Saudi Royal Considers Bashar Assad Greater Terrorist Than ISIS and Al-Qaeda Combined

Donald Trump striking a Syria deal with Russia would be ‘most disastrous step possible’, Saudi Arabian prince warns

the independent

‘Mr Trump should pack his bags and get together with America’s friends in the Middle East’

turkiDonald Trump deciding to strike a deal with Russia and Iran over Syria would be “the most disastrous thing that could happen” to the Middle East, a Saudi prince and former senior intelligence official has warned.

Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud said the US President-elect should unite with America’s traditional allies in the Middle East – including Saudi Arabia – to counter the threat of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, during a discussion at the Middle East Institute in Washington DC.

“If President-elect Donald Trump makes a deal with Russia and Iran over Syria, it’ll be the most disastrous step possible,” Prince Al Saud told a crowd at the conference, according to Kuwait News Agency.

“Since the Iran nuclear deal, we’ve seen a massive influx of Iranian soldiers to Syria, inflicting death.

“Mr Trump should pack his bags and get together with America’s friends in the Middle East before his inauguration, and he must help stop the biggest terrorist of all, President Assad.”

President Assad believes Mr Trump will be a “natural ally“ to “fight the terrorists” in Syria, after the President-elect effectively signalled he would end support for Syrian rebels.

The former Saudi ambassador to the US also called on Mr Trump to recognise the Iran nuclear deal, formalised in 2015, and not to reverse the legislation.

“I would rather see that this nuclear deal becomes a first step in ridding the Middle East of nuclear weapons. We want Saudi Arabia to have peace,” he said.

“To scrap that willy-nilly, as it were, will have ramifications, and I don’t know if something else can be put in place to guarantee Iran will not go that route if the agreement is scrapped.”

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have been strained over various issues including religion and relations with the United States and other Western countries.

In September Saudi Arabia’s chief cleric, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh, declared Iran’s leaders were not Muslims and said he regarded Sunni Muslims as the enemy.

Last week, another member of the Saudi royal family, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, ended his Twitter feud with Mr Trump by congratulating him on the election result.

“Whatever the past differences, America has spoken, congratulations and best wishes for your presidency”, Mr bin Talal said.

State Dept. Spokesman Claims Russia Today NOT REAL MEDIA

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov might punish U.S. journalists if State Department criticism of a Kremlin-backed media outlet continues, his spokeswoman said.

“I would like to focus on a shocking incident yesterday, when it was stated at a briefing at the U.S. Department of State that the State Department does not put RT television on a par with other respected media outlets,” Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday. “If our TV channel faces the same attitude in Washington once again, American journalists will have a special place set aside at the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson’s briefings.”

That threat was prompted by a testy exchange between State Department spokesman John Kirby and a reporter from Russia Today that pertained to the ongoing civil war in Syria. Kirby had cited “credible aid organizations” that Russia and Syrian dictator Bashar Assad recently attacked five hospitals and a mobile clinic. When the Russia Today reporter pressed for specifics, Kirby rebuffed the question.

“You work for Russia Today, right? Isn’t that your agency?” Kirby said. “Why shouldn’t you ask your government the same kinds of questions that you’re standing here asking me?”

The reporter protested her treatment. “When I ask for specifics, it seems your response is ‘why are you here?'” she replied. “Well, you are leveling that accusation.”

Kirby denied that he was making an accusation against Russia. “Relief agencies that we find credible are leveling those accusations,” he said. “So why don’t you question them about their information and where they’re getting it? And why don’t you question your own defense ministry?”

American reporters defended Russia Today. “Please be careful about saying ‘your defense minister’ and things like that. I mean, she’s a journalist just like the rest of are,” another reporter interjected. “The questions that she’s asking are not out of line.”

Kirby didn’t complain about the question, but denied that the Russia Today reporter is a journalist “just like the rest” of the press corps. “[She’s] from a state-owned outlet that’s not independent,” he said. “I’m sorry, but I’m not going to put Russia Today on the same level with the rest of you who are representing independent media outlets.”

China, U.S. Chill Tensions w/Joint Humanitarian Relief Drill

China, U.S. look past tensions with joint relief drill

Reuters

By Ben Blanchard

KUNMING, China, Nov 18 (Reuters) – China and the United States wrapped up a three-day humanitarian relief military drill on Friday, looking past simmering tensions over the disputed South China Sea and the deployment of an advanced U.S. anti-missile system in South Korea.

The exercises, held in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming, come a month after a U.S. navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea, prompting fury in Beijing which called the moved illegal and provocative.

That patrol, the latest by Washington to challenge Chinese claims in the strategic waterway, capped a tense year for military-to-military ties between the world’s two largest economies, which are also at odds over the U.S. decision to base Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system battery system in South Korea to defend against North Korea.

China, neighbouring North Korea, worries the system’s radar will be able to track its own military capabilities.

New uncertainly looms with the shock election of Donald Trump as U.S. president earlier this month, a man who lambasted China on the campaign trail and has suggested Japan and South Korea be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

But it was all smiles and friendship as Chinese and U.S. soldiers simulated digging out bodies from an earthquake-destroyed building and rescuing people from an overturned boat in a reservoir.

Liu Xiaowu, army commander of the Chinese southern military region, and General Robert Brown, commanding general of the U.S. Army Pacific, chatted amiably as they oversaw the last day of exercises.

“Very smart, very good,” Brown said, as Chinese officers explained how they were using new technology, including drones, in the drill.

Jeremy Reynolds, a U.S. army captain based in Hawaii, told Reuters the exercise was a unique opportunity for the two to work together.

“The execution of the exchange went very well between the Chinese and the American forces. We were able to communicate very well through interpreters. There were no major issues. The Chinese did a very good job planning their portions of the exercise and it led to very smooth operations in a very good overall product,” he said, standing on a pontoon bridge.

“These operations do help to create a mutual understanding between our two militaries.”

This is the fourth time China and the United States have conducted such drills since they began in 2013, as the two try to set aside mutual suspicion from the bottom up, rather than just relying on contacts at a more senior level.

The exercise involved 134 military personnel from China and 89 from the United States, using helicopters, pontoon bridges and engineering equipment.

They also conducted tabletop exercises focusing on sharing information and joint decision-making, field manoeuvres focusing on evacuation of earthquake victims and search and rescue.

“We had very happy cooperation with the United States. I was really happy,” said Chinese army doctor Zhao Yao.

“This was the first time I’d met the U.S. military. The exchange with them has really helped my English.” (Editing by Nick Macfie)