Jamal Khashoggi's Ghost Returns to Haunt Mohammed bin Salman

 


President Biden is expected to release the US intelligence report fingering Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman in the brutal killing and dismemberment of then Washington Post correspondent, Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi embassy in Istanbul in 2018.

The report, an unclassified summary of findings across the intelligence community produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), will be made public as early as next week, according to people familiar with the matter.

Plans for the release come as U.S.-Saudi relations have tumbled to a new low in recent weeks, with the administration canceling arms sales, criticizing human rights abuses and the harassment of dissidents, and pledging to “recalibrate” ties with the kingdom.

In what was widely seen as a snub, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that President Biden, who has not yet communicated directly with Saudi rulers, would not be speaking with the crown prince, known as MBS, the country’s de facto leader.

“The president’s counterpart is King Salman,” the crown prince’s aging father, she said, “and I expect that, in appropriate time, [Biden] would have a conversation with him.”

The release of the Khashoggi report may make that a fraught exchange. “I think it’s going to put Biden on the spot,” said David Ottaway, a longtime Saudi expert at the Wilson Center. “He’s going to have to define what his relationship is going to be with the leadership, and what steps he’s going to take in response.”

“There are so many things weighing on the relationship, and I feel it’s going further south,” Ottaway said.

Trump courted bin Salman's favour and let the Khashoggi murder fade into obscurity.

The Saudis effective ruler isn't the only regional leader feeling snubbed by Biden. Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu has also been given the cold shoulder to the point that it wasn't until yesterday that the new president made the obligatory call to his Israeli counterpart.

ISRAEL’S MEDIA and political class have been aflutter about the delay in contact between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Biden. During the first four weeks of the new U.S. administration, Mr. Biden spoke by phone with the leaders of virtually every major U.S. ally, along with those of Russia and China. But he did not call Mr. Netanyahu until Wednesday. Though the White House says the delay was “not an intentional diss,” Israelis weren’t buying it: “It is a clear sign of [Mr. Biden’s] displeasure,” said Dani Dayan, a Netanyahu opponent who served as Israeli consul general in New York.

Comments

  1. .. The spectre of Jared Kushner & his warm relations with the Saudis may surface. That the in-law scion of the Donald - Married to dear Ivanka.. both of whom were granted Top Secret Classified access suggests a possible pipeline. We should be under no illusions in North America.. Elected and appointed or annointed 'Public Servants' are well versed in backdoor channels, burner phones, backdoor email & clandestine 'cutouts' a la John le Carre

    On a different but related note.. How we manufacture multi millionaire MP's who without question are accessing Official 'insider information' is a complete scandal. To pretend a certain Prime Minister, or a certain Official Leader of the Opposition are not briefing caucus or Senior Ministers re impending legislations.. or sales of weaponry, or vaccine contracts is beyond ludicrous

    Oh but wait ! There's more ! Cabinet Confidence ! Redaction ! Classified !

    We're now in the era where pond scum like Jason Kenney with a Majority Government can incorporate a taxpayer funded 'war room' that is bullet proof from FOI requests, a secretive cabal, with ZERO accountability under the auspices of three Senior MLA Ministers as 'Directors'.. 30 MILLION per annum budget & NOTHING, no expenses, salaries, need ever be made public. NOTHING - No Thing - Nada

    Are Albertans now mere goats for the herding ?

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  2. Time and Climate change are catching up with the Oil Barons. Biden simply recognizes what is happening.

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    1. I think it's too early to tell how Biden will tackle foreign affairs, Owen. It's like a chess game and he's just moving his first pawn. The other side has its own pieces to play and we'll learn a lot about Biden from how he responds to their actions. The Middle East/South Asia region always has been wheels spinning within wheels and it has snared plenty of foreign meddlers.

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  3. Agreed that these minor cosmetic moves re Israel & the Saudis are good.
    But the real foreign policy slant of Blinken (a cold-warrior) has prevented a return to the Iran deal. Which is the low-hanging fruit available to Biden if he is serious about world peace.

    And now SCMP reports:
    "France sends warships to South China Sea
    The French navy said the Tonnere, an amphibious assault ship, and the frigate Surcouf would pass through the disputed waters twice
    Commander says the ships will work to strengthen France’s partnership with the four Quad nations"

    Four years of tRump produced domestic terror and REAL international nuclear angst, but tRump avoided starting one of the conventional wars (unlike all the other recent presidents) and seemed to be itching to use the nuclear arsenal.

    France has joined the Quad in provoking China with actions they were not prepared to do under tRump.

    Will we get another four years w/o war?

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    1. Your take on Trump, NPoV, begs the question of whether he did anything to stabilize the Middle East? He didn't start a war but he didn't end one either. Working through his proxy, Saudi Arabia, he also aided and abetted one of the worst humanitarian atrocities in the region.

      Trump didn't start a war in Asia but that's hardly to his credit. Those with real expertise in military affairs largely agree that war between China and the US is quite possible but it probably won't be at the instance of either side. It is more likely to be a war that neither side chooses to initiate but just stumbles into. That's pretty much the story of the outbreak of WWI. And then there's Thucydides Trap.

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  4. It was essential that Biden break with the Saudis who, under Trump, knew they had carte blanche to inflict a humanitarian disaster on the civilian population of Yemen. MBS played Trump like a pawn shop guitar.

    Sal, you speak to a general and perilously broad decline in governance. If left unchecked it will exact a terrible price on societies and democracy.

    Krugman touched on this in his column today when he discussed how shamelessly Texas politicians are blaming the left for their deep freeze fiasco.

    "But why do they think they can get away with such an obvious lie? The answer, surely, is that those peddling the lie know that they’re operating in a post-truth political landscape. When two-thirds of Republicans believe that Antifa was involved in the assault on the Capitol, selling the base a bogus narrative about the Texas electricity disaster is practically child’s play.

    "And if you’re expecting any change in the policies that helped cause this disaster, don’t count on it — at least as long as Texas remains Republican. Given everything else we’ve seen, the best bet is that demonization of wind power, not a realistic understanding of what actually happened, will rule policy going forward."

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  5. .. Years back I read of the demographic changes in Texas. The nut of it being it was no longer the State of the old white cowboy era thang. That Hispanics were proliferating, already many generations had changed it. And the Work Culture was shifting, hell, everything was shifting and evolving. What now ? Political World down there has frozen in time ? People still 'vote the Republican ticket' ?

    I enjoyed my single personal trip in Texas.. In my Mercury stepside and Honda XL Enduro strapped upright in the box plus a 2 X 12 ramp and both were Ontario plated. Fantastic road trip that included Dallas, Austin, Corpus Christi, New Orleans & parts between & enroute. I wrote up my true life adventure riding into a Texas arroyo with a rattlesnake at the bottom. The tale is only 5% bullshittery. We came to terms peaceful like.

    Why Texans can't figure out a useless twerp like Cruz & the Repub fluffer corps, baffles me. On my corporate photo shoots, I met unfailingly polite, vibrant people, generous, bright.. kinda like Albertans .. so what gives ? Where is 'discerning' - ie an alert citizenry intolerant of political animals that piss on their leg & tell them it's raining .. ??

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    1. I'm sure there are many fine, reasonable Texans, Sal. Unfortunately you have to take the measure of them by those they elect to high office to represent them. Guys like Louie Gohmert, Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Rick Perry, and Greg Abbott. That's a whole lot of weirdness and it reflects a dumbed down electorate that are predisposed to swallow anything.

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