Saturday, November 17, 2018

It's All Falling Apart

Has been for a while now:

Saudis are said to have used body-double for Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul

I was waiting for that!

My print copy carried the following piece from the Washington ComPost:

Video appears to show Saudi body double in Jamal Khashoggi's clothes

Surveillance video recorded by Turkish law enforcement appears to confirm reports that Saudi agents used a body double as part of an attempted coverup after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

The video — obtained and broadcast by CNN on Monday — purportedly shows a Saudi agent walking out of the consulate wearing Khashoggi’s clothes, as well as spectacles and a fake beard, in an apparent attempt to disguise himself as the slain Saudi journalist.

The video was released as pressure intensified on Saudi officials to explain what happened to Khashoggi, 59, a critic of the Saudi government who had been living in self-exile in Virginia.

After denying any knowledge of Khashoggi’s death, the Saudi government reversed course Saturday, saying he had accidentally been killed in the consulate after an altercation with a team sent to negotiate his return, but that account has been greeted with suspicion and derision by European leaders and many U.S. politicians.

Related: "As President Trump continues to equivocate in his response to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, European leaders have shown a united front in casting blame on the Saudi government and calling for concrete actions to punish Riyadh for what mounting evidence suggests was a hit job followed by a state-authorized coverup gone wrong. On Sunday evening, Germany became the first Western government to suspend future arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Western European countries are no strangers to their own Saudi arms deals: Britain and France are the kingdom’s two largest respective exporters after the United States, albeit at significantly smaller levels. In any case, the apparent willingness in Paris, Berlin, and London to risk these economic benefits — in word if not in deed — is a rare occurrence, political analysts said. For the moment, Britain and France — the two largest European exporters of arms to Saudi Arabia — have stopped short of echoing Merkel’s call for suspending arms sales. According to the country’s Department of International Trade, Britain exported arms and equipment worth at least $1.4 billion to Saudi Arabia last year, but the real figure is probably higher. In 2017, potential French sales of more than $14.7 billion were approved....." 

You $ee what's at $take, and what about all the state-authorized cover-ups that go right?!!!

Turkish President Recep Tay­yip Erdogan has promised to reveal details of an extensive investigation into Khashoggi’s death Tuesday, in what could be a pivotal moment in the case. Turkish investigators have alleged that 15 Saudi agents killed and dismembered Khashoggi, a contributing columnist for The Washington Post, soon after he entered the consulate in Istanbul three weeks ago.

The Trump administration has intensified its contacts with the Saudi leadership in recent days, as the president and his allies have scrambled to preserve their relationship with the kingdom, a close regional ally and major purchaser of U.S. weapons.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Trump said that he was “not satisfied” with what he has heard about who is responsible for Khashoggi’s killing but that he did not want to “lose all of that investment” by punishing the Saudi leadership. Later, in an interview with USA Today, Trump said he believed that the death resulted from a “plot gone awry,” seemingly echoing the official Saudi explanation.

Maybe he got that backward, huh?

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met Monday in Riyadh with Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Tony Sayegh, Mnuchin’s top spokesman, said the two men discussed the Khashoggi investigation, the implementation of sanctions against Iran, the Saudi economy and ways to combat the financing of terrorism.

That's laughable and sad seeing as the largest financiers of terror are the Saudis themselves, but it also tells you want the deeper agenda is here -- Iran.

There have been growing questions in recent days about what role, if any, Mohammed played in the Khashoggi plot. 


If any?

In New York, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a White House adviser, said in an interview at a CNN conference Monday that he has advised Mohammed to be “fully transparent” about the Khashoggi case.

Yeah, he's Kushner's buddy and nearly a member of the family.

Trump said top U.S. intelligence officials were in Turkey, suggesting they were trying to assess the information the Turks have gathered. CIA Director Gina Haspel departed for Turkey on Monday, according to people familiar with the matter.

For weeks, the Saudi government had said that Khashoggi walked out of the consulate after his Oct. 2 visit. The body double shown in the newly released video appeared to be an attempt to substantiate that claim, but the cover story fell apart, according to a diplomat familiar with the case.....

Yeah, as the cover story that is Oswald survives to this day.

So what other cover stories have gone awry (don't hold your breath waiting)?

"Trump accuses Saudis of ‘worst coverup ever’ in writer’s killing" by Kareem Fahim, Tamer El-Ghobashy and John Hudson Washington Post  October 24, 2018

Because it didn't work.

ISTANBUL — President Trump said Tuesday that Saudi officials had engaged in the ‘‘worst coverup ever’’ after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi earlier this month, as the administration took its first concrete step to penalize Saudi Arabia, revoking visas for its agents implicated in the killing.

That initial penalty was modest, since 18 of the 21 Saudi suspects were already under arrest, and Trump said he would ‘‘leave it up to Congress’’ to determine how best to punish the kingdom for the killing inside its Istanbul consulate.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who announced the action, said he is also working with the Treasury Department on whether to impose sanctions on those responsible for the journalist’s death.

Did he talk to Mnuchin before he left?

The kingdom’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, on Tuesday received a standing ovation when he appeared at a major investment conference in Riyadh — which some Western executives and leaders have withdrawn from because of the controversy — but the crown prince did not address the crowd.

Separately on Tuesday, the official Saudi Press Agency published photos of the Saudi monarch, King Salman, and the crown prince meeting two members of Khashoggi’s family, including his son.

One photo showed the son, Salah, looking ashen-faced and shaking hands with Mohammed bin Salman as a video cameraman stood in the background. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry wrote on Twitter that the leaders shared ‘‘their deepest condolences and sympathy to the family of Jamal Khashoggi, may God rest his soul.’’

We are being told it was a ‘‘rogue’’ operation that ended in a deadly brawl.

Khashoggi’s death has tarnished the global reputation of the crown prince, who has eased social restrictions at home while pursuing an unrelenting crackdown on rivals and critics, imprisoning hundreds.

As Saudi Arabia on Tuesday opened its landmark business conference — part of the crown prince’s plan to diversify the economy and reduce reliance on oil revenue — the country’s foreign ministry released video of him inside a crowd of attendees, posing for a selfie.

“More people, more money,” the crown prince told reporters, pronouncing the event a success.

Despite the pullout of several high-profile participants, including US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, the event was packed with people from across the Middle East, as well as from China, India, and the United States.....


Now about those weapons sales:

"Lawmakers are calling for a halt to Saudi arms sales. That could mean a big hit for Raytheon" by Andy Rosen Globe Staff  October 24, 2018

The killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is heightening calls for the United States to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a controversy that could have big stakes for Waltham-based defense giant Raytheon. The company, which employs some 12,000 people in Massachusetts, counts the Middle Eastern power as a major client.

This has placed the state’s all-Democratic congressional delegation in the position of choosing between human rights and local industry, and so far Raytheon’s Saudi business has found few defenders.

“I want our companies to make as much money as they possibly can, but I draw the line when it comes to a country that is responsible for this kind of horrific human rights atrocities,” said Representative Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat who this month proposed legislation that would end US military aid and sales to Saudi Arabia pending a State Department investigation of the Khashoggi killing. “This is not an isolated incident.”

Raytheon stands to collect billions in sales to Saudi Arabia under a recent deal to deepen the country’s military ties with the United States, and last year committed to a years-long collaboration with a Saudi defense firm. This year alone, the kingdom committed to spending $670 million on Raytheon antitank missiles and other equipment, but even before Khashoggi disappeared, US arms deals with the Saudis were coming under fire because of the kingdom’s military intervention in an internal conflict in neighboring Yemen. A Saudi-led coalition has tried to drive out Houthi rebels allied with Iran with airstrikes, contributing to thousands of civilian deaths, displacement, and famine.

If you want to know what they have been reporting on Yemen until then, scroll down through August.

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey voted last year for legislation that would have stopped some arms sales to the Saudis, along with a bill that called for congressional review of US involvement in the Yemen conflict.

They have the war powers over there, and yet they are so tepid to step in on anything. 

That is going to cast suspicions on it when they do.

Since Khashoggi’s disappearance, and following news of his death, both senators have made fresh calls for ending arms deals with the kingdom.

Markey has called the situation a turning point in the US-Saudi relationship, warning that the nation’s moral authority is at stake if it fails to act.

What moral authority?

We've been led into mass-murdering wars on the basis of lies, government officials sanctioned torture, and the illegal wars and killing continue. 

Warren said in a statement: “President Trump should be holding the Saudis accountable — not looking for ways to send them more weapons.”

Related: Warren wants information on McKinsey’s Saudi work

Meanwhile, the next shipment of arms to Tel Aviv is one its way.

In the House, Representative Bill Keating, the ranking Democratic member of the House subcommittee on terrorism, nonproliferation, and trade, said he would support action to hold up major Saudi arms deals, which must be submitted for review.

He will be the chairman of it come January.

“This is not an economic issue. We’re a country that is founded on ideas and ideals. We’re not a country founded on arms sales,” Keating said.

We most certainly were founded on such an idea, but that is not what the Empire is today. They had no military-industrial complex, only farmer's militias.

He said such deals are “not just profits to US companies.”

“It’s a way of building better military cooperation with those countries,” he said. “We engage in these arms sales in large measure as a foundation of a greater understanding and working together.”

The killing of Khashoggi, Keating said, is “to put it mildly — at odds with our core beliefs.”

Then so is the CIA, which has engaged in untold numbers of assassinations over decades.

The killing has prompted sharp international criticism of Saudi Arabia’s 33-year-old crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, compounding concerns about his leadership of the wealthy oil state. Germany has vowed not to approve any arms exports to Saudi Arabia as the inquiry into Khashoggi’s death continues.

In the United States, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have spoken out about the issue. Trump, who has cultivated close ties and lucrative weapons deals with Salman, has been less forceful. He has spoken of possible consequences for the Saudis, but has said he does not want to halt arms sales because it could hurt arms manufacturers like Raytheon.

Raytheon did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Analysts who follow the US-Saudi relationship say they do not expect a long-term disruption, despite the escalating rhetoric.

Jon B. Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, noted that Saudi Arabia remained an important regional partner for the United States even in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in which the majority of the culprits were Saudis.

They are holding the sword of Zelikow and the 28 pages over their heads!

“Congress will have a debate about it, and Congress will place some holds and restrictions,” Alterman said of the response to the Khashoggi case. “I can’t imagine that Congress will sever military ties or any other kind of ties with Saudi Arabia. This is intended to put pressure and get answers, but not to destroy the bilateral relationship.”

Any kind of slowdown could have a big price tag for Raytheon. Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey has been using his role as ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to block Raytheon’s proposed sale of a package of precision-guided missiles to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. A report by The Wall Street Journal estimated that deal would be worth more than $2 billion.

He was reelected despite being outed for favoring underaged Dominican girls -- further proof, to me, that the elections were a massive rig job.

Though those numbers are large, they are spread out over many years and are likely not make-or-break deals for Raytheon. Byron Callan, who follows the defense industry at Capital Alpha Partners in Washington, said Saudi business likely accounts for less than 5 percent of Raytheon’s sales.

“It’s an important relationship, but even in the event that the US turned off the arms spigot to Saudi Arabia, it’s not going to put Raytheon out of business,” Callan said. He added, however, that it could lead to some layoffs locally.

Yeah, war has always been good bu$ine$$.

Activists concerned about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record have been protesting Raytheon for months, highlighting its Saudi business as a local connection to a crisis they say needs urgent action.

Only now am I getting word of them, and it reminds me that Yemen has been dropped as a topic of conversation. The Globe reporter turned it to the effect on arms sales, wow, okay.

Cole Harrison, executive director of Massachusetts Peace Action, said incidents like the death of Khashoggi highlight the brutality that has been on display in Yemen.

“Yemen is Massachusetts’ war,” he said. “Raytheon is headquartered here, and it’s one of the major munitions companies that is supporting this war, and they should stop doing it.”

Harrison’s group has been protesting at Raytheon facilities in the Boston area, and also held demonstrations when Salman visited Boston last year to highlight ties with institutions including MIT.

MIT also says it is reevaluating its relationship with Saudi Arabia.....

They are taking a look, anyway.


Some say they are piling on, but that is the price that must be paid for those who represented the best about journalism.

"Saudi crown prince distances himself from Khashoggi death, calling it ‘heinous’" by Alan Rappeport and Ben Hubbard New York Times  October 24, 2018

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday denounced the “heinous crime” committed against Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident writer killed in Turkey by Saudi operatives. It was his most public attempt yet to separate himself from the men suspected of the killing, who include some of the crown prince’s own aides.

The crown prince’s comments, made during a panel discussion at an opulent investor conference in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, came as the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Turkey continued to sour over the Oct. 2 killing at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and as Saudi Arabia’s economic and political ties with the West are increasingly at risk.

Let the money -- and oil -- flow!

Mohammed insisted that Turkey and Saudi Arabia were collaborating to bring to justice those who committed the killing.

“The crime was really painful to all Saudis, and I believe it is painful to every human in the world,” he said in Arabic, according to a simultaneous translation. “It is a heinous crime that cannot be justified.”

It's an outrage on a certain level, but I don't know if the killing of a CIA asset is painful to every human in the world.

A Saudi-Turkey split, he said, “will not happen, and we will prove to the world that the two governments are cooperating to punish any criminal, any guilty person, and justice in the end will appear.”

That's when the official cover story is solidified for reference in the future.

Meanwhile, an image of the Saudi crown prince shaking the hand of Khashoggi’s son stoked outrage on social media Wednesday as suspicions continue that the crown prince had a role in the killing.

Many Turkish and US officials believe that the operation that ended up killing Khashoggi could not have gone ahead without the crown prince’s knowledge.

Khashoggi’s son Salah is a dual Saudi-American citizen and has been barred from leaving the kingdom, friends of the family say, presumably to keep his relatives who are already in the United States from speaking out about the killing.

“This photo makes me want to scream and throw up,” Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi activist living in Australia, wrote on Twitter.

The images were released late Tuesday as the kingdom was struggling to push back against the international uproar over Khashoggi’s killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

After nearly three weeks of denials, Saudi Arabia acknowledged last week that the team had killed Khashoggi but said that it had been acting without the knowledge of the kingdom’s leadership and had accidentally strangled Khashoggi after a fistfight, but that story has failed to stop the damage to the kingdom’s reputation as the country’s allies have called for further explanation and as businessmen and investors have dropped out of a headline investment conference this week in Riyadh.

Not all of them.

Prince Mohammed was greeted with an ovation as he entered the ballroom at the Ritz Carlton hotel, where business leaders from around the world have converged to network and make deals — though many canceled last week, citing the stigma of the Khashoggi scandal.

The standing-room-only audience saluted the crown prince with cellphones when he arrived, straining to capture the moment with pictures.....

I'm supposed to take the alleged outrage seriously?


"Khashoggi killing spotlights Saudi money flowing to Harvard, MIT" by Michael Levenson Globe Staff  October 25, 2018

Mohammed bin Salman slipped into Cambridge in March under heavy guard, at the start of a three-week US tour designed to burnish his image as a reformer. In the coming days, the Saudi crown prince would meet with Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, and Oprah Winfrey, but on this day, he was being welcomed by two of the world’s great universities.

They can all forget about 2020 then.

With no notice to the wider MIT or Harvard communities, he arrived in an armored vehicle with black-clad security personnel posted on the rooftops. At Harvard, he met with the provost and professors at the faculty club. At MIT, he and other Saudi leaders signed six agreements strengthening the kingdom’s corporate, educational, and governmental ties to the university.

“The kingdom is accelerating its progress toward a promising new future,” MIT president L. Rafael Reif declared in a speech welcoming the crown prince, but now, MIT, which had staunchly defended its relationship with the Saudis, despite the country’s brutal three-year war in Yemen, announced this week that it is reexamining its ties to the kingdom in light of Khashoggi’s death. Harvard said it is “following recent events with concern” and “assessing potential implications for existing programs.”

Neither university has provided a full accounting of the many partnerships they have formed with the kingdom, but a review of those that have been publicly disclosed shows how difficult it would be to unravel the extensive ties, even if that were something the universities were considering.

They said they were.

MIT has accepted at least $25 million from Saudi Aramco, the state oil company, since 2012, using the money to launch the MIT Energy Initiative, which is focused on developing clean and renewable energy. The prince’s foundation, MiSK, recently became a “member company” at the MIT Media Lab, which requires a commitment of at least $250,000 a year over three years, according to the technology website CNET.

Prince Mohammed visited the lab, where he was shown a canine robot built by Boston Dynamics and other cutting-edge technology. One of the security guards who accompanied him during the tour is suspected of participating in the operation that killed Khashoggi, according to The New York Times.

At Harvard, the financial and institutional ties also run deep.

In 2005, Harvard accepted $20 million from his cousin, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, to launch the Alwaleed Islamic Studies Program, which has three endowed professorships that bear the prince’s name.

Then his name needs to be scrubbed, right?

That same year, Alwaleed, wooed by Harvard Medical School officials in Riyadh, donated another $5 million to the Dubai Harvard Foundation for Medical Research, which supports biomedical research and academic programs in the Middle East. Earlier this year, Alwaleed was detained for three months at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton as part of a corruption crackdown led by Mohammed.

MiSK, his foundation, said in 2016 that it has an agreement with Harvard to allocate 12.5 percent of the 800 seats at a Harvard summer school program “for MiSK students.”

In 2014, Harvard named another Saudi royal, Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, chief representative for the Middle East in the university’s “Tourism Leaders Program,” according to Saudi officials. Still another royal, Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, has funded the Project on Saudi and Gulf Cooperation Council Security at the Kennedy School of Government, although the size of his gift has not been disclosed.

Such connections are common for the royal family, a close ally of the US government whose members have donated millions of dollars to other American universities, but critics say Harvard and MIT, given their international renown, give the family particular credibility, as the Saudis continue a US-backed bombing campaign in Yemen that has led to what the United Nations calls “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” with about 75 percent of Yemen’s population — including 11.3 million children — depending on emergency assistance to survive.

“They are able to establish more legitimacy than they should have as a violent dictatorship that’s pursuing a genocidal war,” said Mark Weisbrot, president of Just Foreign Policy, an antiwar group that collected more than 6,000 names on an online petition calling on MIT to cancel Prince Mohammed’s March visit.

I've been seeing that word in my pre$$ a lot lately; however, it is never in reference to what is going on in Gaza or the West Bank.

In a letter published in the student newspaper in April, Reif defended the Saudi relationship, saying MIT generally favors working with governments, even those whose “values and actions we reject.” He pointed to some of the benefits, including the Ibn Khaldun fellowship, which is substantially funded by Saudi Aramco and has brought 27 Saudi women scientists to MIT for postdoctoral research.

“We could instead choose a strategy of refusing to engage,” Reif wrote. “In most instances, however, it appears to us that our not engaging neither creates nor encourages significant positive change,” but after Khashoggi’s death sparked international outrage, Reif shifted his stance.

Unless we are talking about Iran, right?

Shireen Al-Adeimi, an assistant professor of education at Michigan State University, expressed frustration that MIT had defended Mohammed’s visit when the criticism focused on the thousands killed in Yemen and only agreed to reexamine its ties to the Saudis after Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, was killed.

I think a lot of us are frustrated by the self-serving ma$$ media obsession when contrasted with the thousands of dead and millions suffering in Yemen.

If this brings an end to the slaughter, then so be it; however, it should never have taken this long or this specific event for such a thing.

Adeimi, who was born in Yemen and received her doctorate from Harvard this summer, was among a small group who protested outside MIT the day before the prince arrived.

“Only when a well-connected journalist was brutally murdered did all of a sudden all of these people and institutions and governments seem to want to distance themselves from Saudi Arabia, which is welcome and important,” Adeimi said. “But it should have been happening years ago.”

Jonathan A. King, an MIT professor of biology who also protested the crown prince’s visit, expressed concern that the institute will not publicly release the six agreements with Saudi Arabia that Reif and others signed during Mohammed’s tour.

Saudi and MIT officials have described the agreements only in general terms, saying they extend Saudi Aramco’s support for the MIT Energy Initiative for another five years, extend the fellowship for Saudi women, and connect other Saudi educational and businesses institutions with MIT to develop better medical care, transportation, and renewable energy.

“If it was just about alternative energy, why do it in secret?” King said. “If it was just about increasing exchanges with Saudi women, why do it in secret? When you’re at a university, and the administration won’t release the information, you suspect it’s because they know the students or faculty would object.”

Harvard, while saying in a statement that it is “assessing potential implications for existing programs,” emphasized that it would “continue as before to welcome scholars and students from Saudi Arabia to the Harvard community.”

Someone should file a lawsuit against them for bias.

Yarden Katz, a departmental fellow in systems biology at Harvard Medical School, who coauthored an editorial in the Guardian criticizing Harvard and MIT for accepting Saudi donations, said it won’t be enough for the universities to renounce the financial support.....

Yeah, “they inevitably get tangled up with dubious actors like Mohammed bin Salman, a war criminal.”


Also seeBabson, which helped launch college named for Saudi crown prince, reexamining its ties

The college was designed to promote the crown prince’s agenda of increased economic growth, tourism, and social mobility in Saudi Arabia.

"Saudi Arabia says Khashoggi’s killing was premeditated in latest reversal" by Tamer El-Ghobashy Washington Post  October 25, 2018

ISTANBUL — Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said on Thursday that Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a planned operation, the latest reversal by Saudi authorities.

The announcement underscored the rapidly mounting pressures on Saudi Arabia to fully illuminate Khashoggi’s killing, after its previous explanations were contradicted by Turkey and met with skepticism by the United States, a close Saudi ally.

They have reached the point where nothing that comes forward is to be believed.

Still, neither Trump nor Saudi Arabia has been willing to implicate Saudi leadership in the journalist’s killing. US intelligence officials and lawmakers as well as the European Union have said that an operation targeting a critic of the royal court in a foreign country is unlikely to have been ordered without the knowledge of senior Saudi officials.

Thursday’s announcement comes days after CIA Director Gina Haspel traveled to Turkey and listened to audio purportedly capturing the journalist’s murder, giving a key member of Trump’s Cabinet access to the central piece of evidence Turkey has used to assert that the killing was planned.

In another sign that the kingdom is seeking to contain the widespread fallout, Salah Khashoggi, the eldest son of Jamal Khashoggi, has left Saudi Arabia, two people close to the family said. The son, a dual US-Saudi citizen who was photographed receiving condolences from Salman and Mohammed on Tuesday, had previously been restricted from leaving.

The photos of him meeting with the king and the crown prince were released by the Saudi government in an apparent effort to showcase their sympathy. Instead, the photo opportunity elicited scorn, with critics accusing them of exploiting the grieving son.

Turkish officials have discounted the ability of Saudi Arabia to conduct a credible investigation, given suspicion that the royal court was behind the operation, but Britain and France have stopped short of suspending arms sales to the kingdom.....


After the service, the pressure increased on Trump to make America civil again by ending the rhetoric against the media.

"Mattis condemns Khashoggi killing, as Saudi foreign minister rejects ‘hysteria’" by Paul Sonne and Kareem Fahim Washington Post  October 27, 2018

MANAMA, Bahrain — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made the remarks at a security conference in the island kingdom of Bahrain, across a bridge from Saudi Arabia, shortly before Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir decried what he said was a rush to conclusions before the investigation’s completion.

Since Khashoggi disappeared at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, Saudi officials have issued an evolving series of narratives.

I'm sick of narratives being passed off as news!

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia appeared to acknowledge that its agents had killed the dissident Saudi journalist in a ‘‘premeditated’’ operation but have not implicated top officials, including the de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Above all, Mattis pushed the message that the Khashoggi killing was both a human rights issue and a national security concern for nations in the Middle East.

‘‘When opposing voices can be heard within a political process adapted to each nation’s culture, one that permits peaceful opposition by giving voice and human rights to all, a nation becomes more secure,’’ Mattis said.

‘‘When people can speak and be heard calling for peace and respect for all, the terrorist message of hatred and violence is not embraced. With our collective interests in peace and unwavering respect for human rights in mind, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in a diplomatic facility must concern us all greatly,’’ he continued.

These guys are either selective in their memory or outright delusional.

Without calling Saudi Arabia by name, Mattis suggested Khashoggi’s death threatened to stir greater instability in the Middle East at a critical time. The Middle East is struggling to cope with brutal conflicts in Syria and Yemen, a political divide between Gulf nations and Qatar, and what Mattis described as malign activity from Iran across the region.

And, of course, the Palestinian question.

‘‘Failure of any one nation to adhere to international norms and the rule of law undermines regional stability at a time when it is needed most,’’ Mattis said. 


Does he even hear himself?

Who was it that just pulled out of the agreement with Iran?

Saudi Arabia is not only the biggest importer of American arms but also a critical partner in the administration’s Middle East agenda, which includes stabilizing Syria, brokering a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, pushing back against Iranian influence, finishing off the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and bringing an end to the war in Yemen.

The highlighted stuff is all you need to see. The rest is laughable. The U.S. is destabilizing Syria by staying and is a broker for Israel regarding any peace deal, while the Saudis are primarily responsible for the Islamic State via funding and manpower and the slaughter in Yemen.

The conference venue of Bahrain also showed the convergence of US and Saudi interests. The tiny island nation is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, gives critical support to Bahrain’s Sunni rulers, who in 2011 faced Arab Spring-inspired protests led by the country’s Shi’ite majority.....

Another Gulf regime that mistreats its people, and the reason not much is made of it is clear.


Finally, the New York Times discovered Yemen:

"The tragedy of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen" by Declan Walsh New York Times  October 27, 2018

HAJJAH, Yemen — Chest heaving and eyes fluttering, the 3-year-old boy lay silently on a hospital ward in the highland town of Hajjah, a bag of bones fighting for breath.

His father, Ali al-Hajaji, stood anxiously over him. Hajaji had already lost one son three weeks earlier to the epidemic of hunger sweeping across Yemen. Now he feared that a second was slipping away.

It wasn’t for a lack of food in the area: The stores outside the hospital gate were filled with goods, and the markets were bustling, but Hajaji couldn’t afford any of it because prices were rising too fast.

“I can barely buy a piece of stale bread,” he said. “That’s why my children are dying before my eyes.”

That is something no parent should have to endure.

The devastating war in Yemen has gotten more attention recently as outrage over the killing of a Saudi dissident in Istanbul has turned a spotlight on Saudi actions elsewhere. The harshest criticism of the Saudi-led war has focused on airstrikes that have killed thousands of civilians, including at weddings and funerals and on school buses, aided by US-supplied bombs and intelligence, but aid experts and UN officials say a more insidious form of warfare is also being waged in Yemen, an economic war that is exacting a far greater toll on civilians and now risks tipping the country into a famine of catastrophic proportions.

The siege of Gaza.

Under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi-led coalition and its Yemeni allies have imposed punitive economic measures aimed at undercutting the Houthi rebels who control northern Yemen, but these actions — including periodic blockades, stringent import restrictions, and withholding the salaries of about 1 million civil servants — have landed on the backs of civilians, laying the economy to waste and driving millions deeper into poverty.

Nothing punitive about it.

Those measures have inflicted a slow-burn toll: infrastructure destroyed, jobs lost, a weakening currency and soaring prices, but in recent weeks the economic collapse has gathered pace at alarming speed, causing top UN officials to revise their predictions of famine.

“There is now a clear and present danger of an imminent and great, big famine engulfing Yemen,” Mark Lowcock, the undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, told the Security Council on Tuesday. About 8 million Yemenis already depend on emergency food aid to survive, he said, a figure that could soon rise to 14 million, or half Yemen’s population.

And this article was three weeks ago.

“People think famine is just a lack of food,” said Alex de Waal, author of “Mass Starvation” which looks at man-made famines. “But in Yemen it’s about a war on the economy.”

The signs are everywhere, cutting across boundaries of class, tribe, and region. Unpaid university professors issue desperate appeals for help on social media. Doctors and teachers are forced to sell their gold, land, or cars to feed their families. On the streets of the capital, Sana, an elderly woman begs for alms on a loudspeaker.

“Help me,” the woman, Zahra Bajali, calls out. “I have a sick husband. I have a house for rent. Help,” and in the hushed hunger wards, ailing infants hover between life and death. Of nearly 2 million malnourished children in Yemen, 400,000 are considered critically ill — a figure projected to rise by one quarter in the coming months.

I'm sure Madelaine Albright would say the price is worth it.

“We are being crushed,” said Dr. Mekkia Mahdi at the health clinic in Aslam, an impoverished northwestern town that has been swamped with refugees fleeing the fighting in Hodeida, an embattled port city 90 miles to the south.

Flitting between the beds at her spartan clinic, she cajoled mothers, dispensed orders to medics and spoon-fed milk to sickly infants. For some it was too late: the night before, an 11-month old boy had died. He weighed 5 1/2 pounds.

Looking around her, Mahdi could not fathom the Western obsession with the Saudi killing of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.

“We’re surprised the Khashoggi case is getting so much attention while millions of Yemeni children are suffering,” she said. “Nobody gives a damn about them.”

She tugged on the flaccid skin of a drowsy 7-year-old girl with stick-like arms. “Look,” she said. “No meat. Only bones.”

The embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington did not respond to questions about the country’s policies in Yeme, but Saudi officials have defended their actions, citing rockets fired across their border by the Houthis, an armed group professing Zaidi Islam, an offshoot of Shi’ism, that Saudi Arabia, a Sunni monarchy, views as a proxy for its regional rival, Iran.


Five-month-old Ahmed Ibrahim al-Junid, who suffers from malnutrition and dehydration, at a clinic in Aslam, Yemen.
Five-month-old Ahmed Ibrahim al-Junid, who suffers from malnutrition and dehydration, at a clinic in Aslam, Yemen (TYLER HICKS/New York Times)

I don't usually read the comments to Globe articles, but this one caught my eye (which I leave undisturbed and pristine):

"Oh…Lookie here….Our intrepid ‘journalists’ at the Boston Globe have finally noticed that there is a blatantly genocidal war being waged against the population of the impoverished nation of Yemen.

The basic strategy of this overtly genocidal war is to starve the population of Yemen into submission to US/Saudi will and control, and also to subject them to deadly disease. This starkly genocidal war has been raging for almost four years, but it seems that our crack Globe ‘spotlight team’ just never happened to notice it before now.

What’s a little famine, anyway, that threatens 18 million people, three fourths of the entire population of Yemen, with death by starvation? I guess we shouldn’t expect those poor overworked ‘journalists’ at the Globe to notice such insignificant events as a mere famine and deadly cholera outbreak among tens of millions of people?

Well….better late than ever, I guess….

Oh….But wait….This is not an honest report of ‘the facts’. This is not ‘journalism’.

This AP article is obviously intended to marshal public opinion against the Royal House of Saud. (Saudi Arabia is basically a private company masquerading as a country).

It is obviously intended to obfuscate the primary US role in wreaking famine and disease on the population of this impoverished nation of Yemen.

Yemen is a poor country that has almost no arable land, and very few sources of drinking water. Yemen must therefore import almost its entire food supply. Since October of 2016, the US Navy has used US Navy ships to help impose a naval blockade on Yemen, in order to prevent food, and other essential supplies, (medicine, diesel fuel to run sewage treatment and water purification plants, etc), from entering Yemen.

The primary targets of the US made Saudi planes are food storage facilities, and essential civilian infrastructure, (sewage and water treatment, etc). The US has actively provided the Saudis with target selection intelligence, to actively assist, with maximum efficiency, in perpetrating famine and disease on these tens of millions of people.

The US also actively participates in all the Saudi bombing missions themselves, by providing mid-air refueling to the Saudi jets, without which these deadly genocidal missions would not be possible at all.

All the bombs and missiles dropped and fired from the US-made Saudi airplanes are also, of course, US-made. About the only thing the US is not doing in this horrific and intentionally genocidal war on tens of millions of people is flying the US-made planes, (although the US did train the Saudi pilots who are flying the US-made planes).

The major and primary role the US is playing in waging this genocidal war on Yemen is well-established. These facts are not disputed. The US is actively using our military capacity to help our surrogate/ally impose a war that the UN estimates could cause 18 million people to be in danger of death by starvation by the end of 2018. With tens of millions of people forced to drink impure water, and with no way to properly treat their sewage, there is already a deadly outbreak of water-born cholera that is the worst human cholera epidemic in well over a century.

This is what our nation is doing. This is what we are doing NOW! This is what we are doing TODAY!

Anyone can learn these facts but simply taking the time to use their search engines.

Oh…..but despite the fact that this horrific genocidal war has been raging for almost four years, many people just don’t know about it because the US Elites who own ALL our mass media just don’t want the American people to know about it. If they don't want us to know, they just don't report it. (An essential element of propaganda consists of the Big Lies of Omission, not just the Big Lies of the 'fake news' that is routinely propagated in US Elite-owned mass media).

Now that this blundering Khasogghi murder has shined a ‘spotlight’ on the close US-Saudi relationship, the war in Yemen just can’t be hidden any longer.

But hearing ‘the truth’ from the Elite-owned US mass media, is just too much to expect.

Instead we just get more propaganda, as exampled by this AP article in the Boston Globe, which very obviously is focused on placing all blame on the Saudis, and hiding the US role in this horrific genocide, in this famine and disease, which is being perpetrated on Yemen, and for which the US is actively providing direct military assistance to intentionally cause."

Yeah, time for them to get off their high horse, and what the hell is going on in Syria?

"Turkey’s army on Sunday shelled positions held by US-backed Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria, a new spike in tensions along the border. Turkey considers the Kurdish militia an extension of the country’s insurgent groups, which it refers to as ‘‘terrorists and separatists,’’ and sent its military into Syria two years ago to drive the group and Islamic State militants away. The Syrian militias, known as the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, are the backbone of the US-backed force fighting ISIS. The US-Kurdish alliance has soured relations between the United States and Turkey, a fellow NATO member....."

Turkey just unveiled a new air base near Istanbul, too.

"US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he got assurances from Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat that the kingdom would conduct a complete investigation of the slaying of Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi. Mattis met Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir Saturday in Bahrain. Their talk came after Mattis condemned Khashoggi’s killing during a speech and warned that such behavior by nations risked destabilizing the Middle East. Their discussion, Mattis said Sunday, underscored ‘‘the need for transparency, a full and complete investigation.’’ Jubeir had called the global reaction to Khashoggi’s killing ‘‘fairly hysterical.’’ He suggested people were jumping to conclusions. ‘‘We will know the truth,’’ Jubeir said. ‘‘We will hold those responsible accountable.” Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government who had taken up residency in the United States, entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul Oct. 2. Turkish officials say a ‘‘hit squad’’ of Saudi agents killed him in the consulate and dismembered his body. Turkey says it has recordings of the events that were played for CIA chief Gina Haspel. The killing raised questions about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s role."

It's a high stakes inquiry that could reshape the region’s politics, and to help prod them, an American ISIS suspect was freed after being held more than a year.

"U.S. and Britain Seek Yemen Cease-Fire as Relations With Saudis Cool" by Gardiner Harris New York Times  November 01, 2018

WASHINGTON — Diplomatic pressure from the United States and Britain, Saudi Arabia’s biggest arms suppliers, abruptly intensified on Wednesday for a cease-fire in the Yemen war, the world’s worst current man-made humanitarian disaster.

The calls for a halt to the conflict — made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, his British counterpart, Jeremy Hunt, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — came against the backdrop of rising global criticism of Saudi Arabia, which has led a bombing campaign that is a major cause of civilian deaths and destruction in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country.

“It is time to end this conflict, replace conflict with compromise, and allow the Yemeni people to heal through peace and reconstruction,” Pompeo said in a statement on the State Department website.

Then stop supporting it.

The push comes as relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States have cooled in the month since a dissident, Jamal Khashoggi, was killed in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate by a team of Saudi operatives with close ties to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler and the architect of the Yemen war.

The Saudi monarchy has denied responsibility for Khashoggi’s killing in a story that has changed at least five times since he disappeared Oct. 2.

I'm sure they will get it right one of these days.

The timing of the call for a Yemen cease-fire and the troubling questions over who was ultimately behind the death of Khashoggi struck some Middle East analysts as more than a coincidence.

“One of the key things that makes diplomacy work is leverage,” said Dennis Ross, the senior Middle East adviser under then-President Obama, “and Pompeo has some leverage with the Saudis now that he didn’t have before.”

One wonders if Khashoggi wasn't sent to his death for just this reason.

The Yemen war has killed at least 10,000 people. Repeated efforts by United Nations diplomats to broker a truce between the chief antagonists — a Saudi-led military coalition and Yemen’s Houthi insurgents — have failed.

Hunt, Britain’s foreign secretary, said Pompeo’s call for a cease-fire was “an extremely welcome announcement.”

Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy for the Yemen conflict, also expressed appreciation. “I urge all concerned parties to seize this opportunity,” Griffiths said in a statement.

Additional support for a cease-fire came from Mattis, in an appearance Tuesday at the US Institute of Peace, a Washington research group. Mattis said he believed Saudi Arabia and its principal Arab partner, the United Arab Emirates, were ready for talks, which Griffiths hopes to convene in November.

“We have got to move toward a peace effort here, and we can’t say we are going to do it some time in the future,” Mattis said.

The United States and Britain have faced increased criticism themselves over their support for the Saudi military in the Yemen war, which includes supplying bombs and intelligence. A growing number of congressional representatives from both parties have demanded that the United States suspend weapons sales and other aid. Critics of Saudi Arabia in Britain have been pressing Prime Minister Theresa May’s government to do the same.

Her government is barely intact so I would expect arms sales to continue.

Although the Saudis say they try to avoid killing civilians in their bombing runs and missile strikes on Houthi targets, their assaults have hit hospitals, markets, school buses, and funerals. The Houthis have frequently responded by firing missiles into Saudi Arabia.

Where the Saudis are overstating the capability of the missile defense system, a tradition dating back to the 1991 Gulf War.

I didn't know government lies are a tradition, did you?

The war has led to a staggering humanitarian catastrophe, punctuated by disease, famine and near-famine conditions in parts of the country.

Last week Mark Lowcock, the top humanitarian relief official of the United Nations, said the number of Yemenis who need emergency food to survive could soon reach 14 million, half the population.

The Saudis intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis had occupied much of the country and expelled the Saudi-backed government in Sanaa, the capital. The Saudis contend that the Houthis are supported by Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional adversary.

For their part, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have emphasized they are among the biggest donors to U.N. humanitarian efforts in Yemen. The two countries provided about $930 million, or roughly one third, of the U.N. humanitarian aid budget for Yemen in 2018, but questions about that aid commitment have arisen over a report that the Saudis and the Emiratis demanded positive publicity from the U.N. relief agency, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in return for the support.

Look at this. 

There would be no need for the aid were it not for the war they are waging.

It's like Hitler saying he took care of the Jews by herding them into concentration camps.

The Guardian reported Tuesday that an internal U.N. document showed that the aid from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates was partly contingent on beneficial publicity about their largesse.

Those robe-covered bastards make you want to vomit.

Diplomats at the U.N. missions of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Guardian report.

Russell Geekie, a spokesman for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, declined to comment on the report, but he said in an emailed statement that aid agreements with U.N. agencies, sometimes called “visibility plans,” include requirements related to the visibility of the donors.

“All visibility materials that we agree to are used in a manner that is consistent with humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence and according to the internal policies of the receiving agencies,” Geekie said.

The aid provided by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, he said, “came with no conditions.”

I didn't know they could make the U.N. dance, too. 



"Even With Stigma of Khashoggi Killing, Crown Prince Is Seen as Retaining Power" by David D. Kirkpatrick and Ben Hubbard   November 02, 2018

LONDON — A month after the killing of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, the Trump administration has decided to stand by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, having concluded that he is almost certain to retain his grip on power, despite a growing international consensus that he bears responsibility, officials familiar with the deliberations said.

The White House was aware of the crown prince’s hostility to Khashoggi, a Virginia resident and columnist for The Washington Post, as early as Oct 9. That was seven days after the dissident had disappeared in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and long before the crown prince acknowledged that Saudi agents had killed him.

Keep that in mind for later.

In a phone call about the case with both Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and Middle East adviser, and John Bolton, the national security adviser, Prince Mohammed argued that Khashoggi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to two people familiar with the call. The Islamist group has branches in countries around the Middle East, and to the Saudis membership made Khashoggi a terrorist.

What we are seeing there is the neo-con and settler control of this White House and presidency.

Rather than weighing Mohammed’s chances of retaining power, officials in the White House and around the region have turned instead to the question of what effect the stigma of the killing may have on the grand plans laid out by the 33-year-old prince, who could rule Saudi Arabia for the next half century, and they are all wondering how they can leverage his vulnerability for their own benefit.

So much for Khashoggi. 

Is his body even cold yet?

“Everybody is milking this,” said Maha Yahya, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. With the crown prince now in visible need of external assistance to rehabilitate himself, she added, “everybody is trying to turn this to their advantage and try to get what they can out of it.”

Buy American!

Officials in the Trump administration have discussed proposals such as urging King Salman, the 82-year-old father of the crown prince, to appoint a strong prime minister or other senior official to help oversee day-to-day governance or foreign policy, according to three officials familiar with the deliberations, but such ideas were quickly discarded as unrealistic, in part because no one would be willing to risk taking such a job, or to appear to counter Mohammed while he retains full control of all the Saudi intelligence and security services as well as the aging king’s ear.

Isn't that interfering in another's internal affairs and politics?

One person familiar with the White House’s deliberations said the administration expects to impose some sanctions on Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi killing, in part because of bipartisan pressure from Congress, but the White House intends to keep the sanctions limited enough to avoid a rupture in its partnership with Mohammed.

They ain't Russia!

Having resolved to endure the negative publicity of standing by the crown prince, however, the White House is now hoping to extract some concessions from him in exchange for its support, potentially including steps to resolve the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar or the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen. Calls in the past few days from Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for a cease-fire in Yemen were both part of that plan, one person familiar with the White House deliberations said.

The U.S. could stop it in a second, but then Saudi Arabia would retaliate by yanking their investments in this country.

Overall, however, the White House’s reliance on Mohammed is still largely intact, in that he remains central to several administration strategies for the region, including hopes to build an Arab-Israeli alliance against Iran and to pressure the Palestinians into a peace agreement with Israel.

In addition to the continuing support of the Trump administration, Mohammed’s grip on power also reflects both his own proven ruthlessness and the nature of politics inside the kingdom.

It is almost inconceivable for him to relinquish his authority in the way that an official in a Western government might accept a reduced role or shared responsibilities, scholars and diplomats say.

Power in Saudi Arabia’s absolute monarchy, they say, adheres to the individual, not the office.

“All power flows from the king,” said Bernard Haykel, a scholar at Princeton University who studies the kingdom and has met with Mohammed. “The king delegates power to a person, and it belongs to that person until the king takes it away. The person embodies the office.”

If anything, the killing of Khashoggi has only strengthened the crown prince’s capacity to threaten or intimidate others inside the kingdom, even in his own family, royals, and others, Saudis said.

Then he is a bully.

Mohammed — often known by the initials MBS — had already succeeded in humiliating and imprisoning seemingly any potential rival among his royal cousins.

At an investor conference he sponsored in Riyadh this past week he appeared to laugh off the Western backlash over the Khashoggi killing.

Several Western officials with experience in the kingdom said it was naive to think some new arrangement would now limit his power.

“If MBS is constrained, he will try to break out,” said a Western diplomat who knows him. “And he will become a threat to those he thinks did it to him.”


Now about that cease fire:

"Yemenis welcome US call for truce, but obstacles loom" Associated Press  November 02, 2018

CAIRO — New US calls for a cease-fire in Yemen have raised the prospect of ending a disastrous civil war that has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, but previous rounds of talks have failed and thus far neither side shows any sign of backing down.

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for a cessation of hostilities and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the truce should happen within 30 days and lead to UN-led talks. Their remarks mark a shift in the position of the United States, which has backed the Saudi-led coalition in its three-and-a-half-year war with Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.

The White House has come under mounting pressure to rein in Saudi Arabia since Saudi agents killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month in their Istanbul consulate. The slaying has also brought renewed attention to the conflict in Yemen, which has killed thousands of civilians and driven the Arab world’s poorest country to the brink of famine, but the Saudi-led coalition is unlikely to accept the current battle lines for long since they leave the Houthis in control of much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa, and the major port city of Hodeida. The two US allies leading the coalition — Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — have yet to comment on the proposal.

They have a month to change things, right?

The rebels welcomed the calls for a truce on Thursday, while urging international action to halt the Saudi-led air campaign, which has caused the bulk of civilian casualties.

Mohamed Ali Al-Houthi, a senior rebel leader, said those urging a cease-fire should ‘‘translate their desire to bring peace in Yemen into action, stop the bombing of Yemenis immediately and lift the siege on Yemen.’’

I agree.


This is why:

"Amal Hussain, 7, who turned world’s eyes to famine, dies in Yemen" by Declan Walsh New York Times   November 02, 2018

CAIRO — A haunted look in the eyes of Amal Hussain, an emaciated 7-year-old lying silently on a hospital bed in northern Yemen, seemed to sum up the dire circumstances of her war-torn country.

Amal Hussain, 7, who suffered from severe acute malnutrition.
Amal Hussain, 7, who suffered from severe acute malnutrition (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times). 

That photograph raised a ruckus on the social media because it was taken down by Facebook before being restored.

A searing portrait of the starving girl published in The New York Times last week drew an impassioned response from readers. They expressed heartbreak. They offered money for her family. They wrote in to ask if she was getting better.

On Thursday, Amal’s family said she had died at a ragged refugee camp 4 miles from the hospital.

“My heart is broken,” said her mother, Mariam Ali, who wept during a phone interview. “Amal was always smiling. Now I’m worried for my other children.”

The grievous human cost of the Saudi-led war in Yemen has jumped to the top of the global agenda as the outcry over the killing of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi prompts Western leaders to re-examine their support for the war.

Again, why did it take the killing of a CIA asset to cause this reexamination?

A larger agenda is at work, one of influence, if you will.

Recently, the United States and Britain, Saudi Arabia’s biggest arms suppliers, called for a cease-fire in Yemen. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said it should take effect within 30 days. “We have got to move toward a peace effort here, and we can’t say we are going to do it some time in the future,” Mattis said Tuesday.

Riveting images of malnourished Yemenis like Amal — one of 1.8 million severely malnourished children in Yemen — have put a human face to fears that a catastrophic man-made famine could engulf the country in the coming months.

The United Nations warns that the number of Yemenis relying on emergency rations, 8 million, could soon rise to 14 million. That’s about half Yemen’s population.

Aid workers and now political leaders are calling for a cessation of hostilities, as well as emergency measures to revive the battered economy of Yemen, where soaring food prices have pushed millions to the brink.

On a trip to Yemen to see the toll the war has taken, we found Amal at a health center in Aslam, 90 miles northwest of the capital, Sanaa. She was lying on a bed with her mother. Nurses fed her every two hours with milk, but she was vomiting regularly and suffering from diarrhea.

Dr. Mekkia Mahdi, the doctor in charge, sat by her bed, stroking her hair. She tugged on the flaccid skin of Amal’s stick-like arms. “Look,” she said. “No meat. Only bones.”

Amal’s mother was also sick, recovering from a bout of dengue fever that she had most likely contracted from mosquitoes that breed in stagnant water in their camp.

Saudi airstrikes had forced Amal’s family to flee their home in the mountains three years ago.

It's the refugee and migrant crisis you haven't heard of!!

The family was originally from Saada, a province on the border with Saudi Arabia that has borne the brunt of at least 18,000 Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen since 2015. Saada is also the homeland of the Houthi rebels who control northern Yemen and are seen by the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, as a proxy for rival Iran.

The geopolitics of the war seemed distant, however, in the hushed hunger wards in Aslam.

Amal is Arabic for “hope,” and some readers expressed hope that the graphic image of her distress could help galvanize attention on a war in which tens of thousands of civilians have died from violence, hunger or disease. Last year, Yemen suffered the largest cholera epidemic in modern times, with over 1 million cases.

You hear even less about that, and it's mind boggling.

Amal was discharged from the hospital in Aslam last week, still sick, but doctors needed to make room for new patients, Mahdi said. “This was a displaced child who suffered from disease and displacement,” she said. “We have many more cases like her.”

The family took Amal back home, to a hut fashioned from straw and plastic sheeting at a camp where relief agencies do provide some help, including sugar and rice, but it was not enough to save Amal.

Her condition deteriorated, with frequent bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, her mother said. On Oct. 26, three days after she was discharged from the hospital, she died.

Mahdi had urged Amal’s mother to take the child to a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Abs, about 15 miles away, but the family was broke. Fuel prices have risen about 50 percent in the past year, part of a broader economic collapse, and that has pushed even short, potentially lifesaving journeys beyond the reach of many families.

“I had no money to take her to the hospital,” Ali said. “So I took her home.”


The Saudis dug her grave for her, in more ways than one:

"Saudi-led coalition bombs air base in Yemen’s capital" by Samy Magdy Associated Press  November 02, 2018

CAIRO — A Saudi-led coalition fighting Shi’ite Houthi rebels in Yemen said Friday it bombed an air base adjacent to the Sana international airport allegedly being used by the rebels to launch drone and ballistic missile attacks.

The airstrikes came days after a US call for an urgent halt to the Saudi-Iran proxy war in Yemen and the start of negotiations in November toward a political settlement of the conflict. The war has pushed millions to the brink of starvation in the Arab world’s poorest country.

Turki al-Malki, a spokesman for the coalition, said in TV comments that Saudi air defense forces on Friday shot down a missile launched by Yemeni rebels at the southern Saudi border city of Najran.

Sure they did.

Meanwhile, fighting in the Hodeida province has intensified in the past days, security officials said.

You got 30 days.

They said forces backed by airstrikes from the Saudi-led coalition have been trying to retake the port city of Hodeida, the main entry point for food in a country teetering on the brink of famine.

Then a cease fire shall be declared, when the Saudis control the port!

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday urged a cease-fire, specifically citing missile and drone strikes into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. He also said airstrikes by the Arab coalition, backed by the United States, ‘‘must cease in all populated areas in Yemen.’’

‘‘The time is now for a cessation of hostilities,’’ Pompeo said. His plea came shortly after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis spoke in unusual detail about diplomacy to end the crisis.

‘‘Yemen has more problems than any people deserve to carry,’’ Mattis said.

The US call comes nearly a month after the slaying of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi Consulate in Turkey causing international outrage against the Saudis. The killing prompted critics to urge an end to American arms sales to the kingdom and a reappraisal of US military support for the Saudi-led Arab coalition that has been bombing Iranian-supported Houthi rebels, sometimes at the expense of killing civilians.

In March 2015, the Saudi-led coalition unleased a full-scale military campaign against Iran-allied Houthi rebels who had captured most of Yemen including the capital, Sana, a few months earlier. The rebels pushed the internationally recognized government out of the country.

The only alliance between them is the rebels are also Shi'ite.

An estimated 10,000 people have been killed.

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is one of the worst in the world, with three quarters of the population of 27 million requiring some form of life-saving assistance and protection, according to the United Nations Population Fund. The agency warned Thursday that the looming famine in Yemen could put 2 million mothers at risk of death.


UNFPA said lack of food, displacement, poor nutrition, disease outbreaks, and eroding health care have dramatically affected the health and well-being of 1.1 million malnourished women who are pregnant or are breast-feeding their newborns.

The UN has made no progress in attempts to get the warring sides to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the conflict.


Also see:

"The regional chief of the UN children’s agency said Saturday that Yemeni authorities are making it difficult to deliver much-needed humanitarian aid and warned that impeding relief efforts could plunge the country into famine. Geert Cappelaere said in an interview that recent US calls for a cease-fire are imperative to ending the nearly four-year war, which pits a Saudi-led coalition against Iran-aligned rebels known as Houthis. Cappelaere criticized authorities with ‘‘other interests’’ for creating delays in the arrival and distribution of supplies, without elaborating (AP)."

Maybe this was the reason:

"Over 150 killed in weekend violence around Yemen’s Hodeida" by Ahmed Al-Haj Associated Press  November 05, 2018

SANA, Yemen — Fighting has escalated around Yemen’s key port city of Hodeida, with more than 150 combatants killed over the weekend from both the rebel and government-backed sides, officials said Sunday.

Airstrikes and naval artillery pounded rebel positions around the Red Sea coastal city, where government backed-troops are launching a major ground assault to try to wrest it from dug-in rebels. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

The rebels, known as Houthis, said they repelled the latest offensive on Hodeida, killing or wounding 215 troops, but did not provide a breakdown. They said they destroyed 20 armored vehicles over the past 24 hours.

Fierce fighting also erupted in the provinces of Bayda, to the south, and Saada, a Houthi stronghold in the north, they added.

The offensive came despite recent calls by the Trump administration for a cease-fire by late November.

Meaning the calls came with a wink and a nod.

Yemen has been at war since March 2015 when the Houthis occupied northern regions and forced the government into exile. Since then, a Saudi-led, US-backed coalition supporting the largely exiled government has blockaded the rebel-held north and waged a devastating air campaign, causing thousands of deaths. The United States has sold billions of dollars’ worth of arms to Saudi Arabia and provides logistical and other support to the coalition.

The coalition accuses the Houthis of acting as Iran’s proxy. 

There is no evidence of that. 

The war has led to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Three-quarters of Yemen’s people require life-saving assistance, according to the UN Population Fund. An estimated 10,000 people have been killed and more than 8 million are at risk of starvation from a looming famine.

Now THAT is a Holocaust™!

The regional director of the UN children’s agency, Geert Cappelaere, said the warring sides in Yemen make it difficult to deliver and distribute humanitarian aid to the country.

He said the situation is a ‘‘living hell’’ for all Yemeni children, singling out the death last week of 7-year-old Amal Hussein who had suffered from severe malnutrition.

‘‘Unfortunately, Amal is not the only Yemeni child suffering that fate,’’ he told a news conference in Amman, Jordan. ‘‘Thirty thousand children in Yemen die every single year of malnutrition as one of the most important underlying causes. There is not one Amal — there are many thousands of Amals.’’

The Associated Press had photographed Amal — whose name means ‘‘hope’’ in Arabic — in August. A photograph of the emaciated child with a protruding rib cage and stick-like arms also appeared recently on the front page of The New York Times.

Medics say her death was the result of insufficient medical care as supplies dwindle and many people like Amal live far from treatment centers.

Mariam Ali, Amal’s mother, told the AP on Sunday that she had been walking on foot under the rain for over an hour to reach a health center when her daughter died in the middle of the road last week.

‘‘I collapsed and only woke up to find myself home surrounded by neighbors who wrapped me in a blanket while my husband took Amal away,’’ Mariam said.

I'm speechless and really can not even contemplate the grief involved, even as my eyes tear up.

She has six children who have suffered bouts of vomiting and diarrhea but recovered, whereas Amal was sick for four years before she died.


Airstrikes have been common in many Yemeni cities, including the capital, Sana.
Airstrikes have been common in many Yemeni cities, including the capital, Sana (Tyler Hicks/New York Times/File).

Here is where they were headed:

"Just six months ago, Saudi Arabia looked like the New World to Hollywood. Industry advisers and dealmakers crowded a Beverly Hills hotel to rub shoulders with a visiting delegation from the kingdom, which was ending a 35-year ban on movie theaters, but....."

Last year, Saudi women attended a film festival after the lifting of a decades-old ban.
Last year, Saudi women attended a film festival after the lifting of a decades-old ban (AFP/Getty Images/File 2017).

The film they were watching starred John Cena.

More scriptwriting:

"Speaking on Monday in Geneva, the president of Saudi Arabia’s human rights commission, Bandar al-Aiban, vowed a full investigation and punishment of those responsible, but shed no new light on the case. His remarks, before the United Nations Human Rights Council, came in a review of the kingdom’s human rights record. Since Khashoggi’s killing, international companies have come under pressure to cut ties to Saudi Arabia, but Monday, the chief executive of SoftBank of Japan said it would continue to do business with the kingdom....."

They are refusing to cut ties with Saudi Arabia because they share their views about women.

"Troops from a US-backed, Saudi-led coalition pounded Houthi rebel positions in Yemen’s Hodeida with airstrikes and a ground assault on Wednesday and now control a major road leading into the city, military officials and witnesses on both sides of the front line said. An Emirati-trained force known as the Giants, backed by Apache attack helicopters, secured an urban area along 50th Street, which leads to the city’s key Red Sea port facilities, they added. They said the Iran-backed Shi’ite rebels had been firing mainly from elevated and rooftop sniper positions, and have resorted to burning tires to obscure the gunships’ view. Most civilians have fled the area, they said. Dozens of fighters have been killed and hundreds wounded from both sides since a renewed coalition offensive on the city began five days ago, following calls by the Trump administration for a cease-fire by late November. The Saudi-led coalition, which seeks to restore to power the internationally recognized Yemeni government, has been at war with the Houthis since March 2015."

And the clock is ticking.

"Turkey’s president says recording of Khashoggi’s killing given to US" by Mark Landler and David D. Kirkpatrick New York Times  November 10, 2018

WASHINGTON — The White House declined to say whether it had a copy of the recording, but if true, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s claim puts President Trump in a deeply awkward position, suggesting he possesses direct evidence of dissident Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, even as he has resisted tough sanctions against the Saudis and declined to say exactly who he believes was responsible for the crime.

Erdogan said at a news conference in Ankara before flying to Paris to join Trump and other leaders at an international gathering that they “gave them the tapes and they’ve also listened to the conversations. There is no need to distort this,” and is that how Erdogan plans to gain leverage with Trump?

The Trump administration has taken modest steps against the Saudi government, suspending air-refueling flights for the Saudi military campaign in Yemen and preparing human rights sanctions against Saudis who have been linked to the killing of Khashoggi, but the White House has declined to finger Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has developed close ties to Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and has become a linchpin of the administration’s Middle East strategy.

The administration’s limited actions against the Saudis seem calculated in part to head off a tougher response in Congress.

While Trump said he believes the Saudis tried to cover up the killing, he has steadfastly reserved judgment on who is to blame until the Saudi government provides a definitive public accounting of the killing, based on its own investigation. That is expected this coming week.

Trump was likely to meet with Erdogan in Paris, where dozens of world leaders gathered at the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Trump got SPAMed.

Turkish and Western officials have previously discussed the existence of the audio recordings only on the condition of anonymity. Turkish officials have said the audio includes clear evidence of a premeditated killing.

The director of the CIA, Gina Haspel, met with Turkish intelligence officials in Ankara last month, and Turkish and US officials said she was allowed to listen to the recordings but not take a copy with her.

This is the most I've seen her name since the torturer of Thailand got the job.

It is unclear when or how the Turks shared the recording with the other governments. It is also unclear whether Erdogan views the sharing of the audio with Haspel as amounting to handing it over to the United States.

What is clear is the Turks were bugging the embassy.

While the timing of the Turkish disclosures is uncertain, Turkey’s motivation for doing so is not. In the weeks since the killing, Erdogan has abandoned his initially cautious effort to avoid a full rupture in Turkish relations with Riyadh, and he has instead entered into an all-out campaign to damage or even dislodge Crown Prince Mohammed from power......

Like a coup?

Why would Erdogan treat others the way he was treated by Obama?


Won't be a game changer anyway:

"Few expect ‘game changer’ in Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen after US ends refueling support" by Ali Al Mujahed and Sudarsan Raghavan Washington Post  November 10, 2018

CAIRO — The decision by the United States to stop refueling warplanes of a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen was welcomed by Yemeni rebel officials, human rights activists, and aid workers Saturday.

It also sent a strong signal, they said, about Washington’s increasing unease over airstrikes by its closest Middle East allies that have killed thousands of civilians in Yemen, but those interviewed said the decision is highly unlikely to rein in the coalition — unless more concrete action is taken.

And we are not uneasy about our own!

Nor will it alone change the trajectory of Yemen’s war, they said, or its growing humanitarian crisis, which now includes more than 14 million people on the brink of famine — more than half of Yemen’s population.

The United States, Britain, and other Western powers continue to support the coalition with intelligence, logistical support, and billions of dollars in weaponry, much of it being deployed in Yemen, the Middle East’s poorest nation.

Saudi Arabia on Friday night claimed that it had asked the Pentagon to stop aerial refueling of its warplanes because its forces were capable of performing the task themselves.

‘‘The US decision to stop refueling coalition aircraft is significant because it implies that the US is trying to distance itself from the devastating impact on civilians of poorly targeted airstrikes,’’ said Elisabeth Kendall, a Yemen scholar at Oxford University. ‘‘But it is not a military game changer.’’

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Sunni Muslim countries in the coalition are seeking to oust Shi’ite Houthi rebel forces, which the United States and allies claim are backed by Iran. Tehran denies this.

The goal of the Saudi-led war is to restore Yemen’s internationally recognized government, driven out of the Yemeni capital Sana in 2015, and prevent Iran from gaining a foothold in the Arabian Peninsula.

On Saturday, the Houthi deputy minister of information, Fahmi Alyusufi, described the US decision as an ‘‘assurance for those opposing the American involvement in the aggression’’ by the Saudi-led coalition.

Another Houthi political official dismissed the refueling stoppage as incremental because the United States is still providing intelligence and logistical support, as well as sending US military trainers to Saudi Arabia to help in the war effort.

So the cease fire talk was just to get everyone calmed down, huh?

The US move ‘‘will have an effect on the duration of their aircrafts in the air, but it will not paralyze the aggression’s ability to escalate the conflict,’’ said the official, Mohammed Albukhaiti. ‘‘The siege on Yemen is a US and Western siege because such a siege is beyond the capabilities of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.’’

The US refueling of coalition aircraft has long been controversial because of the large numbers of civilians that have been killed as a result of coalition airstrikes. The United Nations estimates that at least 10,000 have died, while other reputable organizations have tallied more than 50,000 killed since the war began more than three years ago.

Oh, the 10K figure was a lowball. It's 5x that!

Coalition airstrikes have struck hospitals, health clinics, weddings, funerals, factories, and other nonmilitary targets. 

Aren't those war crimes?

Fragments from US-made bombs have been found at numerous attack sites by the human rights groups and The Washington Post.

In August, more than 40 children were killed when a coalition airstrike hit their school bus with a US-made bomb. Saudi Arabia initially claimed that Houthi fighters were inside the bus, but later recanted following international pressure triggered by images of the bloody aftermath.

After each airstrike, Yemenis often blame the United States in the same breath as the Saudi-led coalition for their tragedies. Human rights activists have suggested that the United States could be complicit in committing war crimes in Yemen.

Don't hold your breath waiting for charges at the ICC.

The mounting civilian death toll, despite promises by the coalition to be more careful in their targeting, brought increasing focus on ending the US refueling from US lawmakers, seeking to curb arm sales to Saudi Arabia and end US involvement in Yemen’s war.

In recent congressional meetings, it became clear that the Pentagon had very little oversight over Saudi Arabia’s military activities in Yemen. In March, Army General Joseph Votel, head of US Central Command, told Congress that US forces did not track whether US fuel or munitions had been used in coalition operations that resulted in civilian deaths.

Human rights activists Saturday said the US decision to end the refueling support was long overdue.

‘‘Any step aimed at reining in the Saudi Arabian and UAE-led coalition’s reckless aerial bombardment of civilian areas in Yemen is a step in the right direction,’’ said Amnesty International’s Middle East director, Lynn Maalouf, but the refueling stoppage, she added, ‘‘does not go far enough,’’

Kristine Beckerle, Yemen researcher for Human Rights Watch, said ‘‘the decision to end refueling is a clear, if extremely belated, acknowledgment of the awful way the coalition has been waging this war, and the risks the US has taken in when it comes to complicity.’’

‘‘The US and other coalition allies should be seizing this moment to suspend all arms sales, demand an end to abuses and call for accountability for the too many we’ve already seen,’’ Beckerle added.

The refueling halt comes as the coalition has mounted a fierce offensive on the Yemeni port city of Hodeida in the past week. Scores of airstrikes have struck in and around the city. Civilian casualties are once again mounting from the air assaults and shelling. The port is the main gateway for much of the food, fuel, medicines, and humanitarian aid entering northern Yemen, home to 80 percent of its population.

They only have 20 days until the cease fire.

With the offensive Hodeida now threatening to deepen the crisis, aid workers hope the United States will take more measures to help Yemenis.

‘‘The US has an opportunity to continue taking steps that make a very real difference for people in Yemen,’’ said Suze van Meegen, protection and advocacy adviser in Yemen for the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Among those steps, she said, was ‘‘pushing for an immediate cease-fire’’ and making sure that ‘‘all seaports and airports in the country are open and functioning, allowing for the swift transportation of food, fuel and people in need of medical treatment.’’

With Friday’s decision, more of the responsibility for preventing civilian casualties will fall squarely on the Saudis. It remains to be seen if the Trump administration will be pressured to take more action to rein in the coalition.

‘‘Saudi Arabia has framed the announcement as a win, claiming that it requested the US to stop refueling its aircraft because its own improved military professionalism means it can now do this for itself,’’ Kendall said.

‘‘The question now is: Will this be enough to satisfy Congress that the US cannot be held responsible for errant airstrikes, or is it just a first step to further measures?’’


"Saudis close to prince discussed assassinating enemies a year before Khashoggi killing" by Mark Mazzettiand Ronen Bergman and David D. Kirkpatrick New York Times  November 11, 2018

WASHINGTON — Top Saudi intelligence officials close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman asked a small group of businessmen last year about using private companies to assassinate Iranian enemies of the kingdom, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The Parallax View!

The Saudis inquired at a time when Mohammed, then the deputy crown prince and defense minister, was consolidating power and directing his advisers to escalate military and intelligence operations outside the kingdom.

Remember the attack on the Iranian military parade?!

Saudi officials have portrayed Khashoggi’s death as a rogue killing ordered by an official who has since been fired, but that official, Major General Ahmed al-Assiri, was present for a meeting in March 2017 in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, where the businessmen pitched a $2 billion plan to use private intelligence operatives to try to sabotage the Iranian economy.

It's being done as we speak.

The interest in assassinations, covert operations, and military campaigns like the war in Yemen — overseen by Mohammed — is a change for the kingdom, which historically has avoided an adventurous foreign policy that could create instability and imperil Saudi Arabia’s position as one of the world’s largest oil suppliers.

As for the businessmen, who had intelligence backgrounds, they saw their Iran plan as a source of income and a way to cripple a country that they and the Saudis considered a threat. George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, arranged the meeting. He had met with Mohammed and had pitched the Iran plan to Trump White House officials. Another participant in the meetings was Joel Zamel, an Israeli with deep ties to his country’s intelligence and security agencies.....



"Three months before the 2016 election, a small group gathered at Trump Tower to meet with Donald Trump Jr., the president's eldest son. One was an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation. Another was an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes. The third was a Republican donor with a controversial past in the Middle East as a private security contractor. At the time, the emissary was also promoting a secret plan to use private contractors to destabilize Iran. The meetings, which have not been reported previously, are the first indication that countries other than Russia may have offered assistance to the Trump campaign....." 

I'm sorry, NYT, SAY AGAIN?

The contractor is Erik Prince (brother of Betsy DeVos) of Blackwater fame, the specialist is Joel Zamel, whose company employs several Israeli former intelligence officers specializing in collecting information and shaping opinion through social media and was paid up to $2 million, and the emissary would be the infamous Israeli fixer and interventionist George Nader, a convicted pedophile with a shadowy past, who frequently met with Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn. 

So when are Mueller and the Democrats going to focus on them, and if so, will the pre$$ bother to report on it and pound it like they do so much fake news?


"‘Tell Your Boss’: Recording is seen to link Saudi crown prince more strongly to Khashoggi killing" by Julian E. Barnes, Eric Schmitt and David D. Kirkpatrick New York Times  November 13, 2018

WASHINGTON — The recording, shared last month with CIA Director Gina Haspel, is seen by intelligence officials as some of the strongest evidence linking Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Virginia resident and Washington Post columnist whose death prompted an international outcry.

“A phone call like that is about as close to a smoking gun as you are going to get,” said Bruce O. Riedel, a former CIA officer now at the Brookings Institution. “It is pretty incriminating evidence.”

Turkish officials have said that the audio does not conclusively implicate Crown Prince Mohammed, and U.S. intelligence and other government officials have cautioned that however compelling the recording may be, it is still not irrefutable evidence of his involvement in the death of Khashoggi.

Even if Mutreb believed the killing was ordered by the crown prince, for example, he may have had an inaccurate understanding of the origins of the order. Crown Prince Mohammed is not specifically named on the recording, and intelligence officials do not have ironclad certainty that Mutreb was referring to him.

In a statement Monday, Saudi officials denied that the crown prince “had any knowledge whatsoever” of Khashoggi’s killing.

The Turks may possess multiple recordings, including surveillance of telephone calls, and Turkish authorities may have shared the audio only selectively.

A CIA spokesman declined to comment.

The call was part of a recording that Turkish officials played for Haspel during her visit in October to Ankara, Turkey’s capital, but they did not allow her to bring it back to the United States. On Saturday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey announced that his government had shared the audio with Saudi Arabia, the United States and other Western allies.

The growing evidence that Crown Prince Mohammed was involved in the killing of Khashoggi is certain to intensify pressure on the White House, which appeared intent on relying on a lack of concrete proof of his involvement to preserve its relationship with him. The crown prince has fostered a close relationship with the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and the Trump administration has turned Saudi Arabia into Washington’s most crucial Arab partner.

Some Trump advisers have argued that they would need indisputable evidence of Crown Prince Mohammed’s involvement in Khashoggi’s killing before they would punish him or the kingdom more harshly. Turkish officials have said the recording contains evidence of a premeditated killing, in which Saudi agents quickly strangled Khashoggi and methodically dismembered his body with a bone saw.

The administration, according to current and former officials, is hoping that making some modest moves on sanctions and curtailing support for the Saudi war effort in Yemen will satisfy critics, including those on Capitol Hill, but the shift in power in Congress, where Democrats take control of the House in January, is also increasing pressure on the administration to take more punitive action.....


As Erdogan presses for answers and Trump taps a new ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Lindsey Graham foresees sanctions.

"Saudi Arabia distances crown prince from Khashoggi killing" by Kareem Fahim and Zakaria Zakaria Washington Post  November 15, 2018

ISTANBUL — Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor released the findings of a long-awaited investigation of the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Thursday, saying that a team of Saudi agents dispatched to Istanbul with orders to bring him home alive had instead killed the journalist and dismembered his body.


If so, why did they bring a bone saw?

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince had no knowledge of the operation, Shaalan al-Shaalan, a spokesman for the prosecutor, said at a news conference in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

He said that 11 suspects have been indicted and that authorities are seeking the death penalty for five of them. None of the suspects were named. The order to kill Khashoggi, who had criticized the Saudi monarchy over the past year, came from one of the leaders of the Saudi team in Istanbul, Shaalan said.

Prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb’s conclusion — that the killing was authorized by relatively low-level officials who disobeyed orders and acted on the fly — contradicted assertions by Turkish investigators, who have said it was a meticulously planned operation, with elaborate preparations to cover up the crime that included scouting locations where Khashoggi’s body could be disposed of in secret.

They scapegoated these guys and are expecting us to believe it?

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said the slaying was premeditated and the orders came from ‘‘the highest levels of the Saudi government,’’ without specifying exactly who was responsible.

Turkey has called for an international investigation into the killing. On Thursday, its foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said that some of the latest Saudi statements about the killing were not ‘‘satisfactory.’’

‘‘This is not something that happens instantaneously,’’ he said. ‘‘People and tools were brought to dismember the body.’’

Khashoggi, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post, was killed Oct. 2, soon after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents he needed to remarry.

The US Treasury said Thursday that it would impose sanctions on 17 individuals linked to the ‘‘abhorrent killing.’’ On the list was Saud al-Qahtani, a close adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the consul general of the Istanbul mission, Mohammed al-Otaibi.

‘‘These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions,’’ the Treasury said in a statement.

Officials in several countries have said it is unlikely that Khashoggi was killed without the knowledge of the crown prince, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, but there is no definitive evidence that Mohammed ordered the operation. Saudi officials deny that the crown prince was in any way responsible for Khashoggi’s death.

‘‘He did not have any knowledge,’’ Shaalan said Thursday.

It's called plausible deniability.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir described the killing as a ‘‘mistake’’ and denied any involvement on the part of Mohammed. ‘‘His royal highness the crown prince has nothing to do with this issue,’’ he told reporters in Riyadh.

Mojeb’s statement Thursday implicated two higher-level officials in what the prosecutor said was an operation intended either to persuade or force Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia. One of them, Ahmed al-Assiri, a former deputy head of intelligence, issued an order for Khashoggi’s return on Sept. 29, the prosecutor said. That was one day after Khashoggi first visited the Saudi consulate and was told to return the following week.

Qahtani, on the US sanctions list Thursday, was also involved in planning Khashoggi’s repatriation, according to the prosecutor.

Saudi officials have changed their story about Khashoggi’s killing several times since he disappeared, first denying any knowledge of his whereabouts and then saying that he was killed during a fistfight.

In the latest version laid out by the prosecutor, a 15-member team was formed to bring Khashoggi back from Istanbul, ‘‘by means of persuasion, and if persuasion fails, to do so by force.’’ The team included a forensic expert ‘‘for the purpose of removing evidence from the scene in case force had to be used to return the victim,’’ according to a summary of the prosecutor’s statement that was e-mailed to reporters.

The leader of the Saudi team also contacted a collaborator in Turkey to secure a safe house in case Khashoggi was forcibly removed, the statement said, but after deciding that moving Khashoggi to a safe house would not be possible, a team leader decided to kill the journalist, according to the prosecutor.

‘‘The investigation concluded that the crime was carried out after a physical altercation with the victim where he was forcibly restrained and injected with a large amount of a drug resulting in an overdose that led to his death, may Allah bless his soul,’’ the statement said.

So they drugged him to death and then chopped him up.

Khashoggi’s body was dismembered and then taken by one of the Saudi agents to the ‘‘local collaborator,’’ according to the prosecutor, who said a sketch of the collaborator has been produced.

Turkish officials have complained repeatedly about Saudi Arabia’s refusal to identify the collaborator and said they suspect that such a person does not exist. They have also demanded that the Saudis reveal the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s remains.

Turkey’s prosecutor said late last month that Khashoggi was strangled or suffocated as soon as he entered the consulate, in line with ‘‘premeditated plans.’’

Khashoggi’s eldest son, Salah Khashoggi, announced Thursday on Twitter that the family would receive condolence visits beginning Friday.


CIA says Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s killing by Julian E. Barnes New York Times  November 16, 2018

My front page print copy had an article by the Washington ComPost:

"CIA concludes Saudi crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s assassination" by Shane Harris, Greg Miller and Josh Dawsey Washington Post  November 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month, contradicting the Saudi government’s claims that he was not involved in the killing, according to people familiar with the matter.

The CIA’s assessment, in which officials have said they have high confidence, is the most definitive to date linking Mohammed to the operation and complicates the Trump administration’s efforts to preserve its relationship with a close ally.

What does high confidence mean?

Isn't that what they said about Iraqi WMD?

So the CIA puts out a report that complicates things for Trump?

Can you say Deep State?

In reaching its conclusions, the CIA examined multiple sources of intelligence, including a phone call that the prince’s brother Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, had with Khashoggi, according to the people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence. Khalid told Khashoggi that he should go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so.

It is not clear if Khalid knew that Khashoggi would be killed, but he made the call at his brother’s direction, according to the people familiar with the call, which was intercepted by US intelligence.

Fatimah Baeshen, a spokeswoman for the Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C., said the ambassador and Khashoggi never discussed ‘‘anything related to going to Turkey.’’ She added that the claims in the CIA’s ‘‘purported assessment are false.’’

The CIA’s conclusion about Mohammed’s role was also based on the agency’s assessment of him as the country’s de facto ruler who oversees even minor affairs in the kingdom. ‘‘The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved,’’ said a US official familiar with the CIA’s conclusions.

The CIA sees Mohammed as a ‘‘good technocrat,’’ the US official said, but volatile and arrogant, someone who ‘‘goes from zero to 60, doesn’t seem to understand that there are some things you can’t do.’’


Yeah, the CIA says there are some assassinations you don't do -- like killing a CIA asset!

CIA analysts believe he has a firm grip on power and is not in danger of losing his status as heir to the throne despite the Khashoggi scandal.

Over the past several weeks, the Saudis have offered multiple, contradictory explanations for what happened at the consulate. This week, the Saudi public prosecutor blamed the operation on a rogue band of operatives who were sent to Istanbul to return Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia.

The assassination of Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Mohammed’s policies, has sparked a foreign policy crisis for the White House and raised questions about the administration’s reliance on Saudi Arabia as a key ally in the Middle East and bulwark against Iran.

President Trump has resisted pinning the blame for the killing on Mohammed, who enjoys a close relationship with Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser. Aides said Trump has been shown evidence of the prince’s involvement but remains skeptical that Mohammed ordered the killing.

Maybe he is no longer useful.

Among the intelligence assembled by the CIA is an audio recording from a listening device that the Turks placed inside the Saudi consulate, according to the people familiar with the matter. The Turks gave the CIA a copy of that audio, and the agency’s director, Gina Haspel, has listened to it.

The audio shows that Khashoggi was killed within moments of entering the consulate, according to officials in multiple countries who have listened to it or been briefed on its contents.

The CIA’s assessment of Mohammed’s role in the assassination also tracks with information developed by foreign governments, according to officials in several European capitals who have concluded that the operation was too brazen to have taken place without Mohammed’s direction.

In addition to calls and audio recordings, CIA analysts also linked some members of the Saudi hit team directly to Mohammed himself. Some of the 15 members have served on his security team and traveled in the United States during visits by senior Saudi officials, including the crown prince, according to passport records reviewed by The Washington Post.

The US had also obtained intelligence before Khashoggi’s death that indicated he might be in danger, but it wasn’t until after he disappeared, on Oct. 2, that US intelligence agencies began searching archives of intercepted communications and discovered material indicating that the Saudi royal family had been seeking to lure Khashoggi back to Riyadh.

Two US officials said there has been no indication that officials were aware of this intelligence in advance of Khashoggi’s disappearance or had missed any chance to warn him.

Another intel snafu, 'eh?

One lingering question is why Mohammed decided to kill Khashoggi.

A theory the CIA has developed is that Mohammed believed Khashoggi was a dangerous Islamist who was too sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood, according to people familiar with the assessment. Days after Khashoggi disappeared, Mohammed relayed that view in a phone call with Kushner and John Bolton, the national security adviser, who has long opposed the Brotherhood and seen it as a regional security threat.

That's why Morsi was overthrown, and you see who is really running US foreign policy!

US officials are unclear on when or whether the Saudi government will follow through with its threatened executions of the individuals blamed for Khashoggi’s killing. ‘‘It could happen overnight or take 20 years,’’ the US official said, adding that the treatment of subordinates could erode Mohammed’s standing going forward.

In killing those who followed his orders, ‘‘it’s hard to get the next set [of subordinates] to help,’’ the official said.....


Is the CIA leak aimed at Kushner and Trump or someone else?


I'll bet MbS won't end up like mayor of Fall River:

"Was Fall River’s mayor what he seemed?" by Evan Allen and Laura Crimaldi Globe Staff  October 23, 2018

FALL RIVER — Mayor Sam Sutter couldn’t believe it. City Councilor Jasiel F. Correia II, his opponent in the 2015 Fall River mayor’s race, was launching into their first one-on-one debate by accusing him of lying, corruption, and unethical behavior.

At 23, Correia was already a hell of a politician. He was charming and sharp, a celebrated entrepreneur, a wunderkind with his eyes locked on the camera, but Sutter had known Correia for years and believed he was not what he seemed. A brilliant businessman? From what Sutter could tell from his campaign research, Correia appeared to have left some of his investors deep in the red.

“I think if anybody has integrity issues in this campaign, it’s you,” Sutter told Correia during the debate. And later: “How much money do you owe investors?”

Three years later, the FBI would provide an answer to the question Correia dodged that night on his way to winning the election: $231,447. On Oct. 11, Correia was arrested and arraigned in federal court in Boston, charged with defrauding investors in his tech startup SnoOwl and filing false tax returns to hide it. Federal prosecutors allege Correia spent the money on expensive travel, adult entertainment, and a luxury car.

In the wake of the charges, some who know Correia say there were warning signs that he was more gifted at flash than substance and that he valued his career over the struggling city he drove through in his black 2011 Mercedes-Benz C300 AWD Sport Sedan. The youngest mayor in the city’s history launched his alleged SnoOwl scheme the same year he launched his first run for public office. The stories he had told about his business acumen were, the government alleges, a convincingly constructed fantasy.

“What he is,” said Sutter, “is a salesman.”

Correia has furiously proclaimed his innocence and pleaded not guilty. At a press conference last Tuesday, he called the charges a “politically motivated attack” by an investor whose son wanted a city job, and he unveiled a PowerPoint presentation that he said proved SnoOwl was a working app.

“I will not allow political enemies to remove me from office for their own selfish agendas,” Correia said.

He has refused to resign, raising the specter of a vicious legal fight with the City Council, which is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to oust the mayor, who calls himself a “Fall River kid made good.”

Correia and a spokesperson did not provide answers to a detailed list of questions for this article.

Correia once seemed to embody everything that Fall River felt it was losing. It is a city that ranks regularly on lists of the most dangerous places in the area to live, where the young people grow up and leave, where the windows of the old mill buildings that once powered the city’s economy break and stay broken, and Correia was young, energetic, relentless. He’d been a teenage activist named Fall River’s Youth of the Year in 2009 and a college intern for Senator John F. Kerry. In 2014, the local Chamber of Commerce gave him an “Entrepreneur of the Year” award. He spoke passionately of the need to bring businesses and youth to the city, and he’d started a “business incubator” called 1ZERO4 Business Academy in a mill building on Anawan Street, filling it with SnoOwl, other people’s startups, a pool table, and a baby grand piano.

He was such a good kid.

His parents had considered moving away from Fall River when he was in middle school, his mother told the Associated Press, but Correia told them they had to stay so he could be mayor. And who knew what he might aspire to afterward? When he ran for president of the student congress at Providence College, one campaign ad flashed a picture of his face in the style of Barack Obama’s “Hope” poster, but where some saw a rising star, others saw a young man with a nice car and a fixation on image, who rose to power almost haphazardly, after a bizarre incident involving former mayor William Flanagan and a gun.

The first time Correia ran for City Council, in 2013, he came in 10th in a field of 18 vying for nine seats. He joined the council only after one member left to take a job with city government.

Eight months later, he found himself at the center of a political firestorm. City residents, enraged over Fire Department layoffs and a pay-as-you-throw trash program, sought to recall then-Mayor Flanagan. Correia signed the petition.

A few days later, Correia said Flanagan asked him to meet late at night in his car, where, Correia said, Flanagan placed a gun on the dashboard while trying to persuade Correia to withdraw his name from the petition, according to a special prosecutor’s report.

Flanagan denied the accusation, and no charges were filed in the incident. A special prosecutor found Correia credible, but the evidence insufficient to support a criminal charge. But Flanagan was recalled, and Sutter was elected in a special election. A year later, in 2015, when Sutter’s term was up, Correia ran against him.

Correia emerged from his encounter with Flanagan as a sympathetic figure, said Linda Pereira, a former city councilor who tried unsuccessfully to unseat Correia in the 2017 election. “People in Fall River perhaps thought he was going to be a shining light. He was going to be a young adult, he brought spark to the city. People felt, ‘Let’s give him a chance,’ ” said Pereira. “But as time progressed and decisions were made I think people started to question that.”

He is a lot like MbS.

Ray Mitchell, 75, a former city councilor and School Committee member, met with the mayor soon after his swearing in for his first term. Correia outlined plans for key personnel changes in several departments, and Mitchell said he counseled the mayor to take it slow.

Correia responded by sticking his finger in Mitchell’s face, he said.

“Look, I didn’t call you up here for advice. I don’t need it, nor do I want it,” Mitchell said the mayor told him. “I called you up here to tell you what I’m going to do, and I’m not changing my mind.”

Mitchell said he was shocked.

By the dictatorial tendencies?

“I personally felt that he liked the power of being mayor,” Mitchell said. “I also think he had delusions of grandeur, which unfortunately ultimately got him into trouble.”

Correia’s tenure was not without success. He changed the city’s motto from the limping “We’ll Try” to the more confident “Make it Here” and eliminated an unpopular trash pickup fee. His office said that he took the city from a $500,000 deficit to an $8 million surplus, and supporters credit him with shepherding key construction projects, investing in the police and fire departments, and fully funding city schools, but questions about Correia’s private business affairs surfaced and began to interfere with his ability to run the city.

Maybe it is all political.

One high-profile example was the combustion of his relationship with the Fall River Office of Economic Development and its president, Frank Marchione, an early supporter of and donor to Correia’s mayoral campaign.

Marchione said his relationship with the mayor soured in the spring of 2017, when Correia accused a staff member at the Office of Economic Development of urging the FBI to look into him and moved to block funding to the agency. Correia has disputed Marchione’s account, and said the agency was mismanaged, though he has also said repeatedly that the investigation was triggered by his political opponents.

Marchione denied that the agency tipped off the FBI, but said agents came to the staff member’s home, and then asked for documents. Fearing his agency and its members could be tarnished by the investigation if it looked like they’d concealed it, Marchione publicly disclosed the probe at a board meeting in April 2017.

Afterward, Marchione still hoped the Office of Economic Development could work with the mayor, but Correia, he said, wouldn’t set aside his grievance and seemed to want only to settle the score.

“I’m the mayor, and I need a win on this!” Marchione said Correia told him.

“It was the beginning of the end,” said Marchione. The agency renamed itself Bristol County Economic Development Consultants. It now does little work with the city and continues to battle a city lawsuit from that time.

How interesting.

For some who dreamed of great things for Correia, his arrest was a tragic fall.

“I’m just heartbroken,” said the Rev. Mark Nowel, the dean of undergraduate and graduate studies at Providence College. Nowel said he spoke with Correia about politics and was delighted, as a “technological dinosaur,” to hear about the work Correia said he was doing.

“He was obviously destined to be a leader,” Nowel said.

Niki Fontaine, who works on the city’s opioid task force, said she doesn’t believe the mayor is guilty. She said he was a passionate advocate who supported city programs for addicts and initiated a city lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies over the opioid crisis.


Made a powerful enemy did he!

“I really hope it comes out that he didn’t do it,” she said, but others are finished with him. In Columbia Bakery, which Correia once pointed out to a WBUR reporter as a shop from his childhood where his parents still bought fresh bread, the owner threw up his hands.

“Let the mayor stay in jail!” exclaimed Joaquin Dias, adding that he never liked the mayor, who is not currently in jail.

Citizens have started a petition to recall Correia if the City Council does not force him out first.

Two workers in the converted mill on Anawan Street where Correia had set up his Business Academy said they remembered Correia in his SnoOwl days coming to the office in his Mercedes and striding confidently through the building.

Now, there are few traces of his efforts there.

The second floor of the renovated mill where Correia ran SnoOwl and his 1ZERO4 business incubator is empty except for a clothing company, its sewing machines whirring behind white walls. In a turn that now seems prophetic, a $250,000 MassDevelopment grant for the incubator that Correia once bragged about in a mayoral debate was never actually awarded. The agency said last week that he had missed the deadline for filing paperwork.

The only sign SnoOwl was ever there is the baby grand piano in the dark.


Also see:

Embattled mayor wants council to know what he’s been working on since arrest

Fall River City Council votes no confidence in Correia

Fall River mayor can’t use legal defense fund for criminal case, OCPF says

Push to recall Fall River mayor gains momentum

Can you recall a crown prince?


“You know, we also have a great ally in Saudi Arabia,” Trump said. “They give us a lot of jobs and a lot of business and economic development. They have been a truly spectacular ally in terms of jobs and economic development.”

He says this in the wake of the CIA leaking the report to the pre$$ before they brief him!

"US-led airstrikes kill 40 in Islamic State area of Syria, report says" by Sarah el Deeb Associated Press  November 17, 2018

BEIRUT — US-led coalition airstrikes on the last pocket held by Islamic State militants in Syria near the Iraqi border killed at least 40 people, mostly women and children, a war monitor and Syrian state media reported.

Well, so much for lecturing Saudi Arabia as well as noting how the slaughter in Yemen has receded in my pre$$ pages.

The coalition confirmed strikes in the area but said no ‘‘civilian casualties are associated’’ with them, reiterating that it takes measures to avoid noncombatant casualties.

‘‘We have witnessed [the Islamic State] using places of worship and hospitals as command centers against the laws of war, and innocent civilians as human shields,’’ Colonel Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the coalition, said in an e-mail to the Associated Press.

Oh, they did just what the Saudis are doing. 


The remote area near the border with Iraq is difficult to access and it was not possible to independently verify the reports; however, Rami Abdurrahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the early Saturday airstrikes hit homes in Abu al-Hassan village, near the town of Hajin, which lies along the border with Iraq.

That's a one-man shop in London, and an ally of the U.S., saying that so.....

Abdurrahman said the airstrikes killed at least 43 people, including 17 children and 12 women. He said it was not immediately clear if the men killed in the strikes were militants.

Syrian state news agency SANA also reported the strikes, saying 40 were killed in the remote area of Buqaan, another village next to Abu al-Hassan, in Deir el-Zour province.

The Islamic State-linked Aamaq news agency also reported 40 killed, quoting a medical official in the Hajin area.

Everyone is confirming it, including U.S.- and allied-supported ISIS™.

Activist Omar Abou Leila, who monitors the war in Deir el-Zour from Europe, also confirmed the strikes but said it was difficult to verify the death toll. Abou Leila said militants are preventing civilians from leaving the area, resulting in the high casualty toll among them.

The US-led coalition and its local partners on the ground, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, launched the campaign against the last Islamic State-held pocket in early September.

The Observatory has recorded at least 191 civilians killed since Sept. 10, including 65 children and 45 women. They are mostly Iraqis and believed to include family members of Islamic State militants, the Observatory added.

Speaking to the Associated Press in Iraq Saturday, the coalition’s Deputy Commander Major General Christopher Ghika described the fight against the Islamic State as ‘‘difficult.’’

‘‘We never thought or said this fight would be easy. These are some of the most determined fighters and they’ve had a lot of time to prepare their defensive positions, so this isn’t an easy fight, and our Syrian democratic force partners with coalition support are taking the fight every day to the enemy,’’ Ghika said.

While making tons more of them.



"A commander in a Central African Republic militia has been arrested and turned over to the International Criminal Court to face charges that include murder and torture, the court announced Saturday. The court, established to prosecute atrocities such as war crimes, said Central African Republic authorities surrendered Alfred Yekatom on Saturday. Court spokesman Fadi El Abdallah would not say if Yekatom already had been sent to the court’s headquarters in The Hague. The Central African Republic has been plagued by interreligious and intercommunal fighting since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the capital and mainly Christian anti-Balaka militias fought back. The violence left thousands of people dead and displaced hundreds of thousands more....."

Was war crimes, you say?