Search for justice in the Kashoggi case? How sincere are leaders in the West?

We Must Use the Global Magnitsky Act to Punish the Killers of Jamal Khashoggi

As details emerge of what happened to Jamal Khashoggi, one can’t help but be truly terrified.

Teresa and saud salman

What have you got to say, Trees? Apparently they’re just good friends

Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen who was an outspoken critic of his government, went to his country’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct.2 to pick up a document showing he was divorced so he could marry his fiancée. He did not emerge, and has not been seen since. Little has been independently confirmed, but the Turkish government claims Saudi agents tortured, killed, and dismembered Khashoggi, and fled the country, carrying his remains.

If it is shown that Khashoggi was indeed murdered in this grotesque way, this presents a fundamental challenge to the civilized world. He was a Washington Post journalist, a respected member of the international community, and he was in a NATO-member country trying to start a new life. If what is alleged turns out to be true, and the Saudis get away with Khashoggi’s grisly murder on Turkish soil, then it will give a green light to any thin-skinned ruler to go ahead and assassinate critics without fear of consequences.

saudi palace

$300 million Saudi-owned chateau in France

Although our policy tools are limited, there is a way to create consequences for this kind of atrocity: the Global Magnitsky Act. This is a piece of legislation that has the power to freeze assets and ban visas of gross human rights abusers from anywhere in the world. It was named after my Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered a massive Russian government corruption scheme in 2008.

He bravely exposed the officials involved, was subsequently arrested by some of the very people he testified against, tortured for 358 days, and killed in November 2009 in Russian police custody. Versions of the Global Magnitsky Act now exist in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It is currently on the agenda in the European Union.

Saudi plane

Saudi private jet – $500 million Airbus A380

The Global Magnitsky Act is like a modern-day cancer drug. Instead of targeting the whole body, it specifically targets the cancer cells. In this case, instead of sanctioning an entire country and punishing innocent citizens for crimes of the regime, the Global Magnitsky Act goes directly after the individuals who made the criminal decisions and carried them out. It has been successfully used against Burmese generals, Nicaraguan security operatives, and the Russian officials responsible for killing Sergei Magnitsky.

Now, almost every lawmaker on the Senate Foreign Relations committee is pushing for the Trump administration to use Global Magnitsky Sanctions on whoever is found responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance and/or murder. If the Turkish reports are confirmed, then we in the West must act.

Saudi yacht

$134 million Saudi yacht

Applying the Global Magnitsky Act to Saudi officials would be particularly powerful. These officials are extremely rich, and they keep their money all over the world. They have bank accounts in every major financial capital, and they own luxury properties in London, Paris, and New York.

The moment that a person is added to a Magnitsky List in the West, it destroys their way of life. Every financial institution will close their account, and they will be denied entry to every desirable area in the world. While asset freezes and travel bans don’t constitute real justice for pre-meditated murder, they’re a lot better than total impunity.

saudi cars

Fleet of gold-plated Saudi cars

Saudi girlfriends

Saudi girlfriends on board the yacht. Don’t know how much they cost

This is a defining moment in our history. We can either allow savagery to rule the world, or use the tools we’ve created to maintain civilization and stability. The United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe must impose Global Magnitsky sanctions on the Saudi officials who carried out and sanctioned this atrocity — even if the buck stops at the very top.

Source: Time

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“Kashoggi interrogated, tortured and then murdered.”

Recordings prove Jamal Khashoggi was killed, Turkish investigators claim

Sources say audio and video evidence show journalist died at Saudi consulate in Istanbul

saudi

Friends of the USA – Don’t upset them!

Turkish investigators have claimed video and audio recordings exist that prove Jamal Khashoggi was killed, a sign that Ankara is willing to keep up the pressure on Riyadh to back up its claims it has nothing to do with the dissident journalist’s disappearance.

US government officials told the Washington Post late on Thursday that their Turkish counterparts claimed the recordings from 2 October proved Khashoggi was murdered and his body dismembered during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up marriage paperwork.

The alleged audio evidence – which Turkish sources have also suggested exists in comments to the Guardian – is particularly strong, according to officials.

“You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic,” a source told the Washington Post. “You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.”

Read more

United States spin-doctors – Have they no shame? More on Jamal Kashoggi

I always hated that English expression “gobsmacked”, meaning “shocked beyond the point of incredulity”.

Nevertheless, I have to accept that the word can serve a purpose – and I was pretty close to smacking my gob as I read this article in Time online about the disappearance of rebel Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi.

Kashoggi’s disappearance is attracting some media attention since he entered the door of the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, and hasn’t been seen since. I’ve already posted the Turkish version of the story – but here is, I guess, the beginning of the US spin.

There is a saying in Turkish “Hem suçlu, hem güçlü”– which means something like: “Guilty as hell but toughing it out.” While reading the following, keep in mind that the unelected royal family of Saudi Arabia are close allies of the United States, and currently using weapons supplied by Washington to bomb the bejabers out of poor little Yemen. Don’t lose sight of the fact that: “Since the September 11 attacks, the United States government has carried out drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Libya.

US drone strikes4

This is just Pakistan

Drone strikes are part of a targeted killing campaign against jihadist militants; however, non-combatant civilians have also been killed in drone strikes. Determining precise counts of the total number killed, as well as the number of non-combatant civilians killed, is impossible; and tracking of strikes and estimates of casualties are compiled by a number of organizations.” (Wikipedia)

“As Donald Trump assumes office today, he inherits a targeted killing program that has been the cornerstone of U.S. counterterrorism strategy over the past eight years. On January 23, 2009, just three days into his presidency, President Obama authorized his first kinetic military action: two drone strikes, three hours apart, in Waziristan, Pakistan, that killed as many as twenty civilians. Two terms and 540 strikes later, Obama leaves the White House after having vastly expanding and normalizing the use of armed drones for counterterrorism and close air support operations in non-battlefield settings—namely Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia.” (The Council on Foreign Relations)

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These are extracts from the Time article:

Jamal Khashoggi’s Disappearance Comes as Autocrats Are Growing Bolder in their Brutality

As of Oct. 10, the assumption is that the Saudi regime took the opportunity to silence one of its more prominent critics.

The mystery is how. Turkish authorities, albeit not the most trusted bunch themselves, believe Khashoggi was murdered inside the building by a team of 15 operatives, his corpse dismembered and transported outside in boxes. The Saudis claim he left alive and have pledged to investigate—though few believe a Saudi regime that has long been unafraid to detain or punish dissidents.

Although the murder of a critic on foreign soil would, if confirmed, be an unprecedented act even for a brutal kingdom,it fits within a larger pattern. Across the world, authoritarian countries like Saudi Arabia have developed a rising sense of impunity when it comes to human rights and the rule of international law. Behavior once hidden behind palace doors now happens beyond borders and in the full view of the world.

Take China. Aside from the legion of human-rights abuses committed inside its own borders, including the detention of 1 million Uighurs, Beijing arrested Meng Hongwei, who as head of Interpol was a symbol of the international rule of law. Both have been ensnared by an antigraft campaign that President Xi Jinping and his regime have used to target critics and rivals. Russia too has taken its crackdown on dissenters global, most recently with the brazen poisoning attempt on former double agent Sergei Skripal in the U.K. 

This is happening with the implicit acceptance of the U.S., which under President Donald Trump has rejected its role as a champion of universal values like human rights.

But Trump is only one facet of this diminution of the U.S. as a moral lodestar for the world. . . A century of moral diplomacy begun by Woodrow Wilson is coming to an end under Trump.

The U.S. Congress may yet do so. And if Khashoggi’s murder can be confirmed, then economic sanctions will likely follow. But defending and spreading liberal values requires a more patient approach than crude dollar diplomacy.

Worryingly, this trend toward impunity comes as voters worldwide seem more attracted to strongmen and dictators.

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Pardon my lapse of memory – When exactly was it that “the U.S. [w]as a moral lodestar for the world”?

Oh, sorry, I see . . . apparently “A century of moral diplomacy [was] begun by Woodrow Wilson”, but “under President Donald Trump has rejected its role as a champion of universal values like human rights”.

gobsmacked-810x540

Are you as gobsmacked as me?

What’s going on with Jamal Kashoggi?

Apparently, the Trump administration have offered to send FBI agents to Istanbul to “help” with the investigation. An article I’ve just read in Time says:

jamal-khashoggi-protest

Protesting the disappearance in Istanbul

“the assumption is that the Saudi regime took the opportunity to silence one of its more prominent critics.

The mystery is how. Turkish authorities, albeit not the most trusted bunch themselves, believe Khashoggi was murdered inside the building by a team of 15 operatives, his corpse dismembered and transported outside in boxes.”

What can you say to that? The FBI couldn’t stop 9/11, even when they had strong evidence it was coming! And you can’t trust Turkish authorities?! On the other hand, of course, you can totally trust US authorities, and British, and New Zealand, and Australian . . .

Well, if you’d like to see what the Turkish investigation has turned up so far, check this out – and then decide for yourself who to trust.

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Apple Watch ‘at heart of investigation’ on missing Saudi journalist Khashoggi

Two senior Turkish officials revealed the existence of an object that may provide important clues to the fate of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who disappeared in Istanbul last week: The black Apple watch he was wearing when he entered his country’s consulate.

The watch was connected to a mobile phone he left outside, Reuters quoted the Turkish officials as saying on Oct. 10.

Did-the-Saudis-chop-up-journalist-Jamal-Khashoggi-and-sneak-his-body-from-their-consulate-in-bags

“Will you come into my parlor?” said the spider to the fly . . .

Khashoggi, a veteran Saudi journalist and newspaper editor, had lived in exile in Washington for more than a year, writing a column for the Washington Post in which he regularly criticised his country’s crackdown on dissent, its war in Yemen and sanctions imposed on Qatar.

He said he could write freely in the United States in a way that was impossible at home, according to friends and colleagues, but he was increasingly worried that Riyadh could hurt him or his family.

In Turkey, though, Khashoggi had friends in high places, including some of President Tayyip Erdoğan’s advisers. So when he walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 2, he hoped the appointment would be brief, a simple bureaucratic task that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancee, whom he had met four months earlier.

“He said the safest country in the world for Saudi Arabians was Turkey,” said Yasin Aktay, an Erdoğan aide and close friend of Khashoggi.

Friends and family have not seen him since.

Turkish officials have said they believe Khashoggi, 59, was killed inside the consulate.

Read more

Saudi journalist murdered, dismembered and “disappeared” in Turkey

JAMAL-ONE-At this stage Saudi official sources are denying it – but it seems increasingly likely that veteran journalist Jamal Kasshoggi was lured into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, murdered and smuggled in pieces out of the building.

Kashoggi had been living in the United States and writing articles critical of the Saudi regime which were published in the Washington Post and elsewhere.

President Erdoğan says following case of missing Saudi journalist Khashoggi ‘personally’

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said on Oct. 7 he was “personally” following the case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared last week, and added that he still hoped for a positive outcome to the matter.

“Whatever comes of this, we will be the ones to declare it to the world,” the president said, while answering reporters’ questions in the capital Ankara. “It is very, very upsetting for us that it happened in our country,” he said.

A presidential adviser said on Oct. 7 that Khashoggi had not left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in “normal ways.” Turkish authorities have concrete information on Khashoggi’s disappearance and the case would not go unsolved, Yasin Aktay told broadcaster CNN Türk.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported on the night of Oct. 6 that Turkish investigators believe Khashoggi was killed in “a preplanned murder” at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, citing two anonymous officials.

Kashoggi

It’s probably too late for that!

One Turkish official also told The Associated Press that detectives’ “initial assessment” was that Khashoggi was killed at the consulate, without elaborating. Saudi authorities early Oct. 7 called the allegation “baseless.”

Khashoggi, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. for the last year, vanished on Oct. 2 while on a visit to the consulate.

The Post cited one anonymous official who said investigators believe a 15-member team “came from Saudi Arabia.” The official added: “It was a preplanned murder.”

Khashoggi, 59, went missing while on a visit to the consulate in Istanbul for paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancée. The consulate insists the writer left its premises, contradicting Turkish officials.

saudi1As a contributor to the Post, Khashoggi has written extensively about Saudi Arabia, including criticizing its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women’s rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving. All those issues have been viewed as being pushed by Prince Mohammed, who similarly has led roundups of activists, businessmen and others in the kingdom.

“With young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s rise to power, he promised an embrace of social and economic reform,” Khashoggi wrote in his first column for the Post. “But all I see now is the recent wave of arrests.”

Khashoggi maintained ties with Saudi elites, including those in its intelligence apparatus, and launched a satellite news channel, Al-Arab, from Bahrain in 2015 with the backing of Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

The channel was on air for less than 11 hours before it was shut down. Its billionaire backer was detained in the Ritz Carlton roundup overseen by Prince Mohammed in 2017.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, the Connecticut Democrat who sits on the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, expressed shock over the news.

“If this is true—that the Saudis lured a U.S. resident into their consulate and murdered him—it should represent a fundamental break in our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” Murphy wrote on Twitter.saudi arabia

Who are Turkey’s friends in the Arab world?

This opinion piece appeared today in our English language daily, Hürriyet Daily News:

Anti-Turkish sentiment among Saudi Arabia’s rulers has reached such a peak that they recently banned Turkish TV series. The cost of the broadcast deals for the six series is said to be around $50 million, but still the Saudi authorities removed them from their TV channels.

first-saudi-king-issues-decree-allowing-women-drive

Friends of the USA and Israel making great strides n the road to democracy!

The way of life represented in those series must have been perceived as “too modern” for Saudi Arabia. After all, the Saudis present allowing women to drive as a “reform” and “moderation” to the world!

Anti-Turkey sentiment

The political moves are even more remarkable.

Speaking to journalists in Egypt, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman reportedly referred to Turkey, Iran and Qatar as an “axis of evil.” He also opted to lash out at “the Ottomans.”

Saudi Arabia was perhaps the key sponsor of the 2013 military coup in Egypt, transferring $5 billion to the putschists overnight after the takeover was complete. That was the same amount as the Muslim Brotherhood had [requested] from the International Monetary Fund.

The Ankara government condemned the coup in Egypt and took a stance against Egypt on every possible subsequent occasion. As a result, Egypt is today fertile ground for criticizing Turkey.

[However] By looking at all these events and incidents, we should not slip into thinking “the Arabs are our enemies.” Such a mindset would make it difficult for us to develop any healthy relationships with Arab countries.

UK saudi relations

UK PM Theresa may welcomes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman

Contrary to popular belief, the founders of the Republic of Turkey did not turn their back on the Arabs. They did not interfere in their affairs but focused on developing good relations with them. Atatürk hosted King Abdullah*, the son of Sharif Hussein.

Both history and the present day advise us to develop equal diplomatic and economic relations without taking sides in the internal feuds of the Arabs, and without evoking any reference to the Ottomans.

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  • King Abdullah’s Arab revolt against the Ottoman government in 1916 was encouraged by the British government. His struggle for Arab independence, however, turned them against him, and he was overthrown by the ibn Saud family, with British support.
  • Moral of the story: Don’t put your trust in imperialists.

‘US mercenaries’ hired to ‘torture’ Saudi royals

Well, I now you’ll tell me the UK’s Daily Mail is not everyone’s first choice for sourcing reliable news stories. On the other hand, I have to tell you, I’m pretty sceptical about the reliability of the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the UK’s very own Guardian and Daily Telegraph. So where does that leave us?

Saudi USAThis item is all over the web, although the source seems to be the same – some guy tweeted, twittered, or whatever whistle-blowers do these days, that Saudi princes and billionaire businessmen arrested in a power grab earlier this month are being strung up by their feet and beaten by American private security contractors.”

“According to sources quoted by Dailymail, ‘Blackwater’ has been named as the firm involved, and the claim of its presence in Saudi Arabia has also been made on Arabic social media, and by Lebanon’s president.

“Lebanese authorities have unconfirmed information that the Blackwater firm is guarding Hariri and his family – not official Saudi security forces,” tweeted Michel Aoun, the President of Lebanon, last Wednesday.

A high-profile Saudi whistleblower, one who is said to have inside information, also claimed Salman has brought in at least 150 ‘Blackwater’ guards. “The first group of Blackwater mercenaries arrived in Saudi Arabia a week after the toppling of bin Nayef [Salman’s predecessor as crown prince]”, he tweeted.

Saudi & hillary“One of the most important tasks of these aggregates are escorting and guarding bin Salman (especially confidential visits) and implementation of important and sensitive commands in addition to guarding the Princes and officials cut the ways their communication with the outside world.”

The source confirmed that the name ‘Blackwater’ is being circulated as the company providing the mercenaries; the controversial private security company, however, no longer exists under that name and is now known as Academi.

A spokesperson for Constellis, Academi’s parent company, denied the claims. The spokesperson told Dailymail that it has no presence in Saudi Arabia and does not carry out interrogations. “Constellis through Academi does not now or have we ever provided interrogative services,’ they said.

‘We do not provide security services in KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), we have no contact or connection with any government official or private party regarding this allegation.’

index-1-e1510746655829When asked if Academi workers were involved in any kind of violence during these interrogations, the spokesperson said: ‘No. Academi has no presence in KSA. We do not have interrogators, nor do we provide any interrogators, advisors or other similar services.’

They added: ‘Academi does not participate in interrogative services for any government or private customer. Academi has a zero tolerance policy for violence. We operate legally, morally, ethically and in compliance with local and US laws.’

A zero tolerance policy for violence! Blackwater! Words fail me!

So what do I take from all this? Saudi Arabia has some very serious internal ideological problems. The ruling elite have been stooges of Britain and the United States since their oil rich desert land achieved “independence” after the Ottoman Empire vanished at the end of the First World War.

Saudi Arabia contains within its borders the two holiest sites of the Muslim religion: Mecca and Medina. Their state religion is an extremist Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam. A good number of devout Saudi Muslims are seriously outraged by their governing royal family’s venal relationship with the United States of America and their grasping capitalist overlords. They are further outraged by the fact that the USA has military bases on their holy land.

5b86ed125e68cba0a17be861f531442f--political-cartoons-atheismThe September 11, 2001 attack on the United States, if it wasn’t actually perpetrated by the Bush administration for their own nefarious purposes, was, at the very least, carried out by Saudi Arabian nationals, the most notorious of which was Osama bin Laden, scion of one of Saudi Arabia’s wealthiest families.

After US President Trump visited Saudi Arabia in May this year, the Saudi government joined forces with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to implement a trade embargo on their Arab neighbour Qatar. We can be sure there were many voices within the Saudi kingdom raised against this action.

If I were a betting man I would say this is a power play within Saudi Arabia by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, supported by the United States and Israeli governments to get rid of dissenting voices and ensure that the kingdom continues to be a loyal ally and supplier of oil into the future. What do you think?