Saudis working with al-Qaeda

The Saudi-backed coalition, which receives U.S. support, has been working alongside al-Qaeda militants as it fights the Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: Fighting al-Qaeda has been a primary goal of the U.S. military in Yemen, which faces what has been called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. But according to the AP, the military has looked the other way in some instances as deals were made with al-Qaeda fighters to clear out certain areas in the country.

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What’s happening
The U.S. is aligned with the the Saudi-backed coalition in eliminating fighters from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — “the most dangerous branch of the terror network that carried out the 9/11 attacks.”

At the same time, the coalition is fighting the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. Per the AP, AQAP is “effectively on the same side” as the coalition in their fight against the rebels, and by extension on the same side as the U.S.

Al-Qaeda militants have been paid off to evacuate certain areas that were being targeted by the coalition, the AP reports.

In one instance, al-Qaeda fighters left major port city Mukalla after being “guaranteed a safe route and allowed to keep weapons and cash looted from the city.”
Another deal allowed militants to leave six towns in the Abyan region; they were assured that the coalition and U.S. would “cease all bombings as AQAP pulled out with its weapons,” five tribal mediators involved in the negotiations told the AP.

via Report: Saudi coalition in Yemen working with al-Qaeda – Axios

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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Isn’t Indispensable – Bloomberg

Indeed, any rational examination of MBS’s policies might lead both Israel and the Trump administration to conclude that, far from being crucial to the containment of Iran, Prince Mohammed has undermined that effort. The war in Yemen and the blockade of Qatar, both his initiatives, have divided the Arab world, draining military and political resources, just when unity against the Iranian threat is most important. And the Khashoggi murder, as U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis pointed out in Manama last month, has undermined regional stability.

via Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Isn’t Indispensable – Bloomberg

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Saudis Call for Amazon Boycott Over Anger at Washington Post – Bloomberg

Saudis who are angry at The Washington Post’s coverage of the kingdom in the aftermath of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder are calling for a boycott of Amazon.com Inc. because of its shared ownership by U.S. billionaire Jeff Bezos.

“Boycott Amazon” was the top trending hashtag on Twitter in Saudi Arabia for several hours on Sunday, as users circulated images showing the deletion of the Amazon smartphone app. They also called for a boycott of regional subsidiary Souq.com, acquired by Amazon last year. Neither Amazon nor The Washington Post were immediately available for comment

via Saudis Call for Amazon Boycott Over Anger at Washington Post – Bloomberg

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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

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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

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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

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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

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