A Saudi 'Night of the Long Knives'? Prince Salman's crackdown

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Monday 21 May 2018 - Transcript: Saudi's Khaled bin Farhan on reforms, crown princes and that purge (Transcript - Video)
Transcript: Saudi's Khaled bin Farhan on reforms, crown princes and that purge

Prince Khaled bin Farhan, an exiled member of the Saudi royal family, speaks to Middle East Eye about his fears for the kingdom's future.

After the purge: 'There is a climate of fear'


Middle East Eye (MEE): How much anger is there in the royal family at the way the princes have been treated by Mohammed bin Salman ?

Prince Khaled bin Farhan (KbF): It was a shock for the entire family because prominent figures in the family were detained in a way that held a great deal of humiliation. It was a shock for the entire family. The family is now facing the undermining of its standing in the eyes of the people. And this will inevitably undermine its legitimacy.

MEE: How are the princes who were released from the Ritz Carlton being treated?

KbF: These princes were initially invited in a pleasant way, in a request to meet the king. Of course, in Saudi Arabia, it's tradition that if you are invited to meet the king, you go. So they went to meet the king, and then they were arrested in the hotel [Ritz Carlton]. After the procedures that took place in the hotel, they were pressured to give Mohammed bin Salman substantial amounts of their wealth, then they were released.

But they are now staying in their homes. Firstly, they are strictly not allowed to travel outside Saudi Arabia. They are being closely and harshly monitored inside Saudi Arabia, to the extent that the majority of them have been fitted with monitoring devices to their legs, which electronically tells the authorities the areas that they move in. And [the authorities] records their conversations whether on the phone or directly with a person. So they are under personal, severe and humiliating surveillance inside Saudi Arabia and they are not allowed to leave.

MEE: King Salman and MBS are in complete control. There are no independent judges nor institutions nor parliament to temper their actions. There is a climate of fear. What can the rest of the royal family do now?

KbF: Of course, the imprisonment of the princes created a state of psychological trauma within the entire family, which is represented by two things. Firstly, they fear for their own future as a ruling family in Saudi Arabia. And secondly, they are not happy with the policies being pursued currently, the policies being pursued now which are irrational, erratic and stupid.

Of course, the whole family, or most of it, rejects these policies, out of fear for themselves firstly, and for their country, and the future of the kingdom, of themselves, and of their children.

So the whole family, in the end, are Saudi citizens, and only some of the members of the ruling family are the ones who are in control of creating the general policies of Saudi Arabia. The rest of the family are like the rest of the Saudi citizens, who are affected by the policies, but aren’t involved in making them.

There is a general rejection of the procedures taking place at the moment by the son of the king. Especially, in my personal opinion, if King Salman had been in a good state of health, things wouldn’t have reached this stage. When we see public policy in Saudi Arabia, we can see that King Salman is completely absent from the screen or from the political scene in Saudi Arabia.

I expect that giving advice for change, with everything we’ve seen, is not going to be useful. Because the current policy can’t be amended, there must be a complete change, and change can only be accomplished if you change the figurehead who rules now. I expect the royal family was in shock, and of course in human nature, it usually takes a while to wake up from this shock. I think we are now starting to wake up from this shock.

But the problem is that those prominent princes are stuck in Saudi Arabia, under strict, harsh surveillance, but I expect there will be some movement, or something, within the family for a change, an all-encompassing change, because a change in policy or amendments in policy is no longer helpful, no, we need a change of the ruler himself, or the figurehead that rules Saudi Arabia.

Regime change: 'Europe and America will have to foot the bill'

MEE: Recently there were reports of gunfire outside the palace. The official version was that they were shooting at a drone. Mujtahid said that the palace was attacked by heavy guns mounted on two SUVs. Six security staff and two assailants died. Do you have information about this attack?

KbF: I don’t have specific information as to who was behind this but I just think about it rationally. This drone can be purchased here for a 100 euros or cheaper if it’s Chinese. These types of drones - for you to use heavy guns and fire for a whole hour - these drones could fly from Riyadh to another city in that period of time. So you cannot accept logically that it’s a matter of a drone. I personally believe that this was, not necessarily an attempt to bring down Mohammed bin Salman but rather an act of protest against him.

MEE: How stable is Saudi Arabia internally?

KbF: I would like to say to Europeans that the situation in Saudi Arabia resembles a volcano that is about to erupt. And if this volcano erupts, it will not only affect the situation inside Saudi Arabia or in the Arab region, but it will also have an effect on you too.

This is because Saudi Arabia is diverse in terms of its make-up, whether it's tribal, societal or even generational.

There is a generation that’s been brought up with Wahhabism and a generation that was educated outside [of Saudi Arabia] and returned. There is no social cohesion in Saudi society.

So should a coup take place, or a coup is orchestrated from circles outside of the ruling family, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia could easily become a centre for international terrorism. How? Riyadh, the central region, the western region and all other regions - there isn’t complete cohesion between them.

There will be divisions amongst tribes and generations even within a single region in Saudi Arabia. There will be internal chaos in Saudi Arabia. We should not forget that there are terrorist sleeper cells within Saudi Arabia, and that Wahhabi ideology is a radical ideology, and, based on what I’ve read, of the Islamists that Europeans and Americans are frightened most of, it's Wahhabism or the sleeper cells in Saudi Arabia.

So, if Saudi Arabia descends into a state of chaos, there will be global chaos, and it [Saudi Arabia] will be a source of terrorism for the entire world as it will support and sustain international terrorism. Therefore, it is wiser to be cautious than to seek treatment.

Politics in Saudi Arabia is moving towards the collapse of the state itself, and if the state collapses - not to mention what will happen to the global economy - but from a security perspective, I think that Europe and America will have to foot the bill for what happens in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi leadership: 'King Salman is the symbol of racism'

MEE: Do you know MBS and the king personally? How would you describe their personalities?

KbF: Salman was the one whom I dealt with the most. Salman was the emir of Riyadh and we were in a unique situation; initially we lived outside of Saudi Arabia and then we returned on the instructions of the late King Fahd. Our situation changed directly as a result of Prince Salman. At that time, Prince Salman was in charge of the royal family and he had a family affairs administration in Riyadh which managed the affairs of every emir in the royal family.

But as for his son Mohammed, I’ve never dealt with him or seen him before but I’ve heard from people within the family. At school he had psychological problems and I’d rather not go into too much detail, but mental health can affect someone entirely, and I can see clearly that after he came into power and the way he deals in politics is reflective of his psychological problems.

MEE: Was he violent?

KbF: I wouldn’t say he was violent, but when he was younger, in the royal family, he didn’t have status, he was an ordinary member of the family. His brothers had higher positions, and they had a voice within the Saudi ruling elite. Of course, his cousins were older, more experienced, better positioned, more educated and everything else.

So I think he developed psychological problems, because one of his cousins whom he arrested, when he would meet him, he [Mohammed bin Salman] would have to ask for an appointment, and maybe the prince would meet him, or maybe not. So this created within him a psychological problem that represents a vengeance against his cousins.

MEE: Salman required your parents to divorce because your mother was Egyptian and your sister to divorce because she was married to a Kuwaiti. Is he a racist?

KbF: King Salman is the symbol of racism. We all think highly of his father King Abdulaziz but King Salman looked up to his father like a prophet. This is what made Salman incredibly racist, even within the family itself amongst his brothers.

We can see that with the Sudayris, who are the children of Hussa Sudayri and they enjoy a special status. For example, when King Fahd bin Abdulaziz became ill and we all know he suffered a brain clot which prevented him for ruling at the time, Prince Abdullah became acting king and this displeased King Salman because Abdullah at the time was not one of the Sudayris.

It even reached to a point when, as acting king, Abdullah removed some of the privileges allocated to the royal family like free travel, Salman ignited a rebellion within the family against Abdullah, and with the help of Prince Nayef he tried to remove Abdullah from his post.

But Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz prevented this plan from happening. He told them that the national security of Saudi Arabia was more important that the safety of the family. At the time there were issues in Iraq and that was more of a priority than internal personal issues. Especially as King Abdullah’s measures were much more popular generally in Saudi Arabia.

King Salman, and I do not exaggerate, is extremely racist to levels I have not seen before. Of course, as we all know King Salman is head of the whole family and he discriminated between tribes and within each tribe he favoured some personally over others.

He even discriminated between "qabili" and "khadiri" - "khadiri" is someone who is not a member of a tribe in Saudi Arabia. The status of "qabili" members is higher and better than the status of "khadiri" members. And there are differences between the tribes, in terms of size etc. So there is discrimination even between the tribes. And within a tribe itself there is discrimination between the figure heads and the members.

[Salman] favoured the royal family over the rest of the Saudi public. And within the family itself there was discrimination. He [Salman] favoured the Sudayri branch over the rest of the family. Even within the family, Salman discriminated against King Saud’s children and excluded them from any power or financial privileges.

The Saudi government, in general, has divided society in Saudi Arabia. This social division is part of their plan. I believe that the mastermind behind this plan is Salman bin Abdulaziz.

Reform: 'Today, we’ve lost our dignity'

MEE: Political leaders in Britain and the US think of Mohammed bin Salman as a reformer. Are they right about him?

KbF: He’s done two things that I can commend. And the main thing he did, he didn’t do it for the Saudi population, he did it to gain popularity with the Americans and European countries.

The first thing, allowing women to drive cars. This isn’t generosity, it is a woman’s right to drive, it’s her basic right.

Second, he restricted the influence of the Saudi religious authority. This religious authority is a government organisation. It is supportive of it even in matters that violate Islamic law, if we’re talking about Islamic law. You can see from the events that have happened. I’m talking about the mufti and the High Council of Scholars, which I call the High Council of Hypocrites.

The restriction of the influence of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice inside Saudi Arabia. This committee is a smart tool of repression from the government, in the name of religion, not in the name of the Royal Family.

They destroy the image of Islam. The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, is a committee is supposed to be spreading the message of Islam in a pleasant way but they do it in a contradictory manner. For example, let’s remember the fire in a school in the city of Mecca. A girl’s school caught fire. The families of the students were outside and wanted to get to rescue their daughters and the fire brigade was waiting. The committee prevented anyone from entering the building under the pretext that the girls may not be properly dressed. They made Islam look ignorant.

MEE: What would real political reform look like?

KbF: We’re tired of this political instability. When King Salman came, he changed the structure of the state, the leaders who were with him, he changed course of the state - both domestic and foreign policies. So, King Salman comes and he changes this, if Mohammed left and another king came instead, he would also change things. The make-up of the state will constantly change with the personality of the king.

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

We noticed that since King Salman took control of the government over the Kingdom, that political arrests and detentions increased by 100 per cent. I am not saying that Saudi Arabia at the start was a liberal and open country, no. It was a dictatorship, yes, but that dictatorship was shared. The shared dictatorship allowed citizens to go to different figureheads with their problems.

Today, it's a dictatorship concentrated in the only one person. So in regards to our openness, we are heading towards worse and not to openness. But he is promoting himself to the European countries to gain support. And we’ve all seen the amount of financial support given to the United States from Saudi funds, and given in a humiliating way.

For example, the last visit for Mohammed bin Salman to the United States, President Trump put a board on his chest. I’m criticising even the president himself, Trump. He’s got a board on Mohammed bin Salman’s chest and by doing that he’s not only putting it on the chest of Mohammed bin Salman, but on the chest of every Arab, Saudi or Muslim. This is humiliating to us all. Unfortunately, he was representing the country. I felt like I was watching a car crash. The leader of the greatest country in the world, and they put a board and describing items as if they’re in a supermarket.

So, in the old days Saudi Arabia was a dictatorship, but they looked after their dignity. Today, we’ve lost our dignity. Dictatorship is here and it’s worse. The resources of the country are being squandered and all for one reason, to ensure Mohammed bin Salman becomes king. So the resources of the country can be squandered, political failure domestically and externally, a worsening dictatorship, such a form of subordination that can not be justified, loads of things and all for one reason, for one person. All this for one person out of 30 million.

Saudi Prince Khaled bin Farhan On The Saudi Royal Family
(4:38 min.)

Saudi Prince Khaled bin Farhan On Regime Change
(6:02 min.)

Saudi Prince Khaled bin Farhan: 'King Salman is the symbol of racism'
(6:41 min.)

Saudi Prince Khaled bin Farhan On Reform
(5:33 min.)
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
An Arab media outlet quoted US sources as saying that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been wounded in the April 21 coup and shootings in his palace.

Mon May 28, 2018 - US, British Sources Confirm Saudi Crown Prince's Injury
Farsnews

The Arabic-language Sawt al-Arab news website quoted the American sources as saying that the Saudi crown prince has been injured during the shooting incident in al-Khazami region, adding that he was taken out of the scene with a helicopter.

According to the website, although the Saudi media have released a number of images of bin Salman after the incident whose date cannot be confirmed, it is not yet clear if he has been treated or is still hospitalized for his injuries.

Meantime, Saudi whistle-blower Mujtahid, who is believed to be a member of or have a well-connected source in the royal family, wrote on his twitter page that rumors have increased about the injury of bin Salman during al-Khazami incident, noting that the plan to release images of the crown prince to prove his survival has failed.

Also, the British newspaper, Observer, released a report, raising doubts about the survival of bin Salman during the April 21 coup, stressing that the media outlets have now focused on the possibility of his injury or even death.

Bin Salman who is also the Saudi defense minister has not appeared in the public after the April 21 coup in his palace and continues to be absent in public gatherings, noting that he was not seen among a host of Riyadh officials at the cadets graduation ceremony in King Abdolaziz military college on May 19 either.

The Saudi defense ministry announced in a statement on May 19 that Riyadh ruler Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdolaziz has attended the ceremony instead of bin Salman.

The statement declined to comment on the reason of bin Salman's absence while naturally the defense minister should participate in such ceremonies.

Earlier this month, an Iranian daily reported that bin Salman is likely dead after an assassination attempt on his life last month, claiming intel from the security service of an Arab state.

According to the Persian-language newspaper, Keyhan, a secret service report sent to the senior officials of an unnamed Arab state disclosed that bin Salman has been hit by two bullets during the April 21 attack on his palace, adding that he might well be dead as he has never appeared in the public ever since.

Heavy gunfire was heard near the Saudi King's palace in Riyadh Saudi Arabia on April 21, while King Salman was taken to a US bunker at an airbase in the city.

A growing number of videos surfaced the media at the time displaying that a heavy gunfire erupted around King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's palace in the capital, Riyadh.

Reports said the king and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, were evacuated to a bunker at an airbase in the city that is under the protection of the US troops.

While Saudi officials and media were quiet over the incident, there were contradicting reports over the incident. Witnesses and residents of the neighborhoods near the palace said a coup was underway, adding that the soldiers attacking the palace were guided by footage and intel they were receiving from a drone flying over the palace.

Saudi opposition members claimed that "a senior ground force officer has led a raid on the palace to kill the king and the crown prince".

Videos also showed that a growing number of armored vehicles were deployed around the palace. 'Bin Salman's special guard' then took charge of security in the capital. Riyadh's sky was then closed to all civil and military flights as military helicopters from 'Bin Salman's special guard' were flying over the palace.

Bin Salman was a man who almost often appeared before the media but his absence since the gunfire in Riyadh has raised questions about his health.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, has witnessed a series of radical political changes over the past year as Mohammed bin Salman ousted his cousin as crown prince and jailed well-known princes in an anti-corruption purge.

Moreover, bin Salman oversees social and economic reforms that have been censured by several powerful Wahhabi clerics.

Saudi Arabia is also embroiled in a long running conflict in its Southern neighbor Yemen, dubbed by the United Nations as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Notably, bin Salman made no media appearance during the April 28 visit of the newly-appointed US State Secretary Mike Pompeo to Riyadh, his first foreign trip as the top US diplomat.

During his stay in Riyadh, Saudi media outlets published images of Pompeo’s meetings with King Salman and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

This is while the state-run outlets used to publish images of meetings in Riyadh between bin Salman and former US secretary of state Rex Tillerson.

A few days after the April 21 incident, Saudi media published footage and images of bin Salman meeting several Saudi and foreign officials. But the date of the meetings could not be verified, so the release of the videos could be aimed at dispelling rumors about bin Salman’s conditions.

It is not clear if bin Salman’s disappearance is due to reasons such as him feeling threatened or being injured in the incident.


Thursday 3 May, 2018 - Saudi Arabia's whistleblower returns with more palace intrigues
Saudi Arabia's whistleblower returns with more palace intrigues

Mujtahid’s short Twitter statements oscillate between predictions, facts and rumour, thus pointing out a continuum between fact and fiction in the context of Saudi politics

Mujtahid, the anonymous but famous Saudi online source of information on Saudi palace intrigues, has returned to inflame social media with new revelations. Using his Twitter account, he discussed new security measures put in place by Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince and his aides, some of them foreign Egyptian advisors and consultants.

'Saudi Julian Assange'
Secret royal circles and the quest for more information about royal intrigues gave rise to a novel and unique Saudi Twitter phenomenon, namely Mujtahid ibn Harith ibn Hamam, dubbed a "Saudi Julian Assange", a mysterious "whistleblower", and "rebel tweeter". He has captured the imagination of international and regional media since he started his account in 2011.

Although there is no way to separate truth from fiction in his claims, many observers are convinced that he is an estranged member of the royal family and are engaged in a guessing game over his possible identity. Others think that Saudi London-based dissident Saad al-Faqih is the real Mujtahid.

I interviewed Mujtahid in 2015 as soon as King Salman started grooming his son to succeed him.

It is important to move away from the quest for the real identity of Mujtahid as this may prove to be a futile exercise. Instead, understanding the phenomenon and the content of his statements is more interesting.

Mujtahid is a reflection of the global phenomenon that came to haunt established democracies in the last decade when Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and others employed in the national security state and private businesses turned into whistleblowers.

The phenomenon is not a reflection of authoritarian rule per se, but is prevalent as a result of citizens' demand for greater transparency in an age when even well-established democracies have proved susceptible to secret intrigues.

However, Mujtahid does not often offer documents to support his whistleblowing; rather, he claims to be informed by anonymous sources close to the king and senior princes.

It is astonishing that he suddenly became so important, followed on Twitter by so many people not only in Saudi Arabia but outside it even without providing hard evidence in support of his commentaries and rumours.

Mujtahid’s prophesies
As Saudi Arabia entered a phase of an increasing opaque, centralised and repressive government, the one-man show of the crown prince is bound to generate further rumours and conspiracy theories.

In a secretive monarchy with all powers concentrated in the hands of one person with no recourse to openness, transparency and the rule of the law, it is not surprising that the Mujtahid phenomenon will continue to attract interest and inflame the imagination of observers.

By April 2015 the king had placed his son in key senior posts such as the Ministry of Defence and the Economic Council, in addition to appointing him deputy crown prince.

Mujtahid was the first to announce the imminent removal of Mohammed bin Nayef from his post as crown prince and the promotion of Mohammed bin Salman to the position in June 2016. He also kept tweeting that the commander of the Saudi Arabian National Guard, Miteb bin Abdullah, was next in the line to be swiftly dismissed from his position.

Mujtahid was right. By November 2017, Miteb was not only removed from office but also detained with other princes for several weeks at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh. At the time Saudi media dismissed Mujtahid's forecasts and attributed them to his fantasies and the wishful thinking of his over two million followers on Twitter.

A new storm
Mujtahid created a recent storm when he organised his thoughts in a series of tweets elaborating on the unprecedented domestic policies of Mohammed Bin Salman. According to Mujtahid, all security files are now in the hands of the prince, who is currently advised by a cohort of Egyptian security experts, especially on issues related to detentions and the personalities that need to be targeted.

Even Mohammed bin Salman's number Saudi one security adviser, Abdulaziz al-Huwairini, is rendered a mere secretary who has no initiatives of his own, apart from those coming from the prince and his foreign advisors.

Mujtahid points to an important new practice under the crown prince. In the past, the Ministry of Interior would indulge relatives of exiled dissidents, treat them lavishly and precipitate a rift within members of one family. This strategy aimed at dividing kin groups and turning their members against each other, a practice well rehearsed in repressive regimes like the Saudi one.

In the past, exiled dissidents and activists got the sticks, but members of their families got the carrots. Family heads are asked to disown their dissident sons. In return they are rewarded by senior princes, especially those in charge of security in the Ministry of Interior and the intelligence services.

Sometimes such relatives are used as go-between, envoys who communicate with activists abroad with a view to returning them to
Saudi Arabia, or merely reporting on them to the authorities during their visits.



However, Mohammed bin Salman, accordiang to Mujtahid, has abandoned the co-option strategy in favour of top-down punishment of dissidents’ relatives who remain in the country.

Abdullah al-Ghamdi, an activist and a dissident, informed his followers on Twitter that his mother and other relatives were detained in an attempt to put pressure on him to return to Saudi Arabia. Mujtahid seems to allude to the fact that such practices are now the standard way of dealing with critical voices that had escaped abroad.

Anonymous but famous
The crown prince abandoned the semblance of paternalism and kindness towards those families whose dissident sons are regarded as having gone astray. Detaining a wide circle of relatives is now standard punishment.

The security of the regime and in particular that of the crown prince consumes a vast amount of money, thus reflecting the sense of insecurity in the palace and fear of a hidden revolt fermenting among disgruntled princes, some of whom had been seriously humiliated.

According to Mujtahid, the task of protecting the regime is now the responsibility of a consortium of foreign troops, recruited mercenaries, and others. It seems that the prince does not trust Arabs, in the past mainly Moroccans and Jordanians, or Pakistanis with this important job. Instead he chose to go global and recruited among those private security companies that have no loyalty to anybody apart from the one who pays the bills.

Mujtahid explains that his own popularity is attributed, first, to the obsession of Saudi society with royal secrets that he has fully exposed and, second, to the accuracy of his rumours, which subsequent events confirmed. His credibility rests, in his opinion, on disseminating information in respectable language, guided by strict moral and religious codes.

In addition to his linguistic skills, he avoids sensational and unwarranted stories that delve into the private lives of princes. In this respect, Mujtahid distinguishes himself from previous opposition figures whose discourse often degenerated into personal attacks on royalty.

Undermining regime legitimacy
Mujtahid says his main purpose is to help other more vocal opposition figures to use the information he provides with a view to undermining the legitimacy of the regime. He insists that he wants to contribute to the project of political change. His contribution consists of exposing lies and intrigues in order to undermine the mystique of monarchy.

In the context of controlled media and propaganda, the regime appears intact, powerful, and feared. Delving into behind-the-scenes information and exposing cracks within the royal household contribute to this project, according to Mujtahid. The regime has "a false and fabricated hayba [mystique]", that he tries to expose.

Mujtahid insists that several military units in the kingdom would refuse to be engaged in a struggle in support of one prince against another should the latent rivalry between the princes become public.

The popularity of Mujtahid among domestic and global audiences stems from his ability to spread rumours to anticipate certain royal reshuffles and expose corruption at all government levels. However, although Mujtahid does not openly call for the implementation of a specific political system, he is critical of Saudi liberals and Islamists, especially those loyal to the government.

He is also critical of official ulama, for example those who unquestionably accept and defend all government decisions. In his view, true Islam "requires one to reject injustice, repression, and corruption. I circulate information that exposes those hypocrites among state intellectuals, ulama, and also Islamists."

Mujtahid’s Twitter statements oscillate between predictions, facts, and rumour, thus pointing out a continuum between fact and fiction in the context of Saudi politics. He will continue to be followed as long as Saudi Arabia continues to be governed by the iron fist of one man and his foreign advisors and mercenaries.
 
The security of the regime and in particular that of the crown prince consumes a vast amount of money, thus reflecting the sense of insecurity in the palace and fear of a hidden revolt fermenting among disgruntled princes, some of whom had been seriously humiliated.

According to Mujtahid, the task of protecting the regime is now the responsibility of a consortium of foreign troops, recruited mercenaries, and others. It seems that the prince does not trust Arabs, in the past mainly Moroccans and Jordanians, or Pakistanis with this important job. Instead he chose to go global and recruited among those private security companies that have no loyalty to anybody apart from the one who pays the bills.
So that's an ominous sign for the trust the Saudi power structure has in itself and its kinship. Remember that MBS and the King had to be swiftly moved to a bunker controlled by U.S. Forces. Meanwhile MBS is now missing for 40 days...

Another thing I remember having read somewhere is that the Saudi Army, which is conducting warfare on neighboring Yemen is said to be largely composed of Yemeni mercenaries. :rolleyes:
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
So that's an ominous sign for the trust the Saudi power structure has in itself and its kinship. Remember that MBS and the King had to be swiftly moved to a bunker controlled by U.S. Forces. Meanwhile MBS is now missing for 40 days...

Another thing I remember having read somewhere is that the Saudi Army, which is conducting warfare on neighboring Yemen is said to be largely composed of Yemeni mercenaries. :rolleyes:
Searching Arab new sites - No new reports on MBS? Although, it seems the King is making waves ...

02.06.2018 - Saudi King Reshuffles Government with Focus on Culture, Religion
Saudi King Reshuffles Government With Focus on Culture, Religion

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud issued a slew of royal orders on Saturday appointing ministers of culture, Islamic affairs and labor.

In the decrees, carried by the SPA state news agency, the king announced the establishment of a Culture Ministry and named Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud as its chief.

He also replaced Labor and Social Development Minister Ali bin Nasser Al-Ghafis with Ahmed bin Sulaiman bin Abdulaziz Al-Rajhi.

Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Al-Sheikh was promoted to the post of Islamic affairs, call and guidance minister. Additionally, a board of directors was set up to oversee the holy city of Mecca and other shrines.


May 28, 2018 - Speculation over Saudi Crown Prince health amid rumours of his death
Speculation over Saudi Crown Prince health amid rumours of his death

Western media outlets have raised speculations over the wellbeing of Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman who has not made any public appearance in four weeks.

French 20 Minutes newspaper linked between the prince’s disappearance and the “attempted coup” which took place at the royal palace in the neighbourhood of Khuzama in Riyadh on April, 21.

According to the paper, the Saudi media has rejected reports circulating on social media claiming the gunshots heard at the palace were part of a military coup attempt while the authorities claim a semi-automatic fire was used to send away a drone that appeared near the palace wall.

The French paper’s report follows another report issued by British The Observer which also raised doubts about the prince’s health. Bin Salman has not appeared in public since his meeting with the Spanish royal family on April 12.

The al-Ahd al-Jadeed Twitter account, which describes itself as “close to the decision-making circles” in Saudi Arabia claimed that the Crown Prince has not entered the royal court since the incident at the royal palace in April.

Last week, Iranian Kayhan newspaper reported that the crown prince had been shot twice during the attack and may have already died, citing a secret intelligence report sent to senior officials in an unnamed Arab country.

According to the site, Bin Salman did not appear before camera when new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Riyadh late last April.

The Saudi royal family on Wednesday released a photo of bin Salman at a cabinet meeting in Jeddah and confirmed he was alive.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Without any type of official notice from the Saudi Kingdom - everything is still - pure speculation?

Sat Jun 02, 2018 - Western Sources Confirm Coup against Saudi Crown Prince
Farsnews

A leading Arab daily quoted western sources as saying that the April 21 shooting at the royal palace in Riyadh was a coup, stressing that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in deep fear after the coup.

The Arabic-language al-Rai al-Youm newspaper wrote that the western advisers have recommended bin Salman to avoid appearance in the public and stop making provocative decisions in a bid to survive until he becomes the king.

According to a western source, "bin Salman has been scared to death by the April 21 attack" as he didn’t think that the royal palace which is the most sensitive place in Saudi Arabia could become the target of such an attack.

The source added that bin Salman has replaced the Saudi soldiers with western guards, noting that his life has changed and he rarely speaks on the phone for the fear of being tracked by his opponents.

The western officials have also advised the Saudi crown prince not to act like a king and wait until his father's death to ascend to the thrown.

An Arab media outlet quoted US sources as saying late last month that bin Salman had been wounded in the April 21 coup and shootings in his palace.

The Arabic-language Sawt al-Arab news website quoted the American sources as saying that the Saudi crown prince has been injured during the shooting incident in al-Khazami region, adding that he was taken out of the scene with a helicopter.

According to the website, although the Saudi media have released a number of images of bin Salman after the incident whose date cannot be confirmed, it is not yet clear if he has been treated or is still hospitalized for his injuries.

Meantime, Saudi whistle-blower Mujtahid, who is believed to be a member of or have a well-connected source in the royal family, wrote on his twitter page that rumors have increased about the injury of bin Salman during al-Khazami incident, noting that the plan to release images of the crown prince to prove his survival has failed.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Saudi whistle-blower Mujtahid, who is believed to be a member of or have a well-connected source in the royal family, disclosed the secrets behind establishment of a Council for the Royal Protected Areas in the Royal Court.

Sun Jun 03, 2018 - Saudi Whistle-Blower Reveals Secrets behind Formation of Royal Protected Areas Council
Farsnews

"These vast areas are nothing but the first stage of land confiscation by (Saudi crown prince) Mohammed bin Salman. The next stages will witness largest areas and all of them will be owned by bin Salman," Mujtahid was quoted by Arabi 21 website as writing on his twitter page.

He said that the protected areas will be superficially owned by the public but actually will be the properties of bin Salman.

A royal decree in Saudi Arabia saw the establishment of a Council for the Royal Protected Areas in the Royal Court.

The Royal Protected Areas Council would be chaired by Muhammad Bin Salman, who is also the deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

Under the royal orders, six natural reserves were designated in order "to re-establish wildlife, enhance their development and promote eco-tourism".
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
08 June 2018 - Kremlin: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to visit Russia next week (Developing)

Friday, 8 June 2018 - Mohammed bin Salman to visit Russia next week, announces Kremlin
Mohammed bin Salman to visit Russia next week, announces Kremlin

Kremlin

The Saudi Crown Prince will be present during the World Cup opening to support the Kingdom’s national team. (Supplied)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will visit Russia next week, Interfax cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying on Friday.

The crown prince will be present during Russia’s World Cup opening to support the Kingdom’s national team which will be the first Arab team playing against the Russian team on June 14.

The first group include Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay.


June 08, 2018 - King Salman receives dignitaries from Bahrain, Guinea in Makkah
King Salman receives dignitaries from Bahrain, Guinea in Makkah

JEDDAH: King Salman received President Alpha Conde of Guinea and his accompanying delegation, Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, and his accompanying delegation, and Speaker of the National Assembly of Kuwait Marzouq bin Ali Al-Ghanim, at Al-Safa Palace in Makkah on Thursday evening.
During his talks with Conde, bilateral relations and ways of enhancing cooperation between the two countries in all fields were reviewed.

The meeting was attended by Makkah Governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, State Minister Prince Mansour bin Mutaib, Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif, Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir and other senior officials.

Later, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.

During the meeting, they discussed the relations between the two countries, latest regional developments and a number of issues of common concern.
 
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will visit Russia next week, Interfax cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying on Friday.

The crown prince will be present during Russia’s World Cup opening to support the Kingdom’s national team which will be the first Arab team playing against the Russian team on June 14.
That's cool. So it took the CIA's Scientific department around four to six weeks to duplicate or reassemble MBS. President Putin might be taking a long hard look at him to find out whether he's actually in good working order, or if there are any noticeable glitches. :cool:

Or maybe I'm just phantasizing and it took him a couple of weeks to recuperate from his gun-shot wounds...
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
June 9, 2018 - MBS Repeatedly Met with Israeli Officials during His Disappearance: Report
MBS Repeatedly Met with Israeli Officials during His Disappearance: Report

Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salmen, has repeatedly met with Israeli officials during his month-long disappearance, a report said.

The Saudi prince, who is widely known as MBS, met with high-ranking Israeli officials as part of Riyadh’s latest moves to normalize Arabic ties with the Zionist entity, The New Khalij News reported Friday, citing Egyptian well-informed sources.

MBS had been absent on the public stage since the shooting incident near the royal palace at Riyadh in April 21. Earlier this week (on June 5), Saudi authorities released an image for the Saudi Crown Prince with Libyan PM Fayez al-Sarraj in Jeddah.

In the Friday report, the Egyptian sources said that MBS has been seeking to form a regional alliance aimed against Tehran.

Steps taken by MBS in this context are excessive concessions,” The New Khalij quoted Egyptian source as saying on condition of anonymity.
As MBS assures that he will end his vision of the so-called deal of the century through pressing Palestinian sides, Jordan meanwhile, takes a stance that opposes the American vision – which agrees with MBS’ vision, Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed quoted Egyptian source as saying.

The report by Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed noted meanwhile that there have been efforts to end Jordan’s guardianship of the Islamic holy sites in Al-Quds.
 
He Lives!

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was among dignitaries in Moscow on Thursday as his country's team suffered a 5-0 defeat against hosts Russia in the opening match of the 2018 World Cup.

MBS in Moscow

Bin Salman, who is known as MbS, had not been seen in public since late April, when an influential Saudi blogger known as Mujtahidd posted reports on Twitter of gunfire near royal palaces in Riyadh, prompting weeks of speculation about his whereabouts.

Saudi Football Fans

Full article at Middleeasteye.net
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
14.06.2018 - Saudi Arabia Wants to Continue Oil Cooperation With Russia - Crown Prince
Saudi Arabia Wants to Continue Oil Cooperation With Russia - Crown Prince

According to the Saudi prince, who is on a visit to Russia to attend the opening of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Moscow, the fruitful work of the two countries in the economic, industrial and oil sectors has helped to stabilize the situation in the world economy by regulating the trends on the global oil market.

And, certainly, we want to continue this cooperation and move ahead," the prince stressed.

Foreign Ministry
@KSAmofaEN


#Moscow | Russian President Vladimir Putin receives Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at #Kremlin
10:07 AM - Jun 14, 2018

 

c.a.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Saudi Budget Deficit Shrinks As Oil Prices Rally | OilPrice.com
Jul 26, 2018, 3:00 PM CDT
Higher oil prices are invariably good news for oil-dependent economies. The latest price rally is particularly good news for the world’s top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, whose budget deficit is this year seen to shrink to 5.6 percent from 9.3 percent last year, BMI Research said in a new report.

The 5.6-percent figure is a downward revision from BMI’s earlier projection that stood at 6.1 percent, and the market research firm now expects the Saudi budget to return to balance by 2024, probably on the premise that oil prices will continue to rise and so will production—a combination that is not the most natural one.

Unnatural it may be, but this is precisely the situation at the moment: Saudi Arabia is pumping more after in June the OPEC+ club decided to put an end to the production cuts aimed at eliminating a global oil inventory overhang. It has also just announced it will suspend oil and fuels shipments through Bab el Mandeb after Houthi attacks on two tankers, which has pushed prices higher, since the chokepoint is where a lot of Middle Eastern oil passes on its way to global markets.

Saudi Arabia was forced to tighten its belt during the last price crash, and it has demonstrated determination to continue with economic reforms despite improving prices. However, these reforms may affect economic growth negatively: Bloomberg recently reported that household debt in the Kingdom has risen two- to threefold since last year on the back of higher utility prices, a value added tax, and higher prices at the pump.

Related: The Regulation That Could Push Oil To $200

nflation is rising, and sharply, swinging from a negative reading to 3% in the months from late 2017 to early 2018, and unemployment is also rising: as of March this year it was 12.9 percent among Saudi nationals, which is the highest in at least six years. In other words, it seems that the economic reforms prompted by the latest oil price collapse have turned into a problem for common Saudis, and this problem is putting the brakes on the economic growth that the Kingdom needs in order to fill its budget gap.

Yes, higher oil prices will increase oil revenues, which constituted some 63 percent of the Saudi budget revenue, as of 2017. They will also deter any attempts to diversify away from oil and oil products, which was the point of the reform push initiated by Crown Prince Mohammed. The Aramco IPO on which his Vision 2030 depends, according to many analysts, has been delayed again and may never happen after the government filled its coffers with the billions “donated” by high-ranking businessmen and members of the royal family who were last year detained on allegations of corruption.

Saudi Arabia wants to reduce the share of oil revenues in its budget total to below 50 percent but it wants to see these oil revenues rise by 80 percent over the next five years. This might make sense if it weren’t for the stated ambition of Riyadh to focus on non-oil growth. Saudi Arabia needs oil money to finance the non-oil expansion, and based on BMI’s and IMF’s latest projections, it looks like it will continue to depend on this oil money at least in the medium term. After all, they can’t release the austerity pressure until there is some solid growth in budget revenue, and oil is the most likely contributor. If prices continue up, that is.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Aramco is weighing tapping the international bond market for the first time to finance the acquisition of petrochemical giant Sabic, a move into global capital markets that could offer an alternative to an initial public offering, according to people familiar with the talks.

If Aramco goes ahead with an international bond -- potentially among the biggest ever done by a corporate issuer -- the sale would force the world’s largest oil producer to disclose its accounts to investors for the first time since nationalization four decades ago as well as many other details about oil reserves and operations.

The plans for a bond, likely to be combined with banks loans, are very preliminary but would allow the state-owned company to raise cash to pay the country’s sovereign wealth fund for the 70 percent stake it owns in Sabic, valued at about $70 billion. In turn, the Public Investment Fund would obtain the money it had initially hoped to raise from the Aramco IPO, the same people said, asking not to be named because the talks are private.

Aramco hasn’t yet started talks about the size of any bond, which would depend on how large a stake it buys in Sabic and how much the banks are willing to lend directly. It could rank among the largest ever.

Verizon Communications Inc. issued the largest ever corporate bond in 2013, raising $49 billion to buy a stake in rival Verizon Wireless Inc. Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV raised $46 billion in 2016 to finance the takeover of SABMiller Plc.

The Aramco-Sabic deal could give Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a shrewd way to avoid an IPO that has proven far more difficult than envisaged, while still raising cash for the sovereign wealth fund. The main difference would be the origin of the cash: rather than equity investors, it would come from bank loans and bond investors.

Raising cash from bondholders solves another problem: Aramco’s valuation. MBS, as the 32-year-old crown prince is known, said the company would be worth at least $2 trillion -- more than double the current market valuation of Apple Inc. -- and perhaps as much as $2.5 trillion. Yet most analysts and investors have said that $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion was more realistic. A bond won’t put a value on the company.

Aramco has so far largely avoided bond markets, relying almost exclusively on its own cash or bank loans. The closest it has come to issue debt is last year when it sold a debut local currency Islamic bond, or sukuk. The prospectus for the 2017 sukuk, which raised about 11.25 billion riyals ($3 billion), didn’t include any financial information on Aramco, according to a copy of the document reviewed by Bloomberg News.

Today, Aramco is virtually debt free, according to accounts obtained by Bloomberg News for the first half of 2017. At that point, the company reported total borrowings of $20.2 billion at the end of the first half of 2017, offset by cash and cash equivalents of $19 billion.
Saudi Aramco, which didn’t respond to requests for comment, has already signaled that the talks to buy a strategic stake in Sabic would likely further delay an IPO.

Oil Minister

"A potential Sabic deal would affect the time frame for Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering," Amin Nasser, Aramco’s chief executive officer, told Arabiya television last week.

Saudi officials had already lengthened the timeline for the Aramco IPO. Khalid Al-Falih, the country’s oil minister, said in June that while it would be nice to do the deal in 2019, the timing wasn’t critical.

"There is a lot more at stake than just ticking a box and say, ‘We got this out of the way,’" he said.

The plan to sell shares in the state oil giant next year is itself a delay from an original plan for 2018. For almost two years, Saudi officials said repeatedly the IPO was "on track, on time" for the second half of 2018. Earlier this year, they admitted it would be delayed into 2019. And many observers — including members of the company’s senior leadership — doubt whether it will happen at all.

Aramco has appointed JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley to advise on the Sabic deal, the people said. In addition, the Saudi state-owned oil company is likely to appoint two-to-three other banks, one of the people said. Both JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley were already working on the IPO preparations.
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.




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Impact of Halting Saudi Tankers From Using the Bab Al-Mandeb Due to Security Concerns - our detailed report covering barrels and destinations. #OOTT https://tankertrackers.com/news/data/impact-of-halting-saudi-tankers-from-using-the-bab-al-mandeb-due-to-security-concerns …
 
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angelburst29

The Living Force
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October 5, 2018 - Eight people remain detained in Saudi corruption crackdown, Crown Prince says
Eight people remain detained in Saudi corruption crackdown, crown prince says | Reuters

Eight people detained in Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption campaign remain in custody, the kingdom’s crown prince said, after scores were arrested in a purge launched last November.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman said $35 billion, split between 40 percent cash and 60 percent assets, had been transferred to the government so far out of an expected $100 billion.

“We think it will complete in the next maybe two years,” he said in a Bloomberg interview published on Friday.

Saudi Arabia’s attorney general said in January that the total number of subpoenaed individuals had reached 381, with 56 remaining in custody for possible trial.

Settlements, like that reached by billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, had generated an estimated 400 billion riyal ($106.65 billion), the attorney general said at the time.

Foreign and local investors have long complained about corruption, and confronting it is an important part of reforms unveiled by Prince Mohammed to transform the country and reduce the economy’s reliance on oil exports.

Yet some business leaders were unsettled by the swoop on top princes, businessmen and government officials because of the secrecy around the crackdown and their suspicions that it was at least partly politically motivated.


October 5, 2018 - Russia's Putin may meet Saudi Crown Prince at G20 in November: RIA
Russia's Putin may meet Saudi crown prince at G20 in November: RIA | Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin may meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 summit in November, RIA news agency cited Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying on Friday.

The meeting could help prepare the way for a visit by Putin to Saudi Arabia, Bogdanov was quoted as saying.


October 5, 2018 - Saudi Crown Prince dismisses Trump remarks about reliance om US
Saudi crown prince dismisses Trump remarks about reliance on U.S. | Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman dismissed remarks by Donald Trump in which the U.S. president said he had warned the king he would not last in power “for two weeks” without U.S. military backing and demanded he pay up.

“I love working with him. You know, you have to accept that any friend will say good things and bad things,” Prince Mohammed said in a Bloomberg interview published on Friday.

“We believe that all the armaments we have from the United States of America are paid for, it’s not free armament. So ever since the relationship started between Saudi Arabia and the United States of America, we’ve bought everything with money,” Prince Mohammed added.

Trump made the comments at a rally in Mississippi on Tuesday. Despite the harsh words, the Trump administration has had a close relationship with Saudi Arabia, which it views as a bulwark against Iran’s ambitions in the region.

Trump made Saudi Arabia his first stop on his maiden international trip as president last year.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s top oil exporter and the de facto leader of OPEC, which has been criticized by Trump for high oil prices.


05.10.2018 - Saudi Crown Prince to allow Turkey to search Consulate for missing Journalist
Saudi Crown Prince to Allow Turkey to Search Consulate for Missing Journalist

The day before, Saudi Arabia's envoy to Ankara was summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He stated that he had no information about the missing journalist.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced Friday that he was ready to allow Turkey to search for the missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi within the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

The premises are sovereign territory, but we will allow them to enter and search and do whatever they want to do," Prince Mohammed stated in his interview to Bloomberg. "We have nothing to hide."

Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist who has previously criticized Saud Arabia's leadership, disappeared after visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul Tuesday. As Khashoggi's fiancée claimed, he had entered the consulate building to obtain the necessary documents for a marriage license but never returned.

Commenting on the issue, Saudi officials insisted that the journalist had left the diplomatic facility.

The missing journalist decided to voluntarily leave Saudi Arabia and moved to the US capital last year.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia's official news agency SPA reported that an unidentified Saudi national had been arrested and extradited to Saudi Arabia for cashing checks without credit. However, it is unclear whom the statement is referring to.


03.10.2018 - Kingdom Critic: Prominent Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappears in Turkey
Kingdom Critic: Prominent Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Disappears in Turkey

Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist who has previously criticized the kingdom’s leadership, disappeared after visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul Tuesday, according to multiple reports.

According to his fiancee, who asked to remain anonymous, the 59-year-old journalist entered the consulate at about 1 p.m. and did not exit at 5 p.m. after the consulate had officially closed. By midnight, there was still no sign of the veteran journalist, according to Turan Kislakci, a friend of Khashoggi's who was also waiting outside the consulate with Khashoggi's fiancee.

"He entered at 1 p.m. and hasn't surfaced since then. I have no media statements to make at this point, but I have contacted Turkish authorities for help," Khashoggi's fiancee told the Middle East Eye by phone Tuesday.

"We have talked with some Turkish authorities and the police," Kislakci told the Washington Post Tuesday. "I think 100 percent that he is inside."

After making comments last year at the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy that Saudi Arabia should be "rightfully nervous about a Trump presidency" last year, Saudi Arabian authorities told Khashoggi, a Saudi national, that he could no longer write or tweet.

Khashoggi, who presently writes for the Post's Global Opinions section, decided at the time to voluntarily leave Saudi Arabia following the crackdown over his content. He moved to the US capital last year over concerns that he would be arrested or prevented from leaving the country.

Over the last year, Khashoggi has criticized the policies of Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, particularly his arrest of any dissidents.

When Saudi authorities arrested at least a dozen women rights activists in May, Khashoggi noted that the "crackdown has shocked even the government's most stalwart defenders." In an article published by the Post last month, Khashoggi also urged Saudi Arabia to use "its clout and leverage" to end the war in Yemen.

Khashoggi, who is a former editor-in-chief of Saudi newspapers al-Arab and Watan, was at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul Tuesday to acquire documents related to a marriage license. According to friends, he had visited the consulate earlier on Friday with no incident. He returned to Istanbul on Monday after traveling to London and called the consulate Tuesday morning; he was told to visit at 1 p.m.

Both the Turkish and Saudi foreign ministries have not responded to messages from the Washington Post inquiring about Khashoggi's whereabouts.

"We have been unable to reach Jamal today and are very concerned about where he may be," the Post's international opinions editor, Eli Lopez, wrote in a statement Tuesday.

"We are monitoring the situation closely, trying to gather more information. It would be unfair and outrageous if he has been detained for his work as a journalist and commentator. Jamal is a great writer and insightful political observer, deeply committed to the open exchange of ideas; we are honored to have his point of view be part of our Global Opinions. We hope that he is safe and that we can hear from him soon," Lopez added.

The US State Department also told the Middle East Eye through email that it is aware of Khashoggi's disappearance.

"We have seen these reports and are seeking more information at this time," a US official said.

According to reports by The New Arab and Al-Jazeera, Turkish police are already investigating Khashoggi's disappearance. Security forces allegedly entered the Saudi consulate on Tuesday to search for him.

"Police entered the consulate building in the Besiktas area but failed to find him," a local Al-Jazeera correspondent reported Tuesday.

"Police inspected footage taken by surveillance cameras, showing that Khashoggi left the building 20 minutes after entering,"
the report added, also stating that the journalist was most likely "kidnapped."

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia's official SPA news agency reported that an unidentified Saudi national was arrested and extradited to Saudi Arabia for cashing checks without credit. However, it is unclear whom the statement is referring to.
 

sToRmR1dR

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
October 5, 2018 - Saudi Crown Prince dismisses Trump remarks about reliance om US
Saudi crown prince dismisses Trump remarks about reliance on U.S. | Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman dismissed remarks by Donald Trump in which the U.S. president said he had warned the king he would not last in power “for two weeks” without U.S. military backing and demanded he pay up.

“I love working with him. You know, you have to accept that any friend will say good things and bad things,” Prince Mohammed said in a Bloomberg interview published on Friday.

“We believe that all the armaments we have from the United States of America are paid for, it’s not free armament. So ever since the relationship started between Saudi Arabia and the United States of America, we’ve bought everything with money,” Prince Mohammed added.

Saudi Arabia to Trump: Riyadh 'Will Pay Nothing' to US for Its Security

Earlier, US President Donald Trump stated that Saudi King Salman would be unable to stay in power for two weeks without Washington's support.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman specifically underscored that Riyadh "will pay nothing" to Washington for Saudi Arabia's security, adding that "all the armaments we have from the United States of America are paid for, it's not free armament."

"Ever since the relationship started between Saudi Arabia and the United States of America, we've bought everything with money," Bin Salman said.

He recalled that since US President Donald Trump took office in early 2017, Riaydh had agreed to buy a total of 400 billion dollars worth of US-made weapons, which Bin Salman said was "a good achievement" for Trump.

"Also included in these agreements are that part of these armaments will be manufactured in Saudi Arabia, so it will create jobs in America and Saudi Arabia, good trade, good benefits for both countries and also good economic growth. Plus, it will help our security,” Bin Salman pointed out.

He also noted that Saudi Arabia had existed decades before the US and that it will need "something like around 2,000 years to maybe face some dangers."

The remarks came a day after Trump claimed that Saudi King Salman would not be able to last in power without US military support.

"We protect Saudi Arabia. Would you say they're rich? And I love the King, King Salman. But I said 'King – we're protecting you — you might not be there for two weeks without us — you have to pay for your military," Trump said.


Saudi Arabia can survive ‘2,000 years’ without US help & not face civil war like America – MBS

Saudi society fully supports the royals and those few fringe extremist elements who stir trouble are being dealt with, believes crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who claimed the kingdom can survive for 2,000 years on its own.

Known in the West by his initials MBS, the crown prince may, as he said, ‘love’ working with the US and Trump but, when it comes to thinking of examples of successful managers of social change, he is decidedly ‘America last.’ Any drastic financial, political and legal reforms come with a hefty price tag, he emphasized, drawing parallels with the history of the United States.

“...if you look at the United States of America, when for example they wanted to free the slaves. What was the price? Civil war. It divided America for a few years. Thousands, tens of thousands of people died to win freedom for the slaves,” Bin Salman told Bloomberg, in a wide-ranging interview published Friday.

“Here we are trying to get rid of extremism and terrorism without civil war, without stopping the country from growing, with continuous progress in all elements,” the crown prince added. “So if there is a small price in that area, it’s better than paying a big debt to do that move.”

Two weeks? Try 2,000 years!

Bin Salman brushed off US President Donald Trump’s somewhat humiliating comments about Saudi Arabia perishing within two weeks without American support, saying that his kingdom existed decades before the US and will need “something like around 2,000 years to maybe face some dangers.”

“Actually, we will pay nothing for our security," the prince firmly stated, explaining that since Trump’s statements were clearly addressed to a domestic audience he did not find them offensive.

“We believe that all the armaments we have from the United States of America are paid for, it’s not free armament,” he reiterated. Explaining that, after Trump became US president, Saudi Arabia has already agreed to procure nearly 60 percent of its arms from Washington, he emphasized that Riyadh owes nothing extra because it always pays for weapons supplies in cash.

“I love working with him. I really like working with him,” bin Salman said of Trump, calling his comments a “one percent”disagreement between allies.

Saudis aren’t scared, only 1,500 ‘extremists’ arrested in 3 years

Bin Salman has been the public face of “reforms” that Riyadh has embarked on to diversify its economy and relax some of its laws – such as allowing women to drive, for example – since he became crown prince of Saudi Arabia in 2017.

Asked about discontent with the pace of those reforms and why some Saudis seem afraid to speak to journalists, bin Salman said they shouldn’t be and that only those “extremists” who organize street protests or cooperate with foreign “intelligence agencies” should fear imminent arrest. In the course of “fighting extremism, fighting terrorism” over the past three years, only “about 1,500” people have been arrested, he claimed, comparing it to 50,000 in Turkey after the attempted military coup there.

Anyone shown to have “links with intelligence against Saudi Arabia or extremism or terrorists” will face Saudi law, bin Salman stated. “We have do to this. We cannot fight extremists having 500 or 700 extremists on the streets recruiting people.” He named Iran and Qatar as the main suspects.

While the Salafist Saudi Kingdom has long been at odds with the predominantly Shia Islamic Republic on the other side of the Gulf, relations with Qatar have soured in recent years. Riyadh and its allies declared a blockade of the peninsular monarchy in June 2107, accusing Qatar, the owners of Al Jazeera, of secretly collaborating with Iran and of supporting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and other terrorists. The tensions show no signs of ending anytime soon.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Mon Oct 08, 2018 - Fugitive Prince Calls for Civil Disobedience to Change Saudi Regime
Farsnews

Saudi prince Khalid bin Farhan al-Saud, who has fled to Germany after the empowerment of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, called on people to overthrow the current rulers in Riyadh after the recent murder of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Al-e Saud.

"If the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi is proved, I invite all walks of life in Saudi Arabia to cooperate in a legal measure and change the political system through civil disobedience," Farhan al-Saud wrote on his twitter page on Monday.

He proposed the Saudi people pave the ground for transferring power to Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi King Salman’s younger brother who is in exile in Britain, and form a new government based on the constitution.


Thursday 4 October 2018 - Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance sets Saudi and Turkey up for a fight
Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance sets Saudi and Turkey up for a fight

Turkey and Saudi Arabia, not so long ago close allies on many topics, appear to be braced for a potentially bruising confrontation after the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a leading Saudi dissident and commentator, in Istanbul on Tuesday.

Khashoggi visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, trying to regularise details of his status as a divorcee. He left his fiancée outside the building, holding his mobile telephone and other personal effects. But he seems never to have reappeared at the building’s entrance.

His situation is causing alarm among his family, friends, and newspapers, including the Washington Post, because of fears that he may be the victim of an official kidnapping attempt, similar to earlier ones in which dissident Saudi princes disappeared between 2003 and 2017. Though these disappearances were the subject of a BBC documentary film, Western authorities, notably the Swiss government, showed little interest in their fate.

But as the Turkish media today cover the disappearance of Khashoggi, they are not only mentioning these earlier apparent kidnappings, but also saying clearly that Turkey will not react as tamely as the Swiss did.

Turkish reaction has indeed already been prompt and strong. Within hours of the disappearance of Khashoggi, the news was being broadcast in the national media, including the Anatolia News Agency.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s personal spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, stated clearly that the writer had vanished while in the consulate and that the Turkish authorities believed he was still there. They should know. Embassies are closely guarded in Turkey and movements around them are watched closely by the security forces. There can be no real doubt that Khashoggi could have left without his departure being recorded.

That has not stopped the Saudi consulate general in Istanbul from issuing statements saying that he did leave and, if he has vanished, then it must have happened elsewhere. By doing so, the Saudi authorities may have made a major miscalculation, one which both stretches their credibility to breaking point and whips up an air of mystery about the fate of Khashoggi in the Turkish media and the rest of the world.

There is no mystery about why Saudi officialdom dislikes the highly outspoken Saudi journalist, who is particularly critical of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and head of government.

Khashoggi, who is former editor Saudi daily al-Watan, has also criticised aspects of Salafism, the predominant form of Sunni Islam in the Arabian peninsula, and most recently wrote an article just under six weeks ago for the Washington Post, saying that the United States had been wrong in its opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

This is a message, which may be unwelcome in Saudi Arabia, but helps explain the support for Khashoggi in Turkey after his disappearance. Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is very close, indeed somewhat overlaps with, the Muslim Brotherhood, and it is at loggerheads with Saudi Arabia over the blockade of Qatar in the Gulf and also on the future of Syria.

More generally, Turkey regards Iran as a key regional ally with which it has to stay on good terms. For Saudi Arabia, Iran is of course its main regional adversary.

The ill-feeling is reciprocal. When Crown Prince bin Salman visited the UK earlier this year, he is believed to have made vocal criticism of Erdogan in Whitehall.

Turkey would thus be a highly inappropriate venue for any kind of irregular kidnapping mission of a Saudi dissident and, unless the incident is swiftly resolved, could trigger additional tensions between Turkey and Saudi Arabia with spillover effects in the region.

Turkey’s position is nonetheless an awkward one. The Saudi Arabian consulate-general, like all accredited diplomatic missions over the world, enjoys diplomatic privilege and the Turkish authorities cannot intervene inside it.

However, the building does not count as Saudi Arabian soil. Turkish sovereignty and Turkish laws apply on the mission’s ground just as they do everywhere else in the country. So kidnapping or detaining a national who has legally entered the country would be a serious crime under Turkish law, unless the Turkish authorities were to join with the foreign mission in recognising that they were pursuing a criminal. That is clearly not going to be the case with Jamal Khashoggi.

The most prudent course of action for the Saudis would be to release their captive and hope that the incident can be brushed over. But the repeated denials by the consulate that they are holding Khashoggi suggest that they will not go down that course.

If instead of releasing him, they retain him as a prisoner for any length of time, that fact would probably be apparent fairly swiftly to the Turkish authorities and public, and matters would become much more serious. Indeed there might be a diplomatic breach between the two states since the Saudis would be persisting in a serious offence under Turkish criminal law.

Or – and this is already been speculated on in Turkey – they might try to smuggle their prisoner out of the country. This would be a very high risk strategy unless, as some are suggesting, it has already taken place and he is no longer in Turkey.

There are already claims on Turkish TV of tunnels and other means of smuggling Khashoggi out, probably rather far-fetched. The Saudi authorities say that they are cooperating closely with the Turkish police in the hunt for Kashoggi, so they may not easily be able to refuse to assist them when asked do so so.

Whichever of these courses turns out to be the case, there has now been an international sensation, generating adverse publicity for a country whose human rights record is already frequently under fire.

Inadvertantly, Khashoggi’s critical message about the Saudi government has been got out to a global public which had probably mostly never heard of him before he vanished.


Saturday 6 October 2018 - MBS invites Turkey to search consulate for missing Saudi journalist
MBS invites Turkey to search consulate for missing Saudi journalist

Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Riyadh is willing to allow the Turkish authorities to search its consulate in Istanbul, where dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is suspected to have gone missing.

Khashoggi's whereabouts has been unknown since he visited the consulate to obtain personal documents on Tuesday.

Despite Turkish assertions that the journalist is still inside the consulate, bin Salman insisted that Khashoggi left the building before his apparent disappearance.

"My understanding is he entered and he got out after a few minutes or one hour," he said in an interview with Bloomberg published on Friday. "I'm not sure. We are investigating this through the foreign ministry to see exactly what happened at that time."

He went on to tell the US business publication that the consulate has "nothing to hide".

"We are ready to welcome the Turkish government to go and search our premises. The premises are sovereign territory, but we will allow them to enter and search and do whatever they want to do. If they ask for that, of course, we will allow them," he was quoted as saying.

Asked if Khashoggi is facing any charges at home, bin Salman would not say whether the journalist is wanted by the Saudi authorities.

"If he’s in Saudi Arabia, I would know [if he is facing charges]," he said.

On Friday, the journalist's supporters gathered in front of the consulate in Istanbul to demand his release.

Yemeni activist and 2011 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize Tawakkol Karman slammed Saudi authorities at the gathering, telling the AFP news agency she believed Khashoggi "was kidnapped in this gangster's den that is supposed to be a consulate".

Meanwhile, the Washington Post, to whom Khashoggi was a contributor, left a blank slate on its Opinion page to draw attention to his disappearance. Underneath a photo of Khashoggi, a headline read simply: "A missing voice".


Saturday 6 October 2018 - Turkey opens probe over missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi
Turkey opens probe over missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Turkey has opened an investigation into the case of the missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who has not been seen since going to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul four days ago, Turkey's Anadolu Agency reported on Saturday.


Monday 6 October 2018 - Turkish police suspect Saudi journalist Khashoggi was killed at consulate
Turkish police suspect Saudi journalist Khashoggi was killed at consulate

A senior Turkish police source told MEE that police believed that Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the Saudi government, was "brutally tortured, killed and cut into pieces" inside the consulate after visiting the building on 2 October. "Everything was videotaped to prove the mission had been accomplished and the tape was taken out of the country," the source said.

An unnamed Turkish official told the Reuters news agency that Turkish police believed Khashoggi had been killed and his body then removed from the building.

"The initial assessment of the Turkish police is that Mr Khashoggi has been killed at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. We believe that the murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate," said the official.


Sunday 7 October 2018 - Turkish forensics team poised to probe 'murder' of Saudi journalist Khashoggi
Turkish forensics team poised to probe 'murder' of Saudi journalist Khashoggi

A Turkish forensics team is poised to enter the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi is believed to have been murdered, a source told Middle East Eye.

Turkish authorities suspect that Khashoggi, who disappeared on Tuesday after entering Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, was killed inside the consulate, Turkish sources told MEE and news agencies on Saturday.

On Sunday, a senior adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey has "concrete information" on the abduction of the Washington Post columnist.


Monday 8 October 2018 - Trump 'concerned' about Khashoggi after days of silence
Trump 'concerned' about Khashoggi after days of silence

“I am concerned about it. I don’t like hearing about it,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “Hopefully that will sort itself out. Right now nobody knows anything about it.”


Mon Oct 08, 2018 - Turkey Summons Saudi Ambassador for Second Time over Khashoggi
Farsnews

Turkey has summoned Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Ankara for the second time in less than a week and asked for permission to search the kingdom's consulate for dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi who has disappeared since visiting the mission.
 
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