The relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia is a tricky one. The politics of the entanglement as it currently stands are very much at play, when you factor in the $100 billion arms sale between the two nations, as well as Saudi Arabia being the second largest source of imported crude oil to the United States.
For those interested, Canada is the number one importer of crude oil to the U.S., but somehow, Trump doesn’t mind crapping on their lawn.
The murder of Virginia resident and Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi has turned a white-hot spotlight on the U.S. – Saudi Arabia arrangement, and in particular, the Trump administration and the Saudi royal family.
Does anyone else find it a bit ethically “sketchy,” that after a 15 minute meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Saudi officials, Pompeo emerged to announce that the United States would be allowing Saudi Arabia to investigate the disappearance of Khashoggi from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul themselves?
It’s only slightly less sketchy than allowing the fox to investigate the missing chickens from the hen house, himself.
The New York Times is reporting that Saudi officials are considering laying the blame for Khashoggi’s murder at the feet of one of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s top intelligence officials.
The plan to assign blame to Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, a high-ranking adviser to the crown prince, would be an extraordinary recognition of the magnitude of international backlash to hit the kingdom since the death of Mr. Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi dissident. A resident of Virginia and contributor to The Washington Post, Mr. Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
Blaming General Assiri could also provide a plausible explanation for the killing and help deflect blame from the crown prince, who American intelligence agencies are increasingly convinced was behind Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Seriously, who thinks this guy would make such a move without the approval of the crown prince?
This guy had the juice to know when Khashoggi would be at the consulate. He arranged for the separate flights to bring 15 Saudi officials to Istanbul, including the doctor responsible for autopsies for the Saudi kingdom. He arranged the mass cleanup afterwards, and the flights back, with absolutely no input from the crown prince or the Saudi royal family.
It would appear to those looking that the only ones ready to jump on this cockamamie tale is the Trump White House.
President Trump, who has made the crown prince a pillar of his Middle East policy, has been equivocal, at times raising questions about Saudi Arabia’s culpability and resisting calls from Congress for sanctions.
Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East adviser, has been urging the president to stand by Prince Mohammed, according to a person close to the White House and a former official with knowledge of the discussions.Mr. Kushner has argued that the outrage over Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance and possible killing will pass, just as it did after other Saudi errors like the kidnapping of the prime minister of Lebanon and the killing of a busload of children in Yemen by a Saudi airstrike.
Sure, a United States resident was ambushed, dismembered while still alive, and basically erased, but folks will just forget.
Anyone who doesn’t think Trump or Kushner’s personal bottom lines are not playing into this have not been paying attention.
As for the Saudis, they appear to have their scapegoat plan all laid out.
General Assiri, who previously served as the spokesman for the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, is close enough to the crown prince to have easy access to his ear and has considerable authority to enlist lower ranking personnel in a mission.
The Saudi rulers are expected to say that General Assiri received verbal authorization from Prince Mohammed to capture Mr. Khashoggi for an interrogation in Saudi Arabia, but either misunderstood his instructions or overstepped that authorization and took the dissident’s life, according to two of the people familiar with the Saudi plans. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief journalists.
So is this supposed to give the crown prince clean hands?
It does not.
“The responsibility is with the de facto ruler, who is the crown prince,” argued Madawi al-Rasheed, a professor at the London School of Economics and a frequent critic of Prince Mohammed.
Four of the suspects Turkey has blamed for Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance belong to the security team that travels with Prince Mohammed. One of them, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, has been photographed or spotted near him during recent visits to at least five cities — Paris, Madrid, Houston, Boston and the New York headquarters of the United Nations.
He was also caught on security camera entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul hours before Khashoggi arrived.
So will General Assiri face punishment, if the Saudi government successfully pins the murder on him?
That’s hard to say.
Among other news of the day, a Turkish news agency reported early Thursday that one of the men who was part of the “kill squad,” Meshal Saad M Albostani, a lieutenant in the Saudi Royal Air Force, was killed in an auto crash in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
I’d say I believe it’s possible, but we’re being asked to believe far too many unbelievable things, as far as this case, so I’ll just say nothing.