Pepe Escobar: The Inside Story Of The Saudi Night Of The 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…
The House of Saud’s King Salman devises a 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 post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 7, 2017.

Putin and Trump stage-manage a win-win meeting — Pepe Escobar

From the start, the ‘positive chemistry’ in the Mother of All Sit-Downs was a given. The format – with only the four principals, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and two translators – prevented any leaks. What was originally scheduled for 35 minutes went on for 2 hours and 16 minutes, and not even an impromptu appearance by First Lady Melania Trump – they were late for the Elbphilharmonie pomp and circumstance – managed to stop the flow.
They needed to deliver. They needed headlines. They got plenty. Including a possible first step at real cooperation; a ceasefire deal in southwestern Syria. Yet the real headline is that diplomacy beats demonization.
Still, from the toxic, overwhelmingly Russophobic Beltway point of view, that dystopia masquerading as a summit – the actual G-20 – was a mere backdrop; the only thing that mattered in this parallel G-2 was confirmation of an obsessive narrative; Russian interfered in the U.S. elections.
Spin City gave us slightly conflicting views. Tillerson admitted ‘intractable’ differences but stressed Trump was ‘rightly focused on how do we move forward’, while an uncharacteristically irritable Lavrov said Trump had accepted Putin’s denial, adding what is, in fact, the real clincher; Putin wants proof and evidence of Russian interference.
That won’t happen. The ‘Russian hacking’ tsunami ebbs and flows, always following the same pattern; accusations by some proverbial ‘anonymous official’ or ‘expert’, usually debunked. If the acronym jungle of U.S. intel had concrete, definitive evidence, that would have been splashed on every single front page long ago.

This post was published at Asia Times

WikiLeaks trove fails to shift dial on Trump-Putin narrative — Pepe Escobar

The massive WikiLeaks Vault 7 release is an extremely important public service. It’s hard to find anyone not concerned by a secret CIA hacking program targeting virtually the whole planet – using malware capable of bypassing encryption protection on any device from iOS to Android, and from Windows to Samsung TVs.
In a series of tweets, Edward Snowden confirmed the CIA program and said code names in the documents are real; that they could only be known by a ‘cleared insider;’ the FBI and CIA knew all about the digital loopholes, but kept them open to spy; and that the leaks provided the ‘first public evidence’ that the US government secretly paid to keep U.S. software unsafe.
If that’s not serious enough, WikiLeaks alleges that ‘the CIA has lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal;’ several hundred million lines of code – more than what is used to run Facebook.
Someone among the former U.S. government hackers and contractors ended up leaking portions of the CIA archive (Snowden II?). WikiLeaks also stressed how the CIA had created, in effect, its ‘own NSA’ – maximum unaccountability included.

This post was published at Asia Times

The Brazilian Earthquake — Pepe Escobar

Imagine one of the most admired global political leaders in modern history taken from his apartment at 6 a.m. by armed Brazilian Federal Police agents and forced into an unmarked car to the Sao Paulo airport to be interrogated for almost four hours in connection with a billion dollar corruption scandal involving the giant state oil company Petrobras.
This is the stuff Hollywood is made of. And that was exactly the logic behind the elaborate production.
The public prosecutors of the two-year-old Car Wash investigation maintain there are “elements of proof” implicating Lula in receiving funds – at least 1.1 million – from the dodgy kickback scheme involving major Brazilian construction companies connected to Petrobras. Lula might – and the operative word is “might” – have personally profited from it mostly in the form of a ranch (which he does not own), a relatively modest seaside apartment, speaking fees in the global lecture circuit, and donations to his charity.

This post was published at Sputnik News

Pepe Escobar: The Caliph fit to join OPEC

Islamic State leader Caliph Ibrahim – aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – never ceases to amaze us – and most of all his powerful petrodollar-stuffed backers. The Caliph is for all practical purposes now an oil major worth of membership of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). His takfiri/mercenary goons – in theory – have for some time been extracting, refining, shipping and/or smuggling and clinching juicy deals involving vast quantities of oil, reaping profits of roughly US$2 million a day.
The Caliph's oil prices are to die (be beheaded?) for; after all, he's implementing the same low-price strategy concocted by the people he wants to dethrone in Mecca, the House of Saud. The caliphate's GDP across "Syraq" has only one way to go: up.
And oh, the irony Top customers for The Caliph's cheap oil happen to be "Sultan" Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Earthly paradise, aka Turkey – a North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally – and that King "Playstation" Abdullah II ibn al-Hussein's domain impersonating a country, aka Jordan.
Meanwhile, the awesome, immensely sophisticated military apparatus/intel agency acronym fest deployed by "free" U.S./NATO somehow is simply unable to register/intercept this racket.

This post was published at Asia Times