Trump More Seriously Kowtows To MBS

Trump More Seriously Kowtows To MBS

 We have already seen the spectacle of Trump simply dismissing the reported CIA conclusion that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) ordered the gruesome murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi (“Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t”)  He has put forward silly excuses for this: low oil prices! (nonexistent) hundreds of billions of dollars of arms deals!  Key to the anti-Iranian coalition!  Oh, and also supposedly key to Israeli-Palestinian peace, this last especially ridiculous since Trump supported moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, wirh Saudi King Salman himself intervening to denounce that.  Of course most of us suspect that his willingness to spout off on all this stuff has a lot to do with money personally flowing to him and Jared Kushner, quite aside from the sword dance and orb and all that stuff they showered him with on his first foreign trip as president.  But now we are seeing a new and more disgusting level of kowtowing to MbS and the Saudis.

This has to do with the war in Yemen.  Juan Cole reports that the US is blocking a UN Security Council resolution proposed by Britain and supposedly supported by all the other nations in it for a ceasefire around the Yemeni port of Hodeida.  This is the port through which most supplies go to the Houthi-controlled areas in the northern part of Yemen, including the nominal capital, Sana’a.  The official government, now operating out of Aden to the south, the former capiral of the formerly separate South Yemen, a Sunni govenment backed by the Saudi and UAE, has been attacking Hodeida, apparently hoping to conquer it and cut off supplies to the Houthis with the intention to starve them into submission.  Even though many in the US DOD and Congress, including many GOP senators, have become increasingly unhappy with the Saudi bombing campaign against the Houthis, and the US has apparently ceased aiding the refueling of the Saudi bombers, although apparently they do not need the US assistance on this.  Reportedly we are still providing crucial intel in support of this bombing campaign, which has led to many civilian deaths, and the population is also reportedly on the verge of famine, as well as suffering from a cholera epidemic.

The UNSC proposal is for a ceasefire around Hodeida, but MbS reportedly “threw a fit” when he learned of this proposal, which apparently includes wording that is very supportive of the Saudi-backed government in Yemen and critical of the Houthis. But MbS wants no halt to the campaign to conquer Hodeida and starve the Houthis and those in their territories.  So, Trump has kowtowed to this “fit,” and is apparently blocking the proposal, despite it coming from the British and containing anti-Houthi language.  There have been reports that MbS has said that he has Jared Kushner “in his pocket,” but it is now screamingly clear that this nauseating murderer also has President Trump “in his pocket” as well.

I am not going to comment on the volatility of oil markets, but I am going to note that Trump is now proposing to put Venezuela on the list of “state sponsors of terrorism” along with North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and Iran.  It is increasingly clear that this list is overwhelmingly political.  Most definitions of “terrorism” involve the killing of innocent civilians outside of formal war.  It is many years since Iran has engaged in such activities, and I am unaware of Venezuela ever supporting such activities or carrying them out itself.  But Saudi Arabia has actively supported al Qaeda factions in Syria, and while it might claim that it is formal war, its bombing in Yemen is generating the largest ongoing flow of civilian deaths anywhere in the world right now.  It is a war the Saudis started at the behest of MbS back in 2015 when he became Minister of Defense, a position he still holds.  So, Venezuela goes on the list, and Iran keeps being claimed to be the “world’s most important state sponsor of terrorism.”  But not only is Saudi Arabia under the leadership of MbS killing far more civilians, MbS now has the US president actively blocking efforts to stop the slaughter.

Oh, and a final note is that the “White House” has forbidden CIA Director Haspel from testifying behind closed doors on the matter of the Khashoggi murder to the Senate  Intelligence Committee.  Although CIa directors have traditionally and regularly done so, those at the White House have given no reason for this decision.

We have sunk very low.

Barkley Rosser