June 12, 2024

First Washington News

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Biden news today: Jamal Khashoggi’s American lawyer detained in UAE

Biden news today: Jamal Khashoggi’s American lawyer detained in UAE

Biden says US would use force as ‘last resort’ to prevent Iranian nuclear weapons

President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East came to an end with yet more controversy after it emerged that an American lawyer who previously represented Jamal Khashoggi had been detained in the UAE.

US citizen Asim Ghafoor was detained at Dubai airport on Thursday while travelling to Istanbul for a family wedding and is now being held in a detention facility on charges related to an in absentia conviction for money laundering. Mr Ghafoor had no prior knowledge of any conviction, a human rights group said.

On Saturday, Mr Biden met with UAE President Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and invited him to come to the US for a visit before the year is out.

The UAE president was one of multiple Middle Eastern leaders Mr Biden met in Saudi Arabia on Saturday before leaving aboard Air Force One.

New details also emerged about Friday’s controversial meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – the man US intelligence found responsible for ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

When Mr Biden confronted MBS about the killing – after a friendly fist-bump – he denied the accusation and fired back about the US’s own controversies.

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Biden poses for ‘family photo’ with Saudi Crown Prince MBS

President Joe Biden posed for a “family photo” with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, just hours after the pair exchanged harsh words over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The president stood shoulder to shoulder with the crown prince, known as MBS, along with other Middle East leaders on Saturday, before he boarded Air Force One and left the region.

In the photos, Mr Biden stood with his hands clasped in front of him with MBS to his right. At one point, the two leaders appeared to exchange words.

They were joined for the photo call by Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa; Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi; Jordan’s King Abdullah II; Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani; Kuwait’s Crown Prince Meshal al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah; Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhemi; United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Asaad bin Tariq al-Said, a special representative for the Sultan of Oman.

The so-called “family photo” comes after Friday’s meeting between Mr Biden and MBS where the US president said he confronted the Saudi crown prince over his role in Khashoggi’s death.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:

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MBS fires back at Biden with America’s own controveries

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman fired back at Joe Biden with America’s own controversies when the US president confronted him over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, it has been revealed.

A source familiar with Friday’s controversial meeting between the two leaders told CNN that the crown prince, known as MBS, responded by bringing up the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and incidents where US soldiers abused prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib detention centre.

The source said that MBS told Mr Biden that the two incidents reflected badly on the US.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:

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MBS says Saudi Arabia can’t produce much more oil

MBS has said that Saudi Arabia cannot increase its oil production significantly, after President Joe Biden met with the crown prince in efforts to tackle sky-high gas prices back in the US.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said at the Gulf Cooperation Council on Saturday that his oil-rich nation was almost at its limit of petroleum production and cannot produce more than 13 million barrels a day.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, Saudi Arabia is currently producing around 10.2 million barrels of crude oil a day.

His comments come after Mr Biden told reporters that MBS had agreed to bolster its oil production – a move that will ease gas prices for Americans – during their controversial meeting on Friday.

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What happened to Jamal Khashoggi?

On 2 October 2018, Jamal Khashoggi – a The Washington Post journalist and outspoken critic of the Saudi government – was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

US officials said that the murder was carried out by a team of intelligence operatives with ties to the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – known as MBS – before his body was dismembered with a bone saw.

The Saudi Arabian government initially denied any involvement in the killing before going on to claim that the operatives killed him accidentally while trying to extradite him to Saudi Arabia.

US intelligence agencies later concluded that MBS had ordered his killing.

MBS has long denied any responsibility – a denial he continued to stick to when he came face to face with President Joe Biden on Friday.

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American lawyer who defended Khashoggi is detained in UAE

An American lawyer who defended murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been detained in the UAE, sparking further controversy around President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East.

Asim Ghafoor, a US citizen and civil rights attorney from Virginia, was detained at Dubai airport on Thursday while travelling to Istanbul for a family wedding, according to Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).

The human rights group said Mr Ghafoor is now being held in a detention facility in Abu Dhabi on charges related to an in absentia conviction for money laundering.

Mr Ghafoor had no prior knowledge of any conviction, DAWN said in a statement on Friday.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:

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Russian officials visited Iran to examine drones, White House says

Russian officials visited Iran on at least two separate occasions to examine drones that they are considering using for its war on Ukraine, according to the White House.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Saturday that US intelligence shows a Russian delegation visited an Kashan airfield in central Iran on June 8 and July 5.

During the visit, the Iranian military showed them the Shahed-191 and Shahed-129 drones.

CNN first reported the incidents along with a satellite image of the UAVs in flight at the airfield while a Russian delegation transport plane was on site.

Mr Sullivan said the visits suggest “ongoing Russian interest” in procuring the “attack-capable” UAVs or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

“We have information that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with several hundred UAVs, including weapons-capable UAVs,” Mr Sullivan said.

“We assess an official Russian delegation recently received a showcase of Iranian attack-capable UAVs.

“We are releasing these images captured in June showing Iranian UAVs that the Russian government delegation saw that day. This suggests ongoing Russian interest in acquiring Iranian attack-capable UAVs.”

He added: “To our knowledge, this is the first time a Russian delegation has visited this airfield for such a showcase.”

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Ilhan Omar says Biden’s trip sends ‘wrong message’

Representative Ilhan Omar criticised President Joe Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia, saying it sends the wrong message about the United States’ position on human rights.

The Minnesota Democrat and member of the Squad, who is a refugee from Somalia, said Mr Biden’s trip goes back on his word that he would make Saudi Arabia a “pariah nation” after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“We are going to make them pay the price, and make them in fact, the pariah that they are,” he said when he was running for president.

The Independent’s Eric Garcia has the full story:

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Editorial: Joe Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia was doomed from the beginning

“Trying to make peace in the Middle East is a task American presidents usually leave until their second term. That was the pattern set, with varying degrees of success, by presidents Nixon, Clinton and Obama.

“Only Jimmy Carter allowed hope to triumph over experience during his single term in office, with the historic Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel.

“Although only in his first term, and on his first visit to the region, Joe Biden is expressly not there to follow in the footsteps of any of his peacemaking predecessors. He has been around for too long, and seen too many disappointments, to risk the investment needed to make progress. This trip has more to do with Russia and Ukraine than Israel and Palestine.”

Read the rest of The Independent’s editorial here:

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Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée slams Biden over fist-bump with MSB

Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée has slammed President Joe Biden over his fist-bump with the Saudi crown prince.

Hatice Cengiz spoke out about how she believed the murdered journalist would respond to seeing the friendly greeting between the two leaders.

“Is this the accountability you promised for my murder? The blood of MBS’s next victims is on your hands,” she said.

Khashoggi had gone to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018 to get the documents he needed to marry Ms Cengiz. He never made it out alive.

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Iran will not get nuclear weapons, insists Biden

Iran will never be able to develop and maintain nuclear weapons, President Joe Biden vowed on Saturday in a speech to Middle East leaders in Saudi Arabia.

The Biden administration has been in talks with Iran to reenter the 2015 nuclear deal which was reached under the Obama administration – before being dismantled by Donald Trump.

Talks to reenter the deal have stalled.