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Saudi Arabia must win in Yemen, not Iran

“The Senate on Monday did not override President Trump’s vetoes of three measures to block arms deals benefiting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, an expected but nonetheless serious setback for those who had hoped Congress would punish Saudi leaders for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” The Washington Post reported on July 29, 2019.

(August 6, 2019 / Newsmax)

Contrary to the tone of The Washington Post article, this is a good thing.

There is no question that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a “bad” nation. They have done what they have been accused of. The Saudis have invaded Yemen, admittedly to support its’ legitimate president and government, and sometimes indiscriminately bomb its’ cities. And the Saudi leadership almost undoubtedly had Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, killed in a particularly brutal manner.

There is also no question that the Saudis are deplorable in other ways as well.

They have a horrendous human rights record at home. In Saudi Arabia, it is illegal for non-Muslims to be citizens, women have few rights, and the Shia Muslim minority is discriminated against religiously, in the areas of education, the administration of justice, and employment. Saudi clerics have sometimes even sanctioned the killing of Shia Saudi citizens. Saudi Arabia has the third highest rate of executions in the world behind China and Iran, according to Amnesty International. The death penalty is even used for non-crimes, such as practicing witchcraft. Children can be put to death; a boy was beheaded for simply protesting the government. Other protestors have been killed by crucifixion or by having their head impaled on a spike. Stoning remains a punishment for women accused of adultery.

And Saudi Arabia has been a malignant force throughout the world when it comes to spreading Wahhabism, or radical Sunni Islam. Wahhabism’s explosive growth began in the 1970s when Saudi charities started funding Wahhabi schools and mosques worldwide. Among those educated by Saudi propaganda was Osama Bin Laden. Granted, the Saudis have gotten a little better, recently. But they still spend millions, if not hundreds of millions, to educate people in a dangerous and anti-U.S., anti-Israel, and anti-West ideology.

But with all this said, President Trump is quite right to continue to sell arms to Saudi Arabia. Because it is not all about Saudi Arabia; any national interest calculus by the U.S. must also address the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The fact is the Saudis are only in Yemen because of Iran. The Shia Islamist Iranian regime has been sending advanced weapons and military advisers to supply and train Yemen’s rebel Houthi movement. The Houthis control about half of the population of that nation, and a large chunk of that land, including the former capitol of Sana’a. Under Iranian tutelage — and sometimes under direct orders — the Houthis have attacked plenty of Saudi targets, and more concerning for the U.S., oil shipping in the area through the Bab al-Mandab strait and in the Red Sea. An estimated 4.8 million b/d of crude oil and refined petroleum products flowed through this waterway in 2016. The Houthis have even gone so far as to attack a U.S. ship.

What is worse, the Iranian regime is also in Yemen in the hopes that it can threaten Saudi Arabia, a huge world producer of oil. Yemen has always been the soft underbelly of Saudi Arabia. In the 60’s, Egypt’s then-dictator Gamal Abdul Nasser invaded Yemen, threatening the Saudis, and prompting them to support the Yemeni forces arrayed against Egypt. Eventually, Egyptian forces were forced out. Today, Iran hopes to succeed where Egypt failed. In particular, it hopes to inspire and support the Shia Muslim majority population in the Eastern Province of the Saudi kingdom to rise up against the Saudi King. This area of Saudi Arabia is especially valuable, as it has most of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s oil, and is directly adjacent to the Persian Gulf.

Needless to say, although the U.S. no longer relies on oil from the Middle East, the U.S. still has a national interest in preventing the Iranian regime from disrupting the oil flow throughout the world and creating economic chaos.

And that is not all.

Iran is at war with the U.S. Over the years, the Iranian regime has seized hostages from our Embassy in Tehran, sponsored and directed the attacks that murdered and maimed hundreds of Americans by foreign designated terror group Hezbollah, and supplied and trained Iraqi rebel terror groups who killed over 600 U.S. soldiers in Iraq. For that matter, the Houthis are no friends to the U.S. Not only have the Houthis fired on a U.S. ship, but they are also known for their chant, “Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse the Jews, Victory to Islam!”

And although the Saudis can be a dangerous sponsor of terrorism, the Iranian regime is the premier state sponsor of terrorism, worldwide. It has long been a menace to its neighbors in the Middle East, including the U.S.’s strongest ally, Israel, and also to the European nations, including those that continue to support the Iran deal. Recently, while the Iranian president was touring Europe to drum up support for more European aid to Iran, his regime was plotting to bomb an anti-Iranian regime rally near Paris, which would have killed and wounded probably hundreds of innocent Europeans (and some Americans). Like Saudi Arabia, the Iranian regime also promotes radical Islam; the only difference is that Iran promotes radical Shia Islam instead of the Sunni version.

Finally, the U.S. also has an interest in selling weapons and supplies to Saudi Arabia to boost the U.S. economy.

Even the moral argument is basically a wash. The Houthis and the Iranians have human rights records that are similar, if not worse, than the Saudis. In Iran, gays are hung on cranes, Baha’is are eradicated, and political prisoners are tortured and killed by the regime. The Houthis are no better. They have the distinction of having recruited more than 30,000 child soldiers since war broke out, far more than the Saudis. And, like the Saudis, they are also quite willing to bomb and starve their own people.

As Winston Churchill once memorably said, “If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.” The same sentiment applies here. Saudi Arabia is not a “good” nation, but it is much better for the U.S. national interest that the Saudis win in Yemen, rather than the Iranians. The U.S. should act accordingly.

Originally published: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/saudi-arabia-yemen-iran-united-states/2019/08/06/id/927503/

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When Diplomacy Interferes With Justice

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents has dominated foreign policy news for months. Prominent members of Congress are increasingly upset that the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia has interfered with the rigorous pursuit of justice for Khashoggi. After all, they argue, Jamal Khashoggi was a US resident, so there should be consequences for the man who, according to the CIA, planned his murder – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman – the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. Many of these members of Congress also argue that Khashoggi’s murder is so serious that the strong, longtime, US-Saudi relationship must be re-evaluated if there is no justice.

But the Khashoggi case is hardly unique. In fact, there is a similar, but far more serious, situation that resulted in the deaths of two American citizens and the wounding of several others. This occurred on August 9, 2001, when a Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem was pulverized by a suicide bomber.

On that day, Malki Roth, a 15-year-old girl; Judith Greenbaum, a pregnant 31-year-old woman; other American citizens; and many Israelis went to the Sbarro Pizzeria to enjoy some American-style pizza. The Pizzeria, on Ben Yehuda Street, was one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in Jerusalem and was a popular place, especially for families with children. At approximately 2 p.m., at the height of the lunch hour, a blast went off. A Palestinian terrorist named Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri had triggered a powerful bomb that was hidden in his guitar case, which was also packed with nails, nuts and bolts in order to cause maximum damage.

Fifteen people were killed in the blast, eight of them children, and 130 more people were wounded. Malki Roth was a teenager so thoughtful and loving that she often helped her mother care for her handicapped sibling. And Judith Greenberg, an only child who arrived in Israel with her husband as part of her graduate studies, who was five months pregnant at the time. Another four US citizens – David Danzig, Matthew Gordon, Joanne Nachenberg and Sara Nachenberg – were wounded. To this day, Joanne Nachenberg remains in a vegetative state.

Ahlam Tamimi, a Palestinian Arab citizen of Jordan, was the terrorist planner of this operation. She was a 20-year-old student at the time and a supporter of Hamas. Tamimi had even accompanied the suicide bomber there, leaving just before the blast. We know all of this because Tamimi has brazenly bragged about it time and time again, in television and radio interviews, many of which come up in a simple Google search.

Tamimi has spoken about how she spent nine days looking for the perfect place to maximize deaths, how disappointed she initially was when it was first reported that there were only a few deaths, and how important it was to her and the bomber that religious Jews be in the blast area. In all her videos she expressed delight at her actions. In one particularly chilling video, Tamimi was asked if she knew how many children she killed. Her response was “three,” and when she was corrected with the true number – eight – a huge, self-satisfied smile crossed her face.

In late 2002, Tamimi was sentenced by an Israeli court to 16 multiple sentences for her part in this massacre. However, on October 19, 2011, she, together with 1,026 other terrorists, were traded for Gilad Schalit, the Israeli soldier held by Hamas.

 

When Ahlam Tamimi was released she was deported to Jordan, where she received a hero’s welcome. As a terrorist, she received money from the Palestinian Authority, at least $52,681, under the “pay-for-slay” program. The Hamas television station Al-Quds gave Tamimi her own television show, which aired every Friday and, until recently, was broadcast around the world. She married her cousin, Nazir Tamimi, who also had been serving time in an Israeli prison for killing an Israeli citizen, and who also was released in exchange for Gilad Schalit. Their wedding was broadcast throughout the Arab world.For decades, we at the Endowment for Middle East Truth have worked exhaustedly to get justice for the families of the Americans killed and wounded in Israel and the disputed territories by Palestinian terrorists like Ahlam Tamimi. We have successfully worked with Congress on multiple letters to the Department of Justice, and twice inspired hearings on the subject. At the second hearing, Arnold Roth, the father of Malki, was brought in to testify. At that hearing, for the first time ever, Brad Wiegmann, the deputy assistant attorney-general in the National Security Division, who supervises these prosecutions, was called to account for the DOJ’s lack of prosecution and was forced to provide a future report to the subcommittee.

Largely because it is so egregious, there has been some progress in the Tamimi case. In 2013, after the congressional letters, Tamimi was indicted by the Obama administration, and her extradition was requested from Jordan. In 2017, after the hearings, the indictment was made public by the Trump administration. But the Jordanian government has refused to extradite Tamimi, claiming there is no valid extradition treaty with the US. They refused, even though the US and Jordan signed an extradition treaty in 1995 that the State Department and the DOJ still recognize as valid. They refused even though in 1995, in 2006 and in 2015, Jordan extradited three criminal terrorists to the US that were wanted there. And they refused even though the Jordanian government receives more than a billion dollars a year in aid from the US

This injustice cannot be allowed to stand.

Ahlam Tamimi is a brutal terrorist murderer who has killed and wounded American citizens. She has reveled in her crimes and urged others to follow in her footsteps. Letting her live unmolested, celebrated and financially rewarded in Jordan is obscene. If the US needs to punish the man Mohammed Bin Salman who planned the murder of US resident Jamal Khashoggi, and the nation Saudi Arabia that protects him, then our nation should also punish Ahlam Tamimi who killed and wounded US citizens, and Jordan, the nation that is protecting her. Justice demands nothing less.

Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth. Adam Turner is its general counsel & legislative affairs director.

Originally published at: https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/When-diplomacy-interferes-with-justice-574420
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Khashoggi – Who Put Erdogan In Charge?

There have been 25 dead journalists accounted for in Turkey since 1992; seven under Erdogan’s regime. Since the 2016 coup in Turkey, 189 media outlets have been shut down and more than 319 journalists have been arrested, the most of any country – even surpassing China.

In recent weeks, Turkey requested that the international police agency Interpol issue a “red notice” warrant to arrest exiled journalists Can Dundar and Ilhan Tanir. Erdogan’s abuse of Interpol to arrest his critics has received pushback from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said, “We must not misuse international organizations like Interpol for such purposes.”

If hunting them down weren’t enough, once journalists are in Turkish custody they are subject to more suffering. Turkish journalist Cevheri Guven stated that he was forced to sign his confession and was subject to mistreatment and torture. Another tactic is abduction. To date, 14 journalists have disappeared.

So why has the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi ignited like wildfire among the mainstream media? Why are we focused on one journalist and not all? Why just one country, Saudi Arabia, and nhot Turkey’s horrendous human rights record? If Saudi Arabia is guilty, then Turkey is beyond guilty. If this is truly about Jamal Khashoggi, then Turkey should be put under the same, if not greater, scrutiny until the cases of all 25 dead journalists have been solved and the perpetrators have been arrested – not just for Khashoggi. But this is not about human rights, nor is it about a journalist. Erdogan as usual is banking on a specific issue because he sees an opportunity to gain leverage.

Erdogan’s first motive is an attempt to shift the focus from his own troubled state to that of Saudi Arabia. If we discuss objectively a bad track record, then let’s have a look at Erdogan’s Turkey as of August 29, 2018: 170,372 state officials, teachers, bureaucrats and academics have been dismissed; 142,874 have been detained; 81,417 have been arrested; 3,003 schools, dormitories and universities have been shut down; 6,021 academic have lost their jobs; 4,463 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed – all since July 2016. This excludes the number of deaths and arrests in Erdogan’s war against the minority Kurds which number more than 20% of the country’s population in the southeast.

Saudi Arabia is a monarchy. It does not claim to be a democracy nor does it want to be one, despite gradual changes by the Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. However, Turkey claims to be a democratic state, a secular modern state, a European Union candidate, a NATO member and a US ally. But let’s not forget that Turkey has deep ties with Russia, evaded Iran sanctions, threatened US soldiers and top officials at Incirlik Air Base, still holds Americans hostage, has close ties with Hamas – a US-designated terrorist organization – and aided Islamic State while spreading Muslim Brotherhood ideology in the Middle East. So, what makes Erdogan’s Turkey better than Saudi Arabia?

If shifting the focus off Turkey is not enough, Erdogan desires closer ties with the United States and is bitter towards the Trump administration’s relations with Saudi Arabia. Erdogan believes as a NATO partner, Turkey should be priority for the US, not Saudi Arabia, despite ruining the relationship on his own. Most importantly, Iran has been quiet throughout the Khashoggi case. Erdogan is attempting to steer the US from taking punitive measures against Iran by weakening Saudi Arabia.

It seems Erdogan is fighting Iran’s battle against the kingdom. Iran is deviously doing what it does best, patiently wait to strike. Meanwhile, Erdogan will also likely demand more leverage in Syria, especially against US allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces. Erdogan’s mission throughout the Syrian conflict has been to disintegrate the partnership between the Kurds and Americans. But he has miserably failed and this is just another stab at it. Of course, Erdogan will attempt to receive some sort of financial aid either from Saudi Arabia or the US for keeping his silence. This is another form of hostage diplomacy – blackmail, actually – with which he is well acquainted.

Erdogan is self-appointed as the protector of the Jamal Khashoggi case, but he should not be taken seriously. His attempt to reconstruct the image of Turkey and himself should be approached with the utmost hesitancy. Erdogan is not to be trusted.

Originally published: https://www.jpost.com//Opinion/Khashoggi-who-put-Erdogan-in-charge-571008

Photo: WPA Pool/Getty Images

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The Enemy of Your Enemy is Not Necessarily Your Friend

The tragic disappearance and likely death of Jamal Khashoggi after he recently entered the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul has lifted a rock under which the egregious human-rights practices of the Saudi kingdom have been swarming for decades. It always struck me as ironic that before the word “Saudi Arabia” has been uttered, we often heard the reflexive prefix: “our moderate Arab ally.” Most of us are aware that in 1945, President Franklin Roosevelt met with Saudi King Ibn Saud on the USS Quincy and made a Faustian bargain, trading their petroleum for American security.

We know of the ugly and dreadful incident of Jamal Khashoggi because he was a well-known journalist for The Washington Post.

However, we barely hear mentioned that Khashoggi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which attempts to conquer the West with Islamism (radical Islam). Like so many other members of the Muslim Brotherhood, he dressed up his hegemonic ambitions for the ascension of Sunni Islamism over that of the West with words like “freedom and democracy.”

And like many other protestors, he had hoped the Arab Spring would pave the way for the overthrow of a despicable autocracy, but perhaps only to replace it with an even more despicable form of radical Islam.

Yes, Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights is deplorable.

While much of the world was bowing and genuflecting over Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmon because he finally allowed women the right to drive (only while being accompanied by a related male companion), a woman’s testimony in a Saudi Court counts for half of that of a man’s. A woman cannot get a passport or any government document without the consent of her male guardian, nor can she study in a university, get a job, get married or even enter a hospital to give birth without being accompanied by her husband, father or brother.

People are arbitrarily arrested, tortured and killed in Saudi Arabia without due process. There is no such thing as freedom of the press, freedom of assembly or religious freedom. In 2016, a Saudi Court sentenced 14 people to death for practicing Shi’ite Islam. According to Human Rights Watch, Asraa al-Ghomgham, a woman, is now awaiting the death penalty for such crimes as “chanting slogans hostile to the regime,” and “filming protests and publishing on social media.”

Yet, Saudi Arabia is hardly alone for human-rights abuses in the Arab and Islamist world.

Look at the Islamic Republic of Iran and you can see very much the same thing. The Islamic Republic denies the basic freedoms of the press, of association or peaceful protest or of religion. There is no transparency or due process. People are routinely and arbitrarily arrested or discriminated against for being of a different ethnic group or religion, or for expressing a divergent political viewpoint.

Trials run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), have been closed, brief and systematically unfair. Lately, the IRGC has been targeting foreign nationals and dual citizens with the “crime” of “cooperating with a hostile state,” without revealing any of their evidence.

Women are arbitrarily beaten by “morality police” if they feel that strands of hair are showing through their hijab, or if they are wearing makeup or tight clothes. Acts of violence against women and girls remain widespread. The legal age of marriage is 13, and fathers and grandfathers can obtain consent from the courts to marry off their daughters at even younger ages. Acts of violence and domestic violence against women remain widespread, and are practiced with impunity.Women have been arrested, detained and tortured for taking off their hijabs publicly. Gays are routinely hung in the public square. Floggings and amputations are carried out with impunity.

Because of their involvement in peaceful protests, scores of youngsters are denied the right to an education.

According to Amnesty International’s report on Iran, in 2017-18”hundreds of people were executed, some in public, and thousands remained on death row. They include people under the age of 18 at the time of the crime.”

Saudi Arabia is no bastion of Jeffersonian democracy. Nor is Turkey, Syria, Qatar, Iran or any Islamist nation.

Iran, however, remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. And it is only expanding its presence—from Tehran, to Baghdad, Beirut and Damascus—and would like to extend itself as far as the Mediterranean as its leaders work on their nuclear design to dominate the world.

And Saudi Arabia might be a pivotal partner in this looming confrontation.

We have to remember that the Middle East is a treacherous neighborhood. No, the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend. It might, however, be a strategic ally for today’s survival.

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/the-enemy-of-your-enemy-is-not-necessarily-your-friend/

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