Blog note: The killing of Jamal Khashoggi has geo-political and prophetic significance. It has exposed the extremes that the Saudi Government will go to ‘silence’ even the smallest or greatest of dissent and criticism. It also showcases the growing evil behind Mohammed Bin Salman and the cult of obedience to him. He is highly regarded by his millennial generation (he is in his early 30’s) and is widely considered the future face of the country. He is also in line to become the 8th King of Saudi Arabia from the House of Saud. However, his track record in the very few short years he has been on the stage in the Middle East is worrisome. Yes, there have been despots and dictators all over the Middle East for decades. Nothing new. HOWEVER, the power that is coalescing around Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) is worrisome because of the role Saudi Arabia plays in the Middle East, its size and influence with OPEC, its role as one of the largest oil producers in the world, its relationship with the U.S./Trump over arms deals, its oil agreements with Putin/Russia and so on. Strangely, Saudi Arabia and ‘MBS’ have sided with Israel, since IRAN is both Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s nemesis in the Middle East. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. This is a fairly recent development and has further prophetic implications because other Arab countries tend to follow the Saudi’s lead. Mohammed Bin Salman has that much political and financial muscle with most of his Arab brethren. All of this on-top of the pending ‘deal of the century’ by Donald Trump to offer or create an ‘agreement’ (covenant) of ‘peace and safety’ or ‘peace and security’ between Israel and the Palestinians. The so-called ‘two state solution’. Jared Kushner, Trump’s creative genius behind crafting the plan has routinely met with and conferred with Mohammed Bin Salman during the construction of this ‘peace’ plan. Presumably, whatever peace plan is unveiled and agreed upon between the parties will have to gain wider acceptance in the region by means of a ‘confirmation’ or verification that everyone in the region will abide by the covenant or agreement. Perhaps it will be up to the MBS and Saudi Arabia to police and ensure that the plan will be enforced and actively implemented by all those concerned. The ‘Big Brother’ in the region will make sure everyone toes the line and doesn’t cross the agreement. Who in the region might have the ‘political weight’ or strength to solidly ‘confirm’ the ‘covenant of peace and security’ for Israel? Mohammed Bin Salman. End of note.
Blog note 2. If you have followed the world wide reaction to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, most world leaders are tip-toeing around doing anything constructive against Saudi Arabia and Mohammed Bin Salman. Excuses have ranged from protecting arms deals, to keep the oil flowing, to maintain ‘stability’ in the Middle East (keep the status quo), to keep the allegiance and alliance together against Iran and so forth. There are higher geo-political issues at stake than severing political, military and financial relationships with Saudi Arabia and MBS because the Saudi’s killed a dissenter. MBS will come out of this relatively unscathed. Already, there are scapegoats and fall-guys. Nothing new here. No one wants to touch Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) for all these reasons and more. Oh, by the way, follow the BIG-BIG-BIG money… The recent investment initiative held in Saudi Arabia still drew some of the world’s biggest money kingpins from Japan and Europe. Even with some invited attendees sitting out the conference because of the Khashoggi killing, Saudi Arabia still received commitments of an additional $50 Billion investment funds. This is on TOP of a $2 Trillion sovereign investment fund that MBS has set up to fund his ‘vision 2030’ agenda and NEOM, a $500 Billion Babylon/high-tech oasis in Saudi Arabia that is planned to be 26,500-square km (10,230-square mile) business and industrial zone that will sit on the intersection of three countries, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt and is on both the Red Sea and Sea of Aqaba. It will be 17X the size of London and 22X the size of New York. All of these are the Great Convergence of Signs. End of note.
The CBS Interview With Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman Was a Crime Against Journalism
Mehdi Hasan. March 19 2018, 11:33 a.m.
“AT JUST 32, Mohammed bin Salman seems fearless and determined. He has quickly become the most dominant Arab leader in a generation.” That’s how “60 Minutes” began its interview with, and profile of, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, Sunday evening, ahead of his visit to the White House on Tuesday.
Launched on CBS in 1968, “60 Minutes” has been described as “one of the most esteemed news magazines on American television” and has won more Emmy awards than any other primetime U.S. TV show. It claims to offer “hard-hitting investigative reports, interviews, feature segments and profiles of people in the news.”
Got that? Award-winning. “Esteemed.” “Hard-hitting.”
So why did the segment on MBS resemble more of an infomercial for the Saudi regime than a serious or hard-hitting interview? “His reforms inside Saudi Arabia have been revolutionary,” intoned correspondent Norah O’Donnell prior to the start of her exclusive sit-down with the crown prince in Riyadh. “He is emancipating women, introducing music and cinema, and cracking down on corruption.”
Move over Tom Friedman and David Ignatius — in O’Donnell, the Saudis seem to have found a new cheerleader within the U.S. press corps. Forget the Saudi bombardment and siege of Yemen, described by United Nations agencies as “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” which received a mere two minutes of coverage over the course of a 30-minute segment. Forget the horrific Saudi record of beheadings and stonings, which received zero coverage from the “60 Minutes” team in Riyadh. Instead, we were treated to O’Donnell oohing and aahing over the crown prince’s youthfulness, workaholism, and — lest we forget — support for women drivers.
The interview itself consisted of one softball question after another. (Example: “What’s been the big challenge?” Another example: “What did you learn from your father?”)
So, in a spirit of constructive criticism, and in an attempt to try and push back against the U.S. media’s bizarre love affair with MBS ahead of his D.C. visit …
Here are 10 much tougher, more relevant questions that “60 Minutes“could and should have asked
1) You helped launch the war in Yemen in 2015 and continue to accuse Houthi rebels of causing all the violence and suffering there, yet the United Nations has blamed airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition for the majority of Yemeni civilian deaths while Amnesty International has documented “34 air strikes … by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition that appear to have violated international humanitarian law” including “attacks that appear to have deliberately targeted civilians and civilian objects such as hospitals, schools, markets and mosques.” How do you square “reform” at home with war crimes abroad?
2) You have said in this interview that the Houthi rebels in Yemen “block humanitarian aid in order to create famine and a humanitarian crisis,” but what about your own role in causing that crisis? A U.N. panel of experts “found that Saudi Arabia is purposefully obstructing the delivery of humanitarian aid into Yemen.” Is it not a moral outrage for one of the richest countries in the Middle East to be starving the poorest country in the Middle East?
3) Congratulations on lifting the Saudi ban on women drivers, but when will you be abolishing the death penalty for blasphemy, sorcery, adultery, and homosexuality? Isn’t it true that more people have been beheaded by your government than by the Islamic State?
4) You have compared Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s unelected and self-styled “supreme leader,” to Adolf Hitler, but what about your own autocratic style of rule? You have cracked down on dissent by rounding up clerics, intellectuals, and activists and have detained and allegedly tortured your fellow princes — is it any wonder that the prominent Saudi journalist and former adviser to the royal family, Jamal Khashoggi, has compared you to Vladimir Putin and called you Saudi Arabia’s very own “supreme leader”?
5) You say these princes had to be arrested as part of an anti-corruption drive, but how are Saudi citizens supposed to know whether or not you’re corrupt, too? After all, you’re the prince who spotted a Russian-owned luxury yacht while on holiday in the south of France and then bought it on the spot for $550 million — where did that money come from?
6) Shouldn’t you also be wary of invoking Hitler given Saudi Arabia’s history of brazen anti-Semitism? In fact, as part of your “reform” efforts, would you be willing to apologize for the Saudi-based Arab Radio and Television Network’s production of a TV series based on the notorious “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”; or for the imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca calling Jews “rats of the world” and “the scum of the earth”; or for your own father, King Salman, attributing the 9/11 attacks to a Mossad “plot”?
7) You have suggested in this interview that Iran is working with Al Qaeda. Yet Bob Graham, the former chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has said that 28 declassified pages of the 2002 Congressional Joint Inquiry suggest “a strong linkage between [the 9/11] terrorists and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Saudi charities, and other Saudi stakeholders.” Isn’t it time the government of Saudi Arabia admitted to its extensive and long-standing role in funding, arming, and inciting “jihadi” terrorism?
8) Isn’t it the case that the Saudi education system fans the flames of intolerance and extremism? How else do you explain the fact that when ISIS “needed textbooks to distribute to schoolchildren in Raqqa, it printed out copies of Saudi state textbooks found online”?
9) You have said in this interview that the Iranians “want to expand” in the region. But was it the Islamic Republic of Iran or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under your leadership, that detained not one, but two, elected heads of Arab governments — the president of Yemen and the prime minister of Lebanon — against their will?
10) You and your ministers have dubbed your changes and reforms a “revolution.” So why not stand for election yourself and allow the citizens of Saudi Arabia to choose their own leader? After all, how can it be called a “revolution” if the absolute monarch is still in absolute control of the country at the end of it?
IT WAS MOHAMMED bin Salman’s “first interview with an American television network,” bragged O’Donnell at the beginning of the show. Yet she and her award-winning “60 Minutes” team of producers and researchers threw away a unique, on-camera opportunity to hold an unelected dictator to account. Shamefully, O’Donnell did not mention the words “democracy” or “elections” even once. Rather, in the final moments of the interview, the CBS correspondent seemed to be positively giddy at the prospect of MBS ruling over Saudi Arabia for the rest of his life. “You’re 32 years old. You could rule this country for the next 50 years,” she exclaimed, adding: “Can anything stop you?”
CBS might like to call this “hard-hitting” reporting. I prefer to call it a crime against journalism.