Archive for the ‘Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’ category

Twilight over the “Palestinian Cause”

December 21, 2017

Twilight over the “Palestinian Cause”, Gatestone InstituteGuy Millière, December 21, 2017

(Please see also, Palestinian claims to Jerusalem lose Saudi as well as US support. — DM)

Reports from the West Bank after the Six Day War show that the Arabs interviewed defined themselves as “Arabs” or “Jordanians”, and evidently did not yet know that they were “the Palestinian people”. Since then, they were taught it. They were also taught that it is their duty is to “liberate Palestine” by killing Jews. The Palestinians are the first people invented to serve as a weapon of mass destruction of another people.

“The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese.” — PLO leader Zuheir Mohsen, interview in the Dutch newspaper Trouw, March 1977.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the European Union has become the main financier of the “Palestinian cause”, including its terrorism. They are also contributing to war.

Iran, strengthened enormously by the agreement passed in July 2015 and the massive US funding that accompanied it, has been showing its desire to become a hegemonic power in the Middle East.

The grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh, recently issued a fatwa saying that “fighting the Jews” is “against the will” of Allah and that Hamas is a terrorist organization.

For many years, “Palestine” has not stopped aspiring to new heights in the so called “international community”. “Palestine” has been present at the Olympic Games since 1996, and, later, became a permanent observer to UNESCO and the United Nations. The vast majority of the 95 “embassies” of “Palestine” are in the Muslim world; many others are in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. In 2014, the Spanish Parliament voted in favor of full recognition of “Palestine.” A few weeks later, the French Parliament did the same. 

There is no other instance in the history of the world where a state that does not exist can have missions and embassies presumed to function as if that state did exist.

Now the time has probably come for the “Palestinians” to realize that they have lost and fall back to earth, as noted by the scholar Daniel Pipes.

Have “Palestinian” leaders been showing by their speeches and actions that they are ready to rule a state living in peace with their neighbors and with the rest of the world? All “Palestinian” leaders have incessantly incited terrorism, and do not hide their wish to wipe Israel off the map.

Is there a long-standing aspiration by the “Palestinian people” to have a state and to live peacefully within that state? The answer is actually no. The “Palestinian people” were invented in the late 1960s by the Arab and Soviet propaganda services. As PLO leader Zuheir Mohsen told the Dutch newspaper Trouw in March 1977:

“The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese.”

Reports from the West Bank after the Six Day War show that the Arabs defined themselves in interviews as “Arabs” or “Jordanians”; they evidently did not know that they were the “Palestinian people”. Since then, they were taught it. They were also taught that it is their duty to “liberate Palestine” by killing Jews. The Palestinians are the first people invented to serve as a weapon of mass destruction of another people.

Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the PLO, at the Arab League summit in Rabat, Morocco, 1974. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Is there at least a historic past that gives legitimacy to the aspiration to create a “Palestinian state”? The answer again is actually no. There is no Palestinian culture distinct from the cultures of the Muslim Arab world, no monument that can be defined as a “Palestinian” historic monument, except by falsifying history.

More basically, would a hypothetical “Palestinian state” be economically viable? Again, the answer is actually no. Territories occupied by the Palestinian movements survive only thanks to international financial assistance from the West.

How then could so many countries wish for so long to create a state whose rulers would likely be regressive, corrupt “Palestinian” leaders; whose inhabitants would be used as killing machines, whose history is non-existent-to-falsified and whose economic potential seems zero?

The answer is simple.

Behind their support for the creation of a “Palestinian state”, those countries have been pursuing other goals. For decades, countries of the Muslim world obsessively wanted one thing: the destruction of Israel.

They tried to reach their goal through conventional warfare, then terrorism, then diplomacy, then propaganda. They blamed only Israel for all the evils of the Middle East.

All the while, they know who the “Palestinian” leaders are and what they do. They know that the “Palestinian people” were invented. They know why the “Palestinian” people were invented. They know that a “Palestinian state” will not have a viable economy. Yet they have been committed to a strategy of destabilizing and demonizing a non-Muslim nation, Israel.

They call the “Palestinians” “victims“; terrorism, “militancy”; and incitement to kill, “resisting occupation”. They have been trampling rightful history and replacing it with myth.

They press “Palestinian” leaders to “negotiate”, knowing perfectly well that no agreement will ever be signed and that negotiations will end in bloodshed.

They propose only “peace plans” they know Israel must reject – those which include the “’49 ‘Auschwitz‘ armistice lines” or the “right of return” for “Palestinian refugees”, who numbered half a million in 1949, but near five million today.

They recognize a “Palestinian state” while knowing that the “state” they recognize is not a state, but rather a terrorist entity without defined borders or territory, and imbued with a will to spill more blood and create more mayhem.

They have relied on turmoil, blackmail and lies to encourage the rest of the world to think the situation requires drastic international intervention.

They have been saying they want a “Palestinian state”, but never that they want this state to renounce terrorism and end the conflict.

Instead, they have been waging a vicious war they have long hoped to win.

For more than thirty years, they benefited from the support of the Soviet Union. It financed wars (19671973), terrorism, diplomacy and propaganda. The Soviet Union made the “Palestinian” enterprise an “anti-imperialist” cause — a means of strengthening Soviet positions and galvanizing the enemies of the West. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, but the effects of its support for the “Palestinian cause” for a time remained. Many countries hostile to the West still support and recognize the “Palestinians” while pretending to ignore that they are recognizing a terrorist entity. They are contributing to war.

Countries of the Western world, subjected to the pressures of the Muslim world and the Soviet Union for many years, have gradually given way, some even before any pressure was applied.

France chose its camp in 1967, when General Charles de Gaulle launched what he called an “Arab policy” after its defeat in Algeria. French foreign policy become resolutely “pro-Palestinian” -– in an apparent effort to deflect terrorism, obtain inexpensive oil and compete with the US — and has remained so to this day. Western European countries have gradually adopted positions close to those of France. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the European Union has become the main financier of the “Palestinian cause”, including its terrorism. Western European leaders know what the real goals are, yet they repeat without respite that creating a “Palestinian state” is “essential“. They are also contributing to war.

Although a long-time ally of Israel, the United States changed its Middle East policy in the beginning of the 1990s to positions closer to those of the Muslim world. American politicians and diplomats pressured Israelis to negotiate with “Palestinian” leaders and seemed to have lost sight of what the “Palestinian cause” was secretly about. Wishful Israeli leaders agreed to negotiate. The tragic result was the Oslo Accords and the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA). It quickly became a new base of anti-Israeli terrorism. A wave of lethal, anti-Israel attacks started immediately, with a stepped-up anti-Israel diplomatic and propaganda offensive right after. A “two-state solution” was invoked. American leaders, as if they had slept through several years, started to say that a “Palestinian state” had to exist. Three American Presidents proposed “peace plans“, also contributing to war.

An additional “peace plan” is expected soon, but the parameters will be profoundly different. President Donald Trump appears to wish to break with the past.

He recently told Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that “Palestinian” leaders were liars. None of the American negotiators he chose seems to have the slightest illusion about the “Palestinian” leadership or the “Palestinian cause”.

The Taylor Force Act, passed on December 5 by the US House of Representatives, plans to condition US aid to the “West Bank and Gaza” on “the actions taken by the Palestinian Authority to end violence and terrorism against Israeli citizens”; the Act could be adopted soon by the Senate. The PA rejected all the requirements in the Act.

The Muslim world is also undergoing change. Iran, strengthened enormously by the agreement passed in July 2015 and the massive US funding that accompanied it, has been showing its desire to become a hegemonic power in the Middle East. The mullahs’ regime now holds three capital cities in addition to Teheran: Baghdad, Damascus, and Beirut. Iran attacks Saudi Arabia and supports the war led by the Houthi militia in Yemen; it intends to seize Sanaa and take control of Bab El Mandeb, the gateway to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. Qatar and Turkey have established close ties with Iran.

Saudi leaders appear aware of the danger. King Salman chose his son, Mohamed bin Salman, as heir to the throne, and gave him broad powers. “MBS”, as he is known, seems intent on leading a real revolution. Militarily, he is head of the 40-member Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, and has declared his desire to “end terrorism”. Economically, he is in charge of an ambitious reform project aimed at making his country less dependent on oil: Saudi Vision 2030. All Saudi leaders in disagreement with the new orientations of the country were placed under arrest and their assets confiscated. Mohamed bin Salman has identified Iran as the main enemy, and recently described its Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, as a “new Hitler.” Qatar and Turkey have been subjected to intense Saudi pressure to distance themselves from the Iranian regime. The grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh, recently issued a fatwa saying that “fighting the Jews” is “against the will” of Allah and that Hamas is a terrorist organization.

Mohamed bin Salman has the support of the Trump administration; Vladimir Putin who, while being allied to Iran, may want a balance of power in the Middle East, and Xi Jinping, who is facing the risk of a Sunni Islamic upheaval in China’s autonomous territory, Xinjiang.

“Palestinian” leader, Mahmoud Abbas was reportedly summoned to Riyadh, where King Salman and Mohammed bin Salman told him that he had to accept the plan proposed by the Trump administration or resign, and that it would “risky” for him to consider launching an uprising – which he has anyway, although being careful to keep it lukewarm.

During the month of October, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a close ally of Mohamed bin Salman, invited the leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to come to Cairo for a “reconciliation”. He apparently demanded control of the Gaza Strip to be handed to the Palestinian Authority. It also seems that the Trump administration and President Sisi told Hamas leaders that they had to approve the terms of the “reconciliation” agreement, and that if they carried out any attacks against Israel, they risked complete destruction.

The “peace plan” evidently to be presented by the Trump administration is provoking the extreme anger of “Palestinian” leaders. The goal of the “plan” seems to be to revive an open ended “peace process”, allowing Saudi Arabia and the members of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition to move closer to Israel and push the “Palestinian cause” toward the back burner.

On November 19, an Arab League emergency meeting held in Cairo strongly condemned Hezbollah and Iran. Moreover, for the first time in fifty years, a meeting of the Arab League did not even mention the “Palestinian” question.

President Trump’s recognition on December 6 of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has led to restlessness and acrimony both in the Muslim world and among Western European leaders. Sunni leaders allied to Saudi Arabia, however, as well as Saudi Arabia itself, seem too concerned about the Iranian threat to quarrel with Israel, the United States or really anyone. Western Europe has almost no weight in what is taking shape; all it has shown is cowardice, fear, and continued contempt for a fellow Western democracy: Israel.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, now in the twelfth year of his four year term — and apparently seeing that he is getting little support — appeared to seek divine intervention: he asked the Pope for help. There would be “no Palestinian state without East Jerusalem as its capital,” Abbas said. He sounded as if he had begun to understand that the “Palestinian cause” could be fading, and, with other “Palestinian” leaders, called for “three days of rage“. A few protesters burned tires and American flags – the usual.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to convene in Istanbul on December 13, and urged leaders of Muslim countries to recognize Jerusalem as the “occupied capital of the Palestinian state”. Saudi King Salman stayed well away as did almost all other Sunni leaders. He only sent a message saying that he calls for “a political solution to resolve regional crises”. He added that “Palestinians have right to East Jerusalem” – the least he could do; he did no more. Erdogan is mainly supported by Iran, today’s foremost enemy of Saudi Arabia and other Sunni countries.

“It will not be the end of the war against Israel,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “but it could be the beginning of the end of the “Palestinian cause”.

It now seems a good time for Western European leaders who still blindly support the “Palestinian cause” to cut their losses, both politically and economically. Taking the side of Erdogan and the mullahs in order to support a terrorist entity that will never be a “state” will do nothing to help them fight either terrorism or the increasing Islamization of Europe.

Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.

Arab world taken by storm by Saudi arrest of top Palestinian-Jordanian banke[r]

December 16, 2017

Arab world taken by storm by Saudi arrest of top Palestinian-Jordanian banke[r], DEBKAfile, December 16, 2017

(Please see also, Palestinian claims to Jerusalem lose Saudi as well as US support. — DM)

Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman (MbS) suddenly detained the Palestinian-Jordanian billionaire businessman Sabih al-Masri, aged 80, who has majority holdings in the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. His detention could impact on major economic interests in all three. DEBKAfile reveals that the Saudi and UAE rulers demanded that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas present himself at once in Riyadh.  MbS acted after his warning to Abbas and King Abdullah to stay away from Erdogan’s Islamic conference in Istanbul, for launching a campaign against Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, was not heeded. (Emphasis added — DM)

Saudis Fed Up: “Palestinians Milking Us for Decades”

November 30, 2017

Saudis Fed Up: “Palestinians Milking Us for Decades”, Gatestone InstituteBassam Tawil, November 30, 2017

(Please see also, Report: Trump expected to move embassy to Jerusalem within days. Might the apparent changes in relations between the “Palestinians” and Arab states reflect abandonment of the moribund peace process and hence of American reluctance to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem? — DM)

Most Arabs, in fact, do not seem to care about the Palestinian “cause” any more, as pointed out in a previous article, which showed how the Arab League ministers were focusing on Iran and Hezbollah while ignoring the Palestinians.

Many people in the West are not aware that the Palestinians are trying to torpedo any peace initiative in order to blame others.

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Like most Arab countries, the Saudis too have finally realized that the Palestinians are ungrateful and untrustworthy. Saudi Arabia and most of the Arab countries are obviously fed up with the recurring attempts by the Palestinians to blackmail them and extort money from them.

The Palestinians are crying Wolf, Wolf! — but only a few in the Arab world are listening to them. This, in a way, is encouraging and offers hope for them finally to be released from decades of repressive and corrupt governance.

These are just some of the challenges Saudi Crown Prince is facing. It is important to support him in the face of attacks by some Palestinians and other spoilers.

A young Saudi man has posted videos on social media in which he calls the Palestinians “dogs” and “pigs.” The man says that Saudi Arabia has provided the ungrateful Palestinians with “billions of dollars” during the past few decades. “The Palestinians,” the Saudi man charges, “have been milking us for decades.”

The videos, which have since gone viral, have understandably drawn strong condemnations from Palestinians, who say they would not have been made public without the tacit approval of the Saudi authorities. For the Palestinians, the abusive videos represent yet another sign of increased tensions in their relations with Saudi Arabia.

Further evidence of Saudi disdain for the Palestinians was provided in a video posted by Saudi Arabia featuring a Palestinian gunman as a terrorist.

Last July, the Saudi ambassador to Algeria, Sami Saleh, shocked many Palestinians when he described Hamas as a terror group. Hamas responded by saying that such remarks were “harmful to Saudi Arabia and its record and stances towards the Palestinian cause and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”

The apparent shift in Saudi Arabia’s position towards the Palestinians should not come as a surprise. Like most Arab countries, the Saudis too have finally realized that the Palestinians are ungrateful and untrustworthy. Saudi Arabia and most of the Arab countries are obviously fed up with the recurring attempts by the Palestinians to blackmail them and extort money from them.

Saudi Arabia and most of the Arab countries are obviously fed up with the recurring attempts by the Palestinians to blackmail them and extort money from them. Pictured: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas embraces Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 30, 2015. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/Palestinian Press Office via Getty Images)

The Palestinians were ungrateful to Kuwait when they supported Saddam Hussein’s invasion of the tiny emirate in 1990. Kuwait was one of the wealthy Arab countries that used to give the Palestinians millions of dollars in aid. The Palestinians were ungrateful to Lebanon, a country that opened its doors to them and allowed the PLO to create its own state within Lebanon. The Palestinians played an important role in tearing the country apart and brought disaster and death to Lebanon, until they were finally expelled in 1982.

Before that, in Jordan, in the armed conflict known as “Black September” (1970-71), the Palestinians did the same thing until the late King Hussein ordered his army to eradicate the PLO and all the terror groups in the country.

Now, the Palestinians are being disrespectful towards Saudi Arabia — a country that has provided them with billions of dollars over the past few decades. It is no wonder, then, that a growing number of Saudis are beginning to voice their disgust for the way the Palestinians are behaving and talking.

The Palestinians seek to continue holding Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab countries hostage. In fact, the Palestinians wish to retain their death grip against Israel at the cost of their Arab brethren. Any Arab who dares to challenge the Palestinians is denounced as a traitor and a Zionist.

Palestinian officials say that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who visited Saudi Arabia in early November, left the kingdom with a bad taste in his mouth. A senior Palestinian official was quoted as saying that Abbas feels that Saudi Arabia and some Arab countries are would like to see him removed from power and replaced with someone who would be more acceptable to the Americans and Israelis.

The Palestinians believe that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is personally spearheading his country’s rapprochement with Israel. Some of them are even convinced that it is only a matter of time before Saudi Arabia and Israel establish diplomatic ties as part of a peace treaty.

The general feeling among the Palestinian public is that their Saudi brothers have decided to “throw them under the bus” by signing a peace treaty with Israel. The Palestinians claim that Saudi Arabia has accepted the Trump administration’s “ultimate solution” for peace in the Middle East — a plan the details of which remain largely unknown, but is said to promote peace between the Arab countries and Israel before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is solved. Their biggest fear is that once Saudi Arabia embarks on such a dramatic move, many other Arab countries will follow suit, leaving the Palestinians isolated in the international arena and abandoned by their Arab brethren.

The Palestinian Authority, however, is keen not to be seen as taking a public stance against a powerful and wealthy country such as Saudi Arabia. In an attempt to defuse tensions between Saudi Arabia and the Palestinians, some Palestinian officials have come out in defense of the kingdom.

Mahmoud Al-Assadi, the PA Consul-General in Jeddah, for example, said that reports claiming that Saudi Arabia was headed towards normalizing its relations with Israel were false and based on malicious rumors. “Saudi Arabia’s position towards the Palestinian cause and people is historic and consistent,” Al-Assadi said in an interview. “The Saudi leadership has repeatedly made it clear that there will be no normalization with Israel until the Palestinian issue is solved.”

The PA ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Bassam Al-Agha, has also taken pains to exonerate the kingdom from the “allegation” that it is seeking to normalize its relations with Israel. In an interview with a Saudi newspaper, Al-Agha heaped praise on Saudi Arabia for its continued support for the Palestinians. The Palestinians, he added, “Will always remember Saudi Arabia’s generosity, hospitality and support.”

The public statements of Palestinian officials, however, stand in jolting contrast with the sentiments of the Palestinian public, which seems to be overtly hostile towards Saudi Arabia and its crown prince.

The Palestinians believe that the abusive videos posted by the Saudi man and other derogatory remarks by Saudi citizens in the past few days are part of a larger campaign by the Saudi authorities to prepare the Saudis for a peace treaty between the kingdom and Israel.

The Palestinians point to a Twitter campaign launched by Saudi citizens under the title of “Riyadh is more important than Jerusalem.” The campaign is accompanied by abusive remarks against the Palestinians, who are blamed for the “loss of Jerusalem and Palestine.” The campaign also repeats the charge made by many Arab countries, namely that the Palestinian “dogs” have always been ungrateful in the face of massive financial aid from their Arab brothers.

The Palestinians have been firing back with full force to this unprecedented online onslaught by the Saudis.

“This is a media campaign spearheaded by the boys of the [Saudi] monarch to pave the way for Saudi normalization with Israel,” commented Khalid Omar. He and many Palestinians claimed that Mohammed bin Salman was behind the online campaign “that smears and discredits the Palestinian cause.”

Yusef Jadallah wrote in response:

“We’re not surprised to hear some Saudis say that Riyadh is more important than Jerusalem. The Saudis are returning to their Zionist origin, which is hostile to Arabs and Muslims. We used to say that the Saudis support us. Unfortunately, the Saudis support Israel publicly.”

Another comment from Radwan Al-Akhras, of the Gaza Strip: “This online campaign is aimed at fomenting strife among the Arabs and Muslims. The only ones who benefit from it are the Zionists and those who are trying to be Zionists.”

The Palestinians also point to more troubling voices emerging from Saudi Arabia in recent days.

Here, for instance, is what Saudi academic Sa’ad Al-Hussein tweeted on November 25, in reference to the 2007 Fatah-Hamas “reconciliation” agreement:

“History relates that it’s the Palestinians who sold out their cause. History is also witness that the Palestinians fought amongst each other and betrayed and violated the Mecca accord.”

Again, many Palestinians took to social media to attack the Saudi academic and the royal family in Saudi Arabia. They accused the academic of being “ignorant” and “illiterate” and claimed that his charges were also designed at paving the way for normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Mustapha Anan, a Palestinian, retorted: “You are a trivial and despicable person; shame on you and your king!”

Another Palestinian, Yusri Yusef, responded:

“What’s the secret behind this Saudi smear campaign against the Palestinians? If you [the Saudis] want to make peace and form an alliance with the Zionists, that’s your business. But why these unjustified attacks on the Palestinians?”

Echoing the Palestinian public’s sentiment, Palestinian political analyst Majed Abu Diak also voiced concern over the apparent rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel. He accused the Saudis of bowing to pressure from the Trump administration.

“Saudi Arabia and Israel appear to be in a hurry to normalize their relations,” Abu Diak claimed.

“The Saudi regime is preparing for Mohammed bin Salman to succeed his father. That’s why the regime is prepared to pay the price [to the Americans], which includes normalizing relations with Israel as a way to improve Saudi relations with the US. For Israel, this is an old-new dream of ridding itself of the status of an alien body in the Middle East.”

Most Arabs, in fact, do not seem to care about the Palestinian “cause” any more, as pointed out in a previous article, which showed how the Arab League ministers were focusing on Iran and Hezbollah while ignoring the Palestinians.

Many people in the West are not aware that the Palestinians are trying to torpedo any peace initiative in order to blame others.

The Palestinians are crying Wolf, Wolf! — but only a few in the Arab world are listening to them. This, in a way, is encouraging and offers hope for them finally to be released from decades of repressive and corrupt governance.

These are just some of the challenges Saudi Crown Prince is facing. It is important to support him in the face of attacks by some Palestinians and other spoilers.

The question now is whether the Saudis and the rest of the Arabs have had enough of the great Palestinian shakedown.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.

Jared Kushner, Mohammed bin Salman, and Benjamin Netanyahu Are Up to Something

November 8, 2017

Jared Kushner, Mohammed bin Salman, and Benjamin Netanyahu Are Up to Something, Foreign Policy, November 7, 2017

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – JUNE 21: (ISRAEL OUT) In this handout photo provided by the Israel Government Press Office (GPO), Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Jared Kushner on June 21, 2017 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO via Getty Images)

Mohammed bin Salman may or may not have recently visited Tel Aviv, where Israel’s Defense Ministry is located. But even if he never set foot in the HaKirya complex, there is little doubt that he has authorized ever closer relations with the Israelis, who view the Iranian threat exactly as he does. And the crown prince is not the only one Jared Kushner has been speaking to: Trump has given his son-in-law overall leadership on the peace process between Israel and the Arabs, and he is reportedly a welcome guest in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.

Given Kushner’s role, did Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signal his plans when Kushner last met with him — and did Kushner then inform his father-in-law? And if so, how far will Washington, or more precisely, the White House, go to back up the Saudis if their confrontation with Iran gets hot? Or will Israel serve as Trump’s proxy? With this president, this crown prince, and the current prime minister of Israel, anything is possible.

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There seems to be a general consensus in Washington that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ongoing purge of princes and businessmen — including the wealthiest of them all, the business mogul and Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal — is motivated by his determination to consolidate his power, well before his father, King Salman, passes from the scene. He is in this regard a latter-day Adonijah, who had himself crowned king while his father King David was alive. And, like Adonijah, Mohammed bin Salman has made some very powerful enemies in the process. Unlike that Biblical figure, however, he has his father’s support and has taken care to arrest anyone who might threaten his drive to preeminence.

Jared Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, was in Riyadh again only recently. It was his third trip to Saudi Arabia since Trump took office. He again met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with whom he appears to have established a close personal relationship. It should therefore come as no surprise that Trump, who shares the young crown prince’s antipathy toward Iran, has commented favorably on the recent developments in Riyadh.

It is said of Donald Trump that he has undermined America’s credibility with its allies. That may be the case in Europe, and perhaps in parts of Asia, though not in Japan or India. But it is certainly not the case in the Middle East. Tensions with Turkey and Egypt emanate primarily from the U.S. Congress, not from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Relations with Israel are better than they have been since the day former President Barack Obama took office. The same can be said of U.S. relations with both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates or, for that matter, Bahrain and Morocco. The force that unites them all is Iran, whose support for instability throughout the region received a financial fillip from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — that is, the Iran nuclear deal.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may or may not be a true reformer. His record on that score is not unequivocal. But he is determined to halt the expansion of Iranian influence, which now really does manifest itself as the Shiite crescent about which Jordan’s King Abdullah II forewarned over a decade ago. The crown prince recognizes that his country’s worst nightmare is slowly materializing: Iran is supplying the Houthi rebels to its south and dominates neighboring Iraq to its north. 

It foments instability in Bahrain and could well do the same in Saudi Arabia’s Shiite-majority Eastern Province. And if that were not enough, Iran’s influence is entrenched in Damascus and Beirut. It is particularly for that reason the Saudis forced their ally Saad Hariri, the Lebanese prime minister, to resign his office while on a visit to the Kingdom.

Mohammed bin Salman may or may not have recently visited Tel Aviv, where Israel’s Defense Ministry is located. But even if he never set foot in the HaKirya complex, there is little doubt that he has authorized ever closer relations with the Israelis, who view the Iranian threat exactly as he does. And the crown prince is not the only one Jared Kushner has been speaking to: Trump has given his son-in-law overall leadership on the peace process between Israel and the Arabs, and he is reportedly a welcome guest in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.

Given Kushner’s role, did Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signal his plans when Kushner last met with him — and did Kushner then inform his father-in-law? And if so, how far will Washington, or more precisely, the White House, go to back up the Saudis if their confrontation with Iran gets hot? Or will Israel serve as Trump’s proxy? With this president, this crown prince, and the current prime minister of Israel, anything is possible.

MBS, Saudi’s reformist crown prince with firm vision

November 5, 2017

MBS, Saudi’s reformist crown prince with firm vision, BreitbartAFP, November 5, 2017

(Please see also, Sweeping Saudi purge exposes broad opposition to Crown Prince’s policies. — DM)

AFP

Riyadh (AFP) – Since his emergence in June as crown prince of the world’s oil superpower, Mohammed bin Salman, 32, has set his sights firmly on economic, social and religious reforms in the ultraconservative kingdom.

The young and dynamic prince, known by his initials MBS, has already overseen the most fundamental cultural and economic transformation in the modern history of the Gulf state, half of whose 31-million population is aged under 25.

At an investor summit in late October, MBS pledged a “moderate” Saudi Arabia, long seen as an exporter of a brand of puritanical Islam espoused by jihadists worldwide.

“We will not spend the next 30 years of our lives dealing with destructive ideas. We will destroy them today and at once,” said the prince, who has sidelined powerful clergy who have long dominated public discourse in Saudi Arabia.

In September, a royal decree said women would be allowed to drive.

Some conservative clerics — who for years staunchly opposed more social liberties for women — have backpedalled and come out in favour of the decree allowing them to drive.

Under the crown prince, the kingdom is also expected to lift a public ban on cinemas and has encouraged mixed-gender celebrations — something unseen before.

The government has also set up an Islamic centre tasked with certifying the sayings of the Prophet Mohammed in a stated bid to curb extremist texts.

The government appears to have clipped the wings of the once-feared religious police — long accused of harassing the public with rigid Islamic mores — who have all but disappeared from big cities.

In tandem with reforms, Prince Mohammed has been shoring up power and over the summer carried out a wave of arrests in a crackdown on dissenters, including influential clerics and some liberals who could block his path.

– Sweeping crackdown –

On the business front, the prince was named head of a new anti-corruption commission, established by royal decree, late Saturday.

Immediately after, 11 princes, including prominent billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, and dozens of current and former ministers were arrested, in a sweeping crackdown seen as consolidating the crown prince’s hold on power.

MBS is the architect of a wide-ranging plan dubbed Vision 2030 to bring social and economic change to Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent economy.

Among his most prominent positions is chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, which coordinates economic policy. Mohammed also chairs a body overseeing state oil giant Saudi Aramco.

He also holds the post of defence minister more than two years into a Saudi-led military intervention in neighbouring Yemen.

In a dramatic announcement on June 5, Mohammed bin Salman was named to replace his cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef, as heir to the Saudi throne. He had been second-in-line since early 2015.

Born on August 31, 1985, MBS graduated in law from Riyadh’s King Saud University, and the dark-bearded prince with a receding hairline is the father of two boys and two girls

ANALYSIS: How Saudi Crown Prince’s promise of ‘moderate Islam’ shifts power

October 28, 2017

ANALYSIS: How Saudi Crown Prince’s promise of ‘moderate Islam’ shifts power, Al Arabiya, October 28, 2017

Mohammed bin Salman has pushed forth changes that could usher in a new era for one of the United States’ most important allies. (SPA)

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia is charting a new, more modern course for a country known as so conservative.

Since catapulting to power, Mohammed bin Salman has pushed forth changes that could usher in a new era for one of the United States’ most important allies.

He’s introduced musical concerts and movies again and is seen as the force behind the king’s decision to grant women the right to drive as of next year.

When social openings in the kingdom were taking place four decades ago, extremists opposed to the monarchy laid siege to Islam’s holiest site in Mecca.

Prince Mohammed’s agenda is upending the current internal alliances in favor of synchronizing with a more cosmopolitan, global capitalism that appeals to international investors and tourists from all over the world.

Grabbing headlines

The prince grabbed headlines in recent days by vowing a return to “moderate Islam.”

In his sweeping “Vision 2030” plan to wean Saudi Arabia off of its near total dependence on petrodollars, Prince Mohammed laid out a vision for “a tolerant country with Islam as its constitution and moderation as its method.”

Prince Mohammed, used a rare public appearance on stage at a major investor conference in the capital, Riyadh, this week to drive home that message to a global audience.

“We only want to go back to what we were: Moderate Islam that is open to the world, open to all religions,” he said in the ornate grand hall of the Ritz-Carlton. “We will not waste 30 years of our lives in dealing with extremist ideas. We will destroy them today.”

His remarks were met with applause and a front-page article in Britain’s Guardian Newspaper. In expanded remarks to the paper, the 32-year-old prince said that successive Saudi monarchs “didn’t know how to deal with” Iran’s 1979 revolution that brought to power a clerical Shiite leadership still in place today.

That same year Saudi rulers weathered a stunning blow: Sunni extremists laid siege to Islam’s holiest site in Mecca for 15 days. The attack was carried out by militants opposed to social openings taking place at the time, seeing them as Western and un-Islamic.

Indeed, Sunni extremists have used the intolerant views to justify violence against others.

To appease a sizeable conservative segment of the population at home, cinemas were shuttered, women were banned from appearing on state television and the religious police were emboldened.

Much is now changing under the crown prince as he consolidates greater powers and prepares to inherit the throne.

There are plans to build a Six Flags theme park and a semi-autonomous Red Sea tourist destination where the strict rules on women’s dress will likely not apply. Females have greater access to sports, the powers of the once-feared religious police have been curtailed and restrictions on gender segregation are being eased.

Unlike previous initiatives who backed gradual and cautious openings, Prince Mohammed is moving quickly.

More than half of Saudi Arabia’s 20 million citizens are below the age of 25, meaning millions of young Saudis will be entering the workforce in the coming decade. The government is urgently trying to create more jobs and ward off the kinds of grievances that sparked uprisings in other Arab countries where unemployment is rampant and citizens have little say in government.

Finding solutions
The prince has to find solutions now for the problems he is set to inherit as monarch.

“What MBS is doing is a must requirement for any kind of economic reform. Economic reform requires a new Protestant ethic if you will, a new brand of Islam,” said Maamoun Fandy, director of the London Global Strategy Institute.

In other words, Saudi Arabia’s economic reforms require social reforms to succeed.

Meanwhile, Prince Mohammed still needs public support from some controversial clerics in order to position his reforms as Islamic and religiously permissible.

These clerics, many of whom had spoken out in the past against women working and driving, appear unwilling or unable to publicly criticize the moves.

In Saudi history and society, the king holds final say on most matters and the public has shown it is welcoming the changes.

Saudi women ‘thank God’ for end to driving ban

September 28, 2017

Saudi women ‘thank God’ for end to driving ban, Israel Hayom, September 28, 2017

(Old Chinese proverb: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” — DM)

A woman drives a car in Saudi Arabia. Archives: Reuters

Women will be allowed to obtain licenses without the permission of a male relative.

A muted response from Saudi Arabia’s clergy, which has long backed the ban, suggested power shared between the Al Saud dynasty and the Wahhabi religious establishment could be shifting decisively in favor of the royals.

Many younger Saudis regard Prince Mohammed’s ascent as evidence their generation is taking a central place in running a country whose patriarchal traditions have for decades made power the province of the old and blocked women’s progress.

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Saudi Arabian women rejoiced at their new freedom to drive on Wednesday, with some taking to the roads even though licenses will not be issued for nine months.

Hundreds of others chatted with hiring managers at a Riyadh job fair, factoring in the new element in their career plans: their ability to drive themselves to work.

“Saudi Arabia will never be the same again. The rain begins with a single drop,” Manal al-Sharif, who was arrested in 2011 after a driving protest, said in an online statement.

King Salman announced the historic change on Tuesday, ending a conservative tradition which limited women’s mobility and was seen by rights activists as an emblem of their suppression.

Saudi Arabia was the only remaining country in the world to bar women from driving.

At the jobs fair, Sultana, 30, said she had received four job offers since graduating from law school two years ago but turned them down because of transport issues.

“My parents don’t allow me to use Uber or Careem, so one of my brothers or the driver would need to take me,” she said, referring to dial-a-ride companies.

“I’m so excited to learn how to drive. This will be a big difference for me. I will be independent. I won’t need a driver. I can do everything myself.”

She plans to start taking driving lessons when her family travels abroad for vacation.

Other women weren’t waiting. Internet videos showed a handful of women driving cars overnight, even though the ban has not been officially lifted.

The move represents a big crack in the laws and social mores governing women in the conservative Muslim kingdom. The guardianship system requires women to have a male relative’s approval for most decisions on education, employment, marriage, travel plans and even medical treatment.

The new initiative recalls previous modernizing milestones that unnerved conservatives at first but were eventually accepted, such as the 1960s start of state education for girls and the introduction of television.

The decree is expected to boost the fortunes of 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has ascended to the heights of power in the kingdom with an ambitious domestic reform program and assertive foreign policy.

He said letting women drive is a “huge step forward” and that “society is ready.”

“This is the right time to do the right thing,” he told reporters. Women will be allowed to obtain licenses without the permission of a male relative.

A muted response from Saudi Arabia’s clergy, which has long backed the ban, suggested power shared between the Al Saud dynasty and the Wahhabi religious establishment could be shifting decisively in favor of the royals.

Many younger Saudis regard Prince Mohammed’s ascent as evidence their generation is taking a central place in running a country whose patriarchal traditions have for decades made power the province of the old and blocked women’s progress.

Sharif, the activist, described the driving ban’s removal as “just the start to end long-standing unjust laws [that] have always considered Saudi women minors who are not trusted to drive their own destiny.”

A driving instructor at a government-run center said women called all day to inquire about registering a license, but he had received no instructions yet from the government.

Um Faisal, a mother of six, said her daughters would get licenses as soon as possible.

“Years ago, there wasn’t work outside the house. But today women need to get out and go places. This generation needs to drive,” she said, clad in a long black abaya.

The Saudi ambassador to Washington said on Tuesday women would not need their guardians’ permission to get a license, nor to have a guardian in the car when driving.

In a country where gender segregation has been strictly enforced for decades in keeping with the austere Wahhabi form of Sunni Islam, the decree means women will have regular contact with unrelated men, such as fellow drivers and traffic police.

Other rules have loosened recently, with the government sponsoring concerts deemed un-Islamic by clerics, allowing women into a large sports stadium for the first time and permitting them to dance beside men in a central Riyadh street over the weekend.

Amnesty International welcomed the decree as “long overdue” but said there was still a range of discriminatory laws and practices that needed to be overturned.

That risks inflaming tensions with influential Wahhabi clerics with whom the ruling Al Saud has enjoyed a close strategic alliance since the kingdom’s founding.

The state-backed Council of Religious Scholars expressed support for the king’s decree. Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Sheikh, who has repeatedly opposed women working and driving and said letting them into politics may mean “opening the door to evil,” has yet to comment.

On that note, meanwhile, a Saudi woman was named to a senior government post for the first time, authorities said on Wednesday.

Eman Al-Ghamidi was given the post “as part of plan to boost the number of females in leadership positions in line with Vision 2030,” the Center for International Communication at the Ministry of Culture and Information said in a statement.

The Saudi government has said Vision 2030, a vast plan of economic and social reforms, will raise women’s share of the labor market to 30% from 22% currently.

Still, some men expressed outrage at the about-face by prominent clerics, who in the past have sometimes justified the driving ban by saying women’s brains are too small or that driving endangered their ovaries.

“Whoever says this is permitted is a sinner. Women driving means great evils and this makes them especially sinful,” one Twitter user wrote.

Kawthar al-Arbash, a member of the Shura Council, a government advisory body, acknowledged that resistance, saying: “That’s how things go. Everything new is accompanied by fears.”

Lori Boghardt, a Gulf specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the change is yet another sign that the crown prince is intent on adopting social reforms that will transform the kingdom.

“Today it’s especially clear that this includes moves that’ve long been thought of by Saudis as politically risky,” she said.

Aziza Youssef, a professor at King Saud University and one of Saudi Arabia’s most vocal women’s rights activists, said, “I am really excited. This is a good step forward for women’s rights.”

Speaking to The Associated Press from Riyadh, she said women were “happy” but also that the change was “the first step in a lot of rights we are waiting for.”