US will not allow MBS to be tried over Khashoggi murder, G20’s joint call for peace and China censors egg fried rice protests

Natalia Antelava

 

The Iranian national football team offered a rare example of integrity, dignity and courage in a misbegotten World Cup. As they lined up against England, the Iranian players refused to sing the country’s national anthem in solidarity with the hundreds of their compatriots who have been killed and the thousands who have been arrested in protests since September. In the pre-match press conference, Iran’s captain said of the protestors: “We are here, but it does not mean that we should not be their voice, or we must not respect them.” In a World Cup stained by lies and disinformation, the Iranian players’ actions stood out as a moment of truth. Incidentally, Qatar, the host of this World Cup, and to whose defense the FIFA president so bizarrely rose on the eve of the tournament’s opening, is arguably the Iranian regime’s closest ally. Makes the players’ actions all the more heroic.

Chief among the dignitaries at the opening ceremony for the Qatar World Cup was Saudi Arabia’s thuggish crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman. There has been little love lost of late between the Qataris and Saudis and his presence appeared to suggest a reconciliation. U.S. President Joe Biden also appears to have reconciled with MBS and Saudi Arabia, which he once described as a pariah state. MBS, though, has little respect for Joe Biden. Just last month, the Saudi foreign minister had to deny that MBS told his aides that he preferred Trump. But Biden shows no sign of being offended. In a remarkable about-turn, his administration told a U.S. court last week that as a “sitting head of government” MBS should be immune from civil court proceedings over the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. “Jamal died again today,” tweeted Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancee, when the news broke. By shielding MBS from prosecution, Biden has abandoned the U.S. promise to bring the killers to justice. Wonder if he and MBS exchanged another fist bump? 

Both Biden and MBS were at the G-20 summit in Bali this month, though apparently no meeting was planned. Despite Russia’s presence, in the form of foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, leading to some awkwardness, the world’s leaders were able to unite to make a rare joint statement on the war in Ukraine. Signed after Lavrov left the summit early, the joint declaration suggests that Xi Jinping doesn’t want to be left out in the cold with an increasingly isolated Putin. That said, in the talks leading up to the G-20’s final message, China objected to calling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “war.” And the statement, while condemning the war, did acknowledge that “there were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions.” Still, China did sign off on the united declaration that “today’s era must not be of war.” A line, incidentally, that the People’s Daily left out when it reprinted the joint statement. 

A CHINESE THANKSGIVING 

by Isobel Cockerell

Chairman Mao’s eldest son has been trending on Weibo. It was his 100th birthday in October — and a massive state-led media campaign was launched to celebrate Mao Anying’s heroism. He was famously killed in an American air strike fighting for North Korea in the Korean War. But one story about his death that does not find mention in the official tributes is the urban legend that he died because he was illegally cooking egg fried rice. The smoke apparently alerted the enemy. 

Some people quietly call November 25, the anniversary of Anying’s untimely death, “Chinese Thanksgiving.” Others make egg fried rice to celebrate the occasion as a subversive act of protest. “Mao Anying + Egg Fried Rice” is a censored search term in China. 

Last year, Global Times branded the egg fried rice story an example of “historical nihilism” and declared it a vicious rumor. A Sichuanese viral YouTube chef posted a Yangzhou-style fried rice video around the time of Anying’s birthday and was accused of “humiliating China.” But “I was only sharing delicious food,” the chef wrote. “I didn’t mean anything else by it.” In the name of journalism, we’ve tried his recipe ourselves — and can confirm it’s very tasty.

WHAT WE ARE READING:

  • This fascinating dispatch from the Maga “Reawaken America” tour. The writer describes “the movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation” which is “driven by a prophetic certainty that God is commanding them to establish a militant Christian theocracy in the United States.” The movement “is no longer confined to the fringes of American religious and political life.” The tour, he notes, “has already visited 16 US cities, drawing sold-out crowds at every stop, with regularly priced tickets ranging between $250 and $500.” 
  • This excellent twitter thread from Marc Owen Jones, one of our go-to disinformation experts, about disinformation and the World Cup in Qatar.
  • This piece in the Wired magazine about how disinformation researchers who have spent years asking Twitter to remove toxic and fake posts have no one to talk to.
  • This very interesting piece from Meduza about Evgeny Prigozhin, the founder of Russia’s paramilitary Wagner Group, who has recently been speaking out against the Russian elite. Meduza’s reporting suggests that this is part of his covert bid for power in Putin’s increasingly unstable Russia and that he is drawing lessons and inspiration from the jailed Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner Alexey Navalny. 

Disinfo Matters looks beyond fake news to examine how the manipulation of narratives and rewriting of history is reshaping our world.

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