Saudi Arabia Executes 15 People in 12 Days For Non-Violent Drug Offences

Saudi Arabia has executed 15 people for non-violent drug offences – some thought to be beheaded by sword – in the last 12 days, despite promising to end them. 

In January 2021 the country announced a moratorium on drug-related executions. It came in the wake of the gruesome murder and dismembering of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey in 2018 by a Saudi death squad, a hit the CIA said was ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  

But legal NGO Reprieve said that in the last fortnight the regime had quietly resumed secret executions for drug offences. Ten of those executed are foreign nationals, from Pakistan, Syria and Jordan. Five of them – including a man executed on Monday morning – are Saudi nationals. Because executions are carried out behind closed doors and bodies are not returned to families, methods of execution cannot be confirmed. However experts believe people are killed by a mixture of beheading by sword and by shooting.  

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Saudi Arabia, US On High Alert After Warning Of Imminent Iranian Attack; US Prepared To Respond

With oil prices set to soar after the midterms as the SPR drain ends and markets no longer have desperate democrats to help fulfill their immediate energy needs, moments ago the WSJ unveiled another potential oil price powder keg, so to speak, when it reported that according to Saudi and U.S. officials, Saudi Arabia has shared intelligence with the U.S. warning of an imminent attack from Iran on targets in the kingdom, putting the American military and others in the Middle East on an elevated alert level.

The report goes on to note that Iran is poised to carry out attacks on both the kingdom and Erbil, Iraq, in an effort to distract attention from domestic protests that have roiled the country since September.

In response to the warning, Saudi Arabia – which until recently was on the Biden admin “naughty list” after the crown prince snubbed Biden’s demands for no OPEC+ output cut – the U.S. and several other neighboring states have raised the level of alert for their military forces, the officials said. They didn’t provide more details on the Saudi intelligence.

Separately, the White House National Security Council said it was concerned about the warnings and ready to respond if Iran carried out an attack.

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NYC Mayor Breathes Life into Saudi-9/11 Connection

You could be forgiven for missing it, but in the depths of the dog days of August, with most everyone’s attention on the long Labor Day weekend, New York City Mayor Eric Adams dropped what can be interpreted as tacit acknowledgement that the government of Saudi Arabia — or at least, agents of the government — may have participated in the planning and execution of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

On Thursday, August 30, Adams met at New York City Hall with members of three advocacy groups representing 9/11 survivors and victims’ families. Alarmed by an October stop of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour at the Trump Organization-owned Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx — and convinced by recently declassified information that Saudi Arabian intelligence officials assisted al-Qaeda — the groups asked Adams to block the tournament. 

Adams, who was a NYPD lieutenant in 2001 and worked a security detail at the World Trade Center wreckage that night, said he legally could not do anything. The Trump golf course is Trump’s; Trump can welcome anyone there he likes. 

But then, instead of dismissing the 9/11 families’ specific concerns, Adams platformed them.

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Saudis Use Orwellian App to Identify Dissidents, Imprisoning Some for Decades

Saudi Arabians are using a mobile app sold by both Apple and Google to snitch on their fellow citizens for dissenting against government authorities. As a result, activists and others are going to prison for more than 30 years in some cases, Business Insider reported on Friday.

On August 16, Saudi national Salma el-Shabab, a PhD student at Leeds University, was sentenced to 34 years in prison for tweets “in support of activists and members of the kingdom’s political opposition in exile,” the report said. Though the posts were made while she was in the UK, el-Shabab was nonetheless reported through the “Kollona Amn” app and immediately arrested upon returning home. 

“Every day we wake up to hear news, somebody has been arrested, or somebody has been taken,” Real, a Saudi women’s-rights activist using an alias, told Insider.

Kollona Amn – which roughly translates to “We Are All Security” in Arabic – was launched by the Saudi Interior Ministry in 2017, but the last few years have seen a “dramatic” surge in court cases referencing the app, according to legal-rights activists.

The app “encourages everyday citizens to play the role of police and become active participants in their own repression. Putting the state’s eyes everywhere also creates a pervasive sense of uncertainty – there is always a potential informant in the room or following your social media accounts,” said Noura Aljizawi, a researcher at Citizen Lab, which focuses on threats to free speech online.

The Orwellian nature of the app is such that users often report on people “defensively,” fearing they could face punishment themselves for merely overhearing speech deemed offensive to the regime. In some cases, the app has also been used for “blackmail” and to “settle scores,” Insider noted.

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War With Iran

The United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia are plotting a war with Iran. The 2015 Iranian nuclear arms accord, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which Donald Trump sabotaged, does not look like it will be revived.  U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) is reviewing options to attack if Teheran looks poised to obtain a nuclear weapon and Israel, which opposes U.S.-Iran nuclear negotiations, carries out military strikes.

During his visit to Israel, Biden assured Prime Minister Yair Lapid that the U.S. is “prepared to use all elements of its national power,” including military force, to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon. 

Saudi Arabia, Israel and the U.S. function as a troika in the Middle East. The Israeli government has built a close alliance with Saudi Arabia, which produced 15 of the 19 hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks and has been a prolific sponsor of international terrorism, supporting Salafi jihadism, the basis of al-Qaeda, and such groups as the Afghanistan Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Al-Nusra Front.  

The three countries worked in tandem to back the 2013 military coup in Egypt, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who overthrew its first democratically elected government. He has imprisoned tens of thousands of government critics, including journalists and human rights defenders, on politically motivated charges. The Sisi regime collaborates with Israel by keeping its common border with Gaza closed to Palestinians, trapping them in the Gaza strip, one of the most densely populated and impoverished places on earth. 

Israel, the only nuclear power in the Middle East, has conducted an ongoing campaign of covert attacks on Iranian nuclear sites and nuclear scientists. Four Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated, presumably by Israel, between 2010 and 2012. In July 2020, a fire, attributed to an Israeli bomb, damaged Iran’s Natanz nuclear site. In November 2020, Israel used remote control machine guns to assassinate Iran’s top nuclear scientist. 

In January 2020, the United States assassinated Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, along with nine other people including a key figure in the anti-ISIS coalition, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. It used an MQ-9 Reaper drone to fire missiles into his convoy, near Baghdad’s airport. 

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MBS Sullies Saudi Arabia’s Good Name With Plans To Meet US President

The White House has officially confirmed reports that President Biden will indeed be visiting Saudi Arabia in contradiction of his campaign vows to make the nation a “pariah” for its human rights violations, and everyone’s acting like visiting a murderous tyrant is somehow beneath the dignity of a US president.

“The President will then travel to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which is the current chair of the GCC and the venue for this gathering of nine leaders from across the region, at the invitation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud,” the White House statement reads. “The President appreciates King Salman’s leadership and his invitation.  He looks forward to this important visit to Saudi Arabia, which has been a strategic partner of the United States for nearly eight decades.”

The president will meet with the nation’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, to discuss what the White House calls “means for expanding regional economic and security cooperation, including new and promising infrastructure and climate initiatives, as well as deterring threats from Iran, advancing human rights, and ensuring global energy and food security.”

But what they will primarily be discussing is oil, as the US flounders in its economic war against Russia.

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Biden’s New Press Secretary Almost Calls Saudis A ‘Regime’

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre came very close to committing the cardinal sin of referring to a US-aligned nation as a “regime” on Monday.

In the official White House transcript of Jean-Pierre’s interaction with a reporter inquiring about Biden’s upcoming meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the press secretary’s comment reads as follows:

“Of course, he will be — they will discuss energy with the Saudi government.”

However, if you watch a video clip highlighted on Twitter by Kawsachun News’ Camila Escalante, you’ll notice Jean-Pierre gets tripped up before the word “government”, with a more accurate transcribing reading something like, “Of course, he will be — they will discuss energy with the Saudi re— uhh, err, government.”

Which is hilarious, because for imperial spinmeisters the word “regime” is traditionally reserved for governments which are not aligned with the US empire, because it suggests that they are undemocratic and authoritarian. The theocratic monarchy of Saudi Arabia is most certainly authoritarian and is the exact opposite of democratic, but because it is aligned with the interests of Washington that pejorative label is typically avoided at the upper echelons of imperial narrative management.

Whether or not a government will be affixed with this label has far less to do with its level of oppressiveness than with whether or not it cooperates with imperial agendas. In a 2018 article titled “A ‘Regime’ Is a Government at Odds With the US Empire,” Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting’s Gregory Shupak explained:

The function of “regime” is to construct the ideological scaffolding for the United States and its partners to attack whatever country has a government described in this manner. According to the mainstream media, the democratically elected government of Nicaragua is a “regime” (Washington Post7/11/18). Cuba also has a “regime” (Washington Post7/25/18). Iraq and Libya used to have “regimes”—before the United States implemented “regime change.” North Korea most definitely has one (New York Times7/26/18), as do China (Washington Post8/3/18) and Russia (Wall Street Journal7/15/18).

 

When, for the media, does a government become a “regime”? The answer, broadly speaking: A country’s political leaders are likely to be called a “regime” when they do not follow US dictates, and are less likely to be categorized as such if they cooperate with the empire.

Washington’s economic and military partner Saudi Arabia is described as having a “regime” far less often than is Syria, despite its rather “regime”-like qualities: Its unelected government represses dissidents, including advocates for women and its Shia minority, and carries out executions at an extraordinary clipincluding of people accused of adultery, apostasy and witchcraft. Saudi Arabia crushed an uprising in neighboring Bahrain in 2011, and with its US and UK partners, is carrying out an almost apocalyptic war in Yemen.

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Joe Biden’s Submissive — and Highly Revealing — Embrace of Saudi Despots

In 2018, President Trump issued a statement reaffirming the U.S.’s long-standing relationship with the Saudi royal family on the ground that this partnership serves America’s “national interests.” Trump specifically cited the fact that “Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world” and has purchased hundreds of billions of dollars worth of weapons from U.S. arms manufacturers. Trump’s statement was issued in the wake of widespread demands in Washington that Trump reduce or even sever ties with the Saudi regime due to the likely role played by its Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

What made these Trump-era demands somewhat odd was that the Khashoggi murder was not exactly the first time the Saudi regime violated human rights and committed atrocities of virtually every type. For decades, the arbitrary imprisonment and murder of Saudi dissidents, journalists, and activists have been commonplace, to say nothing of the U.S./UK-supported devastation of Yemen which began during the Obama years. All of that took place as American presidents in the post-World War II order made the deep and close partnership between Washington and the tyrants of Riyadh a staple of U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Yet, as was typical for the Trump years, political and media commentators treated Trump’s decision to maintain relations with the Saudis as if it were some unprecedented aberration of evil which he alone pioneered — some radical departure of long-standing, bipartisan American values — rather than what it was: namely, the continuation of standard bipartisan U.S. policy for decades. In an indignant editorial following Trump’s statement, The New York Times exclaimed that Trump was making the world “more [dangerous] by emboldening despots in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere,” specifically blaming “Mr. Trump’s view that all relationships are transactional, and that moral or human rights considerations must be sacrificed to a primitive understanding of American national interests.”

The life-long Eurocrat, former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, lamented what he described as Trump’s worldview: “if you buy US weapons and if you are against Iran – then you can kill and repress as much as you want.” CNN published an analysis by the network’s White House reporter Stephen Collinson— under the headline: “Trump’s Saudi support highlights brutality of ‘America First’ doctrine” — which thundered: “Refusing to break with Saudi strongman Mohammed bin Salman over the killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Trump effectively told global despots that if they side with him, Washington will turn a blind eye to actions that infringe traditional US values.” Trump’s willingness to do business with the Saudis, argued Collinson, “represented another blow to the international rule of law and global accountability, concepts Trump has shown little desire to enforce in nearly two years in office.”

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Biden’s Visit To Saudi Arabia Exposes The Ukraine Narrative For The Sham It Is

In a major walkback from his campaign pledge to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” for human rights abuses like the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, President Biden will reportedly visit Riyadh with the goal of persuading Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to help the US alliance win its economic war against Russia.

The Guardian tells us the trip “suggests Biden has prioritized his need to bring oil prices down and thereby punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, over his stand on human rights.”

So in order to punish Vladimir Putin for his war crimes and his assault on freedom and democracy, Biden will be courting a tyrannical war criminal whose country has no freedom or democracy.

Washington will be ending its brief diplomatic dry spell with a government that has been waging a horrific war against Yemen while suppressing any semblance of human rights at home in order to more effectively punish Putin for waging a horrific war against Ukraine which we’re told threatens freedom and democracy throughout the western world.

I am not the first to note the risible irony of this development.

“The Biden Administration is openly planning to pay homage to one [of] its closest allies — one of the most despotic and murderous tyrants on the planet, the Saudi Crown Prince — at the same time it convinces Americans its motive for fighting wars is to defend freedom and democracy,” tweeted Glenn Greenwald.

“The EU literally just banned oil from Russia (mimicking the United States’ actions) because they don’t want to give money to a ‘dictator’. So Biden is travelling soon to Saudi Arabia to try and bring energy prices down– which is a vibrant democracy, as you all know,” tweeted Richard Medhurst.

“As part of mobilizing support for the great war for ‘freedom’ in Ukraine, Biden will be visiting the great beacon of ‘democracy,’ Saudi Arabia this month. What’s a little murder and dismemberment between friends?” tweeted Joseph Kishore.

Indeed, one wonders if perhaps Putin could settle this whole conflict by staging a few mass beheadings and dismembering a Washington Post reporter with a bone saw to get on America’s good side.

A lot of people talk about the “hypocrisy” of the US empire, as though being hypocritical is the issue. But the complete lack of moral consistency in US imperial behavior is noteworthy not merely because of hypocrisy: it’s noteworthy because it shows the US empire has no morality.

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