Monday, October 8, 2018

The Dumbest Thing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman May Have Ever Done

Jamal Khashoggi
UPDATE below: Trump reacts

 As I have already reported, a Saudi journalist who was a Washington Post contributor, Jamal Khashoggi, went missing during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish government investigators now believe he was killed inside the consulate.

At the first report that he went missing, I immediately suspected this somehow involved Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and wrote:
This sure smells like the dirty work of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Khashoggi had been writing negative essays about the Saudi government and about the Crown Prince in particular.

In a column last fall in the Post, he wrote, for example, [The Saudi people were] “promised an embrace of social reform. . . .But all I see now is the recent wave of arrests,”

Khashoggi had been in self-imposed exile from Saudi Arabia for the past year after leaving the country under what he said was fear of arrest.

Salaman, known as MBS, who is considered violent, ruthless and a friend of Jared Kushner, was not happy with Khashoggi and his essays.

MBS has spent millions with U.S. public relations firms to polish his image as a reformer (While bombing Yemen into the stone age, you see, he has let women drive). Mainstream media has been spreading the positive profile pumped out in living color by the PR firms about this maniac, until now.

Killing a mainstream media contributor will change things.

The Trump Administration has been pushing the idea of a Middle East-type NATO, to be called   “Middle East Strategic Alliance.”

Here's what the Post says now about the Alliance in the wake of the likely murder of their contributor at the direction of MBS:
Confirmation of Saudi responsibility for Khashoggi’s disappearance could complicate efforts to get the alliance off the ground if Congress decides to punish Riyadh and public opinion in the United States demands a response.
A Post editorial today begins:
 THREE GOVERNMENTS now bear inescapable responsibility to act on the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, the renowned Saudi journalist and commentator for The Post, who vanished after entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul last Tuesday. For more than a year, Mr. Khashoggi called attention in his columns to the increasingly authoritarian behavior of the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. On Saturday, unnamed sources in Turkey said Turkish investigators believe that Mr. Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate.
If true, this is a horrific crime, the assassination of a journalist in his own country’s consulate on foreign soil — something without precedent in modern times... 
Amid the conflicting statements, an ominous timeline emerged in some of the accounts. Mr. Khashoggi went to the consulate Sept. 28 in a first attempt to take care of some routine paperwork and was told to come back the following week. Then 15 Saudi officials entered Istanbul, “specifically for the murder,” according to sources quoted by The Post’s Kareem Fahim. Mr. Khashoggi entered the consulate again last Tuesday and did not come out...
Saudi Arabia must immediately answer: Who were these 15 officials? What happened, precisely, inside the consulate? The contrived “visit” inside the consulate arranged for Reuters journalists on Saturday does not alleviate worry about Mr. Khashoggi’s fate. Nor does the record of recklessness built up by the Saudi regime under the crown prince, including waves of arrests of critics and dissenters, among them female activists who pushed for the right to drive; the extraordinary quasi-abduction of Lebanon’s prime minister; and the intemperate response to Canada’s justified criticism of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
This is a far cry from what the Post wrote about MBS in September 2017:
Women in Saudi Arabia will be permitted to drive in the kingdom for the first time, according to a royal decree issued in Riyadh on Tuesday that overturned one of the most widely criticized restrictions on human rights.
The change may be the most visible sign yet of a modernizing Saudi Arabia, with reforms implemented by the heir apparent to the Saudi throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman...Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Institute of Gulf Affairs, a group often critical of the Saudi leadership, said the decision "shows the stamp" of the crown prince.
The killing of a Washington Post contributor may be the dumbest thing MBS has done yet.


Via The Washington Post:

President Trump said Monday that he is “concerned” about missing columnist and Saudi government critic Jamal Khashoggi, although U.S. officials have not issued a public demand for answers from ally Saudi Arabia.

The president was asked about the case as he returned to the White House after a speech in Florida.

“I am concerned about it,” Trump said. “I don’t like hearing about it. Hopefully that will sort itself out. Right now nobody knows anything about it, but there’s some pretty bad stories going around. I do not like it.”


The Washington Post continues to pound. Just published:
If his death is confirmed, it would represent a new level of audacity in Saudi Arabia’s clampdown on dissent under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. While painting himself as a reformer, Mohammed has shown himself to be ruthless in confronting any challenge to his power, jailing activists and dissenters. 


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