SAUDI ARABIA | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

SAUDI ARABIA

Feb 26 08:06

Yemenis stage nationwide protests against Saudi blockade

Tens of thousands of people have staged rallies across Yemen in protest at the all-out Saudi blockade and closure of Sana’a International Airport, which have made it impossible for food and medical supplies to reach the poor in the war-torn country.

Protesters took to the streets in the Damt district of the southern Yemeni province of Dhale on Friday morning in a rally entitled “The Siege of the Coalition of Aggression is Killing Yemeni People.”

They chanted slogans against the United States and the Israeli regime for supporting the Saudi blockade of war-wracked Yemen.

Elsewhere in the southeastern province of Dhamar, Yemeni demonstrators marched on the United Nations office, urging the world body to intervene and lift the brutal siege.

People in Sha’ara area of the mountainous northwestern province of Sa’ada also censured the suffering of the Yemeni people as a result of the tight Saudi-led aerial and naval blockade.

Feb 26 07:51

Tensions Between US and Saudi Arabia on the Rise

oe Biden’s ideological commitment to Western liberal values promised to recover old US alliances, which were threatened by Trump’s nationalism – as in the European case. However, the rigid defense of these same values can apparently also hinder important points of American foreign policy, destroying other historic alliances, mainly in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia, a historical representative of Western interests in the Middle East, remains uncertain about the future of its relations with the US, considering the rise of Biden. So far, Saudi officials have received no contact from the new American president. Not only that: Washington has already stated that it will not make a call to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and that any matter needing dialogue will be dealt directly with King Salman.

Feb 26 07:32

President Biden Speaks With Saudi Arabia’s King Salman

President Biden spoke with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Thursday ahead of the release of a US intelligence report on the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi that is expected to pin the killing on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS.

US officials have told media outlets that the report is a declassified version of an intelligence assessment that says MBS ordered Khashoggi’s murder that took place in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia denies that MBS directed the hit.

The Biden administration has said it will reevaluate the US-Saudi relationship. So far, the only real policy change has been an announcement that the US is ending all support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive” operations in Yemen. But President Biden made it clear that military support will continue if it can be framed as defensive.

Feb 26 07:32

MBS: Why the world may be stuck with the ‘CEO of Saudi Inc’

As the United States prepares to release a declassified version of its intelligence report on the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi hit squad, the world’s focus is on the role the kingdom’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, allegedly played in the assassination.

MBS, as he is known, has become increasingly powerful amid his father’s continuing health battles and the political shakeups he has presided over within his own family. In 2020, Wall Street Journal reporters Bradley Hope and Justin Scheck published Blood and Oil: Mohammed Bin Salman’s Ruthless Quest for Global Power in an effort to pull back the curtain on a man who is likely to shape Saudi and regional politics for decades to come.

Feb 25 07:50

Ma’rib battle: Yemeni army close to retaking city from Saudi-led forces

Victory appears to be on the horizon in the heated battle for Yemen’s strategic central province of Ma’rib as army troops, backed by allied fighters from Popular Committees, have reportedly taken control of most areas there and dislodged Saudi-led coalition forces and Riyadh-backed militants from those regions.

A Yemeni military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Arabic service of Russia’s Sputnik news agency that Yemeni soldiers and their allies had encircled Ma’rib city, following weeks of fierce clashes with Saudi-led coalition forces and their mercenaries.

The source added that Yemeni forces had cut off the main supply route into the eastern flank of Ma’rib, which leads to the Arab country’s largest province of Hadhramaut.

Feb 25 07:31

Secret documents reveal Saudi Khashoggi killers used private jet Crown Prince had seized - as U.S. prepares to condemn royal for personally approving the murder

Top secret documents have revealed that the assassins who killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi used two private jets from a firm that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince had seized as a declassified version of a US intelligence report on Thursday will find that Mohammed bin Salman approved the 2018 killing.

The documents, which were filed as part of a lawsuit in Canada and obtained by CNN, describes how ownership of Sky Prime Aviation was transferred into the country's $400billion sovereign wealth fund, known as the Public Investment Fund, in 2017.

Just a year later, in October 2018, the company's Gulfstreams were used to carry out Khashoggi's murder.

Feb 24 09:56

Saudi Arabia Sued By Families Of Pensacola Terror Attack Victims

Saudi Arabia is once again facing a major lawsuit in the US filed by the families of victims killed in a terror attack perpetrated by a Saudi citizen.

The attack in question occurred at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla. on Dec. 6, 2019. On that morning, a 21-year-old member of the Saudi military opened fire on Americans staying at the Naval base, carrying out a shooting rampage that led to the deaths of 3 Americans with 13 others wounded. The perpetrator, Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, is believed to have posted his justification to social media before the attack. He was a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force staying in the US as part of a program whereby the US military offers training to military pilots from certain geopolitical 'partners'.

Feb 21 07:34

US Reaffirms Commitment to ‘Defend’ Saudi Arabia

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday and reaffirmed the US military’s commitment to the “defense” of Saudi Arabia.

The conversation comes after President Biden announced he was ending US support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive” operations in Yemen, leaving room to support Riyadh militarily if it can be framed as defensive.

Austin condemned attacks inside Saudi Arabia that are launched by Yemen’s Houthis. “The Secretary condemned the recent Houthi cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia and expressed his commitment to assisting Saudi Arabia in the defense of its borders,” The Pentagon said in a statement on the call.

Feb 21 07:33

Loujain al-Hathloul: The rest of Saudi Arabia must follow her lead

Famous and courageous Saudi activist Loujain al-Hathloul is neither free nor compensated after 1,001 days behind bars, during which she was allegedly subjected to torture by the infamous Saud al-Qahtani, who together with others was a key suspect in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

While Hathloul is finally out of prison, she faces three years of probation and a five-year travel ban, effectively keeping her in limbo. She cannot express opinions or resume her activism. In the words of her sisters, Alia and Lina, during an online media conference on Thursday, Saudi state institutions have disintegrated over the last three years, which made them seek international solidarity after giving up on securing the release of their innocent sister.

Feb 21 07:29

US seeks ‘fallback’ Saudi bases in case of Iranian escalation

US Army Central Command chief says military looking to operate from other bases during ‘a period of heightened risk’; no plan to shut down existing ones

The US military is looking for fallback bases in Saudi Arabia to prevent its troops deployed there from becoming obvious targets in the event of tensions with Iran, a senior US military official said Thursday.

“We are not looking for new bases. I want to be clear on that,” said General Kenneth McKenzie, head of the US Army Central Command (CENTCOM), during a tour of the Middle East.

“What we would like to do, without shutting down these [current] bases …. is to have the ability to go to other bases to operate in a period of heightened risk,” he explained.

Feb 19 11:42

Biden is excellent news for Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia: Oil prices soar as US stops own production

The Biden presidency is already turning into very good news for Iran, Russia, Norway and Saudi Arabia, as oil prices soar and create massive wealth for these nations.

Biden’s choice to end shale, review oil permits, halting the Keystone XL Oil Pipeline and thereby end US oil independence, is a dream come true to many. Russia and Saudi must be overjoyed.

The order to stop new oil and natural gas leases on public lands, reviewing existing permits, aims at strengthening Green energy, writes historian and author, Hanne Nabintu Herland. Link to WND article here.

Which is great! We all wish there was more green sustainable energy in the world. The problem is, we are not there yet. The question then becomes: Who will profit from the upcoming energy shortage?

Feb 18 09:26

it’s snowing now in Saudi Arabia...

Feb 17 07:22

Joe Biden will refuse to speak to de facto Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman and speak only to his father King Salman as part of 'recalibrating' relationship with kingdom, White House says

President Joe Biden will recalibrate American relations with Saudi Arabia and will communicate through Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz rather than Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the White House said Tuesday.

'We've made clear from the beginning that we're going to recalibrate our relationship with Saudi Arabia,' White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at her briefing on Tuesday.

She said part of that recalibration would include Biden speaking to the Saudi king, instead of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - a marked change in policy from the Trump administration.

Feb 14 07:32

Report exposes Saudi crown prince’s debauchery in Maldives resort

A report reveals that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has spent a whopping $ 1.18 billion on lavish celebrations, cruise ships and female supermodels since taking power in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

The revelation by the Africa Report website sheds light on the Saudi crown prince's penchant for extravagance and an array of prestige purchases he made between 2015 and 2017.

Bin Salman opted to go on vacation in July 2015 but intended to spend the leisure time far from the "prying eyes" of the public and instead of choosing the Saudi royal family’s typical holiday haunts in France and Spain, he chose the highly exclusive, sumptuous Velaa Resort in the Maldives.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

It's good to be the prince!

Feb 11 09:50

Rights Groups Outraged After Twitter Purges Accounts Of Saudi Political Prisoners

Feb 11 09:28

Loujain al-Hathloul was released, but other Saudi women activists remain behind bars

After more than 1,000 days in detention, Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul was released on probation on Wednesday, according to her sister.

Hathloul was arrested in May 2018 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and sent to Saudi Arabia, where she faced trial on a loosely worded terror law often used to prosecute activists.

A prominent women’s rights defender who campaigned for women freedom to drive, Hathloul quickly became an international icon symbolising the crackdown on freedoms in Saudi Arabia, with human rights organisations launching campaigns calling for her release.

News of Hathloul’s release on probation has been widely celebrated online, However, many women who campaigned for women’s rights in the kingdom still languish behind bars.

Feb 11 09:27

Saudi Arabia 'suspended ministry website following criticism of hateful speech'

Saudi Arabia has shut down its defence ministry’s website and removed online hate content following reports by a Washington-based think tank citing xenophobic and antisemitic quotes by pro-government clerics and platforms.

In a February briefing seen by Middle East Eye, the Institute for Gulf Affairs (IGA) said its investigations into inciteful sermons and textbooks have prompted the Saudi government to take steps to delete the content from the internet.

The IGA think tank has argued in its previous reports that terror attacks committed by Saudi nationals are rooted in “institutionalised incitement and indoctrination” by the ministries of education, justice and defence, posing an extremist threat to Western and US interests.

Feb 11 06:50

Loujain al-Hathloul: Saudi activist released from prison

Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul has returned home after spending 1,001 days in prison.

Nouf Abdulaziz, a blogger, was also released from prison, according to the Women's Human Rights Defenders in MENA group.

The releases were celebrated online, with Loujain's sister Lina al-Hathloul, taking to Twitter to share the news:

Feb 09 07:24

US Warns Yemen’s Houthis Against Attacks Inside Saudi Arabia

The US State Department released a statement on Sunday warning Yemen’s Houthis against attacks inside Saudi Arabia and further offensives against the Saudi-backed government inside Yemen.

“As the President is taking steps to end the war in Yemen and Saudi Arabia has endorsed a negotiated settlement, the United States is deeply troubled by continued Houthi attacks,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

The statement comes a few days after President Biden announced he is cutting off support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive” operations in Yemen. “We call on the Houthis to immediately cease attacks impacting civilian areas inside Saudi Arabia and to halt any new military offensives inside Yemen, which only bring more suffering to the Yemeni people,” Price said.

Feb 09 07:24

UK Refuses to Follow US in Suspending Saudi Arms Sales Over Yemen War

The UK is not following the US in suspending arms sales to Saudi Arabia for offensive use in the war in Yemen, where the US and UK-backed Saudi-led coalition regularly bombs civilian targets.

“The decisions the US takes on matters of arms sales are decisions for the US,” said James Cleverly, a British minister for the Middle East and North Africa. “The UK takes its own arms export responsibilities very seriously, and we continue to assess all arms export licenses in accordance with strict licensing criteria.”

The UK resumed arms sales to Saudi Arabia that could be used in Yemen in July 2020, after over a year pause due to a court ruling that found Saudi arms sales unlawful. The court said UK ministers had not properly assessed the risk of civilian casualties.

Feb 05 07:52

Biden Says He Will End ‘Offensive Support’ For Saudi War in Yemen

President Biden delivered a foreign policy speech on Thursday and vowed to end US support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive” operations in Yemen.

“We are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales,” Biden said. Last week, the administration paused planned arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, although US officials framed the pause as a standard procedure for a new administration.

While Biden vowed to end “offensive” support, he promised to keep supporting the Saudis militarily in other ways. “At the same time, Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks, UAV strikes, and other threats from Iranian-supplied forces in multiple countries. We’re going to continue to support and help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty.”

Feb 05 07:51

Biden Says He’s Ending the Yemen War—But It's Too Soon to Celebrate

The February 4 announcement by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan that President Biden would end U.S. support for ?“offensive operations” in Yemen was understandably met with celebration by those opposed to the war. Almost six years of the U.S.-Saudi?U.A.E. onslaught on Yemen have left the country devastated by humanitarian disaster and famine. Anti-war activists have spent these years?—?first during the Obama-Biden administration, then the Trump-Pence administration, and now the Biden-Harris administration?—?agitating to end U.S. participation in the onslaught. It has been an organizing effort that often seemed like shouting into the wind, as the bombings of hospitals, factories and weddings piled up. The countless people who have been toiling in obscurity to end this war, and the people in Yemen who have joined in this effort even while surrounded by hardship and death, certainly deserve praise and gratitude.

Feb 03 07:03

Saudi forces attack protest against economic woes, make arrests: Reports

Reports coming out of Saudi Arabia say Riyadh’s forces have attacked a group of protesters who were out on the streets of the city of Buraidah in Qassim Region to denounce the regime’s economic policies.

Clashes erupted on Monday night as Saudi troops attempted to disperse the demonstrators, who were angry at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's economic policies that they say have worsened unemployment and poverty across the kingdom.

“The city of Buraidah in the al-Qassim region witnessed demonstrations where hundreds of young people gathered, and [the demonstrations] led to clashes with Saudi security forces,” media personality Hosein Mortada tweeted on Monday night.

Feb 03 06:52

Saudis, allies dropped over 3,000 cluster bombs on Yemen since 2015: Official

The director-general of the Yemen Executive Mine Action Center (YEMAC) has said the Saudi-led coalition has dropped 3,179 cluster bombs on Yemen since the beginning of its aggression against the defenseless Yemeni people in 2015.

Ali Sofra said the civilian casualties of the bombardments, mostly women and children, have exceeded 1,000, and most of them were in agricultural and grazing areas, Iraq’s al-Maloumeh news website reported on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia, accompanied by its allies including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has been leading a war against Yemen since March 2015 with the aim of bringing the former pro-Riyadh government back to power.

Feb 02 09:18

Blinken says partnership with Riyadh must be 'consistent' with US values

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken decried the "abhorrent" murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and suggested Washington was reassessing its relationship with Riyadh to ensure it aligned with America's interests and "values".

In an interview with NBC, taped on Sunday and partly aired on Monday afternoon, Blinken acknowledged that Riyadh is an "important" US ally, but suggested that a review of bilateral US-Saudi ties is already underway.

"The murder of Mr Khashoggi was an outrageous act against a journalist, against someone [who was] a resident of the United States. It was abhorrent, and I think it shocked the conscience of the world," the newly confirmed US chief diplomat said.

Khashoggi, a veteran Saudi journalist who resided in Virginia, was killed and dismembered by Saudi government agents at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

Feb 02 07:43

Loujain al-Hathloul Is Not a Terrorist

On Monday, December 28, 2020, our sister, Loujain al-Hathloul, was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison. Loujain’s sentence came after spending nearly three years in pre-trial detention, during which she was brutally tortured, placed in solitary confinement, went on two hunger strikes, and was denied contact with our parents (her legal representatives) numerous times.

Many people have asked us how Loujain is after all this time, and how we feel about her sentencing. In order for us to fully answer this question we want to tell you about our sister and why her activism defines who she is.

Loujain is one of the middle sisters in our family of six siblings. From an early age, people knew what Loujain was thinking because she would always tell you. She would ask questions all the time—this should have been a sign of what was to come for her as a leader and advocate for women’s rights.

Jan 29 09:08

Saudi Arabia hires over dozen lobbying firms in US to launder its reputation

Saudi authorities have reportedly hired more than a dozen lobbying firms to help boost relations with the United States and improve the Riyadh regime’s image as new US President Joe Biden assumes office.

According to foreign agent registration filings with the US Justice Department, Riyadh has used at least 16 firms “to largely restore its influence machine in the capital [Washington] and in other parts of the country, and help boost US-Saudi trade relations.”

The lobbying effort will be even more crucial during the term of new US President Joe Biden, whose administration decided on Wednesday to freeze arms sales to Riyadh pending a review, said a Foreign Policy report.

Saudi authorities are already in hot water over issues including Riyadh’s devastating war on Yemen, its treatment of women and the murder of exiled dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

Jan 26 08:15

US Expanding Military Presence in Saudi Arabia With Eye on Iran

The US military is expanding its operations in Saudi Arabia and looking to establish bases in the western part of the country. The initiative began about a year ago and was just revealed to reporters by Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command.

According to McKenzie, the US has been using various air bases and seaports in western Saudi Arabia and is working to build its own bases in the region. As part of the plan, the US and Saudi Arabia are negotiating infrastructure projects that would make two ports on the Red Sea and two airbases in the west more suitable for the use of the US military.

The idea is that US bases in Qatar, the UAE, and Bahrain are in the range of Iran’s ballistic missiles, and bases further west would be beneficial in a conflict with Tehran, something McKenzie explained to reporters.

Jan 26 08:14

Wall Street executives to return to 'Davos in the desert' as outrage over Khashoggi fades

Some of the biggest names on Wall Street are expected to appear at Saudi Arabia's Future Investment Initiative (FII) this week, more than two years after many boycotted the conference over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

This year, the economic conference lists executives and leaders from the Carlyle Group, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley, among 140 international speakers who will attend either in person or virtually, according to the New York Times.

Tom Barrack, executive chairman of Colony Capital and an ally of former US President Donald Trump, is also going to be in attendance, the Times reported. Barrack was forced to apologise in 2019 after suggesting it was a "mistake" to criticise Riyadh over Khashoggi's killing.

Jan 26 07:04

Reports Claim Explosion Heard in Riyadh as Saudi Arabia Allegedly Intercepts Ballistic Missile

The Saudi authorities have not yet confirmed reports about either intercepting a missile in the skies above the capital or about an explosion purportedly heard by its residents.

Reports of an explosion being heard in the Saudi capital have started circulating on social media. Al Arabiya Editor-in-Chief Mohammed Khalid Alyahya reported that country's air defences have intercepted a missile over Riyadh.

The journalist cited an account of a witness living in the capital's Diplomatic Quarter, who said his house "shook" as a result of a blast.

Jan 25 09:06

Mysterious Group Claims Responsibility For Recent Attack On Saudi Capital

An armed group calling itself the Righteous Promise Brigades [Alwiyat Al Wa’ad Al Haq] has claimed responsibility for the recent attack on the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

In a statement released late on January 23, the group said it had attacked Riyadh with a number of kamikaze drones.

According to the group, the attack targeted several positions in the Saudi capital including the Al Yamamah Palace, the official residence and office of the King of Saudi Arabia and the seat of the royal court.

Jan 25 06:44

Director says film about Khashoggi shunned by all major global distributors

Award-winning director Bryan Fogel told Hill.TV that his documentary about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was shunned by all major global distributors.

“The Dissident” focuses on the 2018 killing of Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and critic of the royal family who wrote for The Washington Post.

Fogel said he believes the film was too critical for bigger companies that have financial ties to Saudi Arabia.

“[This challenge] speaks to the environment of fear among these big companies,” he told Hill.TV. “There was such a hostile environment coming from the Trump administration for any company that might not align with those administration’s policies.”

Jan 22 08:26

Saudi Envoy Says Relations With US Under Biden Will Be ‘Excellent’

While President Biden is expected to reevaluate the US-Saudi relationship, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said Riyadh is optimistic about the new administration.

“We are optimistic of having excellent ties with the US under a Biden administration,” Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said in an interview with Al-Arabiya on Thursday.

Biden has said he will end US support for the Saudis war in Yemen, something Antony Blinken, the secretary of state nominee, reiterated during Tuesday’s Senate confirmation hearings. But Prince Faisal seems to think Biden will continue support for the brutal war.

“The Biden administration will see that we have common goals with regards to the situation in Yemen,” he said, adding that the Trump administration’s decision to designate Yemen’s Houthis as a terror organization was justified.

Jan 22 08:26

Saudis Reject Claims of Summer Civilian Casualties in Yemen Attacks

Early in the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen, it was decided, mostly by the Saudis, that reports of civilian casualties could be internally investigated, again mostly by the Saudis. That’s what they’ve done since.

Typical of the program, officials reported on their inquiry into incidents this summer in which Saudi warplanes killed a number of Yemeni children in Jawf Province, and also attacked a water truck.

Declaring all the matters “refuted,” the reports seemed to rest on the strategy of just reiterating official reports of what happened, declaring now that this is what happened so alternate reports with casualties must be wrong.

Jan 22 08:18

Israel and Saudi Arabia set to push Biden away from the Iran nuclear deal

The U.S. Department of Defense announced on January 15 that it was changing its command structure to move Israel from the European Command, or EUCOM, to Central Command, or CENTCOM, which covers the Middle East, Central Asia, and parts of South Asia. The reticence of many Arab and Central Asian countries to work with Israel necessitated the awkward assignment of Israel outside its geographic location, but the rapprochement between Israel and several Arab and Muslim states changed that calculus.

The change is significant, as is the timing, coming just days before the end of the Trump administration. President Biden is not going to reverse this change, but it will present him some significant complications.

Jan 22 08:08

How the U.S. Covered Up the Murder of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi

In October 2018, the world learned of the brutal murder and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi had been a government insider in his home country of Saudi Arabia, but his relationship with the ruling family—and particularly Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—soured as Khashoggi became an influential advocate for free speech and human rights within the kingdom. In September 2017, fearing retaliation, he fled to the United States.

In 2018, Khashoggi walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, to obtain marriage papers and was ambushed by a team of operatives allegedly deployed by Prince Mohammed. As Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, waited outside for him to return, the Saudi team went to work.

"The global response, the U.S. response, the U.N. response, is basically 'bad boy, we're gonna let you get away with this one,'" says Bryan Fogel, the Oscar-winning filmmaker behind the 2017 Netflix documentary Icarus.

Jan 22 07:40

An alleged Saudi troll campaign is targeting a movie about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi

Bryan Fogel made the investigative documentary "The Dissident" to bring to light alleged free-speech suppression efforts by the Saudi government.

Now his film could be a target of the very forces he seeks to expose.

"The Dissident" saw as many as 500 low audience scores out of 2,300 flood the popular film-rating site Rotten Tomatoes on Jan. 12, filmmakers said, an act they believe came from trolls operating on behalf of the Saudi government who wish to create a false sense of dissatisfaction. The movie's approval rating soon plummeted from above 95% to 68%.

A similar dynamic has also appeared to unfold on the movie site IMDb, which has seen 1,175 one-star reviews flood the site since Saturday. In the previous month, the movie rarely collected more than a few dozen such scores in a given day; many more users gave it the highest rating.

Jan 19 08:23

Saudis vowed to stop executing minors; some death sentences remain, rights groups say

Five people who committed crimes in Saudi Arabia as minors have yet to have their death sentences revoked, according to two rights groups, nine months after the kingdom’s Human Rights Commission (HRC) announced an end to capital punishment for juvenile offenders.

The state-backed HRC in April cited a March royal decree by King Salman stipulating that individuals sentenced to death for crimes committed while minors will no longer face execution and would instead serve prison terms of up to 10 years in juvenile detention centers.

The statement did not specify a timeline, but in October, in response to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), it said the decree had come into force immediately upon announcement.

Jan 13 07:05

A new movie about Jamal Khashoggi reveals a protégé who is alive and under assault

Omar Abdulaziz remembers the phone call he received a few months ago. It was from an officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and it came with a message of stern warning for the Saudi dissident.

“They said, don’t ever post on social media where you’ll be,” he recalled. “We may not be able to protect you.”

Jan 05 11:13

“An Israeli Blitzkrieg” Signs Point to Imminent Israeli Military Action in Yemen

Saudi Arabia has rung in the new year in a familiar way, with an airstrike targeting a large gathering of civilians at a wedding ceremony in Yemen. On new year’s night, at least five civilians were killed when Saudi-backed militants launched artillery rounds at a wedding ceremony in the populated al-Hawk area in the strategic port city of Hodeida.

Developments taking place across the Middle East are driving the reality home in Yemen that 2021 is unlikely to bring about an end to Saudi Arabia’s nearly six-year-long war on their country. Signs of escalation are beginning to surface gradually in the Yemeni interior and along the Red Sea in the wake of the wave of normalization between the Gulf states and Tel Aviv.

Dec 29 07:36

Experts Blast Trump Plan To Sell Millions in Bombs to Criminal Saudi Regime

Experts on the adverse effects of the military-industrial complex on Wednesday blasted a plan by the Trump administration to sell nearly half a billion dollars worth of advanced U.S. bombs to Saudi Arabia, which for over five years has been leading an airstrike campaign and starvation blockade that have added tens of thousands of civilian deaths to the already staggering toll in Yemen’s ongoing civil war.

Bloomberg reports the US State Department has notified Congress of its intention to license the sale of some 7,500 Raytheon Paveway precision-guided, air-to-ground munitions valued at $478 million to the kingdom, despite its status as one of the world’s worst human rights violators and prolific perpetrator of U.S.-backed war crimes in Yemen.

If the license is approved, Raytheon will have a green light to sell the arms directly to the Saudi regime.

Dec 29 07:26

Factbox-Who is Saudi human rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul?

Prominent Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, 31, was convicted by a Saudi court on Monday on charges which include seeking to change the Saudi political system and harming national security. Here are some details about al-Hathloul, who has been detained since 2018.

* Hathloul rose to prominence in 2013 when she began publicly campaigning for women’s right to drive in Saudi Arabia.

She was arrested for the first time in 2014 while attempting to drive across the border from the United Arab Emirates - where she had a valid driver’s licence - to Saudi Arabia. She spent 73 days in a women’s detention facility, an experience she later said helped shape her campaigning against the kingdom’s male guardianship system.

Dec 29 07:26

Loujain al-Hathloul: Saudi court hands prison sentence to women's rights activist

A Saudi terrorism court on Monday sentenced prominent women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul to five years and eight months in prison, in a case that has drawn international criticism from rights groups and governments.

The Specialised Criminal Court suspended two years and 10 months of her sentence "if she does not commit any crime" within the next three years, local media reported.

The Riyadh court convicted the 31-year-old under acts that fall under a Saudi law on combating and financing terrorism.

Dec 23 07:19

Saudi Arabia shuts down international air, see & land travel over new fast-spreading Covid-19 strain

Riyadh has sealed its borders for all passenger travel for at least a week, suspending international flights as well as entry to sea and land ports over a mutant Covid-19 variant that was first discovered in the UK.

With a growing number of European countries locking out travel from the UK, Saudi Arabia has pulled all the stops in its effort to curb the spread of the new strain of the coronavirus, imposing a sweeping ban on all commercial travel, Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday, citing an ”official source” with the country’s Interior Ministry.

Dec 22 07:34

Trump administration weighing legal immunity for Saudi crown prince in alleged assassination plot

The U.S. government is weighing a request to declare Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman immune from a federal lawsuit accusing him of targeting for assassination a former top intelligence officer who could disclose damaging secrets about the prince’s ascent to power, according to legal documents related to the case.

The Saudi government has asked to shield the prince from liability in response to a complaint brought by Saad Aljabri, a former Saudi counterterrorism leader and longtime U.S. intelligence ally now living in exile in Canada.

Dec 22 07:18

Khashoggi's Fiancée Demands Biden Release CIA Report On Brutal Saudi Murder As First Act

Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of Washington Post columnist and Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi, is urging US President-elect Joe Biden to fulfill his campaign promise for accountability by releasing the CIA's classified intelligence assessment on the journalist's 2018 assassination inside Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul.

"I am calling on the president-elect to release the CIA's assessment and evidence. It will greatly assist in uncovering the truth about who is responsible for Jamal's murder," Cengiz told The Guardian in a report published Friday. She had waited outside while Khashoggi went into the consulate for paperwork for their planned marriage.

Dec 18 08:07

Saudi prosecutor seeks maximum jail sentence for women's rights activist

The state prosecutor’s office in Saudi Arabia is seeking the maximum possible jail sentence for the women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, raising the possibility that the campaigner could face 20 years behind bars after a verdict in her case is announced next week.

In a hearing on Wednesday at Saudi Arabia’s notorious terrorism court, the judge said he would deliver a verdict and possible sentencing in the case on Monday, said Hathloul’s sister Lina, who also shared a copy of the prosecution’s indictment with the Guardian.

Later on Wednesday night, however, Loujain’s parents, who act as her legal team, received a text message summoning them to Riyadh’s criminal court on Thursday morning. It is not yet clear what this development means for Hathloul’s case, which was transferred from the criminal court to the terrorism court last month.

Dec 17 13:13

Saudi Arabia: Starving workers go on strike after no wages for ten months

Workers from Saudi Arabia's largest marine construction company have gone on strike after not receiving their salaries for the last ten months, forcing some to go hungry and beg for food.

The Huta Marine group employs at least 6,000 people who work in Saudi Arabia from around the world, according to the company's website.

Footage posted online showed dozens of mostly foreign workers from South Asia and East Africa protesting outside Huta's head office in the coastal city of Jeddah.

Dec 16 06:36

Saudi Arabia hires new crop of lobbyists with Joe Biden poised to roll back Trump-era relationship

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is on a hiring spree for lobbyists as President-elect Joe Biden, who has signaled that he will take a tougher stance with the nation, prepares to take office.

With the potential for a more turbulent relationship with the U.S., Saudi Arabia has been hiring some lobbyists with ties to Republican congressional leaders.

These lobbyists will potentially have more success engaging with GOP lawmakers in the new Congress instead of Democrats or Biden’s administration. Republicans made gains in the House of Representatives during the 2020 election and could have a slight edge in the Senate if they win one of the seats up for grabs in two Georgia runoffs set for early next month.

Biden told the Council on Foreign Relations last year during the Democratic primary that he would scale back U.S. support for Saudi Arabia on key issues.

Dec 15 11:08

International law vs eternal recurrence: The US and Israel

Lawrence Davidson: "If Biden wants to promote a safer, more humane world under the rule of law, he should turn his attention to the assassin and not the assassinated; to the saboteur and not those sabotaged; to Israel, and… his own nation’s Middle East foreign policy…">>

Dec 15 10:51

CURSE OF SAUDIS: TANKER EXPLOSIONS AND OTHER UNFORTUNATE EVENTS

A series of unfortunate events linked to the Saudi invasion in Yemen continues to pursue the Kingdom.

On December 14, an explosion hit the Singapore-flagged BW Rhine, a chemical tanker hauling gasoline, off the Saudi port city of Jeddah, which is also known as the distribution center for oil giant SaudiAramco. The BW Group said that the explosion erupted after the Singapore-flagged BW Rhine was hit by “an external source”, but all 22 sailors on board received no injures. Later, Saudi media claimed that the explosion was caused by an attack with a water-born improvised explosive device. At the time of the attack, the ship was carrying more than 60,000 metric tons of gasoline from the Aramco refinery at Yanbu.

Dec 15 06:44

One sheriff in town: Saudi Arabia launches 'mini Ritz' crackdown, sparks terror

Saudi Arabia has launched a new purported anti-corruption crackdown resembling the 2017 campaign, sparking further terror in the kingdom.

Reports say the new crackdown, which has targeted top-ranking military officials as well as low-key municipal, health and environment officials, aims to tighten Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS)’s grip on power.

The drive emphasizes that "there is only one sheriff in town", French news agency AFP quoted an observer in Saudi Arabia as saying.

The crackdown is widely dubbed as a "mini Ritz" operation, a reference to the November 2017 clampdown that saw princes and tycoons rounded up and detained at the luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh over similar corruption charges.

The detentions had been ordered by Saudi Arabia’s so-called Anti-Corruption Committee headed by bin Salman in a crackdown widely believed to be aimed at consolidating his power.

Dec 15 06:43

The Tiger Squad; a Saudi hit team

Before the horrific murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul very few people had ever heard of the Firqat el-Nemir, which translates into English as The Tiger Squad.

The squad is said to comprise 50 operatives, the best recruits from different branches of the kingdom's security services who have one thing in common: blind loyalty to their leader, the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman.

The Tiger Squad has one major mission: Eliminating Saudi dissidents, at home and abroad, in such a way that it would go unnoticed by the media and the international community.

However, the Khashoggi case was a disaster for the group.

Dec 14 06:51

How Saudi citizens accused of serious crimes in U.S. are escaping justice

As President-elect Biden begins to engage the world, one of his most challenging relationships will be with Saudi Arabia. The oil kingdom and ally against Iran has a dismal record on human rights even in the United States. Case in point, 15-year-old Fallon Smart of Portland, Oregon. She was killed in a hit and run by a Saudi student who vanished before trial. He's among many Saudis accused of serious crimes in the U.S. who mysteriously disappear. Their victims include Fawn Lengvenis, the mother of Fallon Smart. She told us about the day in 2016 that she drove to pick up her daughter at a shop. Fallon only had to cross two-lane Hawthorne Street to reach her mother and two siblings in their car. Fawn Lengvenis waved to her daughter, lost sight of her, and realized something was wrong.

Dec 09 08:34

Saudi court sentences American citizen to six years in prison despite appeals from the U.S.

A court in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday sentenced Walid Fitaihi, a doctor who holds dual American and Saudi nationality, to six years in prison on charges that included illegally obtaining U.S. citizenship, a person close to his family said.

The sentencing came despite the Trump administration's repeated appeals to the Saudi government to release Fitaihi, who founded a prominent hospital in the kingdom.

He was arrested in November 2017 as Saudi authorities detained hundreds of business executives, government officials and royal family members. ­Fitaihi was held for nearly two years without trial and tortured while in custody, he told family members.

Dec 08 08:11

Saudi Arabia: US Must Consult Gulf States Before Returning to Iran Nuclear Deal

When the Obama Administration reached the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran, among the biggest opponents was Saudi Arabia. With President-elect Joe Biden expected to rejoin the process, the Saudis are stepping forward again.

Saudi FM Prince Faisal bin Farhan is warning that any move to rejoin the Iran deal could only be sustainable if Biden consults with the Gulf Arab states first. He added he is “ready to engage” when Biden takes office.

The incoming administration hasn’t commented, but there are reasons to doubt this happening. The talks would be high risk for little reward, as the Saudis are almost certain to remain opposed to the deal, and the US oughtn’t give the impression they need a Saudi imprimatur to make the move.

Dec 08 07:41

Britain Sent Saudi Arabia Thousands of Spare Parts for Warplanes Amid Arms Embargo

Saudi planes bombing Yemen received 2,323 spare parts from the UK military last year, according to the government’s annual report into strategic export controls, which was published four months later than usual due to the coronavirus.

The long-awaited report shows that supplies to Saudi Arabia’s air force and navy continued despite a court order in June 2019 banning new export licences for use in Yemen.

Tornado spare parts were exempt from the arms embargo because they were covered by licences issued prior to the court ruling. The equipment was diverted from the Royal Air Force (RAF), which stopped flying its own Tornado fleet in March 2019.

Saudi Arabia continues to use Tornados on combat operations in Yemen, having purchased the planes from BAE Systems in the 1980s and 1990s under the notoriously corrupt Al-Yamamah series of arms deals.

Dec 06 07:55

"All Terrorists Are Educated In Schools Sponsored By Saudi Arabia": Iran Airs Laundry List

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said this week that every terrorist group in our region received its teachings in religious schools funded by Saudi Arabia. Specifically he charged "Every terrorist group in our region has graduated from Saudi-funded Madrassas".

Khatibzadeh tweeted on Thursday "No amount of Saudi confusion can hide this ugly reality." He added in another statement about Saudi Arabia, "Their atrocities in Yemen, and the infamous killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are just some of their other stunts, and the latest of this is their standing with the state sponsor of terror against the Palestinians."

"The Saudis must change course," he continued. "The policy of inflaming tensions can no longer be defended."

Dec 06 07:40

Saudis Demand To Be Consulted Before Biden Reenters Iran Nucleal Deal

After President-Elect Joe Biden told The New York Times this past week that should Iran return to compliance to the 2015 nuclear deal (particularly caps placed on enrichment) he'll return the US to participation in the Obama-era agreement, the Saudis have registered their alarm.

Saudi Arabia's top diplomat said Saturday that Washington must consult the kingdom and Gulf state allies before moving forward with reentry to the JCPOA. The Sunni kingdom sees Shia Iran as its number one threat and enemy in the region.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told AFP, "Primarily what we expect is that we are fully consulted, that we and our other regional friends are fully consulted in what goes on vis a vis the negotiations with Iran."

Dec 05 08:23

Normalisation with Israel requires Palestinian state: Saudi FM

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has said Saudi Arabia would only normalise ties with Israel within a plan that would deliver a sovereign state to Palestinians, quashing speculation that the kingdom may soon become the latest Arab country to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel.

“What we need to make [normalisation of ties with Israel] happen is a peace deal that delivers a Palestinian state with dignity and with a workable sovereignty that Palestinians can accept,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said on Friday.

Dec 05 08:23

Mohammed bin Nayef threatened by social media campaign, say Saudi prince's lawyers

Mohammed bin Nayef, the detained former Saudi crown prince, has been put at risk by a malicious social media campaign accusing him of plotting a coup, lawyers acting for him have warned.

The prince's lawyers on Friday told the Guardian they had written to YouTube to ask the site to take down a video in which it was claimed that Mohammed bin Nayef had been involved in a plot to overthrow his powerful replacement, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The video claims that bin Nayef - who has been detained since March 2020 - is in fact at large, and implies he is conspiring with US President-elect Joe Biden to undermine Saudi Arabia's government.

Dec 05 07:47

Yemen: Trump Is Showering Saudi Arabia with Last-Minute Gifts

While the administration of Donald Trump readies its exit from the White House and the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s use of American diplomatic cover and weapons alike has taken on a fevered pace as the Kingdom deepens the tragedy it has afflicted upon Yemen, where millions of forgotten people are struggling against a cold winter, starvation, epidemics, and the worst blockade in the modern era.

Since November 3, 2020, when the fifty-ninth quadrennial presidential election began followed by the widespread controversy, lawsuits, and recounts across several states, the oil-riched Kingdom has waged a scorched-earth campaign against the Yemeni districts of Marib and Al-Jawf, as well as border areas in Sana’a, Sadaa, Hajjah, Amran, and Hodeida.

Dec 04 08:31

People of Saudi Arabia and Iran dumping Qurans in the City Sewers

Dec 04 07:58

Iran: Saudi policy of inflaming tension no longer tenable

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman says Saudi Arabia has to revisit its decades-old policy of fueling tensions throughout the region.

Tweeting on Thursday, Saeed Khatibzadeh reminded that “for decades, Wahabism—nurtured by colonial powers—has been the source of bigotry, hatred & terrorism in our region — and beyond.”

1/ For decades, Wahabism—nurtured by colonial powers—has been *the* source of bigotry, hatred & terrorism in our region — and beyond.

Fact: Every terrorist group in our region has graduated from Saudi-funded Madrassas.

No amount of Saudi obfuscation can hide this ugly reality.

— Saeed Khatibzadeh (@SKhatibzadeh) December 3, 2020

Dec 02 07:31

Saudi employs ‘deception’ to evade responsibility for Yemen catastrophe

Yemen’s Foreign Minister Hisham Sharaf Abdullah says Saudi Arabia has been desperately attempting to evade responsibility for an unfolding catastrophe against the backdrop of its campaign of death and destruction against Yemen.

Abdullah said in a statement on Monday that authorities in Riyadh must be held accountable for causing the worst humanitarian crisis in recent history.

The minister also accused the Saudi regime of playing a game of deception and hindering any effort sponsored by the United Nations on achieving a humanitarian ceasefire.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Yemeni minister called on the international community to pressure the Saudi-led coalition into ending its onslaught and blockade on the Yemeni people.

Dec 01 07:54

Saudi prince delays normalization pact with Israel due to Biden win — report

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly pulled back from a normalization deal with Israel due to US President-elect Joe Biden’s election win this month and the prince’s desire to build ties with the incoming administration.

Bin Salman, son of the 84-year-old King Salman and the kingdom’s de facto ruler, is reluctant “to take the step now, when he could use a deal later to help cement relations with the new American leader,” the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Friday.

Nov 28 08:06

Saudi-Led Coalition Bombs Multiple Targets in Yemen

The US-backed Saudi-led coalition bombed several targets inside Yemen on Friday. According to AFP, airstrikes targeted Houthi camps in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, the city of Amran, which is just north of Sanaa, and the western port city of Hodeidah.

According to Iran’s Press TV, one civilian was killed in the strikes, and another four were wounded in Sanaa. Yemen’s Ministry of Health said most of the airstrikes targeted residential areas, a common tactic for the Saudi-led coalition.

The airstrikes came after the Houthis launched a missile that hit a Saudi oil facility in Jeddah. Most media outlets framed the Saudi strikes as retaliation, but the Houthis and Yemen have been under a US-backed Saudi-led siege since 2015.

Nov 25 07:30

Saudi cabinet says Houthi attacks target backbone of global economy, security of its supplies: SPA

Saudi Arabian’s cabinet said on Tuesday that Houthi attacks committed against vital installations target the backbone of the global economy and the security of its supplies, state news agency (SPA) reported.

On Monday, a fire broke out in a fuel tank at a petroleum products distribution station in the Saudi city of Jeddah as a result of a Houthi attack, SPA had reported.

The cabinet also stressed the importance of facing up to “such sabotage and terrorist acts and the parties behind them.”

Nov 25 07:05

Saudi Aramco acknowledges major damage from Yemeni attack

Saudi Arabia's state oil company Saudi Aramco says a Yemeni missile attack that targeted its distribution facility in the city of Jeddah on Monday caused major damage.

Abdullah al-Ghamdi, the manager of the North Jeddah Bulk Plant, told reporters during a tour of the facility on Tuesday that one of the 13 tanks used for diesel oil, gasoline, and jet fuel at the facility had been damaged and was out of service.

"This tank, as you see, is hit from the top side... there is major damage to the roof itself, it's a big hole that is almost two meters by two meters," he said.

Ghamdi added that the attack triggered an explosion and fire, "but it was controlled." He said the Monday attack had caused no casualties.

Nov 25 06:20

Saudi Arabia Receives Dangerous Gifts From Houthi-Iranian Alliance

The Yemeni Houthis have fired their new cruise missile, the Quds-2, at a Saudi Aramco oil company distribution station in the kingdom’s city of Jeddah, the group’s media news wing announced early on November 23. A spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Houthi-led government, Yahya Sarea, said foreign companies and residents in Saudi Arabia should stay away from the military and oil infrastructure of Saudi Arabia as “operations will continue”. He emphasized that the missile precisely hit its target causing notable damage.

Nov 20 07:05

Security officials worry Israel and Saudi Arabia may see the end of Trump as their last chance to go to war with Iran

European intelligence officials are alarmed about the possibility of military action towards Iran in the waning days of the Trump administration.? Concern that Trump — who has pushed for maximum pressure on Iran — or a combination of Israel or Saudi Arabia creating a military confrontation in the waning days of the administration has been a concern for over a week, according to three European intelligence officials who spoke with Insider.

The news that last week the president requested a list of military options from his military and diplomatic advisors has sent these concerns into overdrive.?

Nov 18 08:14

Saudis Offer Yemen Ceasefire If Houthis Accept Buffer Zone

Saudi Arabia is continuing to try to sort out some progress on peace in Yemen, and is now offering to endorse a UN-backed ceasefire if the Houthis agree to a buffer zone at the Yemen-Saudi border.

Yemen and the Saudis have fought along the border for years, and it’s not surprising that the Saudis would want to at least preclude more such fighting as part of the peace process. They may need to hurry, however.

That’s because the Trump Administration is reportedly planning to declare the Houthis “terrorists” for nominally having ties with Iran, and once they do so, it will virtually forbid further peace talks going forward.

Nov 18 08:10

Saudi activists tell UK MPs of brutal conditions facing political detainees

Saudi human rights activists told British MPs on Tuesday that political prisoners in Saudi Arabia face dire conditons in detention, including rape, torture and murder.

Speaking at a fact-finding panel investigating the detention conditions of two senior Saudi princes - former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz - the activists detailed a litany of abuses carried out against detainees, with little oversight or transparency.

One panelist said they had received reports of detainees being "sodomised to death" in prisons.

Alia al-Hathloul, sister of imprisoned women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, said she and her family have had no updates on her sister's health condition since she began a hunger strike on 28 October.

Nov 16 06:41

Fire erupts at Saudi Arabia’s Jizan petroleum products platform after Yemeni boat attack

A fire has broken out near a floating platform of an oil distribution station in Saudi Arabia’s southern region of Jizan, after Saudi forces purportedly destroyed two explosive-laden boats believed to have been launched by Yemeni fighters.

The Saudi Ministry of Energy, in a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA), said on Friday it dealt with the blaze.

Other than the damage caused by the fire to the floating hoses in the platform, no injuries were reported, the statement added.

The purported bomb-laden boat attack came as the Saudi-led coalition involved in a devastating military campaign against Yemen claimed on Thursday that it had thwarted a Yemeni drone strike.

Oct 24 07:11

Saudi Arabia Is Suffering The Consequences Of Its Failed Oil Price War

Nine months on from Saudi Arabia’s second major oil price war in the last five years, more negative consequences are manifesting themselves. Aside from the irrevocably damaged core relationship with the U.S., the permanent distrust of international investors, and the further alienation of many of its fellow OPEC members, Saudi Arabia is now beginning to discover the true depth and breadth of damage that it has done to its own economy, which will endure for many years to come.

Oct 23 06:15

Saudi dissidents target crown prince where it hurts: Washington

Pushed together by repression, disparate groups from Saudi Arabia’s long-fractured civil society are uniting in opposition to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. And forced to act in exile, the dissidents are set to prove that the road to change in Riyadh runs through Washington.

An advocacy group founded by slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi filed a suit this week against the crown prince in U.S. federal court, even as Saudi activists – united in a new party – began mapping out their goal of a democratically elected government.

These were among the first in a flurry of moves designed to damage Saudi Arabia’s ties with the West and provide a platform for the voices of the kingdom’s increasingly frustrated citizens.

Oct 22 05:55

45 lawmakers urge US to boycott Saudi-hosted G20

Forty-five American lawmakers have urged the US government to boycott next month's G20 summit in Riyadh unless Saudi authorities address key human rights concerns, according to correspondence released Wednesday.

The letter from US Congress members to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo comes after European lawmakers passed a resolution this month calling for the European Union to downgrade its attendance at the summit, also over human rights.

The developments are a source of embarrassment for the kingdom, the current G20 president, as it gears up to host world leaders next month at what is widely seen as a crucial event for Saudi international diplomacy.

Oct 21 05:59

Saudi youths face death despite ban on capital punishment against minors

Saudi detainees accused of committing crimes while children are still at risk of execution, despite reforms announced earlier this year scrapping capital punishment for minors, human rights advocates have warned.

In April, King Salman issued a royal decree ending death sentences for crimes committed as a minor, instead making the maximum sentence 10 years in a juvenile detention facility.

However, there was no indication of when the decree would take effect, and rights groups have this week warned several youths still face the death penalty.

Oct 12 07:02

Saudi Arabia Should Be Punished by, Not Elected to, the UN Human Rights Council

Whatever the theoretical value of the United Nations system, its agencies are a source of frequent farce. Among the worst performers is the Human Rights Council. Nominally devoted to promoting people’s basic rights, the body often protects the world’s worst human rights abusers instead. Indeed, authoritarian governments routinely sit on the 47-member body.

Over the years 117 countries have served on the Council. Among the more vicious oppressors: Bahrain, China, Burundi, Vietnam, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Eritrea, Cuba, Egypt, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia.

Oct 12 06:16

Saudi activist suffers stroke after being poisoned in prison: Report

A Saudi pro-democracy campaigner has reportedly suffered a life-threatening stroke after being deliberately poisoned by regime authorities at a maximum-security prison south of the capital Riyadh.

The Prisoners of Conscience, an independent non-governmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a post on its official Twitter page that Sheikh Muhammad bin Dalim al-Qahtani, a leader of the Umma Islamic Party, suffered the serious medical condition after he was poisoned on purpose at al-Ha'ir Prison.

The post added that Qahtani has been transferred to al-Iman Hospital in Riyadh, and is apparently in critical condition.

Oct 11 06:37

Al-Huwaitat tribe seeks UN help to stop Saudi forced displacement

Saudi Arabia’s al-Huwaitat tribe has sent an urgent communication to the United Nations calling for an investigation into allegations of forced displacement and abuse by Saudi authorities.

The request, submitted in late September, comes after months of alleged harassment, arrests, and abductions by Saudi forces apparently due to the tribe’s refusal to relocate to facilitate the government’s NEOM mega-city project.

Oct 10 06:45

Signs Saudis are edging towards historic Israel peace

Will they or won't they? It's a question on a lot of people's minds in the Middle East right now.

Are Saudi Arabia's rulers, historically critics of Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians, finally edging closer to normalising relations with the country often dismissively referred to in the past by Arab media as "the Zionist entity"?

Prompting feverish speculation on social media has been the scathing set of interviews given to Al-Arabiya TV by former Saudi intelligence chief and longtime ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan al-Saud, who lambasted Palestinian leaders for criticising recent peace moves with Israel by Gulf Arab states.

"This low level of discourse is not what we expect from officials who seek to gain global support for their cause," said Prince Bandar in the three-part interview.

Oct 09 05:15

Houthi court sentences Trump, King Salman and Saudi crown prince to death

A Houthi court in Yemen has sentenced 10 people to death, including US President Donald Trump, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and his son Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Arabi21 reported.

The Houthi-run Specialised Criminal Court in Saada ruled against the accused in absentia on Thursday, according to the Houthi-affiliated Saba agency.

The charges were made in the case of a 2019 airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition on a school bus in the town of Dhahyan which killed 51 civilians, including 40 children.

Oct 08 10:52

UNICEF raises eyebrows with praise for Saudi ‘humanitarian’ role in Yemen

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has in a controversial move praised what it called Saudi Arabia’s “humanitarian” role in Yemen, closing its eyes to years of atrocities committed by Riyadh and its allies against the civilian population there, leaving a large number of children dead, maimed and malnourished.

Executive Director of the world body Henrietta Fore, in a letter sent to the so-called King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), lauded Saudi Arabia over what she described as the kingdom's “generous support” for the projects of the United Nations Humanitarian Response Plan in Yemen 2020.

Fore went on to say that UNICEF will use the financial support to help Yemeni children and their families in different fields, including health, nutrition, water, sanitation and education.

Oct 06 06:58

Saudi Official: ‘The Boycott of Everything Turkish Is the Responsibility of Every Saudi’

Ajlan al-Ajlan, the head of Saudi Arabia’s Chamber of Commerce, declared in a statement this weekend that a full boycott of all Turkish products was “the responsibility of every Saudi.”

Tensions between Turkey and Saudi Arabia have remained high since the killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — under whose command Turkey has become the world’s most prolific jailer of journalists after China — used Khashoggi’s killing at the hands of Saudi agents to declare himself a friend of the free press and demonize Riyadh, suggesting that the homicide was a direct order from “the highest levels of the Saudi government,” as he wrote in the Washington Post.

Oct 05 06:35

Dozens Killed in Weekend Fighting in Central Yemen

Dozens were reported killed over the past three days in central Yemen, according to various reports. The main fighting was in Maarib Province, where the Houthis are contesting the oil-producing areas, and Saudi-backed forces tried to push into the vital aid port of Hodeidah.

Government officials said at least 30 Houthis were killed in Maarib, and did not provide figures on Hodeidah, beyond one civilian being killed in the crossfire. Hodeidah is meant to be in a state of ceasefire, but government forces appear keen to contest that again.

Neither of these battles is likely to be hugely impactful on the Yemen War. Maarib is the most oil-rich part of Yemen, but that’s not saying much for one of the region’s poorest nations. Hodeidah has been a target several times but it would take a lot more fighting than is ongoing to contest control over it.

Oct 04 07:01

Two Years After Khashoggi’s Murder, Why Is America Still an Accomplice to MBS’s Crimes?

Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered on October 2, 2018 by agents of Saudi Arabia’s despotic government, and the CIA concluded they killed him on direct orders from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). Eight Saudi men have been convicted of Khashoggi’s murder by a Saudi court in what the Washington Post characterized as sham trials with no transparency. The higher ups who ordered the murder, including MBS, continue to escape responsibility.

Khashoggi’s assassination and dismemberment was so horrific and cold-blooded that it sparked worldwide public outrage. President Trump, however, stood by MBS, bragging to journalist Bob Woodward that he saved the prince’s “ass” and got “Congress to leave him alone.”

Oct 03 07:55

Turkey Releases Grisly Crime Scene Footage Of Khashoggi Killing On 2nd Anniversary

Turkey's Anadolu Agency has released gruesome never-before-seen footage related to journalist Jamal Khashoggi's brutal murder. It is the second anniversary of his killing at the hands of a hit team believed sent by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

No less than 15 men were sent to kill one individual who ran afoul of MbS, which included a bone saw used to dismember his body after he entered the consulate to do paperwork related to his impending marriage, never to be seen again. Now for the first time police footage has been published of Turkish forensics investigators showing up to document what they found following the murder.

Oct 03 07:00

Hundreds of Sudanese troops enter Saudi Arabia en route to Yemen: Report

Hundreds of Sudanese forces have reportedly entered Saudi Arabia en route to Yemen contrary to an earlier announcement by the North African country about a drawdown of its personnel in the bloody Saudi war on the poorest Arabian Peninsula nation.

Citing private Saudi sources, the Middle East Eye news portal (MEE) reported on Friday that 1,018 Sudanese army officers and soldiers arrived in Saudi Arabia by boat on September 22 after passing through passport control in the southwestern city of Jizan.

Two Sudanese planes also carried Sudanese military personnel from Khartoum to Saudi Arabia's Najran airport the day before, according to one of the sources, who was speaking on condition of anonymity.

The first plane held 123 passengers and the second 128, the source said, adding that both planes later departed for Khartoum.

Sep 23 12:06

IRAN SAYS HOUTHIS USE ITS MILITARY KNOW-HOW IN BATTLE AGAINST SAUDI ARABIA

Iran has supplied Ansar Allah (also known as the Houthis) with technical expertise and know-how, a spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said on September 22. However, the general claimed that Yemeni forces “have learned how to produce missiles, drones and weapons in Yemen on their own” and Iran has no military presence in the region. Shekarchi described what Iran is doing across the region as “spiritual and advisory presence”.

“Countries of the resistance front have armies and forces themselves. We provide them with advisory help. In order to share our experience with the people of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, our skilled forces go there and assist them, but this is the people and armies of these countries who stand against the enemies in practice,” the general stated.

Sep 20 05:47

Yemen: 'Choices have been made to abandon these people', says UN official

The "distressing" situation in Yemen is a result of choices made by "powerful countries and powerful people", according to a UN official.

Sir Mark Lowcock told Sky News "choices have been made to abandon these people".

He added that deciding not to fund the relief operation has been "one of the worst choices" made this year.

The country has been devastated by a conflict between Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi's administration and the Houthi armed movement since 2014 - both claim to form the official government.

Mr Hadi's government is supported by powerful countries, headed by Saudi Arabia, but also backed by the US, Britain and the United Arab Emirates.

The crisis has worsened due to coronavirus, with the UN saying more than 20 million people require urgent humanitarian assistance because of the ongoing conflict - almost half of them children.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

I am waiting for Saudi Arabia to carpet bomb the place, which I believe they ultimately will do, to end the war on their, and the US's terms. I cannot tell you when; but it is a definite possibility, given the current state of the conflict.

Sep 20 05:18

Britain, France, and Germany Spurn US Plan for Iran Sanctions

Trump Administration officials have been saying this for weeks, but on Friday reiterated their intentions to try to enforce a UN Security Council resolution that includes broad sanctions against Iran. Officials say they expect every nation to comply.

The glaring problem with this is that the resolution doesn’t exist, at least not as an active resolution the US wants. The P5+1 nuclear deal gave the US the authority to reimpose sanctions on Iran, but the US had withdrawn from that pact years ago. Though the Trump Administration argued that didn’t matter, the UN has virtually unanimously rejected their interpretation, and rejected the UN Security Council resolution. The US believes the resolution becomes active Sunday, but the reality is it just doesn’t exist legally.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

These actions spell desperation on the cusp of madness, and the world is not following suit; so, what is next here, an invasion of Iran?!?

Considering just how "brilliantly" the other US occupations around the world are going, you might imagine it might just be time for a "re-think" on this; but of course, Israel's Bibi Netanyahu will not allow that to happen; he wants the US waging war against Iran, so Israel will not have to.

Sep 19 06:50

Democrats not serious to stop US weapons sales to the Saudis: Former US diplomat

The Democrats are not serious to put down the US sales of weapons to the Saudis and to Israel and other countries, says J. Michael Springmann, a former US diplomat in Saudi Arabia.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s top aides have been questioned by Congress over President Donald Trump’s dismissal of a top administration official while he was investigating billions of dollars of arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Top aides to Pompeo went before a congressional panel on Wednesday to defend Trump's decision to fire former Department of State Inspector General Steve Linick.

Springmann said, “There are two points to keep in mind when considering the House of Representatives' investigation of the firing of Steve Linick, the former State Department Inspector General, back in May of this year.”

Sep 15 04:38

US Officials Fear Arrest Over Saudi War Crimes in Yemen

State Department has come under fire for facilitating arms sales to the Saudis and suppressing evidence of legal issues raised by Yemen war.

A report from The New York Times revealed that some US officials are concerned that their role in facilitating arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, while ignoring the harm to civilians each country has caused in Yemen, could lead to their arrest overseas for war crimes. A Congressional hearing over these arms sales is set to take place on Wednesday.

The report said that officials from both the Obama administration and the Trump administration have considered hiring lawyers to discuss the possibility of being arrested while vacationing overseas.

The Times report reads: “No episode in recent American history compares to Yemen, legal scholars say, where the United States has provided material support over five years for actions that have caused the continuous killing of civilians.”

Sep 14 06:05

Saudis Launch Airstrikes Against Yemeni Capital of Sanaa

Saudi warplanes carried out at least 11 airstrikes against the Yemeni capital city of Sanaa, according to the Shi’ite Houthi movement. Strikes hit across the city, but the main target appeared to be the Sanaa airport.

There is as of yet no word on how much damage was caused, and no reports from either side mentioned casualties. It would be unusual for there not to be casualties in such a large city, but the airport has been closed by a fuel shortage for weeks anyhow.

The Saudis did not announce any specific goals for the attacks, but media reports attributed them to a recent increase in Houthi strikes on Saudi targets. The Houthis have claimed such strikes, though reports have not backed up many of them, and there seems to have been little hit in Saudi Arabia recently.

Sep 14 06:04

Saudi Arabia and America Are Responsible for the ‘Houthi Threat’ in Yemen

America’s post-9/11 wars have had disastrous consequences. They have been a geopolitical bust, fragmenting rather than eliminating terrorist groups, enhancing Iran’s influence, and destabilizing the Middle East. The humanitarian consequences have been even worse: thousands of Americans killed, tens of thousands wounded, hundreds of thousands of civilians killed, millions of people displaced, al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State loosed, and entire nations ravaged.

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