OpEds: Deal Will Blame Khashoggi Death on Botched Interrogation




The coverup of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, killed on behalf of the Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman, proceeds apace. It is part of a deal between Turkey and Saudi Arabia under the aegis of the United States. The haggling over the details will take a while.(1)

The young MbS among family elders. He may have over-reached and lit too many matches in a room full of powder. Now the only quesiton is how to sort the mess, but things dont look too good for MBS, unless he agrees to sign over Saudi sovereignty entirely to the empire.

Several media report of the test ballon, floated to find out if an ‘alternative’ story will fly:

Saudi Arabia was preparing an alternative explanation of the fate of a dissident journalist on Monday, saying he died at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago in an interrogation gone wrong, according to a person familiar with the kingdom’s plans. In Washington, President Trump echoed the possibility that Jamal Khashoggi was the victim of “rogue killers.”

[O]n Monday, a person familiar with the Saudi government’s plans said that Mr. Khashoggi was mistakenly killed during an interrogation ordered by a Saudi intelligence official who was a friend of the crown prince. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Prince Mohammed had approved interrogating or even forcing Mr. Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia under duress.But, the person said, the Saudi intelligence official went too far in eagerly seeking to prove himself in secretive operations, then sought to cover up the botched job.

One might expand on that fairytale: “The Saudi general who allegedly botched the interrogation of Jamal Khashoggi mysteriously died in a Saudi air force plane crash on the same day the coverup story was floated.” But that would probably take it too far.

The floated story will of course not be believed. A forceful interrogation in a consulate going wrong is not plausible. One does not need to fly in 15 operators, including a specialist for autopsies, just to ask a few questions. The intent was either to kidnap the guy or to outright kill him.

The trial ballon seems to come from U.S. sources, not from the Saudis. Trump yesterday spoke of a ‘rogue element’ who may have caused the incident. U.S. intelligence services seem to believe that Khashoggi was indeed killed. The Wall Street Journal reports that Turkey provided its evidence:

The Turkish government has shared with U.S. officials what it describes as audio and video recordings purporting to show that Mr. Khashoggi was killed in the building, people familiar with the matter said.

The Trump administration will have to sell the story not only to the public, but also to the Turkish President Erdogan and to the Saudi King.

Both seem to prepare for a deal. After two weeks of denial that anything happened to Khashoggi the Saudis finally reacted:

King Salman ordered the Saudi public prosecutor to head a probe to determine responsibility for who was responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance, people familiar with the matter said Monday. Probe results could be announced within days, andlead to some Saudi individuals being held accountable for Mr. Khashoggi’s death, one of the people said.

The Turkish side is also preparing to accept the coverup:

On Monday Turkish investigators – who had been willing to talk for much of the past nine days – were now more cautious. So too were Turkish journalists, one of whom said that his outlet had been instructed to focus less on the apparent crime and more on the political settlement.

The Turkish President Erdogan may soon agree to a ‘political settlement’ but the price the Saudis will have to pay for that will be very high. Erdogan aims at nothing less than neo-ottoman leadership in the Arab world:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday said that Turkey was the only country that could lead the Muslim world.“Turkey, with its cultural wealth, accretion of history and geographical location, has hosted diverse faiths in peace for centuries, and is the only country that can lead the Muslim world,” he said in a meeting with religious officials.

The “Custodian of the two Holy Mosques” (in Mecca and Medina) is the official title of the Saudi king. It implies leadership within the Muslim word. Since Saladin the title was used by many Islamic rulers, including the Ottoman Sultans. Erdogan wants it back. His aspirations pose an open challenge to the Saudi rulers.

But when a deal has to be made, a deal will happen. Even it it takes some time.

Whatever the deal might be Jamal Khashoggi’s children will protest against it. They demand“an independent and impartial international commission to inquire into the circumstances of his death”. The Washington Post, where Khashoggi worked, and some Congress members will likely support them. But there is little chance that Trump or the Saudis will agree to any independent inquiry.

An open question is the future of clown prince Mohammad bin Salman. The ‘deep state’ wants him to leave. The uncontrollable guy – only a heartbeat away from becoming king – proved to be too dangerous to be allowed in such a position.

This detail is therefore intriguing:

The Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Khalid bin Salman, left Washington last week, returned to Riyadh and will not be returning, a current and a former American official said on Monday. It was not clear when he might be replaced, or by whom. Prince Khalid is the crown prince’s younger brother.

Did clown prince Mohammad bin Salman recall his brother because he feared that he plotted against him? Or did King Salman order him back to replace MbS as crown prince?

Mohammad bin Salman is already damaged goods. I find it unlikely that he will be allowed to stay in his position. Several high level U.S. congress people, including top Republicans,  want him to go. The CIA’s darling, Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz, will likely regain the crown prince position.

On Monday, while the cover up story was thought out, Turkish investigators were finally allowed to enter the Saudi consulate. Before they arrived a cleaning crew entered the building(vid) to prepare the presumed crime scene.

Trump sent Secretary of State Pompeo to facilitate negotiations between the Saudis and Turks. Ambassador James Jeffrey, the special representative for Syria engagement, is joining him in the endeavor. The Saudis finance the Kurdish proxy force the U.S. uses for its occupation of northeast Syria. One of Erdogan ‘s demands will be that any such support ends.

Trump is a businessman. The U.S. help for cleaning up the mess MbS caused will not come cheap. He will press the Saudis to sign more weapon deals. He will urge them to stick to random killing of Yemeni civilians.

In the view of the Washington establishment causing the famine of millions of dark skinned people is a lesser sin than touching a journalist and operative they perceive as one of their own.

Posted by b on October 16, 2018 at 06:28 AM | Permalink

(1) This confirms our assertion in a prior post that Pompeo’s trip to Ryadh is essentially not to seek information, as claimed by the media, but a “coordination job”, laying down the blueprint to follow as seen by the Washington elites.

Select Comments

If Recep Tayyip Erdogan really wants to head a new Caliphate – because that is what Turkey will be, if it becomes Custodian of Mecca and Medina – he had better be prepared to take on not only Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon, neither of which would welcome Turkish overlordship, but also Jordan and, er, Israel – the latter of the two also with its own plans for expansion in the Middle East. To be President / Sultan of the country occupying the Anatolian peninsula and also of a strip of territory along the Red Sea entails joining the two lands somehow, if they are to be adequately defended by Turkish forces.

And why would Erdogan necessarily stop at Mecca and Medina? Going all the way down to the Gulf of Aden, to capture the Red Sea shipping routes, would be the next step for a would-be neo-Ottoman conqueror.

Posted by: Jen | Oct 16, 2018 6:49:09 AM | 1

‘In Washington, President Trump echoed the possibility that Jamal Khashoggi was the victim of “rogue killers.”’

Ah yes, those “few bad apples” again! Where would governments be without them?

“Probe results could be announced within days, and lead to some Saudi individuals being held accountable for Mr. Khashoggi’s death, one of the people said”.

One of the nice things about being ruler of Saudi Arabia is that, when people are “held accountable”, you can have their heads cut off in short order. Then there is no risk at all of their blabbing the truth subsequently… “Dead men tell no tales”.

Posted by: Tom Welsh | Oct 16, 2018 7:30:21 AM | 2

Actually there are rumors saying that the Saudi report will include that the cause of Khashoggi’s death is due to a heart attack while he was interrogated by the Saudi security officers.

Posted by: sappho | Oct 16, 2018 7:38:01 AM | 3

@3 — assuming they kept the head intact it won’t be hard to sew it back on a similar enough ‘body of convenience’ for a public display and ‘royal’ autopsy etc.

Posted by: imo | Oct 16, 2018 7:44:54 AM | 4

This is hilarious. Yemen experiencing the worst famine in a century due to Saudi/US actions. Palestinians experiencing the worst apartheid since South Africa, Erdogan has about 60 journalists imprisoned or worse, US Presidents proclaim they can kill American citizens with drones without due process, etc

Yet we get excited over a guy who is supposedly killed (no evidence) that likely had something to do with or at least knew about Saudis complicity over 9/11.

Now I dont know much about MBS. I do know he kind of took over from MBN because Trump and Kushner endorsed him. MBS plans to reform Saudis economy and become less dependent on oil surely were not favored by the Deep State. Kushner and Trunp supported him mainly because he was willing to make nice with Israel.

Lost in all this is what Turkey is getting for their role and returning Brunson. Perhaps sanctions relief. Perhaps an agreement to move away from Russia and support US/Israel in Syria. Lets not forget Khashoggi was agitating on behalf of Palestinians so Israel may have supported this operation.

There are so many variables to this given the parties involved I dont know anything for sure except I am pretty sure whatever narrative we get sold involving Coincidence, Incompetence, Accident and Stupidity (CIA’’S favorite theory) is false.

Posted by: Pft | Oct 16, 2018 7:51:40 AM | 5

About the Author
“b” —said to be a German national—is Moon of Alabama’s editor in chief.

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