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Saudi Arabia has three choices

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Saudi Arabia has three choices on how to handle the Jamal Khashoggi situation

Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was very likely kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by a Saudi Arabian kill squad at the Saudi consulate in Turkey. All the evidence points to them and despite their denials, they haven’t put up a shred of evidence in their defense.

Now, the Kingdom is faced with three ways to handle the situation.

Admit some of the truth but pin it on a scapegoat

Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince and unofficial ruler of the Kingdom, was almost certainly the person who gave the order to take out Khashoggi. Decisions like these are not made by lesser officials or specific agencies without at least getting MBS’ blessing. Considering much of Khashoggi’s negative commentary about the Kingdom was directed at MBS, it would make sense for the man in charge to be the one who made the call.

While it’s hard for many of us who are paying attention to believe MBS wasn’t involved, the spin machine, political clout, and mainstream media pressure owned by Saudis is tremendous. This is the same nation that positioned itself as one of our prime partners in the war on terror despite having direct connections to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It’s also the same nation that spreads Wahhabism, one of the most extreme ideologies in Islam, around the globe while somehow having a public sentiment towards them that does not match. Ask your average American where they are on the extremism scale and they’ll be ranked as mostly moderate. After all, they let some women drive now!

With all this in mind, they could say, “Yes, there was an order to kill Khashoggi but it came from [insert low ranking scapegoat official]. The regime in general and MBS in particular just found out about it today after an internal investigation revealed [scapegoat] has a personal vendetta against Khashoggi because he [insert fabricated accusation]. The Kingdom apologizes to Khashoggi’s family and fiancee. We only wish we could have discovered the plot soon enough to prevent it from happening.”

In that scenario, as unbelievable as it is, the U.S. government would almost certainly forgive it following a token sanction or public scolding. We’d be back to normal relations within a month.

While this might seem like the easiest road to take, it’s also the least likely. Western thought accepts this as a logical way to cover it up and sweep it under the rug, but Saudi Arabia is conspicuous in their unwillingness to acknowledge any wrongdoing in any manner, ever.

Keep denying and hope their spin machine works

As mentioned above, the amount of control Saudi Arabia has in the United States is immense. It isn’t just the oil. They directly pay media, think tanks, lobbyists, and consultants who aid them in funneling money to all the right people.

If anyone can make a story disappear, it’s Saudi Arabia.

But this particular story may have legs that are too strong to trip up. Journalists are not accustomed to burying stories about journalists getting murdered and the Washington Post has clout of its own. As crazy as it sounds today, it’s still possible that they can make it fall in an active news cycle.

The midterm elections may not come soon enough for them, though.

This is the most likely scenario.

Keep denying but change the story to Russia and China

An interesting and potentially dangerous tactic may be for Saudi Arabia to become indignant towards the accumulated accusations towards them. They could start making threats and working with non-allies to change the tone of the story altogether.

By going to Russia and/or China, the mere threat of fundamentally changing the relationship with the United States over accusations it denies could be enough to force Washington DC to ease the pressure on them. Of all the scenarios, this is the one the White House fears the most. It won’t reduce coverage. It would force coverage to expand as leftist mainstream media ties the Saudis’ offenses to their nemesis in the Oval Office.

President Trump and Jared Kushner have worked hard to make the Saudi-US relationship stronger than it’s been in decades. They need that relationship if there’s any hope of brokering a peace deal in the Middle East. Even if we dismiss the economic blowback from a contentious relationship between Riyadh and Washington DC, the foreign affairs effects alone would be devastating.

The President has to play hardball, at least to an American public that wants repercussions against a murderous regime. If the Saudis start playing hardball as well, it could cause major issues that affect elections, hurt the economy, and end hope for reaching a peace deal any time soon.

Whatever path the Saudis choose, one thing is certain. The United States should not be in bed with a regime that will murder someone who works in the United States and has permanent legal residence here. That’s not what allies do to each other.

Foreign Affairs

Saudi foreign minister does damage control on American press

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Saudi foreign minister does damage control on American press

The foreign relations mess stemming from Jamal Khashoggi’s murder continues to grow more chaotic despite Saudi Arabia’s attempt to cover it up with regularly changing stories. The latest attempt at damage control comes from Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

Fox News’ Bret Baier him, pressing multiple times about Mohammad bin Salman’s role in or knowledge of the operation that led to Khashoggi’s murder. The blame is being placed on the individuals who carried out the operation; as much space is being created between the direct actors and Saudi leadership as possible.

One important note in the interview was when al-Jubier said they do not believe the entire 15-man “kill team” was at the consulate where when Khashoggi was killed there. He admitted he did not know whether Turkey really had a recording of what happened during the incident, nor whether the United States had intelligence that contradicted the Kingdom’s story.

The responses from the foreign minister were in stark contrast to the indignation exuding from the Kingdom for two weeks following the initial report of Khashoggi’s disappearance.

My Take

As I wrote last week, Saudi Arabia gravely underestimated the international response to this incident. They thought they could get rid of a dissident as they have done in the past and the response would be muted. They didn’t take into account his American ties and the desire of the Turks to expose them at every turn.

How is this going to end? It won’t, at least not for a while. Unlike other international news stories of similar magnitude, this one has multiple forces bent on keeping the story going until a satisfactory resolution is reached. It won’t be reached. The White House and the Kingdom will do whatever they can to sweep this under the rug and make people forget.

This stinks, but here’s the sad reality: “Justice” will not be delivered the way it should and the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States will return to the status quo in a few months.

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Foreign Affairs

Pulling out of the INF treaty isn’t just about Russia

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Pulling out of the INF treaty has very little to do with Russia

Russia has broken the treaty already, according to this administration as well as its predecessor. That’s enough to prompt President Trump to put out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, famously signed by President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev in 1987.

President Trump to pull US from Russia missile treaty

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45930206The US will withdraw from a landmark nuclear weapons treaty with Russia, President Donald Trump has confirmed.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Trump said Russia had “violated” the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

The deal banned ground-launched medium-range missiles, with a range of between 500 and 5,500km (310-3,400 miles).

My Take

This isn’t about Russia. Their actions are the excuse for pulling out, but the reason for doing so is because China has no such restrictions. They’re advancements in weaponry have prompted the United States and our allies to explore means of warfare that have been prohibited.

Until now.

This is a counter to China’s continued aggressive actions. Russia will keep doing what Presidents Obama and Trump already acknowledged. No we can step up our missile program as well.

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Conspiracy Theory

Russian meddling is about dividing us, not helping Trump

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Russian meddling is about dividing us not helping Trump

Russia is meddling with our elections. They’re meddling with our entire political system. They’re meddling in our culture, freedoms, and methods of communication. I once believed they were trying to help Donald Trump become President. Now I realize they are simply elements of chaos.

Today’s report of charges filed against a Russian agent working against American interests is striking for two reasons. First, the details they’ve been able to uncover about “Project Lakhta” are astounding. Second, their strategic goal was NOT to get one person or one party into office but to sow division among the American people regardless of their political ideology.

First charge filed against Russian for interfering with elections

http://noqreport.com/2018/10/19/first-charge-filed-russian-interfering-elections/“The strategic goal of this alleged conspiracy, which continues to this day, is to sow discord in the U.S. political system and to undermine faith in our democratic institutions,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This case demonstrates that federal law enforcement authorities will work aggressively to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of unlawful foreign influence activities whenever feasible, and that we will not stand by idly while foreign actors obstruct the lawful functions of our government. I want to thank the agents and prosecutors for their determined work on this case.”

Russia didn’t want Trump or Clinton to be President. They didn’t really care who won. All they wanted and continue to want is that no matter who wins any given election, the opposition will be so hateful about the loss that they’re willing to act out more aggressively than they otherwise would have normally.

It’s finally becoming clear that Russia’s plan is much more subverted and, frankly, ingenious than anything mainstream media or the Democrats could have ever fathomed.

They are taking advantage of our freedom of speech and the technology that allows that speech to reach the masses. They’re theory is that if they can get people on both sides of the political spectrum to voice their opinions with hate rather than understanding, it will spread. Those who have practiced thoughtful debate are now becoming raving ranters. Those who once argued their points thoughtfully are now becoming trolls.

Russia is not the only negative actor in this and the trends were already pointing to this divisiveness taking hold and spreading like a virus well before Project Lakhta was conceived, but they have definitely added to the cacophony and harnessed our vilest emotional responses to be used against us.

Their goal is to push as many people towards the fringes as possible. They want the far-left and the far-right to grow. They want debates to turn into arguments, then arguments to turn into blind rage. From there, they speculated that we would be the initiators of our own destruction.

They may be right.

From the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation debacle to the illegal immigration debate to anything that has to do with gun rights, Americans on both sides of the aisle are becoming more passionate. That’s leading many to become unhinged. When enough people are unhinged, any hopes of civil discourse can be forgotten. We are getting to the point where we no longer discuss our differences. We simply try to shout our perspectives louder than those opposed to us.

The left is the easier target. I’m not just saying that as a conservative. I say that because their position on issues make it easier for them to be emotional when news breaks about an event important to them. This is why those who blame racism for everything are not only seeing racism in every aspect of American life but are feeling justified in practicing their own versions of racism.

We now see that Russia’s goal wasn’t to get Trump elected. It was to make one side or the other absolutely hate the outcome regardless of who won. They aren’t pushing a political agenda. They’re pushing a cultural apocalypse.

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