Lord, one more day to love you! O Jesus, watch over me always, especially today, or I shall betray you like Judas. Lord, today is the day I begin! Jesus, shine through me and be so in me that every person I come in contact with may feel your presence in my soul. My God, send me thy Holy Spirit to teach me what I am and what thou art! May the Passion of Christ be ever in our heart. And to be more with Him, more with Him, not merely with oneself.
Father, my heart is heavy. I feel like I have to carry the burden alone. Words like “overwhelmed,” “distraught,” “exhausted” seem to describe where I am. I am not sure how to let you carry my heavy load, so please show me how. Take it from me. Let me rest and be refreshed so that my heart won’t be so heavy in the morning. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Dear Lord, help me remember what a difference it makes when I make time with You a priority in my morning. Awaken me in body and spirit each day with a desire to meet with You and to hear You speak words of affirmation, assurance and wisdom over my heart as I prepare to go into my day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
When THEY CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH! When-they-can-“give-IT-a-go,”
And BE GOD! MANIFEST in This Dimension?
A monster made FLESH! Can-you feel The Tension?
A man (once dead?) was asked – by SOME-GOD,
“What do you want ‘down there? ‘ When-you’re-stuck-in-THE-BOD?”
And, after thinking, with thoughts-pretty-clear,
He said: “Here’s what I want -May I have this, my Dear?
(1) I want no knowledge of this conversation;
And (2) No knowledge of this, my ‘proclamation,’
Which-is – to be ‘a healer’ of all in pain!
On-whomever my shadow falls, may that person gain,
‘Reasonable’ health, physical AND mental,
Having no need of doctors, medical or dental,
And (3) I’ll never have any idea – that it was me,
That had anything to do with it! For, don’t you see,
IF I was aware of this wonderful power,
I would become prideful OR I would cower,
Knowing the awesome responsibility of it all!
There, God of Wishes! That is MY CALL!”
“Well wished for,” said The Genie to me;
“Your wish is granted! I hope to see,
More of you in ‘the future!’ Good luck! Don’t cry!”
DID SOMETHING JUST HAPPEN! WHERE AM I!
You for you died today –
Grief is wanting to hold that love close one last time. The irony of grief is that the person you need to talk and hold, to smell, to feel that loving heartbeat when they are no longer there will follow you everywhere you go. When a women truly loves her man those feelings never leave you. All that matters its who you love and who loves you, they are always with you until tomorrow the love I sleep in your shirt, you’re always holding me. See you in Venus, whoa 😮 I been loved by the best❤️
#AceNewsReport – Feb.28: Since 2017, the Crown Prince has had absolute control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organisations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorisation.”
‘Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved operation to ‘capture or kill’ journalist Jamal Khashoggi according to US intelligence report’
The partly redacted report, newly declassified by US President Joe Biden’s administration, concluded that the Prince “approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi”.
Posted 1h ago, updated 55m ago
A United Nations report released in 2019 found there was “credible evidence” Mohammed bin Salman was liable for Mr Khashoggi’s killing.
‘After the Khashoggi report: How the US can respond and avoid blowback according to ABC News on Friday’
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks during the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia October 24, 2018. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS
The new US administration has been carefully timing three major movements on Saudi Arabia this week: the release of a declassified intelligence report on the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, the announcement of a US response, and the explanation of that response to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The timing of these actions matters, as the administration aims to show that it is holding the parties involved in the murder accountable while looking out for long-term US interests in a crisis-fraught region in which Saudi Arabia is a comparative island of stability. With the release of the report on Friday, the window for US policy responses is now open. The first response, in the form of a visa ban, has been announced. But further policy responses are expected.
The past few weeks have offered Joe Biden’s senior team their first opportunity to delve into the highly classified intelligence on the murder of the Saudi journalist; many of the people discussing how to formulate the US government’s response, in fact, may still not be privy to pieces of the compartmentalized intelligence, as access to it will be limited, as usual, to only a few members of government in order to protect the tactics, techniques, and procedures with which it was gathered. They will nevertheless be in a rush to respond because Congress will demand action from the administration as soon as Hill staffers and lawmakers have read the declassified details of what happened to Khashoggi. The president must also decide how to respond ahead of framing the realignment of the US bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia.
Because the report confirms the US intelligence community’s assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) gave a direct order to kill Khashoggi, as the CIA’s late 2018 leaked report indicated, Biden will be under pressure from Congress, the media, members of his administration, human-rights groups, and many of his constituents to take punitive action against MBS. If any aspects of the US response are directed at the Crown Prince and his chances for ascending to the Saudi throne—after he has taken careful steps to ensure that outcome by consolidating oversight of Saudi Arabia’s security services and the financial payouts to the royal family under his direct control—the United States should expect retaliation. But by reaching out to King Salman to explain the logic behind changes to the bilateral relationship as soon as they are announced, Biden can reduce the likelihood that Riyadh retaliates against US interests.
What Saudi retaliation could look like
US actions that undermine the Crown Prince’s prospects for becoming king would likely elicit responses from Riyadh on multiple fronts. Saudi foreign direct investment in the US private sector could be curtailed; pending and future Saudi arms purchases from US companies could be redirected to Chinese, Russian, British, or French companies; and Saudi cooperation with China on the Kingdom’s civilian nuclear program and on a missile program, currently overseen by an entire branch of the Saudi armed services and aided by Chinese advisors in residence, could ramp up. The Saudi government could make decisions on oil production that would have a negative impact on Biden’s green-energy agenda or raise fuel prices to a level that sows displeasure among Biden’s political base.
Saudi Arabia might consider requests from other great powers or their allies to establish bases inside the Kingdom, and sending the tens of thousands of Saudi students who traditionally pay full tuition at small colleges across the United States to find other educational destinations. Saudi Arabia would likely politely decline any US requests for help in stabilizing Syria or coordinating actions in Iraq or Lebanon. In 2018, the Kingdom met a direct request from Brett McGurk, at the time the US counter-ISIS coordinator, for 100 million dollars in stabilization aid for Syria.
Saudi Arabia would almost certainly ignore US pressure related to the war in Yemen, pursuing its objective to remove the Houthis from Yemen’s capital and reinstate a government friendly to the Kingdom. The conflict would continue indefinitely and far more civilians would die. US ultimatums about ending the war in Yemen would be met with an “Or what?” from Riyadh.
Six options for US responses that can preserve US interests
There are several policy announcements the US administration could make to admonish the parties in Saudi Arabia responsible for Khashoggi’s death without making the United States the object of retribution.
First, Biden could choose through diplomatic means to put the Crown Prince in a box limited to his official roles. His counterparts in the US government would only communicate with him for purposes concerning his official titles—minister of defense, head of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, and chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs—but would not treat him as a de facto head of state. This policy decision would be in line with the Biden administration’s statements to date and would not require policy changes or major interagency movements, though the impact would be significant as it would imply that the Crown Prince would not be safe from prosecution in American courts.
Second, Biden could stop sharing US intelligence with branches of the Saudi security services headed by individuals named in the Khashoggi report. This would preserve intelligence-sharing arrangements with key interlocutor services uninvolved in the murder. The sharing of US intelligence is highly valued in the Kingdom. A service without a sharing arrangement would be automatically downgraded in terms of its importance and operational capacity.
Third, Biden could withdraw US troops from Saudi Arabia. Planning for a withdrawal is already underway. At the moment, US Central Command advises against this policy decision if the new administration is serious about recent statements it has made regarding helping to secure the Kingdom against Iran-backed attacks executed through groups like the Houthis and new front groups like the True Promise Brigades. But given that the Khashoggi report implicates the Crown Prince, who is the Kingdom’s defense minister, Biden could choose to go ahead with the drawdown as a means of punishing Saudi Arabia. Such a decision risks emboldening Iran to take more indirect kinetic action and feeding perceptions in the region that the United States should not be the partner of choice among the world’s great powers. Yet it would be a way to exact a cost from Saudi Arabia without creating new policy and simply pressing forward with plans that are already in process.
Fourth, the Biden administration could place new demands on the Kingdom, and specifically on the Crown Prince’s ministry, related to military transformation. The United States is eager to see earnest action by the Kingdom to improve its own defense capacity and lower the burden on the United States of securing the Gulf. Based on a three-hundred-plus-point plan for reforms and improvements to this end that has been approved by Saudi military leadership up to MBS, this action is beginning. A plan already exists to greatly increase the level of US advisement inside the Saudi Ministry of Defense as part of a long-term military transformation program. Biden could characterize this act of embedding advisors as a requirement and explain that it stems from a need to have US eyes on decisions made by MBS. Biden can justify limiting this “requirement” to the Ministry of Defense based on his administration’s recent statement that the Crown Prince’s counterpart in the US government is Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
Fifth, Biden could halt the sale of defensive military platforms to the Kingdom. The US administration has already halted the sale of offensive munitions like Paveways and small diameter bombs to Saudi Arabia in order to urge an end to the war in Yemen. But it has not yet canceled arms sales that provide the Saudis with defensive capability, in part because of the steady stream of rockets, missiles, and drones launched at Saudi Arabia by Iran-supported armed groups. These defensive-platform sales could be used as leverage to elicit other actions by Saudi Arabia like the release of political prisoners, political or legal reforms, or financial support for US stabilization plans in the region. As long as Russia is making S-400s, however, this is a risky proposition.
Sixth, Biden could sanction businesses owned by MBS or others named in the US intelligence report. The Crown Prince signed hundreds of billions of dollars in deals with the private sector during his whirlwind touracross the United States in the spring of 2018. Sanctioning Saudi enterprises involved in these deals might not enrage Saudi Arabia, because many of these contracts have not been completed and the Crown Prince likely has no intention of following through on them. Sanctioning these businesses, however, risks disappointing US companies still hoping for these contracts to come through. The administration would likely want to consider the volume and size of US companies impacted, as well as the political leanings of their owners, to assess the possible domestic political impact of such sanctions.
Apart from actions pertaining to the bilateral relationship, the United States could aim for change in the Saudi decision-making structure and inner circle. The Biden administration could, for example, demand the release from house arrest of Mohammed bin Nayef, the former crown prince and, just as notably, former primary partner for the CIA on counterterrorism. The US intelligence community would gladly build the case for his release if the administration requests that it do so.
Individuals and organizations named in the CIA’s 2018 unclassified report as parties to the Khashoggi murder were sanctioned immediately. One of these individuals was Saud al-Qahtani, the Crown Prince’s Rasputin. In response to US pressure, al-Qahtani was removed from his place at the elbow of the Crown Prince. He has since resurfaced and continues to be a key player in the technologies and programs that make the Crown Prince feel personally secure. The survivors and victims of al-Qahtani’s alleged abuses may bring suit against him in US courts, and criminal prosecutions can also be pursued in national systems if jurisdiction and other requirements are met. The US administration can encourage these victims to come forward.
Many of those in the US government and among the American public who are appalled at the actions of Saudi state institutions and individuals want Biden to respond with a heavy hand to the information released in the intelligence report on the Khashoggi murder. Some in the Democratic Party, who would like to see the US-Saudi relationship downgraded from the special status it received under former President Donald Trump, expect Biden to give Saudi Arabia a cold shoulder. The president’s foreign-policy team, meanwhile, is stacked with experienced Middle East experts who have plans for the region that include Saudi Arabia as a critical partner.
There is a wide array of options available to the United States as a response to the Khashoggi report. But some carry more potential for blowback than others. When assessing the range of options, the Biden administration should choose those that mitigate the negative impact on long-term US interests.
Kirsten Fontenrose is the director of the Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council.
President Donald Trump famously bragged during his election campaign that “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” If the consensus of the US intelligence community is to be believed, Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman may actually accomplish a comparable feat.
“While sanctions are an important way of sending a message, they are also a blunt instrument that authoritarian leaders find ways to work around,” said Richard LeBaron, a non-resident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.
#AceNewsReport – Feb.28: On February 22, the Biden administration took its first actions in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s long list of aggressive and repressive actions: imposing sanctions related to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline:
‘How to deploy economic tools against Putin’s aggression: Criticsobservedthat these were a mere reapplication of sanctions previously imposed by the Trump administration. In fact, the Biden administration is reportedly thinking through stronger options for pushing back against the Kremlin, and these initial measures were likely just the opening gambit ahead of sanctions in the coming weeks that will be more responsive to Russia’s most recent aggressions—in particular, the SolarWinds hack and the poisoning and subsequent arrest of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny’
That staging makes sense. The Nord Stream 2 sanctions, and the public signaling of more action to come, buy at least a little more time for the Biden administration to more fully evaluate what steps to take next. The Biden team probably wants to think through its Russia policy, which malign Kremlin behavior it wants to contest at which times, and what its best tools are; National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, for example, was quick to note that the US response to Russia will not consist solely of sanctions. The administration will also want to reestablish the transatlantic coordination on Russia policy, including economic statecraft, that prevailed after Putin’s 2014 attack on Ukraine.
Yet the Biden team won’t have as much time as it wants for a full policy review. Life doesn’t wait for any administration—and neither will Putin. Drawing on our experience helping design the US response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, we offer below ideas for how the US government can deploy sanctions and other tools of economic statecraft as part of a broader Russia policy.
Prepare a stronger sanctions response to Kremlin repression of Navalny
This is an urgent challenge. The Kremlin is escalating its attacks on Navalny—sentencing him on risible charges (like missing parole appointments because of his medical recovery from a suspected Kremlin poisoning with the chemical weapon Novichok) and repressing nationwide protests. And the US response is lagging behind that of the European Union, which sanctioned senior Russian officials last October for the attempted assassination of Navalny and agreed on February 22 to sanction four more senior Russian officials over Navalny’s latest conviction. The Trump administration took no action on these matters and further US inaction would indicate indifference, which is far from the message the Biden administration intends to send.
The United States should at least catch up to the European Union and sanction senior Russian officials responsible for the recent Navalny-related repression, such as the judges involved in his case and Kremlin apparatchiks involved in the decision-making on Navalny and repression of peaceful protests. It could do so by using the Magnitsky Act, a US sanctions authority that has galled Putin since its passage in 2012.
But the United States shouldn’t stop there. In their response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the US and EU targeted senior members of the Russian president’s circle of business cronies and partners in corruption, including prominent Putin financiers. The thinking behind this big step was to target players in the Putinist system in addition to targeting individuals in the formal government. The same principle should apply to the US (and EU and UK) response to Putin’s vengeful attacks on Navalny. One of Navalny’s associates has publicized a list of eight potential targets—among them two oligarchs and two major bankers tied to Putin, and two “princelings,” or children of the Putin elite. That’s a good starting point for an expanded set of individual sanctions.
The Biden administration may have its own ideas about who to target and must do its due diligence. (Consider the cautionary tale of the Trump administration’s sanctions designation of the oligarch Oleg Deripaska and his companies, which, while merited, had unintended consequences that forced the administration to partially walk it back.) The US government should coordinate any larger target list with the United Kingdom, the European Union, Canada, and any other country interested in joining the sanctions effort. But it should also be prepared to act without the EU, whose criteria for sanctions do not include corruption. That criterion is included in the Magnitsky Act, and it will almost certainly be necessary to target the types of figures that Navalny’s team has put forward.
The United States should also consider responding to the repression of Navalny with restrictions on the issuance of Russian sovereign debt. The Trump administration took limited action against Russian sovereign issuance using the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare and Elimination Act of 1991 (CBW Act) in response to the attempted assassination (also using the Novichok chemical weapon) on UK territory of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter in 2018. But the Trump administration defined that sanction in ways that substantially limited its impact. The Biden administration should give it greater teeth by fully restricting participation or trading by US persons in any new Russian sovereign-debt issuance. The United States should attempt to get the United Kingdom on board with this effort as well, since many non-ruble offerings of Russian sovereign debt take place in London. Even without similar action by the UK, though, prohibiting US market participants from such offerings may be sufficient. Under such circumstances, European (UK or EU) banks are likely to have very little appetite to participate without US buyers willing to purchase such instruments on secondary markets.
Nord Stream 2: Use sanctions to kill it or find a way to address its strategic risks?
Deciding how to proceed on Nord Stream 2, the fraught Russian-German gas-pipeline project, is a major early challenge for the Biden administration. The project is divisive within Europe, even within Germany, and a potential flashpoint in US-German relations at a moment in which that relationship is still in a touchy place. The project’s critics have a very strong case. Nord Stream 2 does not advance Europe’s declared energy goals. It would give the Kremlin additional energy leverage over Europe by allowing it to ship gas directly to Germany while potentially curtailing gas shipments to Ukraine, Poland, and other Central European countries. But the cost of sanctioning a critical ally—most of the remaining targets are German—over concerns with Moscow’s coercive energy policies may well be too high.
The threat of sanctions has already caused major delays to Nord Stream 2, but it is unclear whether those threats will prevent the completion of the project. Richard Morningstar, Daniel Stein, and Dan Fried have described a potential alternative approach that would seek to reduce Nord Stream 2’s risks through the development of energy infrastructure and LNG facilities in Poland and the Baltics, enforcement of the anti-monopoly provisions of the EU’s Third Energy Package, and “snapback” contingency sanctions against Russian targets should it violate its gas-transit agreement with Ukraine or reduce without good cause gas shipments to any EU member. Facing pressure from sanctions mandated by the US Congress and continued opposition to Nord Stream 2 from the Biden administration, the German government may be considering its own options.
There thus may be a basis for discussions among the key stakeholders—the United States, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, and the European Union—to avoid a blow-up while addressing the real problems that Nord Stream 2 creates. In fact, Congress’s 2020 legislation on Nord Stream 2 sanctions includes a requirement for the US government to consult with Europe before imposing sanctions and includes a waiver provision that the Biden team could rely on if stakeholders reach a suitable agreement on the pipeline project and controls to mitigate its risks.
Launch a broader review of Russia sanctions
As part of its broader review of Russia policy, the Biden administration should consider the role of sanctions in responding to the breadth of malign Kremlin behavior. That behavior includes the SolarWinds hack; bounties offered by Russian military intelligence for the killing of US soldiers in Afghanistan; election interference in US (and European) elections; increased violence in Ukraine (and ideas recently floated by the Kremlin about seizing the Donbas region of Ukraine like it did Crimea); human-rights abuses in Syria, partnership in Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s repression in Belarus; the export of instability via state-adjacent mercenaries; and cheating on UN-mandated sanctions on North Korea. That’s a lot. And Putin shows no sign of letting up.
These considerations could include the following options:
Deploy individual sanctions more sharply: Some Russia policy hands and many Russian dissidents striving for democracy argue that the United States and Europe should impose individual sanctions on culpable Russian officials and especially Putin’s cronies, bagmen, informal agents, and princelings—a strategy that boils down to targeting the money in what is arguably the world’s largest kleptocracy.
Dissidents argue that such sanctions will generate more support among Russians, who will appreciate that action is being taken against the corrupt and super-rich oligarchic kleptocrats who run Putin’s system and have an impact on Putin himself. Indeed, the sanctions against Putin’s closest cronies since 2014 seem to have grabbed the Kremlin’s attention more than just about any other sanctions measures. The consternation with which many prominent Russians in the Kremlin’s orbit awaited the Trump administration’s publication of the “Kremlin Report,” a list of Putin’s circle mandated by Section 241 of the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), suggests that this tool does have power. The Trump administration bungled its handling of the Kremlin Report and vitiated its impact, but the concept remains valid.
According to some Russian dissidents, going after Putin’s people and depriving them of the ability to travel to Europe and the United States (and park their ill-gotten wealth there) also sends a message to these figures that they are known to US and European officials, that they cannot hide, and that Putin cannot protect them. Depriving wealthy Russians of their ability to visit the West and send their children to school there has far greater impact than depriving Americans and Europeans of the opportunity to visit Moscow.
The Biden administration can draw on its own resources as well as input from independent researchers in and outside Russia to map out the Putinist system and apply sanctions to it. A note of caution, though: It is exceedingly difficult to find the (already sanctioned) Bank Rossiyas of the world where Putin and his bagmen hide their money. The Biden team should put these targets at the top of any sanctions list, but uncovering dark financial actors may prove to be a challenging task.
Develop additional sectoral sanctions: Broader economic sanctions do hurt the economy of the country against which they are targeted. As was the case with the Soviet Union in the 1980s, Russia’s economic stagnation is due mainly to its own weakness but has been exacerbated by outside economic pressure. While intensified and targeted individual sanctions may be the sanctions tool of first choice for the United States, sectoral sanctions should remain part of the tool kit as well—especially for those areas of the Russian economy that are most in Putin’s pocket and correspondingly affecting ordinary Russians less.
The Biden administration will have to fill out the list of potential escalatory economic sanctions. Several have been discussed by sanctions specialists for some time: additional financial-sector designations and restrictions (as in full blocking sanctions against the government development institution VEB and potentially other international Russian banks); complete blocking of Russian sovereign-debt issuance (as noted above); energy-sector sanctions targeting Gazprom’s access to Western capital markets, perhaps as contingency sanctions. The US Treasury, Commerce, and State departments should be tasked with expanding the current list of potential targets, working with Russia specialists in the Intelligence Community and possibly outside experts.
The policy problem is the breadth of malign Kremlin behavior for which these sanctions could potentially be applied. Sanctions have become crossed among the many programs under which Russians have been designated, including sanctions provisions under CAATSA. Even options for expanded sectoral sanctions are finite, with no guidance on criteria for their use (e.g., in response to which bad Kremlin action) and no clear criteria for whether to lift sanctions that were imposed on many grounds should progress be made in one area (e.g., Ukraine). The Kremlin may believe (and certainly argues) that sanctions relief is unlikely to occur under any circumstances, regardless of what actions it takes. The lack of a clear path to the lifting of sanctions weakens their impact, since Putin can adopt a “sanctioned if I do, sanctioned if I don’t” approach. Such a construct could, perversely, encourage Putin’s predilection toward risky gambles abroad.
Draw up an omnibus executive order on Russia sanctions: To address this problem and clean up authorities for Russia sanctions more generally, we recommend that the United States issue an omnibus executive order on Russia sanctions that folds under one umbrella the many designation criteria scattered among many executive orders related to Ukraine, chemical and biological weapons, cyberattacks, human-rights abuses, enforcement of existing legislation like CAATSA or Nord Stream 2, corruption, electoral interference, and external support for undermining democracy. Such an authority could also include new sanctions criteria to better target malign Russian activity globally, such as the actions of the Wagner mercenary group, rather than relying on individual country programs.
Neither the policy review nor a new executive order should attempt to link particular sanctions options to particular bad acts by the Kremlin. It should instead provide flexibility of application. A new executive order would remove the hurdles inherent in imposing sanctions under the expansive Ukraine-related sectoral authorities for non-Ukraine problems (like targeting Deripaska for electoral interference) and allow for more policy clarity since officials would not have to use the flexible Ukraine-related sanctions authorities for all major escalations.
Make off-ramps useable: Sanctions cannot be a one-way street toward ever greater escalation. A Russia sanctions executive order should also provide explicit authority and strong messaging for unwinding sanctions in the event of positive action by the Kremlin in an area of concern. To its credit, the Trump administration used such messaging language in Venezuela executive orders, and that concept can be carried forward here.
This approach would, for example, allow for removing sanctions on the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Kremlin-financed troll farm that led disinformation during the 2016 US elections, should Russia reach an agreement with the United States over electoral-interference issues—notwithstanding the original designation of IRA funder Yevgeny Prigozhin under Ukraine authorities (which was also merited). The executive order or accompanying rollout materials should make clear that, pursuant to an earlier understanding reached with the European Union, a settlement in the Donbas would trigger removal of Ukraine-related sectoral and individual sanctions, though Crimea-related sanctions would remain until the territory’s status is settled between Moscow and Kyiv.
Use the full economic tool kit to deal with Kremlin aggression and repression: Sanctions should not be the sole tool of economic statecraft, and the Biden administration should guard against using them reflexively because of their ease of use. Consistent with the Biden team’s emphasis during the campaign and since taking office, the United States and key allies should develop new tools to promote financial transparency and anti-corruption—and deploy them for ends such as countering Putin’s assault on democracy. Shining a light on the dark corners of the financial system reduces the space in which Putin and other autocrats can operate. It deprives them of the key levers of power (easy and anonymous use of the global financial system, for instance) that they require to continue to subjugate their people and create havoc around the world.
The details of how to do this are laid out more comprehensively in the work of the Atlantic Council’s Anders Åslund and Julia Friedlander, but include steps like pushing for greater corporate transparency, an end to corporate anonymity, the identification of beneficial owners of high-end real-estate deals and other means of money laundering. They also involve extending anti-money laundering rules to non-bank financial intermediaries (attorneys, art dealers, real-estate agents), and establishing a system that imposes real costs (in terms of both exclusion and confiscation) on those who flout the rules. Russia has made financial-transparency commitments within the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force’s global and regional frameworks, and it should be held to account under those commitments. Western democracies in the Kremlin’s crosshairs can also share information on Russian dark money and disrupt Putin’s coercive efforts by impeding those flows.
The Biden team highlighted these tasks during the 2020 presidential campaign, and Joe Biden himself raised them in his February 19 speechat the Munich Security Conference. Given that there may be a lack of political will within the European Union and among other US partners to impose truly costly sanctions on Russia, it is entirely possible that these transparency measures will ultimately be the best method to combat Putin’s assault on democracy.
The application of sanctions and other tools of economic statecraft generate debate, as they should. They can be well or badly applied. They can be used in the service of sound or questionable policy objectives. But one principle is worth noting: The world’s aggressive autocracies should not be able to enjoy the fruits of democracies’ economic and financial systems while disregarding the rules and norms that created such wealth and liquidity in the first place.
Brian O’Toole is a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s GeoEconomics Program. He is a former senior adviser to the director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) at the US Department of the Treasury. Follow him on Twitter @brianoftoole.
Daniel Fried is the Weiser Family distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council. He was the coordinator for sanctions policy during the Obama administration, assistant secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia during the Bush administration, and senior director at the National Security Council for the Clinton and Bush administrations. He also served as ambassador to Poland during the Clinton administration. Follow him on Twitter @AmbDanFried.
While sanctions are increasingly a tool of first resort in US foreign policy, the State Department has lacked a disciplined process for coordinating sanctions policy. But the new Office of Sanctions Coordination is an opportunity to fix this problem.
#AceNewsReport – Feb.28: If there has been an independent investigation of the causes of deaths and injuries, its results have not been announced to the public. Meanwhile, the consequences for Crimean Tatars have been severe:
Russia’s collective punishment of the Crimean Tatars is a war crime: ‘On this day, violent clashes erupted in front of the Supreme Council of Crimea in Simferopol, where thousands of Crimean Tatars and other advocates of the territorial integrity of Ukraine were opposed by thousands of those who supported Crimea’s accession to the Russian Federation. Two people died, while several more were injured’
A Russian serviceman without insignia pictured during the 2014 Russian military takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. (REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko)
According to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), 26 February, 2014, is the date that marks the beginning of the international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation in Crimea.
Feb 25, 2021
Following the Kremlin seizure of the Ukrainian peninsula, Russia’s Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case against the organisers of the pro-Ukrainian protest. Between January and April 2015, eight Crimean Tatars were accused of participation in mass unrest, including a journalist from the Crimean Tatar TV channel ATR and the Deputy Head of the Mejlis (representative and executive body of the Crimean Tatar people).
In April 2015, ATR stopped broadcasting in Crimea. On 15 April 2016, the Russia-appointed prosecutor of Crimea banned the Mejlis as an extremist organization. The decision was eventually upheld by the Russian courts.
This and the many subsequent criminal cases against Crimean Tatars have been viewed as an attempt by the occupation administration of Crimea to punish the Crimean Tatars collectively for their opposition to Russia’s seizure of the peninsula.
Such cases are commonly regarded as political persecution. Meanwhile, Crimean Tatars accused of terrorism, extremism, participation in mass unrest, and similar crimes in Crimea are considered political prisoners. Amid many political declarations in this regard, one strong legal argument is often overlooked, namely the international prohibition of collective punishments.
Collective punishments include both criminal and non-criminal measures such as sanctions, administrative practices, harassment, and other types of penalties taken in retaliation for an act committed by one or more persons that are considered to belong to a certain group.
Collective punishments are prohibited under international humanitarian law (IHL) and amount to a war crime according to the Geneva Conventions and customary IHL rules, although are not included as such in the Rome Statute of the ICC.
Examples of acts that have been recognised to constitute collective punishments include massive destruction in a refugee camp in retaliation for a military offensive conducted by a party to a conflict, and the widespread destruction of homes and other civilian structures without a militarily justified reason.
Although the ban on the Mejlis does not reach the same threshold of gravity as the destruction of civilian objects, it does appear to satisfy the definition of collective punishments as a repressive measure imposed by the Russian administration of Crimea in response to the political and civil position taken by Crimean Tatars.
In combination with other relevant legal principles, this may strengthen Ukraine’s arguments before international courts. It could also prove helpful when advocating for sanctions and during negotiations for the exchange of detainees.
Other relevant rules and principles include the prohibition of adverse distinctions of any kind, non-retroactivity of penal law, and the prohibition of punitive measures in respect of events which had occurred before the occupation began.
Considering the European Court of Human Rights ruling that the Russian Federation has been exercising effective control over Crimea since February 27, 2014 (and therefore the situation in Crimea amounts to belligerent occupation), these rules apply to Crimea.
Firstly, the prohibition of adverse distinctions extends IHL protections to the entire population of the occupied territory without any distinction based on race, religion, or nationality. In a rather straightforward manner, it protects Crimean Tatars from any discriminatory practices, including imposition of administrative measures, sanctions, and penalties based on ethnicity or religion.
Secondly, the non-retroactivity of penal law means that provisions of criminal legislation introduced by the Occupying Power may not cover the period before such provision had been enacted. It safeguards the population of the occupied territory from persecution. The principle stipulates that the Occupying Power is absolutely prohibited from accusing or convicting persons of criminal offences for an act or omission that did not constitute a criminal offence at the time it was committed.
Thirdly, the prohibition of punitive measures in respect of events which had occurred before the occupation safeguards civilians, including private individuals and those who carry out public duties, from being punished for acts that took place before the beginning of the occupation if such acts do not violate laws and customs of war.
The jurisdiction of the Occupying Power is limited to the period of an actual occupation and does not cover situations when protected persons helped the troops of their own party to the conflict, belonged to a political party banned by the Occupying Power, or expressed political opinions contrary to those of the Occupying Power.
In the Crimean context, these two principles mean that Crimean Tatars may not be prosecuted or otherwise punished for opposing Crimea’s accession to the Russian Federation or for participating in the protest on February 26, 2014, if the Russian occupation is considered to have begun on the following day.
In sum, during upcoming events to mark the seventh anniversary of Russia’s Crimean seizure, in submissions to international judicial and political institutions, and in negotiations on detainee exchanges, Ukraine should not limit itself to the political arguments questioning the legality of the ban on the Mejlis and the ongoing persecution of the Crimean Tatars.
On the contrary, Ukraine should explore all relevant legal concepts and principles, including the less obvious ones such as prohibitions on collective punishments and punitive measures in respect of events which occurred before the occupation. In this way, Ukraine will be able to strengthen its position and gain the additional support needed to ensure the release of those persecuted for opposing the Russian occupation in Crimea.
Wayne Jordash QC is Managing Partner of GRC. Anna Mykytenko is Senior Legal Consultant of GRC.
#AceNewsReport – Feb.26: Three of the world’s largest consulting firms received tens of millions of dollars in payments from an obscure firm in Dubai to help restructure Angola’s corruption-ridden oil sector, according to documents that reveal new details about suspicious money flows described in the globe-spanning Luanda Leaks investigation:
Banking documents reveal consulting giants’ cash windfall under Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos
Boston Consulting Group, PwC, and McKinsey made tens of millions from a project to modernize state-owned oil company Sonangol, despite red flags indicating corruption.
The Dubai firm, Matter Business Solutions, forwarded $31.2 million to Boston Consulting Group, $21.4 to PwC and $15.4 million to McKinsey as part of a 2017 project to modernize Sonangol, Angola’s state-owned oil company, according to bank statements and other documents seen by the Portuguese news outlets Expresso and SIC.
Expresso and SIC were central members of Luanda Leaks, which revealed how secretive deals turned dos Santos into a billionaire and globetrotting bigwig under the presidency of her authoritarian father.
PwC and Boston Consulting were deeply enmeshed in dos Santos’ business affairs, the reporting showed. They retained those relationships long after many Western banks had cut her off amid questions about the source of her wealth. Boston Consulting helped run a failing jewelry business acquired with Angolan money; PwC suggested ways to avoid Angolan taxes and its accountants disregarded red flags about money movements between dos Santos entities that experts say should have raised alarms.
The Sonangol payments, by way of the Dubai shell company, highlight ongoing concerns about lax due diligence standards by consulting giants and light-touch regulations that allow foreign advisors to amass huge profits — no matter the money’s origin.
“Consulting firms, like other private sector players, should identify who owns the entities they work with,” said Alexandra Gillies, an expert on corruption in the oil sector with the Natural Resources Governance Institute. “In this case, the owner was not only a close associate of a senior public official, but that official had a clear ability to influence the business in question, creating a conflict of interest. Those are some pretty major red flags for firms of this caliber to ignore.”
Responding to the new documents, PwC’s Lisbon office told Expresso that the company ended its relationship with companies linked to dos Santos in January 2020. Two Lisbon-based employees were dismissed following a “comprehensive internal investigation,” it said.
McKinsey told Expresso that it made “internal inquiries” after the Luanda Leaks investigation but “did not detect any irregularity on the part of the team involved.” McKinsey said that it provided services to institutions, not individuals. Its relationship with Sonangol predated dos Santos’ time as chair, the company said.
BCG said it was “not appropriate” to comment given ongoing “investigations regarding allegations against Isabel dos Santos.”
Millions go to friends’ consulting firms
The new financial records reveal that Sonangol first transferred funds to Matter Business Solutions’ bank account at NBD Emirates in Dubai. Funds were then sent to banks in Portugal and Spain for PwC, Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey, Expresso reported. Matter’s shareholder was Paula Cristina Fidalgo Carvalho das Neves Oliveira, a close ally of dos Santos.
Other lucrative wires from Sonangol to Matter landed in the bank accounts of a law firm and lesser-known consultancy companies, including one partly owned by the wife of dos Santos’ personal financial advisor, the news organizations reported. The payments were for services provided by the firms as part of a dos Santos-led restructuring of Sonangol, though it isn’t clear what services the firms provided in exchange.
Another $31.5 million in Sonangol funds remain unaccounted for after leaving Dubai, according to Expresso.
Following dos Santos’ dismissal in 2017, Sonangol’s new chairman, Carlos Saturnino publicly announced that dos Santos had mismanaged the company and approved more than $135 million in consulting fees, with most going first to her friend’s consulting company. Saturnino recently told ICIJ that he was unable to comment further.
Dos Santos and Oliveira deny wrongdoing. The billionaire previously said that payments to Matter Business Solutions were for legitimate services that consultants had delivered. She had no connection to the firm, dos Santos said.
Oliveira denied being “anyone’s frontwoman” and told Expresso and SIC that Matter Business Solutions provided legitimate business services. “The insinuation that the services that were invoiced by Matter to Sonangol were not rendered is not only insulting” but “deeply false,” Oliveira told Expresso.
As part of the Luanda Leaks investigation, ICIJ revealed that Boston Consulting received more than $3.5 million from a Maltese firm co-owned by dos Santos as part of a contract to restructure Sonangol just before the daughter of the then-president of the country was appointed head of the oil state company in 2016. PwC was paid $273,000 by the same dos Santos Maltese firm for services to the oil giant, according to documents provided to ICIJ by the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa, or PPLAAF, a Paris-based advocacy group. It’s unclear if the newly discovered payments are in addition to ICIJ’s previous reporting.
Beyond their work for Sonangol, ICIJ also revealed that PwC and Boston Consulting Group made millions from 2010 to 2017 working for other companies owned or partly owned by dos Santos and her husband Sindika Dokolo, who died in 2020. PwC played the biggest role in the dos Santos empire, providing accounting and auditing services to companies linked to dos Santos and her husband in Malta, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
“It is very worrying that those that are supposed to be the gatekeepers of the financial sector seem to be – in the best case scenario – asleep on the job,” said Maíra Martini, an anti-money laundering expert with Transparency International. “In this particular case, from the banks involved to the lawyers and accountants – they all seem to have missed important red flags,” Martini said.
From the $131 million paid first to Matter Business Solutions and then routed onwards, Expresso reported that two companies owned by dos Santos received $1.9 million combined. Another $3.4 million went to Youcall, a human resources firm whose shareholders include dos Santos and her friend, Oliveira, Expresso reported. Other firms in which Oliveira was the only shareholder received almost $3 million, according to the newspaper.
Odka, a consulting firm in the tax haven island of Madeira, received $11.5 million to provide Sonangol with management software, according to Expresso. Almost half of that company is owned by the wife of Mário Leite da Silva, dos Santos’ primary business advisor. In late 2019, the Angolan government named da Silva in a freezing order that alleged dos Santos, her late husband and da Silva caused Angola to lose $1 billion in poorly managed business deals. Last year, following the Luanda Leaks investigation, a court in the Netherlands removed da Silva from the boardof Dutch holding company pending the outcome of an investigation into an energy deal between Sonangol and Dokolo, dos Santos’ late husband.
Da Silva told Expresso and SIC that there was nothing improper with Sonangol hiring Matter Business Solutions and that Angola’s oil company “gained a lot” from the relationship.
Odka’s director, Carlos Russo, told Expresso that the company “has a team, a history of successful projects and a set of skills that positively differentiated it and, we believe, made us the right entity for the job.”
#AceNewsReport – Feb.27: The move, which is due to begin at the start of March, prompted condemnation from Taiwan’s ruling party: Ms Tsai said in a Facebook post that the island’s agricultural exports met international standards:
‘Taiwan urges people to eat more pineapples after China bans imports Amid what some have labelled a campaign of “intimidation”, China said on Friday it was suspending imports of pineapples from sub-tropical Taiwan, citing “harmful creatures” it said could come with the fruit, threatening China’s own agriculture’
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“China sent an ambush-like notice, unilaterally suspending the imports of Taiwan pineapples. This obviously was not a normal trade decision,” she wrote without elaboration.
“To support the farmers, let’s eat pineapples all together!”
Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said on top of ongoing “military intimidation”, Beijing is also using the import ban to exert economic pressure on Taiwan, which counts China among its top trading partners despite political tensions.
“This is not the first time China has used agricultural exports to other countries as political threats,” the DPP said in a statement.
China has over the past year added heavy tariffs to imported Australian products such as wine, barley, beef, cotton and coal as the relationship between the two nations deteriorates.
Taiwan’s air force scrambled for a second straight day last weekend after a dozen Chinese fighter aircraft and bombers carried out drills close to Taiwan-controlled islands in the disputed South China Sea.
Man Arrested For Fatal Shooting At St. Paul SaloonFebruary 26, 2021St. Paul police announced Friday that a man was arrested in connection to a shooting earlier this week that left one woman injured and a man dead. Man Arrested For Fatal Shooting At St. Paul Saloon
#AceNewsReport – Feb.27: It was the second such kidnapping in little over a week in a region increasingly targeted by militants and criminal gangs. There was no immediate claim of responsibility:
‘Police and army mobilise after hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls taken in mass abduction’ in Zamfara state said they had begun search-and-rescue operations with the army to find the “armed bandits” who took the 317 girls from the Government Girls Science Secondary School in the town of Jangebe early on Friday (local time)’
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“There’s information that they were moved to a neighbouring forest, and we are tracing and exercising caution and care,” Zamfara police commissioner Abutu Yaro told a news conference.
He did not say whether those possibly moved to the forest included all of them.
Zamfara’s information commissioner, Sulaiman Tanau Anka, said the assailants stormed in about 1:00am (local time) firing sporadically.
“Information available to me said they came with vehicles and moved the students, they also moved some on foot,” he said.
‘We are only hoping on divine intervention’
Nasiru Abdullahi said his daughters, aged 10 and 13, were among the missing.
“It is disappointing that even though the military have a strong presence near the school they were unable to protect the girls,” he said.
“At this stage, we are only hoping on divine intervention.”
Resident Musa Mustapha said the gunmen also attacked a nearby military camp and checkpoint, preventing soldiers from interfering while the gunmen spent several hours at the school.
Nigeria’s UNICEF representative, Peter Hawkins, called for the children’s immediate release.
“We are angered and saddened by yet another brutal attack on schoolchildren in Nigeria,” Mr Hawkins said
“This is a gross violation of children’s rights and a horrific experience for children to go through.”
Anietie Ewang, Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, noted the recent abductions and tweeted: “Strong action is required from the authorities to turn the tide & keep schools safe.”
Amnesty International also condemned the “appalling attack”, warning in a statement that “the girls abducted are in serious risk of being harmed”.
Teachers have been forced to flee to other states for protection, and many children have had to abandon their education amid frequent violent attacks in communities, Amnesty said.
Worsening violence prompts military shakeup
School kidnappings were first carried out by jihadist groups Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province but the tactic has now been adopted by other militants in the north-west whose agenda is unclear.
They have become endemic around the increasingly lawless north, to the anguish of families and frustration of Nigeria’s government and armed forces.
Friday’s was the third such incident since December.
The rise in abductions is fuelled in part by sizeable government payoffs in exchange for child hostages, catalysing a broader breakdown of security in the north, officials have said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The government denies making such payouts.
President Muhammadu Buhari replaced his long-standing military chiefs earlier this month amid the worsening violence.
Armed forces in the north-east are fighting to reclaim towns overrun by insurgents.
Last week, unidentified gunmen kidnapped 42 people including 27 students, and killed one pupil, in an overnight attack on a boarding school in the north-central state of Niger.
The hostages are yet to be released.
In December, dozens of gunmen abducted 344 schoolboys from the town of Kankara in north-west Katsina state.
A ransom was paid, according to the United Nations.
Perhaps the most notorious kidnapping in recent years was when Boko Haram militants abducted 276 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in Borno state in April 2014. The incident drew widespread global attention.