Jared Kushner is wreaking havoc in the Middle East

I wrote this for The Guardian:

The entire Middle East, from Palestine to Yemen, appears set to burst into flames after this week. The region was already teetering on the edge, but recent events have only made things worse. And while the mayhem should be apparent to any casual observer, what’s less obvious is Jared Kushner’s role in the chaos.

Kushner is, of course, the US president’s senior advisor and son-in-law. The 36-year-old is a Harvard graduate who seems to have a hard time filling in forms correctly.

He repeatedly failed to mention his meetings with foreign officials on his security clearance and neglected to report to US government officials that he was co-director of a foundation that raised money for Israeli settlements, considered illegal under international law. (He is also said to have told Michael Flynn last December to call UN security council members to get a resolution condemning Israeli settlements quashed. Flynn called Russia.)

In his role as the president’s special advisor, Kushner seems to have decided he can remake the entire Middle East, and he is wreaking his havoc with his new best friend, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, the 32-year-old who burst on to the international scene by jailing many members of his country’s ruling elite, including from his own family, on corruption charges.

Days before bin Salman’s unprecedented move, Kushner was with the crown prince in Riyadh on an unannounced trip. The men are reported to have stayed up late, planning strategy while swapping stories. We don’t know what exactly the two were plotting, but Donald Trump later tweeted his “great confidence” in bin Salman.

But the Kushner-bin Salman alliance moves far beyond Riyadh. The Saudis and Americans are now privately pushing a new “peace” deal to various Palestinian and Arab leaders that is more lop-sided toward Israel than ever before.

Ahmad Tibi, a Palestinian parliamentarian in the Israeli Knesset, explained the basic contours of the deal to the New York Times: no full statehood for Palestinians, only “moral sovereignty.” Control over disconnected segments of the occupied territories only. No capital in East Jerusalem. No right of return for Palestinian refugees.

This is, of course, not a deal at all. It’s an insult to the Palestinian people. Another Arab official cited in the Times story explained that the proposal came from someone lacking experience but attempting to flatter the family of the American president. In other words, it’s as if Mohammed bin Salman is trying to gift Palestine to Jared Kushner, Palestinians be damned.

Next came Donald Trump throwing both caution and international law to the wind by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

But it’s not just Israel, either…

Read the rest here.

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