Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

Why Is There No ‘Saudi-Gate’? by Branko Marcetic

If you’re really concerned about foreign intervention into the US political process, start with Israel and Saudi Arabia, not Russia. From Branko Marcetic at antiwar.com:

For decades, the DC establishment has been on the payroll of a foreign terror state. But because it’s Saudi Arabia, you won’t hear a peep.

Imagine if Russia – instead of doing what it has been accused of doing last year – had funded and facilitated an attack on US soil that killed thousands of Americans. Then imagine that US policymakers, rather than punish the Kremlin by cutting diplomatic ties, imposing sanctions, seeking legal recourse, or all of the above, covered up its involvement in the attack and continued to treat it as a loyal ally.

Imagine if the president who presided over that attack had decades of intimate personal and financial ties to members of the Russian elite and subsequently spirited dozens of Russian nationals out of the country before law enforcement could interrogate them.

Imagine if, despite full knowledge of the Kremlin’s once and ongoing anti-American activities, successive presidents heaped praise on Russia’s authoritarian government, sold it weapons, and made regular pilgrimages to wine and dine with its leaders.

Imagine if an army of Russian lobbyists operated on Capitol Hill to ensure Washington’s pro-Kremlin line, eventually pressuring American leadership into actively assisting it in carrying out one of this decade’s worst war crimes.

Imagine if, at the end of all this, Donald Trump ran for president on an explicitly anti-Russia line, only to shamelessly reverse himself once elected, embrace the Russian leadership, and pursue policies that benefited them even more enthusiastically than his predecessors had.

It’s a pretty scary thought.

Thankfully, in the real world, none of this applies to Russia. It does, however, perfectly describe Saudi Arabia.

“A 9/11 Scale Event”

Politicians and pundits have clamored to label the alleged Russian interference an “act of war.” Several have compared it to Pearl Harbor, and Tom Friedman declared it a “9/11 scale event.”

Even more of a 9/11 scale event was the actual 9/11. Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were Saudi nationals, and the attack was planned by a scion of one of the country’s wealthiest and politically connected families. The hijackers, we now know thanks to the release of twenty-eight previously classified pages from the 9/11 commission’s report, had ties to members of the Saudi government, including the Saudi ambassador to the United States, who also belongs to the country’s royal family.

To continue reading: Why Is There No ‘Saudi-Gate’?

 

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Why Saudi Prince bin Talal’s ‘friends’ have abandoned him, by Jake Novak

Saudi Prince bin Talal is discovering who his true friends are, and it’s probably a lot fewer people than he thought. From Jake Novak at cnbc.com:

  • Investing celebrity Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has now been detained and reportedly tortured for more than three weeks.
  • The political and financial world has remained mostly silent or at least relatively calm about it.
  • Here are the uncomfortable political and financial reasons his so-called friends appear to have abandoned him.

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal

Mohammad Obaidi | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal

One of the world’s richest men and most sought-after investors has been under arrest and even reportedly tortured for more than three weeks.

That man is billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. He owns major stakes in Twitter and Citigroup. He was a key shareholder in 21stCentury FOX. His television interviews, including on CNBC, are promoted with “must-watch” status. He’s routinely called the “Warren Buffett of Saudi Arabia.”

But since November 5, bin Talal has been detained in a room at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh. The hotel has become a de facto prison for more than 200 of his fellow princes and Saudi officials as new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman conducts a sweeping and stunning purge of his real and potential political opponents.

To make matters worse, several credible reports have surfaced that bin Talal and the others are being tortured. One report says he’s been hung upside down and beaten. Those stories gained a level of credence earlier this week when another prince, Miteb bin Abdullah, paid a reported $1 billion for his freedom.
As bin Salman pushes to beef up Saudi Arabia’s military power and alliances against Iran, the official reason for these arrests is that they are part of an “anti-corruption probe.” But of course, the kingdom is not presenting anything in the way of documented evidence. That’s not how they roll in a regime that Human Rights Watch points out has no written penal code or criminal rights.

 

Lebanon in the Crosshairs, by Philip Giraldi

Is Lebanon the next Middle Eastern disaster for the US? From Philip Giraldi at lewrockwell.com:

If the United States climbs into bed with the Israelis and Saudis and commits to take down Iran it will wind up having to do the hard fighting in a war that could be unwinnable in any conventional sense.

There has been much discussion surrounding the travel of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to Saudi Arabia on November 4th. Al-Hariri, who is a Saudi-Lebanese dual national with considerable business and other personal interests in Saudi Arabia apparently complied with a summons to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been shaking up his government as part of what appears to be an attempt to concentrate more power in his own hands being marketed as a campaign against corruption. Al-Hariri was by some accounts met at the Riyadh airport unceremoniously and placed under something like house arrest. He shortly thereafter read a statement – or was it a script? – claiming that he had fled Lebanon in fear that he might be assassinated. He resigned his office and proceeded to denounce Iranian influence over his country, saying that Tehran was seeking to gain control through its dominance of Hezbollah and the acquiescence of the president, a Maronite Christian, Michel Aoun.

Al-Hariri was allowed to leave Saudi Arabia on Saturday, flying to Paris to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron, but his children and business interests are still in Saudi Arabia, suggesting that his actions will be dictated by Riyadh. Al-Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, was in Beirut on Wednesday for Lebanon’s Independence Day, where he was convinced to hold off on formally submitting his resignation to the government so more discussions could take place. This temporarily avoids a government crisis for the country, where a coalition carefully designed to balance the country’s three major religious constituencies only came together last year.

To continue reading: Lebanon in the Crosshairs

 

Is North Korea Really a ‘State Sponsor of Terrorism’? by Ron Paul

On that list of state sponsors of terrorism, one looks in vain for Saudi Arabia or the United States, both of whom have sponsored numerous terrorists, notably ISIS and al Qaeda. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

President Trump announced last week that he was returning North Korea to the US list of “state sponsors of terrorism” after having been off the list for the past nine years. Americans may wonder what dramatic event led the US president to re-designate North Korea as a terrorism-sponsoring nation. Has Pyongyang been found guilty of some spectacular terrorist attack overseas or perhaps of plotting to overthrow another country by force? No, that is not the case. North Korea is back on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism because President Trump thinks the move will convince the government to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program. He believes that continuing down the path toward confrontation with North Korea will lead the country to capitulate to Washington’s demands. That will not happen.

President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson argued that North Korea deserved to be back on the list because the North Korean government is reported to have assassinated a North Korean citizen – Kim Jong-Un’s own half-brother — in February at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. But what does that say about Washington’s own program to assassinate US citizens like Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16 year old son under Obama, and later Awlaki’s six year old daughter under Trump? Like Kim’s half brother, Awlaki and his two children were never tried or convicted of a crime before being killed by their own government.

The neocons, who are pushing for a war with North Korea, are extremely pleased by Trump’s move. John Bolton called it “exactly the right thing to do.”

Designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism will allow President Trump to impose the “highest level of sanctions” on North Korea. Does anyone believe more sanctions – which hurt the suffering citizens of North Korea the most – will actually lead North Korea’s leadership to surrender to Washington’s demands? Sanctions never work. They hurt the weakest and most vulnerable members of society the hardest and affect the elites the least.

So North Korea is officially a terrorism-sponsoring nation according to the Trump Administration because Kim Jong-Un killed a family member. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is in the process of killing the entire country of Yemen and no one says a word. In fact, the US government has just announced it will sell Saudi Arabia $7 billion more weapons to help it finish the job.

To continue reading: Is North Korea Really a ‘State Sponsor of Terrorism’?

Saudi Coalition Crumbles In Yemen: Sudanese Mercenaries On Front Lines, Foreign Officers, Proxies In Revolt, by Tyler Durden

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s ambitions far exceed his abilities. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Most Americans might be forgiven for having no clue what the war in Yemen actually looks like, especially as Western media has spent at least the first two years of the conflict completely ignoring the mass atrocities taking place while white-washing the Saudi coalition’s crimes. Unlike wars in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, which received near daily coverage as they were at their most intense, and in which many Americans could at least visualize the battlefield and the actors involved through endless photographs and video from on the ground, Yemen’s war has largely been a faceless and nameless conflict as far as major media is concerned.

Aside from mainstream media endlessly demonstrating its collective ignorance of Middle East dynamics, it is also no secret that the oil and gas monarchies allied to the West are rarely subject to media scrutiny or criticism, something lately demonstrated on an obscene and frighteningly absurd level with Thomas Friedman’s fawning and hagiographic interview with Saudi crown prince MBS published in the New York Times.


Saudi Arabia’s hired help in Yemen: Sudanese fighters headed to the front lines. Image souce: al-Arabiya

But any level of meticulous review of how the Saudi coalition (which heavily involves US assistance) is executing the war in Yemen would reveal a military and strategic disaster in the making. As Middle East Eye editor-in-chief David Hearst puts it, “All in all, the first military venture to be launched by the 32-year-old Saudi prince as defense minister is a tactical and strategic shambles.”

And if current battlefield trends continue, the likely outcome will be a protracted and humiliating Saudi coalition withdrawal with the spoils divided among Houthi and Saudi allied warlords, as well as others vying for power in Yemen’s tenuous political future. But what unsurprisingly unites most Yemenis at this point is shared hatred for the Saudi coalition bombs which rain down on civilian centers below. For this reason, Hearst concludes further of MBS’ war: “The prince, praised in Western circles as a young reformer who will spearhead the push back against Iran, has succeeded in uniting Yemenis against him, a rare feat in a polarized world. He has indeed shot himself, repeatedly, in the foot.

To continue reading: Saudi Coalition Crumbles In Yemen: Sudanese Mercenaries On Front Lines, Foreign Officers, Proxies In Revolt

Saudi-Israeli Friendship Is Driving the Rest of the Middle East Together, by Federico Pieraccini

Saudi Arabia and Israel may find themselves the odd men out in the Middle East. From Federico Pieraccini at strategic-culture.org:

Through its top official, Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), Saudi Arabia continues a wave of internal arrests, having seized nearly $800 billion in assets and bank accounts. A few days later, MBS attempted to demonstrate his authority by summoning Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Saudi Arabia, where he was forced to resign on Saudi state TV. Trump tweeted support for Bin Salman’s accusations against Iran and Hezbollah, and the future Saudi king even obtained Israel’s secret support. Iran, meanwhile, denies any involvement in Lebanon’s domestic affairs or involvement with the ballistic missile launched by Houthi rebels towards Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport a few days ago. Meanwhile, Trump, Putin and Xi met recently and seem to have decided the fate of the region in an exercise of realism and pragmatism.

News that upends the course of events has now become commonplace over the last few months. However, even by Middle East standards, this story is something new. The affair surrounding Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hariri generated quite a bit of commotion. Hariri had apparently been obliged to announce his resignation on Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya news channel while being detained in Riyadh. His most recent interview seemed to betray some nervousness and fatigue, as one would expect from a person under enormous stress from forced imprisonment. In his televised resignation statement, Hariri specified that he was unable to return to Lebanon due to some sort of a threat to his person and his family by operatives in Lebanon of Iran and Hezbollah. The Lebanese security authorities, however, have stated that they are not aware of any danger faced by Hariri.

In an endless attempt to regain influence in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has once again brought about results directly opposite to those intended. Immediately after receiving confirmation that the resignation had taken place in Saudi Arabia, the entire Lebanese political class demanded that Hariri return home to clarify his position, meet with the president and submit his resignation in person. Saudi actions have served to consolidate a united front of opposition factions and paved the way for the collapse of Saudi influence in the country, leaving a vacuum to be conveniently filled by Iran. Once again, as with Yemen and in Syria, the intentions of the Saudis have dramatically backfired.

To continue reading: Saudi-Israeli Friendship Is Driving the Rest of the Middle East Together

The US-Saudi Starvation Blockade, by Patrick J. Buchanan

The present situation in Yemen is a grotesque obscenity and the US is in league with the devil. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

Our aim is to “starve the whole population — men, women, and children, old and young, wounded and sound — into submission,” said First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill.

He was speaking of Germany at the outset of the Great War of 1914-1918. Americans denounced as inhumane this starvation blockade that would eventually take the lives of a million German civilians.

Yet when we went to war in 1917, a U.S. admiral told British Prime Minister Lloyd George, “You will find that it will take us only two months to become as great criminals as you are.”

After the Armistice of Nov. 11, 1918, however, the starvation blockade was not lifted until Germany capitulated to all Allied demands in the Treaty of Versailles.

As late as March 1919, four months after the Germans laid down their arms, Churchill arose in Parliament to exult, “We are enforcing the blockade with rigor, and Germany is very near starvation.”

So grave were conditions in Germany that Gen. Sir Herbert Plumer protested to Lloyd George in Paris that morale among his troops on the Rhine was sinking from seeing “hordes of skinny and bloated children pawing over the offal from British cantonments.”

The starvation blockade was a war crime and a crime against humanity. But the horrors of the Second World War made people forget this milestone on the Western road to barbarism.

A comparable crime is being committed today against the poorest people in the Arab world — and with the complicity of the United States.

Saudi Arabia, which attacked and invaded Yemen in 2015 after Houthi rebels dumped over a pro-Saudi regime in Sanaa and overran much of the country, has imposed a land, sea and air blockade, after the Houthis fired a missile at Riyadh this month that was shot down.

To continue reading: The US-Saudi Starvation Blockade