Archive for the ‘Saudi corruption’ category

Saudi Purges and Duty to Act

November 8, 2017

Saudi Purges and Duty to Act, FrontPage MagazineCaroline Glick, November 8, 2017

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

While many of the officials arrested over the weekend threaten Mohammed’s power, they aren’t the only ones that he has purged. In September Mohammed arrested some 30 senior Wahhabist clerics and intellectuals. And Saturday’s arrest of the princes, cabinet ministers and business leaders was followed up by further arrests of senior Wahhabist clerics.

At the same time, Mohammed has been promoting clerics who espouse tolerance for other religions, including Judaism and Christianity. He has removed the Saudi religious police’s power to conduct arrests and he has taken seemingly credible steps to finally lift the kingdom-wide prohibition on women driving.

Given Saudi Arabia’s record, and the kingdom’s 70-year alliance with Wahhabist clerics, it is hard to know whether Mohammed’s move signals an irrevocable breach between the House of Saud and the Wahhabists.

But the direction is clear. With Hariri’s removal from Lebanon, the lines between the forces of jihad and terrorism led by Iran, and the forces that oppose them are clearer than ever before. And the necessity of acting against the former and helping the latter has similarly never been more obvious.

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For 70 years, Saudi Arabia served as the largest and most significant incubator of Sunni jihad. Its Wahhabist Islamic establishment funded radical mosques throughout the world. Saudi princes have supported radical Islamic clerics who have indoctrinated their followers to pursue jihad against the non-Islamic world. Saudi money stands behind most of the radical Islamic groups in the non-Islamic world that have in turn financed terrorist groups like Hamas and al-Qaida and have insulated radical Islam from scrutiny by Western governments and academics. Indeed, Saudi money stands behind the silence of critics of jihadist Islam in universities throughout the Western world.

As Mitchell Bard documented in his 2011 book, The Arab Lobby, any power pro-Israel forces in Washington, DC, have developed pales in comparison to the power of Arab forces, led by the Saudi government. Saudi government spending on lobbyists in Washington far outstrips that of any other nation. According to Justice Department disclosures from earlier this year, since 2015, Saudi Arabia vastly increased its spending on influence peddling. According to a report by The Intercept, “Since 2015, the Kingdom has expanded the number of foreign agents on retainer to 145, up from 25 registered agents during the previous two-year period.”

Saudi lobbyists shielded the kingdom from serious criticism after 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were shown to be Saudi nationals. They blocked a reconsideration of the US’s strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia after the attacks and in subsequent years, even as it was revealed that Princess Haifa, wife of Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to Washington at the time the September 11 attacks occurred, had financially supported two of the hijackers in the months that preceded the attacks.

The US position on Saudi Arabia cooled demonstrably during the Obama administration. This cooling was not due to a newfound concern over Saudi financial support for radical Islam in the US. To the contrary, the Obama administration was friendlier to Islamists than any previous administration. Consider the Obama administration’s placement of Muslim Brotherhood supporters in key positions in the federal government. For instance, in 2010, then secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano appointed Mohamed Elibiary to the department’s Homeland Security Advisory Board. Elibiary had a long, open record of support both for the Muslim Brotherhood and for the Iranian regime. In his position he was instrumental in purging discussion of Islam and Jihad from instruction materials used by the US military, law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The Obama administration’s cold relations with the Saudi regime owed to its pronounced desire to ditch the US’s traditional alliance with the Saudis, the Egyptians and the US’s other traditional Sunni allies in favor of an alliance with the Iranian regime.

During the same period, the Muslim Brotherhood’s close ties to the Iranian regime became increasingly obvious. Among other indicators, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated president Mohamed Morsi hosted Iranian leaders in Cairo and was poised to renew Egypt’s diplomatic ties with Iran before he was overthrown by the military in July 2013. Morsi permitted Iranian warships to traverse the Suez Canal for the first time in decades.

Saudi Arabia joined Egypt and the United Arab Emirates in designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group in 2014.

It was also during this period that the Saudis began warming their attitude toward Israel. Through Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and due to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leading role in opposing Iran’s nuclear program and its rising power in the Middle East, the Saudis began changing their positions on Israel.

Netanyahu’s long-time foreign policy adviser, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs president Dr. Dore Gold, who authored the 2003 bestseller Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism which exposed Saudi Arabia’s role in promoting jihadist Islam, spearheaded a process of developing Israel’s security and diplomatic ties with Riyadh. Those ties, which are based on shared opposition to Iran’s regional empowerment, led to the surprising emergence of a working alliance between Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE with Israel during Israel’s 2014 war with Hamas – the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is in the context of Saudi Arabia’s reassessment of its interests and realignment of strategic posture in recent years that the dramatic events of the past few days in the kingdom must be seen.

Saturday’s sudden announcement that a new anti-corruption panel headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the near simultaneous announcement of the arrest of more than two dozen royal family members, cabinet ministers and prominent businessmen is predominantly being presented as a power seizure by the crown prince. Amid widespread rumors that King Salman will soon abdicate the throne to his son, it is reasonable for the 32-year-old crown prince to work to neutralize all power centers that could threaten his ascension to the throne.

But there is clearly also something strategically more significant going on. While many of the officials arrested over the weekend threaten Mohammed’s power, they aren’t the only ones that he has purged. In September Mohammed arrested some 30 senior Wahhabist clerics and intellectuals. And Saturday’s arrest of the princes, cabinet ministers and business leaders was followed up by further arrests of senior Wahhabist clerics.

At the same time, Mohammed has been promoting clerics who espouse tolerance for other religions, including Judaism and Christianity. He has removed the Saudi religious police’s power to conduct arrests and he has taken seemingly credible steps to finally lift the kingdom-wide prohibition on women driving.

At the same time, Mohammed has escalated the kingdom’s operations against Iran’s proxies in Yemen.

And of course, on Saturday, he staged the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri amid Hariri’s allegations that Hezbollah and Iran were plotting his murder, much as they stood behind the 2005 assassination of his father, prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

There can be little doubt that there was coordination between the Saudi regime and the Trump administration regarding Saturday’s actions. The timing of the administration’s release last week of most of the files US special forces seized during their 2011 raid of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan was likely not a coincidence.

The files, which the Obama administration refused to release, make clear that Obama’s two chief pretensions – that al-Qaida was a spent force by the time US forces killed bin Laden, and that Iran was interested in moderating its behavior were both untrue. The documents showed that al-Qaida’s operations remained a significant worldwide threat to US interests.

And perhaps more significantly, they showed that Iran was al-Qaida’s chief state sponsor. Much of al-Qaida’s leadership, including bin Laden’s sons, operated from Iran. The notion – touted by Obama and his administration – that Shi’ite Iranians and Sunni terrorists from al-Qaida and other groups were incapable of cooperating was demonstrated to be an utter fiction by the documents.

Their publication now, as Saudi Arabia takes more determined steps to slash its support for radical Islamists, and separate itself from Wahhabist Islam, draws a clear distinction between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Given Saudi Arabia’s record, and the kingdom’s 70-year alliance with Wahhabist clerics, it is hard to know whether Mohammed’s move signals an irrevocable breach between the House of Saud and the Wahhabists.

But the direction is clear. With Hariri’s removal from Lebanon, the lines between the forces of jihad and terrorism led by Iran, and the forces that oppose them are clearer than ever before. And the necessity of acting against the former and helping the latter has similarly never been more obvious.

The U.S. Is Saudi Arabia Now

November 7, 2017

The U.S. Is Saudi Arabia Now, PJ MediaRoger L Simon, November 6, 2017

But back to Saudi Arabia. They’re the bad ones here, not us.  They behave in a manner that civilized people must condemn.  We know this because Donald Trump approves of what King Salman is doing, cleaning house of characters like Bin Talal,  and Trump, as we know, is not an honorable man.

How do we know?  Because he has disgraced our country in Japan.  He is uncouth and does not even know how to feed koi. How bad is that! He could have killed the poor….Oh, wait…. 

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Saudi Arabia is evidently undergoing some pretty extreme housecleaning, approaching its own “Night of the Long Knives.”  It’s hard to know what to make of it (though those of us who remember Alwaleed Bin Talal’s  fatuous offer of ten million dollars just after 9/11, properly refused by Rudy Giuliani, have our own opinions of the now-arrested prince.)

Things over there seem pretty primitive and chaotic, almost tribal, replete with the image of billionaire princes forced to sleep on bare mattresses in the ballroom of the local Ritz Carlton. The Saudis have their own way of doing things.

Or do they?

These days things in Washington resemble Riyadh more than we care to admit. And unlike the Saudis, we don’t have Iran’s clients flying missiles into our airports. What’s our excuse?

Not much really — just hatred and the lust for power.  We’re tribal too — and then some.  Indeed, we may be worse.  How else to explain what’s going on inside our major political institutions — from Congress to our political parties to the Department of Justice to, needless to say, the FBI?  The skullduggery has been endless.

The latest is the reaction to Donna Brazile’s disclosure that the Democratic Party primary process was, essentially, fixed in favor of Mrs. Clinton.  The former DNC head is most likely correct because the mortified (and defensive) responses to her revelations are packed with lies.  That Ms. Brazile was concerned for her own safety because of the unsolved Seth Rich murder is also worth noting, speaking of long knives. Meanwhile, the mainstream media barely mentions that anything has occurred.  (The Saudis are more transparent.)

And then there are the matters that can be lumped together as G-Men in Non-Action, i. e. the FBI.  The latest revelation here is that James Comey, chief law enforcement officer in the land at the time, at first wrote a document accusing Hillary Clinton of  having been “grossly negligent” in her email scandal and then crossed it out… or somebody crossed it out for him…  to replace it with, for some reason or other, “extremely careless.” Could it be that “grossly negligent” in the handling of national security material is a crime and she was running for president?  Nah.  James Comey is a man to be trusted.

And so are Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein.  That we have just learned they were in charge during the approval of the Uranium One deal, that there was money laundering, bribes and all sorts of double-dealing by the Russian company involved (that they knew about) before twenty percent of U.S. uranium was put under Russian control, should not disturb us. Because of this knowledge, they are all the more qualified to conduct the Russia investigation. After all, Brutus, as Marc Antony assured us, is an honorable man. And so is Bill Clinton.  He had to speak a full two hours for that $500,000 after the deal was made.  So are they all honorable men.

That there are renewed questions about the Fusion GPS Trump dossier, that it may have been used to instigate the entire Russia investigation although filled with unsubstantiated, actually ludicrous, allegations, also should not give us pause.  After all, Bret Stephens believes it and he is an honorable man. He writes for The New York Times.

But back to Saudi Arabia. They’re the bad ones here, not us.  They behave in a manner that civilized people must condemn.  We know this because Donald Trump approves of what King Salman is doing, cleaning house of characters like Bin Talal,  and Trump, as we know, is not an honorable man.

How do we know?  Because he has disgraced our country in Japan.  He is uncouth and does not even know how to feed koi. How bad is that! He could have killed the poor….Oh, wait…. 

Saudi Arabia freezes accounts of detained corruption suspects

November 6, 2017

Saudi Arabia freezes accounts of detained corruption suspects, Al Arabiya, November 6, 2017

Sums of money that appear to be linked to corruption cases will be reimbursed to the Saudi state’s General Treasury. (Shutterstock)

Saudi authorities have announced that they will be freezing the bank accounts of suspects detained in the kingdom on corruption charges.

Officials said that there is “no preferential treatment” in the handling of their cases.

The Saudi Center for International Communication, an initiative of the Ministry of Culture and Information, said that sums of money that appear to be linked to corruption cases will be reimbursed to the Saudi state’s General Treasury.

The Saudi anti-corruption committee, which was set up on Saturday by King Salman’s royal decree and chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had arrested a number of princes and ministers.