Trending Topics:

‘NY Times’ explains why the U.S. is ‘standing by’ the Saudi crown prince — but somehow leaves out the Israel connection

on 31 Comments

Here’s an astonishing failure by two otherwise excellent New York Times reporters: they wrote a long, valuable analysis about why the U.S. is “standing by” the murderous crown prince of Saudi Arabia — but they only mentioned Israel’s support for him twice. 

In a front-page story in today’s paper, David D. Kirkpatrick and Ben Hubbard explain why the kingdom’s de facto leader, 33-year-old Mohammed bin Salman, is in no immediate danger of losing power despite (almost certainly) ordering the murder a month ago of the dissident journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. They report that the U.S. government is continuing to support the crown prince, and that “Major figures in [American] finance signaled that they, too, intended to look past the killing.”

But the de facto Israel-Saudi Arabia alliance is only mentioned in passing. Surely reporters as good as Kirkpatrick and Hubbard could have found high-level sources within both Israel and the U.S. who could have detailed the obvious — that Israel wants Mohammed bin Salman to stay exactly where he is, no matter what brutal crimes he ordered. And in the Trump administration, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has more influence in a U.S. government than he ever has had before.

Today, a full month after Jamal Khashoggi was apparently killed and dismembered in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Netanyahu finally commented publicly on the Khashoggi killing. After a meeting in Bulgaria, he said:

What happened in the Istanbul consulate was horrendous and it should be duly dealt with. Yet at the same time I say it, it is very important for the stability of the world, for the region and for the world, that Saudi Arabia remain stable.”

Meanwhile, Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, published a heartfelt plea in the Washington Post. After some moving personal memories, she challenged the rest of the world, especially the United States:

It is now up to the international community to bring the perpetrators to justice. Of all nations, the United States should be leading the way. The country was founded on the ideals of liberty and justice for all, the First Amendment enshrining the ideals personified by Jamal. But the Trump administration has taken a position that is devoid of moral foundation.

At least the U.S. criticized the killing of her fiancee, even if in the end Trump will not take action. Until today, official Israel said not a word.

James North

James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large, and has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for four decades. He lives in New York City.

Other posts by .

Posted In:

31 Responses

  1. Kay24 on November 2, 2018, 4:30 pm

    Article after article, you can clearly see the New York Times is pro Israel, is biased, and have many journalists who try to portray Israel as the beacon of shining light. They have no credibility when it comes to Israel.

    A very appropriate cartoon.

    • Maghlawatan on November 2, 2018, 6:44 pm

      The NYT does Israel drunk or sober while opposing Trump, pointing out his mendacity, violence, peddling of hatred, marginalization of minorities, use of fear to corral voters and threatening behavior. All Zionist behaviors. Acceptable for Israel but not for Trump. Go figure

    • Misterioso on November 3, 2018, 10:23 am

      @Kay24, et al

      Interesting read:

      “After the Khashoggi Murder, It is Up To Israel to Repair the Crack in the Axis of Evil”
      by Andrew Levine – CounterPunch, Oct. 26/18


      “That the United States is in league with Saudi Arabia is not exactly news; America has been throwing its weight around in ways detrimental to the historically Muslim world since the end of the Second World War. But now that Trump is in the White House, and Middle East policy is in the hands of Jared Kushner, his joined at the hip to Netanyahu son-in-law, the problem is worse than ever.”

      “To make their mark on the world, they are both utterly dependent on the United States. The United States depends on Saudi Arabia for its oil, for the financial clout its oil makes possible, and for keeping the global oil market on track in ways that accord with America’s global interests. Israel has nothing comparable to offer the United States – it is no longer even useful as an off-shore military base — but the political clout of the Israel lobby, both Jewish and Evangelical Christian, more than makes up for the deficit.

      “I believe that these lobbies, the Jewish one especially, are paper tigers and that this will become apparent to everyone if and when they are boldly defied. But the American political class thinks differently, and that is all that matters.

      “In any case, their relations with the United States are not what is holding them together. Their animosity towards Iran is the reason for that.

      “The United States has it in for Iran in large part because its foreign policy establishment l holds a grudge for the humiliation America suffered during the hostage crisis four decades ago.

      “To be sure, the United States is, for the most part, just what as Gore Vidal famously said it was, ‘the United States of Amnesia.’ The bromance now flourishing between two of our most loathsome domestic political figures, Trump and Ted Cruz, attests to that.”

      • Kay24 on November 3, 2018, 10:59 am

        Let’s not forget that Cruz is also a suck up for Israel….he made sure he was there when the US embassy was (stupidly) moved to Jerusalem. Maybe the zionists are helping his campaign in some way.
        I agree that they plot against Iran. America, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, are guilty of many international crimes, and can hardly point their filthy fingers at Iran, but they still do, knowing their demonizing of Iran will be accepted among the warmongers in their countries. I think it is part amnesia, and part indifference.

  2. Citizen on November 2, 2018, 8:37 pm

    Maybe somebody should ask the paper’s executive editor–when’s the last time it had one who was not obsessed with minding Israel’s store?

  3. DaBakr on November 2, 2018, 11:20 pm

    Saudis have always had as powerful a lobby among very powerful political entities in the US as israel has had. And at times their lobbying power was superior to Israel. North is too israel-centric to admit this i suspect

    And the accompanying cartoonist obviously believes Iran’s meddling in Yemen is strictly humanitarian not geo-strategic, just as their expansion into Iraq Syria Lebanon and Gaza is all about saving lives.

    • annie on November 3, 2018, 3:49 am

      Saudis have always had as powerful a lobby among very powerful political entities in the US as israel has had.

      source? you’re crazy.

      • DaBakr on November 4, 2018, 12:19 am


        I’m crazy? Bush had been close friends with the Saudi royal family for decades. W called one of the Kings brothers, former head of intelligence service, uncle. The US State dept has been grossly pro Gulf Arab for decades. The Saudis own huge swaths of Manhattan real estate. They lobbied for F-16s and got them decades ago when they were the premier fighter jets available. I could go on but it’s silly to have to justify something so obvious for so long. You’ve heard of big oil I presume.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on November 3, 2018, 7:15 am

      “Saudis have always had as powerful a lobby among very powerful political entities in the US as israel has had. And at times their lobbying power was superior to Israel.”

      Not really. There has always been criticism of the Saudis in the US press, which would never be tolerated if it were Israel.

      Besides, the only reason the Saudis have a powerful lobby is because they play nice with Israel. It’s long been clear that if you want to get ahead in Washington, you need to get the ‘OK’ from the Israel lobby. Look at the Qataris, who are desperately trying to get Washington onside in their spat with the Saudis – cozying up big time to Israel and even killing the documentary on the lobby.

      • DaBakr on November 4, 2018, 12:29 am


        Refer to my reply to annie. You think the KSA hasn’t had an outsized influence at high levels of US govt is naive. Your comparison to Israel and your wrongness about the relationship being based on how “nice” it plays with Israel is absurd. KSA was an arch enemy of Israel until recently.

        And as for not having a positive view among americans and the american media… What the fk
        were the Saudis going to do? Lobby the US about how liberal it’s iron fisted grip on power was? Promote its public beheadings? Brag about the women that are owned by their men and only very recently were allowed to drive?
        I think you totally misunderstand the relationship between the US and Israel versus its relationship to KSA. But yes, that paradigm shifted wth Iranian mullah expansionism clashing with Saudi desire to stay dominant in Gulf region.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on November 4, 2018, 9:52 am

        “You think the KSA hasn’t had an outsized influence at high levels of US govt is naive. ”

        Hmmmm… not what I said though, is it? Of course the Saudis have a huge and malign influence on US politics. It’s just not on the same level as Israel’s influence.

        “KSA was an arch enemy of Israel until recently.”

        You’re going to have to be specific here. I’ve been following Middle East affairs for years and I don’t recall the Saudis threatening to stop doing business with the USA – or any other nation – if they continued to support Israel, I don’t recall them lending support to the Arab resistance (quite the opposite in fact) or indulging in pro-Palestinian rhetoric, other than a few platitudes for appearance’s sake.

        So how, exactly has this ‘arch-emnity’ manifisted itself?

        ” But yes, that paradigm shifted wth Iranian mullah expansionism clashing with Saudi desire to stay dominant in Gulf region.”

        Iran’s actions have mostly been defensive, either of itself or its allies.

        You must be so proud of Israel kissing up to one of the most brutal regimes on earth. Not that that it anything new, of course. As a general rule, the more right-wing and oppressive a regime it, the more Israel is likely to love it very much.

    • Donald on November 3, 2018, 9:39 am

      Almost as powerful, I would say. With the Saudi government , the only people who like them are paid to like them, but they have a lot of money and it goes a long way. People do criticize them in the press, but they mostly get what they want anyway. It will be interesting to see if this changes after Khashoggi. I doubt it.

      With the Israel Lobby there is the added advantage that they will accuse critics of being antisemitic and most politicians would much rather not be in a position where they have to defend themselves against that charge.

    • eljay on November 3, 2018, 10:08 am

      || DaBakr: Saudis have always had as powerful a lobby among very powerful political entities in the US as israel has had. … ||

      And yet, unlike Israel, they can’t seem to motivate American politicians to routinely and publicly fall over themselves to pledge undying allegiance to / proclaim their fervent love for / eagerly fellate the Saudi donkey. That’s gotta sting.  :-(

      • DaBakr on November 4, 2018, 12:34 am


        I’ll give you two examples of why this is:

        1) go to Israel, strip down to a thong and march down city street protesting LGBT rights then finish with a coffee at outdoor cafe

        2) repeat in Riyadh and see if you make it to anywhere before being arrested or killed. Same goes for Teheran.

      • Marnie on November 4, 2018, 8:21 am

        @Dab –

        Wow that’s old. You did nothing more than whataboutery. How lazy of you. Using gay people in this manner is called pink-washing. If you can’t make your point without using gay people, women, ‘arab israelis’, etc., as props then maybe sit this one out.

      • eljay on November 4, 2018, 9:12 am

        || @aak: @ej

        I’ll give you two examples of why this is:

        1) go to Israel, strip down to a thong and march down city street protesting LGBT rights then finish with a coffee at outdoor cafe

        2) repeat in Riyadh and see if you make it to anywhere before being arrested or killed. … ||

        Right: Israel isn’t quite as bad as Saudi Arabia, etc. Which means that obeisance made to Saudi Arabia should be not quite as great as what is made to Israel. But it isn’t remotely close. (And that’s gotta sting.)

        It’s almost as though…what’s the term? Oh, right: It’s almost as though American politicians are “singling out” the “Jewish State”.

        || … Same goes for Teheran. ||

        I wasn’t aware that Iran has “as powerful a lobby among very powerful political entities in the US” like Israel and Saudi Arabia. Huh.

    • CigarGod on November 3, 2018, 10:37 am

      Certainly powerful.
      Back when Bush 1 was president there was quite a disussion about the influence SA had on America.
      They were said to own 1/7th of our economy.

      • Marnie on November 4, 2018, 8:25 am

        I think that point was made in the movie Fahrenheit 9/11 when Michael Moore was trying to go to the saudi embassy(?) and was talking about Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud, AKA “Bandar Bush”. He said something about the deep doodoo the u.s. would be in if the saudi’s decided to withdraw all their money from american banks.Sleeping with dogs as usual USA.

    • Misterioso on November 3, 2018, 11:56 am


      “And the accompanying cartoonist obviously believes Iran’s meddling in Yemen is strictly humanitarian not geo-strategic, just as their expansion into Iraq Syria Lebanon and Gaza is all about saving lives.”

      Yes, by providing military and humanitarian assistance to Yemen whose people are being murdered en masse by Saudi Arabia, Iran is also acting geo-strategically. After all, it does have an interest in maintaining access to the nearby sea lane for its oil tankers, which it would be denied if MSB and his fellow monsters gain control of Yemen.

      Regarding Iraq: How convenient of you to ignore the fact that through its U.S. lobby, the entity known as “Israel” played a key role (see John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s THE ISRAEL LOBBY AND U.S. FOREIGN POLICY) in convincing then US President George W. Bush, et al, to launch an illegal invasion/occupation of Iraq that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, about three million fleeing refugees, the destruction of their infra-structure and the resulting chaos and killing that continue to this day.

      Regarding Syria: The current mess in Syria and intervention supporting Assad by Iran (and Hezbollah) stems from Israel’s invasion, dispossession and expulsion of 150,000 Syrians and its ongoing occupation of Syria’s Golan Heights during the war it launched on 5 June 1967.

      A few facts: If, as Israel would have us believe, Syrian shelling from the Golan Heights was incessant, destructive and murderous, why is it that the UN Truce Supervision Organization chiefs at the time seldom make any mention of the Heights in their memoirs? In fact, the only direct reference to Syrian guns was made by Major General Carl von Horn who stated that it was “unlikely [the Syrian guns] would have come into action had it not been for Israeli provocation.” (Major General Carl von Horn, Soldiering for Peace, David McKay company, Inc., New York, 1967, p. 129)

      Von Horn’s views were supported by the U.S. Consul in Jerusalem. A cable sent to Washington in July 1964 observed that “‘Arabs concerned selves basically with preservation situation envisioned in [the UN armistice agreements] while Israel consistently sought gain full control.’ Israel, it continued was ’emerging victorious largely because UN never able to oppose aggressive and armed Israeli occupation and assertion actual control over such areas [DMZs], and Arab neighbours not really prepared for required fighting’. The cable concluded that UN observers generally credited Syria for ‘restraint over long period in face Israel seizure control in [DMZs] by force or constant threat using it’.” (Dr. Finkelstein, Image and…. p. 131)

      United Nations records for the years 1949-67 also make it clear as to who was responsible for the violence on the northern front: “[There is] no Security Council resolution condemning Syria for aggressive actions against Israel during this period, nor is there a veto of such a resolution. There are four Security Council resolutions condemning Israel. UN observers in the field and UN votes in New York are unanimous in holding that principal responsibility for the Syrian-Israeli border hostilities belongs to Israel.” (Dr. Norman Finkelstein, Image and…p.132)

      Any doubt that Israel had utterly misrepresented the role that Syrian shelling played in its decision to seize the Golan Heights during the 1967 war was put to rest by then Defence Minister Moshe Dayan during private conversations he had with Israeli journalist Rami Tal in 1976. Although Dayan died in 1981 (the year Israel annexed the Golan Heights), his comments were not made public until they were published at the request of his daughter, Yael, in the Israeli daily newspapers, Yediot Ahronot and Ha’aretz in 1997.

      Regarding Syrian shelling, Dayan declared: “I can tell you how at least 80% of the incidents began…we would send a tractor to plough at some spot where it was impossible to do anything in the demilitarized zone, knowing in advance that the Syrians would start shooting. If the Syrians didn’t react, we would instruct the tractorists to keep advancing until the Syrians finally became fidgety enough to open fire, and then we activated our artillery and later the air force. That was the pattern. I did it, and Laskov and Chara (Commander-in-Chief Tzvi Tzur) did it, Yitzhak Rabin did it…. At the time, we thought – and this was the case for a long time – that we could change the armistice lines by military activity that stopped short of war, that is, by snatching a piece of territory and holding on to it until the enemy gave up in despair and let us have it.” (“The Myth of the Golan Heights,” by Amnon Danker, Ha’aretz, 5 May 1997).

      Dayan confirmed that Syria posed no threat and revealed that the real reason Israel conquered the Golan Heights (and expelled nearly all of the native Arab population) was to seize its fertile farm lands and gain control of the upper waters of the Jordan River: “‘I made a mistake in allowing the conquest of the Golan Heights. As defense minister I should have stopped it because the Syrians were not threatening us at the time.’ The attack proceeded, he went on, not because Israel was threatened but because of pressure from land-hungry farmers and army commanders in northern Israel. ‘Of course [war with Syria] was not necessary. You can say the Syrians are bastards and attack when you want. But this is not policy. You don’t open aggression against an enemy because he’s a bastard but because he’s a threat’.” (Quoted in the editorial, “Israel and Syria: Correcting the Record,” by Stephen S. Rosenfeld, The Washington Post, 24 December 1999)

      Unaware of the pressure he was under from expansionists, two other well known Israeli generals wondered why Moshe Dayan ordered the invasion of Syria at 11:30 A.M. on June 9 – a full four days after Israel launched the war and four-and- one-half hours after Damascus had agreed to abide by the UN Security Council’s demand for a cease-fire. “[General Yitzhak] Rabin wrote in his memoir that he has ‘never grasped the reasons’ for Dayan’s decision to launch the assault. [General] Ezer Weizman, who likewise could give ‘no explanation’ for

      Dayan’s action, rhetorically asked years later, ‘if indeed the Syrian enemy threatened to destroy us, why did we wait three days before we attacked it?” (Quoted by Norman Finkelstein, Image and…pp. 133-34)

      Regarding Lebanon: Israel’s first invasion of Lebanon occurred during the 1948 war. Since then, it has repeatedly invaded and occupied Lebanon for years, killed and dispossessed thousands of Lebanese, including organizing and overseeing the mass murder of Lebanese by the Phalangists in the Shatila and Sabra refugee camps. To this day, seized during the war it launched in June 1967, Israel still occupies Lebanon’s Shebba Farms/Kfarshuba Hills.

      Regarding Gaza: It is hardly surprising that Iran should provide assistance to the imprisoned, long suffering, essentially defenseless Gazans who have been murdered on a daily basis by “Israel” and slaughtered en masse during its repeated attacks and invasions by land, sea and air.

      Nor should we forget that contrary to its spin, “Israel” is still illegally
      occupying the Gaza Strip:

      As officially declared by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in a five page statement: “The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility. The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law.” The ICRC thus unequivocally stated that Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip constitutes a violation of international humanitarian law embodied in the Geneva Conventions. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, ratified by Israel, bans collective punishment of a civilian population.

      • DaBakr on November 4, 2018, 12:37 am


        You wrote all that just to say your pro fanatic tyrannical mullah regime in Iran. Super.

  4. Ossinev on November 3, 2018, 8:15 am

    “Saudis have always had as powerful a lobby among very powerful political entities in the US as israel has had. And at times their lobbying power was superior to Israel”

    Examples/names/institutions/dates/policies. please. You know those annoying irritating “entities” known as facts.

    It would also help to know when Iran invaded Iraq,Syria,Lebanon and Gaza or anywhere else for that matter. I must have missed the news broadcasts.

    • annie on November 3, 2018, 12:11 pm

      the gulf countries pour a lot of money into DC think tanks that all compete with each other for those funds. the think tank crowds are the elites of DC and end up on panels and msm as pundits (charles lister types). saudi arabia, israel and DC elites share similar agenda and concepts of ‘stability’ in the ME (anti iran) but the way they influence is very different imho.

      think tanks who get money from a country are not going to criticize that country, they self censor and ignore human rights abuses. that’s why there was silence about yemen. but to say their lobbying power was (or is) superior to israel is ridiculous. where are the SA and UAE superpacs bundling millions for politicians? i just don’t see it. it’s one thing being chummy on the cocktail circuit and flying off to dubai for friendly innovation soirees and not writing about yemen. it’s a whole other ball game publicly agitating for US war on Iran for decades and publicly announcing/threatening you’re making lists of politicians who cross you.

      so while SA and the gulf states have purchased loyalty w/the DC think tankers/elite. israel has purchased the politicians and severely punishes those who step out of line. that’s a far cry from withholding rotating million(s) dollar donations to think tanks. anyone who thinks paying off the pundit class/cocktail circuit has more pull than aipac is nuts.

      • Sibiriak on November 3, 2018, 1:35 pm

        annie: so while SA and the gulf states have purchased loyalty w/the DC think tankers/elite. israel has purchased the politicians and severely punishes those who step out of line

        While there’s no doubt the Israel Lobby is most powerful by far, and has that incredible “punishing” power you mention, the Saudi Lobby is now quite extensive and multifaceted.

        How Saudi Money Keeps the US at War in Yemen

        [..]The roots of that lobby’s rise to prominence in Washington lie in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. As you may remember, with 15 of those 19 suicidal hijackers being citizens of Saudi Arabia, it was hardly surprising that American public opinion had soured on the Kingdom. In response, the worried Saudi royals spent around $100 million over the next decade to improve such public perceptions and retain their influence in the U.S. capital. That lobbying facelift proved a success until, in 2015, relations soured with the Obama administration over the Iran nuclear deal. Once Donald Trump won the presidency, however, the Saudis saw an unparalleled opportunity and launched the equivalent of a full-court press, an aggressive campaign to woo the newly elected president and the Republican-led Congress, which, of course, cost real money.

        As a result, the growth of Saudi lobbying operations would prove extraordinary. In 2016, according to FARA records, they reported spending just under $10 million on lobbying firms; in 2017, that number had nearly tripled to $27.3 million. And that’s just a baseline figure for a far larger operation to buy influence in Washington, since it doesn’t include considerable sums given to elite universities or think tanks like the Arab Gulf States Institute, the Middle East Institute, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (to mention just a few of them).

        This meteoric rise in spending allowed the Saudis to dramatically increase the number of lobbyists representing their interests on both sides of the aisle. Before President Trump even took office, the Saudi government signed a deal with the McKeon Group, a lobbying firm headed by Howard “Buck” McKeon, the recently retired Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. His firm also represents Lockheed Martin, one of the top providers of military equipment to the Kingdom. On the Democratic side, the Saudis inked a $140,000-per-month deal with the Podesta Group, headed by Tony Podesta, whose brother John, a long-time Democratic Party operative, was the former chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Tony Podesta later dissolved his firm and has allegedly been investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for serving as an unregistered foreign agent.

        And keep in mind that all this new firepower was added to an already formidable arsenal of lobbying outfits and influential power brokers, including former Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, who, according to Lee Fang of the Intercept, was “deeply involved in the [Trump] White House hiring process,” and former Senator Norm Coleman, chairman of the pro-Republican Super PAC American Action Network. All told, during 2017, Saudi Arabia inked 45 different contracts with FARA-registered firms and more than 100 individuals registered as Saudi foreign agents in the U.S. They proved to be extremely busy. Such activity reveals a clear pattern: Saudi foreign agents are working tirelessly to shape perceptions of that country, its royals, its policies, and especially its grim war in Yemen, while simultaneously working to keep U.S. weapons and military support flowing into the Kingdom.

        While the term “foreign agent” is often used as a synonym for lobbyist, part of the work performed by the Kingdom’s paid representatives here resembles public relations activity far more than straightforward lobbying. For example, in 2017, Saudi foreign agents reported contacting media outlets more than 500 times, including significant outreach to national ones like the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and PBS, which has aired multiple documentaries about the Kingdom. Also included, however, were smaller papers like the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and more specialized outlets, even ESPN, in hopes of encouraging positive stories.

        The Kingdom’s image in the U.S. clearly concerned those agents. Still, the lion’s share of their activity was focused on security issues of importance to that country’s royals. For example, Saudi agents contacted officials at the State Department, which oversees most commercial arms transfers and sales, nearly 100 times in 2017, according to FARA filings. Above all, however, their focus was on Congress, especially members with seniority on key committees. As a result, at some point between late 2016 and the end of 2017, Saudi lobbyists contacted more than 200 of them, including every single Senator.

        The ones most often dealt with were, not surprisingly, those with the greatest leverage over U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia. For example, the office of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who sits on both the appropriations and armed services committees, was the most contacted, while that of Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) was the top Democratic one. (He sits on the appropriations and foreign relations committees.)

        Following the Money from Saudi Arabia to Campaign Coffers

        Just as there’s a clear pattern when it comes to contacting congressional representatives who might help their Saudi clients, so there’s a clear pattern to the lobbying money flowing to those same members of Congress.

        The FARA documents that record all foreign-agent political activity also list campaign contributions reported by those agents. Just as we did for political activities, the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative program conducted an analysis of all campaign contributions reported in those 2017 filings by firms that represented Saudi interests. And here’s what we found: more than a third of the members of Congress contacted by such a firm also received a campaign contribution from a foreign agent at that firm. In total, according to their 2017 FARA filings, foreign agents at firms representing Saudi clients made $390,496 in campaign contributions to congressional figures they, or another agent at their firm, contacted on behalf of their Saudi clients.

        This flow of money is best exemplified by the 11 separate occasions we uncovered in which a firm reported contacting a congressional representative on behalf of Saudi clients on the same day someone at the same firm made a campaign contribution to the same senator or House member. In other words, there are 10 other cases just like Marc Lampkin’s, involving foreign agents at Squire Patton Boggs, DLA Piper, and Hogan Lovells. For instance, Hogan Lovells reported meeting with Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) on behalf of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia on April 26, 2017, and that day an agent at the firm made a $2,700 contribution to “Bob Corker for Senate 2018.” (Corker would later decide not to seek reelection.)

        While some might argue that contributions like these look a lot like bribery, they turn out to be perfectly legal. No law bars such an act, and while it’s true that foreign nationals and foreign governments are prohibited from making contributions to political campaigns, there’s a simple work-around for that, one the Saudis obviously made use of big time. Any foreign power hoping to line the pockets of American politicians just has to hire a local lobbyist to do it for them.

        As Jimmy Williams, a former lobbyist, wrote: “Today, most lobbyists are engaged in a system of bribery, but it’s the legal kind.”

        The Saudi Lobby Today

        Fast forward to late 2018 and that very same lobby is now fighting vigorously to defeat a House measure that would end U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen. They’re flooding congressional offices with their requests, in effect asking Congress to ignore the more than 10,000 civilians who have died in Yemen, the U.S. bombs that have been the cause of many of those deaths, and a civil war that has led to a resurgence of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP. They’ll probably mention Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent “certification” that the Saudis are now supposedly taking the necessary steps to prevent more civilian casualties there.

        What they’re not likely to mention is that his decision was reportedly driven by the head of the legislative affairs team at the State Department who just happens to be a former foreign agent with BGR Government Affairs, one of 35 FARA registrants working for Saudi Arabia at this moment. Such lobbyists and publicists are using the deep pockets of the Saudi royals to spread their propaganda, highlighting the charitable work that government is doing in Yemen. What they fail to emphasize, of course, are the Saudi blockade of the country and the American-backed, armed, and fueled air strikes that are killing civilians at weddings, funerals, school bus trips, and other civilian events. All of this is, in addition, helping to create a grotesque famine, a potential disaster of the most extreme sort and the very reason such humanitarian assistance is needed.

        In the end, even if the facts aren’t on their side, the dollars are. Since September 2001, that reality has proven remarkably convincing in Washington, as copious dollars flowed from Saudi Arabia to U.S. military contractors (who are making billions selling weapons to that country), to lobbying firms, and via those firms directly into Congressional coffers.

      • annie on November 3, 2018, 3:40 pm

        Sibiriak, i had no idea!

      • DaBakr on November 4, 2018, 12:41 am

        You think the Bush family and the US State dept are “think tankers”? And that’s only two examples out of dozens. KSA don’t compare in any areas except in their level of influence. Of course the KSA isn’t going to be in the public political discourse because americans have never had a cultural or political affinity for the KSA and its ownership by a family.

  5. HenryL on November 3, 2018, 9:59 am

    Israel’s influence, while mighty, is not the basis for US actions in the Middle East. Control of oil, geography and establishment of military bases determine US policy. Israel and Saudi Arabia are useful tools for the oil and financial monopolies. Israel and the Saudi royals work on behalf of US imperialism. Destroying secular nationalist governments, supporting US friends, invading US enemies, supplying terrorists, assassins, money, weapons. When open aggression by the US needs to be avoided, the US can rely on Israel and the Saudis.

    See for example Noam Chomsky:.

    Jeff Halper, at the end of a long essay bullets why Israel is so useful to the US. “Israel’s military influence as a point-country for American Empire stems from four main sources:” See

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on November 3, 2018, 11:15 am

      I hugely admire Noam Chomsky but he is wrong on this one.

      The main reason the US – and other nations – ‘support’ Israel IS because of influential Zionist lobbies and political donors. It may not be PC to say it, but it is true. Israel has never fought on the same side in any of America’s many wars. Indeed, it has never fought on the same side as anyone, because it is always out for itself. Its intelligence services are hugely overrated and, again, are out for themselves. Ditto its army.

      “Destroying secular nationalist governments, supporting US friends, invading US enemies, supplying terrorists, assassins, money, weapons.”

      When? Israel is a net recipient of billions of $ of ‘aid’ from the US, not a donor on its behalf. Also, which “US enemies” has it invaded? I would in fact say its the other way round – the US fights against Israel’s enemies. Also, you have to ask yourself if these countries are ‘enemies’ because they conflict with America’s interests, or because they conflict with Israel’s interests.

  6. Elizabeth Block on November 3, 2018, 10:17 am

    “It is very important for the stability of the world, for the region and for the world, that Saudi Arabia remain stable.”
    Saudi Arabia isn’t stable. It’s metastable. That’s like a rock that has rolled halfway down a hill, and is just waiting for something – a foot, a rainstorm – to dislodge it.

    • Misterioso on November 3, 2018, 2:11 pm

      @Elizabeth Block

      “Saudi Arabia isn’t stable. It’s metastable. That’s like a rock that has rolled halfway down a hill, and is just waiting for something – a foot, a rainstorm – to dislodge it.”

      Wahabi** ruled Saudi Arabia is medieval, brutal, despotic, utterly corrupt, vicious and vengeful. Its rulers’ greatest fear is the growth of democracy in the Arab world and they will do everything necessary to suppress it, e.g., helping Sisi crush democracy in Egypt. Ordinary Saudis who are not part of the ruling elite desperately want to enter the 21st century and adopt democracy along with international humanitarian law. (**A perversion of Islam.)

      Hence, abandoning the indigenous Palestinians who have suffered under “Israel’s” brutal fascistic boot for over 70 years and hoping with their assistance to dominate/defeat Iran, MSB has “jumped in bed” with Netanyahu and Donald Trump, multi-billionaire, Zionist zealot, Sheldon Adelson’s “bought and paid for” servants.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on November 3, 2018, 3:49 pm

        “Ordinary Saudis who are not part of the ruling elite desperately want to enter the 21st century and adopt democracy along with international humanitarian law.”

        Having lived there for several years I’d have to disagree. Most ‘ordinary’ Saudis are extremely conservative and religious. They may want reforms and limited liberalisation, but I doubt they would want what is considered a ‘democracy’ by Western standards. You would certainly struggle to find a Saudi who would want secular law to be the basis of the country’s constitution.

  7. HarryLaw on November 5, 2018, 10:32 am

    Merseyside police not happy with Latuffs drawings, Peter Gregson threatened with arrest at Labour Party Conference Police ban Scots IHRA petition campaigner from showing “anti-Semite” Banner outside Labour Conference

Leave a Reply