Saturday, October 20, 2018

SWAMP KEEPER TRUMP CLAIMS 'FAKE NEWS IS MAKING PEOPLE GO LOCO'..... Then he claims the Saudis didn't do it!

Khashoggi: A Political Murder or a Convenient Excuse?

Media outrage directed against Saudi Arabia is boiling following the apparent murder of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are demanding that President Trump hold Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) responsible for the Washington Post "journalist's" death.  (I place quotes around "journalist" because Khashoggi was no reporter, but rather an opinion columnist who reliably carried water for the Islamist movement for his entire adult life.)
Meanwhile, the president of Turkey saw a perfect opportunity in this crime to overshadow his public embarrassment, having unceremoniously caved to pressure from President Trump to release American pastor Andrew Brunson.
As usual, when dealing with the Saudi government in particular and the Middle East generally, there is more here than meets the eye.  It is wise to support Trump's wishes to ensure that all facts are on the table before accusing an ally of a political murder, and certainly before any consideration be given to an American response.  
Contrary to the suggestion from the left that Trump has a personal affection for the sharia-abiding dictator, MBS, or that an agenda is in play to protect his personal financial holdings in the kingdom, the stark reality remains that these flimsy attempts at narrative-building don't jibe with facts. 
The president's former life as a businessman, complete with his lavish hotels and flashy business model, are far too provocative for Saudi sixth-century cultural sensitivities.  His holdings in the kingdom are miniscule compared to not only his total wealth, but also the money Trump loses every year by making America great again rather than tending to his business empire.  During Trump's last four rallies, he even went so far as to publicly humiliate the Saudi royal family.  Hardly the behavior of a Saudi vassal.
There is a far stronger case to be made that our president is fighting for America's interests, not his own, and that is no less true in his dealings with Mohammed bin Salman.  He recognizes that MBS is a useful ruler and has deftly leveraged the Saudi crown prince's hunger for power, wealth, and Western approval to the benefit of the United States and Israel – and, by extension, the entire Mideast.
Here are the reasons to believe this.
First, MBS is working with Trump on a major deal regarding Israel. Included is a peace treaty between the Arabs and Israel that may bring long sought stability to the Middle East. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem with MBS's cooperation was the first step of this proposed peace plan.
Furthermore, MBS has aided the U.S. and Israel by diffusing and opposing the aggression of Iran.  The prince has built coalitions between the Saudi government and the Emirates to ensure that sanctions against Iran will cause no disastrous ripple within oil markets.  To that end, he increased his own oil production by nearly ten percent to offset the shortage caused by the sanctions.
He is working tirelessly to defang the Islamist movement driven by the Muslim Brotherhood, first by outlawing the organization within his country and wholly supporting Egyptian president el-Sisi's similar actions in Egypt.  He has put more than five hundred Islamic religious leaders under house arrest and has forbidden the grand imam of the Kaaba to pray for the destruction of the Jews, an ancient tradition followed without break since the time of Muhammad.  
It is no mystery why Trump is working with MBS.  The benefits are tangible and the reasons legion.
The more salient question is why Khashoggi was ever hired by the Washington Post.  Equally of interest is why he was allowed to both live and work in the United States, given his long, undeniable association with both terrorists and the international Muslim Brotherhood.
Jamal Khashoggi is not the innocent journalist the Washington Post would have you believe.
Khashoggi, before his fame as a journalist, was into international illegal arms-dealing.  He became a sworn member of the Muslim Brotherhood during his time in Egypt.  He was a close friend of Osama bin Laden and fought alongside him in Afghanistan.
His association with America's mortal enemy was no secret.  Khashoggi outed himself in numerous articles he wrote praising and advocating for al-Qaeda and bin Laden, leading some to wonder how a man with this kind of past managed to enter the United States, much less live and work here.
The media are again ignoring the facts.  True to form, they rush to condemn MBS without waiting for evidence.  Everything we know of the alleged murder comes from Turkish state-run media, and all of that has been leaked to them by Turkish security forces loyal to Turkish president Erdoğan, a known Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer and ally with an axe to grind against MBS and Saudi Arabia.
Is it because MBS's alliance with the U.S., Egypt and the Emirates is delivering a crushing blow to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement, Iran, and the anti-Israel contingent?  Is the perennial girl-left-without-a-date Erdoğan hosting this operation in the hopes of separating MBS from his Western allies and regional friends?
Without any substantial evidence to add credibility to their claims, the media say a group of intelligent, high-ranking Saudi officers killed Khashoggi while at the embassy in Turkey, on the direct orders of MBS.
It strains credulity to believe THAT the same man who coordinated the arrest of more than three hundred Muslim Brotherhood-supporting members of the royal family, all on the same day without a single leak or hiccup, would behave so clumsily in allegedly ridding himself of a writer who, in all honesty, didn't really have anywhere near the impact on Saudi affairs his former colleagues now ascribe to his memory.
Were MBS indeed responsible, he has the resources to make sure the job was done in a quieter, cleaner manner.
His ability to wield significant power with amazing rapidity was evident with his arrest of the aforementioned terror-supporting royals and the Wahhabist imams they sponsor, including, most notably, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, founder of the Islamic Centers at Harvard and Georgetown University, and the man allegedly responsible for helping former president Obama get into Harvard.
Also among the arrested was the founder of the Saudi intelligence agency, Muhammad bin Nayef.  Given the circumstances surrounding the alleged murder and the motivations of all involved, it appears that rather than perpetrating the deed, MBS is the patsy in an attempt to discredit and remove him from power.  It is entirely likely that the alleged murder being pinned on MSB was the first element of a coup attempt against the Saudi royal family.
If the Trump administration rushes headlong to judgment, as is urged by many on both sides of the aisle, he will reinforce the skewed narrative of the mainstream media and expose his most powerful Arab ally, MBS, to the predations of the Islamist movement, strengthening the hand of the Muslim Brotherhood and ensuring that terrorism and the ideology of Islamic supremacy remain the chief export of the Mideast for years to come.
It will truly be a sad day for America if we allow that to happen, especially in response to the death of a not so innocent man.

Joe Herring writes from Omaha, Neb. and welcomes visitors to his website,
Dr. Mark Christian is an Egyptian-born former Muslim who is the founder and executive director of the Global Faith Institute.

Donald Trump: The ‘Fake News’ Media Are Making People Go ‘Loco’


President Donald Trump attacked the “fake news” media for making people go “loco” at a rally in Nevada Saturday.

Trump joked about how he will be criticized for calling women at his rallies “beautiful” because the media will “go wild” over it.
“I’ll tell you, these people have lost their way–they’ve gone loco, headed by the crowd of fake news,” Trump said. “I’ll tell you, honestly, the single greatest ally that the Democrats have is the fake news media.”
“Because without that, these crazy ideas, I can’t believe they’d go anywhere. You know, if I had the media on my side, and with what we’ve accomplished – because nobody’s done more than all of us, nobody’s done more,” he added.
“If they were on my side, I think I’d be at 100 percent right now. I really believe that,” he added.
Trump has often blasted the media for bias while out on the campaign trail ahead of the 2018 midterms.
Last month, Trump said that the media were “still crying” over the results of the 2016 election.
“I can’t tell you how dishonest and corrupt so much of the media is. I can’t even explain it, impossible to explain. Nobody would believe it,” he said.


see below!

"I doubt that Trump understands -- or cares about -- what message he's sending. Wealthy Saudis, including members of the extended royal family, have been his patrons for years, buying his distressed properties when he needed money. In the early 1990s, a Saudi prince purchased Trump's flashy yacht so that the then-struggling businessman could come up with cash to stave off personal bankruptcy, and later, the prince bought a share of the Plaza Hotel, one of Trump's many business deals gone bad. Trump also sold an entire floor of his landmark Trump Tower condominium to the Saudi government in 2001."

Republicans break ranks with Trump over Saudi dissident’s death

Senator calls account of Jamal Khashoggi’s demise in fist fight ‘bizarre’

 Police barricades in front of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Scorn and disbelief at Saudi Arabia’s official explanation of the death of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi mounted over the weekend, despite US president Donald Trump dubbing Riyadh’s belated confession that he had died “credible”.
Speaking to reporters in Nevada, Trump said that it was possible that the Saudi leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had been unaware of the death.

In America it became increasingly clear that top Republicans did not share their president’s view of Saudi claims. Riyadh said the journalist was killed in a “fist fight” as part of a rendition attempt gone wrong, after denying for weeks that he had come to any harm in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Florida senator Marco Rubio called the Saudi account of the journalist’s death “bizarre” and slammed authorities in Riydah for their lack of transparency. “Saudi Arabia’s changing stories on Khashoggi’s murder is getting old,” he wrote on Twitter.
Along with other senior US politicians, Rubio said he would insist on a full investigation by US intelligence, and called for those responsible to face sanctions under the Magnitsky Act, legislation named after a murdered Russian lawyer which punishes Russian human rights offenders.
Saudi Arabia released its account of Khashoggi’s death on the state news agency. It claimed the 59-year-old had got into a fight with 15 officials sent to bring him back to Saudi Arabia by force, including several members of the security forces.
His body was disposed of by a “local collaborator”, officials later added. That claim allowed Saudi officials to disassociate themselves from the search for remains, which could potentially contradict their account.
Turkish authorities have presented an entirely different version of Khashoggi’s last moments. In details slowly leaked to international and national press, investigators alleged the journalist was tortured and murdered and his body dismembered with a bone saw.

 Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who is believed to have been murdered in the Saudi consulate. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

They have provided details of 15 men who arrived in Istanbul from Riyadh on private jets owned by the Saudi royal family on the day of Khashoggi’s death, who included members of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s security staff and a well-known forensics expert.
The Republican chair of the powerful Senate foreign relations committee, Bob Corker, also questioned the Saudi account.
“The story the Saudis have told about Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance continues to change with each passing day, so we should not assume their latest story holds water,” he said.
“The US administration must make its own independent, credible determination of responsibility for Khashoggi’s murder under the Global Magnitsky investigation.”

Under the law, the administration has 120 days from the day the Senate invoked Global Magnitsky, 10 October, to present the results of an investigation and a decision on sanctions.
Khashoggi was a Saudi national but a US permanent resident, and wrote a regular column for the Washington Post. Saudi Arabia had been under significant pressure from the White House to offer an explanation in the escalating diplomatic crisis.
Its eventual account appeared designed to protect the crown prince – the country’s de facto ruler – by painting a picture of failure in an operation run without his direct knowledge.

Simon Tisdall

Read more
The statements said 18 men had been arrested in connection with the “cover-up” and two senior officials, who were also close confidantes of the crown prince, had been sacked.
Saudi Arabia’s allies in the region expressed support for the explanation. Trump described it as “credible” and the UK, another ally, cautiously acknowledged the Saudi version of events.

Read more
A statement from the Foreign Office said the government was considering its next steps.
But it was not clear the explanation, the sackings and claimed arrests would contain the damage to Riyadh. Its account raises serious questions, and the abrupt admission of murder after two weeks insisting Khashoggi had left the consulate alive have shredded Riyadh’s credibility.
The UN secretary general António Guterres was “deeply troubled”, a spokesman said. He called for “a prompt, thorough and transparent investigation into the circumstances of Khashoggi‘s death and full accountability for those responsible”.
The human rights group Amnesty International questioned the Saudi account and the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Joel Simon, derided Riyadh’s account as “ridiculous”. Both called for an impartial international investigation.
Friends and colleagues of Khashoggi added a personal note to calls for justice when they resumed a vigil outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where he was killed, mourning his death and demanding “true justice” for those responsible.
However Donald Trump’s son, Eric Trump, signalled continued Trump family support, insisting in an interview on Fox News that US-Saudi relations were too commercially and strategically important to allow the murder of a journalist to affect them.
“What are you going to do?” he asked. “You’re going to take [that relationship] and you’re going to throw all of that away?”

No one is convinced by the Saudi story of a ‘fistfight’ that went wrong

Jamal Khashoggi’s death leaves the crown prince’s reputation in the west in tatters, however much Trump says otherwise



 Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, in Riyadh last week with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Photograph: Bandar Algaloud Handout/EPA

This is where truth and realpolitik collide. Saudi Arabia’s belated, incomplete and highly tendentious explanation for the death of Jamal Khashoggi is barely credible, and will certainly be dismissed by critics of the Saudi regime and by the journalist’s friends and supporters as an ugly fabrication or, at the very least, a gross distortion of the facts.
But for western governments, first and foremost the US, the statement in the early hours of Saturday from Riyadh claiming that Khashoggi was unintentionally killed in a “fist fight” offers a possible way out of a diplomatic crisis that has threatened to disrupt, or even destroy, a political, security and financial relationship they regard as vital to their national interests.

The question is: will they swallow the lie?
It’s been clear for some days that Donald Trump, whose entire Middle East policy pivots on Saudi Arabia and on the Khashoggi affair’s chief suspect, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been looking for a way to defuse and preferably bury the case. But his feeble attempts at exculpation were not working.
Trump needed a more convincing story. Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, who dashed to Riyadh last week on a firefighting mission, may have provided it. The notoriously unbiddable crown prince was finally persuaded he had to come up with his own narrative or risk further, potentially crippling, damage to his own and his country’s reputation.
Bin Salman has now tried. But his paltry effort is wholly unconvincing. His is a story heaving with the sort of gaps and inconsistencies that Miss Marple, or any amateur detective, would demolish in minutes.
Khashoggi was a 59-year-old journalist, not a prize fighter. The squad of Saudi kidnappers who laid in wait for him at the Istanbul consulatereportedly numbered 15. How many goons does it take to subdue a lone, middle-aged reporter? And why did his killers require a bone saw and a forensics specialist if they just wanted to talk?
Why did Bin Salman and his officials wait almost two weeks before admitting Khashoggi was dead, if his killing was not deliberate? Why all those staunch denials of involvement and the repeated, on-the-record assertions that Khashoggi had left the consulate unscathed, if they knew all along that he had died?
Why has Khashoggi’s body disappeared? If his death was an unintended accident, why was an ambulance not called and the police informed? The Saudi statements offer no clue as to where Khashoggi’s remains may be now. Turkish assertions that he was dismembered, smuggled out of the building in suitcases and buried in a forest near Istanbul will now be more widely accepted.
It is hard to believe, too, that the two senior officials, close advisers to Bin Salman, who have been sacked for supposedly conducting, or mishandling, a rogue operation, took any significant decisions without the crown prince’s prior knowledge.
Bin Salman is the kingdom’s most powerful man. a fearsome autocrat with near-dictatorial powers. NNobody goes behind his back. If the rendition operation went wrong, for any reason, he would surely have been the first to know.

More information about Khashoggi’s final hours may emerge in the coming days. But Trump has already seized on the latest statements as a way of salvaging the sinking Saudi ship. He has invested too much personal capital in Bin Salman to let him go under. And, truth be told, the man who decries reporters as “enemies of the people” has never much cared about journalistic welfare or the freedom of the press.
The hope that the western democracies will fundamentally recalibrate their relationship with Riyadh as a result of the Khashoggi killing is probably unrealistic. Once they see what the US plans to do or not do, European countries, including Britain, will likely take their cue from Washington.
But a realpolitik policy of letting the dust settle, limiting sanctions, and returning to business as usual in due course may not be entirely feasible in this case.
The Khashoggi affair, by its exceptionally vivid and appalling nature, looks like permanently changing public perceptions of Saudi Arabia in a way its actions in Yemen, or its jailing of women’s rights activists, have not.
It has exploded Bin Salman’s spurious claims to be a reformer who is setting his country on a more enlightened path. His personal reputation is in shreds; his position is untenable by any normal, democratic reckoning. It has underscored the unelected, unrepresentative and, critics would say, illegitimate nature of the regime.
And it has exposed the lack of free speech and free media in Saudi Arabia and across the Arab world – lamented by Khashoggi in his last Washington Postcommentary.
It shows what can happen when influential people such as Trump vilify journalists and applaud their attackers.

Trump finds Saudi version of Khashoggi death ‘credible,’ touts arms deals with ‘great ally’

Trump finds Saudi version of Khashoggi death ‘credible,’ touts arms deals with ‘great ally’
Calling Saudi Arabia a crucial ally against Iran that purchases billions of dollars-worth of US weapons, Donald Trump lamented Khashoggi’s “unacceptable” death but praised Riyadh for making the first arrests in the ongoing probe.
“It is a good first step. It is a big step,” Trump said, admitting, though, that “some questions” do remain and that he will be dealing with Congress on how to proceed to address the issue.“Saudi Arabia has been a great ally but what happened is unacceptable,” Trump emphasized.
“I would prefer if there is going to be some form of sanction, or what we may determine to do if anything,” the president said. “But I would prefer that we don't use as retribution, canceling the $110 billion-worth of work, which means 600,000 jobs.”
“They have been a great ally in the Middle East. We need them as a counter-balance to Iran. So it's not the simplest solution. It's not the simplest situation to be in,” Trump reiterated, expressing hope that “it will get solved, it will get solved.”
Trump said he was going to call Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for more details and that Riyadh already promised him a “full report” into what happened to Khashoggi, a journalist who wrote for the Washington Post, after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. According to numerous reports citing Turkish officials familiar with the probe, the journalist was ambushed by Saudi agents, cruelly tortured and murdered.
When faced with a threat of potential retributions by the US and other world powers amid the widening outrage over its alleged complicity in Khashoggi's death, Riyadh finally admitted that the journalist lost his life in a “fistfight” inside the embassy. Amid the ongoing investigation, Saudi authorities also announced the detention of 18 suspects in the case. Furthermore, King Salman fired top spy officials and issued orders to overhaul the General Intelligence Agency, a task he assigned to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

‘Inadequate’: Europe dissatisfied with Riyadh’s Khashoggi death story, Berlin talks arms sale freeze

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pictured with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on April 30, 2017. © Reuters
Not satisfied with the Saudi story on how journalist Jamal Khashoggi died in Turkey, EU leaders are demanding an in-depth probe, with Germany's foreign minister saying that Berlin shouldn’t sell arms to Riyadh until it’s finished.
Germany, France, and the EU all said they want more from Saudi Arabia on Saturday, demanding a full investigation and "accountability" over Khashoggi’s death.
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French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Paris "condemns this murder in the strongest terms." He noted that while Riyadh's Friday night admission of the journalist's death is the "first step toward the establishment of truth," many questions still remain.
"The information available about events in the Istanbul consulate is inadequate," said a joint statement of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. They expect transparency and more answers from Riyadh about the circumstances surrounding the suspicious death, widely painted in media reports as a gruesome murder.
Maas stated separately that Berlin should not approve arms sales to Saudi Arabia until investigations into Khashoggi's death are completed.
"So long as investigations are underway, so long as we don't know what happened there, there is no reason to take positive decisions on arms exports to Saudi Arabia," he told German public television's Tagesthemen program.
The remarks from Europe came after Riyadh finally stated on Saturday, ending two weeks of denials, that Khashoggi was killed in a “fistfight” that occurred at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, while providing no evidence. Authorities also announced the detention of 18 suspects in the case.

But while Europe remains skeptical and insistent on clear answers, US President Donald Trump seemed mostly satisfied with Riyadh's confession on Saturday, once again calling the kingdom a "great ally." He did admit, however, that "some questions" remain and that he will be working with Congress on how to proceed to address the issue. 
Trump has repeatedly stated that the US hopes to keep its $450 billion arms deal with Riyadh, citing the money and jobs it is bringing to the US. He said on Friday that it would be "very hurtful" to the US if it was dropped, and previously said there were other ways of "punishing" Saudi Arabia if it were found to be behind Khashoggi's death.

Not buying it: Lawmakers & journalists skeptical of Saudi story about Khashoggi death 

Not buying it: Lawmakers & journalists skeptical of Saudi story about Khashoggi death — RT US News

Khashoggi was last seen on October 2 when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents for his forthcoming marriage. Turkey was quick to state that it had evidence that he was murdered inside the building, though Riyadh had adamantly denied that claim until Saturday. The case prompted a global backlash against Saudi Arabia, from governments to media organizations and business figures including Richard Branson and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.


I doubt that Trump understands -- or cares about -- what message he's sending. Wealthy Saudis, including members of the extended royal family, have been his patrons for years, buying his distressed properties when he needed money. In the early 1990s, a Saudi prince purchased Trump's flashy yacht so that the then-struggling businessman could come up with cash to stave off personal bankruptcy, and later, the prince bought a share of the Plaza Hotel, one of Trump's many business deals gone bad. Trump also sold an entire floor of his landmark Trump Tower condominium to the Saudi government in 2001.

‘Hope we can keep it’: Trump touts Saudi arms deal while talking sanctions over Khashoggi death

‘Hope we can keep it’: Trump touts Saudi arms deal while talking sanctions over Khashoggi death
US President Donald Trump has again warned that Saudi Arabia will face consequences if it was behind the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi – but he also suggested that Washington will not be axing its arms deal with Riyadh.
When a reporter, employing some lingo previously used by the president, asked Trump what "severe consequences"against Saudi Arabia would entail, the president had a rather vague answer.
"I think it's too early to say," he said, while stressing that it's "very serious stuff" and "something we don't like" if Riyadh was indeed behind Khashoggi's murder. He added that Congress would be involved when it came to determining an appropriate response.
However, he once again touted the arms deal between Washington and Riyadh, citing the $450 billion and 600,000 jobs it is bringing into the country, and adding that it would be "very hurtful" to the US if it was dropped.
"I hope we can keep that," he said.
When asked specifically whether sanctions might be considered, Trump said it was a possibility but declined to commit to implementing them. Instead, he said the US is first going to "find out who knew what, when, and where."
Trump went on to once-again call Saudi Arabia a "great ally" of the United States. "That's why this is so sad."
Khashoggi, a journalist with The Washington Post, was last seen on October 2 when he entered the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. Turkish officials have accused a Saudi assassination squad of murdering and dismembering his body. Riyadh says it is investigating the circumstances of his disappearance.
Trump's comments come just one day after he stated that it "certainly looks like" Khashoggi is dead, adding that whoever was behind his murder would face "severe consequences." 


The Saudi Challenge
Jamal Khashoggi's murder -- and no one now questions whether the Washington Post contributor was killed by Saudi agents in the kingdom's consulate in Turkey -- has far-reaching implications for the Trump administration. President Donald Trump appears to want to help sweep the incident under the rug, providing cover for the Saudis' ludicrous suggestion that the killing was a rogue operation or an interrogation gone awry. And he's enmeshed the highest officials of his administration in the mess by sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Riyadh, where the secretary was photographed, all smiles, sitting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who most likely ordered Khashoggi's murder. The administration is giving itself little leeway to take serious measures to protest the killing, signaling to the world that the U.S. cannot be counted on to stand up against bloodthirsty autocrats, even when a U.S. resident and member of the American press is the victim.
I doubt that Trump understands -- or cares about -- what message he's sending. Wealthy Saudis, including members of the extended royal family, have been his patrons for years, buying his distressed properties when he needed money. In the early 1990s, a Saudi prince purchased Trump's flashy yacht so that the then-struggling businessman could come up with cash to stave off personal bankruptcy, and later, the prince bought a share of the Plaza Hotel, one of Trump's many business deals gone bad. Trump also sold an entire floor of his landmark Trump Tower condominium to the Saudi government in 2001. During the campaign, the Trump Organization registered more than a half-dozen limited liability companies in the kingdom, in anticipation of cashing in on Trump's enhanced renown. When Trump actually won (which apparently he didn't think he would at the time), someone must have explained he couldn't move ahead with new business there as president, because he withdrew the registrations. Of course, a little thing like benefiting from the office of the presidency hasn't stopped the Trump Organization, run by the president's two eldest sons, from accepting Saudi largesse since the election. With many Trump properties and brands losing customers in today's highly polarized political atmosphere, Saudis are spending lavishly on Trump properties in Washington, New York and even Chicago as many others avoid them.
But if Trump doesn't get why looking the other way when an American journalist is tortured, beheaded and hacked to pieces by a team of Saudi government operatives is bad, surely national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary Pompeo do. Autocrats are stepping up their game around the world. Russian President Vladimir Putin didn't hesitate to order a hit on British soil of an ex-KGB agent and his daughter earlier this year. But the United Kingdom responded quickly, kicking out Russian diplomats and imposing sanctions. The United States followed suit, but only because Congress, not Trump, knew that to do otherwise would have let down an ally and encouraged a despot. When asked in a "60 Minutes" interview Sunday whether he believes that Putin was involved in the poisoning and other assassinations, Trump's response was: "Probably he is, yeah. ... But I rely on them. It's not in our country."
The Trump administration relies on Saudi Arabia, too. It is the enemy of our enemy Iran, which, in political calculus, makes Saudis our "friends." But even friends require reining in at times. And these friends need us more than we need them. We are no longer dependent on oil imports; our oil reserves surpass those of Saudi Arabia. Although Trump worries about losing that promised $110 billion Saudi arms purchase he keeps touting (but which has yet to materialize), the Saudis don't have anywhere else to go if they want to keep their airplanes in the air. They are locked in by past purchases; no one else can deliver the spare parts for U.S.-built weapons. As for the help in challenging Iran, they have no choice there, either. Iran is far more a direct threat to the kingdom than it is to the U.S. And as for their most crucial role -- the war on Islamic terrorism -- the Saudis claim to fight terrorism but are also a major source of funding for radical Islamic schools and mosques that recruit terrorists around the world.

The administration has only a short time to come up with a proper and proportionate response to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The president thinks Americans will move on -- but his inaction makes the world a more dangerous place. And next time, the attack just might be on American soil.

Trump scrambles to cover for Saudi

regime as crisis over Khashoggi 

murder mounts

19 October 2018
Following US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s emergency talks in Riyadh and Ankara, and amid mounting reports implicating Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Trump administration is scrambling to shield Washington’s closest ally in the Arab World.

On Thursday, Trump continued to suggest that Prince Mohammed and his father, King Salman, may have had nothing to do with the disappearance and evident torture and murder of Khashoggi on October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. However, after being debriefed by Pompeo following the latter’s talks with Prince Mohammed and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump told reporters it appeared that Khashoggi was dead.

The official line is that Pompeo secured a pledge from the Saudi leadership to hold accountable anyone found in the course of the regime’s own investigation to have played a role in Khashoggi’s disappearance. On that fraudulent basis, Pompeo advised Trump to give Riyadh several more days to provide an accounting, after which the White House will decide its response.

Meanwhile, unnamed Turkish officials and the pro-Erdogan newspaper Yeni Safak reported Wednesday on the contents of what they claim is an audio recording of the events that transpired in the Istanbul consulate following Khashoggi’s entering the building on the afternoon of October 2. The 60-year-old self-exiled Saudi national and resident of Virginia in the US, who went from being a regime insider to a Washington Post columnist and critic of the new crown prince, ostensibly went to the consulate to obtain documents in advance of his impending wedding to a Turkish national. He never emerged from the consulate.

According to the Turkish accounts, he was almost 

immediately attacked by a team of 15 men who 

had flown that day to Istanbul from Saudi Arabia, 

brutally tortured, drugged, murdered, beheaded 

and dismembered. These sources say his fingers 

were cut off, but do not stipulate whether that 

occurred before or after he had expired. One of 

those reported to have been in the group is a 

forensic doctor who carried a bone saw.

The Washington Post on Wednesday published a detailed profile of the 15 men, complete with photos and scans of travel documents. It reported that at least nine of the men have ties to Saudi security. The New York Times reported Wednesday that at least four are directly linked to the crown prince, having traveled with him as part of his personal security detail.

The claim of Crown Prince Mohammed that he had no foreknowledge of a plan to kill the former regime loyalist-turned critic is absurd on its face. He is an absolute ruler in a brutal totalitarian dictatorship, and is known to closely oversee the activities of his security apparatus and to be personally extremely cruel.

Pompeo’s meetings on Tuesday with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed were aimed at signaling continued US support while making a pretense of seeking a full accounting of Khashoggi’s disappearance. The same is true of his meeting the following day with Erdogan, at which he evidently did not ask for a copy of the audio recording of the events inside the consulate.

For his part, the Turkish president has yet to publicly make any accusation against the Saudi leadership or endorse the reports being leaked by Turkish officials and the media. At odds with Riyadh over the Saudi regime’s support for US-allied Kurdish forces in Syria, its backing for the el-Sisi dictatorship in Egypt, and its lineup with Washington over Iran, Erdogan appears nevertheless to be reluctant to sever relations with the oil-rich Saudis and may be seeking to use Riyadh’s crisis as leverage in obtaining concessions.

On Wednesday after meeting with Erdogan, Pompeo told reporters on his plane back to the US: “I do think it’s important that everyone keep in their mind that we have lots of important relations, financial relationships between US and Saudi companies, government relationships, things that we work on all across the world. The efforts to reduce the risk to the United States of America from the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, Iran.

“We just need to make sure that we are mindful of that as we approach decisions that the United States government will take when we learn all of the facts.”

This amounts to an unwitting admission of the outright criminality of both governments.

As the former CIA director and current secretary of state, Pompeo’s reference to the “things we work on all across the world” includes conspiring to strangle, destabilize and potentially wage war against Iran, in alliance with Israel and most of the other Gulf oil sheikdoms.
These “things” also include the near-genocidal Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has already killed some 50,000 men, women and children and threatens another 14 million with starvation and deadly epidemics of cholera and diphtheria. The Saudis could not carry out their relentless bombing and de facto blockade of the Arab world’s poorest country without US arms, its mid-air refueling of Saudi bombers, its provision of intelligence and help in selecting targets and the assistance to its naval forces.

It is notable that in all of the US press commentary critical of Trump and the Saudi crown prince, there is virtually no mention of the US role in the slaughter in Yemen.

There is as well the collaboration between Washington and Riyadh in suppressing the Palestinians and propping up Israel, and their joint support for Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist terrorists in the war for regime-change in Syria.

The US is particularly reliant on the Saudi monarchy at the present moment, in advance of its November 5 deadline for imposing sanctions against all Iranian exports. It is counting on Riyadh to open its oil spigot to prevent a spike in oil prices as a result of a sharp reduction in Iranian oil exports.

At the same time, the administration is coming under increasing pressure, both internationally and at home, to distance itself from the crown prince. It made a reluctant concession to this pressure on Thursday with the announcement that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would join the swelling ranks of Western officials, bankers and media organizations that have announced they will not attend next week’s international investors’ conference in Riyadh, to be hosted by Crown Prince Mohammed.

Dubbed “Davos in the Desert,” the event is on the brink of collapse. On Wednesday, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde pulled out. Businesses that have made similar announcements include Uber, JPMorgan Chase, Viacom, BlackRock and Blackstone Group. CNN, the Financial Times, CNBC, Nikkei and the New York Times are among the media organizations that have withdrawn as media sponsors.

The likely debacle of the investors’ conference will intensify an already acute crisis facing the Saudi monarchy. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that global investors are growing increasingly alarmed at what the newspaper called Saudi Arabia’s “debt binge” in recent months. In the two-and-a-half years since May 2016, the country has floated $68 billion in dollar-denominated bonds and syndicated loans—up from zero.

In addition, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund took out its first-ever bank loan last month, raising $11 billion. And the national oil company Saudi Aramco plans to raise up to $50 billion.

Reflecting declining confidence in the regime, the cost of insuring against Saudi default has risen by 30 percent since the disappearance of Khashoggi, and even before the Khashoggi allegations, foreign direct investment had fallen to historically low levels.

Also on Thursday, the Washington Post published Khashoggi’s final column for the newspaper. Introducing the piece, Global Opinions Editor Karen Attiah explained that the Post had received the column one day after Khashoggi’s disappearance, but had decided to hold it in the hope that he would reemerge. In publishing the piece, the newspaper acknowledged that the author had died.

The content of the column points to Khashoggi’s likely links to sections of the US state and intelligence apparatus. A former aide to the Saudi chief of intelligence and one-time ambassador to the US, Khashoggi had long been known as an interlocutor between the Saudi regime and Western media and government officials. He also had close ties to Osama bin Laden.

In his final column he compares the suppression of speech and expression in the Arab world to the Soviet “Iron Curtain,” and calls for the development of an “independent” news source in the Middle East modeled after the cold war-era propaganda organ Radio Free Europe.
This would in part explain the furious reaction of Trump critics in both political parties, the media and the intelligence establishment to the administration’s efforts to alibi for the Saudi leadership. Obama’s CIA chief John Brennan, for example, has repeatedly denounced Trump’s attempts to cover for the regime and insisted that the crown prince personally ordered the murder of Khashoggi

Congress overrides Obama veto of bill allowing 9/11 lawsuits
By Tom Carter
30 September 2016
On Wednesday, the US Congress overturned President Obama’s veto of legislation that would permit victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks and their families to sue Saudi Arabia. Declassified documents released this year confirm the involvement of Saudi intelligence agents in the funding, organization, and planning of the attacks—facts which were covered up for years by the Bush and Obama administrations.
The vote, 97-1 in the Senate and 348-77 in the House of Representatives, represents the first and only congressional override of Obama’s presidency. Under the US Constitution, the president’s veto can be overturned only by a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of Congress.
The Obama administration and the military and intelligence agencies, backed by sections of the media, including the New York Times, have vigorously denounced the legislation. Obama personally, together with Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford among others, have all publicly opposed the bill.
In a letter to Congress opposing the legislation, Obama warned that the bill would “threaten to erode sovereign principles that protect the United States, including our U.S. Armed Forces and other officials, overseas.”
In a lead editorial on Wednesday, the New York Times similarly warned that “if the bill becomes law, other countries could adopt similar legislation defining their own exemptions to sovereign immunity. Because no country is more engaged in the world than the United States—with military bases, drone operations, intelligence missions and training programs—the Obama administration fears that Americans could be subject to legal actions abroad.”
In other words, the bill would set a precedent for families of victims of American aggression abroad—such as the tens of thousands of victims of “targeted killings” ordered by Obama personally—to file lawsuits against US war criminal in their own countries’ courts.
Obama denounced the vote with unusual warmth on Wednesday. “It's an example of why sometimes you have to do what's hard. And, frankly, I wish Congress here had done what's hard,” Obama declared. “If you’re perceived as voting against 9/11 families right before an election, not surprisingly, that's a hard vote for people to take. But it would have been the right thing to do ... And it was, you know, basically a political vote.”
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave,” Sir Walter Scott famously wrote, “When first we practice to deceive!” As the tangled web of lies surrounding the September 11 attacks continue to unravel, one senses that the American ruling class and its representatives do not see a clear way out of the dilemma.
Openly torpedoing the legislation is tantamount to an admission of guilt. Indeed, the Obama administration, the military and intelligence agencies, and theNew York Times are publicly working to cover up a crime perpetrated by Al Qaeda and its backers in Saudi Arabia, which in turn is an ally of the United States. The mere fact that Obama vetoed this bill constitutes an admission that the US government is hiding something with respect to the September 11 attacks.
The alternative, from the standpoint of the American ruling class, is also fraught with risks. Court proceedings initiated by the families of September 11 victims will inevitably expose the role played by the Saudi monarchy, an ally of both Al Qaeda and the United States, in the September 11 attacks. This, in turn, will highlight long and sordid history of American support for Islamic fundamentalism in the
Middle East, which continues to the present day in Syria and Libya.
Perhaps most dangerously of all, a full public accounting of  the roles of Saudi intelligence agents in the September 11  attacks will once again raise questions about the role of the American state in the attacks. Why did US intelligence
agencies ignore the activities of Saudi agents before the attacks, based on Saudi Arabia’s supposed status as a US ally?
Why did the US government deliberately cover up the Saudi connection after the fact, instead claiming that Afghanistan was a “state sponsor of terrorism” and that Iraq was developing “weapons of mass destruction?” Why was nobody
The New York Times, for its part, simply lied about the evidence of Saudi complicity. “The legislation is motivated by a belief among the 9/11 families that Saudi Arabia played a role in the attacks, because 15 of the 19 hijackers, who were members of Al Qaeda, were Saudis,” the editors wrote. “But the independent American commission that investigated the attacks found no evidence that the Saudi government or senior Saudi officials financed the terrorists.”
In fact, at least two of the hijackers received aid from Omar al-Bayoumi, who was identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a Saudi intelligence agent with “ties to terrorist elements.” Some of the hijackers were paid for work in fictitious jobs from companies affiliated with the Saudi Defense Ministry, with which Al-Bayoumi was in close contact. The night before the attacks, three of the hijackers stayed at the same hotel as Saleh al-Hussayen, a prominent Saudi government official.
These and other facts were confirmed by the infamous 28-page suppressed chapter of the 2002 report issued by the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001. After 14 years of stalling, the document was finally released to the public this summer.
Yet the New York Times continues to describe the Saudi monarchy, the principal financier and sponsor of Islamic fundamentalist groups throughout the world, as “a partner in combating terrorism.”
The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, passed Wednesday, is a direct reaction to these revelations of Saudi complicity in the September 11 attacks, under pressure from organizations of survivors and families of victims. The law amends the federal judicial code to allow US courts “to hear cases involving claims against a foreign state for injuries, death, or damages that occur inside the United States as a result of. .. an act of terrorism, committed anywhere by a foreign state or official.”
Although the bill nowhere names Saudi Arabia, the Saudi government has
threatened massive retaliation, including by moving $750 billion in assets out of  the country before they can be seized in American legal proceedings. This
reaction alone confirms the monarchy’s guilt.
During Wednesday’s session, many of the statements on the floor of the Senate were nervous and apprehensive. Casting his vote in favor of the bill, Republican Senator Bob Corker declared, “I have tremendous concerns about the sovereign immunity procedures that would be set in place by the countries as a result of this vote.” More than one legislator noted that if the bill had unintended consequences, it would be modified or repealed.
The anxious comments of legislators and the crisscrossing denunciations within the ruling elite reflect the significance of this controversy for the entire American political establishment. For 15 years, the American population has been relentlessly told that the events of September 11, 2001 “changed everything,” warranting the elimination of democratic rights, the militarization of the police, renditions, torture, assassinations, totalitarian levels of spying, death and destruction across the Middle East, and trillions of dollars of expenditures.
The collapse of the official version of that day’s events shows that American politics for 15 years has been based on a lie.


Can America Ultimately Survive the Crimes of Bush, Clinton and Obama?


The perilous ramifications of the September 11 attacks on the United States are only now beginning to unfold. They will undoubtedly be felt for generations to come. This is one of many sad conclusions readers will draw from Craig Unger's exceptional book House of Bush House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties. As Unger claims in this incisive study, the seeds for the "Age of Terrorism" and September 11 were planted nearly 30 years ago in what, at the time, appeared to be savvy business transactions that subsequently translated into political currency and the union between the Saudi royal family and the extended political family of George H. W. Bush. On the surface, the claim may appear to be politically driven, but as Unger (a respected investigative journalist and editor) probes--with scores of documents and sources--the political tenor of the U.S. over the last 30 years, the Iran-Iraq War, the war in Afghanistan, the birth of Al Qaeda, the dubious connection between members of the Saudi Royal family and the exportation of terror, and the personal fortunes amassed by the Bush family from companies such as Harken Energy and the Carlyle Group, he exposes the "brilliantly hidden agendas and purposefully murky corporate relationships" between these astonishingly powerful families.His evidence is persuasive and reveals a devastating story of Orwellian proportions, replete with political deception, shifting allegiances, and lethal global consequences. Unger begins his book with the remarkable story of the repatriation of 140 Saudis directly following the September 11 attacks. He ends where Richard A. Clarkebegins, questioning the efficacy of the war in Iraq in the battle against terrorism. We are unquestionably facing a global security crisis unlike any before. President Bush insists that we will prevail, yet as Unger so effectively concludes, "Never before has an American president been so closely tied to a foreign power that harbors and supports our country's mortal enemies." --Silvana Tropea --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

THESE ENDLESS WARS HAVE COST US BILLIONS OF DOLLARS AND THOUSANDS OF LIVES.... all because Saddam gave the middle finger to the filthy Saudis! 



FBI holds 80,000 pages of secret documents on Saudi-9/11 links

FBI holds 80,000 pages of secret documents on Saudi-9/11 links

By Patrick Martin
14 May 2016
The American FBI has a secret cache of documents, more than 80,000 pages in all, concerning possible ties between the 9/11 hijackers and an upper-class Saudi family who lived in Florida and fled the United States two weeks before the suicide hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 people.

A federal judge in Tampa, Florida has been reviewing the documents for more than two years as a consequence of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by a trio of online reporters—Anthony Summers, Robbyn Swan and Dan Christensen. The review process has been extremely slow because of restrictive FBI rules on how many pages Judge William Zloch may access at any one time.

The existence of the document trove was revealed Friday in a front-page article in the US-based web publication the Daily Beast. The article identified the Saudi family as Abdulaziz al-Hijji and his wife Anoud, who was the daughter of Esam Ghazzawi, an adviser to a nephew of Saudi King Fahd.

Ghazzawi owned the home in which they were staying in a gated community in Sarasota, Florida. The home was raided by the FBI after 9/11 but the residents had all departed in evident haste on August 30, 2001.

Visitor logs in the community, known as Prestancia, showed that the alleged ringleader of the 9/11 hijackers, Mohammad Atta, had visited al-Hijji, along with two other 9/11 hijackers, Ziad Jarrah and Marwan Al-Shehhi.

Former Senator Robert Graham, co-chair of the joint congressional committee that investigated the 9/11 attacks, told the Daily Beast that he had never known of the FBI documents on the Saratoga home until they were uncovered by the investigative journalists. He later viewed a portion of these records and confirmed that they identified the three 9/11 hijackers as visitors.

Throughout this period, the FBI had denied that the al-Hijji family had any connection to the 9/11 attackers. The agency changed its story only when Graham said he would testify under oath about what he had read in the file of documents. At this point the FBI conceded the existence of 35 pages of documents.

When Judge Zloch ordered a further search for records, the Tampa office of the FBI came back with 80,226 pages of files marked PENTTBOM, which stands for “Pentagon/Twin-Towers Bombing” in FBI jargon. Judge Zloch has been reviewing these since May 1, 2014 and has given no date by which he expects to finish.

The al-Hijji family exited its Sarasota home, leaving behind three cars, an open safe and disarray that suggested a hasty departure. The security guards at the gated community noted their departure, but did not consider it suspicious until the 9/11 attacks two weeks later.

The FBI initially made only a perfunctory response and did not open a formal investigation until eight months later, in April 2002, “based upon repeated citizen calls” about the conduct of the family during their stay in the United States. One of the few documents released said that this investigation “revealed many connections” between a member of the family “and individuals associated with the terrorist attacks.”

The Daily Beast report adds to recent revelations of evidence of Saudi regime ties to the 9/11 hijackers that has been covered up by the US government under both the Bush and Obama administrations.

Graham has actively campaigned for the release of 28 pages of material on the Saudi-9/11 connection comprising an entire chapter of the joint congressional committee report on the 9/11 attacks in which he participated. This material has been withheld for more than 13 years. On April 10, Graham was the main witness interviewed by the CBS program “60 Minutes” in a segment on the continuing cover-up of Saudi-9/11 connections.

In an op-ed column this week in the Washington Post, Graham reiterated his demand for release of the 28 pages, noting that President Obama had promised a decision on declassifying the material by next month. Graham denounced CIA Director John Brennan, who responded to the “60 Minutes” program by publicly opposing any release of the 28 pages.

Also Friday, the Guardian newspaper published an interview with a former member of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission appointed by President George W. Bush, who flatly declared that there was extensive Saudi involvement in supporting the hijackers. Of the 19 perpetrators, 15 were Saudi citizens, most of them having recently arrived in the United States when they seized control of four jetliners on September 11, 2001.

Former Navy Secretary John Lehman, a Republican, told the newspaper: “There was an awful lot of participation by Saudi individuals in supporting the hijackers, and some of those people worked in the Saudi government.” While only one Saudi consular official in Los Angeles, Fahad al-Thumairy, was implicated in supporting the hijackers, according to the official account, Lehman believes that at least five officials were involved.

Al-Thumairy was linked to the two hijackers who lived in San Diego before the 9/11 attacks, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, but he was deported rather than charged with a crime. The other five, whom Lehman did not name, “may not have been indicted, but they were certainly implicated. There was an awful lot of circumstantial evidence.”

Another former 9/11 commissioner, who spoke to the Guardian without direct attribution, recounted what the newspaper called “a mostly unknown chapter of the history of the 9/11 commission: behind closed doors, members of the panel’s staff fiercely protested the way the material about the Saudis was presented in the final report, saying it underplayed or ignored evidence that Saudi officials—especially at lower levels of the government—were part of an al-Qaida support network that had been tasked to assist the hijackers after they arrived in the US.”

The 9/11 Commission director, Philip Zelikow, who later served in the Bush administration as senior counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, fired one staffer who protested over the suppression of the Saudi ties to 9/11 after she obtained a copy of the suppressed 28 pages of the joint congressional committee report. Zelikow and the commission members overruled staff protests on the soft-pedaling of the Saudi connection.

These press reports confirm what the World Socialist Web Site has long maintained: the official 9/11 investigations were a series of whitewashes aimed at concealing the role of the Saudi government and US intelligence agencies during the period leading up to the terrorist attacks.

There has long been evidence that sections of the US government were aware of the plot to hijack and suicide-crash airliners, but turned a blind eye because such an atrocity could be used to stampede American public opinion and provide a pretext for escalating US military interventions throughout the Middle East and Central Asia.

Saudi Arabian regime gripped by factional infighting amid mounting economic crisis
By Jean Shaoul
13 May 2016
The ruling House of Saud, issued a series of royal decrees unceremoniously dumping its longstanding oil minister Ali al-Naimi, central bank governor Fahad al-Mubarak, and other senior officials.
The wide-ranging shakeup of government bodies is part of an attempt to resolve the Kingdom’s growing economic crisis at the expense of the Saudi masses.
The sackings follow the removal last month of Abdullah al-Hasin, the water and electricity minister, in a bid to deflect popular anger over high water rates and new rules over the digging of wells and cuts in energy subsidies aimed at saving the ruling family collectively in excess of one and a half trillion dollars.
The shake-up is intended to concentrate power in the clique around Crown Prince Mohammed, the 30-year-old son of the aging King Salman. It will further exacerbate the enormous political, economic and social tensions wracking this semi-feudal regime that has, since 1945, constituted an essential prop for US imperialist policy in the region and a bulwark of reaction and repression in the Arab world.
The Saudi monarchy, threatened by the revolutionary overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the subsequent political turmoil that threatened almost every regime in the region, moved rapidly to topple the elected Muslim Brotherhood-led government of President Mohammed Mursi, even at the risk of conflicting with Washington, and helped install and bankroll the brutal military dictator Abdul Fatah el-Sisi to suppress the Egyptian masses.
It sought—at the cost of tens of billions of dollars—to move against the Syrian regime of President Bashir al-Assad in Syria by funding an Islamist insurgency, and to shore up the rule of its regional allies in Yemen, Bahrain and Jordan. Accompanying its moves in Syria, it sought to undermine pro-Iranian governments in Iraq and Lebanon, through direct or covert military interventions, the use of Islamist fighters as proxies, or economic aid.
Its relations with its chief backer, US imperialism, are now at an all-time low. Riyadh was furious over Washington’s failure to sustain its support for Mubarak against the Egyptian masses in 2011.
The US-led interventions in Iraq and Syria to assert Washington’s hegemony over the Middle East’s vast energy resources have destabilised Saudi Arabia’s neighbours. Washington’s various pragmatic manoeuvres, its failure to intervene decisively in the war to overthrow Assad in Syria allowing Russia to intervene to shore up the regime, its deal with Iran and support for the Shi’ite government in Iraq, helped strengthened the influence of Saudi Arabia’s main regional rival, Tehran.
At home, Riyadh attempted to assuage popular opposition and protests in the Shia-dominated Eastern Province with a combination of violent suppression and a $350 billion package of benefits and social spending, a lifeline for the estimated 28 percent of the population who live in poverty. Between 2 million and 4 million Saudi citizens are believed to be living on less than $530 a month. With its thousands of princes, the parasitic Saudi monarchy deprives its citizens of basic democratic rights It has sought to ruthlessly suppress public discussion of social inequality, imprisoning bloggers who dare to raise such issues or criticise the regime.
This attempt at repression is being undermined by the precipitous fall in oil prices, the result of the Saudis’ political decision to maintain output in an attempt to undermine Russia and Iran. This has led to a $100 billion government deficit in 2015 (15 per cent of GDP). The new oil minister Khalid al-Falih is not expected to rein in oil production and thus boost oil prices because this would also boost the revenues of Saudi Arabia’s rivals.
With 70 percent of its revenue dependent on oil, the government has cut public spending for 2016 by 25 percent, slashing subsidies on fuel, power and water, with gas prices set to increase by 80 percent. It took the unprecedented step of introducing a tax on Saudi nationals—a 5 percent value added tax—in a bid to prevent the budget deficit soaring to $140 billion and to conserve its $600 billion in reserves.
Riyadh’s sponsorship of Islamist forces has led to the advance of ISIS, al-Qaeda and similar outfits with their own agendas in Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula. ISIS cells have launched dozens of attacks over the last two years and were alleged to have been behind a spate of bombings targeting the Kingdom’s Shia minority.
Last week, Saudi forces carried out an operation against ISIS in Mecca, killing four “wanted” men in a shootout, and another in the southwestern province of Bisha, killing two ISIS suspects and injuring another. It followed the arrest of Ukab Atibi, allegedly a member of the ISIS cell that carried out a suicide attack on a mosque used by members of a local security force in southwest Saudi Arabia in August 2015. Security forces carried out another raid on a house in Jeddah, arresting two suspects.
The ruling clique is torn with dissent over the succession to the ailing King Salmon, who promoted his 30-year-old son Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the positions of deputy crown prince and minister of defence in charge of the murderous, but largely unsuccessful war in Yemen, sidelining other older claimants to the throne. Mohammed has overturned the Kingdom’s decades-long policy of buying political quiescence with a social contract that has provided some security—via low utility prices, social subventions and public sector jobs—for the Saudi population, and promoted a wave of Sunni-based Saudi nationalism.
Last month, in an announcement that the Economist described as “manic optimism,” Mohammed unveiled his Vision 2030, drawn up by the McKinsey & Company global consultants McKinsey and aimed at ending the Kingdom’s dependence on oil by 2030. He later declared on Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel an end to “any dependence on oil” by 2020. The measures include the public listing of 5 percent of Aramco, the world’s largest oil company valued at $2.5 trillion, the creation of a sovereign wealth fund with a potential value of $2 trillion to invest in assets, the development of non-oil industries, including a domestic arms industry; more private sector jobs and a new visa system to allow expatriate Muslims and Arabs to work long-term in Saudi Arabia.
Symptomatic of the insoluble contradictions of the Saudi economy was the announcement last week that one of the largest companies, the construction giant the Saudi Bin Laden Group (SBG) that has built most of the country’s public buildings, was unable to pay its workforce.
SBG fired 77,000 of its 200,000 workforce and issued them with exit visas. Immigrant workers, angry that they had not been paid for months, have held daily protests outside SBG’s offices, burnt company buses in Mecca and refused to leave the country until they are paid. The company also dismissed 12,000 of its 17,000 Saudi managerial and professional staff, calling on them to resign or wait for their wages and a two-month bonus worth $220 million.
With $30 billion in debts, SBG’s financial problems stem from the cutbacks in government spending and the crane collapse on a major expansion of the Grand Mosque in Mecca last year that killed 107 workers and pilgrims. It prompted an investigation of its government projects, many of which were reportedly being carried out without any signed contracts. The company was hit with a withholding of government payments and a ban on SBG tendering for further public building projects.
The impending collapse of SBG provoked such a crisis that the government agreed to allow it to bid for state contracts, said it would ensure that government payments would continue and urged other companies to honour their commitments and pay up on their contracts with SBG.
The author also recommends:
The 9/11 cover-up continues[3 May 2016]
Once again on Saudi complicity in the 9/11 attacks[13 April 2016]

House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties Paperback – October 5, 2004

Craig Unger (Author)
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Newsbreaking and controversial - an award-winning investigative journalist uncovers the thirty-year relationship between the Bush family and the House of Saud and explains its impact on American foreign policy, business, and national security. House of Bush, House of Saud begins with a politically explosive question: How is it that two days after 9/11, when U.S. air traffic was tightly restricted, 140 Saudis, many immediate kin to Osama Bin Laden, were permitted to leave the country without being questioned by U.S. intelligence? The answer lies in a hidden relationship that began in the 1970s, when the oil-rich House of Saud began courting American politicians in a bid for military protection, influence, and investment opportunity. With the Bush family, the Saudis hit a gusher - direct access to presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W.Bush. To trace the amazing weave of Saud- Bush connections, Unger interviewed three former directors of the CIA, top Saudi and Israeli intelligence officials, and more than one hundred other sources. His access to major players is unparalleled and often exclusive - including executives at the Carlyle Group, the giant investment firm where
the House of Bush and the House of Saud each 
has a major stake. Like Bob Woodward's The Veil, Unger's House of Bush, House of Saud features unprecedented reportage; like Michael Moore's Dude, Where's My Country? Unger's book offers a political counter-narrative to official explanations; this deeply sourced account has already been cited by Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer, and sets 9/11, the two Gulf Wars, and the ongoing Middle East crisis in a new context: What really happened when America's most powerful political family became seducedThe perilous ramifications of the September 11 attacks on the United States are only now beginning to unfold. They will undoubtedly be felt for generations to come. This is one of many sad conclusions readers will draw from Craig Unger's exceptional book House of Bush House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties. As Unger claims in this incisive study, the seeds for the "Age of Terrorism" and September 11 were planted nearly 30 years ago in what, at the time, appeared to be savvy business transactions that subsequently translated into political currency and the union between the Saudi royal family and the extended political family of George H. W. Bush. On the surface, the claim may appear to be politically driven, but as Unger (a respected investigative journalist and editor) probes--with scores of documents and sources--the political tenor of the U.S. over the last 30 years, the Iran-Iraq War, the war in Afghanistan, the birth of Al Qaeda, the dubious connection between members of the Saudi Royal family and the exportation of terror, and the personal fortunes amassed by the Bush family from companies such as Harken Energy and the Carlyle Group, he exposes the "brilliantly hidden agendas and purposefully murky corporate relationships" between these astonishingly powerful families. His evidence is persuasive and reveals a devastating story of Orwellian proportions, replete with political deception, shifting allegiances, and lethal global consequences. Unger begins his book with the remarkable story of the repatriation of 140 Saudis directly following the September 11 attacks. He ends where Richard A. Clarke begins, questioning the efficacy of the war in Iraq in the battle against terrorism. We are unquestionably facing a global security crisis unlike any before. President Bush insists that we will prevail, yet as Unger so effectively concludes, "Never before has an American president been so closely tied to a foreign power that harbors and supports our country's mortal enemies." --Silvana Tropea --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. 
From Publishers Weekly

In this potentially explosive book, investigative journalist Unger, who has written for the New Yorker, Esquire and Vanity Fair, pieces together the highly unusual and close personal and financial relationships between the Bush family and the ruling family of Saudi Arabia—and questions the implications for Bush's preparedness, or possible lack thereof, for September 11. What could forge such an unlikely alliance between the leader of the free world and the leaders of a stifling Islamic theocracy? First and foremost, according to Unger, is money. He compiles figures in an appendix indicating over $1.4 billion worth of business between the Saudi royal family and businesses tied (sometimes loosely) to the House of Bush, ranging from donations to the Bush presidential library to investments with the Carlyle Group ("a well-known player in global commerce" for which George H.W. Bush has been a senior advisor and his secretary of state, James Baker, is a partner), to deals with Halliburton, of which Dick Cheney was CEO. James Baker’s law firm even defended the House of Saud in a lawsuit brought by relatives of victims of September 11. Unger also questions whether the Bush grew so complacent about the Saudis that his administration ignored then White House terrorism czar Richard Clarke’s repeated warnings and recommendations about the Saudis and al-Qaeda. Another question raised by Unger’s research is whether millions in Saudi money given to U.S. Muslim groups may have delivered a crucial block of Muslim votes to George W. Bush in 2000—and it’s questions like that will make some readers wonder whether Unger is applying a chainsaw to issues that should be dissected with a scalpel. But whether one buys Unger’s arguments or not, there’s little doubt that with this intensely researched, well-written book he has poured more flame onto the political fires of 2004.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


What it reminds us about the Saudi rulers.

October 18, 2018

Jamal Khashoggi, a well-known Saudi journalist, went to the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to fill out some paperwork pertaining to his marriage — he was in the process of divorcing  his Saudi wife so that he might then marry his Turkish fiancé. He entered the building  at 1:14 p..m., and has not been seen since. His fiancé had been waiting outside the consulate for what was supposed to have been a short visit; when he failed to appear,  the police were summoned. The Saudis at the consulate claimed not to know what had happened to Khashoggi. From Riyadh, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman insisted that Khashoggi left soon after visiting the consulate. King Salman assured President Trump that his government had nothing to do with Khashoggi’s disappearance. Now the Saudis have decided to tell their latest version of the truth. They claim that Khashoggi died during an “interrogation gone wrong.”
On that same day, October 2, fifteen Saudis arrived in Istanbul in the morning, and departed, on two different flights, the same evening. Or at least that’s the story. There are videotapes of Saudis arriving at the airport, but to complicate matters, it seems that some of those videotapes are five years old. Meanwhile, the Turks claim to have proof that Khashoggi was killed inside the Embassy. They say they have tapes on which the alleged audio evidence is particularly strong, according to officials.
“You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic,” a source told the Washington Post. “You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.” CCTV cameras provide videotapes of a black van that left the Saudi Consulate that afternoon and went to the home of the Saudi Consul General. The Turks initially claimed the body was dismembered with a bone saw; among the Saudis who arrived that day was an autopsy expert well-versed in such dismemberment. The world media is of course titillated by the story: what did they then do with the pieces? Burn them, so that nothing was left but ashes and bone? Would the ashes have been flushed down the toilet? Would the pieces of bone have been cut up into ever smaller pieces that, divvied up among the 15 Saudis, could be disposed of discreetly around Istanbul or even at the airport, or packed in diplomatic pouches and flown to Saudi Arabia? Or did they bury the body in the garden of the Consul General? No one yet knows, but the “Pulp Fiction” and “Goodfellas” aspect of all this is riveting.
But let’s get back to what this killing demonstrates. It demonstrates that Saudi Arabia has only contempt for the outside world, and no intention of changing its brutal ways no matter what others think. All sorts of Western big shots have now pulled out of the “Davos in the Desert” three-day economic summit to be held in Saudi Arabia in early November. Among them are Richard Branson, the CEO’s of Viacom and Uber, the heads of JP Morgan, Blackstone, BlackRock, the owner of the Los Angeles Times, the creator of the Android Mobile Device, the creator of Crispr, and many others. This will have little effect on the Saudis. If Western companies want to engage in virtue-signaling, and lose billions in investments, both in and from Saudi Arabia, the Crown Prince can live with that. Besides, there is always China, ready to sell weapons to the Saudis (as Trump has noted), and to make, and receive, Saudi investments.
The killing may, however, have a salutary effect on the American government’s view of Saudi Arabia. The Saudis were largely protected during the investigation of the 9/11 attacks; 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, but through it all, Saudi Arabia remained our “friend” and ally. They sold us their oil at the market price, doing us no favors, but because Saudi Arabia was the “swing” producer, and when, purely for reasons of economic self-interest, the Saudis raised or lowered production so as to lower or raise the price of oil, we were always naively grateful. The Saudis have a stake not just in current oil revenues, but in maximizing the value of  the billions of barrels they have in the ground. They are not doing us favors. They calculate their ideal price for oil, at any time, based on the likely effect on consumers, who may switch to other sources of energy, and on energy producers, who if the price is high enough may search for new oil supplies or extract oil already found, using innovative techniques. The Saudis cannot forget fracking, and what that did to oil prices.
When the Saudis allowed American troops to be based on on Saudi soil, this was presented as doing us a favor, though it was the Americans who were protecting the Saudis, not the other way round.
The alliance with Saudi Arabia continues until today. When the Saudis bomb Yemeni civilians indiscriminately, our government says nothing. After all, the Saudis are waging a proxy war against Iran, and that is reason enough for the Americans to keep quiet. But now we have a moment of high drama, conflicting tales, and Murder Most Foul. Had the Saudis managed to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, they could have promptly jailed him for 10, 20, 50 years, or even life, and there would have been only a feeble bleat of protest, but nothing like what has happened after his murder in Istanbul.
It’s the cinematic aspect of the whole thing: the tape of Khashoggi walking serenely into the consulate, unaware of any danger, with his fiancé waiting outside. He is never seen again. We see those grainy shots of 15 Saudis who arrive at the airport, on two different private planes, that same day, and who have apparently been recorded — the Turks say they have the tapes — interrogating, torturing, and killing him. Those same 15 Saudis leave that evening at two different times, on two different planes. The whole thing is straight out of Hollywood.
Crown Prince Mohammed (MbS) is often thought of as a proponent of major change. Yes, women can now drive in Saudi Arabia, thanks to the Crown Prince. Yes, the cinemas, closed in 1979, have reopened, thanks to the Crown Prince. Yes, the forward-looking Crown Prince has made big plans for building three new Saudi cities from scratch: one an Economic City for businesses, especially high-tech companies and start-ups, another for Entertainment, and a third intended to be a Muslim-friendly Tourist City, so that the Saudis and other rich Arabs can spend more of their money at home. With the help of a small army of Washington lobbyists, on whom Saudi Arabia spent $27 million last year, and on media consultants from all over, the Crown Prince has been presented as the young reformer of a sclerotic system, and many in the West have accepted this carefully-cultivated image.
The killing of Jamal Khashoggi reminds us that the Saudi rulers, and the Crown Prince, are well-versed in the use of violence. They are determined to keep themselves in power, and to keep the colossal wealth to which they help themselves. The 15,000 Saudi royals are collectively worth $1.7 trillion; they are not about to let go of any of it. Jamal Khashoggi, though not a royal, began life as well-connected as any commoner in Saudi Arabia could be. His grandfather was the personal physician to King Abdelaziz Al Saud. His uncle was Adnan Khashoggi, who through his connections in the Saudi government made $4 billion dollars as an arms dealer. His cousin was Dodi Fayed, Princess Diana’s last boyfriend, and the son of the billionaire businessman Mohamed Fayed.
Khashoggi has been a leading journalist since the 1970s. He’s been the chief editor of Al Madina (one of the oldest papers in the kingdom), worked as a columnist for Al-Arabiya, served as a media advisor to Prince Turki al Faisal when he was the Saudi ambassador to the United States, and has been a frequent guest both on Saudi television and on such international channels as MBC, BBC, Al Jazeera, and Dubai TV. He became the editor-in-chief of Al Watan twice, and on the second occasion, he quickly got into hot water for publishing a column by the poet Ibrahim al-Almaee challenging the basic Salafi premises. This led to Khashoggi’s seemingly forced resignation. On May 17, 2010, Al Watan announced that Khashoggi resigned as editor-in-chief “to focus on his personal projects.” However, it is thought that he was forced to resign due to official displeasure with articles published in the paper that were critical of the Kingdom’s harsh Islamic rules; the one by al-Almaee was the last straw.
In December 2016, the Independent, citing a report from Middle East Eye, said Khashoggi had been banned by Saudi Arabian authorities from publishing or appearing on television “for criticising US President-elect Donald Trump.” That led Khashoggi to move permanently to the United States.
Khashoggi began writing for the Washington Post in September 2017, and still was contributing pieces up to the time of his death. In the Post, he criticized the Saudi-led blockade against Qatar, Saudi Arabia’s dispute with Lebanon, Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic dispute with Canada, and the Kingdom’s crackdown on dissent and the media. But he also supported some of Crown Prince’s reforms, such as allowing women to drive. He condemned the arrest of Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, and several other women’s rights advocates involved in the women-to-drive movement and the anti male-guardianship campaign. He opposed the Saudi-Israel alliance.
By 2017, Khashoggi, who had two million Twitter followers, was the best known pundit in the Arab world. He has been hailed in the West as a progressive, but that is a case of misunderstanding his aims. Khashoggi believed in spreading Islamic rule, the same goal as that of any Jihadi, but he wanted to achieve that goal through political Islam. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1970s and remained true to it, even praising it in a Washington Post column. Some described him as the de facto leader of the Saudi branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Crown Prince, on the other hand, believes that the Muslim Brotherhood is a danger to the Kingdom, that is, to his family’s continued rule.
Khashoggi flourished in Washington during the last year. He became a regular guest on the major TV news networks in Britain and the United States, as well as a columnist for the Washington Post. In 2018 Khashoggi established a new political party, in the West, called Democracy for the Arab World Now, which — had he lived — could have become a major political threat to Crown Prince Mohammed.
During this past year, there have been many Saudi emissaries — “businessmen” — who met with Khashoggi in Washington, to promise him he would be safe if he returned to the Kingdom; the Crown Prince, too, offered to make him an “advisor” if only he would return. He turned them all down, telling a friend that he would have to have been crazy to believe their assurances.
Khashoggi was not a secularist, not a Saudi Ataturk, as some in the West seem to think. He believed in Islam and wanted it to spread, but to do so through “democratic” means — the “political Islam” of, for example, Mohamed Morsi in Egypt or Rachid Ghannouchi in Tunisia. He disliked the Saudi family’s censorship of the media; he believed that criticism might weaken the hold of the Al-Saud, but strengthen the sinews of the state and of the Muslim Brotherhood. He knew how corrupt the Saudi system was, and knew, too, how unforgiving the Crown Prince could be. Yet he still maintained his faith that there were some limits to Saudi ruthlessness, which is why, on October 2, he went to the consulate in Istanbul. We see — as he suddenly saw, just before the murderers started in on him — that he was wrong.




David Krayden | Ottawa Bureau Chief
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland wants “a credible and transparent investigation” into what happened to Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Freeland told the Globe and Mail Friday that “names have to be named and responsibility has to be borne.”
Freeland made the comments before the Saudi government admitted that Khashoggi was indeed dead — though according to the kingdom, the former Washington Post columnist had been on the unlucky end of a fight, and there was no mention of torture, murder or dismemberment. (RELATED: Saudi Doctor Prescribed Music For Those Watching Journalist Getting Murdered, Dismembered)
Members of Human Rights Association (IHD) hold portraits of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi reading "Jamal Khashoggi is missing since October 2" during a demonstration outside Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul on October 9, 2018. KILIC/AFP/Getty Images
Members of Human Rights Association (IHD) hold portraits of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. KILIC/AFP/Getty Images
“Those responsible must be named, they have to be called to account, they have to bear full responsibility for this. That is something that, speaking for Canada, we are insisting on,” Freeland told the Globe.
Even before the Saudis issued a statement on Khashoggi’s death, Freeland was doubting the veracity of Saudi reports.
“There’s a lot of information that has been made public, and the direction that that is pointing is extremely worrying,” Freeland told the Globe.
“This is extremely serious, and it’s important to be absolutely sure of the facts, and absolutely sure of who is responsible. But the amount of time it takes to have that certainty can also not be infinite.”

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland during news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 31, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
Canada remains in a diplomatic battle with Saudi Arabia after Freeland tweeted criticism of the Saudi government’s treatment of civil rights activists.
Freeland told the Globe that Canada continues to discuss the Khashoggi incident with those concerned.
“We’re talking to Turkey, we’re talking to Saudi Arabia and we’re talking to our allies more broadly. There’s a very close co-ordination and very close conversation among key NATO and key G7 allies on this issue,” she said. (RELATED: Saudi Arabia Tells Canada To Stop Treating Mideast State Like ‘A Banana Republic’)
The foreign affairs minister hesitated to name any specific actions Canada would take against Saudi Arabia if the government is proven to be liable for Khashoggi’s death, but she suggested there would be harsh ramifications.

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