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Trump says he remains unsatisfied with Saudi accounts on Khashoggi


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Trump says he remains unsatisfied with Saudi accounts on Khashoggi

By Jeff Mason and David Dolan

 

2018-10-22T165214Z_2_LYNXNPEE9L14E_RTROPTP_4_SAUDI-KHASHOGGI-CCTV.JPG

A Still image taken from CCTV video and obtained by A News claims to show Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and his fiancee entering their residence on the day he disappeared in Istanbul, Turkey October 2, 2018. Courtesy A News/Handout via REUTERS

 

WASHINGTON/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he was still not satisfied with what he has heard from Saudi Arabia about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, but did not want to lose investment from Riyadh.

 

Trump said he had spoken with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the world's top oil exporter, and has teams in Saudi Arabia and Turkey working on the case. He said he will know more after they return to Washington on Monday night or Tuesday.

 

"I am not satisfied with what I've heard," Trump told reporters at the White House. "I don't want to lose all that investment that's been made in our country. But we're going to get to the bottom of it."

 

Trump has expressed reluctance to punish the Saudis economically, citing the kingdom's multibillion-dollar purchases of U.S. military equipment and investments in U.S. companies.

 

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of Prince Mohammed who lived in the United States, disappeared after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage.

 

Saudi Arabia initially denied knowledge of his fate before saying he had been killed in a fight in the consulate, an explanation that drew scepticism from several Western governments, straining relations with Riyadh.

 

Following the global outrage prompted by the journalist's disappearance, Trump's comments have varied from playing down Riyadh's role to warning of possible economic sanctions. He has repeatedly highlighted the kingdom's importance as a U.S. ally and said Prince Mohammed was a strong and passionate leader.

 

Over the weekend, as incredulity rose over Saudi Arabia's shifting explanations about Khashoggi's killing, Trump said he was not satisfied.

 

Turkish officials suspect Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate by Saudi agents. Turkish sources say authorities have an audio recording purportedly documenting the killing of the 59-year-old.

 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said he will release information about the investigation in a speech on Tuesday.

 

Earlier on Monday, Trump's son-in-law, White House adviser Jared Kushner, said in an interview on CNN that he had urged the crown prince to be transparent about Khashoggi and told him "the world is watching" Riyadh's account of the journalist's disappearance.

 

Kushner has cultivated a personal relationship with Prince Mohammed and urged Trump to act with caution to avoid upsetting a critical strategic and economic relationship, a senior administration official said.

 

On CNN, Kushner said he had told the crown prince, "This is a very, very serious accusation and a very serious situation."

 

Asked how Prince Mohammed responded, Kushner said: "We'll see."

 

ROGUE OPERATION

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, said Khashoggi had died in a rogue operation. But some of his comments did not match previous statements from Riyadh, marking yet another shift in the official story.

 

Several countries, including Germany, Britain, France and Turkey, have pressed Saudi Arabia to provide all the facts. Chancellor Angela Merkel said Berlin would not export arms to the kingdom while uncertainty over Khashoggi's fate persisted.

 

Omer Celik, the spokesman for Erdogan's AK Party, warned that the truth of the case would eventually be revealed.

 

"We are being careful so nobody tries to cover the issue up. The truth will come out," Celik told reporters. "We are facing a situation that has been monstrously planned and later tried to be covered up. It is a complicated murder."

 

A car belonging to the Istanbul consulate has been found in the city, broadcaster NTV and other local news media said on Monday, adding that police would search the vehicle.

 

CHOICE FOR SAUDI ALLIES

For Saudi Arabia's allies, the question will be whether they believe that Prince Mohammed, who has painted himself as a reformer, has any culpability. King Salman, 82, has handed the day-to-day running of Saudi Arabia to the 33-year-old prince.

 

Further complicating the narrative, the explanation by Jubeir, the foreign minister, differed in parts from previous official statements.

 

He said the Saudis did not know how Khashoggi had died. That contradicted the public prosecutor's statement a day earlier that Khashoggi died after a fistfight with people who met him inside the consulate. It also contradicted two Saudi officials' comments to Reuters that it was a chokehold that killed him.

 

A Saudi official has said that a member of the team dressed in Khashoggi's clothes to make it appear as if he had left the consulate.

 

Support for that strand of the account appeared to come from footage aired by CNN showing a man dressed as Khashoggi walking around Istanbul. CNN described the images as law enforcement surveillance footage.

 

On Saturday, Saudi state media said King Salman had fired five officials over the killing carried out by a 15-man hit team, including Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide who ran social media for Prince Mohammed. According to two intelligence sources, Qahtani ran Khashoggi's killing by giving orders over Skype.

 

In Moscow, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said talks were continuing with the Saudis about the incident.

 

"We want to get the truth, and not just talk. First of all, we need to know why he died. Who killed him? We want to get the full lowdown," Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy quoted Bolton as saying during a visit to Moscow.

 

In Riyadh, Prince Mohammed met with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and discussed "the importance of the Saudi-US strategic partnership," according to Saudi state media.

 

(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Susan Heavey in Washington; Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara and Daren Butler in Istanbul; Maxim Rodionov in Moscow; and Maher Chmaytelli in Dubai; Editing by Robin Pomeroy, Alistair Bell and Jonathan Oatis)

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2018-10-23
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What's interesting to me is that it very apparently took place inside the Saudi's own consulate.  I realize that it makes it easier for any Saudi operatives.  However, the chosen venue is surely a very incriminating one.  No need to call Sherlock Holmes on this one.  

 

One would think that with all of the money that one or more possible Saudis have, they could have paid for one or more professionals to do this in a less suspicious place and manner.  I think that such a plan would still get out the intended message, but it would be easier to deny and easier for Saudi friends and allies to pretend to buy.  

 

Or maybe, some Saudi or Saudis think the leverage that they perceive to have on the world's economy was enough? 

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What really cracked me up is the orange Buffon sent sent cia director haspel to Turkey dr haspel is a woman I don’t think that’s going to go over well what an incompetent fool

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2 hours ago, helpisgood said:

What's interesting to me is that it very apparently took place inside the Saudi's own consulate.  I realize that it makes it easier for any Saudi operatives.  However, the chosen venue is surely a very incriminating one.  No need to call Sherlock Holmes on this one.  

 

One would think that with all of the money that one or more possible Saudis have, they could have paid for one or more professionals to do this in a less suspicious place and manner.  I think that such a plan would still get out the intended message, but it would be easier to deny and easier for Saudi friends and allies to pretend to buy.  

 

Or maybe, some Saudi or Saudis think the leverage that they perceive to have on the world's economy was enough? 

I think the prince was angry and didn't give a damn.  He is probably selfish, self-centered, impetous and possibly not too smart; like Trump.

 

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Imagine MBS would go in front of the cameras and would tell the world something like this:

 

I ordered the killing. I didn't like him and I ordered the murder. And now what are you going to do?

 

As far as I see many politicians, especially in the so called West, want a strong Saudi Arabia with lots of arms and lots of local power. And until now all those who are now shocked about what happened ignored human rights violations - not that Saudi Arabia tried to hide them much.

 

What will the West do? What can they do if they don't want to hurt their own interests? Basically nothing!

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49 minutes ago, ReMarKable said:

I think the prince was angry and didn't give a damn.  He is probably selfish, self-centered, impetous and possibly not too smart; like Trump.

 

"MBS always said that he will cut off the fingers of every writer who criticises him,"

"They [the Saudi leadership] have the belief that arresting critics will mount pressure on them, so that's why they started assassinating them quietly,"

"The Firqat el-Nemr, or Tiger Squad, is well-known to the US intelligence services. It was formed more than a year ago and is comprised of 50 of the best-skilled intelligence and military operatives in the kingdom."

https://www.middleeasteye.net/tiger-squad-saudi-hitmen-khashoggi-mbs

 

"Why the outrage?" 

According to the newspaper, bin Salman was perplexed and angry that the incident had escalated into a diplomatic crisis.

He called Mr Kushner. "Why the outrage, the Prince asked in English. He couldn’t understand why government officials and business leaders were now boycotting rather than praising him."

https://www.gladstoneobserver.com.au/news/saudi-arabias-crown-prince-couldnt-understand-why-/3556645/

 

"US President Donald Trump has defended Prince Mohammed's leadership and praised him for having 'very good control' – but added in an interview: 'Obviously there's been deception and there's been lies. Their stories are all over the place.'

 

More than two weeks after Jamal Khashoggi was murdered, Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman offered their condolences to his family. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs released this official image to announce the news 

 

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1 hour ago, OneMoreFarang said:

Imagine MBS would go in front of the cameras and would tell the world something like this:

 

I ordered the killing. I didn't like him and I ordered the murder. And now what are you going to do?

 

As far as I see many politicians, especially in the so called West, want a strong Saudi Arabia with lots of arms and lots of local power. And until now all those who are now shocked about what happened ignored human rights violations - not that Saudi Arabia tried to hide them much.

 

What will the West do? What can they do if they don't want to hurt their own interests? Basically nothing!

What nobody wants is a psychopath running Saudi Arabia. Look what he has already done - started an unwinnable war in Yemen with huge human rights infringement, polarised the Middle East against Qatar, alientated Canada and now committed an extrajudicial murder and, if the stories are true, grizzly torture in a foreign country - and the guy has only been in power for about two years!

 

There are many things that can be done. Western sanctions for one. Remember that the King and Crown Prince survive only on the basis of significant support from the Royal Household. And those guys make money abroad. Cut off from their money or money-making would not go down well.

 

Yes, China could come in and Russia to an extent but to turn their backs on the USA and EU would be at such a cost.

 

Of course, the Dear Leader Trump has kinda walked himself into a corner with respect to oil - in November Iran oil sanctions will come into play and normally Saudi would play along by releasing more oil into the market to stabilise the price. But Trump, not being able to think ahead, is now boxed into having to go along with the Saudis.

 

Having said that, while the middle class Saudis are apparently very much behind the Crown Prince (he gave their wives permission to drive, and them to have music concerts and films etc), this is not true with the royalty and gentry generally. And this will decide who ultimately gets to rule, The King has before sacked two crown princes - he could always sack a third.

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20 minutes ago, Proboscis said:

 

There are many things that can be done. Western sanctions for one. Remember that the King and Crown Prince survive only on the basis of significant support from the Royal Household. And those guys make money abroad. Cut off from their money or money-making would not go down well.

One form of sanctions being called for, for years is suspension of arms... until SA improve it human rights.

 

Unfortunately Trump has made it clear that he is not interested in participating.

 

Maybe time for those countries who want to do this should do it anyway, and black list arms manufactures who continue to supply SA.

 

Another option for sanctions that will hurt is oil production equipment. 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Proboscis said:

What nobody wants is a psychopath running Saudi Arabia.

Why not? usa has one running their country already 😉  usa and Saudi are best buddies, right? Same same, not so different....

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1 hour ago, JulesMad said:

Why not? usa has one running their country already 😉  usa and Saudi are best buddies, right? Same same, not so different....

No! The USA is the world leading democracy, didn't you know that?

They tell the rest of the world all the time how to behave better so that one day, if they really really work hard, they can archive the zenith - as good as the USA.

555

 

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