Saudi Crown Prince Hoisted on His Own Petard?
The world community knows what’s indisputable. Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s murder in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.
He may turn out to be his own worst enemy. More on this below. It doesn’t matter as long as world leaders value dirty business as usual with the kingdom over honor and high-mindedness.
It matters plenty if the CIA and/or UK MI6 want him replaced, believing he’s too untrustworthy and reckless to succeed his father as king. Their long knives eliminate figures they want out of the way.
MBS was heard on tape saying “silence Jamal Khashoggi as soon as possible.” According to an unnamed State Department official familiar with the CIA’s assessment, it’s “blindingly obvious” that MBS ordered Khashoggi’s murder, adding:
“There’s overwhelming consensus that the leadership is involved. No one is debating it within the government.” Trump, regime hardliners, and MBS loyalists continue going all-out to shield him, wanting lower-level convenient patsies blamed for what he ordered.
On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal reported that MBS “sent at least 11 messages to his closest adviser (Saud al-Qahtani, his media advisor), who oversaw the team that killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the hours before and after the journalist’s death in October, according to a highly classified CIA assessment,” adding:
In August 2017, he told other loyalists close to him that if he couldn’t persuade Khashoggi to return to Riyadh, “we could possibly lure him outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements” to eliminate him – what happened in Istanbul.
The plot to kill him was likely planned months in advance, details refined depending on how and where they could get him alone.
The Journal got access to CIA “electronic intercepts and other clandestine information,” it said – supplied by Langley, clearly part of its campaign against MBS, wanting someone they trust replacing him.
The agency concluded that he likely ordered Khashoggi’s murder, Trump fully briefed on its assessment.
Intercepted electronic messages were sent from MBS to Saud al-Qahtani, in charge of the 15-man hit squad sent to Istanbul.
Trump and regime hardliners stand by the crown prince. According to the Journal, congressional anger and damning CIA intelligence “may complicate Mr. Trump’s efforts to maintain (normal) relations with” MBS, adding:
“The judgment on (his) likely culpability, the CIA assessment says, is based on (his) personal focus on Mr. Khashoggi, his tight control over the Saudi operatives sent to Istanbul to kill him,” ‘and his authorizing some of the same operators to violently target other (regime) opponents.’ ”
Qahtani “led (MBS’) efforts to crack down on dissent internally and abroad…A CIA spokesman declined to comment on the report. A White House official said Friday the White House doesn’t comment on intelligence matters. Mr. Qahtani didn’t respond to a request for comment.”
The CIA’s assessment said the hit team sent to Istanbul included security officials close to MBS, Langley saying “(w)e assess it is highly unlikely this team of operators…carried out the operation without (his) authorization.”
Since 2015, MBS ordered Qahtani and the Center for Studies and Media Affairs at the Royal Court (CSMARC) he runs “to target his opponents domestically and abroad, sometimes violently.”
Five CSMARK operatives were involved in Khashoggi’s murder, according to Langley, involved as well in abusive treatment of other regime critics.
Dissent is verboten in the kingdom and other despotic states. Former Saudi insider/turned critic Khashoggi paid with his life like countless others Riyadh targeted for elimination.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”