Sunday 21 October 2018

What people say about the Khashoggi affair


The Khashoggi affair will not end the US Saudi alliance but it does damage Donald Trump's foreign policy: alliance with a reforming Saudi leader and Israel to bring pressure on the Iranians hoping this leads to regime change in Iran, while cutting deals with Russia to bring peace to Syria. This enables him to overturn another Obama policy and, to my surprise, looks like it was bringing results in Syria. 

The long drawn out Khashoggi affair shows Donald Trump at his worst, continually making lame and risible excuses for the Saudis and Erdogan at his cleverest. He controls the story by leaking dribs and drabs and effectively is saying - we have more like this if you do not cut a deal with us. The discomfort of Neo-Cons and pro-Israeli journalists is delightfully funny too.

Here are some things that people said that are worth your time to read. 

Melanie Phillips repeats what she heard from her sources. This story sounds very
convincing to me.

“There was no kill order from Saudi Arabia. The planes that flew the squad into Turkey were owned by his friend, former Crown Prince Mohammed al Nayaf. Khashoggi would have been locked up and interrogated. They wanted to know who he had talked to and what he had revealed. They say some leaks from Qatar had his fingerprints all over them.
“So they set out to bring him back alive. The pathologist, a member of the inner circle, was there to ensure he remained sedated on the way back to Riyadh.”
But this, according to my source, was where disaster occurred. “The sedative gun malfunctioned and he suffocated from a massive overdose. He was 60 years old, he was overweight, his body couldn’t cope with it.”
This is the always brilliant Patrick Cockburn yesterday.
The White House evidently calculates that if it draws out the crisis by systematic delaying tactics, it will eventually disappear from the top of the news agenda. This is not a stupid strategy, but it may not work in present circumstances because the Saudi authorities are too inept – some would say too guilty – to produce a plausible cover story. The mystery of Khashoggi’s disappearance is too compelling for the media to abandon and give up the the chase for the culprits.
Above all, the anti-Trump portion of the US media and the Democrats smell political blood and sense that the Khashoggi affair is doing the sort of serious damage to the Trump presidency that never really happened with the Russian probe.

This is two years old:Jeffrey Goldberg 'The Obama Doctrine' - 2016. I always agreed with Obama's distancing himself to a degree from the Saudis and Israel.

He has also questioned, often harshly, the role that America’s Sunni Arab allies play in fomenting anti-American terrorism. He is clearly irritated that foreign-policy orthodoxy compels him to treat Saudi Arabia as an ally…
Obama’s patience with Saudi Arabia has always been limited. In his first foreign-policy commentary of note, that 2002 speech at the antiwar rally in Chicago, he said, “You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East—the Saudis and the Egyptians—stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality.” In the White House these days, one occasionally hears Obama’s National Security Council officials pointedly reminding visitors that the large majority of 9/11 hijackers were not Iranian, but Saudi—and Obama himself rails against Saudi Arabia’s state-sanctioned misogyny…

His frustration with the Saudis informs his analysis of Middle Eastern power.

Rod Liddle today in the Sunday Times:

Imagine my shock last week when I discovered that, far from being a forward-looking democracy, as I had hitherto believed, Saudi Arabia is actually run by a bunch of savages.
We are outraged by the apparent extrajudicial murder of a journalist, Jamal Kashoggi. But some 50 people were executed by the Saudis in the first four months of this year — including Ali al-Nimr, sentenced to crucifixion for having taken part in a demo when he was 17. I don’t recall anyone threatening sanctions over that. We all cheered when the country decided to allow women to drive cars. The female campaigners behind that change are in prison for treason.


  1. “Seventeen years before the psychotic Saudi hit squad traveled to Istanbul to dismember Khashoggi while he was still alive, another psychotic Saudi hit squad traveled to America to turn planes packed with passengers into bombs.”