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Princes, ministers and a billionaire are ‘imprisoned’ in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton while the Saudi Arabian Army is said to be in an uproar

By Pepe Escobar
November 6, 2017
Asia Times.com

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman: A pre-emptive coup? Photo: AFP

The House of Saud’s King Salman devises an high-powered “anti-corruption” commission and appoints his son, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, a.k.a. MBS, as chairman.

Right on cue, the commission detains 11 House of Saud princes, four current ministers and dozens of former princes/cabinet secretaries – all charged with corruption. Hefty bank accounts are frozen, private jets are grounded. The high-profile accused lot is “jailed” at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton.

War breaks out within the House of Saud, as Asia Times had anticipated back in July. Rumors have been swirling for months about a coup against MBS in the making. Instead, what just happened is yet another MBS pre-emptive coup.

A top Middle East business/investment source who has been doing deals for decades with the opaque House of Saud offers much-needed perspective: “This is more serious than it appears. The arrest of the two sons of previous King Abdullah, Princes Miteb and Turki, was a fatal mistake. This now endangers the King himself. It was only the regard for the King that protected MBS. There are many left in the army against MBS and they are enraged at the arrest of their commanders.”

To say the Saudi Arabian Army is in uproar is an understatement. “He’d have to arrest the whole army before he could feel secure.”

Prince Miteb until recently was a serious contender to the Saudi throne. But the highest profile among the detainees belongs to billionaire Prince al-Waleed Bin Talal, owner of Kingdom Holdings, major shareholder in Twitter, CitiBank, Four Seasons, Lyft and, until recently, Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp.

Al-Waleed’s arrest ties up with a key angle; total information control. There’s no freedom of information in Saudi Arabia. MBS already controls all the internal media (as well as the appointment of governorships). But then there’s Saudi media at large. MBS aims to “hold the keys to all the large media empires and relocate them to Saudi Arabia.”

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James George JATRAS
03.11.2017
Strategic Culture Foundation

Here it is, right from the horse’s mouth! Qatar’s former prime minister spills his guts about how his country worked with Saudi Arabia and Turkey under the direction of the United States – meaning then the Obama Administration – to funnel arms and money to jihad terrorists in Syria:

‘The explosive interview constitutes a high level “public admission to collusion and coordination between four countries to destabilize an independent state, [including] possible support for Nusra/al-Qaeda.” … Former Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, who oversaw Syria operations on behalf of Qatar until 2013,… said while acknowledging Gulf nations were arming jihadists in Syria with the approval and support of US and Turkey: “I don’t want to go into details but we have full documents about us taking charge [in Syria].” He claimed that both Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah (who reigned until his death in 2015) and the United States placed Qatar in a lead role concerning covert operations to execute the proxy war.

‘The former prime minister’s comments, while very revealing, were intended as a defense and excuse of Qatar’s support for terrorism, and as a critique of the US and Saudi Arabia for essentially leaving Qatar “holding the bag” in terms of the war against Assad. Al-Thani explained that Qatar continued its financing of armed insurgents in Syria while other countries eventually wound down large-scale support, which is why he lashed out at the US and the Saudis, who initially “were with us in the same trench.”’ [“In Shocking, Viral Interview, Qatar Confesses Secrets Behind Syrian War,” Zero Hedge, October 29]

Busted! Consider the vulnerability of the former U.S. officials who were in charge at that time, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Just now, the latter had had her worst week since losing the election with the revelations about the Steele dossier, the Uranium One caper, and the Podesta Group’s implication in “RussiaGate.” The only thing now is to sit back and watch the fireworks show! From Tom Luongo (citing Zero Hedge):

‘Folks, I’ve been telling you for days now that the containment wall around Hillary Clinton has been breaking down. Now Qatar, which really has nothing to lose at this point outing the Obama Administration’s complicity in this, especially since the Saudis turned on them and tried to make them the scapegoat for the failed insurgency in Syria.

‘But, to directly finger the U.S. CIA and State Departments, then under the control of Hillary Clinton, is absolutely the most damaging thing they could possibly do at this point in time.’

Here it comes! You almost have to feel sorry for poor Hillary! The Trump team and their media supporters – starting with Fox News, which had been dancing on Hillary’s political grave all last week – will be all over this story in no time!

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Erik Edstrom
October 22, 2017
The Unz Review

In George W. Bush’s home state of Texas, if you are an ordinary citizen found guilty of capital murder, the mandatory sentence is either life in prison or the death penalty. If, however, you are a former president of the United States responsible for initiating two illegal wars of aggression, which killed 7,000 U.S. servicemen and at least 210,000 civilians, displaced more than 10 million people from their homes, condoned torture, initiated a global drone assassination campaign, and imprisoned people for years without substantive evidence or trial in Guantanamo Bay, the punishment evidently is to be given the Thayer Award at West Point.

On October 19th, George W. Bush traveled to the United States Military Academy, my alma mater, to receive the Sylvanus Thayer Award at a ceremony hosted by that school’s current superintendent and presented on behalf of the West Point Association of Graduates. The honor is “given to a citizen… whose outstanding character, accomplishments, and stature in the civilian community draw wholesome comparison to the qualities for which West Point strives.”

The Thayer may be one of the most important awards that hardly anyone has ever heard of. In a sense, it’s a litmus test when it comes to West Point’s moral orientation and institutional values. Academy graduates around the world — in dusty GP medium tents as well as Pentagon offices — all sit at the proverbial table where momentous, sometimes perverse decisions are regularly made. To invade or not to invade, to bomb or not to bomb, to torture, or not to torture — those are the questions. As the Trump era has reminded us, the U.S. military’s ability to obliterate all organized human life on Earth is beyond question. So it stands to reason that the types of beliefs pounded into cadets at West Point — the ones that will serve to guide them throughout their military careers — do matter. To the classes of cadets now there, this award will offer a message: that George W. Bush and the things he did in his presidency are worth emulating. I could not disagree more.

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By Daniel Lattier
Intellectual Takeout
November 3, 2017

Most people are familiar with the plot of The Matrix. The 1999 film portrays a dystopian future where the “reality” that people inhabit is actually a simulation created by machines intent on subjugating the human race.

The film has continued to resonate with many people because of a growing sense that our modern world is a largely simulated reality conditioned by technology and mass media.

As it turns out, many decades ago author George Orwell sounded the warning bell of modern man’s Matrix-like condition when he said, “History stopped in 1936”.

The source of this intriguing observation is not Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, but his 1943 essay “Looking back on the Spanish War.” It was written as a reflection on Orwell’s participation in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), in which he fought for the Republican side against the Franco-led fascists. According to Orwell, it was during the Spanish War that he became aware of the pervasive use of propaganda used to support the modern totalitarian regimes.

“I remember saying once to Arthur Koestler, ‘History stopped in 1936’, at which he nodded in immediate understanding. We were both thinking of totalitarianism in general, but more particularly of the Spanish civil war. Early in life I have noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed. I saw troops who had fought bravely denounced as cowards and traitors, and others who had never seen a shot fired hailed as the heroes of imaginary victories; and I saw newspapers in London retailing these lies and eager intellectuals building emotional superstructures over events that had never happened. I saw, in fact, history being written not in terms of what happened but of what ought to have happened according to various ‘party lines’.”

Orwell’s above observations were inspired by the World War II era when totalitarian regimes such as Nazi Germany and Communist Russia constituted a threat to freedom in the world. But since then, a number of thinkers have remarked that America and other Western countries are devolving into a “soft totalitarianism,” in which a pleasure-loving and increasingly lonely populace surrenders their freedoms to radical ideologies, which maintain their hold through education and a steady stream of propaganda.

As a result of the modern world’s reliance on propaganda, Orwell recognized that our access to the truth of past events—such as the Spanish Civil War or World War II—would be severely compromised:

“This kind of thing is frightening to me, because it often gives me the feeling that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. After all, the chances are that those lies, or at any rate similar lies, will pass into history… Yet, after all, some kind of history will be written, and after those who actually remember the war are dead, it will be universally accepted. So for all practical purposes the lie will have become the truth.”

Orwell was not naive about history. He noted it was “the fashion” to suggest that history was essentially a long list of lies and recognized the likelihood that many writers of history “deliberately lied … or unconsciously coloured what they wrote.” “But what is peculiar to our own age,” Orwell wrote, “is the abandonment of the idea that history could be truthfully written”; that there is a “body… of neutral fact on which neither [historian] would seriously challenge the other.”

If true, Orwell’s reflections lead to some frightening conclusions, namely, that the propaganda of the past is now our “history”, that the propaganda we see in the news today will one day be studied by future generations as “truth”, and that reality stretches ever further beyond our grasp in an age of relativism and mass media.

This article was originally published on IntellectualTakeout.org.

By Chuck Baldwin
Chuck Baldwin
October 28, 2017

When will the American people catch on to the fact that we do not have two political parties in Washington, D.C.? As I have said repeatedly—and as experience continues to verify—there is just ONE party in Washington: the War Party.

No matter which party controls the White House or Congress, the War Party runs things. Warmongering neocons in the GOP and warmongering neolibs in the Democrat Party control Washington, D.C. Oh, they might fuss and feud with each other over domestic and social issues (abortion, homosexuality, welfare, immigration, tort reform, etc.), but they are joined at the hip on the one issue that matters most to them: the Warfare State. Yes, these domestic issues are very important—except to the War Party. Members of the War Party can be pro-life or “pro-choice”; pro-gun control or pro-Second Amendment; pro-homosexual “marriage” or pro-traditional marriage; pro-illegal immigration or pro-legal immigration; pro-welfare expansion or anti-welfare expansion; pro-laws protecting defendants or pro-laws empowering prosecutors; but everyone in the War Party is united in their support of perpetual war.

With very few exceptions, conducting war on the world is sacrosanct to both Republicans and Democrats. Nothing, and I mean nothing, unites and inspires the neocons and neolibs like perpetual war. And nothing puts more money in the coffers of neocons and neolibs like perpetual war.

Last week in this column I reminded people:

War is a Racket: The A… Smedley Darlington Butler Best Price: $3.57 Buy New $3.41 (as of 06:00 EDT – Details) Presidents Bush, Obama, and now Trump have dropped nearly 200,000 bombs and missiles on Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Trump’s rate of bombing eclipses both Bush and Obama; and Trump is on a pace to drop over 100,000 bombs and missiles on Middle Eastern countries during his first term of office—which would equal the number of bombs and missiles dropped by Obama during his entire eight-year presidency.

Now, stop and think, folks. The U.S. has dropped 200,000 bombs (the number is probably greater than that by now) on seven Middle Eastern countries—each country comparable in size to the states of Alaska, Texas, California, and Washington State. Try and imagine seven states in the U.S. having 200,000 bombs dropped on them. Think of the death and destruction that we Americans are supporting with our tax dollars. How many innocent people are killed with each bomb and missile? Conservative estimates calculate that hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been killed (and how many more wounded and maimed?) in America’s phony “war on terror.”

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The death of four soldiers has opened eyes to that mission. It’s also raised a question: How can our presence there be justified by a law passed in 2001?


Betsy Woodruff
Oct. 22, 2017
The Daily Beast

The death of four U.S. Special Operations Forces troops in Niger has generated a raucous conversation about how presidents should comfort bereft Gold Star families.

But, quietly, it’s fueling a more difficult debate than whether a phone call or a letter suffices in the aftermath of tragedy; mainly, why were U.S. troops in the country in the first place, and does Congress need to exert more authority when it comes such deployments?

Many lawmakers assiduously duck these questions. But on the Sunday shows, several were forced to address them in the aftermath of four soldiers dying under still-mysterious circumstances near the small town of Tongo Tongo. In the process, two powerful Senators tacitly admitted that they hadn’t even known the extent of U.S. involvement in Niger in the first place.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of the chamber’s most hawkish members, told host Chuck Todd on Meet the Press that he didn’t know until recently that a thousand U.S. troops are stationed in Niger.

Graham is on the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, tasked with overseeing the Pentagon. And he made the admission when Todd pressed him on whether Congress needs to vote on an Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) for that mission.

“The military determines who the threats are, they come up with the engagement policy and if we don’t like what the military does, we can defund the operation,” Graham said. “But I didn’t know there was a thousand troops in Niger.”

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By Jack Kerwick
October 25, 2017
Lew Rockwell.com

The former President of the United States, George W. Bush, made quite a splash recently when he took swipes at President Donald J. Trump.

Some thoughts:

First, the consternation of Deplorables aside, for purposes of clarity, it is actually a very good thing that Bush delivered his speech. To as great an extent as anyone, the former President signifies the neoconservatism against which traditional conservative and Republican voters rebelled when they catapulted Trump to victory.

In other words, the symbolism involved in juxtaposing Bush with Trump couldn’t be richer inasmuch it symbolizes nothing more or less than the dramatic contrast between two ideal types: the GOP of yesteryear, a party run (and run into the ground) by neoconservatives, and the “populist,” more traditionally conservative GOP of the present and future.

To be clear, the contrast in question here is largely symbolic: Substantively speaking, Trump’s GOP has as yet shown few signs of having repented of its past ways (or of even having a pulse). The neocons, on the other hand, are still very much alive. Still, there can be no question that they have been humiliated and that Trump is looking to steer the party in a new direction.

Second, that Bush, who insisted upon being neither seen nor heard during the entirety of Barack Obama’s eight year tenure in the White House, should only now break his silence by criticizing Trump is a painful reminder of who he has always been.

It isn’t just that Bush and Obama, like Democrats and Republicans generally, belong to one and the same Regime, a Government-Academic-Media-Entertainment (GAME) Complex that its agents want to protect from Trump and his army of Deplorables. Obama, you see, had been widely hailed by the journalistic and political classes as “the first black POTUS.” To criticize Obama, then, would have made Bush vulnerable to the charge of “racism,” a charge that the Bushes of our political universe fear more than anything.

After all, in spite of owning a presidency replete with truly epic disasters, the only regret that Bush ever expressed was that Kanye West, rapper and husband to Kim Kardashian, charged the 43rd President with being indifferent toward black people.

As for those thousands of American soldiers and nearly 500,000 or so Iraqis whose deaths Bush made possible by way of a war that he launched on false pretenses, they evidently do not register as high in importance with Bush as does Kanye West’s estimation of him.

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Pat Buchanan
October 24, 2017
The Unz Review

“The Kurds have no friends but the mountains,” is an old lament. Last week, it must have been very much on Kurdish minds.

As their U.S. allies watched, the Kurdish peshmerga fighters were run out of Kirkuk and all the territory they had captured fighting ISIS alongside the Americans. The Iraqi army that ran them out was trained and armed by the United States.

The U.S. had warned the Kurds against holding the referendum on independence on Sept. 25, which carried with 92 percent. Iran and Turkey had warned against an independent Kurdistan that could be a magnet for Kurdish minorities in their own countries.

But the Iraqi Kurds went ahead. Now they have lost Kirkuk and its oil, and their dream of independence is all but dead.

More troubling for America is the new reality revealed by the rout of the peshmerga. Iraq, which George W. Bush and the neocons were going to fashion into a pro-Western democracy and American ally, appears to be as close to Iran as it is to the United States.

After 4,500 U.S. dead, scores of thousands wounded and a trillion dollars sunk, our 15-year war in Iraq could end with a Shiite-dominated Baghdad aligned with Tehran.

With that grim prospect in mind, Secretary Rex Tillerson said Sunday, “Iranian militias that are in Iraq, now that the fight against … ISIS is coming to a close … need to go home. Any foreign fighters in Iraq need to go home.”

Tillerson meant Iran’s Quds Force in Iraq should go home, and the Shiite militia in Iraq should be conscripted into the army.

But what if the Baghdad regime of Haider al-Abadi does not agree? What if the Quds Force does not go home to Iran and the Shiite militias that helped retake Kirkuk refuse to enlist in the Iraqi army?

Who then enforces Tillerson’s demands?

Consider what is happening in Syria.

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U.S-Iran policy is closer to Israel than it has been in years.

By Gareth Porter
October 20, 2017
The American Conservative

President Donald Trump’s new Iran policy clearly represents a dangerous rejection of diplomacy in favor of confrontation. But it’s more than that: It’s a major shift toward a much closer alignment of U.S. policy with that of the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Whether explicitly or not, Trump’s vow to work with Congress to renegotiate the Iran nuclear agreement, and his explicit threat to withdraw from the deal if no renegotiation takes place, appear to be satisfying the hardline demands Netanyahu has made of Washington’s policy toward Tehran.

Specifically, Netanyahu has continued to demand that Trump either withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or make far-reaching changes that he knows are impossible to achieve. In his September 17 speech to the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu declared, “Israel’s policy toward the nuclear deal with Iran is very simple: Change it or cancel it.” And he made no secret of what that meant: If Trump doesn’t “cancel” the deal, he must get rid of its “sunset clause” and demand that Iran end its advanced centrifuges and long-range missile program, among other fundamentally unattainable objectives.

Trump’s statement last Friday managed to include both of the either/or choices that Netanyahu had given him. He warned that, if Congress and America’s European allies do not agree on a plan to revise the deal, “then the agreement will be terminated.” He added that the agreement “is under continuous review,” and our participation “can be canceled by me, as president at any time.”

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by Justin Raimondo
October 19, 2017
Antiwar.com

Some people are living symbols, sheer embodiments of a concept that fits their persona as snugly as their skin: e.g. the Dalai Lama personifies Contemplative Piety, Harvey Weinstein is the incarnation of Brazen Vulgarity, and John McCain’s very person exudes the sweaty blustery spirit of Empire. His entire history – born in the Panama Canal zone, son of an admiral, third-generation centurion, the War Party’s senatorial spokesman – made it nearly impossible for him to be other than what he is: the country’s most outspoken warmonger and dedicated internationalist.

As George Orwell remarked, “After forty, everyone has the face they deserve,” and in McCain’s case this is doubly true. That Roman head, fit for a coin of high denomination, looks as if it might sprout a crown of laurel leaves at any moment: Grizzled brow, wrinkled with the tension of an inborn belligerence, eyes alight with a perpetual flame of self-righteous anger, McCain is Teddy Roosevelt impersonating Cato the Elder. In the extreme predictability of his warlike effusions, he’s become a bit of a cartoon character. Who can forget his enthusiastic rendition of “Bomb bomb bomb Iran!” to the tune of “Barbara Ann”?

The Senator from Arizona represents something relatively new on the American scene: the emerging class of colonial administrators, Pentagon contractors, and high-ranking military personnel, and their families, many of them stationed overseas. These people have a material interest in the expansion of our role as global cop, they number in the tens of thousands, and they are strategically placed in the social order, with enough social power to constitute an influential lobby.

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