In this post, I’m going to take a 40,000-foot view of the Khashoggi affair, to clarify some things as the Trump propaganda machine swings into action.
Jamal Khashoggi was a citizen of Saudi Arabia and resident of the United States. He was a critic of the Saudi regime and a columnist for the Washington Post. On October 2, he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and has not been seen since. A 15-man Saudi group, including a forensic pathologist with a bone saw, entered Turkey just before Khashoggi disappeared and left just afterwards. The Saudi consul has left Turkey and has not been available to the press. Evidence is available that suggests that Khashoggi was tortured, killed, and dismembered.
Official statements from the Saudi government have denied that they had anything to do with Khashoggi’s probable murder. Government statements have also threatened economic and political retaliation.
The Turkish government has some information about what happened in the Saudi consulate. They have been dribbling it out with the apparent intention of embarrassing the Saudis.
The United States might be expected to be a mediator between Turkey and Saudi Arabia and to press for information about Khashoggi’s fate. President Donald Trump has now almost admitted that it is probable that Khashoggi is dead, but he has vacillated about how that might have happened, bringing in the implausible idea that “rogue killers” might have been responsible. He has said he accepts the Saudi denials.
Trump dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Riyadh to speak to King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), who runs the country. Pompeo has said that he did not see Turkey’s evidence, but media reports are that he did and brought copies back to the United States. Trump has now tweeted that this is “FAKE NEWS.” Other media reports conflict with Pompeo’s words and each other as to what was said in the meeting with MBS. Pompeo’s jolly smiles and exuberant handshakes in the official photos seem out of place.
Conservatives have started a whispering campaign to the effect that Khashoggi was a bad guy. Whispering campaigns of this type have been precursors to justifying otherwise unjustifiable Trump stands. Read more