Editorial | Republic Underground
April 8, 2021
Image appeared in the original “The Dissident” discussion thread.
A war of words at the House Foreign Affairs Committee sparred with discussion on “The Dissident.” American national security analyst Irina Tsukerman confronted both Omar Abdulaziz and Bryan Fogel over a “visually compelling” but “overlong propaganda” film about Jamal Khashogghi. The film was rejected by western networks for a lack of interest. Jamal Khashoggi has been widely accepted by the western world as journalist who opposed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s “royal regime”but has also been largely regarded as a propagandist and an Islamist with an agenda toward Islamist narratives.
Below, a screencapture of Tsukerman’s commentary that explains how she attempted to confront Omar Adulaziz and Bryan Fogel in criticism of their film which some western critics consider to put Khashoggi on a pedestal of sorts. Khashoggi was a frequent and public spokesperson of Islamist ideology, expressed in English and Arabic via his Twitter account.
Tsukerman launched a thread on Twitter on the incident at the House of Foreign Affairs at the event held for The Dissident film screening. The event was hosted by James P. McGovern Member of Congress Co-Chair, TLHRC Gregory Meeks Member of Congress Chairman, HFAC, and
Christopher H. Smith Member of Congress Co-Chair, TLHRC. It featured Omar Abdulaziz, Saudi political satirist, and activist exiled in Canada Bryan Fogel, Director, The Dissident Thor Halvorssen, Producer, The Dissident, and President, Human Rights Foundation. The event was moderated by Alex Marquardt, Senior National Security Correspondent, CNN.
The late Khashoggi, hailed as a journalist by some, as an Islamist mouthpiece by others. “Mohammed bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia: A Deeper Look” by POMED is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Questions at the Human Rights Commission
This thread originally appeared on Twitter on April 8 and appears in its entirety in original Twitter annotation.
- The Ask: Thor Halvorssen didn’t make it to the discussion, but
@oamaz7 and @bryanfogel called for public sanctions of #MBS for the Khashoggi matter, #BDS of #MBS-related activities in #KSA by celebrities, and even arrest of #MBS in the event he entered the United States.
Jamal Khashoggi made controversial statements regarding parallels between the 9/11 attacks in New York City and the Palestinian authority. Statements such as this were celebrated by the left-wing media and groups in the west, but drew the anger of the American public as well through narrative politicization of a U.S. national trauma.
Your 9/11 is our 24/7.
— جمال خاشقجي (@JKhashoggi) September 13, 2011
- Bryan Fogel expressed no skepticism of the Turkish government’s role in the #Khashoggi investigation but emphasized that it was “the only government” to conduct a trial in absentia and to take the case seriously.
- My questions for the @HouseForeign and the panels were as follows:
Western critics of Khashoggi likewise turn their criticism to Abdulaziz, warning that his political affiliations may end with a similar outcome as did Khashoggi’s. Abdulaziz’s critics warned that this friends and supporters would betray him and use him as ” a fall guy.”
- “I hope the Members of Congress can comment, at the end of the discussion, whether members of Turkish intelligence have any credibility to comment on the Khashoggi matter given that 1) Turkey is a top jailer of journalists in the world.
- 4) Turkey has a long history of disinformation and 5) No Saudi officials were interviewed in response to these claims.”
Khashoggi posted this tweet in 2012 promoting the “participation of Arab youth in the jihad in Syria” referring to the armed Islamist jihad in that region in the 2012 era.
- “My respectful question to the Members of Congress regarding their views whether they have evidence corroborating the claims by the dissidents in Europe and KSA, including claims of attempted assassinations, or whether they rely solely on the claims of these activists.
8.”My other question is whether Members of Congress are aware of Jamal Khashoggi’s past role in enforcing censorship in KSA, suppression of liberal reformists, threats to anti-Islamist Saudi academics such as
- active support for the anti-liberal Muslim Brotherhood movement, and Jew-hating rhetoric, as well as a more recent role as an active Saudi intelligence operative, and whether in light of these issues.
- they still can in good conscience consider to take the narrative that he was targeted for his critique of the Crown Prince seriously.”
- “Finally, I would like to ask members of Congress whether they have had an opportunity to interview past backers of Jamal Khashoggi, Prince Turki al Faisal, and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who had funded one of his attempted initiative in the past.
- and to consider whether they or other members of the royal family who had been sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood and opposed the Crown Prince,
- and who were tied into Khashoggi’s activity may have had an incentive to prevent Khashoggi from ever reaching Saudi Arabia and testifying on various political issues.”
- Question to the panel: “I would like to ask members of the panel whether they consider @Oamaz7‘s past support for ISIS, scrubbed from his Twitter account prior to his asylum claim in Canada, an impediment to his credibility, and if not, why not.
- Do you think that such views could be a legitimate concern for the Saudi authorities?”
- “My other question to the panel is whether independent experts outside Citizen Lab have had an opportunity to examine the evidence related to the Pegasus software/NSO lab?
- Is it true that according to independent expertise by other experts on this issue that software is actually untraceable and therefore could not have been used as evidence in these cases?
A common western rhetoric holds Prince binSalman to blame for the war in Yemen, and demands that arms trade not take place between the west and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia acts as a mediator in Yemen in an effort to stave off the press of the Iranian regime backed Houthi rebellion, states national security analysts. Image credit: “Stop Arming Saudi Arabia” by alisdare1 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
- Following @oamaz7‘s comments, I also asked: “Are members of the Committee aware that the “Saudi activist sentenced to almost 20 years” aware that this individual was inciting young people to support the genocidal ISIS and to join its war efforts?
- Was Osama bin Laden was also not considered a “dissident” prior to 9/11 in some circles? How are these cases different? What is the process of vetting and fact-checking such human rights claims?
- None of my questions were asked. The only questions that were asked were softball questions that I could not see in the actual Q&A box. It’s entirely possible they were prepared in advance or sent in by supporters of the panelists.
- The good news is @oamaz7 clearly saw my questions because rather than addressing his past support of ISIS, he brought up (w/o naming me) my tweet which essentially stated that he can likely end up like #Khashoggi if and when he outlives his utility to his backers.
- Despite the obvious plain meaning of this comment – that people who deal with dangerous movements and groups eventually get killed by them @oamaz7 tried to make it seem like a threat and called for Twitter censorship (hi @marcowenjones)
- What’s great about all of this is that @oamaz7 knows well that none of his adversaries want to kill him. His lawsuits and claims against #MBS are fact-free and defamatory. He at once claims to be a victim of dangerous assassins and yet makes them sound like amateur clowns.
- In reality, it was his friend #Khashoggi who had threatened the critics of the Muslim Brotherhood like @Najat_AlSaeed, in a very unambiguous way.
Dr. Al-Saied wrote regarding pursuing peace with Israel. Her work has appeared via the Gatestone Institute. Jamal Khashoggi targeted her with a threat that, to the western eye, appeared to be little more than retort. Khashoggi responded to Dr. Al-Saied’s writing with “I wish you and people like you would shut up because you are the cause of the Arabs’ and Palestinians’ hatred of our country.”
Dr. Al-Saied noted the cultural context of this statemetn in her Gatestone Institute report:
“In the Arab world, such a message from someone highly connected can be taken as a death threat,” wrote Al-Saied.
Any criticism of the western support for Khashoggi has received vicious retort, with some thinly veiled threats of rape such as Tsukerman received in response to her commentary.
In conclusion, OF COURSE, the entire hearing was a political farce. But it’s my duty as a US citizen to watch where my taxpayer money is going and to hold both the US government officials and their interlocutors accountable for the waste of time and money.
In this interview with Republic Underground news, Saudi academic Dr. Najat AlSaied described Khashoggi’s attacks of her as well as the other attacks from Islamists.
Criticism of the Dissident Film
This commentary initially appeared on Twitter on March 19 and is quoted here verbatim in its original Twitter annotation.
“Even an average viewer with a poor to nonexistent grasp of information warfare, #geopolitics, or current events will easily see the film for what it is, particularly when Turkish officials are interviewed with straight face and major plot holes in the narrative are ignored.
Tsukerman joined a chorus of people who questioned and criticized the film’s politics, including those who asked why the film focused on a” terrorist sympathizer”.
Will the panel be asked why this documentary features a terrorist sympathizer? pic.twitter.com/K5uCJcNYYj
— Bader Ibrahimovic II (@eltoronero) January 13, 2021
- Leaving aside the rehashing of the usual talking points that we have all seen repeated ad nauseum by the world media for the past 2.5 years, as if top press outlets were part of #Khashoggi‘s and Omar Abdulaziz’s electronic bee campaign, the film made a striking confession.
- The “pro-democracy” campaign was organized by #Khashoggi and Omar Abdulaziz, their electronic bee project to counter Saud al-Qahtani’s “flies” (as they called pro-#MBS Twitter accounts regardless of their actual connection to Saudi gov’t) was as undemocratic as the “flies”.
- What kind of “free expression” are these “dissidents” and “activists” talking about when they just confessed to deceiving the public and manipulating the public opinion to an organized campaign that has nothing to do with grassroots activism and that was funded by #Khashoggi?
- What kind of “democracy” can there be when the movement to “inform” the Saudis about the “truth” (as a group of disgruntled ex-Saudis deems it) is being forced upon the public using the very same line of thinking they decry in the Saudi government and royal family?
- Even assuming that the average Saudi netizen is ignorant of the “truth” about his own country or wants to spend his time attacking the government and the royal family (which is the “freedom” #Khashoggi and Omar Abdulaziz were promising them), no one wants to be used as a pawn.
- #Khashoggi and Omar Abdulaziz thinking was as elitist if not more than that of the most authoritarian of any royals anywhere. They believed that the public could not see the truth without external assistance and could not be trusted with evaluating reality on its own.
- Therefore it was necessary to use hand-picked #Khashoggi and Omar Abdulaziz associates (no doubt, who shared the same pro-Muslim Brotherhood pro-manipulation ideology) as “leaders and officers”, whereas regular people would be relegated to the role of foot soldiers executing.
- This is offensive to anyone who believes in republicanism or liberal democratic values. The project was not about informing, educating, reforming, liberalizing, or liberating anyone in #KSA. It was a power struggle between #Khashoggi & Omar Abdulaziz over Twitter control.
- The campaign amounted to nothing more than displacing pro-#MBS hashtags with anti-#MBS hashtags and empowering particular factions, rather than starting an informed discussion about the future of the country or best governance model.
- The #Saudi population did not embrace #Khashoggi and Omar Abdulaziz overall not simply out of love for the royal family and #MBS (though I believe the support is mostly genuine) but because they saw they were being lied to and blatantly used.
- This same fake vision of “democracy” through manipulation took place during the Arab Spring. That’s why it never brought freedom or improvement or reform. The vision of the Arab Spring the Islamists pushed successfully had absolutely nothing to do with liberalization or freedom.
- The organized human rights groups who had taken part in the Arab Spring and since then consolidated power were never about individual rights or improvement in quality of life for individual citizens. These organizations were always a fundraising racket, I see it clearly now.
The @HRF, the @CPJMENA, @AgnesCallamard, David Kaye, Citizen Lab, joined forces with Big Tech, like Jeff Bezos/Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, and with profoundly anti-democratic forces such as #Qatar-backed @marcowenjones, and Turkish intelligence.
What reforms, human rights, or democracy are we talking about when we have a fusion of censorious big tech, manipulators of public opinion, foreign agents, and repressive regimes working together to spread propaganda and takedown governments that enjoy public support? (#MBS)
‘Twas most disappointing to see taking part in the human rights racket (weaponizing the concept of “human rights” to get a cut of the cash, access, & influence in the power struggle to upend societies & their preferred way of life) was @weddady, whom I once considered a friend & mentor.
- In retrospect, I am beginning to question @weddady ‘s role in the digital revolution during the #Tunisian Arab Spring. Was it a well-meaning action that got decidedly out of control or taken over by sinister forces?
- Anyone who can sign on to the pack of lies that was The Dissident at least now cannot be acting in good faith. We have had our differences with @weddady in recent years, but I hoped there was some “bigger plan” or a “long game” in the works that would undo my skepticism.
- I can accept differences of opinion, mistakes, even being deluded due to ignorance. I cannot in good conscience walk the same path with someone who knowingly takes part in spreading malicious propaganda and deceitful smear campaigns – even against powerful, wealthy people.
- At the end of the day, if you believe in defending human rights, dignity, and conscience, you have to balance empathy, an open mind, and healthy skepticism. “Don’t believe everything you think”, to quote my friend, Andres Roemer, especially if it sounds like a catchy buzzword.