You know things have gotten bad when the NY Times fully admits in the headline that the Saudis are trial ballooning the naming of a Saudi intelligence official to take the fall for the state-sanctioned murder of Washington Post journalist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
The rulers of Saudi Arabia are considering blaming a top intelligence official close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, three people with knowledge of the Saudi plans said Thursday.
The plan to assign blame to Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, a high-ranking adviser to the crown prince, would be an extraordinary recognition of the magnitude of international backlash to hit the kingdom since the death of Mr. Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi dissident. A resident of Virginia and contributor to The Washington Post, Mr. Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
Blaming General Assiri could also provide a plausible explanation for the killing and help deflect blame from the crown prince, who American intelligence agencies are increasingly convinced was behind Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Turkish officials have said they possess evidence showing that 15 Saudi agents assassinated and dismembered Mr. Khashoggi in the consulate.
After two weeks of blanket denials and mounting pressure from Turkey and Washington, Saudi Arabia said it would conduct its own investigation to determine who was responsible.
But even with the investigation still ostensibly underway, the Saudis are already pointing to General Assiri as the culprit, according to the three people familiar with the Saudi plans. People close to the White House have already been briefed and given General Assiri’s name.
Whether that move will be enough to calm the international crisis and what it may mean for Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s day-to-day ruler, remain to be seen.
It's not going to be, not with coverage like this in full view. And let's not forget that four of the members of the team that allegedly killed Khashoggi are part of the Crown Prince's security detail. Of course, the real issue is why Trump is helping cover up the murder, and the answer is that his son-in-law Jared Kushner is neck deep in the mess.
Jared Kushner reportedly told President Donald Trump to stand by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — despite mounting evidence that the royal was involved in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi two weeks ago.
Kushner’s reasoning? International outrage over other incidents, like Saudi Arabia’s bombing of innocent children in Yemen and kidnapping of Lebanon’s prime minister, decreased with time. The scandal over the disappearance of Khashoggi, a US resident and Washington Post writer, would similarly go away, he argued.
Nice guy, huh. Again, Kushner is convinced that Trump can make this blow over. Why does he want that so badly?
To a certain extent, Kushner is correct — public attention did shift from the recent Yemen tragedy and Saad Hariri’s kidnapping, although they have since informed the realization that Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, is a reckless autocrat. But what’s notable here is that Kushner doesn’t want the US to respond to Khashoggi’s alleged murder in any way. He simply wants America to forget the incident ever happened.
That’s perhaps not so surprising. Kushner has cultivated a personal relationship with MBS while serving as senior White House adviser for Middle East affairs. He and the crown prince even text on WhatsApp, an encrypted messaging app. Because of his close ties to the Saudi royal, Kushner has purposely stayed out of the spotlight during the scandal.
But for MBS, the news is another reason to stay in close contact with Trump’s son-in-law. The royal once bragged that Kushner was “in his pocket,” and the New York Times story will likely only add to that perception.
Not a good look for either one of them. The other person who has a lot of exposure here to the Crown Prince is another Prince...in this case, our old merc friend, Erik, whose plans to privatize the Afghanistan permawar were sunk by the Afghans themselves right after Khashoggi's disappearance.
It's almost like they knew a man best known for running one of the biggest private merc outfits on earth had done something wrong that ended any hope of negotiations, when we later find out a team of Saudi mercs magically appeared in Turkey to mulch a journalist.
So no, Trump was never going to lay a finger on the Saudis over this, and they'll get the green light to murder more dissidents, because America is ruled by an autocrat.