Excerpts from President Donald Trump’s Statement on Standing with Saudi Arabia

November 28, 2018

Excerpts from President Donald Trump’s Statement on Standing with Saudi Arabia

by: Chris Faure for The Saker Blog

“The world is a very dangerous place!”

“The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more. Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” Iran is considered “the world’s leading sponsor of terror.”

The world is indeed a very dangerous place if the so-called leader of the free world and the West, without blushing, starts off a statement about the murder of a Saudi journalist by slamming Iran, Hezbollah, Bashar al-Assad and includes that propitious marketing statement … “and much more.” And when did Bashar al-Assad kill millions of his own citizens anyway?

As we read on, we will see that the opening statement to the Statement is an eye-blind, deliberate distraction, powered by oil price paranoia, and paranoia that this Statement would not do what it is intended to do – that is to obscure the absence of any kind of moral yardstick or ethical firmament. By opening with a litany of tired old phrases on Hezbollah, Iran “and much more”, it is hoped that the ‘official reality’ will hide the ‘actual reality’. These are Games that Zionists play. They are also Games that Kindergartners play: “It was not me, it was he! Really teacher, I’m not lying.”

The story itself reads like an international spook-spy crime novel. Alternatively, if you change the names of the countries for New York ‘burbs, it reads like a new Sicilian mob novel. But even the Sicilian mob had a code of honor, something that is completely absent in this Statement.

The journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, contributed to the Washington Post and lived in Virginia. His slaying took place in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2nd, 2018, by a 15 man Saudi hit team where the Turkish State had surreptitiously bugged the Saudi embassy and the listening and recording equipment in the Saudi embassy recorded blow by blow the Saudi hit team carrying out the beating, killing and dismemberment. Perhaps the dismemberment preceded the killing. Since then, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey, has salaciously revealed the details of this brutal slaying, drip by drop to the world, seeking any favor and any edge concession somewhere in the international arena, with his recording of flaming and violent evidence. Eventually, this murder recording reached Mr. Donald Trump, who of course, is best friends with The House of Saud.

Sidebar: With a little research into Who is Jamal Khashoggi?, we find that he is a cousin of Adnan Khashoggi, his uncle, a Saudi super-rich businessman. Those who read Trump’s The Art of the Deal, will remember that Trump and Adnan Khashoggi visited together during the ’80s. For purposes of this article we will not dwell on this here, but leave this to you. Jake Morphonios starts this research on his video from time marker 44:00. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrsgNZaUuvY

There is ample proof (substantially more than highly likely) that MbS (Mohammad bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi and better known as Clown Prince) directly orchestrated this murder. The hit squad hailed from MbS’s private office chief, Bader Al Asaker. The CIA stated that MbS was directly involved but subsequently Mr Trump denied that the CIA had stated this.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch in Ankara or Istanbul, seemingly Mr Edogan kept little piece of the CIA story back, as a bargaining chip of some sort.  “The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is in possession of a phone call recording of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in which he is heard giving an instruction to “silence Jamal Khashoggi as soon as possible,” Hürriyet columnist Abdulkadir Selvi wrote on Nov. 22.  http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/cia-holds-smoking-gun-phone-call-of-saudi-crown-prince-on-khashoggi-murder-columnist-139079

Let’s continue.

“The world is a very dangerous place!”

“On the other hand, Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. They would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has agreed to spend billions of dollars in leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism.”

One cannot make this up: Post moral rationalization reads like satire. The world is truly a very dangerous place if Wahhabi Saudi is presented as humanitarian and the war in Yemen as an Iranian supported war. The concept that the (out)House of Saud would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance to Yemen beggars belief. It does make sense however if one considers or accepts the perspective that Mukhtar (appointed headman and tax farmer) Donald Trump swore allegiance to his Saudi Buddies in Riyadh in full vision of the world in a strange testosterone-filled ceremony involving laying communal hands on a lighted sphere and dancing.  The Saudis could have made the promise to Mr. Trump that they will surely and quickly become humanitarian in Yemen, so that he could get on with it and write his Statement that is clearly sans honor and devoid of ethics.

Descriptions: (Out)House of Saud attributed to Dr. Joseph P. Farrell – Mukhtar (appointed headman and tax farmer) attributed to Patrick Lang.

“The world is a very dangerous place!”

“After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and many other great U.S. defense contractors. 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! “

So, now we get to the crux of the matter of the Statement. The world is surely a very dangerous place if it is so clear that it is money that talks and the Saudis can kill whomever the Saudis want to kill, but we all know the show must go on. In this instance, the show is the signed defense contracts and the oil price.  So, to be forgiven and exonerated of brutal murder, the new legal standard set by Mr. Trump is that one only needs to keep the oil flowing and promise to buy US weaponry and perhaps promise to be nice, in Yemen.

But if your name is Julian Assange, or Edward Snowden, or Jack who lives down the road, and you don’t have oil, and you don’t sign defense contracts and you cannot promise to change your essential nature and to be nice in Yemen, the rules change of course. But for the Saudis, we are now outside of any pretense of the Rule of Law.

In one fell swoop, it is clear that we are in a post-honor and post-ethics world, and we even see an evil note surface if a base commandment, Though Shalt Not Kill, can easily be superseded by oil and military contracts. The Middle East Eye reports that the man built from cards, Pompeo, handed Riyadh a plan to shield MbS from Khashoggi fallout

“The world is a very dangerous place!”

“The crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one and one that our country does not condone. Indeed, we have taken strong action against those already known to have participated in the murder. After great independent research, we now know many details of this horrible crime. We have already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the disposal of his body. “

What? How dangerous is the world now if murder is sanctioned by sanctions, not by a court of law, but by a President of the United States who has now turned over all pretense at investigation, due process, all semblance of an independent judiciary, and all pretense of the rule of law. Great Independent Research? Was this also around a lighted sphere with much dancing? For the record, Mr. Trump has now ignored all of his specialist agencies in favor of Great Independent Research, not documented and probably fact-free.

The world is getting more dangerous by the minute as this story unfolds.

“The world is a very dangerous place!”

“Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. 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!”

The World is a very dangerous place if it does not matter if the Clown prince had prior knowledge of this brutal murder being planned and executed. No way José, that is not important. Oil is important, and weapons contracts are important. But, wait a minute, why all these weapons? Was Saudi not intending to wrap the Yemenis in their loving arms and become humanitarian?  I was already expecting flowers in the rifle barrels.

“The world is a very dangerous place!”

“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. “

We have to stop right here. This is an inept and unacceptable effort to remove this beating, murder, and dismemberment from the sphere of affairs of the State, and State to State interaction. But wait a minute, did this murder not take place in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul? How much more ‘affairs of the State’ can one get? It is gauche attempt at separating affairs of state, and it fails to convince.

Can anyone imagine the fall-out if this was not Saudi Arabia, but Russia?  Can you imagine the fall-out?

“They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. 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. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world! I understand there are members of Congress who, for political or other reasons, would like to go in a different direction – and they are free to do so. I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me, but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America. After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels – so important for the world.”

And this statement could not be complete without mentioning Israel, could it? Following is the complete exoneration and pardon for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia because they bow to the dictat of the lighted sphere and the demands of a capricious US President for low oil prices who rewrites common criminal law on the turn.  Are we now officially in LaLaLand?

“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!”

Let us rewrite that last sentence with our brand-new knowledge from Mr.Trump’s Statement:  Very simply it is called America First and we will say what is right and what is wrong and do whatever we please about it.

Losing all decorum, Tulsi Gabbard made a quick tweet: Hey @realdonaldtrump: being Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not “America First.” — Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) November 21, 2018

‘A pile of lies, BS and nonsense’ says Thomas Juneau of the University of Ottawa.

So, what do we have?  Mr. Trump with this one statement sold off every principle of decency down the oil river. He usurped the task of an independent judiciary, sidelined his 17 or so spy organizations in favor of ‘independent research’ which he does not even present because it does not matter who is guilty or not. This is of course in order to keep the oil wheels of empire humming, but there is no moral guideline here if America First can be supported by any little dismemberment and murder anywhere. This makes a mockery of America First.  He sold out every honest person everywhere and may have put a final nail in the US constitution. He ignored all ethical considerations and trampled over what is right, what is lawful and the simple but clear Christian commandment: “Thou Shalt not Kill.” Every decent human value is now dependent on the oil price and military contracts. Mr. Trump continued after this Statement to congratulate the (out)House of Saud for pumping oil to lower the oil price.

Mr. Trump gave, with this one statement, the word ‘deplorable’ its proper meaning (and using her word, does not imply any support for Killary Clinton whatsoever). Even the Leaning Tower of Piza is now more morally upright.

We find ourselves in a post-constitutional, post-truth, post-ethics, post-basic-rule-of-law and post-honor world. If we do not have values, we are in the milieu of evil.  There are no good actors or heroes or Captains of freedom and democracy or decency in this story.

Mr. Trump’s world is indeed a very dangerous world, and the empire is on the brink of collapse because of internal divisions and under the leadership of a minion with no ethics. With this Statement we see that the minion is equally compromised by his relationship with Israel, as with Saudi Arabia. An empire with no values run by dictat is indeed incredibly dangerous. I trust that the rest of the world will know clearly now that values based interaction with Mr. Trump is meaningless as it is clearly demonstrated that he will justify killing anyone or dispensing with anything for dreams of a ’50’s style US spiced up with a bit of space warfare and a wall.  His quagmire has deepened, the level of respect for him has lessened once again, and he will be laughed out of the UN again and again.   His own swamp is now visible and laid bare.  The tragedy is that he is right.  From his lofty heights, it is only business.

For making that so crystal clear, we thank Mr Trump. For those that still don’t get it, this illustration serves to explain.

 

Chris Faure comments on life, geo-politics and economics.  (Marry me!  I can cook!).

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Khashoggi, Ben Barka & PressTV’s Serena Shim: A 4-part series

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

November 11, 2018

In October of 1965, 2014 and 2018 three journalists were prominently assassinated: Mehdi Ben Barka, Serena Shim and Jamal Khashoggi. Most readers likely don’t know the first two, while the entire world seems to know about the last one.

This is a 4-part series which explains what Jamal Khashoggi represented ideologically, the relevance of his ideology in the modern Islamic World, the perhaps-unexpected similarity of his ideology with the Western World, and why – even more unexpectedly – the world is still talking about Khashoggi six weeks after his death.

Why do so few remember Mehdi Ben Barka or care about Serena Shim even though they did far more for the People than Khashoggi ever did?

There is a quick answer to this question: Khashoggi remains in the spotlight because the House of Saud killed a Western journalist.

The location and details, or Khashoggi’s birthplace and background, are totally subservient to the fact that he worked for a top Western media and that he was blindly and foolishly loyal to their ideology. A Western journalist cannot be killed without media campaigns and even serious bilateral repercussions, but Khashoggi was no regular freelancer – he was a prominent editorialist at the United States’ 2nd-most important newspaper, the neoconservative The Washington Post.

Anyone familiar with American media knows that The New York Times and The Washington Post essentially set the agenda of discussion in the country. All of America’s other media – with such dwindled newsrooms and so much free, terrible content – have their low-wage 20-somethings essentially re-report what these two media put on their front pages. Television news, even at the very top channels, often starts with “The Washington Post reported that….”

So, forget everything else: kill a member of The Washington Post and it is certain to be huge news for a long time…because they will ensure that it stays in the national headlines.

Given that the US runs the Anglophone world, and add in that other Western nations (such as France) are constantly paying more attention to the US than their own backyards, and this all explains why the world is still talking about Khashoggi – if you think that the US isn’t the primary decider of what’s on the average screen, think again.

Why not Shim and Ben Barka? They believed in and reported from the ‘wrong’ view – class

However, kill a journalist who doesn’t work for the US and their interests and the Western media says,

“Who cares?”

That was the case with PressTV’s Serena Shim in 2014. She was born and raised in the US, half-Lebanese, a mother of two, and was doing ground-breaking, extremely brave reporting about Turkey’s collusion with Western NGOs to get terrorists across their border to Syria. She reported on PressTV about being threatened with assassination by the Turkish secret service two days before her suspicious death, and the West said…essentially nothing. Not their media, nor even the US government, even though Shim was a lifelong American citizen.

Or what about Morocco’s Mehdi Ben Barka? It’s no exaggeration to say that he was the most widely influential Muslim thinker and activist of the 1950s and 1960s. Ben Barka was the organiser of the Tricontinental Conference in Havana, an update of the famed Bandung Conference, and the last great gathering of international leftism. We are in desperate need of another anti-imperialist conference, and another Ben Barka: he was the man who truly did bridge the gap between African, Asian and Latin American leftists, but he also could have done the same for the Muslim and European worlds. Just as East Asia had China, and then Korea, and then Vietnam, Ben Barka would have taken what happened in Algeria to Morocco – one of the few fundamentally key Muslim nations, historically – but he was abducted off Paris streets just before the start of the Tricontinental. Who killed him, why won’t France open up their archives, what is his legacy, why doesn’t Western media do more reports on the annual October demonstrations in Paris (and who is wiping my annual reports from Google and YouTube?!) to keep his flame alive in the public mind? To all that the West says…nothing.

Both Shim and Ben Barka combine to disprove many unstated claims of the West: that they care about all journalists equally, that they care about Western journalists regardless of their political persuasion, that their presses are free, and that their leadership respects a free press more than in other nations.

Ben Barka was the son of the policeman and a math teacher before he got involved in politics. Serena Shim had chosen a career in journalism, but hardly a ladder-climbing one – working for Iranian government media would only land you a job in a top Western media if you then turned around and denounced Iran.

Khashoggi came from a totally different background: his grandfather made his family billionaires via the connections provided by his job – doctor to the king. Those billions helped future family members become prominent artists, journalists and intellectuals by purchasing gallery space, column space and bookshelf space. Jamal truly grew up among the political and cultural elite of Saudi life.

Khashoggi graduated from (the hardly prestigious, given his wealth and connections) Indiana State University, and did not even get trained as a journalist but got a degree in business administration. It is being widely misreported, even by places like Al-Jazeera, that he studied journalism, but Indiana State doesn’t even have a journalism program (top-notch work there, guys – score one for PressTV). “Business administration” says a lot about his intellectual orientation and his plans as a young man (to manage his millions).

But Khashoggi was so elite that he just had to ask to become king of the Saudi journalism sphere – he procured not one but two appointments to the newspaper Al Watan. After all, he had access to all the Saudis movers and shakers, was extremely close with Osama Bin Laden and was a high-level official at Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Washington for two years.

All this explains why reading Khashoggi is to read a guy who essentially says, “What I’m writing here is going to be made into public policy” – and he means it and is right! For a journalist – who could ask for more? Contrarily, Ben Barka was hounded out of Morocco and nobody picked up on Shim’s reporting that UN World Food Organisation trucks headed for Syria were filled with people who looked and dressed like Takfiri terrorists.

Despite his influence and responsibility, Khashoggi’s journalism did not attempt to voice the needs of the People of Saudi Arabia. In his journalism he admitted his social station divorced him from their common experience. What is far worse is that after such admissions he simply dropped the subject – he never questioned his privilege nor the system that maintained it.

Even more so than a guy like The New York Times’ unbearable Thomas L. Friedman, who married into billions and is similarly influential in shaping policy discussions in the US, Khashoggi’s writing combines an aristocrat’s air of unquestionable authority with the certainty that the sun could never and should never set on his totally unmerited entitlements.

Khashoggi is being portrayed as some sort of dissident, but it’s absolutely not the case: he spilled tankers of ink showing that he was 100% supportive of the Saudi (monarchical, and thus anti-democratic) system – the only question was “which monarch”? He ran afoul of the wrong one, but his proffered solution was only another monarch, and one who could have just as easily vivisected him in a Turkish embassy.

Just ask his kids – his sons recently told CNN“Jamal was never a dissident. He believed in the monarchy that it is the thing that is keeping the country together.”

Like all far-right proponents – not just monarchists – Khashoggi’s proffered solutions only suggested looking backward and deeper into his own tiny tribe – the 1% of Saudi Arabia. But Arabia is not all Saudi…and that is what Khashoggi’s journalism explicitly fought against – reflecting the democratic will of the Arabian Peninsula.

The outrage in the West should be over their support for such an elitist, out-of-touch, anti-democratic reactionary…and yet HE is now the poster child for freedom of the press?

No. We have Serena Shim – too many Serena Shims – for that. We will have more Serena Shims.

I regret that even this series talks about Khashoggi and not Shim and Ben Barka from this point forward, because they certainly deserve it, and because the Mainstream Media never does that. They were the dissidents, the real reformers, the true martyrs.

Jamal Khashoggi was not a victim but a willing, favoured participant in a system of exploitation and repression which he desperately wanted to uphold – read some Khashoggi and that will be clear. So why does the West support such a person?

Khashoggi: Cultural colonist extraordinaire, but the Muslim World doesn’t want more Westernization

Khashoggi obviously represented something which The Post wanted to promote. That is hardly an epiphany, but Khashoggi gives us a chance to examine exactly what that was on an ideological level. Such understanding will grant us better understanding of Western policy and political culture; it also allows us to fully compare “Khashoggi-Thought” with the ideologies of previous decades and centuries, and also with other ideologies available and being promoted in 2018.

Certainly, these intellectual currents are what are the most important to grasp when discussing Khashoggi. The media prefers to focus on that which is not relevant to our daily lives and struggles – the sensational and gruesome details of the killing, and the soap opera of the House of Saud’s latest, never-ending, internecine power struggles.

It is very telling that there has been essentially no discussion of Khashoggi’s actual ideas, writings and morals. The unsaid implication in the West, then, is that he was “one of us” – i.e. he thought like a Westerner and supported Westernization.

And he certainly bent over backwards to show them how much he wanted Saudi Arabia to exactly emulate the West. Khashoggi only wrote about 20 columns for The Washington Post and three of them were literally titled, “What Saudi Arabia could learn from…”, concluded by “Queen Elizabeth II”, “South Korea”, and even the Hollywood movie the “Black Panther”. A fourth carried the same message: “Why Saudi Arabia’s crown prince should visit Detroit”. Not only is that lazy and unoriginal headline writing, but it’s basically advertising (for Westernization) instead of journalism.

In his work at Al-Arabiya (the Saudi answer to Al-Jazeera) which published his columns from 2012-16, the publication most often cited by Khashoggi seems to be The Economist, capitalist newsmagazine nonpareil.

The West is mourning Khashoggi because they knew what they had: a Westerner in sheik’s clothing.

But what did Jamal Khashoggi really believe, this journalist for whom we are spending so much time, energy and consideration, for whom column inches are devoted to instead of Shim and Ben Barka? Illuminating these great unsaids is the goal of this series, which analyzes and quotes from Khashoggi’s writings at The Washington Post and Al-Arabiya.

And here is the quick upshot: Khashoggi ticked the three main ideological boxes a Saudi Arabian (or any Muslim) needs in order to win a prominent place in Western media:

Firstly, he despised Iran, by far the Muslim country which has most successfully rebelled against the West’s dictates, and was also an anti-Shia sectarian of the highest and most disgusting order.

Secondly, he was the foremost promoter of what I accurately term “Liberal Democratic Salafism”. That’s an incredibly stupid ideology which combines 1%-focused West European/bourgeois democracy with (Islamic) monarchism, but that’s exactly what he promoted. For this he was hailed as a “reformer” because…the West is full of monarchy-loving, backwards-looking Liberal Democratic Salafists whose only difference is that their Salafism is of the Christian variety.

Thirdly and lastly, “Liberal Democratic Salafism” combined with neoliberal capitalism is what made Khashoggi the prototypical fake-leftist of the monarchical Muslim World. Western 1%ers adored Khashoggi because the extremely limited and bourgeois changes he advocated would inevitably lead to mass privatization, thus giving Western high finance control over the single most powerful economic tool in the world today – Saudi oil. Handing over your country to such interests in the name of “reform” is obviously catastrophic, anti-socialist, unpatriotic, and fake-leftism.

Why care about Khashoggi at all? It’s no revelation to find out that he was a reactionary tool of the West, but how many people appreciate that “reactionary” in the Western and Islamic Worlds are not worlds apart, but fundamentally identical?

Clarifying what Khashoggi truly represented allows us to identify, call attention to, and fight against these reactionary forces, and also to appreciate the truly modern, cooperative, socialist-inspired world that Mehdi Ben Barka, Serena Shim and countless unheralded others have worked and died for.

***********************************

This is the 1st article in a 4-part series which examines Jamal Khashoggi’s ideology and how it relates to the Islamic World, Westernization and Socialism. Here is the list of articles slated to be published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Khashoggi, Ben Barka & PressTV’s Serena Shim: A 4-part series

Khashoggi Part 2: A ‘reformer’…who was also a hysterical anti-Iran warmonger?

Khashoggi Part 3: ‘Liberal Democratic Salafism’ is a sham, ‘Islamic Socialism’ isn’t

Khashoggi Part 4: fake-leftism identical in Saudi Arabian or Western form

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

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Can Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Survive the Khashoggi Murder? WP: Saudi Arabia Admits Khashoggi’s Murder Was Premeditated. Fine. Who Premeditated It?

Can Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Survive the Khashoggi Murder?

Robin Wright

Modern Saudi Arabia has only twice witnessed the ouster of its king. King Saud, the son and first successor of the country’s founder, was forced out peacefully, in 1964, but his departure was six years in the making. King Faisal, who orchestrated the coup against Saud and succeeded him, was assassinated eleven years later, by a nephew. (Three months later, the nephew was beheaded, by a sword with a golden hilt, as a crowd shouted, “God is great.”) Both upheavals linger in the public memory as questions grow about Saudi Arabia’s current de-facto leader and crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and his role in the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Several of the henchmen involved in the murder of the Washington Post columnist, which took place at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, were part of Prince Mohammed’s inner circle or security entourage. MBS, as the prince is widely known, has been widely implicated, directly or indirectly.

“Yes, I think he did it,” Senator Bob Corker, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN. On Tuesday, the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, charged that some of the “highest ranking” Saudi officials were involved in the killing. “From the person who gave the order to the person who carried it out, they must all be brought to account,” he told the Turkish parliament. Finally, on Thursday—after two weeks of claiming that the Saudi journalist had exited the consulate alive, and then claiming that he had been accidentally murdered in a “rogue” rendition—Saudi officials reversed course yet again and conceded that “new information” gleaned in a joint investigation with Turkey had confirmed that the murder was, indeed, premeditated.

The crown prince appears to be aware of the dangers ahead. He also already appears to be gaming his political rehabilitation, both at home and in the eyes of the outside world. His first public comment on Khashoggi’s murder was, notably, at the “Davos in the Desert” conference designed to lure foreign investment to pay for his own ambitious Vision 2030 economic plan. With his red-checkered kaffiyeh draped over the front of his pristine white robe, MBS finally broke his three-week silence on the murder of his fellow-Saudi. “The incident was really painful to all Saudis. I believe it is painful to every human in the world,” he said, on Wednesday. “It is a heinous crime that cannot be justified.”

Prince Mohammed’s first comment—and the recent arrest of eighteen Saudis—will clearly not be enough, especially for the international community. On Thursday, the European Union’s parliament voted, 325–1, to ban all arms exports “of surveillance systems and other dual-use items that may be used in Saudi Arabia for the purposes of repression.” In Washington, both Republicans and Democrats have advocated limits on arms exports, particularly for use in Saudi Arabia’s three-year war in Yemen.

There are at least four potential scenarios for how all this will play out for MBS, Saudis and Middle East experts contend. The first centers on the royal family’s response. In 1975, after King Faisal’s murder, the then governor of Riyadh, Prince Salman, was reportedly the only royal in a crowd of some ten thousand to witness the execution of the young assassin. (The assassin’s head was displayed on a stake for a time, before being removed for burial, the Times reported.) That same Salman is now king; MBS is his son and political heir.

One scenario is that the international furor eventually settles down and MBS remains the crown prince and retains his hold on the country’s future. “People who think there’s going to be any change in the succession are wrong,” Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former chief of Saudi intelligence and a former ambassador to the United States, told David Ignatius of the Washington Post this week. “The more [foreign] criticism there is of the crown prince, the more popular he is in the kingdom.”

Before the murder, MBS seemed widely popular among young Saudis, because he provided release valves in the kingdom’s rigid social mores—opening movie theatres, allowing women to drive, and reining in the morality police. Opposition often played out over human rights or on sectarian grounds, fueled by the isolation and repression of the minority Shiite population. Judging public sentiment in Saudi Arabia is difficult, however, as it is one of the most impenetrable societies on earth and has no independent public polling.

A second scenario is that MBS is replaced as crown prince. There is precedent for this. Since King Salman came to power, three years ago, he has twice dismissed a crown prince: Prince Muqrin, one of the last of the generation sired by the kingdom’s founder, was pushed aside in 2015. Prince Nayef, the former Minister of the Interior and a close US ally on counterterrorism, was forced out in 2017—to make space for MBS Nayef is still under virtual house arrest.

“A lot of senior princes are whispering in the king’s ear that it’s time for MBS to be moved aside and another son of the king or another member of the family to be put in his place,” Bruce Riedel, a former senior US intelligence official, said at a Wilson Center event on Wednesday. “They have to be aware that MBS is the greater danger to the kingdom today.”

The crown prince’s ouster is perhaps possible, but it’s not yet probable. It would take a decision by the king to turn against his favorite son. And, as Senator Corker told CNN, King Salman “is not particularly coherent.” The king is now in his early eighties and has purportedly been ailing in the last few years, possibly with a mild form of dementia. That is one reason that MBS has been able to swiftly consolidate all the wings of political, military, and economic power under his own office.

More basically, there is no sign yet of a coalition within the royal family to block MBS’s ascension to the throne. Gregory Gause, a Saudi expert at the Bush School of Government, at Texas A. & M., told me, “I haven’t seen any public evidence—as in the past incidents—of an intra-family dispute. Although many don’t like him, they don’t have the ability to get together to stop him.”

The House of Saud today is also vastly larger than it was during its first two painful transitions of power, decades ago. The royal family is sprawling. Ibn Saud, the founder, had more than forty sons and even more daughters. Saud, his son, had more than a hundred children. The family now has thousands of members. Partly because of its size—and the imminent transition from the first generation of brothers to some of their sons—the late King Abdullah announced, in 2006, the creation of an Allegiance Council. It currently includes only thirty-five senior princes. The king alone used to name his crown prince. Now the council is empowered to vote on his candidate. Few on the Allegiance Council opted to vote against MBS when he was appointed, last year. Royals have grumbled to me in the past over MBS’s increasingly repressive ways, but few have been willing to challenge him as he has consolidated power. Few Saudis dare to publicly challenge the powerful crown prince for fear of retribution. “Most of the public who are not happy with MBS are happy with the pressure on him from outside the country,” a Saudi academic, who asked not to be identified because he has family in the kingdom, told me. “They don’t want to become a victim by going public and facing a crackdown.” Chaos in other parts of the Middle East—in Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Iraq—has also been a reality check on the public thinking. “Someone from outside the system could make it collapse, and they don’t want to see instability like elsewhere in the region,” he told me.

The third scenario is that MBS’s hold on power is weakened, possibly by having other princes appointed to take over some of his current positions. “We might see his wings clipped,” Gause told me. “Perhaps the appointment of some senior people in new positions—Khalid al Faisal as foreign minister?—to act as guard rails on foreign policy, so he cannot act unilaterally. But things are very fluid.” he Saudi academic added, “MBS will have to bow down, to compromise. He can’t rule like he did a month ago.”

The crown prince may also not be able to ascend to the throne as fast as he hoped. For months, there has been speculation in the region and in Washington that MBS was jockeying for his father to step aside as king and become regent, citing ill health. MBS would then ascend to the throne while his father was still alive. That would make it harder for any opposition within the royal family to emerge, as it might after the king’s death. “Khashoggi’s death makes that scenario less likely,” Gause said. “MBS needs the cover of his father until this dies down.”

The fourth scenario is what happened to Faisal—someone targets him physically. It seems, by far, the least likely. Whatever happens to MBS will have sweeping consequences. It could shape the future of the desert kingdom for many decades; he is only thirty-three. It will influence the immediate Gulf region, notably Saudi Arabia’s open-ended war in Yemen on its southern border (launched in 2015) and its blockade of Qatar to the east (started in 2017). Each was a brainchild of the crown prince. His fate will play out in the wider Middle East, too, given Prince Mohammed’s heavy-handed foreign policy in Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria. And it will have a rippling impact worldwide, given that Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter and the largest reservoir for future oil supplies. Dozens of countries depend on it for energy and fuel. The impact of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder is only beginning to be felt.

Source: The New Yorker, Edited by website team

 

WP: Saudi Arabia Admits Khashoggi’s Murder Was Premeditated. Fine. Who Premeditated It?

The Washington Post Editorial Board

Saudi Arabia once again changed its story about Jamal Khashoggi, admitting on Thursday he was the victim of a premeditated murder and not, as it said less than a week earlier, the accidental casualty of a “brawl.” But that doesn’t mean the regime of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has finally chosen to come clean about the Oct. 2 death of the Post contributing columnist.

Rather, it merely reflects Saudi acceptance of the reality that the previous official version, like the one before it and the one before that, wouldn’t fly with the Turkish president, the US Congress, European governments and possibly even the Trump administration, which has been doing its best to assist the damage control operation in Riyadh. For 17 days, let’s not forget, the Saudi government insisted it knew for a fact that Mr. Khashoggi had walked out of the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul shortly after arriving. While the new story is closer to the truth, it still leaves fundamental questions unanswered: Who ordered the hit on the journalist, and what role did Mohammed bin Salman play?

The crown prince’s fingerprints are all over the available public evidence. Five probable members of his personal security detail have been identified among the 15-member team that reportedly traveled to Istanbul to assault Mr. Khashoggi inside the consulate. Two of the crown prince’s closest aides, including the keeper of his enemies list and the deputy chief of Saudi intelligence, are among the officials whose firings were announced last week. US intelligence intercepts show that Mohammed bin Salman was intent on silencing Mr. Khashoggi, who frequently, if gently, criticized him, by bringing the journalist back to the kingdom.

How that impulse evolved into a murder plot isn’t likely to be disclosed in the absence of an independent international investigation. The Saudi regime remains intent on protecting the crown prince, who cynically gave a speech on Wednesday calling the murder a “heinous crime,” after staging a cruel and creepy photo op in which he offered condolences to one of Mr. Khashoggi’s sons. In adopting the phrase premeditated murder, Riyadh merely conformed with the public demand of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the hope he will respond by suppressing some of the evidence he controls. That evidence reportedly includes an audiotape on which can be heard Mr. Khashoggi’s torture, murder and dismemberment.

CIA Director Gina Haspel, who visited Istanbul this week, has heard that audiotape, according to The Post’s reporting. Yet the Trump administration has failed to offer its own conclusions about what happened to Mr. Khashoggi, who was a resident of Virginia with three US citizen children. Instead it is doing its best to protect its excessive and unwise investment in Mohammed bin Salman as a Middle Eastern ally. Asked if he believed the 33-year-old crown prince’s denials of involvement, President Trump told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that “I want to believe him. I really want to believe him.”

What Mr. Trump should really want is the truth. If Mohammed bin Salman in fact oversaw or sanctioned the brutal butchering of a journalist who was little more than a mild critic, the administration urgently needs to alter its relationship with him — or risk even worse disasters.

Source: WP, Edited by website team

 

The Saudi Regime Doesn’t Reign Alone – A Global Network Enables It

Nesrine Malik

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, so it takes a network of enablers to empower a tyrant. While domestically the Saudi government’s capital is fear, abroad it’s cash and the influence it brings. Not content with Khashoggi’s murder, Mohammed bin Salman dragged one of the journalist’s sons before the cameras to set up some good optics for the royal family. With new details of his father’s brutal death and dismemberment reaching his ears daily, it is hard to imagine what kind of pressure, what kind of threat, compelled him to shake the hands of his father’s murderers.

But over the last three weeks, it is not just Bin Salman’s ruthlessness that has come fully to light – it is also his extended lattice of external courtesans, who have lobbied for him, polished his image, turned in thought criminals and covered his tracks.

There are the lobbyists who slickly blend in to spheres of influence, working for neutral-sounding “think-tanks”, where they are “fellows” and “researchers”. One of their most dedicated, who has, even in the mire of recent events, managed to find something for which to praise the Saudi royal family, is Ali Shihabi. An ex-banker and novelist, he heads the Arabia Foundation, a think-tank that is basically a lobby group that promotes brand Saudi in the United States. Shihabi thinks prison in Saudi Arabia is “quite benign” compared to the “dungeons of the Middle East”, and that MBS has “balls”, but is still young and needs guidance.

There are the public relations companies that prepare press releases, place advertising and work hand in glove with the lobbyists, offering them up for interviews and panel discussions. Four years ago, a London-based PR company approached me with an offer of access to Saudi interviewees on the back of a Saudi campaign to window-dress its human rights record. They offered up a Saudi minister and Dr. Abdulaziz Sager, “chair of the Gulf Research Center, an independent think-tank ranked second in the Middle East by the Global Go-to-Think Tanks Index Report”, and a “member on the advisory board of the Arab Thought Foundation”. The Guardian did, in the end, publish my opinion on the effort, which called it a rebrand that “is fooling no one”. This paper did not take up the offers to interview the Saudi representatives, but for the rest of that week they were on BBC Newsnight and CNN’s Amanpour.

Then there are the management consultants who prepare what appear to be anodyne reports, which are in fact used to silence dissent. Last week the New York Times reported that McKinsey had conducted a survey for the Saudi government that identified negative responses to its economic policies on social media. Some of those critics identified were then arrested. McKinsey is, of course, “horrified”, unable to believe or anticipate that a report commissioned by a regime with a poor human rights record requesting that social media be searched for government criticism could be misused in any way.

Last but not least, there are the “thought leaders”. Some, such as the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, have a talent for being consistently proved wrong by history, yet still plough on with no reflection or apology. He claimed MBS was leading an Arab spring “from the top down”, and that the crown prince is someone who has “the balls” [this, for some reason, is a recurring theme among MBS cheerleaders]. Friedman’s reward is access, a seat at the royal table, a position as courtly advisor to a well-intentioned but young and impressionable prince – an influencer of policy and events, a savior of the Arab world. Daniel Drezner, author of The Ideas Industry, observes that journalists such as Friedman are little more than stenographers. “It is flattering” to Friedman that “as a mere scribbler, a world leader is devoting time and attention to what you think. The desire to cultivate a new connection can lead one to transcribe more than analyze.”

It’s not only political impunity that empowers a regime like the Saudi one: it is also the knowledge that any crime can be covered up if enough money is thrown at it.

Is it any wonder, then, that the whole Khashoggi operation was conducted with such staggering incompetence? A macabre Four Lions crew of assassins used their real names and passports, left a CCTV trail across the city, and tried to use a body double with a fake beard and the wrong shoes. To become accustomed to a world where no action begets consequence, where the Saudi royal family is not only a sovereign at home but a sort of super-sovereign globally, is to become lazy. If there is nothing that cannot be purchased, via arms deals, lucrative lobbying and PR contracts and hefty investments in private businesses, there will inevitably come a point when even a human life has a price.

Source: The Guardian, Edited by website team

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Saudi Media Calls Khashoggi Disappearance ‘Conspiracy’

Jamal Khashoggi

 October 14, 2018

Government-backed Saudi Arabian media outlets are trying to portray the disappearance of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi as a “conspiracy” targeting the kingdom.

Commenting on Khashoggi’s vanishing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, the Al Arabiya news channel said claims of his detention inside the facility had been pushed by “media outlets affiliated with the outlawed [pan-Arab opposition party] Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar.”

Another story on Al Arabiya cast doubt on the identity of Khashoggi’s fiancée, who was waiting outside the consulate at the time. It asked whether Hatice Cengiz was truly the person she said she was, claiming that her Twitter profile showed she had followed “critics of Saudi Arabia.”

A column in the Saudi daily Okaz argued that Khashoggi had been advancing the interests of Qatar. The column went on to claim that Qatar had a “50 percent ownership of The [Washington] Post and has influence over its editorial direction.”

Saudi Arabia and its allies broke off diplomatic ties with Qatar last year. The Saudi media has been leading a smear campaign against the emirate since the diplomatic crisis broke out.

The Post, where the Saudi journalist would maintain a column, is privately owned by American billionaire Jeff Bezos.

Another Okaz piece claimed in an item titled, “Who Liberated Khashoggi?” that the critic was a “terrorist sympathizer,” whose sectarian goals were designed to destabilize the Saudi government.

The feature suggested that Khashoggi’s disappearance equaled “liberation,” since he had been “kidnapped” by “extremist groups” while living abroad in self-imposed exile.

The Saudi Gazette wrote that any fears about Khashoggi’s disappearance had to be blamed on Qatar, not Saudi Arabia.

CCTV footage has shown entry into the consulate in Istanbul by 15 Saudis on the same day of Khashoggi’s disappearance.

The Post reported earlier this week that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had personally ordered an “operation” against critic, which would see him lured back to the kingdom and arrested.

The Kingdom of Blood: Khashoggi Is Not the First

Designed by: Abeer Mrad

The Kingdom of Blood: Khashoggi Is Not the First

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Turkey Tells US They Have Video That Proves Khashoggi Was Killed

Local Editor

The Turkish government has informed US officials it has audio and video recordings that prove that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, according to a report by the Washington Post.

The video and audio recording reportedly show that Saudi Consulate security team detained Jamal Khashoggi after he entered the building on October 2 to obtain some documents for his upcoming wedding, and then killed him and dismembered his body.

According to US and Turkish officials cited by the Washington Post, the audio recordings in particular provide “persuasive and gruesome” evidence that the Saudi security is responsible for the journalist’s death.

“The voice recording from inside the embassy lays out what happened to Jamal after he entered,” said one source with knowledge of the recording.

“You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic,” the source added. “You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.”

The other person quoted by Washington Post says the recording proves Khashoggi was beaten by the Saudis.

The existence of these recordings explain why Turkish officials were so fast to accuse Saudis of killing the journalists, the newspaper reads. However, Ankara is reluctant to release these recordings as it would reveal the ways Turkish intelligence spies upon foreign nations on its soil, the source said.

Jamal Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post, known for his criticism of Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed, has been missing since October 2 after allegedly visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to acquire documentation for his upcoming marriage. The Saudis denied allegations that the journalist has been captured or murdered and insisted he left the building later the same day.

In the meantime, media companies are pulling out of Saudi investment conference over the growing outrage of Khashoggi disappearance, Reuters reported Thursday. Journalists and executives of various major media companies, including New York Times, CNBC, Economist and Viacom have already announced their decision not to attend the event. The Financial Times reportedly announced it is reviewing its involvement as a media partner.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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MBS Ordered Operation against Khashoggi: US Intel

Khashoggi MBS

Local Editor

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered an “operation” against Jamal Khoshoggi, which would see him lured back to the kingdom and arrested, The Washington Post reported.

Citing US intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the matter, the American daily — to which government supporter-turned-critic Jamal Khoshoggi contributed as a columnist – reported Wednesday that details of the operation bore the hallmarks of a “rendition.”

Khashoggi, a Virginia-based critic of bin Salman’s policies, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, last week for some paperwork regarding his divorce, but he never exited the mission.

News of his disappearance broke out after Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancée, who was waiting outside the diplomatic building, called the police.

The Saudi dissident’s fate remains shrouded in mystery, with several reports indicating that he has been either killed or kidnapped at the consulate by 15 Saudi operatives — among them bin Salman’s elite close protection unit — who had arrived in Istanbul on the same day only to leave Turkish soil hours later.

The Washington Post cited several of Khashoggi’s friends as saying that the prominent journalist had over the past months had been asked by senior Saudi officials close to return back home from the US, offering him “protection” and “even a high-level job.”

Khashoggi had, however, voiced distrust of the Saudi officials, and said they were unlikely to keep their words.

The reports that have surfaced over the past days of what happened on that day indicate such an operation might have gone wrong, with Turkish officials saying Khashoggi was likely murdered inside the mission.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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