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Donald Trump’s achievement: getting through his first year as President

Trump has successfully withstood the most sustained attempt to eject a newly elected President from office in US history

Alexander Mercouris

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As 2018 begins Donald Trump has reason to be satisfied.

He has survived his first year in much better shape politically than might have been expected, seeing off the single most sustained attack on a newly elected President that the US has witnessed since Abraham Lincoln’s first year.

Newly elected US Presidents can normally expect a honeymoon in the first six months following their election, with support for them tending to tail off towards the year’s end.

In Donald Trump’s case the pattern has been the reverse.  Not only are his ratings improving but his position in Congress looks stronger now than it has ever been before.

Though talk of impeachment is still there, with the Republican Party in Congress now finally closing ranks behind him its prospect, even if the Democrats win control of Congress in the autumn, is starting to melt away.

In order to understand how this has happened the reasons for Donald Trump’s problems in his first year as President must first be explained.

Donald Trump won the Presidency as an outsider running against the US’s political class.  He did so by highlighting the growing problems of ever larger numbers of Americans and the growing disconnect between them and the political class, which has increasingly turned its back on them.

Nothing is more calculated to infuriate professionals than to be beaten by an amateur at their own game, and the mere fact that Donald Trump won the President as an outsider would have sufficed to make him a host of enemies in Washington.

However the manner of his victory – with his calls to “drain the swamp” and have “crooked Hillary” “locked up”, together with his emphatic rejection of ‘identity politics’, criticism of interventionist wars, and calls for a rapprochement with Vladimir Putin (the US political establishment’s bête noire) – in other words by his total rejection of the orthodoxies of the US’s political class – was horrifying, calling into question the whole political and ideological construct within which the political class operates and casting doubt on its legitimacy.

In view of this a pushback against Donald Trump was inevitable, and one fact more than any other gave it an extra spur.

This was that Donald Trump won the election in the Electoral College but lost the popular vote, falling behind his opponent Hillary Clinton by as much as 3 million votes.

There has been much discussion about this – far too much in my opinion – but the key point about it is that the fact that Donald Trump cannot show that a majority of Americans backed him in the election has exposed him to attacks on his legitimacy and has emboldened his opponents.

This is what lies behind the challenges he has experienced in his first year.

They began on the very first day of his Presidency with a row about the size of the crowd which attended his inauguration.

Contrary to what is often said, I do not think this was a trivial episode, and I am sure Donald Trump did not see it that way either. That is why he and his officials insisted in defiance of all the evidence that the crowd was bigger than it really was.

Trump has come in for much ridicule for this, but this overlooks the reason why the question of the size of the crowd was brought up in the first place.

It was in fact yet another attempt to highlight the fact that he lost the popular vote in the election so as to insinuate – again – that he is not the legitimately elected President of the United States because the majority of the American people did not vote for him.

Given that the issue of the size of the crowd was being used in that way, Trump’s insistence that it was larger than it was becomes fully understandable as a defence of the legitimacy of his election to the Presidency.

Soon after that attack more followed.

Within just two weeks of the start of Donald Trump’s Presidency a series of political and judicial attacks were launched against his ‘travel ban’ Executive Orders, even though these Orders fulfilled pledges he had made during his campaign.

Of all the attacks Donald Trump has experienced since his election the attacks on his ‘travel ban’ Executive Orders are the ones which have troubled me most.

This is not because I agree with the policy set out in the Executive Orders.  On the contrary I think it is harsh and cruel.  However I have never had the slightest doubt that Donald Trump has the constitutional authority as President to make these Orders, and I have been dismayed that no less a person than the Acting Attorney General of the United States not only argued otherwise but sought to sabotage them, and that several federal court judges have done the same, citing as grounds arguments wholly lacking in legal merit which read as if they were lifted straight out of the editorial pages of certain newspapers.

That it has required the Supreme Court to intervene to state what is legally obvious is deeply disturbing, and shows just how politicised the federal court system in the US has become.

The US constantly preaches to the world and to itself the importance of judicial independence, judicial impartiality and the separation of powers.  Indeed the whole US Constitution is based on these principles.

The grossly partisan way certain courts have behaved in the battle of the Executive Orders shows that in the US these principles are in danger of becoming a fiction.

That ought to be a very worrying fact, and it is a matter of still greater worry that so few Americans seem concerned about it.

If Donald Trump’s political opponents have not hesitated to use the courts and elements of the Justice Department’s bureaucracy to try to obstruct the implementation of his policies, they have also not hesitated to obstruct the appointment of officials to his administration.

The process of Senate confirmation of candidates for senior posts in the administration has been spun out to a ridiculous degree, with many middle ranking positions still unfilled.

This is not because the candidates Donald Trump is nominating are unfit for office.  It is because it is Donald Trump who is nominating them.

That this sort of behaviour is utterly self-destructive ought to be obvious.  The United States cannot function properly without a government yet some people in Congress appear to be so hostile to Donald Trump that they are prepared to sacrifice the efficient operation of the US government in order to conduct their feud with him.

It is however the Russiagate scandal which eclipses all other attacks which have been made against Donald Trump in his first year.

The origins of Russiagate go back to 2015 when Donald Trump up-ended US political class orthodoxy in the most radical imaginable way by speaking well of Russian President Vladimir Putin and making clear his wish for better relations with Russia.

In doing so Donald Trump had the courage to doubt one of the central charges the US political class regularly makes against Vladimir Putin: that he carries out extra-judicial killings (ie. murders) of his Russian political opponents.

Worse still, it turned out that the American people were not only unfazed by what Donald Trump had to say about Putin, but his talk of wanting a rapprochement with Russia was actually striking a positive chord with them.

To a US political class which to a disturbing degree has internalised hostility to Russia and for whom the demonisation of Vladimir Putin has become an article of faith, this was well nigh unbelievable heresy, so shocking that there had to be some ulterior motive behind it.

The result was a series of investigations which were launched in the first instance privately in the autumn of 2015 to try to find the ‘hidden link’ between Donald Trump and Russia which would explain his supposedly extraordinary behaviour.

These investigations gained critical mass in the early summer of 2016 when Hillary Clinton and her campaign hit on the story of Donald Trump’s supposed connections to Russia as the silver bullet which would kill off his campaign, divert attention away from the ugly revelations in the DNC and Podesta emails, and deliver Hillary Clinton the Presidency.

Accordingly at some point in July 2016 the private investigations of Donald Trump’s supposed Russian connections expanded into an official investigation by the FBI based on the Trump Dossier, a grotesque compilation of salacious gossip about Donald Trump and members of his campaign team paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign and put together at the request of Fusion GPS by the ex British spy Christopher Steele.

The result was that from July 2016 until the inauguration on 20th January 2017 members of Donald Trump’s campaign and transition teams were placed under surveillance by the FBI, with the US intelligence community publishing an extraordinary statement a month before the election which all but said that the Russians were trying to swing the election to Donald Trump, and publishing a further Intelligence Assessment on 8th January 2017 – after the election and shortly before the inauguration – which without providing any evidence again all but said the same thing.

This was accompanied in the last weeks of the transition period and the first weeks of the new administration by a flood of leaks from the Justice Department, the FBI, other sections of the US intelligence community and from former members of the Obama administration, which also sought to delegitimise Donald Trump and destabilise his administration by also insinuating that he owed his election to the Russians.

The media, which in the United States as in all other Western countries has now become the servant of the political class, picked up and magnified these unsupported claims to an extraordinary degree, treating the Russian role in Donald Trump’s election as “proved”, ridiculing Donald Trump’s denials, and labelling anyone expressing any doubt about the claims as a “Kremlin stooge” or a “conspiracy theorist”.

The resulting scandal has resulted in two very dangerous moments for Donald Trump.

The first came in February 2017 when with weeks of his inauguration he was forced to ask for the resignation of General Michael Flynn, his National Security Adviser and the person who was spearheading his attempt to mend relations with Russia.

Flynn was felled in part by his own mistakes but mainly by a concerted and in part illegal campaign of leaks and bureaucratic traps which in the end successfully brought him down.

Flynn’s resignation created a gap within the administration’s foreign policy team which has never been properly filled, but more critically it gave an appearance of reality to the conspiracy allegations at the heart of the Russiagate scandal, which gave the scandal extra life.

The immediate result was to harden the already strong hostility to Donald Trump in Congress, with many Republicans now convinced that there might be something to the Russian conspiracy allegations after all, making the possibility of impeachment appear for a time a very real one.

It was the bad feeling caused by the Flynn affair which in my opinion lay behind the strongly negative reaction to Donald Trump’s entirely correct and fully justified sacking of the FBI’s scheming and incompetent Director James Comey, and to the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel.

It was also the Flynn affair which led to the second dangerous moment in Donald Trump’s Presidency, the passing by Congress in August of its bizarre anti-sanctions legislation targeting Russia.

This was undoubtedly intended by Donald Trump’s Congressional opponents to be an impeachment trap akin to the equally unconstitutional Tenure of Office Act which in 1867 nearly felled Andrew Johnson.

The plan was that Donald Trump would veto the legislation, exposing his ‘loyalty’ to Vladimir Putin and Russia, Congress would then override his veto – just as it once overrode Andrew Johnson’s veto of the Tenure of Office Act – so that with with Trump discredited and his support in Congress shot to pieces Congress would move to impeachment as soon as a convenient pretext arose.

In the event Donald Trump showed much more political skill and agility than his opponents had reckoned on, sidestepping the impeachment trap they had laid for him by signing the legislation into law instead of vetoing it whilst making clear his belief in written provisos that the legislation is unconstitutional, thereby preparing the ground for a future challenge to the Supreme Court.

Since then events have begun to move in Donald Trump’s direction.

The reason is that the main thrust of the attack on him – the Russiagate scandal – has turned out to be a grotesque and gigantic misfire.

The evidence to back the collusion claims with Russia which Donald Trump’s opponents staked so much on in order to bring him down stubbornly refuses to appear, and the longer the scandal continues the more obvious it becomes that that it is not appearing because it is not there.

The result is that instead of Donald Trump being exposed as a Russian stooge, it is his opponents and the US security agencies who are being increasingly exposed as conducting a witch-hunt against him.  Moreover it has also become increasingly clear that this is a witch-hunt which has repeatedly tipped over into gross impropriety and sometimes into outright illegality.

The point has now been reached where even former Republican opponents of Donald Trump’s are now calling for the appointment of a new Special Counsel to investigate the actions of his accusers.

Though this has not yet been noticed by the wider US public, it has transformed the situation in Congress.

Whereas in July many Republicans in Congress were worried that their President would turn out to be a Russian stooge, now only an irreconcilable hardline minority of anti Trump Republicans in the  Senate believes it or pretends to believe it.

The result is that whereas in the first half of the year Donald Trump was desperately short of support in Congress, making it all but impossible for him to get legislation passed, now with the Republican Party in Congress rallying behind him not only is the danger of impeachment receding but he has finally scored his first big legislation win in the form of the tax reform bill, which is now set to become law.

Here I ought to say that I happen to think that the tax reform bill is as wrong on economic grounds as I think the entry policy contained in Donald Trump’s ‘travel ban’ Executive Orders is wrong on moral grounds.  However politically speaking it is Donald Trump’s success in getting the tax reform bill through Congress which is what matters.  The point is that whilst Donald Trump did not have sufficient support from Republicans in Congress to get it through six months ago, he has that support now.

The result is that with the Republican Party in Congress closing ranks behind him, with doubts about Robert Mueller’s and the FBI’s conduct of the Russiagate inquiry growing, and with the economy looking strong, Donald Trump starts 2018 politically much stronger than he has been at any time since he was inaugurated President.

Even his approval ratings are rising, so that according to one poll they now stand at the same level as Barack Obama’s at this stage in Obama’s Presidency.

Donald Trump has paid a price for his survival in his first year.

He has lost his two most important lieutenants – Flynn and Bannon – and has been obliged to surround himself with a Praetorian Guard of generals who behave more often as his captors than as his servants.

The result is that the belligerent foreign policy of confronting everybody everywhere all the time which Donald Trump pledged during the election to reverse has not only continued but has intensified.

As for the project to mend fences with Russia, at least for the moment it has been kicked into the long grass.

Given the forces stacked against him at the start of 2017 Donald Trump will consider that an acceptable price to pay.

The key point is that he has survived and grown stronger after the most sustained attack ever experienced in modern US history on a newly elected President.

It is now all but certain that he will continue to the end of his term, with at least a possibility – especially if the economy remains strong – that he will be re-elected in 2020.

Donald Trump’s political space is increasing.  The test of his Presidency will be how he uses it.

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Saudi Arabia’s version of events: Jamal Khashoggi died during a fist fight (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 5.

Alex Christoforou

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The BBC examines the stunning Saudi admission that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered from three angles:

What is Saudi Arabia’s version of events?

The kingdom says a fight broke out between Mr Khashoggi, who had fallen out of favour with the Saudi government, and people who met him in the consulate – ending with his death.

It says investigations are under way, and so far 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested.

Unnamed officials speaking to Reuters news agency and the New York Times say the Saudis did not know the whereabouts of the body after it was handed to a “local collaborator” to dispose of.

In addition to the arrests, two senior officials have been sacked over the affair – deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, senior aide to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

The Saudi authorities have yet to give evidence to support this version of events.

Observers are questioning whether Saudi Arabia’s Western allies will find their account of a “botched rendition” convincing – and whether it will persuade them not to take punitive action against them.

US President Donald Trump said what had happened was “unacceptable” but that the arrests were an important “first step”. The UK Foreign Office said it was considering its next steps after hearing the report.

What did Turkey say?

“Turkey will reveal whatever had happened,” said Omer Celik of Turkey’s ruling AKP party, according to Anadolu news agency.

“Nobody should ever doubt about it. We are not accusing anyone in advance but we don’t accept anything to remain covered [up].”

Publicly Turkey has so far stopped short of blaming Saudi Arabia for the killing.

Turkish investigators, however, say they have audio and video evidence which shows Mr Khashoggi was killed by a team of Saudi agents inside the consulate and dismembered. Reports in Turkish media this week gave gruesome details of what are said to be his final minutes.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Saudi King Salman on Friday evening, and the two agreed to continue co-operating in the investigation.

How have Saudi’s Western allies reacted?

President Trump praised the kingdom for acting quickly and said the official explanation was “credible”, despite many US lawmakers expressing disbelief over the Saudi account.

Mr Trump stressed the importance of Saudi Arabia as a counterbalance to Iran in the Middle East, and pushed back against the need for sanctions against the country in light of the new information, talking about the effect of such a move on the US economy.

Earlier this week he warned of “very severe” consequences if Saudi Arabia was proved to have killed the journalist.

A number of US lawmakers, including a Republican highly critical of the Saudis, Senator Lindsey Graham, said they were sceptical about the report on the journalist’s death.

The UK Foreign Office described it as “a terrible act” and said the people behind the killing “must be held to account”.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at Saudi Arabia’s admission to killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a fist fight inside the Istanbul consulate…a story that the Trump White House has so far accepted, but many US Congressmen and mainstream media pundits outright reject.

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Meanwhile Reuters floated this story on turmoil inside the Saudi Kingdom as a trial balloon to see if anyone has the might to challenge a very unstable crown prince, by appealing to the frail King and his western allies.

Since he acceded to the throne in January 2015, the king has given MbS, his favorite son, increasing authority to run Saudi Arabia. But the king’s latest intervention reflects growing disquiet among some members of the royal court about MbS’s fitness to govern, the five sources said.

MbS, 33, has implemented a series of high-profile social and economic reforms since his father’s accession, including ending a ban on women driving and opening cinemas in the conservative kingdom.

But he has also marginalized senior members of the royal family and consolidated control over Saudi’s security and intelligence agencies.

His reforms have been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent, a purge of top royals and businessmen on corruption charges, and a costly war in Yemen.

Khashoggi’s disappearance has further tarnished the crown prince’s reputation, deepening questions among Western allies and some Saudis about his leadership.

“Even if he is his favorite son, the king needs to have a comprehensive view for his survival and the survival of the royal family,” said a fourth Saudi source with links to the royal court.

“In the end it will snowball on all of them.”

Saudi officials did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

MISCALCULATION

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied any role in Khashoggi’s disappearance. But the sources familiar with the royal court said the reaction from the United States, an ally for decades, had contributed to the king’s intervention.

“When the situation got out of control and there was an uproar in the United States, MbS informed his father that there was a problem and that they have to face it,” another source with knowledge of the royal court said.

The crown prince and his aides had initially thought the crisis would pass but they “miscalculated its repercussions”, this source said.

Turkish officials have made clear they believe Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, and two Turkish sources have told Reuters police have audio recordings to back up that assertion.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican close to President Donald Trump, on Tuesday accused MbS of ordering Khashoggi’s murder and called him a “wrecking ball” who is jeopardizing relations with the United States. He did not say what evidence he was basing the allegation on.

Trump said on Thursday he presumed Khashoggi was dead but that he still wanted to get to the bottom of what exactly happened. Asked what would be the consequences for Saudi Arabia, Trump said: “Well, it’ll have to be very severe. I mean, it’s bad, bad stuff. But we’ll see what happens.”

Trump has previously said “rogue killers” may have been responsible and has ruled out cancelling arms deals worth tens of billions of dollars. On Tuesday, Trump said he had spoken with MbS and that the crown prince told him he did not know what had happened in the consulate where Khashoggi went missing.

The case poses a dilemma for the United States, as well as Britain and other Western nations. Saudi Arabia is the world’s top oil exporter, spends lavishly on Western arms and is an ally in efforts to contain the influence of Iran.

But in a sign of the damage, a succession of international banking and business chiefs, including IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, JP Morgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon and Ford Chairman Bill Ford, have pulled out of a high-profile investment conference in Saudi Arabia this month.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday also abandoned plans to attend, as did Britain’s trade minister and the French and Dutch finance ministers, putting the event in question.

Saudi officials have said they plan to move forward with the conference, scheduled for Oct. 23-25, despite the wave of cancellations.

Neither JP Morgan nor Ford would elaborate on the reasons for the decision not to attend and did not comment on whether concerns about the disappearance of Khashoggi were a factor.

Lagarde had previously said she was “horrified” by media reports about Khashoggi’s disappearance. An IMF spokesperson did not give a reason for her deferring her trip to the Middle East.

TAKING CONTROL

Before the king’s intervention, Saudi authorities had been striking a defiant tone, threatening on Sunday to retaliate with greater action against the U.S. and others if sanctions are imposed over Khashoggi’s disappearance. A Saudi-owned media outlet warned the result would be disruption in Saudi oil production and a sharp rise in world oil prices.

“Reaction and threats to the possible sanctions of the last 24 hours were still (coming) from the crown prince,” the businessman close to royal circles said on Monday. “The king is now holding the file personally … and the tone is very different.”

The king has spoken directly with Erdogan and Trump in recent days. Both the king and his son met U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when he visited Riyadh on Tuesday.

King Salman, 82, spent decades as part of the inner circle of the Al Saud dynasty, which long ruled by consensus. In four decades as governor of Riyadh, he earned a reputation as a royal enforcer who punished princes who were out of line.

Whether he is willing or able to resume that role in this crisis remains unclear, palace insiders say. One source with links to the royal court said the king was “captivated” by MbS and ultimately would protect him.

Still, there is precedent for the king’s intervention.

He stepped in this year to shelve the planned listing of national oil company Saudi Aramco, the brainchild of MbS and a cornerstone of his economic reforms, three sources with ties to government insiders told Reuters in August. Saudi officials have said the government remains committed to the plans.

And when MbS gave the impression last year that Riyadh endorsed the Trump administration’s still nebulous Middle East peace plan, including U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the king made a public correction, reaffirming Riyadh’s commitment to the Arab and Muslim identity of the city.

Despite these rare instances of pushback, several of the sources close to the royal family said that King Salman had grown increasingly detached from decisions taken by MbS.

“He has been living in an artificially-created bubble,” said one of the sources. Lately, though, the king’s advisers have grown frustrated and begun warning him of the risks of leaving the crown prince’s power unchecked.

“The people around him are starting to tell him to wake up to what’s happening,” the source said.

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Kiev ‘Patriarch’ prepares to seize Moscow properties in Ukraine

Although Constantinople besought the Kiev church to stop property seizures, they were ignored and used, or perhaps, complicit.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The attack on the Eastern Orthodox Church, brought about by the US State Department and its proxies in Constantinople and Ukraine, is continuing. On October 20, 2018, the illegitimate “Kyiv (Kiev) Patriarchate”, led by Filaret Denisenko who is calling himself “Patriarch Filaret”, had a synodal meeting in which it changed the commemoration title of the leader of the church to include the Kyiv Caves and Pochaev Lavras.

This is a problem because Metropolitan Onuphry of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which is canonically accepted and acts as a very autonomous church under the Moscow Patriarchate has these places under his pastoral care.

This move takes place only one week after Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople unilaterally (and illegally) lifted the excommunications, depositions (removal from priestly ranks as punishment) and anathemas against Filaret and Makary that were imposed on them by the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate.

These two censures are very serious matters in the Orthodox Church. Excommunication means that the person or church so considered cannot receive Holy Communion or any of the other Mysteries (called Sacraments in the West) in a neighboring local Orthodox Church. Anathema is even more serious, for this happens when a cleric disregards his excommunication and deposition (removal from the priesthood), and acts as a priest or a bishop anyway.

Filaret Denisenko received all these censures in 1992, and Patriarch Bartholomew accepted this decision at the time, as stated in a letter he sent to Moscow shortly after the censures. However, three years later, Patriarch Bartholomew received a group of Ukrainian autocephalist bishops called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, who had been in communion with Filaret’s group. While this move may have been motivated by the factor of Bartholomew’s almost total isolation within Istanbul, Turkey, it is nonetheless non-canonical.

This year’s moves have far exceeded previous ones, though, and now the possibility for a real clash that could cost lives is raised. With Filaret’s “church” – really an agglomeration of Ukrainian ultranationalists and Neo-Nazis in the mix, plus millions of no doubt innocent Ukrainian faithful who are deluded about the problems of their church, challenging an existing arrangement regarding Ukraine and Russia’s two most holy sites, the results are not likely to be good at all.

Here is the report about today’s developments, reprinted in part from OrthoChristian.com:

Meeting today in Kiev, the Synod of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) has officially changed the title of its primate, “Patriarch” Philaret, to include the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras under his jurisdiction.

The primate’s new official title, as given on the site of the KP, is “His Holiness and Beatitude (name), Archbishop and Metropolitan of Kiev—Mother of the cities of Rus’, and Galicia, Patriarch of All Rus’-Ukraine, Svyaschenno-Archimandrite of the Holy Dormition Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras.”

…Thus, the KP Synod is declaring that “Patriarch” Philaret has jurisdiction over the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras, although they are canonically under the omophorion of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Philaret and his followers and nationalistic radicals have continually proclaimed that they will take the Lavras for themselves.

This claim to the ancient and venerable monasteries comes after the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced that it had removed the anathema placed upon Philaret by the Russian Orthodox Church and had restored him to his hierarchical office. Philaret was a metropolitan of the canonical Church, becoming patriarch in his schismatic organization.

Representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have clarified that they consider Philaret to be the “former Metropolitan of Kiev,” but he and his organization continue to consider him an active patriarch, with jurisdiction in Ukraine.

Constantinople’s statement also appealed to all in Ukraine to “avoid appropriation of churches, monasteries, and other properties,” which the Synod of the KP ignored in today’s decision.

The KP primate’s abbreviated title will be, “His Holiness (name), Patriarch of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine,” and the acceptable form for relations with other Local Churches is “His Beatitude Archbishop (name), Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine.”

The Russian Orthodox Church broke eucharistic communion and all relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate over this matter earlier this week. Of the fourteen local Orthodox Churches recognized the world over, twelve have expressed the viewpoint that Constantinople’s move was in violation of the canons of the Holy Orthodox Church. Only one local Church supported Constantinople wholeheartedly, and all jurisdictions except Constantinople have appealed for an interOrthodox Synod to address and solve the Ukrainian matter in a legitimate manner.

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Claims of Khashoggi death by fistfight expose Saudi brutality

The brutality of both state claims and unproven allegations in Khashoggi’s death raise serious questions about American alliances.

Seraphim Hanisch

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On October 2, 2018, Muslim Brotherhood member and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey, never to be seen or heard from again.

This chilling report has been answered with some horrifying and grisly stories about what happened – that he was dismembered while still alive, that his body parts were dissolved completely in acid, leaving nothing left.

Now after two weeks, the Saudi official word on what happened came out: He died in an unexpected fistfight in the embassy.

Really. That is the Saudi’s explanation. A fistfight. In an embassy. With 18 people detained as suspects in the investigation.

And apparently the Saudi government expects the world to accept this explanation and just let it go.

This situation has just exposed the true nature of this “ally” of the United States. Even Rush Limbaugh, a staunch supporter of all conservative positions in America, has spoken from time to time about the amazing disconnect in American foreign policy with regards to Saudi Arabia. He continued that on his radio programs on both October 18th and 19th, 2018, as shown in this excerpted transcript, with emphasis added:

I’m simplifying this, folks, but generally that’s what happens. So, by the same token, you could say that this militant terrorist Islam that we’ve known since 9/11 and maybe 10, 15 years prior, that has been sponsored by Saudi Arabia, by the Saudi royal family. It’s why so many people have been upset with so many American presidents being buddy-buddy with the king, whoever he happens to be. The Saudis always fund former presidents’ libraries. I mean, the Saudis had a good thing going. They had relationships with every president, former president and so forth.

And while they were selling us oil, sometimes. Cooperative or uncooperative, depending on the time, with price. But during all of that, they were the primary thrust for Wahhabi Islam. Now, here comes MbS (Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia), and he wants to just reform the hell out of the country, get rid of Wahhabism, bring in petrodollars competitors such as Hollywood and Silicon Valley and basically bring Saudi Arabia into the twenty-first century instead of the seventh. And there’s some people that don’t want that to happen.

And from the 19th:

Wahhabi Islam is where the really radical clerics and Imams are who are welcoming anybody they can into their mosques and just literally converting them into suicide bombers, terrorists, and what have you, under the auspices of Islam. And the Saudi royal family stood by and let it all happen. Whether they were instrumental in advocating it, don’t know, but Saudi-funded charities all over the world promoted Wahhabism.

And that’s when I went back to Mr. Buckley and said, “I don’t see how the Saudi royal family, the Saudi government can be separated from these 19 hijackers.”

Now in the rest of these transcripts, which are very interesting, Rush explains that Khashoggi was a Muslim Brotherhood member, and as such, stood opposed to MbS’ reform plans and actions. However the brutality of the alleged murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the official “State version” account of his death are almost equally brutal. Death by fists? How is it that the United States considers such people allies?

President Trump is on record as saying that this explanation by the Saudi government is “credible.” However, this statement alone is out of context, so we bring you the entire statement:

This is not to be misunderstood as a Trump endorsement of belief. He points out that this is a first step, and that in his view it is a good one, but that is all.

Still, these events throw the real nature of the Saudi kingdom into sharp relief. They are the number one customer for US military equipment, now considered allies against Iran. In the complicated field of Middle East relations, the president’s caution is probably very wise for the moment. However, this is a nation which produced most of the 9/11 hijackers, which is said to be the last voice in what Islam is, and so promotes a very violent interpretation of an already violent faith.

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The news and information media got a great lesson in following something like “due process” with this matter, and while the President is doing that, this situation still invites some strong speculation. Allies that simultaneously seek an allied nation’s destruction do not seem like allies much at all. And embassies are usually held to be very safe places for people, not places where they meet their death in any way at all, let alone the cruel means alleged and later claimed.

This event may actually be very damaging to the Saudi Crown Prince’s effort to bring his nation out of Wahhabism and into some more kind interpretation of Islam, and indeed the West’s assessment of Khashoggi has taken to calling him a “teddy bear” when he is a Muslim Brotherhood member. Former US President Obama supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and these people were so violent, killing Christians and destroying homes and businesses, that the Muslim Brotherhood’s uprising was followed by a second uprising from the more reasonable people in Egypt (which Obama promptly dropped).

If reports are to be believed, Mohammed bin Salman wants to end Wahhabism. It would seem to logically make sense that his agencies were involved in what happened to Kashoggi, who is a known critic of bin Salman. But if it really is true that the Saudi royals were not involved, then whoever it was certainly succeeded in stopping bin Salman’s efforts to modernize his country, at least for now.

 

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