Turkey gives recordings on Khashoggi’s death to Saudis, US, Britain

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Turkey gives recordings on Khashoggi’s death to Saudis, US, Britain — Erdogan

Istanbul, Turkey (CNN) Recordings related to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death have been passed on to Saudi Arabia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday.

Khashoggi was killed after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain paperwork for his marriage.
Speaking before his departure to Paris for World War I commemorations, Erdogan said: “We passed on the recordings. We gave them to Saudi Arabia, to America, to the Germans, French and the English — we gave them all.”
He did not elaborate on what was on the recordings.
Erdogan said the killer, or killers, would be known to the 18 suspects identified by Turkish authorities — including 15 men who arrived from Saudi Arabia shortly before Khashoggi’s death.
He again called on Saudi Arabia to provide answers as to what happened to Khashoggi and his body, which has not yet been found.
Erdogan has previously demanded that Saudi Arabia hand over the 18 suspects for prosecution in Turkey but the kingdom has insisted that those responsible for Khashoggi’s death will be tried in Saudi Arabia.
The Turkish chief prosecutor said 10 days ago that Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi consulate, as part of a premeditated plan, and his body dismembered.
Sons of slain Saudi journalist speak to CNN

Erdogan’s confirmation that recordings relating to Khashoggi’s death have been handed to key international players is the latest in a drip-feed of details released by Turkey in the weeks since the journalist disappeared.
Revelations from the Turkish side have helped to keep up diplomatic pressure on Saudi Arabia to explain what happened.
US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron both want to get “greater detail” about the events surrounding Khashoggi’s killing, a French presidential spokesman said following a meeting between the pair Saturday in Paris.
Both leaders agreed “something very serious happened — that this assassination was serious and unacceptable,” the spokesman said at a briefing on the bilateral talks.
However, neither leader wants to do anything that could destabilize Saudi Arabia, the spokesman said, adding that the United States considered Saudi Arabia to be the “cornerstone of everything in the Middle East.”
The leaders did not discuss what should happen to the culprits, the spokesman noted, describing it as an “internal Saudi matter.”
The Saudis have presented shifting stories about the journalist’s fate, initially denying any knowledge before arguing that a group of rogue operators, many of whom belong to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s inner circle, were responsible for Khashoggi’s death.
The Saudi attorney general then said the Turkish side had provided information indicating that the killing was premeditated. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister and Energy Minister have both described Khashoggi’s death as “murder.”
Riyadh has maintained that neither bin Salman nor his father, King Salman, knew of the operation to target Khashoggi. US officials have said such a mission — including the 15 men sent from Riyadh — could not have been carried out without the authorization of bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler.
After Saudi Arabia admitted that Khashoggi was killed in its Istanbul consulate, five high-ranking officials were dismissed, including bin Salman’s media chief and the deputy head of the Saudi intelligence service. Eighteen people were arrested.

Saudi Crown Prince MBS: A Partner We (No One) Can’t Depend On

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

A Partner We Can’t Depend On

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia long ago revealed his true character in impulsive and vicious actions.

Susan E. Rice

By Susan E. Rice

Ms. Rice was the national security adviser during President Barack Obama’s second term.

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A Yemeni child at the graves of schoolboys who were killed when their bus was hit by a Saudi-led coalition air strike in August. Credit  France Press — Getty Images

The crisis in United States-Saudi relations precipitated by the brazen murder of Jamal Khashoggi raises a critical question that the Trump administration plainly wants to avoid: Can the United States continue to cooperate with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman? The young prince’s almost certain culpability in Mr. Khashoggi’s killing underscores his extreme recklessness and immorality, while exposing him as a dangerous and unreliable partner for the United States.

No astute observer should be surprised to discover that Prince Mohammed is capable of such action. Yes, we may be shocked by how heinous Mr. Khashoggi’s murder was, and by how blatant the many lies told by the Saudis have been. Of course, many Americans, from Silicon Valley to the editorial pages of our leading papers, were snowed by the crown prince’s promises of reform and the deft marketing of his leadership. But, for those willing to see past his charm offensive, Prince Mohammed had already revealed his true character through numerous impulsive and vicious actions.

The deadliest exhibit is the war in Yemen, which has cost tens of thousands of lives and killed countless civilians, including children, because the Saudis arrogantly refuse to employ responsible targeting techniques. It has been a Prince Mohammed operation from the start.

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen shares direct responsibility, along with the Houthi rebels and Iran, for the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, while the United States has continued shamelessly to provide support to their bloody war. Although the Obama administration initiated support to the coalition to help defend Saudi territory from Houthi incursions, it finally moved to curtail arms sales when the aims of the war expanded and the constraints we tried to impose were flouted.

At home, the crown prince has locked up civil society activists. He imprisoned for months hundreds of members of the royal family and other influential people in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton and demanded they surrender huge sums of money and valuable assets in exchange for release. He has forced out rivals and close relatives, including former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. And, as the Khashoggi case suggests, he has undertaken a global purge of Saudi dissidents wherever they reside.

The crown prince kidnapped the Lebanese prime minister and denied it. He imposed a spiteful, full-blown blockade on neighboring Qatar, another important American partner, and has sought to goad the United States into conflict with Iran. Stung by two mildly critical tweets by the Canadian foreign minister, Prince Mohammed abruptly downgraded diplomatic ties with Ottawa, yanked 7,000 Saudi students out of Canadian universities and limited transport and trade links.

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Credit Giuseppe Cacace/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As this litany of lunacy shows, Prince Mohammed is not and can no longer be viewed as a reliable or rational partner of the United States and our allies. If we fail to punish him directly and target only those around him, the crown prince will be further emboldened to take extreme actions. If we do punish him, which we must, Prince Mohammed, petulant and proud, is equally likely to behave more irresponsibly to demonstrate his independence and exact retribution against his erstwhile Western partners. Either way, the Trump administration must assume that Prince Mohammed will continue to drive his country and our bilateral relationship over the proverbial cliff.

Unfortunately, King Salman seems unwilling or unable to rein in his rogue son. With critics cowed into submission and rivals pushed aside, there is no obvious alternative-in-waiting who might provide Saudi Arabia with sober, responsible leadership.

Absent a change at the top, we should brace ourselves for a future in which Saudi Arabia is less stable and more difficult to govern. In this scenario, the potential risks to American security and economic interests would be grave. The United States was wrong to hitch our wagon to Prince Mohammed, but we would be even more foolish to continue to do so.

Looking ahead, Washington must act to mitigate the risks to our own interests. We should not rupture our important relationship with the kingdom, but we must make clear it cannot be business as usual so long as Prince Mohammed continues to wield unlimited power. It should be United States policy, in conjunction with our allies, to sideline the crown prince in order to increase pressure on the royal family to find a steadier replacement.

We should start by leading the push for an impartial international investigation into Mr. Khashoggi’s killing. We must be consistent and public in our judgment that the United States believes the killing could not have occurred without Prince Mohammed’s blessing or, more likely, his order.

Next, we should terminate all military support for the misbegotten Yemen campaign and pressure the Saudis to reach a negotiated settlement. We should immediately suspend all American arms sales to the kingdom and conduct a careful, comprehensive review of any future deliveries, halting all but those we determine, in close consultation with Congress, advance United States national security interests.

Finally, we should stop following Prince Mohammed down blind alleys and bring a healthy skepticism to our dealings with him, particularly any that require relying on his word or judgment.

We need to stop privileging Jared Kushner’s relationship with the crown prince, and finally fill the vacant ambassadorship to the kingdom, to engage with a broader range of senior Saudi officials. President Trump’s inexplicable infatuation with Prince Mohammed must end, and he must recalibrate American policy so that it serves our national interests — not his personal interests or those of the crown prince.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on FacebookTwitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

Susan E. Rice, the national security adviser from 2013 to 2017 and a former United States ambassador to the United Nations, is a contributing opinion writer. @AmbassadorRice

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Jamal Khashoggi’s Son Meets Saudi King And Crown Prince In Disgraceful Photo Op

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Jamal Khashoggi’s Son Meets Saudi King And Crown Prince In Disgraceful Photo Op

Salah Khashoggi likely had no real choice to refuse the man who allegedly ordered his father’s murder.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) shakes hands with Salah Khashoggi, son of Jamal Khashoggi, in Riyadh on Oct. 2

SAUDI PRESS AGENCY VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) shakes hands with Salah Khashoggi, son of Jamal Khashoggi, in Riyadh on Oct. 23, 2018.

Officials in Saudi Arabia summoned Salah Khashoggi, the eldest son of the late journalist Jamal Khashoggi, to a palace in Riyadh on Tuesday, where he posed for photos with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

While the Saudis claim that the son “expressed … great thanks to the Saudi King and Crown Prince for their condolences,” the pictures suggest otherwise, and with good reason.

Mohammed bin Salman reportedly ordered the operation that resulted in the death, allegedly by torture, of Jamal Khashoggi earlier this month. His body was allegedly then dismembered. Under international pressure, the Saudis admitted last week that Khashoggi died in an altercation in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist, was living in the U.S.

King Salam (right) speaks to Salah Khashoggi during the photo op.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
King Salam (right) speaks to Salah Khashoggi during the photo op.

Salah Khashoggi himself has been barred from leaving Saudi Arabia since last year because of his father’s criticism of the Saudi regime, a friend of the Khashoggi family told the Associated Press.

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Regardless of the intent behind the staged photos, the event didn’t sit well with observers on Twitter, many of whom noted its similarity to other forced photo ops with murderous tyrants:

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Jorge Guajardo

@jorge_guajardo

MBS meeting with Khasshogi’s son in Saudi Arabia (left) reminded me of Saddam Hussein meeting with foreign “guests” (unable to leave) in Iraq before Desert Storm.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Elizabeth Tsurkov

@Elizrael

The photo shoot of Khashoggi’s son with MbS, the man who probably ordered the murder of his father, reminds me of the time @WJoumblatt had to go meet Hafez al-Assad, shortly after apparently Hafez ordered the murder of Walid’s father, Kamal. Video: http://bit.ly/2R4wfwS 

Piers Morgan

@piersmorgan

REPULSIVE.
Saudi tyrant ‘MBS’ – aka Mohammed Bone Saw – forces Jamal Khashoggi’s son to do a PR photo-op handshake, days after ordering his father’s torture, dismemberment & murder.
A new low, even by the medieval standards of this barbaric crown prince.

Rula Jebreal

@rulajebreal

This is sickening! I’m outraged
The Saudi Regime is forcing Salah Jamal Khashoggi, Jamal Khashoggi’s own son, to shake the hand of the mastermind behind his father’s murderer.
The international community must pressure King Salman to lift the travel ban on Salah Jamal Khashoggi.

Ragıp Soylu

@ragipsoylu

BREAKING — Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince MbS met two members of #Khashoggi family, one of them is son Salah – SPA

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A Young Prince is Re-imagining Saudi Arabia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

A Young Prince is Reimagining Saudi Arabia

Two years into his campaign as change agent in this conservative oil kingdom, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appears to be gaining the confidence and political clout to push his agenda of economic and social reform.

The young prince outlined his plans in a nearly 90-minute conversation Tuesday night at his office here. Aides said it was his first lengthy on-the-record interview in months. He offered detailed explanations about foreign policy, plans to privatize oil giant Saudi Aramco, strategy for investment in domestic industry, and liberalization of the entertainment sector, despite opposition from some people.

Mohammed bin Salman said that the crucial requirement for reform is public willingness to change. “The most concerning thing is if the Saudi people are not convinced. If the Saudi people are convinced, the sky is the limit.” he said.

Change seems increasingly desired in this young, restless country.

A recent Saudi poll found that 85 percent of the public, if forced to choose, would support the government rather than other authorities, said Abdullah al-Hokail, the head of the government’s public opinion center.

He added that 77 percent of those surveyed supported the government’s “Vision 2030” reform plan, and that 82 percent favored entertainment performances at public gatherings. Though these aren’t independently verified numbers, they do indicate the direction of popular feeling, which Saudis say is matched by anecdotal evidence.

“MBS,” as the deputy crown prince is known, said that he was “very optimistic” about President Trump. He described Trump as “a president who will bring America back to the right track” after Barack Obama, whom Saudi officials mistrusted. “Trump has not yet completed 100 days, and he has restored all the alliances of the US with its conventional allies.”

A sign of the kingdom’s embrace of the Trump administration was the visit here this week by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. While the Obama administration had criticized the Saudi war in Yemen, Mattis discussed the possibility of additional US support if the Houthis there don’t agree to a UN-brokered settlement.

(Writer’s note: I traveled to Saudi Arabia as part of the press corps accompanying Mattis.)

Mohammed bin Salman has been courting Russia, as well as the United States, and he offered an intriguing explanation of Saudi Arabia’s goal in this diplomacy.

“The main objective is not to have Russia place all its cards in the region behind Iran,” he said. To convince Russia that Riyadh is a better bet than Tehran, the Saudis have been “coordinating our oil policies recently” with Moscow, he said, which “could be the most important economic deal for Russia in modern times.”

There’s less apparent political tension than a year ago, when many analysts saw a rivalry between Mohammed bin Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who is officially next in line for the throne.

The deputy crown prince appears to be firmly in control of Saudi military strategy, foreign policy and economic planning. He has gathered a team of technocrats who are much younger and more activist than the kingdom’s past leadership.

Reform plans appear to be moving ahead slowly but steadily. Mohammed bin Salman said that the budget deficit had been cut; non-oil revenue increased 46 percent from 2014 to 2016 and is forecast to grow another 12 percent this year. Unemployment and housing remain problems, he said, and improvement in those areas isn’t likely until between 2019 and 2021.

The biggest economic change is the plan to privatize about 5 percent of Saudi Aramco, which Mohammed bin Salman said will take place next year. This public offering would probably raise hundreds of billions of dollars and be the largest such sale in financial history. The exact size of the offering will depend on financial-market demand and the availability of good options for investing the proceeds, the prince told me.

The rationale for selling a share of the kingdom’s oil treasure is to raise money to diversify the economy away from reliance on energy. One priority is mining, which would tap an estimated $1.3 trillion in potential mineral wealth.

The Saudi official listed other investment targets: creating a domestic arms industry, reducing the $60 billion to $80 billion the kingdom spends annually to buy weapons abroad; producing automobiles in Saudi Arabia to replace the roughly $14 billion the government spends annually for imported vehicles; and creating domestic entertainment and tourism industries to capture some of the $22 billion that Saudis spend traveling overseas each year.

The entertainment industry is a proxy for the larger puzzle of how to unlock the Saudi economy. Changes have begun.

A Japanese orchestra performed here this month, before a mixed audience of families. A Comic Con took place in Jeddah recently, with audience dressing up as characters from the TV show “Supernatural” and other favorites. Comedy clubs feature sketch comedians (but no female stand-up comics, yet).

These options are a modest revolution for a Saudi Arabia where the main entertainment venues, until recently, were restaurants and shopping malls. The modern world, in all its raucousness, is coming, for better or worse.

King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh hosted a Monster Jam last month with souped-up trucks. There are plans for a Six Flags theme park south of Riyadh.

Maya al-Athel, one of the dozens of young people hatching plans at the Saudi General Entertainment Authority, said in an interview that she’d like to bring a Museum of Ice Cream, like one she found in New York, to the kingdom.

“We want to boost the culture of entertainment,” said Ahmed al-Khatib, a former investment banker who’s chairman of the entertainment authority. His target is to create six public entertainment options every weekend for Saudis. But the larger goal, he said, is “spreading happiness.”

The instigator of this attempt to reimagine the kingdom is the 31-year-old deputy crown prince. With his brash demeanor, he’s the opposite of the traditional Bedouin reserve of past Saudi leaders. Unlike so many Saudi princes, he wasn’t educated in the West, which may have preserved the raw combative energy that is part of his appeal for young Saudis.

The trick for Mohammed bin Salman is to maintain the alliance with the United States, without seeming to be America’s puppet. “We have been influenced by US a lot,” he said. “Not because anybody exerted pressure on us — if anyone puts pressure on us, we go the other way. But if you put a movie in the cinema and I watch it, I will be influenced.” Without this cultural nudge, he said, “we would have ended up like North Korea.” With the United States as a continuing ally, “undoubtedly, we’re going to merge more with the changes in the world.”

Mohammed bin Salman is careful when he talks about religious issues. So far, he has treated the religious authorities as allies against radicalism rather than cultural adversaries. He argues that extreme religious conservatism in Saudi Arabia is a relatively recent phenomenon, born in reaction to the 1979 Iranian revolution and the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by Sunni radicals later that year as a reaction to the Shi’ite radicalism.

“I’m young. Seventy percent of our citizens are young,” the prince said. “We don’t want to waste our lives in this whirlpool that we were in the past 30 years. We want to end this epoch now. We want, as the Saudi people, to enjoy the coming days, and concentrate on developing our society and developing ourselves as individuals and families, while retaining our religion and customs. We will not continue to be in the post-’79 era,” he concluded. “That age is over.”

The Washington Post