Some people’s asses aren’t worth saving

Mohammed bin Salman’s is one of them. But Trump says he believes MBS’s denials that he ordered Khashoggi’s murder. Innocent until proven guilty, I guess.

Trump said MBS told him he was innocent and then stressed Saudi Arabia's importance as a US trading partner. The CIA found MBS ordered the killing.

This investigation is long overdue

Probe is expected to look into alleged crimes committed by both Israelis and Palestinians, including militant group Hamas

Doubters and defenders of Israel would do well to read Amnesty International’s annual report on Israel and the Occupied Territories. Here’s the overview: “New legislation entrenched discrimination against non-Jewish citizens. Israeli forces killed more than 290 Palestinians, including over 50 children; many were unlawfully killed as they were shot while posing no imminent threat to life. Israel imposed an illegal blockade on the Gaza Strip for the 11th year in a row, subjecting approximately 2 million inhabitants to collective punishment and exacerbating a humanitarian crisis. Freedom of movement for Palestinians in the West Bank remained restricted through a system of military checkpoints and roadblocks. Israeli authorities unlawfully detained within Israel thousands of Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), holding hundreds in administrative detention without charge or trial. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees, including children, remained pervasive and was committed with impunity. Israel continued to demolish Palestinian homes and other structures in the West Bank and in Palestinian villages inside Israel, forcibly evicting residents. The Israeli justice system continued to fail to adequately ensure accountability and redress for victims of grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The authorities continued to deny asylumseekers access to a fair or prompt refugee status determination process; hundreds of African asylum-seekers were deported and thousands were threatened with deportation. Conscientious objectors to military service were imprisoned.”

Is Iraq coming apart at the seams?

“At stake now is whether the post-Saddam Iraq constructed by the US remains viable 16 years after the invasion that overturned the country’s regime and reset the balance of power in the region.”

Unrest spreads after security forces fire on protesters and anger at Tehran’s influence increases

Trump’s Syrian trifecta: Putin wins, Kurds lose, allies uncertain

Thomas Friedman in the NYT: “The job of the president, though, is to balance the understandable desire of Americans to no longer bear every burden and oppose any foe to ensure the survival of freedom with the fact that U.S. interests and values still require us to remain engaged around the world in a sustainable way.

“But sustainable engagement requires us to do at least three things: make fine distinctions, leverage allies and amplify islands of decency. Alas, Trump violated all these principles in Syria. …

“In taking responsibility with the Kurds for defeating ISIS in Syria, we relieved Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and al-Assad of a huge burden, enabling them to crush the regime’s domestic rivals. And what’s really crazy is that — we did it for free! We didn’t even demand autonomy for our Syrian Kurdish allies or power-sharing with moderate Sunni Syrian rebels. …

“For instance, Iraqi Kurdistan and the Syrian Kurdish regions, while they have plenty of corruption and tribalism, are nevertheless islands of decency where women tend to be more empowered, Islam is practiced in more moderate forms and Western liberal education is promoted in American-style universities. In just walking away from the Syrian Kurds, Trump has weakened their island of decency, rather than amplified it.

“America is better than that, even if our current president is not.”

The (non-)effect of Israel’s election on Palestinians

“For a time, the [Oslo] agreement was expected to bring about a negotiated peace between the two sides and freedom for the Palestinians. Instead, over the years it has enabled Israel to keep exploiting Palestinians economically, control much of their resources and exercise total dominion over their borders.

“Mr. Netanyahu was an avowed opponent of the Oslo Accords when he was in the political opposition, before 1996, the year he first became prime minister. By now, after his various stints as Israel’s leader, he can claim credit among his supporters for having shrewdly managed the occupation of the West Bank until the time he could fully annex the territory. He furthered this goal with his unfettered encouragement of more and more Jewish settlements being built in the West Bank. …

“Mr. Netanyahu is shameless. Mr. Gantz is blind. Palestinians see no prospect in this election. How could they?”

Mr. Netanyahu only confirmed an unspoken truth. And yet something has changed.