(AP) – Two U.S. citizens are under arrest in Saudi Arabia as the kingdom cracks down on critics. They are doctor and writer Bader al-Ibrahim and Salah al-Haidar, who is the son of a high-profile Saudi activist Aziza al-Yousef.
Al-Yousef was temporarily released last week but she remains on trial along with other women’s rights campaigners. Al-Ibrahim and al-Haidar hold dual U.S.-Saudi citizenship.
An organization that promotes human rights in Saudi Arabia says they and at least five others arrested today are writers and bloggers who have been engaged in public discourse on reforms.
(AP) — A transcript of the final moments of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi paints a violent picture of what happened when he was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. A source who’s read the transcript of an audio recording tells CNN that Khashoggi’s last words were “I can’t breathe.”
During the audio recording, a struggle can be heard as the Washington Post columnist is attacked by a Saudi hit squad. The transcript also describes the sounds of Khashoggi’s body being dismembered. Khashoggi disappeared after walking into the Saudi consulate in early October.
(Washington, DC-AP) — Senators are challenging the White House over Saudi Arabia. The Senate voted today to open debate on a resolution ending U.S. support for Saudi-backed forces in the war in Yemen. The vote was 63-37. Many senators are upset about the White House response to the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi was brutally murdered after entering a Saudi consulate in Turkey in early October. The CIA has reportedly assessed that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia ordered Khashoggi’s murder but President Trump has cast doubt on that view.
(London, UK-AP) — The fiancee of the journalist who was recently killed in a consulate of Saudi Arabia is not satisfied with President Trump’s response to his murder. On a visit to London, Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancee said she was disappointed with the actions of many countries and felt that the President “should not pave the way for a cover-up.”
She remarked that the Western world should stand up to his killers since the west is a supposed stronghold for human rights. Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month. Saudi Arabia denied any involvement but later admitted his killing was premeditated.
Trump initially refused to criticize the Saudi crown prince before saying he bore ultimate responsibility for the death. Trump is likely tip-toeing around the murder of the Washington Post journalist because as he claimed during his 2016 campaign, “He gets millions of dollars from the Saudis.”
(Riyadh) – Women are now driving on the roads of Saudi Arabia. The conservative kingdom ended its ban on female drivers, the last in the world, at midnight Sunday.
Driving instructor Ahlam al-Somali (R) reads instructions before getting ready to drive with trainee Maria al-Faraj at Saudi Aramco Driving Center in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
The lifting of the ban is part of a series of changes championed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been pushing hard to diversify the nation’s economy and bring on social reforms.
Saudi Arabia estimates it will have three million licensed female drivers by 2020.
(New York, NY) – Russia may not have been the only country Donald Trump Jr. looked to for help to get his father elected. The “New York Times” reports the President’s son also held a meeting with an emissary for the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia offering to help Donald Trump win.
According to the report, the meeting took place August 3rd, 2016 at Trump Tower and included other Trump campaign officials. The emissary, George Nader, reportedly told Trump Jr. the princes of the countries were ready to help Trump win the election.
1. Maha Vajiralongkorn, King of Thailand — $35 billion
Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, was the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history, after seven decades, with an estimated wealth of $35 billion in 2016, according to Business Spectator and Forbes. King Bhumibol’s wealth is managed by the Crown Property Bureau. Following his death, his only son Prince Vajiralongkorn became King.
His wealth includes includes over 3,000 acres of land in central Bangkok and shares in Siam Cement and Siam Commercial Bank. He also owns the 545-carat Golden Jubilee Diamond, the largest cut and faceted diamond in the world.
2. Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan, Emir of Abu Dhabi — $23 billion
Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates and the Emir of Abu Dhabi, had an estimated wealth of $15 billion in 2011, according to Forbes. Sheikh Khalifa has amassed a fortune as chairman of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, which manages the UAE’s excess oil reserves, estimated to be worth up to half a trillion dollars. He is also known for his philanthropy, contributing to state-of-the-art medical facilities and relief organizations.
3. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Former King of Saudi Arabia — $21 billion
Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the late King of Saudia Arabia, had an estimated wealth of $18 billion in 2011, according him to Forbes, making him the third richest royal in the world before his death on Jan. 23, 2015. When Abdullah took the throne in 2005, the oil-rich country soon began a $26 billion construction project of a city named in his honor.
4. Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei — $20 billion
Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, had an estimated wealth of $20 billion in 2011, according to Forbes. His wealth is a result of oil and gas development in Brunei, and he is known for lavish spending: the Sultan reportedly owns more than 600 Rolls-Royces, and his residence — Istana Nurul Iman, the world’s largest palace — cost over $350 million.
5. Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Emir Sheikh of Dubai — $4 billion
Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and the Emir Sheikh of Dubai, had an estimated wealth of $4 billion in 2011, according to Forbes. Sheikh Mohammed is known for his charitable donations, including a gift of $10 billion in 2007 to set up the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, which aims to empower future generations to develop sustainable solutions in the Arab world.
(SL)– The first thing someone is going to say is, “How much did we spend on Obama?” So, let’s get that out of the way. As Donald Trump even pointed out in one of his tweets .. After 2,360 days in office, taxpayers were on the hook for $44 million for President Obama’s golf outings. For Donald Trump, after 261 days, we’ve spent $72,392,178 on his golf outings. Even more alarming, his businesses are profiting.
The Economist focused on the conflict of interest in a post two months ago and it seems that here we are still dealing with the same blatant issue and disregard for the constitution and it is in fact worse than ever.
The Economist reported, “PRETTY close to a laughing stock.” That is Walter Shaub’s verdict on America’s standing in the world, at least from an ethics point of view, under President Donald Trump. Mr Shaub’s stepped down as head of the Office of Government Ethics, a federal watchdog.
He left his job early, frustrated at the president’s failure to separate himself from his businesses, at White House foot-dragging on disclosing ethics waivers for staff, at its failure to admonish a Trump adviser who plugged the family’s products in an interview, and more. “It’s hard for the United States to pursue international anticorruption and ethics initiatives when we’re not even keeping our own side of the street clean,” Mr Shaub told the New York Times.
(SL) – It’s pretty clear at this point why Donald Trump still refuses to share his tax returns. All of the countries that he’s got business dealings with or debt will disclosed. His latest executive order exasperates the start of what will probably end up being the shadiest presidency in history. The New York Daily News broke it down best!
The President Trump’s most recent executive order effectively bans citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days — but some Muslim countries were spared from the order’s blacklist, even though they have deep-seated ties to terrorism.
Conspicuously, Trump doesn’t hold any business interests in any of the countries on the list, but holds major stakes in several of those excluded from it, records show.
Friday’s executive order, signed at the Pentagon, suspends the issuing of U.S. visas or travel permits to people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Not a single American was killed on U.S. soil by citizens from any of those countries between 1975 and 2015, according to statistics tallied by the conservative-leaning Cato Institute.
However, the same set of statistics show that nearly 3,000 Americans were killed by citizens from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt in the same time period — with the bulk of those killed being victims of the 9/11 attacks. Yet, people from those three countries are still welcome to apply for U.S. visas and travel permits.
In a striking parallel, Trump’s sprawling business empire — which he has refused to rescind ownership of — holds multi-million dollar licensing and development deals in all of those countries, raising potential conflict of interest concerns and alarming questions over what actually went into the decision process behind Friday’s executive order.
Protesters gather at JFK Airport after Muslim travel ban
Not much is known about Trump’s connection to the Saudis. Yet, the little bit of information that is available raises a number of questions.
Trump registered eight companies tied to hotel interests in the country shortly after launching his campaign in August 2015, according to The Washington Post. The companies were registered under such names as THC Jeddah Hotel and DT Jeddah Technical Services; company names The Post reported bore striking resemblance to ones Trump has registered in other foreign countries.
During a campaign rally in Alabama last year, Trump expressed his admiration for the Saudis.
“They buy apartment from me,” he said. “They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”
Those comments could cock a few eyebrows, since most of the 9/11 attackers were from Saudi Arabia.
Further, a declassified U.S. intelligence report known as the “28 pages” claims the Saudi government and its wealthy citizens actively funded Muslim radicalism through mosques and charities in the U.S. around the time of 9/11 attacks. The 19 hijackers were in close contact with Saudi nationals before carrying out the terror attack, which became the worst one in U.S. history.
In total, Saudi citizens killed 2,369 Americans between 1975 and 2015, according to CATO.
In Egypt, Trump’s business holdings are characteristically vague. His latest Federal Election Commission filing lists two companies in the country, Trump Marks Egypt and Trump Marks Egypt LLC, both of which are most likely connected to a development venture.
The State Department, meanwhile, strongly discourages Americans from traveling to Egypt since “terrorist attacks can occur anywhere” due to the presence of ISIS-affiliated groups.
Egyptian citizens killed a total of 162 Americans between 1975 and 2015.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
The Trump Organization has a licensing and management deal in Dubai for two golf courses and a whole neighborhood of luxury villas currently under construction. The second golf course was designed by Tiger Woods.
Trump has traveled frequently to the Middle Eastern nation with his daughter, Ivanka, and the two have been seen in numerous photographs over the years, playing golf and shaking hands with affluent sheiks.
While the UAE ranks as the sixth richest country in the world, a widespread presence of ISIS- and Al Qaeda- affiliated groups persists in the area and poses a serious threat to American citizens, according to the State Department.
“Both historical and current information suggest that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), al-Qaida, and affiliated organizations continue to plan attacks against Western targets,” states a safety notice on the department’s website, using alternate spellings for the groups.
A total of 314 Americans were killed by UAE citizens between 1975 and 2015, according to CATO.
Trump also currently licenses his name to two luxury towers in the Turkish metropolis of Istanbul.
He received as much as $5 million from the deals last year, according to his latest financial disclosures. Furthermore, since the election, Trump’s development partner, Dogan Sirketler Grubu Holding, has seen its shares surge by nearly 11%.
Meanwhile, Turkey is a hotbed for terrorist activities, with the State Department issuing a travel alert advising U.S. citizens not to travel to the country because of “increased threats from terrorist groups” just this Wednesday.
“An increase in anti-American rhetoric has the potential to inspire independent actors to carry out acts of violence against U.S. citizens,” the alert states.
In addition to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, President Trump holds extensive business interests in the Muslim majority nations of Indonesia and Azerbaijan. Both have documented ties to Islamic terrorism — yet neither is included on the executive order’s blacklist.
White House press aides did not immediately return a request for comment from The News.
Immediately after the Pentagon signing ceremony on Friday, Trump was harshly rebuked by people of varying political persuasions from across the world.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said “tears are running down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty tonight” upon learning of the order.
“This is one of the most backward and nasty executive orders that the President has issued,” he added.
Trita Parsi, the co-founder and president of the National Iranian American Council, told The News early Saturday that he’s been bombarded with phone calls from concerned friends and family in his home country.
“This has been a nightmare,” he said. “We knew something was coming, but we did not expect this…We definitely did not expect this.”
Trump, meanwhile, claimed before signing the order that the “new vetting measures” will make it much harder for terrorists to enter the country.
“We don’t want them here,” he said. “We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.”