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Syria: Will this battle mean the end of the Syrian war? - BBC Newsnight
BBC Newsnight


Published on Oct 12, 2018
Why the city of Idlib could spell the end of the Syrian war.

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Idlib is the last rebel-held stronghold of the Syrian war.

The 90,000 rebels (20,000 of them extremist jihadis - Assad's regime refuses to differentiate) were expecting an offensive by the Syrian Arab Army and its Russian and Iranian allies to start, but it has been postponed after Russia and Turkey agreed to establish a demilitarised zone around the province.

Postponed being the operative word.

Here Newsnight's Mike Thomson explains why the battle for Idlib is so significant.

Graphics: Stelios Thoukidides

Newsnight is the BBC's flagship news and current affairs TV programme - with analysis, debate, exclusives, and robust interviews.

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ISIS Makes A Last Stand In Libya
Journeyman Pictures


Published on Oct 13, 2018
Libya's ISIS Insurgency: With the caliphate in ruins, ISIS insurgents have scattered all across North Africa. Many sleeper cells have sought refuge in Libya, where a lack of state authority since 2011 makes it an ideal place to lay low and plan attacks.

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PBS Newshour Weekend – Ref. 7440
 

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In Trump’s Saudi Bargain, the Bottom Line Proudly Wins Out


NYT
By PETER BAKER
1 hr ago

WASHINGTON — When President Trump made Saudi Arabia his first foreign destination after taking office last year, he struck what amounted to a fundamental bargain with the royal family: He would not lecture them about human rights, and they would buy plenty of American weapons and military hardware.

So as the world recoils at reports that the Saudis sent agents to Turkey to kill and dismember a Saudi dissident journalist with a bone saw, Mr. Trump faces the most profound test of that trade-off. For days, he has rebuffed pressure to punish the Saudis by canceling arms sales that he secured during his visit, arguing that it would cost Americans money and jobs.

That he would prioritize potentially tens of billions of dollars for the United States over moral outrage about the apparent death of a single dissident may not be a major surprise. Other presidents have tempered concerns about human rights overseas with what they perceived to be America’s own security or economic interests. What is different is how open Mr. Trump has been in expressing that realpolitik calculation no matter how crass or cynical it might appear.

“Any president’s going to be stuck in this awkward place,” said Steven A. Cook, a specialist on the region at the Council on Foreign Relations. “The one thing about Trump is he’s basically willing to say: ‘I don’t really care. He’s not an American citizen. Yes, it’s terrible, but we’ve got all this business with them.’ He doesn’t shy away from saying that.”

But that approach could put Mr. Trump on a collision course with Congress, where there is sentiment among members of both parties to use the leverage of arms sales to send a message to Saudi Arabia that it cannot get away with killing a journalist with American ties on foreign soil.

Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said on Sunday that curbing arms sales would be on the menu of possible responses if it is determined that the Saudi government did kill the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, who lived in Virginia and wrote columns for The Washington Post. Turkish officials have concluded that Mr. Khashoggi was murdered as he visited the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago; the Saudi government has rejected the accusations.

Mr. Rubio said it was important for the United States to have the moral authority to criticize autocrats like President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. “All of that is undermined and compromised if we somehow decide that because an ally who is important did that we’re not going to call it out,” he said on “Meet the Press” on NBC.

“So I will just say this to you with full confidence: If this is proven to be true, there is going to be a response from Congress,” he went on. “It’s going to be nearly unanimous. It’s going to be swift. And it’s going to go pretty far. And that could include arms sales. But it could include a bunch of other things as well.”

The Saudi government reacted harshly on Sunday to the specter of a punitive American response, saying it would respond to any action “with greater action,” backed by its economic might.

The threat came in response to a promise Mr. Trump had made in an interview on “60 Minutes” to extract “severe punishment” if the Saudis’ complicity in Mr. Khashoggi’s apparent killing is demonstrated.

But the seriousness of his commitment to that vow was unclear. Asked by reporters on Saturday what specifically he had in mind, he offered no examples and instead asked a senator visiting the Oval Office for his thoughts.

Mr. Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in May 2017 was meant to be a signal of his foreign policy priorities. He was hoping to realign the region by rebuilding America’s alliance with Riyadh, which had frayed under President Barack Obama, and by making clear that he was getting the United States out of the business of lecturing friends about domestic matters.

“We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be or how to worship,” he told the Saudis in a message heard elsewhere around the world. Instead, he focused on the economic benefits of the relationship, boasting that he had secured $110 billion in arms sales during his trip.

That figure, though, was wildly inflated and misleading. Mr. Trump’s package essentially consisted of letters of intent or interest, not actual contracts, and the possible deals began in the Obama administration, when the Saudis bought $112 billion in aircraft, missiles and other military equipment over eight years.

Seventeen months later, the Trump arms bonanza still has not materialized. The kingdom has not bought any new arms platform during the Trump administration, noted Bruce Riedel, a former C.I.A. official and a Saudi expert at the Brookings Institution who advised the Obama administration on Middle East policy.

The possible deal with the highest profile, a $15 billion purchase of a missile defense system known as Thaad, seems stalled as the Saudis let a September deadline with Lockheed Martin pass, Mr. Riedel pointed out in a paper last week.

Even so, Mr. Trump has remained committed, citing the package as a signal accomplishment and explicitly rejecting any pause, much less cancellation.

“I worked very hard to get the order for the military,” he told reporters on Saturday. “If they don’t buy it from us, they’re going to buy it from Russia or they’re going to buy it from China, or they’re going to buy it from other countries.”

Mr. Trump has a point about competitors. As the Saudis hedge on Thaad, they have been in talks with Russia for the purchase of its S-400 air defense system. But more broadly, Saudi Arabia would find it hard to switch wholesale to other arms suppliers. The Royal Saudi Air Force depends on American and British support for its fleet of F-15 fighter jets, Apache helicopters and Tornado aircraft, Mr. Riedel pointed out. Its army is likewise dependent on Western parts and support.

But Mr. Trump’s focus on the bottom line sends an unmistakable message. “The president, through his reluctance to scuttle the arms deal, is telegraphing to authoritarian regimes that they can buy a pass on repressive, brutal measures without incurring consequences from the United States,” said David J. Kramer, an assistant secretary of state for human rights under President George W. Bush and now a senior fellow at Florida International University.

Elisa Massimino, former president of Human Rights First, an advocacy group, said that every president had to navigate complex relationships with allies, balancing sometimes competing interests, but that Mr. Trump did not understand the power that came from being clear about values.

“His short-term, transactional approach not only undermines those working for democratic change in their own countries, but robs the United States of key leverage on strategic interests across the board,” she said.

Other presidents have continued arms sales to countries with loathsome human rights records and, in moments like this one, tried to find ways around cutting off such transactions. After Egypt’s military overthrew its elected president in 2013, Mr. Obama skirted a law requiring the halt of military aid to countries that experience a coup by refusing to declare whether the situation in Cairo amounted to one.

He ultimately ordered a modest and temporary suspension of some military aid, delaying delivery of F-16 aircraft, Harpoon missiles and M1A1 Abrams tanks, and then resumed them 17 months later.

But Mr. Trump’s predecessors justified their decisions to keep arms flowing to wayward allies by warning of the national security implications of cutting them off — not by focusing on the financial well-being of defense contractors. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are both important partners of the United States in regional issues, particularly the fight against terrorism.

“What Trump is doing here is not claiming that American national security should weigh more heavily than our human rights commitments — an argument many Americans would accept,” said Tamara Cofman Wittes, a State Department official under Mr. Obama who is now at Brookings. “Instead, he is claiming that commercial transactions with private American weapons manufacturers should weigh more heavily than our human rights commitments, because the spending produces jobs.”

Follow Peter Baker on Twitter: @peterbakernyt.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world...m-line-proudly-wins-out/ar-BBOobR4?ocid=ientp
 

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Interesting speculation on disappearance of Senior Saudi Journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, from Saudi embassy in Turkey.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/10/14/did-saudis-cia-fear-khashoggi-9-11-bombshell.html





Finian CUNNINGHAM | 14.10.2018 | WORLD / Middle East | FEATURED STORY
Did Saudis, CIA Fear Khashoggi 9/11 Bombshell?

The macabre case of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi raises the question: did Saudi rulers fear him revealing highly damaging information on their secret dealings? In particular, possible involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks on New York in 2001.
Even more intriguing are US media reports now emerging that American intelligence had snooped on and were aware of Saudi officials making plans to capture Khashoggi prior to his apparent disappearance at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. If the Americans knew the journalist’s life was in danger, why didn’t they tip him off to avoid his doom?
Jamal Khashoggi (59) had gone rogue, from the Saudi elite’s point of view. Formerly a senior editor in Saudi state media and an advisor to the royal court, he was imminently connected and versed in House of Saud affairs. As one commentator cryptically put it: “He knew where all the bodies were buried.”
For the past year, Khashoggi went into self-imposed exile, taking up residence in the US, where he began writing opinion columns for the Washington Post.
Khashoggi’s articles appeared to be taking on increasingly critical tone against the heir to the Saudi throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The 33-year-old Crown Prince, or MbS as he’s known, is de facto ruler of the oil-rich kingdom, in place of his aging father, King Salman.
While Western media and several leaders, such as Presidents Trump and Macron, have been indulging MbS as “a reformer”, Khashoggi was spoiling this Saudi public relations effort by criticizing the war in Yemen, the blockade on Qatar and the crackdown on Saudi critics back home.
However, what may have caused the Saudi royals more concern was what Khashoggi knew about darker, dirtier matters. And not just the Saudis, but American deep state actors as as well.
He was formerly a media aide to Prince Turki al Faisal, who is an eminence gris figure in Saudi intelligence, with its systematic relations to American and British counterparts. Prince Turki’s father, Faisal, was formerly the king of Saudi Arabia until his assassination in 1975 by a family rival. Faisal was a half-brother of the present king, Salman, and therefore Prince Turki is a cousin of the Crown Prince – albeit at 73 more than twice his age.
For nearly 23 years, from 1977 to 2001, Prince Turki was the director of the Mukhabarat, the Saudi state intelligence apparatus. He was instrumental in Saudi, American and British organization of the mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan to combat Soviet forces. Those militants in Afghanistan later evolved into the al Qaeda terror network, which has served as a cat’s paw in various US proxy wars across the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, including Russia’s backyard in the Caucasus.
Ten days before the 9/11 terror attacks on New York City, in which some 3,000 Americans died, Prince Turki retired from his post as head of Saudi intelligence. It was an abrupt departure, well before his tenure was due to expire.
There has previously been speculation in US media that this senior Saudi figure knew in advance that something major was going down on 9/11. At least 15 of the 19 Arabs who allegedly hijacked three commercial airplanes that day were Saudi nationals.
Prince Turki has subsequently been named in a 2002 lawsuit mounted by families of 9/11 victims. There is little suggestion he was wittingly involved in organizing the terror plot. Later public comments indicated that Prince Turki was horrified by the atrocity. But the question is: did he know of the impending incident, and did he alert US intelligence, which then did not take appropriate action to prevent it?
Jamal Khashoggi had long served as a trusted media advisor to Prince Turki, before the latter resigned from public office in 2007. Following 9/11, Turki was the Saudi ambassador to both the US and Britain.
A tentative idea here is that Khashoggi, in his close dealings with Prince Turki over the years, may have gleaned highly sensitive inside information on what actually happened on 9/11. Were the Arab hijackers mere patsies used by the American CIA to facilitate an event which has since been used by American military planners to launch a global “war on terror” as a cover for illegal wars overseas? There is a huge body of evidence that the 9/11 attacks were indeed a “false flag” event orchestrated by the US deep state as a pretext for its imperialist rampages.
The apparent abduction and murder last week of Jamal Khashoggi seems such an astoundingly desperate move by the Saudi rulers. More evidence is emerging from Turkish sources that the journalist was indeed lured to the consulate in Istanbul where he was killed by a 15-member hit squad. Reports are saying that the alleged assassination was ordered at the highest level of the Saudi royal court, which implicates Crown Prince MbS.
Why would the Saudi rulers order such a heinous act, which would inevitably lead to acute political problems, as we are seeing in the fallout from governments and media coverage around the world?
Over the past year, the House of Saud had been appealing to Khashoggi to return to Riyadh and resume his services as a media advisor to the royal court. He declined, fearing that something more sinister was afoot. When Khashoggi turned up in Istanbul to collect a divorce document from the Saudi consulate on September 28, it appears that the House of Saud decided to nab him. He was told to return to the consulate on October 2. On that same day, the 15-member group arrived from Riyadh on two private Gulfstream jets for the mission to kill him.
Official Saudi claims stretch credulity. They say Khashoggi left the consulate building unharmed by a backdoor, although they won’t provide CCTV images to prove that. The Turks say their own CCTV facilities monitoring the front and back of the Saudi consulate show that Khashoggi did not leave the premises. The Turks seem confident of their claim he was murdered inside the building, his remains dismembered and removed in diplomatic vehicles. The two private jets left the same day from Istanbul with the 15 Saudis onboard to return to Riyadh, via Cairo and Dubai.
To carry out such a reckless act, the Saudis must have been alarmed by Khashoggi’s critical commentaries appearing in the Washington Post. The columns appeared to be delivering more and more damaging insights into the regime under Crown Prince MbS.
The Washington Post this week is reporting that US intelligence sources knew from telecom intercepts that the Saudis were planning to abduct Khashoggi. That implicates the House of Saud in a dastardly premeditated act of murder.
But furthermore this same disclosure could also, unwittingly, implicate US intelligence. If the latter knew of a malicious intent towards Khashoggi, why didn’t US agents warn him about going to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul? Surely, he could have obtained the same personal documents from the Saudi embassy in Washington DC, a country where he was residing and would have been safer.
Jamal Khashoggi may have known too many dark secrets about US and Saudi intel collusion, primarily related to the 9/11 terror incidents. And with his increasing volubility as a critical journalist in a prominent American news outlet, it may have been time to silence him. The Saudis as hitmen, the American CIA as facilitators.
 

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Trump says any claim he has financial interests in Saudi Arabia would be 'FAKE NEWS' — although the nation is a huge customer at his D.C. hotel

  • In a tweet Trump insisted that he has 'no financial interests in Saudi Arabia' and suggestions to the contrary are 'FAKE NEWS'
  • But the kingdom has spent more than $270,000 at Trump's hotel in Washington; the crown prince stayed there when he visited Trump at the White House
  • Saudi government frequents a hotel of the same name that's owned by the president in New York
  • 'They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much,' Trump once said
  • Under pressure, Trump said Monday that he had spoken to Saudi King Salman, about missing Washington Post columnist Jamal Khasoggi's disappearance
  • Saudi-born journalist living in Virginia went to Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October and has not been seen since
  • Turkish officials say they have proff that he has was murdered by a Saudi squad
  • Saudis deny allegations and have ordered internal investigation into mystery
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ncial-Saudi-Arabia-nation-customer-hotel.html
 

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'I'm going to sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia!' Lindsey Graham says crown prince 'has got to go' following kidnap-murder of journalist

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham, frequent defender of Saudi Arabia, turned on the country
  • He slammed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a 'toxic' figure
  • 'This guy has got to go,' he said
  • Graham, in what could be advice to President Donald Trump, said he would 'sanction the hell' out of Saudi Arabia
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is alleged to have ordered the interrogation and killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...e-got-following-kidnap-murder-journalist.html
 

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Syrian War Report – October 15, 2018: Army Kicks Off Another Attempt To Eliminate ISIS In Al-Safa
South Front


Published on Oct 15, 2018
 

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Syrian War Report – Oct. 16, 2018: Idlib Demilitarization Zone Agreement Reaches Its First Deadline
South Front


Published on Oct 16, 2018
 

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Deadline passes for Syria's Idlib buffer without fighters leaving | Al Jazeera English
Al Jazeera English


Published on Oct 15, 2018
A deadline passed on Monday without fighters leaving a planned buffer zone around Syria's last major rebel bastion, Idlib, as set out under a Russian-Turkish deal.
The armed groups were supposed to withdraw from the buffer as a final condition to implementing a Russian-Turkish agreement to stave off a Syrian government offensive on the northwestern region.
Just hours before the deadline expired, Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, the largest group of fighters required to move by the deal, indicated that they would comply.
Although the deadline has expired, Russia said it would accept a brief delay; Syria's main powerbrokers seem committed to keeping the deal alive.
Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports from neighbouring Lebanon.

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Revealed: US mercenaries were hired as 'murder squads' to assassinate high-profile politicians and clerics in the Middle East

  • The UAE hired Spear Operations Group to carry out a string of assassinations
  • Company's founder said there was a targeted assassination program in Yemen
  • A team was paid to carry out a hit on Anssaf Ali Mayo on December 29, 2015
  • On the team was two former Navy SEALs, including a veteran of SEAL Team 6
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...assinate-politicians-clerics-Middle-East.html
 

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The Arabian Game Of Thrones Heats Up


by Tyler Durden
Wed, 10/17/2018 - 03:30

Authored by Wayne Madsen via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The reported torture, murder, and dismemberment of Washington-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate-general in Istanbul reminded the world that an intense power play is now taking place within the monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula and between them.

In November 2017, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) ordered the arrest and detention at the Riyadh Ritz Carlton Hotel of over 200 members of the Saudi royal family, including eleven rival princes, as well as government ministers and influential businessmen. That came after an October 2017 meeting in Riyadh between MBS and Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, conclave that lasted well into the early morning hours. At the meeting, Kushner is said to have turned over to MBS a list of the names of the Crown Prince’s opponents: leading figures of the Saudi royal house, government, and major businesses.



The list may have also contained the name "Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi."

The list of Saudi names was, reportedly, compiled by Kushner from top secret special code word documents he had specifically requested from the National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency. The documents were specifically requested by Kushner, not because he was an expert in communications intercepts, but because he likely had a control officer who told him what files to obtain. The Kushner family have longstanding ties to the Israeli Likud Party, as well as the Mossad intelligence service. The Mossad enjoys a close working relationship with the Saudi General Intelligence Directorate, which is now firmly committed to MBS after a previous purge of its upper ranks following MBS’s rise to the heir apparent position in the House of Saud.

Those on the list handed over to MBS by Kushner were all subjects of NSA and CIA communications intercepts of phone calls, video conferences, and emails. Kushner is said to have had a phone conversation with MBS a day before Khashoggi was murdered.

Reports from U.S. intelligence sources report that the NSA had intercepted high-level communications between the Saudi government in Riyadh and the Saudi consulate-general in Istanbul indicating that there was a plot afoot to either kidnap Khashoggi and fly him back to Riyadh or murder him on the spot. Kidnapping and detention is definitely part of MBS’s playbook as seen with his kidnapping and detention in Riyadh on November 3, 2017 of arriving Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. No sooner had Hariri’s plane touched down in Riyadh, was his cell phone confiscated by the Saudis and he was detained. Hariri was forced to resign in a forced statement read by him on a Saudi television network. MBS was hoping to replace Hariri with his older estranged brother, Bahaa Hariri, someone that MBS had in his pocket.

MBS had bragged to close advisers that he also had Jared Kushner “in his pocket.” Lebanese President Michel Aoun demanded Hariri’s immediate release by the Saudi regime and his return to Beirut. Just as Riyadh denied it had murdered Khashoggi, it refused to admit that it was holding Hariri against his will. MBS ordered Hariri flown to Abu Dhabi to meet with MBS’s on-and-off-again ally, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ), the heir apparent to the presidency of the United Arab Emirates. At the age of 57, MBZ is not as brash as the young and impetuous MBS. This has been witnessed by MBZ’s willingness to work with Jordanian King Abdullah II to seek an accommodation with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. MBS is reportedly furious with MBZ and Abdullah, the latter a member of the Hashemite family, who were ejected from their rule over Mecca and Medina by the British and Sauds, following World War I. Ever since the Hashemites’ loss of the Hejaz region of Arabia to the radical Wahhabist Sauds, there has been bad blood between Riyadh and Amman.

MBS is also upset over MBZ’s support for rival claimants to power in South Yemen. MBS is supporting the rump Yemeni government, much of it in exile in Saudi Arabia, against the Iranian-supported Houthi government ruling from Sana’a in north Yemen in a bloody and genocidal war being orchestrated by Riyadh, with the support of the Trump adminstration and the Israeli regime.

The UAE has been supporting the Southern Transition Council (STC), which strives for South Yemen’s reversion to an independent state, a status it enjoyed before a forced merger with north Yemen in 1990. Caught in the middle are forces loyal to Sheikh Abdullah bin Issa al Aafrar, the Sultan of the Mahra State, which was disestablished when South Yemen achieved independence in 1967. The Mahra Sultan, who is living in the neighboring Sultanate of Oman, under Sultan Qabus bin Said’s protection, is also in the gun sights of MBS, who does not want any competition for Saudi control of all of Yemen.

Oman is reportedly backing the Al-Mahra and Socotra People's General Council, which is composed of the Mahra Sultan and Mahri tribal elders. This rival governing authority wants to be free of any control by the Saudi, Emirati, Houthi, and the pro-Saudi Yemen government. Through the offices of Oman’s mission to the United Nations, the General Council has been in direct contact with the UN Security Council. The STC also includes members of the tribes and royal families of other former states of the British colonial era Federation of Arab Emirates of the South and Protectorate of South Arabia. These include the Kathiri State, Sultanate of Lahej, the Qu’aiti State of Hadhramaut, and the Emirates of Dhala and Beihan.

MBS is known to be angling to select the successor to Qabus, who has no children and has been a thorn in Riyadh’s side. Under Qabus, Oman has been friendly to Iran and the Assad government in Syria, as well as Qatar, where the 36-year old Emir, Tamim bin Hamad, has infuriated MBS by maintaining relations with Iran. In 2013, Tamim’s father, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, formally abdicated the throne in favor of his son. However, it is well known that Hamad still pulls the strings in Doha. In 1995, Hamad deposed his father, Khalifa BIN Hamad al Thani, who was undergoing medical treatment in Geneva. In 1972, Khalifa ousted his cousin, Ahmad, while he was on a hunting trip in Iran. Ahmad settled in Dubai, where he married the daughter of the Emir of Dubai. MBS and MBZ are anxious to prop up a rival to the current Qatari emir from the ranks of potential claimants to the throne in Doha, including two rival al-Thani clan members who the Saudis have claimed have rightful claims to the Qatari throne - Abdulla bin Ali Al Thani and Sultan bin Suhaim Al Thani.

MBS, along with all the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, have instituted a punishing economic and diplomatic embargo on Qatar. There is some speculation in the Middle East that MBS is quietly backing to succeed Qabus, Taimur bin Assad, the 37-year old son of Qabus’s cousin, Said Assad bin Tariq. As the deputy prime minister for international cooperation, Said Assad bin Tariq was designated as the official heir to the ailing Qabus.

In this Arabian “Game of Thrones,” MBZ may have his own favorites among other claimants to the sultan’s throne in Muscat. These include Said Assad bin Tariq’s half-brothers, Haitham bin Tariq, currently the culture minister, and Shihab bin Tariq, a former commander of the Omani navy. MBZ is reportedly running a network of spies within the Omani royal court to influence the succession to Qabus. There is another, non-Arabian prince, who could also have a great deal of influence in the Omani royal succession. He is the Prince of Wales, Charles, the future King of England, who has been a longtime friend and confidante of Sultan Qabus.

Oman and Qatar have their own agents of influence within the royal families of the seven emirates that make up the UAE. In July, Sheikh Rashid bin Hamad al-Sharqi, the second-in-line for the throne in Fujairah, the UAE emirate that borders Oman, turned up in Qatar to ask for asylum. He said that MBZ’s government was using extortion to eke out transfers of large sums of cash by Emirati royal families to unknown parties around the world, including those in Ukraine, India, Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Syria. The UAE, along with the Saudis, are major financial supporters of jihadist elements around the world. Sheikh Rashid has also provided Qatari intelligence with details of discontent among the emirates of the dictatorial policies of MBZ in Abu Dhabi. The other emirs are also critical of the UAE’s involvement in the genocidal civil war in Yemen, one in which troops from Fujairah, Umm al Quwain, Ajman, Sharjah, and Ras al Khaimah, are used for cannon fodder, while those from the wealthier Abu Dhabi and Dubai avoid frontline combat.

Recently, the Saudis have pressured their puppet king in Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, to fire his uncle, Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa. Prince Khalifa is the world’s longest-serving prime minister. However, he has apparently irritated MBS with his work to protect the rights of foreign workers, including those from the Philippines and south Asia, in Bahrain and the wider Gulf region.

MBS and Kushner are known to view Iran as the chief threat to peace in the Middle East. MBZ shares in their view of Iran, something that is, apparently, not shared by the emirates of the northern Gulf region, including Fujairah. From their actions, MBS and MBZ are, along with their Israeli and American allies, the major threat to peace in the region. The assassination of a journalist resident in the United States in a third country, Turkey, and the kidnapping and house arrest of a sitting prime minister of another nation is unprecedented behavior in the Middle East. The Saudis are only matched by Israel in their total disregard for international norms of behavior in the Middle Eastern region as they and their cohorts engage in their bloody “Game of Thrones.”

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-10-16/arabian-game-thrones-heats
 

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Trump casts doubt on audio of Jamal Khashoggi's last known minutes, saying he will ask for it 'if it exists,' and refuses to say if FBI will aid in a murder probe

  • Trump cast new doubt on claims that an audio tape of Jamal Khashoggi's death exists on Wednesday, telling reporters that he hasn't heard it if it does
  • Said he'd be asking his secretary of state about it when he returns from Turkey
  • Mike Pompeo refused to comment on the reported existence of the tape as he spoke to reporters, admitting only that Khashoggi was clearly missing
  • Trump had not moved on the topic on Wednesday after saying a day prior that he'd spoken to Saudi crown prince
  • Says Mohammed bin Salman 'totally denied' knowledge of the disappearance
  • 'Here we go again with you're... guilty until proven innocent,' Trump told the Associated Press, adding: 'We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh'
  • Call followed a meeting between Mike Pompeo and the Saudi leader in Riyadh
  • A report on Tuesday said that Khashoggi was tortured and dismembered alive over a seven-minute period by a squad of Saudi assassins
  • The audio reportedly exists but it apparently hasn't been obtained by the U.S.
  • Trump has urged senators not to act hastily, because of an arms deal he says would cost American companies money and workers jobs
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...amal-Khashoggis-murder-saying-ask-exists.html
 

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Syrian War Report – October 17, 2018: Terrorists Move From Syria And Iraq To EU Via Ukraine
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Published on Oct 17, 2018
 

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Israel’s Bennett to VOA: We Won’t Let Iran Build Stronghold in Syria
VOA News


Published on Oct 17, 2018
A senior Israeli minister says Israel will keep fighting to oust Iranian forces from Syria, even after Russia delivered an advanced air defense system to the country earlier this month. Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett discussed Israel’s strategy toward Iran in an exclusive October 8 interview with VOA Persian in Tel Aviv.
Originally published at - https://www.voanews.com/a/israel-s-be...
 

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Israel’s Bennett to VOA: We Won’t Let Iran Build Stronghold in Syria
VOA News


Published on Oct 17, 2018
A senior Israeli minister says Israel will keep fighting to oust Iranian forces from Syria, even after Russia delivered an advanced air defense system to the country earlier this month. Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett discussed Israel’s strategy toward Iran in an exclusive October 8 interview with VOA Persian in Tel Aviv.
Originally published at - https://www.voanews.com/a/israel-s-be...
Good stuff.
 

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'Arab governments have been given free rein to silence the media': Jamal Khashoggi called for free press in Middle East and for repressive governments to be held accountable in final column he wrote before he was ‘murdered’ in Saudi consulate

  • Khashoggi's translator filed the piece with his editor day after he disappeared
  • Journalist was last seen entering Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2
  • He never emerged and there is strong suspicion he was murdered inside
  • Washington Post editors held back the column in hopes to edit it with him
  • Now editor says she has to accept he will not return, and publishes his last piece
  • Comes as Turkey conducts intensive eight-hour sweep of Saudi consulate
  • Saudi consul general to Turkey flees Istanbul and returns home to Riyadh
  • Pompeo completes meetings with Saudi crown prince and Turkish president
  • Trump and Pompeo both express reluctance to blame Saudi Arabia for slay
  • Circumstantial evidence mounts tying Prince Mohammed to presumed murder
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...inal-column-calls-free-press-Middle-East.html
 

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Jamal Khashoggi - Psychopaths Protecting Psychopaths - The David Icke Dot-Connector Videocast
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Published on Oct 18, 2018
 

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ISIS have taken 700 hostages – including US and European citizens – after raiding Syrian refugee camp and begun executing 'ten prisoners a day', says Putin

  • ISIS militants attacked a refugee camp in Syria and kidnapped hundreds
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said ISIS have made unspecified demands
  • Putin said they're threatening to kill ten every day unless demands are met
  • He added that executions of innocent families had already begun
  • The refugee camp is located in an area controlled by U.S.-backed forces
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...pean-citizens-raiding-Syria-refugee-camp.html
 

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Possible Saudi Fall Guy For Jamal Khashoggi Also Trump Camp Middle Man | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC
MSNBC


Published on Oct 17, 2018
Rachel Maddow points out reporting by David Ignatius that Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, the deputy chief of Saudi intelligence, may be a possible scapegoat for the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, and notes that al-Assiri was also the point of contact in Saudi Arabia's offers of help to the Trump campaign, currently part of Robert Mueller's investigation.
» Subscribe to MSNBC: http://on.msnbc.com/SubscribeTomsnbc
 

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Syrian War Report – October 18, 2018: Israel Is Preparing To Challenge S-300 In Syria
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Published on Oct 18, 2018
 

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With Few Buyers, Iranian Oil Armada Heads to China Ahead of U.S. Sanctions
October 18, 2018 by Reuters


Photo: E.G.Pors / Shutterstock



By Florence Tan and Chen Aizhu SINGAPORE/BEIJING, Oct 18 (Reuters) – An unprecedented volume of Iranian crude oil is set to arrive at China’s northeast Dalian port this month and in early November before U.S. sanctions on Iran take effect, data on Refinitiv Eikon showed on Thursday.

A total of 22 million barrels of Iranian crude oil loaded on supertankers owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co (NITC) are headed for Dalian, the data showed. Dalian typically receives between 1 million and 3 million barrels of Iranian oil each month, according to the data that dates back to January 2015.

Iran, the third-largest producer in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), is finding fewer takers for its crude ahead of U.S. sanctions on its oil exports that will take effect on Nov. 4.

The Islamic country previously stored oil at Dalian during the last round of sanctions in 2014 that was later sold to buyers in South Korea and India. Some of the biggest refineries and commercial oil storage facilities in China are located in Dalian.

One of 11 Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) – Dune – discharged oil into a bonded storage tank at the Xingang section of the Dalian port on Oct. 8, Reuters reported last week, while a second VLCC Dino I switched off its transponder on Oct. 13 near the port.

Dino I reappeared earlier this week near Taiwan and has discharged its cargo onboard.

The Xingang area is home to several tank farms including commercial and strategic reserves. China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and Dalian Port PDA Co Ltd both operate commercial storage in the area, according to information on the companies’ websites.

CNPC is not expecting any Iranian oil to arrive at Dalian, a source familiar with the matter said, adding that buyers are unlikely to lift Iranian oil from bonded tanks in Dalian due to the U.S. sanctions.

Keeping oil in bonded storage gives the cargo’s owner the option of selling the oil into China or to other buyers in the region.

NITC tankers have now switched off their tracking devices when loading or discharging oil to evade U.S. authorities as the United States will re-impose sanctions on Iran in early November, according to Refinitiv Eikon shipping data.

Three of the tankers, set to arrive in China in November, are heading to Changxing Island, the data showed.

Reuters reached out to NITC for comment but officials were not immediately available as it is a weekend in Iran. An official with the media department at the Dalian port could not immediately comment.

Below are the VLCCs carrying Iranian crude, heading to China’s Dalian port (VLCC, Loading Date – Discharge Date):

  • Dune, Sept. 12 – Oct. 6
  • Dino I, Sept. 10 – Oct. 9
  • Sea Cliff, Sept. 9 – Oct. 18
  • Dore, Sept. 20 – Oct. 19
  • Happiness I, Sept. 1 – Oct. 19
  • Halti, Sept. 6 – Oct. 25
  • Serena, Oct. 6 – Oct. 29
  • Hero II, Oct. 8 – Nov. 1
  • Derya, Oct. 10 – Nov. 2
  • Devon, Oct. 9 – Nov. 4
  • Deep Sea, Oct. 15 – Nov. 9

Source: Refinitiv Eikon

(Reporting by Florence Tan in SINGAPORE, Meng Meng and Chen Aizhu in BEIJING Editing by Manolo Serapio Jr.)

https://gcaptain.com/with-few-buyers-iranian-oil-armada-heads-to-china-ahead-of-u-s-sanctions/
 

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Trump and Jamal Khashoggi— Saudi Arabia Has Been Bribing the US with Arms Sales for Years

Posted on October 18, 2018 by Yves Smith

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Yves here. The uproar over the almost certain execution of Jamal Khashoggi is so disproportionate to the event that it’s become a proxy for something else in terms of the US-Saudi relationship. The post by Vijay Prashad makes the argument that Khashoggi went too far in defending his allies in the royal family who were opposed to Mohammed bin Salman, which led to his presumed execution, and that the US won’t do much about it due to the importance of the arms sales. While this is probably part of the equation, the US also has important air bases in Saudi Arabia.

The US recognized that it was at risk of having the kingdom become unstable regardless of whatever the path of succession was after King Salman, who was well liked internally, decided to cede power. But Salman’s choice of MbS was contrary to tradition and expectations (57 year old Prince Mohammed bin Nayef would have been the new ruler under the usual protocol), setting factions in the royal family even more against each other. And MbS has consolidated power in an extremely heavy-handed way, by using corruption charges to arrest rivals and their allies and stripping them of assets. As Wikipedia noted:

The arrests resulted in the final sidelining of the faction of the late King Abdullah and MbS’s complete consolidation of control of all three branches of the security forces, making him the most powerful man in Saudi Arabia since his grandfather, the first King, Ibn Saud.​

There are likely members of the US military apparatus who are sympathizers with the losers in the royal family power struggle But if what Wikipedia says is correct, MbS looks to have consolidated his position quickly and with a ruthless show of force.

It’s puzzling to see the press up in arms about Khashoggi, given that the US has been joined at the hip with the thuggish Saudis for decades. Informed reader input welcomed.

By Vijay Prashad, a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute, chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is also the author of Red Star Over the Third World (LeftWord, 2017) and The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016), among other books. Originally produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute

By now, few doubt that Jamal Khashoggi is dead. It is most likely that the Saudi journalist—who once advised kings and billionaires—was killed by an interrogation team sent from Saudi Arabia to meet him in Turkey. If this was the case, then it is impossible for the hit on Khashoggi to have taken place without a green light from the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman (affectionately known as MBS). The Saudi royal palace would have signed Khashoggi’s death warrant because he had turned on the kingdom he otherwise loyally served. Nothing in Jamal Khashoggi’s career suggested that he would become a dissident. But, MBS had consolidated power against the fragile balance within the royal family and he had arrested and humiliated Khashoggi’s friends, including Al Waleed bin Talal of Twitter and Goldman Sachs. Khashoggi’s dissent was the complaint of one fraction of the ruling elite against another. If he were an unknown Saudi blogger sitting in Virginia, fulminating for a miniscule readership, he would have been left alone. That he represented powerful interests inside the kingdom made it impossible for him to survive.

Saudi Arabia is in the midst of an internal review of the death of Khashoggi. Whispers from inside the kingdom suggest that the final report will say that this was a “rogue” operation, a word introduced into this incident by U.S. President Donald Trump. Trump, who has bet a great deal on Saudi Arabia, has been caught flatfooted. He did not want this scandal. He thought that disavowing Khashoggi—because he was a permanent resident of the U.S. rather than a U.S. citizen—would make the case disappear. But it has not, largely because Khashoggi has close friends in Washington, D.C. (including colleagues at the Washington Post), because he is so well-connected inside Saudi Arabia, and because the Turkish government—which is in a long-term tussle with Saudi Arabia—will not let the matter drop. Even a substantial bribe from Saudi Arabia was rebuffed by Turkey. This news is not going anywhere.

Guns from Washington
Pressure came upon Trump to at least block U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia. But, Trump is a pragmatic man. He knows that this would do two things he cannot afford—it would show that the U.S. does not stand by its allies, who might then seek allies elsewhere, and it would jeopardize the massive arms deals that the U.S. arms manufacturers have signed with the Saudis. Buying arms from the United States has come into use in Saudi Arabia’s insane war against Yemen, but more than that it has always been an insurance policy, a way to recycle Saudi petrodollars into the U.S. exchequer through arms deals. Not many U.S. politicians—who have arms manufacturers in each district—would be willing to throw Saudi Arabia overboard as long as it buys weapons systems that it mostly never used. Given this situation, Trump quite rightly ignored calls to stop the arms sales—“I actually think we’d be punishing ourselves if we did that.”

Why say that Trump was right to do what he did? It was not only because Trump wanted to maintain the U.S.-Saudi relationship. It was largely because Trump’s industrial strategy relies upon weapons sales around the world. And this is not merely Trump’s strategy. This has been the industrial strategy of the U.S. ever since manufacturing began to escape U.S. shores from the 1970s and ever since the USSR collapsed and Russian weapons manufacturing deteriorated (a situation remedied only recently). It is worth pointing out that the U.S. has been the world’s largest arms exporter for decades. It is also worth pointing out that U.S. arms exports have increased astronomically since 2008; it was arms manufacturing that was the fulcrum of the U.S. recovery from the credit crisis. Twenty percent of U.S. arms sales go to Saudi Arabia, whose appetite for U.S. weapons has increased by 448 percent from 2008-12 to 2013-17. This monstrous relationship that deposits Saudi petrodollars into the U.S. in exchange for weapons benefits the U.S. financial markets and the arms manufacturers—two key fractions of U.S. capital.

In previous decades, the Saudis warehoused the arms, watching them rot and then be replaced with new arms. They were not buying arms as much as using the oil profits to underwrite the U.S. financial and arms industries. This was a Saudi bribe, an insurance policy, to the U.S. political class. It ensured that Saudi Arabia was a key ally of the U.S., and it bought the friendship of the U.S. politicians who made sure to shut down any conversation about human rights abuses inside Saudi Arabia—and the very fact that it is a monarchy. U.S. presidents often talk of Saudi Arabia as an ally in the promotion of democracy, a witheringly bizarre tone that runs from liberal Democrats to arch-conservative Republicans.

Trump has been ferocious in his arms dealings. In the first half of 2018, the U.S. sold as many weapons as it did in all of 2017. This will be a record year. It is fated to continue in this vein. Arms will flow not only to Saudi Arabia, but to other Arab states, parts of the world that need to dry out from war rather than be put in the position where the gun becomes the solution to any problem.

Saudi Arabia’s Vietnam
Now, Saudi Arabia is using the arms sold to it by the U.S. and the UK in its barbarous war against the people of Yemen. Last year, Khashoggi made it clear that “when Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen erupted in March 2015, there was widespread Saudi popular support for it—including by me.” Khashoggi believed that Saudi Arabia must go to war to beat back an Iranian threat—an illusionary story that the Saudis had been flogging since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Two years into the war, Khashoggi said that the humanitarian crisis in Yemen—entirely the fault of Saudi Arabia—had “badly damaged” the kingdom’s reputation, and it had weakened Saudi Arabia’s credibility. Khashoggi called upon MBS to recognize all factions in Yemen as legitimate and to get serious about peace. This advice fell on deaf ears. The deafness of the palace annoyed people like Khashoggi, many of whom had full sympathy for the goals of the Saudi campaign but saw it poorly executed.

There is a full-blown humanitarian crisis in Yemen. That is true. But there has also been quite fierce military resistance to the Saudi and UAE war against Yemen. Plucky Yemeni forces from many factions have not permitted the Saudis to feel safe for a major land invasion. They have been restricted—since 2015—to an aerial bombardment of Yemen, a destruction of its infrastructure that includes its crucial ports. Anyone who looks at the Saudi war in Yemen is quickly disgusted by its brutality, but they should also see the resistance of the Yemenis that has prevented the much-wanted Saudi victory.

But the Saudi war on Yemen has slipped off the radar. It was Khashoggi’s disappearance that captured the imagination—a macabre story of a man that many journalists knew. During the wall-to-wall coverage about Khashoggi’s disappearance and now murder, Cyclone Luban struck Yemen’s Al Mahrah governorate. Relief workers in the area say that the cyclone was very destructive and the governor of the province, Rageh Bakrit, tweeted photographs of the high flood waters. The “disastrous” conditions, Bakrit said, “surpasses our humble capabilities.” He wants help, but help cannot easily get there. The Saudi war prevents assistance. This is the fifth cyclone to strike Yemen since the Saudi bombing began. The war continues; children continue to die (five killed a day since the Saudi bombing began in March 2015). Nothing is going to stop that. Not Khashoggi’s critical column nor his death. Nothing—as long as Saudi Arabia pays those billions of dollar in insurance payments in the guise of arms purchases

This entry was posted in Banana republic, Energy markets, Guest Post, Middle East, Politics on October 18, 2018 by Yves Smith.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/10/not-just-trump-saudi-arabia-bribing-us-arms-sales-years.html
 

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Syrian War Report – October 19, 2018: ISIS Captures 700 Hostages Including US, EU Citizens
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Published on Oct 19, 2018
 

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Murdered Saudi journalist was 'killed in a chokehold by team sent to drug and kidnap him then rolled up in a rug to dispose of - before one hitman dressed in his clothes to make it look like he'd left consulate'

  • Saudi Arabia is facing mounting scepticism over story about journalist's death
  • Now, a Saudi official has laid out a new version of how Jamal Khashoggi died
  • Saudi Arabia on Saturday said he died in a fistfight at the consulate in Istanbul
  • Turkish officials suspect Khashoggi was tortured and his body was later cut up
  • But official says it was rolled up in a rug and given to 'cooperator' to dispose of
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6299789/Murdered-Saudi-journalist-killed-chokehold.html
 

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'They're two young guys. Jared doesn't know him well or anything': Trump down plays son-in-law's friendship with Saudi crown prince

  • President Trump is said to be frustrated his son-in-law's close relationship with the crown prince has become a liability in the wake of Jamal Khashoggi's death
  • Trump is downplaying Jared Kushner's ties to Prince Mohammed bin Salman
  • 'They're two young guys. Jared doesn't know him well or anything. They are just two young people. They are the same age. They like each other,' he said
  • The prince and Kushner held their first White House meeting in March 2017; have met several times since then and are said to talk via WhatsApp
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ed-Kushers-friendship-Saudi-crown-prince.html
 

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Panel: Tehran’s Quds Force Key to Russian, Iranian Interests in Syria


By: John Grady
October 18, 2018 11:23 AM



The Iranian Quds Force organizes, equips and finances the 50,000 Shia militia in Syria that provides the ground troops for the Russian and Iranian effort to prop up the Bashar al Assad regime, a retired senior Israeli Defense Force general said on Wednesday.

Assaf Orion, a military fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said newly announced American determination to maintain a military presence in Syria until the Iranians leave is possibly overlooking the extent of Tehran’s deep roots in the seven-year-old civil war.

“Our acceptance of the rules of the game,” such as missile attacks on Israel from Syria and Lebanon or placement of roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan that killed hundreds of American soldiers and Marines, “is their success,” he added in a discussion at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C.

The Quds force has to be viewed as the operational arm of the Iranian Islamic Revolution that toppled the Shah in 1979, The Atlantic Council’s Nader Uskowi said. The revolution’s intent then and now was to “create an arc of influence” that runs from western Afghanistan to the Mediterranean. “Syria was the missing link,” he said.

“The Quds force is organized in a way to outlast the Iranian government,” which is about to be subjected to new American sanctions on its energy exports and banking, he said. Through its work over almost two decades, the Quds force has delivered the ideological revolution as well as caches of arms and military training to Shia extremists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon and has attracted forces from those countries as well as from the Persian Gulf states to join the struggle in Syria.


The United States is shifting away from supporting the Free Syrian Army in its fight in the southern part of the country against the Sunni extremists of al Qaeda and the remnants of the Islamic State to supplying Kurdish and others in the east.

The change in emphasis from seeing Syria as another counter-terrorism conflict for the United States will likely soon be tested by Russia and Iran, Jennifer Cafarella, director of intelligence planning at the Institute for the Study of War, said. The Iranian-backed militias are the ground forces tied to the Russian air and naval strikes to support Bashar al-Assad and his government in Damascus.

When asked whether Assad and the Russians would ever team to force the Iranians from Syria, she said, “they would have to be willing to use military force,” which is very unlikely. For the Iranians, it also creates a “second front” to use for attacks on Israel, Uskowi noted, citing rocket strikes launched from the Golan Heights.

The Iranians “are going to stay” in Syria and solidifying their positions in Iraq militarily and inside Baghdad’s government at the same time, Uskowi and others added.

The Russians “are learning and experimenting in the field” through joint and combined operations, he said. “Iran is always learning” and adapting to changed military and political events, he added. Turkey, a NATO ally but has been engaged with Russia and Iran in deconflicting air and ground operations, “has some problems” because “most of its senior general officers are in jail” following a failed 2016 coup.




As for the United States, its “military is so large” that it remains a power “with some very fast moving units” that can respond to rapidly changing circumstances but can be encumbered by its vast size.

“A military in contact either learns or loses,” Orion said.

But the “fundamental rot” of the Assad regime in Cafarella’s view, throws into question whether Damascus with the backing of the Russians and the Iranians can hold the territory that it has reclaimed from the Islamic State and al Qaeda and by defeating forces originally backed by the United States.

Already the Sunni extremists are showing signs of regaining strength that could scare off European and Japanese investors who earlier expressed an interest in reconstruction projects in Syria, she added.

Orion said, for all parties, including Israel, “this is a long war” that will continue.

https://news.usni.org/2018/10/18/panel-tehrans-quds-force-key-russian-iranian-interests-syria
 

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Syrian War Report – Oct.22, 2018: 87500 Terrorists Were Eliminated During Russian Operation In Syria
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Published on Oct 22, 2018
 

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Jared Kushner says he told his close friend the Saudi Crown Prince to 'be transparent, the world is watching' as he sidesteps questions on Khashoggi's death

  • At a CNN event, Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law who serves as a senior White House adviser, dodged questions on Saudi Arabia
  • He said the administration is a 'fact-finding phase' in determining how journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered
  • 'And then we'll determine which facts are credible,' he said
  • 'Once those facts come in, the Secretary of State will work with our national security team to help us determine what we want to believe,' he noted
  • He downplayed his role in the Middle East, saying he has 'one component'
  • Kushner said he advised Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to be 'fully transparent' as 'the world is watching'
  • 'We'll see,' he said when asked if the prince will heed his words
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ions-Saudi-prince-Jamal-Khashoggis-death.html
 

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Saudi arms deal will bring a MILLION jobs to the U.S. says Trump as he inflates benefits of sales in the teeth of mounting calls from his own senators to call it off

  • President Donald Trump has been upping the number of jobs he claims the Saudi purchase of American weapons will bring to the United States
  • His inflated figures come as some members of his own party are calling for a halt to the sales in the wake of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi
  • The U.S. has proposed an $110 billion sale of U.S. weapons to the Kingdom
  • When the deal was first announced, Trump said it would bring 40,000 jobs
  • On Monday the president said the deal would bring 1 million jobs to the U.S.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...s-U-S-says-Trump-inflates-benefits-sales.html
 

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Yes very disappointed in my RTN stock ever since this story came out.
 

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Khashoggi's body parts 'found': Writer's 'disfigured face is discovered in garden of Saudi consul general's home' - as Erdogan declares 'savage' murder WAS pre-planned

  • Jamal Khashoggi was killed after entering Saudi Arabia's embassy in Istanbul
  • Turkish President Erdogan said there was strong evidence killing was 'planned'
  • He said a team of Saudi officials had disabled CCTV in the consulate building
  • Erdogan said 'this is a political murder' and demanded to know 'who gave orders'
  • A report claims some of Khashoggi's remains have been found in the grounds of the Saudi consul general's home
  • But in his speech, Erdogan had earlier said a corpse had not yet been located
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...sulate-Turkeys-president-Erdogan-reveals.html
 

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Khashoggi killing: Donald Trump says Saudi crown prince could have been involved


The Guardian
Julian Borger in Washington and Bethan McKernan in Istanbul
37 mins ago

Donald Trump has said for the first time that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman could have been involved in the operation to kill dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, noting that “the prince is running things over there” in Riyadh.

The comments, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, appeared to mark a shift in the president’s view of Khashoggi’s murder on 2 October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. He has hitherto appeared to take Saudi royal denials of involvement at face value. But on a day the state department announced it would sanction Saudi officials implicated in the writer’s death, the president appeared to give the benefit of the doubt to King Salman but not necessarily to his powerful son.

Asked about the crown prince’s possible involvement, Trump said: “Well, the prince is running things over there more so at this stage. He’s running things and so if anybody were going to be, it would be him.”

Trump told the Wall Street Journal he had closely questioned Prince Mohammed about Khashoggi’s murder, posing questions repeatedly and “in a couple of different ways”.

“My first question to him was, ‘Did you know anything about it in terms of the initial planning’,” Trump said. Prince Mohammed replied that he didn’t, Trump said.

“I said, ‘Where did it start?’ And he said it started at lower levels.”

Asked if he believed the denials, the president paused for several seconds. “I want to believe them. I really want to believe them,” he said.

Twenty-one Saudis will have their US visas revoked or be made ineligible for US visas over the journalist’s killing, the state department announced, as the Trump administration struggled to regain the initiative amid the uproar over a murder that has thrown the US-Saudi alliance into question.

Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said other measures were being considered, including sanctions: “These penalties will not be the last word on the matter from the United States.

“We’re making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this kind of ruthless action to silence Mr Khashoggi, a journalist, through violence,” Pompeo said. “Neither the President nor I am happy with this situation.”

The secretary of state said the US would “continue to develop our understanding of the individuals that were responsible for this, who not only executed it but led and were involved and were connected to it”.

The visa revocations would be the first punitive measures taken by the administration against the Saudis since Khashoggi disappeared after entering the consulate on 2 October. However, under pressure from Congress, it is likely to extract a higher price from Riyadh for the brutal killing of Khashoggi, a US resident and columnist for the Washington Post who was a critic of the crown prince.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump spoke contemptuously about the murder plot: “They had a very bad original concept. It was carried out poorly and the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups.”

Later at a dinner with military leaders, he returned to theme of how the crime was performed: “They did a bad job of execution and they did a bad job of talking about it or covering it up.”

“I’m saying they should have never thought about it,” Trump added. “Once they thought about it, everything else they did was bad too … It should have never happened.”

Trump has put out mixed messages over recent days, vowing “very severe” consequences and mentioning possible economic sanctions, but also ruling out a block on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and highlighting the country’s role as a US ally against Iran and Islamist militants.

At the weekend, the US president said he thought that Saudi claims that Khashoggi had died in a “fistfight” were credible, and termed the announcement an “important first step”.

His comments on Tuesday came after the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, publicly tore down the Saudi version, making fresh allegations that Khashoggi’s “savage” murder was premeditated, and calling for an independent investigation.

Erdoğan had billed his keenly awaited address at the Turkish parliament in Ankara as the moment he would reveal the “naked truth” about what happened to Khashoggi. He said he was not satisfied with Riyadh’s suggestion that the killing was a rogue extradition operation gone wrong, and called for the “highest ranked” of those responsible to be brought to justice.

Contrary to expectations Erdoğan’s first update on the three-week-old case did not officially reveal the existence of audio and video evidence understood to be in Turkey’s possession.

Erdoğan did reveal that on the day before Khashoggi was killed, Saudi agents arrived in Istanbul and began to scout locations, including the Belgrad forest near Istanbul and the city of Yalova to its south. Police have subsequently searched both areas for Khashoggi’s remains.

The president did not name the powerful crown prince, the kingdom’s de facto ruler who, it is alleged, was probably aware of, and possibly even ordered, the silencing of his prominent critic, but observers were in little doubt as to whom his repeated mentions of “highest ranked” referred.

He otherwise spoke of the “sincerity” of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman in the investigation. The gaps in the speech suggested Erdoğan had more cards to play in the evolving diplomatic crisis.

Erdoğan’s speech came as the Saudi foreign ministry released extraordinary photos of Khashoggi’s son, Salah bin Jamal Khashoggi, meeting the crown prince and king in Riyadh on Tuesday.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world...ould-have-been-involved/ar-BBOP2cT?ocid=ientp
 

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Fly a remote controlled plane into a Saudi skyscraper and call it even, JMHO
 

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Israel's Defense Chief Says "No Choice But War" As Forces Build Along Gaza Border


by Tyler Durden
Tue, 10/23/2018 - 23:45


We reported over the weekend that Israel has mustered its largest build-up of tanks and armored personnel carriers since 2014 at a deployment area along the border with Gaza and that "all-out war" looks inevitable after weeks of heightened tensions with Hamas. This after special UN envoy for the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov late last week warned the UN Security Council that "we remain on the brink of another potentially devastating conflict."

It now appears Israel is ready to act, as on Monday Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israeli parliament that he's been left with "no choice" but to launch military action against Hamas militants. Last week rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip, with one landing dangerously near the densely populated city of Tel Aviv, and unrest along the border fence has continued largely unabated for months.


Palestinians protesting along the Gaza border fence. Via Reuters.

During his bellicose speech before lawmakers, Lieberman threatened invasion of Gaza: “Wars are only conducted when there is no choice, and now there is no choice,” the defense minister said. He indicated that anything less than the “toughest response” to Hamas is not being considered as Tel Aviv has “exhausted the other options.”

He said of protests which Israeli forces have somewhat routinely fired upon as Palestinians approach the fence and a security "no-go" zone: “There is no popular uprising,” and added, “There is violence organized by Hamas. Fifteen thousand people don’t come by foot to the border at their own will. They come by bus and are paid.”

Lieberman's accusation that Hamas pays large sums to protesters comes as international human rights groups have frequently decried Israel's lose of live ammo to stop protesters from approaching the fence, which have over the past six months resulted in dozens of Palestinian casualties.

The defense minister said further that Hamas “controls the levels of the flames,” but Israel can take deterrent and defensive measures, according to the Jerusalem Post. “I don’t believe in reaching an arrangement with Hamas,” he argued. “It hasn’t worked, doesn’t work and won’t work in the future.”


Israeli tanks staging at Gaza border, via Reuters

Last week tensions escalated further after Israel retaliated against Hamas rocket attacks on Wednesday by unleashing limited airstrikes on Gaza, which reportedly killed at least one Palestinian while injuring several more. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his security cabinet on the same day of the Gaza rocket launches and promised to take "very strong action" if such attacks continued.

It does indeed look like broader military action is coming as a Reuters photographer had by the close of last week documented some 60 Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers stationed along the Gaza-Israel border - with that number likely growing since - which Reuters noted is the largest reported mustering of forces since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018...no-choice-war-forces-muster-along-gaza-border
 

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Syrian War Report – October 24, 2018: US Troops Clash With Turkish-backed Militants Near Manbij
South Front


Published on Oct 24, 2018
 

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Iran's Rouhani: 'Saudi Wouldn't Have Killed Khashoggi Without US Approval'


by Tyler Durden
Wed, 10/24/2018 - 13:20


With roughly one week left before the US reimposes sanctions on Iranian exports that could hamper Iranian crude-oil exports, Hassan Rouhani, the president of the Islamic Republic, accused the US of officially sanctioning the murder of Saudi journalist-turned-critic Jamal Khashoggi, arguing that no country would carry out such a heinous crime "without the protection of America."

While the US probably won't bother to dignify Rouhani's allegations with a response, reports that US intelligence agencies had intercepted communications about the plot to ambush Khashoggi suggest that the US had an idea that Khashoggi might be killed upon returning to the consulate. And knowing this, they did nothing to warn Khashoggi or the Saudis, despite Khashoggi's status as a US resident writing for a prominent national newspaper.



According to Reuters, which cited a transcript from the official Iranian news agency, Rouhani said that such a brutal killing taking place at a foreign consulate was almost "unthinkable".

"No one would imagine that in today’s world and a new century that we would witness such an organized murder and a system would plan out such a heinous murder," Rouhani said, according to IRNA.​

"I don’t think that a country would dare commit such a crime without the protection of America."​
And as Rouhani pointed out, US protection has allowed KSA to continue its brutal bombing campaign in Yemen, while Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has engaged in an authoritarian crackdown on domestic dissent.

"If there was no American protection, would the people of Yemen still have faced the same brutal bombing?" Rouhani said.​
On a separate note, Rouhani declared that Iran would "defeat" US sanctions on Iranian exports.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018...dnt-have-killed-khashoggi-without-us-approval
 

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Saudis are not US friends, it’s a transactional relationship – John Kiriakou
RT


Published on Oct 24, 2018
READ MORE: https://on.rt.com/9h61

US-Saudi relationship is based entirely on money: they sell us oil, we sell them weapons and pretend we're friends choosing to overlook their fundamentalism, former CIA agent and whistleblower John Kiriakou told RT.
 

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Money over politics? Saudi arms deals maintained despite Khashoggi killing
RT


Published on Oct 25, 2018
The man who's faced accusations he was involved in the murder of the Saudi dissident journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, has made his first public comments on the issue. The country's Crown Prince claimed it was a crime with no justification.

Though Turkey insists the journalist was viciously murdered in a pre-planned operation, key European powers, except Germany, are refusing to cancel multibillion dollar arms sales to Saudi Arabia. READ MORE: https://on.rt.com/9h4l
 

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Saudi King 'will have Crown Prince REPLACED to restore the credibility of the monarchy' after his disastrous handling of the Khashoggi murder

  • Saudi Crown Prince is facing a battle to contain fallout over the Khashoggi killing
  • Journalist went missing after entering Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2
  • Donald Trump has said the kingdom's de facto ruler may be behind the death
  • Colonel Brian Lees, Britain's former defence attaché to Saudi Arabia, has said Saudi King Salman may look to replace his son to restore credibility of monarchy
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...rown-Prince-restore-credibility-monarchy.html
 

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Kings and Princes, funny stuff.