Posts Tagged ‘Mohammed bin Salman’

Lindsey Graham Calls Saudi Prince ‘Unstable’ and Sees Sanctions Ahead

November 14, 2018
GOP Senator says Mohammed bin Salman has been ‘a disaster’
Other senators call for hearings into U.S.-Saudi relations
Lindsey Graham Photographer: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Bloomberg

Senator Lindsey Graham called Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “unstable and unreliable” and said he and other senators were discussing sanctions against the longtime U.S. ally in the wake of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s killing.

Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said he and other like-minded colleagues don’t yet have a plan of action. But he lambasted the leadership of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler. Prince Mohammed “has been unstable and unreliable and I don’t see the situation getting fixed as long as he’s around,” Graham said.

Asked if he was calling for a new crown prince to be named, Graham said it was up to Saudi Arabia to determine its leadership. “I am of the opinion that the current leadership, the MBS leadership, has been a disaster for the relationship and the region, and I will find it very difficult to do business as usual with somebody who’s been this unstable,” he said.

Reviving Criticism

Khashoggi, who wrote for the Washington Post and was a critic of Prince Mohammed’s policies, was murdered during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Prince Mohammed and Saudi officials initially said they had no knowledge of Khashoggi’s whereabouts. But as international pressure mounted, the kingdom acknowledged he had been killed at the consulate.

Read More: Trump Presses Saudi Arabia Over Oil as Relations Fray Further

The killing revived criticism of Saudi Arabia’s role in Yemen’s years long civil war, whose consequences the United Nations declared the world’s biggest humanitarian disaster. Prince Mohammed has strongly defended the Yemen campaign.

Mohammed bin Salman  — Photographer: Kevin Dietsch/Pool via Bloomberg

U.S. President Donald Trump has been critical of the Saudis in the wake of Khashoggi’s death, but has said the events shouldn’t hinder arms sales to the kingdom. On Tuesday, Trump said he intended to nominate a retired Army general as U.S. ambassador to Riyadh.

Senate Skepticism

Graham was skeptical of National Security Adviser John Bolton’s comments Monday that people who’ve heard a recording of Khashoggi’s murder don’t believe it implicates Prince Mohammed.

“Pretty hard for me to believe that 15 people just on their own fly to Turkey and chop somebody up in a consulate and never tell anybody in Saudi Arabia about it. I’ll be shocked if that turns out to be true,” he said.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, said separately that the Trump administration must give a high-level briefing to senators on Saudi Arabia — including the issues of Khashoggi and Yemen — or risk losing Saudi-related votes on the Senate floor before Congress finishes for the year.

Bob Corker — Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

Of Khashoggi’s murder, “There’s no smoking gun, but I don’t think there’s any question he directed it, knew it, and we’ve got to figure out a way to cause them to pay a price,” Corker said, referring to Prince Mohammed.

Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland said he expects to see significant sanctions against the Saudis “targeted to the highest levels of the Saudi government.”

Fellow Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut said he would discuss the possibility of forcing a vote this year on ending U.S. involvement in Yemen’s conflict under the War Powers Act. Murphy also said Trump’s administration would have a hard time getting the votes needed for more arms sales to the kingdom.

Meanwhile, in the House, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi ripped Republicans in a statement for moving to block a vote on ending the U.S. involvement in the war. “Real, immediate action must be taken by the Congress to end this horrific humanitarian crisis,” she said.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-14/graham-calls-saudi-prince-unstable-and-sees-sanctions-ahead

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The ruthless campaign to save Mohammed bin Salman

November 14, 2018

With every passing day, the Saudi prince looks more likely to survive the Khashoggi scandal

Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince © AP

By Roula Khalaf

The once flamboyant Saudi billionaire, Alwaleed bin Talal, looked visibly uncomfortable in a television interview last week as he dispensed effusive praise for Saudi Arabia’s crown prince. Two weeks earlier, Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri laughed nervously on stage as he applauded Mohammed bin Salman.

The Saudi financier and the Lebanese prime minister have been targets in the young prince’s ruthless attempt to impose his will on Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East. But exhibiting public support appears to be a requirement now that Prince Mohammed is in trouble, and on a drive to clear his name.

Since Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi columnist, was strangled and his body dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month, the propaganda campaign designed to insulate Prince Mohammed from a crime supposedly committed by rogue aides has gone into overdrive.

Enlisting friends is not sufficient; victims too must join in the whitewashing. It is a charade that can be well captured by a popular Arab saying: “You kill and walk in the victim’s funeral procession.” A year ago, Mr Hariri was summoned to Riyadh, ostensibly for a meeting, then detained and ordered to appear on television to bash Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hizbollah.

Image result for Saad Hariri, photos

Saad Hariri

It was an early warning of the despotic style of Prince Mohammed.

While Saudi Arabia persisted in denying the detention, French President Emmanuel Macron had to work his diplomatic magic to ensure the prime minister’s release. In October, Mr Hariri was asked to Riyadh again, this time to participate — and act chummy — on a conference panel with Prince Mohammed. In a chilling ending to the session, the prince joked that Mr Hariri would stay in Saudi Arabia another two days but no one should assume that he was detained. It was tasteless humour; Mr Hariri giggled all the same.

Prince Alwaleed, a member of the royal al-Saud family, has also been forced into merciless surrender. A year ago, he was among the royals and businessmen arrested and forced to part with assets and cash to secure their release.

Image result for Prince Alwaleed, photos

Prince Alwaleed

Since being freed, he has expressed repeated support for Prince Mohammed, describing his detention as a misunderstanding that was forgiven and forgotten. In an interview with Fox News last week, he spoke eloquently about Mr Khashoggi, who headed one of his projects, a shortlived TV station.

But his warmest words were reserved for the crown prince. He declared him innocent in the Khashoggi killing. It is possible that Mr Hariri and Prince Alwaleed are suffering from temporary amnesia. Perhaps they share an exaggerated spirit of forgiveness. More likely, they have adopted the safer option: going along with the pretence.

No one knows for sure why Khashoggi was killed but the brutal murder was a warning to others not to cross the crown prince. None of this fake admiration will salvage the reputation of Prince Mohammed abroad, where observers and politicians assume the killing could not have been committed without his consent. But with every passing day, he looks more likely to survive the scandal.

His western allies, led by the US, appear unwilling to connect him directly to the Khashoggi execution.

Instead, they hope his ailing father, King Salman, will rein him in. They are using his vulnerability to wrest concessions: a halt to Saudi Arabia’s disastrous military campaign in Yemen and an end to its ill-judged blockade of its neighbour Qatar.

Back home, the Saudis have crafted a message that is now spreading, online and in interviews, through officials and loyalists. The narrative holds up Saudi Arabia as a “beacon” of stability in the face of an expansionist Iran. It draws parallels between the Khashoggi case and the Abu Ghraib scandal, the abuse of Iraqi detainees in a prison by American officers.

Soldiers were convicted but no senior government official was implicated.

Ironically for a prince whose main achievement has been to curb the powers of the clerical establishment, religious scholars have been rolled out to rally domestic support. Their message: Prince Mohammed is a divinely inspired reformer who should be protected against international conspiracies.

roula.khalaf@ft.com

https://www.ft.com/content/bf9e9556-e725-11e8-8a85-04b8afea6ea3

Khashoggi, Erdogan’s verbal assaults add to talk of ‘instability’ in Saudi Arabia

November 7, 2018

 

Nahum Barnea, a leading Israeli commentator, writing in Yedioth Ahronoth in May (in Hebrew), set out, unambiguously, the ‘deal’ behind Trump’s Middle East policy:

In the wake of the US exit from JCPOA [which occurred on 8 May], Trump, Barnea wrote, will threaten a rain of ‘fire and fury’ onto Tehran … whilst Putin is expected to restrain Iran from attacking Israel using Syrian territory, thus leaving Netanyahu free to set new ‘rules of the game’ by which the Israel may attack and destroy Iranian forces anywhere in Syria (and not just in the border area, as earlier agreed) when it wishes, without fear of retaliation.

Authored by Alastair Crooke via The Strategic Culture Foundation

Saudi Crown Prince says he loves working with the US president and that a lot has been achieved in the Middle East due to their partnership. (AFP/File)

This represented one level to the Netanyahu strategy: Iranian restraint, plus Russian acquiescence to coordinated Israeli air operations over Syria.

 “There is only one thing that isn’t clear [concerning this deal]”, a senior Israeli Defence official closest to Netanyahu, told Ben Caspit, “that is, who works for whom? Does Netanyahu work for Trump, or is President Trump at the service of Netanyahu … From the outside … it looks like the two men are perfectly in sync. From the inside, this seems even more so: This kind of cooperation … sometimes makes it seem as if they are actually just one single, large office”.

There has been, from the outset, a second level, too:

This entire ‘inverted pyramid’ of Middle East engineering had, as its single point of departure, Mohammed bin Salman (MbS).

It was Jared Kushner, the Washington Post reports, who “championed Mohammed as a reformer poised to usher the ultraconservative, oil-rich monarchy into modernity. Kushner privately argued for months, last year, that Mohammed would be key to crafting a Middle East peace plan, and that with the prince’s blessing, much of the Arab world would follow”. It was Kushner, the Post continued, “who pushed his father-in-law to make his first foreign trip as president to Riyadh, against objections from then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – and warnings from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis”.

Well, now MbS has, in one form or another, been implicated in the Khashoggi murder.  Bruce Riedel of Brookings, a longtime Saudi observer and former senior CIA & US defence official, notes“for the first time in 50 years, the kingdom has become a force for instability” (rather than stability in the region), and suggests that there is an element  of ‘buyer’s remorse’ now evident in parts of Washington.

The ‘seamless office process’ to which the Israeli official referred with Caspit, is known as ‘stovepiping’, which is when a foreign state’s policy advocacy and intelligence are passed straight to a President’s ear – omitting official Washington from the ‘loop’; by-passing any US oversight; and removing the opportunity for officials to advise on its content.  Well, this has now resulted in the Khashoggi strategic blunder.  And this, of course, comes in the wake of earlier strategic ‘mistakes’: the Yemen war, the siege of Qatar, the Hariri abduction, the Ritz-Carlton princely shakedowns.

To remedy this lacuna, an ‘uncle’ (Prince Ahmad bin Abdel Aziz) has been dispatched from exile in the West to Riyadh (with security guarantees from the US and UK intelligences services) to bring order into these unruly affairs, and to institute some checks and balances into the MbS coterie of advisers, so as to prevent further impetuous ‘mistakes’.  It seems too, that the US Congress wants the Yemen war, which Prince Ahmad consistently has opposed (as he opposed MbS elevation as Crown Prince), stopped. (General Mattis has called for a ceasefire within 30 days.) It is a step toward repairing the Kingdom’s image.

MbS remains – for now – as Crown Prince. President Sisi and Prime Minister Netanyahu both have expressed their support for MbS and “as U.S. officials contemplate a more robust response [to the Khashoggi killing], Kushner has emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Saudi alliance in the region”, the Washington Post reports. MbS’ Uncle (who as a son of King Abdel Aziz, under the traditional succession system, would be himself in line for the throne), no doubt hopes to try to undo some of the damage done to the standing of the al-Saud family, and to that of the Kingdom.  Will he succeed?  Will MbS accede now to Ahmad unscrambling the very centralisation of power that made MbS so many enemies, in the first place, to achieve it?  Has the al-Saud family the will, or are they too disconcerted by events?

And might President Erdogan throw more wrenches into this delicate process by further leaking evidence Turkey has, if Washington does not attend sufficiently to his demands.  Erdogan seems ready to pitch for the return of Ottoman leadership for the Sunni world, and likely still holds some high-value cards up his sleeve (such as intercepts of phone calls between the murder cell and Riyadh).  These cards though are devaluing as the news cycle shifts to the US mid-terms.

Time will tell, but it is this nexus of uncertain dynamics to which Bruce Reidel refers, when he talks of ‘instability’ in Saudi Arabia.  The question posed here, though, is how might these events affect Netanyahu’s and MbS’ ‘war’ on Iran?

May 2018 now seems a distant era.  Trump is still the same ‘Trump’, but Putin is not the same Putin. The Russian Defence Establishment has weighed in with their President to express their displeasure at Israeli air strikes on Syria – purportedly targeting Iranian forces in Syria.  The Russian Defence Ministry too, has enveloped Syria in a belt of missiles and electronic disabling systems across the Syrian airspace. Politically, the situation has changed too: Germany and France have joined the Astana Process for Syria. Europe wants Syrian refugees to return home, and that translates into Europe demanding stability in Syria. Some Gulf States too, have tentatively begun normalising with the Syrian state.

The Americans are still in Syria; but a newly invigorated Erdogan (after the release of the US pastor, and with all the Khashoggi cards, produced by Turkish intelligence, in his pocket), intends to crush the Kurdish project in north and eastern Syria, espoused by Israel and the US. MbS, who was funding this project, on behalf of US and Israel, will cease his involvement (as a part of the demands made by Erdogan over the Khashoggi murder). Washington too wants the Yemen war, which was intended to serve as Iran’s ‘quagmire’, to end forthwith.  And Washington wants the attrition of Qatar to stop, too.

These represent major unravelings of the Netanyahu project for the Middle East, but most significant are two further setbacks:

First, the loss of Netanyahu’s and MbS’ stovepipe to Trump, via Jared Kushner, by-passing all America’s own system of ‘checks and balances’.  The Kushner ‘stovepipe’ neither forewarned Washington of coming ‘mistakes’, nor was Kushner able to prevent them. Both Congress and the Intelligences Services of the US and UK are already elbowing into these affairs.  They are not MbS fans.  It is no secret that Prince Mohamed bin Naif was their man (he is still under ‘palace arrest’).

Trump will still hope to continue his ‘Iran project’ and his Deal of the Century between Israel and the Palestinians (led nominally by Saudi Arabia herding together the Sunni world, behind it).  Trump does not seek war with Iran, but rather is convinced of a popular uprising in Iran that will topple the state.

And the second setback is that Prince Ahmad’s clear objective must be other than this – instability in, or conflict with, Iran. His is to restore the family’s standing, and to recoup something of its leadership credentials in the Sunni world, which has been shredded by the war in Yemen – and is now under direct neo-Ottoman challenge from Turkey.  The al-Saud family, one may surmise, will have no appetite to replace one disastrous and costly war (Yemen), with another – an even greater conflict, with its large and powerful neighbor, Iran.  It makes no sense now.  Perhaps this is why we see signs of Israel rushing to hurry Arab state normalisation – even absent any amelioration for the Palestinians.

Nehum Barnea presciently noted in his May article in Yediot Ahoronot:

“Trump could have declared a US withdrawal [from the JCPOA], and made do with that. But under the influence of Netanyahu and of his new team, he chose to go one step further. The economic sanctions on Iran will be much tighter, beyond what they were, before the nuclear agreement was signed. “Hit them in their pockets”, Netanyahu advised Trump: “if you hit them in their pockets, they will choke; and when they choke, they will throw out the ayatollahs””.

This was another bit of ‘stovepiped’ advice passed directly to the US President. 

His officials might have warned him that it was fantasy.  There is no example of sanctions alone having toppled a state; and whilst the US can use its claim of judicial hegemony as an enforcement mechanism, the US has effectively isolated itself in sanctioning Iran: Europe wants no further insecurity. It wants no more refugees heading to Europe. Was it Trump’s tough stance that brought Kim to the table?  Or, perhaps contrarily, might Kim have seen a meeting with Trump simply as the price that he had to pay in order to advance Korean re-unification?  Was Trump warned that Iran would suffer economic pain, but that it would nonetheless persevere, in spite of sanctions? No – well, that’s the problem inherent in listening principally to ‘stovepipes’.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-11-06/unraveling-netanyahu-project-middle-east

Qatar warns of ‘long-lasting’ impact of Gulf crisis

November 6, 2018

Qatar’s ruler said Tuesday “crises pass” but warned of “long-lasting” scars from a diplomatic dispute that has seen Doha isolated by Saudi Arabia and its allies for more than a year.

In an annual address to the nation, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani pointedly called on other Gulf states to respect Qatar’s sovereignty and not “interfere” in other countries’ affairs.

“History teaches us that crises pass, but their mismanagement may leave behind long-lasting effects,” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said.

Once allies, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have imposed a near-total embargo on Qatar since June 2017 over allegations the emirate supports radical Islamist groups and seeks closer ties with Riyadh’s arch-rival Tehran.

© AFP/File | Qatar’s ruler has warned of “long-lasting” scars from a diplomatic dispute that has seen the energy-rich emirate isolated by Saudi Arabia and its allies for more than a year

Qatar denies the charges, accusing its neighbours of seeking regime change.

The emir said the Qatari economy had not been damaged by the boycott, adding that the country would retain its position as the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas.

“Our oil and gas exports have not been affected by the blockade,” he said.

“The state has been keen on fulfilling all its obligations under the existing contracts and has concluded several long-term contracts, the latest of which was with Petro China.”

The crisis has thrown into the spotlight Qatar’s preparations for the 2022 World Cup, which have been plagued with allegations of labour rights violations.

Sheikh Tamim said the preparations were “not easy” but the state was continuing to provide funding for international football’s showpiece tournament.

Qatar is spending around $500 million a week to prepare for 2022.

AFP

Related:

Qatar’s Emir says he regrets the conflict with Quartet — As Turkey hammers Saudi over Khashoggi, Arab World stays together

November 6, 2018

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said on Tuesday he regrets the continuation of conflict with other Arab states, but added that “crises will pass,” outlining the nation’s economic achievements over the past year.

The Emir said he regretted the conflict, but said he believed ‘crisis will pass’. (File/AP)

The country would continue to develop its oil and gas industries as it is keen to preserve its status as the top liquefied natural gas exporter in the world, and that the country had grown its exports by 18 percent last year and slashed spending by 20 percent, Tamim said in a speech to the Arab state’s shoura council.

Qatar’s currency has preserved its value since the start of the rift last year and the economy has diversified to overcome the impact of sanctions imposed by other Arab states, Tamim said.

Reuters

Related:

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Image result for Erdogan with Muhammad bin Salman, photos
Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

See also:

In Saudi Arabia, Washington Post’s coverage of Khashoggi killing fuels calls for Amazon boycott

Source:https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2018/11/05/saudi-arabia-washington-posts-coverage-khashoggi-killing-fuels-calls-amazon-boycott/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.1dab2d6e57e1


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks during the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Oct. 24, 2018. (Handout .Reuters)

As Yemeni army makes progress in Hodeidah, Pressure grows on Saudi Arabia to end the war

November 4, 2018

Yemen’s army reached the eastern city of Saleh in Hodeidah province after clashes with the Houthi militia, Saudi state-news agency SPA reported.

A senior military official said the Houthis continued to suffer major defeats in clashes with the Arab coalition-backed army forces. (File/AFP)

The developments are part of a military operation launched to liberate the strategic Hodeidah port from the militia.

A senior military official said the Houthis continued to suffer major defeats in clashes with the Arab coalition-backed army forces.

Arab News

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1398936/middle-east

Related:

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Yemen troops make gains as air raids pound Houthi-held Hodeidah

Al Jazeera

Saudi-backed Yemeni forces claim to have captured two areas on the outskirts of the port city of Hodeidah.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis have fled their homes as fighting intensifies near Hodeidah city [Najeeb Almahboobi/EPA]
Tens of thousands of Yemenis have fled their homes as fighting intensifies near Hodeidah city [Najeeb Almahboobi/EPA]

The Saudi-UAE military alliance at war with Yemen‘s Houthi rebels says it has advanced towards the western city of Hodeidah, hours after residents reported a barrage of air raids targeting the strategic port city.

Residents in Hodeidah told Al Jazeera on Saturday that the United States-backed alliance launched more than 25 air raids, targeting rebel-held locations on the city’s edges.

Yemeni journalist Manal Qaed said the sound of fighter jets dropping bombs pierced through the sky late into the afternoon, with civilians fearing to venture out of their homes.

The Houthi-affiliated Al-Masirah news outlet said more than 60 raids targeted Kilo-16 and its surrounding areas, wounding four civilians.

Kilo-16 is the main highway linking Hodeidah city with the rebel-held capital, Sanaa.

Aid agencies have long warned that fighting in Hodeidah risks escalating the dire humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where about half the population – some 14 million people – could soon be on the verge of famine.

“This is not the first time the city has been attacked and sadly residents have grown accustomed to the sounds of air strikes and shelling,” Qaed said.

“Throughout the day, we’ve heard the sound of jets in the sky, intense shelling and air strikes,” she added. “As for me, I will only leave once clashes flare in the city.”

Meanwhile, the dpa news agency reported that Yemeni forces, backed by the Saudi-UAE alliance, gained territory on the eastern and southern outskirts of Hodeidah.

A military source told dpa on condition of anonymity: “The forces will not stop until they take control of the strategic Hodeidah port.”

On Tuesday, the alliance sent more than 10,000 troops to Hodeidah in a new offensive aimed at securing the so-called “liberated areas”.

So far, the Yemeni forces and the alliance had held Kilo 7 and Kilo 10, areas which sit less than five kilometres from the city’s busy fish market.

Violence must stop everywhere with an immediate halt around critical infrastructure and densely populated areas

ANTONIO GUTERRES, UN SECRETARY-GENERAL

‘Losing Hodeidah will be a big blow’

Adam Baron, a Yemen analyst and visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, called the port city a “key prize”, adding it would be a “big blow” if the Houthislose control of the installation just weeks before peace talks demanded by the United Nations and the US are to be held.

“Hodeidah is arguably Yemen’s most important port and is one of the Houthis’ main sources of revenue,” Baron said.

“In any conflict [control of a port is] a key prize. It would be a big blow [if the Houthis lost the port to the alliance], but not a killer blow,” he added.

Analysts expect the rebels to use Hodeidah as a bargaining chip when they enter into UN-brokered talks scheduled in Sweden later this month.

The UN has repeatedly warned a military campaign on Hodeidah would have devastating consequences for the country’s residents.

Addressing reporters at the world body’s headquarters in New York on Friday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the warring parties must seize on this “opportunity for peace”.

READ MORE

Yemen: Amal Hussain, whose image drew attention to famine, dies

“To avert imminent catastrophe, several steps are required. First, violence must stop everywhere with an immediate halt around critical infrastructure and densely populated areas,” he said.

“We must do all we can now to end human suffering and avoid the worst humanitarian crisis in the world from getting even worse,” he added.

According to the Yemen Data Project, the Saudi-UAE alliance carried out at least 335 air raids on Hodeidah between June 1 and September 30, with civilians frequently bearing the brunt.

At least 15 people were killed in September when raids hit a road linking Hodeidah with Sanaa.

The Saudi-UAE military alliance acknowledged mistakes in its air operations, but has mostly defended its record.

It has denied deliberately targeting civilians, but Riyadh’s narrative over its actions in Yemen has faced mounting criticism following the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist.

The conflict in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, began with the 2014 takeover of by the Houthi rebels, who toppled the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Concerned by the rise of the Houthis, believed to be backed by Iran, the Saudi-UAE military-led coalition launched an intervention in 2015 in the form of a massive air campaign aimed at reinstalling Hadi’s government.

Earlier this week, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), an independent watchdog, said around 56,000 Yemenis had been killed in the violence. The UN says the conflict has killed at least 10,000 people, but has not updated its death toll in years.

What can a UN investigation achieve in Yemen?

Includes video:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/11/yemeni-troops-gains-air-raids-pound-houthi-held-hodeidah-181103110909016.html

What can a UN investigation achieve in Yemen?

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

U.S. Pushing Saudi Arabia to End Yemen War — “Peace could be Khashoggi’s legacy”

November 2, 2018

Saudi weakness over Khashoggi killing gives an opportunity for further reform

The United States is working to capitalize on what it regards as new leverage with Saudi Arabia to end the brutal civil war in Yemen and ease a regional standoff with Qatar, according to multiple US and diplomatic officials.

Seeing an opening created by the kingdom’s new pariah status after the killing of a dissident journalist, US officials say the time is ripe to move on longstanding goals, including forcing an end to the Saudi-led bombing campaign that has prompted a humanitarian crisis in neighboring Yemen.
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The officials acknowledged that neither the Yemen war nor the dispute with Qatar can be solved quickly. But the administration hopes to make progress on both fronts by the end of the year, they said, and have recently stepped up public calls on Saudi Arabia to alleviate the disputes.
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Calls for Yemen ceasefire

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Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both this week called on participants in the Yemen civil war to agree to a ceasefire “in the next 30 days,” a demand that comes amid fresh criticism of US support for the Saudi-led coalition in the conflict.
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In this photo from April 26, 2018, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis listens to a question on the Department of Defense budget posture during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

In this photo from April 26, 2018, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis listens to a question on the Department of Defense budget posture during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
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The UN’s envoy for the conflict Martin Griffith told CNN’s Becky Anderson in an interview Thursday he believed the international furor over Khashoggi’s brutal killing played a part in prompting the surprise American call for a ceasefire.
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“Thirty days from now we want to see everybody around a peace table based on a ceasefire, based on a pullback from the border and then based on ceasing dropping of bombs,” Mattis said at an event at the US Institute of Peace in Washington on Tuesday.
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His call was later echoed by Pompeo, who issued a statement saying, “the United States calls on all parties to support UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths in finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Yemen.”
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Mattis and Pompeo both insisted that the US-backed Saudi-led coalition and the Iranian-aligned Houthis stop their respective aerial and missile bombardments.
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The three-year conflict between Saudi-led coalition and their Iranian-backed enemies has devastated Yemen and killed at least 10,000 people. United Nations experts say that the coalition’s bombing of civilians are potential war crimes and that its partial blockade of the country has put 13 million men, women and children in danger of starvation, in what could become the worst famine in 100 years.
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Griffith said the most pressing factor justifying the US call for a cease-fire was the threat of starvation: “The threat of famine is a very real threat and risks doubling the numbers of people in Yemen who are at risk of dying of hunger or famine. That’s the urgent factor here.”
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Griffith said he believed the US administration is taking this issue seriously, adding: “Secretary Mattis and Secretary Pompeo are on this day and night” but acknowledged “the challenge now is to turn this call into action.”
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Outrage over the situation has created increasing pressure on the US to pull its support for the coalition, which it provides in the form of military sales, training and refueling of coalition jets.
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Saudi Arabia’s belated admission that Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist and US resident, was murdered by a team with close ties to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has left the Trump administration — including the President himself — feeling stung by Saudi Arabia.
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After initial strong denials, the kingdom has produced multiple explanations. Even after admitting that Khashoggi was murdered by men close to bin Salamn, the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said blaming Saudis for the US resident’s death is “hysterical.”
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Image result for Adel al-Jubeir, photos
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Adel al-Jubeir
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Speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies Manama Dialogue in Bahrain Saturday, al-Jubeir said, “This issue has become fairly hysterical. People have assigned blame on Saudi Arabia with such certainty before the investigation is complete. We have made it very clear that we are going to have a full and very transparent investigation, the results of which will be released.”
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al-Jubeir met with Mattis on Sunday in Bahrain. The defense secretary told reporters traveling with him on his plane to Prague that he had discussed Khashoggi’s death with the Saudi official. “We discussed it,”
.Mattis said, “you know the same thing we talked about, the need for transparency, full and complete investigation, um, full, full agreement from FM Jubeir, no reservations at all, I said we need to know what happened.”
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Trump and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who is the President’s son-in-law, placed a heavy reliance on the powerful crown prince for an overall strategy in the region, despite warnings that the young royal was untested and volatile.
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While American officials previously expressed private displeasure at Mohammed’s intervention in the Yemen war and the Saudi-ordered kidnapping of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, they mostly aired their grievances in private while maintaining in public that the alliance with Saudi Arabia was necessary to counter Iran’s influence.
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Mohammed bin Salman  (Reuters)
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Trump is privately fuming

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But Khashoggi’s murder, and the ensuing coverup, have made it more difficult to keep those grievances private.
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Trump has privately fumed at the Saudis for putting him in the situation of having to defend his decision to fastidiously cultivate a close relationship with Mohammed and his father, King Salman. He and his advisers are in agreement that forcing some kind of resolution on Yemen is a good way to make the best of a bad situation.
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The Saudi stand-off with Qatar, which has fractured a security alliance importance to the US, has been another thorn in the Trump administration’s side.
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Asked Wednesday whether he felt betrayed by the Saudis, Trump suggested it was the kingdom’s leaders that betrayed themselves.
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“I just hope that it all works out. We have a lot of facts, we have a lot of things that we’ve been looking at,” he said. “They haven’t betrayed me. I mean, maybe they betrayed themselves. We’ll have to see how it all turns out.”
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Trump has come to the belief in recent days that the American public is starting to catch on to the Yemen catastrophe, including through powerful images of starving children in the New York Times.
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The Trump administration has been criticized by activists and some members of Congress for its support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen and for the administration’s recent finding that the coalition was doing enough to avoid civilian casualties.
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The US military provides the Saudi collation with training meant to help minimize civilian casualties, as well as aerial refueling of coalition warplanes.
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Mattis said the “goal right now is to achieve a level of capability by those forces fighting against the Houthis, that they are not killing innocent people.”
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“We refuel probably less than … I think 20% of their aircraft. They have their own refuelers, by the way,” Mattis said.
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Congressional pressure

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A congressional source told CNN the Khashoggi murder has “put a face” on the broader problem related to the US-Saudi relationship and renewed momentum on Capitol Hill to push for legislation that would end US involvement in the war in Yemen.
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Previous resolutions aimed at ending US involvement in the war in Yemen have failed to gain approval but various pieces of legislation proposed in recent months have received increasing support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, wrote in a recent op-ed that he plans to bring his resolution to end US involvement in the “unauthorized war” in Yemen back to the floor next month.
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“Because of the privileged resolution that will come to a vote sooner or later and that is certainly something that’s weighed on the administration,” a senior congressional aide told CNN. “I am sure Mattis and Pompeo are well aware of that.”
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Democratic Rep. Ro Khonna also cited Pompeo’s statement in a press release touting his own bipartisan proposal in the House intended to align with the resolution Sanders is pushing in the Senate.
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“It’s about time. After more than three years of war, thousands dead, millions on the brink of starvation, and growing pressure from Congress, the Trump Administration is finally calling for an end to the Saudi-led war in Yemen,” Khonna said in a statement. “We have tremendous leverage over the Saudi-led coalition and should demand this Administration do all in their power to bring both sides to the peace table and end the war.”
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The congressional source also told CNN that efforts to curtail US involvement in Yemen and pressure to respond to Khashoggi’s murder are related in that they both provide evidence of the Saudi government’s and in particular the crown prince’s “recklessness.”
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https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/31/politics/us-saudi-yemen-khashoggi/index.html

See also:

NYT:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/01/world/middleeast/yemen-starvation-amal-hussain.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

The Long Struggle for Supremacy in the Muslim World

October 27, 2018

Turks and Saudis have been enemies for centuries. Now the Khashoggi investigation has rekindled their fierce rivalry—and may upend the politics of the Middle East

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Image result for Erdogan with Muhammad bin Salman, photos
Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
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Two centuries ago, in the fall of 1818, the Saudi monarch was brought to Istanbul in chains. He was displayed in a cage to the cheering crowds outside the Hagia Sophia mosque, and then, amid celebratory fireworks, his head was chopped off.

This gruesome episode in the shared history of Turkey and Saudi Arabia hasn’t been mentioned in public as the two countries have clashed over the Oct. 2 killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul. But the long legacy of rivalry between the two Sunni Muslim powers—both of them key American allies—has fueled Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s determination to punish the House of Saud for Mr. Khashoggi’s death.

In the wake of Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, Mr. Erdogan proclaimed that Turkey “is the only country that can lead the Muslim world.” This, of course, is also the role that the House of Saud sees as its natural right because of the kingdom’s control over Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, and over the hajj pilgrimage that brings more than two million Muslims there each year.

In this contest, Iran—whose Shiite version of Islam represents a small minority of the predominantly Sunni Muslim world—can’t really compete. For now, Tehran is happy to watch from the sidelines as its two main regional rivals undermine each other and leave Western powers with few good options for how to react.

Saudi Arabia’s 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has tried to assert Riyadh’s ambition to lead the Middle East ever since his father ascended to the throne in 2015. In a major departure from Saudi Arabia’s previous policy of behind-the-scenes checkbook diplomacy, Prince Mohammed has built a coalition of Sunni states such as the United Arab Emirates and Egypt to launch a war against Iranian allies in Yemen. He imposed an embargo that unsuccessfully sought regime change in Qatar. He also attempted to meddle in Lebanese politics by forcing that nation’s prime minister to announce during a stay in the kingdom that he would resign, a decision that the prime minister rescinded once he was home.

Saudi Arabia and its allies also have relentlessly pursued the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist political movement hostile to U.S. influence in the region (its affiliates include Hamas). Though professing a commitment to democracy under Islamic law, the Brotherhood has turned autocratic when in power in Egypt and Sudan. Mr. Erdogan has supported the group across the Arab world since the 2011 revolutions of the Arab Spring, and Mr. Khashoggi was sympathetic to some of its aims.

In a friendlier moment, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) met Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China in 2016.
In a friendlier moment, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) met Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China in 2016. PHOTO: KAYHAN OZER/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES
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Mr. Erdogan has made several efforts to resist Saudi Arabia’s rise. He sent Turkish troops to protect Qatar, ousted Saudi allies from Somalia and announced a deal to lease an island across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia in Sudan, possibly for a military base. He has also become a vociferous champion of traditional Muslim causes, such as Palestine, and of new ones, such as the suffering of the Rohingya in Myanmar. Istanbul has turned into a favorite hub for Islamist dissidents from across the Arab world.

“The Turkish president’s foreign policy strategy aims to make Muslims proud again,” said Soner Cagaptay, a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the author of a recent biography of Mr. Erdogan, “The New Sultan.” “Under this vision, a reimagined and modernized version of the Ottoman past, the Turks are to lead Muslims to greatness.”

 Turkey is the main reason that the previous two Saudi states ceased to exist. 

There is a long history behind that claim. For four centuries, the sultan in Istanbul was also the religious leader, or caliph, of the entire Muslim world. His spiritual authority was recognized well beyond the borders of the Ottoman Empire, which at its peak included parts of central and eastern Europe, north Africa and the Arabian peninsula.

The caliphate was abolished only in 1924, six years after the Ottomans lost control over Mecca and Medina to a British-sponsored Arab revolt during World War I. The modern, secular Turkish Republic, which rose from the remnants of the Ottoman Empire after its defeat by the Allied powers, banished the last sultan, Mehmed VI, to Europe in 1922. With the Ottomans gone, the House of Saud quickly expanded from its desert strongholds to much of the Arabian peninsula, first capturing Mecca and then establishing a powerful new state in 1932.

Mr. Khashoggi, as it happens, hailed from a Turkish family that settled in Arabia in the Ottoman age—which is why Turkish newspapers usually spell his surname the Turkish way as Kasikci, which means a spoon maker, to signal his kinship with the country.

The Ottoman Empire’s last Sultan, Mehmed VI, seen in Turkey in 1922, shortly before he was banished and fled to Malta.
The Ottoman Empire’s last Sultan, Mehmed VI, seen in Turkey in 1922, shortly before he was banished and fled to Malta. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
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Until Mr. Erdogan’s embrace of neo-Ottoman politics—and more authoritarian rule—a decade or so ago, the modern Turkish state wasn’t much interested in leading the Muslim world and was content to leave religious proselytizing to Saudi Arabia. Turkey joined NATO, sought membership in the European Union and nurtured close military links with Israel.

Mr. Erdogan’s new Turkey, by contrast, presents a major challenge to Saudi Arabia by offering an alternative Islamic model, said Madawi al Rasheed, a Saudi professor at the London School of Economics and the author of a history of Saudi Arabia. “It is an existential threat to Saudi Arabia because of Turkey’s combination of Islam and a kind of democracy,” she said. “After all, Erdogan is still ruling over a republic that has a parliament, opposition parties and a civil society—while Saudi Arabia has nothing like that.”

Indeed, today’s kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a monarchy as absolute as they come. It’s also the third state run by the House of Saud since the family’s alliance with the puritan preacher Mohammed ibn Abdel Wahhab rallied the Bedouin of the Arabian peninsula under the banner of an uncompromising new creed (since known as Wahhabism) in 1745.

Turkey is the main reason that the previous two Saudi states ceased to exist.

The first disappeared when an Ottoman expeditionary corps comprised mostly of Turkish and Albanian soldiers seized the Saudi capital of Diriya, on the outskirts of Riyadh, on Sept. 11, 1818. The city was razed. According to a Russian diplomatic dispatch, the Turkish sultan then had the captured Saudi ruler, Abdullah bin Saud, escorted to Istanbul, alongside the chief Wahhabi cleric. After the deposed Saudi monarch was beheaded outside the Hagia Sophia, his body was propped up in public for three days with his severed head under his arm. (As for the Wahhabi imam, he was sent to Istanbul’s bazaar for beheading, the diplomat reported.)

In Ottoman eyes, the Saudis were bloodthirsty murderers who had plundered the holy city of Karbala in Ottoman Iraq, slaughtering 4,000 civilian inhabitants (most of them Shiite), and later destroyed many shrines in Mecca and Medina. To celebrate the demise of the Saudi state and the liberation of the two holy mosques, the Ottoman sultan even released debtors from jail across his realm.

In the following decades, a different branch of the House of Saud rebuilt Diriya and reconquered much of the Arabian peninsula, prompting another Ottoman military invasion in 1871. Moving quickly down the Persian Gulf coast, the Ottomans deprived this second Saudi state of much of its territory, seizing the eastern lands that were later found to contain most of the kingdom’s oil. Over the next few years, a rival Arabian tribe loyal to Turkey finished off what remained of the second Saudi realm.

All of this is not quite ancient history. The father of Saudi Arabia’s current King Salman and the founder of the current Saudi state, King Abdulaziz, went from being a vassal of the Ottomans to fighting against the Turks during World War I, when he helped to expel them from Arabia for good. Some of Prince Mohammed’s uncles took part in those battles against the Turks and their local allies.

The Saudis have worked hard since then to eliminate remaining traces of their country’s Ottoman past. In 2002, they razed the historic Ajyad fortress in Mecca, one of many ancient Ottoman buildings that have gone under Saudi bulldozers. “The Saudi royal family will never forget how the Ottoman—the Turkish—soldiers came twice and destroyed their state. People tend to forget it in good times, but it comes back again and again,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a prominent political scientist and former professor in the United Arab Emirates.

 With the Khashoggi affair igniting global outrage, Mr. Erdogan has seized his chance. 

The U.A.E. had its own spat with Mr. Erdogan last December over the Turkish record in Saudi Arabia, after the Emirati foreign minister retweeted a post accusing Fakhreddin Pasha, the last Ottoman governor of Medina, of looting. The governor had the holy city’s ancient library shipped to Istanbul before Medina was besieged in the Arab Revolt, then refused to surrender, ordering the starving Turkish soldiers to subsist on grasshoppers even after the Ottoman sultan conceded defeat in 1918. Mr. Erdogan complained of the Emirati minister’s “impudence,” and Ankara renamed the street on which the U.A.E. embassy is located after the governor, whom Turkey considers a war hero.

Until Mr. Khashoggi’s death, the Saudi-led alliance with the U.A.E. and Egypt seemed to be on the winning side across the region, with Turkey able to depend only on Qatar and possibly Sudan. In part that was because of President Donald Trump’s early bet on Prince Mohammed—a cornerstone of his strategy to contain Iran. It was also a result of Mr. Erdogan’s own moves, such as his overtures to Iran and Russia and his decision to imprison an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, while seeking the extradition of a Pennsylvania-based cleric whom Turkey accuses of organizing the 2016 coup attempt—all of which alienated Washington.

Now, with the Khashoggi affair igniting global outrage, Mr. Erdogan has seized his chance. Turkey’s recent release of Mr. Brunson has allowed a thaw in relations with Washington. A series of leaks by Turkish officials, meanwhile, has forced Saudi Arabia—which initially insisted that Mr. Khashoggi had walked out of the consulate alive—to make an embarrassing about-face, admitting that the journalist was indeed killed by a specially dispatched team on its own diplomatic premises. The Saudis have dismissed two senior officials close to the prince over the incident and have continued to backtrack, saying on Thursday that the killing was premeditated and not, as they initially claimed, the accidental outcome of a “brawl.”

King Abdulaziz, also known as Ibn Saud, seen here in the 1950s, fought the Ottoman empire during the Arab revolt in World War I, and united Saudi Arabia as a state in 1932.
King Abdulaziz, also known as Ibn Saud, seen here in the 1950s, fought the Ottoman empire during the Arab revolt in World War I, and united Saudi Arabia as a state in 1932. PHOTO: ALAMY
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Mr. Erdogan wants the Saudi suspects to stand trial in Turkey and has pointed his finger at the highest levels of the Saudi state. Though Mr. Erdogan himself hasn’t accused Prince Mohammed of killing Mr. Khashoggi, the Turkish leader’s closest aides have done precisely that. Prince Mohammed “is one of the culprits of the murder,” and Saudi Arabia is facing “arguably the most difficult process since it was founded,” wrote Saadet Oruc, one of Mr. Erdogan’s senior advisers, in a Turkish newspaper this week. Prince Mohammed “has Khashoggi’s blood on his hands” and the murder will “linger like a curse” over the prince, concurred another adviser, Ilnur Cevik.

Mr. Erdogan’s aim seems to be to render Prince Mohammed unpresentable on the world stage. More ambitiously, he may hope to pressure the prince’s father, Saudi Arabia’s elderly King Salman, to anoint another successor. “Turkey ultimately wants to erode the influence of MbS internationally, regionally, and to the extent possible, domestically,” said Sinan Ulgen, head of the Edam think tank in Istanbul, referring to the crown prince by his initials. “And already, his image as a reformist leader has been tarnished.”

Prince Mohammed, who made a phone call to Mr. Erdogan on Wednesday, insisted in his first public appearance since Mr. Khashoggi’s death that relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia remain excellent. Prince Mohammed added that as long as he, King Salman and Mr. Erdogan remain in power, nobody would be able to drive a wedge between the two brotherly Muslim nations.

In Ankara, however, memories are still fresh of how Prince Mohammed just a few months ago, on a visit to Egypt, bluntly described Mr. Erdogan as part of a “triangle of evil” alongside Iran and the extremists of Islamic State.

Though Saudi Arabia is far more repressive than Turkey, which does have some independent press and opposition parties, both countries are among the world’s worst human-rights abusers—as, of course, is Iran. Turkey under Mr. Erdogan has imprisoned more journalists than any other state, press-freedom groups say. It has also pursued opponents abroad with its own program of renditions, though it doesn’t have a death penalty.

Thanks to the Khashoggi affair, however, Mr. Erdogan’s Turkey can finally credibly claim the moral high ground—a major boon for Ankara’s regional ambitions.

“One of the astonishing ironies of the entire episode is how the leading jailer of journalists in the world is now a paragon of press freedom and protections,” said Steven Cook, a senior fellow for the Middle East at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. “Not only that, but Turkey, which has been a wholly irresponsible actor on Iran, Syria, Middle East peace, even stability in the Horn of Africa, now looks like a source of regional stability in comparison to the reckless Saudis.”

Write to Yaroslav Trofimov at yaroslav.trofimov@wsj.com

Appeared in the October 27, 2018, print edition as ‘The Long Struggle for Supremacy In the Muslim World A Tense Past Divides Muslim Rivals.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-long-struggle-for-supremacy-in-the-muslim-world-1540572987

Saudi Crown Prince begins reform of intelligence services

October 26, 2018

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman chaired the first meeting on Thursday of a special committee to reform Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services.

The restructuring was ordered by King Salman after the murder in Istanbul of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

The committee assessed the General Intelligence Presidency’s current organizational structure and identified any gaps in its legal framework, policies and procedures. Khashoggi, 59, a Saudi journalist resident in the US, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, after he visited to complete paperwork related to his divorce.

Saudi Arabia has said his death was the result of a “rogue operation” by people acting beyond the scope of their authority, and 18 Saudis have been arrested.

As the investigation continues, the Saudi public prosecution said on Thursday the killing was premeditated.

“Information from the Turkish authorities indicates that the act of the suspects in the Khashoggi case was premeditated,” Attorney General Sheikh Saud Al-Mojeb’s office said.

“The public prosecution continues its investigation with suspects… to complete the course of justice.”

The crown prince told the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh on Wednesday “justice will prevail” in the Khashoggi case.

“The incident was very painful for all Saudis. It was a repulsive incident, and no one can justify it,” he said.

Prince Mohammed said Saudi Arabia and Turkey would work together “to reach results” and he described cooperation between the two countries as “special.”

Arab News

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1394031/saudi-arabia

Saudi Arabia pledges $3bn to Pakistan, defers oil payments

October 24, 2018

Saudi Arabia has pledged $3 billion in support to Pakistan and allowed for deferred oil payments to help stave off a budget crisis.

The deal came as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan attended the opening of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh on Tuesday.

Earlier Khan met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss bilateral issues. It was his second visit to the Kingdom in just over a month.

In this handout photograph released by Pakistan’s Press Information Department (PID) on October 23, 2018, Saudi King Salman meets with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan during a meeting in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia. (AFP)

“It was agreed Saudi Arabia will place a deposit of $3 billion for a period of one year as balance of payment support,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“It was also agreed that a one-year deferred payment facility for import of oil, up to $3 billion, will be provided by Saudi Arabia. This arrangement will be in place for three years, which will be reviewed thereafter.”

During his address to the gathering of global business executives, Khan also confirmed that Pakistan was in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a new bailout.

Pakistan is seeking foreign aid to help plug a massive budgetary gap which the Pakistan prime minister has blamed on the mismanagement of the previous administration. During his election campaign, the former cricketer vowed to create 10 million jobs and establish an “Islamic welfare state.”

After a consultative visit last month, the IMF had warned that Pakistan needed to quickly secure “significant external financing” to avert a crisis.

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have also discussed potential investment in mineral resources in Balochistan, the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces which borders Iran and Afghanistan.

Further discussions were held about a refinery project in Pakistan, the Finance Ministry said in the statement.

Pakistan’s external balance of payments represents one of the biggest challenges facing Khan.

The country’s current account deficit has ballooned as its central bank’s foreign reserves dropped to about $8.1 billion in October.

That was barely enough to meet the country’s sovereign borrowings between now and the end of the year.

The IMF expects Pakistan’s economic growth to slow to about 4 percent in 2019.

Pakistan is seeking to attract increased inward investment to help shore up its finances and Khan used the event as platform to talk about opportunities in sectors such as tourism, minerals, coal and gas exploration.

He also highlighted what he said were the successes of Pakistan in the fight against terrorism, which has brought peace and stability to the country, and pointed to the significance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

China has become an increasingly high-profile investor in Pakistan as Beijing pushes ahead with major projects such as the CPEC.

Arab News

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1392701/saudi-arabia

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