Reports from the CIA link the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to the murder of the journalist.
The Saudi authorities have hidden for almost two months what really happened to the journalist murdered inside the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul, Jamal Khashoggi.
During that same time, the White House has tried to protect the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, who, according to the CIA, is linked to the crime.
After having denied any link to Khashoggi’s disappearance, Riyadh finally admitted participating in his death in what, for the Saudis themselves, said it happened during a failed operation carried out by “dishonest” agents.
Last week, the Saudi public prosecutor announced charges against 11 participants in the conspiracy against Khashoggi, five of whom could face the death penalty. The prosecutor, as well as other prominent Saudi officials, emphasized that the crown prince had nothing to do with the crime.
However, the prosecutor’s thesis was hit hard last weekend, when The Washington Post revealed that the CIA concluded that Mohammed himself ordered Khashoggi’s murder.
“The CIA investigation (leaked to the newspaper by highly trusted officials) is the most conclusive to date in which Mohammed is linked to the operation carried out against the journalist and, at the same time, complicates the efforts of the Trump administration to preserve his relationship with a close ally, “the newspaper reported.
“A team of 15 Saudi agents flew to Istanbul in a government plane in October and killed Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate, where he had gone to collect the documents he needed to finalize his marriage to a Turkish woman,” he said.
A European intelligence official told The Guardian newspaper that the CIA’s analysis is “very damaging to the official narrative of the kingdom.”
The CIA describes as unlikely the scenario where the operation would have taken place without the knowledge of MBS, as the Crown Prince is usually called.
The analysis of the audio recordings made from inside the consulate in Istanbul, as well as intercepted telephone calls to Saudi officials, including at least one between a member of the squadron and a close assistant of the Crown Prince, helped to shape the conclusion of the CIA.
In public, both the White House and the State Department have distanced themselves from the conclusion of the CIA. “Recent reports indicating that the United States government has reached a final conclusion are inaccurate,” said Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the State Department. “There remain many unanswered questions regarding Mr. Khashoggi’s murder. The Department of State will continue to search for all relevant facts. “
What the White House does not want to see
Earlier this week, White House national security adviser John Bolton insisted that the intelligence reports he had seen did not involve MBS.
When the reporters pressed Trump again on the issue, the president said he had “evaluated” little information and that his administration would leave its position by Tuesday.
As argued by journalists on The Washington Post’s editorial page, part of Trump’s reluctance may be due to his lack of congenital will to admit he was wrong, in this case, in making a big bet on his friend MBS as an unconditional ally of U.S.
“This is a situation in which everyone basically knows what happened,” said Trump’s adviser to the newspaper from anonymity, saying that, from the privacy, Trump also believes that the crown prince is behind the murder.
“For more than a month, Trump has struggled to balance his interest in maintaining strong relations with the Saudi government with increasing pressure in Congress and around the world to punish the Saudi regime,” my colleagues said.
The son-in-law, on stage
“Trump has told his aides that he wants Mohammed to remain in power and that he sees the Saudis as the best strategic control over Iran and as a vital source of oil.
Mohammed has a close relationship with Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and chief counselor, who helps direct the administration’s Middle East strategy, “officials told The Washington Post.
The right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also publicly defended the crown prince, as the Saudi shares Netanyahu’s vision of Iran and reportedly has great admiration for Israel’s economic success.
At Trump, both the Saudis and the Israelis have found a US leader eager to back his views on the Middle East.
Mohammed’s critics blame him for the ruinous war in Yemen and for the purge of rivals he is applying to the royal family and the Saudi business elite.
The death of Khashoggi, a resident of Virginia with many influential friends in Washington, has come to complicate the picture for the crown prince.
Trump’s evasive messages about the case gave the kingdom oxygen. Now, the CIA has leaked hard information. Same information that discredits Saudi Arabia. “The claims of this alleged investigation (of the CIA) is false,” Fatimah Baeshen, spokeswoman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, told The Washington Post.
Finally, on Tuesday, Trump decided to put an end to revealing that he does not know if the prince intervened in the crime. He said that the relationship with Riyadh will continue and of course, the arms contracts,