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Saudi dissident prince flies home to tackle MBS succession

Prince Ahmad bin Abdulaziz returns to Riyadh with UK and US security guarantees and a brief to cut the crown prince down to size.

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Saudi dissident prince flies home to tackle MBS succession, via The Middle East Eye


Prince Ahmad bin Abdulaziz, the younger brother of King Salman, has returned to Saudi Arabia after a prolonged absence in London, to mount a challenge to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman or find someone who can.

The septuagenarian prince, an open critic of bin Salman (MBS), has travelled with security guarantees given by US and UK officials.

“He and others in the family have realised that MBS has become toxic,” a Saudi source close to Prince Ahmad told Middle East Eye.

“The prince wants to play a role to make these changes, which means either he himself will play a major role in any new arrangement or to help to choose an alternative to MBS.”

The source said that the prince returned “after discussion with US and UK officials”, who assured him they would not let him be harmed and encouraged him to play the role of usurper.

Apart from those western guarantees, Ahmad is also protected by his rank.

Last November, bin Salman conducted a sweeping purge of dissident royals, yet was not able to touch any sons of King Abdulaziz, the founder of the modern Saudi state, who are regarded as too senior a target for him.

Disquiet grows

The 33-year-old heir to the Saudi throne’s dominance in the kingdom has come under intense scrutiny following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on 2 October, leading to speculation that he could be replaced.

MEE understands that while Prince Ahmad was in London he held meetings with other members of the Saudi royal family who are currently living outside the kingdom.

Prince Ahmad also consulted figures inside the kingdom who have similar concerns and have encouraged him to usurp his nephew.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has come under intense pressure. (Reuters)

MEE also understands there are three senior princes who support Prince Ahmad’s move, who cannot be named for fear of compromising their security. All have held top positions in the military and security forces.

Meanwhile, in Washington disquiet grows.

Writing in the New York Times, former national security advisor to the Obama administration and US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said: “Looking ahead, Washington must act to mitigate the risks to our own interests. We should not rupture our important relationship with the kingdom, but we must make clear it cannot be business as usual so long as Prince Mohammed continues to wield unlimited power.

“It should be United States policy, in conjunction with our allies, to sideline the crown prince in order to increase pressure on the royal family to find a steadier replacement,” she added.

Turkish standoff

Prince Ahmad’s return will only increase the pressure on bin Salman, who is at the centre of a standoff between Saudi Arabia and Turkey after Khashoggi was murdered in his country’s consulate in Istanbul.

The Turkish authorities are demanding the Saudis tell them where Khashoggi’s body is, and the Saudis are insisting that Turkey hand over the audio tapes of the execution, details of which have routinely been leaked to the media.

In a thinly veiled attack on the crown prince, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday accused the Saudis of protecting the person responsible for the murder.

“A game to save somebody lies beneath this,” Erdogan told reporters following a speech in parliament on Tuesday. “We won’t leave Khashoggi’s murder behind.”

The Turkish president, who outlined some of the investigation into Khashoggi’s murder in an address last week, has promised to reveal more details about the killing but has so far refrained from doing so.

Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb leaves his country’s consulate in Istanbul. (AP)

Saudi chief prosecutor Saud al-Mujeb has met Istanbul’s chief prosecutor Irfan Fidan twice in the last two days, but no progress has been reported.

The Saudis are continuing to refuse Turkish investigators access to the well in the grounds of the consul-general’s home, which is 500 metres from the consulate.

After first denying that Khashoggi had been murdered in the consulate, the Saudis now say they have arrested 18 suspects, 15 of which were members of a death squad sent to kill the prominent critic of the crown prince.

Bin Salman has repeatedly denied knowledge of the operation, which included five members of his personal security detail, three of whom accompanied him on high-profile trips to London, Washington and Paris.

On Monday Mujeb offered Fidan the suspects’ testimony. Turkey, though, demands their extradition, so they can stand trial and give evidence to a Turkish court. Saudi Arabia is refusing this.

On record

Before the Khashoggi affair, Prince Ahmad’s opposition to his nephew was a matter of public record. He has challenged him openly on three occasions:

First, in the summer of 2017, when the king’s brother was one of three members of the Allegiance Council, a body of senior royals tasked with choosing the succession, to oppose bin Salman’s appointment as crown prince.

Prince Ahmed pointedly did not give an oath of allegiance to his nephew when he was made King Salman’s heir.

Second, when Prince Ahmad and King Salman’s brother, Abdelrahman bin Abdulaziz, died last year. Only two pictures were hung at the reception given by Prince Ahmad, that of King Abdulaziz and the current monarch. The crown prince’s portrait was notably missing.

Third, last month, when Prince Ahmad approached Yemeni and Bahraini protesters outside his London home who were calling the al-Sauds a criminal family.

He told them the family as a whole does not bear responsibility for the war in Yemen, only the king and crown prince do.

“They are responsible for crimes in Yemen. Tell Mohammed bin Salman to stop the war,” Prince Ahmad was recorded as telling them in Arabic.

Fraught with risk

Prince Ahmad’s return to Riyadh is fraught with risk.

He is believed to have the support of significant figures in the family who now believe after the Khashoggi affair that the crown prince is permanently tainted in the West and toxic to the reputation of the family as a whole.

A Saudi dissident prince in Germany, Prince Khaled bin Farhan, told MEE in May that princes Ahmad and Muqrin bin Abdulaziz could both restore the reputation of the family, which has been destroyed by King Salman’s “irrational, erratic and stupid” rule.

“There is so much anger within the royal family,” Prince Khaled said. “I took this information and appealed to my uncles Ahmad and Muqrin, who are the sons of Abdulaziz and are highly educated, well versed and able to change things for the better. I can say that we are all behind them and support them.”

Prince Farhan speaking to Middle East Eye in May. (MEE)

Among other Saudi exiles in London and Istanbul opinions differ. Some call Prince Ahmad too weak a figure to wrought change in the kingdom.

Others say that he has personal motives for wanting to see the back of bin Salman, having been passed over for the position of crown prince himself.

The key question is whether he will be able to perform the same role as King Faisal, who ousted his brother Saoud in the only previous family coup in 1964.

If all fails, however, Prince Ahmad could find himself fitting another historic parallel: Ahmed Shafik’s attempt to oust Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in March’s election.

Shafik, seen as Sisi’s most serious challenger, was encouraged to return to Egypt after a period of exile in Dubai.

Yet on his return he was disowned by fellow generals in the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and forced to abandon the presidential challenge.

Significantly Sisi did not attend the latest investment conference in Riyadh, the so-called “Davos in the Desert”, despite an invitation by MBS to do so.

 

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SteveShaun RameweTheCelotajsYou can call me ALVivian Tzamis Recent comment authors
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Fred
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Fred

Wow….a coup…regime change

You can call me AL
Guest
You can call me AL

Yes and no, same family, just a different POS.

Normski
Member
Normski

Send me the money and I’ll be quite happy to advise the Saudi regime on the best way forward from here. And, I’ll do a better job than Tony Blair for a fraction of the cost!.

You can call me AL
Guest
You can call me AL

Normski…please accept this offer to be the new ME peace envoy, plus vermin satanist to the Saudi hierarchy. Your payment will be a zillion pounds only on exchange of heart, other organs, any children and wives. may I suggest you also buy the most expensive and best fire proof clothing for you afterlife.

Vivian Tzamis
Guest
Vivian Tzamis

All theatre… Turkey & the Globalists putting on a show to distract the public…. Turkey has been the nexus of political assassination for centuries… they just opened a mega-airport… for the massive plundering of Central Asia.. the Middle East has played out… the Globalist Mafia has moved into Central Asia and of course Africa…One Belt…One Road…One Big Happy Mafia Family

TheCelotajs
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TheCelotajs

The best thing that could happen to Saudi Arabia is turn it in to glass.

Shaun Ramewe
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Shaun Ramewe

Glass is too civilized!!

Shaun Ramewe
Guest
Shaun Ramewe

More ZioWestern political meddling – install yet another sicko-liar coward-pervert again hey!!

Steve
Guest
Steve

Dead Man walking

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BREXIT chaos, as May’s cabinet crumbles (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 18.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the various scenarios now facing a crumbling May government, as the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is forcing cabinet members to resign in rapid succession. The weekend ahead is fraught with uncertainty for the UK and its position within, or outside, the European Union.

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If Theresa May’s ill-fated Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is eventually rejected this could trigger a vote of no confidence, snap elections or even a new referendum…

Here are six possible scenarios facing Theresa May and the UK (via The Guardian)

1 Parliament blocks Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement and political declarations

May faces an enormous task to win parliamentary approval, given that Labour, the SNP, the DUP and 51 Tories have said they will not vote for it.

If the remaining 27 EU member states sign off the draft agreement on 25 November, the government will have to win over MPs at a crucial vote in early December.

If May loses the vote, she has 21 days to put forward a new plan. If she wins, she is safe for now.

2 May withdraws the current draft agreement

The prime minister could decide that she will not get the draft agreement through parliament and could seek to renegotiate with the EU.

This would anger Tory backbenchers and Brussels and would be seen as a humiliation for her government. It might spark a leadership contest too.

3 Extend article 50

May could ask the European council to extend article 50, giving her more time to come up with a deal that could be passed by parliament – at present, the UK will leave on 29 March 2019.

Such a request would not necessarily be granted. Some EU governments are under pressure from populist parties to get the UK out of the EU as soon as possible.

4 Conservative MPs trigger a vote of no confidence in the prime minister

If Conservative MPs believe May is no longer fit for office, they could trigger a no-confidence vote.

Members of the European Research Group claim that Graham Brady, the chair of the powerful 1922 Committee, will receive the necessary 48 letters this week.

A vote could be held as soon as early next week. All Tory MPs would be asked to vote for or against their leader. If May wins, she cannot be challenged for at least 12 months. If she loses, there would be a leadership contest to decide who will become prime minister.

5 General election – three possible routes

If May fails to get support for the current deal, she could call a snap general election.

She would table a parliamentary vote for a general election that would have to be passed by two thirds of MPs. She would then set an election date, which could be by the end of January.

This is an unlikely option. May’s political credibility was severely damaged when she called a snap election in 2017, leading to the loss of the Conservative party’s majority.

Alternatively, a general election could be called if a simple majority of MPs vote that they have no confidence in the government. Seven Tory MPs, or all of the DUP MPs, would have to turn against the government for it to lose the vote, triggering a two-week cooling-off period. May would remain in office while MPs negotiate a new government.

Another route to a general election would be for the government to repeal or amend the Fixed-term Parliaments Act which creates a five-year period between general elections. A new act would have to be passed through both the Commons and the Lords – an unlikely scenario.

6 Second referendum

May could decide it is impossible to find a possible draft deal that will be approved by parliament and go for a people’s vote.

The meaningful vote could be amended to allow MPs to vote on whether the country holds a second referendum. It is unclear whether enough MPs would back a second referendum and May has ruled it out.

 

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Brexit Withdrawal Agreement may lead to Theresa May’s downfall (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 151.

Alex Christoforou

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The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement has been published and as many predicted, including Nigel Farage, the document is leading to the collapse of Theresa May’s government.

During an interview with iTV’s Piers Morgan, remain’s Alistair Campell and leave’s Nigel Farage, were calling May’s Brexit deal a complete disaster.

Via iTV

Alastair Campbell: “This doesn’t do remotely what was offered…what is the point”

“Parliament is at an impasse”

“We have to go back to the people” …”remain has to be on the ballot paper”

Nigel Farage:

“This is the worst deal in history. We are giving away in excess of 40B pounds in return for precisely nothing. Trapped still inside the European Union’s rulebook.

“Nothing has been achieved.”

“In any negotiation in life…the other side need to know that you are serious about walking away.”

“What monsieur Barnier knew from day one, is that at no point did Theresa May intend to walk away.”

“Fundamental matter of trust to the electors of our country and those who govern us.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, and why the deal is a full on victory for the European Union and a document of subjugation for the United Kingdom.

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Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Coming in at 585 pages, the draft agreement will be closely scrutinized over the coming days but here are some of the highlights as outlined by Zerohedge

  • UK and EU to use the best endeavours to supersede Ireland protocol by 2020
  • UK can request extension of the transition period any time before July 1st, 2020
  • EU, UK See Level-Playing Field Measures in Future Relationship
  • Transition period may be extended once up to date yet to be specified in the text
  • EU and UK shall establish single customs territory and Northern Ireland is in same customs territory as Great Britain

The future relationship document is less than seven pages long. It says the U.K. and EU are seeking a free-trade area with cooperation on customs and rules: “Comprehensive arrangements creating a free trade area combining deep regulatory and customs cooperation, underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field for open and fair competition.”

The wording might raise concerns among Brexiters who don’t want regulatory cooperation and the measures on fair competition could amount to shackling the U.K. to EU rules.

As Bloomberg’s Emma Ross-Thomas writes, “There’s a clear sense in the documents that we’re heading for a customs union in all but name. Firstly via the Irish backstop, and then via the future relationship.”

Separately, a government summary of the draft agreement suggests role for parliament in deciding whether to extend the transition or to move in to the backstop.

But perhaps most importantly, regarding the controversial issue of the Irish border, the future relationship document says both sides aim to replace the so-called backstop – the thorniest issue in the negotiations – with a “subsequent agreement that establishes alternative arrangements for ensuring the absence of a hard border on the island of Ireland on a permanent footing.”

On this topic, recall that the U.K.’s fear was of being locked into the backstop arrangement indefinitely in the absence of a broader trade deal. The draft agreement includes a review process to try to give reassurance that the backstop would never be needed. Basically, the U.K. could choose to seek an extension to the transition period – where rules stay the same as they are currently – or opt to trigger the backstop conditions. In fact, as Bloomberg notes, the word “backstop,” which has been a sticking point over the Irish border for weeks, is mentioned only once in the text.

As Bloomberg further adds, the withdrawal agreement makes clear that the U.K. will remain in a single customs area with the EU until there’s a solution reached on the Irish border. It’s what Brexiteers hate, because it makes it more difficult for the U.K. to sign its own free-trade deals, which they regard as a key prize of Brexit.

Predictably, EU Commission President Juncker said decisive progress has been made in negotiations.

Meanwhile, as analysts comb over the documents, Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group, has already written to Conservative lawmakers urging them to vote against the deal. He says:

  • May is handing over money for “little or nothing in return”
  • The agreement treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the U.K.
  • It will “lock” the U.K. into a customs union with the EU
  • It breaks the Tory election manifesto of 2017

The full document…

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4 resignations and counting: May’s government ‘falling apart before our eyes’ over Brexit deal

The beginning of the end for Theresa May’s government.

The Duran

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Via RT


Four high profile resignations have followed on the heels of Theresa May’s announcement that her cabinet has settled on a Brexit deal, with Labour claiming that the Conservative government is at risk of completely dissolving.

Shailesh Vara, the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office was the first top official to resign after the prime minister announced that her cabinet had reached a draft EU withdrawal agreement.

An hour after his announcement, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab – the man charged with negotiating and finalizing the deal – said he was stepping down, stating that the Brexit deal in its current form suffers from deep flaws. Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, submitted her letter of resignation shortly afterwards. More resignations have followed.

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, predicted that this is the beginning of the end for May’s government.

The government is falling apart before our eyes as for a second time the Brexit secretary has refused to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan. This so-called deal has unraveled before our eyes

Shailesh Vara: UK to be stuck in ‘a half-way house with no time limit’

Kicking off Thursday’s string of resignations, Vara didn’t mince words when describing his reservations about the cabinet-stamped Brexit deal.

Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement leaves the UK in a “halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally become a sovereign nation,” his letter of resignation states. Vara went on to warn that the draft agreement leaves a number of critical issues undecided, predicting that it “will take years to conclude” a trade deal with the bloc.

“We will be locked in a customs arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say,” he added.

Dominic Raab: Deal can’t be ‘reconciled’ with promises made to public

Announcing his resignation on Thursday morning, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU.”

Raab claimed that the deal in its current form gives the EU veto power over the UK’s ability to annul the deal.

No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said that Raab’s resignation as Brexit secretary is “devastating” for May.

“It sounds like he has been ignored,” he told the BBC.

Raab’s departure will undoubtedly encourage other Brexit supporters to question the deal, political commentators have observed.

Esther McVey: Deal ‘does not honor’ Brexit referendum

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey didn’t hold back when issuing her own letter of resignation. According to McVey, the deal “does not honour” the result of the Brexit referendum, in which a majority of Brits voted to leave the European Union.

Suella Braverman: ‘Unable to sincerely support’ deal

Suella Braverman, a junior minister in Britain’s Brexit ministry, issued her resignation on Thursday, saying that she couldn’t stomach the deal.

“I now find myself unable to sincerely support the deal agreed yesterday by cabinet,” she said in a letter posted on Twitter.

Suella Braverman, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU © Global Look Press / Joel Goodman
Braverman said that the deal is not what the British people voted for, and threatened to tear the country apart.

“It prevents an unequivocal exit from a customs union with the EU,” she said.

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