Political Observation - Saudi Regime Admits Killing Jamal Khashoggi

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Political Observation - Saudi Regime Admits Killing Jamal Khashoggi

The Saudi regime has admitted killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi in its consulate in Turkey a few hours ago.  Saudi intelligence Deputy Head, Major General Ahmed Asiri, and Royal Advisor and one of the closest aides of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saud al-Qahtani, were both relieved of their duties soon after.  The Saudi regime announced that Jamal Khashoggi had been killed in a fight at the consulate and that eight suspects were still being investigated. 

US reaction to the Saudi regime’s admission was remarkable.  President Donald Trump said the admission was “a great first step” and that he trusted the investigations of the Saudi regime adding he would speak to the Saudi Crown Prince. These statements suggest that a scenario designed to exonerate the Saudi leadership, namely the King and his Crown Prince, is in the offing, and that a deal has been struck between the Saudi regime and the US administration who have not burnt its bridges and maintained its extensive ability to exert pressure on the House of Saud and serve its interests. 

The issue of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance had triggered an unprecedented worldwide reaction and although the man was not deemed a political opponent of the Saudi regime, the extensive political attention and media coverage of his case suggests that his disappearance had been plotted by the US administration with the aim of achieving several objectives on its agenda, especially now that it has been confirmed that the National Security Agency (NSA) was aware that Mohammed bin Salman had been plotting to kidnap and interrogate Jamal Khashoggi when he visited the consulate to acquire some legal documents to wed a Turkish woman.  And despite the NSA’s knowledge of this plot, it did not warn Jamal Khashoggi of the threat he would face if he visited the Saudi consulate. This was the trap that America had laid not only for Jamal Khashoggi but also, which is more significant, to Mohammed bin Salman himself.

Jamal Khashoggi’s importance lies in the fact that he was, as far as the Saudi crown prince was concerned, a black box since he worked as a media advisor to the former head of Saudi intelligence Turki al-Faisal and as editor-in-chief of the Saudi paper al-Watan for several years. Jamal Khashoggi’s profile rose when he left Saudi and settled in America where he became a columnist for the Washington Post.  However, what was most salient about Jamal Khashoggi’s relationships, according to certain sources, was his contacts with the staunchest opponent of Mohammed bin Salman, namely Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz, the remaining son of Abdul Aziz and the strongest contender to accede to the throne.

If Mohammed bin Salman’s motive to interrogate Jamal Khashoggi was to find out the secrets he had been harbouring and the depth of his relationship with Ahmed bin Abdul-Aziz and al-Walid bin Talal, America’s motives and aims however in implicating Mohammed bin Salman in Jamal Khashoggi’s killing is deemed as the straw that broke the back of the House of Saud’s reign.  Mohammed bin Salman did not only content himself with embroiling Saudi in the war on Yemen, besieging Qatar and antagonising the House of Saud together with tribal leaders and the business community, in addition to infuriating a sizeable number of people in the land of the two Holy Mosques due to his persistence in implementing vicious secularism imposed by force, but he also implicated himself personally in the crime of killing a journalist at a diplomatic site governed by international treaties. Now that these repeated mistakes have piled up, America has practically succeeded in weakening the authority of the House of Saud and pulled all pillars of support from under their feet, thus whetting the appetite of Mohammed bin Salman’s opponents, especially within the Saud clan, to jostle for power. 

All these issues could be viewed as a recipe for dividing Saudi, fragmenting her unity and generating a scenario of infighting that could end up with the rise of several frail governments in which the Saudi situation would be akin to that of Syria, Libya or Yemen. Now that America has placed Saudi under her feet, she will not be content with twisting Mohammed bin Salman’s arm to pay the Jizyah for his protection nor with generating all the preludes of infighting and division inside Saudi, but it will also seek to confiscate all the Saudi funds deposited in US banks, namely the huge funds Saudi gained from oil sales in the past few years and transferred to America. America may also confiscate the shares of the Saudi companies registered or operating in the US and in some European states headed by the UK.  Senator Bob Corker, the chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, corroborates this trend. He stated on 11 October 2018: “If it turns out to be what we all think it is today but don’t know, but what we all think it is today, there will have to be significant sanctions placed at the highest levels.” Donald Trump has recently announced that he would let Congress decide the steps to take towards Saudi if its implication were proven.  It seems that the scapegoats in the deal recently concluded between the US administration and the Saudi monarch and his crown prince are going to be the persons king Salman relieved of their duties in his latest decree, the most prominent of whom are Major General Ahmed Asiri and Saud al-Qahtani; and keeping the investigation ongoing means the crown prince will remain under constant threat, thus making him always ready to make painful sanctions and execute tough and embarrassing instructions.  Apart from blackmailing him, the price of keeping Mohammed bin Salman out of the Jamal Khashoggi issue could be to embroil him in fighting Iran, especially as the alliance between the Gulf States, Egypt and Jordan that America has been planning to establish under the guise of combating Iran will have come into being by then; apparently, America wants to abolish the Mullahs’ authority in Iran and prepare its fragmentation, especially in the wake of the recent disturbances among several minorities  such as the Arabs, Kurds and Baluch coupled with an austere standard of living aggravated by economic sanctions imposed after America’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal. Hence, Iran could find it hard to maintain stability and domestic cohesion if America were to engross her in a domestic strife and foreign conflicts under the guise of containing her meddling in the affairs of other regional countries.  

As for why Turkey was chosen as the location for the killing of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, there are two reasons: 

1 –Embolden Mohammed bin Salman to perpetrate his crime since Turkey was experiencing an economic downturn and its relations with the US were strained, and therefore it would neither dare to clash with the US, the protector of Mohammed bin Salman, nor anger Saudi lest the latter should retaliate and withdraw its investments amidst the Turkish economic crisis.

2 – Embarrass the Turkish government and engross it in a new file with domestic and international dimensions at a time when it needs to focus on sensitive files such as ensuring the success of the Sochi Agreement on Idlib, tackling the slide of the Turkish lira and confronting America’s U-turn on the Manbij agreement to evacuate Kurdish Units from there. Moreover, it seems that the Trump administration had sought from the Jamal Khashoggi issue to drive a wedge between Turkey and Saudi as it expected the Turkish government to expel the Saudi consul and the Saudi government to take a reciprocal action, thus triggering a diplomatic crisis that could have ended in ties being severed between the two countries, heralding the withdrawal of Saudi investments and causing loss of Turkish trade with Saudi.

However, it seems that Turkey had sensed the sensitivity of dealing with Saudi in response to Jamal Khashoggi’s killing leading it to refrain from expelling the Saudi consul, ambassador or the entire diplomatic mission.  Such a measure could lead to a breakdown in diplomatic relations between the two countries and a severance of economic ties.  This is exactly what America has been seeking since the fallout would be detrimental to the Turkish economy. Hence the Turkish government assigned the Jamal Khashoggi case to the Chief Public Prosecutor to keep the investigation and its executive measures within the confines of the consulate or the ambassador’s residence and within a purely legal framework related to revealing the circumstances surrounding the murder irrespective of the scene of the crime. By following this approach, the Turkish government has maintained its diplomatic and economic ties with Saudi and dodged further pressure from the Trump administration.

Finally, the killing of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul represents yet another blunder the naïve prince Mohammed bin Salman has committed and yet another trap in which he has been ensnared. His craving for acceding the Saudi throne has blurred his vision and acumen, preventing him from seeing the precipice towards which the country is heading.  The throne that America had promised Mohammed bin Salman is now even further away than ever before despite having got rid of his rivals within the Saudi clan, especially Mutaib bin Abdullah, Mohammed bin Naïf and Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz.

Mohammed bin Salman’s grovelling behind  America’s promises, especially after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, is “ like when Satan says unto man, deny the truth; but as soon as he denied the truth, Satan says: behold, I am not responsible for you; I fear Allah the Sustainer of the universe.”  [59-16]

11 Safar 1440
20 October 2018