Some 17 days after Saudi agents killed Saudi born journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey the Saudi government released a statement saying that he was dead. Their initial report was that he left the building on his own and they had no idea where he had disappeared to. Obviously those two statements cannot coexist in truth. Let’s explore.
The statement was released about 6pm Friday Washington time; 1am Saturday Riyadh time. That in itself is telling. From the American standpoint it is a typical Friday night news dump. Keep in mind that Friday is the holy day in Saudi Arabia so a 1am Saturday news release is equivalent to a 1am Monday morning news release in America. I am willing to bet that religious attendance is higher in Saudi Arabia than in the United States. How often are you awake and listening to the news at 1am on a Monday morning? I’ll leave further extrapolation to my readers.
The report says that after entering the consulate Khashoggi got into a fist fight, presumably with the 15 Saudi security agents who “just wanted to chat” and that he was killed in the confrontation. Khashoggi, who was a few days short of his 60th birthday when he was killed, was like most men his age in a sedentary occupation – a bit portly. Are we to believe he would enter a diplomatic facility in anticipation of picking up some documents he had been assured were ready and awaiting him only to suddenly decided to get into some super hero type fight with 15 young guys in good shape? That doesn’t sound too likely to me!
The Saudis also announced some demotions and arrests. Justice is not nearly as transparent in Saudi Arabia as it currently is in the United States. Sounds like some convenient scapegoats were found and I’m willing to bet that many of the “arrested” will just be transferred and kept out of the view of foreign journalists. Those that are punished will be punished for creating an international incident, not for the murder of a journalist.
The Turkish government (who I don’t have a lot of trust of either) has been leaking information to the press that Khashoggi was interrogated, tortured, killed and dismembered. This is another he said/ he said with two sources that are far from unimpeachable. However, the Turkish tale of events keeps getting borne out as facts emerge. Unless facts emerge to the contrary I have to believe the Turkish version of events is substantially if not completely true.
To me the most interesting Turkish allegation is that Khashoggi entered the consulate with his Apple watch set to record. If that is in fact the case, just how sloppy were the Saudi agents? I think that it is very likely the Turks had the Saudi consulate bugged and don’t want to compromise sources and methods.
The Saudis made a big show of allowing Turkish authorities to inspect the consulate. The initial Turkish inspection crew had so many restrictions on it as to make the effort border on useless. Before a more complete investigation was allowed a cleaning crew and then a painting crew was employed. I’ll let you connect those dots.
As part of the Saudi investigation of this matter King Salman has decreed that a commission be formed to restructure Saudi intelligence operations. He put Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) in charge. MBS is the real power in Saudi Arabia, several of the 15 agents have very close links to him and almost all Saudi observers believe that an operation of this magnitude could not have taken place without his approval. It is difficult to view the entire Saudi reaction as anything but a cover up.
The statement was basically the same trial balloon that Donald Trump floated for the Saudis on Monday. Why did it take until Friday to add the fist fight element? Are we really expected to believe that 15 Saudi agents flew in just to have a chat with Khashoggi?
Trump’s involvement is just another example of “Law and order” simply being a right wing dog whistle signaling the Republicans’ support of white supremacy. This isn’t something new under Trump. It started under Nixon and has been one of the pillars supporting the GOP ever since. The delay allowed the right wing to spread false rumors about Khashoggi being a terrorist.
The biggest question in my mind is why did the Saudis need to send 15 agents? Wouldn’t two or three suffice? Could they really be that incompetent?
Here is some free advice to all the despots and wanna be despots in the world: If you are going to be a liar – and I don’t see a viable alternative available to you – at least be a talented liar. Was this the best you could come up with in 17 days?
Notice: This article is being written on Saturday morning for Monday morning publication. Who knows what will transpire in that interim.
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