Hatice Cengiz, Jamal Khashoggi's fiancée, and the Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) nonprofit founded by the slain Washington Post columnist filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday in the US District Court for the District of Columbia seeking damages from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as from more than 20 other defendants, for Jamal Khashoggi's October 2018 killing in Saudi Arabia's Istanbul consulate. The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit under the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991, which enables one to seek damages in US courts from "individuals" who "torture" or commit "extrajudicial killings" for "any foreign nation" once the claimants have "exhausted adequate and available remedies in the place in which the conduct giving rise to the claim occurred." Cengiz's lawsuit also names as defendants Saudi Arabia's former deputy head of general intelligence Ahmed al-Asiri and former royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani. On July 3, 2020, a trial in absentia of 20 Saudi officials, including al-Asiri and al-Qahtani, for Khashoggi's murder opened in Turkey. A Saudi court on September 7 sentenced eight anonymous defendants convicted of involvement in Khashoggi's murder. Five were sentenced to 20 years in prison, one to ten years, and two to seven years. Saud al-Qahtani was never charged and al-Asiri acquitted. However, the government dismissed each from his position. While the CIA concluded Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered the killing of the regime insider-turned-critic, Riyadh maintains it was a rogue operation.
A UAE delegation led by Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid al-Tayer arrived in Israel Tuesday to sign a mutual visa waiver agreement along with deals concerning cooperation in aviation, investment, science and technology. The delegation also presented Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi with a letter from his Emirati counterpart, Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, officially requesting to open a UAE embassy in Tel Aviv "as soon as possible" while expressing eagerness for Israel to open an embassy in Abu Dhabi. The US Embassy in Israel issued a statement Tuesday announcing the establishment of the Abraham Fund, which will mobilize more than $3 billion from the US International Development Finance Corporation, the UAE, and Israel "to initiate strategic projects with a high developmental impact, including those that catalyze economic growth, improve standards of living, and create high-value, quality jobs." Israel will host the fund's development office. PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Youssef said in Ramallah, "The bilateral agreements that were announced today and the delegations that come and go, all of that offers the occupation strength to escalate its aggression and its crimes against the Palestinian people and increases its intransigence and arrogance."
United Arab Emirates
Israel's state-owned Europe Asia Pipeline Company (EAPC) signed a memorandum of understanding with UAE-based MED-RED Land Bridge – a consortium of UAE and Israeli companies – in Abu Dhabi Monday to transport Emirati oil through the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline to Europe. Israel and Iran formed the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company, as EAPC was originally known, to transport Iranian oil to Europe after the Suez Canal's closure following the 1967 Six-Day War. EAPC has a capacity of 600,000 barrels a day and almost 23 million barrels of storage space.
IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Hadi Zilberman Tuesday disclosed the discovery of a tunnel under construction crossing from Khan Yunis, Gaza into Israel. Hours following the statement, Israeli missile defenses intercepted a rocket from Gaza. Later in the day, the IDF said its fighter jets and attack helicopters struck Hamas's "underground infrastructure." No casualties were reported on either side. Israel has uncovered around 20 Gazan tunnels since Operation Protective Edge (2014), which it launched in large part to destroy such tunnels.
After President Trump announced Monday Sudan's imminent removal from the State Department's state sponsors of terrorism list, Axios reported Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok "appeared to change his mind in the last few days" about normalizing relations with Israel as long as "Sudan would be removed from the terror list and receive an aid package first." Sudan's transitional regime, established following Omar al-Bashir's ouster, divides executive power between Sovereignty Council Chairman Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. While al-Burhan met informally with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Uganda last February and allegedly supports normalizing relations, Hamdok has been more resistant, telling Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last August that "the transitional government does not have a mandate... to decide on normalization with Israel." Contradicting Axios's story, Acting Finance Minister Hiba Mohamed Ali asserted on Sudanese TV Monday, "It is not possible for an entire people to be forced to normalize in a week or two. If it is our wish to normalize relations with Israel, we must give a suitable chance for the issue to be studied in detail." Whether Khartoum may normalize ties with Israel is also subject to dueling fatwas. Although the Islamic Fiqh Council, a Sudanese governmental body that includes representatives appointed by the prime minister, issued a fatwa on September 30 against normalization, Sheikh Abdel-Rahman Hassan Hamed, head of the Sudan Scholars Organization's fatwa department, subsequently ruled otherwise. In a telephone interview with The Times of Israel, Sheikh Hamed argued, "As a general principle, from an Islamic standpoint, there is no opposition to sulh [armistice] or salaam [peace] with Israel."
2020 US Presidential Election
Jill Biden Tuesday addressed Arab-American voters, alongside Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Debbie Dingell, at Dearborn, Michigan's Shatila Bakery. Biden did not mention the Middle East, or any issues particular to either Arabs or Muslims, in her nine-minute speech.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum