Trump remains a sucker for each new iteration of the Saudi cover-up

By | October 20, 2018

In an editorial, the New York Times says:

The question now is not whether the Saudis’ latest explanation for Jamal Khashoggi’s death is credible, but whom do they think they’re fooling. In the autocratic world of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, what common people think is irrelevant; what matters is whether throwing his hit men under the bus is enough to satisfy President Trump.

Mr. Trump has been longing for some way to hang on to his soul mate Prince Mohammed and lucrative Saudi arms deals from day one, and he seemed to breathe a sigh of relief over the story the Saudis concocted after more than two weeks of lies and evasions. It was a “good first step” and a “big step,” Mr. Trump said Friday night. Asked whether he found it credible, he replied, “I do.”

He is in a distinct minority. The Saudi story has been widely dismissed as a pathetic attempt to acknowledge what has become undeniable — that a band of 15 Saudi agents flew in to Istanbul on the day Mr. Khashoggi was expected at the Saudi consulate and killed him there. It also insulates Prince Mohammed, the wielder of real power in Saudi Arabia, from any responsibility.

In this narrative, there went out a general order to round up dissidents living abroad, but somehow it got garbled in transmission, so when the Saudis learned of Mr. Khashoggi’s plans, the deputy director of intelligence, Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, dispatched a team to pick him up. According to this version of the tale, Mr. Khashoggi put up a fight and got killed, and a local collaborator was given the body to dispose of, perhaps in pieces and in suitcases.

So now the 15 agents, plus a driver and two consular staff — essentially all the witnesses minus the consul-general, who returned to Saudi Arabia and has not been heard from since — have been arrested, while General Assiri and a close aide to the crown prince, Saud al-Qahtani, and a few other intelligence officials, have been fired. Misdeed acknowledged, culprits punished, crown prince cleared, Mr. Trump satisfied. [Continue reading…]

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