For months we've been trying to find out if UNH renewed its contract with the King Fahd Security College in Saudi Arabia. It was to expire in June 2021. No luck. No one at UNH would speak to us.
We found out that Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal spoke at UNH Commencement in May along with Saudi businessman Mr. Amr Al-Dabbagh. Blumenthal knew full well of UNH's years- long work for the Saudi police/military college, a college in an absolute monarchy which was known for its torture, repulsive security laws and executions. Blumenthal himself made a public comment in 2018 calling on UNH to reevaluate its ties to the Saudis after the gruesome murder of Jamal Khashoggi. We guess now that the heats off things have gotten back to normal among the elites.
Efforts to get a comment from Blumenthal via email or phone were made in July 2021 to no avail.
April 19, 2021 Loujain Al-Hathloul has been awarded the Vlasic Havel Prize It is awarded annually for civil society action in defence of human rights by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
February 2, 2021 See the smiling picture on the right. After 1001 days Loujain Al-Hathloul has been released from prison. Here is President Biden praising her release. She had been arrested for publicly campaigning for women's rights, had been tortured in prison, spent long days in solitary confinement and was sentenced to nearly six years in prison. Two years were suspended and her years in jail awaiting her trial were allowed to be counted as time served for this sentence.
Make no mistake though. She is not free. She is under probation, is banned from foreign travel and awaiting her appeal.
Her sister Lina asks you to read this New York Times article about a man imprisoned over a tweet.
The video news magazine "The Struggle" starts with a piece about Yemen, how ships with fuel are kept from a big Yemen port just when they are needed for food trucks and ambulances. They are kept out by Saudi warships. Why isn't Biden telling his ally to stop?
This is the Executive Summary of the Director of National Intelligence report (that Trump kept hidden) about the killing of Khashoggi. It says what everyone knew. Khashoggi's gruesome murder was ordered by the Saudi Crown Prince, it didn't recommend any measures against him personally.
The editorial by Washington Post publisher John Ryan was entitled "Say it Ain't So" He wrote, " It appears as though under the Biden administration, despots who offer momentarily strategic value to the United States might be given a “one free murder” pass. " Whew! That was the tone of the article. Read it here.
On the Turkish-government English language station "Anadalou News" Saudi analyst Ali Al Ahmed was interviewed. These points were especially interesting. 1) He explains why 3 names were taken off the U.S. Intelligence Report 2) the U.S. did not examine the audio tape of the killing of Khashoggi 3) the visa ban "punishment" is trivial 4) the ban on "offensive weapons" is a lot less than it seems 5) the U.S. government always wants to support the royal most favorable to its interests. It doesn't support the people of the country 6) the U.S. Navy is blocking ten ships from unloading vitally needed fuel in Yemen 7) Al Ahmed talks about a Saudi-Australian who has been jailed in Morocco under Saudi orders 8) U.S. government contempt for Saudis is racist.
Watch the whole interview of Al Ahmed on Facebook.
Click here to go to our "Act Now" page to see the bill and how you might support it.
Feb. 4, 2021. In a measure viewed as stopping U.S. involvement in the Saudi/UAE war on Yemen the president has said the US will end support "for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales."
This is the relevant section of his statement at the State Department
"...And while this review is taking place, we’ll be stopping any planned troop withdrawals from Germany. We’re also stepping up our diplomacy to end the war in Yemen — a war which has created a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe. I’ve asked my Middle East team to ensure our support for the United Nations-led initiative to impose a ceasefire, open humanitarian channels, and restore long-dormant peace talks.
"This morning, Secretary Blinken appointed Tim Lenderking, a career foreign policy officer, as our special envoy to the Yemen conflict. And I appreciate his doing this. Tim is a life — has lifelong experience in the region, and he’ll work with the U.N. envoy and all parties of the conflict to push for a diplomatic resolution.
"And Tim’s diplomacy will be bolstered by USI- — USAID, working to ensure that humanitarian aid is reaching the Yemeni people who are suffering un- — an undurable [sic] — unendurable devastation. This war has to end.
"And to underscore our commitment, we are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales.
"At the same time, Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks, UAV strikes, and other threats from Iranian-supplied forces in multiple countries. We’re going to continue to support and help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people.
Appearing on Democracy Now Yemeni professor Shireen Al-Adeimi hailed the step, but wondered if President Biden's statement puts us back to where the U.S. was in 2015, giving the Saudi prince almost total support, and insisting the US was committed to defend Saudi borders. See the video here on "The Struggle"
Jan 25 Aljazeera reports that activists in the Canadian province of Ontario have staged a protest at a transport company they say is involved in transporting Canadian-made, light armored vehicles (LAVs) to Saudi Arabia. 30 of so people blocked trucks at Paddock Transport International. Here's more about it from Ricochet News. It was done as part of a protest against the Saudi-U.S. war on Yemen.
This hour long Zoom protest organized by the British group Stop the War included Ahmed Al-Babati (British-Yemeni Soldier), Dr. Shireen Aladeimi, Apsana Begum MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, John Finucane MP (Sinn Féin), Danny Glover (Actor), Esa Mighty, Daniele Obono (French National Assembly Member), Yanis Varoufakis (MeRA25 Secretary-General)
and Dr. Cornel West
Adam Schiff chair of the House Intelligence Committee wants the Director of National Intelligence to release to Congress a report on the murder. Congress specifically asked for a report on who was believed to have killed Khashoggi and why. Trump refused to comply and it was never brought up in impeachments The report is widely expected to name Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman as the person who ordered the murder.
Besides the matter of justice for the family it would be harder to justify the enormous benefits the Saudi princes get from the U.S. if the report concluded that high Saudi officials had ordered the killing.
Dec. 28, 2020
Five years and 8 months. That's the grotesque sentence a Saudi secret court handed down to Loujain al-Hathloul for working for women's rights. Democracy Now reports she was convicted of the crimes of: "agitating for change", "perusing a foreign agenda" and "using the internet to harm public order". She was convicted in "terrorism" court. We don't say she was only not-guilty. We say the so-called crimes themselves are imaginary and her actions are praiseworthy and fully in line with human rights respected by most nations.
Her sister Lina says part of the sentence will be suspended and considering time served she could be freed in two months, though her travel rights are cancelled for 5 years. #FreeLoujianNow
According to the Israeli paper Ha'aretz Biden aide Jake Sullivan criticized the Saudis for the sentence. He said “sentencing of Loujain al-Hathloul for simply exercising her universal rights is unjust and troubling,”
Dec. 23, 2020.
She had the the nerve to call for women having a right to drive in Saudi Arabia. Loujain Al-Hathloul was thrown in prison in March 2018 and has been there ever since. She says she was tortured. Prosecutors refused to let prison video be examined to see if her accusations could be backed up. (See the website done by her supporters by clicking here.) The charges against her were upgraded to "terrorism" and her trial moved to a secret court in November 2020. Supposed offenses included working with "foreigners". As Human Rights Watch reports "the amended charge sheet remain entirely related to her peaceful human rights work, including promoting women’s rights and calling for an end to Saudi Arabia’s discriminatory male guardianship system" .
It is possible Loujain will be sentenced Dec. 24. The prosecutor is calling for 20 years in prison. President-elect Biden says he'll be redoing the U.S. relationship with the Saudi monarchy. Let him start by speaking up for Loujain today.
Who knew about the awful things taught in Saudi schools about Jews? Only now when the textbooks are being reformed is the truth coming out. Saudi school books traditionally called "Jews and Christians as 'enemies of Islam.' They say that infidels 'do not have any good deeds' and will spend eternity in hell." The books predicted a final battle in which Muslims will kill all Jews. According to an Impact-SE study, "Jews were described as a wicked nation, characterized by bribery, slyness, deception, betrayal, aggressiveness and haughtiness. They were portrayed as a corrupting force in Arabia even before the genesis of Islam."
The Saudis (the ruling family of the country that calls itself after its tyrants) spent enormous amounts of money spreading their views around the world and giving away these textbooks. Tens of billions were spent in education that included these textbooks.
To be clear this had nothing to do with opposition to Israel or Zionism or support for rights of Palestinians. It was bigotry against Jews as Jews.
The changes are a good thing, as are reports of removal of hideous statements against gays, and non-believers, but one wonders how far they go. Will the old textbooks be recalled? What are they teaching in the new textbooks about Shia subjects of the kingdom?
On a slightly different subject will the Saudis allow Christmas celebrations in the kingdom? Will the kingdom allow Shia Muslims, Christians or Jews to pray their own way in public?
Dec. 22, 2020.
The New York Times has obtained documents in a court case which shows that the U.S. (Meaning Trump's State Department) is considering giving Crown Prince MBS legal immunity in a court case in which a former Saudi intelligence operative says MBS is trying to have him killed. The Times says if it's granted it would give MBS grounds for getting suits dismissed against his alleged ordering of the assassination of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi. The NYT reporters note that Trump " dismissed evidence suggesting that Prince Mohammed ordered Mr. Khashoggi’s killing and dismemberment to preserve billions of dollars in American weapon sales to Saudi Arabia."
Just before the Crown Prince #MBS allowed women to drive cars (June 2018) he had leading Saudi feminists arrested
2018 protest in solidarity with our sisters in Saudi Arabian prisons
Read Human Rights Watch article about how remnants of guardianship system oppresses
Don't forget them. Read this 2020 Al Jazeera article Click here
Keys extended to jailed Saudi feminists
1) Kathy Kelly "Overview of the Civil War and Proxy War"
2) Rabyaah Althaibani "How the Destruction of Yemen Affected Family and Friends"
1) Kate Alexander "Countering U.S. Support for the Saudi Attacks - Convincing Congress"
2) Summer Nasser "How Yemen Aid Works and Helps Yemenis"
1) Nick Mottern on the U.S. Drone Attacks in Yemen
2) Panels Suggest How to Go Forward
1. Aramco, the kingdom-owned fossil fuel colossus, is the single company most responsible for CO2 increase in the air (since 1880). It caused some 3% of the rise in carbon dioxide all by itself.
2. Saudi Arabia has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, some 266 billion barrels. It intends to pump all of it out. Burning this Saudi oil would in itself use up a huge amount of the carbon dioxide "budget", (by one estimate 1/3 of the budget) that we have left before we go over the tipping points to uncontrolled warming.
3. Renewable energy use is presently just 1% in Saudi Arabia. A much touted renewable energy program there was slated to bring that total up to 4% by 2020. To compare, the U.S. at the start of 2017 got 19% of its energy from renewables. It's huge solar promises has come a cropper (see below)
4. In 2015 the year of the Paris climate talks, the Saudis did all they could to block moving the goal of climate efforts to a vitally necessary 1.5 degree Celsius limit. The goal was not lowered. The played the same role (along with Russia and the U.S.) at COP in Poland in 2018.
5. Though the world has far more fossil fuel than it can safely use Aramco is still hunting for more. It’s investing in shale gas drilling and expects to double its methane gas production in a decade.
6. Prince Salman’s kingdom does all this even though scientists predict that within a few generations extreme heat waves in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf will make work outdoors impossible!
7. Moody's revealed on 4/1/19 that the Saudi oil company Aramco had made a profit in 2018 of $111 billion dollars, far surpassing the world's second most profitable company in the word, Apple whose profit that year was $59 billion.
In March 2018 an immense solar project is was touted, but note the
Washington Post article says "take it with a grain of salt"
And then the project was frozen Oct 2
"No one is working on the project" says the Wall Street Journal
After the Khashoggi murder became known businessmen even suspended cooperation with a Saudi "City fo the Future" which supposedly was going to be all solar powered.
To be clear it would be GREAT if the Saudi regime went solar and kept its oil IN THE GROUND. That's never been the plan. It intendeds to pump out all its oil AND go solar.
So Trump says that while he’s thinking of “severe” punishment for Saudi Arabia he doesn’t want to lose the $110 billion arms deal with the Saudi princes and the “500,000 jobs” it would create in the U.S. The New York Times looked into his claim and noted that Trump’s own Pentagon says the amount of new signed orders with Saudi Arabia was $14.5 billion and Trump’s State Department said the number of jobs created by these orders was in the tens of thousands. So Trump fudged it a little. He merely exaggerated by a multiple of ten or 15.
Let’s leave all morality aside here (like big tough politicians and think-tank “strategists”) and not worry [bitter sarcasm] about the murder of one measly Washington Post columnist (remember as Trump reminds us Khashoggi was a non-citizen of the U.S., only a resident). Let’s not worry about the tens of thousands killed by the Saudi-Obama-Trump war on Yemen.
Let’s just be “realists” and consider only dollars and cents.
Certainly arms sales bring profits to the corporations involved and they do create jobs, but what about the COSTS of doing business with the Gulf, “protecting the oil” and the kings, and emirs, princes, prince-lings and other royals? Recall just recently Trump said the Saudi King wouldn’t last “two weeks” without U.S. support.
Chuck Hagel, who was one of Obama’s Defense Secretaries, said in 2013 that the U.S. would keep 35,000 military personnel in the Gulf region, some 10,000 of whom were army soldiers with armor or helicopter gunships. In addition, some 40 US naval vessels then patroled the Gulf waters, including an aircraft carrier battle group. We have bases in Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. Sometimes we go to war. To “liberate” Kuwait and give it back to the al-Sabah family we warred on (admittedly nasty) Saddam Hussein in 1991 and then a decade later Bush (George W.) launched “shock and awe” to protect the region and “the world” from Saddam’s (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction and that cost what, $3 trillion, $6 trillion (not to speak of American lives lost because we’re not bleeding hearts).
Back in 2011 Princeton professor Roger Stern estimated that we had spent $8 trillion to protect the “oil flow” from the Persian Gulf over 35 years. How much more now, another trillion or two? The funny thing is the USA doesn’t even use that much of the oil. Stern established the U.S. was the destination of less than 10 percent of the oil. That was in 2011. Now with fracking and the gargantuan amount of oil pumped out in the U.S. (and deadly greenhouse gases liberated) the U.S. needs even less of Persian Gulf oil.
So you hard-boiled, hard-headed, stone-for-hearts realists, look at all the dollars and cents, the losses as well as the gains. Is protecting the royal tyrants worth it?
The Staggering Amount of Money That's Been Spent to "Defend" the Gulf
Based on the work of a study by Princeton professor Roger Stern, Time magazine wrote that as of 2007 the U.S. had spent $6.8 trillion "to protect the flow of oil" from the Persian Gulf. As of 2011 Stern estimated over $8 trillion had been spent. He regards it as waste. Stern believes "Iran and other nations in the region have just as much, if not more, need to keep the oil flowing than the U.S." Here's a link to Stern's study.
In 2013 professor Juan Cole wrote a blog post about this noting that then Sec. of Defense Hagel said, "Hagel said that the "US had and would keep 35,000 military personnel in the Gulf region, some 10,000 of whom were army soldiers with armor or helicopter gunships. In addition, some 40 US naval vessels patrol the Gulf waters, including an aircraft carrier battle group. Cole's post was entitled "Solar would be Cheaper: US Pentagon has spent $8 Trillion to Guard Gulf Oil" Cole argues that not only would it be cheaper, it's absolutely necessary to drastically limit oil use because of what global warming gases are doing to the climate.
This oil industry website uses the $8 trillion figures and quotes Stern as noting that only 10% of the oil from the Gulf actually comes to the U.S.
In May of 2015 Ali Al Ahmed of the Institute for Gulf Affairs wrote that the hyper spending on military for the Persian Gulf was the result of the "Carter Doctrine" which he says should be abandoned..
The origin of the U.S.-Saudi alliance dates from 1945 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt met the Saudi king. They met on the USS Qunicy in the Great Bitter Lake along the Suez Canal. Andrew Glass wrote, “Ibn Saud, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, had come from Jidda on an American destroyer, the USS Murphy, with an entourage of bodyguards, cooks and slaves, plus an astrologer.” The U.S. started sending the Saudis weapons and getting access to Saudi airfields.
After discussions with Kennedy in 1966 King Ibn Saud issued a decree abolishing slavery (a century after the U.S. did so).
Relations weren’t always friendly. In 1973 when support for Palestinians was at its height in the Arab world Saudi Arabia took part in an oil embargo and refused to sell oil to the West. It was part of the OPEC embargo that started after the U.S. resupplied Israel after its 1973 war with Egypt. The U.S. considered using military force to break it. In a conversation between then Defense Secretary Schlesinger and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger Schlesinger said, “We have been talking about using the Marines. Kissinger replied, “We should have a plan before we move troops. It is ridiculous that the civilized world is held up by 8 million savages.” Eventually the embargo ended when Israel left the Sinai and started talks with Sadat.
The U.S. leaned heavily on the Saudis to make sure OPEC never again supported the Palestinians and the Saudis would increase oil production whenever other countries tried to use their oil politically.
In August 1990, after seeing the Iraqis occupy Kuwait called in the Americans. “King Fahd gave the United States the go-ahead to deploy its troops inside Saudi Arabia. By the time President George H.W. Bush met with King Fahd in Jeddah in November, there were 230,000 U.S. troops inside the country.” This may have protected his dynasty from a rather remote threat from Saddam Hussein, but roused the ire of Osama bin Laden who was outraged at the number of non-Muslims in the Kingdom and started on his road to create al-Qaeda.
Bill Clinton met King Fahd bin Abdulaziz in 1994 and peddled a contract for ATT to modernize Saudi phone service.
George W. Bush met with bin Abdulaziz twice. After 9/11 in 2001 the Saudi U.S. relationship came under fire since 15 of the 19 attackers were Saudi Arabians and Bin Laden was also from the kingdom. A number of familiesof the 9/11 have suspected direct Saudi government involvement in the attacks and have been suing ever since. In 2109 the U.S. revealed the name of the mid-level Saudi official suspected of giving aid to the 9/11 attackers under conditions that they not reveal it to the public. However on May 12, 2020 the FBI accidentally revealed that the official was Mussaed al-Jarrah when it improperly released a document to a court.
In his eagerness to make a nuclear/sanctions deal with Iran, President Obama bent over backwards to satisfy the Saudis. When they attacked Yemenis in March 2015 Obama gave full support to what the Saudi’s claimed would be a brief military action. No weapons were held back until after considerable public protest. In the last months of Obama’s presidency the U.S. Defense Department stopped sending cluster bombs and suspended delivery of “precision munitions”.
Trump has made Saudi Arabia a key ally. It was his first foreign visit after he became president. He boasts constantly about the enormous weapons deals he’s made with the kingdom. He’s vetoed every attempt by Congress to end U.S. support for the Saudi war on Yemen which in 2020 was entering its sixth year.