city:riyadh

  • “Israel needs him.” Netanyahu presses Trump to save Mohammed bin Salman - International News
    http://www.tellerreport.com/news/--%22israel-needs-him-%22-netanyahu-presses-trump-to-save-mohammed-bin
    http://www.aljazeera.net/file/GetImageCustom/8fdd25a0-2599-494b-b477-f18a4ce4e5f8/1200/630

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked US President Donald Trump in a telephone conversation not to touch Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Israeli expert on Arab affairs, Jackie Khoji, said.

    “The Israeli request from Washington means that Riyadh for Tel Aviv is a strategic treasure, and that Netanyahu volunteered to save Mohammed bin Salman means that Israel needs him,” Khuji said in an article published on Saturday in Maariv newspaper. “To the Secretary General of the UAE, As well as to the Bahrainis and other leaders.”

    http://www.aljazeera.net/news/politics/2018/12/9/%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%81-%D9%86%D8%AA%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%87

    #israël #mbs


  • Israeli cyber firm negotiated advanced attack capabilities sale with Saudis, Haaretz reveals

    Just months before crown prince launched a purge against his opponents, NSO offered Saudi intelligence officials a system to hack into cellular phones ■ NSO: We abide the law, our products are used to combat crime and terrorism

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-company-negotiated-to-sell-advanced-cybertech-to-the-saudi

    The Israeli company NSO Group Technologies offered Saudi Arabia a system that hacks cellphones, a few months before Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began his purge of regime opponents, according to a complaint to the Israel Police now under investigation.
    But NSO, whose development headquarters is in Herzliya, says that it has acted according to the law and its products are used in the fight against crime and terror.
    To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz
    Either way, a Haaretz investigation based on testimony and photos, as well as travel and legal documents, reveals the Saudis’ behind-the-scenes attempts to buy Israeli technology.
    In June 2017, a diverse group gathered in a hotel room in Vienna, a city between East and West that for decades has been a center for espionage, defense-procurement contacts and unofficial diplomatic meetings.
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    Arriving at the hotel were Abdullah al-Malihi, a close associate of Prince Turki al-Faisal – a former head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services – and another senior Saudi official, Nasser al-Qahtani, who presented himself as the deputy of the current intelligence chief. Their interlocutors were two Israeli businessmen, representatives of NSO, who presented to the Saudis highly advanced technology.

    >> Israel’s cyber-spy industry helps world dictators hunt dissidents and gays | Revealed
    In 2017, NSO was avidly promoting its new technology, its Pegasus 3 software, an espionage tool so sophisticated that it does not depend on the victim clicking on a link before the phone is breached.
    During the June 2017 meeting, NSO officials showed a PowerPoint presentation of the system’s capabilities. To demonstrate it, they asked Qahtani to go to a nearby mall, buy an iPhone and give them its number. During that meeting they showed how this was enough to hack into the new phone and record and photograph the participants in the meeting.
    The meeting in Vienna wasn’t the first one between the two sides. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently expressed pride in the tightening ties with Gulf states, with Israel’s strength its technology. The message is clear: Israel is willing to sell these countries security-related technologies, and they forge closer ties with Israel in the strategic battle against Iran.
    >> $6 billion of Iranian money: Why Israeli firm Black Cube really went after Obama’s team
    According to the complaint, the affair began with a phone call received by a man identified as a European businessman with connections in the Gulf states. On the line was W., an Israeli dealing in defense-related technologies and who operates through Cyprus-based companies. (Many defense-related companies do business in Cyprus because of its favorable tax laws.) W. asked his European interlocutor to help him do business in the Gulf.

    FILE Photo: Two of the founders of NSO, Shalev Julio and Omri Lavi.
    Among the European businessman’s acquaintances were the two senior Saudi officials, Malihi and Qahtani.
    On February 1, 2017, W. and the businessman met for the first time. The main topic was the marketing of cyberattack software. Unlike ordinary weapons systems, the price depends only on a customer’s eagerness to buy the system.
    The following month, the European businessman traveled to a weapons exhibition in the United Arab Emirates, where a friend introduced him to Malihi, the Saudi businessman.
    In April 2017, a meeting was arranged in Vienna between Malihi, Qahtani and representatives of Israeli companies. Two more meetings subsequently took place with officials of Israeli companies in which other Israelis were present. These meetings took place at the Four Seasons Hotel in Limassol, Cyprus, where Israeli cybercompanies often meet with foreign clients.
    >> Snowden: Israeli firm’s spyware was used to track Khashoggi
    The meetings were attended by W. and his son. They were apparently friendly: In photographs documenting one of them, W. and Qahtani are shown after a hunting trip, with the Saudi aiming a rifle at a dead animal.
    In the Vienna meeting of April 2017, the Saudis presented a list of 23 systems they sought to acquire. Their main interest was cybersystems. For a few dozens of millions of dollars, they would be able to hack into the phones of regime opponents in Saudi Arabia and around the world and collect classified information about them.
    According to the European businessman, the Saudis, already at the first meeting, passed along to the representatives of one of the companies details of a Twitter account of a person who had tweeted against the regime. They wanted to know who was behind the account, but the Israeli company refused to say.

    Offices of Israeli NSO Group company in Herzliya, Israel, Aug. 25, 2016Daniella Cheslow/AP
    In the June 2017 meeting, the Saudis expressed interest in NSO’s technology.
    According to the European businessman, in July 2017 another meeting was held between the parties, the first at W.’s home in Cyprus. W. proposed selling Pegasus 3 software to the Saudis for $208 million.
    Malihi subsequently contacted W. and invited him to Riyadh to present the software to members of the royal family. The department that oversees defense exports in Israel’s Defense Ministry and the ministry’s department for defense assistance, responsible for encouraging exports, refused to approve W.’s trip.
    Using the initials for the defense assistance department, W. reportedly said “screw the D.A.” and chartered a small plane, taking with him NSO’s founder, Shalev Hulio, to the meetings in the Gulf. According to the European businessman, the pair were there for three days, beginning on July 18, 2017.
    At these meetings, the European businessman said, an agreement was made to sell the Pegasus 3 to the Saudis for $55 million.
    According to the European businessman, the details of the deal became known to him only through his contacts in the defense assistance department. He said he had agreed orally with W. that his commission in the deal would be 5 percent – $2.75 million.
    But W. and his son stopped answering the European businessman’s phone calls. Later, the businessman told the police, he received an email from W.’s lawyer that contained a fake contract in which the company would agree to pay only his expenses and to consider whether to pay him a bonus if the deal went through.
    The European businessman, assisted by an Israeli lawyer, filed a complaint in April 2018. He was questioned by the police’s national fraud squad and was told that the affair had been transferred to another unit specializing in such matters. Since then he has been contacted by the income tax authorities, who are apparently checking whether there has been any unreported income from the deal.
    The European businessman’s claims seem to be substantiated by correspondence Haaretz has obtained between Cem Koksal, a Turkish businessman living in the UAE, and W.’s lawyers in Israel. The European businessman said in his complaint that Koksal was involved in mediating the deal.
    In a letter sent by Koksal’s lawyer in February of this year, he demanded his portion from W. In a response letter, sent in early March, W.’s attorney denied the existence of the deal. The deal had not been signed, the letter claimed, due to Koksal’s negligence, therefore he was due no commission or compensation of any kind.
    These issues have a wider context. From the claims by the European businessman and Koksal’s letter, it emerges that the deal was signed in the summer of 2017, a few months before Crown Prince Mohammed began his purge of regime opponents. During that purge, the Saudi regime arrested and tortured members of the royal family and Saudi businessmen accused of corruption. The Saudis also held Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri for a few days in a Riyadh hotel.
    In the following months the Saudis continued their hunt for regime opponents living abroad, which raised international attention only when the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul came to light in October.
    It has recently been claimed that NSO helped the Saudi regime surveil its opponents. According to an article in Forbes magazine and reports from the Canadian cyber-related think tank Citizen Lab, among the surveillance targets were the satirist Ghanem Almasrir and human rights activist Yahya Asiri, who live in London, and Omar Abdulaziz, who lives in exile in Canada.
    These three men were in contact with Khashoggi. Last month, Edward Snowden, who uncovered the classified surveillance program of the U.S. National Security Agency, claimed that Pegasus had been used by the Saudi authorities to surveil Khashoggi.
    “They are the worst of the worst,” Snowden said of NSO, whose people he accused of aiding and abetting human rights violations.
    NSO’s founders and chief executives are Omri Lavie and Shalev Hulio. The company is registered in Cyprus but its development headquarters is in Herzliya. In 2014 the company was sold to private equity firm Francisco Partners based on a valuation of $250 million.
    Francisco Partners did not respond to Haaretz’s request for comment.
    In May, Verint Systems offered to buy NSO for $1 billion, but the offer was rejected. The company is awash in cash. Earlier this month all its employees went on vacation in Phuket, Thailand. Netta Barzilai, Lior Suchard, the Ma Kashur Trio and the band Infected Mushroom were also flown there to entertain them.
    The Pegasus system developed by NSO was a “one-click system,” meaning that the victim had to press on a link sent to him through phishing. The new system no longer requires this. Only the number of the SIM card is needed to hack into the phone. It’s unknown how Pegasus does this.
    Technology sources believe that the technology either exploits breaches in the cellphone’s modem, the part that receives messages from the antenna, or security breaches in the apps installed on a phone. As soon as a phone is hacked, the speaker and camera can be used for recording conversations. Even encoded apps such as WhatsApp can be monitored.
    NSO’s operations are extremely profitable.
    The company, which conceals its client list, has been linked to countries that violate human rights. NSO says its products are used in the fight against crime and terror, but in certain countries the authorities identify anti-regime activists and journalists as terrorists and subject them to surveillance.
    In 2012, NSO sold an earlier version of Pegasus to Mexico to help it combat the drug cartel in that country. According to the company, all its contracts include a clause specifically permitting the use of its software only to “investigate and prevent crime or acts of terror.” But The New York Times reported in 2016 that the Mexican authorities also surveilled journalists and lawyers.
    Following that report, Mexican victims of the surveillance filed a lawsuit in Israel against NSO last September. This year, The New York Times reported that the software had been sold to the UAE, where it helped the authorities track leaders of neighboring countries as well as a London newspaper editor.
    In response to these reports, NSO said it “operated and operates solely in compliance with defense export laws and under the guidelines and close oversight of all elements of the defense establishment, including all matters relating to export policies and licenses.
    “The information presented by Haaretz about the company and its products and their use is wrong, based on partial rumors and gossip. The presentation distorts reality.
    “The company has an independent, external ethics committee such as no other company like it has. It includes experts in legal affairs and international relations. The committee examines every deal so that the use of the system will take place only according to permitted objectives of investigating and preventing terror and crime.
    “The company’s products assist law enforcement agencies in protecting people around the world from terror attacks, drug cartels, child kidnappers for ransom, pedophiles, and other criminals and terrorists.
    “In contrast to newspaper reports, the company does not sell its products or allow their use in many countries. Moreover, the company greatly limits the extent to which its customers use its products and is not involved in the operation of the systems by customers.”
    A statement on W.’s behalf said: “This is a false and completely baseless complaint, leverage for an act of extortion by the complainants, knowing that there is no basis for their claims and that if they would turn to the relevant courts they would be immediately rejected.”


    • Par ailleurs,

      Some commentators predict that the Saudi crown prince is now so indebted to Trump that his support for the plan will be even more emphatic, but it’s more reasonable to assume that his newly-precarious hold on power will dissuade him from expressing emphatic support for a peace plan that is bound to enrage Palestinians as well as the proverbial “Arab street” in Riyadh, Mecca and other Arab cities.

      Netanyahu might actually welcome Saudi reticence that could help convince the Trump administration to hold off once again with its plan. The recent coalition crisis made it crystal clear that Netanyahu could be one of the first victims of his Washington BFF’s blueprint. Any peace plan published by the White House, even one viewed by Palestinians and the world as completely one-sided in Israel’s favor, will necessarily include relinquishment of territory, in East Jerusalem as well as the West Bank. It will be uniformly rejected by most of the Israeli right. Netanyahu is certainly loath to reject the fruit of Trump’s pro-Israel peace team’s labor, but anything less than a resounding “no” on his part could persuade even more voters to opt for parties to his right in the upcoming elections.

      The bottom line is that even the friendliest U.S. president in human history, as Netanyahu often describes him, is carrying a ticking time bomb that could soon blow up in the prime minister’s face. And as Netanyahu has recently learned from the botched military incursion in Gaza, the downing of the Russian plane and the horrid Khashoggi killing in Istanbul, unexpected developments can shake up the Middle East and demolish his image as its master manipulator. When lady luck thumbs her nose at the start of an election year, even the conventional wisdom about Netanyahu’s inevitable victory could dissipate in an instant, along with his hitherto-lauded grand strategies.


  • Top White House Official Involved in Saudi Sanctions Resigns - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/17/us/politics/trump-khashoggi-saudi-arabia.html

    A top White House official responsible for American policy toward Saudi Arabia resigned on Friday evening, a move that may suggest fractures inside the Trump administration over the response to the brutal killing of the dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

    The official, Kirsten Fontenrose, had pushed for tough measures against the Saudi government, and had been in Riyadh to discuss a raft of sanctions that the American government imposed in recent days against those identified as responsible for the killing, according to two people familiar with the conversations. Specifically, she advocated that Saud al-Qahtani, a top adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, be added to the list, and he ultimately was.

    Mauvais timing pour le renvoi de cette fonctionnaire de la Maison blanche en charge du dossier saoudien et qui souhaitait apparemment des sanctions : cela vient juste au moment des fuites sur le rapport de la CIA mettant en cause #MBS et, par dessus le marché, une vidéo (totalement invérifiable) se met à circuler montrant des morceaux choisis (!) du démantèlement (https://twitter.com/mazmbc/status/1063753281099325440)

    #gore de gore #arabie_saoudite #grand_jeu


  • Exclusive: Khashoggi murder further complicates ’Arab NATO’ plan - U.S. sources | Reuters

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-mideast-alliance-exclusive/exclusive-khashoggi-murder-further-complicates-arab-nato-plan-u-s-sources-i

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump’s strategy to contain Iranian power in the Middle East by forging Arab allies into a U.S.-backed security alliance was in trouble even before the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Now, three U.S. sources said, the plan faces fresh complications.

    FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
    Khashoggi’s murder on Oct. 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has drawn international outrage against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with Turkish officials and some U.S. lawmakers accusing the kingdom’s de facto ruler of ordering the killing.

    The Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) aims to bind Sunni Muslim governments in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan in a U.S.-led security, political and economic pact to counter Shi’ite Iran. 

    But feuds among Arab allies, especially a Saudi-led economic and political boycott of Qatar, have hampered the founding of the alliance since Riyadh proposed it last year.

    A summit meeting in the United States where Trump and the Arab leaders would sign a preliminary accord on the alliance was expected in January. But the three U.S. sources and a Gulf diplomat said the meeting now looks uncertain. It has already been postponed several times, they added. 

    Khashoggi’s murder raised “a whole bunch of problems” to be solved before the plan - informally referred to as the “Arab NATO” - can move forward, one U.S. source said. One issue is how the Americans could have the Saudi crown prince, who goes by the initials MbS, attend the summit without causing widespread outrage.

    “It’s not palatable,” the source said.


  • UAE. The Other Murderous Gulf - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

    https://carnegieendowment.org/2018/10/30/other-murderous-gulf-pub-77606

    Since the murder of Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi hit squad in early October, Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and patron of Saudi Arabia’s own crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), has resembled the cat that swallowed the canary. The disastrous regional adventurism and ruthless despotism of his protégé has averted Washington’s gaze from the UAE’s own responsibility for the carnage that is roiling the region. But the UAE should not be given a get out jail free card. If the White House refuses to hold the Emirates accountable for undermining U.S. interests, Congress should use its constitutional power to step into the leadership void.

    Richard Sokolsky

    Richard Sokolsky is a nonresident senior fellow in Carnegie’s Russia and Eurasia Program. His work focuses on U.S. policy toward Russia in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.
    Throughout Yemen’s three-and-a-half-year civil war, the Emiratis have been as brutal and reckless as the Saudis. While Saudi aircraft slaughter innocent civilians at wedding halls, funerals, homes, markets, schools, and ports, UAE boots on the ground have also contributed to the humanitarian disaster. The UAE-led military offensive in and around the port city of Hodeidah has been a catastrophe: over 400,000 Yemenis have been displaced since June and the fighting has considerably worsened the country’s already alarming food crisis and famine. Human rights organizations have reported on secret UAE-administered detention facilities where torture, beatings, electric shocks, and killings have occurred. The UAE royal family has paid retired U.S. Special Forces soldiers to track down and assassinate Yemeni political figures that it believes are in league with the wider Muslim Brotherhood movement. In Aden, the UAE has organized, supplied, and paid militias to foment fractious proxy violence. Yemenis who once saw the Emirati intervention as an heroic act to defend their nation’s sovereignty from a ruthless Iran-supported militia are now depicting it as an occupation, if not colonization.

    The UAE is part of the coalition of “Saudi-led” Arab countries (along with Bahrain and Egypt) that imposed a blockade against Qatar in May 2017. These nations were attempting to, among other things, end Qatar’s “terrorism,” cut its ties to Iran, get it to stop meddling in the internal affairs of other countries, and force it to pursue a less independent foreign policy. The UAE has taken an even more hardline stance against the Qataris than the Saudis, in part because it is more fanatical than Riyadh about eradicating any trace of Muslim Brotherhood influence in Qatar and the region more broadly. The boycott, which has divided America’s partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council, has been a disaster for both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, affording both Iran and Turkey opportunities to expand their influence in Doha. Nor has it worked out well for Washington, which hoped to forge a united Gulf front to contain Iranian influence. But for the UAE, the Saudis have been a useful surrogate for outsized regional ambitions; the Emiratis’ relationship with the Kingdom has allowed them to punch well above their weight. That’s not a good thing.


  • Saudi crown prince receives American Christian leaders
    http://www.arabnews.com/node/1397726/saudi-arabia

    JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a delegation of US Christian leaders in Riyadh on Thursday.

    The group, who are on a tour of the region, affirmed the importance of exerting joint efforts in promoting co-existence, tolerance and combating extremism and terrorism.

    #états-unis #insignifiance_obscène


  • Saudis demanded good publicity over Yemen aid, leaked UN document shows | Global development | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/oct/30/saudis-demanded-good-publicity-over-yemen-aid-leaked-un-document-shows

    Saudi Arabia demanded that aid agencies operating in Yemen should provide favourable publicity for Riyadh’s role in providing $930m (£725m) of humanitarian aid, an internal UN document reveals.

    Saudi military intervention in the three-year civil war is widely regarded as a prime cause of the humanitarian disaster that has seen 10,000 civilians killed, and left millions close to starvation. The kingdom intervened in Yemen to restore a UN-recognised government, and push back Iranian-supported Houthi rebels.

    Un seul tag possible #psychopathie en plus de #arabie_saoudite


  • Dozens of MPs flown to Riyadh in Saudi charm offensive – Channel 4 News
    https://www.channel4.com/news/factcheck/dozens-of-mps-flown-to-riyadh-in-saudi-charm-offensive

    Saudi Arabia has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds paying for British MPs to visit the country.

    FactCheck found that at least 33 MPs have been on Saudi-funded trips to the Kingdom, since its troops entered Yemen in 2015. On most occasions, all expenses were covered.

    In total, British MPs have accepted more than £208,000 worth of trips since 2015.

    Getting MPs to visit appears to be a growing priority for Saudi Arabia. Over the last five years, increasing numbers of MPs have gone – and the amount being spent on each person has gone up.

    #tourisme


  • How a Canadian permanent resident and Saudi Arabian dissident was targeted with powerful spyware on Canadian soil
    https://citizenlab.ca/2018/10/how-a-canadian-permanent-resident-and-saudi-arabian-dissident-was-targete

    Following a Citizen Lab report that identified the presence of NSO’s Pegasus spyware technology in Quebec, researchers contacted Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi Arabian dissident and Canadian permanent resident who has long been critical of the regime in Riyadh. After an extensive investigation, they discovered that his phone had been targeted with this powerful spyware and the operators of the technology were linked to Saudi Arabia’s government and security (...)

    #NSO #smartphone #Pegasus #spyware #activisme #surveillance #écoutes


  • The Real Reasons Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Wanted Khashoggi ‘Dead or Alive’
    https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-real-reasons-saudi-crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salman-wanted-khasho

    Christopher Dickey 10.21.18
    His death is key to understanding the political forces that helped turn the Middle East from a region of hope seven years ago to one of brutal repression and slaughter today.

    The mind plays strange tricks sometimes, especially after a tragedy. When I sat down to write this story about the Saudi regime’s homicidal obsession with the Muslim Brotherhood, the first person I thought I’d call was Jamal Khashoggi. For more than 20 years I phoned him or met with him, even smoked the occasional water pipe with him, as I looked for a better understanding of his country, its people, its leaders, and the Middle East. We often disagreed, but he almost always gave me fresh insights into the major figures of the region, starting with Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, and the political trends, especially the explosion of hope that was called the Arab Spring in 2011. He would be just the man to talk to about the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood, because he knew both sides of that bitter relationship so well.

    And then, of course, I realized that Jamal is dead, murdered precisely because he knew too much.

    Although the stories keep changing, there is now no doubt that 33-year-old Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the power in front of his decrepit father’s throne, had put out word to his minions that he wanted Khashoggi silenced, and the hit-team allegedly understood that as “wanted dead or alive.” But the [petro]buck stops with MBS, as bin Salman’s called. He’s responsible for a gruesome murder just as Henry II was responsible for the murder of Thomas Becket when he said, “Who will rid me of that meddlesome priest?” In this case, a meddlesome journalist.

    We now know that a few minor players will pay. Some of them might even be executed by Saudi headsmen (one already was reported killed in a car crash). But experience also tells us the spotlight of world attention will shift. Arms sales will go ahead. And the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi risks becoming just one more entry in the annals of intensifying, murderous repression of journalists who are branded the “enemy of the people” by Donald Trump and various two-bit tyrants around the world.

    There is more to Khashoggi’s murder than the question of press freedom, however. His death holds the key to understanding the political forces that have helped turn the Middle East from a region of hope seven years ago to one of brutal repression and ongoing slaughter today. Which brings us back to the question of the Saudis’ fear and hatred of the Muslim Brotherhood, the regional rivalries of those who support it and those who oppose it, and the game of thrones in the House of Saud itself. Khashoggi was not central to any of those conflicts, but his career implicated him, fatally, in all of them.

    The Muslim Brotherhood is not a benign political organization, but neither is it Terror Incorporated. It was created in the 1920s and developed in the 1930s and ‘40s as an Islamic alternative to the secular fascist and communist ideologies that dominated revolutionary anti-colonial movements at the time. From those other political organizations the Brotherhood learned the values of a tight structure, party discipline, and secrecy, with a public face devoted to conventional political activity—when possible—and a clandestine branch that resorted to violence if that appeared useful.

    In the novel Sugar Street, Nobel Prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz sketched a vivid portrait of a Brotherhood activist spouting the group’s political credo in Egypt during World War II. “Islam is a creed, a way of worship, a nation and a nationality, a religion, a state, a form of spirituality, a Holy Book, and a sword,” says the Brotherhood preacher. “Let us prepare for a prolonged struggle. Our mission is not to Egypt alone but to all Muslims worldwide. It will not be successful until Egypt and all other Islamic nations have accepted these Quranic principles in common. We shall not put our weapons away until the Quran has become a constitution for all Believers.”

    For several decades after World War II, the Brotherhood’s movement was eclipsed by Arab nationalism, which became the dominant political current in the region, and secular dictators moved to crush the organization. But the movement found support among the increasingly embattled monarchies of the Gulf, including and especially Saudi Arabia, where the rule of the king is based on his custodianship of Mecca and Medina, the two holiest sites in Islam. At the height of the Cold War, monarchies saw the Brotherhood as a helpful antidote to the threat of communist-led or Soviet-allied movements and ideologies.

    By the 1980s, several of the region’s rulers were using the Brotherhood as a tool to weaken or destroy secular opposition. Egypt’s Anwar Sadat courted them, then moved against them, and paid with his life in 1981, murdered by members of a group originally tied to the Brotherhood. Sadat’s successor, Hosni Mubarak, then spent three decades in power manipulating the Brotherhood as an opposition force, outlawing the party as such, but allowing its known members to run for office in the toothless legislature, where they formed a significant bloc and did a lot of talking.

    Jordan’s King Hussein played a similar game, but went further, giving clandestine support to members of the Brotherhood waging a covert war against Syrian tyrant Hafez al-Assad—a rebellion largely destroyed in 1982 when Assad’s brother killed tens of thousands of people in the Brotherhood stronghold of Hama.

    Even Israel got in on the action, initially giving Hamas, the Brotherhood branch among the Palestinians, tacit support as opposition to the left-leaning Palestine Liberation Organization (although PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat once identified with the Brotherhood himself).

    The Saudi royals, too, thought the Brotherhood could be bought off and manipulated for their own ends. “Over the years the relationship between the Saudis and the Brotherhood ebbed and flowed,” says Lorenzo Vidino, an expert on extremism at George Washington University and one of the foremost scholars in the U.S. studying the Brotherhood’s history and activities.

    Over the decades factions of the Brotherhood, like communists and fascists before them, “adapted to individual environments,” says Vidino. In different countries it took on different characteristics. Thus Hamas, or its military wing, is easily labeled as terrorist by most definitions, while Ennahda in Tunisia, which used to be called terrorist by the ousted Ben Ali regime, has behaved as a responsible political party in a complex democratic environment. To the extent that Jamal Khashoggi identified with the Brotherhood, that was the current he espoused. But democracy, precisely, is what Mohammed bin Salman fears.

    Vidino traces the Saudis’ intense hostility toward the Brotherhood to the uprisings that swept through much of the Arab world in 2011. “The Saudis together with the Emiratis saw it as a threat to their own power,” says Vidino.

    Other regimes in the region thought they could use the Brotherhood to extend their influence. First among these was the powerful government in Turkey of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has such longstanding ties to the Islamist movement that some scholars refer to his elected government as “Brotherhood 2.0.” Also hoping to ride the Brotherhood wave was tiny, ultra-rich Qatar, whose leaders had used their vast natural gas wealth and their popular satellite television channel, Al Jazeera, to project themselves on the world stage and, they hoped, buy some protection from their aggressive Saudi neighbors. As one senior Qatari official told me back in 2013, “The future of Qatar is soft power.” After 2011, Jazeera’s Arabic channel frequently appeared to propagandize in the Brotherhood’s favor as much as, say, Fox News does in Trump’s.

    Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, and the birthplace of the Brotherhood, became a test case. Although Jamal Khashoggi often identified the organization with the idealistic hopes of the peaceful popular uprising that brought down the Mubarak dynasty, in fact the Egyptian Brotherhood had not taken part. Its leaders had a modus vivendi they understood with Mubarak, and it was unclear what the idealists in Tahrir Square, or the military tolerating them, might do.

    After the dictator fell and elections were called, however, the Brotherhood made its move, using its party organization and discipline, as well as its perennial slogan, “Islam is the solution,” to put its man Mohamed Morsi in the presidential palace and its people in complete control of the government. Or so it thought.

    In Syria, meanwhile, the Brotherhood believed it could and should lead the popular uprising against the Assad dynasty. That had been its role 30 years earlier, and it had paid mightily.

    For more than a year, it looked like the Brotherhood’s various branches might sweep to power across the unsettled Arab world, and the Obama administration, for want of serious alternatives, was inclined to go with the flow.

    But then the Saudis struck back.

    In the summer of 2013, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the commander of the Egyptian armed forces, led a military coup with substantial popular support against the conspicuously inept Brotherhood government, which had proved quickly that Islam was not really the “solution” for much of anything.

    Al-Sissi had once been the Egyptian military attaché in Riyadh, where he had many connections, and the Saudis quickly poured money into Egypt to shore up his new regime. At the same time, he declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, and launched a campaign of ruthless repression. Within weeks of the coup, the Egyptian military attacked two camps of Brotherhood protesters and slaughtered hundreds.

    In Syria, the efforts to organize a credible political opposition to President Bashar al-Assad proved virtually impossible as the Qataris and Turks backed the Brotherhood while the Saudis continued their vehement opposition. But that does not mean that Riyadh supported moderate secular forces. Far from it. The Saudis still wanted to play a major role bringing down the Syrian regime allied to another arch enemy, the government of Iran. So the Saudis put their weight behind ultra-conservative Salafis, thinking they might be easier to control than the Muslim Brothers.

    Riyadh is “okay with quietist Salafism,” says Vidino. But the Salafis’ religious extremism quickly shaded over into the thinking of groups like the al Qaeda spinoff called the Nusra Front. Amid all the infighting, little progress was made against Assad, and there to exploit the chaos was the so-called Islamic State (which Assad partially supported in its early days).

    Then, in January 2015, at the height of all this regional turmoil, the aged and infirm Salman bin Abdelaziz ascended to the throne of Saudi Arabia. His son, Mohammed bin Salman, began taking into his own hands virtually all the reins of power, making bold decisions about reforming the Saudi economy, taking small measures to give the impression he might liberalize society—and moving to intimidate or otherwise neutralize anyone who might challenge his power.

    Saudi Arabia is a country named after one family, the al Saud, and while there is nothing remotely democratic about the government, within the family itself with its thousands of princes there traditionally has been an effort to find consensus. Every king up to now has been a son of the nation’s founder, Abdelaziz ibn Saud, and thus a brother or half brother of the other kings.

    When Salman took over, he finally named successors from the next generation. His nephew Mohammed bin Nayef, then 57 and well known for his role fighting terrorism, became crown prince. His son, Mohammed bin Salman, became deputy crown prince. But bin Nayef’s position between the king and his favorite son clearly was untenable. As one Saudi close to the royals put it: “Between the onion and the skin there is only the stink.”

    Bin Nayef was pushed out in 2017. The New York Times reported that during an end-of-Ramadan gathering at the palace he “was told he was going to meet the king and was led into another room, where royal court officials took away his phones and pressured him to give up his posts as crown prince and interior minister. … At first, he refused. But as the night wore on, the prince, a diabetic who suffers from the effects of a 2009 assassination attempt by a suicide bomber, grew tired.” Royal court officials meanwhile called around to other princes saying bin Nayef had a drug problem and was unfit to be king.

    Similar pressure was brought to bear on many of the richest and most powerful princes in the kingdom, locked up in the Ritz Carlton hotel in 2017, ostensibly as part of an extra-legal fight against corruption. They were forced to give allegiance to MBS at the same time they were giving up a lot of their money.

    That pattern of coerced allegiance is what the Saudis now admit they wanted from Jamal Khashoggi. He was no prince, but he had been closely associated in the past with the sons of the late King Faisal, particularly Turki al-Faisal, who was for many years the head of the Saudi intelligence apparatus and subsequently served as ambassador to the United Kingdom, then the United States.

    Although Turki always denied he had ambitions to be king, his name often was mentioned in the past as a contender. Thus far he seems to have weathered the rule of MBS, but given the record of the crown prince anyone close to the Al Faisal branch of the family, like Khashoggi, would be in a potentially perilous position.

    Barbara Bodine is a former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, which has suffered mightily since MBS launched a brutal proxy war there against Iran. Both MBS and Trump have declared the regime in Tehran enemy number one in the region. But MBS botched the Yemen operation from the start. It was dubbed “Decisive Storm” when it began in 2015, and was supposed to last only a few weeks, but the war continues to this day. Starvation and disease have spread through Yemen, creating one of the world’s greatest humanitarian disasters. And for the moment, in one of those developments that makes the Middle East so rich in ironies, in Yemen the Saudis are allied with a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    “What drives MBS is a ruthless effort toward total control domestically and regionally; he is Putin of the Desert,” says Bodine. “He has basically broken the back of the princelings, the religious establishment and the business elite, brought all ministries and agencies of power under his sole control (’I alone can fix it’), and jailed, killed or put under house arrest activists and any and all potential as well as real opposition (including his mother).”

    In 2017, MBS and his backers in the Emirates accused Qatar of supporting “terrorism,” issuing a set of demands that included shutting down Al Jazeera. The Saudis closed off the border and looked for other ways, including military options, to put pressure on the poor little rich country that plays so many angles it has managed to be supportive of the Brotherhood and cozy with Iran while hosting an enormous U.S. military base.

    “It was Qatar’s independent streak—not just who they supported but that they had a foreign policy divorced from the dictates of Riyadh,” says Bodine. “The basic problem is that both the Brotherhood and Iran offer competing Islam-based governing structures that challenge the Saudi model.”

    “Jamal’s basic sin,” says Bodine,“was he was a credible insider, not a fire-breathing radical. He wrote and spoke in English for an American audience via credible mainstream media and was well regarded and highly visible within the Washington chattering classes. He was accessible, moderate and operated within the West. He challenged not the core structure of the Kingdom but the legitimacy of the current rulers, especially MBS.”

    “I do think the game plan was to make him disappear and I suspect the end game was always to make him dead,” said Bodine in a long and thoughtful email. “If he was simply jailed within Saudi there would have been a drumbeat of pressure for his release. Dead—there is certainly a short term cost, whether more than anticipated or longer than anticipated we don’t know yet, but the world will move on. Jamal will become a footnote, a talking point perhaps, but not a crusade. The dismembered body? No funeral. Taking out Jamal also sends a powerful signal to any dissident that there is no place safe.”

    #Arabie_Saoudite #Turquie #politique #terrorisme #putsch


  • Imran Khan leaves for Saudi conference saying #Pakistan ’desperate’ for loans | Reuters
    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-saudi-khashoggi-pakistan/imran-khan-leaves-for-saudi-conference-saying-pakistan-desperate-for-loa

    Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan left for Saudi Arabia to attend an investment conference boycotted by other leaders over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

    • Despite PR duress, Saudi $6bn to Pakistan comes with strings | Asia Times
      http://www.atimes.com/article/despite-pr-duress-saudi-6bn-to-pakistan-comes-with-strings

      Fermer les yeux sur le financement saoudien de groupes armés du Balochistan pakistanais chargés de mener des opérations contre l’Iran en Iran, et amener le Pakistan à s’impliquer plus au Yémen.

      Balochistan is of strategic interest to both Iran and Saudi Arabia, bordering the Islamic Republic and located north of the Arabian Sea.

      Saudi Arabia has faced allegations of backing anti-Shiite jihadist groups in Balochistan, namely Jundullah and Jaish al-Adl, and a heightened influence could be dangerous for Pakistan’s security.

      “If you increase investment, it is not just money that pours in. With the money comes influence,” analyst Siddiqa said.

      “It’s hard to imagine a $6 billion gift with no strings attached,” said Michael Kugelman, a scholar on Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

      “There’s a very good chance Saudi Arabia placed some type of conditions on this support. Riyadh may have made it quite clear that Pakistan will need to rein in its recent efforts to position itself as a neutral actor in the Saudi-Iranian regional rivalry,” Kugelman said.

      “Pakistan has an Iran problem and a Saudi problem. [The Pakistani military] is allowing the Saudis to build up their capacity in Balochistan, which is in effect a certain kind of encirclement around Iran,” said Siddiqa.

      Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have maintained a defense partnership since 1983, though it is very difficult to pinpoint the exact number of Pakistani personnel in the kingdom. According to Kamal Alam of the  London-based think tank RUSI, there are at least 1,200 Pakistani trainers in various Saudi security and military sectors.

      A source close to the Pakistani military said the number is far higher, however. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he told Asia Times there are upwards of 7,000 Pakistani military personnel in the kingdom.

      “One of the big questions coming out of this new deal is whether Riyadh has now asked Islamabad to operationalize that military presence and be willing to join Saudi military efforts in Yemen,” Kugelman said.

      “Islamabad has long resisted this ask from Saudi Arabia, but with this financial assistance Islamabad is now getting, Riyadh has more leverage,” he added.

      According to a political source briefed on the matter but who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the subject, the Pakistani armed forces have been under mounting pressure from the Saudis to join the conflict in Yemen.


  • Affaire Khashoggi : les dernières révélations turques qui accablent Riyad
    France 24 - Dernière modification : 22/10/2018 - Avec AFP et Reuters
    https://www.france24.com/fr/20181022-affaire-khashoggi-jamal-revelations-turquie-arabie-mbs-riyad-erdo

    De nouveaux développements dans l’assassinat du journaliste saoudien jamal Khashoggi sont apparus, lundi, à la veille d’un discours très attendu de Recep Tayyip Erdogan, qui entend révéler « toute la vérité » sur cette affaire. (...)

    #Khashoggi #Arabie_saoudite
    #Jamal_Khashoggi


  • Saudi crown prince ’phoned Khashoggi at the consulate right before he’s being killed

    Comme le dirait @gonzo ; c’est de plus en plus en plus en plus gore...

    https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2018/10/21/saudi-crown-prince-phoned-khashoggi-just-before-murder-report

    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly spoke on the phone with journalist Jamal Khashoggi moments before he was murdered in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

    Turkish pro-government daily Yeni Safak revealed new alleged details of the case in a report on Sunday, contradicting claims by Saudi authorities that Prince Mohammed played no part in Khashoggi’s murder.

    #Khashoggi was detained by the Saudi team inside the consulate building. Then Prince Mohammed contacted Khashoggi by phone and tried to convince him to return to Riyadh,” the report said.

    #arabie_saoudite


  • Saudi Arabia Delivers $100 Million Pledged to U.S. as Pompeo Lands in Riyadh :: WRAL.com
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/16/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-money-syria.html

    This summer, Saudi Arabia promised the Trump administration $100 million for U.S. efforts to stabilize areas in Syria liberated from the Islamic State.

    That money landed in U.S. accounts Tuesday, the same day that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, for discussions with the kingdom’s leaders about the fate of a missing Saudi dissident.

    A mon avis, il manque un zéro...

    #kashoggi



  • Vidéo - Sur France 24, Emmanuel Macron juge l’affaire Khashoggi « très grave » - Boursorama
    https://www.boursorama.com/videos/actualites/sur-france-24-emmanuel-macron-juge-l-affaire-khashoggi-tres-grave-646511

    Dans une interview exclusive à France 24 et RFI, Emmanuel Macron s’est exprimé pour la première fois sur la disparition du journaliste Jamal Khassogi au consulat saoudien d’Istanbul. Le président français estime les faits « très graves » et attend « que la vérité et la clarté soient établies ». Il aura une discussion à ce sujet avec le président turc, le prince héritier et le roi d’Arabie saoudite « dans les prochains jours ».

    11 jours après la disparition du type : une diplomatie frileusement réactive !!!

    Par comparaison :

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/uk-sanctions-saudi-arabia-missing-journalist-jamal-khashoggi-riyadh-j

    UK officials have begun drawing up a list of Saudi security and government officials who could potentially come under sanctions pending the outcome of investigations into the disappearance of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a source close to both Riyadh and London told The Independent.

    The list being drawn up by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office could be used in case the UK decides to invoke the “Magnitsky amendment,” passed this year, which allows Britain to impose sanctions on foreign officials accused of human rights violations, or to apply restrictions on Saudi trade and travel in coordination with the European Union.

    Asked to confirm or deny the drawing up of the list, the Foreign Office said it “had nothing to add” to the Khashoggi matter other than comments the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, made on Thursday.

    #Kashoggi


  • Trump announces #Jamal_Khashoggi investigation but says he won’t halt Saudi arms sales | World news | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/11/jamal-khashoggi-saudi-arabia-under-pressure-from-trump-administration

    Donald Trump has said US investigators are looking into how Jamal Khashoggi vanished at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, but made clear that whatever the outcome, the US would not forgo lucrative arms deals with Riyadh.

    The president’s announcement raised concerns of a cover-up of evidence implicating Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in plans to silence the dissident journalist. Those fears were also heightened by an announcement that the Turkish and Saudi governments

    #arabie_saoudite


  • Saudi journalist ’killed inside consulate’ – Turkish sources | World news | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/06/saudi-journalist-killed-inside-consulate-turkish-sources

    Turkish officials believe that missing Saudi journalist #Jamal_Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and his body later driven from the compound.

    Authorities say they believe Khashoggi’s death was premeditated and that Saudi officials had travelled to Istanbul from Riyadh after receiving word that the high-profile critic of the current Saudi leadership planned to visit the consulate.

    In an evening of quickfire developments, following four days of silence since his disappearance, officials in Ankara pledged to on Sunday release evidence that they say supports claims that the journalist was killed shortly after he entered the consulate to sign divorce papers. The evidence is expected to include video footage and focus on a black car.

    –—

    Jamal Khashoggi: Turkey says journalist was murdered in Saudi consulate - BBC News
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45775819

    Fears are growing over missing Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi, after Turkish officials said they believe he has been murdered.

    Mr Khashoggi, a Saudi national, went missing after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday.

    A Turkish official told the BBC that initial investigations indicated he was murdered there.

    Saudi Arabia has denied the accusations, saying it is “working to search for him”.

    The Washington Post said it would be a “monstrous and unfathomable act” if he had been killed.

    The BBC’s Istanbul correspondent, Mark Lowen, said it would plunge Turkish-Saudi relations into an unprecedented crisis.

    #arabie_saoudite #meurtre


  • Exclusive: Mesa to include nine countries while prioritising Iran threat - The National

    https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/exclusive-mesa-to-include-nine-countries-while-prioritising-iran-threat-

    S Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs Tim Lenderking has spent the last three weeks in shuttle regional diplomacy across the Gulf to lay the groundwork for a US-hosted summit in January that would launch the Middle East Strategic Alliance (Mesa), a concept similar to an Arab Nato.

    In an interview with The National on Wednesday, Mr Lenderking divulged details about the structure of Mesa and its long term prospects. He said besides the Gulf Cooperation Council members – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman – the US and both Egypt and Jordan would be members of such an alliance.

    Mr Lenderking said that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be hosting a GCC + 2 meeting on the margins of United Nations General Assembly on Friday to prepare for the January summit.

    “This stems from the Riyadh summit in 2017 where everyone agreed that the US and the GCC would meet on an annual basis...we added on top of that the keen interest on both sides in building Mesa,” Mr Lenderking explained. The alliance would be based on a security, economic and political agreement that would bind together the GCC countries, along with the US, Egypt and Jordan.

    Notwithstanding the different policy priorities within the GCC itself, Mr Lenderking said the idea of Mesa is “it builds a good strong shield against threats in the Gulf,” naming Iran, cyber concerns, attacks on infrastructure, and coordinating conflict management from Syria to Yemen as part of its agenda.

    “The more we have coordinated efforts, the more effective in enhancing stability,” he said, adding that Iran was the “number one threat” on the Mesa list.

    The senior US official confirmed that the US would be part of the alliance and “we [US] would like to agree on the concept of Mesa by the January summit.”

    He cautioned, however, that these conversations are still in their early stages and “if we find we need to change dates we need to be flexible on that”.


  • Saudi Arabia, Germany turn page on diplomatic dispute -
    The spat was triggered last November when Germany’s foreign minister at the time, Sigmar Gabriel, condemned ’adventurism’ in the Middle East

    Reuters
    Sep 26, 2018 5:39 PM

    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/saudi-arabia-germany-turn-page-on-diplomatic-dispute-1.6511068

    Germany and Saudi Arabia have agreed to end a prolonged diplomatic row that prompted the kingdom to pull its ambassador from Berlin and punish German firms operating in the country.
    The spat was triggered last November when Germany’s foreign minister at the time, Sigmar Gabriel, condemned “adventurism” in the Middle East, in comments that were widely seen as an attack on increasingly assertive Saudi policies, notably in Yemen.
    The comments, which aggravated already tense relations caused by a moratorium on German arms exports to Saudi Arabia, led Riyadh to withdraw its ambassador and freeze out German companies, particularly in the lucrative healthcare sector.

    Gabriel’s successor Heiko Maas, egged on by German industry, had been working for months to resolve the dispute. Earlier this month, Berlin signed off on the delivery of four artillery positioning systems to Saudi Arabia, a step that officials say accelerated the rapprochement.
    Standing alongside his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir at the United Nations on Tuesday, Maas spoke of “misunderstandings” that had undermined what were otherwise “strong and strategic ties” between the countries, saying “we sincerely regret this”.
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    “We should have been clearer in our communication and engagement in order to avoid such misunderstandings between Germany and the kingdom,” he said. “We’ll do our best to make this partnership with the kingdom even stronger than before.”
    Jubeir said he welcomed Maas’ statement and invited him to the kingdom to intensify their ties. He spoke of a “a new phase of close cooperation in all areas” between Berlin and Riyadh.
    Officials told Reuters that the Saudi ambassador, Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan, son of longtime Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, was expected to return to Berlin soon.
    After weeks of delay, the new German ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Joerg Ranau, is now expected to receive his accreditation and take up his position in Riyadh.
    “The Gordian knot has been broken,” said Volker Treier, foreign trade chief at the German chambers of commerce and industry (DIHK), who is in Riyadh to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the local chamber.
    “The optimism is back. Diplomacy triumphed,” he said. “Everyone we have met here has made clear they want to work closely with us again.”
    The dispute hit trade between the countries. German exports to Saudi Arabia fell 5 percent in the first half of 2018. And companies like Siemens Healthineers, Bayer and Boehringer Ingelheim complained that they were being excluded from public healthcare tenders.
    In a strongly-worded June letter to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, European and U.S. pharmaceutical associations warned that the restrictions could hurt Saudipatients and dampen future investment in the kingdom.
    The dispute with Germany predates one that erupted between Canada and Saudi Arabia this summer after the Canadian foreign minister, in a tweet, called for the release of human rights activists in Saudi Arabia.
    The kingdom responded by expelling the Canadian ambassador, recalling its own envoy, freezing new trade and investment, suspending flights and ordering Saudi students to leave Canada.
    Saudi Arabia’s role in the Yemen war, in which Arab forces are fighting Iran-aligned Houthis, remains controversial in Germany.
    Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new government went so far as to write into its coalition agreement earlier this year that no arms could be sent to countries involved in the conflict. It is unclear how recent arms deliveries fit with this ban.


  • Oman’s Port Strategy – LobeLog
    https://lobelog.com/omans-port-strategy

    Within the Arabian Peninsula, Duqm and Salalah have much potential to further shape geopolitical relations amid strategic shifts in the regional balance of power. Any major investments by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Duqm (and other Omani projects) should be watched closely for their effect on intra-Gulf politics. Some analysts contend that both countries are attempting to restrict the Sultanate’s geopolitical maneuverability as Muscat and Tehran try to maintain cooperative relations. As Riyadh and Abu Dhabi may use their petro-dollars to influence Oman’s future position in an increasingly polarized Gulf, they could use investments in Omani infrastructure projects as another way to gain leverage. Likewise, Oman’s trade infrastructure proved highly useful to Qatar last year when Doha needed alternatives to Jebel Ali as a logistics hub linking the emirate to the global economy.

    It goes without saying that Iran itself is a key factor in this equation. If tensions in the Strait of Hormuz escalate, Duqm and Salalah would need to prepare for any trade-related ramifications. The Omani government must stay vigilant and aware of any escalations of friction amid increasingly harsh rhetoric from Washington and Tehran that threaten to unleash an armed conflict in or near the strait. Yet the ports’ advantageous geographic locations could help Gulf states continue to sell their oil and gas in the event of such a crisis, as shipments via Duqm and Salalah will not need to travel through the strait. Whereas Saudi Arabia has its Red Sea coast and the UAE has one Emirate (Fujairah) outside the strait, which would enable these two states to continue exporting oil in the event of the strait’s closure, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar are fully dependent on that artery for their hydrocarbon exports. As Amer No’man Ashour, chief analyst and economist at CNBC Arabia, explains:

    We all know that more than 30 per cent of oil shipments pass through the Strait of Hormuz and with this shift via the Port of Fujairah and the Duqm port, the GCC countries will ensure that their oil shipments are safe, and this will decrease the risk and the cost of insurance on ships… Al-Duqm Port is one of the best ever solutions to the oil issue… It is 800 kilometres away from UAE borders. We know that the UAE has had a partial solution via Fujairah with a capacity of 1.1 million barrels per day, but the production of the UAE is almost 3 million barrels per day. Most of Kuwait, Qatari and Saudi oil is produced in the eastern parts of the Gulf area and this new Omani port will be very suitable for exporting oil to the world.

    #oman #grand_jeu


  • Hacking a Prince, an Emir and a Journalist to Impress a Client - The New York Times

    With Israel help

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/31/world/middleeast/hacking-united-arab-emirates-nso-group.html?imp_id=299442091&action=click&m

    The lawsuits also shed new light on the political intrigues involving Israel and the Persian Gulf monarchies, which have increasingly turned to hacking as a favorite weapon against one another.
    Image
    The NSO Group’s actions are now at the heart of the twin lawsuits accusing the company of actively participating in illegal spying.CreditDaniella Cheslow/Associated Press
    The U.A.E. does not recognize Israel, but the two appear to have a growing behind-the-scenes alliance. Because Israel deems the spyware a weapon, the lawsuits note, the NSO Group and its affiliates could have sold it to the Emirates only with approval by the Israeli Defense Ministry.

    Leaked emails submitted in the lawsuits show that the U.A.E. signed a contract to license the company’s surveillance software as early as August 2013.
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    A year and a half later, a British affiliate of the NSO Group asked its Emirati client to provide a sixth payment of $3 million under the original contract, suggesting a total licensing fee of at least $18 million over that period.

    An update the next year was sold through a different affiliate, based in Cyprus, at a cost of $11 million in four installments, according to leaked invoices.

    Tensions between the U.A.E. and its neighbor Qatar reached a boil in 2013 over a struggle for power in Egypt. Qatar had allied itself with the Egyptian Islamist movement that won the elections after the Arab Spring. Then the U.A.E. backed a military takeover that cast the Islamists into prison instead.

    In the escalating feud, each side accused the other of cyberespionage. Hackers broke into the email accounts of two outspoken opponents of Qatar — the Emirati ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, and an American Republican fund-raiser who does business with the U.A.E., Elliott Broidy. Mr. Broidy has filed a separate lawsuit accusing Qatar and its Washington lobbyists of conspiring to steal and leak his emails.

    Other hackers briefly took over the website of the Qatari news service to post a false report of an embarrassing speech by the emir to damage him, and later leaked Qatari emails exposing awkward details of Qatari negotiations over the release of a royal hunting party kidnapped in Iraq. Allies of Qatar blamed the Emiratis.

    The leaked emails disclosed in the new lawsuits may also have been stolen through hacking. Lawyers involved said the documents were provided by a Qatari journalist who did not disclose how he had obtained them.

    The messages show that the Emiratis were seeking to intercept the phone calls of the emir of Qatar as early as 2014.
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    But the Emirati target list also included Saudi Arabia. In the email discussions about updating the NSO Group’s technology, the Emiratis asked to intercept the phone calls of a Saudi prince, Mutaib bin Abdullah, who was considered at the time to be a possible contender for the throne.

    The Emiratis have been active promoters of Prince Mutaib’s younger rival, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Last year, the crown prince removed Prince Mutaib from his role as minister of the national guard and ordered his temporary detention in connection with corruption allegations.

    In a telephone interview, Prince Mutaib expressed surprise that the Emiratis had attempted to record his calls.

    “They don’t need to hack my phone,” he said. “I will tell them what I am doing.”

    According to the emails, the Emiratis also asked to intercept the phone calls of Saad Hariri, who is now prime minister of Lebanon.

    Mr. Hariri has sometimes been accused of failing to push back hard enough against Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese movement backed by Iran. Last year, the U.A.E.’s Saudi ally, Crown Prince Mohammed, temporarily detained Mr. Harari in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, and forced him to announce his resignation as prime minister. (He later rescinded the announcement, and he remains prime minister.)

    Mr. Alkhamis, who resigned in 2014 as the editor of the London-based newspaper Al Arab, called the surveillance of his phone calls “very strange” but not unexpected, since he had published “sensitive” articles about Persian Gulf politics.

    The U.A.E.’s use of the NSO Group’s spyware was first reported in 2016. Ahmed Mansoor, an Emirati human rights advocate, noticed suspicious text messages and exposed an attempt to hack his Apple iPhone. The U.A.E. arrested him on apparently unrelated charges the next year and he remains in jail.


  • The Exclusionary Turn in GCC Politics | ACW
    Kristian Coates Ulrichsen

    http://arabcenterdc.org/policy_analyses/the-exclusionary-turn-in-gcc-politics

    The sudden rupture in diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Canada has thrown a spotlight on the regional political dynamics that have placed unprecedented and potentially irreversible strains on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Over the past three years the inclusionary vision that had originally created and sustained the GCC as a grouping of six relatively like-minded states has given way to an exclusionary security-centered approach to regional affairs. The GCC always functioned best as a loose collective of monarchies whose ruling families guarded their autonomy and resisted attempts to draw closer on “big ticket” issues that encroached on national sovereignty. This combination of flexibility and consensus saw the GCC states through three major interstate wars in the Gulf––the Iran-Iraq war, 1980-1988; the war to expel Iraq from Kuwait, 1990-1991; and the invasion of Iraq, 2003––and helped them maintain relative stability in an otherwise conflict-wracked region. However, the emergence of a hyper-hawkish geopolitical axis running from Riyadh to Abu Dhabi has widened existing fractures, created new fault lines, and inflicted potentially long-term damage on what had been the most durable regional organization in the Arab world.


  • As a Saudi student being forced to leave Canada, I’m going through the 5 stages of grief | CBC News
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/saudi-arabia-student-leave-canada-riyadh-1.4786874

    ​About 8,300 Saudi post-secondary students living in Canada were left shocked and scrambling earlier this month when Saudi Arabia abruptly ordered them to withdraw from their studies and leave the country by Aug. 31. The move was prompted by a foreign policy feud between Riyadh and Ottawa that started when the Saudi government took offence at a Canadian government tweet. Here, one of those students shares his story of how the diplomatic feud is devastating his dreams after years of hard work. CBC News has agreed to keep his identity confidential because he fears repercussions from his home country.

    #droits_humains #canada #arabie_saoudite

    https://seenthis.net/messages/716166