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Posts Tagged ‘Saudi’

Joe Biden’s Submissive — and Highly Revealing — Embrace of Saudi Despots

Posted by M. C. on June 13, 2022

Biden’s immediate abandonment of his 2020 vow to turn the Saudis into “pariahs,” and his increasing support for the regime, shows the core deceit of U.S. propaganda.

Then-Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal (2nd R) welcomes then-US Vice President Joe Biden (C) at the Riyadh airbase on October 27, 2011, upon his arrival in the Saudi capital with a US official delegation to offer condolences to the King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz following the death of his brother, Crown Prince Sultan. AFP PHOTO/STR (Credit: AFP via Getty Images)

In 2018, President Trump issued a statement reaffirming the U.S.’s long-standing relationship with the Saudi royal family on the ground that this partnership serves America’s “national interests.” Trump specifically cited the fact that “Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world” and has purchased hundreds of billions of dollars worth of weapons from U.S. arms manufacturers. Trump’s statement was issued in the wake of widespread demands in Washington that Trump reduce or even sever ties with the Saudi regime due to the likely role played by its Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

What made these Trump-era demands somewhat odd was that the Khashoggi murder was not exactly the first time the Saudi regime violated human rights and committed atrocities of virtually every type. For decades, the arbitrary imprisonment and murder of Saudi dissidents, journalists, and activists have been commonplace, to say nothing of the U.S./UK-supported devastation of Yemen which began during the Obama years. All of that took place as American presidents in the post-World War II order made the deep and close partnership between Washington and the tyrants of Riyadh a staple of U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Yet, as was typical for the Trump years, political and media commentators treated Trump’s decision to maintain relations with the Saudis as if it were some unprecedented aberration of evil which he alone pioneered — some radical departure of long-standing, bipartisan American values — rather than what it was: namely, the continuation of standard bipartisan U.S. policy for decades. In an indignant editorial following Trump’s statement, The New York Times exclaimed that Trump was making the world “more [dangerous] by emboldening despots in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere,” specifically blaming “Mr. Trump’s view that all relationships are transactional, and that moral or human rights considerations must be sacrificed to a primitive understanding of American national interests.”

The life-long Eurocrat, former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, lamented what he described as Trump’s worldview: “if you buy US weapons and if you are against Iran – then you can kill and repress as much as you want.” CNN published an analysis by the network’s White House reporter Stephen Collinson— under the headline: “Trump’s Saudi support highlights brutality of ‘America First’ doctrine” — which thundered: “Refusing to break with Saudi strongman Mohammed bin Salman over the killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Trump effectively told global despots that if they side with him, Washington will turn a blind eye to actions that infringe traditional US values.” Trump’s willingness to do business with the Saudis, argued Collinson, “represented another blow to the international rule of law and global accountability, concepts Trump has shown little desire to enforce in nearly two years in office.”

Perhaps the most vocal critic of Trump’s ongoing willingness to maintain ties with the Saudi regime were then-Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. 

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Deconstructing the Saudi narrative on the war in Yemen – Responsible Statecraft

Posted by M. C. on January 13, 2022

Recent economic growth in Sana’a raises questions about just who is the main driver of the humanitarian crisis.

The U.S. media continues to echo the Saudi narrative. While AA have committed abuses, the main causes of the humanitarian crisis and instability in Yemen are the Saudi airstrikes, the blockade, and the armed groups competing for power, many of which were established by the Saudis and the UAE.

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2022/01/12/deconstructing-the-saudi-narrative-on-the-war-in-yemen/

Written by
Aisha Jumaan

On December 18, Hisham Sharaf, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Ansar-Allah-led government in Sana’a, Yemen, called for U.N.-sponsored negotiations to end the war. Two days later, the Saudi Air Force launched a fresh wave of air raids on Sana’a, targeting the airport and civilian areas. Yet, reports in the U.S. media continue to promote an inaccurate narrative that demonizes Ansar-Allah while portraying the Saudis as seeking peace. 

Most U.S. journalists and government officials refer to the AA-led government in Sana’a as the “Houthi rebels” or the “Iran-backed Houthis,” and portray them as monopolizing control. In fact, the AA-led government reflects a coalition: the Supreme Political Council includes Ansar-Allah and the General People’s Council, which was the political party established by former President Saleh. Although some members of the GPC left the coalition, others remained. The prime minister of the Sana’a government, Abdel-Aziz bin Habtour, is from the south and was appointed by President Hadi to serve as the governor of Aden from late 2014 to 2015. Hisham Sharaf is currently the foreign minister: he served as a minister in multiple governments starting in 2011. Insisting on referring to the government in Sana’a as “Houthi rebels” obscures the role of other groups and conceals the presence of a real government in Sana’a. 

During a recent visit to Yemen in early September, I observed several additional factors that the dominant media narrative on Yemen has overlooked. I spent two months visiting family and overseeing the work of the charity I run, the Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation. The following trends demonstrate that the areas under the control of the AA-led government in Sana’a are attracting citizens and businesses due to their relative security. If Sana’a manages to win the war, it will likely be due to this kind of progress, rather than a military victory. Likewise, the relative weakness of the internationally recognized government (IRG) based in Riyadh, is due mainly to its inability to establish conditions for Yemenis to begin to rebuild their lives, despite the military backing of the Saudi-led coalition.

Rising population of Sana’a

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Attorney General Barr Refuses to Release 9/11 Documents… — ProPublica

Posted by M. C. on April 22, 2020

“The extraordinary lengths that they’re going to here suggest that there must be some deep, dark secret that they’re still trying very hard to hide after almost 20 years,” said a lawyer for the families, Steven Pounian. “But who are they protecting? Something might be a Saudi government secret. But how can these be secrets that still need to be kept from the American people after all this time?”

https://www.propublica.org/article/attorney-general-barr-refuses-to-release-9-11-documents-to-families-of-the-victims

by Tim Golden and Sebastian Rotella

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published.

 

Months after President Donald Trump promised to open FBI files to help families of the 9/11 victims in a civil lawsuit against the Saudi government, the Justice Department has doubled down on its claim that the information is a state secret.

In a series of filings just before a midnight court deadline on Monday, the attorney general, William Barr; the acting director of national intelligence, Richard Grenell; and other senior officials insisted to a federal judge in the civil case that further disclosures about Saudi connections to the 9/11 plot would imperil national security.

But the administration insisted in court filings that even its justification for that secrecy needed to remain secret. Four statements to the court by FBI and Justice Department officials were filed under seal so they could not be seen by the public. An additional five, including one from the CIA, were shared only with the judge and cannot be read even by the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

Barr insisted to the court that public discussion of the issue “would reveal information that could cause the very harms my assertion of the state secrets privilege is intended to prevent.”

What the various security agencies are trying to hide remains a mystery.

Since the plaintiffs filed their lawsuit in federal district court in New York in 2017, their primary focus has been on the relationship between the hijackers and relatively low-level Saudi officials. Those include at least two Saudis who crossed paths in Southern California with the first two Al Qaeda operatives who were sent to the United States by Osama bin Laden in January 2000.

Yet the broad outlines of the hijackers’ connections to those two Saudi officials — a diplomat at the kingdom’s Los Angeles consulate and a suspected Saudi spy living as an exchange student in San Diego — have been publicly known for years. The FBI shared thousands of pages of its files on the plot with the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, which explored them in its 2004 report.

“The extraordinary lengths that they’re going to here suggest that there must be some deep, dark secret that they’re still trying very hard to hide after almost 20 years,” said a lawyer for the families, Steven Pounian. “But who are they protecting? Something might be a Saudi government secret. But how can these be secrets that still need to be kept from the American people after all this time?”

The Justice Department has declassified some information about the Saudi role in 9/11 and shared it with lawyers for the plaintiffs under a protective order that allows them to read it but not make it public. But the department has not asked the lawyers to obtain security clearances to view other material, as is fairly common in national security cases involving American and foreign citizens whose constitutional rights are at issue.

The chorus of senior national security officials who wrote in support of the Trump administration’s secrets claim appeared to respond in part to Justice Department guidelines set down by the Obama administration in 2009. Those rules were intended to restrain overly aggressive use of the privilege, which the administration of George W. Bush had often cited after 9/11 to block legal challenges to its policies on torture, extraordinary rendition and warrantless surveillance.

Barr cited those more restrictive guidelines in his statement to the district court, noting that they prohibited the government from asserting a state secrets claim in order to conceal illegalities or potential embarrassment. He assured the magistrate judge in the case, Sarah Netburn, that those guidelines had been met.

At a ceremonial gathering at the White House last Sept. 11, representatives of the families of those killed in the attacks repeatedly asked Trump for fuller access to the FBI’s secret files in the case. According to more than a half-dozen people who were at the meeting, he assured several of them he would help.

“He looked us in the eye on 9/11, he shook our hands in the White House and said, ‘I’m going to help you — it’s done,’” recalled one of those present, Brett Eagleson, a banker whose father was killed in the World Trade Center. “I think the 9/11 families have lost all hope that the president is going to step up and do the right thing. He’s too beholden to the Saudis.”

The White House press office did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment on the families’ characterizations of the meeting. One day after that encounter, Justice Department officials agreed to release the name of one mid-level Saudi religious official who had been tied to the case in an FBI document that had been partially declassified earlier. At the same time, however, Barr asserted the state secrets privilege to protect other FBI documents sought by the families. The latest flurry of statements supporting that claim responded to challenges from the plaintiffs.

Although the close alliance between the United States and the Saudi kingdom has survived countless moments of tension, it has frayed in recent months in ways that could prove helpful to plaintiffs in the 9/11 lawsuit.

In recent weeks, Republican senators from states that have been hard hit by the collapse of world oil prices have criticized the Saudi government with growing intensity. On March 25, before the Trump administration negotiated a cut in Saudi oil production, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska cited the law under which the 9/11 families were allowed to sue the Saudi government as one of the levers of pressure that the United States could use if the kingdom did not take account of American concerns.

In a letter on Monday, three other influential senators asked the Justice Department’s inspector general to examine in depth why the FBI has refused to disclose more information about Saudi connections to the plot in response to a subpoena filed by the 9/11 families in 2018.

Those senators, Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican, and two Democrats, minority leader Charles Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, cited a recent investigative report by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine that raised new questions about the FBI’s inquiry into the Saudi role in the attacks.

“The September 11 attacks represent a singular and defining tragedy in the history of our Nation,” the senators wrote to the Justice Department inspector general, Michael Horowitz. “Nearly 20 years later, the 9/11 families and the American public still have not received the full and transparent accounting of the potential sources of support for those attacks to which they are entitled.”

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Tomgram: Michael Klare, It’s Always the Oil | TomDispatch

Posted by M. C. on July 12, 2019

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176584/tomgram%3A_michael_klare%2C_it%27s_always_the_oil/#more

Michael Klare

What more did you need to know once Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted that a suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, claimed by the Taliban, was Iranian-inspired or plotted, one “in a series of attacks instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American and allied interests”? In other words, behind the Sunni extremist insurgents the U.S. has been fighting in Afghanistan since October 2001 lurks the regime of the Shiite fundamentalists in Tehran that many in Washington have been eager to fight since at least the spring of 2003 (when, coincidentally enough, the Bush administration was insisting that Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime had significant ties to al-Qaeda).

It couldn’t have made more sense once you thought about it. I don’t mean Pompeo’s claim itself, which was little short of idiotic, but what lurked behind it.  I mean the knowledge that, only a week after the 9/11 attacks, Congress had passed an authorization for the use of military force, or AUMF, that allowed the president (and any future president, as it turned out) “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.”

In other words, almost 18 years later, as Pompeo knows, if you can link any country or group you’re eager to go to war with to al-Qaeda, no matter how confected the connection, you can promptly claim authorization to do your damnedest to them. How convenient, then, should you be in the mood to make war on Iran, if that country just happens to be responsible for terror attacks linked to the Taliban (which once did harbor al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden). Why, you wouldn’t even need to ask Congress for permission to pursue your war of choice. And keep in mind that, recently, Congress — or a crew of corrupted, degraded Republican senators — simply couldn’t muster the votes or the will to deny President Trump the power to make war on Iran without its approval.

Let me hasten to add that the supposed link to al-Qaeda isn’t the only thing the Trump administration has conjured up to ensure that it will be free to do whatever it pleases when it comes to Iran. It’s found various other inventive ways to justify future military actions there without congressional approval. Pompeo and crew have, in that sense, been clever indeed. As TomDispatch regular Michael Klare, author of the upcoming book All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change, points out today, there’s only one word largely missing from their discussions of the increasingly edgy situation in the Persian Gulf, the most obvious word of all. But read him yourself if you want to understand just how, when it comes to Iran and that missing word — to steal a phrase from the late, great Jonathan Schell — the fate of the Earth is at stake. Tom

The Missing Three-Letter Word in the Iran Crisis
Oil’s Enduring Sway in U.S. Policy in the Middle East
By Michael T. Klare

It’s always the oil. While President Trump was hobnobbing with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G-20 summit in Japan, brushing off a recent U.N. report about the prince’s role in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Asia and the Middle East, pleading with foreign leaders to support “Sentinel.” The aim of that administration plan: to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. Both Trump and Pompeo insisted that their efforts were driven by concern over Iranian misbehavior in the region and the need to ensure the safety of maritime commerce. Neither, however, mentioned one inconvenient three-letter word — O-I-L — that lay behind their Iranian maneuvering (as it has impelled every other American incursion in the Middle East since World War II)….

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Sold: Oil Rack - Ampol with six bottles, reproduction sign ...

 

 

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Who Is Paying for the War in Yemen? – The Atlantic

Posted by M. C. on December 11, 2018

Is this really a surprise? The Saudis already spent a bundle taking down the World Trade Center.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/12/pentagon-refueling-controversy-saudi-led-war-yemen/577666/

 

President Donald Trump, who repeatedly complains that the United States is paying too much for the defense of its allies, has praised Saudi Arabia for ostensibly taking on Iran in the Yemen war. It turns out, however, that U.S. taxpayers have been footing the bill for a major part of the Saudi-led campaign, possibly to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

The revelation—detailed in a Defense Department letter obtained by The Atlantic—is likely to raise further ire among senators who have grown ever-more critical of Saudi conduct in the war, which has resulted in a growing number of civilian casualties, and U.S. support for it.

Since the start of the Saudi-led intervention, in March 2015, and up until last month, the United States provided mid-air refueling for Saudi-led coalition aircraft that then flew missions related to the Yemen campaign. Getting heavy U.S. tankers into the air and carrying out this job is enormously expensive. The recipient country is required by law to pay the costs, but that isn’t what happened here. In a mea culpa of sorts, the Pentagon’s November 27 letter states that while the Defense Department “believed” Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates “had been charged for the fuel and refueling services, they in fact had not been charged adequately.” How inadequately, the Pentagon will not yet say; it is “currently calculating the correct charges,” the letter states…

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America Is Committing War Crimes and Doesn’t Even Know Why – Foreign Policy

Posted by M. C. on August 20, 2018

There is a simple reason officials from both the Obama and Trump administrations have made no public efforts to justify the material support provided to the Saudi-led intervention: It is unjustifiable.

“If you ask why we’re backing this … the answer you’re going to get from most people—if they were being honest—is that we weren’t going to be able to stop it.” This constitutes gross strategic negligence: effectively allowing the poor decisions of Gulf monarchies to determine U.S. military policy.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/08/15/america-is-committing-awful-war-crimes-and-it-doesnt-even-know-why/

BY 

 

The United States has spent far more time obscuring its role in the Saudi-led war in Yemen than in explaining any rationale for it.

Gen. Austin answered with refreshing honesty: “I don’t currently know the specific goals and objectives of the Saudi campaign, and I would have to know that to be able to assess the likelihood of success.” Gillibrand replied, “Well, I do hope you get the information sooner than later.” In other words, the military commander responsible for overseeing the provision of support for a new air war in the Middle East did not know what the goals of the intervention were, or how he could evaluate whether it was successful. The United States had become a willing co-combatant in a war without any direction or clear end state.

Two inevitable results have followed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Saudi Warplanes Attack Crowded Restaurant at Northern Yemen Port – News From Antiwar.com

Posted by M. C. on January 1, 2018

US efforts to improve Saudi targeting, mentioned in a recent post, have not panned out. The US military effectiveness is about the same as when we train and equip Iraq freedom fighters. The difference is the Saudis can’t defect to ISIS, you can’t have a one sided coin.

http://news.antiwar.com/2017/12/31/saudi-warplanes-attack-crowded-restaurant-at-northern-yemen-port/

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Bombshell Revelation of US and Saudi Culpability in Creating ISIS Ignored by Mainstream Media

Posted by M. C. on November 28, 2017

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/11/03/bombshell-revelation-us-saudi-culpability-creating-isis-ignored-mainstream-media-trump.html

Bombshell Revelation of US and Saudi Culpability in Creating ISIS Ignored by Mainstream Media

JAMES GEORGE JATRAS | 03.11.2017 | OPINION

Bombshell Revelation of US and Saudi Culpability in Creating ISIS Ignored by Mainstream Media

Here it is, right from the horse’s mouth! Qatar’s former prime minister spills his guts about how his country worked with Saudi Arabia and Turkey under the direction of the United States – meaning then the Obama Administration – to funnel arms and money to jihad terrorists in Syria:

‘The explosive interview constitutes a high level “public admission to collusion and coordination between four countries to destabilize an independent state, [including] possible support for Nusra/al-Qaeda.” …  Former Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, who oversaw Syria operations on behalf of Qatar until 2013,… said while acknowledging Gulf nations were arming jihadists in Syria with the approval and support of US and Turkey: “I don’t want to go into details but we have full documents about us taking charge [in Syria].” He claimed that both Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah (who reigned until his death in 2015) and the United States placed Qatar in a lead role concerning covert operations to execute the proxy war. Read the rest of this entry »

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The US-Saudi Starvation Blockade

Posted by M. C. on November 24, 2017

Woodrow Wilson, Churchill, Mattis and Netanyahu would agree the answer to the question below is a big, fat YES. Yemen is a supersized Gaza.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/11/patrick-j-buchanan/the-us-saudi-starvation-blockade/

Our aim is to “starve the whole population — men, women, and children, old and young, wounded and sound — into submission,” said First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill.

He was speaking of Germany at the outset of the Great War of 1914-1918. Americans denounced as inhumane this starvation blockade that would eventually take the lives of a million German civilians.

Yet when we went to war in 1917, a U.S. admiral told British Prime Minister Lloyd George, “You will find that it will take us only two months to become as great criminals as you are.”

After the Armistice of Nov. 11, 1918, however, the starvation blockade was not lifted until Germany capitulated to all Allied demands in the Treaty of Versailles. Read the rest of this entry »

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