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Be Skeptical Whenever The Political/Media Class Converges On A Single Narrative

Be Skeptical Whenever The Political/Media Class Converges On A Single Narrative

The Trump administration has ended its weeks-long silence on the disappearance of the Saudi Arabian Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Following a briefing from Secretary of State Pompeo who has just returned from a visit to Riyadh and Ankara, the president has said that contrary to some hopeful speculation that had emerged early on after his disappearance, Khashoggi does indeed appear to have been killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. If it is determined that the Saudis were responsible, Trump warned that there will be “very severe” consequences. Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin has announced that he will not be attending the Future Investment Initiative summit in Riyadh next week.

I’ve been following this story with some interest, but I haven’t been writing about it until now. This is one of those rare stories that has drawn the focus of both mainstream and alternative media, the latter because it’s seen as an opportunity to criticize the west’s extremely immoral involvement in the depraved activities of a murderous theocracy, and because it’s an opportunity to attack the hypocrisy of the establishment in decrying the murder of a single man while ignoring Saudi Arabia’s far more unconscionable behavior like its war crimes in Yemen and facilitation of bloodshed in Syria. Killing one man is very, very far from the top of the list of the most horrific things Saudi Arabia has done; criticizing them for that is like criticizing Henry Kissinger for not tipping well at restaurants.

The dominant anti-establishment criticism of the mainstream coverage of this story has been that they’re only upset at the Saudi royals now because their bloodshed finally touched a member of the political/media class, who are meant to be untouchable. And hey, that could be it, who knows.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Opportunities Abound After Khashoggi-Gate

Opportunities Abound After Khashoggi-Gate

Opportunities Abound After Khashoggi-Gate

Every crisis is also an opportunity.  Don’t worry I’m not about to go all Rahm Emmanuel, Mr. Realpolitik, on you today.  The disappearance/death/dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi is both a crisis and an opportunity for the worst people in the world.

And all of them are seizing the day, as it were.

Frankly, most of it makes me sick to my stomach. Because where were these virtue-signaling champions of human rights like Jamie Dimon of J.P. Morgan or Lindsay Graham (R – AIPAC) for the past three years as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) prosecuted a starvation campaign in Yemen with U.S. complicity?

Does Lindsay not know that MbS is funding the U.S. occupation in eastern Syria he’s so in love with?

Now all of a sudden, every war-monger in Washington and Wall St. wants to cut ties with him because killing a political opponent is “beyond the pale?”  Even Christine LaGarde of the IMF will be a no-show at MbS’s big “Davos in the Desert” conference.

This is a political hit job.

If this faux outrage wasn’t so transparent it would be pathetic.  On second thought, it is pathetic.

The truth is MbS is a monster.  But, he’s our monster, unfortunately.  We’ve known this since the moment he entered the scene.

Since getting Trump’s stamp of approval in early 2017 MbS has used that to go too far a number of times which the U.S. has had to clean up behind him.  His blockade of Qatar didn’t have Washington’s approval.

I’m sure killing Khashoggi in the Saudi Turkish consulate didn’t either.

His consolidation of power was swift and brutal.

It’s only just now dawning on American media companies that the Saudis are a bunch of brutal thugs that make the Lannisters look like Quakers?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

U.S-Saudi Clash Could Spell Disaster For OPEC

U.S-Saudi Clash Could Spell Disaster For OPEC

OPEC meeting

The Khashoggi case is far from over, as current harsh statements coming from Washington are showing.

Not only is there a long line of U.S. Senators calling for an in-depth investigation of the matter, some have even openly called for the removal of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin. Senior R-Senator Lindsay Graham, one of the staunchest supporters of US president Trump and Saudi Arabia, has broken ranks as he asked on US Fox-News to remove MBS from his position.

These moves from Washington are not only endangering the very strong ties between Washington and Riyadh, but also endanger the overall Middle East and internal stability of OPEC. The oil cartel, led by Saudi Arabia, is looking at a very stormy ride the next couple of months, while the U.S. is heading for another showdown in the Arab world.

The Khashoggi case has become a possible watershed in international relations. Statements made by US R-Senator Graham, already supported by other high-ranking U.S. officials, show that the position of Saudi Arabia as a strategic ally of Washington in the Middle East, and MBS in particular, is under severe pressure.

The public threat, made by Graham news channel Fox-News, to put strong sanctions on Saudi Arabia, if the Crown Prince is not being removed, is a first. Not even in the case of Iran, Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine or the ongoing disaster in Syria, an open call was made for regime change. If threats were made by U.S. government-linked senators, it always was directly linked to a strong opposition movement in that country, or being directed at an anti-U.S. government or entity.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Jamal Khashoggi: Where The Road to Damascus & The Path to 9/11 Converge

By Kristen Breitweiser, one of the four 9/11 widows – known as the “Jersey Girls” – instrumental in forcing the government to form the 9/11 Commission to investigate the 2001 attacks. Follow Kristen Breitweiser on Twitter: .

Road to Damascus Conversion: Derived from the Biblical story of Paul, the term “Damascus road conversion” is commonly used to refer to an abrupt about-face on a serious issue of religion, politics or philosophy. In this type of change, a single, dramatic event causes a person to become aligned with something he or she previously was against or support a position that he or she previously opposed. https://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-damascus-road-conversion.htm#didyouknowout

As a 9/11 widow who has spent the last 17 years fighting for accountability with regard to the 9/11 attacks that killed my husband and 3,000 others, I find the recent uproar over Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder interesting and out of character for many of those decrying his disappearance and demanding an investigation and accountability.

Frankly, 9/11 Family members keep a running list of all those in Washington who have proved by their past actions to be against U.S. victims of terrorism and in support of nations like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a nation with a long history of supporting global Wahhabist terrorism. As victims of terrorism, we are ever vigilant and watchful about all those named on our lists. We follow these folks actions, their speeches, their legislation, because we know that they are never looking out for our best interests as U.S. victims of terrorism. As a group, our institutional memory is broad and long. And we never forget.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Does Saudi Arabia Own Donald Trump?

DOES SAUDI ARABIA OWN DONALD TRUMP?

ON TUESDAY MORNING, President Donald Trump tweeted: “For the record, I have no financial interests in Saudi Arabia (or Russia, for that matter). Any suggestion that I have is just more FAKE NEWS (of which there is plenty)!”


For the record, I have no financial interests in Saudi Arabia (or Russia, for that matter). Any suggestion that I have is just more FAKE NEWS (of which there is plenty)!


Is this yet another barefaced lie from the commander-in-chief?

In this video essay, I examine Trump’s long history of doing deals with Saudi royals and look back at how the former reality TV star even bragged about his financial ties to the kingdom during the election campaign. I also highlight the controversial payments made by the Saudi government to Trump-owned properties since the Republican businessman entered the White House.

With the president refusing to take a strong stance against the Saudi government’s alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, I ask: “Does Saudi Arabia own Donald Trump?”

Saudi Arabia Calls The End Of Russia’s Oil Prowess

Saudi Arabia Calls The End Of Russia’s Oil Prowess

Putin MBS

Saudi Arabia has not only called the end of Russia’s prominence as a global oil behemoth, but anticipates that Russia’s oil exports “will have declined heavily if not disappeared” within the next 19 years, Mohammed bin Salman said in a recent interview with Bloomberg.

When asked whether Russia and Saudi Arabia had made a backroom deal to increase oil production, MbS was more tight-lipped, saying only that Saudi Arabia was “ready to supply any demand and any disappearing from Iran.” With Russia out of the game, Saudi Arabia would have plenty of oil demand to service, according to MbS.

MbS did not comment on his rationale for Russia’s exit as a major oil producer.

Russia’s oil production in August of 11.21 million barrels per day, near the post-Soviet era high reached the month prior to signing the OPEC+ deal that curbed its production. The 11.21 million barrels places the country in second place of the most prolific oil producers in the world, behind the United States, who overtook both Saudi Arabia and Russia earlier this year, according to EIA data as cited by CNN.

While America managed to rise from its third place seating in 2018, it did so unencumbered by the production-curbing agreement that both Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed to. Gazpromneft earlier today said it was no longer restricting its oil output, although it doubtful that either Russia or Saudi Arabia can reclaim their top spots.

Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront of oil news in recent weeks—almost neck and neck with Iran—as traders try to anticipate just how much spare oil production capacity Saudi Arabia has—if any—and if that spare capacity, whether it’s zero or a million barrels per day, will be sufficient to offset any losses sustained from Iran and Venezuela.

The Implications Of A Fractured U.S., Saudi Alliance

The Implications Of A Fractured U.S., Saudi Alliance

oil tanker

After the resurgence of the U.S. oil industry in recent years due to hydraulic fracking and the shale oil revolution, most thought the days of Middle Eastern oil producers, Saudi Arabia in particular, being able to threaten use of the so-called oil weapon as geopolitical leverage or even coercion were over. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Even though the U.S. is pumping oil at record levels, hitting 11 million barrels of oil per day, a rate that should have negated such a threat from ever resurfacing, it seems that Washington has also arguably shot global oil markets in the foot by re-imposing economic sanctions against Iran, with more sanctions slated to hit the Islamic Republic’s energy sector in just a matter of weeks.

The loss of Iranian barrels from global oil markets has already pushed prices well past $80 per barrel recently, and prices could break into the $90 plus range after November. Added to the fray are long term production problems in major OPEC producers Venezuela, Nigeria and Libya – in effect offsetting the ramp-up in U.S. production and the ability for shale producers to play the coveted role of oil markets swing producer. Now Saudi Arabia has taken at least marginal control of oil markets back again – not a comforting prospect for many.

Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it would retaliate against any punitive measures from the U.S. linked to the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi with even “stronger ones.”  In what Bloomberg News called an implicit reference to the kingdom’s petroleum wealth, the Saudi statement noted the Saudi economy “has an influential and vital role in the global economy.”

1973 oil embargo remembered

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Saudi Arabia Considers Itself Untouchable Due to Oil and Money

Saudi Arabia Considers Itself Untouchable Due to Oil and Money

The roots of that lobby’s rise to prominence in Washington lie in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. As you may remember, with 15 of those 19 suicidal hijackers being citizens of Saudi Arabia, it was hardly surprising that American public opinion had soured on the Kingdom. In response, the worried Saudi royals spent around $100 million over the next decade to improve such public perceptions and retain their influence in the U.S. capital. That lobbying facelift proved a success until, in 2015, relations soured with the Obama administration over the Iran nuclear deal. Once Donald Trump won the presidency, however, the Saudis saw an unparalleled opportunity and launched the equivalent of a full-court press, an aggressive campaign to woo the newly elected president and the Republican-led Congress, which, of course, cost real money.

As a result, the growth of Saudi lobbying operations would prove extraordinary. In 2016, according to FARA records, they reported spending just under $10 million on lobbying firms; in 2017, that number had nearly tripled to $27.3 million. And that’s just a baseline figure for a far larger operation to buy influence in Washington, since it doesn’t include considerable sums given to elite universities or think tanks like the Arab Gulf States Institute, the Middle East Institute, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (to mention just a few of them).

– From the must read piece: The Saudi Lobby Juggernaut

It appears Saudi Arabia’s preparing to spin a tale about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi for the purpose of providing Donald Trump with cover to pretend nothing happened and get back to business as usual. Apparently, the Saudis plan to claim he was killed by rogue agents in a botched interrogation. No word about why it took them two weeks to admit this, why they blatantly lied about him leaving consulate and whether or not the body was hacked into pieces with a bone saw.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Should US-Saudi Alliance be Saved?

Over the weekend Donald Trump warned of “severe punishment” if an investigation concludes that a Saudi hit team murdered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Riyadh then counter-threatened, reminding us that, as the world’s largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia “plays an impactful and active role in the global economy.”

Message: Sanction us, and we may just sanction you.

Some of us yet recall how President Nixon’s rescue of Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War triggered a Saudi oil embargo that led to months of long gas lines in the United States, and contributed to Nixon’s fall.

Yesterday, a week after Jared Kushner had been assured by his friend Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that Khashoggi walked out of the consulate, Trump put through a call to King Salman himself.

According to a Trump tweet, the king denied “any knowledge of whatever may have happened ‘to our Saudi Arabian citizen.’”

Trump said he was “immediately” sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Riyadh to meet with the king on the crisis. The confrontation is escalating. Crown Prince Mohammed and King Salman have both now put their nation’s honor and credibility on the line.

Both are saying that what the Turks claim they can prove — Khashoggi was tortured and murdered in the consulate, cut up, and his body parts flown to Saudi Arabia — is a lie.

For Trump and the U.S., this appears a classic case of the claims of international morality clashing with the claims of national interest.

The archetype occurred in the mid-1870s when Ottoman Turks perpetrated a slaughter of Bulgarian Christians under their rule.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Arabian Game of Thrones Heats Up

The Arabian Game of Thrones Heats Up

The Arabian Game of Thrones Heats Up

The reported torture, murder, and dismemberment of Washington-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate-general in Istanbul reminded the world that an intense power play is now taking place within the monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula and between them.

In November 2017, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) ordered the arrest and detention at the Riyadh Ritz Carlton Hotel of over 200 members of the Saudi royal family, including eleven rival princes, as well as government ministers and influential businessmen. That came after an October 2017 meeting in Riyadh between MBS and Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, conclave that lasted well into the early morning hours. At the meeting, Kushner is said to have turned over to MBS a list of the names of the Crown Prince’s opponents: leading figures of the Saudi royal house, government, and major businesses. The list may have also contained the name “Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi.”

The list of Saudi names was, reportedly, compiled by Kushner from top secret special code word documents he had specifically requested from the National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency. The documents were specifically requested by Kushner, not because he was an expert in communications intercepts, but because he likely had a control officer who told him what files to obtain. The Kushner family have longstanding ties to the Israeli Likud Party, as well as the Mossad intelligence service. The Mossad enjoys a close working relationship with the Saudi General Intelligence Directorate, which is now firmly committed to MBS after a previous purge of its upper ranks following MBS’s rise to the heir apparent position in the House of Saud.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Khashoggi Extortion Fiasco:

The Khashoggi Extortion Fiasco:

A mystifying diplomatic escalation ensued following the disappearance of Saudi Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, after visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Why would the United States of America make such a fuss over the disappearance of a non-American citizen? Why would America turn a blind eye to the Saudi killing of thousands of Yemeni civilians and the starving of millions others and then make “threats” against Saudi Arabia after one single Saudi journalist disappeared and has presumably been murdered by Saudi authorities?

And since when did Erdogan worry about human rights? After all, this is the same man whose army has committed countless atrocities against Syria and Turkish Kurds.

And the repercussions did not stop at the official level. Even Western business leaders are cancelling trade deals with Saudi Arabia and asking its government for explanations. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/business-leaders-cancel-saudi-events-ask-crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salman-for-info-on-jamal-khashoggi-disappearance/

Let us not forget that America does not only ignore the war on Yemen, but it also assists the Saudis and supplies them with arms and intelligence. What’s behind the sudden U-turn? Why would the President of the United States of America be personally involved in this? https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/10/11/donald-trump-demands-answers-saudi-arabia-missing-journalistjamalkhashoggi/

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia has a long history of persecuting dissidents and suppressing any opposition. So once again, why was Khashoggi singled out in this instance to become such a person of interest to the USA? His status as a journalist and columnist for Washington Post certainly does not answer this question.

And back to Erdogan, the man who reached the cliff-edge with America on a number of strategic and trade issues, why would he be concerned about the “murder” of a foreign journalist allegedly at the hand of his own government? According to the story, the “murder” was committed at the Saudi Consulate, and technically, Turkey has no jurisdiction within this diplomatic precinct albeit it is within Turkey.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

World’s “Worst Famine In 100 Years” Will Hit Yemen, U.N. Warns

For a Saudi and Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) update that’s not directly related to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a United Nations official on Sunday warned Yemen is now facing what could be “the worst famine in the world in 100 years” which is set to put “12-13 million innocent civilians at risk of starving,” according to the BBC.

Yemen’s war, which has involved intense Saudi-UAE-US coordinated airstrikes on civilian population centers going back to 2015 has been popularly dubbed “the forgotten war” due to its general absence from headlines and front page stories over the years.

As a few analysts and war reporters have pointed out in recent days, it took the murder of one Washington Post contributor who was one of the mainstream media’s own — for MbS to actually face any level of scrutiny, and yet the tens of thousands killed under Saudi coalition bombs is still largely taboo for the same mainstream to touch.

Saudi-led coalition airstrike on an arms depot in Sanaa in 2015. Image source: AFP

A top United Nations official who monitors Yemen, Lise Grande, told the BBC: “We predict that we could be looking at 12 to 13 million innocent civilians who are at risk of dying from the lack of food.”

She explained, “I think many of us felt as we went into the 21st century that is was unthinkable that we could see a famine like saw in Ethiopia, that we saw in Bengal, that we saw in parts of the Soviet Union, that was just unacceptable. Many of us had the confidence that that would never happen again and yet the reality is that in Yemen that is precisely what we are looking at.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Forget Oil, Here’s Saudi Arabia’s Other ‘Weapons’

There are not one, not two, but three ‘weapons’ on the “nuclear option” menu for Saudi Arabia to strike back at any US sanctions stemming from its alleged murder and dismemberment of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in what is now being reported as a “botched interrogation.”

The first is simple and well known – “oil” – cutting off its own supply “nose” to send prices to $100, $200, or $400 may end up spiting its own face however.

So let’s take a look at some other options.

The second, and relatively well known, potential course for retaliation is in its choice of who to buy its weapons from…

President Trump has so far stated his unwillingness to impose any kind of punishment on Saudi Arabia, and as Statista’s Martin Armstrong notes, this could be why – the U.S. is the world’s biggest exporter of arms and according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the biggest importer from the country in 2017 was Saudi Arabia.

Infographic: The USA's Biggest Arms Export Partners | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

This infographic uses the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s “trend-indicator values” (TIV). These are based on the known unit production costs of weapons and represent the transfer of military resources rather than the financial value of the transfer.

As Trump himself warned, there are plenty more “sellers” of deadly weapons in the world.

However, there is a third potentially most existentially challenging option that the Saudis could unleash would be ‘dumping its Treasury Holdings’.

Since the start of 2014, with only one small blip in 2014/15 as oil prices collapsed, the Saudis have been generous buyers of US Treasurys – recycling their petrodollars in this virtuous relationship…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Netanyahu Hopes To Bring U.S. Attention Back On Iran, Threatens “Action” In Syria

With the Jamal Khashoggi affair shaking up Saudi-Washington relations, and with multiple Gulf countries predictably coming out in support of Riyadh’s denials that it was behind the journalist’s disappearance and apparent murder, it will be interesting to see Israel’s stance on the issue.

We fully expect Israel to do all that it can to lobby Washington toward keeping its bulls-eye ever steadfast on Iran. Indeed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears already cognizant of Iran receding into the background of priorities for the West as the alleged gruesome death and dismemberment of Khashoggi at the hands of a Saudi hit team ordered by MbS takes center stage.

On Monday Netanyahu opened a parliamentary session at the Knesset by addressing his familiar theme of “Iranian expansion” in Syria, except that the timing is now more interesting given some of the public heat and attention has now been taken off Tehran for a time: “We must act against the Iranian regime in Syria,” Netanyahu said.

But crucially, he added a new theme — important in light of the past two weeks: “Because of the Iranian threat, Israel and other Arab countries are closer than they ever were before,” the prime minister said. This acknowledgement comes after years of Saudi Arabia joining in a covert partnership to topple the Syrian government — a project which has clearly failed.

And not only has it utterly failed, but Israel’s repeat air strikes on Syria (acknowledged recently by Israel’s military to be over 200 strikes in the past year alone), culminated in last month’s accidental downing of a Russian Ilyushin-20 reconnaissance plane with 15 crew members on board, resulting in the now accomplished transfer of the advanced S-300 anti-aircraft defense system to the Syrian government.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Saudi Media Casts Khashoffi Disappearance as a Conspiracy, Claims Qatar Owns Washington Post

TOPSHOT - Protestors hold pictures of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a demonstration in front of the Saudi Arabian consulate on October 8, 2018 in Istanbul. - Jamal Khashoggi, a veteran Saudi journalist who has been critical towards the Saudi government has gone missing after visiting the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, the Washington Post reported. Turkey has sought permission to search Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul after a prominent journalist from the kingdom went missing last week following a visit to the building, Turkish television reported on October 8. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

SAUDI MEDIA CASTS KHASHOGGI DISAPPEARANCE AS A CONSPIRACY, CLAIMS QATAR OWNS WASHINGTON POST

IN SAUDI ARABIA, major media outlets have cast the disappearance and apparent murder of Saudi dissident and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi as a foreign conspiracy to denigrate the image of the kingdom. The media accounts, which come from outlets run with the backing of Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf monarchies, are spinning the coverage of Khashoggi’s disappearance as a plot by rival governments and political groups to hurt the kingdom — going so far as to make false claims about the Washington Post’s owners.

The English-language arm of the news channel Al Arabiya, for instance, claimed that reports of Khashoggi’s detention inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul were pushed by “media outlets affiliated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar” — the pan-Arab Islamist political movement and rival Persian Gulf monarchy, respectively. A subsequent story on Al Arabiya casts doubt that Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, is truly who she says she is, claiming that her Twitter profile shows that she follows “critics of Saudi Arabia.”

Al Arabiya is owned by the Saudi royal family and based in Dubai, one of the Gulf monarchies that has sided closely with Saudi Arabia amid the regional row with Qatar and others. It’s among a handful of other Saudi- and Gulf-controlled outlets — such as Al Riyadh Daily, Al-Hayat, and the Saudi Gazette — that toe their governments’ line, including frequently casting a conspiratorial light on critics of the governments’ human rights records.

Saudi media outlets are kicking into overdrive to both deny any Saudi involvement and disparage Khashoggi.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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