After journalist vanishes, focus shifts to young prince’s ‘dark’ and bullying side

By | October 14, 2018

The Washington Post reports:

When he hosted last October’s glittering global investment conference in Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had the world at his fingertips. Thousands of investors, corporate chieftains and government leaders flocked to the kingdom to hear the charismatic young heir to the Saudi throne outline his plans for modernization of the reclusive kingdom, and to be invited along for the ride and the profits.

“Only dreamers are welcome to join,” Mohammed told his audience.

As a second conference approaches this month in Riyadh, Mohammed, 33, seems far less dashing. Over the past week, many who had planned to attend have abruptly canceled, scrambling to distance themselves from what they now see as a runaway train headed for disaster.

Their distress stems from the still-unfolding story of Jamal Khashoggi, the self-exiled Saudi journalist allegedly killed and gruesomely dismembered this month by Saudi agents inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, after he dared to publicly criticize the crown prince and his government.

To some of Mohammed’s foreign admirers, it is still inconceivable that the ebullient and charming prince — widely known by the initials MBS — could be responsible for such barbarity. The Trump White House has insisted it has reached no conclusions about what happened.

Some think that if the journalist ended up dead at the hands of Saudis (no body has been found, and Saudi Arabia denies any knowledge of his disappearance), it must have been a kidnapping gone wrong or a rogue operation. Mohammed, they say, has made too great effort courting the West, and is far too intelligent and aware of the potential fallout, to have ordered Khashoggi’s killing.

Still others, many of whom have spent time with the prince, say they would be shocked but not surprised. They describe a dark and bullying side of a young man in a hurry, one who has absolute power and does not tolerate dissent. [Continue reading…]

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