Saudi Arabia

What Next in the Persian Gulf?

Featured image Assuming Iran is indeed behind the attack on Saudi Arabia’s major oil refining facility, it represents a step-increase in Iranian-backed aggression in the region. The Wall Street Journal‘s Spencer Jakab says this attack is “the big one“: Saturday’s attack on a critical Saudi oil facility will almost certainly rock the world energy market in the short term, but it also carries disturbing long-term implications. Ever since the dual 1970s oil »

Saudi oil facilities attacked, Trump administration suspects Iran

Featured image Without wanting for even a minute to downplay the immense importance of what Brett Kavanaugh did or didn’t do at a party in 1983, I think by far the major news story right now is the drone attack on two major Saudi oil facilities. The two damaged installations process the vast majority of Saudi Arabia’s crude output. Thus, the attacks may significantly disrupt world oil supplies. Who is responsible for »

Jamal Khashoggi’s fake op-eds

Featured image The Washington Post has spent months lionizing Jamal Khashoggi — the victim of a brutal murder ordered, it seems, by the Saudi Arabian government — as a fighter for democracy and a journalist of the highest integrity. The Post lauded Khashoggi so persistently that Time Magazine named him its Person of the Year. Though condemning the murder of Khashoggi, we have pushed back against the Post’s idealized version of its »

The Mike Lee-Bernie Sanders show

Featured image Sen. Mike Lee used to be something of a conservative hero. More recently, he’s become heavy into working with Democrats. Not just any Democrats, but some of the most liberal, most stridently partisan Senate Dems. He and Sen. Dick Durbin combined to sponsor the jailbreak legislation that may well be on the verge of passing the Senate. A few years ago Lee and Durbin collaborated on a jailbreak bill that »

Middle East disconnect at the Washington Post

Featured image The Washington Post takes time out from urging that the U.S. blow up relations with Saudi Arabia, as retribution for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, to provide a clear-eyed assessment of reality in the Middle East. The Post’s Liz Sly finds that Russia has become the region’s rising power. Russia has made huge inroads, commercial and diplomatic, throughout the Middle East. The nations that now woo Putin run the gamut »

Fake history from the Washington Post

Featured image President Kennedy, in discussing U.S. policy towards Latin America, reportedly described three types of regimes: democracy, dictatorship, and communist. He explained that the U.S. prefers the first, but is willing to accept the second in order to avoid the third. Nearly two decades later, Jeane Kirkpatrick, one of the architects of President Reagan’s foreign policy, distinguished between traditional authoritarian governments on the one hand, and revolutionary autocracies and totalitarian regimes »

Criticism of Trump’s Saudi decision misses mark

Featured image President Trump’s decision to continue backing the Saudi regime even after it had Jamal Khashoggi murdered has brought criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. That’s to be expected. However, the criticism I’ve seen so far is superficial and, in at least one case, dishonest. Let’s begin with the dishonest criticism. The Committee to Protect Journalists said this: If you boil the White House statement down to its essence, »

Trump stands with Saudi Arabia

Featured image President Trump today announced that, notwithstanding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, “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.” The essence of Trump’s explanation for the decision is contained in the first sentence: “The world is a dangerous place!” Elaborating on this obvious but oft-neglected truth, Trump cited our interest in »

Jamal Khashoggi, the man and the myth

Featured image Jamal Khashoggi the myth is the guy we read about in the Washington Post — fearless democrat, opponent of tyranny. Jamal Khashoggi the man is more like the guy Joseph Duggan writes about in American Greatness — a charming, cynical Saudi power player for whom democracy was an ends to a means, at best. That’s why even the New York Times could not quite go along with the version of »

Is the CIA a Rogue Agency?

Featured image Someone leaked the CIA’s assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman directed the murder of Islamist Jamal Khashoggi to the Washington Post. The Post’s account sounds like it came from inside the CIA, but we can’t be sure of that: perhaps someone in another agency, like the State Department, who was familiar with the CIA’s report was the leaker. The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin »

Khashoggi, Netanyahu, and the Washington Post

Featured image Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post blasts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not taking a hard line on Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Diehl’s op-ed comes as no surprise. The Post hates Netanyahu and Khashoggi wrote op-eds for for the paper. Diehl is normally a pretty sensible guy. But in this instance his rage has steered him off course. Virtually every »

Khashoggi, Erdogan, and the Washington Post

Featured image I understand why the Post wants to keep banging the drum over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. He’s one of their own. Trying to cause the U.S. to reverse its foreign policy in the Middle East over one more killing in the region, however heinous, seems rather ambitious and, from the point of view of U.S. interests, misguided. But the Post has every right to try. However, the Post crosses »

Jamal Khashoggi and the Washington Post, Part Four

Featured image With Election Day upon us, the Washington Post is ramping up its anti-Trump hysteria. Today’s paper includes stories with these headlines (paper edition): “Full Trumpism: President’s apocalyptic attacks reach new level of falsehood.” “Strategy of racial attacks spreads.” Yellow journalism is alive and well at the Post. So is purple prose. Its obsession with the election notwithstanding, the Post is still ripping Saudi Arabia because its regime killed Jamal Khashoggi »

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 »

After the “fistfight”

Featured image As Scott has noted, the official Saudi explanation for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi is that he died in a fistfight at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey. That’s plausible. Few of us would be likely to survive a fistfight against more than a dozen vengeful Saudi agents and a hacksaw. Khashoggi’s demise raises questions for the U.S. about our future relations with the Saudis. It might also raise questions »

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 »