Senator Corker mocks White House as ‘public relations firm’ for Saudi Crown Prince

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HILL NEWS)

 

Corker mocks White House as ‘public relations firm’ for Saudi crown prince

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Tuesday criticized the White House for acting like a “public relations firm” for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman after President Trump issued a statement defending U.S.-Saudi relations.

“I never thought I’d see the day a White House would moonlight as a public relations firm for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” Corker wrote in a retweet of Trump’s statement questioning whether the crown prince was responsible for the death of U.S.-based dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Corker, who is set to retire as chairman of the Foreign Relations panel at the end of the year, recently criticized the White House for not sharing intelligence about the details of Khashoggi’s murder. He was killed last month by a team of Saudi agents after entering the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

The CIA recently concluded that Prince Mohammad was involved in the plan to kill Khashoggi based on an intercepted phone call and other evidence, according to multiple reports.

Trump, however, on Tuesday noted that King Salman and the crown prince have vigorously denied any knowledge of the planning or execution of Khashoggi’s murder.

“Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump said in his statement.

Corker was the third prominent Senate Republican to criticize Trump’s statement on Tuesday.

He called earlier this month for sanctions against Saudi Arabia that went beyond the punishments the Trump administration has leveled against the 17 Saudi agents found to be directly involved in Khashoggi’s murder.

Corker praised those individual sanctions as “a significant step in that process that hopefully will involve additional action as well.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Senate’s State Department and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, earlier on Tuesday issued a statement warning Trump not to look past Saudi Arabia’s behavior.

“It is not in our national security interests to look the other way when it comes to the brutal murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi,” Graham said in a statement released late Tuesday afternoon.

Graham argued Tuesday that the Senate should act by voting on sanctions legislation.

“I firmly believe there will be strong bipartisan support for serious sanctions against Saudi Arabia, including appropriate members of the royal family, for this barbaric act which defied all civilized norms,” he said in his statement.

“While Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally, the behavior of the Crown Prince — in multiple ways — has shown disrespect for the relationship and made him, in my view, beyond toxic,” he added.

Graham is one of several Republican cosponsors of the Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act, which would suspend weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, prohibit U.S. planes from refueling Saudi coalition aircraft involved in the civil war in Yemen, and require a report on human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia.

The other GOP cosponsors are Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Todd Young (R-Ind.), members of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), another member of the Foreign Relations Committee, earlier on Tuesday criticized Trump’s statement as promoting a “Saudi Arabia First” policy instead of an “America First” doctrine, as the president claimed.

Paul has called for a vote on legislation blocking an arms sale to Saudi Arabia that Trump has valued at $110 billion.

 

Trump indicates he trusts Saudi crown prince’s

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

Trump indicates he trusts Saudi crown prince’s Khashoggi denials over his own intelligence agency

The president puts blind faith in dictators twice in one Fox News interview.

Fox News screengrab

Time and time again, President Donald Trump seems to side with dictators over his own intelligence community. Take the case of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, with the two most recent examples occurring during a Fox News interview that aired on Sunday.

The New York Times reported on Friday that the CIA has concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman directly ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last month.

Although the State Department subsequently released a statement trying to tamp down on the Times’s reporting, the CIA’s reported conclusion serves as the latest, strongest evidence that the crown prince lied to Trump when he repeatedly denied involvement in Khashoggi’s death.

During an interview with Fox News that aired on Sunday, however, Trump indicated he doesn’t necessarily trust his intelligence community over the crown prince’s denials.

Asked by host Chris Wallace if he thinks the crown prince lied to him, Trump suggested nobody can really be sure about anything.

“I don’t know, you know, who can really know?” Trump said. “But I can say this — he’s got many people now that say he had no knowledge.”

Wallace interjected to press Trump, saying, “what if the crown prince, speaking to you, the president of the United States, directly lied to you?” But Trump indicated he’s not particularly bothered by that possibility.

“Well, he told me that he had nothing to do with it,” Trump continued. “He told me that I would say maybe five times at different points, as recently as a few days ago. … Will anybody really know? Will anybody really know?”

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Aaron Rupar

@atrupar

Trump says he “doesn’t want to hear the tape” of Khasoggi’s murder b/c “it’s a suffering tape. It’s a terrible tape. I’ve been fully briefed on it”

He adds he’s not sure if Mohammed bin Salman lied to him because “he told me he had nothing to do w/it…will anybody really know?”

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Trump’s comments about the crown prince weren’t the only time during the Fox News interview that he indicated he’s putting blind faith in a dictator.

The president responded to reports North Korea is expanding its missile program by telling Wallace, “Maybe they are, maybe they’re not. I don’t believe that. Could be.” Moments earlier, Trump touted his “very good relationship” with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Embedded video

Aaron Rupar

@atrupar

TRUMP ON HIS DECISION-MAKING PROCESS: “I don’t think about it. I don’t think about how I make ’em. I make what I consider to be the right decision.”

TRUMP ON REPORTS NORTH KOREA IS EXPANDING NUCLEAR PROGRAM: “Maybe they are, maybe they’re not. I don’t believe that. Could be.”

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Trump’s deference to Kim and the crown prince is reminiscent of the deference he’s shown Russian President Vladimir Putin, who denies meddling in the 2016 American presidential election despite the US intelligence community concluding otherwise.

During his joint news conference with Putin in Helsinki in July, Trump drew an equivalence between Putin’s denials and the work of his own intelligence agencies.

“My people came to me, [Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats came to me and some others they said they think it’s Russia,” Trump said. “I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

Trump’s antipathy to the intelligence community dates back at least to early 2017, when top intelligence officials went public with their conclusion that Russia meddled in the presidential election on Trump’s behalf. The then-president-elect responded to that development by comparing the intelligence community’s tactics to those used by “Nazi Germany.”

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.

Saudi Arabia: Killing Jamal Khashoggi Was A Saudi Warning Shot

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Killing Jamal Khashoggi Was A Saudi Warning Shot

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Long before Jamal Khashoggi disappeared, Saudi Arabia had a history of cracking down on dissidents. Little tolerance exists inside the kingdom for activism and dissent. Even abroad, critics have not been safe: Saudi princes critical of the regime have gone missing while living in Europe.

But Khashoggi was not an ordinary dissident. He had started an advocacy group called Democracy for the Arab World Now, which aimed to bring together reformer intellectuals and political Islamist in pursuit of building democracy in the Arab world. Khashoggi also had links to Muslim Brotherhood, a transnational Islamist movement that has had tremendous influence in the region but one that Saudi Arabia regards as a regional threat and terrorist organization.

His political engagement had become especially alarming for Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, given Khashoggi’s once very close relations to the royal family and his in-depth knowledge of issues and networks within the kingdom. Khashoggi had become a “dissident” only recently, but he did so with a level of ambition that triggered Mohammed bin Salman insecurity. The crown prince, known as MBS, tried and failed to bring Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from the U.S. Khashoggi expressed his distrust of the Saudi authorities, and continued his activism.

Khashoggi had become a ‘dissident’ only recently, but he did so with a level of ambition that triggered Mohammed bin Salman’s insecurity.

So the crown prince, it seems, had him tortured and killed. The message was clear: Anyone who challenges the Saudi regime and tries to create alternatives to the current Saudi rule will be punished in the harshest way possible. It is a stark warning to dissident members of the Saudi diaspora and their supporters.

The Khashoggi incident is not only a matter of human rights or suppressing dissidents. It’s a sign how personally MBS took Khashoggi’s political conversion. That the incident happened at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul shows that MBS was not afraid of any major repercussions when delivering his message. The Saudi ruling elite surely has the means to have a dissident killed in an “accident” that would be difficult to officially trace. The crown prince chose a different, more frightening route.

The brazen nature of the kidnapping and murder seems to have surprised many in U.S. and international policy circles. But Saudi authorities had good reason to believe that they could get away with kidnapping and killing one of their own citizens.

Russia’s 2016 assassination of Alexander Litvinenko in London, as well as its attempted poisoning of Sergei Skripal, showed how a country can deal with its “traitors” abroad. The exiled brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was killed in Malaysia with VX nerve agent, which is classified as a weapon of mass destruction. Despite the clear Pyongyang link to this murder, President Donald Trump was shaking hands with Kim within a matter of months.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been widely criticized for his friendly demeanor in public as he met with Saudi Crown

LEAH MILLIS VIA GETTY IMAGES
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been widely criticized for his friendly demeanor in public as he met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman earlier this week to gather information about the apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Despite all the attention and the possibility of rising tensions in the next couple of months, the Khashoggi incident is not likely to change any major power dynamics or relation between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia in long-term. When the details of the incident first emerged, the Saudi disregard for international civility and norms did not seem to bother Trump, who stated that Saudis are “spending $110 billion on military equipment and on things that create jobs for this country” ― referring to a proposed arms deal that has yet to take full effect.

He also seemed to shrug off whatever happened in the Saudi consulate by saying “This took place in Turkey and to the best of our knowledge Khashoggi is not a United States citizen.”

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There is no doubt that MBS counted on Trump’s emphasis on deals and money, as well as the president’s disdain for the press and his closer relations with autocratic countries like Russia and North Korea when compared to the policies of the former administrations.

MBS also has close ties to Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. Kushner facilitated the $110 billion Saudi-U.S. military deal and foresees a key role for Saudi Arabia in the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan he envisions. The crown prince also knows that Saudi oil exports are critical to the global economy and Saudi cooperation is still a key milestone in the U.S. administration’s Middle East policy. All this makes him feel he can act with impunity.

The U.S. partnership with Saudi Arabia is not based on values, but on interests. After the outrage from U.S. business and political circles over Khashoggi’s apparent murder, especially from some within his own party, Trump transitioned from his “this is not our business” response to “not good if they really did it.”

Trump spoke to the Saudi King, and upon the King’s denial of any Saudi involvement in the Khashoggi incident, Trump said it was possible “rogue killers” might have murdered Khashoggi. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also sent to meet with the Saudi King and MBS. According to the State Department website, the discussions covered bilateral and regional issues, and Pompeo “thanked the King for his commitment to supporting a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation of Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.”

In short, the president and the secretary of state sound ready to accept the narrative Saudi officials will provide them.

There is no doubt that MBS counted on Trump’s emphasis on deals and money, as well as the president’s disdain for the press.

True, the Saudi ruling elite underestimated the extent of Turkish surveillance of the consulate in Istanbul, and it didn’t seem to have predicted the immediate negative reaction to the Khashoggi incident in U.S. business and policy circles. But Saudi authorities likely will continue to focus on doing just enough to appease the U.S. administration in answering questions about what happened to the journalist. The Saudis can be expected to claim that MBS had no knowledge of the apparent murder, and down the road they may even pretend to punish those they say were involved.

With the Khashoggi incident, MBS was just testing the boundaries of diplomatic impunity in a world where the standards for diplomatic civility are on a fast decline. It is no secret that he wants to control and subdue the Saudi diaspora, and any political movement that can challenge his legitimacy.

Given the backlash from the business world ― which probably will intensify as gruesome details of the violence inflicted on Khashoggi trickle to the press ― MBS will likely be more cautious, at least in short-term.

In long-term, though, businesses and policymakers will need to signal consistently ― in public and in private ― that, despite the potential damage that sanctions on Saudi Arabia might do to the global economy, there are values that the international community is not ready to sacrifice. The challenge for the international community is to decide what those values are.

Nukhet A. Sandal is the director of global studies at the Center for International Studies and associate professor of political science at Ohio University. She is the author of Religious Leaders and Conflict Transformation.

Why Palestinians care what Donald Trump thinks about Jerusalem

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Why Palestinians care what Donald Trump thinks about Jerusalem

Israelis appreciated but mostly shrugged at last month’s US Embassy move, but Palestinians exploded in fury. The gap reveals much about their predicament

Palestinians prepare to set fire to an Israeli flag and portraits of US President Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a protest at the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip, April 13, 2018. (AFP/Thomas Coex)

Palestinians prepare to set fire to an Israeli flag and portraits of US President Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a protest at the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip, April 13, 2018. (AFP/Thomas Coex)

The US Embassy has moved. With the exception of the effect the move purportedly had on the ailing health of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and acknowledging Palestinian claims that the violence on the Gaza border was mostly due to the American recognition of Jerusalem, or at least its western half, as Israel’s capital, this latest round of Jewish-Arab scuffling seems to have died down.

That doesn’t mean Israeli-Palestinian tensions have decreased, of course. A confluence of powerful moments on the Palestinian calendar — the embassy move on May 14; the recurring Gaza protests launched by Hamas from March 30 until mid-May; Nakba Day on May 15, mourning the displacement of the Palestinians upon Israel’s founding; the May 17 start of the holy month of Ramadan; and even the upcoming Naksa Day on June 5, which mourns the Israeli victory in the 1967 Six Day War — coupled with Hamas’s fraught political position in Gaza have all pushed the sides to new rounds of violence, and may do so again at any time.

But it wasn’t just the calendar. Israelis and Palestinians remain strangers to each other despite living such close and intertwined lives. Each has only a sketchy, piecemeal grasp of what motivates and frightens the other across the ethnic and religious divide.

This gap in comprehension was the reason many Israelis were surprised by the frantic Palestinian response to the American embassy’s opening in Jerusalem. Most Israeli Jews certainly appreciated the gesture, but did not seem to take part in the gushing platitudes of politicians about its unique strategic or “historic” significance.

The Palestinians disagreed. Political factions vied with one another in their expressions of rage over the American move. The Palestinian Authority declared a school strikeurged mass protests across the West Bank and Gaza, cut direct talks with the Trump administration and announced the US had forsaken its role as a peace broker in the region. Protests mounted in the West Bank and Hamas announced its seven-week-long campaign of border rallies in Gaza.

In the process, Palestinian rhetoric shed light on how they view their strategic position, and how their current strategy is failing them.

The Palestinian resort to internationalizing the conflict — the appeal to international institutions, the BDS campaign, and the like — is rooted in the deepest anxieties of Palestinian nationalism. The only real alternative to internationalization (besides terrorism, of course, which vanishingly few Palestinians still view as a winning strategy) is to meaningfully engage with Israel and Israelis, a step too ideologically and politically painful for any major Palestinian faction to contemplate seriously. (Some factions will agree to negotiate with Israeli officials; none with any following will agree to push for engagement or coexistence with Israeli Jewish society.)

Then, too, there is the fact that the appeal to the world’s conscience fits the Palestinian meta-narrative of dispossession. In the telling of the Palestinian national movement, the injustice of Palestinian displacement is larger than the narrow question of Palestinian suffering; it violates history’s deepest logic and purpose, its moral arc. A strategy premised on the existence and political potency of an amorphous moral conscience capable of mobilizing a broader humanity to act in the Palestinians’ favor validates this narrative of lost-but-inevitably-to-be-reclaimed justice. It makes the insistence that an idealized pre-Israeli condition can yet be restored a little less ludicrous and a little more believable.

There is a risk, however, to this reliance on the world’s moral emotions. An indelicate framing of the question might be: What if the international community does not in any meaningful sense exist? What if there are very few nations (even among Arab states) that would risk hard interests in the name of an idealistic call for justice, especially when that call is so hard to apply to the messy conditions of this conflict? Even the Palestinians’ most vocal allies — Turkey, for example — see in the Palestinian cause not a fight for the well-being of Palestinians, but a politically convenient battlefield on which to pursue their own broader ideological battle over the future of Islam and their place in global affairs. It doesn’t help, of course, that the half of Palestinian politics represented by Hamas actively pursues a politics of violence that makes it all the harder for foreign players to act in defense of the Palestinians.

As they discovered yet again with the US Embassy’s move to Jerusalem on May 14, there are costs to the overreliance on the politics of foreign nations: it leaves you vulnerable when those politics change.

Lacking any other strategic horizon, it’s no wonder Palestine’s cause seemed to many Palestinians to be dramatically set back by the election of a populist American right-winger as president.

The point here is not to argue that Trump is actually bad for the Palestinians, at least in the sense that another American president might be better. It’s arguable that a Hillary Clinton presidency, or even a Bernie Sanders one and its undoubted sympathy for the Palestinians, would not really tilt events very much in the Palestinians’ direction. Palestine’s troubles run deep, and Palestinian leaders have a long history of squandering foreign sympathy. The point here is only to say that many Palestinians believe their cause has been dramatically set back by Trump’s rise.

And so Palestinians exploded over Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, which suddenly and viscerally clarified the extent to which their long-established strategic truths offer exceedingly few good answers in this ever-changing world.

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Saudi Arabia’s crown prince calls Iran’s supreme leader ‘new Hitler’ of the Middle East

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince calls Iran’s supreme leader ‘new Hitler’ of the Middle East

Amid his sweeping cultural reforms and systematic purges from the royal family, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince this week called Iran’s supreme leader the “new Hitler of the Middle East,” comments that are sure to ratchet up the conflict between the two rival Muslim powers.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made the statements about Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in an interview with The New York Times that was published Thursday. Salman told The Times that Iran’s efforts to expand “needed to be confronted.”

The prince, 32, who is expected to succeed his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, 81, compared Iran and Saudi Arabia’s power struggle in the region to those fighting for Europe in World War II.

“But we learned from Europe that appeasement doesn’t work. We don’t want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Middle East,” Salman told The New York Times.

RETURNING PM ATTENDS LEBANON’S MILITARY PARADE

The Islamic Republic and Saudi Arabia support rival sides in the various wars and political battles occurring throughout the region. Saudi Arabia backs Sunni Muslims while Tehran backs Shiite Muslims.

Tensions between the two countries escalated earlier this month when Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced in Saudi Arabia that he was resigning from his position. Hariri accused Iran-backed Hezbollah, a Shiite political party and terror group based in Lebanon, of holding his country hostage and plotting against him. Saudi Arabia has also accused Hezbollah of meddling on Iran’s behalf in regional affairs.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks during a regional banking conference, in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. Hariri told the conference that the country's stability is his primary concern. The remarks, a day after Hariri suspended his resignation, sought to assure the Hariri's government would keep up the effort to have Lebanon remain a top Mideast destination for finance. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said earlier this month he was resigning from his position.  (AP)

Hezbollah, however, accused Saudi Arabia of engineering Hariri’s resignation, calling it “an act of war,” Reuters reported.

Hariri returned to Lebanon this week and said he was putting his resignation on hold.

 

UN CHIEF NUKE INSPECTOR: IRAN COMPLYING WITH NUCLEAR DEAL

Salman also told The New York Times the war in Yemen was “going in its favor.” The war, which has raged since 2015, has pitted a Saudi-led coalition backed by the U.S. against the Houthi rebels and forces loyal to Yemen’s ousted president. The war has left over 10,000 people dead, driven 3 million from their homes and destroyed the country’s already fragile infrastructure.

Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of sending aid to the Houthi rebels in Yemen while Tehran has denied the accusations, the BBC reported.

Iran did not immediately responded to Salman’s comments but Khamenei has previously called Saudi Arabia’s royal family, the House of Saud, an “accursed tree” and accused the kingdom of “spreading terrorism.”

A November crackdown saw the arrests of 11 members of the House of Saud on various charges related to “corruption.” In the midst of the arrests and constant countering of Iran, Saudi Arabia has also worked to institute reforms such as allowing women to drive vehicles in the Kingdom.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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