Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 21, 2018

Keeping Bin Salman In Place Will Hurt Trump's Middle East Policies

Against the advise from his intelligence services U.S. President Trump decided to leave the effective Saudi ruler, clown prince Mohammad bin Salman, in place. That move is unlikely to help with his larger policy plans.

Bruce Riedel, a (former) high level CIA analyst, long warned of betting on Mohammad bin Salman. Even before the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Riedel wrote that Saudi Arabia is at its least stable in 50 years (also here):

The stability of Saudi Arabia is becoming more fragile as the young crown prince’s judgment and competence are increasingly in doubt. Mohammed bin Salman has a track record of impulsive and reckless decisions at home and abroad that calls into question the kingdom’s future.

Riedel warned that the Trump administration, by betting on Mohammad bin Salman, put everything on one dubious card. MbS is unstable and made himself many internal enemies. If King Salman suddenly dies there will probably be a leadership crisis. Saudi Arabia could end up in chaos. U.S. Middle East policy, largely build around MbS, would then fall apart.

The CIA disliked MbS since he replaced Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince. MbN is a longtime U.S. asset with a proven record of cooperation. MbS came from nowhere and the CIA has no control over him. That he is indeed impulsive and reckless only adds to that. That the CIA feared that MbS meant trouble even before the Khashoggi disaster, explains why it sabotaged Trump's attempts to exculpate MbS over the murder of Khashoggi.

While Riedel was writing about the Saudi danger, Jamal Khashoggi, a longtime Saudi intelligence agent who had aligned himself with the wrong prince, went to Istanbul to build the public relation infrastructure for regime change in Saudi Arabia:

Jamal Khashoggi, a prolific writer and commentator, was working quietly with intellectuals, reformists and Islamists to launch a group called Democracy for the Arab World Now. He wanted to set up a media watch organization to keep track of press freedom.

He also planned to launch an economic-focused website to translate international reports into Arabic to bring sobering realities to a population often hungry for real news, not propaganda.

Part of Khashoggi’s approach was to include political Islamists in what he saw as democracy building.
Khashoggi had incorporated his democracy advocacy group, DAWN, in January in Delaware, said Khaled Saffuri, another friend. .. The project was expected to reach out to journalists and lobby for change, representing both Islamists and liberals, ...

Khashoggi's projects were allegedly financed by Qatar but probably also had CIA support.

MbS got wind thereof. He told his private office chief Bader Al Asaker to send his bodyguards to kill Khashoggi. They did so on October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. But it was a much too large and too complicate mission. They Saudi agents made too many mistakes. They also underestimated the Turkish intelligence service.

The Turks had bugged the Saudi consulate and have records of all phone calls. When they learned from Khashoggi's fiancee, a well connected daughter of a co-founder of Erdogan's AK Party, that Khashoggi was missing, they wound back the tapes and unraveled the story. The killers had made four phone calls to Al Asaker to report back. In one of the calls the mission leader told him: "Tell your boss" that "the deed was done." The Turkish president Erdogan was delighted to receive such a gift. It allowed him to cut his strategic competitor down to size.

The Saudis were too slow to recognize the danger. They came up with all sorts of unbelievable claims over what happened in their consulate. Trump sent Secretary of State Pompeo who told them to find a sufficiently high ranking scapegoat:

The plan includes an option to pin the Saudi journalist’s murder on an innocent member of the ruling al-Saud family in order to insulate those at the very top, the source told MEE.

The Salman clan did not follow that advice. The Saudi prosecutor accused and indicted only minor staff.

Trump fumbled the issue. He clearly did not want to accuse the crown prince. But the CIA preempted him. It went public and accused MbS of having given the order himself.

Despite the CIA assessment Trump continues to defend the relations with Saudi Arabia. In a quite weird statement, dictated by Trump himself, the White House did not exculpate Mohammad bin Salman of the murder, but essentially said "we don't give a fuck!"

The statement on Standing with Saudi Arabia begins with this:

America First!

The world is a very dangerous place!

The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more. Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” Iran is considered “the world’s leading sponsor of terror.”

The Trump statement further makes these points:

  • The Saudis promise a lot of money to us!
  • Some Saudis murdered Khashoggi.
  • They say the dude was a bad guy!
  • MbS may have ordered it. Or maybe not.
  • Good U.S. relations with the Saudis is in the interest of Israel!
  • The Saudis kept pumping oil when I asked them.
  • America First!

The statement does not mention the Saudi King, it only speaks of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is certainly not a whitewash for MbS. Trump shows support for the country of Saudi Arabia, but not for its royal leaders. That is why they will probably hate it.

Trump will get much criticism from the foreign policy borg for burying the case like this. But that criticism is over style, not over substance. U.S. support for bloody dictators is the rule, not the exception.

But that still leaves the concern that Trump bet his whole Middle East policy on his relations with the Saudis. And even as parts of it already fail, he continues to do so.

Trump's priorities in the Middle East are: the 'deal of the century' for Israel, the forging of a united Arab front against Iran, weapon sales, cheap oil and minor issue like financing the U.S. occupation of Syria and ending the unsavory war on Yemen. None of these issues has seen any success.

- Through his son-in-law Jared Kushner Trump wants to arrange the ultimate deal for Israel which consists of disfranchising the Palestinians of any national rights while the Saudis pay them off. That plan failed when Trump, with verbal agreement from MbS, moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. King Salman intervened and stopped any further cooperation on the issue. It is doubtful that there will be any more Saudi support for the 'peace plan' at least as long as he lives.

- The Trump administration urged the Saudis to make nice with Qatar to then found a "Arab NATO" under U.S. command. The Saudis rejected that. Qatar supports political Islam in form of the Muslim Brotherhood which the Gulf potentates see as the biggest danger to their rule.

- Trump hoped that the Saudis would buy lots of U.S. weapons. He brags about a $110 billion deal he claims to have made. But final sales this year were only made for $14.5 billion. The Saudis acquired not one big ticket item from the U.S. since MbS rose to his position. This concerns not only the CIA but also the Pentagon and the weapon industry:

Saudi sources said U.S. officials had cooled on MbS not only because of his suspected role in the murder of Khashoggi. They are also rankled because the crown prince recently urged the Saudi defense ministry to explore alternative weapons supplies from Russia, the sources said.

In a letter dated May 15, seen by Reuters, the crown prince requested that the defense ministry “focus on purchasing weapon systems and equipment in the most pressing fields” and get training on them, including the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system.

- The Saudis increased oil production to keep the markets stable while the U.S. sanctions Iran. But Trump gave waivers to buyers of Iranian oil and the oil price fell from $80 per barrel down to $60/b. The Saudis are furious over this. They need at least $80/b to balance their budget. They will now cut their production:

“The Saudis are very angry at Trump. They don’t trust him any more and feel very strongly about a cut. They had no heads-up about the waivers,” said one senior source briefed on Saudi energy policies.

The Saudis will cut oil production and Trump will have to renew the waivers to buyers of Iranian oil or risk a very high oil price that would hurt the U.S. economy.

- Despite U.S. pressure the war on Yemen still goes on. Yesterday the fighting around Hodeidah port resumed after a few days of lull. Trump will come under more pressure from Congress to finally end the war.

- When asked for a quarter billion for the U.S. occupation of northeast Syria the Saudis coughed up a paltry $100 million.

There is really nothing in Trump's list on which the Saudis consistently followed through. His alliance with MbS has brought him no gain and a lot of trouble.

Trumps main Middle East project is to regime-change Iran in support of Israel. His main campaign sponsor, Sheldon Adelson, demands that. Without a stronger Saudi Arabia and its full support the project is likely to fail.

Why then is he still promoting relations with Saudi Arabia?

Professor Asad Abukhalil, says that Trump's believes that standing with the Saudis gives him leverage:

I feel that Donald Trump wants what is best for his administration. He has somebody, he has Mohammed bin Salman, as he best can have him. He is holding him by the neck. And if he survives, he — Mohammed bin Salman — will be greatly indebted to Trump, and to Netanyahu, because those two stood by him and kept him afloat. And because of that situation, Mohammad bin Salman will be obligated to make so many concessions — political, military, and financial — to the United States, and even to Israel. Some of it would be more direct now. Perhaps he would even visit the Israeli occupation state.

But why would MbS, once absolved, do such? Why should he feel pressured? What actually need would he have to feel "obligated"?

If that is Trump's calculation it is likely wrong. MbS has shown no sign that he will ever follow Trump's orders. MbS is a ruthless man. He will never become the docile poodle Trump needs him to be. That is also the assessment of the U.S. intelligence services.

As Abukhalil continues:

On the other hand, the intelligence agencies, I think, my reading, is that they do not think that Mohamed bin Salman is capable of steering the regime in a direction that is more in the interest of the stability of the regime. As a result they would rather make a change in order to save the regime. They worry that bin Salman is too reckless, and his thinking is ruled too precarious, which endangered American interests in that region.

Gina Haspel, the CIA's director and torture queen, will take her assessment to Congress. There are many furious voices there, who want MbS to go. The Zionist lobby will not be able to buy off each and every one of them.

Even one of Trump's allies, Senator Lindsay Graham, is pushing for a strong punishment. But a private French intelligence outlet claims that Graham's motive is not as pure as it seems:

Regarding Sen. Lindsay Graham and his constant rants against MBS. @Intel_Online explains that "he is Lockheed Martin's man in the Senate" and that the weapon supplier faces huge opposition from the "Salman clan" due to disagreement about technology transfer. The paper goes on in explaining that the Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), launched by the PIF, is the state-owned military industrial company that has been refusing the US trade proposals for the past 2 years, because KSA wants technology transfer but the US refuses.

The pressure on Saudi Arabia, and on Trump, will not recede. The CIA will insist to act on its assessment. The military industrial complex will demand real weapon sales. The media onslaught will also continue. The Washington Post, for which Khashoggi wrote, reports today of torture against women activists in Saudi prisons.

Turkey already leaked new details from the recordings it has and threatens to publish more tapes:

The conversations among the murderers, their conversations with Riyadh after committing the murder, dialogues that will prove the crown prince was the one who directly gave the order, perhaps the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egyptian intelligence's role in the incident, and as a matter of fact, information on Israeli intelligence's "expertise" or on the U.S. leg of the murder may be revealed.

MbS announced that he will take part in the G20 summit in Argentina at the end of November. That is a big mistake. Turkey is a also a G20 member. Erdogan might want to use the occasion to play selected parts of the tapes to the attending heads of state, and to the world media. Everyone in attendance would have to distance themselves from MbS. It would be another public relation disaster for Saudi Arabia.

Trump is making a mistake by keeping Mohammad bin Salman in place. He will never get the support from him that he needs for his larger plans.

The U.S. surely has enough leverage to push him aside. If Trump does not do it, others will likely give it a try. The outcome is uncertain. The consequences may well be severe. 

Posted by b on November 21, 2018 at 17:48 UTC | Permalink


Interesting times. Sounds like, for all of MbS's recklessness and all the regime's existential dependency on the US military, the Saudis aren't willing to place all their bets on one US pony but, like most of the rest of the world, are trying to diversify if not detach from the tottering US empire.

But I suspect the Saudi regime is too far committed on its prior US-dependent path to survive in any other way. They're going down too.

Posted by: Russ | Nov 21 2018 18:02 utc | 1

Trump is openly and proudly accepting blood for money, so what? It's just business as usual for the US whom are running all and any of their global businesses and operations on that premise since decades. But Karma is a bitch and will haunt back, and we're getting closer to the day of reckoning while already witnessing the loss of power and influence of the US and their allied western powers and vassals. The close future will see China, Russia, India, Asia and Eurasia ruling the global affairs, and soon it's check mate concerning the new great chess game, e.g. game over for the US. The only remaining question: do we get there with or without an all-out nuclear war, because the US won't accept their loss of power? Time will tell ...

Posted by: thinkingmind111 | Nov 21 2018 18:10 utc | 2

thanks b... good overview.... as we noted - the kashoggi murder is the gift that keeps on giving to erdogan and the cia...

funny thing.. why is it that those who call for free and open elections in the middle east countries where the us/uk/west military industrial complex have murdered countless innocent people in iraq, libya, syria and now yemen - never complain about the absence of free and open elections in saudi arabia??? i know these same people are hypocritical liars.. what their real interests are is money off military sales and nothing more..

well, this is what the usa-uk and poodles have come down to... military arms sales... and they now have competition with russia who appears to make better weapons..

mbs is not going to last... he might hang in for another year, but i doubt much longer, if that.. meanwhile, trump is standing naked for all to see what his priorities are... make america great again, lol... yeah, right.. making the usa look like shit again is more like it..

Posted by: james | Nov 21 2018 18:29 utc | 3

here is a link to caitlin johnstone's comments on trumps response to the kashoggi murder...

trump is essentially doing all of israels talking points... iran this and that, hezbollah, or hamas this and that... why can't the usa gets it's head out of israels ass?? they sure aren't busy getting their head out of the military industrial complex's ass either...

Posted by: james | Nov 21 2018 18:34 utc | 4

@ james | Nov 21, 2018 1:34:36 PM | 5

FYI, when I click on your link it takes me to the MOA page, not Caitlin Johnstone's comments.

Posted by: Ort | Nov 21 2018 18:50 utc | 5

I laughed at "Clown Prince"

Posted by: CasualObserver | Nov 21 2018 18:53 utc | 6

"The Turks had bugged the Saudi consulate and have records of all phone calls. When they learned from Khashoggi's fiancee, a well connected daughter of a co-founder of Erdogan's AK Party, that Khashoggi was missing, they wound back the tapes and unraveled the story."

Turks bugged the embassy but only listen to the tapes after something happens .. unlikely.
With the animosity or competition between KSA and Turkey prior to the killing, it is more likely that KSA embassy calls were monitored in real time.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Nov 21 2018 18:54 utc | 7

@6 ort.. here is the direct link!

Posted by: james | Nov 21 2018 18:59 utc | 8

Trump's stance on this is lowering his popularity in the US. Reporting has been fairly clear and consistent that MBS ordered this. Much like MBS, T thinks way too much of himself....

Posted by: doug | Nov 21 2018 19:10 utc | 9

Risk-taker king + S-400/Bastion/GLONASS = switch from 100% dollar oil sales to something like 40% yuan, 30% euro, 30% dollar. Others follow suit, American manipulation of world economy lessens. I'll take it.

Posted by: S | Nov 21 2018 19:19 utc | 10

"When [the Turks] learned from Khashoggi's fiancee, a well connected daughter of a co-founder of Erdogan's AK Party, that Khashoggi was missing, they wound back the tapes and unraveled the story." This is ficion, as there is every likelihood the Turks knew perfectly well ahead of time that Kashoggi was walking into trouble. And it is very likely they had an agent on scene, part of the crime. As for the tapes, it is still unknown whether the real leverage in the tapes is what Kashoggi said.

The notion the CIA has sabotaged Trump with its assessment is wrong. If the CIA had given the tapes to Erdogan or is funding plots within KSA against MbS, that's sabotaging Trump's support. Nobody believed Trump before the assessment, and nobody believed Trump would change his mind for any reason whatsoever. The assessment just lets the CIA pretend to be competent and objective, rather than producing cooked intelligence in service of predetermined policy goals. The actual covert operations are under presidential control, and only presidential control. No deep state, much less Congress, has any say on those. That's why presidents like the CIA so much.

"Trump's priorities in the Middle East are: the 'deal of the century' for Israel, the forging of a united Arab front against Iran, weapon sales, cheap oil and minor issue like financing the U.S. occupation of Syria and ending the unsavory war on Yemen. Delivering on the deal of a century is not the priority, the promise is. United Arab front is not a priority because it's not needed. Most of all, stopping the war in Yemen is not.

Posted by: steven t johnson | Nov 21 2018 19:30 utc | 11

always odd when the (relatively) "good guys" in a story are the CIA and their bloggers at the WaPo. but then they object to MbS for the same reason they are mortified by trump: his style and not his substance.

as for trump, he's always been a spoiled and petulant rich kid and that type only change course when it's "their idea".

on oil: it's been a pain in the ass for iran and russia to some degree but also here in canada's texas aka the oil sands. the usual ayn rand-reading "get rid a' the gubmint" rednecks are panicked and suddenly want said government to force production cuts in the sector. when it comes to iran, china and others have made it clear that they care as much about sanctions as the US does about climate and nuclear treaties. not hard to guess what russia and venezuela would like the saudis to do since they've both been suffering (probably intentional) pain from the petrol glut. russia has weathered it incredibly well but the timing for maduro and the chavism experiment couldn't be better with the usual pack of US-aligned wolves fomenting trouble in the continent.

nice thorough article as usual.

Posted by: the pair | Nov 21 2018 19:36 utc | 12

I see that the Magnitsky Act had been slapped on some KSA usual suspects several days ago. Has anyone asked Ben Cardin, godfather of the act, why MbS has escaped the same fate?

Posted by: Bart Hansen | Nov 21 2018 20:24 utc | 13


Of course the CIA isn't trying to sabotage Trump. They just came to the same painfully obvious solution any other intelligence operation worth its salt arrived at.

Erdogan required no help from them. His people just connected the dots like everyone else.

The CIA does not have to try and "appear" competent. Like 'em or hate 'em, they're as competent as hell.

Trump has chosen to wobble om MsM's culpability so he can pursue his tortured agenda throwing numbers about with abandon on the reams of cash that the Saudis will come supposedly up with whether it's imaginary arms deals or production numbers that will keep the price of oil low.

Nobody believes Trump. Nobody except his hardcore base and they will never change. If their faith remains solid after two years of total skullduggery, lies and ill-considered deals with batshit-crazy dictators then what could he possibly do or say that would change things now? They're like those lunatic Baptists that play with rattlesnakes during their services.

The US needs the KSA for a number of reasons and Trump has decided to forfeit any moral high ground or any appearance of sanity or reason to achieve his aims.

Posted by: peter | Nov 21 2018 20:24 utc | 14

Well, MBS staying in charge for a bit longer is good news for many. Were he to be replaced, someone half-competent might take his place. With him at the helm, we're sure he's going to bumble and make a mess of his next endeavours, weakening the Saudis and being all around counter-productive to Saudi Arabia's long-term interests. Of course, his days are numbered, yet he can still do a lot of damage to the kingdom.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Nov 21 2018 21:15 utc | 15

>"Democracy for the Arab World Now."

Seriously why don't they name it "CIA regime change project 18765936". Nothing screams Langley like using the word democracy with any thing related to the ME.

Posted by: BraveNewWorld | Nov 21 2018 21:36 utc | 16

Is it too late for MbS to finally spit out the truth? "Khasshoggi was an Enemy of the Kingdom fomenting the mechanism for a coup, and I ordered him liquidated." IMO, that's less awkward than continuing the other charades, shuts-up Erdogan and wrong-foots his detractors. Now, I don't particularly care for MbS, but IMO he's no worse than Erdogan, Sisi, Trump, or May, all of whom are Capital Criminals. And I'd prefer to see someone independent of the CIA in charge of Saudi, although that's probably his only redeeming asset.

Perhaps, MbS will send a body-double to G-20, and the CIA will crash his plane only to see MbS alive and well, taunting Haspel and Trump as he personally beheads arrested CIA assets.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 21 2018 21:37 utc | 17

A few years ago I was engaged privately by a couple of Saudi students to hold their hands through their PHDs, one m and one f. All their expenses were met by the Saudi state. To get paid by the female here in the UK she had to get her enormous uncle to accompany us to the cashpoint so as not to be alone with me. He was so fat he waddled up the road behind us as she talked about her project about the status of women in Saudi and how she kept running smack into her feminist supervisor, lecturers and tutors. I tried to warn her that this is the UK but to no avail. I even warned her she might lose her head, literally, if she took on her tutors’ ideas and returned to Saudi Arabia. I told her to pick something easier like education, but she would not listen. Eventually, her severe neurosis began to affect me and I stopped the classes.

The male was seemingly less neurotic as one would expect from a Saudi, but when the bell resounded suddenly and extremely loudly for prayer we both shot up from our chairs as if the bolt of God’s lightning had split the morning.

Posted by: Lochearn | Nov 21 2018 22:41 utc | 18

'Keeping Bin Salman In Place Will Hurt Trump's Middle East Policies', but removing him will hurt Trump's mid-east policies even more.

If he is removed, he will be replaced by a 'Globalist' puppet. The 'Globalists' will then use Saudi as an additional lever to try to drag Trump into a war with Russia, which so far Trump has desperately tried to avoid.

I also don't think that MBS will go easily. The same fate as Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein is what awaits him.

However, I think Trump is too weak to save MBS. Look for MBS to turn Saudi towards Russia to look for salvation.

Posted by: dh-mtl | Nov 21 2018 22:46 utc | 19

Pepe Escobar reminds us of another issue at stake: Leadership of the Umma, which was Ottoman for centuries prior to the artificial elevation of Saudi by Ottoman's European rivals. Pepe smartly invokes Alastair Crooke's take that if Saudi was to lose that distinction, it "would strip the Gulf of much of its significance and value to Washington." Pepe:

"The Erdogan machine has sensed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to simultaneously bury the House of Saud’s shaky Islamic credibility while solidifying Turkish neo-Ottomanism, but with an Ikhwan framework."

Iran, Syria, Iraq, Qatar, Russia, and China all seem to be okay with that. IMO, most here will agree with Pepe's conclusion: "Expect major fireworks ahead."

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 21 2018 23:03 utc | 20

Thanks. This clarifies the contradictions. The USA has only one Middle East ally left; Israel, which also influences American politics. With the main goal in life to make more money, morality and decency have disappeared in the West. All that is left is a mercenary force illegally occupying Eastern Syria for a paltry 100 million dollars surrounded by professed enemies. Basically, MbS isn’t delivering the cash the oligarchs want. He must go. This is highly unstable. Ignoring reality is a sure-fire way to ignite the prophesied Abrahamic Apocalypse.

Posted by: VietnamVet | Nov 21 2018 23:09 utc | 21

Trump is doing nothing out of the ordinary by a POTUS. If it was a Democrat POTUS in the same situation, it would also ultimately support Saudi Arabia (the NYT and WaPo would, obviously, be silent, but Fox News would propagate the scandal).

I stick to my hypothesis: Trump's only sin to the liberal eyes is that he erodes America's soft power among its First World allies. If you take out his image, he's a normal POTUS doing normal POTUS things.

Posted by: vk | Nov 21 2018 23:15 utc | 22

(1) Nobody has yet figured that the Turks must have listened to what was going on in the Consulate if not before K's first visit then at least from the time K first stepped into the building, the Turks knew what was coming, could have waned K, but didn't. Does it not make them complicit in the murder?

(2) MbS cannot be kicked out, the decision to promote him was made by the King for a reason, the old man thinks ahead, he sees the Republic losing its grip on things worldwide, he wants to make a move towards the coming powers of the East, Russia and China, hence the King's visit to Moscow last December. What did the King and Putin talk about?

(3) Bibi backs the King, the Israeli lobby in Washington will buy anyone opposing MbS, the atrocity will be swept under the carpet, the Donald will be OK the American unwashed don't give AF about the Saudis, most of them probably don't know where the country is.

Posted by: Baron | Nov 21 2018 23:24 utc | 23

@18 "The male was seemingly less neurotic as one would expect from a Saudi, but when the bell resounded suddenly and extremely loudly for prayer we both shot up from our chairs as if the bolt of God’s lightning had split the morning."

Interesting. It raises the question of what the average Saudi citizen thinks of Khashoggi. My guess is they see him as a damn fool for trying to change the status quo. These are people who find nothing disturbing about public decapitation. Perhaps ORB could do a poll?

Posted by: dh | Nov 21 2018 23:31 utc | 24

Since when has US and Israel stability been about stability in the region. Chaos makes waves and rock the boat to the delight of the baby in the cradle. Wheeee.

Besides, MBS may have went a bit rogue but the Khashoggi event, set up or what not, was meant to reign him in and show him who is boss.

We have seen oil prices plummet since the Khashoggi event although that may be due to insider trading of those knowing Trump was backing off on Iran oil sanctions which accelerated after being announced in November

MBS is anti Iran and pro Israel. Trump is in Bibis pocket. More important MBS is a counter to Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood, more conflicts in the region are desirable . He is also willing to bomb US civilian targets in Yemen so they can pretend to have no involvement, and as such will buy more weapons

The Event was probably also meant to get him to back off his investment efforts that would compete with US efforts to do the same, and to back off Russian and China military/economic cooperation.

If MBS gets the message and follows orders, he stays. If he doesnt and makes Lockheed Martin disappointed, he goes. Also that Saudi Aramco IPO has to happen before 2020. The list is long.

Posted by: Pft | Nov 21 2018 23:38 utc | 25

According to this report by Eric Zuesse the leader of the UAE had a part in cleaning up the consulate in Turkey:

Posted by: Krollchem | Nov 21 2018 23:47 utc | 26

Its very clear that Iran is behind this, 911 and ISIS.

Posted by: steve | Nov 21 2018 23:59 utc | 27

There is another angle to the Khashoggi killing and that is that the US or UK organized the killing to embarrass Trump and remove MBS.
Can't see that the Saudis are that naive to believe that their Embassy wouldn't be under surveillance and the mention of "tell your boss...." is too convenient. One assumes that the boss is MBS but it could be anyone else also.

Posted by: john mason | Nov 22 2018 0:11 utc | 28

The problem with Trump's plan ... is Trump's plan. It makes no sense for the United States as a nation to destroy Iran. That is only for Israel-firsters. Perhaps their power is just too great for Trump to resist, but what would have worked well would have been rapprochement with Iran.

Posted by: SteveK9 | Nov 22 2018 0:25 utc | 29

@28 A total fail then. Trump isn't embarrassed and MbS looks like a fixture.

Posted by: dh | Nov 22 2018 0:27 utc | 30

Very sagacious observation:

"With regard to #SaudiArabia, as with #Israel, #US foreign policy is entrenched, it cannot change, nor adapt. It rather tries to change the politics in the region according to its rigid framework. There must be a breaking point to this approach and it might come under #Trump."

Trump's also about to forfeit what remaining influence he has with Lebanon as Magnier posits.

At least we won't need to wait long to see what happens next as the G-20 begins November 30--Will MbS undergo an assassination attempt before, during, after, or constantly if he does attempt to attend.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 22 2018 0:53 utc | 31

John Mason @ 28: Another possible angle is that while Jamal Khashoggi's killing is real enough, the narrative that the Turks are feeding out is being fabricated continuously, and in response to whatever the Saudis are doing to deny or excuse any possibility that the Crown Prince ordered it. The recordings being parcelled out could be complete fakes or the original recording may have had other, fabricated recordings added to it.

I'm with Clueless Joe @ 16 and Karlof1 @ 17 in keeping MbS as Crown Prince: he is no more if no less sociopathic and vicious than the current crop of Western political leaders. If Gavin Williamson and his guru / mentor (in the form of his pet tarantula) were to replace Theresa May as British Prime Minister, then British-Saudi leadership relations need a voice of relative sanity and MbS would be that voice.

Posted by: Jen | Nov 22 2018 0:56 utc | 32

Meanwhile Tulsi Gabbard tweeted "Hey @realdonaldtrump: being Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not “America First.”"

And various Republican morons popped out of the woodwork rehashing that crap that Assad had murdered 500,000 Syrians while fine upstanding Americans like Jimmy Dore and Stephen Linzer are backing her.

BTW, I'm surprised the trash with learning disabilities at the Washington Post haven't accused her of being ISIS (see second picture in article credited to the Washington Post)

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Nov 22 2018 1:03 utc | 33

Exceptional analysis b. According to your link (Missing Saudi writer had big plans for his troubled region

“.……..Jamal Khashoggi, a prolific writer and commentator, was working quietly with intellectuals, reformists and Islamists to launch a group called Democracy for the Arab World Now. He wanted to set up a media watch organization to keep track of press freedom…….”

James (@60) writes from the previous MoB thread (“Syria - Back In The Arab Fold”)

“......have you ever noticed how the folks asking for free and open elections in middle east countries, are the same people who are okay with the military industrial complex going into a country and murdering countless innocent people - collateral damage - as we have witnessed in iraq, libya and syria under the rube of 'regime change'? either these people are getting some of the money going into propaganda directly from the military industrial complex, or they are brain dead and unable to connect the dots... my feeling is the former... it is a sick job, but i guess they feel someone has to do it so it may as well be them.....”

Because (obviously) Arabs are incapable of understanding political rights and democratic reform - but apparently they do understand money (and selling out the masses). Jamal Khashoggi was one of those greedy or "brain dead" Arabs supporting democratic reform in the Middle East. Just like in Egypt, Syria and other Middle East locations, the Saudi leadership opposed political reform. Khashoggi was killed for a number of reasons, but almost certainly because he was a critic of MBS and the Saudi regime - a right and duty of any free press. Khashoggi also supported bringing Islamists (including the Muslim Brotherhood) into the political process. OMG, unfathomable.

Posted by: craigsummers | Nov 22 2018 1:07 utc | 34

b- you pointed out that: "..the CIA feared that MbS meant trouble even before the Khashoggi disaster, explains why it sabotaged Trump's attempts to exculpate MbS over the murder of Khashoggi."
The CIA also fear Trump; and they have shown that they are not and never will be a friend to him.
So I am inclined to agree with john mason 28 when he suspects the US or UK organized the killing to embarrass Trump and remove MBS.
I am further inclined to take this reasoning a bit further and suggest that the CIA facilitated this murder; probably by telling their reporter asset he could safely go to Turkey and by telling SA when he would arrive.
For how else could anyone purportedly as clever as this fellow think they would be safe on SA defacto soil?
The CIA want their own guy in SA and they want Trump on his knees, so far they don't have what they want. Which leads me to also wonder if the CIA is possibly responsible for the misadventures Bibi is having.
If the CIA and its masters can dethrone Bibi and the Prince, Trump's ME strategy would be toast, significantly diminishing or even wiping out his US/Israeli support and possibly destroy his shot at a second term.
For all his flaws he did and has overturned a lot of apple carts; the Deep State wants their damn carts back.

Posted by: frances | Nov 22 2018 1:07 utc | 35

Someone needs to buy b a drink! Yet another Twist:

"The Knight First Amendment Institute, based out of Columbia University, has filed a lawsuit against US intelligence services in order to learn whether the agencies took measures to inform Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi of the looming danger threatening him before his death.

"According to US Intelligence Community Directive 191, also known as Duty to Warn, agencies that have information that a certain individual is in danger of death, serious bodily injury or kidnapping must warn said individual."

Hope this gets exposure and legs!

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 22 2018 1:18 utc | 36

Mike Pompeo was the head of the CIA until Gina Haspel took over on April 26th. It's possible that somebody set Kashoggi up behind their backs but hard to see them scheming against Trump.

Posted by: dh | Nov 22 2018 1:30 utc | 37

The CIA was aligned with and Allied with Hillary and the Clinton Schumer Pelosi nexus.

It did not trust Trump and it directs the MSM against him to remind him to stay in line. The CIA wants wars in as many places as possible and Trump is just a bit too reluctant. He is also a loud mouth and a loose cannon and he is a dim wit. So they are uneasy with him and his twitter crap.

They will get used to him as he will get accustomed to them. Trump will go along.

Hillary would have been farther down the road (war).

Hillary may have inflicted less pain domestically upon the commons.

I am referring to foreign policy.

Posted by: fast freddy | Nov 22 2018 2:07 utc | 38

Posted by: paid jerk-off | Nov 21, 2018 8:07:21 PM | 34

Gratuitously offensive comment.

Written in 'juvenile wanker' style.

You are an embarrassment.

Take your hand out of your pants and get a real job.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Nov 22 2018 2:22 utc | 39

@20 karlof1.. thanks for the pepe link.. @36 interesting development.. i doubt it gets far..

@ 24 dh... lolol.. that last question was a dozzer, lol.. too bad doofus missed it..

@25 pft.. the bs about stability in the me is a sales pitch only... no one is buying it, especially coming from the usa or israel...
oil futures look close to a bottom.. we'll see..

@34 cs.. i was thinking of you or the ORB guy when i mentioned that.. do a poll in ksa and get back to us...

Posted by: james | Nov 22 2018 2:45 utc | 40

Shhhhh! You're supposed to keep it secret!


Posted by: Andy | Nov 22 2018 2:47 utc | 41

“Trump is making a mistake by keeping Mohammad bin Salman in place. He will never get the support from him that he needs for his larger plans.”

You are too fond of your boy Trump b. As if MbS is any worse.

Posted by: Ninel | Nov 22 2018 4:28 utc | 42

Recent news suggesting Khashoggi did not have a green card (permanent residence) and was recently secretly married to an Egyptian lady in US, albeit not licensed make you wonder whats coming next. His fiancee recently agreed to sign over the rights to his story with a studio.

Looking back at the timeline of information coming out of Turkey over the last month has been amusing. Much has been written over Saudi contradictions but not much about the conflicting yet controlled leaks out of Turkey

10-12Turkish authorities claim they obtained audio and video recordings of Khashoggi’s interrogation, torture and murder

10-14. Khashoggi’s Apple watch recorded his torture and murder .
Khashoggi’s watch was synched to the iPhone in his fiancee’s possession, waiting for him outside the consulate.

After his murder, Saudi officials realized the watch was recording, used his finger print to unlock it, deleted some files, not all of them, recordings found on his mobile phone held by his fiancee.

10-17 Khashoggi was tortured before being decapitated according to audio recordings

They tortured the journalist during interrogation by cutting his fingers off, he was then decapitated.

10-19 Khashoggi's body could be buried on farmland in the nearby Belgrad forest according to anonymous sources

10-21 Dr. Death carved up Khashoggi while alive in minutes – while he and other Riyadh’s hit squad members listened to music to block out his screams. Khashoggi’s dismembered body parts were then wrapped for disposal

10-22 MBS phoned Jamal Khashoggi and tried to convince him to return to Riyadh, just moments before he was killed

10-23 His body parts were found “cut up,” his face “disfigured” in the garden well of the Saudi consul general’s home – located around 500 meters from the consulate.”

10-31 Khashoggi was strangled to death immediately after entering the Saudi’s Istanbul consulate – his body dismembered for disposal.

11-9 According to Turkish police, traces of hydrofluoric acid and other chemicals were found in a well at the Saudi’s consul general home in Istanbul.

Turkey’s prosecutor believes his remains were completely dissolved – after he was strangled to death

11-14 A daily newspaper headquartered in Istanbul, published images on Tuesday purported to be airport X-ray scans of the team's bags as they left Istanbul for Riyadh on October 2, the day of Mr Khashoggi’s murder. 

A number of tools and pieces of equipment can be seen.The bags were loaded onto two private jets but police were not able to open them due to diplomatic immunity. No evidence of body parts in pictures

11-18. The killers may have taken his dismembered body out of Turkey in luggage according to Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar. They could do so without facing problems due to their diplomatic immunity. No mention of baggage being X-Rayed

11-21Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the consulate wasn’t bugged, adding “(w)e cannot reveal the source of the audio recordings.” No mention of video recordings.

Posted by: Pft | Nov 22 2018 4:33 utc | 43

LOL at Craig Summers @ 34 for making an ant-Semitic comment.

Posted by: Jen | Nov 22 2018 4:48 utc | 44

@james: U.S. oil production is, essentially, a bet on a single geological play, Permian (see this). Which at the current rate of depletion will run out in 5 years. Many shale oil companies continue to exist only due to constant infusions of cash. Veteran industry watchers are dumbfounded as to why these investments are still being made. I think it's the Bankers who want to bring down the price of oil to put pressure on Russia and Iran, delay privatisation of Saudi Aramco, and delay U.S. stock market crash. However, they can't do it indefinitely, so we're in for higher oil prices in early 2020s.

Posted by: S | Nov 22 2018 5:11 utc | 45

With any luck the standoff between Trump and the CIA will be dragged out for a long time. If Trump gives in and a more operationally competent monarch-in-waiting is found, the march to war with Iran will continue. If the various clowns and their agencies and representatives in DC are tied up in a bickering match their evil plans for the Middle East will be temporarily on hold. That is a good thing.

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 22 2018 5:18 utc | 46

Anybody the CIA hates can't be all bad.

Antoinetta III

Posted by: Antoinetta III | Nov 22 2018 8:00 utc | 47

#20 One of the best part of the firework is watching the Brits looking everywhere for who will be their next buddies, at a tule they badly need new non-EU 'partners', after both the Gulfies and the Trumpians are PR-failed. Maybe Charles can try his talents at sword-dancing in the middle of London streets to see if any pimp can hire him and the rest of his circus?

Posted by: Mina | Nov 22 2018 9:58 utc | 48

Jen and Frances
Do you imply external ppl could organize the sending of a team including a guy looking like K charged to go out with his clothes? and a forensic? People don't have much freedom of movement in KSA, to start with, so when they board the palaces private planes, everyone on board is in the loop .

Posted by: Mina | Nov 22 2018 10:08 utc | 49

Interesting how the British student "condemned to life in prison for spying" yesterday in UAE is not on the front page of papers today.
Bargain chip?

Posted by: Mina | Nov 22 2018 10:11 utc | 50

I ve been watching Hala Gorani on CNN in the latest days and it seems the journalist lobby in the US wants Trump scalp, dead or alive.
Strangely no one is asking how long this guy is going not to return to his job at the Wash. KSA embassy
We read on this page that he boasts for bombing Syria (and Yemen!) from an F15. Pretty amazing we haven't read it when it happened. Any role in the massacres committed by unidentified planes?

Posted by: Mina | Nov 22 2018 10:16 utc | 51

MbS is not going anywhere. The guy is ruthless, and the Princes and billionaires who had real status (power) in KSA found themselves hanging upside down in the Ritz - until they signed away their assets or positions. Others fled. Who is left who could do anything practical?

The "players" mentioned; -1/ CIA, They have been described as the Rothschilds private army - it was the R's that set them up. They have an inclination to cooperate with Financial circles. (ie Aramco IPO, and the general selling off of state assets were anticipated by Banking circles - Goldman, Citi, Bank of America). MbS is reported to have got "cold feet", which is understandable as it is also the basis of his power which would be sold off (revenues)

2/ I don't think the trump/Israel faction cares if MbS is there or not. What is one more dictator and it is known that it is easier to control one rather than the general public. He could be still "useful" butonly if he is controllable - which has yet to be proved.

3/ Trump/Pentagon; He/they wants Iran to be neutralized because of the One road/belt Chinese initiative, as Tehran is central to it. (The main land-axis is China-Russia-EU. The North South axis from it could run through Iran and/or Pakistan and southwards towards Africa or India. But this includes KSA territory. Which the USA will try to stop.) What "Trump" or the Pentagon wants is either chaos across future planned trade routes or control of them. This explains the why of the present objective of regime change in Iran. KSA also stopped the outreach of Qatar to Iran.

I should mention one more key - 4/Oil/gas; (as a strategic asset). Exists in N. Yemen, in NE Syria under Daesch/US control, (KSA reserves may be overstated). Planned pipelines south of Syria via Iraq/Jordan to Israel. Could also be used to include illegally pumped oil from NE Syrian reserves.
So MbS support of terrorists in Syria (and there are still some) could make him still useful.

5/ The "people of KSA" including religious fanatic etc.They may have other ideas, but they are not individually or form groups strong enough to oust the "powers that be"

Posted by: stonebird | Nov 22 2018 13:08 utc | 52

Excellent article, thank you B! Much better than crap corporate news media reports on this ongoing murder scandal.

Posted by: Deschutes | Nov 22 2018 13:19 utc | 53

@ Never Mind the Bollocks

That link about how the Yemen conflict became news is gold. I'd been having trouble figuring out how the tide turned so quickly. It's astonishing once the deep state allies turned on MBS how quickly the wave of new went out. Anyone who hasn't read that post should.

@51 stonebird

You wrote:

MbS is not going anywhere. The guy is ruthless, and the Princes and billionaires who had real status (power) in KSA found themselves hanging upside down in the Ritz - until they signed away their assets or positions. Others fled. Who is left who could do anything practical?

There are about 50 billionaires who consider MBS their sworn enemy who has humiliated and "impoverished" them in front of their friends and families. He's the king of the castle until he's not. Historically, monarchs who provoke most of their barons don't last long. MBS, should learn "pick your fights". Vladimir Putin was very clever in his ascension to power. He took out his enemies one by one while turning as many as possible to allies. That's how the state is strengthened and absolute power is maintained.

Posted by: Uncoy | Nov 22 2018 15:06 utc | 54

@ Never Mind the Bollocks and @Uncoy

Interesting read, thanks for the link.

Posted by: spudski | Nov 22 2018 15:40 utc | 55

Lochearn and dh what a lively duo of dispecable supremacist. So here is the deal you colonize a country put to power the most revolting sadistic mf you can find give him all the best toys torturers and carte Blanche to do whatever he wants to the population.

Posted by: Rebecca | Nov 22 2018 15:48 utc | 56

He creates a modern day fiefdom where people are slaves and are scared for their lives he has been torturing his population and commiting ethnic cleansing on his own population in qatif as one example For the past 80 years.Despite that there have been revolts.

Posted by: Rebecca | Nov 22 2018 15:58 utc | 57

Which ended in bloody massacres and rapes and similarly disgusting horrors but because there have been imported mass tortures and mass murderes from the best ie the west people kept getting crushed. Now you have this specimen telling "These are people who find nothing disturbing about public decapitation.

Posted by: Rebecca | Nov 22 2018 16:00 utc | 58

Might i remind you that in the west you find nothing disturbing about invading another country for no reason murdering 500000 children use phosphorus gaz on civilians and depleted uranium Oh and arming "rebels" and moderate headchoppers to annihilate a country for no reason. And that's only in this decade.

Posted by: Rebecca | Nov 22 2018 16:01 utc | 59

The whole miserable Khashoggi affair has been presented completely out of perspective by the media, and fueled by wily Erdogan to blackmail the Saudis. Why all this hypocritical outrage? Granted, the murder of even one person by state apparatus is a crime, but it is one perpertrated on numerous occasions that I recall, not least by the US, Russia, China, Israel, Turkey, the UK, and France, to mention but a few politically inspired assassinations. Khashoggi was at best a murky figure, with shifting allegiances, who at the time of his demise was orchestrating a campaign aimed at demonizing and overthrowing MbS on behalf of the Turks, the Muslim Brotherhood, a rival Saudi princely faction, and all the anti-Trump elements in Washington, who hoped to seize an opportunity to discredit any Trump/Kushner initiative. When the WaPo aligns with Erdogan, expressing moral outrage, and even publishes his articles on the matter, it can only be viewed with disgust. Sharing the moral high ground with a totalitarian who has conducted killings of Kurds abroad, kidnappings of dissidents, imprisonmened hundreds of journalists, and repressed every critical voice, is ludicrous and serves to prove that all the fuss is contrived. And all who keep the story alive are just pawns in their game.

Posted by: SPYRIDON POLITIS | Nov 22 2018 16:13 utc | 60

Sounds familiar to standard US propaganda...

"The Saudis promise a lot of money to us!
Some Saudis did 9-11.
They say the dude responsible was Saddam...and Iranians!
Bin Laden ordered it. [Or maybe not.]
Good U.S. relations with the Saudis is in the interest of Israel!
The Saudis kept pumping oil when I asked them.
America First! Long live GWOT!"

Posted by: JohnH | Nov 22 2018 16:17 utc | 61

@59 "These are people who find nothing disturbing about public decapitation."

I'll stand by that. I'm sure there are Saudis who would like to change their legal system but they aren't very vocal (for obvious reasons). Meanwhile any poor Filipina maid who complains about being being beaten and raped gets the chop.

All the fault of Western colonialists no doubt.

Posted by: dh | Nov 22 2018 16:26 utc | 62

Sure, it might seem that numbers will prevail. However, at least 13 billionaires are said to never have left the Ritz (alive).
MbS still has the mercenaries who carried out the torture, working for him personally.

It may well be that a "regime head shortening" is on the cards - but MbS could equally be one of those who gets a vicarious thrill out of danger. So "time will tell" surely - but how long is that?

Posted by: stonebird | Nov 22 2018 16:40 utc | 63

cia is the worst agency in the world.israel- 10 years for bomb

Posted by: dahoit | Nov 22 2018 17:31 utc | 64

"Trump's priorities in the Middle East are: the 'deal of the century' for Israel...."

Meant ironically, I assume. (Hope!)

By the by: Abukhalil spells Mohammed bin Salman's name three different ways. In a film version of Evelyn Waugh's Scoop, set in Africa, a running gag has every British army officer mispronouncing the name of the country where it's set.

Posted by: Nick Baam | Nov 22 2018 17:32 utc | 65

@46 S.... yes.. here in canada the whole fracking oil biz can't work unless oil is over 80 a barrel as my memory serves.. with the inflation of everything else, i think getting oil to 100$ will be a walk in the park, especially when the real war starts, which i think is coming in in the next 1-2 years.. we are just in the early stages now.. when one exceptional nation wants to dictate who can or can't trade with who, you know you are going down a slippery slope, never to return... i guess this is what we get for the usa being subservient to israel 24/7... there is always the chance, a change could happen, but frankly it looks unlikely here...

Posted by: james | Nov 22 2018 18:16 utc | 66

I think this analysis, from Greanville Post explains much about Trump (and NOT ONLY Trump!):

Years ago Robert Bly talked about Ronald Reagan’s capacity for lying. He said Reagan grew up lying about his father, an alcoholic, and his dysfunctional childhood which he routinely described as happy. How the enormity of that lie, and all the attendant pressures of such intimate dishonesty made lying about the Iran/Contra deal much easier. And I recently heard Gabor Mate say the same sort of thing about Donald Trump. How Trump grew up with an abusive authoritarian father, one who humiliated and belittled the boy Trump, and the world of that boy was one of cruelty and abuse. And if that is the only world you know growing up, that is the world you will see everywhere around you later. And the only way to navigate a world of abasement and lying was to be better at it than those who had abused you. The grandiose aggressiveness and paranoia of Trump is the product, in part, and probably in large part, of a family that operated on strict hierarchies of power, a punitive and sadistic family dynamic. Trump’s brother, of course, drank himself to death.

Liar Liar By John Stepling

It's an essay worth reading.

Posted by: William Bowles | Nov 22 2018 19:27 utc | 67

With CIA under Haspel working against Trump, how much is in this report. CIA fabricate evidence if some is required, but at the same time, if anyone has evidence apart from Turkey, it will be CIA NSA. There was also the release of the CIA pastor by Turkey, I'm guessing as remuneration for services rendered.
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Turkish newspaper reported on Thursday CIA director Gina Haspel signaled to Turkish officials last month that the agency had a recording of a call in which Saudi Arabia’s crown prince gave instructions to “silence” Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Nov 22 2018 19:57 utc | 68

"There was also the release of the CIA pastor by Turkey, I'm guessing as remuneration for services rendered."


Trump will eventually order a first strike, the 8 inch floppies will whir, the ICBMs will launch, Russia will spoof the mil band GPS and the nukes will detonate over major American cities, thank God and pass the potatoes.

Posted by: Fec | Nov 23 2018 0:11 utc | 69

Why is the possibility that MbS is being framed not ever considered when all information leaked is by intelligence agencies of one country or another? And even while mentioning the bad blood between the princes the idea that MbS was set up by this lot is not considered. Every faction of the royal household is a foreign deep state asset and MbS belongs to Israel/Zionists. You really don't have to guess who'll come out on top eventually.

Posted by: Askiah Adam | Nov 23 2018 0:32 utc | 70

Askiah Adam | Nov 22, 2018 7:32:49 PM | 72

All the evidence for culpability indicates that the Saudi team sent to Istanbul killed Khashoggi. And the Saudis have now admitted to doing it.

We considered the possibility of Khashoggi's fiance as a "honeypot" several weeks ago and have also discussed the CIA's failure to warn Khashoggi. But that is pure speculation. There isn't any evidence that the fiance or CIA acted to setup MbS by setting up Khashoggi.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Nov 23 2018 2:13 utc | 71

@70 It is quite possible that a tape (of MsB ordering the killing) does exist and Gina Haspel has it. This may explain why Trump has so far stopped the Saudis from cutting back on oil production. He wants lower gas prices at the pumps.

Just another theory to mull over.

Posted by: dh | Nov 23 2018 2:42 utc | 72


Manufacturing needs low oil price as do voters. On the other hand, shale oil, which Trump is also pushing needs high prices to expand rapidly. Perhaps he is trying to strike a balance.
On Trump stopping the Saudi's cutting back oil production - Trump has put it to them bluntly - they would not last two weeks without US protection. As in 'nice shop you have there, pity if it were to burn down'.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Nov 23 2018 3:33 utc | 73

Trumps awkwardness reflect the scitzophrenic nature of government - what he is obligated to do and say does not neccesarily reflect his personal prefferences.

The realities are I think Isreal stole west bank and gaza fair and square and it wont really go back to palestian rule.

The US needs an agent in opec and middle east. It would be nice to find a reasonable one but not happening.

I am curious of those repulsed by MbS. Is he worse than Assad or even Erdogan?

Posted by: JARED | Nov 23 2018 13:30 utc | 74

Has B been hacked? I never thought I'd see him advocate the right of the US to enforce regime change, let alone parrot the regime change line of the CIA.

Posted by: wagelaborer | Nov 23 2018 14:22 utc | 75

The notion that the CIA "are as competent as hell" stands up to neither reason nor evidence. They can get away with their disinformation only because western populations are thoroughly conditioned to consume official narratives without critical thought and because those sources of official narratives have all been placed under CIA control via Operation Mockingbird and similar subsequent operations. The CIA gets away with their covert operations because of their above-mentioned success controlling narratives in the misnamed "free press", and because they have immense resources at their disposal (effectively as more than Russia's entire military budget), and finally because they bury (or dissolve in acid) their mistakes.

Note that the CIA has tried a couple times to assassinate Venezuela's Maduro, several times to assassinate Venezuela's Chavez (eventually got him with a radioactive "hot particle" in his food), and hundreds of times to assassinate Cuba's Castro. Is that evidence of being "competent as hell"? Then how about the CIA's version of James Bond, their superstar spook, being snuffed in Benghazi by the CIA's own hired goons? That's not the result of competence, but rather of hubris and ignorant self-delusion on an organization-wide scale. Next consider all of the CIA spooks sent to embassies and consulates in what they believe are enemy territory (seeing that the US is trying to regime change those places they really are enemy territory whether the locals realize it or not) who are getting mysterious "brain injuries" with no physical symptoms and no known way to inflict such injuries. This is obviously the result of mass hysteria among delusional, high strung, and weak minded kids from safe-spaced college campuses and northern Virginia suburbs hearing crickets and cicadas for the first times in their lives, and most definitely NOT any sign of competence... indeed, it screams the opposite.

Posted by: William Gruff | Nov 23 2018 14:47 utc | 76

reply to Mina at 50
Hi Mina, I didn't say that the CIA arranged for the hit team, they didn't have to.
All they needed to do was to get their reporter asset to go to Turkey and let SA know he would be there.
This is what I said:
"..might suggest that the CIA facilitated this murder; probably by telling their reporter asset he could safely go to Turkey and by telling SA when he would arrive."

Posted by: frances | Nov 23 2018 15:03 utc | 77

The real questions are:

1. Why is Trump so intent on shielding his owner MBS? His loyalty rivals that of any dog, and Trump otherwise lacks the quality of loyalty, besides lacking the other better qualities typically exhibited by dogs.

2. Why are the spooks so intent on making a case against the (admittedly odious) MBS? After all, its not like the CIA has a moral problem with murder or torture – they regularly engage in both, while propping up the most vile dictators imaginable.

3. How has this murder gone on to dominate the news cycle for so long? Why does the CIA keep pushing the story through its favored news outlets? It’s not like this is a Kardashian wedding, or something of equally vital importance the public demands to know every detail of.

My SWAG (and this is merely SWAG, nothing more) is that the CIA knows that Trump either was informed of the Khashoggi murder in advance and said or did nothing, or that Trump actively consented to the murder.

In other words, the CIA cares nothing about Khashoggi but the murder gives them a way to get at Trump. Might even be a setup and Trump took the bait. Trump clings to MBS because he knows that if MBS is removed, he will go with him.

Also interesting that Netanyahu gave a thinly veiled command to leave MBS alone. But the CIA and the Turks are not listening.

Posted by: Sid Finster | Nov 23 2018 15:22 utc | 78

Say what you like about Trump he tells it like it is.....almost. He's not shy about telling the truth...the US needs Saudi oil and arms purchases.

He could have saved himself a lot of criticism by being completely honest....something like..."I'm pretty sure MbS ordered the killing but I don't care."

Posted by: dh | Nov 23 2018 15:40 utc | 79

Posted by: JARED | Nov 23, 2018 8:30:41 AM | 76

"The US needs an agent in opec and middle east."

The world, including the American people, need for the US (and the Zionists and the West in general) to completely GET OUT of the Middle East. (I've sometimes asked pro-war Americans, the type who babble about "terrorism", "What are you doing in the Middle East at all?" To this day I've never gotten a coherent, honest answer.)

Posted by: Sid Finster | Nov 23, 2018 10:22:30 AM | 79

"In other words, the CIA cares nothing about Khashoggi but the murder gives them a way to get at Trump. Might even be a setup and Trump took the bait. Trump clings to MBS because he knows that if MBS is removed, he will go with him."

Why would that be? I see no evidence anyone would care.

Posted by: dh | Nov 23, 2018 10:40:55 AM | 80

"the US needs Saudi oil and arms purchases."

The US government and corporate system does. The American people would be much better off with neither.

Posted by: Russ | Nov 23 2018 15:58 utc | 80

@81 >"the US needs Saudi oil and arms purchases."

The US government and corporate system does. The American people would be much better off with neither.<

The US could conceivably get by without Saudi oil. Not sure about arms purchases though. They provide a lot of Americans with a comfortable living. Hard to imagine a complete breakdown in US/Saudi relations....the MSM would have a meltdown.

Posted by: dh | Nov 23 2018 16:10 utc | 81

The US could conceivably get by without Saudi oil. Not sure about arms purchases though. They provide a lot of Americans with a comfortable living. Hard to imagine a complete breakdown in US/Saudi relations....the MSM would have a meltdown.

Posted by: dh | Nov 23, 2018 11:10:11 AM | 83

It is difficult to figure out what "American interests" are, and what is "Trump's Middle East policy". Perhaps these are wrong concepts, more like labels with flexible meaning rather than "concepts" as most of us understand.

Clearly, MbS stomping hard on a bunch of billionaires with extensive and often prestigious holdings hit a part of Western elite -- these folks have membership, partners, beneficiaries etc. in that elite. They control some Washington think tanks and have friends in CIA. Mind you, this does not give them control over CIA, but prevents unanimity needed to declare the murder of Khashoggi as an inconvenient fact that should be purged away from established media.

On the other hand, the putative plot of enticing MbS into a particularly idiotic murder is probably located in Turkey that controlled every aspect of the situation, including the fiancee of Khashoggi who beguiled him into efforts to marry her legally and make the unfortunate visit to consulate in Istanbul. I can imagine Khashoggi having misgiving and being reassured that any action against him in that consulate would be utterly idiotic because Turks bug the place thoroughly. Then again, one of his mortal sins was documenting MbS as a monumental moron. It is even possible that he was enticed or forced to become a martyr for the cause: he was a dedicated follower of some princes who had huge influence and riches until recently, and in a feudal system that may mean that you must risk your life for your liege if so required.

How it affects "American interests"? Clearly, we are not talking about interests as articulated by some poor deplorables in the midst of Wisconsin or Ohio. Saudi princes are fairly united in trying to rule through influence in Washington D.C. and making expensive purchases and less expensive donations and retainer fees to maintain said influence, so it does not particularly matter which one controls the royal government. MbS tried to cement support of Zionist lobbies by particularly energetic pro-Israeli positions, but his opponents are "old money" in Washington so he could not corner the support there. Khashoggi, dead or alive, was but an exponent of the influence of his opponents. MbS also tried to outdo his predecessors in terms of weapon purchases, but that raised worries about the stability of the Kingdom. In short, he gained powerful friends but also enemies.

Methodologically, I try to unravel "American interests" as a web of individual interests and personal connections. In case of KSA, they cancel each other to some degree, which should make MbS happy -- no action where he has the seat of power and unlimited access to the cookie jar means that he can keep it. But he is not philosophically inclined.

To summarize, unhealthily large puchases of overpriced American hardware and services will continue in the Gulf. Americans in the establishment are fairly divided into those who benefit from low oil prices and those who benefit from high oil prices -- deplorables with lean incomes and voracious pickup trucks would choose low prices, but they count little. Actually, periodic sharp drops in oil prices may benefit OPEC and Russia because they discourage investments in shale oil etc., and an optimum policy would cause a number of "unpredictable drops" while getting more lucrative average prices.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Nov 24 2018 1:22 utc | 82

@84 Shale oil becomes unprofitable for small producers around $45 a barrel. So that will put a few people out of work. Are they the same 'deplorables with lean incomes and voracious pickup trucks'? I'm not sure. Trump obviously thinks low prices at the pumps are what his voters want so that is his definition of American interests. Keep them shopping is what Wall Street wants.

As for MbS and Khashoggi....was he set up by the CIA, Zionists, US deep state etc.? I don't think we'll ever be sure unless a tape surfaces with him giving the order. Trump knows that too so he'll go on pretending not to be sure.

Posted by: dh | Nov 24 2018 1:47 utc | 83

"U.S. Middle East policy, largely build around MbS, would then fall apart."

This would be a very good outcome. Whatever causes the US to withdraw from the Middle East would be a good thing for the people living there and in the US. If the Chinese and Russians want to step in good for them.

Posted by: ab initio | Nov 24 2018 1:48 utc | 84

@ dh who wrote: "I don't think we'll ever be sure unless a tape surfaces with him giving the order."

As you requested

CIA Has "Smoking Gun Phone Call" Of MbS Giving Order To "Silence" Khashoggi: Report

I posit fireworks at the G20 next week

Posted by: psychohistorian | Nov 24 2018 2:21 utc | 85

@87 I'm not requesting anything. And that Turkish report has been discussed here already.

"The Turks MAY still yet have the ultimate "smoking gun... " The CIA MAY have a tape.

Still waiting..

Posted by: dh | Nov 24 2018 2:35 utc | 86

- "b" gives Trump too much credit. He's dumb as a doorknob.
- I think that there a few other people who are the authors of this policy. Like Jared Kushner, Mike Pompeo, ................

Posted by: Willy2 | Nov 24 2018 10:57 utc | 87

- "b" gives Trump too much credit. He's dumb as a doorknob.
Posted by: Willy2 | Nov 24, 2018 5:57:41 AM | 89

Please be so kind as to help me loosen Trump's stranglehold on my Faith.
List some of the factors which persuaded you that he's D.A.A.D.

Thanks in anticipation.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 24 2018 12:04 utc | 88

- First of all: go to a GOOD pharmacy and get something that will cure you from that "Trump derangement syndrome".

- Anyone who has followed the news knows that Trump is an idiot.
1) Trump went bankrupt multiple time and yet he continues to say that is worth billions. Until his daddy died he was worth only some million.
2) The word "Brexit" was used multiple times in 2016 and yet he didn't know what "Brexit" was.
3) David Cay Johnston makes a scathing assesment of "Our Dear leader" in this video:

Or search YouTube for more videos with David Cay Johnston.

Posted by: Willy2 | Nov 26 2018 16:25 utc | 89

- Trump is NOT the friend of the average Joe Sixpack. He is ranting against Mexicans, Muslims, chinese and other (evil) foreigners. That's a distraction from the fact that he is stabbing that same Joe Sixpack in the back. It's distraction from the fact that he and his buddies are looting the US Treasury to the tune of some $ 600 billion. And it's YOU that is going to foot that bill.

Posted by: Willy2 | Nov 26 2018 16:38 utc | 90

Posted by: Willy2 | Nov 26, 2018 11:25:21 AM | 91 (& 92)

Thanks for changing the subject instead of fleshing out your 'dumb as a doorknob' assertion.
- Your item 2 (Brexit) would make the grade were it not for the fact that Trump was merely the first to admit that he, like the Poms themselves, and others, isn't sure what Brexit is about or what the final version will achieve. So he was way ahead of the pack on that observation in 2016.
- Surviving bankruptcy isn't dumb.
- The little I've found on D Cay Johnston so far suggests that he...
1. Has unsavoury affiliations with NYT.
2. Is VERY angry and frustrated by the reality that most of Trump's cheap tricks are not only successful, but work in his favour.
- And a heads up... Trump Derangement Syndrome has always been a dis-ease suffered by anti-Trumpers. Pro-Trumpers are still Deplorables:-)

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 27 2018 6:27 utc | 91

- How dumb Trump is was shown in the past few days.

- GM was bailed out by the US government and debt free in early 2009.
- GM borrowed a lot of money (again) and used $ 14 billion of that money for buybacks of their GM shares.
- GM now has to borrow some 3 billion to restructure the company (again) and will close 8 plants.
- And D.A.A.D. Trump started to rant against GM. Trump should have learned the facts before he started to rant against GM. One of the reasons why he was ranting that he provided US companies with taxbreaks and they still lay off people.

- I have contact with friends in Europe on a regular basis and they all agree. Trump is D.A.A.D. He wouldn't stand a chance of being elected over there in Europe.

Posted by: Willy2 | Nov 28 2018 7:42 utc | 92

Trump: "The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!"

Saker: "We find ourselves in a post-constitutional, post-truth, post-ethics, post-basic-rule-of-law and post-honor world."

Posted by: Anya | Nov 28 2018 17:51 utc | 93

Posted by: Willy2 | Nov 28, 2018 2:42:30 AM | 94
That's better. At least you tried, this time :-)

There's a limit to the extent to which I'm willing to second-guess, or make excuses for Trump's zig-zag strategy. But until he involves AmeriKKKa in a new Imperial war it's worth extending him the benefit of the doubt, considering the enormous damage AmeriKKKa's Fake Wars have caused to people, countries and societies worldwide post-WWI, including the Fake War on Alcohol and the Fake War on Drugs.

On ~March 12, 2018,'s Matter Of Fact program focused on Trump's innovative approach to the North Korea situation. It began with interviews with Kevin Rudd and a couple of pundits. The third interview focused on understanding Trump via an interview with Amy Chua of Yale. Chua is the author of a book about Tribalism in the US and she zeroed in on Trump as a master of manipulation with a solid grasp of AmeriKKKa's overtly hypocritical and contradictory brand of Tribalism. She had kind and not-so-kind things to say about Trump but nevertheless summed him up quite well, imo.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 28 2018 21:18 utc | 94

ot - hoarsewhisperer.. i see even pat lang is bemoaning trump at this point... it used to be that he would give him a pass... apparently pl's stellar judge of character is pretty bad with regard to trump.. based on this article, it seems to be improving, lol...

Posted by: james | Nov 28 2018 21:47 utc | 95


- China is suffering a mini(??) financial crisis. There is in China a socalled "Peer-to-peer" lending/borrowing system. And that system has suffered a break-down in the middle of this year.

- I assume that this (mini-) crisis has led or attributed to the decline in GM's car sales in China. FYI: GM sells/sold(??) more cars in China than in here in the US.
- Combined with declining car sales here in the US means that GM simply was forced to "do something".
- But did "Our Dear Leader" D.A.A.D. Trump bother to learn the facts first (e.g. about China) before taking out his twitter machine ?

- Trump had two casinos in Atlantic City in the 2nd half of the 1980s. While other casino owners re-invested the profits of their casinos to improve their casino operations, Trump was only interested in squeezing out as much money at the fastest pace possible. And then it's no wonder that while other casinos thrived, Trumps casinos were among the first to go "belly up".
- The entire gambling business in New Jersey knew that D.A.A.D. Trump knew nothing about the gambling business.

- FOX News wanted to give D.A.A.D Trump the Nobel Peace Prize because he met with Kim Jong Un in the middle of this year. What A LOT OF people don't know is that the south korean premier Moon Jae-in deserves all the credit for the relaxation of tensions on the korean penisula and the meeting of Kim Jung Un & Trump. In that regard, it's Moon that deserves the Nobel Prize, not Trump.

Posted by: Willy2 | Nov 28 2018 22:22 utc | 96

Posted by: Willy2 | Nov 28, 2018 5:22:30 PM | 98
(Trump, FOX, NK & the Nobel Peace Prize)

I wouldn't quibble with your view of who's more deserving of a genuine Peace Prize but the Nobel isn't it. Imo, neither Trump nor Moon would accept an NPP. It's too tainted as a result of being awarded to unconvicted War Criminals. Trump and Moon don't need the money and handing it back would say a lot more about Peace than the Nobel Prize says. If there's an NPP for an NK solution in the offing then I hope Trump gets it because he's more likely rip into the Nobel Committee than Moon is. Asians can often be too polite. Trump, hardly ever.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 29 2018 7:01 utc | 97

Posted by: james | Nov 28, 2018 4:47:59 PM | 97
(pat lang is bemoaning trump at this point)

I've now had a look at SST and, imo, PL is taking the temperature of the Trump Derangement crowd by highlighting the potential pitfalls which await him AND using a lot of words to say "I hope Trump knows what what he's doing."

Scroll down the comments to Vietnam Vet's contribution. VV makes a valiant attempt to endorse the negatives in PL's rant and is 'rewarded' with a dismissive... "You're a one-trick pony" from Pl - which suggests that PL is far from ready to write Trump off.

As Formerly T-Bear used to say ...YMMV.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 29 2018 15:55 utc | 98

- Agree. The Nobel Peace prize was - from to time - awarded to some persons who didn't deserve that Prize. And Obama (2009) was one of them. In that regard the Prize has been - from time to time - politizised. But Moon Jae-In does deserve one.

Posted by: Willy2 | Dec 1 2018 15:19 utc | 99

- About GM:
Car sales in the US have already shrunk for about 2 and a half years. Did D.A.A.D. Trump know that ? And now he wants to impose import tariffs on steel & aluminum, making the production of cars even more expensive. No, those tariff do help US steel producers and will hurt car producers. Then there is even more incentive to move production to Mexico.
- And chinese car sales are also down.
- There is something that is also overlooked. Since say 2012 US interest rates have been rising from about 1.5% to about 3% now. And that is now killing the housing market.

- When I look at the new US tax laws then I that the Republicans are waging war on the Democratic states. and the endresult will be (more) financial pain for the US economy.

Posted by: Willy2 | Dec 1 2018 15:35 utc | 100

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