Saudi Dissident Khashoggi: Medienschau 3b

Khashoggi Press review 3b Khashoggi soll im saud. Konsulat lebendig zersägt worden sein, sein Sterben dauerte 7 Minuten. Audio-Beweis noch unter Verschluss. Mehr Details zum saud. Killerkommando:
Bei diesem Beitrag handelt es sich um ein Blog aus der Freitag-Community

Eingebetteter Medieninhalt

… Enge Verbindung zum saudischen Sicherheitsapparat und zum Kronprinzen, Gerichtsmediziner. Saudis auf der Suche nach entlastender (Lügen-)Geschichte. Die Trump-Regierung will nicht von den Saudis abrücken. Beziehungen des Westens zu den Saudis in der Kritik

Khashoggi said to have been dismembered alive in Saudi consulate, his death lasted 7 minutes. Audio proofs are still under seal. More details about the Saudi hit squad: Close connections to Saudi security apparatus and crown prince, forensic doctor. The Saudis are in search of a (tall) story exonerating them. The Trump government does not want to move away from the Saudis. Western-Saudi relationship more and more coming under fire.

Schwerpunkte / Key aspects

Klassifizierung / Classification

cp01 Alle Berichte auf Deutsch

cp02 The Khashoggi criminal case: Reports in English

cp03 Reaktionen in den USA; Beziehungen USA-Saudi Arabien / Reactions in the US; US-Saudi relations

cp04 Internationale Reaktionen / International reactions

cp05 Propaganda

cp06 Weitere Folgen / Further implications

cp07 Erinnerung an Khashoggi / Remembering Khashoggi

Klassifizierung / Classification




(Kein Stern / No star)

? = Keine Einschatzung / No rating

A = Aktuell / Current news

B = Hintergrund / Background

P = Politik / Politics

Frühere Berichte / Earlier reporting:

Jemenkrieg-Mosaik / Yemen War Mosaic 465, cp8 (Oct. 4)

Jemenkrieg-Mosaik / Yemen War Mosaic 466, cp8 (Oct.7)

Saudi Dissident Khashoggi: Medienschau Teil 1 / Press review 1 (Oct. 11)

Saudi Dissident Khashoggi: Medienschau Teil 2 / Press review 2 (Oct. 15)

Medienschau Nr. 3 musste wegen der Länge geteilt werden. Den ersten Teil finden Sie hier:

Press review nr. 3 had to be divided because of its size. The first part you find here:

cp03 Reaktionen in den USA; Beziehungen USA-Saudi Arabien / Reactions in the US; US-Saudi relations

Siehe auch / Look at cp01

(* A P)

U.S. gives Saudis 'few more days' on Khashoggi probe

The United States on Thursday gave Saudi Arabia more time to investigate the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as Turkish investigators searched Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul for a second time in a hunt for clues.

U.S. President Donald Trump met for less than an hour with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who gave the president an update on his talks this week with Saudi and Turkish officials about the Khashoggi case amid concern that the journalist was killed in the consulate after entering it on Oct. 2.

Referring to the Saudis, Pompeo said he told Trump that “we ought to give them a few more days to complete” their investigation in order to get a full understanding of what happened

“I think it’s important for us all to remember, too - we have a long, since 1932, a long strategic relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Pompeo told reporters after meeting with Trump, also calling Saudi Arabia “an important counterterrorism partner.”

My comment: The Saudis “investigating”?? LOL. They need to invent a tall story which Trump will accept with pleasure.

(A E P)

Blackstone waves off concerns over Saudi funding

Blackstone Group LP (BX.N), the U.S. buyout firm which is relying on Saudi Arabia to provide half the money for its planned $40 billion infrastructure fund, waved off concerns about funding on Thursday even as controversy rages over the disappearance of a Saudi journalist that has frayed relations between Wall Street and the oil-rich kingdom.

(* B P)

How the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi Could Upend the Middle East

The question is whether Donald Trump sees that as such a bad thing. The President is deeply invested personally in the Saudi leader and more broadly in the abandonment of the international rules-based order. He has embraced despots and at the U.N. General Assembly exalted not universal rights that transcend borders but, rather, “sovereignty”–the freedom to do as you wish within your own. And by custom the Saudi consulate, tucked on a side street in Istanbul, was sovereign territory of the kingdom.

All this would be a challenge to any U.S. President. It’s even more complicated for Trump, who has gladly returned the Saudis’ embrace, making Riyadh his first overseas trip.

And even before Khashoggi was presumed dead, the Senate came within 11 votes of denying Saudi Arabia the military support it needs to prosecute the war in Yemen.

But there are limits to the U.S. response. “Some of my colleagues say, ‘That’s it. We’re going to cut Saudi Arabia off like a dead skunk,'” says Republican Senator John Kennedy. “That’s magical thinking.” The U.S.-Saudi alliance, while never comfortable, is old and deep. There is an inertia generated by shared interests, including healthy oil markets, intelligence exchanges and, not least, zealous opposition to Iran. “We can’t deal with Iran. We tried. They’re a cancer on the Middle East,” Kennedy notes, and the Saudis placed this shared enmity at the center of their pitch to Trump. The Khashoggi incident threatens the U.S. strategy to contain the Islamic Republic. On Nov. 5, the U.S. will reimpose sanctions targeting any customer of Iran’s oil markets. Their success may rest on Saudi Arabia’s ability to serve the businesses and countries no longer able to trade with Tehran.

My comment: Anti-Iranian paranoia is widely spread in the US, as Kennedy shows. The Iranian leadership might be disgusting, but it’s topped by the Saudis. - And Kennedy is obviously wrong: “We can’t deal with Iran. We tried. ". The US did, and it succeded very well. Did you already forget the Iran Nuclear Deal? when Trump was such an idiot to leave this deal, it's not the Iranians fault.

(* B P)

Aaron Maté: Khashoggi case not only shines a light on Saudi regime & its US apologists, but on contempt US elites have for non-elites. We support Saudi's genocidal war on Yemen & another client, Israel, in killing civilians weekly. For US elites, the lone outrage here concerns a club member.

(* A P)


According to one staffer, the newsroom hasn’t felt this galvanized since the earliest days of the Russia investigation.

Seven months later, and two weeks after the disappearance of Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, the Postfinds itself at the center of a dizzyingly complex international crisis that it is both covering and mourning in real time.

Staffers told me that the newsroom feels like it is pursuing an important and difficult story about one of its own. “That’s definitely been an animating force,” one person involved in the coverage said. “People are concerned because he’s our colleague, but we’re also just very focused on figuring out what the real story is.” A substantial team of reporters and editors scattered between Washington and Istanbul has been working voraciously to advance the story—including a quadruple-bylined piece connecting a member of M.B.S.’s entourage to Khashoggi’s suspected murder.

Within the newsroom, colleagues regularly see the journalists assigned to the sprawling story huddling around one reporter’s desk or another, or assembled in some breakout room. The Istanbul crew has been working around the clock given the time difference. The video team pulled an all-nighter last week producing a segment about key surveillance footage that the Post obtained, purporting to show a chain of events leading up to Khashoggi’s disappearance. “Even people who aren’t involved in the coverage are all talking about it,” a Post journalist told me.

(A P)

Film: Brennan: Khashoggi disappearance “very ham handed”

"It was very ham handed," said ex-CIA director John Brennan of the possible murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate.

(* A P)

Khashoggi Disappearance Tests Ties Between Jared Kushner And Saudi Crown Prince

Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, fostered a close relationship with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a part of his bid to help broker a Middle East peace deal.

Mohammed and Kushner held their first White House meeting in March 2017. Since then they have met face to face at least four more times and have reportedly forged a close bond.

A few days after Khashoggi disappeared, Kushner, along with national security adviser John Bolton, spoke with Mohammed about the journalist. According to the White House, Kushner and Bolton urged the Saudi government to carry out a transparent investigation into Khashoggi's whereabouts.

With Khashoggi's fate not officially confirmed, some critics have raised concerns that Mohammed may have manipulated Kushner.

"The Saudis have used their privileged relationship with Kushner to gain greater freedom of movement on issues that are important to them," said Brett Bruen, who served as director of global engagement in the Obama White House. "Where have we been able to achieve inroads when it comes to Saudi diplomacy? There's very little that Jared Kushner has achieved in the almost two years of working on this."

Bruen said he is concerned that foreign officials will ingratiate themselves with Kushner, take advantage of his inexperience and use him as a back channel to get to Trump.

The White House forcefully pushed back on Bruen's assertions.

(* B P)

How to Respond to a Diplomatic Crisis Like Khashoggi’s Disappearance

“This is not a good example on how to handle these situations."

Khashoggi’s disappearance, the Saudis’ alleged role in it, the leaks from Turkey, and a bipartisan eruption of anger at Saudi Arabia in the U.S. Congress have presented the Trump administration with a major diplomatic test: It must extricate arguably its closest ally in the Muslim world from this crisis, placate an often difficult nato ally, and assure lawmakers that the guilty will be punished.

Ultimately, any resolution of this crisis will have to placate the Saudis, Turkey, and the U.S. Congress, while preserving U.S. interests in the kingdom. Already, news reports suggest that the Saudi investigation will find that prominent rogue elements carried out the alleged killing, and that the crown prince was unaware of what happened to Khashoggi.

“That will probably be part of the diplomatic way forward to try and create a track that allows Western governments to maintain the intimacy of relations with Saudi Arabia and lock in associated economic and strategic interests while allowing them to simultaneously point a finger at those responsible,” said Julien Barnes-Dacey, who is the director of the Middle East and North Africa program at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “The question is where [Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] fits into this mix—and that’s probably the critical issue that is hanging over this entire saga given the increasingly apparent linkages between those who are alleged to have been involved in the murder and MbS himself.”

My comment: They all want to continue as it has been before, how tall ever the story will be they are going to invent.

(A E P)

Jeff Bezos has been quiet on the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Bezos hasn't made any public comments on Khashoggi since his disappearance in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Amazon Web Services is opening a region in the Middle East and is looking for a head of public policy for Saudi Arabia.

Bezos and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met in Seattle earlier this year.

(* A B P)

Khashoggi saga takes spotlight off Yemen tragedy

By now, few doubt that Jamal Khashoggi is dead.

If this was the case, then it is impossible for the hit on Khashoggi to have taken place without a green light from the crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman (affectionately known as MBS). The Saudi royal palace would have signed Khashoggi’s death warrant because he had turned on the kingdom he otherwise loyally served.

Saudi Arabia is in the midst of an internal review of the death of Khashoggi. Whispers from inside the kingdom suggest that the final report will say that this was a “rogue” operation, a word introduced into this incident by US President Donald Trump.

Trump, who has bet a great deal on Saudi Arabia, has been caught flat-footed. He did not want this scandal. He thought that disavowing Khashoggi – because he was a permanent resident of the US rather than a citizen – would make the case disappear. But it has not, largely because Khashoggi has close friends in Washington, DC (including colleagues at The Washington Post), because he is so well connected inside Saudi Arabia, and because the Turkish government – which is in a long-term tussle with Saudi Arabia –will not let the matter drop.

Trump came under pressure at least to block US arms sales to Saudi Arabia. But Trump is a pragmatic man. He knows that this would do two things he cannot afford: It would show that the US does not stand by its allies, who might then seek allies elsewhere, and it would jeopardize the massive deals that US arms manufacturers have signed with the Saudis.

Why say that Trump was right to do what he did? It was not only because Trump wanted to maintain the US-Saudi relationship. It was largely because Trump’s industrial strategy relies upon weapons sales around the world.

And this is not merely Trump’s strategy. This has been the industrial strategy of the US ever since manufacturing began to escape US shores from the 1970s and ever since the USSR collapsed and Russian weapons manufacturing deteriorated

US presidents often talk of Saudi Arabia as an ally in the promotion of democracy, a witheringly bizarre tone that runs from liberal Democrats to arch-conservative Republicans.

But the Saudi war on Yemen has slipped off the radar. It was Khashoggi’s disappearance that captured the imagination – a macabre story of a man many journalists knew.

The war continues; children continue to die (five killed a day since the Saudi bombing began in March 2015). Nothing is going to stop that. Not Khashoggi’s critical column nor his death. Nothing – as long as Saudi Arabia pays those billions of dollars in insurance payments in the guise of arms purchases – by Vijay Prashad

(* A B P)

A President Kowtowing to a Mad Prince

Trump is providing cover for Saudi barbarism.

American presidents have periodically engaged in cover-ups of their own corruption or licentiousness, but President Trump is breaking new ground. He is using the United States government to cover up a foreign despot’s barbarism.

As someone who knew Jamal Khashoggi for more than 15 years, I’m outraged at the reports that a Saudi team of royal thugs beat, drugged and murdered Jamal — even cutting off his fingers, presumably because that’s what he wrote with — and then dismembered him with a bone saw. But I’m equally outraged at the pathetic White House response.

In the past, Trump repeatedly denounced President Barack Obama for having bowed to a Saudi king. But today Trump is not just bowing to a king; he’s kowtowing to a mad prince. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as M.B.S., has repeatedly manipulated Trump and Jared Kushner, for he knows how to push Americans’ buttons, and now it’s happening again: Trump is helping whitewash what appears to be the Saudi Arabian torture-murder of an international journalist.

If M.B.S. can do all this and still be applauded as reverently as ever in America, it’s no wonder he thought he could get away with dismembering a troublesome journalist. And if there are no serious consequences this time as well, even now that his moniker is said to stand for “Mr. Bone Saw,” what will M.B.S. do next?

The truth is that for decades, we have enabled Saudi Arabian misconduct, including the extremist education and terrorist financing that contributed to the 9/11 attacks. We stood by as Saudi Arabia seeded fanatical madrasas in places like West Africa, Pakistan and Indonesia, gravely destabilizing poor parts of the world. In fairness, Saudi Arabia has made progress in some areas, including its financing of terrorism, but it remains despotic, intolerant and misogynist.


Trump acts as if the Saudis have leverage over us. In fact, the Saudis desperately need us and our spare parts for their American-made aircraft.

Trump should stop collaborating in a cover-up – by Nicholas Kristof

(* A B P)

Statement Of Senator Patrick leahy On Jamal Khashoggi

Credible, detailed reports from the Turkish government and the international press that Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was tortured and murdered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd have shocked the world. While we do not yet have definitive proof, neither is there any other plausible explanation.

Saudi authorities first insisted that Mr. Khashoggi left the consulate unharmed, without offering any evidence of that. No video footage, nothing. After no one believed it, they concocted a completely different story. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman denied any knowledge of what happened – self-serving denials that President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo seemed eager to accept at face value – and the Saudi government suggested it was an interrogation gone wrong by rogue agents. That story is becoming increasingly implausible by the hour.

The world should take note that it is the free press, not the Saudi government or the White House, that has doggedly searched for the truth about what happened to Mr. Khashoggi. It reminds us, once again, that a free press is an essential check against tyranny, dishonesty, and impunity.

If the reports are true, that Mr. Khashoggi was tortured and murdered with the knowledge of the Saudi royal family, it is an outrageous crime for which those responsible in the Saudi government – at the highest level – must be held accountable. The Saudi government – that is, the Saudi royal family – has long acted with near total impunity for corruption and repression, to which the United States has too often turned a blind eye. In fact, the extrajudicial killing of a critic of the regime would not be an aberration in Saudi Arabia.

Our government’s willingness to ignore – and to even tacitly encourage – the abusive and reckless policies of the Saudi government – most recently its war crimes in Yemen – is again being tested. That history of excuses is exacerbated by the fact that the first foreign country President Trump visited was Saudi Arabia, with whom he and his family have conducted business deals totaling many tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars. That speaks volumes.

The case of Mr. Khashoggi illustrates once again not only the ruthlessness of the Saudi government.

My comment: “After no one believed it, they concocted a completely different story”: This is crucial. In connection with the Yemen war, exactly the same happened again and again. No one should believe any of these Saudi stories.

(A P)

$100M in Saudi money lands in US accounts as Pompeo landed in Riyadh: report

On the same day that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in Saudi Arabia to discuss the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a previously promised $100 million landed in American bank accounts from Saudi Arabia, according to a The New York Times report.

The Times reported that the money was for American efforts to stabilize Syria and that Saudi Arabia had promised the Trump administration the funds over the summer.

The timing of the arrival of the money has raised eyebrows among some bureaucrats, the Times reported, as speculation heightens over the disappearance of Khashoggi.

Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, told the Times that Pompeo's visit to Saudi Arabia and the $100 million payment were not connected.

“The specific transfer of funds has been long in process and has nothing to do with other events or the secretary’s visit,” McGurk said.

(** A B P)

The Saudi Sycophants in the Trump Administration

The Trump administration’s cynical indulgence of self-serving Saudi claims has been on full display this week.

Between Pompeo’s embarrassing sycophancy and Trump’s disgraceful attempts to cover for the Saudis, the Trump administration has lived down to my extremely low expectations for how they would respond to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. It comes as no surprise that they are making excuses for Mohammed bin Salman and his government, since this has been an important part of the “Saudi first” foreign policy that the administration has been conducting for the last twenty months. If Pompeo was willing to lie to Congress for the Saudis and their allies last month in his bogus Yemen certification, we should expect him to endorse Saudi attempts to whitewash their role in the murder of a prominent critic. Pompeo may not realize how much damage he is doing to his reputation and his relationship with members of Congress, especially those on the Foreign Relations Committee, but the damage is significant and lasting.

Pompeo’s behavior during his visit to Riyadh was extremely inappropriate under the circumstances, and many observers remarked on how wrong it was.

The president has a knack for offering the most preposterous defenses for the most obviously guilty people. The Saudi government is being blamed for Khashoggi’s death because there is no one else that could be responsible. When a government critic is detained and killed by agents of that government in their own consulate, that government is undeniably guilty of murdering him. Trump keeps mentioning the official denials from the crown prince and others as if those matter, but we are far past the point of pretending that we don’t know what happened. The president wants to obfuscate and distract for as long as possible in the hopes that all of this will soon be forgotten, and so he keeps trying to buy time by stalling and refusing to take any action that might put pressure on Riyadh to admit the truth. It doesn’t fool anyone, and it isn’t helping the Saudis very much, because it just convinces members of Congress that they will have to do what the president won’t.

The good news is that Trump is making the relationship with the Saudis more politically toxic by embracing it, and the Saudis are bringing discredit on the Trump administration for its uncritical, reflexive support for them. The more that Trump and his officials lie and cover up for a reckless client, the worse it is for both the administration and the Saudis – by Daniel Larison

(* B P)

America’s Dilemma: Censuring M.B.S. and Not Halting Saudi Reforms

We have a national interest in Jamal Khashoggi’s saga.

I have three thoughts on the Jamal Khashoggi saga.

First, I can’t shake the image of this big teddy bear of a man, who only wanted to see his government reform in a more inclusive, transparent way, being killed in some dark corner of the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by a 15-man Saudi hit team reportedly armed with a bone saw. The depravity and cowardice of that is just disgusting.

Second, I do not believe for a second that it was a rogue operation and that Saudi Arabia’s effective ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is very hands on, had no prior knowledge, if not more. And therefore, not as a journalist but as an American citizen, I am sickened to watch my own president and his secretary of state partnering with Saudi officials to concoct a cover story. The long-term ramifications of that for every journalist — or political critic in exile anywhere — are chilling. By the way, I don’t think they will get away with it.

This leads to my third point: How should America think about balancing our values and our interests going forward? The best way to answer that, for me, is to go back to the basics. I always knew that M.B.S.’s reform agenda was a long shot to succeed, but I was rooting for its success — while urging the Trump administration to draw redlines around his dark side — for a very specific reason. It had nothing to do with M.B.S. personally. Personally, I don’t care if Saudi Arabia is ruled by M.B.S., S.O.S. or K.F.C.

It had to do with how I defined our most important national interest in Saudi Arabia since 9/11.

For starters, I believe that the promise of M.B.S., however much you did or did not think he could bring social, economic and religious reform, is finished. He’s made himself radioactive — absent a credible, independent exoneration for Jamal’s disappearance and apparent murder. M.B.S. may be able to hold onto power in Saudi Arabia, but his whole reform program required direct foreign investment — and money has been flowing out of Saudi Arabia for months, not in. Now it will get worse.

And here’s one more complication. Even if M.B.S. were pushed aside, if you think there are a 100 Saudi royals with the steel, cunning and ruthlessness he had to push through women driving, removing the Islamic police from the streets and reopening cinemas, you are wrong. There are not. All of these reforms had intense conservative opponents. This is not Denmark, and yet, without sweeping social, economic and religious reforms, Saudi Arabia could well become a huge failed state. Remember, one of ISIS’ biggest sources of young recruits was Saudi Arabia.

And by the way, if you think M.B.S. had a dark side, you ought to look under some rocks in the kingdom. You will find some people there with long beards who don’t speak English who believe the most crazy stuff about Shiites, Jews, Christians, Hindus, America and the West. And right now, trust me, they are applauding Jamal’s assumed murder. – by Thomas L. Friedman

My comment: It’s interesting how Thomas L. Friedman, one of the most disgusting sycophants in favor of Saudi Arabia and its Crown prince and his “reforms” now tries to distance himself. An it’s he who blames Trump for “partnering” with the Saudis.

(* B P)

Saudi Arabia Keeps Killing Civilians And The US Remains Silent

Saudi Arabia is systemically targeting groups of civilians in Yemen and killing them for no apparent reason.

And here in the United States, we have a president that thinks that, “Oh, none of this is a big deal. Saudi Arabia is our friend, they told me the other day they didn’t kill that journalist, so I guess I got to believe ’em.” And then later on Saudi Arabia came out and said, “Okay, well we may have accidentally tortured him to death,” is their new response now. “We accidentally tortured him to death.”

Saudi Arabia is committing war crimes right now. They’ve been committing war crimes for quite some time now, it’s just that now it’s kind of reached the level of atrociousness that the entire world is starting to pay attention. But they have been horrible for decades and the United States, no matter who the president has been, whether it’s a democrat or a republican, we have been silent. We bow down to them, we hold their hands, we kiss the rings, and we act like they are our very best friends in the entire world while they are actually one of the most ass-backwards countries on the planet with their treatment of women, with their treatment of people with different lifestyles, and with the way they commit these war crimes on a routine basis.

But we kiss up to them and we sell them weapons. We enable the slaughter that’s happening right now because they’ve got oil. And God forbid we piss off the people that hold on to the oil.

And here in the United States, we have a president that thinks that, “Oh, none of this is a big deal. Saudi Arabia is our friend, they told me the other day they didn’t kill that journalist, so I guess I got to believe ’em.” And then later on Saudi Arabia came out and said, “Okay, well we may have accidentally tortured him to death,” is their new response now. “We accidentally tortured him to death.”

Saudi Arabia is committing war crimes right now. They’ve been committing war crimes for quite some time now, it’s just that now it’s kind of reached the level of atrociousness that the entire world is starting to pay attention. But they have been horrible for decades and the United States, no matter who the president has been, whether it’s a democrat or a republican, we have been silent. We bow down to them, we hold their hands, we kiss the rings, and we act like they are our very best friends in the entire world while they are actually one of the most ass-backwards countries on the planet with their treatment of women, with their treatment of people with different lifestyles, and with the way they commit these war crimes on a routine basis.

But we kiss up to them and we sell them weapons. We enable the slaughter that’s happening right now because they’ve got oil. And God forbid we piss off the people that hold on to the oil.

(* A B P)

Donald Trump: For the record, I have no financial interests in Saudi Arabia (or Russia, for that matter). Any suggestion that I have is just more FAKE NEWS (of which there is plenty)!

Trump in 2015: “Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”


(* B E P)

Trump and Saudi Arabia: Deep business ties spark new scrutiny

He has booked hotel rooms and meeting spaces to them, sold an entire floor in one of his buildings to them and, in desperate moments in his career, gotten a billionaire from the country to buy his yacht and New York's Plaza Hotel overlooking Central Park.

President Donald Trump's ties to Saudi Arabia run long and deep, and he's often boasted about his business ties with the kingdom.

"I love the Saudis," Mr. Trump said when announcing his presidential run at Trump Tower in 2015. "Many are in this building."

Now those ties are under scrutiny as the president faces calls for a tougher response to the kingdom's government following the disappearance, and possible killing, of one of its biggest critics, journalist and activist Jamal Khashoggi.

"The Saudis are funneling money to him," said former federal ethics chief Walter Shaub, who is advising a watchdog group suing the president for foreign government ties to his business. That undermines "confidence that he's going to do the right thing when it comes to Khashoggi."

The president's links to Saudi billionaires and princes go back years and appear to have only deepened.

In 1991, as Mr. Trump was teetering on personal bankruptcy and scrambling to raise cash, he sold his 282-foot yacht "Princess" to Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin-Talal for $20 million, a third less than what he reportedly paid for it.

Four years later, the prince came to his rescue again, joining other investors in a $325 million deal for Mr. Trump's money-losing Plaza Hotel.

In 2001, Mr. Trump sold the entire 45th floor of the Trump World Tower across from the U.N. in New York for $12 million, the biggest purchase in that building to that point, according to the brokerage site Streeteasy. The buyer: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Shortly after he announced his run for president, Mr. Trump began laying the groundwork for possible new business in the kingdom.

Since Mr. Trump took the oath of office, the Saudi government and lobbying groups for it have been lucrative customers for Trump's hotels.

A public relations firm working for the kingdom spent nearly $270,000 on lodging and catering at his Washington hotel near the Oval Office through March of last year, according to filings to the Justice Department.

The Saudi government was also a prime customer at the Trump International Hotel in New York early this year, according to a Washington Post report.

Saudi Arabia has also helped on one of President Trump's key policy promises and helped the president's friends along the way.

(A P)

Washington Post told lobbyist: Quit working for Saudis or stop writing for us

The Washington Post told a prominent Republican lobbyist he’d lose his gig as a contributing opinion writer unless he stopped lobbying for Saudi Arabia, a spokesperson for the newspaper confirmed Tuesday.

The ultimatum came after the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. permanent resident who was a columnist for the Post and wrote critically of the Saudi government. Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month, and allegations that he was killed by Saudi authorities have strained the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia.

The lobbyist, Ed Rogers, the chairman of the BGR Group, writes for the newspaper’s PostPartisan blog.

My comment: When will the WaPo kick out David Ignatius?

(A P)


A high-end investment conference taking place in Saudi Arabia could be derailed now that many international participants are pulling out in response to the disappearance of an acclaimed Saudi journalist in the country’s consulate in Turkey.

Fox Business is now the only major Western media outlet participating in the event. Fox anchor Maria Bartiromo interviewed the Saudi Crown Prince on Monday about his plans to expand the Saudi economy through technology and artificial intelligence.

(A P)

Film: Senator Lindsey Graham: This Is Not Rogue Killers, This Is A Rogue Crown Prince

Graham joined Brian Kilmeade to talk about the death Jamal Khashoggi. Graham pushed back on the comments coming from the Saudi leadership that the death of Khashoggi was the work of rogue killers saying, "Well this is not rogue killers. This is a rogue Crown Prince."

(A B P)

Begin By Ending Cooperation in the Yemen War

What’s most depressing in our current situation is that the president is now running interference for a Saudi Crown Prince who has been caught red-handed murdering an American resident and journalist and having him chopped into pieces. That’s probably a new low. America is actually free to criticize the Crown Prince and to punish him, but apparently President Trump doesn’t feel that way.

This mess obviously needs to be dealt with with some delicacy and deftness, but we should not have our president helping the Saudis make up some story about how rogue and unauthorized elements are responsible for this murder.

And, as David French said, at a minimum we should respond by cutting off all assistance for the indiscriminate bombing in Yemen.

referring to

(B P)

Can Trump Be as Tough on Saudi Arabia as He Was on Canada?

It’s not Donald Trump’s fault that he inherited the legacy of a generation of bipartisan coddling of the Saudis.

But Trump’s president now, and he has to make a choice. In the face of a clear, unacceptable provocation, can he actually draw lines the Saudis can’t cross? Can he take actions to demonstrate that America isn’t bound to Saudi money? Can he even use rhetoric half as extreme as he used against Canada this summer?

It’s not as if we don’t have cards to play.

At a minimum, we can and should stop facilitating the Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen, a campaign that depends on American weapons and American help and is murderously indiscriminate. At a minimum, we can demonstrate to the Saudis exactly how much they depend on us to confront Iranian aggression. They are the junior partner in this alliance, and junior partners cannot be permitted to go “rogue.”

(* B P)

Trump has emboldened MBS to act with impunity

U.S. intelligence intercepts also reportedly corroborate allegations that the order came from the highest levels of the Saudi royal court. And in Saudi Arabia, it doesn’t get any higher than the Kingdom’s de-facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, commonly referred to as MBS.

U.S. media pundits and President Trump have continuously praised MBS, crafting an image of a secular, moderate reformer looking to push Saudi Arabia into the “future,” an image supported by a host of lifestyle reforms within the Kingdom.

If confirmed, however, the tragedy of Jamal Khashoggi raises the curtain once and for all on MBS’ true nature, casting a light on the reality that Saudi’s young authoritarian leader has been violating human rights since the very beginning and has been emboldened by President Trump in the process.

Any of the systems of seniority and religiosity that traditionally granted authority to the royal family, the crown prince created a power vacuum that could only be filled by repression — a crackdown on dissent that became immediately evident through a massive wave of arrests of Saudi elites and the very activists whose calls for reform MBS claimed to answer.

The crackdown went unmentioned by elites from Washington to New York to Silicon Valley, hoping that a uncompromising authoritarian could somehow be a progressive revolutionary at the same time.

To many within the Kingdom, MBS' success in pushing some positive reforms mitigated the growing repression

Even in light of the Kingdom’s rising repression, however, Khashoggi’s disappearance represents a significant escalation in MBS’ crackdown on dissent.

In a speech on Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) offered a source for that empowerment. He described a rising authoritarian axis, one emboldened by President Trump.

Sanders’ speech hit the nail on the head: President Trump’s relish in shattering democratic norms and privileging of arms sales over human lives has granted MBS a blank check to act with impunity, without fear of repercussions or accountability.

With a blank check from Trump and silenced opposition within the Kingdom, there was nothing reining in the burgeoning authoritarian’s worst impulses – by Kate Kizer

(* B P)

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance has accomplished what 50,000 Yemeni deaths could not

Recent condemnations of the Saudi government are welcome, but the kingdom's brutality in Yemen has not drawn nearly as much attention.

The allegations of state-sponsored torture and assassination triggered a rare backlash from U.S. businesses, media and importantly, some U.S. government officials.

Though long overdue, these condemnations of the Saudi government are welcome. Saudi Arabia has been a close U.S. ally for decades, but during that it has engaged in numerous violations of human rights including creating what is currently the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

By using starvation as a weapon and causing the collapse of the Yemeni economy, health care and educational systems, Mohammed bin Salman has proven himself to be a ruthless monarch, and not the progressive reformer that many in the Western press have, until very recently, been happy to paint him as.

The crown prince’s actions in Yemen have not drawn nearly as much attention from his U.S. allies. Quite the opposite in fact.

And until the brutal killing of 40 Yemeni children on a school bus, the U.S. mainstream media remained largely uncritical of its government's role in the war on Yemen.

Thus far, Trump’s relationship with Saudi Arabia seems to be enduring this rare moment of public outcry. Asked whether the U.S. would consider halting arms sales to Saudi if they are found responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance, Trump gave a transparent — if unsettling — response.

It is understandable that many within the U.S. government want to remain uncritical of Saudi’s actions in Yemen; after all, they were (and remain) partners in alleged war crimes and so condemnations of Saudi’s brutality in Yemen cannot ignore America’s helping hand in these atrocities.

Still, the hypocritical nature of the recent mainstream change of heart is especially painful for those who have tried for years to bring attention to the suffering of Yemeni men, women and children. How many deaths will it take before investing in Saudi Arabia becomes a problem? Or do human rights only matter when a prominent figure is the subject of such brutality?

Regardless of the reason, it remains to be seen whether this latest tragedy will be the catalyst that finally leads the United States to publicly distance itself from Saudi Arabia.

Whatever the outcome, Khashoggi's disappearance pulls the curtain back on the callousness, arrogance and perceived invincibility of Mohammed bin Salman — while also revealing how selective Washington’s outrage really is – by Shireen Al-Adeimi

(* B P)

In the World of American Politics, One Khashoggi Is Worth One Million Yemeni Lives

If Khashoggi was, in fact, whacked out by a Saudi hit squad—complete with torture and Goodfellas-style dismemberment—as the Turks maintain he was, then Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is even crazier than we thought.

From said affair, we can take away a few things. First, I’m happy to see that the US and its allies have suddenly embraced due process, calling as they are for a thorough, independent investigation into the event so as to establish beyond a doubt what actually took place, at which point they can respond accordingly. I trust they will now apply the same evidentiary standards to, say, the next chemical weapons incident in Syria, or the next botched assassination of an ex-spy in Europe. Moreover, it’s good to know where we in the West draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior as regards official allies. Shelling hospitals and mosques and schools andschool buses and weddings and funerals is one thing—unfortunate casualties of war, worthy of a few hollow words of regret. Killing a Washington Post columnist, however, will not be brooked. Hence, the mass boycott of the upcoming business conference in Riyadh, and Trump’s talk of “severe punishment.” In the world of American politics, one Khashoggi is worth one million Yemeni lives.

Mohammed bin Salman ought to have understood this.

My comment: The headline simply hits the spot.

(* A B P)

Khashoggi Situation Won’t Stop Saudi Arms Sales, But Could Slow Them

When it comes to blocking U.S. arms sales to foreign countries, Congress has a mixed track record.

It remains unclear whether the current Congress will move to put a formal stop to sales to Riyadh. For now, the GOP majority has shown little appetite to cross the Trump administration, particularly with the November midterms looming.

“I think it could be difficult for Congress to unify to the point that it could effectively block arms sales to Saudi Arabia, because I think there are other arguments [for different responses to the alleged murder],” said Jim Phillips, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

But military support to the Kingdom was already a point of fierce debate on Capitol Hill before Khashoggi’s disappearance. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have expressed discomfort with the number of civilian deaths in the U.S.-backed Saudi campaign in Yemen, where a Saudi airstrike using a U.S.-purchased bomb killed 40 schoolchildren in August.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers are pressing the administration on a State Department certification that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are doing enough to curtail civilian deaths. Congress demanded the certification, from Pompeo, to allow the U.S. to continue to provide military support assistance to the Saudi coalition.

The congressional politics surrounding Saudi Arabia do not always cut along partisan lines — the super-majority vote in 2016 to override President Obama’s veto of a bill allowing victims of 9/11 to sue the Kingdom is one example.

But the midterm elections in November could shift the chess board. While Republicans are deemed more likely to keep the Senate, the House could flip to Democratic control — raising the spectre that at least one chamber could vote to curtail sales.

(A P)

U.S. Senate leader says needs facts in Khashoggi case before acting

U.S. lawmakers need to find out what happened in the case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi before taking any steps against Saudi Arabia, Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mcconnell told Bloomberg News on Tuesday, calling U.S.-Saudi relations “not great.”

(** B K P)

Angered By Saudi Plan to Purchase Russian S-400, Trump Admin Exploiting Khashoggi Disappearance to Force Saudis to “Buy American”

The response of the Trump administration and many U.S. politicians to Khashoggi’s disappearance is largely being guided by the military-industrial complex — in this case Lockheed Martin — but masquerading as a response motivated by “human rights.”

However, there is considerable evidence pointing to the fact that the U.S.’ response to the Khashoggi affair is likely to be determined, not by any Saudi government responsibility for Khashoggi’s fate, but instead whether or not the Saudis choose to follow through with their promise to purchase the $15 billion U.S.-made THAAD missile system or it cheaper, Russia-made equivalent, the S-400. According to reports, the Saudis failed to meet the deadline for their planned THAAD purchase and had hinted in late September that they were planning to buy the S-400 from Russia instead.

While the U.S.’ response to the alleged murder of the Saudi journalist is being cast as a U.S. government effort to defend press freedom and finally hold the Saudi government to account for its long litany of human-rights abuses, there is every indication that the U.S. is not in fact seeking to punish the Saudis for their alleged role in Khashoggi’s apparent murder but instead to punish them for reneging on this $15 billion deal to U.S. weapons giant Lockheed Martin, which manufactures the THAAD system.

Khashoggi’s disappearance merely provided a convenient pretext for the U.S. to pressure the Saudis over abandoning the weapons deal by allowing the U.S. to frame its retaliation as a “human rights” issue. As a result, it seems likely that, if the Saudis move forward with the latter, the U.S. and the Trump administration the Saudi government guilty of involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance while, if they move forward with the former, the media frenzy and controversy surrounding the Saudi national will likely fizzle out and, with it, Trump’s threats of “severe punishment.”

Ultimately, the response of the U.S. political class to the Khashoggi affair is just the latest example of a U.S. government policy being motivated by the military-industrial complex but masquerading as a policy motivated by concern for “human rights.”

As the Khashoggi saga has drawn on since the Saudi journalist disappeared earlier this month, some observers have noted that the corporate media and the U.S. government’s sudden preoccupation with Saudi Arabia’s human-rights record, particularly in regards to journalists.

While murdering a journalist by “hit squad” in a diplomatic compound on foreign soil — as is alleged to have Khashoggi’s fate — would certainly set a dangerous precedent, Saudi Arabia leading the genocide against the Yemeni people is arguably a much worse precedent. However, little concern over the Saudis’ role in this atrocity in Yemen has been raised by those pushing for action to be taken against Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s “inhumane” fate. So, why the sudden concern?

Given that human-rights concerns among the U.S. power establishment have only emerged after the disappearance of this one journalist and such concerns regarding the Saudis other grave human-rights abuses continue to go unvoiced by these same individuals, something else is likely driving Washington’s sudden concern over alleged Saudi state-sanctioned murder.

So what has protected the Saudi government from U.S. retribution over its repeated human-rights abuses in the past? Though Saudi Arabia’s vast oil wealth is an obvious answer, a recently leaked State Department memo revealed that U.S. weapon sales to the Gulf Kingdom were the main and only factor in the Trump administration ’s continued support for the Saudi-led coalition’s disastrous war in Yemen. Those lucrative weapon sales, according to the memo, led Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “rubber stamp” the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing campaign in Yemen despite the fact that the coalition has continued to bomb civilian buses, homes and infrastructure in recent months.

If the Saudis were to back away from a major, lucrative deal with U.S. weapon manufacturers, such an act would likely result in retribution from Washington, given that weapons sales to the Gulf Kingdom are currently the driving factor behind Washington’s “concern” with the Saudi government’s poor human-rights record.

This is exactly what happened and it took place just two days before Khashoggi disappeared inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

More recently, this past Saturday, Trump told reporters that he did not want to risk the bottom line of the U.S.’ top weapons manufacturers in determining the Saudis’ “punishment:”

I tell you what I don’t want to do. Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, all these companies. I don’t want to hurt jobs. I don’t want to lose an order like that [emphasis added]. And you know there are other ways of punishing, to use a word that’s a pretty harsh word, but it’s true.”

Either way, the Saudi government’s role in the alleged murder of Khashoggi is being capitalized on by the CIA and other elements of the U.S. political scene and military-industrial complex for its own purposes, as these groups normally turn a blind eye to Saudi government atrocities – by Whitney Webb

(* A P)

Film by Ron Paul: Saudis Threaten Trump: 'You Want $400 Oil?'

President Trump's threat of "severe" repercussions if the Saudis are found to have killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi were met with more threats from the Saudi side, including from a media figure close to the royal family who warned of high oil prices and a shift of alliances. Meanwhile Secretary of State Pompeo is in the air heading to Saudi Arabia to get to the bottom of the missing journalist.

(B P)

Why the Trump Administration Needs More Balance in the Middle East

Even before Saudi writer and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman had demonstrated a reckless disregard for reasoned statecraft and for human rights.

It is unlikely that the crown prince would have embarked on these fiascos without feeling confident that Washington was behind him. He began the Yemen war on Obama’s watch, but the rest have taken place since Donald Trump became president and his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner took on the Middle East portfolio.
Apparently convinced that bin Salman could deliver Saudi support for an as yet-to-be unveiled Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, Kushner overlooked or misunderstood his new friend’s misdeeds and miscalculations.

The Trump administration has coupled these shifts with a massive economic and information campaign against Iran that has alienated US allies in Europe and is unlikely to reduce Iran’s influence in the Middle East.

There is a way, however, that the US can recover leverage, beyond sanctioning Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi affair. The US should seek back channel talks with Iran about a way to return to the JCPOA and couple that with negotiations that would prolong its restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and allow for dialog on regional conflicts.

My comment: Again a typical US “mainstream elite” view. – There should be changes, but of course the US must stay the Master of the Universe: “All of this requires US leadership“. Oh, Goddamn, no.

(* B P)

US failed to push Saudi Arabia on previous abuses; now for the consequences

The disappearance in Saudi hands of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for the Washington Post, has sparked outrage in the United States. But the U.S. should have made clear long before this that Riyadh’s position as a U.S. ally was not a free pass to abuse human rights and international norms.

Instead, Western countries seemed to have pegged the hopes of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman being the reformer that he made himself out to be, and without too much attention to what was actually happening on the ground.

It is now clear just what the Saudis have been doing with U.S. military technology in their destructive bombing campaign in Yemen.

It’s true that pushing back on the Saudi government over the war in Yemen, the treatment of activists, and now the apparent murder of a high-profile critic, would complicate the relationship with Saudi Arabia, a key ally and part of the U.S. strategy in the Middle East. But, at some point, the U.S. has to show it has some standards in choosing its friends, and that allies will be held accountable. Important deals, including the upcoming arms shipment worth $14.5 billion, are not a license to act in violation of international laws and norms.

Of course, given the tense situation and seriousness of allegations, the United States must act delicately. Perhaps strongly worded international calls will be ineffectual and only breed additional resentment. Perhaps they would be seen as a challenge to the authority to the crown prince. Either way, the U.S. has many options when it comes to pressuring allies and here, the solution must not be nothing. Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed must be held accountable.

Indeed, persistent U.S. inaction on the war in Yemen, combined with a failure to support Canada’s calls for human rights for activists this summer, might have emboldened Saudi Arabia to act against Khashoggi, or it at least hasn't discouraged such actions. Continued inaction will only give the crown prince the green light for further violations of international norms and laws — including extrajudicial killings.

Why bother to even pretend to play by the rules if no one will stop you?

(* B K P)

Sen. Chris Murphy: We must demand accountability for Saudi Arabia’s behavior

When I came to Congress a little more than 10 years ago, support for Saudi Arabia was broad and bipartisan. But now, as the new crown prince engages in increasingly reckless behavior, more and more of us are wondering whether our ally’s actions are in our own best interests. The list of erratic actions from Mohammed bin Salman is long

The Saudis have been telling us these civilian deaths are not intentional. And because U.S. law prohibits us from participating in war crimes, our government has repeatedly chosen to believe them. Yet civilian casualties in recent months have been increasing.

Here’s the bottom line: The Saudis are not telling us the truth. Their obfuscation over what happened to Khashoggi inside their consulate is the same game they have been playing with us in Yemen as they’ve killed thousands of civilians. No wonder they expected no consequences over the murder of just one.

The Saudis initially remained immune from serious U.S. criticism about their role in Yemen. First, the Barack Obama administration aimed to avoid aggravating the Gulf states further in the wake of their opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement; more recently, the Saudi royal family has benefited from its inexplicably close relationship with the Trump family.

But right now, the Saudis’ position in Congress is in free fall, with serious implications for the relationship if there isn’t a full accounting for the fate of Khashoggi.

Saudi Arabia is an important country to the United States. The Saudis are an important counterterrorism partner and have helped forge the current detente between the Sunni Gulf states and Israel. There are good reasons to not destroy the relationship. But that can’t happen until there is a full accounting of Khashoggi’s disappearance, and until the United States receives assurances that Saudi Arabia will be a much more responsible ally. I’m afraid this movie has an unhappy ending, but we owe it to Khashoggi to learn the whole story and reset our relationship with the country that likely carried out his murder.

My comment: Why being so half-hearted? No, Saudi Arabia is NO “important counterterrorism partner“. And the Gulf States‘ „detente“ with Israel is worth nothing.

(* A B P)

Is This the Break With Saudi Arabia We’ve Been Waiting For?

Trump has threatened 'severe punishment' for alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Let's hope he means it.

If the reports of Jamal Khashoggi’s abduction, murder, and dismemberment at the hands of a Saudi kill team dispatched to Istanbul prove correct, his death might achieve what years of abuses by a despotic government have failed to: a meaningful rebuke by the U.S. and its Western allies.

Despite its alleged complicity in the 9/11 attacks, a long history of supporting radical Islamist groups, one of the world’s worst human rights records, and the prosecution of a savage war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia—up until now—has largely escaped censure by both Republicans and Democrats in Washington.

In fact, politicians from both parties have implausibly lauded Saudi Arabia as one of Washington’s most important allies. However, the Trump administration appeared to have taken this obsequious approach to the House of Saud to a new level.

For much of the last three years, the crown prince has been able to count on a devoted fan club that includes prominent columnists, philanthropists, and titans of industry.

MbS didn’t have to worry about criticism from the U.S. much less a review of American assistance to the Saudi military. Following a pattern of permissiveness, the Trump administration turned a blind eye to Saudi abuses in Yemen and encouraged the Saudis to—yet again—investigate themselves.

Until this weekend, President Trump’s was taking heat for suggesting his primary concern was keeping U.S. arms sales to the Kingdom intact.

If the president does not follow through on his threats (if an when it turns out Saudi Arabia is connected to the journalist’s disappearance and/or death) it will have wide-ranging implications for U.S. credibility and most critically further imperil dissidents and journalists around the world.

So far, savaging Yemen, a country of 26 million, a deplorable human rights record at home, and ties to radical Islamists have done nothing to dampen the Trump administration’s and previous administrations’ enthusiasm for the House of Saud. One can only hope that what looks to be the brutal pre-meditated murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, might finally provoke something other than praise for Saudi Arabia and its de-facto ruler – by Michael Horton

(* A P)

Rep. Ro Khanna Condemns Saudi Barbarity from Disappearance of Saudi Journalist to War in Yemen

We speak with Ro Khanna, Democratic congressmember from California. He is calling for congressional hearings into Khashoggi’s disappearance. Khanna has been a leading critic of U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Khanna: Well, it’s appalling. I don’t think there has been any precedent for someone, a journalist, being taken to a consulate, going to a consulate and being murdered. And we don’t know all the facts. We need to find out all the facts. But this is a pattern with Saudi Arabia of barbarity. And they’ve been doing this in Yemen, where almost 16,000 civilians have been killed. Many of those civilians have been killed with Lockheed Martin and Raytheon bombs. And this is why many of us on Capitol Hill want to stop any arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Well, it’s brutal. And what we also know are reports that U.S. intelligence agencies may have been aware that Khashoggi’s life was going to be at risk. And Mark Pocan and I have written calling for the declassification of information that our intelligence agencies had about any threats to Khashoggi’s life, because, as you know, it’s against the law for us not to have warned a resident, a permanent resident of the United States, about a possible threat to his life. And there are many unanswered questions about what the United States government knew, why we didn’t give advanced warning if we did have any information.

(* B P)

Reality Breaks Up a Saudi Prince Charming’s Media Narrative

Just six months ago, American media outlets presented a sunny-side-up portrait of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia as he made a good-will tour of New York, Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

That story started to crack apart on Oct. 2, when the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a sharp critic of the Saudi government, walked into the country’s consulate in Istanbul and didn’t walk out.

The embrace between the American establishment and the leader known as M.B.S. was set to continue in Riyadh later this month at a business conference hosted by Crown Prince Mohammed. The sponsors, partners and participants of the conference — known informally as “Davos In The Desert” — included a number of media companies: CNBC, The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, The Economist, CNN and Fox Business Network.

With the exception of Fox, which is reviewing its participation, all of those organizations pulled out as the Khashoggi story climbed most-viewed article lists and drew cable coverage.

There were plenty of reasons for media organizations to avoid the conference before those allegations, however.

Not everyone fell for the hype, though.

It’s just that there’s a streak in American journalism to allow glittering narratives about budding authoritarians to obscure less appealing facts.

(* B P)

The Khashoggi Affair: Back to the Future

The apparent killing of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi, though shocking and sickening, is also sadly typical of the behavior of autocratic regimes in the region, his own included.

Yet human rights abuses in the region, especially Saudi Arabia have been documented for decades and up to the present by Human Rights Watch along with the US State Department.

With logistical support and political backing from the US administration to Saudi Arabia and its Arab coalition in Yemen, the question here turns from mere tolerance of flagrant abuses of human rights and total disregard for the sanctity of life to enabling perpetrators in return for perceived strategic and financial value. Sadly, embracing dictators is nothing new.
This current sentiment typifies long-standing American attitudes towards dictators world-wide, especially during the cold war period when some dictators sided with the US against the Soviet Union and were welcomed into the fold regardless of how badly they mistreated their own people.

Regardless of how the mystery ends, the Khashoggi affair is likely to have profound repercussions in Saudi-Western relations and perhaps inside Saudi Arabia itself. King Salman and family elders may realize that the Kingdom’s emergence from years of conservative and cautious foreign policies into a more aggressive stance inside and outside their borders may have gone too far. The logical conclusion to that line of thought would be another realignment of their top leadership. Failing that, the pressure, particularly from the US Congress, is not likely to let up.

While Congress and the Administration remain divided, Congress, which has triggered the Magnitsky Act and has two separate legislations which failed to get majorities in 2017, is likely to get more aggressive on US support for the Saudi war in Yemen. If a Democratic majority manages to do this, MbS would be left without the means to pursue his current reckless foreign policy strategies, especially in Yemen – BY NABEEL KHOURY

remark by NABEEL KHOURY: My take on the #Khashoggi murder: Beyond tolerating despots, we're actually enabling them. It's back to the cold war attitude of "he's a bad boy, but he's our bad boy" policy, including providing MBS with an alibi for the crime.

(* A B P)

Film: What's at stake for U.S.-Saudi relations amid Khashoggi investigation?

In a new "60 Minutes" interview, President Trump says there will be "severe punishment" if Saudi Arabia is proven responsible for the death of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Ali Al-Ahmed, director of the Gulf Institute, joined CBSN with more on what it means for U.S.-Saudi relations.

Remark: Could not be looked at in Germany.

(A E P)

Media company Endeavor considering cutting ties with Saudi Arabia

The media conglomerate Endeavor is exploring pulling out of a $400 million deal with the Saudi Public Investment Fund in the wake of the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a person familiar with the matter told CNN.

"We are assessing the situation and considering our options," the person said.

Any decision to cut ties with the Saudi kingdom, which makes investments through its public fund, would be a huge reversal for one of Hollywood's most prominent talent and event management companies.

(* B P)

The Saudis May Not Have Realized How Unpopular They Are Outside the White House

Government spends tens of millions of dollars every year on lobbying in Washington and has, to a large extent, gotten a good return on its investment.

While few can match Trump for sycophancy, he’s certainly not the first president to stick up for the Saudis. The U.S. political divide over the relationship with Saudi Arabia has long been less between Republicans and Democrats than between Congress and the executive branch.

Under Trump, congressional criticism over U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen has been growing

Saudi Arabia is not popular with the U.S. public, either. Only 31 percent of Americans had a favorable view of the kingdom, just behind China and just ahead of Russia, according to a Gallup poll from last year. So members of Congress generally feel safe expressing grave concerns about the kingdom.

This dynamic is in play once again in the wake of the Khashoggi affair, but the Saudis’ critics do appear to have a stronger position this time.

While the strongest criticism of Saudi Arabia has typically come from liberals as well as libertarian-leaning Republicans like Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee, in the past week Iran hawks like Sens. Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham have spoken out too.

Critics have, fairly, asked how these leaders can be so outraged about one death when Saudi Arabia has killed thousands of people in Yemen. But the death of a journalist and well-known Washington figure has had an impact in the U.S. Capitol that a murky, faraway war, with atrocities committed on both sides, has not.

Judging by Trump’s remarks Monday and on 60 Minutes Sunday night, the Saudis don’t have anything to worry about when it comes to the president’s unwavering support. But they may have miscalculated how deep the support is outside the White House.

My comment: “But the death of a journalist and well-known Washington figure has had an impact in the U.S. Capitol that a murky, faraway war, with atrocities committed on both sides, has not”: Clearly stating how 100 % morally bankrupt this whole US elite really is.

(A P)

Bernie Sanders: US should pull out of war in Yemen if Saudis killed journalist

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Sunday that the U.S. should withdraw its support from Saudi Arabia in Yemen's civil war over allegations that the Saudi government murdered a dissident journalist.

"I think one of the strong things that we can do is not only stop military sales, not only put sanctions on Saudi Arabia, but most importantly, get out of this terrible, terrible war in Yemen led by the Saudis," Sanders told CNN's "State of the Union."

"It's clear, we cannot have an ally who murders in cold blood, in their own consulate, a critic, a dissident, that is unacceptable," Sanders said regarding Jamal Khashoggi

(* A P)

Demanding End to Saudi Arabia's "Blank Check" for Atrocities, Sanders to Give Senate Yet Another Chance to Stop US Complicity in Yemen Massacre

"The recent disappearance and likely assassination of Jamal Khashoggi only underscores how urgent it has become for the United States to redefine our relationship with Saudi Arabia."

Months before Saudi Arabia was accused of sending a murder team to torture and assassinate Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the United States Senate had an opportunity to withdraw American military support for the kingdom's vicious, years-long assault on Yemen—but 45 Republicans and 10 Democrats joined hands to squander it.

However, now that the Saudis' latest atrocity has garnered international outrage and once more placed the spotlight on the brutal regime's disdain for human rights, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced on Monday that he plans to reintroduce his resolution to bring an immediate halt to U.S. complicity in Saudi Arabia's massacre of Yemeni civilians, with the goal of forcing senators who have expressed fury at Khashoggi's murder to finally act on their indignant words.

(A P)

Durbin opposes Saudi arms sale over missing journalist

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Sunday that President Trump should end the United States's arms deal with Saudi Arabia over the country's apparent role in the disappearance of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said in a statement Sunday that he spoke this weekend with Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, and told him that "he should expect a very negative response" if the country is complicit in Khashoggi's suspected death.

(* B P)

Two princes: Kushner now faces a reckoning for Trump’s bet on the heir to the Saudi throne

The president’s son-in-law has carefully cultivated a close partnership with the heir to the Saudi throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom Kushner has championed as a reformer poised to usher the ultraconservative, oil-rich monarchy into modernity.

But the U.S.-Saudi alliance — and the relationship between Kushner, 37, and Mohammed, 33 — is now imperiled by the un­explained disappearance and ­alleged gruesome murder of ­Jamal Khashoggi,

Kushner, however, has already signaled that he has no intention of turning his back on the crown prince, known by the initials MBS. Trump himself has threatened “extreme punishment” even while repeatedly casting doubt on the Saudi regime’s guilt and the effectiveness of tough measures.

But the Khashoggi crisis has become a reckoning for Kushner.

“I have a sense that they put all of their chips on the hope that the Saudis would be able to help the United States, not only in dealing with the challenges of terrorism, but also in dealing with peace in the Middle East,” said Leon Panetta, a defense secretary and CIA director under President Barack Obama.

Critics of the Trump administration say Kushner has been dangerously naive to trust Mohammed and has allowed himself to be manipulated by an ascendant royal who charms foreigners yet has been ruthless in consolidating power inside the kingdom.

One senior U.S. intelligence official said that Kushner has come under the influence of Mohammed’s simplistic view of power dynamics in the Middle East. “MBS has an elevator pitch,” this official said, that Kushner has bought into: Iran is the main enemy and the single obstacle to peace and stability in the Middle East.

The reality is far more complicated. But this official said Kushner has appeared uninterested in studying the nuances of security dilemmas in the region and has skipped some intelligence briefings before some high-stakes negotiations.

Kushner sold Trump and administration colleagues on the idea that Mohammed, like Kushner, was a reformer looking to shake up old alliances and break up corrupt power blocs within his country.

Trump is expected to soon present a reworked package, but it is not clear whether the Saudis will provide the diplomatic backing and financial support that Kushner has sought.

“It all smacks of a massive naivete on his part that he could sit down with MBS and figure out Middle East peace and a broader framework” involving Arab states that want a durable solution, said Thomas Wright, a senior fellow at the Project on International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution.

cp04 Internationale Reaktionen / International reactions

(* A P)

No surprise here: #Russia Putin sees no reason to downgrade relations with #SaudiArabia | Financial Times

(* B P)

Britain must hold the Saudis to account for Jamal Khashoggi

Imagine how this government would have reacted if last weekend either Russia or Iran had abducted – and in all likelihood murdered – one of their dissident journalists within the sovereign territory of another country.

In fact, we do not need to imagine it. We need only look back five months to the faked assassination of the Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko on the streets of Kiev. It took the then foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, less than 24 hours to issue an official statement not only saying how appalled he was, but leaving no doubt that the Russian state was responsible and saying it must be held to account.

Roll forward to the disappearance of the Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi from his country’s consulate in Istanbul. From the time he went missing on 2 October, it took Johnson’s successor, Jeremy Hunt, seven days to issue a tweet saying he was seeking urgent answers from the Saudi authorities, and that “if media reports prove correct, the government will treat the incident seriously”.

That is the definition of far too little, far too late. But that is the pattern when it comes to this government’s relationship with the current Saudi regime, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

When Robin Cook set out to apply an “ethical dimension” to British foreign policy just over 20 years ago, it was arms sales to countries in the Middle East that he had in mind and when he was forced to drop that policy a few years later, to his great sadness, it was in part as a result of pressure over the impact on exports to Saudi Arabia.

The next Labour government, under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, will not make that compromise. It is time to end Britain’s blind spot on Saudi Arabia until Saudi Arabia is genuinely ready to change its ways – by Emily Thornberry, Labour, shadow secretary of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs

(A P)

Opposition Labour says UK should consider Saudi sanctions over Khashoggi

Britain should consider sanctions on Saudi Arabia if its response to questions over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is inadequate, Labour opposition finance spokesman John McDonnell said on Wednesday.

(A E P)

SAP to stay in Saudi Arabia, hopes for clarity on missing journalist

SAP, Europe’s most valuable tech company, will continue to do business in Saudi Arabia, a top executive told Reuters, saying he hoped the circumstances of the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are clarified.

(A P)

Germany delays decision on ministerial trip to Saudi

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he would delay a decision on whether to go through with a planned visit to Saudi Arabia until Riyadh had given more clarity on the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Maas said the trip, which had been intended as part of a push to repair strained relations with the desert kingdom, made no sense in the context of concerns over the fate of Khashoggi, whom Turkish authorities believe was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

(A P)

Europe may need to change Saudi policies over Khashoggi case: Merkel ally

Europe may need to amend its relations with Saudi Arabia, depending on the outcome of an investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday.

“We have a very ambivalent picture of Saudi Arabia, especially with what has happened in the Khashoggi case in recent days, and what emerges in the coming days will complete that picture. Europe may need to correct its policies toward Saudi Arabia,” Juergen Hardt, foreign policy spokesman for Merkel’s conservatives, told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.

(A P)

Dutch minister unlikely to attend Saudi conference after journalist's disappearance

Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said on Tuesday that he will most likely not attend a conference in Saudi Arabia after dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi went missing.

cp05 Propaganda

(A P)

Fall Jamal Khashoggi: Barbarischer Mord der Saudis oder Fake-News der Muslimbruderschaft?

Der Großteil der Berichte, die sich die Darstellung, Khashoggi wäre auf brutale Weise ermordet worden, stammt bislang jedoch auch explizit regierungsfreundlichen oder islamistischen türkischen Quellen – oder aus dem „Middle East Eye“, das der Muslimbruderschaft zugeordnet ist und von Kritikern als notorische „Fake-News-Schleuder“ gebrandmarkt wird.

Merin Kommentar: Ausgerechnet “Middle East Eye” als “Fake news Schleuder” zu klassifizieren, ist schon witzig. Im Vergleich dazu wären New York Times, Washington Post oder der ganze deutsche Medien-Mainstream ganze Fake-News-Universen. Und dann beist sich die Kritik an der Art und Weise fest, wie die türkischen Ermittler an die Audio-Aufnahme von Khashoggis Tod gelangt sein könnten; dass die Apple-Watch-Geschichte wohl nicht stimmt, ist aber eher nebensächlich. Ja, die Türken hatten wohl das Gebäude verwanzt.

(A P)

This is how the Saudis are portraying @JKhashoggi’s fiancee. Note how they’re deliberately showing her full-length photo for the purpose of demeaning her. They keep making fun of her looks. She’s a Muslim woman, like them (image)

(A P)

Exploiting the Khashoggi card

What’s certain is that the case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi whose fate is unknown to this day has become more of a political and a media blackmail “card” rather than a criminal case with a political scent.
It’s a card that several parties are tossing and squeezing, a piece of wood who everyone is hitting anyone they want with and their rivals! It’s a piece of wood which those swimming in several currents are paddling on!
It’s no longer about Jamal’s fate, what happened to him, who did what to him and who are “they” or about specifying pure legal responsibility. This is apart from the mysterious players in the story. This is no longer what’s important because what’s important has in fact happened in the media and political courts erected in the global Brotherhood and leftist media as they’ve taken their decision, issued their verdict, set the sanctions and adjourned the session!
Jamal bin Ahmad bin Hamza Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who wrote and preached for a strategic relationship between the Saudi state and the Brotherhood and who nominated himself as an extraordinary envoy for this great task, was he expecting in the last turn of his career to become a card that international actors and groups will fully exploit and use to serve their aims?

In brief – and unfortunately – Jamal is neither the first nor the last journalist or political or activist that disappears or gets killed or goes missing in the world.

The point is, Saudi Arabia as a state, vision and command is greatly and persistently targeted by manifold international groups and blocs. It happened that this Jamal incident occurred during an American electoral season amid a deep rift and hostility between the Republicans, President Trump’s party, and the Democrats, who are his bitter adversaries. Hostility towards Saudi Arabia - Trump’s ally - thus became part of targeting Trump himself!
Whatever the result and fate of the investigation are, and which its formation was commended by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from Riyadh, many lessons must be learnt from this crisis on the media, diplomatic and cultural levels.
To those blaming Saudi media in particular or blaming those allied with Saudi Arabia, we say calm down – I do acknowledge there are real problems, not just on the media level – as what happened recently is much more worse, malicious and complicated.

(A P)

Saudi Arabia’s message: Enough is enough!

The mad campaign, and this is the sincerest description of it, against Saudi Arabia in the past few days required a firm response from Saudi Arabia, and so it happened.
It is unreasonable for foreign ministers in Europe or members of respectable parliaments, as well as in America, to agree with Al Jazeera channel’s nonsense and its anchors’ insults.
Even the campaigns of American leftist podiums, such as the Washington Post and the New York Times, in addition to British leftists newspapers, could have been confronted via the media itself or via the law in the case of legally detecting media “crimes”, which these podiums have committed under the headline of the case of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s “disappearance” in Turkey.

Mad accusations incited by dark hatred that leads the writers of these reports, some of which have been even written by global news agencies whom a journalist with a sectarian or political agenda against Saudi Arabia writes to. This is what we would find out if we examine the background of the writers of these reports and who are writing behind “foreign” fronts.

Provoking Saudi Arabia

What provoked Saudi anger is the blackmail of the state which embraces the qibla of Muslims, and which is the protector of the Two Holy Mosques and which is currently leading an Islamic orientation to eliminate all groups that are extremist and that distort religion and exploit it in the market of terror – groups which the Muslim Brotherhood is at the forefront of.

What do American Congressmen and other western politicians want Saudi Arabia to do?
To stop confronting the Muslim Brotherhood? To end its willingness to confront the rhetoric of extremism and “leftist” chaotic groups that support them?
This is impossible.
Hence, the decisive and clear Saudi response came in the statement published by the Saudi Press Agency and which quoted an “official source.” The warnings and clarifications were as such: “The kingdom rejects any threats and attempts to undermine it whether by alluding to economic sanctions, using political pressure or repeating false accusations.” The clearer warning stated: “Any action against the kingdom will be responded to with a greater reaction.”

(* A P)

5-year jail, 3 million fine for rumormongers

Sharing or spreading rumors or fake news that might affect public order and security is considered cybercrime punishable by 5-year imprisonment and SR 3 million fine, the Public Prosecution reiterated on Saturday.
It said that Article 6 of the Cybercrimes Regulations stipulates a maximum 5-year imprisonment and a maximum SR3 million fine or one of these two penalties for those who produce or spread or share electronically anything that breaches public order, religious values, public morals and privacy.
The same penalty will apply if such materials are prepared or sent electronically or stored on computer and in social media networks.

Comments: Saudi media is putting citizens on notice as Khashoggi crisis grows

Just to be clear talking about Jamal’s murder would be deemed a “rumor” and so now a crime in Saudi.

My comment: Only Saudi propaganda might be taken as fact, while facts are “rumour”.

(* A B P)

How to respond to Saudi Arabia after the Khashoggi disappearance

Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the U.S. and European states – the U.K. and France in particular – is multidimensional and comprises strong institutional links between militaries and intelligence agencies as well as in the education, finance and energy sectors, among others. It is far more than a simple transactional relationship based on oil and defense contracts – though their importance cannot be disputed.

Although not strictly allies, Riyadh’s partners are engaged in a long-term association that has tied together their common security, economic and trade interests as well as, arguably, a common pursuit for stability in the Middle East. This factor alone means that the U.S. and its allies cannot simply disengage and stop providing support to Saudi Arabia – defense sales are long-term, complex investments that cannot be turned off like a switch.

Like it or not, Saudi Arabia and its partners need one another; they share a long-held interdependency, and the U.S. in particular now considers Riyadh to be an important plank in its effort to push back against Iran. Moreover, the U.S. and European states have invested heavily in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (known as MBS) domestic reform project and a lot rests on its success – for the long-term stability of both the kingdom and the region. To that end, neither the U.S. nor its western European allies will wish to see the relationship with Saudi Arabia placed at risk or the reform agenda undermined.

My comment: What an US neocon view of the world! Of course, Saudi Arabia should stay a close ally. – Neither the US paranoia nor prince Salman’s “reform” agenda are questioned.

cp06 Weitere Folgen / Further implications

(* A B P)

The Irony of Turkey’s Crusade for a Missing Journalist

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has strangled the free press, but his country has emerged as the source of grisly information about Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Ankara’s response to Khashoggi’s disappearance can be broadly understood in two ways: as a manifestation of its fraught relationship with the Arab world over Erdoğan’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, and as a sign of the Turkish president’s deference to the Saudi royal family, the custodians of Islam’s holiest sites.

To understand Erdoğan’s relationship with the Arab world, you must first understand his Justice and Development Party (AKP), a movement that combines elements of the social conservatism of Islam with conservative politics.

As a result, the countries in the region see Erdoğan, along with Qatar, as the main supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood.

As a result, Turkey has become one of the safest places in the world for members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other dissidents from Egypt to the Gulf to Syria. But Khashoggi’s disappearance and, if Turkish leaks are to be believed, murder at the hands of a Saudi death squad inside the consulate are chilling developments.

Erdoğan’s ties with the Arab world may be tense, but his approach to Saudi Arabia is different. The Turkish president is a devout conservative Sunni Muslim and respects Saudi King Salman as the custodian of Islam’s two holy mosques. Revelations about the Khashoggi case are marked not only by their anonymity, but also by the fact that no senior Turkish officials have gone on the record about the case, and Erdoğan himself has mostly been quiet, perhaps hoping that a neat solution emerges that allows everyone to save face. We may be nearly there. President Donald Trump dispatched Mike Pompeo, the U.S. secretary of state, to Saudi Arabia and “other places if necessary” on Monday to resolve the impasse over Khashoggi’s fate.

Erdoğan is still hoping that the Saudis take the “exit ramp” and blame “rogue elements” or the deep state, and throw “someone important under the bus” for Khashoggi’s alleged murder, Cagaptay told me. The Turkish president does not want a rift with the Saudis because of his deference for the Saudi king, as well as because it will almost certainly rupture the already brittle Turkish economy.

“So I wouldn’t be surprised … if this ‘rogue elements’ rhetoric sticks and Erdoğan embraces it, as well,” Cagaptay said. “I would also not be surprised if, in the aftermath of it, the Saudis help Turkey financially and its economy.”

(* B P)

The Guardian view on Saudi Arabia: in need of new leadership

If the disappearance in Istanbul of journalist Jamal Khashoggi can be traced directly to the Saudi crown prince, it is time for a royal reshuffle

Saudi Arabia is facing its biggest diplomatic crisis with the west since the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers – and it is one almost certainly made by royal hands. The reason is that the disappearance of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi looks directly traceable to the government in Riyadh

Until now, western governments and businesses had mostly been willing to ignore human rights issues. But Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance signalled that even carefully argued criticism about growing repression in Saudi Arabia and the calamity in Yemen was seen as sufficient excuse for murder.

No wonder executives are pulling outof the kingdom’s annual “Davos in the Desert” shindig. Investors have also fled the Saudi stock market. The crown prince’s sobriquet MbS now sees him darkly mocked as Mr Bone Saw. In Britain and America leading lawmakers say it may be time for sanctions. In response the Saudis have threatened to weaponise their vast oil reserves and buy arms from Moscow.

Leaders can lose their minds in office. But rarely do they gain top positions when they have already lost the plot. King Salman ascended to the top job when rumours that he was suffering from dementia were rife. That is what makes Prince Mohammed’s position so concerning.

This latest episode ought to focus minds in Riyadh on the suitability of the crown prince for the top job

If he had any hand in the events of the past fortnight, it must be time for the House of Saud to find a fourth.

(* B P)

Saudi Princes Were Already Worried. The Khashoggi Scandal May Cause Full-Scale Panic.

New reports suggest that journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance has aggravated long-standing tensions within the royal family.

But recent confusion about the whereabouts of the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. suggests that the treatment of Khashoggi may have increased long-running tensions within the royal family over the abrasive leadership style of the crown prince, or MBS as he’s often called.

Ambassador Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s top official in Washington and a brother of MBS, left the U.S. last week and will not return to his post, The New York Times reported Monday night. CBS ran a similar report Tuesday morning. But then State Department officials told reporters for CBS and ABC they were not aware of any change. The Saudi Embassy in Washington did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The ambassador’s return to Riyadh would suggest that MBS’ inner circle is closing ranks. It’s the kind of small but crucial indicator that’s key to interpreting the state of relationships within the kingdom’s elite.

While MBS has successfully reshaped much of the Saudi political and military structure, many other princes continue to wield public influence because of their pedigree and extensive foreign contacts.

And some of those princes have been extremely unhappy with MBS.

A string of risky decisions by the crown prince ― a military campaign in Yemen, a rift with neighbor Qatar and now the alleged targeting of Khashoggi ― have convinced many experts that his leadership style is a risk to the very stability of the kingdom.

For MBS, an even greater loss of faith could pose a serious risk. There’s precedent for members of the house of Saud to turn on one of their own for what they see as the greater good.

It doesn’t help that much of the criticism over Khashoggi’s disappearance from lawmakers in the U.S., who are key to approving the American security assistance and cooperation the Saudis rely on, has been directly targeted at the prince, who U.S. intelligence says personally ordered a plan to capture Khashoggi. In a nightmare scenario for the prince, power brokers in Washington could offer Riyadh a deal that would keep the U.S.-Saudi relation intact in exchange for a public exit for the prince. For the family, this could be a make-or-break moment: Do what’s necessary or accept being cowed and maybe ultimately losing it all.

Assertive princes would likely be worried about whether their allies in the West would firmly stand by them throughout the power change.

Yet, at this point, it’s unclear whether MBS’s rivals stand a chance.

(* B P)

Commentary: Will Khashoggi case bring down Saudi’s crown prince?

Now, the kingdom appears to be making an effort to absolve bin Salman of the action against Khashoggi, though it has long been clear that the crown prince has gathered all but absolute power in his hands, particularly over security issues. At the same time, MbS may have vastly misjudged the power of Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, whom the Saudi prince has cultivated so assiduously defend the interests of Saudi Arabia in the U.S. Congress and beyond.

Riyadh certainly has never been known for its respect for human rights. But even Saudi Arabia hasn’t typically operated in such an unrestrained way. What’s changed? Part of it is a new generation of leaders trying to muscle their way into power. Still, it may be too early to predict with certainty whether this new-look leadership will revert to the royals’ more trusted old style of slow, evolutionary progress toward goals designed to preserve rather than shatter the status quo. MbS, it would seem, may simply be unready to assume the reins of power.

Now, however, with MbS having skipped much of a generation – passing over the vast bulk of the grandchildren of King ibn Saud – the Khashoggi affair could prove to be quite an existential threat to MbS’s plan to succeed to the Saudi monarchy and break the stranglehold on power so long held by his elders.

The central question, all but ignored at this point in the Khashoggi scandal, is whether Saudi Arabia might be brought back into line, or whether it is headed for a true pariah-state status?

Already, MbS has lost some key allies or supporters who should be central to his aims.

Whether MbS is actually the individual able to take up the challenge of reforming Saudi Arabia and leading it is becoming increasingly questionable. The fact is, he rules neither alone nor unchallenged. There is a process and there are certain red lines that MbS may have crossed in the Khashoggi affair if he is to win the support of leading royals.

For now, Riyadh has tied itself to one individual, its crown prince, who seems to be on the verge of tarnishing this carefully crafted image. Trump still basks in the royal welcome he received in Riyadh within months of taking office, while his son-in-law Kushner has spent hours in phone calls and meetings cementing his personal relationship with the crown prince. Yet in the end, how central MbS should be to America’s broader goals in the region remains questionable.

(* B P)

Who’s Got the Guts to Call for a BDS Movement Against Saudi Arabia?

So the West has belatedly realized, after the brazen murder of Jamal Khashoggi, that the Riyadh regime is a cruel, nepotistic and corrupt klepto-theocracy. But unlike in the case of Israel, that won't spark a sanctions campaign

Trump denies 'financial interests' in Saudi Arabia - history tells a different story

Will the Khashoggi 'murder' bring down Saudi’s crown prince?

Trump, Jr. spreads right-wing smear that 'murdered' Saudi journalist supports 'jihadists'

Saudis threaten global economic repercussions if punished for 'murdered' journalist

By ordering an operation like the Kashoggi abduction, MBS seems to be acting on the assumption that his country is still so powerful as to be able to act with impunity even when committing crimes on another nation’s soil. But he’s mistaken.

The days of untrammeled Gulf kingdom oil power are over. Thanks to a glut on the market, the wider availability of natural gas, fracking and other changes in the way the energy industry operates the United States has attained a degree of energy independence. Moreover, the imbalance in the relationship between Washington and Riyadh has tiled back in the former’s favor with the latter far more dependent on American power to defend the Gulf region against Iran and other Islamist foes.

Even if that were not the case, Saudi economic influence is still such that it isn’t likely that that the West will care enough about Kashoggi or Yemen to risk the costs of a genuine confrontation, as opposed to a symbolic slap on MBS’ wrists.

But the most likely outcome of the Kashoggi murder is that far from generating a BDS push on Riyadh, the world will reaffirm the notion that strategic alliances against even more loathsome enemies - a lesson that the West illustrated when it made common cause with Josef Stalin against Nazi Germany - will always overcome even the most serious concerns about human rights.

(** B P)

Murder in the Middle East

Saudi Arabia is ostracized after many poor decisions by its crown prince – now accused of orchestrating a journalist’s murder

The disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul will have long-lasting implications for the region and especially for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The grisliness of the affair has already tarnished the reputation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, perhaps irredeemably. The Trump administration’s ambivalent response is a measure of the huge stakes at risk for Washington.

For the last four years MBS sought to portray himself as a reformer who understands the kingdom must change to survive.

The mirage is now shattered. The crown prince is a reckless and dangerous disrupter. He shakes down his subjects for their wealth, detains women activists who demand rights, mutes the former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in house arrest and tries to bully countries from Canada to Lebanon. The pattern of behavior has been obvious for years, but the veil only fell in Istanbul.

Oil reserves, the world’s second largest, means countries must deal with Saudi Arabia, and it is unlikely King Salman will hold his son accountable. But the crown prince faces global condemnation, making the kingdom an increasingly shaky partner.

Western powers likely do not want to be seen embracing an accused murderer who uses diplomatic facilities to exterminate his critics. The fawning photo ops and glowing reviews are over, and the kingdom is weaker. It will be harder than ever to convince skeptical legislators in Washington, London, Ottawa and other capitals to approve arms sales to a thuggish monarchy. Demands for war crimes tribunals will intensify.

Iran is a winner from the crime in Istanbul despite its own awful record of abusing journalists and sponsoring terrorism.

Responding to Trump’s vague talk of “severe punishment” for Khashoggi’s murder, the crown prince has promised severe punishment for any attempt to sanction him and Saudi Arabia for the disappearance. The Saudis risk creating an ever deepening divide and self-reinforcing isolation with the world community. But they also can’t admit the truth. One possible attempt is blaming the murder on “rogue elements,” to which Trump alluded. The usually vocal and articulate foreign minister is avoiding the media.

The United States and the United Kingdom have enormous leverage with Saudi Arabia due to the arms relationship. The Royal Saudi Air Force is totally dependent on spare parts, maintenance, upgrades, expertise and munitions from Washington and London. The Istanbul incident is an opportunity to press the king to unilaterally cease fire in Yemen and fulfill Jamal Khashoggi’s last wish to restore Saudi dignity – by Bruce Riedel

(* B P)

Saudi Arabia: Is this the end of Mohammed Bin Salman's honeymoon?

A lot has changed. The warning signs that MBS may not be quite the liberal reformer the West had hoped for came when he arbitrarily locked up dozens of princes and business figures last year in a luxury hotel, accusing them of corruption. He briefly detained Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri, allegedly forcing him to resign. He also ordered the arrest of anyone who dared to question his reform agenda, even with just a simple tweet.

But it was the deeply suspicious disappearance inside the Saudi consulate on 2 October of his most prominent critic, Jamal Khashoggi, that has caused even his close ally Donald Trump to talk of "severe punishment" if Saudi government guilt is proven. We can retaliate in kind, came the Saudi response on Sunday, reminding the world of their decisive role in the oil market.

Encouraged by the state-controlled media, many Saudis have rallied round their leadership. There is even a popular rumour that what happened in Istanbul is all a plot by Qatar and Turkey to discredit the blameless Saudi kingdom. But privately, others are now questioning whether the 33-year old prince, the man once hailed as a visionary saviour of Saudi Arabia, has gone too far.

(* A E P)

West-Saudi tensions lift safe havens; stocks slip

Major stock markets slipped on Monday as rising tensions between Western powers and Saudi Arabia added to concerns over economic growth, with investors flocking to traditional safe havens like the Japanese and Swiss currencies, as well as gold.

(A E P)

Dutch cancel Saudi trade mission over missing journalist: spokeswoman

The Dutch government on Thursday canceled a trade mission to Saudi Arabia next month due to concerns over the disappearance of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a spokeswoman said.

“All trade missions to the country have been suspended for now”, a spokeswoman for PSPS Consultants, which had organized the trip for the government, told Reuters.

(A E P)

French finance minister to shun Saudi conference over missing journalist

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire added his name to a growing list of government ministers and prominent business executives cancelling their attendance at a Saudi Arabia investment conference over the fate of a Saudi journalist.

(A E P)

Glencore chair Tony Hayward latest to drop out of Saudi conference

(A E P)

Christine Lagarde: IMF chief won't attend Saudi event

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde will not attend an investment conference in Riyadh, as global concern over the disappearance of a Saudi journalist grows.

A spokesperson said Ms Lagarde's planned trip to the Middle East "is being deferred"

(A E P)

SocGen CEO cancels attendance at Saudi Arabia investment conference

The chief executive of French bank Societe Generale has canceled his attendance at a Saudi Arabia investment conference, as leading business executives pull out amid widespread concern about the fate of a Saudi journalist.

(A E P)

Europe's top bankers shun Saudi investment conference

The bosses of some of Europe’s biggest banks and finance firms have pulled out of a high-profile investment conference in Saudi Arabia, joining a growing list of business chiefs to abandon the event amid widespread concern about the fate of a journalist.

The chief executives of HSBC, Standard Chartered, Credit Suisse and the London Stock Exchange, as well as the Chairman of BNP Paribas withdrew on Tuesday from the Future Investment Initiative.

(A E P)

More banking executives pull out of Saudi investment conference

The chief executives of HSBC, Standard Chartered and Credit Suisse have pulled out of a high profile conference in Saudi Arabia next week, the latest business leaders to abandon the event amid widespread concern about the fate of a journalist.

(A E P)

Google latest to withdraw from Saudi conference

Alphabet Inc’s Google on Monday became the latest company to drop out of a business conference in Saudi Arabia.

(A E P)

BlackRock and Blackstone CEOs withdraw from Saudi conference: source

BlackRock Chief Executive Larry Fink and Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman will no will no longer attend a high profile conference in Saudi Arabia.


(A E P)

BlackRock's Fink says will not cut ties with Saudi Arabia

BlackRock Inc Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink said on Tuesday that he would not cut ties with Saudi Arabia even as pressure mounts on the country to explain the disappearance of a prominent critic.

Asked on CNBC if he would cut off all business ties with Saudi Arabia if it became clear that King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud or Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered Khashoggi’s murder, Fink said, “No.”

Fink has long had relationships with Saudi officials and one year ago announced plans to open offices within the country.

(A E P)

Bain Capital co-chairman pulls out of Saudi conference: source

(A E P)

Saudi Arabia to hold investment forum despite key speakers pulling out

Saudi Arabia will go ahead with a major investment conference planned later this month despite key speakers and partners pulling out after the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a statement from the organizers said on Monday.

cp07 Erinnerung an Khashoggi / Remembering Khashoggi

(** B P)

Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression

A note from Karen Attiah, Global Opinions editor

I received this column from Jamal Khashoggi’s translator and assistant the day after Jamal was reported missing in Istanbul. The Post held off publishing it because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together. Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post. This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world. A freedom he apparently gave his life for. I will be forever grateful he chose The Post as his final journalistic home one year ago and gave us the chance to work together.

I was recently online looking at the 2018 “Freedom in the World” report published by Freedom House and came to a grave realization. There is only one country in the Arab world that has been classified as “free.” That nation is Tunisia. Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait come second, with a classification of “partly free.” The rest of the countries in the Arab world are classified as “not free.”

As a result, Arabs living in these countries are either uninformed or misinformed. They are unable to adequately address, much less publicly discuss, matters that affect the region and their day-to-day lives. A state-run narrative dominates the public psyche, and while many do not believe it, a large majority of the population falls victim to this false narrative. Sadly, this situation is unlikely to change.

The Arab world was ripe with hope during the spring of 2011. Journalists, academics and the general population were brimming with expectations of a bright and free Arab society within their respective countries. They expected to be emancipated from the hegemony of their governments and the consistent interventions and censorship of information. These expectations were quickly shattered; these societies either fell back to the old status quo or faced even harsher conditions than before.

My dear friend, the prominent Saudi writer Saleh al-Shehi, wrote one of the most famous columns ever published in the Saudi press. He unfortunately is now serving an unwarranted five-year prison sentence for supposed comments contrary to the Saudi establishment.

The Arab world needs a modern version of the old transnational media so citizens can be informed about global events. More important, we need to provide a platform for Arab voices. We suffer from poverty, mismanagement and poor education. Through the creation of an independent international forum, isolated from the influence of nationalist governments spreading hate through propaganda, ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face – By Jamal Khashoggi

(** B P)

For Khashoggi, a Tangled Mix of Royal Service and Islamist Sympathies

While the disappearance has cast a harsh new light on the crown prince, it has also brought attention to the tangled sympathies throughout Mr. Khashoggi’s career, where he balanced what appears to have been a private affinity for democracy and political Islam with his long service to the royal family.

The idea of self-exile in the West was a blow for Mr. Khashoggi, 60, who had worked as a reporter, commentator and editor to become one of the kingdom’s best known personalities. He first drew international attention for interviewing a young Osama bin Laden and later became well-known as a confidant of kings and princes.

His career left him extraordinarily well-connected, and the tall, gregarious, easygoing man seemed to know everyone who had anything to do with Saudi Arabia over the last three decades.

According to interviews with dozens of people who knew Mr. Khashoggi and his relationship with the Saudi leadership, it was his penchant for writing freely, and his organizing to push for political reform from abroad, that put him on a collision course with the crown prince.

Many of Mr. Khashoggi’s friends say that throughout his career of service to the monarchy, he hid his personal leanings in favor of both electoral democracy and Muslim Brotherhood-style political Islam.

By the time he reached his 50s, Mr. Khashoggi‘s relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood was ambiguous. Several Muslim Brothers said this week that they always felt he was with them. Many of his secular friends would not have believed it.

Mr. Khashoggi never called for more than gradual reforms to the Saudi monarchy, eventually supporting its military interventions to deter what the Saudis considered Iranian influence in Bahrain and Yemen. But he was enthusiastic about the uprisings that broke out across much of the Arab world in 2011.

Like the Afghan jihad before them, however, the movements of the Arab Spring disappointed him as they collapsed into violence and as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates used their wealth to crush opposition and bolster autocrats.

“He never liked that Saudi Arabia used their policies accelerating the crackdown around the region,” said Sigurd Neubauer, a Middle East analyst in Washington who knew Mr. Khashoggi.

The kingdom’s tolerance for even minimal criticism faded after King Salman ascended to the throne in 2015 and gave tremendous power to his son, Mohammed, the crown prince known informally by his initials as M.B.S.

The young prince announced a program to diversify the economy and loosened social structures, including by granting women the right to drive.

Mr. Khashoggi applauded those moves, but chafed at the authoritarian way the prince wielded power.

Crown Prince Mohammed went after his critics with all his power, barring them from travel and throwing some in jail. Mr. Khashoggi left the kingdom last year, before scores of his friends were rounded up and hundreds of prominent Saudis were locked in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton on accusations of corruption. A number of them, including at least two sons of former kings, are still detained.

Mr. Khashoggi began contributing columns to The Washington Post, comparing Crown Prince Mohammed to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Mr. Khashoggi’s friends assumed such writing landed him on the prince’s blacklist.

“Mohammed bin Salman had been paying millions of dollars to create a certain image of himself, and Jamal Khashoggi was destroying all of it with just a few words,” said Mr. Tamimi, the friend. “The crown prince must have been furious.”

But Mr. Khashoggi didn’t stop.

He was planning to start a website to publish translated reports about the economies of Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, where he felt many people did not understand the scale of corruption or the limited future of the oil wealth.

He was also founding an organization called Democracy in the Arab World Now, or DAWN, an advocacy group. Mr. Khashoggi was trying to secure funding and set up a board when he disappeared, friends said.

Since his move to Washington, representatives of Crown Prince Mohammed had contacted him repeatedly, asking him to tone down his criticisms and inviting him to come home, he told friends – By Ben Hubbard and David D. Kirkpatrick

from 2017:

(* B P)

Film: CrossTalk: Saudi Roulette

The political crisis inflicted upon Lebanon by Saudi Arabia appears to have receded – at least for now. Is this the sign of things to come? As the Saudi royal family changes, so does Saudi Arabia and the region. Is it time to buckle up and brace for impact? CrossTalking with Jamal Khashoggi, Sharmine Narwani, and Mohammad Marandi.

18:36 18.10.2018
Dieser Beitrag gibt die Meinung des Autors wieder, nicht notwendigerweise die der Redaktion des Freitag.
Geschrieben von

Dietrich Klose

Vielfältig interessiert am aktuellen Geschehen, zur Zeit besonders: Ukraine, Russland, Jemen, Rolle der USA, Neoliberalismus, Ausbeutung der 3. Welt
Schreiber 0 Leser 22
Dietrich Klose