The US support for Saudi Arabia appears to be endless.
On November 20th, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo followed up on Trump’s statement on the Khashoggi murder.
Pompeo spoke after a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Washington. He said that the US was obligated to adopt policies that further its national security interests, which is understandable. This expectedly includes endlessly supporting the Kingdom’s conduct.
“As the president said today, the United States will continue to have a relationship with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Pompeo said. “This is a long, historic commitment and one that is absolutely vital to Americans’ national security.”
“It’s a mean, nasty world out there — the Middle East in particular. There are important American interests. To keep the American people safe. To protect Americans … It is the president’s obligation … to ensure we adopt policies that further America’s national security,” Pompeo said.
In the days leading up to this anonymous US intelligence sources claimed that the CIA concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi. Pompeo said he could not comment on intelligence matters. Trump commented that regardless if whether King Salman or MbS played a role that doesn’t change the fact that Saudi Arabia is a valuable ally.
“When America has the information, it needs it will of course do the right thing to protect American interests and we have done so every time,” Pompeo said.
Bob Baer, a former CIA case officer who primarily dealt in the Middle East told CNN’s Jake Tapper that the US purposely muted its response to Khashoggi’s murder, despite mounting evidence. “We’ve always turned a blind eye to what’s going on in Saudi Arabia.”
“The chances that Mohammed bin Salman ordered this, we’re hitting 100%,” Baer further said.
On November 19th, the Middle East Eye reported that Mike Pompeo allegedly provided the Saudi side with a plan to shield MbS for blame. All of what the Kingdom has undertaken sice then is presumably part of the plnan. If it is so, it appears that the plan is backfiring.
On November 20th, Saudi foreign minister Adel Jubeir said that the allegations, including the CIA ones, linking the Crown Prince to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are false.
“We in the kingdom know that such allegations about the crown prince have no basis in truth and we categorically reject them,” al-Jubeir was quoted. “They are leaks that have not been officially announced, and I have noticed that they are based on an assessment, not conclusive evidence,” he said.
On November 19th, King Salman also praised MbS, without mentioning Khashoggi’s murder. Reuters also cited anonymous sources that claimed some members of the royal family are attempting to prevent the Crown Prince’s ascension to the crown. None of these rumors have been confirmed.
On November 19th, a Turkish news website published quotes and the identities of some speakers in two audio recordings claiming that they represent the last moments of Jamal Khashoggi.
Habertürk columnist Çetiner Çetin cited unnamed Turkish security sources, claiming that the first recording showed Khashoggi was seized by the Saudi hit squad immediately after entering the Kingdom’s consulate on October 2nd.
“Release my arm! What do you think you are doing?” Khashoggi was heard saying. The quarrel between Khashoggi and four members of the hit squad could be heard in this recording for seven minutes, according to the report.
Beside the four men, three more people could be heard in the recording, other than Khashoggi. According to the report, Turkish security sources concluded that one of them is Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, the alleged leader of the team who had traveled extensively with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The other man is Saudi Consul Mohammad al-Otaibi, the third one is still unidentified.
“Traitor! You will be brought to account!’” Mutreb is heard saying in the second recording. Past that there are 11 minutes of sounds of beatings and tortures, after which 1 hour and 15 minutes of silence. “It is spooky to wear the clothes of a man whom we killed 20 minutes ago,” 57-year-old Saudi engineer Mustafa al-Modaini is then allegedly heard saying.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that the Saudi Consulate was not bugged by Turkey.
“The consulate was not bugged. We cannot reveal the source of the audio recordings,” he said. When he was asked whether Turkey would make the recordings public he answered: “At the moment, no. But it depends on the situation, according to the developments, under the control of the prosecutor.”
On November 20th, Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), a parliamentary ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, likened the Saudi leaders to Osama bin Laden. Further claiming that “the net was closing” around the Crown Prince over the murder.
“I ask you, what difference remains between Saudi Arabia’s administration and the mentality of Osama bin Laden? What separates this country from al Qaeda?” Bahceli said. “The circle is closing in for the crown prince, the paths of escape and salvation are closing.”
President Tayyip Erdogan has said the killing was ordered at the “highest levels” of the Kingdom’s leadership but did not directly point the finger at MbS. Bahceli, however, did.
The scheme is beginning to unravel; however, it is apparent that besides Germany banning all arms sales to Saudi Arabia and sanctioning some individuals, no other repercussions will befall the Kingdom.