MbS Is the Next Saddam Hussein –

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is reportedly shocked over the backlash to his government’s killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. In a recent phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner, according to the Wall Street Journal, his confusion over official Washington’s furor “turned into rage,” as he spoke of feeling “betrayed by the West” and threatened to “look elsewhere” for foreign partners.

Saudi Arabia’s indignation at the United States would not be the first time an autocratic U.S. ally in the Middle East has assumed it could act with virtual impunity due to its alignment with Washington in countering Iran. Indeed, the Saudi prince’s meteoric rise to power bears striking similarities to that of a past U.S. ally-turned-nemesis whose brutality was initially overlooked by his Washington patrons: former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

via Mohammed bin Salman Is the Next Saddam Hussein – Foreign Policy

Trump, Populists and the Rise of Right-Wing Globalization

.. these zones would not be isolated but hyper-connected, nodes for the flow of finance and trade ruled not by democracy (which would cease to exist) but market power with disputes settled through private arbitration. No human rights would exist beyond the private rights codified in contract and policed through private security forces. As Mr. Hoppe argues, the alt-right and identitarian vision of “a place for every race” need not conflict with a global division of labor. None of this need disrupt commercial exchange and the international division of labor. As Mr. Hoppe wrote, “not even the most exclusive form of segregationism has anything to do with a rejection of free trade.” The maxim would be: separate but global.

via Opinion | Trump, Populists and the Rise of Right-Wing Globalization – The New York Times

U.S. and Britain Seek Yemen Cease-Fire

The push comes as relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States have cooled in the month since Mr. Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was killed in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate by a team of Saudi operatives. The operatives had close ties to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, architect of the Yemen war and a key Trump administration ally in isolating Iran.

On Wednesday, in Turkey’s first official account of what happened to Mr. Khashoggi inside the consulate, the Istanbul chief prosecutor said he had been immediately strangled and his body dismembered and destroyed.

Already troubled by the Yemen war and outraged over Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been calling on the Trump administration to penalize Saudi Arabia.

via U.S. and Britain Seek Yemen Cease-Fire as Relations With Saudis Cool – The New York Times

Investors Troubled by Saudi Shocks – Bloomberg

Investors stunned by Saudi Arabia’s unpredictable foreign policy under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are unlikely to drop their guard even if the kingdom succumbs to U.S. pressure to resolve its conflict with neighboring Qatar and end the war the Yemen.

While both issues shocked the investor community when they first erupted, they have since been eclipsed by aggressive policies at home and abroad. Last month, investors put the prince’s tactics under the spotlight after the killing of Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi at the consulate in Istanbul caused an international uproar, sending the kingdom’s credit risk rising by the most in the world.

via Mending Qatar Ties Won’t Calm Investors Troubled by Saudi Shocks – Bloomberg

CIA and Saudi Arabia Conspired To Keep 9/11 Details Secret, New Book Says

But Strada evinces even more disdain for the Saudis. Responding to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s August 20 message “wishing Muslims around the world a blessed Eid al-Adha,” she tweeted, “Seriously???”

Strada added, “The Saudis promote & finance the most virulent hatred toward Americans than any other nation. Murdered 3,000 on Sept 11.” The “9/11 families,” she wrote, “will #NEVERFORGET. #FreeTheTruth”

via CIA and Saudi Arabia Conspired To Keep 9/11 Details Secret, New Book Says

How did Saudi King Abdullah become a world hero? – Opinion – Jerusalem Post

Did Burmese maid Layla Bint Abdul Mutaleb Bassim share the “modern” vision of the king as she was dragged through the streets and then beheaded in public while being held by four soldiers on January 18 of this year? She plead for her life and declared her innocence. It is tradition in Saudi Arabia’s injustice system that executioners ask those they kill for forgiveness prior to beheading them. But the young Bassim shouted in the street, blindfolded and with her arms tied behind her back: “haram [forbidden], haram, haram, I did not kill, I do not forgive you, this is an injustice.” And then the sword of modernity, of progress, of “warm and genuine friendship,” fell on her neck – three times, as the executioner could not kill her in one stroke. The man who filmed the gruesome legal murder of Bassim was arrested.

via How did Saudi King Abdullah become a world hero? – Opinion – Jerusalem Post

Are humans alone in the Universe?

We are, according to this report, Dissolving the Fermi Paradox, published earlier this month.

It’s not surprising that we haven’t found anyone who is like us. Life on the surface of a planet is precarious – the constantly changing atmosphere has to stay within certain boundaries for us to survive. The magnetism that deflects most of the solar wind,which would otherwise strip away the ozone layer that protects Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation is always fluctuating. Then there’s the ever-constant threat of asteroids.

Anything that survives on the surface has to be adaptable and somewhat vicious. This suited humanity in the short run (the past 200,000 years, an eye-blink in universal time), but when our adaptability gives us the power to destroy the planet, it puts us at a tipping point; expand to other planets or die here.

Other surface dwellers may have reached this point, and may not have survived. Or, they could have evolved into something that’s so advanced, we can’t even comprehend their existence.

Like these guys –

Qatar sponsoring Extremist Preachers

According to the State Department, Qatar’s government provides preachers with guidance for Friday sermons, reviews content, and reserves the right to take judicial action against clerics who fail to adhere to such guidelines. Yet far from punishing or at least disavowing Muraikhi’s anti-Semitic rhetoric, Qatar’s government promoted his sermon both before and afterward, and broadcast it on official media.

Qatar’s government did the same when a preacher named Abdullah al-Naama delivered an extremist sermon at the Grand Mosque on July 21st, 2017.  In fact, Naama and Muraikhi have been the only preachers selected to deliver weekly Friday sermons at the Grand Mosque since that date. And Qatar should already have known such incitement was a distinct possibility, since both men have engaged in it before.

In Naama’s July 21st sermon, he warned Muslims that their “most dangerous enemies” are Muslim hypocrites, who he says are even “more dangerous to Islam than the Jews and the Christians.” Naama declared that Muslim hypocrites resort “to the Jews and the polytheists as a refuge” and that they “are among the ranks of the adversary, for where are they during [literally “from”] the defiling of the Holy Sanctuary?”, accusing Israel of desecrating the Temple Mount. 

Naama went on about such Muslim hypocrites, imploring “where are they during the siege of Gaza?  Where are they during the Holocausts of Muslims in several places?” He argues that “the great betrayal” by Muslim hypocrites is over Palestine, apparently suggesting that treating Israel with anything but overt hostility is a betrayal of Islam.  Naama, who has previously praised what he called Gaza’s “mujahideen,” concluded his sermon by beseeching all Muslims to accept it as their “great duty… to aid our brothers there, with one’s self, and money, and prayer, and extending the hand of support and aid with all of one’s strength and means.”

Qatar has also continued to host extremist preachers at the mosque that services the learning institutions on Qatar’s Education City campus, including satellite campuses for Cornell, Texas A&M, Virginia Commonwealth, Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern, and Georgetown Universities. In 2015 and 2016, several guest preachers propagated egregious incitement against non-Muslims during their sermons at the Education City Mosque.  And in June 2017, the Education City Mosque hosted a series of lectures by Mohammed Rateb al-Nabulsi, a preacher who has previously labeled all Jews as combatants and who advocates executing gay men.

via Qatari Backing for Extremist Preachers and Anti-Semitic Incitement | Anti-Defamation League

Qatar and ISIS

Newly resurfaced tweets have revealed that a Qatari government official publicly congratulated ISIS in 2014, days after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared an “Islamic Caliphate” from Iraq’s Mosul.

Hamad Lahhan Al-Mohannadi, Deputy Chairman of the Central Municipal Council in Qatar, and the former director of the supply management department of the Qatar Olympic Committee, wrote a Twitter post in which he described the militants as “revolutionaries.”

His 2014 tweet was a picture accompanied by the caption: “An image of the city of Mosul in Iraq before Iftar (a sunset meal in which Muslims break their fast in Ramadan) the rule of the revolutionaries of Iraq brought back to Mosul its luster and pulled it from the grips of Iran.”

via EXCLUSIVE: Qatari official congratulated ISIS for Mosul capture, tweets reveal – Al Arabiya English

Saudi Arabia is not an ally

… what kind of thinking and future does this young prince telegraph? Some observers speaking under condition of anonymity accuse MBS of extreme narcissism, which clouds his judgment. Coupled with the conviction that he is the savior of the Gulf Arabs and Islam, MBS is a prime candidate to cast himself as a millennial figure in time to come.

Actors with such mindsets believe they must destroy the world in order to save it. And the Trump White House will unfortunately only reinforce his mindset as a strongman who has America’s backing. Saddam Hussein of Iraq and other failed figures sold such fantasy self-images to their unwitting nations.

MBS also lacks moral insight. When asked in a recent interview with “60 Minutes” about his excessive lifestyle of expensive yachts, art and French mansion purchases, he retorted saying he was no Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi. He strives for no moral greatness which hollows out his claims as a reformer. In the same interview, MBS said his father inculcated in him a deep value of history.

If so, he might heed the wisdom of the fourteenth-century North African historian and statesman Ibn Khaldun. Treating people as “instruments” in order to subdue them through war, Ibn Khaldun wrote, is to degrade them. His hawkishness will make Saudis and Yemenis feel humiliated. He is sure to be met with resistance from a seething youth sector and a marginalized religious establishment in his country that are far from being defeated. And regional players will hatch plans to resist him, or worse: attempt to dethrone him.

One hopes U.S. policy-makers will ask MBS to visit the site of the World Trade Center while he is in New York City. The unprecedented terrorist attacks of 9/11 were not just perpetrated by Saudis; they occurred because the US was seen as enabling the reckless agenda of the royal family with total disregard for the political well-being of Saudis, and that of Muslim peoples in the region and around the world.

This perception has not vanished but has in fact metastasized. Given the strategic relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, all of MBS’s wrongdoings are heaped on the U.S. since he receives the tacit approval of the Trump White House. This means the U.S. still remains in danger emanating from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its homegrown political monsters.

With no foreign-policy adults in the White House—and an inexperienced and unconfirmed secretary of state in Mike Pompeo—one can expect little substantive foreign policy exchange during MBS’s visit. The only winners will be those who conclude back-room business deals with the extended Trump clan and their cronies and with the US arms industry.

MBS has come to stockpile his country against his self-created regional monsters and to invest the monies he recently confiscated from his country’s business elite—even as oil fortunes and futures dwindle. It is time for a sober assessment of whether Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally or a millstone around the U.S.’s neck.

via Mohammed bin Salman’s US visit is a shopping trip for war