Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi murder and more

This 19 October 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Dr. Madawi Al-Rasheed: In Khashoggi Murder, Saudi Arabia Must Not Be Allowed to Investigate Itself

As details continue to emerge about the disappearance and probable murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, we speak with Saudi dissident Madawi Al-Rasheed about Khashoggi’s history as a Saudi journalist & government insider and the future of Saudi Arabia. She is a visiting professor at the London School of Economics Middle East Center. She was stripped of her Saudi citizenship in 2005 for criticizing Saudi authorities. Her new piece in the New York Times is titled “Why King Salman Must Replace M.B.S.

This 19 October 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Evidence is mounting that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is directly implicated in the assassination of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Turkish officials say Khashoggi was tortured and murdered by a squad of 15 Saudi hit men shortly after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Four of the men implicated in Khashoggi’s death are reportedly linked to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s security detail.

After weeks of defending Saudi Arabia, President Trump said Thursday that he believes Khashoggi is dead and acknowledged allegations against the Saudis. We speak with Madawi Al-Rasheed, a Saudi dissident and visiting professor at the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics.

Julia Conley, “While President Continues to Play Dumb on Murder, 2016 Reporting Shows Saudis Only Blacklisted Kashoggi After Journalist Criticized… Trump”, Common Dreams, 18 oktober 2018.

‘We Call BS’: As Saudi Arabia Claims Khashoggi Killed in ‘Fistfight,’ Trump White House Issues ‘Laughably Weak’ Response. Saudi Arabia’s “explanation for the arbitrary execution of Jamal Khashoggi is just not plausible. No government should accept it,” says U.N. special rapporteur on extra-judicial executions: here.

Saudi-Loving Corporate Media Pundits Run for Cover in the Wake of Jamal Khashoggi Outrage. As Tom Friedman of the New York Times (and others) furiously backtrack on the Saudi prince, an ugly truth emerges. By Andrew O’Hehir.

Khashoggi’s Murder and Saudi War Crimes in Yemen Were Facilitated by US: here.


Governments, stop supporting Saudi regime, journalists say

A young Yemeni girl is recovered dead after a Saudi bombing raid

This photo shows a young Yemeni girl, recovered dead after a Saudi bombing raid.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Saturday, 20 October 2018

‘Murder with impunity’

Stop appeasing Saudi regime, says International Federation of Journalists

AS MORE and more evidence emerges about the gruesome nature of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called on the international community to stop appeasing the Saudi regime. Converging reports from Turkish and international media and video footage indicate that the journalist was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by Saudi hitmen, some with links to the government.

Furthermore, Turkish investigators announced that the search of the consulate on Monday has brought more evidence that Khashoggi was killed there. In a statement the IFJ said: ‘It is increasingly clear the Saudi government is engaged in weaving a carefully orchestrated tissue of lies to cover up their role in Jamal’s killing.

‘The idea that it takes days for the Saudi regime to find out what happened inside their own consulate is unbelievable – it is an embarrassing charade. ‘The impunity with which the Saudis are acting is grotesque but it is in many ways matched by the sight of leading governments around the world displaying their willingness to aid and abet this gross cover-up to protect their own financial and political interests.

‘All over the world human rights advocates are speaking out, some companies have already imposed sanctions and boycotted events linked to the Saudi regime. ‘Now governments must act – they have economic levers, diplomatic tools and international instruments to seek to bring the killers and those who ordered it to justice.

‘The EU and US have sanctioned Russia and Venezuela over claims of state sponsored killing. Why the lack of action on Saudi Arabia?’ In the coming days, IFJ affiliates across the world will call on their governments to halt cooperation with Saudi Arabia until its government tells the truth and arrests the perpetrators.

An IFJ delegation will meet with officials at the UN in New York early next week to press for further action against impunity and an independent international investigation on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

The United Kingdom is currently discussing a new terror bill including a wide range of anti-terrorism and border security measures. Many voices, including the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), and recently the influential Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR), raised concerns on the bill and its possible side effects on freedom of the press.

The bill aims to close a number of loopholes in existing counter-terrorism legislation, in order to guarantee enough powers to the police and security services. However, according to the NUJ, the bill contains ‘a number of clauses that could gravely endanger legitimate, public interest, media reporting of terrorists and terrorism’.

The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ/EFJ) backed their affiliate in the UK in opposing legislation that may criminalise information-seeking and freedom of expression.

The NUJ is particularly worried about three clauses: 1. The clause on expressions of support for proscribed organisations, which doesn’t clearly define what types of speech would constitute an ‘expression of support’, limiting any debates about proscription and de-proscription of organisations.

2. The clause on publication of images, which lacks clarity as to what would be considered as terrorist content. 3. The clause on obtaining or viewing material over the internet, which may criminalise journalistic and academic researches.

These concerns were backed by the parliamentary Committee on Human Rights.

On 12 October, it tabled 29 amendments to prevent the bill ‘from crossing the line on human rights’ and restrict free speech and curb access to information.

The May government has yet to formally respond to the committee’s report. The bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 6 June 2018, and was introduced to the House of Lords on 12 September 2018. The next step will be the Committee stage, a line-by-line examination scheduled to start on 29 October.

Saudi regime’s new lies on murdering journalist

This video from the USA says about itself:

As Saudi Confirms Khashoggi’s Murder, Will We Stop Its Murder in Yemen?

19 October 2018

Hours after this segment was recorded, the Saudi government confirmed the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. But there is ongoing silence over the US-backed Saudi war on Yemen, which has killed tens of thousands and is threatening a historic famine. We speak to Dr. Martha Mundy of the London School of Economics, author of a new report that accuses of Saudi of a deliberate campaign “to destroy food production and distribution” in Yemen.

By James Cogan:

Saudi regime admits Khashoggi was killed in its Istanbul consulate

20 October 2018

The Saudi Arabian monarchial regime finally admitted late Friday that dissident Saudi journalist and Washington Post correspondent Jamal Khashoggi was killed on October 2 inside its consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. The acknowledgment comes after more than two weeks in which Saudi officials insisted that Khashoggi left the consulate unharmed and that they had no knowledge of his whereabouts.

The admission that Khashoggi was in fact killed was presented by the country’s chief public prosecutor in a statement delivered on national television. It was made in the face of detailed reports by Turkish investigators that a 15-man team of Saudi intelligence agents, with close ties to the heir to the throne and de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was flown into Istanbul to assassinate Khashoggi. The journalist was viewed with hostility by the Saudi regime because of his criticisms of the crown prince and the murderous US-backed war being waged by Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

Khashoggi had visited the consulate on September 28 to finalise divorce proceedings from his Saudi wife so he could marry his Turkish fiancée. He returned on October 2 to pick up documents.

Turkish officials say that audio and video recordings in their possession show that the journalist was seized by the hit squad and brutally tortured and murdered, after which his body was dismembered and taken out of the building in suitcases by the Saudi operatives. The remains may have been flown to Saudi Arabia, though Turkish police have been conducting searches in forested areas on the outskirts of Istanbul.

The alternative version of events advanced by the Saudi regime is a fantastic and brazen attempt to substantiate its absurd claim, echoed by the Trump administration, that “rogue killers” carried out the murder without the knowledge of the crown prince or other key figures in the Saudi ruling elite. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held meetings with Saudi King Salman and the crown prince on Tuesday, during which they agreed that an “accounting” of what had happened to Khashoggi would be presented.

The prosecutor asserted that the intelligence team had gone to Istanbul because Khashoggi had indicated an interest in returning to Saudi Arabia. A discussion “developed in a negative way” and “led to a fight and a quarrel between some of them and the citizen.” The fight purportedly “aggravated to lead to his death and their attempt to conceal and cover what happened.” The Saudi monarchy, he declared, “expresses it deep regret at the painful development and stresses the commitment of the authorities in the Kingdom to bring the facts to the public.”

The prosecutor stated that 18 unnamed people had been arrested in connection with Khashoggi’s death. It appears that this group will be the patsies offered up by the regime as the “rogue” elements who carried out the killing and sought to conceal it from the government.

Five top-ranking Saudi officials have been removed from their positions but not charged with any crime. They are the crown prince’s advisor Saud al-Qahtani, deputy intelligence chief Major General Ahmed as-Assiri and three other generals in the country’s military-intelligence apparatus. The official Saudi news outlet reports that the king has ordered an unspecified restructuring of the General Intelligence Presidency, the country’s main intelligence agency.

The commission to pursue the investigation and oversee the reorganization is reportedly to be headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman himself.

Almost universally, the Saudi narrative is being dismissed in the US political and media establishment and around the world as a crude attempt at cover-up based on an improbable patchwork of lies.

Ahead of the US congressional elections, the Democratic Party and publications such as the New York Times and Washington Post are seeking exploit the situation to denounce Trump for his well documented financial relations with the Saudi monarchy and his endorsement of its cover-up of the murder of Khashoggi.

Times correspondent Nicholas Kristof wrote in an op-ed piece published this week: “The United States should quietly make clear to the Saudi royal family that the Mad Prince has gone too far— not just with this murder, but also his war in Yemen, his confrontation with Qatar, his kidnapping of Lebanon’s prime minister—and will forever be tainted. A murderer belongs not at state dinners but in a prison cell.”

Such rhetoric from the Democratic Party-linked faction of the American establishment is the height of hypocrisy. The brutal, semi-feudal dictatorship in Saudi Arabia has been backed by US imperialism for over 80 years. The near-genocidal war that Saudi Arabia is waging against the people of Yemen was launched in 2015 with the full support and assistance of the Obama administration.

Moreover, Donald Trump is far from alone in the American capitalist class in reaping benefits from relations with the Saudi royal family. The Clinton Foundation, for example, has received up to $25 million in Saudi donations since it was founded in 1997.

For all the feigned indignation over the criminality revealed in Khashoggi’s murder, the US government and ruling class will come together to ensure the stability of the Saudi regime. It is one of American capitalism’s main assets in the Middle East and among the top international purchasers of American military hardware.

More immediately, the Trump administration intends to rely on Saudi Arabia to increase its oil production to prevent major price rises when harsh new US sanctions go into effect against Iran on November 5, following Washington’s unilateral renunciation of the 2015 “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” under which the Iranian regime curtailed its nuclear program.

Washington will be particularly concerned over any sign that the fall-out from the assassination fuels what is already burgeoning discontent in Saudi Arabia and mounting demands for sweeping social change. Seven years after the revolutionary movement that swept the Mubarak dictatorship from power in Egypt, the oil-rich country looms large as a potential scene of mass political upheaval.

To the extent that calls are made by factions within the US ruling class and the state for token democratic reforms in Saudi Arabia, and even for the sidelining of the crown prince, the sole motivation is fear of a social explosion against the monarchy and a desire to dampen unrest and prop up the regime.

This 19 October 2018 video from the USA is called BREAKING: Saudi Government Admits Jamal Khashoggi Is Dead.

Trump-Saudi regime lies on murdered journalist

This 17 October 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Jamal Elshayyal: Response to Khashoggi’s Death Will Determine Future of Saudi Arabia & Middle East

New details have emerged in the disappearance and probable death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was reportedly still alive when his body was dismembered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul more than two weeks ago. A Turkish source says it took Khashoggi seven minutes to die.

The New York Times reports four of the 15 Saudi men implicated in the killing are directly linked to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s security detail.

We speak with Jamal Elshayyal, an international award-winning senior correspondent for Al Jazeera. He wrote a piece for the Middle East Eye last year titled “The rise of Mohammed bin Salman: Alarm bells should be ringing.”

By Barry Grey in the USA:

Trump scrambles to cover for Saudi regime as crisis over Khashoggi murder mounts

19 October 2018

Following US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s emergency talks in Riyadh and Ankara, and amid mounting reports implicating Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Trump administration is scrambling to shield Washington’s closest ally in the Arab World.

On Thursday, Trump continued to suggest that Prince Mohammed and his father, King Salman, may have had nothing to do with the disappearance and evident torture and murder of Khashoggi on October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. However, after being debriefed by Pompeo following the latter’s talks with Prince Mohammed and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump told reporters it appeared that Khashoggi was dead.

The official line is that Pompeo secured a pledge from the Saudi leadership to hold accountable anyone found in the course of the regime’s own investigation to have played a role in Khashoggi’s disappearance. On that fraudulent basis, Pompeo advised Trump to give Riyadh several more days to provide an accounting, after which the White House will decide its response.

Meanwhile, unnamed Turkish officials and the … newspaper Yeni Safak reported Wednesday on the contents of what they claim is an audio recording of the events that transpired in the Istanbul consulate following Khashoggi’s entering the building on the afternoon of October 2. The 60-year-old self-exiled Saudi national and resident of Virginia in the US, who went from being a regime insider to a Washington Post columnist and critic of the new crown prince, ostensibly went to the consulate to obtain documents in advance of his impending wedding to a Turkish national. He never emerged from the consulate.

According to the Turkish accounts, he was almost immediately attacked by a team of 15 men who had flown that day to Istanbul from Saudi Arabia, brutally tortured, drugged, murdered, beheaded and dismembered. These sources say his fingers were cut off, but do not stipulate whether that occurred before or after he had expired. One of those reported to have been in the group is a forensic doctor who carried a bone saw.

The Washington Post on Wednesday published a detailed profile of the 15 men, complete with photos and scans of travel documents. It reported that at least nine of the men have ties to Saudi security. The New York Times reported Wednesday that at least four are directly linked to the crown prince, having traveled with him as part of his personal security detail.

The claim of Crown Prince Mohammed that he had no foreknowledge of a plan to kill the former regime loyalist-turned critic is absurd on its face. He is an absolute ruler in a brutal totalitarian dictatorship, and is known to closely oversee the activities of his security apparatus and to be personally extremely cruel.

Pompeo’s meetings on Tuesday with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed were aimed at signaling continued US support while making a pretense of seeking a full accounting of Khashoggi’s disappearance. The same is true of his meeting the following day with Erdogan, at which he evidently did not ask for a copy of the audio recording of the events inside the consulate.

For his part, the Turkish president has yet to publicly make any accusation against the Saudi leadership or endorse the reports being leaked by Turkish officials and the media. At odds with Riyadh over the Saudi regime’s support for US-allied Kurdish forces in Syria, its backing for the el-Sisi dictatorship in Egypt, and its lineup with Washington over Iran, Erdogan appears nevertheless to be reluctant to sever relations with the oil-rich Saudis and may be seeking to use Riyadh’s crisis as leverage in obtaining concessions.

On Wednesday after meeting with Erdogan, Pompeo told reporters on his plane back to the US: “I do think it’s important that everyone keep in their mind that we have lots of important relations, financial relationships between US and Saudi companies, government relationships, things that we work on all across the world. The efforts to reduce the risk to the United States of America from the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, Iran.

“We just need to make sure that we are mindful of that as we approach decisions that the United States government will take when we learn all of the facts.”

This amounts to an unwitting admission of the outright criminality of both governments.

As the former CIA director and current secretary of state, Pompeo’s reference to the “things we work on all across the world” includes conspiring to strangle, destabilize and potentially wage war against Iran, in alliance with Israel and most of the other Gulf oil sheikdoms.

These “things” also include the near-genocidal Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has already killed some 50,000 men, women and children and threatens another 14 million with starvation and deadly epidemics of cholera and diphtheria. The Saudis could not carry out their relentless bombing and de facto blockade of the Arab world’s poorest country without US arms, its mid-air refueling of Saudi bombers, its provision of intelligence and help in selecting targets and the assistance to its naval forces.

It is notable that in all of the US press commentary critical of Trump and the Saudi crown prince, there is virtually no mention of the US role in the slaughter in Yemen.

The US is particularly reliant on the Saudi monarchy at the present moment, in advance of its November 5 deadline for imposing sanctions against all Iranian exports. It is counting on Riyadh to open its oil spigot to prevent a spike in oil prices as a result of a sharp reduction in Iranian oil exports.

At the same time, the administration is coming under increasing pressure, both internationally and at home, to distance itself from the crown prince. It made a reluctant concession to this pressure on Thursday with the announcement that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would join the swelling ranks of Western officials, bankers and media organizations that have announced they will not attend next week’s international investors’ conference in Riyadh, to be hosted by Crown Prince Mohammed.

Dubbed “Davos in the Desert”, the event is on the brink of collapse. On Wednesday, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde pulled out. Businesses that have made similar announcements include Uber, JPMorgan Chase, Viacom, BlackRock and Blackstone Group. CNN, the Financial Times, CNBC, Nikkei and the New York Times are among the media organizations that have withdrawn as media sponsors.

The likely debacle of the investors’ conference will intensify an already acute crisis facing the Saudi monarchy. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that global investors are growing increasingly alarmed at what the newspaper called Saudi Arabia’s “debt binge” in recent months. In the two-and-a-half years since May 2016, the country has floated $68 billion in dollar-denominated bonds and syndicated loans—up from zero.

In addition, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund took out its first-ever bank loan last month, raising $11 billion. And the national oil company Saudi Aramco plans to raise up to $50 billion.

Reflecting declining confidence in the regime, the cost of insuring against Saudi default has risen by 30 percent since the disappearance of Khashoggi, and even before the Khashoggi allegations, foreign direct investment had fallen to historically low levels.

Breivik’s mass murder in Norway, new film

This 4 September 2018 video says about itself:

In 22 JULY, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Paul Greengrass (CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, UNITED 93) tells the true story of the aftermath of Norway’s deadliest terrorist attack. On 22 July 2011, 77 people were killed when a far-right extremist detonated a car bomb in Oslo before carrying out a mass shooting at a leadership camp for teens. 22 JULY uses the lens of one survivor’s physical and emotional journey to portray the country’s path to healing and reconciliation.

By Joanne Laurier in the USA:

Paul Greengrass’s 22 July: Neo-fascist mass murder in Norway

18 October 2018

Written, directed and produced by Paul Greengrass

The Netflix fiction feature 22 July, written, directed and produced by veteran British filmmaker Paul Greengrass, recreates the horrific massacre in Norway on July 22, 2011, during which 77 people were killed in a neo-fascist terrorist attack. The English-language movie features an all-Norwegian cast and crew.

Greengrass specializes in dramatizing traumatic episodes where masses of people undergo violent attack, either by government forces or terrorists. He is perhaps best known for his 2002 docudrama, Bloody Sunday, about the 1972 shooting of 13 unarmed civil rights demonstrators by British soldiers in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Omagh (2004), a television film he co-produced and co-wrote, dealt with the 1998 bombing carried out in Northern Ireland by the Real Irish Republican Army, which killed 29 people.

Greengrass also directed The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, a 1999 television film exposing police racism and brutality. More recently, he made United 93 (2006), focused on the commandeering of one of the planes during the 9/11 attack, and Captain Phillips (2013), about the Somali pirate hijacking of a US cargo ship. He was also at the helm for three of the five loosely anti-CIA Bourne series, as well as the tepid Green Zone (2010), about the Iraq War.

22 July is a graphic depiction of the 2011 butchery. The movie opens as neo-Nazi terrorist Anders Breivik (Anders Danielsen Lie) is building explosives in a remote Norwegian farm house. In a carefully planned assault, he detonates a powerful bomb in the vicinity of government buildings in the center of Oslo, the country’s capital. As officials move to protect Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Ola G. Furuseth) from possible attack and security forces concentrate on the bombing, Breivik coldly moves on to a second and far greater slaughter.

The target is Utøya island 20 miles northwest of Oslo, where a summer camp run by the youth section of Norway’s ruling Labour Party is taking place. Among the scores of young people in attendance is Viljar Hanssen (Jonas Strand Gravli), a well-spoken teenager from Svalbard in the country’s far north, who proudly describes his home town as a mecca of multiculturalism.

Posing and outfitted as a police officer, Breivik invades the island with an arsenal of firearms, mowing down groups of unsuspecting youth, leaving piles of corpses in his wake. “You will die today”, he screams, “Marxists, liberals, members of the elite.” During the terrifying ordeal, Viljar is severely wounded. By the time Breivik is arrested, around one hour later, his murderous rampage leaves 77 dead, 69 of them youth, and more than 200 injured.

Once in police custody, the terrorist feels empowered to demand “a complete ban on immigration”, explaining he is part of an army at war “to take back Europe.” He specifically requests the services of liberal attorney Geir Lippestad (Jon Øigarden), who, while despising his client’s politics, is obliged to provide him the best possible defense.

Meanwhile, Viljar, recovering from his devastating wounds, is pushing himself to extremes to develop the physical and emotional stamina needed to face his attacker as a witness for the prosecution. In this he is aided by his close friend Lara (Seda Witt), another survivor of the carnage and the daughter of refugees, who will also be a witness against Breivik.

Greengrass’s film is effectively, skillfully done, and the performances by the Norwegian actors are spot-on. The filmmaker and presumably everyone involved in the production of 22 July aim to sound the alarm about the rise of fascism. For this, they deserve congratulations. The re-emergence of the far right out of the conditions of capitalist crisis is one of the major political questions—and dangers—of our time, and few writers, directors and actors have treated it head-on.

Speaking at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, Greengrass argued: “This unprecedented shift to the far right is occurring today. It’s right in front of our eyes. It’s a problem across Europe and across North America. … In 2011, that [Breivik’s outlook] would’ve been considered outrageous as a worldview. Today it’s entirely mainstream. His rhetoric, his worldview now, is mainstream. That shows you how dramatic and ongoing this shift to the right, toward nativism, nationalism and all the rest of it [is].

This is a critical point, and the director is clearly referring to the election of Donald Trump, as well as developments in Italy, Germany, France and elsewhere.

That’s all to the good, but Greengrass is much weaker—in the film and in his public comments—on how the threat represented by diseased elements such as Breivik and, more importantly, the right-wing forces who incite and manipulate them, can be combated.

In an interview with the Washington Post, for example, Greengrass expressed the conviction that his movie clarifies the way forward “because it shows how democracy can be fought for in crisis. And what are the ways you do it? Through political leadership, through the rule of law, and ultimately through young people articulating the values that they want to live by.”

In other words, the social democratic government of Stoltenberg and the Norwegian ruling class are his model for eradicating fascism. But the problems in Norway and Europe did not disappear with Breivik’s conviction and incarceration.

Greengrass believes that people of good will need to be more vigilant in regard to these right-wing forces: “We’re going to have to listen. Donald Trump doesn’t get elected, … unless we’re not listening. … We’re going to have to listen to these voices and understand them, unwelcome though some of them may be, if we’re going to get out of this problem. And we’re going to have to contend with them, too. We’re going to have to beat them with better arguments.”

Extreme right-wing forces breed under conditions of economic and social decay and by the failure of the parties claiming to represent the working class to offer any way out of the situation.

Stoltenberg was the Labour Party prime minister of Norway from 2000 to 2001 and from 2005 to 2013 (before being appointed secretary general of NATO, the US-led military alliance). His government oversaw harsh attacks on the working class. It radically cut back the welfare state, privatized key public services and deliberately stirred up anti-immigrant sentiment. It was also implicated in the failure of the intelligence services to prevent Breivik’s murderous onslaught.

Today in Norway, the extreme-right Progress Party, of which Breivik was a member from 1997 to 2007, is part of a coalition government, able to come to power because of popular disillusionment with social democratic rule. The Labour Party, like social democratic parties everywhere, opened the door for the extreme right.

In 22 July, Breivik is largely treated as a delusional crank who most probably acted alone. There is a reference to his 1,500-page manifesto (which he published online and sent to over 1,000 contacts just hours before carrying out the massacre). His lawyer interviews a leading right-wing extremist who, during the trial, essentially disassociates himself from Breivik, despite Breivik’s professed allegiance to him.

The movie ends with Breivik successfully isolated and a healthy democracy intact.

But as the WSWS wrote on July 26, 2011, just a few days after the mass murder: “Information which emerged in the immediate aftermath of Breivik’s attacks revealed extensive ties with known extremist groups, including the English Defence League (EDL). Breivik attended meetings in Britain with leading members of this organisation, and also claimed to have been the founding member of a group calling itself the Knights Templar in 2002. Included in this group were right-wing nationalists from across Europe and a convicted terrorist from Germany.

“Breivik appears to have been well financed and well organised. He leased a farm north of Oslo two years ago. According to Reuters, the farm is near a military base housing the 2,000-strong Telemark battalion. He posted an entry on his Internet diary commenting on the proximity.

‘It’s quite ironic’, Breivik wrote, ‘being situated practically on top of the largest military base in the country. It would have saved me a lot of hassle if I could just ‘borrow’ a cup of sugar and 3kg of C4 (explosive) from my dear neighbour.’”

The makers of 22 July close their eyes to these sobering social facts and it weakens the impact of their well-intentioned film.

New York Times defends Saudi killer regime

This 30 November 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

Mehdi Hasan Rips Thomas Friedman’s “Nauseating” Column in NYT Praising Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince

We get response from Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s recent controversial column, “Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring, at Last.”

While meanwhile, the Saudi regime violently oppressed the activists of Saudi Arabia’s REAL Arab Spring (not the crown prince’s fake one.)

Hasan argues the piece is absurdly sympathetic to Saudi Arabia, and that Trump’s friendly relations with the country mean he “is not just a liar and a conspiracy theorist, he’s a hypocrite. He goes on about radical islamic terrorism but cozies up to Saudi Arabia, which many would argue has done more to promote ideologically and financially radical Islamic terrorism than any other country on earth.”

By Barry Grey in the USA:

Feigning moral outrage, the Times’ Thomas Friedman comes to the defense of the Saudi killer regime

18 October 2018

Leave it to Thomas Friedman, the New York Times’ chief foreign affairs commentator, to outdo his colleagues at the nation’s foremost sounding board for CIA propaganda when it comes to hypocrisy and deceit. This he has achieved in an op-ed piece on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi published in Wednesday’s print edition under the headline “America’s Dilemma in Saudi Arabia.”

Friedman played a key role in promoting the unprovoked and illegal US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, a war crime that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and laid waste to the entire country. He cavalierly shifted from one pretext to another, penning columns promoting the war as a key front in the post-9/11 “war on terror”, a crusade for democracy in the Middle East and a naked war for oil.

He has since backed every US act of military aggression, including the wars for regime-change in Libya and Syria, which have killed tens of thousands more innocent people, turned millions into homeless refugees, and transformed the entire region into a killing field. He maintains a complicit silence on the US drone murder program and Washington’s key role in the Saudi-led bloodbath in Yemen, which has already killed upwards of 50,000 people and threatens another 14.1 million with starvation, according to the United Nations.

None of this phases him. He—and his newspaper—are ruthless and ardent exponents of the violent drive by US imperialism to establish its hegemony over the oil-rich Middle East.

But of the torture and murder within the Saudi consulate in Istanbul of the former Saudi regime insider-turned columnist for the Washington Post, he writes, “The depravity and cowardice of that is just disgusting.”

He goes on to directly accuse the de facto ruler of the House of Saud, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, affectionately referred to in the Western media as MBS, of complicity in the crime:

“I do not believe for a second that it was a rogue operation and that Saudi Arabia’s effective ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is very hands-on, had no prior knowledge, if not more… not as a journalist, but as an American citizen, I am sickened to watch my own president and his secretary of state partnering with Saudi officials to concoct a cover story.”

His supposed moral indignation notwithstanding, Friedman poses the problem of how to respond to this crime from the “practical” standpoint of imperialist Realpolitik, i.e., the interests of the tiny American corporate-financial oligarchy.

“How should America think about balancing our values and our interests going forward?” he asks. He then proceeds to tout what he calls “MBS’ reform agenda.” The only examples he is able to summon of this supposedly progressive program is bin Salman’s order to allow some women to drive and his decision to reopen cinemas.

He makes no mention of the brutal crackdown bin Salman carried out last year against rivals within the Saudi ruling elite, detaining princes, former government ministers and businessmen, torturing them and extracting billions of dollars in exchange for their release—all in the name of combating corruption. Realizing that he was among those being targeted, Khashoggi fled to the US and became a public critic of the crown prince.

Nor does he mention the more than 150 Saudis beheaded by sword in 2017 and the 48 more put to death in the same way—half for non-violent crimes—in the first four months of this year. Or the stonings and similar barbaric practices, or the ruthless repression against any expression of popular opposition.

He makes no suggestion that bin Salman should be overthrown or prosecuted for his role in the murder of Khashoggi, writing, “Personally, I don’t care if Saudi Arabia is ruled by MBS, SOS or KFC.”

He then seeks to resurrect the discredited “war on terror”, declaring “our most important national interest in Saudi Arabia since 9/11” to be “Islamic religious reform…” (Friedman’s emphasis). He complains, “We have spent thousands of lives and some $2 trillion trying to defuse the threat of Muslim extremists—from Al Qaeda to ISIS—dollars that could have gone to so many other needs in our society.”

Nothing here about the millions of Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians and Yemenis killed, wounded and displaced in the fraudulent “war on terror”, or the fact that the US has conducted these wars in alliance with Al Qaeda-linked Islamist forces, and continues to do so in Syria and Yemen.

It becomes clear that the so-called “religious reform” championed by Friedman is a cosmetic facelift for the semi-feudal regime to give it a pseudo-democratic gloss, including ending the “cynical bargain” that allows the regime to “treat your women however you want.”

Bemoaning the fact that “the promise of MBS… is finished,” Friedman gets to the heart of his concerns over the Khashoggi murder. “MBS may be able to hold onto power in Saudi Arabia”, he writes, “but his whole reform program required direct foreign investment—and money has been flowing out of Saudi Arabia for months, not in. Now it will get worse… without sweeping social, economic and religious reforms, Saudi Arabia could well become a huge failed state.”

Washington and Wall Street have seen the ascension of bin Salman as an opening for US big business to more effectively exploit the vast oil resources and cheap labor in Saudi Arabia. At the same time, the US ruling class is acutely aware that the venal regime sits atop a social powder keg. It has made this rotten and precarious regime its chief ally in the Arab world and, along with Israel, the basis of an alliance in the region to destabilize and ultimately militarily attack Iran. But the fall in oil prices, the vast sums expended by Riyadh for the wars in Syria and Yemen and the internal conflicts within the regime have frightened international investors, compounding the monarchy’s crisis.

The Times and other media critical of Trump have seized on the Khashoggi killing to step up their criticism of his decision to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear accord, not because they are opposed in principle to a war for regime-change in Iran, but because they see his action as a reckless diversion that has isolated the US from its nominal allies in Europe and distracted attention from the more pressing confrontation with Russia and China.

The newspaper has published a series of editorials denouncing Trump for not pulling out of bin Salman’s investors’ conference, dubbed “Davos in the desert”, set for later this month. But it has failed to explain why, in the midst of the relentless repression of the regime and its near-genocidal war in Yemen, it had agreed to become an official sponsor of the gathering in the first place.

For all his moral effluvia, Friedman ends up by recommending a policy of stay the course, at most “finding some way to censure MBS… without seeming to attack the whole Saudi people and destabilize the country. And we have to make sure that the social/religious reform process in Saudi Arabia proceeds—whoever is in charge there.”

In the end his only concrete proposal is to pressure Trump to fill the vacant post of US ambassador to the kingdom.

Friedman personally and the Times as a whole are up to their eyeballs in the blood and filth of bin Salman and his criminal regime. In the midst of MBS’ crackdown on rivals within the Saudi elite, in November of 2017, Friedman published a sycophantic panegyric to the supposed great reformer titled “Saudi’s Arab Spring.”

This set the stage for the crown prince’s triumphant two-and-a-half week tour of the US last March, during which he was feted by Wall Street bankers, tech moguls, Hollywood movers and shakers and politicians of both political parties. The list of notables who lined up to hail the great man in New York, Washington, Seattle, Los Angeles and other cities includes Trump, Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch, John Kerry, Henry Kissinger, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos  …

The American ruling elite and its scribblers such as Friedman bear moral and political responsibility not only for the murder of Khashoggi, but the far more massive crimes of the House of Saud against the international working class.

SAUDI MILLIONS PUMPED INTO TRUMP PROPERTIES President Donald Trump has tried to downplay the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, lest it jeopardize “$110 billion worth of military” sales to the kingdom. That number is not accurate. Only $14.5 billion in weapons sales have been approved by the Trump administration and Congress. What Trump does not mention in his repeated defenses of Riyahd: The many tens of millions of dollars the Saudi royal family and its friends and allies have spent on Trump condominiums and at Trump hotels. [HuffPost]

KHASHOGGI ‘CUT UP AND BEHEADED’ Leaked details of audio recordings from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul reveal that Saudi agents were waiting for Khashoggi when he walked into the building. Minutes later, he was dead — beheaded and dismembered. [The New York Times]

ZERO BACKLASH AGAINST SAUDIS FOR YEMEN The disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi triggered a massive global backlash against Saudi Arabia. Yet the kingdom’s bloody war in Yemen never has. This is how the Khashoggi scandal looks when you’ve been bombed and starved by Riyadh for years. [HuffPost]

Amnesty: Dutch government, stop being Mr Nice Guy to Saudi regime.