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The Killing of Saudi Journalist Khashoggi Could Spell the End for Mohammad bin Salman

The death of famous journalist Saudita Jamal Khashoggi is likely to have important repercussions, revealing the hypocrisy of the mainstream media, tensions inside the Saudi regime, and the double standards of Western countries.

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Via Strategic Culture

On October 2nd, 2018, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was allegedly killed inside Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Turkey. The sequence of events seems to show that the murder was premeditated. Two days before his death, Khashoggi went to the Saudi embassy in Istanbul to obtain documents pertaining to his divorce in preparation to remarry in the United States.

The Saudi embassy instructed him to return on October 2nd to collect the documents, which he duly did. He entered the embassy around 1pm on October 2nd but never exited. Khashoggi’s fiancée, after waiting several hours, raised the alarm as Khashoggi had instructed her to do should he not reemerge after two hours.

It is from here that we should start to reconstruct this story that resembles a science-fiction novel even by Saudi standards, a country that does not hesitate to kidnap heads of state, as was the case with the Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri, about a year ago.

Jamal Khashoggi is a controversial figure, a representative of the shadowy world of collaboration that sometimes exists between journalism and the intelligence agencies, in this case involving the intelligence agencies of Saudi Arabia and the United States.

It has been virtually confirmed by official circles within the Al Saud family that Khashoggi was an agent in the employ of Riyadh and the CIA during the Soviet presence in Afghanistan.

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From 1991 to 1999, he continued to serve in several countries like Afghanistan, Algeria, Sudan, Kuwait and other parts of the Middle East, often maintaining an ambiguous role in the service of his friend Turki Faisal Al-Saud, the future Saudi ambassador to Washington and London and later supreme head of Saudi intelligence for 24 years.

Khashoggi was named editor of the leading English-language magazine in Saudi Arabia, Arab News, from 1999 to 2003. In late 2003, he transferred to Al Watan, one of the most liberal, Western and pro-reform newspapers in the country.

His job lasted only 52 days, with him being removed strongly criticizing the Wahhabi clerical extremist Ibn Taymiyyah. Khashoggi had turned into a critical voice of the Saudi regime following the internal struggles between King Abdullah and Turki Faisal Al-Saud.

One of the main criticisms of Khashoggi coming from factions loyal to Abdullah was that he had recruited and paid several journalists on behalf of the CIA during his time as an editor. Such an accusation would conform with the widespread practice of the CIA seeking to influence the media, and therefore public opinion, and to put pressure on leaders failing to do what Washington wants.

To fully understand what has led to the disappearance of Khashoggi, it is important to dissect the career of Turki bin Faisal Al-Saud, Khashoggi’s political protector.

During the reign of King Khalid (1975-1982), Turki bin Faisal Al-Saud was at the center of relations between Washington and Saudi Arabia, committed to inflicting as much damage as possible on the USSR while it was in Afghanistan, with the help of foreign fighters (those who later became known as Al Qaeda) armed by Pakistan and financed by the Saudis. Following the end of the war in Afghanistan in 1982, Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud became king until 2005.

During this period, Faisal became a respected man within Saudi intelligence, leading to him becoming the undisputed leader. He was removed from his post on May 24, 2001, a few months before September 11, 2001. The connections he had with Osama bin Laden, following the attacks of September 11, 2001, continued to hound the Turki bin Faisal in subsequent years, even being sued by relatives of 9/11 victims in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit directed at him and other Saudi operatives.

From 2003 to 2005, Turki bin Faisal served as ambassador to the UK, emphasizing his role as a leading Saudi in the international community, and came across Khashoggi, taking him under his wing as a personal advisor.

In the ensuing years there was an explosive internal fracture within the Kingdom, accentuated by the death in 2005 of King Abdulaziz Al Saud, who was succeeded by King Abdullah until 2015.

In 2005, Turki bin Faisal was appointed Saudi ambassador to the US during the Bush administration, with Khashoggi accompanying him as a media advisor. During this period, Khashoggi became one of the strongest supporters of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, invoking diplomatic discussions between Riyadh and Tehran and travelling to over 37 American states to explain his point of view.

While advancing the interests of the Saudi regime bent on Wahhabism, while at the same time being a friend to Israeli Zionism and the American neocons, Turki bin Faisal took a less extremist position, one more directed towards dialogue. For these reasons, he was not often received at the White House during his reign as ambassador, with the US administration openly preferring the extremist Bandar bin Sultan (a great friend of the Bush family) to the apparently moderate Turki bin Faisal.

The natural result was that King Abdullah excluded him more and more from the main meetings that occurred between the Saudis and the Americans. Finally, bin Faisal resigned in protest. He was succeeded by Bandar bin Sultan.

Back to Khashoggi. It is important to note that after his departure from Al Watan he moved to London and became a senior advisor in Turki bin Faisal’s team. During Turki bin Faisal’s ambassadorship in Washington, Khashoggi assumed the position of head of press relations, coming into direct contact with major national and international organs of US media.

In the years following Turki bin Faisal’s ambassadorship in Washington, Khashoggi became a new publisher of the liberal Saudi newspaper Al Watan, publishing an article that was highly critical of the Saudi clerics and of Salafism in general. A few days later, he was again forced to resign and left the newspaper. It was after this event that Khashoggi came into direct contact with Al-Waleed bin Talal, one of the richest men in Saudi Arabia, who had been appointed director of the Al Arab news channel based in Bahrain.

The news channel sought to offer an impartial and objective view of events in the Middle East and in Saudi Arabia. As director of Al Arab, he often released statements and interviews for international organs like the BBC, ABC News, Al Jazeera and Dubai TV. In recent years, he became a recurring guest on Al Jazeera and had a weekly column in The Washington Post.

What happened to Khashoggi is the story not so much of a dissident as of a struggle within the highly complicated Zionist-Saudi-Neoconservative nexus that is intertwined with the struggle against the neoliberal component of US imperialism. It is a story that deserves to be fully explored to understand the behind-the-scenes struggles that afflict US politics, the hypocrisy of the media when it comes to the Saudi dictatorship, and the ambiguous role of Turkey.

Returning to Khashoggi, it was during the Obama presidency that the journalist played a primary role in encouraging important reforms in Saudi Arabia as being essential to the survival of the Kingdom. During this time, relations between Riyadh and Washington steadily worsened for many reasons, primarily in regard to diverging policies on Egypt and Syria as well as on human rights in Saudi Arabia.

Many in the Saudi royal family suspected that Obama was willing to use the Arab springs to get rid of the Al Saud family in Saudi Arabia. The relationship between Riyadh and Washington subsequently sunk to an all-time low. Khashoggi was the spearhead of this media and political strategy against Riyadh. An intimate friend of the royal family who ends up publicly criticizing them causes quite a stir, selling copies and drawing attention to what he writes.

Keep in mind that we are splitting the atom of the Saudi universe. But it should never be forgotten that we are talking about a regime that tortures and kills its fellow citizens as well foreigners. It is a regime that creates terrorism as a weapon used to further its own political goals. These are not people burdened by moral scruples.

Yet in spite of this, no country is monolithic in terms of those who hold the reigns of power, especially when it comes to foreign affairs. It is the competing views and internal struggles that determine the course of events, as with the case of Khashoggi’s death.

During the Obama administration, the former Saudi intelligence man and intimate of the royals continued to work as a house organ linked to the US world of soft power (color revolutions, Arab Spring), the form of power that was particularly favored by the Obama administration as a new strategy to extend US imperialist domination following the disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The criticism of the Saudi royal family was constant, even though the journalist appreciated the role Riyadh played in the region, especially with regard to the aggression against Syria.

In the following years, with the rise to power of King Salman, and especially after the victory of Donald Trump, everything changed for the worse in the region and for the “dissident” journalist. Bin Salman became the strongman holding power in Saudi Arabia, triggering, with a nod from Trump, a near war with Qatar, especially over the role of Al Jazeera, which often hosted Khashoggi and was increasingly critical of bin Salman and his vision for the Kingdom’s future (Vision 2030).

During bin Salman’s campaign of repression, the King’s nephew took the opportunity to attack all his opponents, with many people close to Khashoggi being arrested, tortured and killed. His old acquaintance in particular, Al-Waleed bin Talal, was arrested and tortured, much to the displeasure of the West, given that he was one of the most famous Saudis abroad, being involved with companies like Twitter.

In a climax of repression, even the Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri, was kidnapped and spirited to Riyadh to be re-educated over a number of days. Khashoggi sensed the looming danger, and in 2017 escaped from Saudi Arabia to settle in the United States.

Khashoggi continued with his columns criticizing the Saudi regime, attacking its campaign in Yemen on Al Jazeera, and accusing bin Salman of being anything but a positive revolutionary for the Kingdom. Khashoggi’s criticism pointed to the lack of democracy as well as the sclerosis at the top in the Saudi kingdom, accusations that bin Salman chafed at, finally deciding to be rid of the journalist.

The events in Istanbul are the culmination of a grotesque situation whereby Donald Trump has granted a free hand to his two close allies in the region, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Analyzing the actions of these two countries over the last 24 months, the extent of Washington’s carte blanche has become clear.

We could venture into fanciful speculation about Khashoggi’s death, citing anonymous Saudi sources; or we could simply come to the most obvious conclusion. Khashoggi was arrested in the embassy before being tortured, killed and dismembered by about 15 Saudi operatives who arrived in Istanbul on a day flight from Riyadh and departed a few hours after Khashoggi’s killing. It is hard to believe that the Turkish services, which have always played the double- and triple-crossing game, did not know what was happening.

Khashoggi himself had probably received assurances that the Saudi embassy in Istanbul was a safe place to collect the documents. He was obviously betrayed by someone in whom he had strong trust.

Turkey is a strong ally of Qatar and plays a major role in the region. Relations between Riyadh and Ankara have not been the best in recent years, but their common interests in the region are so high that it is not surprising that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization has closed more than one eye to allow Khashoggi’s assassination and the exit of the 15 operatives.

Besides, Erdogan was well aware of the problems that this story would have created between the United States and Saudi Arabia, especially within the ranks of the liberal media of the US establishment.

The problems flowing from this settling of internal accounts are manifold. They range from the indignation of such mainstream media as The Washington Post, CNN and ABC News that are beginning to reveal grisly details about Khashoggi’s death, even if they treat the news with detachment, not openly attributing blame to Riyadh. Saudi money from various lobbies dampens the effect of such media attention, succeeding in dissuading direct accusations of Saudi involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance.

The more time that passes the more obvious it becomes how Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate on the orders of bin Salman as a critic of the Kingdom. At some point, the mainstream media will no longer be able to cover up for the Saudis. It all comes down to the possibility of plausible deniability or legitimate justification. Both these elements are difficult for the US to employ in this case.

The upshot is an explosive situation that threatens to further isolate Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States from the rest of the world. Thus the White House had to even express in an official note confusion and concern, asking the Saudis to provide real evidence of Khashoggi’s exit from the Saudi consulate. We must also consider that Riyadh planned to blame Turkey for the disappearance of the journalist, stating that, having come out from the embassy, ​​the disappearance was the fault of Turkey.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Erdogan has insisted that “the burden of demonstrating how Khashoggi is still alive belongs to Saudi Arabia.” Even the tour of the consulate offered to foreign journalists has failed to silence what seems too obvious. Riyadh overreached following Trump’s wink and nod, eliminating an uncomfortable voice that was also very close to Riyadh’s geopolitical enemies like Qatar as well the US neoliberal faction (linked to Obama and to the faction close to the Muslim Brotherhood, outlawed in Saudi Arabia because it presents itself as a political alternative to the state religion of Wahhabism).

In an series of reckless actions, the last 12 months have seen all sorts of provocations from Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia. There was the downing of a Russian Il-20 through the intentionally reckless maneuvers of Israeli pilots, the more than 200 bombings on the sovereign state of Syria, cooperation with Riyadh in the war in Yemen, the threats to Hezbollah and Iran that Netanyahu even proclaimed in front of the United Nations General Assembly.

Saudi Arabia even managed to do worse, with the abduction of the Lebanese prime minister, the continued funding of extremists like Daesh and al Qaeda, the nefarious actions against Qatar and Iran, the bombing of Yemen, and recently the killing of a journalist in a Saudi embassy. For its part, the US in recent days has made two unthinkable declarations, namely, threatening a first strike against Moscow to eliminate some military weaponry, as well as a naval blockade to prevent energy exports.

With the Khashoggi incident and the ensuing media outcry, the ideological hatred of the mainstream media against Trump and the increasingly precarious situation of Netanyahu (accused of corruption, with his wife also being investigated), it should not be surprising if this latest incident only serves as ammunition in the political war amongst the elite that shows no signs of subsiding and is instead growing in intensity by the day.

One of the last alliances that the United States has available to influence events in the Middle East risks falling apart as a result of bin Salman’s ill-advised actions. Erdogan has already challenged the Saudis by asking them to prove that the journalist is alive. There is open speculation in the Kingdom about the implications of the clash between Ankara and Riyadh and between bin Salman and Erdogan. There are those who are willing to bet that this latest reckless action could prove fatal for the ruler who, after just a year and a half, seems to have exhausted his whole store of experience as the Kingdom’s young despot.

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FlorianGeyerOld DudeYou can call me ALRaymond ComeauTEP Recent comment authors
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thomas malthaus
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I’m beginning to wonder how connected the author is to the nexus?

gra gor
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gra gor

Please explain your cryptic comment.

FlorianGeyer
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FlorianGeyer

The moral decay of Western governments and corporate media is well exampled by the Khashoggi affair.

Whether he is dead or not, the value put on his life and the lives of over one million cholera victims caused by Saudi bombing in Yemen are at opposite ends of the moral spectrum.

Those who profit from their association with Saudi Arabia are no different from those who profit from slavery, organ trafficing and criminal drug sales.

Guy
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Guy

“Those who profit from their association with Saudi Arabia ”
I agree Florian . Accomplices is what they are . For once Canada has chosen to at least chastise the malfeasance of the Saudis .

Smokingeagle
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Smokingeagle

Canada’s “chastisements” are but words. Canada is good at delivering up words in both official languages, but not so much when it comes to following them up with actions. The bottom line is that Canada continues to sell arms to Saudi Arabia despite the tens of thousands of Yemenis being exterminated. One journalist killed at the Saudi consulate in Turkey is not going to change arms deals.

“Those who profit from their association with Saudi Arabia”. Is not Canada profiting from arms sales, and doesn’t this make it an accomplice? Be judged by the company you keep, Canada.

Raymond Comeau
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Raymond Comeau

Thank you smokingeagle. You are 100 % correct. Prime Minister Trudeau does what his handlers tell him and hides Canada’s stealth behind a flimsy fig leaf. PM Trudeau would be out in the street after the coming election if we had a decent opposition. Canada, at best, in this day and age is a USA Puppet State Country.

Old Dude
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Old Dude

Absolute Western hypocrisy, compare this to the Skripal affair which saw Russia being blamed and 100 or so Russian diplomats expelled and sanctions placed on Russia within days of the event.

FlorianGeyer
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FlorianGeyer

@ Old Dude, Funnily enough I discussed the same issue with my sister today 🙂 The term ‘Highly Likely ‘ in the Khashoggi affair is almost a certainty after his alleged Apple Watch recording his murder was retrieved from the ‘Apple Cloud ‘. I looked at the BBC News earlier and there were no clarion cries to immediately sanction and punish Saudi Arabia etc. There was another mundane discussion about Brexit though 🙂 In the UK , if a person sells a firearm to an unlicensed criminal there is a ‘highly likely and severe penalty of a long jail term.… Read more »

Vera Gottlieb
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Vera Gottlieb

Do we actually have proof that he no longer is alive? And pretty soon this will have blown over and business-as-usual with Saudi Arabia continues.

Smokingeagle
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Smokingeagle

He instructed his fiancée to raise the alarm if he failed to reemerge from the embassy after two hours. This shows that he was concerned for his safety. He did not emerge from the embassy and make contact with her, so one can assume that either he is dead or else still alive but held prisoner inside the embassy. If Khashoggi were still alive and if he were allowed to make contact with the outside world, surely he would have done so. A lot of ifs, no actual proof, but many probably well-founded suspicions. Saudi Arabia isn’t exactly trustworthy. Ditto… Read more »

Raymond Comeau
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Raymond Comeau

Khashoggi’s involvement with certain “Friends” and his negative writings about Saudi Arabia is probably what led him to his death by the Saudi Regime Gestapo! He was playing with fire and got burned up!

You can call me AL
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You can call me AL

“He instructed his fiancée to raise the alarm if he failed to reemerge from the embassy after two hours.” …… that is handy isn’t it ?.

I am calling false flag to work with other powers in SA, that will not talk back to the US.

JPH
Guest
JPH

Saw Trump already emphasizing that US arm sales to SA amount to 110 billion which implies a whole lot of jobs on the line….so…
Anyway the murder of one journalist will not achieve what thousands of massacred Yemeni failed to achieve.

TEP
Guest
TEP

Best article I have seen on this topic yet, even better than the Moon Of Alabama’s take, who I hold in the highest esteem. Detailed informed analysis, what more could be ask for? 10/10.

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Foreign Banks Are Embracing Russia’s Alternative To SWIFT, Moscow Says

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative.

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Via Zerohedge


On Friday, one day after Russia and China pledged to reduce their reliance on the dollar by increasing the amount of bilateral trade conducted in rubles and yuan (a goal toward which much progress has already been made over the past three years), Russia’s Central Bank provided the latest update on Moscow’s alternative to US-dominated international payments network SWIFT.

Moscow started working on the project back in 2014, when international sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea inspired fears that the country’s largest banks would soon be cut off from SWIFT which, though it’s based in Belgium and claims to be politically neutral, is effectively controlled by the US Treasury.

Today, the Russian alternative, known as the System for Transfer of Financial Messages, has attracted a modest amount of support within the Russian business community, with 416 Russian companies having joined as of September, including the Russian Federal Treasury and large state corporations likeGazprom Neft and Rosneft.

And now, eight months after a senior Russian official advised that “our banks are ready to turn off SWIFT,” it appears the system has reached another milestone in its development: It’s ready to take on international partners in the quest to de-dollarize and end the US’s leverage over the international financial system. A Russian official advised that non-residents will begin joining the system “this year,” according to RT.

“Non-residents will start connecting to us this year. People are already turning to us,”said First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia Olga Skorobogatova. Earlier, the official said that by using the alternative payment system foreign firms would be able to do business with sanctioned Russian companies.

Turkey, China, India and others are among the countries that might be interested in a SWIFT alternative, as Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out in a speech earlier this month, the US’s willingness to blithely sanction countries from Iran to Venezuela and beyond will eventually rebound on the US economy by undermining the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency.

To be sure, the Russians aren’t the only ones building a SWIFT alternative to help avoid US sanctions. Russia and China, along with the European Union are launching an interbank payments network known as the Special Purpose Vehicle to help companies pursue “legitimate business with Iran” in defiance of US sanctions.

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative. For one, much of Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas and oil.

And as Russian trade with other US rivals increases, Moscow’s payments network will look increasingly attractive,particularly if buyers of Russian crude have no other alternatives to pay for their goods.

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US leaving INF will put nuclear non-proliferation at risk & may lead to ‘complete chaos’

The US is pulling out of a nuclear missile pact with Russia. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty requires both countries to eliminate their short and medium-range atomic missiles.

The Duran

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Via RT


If the US ditches the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), it could collapse the entire nuclear non-proliferation system, and bring nuclear war even closer, Russian officials warn.

By ending the INF, Washington risks creating a domino effect which could endanger other landmark deals like the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and collapse the existing non-proliferation mechanism as we know it, senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said on Sunday.

The current iteration of the START treaty, which limits the deployment of all types of nuclear weapons, is due to expire in 2021. Kosachev, who chairs the Parliament’s Upper House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that such an outcome pits mankind against “complete chaos in terms of nuclear weapons.”

“Now the US Western allies face a choice: either embarking on the same path, possibly leading to new war, or siding with common sense, at least for the sake of their self-preservation instinct.”

His remarks came after US President Donald Trump announced his intentions to “terminate” the INF, citing alleged violations of the deal by Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly denied undermining the treaty, pointing out that Trump has failed to produce any evidence of violations. Moreover, Russian officials insist that the deployment of US-made Mk 41 ground-based universal launching systems in Europe actually violates the agreement since the launchers are capable of firing mid-range cruise missiles.

Leonid Slutsky, who leads the Foreign Affairs Committee in parliament’s lower chamber, argued that Trump’s words are akin to placing “a huge mine under the whole disarmament process on the planet.”

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The deal effectively bans the parties from having and developing short- and mid-range missiles of all types. According to the provisions, the US was obliged to destroy Pershing I and II launcher systems and BGM-109G Gryphon ground-launched cruise missiles. Moscow, meanwhile, pledged to remove the SS-20 and several other types of missiles from its nuclear arsenal.

Pershing missiles stationed in the US Army arsenal. © Hulton Archive / Getty Images ©

By scrapping the historic accord, Washington is trying to fulfill its “dream of a unipolar world,” a source within the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“This decision fits into the US policy of ditching the international agreements which impose equal obligations on it and its partners, and render the ‘exceptionalism’ concept vulnerable.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov denounced Trump’s threats as “blackmail” and said that Washington wants to dismantle the INF because it views the deal as a “problem” on its course for “total domination” in the military sphere.

The issue of nuclear arms treaties is too vital for national and global security to rush into hastily-made “emotional” decisions, the official explained. Russia is expecting to hear more on the US’ plans from Trump’s top security adviser, John Bolton, who is set to hold talks in Moscow tomorrow.

President Trump has been open about unilaterally pulling the US out of various international agreements if he deems them to be damaging to national interests. Earlier this year, Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. All other signatories to the landmark agreement, including Russia, China, and the EU, decided to stick to the deal, while blasting Trump for leaving.

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Converting Khashoggi into Cash

After two weeks of denying any connection to Khashoggi’s disappearance, Riyadh has admitted that he was killed by Saudi operatives but it wasn’t really on purpose.

Jim Jatras

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Authored by James George Jatras via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The hazard of writing about the Saudis’ absurd gyrations as they seek to avoid blame for the murder of the late, not notably great journalist and Muslim Brotherhood activist Jamal Khashoggi is that by the time a sentence is finished, the landscape may have changed again.

As though right on cue, the narrative has just taken another sharp turn.

After two weeks of denying any connection to Khashoggi’s disappearance, Riyadh has ‘fessed up (sorta) and admitted that he was killed by Saudi operatives but it wasn’t really on purpose:

Y’see, it was kinda’f an ‘accident.’

Oops…

Y’see the guys were arguing, and … uh … a fistfight broke out.

Yeah, that’s it … a ‘fistfight.’

And before you know it poor Jamal had gone all to pieces.

Y’see?

Must’ve been a helluva fistfight.

The figurative digital ink wasn’t even dry on that whopper before American politicos in both parties were calling it out:

  • “To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement,” tweeted Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. “First we were told Mr. Khashoggi supposedly left the consulate and there was blanket denial of any Saudi involvement. Now, a fight breaks out and he’s killed in the consulate, all without knowledge of Crown Prince. It’s hard to find this latest ‘explanation‘ as credible.”
  • California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that the new Saudi explanation is “not credible.” “If Khashoggi was fighting inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, he was fighting for his life with people sent to capture or kill him,” Schiff said. “The kingdom and all involved in this brutal murder must be held accountable, and if the Trump administration will not take the lead, Congress must.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan must think he’s already died and gone to his eternal recreation in the amorous embraces of the dark-eyed houris. The acid test for the viability of Riyadh’s newest transparent lie is whether the Turks actually have, as they claim, live recordings of Khashoggi’s interrogation, torture, murder, and dismemberment (not necessarily in that order) – and if they do, when Erdogan decides it’s the right time to release them.

Erdogan has got the Saudis over a barrel and he’ll squeeze everything he can out of them.

From the beginning, the Khashoggi story wasn’t really about the fate of one man. The Saudis have been getting away with bloody murder, literally, for years. They’re daily slaughtering the civilian population of Yemen with American and British help, with barely a ho-hum from the sensitive consciences always ready to invoke the so-called “responsibility to protect” Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, Syria, Xinjiang, Rakhine, and so forth.

Where’s the responsibility not to help a crazed bunch of Wahhabist head-choppers kill people?

But now, just one guy meets a grisly end and suddenly it’s the most important homicide since the Lindbergh baby.

What gives?

Is it because Khashoggi was part of the MSM aristocracy, on account of his relationship with the Washington Post?

Was it because of his other, darker, connections? As related by Moon of Alabama: “Khashoggi was a rather shady guy. A ‘journalist’ who was also an operator for Saudi and U.S. intelligence services. He was an early recruit of the Muslim Brotherhood.” This relationship, writes MoA, touches on the interests of pretty much everyone in the region:

“The Ottoman empire ruled over much of the Arab world. The neo-Ottoman wannabe-Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan would like to regain that historic position for Turkey. His main competition in this are the al-Sauds. They have much more money and are strategically aligned with Israel and the United States, while Turkey under Erdogan is more or less isolated. The religious-political element of the competition is represented on one side by the Muslim Brotherhood, ‘democratic’ Islamists to which Erdogan belongs, and the Wahhabi absolutists on the other side.”

With the noose tightening around Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), the risible fistfight cock-and-bull story is likely to be the best they can come up with. US President Donald Trump’s having offered his “rogue killers” opening suggests he’s willing to play along. Nobody will really be fooled, but MbS will hope he can persuade important people to pretend they are fooled.

That will mean spreading around a lot of cash. The new alchemy of converting Khashoggi dead into financial gain for the living is just one part of an obvious scheme to pull off what Libya’s Muammar Kaddafi managed after the 1988 Lockerbie bombing: offer up some underlings as the fall guys and let the top man evade responsibility. (KARMA ALERT: That didn’t do Kaddafi any good in the long run.)

In the Saudi case the Lockerbie dodge will be harder, as there are already pictures of men at the Istanbul Consulate General identified as close associates of MbS. But they’ll give it the old madrasa try anyway since it’s all they’ve got.Firings and arrests have started and one suspect has already died in a suspicious automobile “accident.” Heads will roll!

Saving MbS’s skin and his succession to the throne of his doddering father may depend on how many of the usual recipients of Saudi – let’s be honest – bribery and influence peddling will find sufficient pecuniary reason to go along. Saudi Arabia’s unofficial motto with respect to the US establishment might as well be: “The green poultice heals all wounds.”

Anyway, that’s been their experience up to now, but it also in part reflects the same arrogance that made MbS think he could continue to get away with anything. (It’s not shooting someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue, but it’s close.) Whether spreading cash around will continue to have the same salubrious effect it always has had in the past remains to be seen.

To be sure, Trump may succeed in shaking the Saudi date palm for additional billions for arms sales. That won’t necessarily turn around an image problem that may not have a remedy. But still, count on more cash going to high-price lobbying and image-control shops eager to make obscene money working for their obscene client. Some big American names are dropping are dropping Riyadh in a sudden fit of fastidiousness, but you can bet others will be eager to step into their Guccis, both in the US and in the United Kingdom. (It should never be forgotten how closely linked the US and UK establishments are in the Middle East, and to the Saudis in particular.)

It still might not work though. No matter how much expensive PR lipstick the spinmeisters put on this pig, that won’t make it kissable. It’s still a pig.

Others benefitting from hanging Khashoggi’s death around MbS’s neck are:

  • Qatar (after last year’s invasion scare, there’s no doubt a bit of Schadenfreude and (figurative) champagne corks popping in Doha over MbS’s discomfiture. As one source close to the ruling al-Thani family relates, “The Qataris are stunned speechless at Saudi incompetence!” You just can’t get good help these days).

Among the losers one must count Israel and especially Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. MbS, with his contrived image as the reformer, was the Sunni “beard” he needed to get the US to assemble an “Arab NATO” (as though one NATO weren’t bad enough!) and eliminate Iran for him. It remains to be seen how far that agenda has been set back.

Whether or not MbS survives or is removed – perhaps with extreme prejudice – there’s no doubt Saudi Arabia is the big loser. Question are being asked that should have been asked years ago. As Srdja Trifkovic comments in Chronicles magazine:

“The crown prince’s recklessness in ordering the murder of Khashoggi has demonstrated that he is just a standard despot, a Mafia don with oil presiding over an extended cleptocracy of inbred parasites. The KSA will not be reformed because it is structurally not capable of reform. The regime in Riyadh which stops being a playground of great wealth, protected by a large investment in theocratic excess, would not be ‘Saudi’ any longer. Saudia delenda est.”

The first Saudi state, the Emirate of Diriyah, went belly up in 1818, with the death of head of the house of al-Saud, Abdullah bin Saud – actually, literally with his head hung on a gate in Constantinople by Erdogan’s Ottoman predecessor, Sultan Mahmud II.

The second Saudi state, Emirate of Nejd, likewise folded in 1891.

It’s long past time this third and current abomination joined its antecedents on the ash heap of history.

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