Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Article excerpt

New York

Talk about high life this is not. I smelled a rat long ago, but then the scent got weaker and weaker. Now it's back -- and stronger than ever. I'm talking here, of course, about the Saudis, the Qataris and the son-in-law who has also risen, Jared Kushner.

Almost a year ago the Saudis issued an ultimatum to Qatar to meet its list of demands or face a blockade by Saudi-allied countries in the Gulf. All sorts of accusations were made and the Qataris were given 24 hours to comply. While the 300,000 Qatari citizens froze en masse, the couple of million non-Qatari migrant workers went about their business. In fact, they welcomed the crisis because it momentarily stopped them being mistreated and abused by Qatari locals, who were busy hiding under their beds. Twenty-four hours came and went and nothing happened. The blockade is still ongoing but the Qataris have found alternative sources of food and consumer goods. The country's TV network is still on-air and the only thing that has cramped its citizens' style is that they have to fly in their hookers and they cannot use Saudi limo services. So much for Saudi threats and resolve. Bullshit would be a far more appropriate word.

As with everything else in that One Thousand and One Nights world, it just doesn't seem to make much sense. The Saudis have been bogged down for three years fighting the Houthis in Yemen. All they have managed, with American help, is to starve thousands of children to death, help spread cholera, bomb weddings and funerals, and illustrate to the world that in an unlikely war between Monte Carlo and the Saudi 'kingdom', the former would be a hot favourite.

Uncle Sam, needless to say, is busy selling Qatar and Saudi Arabia more arms than the whole of Nato and the Russian Federation possess together. Only last June the good uncle sold Qatar F-15 fighters worth $12 billion and I hate to think how American- and British-made planes and missiles have devastated the poorest country in the Arab world and made it even poorer.

Enter the son-in-law. As everyone who has ever heard of Donald Trump knows, Kushner's family needs moolah badly. The Kushner firm owns tens of thousands of apartments in New Jersey and Maryland, but owes $1.4 billion, due early next year, for 666 Fifth Avenue, a (literally) white elephant that Jared bought ten years ago for the then unheard of price of $1.8 billion. (The white elephant is half-empty, its last facelift decades ago. …

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