Trump: Israel not the cause of Mideast problems

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Trump to present new doctrine that says Israel not the cause of Mideast problems

‘America First’ national security strategy, to be unveiled Monday, reverses Obama-era warnings on climate change and de-emphasizes multinational deals that long dominated US policy

US President Donald Trump steps off Marine One on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, December 17, 2017, after returning from Camp David in Maryland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

US President Donald Trump steps off Marine One on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, December 17, 2017, after returning from Camp David in Maryland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON — Prioritizing national sovereignty over alliances, US President Donald Trump is poised to outline a new national security strategy that envisions nations in a perpetual state of competition and downplays the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’s impact on the broader world order.

The new national security doctrine reverses Obama-era warnings on climate change and de-emphasizes multinational agreements that have dominated the United States’ foreign policy since the Cold War.

The Republican president, who ran on a platform of “America First,” will detail his plan Monday, one that if fully implemented could sharply alter the United States’ relationships with the rest of the world.

The plan, according to senior administration officials who offered a preview Sunday, is to focus on four main themes: protecting the homeland and way of life; promoting American prosperity; demonstrating peace through strength; and advancing American influence in an ever-competitive world.

Trump’s doctrine holds that nation states are in perpetual competition and that the US must fight on all fronts to protect and defend its sovereignty from friend and foe alike. While the administration often says that “America First” does not mean “America Alone,” the national security strategy to be presented by Trump will make clear that the United States will stand up for itself even if that means acting unilaterally or alienating others on issues like trade, climate change and immigration, according to people familiar with the strategy.

US President Donald Trump, right, chats with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, November 9, 2017. (AP/Andy Wong)

Despite international challenges, the document cites emerging opportunities to advance American interests in the Middle East. “Some of our partners are working together to reject radical ideologies and key leaders are calling for a rejection of Islamist extremism and violence,” it says. “Encouraging political stability and sustainable prosperity would contribute to dampening the conditions that fuel sectarian grievances.”

The strategy document asserts that “for generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region. Today, the threats from radical jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems. States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats.”

The last such document, prepared by then-president Barack Obama in 2015, declared climate change an “urgent and growing threat to our national security.” A senior official said the Trump plan removes that determination — following the administration’s threat to pull out of the Paris climate accord — but will mention the importance of environmental stewardship.

Despite the risk of potential isolation presented by Trump’s strategy, its fundamentals are not a surprise. The Associated Press last week reviewed excerpts of a late draft of the roughly 70-page document and spoke to two people familiar with it. The draft emphasizes that US economic security is national security and that economic security must be ensured with military might. And they said it would stress the US is interested only in relationships with other countries, including alliances like NATO, that are fair and reciprocal.

Trump, according to the senior officials, is also expected to discuss threats he’ll deem as “rogue regimes,” like North Korea, and “revisionist powers,” like Russia and China, who aim to change the status quo, such as Moscow and its actions with Ukraine and Georgia, and Beijing in the South China Sea. Trump is also planning to renew his call for the member states in the United Nations and NATO to spend more on defense, saying that the United States will insist on its alliances being fair and reciprocal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and US President Donald Trump during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Danang, Vietnam, November 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Hau Dinh)

The senior officials said the document refers to China as a “strategic competitor,” rather than the stronger accusation of “economic aggression” previewed last week by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

The president is also set to make the case that US economic security is national security and that economic security must be ensured with military might.

The criticism of Russia will come as a break from recent warm words between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The leaders have spoken twice in four days, with Trump calling Putin to thank him for kind words about the US stock market and Putin reaching out to Trump to thank the CIA for help in stopping a terror plot in St. Petersburg.

The strategy document will not make explicit reference to Russian attempts to meddle in the US political system, but an official said it would highlight the importance of ensuring the resilience of US democratic institutions.

The early draft of the strategy reviewed by the AP lamented that America had put itself at a disadvantage by entering into multinational agreements, such as those aimed at combating climate change, and introducing domestic policies to implement them.

The senior officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan before the president’s remarks.

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OIC Summit Stresses Rejection of US Decision on Jerusalem

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

OIC Summit Stresses Rejection of US Decision on Jerusalem

Wednesday, 13 December, 2017 – 10:45
Asharq Al Awsat

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed Muslim leaders on Wednesday stressing that a US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was a crime which showed that Washington can no longer be an honest broker in Middle East peace talks.

During an emergency meeting of Muslim leaders in Turkey, Abbas said President Donald Trump was giving Jerusalem away as if it were an American city.

“Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of Palestine,” he said, adding Trump’s decision was “the greatest crime” and a flagrant violation of international law.

Wednesday’s summit was hosted by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan who has piercingly slammed the United States for its stance on Jerusalem.

“I invite all countries supporting international law to recognize Jerusalem as the occupied capital of Palestine. We cannot be late any more,” Erdogan told leaders and ministers from more than 50 Muslim countries.

He described Trump’s decision last week as a reward for Israeli actions including occupation, settlement construction, land seizure and “disproportionate violence and murder”.

“Israel is an occupying state (and) Israel is a terror state,” he said.

Jerusalem, cherished by Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike, is home to Islam’s third holiest site and has been at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades. Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it in an action not recognized internationally.

Ahead of the meeting, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Muslim nations should urge the world to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state within its pre-1967 borders.

He said this week Turkey was not seeking sanctions in response to the US move, but wanted the summit to issue a strong rejection of the US decision.

Trump’s announcement last week prompted an outpouring of anger in the Muslim and Arab world, where tens of thousands of people took to the streets to denounce the Jewish state and show solidarity with the Palestinians.

The decision sparked protests in Palestinian territories, with four Palestinians killed so far in clashes or Israeli air strikes in response to rocket fire from Gaza and hundreds wounded.
US ‘BIAS’

The Trump administration says it remains committed to reaching a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its decision does not affect Jerusalem’s future borders or status.

It says any credible future peace deal will place the Israeli capital in Jerusalem, and ditching old policies is needed to revive a peace process frozen since 2014.

Abbas told the leaders in Istanbul that Washington should no longer play a role in the peace talks.

“It will be unacceptable for it (the United States) to have a role in the political process any longer since it is biased in favor of Israel,” he said. “This is our position and we hope you support us in this.”

King Abdullah of Jordan told the Istanbul summit that he rejected any attempt to change the status quo of Jerusalem and its holy sites.

The summit was also attended by leaders including Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir. Rouhani tweeted that Trump’s decision showed the United States had no respect for Palestinian rights and could never be an honest mediator.

Bahraini Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab Faces Additional Fifteen Years in Prison

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Jailed Bahraini Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab Faces Additional Fifteen Years in Prison

Nabeel Rajab (right) and Abdulhadi Alkhawaja at a pro democracy march in Bahrain in 2011. Photo by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights [CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

This post was written by Khalid Ibrahim, executive director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, an independent, non-profit organisation that promotes freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly in the Gulf region and its neighbouring countries.Prominent Bahraini human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab, has been in jail for his human rights work since 13 June 2016. He is currently serving a two-year prison term for speaking to the media about the human rights situation in Bahrain. He also faces additional prison time for expressing himself on Twitter.

Rajab is the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), the founding director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), the Deputy Secretary-General of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), and a member of the Advisory Board of the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

In July 2002, he founded the BCHR with his colleague Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who is serving a life sentence for his human rights activities. The BCHR continues to operate to this day despite a decision to close it by authorities in November 2004, and the jailing of its two founders.

When the popular uprising started in Bahrain on 14 February 2011, Nabeel Rajab was at its heart as a human rights leader. When the authorities arrested most of the uprising leaders, he became the only remaining voice outside of prison, which was heard by hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter and the rest of the world, attesting to the grave violations committed by the government that oppressed the entire population solely based on their demand for freedom, equality and social justice.

For his engagement with the Bahraini uprising and human rights activism, Rajab is paying a heavy price. He was arrested and imprisoned several times and subjected to various types of threats, judicial harassment, abusive media smear campaigns, torture, and travel bans.

On 10 July, he was sentenced to prison for two years after being found guilty of spreading “fake news”, over TV interviews in which he spoke about mounting human rights violations in the Gulf kingdom. In those interviews, Rajab talked about journalists and NGOs being prevented from entering Bahrain, and a lack of judicial independence. On 22 November, a Bahraini appeals court upheld the two-year prison sentence.

In another case, Rajab faces up to 15 years in jail for criticizing Bahrain’s participationin the Saudi-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen, and for speaking out about torture in Bahrain’s infamous “Jaw” prison on Twitter. Rajab was scheduled to appear again in court on 31 December 2017 for this case. However, the hearing was unexpectedly held on 5 December, four weeks earlier than the date originally scheduled by the court. On 3 December, Rajab’s lawyers were informed by the court the hearing would take place on 5 December, under the pretext that a key witness in the case would be unable to attend the hearing on 31 December. Although, Rajab’s lawyers protested this decision, the hearing took place on 5 December and was adjourned to 7 December. Rajab was unable to attend the hearing for health reasons.

– Due to health problems,Nabeel Rajab was not able to attend the hearing

– His lawyers were not given enough time for preparation, only 2 days informal notice

– Court rejected the lawyers request for postponement

– Rushing the case, raises fears of imminent sentence

On 7 December, the hearing has once again been adjourned to 15 January.

Today, the 20th Court hearing against @NabeelRajab was adjourned to 15 January for the defence to submit their final argument.

• Charged for comments condemning the Saudi bombardment in , & exposing torture in 

• Facing 15 Years imprisonment

Rajab faces additional prison time for charges related to two letters he published in the New York Times and the French newspaper Le Monde, while in prison.

In the NYT letter, published in September 2016, Rajab described the conditions of his detention and called on the Obama administration to ”use its leverage” to end the conflict in Yemen, and work ”to secure the release of people who call for peace, and are trying to build democracy in the region”. For this piece, Rajab was charged with “undermining the prestige of the kingdom.”

In the letter published in Le Monde in December 2016, Rajab called on France and Germany to re-assess their support for the Arab Gulf monarchies. Following the publication of this piece, he was charged with “spreading false news and statements and malicious rumours that undermine the prestige of Bahrain and the brotherly countries of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council], and an attempt to endanger their relations.”

Several organizations and human rights groups have repeatedly called on Bahraini authorities to release Nabeel Rajab. In May, the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) expressed particular concern over Rajab’s solitary confinement and called for his release. Numerous others have called for his release, including European Parliament officials. On 27 June 2017, the Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights Pier Antonio Panzeri issued a statement calling for the rights defender’s release:

Rajab’s detention violates his right to freedom of expression. I call on the Bahraini authorities to grant lawyers and family members access to Nabeel Rajab, to drop all charges against him and to free him immediately

Despite these calls, Rajab remains in prison. He is not the only one in Bahrain to be jailed for his human rights and political activism, or for peacefully expressing himself. In the small island kingdom of just 1.4 million people, there are more than 4,000 political prisoners, according to rights groups.

President Trump Did Not Hurt The ‘Middle-East’ Peace Process

 

As those of you who know me, you know very well that I am not a fan of President Trump at all. I still believe that he will be impeached before the November 2018 elections because of his many illegal actions before, during and after the past election. I am simply making my point clear to new readers that I am not a fan of his at all. But, yesterdays (12-06-2017) comments he made about the U.S. recognizing that Jerusalem is the rightful and historic Capital of the Nation of Israel is one of the very few things that I agree with him on. Jerusalem has been the Capital of the Hebrew/Jewish people for at least 2,600 years. Yet I do believe that Jerusalem is the Capital of all people of Palestine, Jewish and otherwise. In fact, I do believe that Jerusalem is the ‘City of God’ so Jerusalem should be considered the whole Worlds Capital City. Yes I know that this view would make all Nations current Capitals actually secondary Capitals to Jerusalem. You see, I believe the Scriptures so I know that after Armageddon that the ‘New Jerusalem’ will come down from Heaven and sit over the ruins of the current Jerusalem and that ‘The Christ’ will rule all of the World from the Temple Mount for evermore.

 

Now, let’s get to this Trump speech yesterday and this farce called the ‘Middle-East Peace Process’. The reason that I call it a farce is because there never has been a ‘Middle-East Peace Process’ and there never will be one. Reality is that there could be peace in all of Palestine if today all of the Islamic terrorist groups would throw all of their weapons into the Sea. If this happened Israel would be forced by all of the World Governments to except a binding two State settlement solution. I believe that the vast majority of the citizens of Israel would also force their Government to adhere to peace, at once, even the Hawks within the Government would be forced to lay down their arms.

 

Here is another reality though, if Israel were to throw all of their weapons into the Sea today, there would be no such thing as a living Jew in Palestine, or even a Jewish graveyard tomorrow. The reason is the great hate of the believers of Islam toward the Jewish People. The Islamic Countries do not want peace with Israel, they want there to be no such thing as Israel. The whole concept of Middle-East peace talks is just for ‘outside’ viewers who want to feel good about themselves. Palestine is the center point of Armageddon, there will be a time where there won’t be one stone left upon another in Jerusalem. Only through ignorance, blindness, or just plain stupidity some people believe that Islam will ever tolerate Jews, Christians, Buddhist, Hindu’s or any other non-Islamic believers to occupy Palestine, it is not going to happen. Even if it did happen that there was no such thing as the Nation of Israel the Sunni’s and the Shiite’s would have a Civil War between themselves thus turning Jerusalem and all of Palestine into their own waste land.

 

So, what President Trump did yesterday was just words because Jerusalem has been the Capital of the Jewish People for over 2,600 years and the claimed Capital of most Islamic Believers for about 1,400 years. Israel has had its Government facilities in Jerusalem for decades now, what Mr. Trump did was just symbolic words. There will be some bloodshed I am sure over Mr. Trumps statement yet in reality those who commit these terrorist acts are not even religious Zealots, they are and have always been Demonic Zealots. For in the name of God, no one harms another, only in the name of the Devil Himself does one person go out and commit bloodshed upon another person. It is simple, God is peace and kindness, the Devil is hate and violence. If a person is committing violence, they are worshiping and serving Satan, not God! So, do not blame Mr. Trump for the coming bloodshed, blame the ones committing the bloodshed!!!

 

 

(A Sad Reality Poem) Peace, No Peace—Ever

PEACE, NO PEACE—EVER

 

A rock to the head, the beginning of the listed dead

Once the sins had entered in blood stained Royal Red

Gentiles filled the world with hate, letting of innocent blood again and again

Kings and Peasants fight for food, land, and water rights to rewrite human truth

King against King, Nation against Nation, forever we Serfs and Pawn’s fight on

 

 

So much blood spilled in WW I, WW II, and now again in today’s WW III

Nation against Nation, Religion Sect against Religion Sect, the whirlwind begins

We hate, we slander, we rob, and we kill, all with a smile and a ‘Godly’ grin

Weekends we gather, say a little prayer or two and all our weekly sins forgive

 

Presidents of the U.S, Russia, and China, with noses stuck so high in the air

Little Tyrants, once fully played, swinging with their heels in the gallows air

Do you understand the Prophecies about what lies ahead or a mystery to you

There will be no peace ever as Civil War is raging throughout the Middle East

 

 

Upon all Western Shores the Spores of Hate has now been buried so deep

Our children we say we love so dear, their future days all filled with fear

Human Beings are so ignorant, so naive, we’re just putty in the Devils hands

So sad, no peace forever, we now live in the full-blown beginning of WW III

Turkey Could Sever Ties With Israel If Trump Recognizes Capital

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Erdogan says Turkey could sever ties with Israel if Trump recognizes capital

Palestinians, Saudi Arabia, Arab League and European Union warn changing Jerusalem’s status could scuttle peace efforts

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gestures as he gives a speech at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara, on December 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Adem Altan)

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gestures as he gives a speech at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara, on December 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Adem Altan)

The status of Jerusalem is a “red line” for Muslims and changing it could prompt Turkey to cut its ties with Israel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Tuesday, as US President Donald Trump reportedly geared up to recognize the city as the Jewish state’s capital.

Erdogan said Turkey, which currently holds the chairmanship of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, would immediately call a summit meeting of the pan-Islamic group if Trump went ahead with the move on Wednesday, and “set the entire Islamic world in motion.”

“Mr. Trump! Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims,” he said in a raucous televised speech to his ruling party that was greeted with chants and applause.

Turkey, Erdogan said, would “follow this struggle to the very last moment with determination and we could even go right up to cutting our diplomatic relations with Israel.”

Officials in Jerusalem rejected Erdogan’s threat.

Nabil Shaath, the Commissioner for External Relations of the Fatah movement, seen in his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, January 18, 2012 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Nabil Shaath, the commissioner for external relations of the Fatah movement, seen in his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, January 18, 2012 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian official warned that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would spell the end of Trump’s nascent Israeli-Palestinian peace push.

“That totally destroys any chance that he will play a role as an honest broker,” Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told journalists on Tuesday.

“That takes away… the deal of the century,” he added, referring to Trump’s pledge to clinch the long-elusive peace deal.

Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit also warned of the “danger” of the United States recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or relocating its embassy there, calling on Washington to reconsider.

Abul Gheit told Arab government delegates that they had decided to meet in Cairo “given the danger of this matter, if it were to happen, and the possible negative consequences not only for the situation in Palestine but also for the Arab and Islamic region.”

US President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall, May 22, 2017, in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Saudi Arabia, a major partner to the American efforts to revive the peace process, added its voice, expressing “grave and deep concern” over the possible US plans.

If Trump decides to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital it would reverse years of US policy, even if he did not move the US embassy.

“Saudi Arabia (expresses) grave and deep concern over reports that the US administration intends to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem,” the official Saudi Press Agency said, citing a foreign ministry source.

“This step will have serious implications and will further complicate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It will also obstruct the ongoing efforts to revive the peace process.”

The European Union also noted possible “serious repercussions” of the move.

Above: EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini

The EU, which supports a two-state solution to the conflict, warned against doing anything that would jeopardize the peace process.

“Since early this year, the European Union was clear in its expectation that there can be reflection on the consequences that any decision or unilateral action affecting Jerusalem’s status could have,” EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini’s office said in a statement.

“It might have serious repercussions on public opinion in large parts of the world,” it added. “The focus should therefore remain on the efforts to restart the peace process and avoiding any action that would undermine such efforts.”

Trump is expected to make an announcement on Jerusalem in a major policy speech Wednesday.

The mercurial president has yet to make his final decision, officials said, but is expected to stop short of moving the embassy to Jerusalem outright, a central campaign pledge that has been postponed once already by the new administration.

Facing dark warnings of a historic misstep and widespread unrest, Trump on Monday delayed a decision on whether to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. The White House said the president would miss a deadline on the decision, after a frantic 48 hours of public warnings from allies and private phone calls between world leaders.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel gained control of East Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967 and extended its sovereignty there in 1980, an effective annexation that remains unrecognized by the international community. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

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Kushner Is Leaving Tillerson in the Dark on Middle East Talks

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS/POLITICS)

 

Kushner Is Leaving Tillerson in the Dark on Middle East Talks, Sources Say

 Updated on 
  • Tillerson worries secret plan could plunge region into chaos
  • White House rejects accusation State Department isn’t informed

Fullscreen

Jared Kushner’s Rise to Power Mirrors Trump’s

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is increasingly alarmed by what he sees as secret talks between Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — fearful that the discussions could backfire and tip the region into chaos, according to three people familiar with Tillerson’s concerns.

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Jared Kushner

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The central goal of the negotiations, as described by two people with knowledge of the talks, is for an historic agreement featuring the creation of a Palestinian state or territory backed financially by a number of countries including Saudi Arabia, which could put tens of billions of dollars toward the effort.

A lasting Middle East peace treaty has been a U.S. goal for decades, and at the start of his administration Trump assigned the 36-year-old Kushner to head up the effort to make it happen.

Tillerson believes Kushner hasn’t done enough to share details of the talks with the State Department, according to the people, leaving senior U.S. diplomats in the dark on the full extent of the highly sensitive negotiations.

“The problem is, the senior presidential adviser does not consult with the State Department — and it’s unclear the level of consultation that goes on with the NSC,” one of the people familiar with Tillerson’s concerns said, referring to the National Security Council. “And that’s a problem for both the NSC and the State Department and it’s not something we can easily solve.”

Kushner to Speak

Kushner is scheduled to speak publicly for the first time about the Trump administration’s approach to the Middle East on Sunday. He’ll appear at the Saban Forum in Washington, an annual conference organized by the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution that’s focused on U.S.-Israel relations.

The State Department’s concerns about Kushner’s approach predate reports this weekthat Trump may move to oust Tillerson by the end of the year. The president rejected the reports, which Tillerson’s team believes are being stoked by Kushner allies, one person said. An administration official said Kushner had nothing to do with the reports.

Read a QuickTake on Saudi Arabia’s brash young crown prince

Asked about Tillerson’s concerns, State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond said, “If he has any concerns, he brings them up one-on-one or in private.”

Trump provided a public boost to Tillerson on Friday, saying on Twitter that while he and the secretary of state “disagree on certain subjects, (I call the final shots) we work well together and America is highly respected again!” Tillerson, earlier in the day, called the reports of his ouster “laughable.”

Regain Influence

Tillerson and other senior State Department officials are also concerned that Saudi leaders, having been held at arm’s length by President Barack Obama, see the connection with Kushner as a way to regain influence in the White House and U.S. backing for actions that could be controversial. Already, Prince Mohammed, heir to the Saudi throne, has put several such steps into motion.

Those include summoning Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Riyadh, where he initially resigned only to postpone his decision upon returning to Beirut; the arrest and detention of dozens of Saudi princes, ministers and businessmen on corruption charges; and a more aggressive posture in the war in Yemen. Indeed, Trump tweeted his support for the anti-graft crackdown and the White House has offered only muted comments on Hariri and the conflict in Yemen.

‘Complete Confidence’

A White House official said Kushner was not aware in advance of the Saudi moves and gave no signal of approval beforehand.

NSC spokesman Michael Anton denied that the NSC and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster aren’t being fully informed by Kushner.

“General McMaster and the National Security Council believe that the Israeli-Palestinian peace team led by Jared runs a thorough and transparent interagency process, feel completely in the loop about their conversations with the Saudis and other parties and have complete confidence in their overseeing the Administration’s efforts to facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal with regional support,” Anton said in a prepared statement.

Tillerson is concerned that Saudi Arabia may want to act with a freer hand in Qatar, moving beyond its economic embargo to pursue military action, according to the people. One risk is that such a move could have any number of unpredictable and dangerous consequences, including inflamed tensions with Russia and Turkey, an armed response from Iran, or a missile attack on Israel by Iran-backed Hezbollah.

Put the Brakes On

In recent weeks, Tillerson has attempted to put the brakes on key parts of any potential plan, the people said, saying he is does not want the Saudis to get mixed messages from U.S. diplomats and the president’s son-in-law.

The White House denied the contention that Kushner isn’t fully communicating with Tillerson and the State Department, and also disputed the description of the discussions between Kushner and Prince Mohammed.

“This description of our potential plan and conversations is flat out false. While we have obviously discussed economic support for a potential peace deal from many countries, not just Saudi Arabia, we have never discussed specific numbers with other countries and we have not linked a deal to Qatar,” Jason Greenblatt, the president’s Mideast envoy, said in an emailed statement. “Anybody who is suggesting these details or linkage were discussed is not in the know.”

Secret Assurances?

Kushner frequently visits the State Department to brief Tillerson about his efforts in the Middle East, but the worry is that, whether by design or neglect, Kushner hasn’t kept the secretary of state or his top aides informed about many of the details of his overseas negotiations.

Tillerson has concluded that even Trump didn’t know all of the details of Kushner’s discussions with the crown prince.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in an emailed statement: “The President is very pleased with the engagement and progress being made by his team managing the Israeli-Palestinian portfolio and is supportive of their efforts including travel to the region and ongoing discussions with counterparts. He is aware of the conversations and developments and this remains a priority for his administration.”

Kushner has grown close to Prince Mohammed, 32, and has traveled to Saudi Arabia for some of the discussions. What’s worrisome to U.S. officials is that Kushner may have given the Saudis secret assurances that don’t have wider support.

Regime Change

In September, Trump himself intervened on the question of Saudi military action against Qatar, telling Saudi Arabia’s leaders to drop the idea, Bloomberg reported at the time. Yet the Saudis may not have given up, said two of the people. Trump has authorized Tillerson to inform Saudi leaders the U.S. won’t tolerate an attempt to force regime change in Qatar, even if they had heard otherwise from Kushner, one of the people said.

A senior Saudi official denied such plans existed. “Qatar is a small matter and has been resolved by the boycott and we have forgotten it,” he said. “It will return to its senses and its natural size.”

It isn’t clear how far along the discussions are between Kushner and Prince Mohammed, three people said. And some in the U.S. government are skeptical the effort will succeed, in part because of the historic intractability of Israelis and Palestinians, and because any peace deal would ultimately require the support of many competing leaders in the region.

Diplomatic Complexities

The State Department officials’ skepticism about the Middle East discussions also reveals ongoing frustration at the president’s decision to go around them and the U.S. diplomatic corps he regularly disparages. Instead, Trump placed delicate peace negotiations in the hands of Kushner, who has no experience in diplomacy and little background in the complexities of one of the world’s most volatile regions.

Yet Trump, who has long spoken of Mideast peace as the ultimate trophy for a career deal maker, has shown unwavering faith in his son-in-law’s ability to deliver. “If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can,” Trump told Kushner on-stage at a black-tie presidential inaugural event in January. “All my life I’ve been hearing that’s the toughest deal to make, but I have a feeling Jared is going to do a great job.”

Before it’s here, it’s on the Bloomberg Terminal.

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Egypt Orders Military to Use all Force to Secure Sinai

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS PAPER ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Egypt Orders Military to Use all Force to Secure Sinai

Wednesday, 29 November, 2017 – 10:45
Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi stated on Wednesday that it was the responsibility of the military to restore security and stability in the Sinai peninsula within the next three months.

He ordered the army command to use all force necessary to secure the area, following a militant attack on a mosque last week that killed more than 300 people.

The president made his demand while addressing the new chief of staff Major General Mohammed Farid Hegazy in a speech marking the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday.

Hegazy was appointed last month.

“You can use all brute force necessary,” urged Sisi without elaborating.

No group has claimed responsibility for Friday’s mosque attack, but Egyptian forces have been battling a stubborn ISIS affiliate in the North Sinai for more than three years and militants have killed hundreds of police and soldiers.

The massacre, which took place as worshippers were praying in a village mosque on Friday, was the deadliest terrorist attack in Egypt’s modern history.

On Tuesday, Egyptian authorities said security forces have killed at least 14 extremists in Sinai and an adjacent Suez Canal province following Friday’s attack.

The Interior Ministry said 11 of the suspected militants were killed in a shootout on a farm in Ismailia province. Six suspects were arrested there.

Military spokesman Colonel Tamer el-Rifai added that three suspected extremists were killed in central Sinai. He did not elaborate.

Saudi Crown Prince: Biggest Danger of Terrorism is Distorting the Name of Islam

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

((oped) The biggest issue that will determine if this group of 40 Nations (including Saudia Arabia) is if the are willing to work just as hard at ending Sunni terrorism as they are at attacking Shiite terrorism. If they only go after groups like Hezbollah but not groups like Hamas, then they will have no credibility around the world, nor in the Islamic world.)

Saudi Crown Prince: Biggest Danger of Terrorism is Distorting the Name of Islam

Sunday, 26 November, 2017 – 12:30
Saudi Crown Prince and Ministers of Defense during the inauguration of meeting of IMCTC Ministers of Defense Council. SPA
Asharq Al-Awsat

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense opened on Sunday the inaugural meeting of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) Ministers of Defense Council under the slogan “Allied Against Terrorism” with participation of the ministers of Defense of the Islamic State’s Coalition and international delegations.

The meeting marks the official launch of the IMCTC which will discuss the fight against the financing of terrorism and the identification of future mechanisms and frameworks that will guide the efforts of Islamic countries to eliminate terrorism, and unifying efforts to maintain international peace and security.

The Crown Prince said in his inauguration speech that the biggest threat of terrorism is the distortion it has imposed on Islam.

The prince also highlighted that today more than 40 Islamic countries strongly reaffirm their commitment to cooperate in the fight against terrorism.

“IMCTC members have gathered in Riyadh to pledge to do all that we can until terrorism is uprooted and is erased from the face of the Earth” the Crown Prince said.

He also sent his condolences to the brothers in Egypt for the attack in Sinai.

IMCTC has established the Counter Terrorism Center as its operational arm. The Center’s mission is to build up the member country’s Counter Terrorism capacity, exchange global best practice on specific IMCTC initiatives and create coordinated efforts across the four IMCTC domains; ideology, communications, counter terrorist financing, and military.

Two years ago in December 2015, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced the formation of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) to form a unified Pan-Islamic front against terrorism and to reinforce solidarity and collaboration among coalition member countries to present a unified front against terrorist organizations trying to tarnish the name of Islam.

Riyadh: Middle East Online

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ASHARQ AL-AWSAT SAUDI NEWS AGENCY)

 

The head of the General Authority for Audiovisual Media in Saudi Arabia, Reda Al-Haydar, announced on Monday the launching of the Ethical Charter of Social Communication initiative to create an interactive environment with fixed foundations in line with established values.
“We are launching today the Ethical Charter Initiative for the New Media Center with the support of the Audiovisual Media Authority to work together with influential media and social media professionals to create an interactive environment that is consistent with our established values,” he said.
“Social media leaders are partners in conveying what the Saudis know ethically to an interactive charter that can benefit other societies in the Arab world,” he said in a statement.
According to Haidar, the initiative aims to “create a moral reference in the use and interaction of various applications of communication in the digital media, in addition to trying to create a distinct media culture based on the foundations and fixed foundations in all networks and digital means and applications, where respect and positive interaction between different groups and on various topics “He said.
He added that “the drafting of the charter comes within the framework of developing the level of social communication for individuals and the development of the professional performance of enterprises, promoting the optimal utilization of new media products and promoting adherence to the principles and general principles and ethical standards of media, and dissemination of positive culture in the applications of communication in the field of digital media, .