Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir can — make that “should” — no longer keep his job after what he told Fox News anchor Bret Baier.
Mr. al-Jubeir’s English is impeccable. His very presence exudes intelligence and refinement. Yet, you could hear the discord jar your ear when in effect he told Mr. Baier that neither the Saudi royals nor their government ordered or authorized the murder of Saudi royal family adviser and Washington Post opinion-page contributor Jamal Khashoggi, who had a fatal habit of criticizing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in print.
“This was an operation that was a rogue operation,” Mr. al-Jubeir told Mr. Baier in an interview on Sunday.
With a Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude in political science and economics from the University of North Texas in 1982 and an Master of Arts in international relations from Georgetown University in 1984, Mr. al-Jubeir knows rogue from legit.
“This was an operation where individuals ended up exceeding the authorities and responsibilities they had — they made the mistake when they killed Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate, and they tried to cover up for it,” said Mr. al-Jubeir who is 56 but looks closer to 26.
You could almost hear His Royal Highness, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad, whispering in Mr. al-Jubeir’s ear: Tell this guy Baier the perps in that traitor Khashoggi’s murder had no ties to me.
Remember that Crown Prince Mohammad is deputy prime minister — his sickly dad the king has the title of prime minister. Crown Prince Mohammad is also his kingdom’s minister of defense, chairman of its Council of Political and Security Affairs and chairman of its Council for Economic and Development Affairs.
No leaf dares fall from a tree anywhere in the kingdom without a nod from his royal highness, who runs all things and all people all the time in his country (where it’s axiomatic that you don’t mess with Mohammad).
Again, he rules on behalf of his ailing father, King Salman, who designated him crown prince.
Now it had to be Crown Prince Mohammad who ordered Mr. al-Jubeir to add, in his Baier interview, that none of the 15 hit men — named and photographed by Turkish authorities — involved in Mr. Khashoggi’s death had “close” ties to Crown Prince Mohammed. A Saudi TV news channel said the 15 were simply tourists. Nine of them are said to be members of the kingdom’s security forces, and one or more of them to serve in the Saudi Royal Guard, which does what its implies.
“There were not people closely tied to him” is the way the foreign secretary put it to Mr. Baier.
Why it “had to be” Crown Prince Mohammad who ordered Mr. al-Jabeir to utter that cock and bull? Because Mr. al-Jubeir not only got his college and post-grad education in the Texas and Virginia but served as ambassador to the U.S. from 2007 to 2015. The poor fellow spent way too much time in the U.S. and has too much gray matter to think anyone else in the world besides his boss would buy the kaleidoscopically changing, cock-and-bull stories coming out of the mouths of Saudi royals and their scared-for-their-lives servants in the ranks of the government and police in Riyadh.
Unfortunately for Mr. al-Jubeir, a foreign minister caught lying in public — let alone lying about an assassination his boss either ordered or didn’t know about and therefore shouldn’t be boss — has destroyed his own credibility and rendered himself detrimental to his country’s cause in the capacity of foreign secretary.
Salvaging credibility is a task that will fall to many people at risk of collateral damage from the still-evolving absurdities cascading from the lips of the royals in Riyadh.