Saudi crown prince’s carefully managed rise hides dark side

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF YAHOO NEWS)

 

Saudi crown prince’s carefully managed rise hides dark side

Jon Gambrell, Associated Press
Associated Press 
Saudi crown prince's carefully managed rise hides dark side
FILE – In this March 22, 2018, file photo, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the Pentagon in Washington. In a kingdom once ruled by an-ever aging rotation of elderly monarchs, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stands out as a youthful face of a youthful nation. But behind a carefully coiffed public-relations operation highlighting images of him smiling in meetings with the world’s top business executives and leaders like President Donald Trump, a darker side lurks as well.(AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — In a kingdom once ruled by an ever-aging rotation of elderly monarchs, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stands out as the youthful face of a youthful nation. But behind the carefully calibrated public-relations campaign pushing images of the smiling prince meeting with the world’s top leaders and business executives lurks a darker side.

Last year, at age 31, Mohammed became the kingdom’s crown prince, next in line to the throne now held by his octogenarian father, King Salman. While pushing for women to drive, he has overseen the arrest of women’s rights activists. While calling for foreign investment, he has imprisoned businessmen, royals and others in a crackdown on corruption that soon resembled a shakedown of the kingdom’s most powerful people.

As Saudi defense minister from the age of 29, he pursued a war in Yemen against Shiite rebels that began a month after he took the helm and wears on today.

What the crown prince chooses next likely will affect the world’s largest oil producer for decades to come. And as the disappearance and feared death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul may show, the young prince will brook no dissent in reshaping the kingdom in his image.

“I don’t want to waste my time,” he told Time Magazine in a cover story this year. “I am young.”

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who wrote several columns for The Washington Post critical of Prince Mohammed, disappeared Oct. 2 on a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials have offered no evidence, but say they fear the writer was killed and dismembered by a Saudi team of 15 men — an operation that, if carried out, would have to have been authorized by the top of the Al Saud monarchy. The kingdom describes the allegation as “baseless,” but has provided no proof that Khashoggi ever left the consulate.

For decades in Saudi Arabia, succession passed down among the dozens of sons of the kingdom’s founder, King Abdul-Aziz. And, over time, the sons have grown older and older upon reaching the throne.

When King Salman took power in January of 2015 and quickly appointed Prince Mohammed as defense minister, it took the kingdom by surprise, especially given the importance of the position and the prince’s age.

He was little-known among the many grandchildren of Saudi Arabia’s patriarch, a young man educated only in the kingdom who stuck close to his father, who previously served as the governor of Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

As defense minister, he entered office facing a crisis in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, which lies south of the kingdom. Shiite rebels known as Houthis had overrun the country’s capital, Sanaa, unseating the deeply unpopular government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

When Hadi fled and it appeared the country’s port city of Aden would fall to the rebels, Saudi Arabia launched a coalition war against the Houthis — a conflict that soon became a stalemate.

The United Nations estimates 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen’s conflict, and activists say that number is likely far higher. It has exacerbated what the U.N. calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with hunger and cholera stalking civilians, worsened by the kingdom’s blockade of ports.

Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition has faced widespread criticism for its airstrikes hitting clinics and marketplaces, which have killed civilians. The Houthis, as well, have indiscriminately used landmines and arrested political opponents.

The coalition says Iran has funneled weapons to the Houthis ranging from small arms to the ballistic missiles now regularly fired into the kingdom, which Iran denies.

For Prince Mohammed, the conflict remains part of what he sees as an existential struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran for the future of the Middle East. Asked about Western concerns over civilian casualties, he offers this: “Mistakes happen in all wars.”

“We don’t need to have a new Hezbollah in the Arabian Peninsula. This is a red line not only for Saudi Arabia but for the whole world,” the prince recently told Bloomberg, referring to the Iran-allied Shiite militant group and political party dominant in Lebanon.

The prince also found himself involved in the bizarre resignation-by-television address of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who announced he would step down during a visit to the kingdom in November 2017, fueling suspicion he was coerced into doing so.

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Washington Post columnist goes missing at Turkey consulate

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS News)

 

Washington Post columnist goes missing at Turkey consulate as fiancee waits outside

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – A Saudi journalist who has written Washington Post columns critical of the kingdom’s assertive crown prince has gone missing after visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, the newspaper said Wednesday. Jamal Khashoggi’s personal website bore a banner saying “Jamal has been arrested at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul!” without elaborating.

The Post said the journalist’s friends were worried “after losing contact with him” Tuesday following his visit to the consulate.

Saudi officials in both Washington and Riyadh did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press. However, 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s rise to power has seen a slew of businessmen, politicians and activists detained.

“We have been unable to reach Jamal today and are very concerned about where he may be,” The Post’s international opinions editor, Eli Lopez, said in a statement. “It would be unfair and outrageous if he has been detained for his work as a journalist and commentator … We hope that he is safe and that we can hear from him soon.”

Saudi Arabia Missing Writer

In this Jan. 29, 2011, file photo, Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks on his cellphone at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

 VIRGINIA MAYO / AP

Khashoggi, 59, is a longtime Saudi journalist, foreign correspondent, editor and columnist whose work has been controversial in the past in the ultraconservative Sunni kingdom. He went into a self-imposed exile in the United States following the ascension of Prince Mohammed, now next in line to the throne to his father, the 82-year-old King Salman.

As a contributor to the Post, Khashoggi has written extensively about Saudi Arabia, including criticizing its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women’s rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving.

“The arrests illuminate the predicament confronting all Saudis. We are being asked to abandon any hope of political freedom, and to keep quiet about arrests and travel bans that impact not only the critics but also their families,” Khashoggi wrote in a May 21 column for the Post. “We are expected to vigorously applaud social reforms and heap praise on the crown prince while avoiding any reference to the pioneering Saudis who dared to address these issues decades ago.”

On Tuesday, Khashoggi entered the consulate to get paperwork he needed in order to be married to his Turkish fiancee next week, leaving her outside with his mobile phone, a friend of the writer told The Associated Press. Embassies throughout the Middle East routinely require phones to be left outside as a security precaution.

BBC News reports his fiancee said she waited outside the consulate until it closed, and Khashoggi had not returned. “I don’t know what’s happening. I don’t know if he’s inside or if they took him somewhere else,” she told Reuters.

Turkish police later came to the consulate and reviewed footage from two surveillance cameras outside that they said showed Khashoggi entered the building, but never left, the friend said. A Turkish security official said Wednesday that authorities were in discussions with Saudi consular officials about Khashoggi’s situation.

“Our efforts are continuing,” the official said, without elaborating. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations that bar officials from speaking to journalists without prior authorization.

Khashoggi was known for his interviews and travels with Osama bin Laden between 1987 and 1995, including in Afghanistan, where he wrote about the battle against the Soviet occupation. In the early 1990s, he tried to persuade bin Laden to reconcile with the Saudi royal family and return home from his base in Sudan, but the al Qaeda leader refused.

Khashoggi maintained ties with Saudi elite and launched a satellite news channel, Al-Arab, from Bahrain in 2015 with the backing of Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal. The channel stayed on the air for less than 11 hours before being shut down. Its billionaire backer was detained in the Ritz Carlton roundup overseen by Prince Mohammed in 2017.

“Presently, Saudi citizens no longer understand the rationale behind the relentless wave of arrests,” Khashoggi wrote in an Aug. 7 column. “These arbitrary arrests are forcing many into silence, and a few others have even quietly left the country.”

He offered this advice to the kingdom: “There is a better way for the kingdom to avoid Western criticism: Simply free human rights activists, and stop the unnecessary arrests that have diminished the Saudi image.”

Prince William visits Western Wall, prays for world peace

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Prince William visits Western Wall, prays for world peace

British royal places note between stones, tours Temple Mount, pays respects at great-grandmother’s grave on Mount of Olives

  • Britain's Prince William touches the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem's Old City on June 28, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Menahem KAHANA)
    Britain’s Prince William touches the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem’s Old City on June 28, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Menahem KAHANA)
  • Britain's Prince William (C-L) walks alongside Western Wall chief Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch (R) during a visit to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem's Old City on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / Menahem KAHANA)
    Britain’s Prince William (C-L) walks alongside Western Wall chief Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch (R) during a visit to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem’s Old City on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / Menahem KAHANA)
  • Britain's Prince William (C), British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (R) and  Western Wall Chief rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch (L) talk during a visit to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem's Old City on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / POOL / ABIR SULTAN)
    Britain’s Prince William (C), British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (R) and Western Wall Chief rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch (L) talk during a visit to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem’s Old City on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / POOL / ABIR SULTAN)
  • An Israeli policeman stands guard as Britain's Prince William visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem's Old City on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)
    An Israeli policeman stands guard as Britain’s Prince William visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem’s Old City on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)
  • Britain's Prince William (C) and British Consul General in Jerusalem Phillip Hall (L) talk to a guide in Jerusalem's Mount of Olives overlooking the Old City with the golden dome of the Dome of the Rock mosque on June 28, 2018. The Duke of Cambridge is the first member of the royal family to make an official visit to the Jewish state and the Palestinian territories. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Thomas COEX)
    Britain’s Prince William (C) and British Consul General in Jerusalem Phillip Hall (L) talk to a guide in Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives overlooking the Old City with the golden dome of the Dome of the Rock mosque on June 28, 2018. The Duke of Cambridge is the first member of the royal family to make an official visit to the Jewish state and the Palestinian territories. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Thomas COEX)
  • Britain's Prince William (L) talks to a guide on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives overlooking the Old City with the golden dome of the Dome of the Rock on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Thomas COEX)
    Britain’s Prince William (L) talks to a guide on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives overlooking the Old City with the golden dome of the Dome of the Rock on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Thomas COEX)
  • Britain's Prince William visits the grave of his great-grandmother Princess Alice of Battenberg during a visit to the Mary Magdalene Church, in East Jerusalem, on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Sebastian Scheiner)
    Britain’s Prince William visits the grave of his great-grandmother Princess Alice of Battenberg during a visit to the Mary Magdalene Church, in East Jerusalem, on June 28, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Sebastian Scheiner)

Prince William visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall and the Temple Mount on Thursday morning, on the final day of his three-day trip to Israel and the West Bank.

William was joined at the West Wall by the site’s rabbi, Shmuel Rabinovitch. After spending several moments alone beside the stones, the prince signed the Wall’s guestbook.

He was accompanied by the site’s rabbi and security guards as he approached the wall. Donning a black skullcap, he placed his right hand on the ancient stones and then, following tradition, slipped a note inside its cracks.

He signed the guestbook with the following passage: “May the God of peace bless this region and all the world with peace.”

“Today we experienced a moment of history which will live long in the memory of Jews around the world,” said the Chief Rabbi of Britain Ephraim Mirvis, who accompanied the prince in his visit. “The Western Wall stands at the epicenter of our faith. To see the future monarch come to pay his respects was a remarkable gesture of friendship and a sign of the duke’s regard for the sanctity of Jerusalem.”

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On the Temple Mount, the prince was allowed to enter the Dome of the Rock, which is generally off limits for non-Muslims.

Crowds of onlookers followed his every move as the prince made his way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre shortly after departing from the Western Wall.

Earlier the prince visited the grave of his great-grandmother Princess Alice of Battenberg on the Mount of Olives. Princess Alice saved a Jewish family during the Holocaust, and was interred in the cemetery in the late 1980s.

The prince stood solemnly by his great-grandmother’s grave, accompanied by a Russian Orthodox clergyman. He was then given several gifts by the clergy, including a bouquet of flowers and a cross. With the homage, William followed in the footsteps of his father Charles, the Prince of Wales, and grandfather Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who had also visited Princess Alice’s grave.

The Duke of Cambridge left Israel in the afternoon. His stay was the first-ever official visit by a member of the royal family since the British Mandate ended and the State of Israel was founded in 1948.

The trip took place under a minor cloud of controversy, as Kensington Palace’s official itinerary states that the prince’s visit to Jerusalem’s Old City would take place in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

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According to a Hadashot TV news report on Wednesday, William also reportedly refused a request for a meeting in the capital with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

Barkat requested a meeting in the city with the royal visitor, who has been staying at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel. However, British Embassy officials reportedly told Barkat the prince would be pleased to meet the mayor at a reception held Tuesday at the British ambassador’s residence in Ramat Gan, but that the prince would not meet with him in Jerusalem.

The prince met at length in Jerusalem on Tuesday with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin. Apparently a meeting by the prince with the mayor in Jerusalem, however, would have implied an unacceptable degree of British recognition of Israeli rights in the city.

Barkat refused the offer and stayed away from Tuesday night’s reception.

On Wednesday, in Ramallah, Prince William told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas he was “glad our two countries work so closely together.”

Israel has opposed any attempts by the Palestinians to gain recognition as a state before a permanent peace deal is signed. Still, the Foreign Ministry chose not to respond to William’s comment.

On Tuesday and Wednesday William toured the Tel Aviv beach, met with Israeli youth and took a stroll down the city’s famed Rothschild Boulevard with Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai.

William told guests at Tuesday’s Ramat Gan reception that Israel is a vibrant country that “thrives on innovation, diversity, talent and excellence,” and said ties were at an all-time high.

Prince William seen with Israeli footvolley players at Frishman beach in Tel Aviv, on June 26, 2018. (Niv Aharonson/POOL)

He also promised Britain’s support in the quest for peace between Israel and its neighbors.

“I know I share a desire with all of you, and with your neighbors, for a just and lasting peace. The United Kingdom stands with you, as we work together for a peaceful and prosperous future,” he said.

William also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem on Tuesday and met there with Holocaust survivors.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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(Poem: Theology/Philosophy) With Power Comes Dreams And Night Terrors

With Power Comes Dreams And Night Terrors

 

Kings like all people do dream dreams

Therein their Spirit is often much troubled

Their sleep and their conscience is tainted

Yet, can a King demand to be enlightened

 

Leaders can summon their Magicians and Sorcerers

Yet when they stand before the throne can they see

Do they know what the King in His dreams has seen

Can the night terrors of Power ever truly be explained

 

What can be done if the King is terrorized by a forgotten dream

Can forked tongues give enlightenment to what they have not seen

Frauds and Sorcerers, can you see your own end written on the wall

Are there truly Leaders, Magicians or Sorcerers worthy of great honor

 

Yet, shall that which is good be thrown into the fire if it has not been tried

A crazed Ruler shall punish all because of His own errors, ego and arrogance

He who lies to all and contradicts Himself leads His people to be slaughtered

The terrors of the night bring enlightenment to a Leader of wisdom and a conscience

 

 

 

 

 

So, The English Have A New Prince, Maybe That Isn’t All

(THIS IS FROM AN OLD SCHOOL FRIEND OF MINE ON HIS FACEBOOK ACCOUNT, I JUST HAD TO POST THIS ONE)