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Riyadh shows its colors.

October 16, 2018

So far, the Turkish-Saudi-Khashoggi affair reads like a poorly written spy novel. First the Turks, certainly no friends of the Riyadh government,  accused the Saudis of deliberately killing and dismembering the Washington Post columnist, which King Salman denied, while Crown Prince  Mohammed bin Salman was noticeably following his father’s lead.

When it quickly  became obvious that the world had a bit of a problem with that, the Saudi monarch then threatened said world with $200 a barrel oil if they continued to make waves about a poorly hidden assassination.

The general reaction to that was something along the lines of “that would be a bad idea, bucko.”

Apparently the Turks do have something in the way of proof, because now the story is that he died “accidentally” while being interrogated.

Mr. Khashoggi had a history with the monarchy, and saying they were interrogating him would suggest that it wasn’t a happy one.

Assassination is a political tactic in many repressive regimes, and the Saudis are no different in that respect from Russia, North Korea or any of the others.

But seriously, how arrogant or stupid do you have to be to think that no one would notice if you whacked a guy right in your own embassy, knowing that there was no doubt that the man went in but never came out?

No one disputes the value of having the Saudi government on our side against Iran, but that doesn’t mean that even President Trump can easily smooth this over, assuming that the ruling faction of the Saudi royal family is indeed the faction that ordered what certainly seems to be a hit.

The Saudi political world is rife with warring factions within the royal family, but regardless of which faction is responsible, this incident is just too far over the line for the Western world to accept.

With Secretary Pompeo now in Riyadh, it remains to be seen whether King Salman can construct a better story than he has so far.

About the only thing that could get him off the hook now would be to produce a walking, talking, breathing Jamal Khashoggi and that seems highly unlikely to happen.

Short of that, the King may find himself in the unenviable position of sacrificing a member of his family to the court of public opinion, if not to a court of a more concrete nature.

From → op-ed

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