Middle East

Jamal Khashoggi and the Washington Post, Part Three

Featured image On Sunday, the Washington Post (paper edition) published a lengthy tribute to Jamal Khashoggi, its former columnist. The article is worth reading. Joby Warrick, Loveday Morris, and Souad Mekhennet present a more nuanced and informative account of Khashoggi than the Post has been willing to render until now. I think the Post has recognized that its portrait of Khashoggi as a pro-democracy saint needs to be modified slightly now that »

Killing Khashoggi: Fistfight edition

Featured image The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is apparently unschooled in the arts of scandal management. Having now conceded for the first time that Jamal Khashoggi died in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul earlier this month, the kingdom claims that claiming that Khashoggi’s death came after an argument and a “fistfight” with men in the facility. According to Politico’s story, the kingdom has arrested 18 Saudi nationals suspected of involvement in Khashoggi’s »

Tom Friedman doubles down on magical thinking

Featured image To figure how not to think about events in the Middle East, it’s often useful to consult Tom Friedman. Yesterday, Friedman appeared on PBS with Christiane Amanpour to discuss the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Friedman looks like a fool in the wake of the murder because last year he wrote a gushing column praising Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince, for implementing a “top-down Arab spring.” Friedman »

Jamal Khashoggi and the Washington Post, Part Two [UPDATED]

Featured image The Washington Post decries what it calls a “whispering campaign” to “smear” Jamal Khashoggi that is “designed to protect President Trump”. The “whisperers” are “hard-line Republicans and conservative commentators.” The latter are writing articles critical of Khashoggi (which means they are not whispering). The former are “privately sharing” the articles (which, I had thought, is how articles typically are shared). The Post’s Robert Costa and Karoun Demirjian provide no evidence »

Jamal Khashoggi and the Washington Post

Featured image Many questions surround the apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi. By far, the most important ones are who, exactly, is responsible and what will the U.S. do in response. Here’s another question that, although of far less importance, may be of interest: Why did the Washington Post hire Khashoggi as a contributor? David Goldman describes Khashoggi as “a top level spook who played a high-stakes game in Saudi spookdom.” Is Goldman »

The European reaction to Khashoggi

Featured image The mainstream media has criticized President Trump’s reaction to reports that Saudi Arabia is responsible for the disappearance and probable death of Jamal Khashoggi. Trump has said he is waiting for more facts, clearly an appropriate position to take. He has also said that if the Saudis are responsible for killing Khashoggi the U.S. response will be “severe punishment.” From the media’s perspective, this statement seems unobjectionable. At the same »

The Khashoggi slaying, the anti-Trump media, and American foreign policy

Featured image The murder of Jamal Khashoggi has replaced Brett Kavanaugh’s high school days as the mainstream media’s obsession. The media attributes the murder to the Saudi Arabian government. I don’t know whether the evidence conclusively supports this view, but for purposes of this post let’s assume that responsibility lies with the Saudis. The American media calls Khashoggi a journalist, and it’s true that he contributed articles to the Washington Post. However, »

Trump shuts down PLO office in D.C.

Featured image Yesterday, the Trump administration ordered the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, saying that the PLO “has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.” That’s for sure. The Washington Post’s account of the story is here. You can almost see the tears Karen DeYoung shed writing it. In the paper edition, the story’s subtitle is “another blow to Palentinians.” Perhaps. »

U.S. slashes aid to West Bank and Gaza

Featured image The Trump administration has cut more than $200 million in aid for the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza. This decision followed a review by the State Department “to ensure these funds are spent in accordance with U.S. national interests and provide value to the U.S. taxpayer.” According to the Washington Post, the cut “effectively means the United States is giving no money to the Palestinians.” I’m not sure that’s the »

Why Does the Islamic World Lag Behind?

Featured image The passing of Bernard Lewis last week at the age of 101 recalls to mind perhaps his most famous book title about the Muslim world, What Went Wrong?  But maybe a successor of sorts has been found in Duke University economist Timur Kuran, who has a long article forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Literature that paints a pretty bleak picture of the economic and social structure of Islamic nations. »

The emerging strategy to undermine the Iranian regime

Featured image Several sources report an Israeli attack on a military airport in central Syria, an area where Hezbollah militias are located. There are conflicting reports about whether the attack was successful. Syria claims that its air defense system thwarted the attack. Syrian rebels say Israeli missiles destroyed that air defense system. The Israeli government has yet to comment. Jonathan Spyer, writing in the Jerusalem Post, provides context for the growing number »

Trump terminates U.S. participation in Iran nuclear deal

Featured image President Trump announced today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—“JCPOA”). Here are talking points sent out by the White House. President Trump is terminating United States participation in the JCPOA, as it failed to protect America’s national security interests. · The JCPOA enriched the Iranian regime and enabled its malign behavior, while at best delaying its ability to pursue »

The horror! Trump congratulates Egyptian leader. . .just as Obama did

Featured image Fresh from attacking President Trump for congratulating Vladimir Putin over his re-election, the mainstream media now tut-tuts Trump for congratulating Egypt’s Abdel Fatah al-Sissi. For example, the Washington Post’s story notes, pointedly, that “Barack Obama declined to invite Sissi to the White House because of concerns about his human rights record.” However one views Trump’s call to Putin ( this was my take), Sissi stands in a very different position. »

The Big News Of the Day…

Featured image …comes from Saudi Arabia. Shiite rebels in Yemen fired an Iranian-manufactured missile at the royal palace in Riyadh. It was intercepted, reportedly, just seconds before it reached its target. This follows a similar attack last month, where Yemeni rebels claimed responsibility for a missile that was aimed at Riyadh’s airport but was also shot down. These incidents highlight the fact that the Gulf’s Sunni countries no longer care much about »

Rallying cry of Jerusalem may have lost force in Arab world

Featured image That’s the headline of an article in the New York Times. To which I say, “ya think.” The point is so obvious that it took three Times reporters — Anne Barnard, Ben Hubbard, and Declan Walsh — to make it. They write: [A]s Arab and Muslim leaders raised their voices to condemn [Trump’s decision on Jerusalem], many across the Middle East wondered if so much had changed in recent years »

Jared Kushner’s shopworn “wisdom” about the Middle East

Featured image John Roche, who served as an aide to President Johnson, once described Johnson’s reaction when a Democratic Senator on the Foreign Relations Committee (Roche withheld the name, and I won’t speculate) broke with LBJ on the war in Vietnam. According to Roche, Johnson said something close to this: It’s my own fault. Some years ago, the good people of ______, in their wisdom, elected the village idiot to the Senate. »

David Horowitz: Why the Middle East Is a Disaster

Featured image In recent years, one catastrophe has followed upon another in the Middle East. In a bracing essay authored for Power Line, David Horowitz lays blame where it belongs, at the feet of the Obama administration: During the eight years of the Obama administration, half a million Christians, Yazidis and Muslims were slaughtered in the Middle East by ISIS and other Islamic jihadists, in a genocidal campaign waged in the name »