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US, Britain, and France stand up to China in the South China Sea

International Law is a club for the US and its allies to bend other nations to their will

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The three nations which got together to create a ‘coalition’ that engaged in ‘precision strikes’ in Syria back in April are getting together again, this time the intended target is China.

In Syria, there was a tweet showing a video which was posted by a group which actively works with and around al-Nusra and ISIS terrorists and which video contents or origin was never verified.

Nevertheless, the claim was that a chemical attack had occurred and the site was Douma, where the Syrian government forces were gaining ground against the jihadists. So the story was that the Syrian government had carried out a chemical attack in Douma, and that the attack led to the deaths of nearly 600 people. And then, the leadership of Britain, France, and the US came out claiming that they had proof that Syria was ‘likely’ to have carried out a chemical attack in Douma on April 7th.

An OPCW investigation was called for and was dispatched, but the ‘coalition’ carried out a military strike on Damascus and surrounding areas hours before that investigation could be initiated. So, the allegations were that Syria had broken international law and that swift punishment was coming from a self appointed coalition before an independent investigation could be conducted.

That coalition, however, was breaking international law by carrying out a military strike without independently acquired evidence, and without a UNSC mandate, so they were breaking international law to punish the breaking of international law. But that works out well for Trump, May, and Macron.

Now, they’re claiming a breach of international law in the South China Sea, and they want to strutt about the area knowingly antagonizing the Chinese, instead of taking the matter up in a diplomatic fashion.

Deutsche Welle reports:

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis is in China this week for the first time and at the top of the agenda between the two nations is China’s continued expansion of military installations in the South China Sea (SCS).

After Mattis met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, China’s state broadcaster CCTV reported that Xi told Mattis China would not “lose one inch” of territory “left behind by our ancestors.”

China frequently refers to islands in the SCS as part of its historical territory, although they are claimed by six other nations.

“Regarding China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, our attitude is firm and clear,” said Xi.

In early June at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional security conference in Singapore, Mattis told the audience that there would be “much larger consequences” in response to China’s continued installation of military infrastructure on disputed islands in the SCS.

Joining the revamped US effort to increase pressure on China in the SCS, French Defense Minster Florence Parly said a French maritime task group, together with UK helicopters and ships, would conduct freedom of navigation operations, sailing naval vessels through international waters in the SCS, which China considers as its maritime territory.

Referring to the political differences between France and Britain, Parly said in a speech that when meeting in Asia, the two countries shared deeply significant “vision, strength and values” along with a “willingness to project them.”

Parly added that France supported a rules-based international order on the SCS and that freedom of navigation must be upheld.

“France fully supports a code of conduct in the South China Sea, which should be legally binding, comprehensive, effective and consistent with international law,” said Parly. “We should be very clear that the fait accompli is not a fait accepted.”

Freedom of navigation

By building military installations on islands in the SCS, China claims territorial sovereignty over areas far from the mainland, although this is not officially recognized by any international body. The freedom of navigation operations carried out by the US and other navies are a way to demonstrate the validity of international law.

China remains defiant in claiming international waters and is using its growing navy to enforce its territorial ambition.

Jonas Parello-Plesner, an observer who was aboard a French military vessel during the joint freedom of navigation operation announced at the Singapore conference, gave a first hand account to the Wall Street Journal of the flotilla’s encounter with the Chinese navy near the Spratly Islands.

Parello-Plesner reported that a Chinese frigate contacted the French vessel by radio as they passed through Mischief, Subi and Fiery Cross Reefs, where China in recent years has built artificial islands and military installations.

“This is China warship calling. The Nansha islands are under Chinese sovereignty. What are your intentions?” After the French captain replied that they were lawfully sailing through international waters, they were tailed by Chinese naval vessels.

A Chinese lake?

It is estimate that in 2014, China began construction of artificial islands on reefs in the Spratly archipelago. This raised alarm in the US and Asia that China would be able to project its military around the SCS and potentially exert control over waterways that carried an estimated $3.3 trillion, or one-third of global trade, in 2016.

Despite continued international condemnation led by the US, China’s militarization of the SCS has continued unabated.

In 2017, satellite images released by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (ATMI), part of the Washington-based think tank, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), showed the extent of China’s military build up on the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands further north. According to the ATMI, China has extensive missile systems along with radar jammers on the islands.

The images clearly show completed airstrips and other infrastructure. In April 2018, China conducted its largest-ever naval exercise in the SCS. In May, the Chinese landed a warplane for the first time on an air strip on Woody Island, in the Paracels.

China’s ambition vs. international law

Although China continues to increase its capability, observers do not think that it is too late for international coalitions to maintain the integrity of international waterways passing through the SCS.

“Beijing is certainly winning more peacetime control over activity on and above the South China Sea each day, but it hasn’t completed that control yet,” Gregory Poling, the director of ATMI told DW, adding that increased engagement of the French and British navies send a strong signal to China.

“They make clear that the SCS is not a Sino-US issue,” said Poling. “It’s a matter of China vs. an overwhelming international consensus about international law and norms.”

As for the “consequences” promised by US Secretary of Defense Mattis, there are limitations to what the US military can do, outside of projecting force. Mattis is in China this week on his first visit since becoming secretary.

In May, the US rescinded China’s invitation to participate in Rimpac, an international biennial military exercise in the Pacific Ocean. On Tuesday the US aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Regan, anchored in Manila Bay to begin patrolling the South China Sea. It is the third US aircraft carrier sent this year.

“There are a lot of ‘larger consequences’ the US could consider, but most of them don’t come from the Pentagon,” said Poling, adding that while the joint training and deterrence measures were what the US Department of Defense should be doing, political pressure is what’s missing.

“Putting additional pressure on Beijing will require high-level focus and a strategy from the White House, which has been sorely lacking,” said Poling.

Putting pressure on Beijing

An important part of a political solution addressing China’s ambition in the SCS is building international coalitions. The UK and France declaring their will to cooperate on maintaining international maritime norms is a reminder to China that the SCS is still an important issue.

“The UK and France are showing that they care about the international rules that almost the entire world has signed up,” Bill Hayton a South China Sea expert at the UK-based think tank Chatham House, told DW.

“The right of all ships to sail wherever they want in the sea on the basis of innocent passage has been a fundamental international principle for decades but it looks as if China is attempting to unilaterally limit it,” said Hayton. “The recent voyages by French and British warships are a way of resisting that limitation.”

“The SCS needs to be put back at the top of the diplomatic agenda to isolate Beijing,” said Poling from CSIS.

It seems the UK and France have realized that the only way to salvage UN Convention on Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the principles on which it and the larger rules-based order are based is to join the effort to convince Beijing to clarify its claims,” he added. “The US cannot do it alone, even if it were so inclined.”

So, now, all of the sudden, there’s this international rules-based order that nations are expected to abide by to keep everybody from stepping on each other’s toes and to preserve peace and order, and prosperity, and all that sort of jazz. It doesn’t seem to mean that much to the Americans who are out slapping tariffs on the rest of the planet and dropping bombs wherever they jolly well please, and it certainly didn’t mean much to the ‘coalition’ which set out to bomb Syria just over two months ago. Where was, and is, international law relevant to these matters?

Part of what makes a law a law is that it has the respect of the community that it was promulgated to, but in the case of international law, it increasingly looks like it was and is something created by America and its allies as a club to use at their discretion to smear other nations with and to use as a pretext and/or justification for military or economic aggression. That’s why Nikki Haley considers it ‘patently ridiculous’ to apply human rights standards to America, and to measure America’s performance, as if America were actually expected to subject to those sorts of standards.

International law, based on what we see coming out of the West, then, is not so much actual internationally agreed upon standards of conduct to preserve peace and prosperity as they are a means of projecting the power of the West by means of internationally agreed upon propaganda.If and when it shows that it actually has the meanings which it says it has, in whichever body or agreement, then it should be demonstrated by realizing its application not just in non-NATO countries, but especially there, to be the examples of how nations in a civilized world ought to carry themselves.

For this reason, why should we expect China to waltz to the tune being played by the US, which is violating trade rules which it created for its own benefit with other nations, and which nations happen to be their own allies and trade partners? Is this why we’re seeing ‘freedom of navigation’ operations taking place in the South China Sea, instead of carrying out some diplomacy in the matter to help come to an understanding, because the US has no interest in diplomacy, and believes that action is required now while thinking and talking can go down later, after the US has what it wants? Then the question is, why now all of the sudden the interest from the US and its two best friends, when this issue is not a new one, what’s in it for them now that wasn’t there before? Is this part of a new pressure cooking campaign to push China in a certain direction, possibly trade related?

 

 

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AM HantsJohn MasonIsabella JonesLinda WrenJohn Vu Recent comment authors
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AM Hants
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AM Hants

Doubt China will have the patience of Russia.

John Mason
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John Mason

The messaging is plain: Iran, China, and Russia are the three key players in what promises to be the Eurasian Century. They are also working as one in the Real War on Terror in Syria. President Trump – and his administration – is the ultimate fraud here, willing to do anything – even provoke what Beijing says AN ALL-OUT WAR to divide and threaten these three countries in a desperate bid to regime change Syria, to stop the Eurasian Century from happening, and to “Make America Great Again”. All this has the potential to backfire splendidly though. Contrary to Trump’s… Read more »

Isabella Jones
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Isabella Jones

Headline is wrong. To say someone is “standing up to” another, is to carry the implication that the one doing the “standing up” is being honourable, courageous, against a bully. It’s called the South China Sea. It’s along way from America, UK or France. They need to get the blazes out of there. Hopefully China can make them see that without resorting to force. The writer is correct though, regarding the total destruction of any sort of International Law especially. However, there is one thing the recent actions of the Rogue – 3 have done – they have highlighted for… Read more »

Linda Wren
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Linda Wren

China should call in American debt. That is legal.

John Vu
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John Vu

Devil has a plan for your country: After Putin got his fill with Crimea and Syria, now it’s Deepstate’s turn to make some dough selling some surplus stale equipments to the Filip and Vn.

Gonzogal
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Gonzogal

Hold on a minute….I just read the article on Duran that the Eu wants to deepen economic ties with China due to the US actions and now they are going to try to “contain China”….good luck with both
http://theduran.com/eu-to-deepen-economic-cooperation-with-china-amid-trade-row-with-america/

Helen B
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Helen B

US, France and UK have no borders anywhere near the South China Sea.
Go home and sort out your own problems, of which there are many.
Mind your own business.

Che Serna
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Che Serna

The 3 stooges lead by the big pimp USA’s military industrial complex! No one has yet explained why China would want to stop freedom of navigation in the SCS. About 75% of all commercial shipping goes in and out of Chinese ports which include of course HK. Moreover, warships are not innocent passage in respect to the law of the sea convention. In which America refuses to ratify as a world rogue leader state. So on the one hand you have hypocrites lead by the USA wanting the rule of law which she USA refuses to join! Talk about American… Read more »

Nexusfast123
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Nexusfast123

Those people (Trump, May and the creepy French twat) are ignorant of history. I’m sure the Chinese have not forgotten what the European empires and the US did to them. Also ironic the vast majority of trade that passes through the SCS is Chinese. This is more a threat to China’s sea going commerce than China threatening other nations.

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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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