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Saudi Arabia

LFC's Photo LFC 20 November 2018 - 04:40 PM

News about Trump covering for his buddy and business partners is flying out fast. First we have this. Not sure if it's verified but it sounds like the Trump administration.


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo personally delivered a roadmap to Saudi King Salman to help his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, insulate himself from the investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Trump administration official hand-delivered the plan last month in Riyadh, exactly two weeks after Khashoggi’s brutal murder Oct. 2 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, reported Middle East Eye.

A senior Saudi source told the website the plan includes an option to blame the Washington Post columnist’s killing on an innocent member of the ruling al-Saud family to shield the crown prince and others at the top.

But that person has not yet been chosen, and Saudi leaders are still holding back on much of the plan until the pressure on bin Salman becomes too much to bear.

The U.S. State Department denied the Saudi source’s claims, saying they were “a complete misrepresentation of the secretary’s diplomatic mission to Saudi Arabia.”

Trump is running cover ... as expected.


President Donald Trump offered a full throated embrace of the Saudi kingdom in a befuddling official statement on Tuesday that highlighted the importance of a $450 billion deal between the U.S. and the Saudis (which doesn’t officially exist yet) and oscillated on whether the Saudi king and crown prince were aware of the brutal murder of a Washington Post writer before it was carried out.

With a tone that indicates the statement was likely penned by Trump himself — complete with eight exclamation marks — Trump harped on the dangers of the world, justifying the Saudi assault of Yemen by bashing the Iranian government and its support of terror groups. Trump then jumped to the arms deal between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, which he has cited as justification for continued positive relations with the kingdom since before the U.S. knew Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi — who was a permanent resident of Virginia — was tortured, murdered and dismembered.

Trump then called the crimes against Khashoggi “terrible” as he laid out what actions the U.S. has taken to punish those who participated in the torture and murder — like sanctions against 17 Saudis — before appearing to side with Saudi officials who have tagged Khashoggi as an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. While Khashoggi was widely known as a Saudi dissident, he did not identify as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, though he did sympathize with and was friends with people who aligned with the movement, as the Brookings Institute pointed out.

In his statement, Trump was quick to clarify that Khashoggi’s political leanings did not impact his decision to bear hug the Saudis after the “unacceptable and horrible crime,” but as details of the murder unraveled in the media in recent weeks, Trump regularly raised Khashoggi’s immigration status while commenting on the writer’s death. Khashoggi was not a U.S. citizen, but was a permanent resident.

In public statements, Trump has suggested that it was crucial to know whether the Saudi king or crown prince were aware of plans to kidnap and murder the Washington Post writer, but he obliterated that notion in the statement.

“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!” he said.

Trump wasted no time on getting his apologetics out there.


CNN reporter Pamela Brown was “stunned” by President Donald Trump’s statement on Saudi Arabia’s murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in which the president essentially took the side of the Saudi royal family over the assessment of United States intelligence services.

“It is stunning on a number of levels,” said Brown, “particularly the fact that the president hasn’t even received the report from his intelligence community.” The CIA says Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered the murder of the Washington Post reporter.

baw1064's Photo baw1064 20 November 2018 - 04:45 PM

I'm surprised he hasn't blamed it on Hillary.

golden_valley's Photo golden_valley 20 November 2018 - 08:12 PM

Trump doesn't think he needs to blame anyone. Didn't he say he wants to protect the arms deal with the Saudis? He's protecting the business. In his mind that's all this is.

JackD's Photo JackD 20 November 2018 - 10:10 PM

The business is all there is and messing with the Crown Prince could interfere with that.

Traveler's Photo Traveler 21 November 2018 - 08:01 AM

There's billions and billions at stake! I saw him say it last night! What is the matter with you people?

LFC's Photo LFC 26 November 2018 - 01:59 PM

Oh, Jared.


The $110 billion arms deal touted by President Donald Trump as the basis for his strong ties to Saudi Arabia was inflated at the direction of his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Two U.S. officials and three former White House officials confirmed that Kushner had pushed the State Department and Defense Department to use figures that were aspirational but unlikely, reported ABC News.

Kushner, a White House senior adviser who is married to Ivanka Trump, reportedly hoped to score a victory for the president’s first foreign trip and symbolically ratify a new alliance with Saudi Arabia.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis supported his effort and endorsed the memorandum of intent, according to a former National Security Council official.

A defense strategy expert who has seen a copy said the letter of intent was “amateurish quality” and remarkably vague.

“It acknowledges it’s not binding,” said the expert, Michael O’Hanlon, of the Brookings Institute.

“It’s a multi-billion dollar transaction with three short lines of information as if that’s meaningful,” he added. “It’s like you’re taking notes on the back of a napkin over dinner. It’s not a contract. It’s the idea of putting all of these numbers in the interest for the biggest number you can find.”

pnwguy's Photo pnwguy 26 November 2018 - 03:55 PM

View PostLFC, on 26 November 2018 - 01:59 PM, said:

Let's hope the congressional committees in 2019 start releasing financial records on this part of the royal family as well. It's an entire den of thieves.

LFC's Photo LFC 03 December 2018 - 12:52 PM

Qatar quits OPEC over its relationship with Saudi Arabia.


The small, gas-rich state of Qatar said Monday that it will leave the OPEC oil cartel on Jan. 1 after nearly 60 years. The move comes amid a deteriorating political situation between Qatar and its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, which have imposed a trade and travel embargo on the country since June last year over allegations that Qatar supports terrorism. The nation’s state oil company, Qatar Petroleum, made the announcement in a series of tweets. “The withdrawal decision reflects Qatar’s desire to focus its efforts on plans to develop and increase its natural-gas production,” the country’s energy minister stated. Qatar is among the smallest oil producers in OPEC, but is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas. Qatar said it aimed to increase production from 77 million to 110 million tons each year.

pnwguy's Photo pnwguy 03 December 2018 - 05:02 PM

View PostLFC, on 03 December 2018 - 12:52 PM, said:

Qatar quits OPEC over its relationship with Saudi Arabia.
No wonder Putin was happy to high five MBS. Another victory for chaos.

But as a political force, OPEC doesn't have the influence it used to anyway, and it will likely shrink even more as the world finds the need to move away from carbon-based energy.

LFC's Photo LFC 05 December 2018 - 01:20 PM

While the majority of Congressional Republicans have made it clear that MSM ordered Khashoggi's murder there always have to be at least some whackadoodles because, well, because it's the Republican Party, home of the Fighting Whackadoodles! First up we have "deep state" Rand Paul who doesn't understand that the "deep state" he's referring to is actually Donald Trump who is preventing information from reaching Congress. I guess he hit his head pretty hard when his neighbor tackled him and it jarred something loose ... like the ability to think. (Of course I'm probably giving him way too much credit as ever having been able to think.)


Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Tuesday pointed to the “deep state” to explain why he and other senators have not yet seen the CIA’s conclusions about the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“To my mind, this is the very definition of the deep state,” Paul said in an interview on Fox News. “That the intelligence agencies do things, make conclusions, but then the elected officials are prevented from knowing about this.”

“If I’m not allowed to know about these conclusions, then I can’t have oversight,” he added, “then the deep state grows and has more and more power.”

CIA Director Gina Haspel is briefing some senators Tuesday on what her agency knows about Khashoggi’s death, after she was not included in an earlier briefing alongside Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo and Mattis have said there is no “direct evidence” or “smoking gun” linking Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Khashoggi’s murder. Paul said that was the “wrong question” to ask.

But to really see how awful they can be you have to read about this one. Murdering journalists? Meh, happens all the time. No concept of a journalist's murder being ordered by the head of a state vs. drug lords who don't like unfavorable coverage. Of course he is Republican so the two may look the same to him.


Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, argued Tuesday for maintaining a close diplomatic relationship with Saudi Arabia, despite the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, because “journalists disappear all over the country.”

“We have to have a relationship with some players that we don’t agree with,” Stewart told CNN’s Brianna Keilar. “Journalists disappear all over the country. Twenty journalists have been killed in Mexico. You don’t think it’s happened in Turkey and China? Of course it does, and yet we have to have a relationship with these individuals— or with these countries.”

LFC's Photo LFC 17 December 2018 - 12:24 PM

Looks like the Saudis know who matters in the GOP and it ain't Congress critters. Republican Senators just got put in their place.


Saudi Arabia issued an unusually strong rebuke of the U.S. Senate on Monday, rejecting a bipartisan resolution that put the blame for the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi squarely on the Saudi crown prince and describing it as interference in the kingdom’s affairs.

It’s the latest sign of how the relationship between the royal court and Congress has deteriorated, more than two months after Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by Saudi agents inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul. The assassins have been linked to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

U.S. Senators last Thursday passed the measure that blamed the prince for Khashoggi’s killing and called on Riyadh to “ensure appropriate accountability.”

Senators also passed a separate measure calling for the end of U.S. aid to the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

In a lengthy statement early Monday, Saudi Arabia said the Senate’s resolution “contained blatant interferences” in the kingdom’s internal affairs and undermines its regional and international role. The resolution was based on “unsubstantiated claims and allegations,” the statement also said.

“The kingdom categorically rejects any interference in its internal affairs, any and all accusations, in any manner, that disrespect its leadership … and any attempts to undermine its sovereignty or diminish its stature,” it said.

Such language is usually reserved for those who criticize the kingdom’s human rights record, such as Sweden in 2015 after the public flogging of a blogger, and Canada this year over the arrests of women’s rights activists.

LFC's Photo LFC 03 January 2019 - 03:26 PM

Apparently Saudi Arabia now has the power to censor Netflix.


Donald Trump and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) both hate being mocked by comedians. People like Trump and MBS want to be feared, not laughed at. The difference is MBS appears to be more effective than Trump at silencing comedians who take comedic aim at him. But what makes this so disturbing is that it’s an American company, Netflix, that helped MBS silence Muslim American comedian Hasan Minhaj.

There’s no dispute that Netflix pulled a recent episode of its comedic series Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj at the request of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A Netflix spokesperson told CNBC Wednesday morning: “We strongly support artistic freedom worldwide and only removed this episode in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal request—and to comply with local law.” (Netflix should have added “LOL” after its words that “we strongly support artistic freedom worldwide.”)

Reportedly, an official request was sent to Netflix from the Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission, claiming that this episode of the comedy show “allegedly violated anti-cybercrime law.”

So why would MBS and Saudi go to these lengths, even alleging a comedy show violated cybercrime laws, to silence Minhaj? After all, both have been subjected to a deluge of media criticism over the kingdom’s involvement in the killing of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Well, Minhaj’s attack was different for two reasons. First, it was comedy. And second, and likely more importantly, Minhaj is Muslim and made it clear on his show that, as a Muslim, he denounced what MBS and Saudi represent (the episode, at least for now, is still on YouTube).

Minhaj, a former correspondent for Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, began the episode by going after MBS by name, noting that for months the Western media had hailed MBS “as the reformer the Arab world needed.” The comedian explained that it “blows my mind” that it took the killing of Khashoggi for people in the West to finally come to the conclusion, “Oh, I guess he’s really not a reformer.” Minhaj then quipped, “Meanwhile, every Muslim person you know was like ‘yeah, no shit… he’s the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.’”

The 33-year-old comedian went on to declare, “Now would be a good time to reassess our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” adding, “and I mean that as a Muslim and as an American.” And later Minhaj again touched on his faith in slamming MBS and Saudi, explaining that “as Muslims, we have to pray towards to Mecca, we make pilgrimage to Mecca, we access God through Saudi Arabia… a country that I feel does not represent our values.” He also made a great point that as a fellow Muslim I couldn’t agree with more: “Saudi Arabia is only 2 percent of entire Muslim population, but when Saudi does something wrong, Muslims around the world have to live with the consequences.”

Minhaj also joked about Saudi’s strategic relationship with the United States since the days of FDR, despite the kingdom’s ties to terrorism against our nation: “America hates terrorists. Saudi Arabia gave them [the 9/11 hijackers] passports.” Minhaj then quipped, “Saudi Arabia is basically the boy-band manager of 9/11. They didn’t write the songs… but they helped get the group together.”

MBS and Saudi Arabia being criticized by the Western media is one thing. But having jokes told about them by a fellow Muslim was clearly too much. And keep in mind, while there’s a growing stand-up comedy scene in the Middle East, there’s no political comedy there like we have in the United States, where our elected officials are roasted daily. In fact, I have performed stand-up comedy across the Middle East in the past, including four shows in Saudi Arabia. Every show in the region has the same rules: No mocking the leader of the country you are in. Although things were somewhat different when I was in Lebanon, where the promoter told me: “Say whatever you want, but if you make fun of Hezbollah, you are on your own.”

Bact PhD's Photo Bact PhD 04 January 2019 - 09:45 AM

View PostLFC, on 03 January 2019 - 03:26 PM, said:

Short version: Don’t poke fun at the mobsters who own the nightclub where you’re performing.

LFC's Photo LFC 14 February 2019 - 01:41 PM

Here's an refreshingly honest opinion on Khashoggi's murder by somebody in Trump's orbit.


Trump confidante Tom Barrack defended the Saudi state murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a panel discussion Tuesday in Abu Dhabi, according to The Gulf News, an English language newspaper published in the United Arab Emirates.

Asked about Khashoggi’s murder, Barrack said “whatever happened in Saudi Arabia, the atrocities in America are equal, or worse …”

Barrack went on to argue that Western criticism of Khashoggi’s murder was part of a history of high-handed misunderstanding by the Western powers tracing back to the Sykes-Picot agreement, the secret protocol by which Britain and France agreed to carve up thee Arab Middle East in the aftermath of World War I.

“The atrocities in any autocratic country are dictated by the rule of law,” Gulf News reporter Ed Clowes quoted Barrack as saying. “So for us to dictate what we think is the moral code there, when we have a young man and regime that is trying to push themselves in to 2030, I think is a mistake.”

Barrack is a longtime friend and confidante of President Trump and played a key role both in his 2016 campaign and the Trump-Russia scandal that grew in its aftermath. It was Barrrack who helped usher Paul Manafort into the campaign in early 2016. Barrack was back in the news last week for his role as chairman of the Trump inaugural committee, which is now the subject of a federal probe.

Rich T Bikkies's Photo Rich T Bikkies 14 February 2019 - 02:10 PM

View PostLFC, on 14 February 2019 - 01:41 PM, said:

Honest, maybe, but refreshingly so? I didn't feel refreshed after reading it.

golden_valley's Photo golden_valley 14 February 2019 - 07:39 PM

View PostLFC, on 14 February 2019 - 01:41 PM, said:

He walked it back:


Barrack issued an apology on Wednesday, calling the Khashoggi killing "atrocious and inexcusable."

"I apologize for not making this clear in my comments earlier this week," he said in a statement, immediately adding, "I feel strongly that the bad acts of a few should not be interpreted as the failure of an entire sovereign kingdom."

He asserted that "rule of law and monarchies across the Middle East are confusing to the West" and that "support for change and rule of law is essential as the agony of great change take place."

He's still defending the Middle East (Saudi Arabia really).

LFC's Photo LFC 19 February 2019 - 02:16 PM

Uuuuuh, why didn't Republicans launch this investigation? (Yes, of course that was rhetorical.) After 9/11 and from what we know of Saudi state sponsorship of terrorism all over the place it seems like it might be a kinda' important thing to know about it.


House Democrats announced Tuesday that they are opening a full-scale inquiry into the Trump administration’s involvement in a proposed venture to bring nuclear power facilities to Saudi Arabia. The Democrats cited claims from a whistle-blower that the venture raises potential conflicts of interest that could put American security at risk. In a 24-page report from the House Oversight and Reform Committee, the Democrats said their concerns centered around a plan to build a series of nuclear power plants across Saudi Arabia. White House documents obtained by the committee show that the company backing the nuclear plan, IP3 International, sent a draft memo supporting it to Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser. According to the report, Flynn worked on the plan for IP3 during the Trump campaign, and continued to advocate for it in the White House.

As the nuclear deal was maneuvered in the opening days of the administration, Jared Kushner orchestrated a trip to Saudi Arabia for Trump. Kushner also met on his own with the then-deputy crown prince, who is now the power behind the Saudi throne. Kushner is scheduled to travel to the region next week to brief diplomats on the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan.

LFC's Photo LFC 19 February 2019 - 03:07 PM

Trump administration people were warned that seeking a Saudi Arabia nuclear deal was quite possibly illegal.


op White House aides ignored repeated warnings they could be breaking the law as they worked with former U.S. officials and a close friend of President Donald Trump to advance a multi-billion-dollar plan to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East, Democratic lawmakers alleged in a report released Tuesday.

The House of Representatives Oversight Committee report said former national security adviser Michael Flynn and two aides promoted the plan with Tom Barrack, the chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee, and a consortium of U.S. firms led by retired military commanders and former White House officials.

The effort, the report said, began before Trump took office and continued after his inauguration in January 2017 despite National Security Council staff warnings that a proposed transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia was being fast-tracked around a mandatory approval process in possible breach of the Atomic Energy Act.

Why would they do that? For the money! Jared appears to have had help bailing out his family's business. How ... convenient.


Of particular interest in the report is the revelation that the Saudi nuke sales could have benefited Kushner, whose family in 2017 was desperate to secure investment capital at a troubled property in Manhattan.

“The Cummings report notes that one of the power plant manufacturers that could benefit from a nuclear deal, Westinghouse Electric, is a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management, the company that provided financial relief to the family of Jared Kushner,” the Post writes. “Brookfield Asset Management took a 99-year lease on the family’s deeply indebted New York City property at 666 Fifth Avenue.”

Traveler's Photo Traveler 19 February 2019 - 07:35 PM

Now it becomes clearer.

George Rowell's Photo George Rowell 19 February 2019 - 09:45 PM

View PostTraveler, on 19 February 2019 - 07:35 PM, said:

Now it becomes clearer.
Almost to a man Congress is broken. Expecting Congress pass laws to limit Congress is like giving a fox control of the hen house.

Everybody admires Obama and he did his best, but his original election promises got watered down hugely. Remember the cheap drugs he promised for example. If he had continued to go head on against every body in congress receiving lobbyist money then I doubt he would have got anything done. He had to get flexible. The whole World watched in anguish as Washington ground Obama down.