UNITED NATIONS Investigates Saudi Arabia’s Human Record In Wake of The Murder of Washington Post Reporter Jamal Khashoggi


More than three million displaced in Yemen – joint UN agency report

Journalist and reporter for Washington Post Jamal Khashoggi murdered by a Saudi hit squad in Turkish Consulate in Istanbul.

|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|SAUDI ARABIA faces international condemnation and censure for the apparent murder of its citizen at a Turkish Consulate in Istanbul in October; and its ongoing war in Yemen.

The United Kingdom and the US are working towards a joint resolution, and consequently a joint communique ending four-year conflict that has claimed millions of lives and made even more millions of peopled internally displaced.


Yemeni families are on the brink of famine. On top of forced displacement, hunger now looms across Yemen, leaving the lives of millions of children, women, and men at risk. UNHCR is working hard to provide displaced families with vital support like food, shelter and healthcare in their time of greatest need. But we cannot do it without you. 

This is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and it deserves critical attention.
Your donation could help to provide displaced families with the essentials they need to survive: shelter, blankets, medical care and emergency assistance.
UNHCR can make your gift reach the people most in need – fast. We are on the ground within 72 hours from an emergency helping families forced to flee. It is our job to protect and safeguard refugees’ rights and help rebuild their lives.

UNHCR, THE UN REFUGEE AGENCY
More than three million displaced in Yemen – joint UN agency report


More than three million displaced in Yemen – joint UN agency report

A joint report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has found that the conflict in Yemen has resulted in the displacement of some 3,154,572 people, of which 2,205,102 remain displaced across the country and some 949,470 have attempted to return home.

“The crisis is forcing more and more people to leave their homes in search of safety,” Ita Schuette, UNHCR’s Deputy Representative in Yemen said in a news release on Friday, announcing the report.

The news release added that due to the escalating conflict and worsening humanitarian conditions, displacement across the country has seen an increase of about seven per cent since April, with 152,009 individuals fleeing from violence during this period.

The report, prepared by the Task Force on Population Movement, a technical working group led by the two agencies as part of the humanitarian response to the crisis in Yemen, also said that a significant number of those displaced are attempting to return home, a 24 per cent increase of some 184,491 individuals. However, it cautioned that movements remained fluid and correlated to moments of lulls or perceived improvements in the conflict.

“IDP returnees are considered to remain within the displacement cycle as long as they have not achieved a sustainable reintegration and their needs remain high, as is also the case for the non-displaced host community,” said Laurent De Boeck, IOM Chief of Mission to Yemen.

Yemen’s displaced struggle to survive on leaves, moldy bread crumbs

Yemen’s internally displaced have no meal times because there is no meal in the first place.

In this Oct. 1, 2018, photo, a malnourished boy sits on a hospital bed at the Aslam Health Center, Hajjah, Yemen.

/HANI MOHAMMED, AP/ABS/AIWA! NO!/ Yemen — Yahia Hussein has already lost a 5-month-old son who wasted away and died as they fled their village in northern Yemen. Now living in a camp for the displaced, he is running out of ways to feed his other four children.

Jobless, he has no way to afford food, and he says he hasn’t received international aid for several months. His wife gives their children moldy bread crumbs mixed with water and salt. Some days she feeds them a paste made of boiled leaves from a vine called “halas.”

APTOPIX Yemen Displaced into Hunger Photo Essay

In this Oct. 1, 2018, photo, a man holds Halas before cooking for his children, a climbing vine of green leaves, in Aslam, Hajjah, Yemen. The leaves are made into green paste and used to be a traditional side dish, but at times of extreme poverty, it becomes the main meal. HANI MOHAMMED / AP

“We left everything behind. We walked for hours on foot, carrying nothing, not even one rial/penny, no food or water,” he told The Associated Press at the camp in the northern province of Hajjah.

They are among millions of Yemenis who lost everything – homes, jobs, loved ones – in nearly four years of civil war. The conflict has pushed the country of 29 million people to the brink of famine. At least 8 million have no food other than what aid agencies provide.

Yemen Displaced into Hunger Photo Essay

In this Oct. 1, 2018, photo, a severely malnourished boy rests on a hospital bed at the Aslam Health Center, Hajjah, Yemen. Malnutrition, cholera, and other epidemic diseases like diphtheria ravaged through the displaced and the impoverished communities.HANI MOHAMMED / AP

The figure is likely to rise to 11.5 million as more people become unable to afford food because the worsening economic crisis caused by the war, U.N. agencies warn. The currency is crumbling in value, sending prices soaring.

The humanitarian disaster has come as the U.S.-backed Saudi-led coalition since 2015 has waged a relentless campaign of airstrikes and imposed a blockade, aiming to uproot Shiite rebels known as Houthis, who took over northern and central Yemen. Both sides in the fight are accused of war crimes, but with weapons supplied by the U.S., Saudi Arabia is capable of much greater damage.

Besides airstrikes, northern Yemen has also seen heavy barrages back and forth across the border with Saudi Arabia as Saudi forces battle rebels.

Hussein and his family had to flee their border village of al-Shada because of non-stop strikes and shelling. As they fled, the 5-month-old died in his mother’s arms. Hussein is not sure if it was from dehydration or malnutrition.

For the past four months, they have lived in a shack made of sticks, blankets and plastic sheets in a camp in Aslam district near the city of Abs.

Yemen Displaced into Hunger Photo Essay

In this Oct. 1, 2018 photo, a man feeds his children Halas, a climbing vine of green leaves, in Aslam, Hajjah, Yemen. HANI MOHAMMED / AP

The 46-year-old Hussein once grew grapes and pomegranates and thrived off trade in markets across the border in Saudi Arabia. He lost his livelihood, sold all his goats but one and cut down on meals to one a day.

The numbers of displaced are only growing.

APTOPIX Yemen Displaced into Hunger Photo Essay

In this Oct. 1, 2018, photo, a severely malnourished boy rests on a hospital bed at the Aslam Health Center, Hajjah, Yemen. HANI MOHAMMED / AP

In August-September, 20,000 people fleeing the border town of Bani Hassan flowed into Abs, Doctors Without Borders reported. The aid organization, which operates in the main hospital in Abs, said it treated more than 300 people wounded the fighting.

A number of women and children in late stages of malnutrition or cholera or with complications from giving birth have died, the group said, without giving figures.

Doctors Without Borders said it is ready to deploy mobile medical teams around the area every day but has only received permission from Houthi authorities for seven days the past month.

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REPUBLICAN PARTY Right Wing Members Of Congress Invite English Defense League (EDL) Founder Tommy Robinson To a Major Event In Washington DC, Despite His Criminal Record In UK

 There are plans for Robinson to take his message across the globeRight wing members of Congress have invited the EDL Member Tommy Robinson To a Major Washington DC GOP event on 14 November.

MATTHEW MCGREGOR, openDemocracy Uk|AIWAI! NO!|Stephen Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson, has been invited to speak at a major conference in Washington DC. If he’s allowed to attend, it will give him a big platform to push his anti-Muslim agenda. It will give him the respectability of appearing alongside members of Congress. And it could net him in the range of £1million via fundraising. The question is whether – given his long criminal record – he’ll be allowed to attend.

Here’s the situation: the Middle East Forum has, in conjunction with the David Horowitz Freedom Center, invited Lennon to the United States in mid-November. In addition, Rep. Paul Gosar and six other members of Congress have invited Lennon to speak to the Conservative Opportunity Society in a closed-door event.

Our analysis suggests that Lennon will raise in the range of £1m as a result of the exposure and links he can foster on this trip if he is allowed into the US. We expect him to use his media profile and funding to tour the country organising demonstrations about grooming scandals. Previous demonstrations organised by, or for, Lennon have descended into violence and left a trail of division.

Robinson still faces a possible jail term for contempt of court having posted footage he filmed from outside a grooming gang’s trial online

On Tuesday 23rd October, outside the Old Bailey in London, Lennon announced his intentions:

“I want to spend the next six months travelling to towns and cities blighted by these problems. By next summer the entire world is going to the true extent of the rape of Britain. Again, I am going to have more in videos coming up”.          

Some people have asked how he’d be allowed to travel to the US given his record. In 2013 Lennon was jailed for 10 months for using someone else’s passport to travel to the USA. Lennon used a passport in the name of Andrew McMaster to board a Virgin Atlantic flight from Heathrow to New York. He entered the US illegally then used his own passport to return to the UK. It is believed that Lennon received a ten-year ban on re-entering the US following his 2013 conviction.

But the Trump administration can override these bans if they want to, giving Lennon the possibility of getting in for his lucrative speaking engagement. It seems that the people behind the invite to Lennon have made a request to the US administration to lift his ban. The Middle East Forum and the David Horowitz Freedom Center both have very good political links to the Trump administration.

The people behind this event are pushing at a half-open door. The Trump administration has strong links to the self-defined “counter-jihad” movement. There were early appointees like Steve Bannon, Mike Flynn and Sebastian Gorka. More recent appointments include National Security Advisor John Bolton, who has close links to Pamela Geller, an American activist notorious for her anti-Islamic writings, and the new chief of staff of the National Security Council, Fred Fleitz, part of a group who promote anti-Islamic conspiracy theories. Trump himself received briefings from  Frank Gaffney, a key figure behind the ‘Obama is a Muslim’ conspiracy theory, and Bridget Gabriel, head of the largest anti-Muslim campaign group in the US, ACT for America. ACT recently boasted of having monthly meetings with the White House. This is an administration infected with anti-Muslim prejudice.

The Trump administration has shown its own support for Lennon, especially following his imprisonment for contempt. The British ambassador to the US was lobbied in June by Trump’s ambassador for religious freedoms, Sam Brownback, who demanded the UK government be more sympathetic towards the former EDL leader. At the same time, Donald Trump Jnr, Trump’s son, personally tweeted out his support for Lennon.

About the author: Matthew McGregor is campaigns director of Hope not Hate.

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MIDDLE EAST; YEMEN – Over 7 million Children Face ‘Serious’ Famine Threat; United Nations

UN: Over 7 million Yemeni children face ‘serious’ famine threat

A Yemeni man carries his child who is suffering from malnutrition into a treatment center at a hospital in Sanaa. (AFP)

  • ‘More than half’ of the 14 million people at serious risk of famine in the impoverished country are children
  • Over 6,000 children have either been killed or sustained serious injuries since 2015

|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|HODEIDAH: Over seven million children face a serious threat of famine in Yemen and ending the country’s war will not save all of them, the UN children’s agency said.

Yemeni children ‘born into war’ face the possibility of famine
A UNICEF report entitled “Born into War” offers a detailed look on how Yemeni children have been scarred by years of violence, displacement, disease, poverty, undernutrition and a lack of access to basic services including water, health care and education.
“More than 5,000 children have been killed or injured in the violence — an average of five children every day since March 2015,” the report said, adding that more than 11 million children needed urgent humanitarian assistance — more than half of the country’s child population — as they did not have access to safe drinking water or adequate sanitation.
“An estimated 1.8 million children are acutely malnourished, including nearly 400,000 severely acutely malnourished children who are fighting for their lives,” the report said.

“Today, 1.8 million children under the age of five are facing acute malnutrition, and 400,000 are affected by severe acute malnutrition,” said Geert Cappelaere, regional director of UNICEF.

OVER 100 CHILDREN ARE DYING OF HUNGER EVERY DAY 

The war in Yemen has been raging for three years now which has left the country in the grip of the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis. 

A deadly triple threat – bombs, disease and hunger – is threatening an entire generation of children. 

The conflict has left many families unable to afford food and water. And millions of children don’t know when or if their next meal will come. 

As the battle intensifies in the port city of Hodeidah – the country’s main gateway for food, fuel and humanitarian supplies – millions more could face starvation. 

Yemen is on the brink of the worst famine in 100 years.

“More than half” of the 14 million people at serious risk of famine in the impoverished country are children, Cappelaere said late on Wednesday.

“Ending the war is not enough,” he said, referring to a more than three-year conflict that pits the government supported by a Saudi-led military coalition against Houthi militia.

“What we need is to stop the war and (to create) a government mechanism that puts at the center the people and children.

“The war is exacerbating the situation that was already bad before because of years of underdevelopment” in the Arab world’s poorest nation, Cappelaere said.

He welcomed a call by the UN on Wednesday to relaunch peace talks within a month.
He said efforts to come up with a solution in the next 30 days were “critical” to improving aid distribution and saving lives. Cappelaere said that over 6,000 children have either been killed or sustained serious injuries since 2015.

“These are the numbers we have been able to verify, but we can safely assume that the number is higher, much higher,” he said.

Saudi Arabia and its allies entered the war to bolster Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after the Iran-backed Houthis took over the capital Sanaa.
Since 2015, more than 10,000 people have been killed and some 22 million — three quarters of the population — are in need of food aid, according to the UN.

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Pakistani Christian woman who spent eight years on death row for blasphemy after drinking from wrong cup released

Asia Bibi: protests erupt in Pakistan after blasphemy conviction overturned Bibi spent eight years on death row  in Pakistan for blasphemy after drinking from wrong cup

Protesters is Islamabad, Pakistan on Saturday. The demonstrations were sparked by a change in the wording of an electoral oath.
Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Protests bring parts of Pakistani cities to a halt after judgment hailed by advocates of human rights

The country’s top court ordered Asia Bibi be released in what human rights advocates are hailing as a landmark ruling for religious freedom.

The charges date from 2009 when the farm labourer fetched water for her fellow workers. After sipping from a cup, two Muslim women refused to drink from a vessel used by a Christian and demanded she converted to Islam.

When she refused, a mob to later accused her of blasphemy by insulting the prophet Mohammed. She was subsequently convicted and sentenced to death in 2010.

Ms Bibi’s family have maintained that she never insulted the prophet and in previous hearings her lawyer pointed to contradictions in testimony from witnesses.

The case outraged Christians worldwide and been a source of division within Pakistan, where two politicians who tried to help her were assassinated.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar cited the Quran in his ruling, writing: “Tolerance is the basic principle of Islam,” and noting the religion condemns injustice and oppression.

Ms Bibi, who has been held at a secret location for security reasons, is now expected to leave the country.

Her husband, Ashiq Masih, hailed the verdict: “I am very happy. My children are very happy. We are grateful to God. We are grateful to the judges for giving us justice. We knew that she is innocent.”

Asia Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010 (EPA)

Her lawyer, Saiful Mulook, called the court ruling “great news” for Pakistan.

“Asia Bibi has finally been served justice,” he added. ”Pakistan’s Supreme Court must be appreciated that it upheld the law of the land and didn’t succumb to any pressure.”

However, the Islamist Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) party called for people to take to the streets, and demanded that the judges who were involved in overturning the sentence be killed.

The party was founded from a movement supporting a bodyguard who assassinated Lahore provincial governor Salman Taseer for advocating for Ms Bibi in 2011. Federal minister for religion Shahbaz Bhatti was also killed after calling for her release.

The TLP’s leader also called for Imran Khan’s government to intervene.

“The patron-in-chief of TLP, Muhammad Afzal Qadri, has issued the edict that says the chief justice and all those who ordered the release of Asia deserve death,” party spokesperson Ejaz Ashrafi said.

Streets were blocked in major cities as protesters condemned the ruling, paralysing parts of Islamabad, Lahore and other cities.

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Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi Was Strangled And Dismembered;Turkish Prosecutor

The prosecutor said in a statement that it was a “premeditated” attack.

Riyadh has admitted that a pre-meditated plan was made to kill Khashoggi [Reuters]
Riyadh has admitted that a pre-meditated plan was made to kill Khashoggi [Reuters]

|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|Jamal Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and then his body was dismembered, the office of city’s chief prosecutor said on Wednesday, in the first official comment in a case that has caused a global outrage.

“In accordance with plans made in advance, the victim, Jamal Khashoggi, was choked to death immediately after entering the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, for marriage formalities,” the statement said.

“The victim’s body was dismembered and destroyed following his death by suffocation – again, in line with advance plans,” it added.

In a statement released to the Turkish press on Wednesday, Istanbul’s top prosecutor Irfan Fidan described the killing as “premeditated” and categorized recent meetings with Saudi Arabia’s prosecutor about the ongoing investigation as less than helpful.

“Despite all our good intentions and efforts to unravel the truth, a concrete outcome was not reached from the meetings,” Fidan’s statement said. The Saudi official, Saud al-Mujeb, had spent three days conferring with Turkish authorities in Istanbul but was scheduled to head back to Saudi Arabia later that day.

In a statement released to the Turkish press on Wednesday, Istanbul’s top prosecutor Irfan Fidan described the killing as “premeditated” and categorized recent meetings with Saudi Arabia’s prosecutor about the ongoing investigation as less than helpful.

“Despite all our good intentions and efforts to unravel the truth, a concrete outcome was not reached from the meetings,” Fidan’s statement said. The Saudi official, Saud al-Mujeb, had spent three days conferring with Turkish authorities in Istanbul but was scheduled to head back to Saudi Arabia later that day.

The Saudis maintain that Khashoggi died as the result of a rogue operation gone awry and have detained 18 people in connection to the case.

However, Turkish authorities and many experts believe that Saudi Arabia’s young crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, likely ordered the operation that led to Khashoggi’s death.

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Saudi Arabia Court Murder Investigation Chaos As New Claims Suggest Journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder ‘Conducted Via Skype’

The Turkish government commented on the matter for the first time this week, saying, that the entire operation was savagely planned, and perhaps even conducted via Skype by Saud al-Qahtani, Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s primary henchman.kh

|J. Dana Stuster, LAWFARE/AIWA! NO!|The U.S. State Department canceled the visas of 21 Saudi citizens believed to be involved in the plot to murder Jamal Khashoggi, and is discussing the possibility of sanctions with the Treasury Department, U.S. officials said last week.

Saudi handling of Khashoggi murder was 'a total fiasco', Trump says
US President Donald Trump scolded Saudi Arabia for journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and badly executed cover-up, calling it a “total fiasco from day one,” while still hedging on condemning the Saudi government//© Reuters / Leah Millis

The visa cancellations are the first substantive punitive measure taken by the United States in response to the murder of Khashoggi, who was a U.S. permanent resident and columnist for the Washington Post. Given that at least 18 of the individuals are under arrest in Saudi Arabia, the move is largely symbolic, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested that additional steps may be forthcoming.

“These penalties will not be the last word on the matter from the United States,” he said on October 23.

“We’re making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this kind of ruthless action to silence Mr. Khashoggi, a journalist, through violence.”

Image result for CROWN PRINCE MEETS KHASHOGGI SON
Saudi king, crown prince meet Khashoggi family

Members of Congress have discussed taking additional steps, including halting arms sales or U.S. logistical support for the Saudi intervention in Yemen, but no legislative action will be taken while Congress is out of session in the run-up to the midterm elections on November 6.

Turkish investigators are pulling out all stops in probing into the mysterious disappearance and death of Saudi-origin US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who died in the Saudi consulate in Turkey. The Turkish government commented on the matter for the first time this week, saying, that the entire operation was savagely planned, and perhaps even conducted via Skype by Saud al-Qahtani, Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s primary henchman. His direct involvement in the matter would make it harder for the Saudi administration to distance Salman from the operation.

Amidst this ruckus, Khashoggi’s body, presumably mutilated, dismembered and scattered for disposal, remains missing. The same goes for his belongings, at least until Wednesday, when a team of Turkish detectives reportedly searched a vehicle suspected to carry his belongings. Turkish state media said that investigators have found three suitcases, a laptop computer and clothing inside a car belonging to the Saudi consulate, stowed away in an underground garage.

Other countries have also called for action on arms sales to Saudi Arabia in response to Khashoggi’s death. German officials have said they will not sell additional weapons to Riyadh under the circumstances, and Austria, which halted arms sales in 2015 in response to the Saudi intervention in Yemen, has called for the European Union as a whole to discontinue sales.

But some European leaders have expressed reluctance to jeopardize lucrative arms deals, echoing comments made by President Donald Trump. “I understand the connection with [arms sales and] what’s happening in Yemen, but there is no link with Mr. Khashoggi,” French President Emmanuel Macron said, also describing the advocacy for a ban as “pure demagoguery.” Canadian President Justin Trudeau has warned that the penalty for withdrawing from his country’s deal to sell light-armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia would be “in the billions of dollars.” And Spain has said it will continue to do business with Saudi Arabia to protect its shipbuilding industry.

Still, the pressure to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for its human rights violations is unprecedented. There are signs that Saudi officials are recognizing that their strategy of deliberately and obviously lying about Khashoggi’s disappearance has backfired. The Saudi government conceded last week that Khashoggi’s death was a planned operation after Turkish intelligence reportedly shared an audio recording of his murder with CIA Director Gina Haspel; Saudi officials maintain, though, that the operation was carried out without the authorization of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). The Saudi government has also lifted the travel ban on Khashoggi’s son, Salah, a U.S.-Saudi dual citizen, allowing him to fly to the United States—but not before Salah was compelled to meet with MBS for a photo op.

The crown prince addressed Khashoggi’s death in public remarks for the first time last week, at his much-hyped Future Investment Initiative conference, which took place last week despite many American and European officials and business leaders canceling their appearances. Speaking on a panel with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, MBS called Khashoggi’s death “very painful, for all Saudis.” He said that Saudi investigators are working with Turkish authorities and that the two countries “are cooperating to punish any criminal, any culprit and at the end justice will prevail.”

Saud al-Mojeb, who is leading the Saudi investigation, is in Istanbul this week and metwith the chief investigator in Turkey on Monday; Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a press conference that “responsibility of Saudi Arabia is very large here” and stressed that the Saudis should not slow-walk the investigation. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has effectively denied a request from Turkey that the suspects in Khashoggi’s murder be extradited and struck a different tone than MBS. Speaking at a security conference in Bahrain over the weekend, Jubeir called the international outcry “fairly hysterical.”

MBS appeared jovial at the conference, and even concluded his remarks by joking that the press should not “spread rumors” that Hariri, sitting two chairs away on the stage, had been “kidnapped.” The quip suggests that MBS still does not grasp foreign governments’ frustration with the reckless bullying of his governance. Less than a year ago, MBS sparked a political crisis in Lebanon when he held Hariri against his will in Saudi Arabia and forced him to resign under duress. (Hariri withdrew his resignation when he returned to Lebanon after a diplomatic intervention by France, but he has remained on working terms with MBS, who is an important patron of Hariri’s family and political fortunes.) The comment’s direction at the media also felt barbed, given that the conference was occurring under the shadow of a journalist’s murder and in a country with severe limits on free speech and reporting. One of the Saudi government’s first reactions to Khashoggi’s death was to issue a statement reminding Saudi citizens and press that “spreading rumors or fake news that might affect public order and security is considered cybercrime punishable by 5-year imprisonment.” To MBS, this recklessness and authoritarianism is still a punchline.

Though MBS stressed the importance of proceeding with his economic reforms at the conference last week, Khashoggi’s death has interfered with those plans. Bloombergnoted that most of the attendees of the Future Investment Initiative forum were Saudis, and that more Chinese and Russian investors were present this year while American and European businesses stayed home. Some analysts have suggested that businesses dropped out of the conference for show and would be back to invest later, but others have noted that MBS’ reputation for impulsive and unpredictable policies had been deterring the investment he’s been courting long before Khashoggi disappeared. Michael Hirsh, writing in Foreign Policy, noted that foreign direct investment in Saudi Arabia declined by 80 percent from 2016 to 2017. “Khashoggi’s killing at the hands of Mohammed bin Salman’s security forces—which the Saudis are now confessing was premeditated—has only brought international attention to a problem that close observers of Saudi Arabia had been aware of for more than a year,” Hirsh wrote. “The crown prince was making bad decisions and scaring a lot of influential and wealthy people away.” Karen Young, an insightful observer of the Saudi economy, argued in a recent piece for the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog that this could have unfortunate consequences for the Saudi youth that stood to benefit from a more diverse Saudi economy, and that economic instability in the kingdom could spread, with the country’s skyrocketing sovereign debt as a conduit to foreign markets. With his credibility as a reformer in doubt, MBS is relying now more than ever on “checkbook diplomacy” to retain support from his regional allies and foreign countries eager to sell arms to Riyadh, Mohamad Bazzi wrote in the New York Times on Monday. “Since Prince Mohammed’s rise to power, the Saudis have pursued a more aggressive and militarized foreign policy, but they have also fallen back on a tactic honed over decades—wielding their oil wealth to buy loyalty in the Arab world and beyond,” he wrote.

The Saudi royal court is notoriously opaque, but there have been signs of fresh intrigue in the past week. King Salman has reportedly rallied to the defense of his son and hand-picked successor, even as close allies have expressed their concern about his continued rule. “People who think there’s going to be any change in the succession are wrong,” Prince Turki al-Faisal told the Washington Post’s David Ignatius last week. Prince Turki said that the backlash to Khashoggi’s death had actually strengthened MBS’ position. But even before this past month, MBS had reportedly been concerned about threats from rivals. Western officials have suggested to the Post that he could accept an arrangement to share power with another royal to placate critics. One option for that role would be Khalid bin Faisal, the former mayor of Mecca and a son of King Faisal, who governed in the 1960s and 1970s. Another would be Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz, King Salman’s brother, who has reportedly been floated by some members of the royal family for some sort of stewardship role. Prince Ahmed has been living in self-imposed exile in England since being passed over for the role of crown prince; in September, in a clip posted online, he made a rare public appearance to address to a crowd of protesters in London, saying that policies including the war in Yemen are the fault of the current Saudi leadership but not the royal family as a whole. On Tuesday, rumors were circulating online that Prince Ahmed had unexpectedly returned to Riyadh from London.

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J. Dana Stuster is the deputy foreign policy editor for Lawfare and a PhD student at Yale University. He worked previously as a policy analyst at the National Security Network and an assistant editor at Foreign Policy magazine.
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