The president refuses to listen to the recording of the murder of the journalist Khashoggi and gives credibility to Mohamed bin Salmán against his own intelligence services
President Donald Trump finds no reason to listen to the recording of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi , a resident of the United States and a collaborator of The Washington Post , provided by the Government of Turkey. Trump, in an interview broadcast on Fox News on Sunday, says the audio recording will not affect his response to the murder of Khashoggi, a critic of the Riyadh regime, on October 2 at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.
“It’s a painful tape, it’s a terrible tape. I have been fully informed about it, there is no reason for me to hear it. I know everything that happened on the tape without having to listen to it, “said the president of the United States, on a recording that constitutes one of the main tests in the case.
The US government is preparing to publish a “full report” on the murder, confirmed the president, this Tuesday. The CIA has already concluded that the Saudi Crown Prince and strong man of the regime, Mohamed bin Salman, ordered Khashoggi’s murder, according to the Washington Post on Friday . But Trump, in his interview, insisted on giving credibility to the prince, who allegedly denied any involvement in the murder in telephone conversations with Trump. “Well, he told me he had nothing to do with it. I would say he told me maybe five times at different times, “Trump explained.
The president, who described Saudi Arabia as a “truly spectacular ally” this weekend, said he will wait for the full report of his government to be published before assigning responsibilities. But he hinted that this will not change his mind, insinuating that it will be difficult to prove conclusively who was behind the murder. “Will anyone really know?” He asked in the interview.
The attitude of Trump puts him before a new mismatch with his own intelligence services . And it shows the crossroads in which the president finds himself, in the face of pressure to punish the Saudi regime, without eroding his main alliance in the Middle East. The Saudi prince, 33, with whom the son-in-law and adviser to the president, Jared Kushner, maintains a close relationship, is key in Trump’s strategy in the region, both in the relationship with Iran and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, besides a valuable buyer of armament.
His defense of Mohamed bin Salman recalls his position against Vladimir Putin, which Trump says has always denied any involvement in Russian interference in the 2016 US elections, which led the Republican to the White House. In doing so, it gives more credit to the Russian president’s word than to the investigations of his own intelligence services.
In the case of Khashoggi’s murder, the CIA’s findings put the Saudi regime in a delicate position, which has tried to dissociate Bin Salman from the crime despite the Turkish government’s accusations. Riad has changed her version several times of what happened since Khashoggi entered the diplomatic legation of Istanbul to perform some paperwork related to her future marriage with a Turkish woman and did not come out alive. First, the Saudi regime argued that Khashoggi had left the consulate by his own feet; later, that the journalist died in a fight on the premises. Finally, the Saudi government blamed agents who would have acted freely , accusing 11 people, five of whom face the death penalty.
The CIA, meanwhile, ensures that 15 Saudi agents traveled to Istanbul in a government plane and murdered the journalist, by order of the Crown Prince himself, as he oversees all affairs of the kingdom. “The accepted position is that there is no way for this to happen without him being aware of it or being involved,” said an Administration source quoted by the Post .
Faced with the enthusiasm of the White House with Bin Salman, the CIA has always seemed to have as a favorite to succeed King Salmán to Mohamed bin Nayef. Minister of the Interior until the appointment of his cousin Bin Salmán as heir, Bin Nayef gained the confidence of the CIA for his collaboration in the fight against terrorism.
The accusation of the CIA, publicly endorsed by US lawmakers of one and another sign, makes it very difficult for the Trump Administration to maintain its good relationship with Riyadh. Last week, the Treasury Department sanctioned 17 Saudi officials whom it accuses of being implicated in the crime. The crown prince is not among them. “We have an ally and I want to be on the side of an ally that in many ways has been very good,” Trump said in the interview.