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On his three-week pilgrimage to the US (March 19– April 9), Muhammad bin Salman missed no opportunity to tell big lies in order to give the impression of being “normal” and catching up with modernity. His biggest lie, endlessly repeated was that before 1979, Saudis were “normal people.” “We were living a very normal life like the rest of the Gulf countries,” he told CBS’ program, “60 Minutes.” “Women were driving cars, there were movie theatres in Saudi Arabia; women worked everywhere. We were normal people developing like any other country in the world until the events of 1979.”

“Saudi” Arabia has been anything but normal since Bani Sa‘ud grabbed power in 1924–1925. They perpetrated gruesome massacres of pilgrims and residents in al-?a’if, Makkah, and Madinah. Numerous authors have meticulously documented these crimes (David Howarth, The Desert King: A life of Ibn Saud, London, UK, 1984, p. 143; and Ibrahim al-Rashid (editor), Documents on the History of Saudi Arabia, Volume II, Documentary Publications, Salisbury, NC, US, 1976, pp. 163–67). In Madinah, the city of the noble Messenger (pbuh), the Najdi hordes even raped women.

They have distorted the message of Islam, violated the sanctity of its sacred places, imposed savage laws far removed from the principles of Islam and indulged in other barbaric practices. They have also destroyed many historical places and wiped out vital landmarks of Islamic history.

The very name Saudi Arabia is shirk; it amounts to claiming that the Bedouin family from the backwaters of Najd owns this land (nastaghfir-allah). The noble Messenger (pbuh) had named it “The Arabian Peninsula.” Throughout history, successive generations of Muslims adhered to this name until Bani Sa‘ud erupted on the scene. They were British agents and have now become agents of imperialism and Zionism.

Let us recall what exactly did Bin Salman (BS) meant when he referred to the year 1979. In November of that year, as the new Islamic hijri century (1400ah) began, a group of people led by Juhayman al-‘Utaybi wanted to overthrow the decrepit dynasty. Juhayman and his followers were the children of the Ikhwan that ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Sa‘ud had betrayed and then slaughtered in 1929, again with British help (British planes had bombed the Ikhwan fighters killing virtually all of them).

When news of Juhayman’s uprising leaked out, the group sought refuge in al-Masjid al-Haram, the holiest of Islam’s sanctuaries where no argument and altercation, much less violence or killing, are permitted. Juhayman had hoped that Bani Sa‘ud would not violate the sanctity of the Haram, something that even the mushriks at the time of the noble Messenger (pbuh) did not do. Bani Sa‘ud, however, proved worse than the Makkan mushriks. Instead of trying to find a negotiated solution to the problem — and it was possible — they brought mercenaries from Morocco, Jordan and even non-Muslim French commandos to attack the Haram.

According to the Bani Sa‘ud’s own rules, non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the boundaries of the Haram. So on what basis did they bring not only heavily armed Moroccan and Jordanian troops but also French commandos? Their court clergy came to the rescue with a fatwa. Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Baz, blind from childhood, and his coterie of equally primitive fellow clerics, willingly issued a fatwa allowing armed assault on the Haram and the people who had sought sanctuary there.

The Najdi Bedouins have little regard for Islamic injunctions as was evident in their massacre of pilgrims in 1924–1925 and the rape of Muslim women in Madinah. In 1979, once the hired mercenaries assaulted the Haram, most of Juhayman’s followers including women and children were killed. The floor of the Haram was splattered with blood. Those who were captured alive, including Juhay-man, were publicly beheaded. The religious establishment, however, demanded its pound of flesh. They were granted vast new powers. This was a quid pro quo for their fatwa in violation of a clear Qur’anic injunction that declares Makkah, and especially al-Masjid al-Haram and its precincts, as an abode of peace and safety (2:125).

True, since the November 1979 uprising against Bani Sa‘ud rule, the court clergy have become more brazen in their pronouncements but to suggest that life was “normal” prior to that is a complete lie. As Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who had to flee the country, wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post, “Women weren’t driving cars [before 1979]. I didn’t see a woman drive until I visited my sister and brother-in-law in Tempe, Arizona, in 1976” (April 5, 2018).

Khashoggi suggests that restrictions on women intensified not merely in the aftermath of the November 1979 uprising but predate them by many years. He links it to the attempt by “…a 19-year-old Saudi princess who tried to flee the country with her lover. They were both executed in 1977; the episode was the subject of a 1980 British documentary drama Death of a Princess. The reaction of the government to the princess’ elopement was swift: the segregation of women became more severe, and no woman could travel without the consent of a male relative.”

MBS has long been suspected of pushing to forge a historic alliance between the sellout Saudi monarchy and apartheid Israel as a part of his reform agenda. In an apparent bid to prove his reliability as an ally and a “modernizer,” MBS met during his US tour with a veritable who’s-who of the hard-right pro-Israeli Jewish community. The list of groups includes right-wing organizations that have helped finance squatter colonies in the West Bank, sought to outlaw the BDS movement, and played the role of Israeli military mouthpieces during Israel’s multiple campaigns of aggression against the people of Gaza and colonized Palestine. According to Israeli daily Haaretz, the 32-year-old crown prince met with officials and leaders from AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Stand Up for Israel project, and the Jewish Federations of North America. Each of these groups has tried to delegitimize and prevent the BDS campaign, denouncing its calls for the economic and cultural isolation of the Israeli colonial project as a form of anti-Semitism. Other groups that the Saudi royal met include the American Jewish Committee (AJC), which has denounced progressive Jews who break from Tel Aviv’s right-wing party line as anti-Semites; and B’nai B’rith, the leading Jewish organization that has expedited colonial activity in Palestine through fully subsidized “birthright” trips for US youth.

So why is BS so keen on advan-cing a new narrative that is divorced from the reality of life in Saudi Arabia? The aim is to promote his own agenda, presenting himself as a “moderate” and “modernizer.” While the West and especially opinion makers in the US are aware of the grim reality facing people in the medieval kingdom, they are willing to accept BS’ false narrative because they have their eyes on the Kingdom’s wealth.

During the March 20 meeting in the White House, Donald Trump brought out a chart that illustrated the “beautiful weapons” Saudi Arabia will buy from the US. At one point, Trump told BS, “Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy nation, and they’re going to give the United States some of that wealth…” 
Later, referring to a $600 million deal, Trump said to BS, “That’s peanuts for you.” The intent was clear: you (the Saudis) have lots of cash and America wants that or else. BS cannot say “no” if he hopes to become king for which he needs Trump’s nod.

Khalid bin Farhan Al Sa‘ud, a dissident Saudi prince who fled the country because of his criticism of the family’s dealings, revealed in an interview with German-based Arabian TV channel Al-Hewar that Trump has demanded Saudi Arabia’s recognition of Israel before he would agree to BS’ accession to the throne! In response to a question from Jeffrey Goldberg of Atlantic magazine (April 2), BS said Israel has the “right” to its own “homeland.” The master-slave relationship could not be clearer.

During the many media interviews with BS, not once did the subject of the incarceration of thousands of political prisoners or public beheadings of people come up. The Saudi head-choppers are busy as ever; in fact many are doing overtime. Nor did the slaughter of Yemeni civilians in which the US and Britain are equally involved, come up.

Tyrants of a feather flock together. Near the end of his visit to the United States, MBS couldn’t pass up a chance to pay homage to the Bush dynasty, meeting with both father and son former presidents, George H.W. and George W. Bush.

The fawning US media concentrated on how “charming” the prince was, especially his “normalcy” in the matter of gambling casinos, cinemas, and live concerts and beach resorts on the Red Sea where everything will be allowed: bikinis, gambling, and alcohol. It is almost like bringing the French Riviera to the Red Sea. These are truly “revolutionary” steps for an archaic kingdom that has so far severely restricted any form of entertainment by denouncing it as bid‘ah or haram (forbidden).

Despite BS’ embrace of hedonism, what is still absolutely forbidden is any criticism of regime policies. One imam in Jeddah found this out in February when he criticized the opening of casinos and beach resorts during his Jumu‘ah khutbah. The mukha-barat (intelligence agents) promptly arrested and dragged him down from the minbar. Not one member of the congregation intervened at this brazen assault in the masjid during Jumu‘ah. Had they done so, they too would have been arrested and thrown in jail.

It is clear, there are limits to BS’ “moderation.” Human and political rights are off limits. These, however, are of little or no concern to US officials or their equally subservient media so long as the Kingdom is willing to serve American interests.

  • Having trapped itself in a deadly war against the people of Yemen over the past years, Saudi Arabia has surpassed Russia to become the world's third largest military spender. 

The oil-rich kingdom increased its spending to $69.2 billion in 2017, up 9.2 percent from the previous year, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a new report Wednesday. This is 10 percent of the country's GDP.

This puts the Riyadh regime higher on the list than Russia ($66.3bn), France ($57.7bn), India ($63.9bn) and the UK ($47.1bn), according to the report.

As expected, the United States topped the list with $609.7 billion, followed by China at $228.2 billion.

SIPRI analysts warned that the increase in military expenditure by countries like Saudi Arabia was not a good sign.

"Despite low oil prices, armed conflict and rivalries throughout the Middle East are driving the rise in military spending in the region," said Pieter Wezeman, a senior SIPRI researcher.

Despite spending billions of dollars on the ruinous war and possessing cutting-edge military hardware, Saudis' failure in overpowering Yemen’s Houthi fighters is mind-boggling.

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of its regional allies -- mainly the United Arab Emirates and Jordan -- started a war against Yemen with the declared aim of crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement, which had taken over from the staunch Riyadh ally and fugitive former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Three years on and over 600,000 dead and injured Yemeni people later, the war has yielded little to that effect.  The rulers in Riyadh have been keeping the costs of war a secret, but various estimates have been put forth by different sources and news organizations in recent years.
A Harvard study has concluded that the war costs the Saudi-led coalition some $200 million a day.

Monthly, according to estimates by the Brookings Institute, Riyadh is pouring $5-6 billion into the military aggression. The regime's extravagant monarchs perhaps felt proudest last year, when, during US President Donald Trump’s debut foreign trip to Riyadh, they agreed to buy $110 billion in weapons from Washington over the next decade.

While the exact numbers remain unknown, it is no secret that it has been an expensive battle for the cash-strapped Saudis, probably one of the reasons why the kingdom sold off $1.2 billion of its $9.2 billion holdings in European equities by the end of 2015.

France, Germany and a host of other European countries have also continued to take advantage of the Yemen war, selling advanced military equipment to Saudis despite international outcry.

One of the poorest countries in the world, Yemen, is showing what the Saudis are really like, despite the billions. Saudi Arabia has attacked Yemen trying to bully them but Yemen has fought back, defeating them on numerous fronts. It's not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog that counts.
The 3rd largest military budget in the world, yet despite that, they CANNOT defeat the rag tag Houthi's in Yemen, the poorest Arab country in the world. Imagine if a fraction of these funds was spent on human development.

Bill Law
Japan's billionaire Masayoshi Son has sold the idea of singularity to Saudi Arabia. But is this investment a good idea?

Masayoshi Son, with a net worth of $21.5bn, is reputed to be Japan's wealthiest person. He is also one of the world's slickest and smartest salesmen. In September 2016, Son met then Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. By the end of the 45-minute meeting, bin Salman, MBS, as he is known, had committed $45bn from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) to Son's Vision Fund. That's nearly half the value of what has become the biggest investment fund the world has ever seen. A year later, Son was asked by Bloomberg's David Rubenstein if he got the money from MBS in one hour. To which the answer was "No, that's not true. I got $45bn in 45 minutes, that's $1bn per minute."  

When Rubenstein queried how Son had pulled off this remarkable feat - surely, the most extraordinary in the history of financial salesmanship - he replied that he had told MBS "I am going to give you a gift, a Masa gift, a $1 trillion gift. OK, now it's interesting. You invest $100bn, I give you $1 trillion." Mohammed bin Salman, in what for him was a moment of uncharacteristic caution, settled on $45bn as an initial investment in Son's fund.

When it comes to the Saudi crown prince, one tends to lose sight of just how much money, his and the government's, he is eager to throw around. After all, he spent $500m on a yacht, $300m on a chateau in France and $450m on a painting which he then gave to his friend and mentor Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and de facto ruler of the UAE, allegedly in return for another yacht.  But $45bn in 45 minutes? That is truly staggering. Did MBS seek any economic advice about Son's fund? Did he do any due diligence? Perhaps not. Rather, he has hitched a very large chunk of the Saudi economy to a vehicle called "singularity" and to the world's greatest salesman of that vehicle, Masa Son.

Singularity is the point at which artificial intelligence (AI) surpasses human intelligence. Son believes that moment is a little more than two decades away. He is betting his considerable fortune - and that of his investors, of which the largest by far is Saudi Arabia - on a future where huge numbers of jobs being done by humans will be done by robots. And he is not just talking about service jobs. He is talking about doctors, lawyers, engineers, even, dare I say it, journalists. At the Future Investment Initiative held in Riyadh in late October of 2017, Son was given the ideal stage to make his pitch. He argued that AI will be the greatest tool in humanity's history, one that will disrupt and "redefine every industry". He played his audience with affectionate ease while spinning out dazzling arrays of numbers.

After reminding them that Einstein had an IQ of 200, he spoke about a future where AI measured by IQ will expand to 10,000. He talked about a world where humans would live with 10 billion robots with "superintelligence", adding with a wicked grin "they maybe will laugh at us." Right now, Son is the one who can afford to laugh: he is the world's largest manufacturer of robots, the bulk of which he is selling to China.

Son told his audience the chip manufacturer ARM which he purchased for $32bn in 2016 and which is part of his SoftBank Holdings empire will come to control up to 99 percent of the global market. He claimed his Vision Fund had shown a 22 percent return on investment in just a few months and he talked of a track record of 44 percent returns on his various investment projects.

When he spoke about MBS, there were no jokes about $1bn a minute. Not with this audience. Instead, he lauded the crown prince as a visionary who "already had the understanding, the vision which happened to meet the mind in 45 minutes. That's how we create friendship, partnership and the bonding of minds." Precisely the sort of praise MBS wanted to hear but, frankly, words of praise flow easily indeed when you have trousered $45bn.

When he wasn't talking about the vast returns awaiting investors, Son allowed that how "money is not important, what is important is human happiness." The coming age of Singularity has the potential to bring happiness to all, the 8 billion humans sharing the planet with 10 billion robots possessing intelligence beyond our comprehension: "I don't think they will attack us, we and they will become friends in harmony."

So, we can be relieved to know that the foremost salesman of Singularity has assured us we will not need to go to war with the robots he is creating. Thank goodness for that.

Is Saudi Arabia biting off more than it can chew?
Less reassuring is the thought that the impetuous, authoritarian de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia has thrown his country's lot and its future in with Son. There are critics who point to the fact that Son lost his entire fortune in the dot-com bubble of 2000. Not to worry, say supporters, and Son himself, look where he is today, the result of shrewd investments in AI and the hi-tech communications sector.

However, the distinguished thinker, linguist and scholar Noam Chomsky is deeply sceptical of the Singularity project. He bluntly calls it "science fiction". Speaking in 2013, he described artificial intelligence as "the effort to programme machines to approximate certain aspects of human behaviour." Chomsky added that 60 years of research and development of AI has "not really given any insight into the nature of thought and the organisation of action." The brain is a complex place with 10 billion neurons, "that's a lot of neurons" and he argues "to try to capture the nature of human intelligence and human choice is a colossal problem way beyond the limits of contemporary science."  Such objections are not of concern to MBS. He has bought into the Son dream in a very big way, even providing the incubator in the $500bn city of the future NEOM, a place which will be powered, it is said, by artificial intelligence. No wonder Masayoshi Son is a man with a perpetual smile on his face.

But back in the real world of Saudi Arabia, there remains a shortage of affordable housing that runs to more than a million; the creation of meaningful jobs for the kingdom's fast-growing youth population and the effective empowerment of the private sector are stuttering. Vision 2030, MBS's ambitious restructuring of Saudi society and the economy, has a long, long way to go before it ever comes close to reaching its lofty goals. Meantime, the risk is that the pursuit of Singularity will come at a cost to more mundane and practical considerations.

For now, the song that Masa Son sings is music to the ears of the young crown prince, perhaps made all the sweeter because it has such an expensive price tag. But in the end, it may prove to be little else than a seductive, siren tune leading him and his country into deep and dangerous waters.

Yusuf Dhia-Allah

The Bani-Saud clan is made up of an assortment of criminals and gangsters. Were Islamic law applied judicially and fairly, there would not be a single member of the clan left with his head over his shoulders much less a safe pair of hands. Their misdemeanors are not only individual but also collective, causing immense damage to the Ummah. Here is only a short list:

1. Illegal occupation of the Haramayn and arbitrary decision to bar some Muslims from performing Hajj or restricting pilgrims from some countries — Syria, Qatar, etc. — with whom Bani Saud are at war or loggerheads. Additionally, the arbitrary quota system imposed for decades and the artificially exorbitant prices prevent millions of Muslims from performing Hajj.

2. The Saudi-led war on Yemen launched on March 26, 2015 has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and millions of Yemenis on the verge of starvation. Among them are an estimated 8.5 million children. One million children are suffering from cholera, described by the United Nations as the worst epidemic in human history. Of the 24 million Yemenis, 22 million are food deficient, again the direct result of the Saudi-led siege.

3. The Saudi regime’s seven-year war on Syria has devastated the country and left more than 500,000 people dead. Nearly half of Syria’s population has become refugees. Equally disastrous has been the unleashing of takfiri terrorists who have indulged in gruesome beheadings, organ eating, and rape. They have perpetrated these crimes using the name of Islam, thus tarnishing its message and values. Syria has been left in ruins and would take decades and at least $250 billion to rebuild.

4. Bani Saud have now openly joined the Zionists and imperialists to betray the decades-long struggle of the Palestinian people. They have bought into the diabolical US-Zionist plot to force the Palestinians to live as slaves of the Zionists in Bantustans on their own land.

5. The Najdi Bedouins are guilty of instigating hatred against other Muslims with whom they have fiqhi differences unleashing demonic forces that have gone on a rampage killing thousands of innocent people. This hatred has assumed an extreme form and will take decades to overcome.

6. Internally, Muhammad bin Salman, the de facto ruler, has unleashed a reign of terror to silence all opponents, real or imagined, to his power grab. He has enforced this through large-scale arrests of prominent members of the royal family, businessmen and the clergy, especially those seen as not sufficiently deferential to the punk prince. At the same time, public beheadings have increased, clearly intended to terrorize any would-be critic into silence.

7. The policy of terror has gone hand in hand with lifting some restrictions on social mores. Women have been given the right to drive even while women activists are arrested. The Western media, their palms appropriately greased and bank balances fattened, have gone into overdrive to drumbeat about the “moderate” prince’s reforming zeal. Gambling casinos have opened up where even the court clergy are seen throwing the dice or spinning the wheel! And plans are afoot to open beaches where women can wear bikinis and booze would be plentiful. Bin Salman (BS) calls this modernization; others have dubbed it vulgarity. The policy of vulgarity is meant to create the impression the modernizing prince is catching up with time. The message is: go enjoy yourselves but do not interfere in politics or ask for any say in policy matters. These had better be left in the grubby hands of the king-in-waiting.

Leading religious figures not sufficiently deferential to BS have landed in jail. These include Shaykh Salman al-‘Awdah (imprisoned since last September) and Shaykh ‘A’id al-Qarni. Another prominent salafi shaykh, Safar al-Hawali, 68, who is in poor health, was also detained last month. Together with al-‘Awdah, al-Hawali belongs to the Sahwah (awakening) movement and is a critic of US policies. The two came to prominence in the 1990s when they opposed the deployment of hundreds of thousands of US troops in the Kingdom on the eve of the US attack on Iraq. Both were detained and held in prison accused of inciting public disorder.

If Shaykh al-‘Awdah believes in Islamic governance based on the constitution that may be considered heresy by Bani Saud and the crown princeling, al-Hawali is closely tied to the Wahhabi ideology. So what has aroused Bin Salman’s ire against him? Independent thinking is not permitted in the medieval Kingdom. It is seen as a threat to Bin Salman’s grip on power. He is working to establish one-man rule in the Kingdom.

While clamping down hard at home, Bin Salman has surrendered completely to the imperialists and Zionists. During his visit to the US last March when Bin Salman met US President Donald Trump the latter said, “…they [the Saudis] have hundreds of billions of dollars. They will give them to us. They understand this.” The clear implication was, if you don’t cough up, you are out. Trump is nobody’s friend; he has publicly insulted his closest allies including Justin Trudeau of Canada, Angela Merkel of Germany, and Teresa May of Britain. Why would Trump care for a Bedouin from the desert smelling of camel dung?

Unlike any other country, the Arabian Peninsula is important to all Muslims because it houses the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah (jointly called the Haramayn). These do not belong to Bani Saud; they are invaders from Najd and alien to the land (the Hijaz) and ethos of Islam. Their continued occupation of the Haramayn poses a clear and present danger to Islam and the Muslims.

The sooner Bani Saud are banished from the Holy Land, the better for all Muslims. This should be treated with the same seriousness as the continued Zionist colonization of al-Quds. The two — Bani Saud and Bani Israel — are two faces of the same coin. They cannot be allowed to remain in power in either of the Holy Lands.



An exiled Saudi prince has called for a coup by his influential uncles to depose King Salman and prevent the current ruling structure led by his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, from doing more damage to the kingdom. 

Prince Khaled bin Farhan, who has been awarded asylum in Germany, made the call on Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz and Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz in comments to the Middle East Eye news portal published on Monday.He asked the duo to use the influence they wield with their fellow royals as well as with the military to bring about the palace coup.

Such a change, bin Farhan asserted, was imperative to salvage the kingdom from Salman’s “irrational, erratic, and stupid” tutelage.

Saudi King Salman appointed bin Salman as the first in line to the throne in a surprise move last June that saw the monarch ousting Crown Prince Muhammed bin Nayef, who had himself replaced Muqrin in 2015.

Calling bin Salman’s meteoric rise to power into question, bin Farhan said, “If King Salman had been in a good state of health, things wouldn’t have reached this stage. When we see public policy in Saudi Arabia, we can see that King Salman is completely absent from the screen or from the political scene in Saudi Arabia.”

Bin Salman, also the country’s defense minister, is seen as the all-powerful figure in Saudi Arabia, whose impulsive attitude towards domestic and regional affairs has fueled much unrest both inside and outside the kingdom.

Late last year, he arrested hundreds of fellow princes and businessmen in what the young prince tried to portray as an “anti-corruption campaign,” seizing a total of $100 billion in exchange for their freedom.

He is also seen as the architect of the three-year-long Saudi-led invasion of neighboring Yemen, which has killed and displaced tens of thousands, and a key proponent of maximum regional and international pressure on regional powerhouse Iran.

Under bin Salman, the Saudi regime has also been rushing towards the normalization of ties with the regime in Tel Aviv at the expense of undermining the Palestinian cause.

Prince Khaled’s comments come amid the Saudi crown prince’s mysterious absence from the public eye since heavy gunfire and explosions were reported just outside the royal palace in Riyadh late last month.

Some sources claimed that the incidents on April 21 were part of a coup led by Saudi royals who are opposed to King Salman, while other reports suggested that the shooting occurred when the palace guards targeted a small drone which approached Salman's residence.

Royal scene pregnant with change?

Bin Farhan further explained that the arrest spree of the powerful figures by bin Salman has created much resentment within the royal family against the crown prince, noting, “The family feels it has been humiliated.”

“There is so much anger within the royal family” to the point that a potential evolution in the country’s ruling structure would be backed by “99 percent of the members of the royal family, the security services, and the army would stand behind them,” bin Farhan said. “I have received a large number of emails from within the police and army in support of my call.”

He referred to the April 21 alleged coup attempt in Riyadh as an instance of preparedness for action against the ultra-powerful in the kingdom.

Bin Farhan contested reports that the security forces had tried to shoot down a drone during the incident, saying destroying an aircraft like that would not requires hours of exchange of fire.

He added, “It was a shock for the entire family because prominent figures in the family were detained, in a way that held a great deal of humiliation. It was a shock for the entire family. The family is now facing the undermining of its standing in the eyes of the people. And this will inevitably undermine its legitimacy.”

Even now, those freed are being kept on a short leash, with travel bans imposed upon them all, locators fitted onto their feet in most cases, and their contacts being closely monitored, he added.

The dissident royal also lashed out against a strict rule under which the ultimate power should solely rest in the hands of the king, warning about the consequences of such a one-man show for the kingdom.

“The make-up of the state will constantly change with the personality of the king,” Prince Khaled said.

“Where is the strategic plan for the state? We need to have a clear goal that we’re working towards. And it’s the role of the king to come up with a tactical plan to help us enact these strategies,” he said. “But, with the way we’re going, our country will be late reaching them. We’re already late. We use to think that we had financial assets and educated individuals, but unfortunately the situation right now is taking us back years.”

Bin Salman’s ‘psychological problems’

Speaking of bin Salman, bin Farhan said, “At school, he had psychological problems and I’d rather not go into too much detail, but mental health can affect someone entirely, and I can see clearly that after he came into power and the way he deals in politics is reflective of his psychological problems.”

Being treated as a non-significant ordinary prince has contributed to bin Salman’s current state of mind, he analyzed.

‘Bin Salman rule threatens world’

Bin Farhan warned that if MBS, as the crown prince is known, stayed in power, upheavals would follow.

“I would like to say to the Europeans that the situation in Saudi Arabia resembles a volcano that is about to erupt. If it erupts, it will affect not only the situation inside Saudi Arabia or in the Arab region but it will have an effect on you too,” he said.

“We should not forget that there are terrorist sleeper cells within Saudi Arabia, and that Wahhabi ideology” serves as the basis for the ideology of the Takfiri terrorists that “Europeans and Americans are frightened most of.”

“So, if Saudi Arabia descends into a state of chaos, there will be global chaos, and it (Saudi Arabia) will be a source of terrorism for the entire world as it will support and sustain international terrorism,” said the royal.
Egyptian strongman invokes divine right of kings

Egypt is an important country in the Muslim world. It can be counted among the top five countries and almost in the same league with such leading players as Islamic Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and arguably Saudi Arabia (we will overlook mass poverty and Saudi subservience to imperialism and Zionism for now). Egypt’s ranking is not based on its policies that are quite atrocious, but rather on the fact that it is an important country in its own right.

But how does one explain the fact that Egypt has also had more than its share of dictators and mass murderers as rulers? This is even more shocking because it is home to al-Azhar University, one of the oldest — if not the oldest — Islamic university in the Muslim world. Further, that it was Imam Hasan al-Banna, a schoolteacher who took the lead in establishing al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun (1928) soon after the khilafah was abolished in Turkey in March 1924. Egypt has had other contributions in the intellectual field such as Muhammad Rashid Rida’s tafsir of the noble Qur’an, Tafsir al-Manar or Sayyid Qu†b’s Fi ¸ilal al-Qur’an Rashid Rida was born in al-Qalamun in Syria (present-day Lebanon), which was at the time part of the Ottoman Sultanate. He later settled in Egypt and had a profound influence on the thinking of intellectuals in the Muslim world.

There is also a darker side to Egypt that is too glaring to overlook. Both Hasan al-Banna and Sayyid Qu†b were martyred, the first gunned down in February 1949 while the second hanged after a kangaroo trial because the Egyptian tyrant Jamal ‘Abd al-Nasir feared his growing popularity and influence among the people.

The Pharaonic mindset, it seems is embedded in the psyche of Egyptian rulers. And the people too have surrendered meekly to such tyranny. The current dictator, General ‘Abd el-Fattah el-Sisi, has surpassed his predecessors in cruelty and barbarism. He came to power not only by overthrowing the popularly elected government of President Mohamed Mursi but also by wading in a sea of blood of the innocents. On two separate occasions he ordered his troops to shoot unarmed peaceful protesters, among them women, girls, and even children whose only crime was that they were maintaining a sit-in at two public squares in Cairo. When some of the protesters sought refuge in a masjid, the mass murderers went after them inside the masjid and shot them dead. These butchers have never had the courage to stand up to the Zionist invaders but they are eager to kill their own people.

And what was the reaction of the Egyptian media, the courts and other influential opinion-makers to the August 2013 carnage? Far from denouncing el-Sisi’s butchery, they applauded the slaughter of innocent people. Many Egyptians, showing extreme cowardice and immorality, also joined the applause.

Extrajudicial executions sanctioned by the state, abductions followed by disappearances of suspected political opponents, and closure of media outlets that have dared to disagree even mildly with el-Sisi’s policies have been rampant during his five years in office. 

Displaying an acute sense of inferiority, el-Sisi’s sycophants have gone overboard. Newspaper columns shamelessly present el-Sisi as the country’s — indeed the world’s — most beloved celebrity. With his face resembling an unpeeled potato, his mug shot peers down from every billboard at every street corner in all major cities.

In their sycophantic rants columnists have described him as the “Redeeming Messiah,” “Savior,” and even “Better than Prophet Muhammad” (nastaghfir-allah). If these columnists had any self-respect or honor, they would not stoop so low to appease a mass murderer. But they have no self-respect; worshipping every rising sun is their fundamental creed.

Egyptian President ‘Abd el-Fattah el-Sisi, right, speaks with Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, in their first-ever public meeting during a so-called effort to revive the Middle East peace process ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, 12-19-2017. Obviously, the one on the left is not interested in any kind of peace with the Palestinians, other than the one that ethnically cleanses all of them — so what are they talking about? Both of them have a common interest in maintaining the security of Israel, which can only be accomplished by maintaining the security of the tyrants who rule over Muslim-majority countries. So what they are discussing has to do with putting down the threats to a geostrategic setup that wants to legitimize the theft of the Holy Land, both north and south.

This is not mere speculation. Mukhtar Issa, an Egyptian poet, proclaimed that “Egyptian women were pregnant with el-Sisi’s star”. If this sounds vulgar, consider the following. Female columnists have begged him to take them as his concubines. Ghada Sharif writing in al-Masry al-Yawm (July 25, 2013) is one such columnist but she is not alone. Interestingly, the court clergy that are quick to declare any protests, however peaceful, against the tyrant as haram have been mum about such public displays of vulgarity by female columnists.

Like dictators elsewhere in the Muslim world — and there is no shortage of these clowns — el-Sisi has claimed that his leadership is divinely inspired. If this sounds familiar, it is. Other clowns have made similar claims with a straight face to the loud applause of sycophantic admirers. He went so far as to claim that he dreamt he would rule Egypt. He obviously thinks he was doing the Egyptian people a huge favor, as Richard Spencer reported in the British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph on December 12, 2013.

How many people have had their dreams come true? Did his dream also include wading through a sea of blood of the innocents to grab power? El-Sisi’s rule has increased the misery of the people even if the sycophants have benefitted somewhat. Similarly, the military continues to rake in billions from real estate deals and other business ventures. Why do they even bother to go to the military academy for training; why not open real estate and business offices all over the country?

The sycophantic rants in newspapers and on television notwithstanding, the misery of the people keeps growing. Poverty rates hover at 30%, according to a report by UNICEF released in December 2017. This has left ten million children “multidimensionally poor” leaving them deprived “in key well-being dimensions that have a direct impact on their ability to survive and develop”. Children have been left “stunted, dropping out from school, not having clean drinking water, lacking access to health care, and/or suffering severe corporal violence.”

Unemployment remains very high and prices of basic necessities such as bread have risen by more than 100% since el-Sisi grabbed power in July 2013. Mass poverty and misery are forcing parents to kill their own children and then commit suicide, both practices expressly forbidden in Islam. These practices, however, show the desperation of people. “Fathers do not commit these unjustified crimes without being under a lot of pressure,” Marwa Ali, a specialist in human development and psychological researcher, explained. And there is no relief in sight as inflation hovers above the 30% mark. Official statistics show that inflation hit the 30.2% mark in February 2018, the highest since November 1986 when it had touched 30.6%.

Despite inflicting such misery on the people, el-Sisi does not care. The thug in uniform sits smugly in the presidential palace insisting the masses “adore” him. In presidential elections at the end of March, he drove all opponents from the race and cleared his way to receive 97.08% of the votes cast. Despite a low turnout at a mere 41.5%, it was the percentage he polled (97.08%; how badly can one do without a serious challenger?) that leads to his smugness.

The potato-faced dictator may be digging his own grave and when the lava of resentment explodes, he will be buried under the rubble. It could come none too soon.

Egypt faces abuses to a degree unseen in the Mubarak years since the 2013 coup, analysts say.
Zena Tahhan 

In just over two years, Morsi became the second Egyptian leader to be overthrown [Getty Images]

Five years ago today, Egypt witnessed the overthrow of its first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in a military coup. 

The Muslim Brotherhood member had been in office for just a year when army chief, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, announced on July 3 Morsi's overthrow on state television, along with the suspension of the constitution and the installment of an interim government.

The military said it was responding to the people, who had poured into the streets by the millions on June 30, 2013, over fears that Morsi was becoming increasingly authoritarian.
In just over two years, Morsi became the second Egyptian leader to be toppled. During a wave of popular uprisings that swept across the Arab world in 2011, the Egyptian people also overthrew the 30-year dictatorship of military leader Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt: Revolution Revisited
The social and political upheaval during those years plunged Egypt into an economic crisis and deeply divided the nation. But Sisi's rise to president in June 2014 was meant to herald a new era of stability.  Sisi, who was recently re-elected, introduced rapid economic reforms, such as slashing fuel subsidies and raising taxes in an effort to ease unemployment and generate long-term revenues. He also initiated several new infrastructure projects, including the expansion of the Suez Canal and the country's farmland area, which he said would make Egypt more self-sufficient and generate jobs. As violence dwindled, tourism revenues increased.

Yet experts say the temporary stability, which has gradually eroded, came at the cost of public freedoms. Dalia Fahmy, a professor of political science at Long Island University in New York, says the "promise of stability through the military has led to further uncertainty,
" pointing to developments such as the imprisonment of 60,000 political prisoners, torture of 830 people in 2016, and the blocking of 434 websites.  "The question is, will the state under Sisi be able to survive the post-coup repression and economic uncertainty?" Fahmy told Al Jazeera. 

In March 2018, it was announced that Sisi won 92 percent of valid votes in the presidential election, after he eliminated any real opposition. At least six other candidates pulled out of the race, were prosecuted or jailed upon announcing their intention to run for elections or during their election campaigns.  Sisi is currently serving his second year term. 

Political expression 
Shortly after Morsi's removal, the military-backed interim government embarked on a crackdown against Muslim Brotherhood supporters, many of whom continued to stage counterprotests and express their support for Morsi. In August 2013, the army and security forces attacked a demonstration in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square, killing some 1,000 Morsi supporters. Human Rights Watch described it as "one of the largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history".

And in a widely criticised mass trial, Egypt sentenced hundreds of alleged supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to death - "the biggest mass sentence given in modern Egyptian history", according to Amnesty International. The movement, which is Egypt's oldest, most influential Islamist group, was also banned and had its assets seized before being declared a "terrorist organisation" by the government. The final ruling for the trial, involving 739 people facing a death penalty, was recently postponed due to "security concerns". 
Abdullah al-Arian, a professor of history at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar, told Al Jazeera the Egyptian government's actions send "a stark message to all Egyptians that under the resurgent authoritarian rule of the Sisi regime: Dissent will not be tolerated". 

The arrests have extended well beyond Muslim Brotherhood supporters. The Egyptian government has also been systematically targeting journalists, leading activists and any critics of President Sisi. The case of photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, also known as Shawkan, has caught international attention. Abu Zeid has been in jail since August 2013, after he was arrested while taking pictures as Egyptian security forces violently dispersed the Rabaa sit-in.

"The state of oppression in Egypt has sunk so low that al-Sisi’s forces are arresting well-recognized activists as they sleep, simply for speaking up," Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement on May 31, 2018. 

'Much more authoritarian' 
A few months into office, Sisi passed a law banning demonstrations without prior police approval, leading the protest movement to practically dry up. Such oppressive measures, analysts say, were bound to tighten the noose on the country and bring in a facade of stability.

"Many Egyptians just wanted economic and political stability; hence, the support for the Sisi coup. Immediately after Sisi took power, Saudi and Gulf money began to flow into Egypt, temporarily stabilising the Egyptian economy and winning for Sisi the support Morsi had squandered," James Gelvin, a professor of Middle East history at the University of California, Los Angeles, told Al Jazeera.

"Egypt is much more authoritarian today than it was under any leader since Gamal Abdel Nasser … Under Sisi, all oppositional activity has been outlawed, the Muslim Brotherhood banned, and political opponents - whether Islamist or secular - killed, imprisoned and tortured."

Under Mubarak, there was not much room for dissent, but there were clear red lines. People could mostly go about their business, as long as they did not criticise Mubarak, Islam or the security forces. Today, no one is safe.
Sarah Yerkes, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Human rights defenders, civil society groups and NGOs have also been targeted, systematically summoned for questioning, banned from travel and having their assets frozen. A law, signed in May 2017, criminalised the work of many NGOs and placed them under the direct surveillance of the country's security bodies. "Under Mubarak, there was not much room for dissent, but there were clear red lines," Sarah Yerkes, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think-tank, said. "People could mostly go about their business, as long as they did not criticise Mubarak, Islam or the security forces. Today, no one is safe. The government is fractured, so there is no clear line of control, and anyone can become a target of the regime at any time," Yerkes told Al Jazeera. 

Despite electing him to power, millions came out against Morsi's moves to grant himself broad legislative and executive authority. Many people, mainly secularists and members of the old guard, feared that the uprising could end badly. The chaos that gripped 
Syria and Libya after the Arab Spring served as a stark warning to the public. "With 30-40 percent of the country living on $2 a day or less, there is very little room for manoeuver for them," Mark Levine, a professor of Middle East history at University of California, told Al Jazeera.
"If the country grinds to a halt with new protests, literally millions of people face financial ruin and even hunger very quickly," Levine added. 

Ongoing challenges
While Sisi's public standing went largely unchallenged during his first two years in power, a series of decisions tested his popularity and grip on the country. In 2016, the government announced a maritime agreement with Saudi Arabia to transfer control over two Red Sea islands, leading thousands to take to the streets in peaceful protests. In response, the government sentenced 71 people to two years in prison.

Cracks in the economy have also resurfaced. In May 2017, Egypt's inflation rose to 30 percent, the highest in three decades. Under a $12bn IMF bailout loan to support Egypt's economic reform plan, the government floated the currency and raised the price of fuel by 55 percent for the second time in months.

The other large domestic threat Egypt is facing is the violence in the Sinai, where armed groups, affiliates of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), launched an open war against the government, security forces and civilians. Despite promises for reform and improvement in the Sinai Peninsula, home to 1.4 million people, the Sinai uprising continues to pose one of the biggest challenges for Sisi's government. Analysts have long criticised Sisi's use of "brute force" in the peninsula rather than finding remedies of the underlying issues heightening the violence there. 

INSIDE STORY: Egyptian election - Democratic transition or return to the past? (25:10)

And while the government claims it has the issue under control, its efforts to contain the violence in the Sinai, which dates back to before 2011, have been largely unsuccessful.
"The government has faced a serious terrorist threat and received some criticism for its handling of it. The country is clearly less secure, but this is also a result of regional trends, especially the rise of ISIS," Issandr el-Amrani, head of the North Africa section at the International Crisis Group, told Al Jazeera.

Though Egypt's position on the international front seems to be strengthening as it forges closer ties with the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel, analysts say that domestically, Egypt is on the decline. "Egyptian society is being crushed by the weight of economic disorder, and social and political repression," said Fahmy. 

Pakistan braces itself for another set of parliamentary elections.

The Same parties, with the same faces and the same rhetoric.
With more false promises and hopes and more failed policies and solutions, it does not matter which face replaces the last…
…because Democracy will never deliver, except to these failed politicians – who become wealthier every time.
As Pakistan drowns in debt, Its economy fails ordinary people.
Poverty, unemployment, failing education and failing healthcare is the lot of the ordinary people.
Whilst America continues to bomb Pakistan’s tribal areas, Pakistan’s rulers declare war on their own people
With Pakistan’s rulers slavishly following every US demand, Its high time for a political alternative.
An alternative based on Islam… the Khilafah.
A sincere Islamic leadership which fosters the affairs of the Ummah, not the affairs of elites or colonial powers.
A leadership which makes Allah (swt) laws sovereign, not parliament – thus ending corruption from its root.
Ending the archaic British penal system and returning judgements to the Quran and Sunnah for real justice.
Ending the privatisation of public resources, and returning wealth to the Ummah.
Breaking colonial economic control by the IMF, WB, WTO and instead giving independence to the Ummah.
Immediately closing American embassies and military bases.
Liberating Kashmir, and rejecting the treacherous peace negotiations and India’s belligerency.
Defying the colonial nation state, and setting a vision to unite the Khilafah with Afghanistan, Central Asia and beyond.
The Khilafah will prioritise the Ummah, her affairs and her interests as demanded by Islam.
The Khilafah will allow the Ummah to become great again and lead the world.
The Khilafah is the only political alternative for Pakistan and its future.
This election it’s time we rejected this failed democratic system…. It’s time we called for the Khilafah, Islam’s only solution.


Launching his campaign for the general elections 2018 from Mianwali on 24th June 2018, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman, Imran Khan, accused the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government of bankrupting the country during its five-year stint.

“There is no money left to run the country while debt is piling up and adding insult to injury,” he said. “Pakistan’s foreign loans have surged up from Rs13,000 billion to Rs27,000bn during 2013-2018.”

There is no doubt that Pakistan’s economy is drowning in debt. However, its blame cannot be solely put on the last PML-N government. Since the inception of Pakistan, every successive regime, whether political or military, has contributed to increasing debt. The reason is that although Pakistan was created in the name of Islam, capitalism has been implemented. Pakistan is not an exception as every capitalist country faces the same problem. Indeed, those countries that are most indebted are amongst the biggest economies. The G-7 countries are the world’s biggest and richest economies but at the same time, they are amongst the most indebted as well. Japan, Italy, US, Canada, France, Britain and Germany have 234.7, 132.5, 105.4, 98.8, 96.5, 92.9, 68% Debt to GDP ratio respectively. Pakistan’s debt to GDP ratio is almost 70%.

In the capitalist economy, debt increases as it deprives the public and state of revenues. It places energy and mineral resources, which are engines of creating huge wealth, under private ownership even though Islam has mandated these as public property.

Also, the capitalist company structures, joint stock and share companies allow private owners to gather huge capital in order to run industries that are capital-intensive which also generate huge wealth, such as telecommunications, heavy industries, railways, aviation and shipping. So, in capitalism, the public and state are deprived of huge revenues, with the state then resorting to loans and heavy taxation.
Islam’s economic system alone will ensure escape from the debt trap. Islam declared oil, gas and mineral resources as public property which the state supervises on behalf of the people. Islam’s unique company structure laws do not allow the joint stock share company, so the state dominates capital-intensive projects. Thus, Islam will ensure huge resources for public and state spending. Allah (?) said,

“But whosoever turns away from My Reminder (Qur’an) verily, for him is a life of hardship.” [Taha: 124]

Thus, any politician that claims he will end the debt trap, yet insists on implementing the current capitalist system, is making a false claim. The Muslims must account such politicians and insist that they reject the current kufr system. And they must insist that they work actively for the re-establishment of the Khilafah (Caliphate) on the Method of Prophethood. Allah (?) said,

“And if only they had acted according to the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel), and what has (now) been sent down to them from their Lord (the Qur’an), they would surely have gotten provision from above them and from underneath their feet.” [Al-Maidah: 66]
Written by Central Contact Committee Hizb ut-Tahrir Wilayah Pakistan


‘Can Pakistan become a superpower?’ would be an odd question to ask. It would be odd because many around the world do not view Pakistan as having any potential. Pakistan has zero global influence. Its rulers are pawns for the world powers and Pakistan cannot even feed its own population, let alone project influence abroad.  However, the same was said about the United States in the early 19th century. You would have been ridiculed if you said the US would become a global power within 100 years of its independence. Similarly, people would have laughed at the suggestion of China being a power in 1980 when over 85% of China’s population was in poverty and it had – despite being 10 times larger than Spain’s population – a GDP smaller than Spain.

A superpower is a nation that influences the political landscape in multiple regions beyond its borders. It does this through building and bringing to bear its political, economic, military and cultural capabilities.

To be a superpower you need to have global aspirations. This means you need to have a global mission and something to offer the world. This would then  also mean the capabilities to propagate such values need to be developed. Russia embraced communism in 1917 and built a whole nation to spread this around the world. It built its economy and military and entered into the global struggle with the US in order to propagate its values, which it believed were part of the best system for the world. Successive Pakistani governments and the Pakistani elite have nothing of the sort. They do not look beyond the current secular system in place.

However, Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and Islam as an ideology can be taken to the world. This is what our Prophet did and his Sahabah and Muslims continued with for over 14 centuries.
This is how Islam came to Pakistan. To be a global power, a nation is required to have something to take to the world. The West has taken capitalism and democracy as its global mission, the Soviet Union took communism, the Nazis, took their racist ideas. Pakistan has none currently, but this can change if it embraced Islam as its global mission.

Politically, Pakistan has an entrenched and unelected “elite” group of people. Pakistan’s military leaders and Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), exert a controlling influence over most of Pakistan’s core policies. Around them, you then have a relatively small cadre of politicians, senior bureaucrats, and well-connected business families who have led, managed, owned and spoilt most of the country since its independence in 1947. These elites view Pakistan as their personal bank account that should serve them, rather than the people. The elites have around them numerous opportunists, political parties and others who perpetuate this self-serving system. No amount of reform, elections and dictatorships will change this system – it has to be uprooted for real change to take place.

As Pakistan is one of the most powerful Muslim countries (alongside Egypt and Turkey), it can reunify with the wider Muslim world as they all share a common identity in Islam. All the 52 or so Muslim countries have borders that were created by the departing colonialists, which are completely artificial and actually go against the identities and sentiments of the masses.

In any global mission, there needs to be an economy that will support the cause. Pakistan’s economy has been ruined by successive governments. They see the country as a mere cash cow for themselves. They have undertaken token development programmes to appease the masses. But Pakistan’s sad state of affairs with the economy is a completely man-made disaster. Pakistan economy is just not built upon is strengths. It has been completely neglected by the rulers and what is left in the country is really a man-made problem.

Pakistan’s economy is not built upon its strengths: a reason why its economy is smaller than Finland’s. As an example, over half the economy is service-based yet half the labour force is in the agriculture sector. Pakistan would need to transfer from a service-based economy to a manufacturing based economy, which will allow it to develop the necessary industrial machinery for mass production.  Pakistan has been blessed with mineral resources which have not been fully exploited, which include:

– the world’s largest untapped coal reserves in the Thar Coal Field in Sindh. Thar coal is one of the world’s largest lignite deposits spread over more than 9,000 sq. km. It comprises around 175 billion tonnes of coal which is the equivalent of 618 billion barrels of crude oil,
– Iron ore – a primary ingredient in steel making. Pakistan’s largest reserves are in Chiniot, around 160 km northwest of Lahore. Estimates indicate 500 million tonnes of iron ore, which are currently not being exploited.
– the Reko Diq mine. It represents one of the largest copper reserves in Pakistan and in the world, having estimated reserves of 5.9 billion tonnes of ore and gold reserves amounting to 41.5 million oz.

Manufacturing in Pakistan currently accounts for 20% of the economy. But cotton textile production and apparel manufacturing are Pakistan’s largest industries and account for 66% of Pakistan. This will need to change to producing iron and steel, which is central to industrialisation.

On the military front, which is essential for any global power, Pakistan’s relationship with India and strategically defending the border with India has been the military’s paramount objective, as it represents the most direct existential threat. For this, Pakistan has constructed a large land force and acquired military technology, integrating this into its military posture. The need to face-off against an adversary which is quantitatively larger in every sense, has led to the development of asymmetric forces, which has made regional nations take notice of Pakistan. It also led the country to develop nuclear weapons.

Pakistan’s ground forces regularly train in offensive scenarios to deal with a possible Indian invasion and this makes the army capable of conducting operations to take and hold territory. Pakistan’s ground forces have, for over 60 years, postured to conduct offensive operations rather than remain in static formations and focus on defending and holding territory. This means the ground forces are uniquely placed in most offensive scenarios.

The military’s fundamental problem is the nation’s economy. Civilian leaders one after the other have caused economic crises and as a result, the long-term finance needed for armament and platform development has just not been possible. It is unique – almost miraculous – that the military of Pakistan has still been able to develop the capabilities to balance India, which has more personnel, more equipment – more of everything, with such a dysfunctional economy. The zenith of this was the development of nuclear weapons.

Taking Islam as its mission, restructuring the economy and using the military to defend and reunify with the wider Muslim world, is the way for Pakistan to become a superpower.





ISLAMABAD: The committee tasked to investigate assets owned by Pakistanis abroad has decided to initiate probe from properties held in Dubai.  The committee, headed by Governor State Bank, submitted the Terms of Reference related to the inquiry in the Supreme Court, which is hearing multiple cases related to money laundering and foreign assets held by Pakistanis.  A joint taskforce, comprising FIA, NAB and FRB officials, will be formed for the purpose and will have the authority to approach state institutions and departments as well as foreign governments for investigation.

According to the committee’s report, the FIA has significant details about the properties held by Pakistanis in Dubai and the committee aims to work on bringing back those assets. The committee will also review details available with FBR about properties held in the UK and will summon individuals owning the properties in these regions.  The report stated that those who admit to owning the properties would be asked to produce money trail while an inquiry would be sought against those who refuse to admit the same.  Foreign assets can be frozen if money trail is not furnished, the report further stated.  The committee will present its report every month in the apex court.


ISLAMABAD: Authorities probing illegal foreign accounts and properties of thousands of Pakistanis made shocking revelations on Tuesday that the volume of these assets hidden in different tax havens abroad reached up to US$350 (Rs43 trillion).  Interestingly, the authorities also revealed for the first time that only accounts and properties worth Rs1,003 billion (US$8.1 billion) have been declared by over 5, 300 entities or individuals, under the Tax Amnesty Scheme 2018 over the past three months.

“By the close of Amnesty Scheme 2018, on 31st July 2018, declarations from 5,363 entities (individuals/companies) had disclosed foreign assets worth Rs1,003 billion (US$ 8.1 billion), with major share of declared assets located in UAE. Properties/accounts holders in other tax-haven countries benefited only marginally from this scheme,” revealed the confidential details submitted with the Supreme Court.

The declared amount of US$8.1 billion is around 2.3% of overall illegal accounts worth US$350 by thousands of Pakistanis who allegedly violated national laws while establishing their assets abroad.  “Total volume of Dubai properties is over Rs4,240 billion with annual investment and growth of Rs220 billion where Pakistani property agents/investors were counting them as more than 5,000 individuals/entities,” suggested the details Geo News exclusively collected from the Federal Investigation Agency, State Bank of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Finance Division & other financial institutions.

The shocking details also revealed that British government has listed Pakistan among top 3 money laundering source countries, after Nigeria and Russia. Institutions have also cited reference of British National Crime Agency's 2018 report.  About top tax haven, the concerned institutions have also claimed that Pakistani citizens have stashed US$100 billion in United Kingdom and United States of America, with additional amount of millions of dollars parked in real estate sectors. They have quoted findings of Mr. Shabbar Zaidi of AF Ferguson, Pakistan in this report. An estimated over US$200 billion were stashed by Pakistanis in Switzerland, the report revealed, quoting statement of Micheline Calmy-Rey/Swiss Foreign Minister in 2014.

The shocking details continued to reveal that millions of dollars have also been stashed by hundreds of Pakistanis in Hong Kong, British Virgin Islands, Bahamas Channel Island Seychelles and other tax havens for corporate vehicles involved in money laundering.  About reasons for poor control over money laundering and difficulties in investigation, the institutions have told the apex court that the weak legislative instruments remain a stumbling block in the way to take action against these individuals, who violate national laws while stashing billions of rupees abroad illegally.

The FIA says that Foreign Assets Declaration Regulation, 1972 is a non-declaration and not defined as a predicate offence, and the authority was not authorised to investigate.  Foreign Exchange Regulation ACT, 1947, Income Tax Ordinance 2001, Section 111-(4) protect sources if unexplained income from foreign remittance and Pakistan Economic Reforms ACT, 1992 Section-4 and 5 also protect sources of unexplained income from foreign remittance, the FIA drew attention of top court toward this matter.

About international laws creating hurdle in investigators' way, the institutions informed the court that United Nations’ Convention against Corruption 2004 did not authorise the FIA to take action against under-questioned individuals. Similar is the case with the United Nations’ Convention against Trans-National Organised Crime 2000.
It was also informed that all institutions are facing many challenges for execution of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) request and recovery of stolen assets of Pakistani citizens placed in foreign jurisdictions.

Main challenges include: Non–provision of autonomy in operations and financing, lack of any legally binding international instrument, lack of legally binding bilateral/multilateral treaties with different states, consumption of excessive time for technical assistance by the foreign states for drafting of requests for MLA as per their domestic legal framework, non-uniformity of international cooperation laws in foreign jurisdictions, particularly in dual criminality cases and number of channels involved in foreign jurisdictions before the requests of MLA reaches its desired agency or legal office for further evaluation and technical guidance for eventuality.

The special committee probing illegal foreign assets of Pakistanis held more than seven meetings with representation from Ministries of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Interior, FBR, NAB, FIA, IB and SECP.  They all have discussed the initiatives being taken to both forestall the unchecked outflow of foreign exchange, as well as to trace and bring back undeclared and ill-gotten assets held abroad by Pakistani nationals.


October 12, 2018

Journalist James M. Dorsey says Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) has suffered significant reputational damage on the eve of a major global trade conference known as Vision 2030 or  “Davos in the Desert












Dr. Amira Abo el-Fetouh

Frankly, this was not the first, and it will not be the last time that the American President Donald Trump insults the Saudi King, but we are a nation who is afflicted with forgetfulness. While the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited the US, the American President said, in a phone call to the Saudi King, “King, we’re protecting you. You might not be there for two weeks without us. You have to pay for your military; you have to pay.”

“And I love the king, King Salman, but I said, ‘King we’re protecting you. You might not be there for two weeks without us. You have to pay for your military; you have to pay.’'

Trump has made such remarks before, but this is the first time he has repeated such comments at a political rally, before the eyes and ears of the world. He is humiliating Saudi Arabia and offending its King publically, not behind closed doors, where we are certain that worse and uglier is said.  In my opinion, Trump is a man who is honest with himself and operates based on the logic of business and the language of numbers and calculations, not the language of politics and diplomacy, which he never learned or doesn’t understand. He is a businessman and has not let go of that part of himself, remaining loyal to it, and it has become the central part of what makes up his character. We watched him during his presidential campaign promise the American people the money of the Gulf and threatened the Gulf leaders, who he likened to cows, with milking them and then slaughtering them.

He is now keeping his promise and doing good on his threats. It is ironic that even though the Gulf leaders heard Trump’s warning, they were the keenest on and supportive of him. Countries such as the UAE spend tens of billions of dollars to ensure his victory over Hilary Clinton, who, according to them, supported the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood phobia will continue to haunt them and blind them until they lose their thrones themselves.

Trump was not satisfied with the half a trillion dollars he took from Saudi Arabia during his promising visit last year. He wanted more milk this year, as the annual payment for protecting them, as he has reiterated in three consecutive speeches made in less than a week. In Mississippi, he said, “We protect Saudi Arabia — would you say they’re rich?” “And I love the king, King Salman, but I said, ‘King we’re protecting you. You might not be there for two weeks without us. You have to pay for your military; you have to pay.’”

Two days before that, at a rally in West Virginia, he said, “King, you have got trillions of dollars. Without us, who knows what’s going to happen. …. With us, they are safe. But we don’t get what we should be getting,” In his last speech in Minnesota, he said, “Excuse me, King Salman’, he is my friend, ‘do you mind paying for the military? Do you mind? Pay!’… I said, ‘do you mind paying?’ ‘But nobody has asked me’, I said ‘but I’m asking you, King.”

The truth is that despite the brazen language, far from the diplomacy followed by the world leaders, that carry explicit threats, Trump was also correct in what he said. Yes, the US is protecting the Al-Saud throne. This is an old agreement that was made during the secret meeting between President Franklin Roosevelt and King Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, the founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, aboard the USS Quincy.

The truth is that although the language of sophistication is far removed from the diplomacy of heads of state, and the style of humiliation carries a clear threat, but Trump was also correct in what he said! This is an old agreement between US President Franklin Roosevelt and King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia, aboard the USS Quincy cruiser on February 14, 1945, known as the Quincy Agreement. The most important clause in the agreement stipulates that the US will provide unconditional protection to the ruling Al-Saud family in exchange for Saudi Arabia guaranteeing the oil supply the US deserved.

The deal was supposed to last 60 years, and then President George W Bush renewed the agreement for another 60 in 2005. Trump was also truthful regarding the protection the US pledged, but he wasn’t accurate regarding the stipulation Saudi Arabia adhered to for decades. Saudi Arabia was generous, and not like he said, not at the desired level. Saudi Arabia also controlled the world oil prices through OPEC, keeping it at a price that pleases the US and obeyed the order of the American master.

Now Trump is attacking OPEC and said in his speech before the UN General Assembly, “OPEC nations are as usual ripping off the rest of the world, and I don’t like it. Nobody should like it. We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good.”   It seems that President Trump wants to amend the Quincy Agreement in a manner that grants the US all of the revenues from the Saudi oil wealth in return for protecting Saudi Arabia.

It is interesting that Saudi Arabia did not respond to Trump’s humiliation as an independent sovereign state nor the insult of its king with any official statement issued by the Royal Court followed by a firm political stance or stern diplomatic action against the United States. However, a week later, the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, told Bloomberg, “I love working with him. You know, you have to accept that any friend will say good things and bad things,” about Trump. This is a shameful response, no less shameful and humiliating than Trump’s remarks about them, as Bin Salman’s response confirms Trump’s remarks and indicates the fragility of the Saudi state and supports dependence on the US.
He is now keeping his promise and doing good on his threats. It is ironic that even though the Gulf leaders heard Trump’s warning, they were the keenest on and supportive of him. Countries such as the UAE spend tens of billions of dollars to ensure his victory over Hilary Clinton, who, according to them, supported the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood phobia will continue to haunt them and blind them until they lose their thrones themselves.

Trump was not satisfied with the half a trillion dollars he took from Saudi Arabia during his promising visit last year. He wanted more milk this year, as the annual payment for protecting them, as he has reiterated in three consecutive speeches made in less than a week. In Mississippi, he said, “We protect Saudi Arabia — would you say they’re rich?” “And I love the king, King Salman, but I said, ‘King we’re protecting you. You might not be there for two weeks without us. You have to pay for your military; you have to pay.’”

Two days before that, at a rally in West Virginia, he said, “King, you have got trillions of dollars. Without us, who knows what’s going to happen. …. With us, they are safe. But we don’t get what we should be getting,” In his last speech in Minnesota, he said, “Excuse me, King Salman’, he is my friend, ‘do you mind paying for the military? Do you mind? Pay!’… I said, ‘do you mind paying?’ ‘But nobody has asked me’, I said ‘but I’m asking you, King.”

The truth is that despite the brazen language, far from the diplomacy followed by the world leaders, that carry explicit threats, Trump was also correct in what he said. Yes, the US is protecting the Al-Saud throne. This is an old agreement that was made during the secret meeting between President Franklin Roosevelt and King Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, the founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, aboard the USS Quincy.

The truth is that although the language of sophistication is far removed from the diplomacy of heads of state, and the style of humiliation carries a clear threat, but Trump was also correct in what he said! This is an old agreement between US President Franklin Roosevelt and King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia, aboard the USS Quincy cruiser on February 14, 1945, known as the Quincy Agreement. The most important clause in the agreement stipulates that the US will provide unconditional protection to the ruling Al-Saud family in exchange for Saudi Arabia guaranteeing the oil supply the US deserved.

The deal was supposed to last 60 years, and then President George W Bush renewed the agreement for another 60 in 2005. Trump was also truthful regarding the protection the US pledged, but he wasn’t accurate regarding the stipulation Saudi Arabia adhered to for decades. Saudi Arabia was generous, and not like he said, not at the desired level. Saudi Arabia also controlled the world oil prices through OPEC, keeping it at a price that pleases the US and obeyed the order of the American master.

Now Trump is attacking OPEC and said in his speech before the UN General Assembly, “OPEC nations are as usual ripping off the rest of the world, and I don’t like it. Nobody should like it. We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good.”   It seems that President Trump wants to amend the Quincy Agreement in a manner that grants the US all of the revenues from the Saudi oil wealth in return for protecting Saudi Arabia.

It is interesting that Saudi Arabia did not respond to Trump’s humiliation as an independent sovereign state nor the insult of its king with any official statement issued by the Royal Court followed by a firm political stance or stern diplomatic action against the United States. However, a week later, the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, told Bloomberg, “I love working with him. You know, you have to accept that any friend will say good things and bad things,” about Trump. This is a shameful response, no less shameful and humiliating than Trump’s remarks about them, as Bin Salman’s response confirms Trump’s remarks and indicates the fragility of the Saudi state and supports dependence on the US.

However, it seems that the arrogant youth, Bin Salman, who rules the Kingdom, has racked his brains for a new way to respond to Trump in a manner that allows him to seek revenge and regain his dignity. He abducted the Saudi journalist who writes for American’s The Washington Post, Jamal Khashoggi, in Turkey, after ambushing him at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Jamal Khashoggi entered the embassy and had not emerged, and four days after he was abducted, the Turkish and Saudi sides exchanged narratives and claims about whether or not Khashoggi was in the consulate.

The Saudis have confirmed that he left the consulate, while the Turks claim he did not and that he is still in the embassy. Claims were made back and forth until Reuters announced his death on Saturday in the embassy, and unofficial news stories were reported. The Turkish authorities have not issued any official statements regarding his death so far, while the security sources leaked statements of him being killed inside the Saudi embassy to the news agencies. Several news sources had added that he was tortured before he was murdered and that his body was cut into several pieces.

This is the action of criminal gangs and thugs, not countries governed by a constitution and treat their citizens based on the rule of law. Such actions are not new or strange to the Al-Saud family, as their forefathers established their kingdom over the remains and bodies of the tribes they unjustly and aggressively invaded.

This is neither the first nor the last time that Saudi opposition figures were abducted from exile and deported to Saudi Arabia. The country has a shameful and long history in this regard, as it seized the dissident, Nasser Al-Saeed from Beirut in 1979, with the help of one of his Palestinian friends from the PLO, and his fate remains unknown until today. Kidnapping dissidents are not limited to members of the public but have also included members of the royal family, the fate of many remain unknown. There are thousands of male and female scholars, clerics, intellects, economists, university professors, and activists behind bars.

The announcement of Khashoggi’s assassination was a shock that shook the world humanitarian conscience. How could this happen to a peaceful man and a journalist who has nothing other than his thoughts and pen to serve the humanitarian issues, freedom, justice, and dignity. He was a staunch supporter of the Arab Spring revolutions, believing they would rise again and that a revolutionary wave was on the horizon. He thought that democracy was is the solution in the Arab countries, especially those witnessing civil wars such as Yemen, Libya, and Syria.

Khashoggi carried the concerns and issues of his nation, and the Palestinian cause was his main focus and believed that the return of the nation’s fighting spirit. Among his last tweets posted after attending a conference on Palestine post-Oslo, organised by Middle East Monitor in London, a day before travelling to Turkey on that fateful day, “I leave London with Palestine on my mind. I attended a conference and discovered researchers and activists who believe in the fairness of the cause from all over the world. Despite the strength of the Israeli lobby, which has besieged any sympathy with the Palestinian cause, but our voices are still high. In our world, they are trying to disregard Palestine to break our anger, but it is present in our conscience in the conscience of every citizen, even if they are silent.”





The murder of Jamal Khashoggi should be denounced. Professor As`ad AbuKhalil says western media’s uncritical praise of Khashoggi is unworthy, he was a loyal member of the Saudi propaganda apparatus and chose the wrong side of the House of Saud

Ghassan Kadi
October 26, 2018 "Information Clearing House"  

With the ever-changing and escalating aftermath of the Khashoggi disappearance episode, there remain many fixed marks that are interesting to identify.  But before we do, we must stop and briefly look at the official American, Turkish and Saudi stands on this issue.  The Americans are best seen to be playing yoyo with their Saudi “friends”. One moment they seem to be totally abandoning them and sending them spiraling down in a free-fall, and the next moment they lift them up, clutch them, and give them a sense of safety. Notwithstanding that on the 3rd of October, and just before the Khashoggi story hit the media frenzy, Trump reiterated that Saudi Arabia would not last two weeks without America’s support, and what followed was a series of fluctuations and backflips on the American side. At the time of promising severe measures against the Saudis, Trump said that this will not mean canceling the arms deal with Saudi Arabia. And when Pompeo visited Al Saud to talk to the royals, leaving the Kingdom of Sand with an understanding that his boss Trump articulated by hinting at vindicating the royals and putting the blame on some rogue elements, America turned again supporting Turkish investigations and awaiting their outcome, but just before Erdogan’s speech of the 23rd of October, Trump reiterated that he was prepared to accept the Saudi Government denial of involvement.

And speaking of Turkish investigations, the highly awaited Erdogan speech ended in a pop and a fizzle, and was nothing short of a domestic propaganda speech that had no conclusions and did not provide any evidence as to the details of Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder. And “alleged” it remains until a body is found and identified by an independent reliable coroner.

The speech was not endorsed by America, and America was for a few hours or so once again looking sympathetic towards the Saudi royals, but less than 24 hours later, Trump was talking about the “worst cover-up in history”.  There is no need to flood this article with easy-to-find references to substantiate the above.  Back to Erdogan later.  These swings that are extremely bizarre and hypocritical even by American standards make one wonders what kind of relationship do Saudis and Americans have.  To understand the underlying nature of this relationship, having a look at the events of the last ten years or so are revealing enough without having to dig deeper into history.  To this effect, I am not talking about the strategic alliances, defense agreements, the importance of oil to both countries, the world and the Israeli role in all of this. I am not talking about the Saudi obsession with Iran either. What I am talking about is the personal human relationships between the Americans and Saudis as human beings and how they view each other as men; this is about the personal love-hate-respect-loath relationship between American policymakers and their Saudi counterparts.

This “relationship” is not a simple one. It is embroiled by deep cultural differences and belief systems. Having lived and worked in Saudi Arabia, I can understand the Saudi mindset more than many, but anyone who has had the same “privilege” that I had living there would concur, albeit not necessarily be prepared to sit down and write about it.  In case the reader is unfamiliar with the predominant Saudi mindset, speaking generally of course, allow me to pin point certain pertinent aspects of it:

1. Contrary to the word of the Holy Quran and which clearly states that God chose the Arabic language for the religion of Islam, Saudis believe otherwise. They believe that Islam was God’s gift to them.

2. Saudis also believe that God also gave Arabia another gift; petrol, and the biggest national reserve of them all … perhaps.

3. Al-Saud believe they have been afforded the God-given mandate to rule Arabia at the time when petrol became such an important commodity for the rest of the world.

4. Finally, the above “privileges” give Saudis, especially members of the Royal Family, an illusion of being above others. And this mindset views other nations from the perspective that Saudis are the rich masters of the world and that they have the power and ability to employ members of those other nations to “serve” them.

When I lived and worked in Saudi Arabia, Saudis did not work. They had jobs, but they never really worked. Apart from the security apparatus whose job is mainly to protect the status quo of the Royal Family, the only other real working job that Saudis had was taxi driving. But that was what poor and uneducated Bedouins did.  All other jobs from garbage collectors to doctors to dockyard engineers were contracted to expats from different regions of the world. Professional jobs that needed communication and fluency in the Arabic language were given to Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians, Jordanians and Egyptians. Blue collar jobs were given to Yemenis and Arabs of the above nationalities without tertiary education. High ranking professional jobs that did not require fluency in Arabic were given to Americans and Europeans.  This mentality produced a generation or two or three of Saudis who are filthy rich, overweight, and engrossed with self-grandeur and superiority that was fed time and time again by their financial prowess. But this is not restricted to Saudis only. Arabs of the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait all have that same superiority disease. Qatar that has a Qatari population of less than 200,000 has a population of over one and a half million expats to “serve them”. This is exactly how they see it; themselves being masters, and expats beings serving serfs.

In recent times, the Saudi and Gulf youth have increasingly been gaining tertiary education qualifications, receiving generous government scholarships and immediate employment following graduation. The Saudi Government protects its people by imposing quota rules on the percentage of Saudi employees in companies as well as the public sector of course. However, this fact has not been reflected in the work load they perform. These educated Saudis sit at the head of governmental positions and companies in tokenistic managerial supervisory roles over an entire staff of foreign professionals. They often try to assert their positions and feed their egos by yelling and barking irrelevant, and often laughable orders, at their employees and junior staff. And even if they are not in managerial roles, they will still be around the foreign professionals, leaving all the work for them to do and doing nothing themselves.

Saudi professionals I “worked with” were living examples for me to learn this mindset. They did not lift a finger, but when a report was submitted by either myself or other expats around me, a Saudi name had to appear as its senior author, and he received all the accolade. Saudis 

genuinely believe that they can buy anything and anyone with money, including buying the stature of being a leading nation.  And if, hypothetically-speaking, the Saudis were to contract a Western company to build them a space ship and send a man to Mars, they will regard this as a Saudi achievement. Surprised? Well, just have a look at Dubai’s “achievement” in building Burj Khalifa, the tallest building on earth. Once again, that Saudi mentality is not any better or worse than the general oil-rich Arabian one. They are all almost identical. At a deep and subtle level however, the Saudis (and Gulfies in general) know well that in the eyes of the Empire and its cohorts, they are perceived as a bunch of “uncivilized camel riders” who happen to be horribly rich by sheer luck. They know that they are not really regarded as true allies of the West, but as its milking cow; and some Saudis and Gulfies are trying to change this image. None tried harder than Prince Bandar Bin Sultan.  Prince Bandar Bin Sultan was Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Washington from 1983 to 2005. He became the Saudi royal who best understood the Western mind and how the West regarded the Arab World, and especially Saudi Arabia. He had his own evil agenda he wanted to use to catapult himself into ascending to the throne as the first grandson of founding King Abdul-Aziz. He was a close personal friend of the Bushes and many others in the previous and successive American administrations. And, if America ever had a Saudi Prince that American lawmakers could speak to and reciprocate understanding with, it was Bandar Bin Sultan.

He was banking on the fact that his father, Sultan, had been in line for the throne for decades and was Crown Prince ever since King Abdullah took the throne in 2005. But to Bandar’s disappointment, his father died in 2011, before King Abdullah who died in 2015.  As Bandar Bin Sultan was grooming himself to become king after his father, his knowledge of the Western mind and closeness to many key people in the United States led him to realize that he had to present himself as a competent and reliable partner in order to be respected. Bandar wanted to demonstrate his personal character worth to his American allies by plotting the “War on Syria”. That war was his pet project and his license to achieve equality with his American friends. But Bandar fell on his sword when Syrian resistance proved to be much stronger than his ambitions, and not long after his failed desperate attempt to persuade America to attack Syria after he blamed the Syrian Army for a chemical attack that he staged in East Ghouta in September 2013, Bandar disappeared, vanishing into oblivion.

With the rapid and unprecedented changes in the line of Saudi throne succession that followed Prince Sultan’s death, and which eventually presented Mohamed Bin Salman (MBS) as the new Saudi strong-man Crown Prince, the young prince had big shoes to fill. Haunted by the image, ambition and failures of Bandar, MBS had a bigger “obligation” to prove his worth to his American “allies”.  The war on Yemen was MBS’s own “love-child”. He wanted to kill two birds with one stone; overcoming the Houthis, and proving to America that he is reliable in curbing Iran’s regional influence. He was hoping he could prove that his army was able to fight and win a war against Iran itself. He thus gave his war a name akin to American military operations; “Operation Decisive Storm”. Sounds a bit like “Operation Desert Storm”, does it not? In doing this, he wanted to put himself on par with great military leaders and score a quick and decisive victory in Yemen. Three years later, he cannot even hold his own borders.

In more ways than one, in as much as the Saudis and Gulfies have the afore-mentioned superiority complex, ironically they also possess a huge inferiority complex. They try to prove their own worth by bragging their “friendship” with America, and when President Trump made his first formal visit as President to Saudi Arabia, he was greeted like no other visiting foreign dignitary anywhere in the past. Only Elizabeth Taylor could claim such a reception as Hollywood’s version of Cleopatra.  Trump’s visit was Saudi Arabia’s greatest moment of “pride”.  But even on much smaller matters, Saudis and Gulfies brag their Western employees and they have a special liking for white blue-eyed Westerners. With thousands of Americans and Westerners working in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, it would be rare, if not impossible, to find a black American/Westerner; especially if the post involves being in the public view. And this is because, if you are a Saudi employer and you need a Westerner to fill the position of a public relations officer, you would want a white, blue-eyed person on that desk and not a black person. After all, a black Westerner could be mistaken for a Sudanese, a Somalese or a member of any other “inferior” African nation; as perceived in the eyes of the Saudis/Gulfies.

Back to the Khashoggi debacle and the role of Erdogan. As mentioned above, in his Tuesday the 23rd of October speech, Erdogan did not supply the goods, and it was time for America to pull the rug from underneath his feet, reclaim control of the narrative, and draw the Saudi yoyo back up again to give the Saudis a bit of a breather; until further notice. America can neither afford to keep the fate of the Khashoggi story in Erdogan’s hands any more than it can afford to lose the Saudi milking cow. But the human relationships between Americans and Saudis are now perhaps at their worst, and mostly for the Saudis. The Saudis have again failed the validity and fortitude test and they know they have taken a back step that needs many years, perhaps decades to recover from. In the eyes of the Americans, their credibility as partners and viability as capable men has suffered a big time blow.

The biggest twist perhaps in the Khashoggi debacle is that the Saudis have always felt that they were entitled to the same level of impunity the West affords to itself. After all, this was how Al-Saud got away with persecuting dissent, imposing undemocratic laws, and exporting Wahhabi ideology and the terror acts that come with it. Needless to mention the biggest human tragedy of them all; inflicting war crimes in Yemen, killing tens of thousands and inflicting starvation and disease upon millions others.  But when America lifted the blanket of impunity on the Saudis over the Khashoggi story leaving them out on their own to face the consequences of their crimes for a change, the Saudis indeed did not survive for more than two weeks.

Just imagine how would the world popular opinion could be manipulated if leading Western media outlets suddenly “decide” to start reporting the Yemeni tragedy and the role of Saudi Arabia in creating it, and specifically the role of MBS in creating this tragedy. Will MBS in this instance become the West’s new Saddam? MBS has been named, his Foreign Minister desperately tried to isolate him from the Khashoggi story, but it is up to America and its “fake news” media to decide whether or not MBS is implicated, and the more they implicate him, the deeper America can dig into his pocket. And as this article was getting ready to be submitted for publishing, MBS himself broke his silence proclaiming that the murder of Khashoggi was a heinous crime and that those responsible will be punished.

Either way, when the Saudis return to the negotiating table with their American “partners”, MBS will not only be facing a bill for American protection of Saudi Arabia per se, but also a bill for protecting his own personal aspirations to become king as well as protecting his own head. He must prepare himself to expect a hefty price of his own head. What will that price be is yet to be seen.

Finian Cunningham
n't rest until we know what happened to Jamal 
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed this week to reveal the “naked truth” about the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi; however, in fact, he didn't uncover anything extraordinary, but why?  It is significant that the day before Erdogan’s much-hyped speech to Turkish parliamentarians, President Donald Trump dispatched his CIA chief to Turkey to “investigate” the evidence of Khashoggi’s killing.The involvement of the CIA at such a high level in an overseas criminal case is unprecedented. Surely, FBI crime investigators would have been more appropriate, if at all. What was the real purpose of CIA director Gina Haspel going to Turkey? Haspel, or “Bloody Gina” as she is known, has an ignominious record of being personally involved in past CIA torture cases and destroying incriminating evidence. Was her trip to Turkey not so much about discovery of facts, and rather more about covering-up the truth of what really happened to Khashoggi?  It is subsequently reported by the Washington Post that Haspel listened to the secret Turkish audiotapes recording the moments of Khashoggi’s murder.y Newsletter

For his part, President Erdogan’s speech this week provoked much disappointment among many international observers who had been expecting him to reveal hard evidence incriminating the
Saudis in a murder plot. There was an expectation that Erdogan would finally release audio and video tapes, which Turk investigators claim to have, which would expose the grim way in which Khashoggi was allegedly disposed of.  The Turkish leader certainly laid out plainly the charge that Saudi Arabia had carried out “a premeditated murder” in its consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Erdogan called it a “brutal” killing which implies Khashoggi was tortured and dismembered,  as Turkish officials have been leaking for the past three weeks to media. But Erdogan did not name names of who the Turks believe was ultimately responsible for ordering the assassination.
The  Saudis have stated that Khashoggi was killed in a “botched interrogation” carried out by a rogue” team of state security agents. They have strenuously denied that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 33-year-old heir to the throne, had any involvement in ordering the plot.
Prince Mohammed this week in his first public comments on the killing, called it a “heinous act” and promised to bring the perpetrators to justice. Notably, in a conciliatory overture to Erdogan, the monarch also warned anyone trying to “drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and Turkey”.

Nonetheless, unnamed American and Turkish intelligence sources have separately told various media outlets they have telecoms intercepts implicating the crown prince in personally sanctioning the murderous operation.
[/color]The holding back of damning evidence by Erdogan this week suggests that the Turkish leader is trying to maximize his leverage over the Saudi rulers and President Trump to get a deal for his country. This may explain the real reason why CIA’s Haspel rushed to Turkey this week.  Erdogan is a renowned Machiavellian politician. He may have been personal friends with the doomed Khashoggi, but when Erdogan vows to “expose the full truth” while holding back purported damning evidence, what he is aiming to do is extract further concessions from the Saudis and the Americans.  Turkey needs the US to back off from its recent campaign of hostility and sanctions which have thrown the Turkish economy into turmoil. US-Turkish relations soured over the detention by Ankara of an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, on charges of espionage. The return of the pastor earlier this month only days after the Khashoggi case emerged suggests the beginning of Erdogan’s gambit to appease the US for favors.  It can also be anticipated that Erdogan will extract eye-watering financial concessions from oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which reportedly has huge investments in Turkey. That could involve debt write-offs for Ankara or more soft loans into the future.

For the Saudis and Washington, they want the whole Khashoggi scandal to go away as fast as possible. President Trump has helped create the media narrative that the Khashoggi killing was a “horrible mistake” carried out by  rogue agents”. This week, ironically, Trump described the Saudi version of events as “the worst cover-up in history”. Cynically, what Trump means is that the alibi needs to be improved with a more sophisticated deception.  This US president has staked much of his Middle East plans on the Saudi crown prince, or “MbS” as he is known. Trump’s son-in-law and White House advisor on Middle East affairs Jared Kushner is personal friends with the young monarch. The White House is relying on Prince Mohammed to sell what amounts to a pro-Israeli peace deal to the Arab world, which Trump has bragged about as being “the deal of the century”.

The Saudi monarch is also crucial to Trump’s policy of aggression towards Iran. The US needs the Saudis to ramp up oil production in order to offset the expected decrease in Iranian crude supply if Trump’s anti-Iran sanctions due to kick in next month are to succeed.  Maintaining multi-billion-dollar arms sales to Saudi Arabia is, of course, another imperative reason why the White House does not want the truth about what happened Khashoggi to come out. It wants to whitewash the role played by senior House of Saud figures.  A bipartisan move by US congress members was launched this week to limit arms sales to Saudi Arabia if President Trump does not show that senior Saudi royals were not involved in the Khashoggi killing. Trump is therefore under pressure to absolve the Saudi authorities of culpability.  

For the Saudi rulers they have been caught in a global public relations disaster. Their image, never too positive anyway, has been shattered over the foul murder of a journalist. Saudi’s oil economy is not as secure as one might think. The military operation in Yemen and ballooning social costs internally are making the kingdom heavily reliant on foreign capital. The “Davos in the Desert” conference this week has seen many top investors stay away due to the Khashoggi scandal.  The House of Saud desperately needs to find a cover-up that absolves its senior figures in Khashoggi’s murder.

For these reasons, Turkey, the US and Saudi Arabia are positioning for a sordid deal which will involve burying the truth about what happened to Khashoggi and who ordered his murder.  For ordinary people around the world one might expect justice and truth to prevail. But in the dirty business of politics – especially involving these three arch-practitioners of dirty politics – justice and truth are values more likely to be liquidated.

Craig Murray  

The Turkish account of the murder of Khashoggi given by President Erdogan is true, in every detail. Audio and video evidence exists and has been widely shared with world intelligence agencies, including the US, UK, Russia and Germany, and others which have a relationship with Turkey or are seen as influential. That is why, despite their desperate desire to do so, no Western country has been able to maintain support for Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. I have not seen the video from inside the consulate, but have been shown stills which may be from a video. The most important thing to say is that they are not from a fixed position camera and appear at first sight consistent with the idea they are taken by a device brought in by the victim. I was only shown them briefly. I have not heard the audio recording.

There are many things to learn from the gruesome murder other than the justified outrage at the event itself. It opens a window on the truly horrible world of the extremely powerful and wealthy.

The first thing to say is that the current Saudi explanation, that this was an intended interrogation and abduction gone wrong, though untrue, does have one thing going for it. It is their regular practice. The Saudis have for years been abducting dissidents abroad and returning them to the Kingdom to be secretly killed. The BBC World Service often contains little pockets of decent journalism not reflected in its main news outlets, and here from August 2017 is a little noticed piece on the abduction and “disappearance” of three other senior Saudis between 2015-17. Interestingly, while the piece was updated this month, it was not to include the obvious link to the Khashoggi case.

The key point is that European authorities turned a completely blind eye to the abductions in that BBC report, even when performed on European soil and involving physical force. The Saudi regime was really doing very little different in the Khashoggi case. In fact, inside Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi was a less senior and important figure than those other three abducted then killed, about whom nobody kicked up any fuss, even though the truth was readily available. Mohammed Bin Salman appears to have made two important miscalculations: he misread Erdogan and he underestimated the difference which Khashoggi’s position as a Washington Post journalist made to political pressure on Western governments.

Khashoggi should not himself be whitewashed. He had a long term professional association with the Saudi security services which put him on the side of prolific torturers and killers for decades. That does not in any sense justify his killing. But it is right to be deeply sceptical of the democratic credentials of Saudis who were in with the regime and have become vocal for freedom and democracy only after being marginalised by Mohammed Bin Salman’s ruthless consolidation of power (which built on a pre-existing trend).

The same scepticism is true many times over when related to CIA Director Gina Haspel, who personally supervisedtorture in the CIA torture and extraordinary rendition programme. Haspel was sent urgently to Ankara by Donald Trump to attempt to deflect Erdogan from any direct accusation of Mohammed Bin Salman in his speech yesterday. MBS’ embrace of de facto alliance with Israel, in pursuit of his fanatic hatred of Shia Muslims, is the cornerstone of Trump’s Middle East policy.

Haspel’s brief was very simple. She took with her intercept intelligence that purportedly shows massive senior level corruption in the Istanbul Kanal project, and suggested that Erdogan may not find it a good idea if intelligence agencies started to make public all the information they hold.

Whether Erdogan held back in his speech yesterday as a result of Haspel’s intervention I do not know. Erdogan may be keeping cards up his sleeve for his own purpose, particularly relating to intercepts of phone and Skype calls from the killers direct to MBS’ office. I have an account of Haspel’s brief from a reliable source, but have not been updated on who she then met, or what the Turks said to her. It does seem very probable, from Trump’s shift in position this morning to indicate MBS may be involved, that Haspel was convinced the Turks have further strong evidence and may well use it.

Meantime, the British government maintains throughout that, whatever else happens, British factories will continue to supply bombs to Saudi Arabia to massacre children on school buses and untold numbers of other civilians. Many Tory politicians remain personally in Saudi pockets, with former Defence Minister Michael Fallon revealed today as being amongst them.

It is of course extraordinary that Saudi war crimes in Yemen, its military suppression of democracy in Bahrain, its frequent executions of dissidents, human rights defenders, and Shia religious figures, even its arrests of feminists, have had little impact in the West. But the horrible murder of Khashoggi has caught the public imagination and forced western politicians to at least pretend to want to do something about the Saudis whose wealth they crave. I expect any sanctions will be smoke and mirrors.

Mohammed Bin Salman is no fool, and he realises that to punish members of his personal security detail who were just following his orders, would put him in the position of Caligula and the Praetorian Guard, and not tend to his long term safety. Possibly people will be reassigned, or there will be brief imprisonments till nobody is looking. If I were a dissident or Shia in Saudi Arabia who bore any kind of physical resemblance to any of the party of murderers, I would get out very quick.

With every sympathy for his horrible murder, Khashoggi and his history as a functionary of the brutal Saudi regime should not be whitewashed. Mohammed Bin Salman is directly responsible for his murder, and if there is finally international understanding that he is a dangerous psychopath, that is a good thing. You will forgive me for saying that I explained this back in March whilst the entire mainstream media, awash with Saudi PR cash, was praising him as a great reformer. For the Americans to deploy Gina Haspel gives us a welcome reminder that they are in absolutely no position to moralise. Whatever comes of this will not be “justice”. The truth the leads can reveal is much wider than the narrow question of the murder incident, as I hope this article sketches out. That the fallout derails to some extent the murder machine in Yemen is profoundly to be hoped.

The Khashoggi affair is yet another reason for the world to abandon the assumption that the kingdom represents Islam.

The recent disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has the world's fingers pointed in the direction of the Saudi government, specifically at its de-facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen living in exile in the United States because of his criticism of the Saudi regime, earned the esteem of audiences that read his political commentary in both Arabic and English. He was last seen alive entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, when he visited to procure documents he needed to wed his Turkish fiancee. 

Speculation about bin Salman ordering his kidnapping, or state-sponsored murder, rose to the fore, dominating mainstream and social media discussions about the missing journalist's likely fate. On October 19, Saudi authorities finally admitted Khashoggi was killed inside the country's Istanbul consulate. This admission merely confirmed a conclusion most had already drawn given the regime's dismal human rights record and fierce intolerance to any criticism: The Saudi government was directly responsible for Khashoggi's disappearance and death.   And where Saudi Arabia is the subject of wrongdoing, Islam stands alongside it. Collaterally implicated and indicted as the source of the vile actions taken by a government that, since its inception as a sovereign state, has been popularly anointed as the living embodiment of the religion. 

Khashoggi case: A timeline

This, again, was the case with the Khashoggi affair. The unknown whereabouts of the journalist, widely regarded to be among the most courageous indigenous critics of the Saudi regime, implicated Islam in the minds of many. The "redeployment of Orientalist tropes,"  as articulated by law scholar Leti Volpp, surged to the surface and steered the popular discourse, driving immediate conclusions that Islam itself is "intolerant to criticism," "resistant to independent media voices," and "suppressive of dissidence."

These blanket assessments of the religion, spurred by the actions of the Saudi state, coloured conversations about Khashoggi's disappearance, and cast Islam as the source of Saudi actions. However, what is more insidious than these stereotypes is the assumption that undergirds them: specifically, that Saudi Arabia itself is the primary manifestation of Islam, and everything that it does is representative of the religion.   Saudi Arabia does not represent Islam. Despite its best efforts to promote and project itself as the symbol and "centre of Islam," the Saudi state represents a regime steered by a desperate and austere few and, namely, one Mohammed bin Salman. Home to Medina and Mecca, the two holiest sites in Islam, the regime leverages its role as ward to these cities to shroud its legitimacy with religion; and function as the gatekeeper to the 1.8 billion Muslims around the globe called to enter its bounds to complete the mandated pilgrimage to Mecca. Being home to these holy sites has been just as potent as its boundless supply of crude oil to sustain the regime, with ruling monarch after monarch strategically intertwining the heft of their petrodollars with the global promotion of Wahhabism to propel the idea that Saudi Arabia and Islam are interchangeable entities.  

Let's be clear: while the bulk of the idea that Islam and Saudi Arabia are one is rooted in Orientalist ideas and portrayals of Saudi clerics, sheiks and monarchs as the very archetypes of Islam, Saudi Arabia itself has been very intentional in distilling that idea and disseminating it broadly in the Middle East, Muslim majority countries, and the West. In fact, Wahhabi thought is largely intolerant of other Islamic traditions, and holds itself out to be the only authentic mode of Islamic practice. In addition to this, strategic alliances with global powers, principally the US, have emboldened the Saudi regime to further its project of positioning itself as the political representative of Islam. For better, and far more frequently, as represented by the Khashoggi affair, for worst. 

But it does not represent Islam, before and especially today. Saudi Arabia is just one nation, which enshrines an austere and primitive interpretation of Sunni Islam, Wahhabism. This tradition is only practised within the country of approximately 32 million people and other nations where the Saudi regime has spread its influence by way of direct economic and political influence, or indirectly, through the spread of terror networks. In fact, Indonesia, Pakistan and India are home to far bigger Muslim populations, and Nigeria has two-and-a-half times the number of Muslim citizens as Saudi Arabia. Beyond its spiritual and demographic shortcomings, Muslims globally are beginning to see Saudi Arabia as a blight to how Islam and Muslims are viewed, a sentiment that is especially strong in the US. 

To highlight the force of the popular association of Saudi Arabia with Islam, it is common for both media pundits and lay people to conflate the whole of Islam with the aberrant tradition of Wahhabism, viewing the latter as a stand-in for a religion comprised of distinct sects, subsects, and diverse schools of thought. Again, this is in great part the work of prominent Orientalists and modern Islamophobes, but also the intended fruit of Saudi policy and propaganda, proselytization and posturing. At most, Saudi Arabia represents the insular and static canon of Wahhabism. But further investigation of its domestic and global manoeuvering even renders that position obsolete, revealing that the regime is fundamentally driven by the all-costs ambition of one crown prince and the shadowy figures backing his rise to power.

Khashoggi, who represented honesty and evenhandedness, courage and the possibility of journalistic freedom in a nation entirely devoid of it, offered the world a living counterexample of what it meant to be Saudi. He was proud of both his faith and his national origins; his work and his very being stood as an affront to the Saudi regime and the assent of its unpredictable strongman, Mohammed bin Salman.   Khashoggi's brave journalism was inspired in great part by Islam, and indicting it on account of the vile actions of the Saudi regime, is a double injustice: first, to the memory of a courageous journalist, who post-mortem will continue to symbolise the quest for a journalistic freedom wholly denied in Saudi Arabia; and second, to a global religion that stands apart from the vile actions of the Saudi regime, or any single state or government that wields it to further its earthly objectives.

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