USA: Why No One Believes American Rhetoric About Democracy

A presidential visit to Saudi Arabia feels sadly inevitable. 

By Ben Rhodes | The Atlantic

American foreign policy often highlights the gap between the values-based story that the United States tells about itself and the reality of how a superpower pursues its interests. The size of that gap will be impossible to straddle when President Joe Biden travels to Saudi Arabia to repair his relationship with the kingdom’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

Biden is by no means the first American president who has struggled to reconcile a declared commitment to human rights with a more utilitarian definition of American interests. George W. Bush enlisted Saudi Arabia as an ally in the War on Terror even though 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, the wellspring of the Wahhabism that helped create the conditions for the attacks.           

Barack Obama offered tentative support for a Saudi-led intervention in Yemen to avoid a rupture in the relationship, a decision that many Obama officials – myself included – regretted as the war devolved into a humanitarian catastrophe. Donald Trump, unburdened by the pretense of supporting human rights, embraced the kingdom so thoroughly that it was hard to tell where Riyadh’s policies ended and Washington’s began.             

Having served in the White House, I understand the factors that likely informed Biden’s decision. Because gas prices are punishing American consumers, any chance of increasing oil production may seem worth pursuing, particularly amid a midterm election campaign stacked against Democrats. As the war in Ukraine grinds on, the U.S. wants to guard against the Saudi government falling into the autocratic arms of Russia and China. And with Arab Gulf states such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain embracing the Abraham Accords, the U.S. has both a domestic political and a geopolitical interest in adding momentum to the process of normalization between Israel and Arab autocrats.

For these reasons, promises to make the kingdom a “pariah” while “putting human rights at the center of American foreign policy” have been set aside. One might even mount arguments that this short-term compromise could serve long-term democratic objectives — whether salvaging a Democratic administration at home, supporting a fight for democracy in Ukraine, or defending the creaky liberal international order. In this way, one can rationalize a visit to the Saudi royal court as an embrace of realism that does not compromise American ideals.

VISITING MBS IS WRONG. As George Orwell once said, “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” And while we contort ourselves to embrace the Saudi leadership in the name of shared interests, recent history should show us that those interests are not aligned. Most profoundly, the dual existential threats of our time — the collapse of democracy and the onset of climate change — require a more radical reassessment of the trade-offs that America makes and why we make them, not a reset with a fossil-fuel-rich dictator.

This accepted presumption of “shared interests” is worth testing. In fact, a review of Saudi policy since MBS’s ascent in 2015 reveals how out of step the kingdom’s policies have been with stated U.S. interests such as nuclear nonproliferation, political stability, and the survival of democratic civil society across the Middle East and North Africa.

Let’s start with nuclear weapons. Saudi leadership encouraged President Trump to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which had verifiably rolled back Iran’s nuclear program and placed it under international monitoring through a deal negotiated by many of President Biden’s closest advisers – I was part of that effort. Negotiations to reenter the deal have stalled, in part because of U.S. efforts to win over the Gulf states and Israel by pursuing a “longer and stronger” deal and a refusal to remove sanctions imposed by Trump after he pulled out of the JCPOA. These sanctions have utterly failed to constrain Iran’s nuclear program or its malign activities in the region. Paradoxically, a Saudi-led regional consensus on escalating confrontation with Iran has now led to an outcome in which Iran has acquired enough of a stockpile for a nuclear weapon while maintaining its regional aggression.

Beyond that, a series of Saudi policies stemming from MBS’s fixations — Iran and political Islam — have been consistently contrary to stated American priorities. A 43-month blockade of Qatar fueled tensions within the Gulf Cooperation Council while achieving nothing. A bizarre effort to exert leverage on Lebanese politics by holding its prime minister hostage exacerbated Lebanon’s political dysfunction. Support for the Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar weakened a government backed by the United States and the United Nations. A preference for military rule over democratic change has shut the door on Egyptian civil society and made the Gulf a primary port of call for Sudanese military leaders threatening a democratic transition.

Then there is Yemen. Since the Saudi-led invasion of that country, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, including thousands in the kind of indiscriminate air strikes that draw swift Western condemnation when they occur in Ukraine. Consider, for a moment, how that undermines our criticism of Russia’s war outside Europe. Millions of Yemenis live on the precipice of malnourishment and famine. The objective of dislodging the Houthis has failed. The obvious moral and strategic catastrophe of the war was evident enough that Congress passed a resolution in 2019 requiring the U.S. to end any participation in it. Trump, despite his rhetoric about “ending endless wars”, VETOED THE RESOLUTION. 

I have no doubt that Biden wants to put a stop to the suffering in Yemen and that U.S. diplomats are working in earnest to pursue this objective. Indeed, the war in Yemen is something of a microcosm for the strange asymmetry in the U.S.-Saudi relationship under successive administrations, including the Obama administration: Saudi Arabia could not carry out its military operations absent U.S. support, and yet the U.S. appeals to Saudi leadership to take our concerns into account more than the other way around. If a war is misguided and immoral, why participate in it at all? 

One issue on which the U.S. and Saudi Arabia do appear to be moving toward consensus is the Abraham Accords. The U.S. has long sought the normalization of relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors. That effort is essential to assuring Israel’s rightful place in the community of nations, and it could help promote peaceful collaboration and economic development in the Middle East. Close Saudi partners such as the UAE and Bahrain would likely not have joined the accords without MBS’s blessing. Clearly, Israel and Saudi Arabia have come to see Iran as a mutual antagonist. That will be the backdrop to Biden’s efforts to continue to pull existing Saudi support for the accords out into the open.

Yet the triumphalism around the Abraham Accords must be accompanied by an honest assessment of the agreement’s shortcomings. FIRST: The Palestinians have been left out of the deal. By any measure, the expressed U.S. goal of a two-state solution has been both set back and set aside, leaving unanswered the question of whether there is any pathway to Palestinian self-determination, or whether the U.S. even cares. What, then, was the point of decades of U.S. diplomacy in pursuit of an Israeli-Palestinian resolution? And what, now, is the future for the Palestinians? 

The second issue unaddressed by the accords is democracy itself. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi is an extreme manifestation of a much broader crackdown on dissent within the kingdom, and increased threats to journalists and activists across the Middle East and beyond. Who will speak for them, even as we have ample evidence that new spyware tools have been brought to bear against them in recent years? When the Biden visit is inevitably presented as advancing normalization between Israel and Gulf monarchs, we cannot ignore the uncomfortable reality that the accords have become a get-out-of-jail-free card for the brutal subjugation of democratic dissent. How does that fit within a global struggle between democracy and autocracy? 

AUTOCRACY DEPENDS UPON CYNICISM AND APATHY: CYNICISM, which suggests that there’s no real difference between types of government, and APATHY, which suggests that nothing can change. MBS’s determination to secure a visit from a U.S. president who once called him a pariah is rooted in a keen understanding of that reality.

By all means, the United States should engage Saudi Arabia, just as we engage all sorts of governments around the world. We don’t get to pick who runs other countries, and when we try to, it usually doesn’t turn out well. But we do get to choose the level, terms, and venues for that engagement — which, in this case, clearly reflect MBS’s preferences.

BLAMING THIS GRIM SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES ON JOE BIDEN IS TOO EASY. Since the Khashoggi murder, Saudi Arabia has been under a cloud. To overcome that isolation, the kingdom has poured enormous amounts of money into reputation-laundering events, including a Justin Bieber concert and a new golf league. A Biden-MBS handshake in Riyadh is worth far more. Global businesses, entertainers, athletes, and political figures won’t have to feel ambivalent about associating themselves with the Saudi leadership. The influence loop between lucrative Gulf business opportunities and American punditry about the vital contributions of the Saudis and Emiratis to the global order can return to their pre-Khashoggi pace. The rehabilitation of MBS will be complete.

Meanwhile, American rhetoric about democracy will be tagged by the cynics as hypocrisy focused on America’s geopolitical adversaries, and its commitment to combat climate change as subordinate to our search for cheaper fossil fuels. MBS is in many ways a product of the American-led order of the past several decades. Our prioritization of profit over other values. Our insatiable addiction to fossil fuels, and that industry’s obstruction of congressional action to break it. Our definition of national security as tied to the familiarity of autocracy over the uncertainty of democratic change. Until our politics reflects a more profound change in our priorities and our mindset, a presidential visit to Saudi Arabia will feel sadly inevitable, no matter who holds the office.

At the time, the response to Khashoggi’s murder seemed like a sea change. But in retrospect, MBS’s violation of the existing order appears to have been getting caught more than it was the underlying crime, and Trump’s violation was saying the quiet part out loud. Until the United States truly makes democracy and climate change our overriding priorities, the U.S.-Saudi relationship may indeed be rooted in “shared interests”. THAT IS WHAT HAS TO CHANGE. 

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  • Clyde Duncan  On 07/15/2022 at 12:56 pm

    Ukraine’s New Rockets Are Wreaking Havoc On Russia’s Army

    The American-supplied HIMARS is wiping out arms dumps and command posts

    The Economist

    “RUSSIAN FORWARD AMMUNITION DUMPS ARE QUITE POSSIBLY THE MOST UNSAFE PLACES IN ANY WAR ZONE,” explained an American army handbook published in 2016. Munitions were not stored safely, it noted, and many dated from the Soviet era, close to their expiry dates, creating “a tinderbox ready to explode”. “Priority targeting of these areas will cause a serious logistics strain on the Russian system,” it concluded. UKRAINIAN GENERALS ARE NOW PUTTING THAT THEORY TO THE TEST.

    ON JULY 11TH A RUSSIAN AMMUNITION DEPOT IN NOVA KAKHOVKA IN SOUTHERN UKRAINE EXPLODED IN SPECTACULAR FASHION. Satellite images showed that the entire facility vanished overnight. It is thought to be the latest victim of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which America began sending to Ukraine in late June.

    America has provided eight launchers and on July 8th said it would send four more. Each one carries a pod of six GPS-guided missiles accurate up to 84km or so — nearly three times the range of the howitzers sent earlier. American officials had been wary of providing more of these weapons until it was clear that Ukraine would use them effectively. Although they look superficially similar to Soviet-era rocket launchers, which rain down warheads over a large area, they are much more precise and need to be used judiciously to conserve ammunition.

    SO FAR, UKRAINE APPEARS TO BE PASSING THAT TEST. The Nova Kakhovka facility was thought to have been the 19th such depot to have gone up in flames since June 27th, according to a tally by Kyle Glen, an open-source analyst. A 20th followed in Luhansk city on July 12th. A strike on a command post in Kherson province on July 10th is said to have killed many senior officers, including the major-general in charge of the 22nd army corps.

    HIMARS strikes appear to have occurred all along the front lines, from Luhansk in the east to Kherson in the south. Kirill Mikhailov of the Conflict Intelligence Team, an open-source research group, says the first battery of four launchers was deployed on the left bank of the Dnieper River and has been used against targets in Kharkiv, Zaporizhia and Donbas. More recently, another has been deployed to the right bank and appears to be preparing the ground for a counter-offensive around Kherson province.

    Ukrainian commanders are cock-a-hoop. They say HIMARS is tilting the war back in their favour after the recent loss of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, cities in Luhansk. A colonel in charge of its deployment says that the weapon is proving effective against a range of targets, from command posts to barracks, while remaining almost immune to return fire thanks to its ability to “shoot and scoot” quickly. Ukraine appears to be using Soviet-era rockets to confuse and overwhelm Russian air-defence systems, before launching the new GPS-guided rounds.

    The colonel says that dozens more launchers would be needed to enable a serious counter-offensive. He also acknowledges that HIMARS may grow less effective as Russia adapts, for instance by disguising key targets. But the fact that Russia’s army did not take such precautions despite weeks of notice that HIMARS was coming points to a structural problem.

    America’s army tends to disperse and conceal its ammunition dumps across a number of smaller sites. Russia’s army, which relies heavily on trains to move munitions and human muscle to load them onto trucks, has instead created big depots close to railheads — often by taking over civilian industrial distribution centres. That was fine until HIMARS turned up. Dispersing those depots would require a huge amount of new equipment or manpower. Moving them farther away from the front lines would also strain the army’s limited fleet of trucks: Doubling the distance more than doubles the number of trucks required, or more than halves throughput.

    Even if Russia were to move its supply chain painstakingly out of HIMARS range, the respite might be only temporary. America, wary of escalation, sent the launchers on condition that Ukraine would not use them against targets on Russian soil. As a further precaution, it did not provide the longest-range munition: The Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) of 300km range.

    IF IT WERE TO DO SO, EVERY SQUARE INCH OF RUSSIAN-OCCUPIED TERRITORY WOULD BECOME WELL WITHIN RANGE OF UKRAINIAN FIREPOWER. This includes Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, as well as the Kerch bridge connecting it to Russia, ships in Crimean ports and many other juicy targets. ■

  • Clyde Duncan  On 07/15/2022 at 9:13 pm

    What Joe Biden Should Know About Jamal Khashoggi

    Hanan Elatr Khashoggi describes her husband not as a happy warrior against MBS, but as a homesick patriot looking for ways to come in from the cold.

    By Graeme Wood | The Atlantic

    “I know that there are many who disagree with my decision to travel to Saudi Arabia,” President Joe Biden wrote last week in an op-ed in The Washington Post. Among those disagreeing is the publisher of The Washington Post, who denounced Biden for “going … on bended knee” (surely he meant “meeting on bended knee,” unless Biden is flying to Jeddah from Tel Aviv on a magic carpet) to “SHAKE THE BLOODY HAND” of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. According to U.S. intelligence, MBS probably ordered the murder and dismemberment of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi — a crime for which Khashoggi’s former colleagues understandably decline to forgive him.

    WHAT WOULD KHASHOGGI HIMSELF THINK ABOUT MBS?

    “HE WOULD FORGIVE HIM”, Khashoggi’s widow, Hanan Elatr Khashoggi, told me last month. I ASKED HER TO SAY THAT AGAIN. Forgive his own murderer — the guy whose goons chopped him up into little pieces? She thought it over and continued, sobbing: “FORGIVENESS IN OUR RELIGION IS SOMETHING GREAT.”

    She said she was not sure she could forgive MBS, and in any case no Saudi official has asked her to do so. But she said her husband was merciful, and would not want his legacy to be permanent isolation from his country. “If he wanted revenge against the crown prince, that would cause problems for the entire Saudi Kingdom. And he wouldn’t want this.”

    Since Khashoggi’s murder, perhaps his most prominent champion has been his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, a Turkish activist who has written for The Washington Post and worked with overseas critics of MBS. Khashoggi went to the consulate in Istanbul, never to emerge, because he needed paperwork from the Saudi government that would let him marry Cengiz.

    But Khashoggi, like many Saudis, practiced polygamy, and he left a widow in the Virginia suburbs. Hanan does not recognize her husband’s views in the words of some of the activists who knew him. And she has politics of her own. When I asked MBS about Khashoggi, he told me that he had never even read an article by Khashoggi, that Khashoggi was a nobody, not even in the “top 1,000” dissidents he would kill — and he’d have done a better job, if he had. His widow said that strange denial sounded plausible. “Believe me, I am from the Middle East,” she said. “The leaders do not read.” For the murder itself, she blames “people around the crown prince,” who acted on his behalf and remain unpunished.

    The killing of Khashoggi has overshadowed every other issue in Biden’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. But Hanan’s story, and the version of her husband she insists is right, has disappeared from his legacy. An Egyptian by birth, Hanan trained as a journalist but worked for 23 years as an Emirates airlines flight attendant. She knew Jamal socially in Dubai in the 2010s, then married him in Northern Virginia months before his death in 2018. Her apparent willingness to forgive MBS would seem implausible or suspicious — maybe even evidence of her having been paid off or threatened — except that she constantly defends, in her husband’s name, Islamists imprisoned by MBS and identified by his supporters as the most dangerous men in the country.

    Earlier this week, Hanan said in a statement, she met with senior Biden officials to “thank” Biden for going to Saudi Arabia and “express what Jamal wanted most in this world: The release of all political prisoners being held in Saudi Arabia.”

    In our conversations, she mentioned two prisoners in particular: the economist and blogger Essam al-Zamil and the preacher Salman al-Awda, both of whom are charged with membership in the Muslim Brotherhood. [Saudi Arabia considers the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, and membership in it is a capital offense.]

    Hanan’s disappearance from Khashoggi’s story has frustrated and embittered her. “There is a lot about Jamal that is not being said,” she told me. The Khashoggi of the popular imagination is a sort of gadfly journalist whose politics and inclinations fit conveniently with those of an activist class that have worked against the Saudi monarchy, and sometimes in favor of rapprochement with Iran, for years. “I call it ‘Jamal Inc.,’” she told me, disgusted. Hanan describes her husband not as a happy warrior against MBS, but as a homesick patriot looking for ways to come in from the cold.

    Some inconsistencies between the Jamal of legend and the real Jamal are simply a matter of record. Khashoggi was not a Saudi Seymour Hersh or David Halberstam: Real journalism was always forbidden when he wrote for Saudi papers in the 1980s and ’90s. Even his columns for The Washington Post were marred by reports that he’d drafted them with the help of Qatar, a rival of Saudi Arabia. [Hanan denies that her husband worked for Qatar.] He was never really independent. He worked for the Saudi government at various times — as an intermediary to his childhood friend Osama bin Laden, and later as an aide to Prince Turki Al Faisal, the country’s longtime spymaster.

    But Hanan’s deepest displeasure is at her husband’s legacy as a dissident against his country. She insists that although he criticized MBS, he hated to be called a “dissident” or an enemy of the crown prince. Khashoggi told me the same, weeks before his death. Toward the end of his life, she said, “he cried every night”, because he was being portrayed as a pest, when his private wish was to reconcile with his king and go home. “He was being pulled by two sides,” she said. “One side bullied him to give up and support a dictator, like any in the region. The other side bullied him to be a dissident.”

    The tension led him to contemplate suicide. “When Anthony Bourdain killed himself, Jamal kept talking about it. I told him he was making me scared to leave him alone,” she said. His physical health deteriorated, too. “He became very weak and started limping.” During his life, she said, he never cashed in on his fame as an opponent of MBS — many groups would have paid him — so the couple lived humbly in Northern Virginia, crammed into a small apartment and hunting for deals at the local Harris Teeter supermarket. She continues to live modestly, waitressing at a Lebanese restaurant and working other hospitality jobs.

    Khashoggi’s politics are widely believed to be those of a secular democrat, and therefore inconsistent with the quasi-theocratic monarchy of Saudi Arabia. The Washington think tank Democracy for the Arab World Now calls Khashoggi its founder. That too is misleading, Hanan says. The Jamal she remembers was passionate about freedom, and wanted more of it for Saudis, but he supported monarchy and practiced a conservative and traditional Islam. She said she had no idea he intended to take another wife — but she acknowledged that Khashoggi “believed in polygamy” and she told me that as a Muslim, she would “accept this”. She has never met Cengiz and says she does not wish to.

    Many government-connected Saudis have alleged to me, without proof, that Jamal was himself a member in good standing of the Muslim Brotherhood. It was not always clear whether they were suggesting membership as a reason to kill him, or just evidence of seedy behavior. Hanan denies that he was a member in good standing. Jamal was a Brother years ago, and shared certain Islamist inclinations with bin Laden. During his final years of exile, Jamal sometimes made, on principle, ambiguous statements about his alleged membership in the group. “It is my right to be [a Muslim Brother], or a leftist, or anything,” he told an American audience shortly before his death. “It is within my privilege.”

    The Saudis have been betting that someday, eventually, their relationship with the United States will cease to be defined by Khashoggi’s death, and that the legacy of Khashoggi himself will be forgotten entirely in the final triumph of American interests over American values. Right now that bet looks likely to pay out, though it has taken a while to do so. Many in Washington knew Khashoggi. Indeed, everyone who knew anything about Saudi Arabia seems to have known him.

    Many who knew him well differ about what he would have wanted. Many who didn’t know him at all, or don’t know anything about Saudi Arabia, have equally strong views. And it is far from obvious whether Biden’s visit makes meaning of his death by betraying his legacy or, if Biden can persuade MBS to ease up on domestic oppression. We’ll see what he gets for that handshake, bloody or not.

  • Chris  On 08/28/2022 at 12:21 pm

    America is a decaying, racist state. It is only one more January 6th away from collapsing into a dictatorship like Russia and China.

    • Age  On 08/30/2022 at 4:57 pm

      For us non-whites and who grew up during British Guiana we always felt like we were under a military occupation.
      I heard that the White Americans have their own private school in Guyana.
      I hope they are liberal and not racist people. Would suit them right if they get chop up for telling a Guyanese living in Guyana racist harassment.

  • wally n  On 08/28/2022 at 4:52 pm

    . “When Anthony Bourdain killed himself???????
    loved having a great life (girl friend) travelling the world and enjoying every day…maybe co-producer of a movie on the pedophilles in Hollywood. associate producer also committed suicide????

    • Brother Man  On 08/30/2022 at 11:02 am

      Can Mr Cyril please give us an update?

      Thanks.

      • Age  On 08/30/2022 at 4:59 pm

        Dennis Albert posts about Shell Oil company doing drugs and narcotics probably got the moderator a libel writ.

      • Brother Man  On 08/30/2022 at 8:07 pm

        That fella ain’t playing with a full deck.

      • Age  On 08/30/2022 at 9:57 pm

        I don’t think it’s mental illness but that is maybe how Guyanese talk. At least he isn’t cussing up the place like rum shop

      • Brother Man  On 08/30/2022 at 10:28 pm

        To Age:

        The chap Winston Albert is referring to is nicknamed “Shell “, not to be confused with the oil company Shell.

        Shell grew up in Essequibo dirt poor. He began trading in Essequibo and later made his way to the United States to expand his trading ambitions.

        From going to school barefooted on a dirt road, he’s today a wealthy man who continually helps the needy.

        Winston Albert insinuates that Shell is into illicit activities and that’s the primary source of his wealth. I could care less.

        He’s not too worried about getting sued for defamation. In fact, he wants Shell to bring it on.

        As far as I am concerned, there are bigger fish to fry.

      • Age  On 08/31/2022 at 10:30 am

        Guyanese tell me that rarely these barefoot hustlers become rich from legit means. Same here in Canada.
        Most either inherited, robbed or did crooked things to get the wealth. Right now the billionaire family Galen Weston is price gouging Canadians. That is how the rich get rich.

  • Dennis Albert  On 08/31/2022 at 11:44 am

    Brother Man,

    If Shell ain’t giving you charity then you are deluded to support him and his criminal enterprise.

    Bert Wilkinson

    GEORGETOWN, Oct 28 1996 (IPS) – When police and state prosecutors lay charges for illegal gold export against several of the city’s top businessmen later this week, government officials will probably breathe a collective sigh of relief.

    Finally some say, they will be vindicated for their handling of a multi-million racket that sent thousands of ounces of gold to the United States through the back door in the last five years.

    The Cheddi Jagan administration’s failure to release vital information, including the names of the major suspects and charges that it was even trying to cover up for supporters who contribute millions of dollars to the ruling People’s Progressive Party at times forced officials to go on the defensive.

    But the situation is changing in favour of the administration, following reports from the office of Ian Chang, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that police will charge eight of the city’s top businessmen in a few days for their part in an illegal gold export scheme that dates back at least to 1991.

    In the last week police investigators have asked the group to furnish specimen signatures and other details to compare with customs declaration and other evidence in official custody.

    The signatures of the suspects are said to be found on everything from outgoing immigration forms to U.S. customs declaration cards and even airway bills.

    “We will move to charge them possibly in a week,” says Chang, “We have asked for signatures and these will be sent for police analysis. After that, I am good to go.”

    News of the scam, by which businessmen exported an average of 100,000 ounces of gold to the U.S. annually in recent years, broke by pure accident about 15 months ago. Gold sells at 380 dollars per ounce. Miami and New York are the major receiving centres.

    Local finance ministry officials, who travelled to Miami to investigate under-invoicing by used car dealers, stumbled on the information with the nudging of U.S. customs officials.

    Fearing that increasing annual export numbers could be linked to an international money laundering scheme, the Americans bared all records for the visiting Guyanese.

    They offered to help in whatever way they could and pushed the Guyanese to carry out the necessary investigations even though there is no formal agreement between the two. What has resulted, however, is an informal system of information exchange that could spell trouble for future racketeers.

    Jagan also asked the Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate and to set up an office here.

    But police have stressed that the suspects committed no breach of United States law by declaring their cargo, but failed to declare it at the Guyana end.

    Records of one exporter indicated that he had earned at least nine million dollars from the scam in a three-month period while another is said to have shipped 800 ounces in one year.

    Kellawan Lall, a Political advisor to Jagan, and the lead government investigator, says initially there were indications of a drug link as bank accounts had been tied to Chile and Bolivia.

    He was supported by Susan Rowley, the U.S. customs representative in Caracas, Venezuela, who also said there was a “strong smell” of laundering in the scam. She assisted in acquiring crucial data officials needed, while regional airlines, including Trinidad’s BWIA International and Guyana Airways are also furnishing whatever records they had at the request of investigators.

    The 100,000 ounces officials estimate, is equivalent to about a quarter of the declared national production. Only the state-owned Guyana Gold Board and the Canadian-run Omai Gold Mines Ltd. are allowed to export gold legally, though government says it is ready to grant a dozen people purchase licences to ease the monopoly.

    Released on station bail of 360 dollars (Guyanese 50,000 dollars) are Butch Parmanand, a popular restaurateur, variety store owners Shell Mohamed and Bernard Shaw and Shipper Ramjeet Ramphal. Others are being questioned.

    Police say several others are also in the business, but their cases will be weaker if taken to court, since couriers are involved and transit rather than non-stop flights were used, making it difficult to prove where the gold was obtained.

    If found guilty of exporting illegally and breaching customs regulations, the defendants could be asked to pay fines of three times the assessed value of their exports and serve up to a year in prison.

    • Brother Man  On 09/01/2022 at 12:47 am

      To Winston Albert:

      I am no fan of Shell Mohamed or anyone else mentioned above. But I do have a few questions:

      1) Was Nazar (Shell) Mohamed ever convicted of a crime in Guyana or elsewhere?

      2) If so, when, where and for what?

      3) Was Nazar Mohamed ever jailed?

      4) If so, when, where and what for?

      NB: Anyone can be accused of a crime or crimes. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that the allegations are true.

      It’s only after the matter has been duly tested in a court of law that the facts can be established.

      • Dennis Albert  On 09/06/2022 at 9:16 am

        Barefoot man turn billionaire overnight. Of course bribes go a long way. Continue to kiss Shell battyhole while his son imports more Lamborghinis and declare it to the GRA at the price of a Nissan sports car.

        Look at this devil Boyer gaslighting Guyanese workers.

        https://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2022/09/06/guyanese-oil-and-gas-workers-still-begging-for-protection-against-exploitation/

        Guyanese should send back the White man and Boyer back where they came from: Trinidad, to try and exploit the Black and Brown people there.

        Don’t come to Guyana and eye pass we. At least we don’t mass murder Black and Brown people like the White American racist and nationalist.

      • Brother Man  On 09/06/2022 at 9:18 pm

        Albert brags that he ”Continue to kiss Shell battyhole while his son imports more Lamborghinis.” Say what?

        This sort of revelation should be kept to yourself, Albert.

        We don’t need to know!

  • wally n  On 09/01/2022 at 11:38 am

    Donald J Trump…..AMEN!!!!!!!

    • Brother Man  On 09/01/2022 at 2:03 pm

      An extremely poor analogy:

      Trump has committed a multiplicity of crimes, the most egregious of which was his failed seditious attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election and install himself ruler for life like dear friend Kim Jong Un.

      You don’t need to go to Oxford or Harvard to find better examples of attempted character assassination.

      The problem with the Biden administration is the DOJ under Merrick Garland who doesn’t have the balls to indict the fool and bring him to justice.

      • Mike Persaud  On 09/07/2022 at 6:35 pm

        America is a dichotomy of very smart and very stupid people.

        On the one hand, it can devise the instrumentality to send a man to the Moon and bring him back safely to the Earth, gave the world the automobile, the airplane, the telephone, television, the Internet, and so on.

        On the other hand, it’s populated by large swathes of ignorant, grossly uneducated sheeple many of whom believe that the Earth is merely 6000 years old and who are as religiously fanatical as the extremists in the Middle East they routinely and rightly condemn.

        This duality also has the propensity to elect and entrust the governance of their nation in the hands of a totally deranged man.

        Moreover, they are eternally cursed with albatross of the Second Amendment (round their necks) and an endless sequence of gun violence, more than any other country on Earth, but cannot muster the collective will to get rid of it.

        It’s, sadly, a land I would not want to live in or visit.

        MP

      • Brother Man  On 09/08/2022 at 6:23 pm

        Now that the old woman has passed, the monster of the institution that she oversaw for 70 years should be abolished once and for all, in respect of the exploited and plundered peoples of the Empire!

      • Brother Man  On 09/09/2022 at 8:08 pm

        Eh eh, like alyuh in mourning!

        Nobody taking.

      • Brother Man  On 09/09/2022 at 10:51 pm

        With a heavy heart and a profound sense of disbelief, we are just now learning of the Royal family’s apparent concerted effort to keep Meghan Markle away from seeing the Queen at Balmoral Castle before she died.

        What, are they that much against the fact that she’s half Black?

        Shame on the British Monarchy on their centuries-old legacy of class distinctions and veiled racism.

  • Age  On 09/10/2022 at 10:13 am

    Which racist prevented Meghan Markle from seeing the Queen? Everything in Canada, America and U.K. are about white privilege and power.
    Do you know how many biracial Americans are the product of a White man raping a slave, yet these Canadian and American women yell at the top of their lungs that all men are rapists except the White elites who fund their pet projects to oppress the racialized people more.
    These American white women does bathe naked skin with their sons, yet when in the street she covered up her body when she sees a Brown, Aboriginal or Black man.

  • Age  On 09/10/2022 at 10:20 am

    Mike, I retiring in Guyana or anything but Canada, America, UK or Europe. The Toronto Police harassed my son so much that he jumped the subway tracks. He was only 15 and I believe that a racist white mother coached her 13 year old daughter to allege that he raped her. I’ve been silent my entire life because these things carry a stigma, but as I no longer view the White man countries as a beacon of justice I do not care what any Canadian or American thinks of my deceased son.
    Canada treats underaged school bullies and gun slingers as toddlers yet when a White woman falsely cries rape the Toronto Police cause a living hell storming into my house and treating my son like a terrorust.

    • Mike Persaud  On 09/10/2022 at 6:05 pm

      Sorry to hear about your loss, Age. For all practical reasons, your son’s life ended before it had begun. I can imagine how traumatic it must have been for you and your family after the tragedy and when the Toronto police stormed into your house.

      I hope your retirement years in Guyana brings you and your family much happiness and peace.

      MP

      • Age  On 09/10/2022 at 6:45 pm

        Thank you for your comment Mike. These developed countries are not really a bed of rose for some. I can tell you more horrible stories like Toronto Police threatening to arrest a student for libel because of allegations that a teacher abused them. These types of shenanigans barely happen in Guyana. You got Guyanese on here talking all sorts of Nancy story about politicians and powerful elites yet they are free to do so.
        Guyana is my homeland. The police will never storm into my house and treat us like criminals for what a minor allegedly did to someone. That is overreaching boundaries. The Toronto cop even told me that if I contact the mother or the school principal I will get arrested. This country isn’t for me. I don’t care how corrupt Guyana is perceived to be, they don’t go after private citizens and treat them like terrorists because of what a child was accused of doing in school.

    • Dennis Albert  On 09/11/2022 at 1:31 pm

      Sorry to hear that Age.

      I know that I call out people’s names on here, but defamation is with malice. It’s public knowledge what many of these so-called businessmen do for a living in Guyana. I have posted news stories and legal docs of these gold smugglers, cocaine exporters and criminal underworld entities and I am not afraid of them.

      I know from the streets that the hitmen don’t want to murder private citizens as it brings too much heat to them and it’s against some of their ethos.

      They can’t send police to storm into my dwelling for what I post online and on social media, because if they do that, Mudwata gonna be gaffing with me.

      You know Mudwata? Guyanese Uncut? That banna getting targeted by the same Shell Mohamed for what he posts on YouTube, but is sheer bluff.

      Canada must be a living hell if freedom of speech is not respected, and they treat children as terrorists based on false accusations of sexual assault.

      You say it happened in a school? You son was underaged?

      That was supposed to be for the Ministry of Children to deal with. How did you as a parent get entangled with being criminally charged for what happened on school property under the defacto supervision of a school employees?

      • Brother Man  On 09/11/2022 at 10:05 pm

        “How did you as a parent get entangled with being criminally charged …?” Winston Albert.

        Tsk tsk:

        Take off the dunce cap and reread the story.

        De man Age was never charged, but was threatened by Toronto police to be charged should he have contacted the school his deceased son attended regarding the sexual assault allegations, as per Age’s account of the story.

      • Age  On 09/12/2022 at 2:50 pm

        Guyana is more freer than Canada in that way if you can post those things you post on here without intimidation.
        By the way, tell me more about the story at Splashmins where Guyanese were not allowed to swim in the same pool with White Americans and Canadians. That is something coming from the Jim Crow playbook. Guyanese please don’t import American racism in my beloved country.
        We as Guyanese living abroad have suffered enough in the developed world because we are not white.

      • Brother Man  On 09/13/2022 at 12:09 am

        “Guyana is more freer than Canada in that way if you can post those things you post on here without intimidation.” Age, responding to Albert.

        Restated for clarity:

        Guyana is a much freer society, in respect to free speech, if you (Albert) can post the kind of stuff you do without fear of reprisals or repercussions.

        If you give him enough rope, he’ll eventually lasso himself into an inescapable corral.

      • Brother Man  On 09/13/2022 at 10:46 pm

        Near tragedy at Guyana Airport in November 2018:
        ————————-
        Cyril Bryan 2018

        By Cyril Bryan .. Editor of Guyanese Online

        This is my report on what occurred on the Fly Jamaica Georgetown to Toronto flight that crash landed.

        The flight was scheduled to leave at 1.30 am local time … 12.30 am EST on November 9, 2018.

        The plane was delayed for half and hour as there were problems with the door … it was not closing properly and the technicians were called.

        I was in seat 4C … right in front and could see what was going on with the door problem. Eventually we took off at 2.11 am 1.11 EST.

        Immediately after takeoff I felt that there was something wrong……The plane, a Boeing 757-200. did not climb rapidly to the 32,000 ft cruising altitude as announced by the pilot. It started to level off at about 10,000 ft… (my estimate)

        It seemed to me that there were control problems … the plane seemed to be swaying, its speed was reduced ….. and after about 10 minutes, the pilot announced that he was turning back as we would be going over water, and that he was returning to the airport and that we would land in about 20 minutes, which we did at 2.53 am Local time (1.53 EST)

        It was dark so I could not see much outside the plane, but then lights appeared on the left side of the plane as we started descending to the airport.

        I travel by air often, and I felt uneasy about the sound of the engines, as the captain seemed to be using the engines to help steer the plane… a jerky effect and at one point he gunned the engines to keep the nose up….this was about five minutes before we landed.

        My prayer was that we landed on the tarmac and not the river or forest and be killed or injured.

        The pilots were very skilled… and I believe that they were bringing in an ailing plane that was difficult to control.. swaying from right to left etc. Congratulations to them.

        When we touched down we may have been some way down the runway…. the plane’s brakes seemed to have partially failed due, most likely, to their hydraulic issues… But the plane did slow down a bit… .then it hit the end of the runway and some impediments that were put there … where the runway expansion was being completed. There were explosions on the right side of the plane.. maybe tires being blown out… then it swerved right breaking through a wire fence …before stopping just a few feet from a ravine, The front wheels were partly buried in the loose sand and that may have stopped the descent into a ravine. In the darkness I did not see the deep ravine that was close to where the plane stopped.

        See the photos in this CBC report shown below: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/fly-jamaica-crash-landing-guyana-1.4898633

        That BBC report stated that ..

        “We crashed into a big sand pile at an edge of a cliff. There’s a big drop about 30-40 feet [nine to 12 metres] on the other side. If we had 10 more feet [three metres], we would be down in the ditch,” he said, adding it’s a “miracle of miracles” that no one was more badly hurt during the crash and subsequent evacuation.

        There was a loud crash and thud as the plane stopped. The slide chutes or exit ramps were quickly deployed and passengers left the plane quickly helped by the cabin crew personnel. There were a number of persons… at least 12 .. who used wheelchairs to get to the plane when we were boarding… and I was concerned about them. Eventually they were removed safely as there was no fire initially. Later a small fire was noted on the broken right wing and engine and the fire engines went into action. By that time most of the passengers , if not all, were out the plane. Luckily the plane was only about 60 -70% full (120 passengers plus 9 crew), so that helped with the speedy exit of the passengers.

        After sliding down the chute we had to get through the perimeter fence .. barbed wire etc… to get back on the runway. When I got on the runway I saw the damage with the aid of the lights of the fire engines. The main fuselage seemed to be intact but the right wing and engine as well as the undercarriage (wheels) were ripped from the plane. As there was no fire the fire engines did not go into action up to the time I started walking to the terminal. It is obvious to me that the pilot dumped most of the fuel before landing. If he did not, the plane would have burst into flames.

        We were assembled at the Departures Terminal, some distance away… some persons were taken on airport vehicles. Guyana airport personnel, firemen and Fly Jamaica airline personnel were many to help the passengers. Everyone, including the passengers in wheelchairs, got to the terminal departures area and we were all glad to be alive and that there were no serious injuries. A passenger list was printed out and all passengers were accounted for.

        The “injured” persons I saw entering the ambulance later (around 6.30 am) all walked to the vehicle, to go to the Diamond Hospital… no stretchers.

        Since it was early in the morning and an emergency, some issues like transport arrangements etc were not in place…. however, some persons were told to take taxis or buses and submit their charges to the airline.

        Only with the light of dawn were we aware of how close we were to that ravine and how close we came to be a statistic of airline tragedies. The plane is a total wreck with right wing almost severed and both engines severely damaged, the right engine completely severed. The right-side wheels were completely ripped off as well.

        The luggage compartments did not seem to be badly damaged. However, no baggage was immediately taken off the plane so persons were told to call or await calls from the airline to collect their luggage. My suitcases was collected on Saturday November 10, from the Fly Jamaica / Wings office at the Georgetown Eugene F. Correia Airport.

        We thank the universe for saving us to live another day. The pictures below will give you an idea of the damage to the aircraft.

        Cyril Bryan

      • Dennis Albert  On 09/14/2022 at 12:37 am

        Is the false accuser related to the police or a politician in high office?!

        Canada is acting just like America during the apartheid era when thousands of Black men were rounded up and lynched on a yearly basis based on the false testimony of a White woman.

        What is so special about a white woman anyways? I heard that they tend to stink up the entire toilet due to their genetics and diet.

        Here in Guyana, they stink so bad due to the humidity and they are more likely to have STDs.

        But they don’t think we as Guyanese belong in our own country, but they come to tek we oil!

  • wally  On 09/14/2022 at 10:47 am

    Your in depth investigations are astounding, you should start your own web site

    • Bernard  On 09/14/2022 at 12:33 pm

      Dennis Albert, were you ever treated for mental health issues? You come across like an unstable person in need of serious help.

  • Age  On 09/19/2022 at 10:43 pm

    Where is the moderator? Long time no hear…

  • wally  On 09/23/2022 at 12:37 pm

    Since we are witnessing the last entries (you guys said that) I am so interested in seeing some of the “first” just to see how far we have fallen…

    • Brother Man  On 09/23/2022 at 8:55 pm

      Are you intoxicated? Your post is utter gibberish. How about rewriting it in Guyanese? Or English?

  • wally  On 09/24/2022 at 2:46 pm

    thanks for pointing out…the bottom of the barrel…keep it up

    • Brother Man  On 09/25/2022 at 4:57 am

      It’s obvious that you’re an expert in the indulgence of dregs.

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