From A Concert In Las Vegas To A Funeral In Yemen

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By Medea Benjamin. While Americans are mourning the mass shooting in Las Vegas that so tragically took the lives of over 50 concert-goers, people in Yemen will be marking the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that took the lives of over 140 people who were not at a concert, but a funeral. The Las Vegas carnage was a crime against humanity carried out by what seems to be a crazed lone wolf. The bombing of the funeral home in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, was a war crime carried out by a close US ally, Saudi Arabia, with the indispensable help of the United States.

Left-Right Alliance Against U.S.-Saudi War On Yemen

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By Staff of IPA – Katrina vanden Heuvel just wrote the piece “Congress’s War Powers Must Be Made a Reality” in the Washington Post. She writes: “What does it take to get Congress to act on vital questions of war and peace? The catastrophe in Yemen may test whether Congress is finally prepared to exercise its constitutional responsibility. Four legislators — two House Democrats and two Republicans — have introduced a resolutionunder the War Powers Act demanding a vote in 15 days to end U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabia’s devastation of Yemen. “The resolution, co-sponsored by Democrats Ro Khanna and Mark Pocan (the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus) and by Republicans Thomas Massie and Walter Jones, requires the ‘removal’ of U.S. forces from the war in Yemen unless Congress votes to authorize American involvement. Beginning under President Barack Obama, the U.S. military has assisted the Saudi campaign in Yemen…“As lead co-sponsor Khanna (D-Calif.) argues, the war powers resolution is long overdue: ‘Congress and the American people know too little about the role we are playing in a war that is causing suffering for millions of people and is a genuine threat to our national security.’“The resolution will force Congress to debate this truly deplorable policy that has implicated the United States in Saudi war crimes while fueling the spread of terrorism.”

University of New Haven & Saudi Police Make Strange Bedfellows

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By Samayia Taylor for Popular Resistance. In the US, college students are just arriving on their campuses- some for the first time- ready to start the new academic year. They have a wide range of interests and goals, from bringing about the latest medical breakthrough to wanting to change U.S. foreign policy. Some may even want to become President. One thing they all have in common though, is that they have just entered a time in their lives where they will explore, learn, and- most importantly- be able to express themselves. At the same time as millions of American college students begin to express their newfound views, people their age on the other side of the world are forced into silence. In Saudi Arabia, alternative political views are crushed by an oppressive regime that stamps out even the slightest form of dissent. These two seemingly opposite worlds, the United States and Saudi Arabia, have a disturbing new connection.

Lawmakers Demand U.S. Withdrawal From Saudi-Led War In Yemen

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By Dan De Luce for Foreign Policy – Four lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan bill that would halt U.S. military assistance to the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen on grounds that Congress has never approved the American role in the war. Two House Republicans and two Democrats submitted the bill on Wednesday evening, but other lawmakers have already conveyed their support for the measure, congressional aides told Foreign Policy. The bill requires “the removal” of U.S. forces from the war in Yemen unless and until Congress votes to authorize the American assistance. For more than two years, the United States military has provided aerial refueling tankers and intelligence to the Saudi-led coalition waging war against Houthi rebels backed by Iran. “We aim to restore Congress as the constitutionally mandated branch of government that may declare war and retain oversight over it,” two sponsors, Democrats Rep. Ro Khanna of California and Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, wrote in a letter to colleagues that was obtained by FP. Although the bipartisan bill is unlikely to secure a majority in the House, it underscores growing concerns over Saudi Arabia’s handling of the war that is now at a stalemate on the battlefield. And it reflects growing unease at Congress over the U.S. role there, following previous attempts by lawmakers this year to rein in arms sales or other military assistance to Saudi Arabia…

Saudi Women Behind The Wheel, But Not In Driver’s Seat

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By Medea Benjamin. It looks like 27 years of protesting, along with international pressure and government recognition that it needs more Saudi women in the workforce, has finally paid off. In a royal decree, Saudi King Salman announced on September 26 that Saudi women, who have been the only women in the world banned from driving, will have that right as of June 2018. The move brings the Saudi Arabia a step closer to joining the 21st century, but Saudi women remain shackled by extreme gender segregation and a guardianship system that is a form of gender apartheid. The ban on driving, along with the general lack of reliable and safe public transportation, has had a terrible impact on middle class and poor Saudi women who cannot afford their own personal drivers.

At Every Door

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By Kathy Kelly for Dissident Voice. On July 18, 2017, at a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing focused on “The Four Famines: Root Causes and a Multilateral Action Plan,” Republican Senator Todd Young, a former Marine, asked officials present if ongoing war in Yemen could fail to exacerbate the catastrophe developing there – one of four countries, along with Southern Sudan, Nigeria, and Somalia, set to collectively lose 20 million people this year, one third the death toll of WWII, from conflict-driven famine. Yemen is being bombarded and blockaded, using US-supplied weapons and vehicles, by a local coalition marshaled by U.S. client state Saudi Arabia. Yemen’s near-famine conditions, with attendant cholera outbreak, are so dire that in Yemen it is estimated a child dies every 10 minutes of preventable disease.

Tillerson Present For Major Exxon Deal With Saudi Arabia

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By Steve Horn for Desmog – During his recent trip to Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump announced an array of economic agreements between the U.S.and the Middle Eastern kingdom, saying it would usher in “jobs, jobs, jobs” for both oil-producing powerhouses. While the $350 billion, 10-year arms deal garnered most headlines, a lesser-noticed agreement was also signed between ExxonMobil and the state-owned Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) to study a proposed co-owned natural gas refinery in the Gulf of Mexico. Under the deal, signed at the Saudi-U.S. CEO Forum, the two companies would “conduct a detailed study of the proposed Gulf Coast Growth Ventures project in Texas and begin planning for front-end engineering and design work” for the 1,300-acre, $10 billion plant set to be located near Corpus Christi, Texas, according to an ExxonMobil press release. In addition, ExxonMobil’s press release for the agreement mentions that Darren Woods, the company’s CEO, was in the room for the signing of the pact alongside ExxonMobil Saudi Arabia CEO Philippe Ducom and SABIC executives. Missing from that release: After the forum ended, Woods went to the Al-Yamamah Palace for an agreement-signing ceremony attended by both President Trump and recently retired ExxonMobil CEO and current U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.

Islamic State: The Genesis Of A Sectarian Frankenstein

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By Nauman Sadiq. Looking at the Islamic State’s astounding gains in Syria and Iraq in 2014, a question arises that where does its recruits get all the training and state-of-the-art weapons that are imperative not only for hit-and-run guerrilla warfare but also for capturing and holding large swathes of territory? The Syria experts of foreign policy think tanks also seem to be quite “worried” these days that where do the Islamic State’s jihadists get all the sophisticated weapons and especially those fancy Toyota pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns at the back, colloquially known as “the Technicals” amongst jihadists? According to a revelatory December 2013 news report [2] from a newspaper affiliated with the UAE government which supports the Syrian opposition: it is clearly mentioned that along with AK-47s, RPGs and other military gear, the Saudi regime also provides machine gun-mounted Toyota pick-up trucks to every batch of five jihadists who have completed their training in the training camps located at the border regions of Jordan.

Why Were the Saudi Streets So Quiet?

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By Medea Benjamin. With the world’s media focused on President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, it’s curious that the streets of Riyadh were so empty. Unlike most of Trump’s public appearances, there was not a protester in sight. While Mexicans pour out on the streets to protest Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, bashing Trump piñatas and burning U.S. flags, there was nary a Saudi protester chanting “Trump: Go home.” In this very religious country, no one seemed interested in demonstrating opposition to Trump’s derogatory comments about Islam nor his attempts to impose a Muslim ban back home. Saudi women could have used the occasion to push for their rights. They could have put out a national call saying that as soon as Trump began to speak, women should walk out of their homes with their heads uncovered and dressed as they pleased, just like Melania and Ivanka Trump.

There’s Less Than Meets The Eye In Trump’s Saudi Arms Deal

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By William D. Hartung for Defense One – Donald J. Trump may be unpredictable, but there is one common theme that runs throughout his presidency: a penchant for exaggerating his achievements. From his insistence that the crowd at his inauguration numbered over one million people to his claim to have rebuilt the military before his first budget was even announced, the president is perfectly comfortable claiming credit for things that have not, in fact, occurred. So it may be with the new arms deal with Saudi Arabia, pegged by the Trump administration as worth up to $110 billion. Many of the items mentioned as part of the package had already been offered to Riyadh during the Obama administration, including a Patriot missile defense system, Multi-mission Surface Combatants, attack and transport helicopters, and artillery systems. The value of these offers runs into the tens of billions of dollars. One item in the Trump package that is clearly new is the offer of a Lockheed Martin Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, a deal that could run into the billions depending on how many missiles are included and what kind of support systems are involved. But that leaves the administration a far distance from its $110 billion in claimed sales.

Trump And Cabinet Members 'Bust A Move' In Saudi Arabia

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By Press TV. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – US President Donald Trump joins a sword dance held in his honor in Saudi Arabia after signing Washington’s largest-ever single arms deal with Riyadh. He was accompanied at the Saturday jubilation by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. Trump arrived in the Saudi capital earlier in the day on the first leg of a nine-day overseas tour. Upon arrival and official reception, he proceeded to sign the $110-billion deal and other agreements amounting to $250 billion before joining the party. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir put the volume of the collective bilateral deals higher, saying they were worth more than $380 billion. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Twitter that the “defense agreement” was the “largest single arms deal in US history.”

Extremist Saudi Arabia In Partnership With Donald Trump

Trump flanked by the Blackstone CEO, Stephen Schwarzman, a Momentive investor and Trump’s ‘jobs czar’, and the General Motors CEO, Mary Barra. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

By Max Blumenthal for AlterNet – President Donald Trump’s nine-day-long “tolerance tour” will continue this Friday with a visit to Saudi Arabia. The junket offers Trump a brief respite from the suffocating atmosphere in Washington, where he faces a mounting campaign fueled by anonymous leaks from intelligence officials that is aimed at nothing less than his impeachment and replacement by a more supplicant Republican. Trump’s ties to Saudi Arabia run deep. During the campaign, even as Trump blamed the Saudi royal family for the 9/11 attacks, he registered eight companies connected to hotel interests in the kingdom. Once Trump was inaugurated, the Saudis returned the favor, paying for rooms at his Washington, D.C., hotel through Qorvis MSLGroup, a Beltway lobbying firm. The rooms were reserved for a group of veterans flown into town by Qorvis to lobby against the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) congressional legislation that would allow the bereaved family members of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government for its alleged role in the attacks. Many of the veterans had no idea they were acting on behalf of Saudi Arabia, and some, like Tim Cord, staged an open revolt when they realized they had been deceived.

10 Reasons Trump Should Not Strengthen U.S.-Saudi Ties

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By Medea Benjamin for “Information Clearing House” – Donald Trump has selected Saudi Arabia as the destination for his first trip abroad, strengthening U.S. ties to a regime that is fueling the very extremism, intolerance and violence that the US government purports to eradicate. Here’s 10 reasons why the United States should not be closely allied with the Saudi kingdom. The Saudis export an extremist interpretation of Islam, Wahhabism, around the globe. Over the past three decades, Saudi Arabia has spent about $4 billion per year on mosques, madrassas, preachers, students, and textbooks to spread Wahhabism and anti-Western sentiment. Let’s not forget that 15 of the 19 fanatical hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks were Saudis, as was Osama bin Laden himself. The Saudis fund terrorism worldwide. A Wikileaks-revealed 2009 cable quotes then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying, “Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide … More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Lashkar e-Tayyiba and other terrorist groups.” In Syria the Saudis are supporting the most extreme sectarian forces. And while the Saudi government condemns ISIS, many experts, including 9/11 Commission Report lead author Senator Bob Graham, believe that ISIS is a product of Saudi ideals, Saudi money and Saudi organizational support.

Women Beware: Saudi Arabia To Shape Global Standards For Women

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By Medea Benjamin. It’s hard to sink to a greater depth of hypocrisy than voting Saudi Arabia onto a UN Commission charged with promoting women’s equality and empowerment. And yet, on April 23rd, that is precisely what the UN Economic and Social Council did. Of the 54 countries on the Council, 47 of them agreed to add Saudi Arabia to a four-year term on the UN Commission on the Status of Women. How did the US Ambassador to the UN and the democratic champions of Europe vote? The ballot was secret, and is it any wonder that the UN representatives refuse to reveal their votes? What is undeniable, however, is that the Saudis could not have received 47 votes without support from the Western democracies. The Saudi regime is notorious for its abysmal treatment of women.

Syria Gas Attack Is Almost Certainly a ‘False Flag’

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By Gerry Condon for Popular Resistance. The chances that the Syrian military actually carried out the gas attack in northern Syria are pretty much ZERO. The Syrian government has absolutely nothing to gain from such an attack, and a lot to lose. They are steadily gaining more ground, and the terrorist groups are on the run. The Trump administration announced this week that it will not seek Assad’s ouster. Peace talks to end the war are about to resume. So who benefits from this horrific attack? The sources for the gas attack reports are the rebel forces, their own media, and the “White Helmets,” who are notorious for creating “regime change” propaganda against the Assad government. Famed investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has documented that the last large sarin attack blamed on the Syrian government was actually carried out by terrorist groups with the support of Turkey and Saudi Arabia.