Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

The Ottomans were once humiliated by Yemeni rebels – today, the Houthis have done the same to Saudi Arabia

I rarely have reason to thank Turkish ambassadors. They tend to hold a different view of the 1915 Armenian holocaust, in which a million and a half Armenian Christians were deliberately murdered in a planned genocide by the Ottoman Turkish regime. “Hardship and suffering”, they agree, was the Armenians’ lot. But genocide? Never.

Well, that’s not the view of genocide scholars – including Israeli historians – nor of that bravest of Turkish academics, Taner Akcam, who has prowled thorough the Ottoman archives to find the proof. The Armenians did suffer, alas, a genocide.

Certainly my gratitude to His Excellency Umit Yalcin, Turkish ambassador to the Court of St James, is not for his letter to me, in which he describes the Armenian genocide as a “one-sided narrative”. But he did enclose a small book, published five years ago by Edward Erickson, whose contents obfuscate the details of the mass slaughter of the Armenians, even daring to suggest that the Ottoman “strategy of population relocation” should be seen in the contemporary setting of Britain’s policy of “relocating” civilians in the Boer War (in “concentration camps”) in South Africa, and by the Americans in the Philippines.

Interesting. But we didn’t mass rape the Boer women, burn their children and drown Boer men in rivers.

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Posted by on December 20, 2018 in Middle East


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Spare me America’s tears for Jamal Khashoggi – this excuse for Trump-bashing ignores the CIA’s past crimes

Can I be the only one – apart from his own sycophants – to find the sight of America’s finest Republicans and Democrats condemning the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia for murdering Jamal Khashoggi a bit sickening? “Crazy”. “Dangerous”. A “wrecking ball”. A “smoking saw”. These guys are angry. CIA director Gina Haspel, who was happy to sign off on the torture of her Muslim captives in a secret American prison in Thailand, obviously knew what she was talking about when she testified about Mohammed bin Salman and the agony of Jamal Khashoggi.

US government leaks suggest that Haspel knew all about the shrieks of pain, the suffering of Arab men who believed they were drowning, the desperate pleading for life from America’s victims in these sanctuaries of torment in and after 2002. After all, the desperate screams of a man who believes he is drowning and the desperate screams of a man who believes he is suffocating can’t be very different. Except, of course, that the CIA’s victims lived to be tortured another day – indeed several more days – while Jamal Khashoggi’s asphyxiation was intended to end his life. Which it did.

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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Middle East, North America


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The Enduring Fantasy of the Modernizing Autocrat

“Oil is flowing again into the free markets of the world,” The New York Times declared in 1954 as Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, visited the United States. The previous year, a C.I.A.-backed coup had overthrown Iran’s elected prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, and within a few years the C.I.A. would help found Savak, the shah’s diabolical security agency, responsible for the torture and disappearance of countless dissidents. According to The Times, however, Mossadegh was “where he belongs — in jail,” and Iran under its monarch was open to “new and auspicious horizons.”

The following year, The Atlantic Monthly hailed the shah as “an articulate and positive force,” summing up the tone of the American press coverage of a ruthless usurper decades before politicians, investors and journalists in the United States began to praise another oil-rich potentate and American ally: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, who now stands accused of unspeakable crimes including the murder and dismemberment with a bone saw of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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Posted by on December 11, 2018 in Middle East


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To unlock the diplomatic mysteries behind the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, take a look at Syria

The Saudis are going to get away with it. Muhammad bin Salman, too. They may pay a price – we’ll travel in that direction later – but they remain the “vision of light” against Iran’s “vision of darkness”, in the words of Saudi Arabia’s ever more egregious foreign minister.

We are all, alas, making the same old Middle East mistake: of thinking that the bad guys will get overthrown or punished for their murders and transgressions and that the good guys (whoever they may be) will come out on top.

Jamal Khashoggi was the victim of murder most foul. But in the Middle East’s sectarian civil war, the Sunnis have got to win over the Shiites and the Saudis have got the money, and America’s president – for whom the epithet “insane” is now as irrelevant as it is obvious – has managed to quote the Saudis as claiming that Khashoggi was “an enemy of the people” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Even if his murder was “terrible” and “a horrible crime”. It could very well be, announced the leader of the free world this week, that bin Salman had knowledge of the murder. “Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

The story clip-clops along like an old horse and we all trot along behind this lovable, familiar, furry beast.

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Posted by on November 30, 2018 in Middle East


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Pakistan in the middle of Saudi, Iran and rival pipeline plans

A tweet roared like announcing a blockbuster premiere and sanctions did engulf Iran on time – despite opposition from Russia, China and the EU-3 (France, Germany and the United Kingdom), who still support the United-Nations endorsed Iran nuclear treaty.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called this an economic war waged by a “bullying power”.
The US has imposed sanctions on Iranian shipping, finance and energy exports, blacklisting 700 people. They target the EU special mechanism to facilitate purchases of Iranian oil, a sort of alternative international payment system, and threats persist about cutting Iran completely off the Swift system (although several Iranian banks are already suspended).

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Posted by on November 22, 2018 in Middle East


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Jamal Khashoggi: The Arab despots’ existential enemy

For the last month, we have all been living in a film. Something that could have been scripted by Quentin Tarantino. It’s a drama that straddles two eras.

The first is the 21st century, when a fast-talking 33-old year Saudi Prince strides onto the world stage as a reformer – confident, corner cutting, the scourge of the old, the bearer, we are told, of “moderate” Islam. Jamal Khashoggi once told me that this “moderate” prince was building himself his fourth yacht.

Medieval savagery

But this story has only one foot in the 21st century. The other foot is in the 10th century. This was when lords of the manor descended into their dungeons to hear the screams of their captives. Jamal Khashoggi was killed with medieval savagery. His screams were recorded by his killers. He took seven minutes to die.

This is the point at which the actions of a Saudi prince are indistinguishable from that of the Islamic State (IS). The moderate becomes the monster.

Until Khashoggi’s murder on 2 October at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the border between 21st century and 10th century was frictionless. Imagine if Khashoggi had not stepped into the consulate. The great and the good would have descended on Davos in the Desert, Saudi Arabia’s investments conference held in Riyadh last week.

Uber, Richard Branson, and Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) managing director, would have fawned at the feet of the boy king, while the population of Hodeidah starves. They genuflect to tyranny with a lip gloss of liberalism.

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Posted by on November 21, 2018 in Middle East



Trudeau won’t stop $12bn of arms sales to Saudi after Khashoggi’s death because money always wins over murder

Almost 5,000 miles from the city in which his corpse was secretly buried – in one piece or in bits – by his Saudi killers, Jamal Khashoggi’s murder now rattles the scruples and the purse-strings of yet another country. For Canada, land of the free and liberal conscience – especially under Justin Trudeau – is suddenly confronted by the fruits of the bright young prime minister’s Conservative predecessors and a simple question of conscience for cash: should Trudeau tear up a 2014 military deal with Saudi Arabia worth $12bn?

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Posted by on November 21, 2018 in Middle East, North America


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In the Aftermath of Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder, Saudi Arabia Enters a Dangerous Period

After a month, it seems we finally have a good picture of Jamal Khashoggi’s last moments. In early October, the Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and was immediately descended upon by members of the Saudi government hit squad sent to kill him. They strangled him to death, according to Istanbul’s chief prosecutor, Irfan Fidan. Within seven minutes of walking through the consulate’s front door, Khashoggi was dead. Apparently relying on music to soothe his conscience, the forensic scientist among the assassins then sawed up and possibly destroyed his body. Then they fled the country.

Yet for all the details that have emerged about Khashoggi’s murder, there are still crucial elements of the crime we don’t know—namely, where the body, or what was left of it, was disposed of, and whether Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in whose employ many of the assassins worked, ordered or condoned the killing. How can we find out?

Here’s how: Force the Saudi government to make available Mubarak Mohammed al-Otaibi, the consul-general, who was in his office at the time of the murder. Otaibi was present during Khashoggi’s murder but apparently did not take part. “Do this outside,’’ Otaibi complained to the killers, according to a Turkish official interviewed by the newspaper Yeni Safak. “You’re going to get me in trouble.”

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Posted by on November 21, 2018 in Middle East



Saudi dissident prince flies home to tackle MBS succession

Prince Ahmad bin Abdulaziz, the younger brother of King Salman, has returned to Saudi Arabia after a prolonged absence in London, to mount a challenge to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman or find someone who can.

The septuagenarian prince, an open critic of bin Salman (MBS), has travelled with security guarantees given by US and UK officials.

“He and others in the family have realised that MBS has become toxic,” a Saudi source close to Prince Ahmad told Middle East Eye.

“The prince wants to play a role to make these changes, which means either he himself will play a major role in any new arrangement or to help to choose an alternative to MBS.”

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Posted by on October 31, 2018 in Middle East



The Yemen war death toll is five times higher than we think – we can’t shrug off our responsibilities any longer

One reason Saudi Arabia and its allies are able to avoid a public outcry over their intervention in the war in Yemen, is that the number of people killed in the fighting has been vastly understated. The figure is regularly reported as 10,000 dead in three-and-a-half years, a mysteriously low figure given the ferocity of the conflict.

Now a count by a non-partisan group has produced a study demonstrating 56,000 people have been killed in Yemen since early 2016. The number is increasing by more than 2,000 per month as fighting intensifies around the Red Sea port of Hodeidah. It does not include those dying of malnutrition, or diseases such as cholera.

“We estimate the number killed to be 56,000 civilians and combatants between January 2016 and October 2018,” says Andrea Carboni, who researches Yemen for the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), an independent group formerly associated with the University of Sussex that studies conflicts and is focusing attention on the real casualty level. He told me he expects a total of between 70,000 and 80,000 victims, when he completes research into the casualties, hitherto uncounted, who died between the start of the Saudi-led intervention in the Yemen civil war, in March 2015, and the end of that year.

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Posted by on October 29, 2018 in Middle East


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