Trump administration complicit in Saudi crimes: Report

            By Umar Farooq</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is complicit in the ongoing bombing campaign in Yemen led by Saudi Arabia, The Washington Post said Wednesday.</p>  <p>Trump recently vetoed a resolution aiming to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war, claiming it would weaken his status as commander-in-chief and that Washington's support for Saudi Arabia &quot;does not amount to engaging in hostilities&quot;.</p>  <p>&quot;In reality, the Saudi bombing campaign would be unsustainable without that U.S. support, or the continuing sale of bombs and other material,&quot; the Post's editorial board said in an opinion piece.</p>  <p>&quot;That makes the Trump administration complicit in the continuing atrocities, such as the latest school and hospital bombings,&quot; it said.</p>  <p> Since March 26, the Saudi-led coalition has bombed a hospital in the district of Kitaf and a school in the country's capital, Sanaa, according to the newspaper.</p>  <p>The strikes left at least 21 civilians dead, at least 12 of them children.</p>  <p>Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition against Yemen's Houthi rebels since 2015, when Riyadh and its Sunni-Arab allies launched a massive air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains that began in 2014.</p>  <p>The campaign has devastated Yemen’s infrastructure, including its health and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe it as one of the worst humanitarian disasters of modern times.</p>  <p>Last year, a UN investigation found that these attacks could possibly amount to war crimes.</p>  <p>      <p>The Post's editorial board noted that Congress needs to look for other ways to force a change in U.S. policy toward the government led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, “whose record of extraordinary recklessness in foreign policy has been matched by unprecedented domestic repression”.</p>  <p>It said the ideal approach would be to address both issues, which are intertwined, and this is the strategy of a bipartisan Senate bill. In addition to suspending arms transfers to the kingdom until it ends its campaign in Yemen, the bill seeks to force accountability for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist.</p>  <p>Khashoggi was murdered last October after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.</p>  <p>Saudi Arabia initially denied any knowledge of his whereabouts. But following a rising number of contradictions in its narrative, it sought to blame the journalist's death on a botched rendition operation being carried out by rogue agents.

"Handing a free pass to the crown prince after U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded he was responsible for the Khashoggi murder would be an invitation to further atrocities," it said.

The Post said that while the bill has a good chance of passing, the Republican leadership, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman James Risch, has not yet allowed a vote.

Saudi Arabia detains dual US-Saudi citizens: report

             By Umar Farooq</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - Saudi Arabia detained two dual U.S.-Saudi citizens as a part of their latest crackdown on activists and writers, according to The Washington Post.</p>  <p>The latest arrests occurred Thursday, including Salah al-Haidar and Bader al-Ibrahim, the newspaper reported.</p>  <p>Haider is the son of Aziza al-Yousef, who is a prominent women's rights activist in the country. Yousef was temporarily released from custody last week but she currently stands on trial for charges related to her activism work.</p>  <p>&quot;Haidar, Ibrahim and others arrested were part of a loose-knit group of writers and activists who were supportive of the women’s rights movement and other progressive causes but not considered to be especially visible or outspoken,&quot; the Post said.</p>  <p>The arrests come as a surprise to some because the government had promised to ease on the detentions, offering a sense of benevolence after releasing Yousef from prison.

Saudi embassy in Washington did not respond to Anadolu Agency's request for comment.

The detentions are a part of a larger crackdown by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, who has been targeting clerics, academics, writers, and activists, arresting hundreds since September 2017.

While bin Salman has seemed to have lifted restrictions on Saudi society, such as lifting the ban on women driving, at the same time he has tightened his rule by wiping out dissenting voices. This came to light on the international stage when Saudi agents killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October.

While the Saudi government said it was a botched rendition attempt, the CIA concluded with high confidence that the crown prince ordered the killing.

US has done nothing to address Khashoggi murder: Report

            By Umar Farooq</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - Six months after the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, U.S. President Donald Trump has still done nothing to hold those responsible accountable, The Washington Post said Monday.</p>  <p>In an opinion piece, the newspaper said it is widely believed that Khashoggi, a contributor to The Post, was murdered on the order of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Yet Bin Salman as well as the coordinator of the operation, Saud al-Qahtani, have enjoyed freedom from repercussions.</p>  <p>Last October, Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he was subsequently killed. After offering a series of changing narratives to explain what happened, the Saudi government eventually admitted he had died there but blamed the operation on a botched rendition attempt.</p>  <p>&quot;Now, half a year after this heinous act shocked the world, it is worth taking stock of what has been done in response — and what has not,&quot; The Post wrote.</p>  <p>&quot;Mohammed bin Salman has jetted around the world, high-fiving Russian President Vladimir Putin, getting chummy with China, and rubbing elbows with other world leaders as part of a global tour to rehabilitate his reputation,&quot; it said.</p>  <p>The newspaper, however, applauded efforts by the international community to condemn the murder and call for action to be taken. Some 36 countries had united at the UN Human Rights Council to condemn the killing and call on the Saudis to cooperate with the investigation being conducted by the UN.</p>  <p>Congress also offered its own rebuke, passing a resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition's war in Yemen and repeatedly investigated and criticized Washington's response to the murder.</p>  <p>Meanwhile, Trump has taken a far different approach, according to The Post. The president has shied away from criticizing the crown prince and taking any further action against the kingdom other than placing sanctions on the 17 individuals the Saudi government has said were responsible for the act.</p>  <p>&quot;In this impotent response, Trump isn’t just violating the law. He is also undermining the credibility and moral authority of the United States,&quot; the newspaper wrote.</p>  <p>&quot;Another six months cannot pass without accountability for this abhorrent crime. Justice for an innocent journalist — and America’s most crucial interests — require nothing less,” it added.

US rabbi attack ad calls Muslim lawmaker anti-Semite

             By Umar Farooq</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - An American rabbi purchased a full page advertisement in the Washington Post newspaper to attack congresswoman Ilhan Omar as anti-Semitic.</p>  <p>The ad, published on the opening day of the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference Sunday, attacked the Muslim lawmaker by directly comparing Omar's words with anti-Semitic language from the &quot;The International Jew,&quot; &quot;Protocols of the Elders of Zion&quot; and &quot;The White Man’s Bible&quot;.</p>  <p>Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who calls himself &quot;America's rabbi,&quot; took it to the AIPAC conference, where he presented it proudly, waving it at pro-Palestinian demonstrators protesting outside the Washington Convention Center.</p>  <p>The advertisement was posted days before Boteach will host top White House officials Thursday at a fundraising gala in Carnegie Hall.</p>  <p>The comparison was condemned by many on the left, including fellow Muslim congresswoman Rashida Tlaib.</p>  <p>&quot;This is a false ad that only serves to incite violence toward a Black Muslim woman. It’s fear-mongering and we need to stand together and say this type of hate should not have a place in our newspapers or society,&quot; Tlaib tweeted.</p>  <p>James Zogby, founder of the Arab American Institute, called the ad &quot;shameful&quot;.</p>  <p>&quot;This full page ad was in today’s @washpost. It’s shameful - based on lies, bigotry, &amp; fear. Who’s funding ⁦@RabbiShmuley⁩ slanderous campaign of incitement against ⁦@IlhanMN⁩? His 'gofundme' only raised $161. So who’s paying for this poison &amp; why did the Post run it?&quot; Zogby said on Twitter.</p>  <p>Earlier this month, Omar was attacked for comments she made criticizing Israel.</p>  <p>&quot;I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,&quot; Omar said, referring to Israel, at a progressive town hall meeting.</p>  <p>The remarks received widespread and bipartisan backlash, with others in Congress labeling them as anti-Semitic. It led to the introduction of a resolution by House Democrats seen as implicitly condemning the comments. However, the bill was later changed to condemn all forms of hate.</p>  <p>Omar has apologized for similar comments made, however, this time she doubled down on her comments, saying she has &quot;not mischaracterized our relationship with Israel. I have questioned it, and that has been clear from my end&quot;.</p>  <p>Over the weekend the congresswoman travelled to Los Angeles, where she addressed a fundraising event hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). </p>  <p>Outside the Woodland Hills Hilton, where the fundraiser was being held, 1,000 people from Jewish and conservative groups protested Omar's appearance, according to local reports.</p>  <p>She told a crowd of Muslims her &quot;choice of country to talk about is not based on my preference of country. It is based on what country is violating basic human rights, according to Los Angeles Daily News, indirectly referring to Israel. 

Saudi Arabia cannot restore global reputation: report

By Umar Farooq

WASHINGTON (AA) – Saudi Arabia should not be allowed to resume normal relations with the rest of the world until the kingdom "puts on more than a show of change" after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, The Washington Post's Editorial Board said in an opinion piece.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been widely criticized after the killing of Khashoggi, a contributor for The Post, in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. After the Saudi government initially denied responsibility, it switched its story a few times before blaming the murder on a botched rendition operation.

"The 33-year-old crown prince has suppressed real and perceived opponents with a brutality that is unprecedented in Saudi history, culminating in the murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi," the editorial board said Saturday.

The international community refused to accept the Saudis’ claim that the incident was not a premeditated murder.

Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, is leading an international inquiry into the killing of Khashoggi.

"The regime promised accountability for the Khashoggi killing, but in practice continues to stonewall," the board wrote. "Special rapporteur Agnes Callamard, this last week was denied access to the crime scene at the Saudi Consulate when she visited Istanbul."

The Post outlined the measures taken by the country to try and restore its international reputation, including the release of one of the most prominent businessman it detained, Amr Dabbagh, as well as staging an investment conference seeking $426 billion in private investment, and bringing in singer Mariah Carey to perform a concert.

"The objective here is clear: to resume normal commerce between Saudi Arabia and the democratic world, and attract desperately needed investment, without meaningful change in the regime controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It’s in the interest of the United States and its allies, as well as Saudi Arabia itself, that this strategy fail," the board wrote.

The Post said that in the midst of everything happening in Saudi Arabia, U.S. President Donald Trump seems to be fine with it. However, if Trump continues to normalize relations with the kingdom and bin Salman after the killing of Khashoggi, it will have "bad long-term consequences."

"Mohammed bin Salman’s apologists frequently speak of the need to preserve 'stability' in the kingdom. But it is unstable now, and becoming more so. The best way to foster genuine equilibrium is for Western governments, investors and entertainers to shun the regime until it puts on more than a show of change," the board wrote.

Russia offered DPRK nuclear plant in secret: report

             By Umar Farooq</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - Russian officials secretly offered North Korea a nuclear power plant to relieve deadlock negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.</p>  <p>U.S. officials told the newspaper Russia made the offer in exchange for North Korea dismantling its entire nuclear arsenal and facilities, a move that would allow Moscow to operate a nuclear facility in the Korean peninsula.</p>  <p>&quot;The Russians are very opportunistic when it comes to North Korea, and this is not the first time they’ve pursued an energy stake in Korea,&quot; Victor Cha, a former White House staffer told The Post.</p>  <p>The deal outlines that Russia would control and operate the plant, and also return all byproducts and waste to Moscow, which would alleviate the risk Pyongyang would use it to develop nuclear weapons.</p>  <p>The Post noted it is still unclear how U.S. President Donald Trump would react to such a deal, due to his unconventional approach to dealings with Russia.</p>  <p>After a months-long delay in negotiations, a second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was finally announced for the end of February.</p>  <p>&quot;Time will tell what will happen with North Korea, but at the end of the previous administration, relationship was horrendous and very bad things were about to happen. Now a whole different story,&quot; Trump said on Twitter on Wednesday. &quot;I look forward to seeing Kim Jong Un shortly. Progress being made-big difference!&quot;</p>  <p>However, a U.S. intelligence assessment released Tuesday refuted Trump's outlook on negotiations, saying that North Korea is &quot;unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities.&quot; 

Half of Americans have no confidence in Trump: poll

             By Umar Farooq</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - Forty-eight percent of Americans say that they have no confidence &quot;at all&quot; in U.S. President Donald Trump, according to a poll released Monday. </p>  <p>The poll by ABS News and The Washington Post suggested 64 percent of Americans do not have trust in Trump to make the right decisions for the country.</p>  <p>While the study found Trump was doing unfavorably amongst Americans, respondents showed they had little confidence in Democrats or Republicans in Congress.</p>  <p>Thirty-four percent have either a &quot;great deal&quot; or &quot;good amount&quot; of confidence in the Democrats in Congress, and 30 percent said the same for Republicans.</p>  <p>The poll also suggested 35 percent of Americans had some confidence in Trump, with 21 percent saying they had what was considered a &quot;great deal&quot; of confidence.</p>  <p>Trump's personal image has taken a toll in the two years he has been in office as well. Thirty-two percent of Americans view him favorably as a person, while 59 percent unfavorably, according to the poll. That is just two points above former President Bill Clinton's record low favorability rating before he was impeached.</p>  <p>The poll also noted Trump has been doing less than favorably when it comes to policy issues.</p>  <p>When the ABC News-Washington Post poll was conducted in January 2017, half of respondents said they expected Trump to do a &quot;excellent/good job&quot; fixing the country's budget deficit, however, the number of respondents that say that in Monday's poll has fell to 33 percent.</p>  <p>The poll was conducted between Jan. 21-24, in the midst of the longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history; 1,001 adults were polled with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

US senate should insist on reshaping Saudi ties: report

            By Umar Farooq</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - The U.S. Senate set itself on a path that went further than condemning the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, driven by President Donald Trump’s refusal to acknowledge that the responsibility lay with the Saudi crown prince, The Washington Post Editorial Board wrote Monday.</p>  <p>Trump has been mindful of defending the Saudis, not wanting to risk $450 billion in Saudi investments he claims are being offered, which include $110 billion in arms purchases. The actual figures are dubious, by many accounts.</p>  <p>&quot;His preoccupation with deals raises the question of whether he has his own businesses in mind; since his election, the Saudis have been major patrons of Trump hotels,&quot; the Post said. </p>  <p>Trump, however, was given a reminder that the Saudis would rather pursue their own interests when they attempted to increase oil prices earlier this month, despite calls by Trump to not do so.</p>  <p>&quot;Mr. Trump’s vintage-1980s view of the kingdom is contradicted by the 2018 fact that the United States, as the world’s largest crude oil producer, is less dependent than ever on the Middle East for energy,&quot; the newspaper wrote. &quot;Saudi Arabia has so far failed to move the oil price and cannot seriously threaten U.S. supplies.&quot;</p>  <p>Senators offered a bi-partisan effort earlier this month to rebuke Trump's policy of letting Khashoggi's killing go, passing a resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, which uncovered an understanding of not only the value of America's relationship with Saudi Arabia, but also the value of Washington's relationship with other despotic leaders around the world.</p>  <p>Khashoggi's murder helped the U.S. pay more attention to other regimes that are &quot;taking their repression global.&quot;</p>  <p> A writer from the Post, David Ignatius, argued that Saudi's de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, adopted this method of abduction and murder from Russia and China.</p>  <p>&quot;The larger truth is that, with Mohammed bin Salman as its de facto ruler, the kingdom has become a strategic liability to the United States,&quot; the Post wrote.</p>  <p>Now, the Senate must push to show Saudi Arabia that the U.S. will not accept a relationship with just anyone, according to the newspaper.</p>  <p>&quot;The Senate was right to repudiate that poisonous and self-defeating doctrine. Now it should insist that relations with Saudi Arabia be reshaped to reflect a genuinely realistic assessment: that the United States does not need and should not sustain a relationship with the reckless tyrant who rules it,&quot; the Post added, calling for the end to bin Salman's rule over the kingdom.

Khashoggi's daughters vow to keep his legacy alive

By Umar Farooq

WASHINGTON (AA) – While Jamal Khashoggi was a complex man, to his daughters, he was simply known as "Dad".

In an opinion piece published Friday in The Washington Post, Noha Khashoggi and Razan Jamal Khashoggi shared memories of their father.

For the sisters, life growing up included visits to countless museums and historical sites, reflecting their parents’ love of knowledge. They also recalled staying up nights wondering what their father was doing on one of his many trips abroad, “trusting that no matter how long he was gone, we would see him again, wide-armed, waiting for a hug”.

“As bittersweet as it was, we knew from a young age that Dad’s work meant that his reach extended far beyond our family, that he was an important man whose words had an effect on people over a great distance.”

Noha and Razan also wrote about the pride they had in their father's work and said they "understood the awe and grandeur with which some people viewed him".

"Dad certainly had a pragmatic side, but in his dreams and ambitions, he was always striving for a utopian version of reality," they said.

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Post, went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

With the world watching, the Saudi administration initially said he had left the consulate alive until admitting weeks later that he was killed there.

The two sisters recounted the days after their father was first reported missing and how the family had visited his home in Virginia.

"The hardest part was seeing his empty chair. His absence was deafening. We could see him sitting there, glasses on his forehead, reading or typing away."

"This is no eulogy, for that would confer a state of closure. Rather, this is a promise that his light will never fade, that his legacy will be preserved within us," they wrote.

"We feel blessed to have been raised with his moral compass, his respect for knowledge and truth, and his love.

"Until we meet again in the next life."

Nobel laureate calls for end to war in Yemen

By Umar Farooq

WASHINGTON (AA) – The war in Yemen must come to an end, and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates must be held accountable for the destruction they caused, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate said Wednesday.

In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Tawakkol Karman, a Yemeni journalist, wrote that the war has caused massive damage to Yemen’s infrastructure and has left millions on the verge of starvation and famine.

"Why have the Saudis and their allies refused to allow the legitimate government to return to the liberated territories?" Karman wrote. "Why have Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two of the wealthiest countries in the world, allowed this humanitarian crisis to continue?"

Meanwhile, Yemen has been blockaded by land, air and sea, and there have been "massacres against civilians" in markets, refugee camps, hospitals and schools.

"The path to ending the war is clear. First, the United States and other countries must cease arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the UAE," Karman wrote.

Neither the UN Security Council nor the western backers of the Saudi-led coalition have questioned the logic behind the conflict, she said.

Impoverished Yemen has remained wracked by violence since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies launched a devastating air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.

Tens of thousands of people — including numerous Yemeni civilians — are believed to have been killed in the conflict, which has left much of the country’s basic infrastructure in ruins.

The UN currently estimates that around 14 million Yemenis are at risk of famine, and using data provided by the UN, the rights group Save the Children concluded that 85,000 children in Yemen under the age of five have died from hunger.

Karman also said the murder of Jamal Khashoggi could create "global awareness" about Saudi Arabia and bring attention back to the crisis in Yemen.

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

After initially saying he had left the consulate alive, the Saudi administration admitted weeks later that he was killed there.

The Nobel laureate also noted that the Houthis “must be compelled to cease their destructive behavior”.

"Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the Houthis must be told with one voice: Enough is enough," Karman added.