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India and Russia: a friendship enduring and passionate

Russian President Putin and Indian Prime Minister Modi showed at SPIEF in St. Petersburg a continued determination to preserve a strong mutual relationship between India and Russia which for all the continued tensions also ties India and China together.

Alexander Mercouris

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The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (“SPIEF”) which Russia holds every year in early summer in St.Petersburg invariably highlights Russia’s relations with one particular country.  This year that country was India.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended SPIEF at the head of a strong Indian delegation.  He had a bilateral meeting with Russian President Putin, and together with Putin attended SPIEF’s plenary session.

Putin and Modi then attended together a meeting with Indian business people who had come with Modi to SPIEF, a package of economic and other agreements focused mainly on upgrades to India’s infrastructure followed, and Putin and Modi rounded up their series of meetings with public statements reaffirming in fulsome terms the close friendship between the two countries.

This very friendly relationship between India and Russia is in many ways surprising.

The two countries do not have a close economic relationship, though part of the purpose of the meetings between Putin and Modi was to try to make it closer.

The two countries do cooperate in defence related matters, with Russia apparently in advanced talks to supply India with S-400 surface to air missiles to India.  However defence cooperation between the two countries is no longer as close as it once was.  India has pulled out of the joint IL-214 medium transport aircraft programme, has chosen to buy Rafale fighter jets from France in preference to MiG-35 fighters from Russia, and is reported to be having doubts about its joint development of a two seat fifth generation fighter based on Russia’s SU-T50, which is currently on flight test.

On international questions India has a fractious relationship with Russia’s great ally China, regards China’s ally Pakistan – with which Russia is improving relations – as its primary enemy, and has been improving its relations with the US, with which Russia’s relationship is extremely difficult.

Nonetheless political relations between India and Russia remain close, and the personal relationship between Putin and Modi appears to be extremely warm.

What explains this in some ways surprisingly strong relationship?

A major factor is sentiment.

The Russians have an enduring fascination with India extending far back into the nineteenth century, as reflected for example in Rimsky Korsakov’s Song of the Indian Guest, the Russian ballet La Bayadère (“the Indian Temple dancer”), and the curious Indian influenced Theosophical ideas of Madame Blavatsky.

These expressions of nineteenth century Orientalism took place in Russia alongside rigorous academic study of Indian culture and philosophy, in which Russia continues to excel to this day.  One of the best and most complete translations in any European language of the great Indian liturgical poem the Rigveda is in Russian, made in Russia by the great Russian scholar Tatyana Elizarenkova as part of a huge translation project starting in the 1970s.

Tsarist Russia however had no political relationship with India, which would in fact have been impossible during this period when India was part of the British empire.  Subsequently, after the 1917 Revolution, the Soviets took a strong interest in the Indian independence movement but disapproved of the pacifist and religiously oriented line followed by India’s two independence leaders, Gandhi and Nehru.

However following Indian independence relations between the USSR and India became extremely close.

The USSR lost no time establishing diplomatic relations with India after India gained independence in 1948, and Krishna Menon, India’s ambassador at large, was the last foreign guest to be received by Stalin on 17th February 1953, two weeks before his death (Krishna Menon has left a vivid and insightful account of the meeting).

Krishna Menon’s meeting with Stalin was followed two years later by Indian Prime Minister Nehru’s first visit to the USSR in June 1955, and – a few months later, in November 1955 – by the reciprocal visit of Khrushchev and Bulganin to India.

Very friendly ties were established as a result of these visits.  Following his trip to the USSR Nehru supposedly spoke of having left ‘part of his heart’ there, whilst Khrushchev during his visit is reported to have said that if India ever got into trouble all it needed to do was “shout across the Himalayas”.

Unquestionably the Indians were influenced by the Russians’ enthusiasm for India, but there is no doubt that Prime Minister Nehru, a socialist, also felt a strong ideological affinity for the USSR, as shown for example in these passages in his book Discovery of India

The Soviet revolution has moved human society forward by a great leap and sparked a fire that can never be extinguished. It laid the foundation of that new civilisation, towards which the world would move…..The October revolution was  undoubtedly  one of the great events of world history, the greatest since the first French revolution, and its story is more  absorbing from a human and dramatic  point of view, than any tale or phantasy….It is difficult to feel indifferent towards Russia, and it is more difficult to judge her achievements and her failures impartially….

Unsurprisingly Nehru the socialist also tended to look to the USSR for economic development models for India, as shown for example by this comment

Russia thus interests us, because it may help  us to find some solution  for the serious problems which the world faces today.. It interests us especially because conditions there have not  been, and are not even now, very dissimilar to conditions in India.  Both are vast agricultural countries with only the  beginning of industrialisation, and both have to face poverty and illiteracy.  If Russia finds a satisfactory solution for these, our work in India would be made easier.

It should be said however that despite expressing these sentiments Nehru never attempted to reproduce in India anything that remotely resembled the Soviet economic model.

Beyond these sentiments, Soviet-Indian friendship from the 1950s was consolidated by certain very clear shared geostrategic interests.

For the USSR India was a key friend during the Cold War.  Though never exactly an ally, during difficult periods in the Cold War when the USSR appeared to be threatened with international isolation the fact that the USSR had a close friend in India – by population the world’s second largest country, and a major power – was for the Soviets always psychologically reassuring.

For the Indians friendship with the USSR gave India important leverage in its relations with the US, and protection from the two countries which from the 1960s India came to see as increasingly hostile: Pakistan and China.

Indeed the simultaneous collapse of India’s and the USSR’s once close relationships with China after 1960 became a key factor in consolidating their friendship, with the pivotal event being the USSR’s decision to side with India against China in the Indo-Chinese border war of 1962.

The decade after 1962 was the heyday of Indian-Soviet friendship, with the USSR re-equipping the Indian armed forces, building after 1964 a huge complex in India to build MiG-21 fighters, and making major investments in India’s heavy industry and technology base.

Soviet political, diplomatic and military assistance was also crucial in enabling India to win the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, which conclusively established India as the dominant power on the Indian subcontinent.

Inevitably such an intense relationship between India and the USSR created conditions for a strong friendship, which has never ceased.

The Russians during this period became accustomed to thinking of India as a friend, whilst the Indians for their part could not ignore or overlook the fact that in every major crisis India faced after independence it could always rely on support from the USSR.

This close relationship between the USSR and India however always had a somewhat artificial character.

Though the USSR played a major role in the 1960s in upgrading India’s industrial and technological base, the economic relationship was never reciprocal since the centrally planned Soviet economy was ill adapted to trade relationships with third countries outside the Soviet sphere, and India anyway at this time had little to offer which was of interest to the USSR’s planners.

The result was that when the USSR disintegrated in 1991 there was no firm basis for the economic links which had been forged in the 1960s to continue.  Economic contacts between the two countries dwindled and have never since then been strong.  Today the trade relationship between Russia and India is barely significant, with neither country featuring amongst the significant trading partners of the other.

It has also been the case that since 1991 the two countries have become significantly less important to each other politically.

The disintegration of the USSR in 1991 led to a steep decline in Russian power at precisely the time when the Indian economy began to put on speed and when India began to forge strong diplomatic ties with other states, notably since 2000 with the US.

Moreover whereas in the 1960s the USSR’s economy dwarfed India’s, today India’s economy is larger than Russia’s, though the standard of living in India continues to be lower than in Russia.  Inevitably that reduces the attraction for India of economic ties with Russia.

Overshadowing everything is the rise of China and the change in attitude of the two countries towards China.

Whereas India continues to have a prickly and often rivalrous relationship with China, Russia has become China’s ally.

The paradox in this is that whilst India’s economic relationship with Russia is extremely limited, its political relations with Russia remain friendly, whereas India’s economic relationship with China – its biggest trade partner – is very strong, but its political relations are very uneasy.

The talks between Putin and Modi at SPIEF were mainly intended to find some way to renew the economic relationship between the two countries and to bring it back to something approaching its earlier level.  Given that the two countries are not however obvious trade partners it is uncertain whether this can succeed.

The political relationship between the two countries however remains important.  The history of friendly ties forged during the heyday of Soviet-Indian friendship in the 1960s, and the fact that the two countries have never had serious conflicts with each other, means that at a political level they continue to get on well with each other.  Moreover though their friendship has less value to each country than it did in the 1960s, the fact that they are still friends continues to give them diplomatic leverage in their respective relations with the US and China whilst acting as a generally stabilising factor in international affairs.

The friendship between Russia and China also has one other potentially important advantage for India especially.  It provides a bridge between India and China, enabling India and China to use their good relations with Russia to manage their sometimes difficult relationship with each other.

Putin – with Modi sitting right beside him – discussed this at length during during the plenary session at SPIEF

You know, disagreements always have been and still are part of the fabric of our world. Our task – mine, and President Xí Jinping’s and Prime Minister Modi’s – is to find streets, two-way streets, despite all these disagreements, rather than get stuck in dead ends.

Once the three of us – the President of Russia, and the leaders of China and India – got together here some time in 2005 despite all the difficulties, including regional disagreements. We agreed to get together and resolve common problems. This work was launched despite all the difficulties and disagreements.

It was launched and went so well that Brazil and the South African Republic wanted to join us. This led to the emergence of BRICS, which is a major factor in international affairs today. I believe this is a very positive process, and that is how it is viewed by the People’s Republic of China, by the Chinese leaders.

I spoke about this fairly recently, maybe at yesterday’s meeting with the heads of news agencies – we conducted border talks with China for forty years but owing to the atmosphere that was created in our bilateral relations we managed to find a compromise. Of course, one could say that we gave in on something or China gave in on something, but we got it done and it created more opportunities for advancing relations.

We have never had any problems with India. I hope we never will have any. On the contrary, we have only positives, and there are a great many. I am referring to our historical cooperation. Yesterday we signed a number of agreements that are aimed at developing the already traditional areas of cooperation as well as new ones.

We are trying to find new forms of interaction and, naturally, we want to focus on innovative sectors of the modern economy first and foremost. This certainly applies to the nuclear industry, as you mentioned. A number of units are already operating in India and we have ambitious plans for future cooperation. There are very interesting and promising areas for us to work in.

We will provide comprehensive support to those who are involved in this because such cooperation will benefit the people of both India and Russia and, actually, the entire region. This will also facilitate the implementation of the Chinese leadership’s projects related to the Silk Road. We spoke about coordinating efforts of the Eurasian Economic Union and China’s Silk Road plans. There are always issues that require additional study. But we want to follow this path and we will follow it, and provided there is goodwill, we most certainly will achieve success.

(bold italics added)

Though India and China have a prickly relationship, it is in neither of their interests to become outright enemies, a fact fully understood by both.  It therefore suits each of them to have in Russia a powerful country which is friendly to both of them, providing a link between them.

This is the reverse of the situation in the 1960s when what brought the USSR and India together was their shared enmity with China.  Today on the contrary it is the fact that Russia is an ally of China’s that makes its friendship valuable to India.

Whether the Russians can continue to act successfully as a link between the Chinese and the Indians will depend on how successfully these three Great Powers manage their relations with each other.

The interactions between the Russians and the Indians at SPIEF show that they both understand the nature of this relationship and that they both seem determined to maintain it on a strong level with each other.

That in turn promises well for future relations between India and China for all the continuing difficulties which exist between the two of them.

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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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