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 murdered journalist 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 was held on charges related to an in absentia conviction for money laundering. Mr Ghafoor reportedly had no prior knowledge of any conviction.
UAE state media said on Saturday that the attorney had been sentenced to three years in prison.
On Saturday, Mr Biden met with UAE President Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and invited him to visit the US before the year is out.
He 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 Khashoggi’s murder.
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.
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:
Editorial: At least Biden was honest enough to admit the ‘ground is not ripe’ to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks
Rachel Sharp17 July 2022 14:15
US lawyer who represented Jamal Khashoggi is sentenced to three years in prison in the UAE
An American lawyer who represented murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been sentenced to three years in prison in the UAE after being suddenly detained at an airport in the country during President Joe Biden’t trip to the Middle East.
UAE state media WAM reported on Saturday that US citizen Asim Ghafoor had been convicted of two crimes of tax evasion and money laundering related to a tax evasion operation in his country.
The Abu Dhabi Money Laundering Court sentenced him to three years in prison and a fine of three million dirhams ($US 816,748), with deportation from the UAE.
The civil rights attorney based in 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 US State Department said on Saturday that it was aware of Mr Ghafoor’s detention in the country – at a time when the US president was meeting the UAE president to further relations between the two nations.
“We are aware of the arrest of US citizen Asim Ghafoor in the UAE. We have raised his detention at senior levels with Emirati authorities and requested additional information. We are watching his case closely and providing appropriate consular support; consular officers from the US Embassy visited him today,” a State Department spokesperson said.
“We have conveyed our expectation that Mr. Ghafoor’s rights to a fair and public hearing and to fair trial guarantees be fully respected and that he be treated humanely, as well as that U.S. rights to consular access be fully respected.”
Rachel Sharp17 July 2022 13:53
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.
Rachel Sharp17 July 2022 13:15
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:
Biden administration officials forced to defend the president’s decision to meet with MBS after he vowed to make Saudi Arabia a ‘pariah’ on the 2020 campaign trail
Rachel Sharp17 July 2022 12:45
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:
The Saudi crown prince brought up the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and incidents where US soldiers abused Iraqi prisoners
Rachel Sharp17 July 2022 12:15
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:
President Joe Biden invited UAE President Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to visit the United States as the two leaders sat down together on Saturday
Rachel Sharp17 July 2022 11:45
Jamal Khashoggi’s widow thanks Biden for confronting MSB about his murder
The widow of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi thanked President Joe Biden for confronting MSB about ordering his death.
Hanan Elatr Khashoggi released a statement through Fahmy Hudome International in response to Friday’s meeting between Mr Biden and the Saudi crown prince.
“I would like to thank President Biden for raising my husband, Jamal Khashoggi’s murder with the Crown Prince. He raised it first and foremost and for that I am grateful,” she said.
“I also would like to thank President Biden for fulfilling Jamal’s true legacy, which is to highlight the issue of human rights and political prisoners. This meeting was the beginning of accountability for my husband’s murder.
“Through the American justice system, I along with my legal team intend to hold all parties accountable for the murder of my husband.”
Rachel Sharp17 July 2022 11:15
lhan 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:
‘Starting this trend of saying you’re going to do one thing on foreign policy, and not really is harmful’, the Squad member tells The Independent as Joe Biden visits Saudi Arabia.
Rachel Sharp17 July 2022 10:45
Watch Biden’s 2020 comments about MBS
President Joe Biden has especially come under fire for his meeting with MBS – and the friendly looking fist-bump – given it marks a major departure from his comments during his 2020 campaign trail.
During his race for the White House, Mr Biden promised to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” on the world stage after US intelligence found that MBS ordered the execution of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Watch Mr Biden’s past comments about MBS below:
Joe Biden vows to treat Saudi Arabia as ‘pariah nation’
Rachel Sharp17 July 2022 10:00
ICYMI: President Joe Biden says he confronted MBS about Khashoggis’ murder
President Joe Biden said that he confronted MBS about Jamal Khashoggis’ murder during their closed-door meeting on Friday.
“With respect to the murder of Kashoggi, I raised it at the top of the meeting, making it clear what I thought of it at the time, and what I think of it now,” said Mr Biden.
“I made my view crystal clear… for an American president to be silent on an issue of human rights is inconsistent with who we are and with who I am.”
Watch Mr Biden’s comments below:
Biden says he raised Khashoggi murder with MBS
Rachel Sharp17 July 2022 09:00