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Understanding the Khashoggi ‘game’ being played out by Erdoğan

Trump put his finger on the killing, describing it as the “worst cover-up in history.”

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Stalin said that the death of one man is a tragedy, the death of a million a statistic. And the death of one man, Khashoggi, at the hand of Saudi assassins in Turkey has reinforced that axiom.

One man’s death has set the whole complex Middle Eastern political vortex spinning.

The first effect of his murder is the shattering of a claim that Saudi Arabia’s, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), is piloting this most conservative regime on the path of liberal reform.

That MBS was a reformer was regarded with great skepticism even before Khashoggi was lured to the Saudi  consulate on October 2, ostensibly for papers allowing him to marry his Turkish fiancé.

Months ago, the international media made great play of MBS’s decision to let women drive – while also reporting his jailing of women’s rights activists.

MBS’s purge of the Saudi elite, by locking them in a luxury hotel until they handed over billions of dollars in cash and assets was regarded by many as shocking – was that reform or a move worthy of Al Capone?

MBS insists the assassination was done without his knowledge. Many will be watching the fate of the 18 men involved in the Khashoggi killing, not least because some are bodyguards previously identified in photographs with MBS.

How the assassins thought they could get away with it is also a mystery.

Turkey is festooned with CCTV and those images have made clear Khashoggi never left the consulate, but a body double did to deceive and attempt to establish that he had left the Consulate; how amateurish; how arrogant. Just as landing records showed the arrival to Turkey of the hit team, and their rapid departure.

Trump himself put his finger on this aspect of the killing, describing it as the “worst cover-up in history.”

MBS now badly needs to recover his image. Galloping production in shale oil by the US, which will soon over take Saudi’s mantle as the world’s leading oil producer, promises long-term cheaper oil. The House of Saud, which gives its family name to the country it controls, rests its authority on its ability to shower oil largess on its population. But there is not enough oil revenues to go around the whole 30 million. They need international investment.

Hence the drive to convince the world that MBS is a reformer. Few will now agree with Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir’s description of the Kingdom under MBS is a “vision of light”.

Across the Gulf, Iran has won some breathing space, as it faces US sanctions barring companies, and anyone who has interests in the US, from buying Iran’s oil. The European Union may feel emboldened to encourage its companies – at least those with no US interests – to trade with Iran, keeping the Iran nuclear freeze deal alive.

Erdoğan reeling from his own US sanctions, in part resulting from his jailing so many journalists, and a spiralling debt crisis, has also gained an important ‘ace’.

Khashoggi was no jobbing journalist. For decades he supported the Saudi regime. The change of power at the top when MBS assumed the reigns of power, saw him switch. Khashoggi was critical in his writings of MBS, while supporting the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and further, he did not include any criticism of its (the MB) other main supporter (other than Turkey), Qatar.

Western powers, meanwhile, are on the back foot. Contrast the tardy reaction to the Khashoggi killing with the attack on the Skripals. After Sergei Skripal, the former Russian intelligence officer who was a British double-agent, was found slumped on a bench in the UK with his daughter Yulia, the UK moved quickly to expel Russian diplomats. Within days the US and most European nations followed suit.

By contrast, no Saudi officials have yet been expelled over the Khashoggi affair, with the only hard action being from Germany which has ended its miniscule arms sales to Saudi.

Trump says he is “not satisfied” with the Saudi account even following his phone conversation with MBS, while also making clear that the only real sanction available, suspension of arms sales, is not on the cards due to the consequences for jobs in the US.

Crying on Turkish TV, his fiancé Hatice Cengiz described herself as being in “darkness I cannot express”. It is a darkness faced by loved ones of the slain across conflicts raging in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Palestine; the suffering of one being a vivid reminder of the suffering of millions more.

The events surrounding Khashoggi’s death and the ‘game’ being played out by Erdoğan was most interestingly and eloquently described by former British parliamentarian George Galloway:

“Erdoğan’s definitely doing the dance of the seven veils, who knows when the final veil will be revealed and cast off but there is no doubt he (Erdoğan) has the goods! I know for certain because someone close to me has heard the goods (meaning the audio of the killing). He’s negotiating I presume behind the scenes, the price will be going up because frankly if this ordeal is released, it will be the most devastating audio of the 21st Century. Shakespeare couldn’t have written this, it’s Macbeth on steroids, right down to the poor son of Khashoggi’s who went to the Palace to shake hands with the murderers of his father.”

The story is still unfolding.

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Clem KadidlehopperShaun RameweJNDillard Recent comment authors
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JNDillard
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JNDillard

“MBS now badly needs to recover his image. Galloping production in shale oil by the US, which will soon over take Saudi’s mantle as the world’s leading oil producer, promises long-term cheaper oil.” This is, of course, delusional. Anyone who has researched the US fracking market knows it is deeply in debt and living on borrowed time as well as borrowed money. The US oil market is simply another of about six massive economic balloons, all of which are destined to burst in spectacular fashion. That, however, is not going to save the Saudis from themselves, namely their spectacular narcissism,… Read more »

Shaun Ramewe
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Shaun Ramewe

Disgusting pervert-coward Saudis always get away with their sick-minded crimes due to their ZioWestern shore-up. Money talks – human rights walk.

Clem Kadidlehopper
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Clem Kadidlehopper

Enforces the saga at how bumbling the Saudis are. It however proves that they haven’t had to show much intelligence up to now, because their Uncle Sam takes the brunt.
However, now Uncle’s speaker, Mr. Trump is calling it like it is. Bumbling idiots. May need a Jesuit or two in the kingdom or at least a CIA point man.

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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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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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