Saturday, December 7, 2019
Officials said to name attacker who killed 3 as Mohammed al-Shamrani, a Saudi Air Force officer training at Florida airbase who quoted bin Laden in a tweet prior to Friday shootingA Saudi military student reportedly condemned the US as a “nation of evil” in an online manifesto prior to opening fire Friday at a US naval base, killing three people before being shot dead by police.
The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist media, identified him as Mohammed al-Shamrani, saying he had posted a short manifesto on Twitter that read: “I’m against evil, and America as a whole has turned into a nation of evil.”
“I’m not against you for just being American, I don’t hate you because your freedoms, I hate you because every day you supporting, funding and committing crimes not only against Muslims but also humanity,” he wrote.ABC News reported that investigators were working to determine if it was in fact written by the shooter.
On Friday, Trump said he got a call from Saudi King Salman, who expressed “his sincere condolences” and sent sympathies to the families of those involved. “The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter, and that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people,” said Trump in a tweet. The shooting, however, shined a spotlight on what has been a sometimes rocky relationship with the kingdom. The US earlier this year agreed to send three Patriot missile batteries, dozens of fighter jets and other aircraft to Saudi Arabia. And in October, Esper visited Prince Sultan Air Base to see one of the batteries and talk about efforts to get other allies to contribute to the defense of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region to counter threats from Iran. But the kingdom’s reputation is still damaged after the killing last year of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Saudi intelligence officials and a forensic doctor killed and dismembered Khashoggi on October 2, 2018, as his fiancée waited outside the diplomatic mission.
Khashoggi, long a royal court insider, had been in self-imposed exile in the US while writing critically of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, son of the oil-rich nation’s King Salman.
By David E. Sanger
Before issuing his own condolences, the president channeled the Saudi king’s and avoided any discussion of the hard questions about why the U.S. is training Saudi officers.When a Saudi Air Force officer opened fire on his classmates at a naval base in Pensacola, Fla., on Friday, he killed three, wounded eight and exposed anew the strange dynamic between President Trump and the Saudi leadership: The president’s first instinct was to tamp down any suggestion that the Saudi government needed to be held to account. Hours later, Mr. Trump announced on Twitter that he had received a condolence call from King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who clearly sought to ensure that the episode did not further fracture their relationship. On Saturday, leaving the White House for a trip here for a Republican fund-raiser and a speech on Israeli-American relations, Mr. Trump told reporters that “they are devastated in Saudi Arabia,” noting that “the king will be involved in taking care of families and loved ones.” He never used the word “terrorism.” What was missing was any assurance that the Saudis would aid in the investigation, help identify the suspect’s motives, or answer the many questions about the vetting process for a coveted slot at one of the country’s premier schools for training allied officers. Or, more broadly, why the United States continues to train members of the Saudi military even as that same military faces credible accusations of repeated human rights abuses in Yemen, including the dropping of munitions that maximize civilian casualties. “The attack is a disaster for an already deeply strained relationship,” Bruce Riedel, a scholar at the Brookings Institution and a former C.I.A. officer who has dealt with generations of Saudi leaders, said on Saturday. It “focuses attention on Americans training Saudi Air Force officers who are engaged in numerous bombings of innocents in Yemen, which is the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world,” he said, noting that the Trump administration had long been fighting Congress as it seeks to end American support for that war. A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country. And a guiding hand through the endless news cycle, telling you what you really need to know. But even stranger, said Mr. Riedel, was “the president’s parroting of the Saudi line” before learning the results of an investigation into whether the gunman acted alone, or had allegiances to Al Qaeda or terrorist groups.
For the White House, the calculus is simple: Saudi Arabia is not only critical to world oil supplies — though no longer critical to the United States’ — it is the only regional power able to counter Iran. The result, former members of the Trump administration say, has been a dismissal of any critiques that could weaken that bond.Mr. Trump was so quick and so eager to assure the Saudis that the relationship would continue before anyone knew how to categorize the shooting that it raised questions about how the administration would have responded if the suspect had been an Iranian, or an immigrant from Mexico. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr. Trump often cited the killing of a young woman in California by an undocumented immigrant as a reason to crack down on immigration and build a wall along the southern border. “Had an attack been carried out by any country on his Muslim ban, his reaction would have been very different,” said Aaron David Miller, a longtime Middle East negotiator and now a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “But when it comes to Saudi, the default position is to defend,” he said, “Driven by oil, money, weapons sales, a good deal of Saudi feting and flattery, Trump has created a virtually impenetrable zone of immunity for Saudi Arabia.” It was hardly the first time Mr. Trump had shown such tendencies. After the brutal killing in Istanbul of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident and a legal American resident, Mr. Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo played down American intelligence findings that closely tied Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to the matter. The findings suggested he had connections to the members of the hit team sent to Turkey — and almost certainly played a role in ordering them to bring Mr. Khashoggi back to the country by force. Mr. Trump’s and Mr. Pompeo’s initial promises to follow the evidence wherever it led dissipated. Over the past year, Mr. Pompeo has expressed deep annoyance whenever the topic is raised. The United States was awaiting the results of a Saudi investigation, he often said, as if he expected that to offer a full accounting. And he told members of Congress that no matter the truth of what unfolded, the relationship between the kingdom and Washington was too important to be held hostage to one vicious, ill-thought-out act. No American assessment of what the Saudi leadership knew has ever been made public. Before the shooting on Friday, the White House was already fighting efforts in Congress to cut military aid to the Saudis, a reflection of anger over the Khashoggi murder and the continuing war in Yemen. But the Pensacola attack underlined the continuing instinct to protect the relationship. “If Trump wants to convey condolences from Saudi King Salman, fine,” Mr. Miller wrote on Twitter after the shooting. “But you don’t do it on day — Americans are killed — untethered from a message of ironclad assurances from King to provide” whatever cooperation is necessary to understand the gunman and his motives. “Otherwise Trump sounds like what he has become — a Saudi apologist.’’ After Mr. Pompeo announced that he had spoken with the Saudi foreign minister, Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, about the shooting, Martin Indyk, a former American ambassador to Israel and longtime Middle East negotiator, tweeted: “Isn’t it interesting how quick Trump and Pompeo are to broadcast Saudi government condolences for the murder of three Americans and how slow they were to criticize the Saudi government’s murder” of Mr. Khashoggi. Still, the bond between the countries is weakening, as the erosion of support in Congress shows. A negotiation over providing nuclear technology to the Saudis, a huge push early in the administration, has stalled. The chances that the military support will remain at current levels appear slim. “The U.S.-Saudi relationship is on life support,” Mr. Riedel said, noting that it would be in jeopardy if a Democrat were to win the 2020 election. “Even Joe Biden is calling the Kingdom a ‘pariah’ that needs to be punished,” he said, referring to the former vice president, who had for decades supported a strong relationship with the Saudis. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/07/us/politics/trump-pensacola-saudi-arabia.html
The value of a newspaper’s edition is viewed differently by every reader. People have the right to criticise or praise papers for underplaying an ‘important issue’ or overplaying a ‘petty incident’ or over the choice of words used in news stories. Their feedback helps editors improve the standard of journalism. Over the years, however, the Pakistani media is being conveyed feedback from powerful quarters in the form of disruption in circulation and broadcasting and financial strangulation. Occasionally, media houses have been vandalised and shut down and journalists beaten and arrested for ‘adverse’ reporting. Taking the hostility to a new height, a group of ‘unknown persons’ besieged a newspaper’s office in Islamabad and later demonstrated in Karachi, demanding its closure over a news story it carried about the London Bridge attack. The mob was enraged over the newspaper’s headline, “London attacker of Pakistani descent is terror convict: officials.” There can a semantic debate on the word ‘descent’ but the news story was factually correct. When such an issue arises, the best way is to talk to the editor. The protesters could have written to the editor that the attacker, Usman Khan, was born and raised in the UK to immigrants from Pakistan and that he had nothing to do with the country. The newspaper’s reply would have settled the issue but the group chose to demonstrate outside its office in Islamabad and Karachi Press Club, brazenly chanting slogans about its ‘pro-India’ agenda. This is not the first time the said newspaper has been under fire for its factual reporting. Likewise, several TV channels have been pressured to fire their talk show hosts for generating ‘wrong’ content. Several journalist bodies have condemned the harassment of the media. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had the guts to call the siege an attempt to pressure the media. He noted that media houses were being threatened. Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists have also condemned the “aggression and hooliganism” against the media. The CPNE head also noted that statements by ministers on the news story were a source of concern for the journalist community. Protesters and government quarters must realise that a free press leads to an open society and good governance. Attempts to intimidate or silence media will hurt the whole society. It is also the duty of media houses to open more communication channels with the public and incorporate their feedback in their content. https://dailytimes.com.pk/513603/siege-of-a-newspaper-office/
By SNEHESH ALEX PHILIP