Thursday, November 23, 2017

Latest In Saudi Arabia: Torture, Beatings And Transferring Funds To The Government!

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Making Sense of the Middle East - James Corbett on Declare Your Independence
Corbett Report Extras
Published on Nov 22, 2017
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The Saudi Purge is a Global Crisis
corbettreport
Published on Nov 17, 2017
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Is MBS’s supreme anti-corruption committee torturing Ritz detainees?
An 'exclusive' report by a British news outlet says people rounded up by the crown prince are being beaten
By Uwe Parpart
November 23, 2017
The London Daily Mail’s online edition on Thursday published an exclusive report claiming: “American mercenaries are torturing Saudi elite rounded up by new crown prince – and billionaire Prince Alwaleed was hung upside down ‘just to send a message.'”
“They are beating them, torturing them, slapping them, insulting them. They want to break them down,” DailyMail.com quotes its source as saying.
We have no direct-source verification of the specific claims in the Daily Mail piece. However, reports of beatings and torture of Saudi princes, former ministers, and leading businessmen held in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton hotel and the nearby Courtyard Riyadh Diplomatic Quarter on allegations of corruption have been coming to light since at least November 10.
Cross-checking of such reports and independent verification with diplomatic sources by now provides a high degree of confidence that torture has been taking place to extract admissions of guilt and – more important – to extract funds in the billions of dollars. 
The Financial Times has reported that Supreme Committee investigators and interrogators are seeking up to 70% of detainees’ wealth in return for their release.
Among the individuals beaten and tortured and admitted to a hospital on November 6, according to Asia Times’ sources, was Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, son of the late King Abdullah and deposed commander of the SANG (Saudi Arabian National Guard). The New York Times reports that as many as 17 detainees have required medical treatment.
Were “American mercenaries” involved in the “enhanced interrogations”, beatings and torture? The Daily Mail source named “Blackwater” as the private US security firm involved. That’s nonsense. Blackwater no longer exists. The firm’s assets were sold in 2010 to Forte Capital Advisors and Manhattan Strategic Ventures and renamed Academi.
Academi, through its owners Constellis, told the Daily Mail that it had no operations of any kind in Saudi Arabia. That may in fact be true. However, it is a well-documented fact that Blackwater founder Erik Prince, after he sold Blackwater, moved to Abu Dhabi in 2011 and helped develop an 800-man foreign (mainly Colombian and South African) mercenary force for the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ).
Prince has since moved on again and through his firm Frontier Services Group, a Hong Kong-listed company, provides logistics and security services to, inter alia, Chinese state-owned enterprises. But while Prince has moved on, the mercenary troop he helped build did not, and some of those mercenaries are now deployed by the United Arab Emirates to Yemen, where they fight side-by-side with Saudi troops in so-far-unsuccessful efforts to put down the Houthi rebellion.
One can hardly rule out that MBZ, as he is known, has lent some of his mercenaries trained in the art of interrogation to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It is a well-know fact that the 56-year-old Abu Dhabi ruler has for several years been the 32-year old MBS’s principal mentor

But alas, why really must we assume that enhanced interrogation is the exclusive bailiwick of US military or intelligence organs? MBS and his Supreme Committee may well have perfectly capable home-grown practitioners.
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Purged Saudis start paying for freedom
Detained officials, businessmen have already begun transferring funds to government, sources say
By Asia Times Staff
November 23, 2017
A group of Saud Arabian suspects being held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh for alleged corruption has already begun to strike deals with the government, sources say.
Bloomberg is reporting that some of the detainees are signing agreements with authorities to transfer a portion of their personal assets to the Saudi government, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.
If true, the report suggests the kingdom is having some success moving the settlement process along quickly. The political upheaval which began with the arrest of royals and other billionaires earlier this month comes at a time when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is trying to attract foreign investment. Economists, however, expect the crackdown to slow already sluggish private investment and weigh on economic growth next year.

Should the settlement process go according to plan, authorities reportedly estimate they could recover between US$50 and US$100 billion from agreements with the detained suspects.
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The inside story of the Saudi night of long knives
Princes, ministers and a billionaire are 'imprisoned' in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton while the Saudi Arabian Army is said to be in an uproar
By Pepe Escobar
November 6, 2017
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Photo: AFP
The House of Saud’s King Salman devises an high-powered “anti-corruption” commission and appoints his son, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, a.k.a. MBS, as chairman.
Right on cue, the commission detains 11 House of Saud princes, four current ministers and dozens of former princes/cabinet secretaries – all charged with corruption. Hefty bank accounts are frozen, private jets are grounded. The high-profile accused lot is “jailed” at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton.
War breaks out within the House of Saud, as Asia Times had anticipated back in July. Rumors have been swirling for months about a coup against MBS in the making. Instead, what just happened is yet another MBS pre-emptive coup.
A top Middle East business/investment source who has been doing deals for decades with the opaque House of Saud offers much-needed perspective: “This is more serious than it appears. The arrest of the two sons of previous King Abdullah, Princes Miteb and Turki, was a fatal mistake. This now endangers the King himself. It was only the regard for the King that protected MBS. There are many left in the army against MBS and they are enraged at the arrest of their commanders.”
To say the Saudi Arabian Army is in uproar is an understatement. “He’d have to arrest the whole army before he could feel secure.”
Prince Miteb until recently was a serious contender to the Saudi throne. But the highest profile among the detainees belongs to billionaire Prince al-Waleed Bin Talal, owner of Kingdom Holdings, major shareholder in Twitter, CitiBank, Four Seasons, Lyft and, until recently, Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp.
Al-Waleed’s arrest ties up with a key angle; total information control. There’s no freedom of information in Saudi Arabia. MBS already controls all the internal media (as well as the appointment of governorships). But then there’s Saudi media at large. MBS aims to “hold the keys to all the large media empires and relocate them to Saudi Arabia.”
So how did we get here?
The secrets behind the purge
The story starts with secret deliberations in 2014 about a possible “removal” of then King Abdullah. But “the dissolution of the royal family would lead to the breaking apart of tribal loyalties and the country splitting into three parts. It would be more difficult to secure the oil, and the broken institutions whatever they were should be maintained to avoid chaos.”
Instead, a decision was reached to get rid of Prince Bandar bin Sultan – then actively coddling Salafi-jihadis in Syria – and replace the control of the security apparatus with Mohammed bin Nayef.
The succession of Abdullah proceeded smoothly. “Power was shared between three main clans: King Salman (and his beloved son Prince Mohammed); the son of Prince Nayef (the other Prince Mohammed), and finally the son of the dead king (Prince Miteb, commander of the National Guard). In practice, Salman let MBS run the show.
And, in practice, blunders also followed. The House of Saud lost its lethal regime-change drive in Syria and is bogged down in an unwinnable war on Yemen, which on top of it prevents MBS from exploiting the Empty Quarter – the desert straddling both nations.
The Saudi Treasury was forced to borrow on the international markets. Austerity ruled – with news of MBS buying a yacht for almost half a billion dollars while lazing about the Cote d’Azur not going down particularly well. Hardcore political repression is epitomized by the decapitation of Shi’ite leader Sheikh Al-Nimr. Not only the Shi’ites in the Eastern province are rebelling but also Sunni provinces in the west.
As the regime’s popularity radically tumbled down, MBS came up with Vision 2030. Theoretically, it was shift away from oil; selling off part of Aramco; and an attempt to bring in new industries. Cooling off dissatisfaction was covered by royal payoffs to key princes to stay loyal and retroactive payments on back wages to the unruly masses.
Yet Vision 2030 cannot possibly work when the majority of productive jobs in Saudi Arabia are held by expats. Bringing in new jobs raises the question of where are the new (skilled) workers to come from.
Throughout these developments, aversion to MBS never ceased to grow; “There are three major royal family groups aligning against the present rulers: the family of former King Abdullah, the family of former King Fahd, and the family of former Crown Prince Nayef.”
Nayef – who replaced Bandar – is close to Washington and extremely popular in Langley due to his counter-terrorism activities. His arrest earlier this year angered the CIA and quite a few factions of the House of Saud – as it was interpreted as MBS forcing his hand in the power struggle.
According to the source, “he might have gotten away with the arrest of CIA favorite Mohammed bin Nayef if he smoothed it over but MBS has now crossed the Rubicon though he is no Caesar. The CIA regards him as totally worthless.”
Some sort of stability could eventually be found in a return to the previous power sharing between the Sudairis (without MBS) and the Chamars (the tribe of deceased King Abdullah). After the death of King Salman, the source would see it as “MBS isolated from power, which would be entrusted to the other Prince Mohammed (the son of Nayef). And Prince Miteb would conserve his position.”
MBS acted exactly to prevent this outcome. The source, though, is adamant; “There will be regime change in the near future, and the only reason that it has not happened already is because the old King is liked among his family. It is possible that there may be a struggle emanating from the military as during the days of King Farouk, and we may have a ruler arise that is not friendly to the United States.”
‘Moderate’ Salafi-jihadis, anyone?
Before the purge, the House of Saud’s incessant spin centered on a $500 billion zone straddling Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, on the Red Sea coast, a sort of Dubai replica to be theoretically completed by 2025, powered by wind and solar energy, and financed by its sovereign wealth fund and proceeds from the Aramco IPO.
In parallel, MBS pulled another rabbit from his hat swearing the future of Saudi Arabia is a matter of “simply reverting to what we followed – a moderate Islam open to the world and all religions.”
In a nutshell: a state that happens to be the private property of a royal family inimical to all principles of freedom of expression and religion, as well as the ideological matrix of all forms of Salafi-jihadism simply cannot metastasize into a “moderate” state just because MBS says so.
Meanwhile, a pile-up of purges, coups and countercoups shall be the norm.
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Also See:

A Little Background And Some Current News On Saudi Arabia!

17 November 2017

and

Surprising News: Coup in Saudi Arabia!

07 November 2017
and

Who Backs ISIS? How and Why!

31 October 2017
and

What is the Secret of the Georgia Guildstones?

30 September 2015
and

Saudi King Abdullahbin Abdulaziz al Saud

25 January 2015
and

What Do You Know About Saudi Arabia?

29 September 2013
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