Western Leaders Remain Silent on Brazen Crimes of MBS Regime

President Trump is clearly not being served well by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who relies on Israeli PM Netanyahu for direction and has apparently developed a closeness to Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed bin Salman, “who has shown a tendency to be impetuous, ruthless, and power crazy.” Former U.S. presidents and European leaders, however, remain silent on the outrages of the Saudi regime, including its murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

By Richard Walker

Blaming President Donald Trump and his administration for the Saudi murder of a journalist, and for war crimes in Yemen by the Saudis and their Arab allies, is a distortion of the truth and excuses many of the real culprits, who include former presidents and European leaders who have been strangely silent.

In the midst of a tightly contested midterm election cycle, it has become somewhat fashionable on the left to direct all condemnation of Saudi transgressions at Trump. While he must share some blame for his unquestioned support for the Saudis and their Arab allies, it may well be that his biggest mistake was placing his rich son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in charge of his Middle East policy. Kushner relies on his family friend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for advice about the Middle East.

Kushner has also formed a special bond with the young Saudi leader, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, who has shown a tendency to be impetuous, ruthless, and power crazy. Kushner is known to have had private late-night discussions with MBS, and some observers have remarked that they formed a special bond as the sons of rich men. The underlying problem is that neither has any history of political or foreign policy achievement, and Kushner in particular has only worked in the real estate business in New York. He has no serious knowledge of the Middle East, making him vulnerable to outside influence, in particular to Netanyahu and the Saudis, who share a desire to encourage America to go to war with Iran. Therefore, Trump has not been well served by Kushner.

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What is clear about the blame game over the premeditated Saudi murder of exiled Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the war crimes the Saudi military has been committing in Yemen with Western weaponry, is that the royal princes in Riyadh feel empowered to do whatever they like, believing they will face no consequences from their Western allies. Their immunity from punishment for excessive use of violence, including their questioned support for al Qaeda, ISIS, and the al-Nusra Front, is not rooted in Trump’s arrival in the White House. On the contrary, it can be forcefully argued with considerable evidence that Trump inherited a Western political marriage with the Saudis that was consummated over decades by his predecessors and by the leaders of Britain and France.

These relationships have always been about the oil the Saudis are sitting on and the money they have pumped into the accounts of influencers and lobbyists in Washington, Paris, and London. There have been convenient arguments forged in Western capitals that the Saudis are critical to Western security and to our Middle East policies. No one pointed out that, like the Israelis, the Saudis have their own agenda for the Middle East and exploit Western politicians to achieve it. Even when the Saudis spread Wahhabism, their vicious form of Islam, across the globe and helped to bring about al Qaeda and the 9/11 atrocities they were shielded from blame.

Get Out of CashTheir familiar tactic is to buy weapons, especially American ones, but not exclusively. The French and the British have received enormous sums of money from selling them advanced missiles, while assisting them on the battlefield and in targeting Yemen.

Presidents Barack Obama and George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair have had little or nothing to say lately about the Saudis. They are content to let all criticism be fired at Trump, yet they were the leaders who cemented the Saudi political marriage, even after it became clear the Saudis had blood on their hands when it came to the 9/11 attacks.

The Saudis have learned how to deflect criticism. When they are in the crosshairs of a media blitz they simply funnel tens of millions of dollars to lobbyists.

They are sitting on an arsenal most nations only dream of and use their most advanced missiles to kill women and children in famine-ravaged Yemen. One wonders why the killing of a journalist got so much attention as compared to the relatively unreported war crimes they have committed in Yemen.

When the Saudis were threatened with being shamed as child-killers in Yemen they used financial blackmail against the UN. Money has always provided their political power.

One reason the Saudis have felt more emboldened of late to kill Khashoggi, continue their bombing of civilians in Yemen, and recruit al Qaeda fighters is their alliance with Israel, which reaches deep in Washington.

Netanyahu sees the Saudis as an ideal foil against Iran, and the Saudis regard Israel as a big influencer, which undoubtedly it is since Netanyahu has the ear of Kushner and therefore of Trump.

If the Saudis are to be reined in before MBS starts a war with Iran, Trump may have to take a tougher line with Riyadh and remove Kushner from the role of Middle East policymaker.

Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.




Elites Regretting Saudi Love Fest?

Recent behavior of the psychopathic Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman has advocates questioning U.S. support, both from government and from the entertainment industry.

By Richard Walker

Elites in Hollywood, and in the board rooms of Silicon Valley and big media outfits in New York and Washington, will have difficulty explaining their love affair with the Saudis after reports that they kidnapped, tortured, murdered, and dismembered Kamal Khashoggi, a journalist and a permanent U.S. resident.

Khashoggi, who lived in Virginia, vanished after he entered the Saudi embassy in Istanbul on Oct. 2. As a critic of the new Saudi regime led by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, Khashoggi refused to call himself a dissident.

He went to the embassy to get documents for his impending marriage, and it is now believed the Saudis lured him there with the aim of seizing him. Turkish intelligence, which monitors foreign embassies, later posted footage of him entering the building. There was no evidence he ever left it alive.

The Turks released photos of what they called a 15-man Saudi assassination team that also entered the embassy. The team had a recognized forensic expert and someone reportedly carrying a bone saw. This led the Turks to claim that Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered inside the building and his remains transferred to two private planes that flew into Istanbul that day and later left for Saudi Arabia. It was a classic hit and a tactic they have been using against Saudi dissidents in other countries.

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To the astonishment of the Turks, the Saudis declared that Khashoggi left the embassy unharmed, but refused to provide video footage. They complained that their video cameras had been out of operation. Their excuse was dismissed as pure fantasy by most intelligence experts since the Saudis are very security conscious at all diplomatic facilities. In all foreign installations, non-functioning cameras trigger a top-level security alert, but that did not happen at the Istanbul embassy. The Saudis even told Khashoggi’s future wife, who had waited outside the embassy for him for three hours, that he must have passed by her without her knowing.

A few media outlets speculated that the 15-man hit team, which Turkish intelligence said included several known Saudi special forces operatives, probably intended to kidnap and rendition Khashoggi to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, but something went terribly wrong and they killed him. Turkish intelligence dismissed that theory as a wild attempt by pro-Saudi elements to deflect from the evidence.

A question lurking in the background of the abduction is what American intelligence knew. Reports indicate the CIA knew in advance about the threat to Khashoggi. If Jared Kushner, the Mideast point man, was alerted to the threat, he had a duty to warn and protect Khashoggi, who was a U.S. resident.

So what does all of this mean in terms of what we know about Saudi Arabia and its young, impetuous leader, MBS? During a two-week East to West Coast tour in March this year, he had everyone eating out of his hand. He met Hollywood moguls, the titans of Silicon Valley, and the big names in media and politics in New York and Washington. Most of all, he spent time with Trump and Kushner, and CBS’s “60 Minutes” broadcast an upbeat profile of him.

Get Out of CashLost in the euphoria of his visit was a warning AFP referenced in November 2017 that MBS needed watching because he was impetuous and capable of destabilizing the Middle East. This assessment was first made in 2015 when he was Saudi defense minister. It came from the BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence agency. The warning was ignored in Washington, Paris, and London where Saudi money has always bought silence and blind loyalty.

What was even more shocking about the American elites who met him in March 2018 is that they had to know that months earlier he invited Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Riyadh, had him arrested, and forced him to resign and make crazy claims about Lebanon in a television broadcast. The West intervened, and Hariri was eventually released. MBS then detained many of his own princes in a hotel and forced them to hand over their riches. He threatened to invade Qatar, but that was averted after American generals convinced the White House that Qatar was a valuable ally. Despite pleas from EU nations, he continued to expand his war in Yemen, slaughtering thousands of women and children and bombing food supplies and food production in the famine torn country.

Since taking over the Saudi kingdom, he has been emboldened by his personal relationship with Kushner, who has met with him privately but has never recorded what transpired at their meetings. He threatened Qatar after a meeting with Kushner, who has established links between MBS and his family friend, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Khashoggi affair may be a bridge too far for Western leaders, though Trump seems to be running cover for MBS, claiming that a rogue group of Saudis likely killed the journalist. It will, however, be fascinating to see if the elites in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and New York who bought into the MBS charm offensive now have any regrets.

Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.




Time to Investigate ‘Israelgate’

If the FBI director wants to uncover foreign meddling in U.S. elections, says Phil Giraldi, he ought to look at Israel, and specifically, NSA-designee Michael Flynn’s call, at Benjamin Netanyahu’s request via Jared Kushner, to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Dec. 22, 2016.

By Philip Giraldi

Recently there was a slight misunderstanding between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu claimed that the Trump administration had been discussing with him a plan for annexing the large Israeli settlements—illegal under international law—on the Palestinian West Bank. He told a Likud Party gathering that “on the subject of applying sovereignty, I can say that I have been talking to the Americans about it for some time.” White House spokesman Josh Raffel responded testily for the president, saying that “reports that the United States discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false. The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal. . . .”

Was it just another misunderstanding between two friends who also happen to be heads of state? Hardly. Netanyahu expected the White House to rubber stamp whatever he decided to do. That has been the way it has worked with Trump up until now and the assumption by Netanyahu was that it would continue to operate in the same fashion.

Score one for Trump, who also dropped a bomb on Netanyahu by opining that Israel might not be truly interested in making peace with the Palestinians. It was not a brilliant observation, but it was welcome nevertheless.

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The sideshow that is Israel’s manipulation of the United States government has recently played out largely behind the scenes while much bigger dramas were surfacing relating to the various investigations surrounding the 2016 elections. A major revelation was provided by the so-called “Nunes memo,” prepared by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, which maintained that the salacious and largely fabricated Democratic National Committee-commissioned “Steele dossier” had been used as a primary source by the FBI in obtaining a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant to investigate a Trump staffer over suspicion that he was acting as an agent of Russia. This was followed by a letter from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), which filled in some of the blanks in the Nunes memo by providing convincing detail on the activity of former British spy Christopher Steele in making the case against Trump with the apparent collaboration of the FBI and others in the intelligence community.

And the most recent bombshell is that the Robert Mueller commission investigating the Trump campaign has finally issued an indictment in its seemingly endless investigation, naming 13 Russians and three Russian entities as being involved in conspiracy and identity theft relating to the election.

But somehow lost in the shuffle is the Israeli connection, which all started when Trump National Security Adviser designate Michael Flynn called Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, on Dec. 22, 2016. The call was made at the direction of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who, in turn, had been approached by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu had learned that the Obama administration was going to abstain on a United Nations vote condemning the Israeli settlements policy, meaning that for the first time in years a UN resolution critical of Israel would pass without drawing a U.S. veto. Kushner, acting for Netanyahu, asked Flynn to contact each delegate from the various countries on the Security Council to delay or kill the resolution. Flynn agreed to do so, which included the call to the Russians. Kislyak took the call but did not agree to veto Security Council Resolution 2334, which passed unanimously on December 23.

What exactly did Kushner seek from Flynn? He asked the soon-to-be national security adviser to get the Russians to undermine and subvert what was being done by the still-in-power American government in Washington headed by President Barack Obama. In legal terms this does not quite equate to the Constitution’s definition of treason since Israel is not technically an enemy, but it most certainly could be construed as covered by the “conspiracy against the United States” statute that the Mueller investigation has exploited against former Trump associate Paul Manafort and also in the recent Russian indictments.

Mueller’s indictment, which was publicized on Feb. 16, claims that the Russians created false U.S. personas while also stealing the identities of real U.S. people in order to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The indictment states that the goal of the entities and people identified was to both influence and disrupt the election, with some defendants posing as “U.S. people” communicating with “individuals associated with the Trump campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities.”

The “defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton,” the indictment reads, but it does not maintain that they had “any effect on the outcome of the election.” Purchases were made “to carry out those activities, including buying [$100,000 worth of] political advertisements on social media in the names of U.S. persons and entities.” The accused Russians are being charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

In the case of the Kislyak phone call, initiated by Kushner acting for Israel, Russia is being accused of involvement in activity that Israel engages in all the time and in the open. Israel has always been involved in U.S. elections down to the local level, most notably in promoting Mitt Romney over Barack Obama in 2012, and it has an enormous and well-funded lobby in AIPAC that interferes aggressively in American foreign and domestic policy formulation through “coordinating political activities” to benefit Israel. And the Israeli government’s propaganda arm uses its hasbara to go around the Internet with false identities to confuse and deflect stories that are critical of the Netanyahu government. They do so routinely and do not even try to hide what they are doing. Part of their agenda is to smear critics and elect politicians favorable to them.

So when will Mueller and the several congressional committees that are investigating the Russians move on to the topic of Israel to find out what a really effective foreign influencing operation looks like? Given Israel’s power over Congress, probably never.

Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the National Interest. Other articles by Giraldi can be found on the website of the Unz Review.




Who Wants War With Iran?

The consequences of a U.S. war with Iran would be devastating, so why is Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley indicting Iran in a recent missile fired at a Saudi airport? It would appear the war propaganda campaign is ramping up.

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Shortly before Christmas, President Donald Trump was the beneficiary of some surprisingly good news and glad tidings. On Dec. 17, Vladimir Putin called to thank him and the CIA for providing Russia critical information that helped abort an ISIS plot to massacre visitors to Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

Dec. 18 found polls showing Trump at his highest in months. Stocks soared 200 points at the opening bell in anticipation of pre-Christmas passage of the Republican tax bill. The Dow has added a record 5,000 points in Trump’s first year.

And the Russiagate investigation may have busted an axle. Though yet unproven, charges are being made that Robert Mueller’s sleuths gained access to emails from the Trump campaign illicitly. This could imperil prosecutions by Mueller’s team, already under a cloud for proven malice toward the president. Recall: Daniel Ellsberg, who delivered “the Pentagon Papers” to The New York Times, walked free when it was learned that the White House “Plumbers” had burgled his psychiatrist’s office.

With things going Trump’s way, one must ask: What was UN Ambassador Nikki Haley doing in early December at what looked like a prewar briefing at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in D.C.?

Looming behind Ms. Haley was part of what was said to be an Iranian missile fired at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.

Though the rocket had Iranian markings, it was not launched from Iran, or by Iranians. Houthi rebels, for two years victims of a savage war waged by the Saudis—using U.S.-made planes, missiles, bombs, and drones—say they fired it at the Riyadh airport in retaliation for what the Saudis have done to their people and country. If so, it was a legitimate act of war.

Indeed, so great is the Yemeni civilian suffering from a lack of food and medicine, and from malnutrition and disease, Trump himself has told the Saudis to ease up on their air, sea, and land blockades.

As there is no evidence as to when the Houthis acquired the missile, or where, the question arises: What was Ms. Haley’s motive in indicting Iran? Was this part of a new propaganda campaign to drum up support for America’s next big Mideast war? There are reasons to think so.

Ms. Haley went on: “It’s hard to find a conflict or a terrorist group in the Middle East that does not have Iran’s fingerprints all over it.” But Iran is Shiite, while al Qaeda, which allegedly brought down the twin towers with the help of 15 Saudi nationals, is Sunni. So, too, are ISIS, Boko Haram in Nigeria, al-Shabab in Somalia and Islamic Jihad. Most Mideast terrorist groups are Sunni, not Shiite.

As for these Mideast “conflicts,” which did Iran start? We started the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. NATO started the war in Libya. The U.S. helped trigger the horrific Syrian civil war by arming “rebels.” Only when President Bashar Assad looked like he was about to fall did Russia and Iran intervene on his side.

As for the “Shiite crescent,” from Tehran to Baghdad to Damascus to Beirut, who created it? Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq was Sunni dominated. It was the Americans who overthrew him and brought Shiite power to Baghdad.

In Syria, it was U.S.- and Sunni-backed “rebels,” allied at times with al Qaeda, who drew Iran and the Shiite militias in to save Assad.

And the Israelis called the Shiite Hezbollah movement into being by invading and occupying South Lebanon in 1982. As Yitzhak Rabin ruefully said, “We let the Shia genie out of the bottle.”

Are we now to fight a new Mideast war against a larger enemy than any of the others we have fought, to clean up the bloody mess we made of the region by our previous military interventions? Before we march, with Ms. Haley as head cheerleader, Trump should consider the likely consequences for his country, the Middle East, and his presidency.

A war in the Persian Gulf would send oil prices soaring and stock markets plummeting, even as it would split us off from our major allies in Europe and Asia. The Airbus-Boeing deal to sell Iran 300 commercial aircraft would be dead.

While the U.S. would prevail in an air, naval, and missile war, where would the troops come from to march to Tehran to “democratize” that nation? Do we think a bloodied revanchist Iran would be easier to deal with than the one with which John Kerry negotiated a nuclear deal?

Would Hezbollah go after U.S. soft targets in Beirut? Would Iraqi Shiite militias go after Americans in the Green Zone? Would the Shiite majority in Bahrain and the oil-rich northeast of Saudi Arabia rise up and rebel?

And who would our great fighting Arab ally be? Jared Kushner’s new friend: a 32-year-old Saudi prince who has become famous for putting down $500 million each for a chateau near Versailles, a yacht on the Riviera, and a painting by Leonardo da Vinci.

Pat Buchanan is a writer, political commentator and presidential candidate. He is the author of a new book, Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever and previous titles including The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. Both are available from the AFP Bookstore. 

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