‘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

Canada, U.S. have ‘selective’ approach toward human rights: lawyer

By Mohammad Mazhari

November 23, 2020 – 10:56

Sari Bashi, a consultant for Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN)

TEHRAN – A human rights lawyer says the U.S. and Canada follow double standards toward human rights, noting that they “support human rights selectively”.

In an interview with the Tehran Times, Sari Bashi, a consultant for Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN), says that U.S. policy in terms of human rights is not consistent. 

“Unfortunately, the United States and Canada support human rights selectively, and the United States, in particular, has not done nearly enough to call out its allies for human rights abuses,” Bashi points out.

Canada and the U.S. accuse other countries of human rights violations while they themselves sell weapons to tyrannical regimes in West Asia, which are used against defenseless people, especially in Yemen. 

Canada claims a global reputation as a human rights defender, while the Ottawa government has a bad record when it comes to the rights of the indigenous peoples. According to reports revealed by the Human Rights Watch, the Natives are deprived of the right to safe drinking water, and police mistreat and abuse indigenous women and girls.

Bashi also says the U.S. is misusing its influence to allow its allies, such as Israel, to commit crimes.

 The following is the text of the interview:

Q: Certain Western states have a bad record in view of human rights, so are these countries entitled to condemn other countries?

  A: I think the fact that all authorities abuse human rights do not disqualify any particular government from raising human rights issues with others. Certainly, the best way to encourage respect for human rights is to lead by example, and every government in the world that has invested more energy in improving in own human rights record could be more credible to criticize other government who may not be; but at the same time I think it is always legitimate to raise the issue of human rights abuses and we should make sure that we are holding our governments accountable to universal standards of human rights as articulated by international instruments.

“We should make sure that we are holding our governments accountable to universal standards of human rights as articulated by international instruments,” the consultant for Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN) says. Q: When it comes to Israeli crimes against Palestinians, why do countries like Canada and the U.S. give full support to Tel-Aviv? How is it possible that Israel wins such support?

A: I think lack of accountability for Israeli violations of human rights and international law against Palestinians reflects a weakness in accountability of the international system.

Unfortunately, the UN Security Council cannot act in the Israel-Palestine case because of the veto power of powerful members, especially the United States, while other mechanisms of accountability such as the International Criminal Court are struggling to have jurisdiction over war crimes committed in Palestine. So we have a lot of work to do in obtaining a stronger mechanism of accountability, and the fact that Israel enjoys such a strong military and financial support from the United States reflects a distorted political system in which the U.S. as a superpower is using its significant influence to allow its allies to commit abuses.

Q: Why is Canada not really concerned about human rights violations when it clinches arms deals with a value of 15 billion dollars with Saudi Arabia? Is it justifiable to say that Canada is not aware that these weapons are used against children and women in Yemen?

A: Canada, like all countries, has a responsibility to ensure that it does not violate human rights or international humanitarian law including in its military deals; so selling weapons to actors who are committing war crimes in Yemen will be a violation of Canada’s obligations and certainly, the Canadian government and the Canadian people have a responsibility to ensure that their foreign policy respects human rights and does not contribute to war crimes. 

Q: Washington has imposed harsh sanctions on Iran that are hampering Iran’s access to medicine. At such a hard time, countries like Canada have been cooperating with Washington in pushing ahead with its unilateral sanctions by refusing to sell humanitarian goods to Iran.  What is your comment?

 A: Unfortunately, the United States and Canada support human rights selectively, and the United States, in particular, has not done nearly enough to call out its allies for human rights abuses. At DAWN, we believe that U.S. policy should be consistent. So the same standard in terms of respecting human rights that are applied towards Iran should also be applied towards Israel and every other country because these are universal standards of how government should treat the people under their control.

Q: Why have Western countries, especially Canada and the U.S., preferred to turn a blind eye to Khashoggi’s murder while they knew that Mohammed bin Salman was directly responsible for that crime? How could Saudis distract attention away from their crimes and influence human rights bodies in the UN?

A: I think the lack of accountability for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi reflects a weakness in the system of international politics and especially the United States, which is selling Saudi Arabia billions of dollars in the arms trade and providing diplomatic cover that allows the Saudi government to act with impunity. The lack of accountability for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder regarding the role of Mohammad Bin Salman indicates that real change is needed. What is encouraging is that in the United States, there is pressure not just from the American people but also in the American Congress seeking accountability, and I remind that the U.S. Congress has required the federal government to provide information about those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder in the form of a DNI (Director of National Intelligence) report that was to be published last year. Unfortunately, the Trump administration has ignored that mandate and refused to release the report.  The refusal is the subject of litigation in U.S. courts, and we hope that the incoming administration will follow the law and do what Congress has required, which is to reveal what American intelligence services know about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. 

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لبنان في لقاء بومبيو وبن سلمان ونتنياهو

ناصر قنديل

مع تكرار نبأ وصول رئيس حكومة الاحتلال بنيامين نتنياهو يرافقه رئيس الموساد يوسي كوهين إلى مدينة نيوم الساحلية في السعودية التي تشكل عاصمة وليد العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان للانضمام الى اجتماع وزير الخارجية الأميركية مايك بومبيو وبن سلمان، من أكثر من وسيلة إعلام في كيان الاحتلال، بدأتها صحيفة يديعوت أحرونوت وتلتها إذاعة الجيش في الكيان ثم الإذاعة الرسمية وتوّج بخبر في وكالة رويترز، ورغم صدور النفي السعودي للنبأ، يمكن اعتبار الاجتماع أول أمس مؤكداً، خصوصاً إذا أخذنا بالاعتبار أن الثلاثة، أي فريق الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب ونتنياهو وبن سلمان يشكلون ثلاثياً تجمعه المصيبة والتحديات والمصير، في ضوء ما نجم عن الانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية، حيث سيخسر بن سلمان ونتنياهو بمثل ما سيخسر ترامب وفريقه، عند التسليم بفوز جو بايدن بالرئاسة وتقدّمه نحو البيت الأبيض، ليس لأن بايدن يمثل مشروعاً مختلفاً عن ترامب في منطلقات العداء لإيران وقوى المقاومة وروسيا والصين، ولا لأنه يحمل تأييداً أقل ليكان الاحتلال وأنظمة الخليج، بل لأن بايدن يمثل القناعة الأميركية بفشل الرهان الذي خاضه الثلاثي ترامب ونتنياهو وبن سلمان بإسقاط التفاهم النووي مع إيران، وبالتوازي سلوك طريق التصعيد مع روسيا والصين، والاعتقاد بأن بمستطاع العقوبات القصوى التي هددت في طريقها أوروبا، يمكن أن تنتج مناخاً تفاوضياً أفضل لحساب أميركا واستطراداً تتمكن من تحسين وضعية السعودية والكيان، وهذا يعني ان انتقال السلطة الى بايدن سيعني العودة للسياسات التي انتهت اليها إدارة أوباما في نهاية اختباراتها لسياسة التصعيد والعقوبات والتلويح بالحرب ونتائج الحرب المحورية في المنطقة التي مثلتها الحرب على سورية.

بسلوك بايدن أعلى درجات الحرص لمنع التداعيات السلبية على كيان الاحتلال والسعودية مع بدء تطبيق سياسات المواءمة مع تراجع الامكانات وفقدان الفرصة لكسر إيران وتطويق روسيا والصين، رغم التمسك بمنطلقات العداء ذاتها، وما تتضمّنه من عودة لمفهوم الانخراط بتفاهمات الواقعية السياسية والانسحاب العسكري، لن يكون ممكناً الحؤول دون تعرّض الكيان والسعودية لهزات كبرى، فالالتزام الدفاعي الأميركي بالسعودية وكيان الاحتلال لن يتبدل، لكن جعل السعودية وكيان الاحتلال موجهاً للسياسة الأميركية، خصوصاً في ما يخصّ التفاهم النووي مع إيران، لن يكون ممكناً، كما لم يكن ممكناً مع الرئيس باراك أوباما، الذي قال يومها عن الاتفاق النووي إنه سيئ والأسوأ، لكنه تحدّى المعارضين في الرياض وتل أبيب بتقديم بديل واقعي، طالما أن الترجمة تقول بأن العقوبات لن تغير موقف إيران، مهما اشتدت، ولن تسقط نظامها، وستخلق تحديات أكثر خطورة في الملف النووي، وطالما أن الحرب لن تتمكن من محو المقدرات النووية الإيرانية من الضربة الأولى، ولن تتمكن من تدمير قدرة إيران على رد يهدّد المنشآت الحيوية لكيان الاحتلال وحكومات الخليج والوجود الأميركي الواقع في مرمى الصواريخ الإيرانيّة، ولذلك كان رهان أوباما ومعه بايدن، استبدال العقوبات على إيران، بتحقيق إجماع دولي جديد يحيط بالتزاماتها النووية، ويضمن إدماجها بحجم ما تمثل من قوة في معادلات جديدة في المنطقة، مع الإدراك المسبق باتساع نفوذها، وتراجع فرص جعل الثنائي السعودي الإسرائيلي صاحب اليد العليا في المنطقة، في ظل ثنائي إيراني تركي يتقدم، مع تفاوت واختلاف سقوف أطراف هذا الثنائي.

الواضح من موافقة السلطة الفلسطينية على العودة للتفاهمات مع كيان الاحتلال أن ولي العهد السعودي يبذل مالاً ونفوذاً ومعه نتنياهو وبومبيو لتوسيع قاعدة الحماية، وتعزيز القدرة، لكن العجز عن تقديم أي مكسب سياسي للسلطة الفلسطينية مع تمسك بايدن بحماية منجزات كيان الاحتلال في ظل إدارة ترامب، سيعني عجز هذه السلطة عن تقديم خدمات تذكر لإضعاف قوى المقاومة في بيئة سياسية وشعبية معاكسة، الا اذا تحوّلت الى ما يشبه جيش العميل انطوان لحد في جنوب لبنان قبيل تحرير الجنوب عام 2000، وبدء تصدع الهياكل الأمنية للسلطة وتمرد شرائح واسعة في فتح يصير هو الأقرب، لذلك يصير التفكير بساحة تكامل للثلاثي محكوماً بالنظر نحو لبنان، حيث الأميركي يضع لبنان في أولويات حركته كما تقول التصريحات والعقوبات ومفاوضات ترسيم الحدود، وحيث كيان الاحتلال يعيش مأزقه الوجودي والأمني الأهم مع قدرات المقاومة وتهديدها، وحيث ابن سلمان يملك الرصيد الأبرز للسعودية في المنطقة، من قدرة تأثير وضغوط على شرائح سياسية متعددة.

اجتمعوا ام لم يجتمعوا، فلبنان مساحة اهتمام ثلاثي تحت الضوء، والحكومة اللبنانية معلّقة على حبال الانتظار.

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ابن سلمان مذعور من بايدن لأربعة أسباب

د. وفيق إبراهيم

ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان مصاب بقلق عميق من التداعيات المرتقبة للسياسات الجديدة التي يريد الرئيس الأميركي الجديد جو بايدن تطبيقها في الشرق الاوسط.

هذه التدابير لا تشمل «اسرائيل» لأن هناك تطابقاً كاملاً في دعمها أميركياً وسعودياً.

أليست السعودية مَن أقنع الإمارات والبحرين والسودان بالتطبيع معها؟ وتتحضر لبناء علاقات مباشرة معها بعد استدراج دول عربية وإسلامية جديدة للتطبيع لتلتحق بها آنفاً في عملية تمويه تبدو وكأنها قبول سعودي مكره لأمر واقع بدأته دول اخرى.

فـ»إسرائيل» كيان محتل، لكنها من الثوابت الأساسية للاستراتيجية الأميركية في العالم وليس مسموحاً لأحد التعرّض لها.

ما هي إذاً أسباب هذا الذعر السعودي؟

تشكلت في السنوات الأربع الأخيرة تيارات في الحزب الديمقراطي الأميركي لاستهداف العلاقة الحميمة بين الرئيس الأميركي ترامب ومحمد بن سلمان. فجرى الاستثمار في اغتيال الخاشقجي وملاحقة الأمني الجبري في أميركا وكندا والاعتقالات التي سجن فيها ابن سلمان أولاد عمومته ومعارضيه بدعم من الرئيس ترامب.

هذا بالإضافة إلى فرض نفسه ولياً لعهد أبيه الملك سلمان، بما يناقض التوريث السياسي في المملكة القائم على انتقال الملك من شقيق الى أخيه وهكذا دواليك، إلى أن تصل الى اولاد الأشقاء وبالمداورة.

للإشارة فإن الدعم الذي تلقاه بن سلمان من ترامب هو الذي أوصله الى ولاية العهد مقابل تأييد سعوديّ كامل لسياسات ترامب وتوجّهاته الاقتصادية سعودياً.

هذا هو السبب الأول الذي يرعب بن سلمان باعتبار أن حلفه مع ترامب ناصب الرئيس المنتخب بايدن ومجمل الحزب الديمقراطي العداء، وقد يبلغ هذا العداء إذا غابت التسويات تماماً إلى حدود عرقلة الانتقال الهادئ لولي العهد الى العرش السعودي. وهذا ما يستطيع الأميركيون أن يفعلوه بسهولة مع مملكة يسيطرون على كل تضاريسها السياسيّة والاقتصاديّة.

أما السبب الثاني فمرتبط برفض الحزب الديمقراطي الموالي لبايدن للحرب السعودية – الإماراتية على اليمن المتواصلة منذ خمس سنوات ومطالبته الدائمة بوقف بيع السلاح الأميركيّ للسعودية والإمارات في هذه الحرب.

لذلك يخشى بن سلمان من ضغط أميركي يوقف هذه الحرب فترتدّ سلباً عليه لجهة إعادة تشكيل اليمن موحّداً بين الشمال والجنوب مع إمكانية تبلور دولة يمنية قوية تتموضع على رأس جزيرة العرب وتتحكم بحركة الانتقال والتنقل من بحر عدن الى قناة السويس مروراً بباب المندب وجزيرة سقطرى نحو الخليج الهندي.

هذا يسبب ذعراً لآل سعود من التراجع الإضافي المرتقب لدولتهم ما يجعلها أكثر هامشية مما عليه الآن.

لجهة السبب الثالث، الذي يرعبهم ايضاً فيتعلق باحتمال تقارب أميركي تركي يقوم على إزالة الكثير من التعارضات التي تشكلت بين البلدين منذ 2012 تقريباً.

إن من شأن أي تقارب بايدن مع الأتراك العودة الى استخدام الاخوان المسلمين الورقة القوية للأتراك وحزبهم الاخواني الحاكم العدالة والتنمية في الكثير من البلدان. وهؤلاء الاخوان موجودون في معظم العالم العربي والإسلامي ويشكلون تهديداً أيديولوجياً للوهابية والأنظمة الملكية. فالاخوان يختارون ولي الأمر بمفهوم الشورى الداخلية فيما بينهم ويرفضون مبدأ التوارث في السلطة السياسيّة. بما يعني رفضهم لنماذج الدول الخليجيّة في السعودية وعمان والبحرين والإمارات والكويت وغيرها، القائمة على مبدأ الوراثة العائلية للسلطة.

هذا من الأساليب التي تجعل السعودية لا تقبل باستعمال الاخوان آلية سياسية للتحرك الأميركي – السعودي في المنطقة بالإضافة الى أن أي نجاح للاخوان في الإقليم هو صعود لدور تركيا المنافس الفعلي للسعودية على زعامة العالم الإسلامي.

لذلك يخشى بن سلمان من تغيير في مرحلة بايدن للسياسات الأميركية في الشرق الأوسط تستند الى تقارب أميركي مع الأتراك.

فهذا يدفع الى مزيد فوري من تراجعات للأدوار السعودية الخارجية وحتى في شبه جزيرة العرب.

على مستوى السبب الرابع فهو إيران، وهنا لا بد من الإشارة الى أن بن سلمان يعرف بدقة أن إيران لا تشكل خطراً مباشراً على السعودية لأن الجيوبوليتيك الأميركي يعتبرها ومنذ 1945 جزءاً بنيويّاً منه تلي «إسرائيل» مباشرة في الأهمية.

لكن هذا لا يمنع من شعور محمد بن سلمان بالخطر الكبير من أي هدنة أميركية إيرانية جديدة تستند على عودة الأميركيين الى الاتفاق النووي وبالتالي الى رفع الحصار عن إيران.

هنا يرى السعوديون في هذه الخطوة استعادة إيران لقدراتها في الحركة الإقليمية واسترجاعاً لقوتها الاقتصادية ما يؤدي الى توسع نفوذها في آسيا الوسطى ومسلمي الهند وباكستان مروراً بتحالفاتها في اليمن والعراق وسورية ولبنان. هذا بالإضافة الى المقدرة الإيرانية على نسج علاقات مع الاخوان المسلمين في مختلف المواضع والأمكنة.

لذلك يبدو محمد بن سلمان محاصراً في طموحاته الشخصية، ومرعوباً من تغيير فعلي في الإقليم، وخائفاً من نمو رغبة أميركية بتغييره بأمير آخر من أولاد عمومته.

كما انه يعرف أن الدورين التركي والإيراني اكثر فاعلية من قدرة «إسرائيل» على حمايته. بما قد يدفعه لدفع أتاوة جديدة للأميركيين مع ولاءات سياسية واستراتيجية غير مسبوقة، فهل يمتنع بن سلمان عن دفع الف مليار دولار للأميركيين مقابل دعمه في الإمساك بالعرش السعودي؟ لقد دفع لترامب نحو 500 مليار من أجل ولاية العهد، أفلا يستحقّ العرش أكثر من ذلك؟

هذا هو المنطق السعودي والأميركي في آن معاً والضحية بالطبع هم أهل جزيرة العرب الذين يتشارك في قمعهم الأميركيون والسعوديون ويجهضون أي محاولة فعليّة لتحرّرهم من قيود القرون الوسطى.

’Blood and Oil’ Co-authors: MBS Only Cares Fir His Image, is ‘Allergic’ to Political Reform

’Blood and Oil’ Co-authors: MBS Only Cares Fir His Image, is ‘Allergic’ to Political Reform

By Staff, OCBS News

OCBS News’ Intelligence Matters host Michael Morell interviewed Bradley Hope and Justin Scheck, the co-authors of “Blood and Oil: Mohammed bin Salman’s Ruthless Quest for Global Power,” about the leadership style and strategic decision-making of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS].

Hope and Scheck offered their assessment of MBS’ “dichotomy”, explaining how he has behaved as both a great reformer and ruthless dictator. They also discuss his likely awareness of the murder of dissident Jamal Khashoggi, his views on political reform, and attempts to diversify the Saudi economy.

On MBS’ reaction to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, Scheck said: “I think he was very surprised by the outrage and by the fact that people in these other countries that he considers as important were going to harp so much on the death of one Saudi citizen.”

“This is a Saudi citizen he viewed as a traitor. ‘Why is this such a big deal?’ He told someone, he blurted out, ‘Oh now the world sees me as a journalist killer.’ His image is very important to him and because he’s not the king yet, he is the Crown Prince, and creating this image of someone who is fit to be king is very important. He was extremely concerned and surprised that he is now defined in the eyes of many foreign leaders as the guy he who killed the journalist,” Scheck added.

Commenting on MBS’ “allergy” to political reform, Hope said: “Mohammed bin Salman, despite being seen as a reformer, in the Western media and also among Saudi youth, he’s completely allergic to anything close to political reform. I’ve never in any of my reporting heard of him having anything close to a discussion of political reforms . . . He is completely politically illiberal, but he’s socially liberal. And that is something that everyone needs to know when they’re trying to think about Mohammed bin Salman.”

Regarding the Saudi kingdom’s future of economic development, Scheck explained that if MBS focuses on economic development, there are huge risks.

“If Saudi Arabia does not end its near total reliance on oil revenue, there’s not really a great future for it. It’s hard to envision the future of a country that doesn’t have a great source of revenue, has not enough fresh water for its people, virtually no arable land.”

Scheck went on to say that MBS has talked a lot about how he’s going to do that, but so far, the things that we’ve seen him do to get to a real economy haven’t been effective.

“Investing close to 50 billion dollars in foreign tech companies hasn’t produced meaningful dividends for the kingdom. But beyond that, it hasn’t produced a clear roadmap for how those tech investments are somehow going to fuel that economy.”

US Election: Mohammed Bin Salman Braces for The Loss of a Key Ally

US Election: Mohammed Bin Salman Braces for The Loss of a Key Ally

By Madawi Al-Rasheed – MEE

No doubt Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman listened to US presidential candidate Joe Biden’s statement on the second anniversary of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi with apprehension.

Biden’s statement this month was a strong condemnation of the murder by Saudi operatives of Khashoggi, who had been a US resident since 2017. Biden promised to withdraw US support for the war in Yemen launched by Saudi Arabia in 2015, and noted: “Today, I join many brave Saudi women and men, activists, journalists, and the international community in mourning Khashoggi’s death and echoing his call for people everywhere to exercise their universal rights in freedom.”

Such a statement by someone who may become the master of the White House has surely sent shock waves through Riyadh.

Shifting public opinion

In contrast, two years ago, US President Donald Trump uncritically adopted the Saudi narrative about the slain journalist as an “enemy of the state”. Trump shamelessly boasted about shielding the murderers, above all bin Salman, and protecting him from further denunciation by Congress. Trump sensed a major shift in public opinion, and above all in Congress, in favor of vigorous scrutiny of US authoritarian allies in the Middle East – above all, the Saudi regime.

Many Republican and Democratic congressmen condemned Saudi Arabia and its authoritarian ruler for committing crimes against their own citizens on foreign soil, and continuing a policy of zero tolerance towards activists and dissidents. Shielding bin Salman from further scrutiny and possible sanctions allowed the crown prince to enjoy two years of security and tranquility, which may not be readily available after 3 November, should Biden win the presidential election.

Yet, one must be cautious when anticipating great US policy shifts if a Democrat is elected to the White House. The previous record of Democratic leadership has been more in line with a long US tradition of supporting authoritarian proteges in the Middle East, above all in Saudi Arabia, despite being more likely to invoke US values and their contradiction with the realist policy of propping up the region’s dictators.

Barack Obama went further than any previous US president by withdrawing support for former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, rather than openly and actively embracing the democratic forces that toppled him in 2011. By failing to unconditionally support a long-term US ally, Obama antagonized the Saudis, who interpreted his position on Egypt as abandoning a loyal partner.

The Saudis feared that the Arab uprisings would leave them exposed to serious political change, without the US superpower rushing to protect them against a dramatic fall. Saudi leaders knew they could not count on Obama to embrace them without demanding serious reforms. In a famous interview, Obama reminded Gulf leaders that their biggest problems were domestic and encouraged them to stop amplifying “external threats”, such as Iran’s regional influence, while silencing critical voices at home.

Sense of betrayal

The Saudi leadership was further annoyed by a historic deal between the US, several European countries and Iran, facilitated by Oman. The Saudis realized how far a US Democratic president could go towards marginalizing them, without openly denouncing their domestic and regional policies in the Middle East.   

That didn’t sit well with Saudi autocrats, who have always aimed to paint a picture of a kingdom besieged by hostile regional powers, while enjoying the bliss of harmony and the support of its domestic constituency. Obama publicly debunked this Saudi myth and negotiated with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s archenemy for decades.

The Saudis felt a sense of betrayal, which Trump quickly abated when he fully endorsed bin Salman – or, more accurately, the crown prince’s promises to invest in the US economy and to seriously consider normalizing relations with Israel, both high prices for US tolerance of bin Salman’s excesses at home and abroad.  

Should Biden win the US election, bin Salman will be on alert. Any word uttered by the White House that falls short of endorsing the young prince and reminding Congress of the centrality of the “historical partnership” between the US and Saudi Arabia will automatically be interpreted in Riyadh as a hostile stand.

Yet the rambling discourses of the Democrats about US values is no longer convincing, if not accompanied by real policy changes. Withdrawing support from autocrats is not enough. The region and its activists expect more than passive support from a country that boasts about its democracy and civil rights. They expect real and concrete measures that undermine the longevity of authoritarian rule, if the region and the rest of the world are to enjoy political change, economic prosperity and social harmony.

Loss of faith

The first step is to starve those autocrats of weapons used against their own people and their neighbors. Whether Democrats will reconsider the relentless US export of arms and training programs to Saudi Arabia and its neighbors remains to be seen. At the least, Biden could make the export of weapons to Saudi Arabia conditional on meeting international standards on human rights, and on serious political changes to allow Saudis to be represented in a national assembly. The Saudi people could do the rest.

Frankly, the Middle East, and for that matter the rest of the world, have lost faith in the US. Americans have yet to calculate the costs of having elected Trump and the ensuing reputational damage. Should they bring a Democrat to power next month, they will struggle to correct not only the short history of Trump’s failings, but also more than half a century of misguided US policy in the Middle East. 

From now until early November, bin Salman will no doubt have sleepless nights in anticipation of losing a good partner in Washington – one who allowed him to get away with murder.

Two Misfortunes Dissolve the Saudi Crown Prince within a Week

Two Misfortunes Dissolve the Saudi Crown Prince within a Week

By AlKhaleej Today

According to a high-level source to “Saudi WikiLeaks,” the recommendation of the European Parliament to reduce the level of representation at the G20 summit to be hosted by Riyadh, via video link on November 21-22, “was a strong shock to the Crown Prince.”

The source, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that bin Salman had “gone crazy” and proceeded to smash the contents of his office and shout at his aides.

The source stated that the Crown Prince made several contacts that evening with European personalities. To know the merits of the parliamentary decision, however, these personalities “did not give anything to the prince, who aspires to present his achievements at the next summit.”

The European Parliament called for a reduction in the level of representation at the G20 summit to be hosted by Riyadh, via video link on November 21-22. Because of human rights violations inside and outside the Kingdom.

Parliament issued its statement last Thursday with this recommendation to the European Union and its member states, and said that its goal is to avoid legitimizing impunity for human rights violations and illegal and arbitrary detentions in Saudi Arabia.

Parliament called in a letter to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to place human rights at the center of all discussions of the G20.

The message urged that the summit event be used to demand the release of all prisoners of conscience and women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, and for real accountability for those involved in the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The other disaster, revealed by the “Tactical Report” website, concerned with intelligence affairs, after US President Donald Trump was infected with the Corona virus.

Reports from Riyadh quoted the Saudi crown prince as saying: The kingdom should be prepared for changes in Saudi-American relations if Democratic candidate “Joe Biden” wins over President Trump in the upcoming US presidential elections in November.

Bin Salman added: The election of Biden will turn the situation upside down in the United States, and will force the Kingdom to take new matters into consideration.

He revealed that these concerns increased regarding the results of the US elections after the announcement of President Trump’s infection with the Corona virus. In addition, there are many reports from the Saudi embassy in Washington indicating that Biden’s chances of winning are increasing.

The crown prince recently contacted a number of President Trump’s close aides, particularly his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.

“Kushner” assured the Saudi crown prince that the poll results are not confirmed and that the percentage of voters who support “Trump” will increase during the remaining four weeks before the elections. However, Kushner’s assurances did not convince Bin Salman.

Anticipating any “surprises”, bin Salman asked the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Princess Rima Bint Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, to obtain details from within the Democratic Party regarding the current course of the situation.

Princess Reema was also tasked with inquiring about the opinions of senior Democratic officials about the future of Saudi-American relations in the event Biden becomes president.

The Saudi crown prince was also very concerned about Biden’s recent statements, which pledged to reassess US relations with Saudi Arabia if elected.

Until the past two weeks, bin Salman showed little interest in Biden’s statements, as he relied on President Trump’s confidence and on reports from Washington that claimed that Biden had no chances of winning.

However, recent events in the United States, including Trump’s admission to a military hospital, have changed the views of the Saudi crown prince in this regard.

And the famous American journalist Bob Woodward revealed in his latest book entitled “Anger” that Trump boasted that he had succeeded in “rescuing” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, on October 2, 2018, inside his country’s consulate in Istanbul.

The excerpts of the book revealed that Trump boasted, in one of their recorded interviews, that he had succeeded in “saving” bin Salman, whom Congress held responsible for the assassination of Khashoggi.

In his new book, “Anger,” which the Business Insider news site published excerpts from, Woodward recounts how Trump told him in an interview he had on January 22 that “I saved him,” in response to a question about bin Salman’s relationship with the murder.

According to the journalist, Trump made clear in the recorded interview that he had prevented Congress from pursuing bin Salman. Trump said, according to these excerpts: “I succeeded in getting Congress to leave it alone. I succeeded in stopping them.”

Mohammed bin Salman Faces His Biggest Threat to the Throne. US Law Suit against Saudi Crown Prince

Law Suit in US Federal Court

By Steven Sahiounie

Global Research, August 12, 2020

Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, has been able to dodge legal responsibility in the death of Jamal Khashoggi, while US President Trump has defended and supported him.  It appears Mohammed bin Salman is facing a serious legal threat, and it will take personal interference by Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to save him from facing a judge in the federal court at Washington, DC.  Mohammed bin Salman may be praying for Trump to win in November 2020 to be sure he holds a ‘get out of jail’ card. 

Mohammed bin Salman faces US court summons

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been issued a summons by the US District Court in Washington, DC. on August 7, 2020, after Saad al Jabri filed a lawsuit accusing Prince Mohammed bin Salman of sending a Saudi death squad to Canada to kill him.

Saad al Jabri was a former senior Saudi intelligence official working under the former Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was then Minister of the Interior.  Al Jabri was well known as the key link between Saudi intelligence services and their counterparts in the US and Europe.

Jabri’s lawyers filed a recent lawsuit in a federal court in Washington, DC. against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, alleging he had sent a Saudi death squad to kill him in Canada on October 15, 2018, less than two weeks after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Jamal Khashoggi

Al Jabri owes his life to the Canadian border officials who were suspicious of the Saudi death squad after they were caught lying at the Ontario International Airport while carrying forensic equipment and traveling on tourist visas, which resulted in denied entry to all but one member who carried diplomatic credentials.

The lawsuit reads:

“Dr. Saad was privy to sensitive information about Defendant bin Salman’s covert political scheming within the Royal Court, corrupt business dealings, and creation of a team of personal mercenaries that Defendant bin Salman would later use to carry out the extrajudicial killing of Jamal Khashoggi, among others.”

The FBI became aware of the threats to al Jabri and his family in January 2018, when his son, Khalid al Jabri, was prevented from boarding a flight departing from Boston’s Logan International Airport by FBI agents, who informed the young man his life and that of his family were under threat.

Al Jabri’s legal team maintains that the threat to his life remains, and the Saudi death squad was planning to enter Canada by land, thus avoiding any airport security.

Mohammed bin Salman’s death squad on trial in IstanbulIs CIA Leak of Bin Salman’s Guilt in Khashoggi Murder Aimed at Kushner, or Trump Himself?

Last month the trial in Istanbul began against 20 Saudi Arabians accused of killing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate at Istanbul on October 2, 2018, even though none of the accused were present. His body was dismembered while his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, had waited outside the consulate, and his remains have never been found.

Saudi Arabia’s former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri is accused of planning the murder and assembling a team to carry out the murder of Khashoggi at the behest of their boss, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  Saud al-Qahtani, a close adviser to Mohammed bin Salman, is similarly charged with having “instigated premeditated murder with monstrous intent.”  Qahtani continues to work closely with the crown prince, and according to a Saudi Arabian activist, who had been in prison, Qahtani told her, “I’ll do whatever I like to you, and then I’ll dissolve you and flush you down the toilet.”

Agnès Callamard said the Turkish trial is an “important judicial process. Here we have a space where the victims are heard in a way they have never been heard before. We have a space where witnesses are asked to speak under oath.”

UN report names Mohammed bin Salman in Khashoggi’s death

In June 2019, Agnes Callamard, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions, published the results of her investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

The report concluded that Khashoggi’s death “constituted an extrajudicial killing for which the State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible”. The report also said there is “credible evidence” warranting further investigation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The full UN report can be read here.

 “The operation involved multiple flights, including two private jets, one under diplomatic clearance. It entailed training, with two Saudi attaches from Istanbul flying to Riyadh for ‘top secret’, ‘urgent’ training and preparation, and it required planning and execution in Istanbul,” wrote Agnes Callamard in the report for the UN.

Callamard concluded that the decision to murder Khashoggi was taken before two of the most important members of the Saudi death squad Maher Mutreb, and Salah Tubaigy, the forensic pathologist who cut the body up, flew from Riyadh to Istanbul.

CIA concluded Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi murder

In November 2018, the Central Intelligence Agency concluded that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi,

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, and senior adviser have remained close to Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Trump and Kushner have defended and supported the strong relationship with Mohammed bin Salman, despite the various important reports placing the responsibility of the murder of Khashoggi on him.

US arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Democrat and Republican lawmakers in the US Congress had held up a Trump administration request to sell 22 batches of munitions worth $8.1 billion to Saudi Arabia, because the US-made weapons were being used to kill thousands of civilians in Yemen, including the targeting of school buses full of children.

Marik String was acting chief of the US State Department’s political-military affairs bureau in early 2019, and he helped Secretary of State Mike Pompeo bypass a congressional freeze on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE by using a declared state of emergency in May 2019 to dodge the congressional hold.

The State Department’s inspector general, Steve A. Linick, had opened two investigations; one into the arms sale beginning in June 2019 and one into possible misuse of agency employees for the benefit of Mr. Pompeo and his wife. Pompeo asked Trump to fire Linick in May 2020, who was investigating whether the declared state of emergency was legal. Pompeo promoted String to acting legal advisor the very same day as he had declared the state of emergency.

Congressional officials have been told that the Trump administration plans to sell yet another package of weapons to Saudi Arabia worth $478 million.  With Linick gone, there will be no investigations.

*

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This article was originally published on Mideast Discourse.

Steven Sahiounie is an award-winning journalist. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Steven Sahiounie, Global Research, 2020

The ominous Jihadis war; From Tripoli to Tripoli:

The ominous Jihadis war; From Tripoli to Tripoli:

May 23, 2020

By Ghassan Kadi for the Saker Blog

The ‘War on Syria’ is far from being over, and it will continue until all foreign forces illegally present on Syrian soil retreat; either willingly, or defeated.

And even though the American presence in Syria has no clear and realistic political purpose other than wreaking havoc. https://transnational.live/2020/05/19/america-exists-today-to-make-war-how-else-do-we-interpret/ and making it hard for Russia to help reach a decisive victory, in a twist of fate, the focus of the Russo-American conflict in the region may soon move away from Syria.

In reality, the outcome of the ‘War on Syria’ was never expected by the initial assembly of adversaries when they launched the attack. Furthermore, they had many deep differences and nothing in common other than a shared hatred for Syria, but the unexpected turn of events has intensified their internal conflict and seemingly catapulted the strife between those former allies much further afield to a new hub in Libya.

Whilst the world and its media are busy with COVID-19, a new huge struggle is brewing, and this time, it is drawing new lines and objectives that are in reality going to be fueled, financed and executed by the former once-united enemies of Syria; but this time, it will be against each other.

An array of regional and international issues lies behind the impending conflict; and to call it impending is an under-statement. It is already underway, but hasn’t reached its peak yet, let alone making any significant news coverage.

It is a real mess in Libya now, and the short version of a long story goes like this:

Soon after NATO hijacked the UNSC mandate to enforce a no-fly-zone decision over Libya and manipulated it in a manner that ‘legalised’ bombing Libya culminating in toppling and killing Gadhafi, the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), based in the formal capital Tripoli on the Western side of the coast, was created.

But the ‘revolution’ against Gadhafi was launched in the eastern coastal city of Benghazi. After Gadhafi’s demise, another interim government was formed in Libya’s east under the name of National Transitional Council (NTC).

The NTC, whose flag is the flag of the ‘revolution’, did not recognize the GNA and regarded it as a Western lackey.

After a few years of squabbling, NTC strongman General Haftar decided to militarily disable the GNA.

With little concrete protection on the ground from the West, and under the guise of upholding UNSC mandates, Erdogan jumped into the existing void and the opportunity to grab Libya’s oil, and decided to send troops to support the GNA.  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-51003034

In return, Haftar is getting support from other regional players. Recently, representatives from Egypt, the UAE, Greece, Cyprus and France had a meeting and denounced Turkey’s involvement in Libya. https://greekcitytimes.com/2020/05/12/greece-egypt-cyprus-france-uae-denounce-turkey-in-joint-statement/. Erdogan perhaps borrowed a term from his American part-ally-part-adversary and referred to the meeting and its decree as an ‘alliance of evil’. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/turkey-accuses-five-nations-of-forming-alliance-of-evil/2020/05/12/a3c5c63a-9438-11ea-87a3-22d324235636_story.html Fancy this, a NATO member accusing other NATO members of being in an alliance of evil.

It must be noted that even though Saudi Arabia did not attend the meeting, it was there in spirit, and represented by its proxy-partner the UAE.

The USA took a step further and accused Russia and Syria of working behind the scenes and planning to send fighters to Libya to support Haftar. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-libya-security-usa-syria-idUSKBN22J301

But this article is not about the geopolitical hoo-ha. It is about shedding a light on what score-settling is expected to eventuate in Libya, and who is likely to end up doing the fighting against who.

Even though the Afghani Mujahedeen were purportedly the first Jihadi fighters to engage in battle in the 20th Century, their fight was against foreign USSR troops. In terms of an internal force that aimed for fundamentalist Muslim rule, there is little doubt that the first event of such insurgency in the Middle East was the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) revolt that took place in Syria in the early 1980’s and which was quashed by the then President, Hafez Assad. After their smashing defeat, the fundamentalists kept their heads low until they lit the flame again in the Palestinian refugee Naher Al-Bared Camp at the northern outskirts of Tripoli Lebanon in 2007.

There are, for those who are unaware, two cities bearing the name Tripoli on the Mediterranean coast; one is in Northern Lebanon, and it is Lebanon’s second largest city, and the other Tripoli is located on the Western side of the Libyan Coast. They are sometimes called Tripoli of the East and Tripoli of the West, respectively.

Shaker Al-Absi, leader of Fateh Al Islam, a Salafist terror organization, declared jihad and engaged in a bitter fight against the Lebanese Army. He was defeated, remained at large, but any look at Lebanon’s Tripoli after his demise displayed a clear evidence of a huge build-up of Salafist presence in the city.

When the ‘War on Syria’ started only four years later, Tripoli became a major hub for the transport of fighters and munitions from Lebanon into Syria. Nearly a decade later, and with a few Jihadi pockets left in the Idlib province now, their defeat in Syria is imminent.

But who exactly are those murderous head-chopping radical elements that we talking about; past and present?

When the coalition that started the attack on Syria took form, it was comprised virtually of all of Syria’s enemies. Most of them were religious fundamentalists. In an early article, I called them ‘The Anti-Syrian Cocktail’.  https://intibahwakeup.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-anti-syrian-cocktail-by-ghassan-kadi.html

Back then, ISIS, did not exist in the form that it became known as. Furthermore, I have always advocated that there was no difference at all between Al-Nusra and ISIS and/or any other Takfiri organizations. They are all terror-based and founded on violent readings of Islam.

In time however, and this didn’t take long, it became apparent that even though the ideologies were identical, there were two major financiers and facilitators to those many different terror organizations. One was primarily funded by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and the other by Qatar and facilitated by Turkey.

The former group is affiliated with what is known as Saudi Wahhabi Islam. They are also known as the Salafists. The latter group are the MB’s.

As the war was shifting in favour of Syria, their agendas diverged, the schism grew deeper and strong rivalries emerged; especially as the Wahhabis and their sponsors were sent home defeated. Part of this fallout was the ongoing Saudi-Qatari conflict.

But the rivalry that is least spoken about is personal. It is the one between Erdogan and Al-Saud.

They are both fighting over the leadership of fundamentalist Sunni Islam. But Erdogan also has his nationalist anti-Kurdish agenda, and of course, he is desperate to put his hands on oil supplies that he can call his own. He cannot find oil on Turkish soil or in Turkish waters, but he is prepared to act as a regional pirate and a thug and steal another nation’s oil. If no one is to stop him, he feels that he can and will.

Upon realizing that Turkey could not get in Syria either victory or oil, Erdogan is now turning his face west towards Libya. He finds in Libya a few scores that he hopes to settle after his failure in Syria. He wants a face-saving military victory, he wants to assert his position as THE Sunni leader who can reclaim glory, and he wants free oil. Last but not least, In Libya, he will find himself close to Egypt’s Sisi; the political/religious enemy who toppled his MB friend and ally, President Mursi.

On the other side, defeated but not totally out, Saudi Arabia wants blood; Erdogan’s blood.

The Saudis blame Erdogan (and Qatar) for their loss in Syria because he was more focused on his own agenda and spoils rather than the combined ones of the former alliance they had with him. They blame him for abandoning them and making deals with Russia. They hold him responsible for the breakup of the unity of Muslim fundamentalism. They fear his aspirations for gaining the hearts and minds of Muslims who regard him as a de-facto Caliph. As a matter of fact, it was Saudi Crown Prince MBS who used the borrowed word ‘evil’ first when he stated more than two years ago that Erdogan was a part of a ‘Triangle of Evil’. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-turkey-idUSKCN1GJ1WW. And how can we forget the Khashoggi debacle and the ensuing standoff between Turkey and Saudi Arabia?

We must stop and remember once again that not long ago at all, Turkey and Saudi Arabia were allies, who together, plotted how to invade Syria and bring her down to her knees. These are the heads of the two major countries that facilitated the war machine with Saudi money injecting fighters and munitions into Syria from the south, and open Turkish borders and Qatari money injecting them from the north.

Back to Libyan General Haftar. In his westerly advance along Libya’s terrain, he cleaned up the ISIS elements who stood in his way and hindered his progress.  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/feb/02/libya-foreign-powers-khalifa-haftar-emirates-russia-us But ironically, he is now fighting their religious rival; the Turks, the protectors of the MB’s.

The USA may accuse Syria of sending troops into Libya, but where is the proof and why should Syria do this after all? And even though the Saudis and the Emiratis are warming up relationships with Syria, the Syrian Army is still engaged in battle and is not prepared to go and fight in Libya. There is nothing for it to gain. Once the war is over, Syria will be concerned with rebuilding a war-torn nation. Syria has no interests in Libya; none what-so-ever.

The role of Russia is not very clear on the ground even though there are clear indications that Russia supports Haftar ideologically. The support began when Haftar demonstrated to the Russians that he was adamant about fighting ISIS and exterminating its presence in Libya. He lived up to this promise thus far and gained Russian respect.

How will the situation in Libya eventually pan out is anyone’s guess. That said, apart from sending regular Turkish Army units, Erdogan is not short on rounding up fighters; and he has attained much experience in this infamous field of expertise from his vicious attack on Syria. With Qatari money in his pocket, he can recruit as many fighters as Qatar can afford.

Erdogan realizes that the West is not interested in backing him up militarily in Libya. The best deal he can get from America is a tacit support. And with France, a NATO member taking part in the above-mentioned five-nation conference, he will definitely have to stand alone so-to-speak.

He has Qatar behind him, but how powerful is Qatar? A ‘nation’ of 200,000 citizens? How can such a small state play such a big role and why?

Qatar is not really a nation or even a state in the true sense. Qatar is an entity, a ‘corporation’ owned by a ruling dynasty that serves the interests of the USA and Israel. https://thesaker.is/qatar-unplugged/. This family will outlay any sum of money to guarantee its own protection and continuity.

And Erdogan, the friend-and-foe of both of America and Israel, knows the vulnerabilities and strengths of Qatar, and he is using his deceptive talents to provide the Qatari ruling family with the securities that the shortfalls that America and Israel do not provide. For example, it was he who sent troops to Qatar after the Saudi threats. And even though Erdogan will never take any serious actions against his NATO masters except in rhetoric, the weak and fearful Qataris will dance to the tune of any protector and will sell their souls to the devil should they need to.

On the other hand in Libya, if Haftar finds himself facing a huge Turkish army, he will need assistance on the ground. Where will he seek it from?  His next-door neighbour Egypt? If so, will it be in the form of regular army units or hired guns?

Sisi is neither a religious nor a fundamentalist zealot, but this is not meant to be a complementary statement. He has not taken any serious black-and-white steps in regional politics. This does not mean he is a man of principles. He is probably waiting for dollar signs, and if he sees financial benefits in supporting Saudi Arabia in a proxy war against Turkey in Libya, he may opt to agree; if the price it right.

Whether or not Saudi Arabia can afford a new war, especially with current crude prices, is another story, but as the war on Yemen winds down, the gung-ho MBS is irrational enough to be persuaded. His regional enemy is no longer Assad. His current enemy is Erdogan.

To be fair to MBS, despite his vile, criminal and megalomaniac attributes, he never claims to be a religious leader, but Erdogan does, and many Sunni Muslims see in Erdogan THE leader they have been waiting for. This alone constitutes a huge challenge for MBS because neither he, nor anyone else in the whole of Saudi Arabia for that matter, is regarded anywhere in the Muslim World as a potential leader of the Sunni Muslims.

In reality, as far as Muslim leadership is concerned, the Saudis can only bank on the location of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Apart from this, they only have wealth that enables them to buy supporters, but their oil wealth is becoming increasingly vulnerable.

In the uphill fight against Erdogan within the Muslim World, both of the Saudis and the Turks realize that the fight between them in Syria is over. Actually, the Saudis have no loyal ‘troops’ on Syrian soil left to fight anyone with. This begs the question of whether or not the Turks and Saudis are moving the battle ground and the score settling from Syria to Libya.

This time around, such a potential battle between the two lines of Jihadis may have to morph from a fight between terror organizations to a war between regular armies; the Turkish Army against the Egyptian Army. Such a battle will rage over Libyan soil, with the Turks financed by Qatar and Egypt by Saudi Arabia.

Such a war will not necessarily bring in Iran into the fight. If it eventuates, it will be a fundamentalist Sunni-Sunni war, sponsored by fundamentalist Sunni states, each fighting for and against different versions of radical Muslim fundamentalism, under the watchful eyes of the USA and to the glee of Israel.

The jihadi war that was first ignited in Tripoli Lebanon between a rogue terror organization and the Lebanese Army did not end. It kept moving theatres and objectives and changing players. Is the final score going to be settled in Tripoli Libya?

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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Saudi Arabia Recruits Twitter Employees Charged For Spying

Saudi Arabia Recruits Twitter Employees Charged For Spying

By Staff, Agencies

The Saudi government, frustrated by growing criticism of its leaders and policies on social media, recruited two Twitter employees to gather confidential personal information on thousands of accounts that included prominent opponents, prosecutors announced on Wednesday.

Twitter

The complaint unsealed in US District Court in San Francisco detailed a coordinated effort by Saudi government officials to recruit employees at the social media giant to look up the private data of Twitter accounts, including email addresses linked to the accounts and internet protocol addresses that can give up a user’s location.

The accounts included those of a popular critic of the government with more than one million followers and a news personality. Neither was named.

Two Saudi citizens and one US citizen worked together to unmask the ownership details behind dissident Twitter accounts on behalf of the government in Riyadh and the royal family, the US justice department said.

According to a court filing, they were guided by an unnamed Saudi official who worked for someone prosecutors designated “Royal Family Member-1,” which The Washington Post reported was Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman or MBS as he is commonly known.

Those charged were Twitter employees Ali Alzabarah and Ahmad Abouammo, along with Ahmed Almutairi, a marketing official with ties to the royal family.

“The criminal complaint unsealed today alleges that Saudi agents mined Twitter’s internal systems for personal information about known Saudi critics and thousands of other Twitter users,” said US lawyer David Anderson.

“US law protects US companies from such an unlawful foreign intrusion. We will not allow US companies or US technology to become tools of foreign repression in violation of US law,” he said in a statement.

The lawsuit comes as US-Saudi relations continue to suffer strains over the brutal, Riyadh-sanctioned murder one year ago of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote for, among others, The Washington Post newspaper

A critic of MBS, Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

According to the Post, US intelligence has concluded that the prince himself was closely linked to the murder.

The criminal allegations reveal the extent the Saudi government went to control the flow of information on Twitter, said Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher with Human Rights Watch.

Two Former Twitter Employees Accused of Spying for Saudi Arabia

White House Restricted Access to Trump’s Calls with Putin, MBS

Trump telephone call

Al-Manar

September 28, 2019

White House efforts to limit access to President Donald Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders extended to phone calls with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the CNN reported Friday, according to people familiar with the matter.

Those calls — both with leaders who maintain controversial relationships with Trump — were among the presidential conversations that aides took remarkable steps to keep from becoming public.

In the case of Trump’s call with the Saudi prince, officials who ordinarily would have been given access to a rough transcript of the conversation never saw one, according to one of the sources. Instead, a transcript was never circulated at all, which the source said was highly unusual, particularly after a high-profile conversation.

The call – which the person said contained no especially sensitive national security secrets — came as the White House was confronting the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which US intelligence assessments said came at the hand of the Saudi government.

With Putin, access to the transcript of at least one of Trump’s conversations was also tightly restricted, according to a former Trump administration official.

It’s not clear if aides took the additional step of placing the Saudi Arabia and Russia phone calls in the same highly secured electronic system that held a now-infamous phone call with Ukraine’s president and which helped spark a whistleblower complaint made public this week, though officials confirmed calls aside from the Ukraine conversation were placed there.

But the attempts to conceal information about Trump’s discussions with Prince Mohammed (known in Saudi Arabia as MBS) and Putin further illustrate the extraordinary efforts taken by Trump’s aides to strictly limit the number of people with access to his conversations with foreign leaders.

The White House did not comment about the limiting of access to calls with the Russian and Saudi leaders.

Officials said the practice began more than a year ago after embarrassing leaks revealed information about Trump’s phone conversations with the leaders of Australia and Mexico. While it includes the highly secure system for particularly sensitive matters, it has also extended to limiting the number of individuals who are provided a transcript or are able to listen to the call.

Those efforts have come under scrutiny after the intelligence whistleblower alleged that White House officials took unusual steps to conceal Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s new president.

Source: CNN

Mohammed Bin Salman Is Making Muslims Boycott Mecca

By Ahmed Twaij, Foreign Policy

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has attempted to cast Saudi Arabia in a more positive light and mask the country’s more aggressive internal and foreign policies by undertaking so-called liberal reforms. But it has not been enough to silence those who continue to draw attention to his government’s human rights abuses.

The rising death toll of civilians killed by Saudi bombs in Yemen, the horrific slaughter of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, and Riyadh’s aggressive approach to Iran have led some of Saudi Arabia’s Sunni allies to reconsider their unwavering support for the kingdom.

In late April, Libya’s most prominent Muslim Sunni cleric, Grand Mufti Sadiq al-Ghariani, called for all Muslims to boycott the hajj – the obligatory pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca.

He went so far as to claim that anyone who embarked on a second pilgrimage was conducting “an act of sin rather than a good deed.” The reasoning behind the boycott is the suggestion that boosting Saudi Arabia’s economy through pilgrimage continues to fuel arms purchases and direct attacks on Yemen – and indirectly Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Sudan, and Algeria. Ghariani added that investment in the hajj would “help Saudi rulers to carry out crimes against our fellow Muslims.”

Ghariani is not the first prominent Muslim scholar to support a ban on the hajj. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, also a Sunni cleric and vocal critic of Saudi Arabia, announced a fatwa in August last year banning the pilgrimage, instead stating, “Seeing Muslims feeding the hungry, treating the sick, and sheltering the homeless are better viewed by Allah than spending money on the hajj.”

Saudi Arabia’s influence is not merely linked to its political and military capacity but also to its historical ties to Islam. As the home of both Mecca and Medina, Islam’s two holiest sites and the location of the Kaaba and burial place of Prophet Muhammad respectively, Saudi Arabia’s influence extends far beyond its Arab neighbors but to the Muslim world in general. More than 2.3 million Muslims from all sects flock to Mecca during the annual hajj pilgrimage and many more throughout the year, making visiting Saudi Arabia an aspiration for many Muslims around the world.

This relationship with Islam has instinctively led many from the Sunni Arab world to look to the kingdom for daily guidance on religious issues. In response to Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and fear of it cascading throughout the region, Saudi Arabia has spent millions of dollars exporting its brand of Islam through the funding of mosques around the world, many of which have been linked to … extremism in the West, as it claims to be leader of the Muslim world.

For years, Saudi Arabia has been working toward becoming a regional hegemon in the Middle East, whose claim to power, in recent years, is threatened only by Iran. As one of the world’s largest oil exporters with close ties to the United States, Saudi Arabia found itself basking in the steadfast support of many of its neighboring states for decades.

Despite mounting evidence of the royal family’s role in the “premeditated execution” of Khashoggi, the Trump administration hastily discredited any indication of Saudi involvement in the killing, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently neglecting to mention the topic when meeting with Saudi King Salman. The White House and US State Department might be willing to turn a blind eye, but fellow Muslims have not been as forgiving.

Throughout the Middle East and in other Muslim-majority nations, there has been growing concern over the slaying of Khashoggi, as well as the rising death toll in Yemen, which is expected to reach 230,000 by 2020 through the often indiscriminate airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition –which has bombed hospitals, funerals, children’s school buses, and weddings – in what has been described as the “worst man-made humanitarian crisis of our time” by UN officials. Saudi Arabia’s truculent approach to the Yemen war has isolated itself within its own coalition; even the Emirati government has shown some discomfort toward the Saudi approach.

Saudi Arabia’s atrocities have provoked persistent global condemnation, with calls for banning weapons trade with the country. Both the US House of Representatives and Senate have recently pushed back on President Donald Trump’s arms deal with Saudi Arabia, and Germany has banned such trade with the country since last October. Adding to the list, Switzerland and Italy have also moved toward banning arms trade with Saudi Arabia, and a British court recently ruled that arms deals with Saudi Arabia may have been unlawful. Ghariani has gone one step further in calling for a boycott of the country from its largest annual contingent of tourists during the hajj.

Unlike past attempts to boycott Saudi Arabia, the current effort has crossed the sectarian divide.

In 2011, Riyadh violently repressed Bahrain’s popular uprising at the request of the Bahraini government. The protests were led by Shiite Muslims, who are a majority in the Sunni-ruled country, and Iraqi activists reacted by calling for a boycott of all Saudi products. Protests across Iraq were organized and attended by Shiite clerics, academics, and politicians alike. At the time, then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that if the Saudi-led violence were to continue, “the region may be drawn into a sectarian war.”

Today, calls for boycotting the kingdom have spiraled and they aren’t just coming from Shiites. The hashtag #boycotthajj has been trending on Twitter, amassing nearly 16,000 tweets. Sunni clerics around the world have also called for a boycott. The Tunisian Union of Imams said in June that

“the money [from the hajj] that goes to Saudi authorities is not used to help poor Muslims around the world. Instead it is used to kill and displace people as is the case currently in Yemen.”

Given that the hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, prescribed as obligatory for all Muslims, the call for a boycott indicates the genuine, acerbic concern toward Saudi behavior. Should this trend continue, Saudi Arabia’s claim to being the spiritual home of Islam would be at risk – and it could take an economic hit, too.

Pilgrimage is vital to the Saudi economy and worth $12 billion annually, amounting to 20 percent of non-oil GDP, and is expected to rise to $150 billion by 2022, given the investment in luxury hotels by the Saudi government. Such investment has caused profits to skyrocket, pricing many poorer Muslims out of trips to the kingdom.

The calls for boycotting the hajj are not the first time the religious pilgrimage has been politicized. Saudi Arabia itself has in recent years banned both Qatari and Iranian nationals from partaking due to growing political differences between the states. Saudi officials have also abused the sanctity of the city of Mecca to promote their political ideology.

During one prayer sermon in October last year, Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Sudais, the imam of the Great Mosque in Mecca, stated:

“The path of reform and modernization in this blessed land … through the care and attention from its young, ambitious, divinely inspired reformer crown prince, continues to blaze forward guided by his vision of innovation and insightful modernism, despite all the failed pressures and threats,”

implying that no Muslim should be questioning the Saudi political elite.

In an effort to flex its political might, and inevitably draw attention away from the Khashoggi killing and the country’s continued leading role in the war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia organized an emergency summit in late May in Mecca to put the focus back on Iran. During the summit, which brought together in separate meetings Arab leaders, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the Islamic world, Saudis called for support from Arab countries to deal with the Iran crisis by “using all means to stop the Iranian regime from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, harboring global and regional terrorist entities, and threatening international waterways.”

In defiance, and highlighting Saudi Arabia’s waning status as the regional power, Iraq fully opposed the closing statement, which was to denounce Iran, and instead pledged a message of support toward Iran and called on other countries to help stabilize the country. At the summit in Mecca, Iraqi President Barham Salih stated: “Honestly, the security and stability of a neighboring Islamic country is in the interest of Muslim and Arab states,” referring to Iran. Similarly, during the summit, Saudi Arabia failed in getting the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – an international organization with headquarters in Jeddah – to isolate and condemn Iran.

As the death toll in Yemen rises, countries around the world are now calling for an economic, religious, and political boycott of Saudi Arabia – not just the banning of arms trade. Riyadh is running out of friends in the West, and, now, its relationships with regional allies are starting to show cracks. Should the Trump administration fail to secure a second term, Saudi Arabia may be left with few international friends and its claim to leadership of the Muslim and Arab world will be severely damaged.

What a surprise!! US will stand by Saudi Arabia despite Khashoggi murder, Trump says

Source

US president says ‘it could very well be’ that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had knowledge of journalist’s murder

‘Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!’ said Trump, about whether MBS knew about the killing (AFP)

Donald Trump has said the United States intends to stand by Saudi Arabia – including the country’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – despite the “unacceptable and horrible crime” committed against Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The US president said both bin Salman, also known as MBS, and his father, King Salman, “deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder” of Khashoggi.

However, all the facts in the case may never come out, Trump said in a statement put out by the White House Tuesday afternoon that is laced with exclamation points and a wide range of incendiary comments.

READ MORE ►

CIA concludes Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman ordered Khashoggi murder

“Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump said in the written statement.

“That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Saudi leaders have been under ongoing international pressure to investigate Khashoggi’s killing and hold top Saudi officials responsible for the murder.

A critic of Saudi government policies and prominent columnist at the Washington Post, Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October after he went inside the building to retrieve paperwork.

Khashoggi’s Washington Post editor, Karen Attiah, strongly condemned Trump’s statement on Tuesday.

“Trump’s statement on Saudi Arabia + #Khashoggi is full of lies and a blatant disregard for his own intelligence agencies,” she wrote on Twitter.

“It also shows an unforgivable disregard for the lives of Saudis who dare criticize the regime. This is a new low.”

CIA says it believes MBS ordered the murder

On Friday, the CIA said it had concluded that MBS ordered Khashoggi’s murder, several US news outlets reported.

However, Trump has sought to shield his Saudi allies from accountability, casting doubt over the US intelligence agency’s findings despite pressure from US members of Congress to re-evaluate the US-Saudi relationship.

It was widely expected that the Trump administration would reveal on Tuesday what the US has discovered in relation to the crime.

It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!

– US President Donald Trump

The US president revealed that Saudi officials said Khashoggi was “‘an enemy of the state’ and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood,” but he said the decision to stand by Riyadh was not motivated by those comments.

Khashoggi’s family has previously dismissed allegations he was affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood as baseless and false.

“The crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone,” Trump said in his statement, which highlighted a recent US Treasury decision to sanction 17 Saudi citizens for their alleged involvement in the journalist’s murder and the disposal of his body.

Several top aides to the crown prince were among those targeted by the US sanctions, including MBS’s senior adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, and another aide, Maher Mutreb, who was a member of the 15-person Saudi team that was sent to Turkey to kill Khashoggi.

As MEE previously reported, Khashoggi is believed to have been murdered within minutes of entering the Saudi consulate in early October. Turkish officials, most of whom have spoken on condition of anonymity, have also said they believe his body was dismembered inside the building and dissolved in acid.

‘America First’ strategy

On Tuesday, Trump said the US decision to stand by Saudi Arabia despite the murder is in line with his “America First” foreign affairs strategy.

In his statement, which began with the phrase “The world is a very dangerous place!” – Trump said Saudi Arabia has committed to investing $450bn in the country, including $110bn worth of military equipment sales, to be purchased from US companies.

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Khashoggi killing fuels renewed push to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen

“If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!” he said.

Riyadh has also been an important US ally in the “fight against Iran,” Trump said, and has spent billions of dollars in the fight against “Radical Islamic Terrorism”.

“The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region,” he said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended Trump’s comments on Tuesday, telling reporters that the country has an obligation to adopt policies that further US national security interests.

Trump also appeared to dismiss efforts by US politicians to re-evaluate Washington’s close ties to Riyadh.

Since the murder, several other members of Congress have also pushed the Trump administration to sanction the Saudi government over what happened, as well as the Gulf kingdom’s role in the devastating war in Yemen.

On Saturday, Bob Corker, the chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said “everything points” to MBS as having ordered Khashoggi’s killing.

Still, referring to what he called “the different direction” some US lawmakers have urged him to take vis-a-vis Saudi Arabia, Trump said he would “consider whatever ideas are presented …  but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America”.

“As President of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests and vigorously contesting countries that wish to do us harm. Very simply it is called America First!”

International Zionism and Satanism Are Indistinguishable

An “active allegiance to Satan” is the political ideology of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and indeed Israel, specifically when it comes to dealing with important issues in the Middle East. The Jamal Khashoggi debacle again makes this very clear. The recent war in Yemen is another example.

By Jonas E. Alexis
Source

There are essentially three Zionist powerhouses in the world: Israel, the United States, and Saudi Arabia. Those powerhouses want to rule much of the world with an iron fist. They have been meddling in covert activities and diabolical espionage for more than sixty years, and the Jamal Khashoggi murder is a recent manifestation of clandestine enterprises through the decades.

One can historically argue that covert activities are engrained in the Zionist powerhouses. By 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini understood that idea very clearly precisely because it was already creating chaos in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East. Khomeini then had to attack that idea. He fleshed out a principle which continues to be true to this very day. Khomeini posited then:

“There is no crime America will not commit in order to maintain its political, economic, cultural, and military domination of those parts of the world where it predominates. It exploits the oppressed people of the world by means of the large-scale propaganda campaigns that are coordinated for it by international Zionism.

“By means of its hidden and treacherous agents, it sucks the blood of the defenseless people as if it alone, together with its satellites, had the right to live in this world. Iran has tried to sever all its relations with this Great Satan and it is for this reason that it now finds wars imposed upon it.”[1]

“International Zionism” is an apt description of what was going on then. The United States and England had already overthrown a democratically elected president in Iran by the name of Mossadegh in 1953,[2] and both countries were expanding aggressively in the Middle East to keep a diabolical empire alive and well.

By 1954, the CIA again overthrew a democratically elected official by the name of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala.[3] The documents for this unfortunate coup are readily available at the National Security Archive.[4]

If one peels the ideological onion, then the logic becomes pretty clear: the United States has been in the business of overthrowing countries in the Middle East and elsewhere for a century.[5] So it is no surprise to see that Trump is treading on the same diabolical path.

Going back to the Ayatollah Khomeini, he made an attempt to solve the “international Zionism” problem by appealing to Muslim unity. But that again was another problem because countries like Saudi Arabia were already prostrating before “international Zionism.” As E. Michael Jones puts it,

“At the very moment he invoked Islamic unity, Khomeini was forced to concede that Islam was breaking up into two warring factions. The grand climactic battle of the anti-Communist crusade disguised this split for decades, but now, as intra-Islamic wars raged in Yemen and Iraq, Khomeini showed himself more of a prophet than a politician who could bring about Islamic unity. Either way, the Great Satan was exacerbating division as a means of achieving geo-political goals.”[6]

Khomeini obviously lit up a prophetic fire which again is still relevant today. “International Zionism” is still sucking the blood of virtually every nation on earth through covert activities, espionage, and deceptive means. And by metaphysically rejecting the moral and political order and embracing chaos and destruction, international Zionism has essentially become Satanism.

yemeni-civilians-living-on-bread-crumbs-to-survive-1068x718.jpeg
Yemeni civilians living on bread crumbs

This principle was articulated by St. Athanasius, who posited that any metaphysical idea which ontologically denies Logos and its central place in the universe will end up being Satanic. In a Satanic universe, what is true is actually a lie and what is a lie is by definition true. In fact, opposition to Logos “was deemed to involve an active allegiance to Satan.”[7]An “active allegiance to Satan” means that innocent people have to die in order to preserve a wicked ideology. If you doubt this, then take a look at what happened in Iraq in 2003, where the warmongers sent a six-trillion dollar bill to the American people.

In short, an “active allegiance to Satan” is the political ideology of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and indeed Israel, specifically when it comes to dealing with important issues in the Middle East. The Jamal Khashoggi debacle again makes this very clear. The recent war in Yemen is another example.

The sad thing is that there are people out there who preposterously think that the murder of Khashoggi was a set up by a “a rogue group connected to Turkey, NATO and others” in order to embarrass both Saudi Arabia and the United States! The person who has made this crazy claim is none other than Alex Jones.[8]

Creatures like Jones will never tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth because they prey on naïve people. Like Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau who keep selling military weapons to the Saudis (despite the fact that the Saudis have openly assassinated journalists),[9] a green goblin like Jones is just on the air to empty the pockets of thousands upon thousands of listeners. That’s why he lies. He invents lies. And he will continue to lie because he loves money more than truth.

So in the Zionist world, everyone wants to get a piece of the pie. The only people who cannot get even a decent meal are the poor souls in Yemen, people who are now living on bread crumbs.[10]

  • [1] Quoted in E. Michael Jones, “The Great Satan and Me: Reflections on Iran and Postmodernism’s Faustian Pact,” Culture Wars, July/August 2015.
  • [2] See Stephen Kinzer, All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2003 & 2008); Christopher de Bellaigue, Patriot of Persia: Muhammad Mossadegh and a Tragic Anglo-American Coup (New York: HarperCollins, 2013); Ervand Abrahamian, The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations (New York: The New Press, 2015).
  • [3] Stephen C.. Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer, Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala (New York: Anchor Books, 1990); Piero Gleijeses, Shattered Hope: The Guatemalan Revolution and the United States, 1944-1954(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992); Richard H. Immerman, The CIA in Guatemala: The Foreign Policy of Intervention (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2007); Nick Cullather, Secret History: The CIA’s Classified Account of Its Operations in Guatemala 1952-1954 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006); Kate Doyle and Peter Kornbluh, eds., “CIA and Assassinations: The Guatemala 1954 Documents,” The National Security Archivehttps://nsarchive2.gwu.edu//NSAEBB/NSAEBB4/index.html.
  • [4] https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu//NSAEBB/NSAEBB4/index.html.
  • [5] Stephen Kinzer, Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq (New York: Times Books, 2006); Michael Grow, U.S. Presidents and Latin American Interventions: Pursuing Regime Change in the Cold War (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2008).
  • [6] Jones, “The Great Satan and Me: Reflections on Iran and Postmodernism’s Faustian Pact,” Culture Wars, July/August 2015.
  • [7] Ibid.
  • [8] If you are an Alex Jones listener, if you are financially supporting this man with your precious money, then I feel sorry for you because you are being duped. Alex Jones has not the slightest of moral and truthful integrity, particularly when it comes to issues in the Middle East. No sane person should even support this man precisely because fundamental truth is not part of his vocabulary.
  • [9] Ashifa Kassam, “Justin Trudeau defends Canada’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia,” Guardian, March 21, 2018; “Justin Trudeau says he is unlikely to cancel Saudi armored vehicles sale,” Guardian, October 23, 2018.
  • [10] “Yemen’s displaced live on bread crumbs, leaves,” Associated Press, November 2, 2018.

 

جمال خاشقجي: أغلى جثة في التاريخ! مزاد بين ترامب واردوغان.. والحساب على بن سلمان

 

بقلم طلال سلمان

 

قُضِيَ الأمر، وثبت شرعاً، وبالدليل المادي الملموس، وباعتراف تركي رسمي، بأن جمال خاشقجي قد قضى نحبه داخل القنصلية السعودية في اسطنبول..


لكن هذه الجريمة مازالت، حتى اللحظة، “مجهولة الجاني”؟! والأسباب: هل هو انتحار، مثلاً؟ ام هو استهداف ـ من بعيد ـ لولي العهد السعودي الامير محمد بن سلمان؟ ام هو استهداف لبطل كل الازمنة والأمكنة أردوغان؟ ام أن المغدور الخاشقجي لم يجد وسيلة للتخلص من خطيبته التركية التي كانت تنتظره عند باب القنصلية سوى الطلب من القنصل السعودي ومعاونيه أن يريحوه منها ويريحوها منه، ولهم الاجر والثواب؟

ثم.. من تراه صاحب القرار في “اعدام” الخاشقجي؟.

في مملكة الصمت والذهب صاحب القرار واحد احد لا ثاني له ولا وكيل ولا نائب، ففي حضور الغياب، او غياب الحضور لخادم الحرمين الشريفين (وهو لقب موروث عن السلطان العثماني، الذي انتبه متأخراً إلى ان اللقب ليس من حقه شرعاً، فهو ليس من الاسرة الهاشمية، بل وليس حتى من العرب).. وهكذا تخلى عنه. ولما آل الحكم في ارض النبوة إلى آل سعود، وقد أخذوها بالسيف ومعه الانكليز، بات طبيعياً أن يزينوا عرشهم باللقب السامي، الذي قد يمنحهم حصانة مفتقدة باعتبار انهم ليسوا من اهل النسب الشريف ولكنهم من اهل السيفين؟

ثم.. لماذا تُرك الخاشقجي حراً، بعد مذبحة الامراء ورجال الاعمال التي انتهت بهم في فندق ريتز الفخم في الرياض بعدما دفعوا المال ورأس المال، بعد كراماتهم وسمعتهم وملياراتهم ومعها؟..

لماذا لم يبادر الامير خالد بن سلمان، سفير السعودية في واشنطن، إلى احتجاز الخاشقجي في السفارة الفخمة، وتركه يغادر إلى تركيا.. أليس هذا التقصير خطيراً؟
ولماذا أُتيحت للرئيس الاميركي دونالد ترامب هذه الفرصة الذهبية بالفعل، لابتزاز المملكة في ذهبها وكشف خيبة سيفها، اذ تحولت العملية الموعودة إلى ما يشبه الانتحار الذاتي لمملكة الصمت الابيض والذهب الاسود؟!

لقد تهافت الملوك والرؤساء والامراء والوزراء والاعيان العرب، في المشرق والمغرب، على مسابقة بعضهم البعض في إعلان الولاء للمملكة المعروفة بديمقراطيتها وتدينها (بدليل انها مسحت كل الامكنة التي تذكر برسول الله ونبيه محمد بن عبد الله) لأنها مع السياحة وضد عبادة الاصنام، ومع التجارة الحرة، لا سيما وان الحرم وجواره يكاد يكون الأغلى سعراً في التاريخ الانساني.. فهل يجوز أن نترك الحجيج يقوم بمراسم الحج مشياً على الاقدام، ام نيسر له الامر فيتنقل بالقطار الكهربائي السريع، حيث لا غبار، ولا مشقة، وانما زيادة طفيفة في رسوم الانتقال؟!

كل اولئك الملوك والرؤساء والوزراء والاعيان بالأجر، ومعهم الصحف والاذاعات ومحطات التلفزة التي يملكون، تبرعوا بشهادة الزور طوعاً، بعضهم من اقسم بما قُسم له من الشرهات، وبعضهم الآخر راهن على زيادة المخصص، باعتبار أن هذه المهمة “طارئة” ومن خارج دوام النفاق الرسمي.

وبطبيعة الحال، فان أبواق اصحاب الجلالة والفخامة هؤلاء، قد نطقوا كفراً، وشهدوا زوراً، وتبرعوا بروايات عجيبة غريبة عن علاقتهم بجمال خاشقجي، بل أن بينهم من ادعى الصداقة الحميمة مع الكاتب المغيب والذي لم يعد بإمكانه أن يكذب هذا “الشاهد الملك”.

بالمقابل فان الادارة الاميركية بقيادة الرئيس دونالد ترامب، وهو المضارب المميز في البورصة، قد مارست لعبتها المفضلة: بدأت باستهوال الجريمة الموصوفة، مع التوكيد انها لا تستطيع الصمت، وان على المملكة أن تثبت براءتها والا… وفي مكالمة مع الملك السعودي رفع الرئيس الاميركي صوته بالابتزاز:

نحن نحميكم.. وأنتم لا تدفعون لنا كفاية.. لولانا لما كنتم موجودين، فادفعوا والا… ثم اننا نعرف كل التفاصيل عن خاشقجي الذي كان يقيم لدينا وتنشر مقالاته في كبريات صحفنا… ثم، أيها الملك، ماذا لديكم غير المال، ونحن نحتاجه لدفع مرتبات العمال والموظفين المنتجين. هيا ادفعوا او تحملوا النتائج..

..ويبدو أن هذا الانذار قد اعطى ثماره: فأمس الاول، توجه وزير الخارجية الاميركية إلى الرياض لإنجاز الصفقة مع الملك الغائب وولي العهد الحاضر محمد بن سلمان.

أما أردوغان تركيا فقد جاءته الفرصة الذهبية من حيث لا يحتسب: انه الآن سيد اللعبة، يأخذ من السعودية، ويأخذ من ادارة ترامب..

Image result for ‫أردوغان بن سلمان‬‎

والمزاد مفتوح، ولسوف يحقق “بضربة واحدة” ما ينعش الاقتصاد التركي الذي يتراجع حتى لو احتاجت عملته إلى جراحات تجميلية عديدة لكي لا تنهار، كما في ماضيها القريب..

الكل سيخرج من هذه الصفقة رابحاً: الولايات المتحدة التي تريد المزيد والمزيد من ذهب المملكة الذي يُهدر على القصور واليخوت والحروب العبثية، كما في اليمن، و”الشرهات” المتعاظمة لملوك ورؤساء ووزراء في بلاد المشرق والمغرب (حتى حيث لا دولة، كما حال ليبيا..)

ثم أن تركيا التي تحسن الاتجار بالإسلام في الدول التي شعوبها، كلها او بعضها، طورانية.. كما انها تحتضن الاخوان المسلمين، مغرباً ومشرقاً بعنوان سوريا، كما أن رئيسها اردوغان يتقن لعبة الديمقراطية، فها هو سلطان منتخب بأصوات الاتراك، ومن ضمنها اصوات الارمن المقتولين، والكرد المرشحين للقتل، والعرب الذين “تُرِّكوا” برغم انوفهم كما في “اللواء السليب” اسكندرون..

أما الخاسر الاكبر فهم العرب الذين يخسرون، يومياً، وبأفضال حكامهم، المزيد من جدارتهم بأن يكونوا احفاد ناشري الدين الاسلامي في العالم وبناة الحضارة من بغداد العباسيين إلى الصين مروراً بالأندلس، بعد دمشق الامويين، وقاهرة الفاطميين..

وذهب الملك السعودي وولي عهده الذي يبشرنا بحجز ابناء عمومته، ومعهم رئيس حكومة لبنان، وقتل معارضيه، بشهادة جمال خاشقجي، لن يبني الغد الافضل، وان كان سيشوه الغد المرتجى!

لقد ثبت أن قنصلية سعودية واحدة تستطيع أن تغير في التحالفات الدولية، وان تهز مملكة الصمت والذهب، وان تحقق لترامب اقصى ما كان يطمع في جبايته من السعودية، وان تعيد الاعتبار إلى اردوغان … وكل ذلك بجثة واحدة مزقتها السكاكين والسيوف والرصاص في القنصلية المذهبة في اسطنبول.

كاتب ورئيس تحرير وناشر صحيفة السفير

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US Blind Eye: Khashoggi’s Death ‘Unacceptable’…Trump Needs Saudi Money, Alliance to Face Iran!

Local Editor

Again it’s the American administrations’ double standards that govern the international scene.

Calling Saudi Arabia a crucial ally against Iran that purchases billions of dollars-worth of US weapons, Donald Trump lamented Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s “unacceptable” death but praised Riyadh for making the first arrests in the ongoing probe.

“It is a good first step. It is a big step,” Trump said, admitting, though, that “some questions” do remain and that he will be dealing with Congress on how to proceed to address the issue. “Saudi Arabia has been a great ally but what happened in unacceptable,” Trump emphasized.

Trump further stated: “I would prefer if there is going to be some form of sanction, or what we may determine to do if anything.”

“But I would prefer that we don’t use as retribution, canceling the $110 billion-worth of work, which means 600,000 jobs.”

“They have been a great ally in the Middle East. We need them as a counter-balance to Iran. So it’s not the simplest solution. It’s not the simplest situation to be in,” Trump reiterated, expressing hope that “it will get solved, it will get solved.”

Trump said he was going to call Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for more details and that Riyadh already promised him a “full report” into what happened to Khashoggi, a journalist who wrote for the Washington Post, after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

According to numerous reports citing Turkish officials familiar with the probe, the journalist was ambushed by Saudi agents, cruelly tortured and murdered.

When faced with a threat of potential retributions by the US and other world powers amid the widening outrage over its alleged complicity in Khashoggi’s death, Riyadh finally admitted that the journalist lost his life a “fist-fight” inside the embassy.

Amid the ongoing investigation, Saudi authorities also announced the detention of 18 suspects in the case. Furthermore, King Salman fired top spy officials and issued orders to overhaul the General Intelligence Agency, a task he assigned to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

 Related Artticles

Saudis Aid US Combat Terrorism, Says Trump

By Stephen Lendman
Source

All politicians lie – affirmed every time Trump tries justifying unjustifiable US policies.

Interviewed by Fox Business on Tuesday, he disputed what’s increasingly indisputable. Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) clearly was behind Jamal Khashoggi’s elimination.

Instead of accepting reality, Trump defended MBS, saying royal family responsibility for what happened “depends on whether the king or the crown prince knew about it, in my opinion,” suggesting perhaps not, adding:

“Saudi Arabia’s our partner, our ally against Iran. They’ve been a great ally to me,” leaving unmentioned his longstanding business ties to the kingdom, including distress sales to royal family members when needing cash to meet debt obligations.

In 2015 as a presidential candidate, he created and registered eight companies to do business in Saudi Arabia.

As president, Trump chose the kingdom for his first foreign trip, sealing a $110 billion arms deal, along with a memorandum of intent to supply its regime with weapons worth around $350 billion over the next decade. 

“Aren’t we just hurting our own country” if stop dealing with the kingdom, he told Fox. He called denials of knowledge about Khashoggi’s elimination by king Salman and MBS a “big factor in my eyes.”

“We need Saudi Arabia in terms of our fight against all of the terrorism, everything that’s happening in Iran and other places,” he roared.

The US, NATO, Turkey, and Israel are the world’s leading state sponsors of terrorism – in the Middle East and elsewhere, supporting ISIS, al-Qaeda, its al-Nusra offshoot, and likeminded jihadists.

The kingdom is the Arab world’s most ruthless dictatorship. Its horrendous human rights abuses need no elaboration. 

MBS is despotic like his father and earlier Saudi rulers. His feud with Qatar is all about wanting the country reduced to satellite status, along with gaining control over its resources and cash reserves.

Institute for Gulf Affairs director Ali al-Ahmed earlier explained that Saudi Arabia was “founded on the principle of robbery and looting.”

Its founders “were desert raiders and looters. They were desert pirates,” committing unspeakable crimes.

Eliminating Khashoggi was minor compared to its regional state terrorism and homeland repression.

The state has been a close US ally since the 1930s. The worst of its high crimes won’t change a thing in the bilateral relationship.

Former regime insider turned critic Khashoggi paid with his life for foolishly entering its Istanbul consulate.

MBS proved he’s an inept leader by eliminating him and lying about it, causing a global furor even though temporary. Relations with the West remain strong.

Trump Defends Saudi Arabia again in Khashoggi’s Case

Local Editor

US President Donald Trump once again defended the Saudi government over the mysterious disappearance of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, considering that pinning the blame on Riyadh before knowing all the facts is yet another case of “guilty until proven innocent.”

Trump Tuesday criticized people blaming Saudi Arabia for the disappearance of the US-based journalist and accused them of prejudging the case.

“Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that,” Trump said during an interview with The Associated Press.

He likened the global outcry against the Saudi government to the controversy surrounding Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned,” Trump said. “So we have to find out what happened.”

Khashoggi disappeared on October 2 after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish authorities believe he was tortured and killed inside the building by a team of Saudi operatives who removed his dismembered body.

Earlier in the day, Trump wrote in tweets that he had spoken to the Saudi crown prince on the phone and that bin Salman had “denied any knowledge” of the fate of the missing Washington Post columnist.

He further noted that bin Salman agreed to “expand” an investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance and that “answers will be forthcoming shortly.”

Trump told AP that he hopes the Saudi investigation concludes in “less than a week.”

The tweets came as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was meeting with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and senior Saudi officials in Riyadh.

In this respect, the US State Department said Pompeo called for a “thorough, transparent and timely” investigation during the discussions.

The comments mark the second time in two days Trump has vouched for Saudi Arabia’s denials of knowledge about the fate of Khashoggi.

Speaking to reporters following a phone call with King Salman on Monday, Trump suggested that “rogue killers” may be responsible for whatever happened to Khashoggi.

But in an interview aired late on Tuesday on Fox Business channel, Trump said it would not bode well Saudi leadership if it is found they were involved in Khashoggi’s case.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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متى يتحرّر الإعلام العربي؟

أكتوبر 11, 2018

د. وفيق إبراهيم

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اختفاء الإعلامي جمال خاشقجي في قنصلية بلاده السعودية في تركيا، يفتح سؤالاً كبيراً عن الأسباب التي تمنع تطوّر إعلام عربي ينتقل من الاستسلام الكامل للرواية الرسمية الحتمية، إلى مستوى التعبير الصادق وربما النسبي عن التفاعلات السياسية والاجتماعية والاقتصادية.

فالتستر الإعلامي على الاختطاف السعودي للخاشقجي ليس الأول من نوعه ولن يكون الأخير.

إنَّ الميزة الأولى للإعلام العربي أنه خطابي يتصرف بالخبر حاملاً «أبوية السلطة على المجتمع»، ولا يعكس إلا وجهة نظرها متجاهلاًً كلّ ما يسيء اليها ومخترعاً قصصاً جديدة للتفسير، تستند الى مفهوم مصلحة الدولة بتنوّعاتها الملكية والأميركية أو الجمهورية، وفقاً لمفهوم السمع والطاعة وتزوير الحقائق وتجاهل الأحداث، وذلك لعدم وجود منافسات حقيقية على كسب الجمهور المنَوَّم.

في المقابل هناك إعلام غربي، متعدّد ومتصادم يقدم الأحداث وفق الخلفيات السياسية والاقتصادية التي يعمل لها، إنما بمهنية محترفة توحي وكأنه «حُرّ». أيّ أنه يترك مساحة مفتوحة لها وظيفة جذب «الزبون» من القراء والمشاهدين والمستمعين.. وبعد التمكّن منه، بهذه الوسيلة، يكون قد احتواه وأسره ضمن تسعين في المئة من مواده الإعلامية المليئة بالروايات الموالية لأصحاب التمويل السياسي والاقتصادي.

إنّ خصائص الإعلام الغربي التي تجعله ناجحاً تقوم على ثلاثة أسباب، السرعة في نقل الخبر وهذا مردّه إلى شبكات مراسلين ضخمة أو وجود أنظمة تعاون مدفوعة مع شبكات محلية، ضمن «دول الأحداث». أما الثاني فقدرته على تخصيص «مساحة حرية صغيرة» يقدّم فيها الرأي الآخر»، لكنه يتفنّن في عرض آراء مواكبة بوسعها زعزعته.

أما الميزة الثالثة فسببها أنّ الإعلام الغربي ينتمي إلى أنظمة سياسية واحدة، خصوصاً بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي 1989، تحتوي على أحزاب موالية وأخرى معارضة.. إنما من ضمن النسق السياسي الواحد.

والطرفان يمتلكان أو يهيمنان على وسائل إعلام ضخمة لها القدرة على تمويلها، وتجسِّد وجهتي نظرهما في داخل بلدانها أو إقليمها الغربي ـ الأوروبي ـ الأطلسي، وهناك وسائل متخصّصة للتأثير على الصين وروسيا واليابان والشرق الأوسط بشقيه الإسلامي والعربي.

وهكذا نجد أنواعاً من إعلام كوني غربي يتنافس على كسب أسواق السياسة والاقتصاد ويمثل موالاة أو معارضة، غربية تنتميان إلى الأنظمة السياسية نفسها ولا تخرجان عنها… أين الخلاف إذاً؟؟

يرتكز الخلاف بينهما على صراع مفتوح للسيطرة على أنظمة بلادهما وفقاً لصراعات حزبية داخلية هي مثلاً بين حزبي المحافظين والعمال في بريطانيا والجمهوريين والمحافظين في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية وبين التيارات المتأمركة في فرنسا وبقايا الديغولية وبين أحزاب اليمين والوسط واليسار في المانيا وهكذا دواليك.

هذه الآليات الحزبية تهيمن على إعلام معظمه كوني، يجسَّد وجود موالاة ومعارضة ضمن النسق السياسي الغربي الواحد. هذا إلى جانب وجود إعلام محلي أكثر تخصّصاً بالأوضاع الداخلية لهذه البلدان.

لقد أنتج هذا الوضع المرتكز على أسس محمية بالقوانين الغربية، أنتج مساحتين اثنتين للتعبير بحرية، إنما من ضمن «المصلحة البعيدة للمموِّل».

الأولى هي «المساحة التقنية» التي تستعملها وسائل الإعلام لجذب «الزبون» عبر تقنية الإكثار من «الرأي الآخر».

هناك مساحات حرية أكبر أيضاً، يستمدّها الإعلام من الصراع المفتوح بين الموالاة والمعارضة في أنظمة الغرب، وهي حريات تستند إلى حماية قانونية لا لِبسَ فيها، ما يسمح لهذا الإعلام بعرض قدراته الواسعة على عرض ما يريد، إنما يرتكز دائماً على احترافية عالية في نسف الرأي المضادّ بمهارة ومهنية، يرقى عمرها إلى ثلاثة قرون على الأقلّ.

هذه هي الأسباب التي تجعل «زبون الإعلام» منجذباً إليه في كلّ وقت، يصغي إلى نشرات أخباره وبرامجه باهتمام، وهو لا يعرف أنه تأثر بهذا المضمون من دون أن يدري.. وبما أنّ هذا الجذب الإعلامي متكرّر فإنه يعتمد على الإكثار من التكرار بلغة تسامحية وعقل علمي ضمن ما يشبه أسلوب السرد القصصي الموجز والجاذب.

ماذا عن الإعلام العربي؟ باستثناء لبنان حيث الحريات الإعلامية فيه تتموضع على الصراعات بين مذاهبه وطوائفه لتحسين أدوارها في السلطة وذلك عبر مسألتين: التحشيد الداخلي، وإنتاج رسالة إعلامية موالية للداعم الاقليمي والدولي.

باستثناء لبنان هذا، تسيطر على الإعلام العربي حالة من الهزال والضعف ونقص في الاحتراف على المستوى المهني، أما سياسياً، فنتيجة لعدم وجود معارضة ضمن النظام نفسه أو من خارجه، يعرض هذا الإعلام صورة خطابية نمطية تعيد فبركة الأحداث وبشكل بديهي على أساس مصلحة السلطة الداخلية السياسية، وتحالفاتها الدولية.

وبغياب المنافسة بين قوى سياسية داخلية، لا يعود الإعلام بحاجة إلى محترفين يتقنون فنون الخبر، ولا يهمّهم السرعة في عرضه.. فما هي إلا رسالة إعلامية عارضة لا تترك أثراً في متلقيها ولا يجد صانعها نفسه في وضع المضطر لإحداث معالجات عميقة لها.. وهكذا نجد إعلاماً عربياً منافقاً بعيداً عن مميّزات السرعة في إعلام العصر، وأساليب جذب الزبون، والصناعة الإعلامية البراقة.. هناك آليات بليدة ترسل أخباراً أشبه بخطابات عن أدوار بطولية لملوك وقادة ورؤساء يجري تقديهم على أساس انهم متمسكون بكلّ التفاعلات الداخلية والخارجية والحياة والموت.

إنّ غياب المعارضة حتى تلك المنتمية إلى الأنظمة السياسية نفسها، هي السبب في أزمة الإعلام العربي.. لأنها تلغي مساحات للحرية، فيصبح بموجبها خاشقجي رجلاً «مختلاً» انتحر واختطف نفسه او قتلته جهة معادية لآل سعود، كما تحوَّل حق قيادة المرأة للسيارة في السعودية أهمّ من الثورة الصناعية..

هناك مئات الأمثلة التي تثبت أنّ الإعلام العربي يشبه البلاغات التي كانت تعلقها الممالك القديمة في الساحات العامة.

لكن ما يؤسف له أنّ هذا الغرب الأميركي والأوروبي، يقف بتأييده وراء هذا التخلف الإعلامي العربي بشكل غير مباشر، لأنه يدعم الدكتاتوريات مُسهّلاً لها أمر القضاء على المعارضات. فهل يتطوّر الإعلام العربي؟ هذا الأمر مرتبط بتطوّر الأنظمة الاوتوقراطية ـ الديكتاتورية.

إنَّ مثيلاتها الغربية سقطت بثورات شعبية، فمتى تصل إلينا؟

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