The Saudis are apparently going ahead with their...umm..."explanation" of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi's "unfortunate death" and Donald Trump shrugs and says he finds the tale credible.
Saudi Arabia said Saturday that Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist who disappeared more than two weeks ago, died after an argument and fistfight with unidentified men inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
Eighteen Saudi men have been arrested and are being investigated in the case, Saudi state-run media reported without identifying any of them.
State media also reported that Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, the deputy director of Saudi intelligence, and other high-ranking intelligence officials had been dismissed. They did not say whether the men’s firing had a connection to the Khashoggi case or whether they were being investigated for playing a role in it.
Saudi Arabia has offered various, changing explanations for Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance — initially claiming that he had left the consulate alive.
But international outrage mounted as Turkish officials leaked lurid details from their own investigation suggesting that he was murdered inside the consulate and dismembered by a team of 15 Saudi agents who flew in specifically to kill him.
The case has battered the international reputation of the kingdom and its 33-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who has sought to sell himself to the world as a young reformer shaking off his country’s conservative past. But suspicions that such a complicated foreign operation could not have been launched without at least his tacit approval have driven away many of his staunchest foreign supporters.
The Trump administration had built strong ties with Crown Prince Mohammed, seeing him as a strong partner in its ambitions to counter Iran, forge a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, and reconfigure the Middle East.
In a statement, the White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the United States “acknowledges” the announcement from Saudi Arabia “and that it has taken action against the suspects it has identified so far.”
“We will continue to closely follow the international investigations into the tragic incident and advocate for justice that is timely, transparent and in accordance with all due process,” the statement said.
So now we get to see if the Saudis get away with this.
Every indication of course is that they will. The EU won't do anything, Congress will eventually go supine, and the Saudis will spread some money around to lobby for forgiveness. By January things will be back to normal and it will be because "wise" King Salman has stepped in to "contain" his son.
So grave is the fallout from the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi that King Salman has felt compelled to intervene, five sources with links to the Saudi royal family said.
Last Thursday, Oct. 11, the king dispatched his most trusted aide, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, governor of Mecca, to Istanbul to try to defuse the crisis.
World leaders were demanding an explanation and concern was growing in parts of the royal court that the king’s son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to whom he has delegated vast powers, was struggling to contain the fallout, the sources said.
During Prince Khaled’s visit, Turkey and Saudi Arabia agreed to form a joint working group to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance. The king subsequently ordered the Saudi public prosecutor to open an inquiry based on its findings.
“The selection of Khaled, a senior royal with high status, is telling as he is the king’s personal adviser, his right hand man and has had very strong ties and a friendship with (Turkish President) Erdogan,” said a Saudi source with links to government circles.
And so everything will be back to normal.
Until the next journalist is killed.
But then, of course, that will be the new normal.