Tag Archives: the middle East

‘Hold MBS accountable’: World reacts to US Khashoggi report | Jamal Khashoggi news | Instant News

The US intelligence agency has conclude in a new report that killed Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed by a Saudi assassination squad operating under the command of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

An unclassified report released on Friday confirmed the role of a top US intelligence official trusted by Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler in the 2018 killing of Khashoggi.

“We consider that Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to arrest or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” said the Office of the Director of US National Intelligence.

“Since 2017, the Crown Prince has absolute control over the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organizations, so it is highly unlikely that Saudi officials would carry out such an operation without the Crown Prince’s permission.”

The 59-year-old is a columnist for the Washington Post newspaper which has criticized the Saudi government. He was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

Saudi officials deny MBS had a role in the killing.

Here’s how the world reacted to the release of the four-page report.

Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

In a statement carried by the Saudi state news agency SPA, the kingdom’s foreign ministry said: “The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia completely rejects … the assessment in the report relating to the leadership of the Kingdom, noting that the report contains inaccurate information and conclusions. “

United Arab Emirates:

The UAE defends Saudi Arabia’s position, the UAE state news agency WAM reported on Saturday.

The UAE foreign ministry “expressed its confidence and support for the verdict of the Saudi court, which affirmed the kingdom’s commitment to implement the law in a transparent and impartial manner, and hold all involved in this case to account”, said WAM.

Great Britain:

The British foreign office insists that Britain has always made it clear that “the murder of Jamal Khashoggi is a terrible crime”.

In a statement, it said: “We call for a thorough, credible and transparent investigation to hold them accountable and impose sanctions on the 20 Saudis involved in the killing.

“The Minister of Foreign Affairs raised this issue during his visit to Riyadh last year, and we continue to raise it in our engagement with the Saudi government.”


Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said it had “taken note of” US intelligence reports, while also noting that the Saudi Arabian government had called Khashoggi’s murder a “disgusting crime”.

“The Saudi government further underlines that they are taking all possible measures in its legal system to ensure that the individuals responsible are investigated, punished and sentenced and justice is served. Pakistan acknowledges Saudi efforts in this regard and expresses solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, “the ministry said in a statement.

“Pakistan underlines adherence to the rule of law, respect for national sovereignty, and the protection and promotion of human rights by all countries, in accordance with the framework of the Constitution and their respective international obligations,” he added.

UN Human Rights Investigator Agnes Callamard:

In a Facebook post, Agnes Callamard, the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said the US must take the lead in ensuring accountability.

“With the release of the US report, which confirms the guilt of Saudi officials at the highest level, the United States must now take the lead in ensuring accountability for these crimes and to establish international mechanisms to prevent and punish such acts in the future. , ”Wrote Callamard.

“The United States government should impose sanctions on the Crown Prince, as it has done with other perpetrators – targeting his personal assets but also his international involvement,” he added.

“I asked the government of Saudi Arabia to reveal whether the bodies were destroyed on the spot or how and where they were dumped. Those in charge know very well the specifics and, in the face of the unreasonable Saudi silence, the international community must exert pressure for full disclosure of all the facts. “

US Democratic House of Representatives Chair:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi urged the US government to re-evaluate its relationship with Saudi Arabia.

“The United States government must re-evaluate and recalibrate relations with Saudi Arabia in light of the findings of this report, which are part of a disturbing pattern of human rights violations from the Kingdom,” Pelosi said in a statement.

“The United States Congress supports President Biden in promoting transparency regarding human rights abuses and in supporting partnerships that advance our security, uphold our values ​​and protect our interests. We support the steps taken by the Administration to hold Saudi Arabia accountable, including relating to the Global Magnitsky and denial of visas for human rights violators. “

Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff:

Democratic Congressman and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said MBS had “blood on his hands”.

“The Biden administration must find a way to ensure the impact of Khashoggi’s brutal murder goes beyond those who committed it, to the person who ordered it – the crown prince himself,” said Schiff.

“He has blood on his hands and it belongs to an American and a journalist. The president must not meet with the Crown Prince, or speak to him, and the government should consider sanctions on assets in the Saudi Public Investment Fund he controls that have links to the crime. “

Democratic Party Congressman Ilhan Omar

While he welcomes the intelligence report as a “long overdue honest report on the brutality and lawlessness” of MBS, Democratic Party congressman Ilhan Omar said there must be “immediate consequences” for the Saudi Crown Prince and plans to introduce a new bill that will work. . to impose sanctions on him.

“In the coming days, I plan to introduce a bill to impose sanctions on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his role in these and other human rights abuses,” he said in a statement. statement.

“The United States must consistently defend human rights and human dignity around the world – not just when it’s convenient.”

Democracy for the Arab World Today:

Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), the US-based rights group founded by Khashoggi, thanked the Biden government for “transparency” but pressed for the imposition of sanctions on MBS.

“Thank you, Joe Biden, for being transparent about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Now we need sanctions on the Saudi prince who is responsible. “

The group’s Executive Director Sarah Leah Whitson said in a statement: “Today’s DNI report confirms what we have long known to be true: Mohammed Bin Salman ordered the execution of Jamal Khashoggi.

“President Biden must now fulfill his promise to hold MBS accountable for this murder by, at the very least, imposing the same sanctions on him as those imposed on his subordinates and ending arms transfers to Saudi Arabia which will be controlled by the unelected, brutal ones. killer.”

He added: “The release of the DNI report is only a small part of the evidence we are seeking from the US government about Khashoggi’s murder, including regarding US officials close to MBS who could potentially facilitate the closure.”

Hatice Cengiz:

Khashoggi’s fiancé, Hatice Cengiz, wrote on Twitter and posted using the hashtag. He wrote: “#justiceforjamal“.

Washington Post CEO:

Washington Post publisher and CEO Fred Ryan said: “Since the day this innocent journalist was brutally murdered, we have called for two important actions: for the facts to be exposed and to accountability on the part of those responsible.

“The report released today has revealed the facts. Now, the person who permitted this brutal murder must be held fully accountable for it. “


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Iran: The perpetrator of the “suspicious” Iraqi attack must be found | Iraq News | Instant News

In talks with his Iraqi counterpart, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif suggested rocket attacks on US positions in Iraq could be aimed at damaging neighboring relations.

Tehran, Iran – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the recent rocket attacks on US positions in Iraq were “suspicious” and the culprit had to be identified.

Following a meeting in Tehran with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein, Zarif said on Saturday that a series of attacks could be aimed at damaging Iran-Iraq relations.

“We emphasize the need for action by the Iraqi government to identify the perpetrators of this incident,” Zarif said, according to the Iranian Foreign Ministry statement.

Meanwhile, Hussein assured Zarif that “Baghdad will not allow this incident to damage the good relations between the two countries”, he added.

A rocket fire on Monday targeted the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, where the US and other embassies are based.

It came days after rockets hit the airport near the northern city of Erbil, killing a contractor with the US-led military coalition and injuring several others.

The US blamed the attack on a pro-Iran faction operating under the umbrella of the Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary force that is part of Iraq’s state security apparatus.

In retaliation, the US on Thursday launching air strikes at facilities in eastern Syria along the border with Iraq used by Iranian-backed militias.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said a militia border post was destroyed in the attack and reported at least 22 deaths. The death toll could not be independently verified.

US President Joe Biden said the attack – his first military action since taking office about a month ago – was intended to show Iran that it “cannot act with impunity”.

The Iranian government has denied involvement.

In his talks with Hussein, Zarif condemned the US attacks as “illegal” and violating Iraqi and Syrian sovereignty.

With reporting by Maziar Motamedi


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UN, European countries call on Israel to stop destruction | Occupy West Bank News | Instant News

The United Nations says at least 70 people or more living in the Bedouin community, including 41 children, are facing displacement in the Humsa Al-Baqaia district.

The United Nations and members of the European Security Council on Friday called on Israel to stop demolition of Bedouin settlements in the Jordan Valley, and for humanitarian access to the community living in Humsa Al-Baqaia.

In a joint statement at the end of the Security Council’s monthly session on conflicts in the Middle East, Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway and the UK said they were “deeply concerned about the recent dismantling and seizure of goods, including the structure of the European Union and its funded by donors carried out by Israeli authorities at Humsa Al-Baqaia in the Jordan Valley. “

It said attention was also focused on the 70 or so people living in the Bedouin community, including 41 children.

“We repeat our call on Israel to stop the demolition and seizures,” the statement said.

“We further call on Israel to allow full, sustainable and unhindered humanitarian access to the community at Humsa Al-Baqaia.”

Humsa al-Baqia is located in the Jordan Valley, a strategic and fertile strip of land stretching from Lake Tiberias to the Dead Sea, which has emerged as a hotspot in the struggle for the West Bank.

The Jordan Valley is home to some 60,000 Palestinians, according to the United Nations, but nearly 90 percent of its land is part of what is known as Area C, three-fifths of the West Bank which is under complete Israeli control.

It includes a closed military area and about 50 agricultural settlements that house about 12,000 Israelis.

Foreclosure of property

Palestinians are prohibited from these areas and from the land they own. They are prohibited from digging wells or building any infrastructure without military permits which are hard to come by.

From 2009 to 2016, less than 2 percent of the more than 3,300 permit applications in Area C were successful, according to Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement group, citing official statistics.

Anything built without a permit, from house expansion to tents, animal pens and irrigation networks, is at risk of being dismantled by the Israeli military.

Israeli machines destroyed a Palestinian house located in area C near Yatta in the southern West Bank city of Hebron last November. [File: Hazen Bader/AFP]

Nearly 800 Palestinians, including 404 minors, have lost their homes in 2020.

Over the previous year, 677 lost their homes – up from 387 in 2018 and 521 in 2017.

On Friday, the UN envoy to the region, Tor Wennesland from Norway, also raised concerns about demolition and land confiscation.

He said Israeli security forces had “destroyed or confiscated 80 buildings” in the Bedouin community “in the Israeli declared firing zone in the Jordan Valley”.

He said the actions had “displaced 63 people, including 36 children several times, and followed similar demolitions in November 2020”.

“I urge Israel to stop the demolition and confiscation of Palestinian property throughout the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and to allow Palestinians to develop their communities,” he said.


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Biden big games, Petrobras Brazil, Passport vaccines, school vegetarian meals | Instant News

Issued in:

Joe Biden’s first phone call to Riyadh was not to MBS but to his father. Ailing King Salman and this ahead of the intelligence declassification linking the crown prince to the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul: Last night, we witnessed the first use of US military force on Joe Biden’s watch. An air strike targeting facility used by Iranian-backed militias in Syria, just across the border with Iraqi Kurdistan. 17 were killed according to local sources.

It follows several missile attacks in Iraq in recent weeks, including one that killed a Filipino contractor inside a US base at Erbil International Airport, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Earlier this week, UN nuclear inspectors agreed to end unannounced inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites. They expressed concern in Tehran moving away from the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal but a possible return to talks. But who blinked first?

Donald Trump may have left, but one of his biggest admirers is still in charge in Brazil. And while Trump is known for firing his underlings via Twitter, Jair Bolsonaro took to Facebook to announce that he was replacing the boss of state oil company Petrobras with a 71-year-old reserve army general whose job currently runs a hydroelectric dam on the Paraguay border. Roberto Castello Branco was fired and fuel subsidies were reinstated at the behest of the truckers’ union. Free market reform is fine and cool but not when there’s a pandemic and you’re running for re-election in 20 months.

After Ghana on Wednesday, Ivory Coast is now the second developing country to receive shipments of its first-dose vaccine under the UN’s Covax inoculation scheme. While West Africa is getting its first vaccine, while the United States marks 50 million inoculations, this good news is irritating many Europeans, with very slow launches in places like France where we have just crossed the 4 percent vaccination threshold. Bash Boris Johnson at your will, the UK has now vaccinated more people than the European Union. A virtual EU summit that voted for Astra-Zeneca with what sounds a lot like a threat: Johnson changed his mind and now prefers green passports so citizens can at least book a summer vacation.

Are you serving meat dishes … or non-meat dishes? Judging by this Monday’s demonstration by farmers outside the town hall which included roasting hamburgers and petting livestock … guess which one Grégory Doucet chose. This has sparked rifts within the government itself. Environment Minister Barbara Pompili, who tweeted her praise for a vegetarian school lunch during a visit to Britanny called the controversy “prehistoric”. Recently the Michelin starred vegan restaurant Claire Vallée. But even there, their times changed. Two years ago, you had Greggsgate, the rage over the launch of the vegan sausage roll.

Produced by Freddie Gower, Juliette Laurain and Laura Burloux.


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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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