- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 20, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

This is over-the-top absurd.

Now the Saudi royals are claiming Jamal Khashoggi died as a result of a fist fight in the Saudi consulate 18 days ago?

Oh come on, your royal highnesses and your excellencies. Surely you can find someone among your family members or brainy advisers to come up with a less-absurd attempt to explain how Mr. Khashoggi wound up dead in your Istanbul consulate.

President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo, intent on preserving the Saudi spy network that is believed to keep the U.S. safe from another 9/11, felt forced to suck it in.

For the sake of national security, preserving a useful ally in the Middle East and holding on to hundreds of millions of dollars in Saudi arms purchases from the U.S. and the jobs those sales create — not to mention oil-price stability — Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo went to the mat.

They felt forced to embarrass themselves and the United States —all for the greater good — by pretending they really believed the Saudis would actually investigate the murder that Turkish authorities accused them of having committed.

President Trump believed he had no choice but to give you Saudi royals all this time to dream up a plausible explanation for what happened to the Saudi critic of the King Salman’s absolute monarchy.

The only plausible answer still appears to be that Crown Prince Mohammad ibn Salman ordered a 15-man Saudi assassination squad to fly to Turkey to murder Mr. Khashoggi.

Turkey says it has video of the members, their plane and their cars.

And, as claimed by Turkish authorities, the Saudi team stationed their own medical specialist in the consulate to direct the dismemberment of Mr. Khashoggi’s body.

Or maybe the crown prince didn’t know about the assassination. Therefore he isn’t really in charge of the kingdom and so should be replaced.

Either Crown Prince Mohammed is a ruthless, bloodthirsty bumbler or just a bumbler.

How else to explain what all available evidence points to? Mr. Khashoggi had permanent-residence status in the U.S. and contributed an opinion column regularly to a major American newspaper, the Washington Post.

He was involved in Saudi intelligence work, knew Osama bin Laden — but tried to get him to reconcile with the Saudi royal family years ago — and did advise Saudi royalty before King Salman took power in 2015.

Given all this, why would anyone with a modicum of intelligence think doing away with Mr. Khashoggi in such an obvious, traceable, headline-inviting way was smart?

For societies that value the rule of law and the ultimate worth of the individual, murdering a critic of the government is unjustifiable and unacceptable. That’s not Saudi Arabia.

Had Mr. Khashoggi not been living in the U.S. and writing for a U.S. paper, it would be appropriate for the U.S. administration to go only so far as to condemn his assassination. But he was here, seeking refuge from harm from his native country.

Had he not received permanent residency here, it would also be appropriate to say it’s not up to the U.S. to demand that another sovereign nation deal with dissenters the way America does — or else.

But he was living in the U S. — in northern Virginia.

As for his royal highness, the crown prince, either he’s in charge and ordered the murder or it happened under his nose and he’s derelict.

Either way, it is his action or his ignorance that has put President Trump in a box.

Either way, as Sen. Lindsay Graham has said, Crown Prince Mohammad must go.

Holding the sickly King Salman, the ultimate power in the kingdom, responsible just isn’t practical.

I can’t wait to see what happens next. It’s enough to make you shudder.


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