Posts Tagged ‘Muslim Brotherhood’

Roseanne Back on Twitter Hours After ABC Killed Her Show

May 30, 2018

Roseanne Barr returned to Twitter on Tuesday night just after losing her television show over a racist tweetstorm.

The disgraced television star returned to retweet her supporters after an hours-long hiatus where she tweeted, “I apologize. I am now leaving Twitter.”

“Don’t feel sorry for me, guys!!” Barr wrote.

“I just want to apologize to the hundreds of people,and wonderful writers (all liberal) and talented actors who lost their jobs on my show due to my stupid tweet. I will be on Joe Rogan’s podcast friday.”

Barr retweeted a mocked-up image of Whoopi Goldberg, along with other messages supported her claims.

Earlier, Barr had compared former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett to the offspring of the “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes.”

She apologized to Jarrett on Tuesday night while continuing to attack her.

“@ValerieJarrett I want to apologize to you. I am very sorry to have hurt you,” she wrote.

“I hope you can accept this sincere apology!”

But Barr also retweeted a false quote that purports to be from Valerie Jarrett’s yearbook.

In the fake quote, she allegedly proclaimed herself to be an Iranian who sought “to help change America to be a more Islamic country.”

She later tweeted about her comments “I was ambien tweeting … I made a mistake I wish I hadn’t.”

Barr also went after conservative boogeyman, George Soros, who she earlier claimed was a “Nazi” who “turned in his fellow Jews.”

“I have personally witnessed @therealroseanne speak out against antiSemitism for as long as I have been on Twitter,” said another retweet from Barr.

“@georgesoros on the other hand, was working with the Nazis by his own admission. This isn’t rocket science.”

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Palestinians are angry at both Israel and their own leaders and believe they have nothing to lose

April 4, 2018
Bloomberg
Nothing left to lose.

 Photographer: Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images

The violence last Friday in Gaza, in which 18 Palestinian protesters were killed by Israeli troops near the border, was the worst since the war of 2014. But everything is in place for a significant escalation in coming weeks, particularly in mid-May.

A series of major tripwires are clustered tightly together: commemorations of the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding on May 14-15; mourning by Palestinians who regard the same event as their “catastrophe” and observe May 15 as “Nakba Day”; and the scheduled opening of a U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, courtesy of the administration of President Donald Trump.

Things are likely to get worse because Palestinians increasingly feel they have nothing left to lose. The “March of Return” last week drew unprecedented crowds of up to 30,000 Palestinians from all parts of Gaza society. In a festive and surreal atmosphere, vendors sold ice cream to picnicking families as young men risked their lives by approaching the border.

Over 90 percent of Gaza’s almost 2 million people are refugees from what is now southern Israel. Unlike most other Palestinians, they are still geographically close to the towns and villages from which they were displaced in 1947-48. Since its founding, Israel has had one primary response to Palestinians, armed or not, attempting to go home without permission. The Israeli military reiterated that anyone approaching within 300 meters of the border would face a shoot-to-kill policy.

But things are so bad in the wretched open-air prison of Gaza that the only surprise is that the death toll wasn’t even higher.

One of the most densely populated places on earth, Gaza is now barely habitable. Hunger is rampant. Water is undrinkable. Unemployment is close to 50 percent. Health-care is scanty at best. Electricity is available just two to four hours per day. The once-beautiful seacoast is now a giant sewer. And there’s virtually no way in or out of the territory which, since a violent takeover in 2007 by the Islamist faction Hamas, has been under a lockdown by Israel and Egypt.

For more than 10 years, the people of Gaza have been subjected to the misrule of Hamas, the heavily armed Muslim Brotherhood faction that exploits and intensifies their misery. Last summer, Hamas attempted to use a fictional “reconciliation” agreement with its Fatah rivals, who control the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, to get out of this stranglehold. Hamas sought to get the Palestinian Authority to take up the burden of administration in Gaza, secure badly needed aid and reconstruction money, and, most importantly, win themselves a new foothold in the West Bank, where they have been frozen out since the Palestinian factions split in 2007.

But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made reconciliation contingent on Hamas disarming, which the militant group won’t consider. Hamas was left virtually without options.

QuickTakeTwo-State Solution

Abbas, too, is badly adrift. He staked his entire career on negotiations with Israel, brokered by the U.S. But that “peace process” has been frozen since the first term of President Barack Obama, and Israel is moving closer to annexing large chunks of the West Bank. Virtually no Palestinians believe anymore that Israel will ever agree to end the occupation and allow them to create their own state.

The Trump administration has reinforced this conviction by abandoning Washington’s long-standing commitment to a two-state outcome, and has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Abbas’s diplomatic strategy therefore now looks like the ultimate fiasco.

The last straw for Abbas came in March, when Hamas tried to assassinate his prime minister, Rami Hamdallah.

Enraged, Abbas has lashed out at all his antagonists in a recent series of unhinged speeches. He bitterly denounced Israel and castigated the Trump administration, describing its peace efforts as “the slap of the century” and calling the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a “son of a dog.” He excoriated Hamas followers as terrorist “thugs and hooligans,” and said the only reason their operatives weren’t being killed all over the world in revenge is that he won’t sink to their murderous level.

Abbas announced a new series of harsh sanctions against Hamas and Gaza, and has been prodding Hamas and Israel toward another conflict, hoping to be the prime beneficiary as his two adversaries scorch each other while Washington scrambles to douse the flames.

With Hamas’s militancy and Abbas’s diplomacy both thoroughly discredited, Palestinian civilians are desperate for a new political dynamic. The recent “March of Return” protests originally promised that, but Hamas has thus far managed to hijack them. Yet if the protest movement leads to another war with Israel, the result could prove catastrophic for Hamas’s political viability. And if widespread unrest spreads to the West Bank, that could fatally undermine the Palestinian Authority.

Both Palestinian Islamists and nationalists are out of options, out of ideas, and out of luck. The Palestinian public is out of patience and nearly out of hope. That’s a combustible formula.

A series of demonstrations in the coming weeks has already been scheduled in Gaza, beginning next Friday. But the mid-May commemorations, set against this backdrop of frustration and despair, look incredibly dangerous.

When an entire people, at almost every level of society and across the political and religious spectrum, seem to have concluded they have nothing to hope for and nothing to lose — that all their dreams will remain deferred for the foreseeable future — an explosion may be inevitable.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Hussein Ibish at hussein.ibish@gmail.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Jonathan Landman at jlandman4@bloomberg.net

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-04-04/israel-palestine-gaza-violence-is-about-to-get-worse

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Iranian leader worse than Hitler, absolute monarchy is cool – Saudi crown prince

April 4, 2018

Russia Today (RT)

Image may contain: 1 person, hat, beard and closeup

© Charles Platiau / Reuters

Seemingly discontent with just being the darling of the British establishment, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) is on a charm offensive to win over the American public as well.

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The crown prince must have figured the surefire way to impress the US political establishment was by glorifying Israel and demonizing Iran, judging by his wide-ranging puff interview with The Atlantic’s editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, on Monday.

Channelling former President George W. Bush’s speechwriter, David Frum, MbS described his kingdom’s enemies as the “triangle of evil,” talking about Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and Sunni terror groups like Al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

“I believe the Iranian supreme leader makes Hitler look good,” bin Salman told Goldberg, without any trace of irony ‒ or evidence. “Hitler didn’t do what the supreme leader is trying to do. Hitler tried to conquer Europe. … The supreme leader is trying to conquer the world.”

It was when speaking about Israel, however, that MbS brought out the big guns (though not the ones he bought from the US) in his charm offensive. According to Goldberg, MbS “did not have a bad word to say” about Israel.

To Goldberg’s question whether the Jewish people had the right to a nation-state in at least a part of present-day Israel, the crown prince replied: “I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation. I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land.”

Though the interview took place before the recent killing of 18 Palestinians by Israeli authorities, Goldberg speculated that the incident would not have changed the crown prince’s mind.

“My meeting with Prince Mohammed took place before the recent fatal violence on the Gaza-Israel border, but I do not believe that the crown prince would have moderated his views in light of these events,” Goldberg wrote. “The Saudis, like many Arab leaders, have tired of the Palestinians.”

Mind you, that is the assessment of the Atlantic editor, who is known as an outspoken Zionist and served in the Israeli military, rather than the Saudi crown prince. Filtering the subject through his personal prism is not a bug, but a feature of Goldberg interviews – such as the one with former President Barack Obama, published in March 2016.

“If Prince Mohammed actually achieves what he says he wants to achieve, the Middle East will be a changed place,” Goldberg tells the readers, describing how the crown prince was “jovial to the point of ebullience” when they met at a Saudi-owned compound outside Washington.

The crown prince’s handlers “frowned with concern when it seemed as if the prince was veering toward bluntness,” such as when the conversations turned to Saudi Arabia’s laws restricting the behavior of women.

“Before 1979 there were societal guardianship customs, but no guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia,” MbS said. “It doesn’t go back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad. In the 1960s women didn’t travel with male guardians. But it happens now, and we want to move on it and figure out a way to treat this that doesn’t harm families and doesn’t harm the culture.”

In Goldberg’s interpretation, 1979 was a “hinge year in Saudi history,” when the Iranian revolution and the Sunni extremists’ siege of the Grand Mosque in Mecca “caused a conservative backlash in the kingdom.” So you see, it’s the “triangle of evil” that’s really to blame for the position of Saudi women, not the progressive MbS!

Asked if he intends to do something about it, however, the crown prince replied: “There are a lot of conservative families in Saudi Arabia. There are a lot of families divided inside.”

What about the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen that’s been going on since March 2015, at the cost of thousands of civilian lives?

“Saudi Arabia is trying to help the people of Yemen,” bin Salman said.

Freedom of speech? There are three lines one must not cross in Saudi Arabia. “You cannot defame Islam,” MbS said. The second is, one may criticize an institution but not the person, as a matter of Saudi culture. Thirdly, “anything that touches the national security, we cannot risk.”

“But other than that, people have the freedom to do whatever they want to do,” he added.

Goldberg explained that he won’t be asking the crown prince about corruption, “in part because it is a difficult-to-define concept in a country named for its ruling family, the expropriation of national wealth being a defining feature of absolute monarchies.”

For all of his professed admiration of modernity and globalization, bin Salman is a big fan of autocracy.

“If it were not for absolute monarchy, you wouldn’t have the United States,” he explained, pointing out the support for the American founders from the French King Louis XVI.

https://www.rt.com/news/423010-saudi-salman-iran-hitler/

The Saudis Take On Radical Islam

March 20, 2018

The crown prince charts a course toward moderation, which prevailed before the 1979 attack on Mecca.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Future Investment Initiative Conference, Oct. 24.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Future Investment Initiative Conference, Oct. 24. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

The year 1979 was a watershed for the Middle East. Iranian revolutionaries overthrew the shah, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and Sunni Islamic extremists tried to take over the Grand Mosque of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, Islam’s holiest shrine. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hadn’t been born, but he is fighting the ghosts of 1979 as he dramatically reforms the kingdom.

The attempted takeover of Mecca was a defining event in my country, mainly because of what happened next. Saudi rulers, fearing Iran’s revolutionary example, decided to give more space to the Salafi clerical establishment in hope of countering the radicals. Traditional Salafi preachers are neither violent nor political, but they hold a rigid view of Islam. Their legal rulings and attempts to police morals made the kingdom increasingly intolerant, setting back the gradual opening up that had occurred in the 1960s and ’70s.

In Saudi schools, education was largely in the hands of foreign nationals, many with Muslim Brotherhood backgrounds. In the 1960s and ’70s, Saudi Arabia was more concerned with Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Arab nationalism than with Islamist radicalism. Thus the Muslim Brotherhood wasn’t much of a worry. But the combination of the brotherhood’s political outlook and the rigid Salafi doctrine injected a virus into the Saudi education system. That virus allowed Osama bin Laden to recruit 15 Saudis to take part in that terrible deed on Sept. 11, 2001. We Saudis failed those young men, and that failure had global implications.

The Salafi clerics and Muslim Brotherhood imports also worked in concert as they were given unsupervised access to private donations to fund mosques and madrasas from Karachi to Cairo, where they generally favored the most conservative preachers.

The policy makers’ idea was simple: Give the political Islamists and their Salafi affiliates room to influence educational, judicial and religious affairs, and we will continue to control foreign policy, the economy, and defense. Saudi rulers were handling the hardware, while radicals rewrote the nation’s software. Saudi society, and the Muslim world, is still reeling from the effects.

Crown Prince Mohammed’s critics describe him as a young man in a hurry. They’re right—and he should be. As he told all of us in his cabinet constantly: “Time is our enemy. We cannot wait any longer to reform our country. The time is now.”

He is clear about the problem. “Political Islam, whether Sunni or Shiite, Muslim Brotherhood or jihadi Salafist, has damaged Muslim nations,” he once told me. “It also gives Islam a bad name. Therefore, it is the role of Muslim countries to face these evil ideologies and groups and to stand with our world allies in the West and East to confront them once and for all.”

King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed have already ushered in some head-spinning changes. The crown prince has led the effort to roll back the powerful religious police. These self-righteous moralizers no longer have the right to stop anyone on the street or take matters into their own hands. They have been effectively marginalized.

The king and crown prince have granted women their long-awaited rights to drive and attend sports. Women are no longer required to wear headscarves. I expect to see more women appointed to senior positions in government, even at the ministerial level. Once Saudi Arabia unleashes the potential of women, there is no telling how far we can go.

Building on the past decade’s education reforms, the crown prince has launched the MiSK Foundation to provide young Saudis with world-class skills training. He has also led the way in normalizing life in Saudi Arabia for young people, who are increasingly fed up by social restrictions. The new General Entertainment Authority is giving Saudis foreign concerts, theater and cinemas and soon a Royal Opera House.

He has done something more intangible but also vital: bridged the deep generational divide between ruler and ruled. Like some three-fourths of Saudis, he is under 35. He speaks their language. He uses their apps. He knows their frustrations, including with corruption.

The recent crackdown on corruption should be seen in this light. Business as usual was not working, and the crown prince was willing to pull up the carpet to clean the rot underneath.

At an October 2017 conference for international investors, Crown Prince Mohammed laid out his ideas for moderate Islam. “Saudi Arabia was not like this before 1979,” he said. “We want to go back to what we were, the moderate Islam that’s open to all religions. We want to live a normal life . . . coexist and contribute to the world. . . . We will not spend the next 30 years of our lives dealing with these destructive ideas.”

During my time in office, I came to realize that while Saudi Arabia will continue to face challenges, for the first time in four decades the ghosts haunting Saudi Arabia are in retreat. Mistakes are inevitable, and there is no universal guidebook on how to reform a country. But leaders like the late Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore show how far a country can go with the right policies.

Saudi Arabia has a long journey ahead. It will not be without bumps and bruises. Change never comes easy. But the crown prince has raised expectations dramatically. The genie is out of the bottle, and it can’t go back in.

Mr. Al-Toraifi was Saudi minister of culture and information, 2015-17.

Appeared in the March 20, 2018, print edition.

Saudi crown prince discusses anti-corruption crackdown, threats posed by Iran, more

March 19, 2018

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

JEDDAH:  Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed has said the anti-corruption crackdown he initiated in the Kingdom was “extremely necessary” because roughly $20 billion of state funds was “disappearing” every year.

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In a wide-ranging interview aired by CBS television on “60 Minutes” on Sunday, the crown prince also spoke about the threats posed by Iran and its proxies across the region and the reforms being undertaken in the Kingdom to fight extremism.
The crown prince said that if Iran acquired a nuclear weapon then Saudi Arabia will too.
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CBS anchorwoman Norah O’Donnell interviewed the crown prince in Riyadh two weeks ago, shortly before he left for his visit to Egypt and Britain.
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O’Donnell earlier said there were “no time restrictions and no preconditions” and that the crown prince spoke candidly.
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The crown prince said Saudi Arabia has recovered more than $100 billion so far in its crackdown against corruption.
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“The amount exceeds $100 billion, but the real objective was not this amount or any other amount. The idea is not to get money, but to punish the corrupt and send a clear signal that whoever engages in corrupt deals will face the law,” he said.
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During the crackdown last November, the Kingdom detained a big number of incumbent and former government ministers, prominent businessmen, and at least 11 princes who were accused of corruption.
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The accused were held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel for some time until they either returned what they have been accused of stealing from the government or proved their innocence.
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On reports of human rights abuses in the Kingdom, Prince Mohammed assured that “Saudi Arabia believes in many of the principles of human rights.”
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“In fact, we believe in the notion of human rights, but ultimately Saudi standards are not the same as American standards. I don’t want to say that we don’t have shortcomings. We certainly do. But naturally, we are working to mend these shortcomings,” he said.

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Religious tolerance, women rights
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Prince Mohammed said that his country was not always like what it has been in the last 40 years. “We were living a very normal life like the rest of the Gulf countries. Women were driving cars. There were movie theaters in Saudi Arabia. Women worked everywhere. We were just normal people developing like any other country in the world until the events of 1979,” he said.
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The widespread perception of the Kingdom as a place with harsh Islamic laws impacted the youth of the country, recalled the crown prince, “After 1979, that’s true. We were victims, especially my generation that suffered from this a great deal.”
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“We have extremists who forbid mixing between the two sexes and are unable to differentiate between a man and a woman alone together and their being together in a workplace. Many of those ideas contradict the way of life during the time of the Prophet and the Caliphs. This is the real example and the true model,” he said.
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The prince was asked if women were equal to men. “Absolutely. We are all human beings and there is no difference,” he said.
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On the issue of women’s dress code and the stipulations of the Sharia, the crown prince said: “Women wear decent, respectful clothing, like men. This, however, does not particularly specify a black abaya or a black head cover. The decision is entirely left for women to decide what type of decent and respectful attire she chooses to wear.”
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With a ban lifted on women driving in the Kingdom and women getting ready to sit behind the wheel this June, the crown prince was again asked the issue of women and driving in Saudi Arabia. He said: “This is no longer an issue. Today, driving schools have been established and will open soon. In a few months, women will drive in Saudi Arabia. We are finally over that painful period that we cannot justify.” The crown prince also said work is underway to a new initiative to introduce regulations ensuring equal pay for men and women.
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Prince Mohammed promised to eradicate any trace of extremist elements in the Kingdom’s educational institutions. “Saudi schools have been invaded by many elements from the Muslim Brotherhood organization, surely to a great extent. Even now, there are some elements left. It will be a short while until they are all eradicated completely,” he said, adding “no country in the world would accept that its educational system be invaded by any radical group.”
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Regional security
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On regional security, the crown prince said Iran poses a clear and present danger. He likened Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, to Hitler, adding that the Iranian mullah’s expansionist plans poses a serious threat to the security of the Middle East.
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“He wants to expand. He wants to create his own project in the Middle East very much like Hitler who wanted to expand at the time. Many countries around the world and in Europe did not realize how dangerous Hitler was until what happened, happened. I don’t want to see the same events happening in the Middle East,” he said.
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Prince Mohammed said Saudi Arabia has no interest in acquiring a nuclear bomb, but “if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.”
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Crown Prince Mohammed, who is also the defense minister, said Iranian ideology had infiltrated parts of neighbor Yemen. “During that time, this militia was conducting military maneuvers right next to our borders and positioning missiles at our borders,” he said, referring to the Houthi militia that is fighting the UN-recognized Yemen government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
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Houthi militias have launched missiles toward Saudi Arabia’s Makkah region and at the capital, Riyadh. Scores of civilians have also been killed or hurt in these strikes. Most of these missiles have been traced to Iran.
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“I can’t imagine that the United States will accept one day to have a militia in Mexico launching missiles on Washington D.C., New York and LA while Americans are watching these missiles and doing nothing,” he added.

He said the catastrophe in Yemen was ’truly very painful’ and hoped the Houthi militia “ceases using the humanitarian situation to their advantage in order to draw sympathy from the international community. They block humanitarian aid in order to create famine and a humanitarian crisis.”

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On the suggestion that what was happening in Yemen was a proxy war, the crown prince said: “Unfortunately, Iran is playing a harmful role. The Iranian regime is based on pure ideology. Many of the Al-Qaeda operatives are protected in Iran and it refuses to surrender them to justice, and continues to refuse to extradite them to the United States. This includes the son of Osama bin Laden, the new leader of Al-Qaeda. He lives in Iran and works out of Iran. He is supported by Iran.”
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“Iran is not a rival to Saudi Arabia. Its army is not among the top five armies in the Muslim world. The Saudi economy is larger than the Iranian economy.  Iran is far from being equal to Saudi Arabia,” He said.
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Personal wealth
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Asked to comment on news reports on his personal wealth, he said: “My personal life is something I’d like to keep to myself and I don’t try to draw attention to it. If some newspapers want to point something out about it, that’s up to them. As far as my private expenses, I’m a rich person and not a poor person. I’m not Gandhi or Mandela. I’m a member of the ruling family that existed for hundreds of years before the founding of Saudi Arabia. We own very large lots of land, and my personal life is the same as it was 10 or 20 years ago. But what I do as a person is to spend part of my personal income on charity. I spend at least 51% on people and 49 on myself.”
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The crown prince talked warmly about his father, King Salman’s fondness for history and how he would foster a love of reading in his children’ “He loves history very much. He is an avid reader of history. Each week, he would assign each one of us a book. And at the end of the week, he would ask us about the content of that book. The king always says, “If you read the history of a thousand years, you have the experience of a thousand years,” the crown prince recounted.
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When the 32-year-old heir to the throne was posed the prospect of him shaping the Kingdom’s future for the next 50 years, he said “only God knows how long one will live.”
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Can anything stop Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman? “Only death,” he said.
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Qatar Doubles Down on PR Campaign Appealing to U.S. Jews and D.C. Insiders

January 18, 2018

A visit to the emirate by Alan Dershowitz, meetings with Jewish organizations and promises of a new attitude toward Israel: Qatar is working hard to change its image as a Hamas-supporting state, but some in Washington remain unconvinced

By  

Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, left, shaking hands with U.S. President Donald Trump in Riyadh, May 21, 2017.
Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, left, shaking hands with U.S. President Donald Trump in Riyadh, May 21, 2017.Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

WASHINGTON – Qatar has recently expanded its public relations effort aimed at improving its image in the United States, including within the Jewish community.

The wealthy emirate, often criticized for having ties to Hamas, has invited influential American public figures – some of them with close ties to the Trump administration – to visit and meet with its senior leadership, which denies providing support to the Gaza Islamist group and other terror organizations.

Last week, prominent New York attorney Alan Dershowitz published an article on the Hill website, following his visit to Qatar at the invitation of the country’s powerful emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. Dershowitz wrote that he was surprised to hear the Qatari response to many of the accusations hurled at the Gulf state, and urged the Trump administration and Congress to reexamine the issue.

Also last week, Qatar hosted former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a leading right-wing media commentator and father of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Huckabee tweeted that he found Doha, Qatar, to be “surprisingly beautiful, modern, and hospitable.”

skip – Mike Huckabee tweet

Another recent visitor to the tiny emirate, whose wealth comes from its huge natural gas reserves, was conservative radio host John Batchelor. He took his popular audio show to Qatar last week at the behest of the country’s leadership, where he was joined by Thaddeus McCotter, a former Republican congressman from Michigan.

The emirate has also flown in representatives of various Washington think tanks on Qatar-funded trips.

Dershowitz, Huckabee and Batchelor all seem to be visiting as part of the Qatari leadership’s efforts to change its reputation among American politicians as a “problematic” nation associated with its support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar hosts some of Hamas’ senior leaders and funds the international media network Al Jazeera, whom neighboring Arab countries have accused of supporting Islamist movements and of destabilizing their regimes.

As part of the attempt to push back against these allegations, Qatar has hired the services of Nick Muzin, a public relations adviser who previously worked as a senior staffer to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

skip – Nick Muzin tweet

An Orthodox Jew, Muzin has used his contacts within the Republican Party and the Jewish community to find an ear for Qatar’s arguments in Washington and New York – at a time when the emirate is facing a severe crisis because of attempts by Saudi Arabia to isolate it economically and diplomatically.

When Qatar’s hiring of Muzin’s Stonington Strategies firm was first revealed last summer – for a reported monthly fee of $50,000 – it raised eyebrows in Jewish and conservative circles because of Muzin’s professional background. Cruz, his former boss, has called for the Muslim Brotherhood to be designated a terrorist organization, yet Qatar is considered a major Brotherhood supporter in the Arab world.

Who are the good guys?

Muzin’s first attempts to organize meetings for the Qatari emir and crown prince with Jewish-American leaders ran into public opposition and became a source of debate in the Jewish press. Fast forward a few months, though, and it seems the Qatari public outreach effort is slowly beginning to change some minds in Washington and elsewhere.

Dershowitz’s article – titled “Why is Qatar being blockaded and isolated?” – is a good example, especially in light of the author’s reputation as a staunch supporter of Israel.

He wrote he had “just returned from a private visit to Qatar, at the invitation of and paid for by the Emir. I do not represent Qatar’s government and, to be honest, I was initially reluctant to accept his invitation because I had heard that Qatar was contributing to Hamas, which is a terrorist group, and that it was supporting Iran, which is the largest exporter of terrorism in the world. But then I did my own research and concluded that the Qatar issue was more complex and nuanced. So I wanted to see for myself.”

Alan Dershowitz, left, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2010.
Alan Dershowitz, left, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2010.עמוס בן גרשום / לע”

One of the first things that surprised him, Dershowitz wrote, was that as soon as he got to Doha, Qatar’s capital, “I was surprised to read that an Israeli tennis player had been welcomed by the Qatari government to participate in a tennis tournament.” Dershowitz compared this recent event to Saudi Arabia’s refusal last month to allow Israeli chess players to attend the world chess championship held in Riyadh. “Moreover,” he added, “Saudi officials criticized Qatar for allowing an Israeli tennis player to participate in its tournament, and for ordering ‘the Israeli flag to be raised.’”

“This episode,” he concluded, “made clear to me that the Saudis were not necessarily the good guys in their dispute with Qatar.”

After going over Qatar’s reaction to allegations that it supports Hamas and other terror organizations (allegations that Qatar’s leadership denies), Dershowitz wrote: “After hearing these different accounts, I observed that Qatar is quickly becoming the Israel of the Gulf States, surrounded by enemies, subject to boycotts and unrealistic demands, and struggling for its survival. I heard a lot of positive statements regarding Israel from Qatari leaders as well as hints of commercial relationships between these isolated nations.”

In a conversation with Haaretz on Tuesday, Dershowitz emphasized that he has “not come to any firm conclusions” about Qatar’s ties to Hamas, Iran and other problematic actors in the region. He did, however, leave the emirate with “somewhat more nuanced” views, as “there appear to be two sides to the story.”

A group of Palestinian women holding Qatar flags and banners during a demonstration in support of Qatar, in Khan Yunis, Gaza, June 14, 2017.
A group of Palestinian women holding Qatar flags and banners during a pro-Qatar demonstration in Khan Yunis, Gaza, June 14, 2017. The gulf state’s support of Hamas remains a big stumbling block.Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency

Dershowitz explained that he asked the emir and other senior Qatari officials to assist with the release of two Israeli citizens currently being held in Gaza, as well as the return of the bodies of two slain Israeli soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, killed in action during the 2014 Gaza war. “They told me they’re trying,” he said, stopping short of providing more details on the sensitive subject.

Coincidentally, on Monday – shortly after the publication of Dershowitz’s article and the culmination of Huckabee’s Qatar visit – U.S. President Donald Trump talked with the emir by phone. A White House readout of that conversation stated: “The President thanked the Emir for Qatari action to counter terrorism and extremism in all forms, including being one of the few countries to move forward on a bilateral memorandum of understanding.” It continued: “The leaders discussed areas in which the United States and Qatar can partner to bring more stability to the region, counter malign Iranian influence, and defeat terrorism.”

One person unmoved by Dershowitz’s article was Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of the D.C. think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He has written extensively in recent years about Qatar’s ties to Hamas and other terror organizations. “Stick to what you know,” Schanzer tweeted Dershowitz. “Happy to brief you sometime on Qatar. Doha is bad news.” And in a subsequent tweet, Schanzer added: “The man [Dershowitz] defends Israel until he’s blue in the face and then normalizes Hamas’s top patron.”

Dershowitz responded, “Happy to hear facts. Not conclusions. I make up my own mind based on facts.”

skip – Jonathan Schanzer tweet

skip – Alan Dershowitz tweet

Schanzer told Haaretz on Wednesday that “there is nothing wrong with analysts and intellectuals traveling to Qatar to learn about the situation there. The problem is that during those visits, they’re not hearing the other side of the story. They are getting the government line and then they go home. They need to hear also from Qatar’s critics. There is a lot of material they should become aware of about Qatar’s ties to Hamas, Al-Qaida, the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood and other problematic actors.”

Schanzer previously called to designate Qatar as a state sponsor of terrorism for its ties to these groups. “If you really want to see all sides of the story,” he told Haaretz, “you’re not going to get it in Doha.”

The problem with Qatar

Qatar is not only inviting opinion formers to Doha – it is also working to bring its arguments to Washington. Last week, the Qatari minister in charge of aid and assistance to Gaza, Mohammed al-Emadi, visited the U.S. capital, where he met with, among others, members of Congress and diplomats. Emadi came to Washington partly because he is the rare example of an Arab diplomat who, according to press reports, works on a regular basis with Israeli security officials as part of Qatar’s efforts to help reconstruct the Gaza Strip following the 2014 war. By presenting him to decision-makers and influencers in the U.S. capital, the emirate is hoping to convince them it has a positive impact in Gaza and is working with Israel to improve the situation there.

“The frustration with Qatar,” said an Israeli official who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue, “is that they do some good things in Gaza. But at the same time, there are problems arising from their use of Al Jazeera and their ties with Hamas. It’s a complicated situation. They are one of the only countries in the world that truly cares about improving the situation in Gaza. They’re also one of the only countries that has ties to all the bad guys in the region – Hamas, Sunni Islamists and Iran.”

A Qatari woman walking in front of the city skyline in Doha, Qatar.
A Qatari woman walking in front of the city skyline in Doha, Qatar.Kamran Jebreili/AP

Zionist Organization of America President Morton Klein told Haaretz that he has discussed Qatar’s policies with Muzin, whom he has “known and worked closely with for a number of years – ever since he was an important staffer for Sen. Cruz.” Last September, Klein refused to meet with the Qatari leadership, accusing the regime of funding “Islamic terrorists who aim to murder Jews, Americans, Christians and even fellow Muslims.”

This week, though, Klein said that while he still has many doubts about Qatar’s role in the region, he is open to hearing the arguments being fleshed out by Dershowitz and others. “I think Dershowitz’s article was totally reasonable,” Klein said. “I think we should check out their claims. If they’re true, then there’s no reason not to go there and engage in dialogue with them. But if they’re lying, then we should have nothing to do with them.”

Klein added, though, that Qatar has to stop airing incitement on Al Jazeera if it ever wants to win the trust of the United States and Israel.

With regards to his conversations with Muzin, Klein said the PR maven “made it clear to me that he wouldn’t take on the job of working for Qatar unless he was assured by the leaders of Qatar that their goal is to make Qatar a more free and civilized society, and to do something about the problems with Al Jazeera.”

Qatar still faces significant criticism on Capitol Hill. Last October, two Republican members of Congress published an article titled “It’s Up to Congress to Hold Qatar Accountable.” Reps. Dan Donovan and Brian Fitzpatrick – both members of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa – wrote that “Qatar is the master of playing all sides. The same country that served as the U.S. Central Command headquarters during the invasion of Iraq and still hosts a critical American air base today also sponsors Hamas’s anti-Israel agenda, gives sanctuary to terrorist leaders and spreads its wealth to terrorist and extremist groups throughout the Middle East.”

In November, a Democratic consulting firm, Bluelight Strategies, which has also worked with Qatari opposition leaders opposing the country’s regime, circulated a political memo among Democrats in Congress urging them to attack Republicans and the Trump administration for turning a blind eye to Qatar’s ties with Hamas and other terror groups. The memo, titled “Emerging GOP Vulnerability on Terrorism, Iran and Israel,” highlighted the Trump administration’s confusing policy regarding the Gulf crisis, and urged Democrats to speak out on the issue: “The more the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans are called out for embracing Hamas state sponsorship of terrorism, the more the message will penetrate.”

This view of Qatar as a country that tries to have it both ways is still prevalent in Washington and, as of now, it remains the main challenge standing in the way of the emirate’s charm offensive.

A man walking past a branch of Qatar National Bank (QNB) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 5, 2017.
A man walking past a branch of Qatar National Bank (QNB) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 5, 2017. Qatar is looking to make friends in Washington after the Saudis triggered a diplomatic crisis.\ Faisal Nasser/REUTERS

Qatar slammed for funding ‘terrorist’ Muslim Brotherhood in UK

January 8, 2018

LONDON: Qatar has been strongly criticized for its alleged funding of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK by a senior British Army veteran and counter-insurgency expert, who also called the group a “terrorist organization.”

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Col. Tim Collins, who served in Northern Ireland and the second Iraq War, was speaking in Westminster and said the Muslim Brotherhood was a problem in the UK and that the government needed to challenge it more.
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He also hit out at Qatar for allegedly funding the organization, questioning why they would “hurt a friend.”
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“(The Muslim Brotherhood) has been a problem and continues to be a problem in the United Kingdom and we need to challenge it — and indeed it is challenging our response to terrorism,” Collins told Arab News.
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“In fairness to Turkey they are not actively promoting it in this country. I understand why they would have a close relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood given the nature of Turkish politics, but the Qataris are actively funding this, what do they think they are doing?”
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“We are a close ally and we stood by them in tumultuous times. They’ve been isolated in the Gulf yet we’ve stood by them, we have to ask them to show their friendship and comradeship and stop doing this.
“It’s not using leverage, what you say to friends is ‘why are you hurting us, why are you doing this?’”
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Four years ago the UK government ordered a review into the Muslim Brotherhood. The result, the Jenkins Commission, concluded that the organization — while outwardly purporting peaceful means to promote its agenda — was willing to use violence and terror in pursuit of its long-term goals and that aspects of its ideology and tactics “are contrary to the (UK’s) national interests and security.”
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Collins however, said that he would go further and describe the Brotherhood as an out and out terror group.
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“I believe they are a terrorist organization,” he said.
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“They have tried to rubbish and make an issue out of the Contest (UK counter-terrorism) strategy – that which is there to confront radical Islam.
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“We have to work with allies and friends to reduce (the Muslim Brotherhood’s) influence.
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“We have to be careful we don’t want to sow disharmony in our attempts to reduce its influence. We need to challenge it and to do so in such a way we don’t offend, isolate or alienate our Muslim population so we have to be very careful in how we do that.”
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Egypt hangs five prisoners: officials

January 2, 2018

A policeman stands guard in front of Mar Mina church, in Helwan, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, where several people have been killed in a shootout outside the church. (AP/Amr Nabil)
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Cairo: Egyptian prison authorities executed on Tuesday five inmates who had been sentenced to death, four of them over a bombing that killed military cadets, security officials said.
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The hangings came days after the execution of 15 inmates convicted of attacking police and the military in the largest mass execution in Egypt in recent memory.
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Four of those executed on Tuesday had been sentenced to death by a military court over a 2015 the bombing at a stadium north of Cairo that killed three military cadets.
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The fifth had been sentenced to death over a criminal matter, the sources said without elaborating.
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The other four had been accused of having links with the Muslim Brotherhood movement of former president Muhammad Mursi whom the army toppled in 2013 following protests against his single year in office.
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On December 26, prison authorities hanged 15 inmates sentenced to death by a military court over attacks on the police and military in the Sinai Peninsula.
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Attacks by jihadists in the restive peninsula have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since Mursi’s overthrow.
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Courts have since sentenced hundreds of Islamists to death, although most have appealed the rulings and won retrials.

Egypt court jails ousted president Muhammad Mursi over insulting judiciary

December 30, 2017

Former Islamist President Muhammad Mursi and 18 others over insulting the judiciary, sentencing them to three years in prison. (AP)

CAIRO: An Egyptian court has convicted former Islamist President Muhammad Mursi and 18 others over insulting the judiciary, sentencing them to three years in prison.

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Among defendants in the case are prominent rights activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah and political analyst Amr Hamzawy, both of whom were fined 30,000 Egyptian pounds ($1,688). Abdel-Fattah is serving a five-year sentence for taking part in an illegal protest in 2013. Hamzawy lives in exile.
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Saturday’s verdict can be appealed.
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Mursi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, was ousted by the military in 2013 following mass protests against his one-year divisive rule. He has since faced trial on a host of charges, including espionage and conspiring with foreign groups.
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Egypt has since 2013 cracked down on Islamists, jailing thousands of them as well as secular and liberal activists.

Arab countries need to rally around the “Arab axis” of Saudi Arabia and Egypt — UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash says

December 27, 2017

DUBAI (Reuters) – A senior UAE diplomat said on Wednesday the Arab world would not be led by Turkey, the Gulf State’s first comment on Ankara since a quarrel broke out last week over a retweet by the Emirati foreign minister that President Tayyip Erdogan called an insult.

 

FILE PHOTO: Minister of State for Foreign Affairs for the United Arab Emirates, Anwar Gargash

Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, said there was a need for Arab countries to rally around the “Arab axis” of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

“The sectarian and partisan view is not an acceptable alternative, and the Arab world will not be led by Tehran or Ankara,” he wrote on his official Twitter page.

Last week, Turkey summoned the charge d‘affaires at the UAE embassy in Ankara, after UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahayan shared a tweet that accused Turkish troops of looting the holy city of Medina a century ago.

Erdogan himself lashed out: “Some impertinent man sinks low and goes as far as accusing our ancestors of thievery … What spoiled this man? He was spoiled by oil, by the money he has,” the Turkish leader said at an awards ceremony.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu newspaper reported on Saturday that Turkey planned to rename the street where the UAE embassy is located in Ankara after Fakhreddin Pasha, the commander of the Ottoman Turkish troops at Medina in 1916. Medina, the holiest site in Islam after Mecca, is now in Saudi Arabia.

The UAE sees itself as a bulwark against political forms of Islam, and views Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted ruling AK party as a supporter of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, which it opposes.

Editing by Peter Graff