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The very bad decisions of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Trump Enables a Saudi Lie The case of Jamal Khashoggi is part of a larger and more disturbing pattern. Bloomberg, By  Eli Lake October 17, 2018, The Saudi narrative about the disappearance and likely murder of Jamal Khashoggi is shifting. Last week it was a blanket denial. Now there are hints of the O.J. Simpson defense: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is determined to find the real killers. He’s launched an investigation. Perhaps, as President Donald Trump said, this is the work of “rogue killers.”

Needless to say, this smells like the prelude to a big lie.

In the words of Senator Lindsey Graham, who has defended the U.S.-Saudi relationship for years: “Nothing happens in Saudi Arabia without MBS knowing it.” MBS, as the crown prince is known, was assuring Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that he would investigate even as his government was sending a cleaning crew to its consulate in Istanbul, which Turkish authorities say is a crime scene………

The stakes are high in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is an important ally against Iran, and the Trump administration is planning next month to implement sanctions on Iranian oil exports. Embarrassing the crown prince now could upend that strategy and undermine the U.S.-Saudi alliance. So it’s tempting to encourage the Saudis to find a scapegoat and go along with the cover story……….

It won’t work, though. Not only is the rogue killer theory implausible, it fails to address a far more serious impediment to the U.S.-Saudi relationship: the crown prince himself. There is “a whole litany of things where he appears to have taken very bad decisions,” notes Simon Henderson, a Saudi specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. In the last year, Crown Prince Mohammed has had the Canadian ambassador expelled over criticism of the arrest of women’s rights activists. He had the Lebanese prime minister detained and forced him to resign his post.

These are not the decisions of a steady-handed leader. Before Crown Prince Mohammed consolidated power and purged his rivals, there were restraints against his impulses. No longer. For all intents and purposes, MBS is now the Saudi state. And that is a problem a convenient story about rogue killers will not fix.



October 18, 2018 - Posted by | politics, Saudi Arabia

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