its seriousness by saying that if Sana’a forces take control of Marib city will lead to the fall of the first line of defense for the cities of Jizan and Shororah, and its fall will open the door for Ansar Allah movement to expand its influence to the entire Saudi border with Yemen. The former director of Hadi’s moral guidance in Marib, Major General Mohsen Khasrouf, went so far as to say, “The fall of Marib is a prelude to the fall of Riyadh.” In an attempt to push the Saudi government to put all its power to prevent the fall of Marib by the forces of the committees and the legitimate government in Sana’a…

Thirdly, the liberation of Marib will lead to the liberalization of the important oil and gas wealth in it, which was exploited by Saudi Arabia and its forces, and deprives the people of Yemen of it, which will enable the Government of Sana’a to have important resources that strengthen the resilience and resistance of Yemenis in the face of aggression and siege imposed on them since the beginning of the war. This would be a major shift in favor of strengthening Yemen’s liberation from U.S.-Saudi hegemony and control, considering that one of the objectives of the war on Yemen is to prevent Yemenis from controlling the exploitation of their wealth, from gas and oil, of which Yemen is said to have large quantities, especially in Marib, and if it is best exploited, it enables Yemen to develop its economy and improve the lives of the people, and turn Yemen into a strong independent state.

There is also a gas-fired safir power plant in Marib that feeds the capital Sana’a and a number of northern and central provinces. The Marib Dam provides irrigation water for vast areas of agricultural land, which is why Marib was chosen, in the old days, as the capital of the Sabean state, during the first millennium BC, with a throne and the Sanctuary of Balqis. It was a bulwark to repel the invaders who had sought to occupy Yemen since the days of the Roman Empire, whose armies were unable to occupy it. So are the armies of the Ottoman Empire.

Fourthly, the liberation of Marib will strengthen the political position of the Coalition of Popular Committees and the Legitimate Government in Sana’a, in any future negotiations to achieve a settlement to the Yemeni crisis, and greatly limit the ability of Washington, Saudi Arabia and Hadi’s government to impose their conditions.

Fifthly, the liberation of Marib and the collapse of the last and most important stronghold of Hadi’s government and its allies will create a general atmosphere of defeat, and the collapse of the morale of their fighters, which lead to a rapid collapse in their areas of control in southern Yemen, exacerbating the conflicts, already raging between them, over responsibility for the defeat on the one hand, and over control of the south on the other hand, which will lead to a broad popular revulsion strengthening the position of forces opposed to the presence of the Transitional Council and Hadi forces backed by Saudi Arabia, and provides favorable conditions for the people of the south to ally with the popular committees and the Yemeni army to complete the liberation of the southern provinces, from the control of Hadi forces and the Transitional Council … supported by the coalition of aggression forces.

These results and the expected repercussions from the liberation of Marib are behind the high level of interest in Western countries, and in the forefront is the United States, which was expressed its hasten to launch statements calling for an end to the attack of Ansar Allah and the Yemeni armed forces in Marib, to prevent qualitative shifts in the balance of power, in favor of the Alliance of Ansar Allah and national forces, at the expense of the American-Saudi position, which will find itself sitting at the negotiating table proposed to solve the crisis, while it is in a state of weakness after suffering a severe defeat, which makes the Ansar Allah movement and its allies in a position to impose conditions, before the start of negotiations to stop the aggression and blockade, and during the negotiations to impose terms for a settlement that enhance the ability of the Yemeni people to determine their own destiny away from foreign interventions.

Based on the foregoing, it can be understood why the coalition of committees and the Yemeni army refuses to stop the attack in order to complete the achievement of liberating the city of Ma’rib … and why the level of Saudi-American-Western concern is high.

The liberation of the city of Ma’rib will constitute a qualitative victory that culminates in the victories achieved over the years of the war, a major defeat for the states of aggression and their forces, and the fall of their objectives, which sought to eliminate Ansar Allah and national forces, re-subjugate Yemen and prevent its exit from the orbit of dependency, because of the important geographical location it represents. The international trade route and in the Gulf, where the American colonial control is focused on oil and gas wealth and its supply routes in the Gulf waters and Bab al-Mandeb … President Joe Biden’s administration is calling for an end to the war to contain its negative repercussions on U.S. colonial influence, and expresses concern about Ansar Allah’s control of Marib, which could speed up Washington’s steps to stop the war, try to reduce the repercussions of the defeat, and pay for the defeat, which was highlighted by the White House’s announcement that President Biden would communicate directly with King Salman, not the crown prince, and then release the intelligence report on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This is in the context of a reassessment of U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia. What led observers to question whether the Biden administration is seeking to cast Mohammed bin Salman as a scapegoat by blaming him for the disaster in Yemen, appearing in the form of those who stopped this war to re-polish America’s image in Yemen, and enable U.S. diplomacy to play its role in reducing losses and containing the repercussions of defeat… Restoring and strengthening America’s influence in Yemen through a political settlement. But the question is will it be able to do that, especially after there has become a Yemeni liberation resistance that has a project for liberation, and seeks to achieve Yemen’s independence away from the hegemony and subordination of the United States and the Saudi government … and it succeeded at the beginning. In steadfastness in the face of aggression, containing its impulsivity, and then moving from defense to attack, and imposing deterrence equations after it transcended the transfer of the war into the Saudi interior, and the liberation of the northern Yemeni provinces from the control of the aggression coalition, one after the other, until we became close to liberating and restoring The last northern governorate, which is the strategic Marib governorate, in all its geographical, economic, military and political aspects.

Khashoggi Murder: “He Knew Too Many Saudi Secrets on 9/11 Massacre”. US Intelligence Accused MBS but Forgot Motive

Washington Post journalist might be killed for his “invaluable inside information” after a meeting with an investigator of World Trade Center victims’ families

By Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio -March 11, 2021

by Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio 

Versione originale in Italiano

At the moment of his lightning-fast appointment the day after the inauguration of American President Joseph Biden in the White House, the Director of US National Intelligence, Avril Haines had announced the imminent declassification of the dossier on the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Those anxiously awaiting this moment were a little disappointed because the report revealed by the ODNI (Office Director of National Intelligence), the command station for all intelligence agencies from the CIA to the NSA of the Pentagon, did nothing but reiterate – with the fragile official nature of a correspondence by a partisan intelligence – what is already partly known to all the media in relation to the alleged role of “instigator” of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the brutal killing of the famous Arab commentator of the Washington Post.

Khashoggi, a distant relative of the royal family, disappeared in October 2018 after entering the Saudi Consulate General in Istanbul. Riyadh initially denied knowing of his fate but later admitted that the journalist had been brutally murdered inside the diplomatic office, denying any involvement of members of the royal family in the murder that he called a “rogue operation. “.

Washington Post columnist Jamal Kashoggi murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul

In fact, the journalist had entered the Consulate of his country in Istanbul on the morning of 2 October 2018 to obtain the documents to marry his Turkish girlfriend, Hatice Cengiz, who had remained outside waiting for him in vain. He was in fact killed and his body torn to pieces to make all traces disappear.

«We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi – read on Intelligence paper – We base this assessment on the Crown Prince’s control of decisionmaking in the Kingdom since 2017, the direct involvement of a key adviser and members of Muhammad bin Salman’s protective detail in the operation, and the Crown Prince’s support for using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad, including Khashoggi. Since 2017, the Crown Prince has had absolute control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organizations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorization».

Almost three years later, in which those responsible were sentenced by the judges of the Saudi Kingdom first to death and then “pardoned” with enormous reductions in sentences, the documents declassified by the ODNI director, Avril Haines, former CIA deputy director in the administration Obama then became one of the suspected prophetesses of the Covid-19 pandemic together with Bill Gates by participating in the famous Event 201 exercise in October 2019 financed by the Microsoft Tycoon Foundation, they add few certain details and therefore assume the importance of a political move instead that of a contribution to international justice invoked by the UN and the victim’s girlfriend.

THE ROLE OF THE ROYAL GUARD RAPID INTERVENTION FORCE

«At the time of the Khashoggi murder, the Crown Prince probably fostered an environment in which aides were afraid that failure to complete assigned tasks might result in him firing or arresting them. This suggests that the aides were unlikely to question Muhammad bin Salman’s orders or undertake sensitive actions without his consent» adds the US intelligence report which navigates the sphere of assumptions before revealing any circumstantial elements.

«The IS-member Saudi team that arrived in Istanbul on 2 October 2018 included officials who worked for, or were associated with, the Saudi Center for Studies and Media Affairs (CSMARC) at the Royal Court. At the time of the operation, CSMARC was led by Saud al-Qahtani, a close adviser of Muhammad bin Salman, who claimed publicly in mid-2018 that he did not make decisions without the Crown Prince’s approval» the ODNI document reports.

«The team also included seven members of Muhammad bin Salman’s elite personal protective detail, known as the Rapid Intervention Force (RIF). The RIF-a subset of the Saudi Royal Guard-exists to defend the Crown Prince, answers only to him, and had directly participated in earlier dissident suppression operations in the Kingdom and abroad at the Crown Prince’s direction. We judge that members of the RIF would not have participated in the operation against Khashoggi without Muhammad bin Salman’s approval».

The document desecreated by US intelligence on Khasoggi’s assassination – click on image for pdf

The document concludes with a list of Saudis who would have had a role in this “pre-planned” action but it is not known “how far in advance” adds the office headed by Avril Haines before exposing another fundamental random element «We have high confidence that the following individuals participated in, ordered, or were otherwise complicit in or responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi on behalf of Muhammad bin Salman. We do not know whether these individuals knew in advance that the operation would result in Khashoggi’s death».

NO SANCTIONS FOR THE CROWN PRINCE

The information gathered by the “NIO (National Intelligence Officer) for Near East” and by the powerful counter-espionage of the Central Intelligence Agency, however, did not know – or wanted – to reveal the probable motive for the murder, at the time hypothesized by two interesting journalistic investigations that did not they were highly regarded by the US secret services because they risked reopening a sore wound.

Both the Australian Herald Sun and the American Florida Bulldog, in fact, highlighted too many things Kashoggi knew about the role of the Saudis in the 9/11 attacks as the probable cause of the crime.

Before seeing why this track is at least likely and supported by significant clues, let’s analyze the immediate consequences of the ODNI dossier. The document expresses “a high conviction” about the responsibilities of the individuals involved in the journalist’s death.

US President Joe Biden on Friday said that “significant changes” to policies between the US and Saudi Arabia will be announced as early as Monday. “I spoke to the king yesterday, not the prince. I made it clear to him that the rules are changing and that we will announce significant changes,” Biden told Univision in an interview. “We will hold them accountable for human rights violations and make sure that […] if they want to deal with us, they will have to deal with it in a way that deals with human rights violations.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

In practice, however, Saudi prince Mohamed bin Salman will not be hit by US sanctions. Politico reports this, citing sources from the US administration. The US Treasury is preparing to impose sanctions on Saudi general Ahmed al-Asiri, former deputy head of the intelligence services in Riyadh, for the Khashoggi assassination. Sanctions also for the Saudi Rapid Intervention Force involved in the murder.

The US State Department launches the so-called ‘Khashoggi policy’ or ‘Khashoggi ban’ to punish all people who, acting in the name of a government, are thought to have directly participated or participate in activities against “serious and extraterritorial” dissidents . The Bloomberg agency reports. The US administration has already identified 76 people who could be sanctioned with the withdrawal or restriction of visas.

“The government of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia completely rejects the negative, false and unacceptable assessment contained in the report concerning the kingdom’s leadership, and notes that the report contained inaccurate information and conclusions,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit “expressed his support for the statement by the Saudi Foreign Ministry refuting the conclusions of the US intelligence report, underlining that the latter is not a judicial or international body and that the related to human rights should not be politicized ”.

STOP OF AMERICAN WEAPONS FOR SAUDI ARABIA

In just a month since his inauguration, this is the second time that President Biden has targeted the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Previously it had in fact suspended the sale of arms to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi (UAE capital) in relation to the embargo on Yemen, often violated by suppliers such as the American war coropration Raytheon through subcontracts such as the one to the German Rehinmetall which used the branch factory. Italian (in Sardinia) to honor supplies with various escamtoge recently blocked by the government of Rome right after the Biden provision.

However, it should be remembered that the “Abrahamic Agreements” on the normalization of relations between the Persian Gulf countries with Israel will allow Tel Aviv to become an intermediary in the arms business.

Israeli ministers approved $ 9 billion worth of arms purchases with the United States on Sunday, the New Arab reported. The sizeable deal includes the purchase of Chinook helicopters, F-35 warplanes and aerial refueling tankers, as well as a large amount of bombs and ammunition, ”Middle East Monitor wrote on 14 February.

A few days later Biden tweeted: “I spoke today with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and affirmed the firm commitment of the United States to the security of our ally Israel. Our teams are in constant contact to strengthen US-Israel strategic cooperation on all regional security issues, including Iran”. About a week later the POTUS (President of the United States) ordered the US Air Force F-35s to bomb Iranian militias in Syria that have been haunted by Israeli Defense Forces missiles for years.

It should also not be forgotten that Raytheon had an exceptional American consultant until a few weeks ago: General Lloyd Austin, former commander of various missions in the Middle East who discharged from the US army in 2016, appointed by Biden.

CIA TOP SECRET FILE: THE US WAR IN SYRIA PLANNED SINCE 1983

And it is important to remember that during the previous administration of President Barack Obama (of which Biden himself was deputy) the Pentagon and the CIA Mom project supplied Raytheon missiles to the Syrian jihadist factions, with the excuse that they were rebels against the Bashar Al Assad regime. in the attempt of regime change planned by the Central Intelligence Agency itself since his father Haziz ruled in 1983, as confirmed by a document declassified by the USA and published exclusively by Gospa News.

As revealed by the SETA dossier, another study unveiled in Europe by our web media, 21 groups suspected of being linked to Islamic terrorism were in fact given supplies of the deadly BGM-71 TOW anti-tank rockets (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided – launched from a tube, optically tracked, remote guided), designed by Hughes Aircraft in the 1960s, but currently manufactured by Raytheon.

It is therefore reasonable to assume that the precious sale of American bombs to Saudi Arabia will be able to continue through other channels: not only Israel but also the United Kingdom, already protagonist of a colossal business in the Arms Lobby with the Muslim Brotherhood, as we will see in others. reportage.

This is why the truth is always hidden behind a veil of diplomatic hypocrisy as in the case of the murder of the Muslim journalist of the Washington Post.

THE JOURNALIST OF THE MUSLIM BROTHERS

When I was looking for updated information on the September 11 2001 massacre to write a synthetic report aimed at highlighting the international complicity behind the attacks attributed to Al Qaeda, I came across some precious articles that correlated the attack on the Twin World Trade Center Towers with the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

The question is so complex and obscured by misdirections that I do not claim to spread absolute certainties. But the reportages to which I will refer confirm each other and the reliability of one of them is indirectly confirmed by the authoritativeness of a journalist who made various scoops by interviewing some of the American senators who supported not only the thesis of an international intrigue behind the massacre plot but they blamed Saudi Arabia without any hesitation.

In the Australian newspaper Herald Sun, investigative reporter Andrew Bolt already on October 16, 2018 analyzed the complex figure of Kashoggi, suspected of being an Arab secret agent, before becoming a champion of human rights as a columnist for the Washington Post of Jeff Bezos, founder and owner of Amazon but also an exemplary figure of that financial Deep State transversal to Republicans and Democrats, supported by international Freemasonry and military intelligence.

AL BAGHDADI: ISIS CALIPH AND MOSSAD-CIA AGENT HIDDEN BY US

«In truth, Khashoggi never had much time for western-style pluralistic democracy. In the 1970s he joined the Muslim Brotherhood, which exists to rid the Islamic world of western influence. He was a political Islamist until the end, recently praising the Muslim Brotherhood in the Washington Post» Bolt adds perhaps forgetting those who argue that this Islamic political-religious organization would have been created by Western Freemasonry to more effectively control the Middle East through the historical allies of Turkey and Qatar where in fact the Muslim Brotherhood are more influential as highlighted in the reportage Weapons Lobby 4.

Herald Sun then recalls the murdered reporter’s connection with «Yasin Aktay — a former MP for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) — whom Khashoggi told his fiancée to call if he did not emerge from the consulate. The AKP is, in effect, the Turkish branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. His most trusted friend, then, was an adviser to President Erdogan, who is fast becoming known as the most vicious persecutor of journalists on earth. Khashoggi never meaningfully criticised Erdogan. So we ought not to see this as the assassination of a liberal reformer».

Heavy words especially because they refer to a man killed and then dismembered to hide his remains. But which are in perfect harmony with the theory reported in a serial dossier by Irina Tsukerman, a lawyer specializing in human rights and national security in New York, an analyst on geopolitics and on US foreign policy on American and Israeli publications such as Begin- Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (Besa).

«In the wake of Qassem Soleimani’s killing by the US, Iran’s significant role in 9/11 briefly gained currency. What remains completely obscured, however, are the Saudi Islamists hiding in plain sight, who are trading on their past associations with Western intelligence to pursue the same agenda they had pre-9/11. Saudi Islamists have both an ideological and a financial interest in seeing the kingdom’s modernizing Vision2030 fail».

The lawyer wrote on the Israeli website specializing in military intelligence and therefore exposing himself to the risk of having some connection with the Mossad, the notorious counterintelligence of Tel Aviv, suspected of having had an occult direction both in the training of ISIS leader Al Baghdadi as in the attacks of 11 September 2001 as repeatedly reported by Veterans Today, an information portal managed by the former CIA officer, Gordon Duff, and by Gospa News in our previous investigation.

Precisely for this reason we must first verify and carefully analyze the correlations on the World Trade Center massacre mentioned by Tsukerman who, by calling into question the Iranian Shiite Muslim confession, sworn enemy of the radical Sunni-Salafis such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudi Wahhabis, already smell of obvious and gigantic misdirection. To confirm the bias of Tsukerman’s dossier, his three reports are no longer traceable on Besa (but we have screenshots).

KHASHOGGI, FRIEND OF BIN LADEN AND SPY IN RIYADH AND LONDON

But one sentence is instead interesting because it is linked to the Australian article: «Much of what everyone thinks they know about the reform efforts of King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) is actually disinformation produced by these “dissidents.” They include former Saudi intel and Muslim Brotherhood members like Jamal Khashoggi, who wanted Saudi Arabia to become more, not less, like the Islamic state envisioned by Khashoggi’s friend Osama bin Laden».

Let’s close this Israeli parenthesis and return to the Herald Sun which continues the analysis: «Khashoggi and his fellow travellers believe in imposing Islamic rule by engaging in the democratic process… This matters because, although bin Salman has rejected Wahhabism — to the delight of the West — he continues to view the Muslim Brotherhood as the main threat most likely to derail his vision for a new Saudi Arabia. Most of the Islamic clerics in Saudi Arabia who have been imprisoned over the past two years — Khashoggi’s friends — have historic ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Khashoggi had therefore emerged as a de facto leader of the Saudi branch. Due to his profile and influence, he was the biggest political threat to bin Salman’s rule outside of the royal family».

Al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden

«He had befriended Osama bin Laden in the 1980s and 1990s in Afghanistan and Sudan while championing his jihad against the Soviets in dispatches. At that same time, he was employed by the Saudi intelligence services to try to persuade bin Laden to make peace with the Saudi royal family. The result? Khashoggi was the only non-royal Saudi who had the beef on the royals’ intimate dealing with al Qaeda in the lead-up to the 9/11 attacks. That would have been crucial if he had escalated his campaign to undermine the crown prince» .

«Like the Saudi royals, Khashoggi dissociated himself from bin Laden after 9/11 (which Khashoggi and I watched unfold together in the Arab News office in Jeddah). But he then teamed up as an adviser to the Saudi ambassador to London and then Washington, Prince Turki Al Faisal» adds Andrew Bolt.

Finally, the Australian journalist recalls that «The latter had been Saudi intelligence chief from 1977 until just ten days before the 9/11 attacks, when he inexplicably resigned. Once again, by working alongside Prince Turki during the latter’s ambassadorial stints, as he had while reporting on bin Laden, Khashoggi mixed with British, US and Saudi intelligence officials. In short, he was uniquely able to acquire invaluable inside information».

ELIMINATED THE WHISTLEBLOWER ON 11 SEPTEMBER

Following the thesis of the Australian reporter who demonstrates that he knew the murdered colleague well, one therefore wonders what he wanted to do with that privileged information … Let’s try to respond with an analysis of human psychology first and then a journalistic investigation. As it turns out, Jamal had really fallen in love with his Turkish girlfriend, Hatice Cengiz, so much so that he was willing to challenge the dangers of which he was well aware in order to go to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to collect the documents necessary for the marriage.

It is therefore evident that in order to guarantee a peaceful future for himself and above all for his wife, he may have first made some attempts to mediate a sort of “immunity” from Riyadh and then instead tried to free his conscience about 9/11 by making the secrets public. in his possession in order to frustrate a possible attack against himself.

If I venture into this logical speculation it is only because I have carefully read the article published in the Florida Bulldog by the American investigative journalist Dan Christensen, who became famous for his interviews on the international conspiracy behind the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York.

The attacks resulted in the deaths of 2,996 people (including all 19 hijackers) and the injury of over 6,000 others. The death toll also included 265 on the four hijacked planes (of which there were no survivors), 2,606 in the World Trade Center and surrounding area, and 125 in the Pentagon.

«““Khashoggi was killed not because he was a dissident, but because of his contact with us,” said James Kreindler, a prominent New York attorney who represents thousands of 9/11 family members and survivors who are suing Saudi Arabia. A month after Saudi-born Khashoggi was allegedly killed and dismembered by a Saudi hit team on Oct. 2, 2018, the U.S. intelligence community disclosed intercepts of communications with Khashoggi’s phone to others. One exchange was with Khalid bin Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed’s younger brother who was then serving as the Saudi ambassador to the US» reported Florida Bulldog.

The Washington Post reported on the alleged conversation between KBS telling Kashoggi to go and collect documents at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for his planned wedding assuring him that “it would be safe to do so.” The revelation was part of the CIA dossier that today accuses Mohamed Bin Salman but a few hours later the Saudi ambassador denied the call.

“As we told the Washington Post the last contact I had with Mr. Khashoggi was via text on Oct 26 2017. I never talked to him by phone and certainly never suggested he go to Turkey for any reason. I ask the government to release any information regarding this claim,” Khalid wrote on Twitter on Nov. 16, 2018” Khalid wrote on Twitter on Nov. 16, 2018.

MYSTERIOUS MEETING BETWEEN KASHOGGI AND THE INVESTIGATOR

According to attorney Kreindler, October 26, 2017 was also the day Khashoggi met with a 9/11 family investigator in Washington.

«“Khashoggi was part of the intelligence community and we knew he knew a lot about the Saudi government’s involvement in 9/11. He was connected to the Muslim Brotherhood and to [former Saudi Crown Prince] Muhammad bin Nayef, and that’s the reason our investigator went to speak with him,” said Kreindler. “She said would you come to New York and talk to my boss? He said yes”» wrote Christensen. Then he reports the personal considerations of the lawyer of the World Trade Center victims.

“I’m sure that as soon as she left, he called KBS [Khalid bin Salman] and said, ‘Look, the 9/11 lawyers are on to me. They know that I know what you guys did and I didn’t give ‘em anything, but you’re holding my kid in Saudi Arabia and if you harm him I will.’ So my belief is that Khashoggi was killed not because he was a dissident, there are lots of dissidents, but because he was holding this ax over the Saudis’ heads.” told the lawyer.

According to Kreindler, however, it was a preliminary meeting in which Kashoggi, in voluntary exile from Saudi Arabia since September 2017 due to a “climate of fear and intimidation, did not provide any useful information.

The Florida Bulldog article ends by reminding that “there are still other reasons why the kingdom may have wanted Khashoggi’s death. In early 2018 Khashoggi would be involved in creating a defense group called Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) for a counter-narrative to the skeptics of the Arab Spring, initiated by the Obama-Biden administration.

REPORTER UNDER STOCK FOR THE WTC INVESTIGATION

Journalist Christensen had already highlighted the alleged responsibilities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by participating in a sensational interview by Matthew Ogden with former Senator Bob Graham in Naples, Florida, on November 11, 2014. Senator Graham was co-president of the joint Congressional 9/11 inquiry.

«The subject of the interview is the urgency of declassifying the redacted 28 pages of the Congressional Joint Inquiry’s report to expose the role of Saudi Arabia in financing not only the Al Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001, but also continuing to finance ISIS and related terrorist organizations today». This was also highlighted by Gospa News in relation to the bombing of the Churches of Sri Lanka in Easter 2019 and in reference to the use of death row inmates in the war in Yemen, witnessed by an exclusive document that proves the links of intelligence of Riyadh by sending militiamen to Al Qaeda even after the attacks on the Twin Towers.

«Investigative reporter Dan Christensen of the Broward Bulldog, as well as Miami-based first amendment attorney Tom Julin also participated in the interview. Christensen and Julin have been instrumental in combating persistent stonewalling by the Federal Bureau of Investigations in pursuing crucial leads pertaining to connections between a prominent Saudi family and a cell of 9/11 hijackers in Sarasota, Florida prior to the 9/11 attacks».

It was highlighted years ago by an article by LaRouchePAC, the communication project of the enterprising Lyndon Hermyle LaRouche Junior, a US politician and activist of the Democrats who passed away in 2019, who for years opposed the Deep State by proposing himself as a candidate in the presidential primary multiple times, even when he ended up in jail for some quirky tax violations uncovered by the FBI that he had accused of cover-ups for the World Trade Center tragedy.

AGGRESSIVE DECEPTION AT THE CONGRESS

In the same reportage was reported a public statement released by the same Senator Graham who launched heavy accusations for the international conspiracy and the consequent misdirection which he defined as an “aggressive deception” at the United States Congress and the public in relation to the attacks.

“The connection is a direct one. Not only has Saudi Arabia been promoting this extreme form of religion, but it also has been the principal financier, first of Al Qaeda, then of the various Al Qaeda franchises around the world—specifically the ones in Somalia and Yemen— and now the support of ISIS…I believe that had the role of Saudi Arabia in 9/11 been disclosed by the release of the 28 pages, and by the declassification of other information as to the Saudi role and support of the 9/11 hijackers, that it would have made it much more difficult for Saudi Arabia to have continued that pattern of behavior, and I think [we] would have had a good chance of reining in the activity that today Canada, the United States and other countries either are or are considering going to war with.” stated Graham on October,9,2014.

Bush, Cheney Bandar and Rice on the White House balcony on September 13, 2001 – source LaRouchePac

«It’s not a secret that the Saudi Royal family is very close to the Bushes. In fact, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, former Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., whose role in 9/11 is highly questionable, is known to many as “Bandar Bush.” Perhaps the Bush Administration blocked the release of the 28 pages to defend the KSA, whom they view as a close family friend, a business partner, and political ally» is the conclusion of LaRouchePAC who in another reportage shows the photo of former US President George W. Bush jr, Vice President Cheney, Condoleeza Rice and Saudi Prince Bandar on the balcony of the White House on September 13, 2001. Two days after the Holocaust of the Twin Towers.

The 28-page document was then declassified in the following years (we will soon make a summary report of the contents), demonstrating the close links between exponents financed by the Saudi government and the Al Qaeda terrorists who planned the attack by the kamikaze hijackers. But relations between the US and Saudi Arabia did not change one iota and the 9/11 investigation remained shrouded in the dust of the collapse of the two towers and building 6 imploded without ever having been reached as if there had been the reported explosion. by many experts. That dust forms a thicker and thicker blanket on the truth.

Today another US Intelligence dossier arrives, unveiled on the political indication of the new president Joe Biden who accuses Bin Mohamed Salman of the brutal murder of Jamal Kashoggi but, just like then, nothing happens between Washington and Riyadh … It is perhaps specious remember that former Republican President Bush junior made a fundamental endorsement for Biden’s victory in the hot 2020 election campaign that pitted him against outgoing President Donald Trump?

A small reaction to the horrendous execution of the Muslim Washington Post journalist took place in Europe. Reporters Without Borders announced that it had filed a complaint in Germany for crimes against humanity against the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed ben Salman, for his “responsibility” in the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and in the incarceration of a thirty of his colleagues. Presented on Monday to the Attorney General of the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe “for his jurisdiction” on major international crimes “, the complaint” concerns the widespread and systematic persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia “, reads an RSF statement.

Will something happen? We do not believe since the MK 80 bombs used by Saudi Arabia also against Yemeni hospitals were produced in Sardinia by RWM Italia Spa which is a subsidiary of the German Rheinmetall, subcontractor of a contract between the Arabs and the American Raytheon …

The Weapons Lobby is stronger than any massacre: even today’s one started with the Covid-19 pandemic, built in a laboratory according to virology and intelligence experts, and continued with Big Pharma vaccines in a single colossal project of the New World Order to control of the world population first in terms of health, then economic and finally military.

read more…

Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio
© COPYRIGHT GOSPA NEWS for VETERANS TODAY only
no reproduction without authorization – Versione originale in Italiano


MAIN SOURCES

GOSPA NEWS – WUHAN.GATES REPORTS

GOSPA NEWS – CORONA VIRUS DOSSIER

GOSPA NEWS – OSINT INVESTIGATIONS

GOSPA NEWS – WARZONES REPORTS

GOSPA NEWS – JIHADISTS REPORTS

MIDDLE EAST MONITOR – ISRAEL DEAL FOR US ARMS PURCHASES

HERALD SUN – DID SAUDIS KILL KHASHOGGI FOR HIS 9/11 SECRETS

FLORIDA BULLDOG  – KHASHOGGI MET 9/11 VICTIMS’ INVESTIGATOR

LAROUCHEPAC – 28PAGES HIDDEN ON 9/11 INQUIRY

AUTHOR DETAILSFabio Giuseppe Carlo CarisioDirector , Gospa NewsFabio is Director and Editor of Gospa News; a Christian Information Journal. Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio, born on 24/2/1967 in Borgosesia, started working as a reporter since he was only 19 years old in the alpine area of Valsesia, Piedmont, his birth region in Italy. After studying literature and history at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, he became deputy director of a local newspaper and specialized in judicial reporting. For about 15 years he is a correspondent from Northern Italy for the Italian newspapers Libero and Il Giornale, also writing important revelations on the Ustica massacre, a report on Freemasonry and organized crime. With independent investigations he collaborates with Carabinieri and Guardia di Finanza in important investigations that conclude with the arrest of Camorra entrepreneurs or corrupt politicians. In July 2018 he found the counter-information webmedia Gospa News focused on geopolitics, terrorism, Middle East and military intelligence. He is a correspondent from Italy for the French news site Reseau International. He worked since many years for the magazine Art & Wine as art critic and curator http://www.art-wine.eu/https://www.gospanews.net/redazione@gospanews.net

The Khashoggi Bomb: What Does Biden Want from Riyadh & What Are MBS’s Options?

The Khashoggi Bomb: What Does Biden Want from Riyadh & What Are MBS’s Options?

By Ali Abadi

The release of the US intelligence community’s declassified report on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is more than two years overdue. Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

The sanctions announced by the administration of US President Joe Biden did not include specific measures against Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. This despite the fact that the report pins the murder on the royal. The report states that the hit team could have only gotten its marching orders from the Crown Prince, given the latter’s tight grip on the security apparatus.

The CIA report did not introduce any new information. But the intelligence assessment about what transpired and who is responsible are important. The substance of the report was toned down following several weeks of consultations between Biden and his team. The aim was to avoid pushing their Saudi ally into a corner and keeping an outlet for him to modify his behavior in line with the policies of the new US government.

The report asks correlative questions

Do the steps taken by the US administration regarding the assassination of Khashoggi indicate a turning point in the relations between the two states? Are they merely scoring political points in restoring American soft power by pretending to protect human rights? Or are these steps the end of the tolerance phase practiced by former US President Donald Trump and do they mark the start of a new relationship based on new-old foundations?

American review

First, let’s review the steps that have been taken to date by the Biden administration vis-à-vis the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:

– Halting the supply of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE and pushing for an exit from the US-sponsored Saudi predicament in Yemen

– Calling for the release of human rights activists in the Kingdom.

– Stopping US communication with the Saudi Crown Prince and limiting presidential communication with King Salman

– Announcing gradual steps, even if currently conditional, to return to the nuclear agreement with Iran

– Perhaps most importantly, the declaration of a break from the Trump era in several areas, including those related to dealing with Saudi Arabia leading up to the release of the Khashoggi report

It is clear that the new administration in Washington doesn’t enjoy a harmonious relationship with the current ruling team in Saudi Arabia, specifically with Mohammed bin Salman, who seized power by force, imprisoned his opponents [some of whom are in cahoots with officials in the deep state in America] or placed them under house arrest. Bin Salman is attempting to buy the support of the US government for all his reckless actions, while harming American soft power, especially with the open wound in Yemen.

There is a very important point that may be the main motive behind the new way America is dealing with Riyadh. Circles of the American elite, among the Democrats in general and even some Republicans, feel indignant and suspicious regarding the very special relationship between the Saudi Crown Prince and former US President Donald Trump and his entourage. The Democrats, in particular, want to break this relationship and expose it retroactively. There is a current within the Democratic Party that wants to go further than Biden in dealing with Riyadh. However, the US President preferred a traditional approach that separates the relationship with the Saudi Crown Prince from the one with the entire Saudi government, despite the fact that the two are indistinguishable. Even the Saudi King cannot break away from the authority of his favorite son, and this is another story.

How will Saudi Arabia respond?

Saudi Arabia’s official version about the trial of Khashoggi’s killers is irrelevant. The outcome of the trial was always a foregone conclusion, and it ended in limiting the charges to a number of people and removing the accusation not only from the Crown Prince but from his two closest associates, Saud Al-Qahtani and Ahmed Al-Asiri.

The death penalty against the killers was also abolished, while the family of the victim was compelled to waive their right to retribution in exchange for financial compensation [a typical Saudi procedure in such cases]. Of course, we are not interested now in recovering the contradictions of the official Saudi narrative, which involved disjointed narratives since the assassination saga began to unfold.

However, each of the above steps is sufficient to annoy the Saudis, who are very disappointed with the end of the Trump era, in which the Saudi Crown Prince invested hundreds of billions of dollars in order to cover his impulsive policies. Trump left, and the Saudi money went to the US treasury and American companies. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is once again in the dark about the American agenda that represents an extension of the Obama era. Faced with the American moment of truth, the Saudi government will have to deprecate this incomplete revelation through:

– Downplaying the importance of the US measures and the talk that the Saudi judiciary has spoken in the case

– Stirring up patriotism among the Saudis to give renewed legitimacy to the Crown Prince, whose image was tarnished by this crime

– Betting on time to overcome this saga

– Accelerating the relationship with “Israel” in order to use its influence in Washington to moderate the dealings with the Saudi Crown Prince. In this sense, normalization becomes a price [currently hidden] for legitimizing Bin Salman’s status in Washington

– Hinting to the Americans that Riyadh is looking for alternatives to American weapons with China and Russia, for example, in order to push Washington to reduce its criticism of the Saudi Crown Prince

Most of what the Biden administration wants is for Riyadh to return to the ranks of the passenger rather than Saudi Arabia leading the United States to where it wants in the region, especially after the Saudi Crown Prince proved unprecedented recklessness in managing internal affairs and a lack of efficiency in managing regional challenges.

The Biden administration also wants to preempt any Saudi or non-Saudi objection to returning to the nuclear agreement with Iran and to dispel any attempt by Riyadh and others to enlarge their role in a way that disturbs the new government managing this file from the perspective of various US priorities. We should pause here at an interesting point, which is that the Biden administration is adopting a triple containment strategy for objections to the nuclear deal that was reached in the era of the Democrats in 2015.

This strategy includes, in addition to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and “Israel”. In addition to stopping the US presidential communication with Bin Salman and halting offensive weapons supplies to Riyadh, Washington has also stopped arms deals with the UAE and has allowed, in a carefully studied time frame, to publish satellite images of construction operations at the “Israeli” Dimona reactor, at a time when Netanyahu waited weeks to receive a call from Biden.

In conclusion, the new US administration aims to get rid of Trump’s legacy on several levels and reset US-Saudi relations to a purely American rhythm, but the desired justice stopped with Mohammed Bin Salman.

Let’s remember:

– Jamal Khashoggi’s body was never found, and the Saudi side refuses to reveal its fate.

– We are facing a declassified US report, which means that the US administration preferred to keep secret facts under wraps in order to preserve relations with Saudi Arabia and maintain the loyalty of Riyadh.

– We are facing scanty measures against those involved in the crime. Not granting them entry visas to the United States is the weakest measure in the huge US sanctions arsenal, and Washington was satisfied with the weaker punishment.

– The bitter cup was removed from the Crown Prince, although the moral message was received.

– It is important to note the impact of this position on the way European countries and the international community view the Saudi Crown Prince, who will remain in his father’s shadow as long as the latter is alive.

The question remains: What is Mohammed Bin Salman’s fate after the current king? Will his past be overlooked and his position on the altar of American strategic interests be normalized, or is Washington thinking about reopening the path of the caliphate in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is currently unavailable after Bin Salman smashed all possible alternatives?

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‘Don’t give murderers a free pass’: Outrage as Biden refuses to sanction MBS

Activists and lawmakers say Saudi crown prince must face consequences after US intelligence report confirmed he was responsible for Khashoggi murder

US intelligence assessment revealed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman authorised the assassination (AFP/File photo)

By Ali HarbUmar A Farooq in Washington

Published date: 27 February 2021 00:06 UTC |

The virtual ink on a US intelligence report blaming Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi had not dried when the Biden administration ruled out imposing sanctions on the crown prince – a move that rights groups say would be fundamental for ensuring justice for the slain journalist.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed on Friday that Washington will not take action against the crown prince himself. 

The US State and Treasury departments had announced sanctions against dozens of Saudi individuals over their involvement in the Khashoggi murder and other rights violations without identifying them.

“What we’ve done by the actions that we’ve taken is really not to rupture the relationship but to recalibrate it to be more in line with our interests and our values,” Blinken told reporters.

Earlier on Friday, the State Department unveiled new visa restrictions dubbed the “Khashoggi Ban” that would allow Washington to target “individuals who, acting on behalf of a foreign government, are believed to have been directly engaged in serious, extraterritorial counter-dissident activities”.

For its part, the Treasury said it imposed sanctions on several Saudi officials, including Ahmed al-Asiri, former deputy head of military intelligence at the time of Khashoggi’s assassination, and members of the hit team that carried out the murder, known as the “Tiger Squad” or Rapid Intervention Force.

However, without sanctions against MBS, who the US government now publicly acknowledges was responsible for the killing, some advocates and lawmakers are saying the mastermind of the assassination is getting away with murder.

‘Unconscionable’

Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch, called failure to impose sanctions on MBS over the killing “unconscionable”.

“The fact that the US has sanctioned so many of MBS’s associates but not him sends a terrible message that the higher up in a government you are, the more likely it is you can commit crimes with impunity,” Prasow told MEE. 

“It also undermines US credibility. It’s hard to see what incentive MBS has to alter his conduct, whether inside Saudi Arabia, in his conduct in the war in Yemen, or in other extraterritorial attacks on dissidents, when he knows he can literally get away with murder.”

Khashoggi, a former Saudi government insider and journalist who wrote for the Washington Post and Middle East Eye, resided in the United States before his death.Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved Khashoggi murder, US report says

Saudi government agents murdered him and dismembered his body at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, while he was trying to retrieve personal paperwork, in October 2018. 

After initially insisting that Khashoggi left the building alive, Saudi officials acknowledged that the journalist was killed more than two weeks after the murder. But Riyadh insists that the assassination was a rogue operation that happened without the approval of top officials.

The murder sent shockwaves throughout Washington, amplifying criticism against the kingdom in Congress, but former President Donald Trump moved to shield Riyadh and particularly the crown prince from the fallout.

The Trump administration had refused a legally binding congressional request to release a report on the US intelligence community’s findings about the involvement of Saudi officials in the murder.

The administration of President Biden, who had called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” as a presidential candidate in 2019, made the report public on Friday, documenting what experts had been saying for years – that the murder, which involved the crown prince’s aides, could not have happened without his blessing.

Saudi Arabia was quick to reject the findings, calling the US assessment “negative, false and unacceptable”.

‘Free pass’

While rights groups hailed the release of the report as a step towards ensuring accountability for the murder, the administration’s failure to impose sanctions on the lead perpetrator left many disappointed.

“The Biden administration is trying to thread the needle. They want to continue to work with a partner that has committed a heinous act against a US resident, while taking some steps toward accountability,” Seth Binder, advocacy officer at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), told MEE.

“But if human rights is really going to be at the center of US foreign policy, as the administration has repeatedly stated, then it can’t give murderers a free pass.”

Before taking office, Biden vowed to “reassess” US-Saudi relations. Since his inauguration, he has paused some arms sales to Riyadh and announced an end to Washington’s support for the kingdom’s “offensive operations” in Yemen.

Still, many rights advocates and lawmakers are demanding a more forceful approach to Riyadh and MBS from Washington.

‘We’re calling on the Biden administration to move ahead with accountability measures to sanction MBS personally’

– Raed Jarrar, DAWN

“We’re calling on the Biden administration to move ahead with accountability measures to sanction MBS personally, along with everyone else who is implicated in that killing,” said Raed Jarrar, advocacy director at Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).

Established last year in Washington, DAWN, a rights group, was envisioned by Khashoggi before his murder.

Speaking at a news conference after the release of the report, Jarrar urged ending US weapons sales to the kingdom. “Transparency is meaningless without accountability,” he said.

Philippe Nassif, advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA, said many rights advocates are “disappointed” in Washington’s decision against sanctioning MBS. 

He added that Congress and the Biden administration should halt offensive arms sales to Saudi Arabia, not only over the murder of Khashoggi, but also for the mistreatment of dissidents at home and war crimes in Yemen.

“And this goes for France. And this

Congress members call for sanctions

Leading Congress members from Biden’s own Democratic Party said on Friday that the president should impose sanctions on MBS.

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar announced on Friday that she will be introducing a bill to penalise the crown prince. She called the release of the report a “turning point” in US-Saudi relations.

“To this day, we continue to supply Saudi Arabia with US arms that are used to commit human rights abuses around the world,” the congresswoman said in a statement. 

“To this day, we still cooperate with the Saudi regime on defensive war efforts – including intelligence sharing. These must end. And there must be direct consequences for Mohamed bin Salman and his functionaries.”Will the CIA report cost Mohammed bin Salman his throne?

Congressman Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee who has been pushing for making the report public, hailed releasing the assessment but said the administration should do more to hold MBS accountable.

He decried going after those who carried out the assassination, but not the leader who ordered it.

“The report itself is pretty remarkable in saying in no uncertain terms that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia ordered the capture or killing of an American resident and journalist, that essentially the crown prince has blood on his hands,” Schiff told CNN. 

“I would like to see the administration go beyond what it is announced in terms of repercussions to make sure there are repercussions directly to the crown prince.”

Ron Wyden, a key Senate Democrat, also underscored the need to ensure that MBS is punished for the murder.

“By naming Mohammed bin Salman as the amoral murderer responsible for this heinous crime, the Biden-Harris administration is beginning to finally reassess America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and make clear that oil won’t wash away blood,” he said in a statement.

“There is still far more to do to ensure that the Saudi government follows international laws. There should be personal consequences for MBS – he should suffer sanctions, including financial, travel and legal – and the Saudi government should suffer grave consequences as long as he remains in the government.”

Related

Biden Seeks to Sideline Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Biden Seeks to Sideline Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

By Stephanie Kirchgaessner- The Guardian

The Biden administration has said it expects Saudi Arabia to “change its approach” to the US and signaled that it wants to minimize any direct contact between the president and the country’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The stance marks an abrupt change compared with the Trump administration, which showered the young heir with attention and praise. It comes as intelligence officials are preparing to release – possibly as early as next week – a declassified report to Congress that will describe its assessment of the crown prince’s alleged culpability in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the US-based Washington Post journalist who was killed by Saudi officials in 2018.

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, this week said Joe Biden intended to “recalibrate” the US relationship with Saudi Arabia, and considered King Salman – not Prince Mohammed – to be his counterpart. While the designation might technically be true, the 35-year-old prince is widely seen as running Saudi Arabia and has direct relations with other foreign leaders.

In Washington, the question now is whether the latest remark merely represented a symbolic snub, or whether it was more significant, and suggested the US was trying to exert pressure on the king to change the line of succession and demote Prince Mohammed.

In response to a question about whether the administration was seeking to press for such a change, a state department spokesperson said Saudi Arabia was a key partner on “many priorities” but that the partnership needed to “reflect and be respectful of the values and interests the US brings to that partnership”.

“The American people expect that US policy towards its strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia prioritizes the rule of law and respect for human rights. Accordingly, the United States will cooperate with Saudi Arabia where our priorities align and will not shy away from defending US interests and values where they do not,” the spokesperson said.

The person added: “President Biden has also said he would want to hear how Saudi Arabia intends to change its approach to work with the new US administration, and we look forward to those discussions to shape the future of our relationship.”

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said Biden was sending a clear message to the Saudi royal family that as long as “MBS” – as the crown prince is known – was in the line of succession, Saudi Arabia would be treated “as a pariah”.

“I don’t know what the administration is thinking but the best outcome would be [for Saudi Arabia] to remove him. He can retire to his chateaeu in France,” Riedel said.

Other analysts said it was more likely the administration was seeking to demote and de-emphasize the relationship, even as it has made clear that it has a partnership with the kingdom. Biden used his first foreign policy speech to announce that the US would end support of the Saudi-led offensive campaign in Yemen, and was ending sales of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia for use in the conflict. At the same time, the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has said it “remains committed to bolstering Saudi Arabia’s defenses”.

Michele Dunne, the director of the Carnegie Endowment’s Middle East program, said it appeared that the Biden administration was seeking to send several signals at the same time: that it wants to end US complicity in the Yemen war; wants to pursue an agreement with Iran; and believes there is a legitimate need for Saudi to defend its borders.

“There may also be a new signal now that the new administration is not invested in MBS. Whether that means they are hoping to use US influence to suggest a change in succession, I don’t know. They may be seeking to distance themselves a bit,” Dunne said.

She added that the Biden administration’s concerns probably went far beyond the US intelligence assessment that Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered Khashoggi’s murder.

“The whole world has a problem on its hands when it comes to MBS ascending to the throne because we have all seen how reckless and brutal he is,” Dunne said.

Biden’s approach appears to be roiling Prince Mohammed’s inner circle.

In a comment to Politico, the Saudi businessman Ali Shihabi, who is close to the royal family, pointed out that King Salman was “functioning but very old”.

“He’s very much chairman of the board. He’s not involved in day-to-day issues. Eventually, they’re going to want to be talking directly to MBS,” he said.

Seth Binder, who works in advocacy at Pomed (Project on Middle East Democracy) said he did not believe Prince Mohammed was being particularly singled out by Biden, who had so far decided not to contact many of the region’s leaders. Biden spoke to “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.

“Ultimately the distinction they are trying to make is that MBS is one individual and not the whole country, which is contrary to the image MBS himself tries to portray. The idea that [Prince Mohammed] is a reformer who is bringing Saudi Arabia into a new age, it just isn’t true,” Binder said. “While the US might work with autocratic countries, it needs to distinguish between the rulers and the country itself. So its engagement with Saudi Arabia going forward should continue to do this.”

تنمّر بن زايد على بن سلمان: قضيّة خاشقجي نموذجاً!

الأخبار

Image result for ابراهيم الأمين

ابراهيم الأمين 

الخميس 4 شباط 2021

يحرص الجانبان الإماراتي والسعودي على إخفاء التباينات بينهما حول أمور كثيرة. لكن الأمر لا يكون على هذا النحو لدى الجهات المتابعة، سواء في محيط قادة البلدين، أو لدى الدبلوماسية العربية والغربية النشطة في العاصمتين. والبارز في أن وثائق سرية تثبت ما ينقله دبلوماسيون عملوا في الجزيرة العربية عن أن في أبو ظبي من يشكو ضيق هامش المناورة بسبب طبيعة وليّ العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان. لكن هؤلاء الدبلوماسيين قلّما تحدّثوا عن الجانب الأكثر تعقيداً في العلاقة، وهو المتصل بسعي الإمارات الدائم للقيام بدور “الوصي الرقيب” على سلوك الإدارة السعودية الجديدة. ولذلك، تهتم قيادة الإمارات بأن يعمل دبلوماسيوها في الرياض، وبعض الباحثين المتعاقدين مع وزارة الخارجية وأجهزة الأمن، على إعداد تقارير تخص الوضع السعودي.

دبلوماسي فرنسي عمل في أبو ظبي، قال لزميله اللبناني إن مشكلة أبو ظبي مع الرياض مثل مشكلة لبنان مع سوريا قبل عام 2005. حينذاك، لم يكن بمقدور القيادة اللبنانية القيام بأي خطوة ذات بعد استراتيجي من دون الحصول على موافقة دمشق. وها هي الإمارات تنتظر موافقة الرياض على أي مبادرة. ومتى تصرفت من تلقاء نفسها ارتفع الصوت في قصر اليمامة… لكن في الإمارات يتجنّبون رفع الصوت. وأكثر المتضررين هو محمد بن راشد، الذي يشعر بضيق الأمور على دبي، فهو من جهة يبدو مكبل اليدين، ويرى بأن بن سلمان يريد منافسة إمارته على وجه التحديد، وأن محمد بن زايد لا يفعل له شيئاً.

واضح أن قيادة الإمارات كانت تأمل بعلاقة مختلفة مع الرياض بعد تولّي محمد بن سلمان أمور البلاد، تصرف محمد بن زايد على أن ولي العهد السعودي سيكون شريكاً كبيراً في مشروع توسيع نفوذ دول الخليج في المنطقة والعالم. وتعامل معه على أساس أنهما يمثّلان العقل الجديد للجزيرة العربية. تحالفهما يتجاوز الإضرار بخصمهما الأول تميم بن حمد في قطر، بل يشمل تركيا أيضاً. ولذلك وضع بن زايد ثقله في تطوير العلاقة الشخصية مع بن سلمان، الى أن حصل فجأة ما غيّر الأمور.

يقول الدبلوماسي الغربي: فجأة، تغيرت الأحوال. صار بن سلمان يتصرف بطريقة مختلفة. وما إن أنجز عملية استيلائه على كامل السلطات في بلاده، ونجح في إطاحة خصومه من العائلة وخارجها، حتى صار يتصرف مع بن زايد بطريقة مختلفة.

ولفت الدبلوماسي نفسه الى أن الرياض استاءت من أداء الجانبين الإماراتي والمصري في قضية قتل جمال خاشقجي لأنها كانت تتوقع أن يقفا الى جانبها بقوة. وهو أمر تظهره وثائق سرية حصلت عليها «الأخبار». واللافت أن سلوك الدبلوماسية الإماراتية تجاوز موقع المتابع، ليركّز على تفاصيل تظهر الرغبة الدفينة بتغييرات داخل المملكة من شأنها إضعاف محمد بن سلمان وعودته الى “بيت الطاعة” كما كان عليه الأمر يوم تولّيه المسؤولية. وما تظهره الوثائق، يكشف حجم التوغل الإماراتي داخل الأوساط الحاكمة في السعودية، وقدرة فريقها على استخلاص المعلومات، ما يشير الى القدرة على بناء شبكة علاقات قوية، أو رغبة المعارضين لبن سلمان في إيصال صوتهم الى خارج أسوار الرياض، ولو عن طريق أبو ظبي. بل يظهر بوضوح “حالة التشفي” التي توازي فعل “التنمّر” من جانب فريق بن زايد على فريق بن سلمان.
في هذه الحلقة، تنشر “الأخبار” بعض الوثائق الصادرة عن جهات إماراتية رفيعة المستوى، تعرض لجوانب من هذه الأزمة، وكيفية قراءتها لانعكاسات ما يجري على وليّ العهد السعودي وحكمه داخل المملكة وعلى صورته وموقعه ودوره خارج السعودية.

مقالات ذات صلة

How Saudi Arabia Gets Away with Murder

How Saudi Arabia Gets Away with Murder

By Steven Cook – Foreign Policy

On Wednesday, the Saudis opened their annual confab in Riyadh, officially called the Future Investment Initiative but widely referred to as “Davos in the Desert.” That nickname had always annoyed the people who run the World Economic Forum and its signature event in Davos, Switzerland, because they—like most of the rest of the world that is concerned about protecting their brand—haven’t wanted much to do with Saudi Arabia and its crown prince in recent years.

That trend may be coming to an end, however. Increasingly, things are back to business as usual in Riyadh. A veritable A-list of Wall Street and private equity titans flew in for the event this week. Gone are the days when the leaders of the financial services industry stayed away, fearing the reputational costs of becoming associated with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. The remains of the journalist and onetime courtier to Saudi power centers have yet to be found. But investors have now decided there are deals to be done.

They are making a bet that the stated commitment by human rights organizations, journalists, and a relatively bipartisan group of US lawmakers to hold Saudi Arabia accountable doesn’t amount to much—and they may be right.

There is a general expectation in Washington that the Saudis are going to have a rough time with the new Biden administration. During the presidential campaign, Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris vowed that they would “reassess our [America’s] relationship with the kingdom, end US support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, and make sure America does not check its values at the door to sell arms or buy oil.” After being sworn in as president earlier this month, Biden made good on that promise when he froze—at least temporarily—arms sales to Saudi Arabia that his predecessor approved.

Saudi Arabia is a problematic ally. In the last five years, its crown prince launched a futile military campaign in Yemen that has killed and injured tens of thousands of people, oversaw the hit team that dismembered Khashoggi, presided over the arrests and abuse of reformers, and led an international embargo of Qatar [which is also a not a model ally, but it is a critical security partner for the United States]. There are also lingering questions about Saudi Arabia and the role of its citizens in the attacks on New York and Washington in 2001. As much as the Saudis want Americans to forget, there were 15 young Saudi men on those planes, not Qataris.

It is true that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has overseen important social changes in Saudi Arabia that have improved the lives of his citizens, but that does not diminish the entirely reasonable desire to hold the Saudis accountable for his many transgressions. Doing so may be harder than it seems, however.

There was never a chance that the global business community was going to write off Saudi Arabia. Sure, CEOs stayed away for a while, but even at the height of the outrage over Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder, Saudi Arabia remained a place where people believed they could make money. And since that is the sine qua non of financiers, consultants, and oil companies—and firms that provide all kinds of services—Mohammed bin Salman was forced to spend some time in the penalty box, but he was never made the international pariah some hoped he would become. Yes, the Saudis have a range of economic problems, the wisdom of vanity projects like the would-be high-tech city of Neom escape most people who look at them, and Riyadh’s efforts to restructure its labor market and establish the institutions of a market economy are enormous and difficult tasks—but the Saudis still have the biggest economy in the Middle East, which makes it an attractive partner to those who showed up in Riyadh for the Future Investment Initiative.

There is an argument to be made that just because business leaders want to consort with the Saudis that does not mean that the US government is obligated to do the same. That’s true enough—but that’s not to say Washington is simply free to do whatever it likes. It faces the constraints of geopolitics. At the same time that leaders of industry were rubbing shoulders in Riyadh, the US military was beefing up its presence in Saudi Arabia just in case there is conflict with Iran. US military planners see Saudi Arabia as an important partner in Iran policy. That includes the potential Iran policies under consideration by the Biden administration, whether they involve rejoining the 2015 nuclear agreement or negotiating a new deal. To make either work, the administration is going to need Riyadh to support the deal, which means that American negotiators are going to have to be sensitive to Saudi concerns.

Related to Iran and the geopolitics of the region is the war in Yemen. The Saudi assault on its neighbor to the south, which began in 2015, accomplished everything the intervention was supposed to prevent. As a result of Riyadh’s poorly thought-out and poorly executed military operations, the Iranians now actually do have a relationship with Ansarullah, and Saudi Arabia is less secure. The war is unwinnable, and the Saudis need to get out. What remains to be seen is whether they can do so without US help. The Saudis would no doubt like that help in the form of enhanced border security, including weapons systems.

This is going to be a tough decision for the administration given the strong strain of animus toward the Saudis in Washington and the Biden-Harris team’s own stated policy to “reassess” America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. One argument they might respond with is: Screw them. Let them figure out how to get out of their own quagmire. That is understandable, but it’s not wise. It is in America’s interest both for the Saudis to get out of Yemen and for them to maintain good ties with Washington. Like it or not, Saudi Arabia is Washington’s primary interlocutor in the region, and an American deal with Iran is going to have to run at least partway through Yemen.

But should the United States cut the Saudis off from what they seem to love most about America—its fancy weapons systems? This is no longer in the realm of theoretical. The Biden administration’s ongoing review of Saudi Arabia will assess how it uses American weapons, specifically how many civilians it has killed and maimed in the process. Given the damage inflicted by Saudi Arabia in Yemen, such a reckoning is appropriate. But even if it allows Americans to take further steps to end their complicity in Saudi Arabia’s Yemen debacle, one should also acknowledge that it will not end that war.

Lost in all the discussions about “accountability” is the problem of defining what it would actually look like. Do Saudi Arabia’s critics want to see the crown prince replaced or in the dock? The United States is not going to determine Saudi Arabia’s leader. Even if the US intelligence community releases what it knows about the murder of Khashoggi—as the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, has demanded, and as the new director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, committed she would do in her written response to questions from senators during her confirmation hearings—Mohammed bin Salman will be the crown prince the next day and the day after that and the day after that, and so on. No doubt it would cause an international uproar, forcing those currently attending Davos in the Desert to stay away for a few years or maybe more. But they will find their way back to Saudi Arabia so long as they calculate that doing so is still good for business.

Also missing in the chatter about accountability are the potential consequences of imposing it. This isn’t to dismiss the idea of calling out the Saudis and refusing to sell them weapons out of hand but rather a plea to weigh the costs and benefits of such an approach. The Saudis may prove unwilling to work with the United States on a new nuclear deal with Iran or even try to undermine an agreement. Riyadh may feel encouraged to drift toward Washington’s competitors. Folks in Washington might dismiss that as idle threats, but the Chinese have a lot to offer, and the Russians are particularly good at taking advantage of stress between the United States and its traditional partners in the region. At the very least, tighter ties between the Saudis, Chinese, and Russians can make things harder for the United States, especially since great-power competition is now alleged to be the framework for American foreign policy.

Then again, US policymakers may not care about the downside risks of holding the Saudis accountable. Energy resources from the Persian Gulf are still important to the United States, but not like they once were, diminishing the urgency long attached to the Middle East and importance of close ties with countries like Saudi Arabia. The stakes may no longer be so high, giving the Biden team more room to maneuver. It just seems that up until now few inside the Beltway have worked through what accountability means in a rigorous way. That is unfortunate, because foreign policy by exhortation is likely to fail.

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البندريّة وخطاب التركفيصيليّة..لكلّ مقام مقال

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سعادة ارشيد

بعد زمن قصير من توقيع دولة الإمارات العربيّة والبحرين على اتفاقيات التطبيع مع (إسرائيل)، أجرت إحدى الفضائيّات المحسوبة على السعوديّة، مقابلة من ثلاث حلقات مع بندر بن سلطان، سفير بلاده الأسبق في واشنطن، وأمين سابق لمجلس الأمن الوطني السعودي، استعرض خلالها الأدوار التي قام بها والتي لعبتها بلاده في الجزيرة العربية والإقليم والعالم، واستفاض في حديثه عن الشأن الفلسطيني بشكل مسموم طال القيادة ولم يترك الشعب، فقد اعتبر الفلسطيني محامياً فاشلاً عن قضية عادلة، وأنّ القيادات الفلسطينية تتاجر بالقضية لحساباتها الخاصة، ثم أنها قيادات قاصرة عن فهم السياسة ومتخصّصة في إضاعة الفرص، وفوق ذلك أنها ناكرة للجميل ومتطاولة على مَن يُحسن إليها، وهي عادة فلسطينية حسب المقالة البندريّة. وقد تطايرت سهام هجومه في اتجاهات عديدة لتطال إيران والحوثيين في اليمن، والأتراك والقطريين والمقاومة اللبنانية، وكذلك فضائيتي «المنار» و»الجزيرة»، لكن سهامَه طاشت عن دولة الاحتلال أو أنّ أقواله قد سقطت سهواً أو عمداً… لا يهمّ، إذ إنّ بندر بن سلطان لا يرى فيها دولة عنصرية ولا يعرف عن وحشيتها ودمويّتها، وأنها عنصر من عناصر القلق في الإقليم، التي حدّدها ابن عمه تركي الفيصل منذ أيام، فالشرّ كله حسب بندر هو في مَن أصابته سهامه.

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هذه التوجهات لم تكن مستغربة عند مَن يتابع الأداء السعودي، وعند مَن تابع مسيرة بندر بن سلطان، وما يجيش في أعماقه من عقد نفسيّة، وما مارسه من أدوار في التحريض على الأمن القوميّ من العراق إلى سورية والمقاومة اللبنانية، ثم اليمن وإيران وأفغانستان، ومن عرف علاقاته المشبوهة مع المحافظين الجدد في واشنطن إبان رئاسة بوش الابن، وما يستتبع ذلك من علاقة مع دولة الاحتلال، يُضاف إلى ذلك ما عرف عنه من فساد في صفقة اليمامة، والتي قيل إنّ حجم الرشى والعمولات التي دفعت في تلك الصفقة هي الأضخم في تاريخ الفساد.

لما كانت قناة (العربية) السعودية شبه الرسمية، هي من أجرى المقابلة، ولما كان توقيتها قد أعقب توقيع اتفاقات التطبيع الخليجية، فقد افترض العقل السليم أن المقابلة تمثل تدشيناً لخطاب إعلامي سعودي جديد، يعبّر ويتواءم مع الانهيارات الخليجية ويمثل مقدمة لسياسة سعودية جديدة تتمثل باللحاق بركب التطبيع عندما يحين الوقت المناسب.

بما أنّ مربط خيول البترودولار قد انتقل منذ زمن من لندن إلى واشنطن، وأتت نتائج الانتخابات الأميركية على غير ما يرغبون وبالضدّ من استثماراتهم في دعم المرشح الخاسر، الأمر الذي جعل من ضرورات السعودية أن تتمايز عن شركائها الذين استعجلوا التطبيع ـ وإنْ كانت قد دعمت تلك الخطوة ـ وأصبح من أولوياتها نسج علاقة مع الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة التي سبق أن أبدت عدم إعجابها بالأداء السعودي وبشكل خاص بولي العهد، وربما ستبقى قصة اغتيال الصحافي الخاشقجي السعودي الجنسية والديمقراطي الانتماء والهوى، مخرزاً في عنق ولي العهد لمعاقبته وابتزازه.

في مقلب آخر، يعاني نتنياهو من مصاعب داخلية، خاصة بعد رحيل حاميه ترامب، الأمر الذي دعاه للإلحاح على ولي العهد السعودي لزيارته في مدينة «نيوم» على أن تبقى الزيارة سراً، حتى عن الحكومة (الإسرائيلية) والجيش، ثم قام بتسريب الخبر للصحافة، نتنياهو لا يهمّه إلا مكاسبه حتى لو أخلّ بوعوده وأحرج مضيفه السعودي، الذي وقع في ارتباك وحرج. مثّل ذلك إزعاجاً بالغاً للسعودية، خاصة أنّ الزيارة لم تكن لها أية قيمة أو معانٍ سياسية أو أمنية أو اقتصادية، وإنما كانت بمنظور ولي العهد علاقات عامة لأيام مقبلة، قد يُبنى على مقتضاها التطبيع السعودي عندما تنضج الظروف ويتولى ولي العهد العرش، ولكنها بمنظور نتنياهو، هدف في ملعب خصومه في الحكومة، ونجاح يدعمه في الانتخابات القريبة وأمام جمهوره الذي قد يُسهم في خلق حالة رأي عام تدعمه أمام القضاء الذي سيمثل أمامه لا محالة.

لطالما مثلت السياسة السعودية مظهراً رزيناً وحذراً في العلن، ورسمت لنفسها صورة من الوقار والجدّية، والالتزام بثوابت الدين والسياسة، ولكن نتنياهو قد فضح المستور وبخس تلك الصورة النمطيّة الزائفة. سرعان ما جاء الردّ السعوديّ من قبل الدولة العميقة أو للدقة للعائلة السعودية العميقة، وعلى لسان تركي الفيصل رجل الاستخبارات السعودية العتيق والمحنّك، والذي يُعتبر صندوق بلاده الأسود، في خطابه في المنامة وعلى مسمع ومرأى وزير الخارجية الإسرائيلي والعالم أجمع، أراد تركي الفيصل استرجاع هيبة الدولة والعائلة ومشروعيتهما سواء الإسلامية بسدانة الحرمين وقيادة العالم الإسلامي، والسياسة بقيادة (الاعتدال العربي)، ومجلس التعاون الخليجي، وتركي الفيصل لا يريد لابن عمه ولي العهد بموقعه الرسمي أن يقع فريسة لنتنياهو وحساباته السياسية، أو لأعداء السعودية المتربّصين، الذين سبق لبندر بن سلطان أن عدّدهم بالاسم.

مَن يستمع لخطاب تركي الفيصل قد يلتبس عليه الأمر ويظنّ لوهلة، أنّ الخطيب أحد قادة معسكر المقاومة، أو أنه رجل من الزمن الجميل الذي مضى والذي كان فيه قيمة لنبرة التحدّي، اتهم تركي الفيصل (إسرائيل) بأنها دولة عنصريّة تخالف الشرائع الدولية والإنسانية، فهي تعتقل وتقتل وتهدم البيوت من دون رادع، وأنها وإنْ ادّعت أنها دولة مستهدفة وصغيرة إلا أنها دولة بغي وعدوان، وأنها لا تحمل أية قيم أخلاقيّة سامية تدعيها، ثم أنها امتداد للاستعمار الغربي، وقال غير ذلك كثيراً وللقارئ أن يعود إلى نص الخطاب.

لكن القراءة السياسية للخطاب، تلاحظ أنّ رسائل قد تسرّبت بين فقرات الحماسة والغضب، وقد تكون هي أهمّ ما في الخطاب، تركي الفيصل لا يرى في اتفاق أبراهام كتاباً منزلاً من عند الله، وإنما هو مرتفع من لدن الإدارة الأميركيّة الراحلة، وبالتالي فإنّ تعديلات يجب أن تجري عليه بحيث يقترب من مبادرة الملك فهد بن عبد العزيز 2002 في بيروت والتي عُرفت باسم المبادرة العربية للسلام، والتي يمكن اختصارها: تطبيع شامل مقابل دولة فلسطينية وسلام شامل، هذا الأمر يرى تركي الفيصل أنّ من شأنه إعادة تجميل صورة بلاده، وفي موقع آخر قال إنّ (الإسرائيلي) يصرّح برغبته بأن يكون صديقاً للسعودية، فيما يطلق كلابه من سياسيين وإعلاميين لتنهش في اللحم السعودي، وتشيطن وتشوّه صورة السعودية. وفي هذا إشارة للحملات الإعلامية (الإسرائيلية) والغربية التي تجد في ملف حقوق الإنسان في السعودية ما يُقال، كما أنه يشير بطرف خفي لتسريب الإعلام (الإسرائيلي) لخبر زيارة نتنياهو للسعودية، كما أنه بذلك يضع شرطاً مسبقاً لأيّ لقاء أو علاقة مستقبلية مع (إسرائيل)، بأنّ عليها أن تلتزم باحترام بلاده وعدم التدخل في شؤونها الداخلية وملفات حقوق الإنسان التي طالما وجدها الإعلام الغربي و(الإسرائيلي) مادة دسمة.

معروف عن تركي الفيصل قديماً أنه رائد من رواد التطبيع والعلاقة مع (إسرائيل)، سواء في ملفات الأمن أو السياسة، وقد كان من أدواته وأزلامه في هذا المجال أنور عشقي السيّئ الصيت والسمعة، وبالتأكيد أنّ تركي الفيصل لم يغادر ـ ولن يغادر اصطفافه القديم ـ ولكنه يريد ترشيد العلاقة مع (إسرائيل) وإنضاج التطبيع مع المحافظة على مكانة ودور بلاده، وإبطاء أية اندفاعة متعجلة وغير محسوبة بدقة يقوم بها ولي العهد، ولا يريد وهو من رجال العائلة العميقة أن تكون بلاده وعائلته أداة من أدوات نتنياهو في صراعه مع أشكنازي وغانتس وغيرهم من الساسة (الإسرائيليين). تركي الفيصل لم يغادر موقعه، تماماً مثل ابن عمه بندر بن سلطان، وكلاهما لم ينطق عن هوى أو عن وحي يوحى، وإنما نطق كلّ منهما حسب مستجدات السياسة، والسعودية تستجيب للمتغيّرات، كلاهما مثل العقلية السعودية التقليدية، ولكن من دون أن تتغيّر هذه السياسة او تغادر اصطفافاتها، أو تستقيل من وظيفتها.

*سياسيّ فلسطينيّ مقيم في جنين – فلسطين المحتلة

Saudi Arabia’s abominable human rights record

November 30, 2020 – 11:33

By Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman is an American award-winning author, syndicated columnist, and Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

Like the U.S., Israel, and other rogue states, the Saudis operate by their own rules in flagrant violation of international laws, norms, and standards. It’s the world’s head-chopping/public whippings capital. Anyone can be targeted for exercising free expression, human rights activism, or other forms of dissent against despotic rule.

They’re also vulnerable for not praying at designated times, improper dress code, non-observance of gender segregation, and other nonconformity with Wahhabi extremism.

Its documented high crimes include state-sponsored murder, torture, arbitrary arrests, and detentions, supporting ISIS and other terrorist groups, partnering in U.S. regional wars, banning free elections, denying due process and judicial fairness, prohibiting religious freedom, human trafficking, kidnappings, committing crimes of war and against humanity, along with virtually every other rule of law breach imaginable.

In mid-November, the London Daily Mail reported the following: “Saudi interrogators forced jailed women’s rights activists to perform sex acts, hung them from ceilings and ‘tortured’ them with electric shocks,” citing a report, titled: “A Stain on World Leaders and the G20 Summit in Saudi Arabia: The shameful detention and torture of Saudi women.”

The report explained that in May 2018, “10 human rights defenders who had successfully campaigned” to end the prohibition against women driving were arrested and detained. 

Weeks later, nine more arrests and detentions followed. Targeted individuals were activists for women’s rights in the kingdom. A few are males who support gender equality were also arrested. Most individuals targeted remain detained. It was learned that they were “subjected to torture, inhuman and degrading conditions of detention, solitary confinement, and unfair trial processes.”

In the report, human rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy called on G20 nations to boycott the virtual November 21-22 Riyadh summit until wrongfully detained women are free. Other charges included forcing them to watch pornography, along with performing other sexual acts on interrogators.

One detained woman was reportedly told: “I’ll do whatever I like to you, and then I’ll dissolve you and flush you down the toilet.” Another woman said Saudi King Salman’s younger brother, Prince Khalid bin Salman, oversaw what went on, at one point saying:  “I can do anything I like to you.”

Commenting on her report, Baroness Kennedy said horrendous abuses endured by detained women in the kingdom wouldn’t be tolerated in “decent nation(s),” adding: “Being expected to deliver for interrogators, what that has done to the soul of a woman is so terrible.”

Saudi abuses against nonviolent activist women are typical of how their ruling authorities always operate — showing contempt for the rights of ordinary people, tolerating no dissent.

Crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) is the kingdom’s torturer assassin-in-chief. He personally signed off on the October 2018 brutal murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate. In 2017, he arrested and detained hundreds of royal family members and Saudi businessmen. Held under house arrest at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, they were forced to pay tens or hundreds of billions of dollars in cash and assets to the regime for release — MBS grand theft on the phony pretext of rooting out corruption. 

He consolidated power by eliminating rivals and terrorizing potential ones. Royal family members, Saudi businessmen, and others in the kingdom not willing to affirm loyalty to his rule risk arrest, detention, torture, and elimination.

Since appointed crown prince in June 2017 — gaining power because his of father’s mental and physical deterioration — he’s ruthlessly gone all-out to solidify it unchallenged. He likely OK’s sexual and other torture of detained women activists.

UN secretary-general Guterres is largely silent about Western, Israeli and Saudi high crimes, serving their interests instead of condemning them. As long as Saudi Arabia is oil-rich, its wealth used to invest in Western countries and buy their weapons, as well as partnering in their regional wars, their ruling authorities will turn a blind eye to the worst of kingdom high crimes.
 

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For Trump’s Middle East allies, Joe Biden is a new nightmare

 Source

David Hearst
17 November 2020 14:19 UTC | Last update: 17 hours 25 mins ago

David Hearst is the editor in chief of Middle East Eye. He left The Guardian as its chief foreign leader writer. In a career spanning 29 years, he covered the Brighton bomb, the miner’s strike, the loyalist backlash in the wake of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in Northern Ireland, the first conflicts in the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in Slovenia and Croatia, the end of the Soviet Union, Chechnya, and the bushfire wars that accompanied it. He charted Boris Yeltsin’s moral and physical decline and the conditions which created the rise of Putin. After Ireland, he was appointed Europe correspondent for Guardian Europe, then joined the Moscow bureau in 1992, before becoming bureau chief in 1994. He left Russia in 1997 to join the foreign desk, became European editor and then associate foreign editor. He joined The Guardian from The Scotsman, where he worked as education correspondent.


The president-elect’s actions in the Middle East will be dictated by events. But the loss of Trump represents a body check for the ambitions and aspirations of Gulf hegemons
Then Vice President Joe Biden during a visit to Saudi Arabia in 2011 (Reuters)

You can detect the shadow of Donald Trump fading from the Middle East in the nervous twitches of his closest allies.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is accelerating settlements before the inevitable freeze or pause in construction in January when President-Elect Joe Biden takes over. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is releasing just a fraction of the estimated 60,000 political prisoners he has stashed in his jails.

Trump’s Middle East triumphs will soon turn to disaster

Read More »

Sisi’s television anchors are, from one day to the next, given different scripts to read out. Take the sad case of Nashaat al-Deehy. When Biden was a candidate, al-Deehy trashed him: “Joseph Biden will become the oldest US president in the history of the United States of America. On 20 November he will be 78 years old. This will impact his mental situation and he suffers from Alzheimer’s and therefore is not fit to be president of the United States of America.”

But once the US media had called Biden president-elect, al-Deehy became respectful. “We have just learned that President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi sent a congratulations cable to US President-elect Joe Biden. This man has great respect for Egypt and is known to be wise and he listens well. He does not take decisions frantically. He does not take decisions when he’s angry. All of this was missing in the case of Donald Trump, who was violent and stubborn and arrogant. All of this we’re seeing it.”

Small gestures

The Saudi ambassador in London is in an equal turmoil. One day he hints to the Guardian that jailed women activists could be freed during the G20 summit next week.

“The G20, does it offer an opportunity for clemency? Possibly. That is a judgment for someone other than me,” said Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. “People ask: is it worth the damage it is causing you, whatever they did? That is a fair argument to make and it is a discussion we have back at home within our political system and within our ministry.”

The next day he calls in the BBC to deny what he has just said.

Poor ambassador.

The king himself is by no means immune from wild policy swings. He has started being nice to Turkey.

A week after the earthquake in Izmir, Salman ordered the dispatch of “urgent aid” to the city. Then we learn that the king of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were in talks. The occasion was to present condolences for the death of the Bahraini Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa. But direct contact with a satellite of Riyadh would have been impossible without a green light from the diwan, the Saudi royal court.

Ever since Erdogan refused to let the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul drop, he has become a hate figure in Riyadh. Turkey has been declared – repeatedly –  a regional threat by Saudi social media and Turkish goods subject to a growing boycott. Now it has all changed.

These are small gestures, but telling ones, as Trump leaves office.

CIA bites back

Top of the list of nervous allies is the man who used Trump to fashion his rise to power.

Biden has every incentive to encourage MBS’ many enemies in the Royal family to step forward to prevent the over ambitious prince from becoming King

To become crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) had to get rid of, and trash the reputation of his elder cousin Mohammed bin Nayef, who was at the time the CIA’s prime asset in the country and the Gulf region. Before he did this, bin Salman phoned Jared Kushner, Trump’s son in law and Middle East adviser, to ask permission. It was given, sources with knowledge of the call told Middle East Eye.

Biden knows bin Nayef personally. Bin Nayef’s chief of staff and former interior minister Saad al-Jabri has fled to Toronto. A few days after Khashoggi’s assassination in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, MBS despatched another crew from the Tiger Squad to kill al-Jabri, according to a lawsuit filed under the Torture Victim Protection Act in the US District of Columbia.

Al-Jabri was lucky. Border agents at Toronto International Airport detected the operation and sent it back home. All this is active evidence. None of this has been dealt with. The CIA’s own assessment that MBS ordered Khashoggi’s killing has never been published.

It is not just Biden himself the crown prince has to fear – although the presidential candidate reserved his sharpest words for the killing of Khashoggi – but the return of the CIA to the top table of decision making in the White House.

Overnight MBS goes from having a president in the White House who “saved his ass”, as Trump put it, to a successor who is not remotely interested in doing the same. Biden has every incentive to encourage MBS’s many enemies in the royal family to step forward to prevent the over-ambitious prince from becoming king. There are enough of them, by now.

Get out of jail card

An Oval Office under new management leaves MBS with relatively few options.

He could use Israel as his get-out-of-jail card, by pushing for recognition and normalisation. There is bipartisan support in Congress for the Abraham Accords signed between the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel.

How Mohammed bin Salman is quietly enabling an Israeli axis in the Arab world

Read More »

Although the incoming Biden administration will put more emphasis on restarting direct negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, it would not stop another major Arab state like Saudi Arabia from joining the party.

The opposition to Saudi normalisation with Israel would be at home, not abroad. Recognising Israel would be perilous domestically. However much Saud alQahtani’s social media trolls bully Saudi public opinion, it is ferociously pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist.

Never more so than today, Palestine remains the key source of instability in the Middle East, the conflict that defines it, the conflict that endures as a symbol of European colonisation and Arab humiliation.

The custodian of the Two Holy Mosques recognising Israel? Not over many Muslims’ dead bodies.

Each time MBS has had to walk back on his wish to recognise Israel (and he was very near to flying to Washington and playing the role of smiling sponsor at the signing ceremony in the White House, before cancelling at the last minute) he has turned to his father, the king, to say that nothing has changed and reaffirm official state policy.

This is the Arab Peace Initiative published by his predecessor King Abdullah in 2002 and it only allows  recognition of Israel after a negotiated solution has been found based on 1967 borders.

US President Donald Trump waves to supporters on 15 November (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump waves to supporters on 15 November (Reuters)

The loss of Trump’s “крыша” – or protective roof – and the arrival of a hostile president in Biden will mean that MBS will need his father in the post as king even more than he has done in the past. We know from Saudi sources that at one point MBS was toying with the idea of forcing his father’s premature abdication on health grounds and seizing the crown himself.

The loss of Trump’s protective roof and the arrival of a hostile president in Biden will mean that MBS will need his father in the post as king even more than he has done in the past

In his latest round of purges, MBS targeted leading members of Hay’at al-Bayaa (the Allegiance Council) whose role is to approve a royal succession and the appointment of a new crown prince.

The latest arrests to purge the Allegiance Council of his critics would only have made sense if MBS himself was intending to becoming king. But that was in good times, when bin Salman’s star was rising and he could still visit London and Washington without creating flashmobs of human rights protesters.

In bad times, the king remains the tribal chief, who commands the loyalty of the royal family and the kingdom. Regardless of Salman’s actual mental condition, he is still the head of the family and there will be no rebellion against him. The same would not apply to his son if he pushed his father aside and seized the crown. He would be fair game for a palace coup. This is probably the main reason why the father is still king.

Regional alliance

The fate of the regional alliance that a future King Mohammed was attempting to build around himself also hangs in the balance. The real fight going on in the Sunni Arab world is about who would take over as leader and Western proxy.

Biden must end Trump’s alliance with Mohammed bin Salman

Read More »

The purpose of the alliance with Israel – in Emirati eyes – is not to increase wealth but power, power to become, with Saudi Arabia under King Mohammed, the regional hegemon.

That ambition still exists.

But the role that an “Arab Nato” alliance was intended to play to combat and curb Iran will now be diminished by Biden’s attempt to restore the nuclear agreement with Tehran. Iran’s rulers stared Trump in the eyes and did not blink first. They outlasted this US president as they have done to Jimmy Carter and every president who followed him.

The nuclear agreement (known as JCPOA) was Barack Obama’s crowning foreign policy achievement – although it was the fruition of years of negotiation involving many countries and past foreign ministers – the so-called P5 plus one, the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, and Turkey and Brazil before them.

However, each side’s moves are sequenced and whatever difficulties that lie on that path, Biden will pivot once more to restoring this nuclear agreement. Even if some sanctions continue, the policy of using them to exert “maximum pressure” will be over.

Detente will inevitably create a new reality in the Gulf region.

It will also create a new reality for members of the opposing alliance, Turkey and Qatar. Biden is no admirer of Erdogan, with whom he has spent many hours talking. He has apologised to Erdogan once for remarks suggesting that Turkey helped facilitate the rise of the Islamic State group. He is not about to do that again soon.

In a meeting with the New York Times’ editorial board filmed in December, Biden described Erdogan as an autocrat. Asked about how comfortable he felt with the US still basing 50 nuclear weapons in Turkey, Biden said his comfort level had “diminished a great deal” and that he would be making it clear to the Turkish leader that the US supports the opposition.

A volatile world

Once in power, Biden may find it more difficult to express this personal hostility. Whether he likes it or not, Turkey is a more confident regional military power than it was in Obama’s time.

Its military has proved itself as a counterweight to Russian military power in Syria and Libya, and it has just achieved a major breakthrough in Nagorno Karabakh, establishing for the first time access by road from the Turkish border to the Caspian Sea.

This is a strategic win for the Turkish state.

If he is going to partially lift sanctions on Iran, Biden will find that he needs Turkey as a regional counterbalance. There are today too many arenas, from Syria and Iraq to Libya, where Turkey has become a player. Biden has to deal with these “facts on the ground” whether he likes it or not.

Similarly, pressure will also now grow on Saudi Arabia to end its siege on Qatar. Their immediate neighbour, the UAE, will always regard Qatar’s pro-Islamist foreign policy as an existential threat. But the same does not apply to Riyadh, and quiet negotiations in Oman and Kuwait have already taken place.

Biden’s actions in the Middle East will be dictated by events. But the loss of Trump represents a body check for the ambitions and aspirations of Gulf hegemons.

It’s a more uncertain, volatile world.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

رئيس نتفلكس: السعودية سمحت بعرض أفلام جنسية مقابل حذف حلقة تنتقد ابن سلمان بشدة

Haaretz: Opening Saudi Skies to “Israel” to Pave MBS’ Way back to Washington

Haaretz: Opening Saudi Skies to “Israel” to Pave MBS’ Way back to Washington 

By Staff

The day after the “Israeli” delegation concluded its official visit to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia announced its skies would be open to any “country’s” plane flying to or from the UAE. 

According to “Israeli” Haaretz daily, the name “Israel” may not have been mentioned explicitly, but there was no need for it. 

“Saudi Arabia is still cautious and the price for official normalization with “Israel” will depend on the strategic payment it receives from Washington,” Zvi Bar’el wrote.

He further highlighted that discussions on the matter are being conducted at an intensive pace between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his friend Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s special adviser, who is striving to close the normalization before the US presidential election in November. 

“Time is pressing and Trump is hoping to present another impressive diplomatic achievement that he can brandish during his election campaign, after most of his diplomatic initiatives, including his so-called “deal of the century,” fell apart – in the best case becoming a joke and in most cases causing deep anxiety,” the analyst highlighted. 

He went on to explain, “Since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi two years ago, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed has become persona non grata among the American public and Congress.  During this period he has not visited Washington and his interests have been looked after by his brother, Prince Khalid bin Salman, who was the Saudi ambassador to Washington until 2019, and after that was appointed deputy defense minister. The investigations against MBS concerning Khashoggi’s murder are still underway, and in addition the Congress has imposed a ban on arms sales to the kingdom – a decision that was circumvented by Trump.”

“MBS very much needs a change that will give him back his previous status, after his friend, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the Emirates, began to overshadow him as a leader who shapes the new Middle East policy, and as the Arab figure closest to Trump,” Haaretz stated.

It also mentioned that “Peace with ‘Israel’ could be a game changer for Saudi Arabia vis-a-vis Washington, but compared to the Emirates, the kingdom’s situation is more complicated.”

Money Talks: Canada Lifts Suspension of Arms Exports to Saudi Arabia

Money Talks: Canada Lifts Suspension of Arms Exports to Saudi Arabia

By Staff, Agencies

Neglecting the Saudi black record of human rights violation, the Canadian government decided to lift a suspension on arms exports to Saudi Arabia and renegotiated a controversial multibillion-dollar contract that will see an Ontario-based company sell light armored vehicles [LAVs] to Riyadh.

The “significant improvements” to the contract would secure the jobs of thousands of Canadians, “not only in Southwestern Ontario but also across the entire defense industry supply chain, which includes hundreds of small and medium enterprises,” Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and Minister of Finance Bill Morneau said in a statement on Thursday.

In December 2018, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau maintained that Canada “was looking for a way out of the Saudi arms deal”, following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

A month earlier the Liberal government suspended approvals of new arms export permits for Saudi Arabia pending an indefinite review.

The 14 billion Canadian dollar [$10bn] deal to export LAVs made by the Ontario-based General Dynamics Land Systems to Saudi Arabia was brokered in 2014 by the previous Conservative government.

Trudeau’s Liberal government subsequently gave the final approval for the deal following the 2015 election.

The ministers added in their statement that as a state party to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, Canada’s goods cannot be exported where there is a “substantial risk” that they would be used in violating human rights and humanitarian law.

“We have now begun reviewing permit applications on a case-by-case basis,” the statement said.

Academics and activists have long pressured Ottawa to cancel the exports of Canadian-made LAVs to Saudi Arabia, citing the killing of Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia’s aggression on Yemen.

SAUDI CROWN PRINCE PLANS TO BECOME KING BEFORE NOVEMBER G20 SUMMIT

Mohammed bin Salman launched purge against his uncle and others to clear path to becoming king ahead of gathering in Riyadh

By David Hearst

Published date: 8 March 2020 

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a purge against his chief royal rival, his uncle Prince Ahmed bin Abdelaziz, because he intends to become king before the G20 summit in Riyadh in November, sources briefed about the plans have told Middle East Eye.

Bin Salman, known as MBS, will not wait for his father King Salman to die because his father’s presence gives legitimacy to the son, and he wants to use the summit in November as the stage for his accession to the throne. 

Instead, MBS will force his father, who suffers from dementia but is in otherwise good health, to abdicate, the sources said. 

This will finish the job started when MBS ousted his elder cousin Prince Mohammed bin Nayef from the position of crown prince, the sources said.

“He wants to be sure while his father is there, he becomes the king,” one source said. Over the weekend pictures were released of King Salman greeting ambassadors, to disprove rumours sparked by the purge that the king had died. Sources at the King Faisal Hospital dedicated to the care of members of the royal family also dispelled those rumours.

Before his arrest on Friday, Prince Ahmed, the king’s younger full brother, was given one last chance, after years of public opposition, to come aboard the MBS project, and he refused, the sources said.

“There was pressure on Ahmed to give his full support to MBS. He met with the king, and Salman and others in the court used polite words to encourage him to back his son,” a second source said.

“Ahmed made it clear he would not support this project. He did not give his word. Ahmed told the king he himself was not keen to become king but would look to others to come forward.”

Summons from the king

Meanwhile, more details emerged about the circumstances of Ahmed’s arrest.

According to the sources, Ahmed was not planning a coup before his arrest on Friday morning, as was claimed in one briefing given to Reuters, primarily because the prince had no power to make such a move. 

“Prince Ahmed would have openly objected to his nephew’s accession, as a member of the Allegiance Council, if the king dies and the question of accession to the throne comes formally before it,” the source said.

“He would have clearly said no. But there was no attempted coup.”

The Allegiance Council, or Bayaa, is the body which still nominally has to approve MBS’s accession to the throne.

What is the Beya?

The source said Ahmed had just returned from a falconry hunting trip abroad and had given a reception for his close circle on Thursday night.

Ahmed was passed a message that the king wanted to see him on Friday morning. This was about another arrested prince, Faisal bin Abdelrahman, whose case Ahmed had raised with Salman some weeks ago.

On Friday morning, Prince Ahmed went to the royal palace with his security detail. He was arrested the moment he entered the king’s compound.

“He did not see the king. It was total betrayal,” the source said. According to him, a second member of the Allegiance Council was also arrested in the purge.

Trump concerns

Asked why this purge was launched now, the sources cited external and internal reasons.

They said MBS was becoming concerned about the possibility that Donald Trump would not secure a second term of office as US president. 

All the presidential candidates remaining in the Democratic race are declared critics of the crown prince and had openly condemned him for allegedly ordering the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018.

Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have consistently refused to hold the crown prince accountable for the murder of Khashoggi and blocked calls for a criminal investigation by the FBI or the UN. 

In his last interview on the subject published in June last year, Trump said the Khashoggi murder “really didn’t come up” in the discussions he held with MBS.

Trump said that Iran had killed more people, and he pointed to Saudi spending on US weapons and other goods.

“They spend $400bn to $450bn over a period of time, all money, all jobs, buying equipment,” Trump told NBC News. 

“And by the way, if they don’t do business with us, you know what they do? They’ll do business with the Russians or with the Chinese.”

Secondly, the sources claimed that the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, known as MBZ, who has mentored MBS and introduced him to the Trump clan before he became president, was also in on the scheme.

Hamed al Mazroui, a well-known blogger with links to MBZ, whose tweets were among the first to break the news of the purge in the Ritz Carlton in November 2017 and the 2017 start to the siege of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and others, tweeted two words in Arabic before the latest arrests were widely known. They translate as “Check mate”.

“MbZ is instrumental in each move his protege makes. The more mistakes MBS makes and the greater the instability he causes, the greater the leverage bin Zayed has over the affairs of Saudi,” the source said.

Oil fears

Internally, MBS’s reforms are not going well. 

The two latest hitches to his reform plan are the rapid fall in the price of oil, to below the level at which the state budget needs for its income, and his increasing unpopularity in the Muslim world, months before the annual Hajj is due to start.Saudis plan crude oil output increase, begin price war: Report

Held back by curbs on oil output negotiated by Opec, Saudi Arabia’s economy expanded just 0.3 percent in 2019, down from 2.4 percent a year earlier and short of the government’s forecast of 0.4 percent.

MBS’s economic woes deepened on Sunday, when the Saudi stock market dived by 8.3 percent, the lowest closing since November 2017, when he launched the first round of purges.

Shares in Saudi Aramco dropped below their IPO price of 32 riyals ($8.50) for the first time, losing 9.1 percent to 30 riyals.

‘Delicate generational succession’

Controversy has also stalked MBS’s decision to effectively close the borders of the kingdom to most visitors and all Umrah pilgrims, because of the coronavirus epidemic.

Critics have noted that the crown prince allowed a big concert, entitled “Persian Night,” to go ahead as part of the Tanturah Winter festival on 5 March.

All these factors, sources say, convinced MBS to strike now against the last remaining hurdles in the way of his accession to the throne.

“This purge is different from the first one in 2017. Then, MBS was at the height of his popularity as a young and bold reformer. He sold the purge as an anti-corruption campaign, and it was popular even with journalists like Khashoggi. This purge comes after a series of scandals. It’s as if MBS is trying to evade one scandal by moving on to an even bigger one,” another high placed Saudi critic said.

Justifying the arrests, Ali Shihabi, a Saudi commentator in Washington and a loyal supporter of the regime, appeared to confirm in his tweets that this was about a generational succession.

He wrote: “On Saudi: what people must appreciate is that the Royal family has had to go through a very delicate generational succession (that had been a cloud hanging over the country for over a decade given the large number of princes who were technically eligible to succeed)…

” … and that no formula existed to sort that issue out in [a] fashion that could please everybody. What has happened since King Salman’s succession is that he made his choice clear and that inevitably created a lot of disenfranchised royals some who were naturally displeased…”

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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Saudi Arabia: Mohammed Bin Salman’s Latest Arrests Expose Weakness at Heart of Power

By Madawi al-Rasheed – Middle East Eye

The silence of the Saudi royal palace over the reported arrest of senior princes Ahmed bin Abdulaziz and Mohammed bin Nayef, among others, is deafening.

Yet, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s sudden and bold move is telling.

The arrest of such high-ranking princes without portfolio reveals the shaky ground on which the young prince’s future rests.

Shaky grounds

In its modern history, Saudi Arabia swiftly resolved succession disputes when Crown Prince Faisal challenged the authority of King Saud in the early 1960s. But at the time Faisal had the backing of almost all the royal household, with the exception of Saud and his sons.

Faisal quickly isolated Saud and was granted a fatwa from the religious scholars to oust him.

Today, Mohammed bin Salman seems to have only the support of his old father while other members of the royal household, especially those destined to become kings, feel isolated, humiliated and now, under arrest. 

The Saudi crown prince has not only alienated his own senior uncle Ahmed, and cousin Mohammed bin Nayef, but also the very establishment that would have backed the bold arrest of his own kin, namely the religious establishment. He cannot be assured of the loyalty of senior royalty, religious scholars, and important sections of Saudi society. The cheering crowds at his newly introduced festivals, concerts and boxing matches conceal a deepening crisis in the House of Saud.

A deepening crisis

The young prince lives in fear and isolation. His so-called top-down revolution is stumbling under the pressure of global recession that sent oil prices and local Saudi stock market shares into a slide.

In the past, austerity due to falling oil revenues was a passing stumbling block that was overcome quickly when the kingdom in previous years dealt with a series of oil crises and recessions.

But the current crisis is totally different. It is political rather than economic. King Salman may not be around long enough to cast the shadow of support and extract loyalty from disgruntled princes for his son. The son himself started his rule as the center of power with new unexpected strategies that are now insufficient to guarantee a smooth succession after the king dies.

The abrupt arrest of his own uncle and senior cousins is a risky strategy that will haunt him throughout his future political career. Moreover, the reputation of the kingdom as a country blessed by the ability of the royals to maintain consensus and smooth succession is shattered beyond repair.

The crown prince is compelled once again to use force against his royal rivals of the type witnessed in November 2017, when more than a dozen influential princes were arrested and sent to the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh. This was justified as an anti-corruption move to rid Saudi Arabia of endemic graft.

The descendants of the late King Abdullah, mainly Prince Miteb, the head of the Saudi National Guard at the time, were humiliated and sidelined. Mohammed bin Salman made sure that such a senior rival was deprived of a military base with which he could potentially stage a coup against the rising son king.

The Nayef threat

The crown prince hopes to eliminate the threat of yet another important prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, who for a long time was considered to have managed domestic affairs with an iron fist.

The pervasive intelligence and security networks that he created when he was the central figure in the Ministry of Interior still haunt the current crown prince even after bin Nayef was deprived of all his official government posts. The crown prince fears the very draconian measures that his cousin took to crush potential opposition could yet be deployed against him.

Mohammed bin Nayef guaranteed the security of the throne in preparation for him becoming king. But he lived to see his young cousin, Mohammed, benefiting from all the surveillance and tough security he enforced in the kingdom. He was ungratefully rewarded by being abruptly sacked by the king, and now he is reportedly arrested.

News of his humiliation has travelled around the globe while the royal palace remains silent over his whereabouts.

The Al-Nayef lineage within the royal household is now facing its last days and will only be remembered as a fallen tower that kept Saudis fearful for their life under his regime, when they had been subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, and unjustified disappearances at the hands of Nayef senior, and his son Mohammed. 

A pre-emptive strike

Prince Ahmed, the remaining eligible brother of King Salman who could potentially succeed him, is also reported to be among the princes arrested on 7 March. He was probably seized not because of his previous military or security credentials – he had none throughout his short-lived career in government.

His arrest rather was a pre-emptive strike to mitigate against the senior prince becoming a focal symbolic character around which other disgruntled princes might gather.

The potential of Prince Ahmed becoming such a figure reminds us of the ten years of King Abdullah’s reign when he became the strong king who managed to counter the threats from Salman, Nayef and Sultan bin Abdulaziz at the time.

Abdullah represented a symbol for many princes who resented the monopoly of power by these three most important figures in Saudi politics. Ahmed had already expressed reservations over the policies of the new king and his son, for example, over the war on Yemen in 2015.

But since then, after his return to Saudi Arabia, he maintained his silence. Other marginalized princes might have looked to Ahmed to save them from sinking into historical oblivion when the crown prince eventually becomes king.

Royal drama

King Salman could have made Ahmed crown prince after his son’s many scandals and mismanagement of the political affairs and foreign relations of the kingdom, above all the scandal over Jamal Khashoggi’s death in 2018.

But the king missed an opportunity and now the arrest of Prince Ahmed removes a symbolic figure who is potentially capable of restoring the semblance of continuity and respectability in the royal household.

Once a secure monarchy with powerful princes who successfully contained all sorts of political, economic and security threats, Saudi Arabia is now plagued by uncertainty and dangers. 

In the process of consolidating the Al Saud’s grip on power, the royals have deprived all Saudis of the right to live in an open society with political institutions that can guarantee the survival of the kingdom and the participation of its citizens in the decision-making process. Unfortunately, Saudis have been turned into spectators watching the country’s royal drama unfold.

Condemnations pour in as court exonerates Saudi officials in Khashoggi murder case

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

A protester wears a mask depicting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with red painted hands next to people holding posters of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during the demonstration outside the Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, October 25, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

SourceTuesday, 24 December 2019 8:01 AM  [ Last Update: Wednesday, 25 December 2019 6:53 AM ]

A Saudi court ruling over the state-sponsored killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi has drawn outrage across the political spectrum, including from a number of states, the United Nations, several rights groups and even some American lawmakers. They have unanimouslydenounced the ruling that dismissed charges against top Saudi officials, saying it failed to deliver justice.

In a televised press conference in Riyadh on Monday, Saudi Deputy Public Prosecutor Shaalan al-Shaalan announced the conclusion of the so-called trial in the Khashoggi case that had been closed to the public.

He said that out of the 31 suspects investigated in connection with the killing, 21 had been arrested and 11 put on trial.

Death sentences were eventually issued for five people and jail terms totaling 24 years were handed down to three others, he added, without naming any of those sentenced.

The remaining three, however, were found not guilty, including Saud al-Qahtani, a former top adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Ahmed al-Assiri, an ex-deputy intelligence chief, and Mohamed al-Otaibi, who was consul general in the kingdom’s consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul when the murder happened.

Both Qahtani and Assiri were relieved of their duties in the immediate aftermath of Khashoggi’s assassination last year. Qahtani and Otaibi were also sanctioned a year ago by the US Treasury for their involvement in the murder.

RSF: Justice trampled on with Saudi court verdict in Khashoggi case

RSF: Justice trampled on with Saudi court verdict in Khashoggi case

RSF says Riyadh wants to “permanently silence the suspects” behind the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi — an outspoken critic of the heir to the Saudi throne — went into self-imposed exile in the US in 2017. The Washington Post columnist entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, to obtain paperwork he needed to marry his Turkish fiancée.

Inside Riyadh’s mission, he was confronted by a Saudi hit team, who killed him and brutally dismembered his body.

The CIA has concluded that bin Salman had ordered the murder. The journalist’s remains have yet to be found.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Shaalan claimed that Khashoggi’s killers had decided to murder him after their arrival in Istanbul.

“Our investigations show that there was no premeditation to kill at the beginning of the mission,” he claimed.

Shaalan’s claims sparked a wave of condemnations from the world body, human rights organizations and US legislators.

HRW: Trial ‘all but satisfactory’

Ahmed Benchemsi, spokesman for Human Rights Watch, told the Doha-based Al Jazeera broadcaster that the trial was “all but satisfactory.”

The case was “shrouded in secrecy since the beginning, and it’s still … until now … We do not know the identities of those masked perpetrators, we don’t know the specific charge leveled against who exactly,” he said.

“Saudi prosecutors did not even attempt to investigate the upper levels of this crime, and whether they played a role in ordering the killing, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” he added.

Adam Coogle, who researches Saudi Arabia for the HRW, underlined the need for an independent probe.

“Saudi Arabia’s absolution of its senior leadership of any culpability in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi raises serious concerns over the fairness of the criminal proceedings,” he said.

“Saudi Arabia’s handling of the murder, from complete denial to hanging the murder on lower-level operatives in a trial that lacked transparency, demonstrates the need for an independent criminal inquiry.”

Amnesty: Verdict ‘a whitewash’

In turn, Amnesty International has blasted the verdict as “a whitewash” and said Saudi officials have failed the slain journalist and his family.

“This verdict … brings neither justice nor the truth for Jamal Khashoggi and his loved ones. The trial has been closed to the public and to independent monitors, with no information available as to how the investigation was carried out,” Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said in a statement.

“The verdict fails to address the Saudi authorities’ involvement in this devastating crime or clarify the location of Jamal Khashoggi’s remains,” she added.

UN rapporteur: Masterminds walking free

In a series of tweets, Agnes Callamard, the UN rapporteur investigating Khashoggi’s killing, condemned the ruling as a “travesty,” noting that the trial had failed to consider the involvement of the state.

Agnes Callamard  

@AgnesCallamard · Dec 23, 2019Replying to @AgnesCallamard

j) Bottom line: the hit-men are guilty, sentenced to death. The masterminds not only walk free. They have barely been touched by the investigation and the trial. That is the antithesis of Justice. It is a mockery.

Agnes Callamard  

@AgnesCallamard

k) Impunity for the killing of a journalist commonly reveals political repression, corruption, abuse of power, propaganda, and even international complicity. All are present in #SaudiArabia killing of #JamalKhashoggi. (PM me for more comments.)

4763:22 PM – Dec 23, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy   290 people are talking about this   “The execution of Jamal Khashoggi demanded an investigation into the chain of command to identify the masterminds, as well as those who incited, allowed or turned a blind eye to the murder, such as the Crown Prince,” she wrote.

“This was not investigated. Bottom line: the hit men are guilty, sentenced to death. The masterminds not only walk free, they have barely been touched by the investigation and the trial. That is the antithesis of justice. It is a mockery.”

In her 101-page report released in June, Callamard said that there is “sufficient credible evidence” indicating that the heir to the Saudi throne bears responsibility for the murder and thus should be investigated.

Erdogan spox: Those ordering murder given immunity

Fahrettin Altun, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said that the Saudi officials who had ordered the operation were “granted immunity.”

“To claim that a handful of intelligence operatives committed this murder is to mock the world’s intelligence — to say the least,” he tweeted.

UK: Khashoggi’s family deserve to see justice

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab described Khashoggi’s murder as “a terrible crime.”

“Mr. Khashoggi’s family deserve to see justice done for his brutal murder. Saudi Arabia must ensure all of those responsible are held to account and that such an atrocity can never happen again,” he said in a statement.

Washington Post: An ‘insult’ to Khashoggi’s family

The Washington Post editorial board called Monday’s sentences a “travesty of justice.”

“The result is an insult to Khashoggi’s family and to all those, including a bipartisan congressional majority, who have demanded genuine accountability in the case,” it wrote in an op-ed.

The editorial board also warned the international community against welcoming the result of the Saudi trial.

“International acceptance of the result would not only be morally wrong but dangerous, too: It would send the reckless Saudi ruler the message that his murderous adventurism will be tolerated,” it said.

‘Trial comedy’

The dissident Saudi Twitter account Prisoners of Conscience criticized the trial of Khashoggi’s killers as a “comedy,” saying that all those involved in the crime should be held accountable.

“Just a year ago, the US intelligence published a report revealing correspondences between Saud al-Qahtani and Bin Salman before, during and following Khashoggi’s assassination,” it pointed out.

“Today, the Saudi judiciary claims that the crime took place without prior planning and acquits Saud al-Qahtani! What kind of independent judiciary is this?!” it added.

American lawmakers fume at sentences

Several US legislators have censured not only Saudi Arabia for the verdict but also US President Donald Trump, who has shielded bin Salman from blame for Khashoggi’s assassination and emphasized Riyadh’s lucrative arms deals with Washington instead.

Senator Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, highlighted the CIA’s conclusion and slammed the trial as “a cover-up” by the Saudi regime.

“This sham trial, carried out by a despotic and lawless regime, looks more like a cover-up,” he said. “Maybe Donald Trump might want to stop proclaiming his love and affection for the Saudi dictatorship.”

Bernie Sanders  

@SenSanders

The CIA concluded that the Saudi crown prince ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. This sham trial, carried out by a despotic and lawless regime, looks more like a cover-up.

Maybe Donald Trump might want to stop proclaiming his love and affection for the Saudi dictatorship. https://twitter.com/KarenAttiah/status/1209144376338911233 …Karen Attiah  

@KarenAttiah

Saudi Arabia’s “trial” and “investigation” of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder has been a complete sham.

Executing five nameless, faceless men without transparency and an investigation into the regime’s responsibility is not justice. It’s just more bloodshed. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/saudi-arabia-says-five-sentenced-to-death-in-killing-of-jamal-khashoggi/2019/12/23/02fc0ea4-256a-11ea-9cc9-e19cfbc87e51_story.html …

11.7K1:30 AM – Dec 24, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy   3,409 people are talking about this   Similarly, Democrat Senator Tim Kaine cited the CIA’s assessment on the case, urging the US government to seek justice for Khashoggi.

“Senior Saudi officials continue to escape accountability for the state-sponsored murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” said Kaine, who represents Virginia, where Khashoggi lived.

“The Trump Administration should be demanding justice for the brutal killing of a journalist and VA resident instead of ignoring the CIA’s assessment of who killed him,” Kaine added.

Connecticut Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal blamed the US president for bin Salam’s evasion of responsibility.

“After a sham trial, the masterminds behind Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder walk away scot-free,” he said. “Trump is also culpable – having done next to nothing to hold the Crown Prince accountable for murdering a brave, truth-seeking journalist.”

Congressman Adam Schiff, who chairs the US House Intelligence Committee, rejected the Saudi prosecutor’s assertion that the Khashoggi’s killing had not been planned.

“This sentence is a continuation of the Kingdom’s effort to distance Saudi leadership, including the Crown Prince, from the brutal assassination of a journalist and US resident, Jamal Khashoggi,” he tweeted.

“This was a premeditated murder, not a ‘snap decision’ or rogue operation.”

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Joe Biden Says He Would Make Saudi Arabia a «Pariah»

Joe Biden Says He Would Make Saudi Arabia a «Pariah»

By Staff, The Intercept

Former US Vice President and Democratic candidate for the 2020 presidential elections Joe Biden said he would not sell weapons to Saudi Arabia – marking a sharp contrast with the Obama administration – and stressing he would make the Saudis “pay the price” for their killing of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

Biden made his remarks during the Democratic debate on Wednesday night.

“I would make it very clear we were not going to in fact sell more weapons to them,” Biden said. “We were going to in fact make them pay the price, and make them in fact the pariah that they are.” Biden also said there is “very little social redeeming value in the present government in Saudi Arabia,” and, in reference to Yemen, said he would end “end the sale of material to the Saudis where they’re going in and murdering children.”

Biden’s admission is a significant departure from the Democratic Party position before Donald Trump. Saudi Arabia objected to the US’s posture during the so-called Arab Spring, as well as the Obama administration’s diplomatic overtures toward Iran, but that did not stop the US from supporting the Saudis’ intervention in Yemen and from selling Saudi Arabia more than $100 billion in weapons. In recent years, under Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman [MBS], Saudi Arabia has launched an unprecedented crackdown on dissent at home and abroad, and Khashoggi’s murder has led Democrats to call for fundamental changes to the US-Saudi alliance.

At the Atlanta debate, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders called Saudi Arabia a “brutal dictatorship” and said that “what we’ve got to know is that Saudi Arabia is not a reliable ally.” He added, “We need to be rethinking who our allies are around the world, work with the United Nations, and not continue to support brutal dictatorships.”

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said, “It’s a human rights violation, without coming to the United States Congress, for an authorization for the use of military force, for us to refuel Saudi jets to bomb Yemeni children.” Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said, “When the president did not stand up the way he should have to that killing and dismemberment of a journalist with an American newspaper, that sent a signal to all dictators across the world that that was OK.”

Indeed, many of the more captivating moments of the debate – the fifth in the monthly series – were focused on foreign policy, and on appealing to black voters. And the longstanding frontrunners – Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Sanders – left ample room for the other seven to jump in. Warren had been at the center of a firestorm in last month’s Democratic debate, having pulled ahead in national and early-state polls. She has slipped in national polls, as South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has climbed, and questions about topics in her wheelhouse – corruption, and Medicare for All – flew by without incident.

HRW Highlights «Deepening Repression» Under Saudi’s MBS

HRW Highlights «Deepening Repression» Under Saudi’s MBS

By Staff, Agencies

Human Rights Watch says Saudi de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s [MBS] rise to power two years ago has been accompanied by “deepening repression and abusive practices” across the kingdom.

In a new report released on Monday, the New York-based group said activists, clerics and other perceived critics of the Saudi crown prince continue to be arbitrarily detained more than a year after the killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in the kingdom’s consulate in Turkey.

The report noted the detention of dissidents and harassment of their families was not a new phenomenon in the kingdom history, but the wave of repression since late 2017 had been distinguished by new repressive measures.

“Detaining citizens for peaceful criticism of the government’s policies or human rights advocacy is not a new phenomenon in Saudi Arabia,” it said.

“But what has made the post-2017 arrest waves notable and different, however, is the sheer number and range of individuals targeted over a short period of time as well as the introduction of new repressive practices.”

The crackdown under MBS began in September 2017 with the arrest of dozens of critics and rights activists in what was widely interpreted as an attempt to crush dissent.

The crown prince has also been on a modernization drive with reforms including allowing women over 21 to obtain passports and travel abroad without the permission of a male guardian.

But these reforms have belied a “darker reality,” according to the report, including the mass arrests of women’s rights activists, a number of whom have allegedly been sexually assaulted and suffered torture including whipping and electric shocks.

The report also said those reforms were a smokescreen for the ongoing detention of dozens of dissidents, some allegedly tortured in custody.

“Important social reforms enacted under Prince Mohammed have been accompanied by deepening repression and abusive practices meant to silence dissidents and critics.”

According to the report, the new repressive measure by MBS included extorting financial assets in exchange for a detainee’s freedom, a tool used against dozens of business people and royal family members arbitrarily held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh in November 2017.

Hundreds of elite princes and businessmen were then detained in what was billed as a move against corruption that was draining state coffers.

HRW cited reports that Saudi Arabia has used surveillance technologies to hack into the online accounts of the regime critics and infected their mobile phones with spyware.

The report also highlighted a lack of accountability for those responsible for Khashoggi’s murder, a crime MBS has sought to distance himself from.

A UN report released in June said there was “credible evidence” MBS and other senior Saudi officials were liable for Khashoggi’s killing, which the kingdom has characterized as a rogue operation by its agents.

But the international criticism has failed to halt a campaign against perceived dissidents inside the kingdom, according to the HRW report, with waves of arrests carried out against women’s rights activists and their allies this year, including the writer Khadijah al-Harbi, who was pregnant at the time of her detention.

Saudi Arabia’s ‘Strategic Plan’ To Take Turkey Down

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has drawn up a plan to target Erdogan’s government following Khashoggi’s murder

By David Hearst, Ragip Soylu – Middle East Eye

Saudi Arabia has begun implementing a “strategic plan” to confront the Turkish government, after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman decided he was being “too patient” with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.

The plan is detailed in a confidential report based on open- and closed-source intelligence prepared by the kingdom’s ally, the United Arab Emirates.

The intelligence report is one of a monthly series written by the Emirates Policy Centre, a think tank with close links to the Emirati government and security services.

Entitled “Monthly Report on Saudi Arabia, Issue 24, May 2019”, the report is of limited circulation and intended for the top Emirati leadership. It does not appear on the think tank’s website. A copy has been obtained by Middle East Eye.

It reveals that in Riyadh in May, orders were given to implement the strategic plan to confront the Turkish government.

The aim of the plan was to use

“all possible tools to pressure Erdogan’s government, weaken him, and keep him busy with domestic issues in the hope that he will be brought down by the opposition, or occupy him with confronting crisis after crisis, and push him to slip up and make mistakes which the media would surely pick up on”.

Middle East Eye contacted the Emirates Policy Centre for comment, with no reply by the time of publication.

Restricting influence

Riyadh’s aim is to restrict Erdogan and Turkey’s regional influence.

“The kingdom would start to target the Turkish economy and press towards the gradual termination of Saudi investment in Turkey, the gradual decrease of Saudi tourists visiting Turkey while creating alternative destinations for them, decreasing Saudi import of Turkish goods, and most importantly minimizing Turkish regional role in Islamic matters,” the report says.

According to the report, Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, took the decision to confront Turkey following the assassination of Khashoggi by a team of Saudi agents in their country’s Istanbul consulate.

The murder of the Saudi journalist, a Middle East Eye and Washington Post columnist, created international outrage, in large part due to Turkey’s insistence on Riyadh providing accountability and transparency over the affair.

“President Erdogan … went too far in his campaign smearing the kingdom, especially the person of the crown prince, using in the most reprehensible manner the case of Khashoggi,” the reports says.

In the document, the Emirates Policy Centre claims Turkey did not provide “specific and honest” information to assist the Saudi investigation into the killing, but instead leaked “disinformation” to the media “all aimed at distorting the image of the kingdom and attempting to destroy the reputation of the crown prince”.

Riyadh had concluded that Erdogan failed in his attempt to politicize and internationalize the case and now was the time to mount the fightback, the report says.

Both the CIA and leading members of the US Congress have accepted the Turkish intelligence assessment of Khashoggi’s murder.

The CIA also concluded that Mohammed bin Salman almost certainly signed off on the operation, an assessment based on its own intelligence as well.

“The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved,” said a US official familiar with the CIA’s conclusions, the Washington Post reported.

Since then, a report by United Nations human rights investigator Agnes Callamard detailed the difficulties the Turkish authorities had in investigating the murder and gaining access to the consulate building and the home of the consul-general.

Callamard concluded independently that the crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s murder.

The pressure begins

Last week came the first public sign of the campaign detailed in the Emirati document coming to life.

Saudi authorities blocked 80 Turkish trucks transporting textile products and chemicals from entering the kingdom through its Duba port.

Three hundred containers carrying fruit and vegetables from Turkey had also been held in Jeddah’s port, according to a Turkish official who spoke to MEE on condition of anonymity.

The number of Saudi tourists visiting Turkey decreased 15 percent [from 276,000 to 234,000] in the first six months of 2019, according to official data released by the Turkish tourism ministry.

Saudi Arabia has approximately $2bn worth of direct investment in Turkey, according to the Turkish foreign ministry data from 2018.

That year, Turkish exports to Saudi Arabia were valued at around $2.64bn, while imports from the kingdom stood at $2.32bn.

Behind the scenes, other signals have been sent to Ankara.

The Emirati report says “in a sign that the Saudi leadership has severed its relationship with … Erdogan and started treating him as an enemy”, King Salman approved “without hesitation” a recommendation from an advisory committee not to send an official invitation to attend a high-profile Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Mecca.

The Turkish president’s name was added to the list of those excluded from the summit, alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Eventually, King Salman decided to allow the Qatari emir to attend the event in Mecca, though Erdogan’s invitation was not forthcoming.

The Turkish government is aware of the Saudi crown prince’s attempts to sever relations and is trying to combat them through keeping direct communications with his father, King Salman.

A senior Turkish official, speaking anonymously, said the existence of a Saudi strategy to punish Turkey over its stance on the Khashoggi case wasn’t surprising.

“We are aware of what they are doing. It is almost public, to the extent that you could see their activities on Saudi-backed social media and Saudi state media,” the official told MEE, noting that they had openly called for a boycott.

“Tourist arrivals are decreasing, while we are having problems related to Turkish exports. We are closely following the situation.”

The Turkish official said, however, that Ankara does not believe that Saudi citizens are altering their stance on Turkey, despite the government in Riyadh’s efforts.

“Istanbul, for example, is still full of Saudi tourists. Saudi officials should check the BBC’s poll on Erdogan’s popularity in the Middle East. Then they will realize that they are failing,” the official said.

Erdogan phoned the king on Thursday, raising the problem of Turkish exports being held at Saudi ports.

Another Turkish official, also speaking anonymously, said Erdogan’s phone call with the Saudi king was cordial and focused on regional developments, such as Syria and the Palestine question.

The official, who was informed about the call, said the king was lucid and supportive of Turkish concerns with regard to Syria.

In the same call, Erdogan invited King Salman and his family, including the crown prince, to Turkey.

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