Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

Relations with the Saudis were at stake as the US released its findings on the killings | Instant News

The United States has promised to inform the world of its conclusions about what role the crown prince of Saudi Arabia played in the brutal murder and dismemberment of a US-based journalist, but what matters is what happens next – what the Biden administration is planning about it. .

In the lead-up to the release of unclassified US intelligence reports and the announcement of US punitive measures, President Joe Biden spoke with Saudi King Salman on Thursday for the first time since taking office more than a month ago. It was a slower than usual call of honor to Middle Eastern allies, a time seen as reflecting Biden’s displeasure. However, the White House reading made no mention of the murder or the report.

The talks were overshadowed by findings expected to be released soon on whether the king’s son approved the killing of Jamal Khashoggi on October 2, 2018, a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s consolidation of authoritarian rule, inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. US intelligence agencies concluded in 2018 that the prince most likely ordered the killings, a finding that was reported by the news media but never officially released.

The White House said Biden on Thursday discussed with King Salman the two countries’ “long-term partnership” and welcomed the recent release from the kingdom of the rights of women and several other political prisoners.

The language contrasts with Biden’s pledge as a candidate to turn Saudi Arabia a “pariah” for the killings. The White House did not provide a direct explanation for his gentler tone to the king.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency also made no mention of Khashoggi’s killing in a report on calls between Biden and King Salman, instead focusing on regional issues such as Iran and the ongoing war in Yemen.

The King and Biden stressed “the depth of relations between the two countries and the importance of strengthening the partnership between them to serve their interests and achieve security and stability in the region and the world,” the report said.

Critics of the prince, including rights groups set up by slain journalists, want him to fulfill that promise with sanctions or other crackdowns that target and isolate the prince. They fear Biden will walk away in condemnation instead, avoiding a perpetual impasse with the possible future ruler of an important, but often difficult, US strategic ally that is rewarded both for its oil reserves and its status as Iran’s counterweight in the Middle East.

The murder provoked bipartisan outrage. Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas said on Thursday he expected Biden to speak to the king “very honestly about it, and very emphatically, and say this is unacceptable”. Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia said he understood the government was considering new sanctions to accompany the report’s release. “So it’s a day of reckoning, but it’s long overdue.”

The report’s findings, and Biden’s next steps, will at least set the tone for the administration to deal with the ambitious 35-year-old prince.

Critics blame Mohammed bin Salman for the royal imprisonment and alleged torture of peaceful rights advocates, businessmen and other royals at home and for launching a devastating war in neighboring Yemen and a failed economic blockade against neighboring Qatar, among other measures.

Mohammed bin Salman has consolidated power rapidly since his father, Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, in his 80s, became king in 2015. Salman is one of the last sons of the original founder of modern Saudi Arabia.

Given his age and the longevity of Saudi royals, the prince could rule for the next half century if he follows his aging father to the throne.

“This happens in the span of two or three years – just imagine what will happen in the next 40 years if they allow him to rule,” Abdullah al Oudh, a Saudi man who has received asylum in the United States after Saudi Arabia jailed al Ayah Oudh. in 2017 over a tweet urging Saudi reconciliation with Qatar, said Thursday.

“This man … sees the world as the stage for his failed operation,” said Oudh, director of Gulf research for Democracy for the Arab World Now, a rights group that Khashoggi founded shortly before his assassination.

A spokesman for the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday. Saudi officials say Khashoggi’s murder was the work of rogue Saudi security and intelligence officials.

The prince said in 2019 he took “full responsibility” for the killing because it took place under his watch, but denied ordering it.

The US intelligence findings come more than two years after Khashoggi walked hand in hand with his fiancé to the Saudi consulate in Turkey. She plans to take documents for their marriage.

The task was recorded by surveillance cameras tracking his route and those of his suspected killer in Istanbul hours before his murder.

Inside the consulate, Khashoggi died at the hands of more than a dozen Saudi and other security and intelligence officials who had gathered prior to his arrival.

A Turkish bug planted in the embassy reportedly picked up the sound of a forensic saw, operated by a Saudi military colonel who is also a forensic expert, dismembering Khashoggi’s body within an hour of entering the building. The whereabouts of his remains are still unknown.

Much of the damage from the killing of Khashoggi, a gregarious and respected Saudi journalist with influential supporters in the United States and around the world, has been absorbed by US-Saudi relations.

After taking office, Biden said he would maintain any scale of relations with Saudi Arabia that US interests required. He also ordered an end to US support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen and said he would stop selling offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia. He gave few details about what weapons and support he meant.

Asked how the release of the findings would affect Biden’s approach to Saudi Arabia, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday that a number of options were on the table.

“There are areas where we will raise concerns and leave accountability options open,” said Psaki. “There are also areas where we will continue to work with Saudi Arabia, given the threats they face in the region.”

Congress in 2019 demanded the report’s findings be released, but the Trump administration refused. The Biden administration agreed to release an unclassified version.

A Saudi Arabian court last year announced that it had sentenced eight Saudi nationals to prison for the killing of Khashoggi. They were not identified.


Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani in Chicago contributed to this report.


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Editorial: The Biden Middle East Exam | Editorial | Instant News

The Abraham Accords between Israel, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and the United States has been hailed as the first positive step towards peace in the Middle East in two decades and a major setback for Iran’s clearly stated ambitions for regional domination.

The Biden government says it supports the deal. But early action by President Joe Biden raised questions about that commitment and led to renewed friction in the region.

Israel and Saudi Arabia are both critical to the deal’s success. The Saudi government is expected to join them and normalize diplomatic relations with Israel because of shared concerns about Iranian aggression in the region.

But in one of his first acts as president, Biden suspended US support for Saudi Arabia in its war with Iranian-backed rebels in neighboring Yemen who launched missile attacks on Saudi territory. And Biden delayed talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu until Wednesday, a four-week silence that Israel sees as deliberate insult.

There are valid reasons for both decisions.

The decision on Yemen can be seen as a humanitarian move to promote a ceasefire. But the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen has been caused by Houthi rebels accused of diverting humanitarian aid and endangering 2 million civilians, according to United Nations officials in Yemen. The Houthis are supported and supplied by Iran.

Of course there is a moral imperative for the United States to make it clear that it does not accept the killing of a Saudi journalist by the Saudi government linked to The Washington Post. And there are many reasons for the president to prefer dealing with someone other than the controversial Netanyahu, who is facing a tense re-election campaign in a divided country.

But in diplomacy, small gestures can have a large spillover effect.

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Iran, for example, reads that Mr Biden does not place high marks on the Trump administration’s commitments, thus exerting pressure to get our president to make big concessions.

Iran announced plans to halt international inspections of most of its nuclear facilities, during which it has continued enriching uranium to 20% – the most time-consuming stage in the production of nuclear weapons materials.

At the same time, a militia group in Iraq, reportedly linked to Iran, claimed a missile attack on Irbil airport on February 15 that killed a contractor working for the US government and injured several others, including a US soldier. This looks like a warning by Iran that it may again inflame Iraq in an attempt to expel American troops.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the United States was furious about the attacks and promised retaliation if and when the attackers were identified. But he did not say the United States would hold Iran accountable for such an attack.

Iran’s response to Biden’s actions was not to seek new cooperation. Instead, it uses threats. Its recent actions to resume nuclear material production and almost completely withdraw from international inspections are worrying.

The new administration has said until Iran complies with conditions, it will not lift US sanctions and rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran negotiated by President Barack Obama and China, France, Russia, Britain, Germany and the European Union. Iran has replied that unless the United States lifts the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration when it leaves the agreement, it will deem the deal dead. On Thursday, Iran rejected the EU’s offer to mediate talks with the US

President Donald Trump is right that Iran is a major threat to Middle East peace and stability and must be resisted.

If the Obama deal cannot prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and if re-entering the deal and ending sanctions will strengthen Iran’s economy and its ability to wreak havoc in the Middle East, then it would be better to leave the deal dead and dependent on deterrence. keep nuclear peace. Sanctions should only be lifted when Iran agrees not to pursue nuclear weapons and also ends its ballistic missile development and destabilizing activities in the Middle East. The deal is still a long way off.


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Croatia has shown interest in F-35 jets, Lockheed executives said | Instant News

WASHINGTON, February 19 (Reuters) – Lockheed Martin Co., the United States’ biggest arms maker, has raised interest from Croatia regarding the purchase of stealth F-35 jets, a Lockheed executive said on Friday.

Greg Ulmer, executive vice president of Lockheed’s Aeronautics unit, told reporters “they have shown interest” in buying the jets, which make up a large share of Lockheed’s revenue.

Croatia is evaluating US, French and Swedish bids for fighter jets as it looks set to modernize its air force, which now flies Russian-made MiG-21 jets dating from the past in former Yugoslavia.

Croatia wanted to buy 12 second-hand F-16 fighter jets from Israel, but failed after Israel said it here in 2019 could not get approval from the United States for the sale.

Other international customers for the fifth-generation F-35 include Canada, Finland and Switzerland, who are running competitions for future jet purchases. Additional customer prospects for the Lockheed F-35 include Greece, Spain, Eastern Europe and Middle Eastern countries, Ulmer said in a media conference call.

Lockheed has also seen international interest for as many as 300 fourth-generation F-16 fighters on top of its current production stockpile of 128 jets, Ulmer said. (Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington, DC; Editing by Dan Grebler)


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Mohammed bin Salman: The US defense minister summoned the Saudi crown prince, reaffirming the strategic relationship | Instant News

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin talk to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, said state media on Friday, a few days after White House said it would deal with the king, not his heirs, and US officials would engage their counterparts in the kingdom.

Crown Prince Mohammed, who is also Saudi Defense Minister, is reviewing bilateral relations with Austin, particularly in defense cooperation, state news agency SPA said.

Austin reiterated the importance of a strategic defense partnership between the two countries, and said the United States was committed to helping Riyadh defend itself, condemning the attacks launched on the kingdom by the Houthis in Yemen.

Austin said in a statement that he has a productive calling.

“We discussed ongoing commitments for 70 years of the US-Saudi security partnership, and I look forward to working together to achieve regional security & stability,” he said.

US President Joe Biden said this week he plans to recalibrate relations with the US Saudi Arabia and will conduct diplomacy through Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz rather than the powerful crown prince, widely referred to as MBS.

Biden returned to “counterpart to counterpart” engagement, the White House said.

The Saudis have led a military coalition fighting the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen since early 2015.

Austin thanked MBS for Saudi efforts towards a political solution in Yemen and said the two countries share a common commitment to confronting the threat posed by Iran’s leadership in the region, said the SPA report from the meeting.

MbS is considered by many to be the kingdom’s de facto leader and is next in line to the throne held by 85-year-old King Salman. MbS’s dignity took a hit after the journalist’s murder Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 in the hands of Saudi security personnel thought to be close to the crown prince.

Former US President Donald Trump maintains steady contact with the crown prince through his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.


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Joint Statement by Foreign Ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Britain and the United States – Rocket attack in Erbil (16 February 2021) | Instant News

We, the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Great Britain and the United States strongly condemn the February 15 rocket attack on Iraq’s Kurdistan Region. We extend our condolences to the victims, their families and the Iraqi people. Together, our governments will support the Government of Iraq’s investigation into the attacks with a view to holding those responsible to account. We are united in our view that attacks on the US and Coalition personnel and facilities will not be tolerated.


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