The questions been raised on the delayed admission of Saudi involvement in the killing of Saudi journalist living and working in US. The Saudi officials vehemently denied the killing in the consulate in Turkey for weeks. It is apparent that the admission came out to shift the responsibility from crown prince to two Saudi officials.
The killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has put the Saudi crown prince Muhammad bin Salman under media spot light. The Saudi government was trying to build his image as a reformer. He was promoted as the champion of women rights and the one who is spreading liberal values in conservative Saudi Arabia. He emerged as the strongest royal in the kingdom who launched wide spread anti-corruption campaign.
But the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey tarnished his image as international media point finger at him. There was immense pressure on the Saudi Arabia to clarify its position in this matter. The Saudi authorities kept silence on this issue and emphatically denied his killing.
But finally, the kingdom admits the killing of journalist in its consulate in Turkey. Now the Saudi authorities are trying to put the blame on some intelligence officials who did it at their own without the prior approval of the crown prince.
This admission after repeated denials is a conscious effort of the crown prince to shift the burden of this gruesome killing. Jamal Khashoggi was a fierce critique of crown prince and was writing regularly against his policies in Washington Post.
It is clear that this admission came after visit of US secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s visit to Saudi Arabia during the week. The Trump administration was and still under pressure from the political opponents, Congress and hostile media. It seems that this admission came out on the advice of Trump administration. In this way both Trump administration and Saudi crown prince wants to relieve this pressure.
This admission seems to be the joint work of US and Saudi Arabia to save the face of troubled crown prince. The overconfident crown prince thought that he will get away with this murder silently. This overconfident is the result of his unquestionable powerful position in Saudi Arabia. He enjoys complete impunity in the kingdom. That is why, the Saudi operatives dared to kill a well-known journalist in another country.
They even choose its own consulate in Turkey and invited him inside the consulate in a broad day light. The powerful people in Saudi Arabia who planned this killing thought that their alliance and close relationship with US and petro dollars will save them.
This killing has tarnished the image of the crown prince in the democratic and civilized world. The Trump administration will try its best to help cover up this gruesome and brutal murder. The kingdom sacked two top aides to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as well three intelligence officials and arrested 18 Saudi suspects, in what some analysts called a scapegoating to quell the global outrage over Khashoggi´s killing.
The Saudi authorities cooked up a story of brawl fist fight inside the Saudi consulate after denying his killing for 17 days. If this story is true then why the dead body was not handed over to Turkish authorities. Without producing his body, this story will not sell. The independent thinking people are not going to buy this story.
Saudi Arabia had previously roundly rejected allegations by Turkish officials that Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents who dismembered his body, insisting he had walked out of the consulate alive.
This whole episode has developed the crisis of credibility around young and ambitious crown prince known as MBS. The image of 33 years old crown prince has badly been tarnished and tainted. He might come out of this crisis without losing his powers and positions but his authority will be undermined in many capitals of the world.
The crown prince has amassed power to a level unseen by previous rulers after sidelining potential rivals, with only 82-year-old King Salman — the prince´s father — in a position to oust him.
But the king Salman issued a royal decree on Saturday to form a ministerial committee — headed by the crown prince — to revamp the kingdom´s intelligence services, indicating that he was keen for him to stay.
The unprecedented crisis apparently prompted the king — who appears to have handed over day-to-day affairs to MBS — to intervene, including handling a diplomatic outreach with Turkey and the United States.
The king also ordered the sacking of deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri and royal court media adviser Saud al-Qahtani, both part of Prince Mohammed´s inner circle. The decision to remove members of Mohammad bin Salman´s inner circle is designed to demonstrate real accountability in the process and distance the crown prince from the murder.
US President Donald Trump also appears to have thrown his weight behind the crown prince, swiftly endorsing Saudi Arabia´s explanation about the death of Khashoggi and calling it an “important first step”. The US congress not seems happy with this appeasing line of Trump administration and might ask further information and inquiry into that matter.
But casting doubt on the claim that Khashoggi was killed during a fist fight, the Washington Post reported on Saturday that the CIA had listened to audio recordings from Turkish officials that show he was brutally killed and dismembered by a team of Saudi agents.
Pro-government Turkish media have also repeatedly claimed that Khashoggi was tortured and decapitated by a Saudi hit squad.
One Saudi agent identified by Turkey was said to be a frequent companion of Prince Mohammed, three others were linked to his security detail and a fifth is a high-level forensic specialist, according to The New York Times.
On the other hand, Saudi authorities are trying to deny the involvement of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince in the specific operation that resulted in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul this month.
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25 August, 2019