1 December 2018   Leave a comment

The Wall Street Journal (unfortunately there is a paywall) is reporting that Saudi Crown Prince Salman had exchanged 11 messages with Saud al-Qahtani just before and after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.  AAero Hedge has extensive quotes from the WSJ article.  The most significant paragraph reads:

“The electronic messages sent by Prince Mohammed were to Saud al-Qahtani, according to the CIA. Mr. Qahtani supervised the 15-man team that killed Mr. Khashoggi and, during the same period, was also in direct communication with the team’s leader in Istanbul, the assessment says. The content of the messages between Prince Mohammed and Mr. Qahtani isn’t known, the document says. It doesn’t say in what form the messages were sent.”

The article goes on:

“The judgment on Prince Mohammed’s likely culpability, the CIA assessment says, is based on the crown prince’s personal focus on Mr. Khashoggi, his tight control over the Saudi operatives sent to Istanbul to kill him, “and his authorizing some of the same operators to violently target other opponents.”

“Mr. Qahtani has led Prince Mohammed’s efforts to crack down on dissent internally and abroad. He is one of the 17 sanctioned by the Treasury.

“[…]

“The highly classified CIA assessment says that the Saudi team sent to kill Mr. Khashoggi was assembled from Prince Mohammed’s top security units in the Royal Guard and in an organization run by Mr. Qahtani, the Center for Studies and Media Affairs at the Royal Court, the Saudi royal court’s media department.

“‘We assess it is highly unlikely this team of operators…carried out the operation without Muhammed bin Salman’s authorization,’ it says.

“The document says that Mr. Qahtani ‘explicitly requested the Crown Prince’s permission when he pursued other sensitive operations in 2015, which reflects the Crown Prince’s command and control expectations.’

It is therefore true that there is no “smoking gun” proving that Salman ordered the murder, the available evidence seems to point to no other conclusion.  For the US government to pretend otherwise is an insult to our intelligence.

 

 

The “yellow jacket” protests seem to be escalating and show no signs of letting up in France.   The protests began in November in dissatisfaction against rising fuel prices caused by higher taxes designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they seemed to have morphed into more generalized protests against the economic situation in France.  The Guardian describes the situation in France:

“Across France, more than 75,000 gilets jaunes demonstrated in cities or blocked roads and toll booths, some briefly stormed the runway of Nantes airport and others blocked supermarkets and major motorway junctions or staged barricades near government buildings. There were 580 roadblocks across the country.

The yellow jacket protest movement has no leader and no clearly articulated program–it seems to have support across both the left and right.  But it has also spread to Belgium, a worrying sign that it will be difficult to address.

 

Protests in France

A demonstrator holds a French flag during a protest of Yellow vests in Paris, France on on December 1, 2018.

 

 

The Ebola virus is a hemorrhagic fever with a mortality rate of about 70%.  The most deadly outbreak was in West Africa in 2014-16 which killed about 11,000 people, but a new outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo is particularly worrisome.  The new outbreak is in a very dangerous war zone   which makes it very difficult to address because medical authorities are reluctant to send in the highly skilled personnel necessary to contain the spread of the virus.  The violence in Congo has killed hundreds of thousands and has led to “at least 2.7 million internally displaced persons in the DRC, and approximately 450,000 DRC refugees in other nations.”  There is also a large movement of people across the borders to Rwanda and Uganda which is generally uncontrolled.  We will have to watch this situation carefully.

Posted December 1, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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