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Foreign Affairs

Saudi Arabia is stalling for themselves, not because of midterm elections

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Saudi Arabia is stalling for themselves not because of midterm elections

Saudi Arabia is extending their investigation into the murder Jamal Khashoggi by at least a month. This has brought further condemnation on the Kingdom from the press and some world leaders, including President Trump.

President Trump says he’s ‘not satisfied’ with Saudi response on journalist’s death

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/10/22/donald-trump-khashoggi-response-saudis-am-not-satisfied/1731094002/As he departed the White House for a campaign rally in Texas, the president said he had spoken to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about Khashoggi’s disappearance after he entered Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Turkey this month.

“I am not satisfied with what I’ve heard,” Trump said. “We’re going to get to the bottom of it.”

The president specifically reacted to Saudi requests to extend the Khashoggi investigation for another month. That would mean most of the investigation’s findings would be released well after the November midterm election.

“I think it’s a long time,” Trump told reporters. “There’s no reason for that.”

My Take

Talking heads on mainstream media bug the tar out of me, as do activist news reporters passing of biased stories as factual reports. It took a while to find this story on USA Today. Most tried to tilt the story to claim Saudi Arabia was acting on behalf of President Trump to extend the investigation until after the election. USA Today only implied it.

The sad part is that it’s far from the truth. Saudi Arabia hasn’t taken the timing of our elections into account at all with anything associated with the mess they created. They have much more important issues of their own to deal with and the inconvenience of this all happening around American election time is no concern of theirs.

If anything, the President would love for this to get resolved sooner rather than later. The beginning of October would have been nice. He could have scolded them, slapped sanctions on them, and made it a non-issue during the election. Now, the actions of a foreign government are going to have a minor impact because of the association between the two governments. Voters won’t recall that President Obama was cozier with the Saudis than just about any American President. That’s ancient history to mainstream media.

If the left tries to make this an election issue, the American people should rebuke them. The press is already doing it for them. We’ll see if it has any impact at all. I doubt it.

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Foreign Affairs

Turkish-American relations aren’t better, just quieter than they were

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Turkish-American relations arent better just quieter than they were

President Trump said Saturday “we’re having a very good moment with Turkey.” The operative word in his statement was “moment.” In other words, relations can go south at any point, and they probably will very soon.

Diplomatic conflict with Turkey had been escalating for a year until very recently. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has balked at U.S. demands and made harsh statements about America’s foreign policy, particularly as they relate to Iran and Syria. He’s playing a game of brinkmanship, pushing his rhetoric and policies right to the edge before backing down.

Right now, he’s in his quiet mode. That likely won’t last long.

As Burak Bekdil noted at Gatestone, the list of problems between the United States and Turkey has not been reduced.

Turkey and US: Conflict Contained, Not Resolved

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/13328/turkey-us-conflict-containedOnly three months ago Turkey and its NATO ally the United States had too many issues about which to disagree: They had major divergences over Syria; they had different views on Turkey’s plans to deploy the Russian-made S-400 air defense system on NATO soil; they had mutual sanctions on top government officials due to Turkey’s refusal to free Andrew Brunson, an American evangelical Christian pastor living in Turkey who faced bogus charges of terrorism and espionage; they had a potential U.S. decision to block delivery to Turkey of arms systems, including the F-35 stealth fighter; they had potential U.S. sanctions on a Turkish public bank; the U.S. had doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium; a Turkish boycott on U.S. electronics; major differences over Syrian Kurds; and Turkey’s persistent demands for the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim cleric who is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s political nemesis, living in self-exile in Pennsylvania.

This could be a calm before the storm between the United States and Turkey. Both nations are pushing against each other, especially in reference to U.S. policy in the Middle East. The two NATO allies will be acting more like enemies very soon unless one or the other backs down.

That’s almost certainly not going to happen.

We must be very mindful of and cautious towards Erdogan. His lust for power is quickly manifesting as a desire to be the de facto leader of the Middle East Muslim world. To do that, he’ll need to turn America into a symbolic enemy for the whole region.

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Foreign Affairs

State Department denies claims MBS involved in Khashoggi killing

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State Department denies claims MBS involved in Khashoggi killing

Yesterday, reports were flying across the news wire that the CIA had concluded Saudi Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman was involved in the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The State Department issued a statement today denying the claim, stating no conclusion has been reached.

My Take

This is a lie. The State Department has seen and heard the mountains of evidence. The various cover stories put forth by the Saudi government have been hollow and debunked. They aren’t investigating further. They’re simply buying time and hoping other stories will help sweep this one under the rug.

Either MBS is so incompetent and disrespected that members of his own team went behind his back to murder someone, or he gave the order. The fact that Saudi Arabia wants us to buy the “rogue killer” is absolutely pitiful.

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Economy

Pacific Rim summit highlights strained China-US relations

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Pacific Rim summit highlights strained China-US relations

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AP) — A meeting of world leaders in Papua New Guinea has highlighted divisions between global powers the U.S. and China and a growing competition for influence in the usually neglected South Pacific.

The 21 nations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Port Moresby struggled to bridge differences on issues such as trade protectionism and reforming the World Trade Organization, making it likely their final statement Sunday will be an anodyne document.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and China’s President Xi Jinping traded barbs in speeches on Saturday. Pence professed respect for Xi and China but also harshly criticized the world’s No. 2 economy for intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and unfair trading practices.

In Port Moresby, the impact of China’s aid and loans is highly visible. But the U.S. and allies are countering with efforts to finance infrastructure in Papua New Guinea and other island states. The U.S. has also said it will be involved in ally Australia’s plan to develop a naval base with Papua New Guinea.

On Sunday, the U.S., New Zealand, Japan and Australia said they’d work with Papua New Guinea’s government to bring electricity to 70 percent of its people by 2030. Less than 20 percent have a reliable electricity supply.

“The commitment of the United States of America to this region of the world has never been stronger,” said Pence at a signing ceremony. A separate statement from his office said other countries are welcome to join the electrification initiative provided they support the U.S. vision of a free and open Pacific.

China, meanwhile, has promised $4 billion of finance to build the the first national road network in Papua New Guinea, among the least urbanised countries in the world.

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