Saudis Acknowledge Jamal Khashoggi Is Dead, Offer Utterly Ridiculous Explanation

The Saudi Arabian Government is finally acknowledging that Jamal Khashoggi is dead. Their explanation for his death, though, is too absurd to be believed.

After weeks of denials that included maintaining, contrary to all the available evidence, that nothing untoward had happened to him while he was at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has finally acknowledged that Jamal Khashoggi is dead, but the explanation they offer for his death is ridiculously implausible:

BEIRUT, Lebanon — After two weeks of shifting stories, Saudi Arabia said Saturday that its agents strangled Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident journalist, during a fistfight inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and that 18 men had been arrested in the case.

Those arrested included 15 men who were sent to confront Mr. Khashoggi, plus one driver and two consular staff members, a Saudi official said.

Saudi state media reported that Saud al-Qahtani, a close aide to the crown prince, had been dismissed, along with Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, the deputy director of Saudi intelligence, and other high-ranking intelligence officials. The Saudi official said General Assiri had organized the operation and that Mr. Qahtani had known about it and contributed to an aggressive environment that allowed it to escalate.

President Trump on Friday night said that Saudi Arabia’s statements were credible and that, along with its announcement of arrests, amounted to “good first steps.”

Mr. Trump, who has built strong ties with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, said that he would consider “some form of sanction” in response, but that he “would prefer we don’t use as retribution” the cancellation of $110 billion worth of arms sales to the Saudis.

But Representative Adam Schiff of California was not buying the Saudi explanation. Mr. Schiff, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview Friday night that “if Khashoggi was fighting inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, he was fighting for his life with people sent to capture or kill him.”

Mr. Schiff, who said he had received a detailed, classified briefing earlier in the day on what American spy services believe were the circumstances, said that the Saudi version “was not credible.” He said he could not disclose what the intelligence agency briefers told him.

Since Mr. Khashoggi disappeared after entering the consulate on Oct. 2, Saudi Arabia has offered various, changing explanations for his disappearance, all of which seemed to distance top leadership from responsibility.

The Saudis initially claimed that Mr. Khashoggi had left the consulate alive and professed to be worried about his fate, later hinting that the killing might have been the act of rogue agents.

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 Saudi agents who flew in specifically to kill him.

The case has battered the international reputation of the kingdom and the 33-year-old Prince Mohammed, 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.

For the first time on Saturday, a Saudi official familiar with the government’s handling of the situation put forward the kingdom’s narrative of the events that led to Mr. Khashoggi’s death.

The kingdom had a general order to return dissidents living abroad, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing. When the consulate in Istanbul reported that Mr. Khashoggi would be coming on Oct. 2 to pick up a document needed for his coming marriage, General Assiri dispatched a 15-man team to confront him.

The team included Maher Abdulaziz Mutrib, a security officer identified by The New York Times this week as a frequent member of the crown prince’s security detail during foreign trips, the official said. Mr. Mutrib had been chosen because he had worked with Mr. Khashoggi a decade ago in the Saudi Embassy in London and knew him personally.

But the order to return Mr. Khashoggi to the kingdom was misinterpreted as it made its way down the chain of command, the Saudi official said, and a confrontation ensued when Mr. Khashoggi saw the men. He tried to flee, the men stopped him, punches were thrown, Mr. Khashoggi screamed and one of the men put him in a chokehold, strangling him to death, the official said.

“The interaction in the room didn’t last very long at all,” the official said.

The team then gave the body to a local collaborator to dispose of, meaning that the Saudis do not know where it ended up, the official said.

All 15 members of the team had been identified by name by the Turks, and Turkish newspapers had published their photographs. The New York Times established that most of them were employed by the Saudi military or security services and that at least four had traveled with the crown prince as part of his security detail.

The Turks had said the body had been disassembled with a bone saw by an autopsy specialist flown in specifically for that purpose and probably carried out of the consulate in large suitcases.

Turkish investigators were searching a park and a forest this week for traces of Mr. Khashoggi’s remains but did not announce their findings.

The reports of Mr. Khashoggi’s killing have shaken members of the Saudi royal family, many of whom were angry about Crown Prince Mohammed’s swift rise over the past three years. Some wondered if the scandal could lead his father, King Salman, to replace him with another prince not tarnished by the case.

But instead, the king named Crown Prince Mohammed as head of a committee to restructure the kingdom’s intelligence agency.

People with knowledge of the Saudi plans had told The Times on Thursday that the kingdom was planning to blame the operation on General Assiri, the deputy intelligence director. The people said the kingdom would portray the operation as carried out by rogue actors who did not have orders from the top and who had set out to interrogate and kidnap Mr. Khashoggi but ended up killing him, perhaps accidentally.

The dismissal of Mr. Qahtani, considered a close aide to Crown Prince Mohammed, stood out because he is plays no public role in security or intelligence. He is in charge of media and communications for the crown prince, and often leads aggressive online attacks against critics of the kingdom.

The Saudi official said Mr. Qahtani had been fired because he had known about the operation and had contributed to an aggressive environment that allowed it to turn violent. While dismissed as an adviser to the royal court, Mr. Qahtani kept his job as head of a cybersecurity organization.

(…)

Jon B. Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the Saudis will have to provide more information — which may or may not comport with the intelligence that Turkey and the United States have gathered over the past two weeks.

“This has to be the beginning of a multiday effort that is long overdue,” Mr. Alterman said.

The Saudi statement, for example, offered no explanation for why Mr. Khashoggi would enter into an altercation with multiple foes in territory he knew to be dangerous. Mr. Khashoggi was regarded as low key and even-tempered by those who knew him. He felt nervous enough about his safety entering the consulate that he told his fiancée to wait outside with instructions to call the Turkish authorities if he did not come out.

Whether the United States or Turkey is willing to dispute or contradict the Saudi explanation is far from clear. The Saudi narrative seemed to dodge the question of whether the men had been acting at the direction of top officials, as well as the question of where Mr. Khashoggi’s body was.

More from The Washington Post:

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The Saudi government acknowledged early Saturday that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, saying he died during a fistfight, but the new account may do little to ease international demands for the kingdom to be held accountable.

The announcement, which came in a tweet from the Saudi Foreign Ministry, said that an initial investigation by the government’s general prosecutor found that the Saudi journalist had been in discussions with people inside the consulate when a quarrel broke out and escalated to a fatal fistfight.

The Saudi government said it fired five top officials and arrested 18 other Saudis as a result of the initial investigation. Those fired included Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri.

he announcement marks the first time that Saudi officials have acknowledged that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate. Ever since he disappeared on Oct. 2 while visiting the mission, Saudi officials have repeatedly said that he left the consulate alive and that they had no information on his whereabouts or fate. He had gone to the consulate to obtain a document he needed for his upcoming marriage.

The Saudi statement comes as the kingdom is facing unprecedented political and economic pressure to disclose what happened to Khashoggi, a critic of the government and a contributing columnist to The Washington Post. But it is unclear whether the Saudi explanation — which clashes with details provided by Turkish investigators and makes no mention of the crown prince — will be enough to satisfy foreign leaders, global business executives and U.S. lawmakers pressing for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Turkish investigators had concluded days ago that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a Saudi team dispatched to Istanbul. U.S. officials have said that Turkey has audio and video recordings providing evidence that the journalist was interrogated and killed inside the consulate and his body cut into several pieces.

CIA officials have listened to an audio recording that Turkish officials say proves the journalist was killed and dismembered by the Saudi team, according to people familiar with the matter. If verified, the recording would make it difficult for the White House to accept the Saudi version that Khashoggi’s death was effectively an accident. ​

Nor has Khashoggi’s body been recovered, and the Saudi statement did not address what happened to it.

President Trump said the arrests were a “great first step” but that he wanted to talk further to the Saudis about the investigation. He added that if Congress wanted to press for sanctions against the Saudis because of the killing, he would prefer they didn’t affect arms sales.

According to a list confirmed by Turkish officials, 15 Saudis flew to Istanbul on the morning of Oct. 2, participated in an operation that left Khashoggi dead and then quickly left the country. At least 12 members of that team are connected to Saudi security services, and several have links to Mohammed himself, according to a review of passport records, social media, local media reports and other material.

Those personal connections and U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing a plan to lure Khashoggi home have contributed to a growing suspicion that the crown prince was personally linked to the incident. But the Saudi statement did not implicate him in the killing.
The preliminary investigation conducted by the prosecutor found that the “suspects” traveled to Istanbul to meet with Khashoggi as he had expressed an interest in returning to Saudi Arabia, the official news agency said. Discussions that took place “developed in a negative way” and “led to a fight and a quarrel between some of them and the citizen,” it said. “The brawl aggravated to lead to his death and their attempt to conceal and cover what happened,” it said.

Investigations are continuing with the 18 detainees, it said, without naming them.

“The Kingdom expresses its deep regret at the painful developments that have taken place and stresses the commitment of the authorities in the Kingdom to bring the facts to the public,” the statement said.

(…)

The official Saudi statement said King Salman had ordered the creation of a commission to review and “modernize” the kingdom’s intelligence operations and report back within a month. The king tapped the crown prince to chair the ministerial commission, which will also include the interior minister, foreign minister, heads of general intelligence and state security, and others.

Robert Lacey, a British historian and author who has written extensively about the Saudi royal family, said the decision to place Mohammed in charge of the official review of the Saudi intelligence apparatus would create problems.

“The West will just not accept the idea that the dossier for investigating this has been given to the man who, in the eyes of the world, is the chief suspect,” Lacey said. He added that the government’s response would deepen the crown prince’s credibility problems and possibly affect his chances of succeeding his father as king

“The crown prince has got a big credibility problem now, and for decades to come,” Lacey said. “Fairly or not, I cannot see how any democratic leader in the West will want to be photographed shaking hands with this man.”

This acknowledgment comes eighteen days after Khashoggi entered the consulate shortly after 1:00 p.m. local time to obtain a document he needed in order to be able to marry his Turkish-born fiance. Khashoggi had been to the consulate the week before but was told to return on October 2nd in order to obtain the document he needed. On the same day that Khashoggi was to return to the consulate, Turkish authorities have established two planes that had traveled different routes arrived from Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. These planes were transporting a team of fifteen Saudis and included people with links to the Saudi military and intelligence services, as well as several people who can be directly linked to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto day-to-day rules of the Kingdom headed by his father King Salman. Members of this team included a medical doctor who specialized in autopsies, intelligence officials specializing in interrogation, and members or veterans of the Saudi military. Among the items they brought with them was a bone saw capable of quickly carving up a human body for disposal. Documentation provided by the Turks has confirmed that the planes carrying this team of men arrived in the country in the morning of October 2nd, and left by the early evening with all persons on board. It is believed, but not confirmed, that Khashoggi’s body parts were contained in the luggage that the team took with them when they left.

Initially, of course, the Saudis denied that anything untoward had happened to Khashoggi while he was in the consulate. While acknowledging his arrival, the Saudi official story maintained for the past two weeks that he had arrived, conducted his business, and left the building despite the fact that there was no evidence to support this and despite the fact that his fiance was waiting for him outside the consulate building and obviously would have seen him if he left. When the Turks provide screenshots from police surveillance cameras showing Khashoggi entering the consulate and made clear there was no corresponding footage showing him leaving, many people demanded that the Saudis provide similar evidence from their own security cameras. In response, the Saudis offered the utterly ridiculous explanation that their security cameras only live-stream and do not record.

While the Saudi’s maintained this impossible to believe idea that nothing untoward had happened to Khashoggi inside the consulate, the evidence to the contrary continued to mount. Reports out of Turkey, for example, stated that the Turks had somehow obtained recorded evidence of the confrontation that led to Khashoggi’s death as well as conversations among the Saudi team members after he had died regarding disposal of his body. Additionally, as the identity of the members of the team that had arrived in Istanbul became clear, it was also apparent that many of these people had close ties to the Crown Prince, including several members of the Royal Guard, who are under the direct command of the bin Salman himself. Given this, the Turkish investigation, as well as intelligence being gathered by the United States and others put responsibility for the operation closer and closer to the Crown Prince. As a result, governments and businesses around the world began to cut ties to the Kingdom and pressure built for them to come clean on what had happened to the man who was once part of the Saudi elite but was later forced to flee to the United States when he became more and more critical of the government under the Crown Prince.

This report, of course, is not dissimilar to the reports that circulated earlier this week stating that the Saudis were in the process of putting together an explanation for Khashoggi’s disappearance and death that involved what President Trump referred to as “rogue killers” when speaking to reporters after having talked to Saudi King Salman. As I noted at the time, though, that explanation strains credulity, and the addition of the identity of an official close to the Crown Prince who allegedly acted outside the scope of his apparent authority is equally absurd based on everything we know about how things operate in Saudi Arabia and about the circumstances of Khashoggi’s death in particular. I stated the reasons why this is the case earlier this week:

First of all, the idea that any operation, whether it was originally intended to be an interrogation or a rendition (a/k/a kidnapping) back to Saudi Arabia, could have been pulled off inside of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul without the knowledge or approval of either King or the Crown Prince is quite simply too absurd to be believed. By all accounts, there is nothing that goes on with respect to the Saudi government that one or both of these men doesn’t know about or which they have not approved. This would seem to be especially true when it comes to an operation that would involve a trip to another country by fifteen members of a team that included representatives from both Saudi intelligence services and the Saudi military.

Second, the idea that the initial intention of the operation was to interrogate Khashoggi or to kidnap him and bring him back to Saudi Arabia for interrogation seems implausible given the fact that members of this team that traveled to Istanbul included a doctor who specialized in autopsies and that the team was reported to have brought a bone saw with it. Based on that, it seems clear that the idea that Khashoggi would not make it out of the consulate alive was at the front of the minds of those who planned and participated in the plot.

Finally, even if the Saudi claim that the original intention was to interrogate or kidnap Khashoggi is true, this is hardly a defense or excuse for murder whether it happened accidentally or not. Essentially, this explanation is asking the world to accept the fact that the Saudis “only” intended to kidnap and interrogate via torture a man who had done nothing wrong other than dissent from the policies of the government in Riyadh, that his death was an “accident,” and that they apparently responded to this accidental death by carrying his body back to Saudi Arabia in pieces in luggage that had been brought by the team that had arrived in Istanbul earlier in the day. Under most definitions, this would still qualify as murder, and the Saudis should not be permitted to get away with trying to brush it aside with such an utterly ridiculous claim.

Now that we have an official story from the Saudi’s, this applies even more, and the Saudi explanation is quite simply too absurd to be believed. As more than one person on social media has asked since the Saudis released this nonsense late in the afternoon U.S. time yesterday, the idea of a 59-year-old intellectual who wears glasses and simply wanted to pick up a document he needed to get married would get into a fight with fifteen members of a team sent to confront him is too ridiculous to be believed. It is admittedly possible, of course, that Khashoggi resisted when they attempted to detain him and he realized that he was not going to be permitted to leave the consulate under his own power, but that’s hardly the same as saying that what happened to him was some kind of unfortunate accident, which is essentially what the Saudis would have the world believe. The fact that a team flew from the KSA to Turkey to deal with Khashoggi, and the make up of that team, makes it clear that, from this start, this was a planned operation that would end either with Khashoggi being illegally abducted and taken back to Saudi Arabia or with his death. Neither outcome is acceptable and the Saudi explanation for what happened is, quite simply, laughably absurd.

In addition to the circumstances of Khashoggi’s death, the circumstances that led to it make it impossible to credibly believe that all of this happened without the knowledge or permission of the Crown Prince. As noted, several members of the team sent to Istanbul, as well as other officials who have been arrested by the Saudis in connection with this matter, are men who have been among the bin Salman’s closest and most  loyal advisers. The idea that these men would act without the authorization of their patron is utterly ridiculous. It’s possible, I suppose, that all of this unfolded with bin Salman uttering the Arabic version of “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” as King Henry II is said to have muttered about Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket, that hardly makes the Crown Prince less responsible for what happened. Whether he uttered the words “kill Jamal Khashoggi” or not, though, it seems clear that this operation would not and could not have been carried out without his knowledge and blessing. Any explanation that asks us to believe otherwise cannot be taken seriously without becoming an apologist for the Saudi regime.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. PJ says:

    The Saudis were doing yard work and had bought a new wood chipper, when he was leaving the Embassy Khashoggi sadly tripped on a rake and fell straight into the chipper.

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  2. CSK says:

    They can continue to come up with ludicrous excuses, but they’ll never be able to explain away the presence of an autopsy specialist equipped with a bone saw.

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  3. Kathy says:

    The conundrum for the world is how can you make the second largest oil producer a pariah state?

    Hint: there’s nothing difficult in making MBS a pariah. But the Saudis have to begin that process, or be persuaded to do so.

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  4. HarvardLaw92 says:

    One would think that, with all that money, they could afford a better quality of lie conjurer … 🙄

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  5. gVOR08 says:

    Turkey’s role is critical, and puzzling. Erdogan, after all, is hardly a patron of truth, justice, and the rule of law. POLITICO has an interesting article, What Turkey Hopes to Gain from Khashoggi’s Murder. Long story short, help with their upcoming debt crisis. This story revolves around three totally corrupt rulers: bin Salman, Erdogan, and Trump. Saudi money will flow to the other two parties, and they will brazen it out until the next few major crisis take Khashoggi’s murder out of the headlines.

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  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    It’s best to work out the cover story before you commit the crime.

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  7. Teve says:

    Richard Branson just suspended a billion-Amero deal with the saudis over this. Good to see some people have principles and aren’t deplorable.

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  8. James Pearce says:

    “The interaction in the room didn’t last very long at all,” the official said.

    Interaction? Interaction????? He was murdered!

    I’d estimate it would take about 2 minutes to choke him out, and another couple of minutes for him to die. (Was a garrote used? If so, revise estimates.)

    So yeah, not long…just longer than a “I’m here to pick up my marriage certificate” conversation.

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  9. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92: @Michael Reynolds:

    It may not have occurred to them they’d need a cover story. After all, it was their consulate.

    But still, it seems an unnecessarily showy way of dispatching an opponent. Why not go the Putin route and have Khashoggi “jump” out the window of a high rise, or eat something that disagreed with him, or die in a one vehicle auto crash?

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  10. rachel says:

    But the order to return Mr. Khashoggi to the kingdom was misinterpreted as it made its way down the chain of command, the Saudi official said, and a confrontation ensued when Mr. Khashoggi saw the men. He tried to flee, the men stopped him, punches were thrown, Mr. Khashoggi screamed and one of the men put him in a chokehold, strangling him to death, the official said.

    A pudgy middle-aged journalist put up such a struggle that a gang of fit younger men were forced to kill him. But they weren’t told to kill him. But they thought they had been told to kill him. Or they thought they had been told to… WTF is this vague BS?

    MbS & Crew should hire better fabulists.

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  11. Teve says:

    Ben Jacobs of The Guardian is a friend of mine, so when he was assaulted two years ago by a thug named Greg Gianforte, I was pretty pissed. This was not abated by the fact that the thug, Greg Gianforte, became Congressman Greg Gianforte anyway. So on Thursday night, just as the final consensus was solidifying around the fact that journalist Jamal Khashoggi had been tortured, murdered, and dismembered within the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey by members of the Saudi intelligence service and (probably) at the behest of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the president went to Montana and said this about the thug, Congressman Greg Gianforte, I got pissed all over again.

    “Any guy who can do a body slam, he’s my candidate, he’s my guy.”

    He is not the President* of the United States in any way that matters. If he were, he would not be standing by, lamely, while a resident of the United States, and a journalist, was brutally murdered in the embassy of an ally whose regime owes this country its very existence. (Gulf War I, remember? It was in all the papers.)

    In 1906, when an American oil executive named Ion Perdicaris and his stepson, were kidnapped and held for ransom in Morocco by a desert chieftain named Raisuli, President Theodore Roosevelt sent a portion of the Great White Fleet to Tangier and directed Secretary of State John Hay to send a famous telegram to the U.S. consul general in Morocco: “We want Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead.” This was imperialism in its grossest form, of course, but it was not nothing, which is what we’re getting right now from the putative leader of the Free World.

    -charlie pierce

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  12. Hal_10000 says:

    To be fair: we’ve gotten more of an admission and responsibility from Saudi Arabia than we’ve ever gotten from Russia for their various murders (gee, wonder why that might be). But to be really fair, I think the result of this is going to be that Saudi Arabia will try to do it a little less blatantly next time. Those five fired and 18 arrested aren’t being punished for the murder; they’re being punished for doing it in such a clownishly obvious manner.

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  13. Gustopher says:

    They really need better liars. They don’t even work in all the known details. No excuse without the bone saw is going to pass muster.

    How about this?

    I suppose we will never know why Khashoggi picked a fight with 15 men that were sent by the Saudi crown prince to discuss the sanctity of marriage, to make sure that he really understood the lifetime commitment that he was undertaking, and to offer him the congratulations of the entire Saudi royal family.

    A marriage is a blessed and wonderful event, if only because the prohibition of sex outside marriage is lifted. Five members of the team where there to provide comprehensive sex education — including a doctor skilled in anatomy, who was there to explain how pregnancy changes a woman’s body.

    It was meant to be a happy moment, and it was remarkable that a pudgy middle aged man would explode with rage and presented such a danger that they were forced to kill him. We suspect he was a werewolf.

    The bone saw that the delegation brought along was meant to be a wedding gift, and used to cut the cake. It is tragic that it had to be used to dismember his undead corpse in self defense.

    We will be doing a thorough investigation to see if any other Saudi dissidents are werewolves.

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  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @PJ: Even that’s more believable than the “fist fight” story. As I said on a previous post, the whole response is a big “in yo face mofo!” moment. Yeah, the stupidity of the whole story is about backing the world down about this act–particularly the US, in all likelihood. On the other side, there’s nothing to do about it. The Saudi government is for all practical purposes above the law on this type of matter–as are every other nation that kills dissidents given that we can’t punish those nations except by strangling their citizens via sanctions. If the US were to end up not completing the $100 million pending arms deal (and they probably should cancel it) are there really no other nations from whom the Saudis can buy the weapons (or arrange a multi-handed pass through that eventually ends in Riyadh)? Is the World Court going to swear out an arrest warrant on MbS? Is somebody going to be able to execute it? Will the UN overthrow the government of KSA about this? Sovereign immunity isn’t just an arcane legal concept, it is what reality looks like. Sorry.

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  15. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    On the other side, there’s nothing to do about it. The Saudi government is for all practical purposes above the law on this type of matter–as are every other nation that kills dissidents given that we can’t punish those nations except by strangling their citizens via sanctions.

    Not all sanctions have to be aimed at the country as a whole, or are going to hit the most vulnerable citizens.

    A travel ban, for instance, would hit those wealthy enough to travel — and mostly disrupt large businesses. It could be tailored to affect only those working for the Saudi government and its known contractors, if we wanted a less blunt instrument.

    We would want to coordinate with the EU for maximum effect.

    There are doubtless lots of other ideas. What refinery equipment do they buy from us?

    If the US were to end up not completing the $100 million pending arms deal (and they probably should cancel it) are there really no other nations from whom the Saudis can buy the weapons (or arrange a multi-handed pass through that eventually ends in Riyadh)?

    US weapons tend to be the best available weapons. China and Russia make decent weapons, but if the Saudis were to have to buy from one of those, they then have two incompatible weapon systems, and spare parts problems with the American weapons.

    It would cause significant pain.

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  16. gVOR08 says:

    One suspects that if enough Saudi money flows to Turkey the bone saw, and much of the rest of the details, will turn out to have been a misunderstanding.

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  17. An Interested Party says:

    In 1906, when an American oil executive named Ion Perdicaris and his stepson, were kidnapped and held for ransom in Morocco by a desert chieftain named Raisuli, President Theodore Roosevelt sent a portion of the Great White Fleet to Tangier and directed Secretary of State John Hay to send a famous telegram to the U.S. consul general in Morocco: “We want Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead.”

    And to think that this used to represent the Republican Party…they’ve strayed so far from this that TR wouldn’t even recognize them today…

    But to be really fair, I think the result of this is going to be that Saudi Arabia will try to do it a little less blatantly next time.

    With any other American president, they never would have done this in the first place…

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  18. Mister Bluster says:
  19. An Interested Party says:

    IDK… This is just a story a really can’t seem to make myself REALLY care about.

    Of course not, as his reaction to it reflects poorly on your crush…

    It’s not like this is the first Bad Thing the Saudis have ever done, and we’ve been ignoring this type of behavior for a LONG time. (Multiple presidents, multiple countries.)

    Hmm…have the Saudis ever assassinated an American resident before?

    Criticizing Trump here just seems completely opportunistic.

    Of course, any criticism of your crush is inappropriate…

    Now, if you want to have a larger discussion about putting human rights more at the forefront of foreign policy, that’s fine, but let’s not pretend that Trump is somehow unique here in overlooking bad behavior from nations that currently align with our overall interests. For now.

    No pretending needed…the Saudis wouldn’t have done something like this with any other American President…

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