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Foreign Affairs

Steve Hilton: Make Saudi Arabia pay… cash

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The whole of mainstream media and Washington DC – Democrats and Republicans – have attempted to hide a fact from us for decades. We hear about radical Islamic extremists all the time coming from Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, and Somalia. We rarely hear about arguably the most extreme sect of Islam: Wahhabism.

Why don’t we hear much about it? Because it’s the driving force behind Saudi Arabia’s extremist ideology.

With Jamal Khashoggi’s murder shining a bright light on the Kingdom, it’s leaders is general, and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in particular, now is the right time to make the Saudis use some of their massive amounts of cash to promote moderate Islamic principles. That’s the suggestion of Steve Hilton at Fox News.

My Take

Right idea, wrong recipient. Instead of investing money into “moderate” Islam, Saudi Arabia should be told to willingly contribute money and land to benefit some of the causes Khashoggi believed in. An obvious example of this would be to build safe and secure refugee camps for those who have been displaced by war in the Middle East.

Start bringing people home, or at least closer to home.

Saudi Arabia has plenty of land, tons of cash, and the potential for infrastructure that could allow them to build a small city that refugees can make their permanent home. I think Khashoggi would have liked to see that.

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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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