Saudi Arabia

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 »

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, »

Loose Ends (41)

Featured image Got a whole bunch of short items to get off my spindle this morning. • So Elon Musk says the Saudis are interested in financing Tesla to go private. Why would the Saudis want to become the major financial player in an electric car company? I simply can’t imagine. I guess Musk is too young to remember an old Johnny Carson Tonight Show line about an idea being as bad »

What’s Going on in Saudi Arabia? (3)

Featured image The notion that what is going on in Saudi Arabia is an “anti-corruption” drive is fooling no one. The most important aspects are the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s consolidation of power and the stiffening of resolve against Iran that it represents. Austin Bay has a good column about the matter up this morning: Since fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979, Iran and Saudi Arabia have confronted each »

The Saudi purge in context

Featured image Steve has written two insightful posts about what’s going on in Saudi Arabia. Unlike Steve, I have no Saudi sources, nor do I know a lot about that kingdom. However, I’ve seen an assessment that looks right to me. It holds that Saudi Arabia is facing existential threats on at least two fronts: (1) economically, because of the global oil situation (not least American fracking) and a large youth cohort »

What’s Going on in Saudi Arabia? (2)

Featured image It really is starting to look as though the Saudi crown prince has read The Prince. Latest rumor to reach me from sources inside Saudi Arabia is that Alwaleed bin Talal, the legendary mega-investor, has been spirited out of the country, which suggests perhaps permanent exile in Switzerland or something. I’m told that some impressive-looking motorcades and large security forces were observed arriving at the airport last night. It has »

What’s Going on in Saudi Arabia?

Featured image From all appearances on the surface, there is a major purge under way in Saudi Arabia this weekend. The new crown prince, 32-year-old Mohammed bin Salman, has arrested several rival family members and numerous other high officials and put them under house arrest in the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh. Most of the arrestees were supporters of the late King Abdullah. Several news outlets including CNN report that a missile fired »

Obama foreign policy, RIP

Featured image I usually leave the cartoon beat to John and Steve. However, this one is too good to pass up. It’s from a Saudi outlet, and features Uncle Sam laying a wreath at what I’m told is the tomb of former president Obama’s policy towards the Middle East. Priceless. »

Trump’s Saudi Arabia speech — a good day for the president and the U.S.

Featured image Here is the text of President Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia to heads of dozens of Muslim-majority states. The speech is excellent. Trump’s approach to the Muslim world in this speech aligns, in general terms, with his approach to other less than friendly world actors. As with China, to name one, Trump eschews past hostile rhetoric and assumes (or pretends to) the best in the hope of securing assistance in »

“Not my first sword dance”

Featured image Appearing from Riyadh on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace this morning, Secretary Tillerson fielded a slightly offbeat question and responded with what (outside President Trump’s speech) may have been the quote of the day (transcript here). Wallace asked Tillerson about the traditional Arab sword dance in which he participated upon his arrival yesterday. “And I have to tell you,” Wallace commented, “you looked pretty good while you were doing »

Beware of bipartisan grandstanding

Featured image I wouldn’t call the following statement an iron rule, but it’s a good rule of thumb: When congressional Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly agree on legislation, the legislation is probably bad. That’s the case, in my view, with the bipartisan legislation that enables 9/11 victims and their families to sue the government of Saudi Arabia. Nowadays, “bipartisan” often means that one party supported a bill unanimously and managed to pick up »

All My Exes Live in . . . Where?

Featured image Remy Munasifi is now rolling out new videos on the first Tuesday or every month, which happens to be today, lucky us. The first in his new series is “All My Exes (Saudi Version).” You can subscribe to Remy’s videos and other news on his website, GoRemy.com, or browse the archive for past hits such as “Teardrops on my Kabob.” We can use some comic relief just now, I think. »

Coming Soon: Gulf War III?

Featured image Concerning the contretemps between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a few observations: • David Goldman thinks Saudi Arabia’s execution of the Shite cleric Nimr al-Nimr and others is a sign of panic among Saudi leadership, and perhaps this is correct. On the other hand, the sacking of the Saudi embassy in Tehran can’t have taken place without the connivance or tacit approval of the Iranian regime (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?), who probably »

Middle East fires blaze hotter following U.S. capitulation to Iran

Featured image In a post about the Saudi Arabia/Iran crisis — the Saudi beheading of a Shiite cleric; the Iranian burning of the Saudi embassy — John asked, “the Middle East couldn’t possibly get worse, could it?” At NR’s Corner, David French examines the crisis and concludes “in the Middle East things can always get worse.” Things have indeed gotten worse under President Obama. They got worse when Obama withdrew from Iraq »

Who bowed down

Featured image One of President Obama’s core objectives is the humiliation of the United States. Thus his bows to the Saudi king and the Japanese emperor in the first year of his administration. Obama’s bows gave expressive form to the diminished role Obama has crafted for the United States on the world stage. Obama’s spokesmen threw in a healthy dollop of lying about it for domestic consumption thrown in for good measure. »