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Is the Saudi Crown Price the Kind of Ally We Need Against Iran?
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There is “sufficient credible evidence” that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the effective ruler of Saudi Arabia, was responsible for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and that he should be investigated according to a UN special rapporteur.

Saudi Arabia first denied government involvement in the murder of Khashoggi after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October. It later admitted the brutal assassination but claimed that it had been the result of “a rogue operation” by a 15-strong Saudi team that was waiting for Khashoggi inside the consular building.

There is a chilling moment in the audio recording of Khashoggi’s last moments quoted in the report when he must have realised that the Saudi security officials gathered around him were intending to kill him.

“There is a towel here,” Khashoggi says. “Are you going to give me drugs?” A man replies, saying: “We will anaesthetise you.” There is the sound of a struggle during which the journalist was murdered and his body afterwards dismembered.

The Saudi government has said that neither the crown prince nor King Salman knew about the killing in advance. Sceptics have pointed that several of the team that flew to Istanbul and went to the consulate came from Prince Mohammed’s inner circle. US officials have said that the operation could not have been carried out without the crown prince’s knowledge.

At a hearing in Washington earlier this year, Republican senator Marco Rubio said the crown prince had gone “full gangster”, an assertion repeated by another Republican senator.

In the report issued today the UN investigator Agnes Callamard confirms that Saudi Arabia was responsible for the “deliberate, premeditated execution”.

The report recommends that the crown prince and his assets should be hit by “targeted sanctions” until evidence “is provided and corroborated that he carries no responsibility for this execution”.

The importance of this cannot be understated. Bin Salman, as the strong man of Saudi Arabia, is playing a central role in escalating the confrontation between the US, backed by Israel, Saudi Arabia and UAE on one side, and Iran and its allies on the other. President Trump is giving full support to Saudi Arabia and accusing Iran of acts of sabotage against shipping in the Gulf, but he will have difficulty in dispelling international suspicions that Saudi Arabia is engaged in some plot to provoke a US-Iran war until the Saudi government explains more convincingly who gave the orders for the Khashoggi murder.

It is not as if the Khashoggi affair stands alone. This was the killing of a single individual, but this week the number of fatalities in Yemen since the Saudi-led military intervention in March 2015 is for the first time accurately reported to be 91,600 deaths by violence since the beginning of that year. This does not include the large numbers of Yemenis who have died as a result of hunger and cholera.


This horrific death toll, the result of a careful count by the US-based Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project organisation, is over the four-and-a-half years since Mohammed bin Salman as defence minister ordered Saudi military action in pursuit of a quick victory against the Houthi rebels. It was widely reported that a motive for launching the war was to enhance Prince Mohammed’s patriotic credentials as he sought to seize all the reins of power in his own hands.

The track record of the effective ruler of Saudi Arabia shows that he frequently looks to violent but ill-judged solutions to problems such as the apparent abduction of the Lebanese prime minister, the incarceration of Saudi businessmen in a hotel, and an escalation of the war in Syria that provoked Russian military intervention.

At the end of 2015, the German intelligence agency BND surprised diplomats in Berlin by publishing a prophetic one-and-a-half-page memo saying that Saudi Arabia had adopted “an impulsive policy of intervention”. It portrayed Prince Mohammed as an out of control political gambler who was destabilising the Arab world. The report was swiftly withdrawn by the Germans, but has turned out to be ahead of its time.

There is a growing bipartisan move against the Trump family’s close links to the crown prince in the US Congress. Governments of other countries vary between fawning over Prince Mohammed and regarding him warily as a political firework which may explode at any moment and in any direction.

Many international leaders will try to ignore the conclusion of the UN report that the death of Khashoggi was “an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible”. But those same leaders should consider the dangers of getting close to a man and a country whose weird and violent policies are a danger to all.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
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  1. A123 says:

    The Fates of Nations impact the lives of millions.

    The manner of death of Muslim Brotherhood members Khashoggi and Morsi are not going to take priority over much larger and more critical international decision making. There is too much at stake.

    Characterizing MBS as a U.S. ally is a bit of an overstatement. The arrangement is more tactically necessary than strategically inevitable.

    The U.S., Saudi, and other nations confront a common threat from Iranian sponsored violence. Iranian extremism including missile development, threats to shipping, and funding for terrorism, destabilizes the entire region.

    Eventually, Iran will be brought back into the fold of civilized nations. At that point expect more separation to develop between Saudi and the U.S. positions.


    • LOL: byrresheim
    • Replies: @anon
  2. Sean says:

    By his misleading reporting from Afghanistan, Jamal Khashoggi created an image of Osama bin Laden as a successful leader of strong forces fighting the Soviets. Khashoggi was close to power but he backed the wrong horse. It is conceivable he may also have known things about 9/11. It was the life he had chosen; live by the sword…

    The track record of the effective ruler of Saudi Arabia shows that he frequently looks to violent but ill-judged solutions to problems such as the apparent abduction of the Lebanese prime minister, the incarceration of Saudi businessmen in a hotel, and an escalation of the war in Syria that provoked Russian military intervention.

    I think it was the lack of appeal the prospect of yet another of Assad’s ruling for decades had for the majority of the population that created the need for intervention in the minds of Assad’s main ally, which was Iran. You must always consider the actions of Iran when considering how Saudi Arabia has been reacting. Saudi Arabia has suffered a series of reverses at the hands of Iran.

    But those same leaders should consider the dangers of getting close to a man and a country whose weird and violent policies are a danger to all.

    American fracking technology has greatly limited Saudi (and Iranian) ability to cause trouble.

  3. Yep, MBS plays hardball and the Magic Kingdom is powder keg primed to blow. What else is new.

    Cockburn always tut-tuts as though there is a proper way to polish a turd or to pick one up by the clean end.

  4. patrick, appears on paper at least to be…….. irony free when writes of his ‘concern’ that the west (usa, england, et al) need worry about the rulers of SA.

    “The track record of the effective ruler of Saudi Arabia shows that he frequently looks to violent but ill-judged solutions to problems such as the apparent abduction of the Lebanese prime minister, the incarceration of Saudi businessmen in a hotel, and an escalation of the war in Syria that provoked Russian military intervention.”

    i submit that you can just as easily substitute saudi arabia in the first sentence with washington or whitehall and the it remains perfectly logical comporting with the evidence these few decades at least.

    indeed bin salman is practically a boy scout in his incompetence and savagery in comparison.

    but then, the faltering chattering class like ruling elites to whom they answer are incomparably kind to themselves thinking the rest of us have lost the ability to think.

  5. ‘Is the Saudi Crown Price the Kind of Ally We Need Against Iran?’

    Why do we want an ally against Iran? Why should we be against Iran at all?

    • Agree: Twodees Partain
    • Replies: @El Dato
    , @Sean
  6. anon[174] • Disclaimer says:

    It’s time to bring you to common sense. decency. anti Zionism and habit of not confusing lies with truths.

    • Agree: animalogic
  7. anon[174] • Disclaimer says:

    Money buys US . US sends some soldiers and few drones . MbS tells his solders that fight will be done by US .

  8. Renoman says:

    The entire World is against attacking Iran, it’s only the USA and Israel that want this. Another prime example of why the World hates America.

    • Replies: @Jake
  9. anon[395] • Disclaimer says:

    The Israeli fears were sparked when Trump suggested in comments from the White House on Thursday that the incident might have been a mistake executed by someone in the Iranian military just being “loose and stupid.”

    • Replies: @El Dato
  10. Jake says:

    And Saudi Arabia and almost all other Sunni princes and the rich Sunnis of every land in the Middle East.

    This war has been in the works since the 19th century, when Brit WASP Elites made a type of truce between the rival camps: 1) those whose philoSemitism was pro-Jewish, and 2) those whose philoSemitism had become pro-Arab/Mohammedan. Getting Israel and Saudi Arabia into the same bed, with Uncle Sam and John Bull, is an ultimate WASP wet dream.

  11. Alliances are based on how they serve nations’ strategic and commercial interests. After the Suez Crisis King Saud saw the Kingdom’s interests best served allied to Washington, moving away from the pro-Soviet President Nasser of Egypt. It is about power. Just like King Saud came to the throne after a struggle with his brother, Faisal, who eventually deposed him. Interests cuts across all apparently unifying principles: family, kin, nation, religion, ideology, politics – everything. We unite with the enemies of our principles, because that is what serves our interests. While interests are arguably vital to any nation, they tend to bring states to the very war those interests are supposed to protect against.

  12. El Dato says:
    @Colin Wright

    The UK is 100% US buttboy, Israeli Gimp and Immivasion testing ground and no longer even hides it, so well, it gets with the program.

  13. El Dato says:

    Oh, Israel is “worried” that the US won’t start a hot war for them about the loss of one of its stupid toys (yet to be paid by US taxpayers)?

    More toxic than a venetian courtesane endeavouring to poison & prostitute herself towards a position of power.

    These people should all die horribly at the hand of their J-Deity.

  14. @Jake

    The Persian intellect is too well developed to remain encumbered by Arab Islam much longer.

    is a human contrivance
    schemed by Arabs
    to militarize Arab imperialism exponentially

    by imposing upon the conquered
    the cult mandate
    to murder or enslave the noncompliant
    as a means to impose Arab male supremacy
    in order to fully facilitate
    the Arab adult male’s unencumbered indulgence
    of his id driven desires
    to inflict himself upon the flesh of others
    via sex and violence.

  15. Sean says:
    @Colin Wright

    Why should we be for them? India has abandoned them. The crucial point is Iran is not investing in Britain the way the Saudis are, Patrick Cockburn was enthusing about the regeneration of Birmingham by young immigrants a couple of posts ago, but he failed to mention that it is Saudi money that is behind the resurgence of Birmingham and Manchester. Saudi money does not smell; the customer is always right.

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
  16. Iran is not an enemy of the United States so no ally is needed. Prince Mohammed, Trump and Bibi flock together because they are birds of a feather.

  17. @Sean

    ‘Why should we be for them?’

    Nobody’s asking you to be for them. It’s merely being suggested that perhaps you shouldn’t starve, bomb, and kill them.

  18. Sean says:

    It’s called war, and it is the reason that separate countries exist.

  19. My country (the US) truly has only one enemy — the Terrorist Theocracy of Eretz Ysrael.

  20. Alden says:

    Leave Iran alone. Every time we rattle our sabers, we get another gazillion Iranian alleged refugees here with their crooked little businesses that somehow manage to generate enough money in 2 years for the 5 million dollar homes and fleet of BMWs and Mercedes.

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