Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

Triple Summit in Saudi Arabia: Drums of War?

4 Jun

Have let this blog languish this year with so much happening, and while trying to write a book.  Spend most of my tracking time on Twitter – follow me there if you like @SherifaZuhur.

The triple summits of the GCC, Arab League and OIC convened in Saudi Arabia were intended to underscore Saudi Arabia’s leadership in regional policy and its centrality to Muslim majority nations. In all three, Saudi Arabia’s King issued an urgent call to support him against Iran’s hostile actions, whether recent or more longstanding and to do so before the end of Ramadan and in Mecca, to remind all of his position as Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.   Yet, the nations in these three organizations have different ideas about Iran’s intentions, and the U.S.’s role in deepening a crisis with Iran. Iraq and the smaller Gulf nations would rather avoid enlarging any conflict with Iran.   The Arab League is divided with regarded to numerous other issues, the GCC has been paralyzed since 2017 with the blockade on Qatar, and the OIC’s purview is hardly to declare or enter into wars.

King Salman presided, but it’s unclear if the triple meetings were suggested by his Crown Prince and advisors, or were his own initiative (which seems less likely). It is the Crown Prince who has pursued the war in Yemen and a more actively hostile stance to Iran.

 

King Salman injected strong condemnations of Iran’s alleged recent attacks (“terrorist attacks threatening the energy supply”, i.e. the attacks off of Fujeira) and interference in Arab states (via the Houthis in Yemen, directly and indirectly in Syria), and Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs. On these counts, the Arab League called for Iran to abide by United Nations’ resolutions, but there was some dissent or statements of exception.

 

Iraq’s President Barham Salih diverged from the GCC’s final statement arguing against escalation, reminding all of Iraq’s shared border with Iran and that a confrontation could lead to tragedy.

 

Qatar’s foreign minister also rejected the statements on Iran at the Arab League and GCC meetings, saying they had been prepared prior to the meetings and Qatar had no opportunity to consult; that they contradict Doha’s foreign policy, and that he had hoped the meetings would diminish tension with Iran rather than the reverse. He was then criticized by Gargesh and al-Jubair for his response. That Qatar sent representation was a surprise although the FM attended instead of al-Thani and all we saw of any reconciliation was a handshake between Shaykh Abdullah and King Salman arranged by Kuwait’s Shaykh Al Sabah.

 

The Arab League also condemned the escalation at al-Aqsa mosque whereby the IDF protected Israeli settlers who gained access. But the Arab League is also divided between Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s continuing cooperation with the U.S. unveiled peace plan and the intended summit in Bahrain.

Rouhani issued a public letter complaining about the non-invitation to the OIC and said the body should focus on the Palestinian issue, which Iran will aid.  Also Iran’s foreign minister complained about the use of the meetings to mobilize the Arab states against Iran.

The call to unite against Iran was also made at the OIC, where there was condemnation of the persecution of the Rohingya and a lengthy resolution to condemn the “transfer of embassies of the United States and Guatemala to Jerusalem” and urged all members to “boycott” countries that have opened diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.

Pakistan’s PM, Imran Khan was filmed walking away from King Salman without waiting for translation of his remarks, but then met with him, and gave a speech about the OIC’s responsibility to explain Muslim issues – such as blaspheming the Prophet and the Qur’an – to the West, using an example of the Jewish communities’ successful efforts to convince the world not to speak of the Holocaust without sensitivity.   The meeting prompted the Indonesia’s FM, Marsudi to call for greater unity at the OIC and to warn that dissension threatened the OIC’s credibility (Jakarta Post).

Media outlets reported differing angles of the meetings. Some chose to emphasize deepening rifts, others discounted the importance of the meetings, whereas a CNN piece held that they heightened possible action against Iran.

“The World Is a Dangerous Place!”: Trump and US Financial Interests in Saudi Arabia

20 Nov

This morning Trump issued a very lawyerly statement on Muhammad bin Salman’s guilt with regard to Khashoggi’s assassination: “The world is a dangerous place!” (as if Khashoggi just bumped into his murder) …  “it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t”. And “The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia, to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region.”

 

The full statement is attached here: https://twitter.com/Acosta/status/1064939271113637890

 

Why would Trump defend the murderous intent of a government who sends a hit-team to Istanbul to suffocate and dismember a U.S. resident and writer for the Washington Post?  First let’s begin to look at the money trail (and later at the grand plan that Kushner has supposedly cooked up for Saudi Arabia in the region).

 

#Trump claims to have NO business interests in #SaudiArabia. That is only half true. In June of 2001 #Trump sold the 45th floor of Trump World Tower to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and reportedly made $4.5 billion (actually more, see below). These apartments became part of the Saudi Arabian Mission to the United Nations.

Because the Saudis also paid additional costs (like annual fees of 85K per year) he could have made as much as $12 billion in that sale, but certainly $5.7 billion.

 

Earlier, in 1991, Prince AlWaleed bin-Talal bought Trump’s yacht, “Princess” for $20 million to help him out during a very tough period. In 1995, Prince AlWaleed along with other investors bought #Trump‘s Plaza Hotel for $325 million. (Prince AlWaleed expressed strong dislike for Trump, who has returned his animosity despite the fact that he had helped Trump with these purchases. Some have speculated this is why Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman so mistreated Prince AlWaleed when he captured him along with hundreds of others and held them at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. The Prince appears to have been tortured, or certainly is not the same man, and recently spoke in defense of Muhammad bin Salman as if ordered to do so).

While Trump’s dealings with Saudi Arabia were legal before his Presidency, certain actions during his campaign (involving Russia but also UAE and Saudi Arabia are arguably not) and he is supposed to avoid directly profiting from a foreign entity as a President. Even so, after #Trump became President, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia spent $270,000 at Trump’s Washington hotel while they were lobbying (the US) – $190,000 on rooms, $78,000 for catering, $1,600 for parking accrdng to a Washington Post Report based on required lobbyist filings. Just slightly different figures were given by the Independent: “aid disclosures filed with US Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, show that Qorvis MSLGroup paid $190,272 to Trump International for lodging expenses, $78,204 for catering, and $1,568 for parking.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/donald-trump-international-hotel-saudi-arabia-washington-dc-investment-270000-a7775471.html

Also see:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-hotel-received-270-000-from-lobbying-campaign-tied-to-saudis-1496700739

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/336444-saudis-spent270000-at-trump-hotel-as-part-of-lobbying-efforts-report

 

In July 2018 a lawsuit was filed against #Trump for accepting payments from foreign governments in that stay, which is a violation of the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution. The President filed a Motion to Dismiss, which the court rejected. Here’s the judge’s opinion:

http://www.mdd.uscourts.gov/sites/mdd/files/17-1596-Opinion.pdf

 

Though he may not actively manage the properties, he profits or “gains” from their profits. That lawsuit is continuing.

 

Also, in March of 2018, the #Trump International Hotel in New York hosted #Saudis accompanying Muhammad bin Salman. The Saudis paid so much that the general manager of the property wrote that their five day stay produced a 13% bump in revenue for that fiscal quarter 2h2 hours ago

In addition to this information which came from a fact-check on #Trump‘s denial of interests in #SaudiArabia (https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2018/oct/18/donald-trump/donald-trumps-claim-no-financial-interests-saudi-a/ ) we should look carefully at Crown Prince #MuhammadbinSalman‘s activities while in the United States in March He visited tech industries in California and the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) pledged $45 billion to (Japanese) SoftBank’s $100 bill technology venture capital fund. Also, PIF bought a $3.5 billion share in Uber and a $2 billion stake in Tesla; and invested about $1 billion in Virgin Group’s space companies. Why all this spending?

Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman had magnificent plans under #Saudi‘s Vision 2030 for a tech city, Neom, which will use AI (artificial intelligence) and robots. Just imagine all the profits that Silicon Valley companies and others could make here!

But meanwhile, why wasn’t the U.S. speaking out even prior to the brutal murder of #Khashoggi, when Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman had brutally locked up and tortured senior #Saudis in the Ritz-Carlton, not releasing them until they paid huge sums of money to him?  At least one died and some are still locked up!

There have been arrests of activists, including women activists and reports they have been tortured, beaten, mistreated, and threatened from telling their family members of their treatment.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/saudi-womens-rights-advocates-reportedly-abused-while-in-prison/2018/11/20/9e77f11c-ebfb-11e8-9236-bb94154151d2_story.html?utm_term=.69dd9072b377

These include: include Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Samar Badawi, Nassima al-Sada, Mohammad al-Rabe’a and Dr Ibrahim al-Modeimigh.

Why was there no outcry from #US senators or congressmen? If not from #Trump and Kushner?  It wasn’t simply the prospect of business deals in the U.S. but because #SaudiArabia has spent a LOT lobbying individual politicians.

#Saudis spent $27 million on Washington lobbying firms in 2017, that is three times the amount they paid out in 2016. $400,000 went directly to campaign funds of senators and House members who were urged not to make noise about MbS’ actions at the Ritz-Carlton, or arrests of activists, and indeed they did not speak out about this. (Information from Centre on International Policy)

 

What about this important arms deal? President Trump claims that it totals $110 billion in sales. That figure is again, not entirely correct. Most of the agreements are MOIs (memoranda of intent). Actually the total is more like $28 billion made up of six items which were previously declared by President Obama to Congress. Others are more like more like a wish list, and are still being negotiated.

 

For example, the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) anti-ballistic missile system received preliminary approval from the US Congress. However #Saudi Arabia was supposed to meet a September deadline with Lockheed Martin, and they missed that deadline. Many items are scheduled for far enough in the future, that the ‘deals’ could be withdrawn. The THAAD is tentatively scheduled for 2023-2026.

It doesn’t HAVE to be sold and no Americans are going to be put out of work they haven’t started on. There’s much more on this and fact-checking on the figure that Trump refers to here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/10/11/trumps-billion-arms-sales-saudi-arabia-still-fake/?utm_term=.a39d542a3a66

Now, I’m hoping to find out more about Kushner’s financial interests in Saudi Arabia …

 

CIA Concludes that CP Muhammad bin Salman is Linked to Khashoggi’s Murder

20 Nov

16 November – At the very beginning when Khashoggi’s October 2nd disappearance at the Turkish embassy broke in the press, and I began to tweet about it – along with 1000s of you – I wrote that I was SURE #Khashoggi had been told “by someone he trusted״ that it was safe to go to the Istanbul consulate. That he was observant & no fool.

Today we learned from the CIA that the Ambassador to the US, Khalid bin Salman told Khashoggi, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post, that he should go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so.”

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/cia-concludes-saudi-crown-prince-ordered-jamal-khashoggis-assassination/2018/11/16/98c89fe6-e9b2-11e8-a939-9469f1166f9d_story.html

 

this is is the same Ambassador who said “the reports that suggest that Jamal Khashoggi went missing in the Consulate in Istanbul or that the Kingdom’s authorities have detained him or killed him are absolutely false.” That was before he hurriedly flew to Riyadh without any good-bye party and he has not returned to Washington DC.

Today, (Nov. 16) Khalid bin Salman denied communicating with Khashoggi, so did the embassy spokeswoman – but the CIA has intercepted a communication – WSJ suggests this was on Whats App. So that’s a lie. And the Congressional intel committee heard about this on Thursday

Andrea Mitchell Verified account @mitchellreports

Congressional intel committees were briefed Thursday that CIA believes Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi death 1st reported by @washingtonpost

Also today the funerary Salat al-Gha’ib (for the dead whose body is missing) was said for Khashoggi in Mecca, and in Medina, and also in the Fatih mosque in Istanbul. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/11/funeral-prayers-held-jamal-khashoggi-mecca-medina-181116100339850.html

 

To understand the timing of leaks or information to the media. Turkey has prodded with leaks obtained from its security officials aimed at the US. Why? Because Turkey thought the US has the most influence over Saudi Arabia and could convince it to cooperate more effectively with the investigation into the killing of Khashoggi (which Saudi Arabia has certainly not done – having ignored the extradition papers and refused to give information and told the Turkish investigators to come to Riyadh instead.)

 

There are two audiotapes under discussion. CIA chief Haspel heard the 7 min. tape previously (in which Khashoggi was actually killed) The timing of the CIA leak comes as the Saudis “concluded” their “investigation” so the off-record statement from the CIA about the communication from Khalid bin Salman (explaining why Khashoggi went to the consulate in Istanbul trusting in his safety) ‘should’ have an impact despite KbS’ denials.

 

Here was a heartfelt farewell and explanation of the funeral prayer for the “absent” by JK’s friend Yasin Aktay. Aktay is close to Erdogan and this explains why a call to him from JK’s fiancee rather quickly brought authorities’ attention to other details like the two teams of Saudis arriving that day by private aircraft. https://www.yenisafak.com/en/columns/yasinaktay/funeral-prayer-in-absentia-for-jamal-khashoggi-2046753

 

The Washington Post’s smoking gun (as to the knowledge and direction by Muhammad bin Salman of the murder) is the communication between Khashoggi and Khalid bin Salman.   The CIA concludes that MbS knew that Khashoggi was directed to go to the embassy in Istanbul. Now, quite honestly, the CIA knew this after the audio tapes were heard and as it has been investigating multiple source of this information. Also remember there were already intercepted communications leaked about in the US concerning the luring of Khashoggi back to KSA (just not a direct message to him).

 

On BBC 5 Live (on which I was a guest on Nov. 16) we discussed whether this CIA assessment (& other new factors like the 15 minute audio which captured a discussion by the killers prior to Khashoggi’s entry to the consulate in which they reviewed their plan and their roles) are “enough” to implicate Muhammad bin Salman. My radio host has rightly emphasized that if all the millions and billions at stake in business, lobbying, arms sales and so on were not involved, then justice would be a simpler matter.

My radio host asked: “Can KSA ever be part of the internat’l community given this flagrant behavior?”

 

I can’t recall of my lengthy answer – it concerned the fact that pariah nations and pariah leaders ARE part of the international community but we need to force them to account for their actions, as just the day prior November 15th, two higher officials in Cambodia, one of them Pol Pot’s #2 had finally been sentenced.

 

And that I am certain that Saudi Arabians want to be part of the international community and deserve better [from their own government] (as Jamal Khashoggi himself wrote).

But that requires justice for Jamal, release of MANY political prisoners, a moratorium on arms sales, a change in policy on Yemen (which MbS has said is a bad idea), an end to guardianship for women and much more.

Khalid bin Salman’s irritated response complaining that the Washington Post hadn’t published the totality of his denial of communicating with Jamal Khashoggi shows that he doesn’t understand that the CIA wants the public to know what it knows and why. To force some hands. Because Kushner, Trump and many senators and congresspersons are in Muhammad bin Salman’s pocket.

Referring again to my first statement – that Jamal Khashoggi had to have been duped by someone to go to the consulate in Istanbul (rather than try to obtain his documents in DC where it is not impossible to be murdered [there was an assassination attempt on Adel al-Jubair] but it certainly would have been more dificult) I noticed that Iyad al-Baghdadi – a democracy activist also noticed that Jamal changed his plans in the period between August and September.

 

This pertains to BBC 5 Live’s question to me – did I think Jamal Khashoggi ever thought he’d be murdered. As I told BBC, he wouldn’t have dreamed he’d be murdered! Maybe a kidnapping was a fear, but with that reassurance from Khalid bin Salman, he would not have feared going to the consulate. Still, he left his telephone with his fiancee and she raised the alarm when he didn’t return.

 

From Iyad al-Baghdadi’s TL – “Then on October 15th, I received a leak from someone who claimed to be a Saudi source. He claimed that MBS “chose” Istanbul for disappearing Jamal way before the incident. He didn’t mention when, but he seemed to suggest it was weeks before.”

 

There is much more here to follow up on MbS closest advisors Saud al-Qahtani and Turki al-Sheikh, the sports empressario. #Khashoggi wrote that they were thuggish and that Muhammad bin Salman didn’t really have advisors, he had these two and others like them close to him.   Both were among kidnappers of the previous crown prince Mohammad Bin Nayef. #Egypt’s al-Ahly fans will agree after Turki al-Shaikh’s efforts in Egypt (see the article below)

 

Here are interesting details on al-Sheikh and al-Qahtani in James Dorsey’s piece. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/saudi-sports-diplomacy-mirror-image-kingdoms-already-policies-dorsey/?published=t

Al-Qahtani was accused in one Turkish leak of directing the actual murder by Skype and saying about Khashoggi “bring me the head of the dog.” Al-Qahtani was relieved of some his many duties (we don’t know which). His official Twitter account seemed to have been taken over by someone else after October 24. However many Twitter accounts created in October ’18 which solely tweet support for Muhammad bin Salman or attack the Washington Post, or were attacking Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz may be the work of al-Qahtani, Mr. Hashtag.

Here are more details on al-Qahtani and al-Sheikh in Hubbard and Kirkpatrick’s NYT piece. The important detail – neither is among the initial 18 arrested (now 21 are reportedly arrested) for #Khashoggi‘s murder despite Turkish claims about al-Qahtani –

 

Back to the role of AMB Khalid bin Salman. If your older brother, the most powerful person in KSA asked to you to tell, or have someone else tell #Khashoggi to obtain a document in #Istanbul, would you do that? And would you ask why? As for me, I’d ask my brother. But, if he did not respond to my question, then I would assume – that nothing should be said. So Khalid bin Salman may not have known that any attack was being planned for Khashoggi. But certainly al-Otaibi, the general consul in Istanbul DID know. Did he know in advance? Well, he was present and arranged transportation for the team to the consulate. His voice is heard on the briefer of the two tapes, objecting to the murder being committed in his study and he was allegedly threatened by the murder team.

 

To find this thread on my Twitter TL – (there is a bit more about the actual number of women drivers – since MbS is touted as being a great reform, I thought we should look at that too) https://twitter.com/SherifaZuhur/status/1064312441226448896

 

 

KhashoggiGate Continued.

19 Oct

By Sherifa Zuhur.

 

The #Saudi actors who ordered #Khashoggi‘s death were aware he had requested his proof of divorce document. They told him on September 28th that he had to return to the Saudi consulate on October 2nd.  They hadn’t anticipated his fiancee’s telephone call to Yasin Aktay, a Turkish official close to Erdogan, after she had waited for him to emerge from the consulate in vain. This call had some swift consequences. Turkish authorities rushed to the airport where one of the planes leaving with part of the murder team was about to depart, but they apparently found nothing of interest and allowed the plane to take off.

The Turkish intelligence agency, MIT decided to review an audio-visual feed from inside the consulate. This is not a legal bugging, but it is understood that there is surveillance on consulates and embassies.  “Grisly details [from the AV feed] suggest that Khashoggi was tortured then killed soon after entering the consulate.” https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/19/middleeast/turkey-khashoggi-intel-intl/index.html

 

Had Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancee, not been present that afternoon, or not called Aktay, the Turks wouldn’t have suspected as soon as they did that Khashoggi had been killed. The information about that clandestine AV feed’s contents was leaked over the week as the Saudis were swift to deny, and slow to cooperate with the investigation (the joint investigators were finally admitted to the consulate on Monday of this week).

Saudi Twitter bots attacked Cengiz viciously. They accused her of not being Khashoggi’s fiancee, made much of a photoshopped photo of them together, and even accused her of being a male Muslim Brotherhood figure. In Saudi Arabia, a new restriction was passed to punish sedition on social media. Meanwhile people in West were trying to wrap their heads around the audacity of the murder, wondering how the team thought they would get away with it. Saudi-observers reiterated that even the kidnapping of another country’s (Lebanon) prime minister (Hariri), arrests of female activists and the outrageous abduction, confinement and shakedown of senior Saudi princes by MbS at the Ritz-Carlton hotel had not brought any serious consequences down on MbS thus far.

Inside KSA, there is radio silence on #Khashoggi‘s case from figures who typically comment on important events – a senior journalist and editor; a leading woman journalists, in Saudi Facebook groups. Obviously everyone is afraid. The point is made in this article that prior to MbS, there were channels for differences of opinion. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-the-current-crown-prince-changed-saudi-arabia–for-the-worse/2018/10/18/f48eaafc-d254-11e8-83d6-291fcead2ab1_story.html?utm_term=.9a37a91eef8e

#Khashoggi‘s main danger to Muhammad bin Salman was a) he insulted President #Trump (mildly) b) he was an insider and  knows a great deal about inter-Saudi loyalties c) he also had assessed #KSA‘s failures in regional policy in depth, and would likely have opposed Kushner’s ME peace deal d) opposed torture and imprisonment of his colleagues and fellow countrymen.

To those who can’t understand the brazenness of whoever ordered this hit, and obtained a green light from MbS, you must realize that it is foremost a #Saudi message to #SaudiArabians. Think of the purpose of public executions held in Saudi Arabia — deterrence.

The royal court is upset; there are reports that some suggested that #Khalid bin Salman might be appointed as the deputy crown prince. Muhammad bin Salman would remain as crown prince unless a larger faction within al-Sa’ud family change their stance. Following the Ritz-Carlton shakedown, too many fear him.

There are also rumors and reports that United States wants to weigh in on that decision. Well, the US is NOT part of the succession process; but of course it is heavily influential – a situation that is resented by some Saudi Arabians.

Reportedly, some princes insisted to meet with MbS and/or with each other and these meetings were held clandestinely. When news was floated that MbS would accuse General al-Asiri (another figure close to the Crown Prince and who has been the ‘face’ of the Saudi campaign on Yemen) some were shocked that MbS would try to quickly shift blame from himself.  This only increased the anxiety of other Saudi royals.

Saud al-Qahtani, a media advisor of MbS, known as Mr. Hashtag and with the reputation of an enforcer, hasn’t been seen at his office since October 9th. He was active on Twitter, now someone else is supposed to be managing his Twitter account. https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/indepth/2017/8/23/who-is-saoud-al-qahtani-saudi-arabias-steve-bannon-

The #Saudi succession process has been changed and fine-tuned in recent years; these changes, and the weakness of previous Crown Prince allowed for the appointment of Muhammad bin Salman. That represented a leap forward to the next generation of Saudi royals. Due to that bold move, Muhammad bin Salman sought to consolidate his power and undermine his enemies with the “anti-corruption campaign” whereby he imprisoned key Saudis and forced them to pay him off. This was pulled off with relatively little criticism in the Western press, probably because of the Crown Prince’s increasing proximity to Trump and the Kingdom’s media campaign through image consultants.

It is key to understand that the al-Sa’ud family need to maintain unity. Otherwise, the entire basis of their rule could be shaken. That has been achieved or at least managed through family councils during other periods of turmoil. If a Deputy Crown Prince is appointed, then we might also expect some other purges of figures closely associated with Muhammad bin Salman up to now.

I also wanted briefly to mention the red herring that Saudi bots (and US conservatives) have thrown into the mix linking Khashoggi to the Muslim Brotherhood organization. The Muslim Brotherhood were not political enemies in Saudi Arabia until recently; many were (and remain) within the educational system, and a strand influenced Saudi Arabia’s neo-salafis. Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt and Syria fled to KSA decades ago, where they were monitored but permitted to stay.

They also hold governmental and educational positions in Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan (their cousins in Morocco, Gaza, Tunisia). It is in Egypt that the group was outlawed since 2013, and Saudi Arabia went along with this stance.   A senior journalist claimed Khashoggi joined the Muslim Brotherhood “in the 70s” – but recall, he was in that decade, 11 to 21 years old. And then he left the organization.  He has associates and friends who are in various groups which either support (like Turkey’s AKP) or are in favor of Muslim Brotherhood ideals, inasmuch as they are anti-corruption, and in more recent decades, pro-democracy (as their support base enlarged).

But it’s a terrible mistake to see the Khashoggi assassination as a Qatar/Turkey or MB plot (for which there is no motive) and not useful to utilize these divisions as key regional determinants.  In the MENA, the mixture of political trends cannot easily be reduced to pro- or anti- Ikhwan.   No, Khashoggi was a loyal Saudi, who did not oppose the al-Sa’ud’s rule, but he tried to stand up to some of its current actions – imprisonment and torture of activists, kidnappings, suppression of the press.

I fear that a new Deputy Crown Prince won’t fix these problems.

 

 

 

Horrifying Attack on Jamal Khashoggi

12 Oct

This drama is 9 days old.  Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi embassy in Istanbul on Feb. 2nd. He had gone there with no appointment on Sept. 28th but was told he must return to obtain his record of divorce so he could remarry.  He and his fiancee planned to marry on Feb. 3rd.

I haven’t yet processed this event.  As tweep Tanti Nazeeha put it I feel a huge “sense of gloom.”  They can kill you anywhere, anytime and in any manner they want.

 

I wanted to post this article here in the meantime regarding the U.S.’ duty to have informed Khashoggi of an intercepted threat against his life.

LAWFARE

SAUDI ARABIA

Revealing Intelligence on Jamal Khashoggi

By Carrie Cordero  

Wednesday, October 10, 2018, 10:19 AM

 

 

Washington Post Global Opinions columnist Jamal Khashoggi has been missing since entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on Oct. 2. As of this writing, Turkish officials have said that they believe Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, and details are emerging regarding the timing of his entry, where Turkish security cameras were located and the entry and exit of Saudi officials precisely around the time of Khashoggi’s disappearance. The Saudi Arabian government denies involvement or knowledge of his whereabouts.

The manner in which Turkish officials have revealed new details raises questions about what other  intelligence information the government of Turkey—or other governments—may have available to them that might reveal or confirm what has happened to Khashoggi. Turkish officials are clearly being cautious by speaking to reporters without named attribution, but they are also providing—as evidenced by this New York Times report—highly detailed information regarding their conclusions.

Deciding whether and how much intelligence information to reveal can be a difficult call for a country unaccustomed to revealing its intelligence methods, especially when it involves such sensitivities as diplomatic facilities. But sometimes the gravity of a situation requires exposing intelligence collection activities.

Although not involving the same global awareness or foreign relations sensitivities, here’s an example of something that happened in the United States, decades ago:

Around 1991, the FBI was conducting surveillance of a U.S. citizen, Zein Hassan Isa, inside the United States for foreign intelligence purposes. The surveillance was directed at Isa in his home in Missouri and, in accordance with U.S. law, was conducted pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Accordingly, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) had approved the surveillance based on a probable cause finding that Isa was an agent of a foreign power. Under normal circumstances, this type of surveillance would not be revealed publicly unless an individual was prosecuted for a national security-related crime—espionage or terrorism, for example. But in this case, the U.S. Attorney General made an exception. He authorized the use of the evidence at Isa’s murder trial, which meant that the surveillance became public.

The surveillance recorded tapes that revealed Isa, with his wife’s assistance, stabbed their 16-year-old daughter to death in the family’s home. According to later written narratives of the case, Tina Isa had become too Americanized, and her father was enraged when he found her at home with a boyfriend. In his mind, perhaps, she had betrayed him, or their heritage.

Based on public reports, the picture that is emerging is that there is intelligence information Turkish officials or other international partners may have that either provides evidence of or information about what has happened to Khashoggi. Reports that U.S. intelligence may have had some advanced information regarding a plot to harm Khashoggi raises additional questions about intelligence services’ duty to warn. Under normal circumstances, intelligence services would want to protect their sources, whether human or technical. Intelligence services in Turkey and elsewhere likely have additional information that would shed light on events leading up to Khashoggi’s disappearance. The Turkish government may need to reveal sources it does not want to reveal if the Saudi Arabian government continues to deny involvement despite evidence Turkey has in its possession. Alternatively, one way for other countries to assist the Turkish government in protecting its sources while following through on its apparent desire to provide information to the public would be for cooperating governments to create a joint statement based on combined intelligence regarding threats to and the disappearance and alleged murder of Khashoggi.

Sometimes the greater public interest is served by releasing information, even if it means revealing how the information was obtained. This is such a case.

This article was accessed here:

https://www.lawfareblog.com/revealing-intelligence-jamal-khashoggi

 

Syria Update, June 8, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

8 Jun

Syria Update June 8, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Early death toll: 70 killed including 22 civilians.

Friday’s death toll: 110 killed, including 36 civilians and among these civilians 5 women and 3 men were tortured to death by regime forces.

The opposition’s lost battle for Qusayr was sponsored by Saudi Arabia, and counter to popular mythology was the first to be so backed (other than efforts on the Jordanian border. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/06/06/syria_is_now_saudi_arabias_problem?page=full

Syria’s National Coalition again ruled out attending the U.S.-Russian sponsored peace talks in Geneva. https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/nowsyrialatestnews/syria-opposition-again-rules-out-peace-talks Georges Sabra said that the Syrian opposition needs military assistance, not talks.

Lina Sinjab’s farewell to Damascus. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22826636

Interview with Ahrar al-Sham leader Abu Abdullah al-Hamawi http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fL5dzLlmORI&feature=youtu.be

Refugees and Relief:

The United Nations launched its largest ever appeal for aid for war-torn Syria. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22813207#TWEET781827

Syrian refugees in Lebanon exceed 511,000 according to the UNHCR.

Aleppo province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+aleppo+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152ff85ac00b17c9:0xf68ea3d8dc74b61b,Aleppo+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=R9DLUKfTFoWO0QHBuIHABA&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

10 opposition fighters were killed in clashes and also bombardment in Jabal Shweihina incuding a local commander. A sniper killed a man in the Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood. Eight regular troops were killed in Aleppo today.

The FSA continued to besiege the Aleppo Central Prison. https://twitter.com/TaziMorocco/status/343458580789342209/photo/1

Regime forces bombed the area between Anadan and Hraitan.
http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=36.308762&lon=37.053452&z=12&m=b&tag=44605&search=Anadan

A surface-to-surface missile killed 3 civilians in the town of Kafarhamra.

Three opposition fighters were killed by the YPG in clashes on the road between the viallages of Jeibara and Beineh in the Efrin area today. On Friday, the YPG in the Efrin area took over the villages of Basila in Nahiyat Shirawa, and Bashmera. This followed two days of heavy clashes with the opposition which had attacked the Kurdish villages on the 25th of May and besieged them. Clashes continued on Friday in the villages of al-Zeyara and Beineh. Also on Friday, regime forces in the Mengh military airport targeted one of the houses in the village of Mengh, setting it on fire.

Damascus province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+damascus+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1518e6dc413cc6a7:0x69e5b88ad5b0817b,Damascus+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=_s_LUPTwHqWw0AHTtYDQAg&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

An unidentified body was found in the Hamish area of the Barzeh neighborhood. A large explosion was heard in al-Zahira.

In clashes and regime bombardment, five opposition fighers were killed in al-Maliha, Erbin and Hazarma. 1 man who was part of a medical team trying to evacuate the wounded from Douma was killed by regime fire. A man was killed in unknown circumstances in Zamalka. A man and his son were discovered after being killed in their home in al-Tal.

Regime bombardment of Douma killed 2 children, yesterday (Friday). Also, the regime forces bombarded areas of Darayya. There were clashes around Mu’adamiyya; one opposition fighter was killed in clashes near Erbin by the ring road and the airforce bombarded the village of Ras al-Ein (all yesterday).

Dara`a province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+daraa+province&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15195fa1016e8de7:0xff6b41761235d49c,Daraa+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=u9DLUPDfIcXq0gGRwIHADQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

In clashes in Bosra, Inkhil, Na’ima and the city of Dar`a, 4 opposition fighters were killed and one was a local commander. 8 civilians were killed in the province today — the regime forces tortured to death 2 civilians from the Der’a refugee camp who were being detained. 4 civilians were killed by bombardment on Jassim, Nimir, and Inkhil. 1 child was killed by the gunfire in the town of Bosra al-Sham. 1 man died of his wounds from the bombardment several days ago on the al-Kashif in Dar`a.

Deir az-Zur province:

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Dayr+Az+Zor+province+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x1548153314d3dbad:0x9d5a68804221c27f,Deir+ez-Zor+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=WtLLUJL5NanI0QGozIH4Bw&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

1 defected soldier was killed in clashes in the city of Deir az-Zour. Also, the following were killed from May 6 – 7 and have been identified:

Noor Mohammad Alhajir, a 13 year old girl
Ammar Alrahmo
Mowaffaq Dawoud Alabdllah
Mahmoud Khaled Alissa
Hamad Hamoud Albakdsh
Nori Alahmad
Sobhi Alaskar

Hama province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=hama+governorate&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15248293d5052f19:0x6e6de1581c39ed96,Hama+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=CdPLUKKbIqyF0QHB94HQAw&sqi=2&ved=0CIEBELYD

Medical sources in the city of al-Salamiyah confirmed that Islamist opposition factions killed 11 members of the Syrian Armed Forces and the National Defense Forces when they attacked the Nahiyat al-Se’en checkpoint. One of the dead was an officer with the rank of captain. More than 20 regime forces were injured. The opposition fighters also suffered losses. 1 opposition fighter was killed in clashes near the al-Emya checkpoint at the town of al-Sa’en.

Homs province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=homs+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15230eeab10528a7:0x65655b88027a8699,Homs+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=BFPRUM6RBaTI0AHw1ICoCQ&ved=0CDMQ8gEwAA

1 rebel was killed while trying to evacuate the injured from al-Quseir city. 7 civilians, including a woman, were killed by a car bomb in the al-Adawi area of Homs (a mostly Alawi area). http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/06/08/Car-bomb-kills-7-people-in-central-Syrian-city.html

Syrian regime forces took over the last opposition-held area in al-Qusayr at eastern Buweida village, four days after al-Qusayr fell to Hizbullah and the Syrian army. Buweida appears to be in ruins. https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/nowsyrialatestnews/syrian-regime-says-it-overruns-last-rebel-bastion-near-al-qusayr

Idlib province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=idlib+governorate+google+map&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x152500e6cc6ed27b:0xe59a7e2f651fc24c,Idlib+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=51PRUIiREsaB0AHN_YD4BQ&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

On Friday, 2 women and a man were killed by the bombardment on the village of Megher al-Hamam, near the town of Habit.

Raqqa province: https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=map+of+ar-raqqah+province,+Syria&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x153719cee4c60ce7:0x9d4657e00e899ab6,Ar-Raqqah+Governorate,+Syria&gl=us&ei=PJ_bUKrTBObF0AGMuYHwBw&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q8gEwAA

2 civilians, an adult and a child were killed by the helicopter bombardment on the city of al-Tabqa.

International:

Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari says the country is not sending fighters to Syria. (Does that mean they are volunteering and arriving on their own?) http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/06/08/Iraqi-FM-says-Baghdad-not-sending-fighters-to-Syria-.html

On Friday, Russia’s Putin made it known that he would like to send Russian forces to the Golan Heights to relieve the Austrian peacekeeping forces there, (being withdrawn by Austria.) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/putin-offers-russian-troops-as-golan-heights-peacekeepers-to-replace-austrian-forces-8649706.html

However, the United Nations responded that members of the UN Security Council cannot send peacekeeping troops, therefore it rejected Russia’s offer. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2013/06/08/UN-says-it-can-t-accept-Russia-s-offer-of-Golan-troops.html

In Lebanon, fighting related to the conflict in Syria once again erupted in Tripoli’s souks. http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/86186-fighting-erupts-again-in-central-tripoli-s-old-souks

Wounded anti-regime fighters who fell in al-Qusayr were evacuated to Lebanon and are being treated in Ba’lbak area hospitals (al-Jazeera reports that they went to Shtoura to the hospital) (I wonder if that includes the Imam Khomeini Hospital, the primo facility in Ba’lbak, somehow doubt that). http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/86173-dozens-of-anti-regime-fighters-including-10-lebanese-arrive-at-bekaa-hospitals-from-qusayr

More than 90 wounded have been evacuated.

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, Shaykh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Shaykh condemned Hizbullah following its intervention in Syria. http://www.yalibnan.com/2013/06/08/top-saudi-cleric-urges-end-to-hezbollah-aggression/

I thought you might benefit from this explanation of RPGs, from the Encyclopedia of U.S. Middle Eastern Wars, edited by Spencer Tucker (and myself and Dave Zebecki as assisting editors) and following that a few questions on Russia.

Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG)
A short-range, shoulder-fired, infantry antitank and anti-personnel weapon. Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPG) have also been used from time to time against aircraft, especially helicopters. RPG has been popularly translated as “rocket-propelled grenade,” but the acronym actually stands for Ruchnoy Protivotankovy Granatomyot, Russian for “handheld antitank grenade launcher.” In the 1950s, the production was taken over by the Bazalt State Research and Production Enterprise, which continues to produce the Russian-made RPG today. The RPG fires a fin-stabilized, oversized explosive charge to penetrate armored vehicles. RPG warheads, ranging from 70mm to 85mm in diameter, come in thermobaric (fuel-air explosive), fragmentation, HEAT (high explosive anti tank), and high explosive configurations. The most successful and commonly used RPG version today is the RPG-7 and its variants. It has been in service since 1961, when it replaced the earlier RPG-2 that had been introduced in 1949.
The RPG is a single-shot weapon, requiring reloading after each firing. In its regular military deployment, the RPG is used by a two-person team, with the shooter carrying the weapon and two additional rounds of ammunition. The second team member carries an additional three rounds of ammunition, and is also trained to fire the weapon if the primary shooter is incapacitated. A well-trained RPG team can fire 4-6 rounds per minute.
The weapon is comprised of a reusable smooth-bore, 40mm tube that fires a front-loaded projectile. The tube is 37.4 inches long and weighs 17.4 pounds unloaded. With the grenade loaded, it weighs 22 pounds. The weapon is controlled by two pistol-grip handles with an unusual configuration, as the trigger mechanism is located in the forward handle, with the rear grip used for additional stability. The grenade itself is made up of two parts, the warhead with a sustainer motor, and the booster charge. These parts must be screwed together before loading and firing.
The RPG is recoilless, with the recoil of the rocket exiting through the breech exhaust opening. The grenade is a rocket-assisted projectile and is ejected from the launcher tube by a small strip powder charge at a velocity of about 380 feet per second. After traveling about 36 feet, a sustainer rocket ignites and increases the grenade’s velocity to a maximum 960 feet per second. After initial launch, a set of fins opens in the tail section of the projectile. These fins cause the projectile to spin, improving stability in flight.
Firing the new PG-7VR tandem-charge ammunition, the RPG-7 can penetrate nearly 2 feet of steel with explosive reactive armor, 5 feet of reinforced concrete, 6.5 feet of brickwork, or 12 feet of log or sand. The RPG round can put a 2-inch hole in walls, but does not knock down the entire wall. It is highly effective in urban warfare against troops inside buildings. In this manner, it was used to great effect against American forces during the Vietnam War at the Battle of Hue in 1966.
The RPG-7 has two standard sights, a primary 2.5 power optical telescopic sight, and a permanently-attached iron sight as a backup. In addition, night-vision sights may be attached in place of the optical sight. Two factors make accurate firing difficult, particularly at longer ranges, even in ideal weather conditions. First, the shooter must estimate range with a high degree of precision. This is helped greatly by the optical sight, but remains a crucial factor in achieving a hit. Second, the weight of the grenade at the forward end of the RPG makes it difficult to hold the weapon steady for any length of time. This means that the shooter must line up his sights and fire quickly. Without practice, a shooter can hit a vehicle-sized target most of the time at ranges of 150-300 feet. With training, the RPG has an effective range of 1,000 feet against moving targets and about 1,600 feet against stationary targets.
Unlike most projectiles in flight, the RPG’s grenade flies into a crosswind, and not with the direction of the wind. This fact makes aiming the RPG in a crosswind extremely complicated. In a 7-mph crosswind, a first round hit at 600 feet may be expected about 50 percent of the time. Insurgents have often compensated for poor accuracy by firing large numbers of RPGs at a single target. This phenomenon was reported against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, during the Afghanistan-Soviet War, and against the Israelis in the Summer 2006 Lebanon War by Hezbollah.
The short effective range of the RPG forces the shooter to get close to the target, either by advancing or allowing the target to approach until within effective range. Rapid firing is critical, and the launcher is carried loaded to speed the firing procedure. When fired, the RPG emits a telltale puff of exhaust smoke. This factor, combined with the short range, necessitates evasive action by the shooter immediately after firing, unless the action is meant to be a suicide mission.
The RPG can be fired from the standing, crouching, or prone positions. Low “backsplash,” or rocket exhaust, also allows the use of the RPG from enclosed spaces, like rooms in fortified positions, making the RPG particularly useful in the covered, short-range combat environment of urban operations. This feature has been used to considerable advantage in Northern Ireland, Lebanon, Gaza, and Iraq since 2003.
Originally designed as an antitank weapon, the RPG was copied from the World War-era German Panzerfaust and the American-made 3.5inch rocket launcher known as the Bazooka. Improvements in armor technology, particularly the incorporation of gapped and reactive armor in main battle tanks in the 1970s and 1980s, reduced the effectiveness of RPGs as antitank weapons. However, an advanced grenade, the PG-7BR, featuring a tandem two-stage warhead designed to defeat reactive armor, was introduced in 1988.
Nonetheless, with the development of precision anti tank guided missiles (ATGM) such as the Russian AT-3 Sagger, deployed in 1963, and the American BGM-71 tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided (TOW) missile deployed in 1971, use of RPGs against tanks declined considerably and they were adapted thereafter mainly for use against personnel, fixed positions, and light vehicles. In addition, the fact that the RPG round self explodes after a range of about 3,000 feet allows it to be used as a form of light artillery, spraying the target area with shrapnel.
In Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993, RPGs shot down two American UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. This triggered an extensive battle between U.S. forces and local militiamen, resulting in the deaths of 17 Americans. That in turn ultimately led to the withdrawal of American forces from Somalia in March 1994. Specially modified RPGs were also used by the mujaheddin against Soviet helicopters in Afghanistan in the 1980s, to great effect.
In its antipersonnel role, the RPG fires two different grenades. One, a thermobaric, air fuel explosive round, TBG-7VR, has the destructive equivalent of an artillery projectile or a 120mm mortar shell. The second, a fragmentation round, OG-7V, is particularly effective against fire emplacements. In addition, the HEAT round sprays lethal metal fragments as far as 500 feet from the point of impact.
The RPG, while originally Russian, and still produced in that country, is also produced in over a dozen other countries, and is in use in some 40 countries worldwide. In addition to regular armed forces, RPGs can be found in the arsenals of almost every non-state military organization in the world, including terrorist groups.
RPGs are easy to use and maintain and relatively inexpensive to manufacture, and like the AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle, RPGs are readily available on the black market at low cost. These factors, coupled with low training requirements and ease of use, have made it a chosen weapon of insurgents, terrorist groups, and other non-state militias around the world.
The RPG has been used extensively in Vietnam, Afghanistan (both during the Afghanistan-Soviet War and in the ongoing Operation ENDURING FREEDOM since 1991), Chechnya, throughout the Middle East, and Africa. It was also used by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) against British troops in Northern Ireland in the 1970s.
In Iraq, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, RPGs have been the favored weapon of various insurgent forces. While they are not capable of penetrating the M-1 Abrams tank, they have been successfully used against light-armored vehicles and U.S. and coalition infantry forces. Nevertheless, a perfectly-aimed RPG-7 can disable tanks, which can cause problems of a different sort. In August 2006 and again in January 2008, an RPG-29, the most potent RPG to date, did partially penetrate the FV4034 Challenger 2 tank, which is the United Kingdom’s main battle tank.
Additional versions, the RPG-26 and RPG-27, are single-shot, disposable antitank rocket launchers, similar to the American M-72 Light Antitank Weapon (LAW), entered into service in 1989. Firing a variant of the tandem two-stage warhead developed for the RPG-7, these are for use only against armored vehicles.
Elliot P. Chodoff
See also: Aircraft, Helicopters; Antitank Weapons; Afghanistan-Soviet War; ENDURING FREEDOM, Operation, Overview; Helicopters, Role in Soviet-Afghan War; IRAQI FREEDOM, Operation, Overview; Iraq Insurgency; Mujaheddin; Somalia and Intervention in.
References:
Brassey’s Infantry Weapons of the World. New York: Crane Russak, 1979.
Jane’s Infantry Weapons, 2008-2009. Coulsdon, Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group, 2008.
U.S. Army. Soviet RPG-7 Antitank Grenade Launcher. Fort Monroe, VA: United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, 1976: Bulletin No. 3.

Syria and Russia

Q. Why does Russia support the regime of Bashar al-Assad?

A.

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/e64a3076-c9b2-11e1-a5e2-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2DB25kMfp

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/09/opinion/russia-syria-relations/index.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/05/syria-crisis-russia-western-meddling

http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/why-russia-wont-abandon-syria-7140

Tartus:

http://thediplomat.com/flashpoints-blog/2012/08/21/russias-syrian-naval-base/

citizens:

http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/another-reason-for-russias-interest-in-syria/

Q. Did communism flourish in Syria?

A. No.

http://www.questia.com/library/65212800/the-communist-movement-in-syria-and-lebanon

*personal witnessing of alleged communists arrested by the H. al-Assad regime.

Q. Has the Syrian Communist Party supported the revolution?

A. No. (However, some former communists are part of the revolution)

http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/syria180411.html

http://www.marxist.com/in-defence-of-the-syrian-revolution-the-marxist-perspective.htm

Syria Update, October 6, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

7 Oct

Syria Update, October 6, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Early death toll: 70

Friday’s revised death toll: More than 140 including 73 unarmed civilians

For the fourth day, Turkey and Syria exchanged hostilities. The U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said this may lead to a broader war. http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/world/55035701-68/panetta-peru-defense-saturday.html.csp
http://www.liberation.fr/monde/2012/10/06/la-turquie-riposte-de-nouveau-a-des-tirs-syriens_851293

This video shows a Shi`i Iraqi national who was fighting with Assad’s forces in Syria against the opposition and who was captured by the opposition. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cezDUp1WYqU

Aleppo province: The Syrian military and the opposition clashed in the al-Qarlaq neighborhood and explosions took place. The Syrian military heavily shelled the southern neighborhoods, sending hundreds of rockets into these areas earlier in the day. A sniper killed 3 civilians including a child in Karaj al-Intilaq, Souq al-Hal and al-Itha`a. The Syrian military shelled the neighborhoods of Karm al-Jabal and Bab al-Nasr.

Damascus province: The Syrian military shelled the al-Qadam and al-Asali neighborhoods of Damascus, killing a civilian in al-Asali. Clashes between the opposition and the Syrian military took place in the Dawar Borsa`id area, and several Syrian troops were killed in those clashes. Some unidentified bodies were found in that area. The Syrian military destroyed buildings in al-Tadamon. Clashes also took place in the Yarmouk camp.

The Syrian military carried out arrests and raids in Qudseyya, and in the town of al-Hama, and shelled the fields around the city of Harasta. Clashes in Harasta killed one opposition fighter. The Syrian military shot one person in the town of Babila. In Duma, 11 persons were killed – one unidentified body was found, a sniper killed 1, and clashes resulted in the deaths of 9 opposition fighters. 1 was shot by regime forces in the Babila town. 11 were killed in the city of Douma, an unidentified corpse was found, 1 was shot by sniper fire, 9 rebel fighters were killed during clashes with regime forces. Syrian military shelling of Otaya killed one. The Syrian military shelled the towns of the eastern Ghuta as helicopters hovered overhead. The Syrian military shelled al-Zabadani and carried out raids in Bloudan.

This video shows a Syrian Presidential Guard who was captured by the opposition in the Damascus area: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aD7ZZi2G1E

Dara`a province: A sniper shot a civilian in the town of Msayfra. The Syrian military shelled the town of al-Na’ima, and al-Mzeireb and M’arba. The Syrian military heavily shelled the town of al-Karak al-Sharqi; clashes took place there as well.

Deir az-Zur province: The Syrian military shelled the town of Muhasan.

Hama province: The Syrian military stormed into the village of al-Shir and carried out raids and arrests. The Syrian military shelled the village of Hurbanafsa.

Hassake province: Regime forces were on a raid and arrest campaign in the Shadadi area of Reef al-Hasakah.

Homs province: Clashes between the Syrian military and the opposition took place in several areas of the city of Homs, including on the outskirs of Baba Amru. The Syrian military shelled al-Khaldiyya, Jobar and Homs al-Qadima leading to at least 11 injuries. Syrian military shelling on al-Rastan killed one person.

The Syrian military shelled the city of al-Qseir. Many civilians, including women and children were fleeing from the town of al-Tabia al-Gharbiya when the Syrian began shelling them. That town was being shelled heavily and clashes took place as the Syrian military tried to overtake it.

Idlib province: The Syrian military killed a defected captain Alaa’ Mustafa Qaiqouni, who became the leader of the Salah al-Din rebel battalion, in an on the road to the village of Darkoush in the Jusr al-Shughur area. In that area, near the Syrian-Turkish border, violent clashes too, place for more than 12 hours between regime forces and rebel fighters. Then, the opposition taking control of the town of Kherbet al-Jawz. 40 Syrian troops and 9 opposition troops were killed in the clashes. Clashes also took lace in the town of Bdama, and to the west of the city of Idlib. The Syrian military also shelled the town of Sarmin and the village of T’oum. A Syrian military helicopter targeted the area to the south west of the town of Jarjanaz. Electricity has been cut off from the villages in the eastern part of Ma’arat al-Nu`man for three days.

Latakia province: COL. Ali Khazzam, right hand of Maher al-Assad died today of his wounds in Latakia according to sources in Qurdaha. Khazzam commanded the March 2011 raid into Baba Amru in Homs and led other military operations in Damascus province. The Syrian opposition took over the Syrian military’s outpost of Berj al-Daymous in Jabal al-Turkman.

Mokhtar Lamani, who heads United Nations-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s office in Syria, met with members of the armed opposition on Saturday in the Lajah area, after a trip to Dara`a. He also met with the governor of the province of Homs and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Red Crescent.
International: According to the Guardian, Syria has agreed to keep its military forces 6 kilometers away from the Turkish border, in the wake of cross-border hostilities.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/05/syria-agrees-buffer-zone-turkish-border-reports

In contrast with earlier reports, the New York Times today claimed that Saudi Arabia and Qatar have not armed Syrian rebels with heavy weaponry, due to U.S. opposition to such aid. Without it, the opposition can do no more than achieve a stalemate with the regime’s military. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/07/world/middleeast/citing-us-fears-arab-allies-limit-aid-to-syrian-rebels.html?pagewanted=all

According to a defector, 1,600 Hizbullah fighters are fighting on behalf of the Assad government in Syria. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/middleeast/article3560184.ece

Selected Bibliography on Syria (from my book, The Middle East: Politics, History and Neonationalism IMEISS, 2005)

Abdullah, U. I. The Islamic Struggle in Syria. Berkeley: Mizan Press, 1983.

Abu Khalil, `Asad. “Syria and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.” Current History. Vol. 93, 1994.

Avi-Ran, Reuven. The Syrian Involvement in Lebanon since 1975. Boulder, Col.: Westview, 1991.

Batatu, Hanna. “Some Observations on the Social Roots of Syria’s Ruling Military Group and the Causes for its Dominance.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 35, 1981.

_________. “Syria’s Muslim Brethren.” Middle East Reports. Vol. 12. No. 110, November-December, 1982.

_________. Syria’s Peasantry, The Descendants of Its Lesser Rural Notables, and Their Politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.

Betts, Robert B. The Druze. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.

Blecher, Robert. “History as Social Critique in Syrian Film: Muhammad Malas’ al-Leil and Ryad Chaia’s al-Lajat.” Middle East Report. No. 204, July-September, 1997.

Clawson, Patrick. Unaffordable Ambitions: Syria’s Military Build-up and Economic Crisis. Washington D.C.: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1989.

Davis, Uri. “Citizenship Legislation in the Syrian Arab Republic.” Arab Studies Quarterly. Vol. 18, No. 1, Winter 1996.

Devlin, John. The Ba`th Party: A History from Its Origins to 1966. Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1976.

Drysdale, Alasdair. “The Succession Question in Syria.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 39, No. 2, 1985.

Drysdale, Alasdair and Hinnebusch, Raymond. Syria and the Middle East Peace Process. New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1991.

Early, Evelyn. “Poetry and Pageants: Growing up in the Syrian Vanguard.” In Children in the Muslim Middle East. Edited by Elizabeth Fernea. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995.

Gelvin, James. “The Social Origins of Popular Nationalism in Syria: Evidence for a New Framework.” International Journal of Middle East Studies. Vol. 26, No. 4, 1994.

_________. Divided Loyalties: Nationalism and Mass Politics in Syria at the Close of Empire. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Hinnebusch, Raymond. Authoritarian Power and State Formation in Ba’thist Syria: Army, Party and Peasant. Boulder, Col.: Westview, 1990.

__________. “State and Civil Society in Syria.” Middle East Journal. Vol. 47, No.2, Spring 1993.

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