Saudi Government Arrests 2 U.S. ‘Dual’ Citizens In ‘Dissident’s’ Crackdown

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

(CNN)Saudi Arabia detained seven activists, including two US citizens, on Thursday, two sources told CNN, in the kingdom’s first sweep of arrests targeting dissidents since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.

Salah al-Haidar, a dual Saudi-US citizen who is the son of prominent women’s rights defender Aziza al-Yousef, was one of those arrested, according to two sources familiar with the events. Yousef was temporarily freed from a prison in Riyadh last month and is on trial along with 10 other women’s rights defenders.
One source is a Saudi academic in a US university who has strong relations with the Saudi dissident community. The other source is a Saudi activist with knowledge of the events.
Haidar is a writer and journalist on social issues. His father owns a home in Vienna, Virginia, according to the Saudi academic who asked not to be named out of concerns for his safety.
Salah al-Haidar and his mother Aziza al-Yousef in a car after a Saudi court granted her temporary release in March. Yousef is a prominent women's rights defender who spent nearly a year behind bars. Haidar was arrested on April 4, around two weeks after his mother's release.

Another Saudi-US dual citizen, the writer and physician Bader al-Ibrahim, was also arrested in the crackdown, the sources said.
The UK-based Saudi rights group Alqst reported that seven activists had been arrested on Thursday, and released their names.
All seven detainees are writers and social media bloggers who are connected to Yousef’s family and are friends with Haidar, according to the sources. They previously engaged in public discussions about reforms and have publicly endorsed women’s rights causes such as the right to drive, the sources said.
Two of the activists detained on Thursday are Saudi married couple Thumar al-Mazouqi and Khadijah al-Harbi, said the sources. Harbi, who has written about and campaigned for women’s rights, is in late-stage pregnancy, the sources added. She and Mazouqi have been supportive of detained women’s rights defenders currently standing trial.
The sources also confirmed that a Riyadh university lecturer named Anas al-Mazrou was arrested on March 19. Days earlier a video of Mazrou filmed at a book fair, in which he publicly expressed solidarity with political prisoners and named some detained women’s rights defenders, had gone viral.
The Saudi government did not immediately respond to CNN’s requests for comment about the case. CNN has reached out to the US embassy in Riyadh for comment.
Saudi Arabia has conducted a series of crackdowns on dissidents since Prince Mohammed bin Salman was elevated to Crown Prince in June 2017. The arrest sweeps have targeted clerics, academics and human rights defenders.
In May and June 2018, several women’s rights activists were detained in a series of arrests that were widely criticized by the international community, including at the United Nations human rights council.
The October 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a US resident and critic of the government, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul sparked international uproar.
The number of arrests of dissidents appeared to decrease significantly in the aftermath of Khashoggi’s killing, in what many observers hoped was sign that the kingdom’s crackdown was deescalating, Alqst director Yahya Assiri told CNN.
Thursday’s arrests appeared to mark a renewal of the crackdown, Assiri and the Saudi academic said.
“It’s all breaking my heart but in particular is I know Salah al-Haidar’s family has already been thru so much after #Saudi feminist (Salah’s mother) Aziza al-Yousef’s arrest since May 2018,” wrote Saudi-American Harvard PhD student Nora Abdulkarim in a tweet. “Days after her temp release, and their celebrating, now Salah is arrested. I cannot fathom.”

Saudi Arabia Seeks Death Penalty for 5 Suspects in Khashoggi Killing

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

(SO, THIS ARTICLE SHOWS THAT THE SAUDI CROWN PRINCE IS NOW PLANNING ON MURDERING 5 MORE PEOPLE WHEN IN REALITY THE ONLY PERSON THAT SHOULD BE ON TRIAL FOR MR. KHASHOGGI’S MURDER IS THE CROWN PRINCE HIMSELF BECAUSE IT HAS BEEN PROVEN THAT HE IS THE ONE WHO ORDERED THE MURDER!) (oldpoet56)

Saudi Arabia Seeks Death Penalty for 5 Suspects in Khashoggi Killing

An autopsy expert. A lookalike. A black van. Our video investigation follows the movements of the 15-man Saudi hit team that killed and dismembered the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.Published On 

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor on Thursday formally requested the death penalty for five suspects in the killing of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, but provided no new information about the murder or the investigation into how it happened.

The killing of Mr. Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul has badly tarnished the international reputation of the kingdom and of its crown prince and day-to-day ruler, Mohammed bin Salman.

After weeks of insisting that Mr. Khashoggi had left the consulate alive on Oct. 2, the kingdom finally acknowledged in November that its agents had killed and dismembered him, and vowed to hold the perpetrators accountable.

After the first court session in the case on Thursday, the public prosecutor’s office released a statement saying that it had requested the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects charged.

It did not provide any of the suspects’ names, or any details about what role they might have played in the crime. Nor did the statement explain why the prosecutor had sought the death penalty against some but not others.

Turkish officials and investigations by The New York Times have found that Mr. Khashoggi’s killing was the result of a complex operation that involved at least 15 agents who flew into Turkey specifically for the job, many of them closely connected to Prince Mohammed.

They included intelligence agents who had traveled with the crown prince, a physician who specialized in autopsies and brought a bone saw, and a body double who donned Mr. Khashoggi’s clothes and walked around Istanbul seeking to leave a false trail of evidence that he was still alive.

Saudi Arabia has insisted that despite the complexity of the operation, the decision to kill Mr. Khashoggi, 59, was made by the team on the ground and had not been ordered by their superiors in Riyadh.

Mr. Khashoggi had been close to the Saudi royal family before Prince Muhammad’s rise to power. He moved to the United States and became a public critic of the Saudi government, writing columns for The Washington Post.

Demonstrating that it will hold accountable those responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s killing is expected to be a crucial part of the kingdom’s efforts to move past the scandal, which has complicated its foreign relations and scared off Western investors it was counting on to support its cultural and economic reform plans.

But it remains unclear whether the trial, and the lack of public information about the legal proceedings, will quell worries in the West about Saudi Arabia’s respect for the rule of law. The kingdom’s courts enforce a strict interpretation of Shariah law, the legal code of Islam based on the Quran, but are also easily influenced by the country’s royal leaders, critics say.

While the Trump administration, which considers the kingdom under Prince Mohammed’s leadership an important ally in the Middle East, has stood by the prince, United States intelligences services and members of Congress believe that he ordered the killing.

The Saudi statement did not say when the next hearing in the case would take place. It said the suspects appeared with their lawyers, were given copies of the charges against them and asked for time to prepare their defenses.

Don-key Trump: Israel would be in big trouble without Saudi Arabia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Trump: Israel would be in big trouble without Saudi Arabia

Defending stance on Khashoggi killing, US president suggests that without Washington’s ‘strong ally’ Riyadh, Israel would be forced ‘to leave’ region

US President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested that Israel would face major regional difficulties in the Middle East if it were not for the stabilizing presence of Saudi Arabia.

“Israel would be in big trouble without Saudi Arabia,” Trump told reporters after a Thanksgiving Day telephone call with members of the military from his Mar-a-Lago resort home in Florida.

The US president was asked to comment on reports that the CIA had concluded that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman ordered the brutal murder of US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.

“If you look at Israel, Israel would be in big trouble without Saudi Arabia,” Trump said. “So what does that mean, Israel is going to leave? You want Israel to leave? We have a very strong ally in Saudi Arabia.”

“The fact is that Saudi Arabia is tremendously helpful in the Middle East, if we didn’t have Saudi Arabia we wouldn’t have a big base, we wouldn’t have any reason probably…” Trump said, without finishing the sentence.

Critics in Congress and high-ranking officials in other countries have accused Trump of ignoring human rights and giving Saudi Arabia a pass for economic reasons, including its influence on the world oil market.

Noting that Saudi Arabia helps keep oil prices down, Trump on Thursday argued that almost no country is without its faults.

“If we go by a certain standard we won’t be able to have allies with almost any country,” he said.

People hold posters picturing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and candles during a gathering outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, on October 25, 2018. (Yasin Akgul/AFP)

Citing vehement denials by the Saudi crown prince and king that they were involved in Khashoggi’s killing, which he termed “an atrocity,” Trump said, “maybe the world should be held accountable because the world is a vicious place. The world is a very, very vicious place.”

Trump said this week he would not impose harsher penalties on the crown prince over the death and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Khashoggi.

On Tuesday, Trump also mentioned Israel in justifying why US-Saudi ties would not suffer over the Khashoggi scandal.

“The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel, and all other partners in the region,” he said.

Earlier this month, in Israel’s first public comments on the murder of Khashoggi, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that while the killing was “horrendous,” it was still necessary to preserve stability in the Arab kingdom.

Netanyahu’s comments came a day after the Washington Post reported that the Israeli leader had recently urged the White House to maintain its support for the crown prince amid growing criticism over the killing of Khashoggi. Netanyahu told Trump administration officials that the crown prince was a key strategic partner and a linchpin of the alliance against Iranian encroachment in the region, according to the Post.

In this May 20, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Israel does not have diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia although the two countries have found a common foe in Iran.

American intelligence agencies have concluded that the crown prince ordered the killing in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey, according to a US official familiar with the assessment. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

READ MORE:

Trump slanders Khashoggi and betrays American values

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

Trump slanders Khashoggi and betrays American values


President Trump speaks to the media before leaving the White House in Washington on Nov. 20. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

November 20 at 5:03 PM

PRESIDENT TRUMP on Tuesday confirmed what his administration has been signaling all along: It will stand behind Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman even if he ordered the brutal murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In a crude statement punctuated with exclamation points, Mr. Trump sidestepped a CIA finding that the crown prince was behind the killing; casually slandered Mr. Khashoggi, who was one of the Arab world’s most distinguished journalists; and repeated gross falsehoods and exaggerations about the benefits of the U.S. alliance with the kingdom. Mr. Trump has betrayed American values in service to what already was a bad bet on the 33-year-old prince.
As with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s interference in the 2016 election, Mr. Trump is justifying his affinity for a brutal and reckless leader by disregarding the findings of the U.S. intelligence community. The Post reported Friday that the CIA has concluded with “high confidence” — a rating it does not apply lightly — that Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, who while living in self-imposed exile in Virginia, wrote columns for The Post that were moderately critical of the crown prince.
Mr. Trump’s response is to grudgingly acknowledge that “it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event” before adding “maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” He declares the truth unknowable and thus irrelevant: “We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder.”
In fact, the truth about Mr. Khashoggi’s death is not only knowable but largely known. Audio recordings in the CIA’s possession record his actual killing as well as phone calls from the hit team to Mohammed bin Salman’s close aides. Five members of the team have been identified as probable members of the crown prince’s personal security team.
While discounting these facts, Mr. Trump bases his continued backing for the regime on false claims, including his thoroughly debunked boast that Saudi Arabia will “spend and invest $450 billion” in the United States. He says the kingdom has “been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels,” though Riyadh is reportedly preparing to cut production to raise prices.
Worst of all, Mr. Trump libels Mr. Khashoggi, saying that “representatives of Saudi Arabia” had called him an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The crown prince did make those allegations in a phone call to the White House — but the regime itself was so embarrassed when The Post reported on the call that it denied making them. Mr. Khashoggi’s family has confirmed that he was not a member of the Brotherhood.
Mr. Trump concluded his statement by inviting Congress “to go in a different direction.” As in the Russia case, it must do so. Bipartisan legislation mandating sanctions for all those implicated in Mr. Khashoggi’s death is pending in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) last week gave us a statement indicating he wanted to know “what more would be done” by the administration before Congress responded. Now he knows. If Mohammed bin Salman is to be held accountable, as Mr. Corker said he must, the committee must act. The alternative is a world where dictators know they can murder their critics and suffer no consequences.

Lindsey Graham: ‘Impossible to believe’ Saudi Crown Prince was unaware of Khashoggi killing

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

Lindsey Graham: ‘Impossible to believe’ Saudi Crown Prince was unaware of Khashoggi killing

“He is irrational, he is unhinged, and I think he has done a lot of damage” to the U.S.-Saudi relationship, Graham said.
Image: Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham speaks with Chuck Todd on Meet The Press on Nov. 18, 2018.NBC News

 / Updated 
By Kailani Koenig

WASHINGTON — Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Sunday harshly condemned Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over his alleged role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, calling him “unhinged” and pointedly refusing to work with the prince in the future.

“The fact that he didn’t know about it is impossible for me to believe,” Graham said on Sunday’s “Meet The Press.” The South Carolina senator said he hasn’t been given an official briefing on the matter, but maintained that the conclusion that the crown prince had a role in Khashoggi’s murder should be clear to anyone with knowledge about the country.

“If he is going to be the face of Saudi Arabia going forward, I think the kingdom will have a hard time on the world stage,” Graham added. “They are an important ally, but when it comes to the crown prince, he is irrational, he is unhinged, and I think he has done a lot of damage to the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia and I have no intention of working with him ever again.”

The United States announced sanctions this week against 17 Saudi Arabian officials over the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

NBC News reported on Friday that the CIA has concluded that the crown prince himself ordered the assassination.

Graham said he doesn’t want to let the individuals who carried out the killing to become “the fall guy,” but instead, “I am going to do whatever I can to place blame where I believe it lies: I am going to put it at the feet of the crown prince who has been a destructive force in the Mideast.”

The senator noted that he previously had a lot of hope for the prince’s potential as a reformer in the region, but “that ship has sailed as far as Lindsey Graham is concerned.”

Graham’s language on Saudi Arabia stands in stark contrast to President Trump, who repeatedly told “Fox News Sunday” this weekend that the crown prince has continually denied involvement in the incident.

Asked whether the prince was lying, Trump responded, “he told me that he had nothing to do with it. He told me that, I would say, maybe five times at different points.”

The president also asked, “Will anybody really know? He did have certainly people that were reasonably close to him and close to him that were probably involved.”

On Sunday, Graham was asked about the bond between the crown prince, Trump, and Jared Kushner, and he said, “I’ll leave it up to the president to find out how to handle Saudi Arabia from the executive branch side.”

“From the legislative branch side, we’re going to do as much as we can, as hard as we can, to send a signal to the world,” he continued. “This is not how we expect an ally to act. What happened in Turkey violates every norm of civilized society and it will not stand. And if John McCain were alive today, he’d be the first one saying that.”

Graham also maintained that the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., the crown prince’s brother, Prince Khalid Bin Salman, should not be allowed back in to the United States as ambassador.

Also on “Meet The Press,” Graham publicly called on the president to move forward on the issue of criminal justice reform, asking him to “pick up the phone” and lobby Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring their bill on the issue to the floor.

“The Republicans are the problem here, not the Democrats,” Graham said.

Turkey gives recordings on Khashoggi’s death to Saudis, US, Britain

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Turkey gives recordings on Khashoggi’s death to Saudis, US, Britain — Erdogan

Istanbul, Turkey (CNN) Recordings related to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death have been passed on to Saudi Arabia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday.

Khashoggi was killed after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain paperwork for his marriage.
Speaking before his departure to Paris for World War I commemorations, Erdogan said: “We passed on the recordings. We gave them to Saudi Arabia, to America, to the Germans, French and the English — we gave them all.”
He did not elaborate on what was on the recordings.
Erdogan said the killer, or killers, would be known to the 18 suspects identified by Turkish authorities — including 15 men who arrived from Saudi Arabia shortly before Khashoggi’s death.
He again called on Saudi Arabia to provide answers as to what happened to Khashoggi and his body, which has not yet been found.
Erdogan has previously demanded that Saudi Arabia hand over the 18 suspects for prosecution in Turkey but the kingdom has insisted that those responsible for Khashoggi’s death will be tried in Saudi Arabia.
The Turkish chief prosecutor said 10 days ago that Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi consulate, as part of a premeditated plan, and his body dismembered.
Sons of slain Saudi journalist speak to CNN

Erdogan’s confirmation that recordings relating to Khashoggi’s death have been handed to key international players is the latest in a drip-feed of details released by Turkey in the weeks since the journalist disappeared.
Revelations from the Turkish side have helped to keep up diplomatic pressure on Saudi Arabia to explain what happened.
US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron both want to get “greater detail” about the events surrounding Khashoggi’s killing, a French presidential spokesman said following a meeting between the pair Saturday in Paris.
Both leaders agreed “something very serious happened — that this assassination was serious and unacceptable,” the spokesman said at a briefing on the bilateral talks.
However, neither leader wants to do anything that could destabilize Saudi Arabia, the spokesman said, adding that the United States considered Saudi Arabia to be the “cornerstone of everything in the Middle East.”
The leaders did not discuss what should happen to the culprits, the spokesman noted, describing it as an “internal Saudi matter.”
The Saudis have presented shifting stories about the journalist’s fate, initially denying any knowledge before arguing that a group of rogue operators, many of whom belong to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s inner circle, were responsible for Khashoggi’s death.
The Saudi attorney general then said the Turkish side had provided information indicating that the killing was premeditated. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister and Energy Minister have both described Khashoggi’s death as “murder.”
Riyadh has maintained that neither bin Salman nor his father, King Salman, knew of the operation to target Khashoggi. US officials have said such a mission — including the 15 men sent from Riyadh — could not have been carried out without the authorization of bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler.
After Saudi Arabia admitted that Khashoggi was killed in its Istanbul consulate, five high-ranking officials were dismissed, including bin Salman’s media chief and the deputy head of the Saudi intelligence service. Eighteen people were arrested.

Saudi Murderers: Khashoggi’s body parts transported in suitcases

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL-JAZEERA NEWS AGENCY)

 

Khashoggi’s body parts transported in suitcases: Report

Corpse of Saudi journalist was dismembered and put into five suitcases after he was strangled, Turkish daily reports.

Khashoggi's body parts transported in suitcases: Report
Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, right, entered Turkey through Ataturk Airport in Istanbul on October 2 [Sabah via AP]

Jamal Khashoggi’s body was dismembered and put into five suitcases after he was strangled upon entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul last month, according to a report by a Turkish pro-government newspaper.

Citing unnamed officials, Sabah reported on Sunday that the suitcases were then taken to the Saudi consul-general’s residence near the consulate the day the journalist – a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS – was killed on October 2.

The officials said that Maher Mutreb, Salah Tubeigy and Thaar al-Harbi were the three key figures from a 15-member hit squad reportedly involved in dismembering Khashoggi’s body and removing it from the premises.

Mutreb was a direct aide to MBS, while Tubeigy was the head of the Saudi Scientific Council of Forensics and a colonel in the kingdom’s army.

Al-Harbi was reportedly promoted to lieutenant in the Saudi royal guard last year for bravery in the defence of the crown prince’s palace in Jeddah.

Sabah’s report came 48 hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he believed that the order to kill the journalist came from the “highest levels” of the Saudi state.

Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, reporting from Istanbul, said on Sunday the latest information added detail to the picture being formulated by Turkish prosecutors who say Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered soon after entering the building.

Simmons said that Mutreb, a senior intelligence official, appeared to be leading the operation, while Tubeigy has experience in forensic pathology.

CCTV footage shows the three individuals travelled in a number of vehicles from the consulate to the consul-general’s residence 200 metres away after Khashoggi’s murder at about 3pm.

Less than two hours later, Mutreb is seen leaving the residence, according to the footage.

It is at the residence that they reportedly disposed of the body parts, although it is unknown how this was done.

“This is a looming question. No one knows where the body went,” Simmons said. “One Turkish official is reported saying that there was acid used to dissolve the bodies; there’s another report that the well shaft was used in the garden of the consul-general’s residence – it is unclear,” he added.

“There is a real concern now that the Saudis aren’t being open enough with the Turkish investigators. Furthermore, on a political level, [there is] a big concern that world attention is beginning to wane somewhat on this whole case and whether or not the US is prepared to take firm action against the Saudis that Turkey wants to see.”

READ MORE

Jamal Khashoggi case: All the latest updates

With a joint Turkish and Saudi probe into Khashoggi’s fate making little progress so far, Erdogan on Friday called on Saudi Arabia to answer outstanding questions concerning the 59-year-old’s killing.

“We must reveal the identities of the puppet masters behind Khashoggi’s killing,” Erdogan wrote in an opinion piece published by US newspaper The Washington Post.

‘Dismembered and dissolved’

Also on Friday, Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Erdogan and a friend of Khashoggi’s, said the team that killed the journalist cut up his body in order to dissolve for easier disposal.

“According to the latest information we have, the reason they dismembered his body is to dissolve it easier,” he told Hurriyet newspaper.

“They aimed to ensure no sign of the body was left.”

A senior Turkish official has told Al Jazeera the journalist’s body was dismembered and dissolved in acid, without offering evidence.

Riyadh initially denied Khashoggi was killed inside its consulate but, following intense international pressure and after changing its narrative numerous times, the Saudi prosecutor admitted that Khashoggi was killed in a “premeditated” manner.

Still, Turkish officials have accused the Saudis of failing to answer questions regarding the case.

Two of them relate to the identity of a “local collaborator” to whom Saudi officials claimed to have handed over Khashoggi’s remains, as well as the identity of the person who ordered the killing.

On Wednesday, a senior Turkish official said the Saudi side appeared unwilling to “genuinely cooperate” with Turkey;s investigation.

“The Saudi officials seemed primarily interested in finding out what evidence the Turkish authorities had against the perpetrators,” the official told AFP news agency on the condition of anonymity.

“We did not get the impression that they were keen on genuinely cooperating with the investigation.”

The Saudis have also launched their own investigation, vowing to “uncover every stone” and “punish” those who are responsible.

A spokesperson for Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party said on Wednesday Khashoggi’s killing could not have been made possible without orders from someone in a senior position.

Omar Celik told reporters in Ankara that Turkey would not let anyone cover up Khashoggi’s killing, adding that it was not possible for Saudi officials to still not know the body’s whereabouts.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

Saudi Crown Prince MBS: A Partner We (No One) Can’t Depend On

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

A Partner We Can’t Depend On

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia long ago revealed his true character in impulsive and vicious actions.

Susan E. Rice

By Susan E. Rice

Ms. Rice was the national security adviser during President Barack Obama’s second term.

Image
A Yemeni child at the graves of schoolboys who were killed when their bus was hit by a Saudi-led coalition air strike in August. Credit  France Press — Getty Images

The crisis in United States-Saudi relations precipitated by the brazen murder of Jamal Khashoggi raises a critical question that the Trump administration plainly wants to avoid: Can the United States continue to cooperate with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman? The young prince’s almost certain culpability in Mr. Khashoggi’s killing underscores his extreme recklessness and immorality, while exposing him as a dangerous and unreliable partner for the United States.

No astute observer should be surprised to discover that Prince Mohammed is capable of such action. Yes, we may be shocked by how heinous Mr. Khashoggi’s murder was, and by how blatant the many lies told by the Saudis have been. Of course, many Americans, from Silicon Valley to the editorial pages of our leading papers, were snowed by the crown prince’s promises of reform and the deft marketing of his leadership. But, for those willing to see past his charm offensive, Prince Mohammed had already revealed his true character through numerous impulsive and vicious actions.

The deadliest exhibit is the war in Yemen, which has cost tens of thousands of lives and killed countless civilians, including children, because the Saudis arrogantly refuse to employ responsible targeting techniques. It has been a Prince Mohammed operation from the start.

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen shares direct responsibility, along with the Houthi rebels and Iran, for the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, while the United States has continued shamelessly to provide support to their bloody war. Although the Obama administration initiated support to the coalition to help defend Saudi territory from Houthi incursions, it finally moved to curtail arms sales when the aims of the war expanded and the constraints we tried to impose were flouted.

At home, the crown prince has locked up civil society activists. He imprisoned for months hundreds of members of the royal family and other influential people in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton and demanded they surrender huge sums of money and valuable assets in exchange for release. He has forced out rivals and close relatives, including former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. And, as the Khashoggi case suggests, he has undertaken a global purge of Saudi dissidents wherever they reside.

The crown prince kidnapped the Lebanese prime minister and denied it. He imposed a spiteful, full-blown blockade on neighboring Qatar, another important American partner, and has sought to goad the United States into conflict with Iran. Stung by two mildly critical tweets by the Canadian foreign minister, Prince Mohammed abruptly downgraded diplomatic ties with Ottawa, yanked 7,000 Saudi students out of Canadian universities and limited transport and trade links.

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Credit Giuseppe Cacace/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As this litany of lunacy shows, Prince Mohammed is not and can no longer be viewed as a reliable or rational partner of the United States and our allies. If we fail to punish him directly and target only those around him, the crown prince will be further emboldened to take extreme actions. If we do punish him, which we must, Prince Mohammed, petulant and proud, is equally likely to behave more irresponsibly to demonstrate his independence and exact retribution against his erstwhile Western partners. Either way, the Trump administration must assume that Prince Mohammed will continue to drive his country and our bilateral relationship over the proverbial cliff.

Unfortunately, King Salman seems unwilling or unable to rein in his rogue son. With critics cowed into submission and rivals pushed aside, there is no obvious alternative-in-waiting who might provide Saudi Arabia with sober, responsible leadership.

Absent a change at the top, we should brace ourselves for a future in which Saudi Arabia is less stable and more difficult to govern. In this scenario, the potential risks to American security and economic interests would be grave. The United States was wrong to hitch our wagon to Prince Mohammed, but we would be even more foolish to continue to do so.

Looking ahead, Washington must act to mitigate the risks to our own interests. We should not rupture our important relationship with the kingdom, but we must make clear it cannot be business as usual so long as Prince Mohammed continues to wield unlimited power. It should be United States policy, in conjunction with our allies, to sideline the crown prince in order to increase pressure on the royal family to find a steadier replacement.

We should start by leading the push for an impartial international investigation into Mr. Khashoggi’s killing. We must be consistent and public in our judgment that the United States believes the killing could not have occurred without Prince Mohammed’s blessing or, more likely, his order.

Next, we should terminate all military support for the misbegotten Yemen campaign and pressure the Saudis to reach a negotiated settlement. We should immediately suspend all American arms sales to the kingdom and conduct a careful, comprehensive review of any future deliveries, halting all but those we determine, in close consultation with Congress, advance United States national security interests.

Finally, we should stop following Prince Mohammed down blind alleys and bring a healthy skepticism to our dealings with him, particularly any that require relying on his word or judgment.

We need to stop privileging Jared Kushner’s relationship with the crown prince, and finally fill the vacant ambassadorship to the kingdom, to engage with a broader range of senior Saudi officials. President Trump’s inexplicable infatuation with Prince Mohammed must end, and he must recalibrate American policy so that it serves our national interests — not his personal interests or those of the crown prince.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on FacebookTwitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

Susan E. Rice, the national security adviser from 2013 to 2017 and a former United States ambassador to the United Nations, is a contributing opinion writer. @AmbassadorRice

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Saudi Crown Prince: Khashoggi’s Killers Will Be Brought to Justice

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

 

Saudi Crown Prince: Khashoggi’s Killers Will Be Brought to Justice

(WHAT IS THE CROWN PRINCE GOING TO DO, HANG HIMSELF? IS IT MORE LIKELY HE WILL FIND 15 OTHER ENEMIES TO BLAME, AND HANG THEM?)
Wednesday, 24 October, 2018 – 17:00
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at FII 2018 in Riyadh. (SPA)
Asharq Al-Awsat

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, described on Wednesday the murder of a citizen Jamal Khashoggi as “ugly and painful” to Saudis and the world.

“We are working with Turkey to uncover the truth and complete the investigations. We will bring the criminals to justice,” he told the Future Investment Initiative forum that is being held in Riyadh.

Some sides are exploiting the Khashoggi case to drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, he continued.

“I want to send them a message that they cannot do this as long as King Salman is here, and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is in Saudi Arabia and the head of Turkey, whose name is (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan … this division won’t happen.”

On the economy, Prince Mohammed said: “Numbers will speak about the improvement of the Saudi economy.”

“We will continue to develop our country and no one will stop us,” he vowed.

“I believe the new Europe will be the Middle East and the region will be different in five years’ time,” he stated.

Why the Arab World Needs Democracy Now

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

(BY JAMAL KHASHOGGI)

Why the Arab World Needs Democracy Now

In April Jamal Khashoggi gave this speech, saying the dangerous idea of the benevolent autocrat, the just dictator, is being revived in the Arab world.

By Jamal Khashoggi

Mr. Khashoggi was a Saudi journalist.

Image
A Saudi flag at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where Jamal Khashoggi was killed. Credit Ozan Kose/Agence France-Press — Getty Images

Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi Arabian journalist who was killed by Saudi agents inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, was the keynote speaker at a conference in April organized by the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver and the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy in Washington. Excerpts from his speech, edited for clarity and length, are below.

I am from Saudi Arabia, where the issues of democracy and Islam are very much relevant. When a Saudi official wanted to brush away the question of democracy, in the past, he would always raise the question of whether democracy is compatible with Islam.

The debate about the relationship between Islam and democracy conclusively ended with the coming of the Arab Spring, when the people of the Arab world, — especially the youth, and even the Islamist, including some Salafis, who were always critical of democracy — supported the protests for democratic and political change. Other Salafis remained very critical of democracy, viewing it as “kufr,” or un-Islamic, based on the belief that democracy represents a rejection of religious values.

The long voting lines during the 2012 elections in Tunisia and Egypt clearly demonstrated that the people of the Arab world were ready for change. They enthusiastically participated in democratic elections, including Islamist parties that had often been the focus of the debate on Islam’s compatibility with democracy.

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Those images from Egypt and Tunisia of men, women, young, and old going to the polls should be contrasted with the sham elections we see today in Egypt and in other parts of the Arab world. This is an argument we can use against anyone who might claim that “Arabs are not ready for democracy.”

Today, Saudi Arabia is struggling with different aspects of modernity — with cinemas, art, entertainment, mixing of the sexes, opening up to the world, rejecting radicalism. The tight grip that the religious establishment has had on social life is gradually loosening.

But while we’re pursuing all these forms of modernity, the Saudi leaders are still not interested in democracy, They aren’t advancing the old, lame excuse that democracy is not compatible with Islam, however. Instead, as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic they’re saying that absolute monarchy is our preferred form of government.

More about Jamal Khashoggi
Opinion | Nicholas Kristof: More Insulting Lies From Saudi Arabia

Opinion | The Editorial Board: Trump Says Jamal Khashoggi Is Dead. What Next?

Opinion | Hatice Cengiz: My Fiancé Jamal Khashoggi Was a Lonely Patriot

Indeed, we are living in the age of authoritarianism. Some people believe that it is a better form of political rule. They argue that societies need a great leader and that democracy will undermine the ability of the great leader to guide his people to a better future.

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Today around a dinner table in Riyadh, Cairo or Amman, you are likely to hear intellectuals who were once considered liberals, who once supported liberty, political change and democracy, say, “Arabs are not ready for democracy.” If you push back against this argument, you would be told: “Even if Arabs are ready for democracy, they don’t know how to take advantage of it. They always make the wrong choice.”

A related argument is, “The Islamist and the Muslim Brotherhood have kidnapped the Arab Spring.” In my country, a variant of this argument is: “The Saudis don’t know how to choose. If we have democracy, they will not vote out of their conscience, they will vote based on their tribal loyalties.”

A popular argument in the Arab world is that we need a strong leader. You can hear it in Egypt from an Egyptian businessman who supports the ruling regime. You can hear it from a doubtful Jordanian, maybe even a doubtful Tunisian who seeks a return to the old order.

A Saudi friend of mine who was raised abroad openly defends the term “benevolent autocracy.” He is prepared to write about the value of benevolent autocracy in an American newspaper and thinks it is the best choice for Saudi Arabia.

It is the old notion of the “mustabidu al-adl,” or the just dictator, that died with the rise of Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi, a late-19th-century Arab-Muslim reformist of Syrian origin. The Arab and Muslim intellectuals who followed Kawakibi supported democracy or at least some variant of it.

Regrettably, though, the idea of the benevolent autocrat, the just dictator, is being revived in the Arab world. A chorus of anti-democratic Arab and non-Arab voices are using the media and the lobbyists to oppose democracy. I’m told that at the Riyadh International Book Fair in March, which I was not able to attend, one of the books on display was called “Against the Arab Spring.”

Democracy in the Arab world is also under attack from radical Islamists who are making a comeback as the so-called Islamic State or as the Salafis fighting in Libya alongside Khalifa Hifter (who was a general in Muammar Gaddafi’s army and is now backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt). They preach against democracy in the mosques — and through acts of violence.

We must reassure people in the Arab world who either have lost hope in democracy because of its perceived failures or because they fell victim to the concentrated propaganda about democracy coming from television networks run by states and the intellectuals aligned with them.

When I use the term “democracy” I mean it in the broader sense of the term that overlaps with values such as liberty, checks and balances, accountability and transparency. We were aiming for these goals in the form of good governance, equality, and justice in the Arab world. There is another reason we need democracy now in the Arab world: to stop mass violence.

Today, there are two kinds of Arab countries. Some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Morocco, need democracy for good governance and the checks and balances it brings.

But for war-torn countries like Libya, Syria and Yemen, democracy would lead to some form of power sharing. It can be along the lines of the Afghanistan arrangement, where you bring all of the factions in one huge room and force them into an agreement on how to share power. The chief reason the wars in these countries are continuing is the lack of a mechanism for power sharing.

The immediate need for Libya, Syria and Yemen is not good governance, but a mechanism to stop the killing. Inevitably, the question of good governance will emerge. There is great hope for democracy in other countries that have not been mired in civil or internal conflict, such as Tunisia, which is struggling toward a lasting democratic system.

Many of my Tunisian friends, despite the progress they have made, are also worried about democracy. They do not want to appear to be preaching to the rest of the Arab world. They simply want to be left alone. Yet I still think that Tunisians have an important responsibility.

News channels that are supportive of freedom and political change in the Middle East should spend a considerable amount of time covering even municipal elections in Tunisia. Every Saudi, every Egyptian and every Syrian should see what the Tunisians are enjoying. I hope it will inspire the rest of the Arab world to work for a similar form of government for themselves.

We need to defend the rights of the Arab people to have democracy in our own countries, in our own localities, but at the same time we must speak to foreign leaders, foreign powers and foreign parliamentarians. They have a role to play and many of them have begun to lose hope in the prospects of Arab democracy.

Some of them are now repeating the old racist statement, “Arabs are not ready for democracy [because they are Arabs].” The Trump administration has zero interest in supporting democracy in the Arab world. Even the French president, Emmanuel Macron, has suggested that there will be little political change in Egypt or in Saudi Arabia.

People are losing hope in democracy because of the failure of the Arab Spring revolts. They’re afraid of ending up like Syria. Many Arab regimes, their television networks, their writers, their commentators, are trying to scare people off democracy by actively promoting this idea.

Both Arab citizens and foreign leaders are affected by the limited reforms that Arab leaders are pursuing. In Saudi Arabia there are serious reforms that Prince Mohammed is leading. Many of my Saudi colleagues are saying I should support them. I do support them.

My position is that we should take what we have and build on it.

When Mr. Macron stood next to Prince Mohammed, he made this point and he was correct to do so. We need to support the crown prince in his effort to reform Saudi Arabia because if we let him down, he will come under pressure from radical elements who are not willing to reform.

These limited reforms and the general political condition of the Arab world today are adding strength to the argument of the anti-democracy forces. This unfortunate reality puts more responsibility on our shoulders to resume our work and to redouble our efforts to push for democracy in the Arab world as a realistic choice for people and a solution to the failure of many Arab states.

Jamal Khashoggi was a Washington Post Global Opinions contributing columnist.

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