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    Default Trump Strikes Arms Deal With Gulf

    Trump Strikes Arms Deal With Saudis Worth $350bn, $110bn To Take Effect Immediately

    20 May, 2017

    In his first overseas trip as president, Donald Trump sealed an arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth $350 billion over 10 years, with nearly $110 billion to take effect immediately. The agreement is said to bolster security "in the face of Iranian threats."

    "This package of defense equipment and services supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of malign Iranian influence and Iranian related threats. Additionally, it bolsters the Kingdom's ability to provide for its own security and continue contributing to counterterrorism operations across the region, reducing the burden on US military forces," the US Department of State said in a statement on Saturday.

    US President Donald Trump, along with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is accompanying him on the trip, attended a signing ceremony for almost $110 billion worth of defense capabilities to be conveyed to Saudi Arabia, effective immediately.

    "This package demonstrates the United States' commitment to our partnership with Saudi Arabia, while also expanding opportunities for American companies in the region," the statement read.

    The deal also "potentially supports tens of thousands of new jobs in the United States," it added.

    The "intended sales" include deals in five categories that include border and coastal security, cybersecurity, air force modernization, as well as air and missile defense, the State Department announced.

    Tanks, artillery, helicopters, light close air support, intelligence-gathering aircraft, and systems such as Patriot and THAAD are just a few among a large list of weapons and machinery to be sold to Riyadh.

    "Offers of extensive training" are also included in the package.

    Speaking at a news briefing, Tillerson said the deals send a "strong message to our common enemies." The US Secretary of State also told the media that a centerpiece of Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia is to curb any threats to the region allegedly posed by Iran, AP reported.

    Leaders of the two countries also discussed fighting "extremism and terrorism" in the region, including in Yemen and in Syria. Speaking at a joint meeting with Tillerson, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, said the ties between Riyadh and Washington would help "drain the swamps" from where the threat "emanates."

    The series of agreements inked provide for a "total value of investments... in excess of $380 billion," Adel al-Jubeir told reporters.

    The US president himself has only briefly commented on his first day in the Saudi Arabian capital. He said the deals he had inked would lead to "tremendous investments" in the US, and create "jobs, jobs, jobs," as quoted by AP.

    Reports of Washington and Riyadh engaging in talks over multi-billion arms deals emerged earlier in May.

    The arms package includes a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system from Lockheed Martin
    , similar to the one being made operational in South Korea, which costs around $1 billion, Reuters reported earlier, citing unnamed sources within the administration.

    A software system, a package of satellite capabilities, as well as fighting and artillery vehicles
    are also reportedly part of the negotiations. More than $1 billion worth of munitions, including armor-piercing Penetrator Warheads and Paveway laser-guided bombs made by Raytheon, might also be included in the package.

    International human rights organizations have been voicing concerns over Saudi-led coalition attacks in Yemen, where Riyadh is fighting against Houthi rebels and supporters of the former Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who are allegedly backed by Iran.

    Human Rights Watch says the coalition headed by Riyadh has violated the rules of war, with some of its military action likely amounting to war crimes, including attacks on hospitals, markets, schools, and religious centers.

    In the last month of his term in office, former President Barack Obama halted the sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia over concerns that the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) was targeting civilians in Yemen.


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    Shah Salman Gifts Items To Trump Worth $1.2 Billion


    During his first visit to kingdom, US President Donald Trump received gifts from Saudi King Shah Salman with worth of $1.2 billion, reported Nawa-e-Waqt.

    According to details, the gifts given by Saudi King included a precious diamond, armband made of pure gold with King Salman's photo imprinted on it and 25 kilogram heavy sword made of pure gold with different diamonds and stones on it. The sword is worth of $200 million.

    Furthermore, gold and diamond made watches, worth of $200 million, were also gifted to Trump and his family.

    A small replica of Statue of Liberty but made with gold, diamond and precious stones will also be sent to White House soon.

    Meanwhile, one of the major roads in Riyadh has also been named after Trump.

    A 125 meter long yacht, which is world's tallest personal yacht as it has 80 rooms with 20 royal suits, will also be sent through US navy to America.

    No US President has received these kinds of gifts before by Saudi Kingdom.



    Muslims and especially Arabs in the Middle East are starving and eating from trash while he does this…

    Narrated Talhah ibn Malik:

    Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, "One of the signs of the approach of the last hour will be the destruction of the Arabs." [Tirmidhi]

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    Trump's Washington DC hotel received $270,000 from Saudi Arabia

    Mr Trump recently visited the Middle Eastern Kingdom

    Donald Trump’s flagship hotel in the nation’s capital has received more than $270,000 in payments from a lobbying firm tried to Saudi Arabia, as the country seeks to overturn a US anti-terrorism law.

    Newly filed lobbying reports reveal that the Trump International Hotel, located barely a stone’s throw from the White House, received the money from Qorvis MSLGroup. The payments were for hotel rooms and catering services for dozens of US veterans who the lobbying firm retained as part of a campaign to influence politicians.

    The Daily Caller said 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.

    The website said the payments were just part of a huge effort by the Saudi authorities to lobby against the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA.

    Last year, over repeated opposition from Barack Obama’s government, the US Congress passed a bill that would allow families of the victims of the September 11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for any alleged role in the plot.

    A total of 15 of the hijackers who targeted New York and Washington were Saudi citizens, though the country has denied any such role in the events and has threatened to hit back financially at any prosecutions. It is lobbying to ease the law’s provisions.

    In a statement issued by the Trump Organisation, officials said they would donate any profits from the transactions at the end of the year.

    Critics of Mr Trump’s refusal to establish a blind trust for his economic assets, believe the disclosure of Saudi spending will spark fresh debate about his decision retain ownership of his real-estate and branding empire.

    Last month, Mr Trump visited Saudi Arabia, the first stop on the first foreign trip of his presidency, where he delivered a keynote address to representatives of more than 50 nations in which he spoke of the need to confront terrorism.

    Before he took office, Mr Trump pledged to donate foreign profits from his hotels to the US Treasury. However, reports say the Trump Organisation is not trying to comprehensively identify all foreign profits to its hotel business, according to a company policy document recently provided to the House Oversight Committee.

    “To fully and completely identify all patronage at our properties by customer type is impractical in the service industry and putting forth a policy that requires all guests to identify themselves would impede upon personal privacy and diminish the guest experience of our brand,” the Trump Organisation’s document said


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    Trump Criticizes Qatar's Funding Of Terror ... Days Later Signs A $12 Billion Arms Deal

    This has to be one of the president's quickest flips yet.


    US and Qatar seal $12bn deal for F-15 fighter jets

    Contract is the latest in a series of mixed messages from the US as it attempts to navigate the Gulf diplomatic crisis.

    The United States and Qatar have signed a deal for the purchase of F-15 fighter jets with an initial cost of $12bn, as the US administration attempts to navigate an ongoing diplomatic crisis in the Gulf.

    The aircraft purchase was completed by Qatari Minister of Defence Khalid Al Attiyah and his US counterpart Jim Mattis in Washington DC on Wednesday, according to Qatar News Agency (QNA).

    Attiyah said the agreement underscores the "longstanding commitment of the state of Qatar in jointly working with our friends and allies in the United States in advancing our military cooperation for closer strategic collaboration in our fight to counter violent extremism and promote peace and stability in our region and beyond".

    The deal is "yet another step in advancing our strategic and cooperative defence relationship with the United States, and we look forward to continuing our joint military efforts with our partners here in the US", said Attiyah.

    The sale "will give Qatar a state-of-the-art capability and increase security cooperation and interoperability between the United States and Qatar", the Defence Department said in a statement.

    The weapon transfer comes just weeks after President Donald Trump signed a deal with Saudi Arabia for almost $110bn in US arms.

    It also comes amid a diplomatic row between a Saudi-led bloc of nations and Qatar.

    Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain and a number of other countries severed relations with Qatar earlier this month, accusing it of supporting armed groups and Iran - allegations Qatar has repeatedly rejected.

    Riyadh also closed its border with Qatar, the only land border the emirate has. In addition, the closure of Saudi, Bahraini, and Emirati airspace to Qatar-owned flights has caused major import and travel disruptions.

    As the Saudi-led bloc moved against Qatar, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's attempts to remain neutral were overshadowed by a series of heavy-handed tweets from Trump, in which he accused Qatar of supporting "terror".

    The US stance amid the Gulf's diplomatic rift was thrown into further confusion last week when Tillerson called on Saudi Arabia to ease the blockade on Qatar.

    The US' top diplomat has since attempted to mediate between the two sides, and on Tuesday the State Department said efforts to resolve the crisis were "trending in a positive direction".

    On Wednesday, Rex Tillerson - in testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Relations - said it was problematic to list the entirety of the Muslim Brotherhood - one of the "extremist" groups the Saudi-led block has accused Qatar of supporting - as "terrorists".
    US Navy vessels arrive in Qatar

    In another development, two US Navy vessels arrived in Doha on Wednesday for a joint exercise with Qatar's fleet.

    The American boats arrived at Hamad Port south of Doha "to participate in a joint exercise with the Qatari Emiri Navy," according to a Ministry of Defence statement posted on QNA.

    The crews of the two vessels were received by Qatari navy officers.

    It was unclear if the arrival of the two warships was planned before the Gulf rift or if was a sign of support from the Pentagon.

    Qatar hosts the biggest US military base in the Middle East with 11,000 troops deployed to or assigned to Al-Udeid Air Base. More than 100 aircraft operate from there.



    He's making a fool out of those stupid arabs. He tells them to boycott Qatar and he turns around and sells Qatar this. What is really going on is that US is selling billions worth of old weapons to these nations to fight each other and kill each other off while US makes profits and gets rid of that population, much like how it did with Iraq-Iraq 10 year war.

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    Saudi king names son as new crown prince, upending the royal succession line

    By Sudarsan Raghavan and Kareem Fahim
    June 21 at 4:06 PM

    CAIRO — Saudi Arabia’s King Salman elevated his 31-year-old son Wednesday to become crown prince, ousting his nephew in a seismic shift in the royal succession line that could have deep ramifications for the oil-rich monarchy and the broader Middle East.

    Since Prince Mohammed bin Salman emerged from obscurity two years ago, his impact has been widely felt in Saudi Arabia and across the region. He is seen as a modernizer of his hidebound kingdom and a champion of its frustrated youth. But he is also a muscular advocate for Saudi Arabia’s regional dominance who has nudged the country toward bitter feuds with neighbors, as well as a destructive civil war in Yemen.

    Because of his youth — and his father’s age (81) — the new crown prince is poised to play a pivotal role in forging the policy and identity of this key U.S. ally and the Arab world’s largest economy. But he also faces numerous obstacles in implementing his vision for a new Saudi Arabia, analysts said.

    On Wednesday, after a flurry of royal decrees, he replaced former crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was also relieved of his influential position as interior minister overseeing security and counterterrorism operations. The new crown prince will become the kingdom’s deputy prime minister while retaining his control of the Defense Ministry and other portfolios.

    The surprise announcement marks the first time since Saudi Arabia’s first ruler, King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, that a Saudi monarch has designated his son rather than a brother as his heir apparent. And it is only the second time since the kingdom was founded in 1932 that a grandson of Ibn Saud has been named crown prince — and its potential future king. The move also consolidates power within King Salman’s family, while weakening the influence of the families of his brothers and their sons.

    “The reshuffle marks the first real test of the ruling Al Saud family’s ability to manage the inevitable generational shift from the sons of Ibn Saud, to his grandsons,” said Torbjorn Soltvedt, a Middle East analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, a global risk consulting firm, in a statement.

    The change arrives at a critical time for the Sunni Muslim kingdom as it grapples with the economic fallout from declining oil prices and a costly military campaign it leads against Shiite rebels in neighboring Yemen. The kingdom also is heading a bloc of Arab nations that has begun a controversial campaign to isolate the tiny Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, accusing it of supporting and financing terrorism.

    The White House said President Trump congratulated the new crown prince in a phone call Wednesday and “discussed the priority of cutting off all support for terrorists.” It said they also talked about how to resolve the dispute with Qatar and achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace.

    The ascension of Mohammed bin Salman, along with other recent appointments by his father, completes a shift to a younger generation of leaders within the ruling family, one that could usher in economic and social change to a nation where it is still illegal for women to drive, where cinemas are banned and coffee shops are segregated. The young prince already is promoting a plan to create jobs for women and modernize a society in which nearly two-thirds of the population is younger than 30 and women make up 22 percent of the workforce.

    “We’ve seen the shift of power coming for some time, and the steady centralization of power under King Salman and the purview of his son,” said Kristin Smith Diwan, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf State Institute in Washington.

    Even as deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman — popularly known as MBS — was given immense powers by his father. As defense minister, he runs the Saudi campaign in Yemen. As the head of an economic council, he has overseen efforts to revamp the kingdom’s energy policies and build a diverse economy that will sustain itself long after its oil reserves are gone.

    Most members of the Saudi royal family supported the prince’s ascension, erasing any remote fear of a challenge to the new crown prince. Mohammed bin Nayef himself publicly pledged his loyalty to the new crown prince in a televised, well-choreographed moment.

    The crown prince’s rise, some analysts said, has been in the works for several months. A series of decrees in April propelled young royals in their 30s into influential diplomatic and national security positions, while undermining Nayef’s power. Together, they represent a generational makeover of a system once dominated by much older and more experienced royals.

    “This new generation’s loyalty is by all accounts to the rising prince,” wrote Joseph Bahout, an analyst at the Carnegie Institute’s Middle East Program, in a May post.

    Ever since his father came to power in January 2015, Mohammed bin Salman has been brash, outspoken and ambitious. Unlike many Saudi princes who attended elite Western universities, the crown prince was educated in Saudi Arabia and does not speak fluent English. He favors wearing sandals over loafers. But his homegrown credentials have made him popular among many Saudis, especially younger ones.

    “He is said to allow his views to be challenged — but does not change them,” wrote Simon Henderson, a Middle East expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on the group’s website. “His greatest strength, or weakness, may be his ruthlessness.”

    Today, he has the ear of his father and the kingdom’s business community.

    In 2016, he introduced a post-petrodollar plan that included selling off some of the oil giant Saudi Aramco and creating a sovereign wealth fund to rival those of neighboring Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. But the blueprint also brought complaints from a society accustomed to cradle-to-grave largesse from the Saudi state. Among the belt-tightening measures was a cut in subsidies for gasoline and electricity.

    The crown prince is the main driver behind Vision 2030, a far-reaching blueprint to overhaul the Saudi economy and society, centered around live concerts, arts festivals and other forms of Western-style entertainment. But such efforts have also brought complaints from conservative Saudis.

    Regionally, said Diwan, the crown prince’s rise almost certainly means the continuation of “a more assertive Saudi policy abroad and a strong alliance with the UAE in pursuing those policies.” Both have shared goals of rolling back Iranian influence and taking stronger action against independent political Islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

    The crown prince is already the kingdom’s primary liaison with the Trump administration, and his ascension is widely expected to improve ties with Washington. Relations were strained under President Barack Obama over Iran and a 2015 nuclear deal.

    In Yemen, the crown prince is the architect of Saudi Arabia’s faltering and bloody military intervention that has led to thousands of civilian deaths. The kingdom’s hard-line stance on Qatar, which the new crown prince backs
    , is also becoming a point of tension with Washington.

    Meanwhile, the prince has been courting Russia, sensing an opportunity to use oil diplomacy to lure Moscow away from Iran.

    And assessments of the crown prince as a “reformer,” by the kingdom’s standards, did not mean that he would deviate from policies that have been condemned by human rights advocates as brutal, including mass executions.

    “The reality is Prince Mohammed has stood alongside and publicly defended the king as young men have been tortured and executed for peacefully protesting,” said Maya Foa, director of Reprieve, an international human rights group.

    The Saudis appointed " ... Prince Khaled, 28, the crown prince’s younger brother, [as] ambassador to the United States!"


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    Saudi prince reveals ‘US conditions’ for Mohamed Bin Salman to be king

    June 24, 2017

    Saudi Prince Khalid Bin Farhan al-Saud, who lives in Germany, has revealed what he claims are the US conditions for helping Mohamed Bin Salman to become King of Saudi Arabia before his father’s death, thenewkhalij.org reported on Friday.

    Writing on Twitter, Khalid said that he had received the information from an informed source within Saudi Arabia’s ruling family.

    The alleged conditions include “absolute obedience to the US and Israel and carrying out whatever they ask him to do.” Three other conditions, claimed Khalid, are stated in return for helping Bin Salman take the throne before the death of his father: “Working to settle all Gaza residents in north Sinai as an alternative homeland and Saudi Arabia along with the UAE will afford the needed funds; getting rid of Hamas and whoever supports it; and getting Sanafir Island from Egypt.”

    Bin Farhan said that the last condition would make the Gulf of Aqaba international waters instead of Egyptian territorial waters, which would facilitate Israeli shipping to and from the port of Eilat. It would also help Israel to carry out a project planned to operate in parallel to the Suez Canal. A retainer of around $500 million is also involved, he claimed.

    The prince said that this issue split the ruling family even before the death of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz in 2015, as a wave of royal decrees ousted several officials from within the royal family and others.



    US diplomat: New Saudi crown prince is Israel’s ‘dream come true’

    July 4, 2017

    An American diplomat said that appointing Mohammed Bin Salman as crown prince of Saudi Arabia was like a “dream come true for Israel”, Haaretz reported.

    The former US Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, said that the appointment of Bin Salman opens an unprecedented opportunity for Israel to improve its regional position and supports it in facing its strategic and security challenges.

    Shapiro restated the fact that Bin Salman sees a link between Saudi Arabia and Israel’s interests and threats which will allow Tel Aviv to benefit.

    Bin Salman’s hatred of groups, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, and his efforts to confront Iran led him to certain regional alliances, the former US envoy said. It is for this reason that Bin Salman has built strong relations with both the UAE and Egypt.

    “This development could lead to the formation of an axis that includes the United States, the Sunni Arab states and Israel since they share common strategic interests and are prepared to confront extremist forces in the region,” he added.

    Shapiro, who has also served as an adviser to President Barack Obama on Gulf affairs, urged both Riyadh and Tel Aviv to “use a wise diplomacy in order to achieve greater returns regarding the relationship between the two sides and reduce the damage that could result from the political reality in the region.”

    Bin Salman will be ready for a complete normalisation with Israel within the framework of the implementation of the Arab Initiative, Shapiro explained.

    Former Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef “is known for being a reliable and trusted partner of the United States in its war on terror,” Shapiro explained, adding that his problem is that he is “a hesitant conservative who cannot adopt real social and economic reforms.”

    Saudi should however be careful and not allow the new crown prince to drag it into unnecessary regional conflicts. Shapiro warned that the policies of Bin Salman may harm “American interests”, saying that the escalation of the crisis with Qatar “has already caused damage to Washington”.

    It is for this reason, Shapiro said, that the US may issue a strong warning to Bin Salman to stop him from taking steps that “harm the interests of the United States”.


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    Saudi Arabia: The coming civil war

    27 July 2017

    In the face of irresponsible government policies, an increasing number of Saudi nationals and foreign workers are confronted with unprecedented economic hardship. They won't stay quiet much longer

    JEDDAH - The vibrant Saudi city and the country's economic hub. Well, not anymore. It feels a bit like a ghost city these days. Things don't look as glamorous and promising as they once were.

    This is not a city-specific condition though. Businesses across the country are struggling to meet their financial obligations. These include their fixed and operational costs such as salaries, rents, and the ever-increasing government fees and requirements.

    The labour market

    The government sees the foreigners working in the Saudi labour market as a legitimate source of continuous extraction of income. According to a Banque Saudi Fransi report released in July and reported about in Saudi media, there are an estimated 11.7 million foreigners in Saudi Arabia, 7.4 million of whom work and the remaining 4.3 millions who are companions.

    On 1 July, authorities began collecting fees from companions when they renewed their ID cards, a residence permit renewed annually. Companions will now pay 100 riyals ($26.66) each month. By 2020, according to the bank, that figure will rise to 400 riyals ($106.66) and are expected to generate $20bn for public coffers.

    It seems as if the policymakers in decision circles fail to see beyond the face value of their initiatives. Yes, these new fees may raise direct revenues, but they will also destroy the country's entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized businesses. These enterprises operate on very limited budgets and resources. So instead of supporting this already struggling sector, these new regulations will only squeeze them further.

    For that reason, many employers have responded by transferring these newly adopted fees onto their employees and labourers. Consequently, the vast majority of foreign workers now have to pay these newly introduced fees from their own earnings. Instead of paying, in the weeks after the law was introduced, tens of thousands have fled the country, and more will follow.

    As a result, the labour market is shrinking by the day while the costs of labour work and services skyrocket. The prices of many good and services provided by the impacted businesses will also rise.
    Remember: all this is happening in an economy that is already shrinking.
    Saudi purchasing power

    These mounting, excessive pressures on the small and medium-sized businesses will lead many of them to go bust at a time when Saudis' purchasing power is already at its lowest in decades and worsening.

    In a 2016 report, the Jeddah-based National Commerical Bank stated that in February 2015, "cash withdrawals declined by 13.3 percent [year on year], point of sale transaction value retreated by 9.0 percent annually, the largest decline since 2009".
    They added: “We do believe that lower disposable income from the hikes in energy and water prices in addition to the negative wealth effects from the back-to-back annual declines in Tadawul [Saudi Stock Exchange] will weaken consumption expenditure...”
    The report also said that total deposits in the Saudi banking system in 2015 grew by 1.9 percent, "the weakest since the Gulf war".

    "Saudi banks primarily rely on deposits to expand their balance sheets by extending credit lines to the private and public sectors. Consequently, total claims of the banking system, including [treasury] bills and government bonds, decelerated to 8.9 percent [year on year] for 2015," the report states.

    Note that this report was published in 2016. Most of the surge in the prices of water and energy and the new government fees had not taken effect by then. But when their impact starts to be felt this year and early into next year, Saudi medium and small businesses - which make up almost 90 percent of all business enterprises in the kingdom - will likely be further devastated.

    The Saudi economy still hasn't reached bottom yet. There is still some way to go for things to get even worse. For example, there are rumours that the government, after having officially frozen new hirings in the public sector, is seriously considering redundancy for tens of thousands of government employees.

    So besides the psychological and financial shocks of the severe and sudden reverse growth, now even more families will slip into poverty as a result of mass unemployment.
    The government's spending behaviour

    The public in Saudi Arabia no longer seems to perceive the government as part of the solution. Instead, they feel a sense of betrayal by their government. The kingdom's sudden, intensive and very committed rush to drain the economy is ruining its legitimacy. The Saudi government is facing a serious credibility crisis that will need significant work in the coming months and years to overcome.

    The unpopularity and widespread rejection of the 2030 Vision - the economic reform programme introduced by Mohammed bin Salman last year - is a case in point. People are waking up to a harsh, unexpected reality and are astonished to find that their government - which was supposed to be looking after their interests - is actually behaving in a rather strange and irresponsible way right in the middle of an economic crisis and a war of attrition in Yemen.

    During US President Donald Trump's recent visit to the kingdom, the government signed an agreement worth $350bn over 10 years, deals which the Saudi public widely perceived as humiliating. The government has promised even more deals to come. It has also provided Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government with billions of dollars in fuel, cash and other grants.
    Public anger is mounting and no one really knows when it will reach a tipping point. Increasingly fed up with the government's spending behaviour, the public demands that the government fund badly needed national initiatives in regard to health, housing, and job creation.
    Internal chaos

    In the midst of all the mess, Saudi leaders continue to behave like conquerors in their own nation. They always pride themselves on taking control of the kingdom by sword (al-sawf al-amlah).

    This is an absolute monarchy which allows no room for any deviation from official opinion or position - including expressing sympathy with a cause the government doesn't approve or a country it doesn't like such as Qatar.

    For example, if any Saudi citizen is found guilty of sympathising with the position of the state of Qatar in the recent diplomatic conflict, they could face a prison sentence of up to 15 years and up to half a million dollars in fines. What kind of regime in its right mind would even consider such political expression or solidarity a crime, let alone punish it so harshly?

    Obviously, the law has generated a wave of mockery in social media platforms. But the point here is that the government is out of touch with reality and fails to sense how frustrated the people are with its attitudes and behaviours.

    Moreover, the government has marginalised the local sub-cultures of every region in Saudi except that of Najd, where the ruling Al-Saud family come from. They abolished regional traditional dress and forced everyone to adopt the Najdi dress as the formal state uniform.

    Civil servants in Saudi Arabia must adhere to this national dress code and cannot wear their local regional dresses at work. Saudis must wear the ‘formal’ Najdi dress when taking photos for their national ID card and passports or else they will not be issued.
    Imagine that: people cannot wear the regional traditional dress of, say, Aseer or Hijaz, but must wear the dress of the victorious family. This is how you treat a defeated enemy, not your own people.
    The civil war scenario

    Now for a civil war to emerge, it only needs a spark. I am not in the business of promoting its outbreak. To the contrary, I am writing this as a wake-up call.

    So what's different here, some may ask? Economic hardship is not necessarily the determining factor that motivates people to stand up against their government. There are tens and possibly hundreds of countries around the world with worse economic situations than Saudi Arabia. Look at Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America or many other places where coercive governments continue to exist regardless of bad economic realities.

    Well, it is slightly different in Saudi Arabia. Imagine if you have a family home, one that you were only able to buy after many long years of hard work. You have lived there for generations and, suddenly, you're about to lose it. How would that make you - or anyone else for that matter - feel?

    Imagine the disappointment: your family slips into poverty and homelessness after having thought for decades that they had escaped it for good. For individuals, it would be easy to imagine that this could make some go insane or even become suicidal while others would have to start over from scratch.

    For Saudi society as a whole, however, this can only mean one thing: revolution. When people lose everything they have, their only response is to hit the streets in frustration.

    Aside from the sudden loss of wealth, Saudi Arabia’s other difference lies in the fact that the poor in the kingdom, and largely the rest of the population, are concentrated in cities. As such, they do not suffer from the structural barriers to effective activism that the poor in other third-world countries face.

    Just as poor Tunisians and Egyptians showed in their countries' revolutions, Saudi's poor enjoy solid communication infrastructure and are well-connected geographically and can, therefore, pretty easily organise and assemble.

    Another important factor is money in Saudi politics which has always been an instrument to extend influence and promote stability through internal spending on employment and construction contracts. The drying up of liquidity will, therefore, further destabilise in the kingdom in the near future.

    The socio-economic factors are in place. Economic activity is retreating in size. The government's mistreatment of the population in terms identity rights and other liberties further escalates the drive towards a dead end. The compounding effect of all these factors coming together can only, overtime, mount to a revolution.

    It will only take a few thousands to take their anger to the streets and for the security forces to respond with aggression for things to slip into what could be characterised as the initial phases of a civil war.

    Think of Libya and Syria in this context. During the Arab Spring, the brutal dictatorships in the two countries responded with excessive force when protesters demanded regime change. This usually leads to disobedience among some of the security forces and, overtime, large factions defected. This is how the Free Syrian Army was created.

    Once that happens, the country is open to outside interference. Bottom line: it is much more sensible for the Saudi government to act now and contain public anger before it bursts.
    Policy implications

    The only way out for the government is political openness. This is no longer an ethical choice, but increasingly a political survival strategy.

    An open, transparent, effective and elected legislature is needed for the political distribution of responsibility. People, as voters, will have their share of responsibility and so will their representatives in the formation and outcome of policies. This should ease some of the internal pressures and tensions that the Saudi government faces today.

    Moreover, the government should allow free expression. It is not only a human right, but also a human need. Psychologically, people in all contexts need to be able to freely speak their minds and naturally feel relieved when they do. It makes them feel relevant and valued when they can have their say in matters of public concern. It would have the added benefit of giving the public a new and positive impression their government is finally busy with more important issues than worrying about policing their mouths.

    All in all, Saudi Arabia is at a defining phase of its history. It can either modernise and survive or resist and fade. Economic modernisation is unattainable in the absence of public scrutiny and accountability because, in the shadows, the motives for corruption and mismanagement override public interest.

    In times like these, when the country's finances are overstretched, greater public inclusion in the decision-making process is no longer a luxury, but a necessity if leaders want to contain public anger and seize an opportunity.

    Socioeconomic factors fuel hostility towards the government. The cure is good governance. Any delays in adopting this "cure" will only make the worst-case scenario the inevitable outcome.


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    US assassinated first Pakistani prime minister: State Department documents

    Apr 17, 2015

    The United States assassinated Pakistan’s first prime minister, Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, more than sixty years ago, according to US State Department documents.

    Quoting the declassified State Department documents, Pakistan Today reported on Friday that Khan was murdered because of his refusal to use his office for securing oil contracts in neighboring Iran for US corporations.

    According to the report, Khan said he would neither use his friendship with officials in Tehran for dishonest purposes nor interfere in personal affairs of Iran.

    In addition, Khan also called on Washington to vacate air bases in Pakistan which the United States was using against the Soviet Union, upon which then-US President Harry S. Truman threatened the PM with dire consequences.

    According to the documents, following these developments, the CIA began to search for an assassin to kill Khan. They could not find a suitable shooter in Pakistan and then turned to Afghanistan for this purpose.

    The Afghan government of King Mohammed Zahir Shah had finally found a man, named Syed Akbar, to take the task and also made arrangements for him to be killed.

    Akbar fired two shots at Khan when he had just started his speech at Company Bagh (Company Garden) in Rawalpindi on October 16, 1951.

    Khan was shot in the chest and rushed to a local hospital and given a blood transfusion, but the 56-year-old succumbed to his injuries. The assassin was also immediately shot dead.

    The bullets used to assassinate Khan, one of the founding fathers of modern Pakistan, were used by high-ranking US military officers and were not usually available in the market, the report concluded.



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