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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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?

Security Council standing idle to oppressions in world – Erdoğan’s speech to the UN

Not the whole speech– just some thought-provoking excerpts:

erdoğan UNThe UN Security Council currently serves the interests of five permanent members holding veto rights, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Sept. 25. The five members of the Council, the U.S, Russia, China, France and Britain, are “standing idle to the oppressions in other parts of the world,” Erdoğan said in his address to the 73rd session of UN General Assembly.

Erdoğan said the UN has carried out work and achieved considerable successes over its 73-year history.

“However, it is also a fact that over time the United Nations moved away from meeting the expectations of humanity for peace and welfare,” he added. “Those who do not raise their voices against the oppression of the Palestinians [and others], their efforts even to reduce assistance for them, are only increasing the courage of the oppressors,” he added, referring to the recent U.S. decision to cut aid to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

Turkey will continue to stand with the “oppressed” Palestinians and will protect the historical and legal status of Jerusalem, Erdoğan said.

UNSC2

And which country has exercised by far the most vetoes?

“And we believe that when we say ‘the world is bigger than five,’ we become the voice of the common conscience of humanity,” Erdoğan said. “When the assets of the wealthiest 62 people in the world amount to the assets of the half of world’s population of 3.6 billion people, this means there is a problem,” Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan recalled that Turkey hosts 4 million refugees, 3.5 million of which are Syrian, and provides them with services that are “incomparable” elsewhere in the world.

The total amount Turkey has spent for Syrian refugees alone is at $32 billion. Erdoğan said he expects “more abundant and flexible support” for Turkey, which has prevented a large refugee influx to spill over elsewhere in the world, foremost to Europe, thanks to the opportunities the country has provided to refugees.

“I call on all the parties to support a just and sustainable political solution in Syria with a constructive approach. We wish to see a principled approach against terrorist organizations.

jacindas baby

NZ’s Prime Minister at the UN summit, taking a keen interest in key global issues

Hinting at U.S. support for PYD/YPG, the Syrian affiliate of the PKK terror organization, Erdoğan said: “Those who equip terrorists with tens of thousands of trucks and thousands of cargo planes load of arms for the sake of their tactical interests will most definitely feel sorrow in the future.”

Erdoğan said all terrorist organizations do not obtain their power from their armed actions, rather some hide behind “glossy concepts” such as education, welfare and dialogue, and continues operations as NGOs or businesses.

“Through the support of our people, we have eliminated the majority of FETÖ [terrorist organization] in our country.

FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen are accused of orchestrating the defeated coup July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured. Ankara also accuses FETÖ of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

He said countries have heeded Turkey’s warnings and learned from its lessons and are deciphering the organization and expelling it from their lands. However, some states, including the U.S. and European countries, “have not understood the danger”.

“For instance, the amount of funds that the FETÖ terrorist organization receives in 27 U.S. states from the government budget solely by charter schools is $763 million,” he added.

Erdoğan said FETÖ leader Gülen “exports terror” to 160 countries from his residence in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania and urged world nations to be watchful and take action against the terror group.

Erdoğan said trade wars have harmed humanity in every period.

“None of us can remain silent to the arbitrary cancellation of commercial agreements, the spreading prevalence of protectionism and the use of economic sanctions as weapons. “The negative effects of these twisted developments will eventually affect all countries,” he added.

The president called on countries to work together to prevent damage to the world trade regime as a result of such unilateral decisions.

“Today, some countries are persistently trying to create chaos. There is no bigger danger than a world order that has lost mercy, conscience, truth and hope,” Erdoğan added.

S&P, Moody’s lower Turkey’s ratings

Given that they were dishing out high ratings to all and sundry right up to the 2008 crash – and were judged to have been accomplices before the fact – you might want to ask how much their “ratings” can be trusted . . .

credit agencies

Would you buy a used car from these guys?

Two major global ratings agencies lowered Turkey’s ratings Aug. 17, saying they could be upgraded with certain economic improvements.

Standard & Poor’s said it lowered the country’s long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating to ‘B ‘ from ‘BB-‘ while maintaining the outlook at stable.

The agency also said it affirmed the short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings on Turkey at ‘B’.

“We could consider an upgrade if the government successfully devises and implements a credible economic adjustment program that bolsters confidence, stabilizes balance-of-payments flows and brings inflation under control,” the agency said in a statement.

Source

Turks destroy dollars, break iPhones in reaction to US sanctions

Several Turks have had their share of 15 minutes of fame this week when their videos showing their furious reaction to United States sanctions went viral, as they destroyed dollars and broke their iPhones.

Destroy iPhones and dollarsIn one of the most popular videos, a Turkish butcher was seen “mincing” dollar bills, while a businessman from the south-eastern Şanlıurfa province opted to burn them.

In another popular video, a man was seen breaking several iPhones for “reis,” which means “leader,” referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. As he also broke other phones for two cabinet ministers sanctioned by the U.S., six young men behind him were seen calling out, “God is great.”

Source

South America’s ‘Made in the USA’ Growing Crisis–How Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela Are Destabilized

“Destroy the currency is always at the forefront of USA imperialist strategy to drive out populist, democratic governments and re-install pro-Business, pro-US investor governments.”

Well, we know that, of course – but this is a very good detailed analysis of what those b*****ds are doing to the world! And that’s a better use of the word “populist” – which is getting sadly devalued these days by being applied to leaders like the Big DT.

Jack Rasmus

Emerging market economies are heading for an economic implosion. From South America to South Asia conditions are deteriorating rapidly and heading for an even more severe economic crisis in which many are already mired. At the head of this list is Brazil and Argentina. Others increasingly fragile, however, include Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, and even India, which has covered up its weak economic condition, and massive non-performing bank loan problem, by manipulating its GDP to falsely exaggerate its growth rate.

Business pundits, and even some commentators on the ‘left’, argue that emerging market economies, of which all the above are key members, now account for more than half of the world’s GDP. This suggests their vulnerability to US and G7 economies is less than it has been in the past. The so-called advanced economies–i.e. the USA, Japan, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy (the ‘G7–are increasingly irrelevant. But global GDP numbers are…

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“Disembodied Americans and the Crucifixion of the World”

You should read this – even if you know it already, in your heart!

An Outsider's Sojourn II

Image: http://www.azquotes.com

“Our modern society is engaged in polishing and decorating the cage in which man is kept imprisoned.” – — Swami Nirmalananda – Source: Enlightened Anarchism

“I am a person who is unhappy with things as they stand. We cannot accept the world as it is. Each day we should wake up foaming at the mouth because of the injustice of things.”
– Hugo Claus

To the bodiless bloodless insouciant ones, however, the blood of “others” is invisible. It is our lives that matter. What is being done to these “others” is of little consequence because it is experienced as an abstraction – unreal – as if it weren’t happening, even as it is. And in a twist of fate straight from Greek tragedy, those who embrace this delusion are in denial of the very real possibility that they too will be “disappeared” by a nuclear war being provoked…

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