Tag: Saudi Arabia

The Middle East Is in Deep Trouble—and So Are We


How many times did the Obama Administration lie to us during Obama’s Presidency? Most of us have probably lost track. But did you realize that they lied at least 14 times about the JCPOA? President Trump removed us from this abomination of a deal and instituted sanctions on Iran for their duplicitous activities on the JCPOA; unfortunately, the Biden Administration has reversed his actions and even worse, are using most of Obama’s original team to complete the deal with Iran. These activities will not only jeopardize peace in the Middle East, but create an existential threat to Israel and most importantly, put our own national security at risk. The arrogance and naivete of Biden’s team is pathetic at best, and treacherous at worst. We are all in deep trouble.

The Biden Administration has decided that Iran is a better choice for leading the Middle East than the Saudis. They’ve demonstrated their intentions in a number of ways. Although Secretary of State Blinken has stated that the U.S. must “toe a harder line” in the JCPOA negotiations, our actions have confirmed the opposite. (This excellent article explains what is occurring in the “negotiations,” and the reasons.) A key player for the U.S. team is Robert Malley, who was on Obama’s team, and seems to be driving the Biden strategy. Biden’s people agree not only that Obama’s original agenda must be completed, but they have already agreed to a number of concessions in principle. Abbas Aragchi, Iran’s lead negotiator in Vienna, indicates the following:

The American negotiators, he claimed, had already agreed in principle to remove sanctions on Iran’s energy sector, automotive industry, financial services, banking industry, and ports—to eliminate, in other words, all of the most significant economic sanctions ever imposed on Iran. Recent statements from Biden administration officials give us no reason to disbelieve Araghchi, and the smart money is now on a full resurrection of the JCPOA in relatively short order.

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome disputed reports that the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Israel met in recent days in hopes that the thaw in Middle East tensions is spreading even farther. As the CEO of Qantas Airlines announces all passengers on international flights will eventually need to be vaccinated against COVID to be allowed on board, Jim and Greg discuss why that’s a difficult policy to enforce and whether people will shut out from society if they refuse. And they discuss the Trump legal team parting ways with Sidney Powell just days after their much-discussed press conference.

Join Jim and Greg for three good martinis! First, they credit NBC for actually reporting that a big reason for huge forest fires is poor government management and a refusal to diligently thin out forests to contain future fires. They’re also thrilled to see polling showing 80 percent of Saudis expecting normalization of relations with Israel and 71 percent expecting it whether the Palestinians pursue a peace deal or not. And they’re glad to see a majority of Americans approving the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett and a huge majority opposing court packing.

Join Jim and Greg as they applaud the normalization of relations between Israel and Bahrain and indications that Saudi Arabia may soon follow suit. They also discuss the premeditated shootings of two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies on Saturday and why Joe Biden condemns the shooting but not the people blocking the ambulances from reaching the hospitals and chanting that they hoped the deputies died.  And Jim explains why the wildfires in the western U.S. are exposing the extreme policies of some Democrats and environmental activists.

Attorney General Barr Speaks Uncomfortable Truths: Terrorism


It is refreshing to have the head of federal law enforcement clearly speak uncomfortable truths that are politically indelicate. Our good friends, the Saudis, sent us a group of their best and brightest with pro-jihadist, anti-American feelings strong enough to overcome any discretion in their social media habits. At the same time, the killer acted without the clear support of the other students, and the Saudi government recalled all the questionable officers, to be dealt with in their own military justice system.

The text of AG Barr’s remarks is posted on the Department of Justice website. This is where I would have left the event, yet the iPhone issue is not as AG Barr tells it. Bottom line: Barr wants an end to strong (virtually unbreakable) encryption for you and me. The only way to do what he claims he wants is to build the phone and every software system so they have “back doors” which every competent government and transnational criminal/terrorist group will swiftly acquire. This is what he meant by “data at rest” and “data in motion.”

Targets of Another Saudi Taking Flight Training in America


So another young, educated, privileged Saudi man, here all nice and legal, has attempted to commit mass murder for terrorist reasons. Oh, the authorities are mouthing the usual cautions about letting the FBI get to the bottom of it, and you may believe they are diligently working to uncover or bury the truth as you will. But, the American people already have all the evidence needed to come to a reasonable conclusion. What we might not get is the fuller picture, the full target set. For that, let us turn to a parallel development.

In 1946, the United States establishing a School of the Americas, to fundamentally transform our hemisphere through the very long-term growth of professional militaries in Latin America. As the left recognized this program’s effectiveness, they organized to begin smearing our military and this program as a “School for Dictators.” The left lost this long fight, as the Colombian military became a real, capable, professional force instead of a goon squad trying to outdo communist thuggery, always a losing gambit.

Turning from that instance, understand that we have done the same thing on a much wider scale with a wide range of professional military schools for decades. The point has always been to influence foreign militaries from the middle ranks up. Yes, there are also peer militaries involved in exchanges, where we send officers to their schools and they sent to ours. Set those exchanges aside, and look at the one-way programs. No US student is going to Saudi Arabia to learn to be a military pilot. We are not just providing a service as part of the arms sales package here; we are in the very long-term business of influence operations.

Turkish Trick or Treat?


A young veteran reminded me of the truly ancient roots of conflict in the Middle East, pointing to lines we do not even see on the sand and soil. This prompted me to return to a summary sketch I laid aside months ago, after fleshing out an account of what we now call Iran. Then the House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution condemning the Ottoman Empire for committing the first genocide of the 20th Century…and 12 Republicans joined Rep. Ilhan Omar in opposing the resolution! What? Why? What follows is a single summary of the other three big players, historically, now known as Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

Iran and Egypt can point to the most ancient civilizations, as their progenitors were contemporary regional powers. The clash between them was captured in the ancient Hebrew texts, as the Jewish people were caught in the middle. Saudi Arabia comes next, with claims to punching far above their weight with armies fired by the fervor of a new faith, and more recently of being the secular and religious guardians of the faith. Finally, the Turks can claim to have been the most successful and latest power to rule the region for centuries after imposing final defeat on the (Christian) Eastern Roman empire.

Saudi Arabia:

A Tale of 3 Press Conferences


POTUS DIMEFILIf you watch and listen to three sets of statements and answers by our current administration, you will get an interesting picture of our actual current policy. The first is by President Trump, answering a reporter’s off-topic question when he signed two executive orders on transparency in federal guidance and enforcement (a serious push back on the growth of an unaccountable fourth branch of government in the administrative state). The second is a Pentagon briefing on the deployment of Patriot Air Defense/Anti Missile units and two Air Force fighter squadrons to Saudi Arabia, in which both this action and comments on Syria are interesting. The third is a White House press corps briefing by Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin.

President Trump has laid out three possible courses of action in the longstanding conflict between Turkey and those Kurds living in eastern Turkey and across the border in Syria. As has been explained repeatedly elsewhere, these are not the same Kurds abandoned by George H.W. Bush and now supported in northern Iraq by President Trump. These are different groups with different politics.

The Turks have never treated their Kurdish population well. In turn, those Kurds, in the context of the Cold War, understandably turned to Moscow, as any group that was going to get outside support was going to be compatible with Soviet communist doctrine. Given all that, we should not bite on the “dirty commie” line too hard, and should remember that J. Edgar Hoover was busy trying to run the same line on black and Jewish civil rights leaders, a number of whom did turn to seek support where they might find it. All of which is to say that there ain’t no good guys in the local cast of characters, and there is a long standing quarrel with blood on both sides.

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Daniel Silva has managed two very difficult things: he keeps producing page-turners you want to pick up as soon as they fly off the presses, and he has managed to avoid [Republican president’s name] Derangement Syndrome. Producing quality spy fiction, setting stories in (part of) the current international context, is a major accomplishment and a […]

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America enjoy watching some Democrats fret that Beto O’Rourke’s vow to take everyone’s AR-15 and AK-47 might convince voters that Democrats are after our guns.  They also shudder as Iranian-funded and armed rebels in Yemen attack Saudi oil production facilities, leading to much higher tensions in the region.  And they hammer the New York Times for publishing a new, salacious allegation against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh while omitting the fact the alleged victim has no memory of the incident.

The Saudi-Iranian Conflict Grows


Paul D. Miller is a Middle East expert paying close attention to the growing tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. On Monday, he wrote a Twitter thread explaining the situation. Here it is in story form:

As you read all the hot takes about the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure and the U.S.’s purported plans to respond, here are some things to keep in mind:

It would be unprecedented if a non-state actor were capable of pulling off an attack like this without state support. The Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility and Iran has denied any role. I say “Big, if true.” I don’t buy it.

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After reading today about the drone strike yesterday on Saudi Arabia that halved its oil output, the first thing I thought of was the damage it could do to the US economy. The second was the consequences of the first for the president, a pillar of whose reelection argument is the performance of the US […]

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Do you have any relatives or associates who are Obama devotees, voted for Hillary and recently participated in the blue trickle? Are any of them posting on social media about “Trump’s heartless war for the Saudis in Yemen”? Well,  then,  I present you a reminder you can share with them about how U.S. involvement in […]

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What the Hell Are We Doing in Yemen?


It’s easy to forget the ongoing war in Yemen. But a pair of news stories this week serves not only of a reminder of American involvement there but the foolishness in involving ourselves in yet another civil war.

The first story is the bombing of a school bus by Saudi warplanes that killed 29 children under the age of 15 in Saada Province. For what it’s worth (which isn’t much), the Saudis claim they didn’t intentionally target a bus full of children and that this was a “legitimate military operation.” Civil wars are usually full of atrocities, but this particular horror and the 29 dead children (and many others in this war) was made possible by generous assistance from the United States government and American taxpayers.

Yes, these were Saudi pilots flying Saudi planes (probably — this particular atrocity is credited to the “Saudi-led coalition”), but those planes and the bombs they dropped were sold to them by the United States. Now, you can argue that a seller has no moral responsibility for the atrocities committed when they provide weapons to a bestial regime. So be it, but American involvement doesn’t end when the check is cashed.

Group Writing: My Crazy Plan to Deal With Iran


I’m not saying we’re there now, but we could soon find ourselves in a situation where some kind of military action starts to look like the only possibility to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. If we get to that point, assuming that we’ve not yet reached the point where they have a deployable nuclear missile, I’m suggesting a plan that is a little off the beaten path … a little outside the box. Okay, I’m tearing up the box, setting it on fire, and dancing around it naked in a forest clearing with the rest of the coven.

First, some context. Iran is unique in several ways that I think makes it possible to use tactics that would be a horrible mistake in any other part of the Middle East.

To start with, while most of the Muslim world, including almost the entire remaining Middle East, is Sunni, Iran is Shia, and Sunni and Shia hate each other almost as much as they hate us. An attack on Iran would not be seen in the same way, or produce the same reaction, as a similar attack on, for example, Saudi Arabia.

Saudis Recognize Israel’s Right to Exist


I couldn’t believe my ears — yes, my ears. I learned about this by phone from my Torah study partner in Israel. I had to search to find out more. Thanks to Ben Shapiro, I finally believe it. He quotes an article in the Atlantic where Prince Mohammed bin Salman says:

I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation. I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land…. we have religious concerns about the fate of the holy mosque in Jerusalem and about the rights of the Palestinian people. This is what we have. We don’t have any objection against any other people.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are pleasantly stunned to hear Saudi Arabia’s crown prince publicly state that Israel has a right to live in peace on its own land and wonder if things are truly changing in the Middle East or whether this is a temporary thaw in order to confront Iran.  In the wake of the very public feud between Fox News host Laura Ingraham and gun control activist David Hogg, they also discuss how the rise of populism leads to political debates becoming a referendum on the people in the debate rather than the ideas involved in the debate.  And they wonder why President Trump is spending so much time blasting Amazon and the rate it pays to mail packages, suspecting it might have something to do with another business venture headed by Jeff Bezos.

Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital: Now What?


The many opinions on Ricochet about Trump’s announcement to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital have been exasperating, delightful, and insightful. As in many of these discussions, a major change like this bodes danger, disaster, and mayhem. I felt compelled to create some perspective on the situation, as hourly the concerns and positions shift. I explain my thoughts on the effect of Trump’s action in seven points. See what you think

1. There never was a legitimate peace process. The Jews always had a presence in Israel, in spite of the Diaspora. Then in the 19th century, Jewish immigration began to increase; the Arabs in the region resented them and repeatedly attacked them, especially from the 1920s onward. The Arabs made sure that everyone knew they were not interested in negotiating anything and that their only intention was to destroy the Jews. There is nothing that any Arab or so-called Palestinian has said to change those facts in recent years. I see no reason these circumstances will change in the future.

Conclusion: Israel needs to pursue a one-state solution that will deal with the Palestinian people in a fair and just way (whether or not they agree with it). From the PA’s corrupt and inept governance over the years, we see they are not capable of structuring or managing their own country; they will only maintain their goal of destroying Israel.

Muslim Nations Organize to Fight Terrorism


You read the title correctly: Saudi Arabia has been working to develop a coalition to fight terrorism with 41 other Muslim countries. The new organization, originally discussed in December 2015, ran a full-page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal on Friday. They will have their first formal meeting as an organization, the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, today (Sunday).

The IMCTC announced their approach in May 2017 to understanding and fighting terrorism:

  • The causes of terrorism and extremism are not solely religious, but also personal, social, and political. All these causes need to be dealt with by preparing an appropriate ground on both social and political levels.
  • The wars and civil strife are also considered one of the causes of terrorism and extremism and an important source to attract terrorist organizations.
  • Terrorism does not emerge from Islamic countries only, but also from non-Islamic countries. Therefore, all countries around the world must unite their dealing mechanisms and common perspectives and share intelligence information among them in order to combat terrorism.
  • The integrated intellectual, communicational, social and military approach the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia adopted in countering terrorism is considered a role model worldwide.
  • The world should also prepare for post-Daesh-defeat phase given the enormous defeats this terrorist organization is facing and the importance of undermining any attempts by the organization to reposition itself.
  • IMCTC, led by KSA, is a qualitative step in the field of countering terrorism during the last few years, especially due to incapability of any country to face terrorism all alone.

I found this list pretty impressive. The latest announcement cited “a duty to protect the Islamic nation from the evils of all terrorist groups and organizations whatever their sect and name which wreak death and corruption on earth and aim to terrorize the innocent”; this statement suggests that not only are all terrorist groups put on notice, but all sects of Islam should be protected. The membership list is here. Noticeably, but not surprisingly, Syria and Iran are missing, as is Iraq, although Saudi Arabia is working to develop a working relationship with Iraqis.