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    Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

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    Salaam

    Lets look at whats happening in Saudi Arabia.

    BAKU - King Salman of Saudi Arabia named his favourite son Mohammed bin Salman as next in line for the throne on June 21st. In addition to promotion, the King removed all titles from the former crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

    The reorganisation is nothing less than groundbreaking. Typically, Saudi Arabia has been ruled by kings in the 70s or 80s. But, in his 30s, bin Salman will become the youngest ruler in the history of the kingdom and thereby preside over the political, economic and social reforms in the country.



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    Re: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    Salaam

    Another look at internal Saudi politics



    Saudi Arabia - a key ally of the UK and America - has been ruled as an absolute monarchy since its foundation. Any opposition in the country is often brutally oppressed. BBC Arabic has been investigating allegations the Saudi monarchy has operated a system of illegal abduction and capture of dissident princes who have criticised the government, including evidence of princes kidnapped in Europe and forced back to Saudi Arabia, where they've not been heard from since. Reda El Mawy reports.



    - - - Updated - - -

    Salaam

    Another update

    Saudi Arabia denies an official visited Israel

    Saudi Arabia says reports several weeks ago that a senior prince secretly visited Israel were unfounded.


    Saudi Arabia on Sunday denied that any of its officials had visited Israel, several weeks after Israeli media reported that a senior prince had made a secret diplomatic trip to the Jewish state.

    Public radio station Kan Bet reported several weeks ago that a senior member of the Saudi royal family held high-level talks with Israeli officials during a clandestine trip to the Jewish state.

    An Arab media outlet later identified the reported visitor as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia and heir apparent to the throne.

    But on Sunday, a spokesman for the Saudi foreign ministry said, "Reports of a secret visit to Israel by a Saudi official which have appeared on some media are unfounded.”

    "Saudi Arabia has always been transparent as regards contacts and visits" to foreign countries, the spokesman said in a statement carried by the official Saudi SPA news agency.

    Israeli officials never confirmed the reports of the Saudi prince's visit, though the report came a day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu claimed that relations between Israel and the Arab world were better than ever before in Israel’s history.

    There have been many reports in recent years about cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia, but most of those have originated from Iran, Saudi Arabia's regional rival, which claimed that the Israelis and the Saudis had teamed up to sabotage its nuclear program.

    One Iranian report from 2013 claimed that the head of the Saudi intelligence service had met with several senior Israeli security officials, including the head of the Israeli Mossad, in Geneva.

    Last year, then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon hinted that there were channels of communication between Israelis and neighboring Sunni Arab countries.

    In June, the London-based Times newspaper reported that Israel and Saudi Arabia are in talks to establish formal economic ties.

    Officials in Saudi Arabia denied the report, saying that the sources cited in it are American officials, who apparently hope that this will be the next development.

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/237057

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    Re: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...-s-north-coast


    Saudi Arabia Just Announced Plans to Build a Mega City That Will Cost $500 Billion
    By Alaa Shahine , Glen Carey , and Vivian Nereim
    October 24, 2017, 3:35 AM MDT October 24, 2017, 9:46 AM MDT
    New city, called NEOM, to be connected to Egypt, Jordan
    Plan is latest mega project announced by the kingdom
    Saudi Prince's New City Promises Different Lifestyle
    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced plans to build a new city on the Red Sea coast, promising a lifestyle not available in today’s Saudi Arabia as he seeks to remake the kingdom in a time of dwindling resources.




    The prince said the city project, to be called “NEOM,” will operate independently from the “existing governmental framework” with investors consulted at every step during development. The project will be backed by more than $500 billion from the Saudi government, its sovereign wealth fund and local and international investors, according to a statement released on Tuesday at an international business conference in Riyadh.




    Mohammed bin Salman on Oct. 24. Photographer: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty Images
    The new project will likely surprise investors still trying to take stock of a series of major announcements made by the prince during his meteoric rise to power as he seeks to prepare Saudi Arabia for the post-oil era. In less than two years, he’s revealed plans to sell a stake in oil giant Saudi Aramco and create the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, and has ended a long-standing ban on female drivers.


    The prince, 32, made a rare public appearance at the conference to promote the project, telling the bankers and economic policy makers in attendance that the kingdom is moving to a “new generation of cities.” NEOM will be powered by clean energy, he said, and will have no room “for anything traditional.”


    Click here for a fact sheet on the project


    It will likely be met with the same mixture of optimism and doubt that has greeted his previous headline-grabbing announcements. His supporters can be expected to cheer what they see as a bold drive to transform the kingdom, while others will point to past failed attempts to overhaul the Saudi economy that also included industrial cities in the desert.


    International Connections


    The ambitious plan includes a bridge spanning the Red Sea, connecting the proposed city to Egypt and the rest of Africa. Some 10,000 square miles (25,900 square kilometers) have been allocated for the development of the urban area that will stretch into Jordan and Egypt.




    Klaus Kleinfeld, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Siemens AG and Alcoa Inc., was appointed to lead the development of NEOM. SoftBank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund on Tuesday signed an initial agreement with the kingdom’s wealth fund to buy a “significant” stake in state-controlled Saudi Electricity Co., and will provide energy for the new city. Saudi Arabia this year agreed to become a cornerstone investor in the Vision Fund.


    The project “seems to be broadly modeled on the ‘free zone’ concept pioneered in Dubai, where such zones are not only exempt from tariffs but also have their own regulations and laws, hence operating separately from the rest of government,” said Steffen Hertog, a professor at the London School of Economics and longtime Saudi-watcher. “In Dubai, this has worked well, but attempts to copy it have done less well in the region.”


    Conservative Clerics


    A promotional video released on Tuesday features a lifestyle so far unavailable in Saudi cities. It showed women free to jog in leotards in public spaces, working alongside men and playing instruments in a musical ensemble. The one woman wearing a hijab had her head covered with a patterned pink scarf.


    The kingdom has already announced a plan to transform hundreds of kilometers of Red Sea coast into a semi-autonomous world-class tourism destination and governed by laws “on par with international standards.”


    Read More: Saudi Arabia Unveils Plans to Draw Tourists to Red Sea Beaches


    The unveiling of the new project comes as Saudi officials, almost two years into the latest reform drive, are still grappling with how to speed up change without crippling the economy and clashing with the kingdom’s conservative religious establishment.


    The world’s biggest oil exporter wants to overhaul the economy while creating enough wealth to avoid the risk of social unrest. Similar efforts over the past three decades have floundered, with plans losing steam as soon as crude prices recovered. Some landmark projects, such as a $10 billion financial district in Riyadh, are struggling to take off.


    Details Needed




    “Saudi Arabia has announced a number of mega-projects recently, but what investors will ultimately look for is greater details, progress with plans and initial investment,” said Monica Malik, chief economist of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank. And while the planned, more liberal, regulatory framework for the city “could be positive for streamlining investment,” it didn’t gain traction with previous economic cities developed in the kingdom, she said.




    Prince Mohammed, who became heir to the throne this summer after his older cousin was removed from office, has vowed not to repeat past mistakes, insisting that his Vision 2030 will proceed regardless of oil prices. His government has cut subsidies, slashed spending to trim the budget deficit and it plans to introduce value-added taxation next year to raise non-oil revenue.


    Hertog said investors will want to see whether “circumventing some of the slow mainline bureaucracy and general social restrictions in Saudi Arabia in a special zone” can work. “If this is to be an international hub, it needs to offer something better than Dubai, which is a high bar to cross,” he said.


    The crown prince indicated he understood the challenge. “Dreaming is easy, achieving it is difficult,” he said.


    — With assistance by Nour Al Ali, Vivian Nereim, Donna Abu-Nasr, and Zainab Fattah

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    Re: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    Salaam

    Another update


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    Re: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    Salaam

    Another update

    The Night of the Long Knives in Riyadh

    Joe Gill writes on the Saudi crown prince’s bid to remove his rivals and the West’s interest in the kingdom’s game of thrones

    The Gulf region has seen nothing like it for decades. Saudi Arabia, which avoided the fate of other Arab regimes in the 2011 uprisings, and threw its money and support behind the overthrow of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad but failed to topple him, is in lockdown.

    Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has dressed up his purge of rivals as an anti-corruption drive but very few believe this.

    He’s getting rid of all his rivals for the throne before he replaces his ailing father, King Salman. And he’s doing it with the confidence that the US president is fully behind him.

    Donald Trump also backed his blockade of Gulf rival Qatar in June, but has failed to remove the ruling al-Thani family.

    Qatar, while also backing Sunni militancy across the region, favoured the Muslim Brotherhood in Eqypt and Hamas in Gaza.

    Saudi and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) favour military strongmen such as Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and see the Brotherhood as a danger to their rule.

    Mohammed bin Salman became defence minister and deputy crown prince in 2015 and promptly started a war in Yemen.

    Two and a half years later the poor southern neighbour is devastated but the Houthi government in Yemen’s capital Sanaa shows no sign of giving up.

    Saudi’s allies in the south are disunited, with al-Qaida growing in power thanks to its alliance with the anti-Houthi forces supported by Saudi and UAE.

    Which brings us to Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s power grab. The 32-year-old heir apparent became crown prince in June but has yet to achieve anything from all the mad and crazy schemes he has announced.

    These include a $500 billion city called Neom fronted by a robot and promised to be a kind of Blade Runner dystopia of rampant AI capitalism.

    Jared Kushner, Trump’s son in law and Israel point man, was hanging out with Prince Mohammed bin Salman last month and reportedly stayed up half the night strategising with him till 4am.

    Clearly this purge — which has reportedly seen two princes killed, one in a plane crash — is approved by Trump.

    In return for this support Trump is stating openly that he wants the floating of Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest state oil firm, on the New York Stock Exchange.

    This could mean Britain will be sidelined in this potential bonanza. But, as some observers have stated, this coup has hit pro-Western Saudi billionaires like Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud.

    This does not seem like an orderly move toward greater neoliberalism. Rather, it’s a naked power grab and seizure of rivals’ assets and power bases.

    History is replete with rogue rulers who seek to consolidate power by purging their opponents.

    But Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s purge is extraordinary for the way it has torn up the traditions of the 80-year-old kingdom which previously rotated power among the different princes and their children, while giving each a ministry to maintain power and milk for billions.

    The Saudi case is also dangerous for the regime’s Western backers since the stakes are so high. Britain has backed Saudi rule since the beginning while the US guarantees it militarily while gaining access to Saudi oil.

    Under Trump, this has become an alliance of US crony capitalism with its Saudi counterpart, with Israel backing it behind the scenes. Their joint plan, if it can be called that, is to challenge Iran and Hezbollah across the region, starting in Lebanon.

    The Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri, who is Saudi by passport with family money made in the kingdom, has been brought down because he was unable to challenge Hezbollah as commanded by his Saudi bosses.

    Extraordinarily, he resigned while visiting Riyadh, with some sources saying he was forced. Lebanon’s government has not accepted his resignation and Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah has said it was imposed on Hariri. “It was not his intention, not his wish and not his decision” to quit, Nasrallah said in a televised address.

    There is a historical comparison to be drawn with the cold war here. The wars that began with the US invasion of Iraq were supposed to eliminate all the threats to Israel in the region and to contain and overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    It hasn’t quite worked out. Iran has outplayed Saudi and the US in Syria and Iraq, leaving it, like the Soviet Union at the end of World War II, as a dominant power in its own backyard.

    As a Gulf dissident put it to me recently, the entire British-backed Sykes-Picot agreement and the regimes it established after World War I are coming apart.

    “Change here and change there are all connected,” he said. “The house of Saud replaced the Ottomans almost a century ago in the Arabian peninsula, but like the Ottomans, their days could well be numbered.”

    http://www.stopwar.org.uk/index.php/news-comment/2797-the-night-of-the-long-knives-in-riyadh

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    Re: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    Salaam

    Anoother comment piece

    From 'our man in Riyadh' to apologist for Saudi purge


    Sir John Jenkins, once regarded as the foremost Arabist of his generation at the British foreign office, is now providing intellectual cover for Mohammed bin Salman's version of the Saudi monarchy

    The project to establish Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a Middle Eastern strongman has a dubious collection of mainly Western backers.

    They include financiers with an eye on the Aramco billions, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mohammed bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi, the Trump family, ex-generals, spies, oilmen, unscrupulous PR fixers and a galaxy of bought and paid-for journalists who ought to be ashamed of themselves.

    Positive narrative

    Until last week however, bin Salman had lacked a theorist. There has been no equivalent of Soviet Russia's Mikhail Suslov, an eminent intellectual capable of explaining away the crimes of the regime and placing events within a positive narrative.
    Ladies and gentlemen, can we have a generous round of applause, please, to welcome the arrival of Sir John Jenkins, the former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia!

    Sir John, who was regarded as the foremost Arabist of his generation at the British foreign office, this week emerged as the Western world's most-learned apologist for bin Salman's Saudi Arabia.
    In a speech delivered this week at Policy Exchange, the neoconservative think tank, Sir John set out the historical, intellectual and above all the moral reasons for supporting bin Salman's version of the Saudi monarchy.

    Until now bin Salman has made his case through brute force, prison cells, torture chambers and most of all through a big fat chequebook. Sir John Jenkins advanced his case for bin Salman on a higher plane. It involved long words, complex sentences, a great deal of academic name-dropping, and a distinguished central London audience.

    To give a flavour, here's a typical sentence from Sir John's speech:

    "Our own fantasies are of transformed and benign Shia Islamist rule in Iran and Sunni Islamist acceptance of pluralist politics, the Rawlsian veil of ignorance, the Habermasian version of unprejudiced political debate in a liberal agora and of a region where the biggest challenges are not absolutist ideologies but illiberal state security structures. Yet successful electoral democracy requires the development of sustained habits of mind and social practices, a culture of civility and a shared sense of the past and the future."

    All clear? No? Don't worry. There's no need to panic. I've read Sir John's speech so that readers of Middle East Eye don't need to do so.

    Cut out the show-off name dropping and look-at-me academic jargon, and Sir John's speech can be boiled down to some very old-fashioned sentiments indeed.

    The Arabs can't be trusted with democracy. Not ready for it. Best to stick with the House of Saud because they are on our side and will do what we want.


    Colonial thinking


    Don't believe me? Here’s what Sir John also had to say:

    "But elections there continue for complex reasons to produce tribal, reactionary, sectarian and unstable governments. As a result, it is lifestyle liberals and the rulers of prosperous Gulf states who tend not to want elections. The latter have been more successful in material terms over the last 30 years and at least one has become a more attractive model for young Arabs than any other state or set of states in the region.

    They also work as state actors within state systems and mostly accept the same premises as we do about the conduct of external relations. Islamists in contrast have been a disaster, mistaking ideational coercion and social provision for ideological consent."


    Once again let's translate Sir John's long-winded academic oratory into English prose. His thesis is wearily familiar and could have come from the mouth of any British colonial official from the mid 20th century. Your ordinary Arab can't be trusted with the vote. Give him free elections and he might support the wrong chaps. That would never do!

    No surprise then that the Jenkins event was chaired by Tom Tugendhat, the latest establishment protege who is the new chairman of the UK's Foreign Affairs Committee, and tipped as a future prime minister. The Jenkins speech was an attack on Iran (Shia Islamism) and the Muslim Brotherhood (Sunni Islamism). Sir John argued that only nation states such as Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies came close to sharing the values and served the interests of the West.

    Substantial omission

    I have dealt with Sir John Jenkins from time to time and have always found him helpful and courteous.

    So here is some friendly advice as he embarks on his new career as a revered public intellectual making pronouncements about Islamism, the nation state, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the contemporary Middle East, etc.

    Sir John would do well to remember that intellectual honesty is even much important than the right academic phraseology. Sir John launched his defence of bin Salman in a dreadful week when the United Nations warned of famine-like conditions unfolding in areas of Yemen as a consequence of the Saudi-led blockade.

    Yet Sir John failed to address the terrible war in the Yemen, which has claimed many thousands of civilian lives, mainly at the hands of the Saudi-led system which Sir John supports.

    Free from influence?


    This was not the only substantial omission from Sir John's speech. There was no reference at all to bin Salman's imprisonment of leading members of his family or reports of their torture and beatings, nor to the way in which he has demolished alternative power centres in Saudi. This surely is a matter of deep relevance.

    I now turn to my second piece of advice for Sir John. I know him well enough to be certain that he is a man of total intellectual integrity. Others do not. That is why it is important that he should be seen to be free from influence. Since leaving the foreign office Sir John has held a senior position at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a think tank which specialises in the Middle East.

    The IISS describes itself as a "non-partisan organisation, independent of government and other bodies". However, as I demonstrated in this article for MEE, there is no doubting the closeness of its connection to Bahrain, which is a core part of the Saudi circle of influence in the Gulf.

    Next month, the IISS will host its annual Manama Dialogue security summit at the Bahraini capital's Ritz-Carlton hotel, whose sister hotel in Riyadh is currently being used as a detention and interrogation facility by the Saudi government.

    Asked to comment on reports of torture and beatings taking place within its facilities, a spokesperson for the Marriott International hotel group told MEE that the Ritz-Carlton and the neighbouring Courtyard hotel were "not operating as traditional hotels for the time being".

    I would imagine that Sir John could depend on a perfectly decent pension from the foreign office. Some – though not me – would question the purity of his judgments while he appears to be working as an executive director of an organisation with such close connections with Bahrain.

    So before going into print I put this point to Sir John, who responded in his usual honesty: "I worry myself about the way that influence is exerted not simply in what those - including myself - who work in organisations that receive outside funding (which quite honestly is almost everyone these days) say; but also what they don’t say.

    "On the other hand I will not say something that I don't believe. And so far I have not had to keep silent about something about which I’d like to speak."

    Britain's reputation


    Sir John also said he will soon be severing his ties with the IISS, and was already essentially "semi-detached" from the organisation, having also taken up a position at Yale University in the US.

    Although the IISS's website still describes him as "Executive Director, IISS-Middle East," he said he had agreed to work for the think tank for 48 days this year as a "Corresponding Director".

    "At the end of this year I and they are no longer an item at all," he wrote.

    I am relieved to hear it. Many wonder why Britain's reputation has declined across the Arab world in recent decades.

    Part of the reason is that too many of our former diplomats have put their knowledge and learning at the disposal of commercial organisations or national governments. This means they become open to the charge of have becoming advocates rather than scholars who can be trusted by all sides.

    If Britain is to be trusted once again in the Middle East, our Arabists must be seen as independent men and women who can speak truth to power. Meanwhile the bin Salman project goes from strength to strength.

    Let's hope and pray it's as benign as its backers claim.

    http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/saudi-arabia-john-jenkins-mohammed-bin-salman-458544410

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    Re: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/crown-pri...144808198.html


    World
    Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia vows to rid the world of Islamic terrorism
    Yahoo News UK Andy Wells,Yahoo News UK 4 hours ago
    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman vowed that extremists will no longer “tarnish our beautiful religion” (AP)
    The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia has vowed to rid the world of all Islamic terrorists during the first meeting of a new military alliance.


    Mohammed bin Salman signalled his intent to increase the fight against terrorism just days after jihadists slaughtered over 300 people at a mosque in Egypt.


    Speaking at the meeting of a new Islamic coalition in Riyadh, he told defence ministers: “Today we began tracking down terrorism and we see its defeat in many countries of the world, especially in Islamic countries.




    Prince Mohammed spoke at a meeting of the Islamic Military Counterterrorism Alliance in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (AP)
    “We will pursue it until it disappears completely from the surface of the earth.”


    Prince Mohammed promised stronger military and financial co-operation against terrorism after a series of incidents over recent years.


    Promising to bring moderate Islam to the region, he added: “The greatest danger of extremist terrorism is in distorting the reputation of our tolerant religion.”


    The coalition is made up of 41 largely Sunni-majority countries and describes itself as a “pan-Islamic unified front” against violent extremism.


    Shia-majority countries including Iran, Iraq and Syria are not included in the coalition.

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    Re: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    Salaam

    More comment

    Muhammad bin Kushner, Jared bin Salman, Daffy Duck & Co

    The problem with Daffy Duck, if you recall, is how, with his very limited mental means and compromised moral imagination, he is always trying to cover up his natural cowardice with vainglorious misadventures.

    Here he is posing as a fast-drawing gunslinger pulling his guns to threaten some big men playing poker in a saloon - unaware he has actually pulled down his own pants and exposed his colourful underwear.

    The same is with the two rich daddy's boys - Jared Kushner and Mohammed bin Salman - who are now so intertwined we get their names mixed up as they are committing war crimes in Yemen, throwing the Palestinian cause under the bus, reforming Islam Israeli-style, causing mayhem in Lebanon, and hope to begin bombing Iran and to invade with the last American soldier their petrodollars and AIPAC lobby can buy.

    In this simile, we also have a loudmouth Yosemite Sam, to be sure, whose name is Thomas Friedman. Thomas "Yosemite Sam" Friedman recently flew to Saudi Arabia and penned a long panegyric, utterly shameless in its banality, praising Mohammad bin Salman for initiating an "Arab Spring", no less, in Saudi Arabia. This detailed entry of the leading New York Times columnist for the Saudi "Minister of Love, Peace, Plenty, and Truth" (Bless your socialist soul, Brother Orwell - what would we do without you!) will remain in history as the final exhibit of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of American journalism.

    Not an insult but a clinical diagnosis


    Let me be blunt. Thomas Friedman is an ignorant fool - and I do not mean that as an insult. I mean it as a clinical diagnosis of an almost-illiterate man who has been cheated out of a proper undergraduate education, sold as a liberal Zionist to the highest bidder, and thus has managed to ramble and blabber his way up as a top-notch New York Times columnist.

    Just like Yosemite Sam, Thomas Friedman always barks much louder than he can bite. Like the cartoon character, Thomas Friedman always walks and yells with two drawn guns, for as an American Zionist, he travels with two nuclear powers (US and Israel) on his belt - and because this "imperial messenger" - as Belen Fernandez has rightly called him - walks with this two drawn guns, any claptrap he blurts out is published without any editorial sense of decency in the New York Times. We go to the "Paper of Record", as the thing calls itself, and without failure, we plunge into the ever-deepening abyss of a paper that has long since lost any sense of decency and self-respect.

    Imagine the intellectual bankruptcy, try to fathom the moral depravity, of considering what Mohammad bin Salman and Jared Kushner are doing in Saudi Arabia and beyond an "Arab Spring!" Which one is more ignorant: that you have no blasted clue what the Arab Spring was, or your calling the treacherous atrocities of Mohammad bin Salman the Saudi version of Arab Spring? Countless books, piles of learned essays by Arab and non-Arab scholars and critical thinkers have been produced about the minutest aspects of the Arab revolutions. In art, literature, poetry, and scholarship - in scholarly conferences, academic seminars, and learned volumes young and older scholars have done their best to figure out the significance of the Arab Spring and then in comes this propaganda officer and issues page after page of a nonsensical gibberish the likes of which scarce anyone can fathom even in the "post-truth" age of "alternative facts".

    Why would any self-respecting human being consider a palace coup in the Saudi royal family, led by a Zionist Arab prince, the highest achievement of the Arab Spring? What utter contempt could a person harbour for the democratic aspirations of millions of human beings who poured their heart, body, and soul into the streets and squares of their homeland to consider a juvenile delinquent's power mongering an "Arab Spring from the top"? What high school, what college, what school of journalism did this man drop out of to utter such hogwash and get it published in the New York Times? What editor at the New York Times could get up the following morning and look themself in the eye while their brushing teeth? It is beyond belief. And these people think they own and rule the world!

    Brown reformers and latter-day Lawrence of Arabia


    Someone has just counted the number of times the New York Times has, over the last 70 years, called members of the Saudi clan "reformers"!

    Thomas Friedman is the latest in the long panoply of Lawrences of Arabia dashing in and out of the peninsula in search of their oriental fantasies, of brown reformers facilitating their white imperial rule of the region. This lacklustre Yosemite Sam is neither the best nor the worst. He is just the most pathetically ridiculous. On behalf of his Zionist cousins, he is just elated to see a Saudi prince obsequious to white colonialists, while bombing and starving the Yemeni natives to death.

    Which one of Mohammad bin Kushner's deeds, however, the world is left wondering, are we to read on top of his Arab Spring achievements? Slaughtering Yemenis with US weapons, sacrificing Palestinians to Uncle Netanyahu's delight, stealing more Palestinian land for the settler-colonialism that his buddy Jared bin Salman is financing, dismantling the fragile peace in Lebanon, or forming a new Saudi-Zionist alliance to cause yet another disastrous war in the region, this time in Iran?

    To be sure, Iran is not exactly an innocent bystander here. Iran is the Bugs Bunny of this episode of the Looney Tunes - too smart and arrogant for its own good - knee-deep in the murderous mayhem of the Butcher of Damascus in Syria. But Iran is not the sole treacherous actor in this regional dance macabre. Everybody's hand is in someone else's pocket. From Turkey to Saudi Arabia, from Iran to Egypt, the ruling states, whether in opposition to US/Israel and Russia/China or in alliance with them, they scramble their rotten eggs and call the collective by-product ISIL.

    Mohammad bin Salman, Jared Kushner, Thomas Friedman, Saad Hariri, Donald Trump, Daffy Duck and company and all their nefarious machinations are now integral to a bad cartoon show we are forced to watch. Their acting would have been quite hilarious, were they not integral to a dangerous liaison endangering our fragile life on this endangered planet. We are running out of metaphors to understand this calamity. The axis of mendacity from Riyadh to Tel Aviv to New York requires a whole new set of allegories.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/muhammad-bin-kushner-jared-bin-salman-daffy-duck-171203092338779.html

  11. #9
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    Re: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    Salaam

    Another update, most interesting, Prince Salmans New Zionists friends are giving him helpful advice.

    The Saudi King Has a Problem: The Crown Prince

    In Yemen and in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia's all out war against Iranian influence has come to precious little. Will the crown prince be able to make a difference?


    Don’t envy Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is due to be appointed king soon. This week his policy suffered two painful blows – and apparently not the last ones. Two days ago the Houthi rebels in Yemen killed former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, two days after he declared his intention of “opening a new leaf with the Arab coalition” established by King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud Salman about two years ago. While this killing was shaking up the Saudi palace, on Monday Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri declared the cancellation of his resignation, which had been obtained through massive Saudi pressure.

    Saudi Arabia is waging an all-out war against Iranian influence in both of these countries, and in both it seems to be sliding down a slippery slope. Until recently Saudi Arabia was nurturing the elected Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who lives in Saudi Arabia and is unable (and unwilling) to return home. He is being replaced by commanders of Saudi military forces who are fighting aerial battles against concentrations of rebels, whose effectiveness is limited in the urban and hilly areas.

    After investing billions of dollars in the war, Mohammed bin Salman, who initiated it, concluded that the high cost doesn’t guarantee victory and that depending on Hadi was pointless. The prince is said to want to cut his military losses and withdraw from Yemen in exchange for some diplomatic arrangement.

    It was Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the acting ruler of the United Arab Emirates, who proposed a joint action plan with Saudi Arabia that would enable both to continue controlling the moves in Yemen. He is said to have suggested to Mohammed bin Salman to carry out an "internal revolution," which would cause the ousted Saleh to change course and join the Arab coalition instead of fighting alongside the Houthi rebels.

    Salah, who wanted to regain his position and who during his term waged harsh battles against the Houthi, gave four conditions: removing his name from the list of international sanctions; the promise of a political position in the new Yemen; that he and his family would remain safe; and financial demands.

    Apparently Saudi Arabia and the UAE agreed to the conditions, which included a rejection of Hadi, the legitimate president, and Salah declared his “revolution.”

    Had he not been murdered by his Houthi rivals, Saudi Arabia and the UAE might have had their “own” Yemeni president with an army loyal to him, who could confront the Houthis, but the plan failed. The Houthis, who were aware of the plan, tried until the last moment to convince him to remain a partner, but after his revolutionary speech he was removed.

    Saudi Arabia and the UAE now have no worthy presidential candidate. The options now are not good. Continuing the war to spite Iran is too expensive, both economically and diplomatically. But negotiations with the Houthis means giving in and leaving Yemen, which would remain under Houthi rule – that is, Iranian influence.

    Saudi Arabia has failed with its attempt at regime change in Yemen, and it realizes that it cannot dictate moves that will stop Iran and Hezbollah even in Lebanon, where it has direct and important direct influence. The crown prince had assumed that Hariri’s resignation would paralyze the government and cause political chaos. But as in Yemen, the Saudis didn’t have an endgame plan. Did they think that the Lebanese public would call for a surrender to Saudi demands, which centered on Hezbollah’s withdrawal from Syria, Iraq and Yemen? Did they believe that Iran would order Hezbollah to leave Syria?

    Hariri’s announcement indicates that Saudi Arabia hasn’t achieved anything. The agreement by all the government members to support a policy of nonintervention in the affairs of other countries doesn’t prevent Hezbollah from continuing to operate in all those countries – the declaration refers to the government, not the organization. In other words, the only political change in Lebanon is Iran’s delight and a slap in the face to Saudi Arabia.

    The next minefield for the Saudi crown prince is the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Nothing remains of his proposal for a territorially non-contiguous Palestinian state with Abu Dis as its capital – and whose leadership would be unable to demand the right of return for refugees. Now Saudi Arabia has aligned itself with all the Arab and Islamic countries against Trump’s intention to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, where the U.S. Embassy should be built.

    It looks as though Mohammed bin Salman has a long way to go before he can dictate Saudi policy to the Middle East.

    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/1.827058

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    Re: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/s...ecades-n828316


    Saudi Arabia to allow movie theaters for first time in decades
    by ASSOCIATED PRESS


    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia announced on Monday it will allow movie theaters to open in the conservative kingdom for the first time in more than 35 years.


    Movie theaters were shut down in the 1980s during a wave of ultraconservatism in the country. Many of Saudi Arabia's clerics view Western movies and even Arabic films made in Egypt as sinful.


    Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has recently backed reforms including lifting a ban on women driving and bringing back concerts and other forms of entertainment. The 32-year-old heir to the throne has also sought ways to boost local spending and create jobs amid lower oil prices.
    According to Monday's announcement, a resolution was passed paving the way for licenses to be granted to commercial movie theaters, with the first cinemas expected to open in March 2018.


    Saudi filmmakers and movie buffs have been able to circumvent traditional censors by streaming movies online and watching films on satellite TV. Many also travel to neighboring countries like Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to go to movie theaters.


    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Fayez Nureldine / AFP - Getty Images
    It was not immediately clear if movie theaters would have family-only sections, segregating women and families from the male-only audience. Another unknown was whether most major Hollywood, Bollywood and Arabic movie releases would be shown in theaters and how heavily edited the content will be.


    The Ministry of Culture and Information did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The government says it will announce regulations in the coming weeks.


    The kingdom says there will be 300 cinemas with around 2,000 screens built in the country by 2030.

  14. #11
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    Re: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    Salaam

    Another update, the Saudi Zionist alliance becoming more apparent.

    Israeli minister Katz 'invites Saudi crown prince'

    Israel's Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz has invited Saudi Arabia's crown prince to visit Israel in an interview with a Saudi news outlet, according to Haaretz.

    Katz confirmed to the Israeli daily that he extended the invitation to Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday in the interview with the UK-based independent news website Elaph.

    According to Haaretz, the excerpt with the invitation was edited out of the final version of the wide-ranging interview.

    Katz, in the interview, described Saudi Arabia as the "leader of the Arab world" and recommended that peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel happen under the kingdom's auspices.

    Israeli-Palestinian talks have been at a standstill, but US President Donald Trump had pledged to revive talks, with the US acting as a mediator in the process.

    Last week, Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, while planning to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, prompted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to "disqualify" the US to act as a mediator in future talks.

    Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has reiterated the kingdom's stated commitment to a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

    This has been the kingdom's official position on Trump's decision. The US move triggered a wave of protests from the Arab and Islamic world.

    However, according to a Reuters news agency report, Mohammed bin Salman is said to be acting on behalf of senior White House advisor Jared Kushner, and has presented Abbas with an American plan for Middle East peace.

    Officials from Saudi Arabia and Israel reportedly met in the past and a handful of similar invitations have been extended.

    Last month, Israeli Communications Minister Ayoub Kara invited Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh to visit Israel. Several days later, Israel's chief-of-staff Gadi Eizenkot gave the first-ever official interview to Elaph, saying that Israel is ready to share intelligence with Saudi Arabia on Iran.

    Though Saudi Arabia does not officially maintain diplomatic ties with Israel, recent developments appeared to have pushed Riyadh and Tel Aviv closer together.

    Analysts have said the covert ties between the two countries are based on the "common threat" of Iran and are part of a new regional dynamic.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/israel-minister-katz-invites-saudi-crown-prince-171214110827661.html

  15. #12
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    Re: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    Salaam

    Another update

    Mohammed bin Salman's ill-advised ventures have weakened Saudi Arabia’s position in the world

    Other states in the Middle East are coming to recognise that there are winners and losers, and have no wish to be on the losing side


    Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) of Saudi Arabia is the undoubted Middle East man of the year, but his great impact stems more from his failures than his successes. He is accused of being Machiavellian in clearing his way to the throne by the elimination of opponents inside and outside the royal family. But, when it comes to Saudi Arabia’s position in the world, his miscalculations remind one less of the cunning manoeuvres of Machiavelli and more of the pratfalls of Inspector Clouseau.

    Again and again, the impulsive and mercurial young prince has embarked on ventures abroad that achieve the exact opposite of what he intended. When his father became king in early 2015, he gave support to a rebel offensive in Syria that achieved some success but provoked full-scale Russian military intervention, which in turn led to the victory of President Bashar al-Assad. At about the same time, MbS launched Saudi armed intervention, mostly through airstrikes, in the civil war in Yemen. The action was code-named Operation Decisive Storm, but two and a half years later the war is still going on, has killed 10,000 people and brought at least seven million Yemenis close to starvation.

    The Crown Prince is focusing Saudi foreign policy on aggressive opposition to Iran and its regional allies, but the effect of his policies has been to increase Iranian influence. The feud with Qatar, in which Saudi Arabia and the UAE play the leading role, led to a blockade being imposed five months ago which is still going on. The offence of the Qataris was to have given support to al-Qaeda type movements – an accusation that was true enough but could be levelled equally at Saudi Arabia – and to having links with Iran. The net result of the anti-Qatari campaign has been to drive the small but fabulously wealthy state further into the Iranian embrace.

    Saudi relations with other countries used to be cautious, conservative and aimed at preserving the status quo. But today its behaviour is zany, unpredictable and often counterproductive: witness the bizarre episode in November when the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was summoned to Riyadh, not allowed to depart and forced to resign his position. The objective of this ill-considered action on the part of Saudi Arabia was apparently to weaken Hezbollah and Iran in Lebanon, but has in practice empowered both of them.

    What all these Saudi actions have in common is that they are based on a naïve presumption that “a best-case scenario” will inevitably be achieved. There is no “Plan B” and not much of a “Plan A”: Saudi Arabia is simply plugging into conflicts and confrontations it has no idea how to bring to an end.

    MbS and his advisers may imagine that it does not matter what Yemenis, Qataris or Lebanese think because President Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser, are firmly in their corner. “I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing,” tweeted Trump in early November after the round up and confinement of some 200 members of the Saudi elite. “Some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years!” Earlier he had tweeted support for the attempt to isolate Qatar as a supporter of “terrorism”.

    But Saudi Arabia is learning that support from the White House these days brings fewer advantages than in the past. The attention span of Donald Trump is notoriously short, and his preoccupation is with domestic US politics: his approval does not necessarily mean the approval of other parts of the US government. The State Department and the Pentagon may disapprove of the latest Trump tweet and seek to ignore or circumvent it. Despite his positive tweet, the US did not back the Saudi confrontation with Qatar or the attempt to get Mr Hariri to resign as prime minister of Lebanon.

    For its part, the White House is finding out the limitations of Saudi power. MbS was not able to get the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to agree to a US-sponsored peace plan that would have given Israel very much and the Palestinians very little. The idea of a Saudi-Israeli covert alliance against Iran may sound attractive to some Washington think tanks, but does not make much sense on the ground. The assumption that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the promise to move the US embassy there, would have no long-term effects on attitudes in the Middle East is beginning to look shaky.

    It is Saudi Arabia – and not its rivals – that is becoming isolated. The political balance of power in the region changed to its disadvantage over the last two years. Some of this predates the elevation of MbS: by 2015 it was becoming clear that a combination of Sunni states led by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey was failing to carry out regime change in Damascus. This powerful grouping has fragmented, with Turkey and Qatar moving closer to the Russian-backed Iranian-led axis, which is the dominant power in the northern tier of the Middle East between Afghanistan and the Mediterranean.

    If the US and Saudi Arabia wanted to do anything about this new alignment, they have left it too late. Other states in the Middle East are coming to recognise that there are winners and losers, and have no wish to be on the losing side. When President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called a meeting this week in Istanbul of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, to which 57 Muslim states belong, to reject and condemn the US decision on Jerusalem, Saudi Arabia only sent a junior representative to this normally moribund organisation. But other state leaders like Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, King Abdullah of Jordan and the emirs of Kuwait and Qatar, among many others, were present. They recognised East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital and demanded the US reverse its decision.

    MbS is in the tradition of leaders all over the world who show Machiavellian skills in securing power within their own countries. But their success domestically gives them an exaggerated sense of their own capacity in dealing with foreign affairs, and this can have calamitous consequences. Saddam Hussein was very acute in seizing power in Iraq but ruined his country by starting two wars he could not win.

    Mistakes made by powerful leaders are often explained by their own egomania and ignorance, supplemented by flattering but misleading advice from their senior lieutenants. The first steps in foreign intervention are often alluring because a leader can present himself as a national standard bearer, justifying his monopoly of power at home. Such a patriotic posture is a shortcut to popularity, but there is always a political bill to pay if confrontations and wars end in frustration and defeat. MbS has unwisely decided that Saudi Arabia should play a more active and aggressive role at the very moment that its real political and economic strength is ebbing. He is overplaying his hand and making too many enemies.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/mohammed-bin-salman-saudi-arabia-patrick-cockburn-qatar-lebanon-a8112426.html

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    Re: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    Salaam

    Another perspective


  17. #14
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    Re: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    Salaam

    Another update

    Report: Saudi billionaire Al-Waleed Bin Talal refuses settlement with Crown Prince


    Saudi renowned billionaire, Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal is reported to have rejected a settlement with the Saudi authorities in return for his freedom. The Financial Times reported two sources briefed on the investigations as saying that the prince intends to fight the allegations against him in court he even hired lawyers.

    The Saudi prince was arrested last month along with more than 200 people including members of the royal family and senior officials in the largest anti-corruption purge in the Kingdom’s history. However, many princes are reported to have reached a financial settlement in exchange for their freedom.

    Saudi Arabia wants to secure at least $100 billion in the purge to finance its budget deficit.

    Al-Waleed’s domestic and foreign investments have been severely hit with his detention approaches its second month.

    The paper said Al-Waleed has helped many financial and banking institutions over the years, most notably the US-bank Citigroup. “Now it is Prince Al-Waleed who is engulfed in a crisis following his detention last month as part of Riyadh’s anti-corruption crackdown. But, in his hour of need, nobody has publicly come to his aid as billions of dollars have been wiped off his fortune and the investment firm he founded, Kingdom Holding Company, has been plunged into uncertainty,” the paper added.

    However, the paper reported a banker close to Al-Waleed, 62 as saying that the prince might resort to striking a deal with the Saudi authorities to secure his freedom, which would mean that he has to relinquish some of his fortune.

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171218-report-saudi-billionaire-al-waleed-bin-talal-refuses-settlement-with-crown-prince/

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  19. #15
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    Re: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    Salaam

    Another update.

    Hey big spender! A look at the Crown Princes 'spending habits'

    Mystery Solved: Saudi Prince Is Buyer Of $450M DaVinci Painting

    The mystery over who paid a record-breaking $450 million for Leonardo da Vinci's painting Salvator Mundi at an auction last month appears to have been solved. It turns out it's Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

    That's according to U.S. intelligence officials who keep a close eye on the kingdom's young and powerful crown prince, says the Wall Street Journal.

    The winning bid in the November 15 auction at Christie's in New York was made anonymously by phone using a Christie's representative. The New York Times reported earlier that documents showed another member of the royal family, Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, placed the final bid. But intelligence officials say Bader was just a proxy for crown prince Mohammed.

    Normally, news of a wealthy and powerful member of Saudi Arabia's royal family buying a piece of art would not raise any interest. But the timing on this purchase was notable. It came just two weeks after Crown Prince Mohammed launched an anti-corruption campaign, rounding up more than 200 Saudi businessmen, ministers and princes. Most are being detained at a luxury hotel in the capital, Riyadh.

    The identity of the buyer became something of a parlor game. Even executives at Christie's had questions about who it was.

    Prince Bader did not present himself as a bidder until the day before the auction. At that time he put down a $100 million deposit to qualify for bidding. Christie's pressed him to establish both his identity and the source of his money. The prince's response was that he made his money in real estate, and that he was just one of some 5,000 Saudi princes.

    A spokeswoman for Christie's would not comment on the identity of the buyer, but did confirm the painting would be displayed at the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, a branch of the Louvre Museum in Paris. Louvre Abu Dhabi also tweeted the painting would be heading its way.

    The choice of painting is also curious. Salvator Mundi portrays Jesus holding an orb in his left hand while raising his right. Saudi Arabia adheres to a strict form of Islam which shuns visual portrayals of religious figures.

    The Journal says the painting was offered to the royal family in Qatar — Saudi Arabia's regional rival — in 2011 for a mere $80 million. They turned it down, and did not bid on it this time around.

    There are also questions about the authenticity of the painting. Some art critics say it lacks the vitality of da Vinci's work, and that it has been painted and scrubbed a number of times.

    The previous owner of Salvator Mundi was a Russian businessman, Dmitry Rybolovlev, who purchased it for $127 million in 2013.

    https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-...vinci-painting

    - - - Updated - - -

    Salaam

    Another update

    World’s Most Expensive Home?

    Another Bauble for a Saudi Prince

    A $300 million chateau is one of a string of extravagant purchases for a
    prince who is cracking down on ill-gotten wealth and preaching fiscal austerity.


    LOUVECIENNES, France — When the Chateau Louis XIV sold for over $300 million two years ago, Fortune magazine called it “the world’s most expensive home,” and Town & Country swooned over its gold-leafed fountain, marble statues and hedged labyrinth set in a 57-acre landscaped park. But for all the lavish details, one fact was missing: the identity of the buyer.

    Now, it turns out that the paper trail leads to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, heir to the Saudi throne and the driving force behind a series of bold policies transforming Saudi Arabia and shaking up the Middle East.

    The 2015 purchase appears to be one of several extravagant acquisitions — including a $500 million yacht and a $450 million Leonardo da Vinci painting — by a prince who is leading a sweeping crackdown on corruption and self-enrichment by the Saudi elite and preaching fiscal austerity at home.

    “He has tried to build an image of himself, with a fair amount of success, that he is different, that he’s a reformer, at least a social reformer, and that he’s not corrupt,” said Bruce O. Riedel, a former C.I.A. analyst and author. “And this is a severe blow to that image.”

    The story of Chateau Louis XIV, as pieced together through interviews and documents by The New York Times, unfolds like a financial whodunit, featuring a lawyer in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and a fixer for the very rich from the Mediterranean nation of Malta. Even Kim Kardashian made a cameo at the chateau, reportedly considering it for her wedding to Kanye West.

    The ownership of the chateau, in Louveciennes, France, near Versailles, is carefully shrouded by shell companies in France and Luxembourg. Those companies are owned by Eight Investment Company, a Saudi firm managed by the head of Crown Prince Mohammed’s personal foundation. Advisers to members of the royal family say the chateau ultimately belongs to the crown prince.

    Eight Investment was the same company that backed Prince Mohammed’s impulse buy of the 440-foot yacht from a Russian vodka tycoon in 2015. The company also recently bought an 620-acre estate in Condé-sur-Vesgre, known as Le Rouvray, an hour’s drive from Paris. The chateau’s architect is refurbishing the manor house there and building structures for an apparent hunting compound, according to permit records at the local town hall.
    Versailles Style, Modern Amenities

    The chateau’s developer, Emad Khashoggi, nephew of the late billionaire arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, bulldozed a 19th-century castle in Louveciennes to make way for the new chateau in 2009. To the naked eye it appears to have been built in the time of Versailles, the royal palace that set a world standard for gaudy luxury. But the 17th-century design camouflages 21st-century technology. The fountains, sound system, lights and whisper-silent air conditioning can all be controlled remotely by iPhone.

    Along with more standard flourishes for top-of-the-line properties, like a wine cellar and movie theater, the rotunda features an exquisite fresco on the ceiling while the moat includes a transparent underwater chamber with sturgeon and koi swimming overhead. A statue of Louis XIV made of Carrara marble stands watch over the grounds.

    “The idea is tacky, and then once you visit it isn’t,” said Marianne Merlino, who was the town’s deputy mayor during construction. “Like in Versailles, that was way over the top too, and like Louis XIV, he achieved something really quite incredible.”

    An Assertive Young Leader

    In less than three years in the public eye, Crown Prince Mohammed, 32, has forged a reputation as an assertive — some critics say reckless — leader. He launched an air campaign in Yemen and spearheaded the blockade of Qatar. Yet he also appears to have won the popular support of many young Saudis for reining in the country’s religious police, promising to give women the right to drive and announcing that movie theaters will be allowed to open again.

    But his swift rise has ruffled some of his elders, especially when he shoved aside his older cousin to become crown prince. He has come under even more scrutiny since the arrests last month of nearly a dozen of his royal cousins and hundreds of other businessmen or officials, who have been detained at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, now the world’s most luxurious jail. The government characterized the arrests as a crackdown on corruption but critics have called it a political purge and a shakedown.

    Crown Prince Mohammed, in an interview with The New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, said he expected the state to recoup some $100 billion in settlements from the detained elite. But he dismissed as “ludicrous” accusations that the arrests were politically motivated, saying that was the only way to root out corruption and self-dealing.

    “So you have to send a signal, and the signal going forward now is, ‘You will not escape,’ ” he said.

    Neither he nor the Saudi government responded to requests for comment for this article.

    Austerity at Home, Luxury Abroad


    Even before the crackdown, unbridled spending by the king’s family, whose income sources remain opaque, had raised eyebrows. With the price of oil, the main source of the country’s wealth, having plummeted from record highs in the past decade, the government has tried to close yawning budget deficits with financial discipline.

    But last year, even as the government canceled a quarter of a trillion dollars’ worth of projects to rein in deficits, King Salman was building a luxurious new vacation palace on the Moroccan coast.

    The year before, shortly after he was named deputy crown prince, Prince Mohammed was vacationing in the south of France when he fancied a magnificent yacht with two swimming pools and a helicopter.

    A trove of records leaked from a Bermuda law firm, known as the Paradise Papers, reveal how platoons of lawyers, bankers and accountants in Germany, Bermuda and the Isle of Man worked furiously to quickly transfer ownership to Eight Investment. The price, according to drafts of the contract, was 420 million euros, or $494 million in today’s dollars — even more than that for the chateau.

    Emails between the lawyers said the yacht would be owned by a Cayman Islands company called Pegasus VIII, which was created in 2014 when Prince Mohammed was reported to have bought another yacht, renamed the Pegasus VIII. That yacht cost about $60 million, according to the seller, Ronald Tutor, a California investor.

    Last month, Leonardo da Vinci’s painting “Salvator Mundi” sold for $450.3 million to an anonymous buyer, the highest price for any work of art sold at auction. The buyer, The Times found, turned out to be an obscure Saudi prince with close ties to Crown Prince Mohammed. People familiar with the sale and American intelligence officials said he was acting on behalf of the crown prince.

    The Saudi government later disputed that report, saying variously that the Saudi buyer acted as an agent for Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, where the painting will hang at the new branch of the Louvre, or that the crown prince had purchased the painting to give to Abu Dhabi. People familiar with the details insist the crown prince was the real buyer at the time of the sale.

    While the spending habits of Saudi princes have been chronicled for decades, the Paradise Papers as well as the Panama Papers — leaked records obtained by a German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and other news organizations — provide new details. Crown Prince Mohammed’s wealth, vast as it is, represents only a portion of the riches accumulated by King Salman’s branch of the House of Saud.

    In addition to two stately homes in London connected to King Salman, his son, Prince Turki bin Salman, is listed as the guarantor of an Isle of Man company that sold a penthouse apartment a short walk from Westminster Abbey for over $35 million in 2014. Prince Sultan bin Salman, a half brother of the crown prince and the first Arab in outer space, purchased a luxury Boeing jet that typically costs more than $100 million through an offshore shell company.

    King Salman’s vast compound on Spain’s southern coast is owned by two Panamanian companies, which are in turn controlled by a Luxembourg company belonging to the king and his children. Another holding company, based in the tiny principality of Liechtenstein, owns the king’s villa on the French Riviera, where the actress Rita Hayworth celebrated her marriage in 1949.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/16/w...e-chateau.html

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    Re: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    Salaam

    Another update

    'We put our man on top', Trump said on MBS, book claims

    US President Donald Trump took credit for Saudi Arabia's political shakeup which resulted in the elevation of Mohammed bin Salman to the position of crown prince last year, according to a startling account of his administration's first year in the White House.

    The suggested claim is included in Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, a controversial new book by Michael Wolff which reveals, among others, the US president's close connections to Saudi Arabia.

    "We've put our man on top," Trump is said to have claimed to friends, according to the book, after Saudi King Salman removed his nephew Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as next-in-line to the throne and replaced him with his son, Mohammed bin Salman, in June 2017.

    The move marked a departure from Saudi Arabia’s line of succession, breaking with decades of custom maintained by the Kingdom’s royal family.

    The veracity of the book's claims has been contested by Trump, who said on Friday Wolff's book is "full of lies”.

    Trump visited Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh, in May 2017 at the beginning of his first overseas tour as US president, having hosted Mohammed bin Salman in Washington, DC, two months earlier.

    Mohammed Cherkaoui, a professor of conflict resolution at George Mason University, told Al Jazeera the account provided by Wolff in his book was "well-researched".

    "This is based on scores of interviews with people inside the White House and around Trump," he said.

    "It explains to some extent how Trump managed to influence the decision of King Salman … [and] goes back to the period when Mohammed bin Salman visited the US in March and the Riyadh summit which Trump attended in May [when] apparently he was lobbying ... [for] a powerful man," added Cherkaoui.

    "[Trump] was basically grooming Mohammed bin Salman."

    The US president has been openly supportive of the Saudi crown prince in recent months, notably praising him after the dismissals and arrests of a number of senior ministers, businessmen and princes as part of an alleged anti-graft campaign.

    "I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing," Trump said on Twitter two days after the anti-corruption crackdown began on November 4.

    Cherkaoui said Trump's backing of the Saudi crown prince is a reflection of the US president's "political philosophy".

    "He wants to deal with individuals, not institutions and not governments, so it's a one-to-one," he said.

    "Trump saw in Mohammed bin Salman somebody who has the right influence, and also someone who would put the Saudi-US relationship into a higher dimension, both in an economic and strategic way [and help] combat terrorism which has become the new currency of Trumpism."

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/01/put-man-top-trump-mbs-book-claims-180105124054629.html

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    Re: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    Salaam

    Another update

    Activists demand UK cancel Mohammed Bin Salman visit

    Activists in the UK are calling on British Prime Minister Theresa May to withdraw an invitation to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who is expected to visit within a few weeks.
    Groups including the Stop the War coalition, the Campaign Against Arms Trade, and the Arab Human Rights Organisation, published an open letter on Friday accusing the heir to the Saudi throne of overseeing the war on Yemen and deepening a humanitarian crisis there.

    "[Mohammed bin Salman] is the second most senior member of the Saudi regime, which has one of the worst human rights records in the world," the statement read.

    "Torture, arbitrary detention, and other appalling abuses are widely documented."

    Stephen Bell, one of the activists leading the campaign to stop the visit, told Al Jazeera the UK should not "lay out the red carpet" for Mohammed Bin Salman, who is known as MBS.

    "Up to 11 million Yemeni children are at risk either from the war or cholera, famine caused by the blockade of the country and the destruction of infrastructure," he said.

    "All this means it's not suitable to invite someone who holds prime responsibility for the continuation of the war."

    Since the Saudi-led military intervention started in Yemen in March 2015, the Arab world's poorest country has found itself on the brink of a devastating humanitarian crisis, with the UN warning of widespread famine and spread of disease. More than eight million people do not have adequate access to food and more than a million have contracted cholera.

    UK support

    British arms companies are some of the biggest suppliers of weapons to Saudi Arabia, and the British government has approved billions of pounds in export licenses over the past three years. Rights groups have repeatedly condemned the Saudi-lead coalition over civilian casualties in Yemen, but the UK has yet to take any punitive measures against Riyadh. British officials say they are monitoring the use of UK-manufactured weapons by Saudi Arabia to "ensure" they are used appropriately.

    The conflict between the Saudi coalition and Houthi rebel fighters has left more than 10,000 people dead and devastated much of the country's infrastructure.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/01/activists-demand-uk-halts-mohammed-bin-salman-visit-180126071559276.html

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    Re: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    Future of this country is uncertain
    Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    Allah (swt) knows best

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    Re: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    KSA has always been a backyard of the States but this guy just looks an American-Israeli agent. I am very afraid of the future of the Peninsula when he becomes the king and I am afraid he will be.
    1 | Likes Junon liked this post
    Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    If you have broken a heart, what you offer is not Salah..

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    Re: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince

    Salaam

    Yes its no great secret that Sauds are 'influenced' by outside powers, that's putting it mildly. Its to a forum credit that its finally opening up, instead of just targeting the usual suspects.

    Mind you looks like my earlier post is deleted, oh well long way to go.

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